Islam – A Study in Conflict

Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

Due to a number of questions I’ve received regarding the Muslim faith, Islam, and all the related factions we hear about in the news. I decided to spend some time blogging about the differences in the names, the aims, and the facts behind them. Islam is a study in conflict from the inception of the religion. The factions within it have fought each other for centuries and threaten the world order more than once.

So what is the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?or Shia Muslim? Who is Al Qaeda, ISIS or ISIL, The Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, The Alawites, The PLO, and Fatah. I maintain if the government understood the differences, we wouldn’t be making the mistakes we are in the Middle East and the Persian countries today.

I’ll cover the factions in play in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Gaza, and the West Bank. I guarantee the Muslims know much more about Christianity than we know about them. A fun ride? Yes!

So for the first issue, Sunni versus Shia Muslims

Where do they live?

Shia are the majority in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, and Lebanon. They number close to 300 million and can be found in all Muslim countries. Sunni are the majority in all others Muslim nations and number over 1.2 billion.

Why are they at odds with one another?

After the death of Muhammad, a split occurred over a successor to the Prophet, much like who would be the true Pope in Catholicism. The Shia believe a cousin of Muhammad was appointed to succeed the Prophet. They believe the revelation of the Prophet continues through the 12 Imams descending from Muhammad, the Twelfth of which is to reveal himself in the last days, and Jesus, called Isa, will come back confirming what the Twelfth Imam says.

The Sunni reject this notion and believe Divine revelation ended after the fourth Caliph, Ali bin Abi Talib. The end of his Caliphate divided Muslim unity. Shia looked to the Imams whose lineage comes from Ali and Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter, and Sunni do not. Other differences include the adoption of the muta, or temporary wife, by Shia Muslims. Where Sunni reject the concept.

Further, Sunni believe the al Mahdi will become a Caliph in the last days. He will destroy the Jews, and Jesus will come with him to destroy the Antichrist. But this al Mahdi will not necessarily be a direct descendant of Muhammad. Shia give more power to al Mahdi. He is the Twelfth Imam who will do what the Sunni’s believe and more, killing the Antichrist and even Satan, as some Shia sects believe. Before Christians criticize this, and I am a Christian, we believe at the end of the world Christ will come back and destroy Antichrist and the armies at Armageddon and rule the world from Jerusalem. There is a common end-time thread, but the players are radically different.

You can see why ISIS is attempting to establish a Caliphate. ISIS is Sunni. You can understand why countries like Iran and Iraq are led by Imams. They wait for the hidden one. The Twelfth Imam, al-Mahdi who will convert the world to Islam. Both Sunni Isis and Shia Iran wish to maintain a government led by Sharia Law, as do the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I will let the information speak for itself and give you the next piece of the puzzle tomorrow. What is the history of Islam and Jihad?


Multiculturalism – America’s Downfall

Writing on the Wild Side, Great writers inspire thought. Good writers tell interesting stories

Writing on the Wild Side, Great writers inspire thought. Good writers tell interesting stories.

Our founding father’s pictured a United States as a Christian, basically English in descent, republic. After all, we fought the French and the Spanish to keep them from taking our land. Then, we suppressed the Indian culture, to keep it from influencing ours, an exclusionary view of society at best. Multiculturalism had no place.

When our country struggled for workers in industrial plants and coal mines, the Europeans came. First the Irish, then the Italians, and finally the Central Europeans. They were white. They were Christian. They fit in.

Slaves who came to America never fit in. They still don’t. Their entrance was involuntary. To this day, they exclude themselves and are excluded from assimilation into the former American culture. They developed the first major culture separate from white European Christians. Asians from China and Japan never assimilated either. In World War II, the US violated its own constitution and placed thousands of Japanese in concentration camps. The United States rules, laws, and system of justice work in white, Christian societies, not multicultural ones.

Multicultural societies ooze rebellion, discord, and lawlessness. Here in the United States both the radical right and the radical left attempt to subvert the 1st Amendment. One side holding on to the mono-cultural past. The other forcing multicultural issues relentlessly down the throats of the dwindling majority of Americans.

Genesis 11, The Tower of Babel, defines God’s attitude toward multiculturalism and a common language. “Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose will be impossible for them.”

With the computer and multiculturalism, Mankind will grow technically beyond its ability to handle the power it has and destroy itself with quarreling and hatred. So God said, “Come let us go down and there confuse their language, so they will not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth and they stopped building the city.”

