Saturday, October 24, 2009

Discussions, Debates or Outrage, Which of These Should Immigrant Issues Incur?

     Throughout my professional career (as an educator, communicator, social services provider, civil servant and government employee) I have always felt that success in any of these endeavors required establishing strong lines of communication. It was my belief (and still is) that the more informed a person was, the easier it became to make sound and positive decisions, those (which hopefully) benefitted all concerns.
      I have always felt that having discussions (especially if conducted in a civilized manner) afforded all involved with the most positive approach to arrive at decisions (and or conclusions) that make the most common sense. One would like to think that our elected officials (at the local and national levels) would use this approach, too; but by observation their discussions become more debate than discussions, I would say primarily due to the imposed time constraints. And that’s not all bad, either.
      One good thing about debates (as well as discussions, too) is they provide the opportunity to present a variety of facts and data pertinent to the subject under discussion. For example, when discussing funding for local education, school administrators present corroborating data such as student-to-teacher ratio, salaries, books and other administrative costs, and funders usually discuss budget allocation and limitations, and fiscal responsibilities to the tax payers (this is a generalized example).
      Right now, our country is facing two major (and possibly societal and cultural-changing) issues: healthcare and immigration reform. It appears that immigration reform is being pushed onto the back burner by the Obama administration so it can focus more so on the healthcare issue. And one can understand why due to the fact that immigration reform is probably much more volatile than healthcare. Immigration reform has touched America’s main nerve center more than any other issue since whether we should have bombed Iraq or not, which we did.
   During that imbroglio, much data was being presented back and forth by the CIA and other governmental entities, making claims that Iraq did possess Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as the State Department and other government departments to justify the action taken by the George W. Bush Administration, amid the hue and cry by anti-war protests. This issue was most definitely important because it could have thrown us into Word War lll. 
      However, the immigration issue isn’t really as threatening to our national security as many people make it out to be. Yes, we are definitely concerned about terrorists crossing the Mexican border and officials at both sides have implemented their best respective security measures to prevent that, and have had these systems in place for years. Since 911, pressure from paranoids has increased. However, the hue and cry for security from terrorists coming through the Mexican borders are actually smokescreens to hide the fact that paranoids  are mostly fearful that immigrants will consume America and change its National Identity, therefore the mantra employed is “let’s build the highest fence we can to keep the rift raft out!" Fine! This is all well and good and (trust me) many Latinos understand this psychosis.
      However, what would appear strange and rather disconcerting, as each side prepares the evidence it wants to use in their respective positions concerning immigration, is the inclusion of data that has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand. For example, during the great Iraq debate (as to whether this country should invade and bomb), as it was before the national stage, if in a CIA paper to the President would find information that an Iraqi citizen had raped a little girl, ostensibly justifying we should bomb Iraq, I’m certain that many eye brows would be raised. Most certainly, all crimes against any society must be solved by capturing the individual perpetrator and meting out the appropriate justice. But, should this particular crime (as horrible as it is) be considered as sufficient rationale to bomb Iraq?
      Also, if additional data were included in an NSC (National Security Council) memorandum to the President that it had information about drug cartels in Iraq kidnapping and murdering Iraqi citizens near the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, should this information be considered as evidence that supports the contention that Iraq possesses Weapons of Mass Destruction? If anything this innocuous data would add nothing to the debate but in fact would result solely in agitating and igniting the emotions of certain segments of society to get upset and holler: “Yea! Let’s nuke those suckers! Yea! Nuke the bastards!”
      Well, guess what? ALIPAC (Americans for Legal Immigration), who claim they are dedicated to fighting against illegal immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens, and seek a peaceful solution to the crisis that involves Americans of every race, party, and denomination working together, have injected stories on their web site that can do nothing else but incite its constituents to respond to their cause by using data that is not even remotely connected to the issue of solving the immigration problem.             
     ALIPAC does not provide any empirical data concerning the positive economic impact that immigrants (legal or otherwise) have had throughout history. No mention of the fact that employers deduct all the taxes (social security, state, federal et al) from immigrant payroll checks, no mention of the fact that their mostly disposable income is tossed back into the economy on a 24 hour basis, no mention of fact that they take on and perform work that no natural citizen would accept at the (cheap) prevailing wages employers get away with, nor about how the stoop labor community provides the lettuce on the millions of McDonald’s sandwiches we gulp down each day. Well, why should (or would) they, they oppose immigration!
      But, let some Latino in a faraway country rape a little girl and ALIPAC will make certain it gets front page attention. No mention is ever made by the ALIPAC's of the world about the nineteen hundred Latina woman that have been murdered in 2009, alone, along the Mexican border; but yet news about a missing white female college student in Virginia recently created media swarm on all networks, causing Amber alerts going off and creating alarm and fear throughout our caring nation.
      Read the news items ALIPAC posts on its web site for its constituents, and then let the rest of America know how these contribute to the discussion or the debate as to how we (a united America) can find an equitable solution to the immigration debate:

Honduran Illegal Admits Sexually Assaulting 8 yr old
We are dedicated to fighting against illegal immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens and seek a peaceful solution to the crisis that involves Americans of every race, Party, and denomination working together.

Wednesday, October 21 @ 02:05:12 EDT by illegal_immigration (57 reads)

illegal immigration alien arrests
An undocumented Honduran immigrant, whose bail became the subject of a New Jersey Supreme Court case earlier this year, pleaded guilty today to sexually-assaulting a 8-year-old girl. 

Manuel Fajardo-Santos, 31, admitted today to sexually assaulting his girlfriend's younger sister in Wharton on Aug. 24, 2008 after returning home from a party. Superior Court Judge John Dangler set sentencing for Jan. 29. 

Topics: Illegal Immigrant, Manuel Fajardo-Santos, sexual assault, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, New Jersey Supreme Court

Spillover of carnage in Mexico undeniable
Tuesday, October 20 @ 12:12:03 EDT by illegal_immigration (105 reads)

Mexican Mexico Border illegal immigratio
SAN DIEGO COURTS — Men kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight. Bodies dumped along roadsides and in abandoned cars. Human remains dissolved in acid. 

It's the kind of violence seen all too often in some Mexican border cities, where thousands have fallen victim to a prolonged war between drug cartels. 

But the indictments of 17 men, both U.S. and Mexican citizens, accused of running a drug-trafficking-and-murder crew called Los Palillos in San Diego offer the best proof in recent years that cartel violence has spilled across the border.

Topics: illegal immigration, Mexico, drug cartels, spillover, violence, kidnapping, murder, acid, bodies

     As we indicated at the beginning, a united America can solve the immigration problem in a truly honest, thoughtful and productive manner through calm discussions, and or by debating meaningful and statistically-proven data, or it can continue in the vicious, mean-spirited and vitriolic manner it has evolved into. But, most of all, in cannot continue in the dishonest and inciting fear tactics employed by ALIPAC, who claims in its web site that it seeks a peaceful solution to the crisis that involves Americans of every race, party, and denomination working together.” 


Joe Ortiz is the author of two books that challenge the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrines, being promulgated by right-wing evangelicals who support military solutions to an historical conflict in the Middle East. For more information about his books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, visit his web site at: The End Times Passover

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A House for ALL Peoples!

