The Blessing in Associations

Sep 10, 2023

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You can do good work on your own, but for great work, you need a team. Continuing the conversation on the importance and impact of associations. Some Sunday thoughts.

Timestamps, Links, & Resources

0:00- Intro

0:34- Associations: Mark Andrew Ritchie, William Lane Craig, and the Taliban

I met Mark after I reviewed his book, Spirit of the Rainforest He then sent me another one of his books, My Trading Bible, to review.

In a class with William Lane Craig on his book, On Guard, I gave WLC a copy of Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser for one of his research projects, and My Trading Bible for his wife, Jan.

Unseen Realm is Michael Heiser’s more academic work on the Divine Council. Supernatural is the more popular level version. I’ve given Supernatural to a number of people (it’s one of my friend’s favorite books) and it is in my top five books to give new Christians.




10:05- The Blessing of Associations

I mention a pastor that used to give the benediction at my church. Pastor Quanidos McGown now leads The Ark Church in Dayton, Texas.

Christy Luis Dostoevsky in Space






23:31- Building strong community

25:05- When God gave me a dream

30:02- When a dream seems too be, maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd

32:30- Afghanistan News

@skotrds More aid workers arrested in Afghanistan. Reasons unknown.
==== Local source tells me that the Taliban arrested two staff members (including a foreigner) of the International Assistance Mission, in Ghor province. The motive behind their arrest remains unknown. #Afghanistan

@EjazMalikzada “Despite severe restrictions & punishments, Afghanistan’s musical artists are emerging as some of the fiercest resisters against the Taliban.”

Sonic Narratives of Resistance & Cultural Memory in Afghanistan – research by @mebtikar & Dr @MejganMassoumi

September 4, 2023: Sonic Narratives of Resistance and Cultural Memory in Afghanistan
Despite severe restrictions and punishments, Afghanistan’s musical artists are emerging as some of the fiercest resisters against the Taliban.

Sonic Narratives of Resistance and Cultural Memory in Afghanistan

@skotrds Doesn’t this violate Islam, that it is forbidden to destroy trees that bear fruit, and the like?
==== “Infidel trees” are being destroyed by the Talibani tribal illiterates

@RaisedtoWalk Seriously sounds like the #txlege.
=== Yesterday I spoke with a friend who is a professional civil servant in Af. He was very disappointed with wt is happening in Af. He said that the head of his institution is a village Mullah who doesn’t even know how the institution is run. Now he wants to leave both his job & 🇦🇫.

August 31, 2023: Texas will soon allow unlicensed chaplains to act as school counselors

August 28, 2023: ‘Harmful to public schools’: Over 100 Texas chaplains issue letter of opposition to school chaplain bill

The chaplains who signed the letter said the chaplaincy programs are an “affront to the religious freedom rights of students and parents as well as church-state separation, and the programs would take funding away from trained mental health professionals who are better equipped to serve students.”

“Because of our training and experience, we know that chaplains are not a replacement for
school counselors or safety measures in our public schools, and we urge you to reject this
flawed policy option: It is harmful to our public schools and the students and families they
serve,” the letter read.

“As trained chaplains, we strongly caution against the government assertion of authority for the spiritual development and formation of our public school children,” the letter read in part. “Not only are chaplains serving in public schools likely to bring about conflict with the religious beliefs of parents, but chaplains serving in public schools would also amount to spiritual malpractice by the chaplains.”

They also expressed alarm the law doesn’t require chaplains to refrain from proselytizing — or attempting to convert someone from another religion — while at schools.

According to the letter, the law dictates salaries for school chaplains be drawn from funds designated “to improve school safety and security.” Those funds are directed at — but not limited to — restorative discipline and justice practices, mental and behavioral health support and suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.

The law does not require any specific training or qualifications for the chaplains to provide these services to students and allows a school district to give any employee or volunteer who can pass a background check the title of “chaplain,” according to the letter.

