Left Mississippi a few days ago. The plane ride wasn’t half-bad. It started poorly—the 767 had engine problems, so despite waking up at 2am, we didn’t take off until 4pm that day. That ride was a bit crowded, but I had decent company. And I slept.
We had a layover at JFK international airport. We weren’t allowed in the airport proper with our weapons, so we had to stay sequestered in our own terminal. When we were given leave to roam about the airport, we had to leave folks behind to watch the weapons. Thanks Bloomberg, you statist, immature, sexually and emotionally stunted hoplophobe. I have a God-given right to self-defense anywhere and everywhere I go. Simply because I’m in your crime-ridden city and you don’t trust your own citizens (or subjects, shall I say?) enough to allow (as if you can, in an act of noblesse oblige, amend or abridge the Bill of Rights at your whim) them to protect themselves (and you don’t really want them to- let’s face it, you and your ilk wish to rule over a nation of children- with you as the loving progressive parents) doesn’t mean that I- a free man by action and choice- must submit myself to your immoral laws.
Anyhow, I really have to alter my opinion of New Yorkers. I admit to being prejudiced towards them. When we started to travel around the airport, I reflected to my medic that we were unlikely to be singled out in a positive fashion in New York; to wit, I said to him, “Hey Wooz- I bet you five dollars that we don’t get one ‘thanks for your service’ while we’re here.” He absolutely agreed, and refused to take a losing bet. Not ten minutes later, some thin and weathered fellow pulling a rolling suitcase stopped us both and shook our hands. “Thank you for everything you do for our country.” I stood corrected. However, we both agreed, he was likely from somewhere else.
Sometime later, Wooz and I headed to McDonalds to grab a bite to eat. We were standing in line when some quick-talking lady with an obvious New York accent offered to buy our dinner. “I know you guys are headed over and I want to do this for you,” she said. So that’s two for two, I guess.
A couple of observations about JFK airport: The prices. A 20oz drink from a vending machine is $2.75. A hamburger from Mickey D’s that costs 89 cents in Kentucky costs $2.39 at JFK/New York. My Southern Chicken sandwich meal cost $7.89 on the menu. When I asked if they had a dollar menu, the cashier laughed- laughed! What a horrid place. I realize that people will argue ‘cost of living’ and all that. But you have to factor in taxes. In fact, the taxes levied in an area directly affect the cost of living. Same thing with minimum wage- which, by the way, (and this is a fact backed by the numbers) hurts the lowest income demographic, and in that demographic, hurts blacks the most, and in the black community, hurts teenage males worst of all.
The point of all this is to imagine what the cost of living in New York would look like if there was no minimum wage, and the city’s taxes were limited. Or, and this is a handy solution to the whole “IOT keep New York running you have to smother the people in taxes!” argument. What if each borough was taxed separately, and according to the mean income of that borough? That way, those who want to live in a Manhattan penthouse would have to shoulder directly their share of the financial burden for Manhattan, allowing the people in the poorer sections of the city to avoid paying for the astronomical expenses of downtown; IOW, they would be directly taxed for the amount they use, and no more.
Another thing about JFK. There was an EL Al (the Israeli airline) flight stopped over in town, and there were a bunch of Jews running around there. One thing I noticed: You would see the hottest Israeli girls pushing baby carriages next to really subpar Israeli guys. Like, seriously. Ugly. I’m an average (possibly below average) American male. Compared to these guys, I might as well be a bodybuilder or a Greek God. Bear with me here. Based on the cross-section of Israeli guys displayed in JFK, an average-looking American guy could seriously head over there and clean house. Probably be beating the women off with a stick. You heard me gents. Go forth!
