Atlas Judged 2021

“Hosanna! Hosanna!”: On January 3, 2020 I was praying for Iran without knowing it.

In the evening of January 2, 2020, in California, I had put my daughter to bed and was organizing a craft for myself to do while I wound down the day.

Suddenly my spirit rose up and I was prompted to speak out: “Hosanna! Hosanna!” between two and four times. Rather than continuing on in praying in my prayer language, my spirit was at rest.

My mom had told me in the past that “Hosanna!” is a spiritual warfare prayer. It means “save us!” As I went back to my craft, I smiled and wondered amusedly, “Lord, what happened just now that you prompted me to pray that?”

In the Middle East, what was to me the evening of January 2, 2020 was the morning of January 3, 2020.

Well, the next day I found out the answer to my bemused question “What happened just now that you prompted me to pray that?”

At the hour the Spirit stirred up my spirit to call out “Hosanna!” Qasem Soleimani was assasinated.

I was floored at the news not just because of its international significance but because of what the Lord had made me privy to in the spirit.

Qasem Soleimani was the Iranian general specifically appointed by the Islamic regime in Iran to install and train terrorist organizations, including ISIS, throughout the Middle East. He was a man possessed by the Strongman of Iran and the Middle East who is the Prince of Persia named by the Angel in Daniel 10:12-14. This is a demonic principality.

Jeremiah Johnson had a dream about this principality having a hit list of prophets to take out who had dared to pray for Iran.

This instance on January 3, 2020 was not the first time I had prayed for Iran without knowing it.

During a worship team prayer time in 2019, I was prompted to pray for the persecuted church. This was Thursday, May 2, 2019. I recall the exact date because I remember that we were praying corporately that night because it was the National Day of Prayer.

I’m not really a missionally minded person to be honest. The Lord has shifted me to be more global in my thinking about the church over the last few years, but a prayer for the persecuted church wouldn’t really be my typical “burden” so to speak. In fact, my heavy burden has been for the apostate church in America!

As the Lord directed me during corporate prayer to pray for the persecuted church, here is what was happening in Washington on May 2, 2019:

Vox reported, “May 2, 2019: The [Trump] administration ends waivers that allowed countries to import Iranian oil. Without those waivers, countries that purchased oil from Iran, including China, India, and Japan, could also be subject to US sanctions. If those countries choose to stop buying Iranian oil, it would hurt Iran’s economy even further.”

You can find that rest of the significant events between Iran and America that occurred between May 2, 2019 and July 2019 by following this link. These events include escalation between Iran and America up to the point of war until at the climax of tensions, Trump decided against striking Iran ten minutes before the strike was to begin because he wanted to avoid Iranian casualties.

Hormoz Sharia, who is called “The Billy Graham of Iran” put these events’ impact on Iranian Christians into clarity when he wrote this concerning America’s economic, diplomatic, and military pressures on the Iranian government:

The Islamic Regime’s Problems

(This is an excerpt from a post titled, “Qasem Soleimani Assassination: Impact on Iranian Christians.” posted to Hormoz Shariat’s Blog on January 10, 2020. I first accessed this blog on October 30, 2020.)

by Hormoz Shariat
  1. Bad economy. The economy is bad because of sanctions, poor decisions, and weak economic infrastructures. Iran can solve none of it. A lack of financial resources will continue to pressure the government. They have been reducing subsidies. If they become unable to pay salaries to government employees and especially the revolutionary guards, the whole government will implode. Even if they suddenly want to shore up the economy’s foundation, they cannot because the system is not designed for such corrective action. So the economy is an unsolvable problem for them. 
  2. Corrupt government. Corruption is so rampant that it has become an integral part of how the government governs. The US$150 billion that they received under Obama’s administration sped up corruption in Iran. Many people in power wanted a piece of that pie. Those who want to eradicate corruption cannot do it because the top clergy and their families are the major players in it. So corruption is another unsolvable problem for them. 
  3. Oppositional population. The people are against them. They came on the streets to protest the economy, and they faced bullets. As a result, their hatred of the government and even Islam itself has increased. The regime reportedly killed over 1,500 people within the past two months. They have not allowed the families of the dead to gather and mourn, and they arrested those who tried. That means the parents of some of those who were killed are now in jail because they publicly mourned the loss of their son or daughter. The government has lost the people’s heart, and there is no way to gain it back.
  4. Military Threat. Now they have President Trump threatening them with action. It started with the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, but Trump made it very clear that he is ready for more. They have no solution for that. If they do nothing, they look weak. For 40 years, they have lied to the people of Iran, telling them that Iran is a superpower. Now they are in danger of being found out and losing respect and credibility. This threat may give people hope that their government is not as strong as it claims and that it could be toppled. If so, this hope will encourage them to continue their protests and oppositions. 

