In Pursuit of Excellence

In Pursuit of Excellence

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The elite athleticism of Olympians contains an important lesson for all of us.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

On July 27, an unprecedented number of television viewers—over 4 billion—are expected to tune in to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, making it the largest tv event in history. What was the second-largest television event? The opening ceremony of the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Starting all the way back in Olympia, Greece, in the eighth century b.c., the Olympic Games have seized the attention of sports enthusiasts and almost everyone else who has watched them. They consistently transcend the typical sports markets, captivating worldwide attention as nothing else can. Modern Olympic Games connect spectators with the global community. They also contain a riveting microcosmic view of national rivalries and competitions. But the primary reason viewers and attendees flock to the Games is to witness the showcase of sheer, inspirational athleticism.

Ancient Greek Olympians strove to emulate the valiant traits of Homeric warriors. Many of these early participants lived during times of peace, but they were inspired by the strength of Ajax, the speed of Achilles, the vigor of Ulysses, and the arete (“excellence” and “character”) of Diomedes. The ancient Greeks’ desire to demonstrate these Homeric ideals of a warrior’s arete, even outside of war, propelled many of them to compete in the Olympics. There, through dazzling feats, they pursued glory on the field of athletics instead of the field of battle.

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Athletes of the modern technological era strive to eclipse records against the measuring tape and stopwatch in pursuit of precise, exacting excellence. Their quest for triumph pits them not only against their contemporary competitors, but also against every athlete who has lived and set records before them. This ambitious pursuit cannot be undertaken without great quantities of arete.

Race for the Incorruptible Crown

The Holy Bible draws on elite-level athletics to drive home some profound lessons. The Olympic Games were enormously popular during the first century a.d. when the Apostle Paul lived, and his familiarity with competitive sports spawned several of his most effective analogies. Every four years, the Isthmian Games—like the Olympic Games in all points but location—were celebrated in the narrow part of the Isthmus of Corinth. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says Paul’s sports analogies would have been especially powerful to the church members in Corinth because the Isthmian Games “were to the Greeks rather a passion than a mere amusement: hence their suitableness as an image of Christian earnestness.” These competitions were “a subject of patriotic pride to the Corinthians, who lived in the immediate neighborhood.”

Well aware of the Games’ enormous popularity, Paul told church members in Corinth that the life of a Christian is similar to the quest for victory they saw in these competitive runners: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Paul pointed out that the stakes for the aspiring Christian are much higher than those of an athlete: “Now they [push themselves] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (verse 25).

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Paul said that he exerted himself to the utmost so that he would not fail to secure that incorruptible crown of eternal life: “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (verses 26-27).

This passage in 2 Corinthians is just one of several places where the Apostle Paul pointed his Christian brethren to the finest athletes of their day. It was an analogy he often employed because these athletes, like today’s contenders, were brimming with passion, zeal, and a deep-rooted drive to demonstrate arete in their sport—even though doing so required them to bring their bodies into subjection with the most arduous training regimens.

The Bible makes plain that zeal is fundamental to the life of a Christian (Isaiah 59:17), and that self-discipline is an absolute necessity for one striving to live like Christ (Proverbs 25:28). It reveals that Christians must struggle to invest their hearts deeply into all that they do (Colossians 3:23), and must strive to become perfect (Matthew 5:48). And a Christian must do all this with joy (Philippians 4:4).

It is true that Olympic competitions can often become a microcosm of the rivalries between nations. But athleticism can also occasion the noblest zeal and passion—and can showcase the heights the human spirit is capable of achieving.

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If you join the 4 billion people tuning into the Olympic Games this summer, consider the self-discipline required for these world-class athletes to have achieved such mastery over themselves. Reflect on the sheer effort they exert in their quest for excellence and to bring home a medal. And think on the spiritual parallels. Can you exert such effort in your spiritual life? Remember that before you is a race for an incorruptible, eternal prize!

China and Taiwan Cozy Up

China is renewing its efforts to draw Taiwan into its sphere of influence. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities stated that Beijing wanted more political trust with Taipei. They also reiterated that the one-China policy must be recognized.

Yang Yi, a spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said, “The peaceful development of the cross-Strait ties will benefit the people on both sides.” China’s push for unification with Taiwan has intensified since 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan’s president. In demonstration of his allegiance to mainland China, Ma often refers to the two nations as “one country, two areas.” He recently said both sides could take inspiration from the reunification of Germany.

Closer ties between China and Taiwan are bad news for the United States and other nations that are concerned about China’s ascendancy. In the past, Taiwan has provided a valuable listening post thanks to the island’s proximity to China, its advanced technology, and its democratic values. Shared language, ethnicity and culture also allow Taiwanese intelligence agents to blend into Chinese society. But reports have emerged that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has already curtailed intelligence operations in China and is planning to stop sharing intelligence with the U.S. and its allies.

