Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Storm of 2016 Links to Assistance

The following links were obtained and provided by one Ryan Underhill. Some of these links are lists themselves, and there may be some duplication of charities or services, but he strove to be as thorough as possible, and he's adding to the list all the time. I'm not taking the time to vet it and remove duplicates; I don't have the time, and neither does he.


He nor I claim this to be a fully comprehensive list, but the best he could come up with in a pinch.
Of course, if you don't recognize a charity, be wary. Con artists come out of the woodwork when people are emotionally weakened after a disaster.


I'll try to add more to it as he updates the FB thread located here: Extensive List, Many More In The Comments


NEW - Louisiana Flood Relief - $345 of $10k goal
NEW - 2016 Louisiana Flood Relief Donations


Assistance/Relief for flood victims
If your fireplace was impacted or gas logs were impacted by the recent floods, complete the form
How to apply for help with flood damage when you don't have flood insurance
http://thehayride.com/2016/08/this-is-how-you-can-help-teachers-and-students-affected-by-flooding/
https://secure-fedweb.jewishfederations.org/page/contribute/baton-rouge-flood-relief-fund
http://www.offbeat.com/news/new-orleans-comedy-shows-collecting-supplies-flood-victims/
https://www.gofundme.com/2k269spj
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1mkp0SaIMmXbSP5eRJ2668adVTPY
http://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2016/08/louisiana_flooding_how_to_dona.html
http://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2016/08/baton_rouge_flooding_new_orlea.html
http://www.wwltv.com/news/airbnb-offering-places-to-stay-for-those-displaced-by-flooding/299095427
http://www.wwltv.com/news/donations-badly-needed-for-animal-rescues/298585397
http://unitedwayofacadiana.org/FLOOD2016
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2016/08/15/irs-offers-tax-relief-to-those-affected-by-flooding-in-louisiana/#18a3456f5e57
https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
https://fundly.com/la-renfest-cleanup-and-assistance
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008303297982
http://www.lsart.org/volunteers.pml
http://www.offbeat.com/news/burlesque-show-raise-money-louisiana-flood-relief/
http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/t-mobile-red-cross-louisiana/
http://lavoad.org/services/
http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/113839
https://www.gofundme.com/laflood-flhelp
http://volunteerlouisiana.gov/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/262933897426740/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/293716324320120/
https://www.airbnb.com/disaster/louisianaflooding?af=14383374&c=tw_ie_ahlp_cxs
http://no-hunger.org/volunteer/
https://www.gofundme.com/2jq76v8
http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/shelter-information-for-parishes-affected-by-severe-weather
https://www.facebook.com/groups/552179814970214/
http://gohsep.la.gov/Portals/0/News/PressRelease8172016_3.pdf
Flooding Protocol
Suspension of Insurance Provisions in Flood Affected Parishes
NOLA Pay It Forward Fund: Helping Families in Neighboring Parishes
https://www.gofundme.com/2k5grxrs
Did you flood? Do you want to help? Here's what you need to know
Louisiana flood: How to help schools
LSART - the Louisiana State Animal Response Team
Managing Collections After a Disaster, like stamps, comics, etc.
DCFS announces locations to apply for disaster food stamps
https://www.gofundme.com/seafoodboys
https://www.gofundme.com/2j453p7w
https://www.gofundme.com/2k9ecek
Have horse experience? Volunteers needed at Lamar Dixon shelter
How to document damage for FEMA claim
How To Help Louisiana Flood Victims
New Orleans Public Library hosts food drive for flood victims, plus more donation drop points
How to get help after flood damage in Louisiana
AMAZING DONATIONS TO MAKE RIGHT NOW
10 Things You CAN DO for Flood Victims
Helping Flood Victims in Southeast Louisiana
http://nolatreeproject.org/what-we-do/nola-tree-project-branches-disaster-recovery/
If you own your home (that is not a trailer), do NOT have flood insurance, and are in need of assistance gutting and cleaning, please fill out the following form and email it to megan@habitatbrla.org (megan@habitatbrla.org)
Companion Animal Alliance’s shelter on Progress Road
A Distress Call to every American, from every Louisianan
Disaster Recovery and Relief, Emergency Disaster Information for Louisiana Residents
State opens preregistration for disaster food stamps
PLEASE HELP THE PETS DISPLACED BY THE FLOODS!
Early Prescription Refills Available to Most Members
Good Times for a Good Cause: A List of Louisiana Flood Relief Shows
How to revive a flooded lawn
Take 5 Oil Change is still collecting new supplies and monetary donations, Aug 16-23. Check if they've extended the dates.
Southern Mutual
http://www.musicrow.com/2016/08/you-can-help-nashville-music-community-rallies-to-aid-louisiana-flooding-victims/
Office of the Governor, Resources for Flood Victims
Direct gutting and rebuilding services as well as provide technical support, capacity building and best practices to other recovery orgs
Hygienic items of all kinds, pet supplies, gift cards
Saints announce raffle to support flood relief efforts
Personal page, looking for help
Springfield Flood Relief Center
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
Governor announces plans for temporary housing
Sunday, August 28th for Rock for Relief and help us support Baton Rouge flood relief!!
Gut your sheet rock and spray to kill the mold for free
Transitional Housing vs. FEMA Housing
Chase donates $200k to flood efforts, waives fees through August
Little Pnuts & Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe collecting toys, games, books and other childrens items for Louisiana flood victims.
DOTD establishes temporary bus service to Baton Rouge
How to rescue a garden after flooding and excessive rain
SCAM WARNING FROM FEMA, regarding "mold free certificates".
http://thecajunarmy.com/
Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans
Damage assessment and recovery from flooding.
Austin companies pitching in to help Louisiana flood victims
Rescued cats housed in Jefferson Parish need homes
Realty Point Opens Its Doors To Donations In Response To LA Flooding
Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr.
Resource page for our nonprofit organizations
How to Help: Volunteering, make donations, debris removal
Flood Relief Resources Available for La. Cultural Institutions and Artists
How to help Louisiana flood victims
Helpful Answers to Flood Related Questions
Dependable In Home Care
Baton Rouge Disaster Relief
If you need help cleaning up your home, call this number. ‪#‎laflood



