THE FIVE MOST PATRIOTIC GI JOE CARTOONS

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THE FIVE MOST PATRIOTIC GI JOE CARTOONS
(JUST ONE DAY LATE FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY)

EPISODE TITLE:  “Rocket’s Red Glare”
Reasons: Duh, the title. The story centers on middle class (minority) Americans trying to run a small business. The Joes help them. Oh, and it has people eating hamburgers. How American is that?

Bonus Reason: Roadblock ends the episode with an impromptu freestyle … wait for it.

EPISODE TITLE: “GI Joe: The Movie”
Reasons: The opening sequence; easily the most patriotic 3 and a half minutes ever drawn.
EPISODE TITLE: The Revenge of Cobra: The Vines of Evil”
Reasons: The Joes protect Washington, DC and all its monuments from giant balls of hail. With energy mirrors. Created by a black doctor. Who graduated from Harvard. Try and top that for patriotism.

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EPISODE TITLE: “The Great Alaskan Land Rush”

Reasons: Begins with the Joes transporting the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The Joes fight/cooperate with Russia’s elite force, The Oktober Guard, to decide the fate of Alaska. Cold War era patriotism at its finest.

EPISODE TITLE: “Sink the Montana”
Reasons: General Hawk goes to the Philadelphia Naval Yards to attend the decommissioning of a WWII battleship. The Admiral defects to save his ship. The Joes save the day by setting sail on the Navy’s oldest ship: the USS Constitution.

Bonus DIC episode:

EPISODE TITLE: “Kindergarten Commandos”
Reasons: Cobra attempts to undermine American society by rewriting US history. That’s right, pro-Cobra textbooks for kids. In the end, Cobra is defeated by a group of kids, Red Dawn-style. Sort of.

Learning Shariah at a Phoenix Mosque

21 May 1455863_10153437087750453_664404781_n

There is a well-known mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. It is north of Orangewood and east of 27th Ave. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both killed when they attacked a Draw Muhammad Contest in Texas, attended this mosque.Hassan Abujihaad, convicted of handing over military intelligence to al Qaeda, attended this mosque.

I didn’t know all that then. On Friday, December 16th, 2011, I was passing out copies of the Gospel According to St. John on a public sidewalk near mosque. The team I was with was there to discuss Islam and Christianity with Muslims for the purpose of having all peoples call Jesus Lord and be saved from their sins. Here’s how we proceed: I usually ask the men leaving prayer as they are on their way to their vehicles if they have read the Holy Injil. Most people pass by but sometimes they take one and say “thank you”, while other times they say “no” – in so many words or less. However, if they stop or inquire further I say, “This is Gospel According to Saint John in Arabic and English”. Sometimes, we talk more.

One man I spoke with that day was ‘Miraj’, who was visiting Phoenix from the midwest. We spoke for about one full hour. The first 50 minutes were very cordial. I told him he was nice and respectful numerous times. I apologized once for cutting him off in my excitement. He was very patient and understanding. This is not to say I was not troubled by some things he said. Miraj told me Muslims had proof for their beliefs while Christians utilized “blind faith”, that mosques have been burnt down in the United States, and that persecution in countries such as Pakistan was not bad at all (in fact, he claimed the laws there usually protect Christians). Most troubling was this exchange:

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Me: “What if I said anything like that [like what a Muslim apologist I just quoted said about Jesus] about Muhammad in an Islamic country?”
Him: “You cannot say that because the punishment is very clear, like if you say that such thing, you will be beheaded – that’s the punishment and it is clear – there is no two opinions about it – that’s very clear.”
Me: “Listen, my name is Mark. What is your name?”

Him: “Miraj.”
Me: “Miraj?”

Him: “Yeah.”
Me: “Miraj, we just shook hands and we’re talking, we’re calm, I’m not making fun of you, you’re not making fun of me – this is good. But right now if I said something dirty about Muhammad what should happen to me?”

Him: “Well, because here I don’t have all the …”
Me: “What should happen to me under God’s law?”

