Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Angry White America, Donald Trump is not your Friend

I too am angry, frustrated and outraged about the direction of our country. But my anger is of a different sort. You see, while many of you yearn for a yesteryear where African-Americans, Hispanics and women were relegated to second class citizenship, my frustration is with a political party that did everything it could to stymie economic growth and derail a President who  simply wanted to steer our country out of the doldrums of global recession.  Looking back over the Obama Presidency, one glaring fact is clear, Republican obstruction and recalcitrance in Congress not only slowed the pace of our recovery, it exasperated an already toxic environment in Washington DC where division is the order of the day. It’s no wonder polls of our “Do Nothing” Congress are in the single digits. I often wonder where we’d be as a country if Republicans made a decision to work with President Obama instead of colluding to make him a one term president.  By the way, how did that effort turn out?

Anyway, what if Republicans backed efforts to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure?  Millions of Americans would be positioned to collect a check to pay their bills. And if you remember, when President Obama took office, we were hemorrhaging jobs – upward of 800,000 per month for the first six months of his presidency. The unemployment rate was hovering over 10% nationally. The stock market was sputtering. And, we lost over 8 million jobs. Where are we today? According to the July jobs report, the US economy has added 255,000 jobs.  We’ve recaptured nearly 15 million jobs with 75 consecutive months of private sector job growth.  The national unemployment rate holds at 4.9%. The stock market is seeing record numbers.  And gas prices? My goodness, in most states, the cost of gas is under $2.00 per gallon – much needed relief for virtually all American families. All of this with the implementation of a stimulus package economists say should have been much larger.

I wonder though, if there was an unprecedented bi-partisan effort to rebuild our roadways, railways, bridges; sewer systems, ports, levees, dams; aviation systems and energy grids would there have been even sturdier job growth, perhaps several million more Americans working?  In terms of our national infrastructure, we’d be the envy of the world.  Instead, China and our Western allies are outpacing and outshining us in these critical areas.  Republicans blew our chances at arriving at bi-partisanship, compromise and consensus. They’ve blocked everything.  Republicans obstructed every effort to move our nation forward.   But I get it, you’re angry.  You can’t get pass your prejudices.  You’re still not willing to accept Barack Obama as your President.  And, it’s much easier for you to blame government for your problems instead of the real culprits that are causing you pain and misery.  And now you’ve placed trust in Donald Trump to champion your cause.  And while “Outsider” Trump leads the Republican party,  let me explain why he isn’t worthy of your vote.

Donald Trump is the epitome of a corporate scoundrel willing to exploit and undermine the middle class, working poor and the American worker.  And while it’s true Trump employed a lot of people, independent contractors and other entities were left in the cold when Trump used bankruptcy to skirt responsibility to the people that placed faith in his feckless business acumen.   It’s the likes of Donald Trump that find benefit in undermining the American worker and paying people less than a livable wage – while his profits provide for a more than comfortable living.

While you direct your rage at government, it is American corporations and the investor class that exploit your labor by setting stagnant wages so that profits fill their coffers while you try to figure out how to pay bills and feed your family. Hey angry white man supporting Donald Trump, has it even occurred to you that  while Trump lambastes  China and our trade policies, his personal wealth is as a result of exploiting overseas labor while simultaneously undermining American workers?

Think about it: Trump’s suits, ties and other apparel are made in foreign countries, not because of burdensome trade policies, but because paying American workers a decent or living wage would impact his profit margins. To put it simply: It’s easier and more profitable for Trump and his ilk to pay a factory worker in China $1.00 a day than you $15.00 an hour.  Why? Because cheap labor allows people like Trump to live extremely well while you struggle to make ends meet.  Your quality of life is undermined while Trump’s empire is buttressed by exploited labor.   And as always, standard fair for Trump, corporate giants, the GOP and the investor class is to blame our regulatory system and  tax structure as the impetus for shipping jobs overseas.  Placing blame on regulations and taxes is as specious and dishonest as his feigned outrage and cynical campaign.

