WEEK IN REVIEW
So we end the week with Haley Barbour releasing killers- the media showing- over and over again- a viral video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers- and the Repubs accusing Romney of being a ‘Vulture’ capitalist pig.
Let’s start with the most important one first- last night I saw the Marine video- after a minute or 2 of thinking about it- and hearing Hillary and others decry the ‘outrageous action’ and saying that these Marines will be upheld to the highest standard of law- I thought ‘what a bunch of hypocrites’.
Yeah- we- as a nation- send these young kids to war- some do 3 or 4 terms over there- we are telling them ‘you go kill this enemy’- they often see their buddies getting killed.
They also see kids maimed- our guys coming back without all their body parts.
And in some cases- like the present court case against the soldiers at Haditha [a possible case where our guys killed some civilians] they do get things wrong.
But the fact that one of the most dehumanizing acts a person can engage in- the taking of another’s life- the fact that we ask these guys to do this- and then become outraged that they urinated on some dead bodies- well yes- they blew it- they made it more dangerous for our other men over there- I got all that.
But the media- who keep showing the ‘darn’ video- they are not helping.
Right now you have an Egyptian Christian going to trial because he posted a picture of Mickey and Minnie- Mickey had a beard and Minnie a veil.
So in Egypt- they now see this as a crime. Have you seen the silly image on the tube? Of course not- because the media know that the showing of the image might cause ‘outrage’ in the Muslim community- and that might lead to the deaths of people.
Then why do they feel so free to keep showing the stupid stunt the Marines did- surely the showing of this video will cause outrage in Muslim lands and lead to the deaths of people.
Yes- the guys did wrong- maybe they should face some type of military discipline- but the calls for prison are wrong- they ‘pissed’ on dead bodies- wrong- bad- especially in the Muslim world- but the act of taking their lives in the first place- the act we ask our young men to engage in- that by nature lowers a person’s view of another group.
Yes- professionals should be able to distinguish between the enemy and the degrading of another person- but in practice this distinction isn’t always so easy- so let’s punish the men- in a way commensurate with the act- but jail? No way.
Okay- we were also treated to the public hysteria over killers walking the streets of Mississippi- you know- Barbour [Governor] let out all the rapists- child molesters and killers!
Are we seeing somewhat of a political overreaction? Sure. Did he pardon some people that should not have been pardoned? Probably.
But you have some of the opposing political figures in the state- saying that they are trying to track the killers down and they can’t find them.
Wow- you mean all Barbour’s gang are on the loose- stalking women and children right now?
All governors have in fact pardoned killers in the past. Now- should this act be done sparingly? Yes. Because you are indeed wiping the record clean- and in cases of sexual assault- well the public might not know who they are dealing with [like getting hired at a school or something].
But in truth- about 90 % of the guys pardoned were already free- and many of them were out of prison for years. The pardon allows them to find jobs [because many can’t get work when the rap sheet shows up] and maybe become an asset to society in some way.
So not all the pardons- are these 200 killers out on the run! They were not accurately describing the thing- and the Dem. Attorney General who keeps going on the air saying they are doing their best to get the killers- but they ‘hit the ground running’ well he’s simply playing the game.
And let’s end with ‘the Vulture’. Yes- Gingrich and Perry have gone after Romney and they pulled out the Capitalist Pig card.
They are attacking Romney over his years at Bain Capital- because he was a Corporate Raider and he cost people their jobs.
Then some on the Right have gone after those who are making this attack- they are saying that conservatives should not be making a charge like this- because all Romney [or corporate raiders] do is simply a part of Capitalism- and should not be questioned.
The movie they are using as an example is Wall St. - they are kinda saying that the picture the attackers are trying to present is one where Romney looks like Gordon Gecko.
I think a better movie would be Pretty Woman. If you remember- Richard Gere played the role of a corporate raider- and this movie really tells the story better [though the movie is about a prostitute!]
Gere comes to town to shut down a shipping business [actually builds ships!] and during the process he sees the point of view of the older owner of the business- and Gere instead says let’s try and keep this business open- yes- to make money- but also to fulfill the role of being a good corporate public servant- that does care about the workers as well as the stock holders.
This idea is noble- and I think in some ways we should bring this type of ‘just thinking’ into the Capitalist picture.
Now- not all ‘profit’ making is wrong- we know that. And if there comes a time that a business has to shut the doors because that’s the only way for other parts of the investing firm to be viable- okay- that’s fine.
But there is nothing wrong with asking ‘capitalist pigs’ to not only see the bottom line- but to also view the worker as an asset- and trying to keep their jobs should also be a goal of business- not just cash.
And there are many C.E.O.’s who do teach this- years ago I read Stephen Covey’s books- and he does talk about this.
So all in all- there is some truth to the attacks- to ask the question.
Okay- that’s it for now- lets pray for these Marines- they are taking lots of heat- and sure- maybe they screwed up big time- but they did nothing worthy of prison or court martial- and we should all know that.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
 LUTHER CLASHES WITH ROME
Let’s do another post on the Protestant Reformation. I’ll probably only do a few more before I transition into another study.
By the way- all the studies I do thru out the year are posted in the February posts of the following year.
Okay- last we left off Luther was just beginning to butt heads with the church [Tetzel] over the abuse of the sale of indulgences that was going on in Germany.
In a previous post I mentioned how the priest- Tetzel- was selling these ‘get out of Purgatory’ type coupons in the area where Luther operated out- Saxony.
Actually- Tetzel never entered Saxony itself- but was selling these out of a bordering city- and many of Luther’s students/parishioners were being hoodwinked into spending their money to rescue a loved one out of Purgatory.
Tetzel is known for a jingle he started in connection with the sale of the indulgence- it goes ‘as soon as a coin in the coffer rings- a soul in Purgatory springs’- ouch!
Like I said before- the church never taught this- they did teach the Treasury of Merit [previous post] but the way Tetzel used it was a real abuse of the teaching of the church at the time.
Now- Luther responds to the abuse by writing the famous 95 thesis. This is the act that is often associated with the launching of the Reformation- the act that got the ball rolling.
The 95 thesis were simply 95 questions challenging the whole practice of the sale of indulgences- there was no mention of the doctrine of Justification by Faith- which will become the trumpet sound that springs out of the Protestant Reformation.
Luther takes these questions- written in Latin- and nails them to the university church door at Wittenberg. Sometimes while reading church history this ‘nailing to the door’ is seen as a sort of vandalism - you know- ‘he nailed them to the door!’
In actuality Luther was simply using the system of the day that one scholar would use in order to bring up an official point of contention with the church- Luther wrote the Thesis in Latin- which was the scholars language- not the language of the common man.
But Luther’s students quickly translated the Thesis into the vernacular [German] and it was said that in 2 weeks the paper made it into every village of Germany.
The challenge was a spark in the lives of many Christians who also believed the church was off track and that someone needed to rebuke her- and they picked Luther as the man for the job.
Now- the Catholic church wanted Luther to go to Rome and discuss the situation there- Luther’s friends warned him not to go- so they agreed to meet- a few times- in Germany.
The first meeting was in 1518 at Heidelberg- Luther actually gave a great defense of his argument and convinced some other top Catholic scholars that he was right [as a side note- the church had already scheduled this meeting because of a controversy that rose up between the Augustinian order of monks and the Dominicans. They were debating over which philosophy was more consistent with church teaching- Nominalism or Realism- for those of you who have read the posts this past year- I taught this when doing our posts on philosophy].
One man- Martin Bucer- wrote a stirring account of Luther- Bucer would later influence another young Swiss priest with Reformation teachings- his name is John Calvin.
As a side not Calvin will become one of the 3 big heavy hitters of the 16th century Reformation [Ulrich Zwingli is the 3rd].
Luther will meet again in Augsburg- and debate the leading Catholic scholar of the day- Cardinal Cajetan.
Then he goes to the city of Leipzig- and debates the leading German scholar- Johann Eck.
And his last meeting with the church will be at the famous Diet of Worms [pronounced- Vurmtz] and it will be here that Luther makes his last stand and officially will break with the church and launch the Protestant Reformation.
It should be noted that Luther held what we call a High Church position for most of this time- he still saw the church at Rome- and the Pope- as a legitimate expression of true Christianity- his beef was what he saw as an abuse of the system- by the priest Tetzel.
As time progressed- the other beliefs of Luther- founded upon the bible- did come into contention with Rome.
The main disagreement eventually became the teaching in the bible called Justification by faith. I have written a study on the topic on the blog- I have also written a bible study on the book of Romans and Galatians.
For those of you who can- try and read Romans chapters 2-4 and Galatians 2-3- these are the key chapters that cover the teaching.
Down the road I will cover the official teaching of both the Protestants and the Catholics on the doctrine of justification- the Catholic Council of Trent- referred to as the Counter Reformation- spells out the official teaching of Rome- and there are a few papers put out by the Reformers that explain their belief.
Since the 16th century Reformation there have been efforts made by Protestants and Catholics to bridge the gap as much as possible- to try to come to some common language since the historic split.
I like some of the efforts that have been made- and recently both groups put out a statement that jointly said we all believe that we are saved by Gods grace thru Christ- that’s good.
But as we get into some of the actual discussion- you will see the points at which the 2 sides disagreed- and the main one was on the act- the actual thing that happens- when a person is declared just- the Reformers said it takes place when a person has faith- believes- the Catholic church said it takes place at baptism- water baptism.
This- as well as a few other things- will be a defining distinction between the 2.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
The other day I mentioned that I’m not a big football fan- but to be honest I have always rooted for the northern teams- and yes- I’m aware of how good the Giants are doing. But yesterday was the first time I watched a game this season.
I was channel surfing the news shows and caught Tebow scrambling for a touchdown- I thought ‘heck- I have heard lots of criticism about Tebow- but he looks pretty good to me’.
So I watched most of the game- they won in overtime- under a new rule that says you only have sudden death if the team that wins the toss scores a touchdown on the first possession.
Tebow threw for a touchdown on the first play!
Its funny- of course I have heard all the controversy over Tebow doing the prayer move at the games. One night I was watching the world news- and they actually did a story about whether or not Tebow's prayer was ‘really’ working.
They showed the few clips of him on the knee- then they said ‘but- could there be another reason why he is doing well’- Geez- I don’t know- why don’t you tell me.
Yes- they interviewed some shrink and he explained that when someone is nice- and encourages the other players- well that affects the game.
Then they showed a clip where some receiver blew the catch and when he walked back to the line Tebow tapped him on the back and said ‘don’t worry about it- better luck next time’.
Aha- that’s it- it aint those silly prayers after all.
How funny [sad] that after the media started getting criticized because of their complaining about Tebow’s silly one knee thing- then they had to actually spend a few minutes on world news to explain why the prayer isn’t really working- kinda sad.
Okay- let me take care of a few business items today. First- does someone want to do me a favor?
Who has a lot of money? Can you send me….. [Okay- need to stop doing this- it does get people mad].
Actually I have an old friend in prison- in N.J.- and about a year ago we wrote back and forth a few times. I’m pretty sure I sent the last one- but really haven’t kept up with it like I used to.
So- if anyone wants to write- to just keep in touch and encourage the guy- then either message me on Facebook or send me an email- I’ll send you the address.
Over the years I have sent hundreds of letters to buddies in prison. Some of my friends on these sites know that- but I have dropped the ball some in the last few years- and this might be a ‘ministry’ for someone.
Also- on my site I have some old friends- people who have been with us [me] from the start- ministry type guys. We always had plans and ideas about stuff- to be honest some of those plans never materialized like I hoped.
But I have been wanting to throw this out as an idea- maybe some of you guys can start a site- either a group on Facebook- or a blog [there free!] and simply call it the name of your city ‘outreach ministries’.
Use it as a sort of bulletin board- a place where other ministries/churches in your area can get in touch- maybe post an event- or whatever.
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone- but to a few brothers- this can be a good tool [or sisters].
If you go to my blog- there is an icon that you can click to start your own blog- I have been on a few years- and to be honest- I am a terrible blogger/internet guy.
I didn’t even have EMAIL until 2007!
So if someone wants to mess with it- it can be a worthwhile tool- an outreach to your city- or even a sate or nation.
Okay- that was it for today- just wanted to take care of a little business- oh yeah- Houston is doing good too! The Boys? Okay- let’s not dig up past mistakes- love covers a ‘multitude of sins’.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
 SATURDAY IN THE PARK
The other day I got up and turned my computer on- hit the icon for one of my oldies but goodies [Saturday in the Park- Chicago] and sure enough it was one of those saved UTUBE videos that got deleted because of some copyright thing.
So I just re-type the song and do another search. On the side of the page I see a bunch of options- I usually go for the one that looks like the old vinyl classic- you know the records we bought as kids.
But instead I went with one that showed a Ferris wheel and a carnival in a park- yeah- that looks good!
As the song started- I soon realized that the video was made by some amateur who is fulfilling his dream of being an international star by posting his songs to UTUBE.
Now- I’m sure he meant well- put a lot of time and effort into the thing- but he sounded just like the waiters singing at the end of the movie Christmas Story.
Yeah- maybe he was living in Korea at the time- doing his best to navigate his life thru the ups and downs of his country- all the people distraught over the death of their beloved leader.
So as I sat there- yes- listening to Saturday in the Park- sung with this Korean accent- I thought ‘You know- in life we all have ups and downs- we learn to take the good with the bad- I mean it won’t be the first time that I had to settle for less’. But I knew- if I listened to the whole song- well that would be a noticeable step down on even my very low standards- yeah- I clicked it off.
Which brings us to today. We end the week with many Iowans and others saying ‘well- we don’t really like so and so- but we will settle for what we can get’. Romney and Santorum tied- and a few others have to re evaluate.
Let me mention one thing- Ron Paul does have a solid following- sort of like some cult guy. And he does say things that make sense- at times. But he also has some nutty ideas as well.
But one of the things he is right on is what he said the other day about Iran. He said that the sanctions that the West is now putting on Iran- that they are an act of war. He said we should not be surprised that they will respond in a dangerous way.
This week- for the first time ever- we began moving on Iran’s oil- to cut off their sale of oil to other nations. Oil is obviously the number one source of income for Iran.
This has lead to a crash in the Rial [Iran’s money] and Iranians are taking all their cash out of Iranian banks and putting their money into U.S. currency.
We are indeed sending that nation into a possible depression- and if we know that we are doing this- saying that’s the price for the level of non compliance they are showing with their nuclear program- then we can’t say ‘oh- they are just starting trouble in the Strait of Hormuz to get the attention off of their bad economy’.
Yes- that’s what the White House said this week- that’s a lie- we all should know that- and if we think we should do the sanctions- then let the country know that’s what’s putting the pressure on Iran- that’s why they are threatening to disrupt the Straight- and it might indeed lead to war.
Okay- there are a bunch more stories I would like to hit on- lets hit on the recess appointment of Cordray.
Those who hate Obama say he violated the constitution. Those who love him say he didn’t do anything different than any other pres. Who’s right?
Actually- what he did was a first. Now- he might think it’s time to challenge the thing- but make no mistake about it- it was a first.
Out of all the hundreds of recess appointments that presidents have made- this was the first time a pres. made one when congress was either in session- or in ‘Pro-Forma’ session.
But the media are not really telling you that.
CNN had a quick story that said even Obama accused Bush of going around congress when he made his recess appointments- and they played the clip of him saying it. Yet they ended the story by saying ‘Obama- in the end- said the president had the right to do it’.
But they were talking about the normal ones that all presidents have made- yes- Obama accused Bush of gong around the law- when he did an actual recess appointment- when congress was not in session.
It was under Bush- when Obama was a senator- that congress actually came up with an agreed to ‘form’ that would constitute congress being deemed in session- that’s what the Pro-Forma thing is all about.
The Dems and Repubs made a deal that said if the congress has one guy show up every 3 days- and he simply hits the gavel- hangs out for a few hours- and leaves- they all agreed that this would mean they were in session- and it would prevent the pres from appointing a recess guy.
Okay- for the first time- they started doing this under Bush- and Obama and the Dems [along with the Repubs] all said at the time that if Bush dared to make an appointment during this Pro Forma session- it would spark a constitutional crisis.
What did Bush do John? He went along with the deal- and never made an appointment when they were in Pro Forma session.
Obama never said Bush had the right to do what Obama just did.
Harry Reid is on record saying if Bush dared do this- it would be grounds for legal action.
What are Reid and Obama and all the others saying now? Oh- he’s doing what’s right.
This stuff never ends with these guys.
Last story- when the media wants to portray a certain thing- in a certain way- they will do their best to try and make you see what’s really not there.
Under the Clinton administration you had the scandal [one of many] that had to do with Sandy Burger. Sandy was a top official under Clinton and at one point he knew that he had written some stuff that would get him in trouble.
So he gets caught going to the presidential library and stuffing these old notes down his pants and in his socks. The librarian can’t believe she caught the guy doing it- I mean he’s a top official.
So they notify security and on his way out they stop him and make him spill the goods- yeah- this is a real story.
Of course the news breaks and you see why he wanted to take these papers- they did make him look bad about some stuff.
But how did the media treat this? Over a period of a few days they interviewed Bill Clinton- and a few other Dems who were ‘in the know’.
They all laughed- they said ‘Oh that’s just old absent minded Sandy- he does silly stuff like this all the time- leaving his briefcase behind- I mean we all know he was not really trying to steal anything’.
And after a few days- well that was the public story- almost unbelievable that the media has that type of power.
The insiders say that what Obama just did was a first- and he might very well have sparked a constitutional crisis- and the insiders say that’s what he wants- to position himself this year against congress- and he might have done something- that might indeed be illegal- but as a lawyer- sometimes you do stuff like that.
He might have calculated that it would take years before the courts decide- and even if he broke the law- he’ll be gone and the mission was accomplished.
So what’s so bad about this John? Well you don’t want any president doing stuff like this. Yes- in society these games are played a lot- but in the top office of the land you should not do it.
But if the media can convince the public that all Sandy was guilty of was sloppy filing- well then they can convince us of anything.
 TREASURY OF MERIT
Let’s pick up where we left off 2 posts back. We were talking about Martin Luther and the events that led up to the Protestant Reformation.
In order to understand the key act that caused the protest- we will have to teach some Catholic history/doctrine.
In the 16th century Pope Julius began the effort to build St. Peters basilica in Rome. He got as far as laying the foundation and died. Pope Leo the 10th would pick up after him.
The church needed to raise money for the project- and the German prince- Albert- would play a major role.
It should be noted that both Catholic and Protestant scholars agree that the Popes of the day were pretty corrupt. They came from what we call the Medici line of Popes.
If you remember last month I wrote a post on the Renaissance- I talked about the Medici family and how they played a major role in supporting the Renaissance that took place in the 13th century in Florence Italy that would spread to the region.
Well this very influential family also played a big role in who would get top positions in the church.
At the time of Luther and prince Albert- if you had the right connections and the money- you could literally buy a position in the church.
Albert already held 2 Bishop seats- and there was an opening for an Archbishops seat in Mainz [Germany] and he wanted that one too.