Him: “Well, then in Islamic law, it’s clear, if you insult Prophet Muhammad, then the punishment is you should be beheaded”.

Shortly after this, a tall young man (pictured in the video below briefly, wearing all white) interrupted us. I had already spoken with this young man the week prior briefly – he was rude and not well-informed. I did my best to get the conversation with Miraj back on track. I asked the tall man to please refrain from interjecting and we could talk again next week.  He said he was going to leave but then did not and loudly dominated the conversation. Whenever he told me to stop and listen to him, he would place his rather-large hands on my shoulders in a less than gentle manner. This tall man said the following to Miraj:  

“Good job, brother. You handle it. Yeah, just stick to the truth like that.  Don’t worry. Don’t be like salty Muslims and be like, ‘oh, no, in Islam we don’t have these things’”. 

I responded: “No, no, he said I should I should be beheaded if I say something dirty. He said this; so you would be happy about him.” 

The tall man said back to me: “Well, of course – you can’t. In a Muslim state that’s the punishment; no one talk about the messenger of Allah.”

I noticed Miraj became more aggressive the minute this other man arrived. He began saying things like this: “It doesn’t matter what you like and don’t like, what matters is what God likes and what he wants. Your opinion doesn’t count – you are no one.” This comment was in regards to my distaste for Sharia Law. This may not seem like a very big deal but for the most part Miraj was not saying things like this before. For example, at one point he even said that Pakistan applied some of its blasphemy laws in an unfair manner against Christians. We continued on like this for a few minutes and the tall man quickly lost whatever patience he had and said the following:

“Here’s what: Islam is the fastest growing religion no matter if you like it and it’s going to dominate the whole world – no matter if you like it. You’re going to be paying the jizyah when that time comes. You’re going to be paying the jizyah.”

I replied: “And you know who is going to judge you?”

“God. Only God.” 

“Yes—”

“You’re going to be paying the jizyah, buddy. It’s going to dominate the whole thing.”

“And this is your dream.”

“It’s going to dominate everything.”

“And this is your dream.”

“It’s not a dream, it is already happening. Yup, it’s already happening.”

Shortly after, the mosque president stormed out, demanding to know what church I was from. He asked if I was from Calvary. He did not believe me when I told him I was not. He told me I could come and talk about Jesus but then asked me not to quote anything from the Qur’an. He said I had to make sure people knew what they were getting was not Islamic. He told me I was deceiving people. Not wanting to be viewed as purposefully deceiving people, I turned to Miraj and asked him if he knew what he was getting; unfortunately, he would not give a straight answer. It did not help that the tall man was still throwing his two cents in. I pointed out that the one article I had said answering-islam.org printed on it. He asked me why it had verses from the Qur’an. I told him because Muslims are not supposed to throw it away that away. In response, he got right up in my face and ripped up the paper – five times. As we continued to speak, he accused me of being a liar and said I was not welcome. I told him I was on a public sidewalk and as long as there was no Sharia Law, I was allowed to be there. The mosque president and I spoke for about five minutes, then he turned and left. The other two men followed suit.

After listening to the audio, there are things I would have done differently. For example, I noticed when the man downplayed Islamic persecution of Christians all over the world, I became agitated. He even mocked the idea of Christian persecution and said Christians do the exact same thing. Even though this issue is dear to me, misinformation is no excuse for me to be rude. Christians must be bold with Muslims, yes, but I also must give them a chance to hear the truth – but only in love. 

NOTE: Some of the audio quoted in this piece can be downloaded right here, on a radio broadcast I did on the topic. Some of the names and such have been changed.

Neuroscience and the Soul (with JP Moreland)

17 May

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/5613689?url=http%3A%2F%2Furbantheologianradio.com%2Fe%2Fneuroscience-consciousness-and-the-soul-with-jp-moreland%2F&skin=1&download=1&share=1&auto=1&fonts=Helvetica

Urban Theologian Radio #19

What is the soul? Why have Christians believed in the soul? What questions does the soul answer? What does consciousness have to do with the soul? What does the brain have to do with the soul?

