Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time; Teaching Company Series, by Dr. Sean Carroll ★★★
I’ve been doing much reading on the issue of time, mostly focused on the aspect of God existing outside of both space and time. The title of this series suggested that physics might provide help in this regard. In reading debates on God and time I noted that the more conservative philosophers came under criticism for not understanding the new modern scientific thinking regarding time. Perhaps I was missing something, so this series seemed to be relevant in my quest for understanding. It wasn’t.
Dr. Carroll was a reasonably good lecturer and was easy to follow. The pace of the lectures was quite slow. Ultimately, the focus on the real issue (the physics of time) was continually side-skirted. In the first portion of the course, Carroll discusses the physics of entropy and its reversible nature. Even though I knew that entropy was time-directional, the extent of this discussion seemed irrelevant to grasping why entropy was uni-directional. Carroll then spent a section talking about the psychology of time, our perception of time. All relevant, but it doesn’t explain time itself. Finally, Carroll delved into the latest big-bang theory of the development of the universe, and other thoughts on contemporary physics. In order to work, the big-bang theory must arbitrarily assign a small entropy to the beginning of the universe. You wonder how many more rabbits were pulled out of the hat to create the big bang according to modern physics? The ultimate rabbit trick is the multiverse theory, where the universe separates into two different universes with every action. Carroll is correct to identify the multiverse theory as the “ultimate free lunch”, in that it is unprovable, and offered as a sleight of hand in order to defend the physicist’s fundamental philosophy of life rather than trying to describe nature. Indeed, discussions on the latest and greatest in physics suggested that physicists were smoking some fairly strong weed, and reading too many fantasy books. Einstein’s theories were of no help either, because though one could slow downtime in your personal perspective, you always returned to time-on-earth as it otherwise would have been. Einstein doesn’t explain speeding up time by slowing down… how could one slow down not relative to any other point in the universe? Such “slowing down” motion would always be perceived from the observer at point zero as accelerating, yes?
This lecture series was a bit too long for what Dr. Carroll attempted to do, which was to explain time. Although he gave a lovely discourse on physics, time remained the same. Time remains unexplained and unexplainable, and we are caught (created) inescapably in time, to know nothing other than a universe (or heaven) that has a history and the clock ever clicking. For us, there will never be a physics where time is not a part of the equation.

Making Healthy Food Taste Great

The Everyday Gourmet: Making Healthy Food Taste Great, by Bill Briwa and Connie Gutterson of the Culinary Institute of America, The Teaching Company ★★★★★
Perhaps you noticed that we already reviewed a Teaching Company Video series with Bill Briwa. That series was 24 lectures long, whereas this one is only six lectures long. Bill is an awesome instructor, and the help of the Culinary Insitute nutritionist fills us in as to how a gourmet chef actually manages to cook gourmet food at home while keeping it completely healthy. The series was enjoyable to watch, and Betsy found the series most inspiring. Briwa spends much time discussing how different grains can be incorporated into the diet, and how to plan left-overs (planned-overs) for cooking successive meals. Thus, grain-like barley can be cooked and then incorporated into various different schemes. Though a few of his productions did not look terribly appealing, for the most part, the meals appeared to be most savory, and not the bland horrid taste that someone would expect from something really healthy. The series also comes with a hard-bound cookbook to make it easy to begin various healthy menus immediately.

The Mystery of Banking

The Mystery of Banking, by Murray Rothbard ★★★★★
This book starts out as a technical treatise on economics, explaining in fairly simple language and graphs how economics works in the real world. Rothbard then develops the history of banking in the Western world in the last 200 years, showing from an Austrian economic perspective where things have gone wrong. Rothbard is especially critical of fractional reserve banking, adequately showing how it amounts to nothing but dishonesty and theft. Rothbard shows how a return to the gold standard is entirely doable, that the fear of not enough specie is unwarranted, even in a massive economy such as the USA. I admit that I didn’t follow all of the arguments, perhaps owing to my absence of complete familiarity with banking terminology. Even still, there is enough to glean from the book to sufficiently familiarize one with the root causes for the economic mess that we are now in. I’ll definitely be reading more of Rothbard. It is sad that Austrian economics takes such a severe hit from the so-called “conservative” politicians, who unknowingly mirror the thinking of their “liberal” colleagues. This book is a worthy reading, even for one conversive in economics. It’s free, you can easily download it and read it on your iPad, so there is no excuse.

