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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Probably the last Indiana Revival Report

There have been several phases of Revive Indiana, the first two of which have been pretty well covered in this blog.

One: Elkhart County area, one week extended to 52 days, with a month off, then one week more.

Two: The Seven Stars: one, two, or three weeks of meetings in six other counties throughout the northern two-thirds of the state, extending over the next three months.

Three: The Nineteen Rays: more localized outreaches to various other communities across the state, spearheaded by locally trained and sent leaders, as well as the new locally supported Time to Revive full-time missionaries; still ongoing, more than a year later.

Remember me saying that Revive Indiana was the first Time to Revive outreach to be named after an entire state--and the first that broke out of the original target area to spread across the state? Well, all TTR outreaches that were initiated after Revive Indiana have followed the same pattern: Revive Florida (which spread to two other counties), Revive Ohio (now spreading to its third county), and now, for next year, Revive Texas. Now, TTR has gone back and renamed all their earlier outreaches, including the original Dallas event which is now gearing up for round two next year, to incorporate the name of the state and the city. Just look at this list of recent outreaches released by TTR:

reviveARIZONA :: Sedona
reviveFLORIDA :: Sarasota
reviveINDIANA :: Jasper County
reviveMICHIGAN :: Flint
reviveMINNESOTA :: Twin Cities
reviveMISSISSIPPI :: Tupelo
reviveOHIO :: Darke County
reviveTX :: Dallas-Fort Worth
reviveWASHINGTON :: Seattle

Revive Indiana continues to stand out as a turning point in the movement that is Time to Revive, serving as the model for all future outreaches. And Indianans, more than those of any previous revival, still travel to every new venue providing a jump start to the local outreaches, returning home pumped up to continue what started there.

But what are the lingering results in Indiana? There is still an increased level of cooperation among churches (although some have backtracked on their involvement), but Elkhart itself remains a murder capital, with recent triple and double homicides making the news.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Timo's Trial

Things are happening pretty fast on the Miller Kidnapping Case, so I'm starting another post here for information on Timo's trial as it comes in. Word is that Timo is in Buffalo awaiting a pretrial hearing, and we will let you know how that goes as soon as we can. The prosecution may look on this as an opportunity to add to Ken and Philip's prison time by trying to put them on the stand against Timo. This, of course, would be only for spite, as they already have plenty enough evidence against him--he was first arrested for this crime over five years ago.

Timo's detention hearing was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on October 12--then bumped to that time on the 14th. Carl Swartzentruber sent in this report: “God was very good to us, and he did answer prayers in the court hearing. The judge was very friendly and gracious. The decision was to not ask for pre-trial release for now. Jeff Conrad, Timo’s lawyer, talked to Timo about this and Timo agreed. At this point they are going to pursue a plea-agreement and negotiations are ongoing. Timo was in good spirits. He looked in good health and good condition all the way around. He was very happy to see us all there and came out with a big smile on his face. It was good to see him again as well. The judge also asked that Timo be moved to a prison closer to Lancaster County for Jeff Conrad’s sake. That was interesting and very gracious. We just felt like God was there and blessed. There was a good spirit in the whole proceeding. Now we need to pray for the ongoing negotiations so that God works everything out the way he wants it.”

A website has now been set up for news of Timo's legal process. Of all things, it was false charges of child pornography that got Timo whisked off a Managuan street in thrown in the dungeon. What a case of projection.

“We probably couldn't have extradited you. But that doesn't mean we couldn't get you. When we really want somebody, we work with our friends, in whatever country we happen to be. A few phone calls, a little back-and-forth, tit for tat. We get them to cancel your immigration status, and next thing you know, you're being deported.”  --American officer David Foster in Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Living in the Underground Church

I'm beginning another post on the topic of the month, but this will be very general, with lessons learned drawn from a variety of situations.

I've been watching a film produced by the underground Russian Baptist Church a full generation ago, at the very height of persecution, but less than a decade before it ended. When this video was recently shown to believers in Mongolia (where the church emerged only after the fall of Communism), this was their recorded response: 
They looked at the faces in that video and saw people who had genuinely given themselves to Christ in the face of the great risk of prison camps and torture. They commented that such real conviction was entirely different from the sort of 'Christianity' seen in Mongolia, where nominal adherence to Christianity and easy believism has been spread by missionaries and now by Mongolians who are encouraged by missionaries to travel the world and sow the same seed where-ever. The Mongolians who saw the video felt highly embarrassed that the character of Christendom in Mongolia is completely different from those shown on the film who wholly dedicated themselves to Christ in spite of the tremendous danger and cost. 
We in the West have much to learn from these saints, now mostly living in our midst, who can still tell us how their faith was able to thrive despite living their entire lives under incremental state opposition. For example, their leader since 1965, Gennadi Kryuchkov, went into hiding in lieu of sure imprisonment--and, for an incredible twenty years, lived in a totalitarian country tantalizingly beyond the reach of the mighty KGB, who were so frustrated in their vain attempts to bring him to ground that one of them said it almost made a believer of him. His fugitive status outlasted the KGB itself, as he led the church that entire time from behind a curtain of invisibility until he at last emerged triumphant. In fact, in an incredibly bold move, he even emerged briefly after 19 years to address a national conference, only to disappear again while the communist regime concluded its death throes.