It should be noted that official Canon law [church law] said you could only hold one seat at a time- Albert was bidding on his 3rd one! And he was too young for all of them.
So even the Pope and the officials held little respect for what the church actually taught at the time.
So Albert opens up negotiations with Leo- and the bidding starts AT 12,000 Duckets [money] Albert counters with 7,000- and they agree on 10,000. How did they justify the numbers? 12- The number of Apostles. 7- The 7 deadly sins. 10- The 10 commandments.
Yes- the church was pretty corrupt at the time.
So Albert works out a plan with Leo- he will borrow the money from the German banks- and pay the banks off by the Pope giving Albert the right to sell Indulgences.
What’s an Indulgence?
Okay- this is where it gets tricky.
The ancient church taught a system called The Treasury of Merit. This was a sort of spiritual bank account that ‘stored up’ the good deeds of others over the years.
You had the good deeds of Jesus at the top- but you also had Mary and Joseph- the 12 Apostles- and other various saints thru out time.
The way the ‘bank’ worked was you could tap into the account by getting a Papal indulgence- a sort of I.O.U. that had the Popes guarantee that it would get so much time out of Purgatory for a loved one.
The actual sacrament that accesses the account is called Penance [confession].
When a penitent does penance- he confesses his sin to the priest- and he is absolved by the authority of the church that the priest has. The priest usually tells the person ‘say so many Hail Mary’s- Our Father’s’ and that’s a form of penance.
One of the other things the church practiced was called Alms Deeds. This term is found in the bible and it means giving your money to the poor- it is a noble act that Jesus himself taught.
In theory- part of the sacrament of penance was tied into Alms Deeds- you can access the account thru the practice of giving to the poor- which also meant giving to the church that helps the poor- and in the hands of the Medici line of Popes- meant outright giving money to the Pope.
So now you see how the abuse worked its way into the pockets of the faithful.
Albert now had the permission from Leo to sell these indulgences in Germany- and he would pick a certain corrupt priest to sell them in a place called Saxony- the region where Luther operated out of.
It should be noted that the Catholic Church never taught the crass act of ‘buying your way out of Purgatory’. The practice of including giving money as a part of the sacrament of penance was tied into the biblical principle of giving to the poor- a good thing.
But Tetzel and others abused the official meaning of the indulgence- and did make it sound like you could by your way out of Purgatory [in theory- a loved one might be in Purgatory for so many years- and through the indulgence you are actually getting time off for them- because the good deeds of others are now applied to the account].
The money Albert would raise- half would go to Rome for the building of St. peters- and half would go to pay off the banks in Germany- it was a sad system- and a sad time for the church as a whole.
It would be wrong to judge the entire church at the time as being corrupt- you did have many sincere Priests and Catholic men and women who saw the abuses and did not take part in them.
But there was corruption at the top- and this would eventually lead to the breakup of the church- and the launching of what we now call the Protestant Movement.
As a side note- it should be said that many Catholics and Protestants are not aware of the whole treasury of merit system- and the church never officially changed her position on the doctrine.
There were 3 Church councils since the time [Trent- 1500’s, Vatican 1- 1800’s and Vatican 2- 1962-65]. The Treasury of Merit never came up for change.
Obviously Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory- and it’s not my purpose in these posts to change Catholics into Protestants or vice versa- but to give all sides a clear view of the issues that divided us- and to try and be honest- and respectful during the process.
Does the bible teach anything like a Treasury of Merit? Well actually it does. The bible teaches that the righteousness of Christ is the treasury that people can access- by faith- and become righteous in the sight if God.
The idea- applied to Christ- is good.
But in the hands of the Medici Popes- and the ambitious prince of Germany- it would lead to disaster.
 Happy new years eve to all. Let’s do a brief Year in Review.
We did have quite a busy news year- last night I caught a CSPAN clip of Newt- yeah- he was crying like a baby!
Okay- not that bad- but he did break down for a few seconds on screen. Some of the pundits debated if it were ‘planned’ or real.
I think E.J. Dionne [a liberal news guy] got it right- he said he thought it was sincere- but how much it will help a man in a Repub primary fight- well that’s another story.
Boehner said he didn’t see anything wrong with it [lol for you non savvy political folk- who knows- maybe they will both run for office in North Korea? The crying capitol of the world].
The big story of the year? Well- there were a few [Tsunami- Arab Spring- E.U. crisis] but as a geopolitical event that was big- I guess I would say the shakeup we saw in the Arab world was pretty major.
It started with a street vender in Tunisia- he refused to pay ‘the tax’ to the cops for his street profit- it’s really a form of extortion like the mob uses. So in frustration he ‘self immolated’ [lit himself on fire!] and he died a few days later from his injuries.
This led to the overthrow of the long time leader in Tunisia [Ben Ammi]- and then the Egyptians followed suit by protesting in the historic Tahrir square.
Mubarak got toppled and then Libya gave it a shot. Of course we [the U.S. and NATO] basically bombed the hell out of the place and then let the rebel’s claim they won.
Last week in Nigeria- on Christmas day- Muslim radicals bombed a Christian church and killed many worshippers. Nigeria is much like the Sudan- the country is divided North and South by Muslims and Christians [Sudan’s south also has lots of Animists].
What do all these countries have in common? They are all in Africa. Yes- the African continent probably saw the most ‘action’ though the last part of the year we have focused on Europe.
Yes- Europe had her own Western style debt crisis. It can get a little confusing- I mean I was watching one news show- the title was the Euro Zone debt crisis- and they said there were 27 nations in the Euro Zone.
That’s a common mistake some have made. The Euro Zone is made up of 17 European nations- that have entered into a treaty that allows them to all use one common currency- the Euro.
But there are a total of 27 nations that make up the European Union- the biggest Economy out of all of them is Britain- they are not part of the Euro Zone- though they are part of the E.U. - got it?
By the way- Brazil just passed Britain as the world’s 6th [or 7th?] largest economy.
And Japan faced her devastating earthquake/Tsunami [I think it was this year?] anyway there economy has been in the doldrums for around 20 years. Japan had her own recession/depression many years ago- and they have still never fully recovered.
Which brings us to the end of the year in the U.S.
We end the year with some better than expected economic numbers- but don’t be fooled- the numbers are not great- they are actually not good- they are just better than expected.
Some now predict that the last quarter will see around 3 % growth [it takes a few weeks for the data to come out] and some are predicting that 2012 we’ll see around 3 % growth.
3 % is not good- it’s actually bad- but it’s not as bad as a recession.
What we need to keep in mind is our economy has gone through some major hits- and like Japan- you don’t just pop out of it in a few years.
Many of the companies are in better shape- because they scaled back- they cut people and downsized- some for good.
So- the DOW might look good because of stuff like this- but we have now had a few years of college grads who have been unable to find work- and they missed the ‘boost’ of getting a good job- buying a car- getting a place to stay- and this group of young unemployed kids- well they might never get the jump they need to do ‘better than their parents’.
So by no means have we as a country recovered from our debt/economic problems- and the E.U. still has a lot of risk in the coming year.
In the last few weeks the Federal Reserve and a few other central banks made money available to the E.U. banks at a cheap rate.
The theory is if you pour money into the banks- that might loosen up lending- and you avoid a real problem. Just like our own TARP thing we did in 2008.
But lo and behold- some of the E.U. nations sold [tried] to sell some bonds- and the banks did not buy as many as people expected. The banks took the cash [like the U.S. banks did in 2008] and basically sat on the money.
So all this means we still have a tough year ahead- globally- and just because some numbers are looking better at the end of the year for the U.S.- this does not mean all is well.
The scripture reading for this week is Isaiah 52. The prophet speaks about Gods people- he says ‘Wake up- rise up- shake the dust from your feet and move on’.
He also says that blessed are those who preach the Good News- the good news of salvation. Those who publish peace- those who declare Gods rule.
I have a habit- every week [just about] I watch the Catholic Mass on the tube- those are the bible chapters I cover during the week.
Of course this past week I watched the Popes Mass from Rome- the Pope spoke against the commercializing of Christmas- and he reminded us that the true message of Christmas is Emmanuel- God with Us.
As we end the year- I want to encourage all my readers/friends- the reality of God being with us is what’s important. Yes- I do think many are not seeing the ‘story behind the story’ in the above news events- many want to believe there is no way they might have lost money [401 k’s] and they might never see that money again.
But that’s okay- even if you didn’t lose it this past year- you were going to ‘lose it’ someday- we all have to leave some day- and we have a tendency to put that reality off.
One year I had a friend- another firefighter- who just started investing in Real Estate. And all the guys knew I was doing that for years. I used to have renters come by and drop off the rent checks and stuff like that.
So when one of the other guys got into it- they would ask me for advice. One day I had a friend- around 50 years old- and he bought a few homes.
As he was talking- he was telling me that he would pay off these 2- sell this one- rent the other- I mean he had all the plans first time buyers/investors get into. I simply tried to give him some sound advice- and I also had to stop him at one point.
He was telling me the plans he had for the 3 homes that were on a 30 year mortgage- and I had to say ‘Mike- I know your excited about the houses- but you’re talking about paying off these homes- you do realize you might be dead before the mortgage is paid off’.
I wasn’t being funny- I actually was telling him something that many investors do not calculate in when they do the numbers- they very rarely calculate in their own mortality.
So yes- we will all do our best- we will watch the numbers this year- and well will try and publish the good news- the good news of God being with men- that God became a man- was crucified- died- and buried. He rose again the 3rd day- according to the scriptures- he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Amen and Amen.
Happy New Year to all.
 LUTHER- THE TOWER EXPERIENCE
Let’s start with some church history. In the last post I covered the early years of Martin Luther- probably the most significant figure of the Protestant Reformation.
Luther studied for the priesthood in Erfurt, Germany. He would eventually wind up in Wittenberg- one of the major university cities of the Reformation. Wittenberg was actually a small insignificant town- but the political leader over the region- Frederick the Wise- sought to put it on the map.
He wanted to turn Wittenberg into a German ‘Rome’. He wanted it to become a major Pilgrimage city where Christians would see Wittenberg as a destination- just like they saw Rome.
So Frederick embarked on this plan and he searched thru all the Catholic learning centers of the time and finally recruited 3 top scholars to teach out of the university at Wittenberg- Luther was one of the 3.
Just as a side note- Frederick would succeed at making Wittenberg a major catholic center. He would eventually obtain over 19,000 Relics for the Cathedral church there [Relics were used in the ancient system of buying indulgences and making special pilgrimage trips to important Churches. If the church/city that your making the Pilgrimage to has a lot of Relics- bones or other famous material objects from church history- then the value of the Pilgrimage was high. In theory Frederick collected so many that if you added up all the ‘time off’ from Purgatory- you would get 1 million, 900 thousand years off! Some of the famous relics at Wittenberg were a hair from the beard of Jesus- straw from the manger Jesus was born in- and even a branch from the famous burning bush of Moses! As you can see- there was a lot of commercializing going on- even back then].
When Luther arrived in Wittenberg- he made a name for himself as a top scholar. Many protestants- who revere Luther- usually are not aware that he was a master Linguist [sort of like Rick Perry!]
Yes Luther mastered language- and he showed it in his teaching on the book of Psalms.
In 1515 he began his famous study on the book of Romans and as he went thru the very first chapter- something shook him. He came across the passage that says the Just shall live by faith. This verse first appears in the O.T. book of Habakkuk- and is quoted 3 more times in the N.T.
Luther was very aware of the concept of the righteousness of God- he struggled for many years trying to reconcile his own sinful nature with Gods holiness- but he never really ‘saw’ the biblical concept of righteousness as a free gift that God ‘imputes’ to the sinner.
Yes- for the 1st time in Luther’s life- after his years training for the priesthood- the pilgrimage he made to Rome- the thousands of hours he spent confessing his sins while a monk in Erfurt- he never really understood that the righteousness of God was a free gift given to those who have faith.
It was a giant weight lifted from his shoulders- Luther did not need to try any more to live up to the standards of God- in a way that would earn for him forgiveness- but he would simply believe- and the righteousness of God would be counted to him as a gift.
Luther would go on to call this an Alien Righteousness- that is it is not found within the person who tries to do all the church works he can- or buying all the indulgences- or any other of the many religious actions he was practicing- but this free gift of being right with God- it came to those who had faith- the Just shall live by Faith- this was indeed good news for the scholar.
As time went on- Germany would get embroiled in the political machinations of the day- Luther’s top political cover was Frederick the Wise- hardly a Protestant Reformer! He spent lots of time trying to make Wittenberg the major Catholic center in Germany.
But at the time there was a political fight raging between Rome and some of the other nation/states. There was a figure head office called the Holy Roman Emperor. This office was really in name only- but it rose up during the first Millennium of Christian history and sought to replace the influence that Rome was losing.
So you had France, Spain and England all vying for the title. Eventually it would go to King Charles of Spain- but the Pope- who played a major role in nominating the person- he did not want any of these top 3 to get the position. Henry the Eighth was the king of England at the time- and these ‘3 kings’ were sort of in competition with Rome- so the Pope tried to get Fredrick the Wise to throw his hat into the ring.
Frederick just happened to be one of the Electors of this position.
His actual title was The Elector of Saxony.
So Fredrick had lots of influence- and as Rome would eventually but heads with the stubborn bull of Wittenberg [Luther] Frederick would become the major protector of Luther.
Okay- I think we’ll stop here for today. The experience that Luther had- the enlightenment that came to him while teaching the book of Romans- this is often called The Tower experience of Luther- it took place in the year 1515.
 E.U. and John the Baptist.
Okay- let’s start with last week’s meeting in Brussels. The European Union met to hack out a deal on their debt problems. All 27 European nations met- 26 signed on to an agreement- sort of.
Britain was the only nation that did not sign on. Why? Cameron [the Prime Minister] said they did not want to give up any control over their sovereign nation. Basically the agreement says that the E.U. nations that refuse to deal with their debt problems- they will face fines/penalties if they let things get out of hand.
‘So John- how does a promise like this fix anything’? Actually- it doesn’t. In the U.S. we just came off a year of various panels/groups who were put together to deal with our nation’s debt crisis.
Some of these panels- bi-partisan- came up with some okay ideas- but in the end the President and congress did not pass anything.
So the last attempt was the ‘super committee’ as opposed to just any old regular one! Yeah- they even said ‘we are are so serious about getting our fiscal house in order- we even passed a law that said if we don’t agree to the cuts- then automatic cuts will happen- beyond our control- and then the budget will eventually balance out’.
Wow John- you mean they actually passed a real law that said this? Yup.
Okay- what happened? They came down to the wire and passed nothing. Then they started saying ‘look- we know we passed a law- to make it look like this time we mean it- but do you really think we can’t change the darn thing’!
Well John- Obama said he will veto any change. Oh yeah- that threat has lots of weight to it.
So the E.U. said ‘we will allow more oversight of our individual nations budgets’ and that was the deal. They did not fix anything yet- and the real test will be this coming year. All these nations [Italy] will have to raise new revenue [sell bonds] and if the private investors/banks do not want to take the risk and buy these bonds- then things will get bad.
So that’s the story.
Okay- in the last few posts we talked a little about the first century world that Christianity was birthed from. We call this Greco/Roman culture.
Though Rome was the ruling empire at the time of Christ- they were ‘Hellenized’. Hellenization is the word we use to describe the Greek kingdoms efforts- under Alexander the Great- to ‘Cosmopolitanise’ the world.
Whenever Alexander would conquer a people- he would allow them to stay in their land- they could hold on to their customs and habits but at the same time become part of Greek culture.
Alexander even translated the Jewish bible [Torah] into Greek. This version is called the Septuagint [means 70] and comes from the story that 70 scholars put this version together under Divine inspiration.
This Greek ‘bible’ was the bible that the Jewish people who lived outside of Israel would use. These scattered Jews are referred to as the Diaspora.
Okay- during the time of Christ more Jews lived outside of Israel than in the land. And the influence of the Greek world upon all the people under the Roman Empire was very great.
Our New Testaments were originally written in Greek- this is the reason why. Now- the other day I mentioned how the Synagogue rose up during the time of this Diaspora- this scattering of the Jewish people before the time of Christ.
So during Jesus day- you already had a habit of Jews meeting for study and prayer- in these ‘church’ like buildings. These places of worship had no sacrifices or priestly ordinances- they were places of prayer and ‘bible study’. Do you now see how the culture that surrounds a movement does indeed have the potential to shape that movement?
Yes- early Christianity took on a form of Synagogue worship and order of service. The New Testament teaches us that we have no more animal sacrifices- but offer spiritual worship to God.
In the book of Acts we read about a group of people called God Fearers. This designation refereed to gentiles [non Jews] who enjoyed the Synagogue ‘services’ and wanted to attend- but they were not willing to go all the way- so to speak- and make the final ‘cut’.
Yes- if you wanted to completely convert to Judaism as an adult- you could- but you did have to go thru the rite of passage- circumcision.
So for those who liked the ‘bible study’ but also liked to keep all their body parts as well- they became God Fearers.
A while back I read an article [book review?] about a book some scholar put out- and he had an interesting twist on why the early Christian’s had friction with the early Jews. He posited the idea that the Gentile converts to Judaism were the main pool of people that the early Christians were converting- and that simple statistics said if all these former God Fearers became Christians- well the synagogue membership would go down- and the offerings too!
It’s an interesting idea- but we do read in the bible that the friction came because the early Jewish Christians accepted Christ as their final sacrifice and they did indeed ‘leave’ Judaism and identified themselves with Christ and his Church. [I put ‘leave’ in quotes because what actually happened was these Jewish converts to Christianity were simply receiving all that the prophets said- they did not see what they were doing as being unfaithful to their faith- they saw it as simply completing their journey].
But to know the context- the world in which these things took place- that helps us to see a little more into the story.
This past week I read Mark chapter 1 and John chapter 1. These chapters cover the ministry of John the Baptist. John was called ‘the Baptist’ because he was baptizing people in the river Jordan. How come we never read anyone saying ‘hey John- what the heck are you doing- this new rite of dunking people in the water’?
Well no one said it [as far as we know] because it was not a new rite [ritual]. During the rise of synagogue worship- and thus the rise of gentiles who wanted to join the ‘church’ on their block [non Jews who liked the readings and spiritual atmosphere of the synagogue] the Jewish people developed a type of Baptism that was used as a sort of entry rite [along with circumcision] to join their religion.
But the thing about John was he started using this rite as a means to call the Jewish people to repentance- this was a first of its kind.
So Johns Baptism said ‘you religious folk- you Jewish people- yes- you need to repent just like everyone else’. Yeah- John was a unique person- and his baptism was one of a kind.
Okay- that’s it for today- maybe try and read the chapters I mentioned above- do a little study on your own.
In this month’s issue of Christianity Today magazine they started a 5 year study on classic Christianity and it looks like it’s going to be very well done- something Protestants and Catholics would benefit from.
I have been reading this magazine for many years- and the last few years they have really taken a step up in their scholarship- maybe go on line and subscribe? You can also read the articles right from the computer.