Die Profundis

De Profundis, by Oscar Wilde ★★★
It is hard to rate a book like this. I like the style in which Oscar Wilde writes, but he excels in being bizarre, sometimes exceeding Franz Kafka. This book, as a select collection of letters written from two years in prison, is more autobiographical than an intentional work of literature. The book was actually heavily edited, leaving out names and other items. Oscar Wilde apparently had a homosexual tryst with a young man of royalty and was convicted. He spent time in three prisons during the two years of his sentence. The letters give one a feel for the intimate Oscar Wilde.
Wilde is superb at describing intimate emotions, such as his disgust with the prison system. You obtain a strong sense of the pathos that Oscar experienced in trying to survive and remain sane during the two years of imprisonment. One can also see an evolution in Wilde’s thinking. Early in the book, he talks with disdain about God and religion. Later, he spends his entire time waxing eloquent about religion and the virtues of Christ. I would scarcely call it a conversion.  Wilde had no remorse over the consequences of his actions, neither had he remorse over his sin. God is a pantheistic, all-loving, gentle, non-challenging, non-moral creature and so sin is not an entity to contend with. Though Wilde experiences great grief over his actions, it would be the same grief and pity that the typical American experienced while watching Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ; one felt pity for the sufferings of Christ, but a pity that would have been similar if a cute little puppy dog was needlessly slaughtered, as the pity over the death of Old Yeller. Mel Gibson, like Oscar Wilde, failed to realize the difference between grief for someone or something else’s suffering, and the grief and sorrow that one should experience for sending Christ to the cross because of one’s sin. In the closing paragraphs of the book, Wilde describes his plans for when he leaves prison. He will smell the flowers, meditate on the seashore, and behave like a different person. Inside, it is the same old Oscar. The book is a delightful account of the psychology of Oscar Wilde, which should not be emulated or repeated in the reader.

Tell It On the Mountain

Tell it on the Mountain; Tails from the Pacific Crest Trail ★★★★★
Betsy and I have watched a number of PCT movies now, and this was the best. It essentially followed about 8-10 hikers, including some solo hikers, hikers who have done the PCT many times, and one who did the first PCT yoyo, which is from Mexico to Canada and then back to Mexico. It showed a number of couples attempting the hike, some of who made it, and some that didn’t. The photography was great, the realism was great, and the storyline was great. It mentioned the dangers of the trail but didn’t overwhelm you with what was bad about the PCT. You felt like you were there with the hikers. There are supplements to the regular film which focused on several of the hikers, as well as one of the trail Angels. This is a film that can help one in planning out a trip, or if one simply wishes to enjoy the trail vicariously through others. Thus, one should enjoy watching this film even if they had no intention of every subjecting five months of their life to the daily grind of a hike.

Cooking Class

The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking, by Bill Briwa (DVD, The Teaching Company) ★★★★★
The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts, by Steven Durfee (DVD, The Teaching Company) ★★★★★
These are two separate series offered by the Teaching Company, but because of their similarity, I’ll be reviewing them together. Briwa also did a short series on healthy cooking, which will be briefly reviewed later. Both chefs are prize-winning in their fields, and both teach at the Culinary Institute of America. Both series come with accompanying hard-bound texts with the exact recipes for what is being cooked. Both are very well done, with clear teaching and superb examples of various dishes discussed. Watching these DVDs makes you want to get into the kitchen and attempt some of the recipes, realizing that a few of them can be a little bit tricky. They’ll have to be tried out on ourselves before we invite guests and then serve them something that flops. The only reason I would have liked to have given each of the series a few fewer stars is that they were way too short. I hope that Briwa and Durfee would be able to produce a lengthier version of this set that is more comprehensive of the styles of cooking and types of dishes that could be made in a normal home. There was great entertainment in watching these videos, but hopefully you dear reader won’t be tortured by our first experiments in gourmet cooking.


Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis ★★★
I don’t recall who recommended that I read Babbitt, but it was that recommendation that led me to download it free and read it on the iPad. Written by Sinclair Lewis in the 1920s, it was one of the books that led to Lewis obtaining the Nobel Prize in literature. Thus, I assumed that it must be an epic, monumental read. It was nothing of the sort. Lewis was born around the turn of the century in Minnesota and seemed to have rebelled against his upbringing. Writing satirical novels about the culture of middle America, Lewis achieved temporary fame, leading to his death by alcoholism.
Babbitt is the story of a go-getter real estate salesman in the town of Zenith, a generic large town located in the mid-west. Babbitt is successful, but not flagrantly so, seeming to be bedeviled by those few people wealthier than him. The initial descriptions in the book paint him as a man lacking true character, constantly hassling with his two children and wife, yet not really heading anywhere in life. He goes to church, but most of his life is led in superficial goodness, while never being ashamed of pulling less-than-honest slick real estate deals to get ahead. His relations at the athletic club, the Presbyterian church, and other social community groups maintain his status in society while demanding little of him. His one friend, Paul R. and he decide to depart on a several-week getaway up to Maine, to be met later by the wives. Not long afterward, Paul ends up in a quarrel with his wife, shoots her, and then ends up several years in prison while she gets religion. Later, Babbitt’s wife takes a long leave of absence, allowing Paul to participate in some trysts, leading to him on a fast downward spiral of alcoholism and liberalism, rejecting everything conservative about his past. Only after his wife returns and lands in emergency surgery for appendicitis does Babbitt realize the errors of his ways and return to his conservative, superficially high-moral friends and is restored to their company.
Lewis spends much time painting religion as either the occupation of deranged and troubled individuals, such as Pauls’ wife or as a superficial gloss of morality without any depth of substance or meaning. Realizing that he also wrote a satire on American religion (Elmer Gantry), it is clear that he has a distinct anti-religious agenda. Lewis desires to paint the typical American as culturally naive and socially stagnant. Life for the typical American in the 1920s according to Lewis lacks originality, is dreadfully goal/success oriented. Unfortunately, Lewis paints two straw characters. Though he is noted to have done “research” for the writing of his book, he perhaps paints a description of himself rather than that of any typical 1920’s American. True, Lewis was a liberal socialist and Babbitt was a conservative Capitalist. Other than that, the character of Babbitt is really that of Lewis. If only Lewis could realize how his life would descend into absolute meaninglessness and eventually “suicide” through alcoholism. The straw man of American religion that Lewis paints is even more sorry. It is true that in the 1920’s already, the mainstream churches of America had lost their heart and soul, and Lewis saw that clearly. Unfortunately, particulars don’t form generalizations, and his jabs at Billy Sunday (called Rev. Monday in Babbitt) are frequent and sadly uninformed.
Perhaps the greatest strength in a book like Babbitt is to induce one to question one’s own life. What is it that gives it meaning? Where does one find an escape from ennui, trivialness, absence of direction? It is the religion that Lewis attempts to satirize that offers his only chance of escape. In the Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), the preacher explores the idea of everything being futile and meaningless. Solomon was able to resolve the issue of meaninglessness in life in a way that Lewis was not.  Lewis has unknowingly become the object of his own satire. Pity him and do not make the same mistakes.

