Category Archives: ENJOY YOURSELF
Unholy Hype: Many churches & religious organizations are following the playbook of Madison Avenue & Dr. Goebbels
The contemporary American empire
The (near) future American empire?
For those of you who are believers and subscribe to prosperity theology aka “The Prosperity Gospel”: Please take some time and carefully read Rev. Bert M. Farias’s new Charisma article titled “8 Reasons to Flee From Carnal Prosperity Preachers“. As you will see, Rev. Farias marshalled some powerful scripture-centric reasoning in this insightful piece and, if I were a betting man, I’d wager the good Lord is going to have him write a book on this very topic (I know Dr. Michael Brown has written extensively about this topic but there is always room on the proverbial plate of life for another incisive tome on the subject).
If after reading Rev. Farias’s conclusions and cautionary warnings you are tempted to reject them, kindly check out the earliest known catechism for messianic non-Jews which is the Didache (Many scholars believe it was written and first circulated in 50 CE. Given that Yeshua HaMashiach was crucified by the imperial Roman government sometime between 30 and 33 CE, this means the Didache was penned perhaps as few as 17 years after his death, burial and resurrection). It has a few choice things to say about greed (The very first chapter of it includes instructions on “almsgiving”). Those who wish to read it in its entirety can do so online for free at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-lake.html
And for those good folks who appreciate authoritative and balanced commentaries, there is one on the Didache which IMO is top flight: The Way of Life (Didache: A New Translation and Messianic Jewish Commentary) by Toby Janicki (600 pages, Vine of David © 2017). I actually had a gift copy sent to Rev. Farias during early January of this year and have sent copies to many other people in my orbit as well since then.
My fellow Roman Catholic Charismatics are invited to read Why the Prosperity Gospel Is Bankrupt by “Catholic Answers” writer Trent Horn.
On 6-16-2018 Rev. Bert M. Farias posted the request below on his very popular Facebook page. A number of replies followed including one comment from a Miss Alice. I responded to her comment, Rev. Farias to mine, and so it went back & forth between us. We did not exactly stay on topic but did kibitz on things that might, just might prove of interest to some of you.
For those who have the time and interest:
I’d like some feedback on this comment to my recent article. I’m constantly searching my heart on these issues, never wanting to be high-minded about these things, but to remain teachable. I guess the core question I found myself asking after reading this comment is this: What are some indicators of preachers who teach the gain is godliness message, and that financial prosperity equates to spirituality? (the article is on my timeline as I didn’t want to repost it).
READER COMMENT: “There are some things worth considering in this article but it is hard to judge someone’s heart and steweardship (sic) based only on their wealth. I will say that it seems extreme to compare someone like Joyce Meyer 35 million in estimated net worth to Bill Gates 91 billion, (A 2600 times difference) If I followed this logic, a typical minister in the USA might have 200k in net worth, while many poor have only debt. This is worse than 2600 times. Should ministers be allowed to have two cars when much of the world does not have a bike? Using the same standard, such relativism could apply the label false teacher to any Western Christian that has a skilled occupation. No, fortunately, God looks on the heart. Are you ruled by money or are you ruled by God? There is no certain dollar standard, lest all Westerners be guilty. Never mind that it takes LARGE Christian donors to move policy to the right..such as what occurred in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.”
Alice: And one more comment: I once had a lady ask me why God didn’t let Christians win things like PCH millions of dollars prizes. My answer, without evening thinking about it, was that to many Christians can’t /won’t tithe on a $1,000, how can God trust them with millions. I believe God will bless obedience. It’s not just money, but in everything that concerns us. I don’t believe in all this “give $49.52 and God will multiply it 100 fold” stuff. That is just manipulation. But the Word does say that we are blessed with faithful Abraham. Again, that’s not JUST money.
Anthony G. Payne Right on, Miss Alice. I would add: If God rigged drawings & lotteries to favor specific Christians or others winning he would be guilty of engaging in a form of cheating (When chance is violated in such lotteries by people who profit from it or do so to profit others this is a crime. Of course, human law is not binding on God in instances in which it violates his articulated rules and ways, but he does respect these when they spring from or dovetail with his rules & ways, i.e., his prescribed laws/instructions & ethics).
