Tax Exempt Status for Political Churches?

   Today an executive order was signed which will allow churches to more freely endorse political candidates. Opponents say this chips away at the separation of Church and State, and something does seem fishy about what has occurred. In discussing this, I will tell a story, as well as argue, as I have to the Christians up the street, that the Christians are deceived by Donald Trump. Jesus does not support Tyrants, nor does Pope Francis- as the fake news story tried to have it- support Donald Trump, nor should American Christianity allow itself to be enlisted in the emerging anti-Muslim “nationalism,” elsewhere and more truly termed fascism. Who is your neighbor?

   I was pleased to find a church and preacher I quite liked, just up the street, as I could walk there, and had stopped going to both a Catholic and Baptist Church, each for different reasons. On my first visit there, the pastor commented that he was forbid to speak politics from the altar, and the whole congregation seemed quite paranoid about me, as if I were some liberal come to spy out their tax exempt status. They stopped raising their hands in prayer, for example, though the second time I was there, when they prayed for me as I had asked, they raised their hands, and some even spoke in tongues, which was quite a powerful experience. I told them I needed help, that I needed work and a lawyer, and was in some difficulty at home there up the street, but they would only give me their first names, and, as said, seemed quite suspicious. Apparently there had been a robbery on the property recently, and of course one never knows.

   After my second visit, I decided to write to the pastor about some things I had learned from his preaching on John, about the tax exempt status question, and about how the Christians are quite deceived about Donald Trump. When I was a teacher at the community college, of American Government, I would tell the kids that they of course were allowed almost limitless free expression of religion, but for me to preach Jesus from the lectern would violate the establishment clause, though I would comment on the Bible as a part of the unwritten constitution of the Americans, as George Anastaplo discusses this in his book on the constitution.* I thought maybe similarly the parishioners have a right to express politics, but not the preacher from the pulpit, and this is close, but not quite it. I said this as much to demonstrate how the Establishment and free expression clauses fit together as to communicate silently that I would like to teach about Jesus but cannot- and this was not my job. I told Tom, the Pastor, that similarly he was limited from certain things about politics, though that it not quite it. I too would refrain from any partisan politics in class, and, I told him, I was concerned that Christians be free to teach the ethics of the Bible, including the teachings that homosexuality is not good for the soul, from Moses and Paul, and even that abortion is wrong, though this is a Greek Hippocratic, and not a Mosaic teaching. Leviticus distinguishes between killing a born child and causing a miscarriage as by striking a pregnant woman, and the latter is not murder, though it is a crime. Jesus never got around to teaching against homosexuality, as though it were not so much a priority, though Paul does, in Romans 1. I wrote too that Paul in Romans 2 implies that violence against gays is the result of repressed homosexuality (“you yourselves are doing the same things”), as this is a more serious or higher level of sin. And what, I asked Tom, if it is true that homosexuality is bad for the soul and also true that our use of pesticides and suburban lawn chemicals is interfering with the hormones of our youth? Plus, people are not required to be Christian in order to be American, and this is extremely important. As I have a braided ponytail, since I have not been able to afford haircuts for two years, kind of like it, and used to grow my hair long when I was in High School and College, I think they thought I might be gay. Rather, I think of Lancelot when he comes out of the woods for the final battle in the movie Ex-Calibre.

   So I wrote him a two page letter discussing these things, since he did not have much time on Sundays for discussion. I also gave him my website and Twitter numbers, as I like to promote myself and was surely not worried about revealing my true self to him. I wrote that it seemed unconstitutional to forbid him to say just about anything as a preacher, except to incite crimes, as when a speech becomes an action, in slander, libel, false advertising, perjury, fake news and such, fraud and other ways of harming people, and this of course, like all our constitutional questions, can become extremely difficult. We forbid religious expression even of students when, as when the Texas High school prayed as a group in the end zone after each touchdown, though, unlike Germany, we try to allow hate speech, though this too can cross the line to become an action, violating rights that it is the purpose of government to secure.