By guest author, Ched Myers

[I ran across this following article and immediately contacted Ched Myers and asked him if I could re-post this on my blog. This article was first published in Sojourner’s Magazine, April 2006, over three and a half years before the immigration reform issue ballooned to the explosive and divisive debacle it has evolved to. The appeal of this article centered on the fact that Ched Myers is one of the few people I know who has brought forth pertinent and specific scripture to the table of the immigrant debate, an approach I have attempted on this blog since its inception several months ago. What saddens me the most about the immigration reform debate is that so many of my Christian friends are at the forefront of many mean-spirited groups that have chosen to spew forth the most vile epithets against Latino people, by not only impugning the character of immigrants, but many sincerely believe that God supports their efforts, primarily because (they believe) immigrants who have crossed the border of Mexico to this country are criminals and low-life parasites who want to drain this country of its wealth and resources. The only true argument against this sordid view is to not only educate the masses how God feels about ‘the alien in our midst,’ but that hopefully, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will recognize their folly - Joe Ortiz]

There have always been two Americas: that of rich and poor, of inclusion and exclusion. The America of inclusion found expression in the ideal of "liberty and justice for all," and has been embodied whenever Indian treaties were honored, and in the embrace of civil rights, women's suffrage, or child labor laws. The America of exclusion, on the other hand, was articulated in a Constitution that originally enfranchised only white landed males and has been realized in land grabs, Jim Crow segregation, Gilded Age economic stratification, and restrictive housing covenants.

These two visions of America continually compete for our hearts and minds, not least in our churches. On one side are the voices of Emma Lazarus in her poem "The New Colossus" ("Give me your tired, your poor..."), and Martin Luther King Jr. when he preached "I Have a Dream." On the other side are those of George W. Bush's imperial politics and James Dobson's "Focus on the Family."

Perhaps the most consistent battleground between the two Americas, from inception to the present, has concerned immigration. Where our churches locate themselves on this political and theological terrain is profoundly consequential.

All social groups establish boundaries-whether physical impediments, such as fences or borders, or symbolic and cultural lines, such as language or dietary laws. Such boundaries can be a good thing, especially when they help protect weaker people from domination by stronger people. More often, however, boundaries function in the opposite manner: to shore up the privileges of the strong against the needs of the weak. It is this latter kind of boundary that characterizes the current U.S. immigration debate and that the Bible consistently challenges.

Torah warns the people not to discriminate against economic or political refugees, since in God's eyes even Israelites are "but aliens and tenants" in the land (Leviticus 25:23). Instead they are to stand in solidarity with the "sojourners in our midst" (Deuteronomy 24:14). This is later reiterated in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35). I want to go beyond these well-known exhortations, however, and examine one text from each Testament that together makes a powerful case that the very health of our body politic depends upon our embrace of "outsiders."

ISAIAH 56:1-8 is the opening stanza of the prophetic oracle sometimes referred to as "Third Isaiah." The parts of the book of Isaiah known as second Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and Third Isaiah (chapters 56-66) represent the work of prophetic successors to the great eighth century prophet himself: the former during the exile to Babylon, the latter during the "reconstruction" period following the return. These writings arose out of prophetic "schools" (see for example 2 Kings 4:38), in which disciples recontextualized the word and work of their teachers in another historical moment. This is, of course, what all preachers do every time we try to proclaim the Word in the midst of a given social situation.

Isaiah 56:1-8 is his "invocation," setting a tone of radical inclusion, envisioning a time when people from all over the world, including ethnic outsiders and other minorities, will be welcomed as full members into God's house. The prophet reiterates this theme at the close of his oracle as well: "The time has come to gather all the nations and tongues; they shall come and behold my glory" (Isaiah 66:18). This is the "new heaven and new earth" that Yahweh intends to bring about (66:22).

Scholars date Third Isaiah sometime in the first two generations of the exiles' return from Babylon, between the reconstruction of the temple (circa 515 BCE) and the time of Nehemiah (circa 444 BCE). There were many issues facing those trying to rebuild Israelite society under the imperial rule of Persia. Those who had been exiled to Babylon were the upper classes of Israelite society: priests, managers, the landed aristocracy, scribes, etc. The peasant majority, however-the "people of the land"-had remained behind in Palestine, working the land and scraping out a living, as the poor have always done under any regime. As the elites began to trickle back, they set about trying to re-establish their title to land, social status, and political position.