Look, I get it, you hate Hillary Clinton. I won’t try to convince you to cast a vote for someone you dislike nor will I minimize your angst and fears. What I will tell you is,  your trust in Donald Trump is misplaced. Hopes for a Trump Presidency will not change your financial situation for the better. The real target of your frustration and outrage should be aimed at corporations and investors that think it’s ok to pay American workers wages they can hardly live on – while they themselves live the good life. Your problem isn’t simply government, burdensome regulations or the corporate tax structure. The anxiety and uncertainty you’re grappling with is the result of the place where your paycheck is signed.

Trump knows this. The CEO, President and Upper-management of your job are intimately familiar with how this system works.  American corporations, multinational conglomerates, The GOP;  the investor class and Wall Street work in tandem to ensure that profits continue to swell the coffers of the 1% – ultimately undermining the American worker.  So too are financial institutions complicit in this scandal.
While Trump bellows anti-TPP fervor and has you arguing about our trade policies, you’ve been shrewdly maneuvered into looking pass the real transgressors – the so-called Free Market, American corporations and potentially your employer.  The government isn’t forcing major corporations to ship jobs to China, India and other countries.  Factories and plants haven’t closed because of a dictatorial or totalitarian government, it’s cheap labor, swelled coffers and the prospect of living extraordinarily well that undergirds why this once booming sector has shuttered.

The call center in India where you hope to resolve issues with your cell phone, cable or other services isn’t a government orchestrated scheme, corporate giants have found cheap labor to bolster profits and satisfy investors.  While you’re barely able to make ends meet,   it’s helpful to remember  in the 1950’s the CEO to worker pay ratio was a mere 20-to-1.  Today’s studies suggests  CEO pay is 354 times that of an average employee. No one argues that a CEO shouldn’t earn a higher wage than an employee.  But when the pay gap is this wide and the average worker’s salary is stagnate or reduced, it’s only fair to highlight the moral contradiction.

If corporate profits are high and compensation packages are worth millions – while full-time jobs are winnowed from 40 to 30 hours per week, something is fundamentally wrong. The free market has become a low wage labor camp where the working poor barely survive and the so-called Middle Class struggles to maintain their standard of living.

The backbone of our economy is the so-called working class and working poor. This group or class of worker largely supports the infrastructure of our tax system, retail industry and in a major way, undergirds Wall Street and the functioning of our government. Pick any industry and it’ll be easy to demonstrate how its underpaid workers are baring the weighty load of its existence.
While our nation puts a great deal of emphasis on so-called “Job Creators,” it’s the working class and working poor that sustains our economy.
There’s not a product or service in existence without a worker to fill orders or cobble together the materials to bring products to market. At some point the emphasis must shift to the working class. We have become beasts of burden. Our corporate infrastructure and economic system exploits our labor. We’re settling for low wages as if it were a privilege to be devalued and underpaid. And, as the weight of an entire business is hoisted on our shoulders, we fail to see the injustice in the arrangement.  But for the rancor Washington DC , you would connect the dots and expose the real threat to our democracy and way of life.

 Donald Trump and his ilk represent all that you loathe about government. Trump is no more a friend to you than the entities that put profit above the American worker and American families.  It’s time for Angry White America to lift the veil of this scam and redirect the rage. It’s also time to demand a new patriotism from American corporations, businesses and employers.  Put American workers and American families ahead of profits. Put American families first.  And as it relates to Donald Trump’s run for President, his  apparel line belies the notion that he’s really interested in your well -being.

Things Aren't Getting Worse

I SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE...

things are "getting worse." To be sure, all the chaos, conflict,  confusion; murders, rapes robberies, terrorism, wars; etc. are bad, but our world is as it has always been, a violent place.

You can choose ANY moment in history and you'll find a host of cultures and societies grappling with the awful things that are so pervasive in today's world.

