What Is Going on Over at Zion’s Fire Magazine?

https://www.zionshope.org/magazine

You’ve gotta love that the coronavirus is bringing out every permutation of response in people, as if opinions are not only called for but necessary.

And for a time I was incredibly upset that my grandparents, without asking me, subscribed to a magazine in my name. Zion’s Fire publishes writing from what appears to be mostly a Zionist named David Rosenthal on the end times constantly among us.

But now, when a new issue rests curled up snugly in my mailbox, ready to infect a reader at any moment with the inevitable return of Jesus Henry Christ, I gleefully investigate the barbed writing within.

Who would have thought that this moment would have been the perfect moment to catch up on all that end-of-times dialogue? Certainly no one reporting for Zion’s Fire had predicted the end…quite like this. I can assure you, however, that they have been hitting the presses hard, though the four horsemen trying to get the issues to me has been regrettably slow. It’s September 13th and this is supposed to be the May-June edition. The writing could not be more prescient (it’s the end of the world!)…they say…

But getting the printed word to me.

That’s another matter.

A Taste of Capitalist Vitriol

And oh ho my goodness we have some excellent words to parse out today folks.

As I’ve stated before, most of the magazine is run by David Rosenthal, who is often writing 60 to 80% of the magazine, which is a hefty 23 pages, and filled with all kinds of advertisements for ministry letters and updates, open bible studio electives with “Zion’s Hope” teachers, a “Geoprophecy report” with our illustrious leader, not to mention a “Zion’s Fire Video Feature” which I shudder to imagine. As of right now, a handsome Rosenthal smiles back at me…the preacher we all wanted but didn’t deserve. To imagine that he has aged one decade, possibly two, (not three!) since that picture was taken, is a certainty I want to continue on in ignorance of.

Today’s article we’ll be looking at is a mouthful – “Humanism vs. God: The Dangerous Rise of Scientific Socialism in America.” I could write volumes just on the title alone. Who knew that these two concepts were diametrically opposed? Not Marilynne Robinson, my hero and great American mother? Maybe more like Steven Pinker, who has written about the Enlightenment and humanity’s progress since its onset some 250 to 400 years ago. And though I suppose Pinker wrote more to attack the departments of universities who seem allergic to the idea of progress, one could carry the thesis over as an anti-religious sentiment. Out of the older men I tend to follow, Pinker seems lowest on the rung of atheists on the prowl.

Since you are likely not a subscriber, I will have to do my best from here on out to describe just what is going on around the article. Don’t worry, I will have some fleshy bits in the writing of the article itself that I plan to flog with a cat o’ nine tails.

On the left-hand side of the page there is a picture of a statue of Marx and Engels. Here is the caption underneath captured verbatim:

“Statue in Germany of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, avowed communists.

Historians estimate between the years 1917 and 2017, these oppressive regimes were responsible for the deaths of 70,000,000 and 110,000,000 [million] people.

Marx believed science determines societal progression. As an avowed atheist, he famously stated…

‘It [religion] is the opiate of the masses.'”

The thesis of the article is murky at best. Rosenthal begins by remarking on the instability of the United States in wake of the George Floyd protests, claiming, “many of these protests quickly turned violent – with rioters demanding our police be defunded.”

Compared to the exactitude of the research on the numbers killed by KARL MARX and FRIEDRICH ENGELS themselves by their bare hands, the actual numbers of protesters who turned violent is woefully ambiguous. Hopefully his perusal of the Washington Post will help straighten that matter out.

He continues:

“Many of the arsonists, looters, and thuggish mobs that have swarmed our city streets are simply pawns in an orchestrated plan to foment class warfare and civil disorder to achieve these purposes.”

The orchestrated plan, by the way, involve those who “seek to tear down our institutions, traditions, faith, and families.”

Keep that little tidbit in mind because Rosenthal certainly does not later in his own article.

So far we have simply a contextual opening of the latest news reports. It’s a typical hourglass shape opening in writing style: you start with something broad and slowly over time you narrow down on what you hope to achieve. Now granted, the title of the article features two behemoth topics, so the term “narrowing down” is going to get pretty hairy.

Let me just flip this to page two.

“Calls to fundamentally ‘transform’ and ‘re-imagine’ America are often voiced by the leaders of these radical movements, along with progressive politicans and the mainstream media. However, these carefully crafted terms are simply code words in their propaganda playbook for destroying American free-market capitalism and re-casting the United States in their Marxist, godless ideology.”

Then he starts talking about Marxism.