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Patriot's Act

In a recent Libertarian party convention in Orlando, Florida, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson received the nod from his party, the Libertarian Party, to be the acknowledged Libertarian candidate for President.

To most Americans, this would not only be of no interest whatsoever, it would also serve to render them incensed: How dare this upstart split the vote between their beloved and antiquated two-party system of government!

I believe at this point you may begin to sense there's a motive behind this.


Don't look at me like that; you should know better by now.

At any rate, in my opinion (FWIW), America NEEDS a third-party. In fact, even more than that, America needs a complete overhaul to this electoral college system we have going on. It's antiquated. It's outdated. It allows those in power and also powerful interest groups to control and direct the outcome of elections; if you doubt this, look at the elections in the past 35-40 years...there's been more than one instance of a candidate winning the popular vote (the votes of citizens like me and you) but LOSING because the electoral college number didn't go their way. Oh, sure, let's allow a small group to be in control of electing candidates...it can't be easier to control that than a few hundred million people...!

Oh, wait.

Anyway, if you paid attention in Civics/Social Studies in school, then you may remember that when the existing electoral system was set up, the United States was shaped very differently, and the population was much smaller as well...on the order of 37 fewer states, and roughly 326,000,000 fewer people. Yeah, that's right...it's been around since virtually the beginning. 

Ok, I get it...as an idea, it's not a BAD one. In fact, the idea has merit. However, the situation now isn't the same as it was then; with the advent of the Internet, Facebook, and YouTube, it is actually now possible for a marginal candidate from the middle of nowhere to gain national attention and visibility...if you doubt me, look up Vermin Supreme

The college was set up for a small nation, of very few people, with limited communication abilities, and a NO PARTY system. Go ahead...read the article at the link I shared up above. In fact, here, I'll share it again to make it easier for you. I'll wait.


Read it? Ok, good; we're on the same page then.

Now, the idea remains good, granted...but can you see that working AS INTENDED in today's political environment?

The applecart needs to be upset. Government has grown at a cancerous rate, and the comparison to cancer is apt in more ways than one. Government "by the people, for the people" has morphed via mission creep to "of the people"...period. The "War on Drugs" beget the "War on Terror", and the "War on <BLANK>" mentality beget:

The DEA

The NDAA

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Police Militarization

The government is, again in my opinion, out of control. It's too big. It's too entrenched; look at this: 


Can you believe that shit? Jefferson said

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."

Some of those Congressional members have been in office nearly TWICE as long as Jefferson's "twenty years"; royalty hold power that long...elected officials should NOT. 

We need changes. Big ones. The incumbents need to go. The election process needs revamping. The two party system needs to be shaken up by either killing off one or both, or adding in a third. We need new blood. We need less control over civilian life and more focus on infrastructure. Instead of perpetuating a cycle of tax and seize to pay for "Wars", STOP WAGING THEM! America Has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years – Since 1776! The government is talking about housing, educating, and feeding refugees and illegal immigrants, while thousands of United States veterans OF THOSE WARS are homeless, given substandard care by the VA, and commit suicide up to TWENTY-TWO A DAY according to a VA analysis from 21 states.