Bert Farias Anthony G. Payne Dr. Payne! Nice of you to chime in. 😁
Anthony G. Payne I’ll be sending you something from my laboratory shortly, Herr Reverend (It took a while, yes, to process it). Oh vey! Oh, and here’s a link to my “What’s Up, Doc?” fill-in-the-blanks video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zdIRLuTTgU (Do I know how to have fun or what?!?!)
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/275281155″>Eh, what’s up doc?</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user86267628″>Dr. Anthony G. Payne</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Bert Farias Not only do you know how to have fun, but you are brilliant! To God be the glory! While you’re putting the finishing touches on your lab work, I’m gonna need about a gallon of that hair stuff! 😂
Bert Farias I’ll pay for it!
Bert Farias And if both of these things work for me I will spread the good cheer and joy and market it in my circles.
Anthony G. Payne As a boy I was smitten by astronomer Edwin Hubble’s writings including this beautiful, powerful gem….
“The scientist explores the world of phenomena by successive approximations. He knows that his data are not precise and that his theories must always be tested. It is quite natural that he tends to develop healthy skepticism, suspended judgment, and disciplined imagination.”
Later on, as an adult, I got into explor-i-menting and discovered firsthand how my own musings & handiwork are but “successive approximations”. Sometimes a hypothesis or idea or invention will pan out quickly, while at other times it needs retooling & retesting or, worst case scenario, proves an irredeemable dud (And, yes, sometimes an invention or product creation will work for some or a few and not the many). But above all I strive to question my own findings & conclusions. The alternative tends to birth dogma which is anathema for the theorist as well as the experimentalist.
Bert Farias Anthony G. Payne Our God of wonders and selection put this in your heart at a young age. You not only have to have an acute sense of fascination but incredible patience to explore such things.
Anthony G. Payne Most of us are natural born explor-i-mentalists, Herr Reverend. We are all engaged in testing this against that and weighing the preponderance of evidence & logic for and against things (albeit to varying degrees). The sad part if that so many folks have had their curiosity and willingness to question & test certain beliefs & such constrained or eroded by dogmatic teachers or preachers or family or others who prefer to dole out pat answers & solutions that are never to be questioned (The truth is these people should actually welcome such questioning and even argumentation as it might just compel them to closely examine, revise and even discard that which is unfruitful or useless). IMO we should all take to heart the approach of scientists and rabbis who question almost everything and take nothing as absolutely settled or final (Which is to say any claim, pet theory, finding or even law of nature can be overturned by sufficient contrary evidence).
Life often revolves around roles we play and things we do. You undoubtedly have many passions, interests and commitments (Some of mine are reflected in the 1m29s video below), which I hope also includes doing good works and cultivating a solid relationship with the Almighty. Ever onward in shalom!
Like many of you reading this blog I have been following eschatologists, prophecy teachers and perusing bible-based prophecy books for what seems like an eternity (1960s on in my case). Along the way I have noted and sometimes jotted down prophecies that were precise as opposed to nonspecific, meaning specific timeframes and events such as a major quake in southern California were predicted in “thus says the Lord” fashion. None panned out.
Now, as you might expect my interest in eschatology and prophecy has not escaped the notice of close friends, family and others in my orbit. This leads to my getting emails containing prophetic words in oral or written form penned or spoken by various (mostly) evangelical preachers and self-proclaimed prophets. I typically retain those prophecies that bear a specific timeframe and later compare the predicted catastrophe, upheaval or what-have-you with what actually unfolded (The misses outnumber the hits by an almost astronomical margin).
On occasion, I will have someone pass along an email “imminent warning prophetic word” more often than not given by a well-known evangelist or teacher whose prophetic track record is not just abysmal but a literally train (of accuracy) wreck. Last night (9-4-2017) I got one such email in which great credence was given to a prophecy Jim Bakker reportedly shared concerning the recent flooding in Houston (and this well before Hurricane Harvey hit). Here are a few of the salient sentences from this email concerning Bakker’s prophetic predictions:
That prophecy was right about the flood here. Jim Bakker remarked a prophecy after that was for California. He predicted an earthquake. Since he was correct about the flood in Houston, I hope you take him serious for earthquake preparedness. Those products Bakker cover everything to get one through disaster.