For instance, when we read scripture, we often overlook the horrible acts of incest, murder and rape for the larger "spiritual message" in the passages. So if an entire population of people are murdered, we tend to search or perhaps excuse the acts of murder for the grand scheme of things.

The reality however is entire populations of people are killed for one reason or the other. Or, women are raped. Children are victims of incest. Good Samaritans are lauded, while the despicable act of robbery is overlooked to present a larger message of kindness. Robbery was a problem in the society where the bible was constructed. So too was rape, adultery, exploitation of the poor; abuse of children; religious bigotry, prejudice and violence towards groups and people from other cultures.

The point is, pre and post Antiquity; during so-called biblical times and virtually every society on every continent in every culture and society, the awful things that beleaguer today's world has always plagued humanity. Are there difference? Of course. 

The internet, social media and television provides a daily dose of the horrors that exist in our world. But, while television provides a faster route to receive bad news, bad news has always been available. So no, things aren't getting worse.

The awful things that exist in our world isn't an indication of the so-called last days. What we're dealing with today has ALWAYS dogged humanity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WHEN DEATH HITS HOME


The death of a family member or friend is the hardest thing we all have to grapple with in life. The pain and enormous loss mires the heart in a gaping hole of emptiness. There’s this invisible, yet tangible fog that hovers over your every waking moment. Physically you can see, but your walk is seemingly aimless. Your touch is encumbered by numbness. Your voice sputters with sorrow. Every direction you turn is an endless void. You cry. You scream. You moan. You sob. You hold your stomach and bend in unbelievable agony. The sense of loss is unbearable.

No matter how meaningful the condolences; despite the well- meaning religious platitudes; and the articulate and flowery words; in your alone time the pain and grief is so damn hard.
Again, you cry. Again you scream. Again you moan, sob and weep. It hurts. And no matter how sudden or in advance you prepare for this horrible moment,  that “preparation” is fleeting when the agony bears down on your aching heart. 

Yeah, days, weeks and months will pass and the emotional turmoil will subside – a bit. But there’s always a reminder of the one you loved. A smell.  A song.  A breeze in the wind that takes you back to a particular moment. And again you cry.

But you know, off in the distance there will be “some” measure of relief. Time has a way of healing the wounds. But we all just need time to cry – to just let it out.

We’ll never fully understand the CREATOR’S plan(s) for each of our lives. We do know that he established the parameters of life and death. And ultimately, we will all make this transition. But there’s one thing I’m certain of, we’ll see our family members and friends in a dimension of existence far greater than what we experience on this side of life.


For now, just let us cry...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ABSOLVING GOD OF MASS MURDER



This piece is going to be extremely uncomfortable for a lot of people. But I think it's time we have an honest conversation about the despicable things we're all taught about GOD - things that you were convinced are acceptable simply because it's written in the bible.

Perhaps you've never considered the gravity of what you believe - that it's okay to murder children. That there's something spiritually beneficial to genocide, rape, slaughter and slavery simply because it was supposedly done at the behest of the god in the bible. For me there's no distinction between a modern despot murdering an entire population of people and a number of biblical figures  who supposedly visited the same horror on people in the name of God - simply because they either believed differently or didn't share the same cultural and social worldview of their murderer(s).

Today's turmoil in the so-called Middle East and other parts of the world is reflective of this insanity. It's time for GOD to be absolved of murder. It's time to strip blame away from the CREATOR and place it squarely at the feet of humanity.

I INVITE YOU TO CONSIDER JUST A FEW PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE:

*"Now go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not: but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling..." 1 Samuel 15:3

*"And we utterly destroyed them as we did unto Sihon King of Hesbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children, of every city." Deuteronomy 3:6.

*"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:9

Once you peel back the layers of  hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical interpretation and weekly sermons, what you're actually reading is sanctioned murder. Forget for a moment the notion of "context" to somehow explain this insanity, murder is murder!  Genocide is genocide! Killing defenseless babies, infants, children and women is despicable and evil. But if context is wholly important, the biblical god's wrath in the instance of Amalek is directed at his descendants - 300 years later.

