Wasilla's claim to fame: world record cabbages!

Wasilla's 2011 prize-winning cabbageNot long ago few people had heard of the small town of Wasilla, Alaska. But it was in the news in 2009 for producing a world record cabbage, weighing 127 pounds (57 kg). At this year’s Alaska State Fair the same Wasilla cabbage grower hoped to break his own record with the “behemoth” pictured here, but, as the Anchorage Daily News reports, its weight fell a few ounces “shy” of the 2009 record.

Oh, and Wasilla, in “the Bible Belt of Alaska”, is also the home of an obscure former governor of Alaska called Sarah Palin. But no one remembers her any more.

Sarah Palin Fulfils Prophecy

Today I have had drawn to my attention an astonishing prophecy given by Sharon Stone in Glasgow. Here is the text, as recorded and annotated by the Elijah List, with their varied emphasis:

The following is a prophecy given by Dr. Sharon Stone in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2008. The notations in RED are fulfillment of the word, but are not part of the word given.

September is a Turning Point

“September is a turning point and a sign of the times. It is all about those who have made Godly alignments in this season being blessed with revelation and information in the midst of world crisis.

“I see more banks will suffer: a USA world bank’s shares are in trouble (Lehman Brothers files bankruptcy, September 15, 2008). I see government in the USA bailing out mortgage giants (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Federal takeover, September 7, 2008) and the government in England cutting house purchase taxes for the sagging housing crisis (Stamp Duty Tax change announced, September 2, 2008) to no avail.

“I see a European airline failing with no notice (XL files bankruptcy, September 12, 2008). I see the eyes of the world looking to see, ‘Who is this coming out of Alaska?’ (Sarah Palin announced as McCain’s running mate, August 29, 2008). And I see smoke coming from the Chunnel (Fire in the Chunnel, September 11, 2008).

“As I see these things, I hear the encouragement of God to His Isaacs in the earth who sow in the times of famine and reap 100 fold in the year. I’m not a prosperity preacher, I’m a prophet. And God is saying that September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system. There are always the few that are greatly blessed when the majority are shaken, threatened and fearful.”

God says, Have you positioned yourself for THE NEW? Your storehouse is not an earthly bank. Hold on and I will bail you out of your mortgage issues. Am I not better to you than any government? I will not leave you stranded on foreign soil, and I will carry you above the circumstances better than any plane or jet. And your hope is not an Alaskan saviour, but Me.” I know that sounds strange, it does to me also.

England, the smoke I saw coming out of the Chunnel is a warning for your intercessors to arise and cut off the enemy’s plan to sabotage and siege England’s favour in trade. Let him who has ears hear….

“God, I release an Isaac anointing upon us now!”

The Isaac reference, by the way, is to Genesis 26:1,12.

I note here six quite specific prophecies which were fulfilled in September, including that the eyes of the world would look to Sarah Palin (announced as a candidate in August, but infamous only in September). One or two of these might have been guessed at, but not all six. Can anyone possibly claim that there is no Christian prophecy today?

As for Sarah Palin fulfilling the prophecy, it is perhaps significant that her emergence from Alaska is listed with five disasters! Anyway, as the prophecy continues, our hope is not to be in an Alaskan saviour, nor for that matter in a Hawaiian one, but in God.

But prophecies like this are not given for entertainment, nor primarily to convince unbelievers that God speaks to today, but as warnings and encouragements for his people (1 Corinthians 14:3). The warning here is to the intercessors of England to pray. A day of prayer for the world’s economies has been announced for 29th October, with events being planned in London (I can’t find online information) as well as New York. My church is considering how to get involved.

The Live Parrot Sketch

Anyone of my age here in England will certainly remember the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch, starring Michael Palin and John Cleese. If you have never seen it, you really must. You can find it on YouTube: Dead Parrot Sketch – there is more of it in this version than I had remembered.

