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8/09/2002

 
afternoon all.

i've found myself in the midst of a good ol' fashioned "is this the right church for me" dilemma.

let me give you a bit of background. i've been attending a certain pentacostal denomination all of my life, and although i'm not going to mention which it is, you'd certainly know the name. i haven't always been a Christian, but that's another story. anyway, i don't speak in tongues, give prophecy, handle snakes or walk on water in my bathtub, but i do believe that the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy did not end with the closing of the cannon of scripture, contrary to many mainline protestant denominations, and all but a handful of catholics. since i'm not charasmatic myself, to me the point is largely academic, but as i study the scriptures i just don't see the viewpoint of the other side represented. now, please, if you happen to hold the other viewpoint yourself, i'm not trying to pick a theological fight here. whether or not tongues and prophecy are still the practice of the church is a secondary issue and one we don't need to divide over. but it's important to fill in the details.

what i'd noticed among these churches was that there was a growing tendency to pander to the lowest common denominator in the congregation. they were serving up spiritual baby food week in and week out, with nary a thought given to moving on to the meat and potatoes of the Word. lots of emotionalism and flashy songs and the like. really packed in the crowd, as you might imagine. but my wife and i felt unfulfilled and the feeling was growing. while we could have tolerated sermons which ignored the intellect, we drew the lines at those which were openly hostile towards it. after trying a few other churches within the same denomination, we decided it was time to move on.

we found a wonderful non-denominational independent church. the pastor and his staff are mostly from the dallas theological seminary, so that will perhaps give you some idea of where they stand on most doctrinal issues. very conservative and unapolagetically Bible based. the first sermon we heard there had to do with the general revelation of God manifested by the glories of creation...they even talked about the Big Bang. i knew i'd found my home.

there was one problem. the church doctrinal statement held that the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy ceased with the closing of the cannon of scripture. i emailed the pastor about it to discuss their position and see if we could reconcile our differences. quite a debate, actually, and i may post excerpts from it in here some day. but it became apparent that i simply believed differently than they did on this one particular issue, and that wasn't about to change.

but was that so bad? the rest of their theology is flawless. the pastor is vibrant and dynamic. the congregation is eager and growing. it's an ideal church in every other regard but one, and that one was such a minor thing...except that, minor or not, i didn't agree with them and even after debating our positions i still believe my views to be correct. so here's my dilemma:

1. is it right to become a member of a church if one does not fully agree with their doctrine?

2. is it right to attend a church if one is unwilling to become a member, or should one move on and find someplace else?

as for question 1, i'm leaning towards "no". i've known people who had significant theological differences with the stated positions of their denomination, and yet served as elders in their congregation. they did it by altogether avoiding the problematic issues. i find that to be somewhat disingenuous, to say the least.

as for question 2, i have no idea. again i'm leaning towards "no" because it seems like a person ought to attend a church that he's willing to be a member of--that's just common sense. but then, why should i leave a church that i deem as excellent in nearly every regard simply because i cannot be a member? aye, there's the rub. please note that this isn't "i disagree with your statement on issue x, so i'm leaving your church." this is more like "is it right to attend a church even if one is unwilling to become a member?" probably not a question that comes up a lot, because generally if a person doesn't want to become a member of a chruch he wants nothing to do with it.

in a Biblical sense, a Christian's involvement in the church ought to go far beyond sitting in a pew on sundays. it ought to be the focus of one's life. all of one's talent and abilities ought to be focused towards the greater glory of the kingdom, and by not being a member, one is severly limited in how active one may be. what to do, what to do.

this is a tough one. pray for me.

locdog could use it








 
it is an exciting time to be a steelers fan.

