Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Best Lies Are Half-Truths

  A friend of mine sent me this video. I recommend you watch it, not because it's great or insightful, but because  it's the only  way my analysis will make any sense.

  I'll be the first to  admit it's a catchy tune, and if the situation it depicts is accurate, I won't even argue that it's not outrageous, but  probably not for the reasons  that immediately pop to mind.
  States  maintain their power  quite often by pitting  different  factions of the population against each other. They pit  rich against poor, black against white, etc.  In this video, the two groups pitted against each other are the 'real Brits', and those pesky  Muslim foreigners who, according to the video,  show up in mass in order to sponge off of the real Brits, and that makes them thieves.  I have no doubt that  British politicians  regularly  claim to  be riding in on legislative white horses to  save the day and to rescue us from the  barbarians at the gate.  That is, if they are anything like their American counterparts.
  My own thoughts on immigration in general are..complicated, and not a rabbit worth chasing at this point, but it is interesting to me how this issue is used as a club and a wedge to divide people into 'us' and 'them'. It's also yet another way to take money from one group of people  and give it to another group of people (while claiming to be against them) while securing their future political loyalty. As the old saying goes, the best  way to buy votes is with other people's money.
  No one, regardless of where you were born or when you arrived at this particular piece of dirt, has the right to live at the expense of anyone else.  For a natural born  American to  live on the dole is just as much an act of thievery as a Rio-Grande-fording Mexican.  You didn't earn a free ride by  getting here, and  you didn't earn a free ride by  being born here.  One is not any more horrific than the other, but one certainly seems to stir the passions more than the other. I find that very interesting.
  I'm not sure what the hard numbers are, or what the  laws are, but I would be willing to  wager that there are far more  'Americans' receiving benefits than any 'foreign rabble'  Why such selective outrage?  Why aren't we assembling in mass and tearing the government housing complexes apart brick by brick?
   Most 'coservatives' enjoy utter hypocrisy on this topic and a philosophical blind spot the size of an aircraft carrier.  I work with a  fellow, that, no matter what issue you start discussing, he eventually drags it back to illegal immigration, which he is convinced is Public Threat #1.  We’ve discussed this at length for years now, and he becomes very irate and incapable of rational thought.  I started one particular discussion with asking him whether or not the government has any right to dictate who you associate with. He of course said no.  I asked him should the government be able to tell me who I can have on my property? No.  Who I can hire? Of course not. I said “Even if they are illegal aliens?” The top of his head almost popped off. 
  I proposed a solution to him. I said we  should  destroy utterly the welfare state. No freebies for anybody. If we do that, I posed to him,  and we threw open the borders, who would show up? He grudgingly admitted that   those that wanted to work would  be our new wave of immigrants. I really thought  I had made some headway, but then he  lapsed into a  xenophobic rant about how ‘they’ won’t learn the language and ‘they’  want to change our culture. 
  This blind spot , in my  estimation, runs parallel to the  'anti-terrorism ' crowd. Any solution the state wants to impose, no matter how draconian is better than the alternative, in which we will be  held  helpless and our treasure laid bare before the encroachment of 'them', whoever the 'them' happens to be at the moment.  For some historical perspective on this,  do a little research and  read the things written about the Irish immigrants at the beginning of the  20th century.  It is  no small  irony that  their descendants will cry out from the housetops about how 'they' are taking 'our' jobs.
  As usual in this blog, if you want some real  gems of intellectual wordsmithing, you'll have to go  elsewhere.To this end, I recommend Mrs. Becky Akers, who despite her  fiery grammatical invectives still is my nominee for the Nicest Person Ever. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Experts Oughta Be Committed

   I am currently making my way through an audio book entitled "Ten Days in a Madhouse" by Nelly Bly, which was published in book form in 1887. In it, the journalist author  feigns madness in order to  have herself committed to a mental institution so that she may investigate the goings-on from the inside.  This took no small measure of bravery as she entered with no clear plan as to how to get herself released.  She writes of her plan to "once within the walls of the asylum to find out and describe its inside workings, which are always, so effectually hidden by white-capped nurses, as well as by bolts and bars, from the knowledge of the public."
  What follows is a sad account of her experiences under the care of 'experts'.  Starvation and  abuse were  common tools of the trade, with a healthy dose of humiliation. The focus was to force the patient to conform to someone else's idea of what  'cured' looked like.  The doctors and nurses enjoyed almost complete power over someone in their care because after all they were the experts.   Men who had gone to school for years and had learned the very best their witch-doctory had to offer claimed that  seclusion from family, and  electro-shock therapy were 'extremely helpful and effective'.  They defended these practices, citing  studies and cases where  peopel had been 'cured' ,at least according to them. The final determiner as to whether or not you were allowed to  resume being a human being was a panel of people that were guessing as to whether or not there was anything wrong with you.  Not much has changed.
  To the modern eye (and  indeed even to Nelly) the practices seem cruel, and barbaric with a diagnosis  procedure  based  almost entirely on guesswork.  Nelly Bly, who was  hardly a professional actress, managed to fool several police officers, a judge and  several doctors, and convince them that she was out of her head.  The reason this was so simple is that , then, as now, there is no scientific medical test you can perform to establish sanity or prove it's lack thereof. There is no blood test to establish if you have any syndrome or affliction. All she had to do was  act  a bit distracted, a bit distant, obsess over something more than  some doctor thought was appropriate and she was deemed insane. Then, as now, people with initials and degrees after their names sit  as judge, jury and executioner as to your mental stability, with little appeal available.