Die Thomaner

Die Thomaner, a DVD documentary of the St. Thomas Boys Choir in Leipzig ★★★★★
David Miller on makes a review of this DVD as one of the best music documentaries that he has yet seen. I would concur. This is a one-year documentary of the life of students at this 800-year-old school in Leipzig, Germany, the most famous cantor being none other than Johann Sebastian Bach. One experiences the brutal testing necessary for entry into the school, the first days of homesickness, the gradual accommodation to a daily schedule that allows for minimal free time, the daily pressure for practice and perfection in music, the world tours, the excitement of performance at special times such as at Christmas and Easter, and the final end of year departure. Boys will enter at about 8-10 years of age, and leave between 16-18 years of age. During that time they will not only have mastered the Bach repertoire but have spent many good days on the soccer field, as well as excelled in the Thomas Internat (boarding school), which includes more students than just the 93 or so Thomanerchor Jungen. During those years, you see those who were faithful turn to an atheist belief, while there is a trend the other way, with many being so affected by Bach’s music to making a profession of faith and undergoing confirmation in the Evangelische Kirche. The angst among the students as well as the current cantor (Cristoph Biller) are well portrayed. This movie is a moving commentary on these incredible youth, worth showing to your own children when they are somewhat reluctant to practice their music lessons as they should.  The German is fairly easy to understand, with undertitles that are reasonably accurate translations.

Noch ein Jahr vorbei

Another year has gone by. The time is now for letter writing and receiving lengthy chronicles from your friends as to their activities over the last year. The chronicler must not only detail accurately the past year but make life interesting enough that other people will be interested in reading the narrative. Bragging and hyperbole tend to force a loss of interest in the reader, yet is what is thought by the writer as the characteristic that makes the recall of a year interesting. I’ll try to avoid that. I’ll be following the rough outline from last year, so if last years’ post bored you to death, stop reading immediately and find something more interesting to gawk at.

Last year…

1. In March, the Miami breast cancer conference and SSO meeting both occurred in Florida close together, so I went to both. The Miami conference was a bore, and the SSO conference in Orlando was fun, only because Peter Tate was there.
2. I went to Dayton with Russ in late April, and a week later to the ASBS with Betsy in Phoenix. Another ho-hum meeting was attended, though I did go to every talk and paid close attention to all.
3. June was spent enjoying Germany. Betsy went with and got to meet Katja and Hannes, as well as Hille. We spent time with Robbie Rayburn and with Heinz and Debbie Fuchs. It was a super trip.
4. July had the occasion to do Eagle Creek with Patrick and Andrew. Later, Betsy and I flew to Iowa to see Alex and Rachel. It was a delight.
5. August was the month for Diane’s wedding. Herbert came to visit. It was a delight having him around. Herbert is like a brother. I can talk to him, have fun with him, ask him advice, yet he is not offended by our differences.
6. September was started with the plan to ride bicycles from Eugene to Missoula with Russ. For various reasons, the trip was terminated prematurely in Grangeville, Idaho. It has caused me to re-think how I do tours.
7. The first part of November was the trip of a lifetime to Israel and Jordan with Betsy. Dr. John Delancey was a wonderful tour guide and made the trip particularly interesting.
Each of these trips has a blog page that you could surf to, so I will not reiterate what has already been said.

Plans for next year…

1. Betsy and I hope to visit the Heins in Oklahoma in February.
2. I will be doing a bicycle ride with the ACA in Death Valley in March.
3. In late May, early June, Jonny and I will be going to Germany. The goal is mostly to visit the Bach sites with Jonny, as well as touch base with old friends.
4. I plan on meeting Dr. Peter Tate and Dr. Ara Pridjian, old friends from residency, in July, to ride bicycles in Northern Michigan. Peter may throw in some sailing, which I’d love to try.
5. In September, Jonny and I will be doing an ACA ride called the Sierra Sampler, riding along the east side of Yosemite.
6. I’ll throw some meetings in there.
7. I was invited to China to teach surgery and English. This is in the tentative stages, and so have no definite plan yet. Meanwhile, I am vigorously learning Mandarin. Ni hau!