The Spiritual Impact

  1. More salvations. I predict that in the next six months, we will have an accelerated number of Iranian Muslims who will come to Christ. This expectation is not new. We saw a similar occurrence ten years ago. During the Green Movement in 2009, the government killed, raped, and tortured many people. The government’s brutality unmasked the true face of Islam to many: a heartless religion that devalues human life. Because of what they saw, many people who were undecided about Islam beforehand became sure that Islam is not the way. Thus, they became open to the message of the gospel. Even some fanatic Muslims—people who were sold out to Islam and opposed Christianity just a few months prior—came to Christ. How do we know? Because they contacted us and shared their stories. Likewise, we expect that in the next six months, we will see a surge in salvations among those who used to be devoted Muslims—even among the clergy and government officials!
  2. Fewer persecutions—temporarily. Becausethe government has too many problems to fight, for the next few months they will not focus on destroying Christianity as they have when they have had the money and time. If their negotiations prove successful, however, and they can bring back a more normal situation to Iran, then they will start a new wave of Christian persecution. 
  3. More intense persecution. They will arrest fewer people, but they will act harshly toward them—that is, long jail terms and even execution. They will want to make an example out of the few they arrest to put fear in the hearts of other Christians and stop them from evangelizing, fellowshiping with other Christians, or connecting to organizations outside Iran such as Iran Alive. As Christianity grows and the government feels more out of control, it will intensify the persecution. 
  4. Greater opportunity for Christians to be salt and light. As the darkness grows, the light can have more impact because it has the power to destroy the darkness. Light in the midst of the darkness is easily seen and very attractive. So this is the time for Christians to be different. In the midst of the nation’s desperation and hopelessness, Christians can bring the hope of Christ. 

(End excerpt.)

I will add here one last plea before the election: please vote for President Trump. He is in fact being used in MIGHTY ways for the purposes of the Gospel. It confounds wisdom, but I tell you, it is true.

As the church in America comes under sifting and faces the first ever advent of persecution, the church in Iran is rising in honor and breaking off yolks of oppression throughout the Middle East.

Let Trump continue to put the screws to the regime; it is helping! Where Iran encourages terrorist insurrection globally, America under Trump is aiding and abetting a Christian uprising in Iran that would benefit no less than 11 Arab Nations.

Take off carnal thinking. Cast down Jezebel in your midst. And really, vote for Trump. This is not partisan thinking, it’s prophetic observation.

Atlas Judged 2021

Iran Can Buy Arms Starting Tomorrow. How the Persian Empire Has Once Again Become the Most Important Place on Earth.

Ok, first. I want to apologize to the 12 or so people who read “Vote for Pompeo in November.” It was a partisan rant. I read some news regarding Iran that made me really angry and shocked, and I took it out on my keyboard. This is the post I should have written. It is of course still from my bias, but it doesn’t have the same vitriol that the first post on this subject did. I have tried in this writing campaign I’ve been on to speak the truth as I know it with a loving motivation not an angry motivation. I wrote the previous post on this subject with an angry motivation. Please accept my apology and accept my second attempt. I hope it is informative even if it is not how you digest the same information set.

with love, Natalie

The Middle Eastern Cold War has everything to do with the election next month. Have you heard about it? It’s been ongoing between Iran and Saudi Arabia since 1952. And Iran is getting a foot up tomorrow— the arms embargo is lifting. The United Nations denied the United States request for an automatic renewal, a “SnapBack,” that the UN has every right to enact. In effect, Iran is now able to buy arms from other nations and other nations can sell arms to Iran. In response, Trump is petitioning Congress to put sanctions on the South American countries that Iran launders money and arms through, which they apparently then supply to Hezbollah.

Cold War is always about strategic alliance. Donald Trump has been touted as unqualified “to have his finger on the bottom”— meaning America’s first strike nuclear capacity. November’s presidential election is not about who in the White House has their finger on the button, it’s about who holds the pen. I mean the pen that signs the treaties that decide who wins the Middle Eastern Cold War. The hand that holds the pen that decides whether it’s Iran or Saudi Arabia that will rule the Middle East.

It’s not a leap of the imagination to say our lingering proxy war with Russia is currently played out through Iran’s proxy war with Saudi Arabia. Yet, in actuality, it is our trade war with China that Iran and Saudi Arabia have become proxies of.

“The bomb” is the least of our international affairs concerns as sneakier traps are being laid. As Iran destabilizes the Mideast, China has swooped in to colonize the pieces broken by the bad actor. Beginning in North Africa where Libya and Egypt were left in shambles by the Arab Spring, China is asserting itself into power vacuums that open new opportunities for its own trade dominance.

Seriously guys, let Pompeo finish what he has started in the Middle East. A power vacuum in our state department is the last thing anyone needs right now.

For your consideration:

  1. Look into how Iran’s destabilization efforts have led to war and famine in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.
  2. Look into how China stepped into the power vacuums we (Obama & Co.) created in Libya and Egypt.

There are more people in the Trump administration than just Trump. And if you don’t want to vote for Trump, vote for Pompeo. Pompeo is a lion in his approach to Iran.

The folly of Iran appeasement in our previous administration cannot be overstated. It is seriously as though Obama/Biden/Clinton were actively steering our international affairs against the interests of the United States! And not just in terms of security, in terms of trade dominance. The American involvement in the Middle East is far from being about the Bushs’ egos or a supposed evangelical “obsession” with Israel. Today, American involvement in the Middle East is about China not crushing America via the trade doors that Iran opens for China through destabilizing its Arab neighbors.