To read the rest of my op-ed article go to http://summerclouds.weebly.com/summer-clouds-blog/and-now-a-word-about-failed-extrabiblical-prophecies
Matika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe
Matika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe
Dr. Anthony G. Payne *
(American Indian name, “Summer Cloud”)
When I was a boy (back in the Middle Ages – 1960s) we American Indians* were portrayed on TV and the movies as hopeless drunks, savages who spoke broken English at best, rapists, turncoats, and other equally unsavory characters. Newspapers and news shows did little better with most of the stories I read or saw focused on Native crimes or poverty, mostly in a “isn’t that too bad let’s move on now” vein. As though this weren’t enough I was surrounded by plenty of white adults and children who thought nothing of tossing out racist jokes and comments about American Indians (and African Americans and Hispanics as well) without batting an eyelash. Bigotry was acceptable and in some quarters applauded.
Of course, much has changed in the intervening years if only the fact overt racism has been replaced in many quarters by subtler versions. Gone are most of the Hollywood movie stereotypes but not the notion among many that American Indians are all steeped in poverty or stone-faced in the face of suffering, past and present.
Enter photographer Matika Wilbur, a member of both the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, who decided to use her considerable artistic gifts & perspective to capture the faces of members of all the federally recognized American Indian tribes in an ambitious project she calls “562” (The number of federally recognized tribes when she began her odyssey in 2010, with more having been added since). In-a-word she wants to debunk the many false, hurtful images and stereotypes that surrounded Native American culture and society and to reassert the fact that Native peoples had not only survived centuries of marginalization, wanton cruelty and wholesale extermination but have held on to their own identities, heroes and sense of pride.
A November 23 2013 piece by NBC news had this to say about Wilbur’s mission:
One of those stereotypes is the image of Indians clad in feathers, nearly naked running across the prairie, whooping it up like what’s oft portrayed in western cinema. Also the caricature image of Indians as mascots.
With that in mind, Wilbur said the project is meant to drive conversations about the ubiquitous appropriation of Native American culture and to discuss how U.S. citizens can evolve beyond the co-opting of indigenous images and traditions.
“I hope to educate these audiences that it’s not OK to dress up like an Indian on Halloween,” she said. “I’m not a Halloween costume. I hope to encourage a new conversation of sharing and to help us move beyond the stereotypes.”
Wilbur added that she hopes her photos — her craft — will display the “beauty of (Native) people and to introduce some of our leaders to a massive audience.”
Wilbur is not, of course, the first photographer to focus on American Indians. In 1906, photographer and ethnologist Edward S. Curtis was commissioned by J.P. Morgan to go out and capture the “disappearing” race on film. Given the fact that over a century has passed since Curtis’s undertaking, Matika’s quest is not just welcome but long overdue.
Readers who’d like to invest in Matika Wilbur’s vision can do so by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matika/project-562-changing-the-way-we-see-native-america/description
* I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
© 2014 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. This update copyright 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
What follows below is a slightly truncated & edited email I sent to Rev. Bert M. Farias in response to a 5-4-16 article of his concerning the ever-growing embrace of Donald Trump by many Republicans, evangelical Christians and others.
Good Thursday (May 5, 2016), Rev. Farias!
I perused your 5-4-2016 Flaming Herald entry titled How Cruz’s Dropout Exposes the Corruption of the American Soul and thought you might welcome some feedback on it.
First off, I have no doubt but that some of your readers and even supporters (especially any diehard Trump supporters) will take exception with your article and make an exit, stage far right (of course). As you yourself stated, “I know I may lose followers, readers and even friends over this article, but that’s OK”.