it would appear that the franchise has it's best shot at winning a superbowl perhaps since the days when terry bradshaw wasn't an obnoxious self-parody selling dignity for dollars on fox's vaunted pre-game show. the pre-season has been remarkably kind, with a slew of signings the steelers have managed to hold on to all of last year's starters, with the only exception being middle linebacker earl holmes who jumped ship to join up with the hated cleveland browns. of course, they guy they got to replace holmes was only the second leading tackler in the nfl last season, a nice addition to what is all ready the strongest corps of linebackers in the league. on the other side of the ball, we find that jerome bettis is healthy at last...we think...and kordell stewart is coming off a pro-bowl year and will get plenty of help from his receivers, with pro-bowler hines ward and game breaker plaxico burress--both 1,000 yard guys last year--returning to balance out the offence. according to the training camp accounts, the steelers draft was a success, and besides the free agent acquisition of linebacker james farrior, the steelers have also picked up one terance mathis who ain't as young as he used to be, but who will add wisdom and stability to a receiving corps with a lot of potential, but little experience. plus mathis offers the steelers a bit of depth at a position where the talent drops off markedly between the second and third receivers.

yep, certainly looks like the steelers will kick butt and take names all season long. their first two games are killers: a monday night rematch of last year's afc championship in new england to inaugurate the season, followed by a battle with the ever-dangerous raiders at home. other than that, though, the rest of their schedule is a breeze, feasting on the happles ravens, bengals, and browns en route to an all but certified playoff berthing and thence to the superbowl. barring injury, the steelers have no excuses this season.

so...why did they get embarrased last night by the jets on national television? oh, sure. it was only a pre-season game. those don't mean anything since pretty much any coach who wants to can win one by playing his starters into the second half. witness last week's redskins over 49'ers massacre. no, the problem here was that the jets moved the ball at will on the vaunted steelers defense, with vinny testaverde looking like john elway at times. i can't even call testaverde washed up since in my opinion you had to at one point be something to be considered washed up. the starting offense was unable to produce a touchdown despite a first and goal from a scant two or three yards out, wasting a poetic 40 yard bomb capped off by a plaxico burress circus catch to setup the scoring opportunity. and if you know anything about plax, by the way, those are the only sort of catches he makes: he always drops the easy ones. the passing game did look crisp, with a kordell stewart interception being the lone exception, but bettis couldn't get anything done against the jets run-stop, although this is probably more of a reflection on the steeler's offensive line than their future hall of fame running back. bettis, despite his reputation, has never been the sort to make his own holes.

worst of all, though, was the steelers special teams. after it cost them last year's sure-fire trip to the superbowl (and that isn't scapegoating--it really did!) the steelers sacked their special teams coach and brought in drafts and free agents specificially to address their abysmal coverage and return games. they didn't come away with much to show for it last night. a 12th man on the field penalty on their punt coverage unit revitilized a flagging jets drive, and eventually resulted in the jets opening touchdown. a blocked punt later in the game added to the steeler's woes. their return game was typically listless, and their coverage, while improved, was decidedly average. probably good enough with the steelers D playing behind them, but why make life harder on yourself? defense and special teams wins superbowls, my friends, with the notable exception of the st. louis rams, most of whom are clearly extra-terrestrial in origin so they really don't count. the lone special teams bright spot was that veteran kicker todd peterson, brought in to address the abomination that was the steelers kicking game, went two for two with a long of 31 yards. don't knock it, compared to last season's kicking performances by a player i will not name, the steelers coaching staff will be dancing in the streets.

it was only the first pre-season game and there's not yet any real cause for alarm. but the steelers showed that despite all of the on-paper stuff, they've still got a long way to go. i think this game will humble them a bit and get their heads out of the papers, where they are the team of destiny, and back down to earth where they are ended last season in dismal failure and have yet to prove anything to anyone when it really counts.

locdog figures an 8-8 season would be a miracle if they continue playing the way they played last night

p.s. did anyone notice hines ward's tackle on the stewart interception? it was worth the interception just to see that tackle. hines ward is an absolute freak. he is the tiny titan tackling machine. he is a ferocious linebacker trapped in the body of a midget wide receiver. he is the epitome of STEELER. he blocks defensive backs with the same alacrity which he catches touchdown passes and runs over potential blockers. he is everywhere you want to be, baby.