Today (thanks to Matt Wardman and David Keen‘s sidebar for the link) John Cleese appears in a new sketch, in fact more of an interview, this time about a live parrot. As there were problems with Matt’s attempt to embed this, here is a link to YouTube: Live Parrot Sketch. This is in fact John Cleese’s take on the other Palin, Sarah. Among other things he says:

I used to think Michael Palin was the funniest Palin ever …

She’s basically learned certain speeches. And she does them very well, she’s got a very good memory. But it’s like a nice looking parrot, because the parrot speaks beautifully, and kind of says “Aw, shucks” every now and again, but doesn’t really have any understanding of the meaning of the words that it is producing, even though it’s producing them very accurately …

And the truth is that Sarah Palin is no way good enough … [In Europe] you probably wouldn’t find 5% who think she is good enough to run the United States. And she’s running as the partner of a 72-year-old cancer survivor. I mean, Monty Python could have written it.

By the way, Cleese is not politically naive: he has been a long term supporter of the Liberal Democrats (the party I am a member of) here in the UK.

Now I am not sure that the media have been fair to Sarah Palin. I stand by my initial impression of her as a small town politician with integrity and a genuine Christian faith.

I think Sarah Palin was right to insist that an allegedly violent state trooper, accused of

using a Taser on his stepson, drinking beer in his patrol car, illegally shooting a moose and threatening his former father-in-law

should have been fired, if the allegations were true. It was quite wrong and morally reprehensible for Walter Monegan to rely on the argument

He didn’t do anything under my watch to result in termination

to wash his hands of the fact that what Trooper Wooten allegedly did when off duty should have led to him being fired. The way in which Palin intervened was of course unwise, but this is the way things are done in small towns.

Nevertheless I agree with John Cleese that “Sarah Palin is no way good enough … to run the United States”. Experience of running a small town is just not relevant. McCain may have thought he was making a smart move, but it looks like it has backfired on him.

Mark Strauss on Obama and Palin

I have just discovered the Zondervan blog koinōnia: biblical-theological conversations for the community of Christ. This is where the quiz I just took on the NT use of the OT was posted. And it seems to be bursting with interesting posts, especially this one: Obama, Palin, and the Complementarian-Egalitarian Debate by Mark L. Strauss. It is not only the bloggers at koinōnia who are heavyweights: the first commenter on this post is none other than Craig Blomberg. I won’t say much about this post (as I am trying not to spend much time blogging!) except that it is an excellent take on the issues I raised here and here. Read Strauss’ post!

There really are people who don't allow women in secular authority

In the discussion on my first post on Sarah Palin, some scepticism was expressed, especially by Jeremy Pierce, about whether John Piper actually holds the position that women should not be in authority over men in the secular sphere. I must admit that he is not completely explicit about this in the extract I quoted. But he certainly seems to be leaning strongly that way when it comes to matters of major authority such as a President would have.

After a couple of days when I had little time for blogging (and confused by Commentful’s failures to pick up comments on Complegalitarian, a problem with Blogger) I came back to the first post I made on this subject on Complegalitarian. This has now attracted 87 comments, most of which I have just read or skimmed. Among them the best answers to my original question have come from Molly Aley, formerly herself a rather extreme complementarian and now egalitarian – and also an Alaskan mother of five who has written Sarah Palin Rocks!

This comment by Molly links to a 2004 article from the influential Christian patriarchalist group Vision Forum which explicitly states, in a section heading, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Headship of Man Disqualifies a Woman for Civil Office”. Here is an extract:

Could it be that the man has headship only in the family and the church but not in the state? No, this could not be, lest you make God the author of confusion, and have Him violate in the state the very order He established at creation and has revealed in Holy Scripture! If one is going to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the civil sphere, then to be consistent, he or she also needs to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the family and the church.

Molly adds, and I agree:

I guess the one thing I do appreciate is that at least the patriarchy folks are consistant. If it’s not okay for women to rule in the home or in the church, why is it okay for them to rule in the government?

I think it’s a really fair question. I, for one, don’t understand how it is wrong for females to lead in the home or in the church, but okay in the civil sphere. I disagree (hotly) with Piper’s take, and with Vision Forum’s take, and yet I do appreciate the consistancy in the argument.

