How should Christians think about Trump’s North Korea stance?


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TRUMP’S TAKE ON NORTH KOREA

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last Wednesday evening around 6:15, President Donald Trump along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan held a press conference. They talked about a number of different things, including trade, but the primary focus of that press conference was North Korea. It was also revealed just before that press conference that CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who is the nominee for the Secretary of State, met secretly with Kim Jong Un over the Easter weekend. 

The whole coming together of this summit between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has taken a lot of twists and turns. What’s your take on all this?   

DR. REEDER: Tom, I think that what we’ve got here, in the populist appeal of President Donald Trump to the reaction of overreach in the previous administration of governmental authority and power and its cultural agenda, it seems as if there’s this profane conduct, instead of a turnoff, an appeal to a significant segment of the voting population and his unabashed sentiment that — Look, I’m a businessman. I know the art of the deal. I’ll make the deal and it’s not going to be business as usual from the unproductive tactics of our politicians, ‘the accepted practices of statecraft.’

And I think people elected him with that in mind and now he’s doing it. It’s very befuddling to the media because, whether this is directly by the book — his book, The Art of the Deal — or he is just showing you the intuition of his approach to being a businessman, you can see him doing things that they say — That is unbecoming of a president. He shouldn’t do that with these tweets, and statements, and interviews and derogatory statements.

WHY DOES THIS DRAW SO MUCH IRE FROM THE MEDIA?

And so, they ridicule him for that, which seems to be his way to put the other person on their heels. On the backside, he is sending secret envoys such as the previously unknown and secretive trip that Michael Pompeo made to talk with him, from which we now get this “possible summit” and now the media criticizes him because these trips set this up were not publicly done in the manner in which summits are usually arranged.

The third thing he’s said is this — Well, listen, you need to know, respectively, I’ll walk away from the table if we’re not getting any progress. If you’re not willing to walk away, you’re not going to be able to accomplish it and he is letting them know — Hey, respectfully, but I’ll walk away unless we get… — and he names the progress he wants in denuclearization, not just a treaty, but actual denuclearization.

TOM LAMPRECHT: When he says he will walk away from the table, he’ll either not go to the negotiations if it’s not going in the right direction or he’ll get up and leave. Is that a message to North Korea or to the media?

DR. REEDER: I believe “respectfully” was for the media, to tell them — Hey, I’m not going back to Tactic 1 — which is to put them on their heels with insults and name-calling. I think it was also a message to the president of North Korea, this dictator, that is — You’re not going to dictate this. I am now dictating the fact that it won’t continue unless we get the desired result.

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN NEGOTIATE CHARITABLY?

Tom, from a Christian world and life view, I want to make sure with no ambiguity that a Christian — whether it’s business, politics, relationships or whatever — must always say the truth, say what they mean, mean what they say and never be mean when they say it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t say tough things, but it says you never say even tough things meanly. If I go to someone who is entrapped in sin, I want to identify the sin and I may have to say some tough things, but it’s going to be clear I’m going to speak the truth in love and I’m going to love with the truth.

And I think that should carry over into every arena of life, that we treat people made in the image of God with dignity and their positions that they hold with dignity because I also reject, as a Christian, any form of pragmatism that the end justifies the means. I believe the means will always, ultimately, determine the end.

ADDRESSING AND FREEING THE AMERICANS HELD CAPTIVE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you mentioned earlier three Americans being held captive in North Korea. I don’t want to end today’s Today in Perspective without bringing up our brother in Christ, Andrew Brunson, who was a pastor out of Black Mountain, North Carolina.

There was a hearing held on Andrew Brunson over in the country of Turkey where he’s being held captive. He was actually sent back from that hearing to a more notorious prison in Turkey. He was accused of terrorism because of evangelism.

DR. REEDER: We have a committee on the persecuted church under our missions committee. This has been an area of focus. In fact, even as we speak, I am going to be reading a letter from Andrew Brunson and I’d like for you to read it in just a moment so that people can get a personal sense of it as well as his commitment to Christ as a believer and as a pastor.

Here is a man that is just unbelievably faithful. He has spent years in Turkey. He has a heart for the people in Turkey. And, Tom, he not only has a heart for the people in Turkey, he is willing to endure for the people in Turkey.

Tom, he pastors a church of 25 people. Here is a Southern Baptist pastor — he’s one of our brothers in ministry in a sister denomination, the Southern Baptist — faithful to the Word of God, loves the Lord, loves the people and loves where he has been called as a pastor.

