Category Archives: MINISTRY OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Since global warming is a fact and in one way or another an imminent threat to the well-being of every living thing known to mankind (including us), I think our increased ability to perceive it represents progress. The positivist method is not the only way to produce knowledge, and though “science” gets a lot of credit for sounding the alarm on climate change, it has been comparatively slow on the uptake. If we pay any attention at all, we can see and feel and hear that nature’s cycles are broken, and some peoples have understood for centuries that a society built on extraction and accumulation would burn the whole planet alive. Western science has a lot of nerve showing up just as we’re on the precipice of a biospheric death spiral to brandish some graphs and offer to block out the sun just a little.
Skewed: Bias, Corruption & Hypocrisy in Contemporary Science & Medicine
HARM: Side & adverse effects of conventional medicine & hospitals vs. natural (alternative medicine or CAM) health care practitioners and supplements & Side & adverse effects of natural & wholistic health care practices & supplements (A Compendium)
Unholy Hype: Many churches & religious organizations are following the playbook of Madison Avenue & Dr. Goebbels
Back in the early 1980s, while working towards a graduate degree in biological anthropology, I held down a full-time job as EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Operations Manager for a major portable oil rig manufacturer in Dallas (Texas.) When I joined this firm, I had two computer operators and two data entry operators helping run a two (2) shift data processing operation. Our IBM computer was state-of-the-art for its time (see photo below) and was primarily used to process financial, accounting, inventory and engineering data for company divisions throughout the US and overseas.
As the firm grew my department got busier and as a result needed to hire additional personnel. I made a point of seeking out qualified people who basically had been passed over by local businesses. In the span of a year or so my staff grew from four to thirteen with most being minorities (like myself.) The systems engineering group that interfaced with those of us in operations were almost exclusively middle-aged white men and women, most of whom did not readily welcome my diverse crew into the fold as-it-were.
Did I hire people of color simply because I was a minority myself (American Indian)? Not at all. The fact is I felt what I was doing would in some small way help offset unwritten policies that had constrained the hiring of qualified minorities.
What is interesting is that with the passage of time the all-white systems crew and my racially, ethnically and religiously diverse operations group began moving from a guarded, formal “business only please” level of interaction into a warmer comfort zone characterized by friendly banter and even playful joking. This was exactly what I had hoped for and anticipated.
The director of MIS (Management Information Systems) for the company, a former NASA systems analyst who had moved into corporate management after leaving the famed space agency, was so impressed with how much of a family the entire information systems department had become that he held it up as a model to higher-ups including the board of directors.
Of course, young working professionals sometimes seize more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, a reality that was visited upon my department when my third shift computer operator was offered a fatter paycheck and shorter commute by a competitor. I was sad to see her go but plowed ahead and began running ads in local newspapers and trade publications. Soon my mornings were filled with conducting interviews.
Now hang in with me – I have a point to make which ties into an egregious practice at work in companies across this nation.
During the course of conducting interviews a middle-aged gentleman came through my office door clutching his resume. After handing me a one-page summary of his impressive qualifications he told me straight up that he had lost his job when his former employer closed its doors and had been unemployed and interviewing for over six months. It took little time to realize why so many firms were not quick to snap this chap up: He had worked his way up into middle-management and was thus “overqualified” (aka ill-suited) to fill a “simple computer operator’s job”. The logical thing to do was send him on his way. After all, if hired he would likely seize the first management job offered him and leave me back at square one – filling a slot on third shift.
This kind of logic undoubtedly had persuaded other prospective employers to quickly show this graying bespectacled soul the door. But I was less concerned about doing the logical thing then the human thing. So, I hired the guy on-the-spot. It was a move I never regretted as he did the work of any 2 operators of my staff, went the extra mile when asked, never belly-ached and never missed a day’s work. And he worked at the operator’s job for many years before finally moving on (Which means the company more than got its “money worth” out of him.)