The ACLU of Texas also opposes the new law, with attorney David Donatti calling the replacement of licensed professionals a threat to student safety and education.

@RaisedtoWalk And the Taliban were sending their members back to school for the 12th grade just so they could get a diploma. A piece of paper doesn’t fix illiteracy & ignorance. The other irony is that if the Taliban hadn’t been fighting progress & education for the past 20 years …
== The Taliban want non-Pashtuns to learn Pashto in the next six months. Otherwise they will lose their jobs. The irony is that most of the Taliban commanders and foot soldiers are illiterate, and many of their leaders poorly schooled.

… … and spreading chaos wherever they could, their people would have been prepared. The people in my group that are under 30, who grew up while NATO allies were there & had the opportunity to go to schools that focused on actual education are trilingual …
.. I’ve seen their high school transcripts. They were taught Pashto & English, in addition to Persian. (They can actually read English better than most native English speaking Americans bc they were taught with PHONICS #WholeLanguageLearningIsFromHell)…
This last decree by the Taliban is entirely to cover for their own ignorance

Language data for Afghanistan

Language data for Afghanistan

@Fawziakoofi77 University entrance exam result s out n Afghanistan with no female students.
This means no girls will be enrolled in University next year.
Women exclusion has huge economic & security implications to our country.
The sympathizers who think the situation is normal r accountable

@KabulNow The sources stated that the Taliban gunmen charged into a home in Qareldi village in Khwaja Bahauddin district on Thursday night trying to sexually assault a girl, but the girl’s father, Qader, managed to seize one of their weapons and opened fire at them.
=== Two Taliban men killed while attempting to rape a girl in Takhar province

September 5, 2023: Two Taliban men killed while attempting to rape a girl in Takhar

Two Taliban men killed while attempting to rape a girl in Takhar

@RaisedtoWalk 👇 this is why the Taliban are terrified of women. Jaels on the job #HandOfGod
===Documented news from 1929 about Amazons, here meaning Tajik women who took up arms against the Afghan tyrant Nadir Khan alongside Tajik rebel leader H. Kalakani. Contrast this with the invented narratives by Afghan historians about a fictional tribal woman named Malalai.

Doha Agreement

@skotrds Oki Doki. Including the Rome Statute. Afghanistan is also a signatory to the below, note the mention of “international law” which the IEA specifically disregards. So if you want to take the successor argument, then here’s this:

“Afghanistan ratified most of the core international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention of the Rights of the Child. These instruments contain a set of standards that form the basis of the UN human rights system and are a part of international law.

The ratification of the human rights treaties obliges Afghanistan to incorporate them into the domestic law and to enforce them in practice. Afghanistan made a legal commitment to abide by the international human rights treaties, setting forth in Article 7 of the Constitution of Afghanistan that “the State shall abide by the UN charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

@skotrds If one reads the Doha Agreement, it repeats this line often: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States”.

The full extent of the mention of positive relations is “as determined by the Intra-Afghan talks”.

Those talks were not completed, instead, the IEA seized the country by force.

@RaisedtoWalk Hmmm … do you think? #Shocker
=== “He had a lot of sympathy for them [Taliban]. I think he developed a relationship with them over time. He lost a certain amount of objectivity.” Grenier said.

July 7, 2023: Exclusive: Zalmay Khalilzad had “sympathy” for the Taliban, former senior CIA official says

Exclusive: Zalmay Khalilzad had “sympathy” for the Taliban, former senior CIA official says

The debacle of the Doha Agreement has led to much misery for Afghans in addition to putting the security of the rest of the world at risk as Afghanistan is now a haven for terrorists under the Taliban. In episode 45 of Generation Jihad, Bill Roggio shares that according to a staff member in the former administration, Trump just want a “win” to puff off, something he could claim was a “peace” agreement, and didn’t really care what was in the agreement. We ended up with the Doha Agreement with the U.S. basically making terms that you would expect from losers in a war.