Overthrowing America’s position as the hegemonic military and economic power in the world has been a chess game China has been setting up on many fronts for a long time. COVID is her moment. And she will take it. I recently read a headline that explained: China is reorganizing its own economy for a globalism that relegates the US to one side. One small side. This is why the Trump tariffs that put globalism on the verge of extinction were survivalism not nationalism.

The end of globalism was reality in January of this year, before COVID jumped the Pacific. You can google “end of globalism January 2020” and see what the headlines were. Why would anyone want the end of globalism? In order for globalism to be achieved, America cannot have the strength it has. Putting America into a less economically advantaged position is necessary for globalism to work in the long run. So as globalists, Obama/Biden/Clinton did have incentive to steer our foreign policies away from our interests.

People will say China’s move against America is because of Trump. These pieces have been in play far longer than Trump has been in politics. Which is for 4 years. He has only had any kind of political decision making power for four years versus more than 40 years for Biden and Clinton each. Who has really had the time and influence to shift China’s foreign relations and economic stratagems?

The US returning to less than a full court press in terms of brokering Israel’s strategic alliances, which allows us to undermine Iran’s standing in the Arab League, would not be foolish, it would be catastrophic. The strategic alliances that Pompeo has been brokering for Israel are all about checking Iran in an aggressive enough way that doesn’t just keep them from nuclear armament, it isolates them from other Arab nations. Nothing chills bedfellows like an Arab nation befriending Israel, and Pompeo has six lined up.

Iran is a meddler in other Arab nations affairs, if I’m to vastly understate it. They have been an instigator of unrest and a terrorist equipper in their neighboring countries. In fact, their actions in Iraq since we pulled back troops almost guarantee that we will have to go back in and start over. We have an obligation to Iraqis to continue working toward a stable government for their nation.

Iran’s tactics always involve raising up protest movements and instigating class/ethnic/religious contention. They have been the gasoline behind the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. As Iraq rebuilds from Saddam Hussein’s regime and from war generated by us, Iran has been confounding the efforts of the foundling democracy opportunistically as less and less American presence remains.

Also announced in the last two days: China is now supportive of Iran’s nuclear capacity. In fact, Russia and China have both said they would sell arms to Iran. Venezuela and Colombia have already voiced intentions to buy arms from Iran. I hope it is now clear that Pompeo’s mission to create normalized relations between Israel and her neighbors is not (just) Christian Zionism, it is practical! The only way to stop Iran is to isolate them. America’s best defense against being utterly toppled by China is via Iran through the series of Mideast peace deals that people think mean nothing.

Just because the peace deals don’t create a two-state solution in Israel, commentators feign ignorance as to why these deals matter for all nations and ethnic groups, not just Israel and Palestine.

Zoom out, please. Our Middle Eastern affairs concerning Israel are not always actually about Israel, or Palestinians. Yet, for America’s benefit, Pompeo’s simple obedience in relentlessly supporting Israel has led to brilliant foreign relations that are decidedly effective to protect America’s ability to remain an autonomous and self-determined nation.

Vote Trump to vote for Pompeo. After all, a president’s real realm of influence is foreign relations, on which front Trump is killing it even if it is just by appointing Pompeo.

In contrast, the Obama/Biden/Clinton foreign relations plan allowed Iran to train and install ISIS and empower Hezbollah, and generate an Arab Spring in six countries. The end result of the Arab Spring was autocratic overthrows that created even more extreme government— Islamist theocracy rather than democracy. In 2015, Obama also spearheaded the UN resolution that set the October 18, 2020 expiration date for the arms embargo, which was indefinite until then. A return to such folly wouldn’t just destroy the Middle East, America’s largest rivals would be the biggest winners. And don’t overlook that Turkey is the newest country being groomed by Iran. Look out Europe.

The following is an alarming set of headlines from various points of time and a variety of sources (none of which are Fox News):

“The Weapons Ban on Iran is Ending.” from the Economist. October 13, 2020.

“Bill Introduced to Congress Aims to Stop Hezbollah Money Laundering.” from the Jerusalem Post. October 16, 2020.

“Obama Should Never Have Appeased Iran.” from the Atlantic. January 12, 2020

“In Rebuke of US, China backs Iran nuclear deal, calls for Mideast security forum.” from the Times of Israel. October 11, 2020

“UN Arms Embargo on Iran.” from SIPRI databases. January 20, 2016, includes UN resolution document links and UN voting records on those resolutions.

“The Cold War Between Saudi Arabia and Iran That’s Tearing Apart the Middle East, explained.” from Vox. January 4, 2016.

A Country by Country Breakdown of Saudi and Iranian Influences in the Middle East.” from The Globe and Mail. April 14, 2011.

“Famine Emerges as UN Theme, Crystallized by Yemen Disaster.” from The New York Times. September 24, 2020.

“Why Iran is Getting the Blame for an Attack on Saudi Arabia Claimed by Yemen’s Houthis.” from the Washington Post. September 16, 2019.

“China in the Mediterranean: Implications of Expanding Sino-North African Relations.” from the Brookings Institute. July 2020.