Oh, and he was white – but still a minority to my way of thinking. That is, he belonged to the chronically unemployed and seemingly unemployable. Which brings me at last to this: An article was posted to The Lookout blog (on 7-14-11) titled “Down but not out: Voices of the long-term unemployed.” In it writer Zachery Roth shared this:
• We asked whether employers were wary of hiring readers when they found out how long they’d been jobless — a form of discrimination that appears to have been on the rise lately. “Very much so,” replied Susan W. “As if it were my fault I was unemployed, regardless of the fact that I had put out hundreds of resumes and applications.”
• An enormous number of older readers said they think their age is part of the problem for employers. Paula S., from Acworth, Georgia, who said she was “sixty-something,” described “two eye-opening experiences of blatant age discrimination . . . . One twenty-something supervisor asked me if I had ever thought about coloring my hair . . . . Another manager told his assistant with the door open when I showed up to complete an application and interview: ‘We can’t hire any more old people.’”
I was in my mid-twenties when I hired that middle-aged seasoned computer pro to be a third shift computer operator (He was 55, a biochronological marker I passed some 7 years ago). In hiring him I placed doing the human thing over the logical thing. I can only hope that some of the people trying to fill jobs across America will come across this account and then take it to heart and do likewise.
© 2018 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
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).
If you have kept up with the flurry of books and papers on the nature of consciousness published in just the past decade alone, then you probably are under the impression that neuroscientists have made an overwhelmingly convincing case for brain activity as the source of consciousness and all else that is associated with this (“We are our brains”). And surely evolutionary psychologists have nailed down the most likely evolutionary influences and players that gave rise to key human mental and psychological traits. If you are tempted to say “Well, yes they have” to both, I want you to buy, beg or borrow a copy of “Aping Mankind” by Dr. Raymond Tallis and give it a thoughtful, careful read. By the time you finish perusing it, you will probably find your confidence badly shaken.
Mind you, Dr. Tallis’s critical literary tour-de-force is informed by his own rich academic and professional background in medicine, clinical neuroscience and philosophy. And, he is an atheist (He thus came to his thesis without religious convictions or sentiments).
And, just in case there is someone reading this who suspects Dr. Tallis is a creationist or is in any way sympathetic to such pseudoscientific nonsense, he is most empathetically not.
“Aping Mankind” ably tackles (what Dr. Tallis terms) “Neuromania” and “Darwinitis” with hard-hitting reasoning and arguments based on secular science and empiricism, logic, and good sense. In addition, Dr. Tallis’s book serves as a powerful reminder that in science nothing is forever settled or final; which is to say, even well-established principles, theories or laws can be overturned by sufficiently compelling contrary evidence.
Summer Cloud gives “Aping Mankind” 5 out of 5 stars.
© 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
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.
Intimacy has many forms and expressions, as you know — familial, romantic, sexual, and many others. You’ve got intimacy down pat, right? Now go do a Google search using the word intimacy and read a few of the articles concerning human relational intimacy (But skip the porno sites that may have gotten into your search results). After doing this I suspect you have found yourself questioning whether your mastery of intimacy is as thorough and complete as you thought it to be.
Now take this little self-reflection exercise a step further (provided you are a believer): do a Google search using the phrase (in parentheses) “Intimacy with God”. I did it just now and turned up 524,000 websites, blog entries and what-have-you. Now read through a few of the top ranked articles on this subject.
You probably read a lot about “surrender”, “transparency”, “obedience” and such (All consistent with what the Bible articulates about the God-human relationship).
What intrigues me is that many writers on the subject have a lot of “how to” steps based, in whole or part, on biblical examples and notions of what tends to draw us closer to the Almighty as well as those things that can throw a monkey wrench in the achievement of intimacy with God or complicate its development over time. Some of these writer-pontificators draw on personal experience. All this is fine and good and is generally valid at various levels and in various ways, I’m sure. And, I suspect, few (if any) believers are so instinctively and spiritually adept (gifted) at establishing and maintaining intimacy with God as to obviate the need for biblical and extrabiblical guidance or other input, such as “how to” guides and personal accounts (I invoked “I suspect” because it is hard to know for sure without surveying all believers).
