Category Archives: DISPUTES & CONTROVERSIES
Anthony G. Payne
Reports are beginning to surface indicating that retail sources for emergency preparedness or survival gear, dehydrated foods, seeds and such cannot keep up with demand. It isn’t hard to figure out why with articles and tweets and such appearing almost every few minutes on what is happening or lies ahead in term of climate spawned global upheaval, tectonic activity that is triggering volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and other calamities, fracking induced quakes, super droughts and massive wildfires, epidemics, increasing social conflict & unrest and gun violence, economic instability in nations great and small, the unrestrained barbarity of ISIS, not to mention terrorist acts taking place worldwide by people of every extremist stripe, and a seemingly endless litany of calamities both human-made and natural that are sending millions of refugees streaming into Italy, Hungary, and elsewhere. And this hardly begins to scratch the surface of how many ways life is now making various doomsday movies, books and such that appeared in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond almost prophetic.
As you might expect, many well known televangelists and other prominent figures in the evangelical world are frantically linking headlines to their reading of ancient prophecies in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelations and other biblical books. Some are even offering emergency preparedness or survival supplies for donations.
At this moment messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s books such as “The Harbinger” (2012) and especially “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked” (2015) are selling like hotcakes and keeping him booked on various religious programs aired on TBN, CBN and such. Just in case you haven’t read anything by Cahn or about his spin on prophecy, he basically claims that certain laws, principles and promises originally given solely to Israel and restricted to her, apply to the United States.
Of course, it is almost a given that any attempt to tie in “end times” prophecies to America (which isn’t remotely alluded to anywhere in the Bible according to both Jewish and Christian scholars, historians and others), requires building a house on speculation and linkages that are typically tenuous at best.
Mind you, I very much believe that the ancient prophecies will be fulfilled. And yes, I see many, many patterns and events unfolding that indicate that what was promised will be fulfilled. But this does not lend credence to futurist predictions that are based on reading prophecies that apply solely to Israel into unfolding events in the US (and the EU for that matter).
Now let me sit back and throw a few thoughts at you:
(1) As I write this (9-2-2015) world economic markets are in upheaval. Economists and others see this as an expected “course correction”. Many proponents of “The Shemitah” thesis argue that this signals a fast approaching economic tsunami and all the chaos and sociopolitical insanity this would likely unleash.
While it is possible Rabbi Cahn and those in his camp could be right, I would not see such a major economic crisis as prophecy fulfilled at all, as the “Shemitah” has no connection to the US. I would put it on the same level of prognostication as the old joke that “even a broken clock is right twice a day”.
If you need convincing that spinning predictions that plug America into biblical prophecy is problematic, go online and buy used copies of prophecy-based books such as Hal Lindsey’s “The Late, Great Planet Earth“. Then go through historic records and see how much of the speculation in these tomes came to pass.
(2) Now a word about ministers and others who are urging their congregants and TV/virtual viewers to donate money to get literally years of dehydrated foods, grains, etc., plus solar power generators and such: I think having a preparedness stash to make it through a 3-14 day power outage or such is a prudent move (Hurricane Katrina and other recent natural disasters alone argue for this). But for most people buying and storing years of supplies and solar generators and such is not only cost prohibitive, but would actually make them targets if our society was plunged into total chaos. I have often wondered how long these people think it would be before roaming hordes of hungry people would break into and pilfer their stockpiles. Some of these “Christian survivalists”, yes, are probably setting up underground bunkers to hide in and also have enough firepower and ammo to fend off scores of the desperate, but it is doubtful they can hold out interminably (The last 3.5 years of the “Great Tribulation” anyway, when evil has its way on a grand scale). And how, I ask, is this living out the Bible and Yeshua/Yehoshua’s admonition to share with those who are hungry, cold, etc.? It amazes me that neither the ministers and Bible teachers who are feverously hawking these survivalist supplies or their supporters see the inherent problems and (biblical) contradictions in what they are advocating and doing.
If you are interested in reading exposes on the biblical difficulties presented by Rabbi Cahn’s books (“The Harbinger” and “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked”) read these articles:
That God expects or will impose a Shemitah upon any nation other than Israel has no scriptural basis. Neither do the Scriptures provide any indication that the Shemitah is some sort of universal principle that operates throughout or even at various times in history.