Episode 45: Generation Jihad

@PBS How did the U.S. lose the 20-year war in Afghanistan, and what has been the human cost? Part One of “America and the Taliban,” an epic, 3-part
docuseries, is available to stream now on the PBS App.

America and the Taliban (Part One)

@StephanAJensen We underestimate the importance of what happens in Afghanistan at our own risk – as we have done many times before, at great cost both to Afghanistan and the rest of the world.
=== No conflict has mattered more for world history at the turn of millennium than the war in Afghanistan.
Almost invisibly, but in plain sight, the 43-year War in Afghanistan has been the pivot around which the most critical events of recent history have turned.

@submarine_lemon Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists
Tajikistan’s special forces have killed three members of the militant group Jamaat Ansarullah, after they reportedly entered the country illegally from Afghanistan, and seized a large cache of weapons and ammunition.

@SenMarcoRubio The Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce is helping U.S. companies enrich the Taliban.

How does working with a regime accused of providing military equipment to a terrorist group that also prohibits girls from going to school look on their ESG scores?

I don’t know what Rubio is talking about. It may be true, but that is not what the article he shared is about

September 4, 2023 Pakistani premier claims US military equipment left behind in Afghanistan is now in militant hands
Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister claims that U.S. military equipment left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has fallen into militant hands and ultimately made its way to the Pakistani Taliban

@skotrds I’ve wondered about the legality of this, an unrecognized and de facto government that seized power from a constitutional and democratic government, can the IEA claim right to the minerals and lawfully sell the national asset?

@RaisedtoWalk This is literally what the Taliban do
=== Me: Men aren’t entitled to children and maid service.

Them: How dare you criticize my marriage.

Me: I was referring to the guy who said single women should be rendered unconscious and forced to take on domestic obligations against their will. Your marriage sounds lovely though.

U.S. Immigration

@josephazam Did you know that #AfghanAmericans have been in the U.S. since before the Civil War and fought for the Union?

Afghans have stood shoulder to shoulder with Americans for longer than the 20 years we tend to hear about.

🧵on an Afghan-American who fought at Gettysburg:

@NatImmForum We need Dreamers.

Texas & Immigration

@JeremySWallace “Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation’s navigable waters,” Ezra said in his decision ordering the barriers out of the river near Eagle Pass by next Friday.

More here:

August 28, 2023: Mayor Karen Bass calls Texas governor ‘evil’ for busing migrants to Los Angeles during Tropical Storm Hilary

Likely due to Greg Abbott’s favorite tactic of busing asylum seekers to cities in other states to pander to his far-right, white supremacist base, the Biden administration is attempting to block him from transporting them, which is essentially human trafficking, before their asylum case is heard.

This was originally reported in The Los Angeles Times, which is behind a paywall.

September 7, 2023: Biden administration considers forcing migrant families to remain in Texas

The Biden administration is considering forcing some migrant families who enter the country without authorization to remain near the border in Texas while awaiting asylum screening, effectively limiting their ability to travel within the United States, three U.S. officials told The Times.

Administration officials have been considering the idea as a way to stem recent increases in the numbers of migrant families corssing the southern border, which reportedly reached an all-time high last month. Supporters of the remain-in-Texas idea, which has yet to be finalized, hope that it would help the administration advance it’s goals of quickly deporting families who fail initial asylum screenings and determing other families from crossing int he first place.

There is also a story on Voz. However, one thing I would like to point out is that the writer refers to asylum seekers as “illegal immigrants.” Asylum is a legal immigration path! They are not illegal. All that should be required is that they present themselves for asylum. Our border agents often illegally deny people who present themselves at the border for asylum. This is a a violation of not only U.S. law, but international law.

September 8, 2023: Report: Biden administration wants to keep illegal immigrants in Texas
A Los Angeles Times report revealed the government’s intentions to prevent migrant families in southern border states from moving to northern Democratic states.