Special Guest: JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University

Featured Song: Rhyme Spirit Soul (The Risen Son) – Peace586

published date: 2015/05/17

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Inerrancy, Assyrian Christians UPDATE

10 May
Urban Theologian Radio #19
Vocab interviews Pastor Bob on the doctrine of inerrancy. We also get a news update on the persecuted Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria from an Assyrian Christian.


Featured Song: No Silence – Flame x Lecrae

Air Date: 05/10/2014

THE THEOLOGY OF ELTON SIMPSON

7 May

We all wonder what makes a killer* tick. People want to know what goes on in the mind of a terrorist. I can shed light on one: Elton Simpson; my former co-worker and frequent debate partner.

The Christian must think theologically about such people. The Christian must not think the murderer – or any sinner, for that matter – is so different, so much worse. The Christian must remember that outside of Christ, we too face God’s judgment for our sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Still, not everyone is ready to drive across the southwest United States to commit murder as Elton was. Why? That is the question. The answer: Elton’s theology.

SALAFI ISLAM

“Are you a Wahabist?”, I asked. Elton waved his hands emphatically: “That is the name Orientalists [British scholars of Islam] gave to those who practice true Islam. I am a Salafi.” Non-Salafi Muslims consider the Salafi understanding of Islam to be strict, rigid, limited, and narrow. Salafis believe Salafi Islam is closest to the Islam of Muhammad and his companions. Estimates indicate Salafi Islam is the fastest-growing form of Islam; the headlines indicate Salafi Islam is also the most violent.

Elton Simpson was a Salafi Muslim – and proud of it.

FAVORITE APOLOGISTS

Zakir Naik, arguably the most prominent Islamic apologist alive, is a Salafi Muslim. Naik, along with Ahmed Deedat (deceased), were Elton’s favorite two Islamic apologists. I learned this when I name dropped the high-minded apologist Shabir Ally. Elton’s response: “We don’t all like Shabir, you know.” I asked who he did like: “Zakir Naik and Ahmed Deedat”.

Elton’s response illustrates the divide between academic discussions of Islam and Islam in real-life.
Ally: an intellectual; a professor with an elite pedigree.
Naik: only debates opponents whom he knows he can defeat.
Deedat: notoriously shoddy arguments which suffered from a lack of logical rigor.
Why then are the latter two considered the YouTube Islamic champions of debate? Passion. Rhetoric. Intensity. Perceived devoutness. 

Elton preferred apologists like Zakir Naik and Ahmed Deedat over Shabir Ally.


OSAMA BIN LADEN

Very early in our relationship, I asked Elton his opinion of Bin Laden. “Hero.” Elton gave his answer almost before I finished saying the name. I paused; he looked at me and waited with sincere eyes. He wasn’t goading me; he wasn’t toying with me; he wasn’t playing. Elton was for real.

In Elton’s mind, Osama Bin Laden was clearly a hero – no qualifications needed.

ISLAMIC REPUBLICS

During one talk, I brought up Islamic republics. Elton quickly told me none of the current countries calling themselves Islamic Republics actually were; he found the idea laughable. I wondered what nation could meet his standard, so I asked. Elton answered: “Pre-2001 Afghanistan.” Elton did not think this was debatable, he viewed it as self-evident.

Elton believed pre-2001 Afghanistan was the only true modern Islamic Republic.


SHARIAH LAWTwitter

When I expressed frustration with Elton about the nature of shariah law, he seemed exasperated: “We don’t follow shariah to please man; it is the command of Allah. Allah’s law is not there to make you feel nice and cozy. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not.” Elton’s Twitter handle was “Shariah Is Light”. How tragically insightful! He understood shariah to illumine humanity’s path about how we should live. 

Elton believed all people should submit to shariah law for their own good.


RELATIONSHIPS WITH CHRISTIANS

Surah 5:51 instructs Muslims not to take Jews or Christians as friends. I asked Elton if he could take a Christian as a friend. He indicated “no”. If I remember correctly, Elton waffled a bit. Perhaps he was considering another interpretation of this aayat (verse), such as “don’t take them as ‘protectors’”? I don’t know.

