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Thursday, May 9, 2019

D Is for a Dictatorship Disguised as a Democracy

The ugly truth about the USA: a "must read" article 
By John W. Whitehead
Url of this article:
https://www.globalresearch.ca/d-dictatorship-disguised-democracy/5676839
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” — Professor Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Discourse in the Age of Show Business
What characterizes American government today is not so much dysfunctional politics as it is ruthlessly contrived governance carried out behind the entertaining, distracting and disingenuous curtain of political theater. And what political theater it is, diabolically Shakespearean at times, full of sound and fury, yet in the end, signifying nothing.
Played out on the national stage and eagerly broadcast to a captive audience by media sponsors, this farcical exercise in political theater can, at times, seem riveting, life-changing and suspenseful, even for those who know better.
Week after week, the script changes (Donald Trump’s Tweets, Congress’ hearings on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the military’s endless war drums, the ever-widening field of candidates for the 2020 presidential race, etc.) with each new script following on the heels of the last, never any let-up, never any relief from the constant melodrama.
The players come and go, the protagonists and antagonists trade places, and the audience members are quick to forget past mistakes and move on to the next spectacle.
All the while, a different kind of drama is unfolding in the dark backstage, hidden from view by the heavy curtain, the elaborate stage sets, colored lights and parading actors.
Such that it is, the realm of political theater with all of its drama, vitriol and scripted theatrics is what passes for “transparent” government today, with elected officials, entrusted to act in the best interests of their constituents, routinely performing for their audiences and playing up to the cameras, while doing very little to move the country forward.
Yet behind the footlights, those who really run the show are putting into place policies which erode our freedoms and undermine our attempts at contributing to the workings of our government, leaving us none the wiser and bereft of any opportunity to voice our discontent or engage in any kind of discourse until it’s too late.
It’s the oldest con game in the books, the magician’s sleight of hand that keeps you focused on the shell game in front of you while your wallet is being picked clean by ruffians in your midst.
Indeed, while mainstream America has been fixated on the drama-filled reality show being televised from the White House, the American Police State has moved steadily forward.
Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.
Our losses are mounting with every passing day.
Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people.
The American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.
None of these dangers have dissipated.
They have merely disappeared from our televised news streams.
The new boss has proven to be the same as the old boss, and the American people, the permanent underclass in America, has allowed itself to be so distracted and divided that they have failed to notice the building blocks of tyranny being laid down right under their noses by the architects of the Deep State.
Frankly, it really doesn’t matter what you call the old/new boss—the Deep State, the Controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter who occupies the White House, it is a profit-driven, an unelected bureaucracy that is actually calling the shots.
In the interest of liberty and truth, here’s an A-to-Z primer to spell out the grim realities of life in the American Police State that no one is talking about anymore.
A is for the AMERICAN POLICE STATE. A police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”
B is for our battered BILL OF RIGHTS. In the cop culture that is America today, where you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is rarely held accountable for violating your rights, the Bill of Rights doesn’t amount to much.
C is for CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE. This governmental scheme to deprive Americans of their liberties—namely, the right to property—is being carried out under the guise of civil asset forfeiture, a government practice wherein government agents (usually the police) seize private property they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then, whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the government keeps the citizen’s property.
D is for DRONES. It is estimated that at least 30,000 drones will be airborne in American airspace by 2020, part of an $80 billion industry. Although some drones will be used for benevolent purposes, many will also be equipped with lasers, tasers and scanning devices, among other weapons—all aimed at “we the people.”
E is for ELECTRONIC CONCENTRATION CAMP. In the electronic concentration camp, as I have dubbed the surveillance state, all aspects of a person’s life are policed by government agents and all citizens are suspects, their activities monitored and regulated, their movements tracked, their communications spied upon, and their lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness dependent on the government’s say-so.
F is for FASCISM. A study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism—a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere economic units.
G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS and GLOBAL POLICE. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile. Now take those small-town police forces, train them to look and act like the military, and then enlist them to be part of the United Nations’ Strong Cities Network program, and you not only have a standing army that operates beyond the reach of the Constitution but one that is part of a global police force.
H is for HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. The government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration stockpiling millions of lethal hollow-point bullets, which violate international law. Ironically, while the government continues to push for stricter gun laws for the general populace, the U.S. military’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.
I is for the INTERNET OF THINGS, in which internet-connected “things” will monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. This “connected” industry propels us closer to a future where police agencies apprehend virtually anyone if the government “thinks” they may commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance.
J is for JAILING FOR PROFIT. Having outsourced their inmate population to private prisons run by private corporations, this profit-driven form of mass punishment has given rise to a $70 billion private prison industry that relies on the complicity of state governments to keep their privately run prisons full by jailing large numbers of Americans for inane crimes.
K is for KENTUCKY V. KING. In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that police officers can break into homes, without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home as long as they think they have a reason to do so. Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between us and a police state, the Court sanctioned the warrantless raid, leaving Americans with little real protection in the face of all manner of abuses by law enforcement officials.