8/08/2002

 
this week's edition of newsweek magazine has a fascinating cover story on the topic of heaven. the article starts off brilliantly with an opening paragraph that invites one to ponder a particularly relevant afterlife paradox that all too many are confronted with today: in the act of suicide bombing, a victim's survivors may believe that he is in heaven while the survivors of the perpetrator believe that he too got sent skyward on account of his sacrifice.

although the writer doesn't go this direction with her column, if there was ever a more convincing proof than this that religious pluralism is bunk, i haven't found it.

the article also has numerous bad points, but i didn't think any of them sunk much lower than this

When a religious community feels endangered or at odds with the mainstream culture, a vision of heaven can be like a badge of belonging. “This heaven is mine,” believers say. “If you don’t join me, you can’t come.” And when that feeling of oppression turns to war, heaven can be a flag waved in battle.

i suppose then that from this i may conclude that since i believe that only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior may enter heaven, it must only be because i am a coward unable to cope with the strain of modern life. this as opposed to...oh...i don't know, the blatant teaching of Christ as a grounding for my position. after all, Jesus couldn't have really meant that He was the only way. that's so, you know, politically incorrect.

what's more, although the dreaded f-word--fundamentalism--isn't mentioned, it's a pretty blatant subtext. i've been becoming increasingly frustrated with the attempts of the media to blame fundamentalism for the events of 9/11. the problem is that it makes those considered Christian fundamentalists, like myself, philosophical bloodbrothers with osama and the boys. the problem isn't with any indeosyncracies of the muslim faith, after all, it's just that these people are fundamentalists. and anyone who is a fundamentalist will eventually find a way to oppress and kill and maim and destroy because that's what fundamentalists do. i'll give this topic a fuller treatment in a later post, but the important thing to remember is that since the problem is viewed as fundamentalism, then anyone who is a fundamentalist is just as bad, or potentially just as bad, as a terrorist. keep that in mind the next time you hear the terrorists described as "radical fundamentalists" or the like.

there's also a fascinating sister story on hell and how beliefs on it, particularly Christian ones, have changed through the ages.

It may well be, as some contemporary theologians argue, that even the worst sinners will eventually be restored to the kingdom of heaven. But this attenuated view of hell tends to rob the evil that we do of its lethal gravitas. “If what we do now is to make no difference in the end,” argued the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “then all the seriousness of life is done away with.”

wow. he even used the word "gravitas". way to proactively think outside the box, paradigm shift boy. that was totally scalable and seemlessly integrated. hey--anyone else up for a game of buzzword bingo?

anyway, many are willing, indeed, eager to believe in heaven, but few want to believe in hell. and yet it remains true that unless it's possible to play the game and loose, ultimately the game has no meaning. the ability to make choices and experience consequences, the true umph behind free will, are a big part of what being a human being is all about. heaven and hell are a recognition, as hank hanegraaph is fond of saying, of the dignity of human choice. seems like this particluar writer gets that.

locdog thinks it would be fun to speculate about heaven and hell in here at some point




8/07/2002

 
abortion on tonight's fight card. should be an interesting evening.

slate's dahlia lithwick chimes in on an inflammatory pennsylvania state supreme court abortion ruling that came down on monday. a lower court had blocked a woman from having an abortion because the estranged father wanted the child to live. Click here to get the scoop from msnbc if you haven't all ready seen this story.

lithwick, letting the decision from 1992's widely reported planned parenthood vs. casey largely do her speaking for her, opines

"The mother who carries a child to full term is subject to anxieties, to physical constraints, to pain that only she must bear. ... Her suffering is too intimate and personal for the State to insist, without more, upon its own vision of the woman's role." What can dissenters do with that logic, other than grouse about what any of it has to do with the Constitution?

the state has no problems, however, insisting on the anxieties, emotional constraints, and pain of the father. ok, ok: so that's not exactly fair. obviously the mother has the tougher road to hoe. still, few seem comfortable with the idea of the father getting no say at all in reproductive choices. but why does this discomfort only break through the surface at the dead sea of abortion law? if you think about it, the father never has any say in the reproductive process.

