Category Archives: Uncategorized
Messianic Rabbi Greg Herschberg’s highly acclaimed 2017 book A Life for God: A Rabbi’s Analysis of Life, the Cross, and Eternity is free right now on Amazon Kindle. No sign-ups or anything. (If you do not have Kindle you can download it for free at https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Digital-Services-LLC-Download/dp/B00UB76290)
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).
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”.
Judging from articles such as this, this and this, there is now almost a mania sweeping the land to remove every vestige of the Confederacy (Even TV Land got swept up in this by cancelling airing of old “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes) . Don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many people are incensed by Confederate flags and monuments on public lands. And although my ancestors on both the European (paternal) and American Indian (maternal) sides of my family tree lived in the CSA and in some instances served in its armed forces, I have never displayed a Confederate flag in any form anywhere at any time. Nor was the N-word ever uttered by my parents or any expression of religious, ethnic or racial bigotry or elitism. And as for my Civil War era forbearers, most were simple farmers and none owned slaves. As a boy I was told by various relatives that those who donned the grey in our family did so to repel Northern aggression and preserve the rights of individual states to chart their own destiny.
If you grew up embracing the Americanized Jesus I’d like you to take a moment and read Jesus and Yeshua: An Examination of Cultural Icons. This insightful article was written by a perceptive young man named Jeriah Bowser who is the Ecology & Sustainability Department chair at the Hampton Institute.
Naturally, we all tend to endorse views that parallel or even mirror our own, and I am no exception. However, while we all cherry-pick reality to varying degrees, the thrust of critical biblical scholarship does IMO tend to favor Bowser’s perspective (Which is one I pretty much arrived at many moons ago).
Also watch this video:
Do you believe the Almighty ever spoke directly to an American Indian tribe? I do not mean face-to-face but through an emissary. I do and will now share with you the particulars behind my conviction that God/HaShem/The Great Spirit did reach out to the Cahokian peoples (American Indians, yes, but their exact ethnicity much less language is unknown):
Long before Columbus and other 15th century European explorers & adventurers landed in North America, there was the Cahokia, a Mississippian American Indian “mound building” people who thrived from about 750 CE to 1300 CE with their biggest city being about 6 miles from present day St. Louis. My own tribe, the Choctaw Nation, has its roots in the Mississippian culture which naturally makes Cahokia of great interest to me.
To read the rest CLICK THIS LINK
Nota bene, my fellow American Indians: Prophetic Word: Restoration Promised to the First Nations of America
At the tail end of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical and brilliant 1964 anti-Cold War movie “Dr. Strangelove” the wheelchair bound German scientist (played by Peter Sellers) manages to stand up and take a step or two forward and then excitedly proclaim, “Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!” (This was reportedly an unscripted improvisation on the part of actor Peter Sellers) People in the throes of extreme excitement, passion or even religious ecstasy sometimes yell out to God, their mate or, in the case of Dr. Strangelove, to his leader (The American President whom he not infrequently calls “Mein Fuhrer” during the course of Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece).
I suspect Sellers added the dramatic final touch not as an expression of the neurologic malady which landed his character in a wheelchair but, rather, as an upwelling of Dr. Strangelove’s impossible to suppress fascist sentiments and loyalty to Hitler.
In addition, I would offer a slightly different take on Dr. Strangelove’s outburst: I believe it was meant to represent the transcendent march of evil across time. That is, Seller’s was acting out the fact that evil, like death, haunts humankind and is impossible to totally suppress, manage or banish. Of course, we all know that those who do not resist and oppose evil not infrequently find their lives overshadowed by it.
The late writer-director-producer Rod Serling actually captured this theme very adroitly in a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone titled “He’s Alive” (“He” being Hitler) that focuses on a “bush league Fuhrer” named Peter Vollmer.
Of course, we all are cognizant of the fact that evil permeates the human experience and has countless modern day incarnations. It is certainly one wheel that gets reinvented without ever showing much wear or loss of perpetrators and victims. Sometimes, though, the expressions are so continuous across time they appear to come out of some kind of historical-cosmic Xerox® machine. Click these links and reflect for a moment:
OK, so evil is perennial. What we can do about it? Laugh at and ponder comic portrayals such as Seller’s, yes, but never make the mistake of viewing evil people as clowns or easy to control (A mistake many German pre-Nazi leaders made with respect to Hitler and his cronies). But above all learn everything we can about the nature of evil and its subtlest expressions and then work to expose and oppose them.