Report: Biden administration wants to keep illegal immigrants in Texas

According to the Los Angeles Times report, migrant families would have to undergo a screening process to determine if they can remain in the United States and if their asylum claims can be processed. If they do not pass the initial screening, it would be easier to deport them if they remain close to the border. In addition, the Biden administration would try to appease the harsh criticism from Democratic areas overwhelmed by illegal immigration.

The Voz article refers to the immigration at the Southern border as a “migratory invasion.” This rhetoric is not only ignorant and misleading, but it is inflammatory, xenophobic propaganda. Again, asylum is a legal immigration path. An asylum seeker is coming to become an American citizen. They want to join with and be an American. An invasion is a foreign nation or antagonistic force that wants to take over and subdue. The Voz writer, Juan Carlos Tellez, either does not understand what the words “invasion” and “asylum” mean or is completely incapable of forming a logical argument.

There are three problems that are an issue with immigration:

1: The U.S. Immigration System

The mess that is the U.S. immigration system. This is in part due to the fact that our immigration system is a patchwork of laws added to over time that involve multiple agencies that do not communicate with each other. To add to this, immigration has become a convenient dog whistle for the Republican party to gin up invective and fear among its voters, deflecting from the fact that they do not do anything substantive to benefit the people as a whole, apart from their big money donors.

There is a lot of talk, but no action. George W. Bush tried to get immigration reform passed. He was blocked by business interests because providing a less convoluted path to citizenship would give people in the U.S. on employment visas more options and agency. (Very often you will find that people on employment visas make significantly less than the market rate for that position).

President Bush’s Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007

June 28, 2007: Senate kills Bush immigration reform bill
The U.S. Senate dealt a fatal blow on Thursday to President George W. Bush’s overhaul of immigration policy — an emotional issue that has divided Americans in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.

Dashing the hopes of millions of immigrants seeking legal status and exposing a deep lack of support among Bush’s own Republicans, the bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed in the 100-member Senate to advance toward a final vote.

A crestfallen Bush conceded defeat and said he was moving on to other issues such as balancing the federal budget when it became clear the immigration legislation would not be revived during the final 18 months of his two-term presidency.

“A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work,” said Bush, who has seen his approval ratings slump to about 30 percent amid anger over the Iraq war and a generally negative public mood.

The bill tied tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a plan to legalize an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, most from Latin America, and to create a temporary worker program sought by business groups.

It also would have created a merit-based system for future immigrants, something conservative Republicans sought.

December 13, 2005: Rules panel likely to reject guest-worker legislation

Rules panel likely to reject guest-worker legislation

The business community is worried that the employee-verification program could be expanded from a pilot program to encompass all employers in the United States. The provision also requires employers to check their existing employees versus only new applicants. Under the Sensenbrenner bill, the program would encompass 145 million workers, according to industry officials.

If you read through articles on the 2007 effort, you will see there were different views within the business community. Some saw the reforms as a bonus to make it easier to hire foreign workers. Others were against it for various reasons, such as not wanting to participate in a verification system, and also, I am sure, part of it was financial. Undocumented migrants are vulnerable and open to exploitation. There are little to no consequences to employers who hire them.

May 31, 2019: Employers escape sanctions, while the undocumented risk lives and prosecution

Employers escape sanctions, while the undocumented risk lives and prosecution

Over a 12-month period ending in March, only 11 individuals were prosecuted for hiring undocumented workers and only three received any jail time, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Companies prosecuted for undocumented employees: zero.

Compare those paltry totals that to the 85,727 individuals prosecuted for entry illegal to the U.S. and 34,627 prosecuted for illegal re-entry during the same period, according to TRAC, which details Justice Department enforcement activity.

The comparison dramatically underscores that fact that employers, for decades, have rarely paid a price for hiring undocumented workers — an underappreciated point that was highlighted in a piece the Center for Public Integrity published last February.