For an American administration to maneuver alongside Islamic radicals and China the way that Obama’s did, there had to have been a common interest between such ideologically opposed world powers— the only thing they all three have in common is a desire for Christianity to decrease in global influence. Christianity is monochromatically cast as the intolerant colonizer though it is the most culturally adaptable religion in history, as Mario Murillo interestingly asserts. We did colonize, but we also acculturated in equal measure to the acculturation we acquired. Many of our customs and traditions and all our holidays are from other cultures.

Funnily, Christians were persecuted as atheists in Rome for not worshipping enough gods! We weren’t religious enough for the Romans. Our freedom in Christ to “be all things to all people” still confounds the stridently religious as much as it does the rest of the world. This is why Islamists call us the Great Satan– because we corrupt Muslims with our free-wheelin’ ways.

If you digest the news through the lens of the Apocalypse then the peace Pompeo and Kushner are brokering on behalf of Trump and Pence really could be a harbinger of the end of the world! But if they don’t finish the job they started, it is more than likely just the end of America— Christianity’s haven of world influence.

You might say, “Natalie, it is not for Christians to have vested interests in their own nation, we are a global church.”

Yes, however, Paul wrote to Timothy saying to “pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:2.

See this: In the Bible, every empire that God’s people were exiled into had just as much pluralism and freedom of religion as America does today. Egypt, Babylon, and Persia (Egypt, Iraq, Iran) — in each case we arrive on the scene of a story of God’s rescue at the precise moment when the empire’s leader has legislated a sudden shift from religious freedom for foreigners to forced worship of a state religion or religious suppression of Jews specifically. From Moses to Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego then on to Mordecai— we meet God’s people in the moment religious freedom has been revoked. Test me on that in Exodus, Daniel and Esther.

It was always when freedom of religion was taken away in the empire that God judged the empire and delivered his people from them. We do need to be vested in threats to America’s freedom at home and abroad. Praying above all. America is protector-in-chief of all religious freedom globally, not just Christian privilege.

For the spiritual context that got me looking into studying this history, find my posts from September: “11 Arab Nations Are Ready for a Revolution” and “A Dispatch for Intercessors: An Angelic Messenger and the Inheritance of the Nations.”

If you read these dreams, it would be significant to note that there are 10 nations caught between the influence of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Which nation will overcome the other and lead 11 nations in a free and open marketplace of ideas and finance, giving an 11th Hour Release of the Gospel in the region?

I’ll say this— I think it’ll be Iran. If Iranians win their own freedom from radical Islamist oppression, they will lead the Arab nations caught up in the Middle Eastern Cold War to religious freedom. Pray for Iran.

Imagine how a mighty move of God in just one country could change the world. The gospel breaking forth in just one nation could change history. Pray for Iran.

The last time Persia was this important Esther was queen.

LAST UPDATED: October 19, 2020

Atlas Judged 2021

What Prophets Are Missing About the Missing Revival in California

The modern droughts in California have two culprits other than a lack of rain: salt water intrusion and insufficient water infrastructure.

Yes, over the last 15 years we did have a seven year period where it just didn’t rain. In fact, scientists said that because of global warming it would never rain again. Because of this calculation, the state made budget decisions that redirected billions of dollars of earmarked money away from improving water infrastructure into other initiatives. Which meant that in 2015, when it did start raining again, all the water ran straight into the ocean.

My three favorite places on the Monterey Coastline are Andrew Molera Park, Salinas River State Beach, and the Elkhorn Slough. At each of these locations you can see, or even wade through, the place where fresh water meets the sea– an estuary.

There is something poignant about estuaries for me; they are unlike any other parts of the Bay and Coast. Only specific birds, fish, and plants inhabit estuaries. In the place where the water is not fresh anymore but not salty enough, there is expectation and loss. Places in between are exciting but they are also inhospitable to nearly every kind of life that lives in the atmospheres on either side of them.

Californian farmers, like my dad who is a winegrower, are in a constant battle against the government, the Pacific Ocean, and each other over how to press out of the earth enough water to sustain the largest food crop producer in America and the fifth largest in the world.

When I was little, my mom would shew the four of us kids out of the house and into Dad’s white pickup truck on Saturday mornings. We’d pack in and drive a length of HWY 101 southward between our home in Salinas and San Ardo to check on the vineyards. In season, we’d venture even further south to Fort Hunter Liggett to go quail hunting, or to find a quiet spot on the Salinas River where we could cast off into little rapids and pull up rainbow trout for dinner.

Along the road, you see tall shepherd’s staffs hung with patinaed bells. The bells mark El Camino Real. Having driven this stretch of HWY 101 ad nauseam (literally until I was nauseated) I commented to my dad once that all the towns in South Monterey County are just about 20 minutes apart driving. He said, “Well, that’s how many miles you could ride on horseback in one day back in the mission days. The Spanish built a mission every day’s ride.” Along “the King’s Highway” there is a bell, a mission, and town every day’s ride.

There is no lack of religion in California, or spirituality. In fact, once I was able to spend three days up in Big Sur on a property that our friend’s dad was caretaker of. No one really gets to experience Big Sur. The state parks don’t even hint at what it really is. You meet people from Big Sur and there is a look on their faces like they have a secret. They do. It’s Big Sur.