   I wrote to Tom that Trump was not a Christian (though I might be wrong), that he hardly believes that murder is wrong, let alone that abortion is murder, that he does not care about any sexual morality, let alone transgender issues, that the Miss Universe Pageant (held in Russia at the building owned by Tillerson) demonstrates a disregard for adultery as an ethical crime, or promotes adultery as well as the regard for sex over love, that his defrauding of the elderly through Trump University demonstrates a willingness to lie and steal, and his willingness to use the law to hurt people, such as the blacks and the liberals and the Mexican immigrants is characteristic of a tyrant, and that the Christian’s opposition to Hillary was far from sufficient reason to invite Russian and KKK influence into U. S. politics. Fascism is quite opposed to the message of the Gospel, I argued, and the Christians quite snowed by Donald Trump, who is a salesman and will say and use anything for his own advantage or self interest. I think I am stating the matter a bit more clearly today than I did in the letter to him, but you get the gist of what was said in the letter.

   After missing Church the day that I delivered the letter, I appears for my third sermon, the fourth week since I began to walk up the street on Sundays to his church. He met me on the steps on the way in, said things that indicated he had misunderstood me to be pro-abortion and pro-gay- a misunderstanding, as I am quite the centrist, with rather unique positions on all the issues, due to thinking a lot about both sides, and trying to teach. Tom had said two things that had indicated the sort of news stations he was listening to- that the report of Trump calling up 100,000 national guardsmen was fake news (Trump changed his mind), and that Obama had christened many new intelligence officers just before he left office. It was also clear that he did not have time, as do I, for a detailed and vigorous study of the news. Teachers of American Government sometimes have a natural tendency to become centrists, though not always. My philosophic studies of the roots of both left and right wing extremes, in communism and fascism, and seeing how the extremes of both the right and left political characters leads people into twentieth century totalitarianism either way- this also impels me to my unique centrism.  I had argued that when we vote for a president, we vote for a man capable of the executive office more than for a party platform, one able to be president, for the good of our nation, and that both the Republicans and the Christians were simply snowed by Donald Trump. I do not much appreciate Jesus being used for political self interest, and so do not mind stepping up, even to talk to a preacher. I was told that I would not be happy at their church, and it was clear that I was being asked to leave. But I knew he misunderstood me and sincerely wanted to hear the sermon. A woman coming up the stairs backed my saying that Trump was cozy with the White Supremacists, as Steve Bannon had been chosen Chief of Staff. In his previous sermons he had added great points to my understanding of the famous scene where Jesus, resurrected, asks Peter, Do You love me? He said that God wants our fellowship, and Jesus indeed our friendship, profound teachings, and he had showed me that Peter just goes back to fishing, back to money-making, when he returns to Galilee after the crucifixion. A Catholic had showed me that cool thing about the two scenes with the charcoal fire, and I was seeing confirmation about my learning that it is John and not Peter who is the guy, even as the Eastern Orthodox Church might show us Catholics. And Tom showed me something about the calling to be a preacher, I thought, about agape and two kinds of philo, feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep,” and “feed my sheep,” thee different things in answer to the two or three different questions, do you love me, then he prophesied Pete’s death and he said “follow me.” And what is it to Peter if indeed John did remain until He came to visit him on Potmos, or even if John remained, as he did throughout the crucifixion, more faithful to the last day?

   These are the sort of things I was seeing, and though I was quiet throughout the sermons, and tried to be helpful and friendly to everyone- discussing the six kinds of machines with the son of one man who is a member, etc, Tom made it clear that it was not their choice that I return. I had said on the steps going in, “Do you mean to say that I am not welcome in you church unless I am a Trump supporter,”? and he could not say yes for fear of the law about the tax exempt status. I was attacked in speech on the way out as I tried to explain, accused of disrespecting our President and government contrary to Romans !3 1-7, and I asked what they thought Paul did when, some ten years after writing this, he was ordered by Nero to give up the names of his fellow Christians? Did he obey his government? No, that is surely not what he means by obedience, and if the Christians were ordered by the Nazis to answer, “Do you have any Jews,” we would be obligated to lie- that is my teaching, anyway, or that that is not what John means by liars. Rather, the “liars” might be those who tell the truth to save themselves, as perhaps Peter did around the first of the charcoal fires.