  Just as in Bly's day, for the sham of the mental health industry to be able to carry on, its inner workings must be hidden from the public.  In Bly's day, as in now, the barbarities are still cloaked by professional sounding jargon and  men in white coats with degrees who rule from on high,  doling out their edicts and judgements  upon the great unwashed masses virtually unchallenged. The courts look to these 'professionals' and defer to their  wisdom when deciding whether or not your  child should be medicated, or even removed from you. Lately there has been  much discussion about whether or not 'crazy people' should be allowed  to defend themselves like  real human beings.  Guess whose expert opinions are being  used?  The mental health mafia use cryptic language designed to intimidate the  layman, with acronyms like ADHD or OCD used to describe people who don't conform to their idea of normal.  They can't prove you have it, so you can't prove you don't have it, and after all they are 'scientists'.
  True scientists perform repeatable observable experiments that aren't based on a vague, constantly changing baseline of behavior. If I were to walk up, and  decide without running a single test that you had cancer, you would feel free to dismiss me. But if  regular medical science worked the way  psychiatry does, I could then go  get a court order and force you to undergo chemotherapy no matter how loud you protested that you don't have cancer. What do you know, you uncircumcised Philistine? I , after all, am an expert. See, I have a white lab coat and everything.
  The modern crop of experts of course look back at the barbarities of the  past,  take a moment to assume a  solemn look,  cluck cluck with  their tongue and  grudgingly acknowledge that in less enlightened times, mistakes were made, but after all, we're doing much better.  'Mistakes' are a fig leaf to  hide  scarred minds, broken bones, and destroyed lives. They continue on with their guesswork,  only now they are destroying lives with  dangerous medications.  Do you feel too much? Then we will dope you to the gills so that you  don't feel  anything, and  you 'll feel just like we do  with our seared consciences.  After all, we decide what's normal.
  I was surprised to find that, although starvation and deprivation appear to be out of vogue in  psychiatric circles these days, some of the old tried and true treatments are still employed, but  more carefully now.  Electroshock therapy was  developed in 1938 by an Italian  expert named Ugo Cerletti. The way the story goes, Cerletti observed pigs being zapped which made it easier for the butcher to slit their throats.  How scientific.  The movie 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' highlighted this therapy, and the damage it causes, and it fell out of favor from a public relations point of view, but it still goes on. For example, from the highly respected  Mayo clinic comes this  blurb regarding electroshock therapy
"Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. It often works when other treatments are unsuccessful.
Much of the stigma attached to ECT is based on early treatments in which high doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia, leading to memory loss, fractured bones and other serious side effects.
ECT is much safer today ...."
  Well I certainly feel better. It's safer now.  I suppose that means less memory loss, less fractured bones although no numbers are given as to how much less.

  On a personal note, I have watched 'experts' diagnose my sister with one syndrome and then a  different passel of experts diagnose her with a different syndrome. I have watched her medication be changed and  adjusted  several times a year with each  doctor having a different opinion as to what's wrong with her, and what she needs.  Every time  the expectation is that  'this will fix it'.  That sounds a lot less like science and a lot more like snake oil.  Only snake oil salesmen never had the courts on their side.

Hold Your Applause

  Monday was Memorial Day and in addition to the various  signs  and  placards and banners  that I saw  thanking  me for my service, we happen to be in the middle of camp-meeting at church, and all of us veterans  were asked to stand wherein we received a hearty dose of applause and a ‘thanks’ from the pulpit.  Off to my right was seated a visiting pastor who looked over at me with such admiration that an honest-to-goodness real life hero was sitting in his very midst. It was all quite embarrassing.
  Now I don’t claim to speak for all veterans, only for myself. Please stop.  I served six well-intentioned years in the United States Navy where I made multiple trips to the Middle East.  We were there to enforce various UN resolutions against the country of Iraq. I  didn’t like the UN  then, and I don’t like them now, but there I was,  going hither and yon at their bidding because the officers appointed above me and the President of the United States thought  that was a  worthwhile use of my time..  Was it dangerous? Certainly. But nothing I did, in my estimation earns me any sort of annual applause in perpetuity.  I’m not a war criminal, but certainly not a hero.
 In our congregation we have a person who has 4 purple hearts and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for actions performing in the late 60’s. Wounded on 4 separate occasions, he not only carries physical ailments from his time overseas, but is continually privy to mental anguish.  What do I make of a day set aside for him? What do I think we owe him?
 Regardless of what you think about that particular overseas venture ( I think the American people were lied to and we squandered the lives of perfectly good men for no good reason) this  one thing I do know; that nobody really fights for freedom in a war.  A man put in a combat situation isn’t fighting for freedom or liberty. Such concepts are abstract to the point of pointlessness when other armed human beings are shooting at you. He is fighting for him and his friend’s lives, and although this seems to put me a bit off the libertarian reservation, I think that fighting to preserve the lives of your friends after having been put in a horrible situation by your government is an act that carries with it a certain amount of gallantry. Trying to get everyone   home alive in the midst of chaos and bloodshed is an act of bravery.  Trying to maintain your humanity in the face of orders from disgusting authority has a bit of nobility to it.
  But what I think is owed like my friend is an apology.   Someone owes them an apology for how their blood and their humanity were sacrificed to line the pockets of well-connected profiteers.  Memorial Day ought not be just a day of hero-worship, it ought not be a blank check of gratitude extended to anyone who wore a uniform, it ought to be a day of reflection, and repentance and apology. Every Memorial Day we ought to recommit that we won’t send good men off to die for no good reason. We ought to resolve that we won’t buy the lies of the state when they drum up yet another boogieman to frighten us into giving up our sons to the ravenous jaws of the war machine. We ought to purpose within our hearts that we won’t let  ourselves be manipulated into blind obedience to the  latest crop of flag-waving politicians who  will happily send out children off to an early grave while  mouthing empty slogans like ‘Freedom isn’t free’.  No, its not free. In fact, the way   things are set up now, their definition of ‘freedom ‘ is not only  free, its ridiculously profitable.
  So keep  your applause, I didn’t earn it, and if you feel compelled to  observe Memorial Day,  observe it with prayer that we as a people wake up and   stop the perpetual madness.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rand is not Ron

  I was doing a radio interview recently regarding SWINDLED, and the host asked me what my impression was of  Rand Paul, the  junior Senator from Kentucky and heir-apparent to his father's philosophical empire. My response was simple , "I have Rand issues."
  Trust me, I've heard all the arguments in favor of the Rand Paul "libertarian when I need to be" philosophy. I've heard how he needs to "play the game" in order to "get anything done". Well that certainly implies that we need government to get anything done, doesn't it? I thought we  held that  liberty and freedom and individuals were the solutions, not partisan politics. I don't 'need ' Washington. All I 'need' them to do is leave me alone, a simple task they seem incapable of doing. Compromise  is what  got us where we are now, isn't it?
  I've  been pointed towards some of the  brave stands he has taken, such as his  drone filibuster. That's all  fine and good, but I would like to see a little more consistency in the man. He  has supported sanctions against Iran, which his father  claimed was an act of war.  Since Iran seems to be the new neocon litmus test, Rand's willingness to play  political games with the lives of other people's children seems to me to be  at odds with his  libertarian soundness in other areas. His last name isn't enough for me to give him carte blanche enough to hide in his father's shadow.
  A perfect example of my Rand issues came to light   in the Senates  recent unanaimous vote to  push us one step closer to war with Iran. The media has already started to portray the regime as Enemy of the Month, and already the  average amn on the street  is being programmed to think "We gotta do soemthign about those guys".  Trust me, unless something drastically changes, I  completely see us  parking  ourselves in yet another  country, toppling the regime, and   spilling  precious blood and  squandering  precious treasure in an attempt to control what happens afterwards.  This apparently is what we do now.
  I assume Mr. Paul ( the younger) has presidential aspirations, and maybe he saw how his father was shut out by the  establishment and he seeks to  endear himself   to the establishment while keeping his liberty  street cred.  But I  submit to you that such a tightrope act is not only impossible, but unwise, and won't win him any points with me.
  Rand, its not too late to  change course. Some of us are still watching to see how you turn out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Don Henley May Have Been on to Something