I came home from camping on this pristine private property that had an IMAX view of the ocean, and I felt physically altered. No, I was not actually in a physically altered state, though there’s plenty of that available in Big Sur too. There is a spiritual presence in that place so potent that I came home feeling like I needed to check into Betty Ford. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Big Sur Land Trust exists less to protect the natural beauty of Big Sur and more to protect its spirituality.

The Salina, Ohlone, and Esselen, the native peoples that populated Monterey’s coastline and arterial valley, had no lack of metaphysical fervor. The Spanish padres had equal measure of religious conviction. Even now, this same dynamic plays out from the southern-most CA pitstop on HWY 101 to the northern-most.

There have been plenty of revivals in California. Moves and movements are the norm here not the exception. Just like the 20 minute intervals of towns along El Camino Real, revivals dovetail one to another. When Azusa Street Revival began to calm in 1915, Aimee Semple McPherson exploded on the scene in 1918. Sister Aimee’s life was cut short in 1944, but not before she established a new denomination, expansive charities for the Great Depression’s poor, and a colossal radio ministry not to mention a mega church in Los Angeles. Five years after Sister Aimee’s death, Billy Graham held 8 weeks of big tent revival meetings in Los Angeles where he had only prepared for three weeks.

When the Billy Graham Crusade came to Los Angeles, William Randolph Hearst sent a telegram to his reporters, “Puff Graham.” It meant to cover the story. The newspapers ran the story and Angelenos responded by pouring into the crusade that launched Billy Graham’s worldwide ministry. Billy Graham preached to more people in his 50 year career as an evangelist than any other person in history. He legitimized evangelicalism as a religious movement. The 1949 revival meeting wasn’t Graham’s first; his first was held the year before in New York City. But no one makes people famous like California does. Thank you, Hearst.

The 1950s are called “The Powerful Years for Religion.” Yet, when the 60s started to shake the hold of Christian conservatism that had settled into the West, the Jesus Movement seemed to just appear from the sea. The Jesus Movement did what the California climate has always done best, from the padres to America’s Pastor, it built a monument, sparked a movement, and made people famous. In this case, it was Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel along with John Wimber and the Vineyard.

By the time Calvary Chapel’s network of churches were packing in 1,000s over multiple services, Rick Warren was starting a bible study that would become Saddleback Church. The year was 1980. Up to date 20,000 people attend Warren’s church weekly and he has become an influencer of epic proportions having written books that, I don’t know, share what’s in the secret sauce?

To the best of my knowledge, being that this was the California Christian environment I grew up in, Christian revivalism did pretty well in the ’90s. The New Prophetic Movement had my family at revival meetings, hearing visiting evangelists almost every night of the week. Christianity commercialized and Spirit West Coast music festival moved into Monterey County every summer for over a week. We could hear the music playing from its host location, Laguna Seca Raceway from our house but we camped for the week anyway. My mom does not miss a moment when revival comes to town.

When I graduated from high school in 2004, I kinda left church in my rear view mirror for awhile, but as far as I can tell, there has never not been revival in California. There has always been some new movement, some new method of reaching youth, some new church that is bursting at the seams.

So why do the prophets talk about “the missing revival in California”? Why do churches feel so dry and empty? Pastors yearn for an outpouring. Yet, history seems to say that California’s pastors are chest deep in a flood already.

It’s missing because the water is brackish and the cisterns are broken.

Beware of the buzz of “LOOK, REVIVAL!”

We are coming into a revival of the quiet place, such as is transforming the nations where Christians would die if they became famous. California doesn’t need a new, big move so much as it needs to be transformed by a still small voice.

Atlas Judged 2021

We Will Always Be “New Christians”: The Spanish Inquisition and the Story of My Blue Island

Smack in the middle of the Atlantic lies my Blue Island. I have never seen it, nor stepped on its hot black sand beaches, or patted the pillowy hydrangeas that grows out of its volcanic ashen soil.

The Blue Island, Faial, is just outside the center of the Azores archipelago. On September 16, 1957, weeks after my father’s first birthday, the waters beneath Capelinhos began to boil. By September 27, 1957 Capelinhos began a once in her lifetime adventure– the monogenetic volcano erupted for 13 months. Happy 63rd Anniversary, Capelinhos!

The eruption of Capelinhos created a unique opportunity for residents of Faial. Though Azorean Portuguese had a long history of immigration to America via the Hawaiian sugar cane fields, in 1916 the United States Congress tried to pass a bill that established a literacy requirement to immigrate to America. This legislation was motivated in part to discourage Azorean Portuguese immigrants from making the move from Faial to Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California where they were dairy farmers, fishermen, and laborers. The “Dumb Portuguees” were considered to be unintelligent (obviously) and unhelpful to the American economy as their signature position as laborers in the Hawaiian sugar cane fields became less necessary. Capelihnos’ self-expression cracked open the American opportunity for self-determination to another generation of Azoreans in a big way.