We don't need more laws; laws only serve to make people criminals in order to fund the controlling authorities or the private corporations running the prisons.

Now, I've given several starting links and reasons for my distaste of the current governmental system and the incumbents. I've linked my choice for the coming election, Mr. Gary Johnson. Is he perfect? Hardly. He's human...and a politician. That being said, he's not the lesser of a field of evils; look at his track record in New Mexico as governor. He did GOOD. America, we NEED to change things. Remember, the "Chief Executive" started out as JUST THAT...an "Executive" over the "Executive" branch; the top admin charged with running the government to keep the metaphorical trains on time and things running...NOT the "Leader" of the people, or the boss of them. He's the boss of the GOVERNMENTAL BUREAUCRACY, and ANSWERABLE to the people, not the other way around.

Let's elect an executive that will remember that for a change.

Start by voting. Get involved in local politics if you can or are able. Make your voice heard. If you look at voting statistics, it's not majority rule...it's rule by the majority that got off their ass and voted and spoke out...and they're a MINORITY of the country as a whole. CHANGE THAT. SPEAK UP. Stand up for your rights...KNOW your rights! Educate yourself. Educate your children.

Abandon the tired Democratic and Republican rhetoric. It's time the American public got off their apathetic and lazy asses and reminded those in Washington who is supposed to REALLY be in charge.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Politics, Freedom, and You

Recently, a young woman named Kathryn Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant, who also happens to be a convicted felon, with an illegally obtained handgun in one of the so called "sanctuary cities" (San Francisco), in a state with gun laws so draconian it's on par with Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Also recently, nine people were shot to death in Charleston, SC by someone who claimed they wanted to start a "race war".

Two days ago, Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and past Speaker of the House made a statement to the press regarding the need for more stringent gun control, especially background checks.

More and more, day after day, we see more insanity come from our elected officials, more attempts at control. Let's look at some of the pieces here, shall we...?


  1. Kathryn Steinle's killer is a convicted felon...not someone that is apparently fond of following laws to start with.
  2. The weapon used to kill her was obtained illegally, meaning gun laws FAILED to keep the murderer from getting it.
  3. Steinle's murder happened in San Francisco, California, a "Sanctuary City" in the only state I know of that is on par for draconian gun laws with New York state...and a city designated to make the illegal immigrant murderer safe from Federal laws that would allow deportation...speaking of which...
  4. The murderer is an ILLEGAL immigrant...I dunno, perhaps keeping him from being here might've worked too, y'think?  He was deported five times.  Yeah, you read that right...FIVE TIMES.
  5. Pelosi doesn't focus on perpetrators.  She focuses on the GUN.  To quote from her press release on July 8 (linked above):  "Last month, as we know, we witnessed an act of brazen racial terrorism in Charleston – nine lives taken by a gun."  "Taken by a gun"....not by a demented race-hater using a gun, taken by a gun.  She pushes for background check legislation...does anyone not actually use their goddamned brain?  The murderer in Charleston LEGALLY owned that weapon...a background check failed in the face of willful, murderous intent.  Kathryn Steinle's murderer ILLEGALLY owned his weapon...no background check done due to full bypass of the system.

So, what's the play?  The Narrative would have you believe our elected officials are working on our behalf; if so, they're failing miserably.  This kind of thinking exhibited by Pelosi indicates either gross nonfeasance, gross stupidity, or malignant malfeasance...it's certainly not effective, nor has it been helpful.

More laws...laws laws laws laws laws.  Why would elected officials push for MORE laws when they:
A.  Don't enforce the ones we already have.
B.  Can't agree at state and federal levels on how to interpret the existing laws.
C.  Can't agree on what should and shouldn't be illegal, either.

It's enough to make some people untrusting.  It's enough to make some people just want to get away from it, go off the grid, get away from the insanity of political correctness, social justice judgement, and oppressive society...and if they do, the government calls them "domestic terrorists".

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

The two biggest failures for our nation were started by The War on Drugs and The War on Terrorism.  Each is a noble idea, certainly...but the overreach and abuse of the system that resulted from them is staggering.  From spying on citizens, militarizing local police forces, "no knock" raids for drugs or serving warrants to appear in court, to life sentences for simple possession, impugnment of the exercise of civil rights both negative and positive, and civil forfeiture, the loss of quality of life due to governmental interference is growing more staggering every day.   People today are not aware of how intrusive our government has wormed into our daily lives; they live from blurb to soundbite, headline to Facebook status update, and hardly ever fact check, research, or educate themselves.  Americans are seen world-round as fat, dumb, and happy, and lately, "happy" has fallen off the apple cart.