So apart from the wholesale  annihilation of an entire population of people, which in today's world would be considered genocide - we see the god of the bible directing the slaughter of defenseless  babies, infants and children who had nothing to do with the grievous acts of their predecessors.

To suggest our CREATOR is the malevolent, vengeful and sadistic murderer in scripture - who time after time orders the Israelites to wholesale slaughter defenseless babies, children and women is blasphemous. The notion that GOD would sanction virgin girls to be raped by Israelite soldiers or sends bears out of the forest to maul and kill 42 children because they teased a man about his bald head is absurd.  Do you honestly believe the CREATOR has to resort to cruelty and murder to prove a point?  The god depicted in the bible, especially the Old Testament, is repugnant, cruel and despotic; mired in bipolar tendencies and the malignant characteristics of Man. The god of the bible is wholly antithetical to the loving GOD of Creation.

I admonish you to put aside the nicely wrapped sermon and convoluted hermeneutics that rationalizes genocide and murder. Take for example the god of scripture having 70,000 people  killed because of David's Census as found in 1 Chronicles 21. Consider the destruction of 60 cities and the murder of those populations for the sole purpose of Israel's encroachment and theft of those lands as found in Deuteronomy 6. Not only are men, women, the young and old  murdered for the god of scripture as found in Joshua 6, every living creature - including oxen, sheep and donkeys are brutally slaughtered.

It's stunning that in Judges 21, the god of scripture orders the wholesale killing of ALL the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. And to add insult to injury, the only exception to be made in this mass killing are virgin girls who were to be taken, forcibly raped and married. And get this, if Israel's blood thirsty band of killers desired more virgins, the god of scripture instructs them to hide on the road and pick off a virgin of their choosing to be raped and made to be a wife.

We're told that the insecure god of scripture is so jealous of other gods that in 2 Kings 10:18-27, he orders another mass murder of worshipers of a different god - in their place of worship! The number of people murdered in this instance is nearly 400,000 - with orders to kill nearly 2 million more people. To believe this about our CREATOR is insane! To endorse these murdering rampages is equally crazy.

Has it ever occurred to you that the people Israel were allegedly directed to kill may have had their own story? Try for a moment to imagine being a Canaanite child as the Israelites marched over the hills to inflict the most brutal of attacks - to see on the horizon an approaching army that would eventually kill your neighbors, family and friends - infants slaughtered at the behest of another nation's "god."

Why would a loving and just God, who allegedly is "no respecter of persons" use Israel to murder and slaughter infants and women to reveal himself to foreign nations? Why instruct Moses to take the severed heads of Baal worshipers and hang them before the "Lord" in the sun?  Couldn't the god of scripture just reveal himself to Canaan? It seems implausible, at least to me, that a loving God would reject compassionate methods of revealing himself to a nation of (we're told) idol worshipers.  We're suggesting that a God who can create all this majesty and wonder in our Universe is restricted to absolute brutality as a form of revelation?

Having been in church virtually all of my life, being taught about the Moabites, Amalekites, Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites and Perizzites was ALWAYS a one-sided affair. In other words, those people never told their story regarding these alleged events. Like many of you reading this piece, I grew up seeing the god of scripture through the eyes and prism of Israel.

So when we read about Israel's enemies, the contextual implications were that these beastly pagans and idolator's crime was that from infancy to adulthood, they worshiped the "god(s)"  of their culture and land. Interestingly, those pagan god(s) eschewed by Israel happens to be the same god who is the object of their worship. More on that issue further down in this piece.

There's something sick and twisted about the god of scripture.  I mean, being angry at Israel - to the point of destruction - because the expression of love crossed cultural and social bounds with the Amorites, Jebusites and other nations? C'mon!