And these “yours truly” penned:
If you are a believer who is fearful the “end times” is fast approaching — and it may well be (But be aware of those things that must precede it as laid out in When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near) — my advice is to steep yourself in faith-edifying teachings and prayer, bring your conduct and actions into obedience to what the Almighty requires, learn to discern what is evil from what is not (And yes, they are getting increasingly confused these days, i.e., evil is called good and good, evil), and connect with other believers who worry less about “worshipper friendly” banter and political correctness and more about holiness and empowerment (Spirit baptism, Grace, the fear of God). I highly recommend these books as a sort of “Faith & Empowerment 101” crash course:
Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible by Larry Sparks
Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown
Good or God? by John Bevere
But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
I am, by the way, a novice monk in the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order (Full monk in 2018) as well as in service as a monk to several other religious communities & monastic organizations which are part of the New Monasticism movement, and have my own website devoted to spiritual matters and resources at http://summerclouds.weebly.com/ which is geared to help people “sort the wheat from the chaff”. Unlike some believers especially clerics you might have read, watched or listened to (especially fundamentalists and many evangelicals), I do not have all the answers in every area of life and faith. I have come to adhere to certain core truths and am morally conservative, yes, but like many of you am still wrestling with and working out some aspects of what is most consonant with God’s word (Hebrew & Christian scriptures).
Anthony G. Payne (American Indian name “Summer Cloud”)
© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Scientists are not immune to bias as this insightful article lays out beautifully: http://nautil.us/issue/24/error/the-trouble-with-scientists [The timing is great too as “yours truly” is tentatively slated to begin doing bench research alongside a molecular biologist (PhD) and a stem cell biologist (PhD) starting during the fall of 2015]
From the “sure to throw off your spiritual gyroscope” department: 3 books — 2 free online & 1 cheap through Amazon
Will Islam Be Our Future? A Study of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Joel Richardson
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
The RAPTURE QUESTION Answered: Plain & Simple by Robert Van Kampen
A lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.
Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany. The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI, and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).
Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.
Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County, NY State) appealing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4
The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”
How can you help fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws? Let people know about “jury nullification” and, if you are called on to serve on a jury that involves an unjust or wrongly applied law, use it yourself.
This article lays it all out: http://www.exposingthetruth.co/peoples-law-nullification/#axzz2ejSFhFAF
Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. But more to the point, she’s also the former Editor-in-Chief at the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably one of the most respected medical journals on earth. But after reading her article in the New York Review of Books called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, one wonders if any medical journal on earth is worth anybody’s respect anymore.
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Dr. Angell cites the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains:
“Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age.”
Biederman’s own studies of the drugs he advocates to treat childhood bipolar disorder were, as The New York Times summarized the opinions of its expert sources, “so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive.”
In June 2009, an American senate investigation revealed that drug companies, including those that make drugs he advocates for childhood bipolar disorder, had paid Biederman $1.6 million in “consulting” and “speaking” fees between 2000 and 2007.
“Two of Biederman’s colleagues received similar amounts. After the revelation, the president of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the chairman of its physician organization sent a letter to the hospital’s physicians expressing not shock over the enormity of the conflicts of interest, but sympathy for the beneficiaries: “We know this is an incredibly painful time for these doctors and their families, and our hearts go out to them.”
Biederman’s failure to disclose his Big Pharma payments to his employers ar Harvard (as is required for all Harvard employees) has been under investigation* for the past two years by Harvard Medical School, in as journalist Alison Bass describes this: “what must be the longest investigation in that school’s history”).
Dr. Angell’s article contains bombshell after bombshell, all gleaned during her tenure as NEJM editor. For example, on the subject of doctors who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, she writes:
“No one knows the total amount provided by drug companies to physicians, but I estimate from the annual reports of the top 9 U.S.-based drug companies that it comes to tens of billions of dollars a year in North America alone.By such means, the pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease.”
Revelations like this from medical profession insiders cast serious doubt on more than what’s printed on the pages of these medical journals.
Your physician reads these journals, treatment decisions are changed, care is affected, drugs are prescribed – all based on Big Pharma-funded medical ghostwriter-prepared journal articles from physicians who fraudulently claim to be the study authors. Then you walk out of your doctor’s office with a prescription for a drug that may or may not kill you, based on treatment protocols written by doctors like Biederman who are on the take from Big Pharma.
A very recent example of the sad reality over at the once-prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is their decision to publish a drug company-funded review article. This review attempts to discredit emerging research suggesting that many years of using Merck’s Fosamax or Procter & Gamble’s Actonel (both osteoporosis drugs in a class called bisphosphonates) could actually result in more leg bone fractures.
Not surprisingly, drug manufacturers of bisphosphonates are fighting back ferociously against this emerging (independent) research. A Merck-funded review paper published in the NEJM on March 24, 2010 concludes:
“The occurrence of fracture of the subtrochantericor diaphyseal femur was very rare, even among women who had been treated with bisphosphonates for as long as 10 years.”