In addition, I also suspect that many believers either think intimacy (at least the deepest, most profound expression of it) with God is something that he unilaterally ordains, decrees and facilitates, or is a matter of individual volition in the sense of approaching God and having faith he will respond to this and then help or enable us to wade into the waters of intimacy with him (starting with “toes first” and then progressing slowly over time as millimeter by millimeter of our being is submerged), or is a mix of both. Read the rest of this entry
FYE (For Your Edification): Brother “Practicing the Presence of God” Lawrence was a lay monk.
In keeping with this:
Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Instrument for Global Transformation by Dr. Ed Silvoso
The Real Jesus by Rev. Bert M. Farias
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”.
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.
100 year old Jim Downing, USN Lt. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, remembers the trauma & triumph of WWII (CBN Video News Segment)
Centenarian Remembers the Trauma and Triumph of WWII
As the 70th anniversary of World War II’s conclusion is commemorated, one eye witness, veteran Jim Downing recounts what it was like to live through this unparalleled time in history.
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]
Here is a analytic thought exploriment for you: Sit down and juxtapose current events (especially the darker side of the news) with the prophecies in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. I suspect that if you weren’t concerned about where civilization is headed before this exercise, you likely will be afterwards.
If you happen to be a Baby Boomer you probably have watched a succession of popular books and films on eschatology themes (“End of Era” events and corresponding prophecies) such as those of Hal Lindsey (Author of the bestselling 1970 book, “The Late Great Planet Earth“) come and go. A look back through these makes it very clear that nailing down the “End Times” is an iffy enterprise. However, today events are unfolding that line up with ancient prophecies in ways that are both starling and difficult to dismiss or gloss over.
And it isn’t believers in the mainstream religions that are blogging and tweeting on “End Times” prophecy. The Web abounds with fearful speculation on the part of people who are more secular in their thinking than religious or spiritual.
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)
If you stayed awake though your high school or college history of western (or world) civilization courses, you may recall lessons concerning the many instances in which ambitious, sometimes wantonly evil leaders probed for weakness in those they opposed and acted decisively when they found it. In light of these dark chapters in the human experiment, what do you think of our administration’s penchant for striking deals with regimes and groups whose expressed political and territorial ambitions are nothing short of one day obliterating those they consider their nemeses?
I am a political liberal, a democratic socialist since 1985, and am perplexed and distressed to see many of this country’s leaders working frantically to appease evil at almost every turn. No, I am no fan of war but I’d be pretty stupid not to realize that evil men tend to sit tight or retreat when confronted by armed opponents who will not back down. Don’t think this is so? Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine for a moment and set the dial to early 1936:
Nazi Germany’s leader (Fuehrer) Adolf Hitler ordered his army to remilitarize the Rhineland but later remarked that “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance”. No one stood up to Hitler. Afterwards he made territorial demands on one country after another, always threatening war but confident that his enemies would do little or nothing to stop him beyond saber-rattling talk while frantically appeasing him in order to avoid war.
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?
Who among you has not read an editorial, op-ed piece or commentary that points out alarming parallels between America and the Roman Empire in decline? Do you believe America’s sun is setting? And if so, why? Is it the shift from democratic republic to oligarchy and/or plutocracy? Loss of our moral bearings? Rampant fear and paranoia? Racism? Xenophobia? Religious intolerance? Other evils? I’m sure you have your own pet theory. Is loss of civic virtue on your list? If not, why not? Need convincing that this belongs there? Then drop down, click the mp3 link under Rabbi David Wolpe’s name, and listen to his powerful sermon.
|Mishpatim : Why Rome Fell and We Might, Too|
|keywords: Anton Chekhov, Benjamin Guggenheim, Christianity, civic virtue, Constantinople, Edward Gibbon, Egypt, Herman Cohen, John Jacob Astor, John Lukatz, lead, Mishpatim, physician Roman Empire, Rome Titanic, Tucson|
|January 29, 2011|
|Rabbi David Wolpe|
|drash – Rabbi Nicole Guzik|
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.
