I should be working right now.  I am about 30k words into a new novel that is, IMHO, awesome.

But before I get to work today, I wish to perform a public service.  I need to help the various news agencies with a bit of editing.  As a writer, and before that as a pastor/theologian, I learned that putting the right label on a thing is vital to comprehension about what is really happening.  If I label something as hate, it communicates something different from labeling it as misplaced emotions.  One word hardens the situation into a very well know feeling, while the other phrase softens it into something almost incomprehensible.  What exactly is a misplaced emotion?  Likewise, labeling something as crazy means one thing, labeling it as extreme is something else.

Now to the point at hand.  Many of you, like myself, were no doubt horrified at the recent news of the American journalist named James Foley being beheaded yesterday by ISIS (Or is it ISIL now, or just Islamic State? it seems like it keeps changing) and then the video was posted on Youtube.  I refuse to watch the video, and will certainly not post it here, but I have heard video outtakes and seen the photograph of Foley kneeling, wearing orange beside a man dressed in black.

I have read several news reports, television reports, and radio bulletins on the incident, and I have found a mistake.  In each of these, the media continues to use the words militant, jihadist, or fighter to describe the man standing beside Foley.  One report (BBC) indicated that the ‘fighter’ was British and spoke with a ‘London’ accent.

Please be advised, the correct word is not militant.  If the individual was militant, he would be a part of a military and therefore would properly be called a soldier.  Jihadist is a better word, but still not quite right for this situation.  A Jihadist does what he or she does for religious reasons.  ISIS, though Muslim in the extreme, is operating as a political endeavor.  I believe the first S in ISIS stands for state.  Nation-states, though sometimes motivated by religion, are usually understood as political entities seeking to exert control of geography and resources.  Fighter is even a worse label.  Fighter is so ambiguous it could also be used to describe someone in a MMA event or a brawler on the school playground.

No, the correct word you are looking for is terrorist.  Please use the correct word, even if our political leaders don’t want the world thinking that terrorists are still a threat.

This has been a public service provided by Pastor Greenbean.  The More You know.




From time to time, the Greenbean blog is just a random list of things that are on my mind.  This is one of those times.


Home, Home on the Range, Where the BLM Roam

Did you notice that this past week there was what can only be called a “Showdown” going on out in Nevada.  Apparently a rancher claims hereditary rights to land that the government seized in 1993 due to a provision in the Endangered Species Act.  The feds will let him continue to graze there, but he has to pay a fee, they say, to use land his family has always used.  He refuses to pay.

It is quite the scene as the Bureau of Land Management has begun seizing his cattle unless he pays the $1.1 million in back grazing fees.

Three things come to mind.

  • Why are the feds acting now.  What do they really want?
  • The way of life in the west is different from the rest of the country, and this strikes me as being more of a cultural problem than a law problem.
  • This is the kind of thing that never ends well.

Putin Gambles with Other People’s Money

Putin is at it again in Ukraine.  I’ve already blogged about this (click here), and it seems my analysis was accurate.  Putin is upping the ante, and this will now only end in one way–with Ukraine being reabsorbed by the Russian state.  I don’t think the U.S. or the U.K. will honor its moral obligation to protect Ukraine, which is something they promised in 1994 when Ukraine voluntarily gave all its nuclear weapons to Russia.

Under a Blood Red Moon

Mrs. Greenbean woke me up at 2:45 this morning to see the lunar eclipse.  It is the first of four in this lunar eclipse tetrad that spreads out until September of 2015.  It was impressive, I have to admit.  The moon was a reddish/orangish hue and might be quite frightening if a person didn’t understand the science behind it.  I looked at it for a moment and then crawled back in bed.


Here comes the interesting part.  This mornings newspaper reports that San Antonio preacher John Hagee believes that this is a sign that the end is near.  Click here for a news report about Hagee and his claims.  Of course Hagee is wrong, although he will no doubt make a little coin off his book about it.  I don’t know why anyone gives any credence to loons like that (pun intended–loon–lunatic–lunar) when they howl that everything that happens is a sign of the end.  (Click here, here and here for other end of the world analysis).  These types of people, like Hagee, should never be trusted by anyone again on any issue because they have consistently proven they do not rightly handle the word of God.

Hate is a Poor Marksman

There is not much to say about the tragic shootings in Kansas.  Frazier Glenn Cross, 73 years old, hates Jews.  This is supported by his role as a leader in the Klu-Klux-Klan and avid white supremacist activity.  He attacked the Jewish center on Passover Eve and killed three people.  The problem, for him at least, is that the three people he killed were all self-identified Christians.

Much analysis is now taking place over hate crime laws, since he missed his mark.  The question seems to be, “Is it a hate crime to kill white Christians?”  I take the whole issue to be ridiculous because the crime is not in the hating, the crime is in the killing.  Regardless of who this man shot, he should spend the rest of his life in jail.  (For why I’m against the death penalty, click here.)  I continue to hold firm to my believe there is no such thing as a hate crime.  There is only crime.  Motivations are pretty meaningless.


lunar image from CNN.com


Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent, a day when we celebrate the joy of the coming of Christ.  It is the Sunday of the pink candle.

Yet, it was heavy on my heart that I should say something about the terrible, horrible, incomprehensible massacre that took place to 1st grade children and school workers in Newtown, Connecticut.  I shared with them that I would not take away sermon time, the sermon was important too, but that I wanted to address the subject because our worship must flow and connect to our everyday life, and we’d all seen the images and heard of the account.  We were all thinking theological thoughts too:  Theodicy, eternity, innocence.  I told them that on Friday I didn’t hear about it early because I generally unplug from media on Friday but I finally did hear about it and turned on the television.  But I couldn’t watch for long.  I couldn’t think about it.  My mind didn’t want to see.

Then I shared these three thoughts with our congregation, through the lens of how we talk to our children about it.  I did this because I believe these types of events impact children more than we think, but I also did it because as a pastor I realized that the adults needed to hear these things too, but if I couch it as ‘advice to children’ then they will hear me as a partner in the endeavor rather than thinking I was telling them what to do or think.

1.  Tell your children the truth.  Do not give them all the details like CNN would, but tell them the truth.  Do not lie about it if they ask, and they like will ask.  If we lie about or brush these things off, we lose credibility to speak to the really important and serious issues in our children’s lives.

2.  Tell your children they are safe.  The person who did this will never hurt anyone else.  Your principals, your teachers, the teachers at church and the preschool workers and the deacons and most importantly, your parents are making certain you are safe.  You do not have to be afraid.

3.  God did not do this.  Well meaning people often say, “Well, God has a reason for it,” but that is theologically untenable and emotionally destructive.  God had nothing to do with this terrible tragedy.  What we see here is freedom of choice in a fallen world that does have evil people in it.  God didn’t do this, but he will help us bring healing and purpose for our future out of it.

Those are the things I told our church.  Mostly, maybe, I was talking to myself.  Later when we prayed, we made certain to pray about it.  That helped the most.