  I don't  make a regular habit of watching broadcast television, for a variety of reasons.  It's a huge time-sponge for starters, and then there are concerns about content, obviously. I especially avoid  news reports though.
  Does anyone else think  its a  little  psychotic the way  television news is delivered?  It's all soft lights and  exciting theme  music and color  coordinated ties and teleprompters. Its so  much pageantry and theatre over substance as to stagger the imagination, and the easiest way to see it is to abstain from it for a length of time, and then watch a broadcast.  If you stay away from the shiny box for a while, and then  take a peek, you'll begin to understand why they call it 'programming'.
  If you flip through the channel;s during news time you'll see the  exact same stories covered in the exact same  order with the roughly the same amount of time given to each and sometimes  all of these independently talking heads will all use the same  buzzwords and catchphrases, as if they are issued from on high by some  TV news fatwah.  If you then listen to the conversations of people who  get their news this way, you'll hear them repeat these  viewpoints and phrases in parrot-like fashion with no thought as to what they are saying and no  conscious realization that they  were spoon-fed that opinion.
  Every story covered is  in its own little self-contained pre-packaged universe. That's how the news anchor can report on tornado deaths in Oklahoma with a  sad look on his  face and literally seconds later turn to another  camera,  put on a smile and talk about how baby pandas were  born at the  local zoo.  Real people are incapable of compartmentalizing all the  happenings in their life that neatly, that succinctly, but broadcasters do it for a living, and in doing so they present to you a neat compartmentalized, emotional vapid reality that has no bearing on your day to day life. They regularly  spin you half-told tales about people you will never meet. The  goings on and bed-hoppings of  celebrities (whose only skills are their  physical attractiveness and their ability to pretend to be somebody else all day) are treated as if they matter.They mention tragedies that not only have nothing to do with you, but that you are incapable of affecting one way or the other.. They manipulate your emotions  with close up shots of grieving widows and burned out  school houses.  They adopt a worldview and narrative about an event  and  all reporting is filtered through that worldview and   edited to fit the narrative. By doing this , they crowd out valuable brain space and trick you into investing emotional capital in all the wrong places. Filling your head with trivia and banality,  they hope to keep you from thinking too much or looking too closely at what's behind the window dressing, My question is always not 'what did they say?' but rather 'what are they not telling us?'
 "Hey, your government has  declared for itself the ability to kill you without a trial, but look, Angeline Jolie had a double mastectomy! Isn't she brave? Isn't she pretty?  And now  a word from our sponsors."
  Our local news has real  problems with the English language.  During a recent tragedy they reported that  'approximately 15 were confirmed dead'. In my mind, the words 'approximately' and 'confirmed' sort of cancel each other out. How many dead are there?  Are there 'approximately' 15 or  have you confirmed that there are 15?  Doesn't matter, we've got an ad for  Pop-tarts to show you. 'Approximately 15' could be as  high as 20 or as low as 12. But let's not think about that, let's move on to who wore the  most low-cut dress to the Oscars.
  During the 2012 presidential campaign, word came from the fatwah that Ron Paul could not win. The reasons  given were never reasons of substance, to simply declare him unelectable was enough. Step one is to declare his defeat and then step  two was to ensure it by ignoring him and marginalizing his support. Over and over again durng the campaign people were told things like "He's too old", or "he's too extreme" or "He can't possibly win". Both  Democrats and Republicans joined in this chorus until eventually the man on the street would say to you "He too old, he's too extreme, and besides, he can't possibly win".  The shiny box told you that supporting him was  'throwing your vote away', and pushed the idea of 'the lesser of two evils'.  Thousands of people gathered to hear him speak  even as  'conservative' Fox News   reported the decline of his campaign. You see, truth is secondary to the agenda. The agenda is  to keep you rooted on your couch and give you just  enough information to make you think youre informed.  Give you a few talking points that you can recite if the topic comes up around the water cooler, and let's move on to the advertising.
  The advertising's whole point ( and to be honest, I find marketing fascinating) is to make you discontent with what you have, or what you are, and then propose their product or service as a solution. The point is to emotional  manipulate you in order to provoke a controlled response. Too fat? We can fix that.  Old car?  We can fix that.  Never mind that your husbnad   still adores you and thinks you're all that, the shiny box  says you're fat, and here's how you fix it.  Never mind that by keeping your current car ( which runs)you can stay out of debt. we need you to be in debt, we need you to live beyond your means. On and on and on drones the shiny box, 24 hours a day 7 days a week , talking when there is nothing more to say, and slowly  liquiifying your brain.
  Stay with us, the shiny box says. TV time is family time. Oh look, a train wreck in Nebraska, and some celbrity was arrested for driving drunk. Look at those scary peopll with their  AR-15's. They shouldn't have those guns, should they? After all, you don't need an AR-15, do you?  Wouldn't some popcorn be good  right now?  Only cultists homeschool their kids. Police are heroes.Hours slip away, precious precious time, and still the box never stops pumping out nonesense.
  But hey, people love dirty laundry, right?

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Perspective on Wealth

(Note:  Most of the numbers on this post were done a few years back for a Sunday School class I was teaching. I simply updated the  prices, and marveled within myself as to how much  the price of things had gone up.  If anyone has better numbers I would love to see them.)

There is a lot of talk about wealth, and money, and people appear to be as obsessed with  it as they always have been. Forbes magazine prints a compendium of wealth  every year in which  it names the  most wealthiest people on earth, and their net worth.  I personally think their list is incomplete, but that's a  topic for another day.  Empires rise and fall and  today's hot name will be tomorrow's old news.The wealth  most people on the Forbes list enjoy is  ,in the grand scheme of history, small potatoes.
  In the book of Exodus, commands and instructions were given in regards to the construction of the Tabernacle.  It was to  be  a portable, or at least a de-constructable, structure that would be assembled, broken down and reassembled as the children of Israel moved from  place to place.  It would be the  centerpiece and focal point of the  Jewish  religion until the construction of Solomon's Temple several centuries later.
  The materials assembled for the Tabernacle are described in detail in Exodus 35-38 and summarized in Exodus 38:21-30.  The total  quantity of gold collected was approximately  one ton; of silver 3/4 tons, and of bronze 2 1/2 tons. At todays prices gold is  approximately $1376.50 an ounce (compared to $500 in the original version of this).  Silver is currently priced at $22.46 an ounce ($12 originally) and brass is trading at  33 cents an ounce.
  The gold used in the Tabernacle winds up costing a little over $22,000 a pound or $44,000,000  a ton.  The silver  comes in at a paltry $459 a pound or $918,000 a ton. The brass is so cheap is almost seems like a waste to do the math, but I really like math ( no calculator, and I show all my work), so here we go; 33 cents an ounce  is 10, 560 bucks for a ton.  Now there's only a ton of gold in the Tabernacle,  3/4 of a ton of silver, and 2 1/2 tons of brass. The cost, just in raw metals, laying aside the historical or spiritual  significance of the  items themselves, looks something like this:

$ 44,000,000 in gold
$      688,000 in silver
       26,400 in brass
$ 44, 714,400 in materials

   It's hard to find some basis of comparison, since  there is nothing like it in our modern world. Anything you might hope to compare it to turns out to be a permanent structure, but that just makes the  comparison more remarkable. For example, thee Tabernacle cost more in  raw materials alone than the total  cost of  the Empire State building in the 1920's, including the labor and the property it sits on ( just over 40 million). That wealth was  held by a group of  former slaves on the way to their  homeland, and had apparently been gathered up as they were leaving Egypt when the Egyptians 'loaned' them some jewelry.  It does make one wonder how much wealth was sitting in Egypt at the time, if they could  loan a bunch of slaves the equivalent of  $44 million.

  Several centuries later, a king arose in Jerusalem named Solomon.  His accomplishments really are  almost inconceivable, and  could be delved into in great detail, but I'm going to zero in on one aspect of his accomplishments; his income. The Forbes list tends to focus on the net worth of the individuals listed, which is a  perfectly reasonable standard to go by, but for the purposes of this article, I'm going to discuss income.  Solomon had an  unspeakable net worth , with  houses and cities and servants and 40 thousand horse stalls and  12,000 horsemen.  He had a house  built decked with precious  jewels and  gold ornaments on the walls.Solomon gave  gifts to allies of his in other kingdoms consisting of thousands of measures of wheat and oil a year,but aside from all that, how much money did the man bring in every year? And how does it compare to  the  economic titans of today?
  He received a one-time gift from the king of Tyre  that was 120 talents of gold. He received a one-time contribution from Ophir that was 420 talents of gold. He was regularly showered with  gifts of ivory and peacocks and apes and servants from other kingdoms, but I'm not going to count any of that.  I really don't want to try  and figure out the going rate of ivory and peacocks; you'll simply have to forgive me. I am simply  going to look at the scriptural account of his annual income, which is listed as 666 talents of gold.
  Now a talent  differs depending on who you read, and what country, and what  time period.  the  numbers  run as high as 130 lbs to a talent I'm gong to use the  lowest number I  could find which  is  57 lbs of gold for one talent. so 666 talents of gold winds up being 37,982 POUNDS of gold, with a modern value of $835,604,000 a year.
  Bill Gates of Microsoft , although no longer possessing the  title of 'world's richest man' (a title  probably not worth the hassle and scrutiny) is still the  icon of American wealth, so we will  use his listed annual income of roughly $30,000,000.  Now it beats digging ditches for a living, but honestly?  Old King Solomon makes Bill Gates look like somebody living under a bridge.  I had read somewhere once ( and I can't find it now) that  1/4 of the wealth in the world at the time  flowed through Israel when Solomon was on the throne. Yet according to Jesus Christ, the lilies of the field are better clothed than he was.Just a  bit of perspective. Do with it what you will.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Birth of Religious Freedom in America

  There are, in my estimation, some freedoms that, unless you have them,  make other freedoms   rather meaningless, but if you  do have them, other freedoms are not only possible, but amplified in their effectiveness.  A quick example is the right to  property. If you don't have this right, then the fact that you are 'free' to barbeque on weekends is really rather meaningless , since you exercise that 'freedom' at the good pleasure of whoever the overlord of the moment happens to be.
  One of the others is religious freedom. If anyone can compel you to believe something, or compel you through whatever means to confess to things you do not  really hold to be true, then you have lost the battle for your own conscience, and whatever other 'liberties' you might enjoy   pale rather  quickly by comparison.  For a man to hold power over another man's conscience through state power or ecclesaistical power ( which often masquerades one as the other), it is  the worst sort of tyranny, for it claims jurisdiction over the  innermost parts of  a man and seeks to reign over his soul.
   It is a great irony in American history that the Puritans who had fled to the New World for the chance to exercise their own conscience in matters of worship eventually became the very thing they fled.  Colonial America wasn’t an idyllic utopia of liberty, but rather a patchwork quilt of different understandings and tolerances of what freedom was all about. In many places, especially in Church of England dominated-areas, the line between church and state was so blurry as to be almost non-existent.    Church officials held  political offices and  church  officials exercised police powers, with a careful eye towards maintaining the status quo of doctrinal purity. This mindset revealed itself in activities like the witch trials in Salem or the ordinance passed in Massachusetts in 1644 that specifically referred to Anabaptists as “the troublers of churches in all places where they have been”. In 1656 when the first Quakers began to arrive on the shores of Massachusetts, the Quakers in question were imprisoned by their Puritan brothers, the women strip-searched under pretense of looking for witches,  and their religious literature burned as heresy.

  Existing side by side with these large religious behemoths were small pockets of men and women who followed their conscience regardless of what the ruling powers thought.   They worshipped both in secret, and in open, and preached outside of the established church buildings, taking the gospel out in public as the Bible commands.  For this they were fined, banished, beaten, arrested, and imprisoned. Their ears were, in some cases, cut off, and hot irons  driven through their ‘blasphemous tongues’. Their church buildings were burned, their properties seized.  They were Quakers, and Baptists, and Anabaptists, and a variety of other groups who simply sought to live and worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. They sought to practice what would later be called ‘soul liberty’.
  Because those abuses were so blatant, it drew the attention, and earned the condemnation of some of the most prominent thinkers in the colonies. As  we are seeing again today, the  state  overreacted, overstepped its bounds, and  men of courage called them on it. In June of 1768, four Baptist preachers were imprisoned in Spotsylvania County, Virginia for  preaching without  a state-issued license.  Patrick Henry  became involved in the case, and they were released. That incident, and incidents like it, caused great discussion among the  founding generation as the colonies moved closer and closer to independence. Local statues were  enacted and drafted by what would become some of the most famous men in history. These statues were put in place to protect the  consciences of free men from coercion by the state.  They presented, in writing, a philosophical thread that grew and grew until it became the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  One of the most prominent was one drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and adopted in 1786  entitled "An Act for establishing Religious Freedom". In  three simple paragraphs, Thomas Jefferson laid out  not only  what  powers the state did not have, but why.  It's worth reading in its entirety, but I am going to cite a couple of prominent lines and then opine (probably in a separate post) on where I hope things are going in America today.  It is an axiom in my mind that all natural rights are interconnected, and the principles behind one can be applied to the others, as you will see.
Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness....
  This includes the Infernal Revenue Service  dangling threats of revocation of tax exempt status over the head of ecclesiastical bodies and using that as a lever to  force entry into their  internal affairs.  If there ever was an organization committed to 'hypocrisy and  meanness', it is these  modern day publicans who are after all a political organ as they have so recently demonstrated.