I also read the Catholic Magazine called First Things- both of these are on my blog roll. First Things is top rate- but might get a little too ‘intellectual’ for first timers [don’t want to sound condescending here] they cover issues of Philosophy and Science form a Christian perspective- and they too have great stuff.
But I think the C.T. 5 year program that they are just starting might be the way to go for new learners- or ‘old’ learners- who want to brush up on the faith.
 JESUS FOR PRESIDENT?
Let’s try and cover a few current events. Obviously the media lost a major ‘player’ [source] of ‘news’ when Cain left the stage. And it only took them a few days before they attached on to Gingrich.
Christianne Amanpour [CNN] asked ‘do you think a twice divorced person can get the support he needs to be president’. This is not the first time I have heard this.
I think Newt is a smart guy- I’m not a big defender of any of these guys- but the hypocrisy of the media to keep asking this- as a major campaign question- is nuts.
Sure- he’s been divorced- we got that. Yet Edwards [John] actually fathered a child with a woman- while his wife was suffering from cancer [the same thing that Newt did] and the media did not think that story was relevant- they indeed knew about the thing.
It was only after the Enquirer actually got pictures of Edwards holding the kid- then the story broke.
So this obsession with Newt’s divorce- please.
Okay- the headline read ‘Woman in prison for being raped is pardoned’. Wow. Yes- this headline ran in a couple of my papers- right next to the name Afghanistan.
So- if you didn’t read the story- you would think that some woman got raped in the country- under those bad Taliban folk- and because we ‘liberated’ them- she's free.
Actually- that’s not the story. The woman was raped during the present regime- our guys [Karzai] and the courts made her a deal ‘if you marry the rapist- you go free’. She refused. She has been raising her daughter in jail- and Karzai made her the offer a 2nd time [how noble of him] and she married the rapist and she’s out.
The title should have been ‘Woman who was raped is forced to marry the S.O.B.’
Biden goes to the ancient city of Constantinople the other day [Modern day Istanbul- Turkey]. He’s having a meeting with a group of business people and young entrepreneurs that the president had launched a few years back.
In the meeting Biden stands up and gives this Joe Paterno like speech ‘way to go boys- we [Turkey and the U.S.] have come far in this liberating project of business- our success and democratic spirit have been a lynchpin for the Arab Spring….’ you know- Biden likes to talk a lot.
Right after he gave the sermon- one of the Turkish guys got up and slammed the West [us and Europe] for being a bunch of inept leaders- nations who spend more than they have like spoiled brats- and have no political courage to change course. Yeah Joe- you sure told them!
As we approach the end of the year- there are so many very serious world events taking place- events that will play a major role in our lives here in the U.S.
For the life of me- I can’t see how investors can be up on the market- even though some numbers are good- these other things are hanging right on the edge.
The Euro Zone is nowhere near being fixed- and the options are terrible. They will either have to jump in 100 % behind the Euro [which Germany and others will never do] or they split up.
The break up looks like it might happen- the odds are higher now than ever. Okay- if that happens- it will affect world markets- and many analysts fear it will cause us to go into another recession.
So- if these scenarios are possible [probable] then how can you have an optimistic overall outlook- economically speaking? Sure- you can hedge your bets and do well- I’m not saying we are all gonna die- but to be acting like we are on some boom market- that’s nuts.
During the time of Jesus you had a divided people. In 1st century Palestine the Jewish people split into 4 basic sects. 2 of them are pretty well known- the Pharisees and Sadducees- they are mentioned often in scripture.
The other 2 are less well known- the Zealots and the Essenes. The Zealots are named in the bible- but only in passing. We have no references to the Essenes.
The Pharisees were sticklers for the Torah [Jewish bible] and the Sadducees centered their life around the Temple- they were more of a political/religious type group.
They stuck to the Torah alone. That is they only received the actual first 5 books of the Old Testament- which is the Torah [also the term is used to speak of the entire Old Testament] and that’s why the Sadducees rejected miracles and angels and stuff. Most of those stories are found in the other O.T. books.
The Zealots were a group of people who hated compromise- they were actually a 1st century ‘terrorist’ group- who carried out assassinations. Not on Rome- but on their own people!
The zealots hated those who compromised with Rome- and if they felt a leader was too chummy- they killed him.
The Essenes were a separatist group who lived in ‘the hills’ [Qumran community] they simply gave up completely on any political solutions for the day- and went and lived in the hills. These are the ones responsible for hiding the Dead Sea scrolls [old bible books found in the last century] in a cave.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus had both a Zealot on his team [Simon- not Peter who also went by that name] and Matthew- a Tax collector. Tax collectors were considered the biggest sell outs of all- they actually worked for Rome and scammed their own people- it must have been hard for Jesus to lead this group [the 12 disciples] who came from such opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Yet Jesus did lead them- he was even offered earthly rule a few times [once from satan- and once from the people who heard him] he rejected it both times. His kingdom was not ‘of this world’.
In the New Testament book of Philippians- the bible says that though Jesus was in the form of God [deity] yet he became a man and humbled himself to the death of the Cross- a shameful way to die.
We have one letter written in the N.T. by a ‘family’ member of Jesus- that’s the epistle of James.
Protestants believe that Mary had other kids after Jesus was born- our Catholic friends teach that she remained a Virgin her whole life. My purpose right now is not to get into that.
James was considered the ‘half brother’ of Jesus [Mary was the mom of both boys- Joseph was the dad of James- Jesus’ father was God]. Okay- James was slow to believe in his brother- but over time as Jesus was declaring himself to be the Messiah- I’m sure James had to wonder- you know- think back ‘gee- come to think of it- I can’t’ remember a time where my brother got in trouble’.
Wait- now I remember- yeah- that time when Jesus was 12- we all went to Jerusalem for the big feast- and Jesus stayed behind while we started the trip home. Yeah- we went 3 days before we realized he was gone. Boy was mom mad that day.
So we went all the way back to get him- and when we found him- he was sitting in the temple- asking these questions- I mean questions that only theologians knew- Jesus was still a kid.
Mom said to him ‘son- why did you stay behind- we were worried’! Yeah- she was mad- if there was ever a time my brother came close to getting in trouble- this was it. But Jesus said ‘why were you worried- didn’t you know I would be doing my Fathers business’ yeah- he sure seemed different- but the Messiah- come on.
So as the ministry years of Jesus role by- there are all these reports of miracles and healings- blind people seeing- dead people coming back from the grave.
Yeah- James has got to be wondering now- but no- he could not accept that his own brother was the promised Son of God- no- too much.
Then the day came- that terrible day where mom had to watch Jesus die on that rugged Cross- on Golgotha- man the hill looked like a skull.
Yeah- it was a strange site- I mean the sky got dark- an earthquake shook the place- and even the Roman soldier who witnessed my brother die said ‘surely this was the son of God’. Wow- too much- my bother has carried this thing too far- even in his death he won’t let this obsession go.
Then James hears some disturbing reports- his friends are saying that Jesus has come back- that he pulled it off- the greatest miracle ever- the one Houdini himself couldn’t do.
But are the reports true? I mean if anyone could tell if this guy walking around is really Jesus- James would know.
We don’t read of the account- but all we know is James became a believer- a believer that his brother was indeed the Messiah- the Son of God.
I guess it went something like this- Jesus sitting there with his men- James shows up and sees his brother- the perfect one- not a spot on his record. Maybe Jesus looked up- maybe he said ‘brother- do you now see’ and yeah- he saw.
James would go on to be one of the leaders/Pastors of the church at Jerusalem- we read about him in Acts chapter 15. Most scholars believe this was the same James who penned the short letter we find in the N.T. that bears his name.
One thing James hits on a lot in his letter- is he defends the poor- the downtrodden- and he rips into the rich- the elite of the day. He warns us not to be biased- not to use ‘uneven scales’ when dealing with people.
James hit on social justice issues- he picked them up from his brother.
We need to be concerned about the world- if a raped woman is forced to marry her rapist- then we ought not say ‘she was pardoned’. When we critique one person for past failures- then we must do that to all.
But at the end of the day- Jesus never took the earthly crown- he did not see the solution to be a political one- he brought Simon and Matthew together on the same team- and he showed them what it means to lay your life down for others- to live without the praise of men- the earthly standard of success- he chose another way- and he left that path for us.
 HE BEING DEAD- YET SPEAKS [Hebrews chapter 11]
Okay- lets try and cover a few things today. First- should I now do the Mea Culpa? [last post]. Why did the DOW jump 500 points yesterday?
A few reasons- but the main one was that the ‘central banks’ kind of did a mini bail out of the European banks.
I use quotes for central banks- because the Federal Reserve of the U.S. usually spends the most on these Black Friday bargains given to other countries.
Sort of like when the news reports ‘10 NATO troops killed’- Yeah 9 of the 10 are usually us.
So even though there were some good economic numbers yesterday [new jobs- 200,000- housing sales up] yet the main reason for the jump was the Fed offered low interest loans to the European banks.
Now- why did this help? Or did it really Help?
Let me give a crude parable. Say if you lived on ‘Uncle Bennie’s’ block [Ben Bernanke- Fed. Chairman]. And everybody knew that uncle Benny was loaded.
Then a few houses down you have Pedro [or Mike- don’t want my Mexican buddies to get mad!] And Pedro has a drug habit- he likes the Cocaine a little too much.
Now- 2 more doors down you have the main drug dealer in town. The dealer knows that Christmas is right around the corner and he needs some money for the family- but Pedro has already sold momma’s 400 dollars worth of food stamps [or used the Lone Star card to by some meat and sold it at half price- happens every day!]
So the dealer is not sure how much stuff he should ‘purchase’ on his next trip to Mexico. I mean if Pedro has no cash- then the dealer might want to skip the monthly purchase.
But wait- uncle Benny is in the Christmas mood- and he gives Pedro some cash- sure he tells Pedro ‘you will pay me back wont you’ Oh yeah Benny- you know me.
Of course Benny will never see the cash again- but the dealer thinks ‘damn- Pedro’s got some cash- might as well make the monthly purchase’ and yeah- the DOW shot up.
Crude- sure- but the DOW- which simply represents the present mood of business- if they think that some big purchasers- like Europe- just got some cash- well like the dealer- they know that the sales will be up- even if only temporary- but the odds are that Pedro will buy the goods- not fix the roof!
So- in that sense- the market was happy. But uncle Benny really didn’t fix anything- in fact- in some people’s eyes he made it worse.
Pedro’s family thinks ‘damn Benny- Pedro was strapped for cash- we were hoping he would think things thru and turn his life around- but you just prolonged the addiction’!
So Benny really didn’t fix anything- he just gave some compulsive spenders some spending money.
So- if I were in the market right now [like at 4 a.m. as I write] I would sell as soon as it opens today- because the ‘rent is too damn high’ [remember that Black guy running for office a few months ago?]
Okay- let me get something a little spiritual in here. I have been getting with the ‘Pedro’s’ of the world these last few weeks- and the other day a funny thing happened. I was at the homeless mission where the guys show up at around lunch time- that’s where I have met most of the street guys over the years.
So as I’m sitting there with Henry- someone says ‘wow- there's Roger- I haven’t seen him in years’. I couldn’t believe my eyes- yeah- it was Roger.
Roger was/is a good friend- met him years ago when handing out some blankets and jackets to the guys on a cold night. I have known Roger for 25 years- we are good friends.
But around 3 years ago Roger got arrested [happened a lot] he was drunk- walked into the grocery store and told a cop ‘I’m gonna kill you’. Got sent to prison for that one.
So about 2 years ago Henry told me ‘John- got some bad news- Roger died in jail’. So I felt bad- lost a good friend. So- for the past 2 years I thought he went ‘home’. Now- here's where it gets interesting- this past Sunday as I was praying for the crowd- Roger pops into my mind.
Now- this has happened with friends who have died- and I have started taking it seriously- like in a way they are part of the brotherhood- some alive- others dead- but still alive with the Lord.
So when a dead buddy pops into my mind- I pray for/with him. So I kinda prayed ‘Lord- in whatever way this works- use Roger as a sort of Elder/Pastor for this old group of Corpus Christi bums’- and I left it at that.
I even wrote his name on my prayer wall- and kind of ‘ordained’ him as a spiritual brother who is in the group- though I ‘knew’ he was dead.
And it was only a day or 2 later that he showed up!
So I realized the lord was bringing him to my mind because he would be back on the streets soon. Now- as I’m still shocked at seeing Roger- you know- I yelled ‘hey Roger- I thought you were dead’. He came over and had a good talk.
And someone yells ‘wow- there’s Buck’ what? Yeah- I thought Buck died too. Been gone for around the same time- and Henry told me Buck died.
Now- as I’m sitting there- kinda laughing about the whole thing- saying ‘wow- I heard you guys died’. I am realizing that the main Obituary informer was Henry- yeah- he’s the brother that’s been feeding me the scoop.
I even told my daughter that I actually posted notes on the Blog when the guys ‘died’- sort of like little memorial things- man- that’s bad.
So I started to realize that Henry is not the most reliable news source when it comes to death notices.
And as I’m thinking this thru- I realize that Henry told me Old Vern kicked the bucket about 2 months ago. Vern ‘was’ not homeless- he was sort of a street preacher who used to help the guys. I’m now starting to wonder whether Vern is alive and well.
Yeah- Henrys a good buddy- but I fear I will run into some of the old crowd one day- and the first thing they will say is ‘wow John- we heard you died’.
 COMMUNITY CHEST
Okay- we have come off of a pretty hectic week- the market shook and raddled last week. About midweek I was ready to do a Mea Culpa [sort of]. I mean financial advice is like talking religion and politics- once you state your claim- it’s very hard to admit you might have gotten it wrong.
But last week I watched the Kudlow Report for a few minutes while channel surfing- and to my surprise he was talking the economy [and market] up.
Kudlow is usually a straight shooter- and he was saying the 4th quarter [last 3 months of U.S. economic numbers] might see a 3.5 or maybe even 4 % rise.
For the life of me- I thought he was wrong- but he does know more than me- so I was gonna do the Mea Culpa. Then [I think the next day?] those wonderful Euro Zone folks decided to sell some bonds [Germany] and lo and behold- they couldn’t get enough buyers so they shut down the auction.
Yeah- for Germany- considered the ‘most stable’ of the Euro Zone crowd- for them to have had trouble like this- that’s a bad sign.
The credit rating agencies already dropped the ratings for Portugal and Hungary to Junk status.
The reports came out that showed that the world’s major banks are all preparing for a Eurozone breakup- even U.S. regulators are telling our big banks [Citigroup] to lower their risk in the Euro Zone bond funds.
So all in all- the DOW dropped 4.8% for the week- the worst one week drop in 2 months- and I didn’t have to swallow the crow after all.
Okay- then why did the market jump back up another 200 or so points yesterday?
To be honest- there really was no good reason in my view. We came off of a jump in Black Friday sales- I think they sold 16 % more than usual- which of course is always a good sign when consumers are ‘consuming’.
But why did we see the jump? Please- please- let’s not all be Lemmings [you know- following the lead guy off the cliff]. Every year companies do the ‘Black Friday’ thing- which gets its name from- well doing great deals on the Friday after Turkey day.
Why the name? Oh- maybe because they used to only do it on Friday- you think?
Now- say if ‘every day’ was a Black Friday- say if we just did Black Friday all the time- would there be a huge jump in consumer spending? Heck yeah!
So why don’t we do it all the time? Because we would all go bankrupt [the businesses] and end up being permanent Zuccotti park occupiers.
So to make it simple- the numbers were up- because they started Black Friday early- like on Thursday!
Oh- the tangled webs we weave.
Those of you who remember- a couple years back the president and congress passed some big spending deals- for consumers.
They did special tax breaks for 1st time homebuyers- they did special deals for trading in your ‘clunker’ and getting a new car [Cash for Clunkers]. They even gave you money to buy Green Appliances [energy savers- not Retro looking!].
When they did this- well of course home/car sales went up- because you were giving people ‘free money’ to buy stuff.
Now- when the numbers came in- some Dems said ‘lets just keep doing it- after all- its working’ and the Repubs shut the thing down.
What was ‘working’? Well- when you give free money out- or do Black Friday ever day- yes- the numbers will look good.
But these types of ‘numbers’ are fake numbers- their based on skewed data- I mean doing these programs every so often can help some- sure- give me a great deal on some crappy car trade in- okay- I’ll buy a car.
But what happened the next year? Both car and home sales suffered- because these deals didn’t bring ‘new money’ in- they just moved up those who were going to purchase anyway- but they made the purchase while the deal was going on- and the economy- and housing markets- well they still took the hit- it was just delayed.
Now- to the real cynical folk out there- like you guys who can’t see that Herman Cain is an innocent man! [ Fine and Sandusky Too!] yes- to you nay sayers- it might just look like some politicians would love to keep giving away THE ‘FREE MONEY’ BECAUSE IT WOULD MAKE THEIR NUMBERS LOOK BETTER FOR RE ELECTION.
And so the game goes on- it never ends.
During the years called the Intertestamental period [around 400 years B.C. to the time of Christ] the Jewish people suffered lots. During their captivities they eventually lost their Temple and wound up living in a ‘strange land’.
It was at this time that the Synagogues were invented- these ‘church buildings’ were not the temple- they had no sacrifices or other priestly ceremonies- they were literally named after a word that meant ‘House of Study’.
This word is the same word used for the Israeli legislature today- Knesset.
During the time of Christ these synagogues were places where the Jewish people captured/retained their culture- while being ruled by Rome.
In the Synagogue you had 2 ‘offering plates’. One was called The Dish- this was the offering for the poor- those who needed short term help- this went to them.
Then you had what was called The Chest. This was the ‘plate’ used for more long term type help- sort of like a welfare thing.
We also see in the writings of the New Testament that giving to the poor- helping those in need- is a very noble [and mandated!] thing.
But when we see ‘free money’ that is ‘robbing from the rich to give to the poor’ as a last resort type thing- well then we are using the principle in a wrong way.
I read one article on why the Italian debt crisis [very bad as well] was not ‘seen’ as bad as a country like France [who is on the verge of getting downgraded too- geez- if they are having so much financial trouble- maybe Sarkozy should cut back a little on all these ‘mini Bush’ military ventures?]
They said even though the Italian debt crisis is real- yet outside observers know that many Italians are well off- they have saved and invested- and if worse comes to worse- they will just tax the wealthy.
For major outside observers to be thinking this- to be hedging their bets on the private money being ‘taken’ to cover the debt- that’s bad.
That’s the same language we are now seeing in our country ‘pay your fair share- flying those corporate jets- you rich S.O.B.’s!
Yes- these are all signs of the times we are in.
I have been out of the market for many years- and those who are ‘in’ most of you lost some over this last decade- and some lost a lot.
I’m not sure what the next decade holds- but if you put some money in The Dish- or The Chest [which is where we get the term Community Chest] then I think you will have spent some money well- but if you simply see investing thru the lens of how much you will get back- then I think many of you are in for a surprise.
 News and Philosophy
I want to try and cover a few subjects today- let’s start with some current world news. Yesterday I read an AP story about some cops who poured gas on the tents of the protestors- they then set them on fire.