Sounds promising for Big Pharma. But if you look very, very closely, the article’s fine print confesses:
“The study was underpowered for definitive conclusions.”
You might justifiably ask yourself why a medical journal would stoop to publishing a meaningless scientific paper that the paper’s own authors admit lacks any conclusion. Even more troubling than a journal article that was itself bought and paid for by Merck, is the conflict of interest disclosure list at the bottom of this NEJM article. It reads like a Who’s Who of Big Pharma.
Of the 12 study authors listed in the NEJM article, at least three are full-time employees of Merck or Novartis. Each one of the other nine admit owning equity interests in or receiving cash, travel expenses, or “consulting and lecture fees” from companies including Merck, Novartis, Amgen, Roche Nycomed, Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronics, Nastech, Nestle, Fonterra Brands, OnoPharma, Osteologix, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Tethys, Unilever,Unipath, Inverness Medical, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, OSIProsidion, or Takeda.
Why is the New England Journal of Medicine or any other credible medical journal accepting for publication articles submitted by paid employees of pharmaceutical companies?
As a cardiac patient, I’m gobsmacked by what appears to be this systemic corruption of not only medical journals who continue to publish what they clearly know is tainted research linked to drug marketing, but of the very doctors whom patients trust to look out for us. Since my heart attack in 2008, I take a fistful of cardiac meds every day, and I have no clue which of them were prescribed for me based on flawed research or tainted medical journal articles funded by the very companies that make my drugs.
And worse, neither do my doctors.
Happily, there are other decent physicians out there who, like Dr. Angell, are just as outraged as she is. Her targets are not just guilty of unethical conflict of interest – they are criminals who should be charged with endangering our health while padding their wallets.
Read Dr. Angell’s article from the New York Review of Books, called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption.
* NEWS UPDATE: “Massachusetts General Hospital Discloses Sanctions against Three Psychiatrists for Violating Ethics Guidelines”, July 1, 2011: The Boston Business Journal said today that three psychiatrists have been sanctioned for failing to adequately report seven-figure payments they received from drug companies.
Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens disclosed the disciplinary actions against them in a note to colleagues. According to a copy of the note made public upon request by the hospital, the three doctors:
• must refrain from “all industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year
• for two years after the ban ends, must obtain permission from Mass. General and Harvard Medical School before engaging in any industry-sponsored, paid outside activities and then must report back afterward
• must undergo certain training
• face delays before being considered for “promotion or advancement.”
The three doctors have been under the political microscope since June 2008 when Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, began investigating conflicts of interest involving clinicians. Biederman and Wilens have since admitted to accepting $1.6 million from drug companies whose drugs they were promoting; Spencer took $1 million.
Senator Grassley said, according to an online version of the Congressional record:
“These three Harvard doctors are some of the top psychiatrists in the country, and their research is some of the most important in the field. They have also taken millions of dollars from the drug companies.”
- Does The Medical Profession Need To Wean Itself From The Pervasive Dependence on Big Pharma Money?
- Warning: Clinical Trials Funded by Drug Companies May Appear More Truthful Than They Actually Are
- Bioethical Journal: “How Drug Marketing Corrupts Every Part of the Scientific and Medical Network”
- How the “Shrink’s Bible” Can Make you Sick
- Harvard Cozies Up with Big Pharma
- Harvard’s Ethical Ultimatum to Doc: Give Up Big Pharma Moonlighting Jobs, or Lose Harvard Teaching Post
- Is Your Doctor a “Thought Leader”?
- Bad Doctors Earning Good Money from Big Pharma
- Doctor’s Kiss & Tell Tale: My One-Year Career As a Drug Rep
No doubt you’ve come across more than a few TV segments or Web items or both on the many eye-opening episodes from Paula Deen’s past involving racially insensitive words and deeds (The latest being a just released NY Times story at http://nyti.ms/12mBZaO). What I found troublesome in all this was the argument (rationalization) she offered a while back to the effect that the South she grew up in was in some ways a bastion of antebellum bigotry and thus by extension it is almost expected that folks who grew up in it would harbor such notions. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is true. In fact, I know this is true because I grew up in the South (Texas and Louisiana) during the very time Deen did. I am Southern born & bred and have ancestors on both sides of my family that go back to before the Revolutionary war in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi. My great, great grandparents and their offspring lived as citizens of the C.S.A. and some actually fought under the stars & bars as Confederate soldiers. However, my Euro-American father and American Indian (Choctaw) mother never used racist terms or tolerated racist jokes nor even once used the N-word. Not once. And while I heard this pejorative word tossed about by other Southerners as both a put-down of African Americans and as a way to defuse their own fears of (I gather) being upstaged by them, I wanted no part of it. So it follows that a Southerner can grow up around racist words & thinking and yet not wind up perpetuating them in word or deed. This lends me to be wholly unsympathetic to Deen’s attributing what she said and did in the past to exposure to what amounted to “acceptable bigotry”.
