Will God Judge the Nation and Silent Religious Leaders?

Dr. Leonard Lovett, PhD.

Does God intervene in the affairs of a nation? Does God care when leaders go amuck? Recall this is the God who told a great King that “the sword shall never depart from your house.” A mighty king of a nation was consigned to dwell with animals in the field.

Isaiah 44:25 [LBV]“I am the One who shows what liars all false prophets are, by causing something else to happen than the things they say.” (for the Church) “I make wise men give opposite advice to what they should, and make them unto fools.” (for the nation) (26v) But what my prophets say I do” (for the Church and nation)

Where are the religious leaders who supported by voice and votes the leaders in the Oval Office…but are morphed into silence during the worse political crisis in America since Watergate? What forbids God from declaring that “trouble will not depart from the Oval Office until lies and deceit depart.”  EM Bounds stated that “trouble is neither moral or immoral, it is amoral.” He also contended that trouble is “a part of God’s moral government.”

Could it be that when a nation gets out of line, God summons trouble as his special agent to go and remain until respect for the sovereignty of God returns. Biblical history is replete with nations that forgot God. The rebellious arrogant Babylonians of ancient biblical times are prime examples. No I am not a conservative fundamentalist biblical theologian who interprets scripture literally, but I do take it seriously. In fact I defy theological labels such as liberal or conservative. I am eclectic…which means I borrow from the best in all traditions with a grounding in Holiness-Pentecostal tradition. I do not view God as a kind of Simon Legree who will “Bless you when you are good and raps you on your knuckles when you are bad.”  However, I unequivocally believe with conviction that when a leader of a nation flaunts bad behavior in God’s face as the nation plummets in a moral free fall while so-called religious leaders remain silent… there are serious moral consequences. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” Psalm 33:12 implies that if a nation ignores God, there are major consequences.

Somewhere I read that “the highest form of treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” If the trust of a nation is betrayed by a fraudulent election, God will have the final say. The Black African-American slaves used to say in cryptic tones…”where there is smoke, there is fire somewhere.”

 

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,

Moves on; nor all they Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it    

Omar Khayyam

Follow me at The Agora –www.theagora.net  (look for marketplace of ideas) “where truth is spoken and never compromised.”

Leonard Lovett, Ph.D., public theologian-ethicist, COGIC ecumenical officer, emeritus

Is Proprietary Affordable Health Care the New Genocide?

    Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

Prior to 1973 profiteering within the Health Care industry was illegal, a fact fairly known and dealt with in the arena of institutionalized public health. The 1973 Health Maintenance Organization Act under the administration of Richard Nixon changed the playing field. Many older physicians placed the care of their patients first until political and economic decision-making changed the medical landscape. New physicians graduate from medical school facing loans and the prospect of financing equipment and staff just to open a practice at an astronomical cost. Where is the middle ground?  As a trained ethicist I have spent a large segment of my life thinking about “what is…in light of what ought to be” which is the definition and defining task of an ethicist. The immorality of greed in the healthcare system will not only put at risk the lives of many vulnerable citizens of this land but will also result in the demise of many. Can you imagine how many persons will die because they cannot afford a MRI, CT Scan or thorough physical exam to pinpoint life-threatening diseases? This brief statement borders the realm of medical ethics.

Is affordable Health Care for profit the foundation for a new genocide in a nation that can afford to do better? If the British can take care of their populace through socialized medicine, so can we. My theological mentor, the late Bishop OT Jones, Jr., who was a Pentecostal Christian existentialist, once told me “that if there is a major crisis in a church, in most instances it can be traced back to leadership.” I have never forgotten that delicate wisdom from the past. The same holds true for a nation in crisis. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was right when he remarked, “the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small… though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” Is it immoral to earn a reasonable salary? Of course not. Is it immoral to live in an upscale neighborhood?  Of course not. Is it immoral to formulate a marriage between major Health Care providers and the insurance industry for proprietary reasons so that the most vulnerable of the land will die prematurely because of the price tag on health care? With governmental involvement, it is not only immoral, it is irresponsibly sinful and reprehensible.

The revamping of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) under a new name (Trump Care) is merely switching labels on the same reality. The late William Temple once remarked that the modern world reminded him of a department store where someone crept in overnight and switched all the labels. They placed cheap tags on expensive items, and expensive tags on cheap items. In our volatile political environment anyone can die, and especially our poor and less vulnerable without simple health coverage in a nation that boast of being the greatest in the world. My warning and admonition is to be cautious, this may be the foundation and makings of a new form of genocide.

Richard Exley, stated in his book, The Peril of Power: “if money is your motive for ministry, you are already corrupt even if you never steal one dime.” The same rationale transposed to the Health care industry achieves the same negative outcome. Where are the prophetic voices of mega-ministry leaders ? Who will speak on behalf of the poor and oppressed since God “hangs out” with them? Unfortunately, what we call “prophetic” has come to mean “pathetic.” It is no wonder that Amaziah complained of Amos the prophet in Amos 7: 10 that “the land cannot bear to hear his words.”