In another comment Molly quotes Voddie Baucham, who, according to Molly, is “featured on Focus on the Family and other fairly mainline ministries and a much lauded pastor/speaker in the SBC (and also works with Vision Forum)”. Lin also links to the same post. Baucham writes:

I believe Paul’s admonition should lead us to reject any notion of a wife and mother taking on the level of responsibility that Mrs. Palin is seeking. …

Mrs. Palin is not even supposed to be the head of her own household (Eph. 5:22ff; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-7), let alone the State of Alaska, or the United States Senate (The VP oversees the Senate). …

In an effort to win the pro-family political argument, we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument. In essence, the message being sent to women by conservative Christians backing McCain/Palin is, “It’s ok to sacrifice your family on the altar of your career; just don’t have an abortion.” How pro-family is that?

Another quote taken by Molly from The Backwater Report:

Sarah Palin seemingly has many of the right convictions but according to God’s word she is not the man for the job of Vice President and Christians who take Scripture seriously would be hard pressed to justify a vote for her.

First, Scripture teaches that God’s created order disallows a woman as civil magistrate. …

Second, Scripture explicitly teaches that one qualification for civil magistrate is maleness. …

So even if Piper is not quite explicit on this issue, some significant Christians are explicit, and consistent, in their “complementarianism”, which, as ASBO Jesus suggests, is sometimes a nice way of saying misogyny.

Clarifying Sarah Palin's church affiliation

There continues to be confusion and misinformation about vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s church affiliation. I stand by what I wrote in my previous post about Palin, and I now have additional information to confirm it. In a comment on his own post Brian Fulthorp questioned what I wrote; the following is adapted and expanded from my reply to Brian.

Brian is wrong to suggest that Wasilla Bible Church is part of the Assemblies of God. That would have been surprising since there was already Wasilla Assembly of God in a city of less than 5,000 in the 1970s. The Assemblies of God Directory confirms what I thought by listing only Wasilla Assembly of God within a five mile radius of zip code 99654 – and also confirms that Juneau Christian Centre is Assemblies of God.

Wikipedia currently says the following, but it keeps changing:

Palin was originally baptized as a Roman Catholic, but her parents switched to the Wasilla Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church, where she was rebaptized at age 12 or 13.[123] When she is in the capital, she attends Juneau Christian Center,[124] another Assemblies of God church. Her current home church in Wasilla is The Church on the Rock,[125] an independent congregation.[126] Although initial reports described her as the first Pentecostal ever named to a major party’s presidential ticket, Palin describes herself as a non-denominational Christian.[127] The National Catholic Reporter described her as a “post-denominational” Christian.[128]

But in fact this statement from The Church on the Rock shows that Wikipedia is wrong about her current home church, and I was right:

In regards to Governor Palin being a member or attending Church on the Rock, this is a statement about her church involvement. Before running for Governor of Alaska she frequently attended Church on the Rock for approximately one year. Since that time she has visited on occasion and now attends Wasilla Bible Church with her family. Wasilla Bible Church is a life giving church that has blessed our community. Governor Palin is a wonderful Christian woman with outstanding leadership qualities. Our prayers are with the Governor and her family.

In Christ,

Pastor David Pepper

Wasilla Assembly of God has also made a statement about Palin, of which the following is an extract:

Governor Sarah Palin did attend Wasilla Assembly of God since the time she was a teen ager. She and her family were a part of the church up until 2002. Since that time she has maintained a friendship with Wasilla Assembly of God and has attended various conferences and special meetings here. This June, the Governor spoke at the graduation service of our School of Ministry, Master’s Commission Wasilla Alaska.

I can’t find any statement about Palin from Wasilla Bible Church. But I did find the following from the Boston Herald, which also confirms that stray moose are a problem in the town:

“I’m elated,” said Larry Kroon, pastor of Wasilla Bible Church, where the Palins worship. “Her heart for her friends and her heart for God is powerful.”

Meanwhile Time Magazine confirms my information and puts an interesting perspective on the church scene in Wasilla:

“We like to call this the Bible Belt of Alaska,” says Cheryl Metiva, head of the local chamber of commerce. Churches proliferate in Wasilla today, and among the largest and most influential is the Wasilla Bible Church, where the Palins worship.

Would John Piper endorse anti-abortion Osama bin Laden?

In my post about Sarah Palin I suggested that it would be hypocritical for John Piper to endorse Sarah Palin as candidate for Vice-President, given his clearly expressed views that women should not be in secular authority over men.

