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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

God, the Bible, Forrest Gump, Dubya's Memoir and the Multiverse

There is a poignant scene in the movie Forrest Gump, where Forrest is standing before Jenny's grave and talking to her as if she were still alive. In the course of his soliloquy, Forrest muses about one of the greatest questions to confront humankind: Is everything that happens to us just random chance or is there a direction and purpose behind it all? For his momma, life was like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. For Lieutenant Dan, life was supposed to follow a predictable course - his surviving the loss of his legs wasn't supposed to happen.

Forrest concludes: "Jenny, I don't know if Momma was right or if, if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time."

I recently posted a piece about Divine intervention that goes to the heart of this question. In that post, I recounted how my niece had survived a tornado only to die in an ATV accident a few years later. The post, of course, elicited a number of comments that zeroed in on the chance or destiny dilemma and underscored the fact that we tend to see things as either/or propositions - a choice between two options or extremes.

In religious circles, the question is often framed as one of predestination vs free will. Indeed, this question has occupied religious thinkers throughout human history and has engendered distinct camps within the Christian community. And, as with many other questions, both sides in the debate appeal to the Bible to support their position.

This debate, however, has not been confined to religious circles. Psychology Today frames the debate in these terms: "Do humans have the ability to make their own choices and determine their own fates—a concept more commonly known as free will? Or our people's futures determined solely by powers outside of their control, like the physics and biology of the brain? The question of free will has long challenged philosophers and religious thinkers, and scientists have examined the problem from psychological, biological, and genetic perspectives."

In another article on their website, Dr. William Klemm discusses The Practical Meaning of Free Will. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201902/the-practical-meaning-free-will He relates that the general consensus seems to be that there is no such thing as free will. He cautions, however, that "Those who have already decided against free will frame the issue so that no other conclusion can be drawn." He offers the following as proof of this assertion: "For example, people will say that every action or event has a cause. Therefore, the event was determined and did not occur 'freely.'” Klemm continues: "Another argument is that every action or event has a certain probability of occurrence, ranging from zero to 100% chance that it will occur. Thus, the argument is that anything that can occur will occur, eventually. If it has a low probability, happening may just take a long time. It does not require being willed into existence."

Klemm goes on to imagine a debate between a generic "determinist" and "free-will believer." He redefines the terms so that the debate between the two sides can continue on a more even footing, and the free-will believers actually have a chance of winning it. He writes: "As for 'free' will, or 'free' won’t, the premise is that one has two or more available choices and that nothing compels selection of one over the other."

It seems to be almost self-evident that many of us think in these terms - that our lives consist of a number of choices between available options. Indeed, even former President George W. Bush framed his tenure in the Oval Office in terms of Decision Points. But the questions remain: Are these choices an illusion? Do we really have free will?

What happens to the debate, however, if we introduce a concept that has been promoted by more and more cosmologists in recent years - the multiverse? Long time readers of this blog know that I have been fascinated by this theory since reading Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark a few years back.

It is not my purpose in this post to discuss the merits of the Multiverse Theory. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that this is a legitimate thesis within the scientific community. The notion that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes is not easily refuted or dismissed by those who study such questions, and a significant number of them have concluded that it offers the most reasonable explanation of the true reality of the space which we inhabit.

In Our Mathematical Universe, Tegmark summarizes the implications of his hypothesis thus: "In an infinite space created by inflation, everything that can happen according to the laws of physics does happen. And it happens an infinite number of times. This means that there are parallel universes where you never get a parking ticket, where you have a different name, where you've won a million-dollar lottery, where Germany won World War II, where dinosaurs still roam Earth, and where Earth never formed in the first place." p. 123, Our Mathematical Universe, by Max Tegmark, published in New York by Alfred A. Knopf in 2014

In this model, there is another you out there with the same name and life story up to this moment in time. One (or more) of you decide to finish reading this post while another one (or more) of you decide not to finish it. Each one of your decisions branches off into an infinite number of potentialities, and this phenomenon is further complicated by the fact that everyone around you is experiencing the same thing!