Music, Reading, Bicycle Riding, etc.

As of 31DEC2012, I yet have 57 days, 15 hours, and 06 minutes of “unheard” classical music to listen to. I have heard everything at least once, but am working through my entire collection. Last year, I had over 90 days of music, and have added 5-7 days of music since to the collection, which has been listened to, including the Teldec Complete Bach (reviewed previously). Betsy and I will spend several evenings a week watching movies. We worked through the Joan Hickson editions of Miss Marple and should be reviewed shortly. We are working on the Poirot series now, and detecting patterns in the writing of Agatha Christie. We have also watched a large portion of the Tom Baker years of Dr. Who.
For reading, I have gotten to I Kings in the through-the-Bible read, starting in mid-November. I am also reading Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology. A review will follow, but I will note that Hodge tends to address contemporaries that I have never heard of, making it less interesting than I had hoped. I am only about 20% through, so it might pick up. I wished to read Reymond’s systematic theology next but was highly encouraged by Pastor Rayburn to attack Bavinck’s 4-volume set.  I’ll be reading more photography and photoshop books, and also want to have a slight mastery of Filemaker. That’s for next year.
Betsy and I made a fairly monumental decision to return to Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, under the pastorship of Dr. Rayburn. It was a tough decision since we had friends at Resurrection Presbyterian Church and appreciated the work of pastor David Scott. Going back to FPC gave Betsy and me the sense of returning home. There are those who might suspect a multiplicity of motives for our change of churches, but those suspicions would simply be conjecture that would probably not be true, so please do not read too much into our actions.
There are a few other details coming up in our lives that would be best recounted after they occur rather than before. We anticipate another grandchild with Diane and look forward to the day when Rachel and Alex successfully adopt Lily. That will mean another trip for us to Iowa.
I now have an updated model of the TacX trainer (bicycle virtual reality trainer) in the garage which works better than the last, by not crashing so often. It has allowed me to use the bicycle I usually ride on to train, while giving me many strenuous, sweaty hours during the rainy season to still be riding my bicycle. The other “toy” of note has been my dream for a while. I got a Canon 6D for Christmas. I originally wished for a Canon 5DMarkIII, but the 6D had some options, such as GPS, which makes it an ideal travel camera. It is a full-frame, and 20 megapixels. I hope to use my bicycle riding and hiking to be an opportunity to get many more photos.
With Obama still in office, it has left some uncertainty regarding medicine. Medicare reimbursements are dropping by 29%, which means that we learn to live off of less and consider other alternatives to medicine. With an insane tax structure, I have no interest in supporting Obama’s government, and so will take off as much time as possible to still maintain a surgical practice. Already, I am giving away nearly all of my abdominal cases, doing abdominal surgery only when I take call. ObamaCare has a way of taking the joy out of medicine. Pastor Rayburn last Sunday emphasized the wish that each of us grow stronger in Christ, and walk closer to Him. As I age, the days of my life look shorter and shorter. Rather than going out with a bang, I seek what John the Baptist said of Christ, “He must increase, and I must decrease”. That is my prayer for all that read this blog.

Thoughts on the Jewish-Arab Conflict

Having just gotten back from Israel, I seem to have stirred the ire of friends and relatives in my comments in support of Israel. So, I thought it best to not trivialize the topic and write a bit more in-depth about my thoughts. There was some correspondence on Facebook regarding these ideas, but I realized that the conversation had degenerated into thoughtless responses. Many people automatically form a party line, whether it be a Democratic party, the Republican party, Ron Paul party, a dispensationalist evangelical Christian party, and respond as such without thinking seriously about the situation.
First, there are a few definite points that I wish to make…