I can still find no comment from Piper about Palin. But I can see the direction in which his thinking may be going from the latest post at the Desiring God blog, from Joe Rigney who is one of Piper’s staff members. The post title is “Abortion Is About God”. There is no specific mention of Palin, but there is the following quote which immediately follows an extract from a 1998 sermon by Piper:

During this election season, as politicians court the evangelical vote, it is vital that Christians remind themselves why abortion is the transcendent moral issue of our time.

So, it seems, to Piper and friends abortion transcends all other matters of morality, and should be the deciding issue as Christians decide how to vote. Presumably it would be OK to elect a woman President to be in authority over men, even a militant feminist, as long as she is anti-abortion and a Feminist for Life.

But how far would Piper go with this one? If Rigney’s statement is taken literally, a right stand on abortion must be taken as transcending even matters of basic morality, and not just when it comes to elections. Is it OK to be an adulterer if one is pro-life? How about a murderer or a paedophile? Probably Osama bin Laden, as a fundamentalist Muslim, is strongly opposed to abortion. So, if this were the contest, would Piper endorse Osama rather than Obama?

Sarah Palin, my kind of Republican

I don’t often comment on American politics. I suppose I tend to leave that to Americans, but that doesn’t stop Canadians like Kevin Sam giving their opinions. But I have made some exceptions for Obama, here and here, so partly for the sake of balance I will give some initial reactions to the surprise nomination of Sarah Palin as Republican candidate for Vice-President. In fact it was such a surprise that it seems Jim West confused her with Michael Palin!

From what I have read, including this BBC report and some others and this Wikipedia profile, Sarah Palin sounds like the kind of person I could support, if I could stomach Republican policies in general, especially on social issues like health care and on Iraq.

One piece of information which may be new: in 2002 Palin was defeated in the race for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska by Loren Leman who is the brother of Better Bibles blogger Wayne Leman.

It seems that Palin is a good Christian. At least this is how she is portrayed by the conservative World Magazine. This article says that she attends Wasilla Bible Church, which is non-denominational and evangelical. David Ker among others suggests that her denomination is Assemblies of God, but the evidence for this in fact suggests only that when she was a junior high student (so perhaps before the Bible Church opened in 1977 when she was 13) she attended Wasilla Assembly of God, and that when in the state capital Juneau she attends Juneau Christian Center which appears to be Assemblies of God. This all seems consistent with what was written at the Christianity Today politics blog. So, while she has not rejected her Pentecostal upbringing, her current preference is slightly different.

Palin is not at all the stereotypical conservative Christian woman. She has not stayed at home to manage her home and home school her five children (well spaced over 19 years), but has built her own career. Yet she chose to give birth to her Down’s Syndrome son earlier this year, rather than have an abortion because of his condition. She likes hunting and fishing, not typical feminine pursuits. Given her background in small town Alaska, where guns may be necessary protection from marauding moose and polar bears, I can almost forgive her membership of the National Rifle Association; but she will need to realise that policies which work in Wasilla (population under 6,000 when she was mayor, homicide rate zero in 2005) are not necessarily appropriate in Washington DC (population 588,000, homicide rate 169 in 2006 even after dropping by half since the early 1990s).

The interesting issue is why 72-year-old John McCain picked 44-year-old Palin as his running mate. The consensus seems to be that this was political expediency, picking a young and unusual outsider to balance an old Washington insider, to mirror the Obama-Biden ticket. That certainly makes a lot of sense for McCain, and explains his surprising choice. However, I think it is a good choice – or perhaps not, because it increases the chance of a Republican victory which could have all sorts of other serious repercussions for world peace, and for the health and welfare of poor Americans.

But anyone who votes for the McCain-Palin ticket has to reckon with the real chance that Palin will become President and Commander-in-Chief of US forces, a chance that is enhanced by McCain’s age. So they should not vote this way unless they think that Palin could be an appropriate President.

So this brings me back to the question which I first raised in comments on John Hobbins’ blog (note that there is already more than one page of comments on this post including at least three by me) and then again at Complegalitarian: is a woman Vice-President acceptable to conservative Christians, who are mostly at least in theory complementarian? If not, McCain might find himself losing a substantial number of votes just because he has a woman on his ticket.