L is for LICENSE PLATE READERS, which enable law enforcement and private agencies to track the whereabouts of vehicles, and their occupants, all across the country. This data collected on tens of thousands of innocent people is also being shared between police agencies, as well as with fusion centers and private companies. This puts Big Brother in the driver’s seat.
M is for MAIN CORE. Since the 1980s, the U.S. government has acquired and maintained, without warrant or court order, a database of names and information on Americans considered to be threats to the nation. As Salon reports, this database, reportedly dubbed “Main Core,” is to be used by the Army and FEMA in times of national emergency or under martial law to locate and round up Americans seen as threats to national security. As of 2008, there were some 8 million Americans in the Main Core database.
N is for NO-KNOCK RAIDS. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for routine police matters. In fact, more than 80,000 of these paramilitary raids are carried out every year. That translates to more than 200 SWAT team raids every day in which police crash through doors, damage private property, terrorize adults and children alike, kill family pets, assault or shoot anyone that is perceived as threatening—and all in the pursuit of someone merely suspected of a crime, usually possession of some small amount of drugs.
O is for OVERCRIMINALIZATION and OVERREGULATION. Thanks to an overabundance of 4500-plus federal crimes and 400,000 plus rules and regulations, it’s estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. As a result of this overcriminalization, we’re seeing an uptick in Americans being arrested and jailed for such absurd “violations” as letting their kids play at a park unsupervised, collecting rainwater and snow runoff on their own property, growing vegetables in their yard, and holding Bible studies in their living room.
P is for PATHOCRACY and PRECRIME. When our own government treats us as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police, mistreated, and then jailed in profit-driven private prisons if we dare step out of line, we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic. Instead, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy: tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government, which “operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups.” Couple that with the government’s burgeoning precrime programs, which will use fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics in order to identify and deter so-called potential “extremists,” dissidents or rabble-rousers. Bear in mind that anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—is now viewed as an extremist.
Q is for QUALIFIED IMMUNITYQualified immunity allows officers to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing. Conveniently, those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all cronies with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.
R is for ROADSIDE STRIP SEARCHES and BLOOD DRAWS. The courts have increasingly erred on the side of giving government officials—especially the police—vast discretion in carrying out strip searches, blood draws and even anal probes for a broad range of violations, no matter how minor the offense. In the past, strip searches were resorted to only in exceptional circumstances where police were confident that a serious crime was in progress. In recent years, however, strip searches have become routine operating procedures in which everyone is rendered a suspect and, as such, is subjected to treatment once reserved for only the most serious of criminals.
S is for the SURVEILLANCE STATE. On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.
T is for TASERS. Nonlethal weapons such as tasers, stun guns, rubber pellets and the like have been used by police as weapons of compliance more often and with less restraint—even against women and children—and in some instances, even causing death. These “nonlethal” weapons also enable police to aggress with the push of a button, making the potential for overblown confrontations over minor incidents that much more likely. A Taser Shockwave, for instance, can electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button.
U is for UNARMED CITIZENS SHOT BY POLICE. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later, often attributed to a fear for their safety. Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection.
V is for VIPR SQUADS. So-called “soft target” security inspections, carried out by roving VIPR task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams, are taking place whenever and wherever the government deems appropriate, at random times and places, and without needing the justification of a particular threat.
W is for WHOLE-BODY SCANNERS. Using either x-ray radiation or radio waves, scanning devices and government mobile units are being used not only to “see” through your clothes but to spy on you within the privacy of your home. While these mobile scanners are being sold to the American public as necessary security and safety measures, we can ill afford to forget that such systems are rife with the potential for abuse, not only by government bureaucrats but by the technicians employed to operate them.
X is for X-KEYSCORE, one of the many spying programs carried out by the National Security Agency that targets every person in the United States who uses a computer or phone. This top-secret program “allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”
Y is for YOU-NESS. Using your face, mannerisms, social media and “you-ness” against you, you can now be tracked based on what you buy, where you go, what you do in public, and how you do what you do. Facial recognition software promises to create a society in which every individual who steps out into public is tracked and recorded as they go about their daily business. The goal is for government agents to be able to scan a crowd of people and instantaneously identify all of the individuals present. Facial recognition programs are being rolled out in states all across the country.
Z is for ZERO TOLERANCE. We have moved into a new paradigm in which young people are increasingly viewed as suspects and treated as criminals by school officials and law enforcement alike, often for engaging in little more than childish behavior. In some jurisdictions, students have also been penalized under school zero tolerance policies for such inane “crimes” as carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick, bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. The lesson being taught to our youngest—and most impressionable—citizens is this: in the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (politician, police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.).
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the post-9/11 America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.
We have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age.
You can call it the age of authoritarianism. Or fascism. Or oligarchy. Or the American police state.
Whatever label you want to put on it, the end result is the same: tyranny.
*
This article was originally published on The Rutherford Institute.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. He is frequent contributor to Global Research.
Featured image is from peterpilt.org