   I was also accused for raising my voice to the preacher, in the back of the church on the way out, though I said I thought Tom had the Holy spirit in his preaching, and “wise” I called him to one I tried to proselytize to come that Sunday but not his political theory. “I am a PhD in politics,” I pleaded. Accused of disrespecting the House, said to a woman, Who’s house is this? And to their surprise- for they did not seem to know the saying, I quoted: “Fist remove the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” I backed out the door saying loudly, “This is the word of the Lord,” to my own surprise, and wandered home wondering about the ironic joke on me that I had clearly failed to remove the splinter from my brothers eye and keep myself in the class I was enjoying.

   I had put one dollar in the collection in an envelope which asked for my address. A few days later I received a letter with no return address, with a checklist of similarities between Hillary o the Democratic platform and the Nazi’s, things I too complain about when government becomes like Big Mother,” making me spend 1/2 hour plus a day for the last seven years rolling my own cigarettes ’cause they tried to tax us out of smoking, o indeed ending my teaching career because Politics and Philosophy had been White male dominated departments prior to affirmative action, and the liberal arts could be used in a way that medicine, for example could not to promote the feminist superiority teaching or the understanding that equality means numerical equality rather than equal opportunity regardless of prejudice, as if we would require a proportional number of short Asian women in pro baseball or the NBA.

   So, is Tom a religious or a political organization? And what would happen if the law compelled him to let me stay, so long as I was not disruptive? And just as I did not claim the benefits of common law marriage, because my fiance never would officially marry me, so I toil for free in the work of my nation and my faith indistinguishable. Perhaps if the Trumpsters are going to use Jesus to snow the Christians, they ought at lest pay their taxes.

 

Note *The Constitution of 1787 by George Anastaplo opens with a discussion of some of the comprehensive influences on the American Constitution. Examples of Biblical influences that can be discussed in a political science course are Genesis 9:6, which presents the reason that murder is wrong, and Deuteronomy 25:3, forbidding the return of escaped slaves. The difference between the scientific, Judicial and religious use of scripture is quite interesting in elation to the First Amendment and Establishment from the lectern. Deuteronomy 25:3, though it is not law for us, is yet why I could not, as a Michiganian, swear allegiance to the pre-Civil War Constitution. Up here, we knew that it was, as Montesquieu explains, a violation of political liberty to compel one to do what is wrong (or prevent one from doing what is right (Spirit of the Laws, XI). The contradiction could have been corrected by appealing to the Article IV requirement that each state be guaranteed a republican form of government, avoiding the civil war. But Jackson’s man Taney could have prevented the 265,000 American deaths in the civil War had he but decided that Dred Scott was a man. Sometimes there is silence in an awful moment which could and should have gone another way, and many lives and much suffering are at stake. This topic came up when we were discussing the engenius basis of Supreme Court case # 16-907, which argued that the election was unconstitutional because the national government is required to protect the states from foreign invasion, as occurred by the Russians through the internet.

Nietzsche’s Zarathustra and the “Last Man.”

   Nietzsche is of course a very bad man, a diabolical thinker, in fact. People do not realize how bad Nietzsche and Machiavelli are, until they are subjected to a tyranny and it is much too late, for the political expression of the diabolical is tyranny. Jung, though, knew quite well about Nietzsche. But then, once these things occur, everything we care about, everything worth living for will be gone, as it was for Germany in 1938, though they did not realize it until 1946, and it will be the same for us, apparently, as we are letting what is now occurring occur, and no one seems to be able even to see it, let alone to do a thing about it. We watch those who see be attacked one by one, and no one will stand. We are the “last men.”