And he tries to do, as Paul told Timothy, “the work of an evangelist”. Therefore, as he shared his faith, they arrested him– in this “secular” Islamic nation, they arrested him — they put him in prison, they have given him a trial and, in that trial, have declared evangelism as a terrorist act. And, therefore, they have moved him from that prison to a what they call “intense” prison. We would call it something like maximum security, but it’s a no-holds-barred incarceration. I can’t imagine what he’s going through — obviously, I want to pray for him but I don’t want to even dwell on it. He longs to be with his wife and back to his church, but, Tom, he has made it abundantly clear that he will be faithful to Christ in life and in death.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Let me read that letter:

Let it be clear, I’m in prison, not for anything I’ve done wrong, but for who I am, a Christian pastor. I desperately miss my wife and children, yet I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ as many have done before me. I know that God’s grace is sustaining me even when I do not feel that grace and I know that the prayers of God’s people are surrounding me and giving strength.

One of my big fears has been that I will be forgotten in prison. Thank you for not forgetting. It reminds me that I’m not alone and that I need to stand firm with my face pointed in God’s direction always. To the extent that I am known, I want to be known as a servant and lover of Jesus Christ.

I have prayed for this land and its people for many years for God to pour out great blessing. In my weakness, I pray daily for strength and courage to persevere and remain faithful to my king until the end. My deepest thanks to my family around the world that are standing with me and praying for me.

DR. REEDER: So, Tom, let’s end by making a personal appeal to all who listen to this program and then anyone you’d like to share this program with. No. 1, we will not forget Pastor Andrew Brunson. That means, No. 2, we will be in prayer for him.

Thirdly and finally, a word of warning: what he is going through here, Christian ministers may one day go through here, for we are always just a generation away from the movement of the Gospel to another area of the globe if we don’t apply the wonderful, glorious gospel in life and in ministry through faithful church and faithful Christians in our own country. Having said that, now pray for Pastor Brunson. May the Lord deliver him and may He deliver sinners in that nation and around the world through his witness.

COMING UP TOMORROW: ARMY CHAPLAIN DISCIPLINED — VIOLATION OF HIS RELIGIOUS RIGHTS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Wednesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A Fort Bragg chaplain is facing a disciplinary action — does he follow the tenets of his faith or does he follow the Army’s equal opportunity policy?

DR. REEDER: And here are the first steps of the persecution that I just warned about. Here is a faithful minister being faithful to his Army regulations, faithful to his confession of faith, faithful to his Bill of Rights liberties, and yet his livelihood is about to be taken away from him, this decorated chaplain.

Why? Because of his faithfulness and his embrace of his first liberty as found in the Bill of Rights and faithfulness in ministry there in the Army. We’ll look at the particulars of that and what is happening in this targeting, not of his life as Andrew Brunson, but of his livelihood which is usually the first step of an authoritarian persecution in any nation.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

13 hours ago

VIDEO: Prisons could be built with COVID-19 funds, Shelby endorses Katie Britt for Senate, Brooks battles with Swalwell as a new poll shows big lead and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Alabama really use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons?

— Does Katie Britt’s entering of the U.S. Senate race shake things up, or has U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) already won this race?

— Can U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) keep the more radical members of the Democratic Party at bay?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by former U.S. Attorney Jay Town to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at those who want to use the illegally acquired tax returns of the uber-wealthy to push for higher taxes. He argues the released returns show that we should implement a flat tax and do away with all deductions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

16 hours ago

Auburn’s David Housel tackles more than sports in ‘From the Backbooth at Chappy’s’

When David Housel retired from Auburn University in 2006, after a legendary career as athletics director for the Tigers, it wasn’t long before his wife urged him to get busy again – and a deli on Glenn Avenue in Auburn was the beneficiary.

“Susan wanted me to do something to get out of the house,” Housel recalls. “I started going to Chappy’s to drink coffee, read the paper. Pretty soon, Kenny Howard would meet me there, and it just kind of grew from there.”

In short order, friends of Housel began to gather, first a few one day a week and then, just prior to the pandemic, 12-16 people nearly every day of the week.

They meet at Chappy’s, where a plaque commemorates Housel’s booth, and they talk – about sports, of course, but about pretty much anything that’s on their minds.

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Housel began to write essays about those mornings, posting them to Facebook. He’s now compiled more than 100 of those pieces into a new book, “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s: Stories of the South: Football, Politics, Religion, and More.” It’s officially released next week at a series of book signings at Chappy’s in the Auburn area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day: Tuesday in Auburn, Wednesday in Montgomery and Thursday in Prattville.

“Consider this Housel unleashed,” the author says. “Most of the stuff I’ve written in my life has been about Auburn on an Auburn platform. Even after I retired, I was a representative of Auburn, even though I wasn’t working there. This is not an Auburn book. It’s about football, politics, religion and more.”

“From the Backbooth at Chappy’s,” with a foreword by Auburn graduate and acclaimed journalist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, evolved as Housel’s morning gatherings at Chappy’s evolved, though he began writing the essays fairly early in the process.