My dad arrived in San Jose, CA in 1960 after he and his parents were granted asylum on grounds of natural disaster. They moved back to the state where my great-grandmother was born. My great-grandmother, born in California, settled back home in the Azores after the family had gained some economic stability in the States. This flow of migrants– Azorean citizens of America and American citizens of the Azores– moved between the two countries all throughout the 19th century. This transferred Azorean resources of manpower and American dollars between the two countries. Azoreans back home gave emigrees money to invest in real estate in the United States, and money earned in the States was shared with family still in Portugal. This was a very similar dynamic to California’s Mexican migrant population that has more of a trans-nationality than a singular place of origin.

Azorean Portuguese have always been on the move. The wayfarers and whalers of the Mid-Atlantic, my people were sailors and shipbuilders to the New World Explorers, slave traders between the African and American continents, and venturers who settled as far away as Portuguese India.

“The Autonomous Region of the Azores” as legally named, has a bittersweet history with its progenating country. In the mid-1400s, settlement in the Azores began to rapidly increase as New Christians found themselves forced from Iberia. New Christians were formerly Jewish citizens of the Iberian Peninsula that hadn’t been converted long enough to satisfy the suspicions of uber-Christian Queen Isabella and her henchman, King Ferdinand.

The Mattos family lived by a grove of small trees in Aragon for generations, hence the name meaning “brushwood” or “thicket.” Mattos, lusciously pronounced muh-toj, has the same meaning and pronunciation as my maiden name, Moitoso. Only in Portuguese could you soften and smoosh vowels to the extent that Moitoso says, muh-toj.

This Mattos family settled in Faial. They were a large, well established part of the Aragon community, and newly converted Christians that feared Isabella’s genocidal anti-Semitism. (By the way, Isabella is a transliteration of the name Jezebel. Goodness, aren’t names prophetic?)

Some Jews did move to the Azores because they had not converted, but most were escaping the xenophobia of not being assimilated enough to the Christian worldview. Before the rise of Ferdinand and Isabella, anti-Moorish sentiment had already began to percolate, so there was a contingent of Portuguese Jews that moved to the Netherlands. They lived in cuadrillas like the Basque– perfectly closed communities like the Hassidim. They even spoke a unique language similar to Yiddish that is now lost to history. As they became successful contributors to the Dutch economy, the age old Jewish conundrum of attracting too much attention by God’s favor led to persecution of these Dutch Portuguese Jews. They fled as the New Christians were doing to the Azores.

The last practicing Azorean Jew died in the spring of 2015. Now cemeteries are almost the only testament that the Azores has never really been Catholic. Well, only as Catholic as Esther was Persian. A tiny, little Magillat Esther written in Portuguese from the height of the Azorean Jewish community during the 1800s remains also. And tucked away in Sao Miguel “the Shaar Hashamayim synagogue is one of only a few remnants of Jewish culture in the Azores and in all Portugal.” It is hidden in between the walls of a commercial building. In the past 50 years, this synagogue has only been open once– in March 2009 for tours in recognition of the 420 years since Iberia’s Sephardim began to make the Azores home. Hints, rumors, and secret rooms are all that is left of the Jewish identity of Azorean Portuguese.

There is a sadness I feel as a first generation Portuguese American that I don’t speak Portuguese. That I have never been to the Islands. That I don’t know– except that I do know– that I am a Jew. The Azoreans have many agonias. In fact, our agonies are so many that they are a documented phenomena called the agonias.

Sociologists have found that there is a Azorean complex that predisposes us to feelings of unworthiness, ambivalence toward the future, and a belief that we will never achieve our goals. Researchers believe this complex of emotions and mindset is not just culturally engrained but is the result of an amalgamation of genes that ultimately add up to a world-record breaking prevalence of serious mental illness. What do the Azores win the blue ribbon in? Bipolar, schizophrenia. Not to mention the epilepsy.

Maybe we are cursed for our heavy participation in and enablement of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Maybe we suffer in the way God’s chosen do, as Tevye points out in Fiddler on the Roof : “I know. I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in awhile, can’t You choose someone else?”

Our history is in our genes. Trying to find answers about epilepsy, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia, scientists have mapped the entire genome of the people living in the Azores. On the islands for so many centuries, we are nearly an isolated people group. In other words, we are just barely not completely inbred. This makes our family in the old country a perfect control group to help in medicine’s struggle to understand the brain and nervous system.

Because our genome is mapped, there is a lot of open source information for the ethnic makeup of each island. Though Azoreans are decidedly Iberian, particularly Portuguese, there is a smattering of Flemish and Dutch genes that tell the story of those private communities of Portuguese Jews in Holland during the 16th century. Our Moorish ancestry and our participation in trans-Atlantic transgressions is evidenced by the variety of African haplogroups in our genome. This is especially prevalent in the western islands that were most involved in slave trading. The central islands, where my little round Faial is situated, have the highest concentration of J haplogroup. We are the most Jewish of the islanders with an average of 13% of our genome being “J.”

I have a vested interest in finding out whether I have Jewish ancestry. Both my father and my mother are Azorean Portuguese. My mom’s family stayed after their first migration in the 1800s. Marriages on my mothers side remained within the Azorean American community until my grandmother was born. This means there is a possibility that I have highly rare genes. Recessive/recessive genes are most likely to express themselves among isolated, consanguineous groups. Our genome is able to be mapped because it is “highly collapsed”– a nice way of saying what my dad phrases as: “Grandpa Tony wanted us to leave the island so we could get some new blood in the mix.”

