Jesus’ Crucifixion — Revisited

THERE WERE REASONS BEHIND
A PIVOTAL EVENT IN HISTORY

I launched this blog about a year ago with a feature article titled, “Why was Jesus Crucified?” It offered a little different take on the subject, examining not the theological significance of Christ’s death, but the political and economic background of this pivotal event.

The crucifixion is something a lot of people have trouble grasping. To non-believers — and even some believers — it doesn’t really make sense. They ask some very reasonable questions which I pose in my essay…

“Why would anybody want to kill someone who went around preaching love and offering a lot of uplifting homilies? And healing the sick to boot! What’s not to like about all that?”

Well, there were reasons why certain key forces in First-Century Palestine were aligned against Jesus and his movement. I think it’s important to understand a little about them.

It’s important in solidifying a mature Christian faith. It’s equally important in helping to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings that sometimes make the Christian story a bit off-putting (that “stumbling block” Paul talks about).

Beginning Easter Sunday, the conservative webzine, American Thinker, has been running my article (in a slightly shortened version). Please take a few minutes to give it a read, and then please get back to me with your comments. I’ll be most interested to know what you think. You can access the article here…

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/03/why_was_jesus_crucified_.htm

American Thinker LogoAfter you’ve had the chance to read my piece at American Thinker, please go here…

COMMENTS

…to leave a comment.

Thanks!

 

Praying for the Jews

OLD GHOSTS HAVE COME BACK
TO HAUNT THE JEWS OF UKRAINE

To adapt a well known saying…KGB Insignia

You can take the boy out of the KGB, but you can’t take the KGB out of the boy.

Here’s something that has the smell of an old Soviet false flag operation in classic KGB style. Jews emerging from a synagogue after Passover services in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk were handed leaflets instructing them that they would have to register at the city office, currently occupied by pro-Russia militants. As reported by Israel’s Y-Net news service…

“The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.”

And pay a $50 fee for the privilege of filing…

“Donetsk, a Ukraine province with 4.3 million people — 10 percent of Ukraine’s population — and 17,000 Jews, is home to much of the country’s heavy industry, and is thus the biggest prize of the eastern regions….”

The leaflets were written in Russian, bore Russian symbols, and were signed by militant leader Denis Pushilin, who acknowledged that some members of his group distributed them. But he “denied any connection to the leaflet’s content.” Now to me, this has the fingerprints of former KGB man Vladimir Putin all over it. Here’s my take on the gambit…

1. Do something outrageous under sufficiently murky circumstances.

2. Stir up the world’s ire.

3. Claim it was really your opposition that did it and is trying to pin the blame on you.

Sound like a plausible scenario? (more…)

Do This for Me (Reprise)

A SONG ABOUT THE LAST SUPPER
TO KICK OFF EASTER OBSERVANCES

The first of my song lyrics posted after starting this blog focused on the opening event of the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper.

It was bit of conjecture about what one of the apostles (John, perhaps?) might have thought looking back from a few years after. I wrote it as an Easter meditation piece, and have performed it many times at Holy Thursday services.

Like my lyrics, my melodies are original. But as with a lot of hymns and Christian songs, they sometimes include phrases from older tunes (hopefully tunes in the public domain). I like to think of those little snatches as homages. You can think of them as theft.

If you heard me sing this piece, you’d recognize bits of the sentimental Irish ditty, “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral.”

Well, as some wag once observed…

Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism.

Have a blessed Easter.

 

Do This for Me

By Bill Kassel

Take this bread I offer, feast and fill your heart
Remember all the love I showed you from the start
Drink the cup of kindness that peace may finally be
And keep this as a sign for all to see
Do this for me

Now my hour approaches, now I soon must go
Unless a seed should fall, new life can never grow
Keep the words I gave you that truth may set you free
And share them with the least of those you see
Do this for me

It was late and his eyes were weary
And he knew what was coming with the day
But his voice was so clear that through all the years
I still can hear him say:

Take this bread I offer, feast and fill your heart
Remember all the love I showed you from the start
Drink the cup of kindness that peace may finally be
And keep this as a sign for all to see
Do this for me.