Everyone is perpetually offended and eternally incensed.  I could easily imagine the other peoples of the world sitting back with popcorn, fascinated and entertained by the sheer inanity of our nation's antics, but no...no, instead they're waiting for us to fall apart or tear each other down from the inside, and will probably swoop in to pick up whatever pieces remain.  The world does not like us.  America has NOT been at war for roughly 20 years of our total existence as a nation...222 years out of 239.  It's bad enough we're the bully on the block for much of the world, but it only takes a few minutes of casual research to see that the government is just as much a bully to US as well.

Ok, sure, a lot of good gets done by Americans, too.  Some of the biggest relief and aid organizations started here.  That's failing due to narcissism and a culture obsessed with celebrities and selfies.  Medicine and healthcare were at one time hallmarks of American society...no more.  According to a 2000 poll by the World Health Organization, America lags behind 36 other countries.  A recent Forbes article has us dead last out of the top countries in the world.

A common rallying cry is, "But we've got freedom!  Americans are free!"

Hm.

  • Economic freedom?  12th place
  • Political freedom and civil liberties?  Oooh...not so good.  47th place.
  • Freedom of speech?  Ok, better....Fourth Place!
  • Religious freedom...ok, I can't find a scale, because the government doesn't really get into this--NOR SHOULD IT--but most religious persecution comes from citizens claiming the freedom of others to worship or believe as they wish somehow, SOMEHOW, affects them.  No, really.  Yeah, I don't get that either.

An article from 2012 summarizes much of this very well, and gives 10 reasons we're not as free as we used to be.

So, what to do.


  • Educate yourself.  God only knows the schools are agenda mills these days, what with Common Core, liberal professors, and Social Justice reform.  You're going to have to do it yourself.
  • Once you're educated, VOTE.  Get those teat-sucking pork-barrel sycophants out of office.
  • KNOW. YOUR. RIGHTS.  See "Educate yourself" up above.
  • Spread the knowledge; Darwinism is fine in principle, but when it comes to our survival as a nation, I'm unwilling to trust all to natural selection.  Homo Sapiens have brains and opposable thumbs--a truly staggering advantage over the rest of the world's species--but sadly only use a fraction of it, and that most often narcissistically.


Lastly, have some faith.  No, not religion....FAITH.  Most of humanity is like that saying regarding arguing with stupid people: Don't.  They'll wear you down to their level and then beat you with experience.  Sure, some will take this to extremes (see above about stupid), but really, it can all be summed up with two phrases: Love God with all you have.  LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

That's it.  I challenge you to present a natural or legal right of the individual that isn't covered by that.

Why is treating others decently so damned hard, people?

I know, I know...wake up, right?

Yeah.  WAKE UP, people!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tattoos, Punctuation, and You

I'm considering getting a new tattoo.

I'm not the type to get ink just because I want ink, though.  I generally want it to have some meaning.  The dragon on my right foot had more meaning 24 years ago when I got it, and not so much today.



The entwined bass clef and treble clef on my left shoulder still has meaning, because music is still very much a part of my life.



The right shoulder is more a bit of a personalized statement and a subtle affiliation marker.



But, it's time to get a new one.

A very close family member has dealt with depression for most of their life.  As part of my family, that's taken a toll on not just them, but on me and the rest of the family as well, but we've endured.  Sometimes, we just took a step back, took a deep breath, and pressed on.

Yesterday, someone posted a link on Facebook that nicely summarized this idea that has kept us all going in a very unique way, or at least I believe it so.

It's called the Semicolon Project, and I heard about it from the blog of a young woman at hpwritesblogs.

It tells the story of depression and how it has affected her life, and how she has learned to cope, deal, and live with it, because it doesn't just "go away"; rather, it's a relentless engine that never quits...but it can be paused.  It's become, for her, her normal way of living.

Now, "normal" is a societal construct that is, ultimately, meaningless. "Normal" is the roughly 90% of humanity between the (again, roughly) 5% endcaps of aberrancy that prevent someone from safely functioning in society...and by that I mean the clinically insane, violent psychotics, serial-killing sociopaths, etc., the ones you can't cure but only lock up for their and everyone else's safety.

Depression isn't as "abnormal" as society likes to stigmatize it; MANY struggle with it to a greater or lesser degree. I don't mean a passing "blue mood", but a real invisible illness that can utterly control and destroy your life. Doubtful? Most people wouldn't know what a CPU is or have even seen one...but many know there's one in their computer. It's the "brain" of the computer. If it has a problem, NOTHING works right, even the physical parts.

That's depression, folks.