I want to unravel the mystery of my bipolar disorder. I want to know if my moods are an unknown aura of temporal lobe epileptic seizures. I want to know if the mysterious 105 degree fevers I got frequently in early childhood, and the crippling stomach pains I suffered from elementary school through college are from Familial Mediterranean Fever. FMF also causes seizures in people with collapsed genomes. Stomach pains are also a rare type of absence seizure. Epileptics have a high co-morbidity rate with mental illness. My dad and his mom were childhood epileptics. So what do I really have? Why have I been in one form of pain or another my whole life? Is there a better treatment for my primary disorder? Did I expose my unborn child to lithium when I could have just adhered to a therapeutic diet for FMF?

Familial Mediterranean Fever is an illness nearly exclusive to Middle Easterners, particularly Sephardic Jews. Familial Mediterranean Fever is a painful periodic and recurring affliction caused by the overproduction of an intestinal protein. Though it causes pain, this intestinal protein is why Jews didn’t get the plague in near the numbers that Europeans did during the Black Death outbreaks in the 1300s. The Europeans blamed the Jews for the Black Death not understanding why Jewish homes weren’t as harmed. Racism, confused medical analysis, and lost geneologies are just a few of the bi-products of migration.

Even when migration is not forced, when you leave your homogeneous old country to the brave new world, there is loss of identity and a loss of reference for where to start looking to find any possible causes behind failure to thrive within a community.

In the 1970s, a strong boy named Rogerio was a star athlete. He trained by stacking hay bales on the dairy where his family lived and worked. After a long summer of buffing up, Rogerio went back to high school to find out that he had been put on second string. “They gave my spot to a white kid so I quit playing,” he said. “Dad,” I answered. “You’re white too.” He didn’t believe me. I later found his junior varsity football jersey. It said MENDOZA on the back.

As a little boy, my dad had learned English from the other boys on the farm. According to my sister, teachers thought my dad’s little brother had a learning disability. In reality, he was just shy and didn’t have friends from whom to learn English well enough to excel in school. No one noticed until he was in fourth grade. He has bipolar like me. They didn’t figure that out until he was in his 50’s, I think.

You might ask why I don’t just ask my grandma all my questions. Well, she doesn’t speak English. And I don’t speak Portuguese. And my dad speaks Spanish all day in the vineyards, so translating is a headache as he now speaks more Spanish than Portuguese.

Thank God for DNA testing. Now I can easily find the edge of the string to pull on and unravel this aching I have to understand why my brain just hurts so much sometimes. I have a My Heritage DNA kit that I’ve been putting off sending in. I wasn’t sure why I’d been procrastinating until writing this post. I’m afraid to find out that I’m not Jewish. That all these clues about my health, my history, my myopic interest in Judaism and Israel…that it’s just random. I’m just randomly sick, and that’s that. No context, no meaning, no path toward better medical interventions.

As I am writing so much about the election, and what I believe to be the spiritual context of American current events, it is not without feeling. It is not without an understanding of how history lives in us and breathes through us.

Black Americans will always carry the questions, illnesses, and trauma of slavery and oppression. As you pull the string on your history, you are entitled to self-determination and the decision making power in what therapies your community needs to heal. Calexi-Mexi-Amerifornians know that some of the white residents who also live in this fluid international space that was once Colonial Spain want to take the “American” away from them because that ooooone day they were born it wasn’t in “the North.”

I have an uncomfortable, complex identity as a participant in both American and in Azorean history. Origins birthed from rejection and discrimination, stained by sin, sustained by grit, and overshadowed with agonias, resonate so deeply within me. I am fortunate to know where I come from.

I’ll work up the courage to turn in my DNA sample soon. The results might show that I am not a Sephardic Jew. That’d make me sad, not just cause I think Jews are awesome and I’m kinda in love with Mayim Bialik, but because it would take away some of the more interesting leads on my health– not to mention greatly reduce how many centuries back I can read about my family history.

On the night that the Mattos Family was slipping quietly out of Aragon, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand thought the New Christians would always be Jews.

Not Catholic enough to be Catholic but not Jewish anymore.

Not Iberian enough to be Iberian but not Moors anymore.

Not European enough to be European so to the Autonomous Region of the Azores they went.

Tonight, I think that perhaps my family is not Jewish enough to be Jewish. Yet, we will always belong to Jesus enough to be New Christians.

Atlas Judged 2021

I Saw the Ghost of an Indigenous Californian While Psychotic in 2009.

Yep. I guess I could just leave it there, but I’ll go ahead and tell you the whole story and why it got brought up for me today.

In early September 2009, I was at a Papa Roach and Nickelback concert with my brother– I swear that says more about the 2009 version of him than me! I was so manic that people kept coming up to my brother and asking if we had anymore of what I was tripping on.