There is NOTHING in the written record from the aforementioned people/nations that they received and rejected divine revelation from the god of scripture. The scribes and story tellers of a nation that brutally slaughtered innocent babies and children give us THEIR perspective of things.
Again, it's time to absolve GOD of mass murder. The only way to accomplish this goal is to draw a distinction between the god of scripture,  as seen through the eyes and prism of Israel and the CREATOR of our Universe - which I've done personally.

Now, some people will argue that the CREATOR and the god of scripture are the same.  I believe otherwise and here's the distinction: When I speak of GOD, I'm referring to the creator of our Universe and the world in which we exist.  I'm referring to the creator of the fundamental forces and physics that governs our world and has sustained our Universe for 13.8 billion years.

The GOD to whom I refer keeps our Sun in its fixed location; suspends our planet in the vastness of space - 93 million miles away from our home star; prevents the planets in our solar system from careening into each other; keeps swirling galaxies from colliding into our Milky Way home; and keeps the Universe from collapsing.

The CREATOR isn't confined to theology, doctrine, dogma or religious systems.  There are NO barriers or obstacles obstructing a connection with the CREATOR.  Nor does the CREATOR close doors to his presence, restricts his majesty to a select group or so-called chosen people or has a singular path to his grace.  For me, there's a clear DISTINCTION between the GOD to whom I refer and the god of scripture.

Well Ron Holland isn't the god of the bible responsible for what you've just mentioned? No! My friends, some of what I'm about to share is not part of your Wednesday night bible study curriculum or the subject of your Pastor's weekly sermons.  Israel's "god" and the god of the bible is nothing more than an amalgamation of the Chief Canaanite Deity EL and the post Exodus/Moses deity, Yahweh.

Interestingly, the Canaanite deity was worshiped by Israel's earlier ancestors, including the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.  Yahweh derived from a process of evolution and convergence (from EL to Baal to Yahweh) during a long period of what biblical scholars call, differentiation -  an economic, generational and religious "polemic" which caused a chasm between Israel's EL & Baal worshipers and the newfangled Yahweh adherents. This process is what gave rise to monotheism. Yahweh didn't simply "reveal" himself to Moses or other biblical figures, there was an internal struggle that paved the way for the chief deity of the Canaanite pantheon of gods to emerge as Israel's god.

SO LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR FOR CHURCH FOLKS:  The El Shaddai, El eylon, El Adoni; Elohim, Eloah, that you shout to in church or during praise is the chief Canaanite deity EL. Yes, you're worshiping a pagan deity! Lest I forget Yahweh or Jehovah, please understand that these names are simply an evolution of the names and characteristics of Canaanite deities and that of other neighboring cultures like the Phoenicians, Hittities, Assyrians, Syrians, and of course the Canaanites.

Additionally,  there are striking similarities between Baal and Yahweh. Yes, Baal and Yahweh may be one in the same! Below are some of the interesting similarities between Baal and Yahweh - similarities that speak to converging deities resulting from merging social environments. These similarities can be found in a host of biblical passages, but I draw your attention to just a few from Psalms 29 and Psalms 18:

*Both Baal and Yahweh are riders of the clouds
*Both Baal and Yahweh are Lord of hosts in battle
*Both Baal and Yahweh are in high places
*Both Baal and Yahweh have alters for animal sacrifices
*Both Baal and Yahweh have victories over watery foes
*Both Baal and Yahweh tremble and shake the Earth

AND HERE ARE HYMNS ASCRIBED TO BAAL WHICH ARE STRIKINGLY SIMILAR TO HYMNS ASCRIBED TO YAHWEH:

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
*The God of glory thunders,
*The Lord thunders over the mighty waters...
*The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
*The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;"

Admittedly, biblical writers take great pains to point out  Israel's rejection of idol worship and the purging of pagan influences on its social order.  But shrouding efforts to quell Israel's penchant for pagan worship is the seemingly duplicitous relationship between King Josiah and his campaign of reform in the 7th century BC and the retroactive theological agenda of the Deuteronomic scribes who sought to address current social and religious concerns during three crisis moments in Israel's history - the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC,  the fall of Israel's southern kingdom  to the Babylonians in 587 BC and of course the exilic period of the 6th Century BC.