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it can't break someone down and destroy them, and even those around them when they fall apart.

But it's treatable. Don't dismiss odd signs, or cries for help. "Oh, he seemed so happy!" But after, there's always signs that people ignored, dismissed, or simply didn't recognize for what they were.

Support. Avoid platitudes like, "Oh, it'll be fine", "Just get over it", "it'll pass", or any other such. They. Don't. Help. In fact, don't you think they've TRIED to just get past it?

LISTEN. Absorb what they're saying; you may not be able or trained to fix anything, but you can be there for them to lean on, be a shoulder, be a FRIEND. Don't judge or condemn; if ever "walking a mile in someone's shoes" applied, this is certainly it. If they don't have the strength, lend them yours. It's hard enough living in today's world without adding in something like depression; don't make it harder on someone with it.

Help them take that little "pause", and BE that little "pause" if need be.

I'm going to look into getting one, to remind me to take the pauses I need to continue being supportive for those that need support, and to remind me that sometimes others need that pause too.  If someone is suffering from depression and never speaks to me, if they know of this project and see it it might just be the pause to let them know they're not alone, to take a deep breath, to take a step back, and when ready to press on with the rest of their life.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BEAUTIFUL

Sorry it's been a while.  
Anyway, in a departure from my usual fare, which often veers off into bitching and moaning about how far afield I am from modern Christianity and my woes, trials, and tribulations...in short, the incipient lack of a spine I had eight months ago...I'm going to touch on a subject that's come up a few times in the last week.

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase, "The beauty of a pun is in the oy of the beholder."

No, wait, not that one.  That's Spider Robinson's quote. 



 No, this phrase:

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

We all find different things beautiful for different reasons and in different ways, basically.  This isn't just a static condition, either; it changes over time and life experience.  For the longest time, my brother was holding out hope of finding a 4'10" Japanese gymnast with red hair and D-cups; now, years later, he has moved on to "not bony or gelatinous, and not crazy."

The media and Hollywood give us images of tall, rail-thin, boyish-framed females as an "ideal"; history of the last 50 years shows that Twiggy is alive and well in today's models, even if they have to kill themselves to do it, in some cases resorting to drugs, starvation, and brutal exercise to maintain the "ideal" body weight and shape.  And if the model can't fit that, or just doesn't, they'll resort to lighting, camera angles, or just plain Photoshop the fuck out of the pictures.  Check this out:

Why bother with makeup, hairdressing, plastic surgery, and blemishes when you can just take a model CLOSE to what you want and completely redo her in Photoshop?

Anyway, this video also illustrates how the "ideal" is put out there:  If you're not skinny with unnaturally flawless features, disproportionate measurements achievable only by surgery, and the right skin tone du jour, you're not "beautiful".  Teens and adults diet and drug themselves to death, assuming they can't also afford to nip/tuck themselves into caricatures of a human right along with it. 

I've done my best to instill in my kids that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about their looks or their bodies; they'll never be happy if THEY are not happy with how they are, and fuck the world to tell 'em different.



The most important aspect of the "Eye of the beholder" quote is that we're our harshest critics when we look in the mirrors or at ourselves in any other way..."Beholder" encompasses us as well.

The fashion and beauty industries worship symmetry.  What this is teaching our children is that superficial and fake is king; it's teaching them that if they're not perfect they're without value or beauty and are unlovable.  It's teaching them that the opinions of others regarding themselves matter, even to their own detriment.  I'm not saying that we should discard the opinions of others out of hand; there are some people that occasionally have good ideas.

Occasionally.

Sorry, my inner INTJ got loose there for a second.

Anyway, the point is to test the opinion with critical thinking:  Is this position of theirs regarding my body and appearance healthy? Is it even FEASIBLE?  Is it what I want?  Do they have my best interests at heart?

That last one is a BIG one, and the crux of the "beauty" industry; they want to sell you stuff, and they'll misrepresent, mislead, and misdirect you every chance they can if it means a buck.

Now, the flip side to how we see ourselves is how we see others, going back to the "eye of the beholder" thing.

Hey.  I'm a guy.  I check out women.  I think they're beautiful, and I like looking at them.



Personally, I take each woman as an individual; one woman might have appealing legs, or mesmerizing eyes, or a sharp wit, or aesthetically shaped breasts or bum, or completely average looks with a quick wit, humor, and mind.  Every woman is different and more than the sum of her parts.  You'll also note I didn't put boundaries or define my criteria:  I said "appealing", "mesmerizing", and "aesthetically shaped".  These are things that matter to me, subjectively, and can vary and change between each person; one woman's green eyes might look much better in her face than green eyes in another person.  A woman might appeal to me in every way physically, and as soon as she opens her mouth and speaks I lose interest; a woman might be plain and unremarkable, but possess an utterly captivating mind capable of engaging me in conversations for hours and hours.  