I am not a Trump supporter or fellow traveler — quite the opposite actually (I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1986). But even if I were, I would not head for the door after reading your article. One of the things I discovered early on in my work as a theorist is that truth, not only in science but in most other areas of life, is arrived at haltingly in the form of what famed astronomer Edwin Hubble characterized as “successive approximations”.
For those who feel unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play a significant role in God’s doings in this world
If you are a believer who feels unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play any sort of role in the Almighty’s work in this world, do yourself a BIG favor and watch the interview below.
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]
Let’s talk color. Specifically the color blue. Does this happen to be your favorite color? If so, you share this affinity with about 29% of other people (including “yours truly”) according to a 2012 poll (Click to read how blue ranks in popularity worldwide). But what does blue mean to you anyway?
The mental linkage between the word “blue” and being down or depressed aside, blue is an uplifting color in that it characterizes bodies of water (unless overrun with Styrofoam cups and pollutants or algae or such) and the skies above on a sunny day.
Scientists, of course, have found many interesting properties about blue light. For example, blue light at wavelengths of 670 and 830 nanometers ameliorates multiple sclerosis symptoms. And there is this: recently Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars captured images of a blue sunset on the red planet! (Click to access a CNN story on this phenomenon)
How many times during the course of your life have you created a social or personal reality or embraced one created by others? By this I am not referring to an imaginary playmate or fantasy job or such but, rather, to a reality or fact based on mutual agreement or assent.
Sound crazy? It isn’t. The imminent philosopher John Searle actually devoted part of a whole book to the thesis that there are 2 kinds of facts: Those that are facts no matter who observes them, and then there are those that only need people’s agreement or assent to them. A fossil ammonite, for instance, is a physical object that remains a fossil ammonite no matter who looks at it or holds it. A church group’s claim that an archangel hovered over their last meeting is a mental reality to those who perceived it but cannot be demonstrated to those who do not share this perception/belief-based perspective (The same can be said of some treatments and diagnostic techniques in the world of complementary-alternative medicine).
Got 2 minutes to spare? Then sit back and enjoy a mix of fact, fantasy & tongue-n-cheek from “yours truly” (Dr. Anthony G. Payne)
I have a different spin on this which is not peculiar youth or young people: What will you let life do to you?
“What do I mean?”, you ask. It’s really quite simple: Every person, influence, work of art and music, hobby, passion, group, tribe and such is writing paragraphs and chapters in the unique storybook which is your life. Your very being may even form a dynamic circuit with select others.
Picture your life as a huge whiteboard. Now walk along and read the entries on it — “the good, bad and ugly”, if you will. As you look around you see the various people in your life writing on your “lifeboard”. What kind of story has emerged? Are you happy with it? If not, how many “bad content writers” can and should be banned from writing on your lifeboard in 2015?
Dr. Anthony G. Payne
SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
►Which dominates your life: Competition or sharing & harmonization?
►Is what you’ve been doing with your life consistent with your core nature, or not? That is, are you faithful to your true or authentic self or not?
►Do you tend to think your own thoughts or those of Madison Avenue, Wall Street, etc.?
►Are you nurturing what is genuine & true in life or something else entirely?
►Which is better: To be whole or something else?
►Do you resist learning what closed doors have to teach you?
►Have you consciously embraced your limitations?
►Are the “ought’s” & “should have’s” that bedevil you reflect who you really are?
►Do you run from failure and “experiments gone bad” or learn the lessons they offer and revise your life course accordingly?
►Have the roles you play in life, its pleasures, indulgences, escapes, or obligations, or something else eclipsed or undermined the “you beneath & within”?
►Do the conflicts and paradoxes in your life demand resolution, or embrace & integration into all that you are?
►Is your trip through the valley preparing you to fulfill your unique purpose in life?
As a boy in Lubbock (Texas) I spent many lazy summer afternoons just lying prone on a bed of rich green grass and cloud watching (While, yes, looking for recognizable patterns or characters). I bet you did your fair share of childhood cloud watching too. If so, you’ll appreciate this video immensely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf1P4WuQ8Lk
And here’s a perspective-expanding book to read while you cloud watch: Faces in the Clouds by Stewart Guthrie, Ph.D.