Clinton Hammock, in a monograph analyzing in detail this social and historical context, argues that these returnees were a mixed bag and included land speculators and carpetbaggers trying to take economic advantage of the new settlements; priests determined to re-establish a cultic center as their power base; ultra-nationalists who saw a chance to rebuild old dreams of sovereignty; and political front men for Israel's Persian overlords. They all agreed on one thing, however: They would define and lead the reconstruction project.

It is not hard to imagine, then, their conflicts with the existing population over property, politics, and religion, and indeed we hear allusions to this in Nehemiah 4-6. We need only think of the situation of Palestine since 1948, also a struggle between longtime residents on the land being disenfranchised by ideologically motivated and politically and militarily powerful "returnees."

The strategy of the elites was to purge the "people of the land" by establishing new ethnic purity standards, focusing on shoring up boundaries of marriage and nationality. The Persians were supportive of such measures, as they wanted their colony to be ethnically uniform to better enable their imperial management. Thus Nehemiah forbids future intermarriages (Nehemiah 10), while Ezra goes further, demanding the divorce of foreign wives (Ezra 910). This position was likely legitimated on the basis of Deuteronomy 23:18, which specifically excluded "from the assembly" males who were not sexually functional, the "illegitimately" born, and foreigners.
It is not hard to understand why the peasants resisted these attempts to exclude them, and Third Isaiah emerged as their advocate. He argues against the position of Ezra and Nehemiah, taking issue specifically with their view that the nation is best protected through purity codes. Instead, the prophet calls for the community to be preserved through ethical behavior: Whoever keeps the Sabbath covenant is entitled to full inclusion. He underlines the point using two "extreme" examples: eunuchs and foreigners.

The oracle begins with a dramatic exhortation: "This is what God says: 'Defend justice! Do what is right! Then I will vindicate you!'" (Isaiah 56:1). From the outset the issue is justice, defined in 56:2 as obeying Torah, keeping Sabbath, and turning away from evil. The prophet is invoking Sabbath as the heart of Torah ethos, with its twin social concerns to 1) Constrain greed: Everyone must have enough and the gifts of creation should circulate rather than concentrate (Exodus 16:16-19) and 2) Deconstruct poverty: releasing those who groan under the burden of debt (Deuteronomy 15) and allowing the poor to glean the surplus of the fields (Exodus 23:10-12).

But Third Isaiah goes further, addressing those who are being legally and socially excluded on the basis of purity. We hear the voice of those who have internalized this rejection in terms of their self-worth and social prospects: "Let not the foreigner say, 'The Lord will surely separate me from his people'; let not the eunuch say 'I am just a dry tree.' For this is what God says..." (Isaiah 56:3).

The eunuch who keeps the Sabbath covenant will receive "in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off' (56:5 is a play on the Hebrew word for eunuch, which comes from a root meaning to castrate). The prophet knew very well that eunuchs were, according to Levitical strictures, supposed to be "cut off from benefits of cult and family life, which would mean their names would also be lost to posterity, an ancient way of rendering someone socially invisible.

Instead, God promises an honored place in the "house," something better than pride of genealogy or title to land. This is symbolized by a special "monument" and an "everlasting name." (Playfully, the Hebrew word rendered as "monument" is yd, which can also be a euphemism for "penis.") This is a poignant word to the current debate over exclusion of lesbian and gay people from full status in church and society.

The only people below eunuchs in the social hierarchy were foreigners-and this is exactly who the prophet next addresses. If foreigners follow God and observe the Sabbath covenant, "I will bring them to my holy mountain, and their sacrifices will be acceptable. Because my house will be known as a place where all nations pray" (Isaiah 56:7). This is Third Isaiah's answer to Ezra and Nehemiah's culture war on those who didn't fit the national ideal.