after deciding whether or not she will see the potential sperm donor, physical contact is entirely at the woman's discretion. if and when that contact begins, she decides which base the would-be runner will end up on. she decides what form of birth control will be used: to condom or not to condom? the pill? the patch? none at all? it's her's to weigh the advantages and drawbacks, it's her's to assume the ultimate risk. if at any point she decides to take her ball and go home, then the game is over. with some minor modifications, this all holds true within the framework of marriage as well.

"so what's your point, locdog?"

the point, my friend, is this: barring rape, the woman has complete control over the process from beginning to end with a hundred failsafes in between and a point of no return which is located just a few nanoseconds this side of la petite morte itself. she had every opportunity to excercise control and judgement, and if she got pregnant against her will it's because her judgement, or her birth control, utterly failed her. in either case it's her risk, her responsibility. up until roe vs. wade, what happened after conception was the only part of the process the woman did not legally control. why not? because she'd had her dance and now it was time to pay the fiddler. oddly poetic that supreme irresponsibilty could saddle one with the greatest obligation imaginable: the creation and care of another human being.

the quote lithwick selected seems rather lazy to me. the fact that she finds the logic so impeccable seems rather sad--i respect lithwick as a writer and a thinker, but come on. we can talk about privacy and the lonely plight of mothers all we like, but while the womb may be a part of the mother's body, what grows inside of it most assuredly is not. you don't need a doctorate in molecular biology to know that this developing life is just as much daddy as it is mommy, so why shouldn't daddy get just as much say as mommy? lazy lithwick and that rotten planned parenthood decision presuppose that we cannot make any real scientific judgements about whether or not an unborn child might be life worthy of protecting. they won't even entertain the argument any more. so the courts decide to err on the side of caution and honor the mother's privacy. i never could figure out why erring on the side of caution in abortion law means honoring someone's privacy rather than protecting someone else's life.

the fact that the courts have decided to leave abortion in the realm of the esoteric and ephemeral suggests that they are well aware of the damage that could be done to their golden calf if they ever let science get ahold of it. more on that another day, maybe.

locdog doesn't like letting the enemy choose the battlefield




 
evening all.

anyone believe in extra-terrestrial life? there's an article on msnbc's site about strange triangular objects spotted high above the earth's surface. all of the usual explanations are popping up. balloons. secret military project. really big paper airplanes.

sometimes, people will ask the following: "do you believe in ufos?"

the answer to this ought always to be "of course."

there are objects that fly and are unidentified. duh. as to whether or not these objects are the work of commander klug from planet remulak, well, that's a bit more dicey.

you know, i've never had any trouble accepting that there are people who truly believe that they've seen alien spacecraft or had an encounter with extra-terrestrial intelligence. i don't know about you, but i've seen some pretty weird stuff myself. there's just too much evidence for me to think that all of these people are lying--although some of them certainly are. and it's more than possible that many of these true believers simply wanted to experience something so badly that they managed to convince themselves that they had indeed done so. throw in a liberal sprinkling of significant mental problems and you can probably dismiss 90% of the reports. that said, i'm still sold on the notion that there are a few who are pefectly honest, perfectly sane, not self-deluded, and yet who nonetheless believe that they have been contacted by alien life. whitley strieber and travis walton come to mind. i won't bother including links for these two, but check out strieber's communion and walton's fire in the sky if you are interested--or just google their names and you'll get more than your fill.

there are some disturbing theological implications to extra-terrestrial intelligence. for one thing, if it's not of this earth, then it isn't a son of adam, and if it isn't a son of adam, then it cannot be "Christian" in the same way we can. their relationship with God would have to be entirely different than ours. moreover, while not explicity denying the existence of ufos, the Biblical account of creation places man at the epitome of the natural order. granted supernatural beings eclipse us, but our place in the set of all things physical is unsurpassed. the Bible has the earth here to support us (and we to care for it) and the rest of the universe to cause us to marvel at the glory and power of the Almighty. while not neccessarily contradicting this view, the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would certainly offer up some rather weighty objections. when i asked my father about his views on the matter, he offered a third rather significant problem with fitting e.t. into a Christian worldview: why would God want such a distraction roaming around the universe?