Think about that for a moment. Doesn't that have some very interesting implications for the debate between those who believe in free will and those who hold a determinist view? I find it extremely interesting that both the Bible and modern scientific thought point in the same direction - that Forrest Gump had it right. I think maybe it's both. What do you think?


Saturday, February 16, 2019

It's Funny How One Insect Can Damage So Much Grain!

The title of this post was borrowed from the lyrics of Elton John's Empty Garden (a reference to the senseless assassination of John Lennon). This line, nevertheless, seemed to me to precisely convey the very negative impact that one Herbert W Armstrong had on me and my family.

I hope that what follows will serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who might be interested in joining one of the many splinter groups that formed as a consequence of the disintegration of Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God (or any other group which claims to have THE TRUTH). It is also my hope that what follows will serve those who are currently involved in one of those splinter groups and be a comfort to others who have left the movement.

I was introduced to the Worldwide Church as a small child in the mid 1960's by my father. He listened to HWA and his son, Garner Ted, on a small transistor radio that rested on the headboard of his bed. My younger brother and I would lie across the bed beside him and listen along to the "World Tomorrow" broadcast. Nevertheless, as my father was a divorced man with two small children and still living with his parents, he felt that he was unworthy and/or unable to make the necessary commitment to God and "His Church."

My father, however, never lost his conviction that HWA had rediscovered "TRUE" Christianity, and that he and his son were the only folks preaching the "TRUE" Gospel message. Among the more important elements of their message were their teachings that Christians should observe the Jewish Sabbath, eschew the observance of "pagan" holidays (e.g. Christmas, Easter, etc.), follow the dietary rules of the Old Testament, interpret the Bible literally and reject anything that wasn't specifically stated in Scripture, understand that God was "reproducing" Himself, and that the English speaking peoples of the earth represented the modern descendants of Israel. And, despite his reluctance to formally join the group, my father believed and taught these "TRUTHS" to me and my brother.

As a teen, I began to study my father's belief system independently of him and in greater detail. I studied Armstrong's booklets and "Bible Correspondence Course" and eventually became convinced that my father had been right about Armstrong and his "TRUTHS." I began attending the Worldwide Church on Saturdays and refused to eat any "unclean" meats (pork, shellfish, etc.). I also stopped celebrating Christmas (which had been a very important family celebration prior to that). Thus, within a relatively short span of time, I had convinced Armstrong's ministry that I had swallowed their teachings hook, line and sinker and was consequently baptized at the tender age of seventeen.

Looking back on those events, I am amazed at how selfish, self-centered and bigoted I was. My poor grandparents adjusted to my new religion without protest. My grandmother stopped cooking with pork. My grandfather left the Christmas decorations in the attic and pretended not to mind the sudden disappearance of his favorite holiday. They also quickly accepted and adjusted to the fact that I would no longer do my chores on God's Sabbath (we were commanded to rest on that day) - though my grandfather was still working full-time and my grandmother had severe rheumatoid arthritis and numerous other health problems). My younger brother ceased to get Christmas gifts.

All of this was further complicated by the fact that I was a closeted homosexual desperately trying to deny the reality of who I was and to whom I was attracted. In Armstrongism, homosexuality was a wicked perversion - a willful choice to live a sinful life. Homosexuals were referred to from the pulpit as queers and sissies. Indeed, my own father had parroted this kind of language!

Needless to say, I certainly didn't want to disappoint God, break His commands or shame my father and grandparents with such behavior! Add to all of this the fact that HWA expected his followers to date within the church, and I was pretty much destined to be a very frustrated, unhappy and lonely young man.

Fate, however, intervened. After actively considering attending the church's private college (Ambassador College at their Pasadena, California headquarters), I made the decision to attend two public colleges. And, while attending one of them, I met a beautiful and intelligent young lady who was actually willing to talk to me and appeared to be interested in me! We began dating, and I began to imagine that I might be able to overcome the wickedness inside of me and have a "normal" life.

It wasn't long, however, until my conscience got the better of me. I was being a hypocrite. I was attending church and dating someone who wasn't a member! I confessed my sin to the ministry and was promptly disfellowshipped (a kind of excommunication).