Few reading this, I dare say, have any qualms about seeing religious extremists who believe they please the Almighty by dealing with nonbelievers, sinners, so-called apostates and “infidels” with intolerance and especially cruelty and butchery, contained and even eradicated (Mandated when an armed response is the lesser of 2 evils — kill or else have more innocents killed).
At the moment (October 2014) a coalition of nations including many predominately Muslin ones are involved in rolling back the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) whose atrocities and wanton evil are regularly showcased and discussed on TV and in newspapers, not to mention web, blog and social media outlets galore worldwide.
In the midst of all this most justifiable righteous indignation with extremist violence and monstrous wickedness, there is also a growing hostility towards Muslims in countries throughout the world in which peaceful, law-abiding ones are not only suspected of being sympathetic to Islamic extremists like IS/ISIS/ISIL but are thought to be fellow travelers, even members of planted “sleeper cells” who lurk in the shadows awaiting conditions to favor their popping out and engaging in terrorism.
And, even though Muslims including scholars have come out and denounced the extremist evil of IS including their cherry-picking of the Quran to support their beliefs and actions (Examples: Here & here), this is oftentimes ignored or eclipsed by our all-too-human in-group/out-group sentiments (wiring?) which in many instances has given rise to xenophobia and then paranoia. There is something both ironic and paradoxical in the fact that many who decry the intolerance and acts of cruelty championed by extremists began to treat anyone or anything that “smacks of the enemy” with intolerance and cruelty (ranging from subtle ostracism to physical violence).
It is also tempting to filter out contrary evidence within the Islamic world and conclude that IS/ISIS/ISIL actually reflects the heart and soul of Muslim beliefs and heartfelt convictions. It doesn’t help that stories and accounts come out of how many Muslims actually do believe that certain Islamic extremist groups, often dominated by clerics, are an antidote for deviating from a literal interpretation of the Quran or “creeping liberalism”. This sort of thing is naturally seized upon by those who argue that Muslims who bomb, shoot, crucify, bury alive, behead and otherwise dispatch “infidels” in bestial ways represent the real Islamic McCoy. Here is one of many posted articles on the Web that take this position (This one claims that the Oklahoma Muslim who beheaded an ex-coworker represents the “real Islam”): http://www.wnd.com/2014/09/oklahoma-beheader-represents-real-islam/
If this doesn’t should familiar, you’ve either forgotten your high school history lessons or slept through them. How so? At one time the Christian world, especially many of its leaders both religious and secular, sanctioned draconian measures against “infidels” which included torture, imprisonment, exile and cruel executions. What did these “defenders of the faith” base their actions on? They certainly didn’t need to make up scriptural justification for this sort of thing. The Bible provided them abundant material that when taken literally and narrowly applied, sometimes out-of-context and sometimes not, justified the cruelest imaginable treatment and horrific execution of gays, occultists, nonbelievers, heterodox believers (heretics), infidels (non-Christians) and more. Click to read a rundown of such verses.
Historic examples? Thankfully, a chap by the name of Mark Humphrys saved me having to dig out all the applicable historic incidents and practices and such, as he researched, organized and posted this to http://markhumphrys.com/christianity.killings.html (Readers are also encouraged to peruse what’s posted at http://www.heretication.info/_heretics.html).
Of course, most modern (Western) Christian believers and organizations including churches and denominations would never entertain taking verses such as Leviticus 20:10 as (ahem) gospel and acting on them: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death (Albeit some especially aggrieved wives or husbands might wish this was the law of the land)
But ask yourself: What stopped the waves of church-sanctioned persecution, torture and cruel execution of heretics and those declared apostates, sinners or such who would not repent or otherwise bend their knee to those who held their lives in-the-balance? History reveals no sudden turnabout. However, over time a number of shifts and changes occurred that gradually undermined and eroded intolerance and forced conformity to orthodoxy: Among these, the church lost secular power and influence while Biblical literalism and militant, extremist Christian policies and actions lost steam as more moderate views won the day (And these because to a great extent religious scholars and others critically examined archaic beliefs and practices and even the scriptures themselves in light of contrary or mitigating factual evidence and reasoning).