  1. I am not pro-Israel or pro-Jewish. I am not pro-Tazmania or pro-Madagascar. To a great extent, I am not even pro-USA, although I have pro-USA sentiments only in that this is my homeland.
  2. I am not pro-Arab, nor am I anti-Arab. Too many of my dear friends are Arabian, or Iranian, or Turkish or something of the like. The Jews tend to be better thinkers for intellectual conversation, but the Arabs/Iranians/Turks tend to be more enjoyable people as friends. It’s hard to be anti-Arab once you know a few of them. By the way, the term Arab is often confused with all Muslim mid-East peoples. This is a collosal mistake. Turkey and Iran, for instance, are NOT Arab. And, there are a large number of non-Muslim Arabs.
  3. I do not view Israel in an eschatological sense as referring to people in a homeland that is now referred to as Palestine. I am not dispensational, and do not consider the return of Jews to Palestine as of highthened significance or a reflection of the fulfillment of any prophecy, since I do not see the Jews as having found their Messiah.
  4. I am uncertain about the continued biblical significance of the city of Jerusalem. Is it the place where Christ returns? Does it remain special among the cities of the world in God’s eyes? I don’t think so.
  5. I find no good evidence to suggest that the Jews living in Palestine today are not descendants of Jacob, though not always descendants of Judah (thus, the slightly loose terminology, which I’ll persist in. I won’t use the term Judahite because I don’t use the term “Jew” to specifically refer to those from the tribe of Judah). There is exceedingly poor evidence that the “Jews” are actually a mishmash of Edomites and races other than people descendant from Jacob, and the evidence for British Israelitism is even worse.

I also have made various observations regarding the situation in Palestine…

  1. The news media often makes overt lies about the situation in Palestine, and often is exceedingly deceptive about the situation, usually always with a pro-Arab bias. It is nearly impossible to know the exact situation, and visitors to Israel will often come back with very mixed feelings about the situation. My sense of inability to know the truth of the situation has been criticised as being defeatist in suggesting that we can know no truth about the situation, thus not allowing us to make decisions about Israel. I agree, but, it is NOT ours to make decisions about Israel, as I’ll clarify later on.
  2. Arabs in Israel outside of Gaza are in a vastly better situation that Arabs anywhere else in the mideast. The average salary of an Arab in Jordan is $30 / month. The Arabs on the west bank has a vastly greater income, and this is true elsewhere in Israel outside of Gaza (I say that because I simply do not know the situation in Gaza). The Jewish situation has served the Arabs well, and many of them know and appreciate that.
  3. I am told that the current population of Israel is about 6 million Jews and 2 million Arabs. Many of these Arabs live outside of the west bank or Gaza and in Israel itself. There are many towns that are solely Arab, such as Cana and Nazareth. These Arabs are free to come and go as they please. Their land is not encroached on by Jews.
  4. There are a number of towns and locations in the West Bank that are completely off-limits to Jews except by special permission. These places include Jericho, Bethlehem, and many locations in the northern West Bank, such as at Shechem.
  5. Most of the Jews, as well as most of the Arabs, that I have gotten to know have had a desire for a peaceful resolution to the issues in Palestine. Neither group has had a strong desire to eliminate the other party. Most seem to express a bona fide desire for some sort of settlement of issues, even if it resulted in some personal loss.
  6. Unlike most Americans whose knowledge of history is shoddy, both the Jews and Arabs remember history. The Jews in particular have a very strong memory of the Masada, and swear to never allow that to happen again. They have a distinct memory of being cast out of Great Britain, Spain, Italy, France, Germany (the holocaust) and Russia. You can see this memory every day as you walk the streets of Jerusalem. They have a particular fixation on never loosing their homeland again.
  7. Hamas rhetoric has been defiant about challenging the Jewish right to their so-called homeland. Hamas has persistently stated their desire eliminate the Jews from Palestine. Hamas, if you’ve forgotten, has been voted in by the Gaza population in a democratic election.
  8. Many of the current Jews in Israel are descendant of those who came out of Russian, bringing the Marxist/Communist ideology with them, as noted in the formation of the Kibbutzim. External capital has been necessary because of this faulty economic ideology. Historically, much of the money has come from sordid sources, such as the Rothschilds. The Rothschilds seem to have promoted a number of European wars through their money lending, and have tended to seem more interested in profits than in peace. Whether they are a part of a vast conspiracy I’ll leave to others to decide, though the Rothschilds are on the lips of most conspiracy theorists.