I was terrified. The gates of hell yawned before me! I was on the outside of God's "ONE TRUE CHURCH." How could I survive being cut off from God and His people? I broke up with the young lady. She was bewildered, and I was a hot mess!

In the meantime, however, my father had remarried and joined the Church of God International (founded by Garner Ted after he was himself kicked out of his father's church). He wrote me and assured me that God had not abandoned me and told me that I should not lose hope. To make a long story short, I eventually reconciled with the girl and began attending my father's church.

Even so, my suppressed homosexuality did not magically disappear over the years that followed. Though I prayed about it constantly, averted my eyes and remained physically faithful to the splendid lady that I had married, my sexual orientation did not change. Hence, although we had two beautiful daughters together, the marriage eventually collapsed under the weight of my self-denial and awful secret.

To make matters worse, when I finally came out of the closet, my father revealed to me that he had always suspected that I was gay. Moreover, although I had been writing for church publications and speaking to their congregations for years, I was suddenly persona non grata, My father, who had by this time been a licensed minister of CGI for many years, not only supported the anti-gay sermons of his associates and friends, he also gave sermons along the same lines.

Thus, although my dad has assured me that he still loves me, he remains firmly convinced that the major components of Armstrong's teachings (including those against homosexuality) are THE TRUTH. As a consequence, my relationship with my father (once very close) has suffered tremendously.

And, even though I left the Worldwide Church in 1985, and Herbert Armstrong died less than a year later, the damage which he inflicted on me and my family is still being felt in February of 2019. Yes, it's funny how one insect can damage so much grain

Saturday, February 2, 2019

When God Intervenes

We had been living in a trailer on three acres in northern Alabama since my discharge from the United States Army less than two years before. My brother and his three children were visiting with us at the time. As a consequence, there were three adults and five children sleeping peacefully that dark February night - completely unaware of the storm that was rapidly approaching them from the west.

Then, just before sunrise, we were wakened by a loud roaring sound. I knew in the same instant that I opened my eyes that a tornado was bearing down upon us. There was no time to flee, and there wasn't any basement or storm cellar to shelter in if there had been. The adults hovered over the children in the hallway, and I quickly asked God to protect them. The prayer had taken seconds - that's all the time we had before it hit.

A window shattered at the other end of the trailer, and the floor beneath us moved. The sounds around us were deafening. It was a horrible combination of freight train, roaring, groaning, creaking, snapping and shredding. And then, there was silence and complete blackness. What had seemed like an eternity to us had only taken seconds in real time, but we had somehow been spared.

Nevertheless, as the sun began to dawn over the horizon, the destruction around us came into sharp focus. The trailer just to the north of us had been obliterated. The house directly across the street had lost its roof. Many of the loblolly pine trees directly behind my trailer, some of them two feet in diameter, had been snapped in half like twigs; and the house on the other side of them had also lost its roof. The power lines and the poles which supported them were down, and a stack of fifteen sheets of 3/4 inch plywood that had been lying in my yard were gone without a trace. It was as if a great hand had reached down out of the sky and held my trailer in place.

The first sound that greeted us when we opened the door to the world outside was someone crying for help. My brother and I eventually traced the cries to the wreckage of my neighbor's trailer and discovered her pinned beneath her car. We helped some of our other neighbors load her onto what had been one of the interior doors of her own trailer a few minutes before and carried her to the back of a pickup truck for the trip to the hospital. A few houses up the street from me, folks were pulling another one of my neighbors out of a mangled tree in what had been his yard.

We learned later that three people had died in the storm and one hundred more had been injured. After evaluating all of the evidence, the experts reported that we had lived through an F3 tornado with winds ranging from 158 to 206 miles per hour.

Some folks said that we were lucky, but I knew that we had experienced a miraculous answer to prayer. Still, I wondered why God had answered my prayers for protection and had apparently not heeded the prayers of others. I knew that I wasn't the most righteous man who had been in the way of that tornado, and that other innocent children had been hurt by it. Why had God chosen to protect us but not them?