“When something is in your mind, in your heart, in your head, if you’re a writer, it just has to come out, and it just comes through your fingers,” Housel says. “Turns out people like to read it, so I got the Facebook page. I shared thoughts and essays and that kind of thing. It was not a planned thing.”

When COVID-19 came along, Housel decided to listen to a few folks who told him his musings would make a good book.

“I had been thinking a lot about it, and it was time to do it,” Housel says.

Housel has written six other books. Most have to do with Auburn sports history, but one, “From the Desk of David Housel,” is similar to “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s.”

“That one was primarily sports, but it had some other things in it,” Housel says. “This one is about the other stuff, but it has some sports in it.”

Though the three topics in his book’s title – football, politics and religion  – are often the subjects people are warned not to bring up if they want to keep the peace, Housel and his friends don’t shy away from any of them. Housel especially gravitates toward religious topics.

“I like the ones that I hope make people think,” he says of his essays. “The good Lord gave us a mind, and we’re supposed to use it. Too few people who call themselves Christians do what the Lord said and use their minds. … Faith has got to be built not on challenging God but questioning God. I think God likes that, because it shows we’re engaged and that we care.”

Now that the pandemic is ending, the Backbooth at Chappy’s events are slowly but surely returning to normal. On Mondays, Housel eats two eggs scrambled, lean bacon and a helium biscuit; on Tuesdays maybe a parfait with granola; on Wednesdays, it’s blueberry pancakes, and Fridays a waffle.

What remains constant is the conversation. And the writing.

“I’m still writing the Backbooth, and since the first of the year, I’ve written a couple I think are book-worthy,” Housel says. “I started out doing maybe one a week, but I’m old enough that I don’t have to meet a self-imposed deadline. When the spirit moves me, I write.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

18 hours ago

State Rep. Pringle pushes to ban critical race theory in public schools — ‘Woke culture indoctrination,’ ‘Needs to be stopped in its tracks’

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education banned so-called “critical race theory” from its public schools, and it is a move State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) hopes to follow in Alabama.

Critical race theory, a belief that racism is ingrained in some of America’s sacred institutions, is widely panned by critics because it distorts and weaponizes history for political gain.

Friday, Pringle discussed his prefiled bill for the Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in Alabama’s public schools.

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“It’s simply a bill that says in public education, you can’t teach or indoctrinate our children with critical race theory,” he said. “People are waking up all around the nation to how bad this stuff is. I mean, this is woke cancel culture gone completely amuck. They want to completely disregard our 14th and 15th Amendment rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. If you don’t agree with them — here’s what’s crazy: They want to send you to a reeducation camp. Think about that, a reeducation camp. Don’t they do that in China, Russia and North Korea?  That’s how bad this stuff is. Either you agree with them or you have to be sent off to a reeducation camp.”

“This is just indoctrination — the woke culture indoctrination of our children,” Pringle continued. “That’s all it is and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. I mean, our children need to learn history and we ought to open a frank discussion about history — the good, the bad. But this is not about good or bad. This is teaching our children that our nation is a bad nation, is an evil nation and is not the great country that we live in. We are the safest, freest people in the world and that’s what our children need to learn.”

“Do we have problems? Yeah,” he added. “Have we done bad things? Yeah. But we’re still the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

According to the Mobile County Republican lawmaker, the response to the effort thus far has been positive and supportive.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

21 hours ago

Why Sylacauga marble is known around the world

If you’ve ever visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and stared up at the translucent marble ceiling, you’ve witnessed a piece of Alabama history. The ceiling is made of white marble mined in Talladega County’s Sylacauga (appropriately known as the Marble City).

In addition to lending its natural treasure to some of the nation’s most notable buildings, Sylacauga also holds the title for having the longest deposit of marble in the world. The bed of stone runs 32 miles long, a mile and a half wide, and more than 600 feet deep. The marble found in this quarry is especially desirable for two key characteristics: its purity and its durability. When paired together, these distinct qualities make Alabama marble some of the most desired in the world for large-scale buildings and monuments, as well as homes and sculptures.

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The History of Alabama Marble

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The Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and heat. In Sylacauga, the conditions are perfect for the formation of metamorphic marble. Sylacauga’s massive deposit was first discovered by Native Americans, but it wasn’t quarried until 1834, 20 years after army surgeon Dr. Edward Gantt stumbled upon the vein while passing through with General Andrew Jackson’s army.

In the years that followed Gantt’s discovery, Sylacauga’s marble business thrived. More quarries popped up, mining the marble for everything from funerary monuments to building projects to sculptures. By the 1960s, the use of the quarried marble shifted toward the utilitarian. Rather than being mined in huge chunks for building material, the marble was being ground down for use in products like cosmetics, diapers, magazine paper, fertilizer, fiberglass, toothpaste, and chewing gum. In 1969, marble was named Alabama’s state rock.