Monday, April 15, 2019

The persecution of Julian Assange

Thursday, 11 April 2019, will for ever be a black day in the history of the United Kingdom. On this day, a servile British Prime Minister, Theresa May, caved in to pressure from a wild US President who treats International Law with disdain. The British police was ordered to arrest Julian Assange, a great benefactor of mankind, who had been given political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy by the former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa (that asylum has just been withdrawn by Correa's successor Moreno, a US puppet who faces corruption allegations).

Below is a selection of comments from courageous individuals who speak up against injustice and oppression.

1. Craig Murray, a former British Ambassador.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/04/chelsea-and-julian-are-in-jail-history-trembles/

2. Comments from Julian Assange's lawyer Carlos Poveda.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/assanges-lawyer-says-wikileaks-founders-life-danger-extradited-u-s/5674257

3. Mark Taliano, author of "Voices from Syria".

https://www.globalresearch.ca/julian-assange-lauded-protected-not-persecuted-destroyed/5674246

4. John Pilger, the fearless journalist of international fame.

http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-assange-arrest-is-a-warning-from-history

5. Dr Leon Tressell, a historian.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/british-government-arrests-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-behalf-american-empire/5674195


APPENDIX

The Freedom Articles website has set out the issues surrounding Julian Assange's arrest with great clarity:

http://freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com/assange-arrest-ecuador-uk-us-wikileaks/?utm_source=Freedom+Articles&utm_campaign=4c7d39230d-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cc6823db53-4c7d39230d-149229009&mc_cid=4c7d39230d&mc_eid=efd20e98e0

Monday, October 1, 2018

Censorship by Twitter

I have held a Twitter account for some years. On 20 September my account was suspended and I was asked to delete one of my tweets. Apparently, someone at Twitter had taken a dislike to that particular tweet, which was promptly declared to be “abusive” though who exactly had been abused was a mystery. It was made clear that the only way for me to continue to use Twitter was to delete my tweet and wait seven days for my account to be unlocked.  Presumably to soften the blow, I was told I could “appeal” against that decision.

Here is Twitter’s demand for me to delete my tweet that fell foul of Twitter’s mysterious “rules”, which are often used as a weapon of censorship :

Delete Tweet.
Tweet 1 of 1
Sakib Ahmad ثاقب 
@RealandIllusory
@ShireenMazari1 @PTIofficial Holohoax is the new religion that has supplanted Christianity in the West. Holohoax is a bigger hoax than 9/11, biggest ever https://t.co/rfSFjmoB2v
5:07 PM - 18 Sep 2018

[here, on red background, was emblazoned the word Delete]
If you feel that your account has been locked in error, you can appeal by contacting our support team here.

I submitted my appeal by clicking where Twitter had indicated. I asked Twitter to explain who I had abused in my tweet and what rule exactly had been violated. Two days later, on 22 September, I received a standard email which simply repeated the weasel words relating to “Twitter rules”:

“Hello,

We’re writing to let you know that your account features will remain limited for the allotted time due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules against abusive behavior.

To ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs on our platform, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse. This includes behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person's voice.