Expect China’s “soft power” policy toward Taiwan to continue until Beijing perhaps offers to give it a status similar to that of Hong Kong. If Taipei were to refuse China’s advances, Beijing would be in a position to use the threat of force, but under Ma’s Beijing-friendly rule, such refusals are becoming less and less likely. Either way, expect Taiwan to be absorbed into Red China, and for Beijing to wield even more power as a result—both in the region and beyond.

Draghi Wants Centralized Control Over EU Banks

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi has told European leaders they should establish a centralized authority to oversee their troubled banks. Draghi criticized national regulators on Thursday for choosing “the worst possible way” to help their banking sectors. He said they deliberate too much and delay tough decisions.

Right now, most of the authority to regulate banks is vested in national governments. But Draghi wants to replace this model with a “banking union.” This financial overseer would have a centralized regulator, a centralized bailout fund, and an EU-wide deposit insurance backstop.

Adopting Draghi’s plan means governments would have to hand over parts of their national sovereignty. But the Italian banker presented that sacrifice as part of Europe’s long-term vision:

The next step is to basically for our leaders really to clarify what is the vision for a certain number of years from now. How is the euro going to be, to look like in a certain number of years from now? What is the union vision that you have a certain number of years from now? And I think the sooner this is specified the better it is.

Some European leaders—like the Jesuit-trained Draghi—already have a clear vision of a unified future for the EU. Draghi’s assertiveness is helping strengthen a powerful alliance between the world’s most powerful bank, Germany, and the Vatican. Watch for that vision of a unified, unrestrained Europe to become a reality—sooner, rather than later.

The Pope’s Bankers

The Pope’s Bankers

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The pope’s choice for head of the Vatican bank could seal the power of Rome and Berlin over Europe’s economy.

We had a suspicion that something was afoot when Vatican banker Gotti Tedeschi was sacked. It took little time for Pope Benedict to publicize his preferred choice for Tedeschi’s replacement.

On Tuesday, the Vatican Insider reported under the headline “Ratzinger wants German head of Vatican bank” that the pope’s inside choice is none other than the former head of the Bundesbank, Hans Tietmeyer. The Insider stated in relation to Tedeschi’s replacement: “[I]n the Vatican the race for his job has already begun. Despite his age (81), Hans Tietmeyer, former leader of Bundesbank and current member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, is one step ahead of all the other possible candidates. He is the only one Benedict xvi really likes …. [N]o one is considered more suitable than Tietmeyer to manage the ‘pope’s strongbox’ now that Berlin rules Europe’s finances ….”

Should the pope succeed in having this German career banker appointed to oversee the Vatican’s finances, one more vital piece of the plan will fall into place for control of Europe’s economies by Rome and Berlin. As the Insider notes, the Vatican bank’s main partner is Deutsche Bank.

So, add up the bits that have been massaged into place to strengthen the power of the Rome/Berlin axis over Europe’s continental economy—the Jesuit-trained Mario Draghi heads the European Central Bank; the Jesuit-trained Mario Monti is prime minister of the national home of the Church of Rome and the domicile of the German Pope Benedict, Italy; the committed Roman Catholic German ex-banker of renown Hans Tietmeyer is frontrunner for the top Vatican bank post, with the powerful Deutsche Bank deeply embedded in the pope’s bank. What a club!

Surely one could hardly imagine a better array of influential representatives of Rome and Berlin qualified to exert power over the European Union in its current time of economic crisis and reconstruction.

To add flavor to the equation, Berlin has boldly asserted that it is prepared to bail out financially strapped EU nations in exchange for each indebted nation’s bullion hoard. That’s akin to Berlin/Rome buying out whole nations in one fell swoop!

To say that we told you so, 70 years ago, and have consistently forecast this outcome in Europe—directly according to Bible prophecy—to this day, will get scant notice. Nevertheless that is the reality.

Yet, who in this world, least of all its wayward Anglo-Saxon nations, is truly interested in reality—in the plain and simple truth on that which is suddenly, and most undeniably, there right before our eyes?!

Sooner or later, the whole globe is destined to feel the massive control of this entity that has built itself by stealth into the most significant economic and financial power bloc on Earth—the Berlin-Rome axis!

If you have the moral courage to face up to all this, and feel the need to know how to handle its effects, then read our eye-opening booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation. It just may lead you, in the light of the above news, to admit that an aged servant of God—Herbert W. Armstrong—who prophesied it all way back in the 1930s, was right!

For further education on this subject, read our booklet He Was Right.

Has a Race War Already Begun?

Has a Race War Already Begun?

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It isn’t being widely reported, but violent flare-ups are increasing.

Episodes of unprovoked violence by young black gangs against white people are happening, yet are not being reported by the news media.

In mid-April, two white reporters for the Virginian-Pilot were beaten by at least 30 blacks. Their wounds were so severe they had to take a week off work. However, the newspaper they worked for did not report the story until early May. Police officers called to the scene downplayed the beatings as “a simple assault.”