That story focused on President Donald Trump’s “blame game,” which heaps responsibility for wrongdoing on undocumented immigrants while failing to hold employers to account for hiring the undocumented for years — without risk. Trump’s own enterprises have hired undocumented workers for years, with the companies denying knowledge of awareness of such practices.

But the other big reason that the immigration bill was rejected was straight up nativism.

July 15, 2007: Little-Known Group Claims a Win on Immigration

The measure, which died on June 28, would have offered legal status and a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants and created a new temporary worker program while increasing border security.

“Numbers USA initiated and turbocharged the populist revolt against the immigration reform package,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group. “Roy Beck takes people who are upset about illegal immigration for different reasons, including hostility to Latino immigrants, and disciplines them so their message is based on policy rather than race-based arguments or xenophobia.”

December 9, 2012: Immigration issue draws lobbyists — and their money

April 16, 2021: Lobbying groups trying to block a path to citizenship

Lobbying groups trying to block a path to citizenship

November 21, 2014: The last president who couldn’t get Congress to act on immigration

President Bush’s plan called for the return of every illegal immigrant caught crossing the southwest board “with no exception.” He also called for an increase in border control manpower and technology to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S. in the first place.

Most controversial was his proposal to create a new “temporary worker program.”

“This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do,” said Mr. Bush in unveiling his strategy for border control and immigration reform.

“Workers would be able to register for legal status for a fixed period of time, and then be required to go home.”

He said his program would help meet the demands of a growing economy and allow honest workers to provide for their families while respecting the law. It was one of the top priorities of Mr. Bush’s second term, and he gave scores of speeches to persuade Congress and the American people to support it.

August 4, 2014: The (Real) Reason Why the House Won’t Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The (Real) Reason Why the House Won’t Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Here’s the rub, though: In addition to prioritizing law and order, conservative doctrine also requires a commitment to fiscal responsibility. The Senate bill goes a long way toward addressing this need.

For starters, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill will save approximately $135 billion during the first decade of implementation, a figure that includes the cost of securing the border. The bill will also save taxpayers as much as an additional 685 billon in the ensuing ten years. That’s a savings of almost $1 trillion ($820 billion) over twenty years. Additionally, the CBO estimates that the Senate bill promises to reduce illegal immigration by at least one-third to one-half in the ten years following its enactment.

Conservatives not affiliated with the House embrace the legislation because it’s consistent with major tenets of conservatism.

Why, then, do many House Republicans oppose comprehensive immigration reform, as presented in the Senate bill?

It’s because House Republicans aren’t motivated by true conservatism. Rather, they represent constituencies haunted by anxiety associated with the perception that they’re “losing their country” to immigrants from south of the border.

The Republican Party is 89 percent white, and 97 percent of Republican House districts in the 113th Congress have white majorities. Moreover, 67 House Republicans won seats with the support of the Tea Party. And people who are highly identified with the Tea Party are anxious about Latino immigrants taking over “their” country. In some instances, Tea Party groups are leading the charge against comprehensive reform.

Nativism enjoys a strong presence in the Tea Party Caucus among House Republicans. Indeed, according to the most recent data gathered by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), approximately 70 percent of the House Tea Party Caucus overlaps with the anti-immigrant House Immigration Reform Caucus.

April 18, 2021: George W. Bush says failure of immigration reform one of his biggest regrets

Former President George W. Bush said during an interview that aired Sunday that one of his biggest regrets was a failure to reform the U.S.’s immigration system.

In an interview excerpt broadcast on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Bush what he considered to be the biggest disappointment of his presidency, referring to a 2006 speech from the Oval Office in which Bush said “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.”

When O’Donnell said it had been 15 years since that address and “still nothing’s been done,” Bush responded: “No, a lot of executive orders, but all that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job.”

“Is it one of the biggest disappointments of your presidency, not being –,” O’Donnell asked Bush. “Yes, it really is. I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do,” Bush answered.