We're told that Josiah "rediscovered" the law and began instituting reform to bring Israel under the banner of a Yahweh only worship.  However, scholars, with a great degree of certainty, believe that the heavily redacted,  rewritten and revised work of Deuteronomy wasn't "discovered" but was a reworking of traditions to both explain the tragedies that befell Israel and to create a unified theology that would bring the nation into a monotheistic social and religious norm.

According to Biblical Scholar, Dr. Steven DiMattei, "When the Assyrians came in and annihilated the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, but left the southern kingdom of Judah untouched (at least for a time being), a theological interpretation of history was needed to make sense of these events. It must be borne in mind that the biblical scribes were not recording historical events per se, but rather creating a powerful historicized theology. And that historicized theology was written by the Deuteronomic scribes of the South. Moreover, the Deuteronomist used this occasion—the fall of Israel—to write an immensely influential piece of propaganda..."

Dr. DiMattei goes on to say that Josiah's reforms were undergirded by the theological agenda of Deuteronmist scribes and he sought to reconquer the northern territories lost when the "Assyrians retreated from the region." Dr. DiMattei and a host of other scholars believe Josiah's aim was to centralize the Yahweh only cult in Jerusalem.  So ultimately, what emerged as the god(s) of Israel's forefathers and later generations are the very pagan deities they rejected.

HERE'S THE POINT: Our faith traditions and how we see GOD is through the eyes and prism of Israel. Unfortunately, Israel's god and the god of the bible is nothing more than a morphed and amalgamated deity with roots in the very pagan cultures that were on the receiving end of Israel's blood thirsty rampages.

The reason I've taken the extraordinary step of establishing a demarcation between our CREATOR and the god of the bible is because first, I believe much of the confusion and violence in our world is attributed to the kind of religious fundamentalism indicative of the schisms, rancor and blood shed reflected in the pages of scripture. Secondly, the CREATOR has shouldered the blame for humanity's egregious and despicable acts for far too long.

The god of scripture is Man's creation; fashioned, formulated and shaped by Man's hands, his warped thinking and scandalous behaviors.   And intricately woven into what we hail as the "word of god" is a tragic road map to the kinds of confusion and violence that has gripped our world through the ages.

The genocides and mass murders in the pages of scripture is not the doing of our CREATOR. Contrary to what I was taught and what you believe (based on scripture)our CREATOR doesn't smite, smote or orders the wholesale murder and slaughter of entire populations of people. If the violent events reflected in the pages of scripture are indeed true, it's the function of a craven humanity that deserves blame, not GOD!

Many of you will view this writing as a besmirching of the bible. I view it as absolving GOD of mass murder and placing the blame squarely at the feet of humanity. GOD is not a mass murderer as reflected in the bible. And it is time for that antiquated thinking to be tossed into the trash bin of history.

In conclusion, The bible and other religious text has extraordinary value in our lives. There's an unrivaled moral clarity reflected in many of the pages and passages of scripture. The Book of Proverbs for instance gives us wisdom. The poetry of Psalms gives us hope. The book of Job helps us cope with struggle. And, the words attributed to Jesus forces us to closely examine our individual humanity. Jesus' words also helps to bolster a desired closeness to our CREATOR. This makes us better people.

When I open the bible for study, I search for passages that provide affirmation and personal morality. It is teeming with stories germane to my spiritual journey. The bible and other religious and philosophical writings are critically important. But these books, pages and passages are the writings of Man and not to be confused with GOD's authentic word - a subject I'll save for another time.

To place mass murder, genocide and the despicable acts of violence reflected in scripture on the CREATOR'S shoulders is an affront to his holiness and majesty.  Equally offensive is to equate the god of the bible with our CREATOR. They are NOT the same and GOD is NOT a mass murderer!

Monday, April 4, 2016

It's NOT another "test" of GOD or satan's meddling, it's YOU!