13 protestors died- 100’s were burned severely. The doctors set up outside E.R. areas to treat the wounded. The cops walked in to the areas and shot people- right there.
I read a report where one of the doctors said he was shocked- he has never seen this happen before.
‘Now John- you shouldn’t make stuff up like this- even for a point!’
I’m not making it up- this did happen the past 2 days- in Zuccotti Park? In Oakland? No- in Tahrir square- Egypt.
The people who did this- the ruling military generals- are the people we ‘put’ in charge- by demanding the ouster of Mubarak- the former ‘king’.
Let’s head directly west on this northern tip of the African continent. Libya.
On the same news page- they had a story about the capture of Seif- Gadhaffi’s most famous son. They caught him trying to cross the Libyan border into Niger. The same place Gadhaffi’s wife fled to earlier in the conflict.
His wife was about 7 months pregnant and she fled to save her unborn child. The ‘new leaders’ that have our support- they wanted her back in Libya- to stand ‘trial’ for crimes against humanity [they would have killed her!].
So the other day they caught the son. The rebel faction that caught him will not turn him over to the ‘transitional government’ in Tripoli [the capitol] because they want to try him themselves [there is absolutely no order in Libya].
Now- the son- like the dad- has been indicted on ‘crimes against humanity’ by the world Court in The Hague.
These ‘indictments’ are tools the U.S. and other NATO allies use to justify going after one bad guy [and his wife and kids] while installing other bad guys- who are often just as bad- or actually worse!
So this puppet court has the kid indicted. The puppet govt. in the capitol of Tripoli has said ‘the world court is a secondary court- we do not recognize you’!
So the actual leaders- THE ONES WE BACKED- are saying ‘screw you world court- we will try the kid ourselves’. And the faction that caught the kid is saying ‘screw you leaders in Tripoli- we will try him here- in our region’ and the U.S. [and Fahreed Zakariah- a CNN talking head] have said ‘look how wonderful Obama has handled Libya and Egypt- not like Bush’.
Wonderful? Burning protestors to death- ruling Libya like some back water Mexican drug cartel? This thing is sad- and our involvement in it is even sadder.
Okay- let’s try and transition a bit.
In the last Philosophy post I hit on the 10th-14th century development of modern thought- today I want to jump into the 16th-18th centuries. Like I said in a previous post- after the Renaissance and the Reformation and the great scientific revolution- you had the world in somewhat of a tailspin.
What I mean is for hundreds of years people trusted in the old institutions [like the Catholic Church] to tell them what was true or false- then with the development of all these modern movements people began questioning stuff.
Was it good to question things? Sure. But some challenged the very foundations of thought and knowing [called Epistemology] and went a bit too far.
Some thinkers went back to the thought of Plato [400 years BC] and said that the mind is the main source of all knowledge- these were the 17th century Rationalists.
Rationalism- as a philosophy- was an outgrowth of all the great strides that man was making in all these other areas of life. The Scientific Revolution totally challenged the age old beliefs of many in the church.
Math became a sort of new ‘god’. How so? As science invented the Microscope and Telescope- man was able for the first time to peer deeply into the heavens- and to see deeply into the microscopic world.
As the great minds [Copernicus] showed us that the Universe was different than what we thought [Heliocentric versus Geocentric] man was able to do mathematical calculations and to say that a specific planet or star [or Comet] would show up at an exact date- or spot- and Walla- it would happen [you could look thru the Telescope and sure enough the math was right- the object that was calculated to be there- was.]
These calculations were mathematical formulas- so math began to be seen as the new religion in many ways.
There are even some thinkers in the modern day that still say the only ‘real truth’ that exists is mathematical formulas. Yeah- one guy wrote an entire book on the subject- the problem? Well- his book was not written in math- but words.
Yes- even the extreme deniers of Objective truth do make mistakes.
Now- what’s wrong with rationalism? Of course being rational is okay- but the philosophy itself denied real Objective truth. Truth that corresponds to some other ‘outside’ reality.
This form of thinking [rejecting outside reality] is called Relativism/Subjectivism. While there is some truth to all the various fields of thought- yet extreme Relativism denies ‘reality’ as most of us understand the term. There was a strong resistance to the 17th century rationalists- we call this Philosophy Empiricism.
The main thinker in this field was John Locke. Locke lived most of his life in the 17th century- but his thought laid the foundation for the 18th century Empiricist.
This philosophy says that the mind does indeed play a major role in the knowledge of things- but this knowledge does not originate in the mind [Plato] but in the ‘thing’ itself [Aristotle- remember when we covered these men? Plato was an idealist- Ideas were more real than matter. Aristotle was a Realist- closer to the thought of Locke].
Locke developed a theory called the Correspondence theory- that truth that the Mind discovers corresponds to real things that actually exist apart from the mind.
Locke was a practicing doctor- and most of the other thinkers of the day had room to speculate about reality in a way that Locke could not.
He lived in a real world with real patients who had real symptoms- in a nutshell Locke had to diagnose his patients based on his findings- he could not deny that there was a real problem- he had to have his ‘feet on the ground’ [based in reality] while engaging with his head up high.
Okay- I think we’ll end with this. Maybe you can go back and read some of my previous posts on this subject- just to become a little more familiar with it.
As Christians- we are not ‘required’ to know Philosophy- or current events- or science- but it helps us engage the culture when we do educate ourselves in these areas.
Go slow in learning [not too slow!] and try and see how the Christian Worldview agrees with- or rejects certain aspects of these different felids of thought.
Most Christians would reject Rationalism as a Philosophy- because it denies real objective truth- it says truth is relative- whatever the mind can conceive- or think- can be defined as truth [Unicorns?]
Biblical truth is based on real historic events- 1st Corinthians chapter 15 says that if we deny the physical resurrection of Christ- a real event- then our faith is in vain.
Christians base their faith on a real historic event- not simply on a belief system.
 IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
A few months back I caught a good movie- In the Valley of Elah [you know- one of those titles that makes no sense!]. But overall the movie was good.
It starred Tommy Lee Jones [Gore’s old roommate] and it was on Gore’s Liberal channel- Current TV.
The movie was about an Iraqi soldier who survived the war but was killed in mysterious circumstances when he came back to be stationed in the states.
I won’t blow the ending- but it took some twists and turns and the final scene is quite offensive [nothing dirty- but if you watch- you’ll see what I mean].
Anyway- don’t know why I went there.
Okay- lets finish the week with one more teaching from Jesus. The last few days I focused a little on the main idea of the New Covenant versus the Old law. Basically- we as believers are saved- accepted with God- not because we try to keep the law- [Old Covenant] but because Christ died for us and rose again [New Covenant].
In Jesus short teachings- he hits on this a lot.
In Marks gospel- chapter 2- Jesus gives us a few examples. He says no one takes ‘New Wine’ and puts it into Old Bottles [New covenant won’t fit with a legalistic mindset]. And no one takes a new piece of cloth and uses it to patch up the old.
Then we see another one of those examples where Jesus is confronted by the religious crowd [Pharisees] and once again he wins the day [he always does!].
He’s walking with the disciples and as they go thru the fields they pick some corn [grain] and eat it. Got ya! It was the Sabbath day- and the religious leaders jumped all over him ‘why are your guys breaking the rules!’
‘The rules’ were the Old laws that said you couldn’t ‘work’ on the Sabbath. Okay- could you pick some corn and eat on the Sabbath? Sure. But these guys were the type that were super picky about everything- always looking to ‘catch you’. So they ‘caught Jesus’ [they thought] and waited for the response.
Now- Jesus tells them ‘don’t you guys read your bibles! Haven’t you ever read the story in the bible when King David was on the run from King Saul and he ate the holy bread that was only for the priests’?
This story is found in 1st Samuel chapter 21. David [not king yet] is fleeing from Saul and he stops at ‘the house of God’ and tells the priest ‘I’m on a secret mission from Saul- we left fast- we have no food or even weapons- can you give a guy a hand’. Now- David- like a good Christian- is making the whole thing up!
The priest kinda thinks something’s up- but he takes the bait and tells David ‘all I have is the holy bread- but that’s only for the priests’. So he takes the bread and he and his men eat it.
Jesus says ‘see- David ‘broke the law’ [ceremonial rule] and he was still doing God’s will’. Ah- Jesus sure knew how to shut those Pharisees up.
I have taught this before- and there really is a lot of significant things to cover in this teaching- for now- understand that what David did here [and later] was indeed something only priests could do.
And in the Old Testament when kings ‘acted’ like priests- they got in trouble! But David does a lot of things that priest’s do- and gets away with it. Later in the life of David he will set up what’s called The Tabernacle of David- and he will put on a Linen Ephod [priests garment] and indeed act like a priest.
All this points to the reality that King David was a type/symbol of Christ- who too is a priest and king.
And Jesus comes from the earthly genealogy of King David.
So- in a way- when he uses this example to refute the Pharisees- he is saying ‘I’m the new David- and just like King David and his men had priestly/royal privileges- so too me and my men share the same grace’.
This teaching is pretty good to be honest- but that’s not today’s point.
Oh- one more thing. As David is leaving- he asks the priest ‘do you have any weapons for us- we left so fast on this special assignment we didn’t have time to take our weapons’. Man- the way these guys lied in the bible- they make Cain and Sandusky look like altar boys!
The priest says ‘gee Dave- all I have here is the sword you killed the giant with- remember?’ Ah- the good old days.
Sure David remembers- we all do. When David was just a kid- he went out one day and did a ‘mans’ job. The giant Goliath was challenging the children of Israel day after day ‘hey you guys- don’t you have a warrior who can take me on- what- you all chicken’?
Man- day after day he made the challenge- and no one had the guts to take him up on the offer.
So little David hears the challenge and says ‘who is this guy to talk like that- I’ll kill him like a killed the bear [or lion? I forget off hand like this!] When I was protecting the sheep’.
And King Saul says ‘what the heck- go for it kid’. Well- David goes out and you know the rest of the story- he hits Goliath in the head with a stone from his sling- and walks up to him and takes his sword and pulls a Taliban move- the head comes off.
So- this is the sword the priest still has as a famous relic- everyone knew about the exploits of David.
Oh yea- the priest says ‘David- here’s the sword- the one you used to kill the giant- in the VALLEY OF ELAH’.
Yeah- the day we sent kids out because the men were too irresponsible to act like men- yeah- the Valley of Elah- guess it had a meaning after all.
 2ND MILE
This week most of us have been re introduced to this phrase- in a bad way. It’s the name of the nonprofit ministry that Jerry Sandusky started to help children.
We now think that he used it in a way to groom kids [that’s the accusation].
Where does the term come from? We find it in the Sermon on the Mount- yes- it’s a famous phrase from the lips of Christ.
In Matt. Chap. 5 Jesus says ‘if you are forced to go one mile- go 2 instead’. We use this term a lot in our day- like many other terms- we don’t realize that they are from the bible.
What was Jesus teaching us from this little verse? Actually- he simply said ‘do more than what’s required’. But I like to take it a little further.
In the time of Jesus the Roman soldiers had this special privilege- you know- the 1% versus the 99. If a soldier was walking thru town- under Roman law- he could require you to carry his pack- 1 mile.
Now- the people of Jesus day- they were very much like the 99% ‘hell- who are you to shove your rules on us!’ So they devised this plan- where you had these mile markers all over town. And when the ‘man’ made you carry the pack- heck- they dropped it right at the mile marker ‘screw you corporate S.O.B.’s!’
Now- Jesus tells his people ‘once you hit the mile mark- do a second one’. What? Are you kidding me Jesus- don’t you realize how Rome has treated us- they are bad people Jesus- they think they can tell us what to do.
In the short teachings of Jesus- there are lots of deep truths- often you need to spend some time thinking about them before you come up with the ‘rest of the story’.
One of the main things in Christ’s teachings is the theme of the 2nd covenant- the covenant of grace that is founded on the Cross.
In the first recorded miracle- the marriage at Cana- where Jesus turns the water into wine- at the end of the party they say ‘wow- most people put out the good wine first- but you have saved the best for last’.
This was Jesus way of saying the 2nd covenant- the grace of the Cross- is better than the first covenant- which was the law.
Now- in the 2nd mile- what happened? The guy carrying the soldier’s pack- he still lived up to all the requirements of the law- and more- but after he hit the 2nd mile- a strange thing happened.
All of a sudden he’s now in charge. I mean the soldier [law] is still there [Jesus never did away with the requirement to obey Gods law] but the law [soldier] was no longer a compelling figure- a ruler who ruled with a rod of iron. No- in the 2nd mile you are obeying- carrying the pack- because you want to- it’s part of your new nature.
Yeah- in the 2nd mile- you’re drunk on the ‘new wine’.
I find it ironic that one of the main criticisms of the way Penn state has handled this whole sad story- is that they [Paterno and the school] never went ‘the 2nd mile’ in dealing with the accusations against one of their won.
Paterno and others fulfilled the actual requirement under state law- they reported the thing to their superiors- yet they were not required to go to the police- and they didn’t.
That’s the charge against them today ‘you should have gone that 2nd mile’.
It is a problem the state will need to fix- and the fallout is sad- though I’m not a college football fan- yet Paterno was/is a legend- and it is sad for him to end like this.
Sometimes we live in a sort of Bizarro world- we see things on the tube and depending on which news show you’re watching- you get another completely different spin on the thing.
Yesterday evening Bloomberg [Mayor of N.Y.] had the cops raid the camps in Zucotti Park. As I watched the talking heads give their spin- on the liberal channels- well they made it sound like the days of Bull Conner.
The protestors set up their own little ‘Library’ in the street. They had a tent with thousands of books- okay- I thought it looked cool to be honest. They even had a system where people could check out the books.
So Bloomberg’s ‘squad’ took all the books. MSNBC [and Gores channel- current TV] had the ‘librarians’ on. Yes- the guy who ran the book tent. But they made it sound like the cops raided a real library ‘they came in and took our books- without checking them out!’ and one guy said ‘plus- they took our computers- we don’t lend the computers out!’
Look- I feel for the guys- but if you set up a ‘library’ in the middle of town- outside- well your not really a library- and if you live in the street with the books- well you’re not a librarian!
Okay- don’t want to be mean- just realistic.
Okay- Jerry Sandusky seems to have done some really bad things- and if all these accusations are true- well he will go to jail for the rest of his life. And like Paterno said the night the students showed up at this house to support him- he said they are going to pray for the kids and families.
I don’t know if Sandusky started his program to simply groom kids to molest them- if he did- then he will pay. But the principle- going the 2nd mile- it comes from Jesus- and he taught us that when we are in grace- in the ‘2nd mile’ we will do our duty- and more.
Not because ‘we have to’ but because we want to. Yeah- the 2nd mile is a good thing- we should all try it someday.
 Where’s the oil?
Let’s cover a parable of Jesus. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of the 10 virgins who went to meet the bridegroom. 5 were wise- 5 were foolish. The wise ones took containers of oil with their lamps. The foolish ones took lamps- but no oil.
All the virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to return [Jesus] and as the wait went long- they all fell asleep.
Then at midnight the bridegroom came back- and they all awoke. The virgins who took no oil asked the ones who had oil ‘can you give us some’ they were told ‘no- but you go buy some too- like we did’ and as they went to buy- the bridegroom took the ones who were ready- they went into the feast and the door was shut.
The ‘no oil’ crowd missed out.
Okay- what does this mean? Well- if you have lamps at the house you need to…- Well maybe there’s a little more to it than that.
When we read the parables of Jesus- the most important thing [in my view] needed to understand them is the context. I have heard many good teachings over the years- on all the parables- and lot of times the preachers/Christians ‘place’ them in the context of ‘current church’.
Maybe the parable of the sower- they’ll struggle with ‘okay- is this group ‘saved’ or what about these who endure to the end’. While of course it is true that we can apply the parables to modern life- most of the times when we approach them with the mindset that Jesus is speaking specifically about ‘your church’ or church group- well then I think we miss the main meaning.
Having said all that- I think I will ‘apply’ this one to some current events of the day. But first- Jesus is basically telling his audience- the Jewish nation- that many people will think they are ready for his return and they will find out- too late- that they were not really ready- no oil.
As a ‘teacher’ who likes to teach all Christians- Catholic, Protestant- etc. What I try to do is present both sides of the issue. I also strive to teach from ‘a storehouse’ of oil- I make an attempt to be familiar with the current trends in Theology- hear/read what the scholars are saying- and to also have a background on the history of the various churches.
Then- when doing the teaching- I try to be honest- and fair. If I have a particular point of view- or a way I think the text should be taught- or what the ‘right’ doctrine is- I will share it from that point of view.
But it would also be unfair to use the years of study- and then ‘blast’ another denominations adherents- fully realizing that the average church attendee probably does not have the same background info that I’m familiar with.
So it’s important to teach from ‘a storehouse’ while at the same time not using the storehouse to simply prove your point.
Okay- Over the years I have bought tons of books- and as time went by- I had to eventually make room for this collection. Though I have a huge wall in my study just for books- yet I still ran out of room. So one day I packed up all the ‘less valuable’ books- and off they went to the half price book store.
I kind of reminisced as I went thru the process of ‘should I dump this one’ or should I hold on to it. A lot of the titles were silly- things like ‘when your money system fails’ or stuff like the mark of the beast- or more practical titles like ‘flying higher’ or ‘improve your serve’.
All well meaning books/authors- who for whatever reason woke up one day- had a ‘thought’ and off to the printing press they went.
Okay- storehouse? No. Well meaning? Yes. But a storehouse [operating out of years of good learning] no.
Now- I don’t want to be too mean here- there are times where a book- or teaching that is simple can speak to people. Jesus parables were indeed short stories that were simple- people could remember them- not like a long theological treatise from the great apostle Paul [Romans] where you learn from hard study- but Jesus style was indeed short- and sweet.
Plus- it’s easy to remember the moral of the story- without banging your head up against some heavy doctrine.
Yet- heavy doctrine plays its role as well.
Now- most contemporary teaching- like going to church on Sunday-most of it today springs from this ‘I’ll take my lamp and I will see what we got for this week’. You know- you wake up on Monday- kind of go thru the week [talking pastors here- which I did myself for a few years] and you ‘come up’ with something for Sunday.
Sometimes you come up with something good- sometimes not so good. Often times you’re simply going from week to week- sort of like my bookshelf- listening/reading stuff- well meaning stuff- but just stuff.
I mean an entire book on ‘flying higher’. Yeah- I still remember it. A well meaning pastor- but the whole book was based on how one day a friend told him about how pilots use a certain technique when they fly- and Walla- a book!
Or another title form a very famous preacher of the day- ‘how I lost 30 pounds’ [I think it was 30? But who really cares!]
Say if you went to college- and as you arrived at the class- your professor said ‘okay- this week we will cover [math- or whatever subject]’ and he went on and taught an entire lesson from some sign he saw while driving to the school [you know- a literal sign that said ‘2 plus 2 is 4’].
You would think to yourself ‘geez- at this rate- I will never really get an education’ and you would be right.
So why do believers think its okay to learn the faith like this?