I do know that later on in our first (rather lengthy) conversation, Elton said he would potentially marry a Christian girl. That struck me as odd.

Me: “How could you marry a Christian? I thought you said you couldn’t take a Christian as your friend?”
Elton: “I said I couldn’t have one as my friend. I didn’t say I couldn’t have one as my wife.”

I figured Elton was simply being arbitrary. Since then, I learned there is Hadith precedence for this ruling. Elton wasn’t out of line with Islamic thought; Islamic thought itself is what’s out of line.

Elton’s theology of marriage: your wife is not your friend.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Before his death, Elton Simpson went to great lengths to stop an act of free expression: drawing pictures of Muhammad. I do not consider events of this nature to be wise or kind. However, I believe events like this should be allowed. So should the Book of Mormon musical. Same goes for Piss Christ.

Islamic thought holds that creating an image of anything with a soul is haram (forbidden). Drawing Muhammad is especially forbidden. I imagine Elton viewed this art contest as too flagrant to allow; too blasphemous to let stand; too disrespectful to let go unfettered. Somebody had to do something to stop this shameful event – but nobody seemed to be doing anything.

garland-shootingElton must have thought he was the one. This was his time, his chance. Elton Simpson was willing to kill others and let himself be killed in order to defend his Prophet’s honor. For Elton, it was worth it to protect Muhammad’s name. 

In one chilling moment, Elton told me jihad was not one of the Five Pillars of Islam, “jihad was the pinnacle of Islam.” He was explicit: he did not mean an “inner struggle”, he meant a physical struggle against the House of War (the non-Islamic portions of the world).

Elton embraced jihad. Elton embraced death.

                                                                                                                                                                Published 05/06/2015


*I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling Elton a killer; he didn’t actually kill anyone. Yet, I know that was his intention. I know Jesus says “out of the heart come evil thoughts” and “murder” (Matthew 5:19).

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Vocab Malone is the PaVocabstor of Teaching and Outreach at Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix. Vocab has a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary and is a Doctoral student at Talbot School of Theology. He hosts Urban Theologian Radio and has many recorded debates. He is married and has four children who have been adopted. His hobbies include reading, coffee, and geek culture.

I KNEW ELTON SIMPSON: MY JIHADIST FRIEND

6 May

I knew Elton Simpson.

On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Elton and a friend opened fire at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. He was shot and killed shortly after. Elton and his friend drove from Arizona to Texas to attack a gathering celebrating free speech — by displaying artistic depictions of Muhammad. Images of Muhammad are considered highly offensive to Muslims.

No, Elton was not insane. Elton was not mean. Elton was not rude. Elton was not wild-eyed. Elton was not constantly angry. Elton never threatened me. Elton was calm, level-headed, smart, and studious. He was generally kind and well-mannered.  Bright and articulate, he spoke smooth and easy. Elton was not a poor unwanted outcast; a down-and-outer he was not. Neither the simplistic narratives of the right or left work for him.

Elton Simpson

THE CORE ISSUE IS THEOLOGY

I am convinced the secular world will never properly understand people like Elton because the secular world will never properly understand Elton’s theology.

Secularist presuppositions cause many people to seek in vain for a non-theological answer for “radicalization”: economics, insanity, politics, personal nastiness, family problems, blood lust, revenge. Certainly, some of those factors play into some aspects of some people who commit what we know as terrorist acts. But these are not the core.

The core is theology. The core is taking Muhammad, his words and his actions, seriously. Elton took Islam seriously.

How do I know? Elton and I worked for the same company. We spent time together at our mutual workplace. For example, I once asked Elton if he was going to take a certain job promotion:

“No”
“Why not?”
“They would ask me to trim my beard.”
“Why must you keep your beard?”
“To be like the Prophet.”
“Why? You don’t worship him.”
“No, but he was the best example of what it means to live as a Muslim. Do you know what ‘Muslim’ means?”
“Yes – one submitted.”
Yes, submitted to Allah’s will – like Muhammad was.”
“Is that why you wear your pants this way?”
(Elton wore his pants slightly above the ankles)
“Yes, The Prophet never let his garment drag on the ground.”