In his view, the Jerusalem temple was meant to be a world house, not a national shrine (as every other temple in antiquity was). Yahweh welcomes whosoever desires to follow the Way, regardless of who they are in their somatic or ethnic identity. Third Isaiah's perspective did not, however, prevail against the ethnocentric strategy of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, many of those kicked out of the newly proscribed Judean body politic ended up as the despised "Samaritans" of Jesus' day. But God's Word did not prove fruitless.

More than four centuries later, a young Jesus of Nazareth, preaching his first sermon, looked hard at his audience and proceeded to read from the heart of Third Isaiah's oracle (Luke 4:18 parallels Isaiah 61:1). Jesus may have staked his entire ministry on a re-appropriation of this prophetic tradition. He invokes it again at the culmination of his struggle with the public authorities in Jerusalem: In the midst of his dramatic "exorcism" of the temple, Jesus quotes directly from our text: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Luke 19:46 parallels Isaiah 56:7). It was this vision of radical inclusion that animated Jesus' constant transgressions of the social boundaries of his day: eating with lepers, hanging out with women, touching the impure, teaching the excluded. More than anything else, it may have been what got him strung up.

(Menudo? Of course, senora, I would love a bowl!)

Jesus most clearly addressed this issue in an oft-overlooked parable found in Mark's gospel. "There is nothing which goes into you that can defile you; only that which comes out of you defiles you" (Mark 7:15). This teaching is another prophetic skirmish with the social function of the purity code. Mark's Jesus is defending his disciples' practice of sharing table fellowship with the "unclean" outsider (Mark 7:1-5) by insisting that "What goes into a person's body from the outside cannot contaminate it" (7:18). Mark presents this parable as one whose meaning the disciples must not mm (7:17)!

Jesus is proposing the physical body as a symbol of the "body politic of the nation (a metaphor employed also by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12). His point - which echoes exactly Third Isaiah's argument - is that the social boundaries constructed by an exclusionary purity code are powerless to protect the integrity of the community, which can only truly be "corrupted" from within. In what may be at once his most radical and most widely ignored teaching, Jesus rejects all culturally proprietary boundaries that allegedly protect a community from perceived external threats. Scape-goating or excluding outsiders cannot protect us; we must look to our own ethical behavior. "Only that which comes out of you defiles you" (Mark 7:20).

The episodes that immediately follow in Mark's narrative underscore the point. Jesus' own male and ethnic honor is challenged in the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman. In the sole gospel instance of Jesus losing a verbal joust, he concedes the justice of this female foreigner's insistence upon inclusion (Mark 7:24-30). The expanded circle of enfranchisement is then illustrated by the feeding of Gentile multitudes (Mark 8:1-9). Jesus then warns his disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Herodians" (8:15), which represents the social and political exclusivity that jeopardizes the "one loaf” around which the church is called to gather.

To be sure, issues related to the continuing and often involuntary migration of people, and to the geopolitical definition of human communities, are complex in the modern world and deserve our careful reflection and deliberation. But these are finally theological and pastoral issues for Christians, and we must seek to know immigrants and refugees not as statistics but as human beings who endure extraordinary hardship and trauma in their struggle to survive.

And for U.S. citizens, these are issues of national identity. Israel's ethic of compassion toward outsiders was shaped by its own history of pain: "You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:21). We, too, are a nation of immigrants. Amidst the current culture wars that marginalize immigrants and refugees, then, our churches must choose which America we embrace. To do that we must "hear and understand" Jesus' teaching afresh (Mark 7:14), and that of Third Isaiah before him. If we refuse to take sides with today's outsiders, we too are "without understanding" (Mark 7:18).