The bible commands us to be childlike in faith- that is to be like a child when approaching God- as our Father. But the bible also says to be mature when it comes to our understanding ‘in understanding be men’ [Apostle Paul].
Wherever you are at today on your journey- I want to encourage you to ‘clean out the book shelf’ don’t live with a ‘lamp only’ mentality- that is you show up at the party with a lamp [some gift/tool that might be a good tool- like writing a book- or preaching a sermon] but a lamp is only effective if it comes with a container- a container that has some oil to ‘back it up’.
I fear that too many of us are showing up at the party- we have waited a long time for the groom to come back- and we realize too late that we spent a whole lot of time perfecting our ‘lamp skills’ and the important stuff [oil] is missing.
 I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE ‘WORD TALKERS’
Caught the debate last night- didn’t go to well for my gov. I mean I still thought he had a fighting chance- not any more. I mean even Cain started looking good compared to Perry.
When Perry could not remember the 3rd govt. dept. that he wanted to shut down- that was it. Even Ron Paul tried to throw him a lifeline ‘the E.P.A.’ Yeah- that’s the one! I even guessed ‘maybe he means the energy dept.’ [you know- that’s always been kind of a joke- like having a ‘sky dept.’].
Sure enough- the next time Perry ‘spoke’ that was the one.
I read a Conan joke the other day- he was mocking Perry because he was going to start skipping the debates- he said Perry’s excuse was he was not a skilled debater- you know- he wasn’t one of those ‘word talkers’ yeah- guess he’s right.
I went thru a few news articles the other day- when I read the papers during the week I cut the articles out that I think are important- and then in the morning before I post I’ll look them over to see what looks relevant.
Out of the 2 I saved- one was on a possible looming crisis in Italy. Sure enough- yesterday everything hit the fan.
The reason the stocks took a big hit was out of fear that the European debt crisis might spread to Italy. Italy has a big economy- not like Greece. The main reason Greece was important- was that many observers feared that if Greece went bankrupt- that the ‘contagion’ might spread to the other Euro Zone nations- like Italy- and that would be bad- very bad.
Well- that looks like what might be happening. Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio is 144 %- not good. Italy is at around 120%- not as bad- but still not good. This coming year they have about half a trillion dollars coming to maturity [bonds they must pay out on] and they owe 2.6 trillion [not like our 14 trillion- but for the size of their nation- it’s a lot].
So the interest rate just went up for Italy- it will now cost more for them to borrow- and when you’re paying a little over 7 % on 2.6 trillion- well that hurts.
Italian bonds are not like Greek bonds- Italian bonds are in all of the big banks that we are familiar with- many of our investments are in the same banks that hold Italian debt- so if Italy goes bust- that’s a huge problem- that will indeed drag the U.S. down.
I mean Greece already seems to be a lost cause- even their own people are pulling all their money out of the Greek banks and putting it in Swiss banks. Geez- if your own citizens don’t trust you- forget the other nations bailing you out.
I find it funny [sad] that a few weeks ago- Fahreed Zakariah [a CNN guy] was mocking the Tea Party crowd- because he said that the Europeans were handling their debt crisis well- like adults- and that even the Europeans were saying ‘geez- cant you be mature like us- you stupid Tea party Repubs’!
He said it in the same mocking way that Martin Bashir [I think they are both Brits? I know they of course are both foreigners] made an on air accusation the other day. I mean- it was bad. Bashir said a certain Repub referred to injured Iraqi war vets as injured ‘dogs’.
Now- for the life of me- I could not imagine this charge to be true. Then I heard the rest of the story. Some Repub said the occupy protestors were leaving a huge mess at the camps- ‘like dogs’.
And Bashir applied this to the Iraqi war vet. who was hit with a gas canister in Oakland- so yes- this Iraq war vet was a wounded protestor. But to then go on national TV and say that Repubs are referring to wounded Iraqi war vets as wounded dogs- I think this network [MSNBC] is very dangerous for the country.
We need to hear both sides of all arguments- but this stuff is incendiary.
Being I already mentioned Italy- let me finish with some history/philosophy that might be relevant.
In the last post I mentioned saint Thomas Aquinas- and after Augustine [and Anselm- 11th century] he is the next main character I wanted to cover [in our ongoing philosophy study].
Aquinas is referred to as the Doctor Angelicas [angelic doctor] by the catholic church. Aquinas lived during the time of a cultural/philosophical reawakening that was beginning to take place in the Western world- the Renaissance.
Renaissance means ‘re-birth’. It was a rebirth of the ancient Poets and philosophers of days gone by. Men like Cicero and Aristotle were once again brought to the fore front of many thinkers and lovers of culture.
The catch phrase for the Renaissance was Ad Fontes- which meant ‘back to the sources’ [source- Fountain- Fontes]. In the 14th century a famous and influential Catholic family- the Medici’s- were a catalyst for mixing this cultural movement in with the church.
The Renaissance sort of challenged the historic view of education- up until this time most learning was done thru the prism of the church. In the universities of the day Theology [study of God] was called the Queen of the sciences- and philosophy was referred to as her Handmaiden.
Well the Renaissance thinkers said they wanted to study things for what they are- they did not want to see everything thru the lens of the church.
Eventually the theme of the movement [back to the original sources] would play a major role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Men like Erasmus [the famous 16th century Catholic Humanist] would re discover the original Greek New testament- and it was thru the study of the Greek text that many of the Reformers made their case to get ‘back to the bible’ and eventually break from Rome.
This was also the beginning period of modern capitalism. Recently when Libya had her ‘civil war’ and the new leaders started talking about a new constitution- one of the interesting things that came up was they wanted to do away with interest on loans.
Why? Well Muslims teach that interest itself is a bad thing. ‘Gee- wonder where they get that idea from John’ Oh- from a little book- called the bible.
Yes- to the surprise of some- this is very much taught in the Old Testament. Now- it was God’s law governing the nation of Israel- but they were forbidden to charge interest.
‘So John- is it wrong for us today to make interest’? Not really- Jesus used interest [usury] as an example in some of his parables- and overall- we as believers are not under the Old Testament laws that govern natural Israel.
But- for many centuries- the world did not see interest on money as a legitimate way to earn a living. So during the Renaissance you also had the rise of exploration- and explorers like Columbus would go on their voyages with the financial backing of investors.
The normal rate for these voyages was a 75/25% cut. When the explorer returned- the investor [Spain- or whoever] got 75% of the goods- and the explorer kept 25.
So there were a lot of changes taking place in the world at the time- and the rise of modern capitalism was one of them- money of course existed way before this time- but as a commodity- this was a new way of viewing the world.
Okay- just thought I would throw in a little history along with the current events of the day. As we see the current turmoil in the Italian markets [the original renaissance started in Florence- Italy] maybe seeing money/interest as a commodity- and ‘usury’ as a major way to increase ones wealth- well maybe that’s not such a smart way to do things after all.
When Jon Corzine's global investment firm went bust the other day- it was a direct result of taking a gamble on the ‘gullibility’ of the common man.
What his firm did was they took a huge risk by investing in European bonds- bonds from Greece that everyone knew was a terrible 'bet’. Then why did he do it?
The risk was so high- that the interest [usury] on the bonds was also high- you would make lots of money- if you got your money back.
But how would you get the money back- if the company [or nation- or bank] is in such bad shape that they might go bust? Your basically betting that the other nations around them [and the 1% crowd] would never let this happen [too big to fail] and when the nation [or company] gets ‘bailed out’ well then you get the money back- at a huge gain- all at the expense of the ‘99’ %.
‘Gee John- that doesn’t seem right to me’. That doesn’t seem right to me either- and to the legitimate ‘occupy Wall st. guys’ that’s not right to them as well.
Basically Corzine did the exact same thing that the big banks did during our 2008 bail out crisis- the banks can’t do that anymore- we did pass regulations that forbid this. But private investment firms can- they take a risk if they do- but that’s their choice.
Corzine took the risk- and lost [besides the fact the there is also about 600 million dollars ‘missing’ from private investors money!].
Okay- that’s it for now. We will keep an eye on Italy for the next few days [Germany is already talking about bailing out of the Euro Zone] and if things keep going downhill like this- well we might all be better off if we moved our money into less interest bearing accounts- safe places to ‘park’ your money- and after the dust settles- then maybe get back into the market.
But right now- I would trust getting a bigger return from a Columbus voyage than the market- yes- maybe ‘usury’ is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be- maybe the Libyans are right [and the Old Testament]. Yeah- maybe they know something we don’t.
 Philosophy and Politics.
This last week the media circus has centered around the Herman Cain ‘sex scandal’. Yes- it does seem like good old brother Herman [Christian ‘brother’ to you racially sensitive types] has a little problem with the ladies.
Yes- I have heard both sides on the thing- the conservatives [Limbaugh] have used Cain as an example of how the ‘left’ castigates Black conservatives- while they cover up for liberal ones.
And the left wing media types- well they sure do like to go thru every detail of the Repub candidates lives [no- the sex harassment issue is a real issue- I’m talking about all the other stuff]. It’s funny [sad?] to see some of the commentary on how Cain’s ‘worst’ mistake was in the way he handled it- that it was his mishandling of the scandal that worries folk.
Look- I like good old Bill Clinton- and for those who remember- Bill also had quite a few dalliances with the ladies. Paula Jones even sued Bill- And won!
Yes- the pres settled for 800 thousand and paid the girl. How did Clinton deal with his sex scandals? Those who say ‘see- Bill knew how to deal with them’ they seem to forget that his defenders- they ridiculed all the women- Kathleen Wiley [he groped her]- Jones- well- he pulled an Antony Weiner one day when Jones walked into the office- and oh yeah- lest we forget [well- actually I do forget the name] one woman had some very credible claims that Clinton did indeed rape her.
And of course- he ‘received’ oral sex from Monica in the oval office- and all these women were described as ‘off balance’ or greedy women seeking a pay day- or these women ‘asked for it’. Yes- this was the way the Clinton defenders went about it- yet these same media savvy folk [Carville] are saying ‘Clinton knew how to deal with scandal- Cain does not’.
Would they be happy if Cain’s people went after all the women? Not only have they not revealed the name of the lady who got a settlement but they have been pretty silent about all the women.
Not Clintons people- you know- the ones who handled it ‘right’ oh yeah- they had his ladies looking like a bunch of trailer park bimbo air heads- even a young intern- who worked for the govt.- even she was demonized at first- for engaging in an act that would have called for the firing of any CEO who was caught doing this with any young female staffer- yet in his case- the women were all at fault.
So it’s just a sad thing to see this play out. Do I think Cain ‘did it’ of course he did!
‘How do you know John’- one statement- from Cain himself. He was asked by Hannity ‘did you ask this girl to come to your hotel room’ his answer ‘I don’t recall’ yeah- if someone says ‘did you string up that Black man in the south 40 years ago’ and if you say ‘I don’t recall’ well that’s a problem.
Okay- enough of that.
I really want to cover a little bit more on the few Philosophy posts we did last month.
If you remember we stopped at the 4th-5th century B.C. and we left off with Aristotle. Now- Aristotle [and Plato and Socrates] ruled the day for hundreds of years- most Western thinkers were shaped by their ideas.
So for that reason- lets skip about 800 years forward- to the time of Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the 4th/5th century [A.D.]. When studying Philosophy you will study this man. But you run into him in the fields of Theology and church history as well- he’s considered by many to be the ‘best’ theologian of the 1st thousand years of Christianity- and to some- the best ever.
I have covered Augustine before- so let’s go light right now and hit a few high points.
Augustine had early influences that led him to the philosophy of ‘Neo Platonism’ [an offshoot of Plato’s thought] and he dabbled [well more than dabbled] in a sort of early metaphysical cult called Manichaeism [like a 3rd century type of Christian Science- the movement in our day].
As Augustine carried out his traveling teaching ministry [he was a teacher who was skilled in Rhetoric- and these traveling teachers would charge for their services] he eventually converted to Christianity [the Catholic Bishop Ambrose played a major role in Augustine’s conversion] and became the Bishop of Hippo- North Africa.
Augustine came to defend the Christian world view against his former belief in Neo Platonism. Platonism taught a Pantheistic view of God and creation. This view teaches that God and creation are one in the same. Many eastern religions still hold to this view in our day.
Augustine argued that God was the creator of all things- but that he himself was not created- or a part of the created world.
He developed a very sound theology on creation- which most Christian traditions hold to this very day.
He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas.
Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell.
There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works.
Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter.
The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’.
The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks.
Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted.
Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.]
He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well.
The Catholic Church refers to him as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor.
Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day.
When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones.
Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking progressed more and more towards historic Christian thought.
For those of you who are interested- the Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered one the classics of Christianity- you can pick up a short version at most good bookstores- it’s well worth the time to read.
 TALE OF 2 CITIES [and 2 trees]
This week I read 2 stories in the paper about the aftermath of our action in Libya.
One article was about the city of Sirte- Gadhaffi’s hometown. This was the town where he made his last stand- it was his hometown.
Of course- many of the people did support Gadhaffi from here- you know- like rooting for the local hero.
And you have the same type of thing going on with the new leaders- the Rebels from the east.
Anyway- because this was his last stand- for about 2 months we [NATO and the U.S.] absolutely destroyed the entire city. I mean you’re talking Lebanon after years of bombing- it looks that bad.
I read an interview from a local professional- he was a university teacher- had a nice home- wife and kids- just like you would see in any city here in the U.S.
Shopped at the market- took the wife and kids out to eat- yes- this city was not some desert looking tribal outback- it was a nice place.
The professor was digging thru the rubble as he spoke to the reporter. He basically said his life was over- I mean the entire town is gone- it is no more!
He said he can’t go to another city [Tripoli] because everyone from his town- where Gadhaffi came from- is a target for torture and death.
As he dug thru the rubble- he found what he was looking for. Yes- the corpse of his son ‘found it’ maybe he can give what’s left of it a descent burial.
This city too was a nice place to live- a small town- population 25,ooo. About 250 miles south east of Tripoli. They too bare the stigma of being a ‘pro Gadhaffi’ town. The entire town- to the last man, woman and child- have fled. The new rulers- they have painted over all the signs going to the town- they have destroyed the homes and tore down the infrastructure- yes- the city is now a Ghost Town.
One witness said- when the rebels came in [the guys we support] if even 1 bullet was shot from a house- they would bomb the whole house to the ground. Men- Women- children- killed them all. We made this happen- under a ‘mandate’ to create a NO FLY ZONE in order to protect civilians.
The lives of these people are over. No more home town- no more university [the actual building is gone!] no more going out for a night on the town [the town is gone!] and we in the west- we report on our news- how wonderful it was that we liberated these people- yeah- tell that to the man who had to dig his son out from the rubble.
I had a drive planned for a few weeks. I had a note written on my calendar- had to go to a downtown appointment [at the Federal Courthouse] and figured I would make a sort of prayer drive right after the app.
Downtown Corpus is beautiful- if you have never seen a picture of it- just Google ‘pictures of Corpus Christi’ and you’ll see the huge harbor bridge from downtown- the courthouse is right there.
So after the meeting- I headed over the bridge and started the prayer drive.
At the top of the bridge there were a few cop cars- they had a lane on each side blocked [?]. I figured they were doing some type of work on it.
Then headed towards Portland- and drove thru a few South Texas cities.
I actually had one specific spot I wanted to drive past- that was the city of Rockport. I actually got off on the wrong back road- and drove about 30 miles out of the way. But I wanted to drive past the courthouse and police station in Rockport- that was the only spot I determined to pass.
Sure enough- I found the spot. Got out- walked to the store- filled up with gas- got some coffee- and off I went.
On the way back home- I noticed a street name- called ‘Corpus Christi St’. - I thought it was strange to see this big sign- right off the highway- showing this street.
I thought ‘for sure- people must mistake the sign- and think that’s the turn off for the city of C.C.’.
Anyway- I made a mental note of it- and headed back.
Over the Harbor bridge one more time- and back to the house.
As I watched the local news- they had 2 top stories. The night before- a man parked his car on the bridge and jumped- that’s why they blocked the lane.
And earlier in the day- a motorcyclist was killed- right at the corner of Corpus Christi Street and highway 35- the spot I had just passed.
Now- you might be thinking ‘hey John- do me a favor- don’t pray for me!’ Actually- I think I was praying for the areas where violence occurred- because there is always an aftermath- a sort of ‘bad taste’ in your mouth when deaths happen like that.
Okay- the next day [yesterday] we had a local story go viral- the national news all had it on- today it’s a big story.
It’s the case of the Texas judge who was taped beating the hell out of his daughter- she posted it to U-Tube.
The case looks bad- real bad. The girl will be on the news shows today- telling her story.
Yes- the police station- the courthouse- the area I ‘marked’ during the drive- that was the actual municipal area where this guy holds court- it was the Aransas county court district- in Rockport.
Sometimes God will show us what/who we should pray for- sometimes it’s the aftermath of bad things- a Mediterranean city in Libya- or a coastal city in Texas.
We need to be attentive- and aware- when these things ‘pop’ into our minds.
We need to be accountable in a way- when a country in the bible allowed itself to do bad things- to overlook justice- or to oppress people [even if they meant well- ‘we are here to protect you’ as you destroy the man’s life] then we as believers have a responsibility to do what we can- to at least be aware of what we are doing- and if you can- pray for these situations.
In the bible- during the trial of Jesus- there were many injustices that took place- power players making decisions- executing people- yes- innocent people- simply because of the prejudice that existed in the system.
Jesus made a strange statement about this- he said ‘if this can happen in a Green tree- what do you think will happen in a Dry one?’
This statement meant- if people in authority- judges and leaders- if during a time of some stable government- if they can still play the system where they might wind up killing innocent people- bombing entire towns- doing bad stuff- and yet the average citizen- he even thinks this is good- if the system can be played to that degree during a time of peace and some form of human govt. at work- then what do you think will happen when there is anarchy?
Last night- the Occupy protestors shut down a shipping port in Oakland- I’m not sure what overall effect it will have- but yes- it will disrupt lives to a degree.
Many of the business people- who have shops right around the protests- well many of them are suffering- because of the disruption.
I’m not sure how ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ they are- there are legitimate arguments to be made on both sides.
But I know in the mind of that university professor- who lost his entire life- and his son- I know in his mind what we did to his country is unjust- ‘if these things can happen in a Green tree- Then just wait till the Dry tree gets here’.
 YAHWEH- YAHWEH- I LOVE TO SHOUT YOUR NAME!
Want to try and cover a few current events today. Last week- when the DOW went up to around 12,300- I felt like ‘here we go again’. The news came out ‘yes- Greece is solving their debt problem- hip- hip- hooray!’ Then of course a day or 2 will go by and something bad happens- ‘oh- no- the sky is falling’.
I mean it’s not even funny anymore- if the world [global] economy learns anything from this debacle- it will be to try and put a plan in place- where the entire global market is not going from week to week- based on these long term payouts that the other E- Zone nations are making to Greece- based on how much they agree to cut every few weeks.
It’s like running our govt. on the Continuing Resolutions- having to pass these temporary deals every few months- and the markets being drawn to the brink every couple of months- this whole way of working is not acceptable.