Many older physicians believed that they had an obligation to take care of patients and that the primary issue was not how am I going to get paid? Such a person was David Molina a California physician who started his health insurance company focusing on quality care for poor and disabled patients on Medicaid.  By attracting fewer doctors to Molina Healthcare network he was able to earn a modest profit during the first couple years of Obamacare.  It is known by Industry analysts that several big firms like Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth, et.al. lost money initially under Obamacare. They sustained losses because they did not focus on a simple reality, i.e. it is much easier to work down from a higher-cost posture than it is to work down from a higher-cost position according to Josh Weisbrod, a health care consultant with Bain and Company. Because of the competitive nature of the insurance industry, more business regulations are needed to insure a level playing field.

However, what is common practice in the medical arena is that insurers boldly make it clear on an insurance application that they would rather insure healthy clients rather than those with pre-existing conditions. Insurers and politicians continually struggle with making sure people have basic insurance coverage and figuring out who should pay. In 1973 when the Health  Maintenance  Organization Act A73 was introduced to Congress by surrogates of President Richard Nixon, insurers were told to merely treat the symptoms and not the cause because it was less expensive. Mandated clauses encouraged providers to prolong illnesses because there is no money to be made in curing the sick. * Nixon was rewarding his campaign financier, Edgar Kaiser CEO of Kaiser Permanente, all with government subsidies. This law enacted by Congress made it possible for medical insurance agencies, hospitals, clinics and physicians to begin functioning as for-profit business entities instead of the service organizations they were intended to be. Have you ever wondered about the proliferation of referrals, tests and prescriptions from a primary physicians to specialists and the plethora of over-treatment schemes for a common illness.

From 2013 to 2015 the top five insurers of the Health Care industry doled out nearly $30 billion in stock buy backs and dividends. Most of us will not forget the Martin Shkreli,a former hedge fund manager with Turing Pharmaceutical fraud case where a much needed 62 year old drug Daraprin that increased from $13.50 a tablet to $750 overnight.** Greed caused the Industry to enact a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced “specialty drugs.” During testimony before a Congressional hearing on the drug, Martin laughed and displayed an arrogance that earned him jail time.

Disease means dis-ease. There are some diseases that medicine cannot cure. They are diseases of the human spirit. Avarice is excessive or insatiable desire for gain, money and possessions…it is old fashion greed…It was listed as one of the “seven deadly sins” during the Middle Ages. I find it rather ironic that upon graduation physicians are required to recite the Hippocratic Oath as a symbolic entre into the arena of medicine. A substantive embrace of this oath is needed to offset the fangs of avarice in our culture. Sin is a misuse of one’s freedom. The church is not exempt from the charge of avarice.

“Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play God.” ***

During the mid-eighties I served as a Board Member for six years with Watts Health Foundation United Health Care, the largest HMO West of the Mississippi whose primary demographic was low income clients in Watts an adjacent community of Los Angeles. Dr. Clyde Oden was the consummate and most capable CEO of the Non-Profit aspect of the operation that employed a fee-for-service modality. United Health Care was the proprietary component of the operation. We had multiple retreats and the opportunity to lobby Congress on behalf of a vulnerable demographic.

During the mid 2000 I was recommended by Bishop Gerald Glenn, New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield County, to serve as a member of the Virginia Board of Medicine. Governor Mark Warner (currently member of the Senate Intelligence Committee) appointed me the last week of the year.  During my six years of service I was exposed to the worse kinds of abuse of the system by people who wanted to manipulate it for the purpose of excessive greed. The optics of the Oval Office under the leadership of 45 and his all white crew is focused on avarice for his friends and family. Dr. Ben Carson a retired brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon should come out of the basement and make the photograph with the Oval Office team, since he is over HUD. Unless he is too busy perusing dated books on poverty which was then defined as “a state of mind”(Wirth). Poverty as “lack of fate control” (Claerbaut) would be an improvement. These old “blame the victim” definitions exclude poverty as “lack of access and opportunity” for people born in ridiculous and incorrigible circumstances.

___________________________________________________________________

*https//thecriticalaye.com/2011/08/31 skyrocketing-health-cost-thanks-president-Nixon/

https://nytimes.com/2017/01/30/health/drugmakers-lawsuit-insulin-drugs.html

** see Andrew Pollack, Big Price Increase for Tuberculosis Drug Is Rescinded, NY Times 9/21/2015

*** Revised Hippocratic Oath in 1964 by Louis Lasagna. Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University

Dr. Leonard Lovett, Chief Editor, theologian-ethicist, author, ecumenical officer, emeritus, COGIC

WHEN GOD WALKS OUT

                       ichabod2   Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

November 2016

 

I Samuel 3: 21  “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh…for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” The text implies that God had been away.

Moffatt translates this verse to read: “Once more the Eternal was to be seen at Shiloh.”

The very context of this passage pre-supposes that there had been gray days through which God had not been seen. The reality is that God was never absent. He was not seen because of the idols that blinded people from seeing the visible and invisible God. In our humanity we create so much stuff such as religiosity and symbolic inauthentic worship that God becomes to us as if He were distant or as if He were dead. The people said to Aaron, “up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses….we know not what is become of him.” When Moses died, God withdrew because all they could see was in the personality of their great leader. Three centuries later, God returned. With the arrival of Samuel, the Lord “appeared again at Shiloh.”

  I see a parallel for COGIC. I am opposed to this divisive, Godless political system of campaigning, borrowed from other denominations that has prevented us from experiencing the fellowship with each other and the fullness of the Holy Ghost. Will the Lord appear again in COGIC?  Our feigned worship consisting of fake “praise breaks” and multiple fads will not bring God back. You can have so many meetings that you can meet yourself coming from meetings, but that will not bring God back. In fact meetings have become the perfect place to “avoid God.” Our meetings have become “fund raising and social gatherings” with little or no room to celebrate the God who created us. The text supports the premise that God walked out for three centuries after the death of Moses and gave the people what they asked for until they came to understand who they really needed.

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A CHALLENGE TO THE NATION

Dr. Leonard Lovett

Grief_edited-1(Part 1 written early Thursday)

  I had decided to remain silent and ride this one out. The fire in my heart like Jeremiah began to burn. The wanton murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota has spurred righteous indignation. The weak insipid response of the President was disappointing to say the least. His speech writers really got it wrong this time. To say this is not about race but an American problem is to diminish what most African-Americans experience on a day-to-day basis as being simply routine. Mr. President I respectfully ask how can you say in one breath this is not racial and proceed to give a litany of racial disparities that involved African-Americans and end with the tired phrase “all life matters ?” In context there is a disconnect between what you are saying and Black life “that really matters.” You proceeded to address the bias in the minds of Police Officers and on and on with useless tired rhetoric that failed to deal with a systemic problem, namely, institutionalized racism at its best. I am not blaming, but rather challenging you as leader to assist us in finding a way out of this morass

  What prevents you during the end of your second term from issuing a Moratorium on the killing and decimation of Black lives by racist bad cops? No all cops are not bad. There are many exceptions to the ones who have participated in the killing of Black men like animals within the last five (5) years. Six decades ago I marched against segregation so we could live in a nation without fear. Today when a cop blue lights you, most of us are almost gripped by fear of the unknown. A personal friend of mine told me that a cop stopped his son who was licensed to carry a weapon. He told the cop that he had a weapon. The cop told him to retrieve the weapon. He refused and told the cop where it was. His refusal saved his life. The cop in a laughing manner told him that had he reached for the weapon it would have been his life. That kind of behavior is all too often frequent and must be reported and never tolerated.

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When Justice Means …”Just Us”

Leonard Lovett, Ph.d

“Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable” are poignant words spoken by the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America. After watching this blatant miscarriage of justice displayed before the world in Ferguson and New York, my modicum of faith in the criminal justice system has been crushed. After two parallel federal investigations are concluded, my faith in the American system of jurisprudence is reeling. Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and now Eric Garnes is reprehensible in a nation that is supposed to be a template to the world what a democratic experiment is supposed to look like. Accused officer Darren Wilson could easily win a Grammy for his well coached testimony regarding the final confrontation with the deceased victim, Mike Brown. He had enough time (three 3 months) to rehearse this speech. The irregular presentation of the case by the prosecutor with a jury of (12) twelve consisting of nine whites and three blacks which was not reflective of the immediate community is troubling. There is a divide among attorneys on the way the case was litigated that reflected racial bias. I will not get into the legalities of the process, I leave that to Mark O’Mara (prosecutor for the Trayvon Martin case and now an analyst for CNN on legal issues regarding deadly force by law enforcement officers). Do you see how the system works? O’Mara has been rewarded for litigating a case that was decided before the trial began by the social media and has become a temporary expert on the legal process. In the social chaos of the moment across the nation with rioting in the street, there exists an element of hope. Most of the demonstrators around the nation are not people of color and are youthful. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”…

(Click on this link to read the complete article)

Can Nepotism Destroy A Ministry?

                                                                       Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

     Nep-o-tism =  favoritism and patronage based on family relationship. Proverbs 15:27 “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house…” There appears to be a correlation between greed and nepotism in ministry. When independent  ministries are founded by a single person and their families, there is a tendency to think of the ministry in individualistic  rather than communal terms.  During the early stages of such ministries the musicians, teachers and staff consists of family. As the ministry expands, family members are replaced at the base and move upward toward the seat of power which is the pastoral office. A common trend is to place one’s siblings near the top in order to preserve family lineage.

It is crucial to understand the dynamics and in some instances justifiable reason this is done. In many instances control is the primary motivation for keeping family at the center and the top of the ministry. To be fair it is not wisdom to hold one’s siblings back who too are qualified to lead. On the other hand it is unfair to advance one’s siblings based on kinship and not qualification. Too often it is the latter notion that prevails. When ministry is viewed as personal property rather than the fruit of spiritual labor, it is driven by greed which is a form of idolatry. Once the ministry is fueled and motivated by greed, there are no boundaries or checkpoints sufficient to contain whatever takes place.

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  Dr. Leonard Lovett, Ecumenical Officer of the Church of God in Christ