And, less than nine years later, one of the children whom God had protected that day in my trailer was killed in an ATV accident. I will never forget that anguished phone call from my brother. His daughter, my beloved niece, was fighting for her life.

I was stunned. How could the same God who had intervened to protect her from that tornado not have intervened in this instance? I had prayed that God would protect those children from hurt and harm a thousand times, but this had happened anyway!

Lauren and her friend had been riding an ATV together that January day when she had topped a gentle rise in the road and crashed head-on into a tree. She was just a few days shy of her fifteenth birthday. She had her whole life before her.

My father and his best friend (a pastor) prayed earnestly together for his granddaughter's recovery. Then, as they finished praying, they remembered the other little girl who had been hurt in the accident. Ashamed that they had forgotten about her, they both sent up a quick petition on her behalf - asking God to also heal her. Even so, that little girl recovered, but Lauren did not.

Why had God heard the prayer that could justly be described as an afterthought for a stranger and had not listened to their earnest pleas for my father's beloved granddaughter? Why had God protected her from that tornado only to let her die a few years later in this horrible accident? Had her survival of the tornado only been a random coincidence after all and not the Divine miracle which I had supposed it to be?

Even more mysteriously, Lauren had had some kind of premonition that she would die young and had expressed her desire that her organs be donated to help others in that event. Hence, at her death, her organs were harvested and helped at least four other individuals to live longer, healthier lives.

Is there some lesson in all of this? Was everything that happened to our family random chance or was their some purpose and design behind it all? Did God intervene in both instances or was it all just the outcome of a random roll of the dice? I don't have all of the answers to these questions, but I still believe that God is out there listening. What do you think?

**The Joppa, Alabama Tornado occurred on Thursday February 16, 1995; and Lauren died on Sunday January 4, 2004. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

On Being Human

Is it irrational to believe in god(s), scriptures, religious rituals or things spiritual/supernatural? Is the complete rejection of such beliefs indicative of the achievement of rational maturity? Is sound scientific thinking incompatible with such beliefs? Is it appropriate to think of atheism as rational and theism as irrational?

If your answer to the above questions was YES, you may want to reconsider your response in light of what it means to be human! I think most of us would agree that it is important to explore why we believe and do the things that we do. In fact, it seems that such considerations would be even more important to someone who sees us (humans) as the product of the process of evolution.

In this regard, it is interesting to note that there are a number of traits which appear to be universal in their applicability to humankind. I'm thinking of things like emotion, music, language, mathematical ability, socialization, ritual, spirituality, etc. Hence, it appears that evolution has hardwired our species to think and behave in certain ways. Moreover, the very nature of evolutionary science informs us that there are good reasons for all of these features of being human.

Forbes published an article a few years back (22 Aug 2017) by Alice Walton titled "The Science Of Spirituality: A Psychologist And A Neuroscientist Explain Being 'In The Flow'" see https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/08/22/the-science-of-spirituality-a-psychologist-and-a-neuroscientist-explain-being-in-the-flow/#688479e34e0b In the article, Walton notes that many humans have experienced the phenomenon of "being in the flow." She describes this as "the idea of getting out of our own way, or giving up control to some higher power/consciousness/energy."

In the article, Psychologist Ben Michaelis looks at the phenomenon from the perspective of humans reacting to stress and not always being in control of situations/events. According to Michaelis, humans are "pattern-seeking creatures" who understand that this need sometimes has to be relinquished. He goes on to point out that "we're an altricial species." In other words, "we're wired to give up control."

In the same article, Neuroscientist Judson Brewer describes the phenomenon as us allowing our brain to function in a more efficient and natural way. He says, “Every religious tradition that I’ve seen has something like this, just with different words. It’s letting go of the small self, so grace of god can flow through us. ‘Advaita vedanta’ [from the Upanishads]; in Catholicism, it’s emptying so god can flow..." According to Brewer, " Our brain has evolved for efficiency. 'Flow' is likely a manifestation of the brain working in optimal conditions.”