Please note that continued abusive behavior may lead to the suspension of your account. To avoid having your account suspended, please only post content that abides by the Twitter Rules:
 https://help.twitter.com/rules-and-policies/twitter-rules#abusive-behavior.

Thanks,

Twitter”

My reply to this devious email, which was quite meaningless in the context of my tweet, was:

 Hello.

When my account was suspended on 20 September I appealed against the decision. Your email doesn't seem to be a response to my appeal. You are merely repeating the original senseless charge against me. PLEASE LET ME HAVE A FORMAL RESPONSE TO MY APPEAL.

I repeat I have committed NO violation of Twitter rules nor have I abused anyone. Some nameless Twitter employee's high-handed behaviour in this case is quite unacceptable. Do point out to me the alleged abuse in my tweet. The fact is that in this case a Twitter employee is acting as CENSOR. Censorship by your uncontrolled employees is quite intolerable. I would rather leave Twitter than accept censorship of ideas and carefully researched historical facts. PLEASE INVESTIGATE THE BEHAVIOUR OF YOUR EMPLOYEES.

Please let me have a formal response to my appeal, preferably by a named individual at Twitter who holds a position of responsibility.

Thanks.
Sakib Ahmad


My reply was sent out on 24 September. There has been no response since. I doubt if I will hear from Twitter again. This seemingly Zionist-controlled “social media platform” has given a clear instruction to me to delete my tweet which the powers-that-be at Twitter have found offensive. I am not supposed to disobey!

Twitter is quick to take notice when certain issues are put under the spotlight. Among these topics are Israeli government’s war crimes, the conspiracy of 9/11, the legend of “holocaust” (which appears to have originated at least a decade after the end of the Second World War) and the Jewish crimes against the Palestinians. A tool of the Zionists and Neoconservatives, Twitter censors criticism of these issues by absurdly invoking its “rules against abusive behaviour”. Real abuse against Muslims and Islam flourishes on Twitter, shredding its vaunted “rules” to smithereens but that abuse is presumably tolerated in the name of “freedom of expression”.

I know that Twitter is highly addictive and people do cave in to Twitter’s browbeating, deleting their critical tweets about Jewish/Neocon conspiracies. Not me.  If Twitter does not unlock my account without any pre-conditions then that is the end of my Twitter adventure. It is time people woke up and recognized Twitter – and other social media platforms – as offering a false perception of freedom to express their views. The ideas expressed are carefully monitored, invoking the “Twitter rules” to silence dissent. Twitter camouflages its censorship by dishonestly claiming to be upholding the mysterious rules pertaining to abusive behaviour.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Development of the Christian Creed

This is a continuation of the previous blog dated 19 May. That blog was concerned with how the Christian religion and scripture originated, which you can read here: The Origins

This blog is concerned with the conflicting beliefs espoused by people who eventually emerged victorious over fellow Christians holding different views from their own. What Jesus actually said or preached is now lost in mists of antiquity, the NT having become a repository of the victors' inconsistent views.

The Messiah or a Reforming Prophet?

Paul’s writings pre-date the four Gospels. Paul wrote some 40-50 yeas after Jesus’ death while the four Gospels appeared during the succeeding 50 years, written by scribes who relied on oral traditions. Paul’s views are at odds with the accounts in the Gospels as well as in the book of Acts, written by the author of the Gospel of Luke. Paul introduced the splendid idea of Jesus being offered up by God as a sacrifice for the sins committed by others! Apparently, people never questioned the injustice and gullibility inherent in this claim of vicarious sacrifice. People were mesmerised by the idea that a mere belief in Jesus, the crucified Messiah, was enough to "save" them and it also freed them of the need to follow Jewish Law. At a stroke, the Jewish Law became irrelevant: the only way to wash away your sins was through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus!

The scribe who wrote the Gospel of Matthew some 25-30 years after Paul, flatly contradicted him by asserting that the followers of Jesus needed to keep the Jewish Law!

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfil. ……….Therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments ………. Will be called least in the kingdom of heaven …….. For I tell you , unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).

Paul, however, was quite clear that whoever followed this alleged exhortation of Jesus was in danger of losing his/her "salvation". What one book of the NT lays down in strong terms is contradicted equally strongly in another book! The fact that both views exist in the same scripture makes a mockery of the NT: if one part of the scripture is correct then another part cannot be. If there is a devout Christian who believes in both Paul and Matthew simultaneously then he/she needs to have his/her sanity tested. 

To the early Christians known as the Ebionites, Paul was the arch-enemy with his convoluted ideas of Jesus’ death and resurrection: "salvation" came only from Jesus’s death. Put simply, Paul transformed the religion of Jesus into a religion about Jesus. The Pauline dogma was also opposed by Jesus' brother James, leader of the Church in Jerusalem, who accepted Jesus as a reforming Prophet sent to regenerate the moribund Jewish religion. Within a century, however, the followers of Jesus had turned Christianity into a distinct anti-Jewish religion.Paul’s anti-Jewish stance was mild compared to the views expressed in various Gospels which did not make it into the canon authorised by Emperor Constantine. Even the canonical Gospel of John has Jesus declare the Jews to be the “children of the Devil” (John 8:42-44). 

The conflicting Gospels

It is thought that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, around 65-70 CE. Both Matthew and Luke, writing 15-20 years later, used Mark as one of their sources, hence these three are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. This is the reason why almost all of Mark’s parables and stories can be found in Matthew or Luke, though some of them were changed to emphasise certain points that Matthew or Luke thought important. For example, Jesus’ death is described differently in Mark and Luke. In Mark he is a terrified man led to his death (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) but in Luke he is a fearless, benevolent and sagacious man unconcerned about his own impending death (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”).

If Mark is to be believed, Jesus had already announced the end of evil times and the onset of Kingdom of God: “The time has been fulfilled; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Two thousand years later we still await the establishment of that kingdom of truth, peace and justice by the “Son of Man” even though, according to Mark, Jesus blurted out: “Truly I tell you, some of those standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God having come in power” (Mark 9:1). [Apparently, “Son of Man” is a reference to the second appearance of Jesus on earth after he has died and is resurrected and becomes, in some sense, “Son of God” as well!]

John’s Gospel, written much later than the other three, is quite different from the Synoptic Gospels. There is no mention of the virgin birth or any details of Jesus’s early life. This Gospel wrestles with the theological issues which sharply divided the Christian communities a hundred years after Jesus’s death. It talks about the mystical Word of God, that existed in the very beginning, was itself God and through it God created the universe, and eventually became a human being, namely, Jesus [“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory” (1:14)]. The miracles Jesus performs in John are referred to as “Signs” of one come down from heaven to give eternal life to those who believe in him. This is reinforced with many “I am” sayings attributed to Jesus: “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, “I am the resurrection and the life”, etc. Unlike the parables in Mark, we are assailed with long speeches by Jesus!

The idea of a Kingdom of God on earth is an alien concept in John! To John “Kingdom of God” exists in “heaven”, not on earth, and believers in Jesus will reside there with God for ever; others will be condemned. No mention here of the “Son of Man” to establish God’s Kingdom on earth! John’s Gospel was written towards the end of the first century CE, by which time the entire generation addressed by Jesus had died without witnessing Jesus’ prophecy of Kingdom of God come true! So, what does the anonymous scribe of the Gospel of John does? Easy. He creates a Kingdom of God in heaven, not on earth! Is it possible to retain one’s sanity and still be able to make sense of John’s convoluted theology?

The early Christians, who had access only to Mark’s Gospel, would have known nothing about the unusual birth of Jesus, being born of a virgin, or that he existed before his appearance on earth. With the appearance of Matthew’s Gospel many years later, the Christian dogma expanded to include the idea of Jesus’ mother being a virgin. Then, with Luke, Jesus also acquired the status of “Son of God”, who is vaguely of divine origin, his mother having been impregnated with The Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35) explains what Mary learnt from the angel Gabriel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God”. At this stage in the development of Christian dogma, Jesus was created when he was born. The idea of him having existed before his earthly life came later with John.

The Divinity of Jesus and the dogma of Trinity

While the Old Testament is all about the Jewish Prophets, the New Testament revolves around a single controversial personality. Until you get to the Gospel of John, Jesus is referred to as a “son” in much the same way that the Old Testament prophets are, that is, as someone close to God. I have lost count of the number of “sons”, “begotten sons” and “firstborns” mentioned in the OT.

One of the earliest Christian sects, the Ebionites, were quite clear on the matter of divinity: since there can be only One God, Christ is not God. For Christ to be God, there had to be two gods: Jesus was a human Messiah, adopted by God to be his “son”, but he was a man from first to last, not a divine being.