   One respect in which Nietzsche’s Zarathusta is prophetic is in his foreseeing the coming of the “last man.” These remind me of our U.S. citizens on Oxy, where one can say to them the most earth shattering things, as Pope Francis just said, and they stare back in stupefied dull amazement, indeed like cows to whom Lincoln practiced his speeches. It is Sunday, indeed, what time is the game on? The world is in danger of nuclear war today, and Putin is trying to destroy America and with it all hope for political liberty, and they blink. They do not know what political liberty is, or why it matters if Putin destroys it and America, nor do they know what tyranny is, or consider the difference between tyranny and liberty, but how is that stock market doing, and jobs jobs jobs, it is the economy, stupid.” No, it is in fact LIBERTY, stupid!! And for nuclear war, well, it will likely only fall on those other people, right? What time is the game on?

   In the fifth section of the Prologue to Zarathustra, Nietzsche prophesies the “last man:”

What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? Thus asks the last man, and he blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea beetle; the last man lives the longest.’We have invented happiness,’ say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth. ..Who still wants to rule, who obey? Both require too much exertion.

No shepherd and one herd! Everyone wants the same, everybody is the same: Whoever feels different goes voluntarily to the madhouse.

Formerly, all the world was mad,’ say the most refined, and they blink…One still quarrels, but one is soon reconciled- else it might spoil the digestion. One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night; but one has regard for health.

   Bodily health has of course replaced all ethics for us, as the one objective good we can all agree upon. “Just don’t smoke,” they say, as they blink.

We have invented happiness, say the last men, and they blink.

‘Give us this last man, O Zarathust,’ they shouted. ‘Turn us into these last men! Then we shall make you a gift of the overman!’ And all the people jubulated and clucked with their tongues.

   Here are two lines to compare, from early and then late in Prologue 5:

They have something of which they are proud. What do they call that which makes them proud? Education, they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds…

and then

I listened too much to brooks and trees: Now I talk to them as to goatherds…

   We, the Jesus philosophers, can appreciate the beauty of the diabolical, though it be at peril of our souls.

   The “overman” or “ubermench” is of course the superhuman tyrant who will seek to impress his form onto the matter that is mankind, since, you know, there is, according to Nietzsche, no natural form of man that we seek to fulfill in order to find true happiness (As for Plato and Aristotle), but rather a form that we create and impose tyrannically, expressing our “will to power,” since this- self-contradictorilly- is the truth about how man is. All modern philosophy is self contradictory. And why should this form be cruel and tyannical? It just is so? No, but there is a nature of these things, and there is good and evil, and evil is the perversion of the good.

   One saying of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas is most helpful in the Christian reading of Nietzsche, because the diabolical has the forms of the spiritual though these are inverted, so that the spiritual reader sees the forms, and, not understanding the diabolical turning, strepein or tropos, as we call it- the fallen angel is also an angel- they think Nietzsche is some fine fellow. Many clergymen cannot see this. But the saying from Thomas is:

#7Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.

   In both, the lion becomes man. Both refer to a spiritual transformation, the first the natural form and the second the diabolic opposite. It is because of the possibility of our becoming saints, like John, the equal of angels, that the diabolical can occur, the equal of fallen angels, and since 1917, according to the vision of Fatima, Hell gapes and souls fall in, as in Twentieth Century Totalitarianism. It is possible for humans to not allow these terrible things to occur, but the last men are too busy clucking, and making for Zarathustra a gift of the overman, as though there were nothing better to do.

In What Sense Jesus Is and Is Not God: The Trinity

   A very difficult point of disagreement between the Christians and the non-Christian believers in the God of Abraham is the question of the Trinity, or, in what sense the scriptures teach that Jesus is and is not God. Even the Muslims believe that Mr. Yashua is the messiah, and is to return in the last day, and the Jews too believe that the reign of the messiah will come through the latter days. We like to say of the Jews that the advent for them will be the second coming for the Christians, and then all will agree. But if Jesus is the messiah that will return, as Islam teaches, then clearly he is now living, and is something quite different from every other man.