At this moment many of my fellow Southerners are rallying to Deen’s side and marshaling all kinds of arguments to excuse her past “sins” and in-a-way redeem her person and legacy. From what I see they are well meaning people, not hood wearing types or sympathetic to these living anachronisms, though most seem unaware that forgiving Deen’s actions is one thing but trying to rationalize them is quite another.
But let me add this: Attacks on the person who is Paula Deen should not be sanctioned or perpetuated. Attack bad ideas and actions, not the person in the sense of interpreting their motivations or what they feel (None of us can pull this off when it comes to our own being much less anyone else, as most of this takes place at a nonconscious level and is not accessible to conscious processes in our brains).
Let us reject racist ideas and actions and any rationalizations meant to excuse them, but not act as if this reveals what is in the hearts of those who toss them about and by virtue of thus defines their character or very soul (Unless the doer flat out says that their actions stem from heartfelt beliefs and convictions and actually does reflect their soul of souls. Then we should pity them and pray they wise up).
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Do we live in a messed up culture or what? Congress is gridlocked (aka constipated) and Wall Street seems to have terminal IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – alternating constipation & diarrhea). It looks like virtually everything is illegal or soon will be which surely is linked to the phenomenal growth of the prison industry. And single folks, they flock to on-line dating services where they find legions of married people looking for “afternoon delight” or its equivalent. People in general are now so jaded and fearful that just about anything from a sour look to a bag of skittles and a bottle of iced tea qualifies as a deadly threat. And the boxers in the ring – that’s you and me folks – are so punch-drunk we longer hear the bell, see the canvas… or even care. To hear the most vocal among us we are either one step from becoming the Fourth Reich or else on the slippery slope to some form of communalism or communism or some ism no one seems to favor or else believes signals the advent the “End Times”. I’m pretty sure if an extraterrestrial intelligence actually visited this veil of tears it would not conclude we are “Mostly Harmless” and would stick a quarantine beacon in high orbit to warn off other space travelers.
So how did we wind up so utterly messed up? I’m sure you have your own pet theories and suspicions. Me? I think it all started with the Founding Fathers and then Disney. Yep, the Founding Fathers and Disney. You see, those venerable Übermensch who founded our empire..uh…republic, elected to write some nonsense about our being entitled to pursue happiness. The problem is, they didn’t posses a roadmap to happiness or anything like it, nor did they seem to have the remotest idea what exactly it is or would even look like (Albeit some folks tried heartily to achieve it by abusing every vice known to humankind). But then came Walt Disney and his cadre of mythmakers and propagandists who spoon fed us Baby Boomers (as well as those who had the misfortune of following in our wake) versions of reality in which all wrongs are righted; the Princess, puppet turned human, talking cricket and exceedingly cute fawn and most of her family beat the odds and lived; and the wicked witch and all those like her ultimately get theirs, and everyone somehow lives happily ever after. Now what do you think happens when you fill impressionable kids with notions of being entitled to pursue happiness and then feed them a steady diet of Disney films as though it were some kind of magical roadmap? Why, hell yeah, you get a bunch of disappointed, anxious, spoiled, conceited neurotics who spin their wheels and fritter their lives away trying to dull the pain of not having a Disney-esque life, family, job, or future. Most wind up chucking their St. Whatever statue out their car, van, truck or armored personnel carrier window, and placing one of St. Al (Al Bundy) or St. Sam (Kinison) in its place. This pathetic existential state naturally gives rise to a host of evils such as drunkenness, cheating, sexless relationships, career burnout, road rage, shoplifting, hoarding, running over the neighbor’s dog, tossing litter out of vehicle windows, overeating and fudging on income tax returns. In the end, many find themselves wondering if happiness is something only those in the local cemetery found and this by making a permanent stage left.
Is there hope for this messed up state-of-affairs? There is. Forget the pursuit of happiness and instead pursue loyalty, faithfulness, virtue, and honesty. And toss all those Disney DVDs in the rubbish bin and make a point of exposing your children and/or grandchildren to stories that do not necessarily end with everyone living “happily ever after” but do teach them something about sacrifice, hard work, persistence, set-backs, tolerance, righting wrongs and doing what is good and right, as well as championing justice and equality for all while steadfastly resisting injustice and inequality in whatever guise. At least this way they will not be looking for a Disney world or Disney ending that will never come, though if they hang on and keeping doing what’s right and virtuous they might just get pretty darn close.
Choctaw Doc (Philosophizing from his porch swing)
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.