Ched Myers, a fifth generation Californian, is a minister, author, speaker and activist who lives in Oak View, CA. Over the past three decades he has worked with many peace and justice organizations and movements, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Pacific Concerns Resource Center and the Pacific Life Community. Today, with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, he focuses on building capacity for biblical literacy, church renewal and faith-based witness for justice. He can be contacted at: Ched Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, PO Box 328, Oak View, CA 93022

Joe Ortiz is the author of this blog and also two books that challenge the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Left Behind dogma being promoted by many right-wing evangelicals to justify military resolution the historical Middle East crisis. For more information about his two books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, visit the The End Times Passover ~

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh Say Can You See”

Joe Ortiz 

The major league baseball playoffs in a couple of months will decide who gets to go to the 2011 World Series. Most baseball fans consider this to be the penultimate event of the year. I’ve attended several World Series events (the one between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in 1963, where the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in four straight games) is my all-time favorite.

In addition to the excitement, eating Dodger Dogs, peanuts and popcorn (and one or two ice cold cups of beer), the part that I remember and enjoy the most is singing our national anthem. Every time I sang it in school, and especially while attending a sporting event, it has always brought tears to my patriotic eyes. However, the only tears I have been shedding lately are for the sad state of affairs we are experiencing in this great country of ours, especially its dividedness. This sadness is more profound and visible as we see the national mean-spirited discussion concerning Immigration Reform.

Most pundits are saying whatever the solution (to grant healthcare and amnesty or not to illegal immigrants) could very well turn our country into a different direction; but which direction? Both sides have launched campaigns that stoke the furnace of fear and insecurity, and they both believe they have the only solution. Liberal Democrats lean towards leniency with those who have crossed the borders without any authority.  Conservative Republicans say law breakers have to be punished and returned back to their respective countries or else all sense of order will never be restored and will provide more of the same problems (lack of national security, unemployment, a rise in taxes, etc.).

I personally abhor outdated labels such as liberal and Conservative. Those labels paint unqualified perceptions of the individual and deny the opportunity to evaluate their hearts intent. Conservatives say their adherents are for less government; however, it’s the government leaders (at the national level, especially) who are shelling (no pun intended) out billions of your tax dollars for war-making purposes that result solely in filling the purses of the money-changers. Liberals say they are concerned more so about the American citizen, promising a chicken in every pot. Their philosophies are both weak to the truth! Regardless, the variance in views has polarized our American family as never before. But more importantly, these respective doctrines fail because they never truly consider the spiritual question. I’m not speaking about the emotional nor the patriotic spirit, but the spirit of human creation itself!

Yes, I still believe our country was formed to escape the church dictating the affairs of states as was the case with most of the old Western world. Our nation supposedly was founded so its citizens would have the freedom to practice the religion of their choice and live within the framework of a fair and just government. The idealism behind the Constitution was a mindset that spoke about liberty and justice for all. The bedrock of this ideology emanated from its people’s heart and soul. It spoke about its love and respect for family, hard work, pioneering spirits, and especially for its commitment to the good for all of our fellow human beings. I believe this spirit came from God! Somehow, however, we seem to have lost our way. Yes! We got bombed by terrorist in our own back yard and we are now more guarded about security issues. And, like the judicious country that we are, we needed to corral the culprits and bring them to justice, as we always have. Instead, the political and media grinding machines stoked and fanned the flames of fear and paranoia that exists to this day. We trust no one, and our ‘love thy neighbor’ heart now palpitates a wave of racism and hatred that has turned into an un-American monster tsunami that floods the heart and soul of a once admired and respected nation. Worse, our supposed cultural differences have become the giant smokescreen that fogs the eyes of the human spirit.

Something sadder and more horrific than the threat of unemployment, a depressed economy, and tanking real estate market (our family lost $250,000 already) is blinding the hearts and minds of the America family. This national nativism is dissipating the spirit it received over 200 hundred years ago, an inspired people which had been the envy of the world. Nowadays, we are seen by too many other countries as selfish, self-centered peoples, being more concerned about our individual welfare and deny any share of the American dream to those who believed its historical mantra. Showcasing by example a strong democratic system to the world is a great idea, but not if it is void of the heart, soul and spirit that once made it the envy of the world. The example we have set in these last two years, in regards to the ‘immigrant solution’ especially, both politically and spiritually, have been of such hubris, gluttony, self indulgence, arrogance, power hungry and cultural mendaciousness, it’s no wonder America’s image has been damaged as never before. Yet no elected government official cries out for a sensible solution to the immigration problem; seeking solely for a way to retain their seats of power. This is not true leadership!