this objection isn't as silly as it might seem on the surface. the correlation between belief in aliens and occultic belief is surprisingly high. if you take a look at the works of the aforementioned whitley strieber, particularly transformations you'll find it chock full of new age nuttiness. carl sagan's fiction fares little better. or go check an x-files re-run. if you are still unconvinced, well, two words: shirley maclaine. (heck, even if you are convinced, go check out that site--it's a real gasser.) this shouldn't be surprising to you: man is inclinded to suppose that those beings who are technologically superior would also be morally and spiritually superior. besides that, it's in our nature to worship, and we are ever so good at misplacing our reverence.

none of this disproves the existence of intelligent life among the stars, but it ought to make the thinking Christian more than a little skeptical. supposing then that we are truly alone in the universe, what does this say for those who believe that they've really been contacted by extra terrestrial life? the knee-jerk fundamentalist (i need to do a post and define that term) reaction is to label all such encounters demonic and let it go at that. this tactic may be dismissive, but that doesn't make it wrong. and this is one case where the reactionaries have likely got it right.

locdog is telling you right now that he's going to ignore any emails talking about ezekiel and flaming chariot wheels




8/06/2002

 
my wife electra raised an interesting question in an instant messaging conversation:

if Jesus ran a blog, would He ever have made typos?

well, it's a lot more interesting if your job is as boring as ours both are.

it sounds like the sort of thing that they used to fight about in monastaries back in the thirteenth century. you know, things like "did Jesus own the clothes He wore," or "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin," or "can God create a stone so heavy He cannot lift it," or the like. i've been giving it a bit of thought and while the question itself may be trivial, the underlying theological framework certainly isn't. like the oft silly debates the monks of old would indulge in, the question they were actually debating (could God make a square circle?) was a pretext for the real substance of the argument, which usually boiled down to a debate over the nature of God Himself.

when dealing with divinity ontological slip-ups are heretical, so caution is extremely important. and i'm just a layman as far as theology goes, so this post is just one guy's opinion. ok, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's consider Jesus. theologians tell us that to correctly understand the nature of Christ, we must realize that He was not half man and half God, He was all man and all God. fully human, fully divine. the beauty of this understanding is that it resolves so many tricky theological paradoxes that pop up when one reads the gospels.

for instance, if Christ was half God, how could He really die on the cross since God can never cease to be? or how could He not know the hour of His own return, as He confessed to His apostles at one point? isn't God omniscient? wouldn't He have to know everything? this is where the "one man with two natures" understanding comes in. if Christ had two natures, one completely human and the other completely divine, rather than one nature which was half God and half man, then these problems melt away. in His humanity, Christ could be ignorant. He could voluntarily lay aside some attributes of His divinity in accordance with the will of the Father. if the Father did not want the Son to know the precise hour and day of His return, then that knowledge would not be communicated from the divine nature to the human one. remember, Christ was sent to serve as an example for us, to experience what we experience and overcome, so He can even relate--to some extent--to ignorance. if He's only got one nature which is a mixture of humanity and divinity, then we've really got a problem, because you can't kill half of a nature on the cross but not the other half--you are either dead or alive. and you can't be 50% omniscient, either: you either know everything or you don't.