...that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;
  An everday occurrence in America. I  believe it is  wrong to  steal, so I am stolen from. I believe it's wrong to mooch, so my stolen money is used to support the moochers.  Abortions are funded out of my own pocket after its been pilfered. In a thousand ways I am made by compulsion to support things I  hold to be wrong.

Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate,..
  As a minister of the gospel I  hold that  a society in which  there is no  state religion  offers me the greatest opportunity to persuade men from the Scriptures by earnest and heartfelt discussion and it offers me the greatest opportunity to hear their rebuttals. In fact, on a personal note,to do so is one of the great joys of my life.

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever,
   In a perfect world this would include the  peculiar  doctrines taught by the compulsory government schools.  Compulsory  government education has been one  of the greatest and most successful tools in  robbing people not only of truth, but of the ability to recognize the truth when it is presented to them.
  Jefferson proved himself by this resolution to be not only overtly brilliant, but a man who understood the issue and was able to get to the heart of it.  His arguments, his logic, his  very words, later became the heart of  the 1st Amendment, an amendment that  was an absolute condition for  Virginia's  ratification of the Constitution.
  Would to God we had a few more Jeffersons!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

There's a Lot to Learn

This footage was shot by yours truly on Beale Street during the latest Beale Street Blast, which is a  public ministry outreach organized by Banners Unfurled and Ken Lansing of Memphis Tenn.   We go to Beale Street during the Music fest and we preach to the crowd there.  Iti s insanely loud, and the crowd can be a bit hostile, so the standard practice is to have the preacher at the moment up on a small ladder or stepstool and then have a buffer of men between him and the crowd, as the crowd is apt to snatch you off of the ladder. In this video, Bob Love of Smyrna Baptist Church is the 'front man' and he is dealing with a heckler that  technically commits several acts of assault on his person.
  From this we can learn a handful of things. We can learn that it is possible to be gracious and loving in the face of open hostility. We also  learn ( from the last few seconds of the video) that the  police are  sometimes quite content to sit back and watch while you get assaulted. I don't mean to berate the Memphis PD, as they  have done an admirable job in times past of protecting us from the crowd. I just find their response very interesting. Then again, maybe they saw that Bob Love had the situation under control.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

No Paucity of Paper

 I have a deep ,dark, terrible, and  horribly kept secret. I love books. In fact, I  sort of hoard books.  If you came to our house in the last few years you would have noticed the  slow and steady accumulation of  bookshelves.  We had one or two in the living room, at least one in the back bedroom, and  one in the master bedroom.   There's a bookshelf my grandfather built and a small metal one we picked up at a yard sale somewhere. In addition to these  bookshelves being crammed with books on them, books lying on top of the books on them,  and books lying on their sides in front of those books, you  no doubt would have noticed the piles of books, and  boxes of books scattered around the premises.   I would say that its better now, but it's not, its just more centrally  located.  The entire  far wall of our bedroom is bookshelves and piles. In addition to that there are books stacked on  my nightstand and piled on top of every flat surface.  But the search and accumulation   never stops. I  cruise yard sales, and used book stores, and   I lie in ambush when our local library decides to  dump some books. I hit the  'free book rack' first, then I venture inside to  snatch up the dollar books. I dump them in the trunk of my car, and when I get home I try to find a  shelf or box or flat surface that they'll fit on.
   In my defense, if one could  hope to mount one, I don't  get books just for the sake of getting books. I actually read everything I  bring in. I suffer from an insatiable  curiosity about  a variety of topics. I recently picked up a tome  on how to conduct an exorcism. It's sitting in a pile right next to a book about the quest for the worlds largest small mouth bass. I have books on church history  snuggled right next to books on the search for Bigfoot.  I have a book of collected sea monster legends on the same shelf as a Ron Paul  book on Austrian economics.It is this eclectic  accumulation of dead trees that causes my wife to roll her eyes and causes me to sheepishly , and sometimes clandestinely, bring my latest haul into the house. Once someone gave us 17 long boxes of comic books ( about 250 a box), and I successfully  shifted them around the house to where my wife was never 100% sure of how many we had until I was able to sell off roughly half of them. But that's a whole different post.
  My insatiable hunger for the printed word seems to  chill when it comes to the  digital word. Yes, I wrote a book, and yes it was only available on Kindle for  a while ( I still am Kindle-less, cell-phone-less, and  ipod-less), but that was more a matter of economics than my love for small  flat e-readers. I just like books, and by 'books' I mean rectangular  compilations of pulpified  tree matter, not slim battery powered collections of magnetic ink and pixie dust.
  It may be a generational thing, but that's unlikely,  since my  wife loves her Kindle.  I got her a Kindle because a) I love her dearly, and b) her  collection of Amish romance novels was taking up valuable  shelf space.  I just like paper. I like the look of it, and the heft of it, and the smell of it, but I also like the fact that it  doesn't change.  I can write this blog, post this blog, then go back and edit this blog and you would have no indicator that I had changed anything. It is intangible, and subject to alteration.  Physical books are a set  quantity, and the   book I have from the 1800's ( yard sale) still say the exact same things, contain the exact same facts that they did when they were printed. They are  off-grid, untraceable and here to stay, at least until the paper rots.
  I can  justify my habit with  the best of them. After all, I'm always researching one thing or another, and I do refer back to them as needed, assuming I can find them. Ironically if Im doing  very mch internet research I will print it out so I cn hold it in my hand.  Plus we're homeschoolers! We're supposed to  have lots of books, it's part of the Code! Why just  yesterday my son needed to know the  difference between two different types of clouds (cumulus and stratus), and without the  Latin-English dictionary I snagged at an estate sale, why we'd be sunk!
  As vices go, I suppose its one of the more harmless ones. I dont do drugs, I dont chase wild women, I  pay my bills on time. But I'm always on the  prowl for more epistles. When the kids finally move out, one by one I'll probably take their rooms and convert them into more bookshelves. My  ever-patient wife will no doubt  accompany in my decling years, holding my hand and taking pity on me as I rummage through the local penny-saver  saying "Oh look, an estate sale!"
  Well I certainly feel better now that I've gotten this off my chest. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some things to get out of the trunk of my car before my wife gets home.