Now some complementarians limit women to submissive roles only in the church and in the family. But others teach that women should never be in positions of authority over men even in the secular realm, and so would certainly not accept a woman as President or Commander-in-Chief. Among these is the well-known Bible teacher John Piper, who, in the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which he co-authored with Wayne Grudem, on pp.17-19 of this PDF file, wrote:

Mature femininity does not express itself in the same way toward every man. A mature woman who is married, for example, does not welcome the same kind of strength and leadership from other men that she welcomes from her husband. But she will affirm and receive and nurture the strength and leadership of men in some form in all her relationships with men. This is true even though she may find herself in roles that put some men in a subordinate role to her. Without passing any judgment on the appropriateness of any of these roles one thinks of the following possible instances:

  • Prime Minister and her counsellors and advisors.
  • Principal and the teachers in her school.
  • College teacher and her students.
  • Bus driver and her passengers.
  • Bookstore manager and her clerks and stock help.
  • Staff doctor and her interns.
  • Lawyer and her aides.
  • Judge and the court personnel.
  • Police officer and citizens in her precinct.
  • Legislator and her assistants.
  • T.V. newscaster and her editors.
  • Counsellor and her clients.

One or more of these roles might stretch appropriate expressions of femininity beyond the breaking point. …

But as I said earlier, there are roles that strain the personhood of man and woman too far to be appropriate, productive and healthy for the overall structure of home and society. Some roles would involve kinds of leadership and expectations of authority and forms of strength as to make it unfitting for a woman to fill the role. …

The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish long under personal, directive leadership of a female superior. J. I. Packer suggested that “a situation in which a female boss has a male secretary” puts strain on the humanity of both (see note 18). I think this would be true in other situations as well. Some of the more obvious ones would be in military combat settings if women were positioned so as to deploy and command men; or in professional baseball if a woman is made the umpire to call balls and strikes and frequently to settle heated disputes among men. And I would stress that this is not necessarily owing to male egotism, but to a natural and good penchant given by God.

It will be fascinating to see what John Piper and other complementarian leaders have to say about Palin as a candidate Vice-President. Interestingly Al Mohler, who doesn’t allow women to teach in his seminary, predicted Palin’s nomination back in May in an article about her Down’s Syndrome baby, but with no comment on whether she would be suitable. The only specific clearly negative comment I have seen is from Carmon Friedrich, called a “mover-and-shaker in patriarchy” by Molly Aley who quoted him:

Does God not ordain the means as well as the end? Why does she get a pass on the leadership issue and career mother problem just because she has the right views on abortion and helps make McCain more electable? If Christian complementarians/patriarchalists get behind this choice, then they undermine all their arguments for the creation order as the reason for opposing women in other areas of ministry. The Word of God calls the civil magistrate a “minister of God.”

Well, now we can look forward to more mothers telling their daughters, “You can be anything you want to be…even vice president!” How is this woman able to be her husband’s helpmeet and be a proper mother to her little ones with such huge responsibilities in her job?

On the other hand, the World Magazine article I mentioned earlier, despite the magazine’s generally complementarian position, comes close to endorsing Palin. And James Dobson is reportedly elated at the news. So how can these complementarians have this attitude? Perhaps it is that these people have a one track mind about politics: the only thing they care about is a candidate’s position on abortion. But then McCain who is not pro-life will not force through anti-abortion legislation for the sake of his VP, so anyone who votes for these two because she is pro-life is voting irresponsibly. Or perhaps John Hobbins is right on the facts, although wrong on the morality of them, when he writes the following astonishing endorsement of hypocrisy:

Consistency is the hobglobin of small minds. Ordinary people tend to get this instinctively. Eggheads like Piper and Grudem, maybe not.

It’s obvious that many people read P & G’s books without coming to agree with the notion that a woman by definition is unfit to be President of the United States, or drive bus, for goodness’ sake.

Well, let’s wait and see. If leaders like Piper come out against Palin, at least they are being consistent, and they may convince enough of their supporters to make a significant dent in McCain’s vote. If they don’t, they will be shown up as hypocrites. It will be interesting to watch!