There's no one thing, there's no specific group of things...rather, it's an aggregation of several things, a totality, and it varies person to person.  Also, none of this predicates a judgment of something being wrong with them...just not a preference or appealing in this subjective instance to me.  We have to try and see past the facades we construct for ourselves.

Be comfortable in your own skin.  Love people for things that matter, not just some arbitrary criteria like weight, hair color, or BMI...

And that includes yourself.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The Walking Dead

A zombie is a creature that is neither alive nor fully dead, capable of locomotion but devoid of any feeling, emotion, care, or reason, existing with only one primal desire:  Hunger.



Yeah, I know, they're not real.  They're a pop culture myth with roots going back centuries, and very popular these days, but still...not real.  But go along with this as a concept anyway, hm?

People often call them evil; they are certainly not part of any natural order, but evil?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Evil is many things, the easiest and most cowardly philosophically defined as that which is not "good".  But without the ability to reason and to choose any other nature, can they be called evil?  If you call them "evil", then sharks are evil; they are devoid of feeling, emotion, care, or reason, and exist solely as a predator, driven by nothing else than a desire to survive and feed...hunger, if you will.

I give this description because I'm going to make a comparison here that's going to be, depending on your belief or faith, or lack thereof, either entertaining or offensive.

I didn't intend for this blog to turn into one that focused solely on religion and the Christian faith, but with life events that have occurred over the last seven months, it HAS kind of turned out that way.  The incidents, and ideas, have weighed heavily on my mind and heart/soul.  It's been a test of faith for me, unlike any that have happened before, even when I struggled with the very idea that Jesus was the Son of God.

This isn't going to focus on that, though I am willing to discuss it with anyone that wishes.  I still call myself a Christian.  I believe Jesus was who He said He was: To quote C.S. Lewis, He was either Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.  A liar could not do the documented miracles He did, nor would a fiend.  A lunatic could not do them either.

That doesn't leave any other legitimate options.

Now, I find myself questioning more than I ever did when I wasn't a Christian; "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling", indeed.

Because of this journey, which hasn't been easy AT ALL, I find myself disillusioned by the Christian church as a whole.  "The Church" as an entity is made up of fallible and flawed people, of which I am one.  I make no claims to perfection.  I make no claim to being "good" or especially "Christ-like" in much I say or do.

What I DO say and do is the best I can do.  I do my best.  I try.  I've accepted Jesus as Savior, and even Lord, though lately it's been more akin to a feudal relationship than the Biblical example of a marriage relationship.  He is Lord, yes, but I cannot relate to Him.  I believe that ascribing human traits to Him, even though He lived among us, is not only futile but foolish; if I hold to my belief that He is God, then how can my limited understanding comprehend Him as God?  Much of what we know of Him and believe is through the Bible; the church today is built around precepts He taught and said, based on historical record, and by the teachings and letters of those followers that lead the new Christian faith after His ascension.

This is where things start unraveling for me.

First, Christians believe the Bible is the Divinely inspired Word of God.  I used to believe this as well, but over time and living, prayer and living, living and living, I've run into some snags.  Which version is the Divine inspired Word?  They can't all be; there are contradictions!  Concepts are redefined as newer translations come out, clarifying points and spots; in many ways, this has made some things more clear, but there are still some that are not quite there.  What about those?

The overall compilation (yes, compilation) is a collection of stories, histories, and ideas that have been around for thousands of years.  It is ethnocentric, focused on the Jews as the Chosen People of God, then broadening in the B'rit Hadashah, the New Testament, to include all peoples that believe and accept Jesus, as Paul taught.  The ethnocentrism subtly shifted to the Chosen People now being anyone that accepts Him through belief.  But all of the original authors that are included with VERY few exception were Jews, raised in a patriarchal culture that subjugated women, kept slaves, WERE slaves, and oppressed at every turn.  No one ever questions the unavoidable bias this MUST include.

Why not?

Christians typically view the Bible as LAW, Rule #1 if you will, even when told that it should not be a hard and unyielding law.  They live with the zealot's belief that no other possible avenue could be true; if in doubt, see Rule #1.  "God (the Bible) said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" is a comment I've heard so many times in life.  At one point even I believed that, though I amended it further to be, "God (the Bible) said it, and that settles it."  My belief didn't enter into the equation; after all, if He said it and it was fact, my belief was secondary.