How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it by Dr. Anthony G. Payne
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
This Broadway hit gets a solid film treatment by director Norman Jewison, but that can’t make up for the weaknesses of the script (which were as true onstage as they are here). Jane Fonda plays a chain-smoking shrink sent to a convent to do a psychological evaluation of a novice (Meg Tilly) who gave birth to a baby and then killed it in her little room. Was it a virgin birth? A miracle? And what of the bloody stigmata that seem to spontaneously appear on her hands? Fonda also finds herself clashing with the Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft) over the line between faith and science. But writer John Pielmeier can’t flesh this out beyond an idea; in the end, the solution is a disappointingly earthbound one that even the strong acting in this film can’t elevate.
OK, so the film isn’t flawless and has garnered more than its fair share of “1 or 2 thumbs down”. With this said, I like this flick. Why so? In-a-word it lays in the fact Agnes the novice nun somehow manages to interact with the world thorough a lens of innocence. That is, the unjaded aspects of her being for the most part dominate her day-to-day existence and how she perceives life and those around her.
Hollywood nonsense, you say? I might have agreed with you if this were early 1999. But not afterwards. What changed for me? I spent more than four years in Japan living and teaching classes of Japanese young people from pre-school through doctoral level plus many corporate classes filled with adult working professionals. What I discovered was that virtually all the young folks were, well, in some ways “Agnes of God” like. Mind you, I was aware that there were exceptions and many expats I shared sake and chat with were quick to point out their bad experiences with pretty jaded Japanese characters. But on-the-whole even they agreed most Japanese people they had encountered while teaching and in society at-large exhibited less of the cynicism and sheer nastiness that appeared commonplace back in the US and the West in general (Some of these expats came from the UK, New Zealand and Australia).
My then girlfriend and later (2001) wife thought I was seeing her people through rose colored glasses. This changed once we moved from Japan to southern California in early 2003. Having left being the corporate world in Japan (18 years work for a major multinational corporation in Tokyo), she pursued her long held dream of becoming a marriage and family therapist. This journey took her through the MS in Counseling program at Cal State Fullerton (she graduated with honors) and internships at a number of places including the Salvation Army residential program in Anaheim. While doing an internship at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, she happened to counsel a number of Japanese students who had come to the US in order to obtain specific educational credentials in an English language environment. What she discovered — and made a point of mentioning to me — is that her Japanese charges were very “unjaded” compared to the American students she counseled. Maybe my glasses were not so rose-colored after all.
At the very least, there seems to be at least a modicum of real world evidence that my original observation was spot on: The Japanese were and are on-a-whole less jaded (“more innocent”) than Americans.
Were Americans less jaded in the past? It seemed that way to me when I was a youngster. TV and movies in the late 1950s into the 1960s tended to reflect a certain un-worldliness (Less cynical, less nasty). This began to go out the window with the advance of the sexual revolution, Vietnam and all that entailed, and the general rejection of authority and conventional ways among many young folks of that era (including moi).
Can we ever recapture what we lost short of embarking on a 2nd childhood (individually and collectively)? Is the genie out of the bottle for good? Is there any way to truly be “as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves” (Rabbi Yehoshua’s admonition). Good questions, I think. We American Indians (Choctaws) have a saying that goes like this: “The dog you feed the most becomes biggest”. By this token if we as Americans feed ourselves on jaded & cynical things such as pornography, greed, pride, and other vices then the dogs that will steer our sled (lives) will be these vices. On the other hand, if we feed virtues and starve vices, well, we just might find ourselves less jaded and “wicked”. And while we may not become a nation of “Agnes of God” characters or even Japanese-like, we could inch a little closer to it.
Dr. Anthony G. Payne
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Let’s step into a time machine of sorts or a “Wayback Machine” (to borrow from one of my favorite boyhood TV series “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show“) and take a trip back to 2003. During May of that year a paper appeared in the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals titled “Minimal-cell system created in laboratory by self-organization” [October 2003, vol. 18, iss. 2, pp. 335-343(9) Elsevier Science)]. This quote is from the introduction…. Click to access full article