But what I wanted to say- that the so called solution to the Greek debt crisis- well it’s really not a solution at all. Yes- I think they needed to do it [cut their bonds in half] but what they actually did- was they did default [go bankrupt] and they reorganized their debt.
When a nation [or company- or bank] does this- they are telling all their investors ‘you just lost a boatload of cash’. Okay- who are these evil investors anyway?
The ‘Occupy Wall’ street guys- well they mean well- and they have some valid points to make- but the problem is not really with the bankers- or the ‘1-%’- that is if you simply slash the bonds/investments in half [those evil bank people!]- you are not taking all the money from those ‘fat cats’.
In reality- lots of the average folk lose money too. Many retirement accounts- yes- for teachers and Firemen and Cops [you know- the 99%] are tied into these investments. Now- I hope your own 401 k was not heavily invested in European debt- but many people’s investments are.
And when the nation [or company] says ‘hey everybody- guess what- we fixed the problem- we simply told everybody- today is half price day- for us’. Well yes- they reduced their debt. But they did it by ‘reducing’ the value of everyone else that had skin in the game.
So what does this mean? It means that lots of folk took a big hit- and these same folk [made up of all the other European nations] are not going to be happy about it. Will they ever invest in Greek debt again? Hell no- I don’t blame them either.
Okay John- what does this mean? Glad you asked. It means that even though the Europeans ‘solved their debt crisis’ they solved it in a way that will have long lasting effects on the global economy. Now- Greece is really a small economy- we all know this- but don’t be fooled into thinking something was ‘solved’ no- they solved it by saying ‘hey- we aint paying the people we owe money too’ Geez- wish I could ‘solve’ my debt crisis like that.
And sure enough- before I had a chance to write the post [warning about this very thing] yesterday we saw a global investment company go Belly Up. It was some firm that former N.J. governor Jon Corzine ran- they invested in these European bonds- and yes- they lost half of their investment [billions] over night.
So- before we [U.S. investors and workers] get too happy over the Europeans ‘fixing’ their problems [like the DOW shooting up to 12,300!] lets realize that there are still lots of problems on the horizon- and we are not out of the water yet [the DOW also was responding to the 3rd quarter numbers that came out- the U.S. economy did do better than expected- I think the growth was a little over 2 %- that’s good- not great- but okay].
Okay- I also found it funny [not to demean the thing] that the Syrians were protesting in the streets- calling for- well you guessed it- a NO FLY ZONE.
What? A no fly zone? Assad [the Syrian leader] is not flying planes over the protestors- he is indeed killing and torturing them- but no planes.
So why would the Syrians [not all of them] be asking for this? Well to them- after seeing our ‘no fly zone’ in Libya- to them it means ‘please come and hunt down our leader like a dog- kill him- his kids- his grandkids- and when it’s all over- let a bunch of our ‘leaders’ take over- you know- the Al Qaeda group’.
Sad- so sad.
Look- I’m sorry for the abuse that many Arab/Persian nations have foisted upon their people- and in many ways- Assad is an S.O.B.- but we need to find another way to deal with these crisis’- and the ‘no fly zone’ thing- well that has to stop.
One last note- last week I had a strange event take place. As a true news junkie [I read the papers- watch the news- for about 6 hours a day] I stumbled across a death penalty case.
I have made it a habit to pray for the cases I read in the papers- severe crime cases- people going to prison for life- mothers who killed their kids- yes bad cases- but case’s/people I felt the Lord wanted me to pray for- well- for the rest of my life.
I have cut out the news articles- and written the names of these people here in my study- and pinned them up on my prayer wall.
The list is now in the hundreds.
Okay- when I read [last Monday] that Frank Garcia was going to be executed on Thursday- I made a mental note to simply pray for Frank for the next 4 days.
I simply prayed for him every morning- prayed that God would be glorified- that God would help Frank to ‘end right’ to seek God in his last days- make any statements that need to be made- to the victims’ families or whoever else [he killed his wife- and a cop who came to the home on the night they were fighting].
I have done this ‘prayer vigil’ for the guys for many years- writing the names of offenders and putting them on my prayer wall- that’s only a few years old- but to pray for the death row guys- well I have done that for years.
Now- for some reason- in Frank’s case- I felt the Lord saying ‘John- you just adopted him’. What?
I have so many friends- ex-cons- addicts- street guys- and many of them are like brothers- ‘sons’. Some of them have become Christians thru ‘my’ ministry. The years of helping the street guys- preaching at the jails- the whole deal.
So in franks case- it seemed like the Lord was saying ‘John- franks in the group’.
I didn’t fully understand it- but heck- I accepted the thing [you know- when God says something- its’ usually a good idea to believe it].
So on Thursday- I just happened to have the local news on at 6 P.M. - here in Texas the guys usually get the needle at around 6:20 P.M. and before the news ends- they tell you the guys dead.
So as the news rolled along- I prayed for Frank for this last 20 minutes- he wound up dying a little late- at 7.
The next day- I read 3 articles on Frank’s last words- I have never read a testimony like this- yes- from a criminal who did indeed commit horrendous crimes- crimes he needed to be punished for.
The article said that when Frank entered the ‘death room’ for the entire 20 minutes or so- he simply sang out to God- very loudly- praised Jesus- shouted ‘Yahweh- Yahweh- I love to sing your name’ and went on like this for the whole time.
He prayed for the people in the ‘stands’ watching the show- he prayed ‘God- for the prosecutor sitting here right now- may she never forget this day father- may she come under conviction someday father- may she accept Jesus some day’.
He went on and said ‘Father- for this day was I born- to glorify you- even though I committed such terrible crimes- for which I’m sorry for- yet to end my life glorifying you and your Son- to praise you as my God and king- thank you father- thank you’.
The article went on to say that as the drugs began taking effect- Frank began rattling off at the end- not able to form compete sentences- his final word was ‘Jesus’.
The Mother of the woman Frank killed [his mother in law] said she was shocked- that this former San Antonio gang member was always such a quiet kid- she has never spoken to Frank since he killed her daughter- but she saw a different person this night- someone she really did not know at all.
I’m sure the other witnesses will never forget what they heard that night either- especially the prosecutor- who had to position herself as an adversary- one who accuses the defendant in criminal cases- yes- that’s her job- but by nature- she in a way had to ‘hate’ frank- yet she heard him pray for her on the night of his death.
Yes- I never heard a ‘death row’ testimony in my life like this one- and for some reason- I never prayed as much [you know- remembering to pray thru out the week- and then praying for the man the actual hour he was dying] for one either.
These last few years I have ‘sensed’ and in a strange way- ‘received’ some of my old buddies who have died years ago. Many of them were friends I ‘lead’ to the Lord- yet they had very long histories of drug abuse and crime- and yes- some did die as a result of that.
But these last few years- while praying in my prayer ‘spot’ [a special spot in my yard] out early in the morning- under the stars- I sense all my ‘sons’ and friends being in this crowd- the image of John the Apostle- seen in revelation chapter 5- he is in this heavenly throne room before God.
He is there with the angels and saints and the great Lion of the tribe of Judah [Jesus]. It’s a picture of saints that are in heaven- and also on earth- the book of Hebrews says those who have died- and have already passed on- they are in the stands and cheering us on.
I know this sounds strange- but I really sense my ‘old group’ even my buddies who are gone- they are still ‘having church’ with me under the stars.
A few years ago- when I first started sensing this- it seemed as if one of my old friends showed up one week- I just ‘sensed’ it.
His name was Miguel. Me and Mike grew up in N.J. together- good friends as kids.
After high school- I joined the navy- Mike went into the Army.
After I earned my 4 year discharge in 1 year [got kicked out of the Navy!] I went back North and me and Mike got back together as good buddies [he got kicked out of the Army faster than I got booted from the Navy- yeah- he won that competition too!] we did commit a few crimes in those months- we were no ‘angels’ but we eventually headed back to Texas.
Why Texas? Mike wanted to go to Florida- I said Texas. We had no real plans- just two18 year old kids with no destiny.
I said ‘lets flip a coin- heads it’s Texas- tails Florida’. I told Mike that day- I still remember the moment- sitting there in front of my house- on a cold N.J. day- dreary day.
I said ‘hey- some day we can tell our kids that we chose [Tx or Fla.] based on a coin flip’.
I won the flip- we left for Texas in the morning – been here ever since.
Eventually I lead Mike to the Lord- his wife- Lu Ann- and my wife became friends. Mike had a few boys- I had 4 girls!
Mike became a member of my little home church [we also met in a rented hospital for a year or 2] and we were in a sense- living the dream.
Mike had a little harder time than me. He eventually went back North- and I got a call from Mike one day- he told me had had Aids.
I stayed in touch with Mike- he wrote me a few good letters- and one day when I came home from work- my wife said ‘John- Lu Ann called’. I knew it- I said ‘Mike died’ she said yes.
I have Miguel’s funeral card here in my office- its pinned up on a wall with my other friends names who have gone on- Mike was 32.
So a while back- when I started ‘sensing’ this ‘church thing’ this reality that my friends who are still ‘on the ground’ and my buddies who have died- well they are all here with me during those prayer mornings- yes- in that ‘upper room’ that the apostle John was in.
One day I was praying and doing a home church thing with my wife- we often do a simple home meeting- pray- bible reading- communion- it’s kind of cool.
My wife tells me ‘you know- I had a weird dream the other night. You old friend Mike showed up at the door- he rang the bell. He said he was here- looking for you’.
Yes- I felt like God said I ‘adopted’ Frank- that in a way he was now part of my ‘fellowship’ yes- made up of the worst of the worst- they did say of Jesus ‘he’s friends with hookers and killers and sinners- what kind of preacher is that!’
Yes- I like my little group. O- and this past Sunday- while doing the early prayer thing- at the part of being in ‘the room’ with the guys- I almost thought I could hear Frank singing- yes- he seemed to be singing ‘Yahweh- Yahweh- I love to shout your name’.
Yea- it was a good service- the best one in the world.
 IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Was gonna do one last post [for now] on Libya- we will need to cover the whole development of how we began to view/and act over a 6 month period- we acted [as a nation] contrary to our public statements. We swore- over and over again- that we were not targeting the man [or his family] and he swore [before the U.N. - by his rep.] that we were lying- and did indeed already kill a few of his grandkids [which was true] and were going after him.
Then- on national T.V. - we saw him flee Sirte [his hometown] and get bombed by both NATO and American planes [ours were Drones]. We destroyed a bunch of vehicles- left a lot of dead bodies- but he made it to a tunnel.
Then he got pulled out- ended up with a bullet in the head. O- forgot- this happened a day or 2 after Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli [her first visit] and said ‘we are waiting for you to capture or kill him’ [oop’s!] She later had to ‘clarify’.
She also was caught on tape- laughing and rejoicing over his death- okay- many people did- but if your saying publicly- ‘that’s not what we want’- then it looks bad.
Of course the other Arab nations want the U.N. to investigate- they were being told- by us- that we were not going after him. He begged for a peaceful resolution [he did do this!]. But we basically said no.
There are lots of questions to still be answered on this thing.
Okay- yesterday I wrote a quick note about a conversation I had with a new friend who just joined my site. She was into some new age stuff- we talked a little- I defended historic Christian belief- then she blocked me.
Let’s talk a little about Apologetics/Theology. Apologetics is the field where Christians Defend the Faith.
In our day- it is common for believers to be ‘left in the dust’ when they bang up against an atheistic scientist [they not all are!] or someone versed in Philosophy [Sartre or Camus- atheist thinkers- or Hitchen's and Dawkins].
Many times these various fields of study are too much for the average believer to feel like he can engage in- in an intelligent way- and ‘win’ the argument for the Christian view.
But church history has a long- and very successful- track record doing this very thing.
A few weeks back I did about 5 posts or so on Philosophy- a field I like to study. But if you do too many of those posts at one time- then it can get a little heavy [and boring!] So I try to break it up by only doing so many at a time. The same goes for Theology- Church History- etc.
But over time- if we become well versed in these various fields- it will help us defend the Christian view- in an intelligent way- without being mean about it [I try!]
But sometimes you will offend people- even if you try to be nice- because you’re engaging in a conversation that says ‘yes- as Christians we believe in ultimate truth- and that truth is in the person of Jesus Christ’ yes- that will offend some.
My approach to these types of debates is I’m what you would call Ecumenical- I believe that Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox- and all the other ‘churches’ that profess Christ- I believe they are all Christian.
Now you might say ‘well John- doesn’t everybody?’ Actually no- many of the most knowledgeable Apologists do indeed go after the other groups. Quite often you will have a strong protestant defender [usually from the Reformed faith] that will really hit the Catholic church- in my view- too hard.
While it is true that historically Catholics and Protestants have differences- I have often found that Many ‘average’ Catholics/Protestants are not really aware of the real differences- they often have very limited perspectives about the ‘other side’ and these limited ideas [often wrong] seem to stay with the people- for most of their lives.
One example- the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception- what is it?
The teaching became Official- only in the last 2 centuries of the Catholic church- though it was held by many- it finally became official in the last 2 hundred years [ 1854 for the Immaculate Conception- 1950 for the Assumption of Mary doctrine].
The doctrine teaches that the Virgin Mary- Jesus Mom- was born ‘without the taint of original sin’. Now- what does that mean?
Some Protestants think the Catholics teach that Mary was ‘sinless’ in the same way Christ was sinless.
Actually- that’s not the official doctrine [see- it’s important to know the official teaching when we engage like this]. The actual teaching- that has the churches Imprimatur on it- is that Mary WAS A SINNER- just like the rest of us- but in order for Jesus to have been born from a pure vessel- that the actual work of the Cross- Redemption- it was applied to Mary ‘ahead of time’.
Yes- the official teaching is that Mary ‘was saved’ from her sin- just like the rest of us- thru the Cross. The difference is the forgiveness that came to Mary- came to her before she was born- yes- the teaching does teach that Mary was born ‘without sin’ but not like Jesus was without sin- but she was ‘without sin’ because her salvation was applied ahead of time- way ahead of time- before she was born.
Okay- do Protestants believe in this teaching? No. But is it ‘so way out of line’ to the point where we should view our Catholic brothers and sisters as ‘non Christian’ because of it? No- not in my view.
Plus- many Catholics don’t even realize that this is what the doctrine teaches- many think it is talking about the birth of Jesus- being born without sin- by the act of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary and Mary conceiving.
No- this is what we call ‘The Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Ghost’. Jesus being born from a virgin with no earthly father.
This is not the Immaculate Conception.
So right here alone [trust me- there are many more examples that I could give] Both Catholics and Protestants usually get the doctrine wrong- yet they remain divided their whole lives- over something that they are not even right about.
So I have found this type of stuff to be a problem while striving for Christian unity- and many Christians prefer to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and will continue to view them that way- till they die.
I always feel bad when I lose a friend from the site- sometimes you can’t help it [other times it is my fault!] but sometimes it’s because we have views about things- strongly held views- and when others hold to a different view- well we try and avoid them.
One day I received a Friends Request- to my surprise- it was from a young Catholic priest- I did not know him but he must have read a few posts of mine and liked them. He often gave me Thumbs Up comments on the posts- and at times would tell me he loved the posts.
Most were my Theology/Church history posts.
Often times Catholics and Protestants can agree and enjoy these types of studies. I love studying and teaching on the Church Fathers and early Christian history- and these sources all have a very strong Catholic flavor to them- so I see my fellow Catholics as being a part of a long tradition of Christian history.
Many famous converts to the Catholic Church [Bishop John Newman- converted from the Anglican Church] convert because they read the Church Fathers- and when you read them- it’s obvious to see the catholic nature of the early church in these men’s writings.
So anyway I was very happy to have a Catholic priest as one of my ‘on line students’ [and honored].
But one day- during one of my studies [covering one subject for a month or so] to my surprise I saw he was gone [yes- the dreaded block]. I thought- geez- wonder why?
I realized it was right in the middle of a study I did on Islam- and while I was doing the posts- I was also going thru a study on Islam- by the same guy who teaches it to the U.S. govt. - yes- it was a prof. [I think named Espinoza?] who teaches Islam to our govt. employees [sort of like a tolerance type thing].
Though the teacher was Catholic- yet he was VERY much pro Islam- I mean to the point where I had to reject some of the stuff he was saying- and finish the study from my own education on Islam.
At one point- he taught that the spread of Islam thru out the world had a wonderful- liberating effect on all the women in the lands where Islam spread. I mean it was so obvious that the man had no idea what he was talking about [in this area] that I realized he was not a good source [this happens every so often].
And it was more troubling that this was the guy Obama picked to teach Islam to our govt. employees [don’t get me wrong here- he teaches our govt. workers- not to convert them- but more of an informative type thing- just like you would teach any other course about sexual harassment- or whatever].
Anyway- in one of my posts while teaching on my site- I did refer to Mohamed as ‘the prophet’- now- I don’t receive Mohamed that way myself- but because I was teaching some Muslims who did recently join the site- well I used the title in this way.
I think that might have been the ‘last straw’ for my student/priest- he ‘went on Pilgrimage’ right after that post.
Okay- today’s point is we all should try our best to be ‘tolerant’ that is- we should give people as much grace/mercy as possible- but at the same time we also need to be honest about the Christian faith.
Yes- as Christians we believe salvation comes thru Christ- he was not just ‘one religious leader among many’ no- we believe he is the Way- the Truth- the Life/light- no man comes to the Father- but by him.
Sometimes we do our best not to offend- we might even go out of our way to receive people- other religions and systems that are not Christian- that’s okay- I have Muslim and Jewish and all types of friends- I’m glad they are my friends!
But we also have to be honest about our beliefs- and every now and then that might- just might- earn you a BLOCK.
 FOR A PAIR OF SHOES? CMON!
Yesterday I saw a few clips from a talk Joe Biden gave- he was at some municipal type function [Cops- Firemen] and he was basically defending the presidents ‘jobs bill’. I mean the guy really impressed me with his mastery of the numbers.
He rattled off ‘in 2007- you had this many cops on the street- this many rapes- this many killings’. He then went on to the following years- you know- showing us that as the force went down in numbers- that the violent crimes went up.
I mean- it was so smooth- you would think he was just pulling the numbers out of the air.
As he left the hall- some reporter got him on whether or not it was right to associate voting no on the ‘jobs bill’ with being for an increase in rapes [Biden was saying if you vote no- then the number of cops being let go will go up- and the rapes will go up too- according to his numbers].
Biden kind of got into a little scuffle ‘hey buddy- don’t you misquote me on this- this is what I said’ you know- Biden has never had trouble with talking off the cuff like that.
Then sure enough- the Repubs got the actual numbers from the FBI on the rapes and stuff from that city [I think he was in Boston?].
And the actual numbers were the opposite of what Biden said- the rapes went down over the years he said they went up.
I like old Joe- he lives his life for the moment. You know- having a few shots of J.D. with the guys at the Fire Dept. Hanging out with the cops and all my fellow union bro’s [still am a member with the fire fighters union] and then going to the union hall and hitting one out of the park- just giving this soul stirring defense of the president’s policy- rattling off those numbers like one of the local lotto ‘quick 6’ guys does at the corner store.