Likewise, our human propensity for ritual has been subjected to the same kind of scientific evaluation and explanation. In an article written for Scientific American, Francesca Gino and Michael Norton talk about the science behind our fascination with rituals. They wrote:  "Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures, this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors." see "Why Rituals Work" https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/#googDisableSync

In another article for LIVESCIENCE, Meredith Small wrote an article titled "Human Rituals: The Punctuation Marks of Life" see https://www.livescience.com/9687-human-rituals-punctuation-marks-life.html After a discussion of various marriage and death rituals extant in our world, she writes: "It's not just that humans are party animals. We seem to need some clearly defined, traditional activities to move back into regular life after a major change. Ritual not only underscores those life changes, it also adds a punctuation mark (a question mark for birth, a comma for rites of puberty, an exclamation point for marriage, and, of course, a period for death). And then we are able to move on to the next sentence." She continues: "Ritual also forms our identity. We learn about our culture from these rites of passage and we become part of a community."

Hence, when we examine these things from a scientific perspective, it becomes clear to us that the evolution of humankind has been a complex and multi-faceted process. It is also clear that that process has been sequential in nature, and that there are concrete reasons for the way we think and everything we do.

As a consequence of these facts, it seems just a little counterintuitive and irrational to designate ANY of these universal traits of humanity as obsolete relics of a superstitious past. In fact, it seems to this observer that a better understanding of all aspects of the evolution of our species is the only way to arrive at rational answers to the questions we asked at the beginning of this post. After all, if any of these universal traits have become obsolete, won't the process (evolution) eventually eradicate them for us? What do you think?

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Banned by HWA! recently posted a piece about the Philadelphia Church of God's views on depression. According to the PCG,  it's all about breaking God's law and Satan's influence.

As someone who has struggled with depression for years, I can tell you with great confidence that such a view is simplistic and wrongheaded. Some of the greatest men in history have been plagued by depression (e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, etc.) In fact, their efforts to outrun/suppress/defeat their depression are regarded by most of the folks who have studied their lives as being key to whatever success we attribute to them. In other words, depression is a much more complex phenomenon than the PCG's take on it would suggest.

According to the folks over at WebMD, the major causes of depression are:
"Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.
Certain medications. Some drugs, such as isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
Conflict. Depression in someone who has the biological vulnerability to develop depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
Death or a loss. Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, may increase the risk of depression.
Genetics. A family history of depression may increase the risk. It's thought that depression is a complex trait, meaning that there are probably many different genes that each exert small effects, rather than a single gene that contributes to disease risk. The genetics of depression, like most psychiatric disorders, are not as simple or straightforward as in purely genetic diseases such as Huntington's chorea or cystic fibrosis.
Major events. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. However, the syndrome of clinical depression is never just a "normal" response to stressful life events.
Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression.
Serious illnesses. Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
Substance abuse. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression."

In other words, while I'm not going to dispute the assertion that SOME depression may be attributable to law breaking and/or Satan, it is ridiculous to suggest that all of it (or maybe even the biggest part of it) is attributable to those two things. What about a biological predisposition for depression? What about sadness/grief over death/loss? What about mental illness? What about events beyond our control? What about suffering abuse at the hands of someone else? What about being disfellowshipped or shunned by a cult?

I remember reading somewhere that God doesn't despise a broken and contrite heart, and that those who mourn will be comforted. I also seem to remember the Apostle Paul telling us not to mourn in the same fashion as folks who are not Christians (not that we shouldn't mourn/grieve - just not in the same way!). I seem to recall Jesus Christ telling his followers that not everything bad that happens is the consequence of someone sinning - that there is something called time and chance (sometimes towers collapse, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes arise).

No, depression is a very HUMAN phenomenon, and it is not all attributable to Satan and sinning. And, by the way, how does reducing the phenomenon to those causes help anyone who is suffering from the phenomenon? It doesn't do anything for me!