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting …

In a multicultural society, which groups religious belief freedom of speech, or constitutional rights do we protect when they are opposed to each other? A question for my next post.

A Covenant with Death, the Third Book of the Peacock Trilogy will be released in May. The book deals with what happens when a mono-cultural society is imposed upon the world.

Note: A writer’s job is to stimulate thought. I am presenting the facts about America’s situation today, not taking sides on the issue.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Christianity Under Fire

Christianity Under Fire

“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must happened, but that is not yet the end.” Matthew 24:6.

Not only wars and rumors of wars, but famine, earthquakes, and other natural disasters in various places are occurring and will occur. And we will be experiencing them first hand.

With the invention of television and the internet, news travels around the world in seconds, not months or years as in Jesus’ time. Only in recent history has news reached the four corners of the earth with such speed. All cultures, religions, races, and generations can now interpret how events affect them in an instant, and they all perceive them differently.

Jesus says, “. . . See that you are not frightened.”

He wants us to remain calm in the midst of chaos. Now that takes faith. Bombarded today by terror after terror, our tendency is to become numb and hardened to what is happening. Today, close to 1.4 billion people are starving. Diseases like Ebola, Bird Flu, and MERS CO v, hit the news daily spreading fear. Wars in the Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Ukraine are killing thousands. Terrorists are beheading Christians, most recently 11 Coptic Christian children in Libya.

The rapid increase of these events and the increase in their severity send signals to each person to make a decision for Christ before it is too late. Christians cannot put our heads in the ground and refuse to see the signs. What was once consider good is now considered evil. What was once considered evil as now considered good. People who have not made a decision to accept Christ need to do so now. Things will not get better.

Next time. The Role of Multiculturalism in America and the Christian World.

Consider The Times in Which We Live.

Christianity Under Fire

Christianity Under Fire

Consider the times in which we live. Day by day, our world is matching up with the Scriptures that describe the End Times. “Know this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all  things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  II Peter 3:3-4

I saw a CNN special on the myths about Christ. Certainly scoffers wrote it. The America I once lived in is rapidly turning to hedonism and denying the God that saved them. Consider the times in which we live and read further.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” II Timothy 3:1-2.

Frank Sinatra’s song, “I did it my way” comes to mind. Movies, Television, Novels, and Lobby groups proclaim their perceived personal freedoms over the Constitution, the Word of God, and even the laws passed by Congress. They test and challenge every common sense rule as an attack on their own personal 1st Amendment rights, taking their arguments far beyond the bounds of the intent of the Founding Fathers. Consider the civil disorder in our country, the rioting and unrest, and the way the police are coming under attack. Consider the lyrics to songs, the increase in sex, nudity, and violence in every medium, and read further.

“Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from those turn away.” II Timothy 3:3-5

Turn away? Hard to do. It seems every boundary set in the Bible is coming under attack and being overthrown. Good is evil and evil is good. The world is going through an enormous upheaval that lines up with what the Bible says is inevitable. Sides are being taken. Lines are being drawn. Don’t be fooled by worldly pleasures. Stand for The Truth.

Next time. Wars and rumors of wars.   




Turn Screw-ups into Lessons

Never Act on Impulse.

Never Act on Impulse.

Those who know me understand I am a proud man. I hate when I screw up. I hate it more when I double the screw-ups. This I did with The Literary Murders. My first set of reviews were sparkling. It wasn’t until I asked to swap reviews with an OWFI member I realized I might have a problem. She pointed out a couple of mistakes that caught me off guard. Plus I had just scheduled a free giveaway on Kindle. I pulled out the published paperback and read the first two chapters, nothing major wrong there. So I went to the pages pointed out to me as having errors. They were there plain as life.

Further more, I saw a mistake on the same page she had not mention. I had changed that mistake in the final draft. Why was it there? That’s when I learned an important lesson. Delete your old copies! In My Documents, I had no less than four revisions of the novel. Each with a new set of layering. In error, I selected one of those, thinking I had selected the proof-ready work.

The good news is both Create Space and Kindle Direct allow you to go in and make changes to any of your uploaded works. Before I published the correct, proof-ready file, I re-read it and found eight small mistakes, things like a quotation mark missing, an ed not added to the end of a word. These most likely would not be discovered by the average reader, but still important.

I have republished The Literary Murders  and will have to take my lumps for being stupid. To my friends and fellow writers, this is a lesson to be learned. To those who read my novel and didn’t point these mistakes out, I ask that you do next time. Anyone who has come under the red line critique of Bill Wetterman knows I am ruthless in pointing mistakes out. You will not hurt my feelings. I will be indebted to you.