Copyright © 1994 Bill Kassel

 ––––––––––––

 

“Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral” was written in 1914 by Irish-American actor and songwriter, James Royce Shannon (1881–1946), who was born in Michigan and served as drama critic for the Detroit Free Press. Shannon also wrote the lyrics to The Missouri Waltz (1916) — music by Frederic Knight Logan — which eventually became the official Missouri State Song.

If you want to hear a classic version of Shannon’s Irish classic, you can’t do better than Der Bingle

YouTube Logohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw9B49epS_M&feature=kp

 

 

 

Profoundly Un-American

THE MOZILLA FLAP SHOWS ONCE MORE
HOW IDEOLOGY RESTRICTS FREEDOM

As nearly everyone plugged into the Net knows by now, Brendan Eich is one of the exalted visionaries of cyberworld, having invented the ubiquitous and indispensable JavaScript programming language.

Firefox LogoHe was one of the organizers of the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit group that encourages and guides development of Internet-related applications by webheads dedicated to the open-source concept of technological advancement through information sharing.

It seemed natural that Eich would be selected to lead the Foundation’s for-profit subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation, maker of the widely used Firefox web browser.

Natural, that is, until it came to light that he had made a $1,000 donation to the campaign promoting Proposition 8. That’s the infamous 2008 California ballot initiative specifying that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman.

Horror of horrors! How could such a retrograde view be supported by one of the leading lights of an industry in which most practitioners consider human gender to be as open-source as their technology? Why…why…why — such a notion is as antiquated as Kaypro or Commodore or the Apple IIe.

Away with him! Banish him to the land of 300-baud dial-up modems!

So Eich was out, after less than two weeks as CEO of Mozilla. And — Whadda ya know? — a virtual firestorm has engulfed the forward-looking community of innovators.

(more…)

Deadline? What Deadline?

FOLLOWING THE LAW —
NOW THERE’S A CONCEPT

ACA Logo“What the hell is this, a joke?”

That’s House Speaker John Boehner on finding out that people who aren’t able to sign up for Obamacare by the absolute, final, rock-solid, last-ditch, no-fooling-around, we’re-not-kidding, you-better-believe-we-mean-what-we-say deadline of March 31 will get extra time and not be subject to a fine after all.

As long as they assert that they “made a good-faith effort” in the attempt.

Assert by checking a box on a form, that is — a claim which will be unverified. Hey, it’s the honor system.

As reported by Britain’s Daily Mail, Boehner insisted…

“The law says that enrollment stops at the end of March. That’s what the law says….

“I’ve got to live by the law. You’ve got to live by the law. The American people have got to live by the law. And guess what? The president needs to live by the law as well.”

Now there’s a concept — one over which our highly improvisational Chief Executive doesn’t seem to lose much sleep.

(more…)

Hold the Presses!

JOURNALISM IS CRIPPLED BY ECONOMICS
BUT IDEOLOGY IS JUST AS DESTRUCTIVE

It should come as no surprise that the class I remember most fondly from my days as a Journalism major at Temple University would be Editorial Writing. But then, as I have confessed…

Temple U LogoI’ve always been opinionated and long-winded. Which pretty much proves I was born to blog.

My least favorite class was Editing. It was taught by an old guy who had been a slot man for many years on a local paper, and who insisted we learn the names of every county seat in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Explanation: A slot man was the guy who sat in the center — or slot — of the horseshoe-shaped copy desk, directing the flow of stories to the editors seated around him.)

Spelling counted in Editing class. In fact, the course was all about accuracy and detail — which felt extremely tedious and restrictive to us students, raised as we were on equal portions of Edward R. Murrow and Clarke Kent. Our idea of journalism was digging for dirt, uncovering corruption, defeating bad guys, bringing truth to the people.

Our professor’s idea was getting the names, ages and addresses right.

(more…)

Standards and Freedom

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MAY BE PUSHING
THE LIMITS OF OUR NATIONAL TOLERANCE

Hillsdale College has long been known for its lecture series and policy forums. In the early ’90s, during my years there as Director of Public Affairs (academic-speak for PR flack), we held a symposium on the subject: Can Democracy Preserve Our Freedom?

It explored whether America’s form of representative government could sustain itself indefinitely in the face of factionalism and self-interest — forces which had always been present in U.S. politics, but which (in the post-Reagan years) seemed to be getting worse. Some very distinguished thinkers took part, including conservative intellectual icon, Russell Kirk, and European journalist/philosopher, Jean-François Revel, author of “Without Marx or Jesus,” “The Totalitarian Temptation,” and other works.