The issue with such unwavering conviction is that if you accept the Bible as Divinely inspired Word, then it must ALL be accepted, not just certain parts.  Christians today use the famed "clobber scriptures" to call down proverbial fire on homosexuals, all the while ignoring the parts that are inconvenient, writing them off as not relevant because the laws have changed:  Slaves, anyone?  Kill all the unbelievers, man, woman, child, and burn their places to the ground?  "Oh, that's Old Testament!"  Ok, let's look at the New then.

The New Testament addresses treatment of slaves, though modern translations have softened that to "servants".  The New Testament says that unless you're a born Jew, and thus a goyim (Gentile) you are only bound to not eat food offered to idols, eating blood, eating something strangled, and sexual immorality.

How very odd!

Ok, the first three are really easy...much of that was culturally based anyhow; food isn't really offered to idols anymore, I'm not fond of eating blood anyway, and what meat is strangled when killed today?  That leaves sexual immorality...some define this as fornication, most leave it as the all inclusive original.

But what IS sexual immorality?  Topless beaches are normal in France.  Here, you'd be arrested and called a sinner for it.  Baptists say dancing leads to sexual immorality, as does alcohol.  Pentecostals believe it's immoral to cut your hair, wear slacks, and wear makeup if you're female.  Even more telling, if you go by what the Bible says is immoral, you'd end up with a society nearly like radical Islam at the worst extreme, but repressive at best.  It's illegal to have more than one wife in most places, and illegal and/or immoral to have sexual relations outside of that single bond...yet most Christians gloss over the multiple wives and concubines many Jewish men had.

Ok, true, but then doesn't that mean the Bible might be wrong?  "Oh, that was then!  That's not acceptable today." So, some things acceptable then aren't today, and some that weren't, are?  Who decides, if the Bible is the infallible Word of God?

Where am I going with all of this?  And didn't this start with zombies?



Well, yeah.  Ok, here goes...

Most Christians follow the Bible without question; it's the Word of God.  They take any message pumped out from a pulpit, accept it, and never question, trusting the Holy Spirit to ensure the message they receive is from God.  After all, even if it SOUNDS flawed like some Biblical contradictions, the Spirit will make sure it turns out ok.  (Actually, I do believe that to a point...I just don't accept that an all knowing, all seeing God would allow His Divine Word to be so haphazard...since I believe in the infallibility of God, then the haphazard Bible isn't His Divine Word. His Spirit can still use it...God uses cracked pots!  But calling something perfect and divine when it's not denigrates the very all powerful God you claim to worship, as He would not, indeed COULD NOT allow shoddy work to reflect Him.  As the old saying goes, you can't get pure water from polluted sources.  To which the religious zealot then claims the miraculous, and you're just wasting time at that point...you can't convince a fanatic.)

Since they do not question, they follow it to the letter.  Gays are going to hell, masturbation is a sin, drinking is a sin, etc....no compromise.  Very little, if any, reason or logic.

In short, Christians, AS MOST TODAY LIVE, are little more than Walking Dead...zombies.

There's no thought, or at least very little independent thought.  If you aren't like them, they shun you, ignoring you.  Their only focus is their walk with God, much like a zombie ignores other zombies in their pursuit of flesh.  Their hunger for a deeper walk with Jesus often blinds them to the poor, hurting, hungry, scarred, injured, etc at their feet, stepping on them, unseeing.  The typical Church person means well, they really do...but the religion, the rules, the law has leeched all life from their actions (not all...some, like the church I left, actually do a good job for the right reasons).  Even the good they do many times is tarnished because they do it for the wrong reasons; most Christians do good works for reward in Heaven, not for salvation.  

Poor, blind Pharisees.

It's not the work that garners reward.  It's the giving heart, the love, the LIFE from faith and trust in Jesus that allows the same good works to be done, but for the right reasons.  The precious few do works because it's the Life in them that leads them to do good, and the reward they may get in the afterlife is because of the condition of their heart, not the works done for misguided selfishness.

The Bible, THEIR OWN BIBLE, calls those "Dead Works", and spells out the issues with doing works for all the wrong reasons, or having an impetus from the wrong source.

Dead works from dead hearts and dead minds; it's not for no reason I say the Christian Majority might as well be zombies...they're Walking Dead.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Cult of Personality


One of the things that I try to pride myself on, in the sense of dedication to pursuit as opposed to hubris, is critical thinking.

To many people, critical thinking is a mindset by which you are always critical of things and others to the point of being harsh, or always finding fault; this is akin to shooting someone with a gun and then blaming the weapon for the death...which, ironically, happens all too much.



But I digress...

And a caveat:  I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus as Savior.  I still also believe what I'm about to say, too.

To quote the rather extensive article on "Critical Thinking" at Wikipedia:
"Critical thinking is a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false."