Glenn Beck and the Fatal Flaw

Someone gave me a copy of Glen Beck’s new book on gun control, entitled, appropriately enough, Control.  Now I do have some issues with Mr. Beck, which I won’t go into here. I don’t think it’s profitable for the people in the liberty movement to devour each other over perceived ideological impurities. Beck, love him or hate him, is a very visible voice that is, at least when his  handlers don’t pull his chain too hard, encouraging people to think about liberty and  he’s probably a fine fellow to read if you are slowly detoxing from the ‘government is good’ mindset.
  Having said that, the book is, over all, a very good collection of studies done by the gun control crowd which are then debunked, and quotes from the gun control crowd which are then examined in light of the  facts.  My issue with the book and it’s approach may seem like a minor point to some, but to me the very subtlety of it makes it a dangerous point.
  In it, over and over again, Mr. Beck makes the case that all we gun folks want is a reasonable exercise of our rights.  Nobody is asking for RPG’s to be legal, nobody wants a machine gun; all we want is what’s reasonable.  This sent up a big red flag for me. Who decides what’s reasonable?
  For Beck to say it’s unreasonable for me to  own a  grenade launcher is the ideological twin  of Feinstein  saying it’s unreasonable for me to own a  30 round magazine. In both cases, someone else has appealed to some external standard to decide for me what I should and should not have.
  Now I may well decide on my own, if I were allowed the choice, that a grenade launcher is impractical for me. I’ve made that decision with a variety of legal weapons, over issues of cost or practicality.  Ultimately I should be the one that decides what’s reasonable for me, not Glenn Beck and certainly not Feinstein.  In my estimation, anytime you surrender that decision to somebody else, whether you keep the articles you wanted to keep or not, you’ve lost the issue on a philosophical level.
  That philosophical surrender leads to your next loss as somebody else redefines what’s ‘reasonable’. Before long you’re disputing about what we’re asking to be legal. Since when do we ‘ask’ for freedom? As a friend of mine once said “a freedom that you have to ask for is a privilege’.
  If I was a  more conspiracy-minded sort of guy ( wait a minute here) I would entertain the notion that the Glenn Becks of the world are there to keep liberty folks from wandering too far off the reservation, and from thinking too deeply or from looking at things a certain way.  As long as we stay busy reacting to the other side’s definition of reasonable, and as long as we keep asking for permission to exercise  our rights, we can still be controlled. Or am I overthinking it?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It Must Just be My Paranoia

These pictures were taken by my wife of the sky over our house.  We almost never see or hear a  plane coming overhead, and we live nowhere near an airport.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Terrifying Math

  Fort Benning is  a military base in Georgia several hours from where I live. We pass through there on occasion  on our trips west, and we have been known to stop at the Peachtree Mall there in nearby Columbus.  I do my best to be observant , and strolling around the Peachtree Mall last time we were there, I noticed something; missing limbs.  Over and over again I saw young men in their  20's that were missing legs and arms, casualties of  our military expenditures overseas.
  That got me to thinking. Let's say, just for arguments sake, that there really was this incredibly savvy, well-funded global network of terrorists out there.   Let's say this imaginary group had sleeper cells and training camps and  state support, in other words, all the sort of things we have been told to worry about.  This phantom organization of steely-eyed jihadists decided to finally bring the West to its  knees, and they plannedd on doing so by detonating a variety of devices in the 10 most populous American cities (New York, Los Angeles ,Chicago, Houston,Philadelphia, Phoenix,San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose) and  to do it all in one day.  This gives them a potential target pool of  23,831,986 people.
  This assumes a lot of things. This assumes that  they actually  are trying to kill people as opposed to simply creating terror. After all, as recent events show, you can potentially bring an entire American city  to martial law with some modeling clay and an alarm clock with a bunch of wires sticking out of it. You need not produce a working device to get the job done. In fact, you don't even need savvy steely-eyed jihadists, you can have incompetent boobs as your front men, and the knee-jerk reactions of the American police state will terrorize for you.  But I'm getting off the topic.
  So our crack unit of terrorism types, seething with hatred at how  'free' we are, decide to   attack the 10 largest cities in America.  Let's also say that they chose as their definition of success the attacks of September 11, 2001 in which  around 3,000 people perished. Ten attacks in  ten cities with a casualty count of  3,000 per city. Now even a public school graduate like myself can figure out that the body count, were they successful ( and why wouldn't they be?) would be around 30,000 people.
  That  would be horrifying. That would be terrifying. That would be  heartwrenching. That would surely  shut the mouths of those silly libertarians and their rants  about the 'Constitution'. That would also be 0.001% of the population of those cities.
  While our bearded terrorists chortle with glee in their caves at their historic accomplishment and await the surrender of the  evil west, let us consider that the death toll in Iraq of U.S. military personnel is over 4,000 and when you count the losses in Afghanistan, you wind up with around 7,000 dead  American military personnel.  Now the cost of war  doesn't stop there, as we have to address the 32,000 or so wounded, some of whom are limping around the Peachtree Mall as we speak.  If we are really being intellectually honest, we have to factor in the  over 300 journalists that have been killed,  the almost 1,500 contractors that have died and the  300 plus  other coalition troops that  have been killed, and the 100,000 Iraqis that have been wounded.
  Then there are the 'bad guys'.  The US government's track record with drones has been horrific, with some organizations reported that  over 80% of the deaths from drone attacks are innocent bystanders.  This policy, accompanied with our occupation of Iraq has produced a mountain of bodies somewhere in the  neighborhood of 1.4 MILLION  men ,women and children.  Add this all up and  you get a very conservative estimate of 1,541,000 dead or wounded as a result of our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan (not counting Libya, Syria, etc).
  Now let us rejoin our world-class terrorists in their cave.  Despite being at the top of their game, with a sinking feeling they realize the desperation of their cause.  While they spent all their time and all their resources to score an unparalleled victory over the west, they would have to do this same event 48 times in a row to equal the sheer rivers of blood our misguided foreign policy has accomplished. They could never hope to cause the grief and  sorrow or inflict the damage  that we have done to ourselves and the countries we've invaded in the last  10 years.  They wipe away tears at they come to the full realization that , in the world of  real terror, they are  just rank amateurs.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