The revised novel is out with all the screw-ups corrected. Time to buy! I’m sorry. Yes I am a self-promoting sinner.

Viking – Day 4 Vienna

Johann Strauss, The Waltz King

Johann Strauss, The Waltz King

After navigating through more locks, our Viking ship, the Idi, docked in Vienna at 7:00 a.m. No offense to Paris, but Vienna vies for the title, The City of Lights. A sparkling, bustling city, Vienna enlightens with its music, arts, and centers of knowledge. A gem along the Danube, Pam and I could have spent a week here, instead of a day.

Beauty everywhere, the Ringstrasse, the Opera House, Stadtpark, the Hofburg Theater, and of course, St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Every city we’ve seen so far has a St. Stephan’s Cathedral. My neck ached after our 3 1/2 hour morning tour. I couldn’t help but swivel 360 degrees at times, admiring all the sights and sounds. The smells of local cuisine, coffee, and tarts everywhere. Returning to the Viking Idi, we ate and I napped.

As a musician, I couldn’t miss the evening concert. From our ship alone, 160 tourists signed up. The venue was small, much like the houses of music in the 18th century played outside the wealthy concert halls. An eleven piece orchestra, two vocal soloists, and a three person ballet troop entertained us. This is a Vienna tradition, bringing superb talent to the common people. Vienna Residence Orchestra startled us. I gasped at the magnificent sound. If I closed my eyes, I’d have believed I was in Carnegie Hall listening to the New York Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart and Strauss exploded through the building and I imagined scenes from the movie, Amadeus. Captivated by the nightlife that is Vienna and with my bride of 50 years at my side, I enjoyed heaven.

Next post: Day 5: Melk

The PLO, Hamas, Fatah, and Hezbollah

Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

Many enemies surround Israel today. All seeking its elimination. Remember Yasser Arafat. He was the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s most popular party in his time, Fatah. Since his death, Fatah and the PLO’s powers have weakened a bit under President Abbas. The more militant group, Hamas gained popularity and control over Gaza.  Hamas accuses the PLO and Fatah of influencing the establishment of the blockade of Gaza. As much as the West feared Arafat and the PLO initially, They are moderate compared to Hamas and wish for a Palestinian State rather than the total destruction of Israel.

Hamas issued a charter in 1988 stating that they were the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. In it, they call for the establishment of an Islamic State of Palestine to include all the territories of Israel, the destruction of Israel, and the dismantling of the State of Israel. They say they respect all religions. So along as those religions do not interfere with Hamas’s efforts to destroy Israel. They believe they are The Truth and Israel is The Liar. The conflict is irreconcilable save through Jihad and the elimination of the Jew.

Hamas created another enemy in Hezbollah when opposed Abbas. Hezbollah viewed them as untrustworthy. So when Hamas asked Hezbollah for help against Israel, Hezbollah refused. Hezbollah has the same goals as Hamas. They want the destruction of Israel and believe in the concept of defensive Jihad to achieve this. But Hezbollah is a Shia group in Lebanon formed during the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and the subsequent Israeli occupation from the Syrian War of 1967 through the Oslo accords in 2000.

Hezbollah takes its lead from Iran. Remember, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria are predominately Shia. Hezbollah believes Hamas betrayed Abbas and the PLO by not supporting Abbas’s efforts for a united Palestine and then taking control over Gaza. So Hezbollah does not support Hamas now. If they did, Israel would be in deeper trouble than it is. The fact is: Had Hamas been a Shia led movement. Hezbollah would be firing missiles from the Lebanese side of the border into Israel today.

For Israel’s part, they understand that any agreement with Hamas or with Hezbollah can not be made, since the purpose of their existence is Israel’s complete destruction.

Next time I’ll cover the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Their purpose and their strength.

Dance with Stars in your Eyes

Frankie Yankovich, America's Polka King

Frankie Yankovich, America’s Polka King

Music to dance to. From the Waltz to the Slide, people love to dance. In ethnic neighborhoods where I grew up, old country and the new thrived together as far as dancing went. We lived close to the Puerto Rican neighborhood, so we danced the Tango and Rock n Roll during lunch hour. We loved Elvis and Little Richard, but we could also Polka.

In fact, I’m related by marriage to the famous Frankie Yankovich, whose Slovenian style polka music never varied. Known as the America’s Polka King, he grew up in South Euclid, Ohio. I’ll bet you’ve dance to his renditions of Who Stole the Kishka?, The Too Fat Polka, Hoop Dee Do, The Tick Tock Polka, and my favorite, The Beer Barrel Polka.