We should probably break this down quickly before moving on, because the meat of this is still ahead. First, who are these people Rosenthal mentions in this “Us versus Them” diatribe? I doubt they could be pointed out, and then discovered as having a larger plan. Second, what exactly is in this propaganda playbook? Surely capitalist consumer advertisement has a playbook of its own in convincing us to buy sugary cereal and iPads for our children growing fat and convincing middle school girls to kill themselves due to cyberbullying on social media. Third, Rosenthal does not seem to have a dedicated mind on the throes of American history, in which the good citizens of our country, in order to have sustainable families at all, have had to fight against capitalism in order to have cleaner, safer, better paying working conditions. They have had to fight for the 40 hour work week, as well as keep their children from losing their fingers in textile factories. Women have had to fight for better fire safety in their factories only because hundreds died as a result of little care or attention given to these “families” that Rosenthal wants us to remember. This was just a century ago.

The Marxism he so actively derides is probably one he has not read. The class warfare he is so afraid of is something that Karl Marx wrote extensively about. Given the further research by Thomas Piketty of inequality in income and wealth in the United States, is it any wonder that the people of the United States feel desperate, working two or three jobs in a gig economy which offers little safety and health insurance? In a time of a global pandemic, these part time jobs are the ones that are directly in the face of a disease more than others. What was the expectation here, that a nation of literate and politically involved citizens would let the promise of America go only to Mark Zuckerberg’s children, tucked away in some Silicon Valley fortress patrolled by armed guards?

Okay, we have to move on, because the economic arguments pale in comparison to the unscientific rhetoric here, which is just too delicious to ignore.

I [David Rosenthal] Get to Say What Institutions You Should Ignore

Zion's Hope

“Scientific socialism is rising in America and around the world. It is a humanistic philosophy in which unelected technocrats – so-called experts – determine global priorities and enforce a ‘science based code of conduct.’ In this form of governance, the importance of the individual is diminished, ‘equality’ and the greater good of the collective society is emphasized, and the environmental health of the planet is of supreme importance.”

My goodness David. Where to begin?

Rosenthal’s idea of a code of conduct that is science based sounds pretty good right about now. In the same way as the ambiguous values given over to the riots in the United States, we have no idea just how much the word “diminished” is when we discuss the individual. Keep in mind that many countries offer varying degrees of individuality. Scandinavian countries offer a social welfare state, but they also allow people to…uh…drink and smoke and write excellent crime novels. It is not as if these places lose out on the ability to marry or not, get divorced, attend church or otherwise.

Instead we have the increasingly draconian state of poor education and outcomes in the United States. It is so drastic that we cannot even live as long as our predecessors. In what will likely be exaggerated by the coronavirus pandemic, life expectancy in the United States has declined. If we are not killing ourselves literally, or addicted to painkillers to alleviate the stress, we are working ourselves to death, with cortisol-related stress levels linked to heart disease, our number one killer.

Not to mention that the wildfires in the West continue to remind us of a climate crisis that is only getting worse. The problems are more detailed and pernicious than we might think. Although we are developing renewable power sources from wind and sun at an increasing rate, the appearance of a “duck graph” in the storage and utilization of this renewable energy proves we have just as much an infrastructure problem of providing this energy to consumers. Fossil fuel companies continue to receive government benefits to a much higher degree than renewable energy companies, despite the repeated warnings by the IPCC on rising temperatures precipitated, to a large extent, by us…

I suppose the environmental health of the planet would be of supreme importance if you did not want to precipitate the end of the world quite like Rosenthal does in his dreams at night.

In each article, David eventually goes full on David Rosenthal: a 100% David that you would not want necessarily to take to socially distant cocktail parties unless you knew without a doubt that all the phones were placed in the foyer beforehand. Here he is, and I will quote it at length. You may want to put on your seat belt…

“The oft-repeated admonition voiced by numerous health experts and politicians over the past six months has been: ‘We must follow the science.’ But it seems as though the science keeps changing and the goalposts continue to be moved. Perhaps the question Americans should really be asking is: ‘Who is actually controlling the release of the health data and statistics leaders have been relying upon to determine the appropriate ‘scientific’ responding to the pandemic?

Former President Obama (who incidentally campaigned in 2008 on the promise of ‘fundamentally transforming America’) recently weighed in with his own thoughts of what our national coronavirus response should be: ‘Stay calm,” he advised, ‘listen to the experts, and follow the science.’ Consider his words carefully.

They stem from a worldview that embraces Marxist/Socialist philosophy and envisions a planet run by a bureaucracy of technocrats.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has revealed a cabal of corporate behemoths working in league with the U.S. government in the fields of pharmaceuticals and technology. They, along with various other industries, stand to reap a financial windfall if they can successfully instill within the public psyche the necessity to ‘do our part’ to defeat the pandemic through a collectivist/socialist response. Contact tracing is here. Mandatory testing is already occurring in other parts of the world. Only ‘herd immunity’ or ‘the discovery of a vaccine can stop the spread.’ In other words, we are being told we’re facing a global problem that can only be solved with a scientific global response.