War and the Church

  It is my opinion that the blind loyalty shown by the evangelical church to the GOP and its policies (which  were then extended by  the current  white House occupant) is one of the most disastrous sentiments to take hold of the hearts of otherwise sane people. I am reminded of ‘battered wife syndrome’ in which  a woman who could do better justifies and rationalizes her black eyes and  bruises and makes her way back  the abuser who will continue on in his crimes, only now with her  consent.  I understand the proclivity in human nature to lump themselves in with this group or that group, and then turn a blind eye towards the excesses and abuses of ‘our’ group, but when people who claim to love truth, and people who claim to love life and peace cheer on the invasion and occupation of foreign lands, it is a bit puzzling.  When people who ought to know better swallow the  state propaganda and  fervently convince themselves that the enemy is who the state says the enemy is, despite the state’s track record of lies, deception and self-serving propaganda, I wonder if we have taken full leave of any discernment we might have once  possessed.
  War is broken bones and twisted bodies and destruction. It is a mangling of all that is decent in man. Even when justified, as in a defensive war, it is a horrible expression of all the dark passions of the human heart. It is rivers of blood and abuse.   Even after its cessation, its evils continue to linger on in the shattered lives of the survivors. For those to claim to be children of light to buy into this and support it with their voices, and with their pulpits, is, at best a betrayal of their calling.  I am not a pacifist, far from it, but I cannot reconcile the lies of the state with the truths I am supposed to proclaim.  I cannot be a mouthpiece for the warfare state.
  But then again, hasn’t it always been this way?  Haven’t states always done this?   One of the ways to knit the hearts of a people to yourself is through your propaganda, and when the propaganda is spewed by someone they trust, someone they have confidence in,  then half of your battle is won. The natural defenses people erect in their minds against a President or a Congress is neatly circumvented when the same-half-hearted logic is employed by their pastor.
  Let me give you an example. In the 1860’s, Mr. Lincoln conducted an invasion of the Confederacy that cost over 600,000 lives by the time it was over.  To convince people of the necessity of their children being fed into the gaping maw of death, Mr. Lincoln needed pastors who would twist scripture and toe the party line. He needed northern preachers who would lay aside their eternal calling to drone on and on about the sanctity of the Union and its preservation at all costs.  Reading through  the sermons preached at that time in  Union-sympathetic churches, I am  struck with the similarities  to the military worship that occurs in modern evangelical circles.  All  one would need to do is  devolve the grammar and sentence structure bit, and   replace the term ‘the South’ with  ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Iran’ and what you have is the modern evangelicals position on perpetual warfare.
  A sermon preached in Boston on Thanksgiving Day 1863 serves as our first example. Entitled “The War and the Millennium”, it attempts to establish a rather odd series of parallels between the Lincoln-led Union and the  coming kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Laying that blasphemy aside, the  sermon begins with the  questions 'Can the bloody feet of battle  be shod with the  preparation of the gospel of peace?'
  It then answers itself in the affirmative, making the  feeble case that  mankind is being made better by the slaughter of his fellow man at the behest of  a Washington tyrant, a sentiment akin to 'making the world safe for democracy'. Going on for quite some time, it eventually  makes the following amazing statement: "Three hundred thousand men hastened to cast themselves into the Gulf, that union and Democracy might be preserved."   Well, technically they were drafted, but why quibble over details?
  The real gem  shows up here: "The Union must be preserved, not alone because it was essential to our own welfare, but because  through its preservation would the  divine  doctrine of popular government  live among men. If America is lost, the world is  lost." Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
 "But our passion for our country is also and chiefly a passion for liberty.  We fight for empire, for empire means democracy.  We shall  wage this war fifty years if need be, because everybody, with more or less clearness sees that it's success is  essential to the preservation of those ideas"  I had no idea John McCain was channeling this gentleman.
  Lincoln  embraced fully this  fifth column of propagandists. Matthew Brady the photographer responsible for the most compelling photographs of the  war,  reportedly said "Without the evolution of the churches' opinions, . . . it is unlikely that the president could have proceeded as he did."
  At a  service in New York in 1863, Rev. Marvin Richardson Vincent used his precious  time in the Presbyterian pulpit to crank out the following piece of sermonistic prose: "The evils we combat, have been growing for eighty years, and are not going to disappear at out word. They will die hard, and it is well; for God is testing our worthiness to enjoy the boon of liberty, by asking how much we love it, how hard we are willing to fight for it, how much we are willing to sacrifice for it: and if we shall do this work like men, if we shall fall in with God's manifest design to purge our national anthem, singing with ever bolder emphasis, until the palmetto groves, and the still lagoons, and the snowy fields of cotton, now no longer King, shall be stirred with the voice of thanksgiving."   I submit to  you that the true evils of the day were the abandonment of the founding  principles that allowed Mr. Lincoln to get away with this, along with the  compliance of consent of  preachers who  should have known better. He went on to conclude :Methinks it might reach them as they lie in their cold beds at Antietam, and Chancellorville [sic], at Donelson and Vicksburgh, at Fredericksburgh, and Chattanooga, and Bull Run, and stir their silent dust with a throb of thanksgiving—of thanksgiving, not that peace has been restored; not that husbands and sons, and fathers, shall go forth to battle no more; not that trade is revived and commerce safe; but that God has led the nation through the vale of tears, through the terrible baptism of blood and fire, to a nobler and purer national life."
  I would hope that the insanity of those statements ring true to anyone who is aware of what a very different place  America was after 1865.  Yet the same thing is happening now as  our liberties are stripped, and our treasure stolen and  the blood of  our children  spilled for no discernible benefit.  Citizenry  fed a  steady diet of 'We support our president, no matter what, he's one of us ' (an actual statement I heard  during the Bush administration) will turn a blind eye to the charred remains of fellow human beings after a drone attack while patting themselves on the back about how they 'support the troops'. It is  high time that we re-establish our discernment as a people and  realize who the enemy just might be, and  experience a  real separation of church and state propaganda.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Speaking of Gerald Sutek....

Thought y'all might enjoy this video.

