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Fifteen year ago, Bolivia elected their first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales belongs to the MAS party (Movimiento a Socialismo/Move toward Socialism). Over the past years, he’s used Bolivia’s natural resources (oil, metals, rare metals, etc) to finance his socialist policies. This made him very popular with the extremely poor, who received some benefits from his movement. Since then, however, he’s promoted corrupt people and they have squandered a lot of money on themselves and to remain in power.
China is deeply involved in the country. It maintains and runs all the resource extraction, enriching themselves and Evo Morales, with pennies going to the poor in Bolivia. This raping of the nation includes massive wildfires in the Amazon jungles in Bolivia. destroying 3 million acres of forest, which Morales started to clear land for farming and mining, and then neglected to seriously fight the fires.
He has attempted on many occasions to undermine basic rights of free speech and protest. Recently, he has arrested many people that oppose him.
According to the Bolivian constitution, a person could only be president for two consecutive terms. Morales set up a secondary court that judged this portion of the constitution to be unconstitutional, allowing him to run a third and (now) fourth terms.
Under the constitution, a person must win by at least 10 percent of the vote, otherwise there is a runoff between the two top contenders.
This past Sunday, Oct 20, 2019, was their election. With 83 percent of the vote electronically counted, Evo Morales was leading Carlos Mesa by less than 10 percent. This would have required a run off in December. Then, suddenly, the count stopped. For almost a day, there was no news on the count. When information finally began to come out, several differing stories came out to explain what happened. Then, the announcement that the country of 10 million suddenly had 12 million people, of which there were hundreds of thousands more voters, who just happened to vote for Evo Morales. The “official” tally gave him an 11 percent lead, and he declared himself president for a fourth term.
I have lots of friends in Bolivia, having served my mission there 40 years ago. Not a single one of them voted for Morales, and have for months predicted he would cheat if necessary to remain in office.
As it is, his actions are on par with the dictators of Venezuela. It is likely that Bolivia will be bankrupt and destroyed within the next few years under continued socialism.
The brave people of Bolivia are protesting in many cities, trying to oust the dictator and his goons. My friends are asking for our prayers. They do not want to become another Venezuela. They want to be free, with honest leaders and elections.
Sadly, most American news is focused on the battle between President Trump and the Democrats. Tragedies throughout the world are basically ignored because of the Beltway Sideshow made Main Attraction. Meanwhile, much of South and Central America are in turmoil.
Will you join me in prayers, and this coming Fast Sunday to fast for those in Bolivia and other nations under the harsh hand of socialist, fascist, and other evil dictators, so that they may enjoy the personal freedoms, peace and liberty they seek and desire?
New York Times articlehttps://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/world/americas/boliva-election-protests.html
Washington Post article https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/unrest-erupts-in-bolivia-as-opponents-accuse-evo-morales-of-trying-to-steal-election/2019/10/22/214d85f2-f4d4-11e9-b2d2-1f37c9d82dbb_story.html’
Book Review: Gathered in One – How the Bookof Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament, by Bradley J. Kramer
Ever since the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jews have been a hiss and a by-word of the nations.With the temple destroyed and Jews scattered throughout the Empire, there was not much hope for them to recover. In hopes of completely eliminating the Jews from memory, the Romans eventually renamed the city and repopulated it with other peoples.
Jews faced pogroms in Russia and Poland. We all remember the look on Tevye’s face (played by Topol) in Fiddler on the Roof, as his oldest daughter’s marriage feast is ransacked by Russian soldiers, or when they were forced to leave their village, Anatevka. In reality, this forced pilgrimage occurred in hundreds of villages throughout Russia.
The Spanish Inquisition tortured Jews into converting into Christianity, dying, or fleeing into yet another exile. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews, who were treated as chattel and marched into gas chambers by the millions. To this very day, anti-semitism threatens Jews throughout much of the world.
This anti-semitism comes to us, in part, from the New Testament. In his book, “Gathered in One,” Bradley J. Kramer discusses how the New Testament, and especially the Gospels and Acts put full blame on the Jews for the death of Jesus. He doesn’t stop there. He then explains how the Book of Mormon counters that anti-semitism, not by trying to smooth it over, but by addressing it directly.
“Gathered in One” is about 150 pages long, and contains the following chapters:
“The Book of Mormon is unique. Simply as literature, it stands alone.”
So begins the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kramer shows us one important way in which it is such a valued volume. The first chapters discuss the New Testament’s hatred towards Jews, and in a very convincing manner. Kramer quotes various scholars on how they attempt to manage the more difficult passages: from trying to take the Bible as a whole, to totally dismissing those verses and stories as later additions to the story.
For Kramer, the Book of Mormon takes a different approach. It engages anti-semitism “at its New Testament source.” Nowhere does the Book of Mormon explicitly discuss anti-semitism, but throughout its teachings and stories, it shows a love for the scriptures (Brass Plates), the Law of Moses, and the dispersed of Israel.
While the Book of Mormon never names any specific Jewish holiday, Kramer shows from inferences inside the tome how each major holy day (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) was instituted by Lehi and the Nephites. Interestingly, he also engages the concept of the Sabbath, explaining that the Jubilee was a year long Sabbath, where even the land rested. This was a time when slaves were freed, debts forgiven, and the people focused on and rejoiced in their God. Then, from the Book of Mormon, he noted that during the period of 4 Nephi, the Nephites enjoyed a “centuries long” Sabbath. This expanded the idea of the holy Sabbath, extending it longer than the Bible does, in anticipation for the millennial Sabbath when the Savior comes again.
Where Paul left the Jews for the Gentiles and the known world, Nephites dealt with “near-Gentiles” or Lamanites. Kramer shows that as Paul and his companions had a big vision that turned them from destroying the Church to being its greatest missionaries, so the Book of Mormon has a similar story. Alma, Ammon and his brethren were also changed through an angelic vision. After preaching among the Nephites to repair their wrong-doings, they went out to the Lamanites to bring them from their pagan beliefs back to Christ. Just as Paul was persecuted, yet had great success, so Ammon and his brethren struggled but gained many converts.
Kramer uses many such analogies to show how the Book of Mormon focuses on bringing people to Christ, that they are not cast off forever. In fact, the Book of Mormon frequently speaks of the return of the Jews, and Kramer carefully covers this area. It isn’t the Gentile Christians who will bring them back (though they will carry them on their shoulders), but the Lord who will prepare them.
The Book of Mormon IS unique. It has the fullness of the gospel. It deftly handles many modern issues of faith within its pages. Bradley J. Kramer shows us another key way in which the book deals with such an important issue. Our modern world has often revolved around hating Jews, frequently based upon their reading of the New Testament. The Book of Mormon teaches us to love the Jews and thank them for providing us the Bible in the first place. Kramer’s book helps us to see the many facets of that respect found within the Book of Mormon.
Greg Kofford Books: https://gregkofford.com/products/gathered-in-one