It seems to me that the more appropriate course of action for anyone claiming to be a Christian is one of empathy, compassion and love. Shouldn't we be strengthening the hands that are weak and comforting the brokenhearted? Why were we instructed to look after the fatherless and the widows?Why were we instructed to provide for those in need and minister to those in prison? What do you think?

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Birth of Jesus According to Isaiah

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." --Isaiah 7:14

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." -- Isaiah 9:6-7

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." --Isaiah 11:1-4

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Nationalist Church of God International

Pastor Bill Watson's latest offering on CGI's Armor of God "Biblical News Updates & Commentary" is titled Globalism vs Nationalism. If you're a Trump supporter, you'll want to hear this one. If you're not a Trump fan, you may be interested in the group's rejection of the "Globalist agenda" and enthusiastic embrace of Nationalismhttps://www.cgi.org/new-blog-2/2018/12/12/globalism-vs-nationalism

The pastor opens his message by decrying the legalization of marijuana in Canada and within many of the individual states of its neighbor to the south. He also takes a moment to bemoan the fact that homosexual marriages are now recognized in both countries, and that the U.S. is "killing" one million "babies" per year. Then, after taking a quick swipe at Senator Elizabeth Warren for having the audacity to claim Cherokee ancestry, he proceeds to his main topic.

According to Mr. Watson, the world has divided into two camps: Globalists and Nationalists. He goes on to define Globalism as the desire to create one world order and insists that it is the close ally of socialism and communism. Before going on to define Nationalism, he asks us not to recoil in horror. He says that Nationalism has been erroneously linked to things like white supremacy, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The good pastor assures us that nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Watson believes that these erroneous ideas about Nationalism have been generated by the "fake news" (seems like I've heard that term somewhere before) to create a bias against it and its proponents among the public. He insists that Nationalism is nothing more than love of country and a willingness to sacrifice for its good. He informs us that nations act independently of each other rather than collectively, and that these nations have well-defined borders (I suppose they're intended to keep out undesirables).

Satisfied with his definitions, the pastor informs us that Globalism seemed dominant a few years ago - and that things were proceeding to the formation of that one world order. He points out, however, that the European Union now seems to be unraveling and wonders aloud if Globalism is outdated.

If you're wondering what all of this has to do with God, the Bible, the Church or the Gospel, you will be relieved to know that Mr. Watson finally gets around to the book of Revelation. He references the Beast of the thirteenth chapter and points out that this Globalist government will be manifested sometime in the not too distant future. He then moves on to the seventeenth chapter of Revelation and informs us that this Globalist system will make war with the Lamb (there is no acknowledgement that there are alternative interpretations of these prophecies extant within the Christian community).

Unfortunately (or fortunately - depending on your perspective), Mr. Watson can't seem to stay with the Scriptures. Instead, he interrupts his stroll through "God's Word" to inform us that this Nationalist "revival" that we are experiencing has sucker punched the Globalists. Thankfully, according to him, there are still nations with borders, and those who are acting to protect their identities. He assures us that these hearty Nationalists are working hard to thwart the nefarious agendas of folks like George Soros.

Finally, after this little diversion, Mr. Watson returns to the Bible and informs us that that book has an interesting take on Nationalism. He points out the "Table of Nations" and the story of the "Tower of Babel" in the book of Genesis and deduces that God intended for people to exist within separate nations (Doesn't the Gospel message inform us that Christ is going to be the king over all of the earth? Aren't there numerous passages that talk about all nations coming to Jerusalem for worship, healing, etc ? Doesn't the book of Revelation insist that Christ's saints will rule over all the earth with him? And doesn't it teach us that God will be the God of everyone who lives in this community of nations?)

Mr. Watson finishes up with an astounding statement. He tells us that "Globalism is not a good thing for Christians." Wow! So nations shouldn't be working in concert on things like trade, the environment and peace? Pastor Watson tells us that as long as the Nationalists stand in the way of the Globalist agenda we have time to do the work of God! He insists that we need more time to promote the Gospel - that God needs our help to bring His message to the world!

It may just be me, but I'm thinking that it might be a good idea for Mr. Watson and his church to rethink their stance on this Globalist vs Nationalist thing. What do you think?