During the concert was the only time in a two month span of being in and out of psychosis that I hallucinated. I went out of the Shoreline amphitheater to send a “prophetic” text to my friend. I saw my Motorola phone sending 6/66 messages but the text would fail and then start resending by itself. I saw it keep sending the text over and over and over each time 6/66. My friend asked me later why I kept sending him that message over and over.

As I was walking back into the amphitheater I saw the ghost of an indigenous Californian in vaquero garb. He was like 4 feet tall. He was probably only chest height on me and I don’t clear 5′ 3″. He looked stunned that I was looking at him, like he couldn’t move. Like a deer in headlights. I snorted at him like a horse. Literally, it sounded like a horse. I snorted both intentionally and spontaneously. Then I kept walking.

Just this year, my husband and I took our daughter through the Mission San Juan Bautista museums. The last one we walked into had a glass case in its foyer with a full Spanish colonial era vaquero outfit on a stand. It was the exact outfit that the ghost I had seen was wearing 11 years ago. I felt so creeped out that I pushed my family to leave as quickly as possible.

This came up for me today because I received a very gentle and loving rebuke from a sister of color about my pro-Trump stance today. I was tempted to be on the offense, but realized it was a stumbling block of offense that my friend had fallen over and that making it about me would just pull me into the trap of “biting and devouring each other” that Satan orchestrates between believers (Galatians 5:15). So I started praying.

I was reminded in prayer of all the indigenous sisters and brothers I have and the way that they have expressed hurt over the discrimination they have experienced from white Christians. This discrimination was not in a worldly context, like course jokes, but it was in the church in the form of whites being patronizing and preferring white cultural practices over indigenous ones. This discrimination consistently presents itself in white leaders refusal to address Euro-centrism over their pulpits.

It is a stumbling block to Maori, to ethnic Hawaiians, to indigenous El Salvadorans, to Oaxacans to say “the derivatives of your indigenous religion and cultural norms are not allowed but the pagan-derived cultural norms of the Britons, Franks, Gauls, Goths and Visigoths are fine.” That is what viewing the Kingdom of Heaven as European does. It allows the church to give preference to the worldview and customs of the pre-Christian West, because we view ourselves as the originators of Christianity.

(Let’s put to one side that the Bible is Semitic. Homework: Research ancient Canaanite customs and beliefs for the best back drop to the biblical worldview on what is acceptable and unacceptable practice.)

If you read the Parable of the Mustard Seed, including Matthew 13:31-32, you hear: the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds yet it grows into the largest plant in the garden as big as a tree that is home to all kinds of birds. You must realize that the West is one of the many birds not the mustard tree itself.

I was moved to pray by name for my sisters and brothers who have had their faith confused by the contra-biblical and ungodly preferences in the church. I prayed 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians over them. I meditated on how difficult it must be to constantly be told to leave behind the sins of your native culture in order to participate in the sins of white culture.

Recently, my wonderful friend, Julia sent me a sermon (linked below) by Brad Haami about horses, the way Maori culture informs their Christian faith, and intercession he participated in in Israel. The story about the period of intercession in Israel involved a spirit that was residing over a specific valley. Nothing could grow in the valley because of this oppressive spirit. The spirit was there because of heinous blood shed and injustice in the past. They prayed until the oppression was rebuked. That valley is lush with plant life now.

That valley in Israel had been a site of child sacrifice. I am reminded of a sign in front of the Mission Cemetery at Mission San Juan Bautista. Meer yards away from a giant statue of John the Baptist and a white wooden Cross, there is a sign marking an area smaller than my parents patio where 4,300 “Indians, Spanish and pioneer settlers are buried.” The sign continues to memorialize “the mission’s first sacrifice to God,” a little girl. A child died on the altar of Spanish imperialism in 18th century California. There is nothing as anti-Christ as confusing God with empire.

The California territory would benefit if Brad Haami and his team of Maori and Israeli intercessors prayed over our valleys.

Interestingly, Mission San Juan Bautista is built along the San Andreas Fault Line. I used to love reading the seismograph when I was little. There are constant tiny earthquakes happening along the fault and you could watch the graph record them. Unfortunately they took it out. About now, we need seismographs, as we seem to have forgotten how to put our ear to the ground.


Key Terms in Today’s Post:

Christianity— the belief system adhered to around the world that follows the ways and words of Jesus Christ, worshipping him in his identities as Son of God and savior of mankind, as well as to some extent his identity as human Messiah of the Jews.

Christendom— the geo-political powerhouse created by Constantine that became the social context of common era Europe. It is responsible for the spread of Christianity to all parts of the earth through the economic conquests of European nations.

Kingdom of Heaven— the transdimensional government that operates in the heavenlies and on earth. It is endowed by the spiritual authority of Jesus. This authority is entrusted to frail but faithful humans in the absence of its king, Jesus until his return to rule the earth. Not all who now participate in the Kingdom of Heaven are co-inheritors of the earth with Jesus– in other words, not all who exercise authority in the Kingdom of Heaven are children of the New Jerusalem (Galatians 4 & Matthew 7:21).

Mission San Juan Bautista, CA. At the bottom of the right side of the bell tower, you can see a little grove of cacti and the sign in front of that grove is the Mission Cemetery sign.