getting a bit closer to our question of whether or not Jesus would have made typos as a blogger, let's consider Christ as a carpenter since that isn't as much of a stretch for our imaginations. i believe that although Christ was perfect as God, and morally perfect as man, he was not physically perfect as man. i believe He caught colds and got blisters. i believe that He had to learn to become a carpenter, just as we would have to, as He grew up from a boy under his father joseph's tutelage to a young man perhaps running the family shop. if there was a learning process, then He certainly would have made mistakes along the way. this doesn't challenge the perfection of God, however, since, just like with the knowledge of the exact time of His return, He simply did not choose to communicate the perfect knowledge of carpentry He possessed as God to His human nature. now then, we also know that Christ was without sin, therefore He never could have made a mistake that was the result of carelessness or negligence, for God commands us to give everything our best effort. any mistake He made would have had to have been what we might call an "honest mistake." He swings His hammer and hits His thumb instead of the nail, for instance, or He slips-up and ruins a chair He was building.

so could Christ have made typos if He ran a blog? absolutely, i think. i think the backspace key on Jesus' keyboard would have gotten just as much use as it does on the rest of ours--more so, in fact, since Christ, wanting to produce something pleasing to the Father, would have been especially conscientious in reviewing His entries and making sure every that thing was in order.

that sort of makes locdog feel guilty




 
i went and saw signs last night, the new m. knight shyamalan film. if you liked his other suspense/horror movies (the sixth sense and unbreakable) then you'd probably like this one as well.

i don't want to give away the story of the film, but one thing i will discuss is the prominant role played by religion in this picture, more specifically, the reaction that some are having on account of this role. don't read it if you are afraid of spoilers, but a good example of this would be david edelstein's review in msn's Slate webzine, where among other things, shyamalan is called a "huckster," a "charlatan," and accused of making a movie that "could be the work of a fundamentalist church group" because of the supposedly manipulative way shyamalan stacks the deck to create a movie in which God's providence is indisputable.

oh, the horror!

what really bugs me about all this is that the complaints being levelled against the film are so hypocritical in nature. all filmmakers stack the deck. their movies are structured in such a way as to create a universe in which their view is the one that makes the most sense. it's just that in 95% of the cases this view is a lot more hostile to Christianity. look at the treatment religion gets in the works of oliver stone, roman polanski, or even my own beloved stanley kubrick. religion is brushed aside as a ruse, the opiate of the masses, a salve used by governments to manipulate people into doing their bidding or peddled by snake oil salesmen as a handy-dandy cure-all. Christians are frequently shown in the most negative possible lights--the squares, the lightweights, the nags, the bores, and as often as not, the bad guys. sometimes the bias is rather subtle, a few light jabs thrown in here and there, not really having anything to do with the purpose of the story. other times it serves as the main course. within the framework of the film, the position of the filmmaker is irrefutable, so where is the outrage? star wars could be seen as a 2.5 hour commercial for george lucas' own new age mysticism, couldn't it?

this sort of anti-Christian bigotry is so commonplace that most people are no longer even aware of it. kurt warner wins the superbowl and thanks Jesus for all of His help, and a bunch of angry callers fill the sportstalk lines complaining about how kurt was trying to cram his beliefs down their throats. well if he'd thanked his mom rather than the Almighty, would people have been angry that he was trying to convince them that his mother was the best mom on earth? of course not, in either case, warner is simply expressing personal gratitude towards someone who is important to him. but while one sentiment is perfectly valid, the other is impermissible. movies like titanic and american beauty laud the nobility of the human spirit and place loyalty to one's own heart above all other goods, but if someone tries to substitue God for man and use the same formula then let the outrage begin. it's not the formula people hate, therefore, it's God.

locdog thinks that's self-evident




8/05/2002

 
bill raspberry has written an astonishingly bad op-ed piece for the washington times in which he argues that the solution to the middle eastern problem is for israel to just give in to the terrorist's demands. in every struggle, there are always a few who suggest appeasment, i guess. that's ok, the rest of us need something to do with our time and dismembering their absurd notions is as amusing as anything! i've excerpted the remarks, but you can get the rest of the story here if you are so inclined. worth reading, particularly if you suffer from chronic low blood pressure.

...Israel (and the United States, its chief supporter) will not call off the military action or press for a Palestinian homeland in the face of the continuing suicide bombings.