Then of course the thrill is short lived- sure it made you feel great as you hung out with the boys for the rest of the day ‘Biden sure defended us today- way to go Joe- way to go’. Then he gets back home and sees all the clips of how he screwed up the whole thing.
You know- his wife saying ‘hey honey- look your on CNN again- they’re making fun of you’. And Biden probably just fluffs the thing off ‘Heck- this aint the first time baby- and won’t be the last’. Oh- and by the way- Obama’s trying to get a hold of you- ‘just tell him I’m’ busy hon- talk to him another day’.
Ah- the more I watch these guys- the more I keep thinking of the Don Knott’s movie ‘the gang that can’t shoot straight’ it’s sad- but at least you can laugh as the country goes to Hades in a hand basket.
Okay- to my liberal friends- this next one is for you.
I do think very seriously that our country- and the world- has very serious problems facing us these next few years. I do not see the answer to these problems as being conservative or liberal- I think that both sides really need to be able to come to the table and talk as adults- that has not happened yet.
I’m going to defend Obama right now- just a warning to both sides.
These past few months the U.S. has been trying to negotiate a deal with Iraq- we originally signed an agreement with the new govt. that we would stay in their country till the end of this year.
As the months rolled by the leadership of Iraq has had some very shaky people join their ranks. Iraq is now considered [by many insiders] as being part of a group of 3 nations [Iraq- Syria- Iran] that are strengthening their ties- as sort of a buffer against the other nations in the region.
One of the leaders in Iraq- on the official payroll- is Muqtada Al Sadr [I’m guessing on the spelling?] Do you remember him?
This guy led his own militia during our war in Iraq. At times we went back and forth on whether or not we should target his little enclave and take out his personal army.
Eventually we decided to let the guy live and he finally got on the actual team of leaders that make up the new Iraqi leadership.
This guy has killed our guys- we have killed his.
Now- a while back he agreed to putting a stop to the killing of American soldiers in Iraq [gee thanks a lot!]. He is a religious leader with a following- and at one time he justified [Fatwa] the killing of American soldiers as being part of fighting the ‘infidel’ invaders from the west.
After he got in office- he agreed to tell this people ‘stop killing them’- for good? No- just until the official agreement of our forces staying until this year ends- but after that- he has said its open shooting once again.
Okay- this guy is part of the Iraqi govt.- he’s telling us he will take his guys and kill American soldiers if we stay past the deadline.
Obama has been trying to extend the deadline [at the secret request of the Iraqi leaders- they want us to stay longer- but because of political posturing won’t say it openly]. But in order for them to look tough to the outsiders- they are refusing to sign an agreement that would give our guys legal immunity if we stay.
So you have these guys playing ‘hard ball’ with our guys- we are not asking them to pay the 800 billion dollar bill we have racked up over these past 10 years- they have officials in their govt. who are openly saying ‘you stay past the deadline- your dead’ and the other leaders will not grant our guys immunity.
I would have done the same thing Obama did- you know what- we shed blood here- your govt. has turned into a major supporter of some of our biggest enemies in the region- and your own officials are calling for the killing of our men- after the deadline.
Your damn right we’re not staying- no way in hell.
But we are so divided- the Repub candidates have used this as a tool to criticize Obama- and the left has done the same dirty deeds [Biden’s numbers game?]
This week the DOW went up to around 11,800. I’ll admit- I did not think we would see those numbers this year- nor do I think it’s smart for us to ‘see’ those numbers.
Why? I have said a bunch of times over this last year that the global economy is not in good shape.
Some economists think we [the U.S. and Europe] are going through a De- Leveraging cycle. They feel that nations/economies can only go so long through a borrowing/spending cycle- and then they have to ‘bottom out’ and go through a long season of deleveraging.
Many think that the west is in this phase right now- and will be in it for a number of years.
That’s why Greece- once again- is having open rioting on the streets. They have over borrowed- over promised- and now are doing what’s called Austerity measures- they have to cut.
Now- in our country- we too have these same problems looming over the horizon- we are not technically as bad as Greece [yet] but we are in trouble.
The only way to really deal with this problem- is for both sides to actually make some serious cuts/changes in what we call entitlement programs [Medicare being the biggest] and yes- some type of income on the ‘revenue side’.
Not raising taxes across the board [maybe?] but doing what many on both sides have called for- closing a lot of the loopholes that are in the tax code and making real ‘adjustments’ to entitlements- if we don’t seriously do this- then we will be in big trouble.
Okay- why do I think the DOW is way too high? Investors have been looking for a sign- any sign- that they can use to hang some hope on- that we will not go into another recession.
Sure enough- some good news did come out- and some not so good.
Then once again- the European debt yoyo- it went up again- the investors thought ‘o- maybe the Euro Zone will fix its debt crisis’. Look- no matter what deal they do- they will still have a very long way to go to get out of their problems- and their banks and economies are going to still suffer- no matter what.
And why was Biden doing the speech? Because he was trying to get support for Obama’s plan to send more federal money back to the states. The states have been propped up by the stimulus package and fed. aid- and that moneys gone.
So yes- the states are going to lay off this year- more than any previous year- the moneys gone.
All of these things are huge problems- on a Macro level- that are going to effect the global markets for many years to come- even if the actual figures for business look better [many financial guys have been saying ‘the fundamentals are much better’- true- in a way].
But no business functions in a vacuum. No matter how good the bottom line looks- if people are out of work- and banks are not lending- and if we are really in a de leveraging cycle- then no matter how good the ‘fundamentals’ are- the ‘customers’ are broke- or can’t get a loan to buy the good/service- see?
Okay- lets end with some bible stuff- before I lose all my Christian readers.
A while back we were doing an over view of the entire bible- and I probably should have done at least one last post or 2 before we stopped [maybe will get to that in the next few weeks?]
We stopped at the O.T. prophets- and under that category- you have what we call the Major and Minor Prophets. That’s simply a distinction in the size of their books [Isaiah is long- major- Amos short- minor].
I did hit on Isaiah some- and for a minor prophet- if I could only do one- it would be Amos.
Amos was a very strong defender of the poor- the weak ones in society. He railed against the rich- and the powerful- ‘you sell the poor for a pair of shoes- there is no justice in the land’.
In a way- you could fit him in at one of the Occupy Wall Street rallies.
Amos also condemned the ‘church folk’ he said [like the other prophets too] that the religious people were having great meetings- they were rejoicing in their religious life- they had a great time ‘practicing’ their religion [every day a Friday?] Yet there were many injustices in the land- things that God was not happy with.
And these things were the uneven balances that existed in their day.
When he said ‘you sold the poor for a pair of shoes’ yes- the ‘market’ was that bad- that you could ‘buy a slave’- that cheap. Was it ‘just’ simply because that was the market value?
Hell no- people have more value than a damn pair of shoes! What about his injustice ‘rant’?
That spoke specifically about ‘justice in the courts’ the rich were able to ‘buy’ a better outcome in the courts- than the poor.
Man- if these things are not signs of our times- then I have no idea what is.
Okay- I’m glad the President did what he did on the troop thing- if your country can’t guarantee immunity to our guys- yeah-were gonna get the hell out.
Oh- one last thing- I think I hear a phone ringing- all the way from Delaware- yes Joe- someone wants to talk to you- and soon.
 TOO MANY A’S ?
[By the way- my sister is still in the hospital- she is doing much better- thanks for the prayers!]
Let’s talk about what has happened these last 6 months or so. I found it interesting that the last ‘official’ post I wrote was about Libya- and how what started as a ‘no fly zone’ to protect civilians- turned into an air force for a bunch of possible Al Qaeda guys.
Then sure enough- yesterday the stuff hit the fan- I did a few short posts while watching the news- at first we thought our drones did kill him- then we saw that he survived the air attack- and was ‘accidentally shot’ in a crossfire between his supporters and the Rebels.
You know- the stray bullet theory- let’s see- 2 bullets in the neck- one in the head- 5 in the back- yeah- sounds like a stray bullet to me.
Okay- I realize these guys are no altar boys [well- maybe they are- remember Joe Kony? - few posts back] But the fact is we- along with NATO- made a conscious decision to side with one side in a civil war- the side we picked do indeed have bad guys on their team- and these bad guys have been lying to us since day one- we all know this.
Second- I just happened to write a post in ‘defense’ of Gadhaffi the other day- over the last 6 months I have written about his ‘love’ for the Black ‘skinned’ people of Africa.
Now- some question whether this guy really loved ‘the Blacks’ or not. Let me say this- when Obama was elected- Gadhaffi was really happy about it. The London papers even printed a long quote from Gadhaffi- praising Obama- after the war on Libya started.
The reason they showed the quote was they wanted to give balance to the fact that many Obama supporters were on the side of Gadhaffi for years.
You had stories about Beyonce and other famous black entertainers/leaders having many contacts with Gadhaffi over the years.
You also had very well known Black leaders come out and condemn Obama when he called for Gadhaffi to step down [Farrakhan]. The reason many Black leaders were upset with Obama’s strategy was because Gadhaffi did really see himself as a defender of Black people- and a ‘Father of the peoples Revolution’
Okay- the man came to power in 1969- it was a military coup that over threw a Royal Family. In a very real way- it had a flavor of the modern Arab Spring.
Many of the current protests taking place in the Arab/Persian world are civilians protesting against Autocratic rule- they are protesting the Royal families that rule their nations.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia- Syria- these are run by families [sons] that simply hold power because of their ‘Royalty’- so- in a sense- Gadhaffi was indeed a Father of his own Revolution- he did not have power because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth- he was a military leader who over threw a Royal family.
Now- did he run Libya like a ‘western style democracy’ of course not. And the odds on any of these ‘Arab Spring’ nations doing so are about zero.
The original uprisings began when a street vender in Tunisia [the nation directly west of Libya] killed himself as a protest for being treated badly by the Tunisian security forces [I think the guy set himself on fire].
To the surprise of many outside observers- the leader of Tunisia fell fast- and then the protests spread to Egypt [on the other side of Libya- to the east- all on the border of North Africa- right off the Mediterranean].
In Egypt- the leader- Hosni Mubarak- was a ‘bad’ man- in the sense that for years the people were abused under the security forces of the govt. So Obama went back and forth for a few days- then sided with the people and called for him to step down.
Egypt is a much larger country [population wise] than Libya- Egypt has about 80 million people- Libya 6 million.
But Libya is large geographically- lots of land. Most of the population live right off of the Mediterranean coast- the rest of the country is scattered- they are a tribal nation- the local tribal leaders run the show.
Okay- the reason Egypt fell- in sort of an orderly way- was because their military is advanced- many of their military commanders have been trained in the West- and have close ties to the U.S.
It was fairly easy for the West to tell the insiders ‘look- we think it’s time for a change- we need Mubarak out’ and that’s why he stepped down- he was forced.
In Libya- there is no military type ‘alliance’ that we can work with- Gadhaffi had a military- but the country is pretty Rag Tag.
So how did we get involved?
Like the other nations to the east and west of Libya- you did have people rise up and protest- and I’m sure they were/are sincere. But remember- these Libyan people were not protesting against a Royal family- they were protesting against a guy who did see himself as a true leader of one of the original revolutions of the area.
Last night I saw a bunch of Gadhaffi videos- you know- all the networks playing the oldies but goodies. He tells Larry King ‘I am not the leader of Libya- I am the leader of the Revolution’ King questioned that- yet Gadhaffi did indeed see himself as a liberator of sorts.
When you watch the videos of him being taken- and killed [which was shameful to show- no matter how bad the man was- it was still shameful] he says ‘Don’t shoot me- I am like your Father’- yes- he was a deluded man at the end- yet that’s how he saw himself.
So we chose to back the opposing side- who like I have said before- have Al Qaeda in their ranks. In one of the videos- as they are abusing Gadhaffi- ‘our guys’ are shouting Allah Akbar- Allah Akbar- and look like a bunch of rabid dogs as they surround the guy.
Allah Akbar? Yes- it means God is Great in Arabic- but in the west- when the nuts flew into our buildings- they shouted this.
When Radical Islamists bomb people- they shout this.
When our guys engage in military action- kill an enemy target- they don’t yell Jesus is Lord. We need to make it clear in the future- if you want western support- then you need to quit associating bombings and killings with this phrase- you want to ‘praise God’ then save it for the mosque [tough love- yeah- we need some].
Okay- the deed is done- the outcome? Have no idea.
Egypt has no- and probably will never see- a western style democracy- the odds are- all of these Arab Spring nations will either become run by the military leaders that over threw the autocrats [just like Gadhaffi did in 1969] or if they hold elections- you are gonna get the Muslim Brotherhood- and others like that- in charge.
These groups make no bones about it- if they take charge- they will set up Shariah Law.
If you are a Christian in these countries [Like the Coptic church in Egypt- who make up 10 % of the population] then you’re in big trouble.
Last week there were more protests in Egypt- the biggest since the toppling of Mubarak- many of the protestors were Christians. The ‘caretaker govt.’ in charge- the military guys we backed- they drove their armored vehicles into the square- and ran over about 25 Christians- there's your Democracy.
Remember- many of these original protests were citizens protesting their countries being ruled by Royal families- Gadhaffi over threw a royal family in Libya.
Piers Morgan [CNN] had the gall to have on 2 sons of the Libyan ‘royal family’ that was over thrown in 1969. He spoke to them like they were victims- he even said ‘maybe now you can go back to Libya- and get justice’ [my paraphrase] What! These protests are supposed to be getting rid of these Monarchies- not support them!
There's a funny commercial making the rounds right now- every so often there’s a commercial that I’ll catch- and if it’s funny- whenever I scan my news channels- if I see it- I’ll stop.
So you have this manager/owner of an auto repair shop- the commercial opens up with him answering the phone- he says ‘This is AAAAAAAA-‘ for about 20 times- and of course the customer hangs up.
The mechanic walks in and asks ‘hey boss- why do we have so many A’s on our name’ and the boss- standing at the counter- in front of the name of the business- yes- with about 20 A’s in front of the name- tells the mechanic ‘so we can get our name to be the first in the phone book’.
Of course- this boss is using the old strategy of AAA transmission- or whatever- you know- that old phone book strategy.
So then the mechanic goes into his deal- hawking whatever co. they are trying to plug [I think it’s Fed Ex?] And as the boss listens to this ‘new strategy’ of how to promote your business- the commercial ends with the boss saying ‘you know- you’re a smart kid- you got some future here at- AAAAAAA….’ and the commercial ends.
Sometimes in life- we embrace strategies- things that we think will help our cause- but after careful analysis- it actually hurts it [Who wants to wait on the phone for the price of a spark plug- while hearing some shop owner go through 20 million A’s?]
In all of our efforts to back the innocent people- yes- many of the people in the Arab Spring countries are victims- they have grown up in these situations- and we do want freedom for them.
But at the end of the day- if we wind up backing- militarily- a bunch of radicals who we see on U- tube yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ as they surround their former Revolutionary leader from years gone by- then we might mean well- but I fear the strategy might be fatally flawed in the end.
 ALLAH AKBAR!!
Let’s tell a tale today. You had this nation that had people in it that hated Blacks. Yes- these ‘Black haters’ had some political organization to them- they lived in the ‘southern’ part of the nation.
You also had the leader of this nation- he lived in the ‘North’. Over time these 2 sides disagreed about stuff- and it even got to the point where they took up arms against each other.
The Blacks who lived in the north- well they were hoping that the south would not win- after all- they heard reports of how the leaders in the south were treating the Blacks ‘down there’.
They were treated like slaves.
Over time- the north seemed to be winning the fight- but then lo and behold- another outside country came in and supported the south- they had modern weaponry- fast planes- and they over powered the weaker kingdom in the north.
To the dismay of the Blacks in the north- the southern leaders came in- and just like they feared- they made them do free manual labor- used them to clean up the place- do odd jobs ‘hey there black boy- go fetch me some food’.
If the Black Boys resisted- they would stick live electrical wires to their genitals- and torture them. Their wives were abused- kids treated like ‘shit’ and all this happened- thanks to the wonderful ‘liberating’ help from the outside country.
If I asked you to name this nation- would it be America a couple of hundred years ago- give or take a few minor details- a different outcome to our Civil War?
Actually this ‘tale’ is no tale at all- it is what has happened in Libya [Tripoli] these last 3 months.
Yes- the outside country is the U.S. - the Black hating ‘south’ are really the rebels from the east [Benghazi] and the leader who loved and protected the Black people- Lincoln? No- sorry- his name is Gadhaffi.
Human Rights watch- a human rights group from N.Y. - they went into Tripoli to see if the reports of human rights abuses were real. They found that the so called ‘liberators’ the guys we have backed- they took the- quote ‘Dark skinned Libyans’ [they don’t want to say Black Folk] and used them to do ‘forced labor’ [slavery].
They pulled Blacks from cars- women and children- no matter- and beat the hell out of them.
They’ll ‘string you up’ in a minute- just because they can’t stand Blacks.
Okay- after all this- these same Black hating rebels advance to the other cities in Libya- they camped outside Sirte for a few weeks- Gadhaffi’s home town. The people of Sirte are saying ‘get the hell out of here- we don’t want you- you are not liberators- your ‘southern’ political views are not the views we embrace. We have always worked with the Blacks- Gadhaffi taught us to love them as our brothers- that’s why Nelson Mandela praised him openly when he was released from prison’.
Yes- the citizens of Sirte want none of this so called ‘liberation group’ being supported by NATO and U.S. fire power- because if these ‘liberators’ make it in- yes- the ‘dark skinned’ folk- well they know the score.
I saw [read?] a news report how the rebels were surrounding Sirte [and Bani Walid] and they were calling on NATO- and the U.S. ‘where are the planes- hurry- lets bomb these bad people in these towns’.
Finally- some NATO rep said ‘uh- there are some technical reasons why we are holding off’ bull!
They realized that the damn human rights violations that we have helped make happen- that these violations are a hundred times worse than what Gadhaffi has done [minus the Lockerbie plane attack].
When we started our action in Libya- we said we were going to simply create a no fly zone in order to protect civilians from ‘bad people’. What started as a no fly zone turned into an ‘air force’ for these S.O.B.’s.
We then figured we might as well go all the way- depose the mad clown of Tripoli- and get it done with quickly. It’s been 3 months since Tripoli fell- and just last week- 80 citizens of Tripoli- you know- those who supposedly greeted the new leaders as liberators- they gathered in Green Square and raised the Green flag again- they were saying ‘we want the old leader back’.
The rebels- our guys- they pulled these people [many Blacks] from their cars- they tortured them and put them in jail.
As ‘our rebels’ did this- as they ran through the square to stop the protestors- they were yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ at the top of their lungs- geez- that sounds just like the attack that took place a few miles up the road from me- Fort Hood- Tx.
As Hassan grabbed his gun and went into the building on the base- he shouted this same ‘liberating’ slogan- as he pumped bullets into his fellow American soldiers.
The main commander who has received praise for his leading the attack that took Tripoli a couple of months back- he was detained by our forces a few years ago- he was suspected of killing our guys- he was [is?] an Al-Qaida leader who came from the eastern part of Libya [where the Rebels live] and he was sent to kill American soldiers in Iraq.
