TODAY: Conflict between Hamas and Israel intensifies / Monarchy out of step in the modern world / Mail order ordination in a secular age / The Twinkie goes the way of the Studebaker — extinct. I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.
The Rockets’ Red Glare — Israel’s New Challenge
Israel, which has endured periodic rocket attacks and similar assaults from Hamas terrorists in Gaza for years, is now facing an escalated conflict and a new danger — powerful rockets that originate in Iran.
Ethan Bronner of The New York Times is providing some of the most important coverage of this conflict. In both Saturday’s and Sunday’s editions of the paper, Bronner provided key insights into Israel’s new challenge.
Hamas has obtained ‘Fajr-5′ rockets capable of hitting Israel’s major cities. How has Hamas obtained such advanced weapons? Bronner reports:
“The rockets are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran to Sudan, trucked across the desert through Egypt, broken down into parts and moved through Sinai tunnels into Gaza, according to senior Israeli security officials. The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said.”
This is a major development and a dangerous escalation in the risk of an open ground war in Gaza.
On Saturday, Bronner reported that the Israeli government and a majority of its citizens have come to the conclusion that Hamas does not want peace. As he explains:
“Their dangerous neighborhood is growing still more dangerous, they agree. That means not concessions, but being tougher in pursuit of deterrence, and abandoning illusions that a Jewish state will never be broadly accepted here. ‘There is a theory, which I believe, that Hamas doesn’t want a peaceful solution and only wants to keep the conflict going forever until somehow in their dream they will have all of Israel,’ Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former leader of the Israeli Air Force, said in a telephone briefing. ‘There is a good chance we will go into Gaza on the ground again.'”
Over the past two years, Israel’s security has been threatened in new and ominous ways. I discuss these threats in today’s edition of The Briefing.
Hereditary Monarchy in the Modern Age — Badly Out of Step
Reports out of Jordan indicate that the Hashemite dynasty headed now by King Abdullah II may be in real danger. Crowds of young men and boys, numbering in the thousands, have surged through the streets of Amman, calling for revolution and “the toppling of the regime.”
Much of this is surely due to the so-called Arab Spring that toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. But a larger part of this picture may be explained by the fact that a hereditary ruling monarchy is just badly out of place in the modern world. We can sometimes forget just how strange it is that the ruler of a people is simply the biological offspring of a previous ruler.
When protests against monarchy hit the streets like this, it seldom goes well for the monarch.
Mail Order Ordination — So What’s the Problem?
It seems that the issue of mail order ministers has become something of a problem in New York State, and probably elsewhere. As Vincent M. Mallozzi of The New York Times reports,
“An increasing number of couples are steering away from traditional religious and civil wedding officiants in favor of friends and relatives who become ordained through online ministries. But many couples are unaware that while New York State recognizes marriages performed by those who became ministers by the power vested in a mouse, there are five downstate counties where such officiants are not technically legal.”
The very existence of these mail order ministers is evidence of an increasingly secular age. As Mallozzi reports, the couples wanting their friends to officiate at weddings, complete with mail order ordination, simply do not want the presence of a recognized minister with “a lot of formulaic vows.” What they want is intimacy and secular affirmation.
The report reveals something of the extent of the mail order ordination business, with firms such as the Universal Life Church, the Church of Spiritual Humanism, and the Temple of Earth offering online ordination, for a fee.
New York State may be confused about who is and who is not a “real” minister, but the faithful church cannot be confused on the question.
The Twinkie is Terminated?
News out of Chicago indicates that the Twinkie, that iconic form of American snack food, is about to go extinct. Hostess, maker of the Twinkie, has decided to liquidate rather than face defeat by strangulation. The company’s labor unions have been strangling the company, which lost $341 million in 2011.
Labor unions held the company to 372 different collective-bargaining agreements, that required the company to offer 80 different health and benefit plans, dozens of pension plans, and more than $30 million in wage increases for next year.
The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal declared the death of the company a suicide. More than 18,000 Hostess employees killed their own company — and their own jobs.
According to The Chicago Tribune, the Twinkie was born on April 6, 1930 at Chicago’s Continental Baking Company. Hostess will attempt to sell the company’s recipes — including the recipe for the Twinkie.
I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview. Listen here. Links to all articles cited also provided.