Elton’s understanding of Islam was such that Muhammad’s example (as found in the accepted Hadith) was paradigmatic for the proper practice of Islam. The way he went about this was very matter of fact. Elton exhibited such a cool confidence in his interpretation of Islam, it is easy to imagine him convincing others to adopt his positions. I once witnessed Elton’s casual yet charismatic sway on display.

THE POWER TO PERSUADE

First, some context: Elton and I conversed at his local mosque a few times. Yes, I have been to the mosque Elton frequented in north Phoenix. Yet, I am not a Muslim. I was at Elton’s mosque to share the gospel with Muslims as they left Friday prayer. I am a Christian; a pastor and a seminary graduate. I engage in evangelism. This is how I ran into my friend at the mosque.

One Friday afternoon, some fellow Christians and I were at the mosque Elton attended, doing what we often did: quietly and peacefully handing out bilingual (Arabic/English) copies of the Gospel of John to all takers. We stood out of the exit paths, on the public sidewalk. We had an established protocol: when someone said “No”, we responded in clumsy Arabic – “Barak Allahu fik” (a common way of expressing thanks to a person) – and then moved on.

Some days, no one would speak with us or accept our offer of the Holy Injil (what Muslims call the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). This day was not like that – it seemed as if every other person was willingly taking a book – it was fantastic. Elton changed all that. He briefly spoke with me as he came out of prayer and then quickly turned to his fellow Muslims. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but after a brief but friendly-looking conversation, they would hand over the Gospel of John they had just received. Elton went around to as many folks as he could in a very short amount of time, smiling and chatting all the way. Almost every person handed over their book to him. Elton was in the adjacent parking lot by this time. Being that it was private property, we stayed put. Elton then slowly turned towards me and slyly smiled – he held up two hand-sized stacks of gospels and threw them all in the trash. Elton single-handedly stopped 30 people from having a chance to read the Gospel of John.

Mosque Evangelism
our mosque evangelism team after an outreach

As I left that day, I was rather depressed. A bleak feeling settled over me as I sat in my car, waiting at the stop light on 27th Ave. and Glendale. As I looked to my side, I saw Elton. We recognized each other immediately. I quickly rolled down my window and we had a brief conversation till the light changed. I asked him why he was so afraid of his friends reading one book out of the New Testament. I don’t recall his precise reply, but I believe it was something to the effect of, “I’m not afraid, I am just warning them about poison.” 

I believe Elton was genuinely concerned for the Muslims at his mosque. That is why he did what he did that day. I also believe Elton was genuinely concerned for the honor of the one he deems a Prophet – and that is ultimately why he did what he did on May 3rd.

Even though I was surprised by what Elton did – drove from Phoenix to Dallas to kill people who were supporting drawing pictures of Muhammad – I can’t say I was shocked. 

Why? I knew Elton’s theology.


                                                                                PUBLISHED 05/06/2015 ~ PHOENIX, AZ

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Vocab Malone is the PaVocabstor of Teaching and Outreach at Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix. Vocab has a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary and is a Doctoral student at Talbot School of Theology. He hosts Urban Theologian Radio and has many recorded debates. He is married and has four children who have been adopted. His hobbies include reading, coffee, and geek culture.

Eggsploitation: Infertility Industry Secrets (with Jennifer Lahl)

3 May

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/5506442?url=http%3A%2F%2Furbantheologianradio.com%2Fe%2Feggsploitation-infertility-industry-secrets-with-jennifer-lahl%2F&skin=1&download=1&share=1&auto=1&fonts=Helvetica

Urban Theologian Radio #17

This interview may be controversial – even in the church. People don’t like when you question their fertility choices. We don’t deny the beautiful children people have – but we need to ask hard questions about how we get them and whether or not it’s ethical.

Special Guest: Jennifer Lahl, executive producer of Eggsploitation: The Infertility Industry Has a Dirty Little Secret

Featured Song: Behind the Clouds (Growing Pains) – Json

published date: 2015/05/03

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