We definitely are the freest country in the world. Maybe we have too much freedom. But, we don’t accept this criticism with any degree of unity. Instead, we cling to our Liberal or Conservative mantras and slug it out with each other, with immigrants being treated like yesterday’s broken piƱata rather than the national resource they have proven to be since the founding of this once great country. Both sides have valid points, but both miss the mark when it comes to human dignity, when we should be about amicably solving the problem rather than stoking a vile and putrid hatred never before seen or imagine in U.S. history.

The biggest message we are sending today is that the American family is a divided nation! The reason for this is that we depend not on God’s immutable laws, but on our own manmade systemic doctrines. It’s more about ‘us Americans’ against people of color, the Left or of the Right, not about God’s truth. We don’t agree with the other person’s philosophy; it’s all about a one sided jingoistic rhetoric that hides an inner hatred of people with different languages, skin colors and unique cultural traditions by calling their fellow human beings ‘lawbreakers, rather than trusting and depending on God’s wisdom to arrive at an equitable solution for all concerned. Many will say this is religious rhetoric, but God has said and He has placed it into the conscience of each individual to know the difference between right and wrong, whether they have read or ever studied God’s word.

But this national dividedness is our own fault! And it begins in our respective households! The tenor of the day is what we call reality, that insidious underbelly of human nature that permeates every aspect of today’s society. You can see it best on our media screen which show subtle images that promoters know can pierce the heart of a people who have wanted nothing more or nothing less than what all Americans aspire. Our media are pouring forth images that negate the very tenets embodied in the Ten Commandments, such as “Love Thy Neighbor.”

Media (and those who pay for the clever innuendos) do this so craftily you have to wonder who is responsible and why this subtle denigration of a people’s culture, language and traditions prevails. But, it’s not just about selling idiotic costumes, it’s about selling hatred and divisiveness that is slowly, but surely, eating away at the core values and the Godly fabric that makes up the entire American family. Our respective families are the mirror of our society. And unfortunately, we are divided as never before in our history! We lack the self-respect, courtesy, dignity and honor that were once the envy of every nation in the entire world. We used to be a great people. We were known for our charity to all of humanity. Now we indulge self, not only our stomachs and our eyes, but our hearts, minds and souls with a putridity never before imagined. While we can’t see this, others can! What message are we sending to the rest of the world? Is this the character of tomorrow’s American Family!

This country is my family, and this country needs to heal its spiritual malaise. This country is Anglo, Mexican, black, Asian, Native American and a myriad of other nationalities, a people who were either born or arrived here to fulfill the American Dream. Its people and its leaders need to look inwardly and recapture the spirit that blazed a path of glory for over 200 years, one that was based not on man conceived philosophies (Left or Right, liberal or conservative), but on the fundamental principles embodied in God’s word.

The next time you attend a sporting event with your kids, or a school function, where they begin singing our national anthem, when those words of one of the most beautiful songs ever written proclaims, “Oh say can you see,” ask yourself if you can really see what’s truly going on within our America family. Then say a little prayer for God to forgive us for what we are doing and to quickly begin the healing. Remember! We can’t heal family problems we claim do not exist!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land, (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Click here> Oh Say Can You See


Joe Ortiz is the author of two books that challenge the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and premillennial dispensational precepts and doctrines being promoted by many right-wing evangelicals. The two books include The End Times Passover (Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines) and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (The Sequel to The End Times Passover), published by Author House. The former talk show host, journalist and news columnist is the first Mexican American to host a show on an English-language, commercial radio station, beginning in 1971 at KABC-AM Radio in Los Angeles.