Dance lives today as a way to express emotions. What’s one of the most popular show on television, Dancing with the Stars. Dance is more participative than Classical music, because you can actually express your emotions with another human being. I can polka fairly well. Tango some. Twist, Jitterbug, well not so much, except for Strauss Waltzes of course, I can still dance to those.

God weaves enjoyment into our lives through the music He created. Even when Elvis swiveled his hips and the old folks passed out, I think God chuckled. My next blog goes a whole different direction. How can you define Jazz? You can’t put it in a box. label it, or write an essay that will describe it accurately. Satchmo, Lewis Armstrong described it like his religion.

Armstrong said, “I was raised a Baptist, always wear a Star of David in honor of the Karnofsky family, who took me in as a child and lent me the money to buy my first cornet. I’m baptized as a Catholic, and a friend of two popes. Jazz is like that.”

Duke Ellington said it simply, “It’s all music.”

Yellowstone – Terrorists, The Final Blow

The Next Threat to America

The Next Threat to America

The America I see today isn’t the America I was born into. Sadly, my generation is a part of its downfall. Isis radicals give no quarter to the beliefs of others. They are terrorists who offer you these choices: Convert to radical Islam, pay us a tribute to stay, leave, or be beheaded. They commit themselves to their brand of religion. The America of my father’s would have gone to war to the death to defeat this radical ideology.

Americans of today are ostriches, heads in the sand and no stomach to fight against tyranny. Now consider an America crippled by the Yellowstone Volcano, the failure of our infrastructure, and the breakdown of moral authority. Isis, and other enemies, will leap to deal the final blow. Imagine early in the morning, a terrorist, who crossed the border from Canada without being checked, slips into what is left of the Wall Street District and explodes a dirty bomb. Another walks down Pennsylvania Avenue and explodes another bomb. American leadership and financial prowess disappears in seconds and the world mourns over the fall of the greatest country on the face of the earth.

The sad part is the Yellowstone Volcano isn’t the culprit, our lack of preparedness is. A strong nation with strong principles can survive even a catastrophe like Yellowstone. A strong nation, like America was in World War II, would rise from the ashes and become even stronger. But that nation of the 1940’s believed in God. That nation united around a single purpose. To destroy evil empires and Fascists. I see no will to stand up for our beliefs today. I see no unified beliefs to stand up for. If our government had some, we would not be bickering ourselves into inaction, as we are today.

Sadly, an event such as the eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano will bring America down if we do not change as a people now. Divided we do fall. Fix the infrastructure. Today! Decide what America stands for. Be as passionate about preserving the American way of life, as Isis is about establishing theirs. Or Yellowstone or not, America will fall under the weight of division, greed, and moral decline. We don’t need a Yellowstone to destroy us.

Look for my new novel about the Yellowstone eruption coming out in the Spring of 2015, if we are still around.

Yellowstone – Worse Than Iceland’s Volcanoes

Volcanic Ash Covering America. It could happen.

Volcanic Ash Covering America. It could happen.

The last eruption in Yellowstone covered the ground with ejecta hundreds of feet deep at the source and as deep as ten feet as far away as Columbia, Missouri. Imagine living in Lymon, Colorado, when Yellowstone blows. Within hours, heavy ash begins to fall. You try to drive away in your car, but the moving parts clog up after ten minutes or so and the roads become impossible to drive on. Within a day twenty feet of ash covers the entire State.

The air grits up and darkness covers the northern states of America at noon. Even as far away as New York City the sky is dim and the particles in the air are hazardous to your health. You see its free crystalline silicone. The stuff that causes Black Lung. Except you’re receiving a far more lethal dose than a mine worker gets even after 20 years in the mines.

People in the non-ash zones panic. People in the heavy ash zones are dead or dying. Then the looting beings and frantic relatives try to reach loved ones bringing down the electrical grid and leaving the east coast in darkness. Worldwide planes can’t fly. Telecommunications go out, and the top of the ash plume is over 22 miles high afloat over the earth. And this happens on the first day of what could be months of eruptions.

Today’s headlines talk about earthquakes in Iceland predicting volcanic eruptions. The Iceland volcanoes are terrible, but predictable and localized compared to Yellowstone. Yellowstone sits with the bowels of the earth hiding beneath, waiting to vomit out destruction.

For the rest of the world, the panic grows. But that is a topic for the next article. Rioting!