A number of people have accused the Israelis of apartheid. Is that true? I’ve not been to South Africa to know and understand the nature of apartheid, but I fear the word “apartheid” might be used a bit too freely. Apartheid simply means separation on account of race. That’s a terrible definition in this setting since it is mostly impossible to distinguish an Arab or Israeli by race alone. With their clothes off, they look alike! The real issue is cultural differences that separate the two factions. Arabs and Israelis dress differently, have different religions, behave differently, and have completely different goals and aspirations for themselves and for their land. If you wish to identify apartheid occurring, it must be on the basis of religion, economics, dress, or something else. Yet, isn’t that a phenomenon that occurs virtually everywhere in the world? Has Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Europe, or the USA ever been seriously accused of apartheid? Yet, all countries have very distinct separations based on personal attributes. You can’t go to China or Japan and expect to be treated exactly like a Chinese or Japanese. I haven’t seen anybody accuse China or Japan of apartheid. So, I suppose, something else is really meant.
Could it be that the Israelis purposely force an economic disadvantage on their Arab countrymen? I can’t answer that question. The facts are quite obvious that Arabs tend to flock to Israel from the surrounding countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere because there is a strong economic advantage to living in Israel. Gaza inhabitants want the borders open because of the economic advantage of the Jewish influence, and wish to work and recreation in Israel proper. So, it is possible that the Arabs are relatively disadvantaged as compared to Jews, yet distinctly advantaged as compared to their treatment in other Arab lands. There are many stories of Israeli atrocities against the Arabs, and I suspect that many of them are true. Yet, it is difficult to be in such a removed position to act as the final arbitrator and judge on the situation. We are presuming too much! So, apartheid simply is a false accusation.
A pressing question is, whose land is it? I refer the reader to a documentary analysis of the land question in the book From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters. By strictly historical standards, it belongs to the Canaanites, since they owned it first. The Canaanites no longer exist. Philistines had a long occupation of the land, but they were invaders. The Israelites (and now Jews) have had the longest possession of the land, yet it was given to them by God on a conditional basis, which they have not met. The land was forcefully taken from them in a manner that defies description. The Muslims were invaders. Christians briefly owned the land during the Crusader era. The Ottomans (Turks) were the last owners before the British took occupation of the land. So, a historical precedent goes weakly to the Jews. From a population point of view, during the Ottoman occupation, almost nobody lived in the land. Migrations began at the beginning of the 20th century, but these migrations were not natural, with the British forcefully blocking Jewish immigration in a near Nazi fashion. Even still, by 1948, there were approximately equal numbers of Arabs and Jews in the land. So, the population itself does not answer the question. The West Bank was last owned by Jordan, who never had a longstanding right to ownership of that part of Palestine. The same goes for Egypt and the Gaza strip. The Golan is not heavily occupied, and mostly by Arabs that are disenfranchised from the Muslims of Syria, who (Syrians) also have no longstanding right to ownership of the land. TE Lawrence promised all of Palestine to the Arabs for their assistance in fighting the Germans, a promise made singularly and immediately not withheld by Great Britain, who also has no longstanding right to the land. On a simple land basis, Arabs own large portions of land within Israel proper. If Jews don’t belong in the West Bank, does the reciprocal idea hold true? Should the Jews force the Arabs out of Israel proper if the Jews are forced out of the West Bank? Jewish settlements in the West Bank have for the most part been purchased lands, and not “stolen” or booty of war, as the news media would lead you to believe. Perhaps the real apartheid is being forced by the Arabs on the Jews!