We're ALL governed by our choices and decisions. Whatever is happening in your life - whether good or bad - at the end of the day and when it's all said and done, in most instances you can trace your current circumstance(s) back to some choice or decision.

I've given up believing that bad circumstances are "tests" from GOD or satan is fiddling around in my experience(s). Life is fraught with pitfalls, obstacles and disappointments. Living is an arduous journey. Why do we further complicate our journey with a false narrative that GOD is somehow reduced to humanity's frailties and insecurities to secure our love?
Why do we foolishly embrace the idea that satan is equal in power with GOD and he too has influence in our lives? Because many of us are averse to taking personal responsibility for our actions. In other words, if it isn't another "test" of GOD, it has to be satan's dastardly plan - leading us around like mindless puppets doing his bidding. We've effectively put satan on equal footing with the CREATOR.

Fortunately, I've taken a different course in ferreting out the cause(s) of my own circumstances. Instead of pointing to the CREATOR or satan, I've turned my fingers around and pointed them back at me. This frees from the irrational spookiness of religion and allows me to see the CREATOR in a far more rational, and I dare say, beneficial way than what I was traditionally taught.

Today when I'm mired in a bad circumstance I don't hold to the notion that I'm being "tested" by the CREATOR. What I'm required to do as a rational and free thinking man is trace my current situation back to the moment(s) a decision was made that informs the circumstance. It may not even be a choice or decision I've personally made, but it's a decision that nonetheless impacts my life.

You see, we make GOD out to be some cynical and insecure abuser who has to employ test after test after test and still more tests to prove our love and secure our faithfulness. When in reality, it isn't some supposed test of GOD, it's merely the choices and decisions that we've made.

A practical way of looking at this is to examine your own circumstance(s). Where ever you are in life right now - whether good or bad - can you pin point a decision that was made that helped to land you in your current situation? If your marriage ended badly because of infidelity or abuse or a number of other things, someone made a choice to cheat, abuse, etc. If you're up every night at 3:00 am eating pork chops, ice cream and potato chips, your bad health is a function of bad choices and not the whispers of satan in your ear. That all important job interview you were late for because of a flat tire wasn't satan's trick, you've been driving on bald tires for months. You made the foolish decision to not prioritize your spending. GOD is NOT going to peel back the ceiling of the universe to move snarling traffic or find you a parking space at work, it was YOUR choice to heavily drink late last night causing you to oversleep - again.

As we journey through life we're ALL going to make both bad and good choices. This reality is reflective in our personal lives and interactions with other people. It's the decision(s) of an employer, manager or supervisor that temporarily or fatally impacts the trajectory of someone's career or employment. It's the choices of people in our financial institutions that impacts both the national and global markets. It's choices and decisions of people-led world governments that fosters conflict, war, famine or the prosperity of a nation.

My relationship and walk with the CREATOR has yielded me a critically important realization, I've got to and we ALL must take responsibility for the choices and decisions we make in life. It's NOT another "test" of GOD. It's NOT satan's puppeteering. It's me! It's you! It's US!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A WORLD FOREVER IN CONFLICT

We hear of all the chaos in the world and believe things are getting worse. It isn't getting worse, it has always been this way. The only difference between today and the times of old is television and the internet. Chaos in the world is an integral part of human existence. There's not a time in human history where chaos, confusion, war; turmoil, slavery, oppression, genocide and the whole range of violence and man's inhumanity to man didn't exist. And the most disheartening reality is that at the center of almost every human conflict is religious fervor and fundamentalism;  greed and a sinister obsession for power.