Yes- these guys- the ones who shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ the other day- as they rampaged thru the historic square- attacking and torturing Black skinned Libyans- yes- these are the ‘liberators’ we have backed.
Shame on all of us- shame.
 TALES FROM THE CRYPT [Fire dept.]
Let’s do one for the Gipper today- you know- just telling a few stories.
Years ago at the fire dept we used to have old pumper trucks. The trucks were real work horses- and us ‘older guys’ grew up driving/pumping these babies.
Yet the newer guys had some real problems with them. First- the trucks were all manual transmission- and some of the guys did not know how to drive them!
So we had them practice at the empty parking lots and stuff- but geez- when these younger guys [not all] were driving to a fire scene- your life was literally in their hands.
Now- I’ll admit it- the trucks were old- lots of wear and tear. On one of them the play in the steering wheel was about a foot!
I remember one night- one of the guys who had a real hard time driving standard- he was ‘my driver’ that night. Sure enough we had a call- and I told Danny ‘let’s roll’.
I knew he was a little hesitant. We had to drive down this narrow back road- a 2 lane road [one each way] and a huge ditch to the right.
I knew it was gonna be rough. As my driver is barreling down the road- at about 60- with the truck with about a foot of play in the steering wheel- well- I did think this was gonna be the big one.
I mean if it has to happen- well that’s your job- but I would rather have gone out in a ‘blaze of glory’- you know- at some fire doing your job- then winding up in the ditch! I mean I actually felt safe when we got to the house fire- like ‘geez- never thought we’d make it’.
Now- these pumper trucks would eventually get phased out over time- all the newer models were automatics. But the problem we had with one of the first new ones we purchased was it had no setting for Park. When you pulled the truck into the stall- you would put it in neutral- and apply the air break.
One thing- if you forgot to pull the break- and got out- after about a minute the water swaying back and forth in the tank [the trucks hold about a thousand gallons of water] would slowly move the truck forward- and once the truck hit the tilted driveway- well the truck would roll out- all by its lonesome- and ram into the National Guard fence that was right there.
I guess this happened around 3 times over a year- we finally started putting manual wheel chocks under all the wheels every day.
It was funny to be honest- the truck would roll slowly- maybe around 10 MPH- so everyone [and their grandmother] could see it coming- but the thing was heavy- with a huge bumper.
I mean we rammed ‘the heck’ out of that National Guard fence for about a year.
I used to laugh about it- and say ‘geez- the fed’s must be thinking ‘what the heck is going on down there’? I mean every year when the guard had to list their top 10 most pressing dangers [you know- terrorism attack- or break in- etc.] The Feds must have wondered why the Kingsville Fire Dept. was at the top of the list.
Okay- last one.
When you work under different chiefs- you learn what to watch out for. Some get mad if you spend too much at the store while picking up items for the station.
So one day me and the Captain make a quick supply run- you know- get a few things for the kitchen and stuff.
So he picked up a roll of tin foil- for about a buck.
We go back to the station and the phone rings- the Captain gets it and all he hears is ‘what’s the foil for’ at first he had no idea who was on the line- of course the chief saw the charge on the card [or the P.O. number].
He couldn’t believe it- he had lots of good reasons for the foil- who does the chief think he is any way- questioning us!
For the next 15 minutes- the captain put foil on everything [you know- to justify the purchase] I mean on the windows where the sun came through [deflect the heat]. On all the burners on the stove- I mean at that rate- we were gonna need to make another foil run- and soon!
Okay- that’s it for today- we still have lots of serious stuff to cover- but today I thought we’d take a break.
Have a good weekend everybody- and be careful driving in front of the fire station!
 CULT? Three 6’S? Not a Christian?
Okay- let’s talk a little about some of the ‘big’ stories. Actually- these stories are small but the media wants to make them big.
At the debate the other night- Cain took some heat- you know- he’s been hawking the 999 plan on taxes- and now that he’s rising in the polls they have to bring him down a notch.
So they slammed the plan- Bachmann even exposed the secret agenda behind the plan- yes- right there in front of the whole world- she said ‘you know what you get when you turn the 999 plan upside down’?
And yes- we now know the truth- you get 3 upside down 9’s.
Okay- let’s get a little serious here. Another ‘religious’ test popped up on the trail- you had the Baptist Pastor from Dallas tell a reporter that Christians should prefer other Christians when they vote- and Romney is not a Christian.
He went on to say that he thought Romney was a fine man- but that historically Mormonism is a cult.
Was he right?
Let me say this- I have read scholars my whole life- study theology and Christianity- am very open to the other Christian churches- and even my approach to Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses has been one in which I try to have open dialogues with people- not ‘cover up’ their doctrinal flaws- but to be open and show as much charity as possible.
Okay- I know of no serious scholar who would disagree theologically with the Baptist Pastor. Now- was the approach he took right? At a political type meeting? Probably not.
Are there more appropriate ways to engage in dialogue with Mormons- who overall are very good people- serve the country well and for the most part are honorable? Yes—there are better ways to talk about it than saying Romney is ‘not a Christian’.
Let’s talk a little bit about why most bible scholars do hold the ‘cult’ view.
Historically- Christianity is what we call Trinitarian [for the most part- this is also a very long study]. Sometimes we refer to this as Nicene Christianity [from the famous council at Nicaea].
Or we can look to a few other church councils that hammered out the language of the Trinity.
I am Trinitarian- I hold to the historic belief on this- just to be upfront at the start.
Now- have all ‘Christians’ at all times held to the doctrine? No. Now- some will say ‘Then they are not Christians’ okay- I agree.
But the way I define ‘Christian’ while making the argument from history- I am speaking of all those who saw themselves as part of the church [men like Bishop Arius- who rejected the Trinity] and yet did not agree with the historic position.
Church history is littered with men/movements that fall into this category.
Muslims and Jews [even some Messianic Jews] also take the side [doctrinally] with those ‘Christians’ who reject the Trinity. Why? Both of these religions believe that exalting Jesus to Deity [being God] violates the teaching that there is only One God [the Father].
Many of these same objections are made by the various ‘Christian churches’ that also reject the Trinity.
Okay- the historic Christian doctrine- accepted by Catholics, Orthodox and most Protestants- says that God is One- and there are 3 persons in the God Head. The famous Christian him says ‘God in 3 persons- Blessed Trinity’.
So- the belief is there is only one God- yet 3 persons in the God head.
The various groups who disagree with this doctrine usually say it’s a contradiction- and they have various ways they try to explain it.
They will point to bible verses that say ‘Jesus is the Firstborn of all creation’ or ‘Jesus is the beginning of the creation of God’ and they will argue that Jesus was the first creation of God- but not ‘God’ in the sense of True God.
Most scholars will show you that looking at these few verses- in context of the entire bible- show us that they are not meaning that Jesus was actually created- but that he has pre imminence among the whole creation- he is Lord of all.
I really did get into the debate- have taught it in the past on the blog- and today’s intent isn’t to do it all over again.
But- we needed to cover that to say this- what then is the Mormon belief?
While most churches that disagree with the Trinity- usually disagree by saying the doctrine is Tritheistic [meaning you believe in 3 Gods] Mormons actually go the other way- they believe/teach that you actually do have 3 Gods- that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are 3 different Gods.
Okay- that’s the main reason [there are lots of other things] that scholars classify Mormons as ‘non Christian’.
But it’s really hard to have these debates in the political arena- and because of the various ways we use the term ‘Christian’ [most of the times in the media it covers a much wider range than what we use in studying theology] I would not say ‘Romney is not a Christian’.
Why? Because I would have to qualify it by explaining all of this- and you do have many groups that have branched off from historic Christianity- who never accepted the final councils on the Trinity- and many of these groups would still be defined as ‘Christian’ in a broad sense- say if your studying Sociology and not Theology.
Now- you ask ‘geez John- this can get a little confusing- does the bible actually give us a test on this’.
Glad you asked.
The only biblical ‘test’ that is where you have a clear cut statement on ‘if you believe this your okay- if you believe this you’re not’- the statement comes from the epistle’s [letters] of the Apostle John [New Testament].
In 1st John and 2nd John he talks about those who believe that Jesus is the Christ- they are ‘from God’ ‘Born of God’ and those who say that ‘Jesus has not come in the flesh’ these are not ‘of God’ these are ‘the anti christ’.
It’s interesting to note- that in the entire bible- the few times the actual word ‘anti christ’ is used are in these passages.
So the test- if you want to look at it this way- is a Christological test- do you believe Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]. And ‘do you believe he has come in the flesh’ [what we call the Incarnation].
That’s the test- you do not have a ‘Trinitarian’ test so to speak- though the doctrine itself is found in the bible.
Why would the apostle John give these 2 criteria as ‘the test’? Because for the 1st century Jewish believer- Jesus did indeed come as the promised Messiah- and the question is indeed ‘do you believe he is the promised one- or not’.
The other ‘test’ is a little more tricky- but in the 1st century you began having a challenge to the main belief of Christians- it came from the Gnostic ‘cults’. These were the quasi ‘Christian’ groups that mixed in Greek concepts of matter with Christian belief.
The last few weeks we discussed their ideas a little- and one of the ideas that Plato taught was that matter itself was evil.
This is not the Christian view- the Christian view is that matter [creation] is from God- it is good- not inherently evil.
Okay- so you had a division of the Gnostics [which their name meant Knowledge- they believed they had secret knowledge about these things that the average Christian did not have] called Docetists.
These guys taught that Jesus was not Really a human being- who came ‘in the flesh’. Why did they teach this? Because they also taught that matter/flesh was evil- and Jesus could not have really been ‘in the flesh’.
This doctrine violates the very clear N.T. teaching that Jesus was indeed born of the Virgin- and was fully God and fully man- thus the apostle John was targeting them when he said ‘if anyone does not believe that Jesus has come in THE FLESH he is not from God’.
Got it? Okay- we did a little teaching today- as you can see these types of debates cannot really take place in a 30 second news sound bite.
So even though most scholars [if not all?] would agree with the teaching that Mormonism does not fit in with historic Christianity- yet to say ‘this guy is not a Christian’ without being able to make the distinctions that I just did- well it just sounds bad- to be honest.
I personally could vote for Romney- to me it would be more of an issue of his political positions- if I felt he could do a good job- I personally would not use the ‘religious test’ on the guy- but you do have a large group of Evangelicals who would not vote for him- mainly because of this very issue.
I think these issues are important- and people should be aware of them. I also think the term ‘cult’ or ‘he is not a Christian’ if we are going to throw those words out- they need to be surrounded by the above context- when they just pop out on a short sound bite- without the time to explain them- then it’s probably better not to throw them out at all.
 CLASS [Not Class] WARFARE-
I was watching the news last night and saw the guy they caught- trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel- in order to conspire- and be complicit in- the killing of Americans [actually the Saudi ambassador- but in a restaurant where many Americans would be- using a bomb].
At first I wasn’t sure if they were talking about the Fast and Furious program [you know- Mexican cartel- guns- you get it].
The guy was from Corpus Christi- I watched my local news and they listed all the businesses he had over the years. I used to take my girls to eat at one of his spots. A Gyro stand in the Mall food court.
Okay- I saw the debate last night- nothing really new- I think Perry did pretty bad- he seemed a little [lot?] unprepared for the debate. They were focusing on the economy and he basically had a one liner that said ‘reduce regulations- help the energy sector- and free up the entrepreneurs’- while those things are good- it would have been better if he had a little more to say on the subject.
This week I saw one of the most Racist interviews by a White guy- talking to a Black guy. It was the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC. Man- it was bad. Larry grilled him on why he did not act they way ‘Larry’ thought a Black man should.
Herman Cain was being interviewed and Larry kept saying things like ‘why did you not march in the civil rights marches- like you should have- [‘Black Boy’- that’s the way it came across to me].
Cain respectfully explained that he was in high school during most of the time- and his dad worked 3 jobs to support the family- and his Father had told his sons that they should focus on their studies and finish school so they can became productive members of society.
Okay- that sounds reasonable to me. Larry then went after him on why he ‘avoided’ serving his country during the Nam war- again- sounded like he was saying ‘what are you doing off the plantation- you know- where I think you should be and act’. Cain explained that he did not ‘avoid’ serving his country- that he was actually a Ballistics expert working for the civilian arm of the Navy at the time. He told old Larry that his name was on the draft roll- but the Navy told him they needed him where he was.
Larry said ‘then why didn’t you join- like Kerry- and other people who honored their country’. I have never seen such disrespect- by a White man- to a Black man- on a TV interview in my life. Whether you agree with Cain's politics or not- this was way over the line.
And I must have read about 10 news articles by the A.P.- every one of them –without exception- were critical- even mocking- of the president.
You must understand that the A.P. puts out stories that all the other news sources pick up and run with. For the first 2.5 years of the Obama presidency they were his biggest supporters. They never covered stories that were critical of Obama- they always sided with him on issues.
But a few weeks ago- for some reason- they left the boat. I mean the last article I read critiqued Obama’s health law. It called it a ‘shell game’ ‘a gimmick’ a ‘budget zombie’. Now- these were quotes from others [not only Repubs!] that looked at the plan and saw it for what it is.
Yet the A.P. still wrote the piece. To be fair- they were talking about a specific part of the plan- called CLASS- it was supposed to be a long term health plan that would provide long term care [nursing home, providers, etc.] for the elderly.
They explained the budget shows an 80 billion dollar savings by using the first 5 years of supposed income into the plan- by those who voluntary sign up- and that this number was the biggest so called savings that the overall plan used to pass the bill.
When the president pushed for his plan- he showed it would save around 140 billion over 10 years [which is not true by the way] and it was this 80 billion savings from the CLASS part that showed the most savings.
Okay- what happened? Obama recently scrapped the plan- they knew it would go broke- and the tax payers would have to bail it out. You needed younger healthier people to voluntarily pay into it for 5 years- so they might get some back in the future. Most folk are too strapped for something like that- and Obama’s people saw the writing on the wall.
So- when they quietly scrapped the plan- they kept using the numbers they would save from the people paying into the plan- even though no ones going to pay into it- because they scrapped it.
Okay- nothing new. He did this with the so called 500 billion savings from Medicare- he used the number- twice- and came up with a fake amount of 1 trillion dollars in savings.
At the time- I remember only one news reporter calling him out on it- all the other news people were on his side- and would not report anything negative- not even open deception.
So the A.P. got tired- they have been blowing the cover on all these types of shady deals these last few weeks- they should have been doing it from the start.
I’ll end with my favorite news guy- you know who I’m talking about [those who read the posts] good old Chris Matthews. Sharpton even honored him last night on his show- he said he felt that Matthews tingle going up his leg too [no joke!]
Matthews believes he is instructing the president- that his role in life is to fight those darn Red Necks and do whatever needs to be done to make Obama succeed. Even not cover stories where the justice dept is covering up illegal gun running op’s that have killed Americans.
So yesterday the Times put out an op-ed that called for another 1.2 trillion dollar stimulus [I kid you not]. They went on to say that if the govt. spends another 1.2 trillion on infrastructure spending- that it will provide millions of new jobs and solve the unemployment problem.
I did not read the piece- I heard Matthews comment on it on his show. It must have been a Paul Krugman piece.
This view- Keynesian economics- has been tried on the largest scale ever- during Obama’s first 2.5 years- and it has failed miserably.
If you had 3 kids who needed work- and you thought ‘geez- let me go to the bank and borrow 20 thousand dollars’. And with that money you simply paid them to go dig holes- or fix park benches- or any number of other odd jobs.
Sooner or later that money will run out- and so will the job.
But if you gave the kid 20 thousand- helped him start up a small business- and he became successful and hired the other sons- well then you did more than simply pay him from borrowed cash to do a one time job. No- you empowered him to make a living- for himself and the other boys.
That’s pretty simple- and those who keep calling for more stimulus- well they are like the dad who keeps going to the bank to borrow money to pay his son to go dig the ditch- and when that money runs out he thinks ‘geez- the answer is go borrow some more’. That type of money will always run out- because you’re really not stimulating true job growth- your simply paying someone to do a one time job.
Okay- that’s it for today. I hope all these guys can get their act together a little more- and avoid the actual lying about the numbers- like the CLASS example- when people do stuff like that- then there will be little chance to really solve the problems- that approach is pure political posturing- we need more statesman and less politicians today.
 LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD?
I read an article the other day- some guy got busted for assault- because of Facebook. It went on to say how he posted a status update when his mom died- and he was waiting for his estranged wife to ‘like’ it.
She never responded- so he did what any normal person would- he jumped in the car and drove over to her house. Okay- I’m gonna ad lib here ‘knock knock’ she comes to the door and he says ‘go into that damn computer room right now and Like the status’!
One thing lead to another- and he got busted.
What’s wrong with this picture? I mean he was talking to her- in the ‘real world’ face to face- yet instead of saying ‘ex- are you sad that mom died’- no- he says ‘go like the post!’
Okay- this will be the last post for a while on philosophy- I think I did about 3 or 4 the last week or so- I used to do one subject and stick with it for around a month.
Then at the end of the study [Physics, History, etc.] I would stick them all together on the blog as a single study.
But I realized that new friends who are just reading the site- post by post- they might think that’s all I write about- so now I’m trying to just do a few at a time.
Okay- we made it all the way to Plato and his famous school that he founded at Athens [Greece]. Though Socrates was his teacher- yet Socrates never founded an actual school.
Like I said earlier- Plato had a view of Reality that was a bit strange. He was an Idealist- not in the way we use the term today [mostly] but he believed that Ideas themselves were the real world- and what we see/experience in the material world are not ‘as real’.
Plato believed that knowledge was A Priori- which means the actual knowledge about a thing exists before the thing comes into being.
The famous example he used was a Chair. He would ask ‘what is that’ pointing to a chair. The student would respond ‘a chair’ Plato would say ‘and how do you know this- how did you obtain that knowledge’ and he argued that in the Idea realm- there is a perfect form of Chairness that exists- and that’s why we can identify ‘the chair’ in the material realm.
Now- Plato’s most famous student was a man named Aristotle. He actually respected his teacher a lot- but there was some tension between the 2. Plato was more of a down to earth type guy- liked to wear plain clothes- did lots of his teaching by walking around the classroom- interacting with people.
Aristotle was more of a ‘Fancy Pants’ type guy. He had a little bit of the elitist thing going on. He was more of a book worm than Plato- and he would eventually start his own school to compete with Plato’s Academy.
Aristotle’s school was named the Lyceum. Aristotle was more of a Realist than an Idealist. He believed that this material world was more than just a copy of the Idea world. He taught that Substance and matter were very real- and that contained within the thing is the actual form and future potential of ‘that thing’.
For instance- the Acorn has within it the actual form of the Oak Tree. This form did not come from an Idea world- it came from the thing itself- the Acorn.
So matter has within it both the potential of its future form- as well as eventually becoming that thing.
For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact.
Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo].
The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might.
This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church.
In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine.
Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right.
Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that.
Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference.
I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school.
It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the modern space Era.
Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one.