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From the Pastor's Desk

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Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!

"Call me Ishmael."

This, the opening sentence of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” is said to be among world literature's most famous openings. Moby Dick includes not only an Ishmael, but also an Ahab, a Jeroboam, a church, a high pulpit accessed via a red rope ladder, and biblical symbolism aplenty. But back to Ishmael.

Ishmael of the Bible was the first son of Abraham by the Egyptian handmaid of Abraham’s wife, Hagar (which today would have ruined Abe’s political career, but things were different a few thousand years ago). God tells us in Genesis 16:12 that Ishmael “…will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites (Hagarenes: Arabians or Muslims) and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the patriarch and his mother Hagar are buried next to the Kaaba in Mecca, under the area demarcated by the semi-circular Hijr Ismail wall.

Ishmael and Isaac are fighting to the death today, even though they didn’t back then. Here are some excerpts from the New York Times: “The current conflict did not escalate into something approaching war until shortly after 6 p.m. last Monday. That’s when Hamas launched missile attacks on Jerusalem’s civilians. Hamas, which is backed by Iran, has now fired at least 3,350 missiles toward Israel. Many Israelis ask their critics: What would you do if a terrorist group (which Hamas is, according to the U.S. and European Union) committed to the elimination of your country fired missiles at it day after day, inducing widespread terror? Israel insists that it tries to minimize Palestinian civilian deaths, going so far as announcing some bombings in advance, even though Hamas fighters can then escape. But Israel says that Hamas deliberately stores missiles near civilians, knowing that the resulting casualties help it win global sympathy. That tactic is consistent with decades of Palestinian political dysfunction. When the United Nations proposed a two-state solution in the 1940s, Arabs rejected it. When Arab countries controlled Palestinian territories in the 1950s and ’60s, they could have created a nation and did not. When Israel and President Bill Clinton offered a two-state peace deal two decades ago, the Palestinians said no.”

Try to remember that just a few months ago B.B. (“Before Biden”) at least four countries of that region were ready to sign peace treaties with Israel. It doesn’t seem like that will happen now. I am no historical expert, but I do recognize the name Gaza, as in the “Gaza Strip” where the 3,350 missiles have been launched headed for Israel, as being the land of the Philistines. The New York Posts adds this American political observation “Members of the progressive ‘Squad’ are coming out to accuse Israel of ‘terrorism’ and calling for a shift in US policy toward the Jewish state..." The original four-women Squad referred to consists of these four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. There is definitely Moslem leaning within, which might explain why they ironically deem Israel “terrorists.” Geographically, Israel has a very small portion of the Moslem Mideast, and numerically the same is true. And yet, Hamas, Iran, and others want Isaac dead, decimated, and disappeared. And that seems to include at least two Moslem female leaders of the United States of America.

Call them Ishmael!

Love to all,


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