Then there was another early sect, followers of Marcion, who believed in two Gods, the wrathful God of the OT and the God of Jesus, the God of love and mercy. Still others believed in multiple divine beings and they had no difficulty in accepting Jesus as divine.

Over the succeeding 300 years, Chiristianity evolved, rejecting much of the early dogma as heretical. The essential dilemma was: can Christianity remain a monotheistic religion while accepting Jesus as a deity? Eventually, the dogma of Trinity was invented and all opposing views were declared heretical. Tertullian, a noted heresy hunter, declared some 200 years after Jesus’s death:

“The Father is one, and the Son is one, and the Spirit is one …. they are distinct from one another …. The Father is not the same as the Son, since they differ one from the other in the mode of their being.” Having established that the three are distinct, Tertullian then declares: “they are not different in substance though they are different personalities”. That, in a nutshell, is the dogma of the Unity of the Trinity: All three are God manifested in three different personalities!

Tertullian’s convoluted arguments were debated and refined over the following hundred years as people wrestled with the nature of the relationship between Father and Son. In the fourth century the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and set about unifying the religion, which could then be used to unify his fractured empire. In 325 CE the famous Council of Nicaea was held, attended by the most important bishops and priests in the empire, where the final form of the Christian religion in the Roman empire was at last established, with its central dogma of Trinity:

All three persons in the Godhead are eternal beings and they had always existed. They are three but they are One because they are of the same substance!

All those mind-bending arguments are now forgotten, pious Christians quietly accept the dogma of Trinity spun by the theologians, some 200-300 years after the death of Jesus.

Does the New Testament support the dogma of Trinity?

There does not seem to be an explicit statement of Trinity in the NT, not even in the Gospel of John where Jesus is clearly referred to as being divine. The later Christians found such exclusion from their scriptures unnerving. Ehrman says that a specific reference to the Trinity was accordingly inserted ( John 5:7-8):

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these are one.
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

Make of it what you will!

 Ehrman has written a separate book about changes made to the Bible in the first 300 years after Jesus: “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why”.

Conclusion

Ehrman: “Jesus’s divinity was part of John’s theology, not a part of Jesus’s own teaching".

Although the Christians of Rome won in the end, insisting their beliefs to be ‘orthodox’, it was not the original form of religion conveyed by Jesus and his apostles. The 4th century Nicene Creed claimed Jesus to be “fully God and fully man”, and also that he was “begotten not made, of one substance with the Father”. Neither claim was made by the disciples or apostles of Jesus! Such obtuse theology made its appearance a hundred years or more after the death of Jesus.

There have been numerous archaeological discoveries, comprising ancient scrolls dating back to the first 200 years CE. None of these support the view considered “orthodox” by the established church and accepted without question by a majority of Christians. Those discoveries are simply “heretical” compared to the “orthodox” dogma. Texts in favour of “orthodox” dogma have never been found!

Jesus is supposed to have died, or crucified according to orthodox belief, around 30 CE.


Friday, May 19, 2017

The Origins of the Christian Religion and Scripture

In July 2015 I wrote a blog about the Old Testament of the Bible (OT), which you can read here: The Horrors of the Old Testament

This blog is about the development of the Christian religion and the emergence of the second holy book of Christianity, the New Testament (NT). Both the religion and the scriptures took shape after the death of Jesus, who was born into a Jewish family. As a Jew he is said to have accepted the Jewish scriptures, believed in the Jewish Prophets of the OT and followed the Jewish religious law. At the time of Jesus’ death Christianity was little more than a sect within Judaism. Within a hundred years, however, Christianity had transformed itself into an anti-Jewish religion of gentiles.

The NT came into being decades after Jesus’ death. If a Muslim, with a good understanding of the Qur’an, is introduced to the NT he/she will be struck by its many contradictions and inconsistencies, and by the preponderance of statements which are insulting to human intelligence. This is quite bewildering for one who has been instructed in the Qur’an to use one’s powers of thought when reading the Qur’an and to think deeply when the same subject is illuminated from different angles in different parts of the Quran. Those who do not, are likened to cattle or to one who is simultaneously deaf, blind and mute. Needless to say, for a Muslim the NT is not an easy book to read, especially as wisdom and guidance are scattered through its pages, side by side with the convoluted theology and the confused thinking.

What is one to make of this amazing mix? I needed to understand the origins of Christianity, which I eventually did, thanks to this excellent book : “Jesus, Interrupted” by Bart D. Ehrman. The author started out as a staunch Christian who considered the Bible to be the immutable Word of God. His years of studying the Bible, and the origins of Christian religion, eventually led him to become an agnostic.