 The trinity is a very difficult question. It is an interpretation, and not scripture. But Jesus was killed because they understood what he said to be blasphemy. What he says he is is very difficult. John 10:30-39, in any translation: “I said you are gods, sons of the Most High” Isaiah, cf. 7:14 and 9:1-6). Men are superior to the gods, and surely to the idols they worshiped. To the astonishment of traditional theologians, men too are “begotten not made,” (John 1:12-17, 3:6; Romans 6 explains more). This means that there is something in us higher than the created reason. There is the begotten Nous, translated intellect, the eye of the soul (Plato, Republic VI, Aristotle, Ethics, X). But Jesus is son in a yet higher sense than the reborn are sons, as we are begotten through the only-begotten son. He said, “I and the Father are one,” and then they take up stones. We do not say this of the sons, but only of the Son, and the sons of course should not say that, as the new-agers sometimes do. But John is not to bow to the angel! (Rev. 22:8; 19:10). But God can do that-incarnate his word- if we wants to! (Annunciation in Matt, John 1:9, 14). Go figure-sons through the only-begotten son! In Luke (18:19), Jesus explicitly distinguishes (Italics) himself from the Father: “Why do you call me Good? No one is good but God alone.” Also, there are things known by the father that Jesus does not know (Matthew 24:36). But I checked, and they do worship him, beginning with Peter, and worship is indeed not proper for any man. The three men who came to visit Abraham Genesis 18:1-2), and the three, Father, Son and Spirit, are in the scripture (Revelation 1; John 1). That Jesus is “Lord”is said to be only say-able by the Spirit (I Cor. 12:3). Is, was and will be is a name only in the writing of John, contrasted with was, is not, and is to ascend…(Rev.17). “Before Abraham was, I am.” (We think we can demonstrate that John is the writer of both the Gospel of John and the Revelation, whatever our ingenious modern scholars say and think. The Gospel of John, unlike the other three, excludes but leads into an account of the end times.) We do not have three gods, like the gods of polytheism, when we say Holy Spirit, nor when we say His Word. Islam and Israel both distinguish between the Father, His Word, and His Spirit.  Do they then also have other gods before him? If Mohammed were simply right about the trinity, these would be their three gods, since they admit that the scripture both distinguishes and identifies the Father and His Spirit and His Word. And do they idolatrize Mohammed, when they forbid comedy and violently prosecute supposed blasphemies against the prophet, unlike all other mere mortal men? Yeah, “always look on the bright side of life.”But that, three gods, is neither what they, no what we, mean. Is He His spirit? Is He His Word? Well, yes and no. Melchizedek taught the name God Most High! The sacrament of the bread and wine at Salem enters with Melchizedek, and Jesus is a priest not after Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek. He is also King and prophet, after the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the thee wise guys, the only non-Jews in the whole manger scene. The end of human sacrifice is what occurred on Mount Moriah, when Abraham was to sacrifice the whole thing in sacrificing his son Isaac. We misunderstand this to mean total obedience, but that is not the primary meaning. Then the end of animal sacrifice! The wolf and Lamb will lie together, and perhaps the Lions east grass! Jesus replaces the bloody sacrifices at the Last Supper, when he fulfills the meaning of the bead and wine which Melchizedek brought to Abraham, of Abram.
   The Messiah is not a legislator, as is Moses and Mohammed, who are both very violent against the idolaters. It is not from Moses that we ceased killing of women and children in war! The Messiah is redeemer, savior! We do not get from him some nation separate from Israel or from Islam, and Christians who do not belong to either of these laws are quite on their own- hence we have British and American law, which take the legislators as a guide, but, like Jesus, are not bound, for example to sacrifice animals or stone adulteresses. Nor to legislate that we swear no oaths, never hate our brother, never look upon a woman lustfully, and other things that cannot be legislated, and yet are right for the soul. Right is the basis of the law, but is above the law in this sense, the eternal word o the Torah before Moses was. The law is a trellis, and these the roses. Paul, who writes of “New Law,” speaks metaphorically of that according to which Jesus teaches what is right for the soul, as in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), and as distinct from, above and beyond what can be legislated. Paul is the one to teach us about the limitations of law! (Romans 7-9). So Jesus is not the legislator of a people or nation called Christians separated from Moses and Israel. He is the savior, and so can say that not a jot or iota of the law will be removed.
   We do not know what he is! And that is why the doctrine of the trinity is not scripture but interpretation. Is the Spirit and word of God a separate “person” from God the father? And do we say the whole trinity is what was made flesh, or only the word? Like the question of how Jesus is the descendant of David if he is not the offspring of Joseph, a very old man, the theologians do not like to address these questions of what we mean by the teaching of the trinity, because we do not know what he is, and Socratic ignorance undermines the assumption of the Medieval world, unexamined, that Jesus is a legislator.
In him was life, and the life is the light of men!