What is an appropriate military response of the Israelis to an attack on their area of Israel? Most people would respond that the Israelis have a right to respond, but that it needs to be a measured response commensurate with the destruction of the attack. Statistics are often given that show much greater damage and lives taken out by Israelis than by the Gaza Arabs. Two issues need to be clarified. First, when rockets are fired on a civilian population and statements made by the Palestinians that they intend to eliminate the state of Israel from the map, that does not sound like an act of terrorism, but rather, a declaration of war. Since when does a war limit the response of either party to commensurate damage? Secondly, the Palestinians have intentionally placed military operations in populated centers in order to stir an international reaction. The dupes are those Westerners who fail to take these matters into account and utilize the statistics for precise analysis of the situation, and not emotional knee-jerk opinions.
I object seriously to the US response to the entire situation. Those who know me know that I am a Ron Paul supporter and that I support his stance of aggressive non-intervention in the entire situation. I don’t always agree with the rationality of Ron Paul, but I do agree with his ultimate conclusion here. Ron Paul comments that we should immediately cease and desist from supporting every faction in this conflict. I couldn’t agree more. Why are we sending millions of dollars into Israel, millions in Gaza, millions into Egypt, millions into Syria, and millions more into the other nations in the mid-east? Is this not serving the opposite of its intended purpose, by not forcing all parties to a more amicable solution.
Why has the church not developed a peaceful solution to the situation? Why have we not had our brightest and best thinkers propose solutions that would promote the Kingdom in the states of the mid-east? Why have we not insisted on non-military solutions? Where are the missionaries that could be streaming into these nations that need a true answer to the dilemma? Doesn’t Christ suggest that peacemakers are the most blessed of all people? Or, do we persist in the military rhetoric of the last 100 years that can peace comes through war? Hasn’t the last 100 years taught us that war only begets more war? If we honestly feel dispensational enough to think that the land of Palestine belongs to the Jews and that they need to re-conquer the land as Joshua through David did, are we willing to concede that genocide to wipe out the “heathen” populations of the land, as Joshua was commanded to do, would be appropriate? Or, do we find it strange that David employed many military personnel that was not Israelites! Perhaps you haven’t noticed that Bathsheba’s first husband was Uriah the Hittite, and he was listed as one of David’s mighty men?  Or, that David would sacrifice Israelites to avenge the wrongful deaths of Gibeonites, who were Canaanites? Clearly, the Scripture points to a higher ethic than just the preservation of a race.
The bible does ask Christians to do three responses for Israel. The first is to pray for peace in Jerusalem. When was the last time you did that or did the church specifically get together to pray for peace among Arabs and Israelis? Secondly, the church is to act as a peacemaker. When was the last time the church refused to take sides in the Arab/Israeli conflict in order to truly seek for a lasting peace? Thirdly, the church is responsible for promoting the kingdom. When was the last time the church considered bold responses in bringing the kingdom of God to Palestine? There are many Arab Christians, and a few Israeli (Jewish) Christians. Have we supported and prayed for their ministries? Have we fought for their freedom to deliver the gospel in Israel? It is said (I can’t verify it) that Israel is very restrictive to Christian missionaries—when was the last time the church filed a formal complaint to the US state department regarding this? Perhaps we are not quite so interested in peace and promoting the Kingdom of God as we’d like to think!
In conclusion, we Americans are poor arbitrators of the situation in Palestine. Our information is unreliable, and there are too many forces at play that we cannot account for. Besides, it is not ours to arbitrate and side one way or another. We must ask ourselves for biblical “Christian” solutions, and those solutions will be the most radical of all. The Arabs as well as the Israelis need Christ, and if that isn’t our highest priority and concern, then we’ve lost it.