Similar attacks on whites have occurred in Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. Both the authorities and the media have brushed these incidents aside as well. They do so by ignoring the race of the people involved, or claiming there was no racial motivation (even in cases where the attackers were spewing out anti-white statements), or simply failing to report the incidents altogether.

Why? Some thinkers believe that a race war is being censored to avoid white backlash.

Economist and columnist Thomas Sowell, writing for Investors.com, states, “What the authorities and the media seem determined to suppress is that the hoodlum elements in many ghettos launch coordinated attacks on whites in public places. If there is anything worse than a one-sided race war, it is a two-sided race war, especially when one of the races outnumbers the other several times over.”

Their efforts to keep the lid on such a catastrophe may be understandable, he said. “But a lot of pressure can build up under that lid. If and when that pressure leads to an explosion of white backlash, things could get a lot worse than if the truth had come out earlier, and steps taken by both black and white leaders to deal with the hoodlums and with those who inflame the hoodlums.

“These later would include not only race hustlers such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson but also lesser known people in the media, in educational institutions and elsewhere who hype grievances and make all the problems of blacks the fault of whites.”

The race problem we see today is more than an American problem: It is a global epidemic.

“Everywhere we look, we see ethnic division and racial hatred accompanied by gruesome acts of violence and war,” we wrote in the May/June 2012 Trumpet issue. “And it is intensifying! It seems as if we are reminded daily that man’s never-ending attempt to solve the problems of this world—apart from God and His immutable laws—has utterly failed! The ‘solutions’ men propose only incite more violence and more hatred. Soon, these simmering tensions, passions and hatreds will boil over into full-scale race wars!

“God has warned about all of this well in advance of it actually happening, which is why the Trumpet follows these disturbing trends so closely.” Be sure to read the entire article “Race to War.”

Eurozone Nations Could Pawn Gold to Germany

Eurozone Nations Could Pawn Gold to Germany

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New euro plan would have Germany save Europe, in return for power and gold.

The unstoppable force has met the immovable object in the eurozone. The euro cannot stay afloat without German help; the laws of nature will soon reassert themselves and the euro will sink. But Germany cannot help. The public support isn’t there, and in most cases the Constitutional Court has expressly forbidden it.

However, an intriguing compromise is starting to gain traction. Endorsed as a possible way forward by the International Monetary Fund (imf), Société Générale and Germany’s main opposition party the Social Democratic Party, the plan is just the type of deal the Trumpet has forecast for years: Germany bails out Europe in exchange for power and gold.

The scheme gets around the objections of Germany’s Constitutional Court and could gain the approval of the German public.

Called the “European Redemption Pact” and drafted by the German Council of Economic Experts, the plan would see nations keep control of their own debt up to 60 percent of their gross domestic product. Their debt is meant to stay below this level anyway, under EU treaties, but most nations have ignored this.

Any debt above this level would gradually be put into a joint fund. Struggling nations would then have a lower interest rate to pay on much of their debt. People would be more willing to loan money to this new fund, because if one nation defaults on its debts, the other nations (i.e. Germany) are meant to pay it off. Eurozone nations would be expected to pay back this debt fund over 20 to 25 years.

That’s great for the southern eurozone nations, but not for Germany. Because it’s promising to stand behind the debt of other nations, Germany’s debt will be seen as more risky. It will have to pay a higher interest rate. Jefferies Fixed Income estimates it will cost Germany an extra 0.6 percent of gdp a year—around $2 billion.

Germany wants something in return for this generosity.

The Council of Experts said the plan would only work if “strict conditions” were in place. The revenue from a specific tax must be dedicated to paying off the debt in the funds, and nations would have “an obligation to commit to consolidation and structural reforms.” So governments would have to surrender control of parts of taxation and spending policies to Germany.

The plan would also take powers away from the European Central Bank (ecb) and give them to an organization that Germany controls. The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard quotes an anonymous official as saying: “We have got to get the ecb out of the game of distributing money, and separate fiscal and monetary policy. Germany has only two votes on the ecb Council and has no way to control consolidation.”

“Germany would have a lock hold over the fund, able to enforce discipline,” writes Evans-Pritchard.

But the condition gaining the most attention is the demand for nations to put up collateral for their debt. One version of the Council’s plans would make countries pledge collateral worth one fifth of the money they put in the new fund. This collateral “could be taken from the country’s currency and gold reserves,” said the Council.

“This demand could inflame opinion in Italy and Portugal,” writes Evans-Pritchard. “Both states have kept their bullion, resisting the rush to sell by Britain and others. Italy has 2,451 tons of gold, valued at €98 billion in March.”

As people like Evans-Pritchard say, the plan still has a long way to go before being adopted. But some type of bargain like this—Germany given power in Europe in return for bailing countries out—is inevitable. It’s just a case of how bad things will have to get before the eurozone gives in to Germany’s conditions.