Our topic was quite provocative — counter-intuitive, really — as the Soviet Union was crumbling and democracy appeared triumphant on every front. These days it seems quaint. Almost naive.

Indeed, the question looming before us now is less whether democracy can preserve our freedom than whether current political trends should be viewed as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilization. Some people are seriously worried about what the answer might be.

(more…)

Cosmos — II

SURE, IT HYPED “NATURAL SELECTION”
BUT THEN, WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT?

Whether or not the new Cosmos series was intended to debunk God, the second episode was guilty of what, in television, is a much more damnable sin: It was boring.

Fox TV LogoTrying to capture the enormous complexity of life in an hour interrupted by way too many commercials — this is Fox, remember, not PBS — the show presented a veritable star cluster of facts and assertions with the shallowest and most fleeting of explanations, and pretty much no specific evidence of anything. The effect, on me at least, was tedium, unrelieved even by all the dazzling visual effects.

It goes without saying that the Darwinian concept of Natural Selection would be presented as the undisputed source of life’s limitless variety (it’s not a theory, we were told). While people of faith look at this great multiplicity and see the creative power of God, Cosmos celebrated the power of chance.

(more…)

Cosmos

AN UPDATE OF THE CARL SAGAN CLASSIC
STARTS OFF WITH A BLAST AT THE CHURCH

If you follow the Catholic blogoshpere, you’ve no doubt seen a goodly portion of outrage over the premiere episode of Fox TV’s new Cosmos, the update of Carl Sagan’s ’70s PBS science series. The cause of all this indignation is a rather tacky cartoon segment (in contrast with the other stunning graphics featured in the show) Fox TV Logodescribing how the 16th-Century Catholic Church persecuted philosopher/mystic Giordano Bruno.

As related by host (and Carl Sagan protégé), Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bruno was burned at the stake for proposing a heretical idea. To wit: that the earth revolved around the sun, and that the stars seen shining in the sky were themselves actually suns, each of which likely had its own orbiting planets.

Let’s dispense with the facts of the matter — this from a secular source, The Scientists by Cambridge astrophysicist John Gribbin (Random House 2002)…

(more…)

Lifted Away

A SIMPLE SONG FROM THE ’80s
TO AID YOUR LENTEN PRAYERS

We’re in the season of Lent, which is a time when prayer, always recommended, is keenly urged.

But while Lenten prayers tend to have a penitential character, we shouldn’t ignore their mystical potential. Indeed, Lent is a good time to let ourselves be lifted away from our daily cares to a higher level of spiritual communion — which this season is intended to help us achieve.

Back in the day, I wrote a song for my musical group, Company, the entertainment ministry I’ve mentioned from time to time. It became part of our concert repertoire, and we included it on the album we released in 1980.

It’s a simple tune, in 3/4 time, intended to convey the peacefulness which certain prayer experiences can promote…

 

Lifted Away

Words & Music by Bill Kassel

When all the cares disturb my heart
When sorrow tears my soul apart
I think about the peace I’ve felt in Your touch
Neither the wine that man has grown
Nor seed of flower the earth has sown
Could ease my mind or lift me so much

Lifted away
To a place where my heart knows no trouble
Lifted away
To a land where my mind lives in peace
Lifted away in the freedom
You’ve taught me to know
I think you You
And I’m lifted away

I’ll think of You each day, and then
When time has run its course again
Look back on all the trials
You’ve carried me through
I’ll give my heart for You to know
And if You say You want it so
I’ll live in peace forever with You

Lifted away
To a place where my heart knows no trouble
Lifted away
To a land where my mind lives in peace
Lifted away in the freedom
You’ve taught me to know
I think you You
And I’m lifted away.

Copyright © 1980 by Bill Kassel

 

CompanyKitty and David Brilliant, two of the founders of Company, came across some old photos from the group’s seven-year run. I recently added them to our Facebook page. If you’re curious, you can check them out at…

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Company-Music-Ministry/344721965603914?ref=hl#sthash.TXeBAQRJ.dpuf

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If you’d like to see other song lyrics I’ve posted, go to CATEGORIES in the left column, and click on Song Lyrics.

 

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