This is viewpoint is reflected in comments made by Southern Baptist Theological seminary faculty member Dr. Timothy Paul Jones to the Baptist Press which were incorporated in a July 2014 article titled “Why Christians killed and why Muslim violence continues” by David Roach:
“Christians used to kill with some frequency over matters of doctrine. There was the Spanish Inquisition, Calvin’s Geneva, England’s notorious Bloody Mary, the drowning of Anabaptists, the Crusades and more.”
Dr. Jones, the author of “Christian History Made Easy“, also stated that “it was the intermingling of church authority and civil authority that made it possible for persons who claimed to be Christians to have the state execute others who also professed Christ.”
But,…and this is a big but…..this shift was not without acrimonious debates, calls for a return to “that old time religion” (i.e., a church with secular power that punished heretics and others), fist fights and open warfare, and worse, in various quarters at various times.
Now ask yourself: Does all that’s happening in the Middle East — the theocratic Islamic governments who rely on oppression and cruelty and public executions to hold the pot lid down on dissent, the pitched battles (literal and figurative) between proponents of a Muslim religious worldview that is exclusivist literalist, and radically fundamentalist and those who champion the opposite, etc. — represent the kind of “Future Shock” cultural, social and religious clashes and upheavals that arose from and signaled the transition from a Europe that was ruled by clerics and which burned heretics to one of nations largely democratic and essentially tolerant? (But not without periodic lapses into darkness when conditions favored the eclipse of reason and tolerance by fear, hatred and bigotry). I tend to think so.
The question of whether such a complete transition will occur may not be one of if but when. But at what cost to the Muslim world and Israel, the EU, America, and other countries before the dust settles?
Beyond containing militant/radical Muslim extremists, there are other variables at play that could up the ante and the “dust” that gets kicked up before it settles to the ground. Assume for a moment that those who warn that Iran is dead set on building nuclear weapons — something underscored by alarming developments such as this — are right and they do. What happens if a major offensive is launched by one or more Arab countries against Israel and Iran joins this? If so, it is not inconceivable that Russia, which has longstanding ties to Iran (not to mention Assad’s Syria), might seize the opportunity to support such military adventurism. This would surely result in America rightfully jumping into the fray to help Israel repel this armed assault and intended invasion. Bingo, WWIII or, if not something this dire, surely a major regional conflagration that will come awfully close to unleashing it.
A major war in the Middle East, too, seems less a matter of if but when. Certainly a great many Jewish and Christian believers view this as inevitable based on prophecies in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel (Among others). Read my blog entry on this by clicking this link.
However, whether a great war hits the Middle East in the near future, later on or not at all, we can all expect a lot of craziness and bloodshed not only there but in Europe, the US, Canada, and elsewhere before the Muslim world breaks free of the forces of extremism, oppression and such.
Our challenge here in the US lies not just encouraging and waiting out the hoped for transition among Muslim countries, but also in preventing terrorist acts by Islamic extremists and their sympathizers in our midst, while at the same time avoiding letting their occasional successes drive us into the arms of authoritarian solutions…or worse.
Dr. Anthony G. Payne (Br. Anthony of the Resurrection)
Additional/supplemental reading penned by “yours truly”
I have worked with a coenzyme called pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) for quite a while now and think it is worth a “look see” by physicians and others for its preventative and therapeutic potential. Let’s dive into this now:
First, let’s “do the time warp, now”: During 1994-5 I worked in an Ag lab and large greenhouse complex outside Lincoln, Nebraska (Which was devoted to the testing of various nature-derived growth accelerants on culinary & medicinal mushrooms). One of the principle consulting researchers who rubbed elbows with me was Andy Anderson, PhD, who discovered a radioresistant bacterium back in 1956 while irradiating food at the Oregon Agricultural Experimental Station in Corvallis (As I recall from our chitchat, he was irradiating canned foods to see if this would reliably preserve them against spoilage). The bacterium was subsequently dubbed Deinococcus radiodurans and is indisputably the most radioresistant organism discovered to-date.
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