I'd like to quote the opening paragraph of Gennadi's obituary (posted in The Guardian), and I trust my readers will see the parallels to recent show trials in the American Northeast:
It was past midnight at the end of the second day of the trial of Russian Baptist pastors Gennadi Kryuchkov and Georgi Vins. Having been denied his request for seven supporting witnesses and a proper defence counsel, Kryuchkov exercised his right to a "final address", using the dock virtually as a pulpit. "I'm happy to stand before you as a Christian ... Those brethren who are in prisons and camps are suffering, not for having broken Soviet law, but for having been faithful to God and his church. They suffer for Christ, who called them to a new life. Among them are reformed criminals."

Developing . . .

Friday, 7 October 2016

What is Transgender? A Societal Answer

Earlier I started a series on the topic of Transgender, starting with the Linguistic definition, followed here by the Societal Definition, and culminating, I believe, in a Legal Definition (whenever the latter is finally settled).

I don't recommend any of my readers listen to this video, due to the foul language (the relevant parts at least are subtitled), but I will sum up its content in one sentence: As of October 2016 in Ontario, it only takes one hour to go from being a woman with a female photo identity card to a woman with a male photo identity card--issued by the government no less. It's much easier than changing one's name; many women spend as long just changing their clothes.  She probably needed more documentation to prove her new address than her new gender identity.

Now, think about that for just a minute. Women have been changing their last names for many centuries--far longer than Western civilization has existed on these shores--but it's not even been the span of a single lifetime since they could change their gender, and now it can be done in less than an hour, with no physical exam, no court hearing, no sworn statement, not even any witnesses present? It's even easier than getting legally married!

Now, this is not all entirely new. Homosexual behaviour was so common in first century Western Civilization that the Apostle Paul included it several times in various lists of sins. We even get our word 'lesbian' from the behaviour common to female inhabitants of ancient Lesbos Island in Greece. What is new is the legal fiction that male and female are social, rather than biological, constructs.

Allowing one's feelings to trump biological reality is at once a social, and a legal, decision. During a time in which a majority of people are reluctant to start calling a woman 'he' just because she identifies as male, it soon becomes a legal matter. As was pointed out in the uncensored video, a law is pending in Canada which will make it a crime punishable by jail to call a woman--who calls herself a man--by female pronouns. Thus, at least for a time, the legal and social definitions are hopelessly intertwined.

But the groundswell of murmuring will simply not be legislated away. Witness the grumbling by female athletes at this year's Olympics over the  IAAF's decision not to disqualify athletes from competing as women, even if they have characteristically male testosterone levels--which means that by the next Olympics, female competitors who aren't doping up on testosterone won't stand a chance of winning, at least not against a Russian runner.

The societal definition of transgender in Western civilization is certainly in flux, more so than it has been since the fall of Rome. But everything eventually trends toward the mean, so the current societal ambivalence will eventually give way to biological reality. In the meanwhile, buckle your seat-belts: we are in for a wild ride.

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Plight of the Righteous Defendant: the case of the Miller Kidnapping Trials

In my previous post, I promised to provide another post on the Miller Kidnapping Case, in which I would  share more than the bare facts of the trial.

Here it is.

I first of all refer my readers to a post from 2007, which I ended as follows:
 When what used to be considered wrong becomes lawful, sooner or later what used to be considered right becomes unlawful.

It's happening. 
This truism is no better exemplified than in the Miller Kidnapping Case, which is--contrary to the federal government's claims--all about a girl being kidnapped from her mother. Well, yes, that is what the government says it's all about, but they have the wrong mother in mind.

Janet Jenkins is not Isabella's mother, nor has she ever been. She did not conceive her, did not nurture her either in her womb or at her breast, did not give birth to her, did not sign her birth certificate, was never even named on her passport application. Lisa Miller is the only mother Isabella has ever had or known, and this kidnapping has always been about Janet using the full force and power of the United States Government to steal a child away from its mother through the legal fiction of declared parenthood. Now that we've clarified that, we can continue with our evaluation of the trial.