Okay.

Let’s go through this as methodically as we can, top to bottom.

The coronavirus is a novel virus. It’s new. Once Galileo used a telescope to do much needed research on the stars, or Copernicus before him, it is not as if we were done with the idea of space. It is not as if the universe was a case, open and closed, of it being…well…far away from us.

The idea that the goal posts keep changing is sort of the very idea of science. Surely many diseases would not have been cured had we stopped with Polio, or smallpox. I suppose since we now understand what cancer is, then we should have no business in trying to treat it.

Can good science be done without a Marxist philosophy behind it? Yes, obviously. It’s being done right now. To continue to conflate these two together is so McCarthyist I now sort of wonder just how old David Rosenthal actually is behind that handsome smile…

Let’s suppose we didn’t follow the science. Let’s suppose instead we followed…something else. What exactly would we follow instead? All Rosenthal offers as a response is,

“May we, who have been set free from the bondage of sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, remain unified as we embrace the essential truths enshrined within our Pledge of Allegiance:

I spent an inordinate and unsuccessful amount of time reading the gospels (including some of the gnostic ones…tee hee), and I’m having a very hard time finding Jesus Christ’s stance on germ theory.

In fact I seem to remember him ordering Thomas to touch his filthy yet hol(e)y hands…pun intended.

And what on Earth is the Pledge of Allegiance going to suggest about the spread of disease?

Science is the only way to understand the coronavirus pandemic. Unless you want to bring in the New Criticism and start to talk about symbols and metaphors, which are only a sort of semantic slide, and do not get us any closer to understanding what this disease does to our bodies, Rosenthal simply wants us to turn away from this “cabal” without any rational alternative. I suppose that is the whole point of this article, that Humanism is such a danger that we must use our weapons of irrationality to combat…science.

The United States Government is, on the one hand, a set of institutions that Rosenthal expects us to uphold and stop the “thugs” from jeopardizing, but on the other hand he seems to have no problem adjudicating his own wrath against it by suggesting that there is some shady shit going on with pharmaceutical companies tying in with government elites.

The recent development of the CDC changing the reports of coronavirus cases would in fact be the opposite of what Rosenthal is suggesting.

Which one is it guys? Is it a group of people labeling every death one of coronavirus, or is it a downplaying of the virus in order to soothe the public’s ruffled feathers?

For Rosenthal to be so positive towards Donald Trump, his question about the data collected by health experts for national leadership is answered by…well…Donald Trump.

But the true kicker is that last sentence, where Rosenthal thinks that a global problem is best solved by a global response, and that somehow the style of writing would indicate that it is a problem. Later he calls this “a spiritual war between God and Satan” which makes me blush just reading it out loud, but here I will say, “Isn’t this global response totally necessary?”

When President Obama sent scientists to Africa in light of the spreading Ebola crisis, that too could have been a global one were we not lucky in the methods of spread of the virus itself. People only spread the disease when they are fully symptomatic, close to death, and lying supine on the ground.

COVID-19 is a situation where a not as dangerous disease is actually more so because of how transmissible it is early on, in pre-symptomatic or, as we found out the hard way, asymptomatic cases.

Once the disease crossed borders, does this not, by definition, become a global scientific phenomenon?

What is the Take Away?

I’m sort of confused just what exactly Rosenthal wants from these critiques. Should we not be developing vaccines, or believing in the science?

“In no sense,” Rosenthal continues, “am I denying the benefits of scientific discovery. Nor am I advocating selfish disregard of others or calling for civil disobedience. As Christians, we are to love our neighbor and respect those in authority. However, we are also called to speak the truth in love, seek godly wisdom, and exercise discernment.”

Rosenthal cherry picks his own criticisms much like the religious do. The morality play here is to “speak truth,” which only the best science does, and better than the religious texts we were given. What is the Old Testament going to do about questions of the law? Are we really going to chop off the hands of a woman when she decides to fight alongside her husband as Deuteronomy says we should do?

Writers like Rosenthal ferry down the middle of the river, offering little more than hot air. Unfortunately, these ambiguous writings may seem innocent coming from the writer, but they are dangerous as hell to the reader, who is far more willing to take these phrases and stick them onto whatever piece of memory in their hippocampus they feel most pissed off about today. What is a “cabal” ends up being forced to wear a mask at their favorite grocery store. What is a “respect for authority” ends up being reverence for a ragtag gang of police officers who cause physical violence to nonviolent protesters, while they look on meekly when responding to looters.

I hope to God that most people have a better literary diet to current events than David Rosenthal.

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