A Timeless Treasure

Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Today the charge for Alabama marble is being led by the Swindal family, who own Alabama Marble Mineral & Mining Co. (AM3). AM3’s 50-acre quarry in Sylacauga is the world’s only supplier and leading distributor of Alabama marble. Owner Roy Swindal’s goal is to reintroduce the world to Alabama marble, once again marketing it as a prized material for both commercial and consumer construction. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, around 30 million tons of marble have been pulled from the ground in Sylacauga since 1900. The Swindals hope to add to that number by continuing and improving upon the state’s tradition for many years to come.

Marble Mania

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Sculptor Enzo Torcoletti at the Sylacauga Marble Festival (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

It’s only fitting that a town built on marble pay tribute to the stone that brought its success. For the past 13 years, the city has celebrated its marble mining heritage with the 12-day Magic of Marble Festival. The festival, typically held in April, features several activities and events that are all free and fun for the whole family. Festival participants can take a tour of operational quarries and visit the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point that overlooks the town’s historic first quarry. The creative side of marble is put on display at Blue Bell Park, where 25 sculptors create original pieces made entirely of marble. On the final day of the festival, the finished pieces are displayed and sold at nearby B.B. Comer Library. Other activities include a 5K run and a scavenger hunt.

If you can’t wait for next year’s festival and you want to see Alabama’s famous white marble in action now, there are several locations around the state to see it put to good use. In Birmingham, try the John Hand Building, Wells Fargo headquarters, City Federal building, or the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Montgomery, don’t miss the “Head of Christ” sculpture at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also happens to be the artist behind Birmingham’s Vulcan.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

22 hours ago

The economics of paying ransom

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the hacker group DarkSide disrupted gasoline supplies across the Southeast. The company caused a stir by paying a 75 Bitcoin ransom to DarkSide. America historically has been opposed to paying evildoers, as reflected in the slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent in tribute,” and President Jefferson sending the Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates.

Ransomware raises many economic issues. A first question is, do hackers ever give the data back if paid? DarkSide provided Colonial Pipeline a key to decrypt their data. According to Proofpoint, this is the norm: 70% of ransom payers got their data back, 20% never got their data back and 10% received a second ransom demand.

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From an economic perspective, this is not surprising. About two dozen groups, identifying themselves by name and known to insurance companies, carry out most of the sophisticated attacks. Insurers would never recommend payment in the future to a group which has reneged. The hackers must deliver as promised to make money.

Some have suggested making payment of ransom for cyberattacks illegal. If no one ever paid ransom, the hackers could not make money. Refusing to pay ransom though faces two significant economic challenges.

The first is time consistency. Kidnapping illustrates this concept. Before an event, the incentive exists to say, “We will never pay ransom.” If the bad guys believe this, they will never invest the time, effort and expense to stage a kidnapping. Once they hold hostages, however, our incentive changes; negotiating just this one time now makes sense. Our policy to never pay ransom is not credible.

Collective action poses the second challenge. Businesses collectively have an interest in not rewarding cybercrime, yet individual businesses suffer these attacks. A business which does not pay ransom benefits other businesses, creating the challenge. Why should Continental Pipeline suffer losses to make other businesses less likely to be attacked?

Why do businesses pay ransom? Reports mention several factors. A business may face a closure of unknown length and cost. Customers’ personal information will be sold if ransom is not paid, leading to fines and bad publicity. And the hackers might sell proprietary information to competitors.

Good economists know better than to second guess business managers’ decisions. Decisions to pay ransom often involve the business’ executives, its insurance carrier and tech security experts. They know the options and likely costs and should make a good decision, despite the pressure of a crisis.

Insurance companies and government regulations reduce organizations’ vulnerability to hackers, which is good. But what about channeling President Jefferson and going after the hackers? Most of the hacker groups operate in Russia, which provides Safe Haven as long as the hackers do not target Russian companies. Some law enforcement options may exist. Federal prosecutors apparently recovered most of the Bitcoins paid to DarkSide.

Crime is a very costly way to transfer wealth. Stolen merchandise typically sells for one-third (or less) of market value. A criminal might have to steal thousands in property to net $1,000. Ransomware appears much more wasteful than traditional theft. Consider just the value of the time Americans spent searching for gas during the disruption. Remember then that the ransom was about $4.4 million.

Cybercrime makes us poorer. The hackers and defenders at tech security companies are highly skilled computer programmers. But instead of making new apps or games, they are hacking or defending existing computer systems. Add to this the service disruption during cyberattacks, the reduced use of technology for fear of being hacked and the time spent on security training. The costs may be $1 trillion annually, or one percent of global GDP.

We must guard here against comparing the real world to an imagined utopia. We cannot costlessly protect our property from thieves or our computers from malware, or make people no longer willing to steal from others. Economics teaches that there are no perfect solutions in life, only tradeoffs. Vigilance, antivirus programs and backup are the tradeoffs we face with cybercrime.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.