2: Asylum & Immigration Backlog

Until I began helping the Afghan Christians, I assumed that a person needing asylum would just go to the U.S. embassy closest to them and request asylum. That is not the case. There are very specific cases when a person can request asylum at an embassy, but that is not available to the vast majority of people.

Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

You may only file this application if you are physically present in the United States, and you are not a U.S. citizen.

“Asylum,” USCIS

To claim asylum, a person must be standing on U.S. soil. That means they either need to be here in the United States on some other sort of visa, for example a tourist or education visa, or they have to present themselves at the port of entry and request asylum.

As an example, the original translator for our Afghan Bible studies is an Afghan who is now a naturalized citizen living in Washington State.  Fifteen years ago, she was a young teacher in Afghanistan who came to the U.S. as part of a teacher exchange program when George W. Bush was president.

Her host family was a Christian and during the course of her stay, she was given a Bible. Her family was already receiving harassment from the local mosque with proclamations over a loud speaker denouncing the family for allowing their daughter to go to an “infidel nation.” It caused a huge uproar when she was given a Bible. When the exchange program was over, she didn’t go back to Afghanistan.

She claimed asylum and her application was heard an approved within six months. Mark was friends with her host family and helped her get into a college. She is now an accountant and lives with her family in Vancouver, WA.

The penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. The translator was safe in the U.S., but her family was not. After she failed to return and it was discovered that she had become a Christian, it caused serious consequences for her family. One day, her 13-year-old brother didn’t return from playing with friends. Her family looked all over for him and couldn’t find him. The next morning, they discovered his dead body in front of their home with a letter from the Taliban stating that they might not be able to kill the translator, but they could kill her family and they would kill every last one of them.

Two of her brothers escaped to Europe through Iran. The translator was able to bring her parents and youngest sister to the U.S. on a family reunification visa. Once the parents were naturalized citizens, they filed for reunification visas for their son and daughter who were still in Afghanistan.

That was in 2015 and the reunification visa for the brother and sister hasn’t even budged. When the U.S. and NATO pulled out and the Taliban took over the country, they escaped to Pakistan. They have multiple layers of risk: 1) they’re Christians, 2) they are already on the Taliban’s list because of their sister’s apostasy, and 3) they worked on a U.S. project and have connections to NATO allies. They were beaten in the process of their escape (I shared pictures in a Bible study last year).

The brother and brother-in-law both worked in construction on a space project for IDS International and they both qualify for SIV applications based on that. They’ve had no updates on those applications. Their sister also hired an attorney who submitted 1,000 page humanitarian parole visa applications for them. There has been no movement on that and their sister can’t even get a response on the status of those applications as they’ve been sent to the D.C. USCIS office.

One would think that as this family has already had two asylum applications approved (first for the translator who first came to the U.S. and then for her parents and youngest sister), one would think that the remaining two siblings’ case would be fairly straightforward as they are at much more risk with the Taliban back in charge of Afghanistan than they were when their sister first left for the U.S.  They have already been waiting eight years for their family reunification visa to be processed, the average time for adult children is 13 to 14 years. As for the SIV applications, if their applications make it to COM approval (which they have not), SIGAR has estimated it will take 30 years to process all of the pending applications from Afghans at the State department’s current speed. The Humanitarian parole visas aren’t event being processed for Afghans.

This is our response to a people whom we promised to help.

3: International Chaos

People get very heated about immigration policies, when they couldn’t even begin to explain to you what exactly they are or how they work. Biden’s policies were just as restrictive on asylum seekers as Trump’s until his policies were recently overturned by the courts (as were Trump’s).

The reality is that our policies are not what is driving people attempting to immigrate to the U.S. The reason that people are packing up their family, leaving everything they know behind, and trying to immigrate to the U.S. is because their uncertainty in the U.S. is better than the certain death and violence in their own countries.

Our policies affect how long and painful the immigration process will be, but no border policy will stop desperate people coming who are looking for hope of a better life as long as the situation continues in their native country that created that desperation in the first place.

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