Think about it, even the "god" of scripture orders the wholesale slaughter of innocent women, children and babies. Heck, even animals were murdered. From Ancient Rome's dominance and fall to Egypt's dominance and fall; from Greece to ancient Babylon to kingdoms in Africa engaging in violent battles in an effort to control lands, our world is a place of chaos and conflict. When Jesus walked this Earth, he lived under Roman oppression. From the time of the biblical characters Abraham to Moses, to Joshua, Hezekiah;  Amos, Obadiah, Daniel;  Jesus, Paul to St. John's fantastic visions on the Island of Patmos, there existed war, violence, conflict; oppression, famine disease; greed, lust for power and Man's inhumanity to Man. There has never been peace in this world. Humanity didn't get it right Pre-Antiquity, during biblical times and we're blowing it today.

From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Hitler's rampage. Stalin's Gulag and great purge. World War I. World War II.  Japan's oppression of the Chinese. European enslavement of my African Ancestors. The genocide of Native Americans and the stealing of their land. Israel's oppression of the Palestinians. The pillage of the African Continent by Arabs under the banner of Islam. The Crusade wars. British colonialism of Africa and Australia. The genocides in Rwanda and the Congo. North Korea's flirtatious nuclear weapons bluster and the country's brutal oppression of its people. From global terrorist networks bent on destruction to kidnapped girls by brutes in Liberia to ISIS' blood thirsty rampage in Iraq, Syria and Europe to Russia's attempts to violently snatch Ukraine and rebuild the Soviet Union. To treasonous motives by Republican congressional leaders undermining President Obama in a scandalous effort to bomb Iran. From police brutality and the wholesale murder of Black men by thugs in police uniform and thugs draped in gang colors to the economic Apartheid in cities like Baltimore. On and on and on and on - CONFLICT!

How do we resolve these conflicts? I simply don't know. The unfortunate reality is human existence is fraught with these difficult challenges. And as long as religious fundamentalism, political expediency, greed; sex, money and lust for power is part of the human equation, conflict will ALWAYS exist. If the very presence of Jesus couldn't halt Rome's oppression; If the rebellions of Spartacus, Nat Turner, Toussaint Louverture
; Gasper Yanga and Joseph Cinque couldn't dissuade nations from maintaining and instituting slavery; if Dr. King's Dream couldn't eradicate bigotry and prejudice; if American Democracy - which is undergirded by its own hypocrisy - can't prevent the rise of brutes and dictators into power, CONFLICT AND CHAOS will remain.

And while I support the notion of prayer as an answer, I'm ever mindful that people have been praying for peace for thousands of years. From faithful Monks rotating in 24 hour cycles of prayer in monasteries atop huge mountain vistas to nuns fasting in convents and faithful members of churches, synagogues and mosques all over the world, people are and have been lifting their voices in prayer. Yet, the violence and chaos persists. Until the heart of humanity undergo a radical change,  conflict, war and violence will continue.

ONCE AGAIN BLACK CLERGY SUPPORTING TRUMP SHOW THEIR IGNORANCE

Demonstrations and protest are an integral part of our tradition. Although protests are most associated with the Civil Right era of the 60's , by no means is it exclusive to that movement. From the Boston Tea Party to the Woman Suffrage movement to the anti Vietnam protests to the Irish and other excluded groups labor strikes to the Civil Rights marches to the Black Power rallies and demonstrations to the current Black Lives Matter movements, our democracy has a sustaining relationship with dissent. That's why it's puzzling how black clergy supporting Donald Trump can viciously assail protesters who object to his bigotry, islamaphobia, xenophobia; sexism and scheming flirtations with white supremacists. And when these black clergy assert Donald Trump's "constitutional right" to speak, they telegraph a profound ignorance of our Constitution and basic civics.
As Americans we all have freedom of speech. Indeed, this right is embedded in our Constitution. However, when Trump and his supporters feign outrage about protected speech, they intentionally, fallaciously or perhaps ignorantly fail to articulate that this inherited protection is from the forces and power of government. So while Trump has a "right" to spew his bigotry and fan the flames of anti-immigrant fervor, protesters of all backgrounds and hue of skin - as disruptive as they might be - have a right to counter his hateful rhetoric. It's just profoundly disappointing that black clergy supporting Trump have abandoned the tradition that helped to provide their freedom.