Many “Muslims” Are “Hebrews!”

   Previously, I have noted that Mohammed called the Christian apostles “Muslims,” meaning faithful, as like the Muslims, they worship the God of Abraham, who precedes the quarrel between Isaac and Ishmael. Mohammed does not refer to the Christians and Jews as “Infidels,” and so the quotes that do are mistaken, regardless or whether these things are said by ISIS or others to demonstrate that Islam is fundamentally terrorist. But this one is at least as good: The Jews are called Hebrews from Eber, the fourth generation from Shem, by whom they are called Semites. The Arabs descended from Ishmael are both Semites and Hebrews, just as much as the Jews. The name Jew comes from the tribe of Judah, while the name Israel applies to the twelve tribes from Joseph, who is Israel, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Ishmael was their uncle. “Antisemitism” is then a mistaken term when applied to Arab hatred of Jews.

   One of the Nazis angered by Trump spoke of “Satanic Jews,” and they cite a line of the Revelation about Jews who then were anti-Christian. I once gathered every mention of the Jews in the new testament to refute a guy in a coffee shop spouting such nonsense. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and about every guy in the manger scene, plus John, were likely all of the tribe of Judah, since Judah and Benjamin, with a sprinkling of Levites, are mostly who returned from Babylon to make up Israel from the five-hundreds B.C though 70 A.D. The ten tribes were scattered by the Assyrians by about 607, though there may have been remnants.

Note: The text here is Genesis 10: 21-31:

   To Shem also, the father of all the Children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children wee born…Arpachshad…became the father of Shelah, and Shelah became the father of Eber. To Eber were born two sons, the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brothers name was Joktan [Joktan had 13 sons] The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.

   It is very interesting to set the Biblical account- the oldest recorded history- against the account of Archaeology. Noah’s Ark is of course right where it is supposed to be on Mt. Ararat, and so the known peoples spread out from there. The mysterious Melchizedek meets Abram around Salem. From the archaeological account, it appears that the author of Genesis thought the known world to be the whole world. Noah occurs about 3,500 B.C., while Archaeology tells of all races now living outside of Africa having come out at about 70,000 B.C., the eruption of Santorini having killed all those who repeatedly entered Europe prior to 70,000, such as the Neanderthal. The native Americans came from a people of North east Asia, who were there about 40,000, and these are likely to have mixed as in eastern North America, with Europeans and in South America with Pacific Islanders. But one can see by looking at the races that they spread out from the San tribe in northern Africa, first along the coast all the way to Java and Australia, then up through the Middle east, and finally into Europe and China, then last to North and South America. The account in Plato’s Timaeus from the Egyptian priests is also revealing.

   There is a difficulty regarding the Hammites, as the text appears to justify their enslavement by the Japhethites and Shemmites. As can be expected, this text is used by the modern fascists to justify slavery. But we think that the people referred to may be a much smaller group, and related to the crime of Ham, an uncivilized practice which is related to idolatry, human sacrifice and Sodom. Africa, as an uncivilized area, rejects homosexuality in general, as do the Jews, and this emerges again when civilization declines in sophistication. To be clear, we reject the sins of Ham and Sodom, and teach a purified homosexuality, leaving love a matter we cannot know about, but teaching against the grosser bodily forms and practices of extreme lust, more harmful too to public health than cigarette smoking.