But isn't the implication that all these things will happen if the Palestinians stop the suicide bombings, dump Arafat and otherwise behave? Is it believable that Israel will make -- can make -- the critical concessions in the absence of pressure that it could not make at the peak of pressure?

It isn't as though the ribbon to the new state of Palestine was about to be cut -- until the suicide bombers canceled the ceremony. Are the Palestinians wrong to doubt that statehood will ever be their reward for good behavior, when no one seemed to pay much attention to their distress until the intifada?

The whole point of the pressure is to give the other side an interest in changing. The Palestinians need change.

Does that justify violence? Rock-throwing, maybe, but certainly not the deliberate slaughter of civilian innocents. So how can I doubt the wisdom of refusing to reward that slaughter with negotiations?

Because there's nothing else to do. The July 31 Hebrew University violence was itself apparent retaliation for an Israeli air raid nine days earlier on Gaza City that killed 15 Palestinians, including the targeted leader of the militant Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and at least eight children younger than 11.

The point is neither to establish innocence nor to prove moral equivalence. The point is that peace, security and morality do not lie at the end of this cycle of violence.

The question, ultimately, is less about rewarding terrorism than about the mindless perpetuation of violence in a region that has seen far too much of it.

one of the more shameless pieces of pro-palestinian propaganda to float across my screen in recent weeks.

the debate isn't over whether or not terrorism gets one noticed or has the power to force change. murdering people forces change: that's pretty much self-evident. the question is whether or not we want to send the lesson to future generations that terrorism is an effective means of getting the changes they want enacted. a parent who gives his child a cookie to get him to stop misbehaving will find himself with a bratty child and a lot less cookies. if the civilized world concedes to terrorist demands, then we will simply get a lot more terrorists and a lot more demands. raspberry wants to stop this current "cycle of violence" (a term which presupposes the moral equivalency he claims he's not seeking to establish) but he apparently couldn't give much of a damn for the future bloodshed his proposed ending will precipitate.

his analysis is bad for lots of other reasons, of course. first of all, israel has always been willing to negotiate with the palestinians who were given a state by the u.n. right along with the israel back in the late forties. the palestinians refused to acknowledge these boundaries and declared war on israel.

they lost the war.

despite that, israel has repeatedly attempted negotiations with arafat who has proven himself absolutely unwilling to bargain. raspberry, despite all evidence to the contrary, seems to believe that the palestinian leadership really does want an end to the violence at the negotiating table (or at all), but that israel is unwilling to give it to them. hmm. here's a list i've compiled of the jewish and palestinian leadership since the late sixities. see if you can spot any commonalities:

eshkol/arafat
allon/arafat
meir/arafat
rabin/arafat
peres/arafat
begin/arafat
shamir/arafat
peres/arafat
shamir/arafat
rabin/arafat
peres/arafat
netanyahu/arafat
barak/arafat
sharon/arafat

so all the failures and breakdowns and unwillingness to bargain are the fault of the israelies, right? sure they are. 'nuff said about that.

raspberry assumes that if israel and the palestinians were to somehow cut a deal with arafat that the violence would end. that's a little like saying "if hitler could stop being hitler, he and the jews would get along fine." but for the sake of argument, let's say they do cut a deal with arafat. why should one suppose that a return to the 1948 borders would end the bloodshed when it was the palestinians who started it all out of dissatisfaction with the 1948 borders? besides, there will always be a segment of the muslim population who believes that it is God's will for them to slaughter jews and americans. end of story.

that said, the negotiating table does hold the best long-term prospects for peace (accepting that peace will always be a relative term in that region), so how do the two sides meet at the table and reach an agreement without giving in to terrorism? simple: utterly destroy hamas, banish arafat and his regime, install a friendly government who makes overtures of peace rather than of terror, then hold negotiations and give them back their 1948 lands. this strategy, if adopted, will make things about as good as they are ever going to get, and it will send the message that one way or the other, terrorism will not be tolerated.

locdog is convinced it's the best bet