I learnt from Ehrman that there are numerous books which were, at one time or another, considered canonical but were later excluded from the Scripture. These books were not written by the followers of Jesus, who were all lower-class Aramaic speakers from Galilee. They would have been unfamiliar with the refined Greek in which the books were actually written. Most of these books were written by anonymous writers decades after Jesus’ death, who relied on oral traditions as their sources. To validate the anonymously written books, and to give them authority, it was decided to link them to established names. Hence the attributions such as “the Gospel according to Matthew”, etc. This explains why the books of the NT are so different from one another, full of contradictions, inconsistencies and discrepancies: the anonymous accounts were written by men who did not know each other and probably lived in different countries in the Roman empire, and they modified the stories in accordance with their own cultural traditions. None of the original copies of those books have survived. What we do have are copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered as the Christian religion took shape after the death of Jesus.

In summary, the NT consists of 27 books, which were written by 16 or 17 authors over a period of some 70 years (compare this with the OT, consisting of 39 books, written by dozens of authors over a period exceeding 600 years). Four of these books are Gospels (Jesus’ sayings, plus a description of events in his life) while the remaining books consist of writings by, or attributed to, Jesus’ disciples or apostles, or their companions. The 4 Gospels are those linked to the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Of the remaining books, one is a book of Acts, which describes what happened after Jesus’ death (his “ascension to heaven”). A large part of Acts is concerned with an early convert, Saul of Tarsus, who came to be known as apostle Paul, and who established much of the Christian dogma which later came to be accepted as official canon.  No less than 13 books simply comprise Paul’s letters to the churches he founded. These letters, which establish Christian religion in Paul’s image, are somehow considered as ”inspired”. Biblical scholars think that Paul wrote, perhaps, six of these letters, the remaining letters were written by others but attributed to Paul.

The first certain reference to the four Gospels included in the authorised NT occurred around 180 CE by a church father called Irenaeus. At that time lots of other Gospels were floating around, some claimed to have been written by Jesus’ disciples Peter, Thomas and Philip. These contained too many "heresies" unacceptable to church fathers in the Roman empire, and were excluded from Scripture.

John and Matthew were two of the 12 disciples of Jesus while Mark was said to be a companion of disciple Peter and Luke was a companion of Paul. In fact, the Gospels attributed to Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were not written to be part of the Scripture. These Gospels were written anonymously from oral traditions: none of the writers claimed to be an eyewitness. They simply state what they think Mark, Matthew, Luke and John might have related after the death of Jesus. Hence the attribution: “The Gospel according to ….”. With the passage of time their accounts acquired a mystique and an aura of holiness, eventually becoming a part of the Scripture.

Here is a quotation taken from pages 267,268 and 279 of Ehrman’s book:

“Christianity, as has long been recognised by critical historians, is the religion about Jesus, not the religion of Jesus. The beliefs and perspectives that emerged among Jesus’ later followers were different from the religion of Jesus himself.

There were numerous Christians involved in these transformations, who reinterpreted the traditions of Jesus for their own time. Christianity emerged over a long period of time, through a period of struggles, debates, and conflicts over competing views, doctrines, perspectives, canons, and rules. The ultimate emergence of the Christian religion represents a human invention, arguably the greatest invention in the history of western civilisation.

It would be impossible to argue that the Bible is a unified whole, inspired by God in every way. The Bible is not a unity, it is a massive plurality. God did not write the Bible, people did. “

In the first century CE the Christian beliefs differed widely. These diverse Christian communities bickered among themselves concerning their rival theologies and they competed bitterly to win converts. They all claimed to be the true exponents of Jesus’ religion and they had books to back up their claims. The group that eventually won was the influential one based in Rome, the centre of the empire. It declared this Roman Christianity to be the catholic religion - universal religion – followed by the disciples and apostles of Jesus. Thus was born Roman Catholic Christianity, which re-wrote history to present itself as always having been the largest and truest Christian sect.

With the exception of Paul’s letters, the NT is essentially a collection of forged documents, written anonymously but attributed to Jesus’ disciples or apostles or their companions. Ehrman, again:

“A large number of books in the early church were written by authors who falsely claimed to be apostles in order to deceive their readers into accepting their books and the views they represented”.


