Trump attacks Syria

Bashar_al-Assad

UPDATE:  President Trump pulled the trigger on attacking Syria.  Some 59 cruise missiles hit an airfield suspected of storing chemical weapons.  The President  called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world,” he continued. “We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as America stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”

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Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched chemical weapons on his rebellious citizens, killing 70 men, women, children, and babies.  Now President Trump is considering an attack on Syria.

Would you consider this a violation of his campaign pledge to keep us out of foreign wars?  Or does the heinous nature of Assad’s atrocity justify an exception?  A few air strikes would be short of a war.  Would you support that response?

At any rate, Trump is now denouncing Assad and supporting regime change.  That also has him opposing Vladimir Putin, the Russians being Assad’s major ally.

Trump is also rattling the saber over North Korea, threatening to take action on our own in response to its ballistic missile testa, if China does not intervene.  Other presidents have ignored Kim Jong-un’s threats, saying he is a madman.  As if it were some kind of consolation to consider that a dictator armed with nuclear weapons is insane.

 Then again, Trump also campaigned that he would reverse American “weakness.”  Should America throw its weight around a little more overseas, assuming its traditional role as world leader and quasi-policeman?  Or do you think Trump is starting to embrace neo-conservativism, which believes in promoting democracy around the world through American power?

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What Germany is doing for Luther’s 500th Anniversary

Stadtkirche_Wittenberg_Marktplatz_mit_Rathaus_11_CGermany has lots going on for the 500th Anniversary year of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses.  The country has spiffed itself up (though Germany is always pretty spiffy), is sponsoring lots of Luther exhibits, and has launched special non-Luther things to see and do.

Travel writer Rick Steves tells “What’s new in Germany” after the jump.  This includes an exhibit on Luther’s life and times in Wittenberg, an exhibit on Luther’s influence on Germany in Wartburg, and an exhibit on Luther’s global influence in Berlin.

Steves goes on to tell about other good reasons to visit Germany and Eastern Europe in 2017.

At one point, we were discussing sponsoring a Cranach tour this year in conjunction with Lori Lewis and the fans of her Katie Luther opera.  But that possibility has fallen through.  But if you want to be in Wittenberg for the anniversary year, go here. [Read more…]

Saying Christ is the only way to God is “abusive and criminal”?

coexist-1211709_640Two British street preachers were arrested for publicly reading the Bible, particularly the parts about Jesus being the only way to God.

In their trial, the prosecutor said,“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.”

The prosecutor apparently thought that those teachings were just quirks of the King James translation of the Bible, rather than basic doctrines of Christianity.  He said, “to use words translated in 1611 in a very different context, in the context of modern British society, must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”

The court agreed, sentencing the two Christians to a fine of £2,016 each ($2,452.42). [Read more…]

Is Russia seeding our shoreline with nuclear weapons?

Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001Former Russian defense ministry spokesman Viktor Baranetz is claiming that “we are quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles (they dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command).”

The context of his article in Pravda is that Russia is responding to U.S. military buildups and the prospect of even more defense spending by President Trump, which Baranetz describes as “buying the support” of the military-industrial complex.

A Kremlin spokesman dismissed the account of this “seeding” of nuclear weapons, but of course he would.

Vladimir Putin is said to want to warm up to President Trump, to the point, some say, of helping him get elected, with both presidents supposedly seeking some kind of alliance.  But the Russian military seems increasingly hostile to the U.S., with their planes buzzing our ships and other provocative actions, including stories like this.  Perhaps Russia has factional conflicts within its government also.

But maybe it isn’t the case that Russia is on one side or the other.  Maybe it just wants to create havoc.

Whether this story is true or not, the very prospect of nuclear mines/missiles reminds us that nuclear war is still a possibility, and that a country–or a group of terrorists–does not necessarily need high-tech missiles or aircraft to attack us with nuclear weapons. [Read more…]

Converts to “religion of freedom” are boosting church attendance in Europe

refugees-A-INThe Muslim immigrants converting to Christianity are having a noticeable effect on church growth and church attendance in Europe.  (See this, this, and this.)

For the last few decades, churches have been almost empty on Sunday mornings. But congregations that have evangelized Muslims are coming back to life.  For example, theTrinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, which we have blogged about, used to have 150 parishioners.  Now they have 700.

The phenomenon has spread to England.  One Anglican bishop says that one out of four of the confirmations he performs are for Muslims converting to Christianity.

Two stories from British sources after the jump.  They give some inspiring testimonies about how some of these immigrants came to Christ.  A common theme:  the realization that Christianity is “the religion of freedom.”

I suppose there is a connection between the freedom of religion and the religion of freedom! [Read more…]

President Trump’s new travel ban

Immigration_Ban_Protest_at_ORD_08President Trump has issued a revised travel and immigration ban.  This one is  designed to pass legal muster after his first executive order on the issue was struck down by the courts.  It is also designed to avoid other problems raised by the first order.

The new policy will allow visitors and immigrants from Iraq, responding to military requests that Iraqis who helped U.S. forces whose lives may now be in danger be taken care of.  Now citizens of only six countries will be denied visas for 90 days:  Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.  The U.S. refugee resettlement program will be suspended for 120 days.

The measure also removes the provision that allowed exceptions for religious minorities escaping persecution.  Thus, the courts can no longer construe it as being biased towards Christians and discriminatory against Muslims.

The new order also addresses the implementation problems of the first version.  Those who already hold visas or permanent resident cards will not be affected.  And the new policy will not go into effect until March 16, giving border agents time to prepare for the new measures.

Do you think this new executive order will get through the courts?  Is it now reasonable and just?  Will it still provoke outrage?

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