In other words, when you apply critical thinking to <blank>, you're evaluating <blank> to ascertain at the most fundamental level whether or not said <blank> is "True/False, Right/Wrong, Just/Unjust".  Additionally, whether or not those things apply to YOU and your acceptance (or lack thereof) of the same.

More so, it also infers being able to apply logic, reason, and sense, removing emotionalism from the decision-making process as it applies as an external or internal influence, distilling the process to its most basic foundation.

Bear with me; I'm going somewhere with this.



No, really.

You see, I've been struggling with some uncomfortable ideas and their effect on us as a society, not the least of which is civil rights for gay couples, love/sex/relationships and how they affect me and those around me, etc.  It's led me to go back to my Strong's Concordance, various translations of Scripture, and then to look at society around me; from there, I've begun to have a rather sneaking suspicion that much of what is taught today as scriptural canon often isn't...or is, depending which version of the Bible you use, or which religion you are, or which teacher you have, or...



You get the picture.

In all of this introspection and ancillary critical thinking, a rather disturbing notion arose...consider the two definitions below:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion?s=t

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult?s=t

I find it disturbing that the definition of a cult, an organization or group that is often derided and scoffed at is at face value very, VERY similar to that of religion, which is often venerated and revered.  Most Christians don't like to be reminded that the Christian faith/religion was considered a cult by their Roman overlords of the past.

So how does this apply today?  Much good has been done in the name of Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach...and much evil has been done in the name of Christendom as well.


When does a cult become an accepted religion?  Or worse, when does an accepted religion devolve into a cult?

"Why...what are your thoughts on this?"

I'm so glad you asked.

Short answer: I don't know.  While comfortably well above the average in intellect and education, I'm not so arrogant or foolish to believe I have all of the answers, but I have some beginning thoughts I'll share.  

A cult, in my thinking, is in line with the definition, but is set apart from a religion in that it's not a framework for defining the cause, nature, or purpose of the universe or sentients.  That seems to be a key difference, at least philosophically.  But from a practical perspective, the devolution of a religion to a cult seems to be at the point where the established teachings diverge from those of the founder/foundation, regardless of the scope or grandiosity of the vision.

And if that doesn't cause you to go, "Whoa, wait, hold on a second!" then you're not paying close enough attention to teachings from and about the Bible.

"If it ain't in red, it ain't what He said!"
"I only follow the New Testament; after all, Jesus put an end to the Old Testament law."
"You have to follow ALL of the Scriptures!"
"Only the King James Bible is the True Word of God."

Etc, ad nauseum...

Today much of what's taught boils down to a cult of personality, where the charisma of the teacher lends importance and gravitas to the teaching more than the substance or impact of the inherent TRUTH behind it...if any.  How, exactly, did "Love your neighbor as yourself" get turned into "Love your neighbor as yourself unless they're gay/black/white/Muslim/etc"?  Oh, sure, they still preach the "Love your neighbor as yourself" from the pulpit...so why do so many Christians end up applying filters and conditions?  

I've been told by people in churches that I was wrong for not wearing better clothes to church; some have even gone as far as to tell me I was in sin!  

CLASSIC lack of critical thinking there.  Bear with me...I know many of you, especially the atheists will cry "Foul" because you're going to say I should first apply critical thinking to the fact I believe in God and Jesus as Savior; I know, it even appears hypocritical.  Here's what I have to say about that...

"Thbbft!"
First, "God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE".  Second, Jesus died for ALL sins, for EVERY person, for ALL time.  He sacrificed Himself for me when I was the most repugnant to Him from a sin perspective...so do you REALLY think He cares what I wear to church?

"Oh, but you should wear better clothes out of respect for what He did!"

Oh, right, because outward appearance is such a great measure of the contents of a person's soul and heart...or didn't you read the Scriptures where Jesus condemned those who focus on outward appearances and have souls and hearts rotten as a corpse?  Wouldn't it be a GREATER show of respect to have a clear conscience and heart, to love others in spite of their flaws and faults, just like He did for us?  To not judge someone because of how they're dressed, or how they smell, or...going out on a limb here...who they love?

Yet, people do these things All. Damn. Day. Long.  They have entire campaigns built around them.  They found churches based on differences in Scripture, then foist these beliefs on others as (pun intended) the Gospel Truth...and it's really just their personal belief.

Like Brother Dave Gardner once said in one of his classic rambles, when a character was asked if everyone should do something, and he answered an emphatic "YES!", paraphrased, "That's the root of fanaticism."

This sounds a lot like many religions and denominational offshoots, including the myriad versions of Christianity today.

Or a cult.