This blog has dealt with the background to the established Christian religion and the authorised Scripture (NT). In the next blog I intend to comment on the contents of the NT and the fundamental Christian beliefs.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas is a dangerous time for Muslim school children in the West

Now that Christmas festivities are behind us it is a good time to reflect on the effect they may have had on the next generation of Muslims growing up in the West.

Christmas is a well established religious and cultural event in the West. Though a majority of the population has rejected Christianity as a belief system, the Christian religion has had a profound effect on western culture. In the run-up to Christmas it is usual to enact the mythical stories relating to the birth of Christ and to venerate him as “son of God” by singing hymns and carols. 

For nominally Christian families it is all good fun as they participate in the playacting and singing of hymns and carols.  They simply do not let their absence of belief affect their enjoyment of the music and the playacting, which are treated merely as cultural phenomena. This may, at best, be considered mildly hypocritical for people who have lost faith in Christianity and pass themselves off as agnostics or atheists.

What about Muslim children though? That is, children from families who are staunchly Muslim and the concepts of
Tawheed [توحید : Oneness، divinity belonging to a single God, the One – الواحد ] and
Shirk [ شرک  -  attributing divinity to a created being]
are absolutely fundamental to their Islamic faith. 

In the Quran, Shirk is referred to as unpardonable. For a Muslim child to engage in the “celebrations” in the traditional Christmassy manner would be not just hypocritical but sacrilegious and blasphemous. Playing fast and loose with Quranic injunctions makes a mockery of God’s Guidance for mankind, which is what the Quran is.

This is a growing problem as an increasing number of Muslim families fail to get across to their children the essential meaning of Kalimah Tayyeba [کلمہ طیبہ ] and Surah Ikhlaas [سورہٴ اخلاص ]. The concept of a God who is beyond their senses but can be perceived through the many Attributes or Beautiful Names [ اسماء الحسنیٰ  ] appears to be alien for most Muslim children. Influenced by the prevailing atmosphere around them, more and more Muslim parents seem to be taking a relaxed view as their children cavort around on the school stage in much the same way as non-Muslim children do. At home, a glowing Christmas tree holds out the promise of presents from Santa Claus on Christmas Day!

Is Islam dying in the West, knocked out by the double whammy of modernist parents and mullah-worship of ignorant Muslims?


FOOTNOTE

Below are some of the “Beautiful Names” ( اسماء الحسنیٰ ), Attributes of God, which are mentioned in the Quran. There are many more. These help Muslims to understand the Majesty, Power, Mercy and Justice of the One God, the Creator of all that exists.

Ar-Rahmaan   The Exceedingly Merciful/Compassionate   الرحمان 
Al-Khaaliq      The Creator                                             الخالق 
Al-Vaahid       The One/Unique                                       الواحد 
As-Salaam     The Peace                                               السلام 
Ar-Razzaaq     The Provider/Sustainer                             الرزاق 
Al-Jaleel         The Majestic                                           الجلیل 
Al-Hakeem      The Wise                                                الحکیم 
Al-Vadood       The Loving                                              الودود                                       
Al-Haadi         The Guide                                              الهادی 
Al-Muhyi         The Giver of Life                                     المحیی 
An-Noor          The Light                                                 النور 
Al-Haqq           The Truth/The Reality                               الحق 
Al-Hakam         The Judge/Arbiter                                    الحکم 
As-Samad        The Eternal/ Everlasting                          الصمد 
Al-Hafeez         The Protector                                         الحفیظ 
Al-Kareem        The Bountiful/Generous                           الکریم 
Al-Aziz              The Powerful/ Irresistible                         العزیز    
Ar-Raheem       The Merciful/ Compassionate                   الرحیم   
Al-Avval            The First                                                 الاول 
Al-Aakhir           The Last                                                  الآخر 
Az-Zaahir          The Outermost/ The Evident                     الظاھر 
Al-Baatin           The Innermost/ Hidden                            الباطن 
Al-Ghafoor         The One who Forgives                              الغفور 
Al-Aleem            The Possessor of Knowledge                      العلیم 
As-Samee           The One who Hears                                 السميع 
Al-Hameed          The Praiseworthy                                     الحمید 
Al-Vaase              The Vast/All-Embracing/The Omnipresent  الواسع 
Al-Valee               The Friend/Helper                                     الولی 
Al-Qaadir             The All-Powerful                                       القادر 
Al-Mutakabbir       The Supreme                                          المتکبر 


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