One of the Best Books You'll Ever Read

  I don’t recommend many books. Those that know me  may beg to differ, as it must seem to them that I am constantly shoving  works of literature into their hands, or sending them terse e-mails to the effect that  hey should read this book or that.  But I maintain that since I read everything I can get my hands on, the number of books I will recommend is a very small percentage compared to what I will actually read.  A colleague of mine commented that, in his personal library he will only have books that are doctrinally correct and philosophically sound.  My tastes are, shall we say, more eclectic. In my personal collection I have books on the bizarre, the obscure, and the heretical as well as books that fit my colleague’s narrow choice of reading material.  I say this as  preparatory to  the recommendation I am  about to make, as the book I will eventually  mention is absolutely one of the greatest works written in the last  30 years or so.  But first, a  story.
  It was  late 1995 or early 1996, and I had been engaging  in publick ministry for not too terribly long when  someone  pushed into my hands a dog-eared, highlighted and underlined copy of a book called The Street Preachers Manual by Gerald Sutek. I  of course had heard of   Gerald Sutek as he had been  friends with the  man who was training me in the ministry. I read the book, which was, maybe 50 pages long, and gleaned from it what I could, but wasn’t terribly impressed. Of course, in the same vein as a teenager who thinks his father a dunce until he has overcome a certain amount of his own foolishness, a few years later when I read it and had a bit more experience under my belt, the book came across as simply brilliant.
  As time and God’s will would have it, I would eventually develop a friendship with Sutek and would wind up reading almost everything he had ever written. Out of all his works though, the work that I think would be the most benefit to the most Christians is a book he wrote several years back entitled Fragments of Faith.
  The average Christian exists very much cheek and jowl with the world’s system, the world’s philosophies, and the world’s mindset. Our mentality is very much of sight, and very little of faith. We have more confidence in the arm of our own flesh and the color of our own paycheck than in God’s provision. We will indebt ourselves to the world, and to the world system chasing the appetites of our flesh and because of that, miss out on the richness of living out of God’s hand.
  Gerald Sutek   founded the SWAT Team for Christ back in the 80’s, and the mission was  simple. They would travel the country conducting publick ministry, and teaching publick ministry. Their chariot was an old car, and a  small trailer that doubled as a preaching platform. In addition to this unusual endeavor, they would proceed without borrowing any money or asking for any funds, trusting solely in God’s provision. The story of their adventures and misadventures is covered in this book, and it’s  sequel  More Fragments of Faith.  It is  full of stories , not only of exciting  adventures in the ministry, but rather of how God fed them over and over again, proving himself faithful.
  Even as I write this Gerald Sutek is in the Philippines where he intends to live out the remainder of his days serving the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching and raising up preachers to reach the Philippine people. He told me the summer before he departed “I’m going to the Philippines in January whether I have the money or not, because God said go.”   That January, he went, and God has fed him ever since.  Would to God that I could apply the lessons he has tried to teach me as well as I ought! Would to God that I would rely on God more, and on  Michael Alford less!
  As the US economy   continues its collapse, and our very society   continues to come apart at the seams, it’s a book, and a mindset that I cannot recommend too highly.  We need to know how to lean on God, to seek his face and his provision, to live as children of the day in the rapidly gathering gloom. This book will help you do that very thing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Atlas Shrugged on Education

  If you've ever read Atlas shrugged, you may well remember that there is a point in the book in which society begins to fall apart.  Trains collide, cities burn, and overall  the motor of the world begins to  screech to a violent, bloody halt.   Innocent people perish  because the  moochers  thought they could count on the  cooperation of the producers indefinitely. The producers in Rand's  work could re-emerge from the shadows and fix it, but to fix it would only prolong the inevitable since the real fix is for the false ideology of the moochers to collapse into the  horrible unthinkable failure that it is.  Ive often thought how in that scenario how difficult it would be to sit back and watch the whole thing shudder and twitch in its death throes knowing that innocent people would be hurt.  Long term, the collapse is actually the  more moral solution, but it seems to me that only a dispassionate robot could watch  it implode without a heavy heart.  Hold that thought.
  As homeschoolers our family exists outside of the system in a lot of ways.  A  couple years back we got  a charming letter from the   Department of Education (as appropriately named as the Patriot Act) of our state. They informed us that   the school year for them would be shortened to 166 days a year, but we would  still be  'required' to   teach for 180 days a year.  The reason they cited for this  was some sort of  union negotiation situation, but a  few  questions asked of the right people revealed the real reason; money. Our state  simply couldn't afford to keep the doors open  180 days, so they would teach  166 days and  fill in the gap with  'teacher work days' and  extended field trips, including a day off for the entire school system when the  local high school team became state champions.  Despite this cost-cutting measure,  the state education system   continues to hemorrhage money, and  not too long after shortening the year, they began to whittle away at  music and drama programs. They laid off  teaching assistants, and   there are rumours that the school year will be shortened again.
  It's taken  over 70 years, but the public school system with its humanistic roots is finally starting to topple, but  a monstrosity that large  takes a while to fall.  Think what you will  of me, but as this   behemoth falls  ,  there are good kids who will be hurt. they will receive an even more sub-standard education than they already have.  Screams for more funding will grow shriller and shriller.  Having established that they have the right to my money, they will clamor for more and more of it. The cost of education will rise even as the worth of it plummets.  There is no other way this can end. The system cannot be mended.  The only moral thing to do is to let it collapse.
    Without my tax dollars, the system would collapse sooner, and cleaner. But the  government school industry  enjoys a monopoly on  its funding source, and  although I can  pull my children out of their classrooms, I cannot  voluntarily stop funding their classrooms.  They will steal from me as much as they can, as long as they can, and the only thing I can think to do  to hasten its demise is to encourage  people to  pull their children out of the system.  That is where the battle is, in my estimation.  A mass exodus from the dying organism seems to me be our best choice. I  think you have a moral obligation to remove your children from the government schools. Your school may be a little better or a little worse, but I assure you that  at the higher levels, they all have the same agenda.
  This is a moral issue.It's  more moral for them to steal our  money than it is  to steal the  hearts and minds and future of our children.  So we fight the  battle where we can; with our  attendance. Without our children, they can shorten the  school year as much as they want, and they can cut every program not directly related to their agenda, and the impact on us will be  minimal.  The collapse is  coming, but  boy is it going to be  slow, and painful and ugly. I cannot save your children, I've done what I can to save mine.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Liberty Round Table

This is my radio appearance with Sam Bushman and Curt Crosby. A show worth listening to even if I'm not on it.


  Hopefully tomorrow morning I will climb into my car and head  towards Memphis Tenn. to participate one more time in the  Beale Street Blast.  The Blast is a street preacher's convention of sorts in which  roughly 80 or so of us will  take to Beale Street to minister during the  Memphis in May  music festival.  If this  year is anything like past years, a  sizable portion of the crowd will  scream, throw stuff, show off their bodies , etc.  We will be called  hateful, judgmental and a variety of other names while we stand there and  , with varying degrees of patience, try to tell them of 'righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come'.
  It's really quite irrational. I mean, I disagree with their drinking, but I don't  scream at them about it. I don't call the police on them. I don't say hateful things to them.  Unregenerate mankind's resistance to the gospel  has always been interesting to me.  God loves them, and has given them his Son, but because it runs afoul of their  sin, they react to his grace with   unfeigned hatred. For almost 18 years I've watched this, and to be honest, hostility is  easier to deal with than apathy.  So I embrace their hostility.
   But let me clue in on a little secret of street preaching. We're not out there for them. By that I mean  two things. First, we are out there for the Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of the results. But also, we aren't out there for the  screamers and  hecklers and flashers. We are out there for that one or two guys standing  on the edge of the crowd listening to every word we say. We are out there for the people that will approach us  after we preach and engage us in conversation. We are out there for the ones that are pretending not to listen.   All those other guys are just  the noise you have to put up with to be able to minister. And it is an honour to be able to minister to the lost on their own turf.