After JFK, we went to Leipzig Germany—home of Johann Sebastian Bach. Then to Kuwait- population 2.5 million; 1.4 million of which are non-Kuwaiti, predominantly Catholic Filipino. That’s a religious/race war waiting to happen, since 1) Muhammad declared (and therefore Muslims believe to the death) that the Arabian peninsula would forever be a peninsula on which Allah alone would be worshipped, and 2) because of that, Kuwait and other peninsular nations have dhimmi laws which practically outlaw all other faiths. (And CAIR whines when the star and crescent isn’t displayed next to nativity scenes…)
So we’re sitting in Kuwait, wasting time. It’s pretty cushy here, which I don’t like. Too many fast food chains; too many places to waste money (huge PX, Harley-Davidson/Ford store, etc.) I wish I could go back to a FOB like Orgun-E. Nothing but barracks, an MWR, and and a chow hall. But I’m not deploying to Afghanistan again. And the new ROE for Afghanistan requires the enemy to engage in “hostile action” even if US troops have positive identification (also known as PID) before they can be engaged. Can’t win a war that way—so I won’t even have the option of visiting Afghanistan as a tourist. And I did kinda want to.
Finished reading Hosea. Awesome, awesome book. The more I read the Bible, the more smitten I am with God’s love for us. The basic outline of the book is that Yahweh tells Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer as his wife. This story of the relationship between Hosea and Gomer mirrors the one between Yahweh and his people. I’m not sure, having just finished reading it, how much of the unfaithfulness God speaks of Israel actually applies to Gomer vis-a-vis Hosea, but its still great. Listen to chapter 11, where God is talking about his people:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called my son. But
The more I called Israel, the further they went from me[…]
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them
By the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
God speaks of the wayward Northern Kingdom as if they were a beloved son—can you see a giddy toddler being taught to walk by its father in verse three, his fingers gently holding up his child “by the arms”? It’s a beautiful picture also in verse four. “I bent down to feed them.” I see a loving Daddy with a tiny spoon in his hand, feeding that same toddler; now wiping the excess off his child’s chin. It is with such images in mind that verse five: …will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? And six: Swords will flash in their cities… and put an end to their plans—sound less like a judgment (although that’s what it is, we mustn’t forget) and more like a heartbroken father that can see the coming pain their wayward child is too blind to see.
But look at verse eight now:
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?[…]
My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and
For I am God, and not man—
The Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath.
Yahweh recalls the past, and His love wins out over judgment. He saves Israel from the consequences of their actions “For I am God, and not man”—by his supernatural power. In a way, this can be a foreshadowing of that ultimate act of love: the work of Christ upon the cross. Through Christ’s death we were saved from the consequences of our actions. Eternal death, according to Paul in Romans chapter 3. He goes on to say, in verse 25
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
How could God do this? How was it possible for God to allow Christ to pay this price for us? Because “I am God, and not man.” Good enough for me.
Back to Hosea. You know, I really want to get to know these people better. There are so many unanswered questions about the people involved. Did Hosea love his wife when he was commanded to marry her? Did his heart break when he held little Jezreel (or Lo-Ammi or Lo-Ruhamah) and thought “This is not my child”? Gomer was a prostitute. How often did she ply her trade? Did people watch Hosea walk down the street and say “That poor, poor man. Why is he still with Gomer? He certainly deserves better”? How did he react to other people’s pity or scorn? What was running through Gomer’s mind when she cheated on him? Did she enjoy sex for sex? Was she broken, somehow, on the inside? Did she love Hosea at first, or only at the end? How in the world did Hosea work up the nerve to stride into where Gomer was “working” and buy her back? What did Hosea think of the God who allowed him to feel this pain? He spoke the word of the Lord; surely there was some other way to get the point across? How often did Hosea sit in a dark corner of his home, away from the kids, away from prying eyes, and pour out in tears the hurt he must have felt?
There is much omitted about who Hosea was and the circumstances of his life. But there is enough there to paint a brief but vivid picture. Hosea was a man of remarkable moral strength. He was obedient, if nothing else. And I like to think that he had faith—that the God who could redeem and heal the people of Israel was big enough to redeem and heal his wife. I sincerely hope Hosea had his “happily ever after”, don’t you?
“Therefore I am going to now allure her;
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
And make the Valley of Trouble
A door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of
As in the days she came up out of
- Hosea 2: 14-15