So far the parties to this case have decided to go with jury trials. This is usually good business for the lawyers, as jury trials always take a lot longer then bench trials. But it's not usually very good business for the defendants, as we can see from the very recent results of some celebrated trials in Baltimore. I quote:
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams acquitted Rice in a bench trial. Williams also has acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson in separate bench trials. Officer William Porter's trial ended in a hung jury in December.
Notice that the one defendant who put himself at the mercy of a jury barely escaped, while those who put themselves directly at the mercy of a judge were all acquitted. There's a reason for why this could happen, and it's called voir dire. That's the legal name for the process by which the prosecutor systematically excludes everyone from the jury who might be counted on to acquit. Since this process isn't perfectly predictable, and prosecutors don't always know exactly what questions to ask every time, every once and a while a rogue juror slips through to throw a spanner in the works. But in most cases the prosecutor ends up with exactly the jury he wants--and needs--to secure a conviction.

Mr. Grimshaw was convicted in a bench trial back in 2007, but it wasn't his point to be acquitted. He wanted to preach holiness in the courtroom, and not having a jury to preach it to detracted very little from his goal. Now, there has been some open mention of the gospel in the Miller proceedings, but usually by a witness, and only tangentially by an attorney; never by the defendant in a closing statement to which the opposition cannot easily object. In a trial where conviction is pretty much a foregone conclusion, a righteous defendant forfeits a powerful pulpit by exercising his right to silence, and I hope that future righteous defendants--and there will be many--will take heed to the new way of doing things, and take their lead from Mr. Grimshaw, not Mr. Zodhiates.

The lawyers carefully hired by Philip Zodhiates mostly fell into the trap of trotting out their usual tricks, and I have to say to his credit that Prosecutor Paul van de Graaf easily ripped them to shreds before the jury (when the judge himself wasn't, after dismissing the jury yet again, reprimanding the defence for even attempting them). Yes, the prosecutor used some tricks of his own, but with such class and style that none of them even met with immediate objection. Even the perfunctory motions to acquit for lack of a case, duly offered by every defence attorney since time immemorial, showed, in this case, a disconnect with the reality that the defence did not dispute the facts that had been presented by the prosecution. This is what happens with defence lawyers who have made a career of trying whatever tricks they can to win acquittal for someone who is actually guilty of evildoing. But people need to learn a new way of doing trials in this new world where wrong has become right, and the sooner the better.

What this will require is a new breed of lawyers. I was most impressed in this trial, at least on the defence side, by the performance of David Boyd. He's been cited as  "a rising star" by the legal profession and, once he has his own law firm and doesn't have to toe the line drawn by the old school, I can see him excelling at the new reality. For example, from the time the prosecution rested until the closing arguments had ended, the only motion floated by the defence that was even entertained by the judge (other than a few of the many objections being sustained, as could have been expected) was Mr. Boyd's claim of a legal falsehood in Mr. Van de Graaf's closing argument.

Mr. Van de Graaf had to demonstrate to the jury that Mr. Zodhiates, although never having set foot in Vermont in the commission of his crime, was still bound by the decisions of Judge Cohen in the Vermont family court. He dismissed all the legal decisions in Virginia--nineteen in all, extending from 2004 all the way to 2010, after the facts on the ground had already rendered them moot--as having no bearing on the case. They were "a dream, a wish, even a prayer."

But after all the arguments were over and the jury had been sent home for the day, Mr. Boyd pointed out to Judge Arcara that Lisa Miller's case against the state of Vermont had been referred [as the Constitution stipulates it should] to the Supreme Court, and had that august body ruled her bound to the the laws of the state in which Isabella lived, rather than the state in which Janet Jenkins had been ruled to be Isabella's parent, it would in fact had rendered all six Vermont decisions inapplicable. Had the Supreme Court not declined to hear the case (poised as it was to overthrow all bans to parental claims such as Janet Jenkins asserted, like the one in question in Virginia), this trial may well never have happened. The judge was caught off guard by Mr. Boyd's citation of USC 1204 and its case law stipulation that only the laws of the state of residence are to apply in international kidnapping cases, and agreed to consider including that information in his charge to the jury--for all the good it may have done, as we have seen. But it does show the wisdom of hiring someone who was present at the prior trial, where this argument was previously made.

There were four co-conspirators indicted in this case; so far, we have only seen the trials of half of them. I trust the others will find my admonitions helpful in the future, whether immediate or distant.

And I do believe there will be at least one more post on this topic, regarding the sort of evidence that came up in the first two trials, and what it says about the investigative powers of the federal government.

Oh, one more thing: at a subsequent trial, it would be interesting to see if anyone is allowed to offer testimony in support of "affirmative defense under this section that . . . the defendant was fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence."