Thursday, December 08, 2005

Did Prophets Exist Only in Bible Times?

Have you heard people speak against one religion or another because of claims of living prophets? Some of these folks misread the Bible to support their preconceived notions. Some blindly follow “tradition.” Or maybe it's just plain old prejudice.

One argument I recently heard is definitely of the circular reasoning variety. The claim is that the Bible itself claims there can be no prophets beyond those in the Bible. When she was asked to provide chapter and verse to support this claim she didn’t want to – or couldn’t. But let’s look at the circular reasoning part of this claim.

The Bible itself, especially the Old Testament, is comprised of many “books” generated, in part, by many prophets. As prophecies were revealed to these prophets, these prophecies or mini “books” were transcribed so that others could benefit by the word of God. The prophets were charged with the responsibility of conveying His word to the people. There was no Bible, as we know it today, yet in existence during those days. Many other parts of the Bible were written after these initial prophets wrote their prophecies. In fact, all of the books and letters of the New Testament were written many decades before various committees agreed on what books and letters would even comprise the Bible in the 2nd and 3rd centuries after Christ.

As prophets conveyed prophecy, the words of God transmitted by the prophets were written down. These writings eventually made their way to become agreed upon Scripture, or in the case of the “closed canon”, the Bible. If the Bible did not yet exist during the time of creation of prophecy, how could “the Bible” say what should and should not be considered prophecy? This makes no sense!

Again, prophecy is the revealed word of God conveyed to and through man. Such men were known as prophets because the word of God came through them. Their collective writings, when acknowledged by groups of learned people, hopefully Godly and spiritually discerning, would eventually be confirmed and declared to be Gods word and eventually compiled in a book of Scripture.

Who would ever dare declare that God shall no longer be permitted to convey His wisdom to men through prophets?

Here are several specific, though misleading arguments against continuing prophecy:

“Jesus was the fulfillment of all prophecy.” Fact: John wrote the Book of Revelation 30 +/- years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The book of Revelation is THE major book of prophecy in the New Testament, if not in the entire Bible. Was John a false prophet? I don’t think so.

“Prophecy ended with the apostles.” Fact: Then why do the following scriptures say what they say?

o In Matthew 23:34, Christ said:
"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.... "

o The same is repeated in Luke 11:49. Not only would Christ send prophets, but He would expect His followers to receive His prophets as His messengers (Matthew 10:40-41):
"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward." (See also John 13:20 and John 15:20.)

o Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 3:1-6 confirm that the early Church had apostles and prophets and that they taught sacred truths to the early Christians. Paul further explains the importance of apostles and prophets in the Church in Ephesians 4:11-14:
"11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive...."

“The Bible is the final and ultimate word of God. Revelation, the last book in the Bible says so.” Fact: Chapter 22, verses 18 and 19[1] of the Book of Revelation are grossly misapplied. First, the Book of Revelation is not universally agreed upon as being the last book of the Bible written, even though it is the last one in the compiled canon of Scripture. Other books of the Bible may have been written, or “added to” the books of what later became the Bible[2]. Second, these verses pertain to John’s prophecy only, his revelation as contained within the Book of Revelation. It did not pertain to the Bible. The Bible, the closed canon of Scripture, did not even yet exist at the time of his writing Revelation[3]. The Jews tried to discredit the letters of the New Testament in the same way. They believed that God’s truth ended with the law and the prophets and that any new scripture was blasphemous. Those who deny current prophets are making the same mistake.

The closed canon of Scripture that we call the Bible is not God’s final written communication to His people. The Bible does not claim that revelation has ceased or that prophets will no longer reveal the word of God to His people.

People hate change. And they hate authority. Claiming that God will no longer provide new revelation through prophets is a way to avoid change and authority. It is our misdirected attempt to maintain the status quo because neither change nor authority is comfortable. Worse, we might receive real time confirmation of what God wants us to do. That would hit too close to home. We might even feel compelled to obey! Darn.

In fact, God’s written communication with His people continues today through His prophets, just as they have for thousands of years. Anyone who denies that God needs to and in fact does give us counsel, admonition, and encouragement as much today as He did two or three thousand years ago is misunderstanding both current conditions and the character, nature, and power of God.

[1] Revelation 22:18-19: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written n this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

[2] Among the several books of the New Testament Bible scholars believe could have been written after the Book of Revelation (81-96; as early as 60’s) include 1st (90 to 96) and 2nd (100 to 120; as early as 64) Peter, James (50-200; as early as 45), Timothy (60 to 100), and Titus (60-100).

[3] The first “canon” was the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in (A.D. 170). The Muratorian Canon included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. In A.D. 363, the Council of Laodicea stated that only the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament were to be read in the churches. The Council of Hippo (A.D. 393) and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) also affirmed the same 27 books as authoritative.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting by on the cheap…low cost labor, part II

Our nation thrives on the low cost labor enabled by the deliberate national policy of allowing legal and illegal aliens to cross our borders at will. What are the consequences of this low cost labor? We know the apparent benefits, which can be boiled down to these:

  • Lower cost goods and services
  • We “natives” don’t have to do the “dirty” jobs
  • We compete better in international markets
  • We improve our standard of living

There may be others. But this is the essence. But again, what are the consequences?

I believe they are subtle, many, and of greater significance than we currently understand or admit. And several of the above-listed “benefits” may not be as beneficial as we think they are.

For the purpose of this discussion, I will call the wages paid to aliens (mostly illegals) “sub-American wages”, because they are lower wages than most US citizens would work for.

Sub-American wages result in:

  • A deficit of US citizens who will work for the wages offered
  • The need to attract masses of people from other countries and cultures who have no intention of being assimilated
  • Loose or ignored immigration laws; a national policy of looking the other way
  • A mockery of the solid concept of the US being “a nation of laws”
  • A mockery of the pride of our forefathers (my grandparents) who were proud to abide by whatever laws necessary to enter this land as their permanent home
  • A growing number of disenfranchised underclass
  • Inability to afford housing without socialized housing programs in most urbanized areas
  • Unabated, unmonitored threat to our national security
  • Tremendous, yet uncalculated cost to our social services system overburdening the diligent citizen tax payer

Low wages, like easy credit, is another means of using future resources for instant national gratification. The laborer is not being paid what the job is worth. The labor market is being distorted. There will be future consequences.

There are huge and grossly unfair situations created in our economic system by allowing and relying on the illegals, the non-citizen, and the never-intend-to-be citizen to undercut the diligent citizen's wages. This national calamity can be compared to a local scenario where road side stands are allowed to be set up willy-nilly, without parking, without permits, without licenses, providing extremely unfair competition to established businesses who built their buildings, provided their parking, paid for their permits, and earned their licenses. The so-called “free market” is grossly distorted by our immigration and unfair low wage practices.

Looking a decade or two into our future, it becomes apparent that even the four areas of perceived benefit listed above will be short-lived. We will have lower cost goods and services, the “natives” won’t have to do the “dirty” jobs, we will compete better in international markets, and we will improve our standard of living with these low wages enabled by our misguided immigration policies for only a limited time.

Our nation’s indulgence in getting something for next to nothing will have a price we have not yet fathomed. The price will include our national security, our culture, our limited government, and our sense of independence and dignity.

France may be two or three decades ahead of us down this road – the consequences in that nation are quite clear. They’ve created a dual and opposing culture because of their lust for cheap labor, their aversion to paying the needed wages to attract their own employees, and the lack of desire of their native population to get their hands dirty doing the “lesser” jobs. National self-indulgence and giving little heed to the long term consequences of these current indulgences: This is the bane of France and much of western Europe, and the United States is not far behind.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Results of Indulging in Low Cost Labor

In the news Saturday night:

"The number of cars torched overnight in France climbed slightly over the previous night to 502 in a 16th night of unrest..."

Wow! Only 502! And after curfews and thousands of police on the street. Is this the "new" normal or the "old" normal in France?

I would say that the "natives are restless". But then these folks, while most are "citizens" in the technical legal sense, the word "native" does not apply. Most of the the Islamist punks do not consider themsleves "French", have chosen to isolate themselves from the French culture, and, in fact, reject the majority religion of the nation (Catholicism) and will do everything they can, including by violent means, to convert the nation to Islam.

This is the price we westerners, the United States and France included, are paying to keep our hands clean and our labor cheap, by opening our borders to low cost labor. We have not yet realized that our unbridled self-indulgence has invited those who abhor our culture, who have no intention of being assimilated, and will make every effort to transform our values to theirs. It just so happens that France is a couple of decades closer to this transformation than the US is. But we are both on the same path. Our time is coming.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

They're rioting in 'ol Paris

"They" are rioting in France. The mainstream media identifies "they" as the poor, mistreated souls of the ghetto suburbs. These poor souls feel downtrodden and oppresed, with the last straw being the electrocution of a couple of "innocent" kids who took refuge in a transformer substation to escape the "unjust" pursuit by police.

Here are the facts:

  • The police were not chasing the hoodlums... they were performing random searches in a Muslim neighborhood and the kids got spooked. And why would they get spooked if they were not up to no good? What is indisputable is that they were stupid. Their action should make it to the "Worlds Most Stupid Delinquents" TV show.
  • "They" are, for the most part, Muslims.
  • These Muslim do what most prominent Muslims seems to do best, that is, they splash flammable liquids on innocent, elderly handicapped people and light them up. Remember the related Muslim behavior during the Achille Lauro Hijacking?


  • If these Muslims have bad conditions in France, they had worse conditions wherever they immigrated from or they wouldn't be in France in the first place.
  • France has the largest Muslim population of any European nation, roughly half of those in Europe. The "street" has it that it is time for this group to begin exercising their jihad in France. Their "random" rioting is in fact much less random than it appears. There is substantial organization behind it. And there is substantial purpose behind it.
  • France had no plan or intention to assimilate these millions of Muslim immigrants. And the millions of Muslim immigrants have no intention of being assimilated into French culture.
  • France as a government and as a nation is among the most mealy-mouthed group of indecisive humans on the planet. Their cultural sensitivity has led to this anarchy, and will lead to much worse in the coming months and years.
  • This is just one more stage of the world-wide jihad in the Islamic quest to displace the Judeo-Christian culture in the world.

Cllick here for ongoing coverage and comment on Jihad watch: and on Michelle Malkin's site: and an article by Jack Cashill on World Net Daily:

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Are We to Believe God?

A friend of mine was angered and upset by an e-mail she deemed "hate mail" because it cited Biblical prophecy that the writer applied to New Orleans.

She chastened the writer as follows:

Katrina did not cause destruction to the Gulf coast because the people are ungodly. Katrina was a force of nature that could have hit anywhere; it could have just as easily hit [our community]. Events like Katrina, 911, Tsunami's, etc. are the fault of no one. Rather, they are "of the world" because of original sin. Lots of bad things happen to good people who don't deserve it. Good, caring and loving people can get cancer and suffer so much. To become judgmental and point fingers may be a knee-jerk response coming from fear. It may also be a response taken by those who need to feel superior spiritually and in other ways to their brothers. Hate is not the solution here.

Here is an excerpt of the comments that angered my friend:

Was hurricane Katrina an act of nature, or an act of an angry God? There's no way to prove either way. One can, however, state that New Orleans had turned its back on God, and was the most crime ridden and sin ridden city in the U.S. . Witchcraft, Black Magic, and everything you can imagine was taking place there. What city will be next? Only God knows the time and place.

The question was asked: "Was hurricane Katrina an act of nature, or an act of an angry God?" Is asking this question "hate?" I don't think so. Is quoting Old Testament prophecy and trying to understand how it might be applied to our time "hate?" Diligent preachers try to make the connection all the time. Is it true that many in New Orleans who promote or participate in corruption and the sleaze that made that City famous have "turned their back on God?" I think so. Call me judgemental - or call me observant and discerning. Certainly God doesn't want us to lose our discernment, does He?

There are several points that I believe my friend is missing:

God is a God of mercy and a God of justice. Most Christians understand that Jesus made a way for us to receive God's mercy and eternal life. But the bad behavior of so-called "Christians" as well as pagans, Muslims, Jews, aetheists, and secularists will not "save" them despite what they might say with their voices. One of the biggest lies we are told is the "faith alone" lie, that is, declare your trust in Jesus Christ and go on sinning; continue asking for forgiveness and keep on showing the same disregard for the commandments of God. Continue disliking your neighbor, indulge yourself, and think you will be blessed by God.

Here is my take on Katrina and New Orleans:

Some folks endorse the "supernatural punishment for sin/intervention of God" interpretation of Scripture and declare that Katrina was God's punishment to a wicked people. I cannot go that far. They base their interpretation on the Sodom and Gomorrah Old Testament story (for those of us who believe it really happened - I have no reason to believe it didn't). Preachers and ministers all over our nation preach that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was God's punshment for the evil of those people. I have recently come to supplement my understanding of the cause of the demise of those cities in two ways.

One: There have always been natural disasters - earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, pestilence, etc., just as my friend explained. People throughout history have reacted to and prepared for those disasters in various ways. Those who become self-absorbed in their sins will not be as prepared or care about the coming destruction as those who are diligent and responsible. Picture the drunken "hurricane party" that you often hear about. Are those people prepared? Do they care? There will be many more casualties among those who don't care or who are ill prepared than those who are prepared. Likewise, the governments that tend to be less responsible or more corrupt will be less effective in good disaster preparedness. The government of the City of New Orleans bore this out. In this county, the government is the people. Katrina demonstrated that the "relatively corrupt" government of New Orleans failed its people in many ways, not just during Katrina, but decades before as well.

Two: The natural disasters that God allows to take place impact the righteous and unrighteous alike. All have an equal chance to exhibit their righteousness during such times. Some choose to plunder and loot. Others choose to rescue and repair. Job of the Old Testament is an example of this universal truth of God's workings. Job was tested as severely as anyone on earth. He could have blasphemed God, or he could have remained faithful. He chose the latter. He remained faithful. He passed the test. He grew in strength and faith.

These two points being made, it remains my understanding, based on many passages of Scripture, that God judges, both here on earth and in the life to come. I agree it is not for us to judge. But those who think that God does not NOT judge blaspheme God. They are simply in error. Those who deny that God judges through natural events deny the power and discretion of God. Perhaps more accurate: What God allows He allows so that we may judge ourselves by our actions. We may respond with prudence and faith and love, or we may respond with imprudence, doubt, and hate. It is these actions that will be ultimately judged by God.

One final point of doctrine: Original sin. My friend declares natural disasters exist because of "original sin." I do not believe this to be true. We are responsible for our own sin, not the sin of others several thousand years ago. It is so convenient to blame another person - even more convenient to blame another person who lived so long ago! A lot more of God's children today need to claim responsibility for their own actions. Doing so, we are likely to be a lot more diligent and successful in anticipating, sensing, and responsibly preparing for natural calmity.

I have a bad feeling that New Orleans still doesn't get it. The prevailing chatter on New Orleans talk radio, one week after the storm, is their committment to their next Mardi Gras in February. Wouldn't it be more pleasing to God (not to mention the lives of people whose government they too often depend on for their very lives) to get their flood control system in order - to discuss rebuilding their City to a less vulnerable status? The beat goes on.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nawlins: A Twisted Fate

The article below reflects the aspect of human nature that is so maddening to me, and one reason why I tend toward being religious. It describes the allure of New Orleans to so many people, with that allure so clearly vested in corruption, decadence, filth, and the vilest aspects of human nature. This City reflects a seductively self-destructive human tendency- our love of "culture" on the fringes of accepted human decency.

Note: Words in [brackets] are my editorial comments.

Profile of New Orleans, Before Katrina
By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer Sat Sep 3, 2:31 PM ET

Beneath the frantic and putrid abyss of looters and bodies and desperation that New Orleans became last week, there's a decadent city of crawfish bisque and sparkling jazz, a ferocious city that beat back the British army, a tenacious city that has survived plague and fires, a seductive and sultry and sweet place beloved by many.

It is, quite simply, one of a kind. [Shouldn't we be grateful?]

"In terms of the big cities of this country, New Orleans is clearly one of the cities with the most unique character," said Paul Farmer, executive of the American Planning Association. "What's happened goes well beyond the devastation of one city — it's a national tragedy."

[The aspect of this event that comes closest to a "national tragedy" is the exposure of decades of decadence manifesting itself in miserable human judgment and behavior. I do not believe for a moment that the loss of the "culture" of New Orleans is a national tragedy. There is obviously a point when "cultural diversity" can go too far and becomes destructive to human survival, if in fact survival is a universal good.]

Its singular ways date back to its French and Spanish history, its Caribbean character, its geographic diversity of lake and marshlands.

The city was born in 1718, a swampy French-Canadian outpost next to the mouth of the Mississippi River. In the ensuing years it would be held by both France and Spain before becoming the largest and richest city in the Confederacy, thanks in large part to its bustling international port.

But its location also made it vulnerable to attackers on sea. In the brutal 1815 Battle of New Orleans, French and Spanish settlers joined soldiers, slaves, militia, Indians and even some pirates as they sheltered behind stacks of logs and cotton bales to defeat British invaders.

Soldiers weren't the only threats. A plague of yellow fever, spread by mosquitoes, struck summer after summer in the mid-1800s, killing thousands of residents. Fires have all but leveled the city as well, and there have been deadly hurricanes and floods, although none on the scale of this week's disaster.

Despite it all, New Orleans has always been a city that entices [just like aberrant sex and addictive drugs entice], and those who come often stay [I guess they needed the drugs!] It has more native-born residents than any other major American city, and it's not uncommon to meet families who have been there for five generations — along with their neighbors.

Those who come for short durations — and there are more than 10 million visitors a year, and 3,000 business meetings and conventions — come to experience an exotic place that has been called America's only European city [go figure].

There's the pre-Lent revel of Mardi Gras [too bad a Christian tradition (Lent) is associated with debauchery (Mardi Gras)], which generates a billion dollars in revenue every year [decadence for dollars!!]. There's the naughty fun of Bourbon Street [naughty is nice - "call evil good and good evil"]. And fine restaurants. And magnificent jazz — at the annual Jazz Fest, at jumping joints, even after funerals. [Ya don't need the crap to have fine restaurants and good music.]

In fact, much that New Orleans flavor has been exported. Mardi Gras parties are ubiquitous now; dishes like gumbos and po'boys and jambalaya are featured in restaurants everywhere. And the music — from Louis Armstrong to B.B. King, from Fats Domino to the Neville Brothers — is the soundtrack for our lives.

But beyond the historic architecture, the spice-laden cuisine and the beguiling voodoo underground, live close to 500,000 people, mostly poor (more than a quarter live in poverty), mostly black (more than 66 percent), clustered into 73 distinct neighborhoods.
Crime, even before the hurricane, was high. The murder rate has come down in recent years, but remains 10 times the national average. Last year, researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire. [Can you figure out the reason?]

"Maybe New Orleans should be nicknamed The Big Un-Easy, due to a high violent crime rate and a high unemployment rate. There's also a significant number of suicides and divorces," said Bert Sterling on his Best Places web site.

The city's school system is a shambles. The district almost went broke this past year — teachers nearly missed a paycheck — and 55 of the state's 78 worst schools are in New Orleans.

Dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption. But then, corruption in New Orleans is nothing new — politicians, judges, the police have all been caught.

[Now we're beginning to see the consequences of a beloved culture gone awry!]

Still, New Orleans did not lose its luster. It had higher education (Tulane, University of New Orleans, Xavier). [In spite of all the crud. Think how great the City might otherwise have been!] It had the port that made it a city in the first place (fourth largest in the world, by gross tonnage).
[The port is a quality of its economic geography, not its culture. It is an independent strength, in spite of the failures of the greater local society. Does a port need corruption to be great, or does corruption stifle greatness? How much better would it have been if the ignored qualities of honesty, integrity, fair dealing, and a community-building spirit were predominant?]

And it still had that quality that inspired its unofficial motto — "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (Let the good times roll). [Leave it to the French]. Though it's too tough to remember now. [Not really. Maybe it is for those who are internally confused about principle and what is good and right.]

Pableaux Johnson, a food and travel writer from New Orleans, could only reminisce about his beloved city in the past tense as he watched the destruction on television with family and friends in a nearby city where they had evacuated. [Yeah, like there goes my livelihood. All the hookers said the same thing.]

"It was a human-scale metropolis," he said. "It had its own really vibrant set of cultures, of food and music and literature and people. It had an amazingly rich tradition and it had a good solid funkiness. [A good, solid funkiness? - This is like having a good, solid nose bleed. "Funky": The word the deceived really get off on. Label any form of deviancy "funky" and you have a great dollar-generating tourist attraction.]

You could get absolutely spiritual food for three bucks, listen to absolutely amazing music in the equivalent of house parties." [Nothing wrong here. But why does it take a society and culture of deviancy, lawlessness, and corruption to enable these things? I don't think those are essential ingredients. Or do the really "artsy" among us require that culture to thrive? Do we really have a human tendency of "artsing ourselves into oblivion" as the Big Easy culture tended to do, requiring the "artsy-poor" in the nation to come to their rescue?]

Joe Lastie, a drummer with the legendary New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, holed up in an Atlanta hotel with his family, somberly waiting to hear from clarinetist Ralph Johnson, pianist Rickie Monie and trumpeter John Brunious.

Lastie's band, named after the venerable music venue in the heart of the French Quarter, is known for its spirited shows around the world where Lastie and his bandmates, blowing their horns and clashing their cymbals, dance right off the stage and into the audience to lead a rollicking, joyful march around the theater.
"I go around the world sharing the joy that is New Orleans," he said. "And because of that joy, I know my city is going to survive. The New Orleans people are the type of people, well, you can't keep them down. Through the joy of the music and the spirit of the people, we're always going to bounce back."
[I hope that aspect survives while they clean up their act.]

Friday, September 02, 2005

Buses, Anyone?

Here are your buses, Mayor, in the heart of New Orleans. Your buses.

Where are the buses, Mayor? Why weren't they dispatched to help transport the evacuees out when you were calling for evacuation on Saturday and Sunday? Why blame others, Mayor?

May the City of New Orleans Never Be the Same

The Mayor of New Orleans was speaking on WWL radio this afternoon...he was venting about the disaster, the dead bodies, the destruction, ragging on the lack of assistance from the federal and state government, and how "the City of New Orleans will never be the same."

Let us all hope and pray that the City of New Orleans will never be the same...

  • That their rampant corruption will change
  • That their blind tolerance of grossly decadent behavior will change
  • That their failure to plan for natural disaster will change
  • That the greed of their largest industries (tourism and petroleum) will change
  • That their continued existence in a 7' to 10' below sea level basin in a hurricane prone area of the Gulf of Mexico will change

Yes, may the City of New Orleans never be the same.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Southern Decadence Festival in Big Easy Postponed by Katrina

For those who didn't quite get the previous post regarding Nawlins, here is a followup - a reprint of a current article in World Net Daily...

IN KATRINA'S WAKE - Hurricane hits just before homosexual event
Posted: August 31, 20054:38 p.m. Eastern
© 2005

Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans just two days before the annual homosexual "Southern Decadence" festival was to begin in the town, an act being characterized by some as God's work.

Southern Decadence has a history of "filling the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars," says a statement from the Philadelphia Christian organization Repent America. This year's 34th annual Southern Decadence festival, which drew 125,000 revelers last year, was set to begin today in the Big Easy and run through Monday.

As writer John d'Addario explained in "Southern Decadence 2005: A How-To Guide" posted on

Parades and non-stop parties aside, Southern Decadence may be most famous (or infamous) for the displays of naked flesh which characterize the event – which is only fitting, since New Orleans in early September is generally the closest thing you'll ever experience to walking around in a steambath outside of a health spa. While police have started to crack down on public lewdness and pressure from a local crackpot conservative religious organization has caused the five-day festival to become a little more sedate than it was in years past, the atmosphere of Southern Decadence has stayed true to its name and public displays of sexuality are pretty much everywhere you look.

Of course, the massive flooding of the city and evacuation order from Gov. Kathleen Blanco has forced the event's cancellation.

Repent America says three former and current mayors of New Orleans have issued official proclamations welcoming visitors to Southern Decadence.

Be sure to check out the underlined links in the article. Maybe God does make a distinction between "right" and "wrong" afterall. But of course that distinction matters only to those who believe there is a God.

But don't despair. I'm confident Southern Decadance will resume next year. Your federal tax dollars are hard at work!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans - A Warning About Accountability

"Interestingly, last year's string of Florida hurricanes didn't seem to cause much doomsday rhetoric. But Katrina is different for a few important reasons: It's much larger than usual storms; it hit a region that is home to one-fourth of U.S. oil production at a time when Americans are feeling tremendous anxiety over rising fuel costs; it happened a couple weeks after Israel pulled out of Gaza; and it conjures horrific images of fetid water contaminating a city with a Sodom and Gomorrah reputation." Quote from

An apocalyptic scenario - in a City that knew the day would come. In a nation that knows the day will come. New Orleans has apocalypse now. The nation's is yet to come. The common thread? Indifference to the most important things. Preoccupation with the frivolous.

There are excuses for what happened in New Orleans, but no good reasons. Even after "dodging the bullet" - avoiding the "worst case scenario" with Katrina jogging 30 miles to the east - the City is in ruins. The excuses? A strong category 4 hurricane? C'mon...these occur once every few years. Come to think of it, there aren't even any good excuses!

The City had a preoccupation with being "the Big Easy", whatever that means. Prideful of their "culture". Known best for their sleaze. Now known best for being one of the most vulnerable cities in the world to natural disaster. Built 20 feet below river and lake level. A levee system designed to hold back a 15 foot storm surge in a century of 20-30 foot storm-surge hurricanes. With a disaster preparedness plan that was obviously as full of holes as their levee system.

This strikes me as the quintessence of self-absorbed pleasure-seeking gluttony at the expense of community responsibility. The evidence speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, many communities are in similarly precarious situations - pre-occupied with being entertained or entertaining others - paying little attention to their own preservation in the face of statistically very probable disasters.

The parallel: This nations' reliance on foreign oil, and on petroleum as our primary energy source generally. For the last three decades, we have heard voices in the wilderness crying out for energy independence, greater energy efficiency, use of alternative fuels. The irony is there is no more progress toward these goals than there was 30 years ago! Now we are grasping at Islamo-fascist politics in the middle east to keep us in the oil loop. And we have a Venezuelan Communist president courting Islamo-fascists and drug trade on the one hand, and threatening to cut off oil to the US on the other. Now we have one quarter of our domestic oil production cut off by a storm.

We are preoccupied with entertaining ourselves and others at the expense of focusing on the important things. What is the apt historic parody: "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." We are "fiddling" with our survival by our lack of attention to the essentials. Apparently we lack the leadership to make the important things "sexy" enough to devote our collective interests and energies toward doing. Our head in the desert sand energy policy is the equivalent of New Orleans' party atmosphere, finger up the dyke mentality.

The final kicker is that the national taxpayer will be spending untold billions of dollars to restore the result of other people's careless indifference - and to restore our beloved Sodom and Gonnorhea playground.

Monday, August 22, 2005

We're Fighting for What!!???

This is from the "be careful what you ask for" department.

The United States has been fighting for democracy in Iraq. Of course, many of us are aware that our own nation is a republic, not a democracy. We know that in a democracy, there is the very real potential for the tyranny of the majority. Now blend that potential with an Iraqi constitutional provision that states that Islam will be a basis for all law in Iraq. Then go one step further in realizing that true Islam is against women's rights, supports violent Jihad, and would like to see the infidels (those who do not embrace Islam) either subservient or dead. These folks may call Islam "a religion of peace" but translate the word "peace" to mean the condition that results after their total conquest.

So, we have lost how many thousand American lives for what? So we can win the right for a nation to adopt a constitution that embraces the laws of a religion that wants us dead and makes slaves of its' women?

"Democracy" is a duel edged sword. The majority can vote for evil just as well as a dictator can enforce evil.

If this is as it appears, and I am not mistaken, I will quickly turn anti-war. If this is as it appears, that we are fighting to create an Islamic nation, then any other American who dies from this point forward dies in obedience to a misdirected mission and an evil cause.

I hope I am not interpreting these events correctly - that this is just a phase of constitutional negotiation. Look out for the spinning that concludes that Islamic law is benign, that it is the "will of the people", that all is cool, and we have won a great victory. That will be a lie. We will have won the opportunity for a major part of that nation to live in bondage. And worse, the threat to the U.S. from that nation will be as real and present as under Sadam.

If I am interpreting this correctly, I would rather withdraw to allow the various factions of psycho-Islamic facists to fight each other to the death and have nothing else to do with their psychotic behavior. I would rather come to the rescue of a nation where goodness can prevail, not evil.

Here is the article excerpted from JihadWatch (weblink in the above title):

Iraq draft says laws must conform to Islam...

Most of the world is just hearing about this, but if you have been reading Jihad Watch you would know that there has been no change on this point since late July. Another I told you so update: "Iraq draft says laws must conform to Islam -text," from Reuters, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:

BAGHDAD, Aug 22 (Reuters) - A draft constitution for Iraq to be presented to parliament on Monday will make Islam "a main source" for legislation and ban laws that contradict religious teachings, members of the parliamentary drafting panel said.
One said the text, agreed by the ruling Shi'ite and Kurdish coalition over Sunni Arab objections, would read: "Islam is a main source for legislation and it is not permitted to legislate anything that conflicts with the fixed principles of its rules."
Shi'ite delegate Jawad al-Maliki said the wording was fixed.
It appeared to be something of a compromise after secular Kurds had objected during negotiations to Islam being "the main source" of laws. It was not clear how legislation would be subjected to the test of conforming to Islamic principles.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

So you feel bad for the Guantanamo detainees?

A good friend of mine recently forwarded a copy of the following letter to a "concerned citizen" from Donald Rumsfeld. Apparently, the federal government initiated a new program to address some of the concerns related to Guantanamo detainees. This official letter describes the new "LARK" program which enlists the help of these concerned citizens. Please provide a copy to any of your friends who may also be concerned about the treatment of Guantanamo detainees.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear Concerned Citizen:

Thank you for your recent letter expressing concern about our treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington.

You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like you, we are creating the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care. Your detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation to your residence next Monday.

Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of admonishment. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter. Although Ahmed is sociopathic and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome this character flaw. Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless you feel that this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with your wife or daughters since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him. He has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the dress code that he considers appropriate, but I'm sure that over time they will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the bhurka. Just remind them that it is all part of respecting his culture and his religious beliefs.

Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you inform us of the proper way to do our job. Take good care of Ahmed and good luck!

Don Rumsfeld

(For those who take things way too seriously, this letter is a parody.)

Friday, July 22, 2005


Click on the title for a perfect example of the blatant blackmail of Islamic leaders, this one in London.

The message: Get out of Iraq or we will continue to terrorize and kill your civilians.

This is the teaching of their "religion": "Do what I say or I will...

  • Cut off your finger
  • Chop off your hand
  • Cut out your tongue
  • Cut off your ____ (pick a body part)
  • Kill members of your family
  • Blow up innocent civilians."

Ooops. I forgot. None of us are innocent. We are all infidels - we don't believe as they do. So we shall become either dhimmis, or Allah wants us dead. With free speech like that, we won't have any free speech.

Today it's get out of Iraq. What was it before 9/11? What will it be next when we leave Iraq?

This is blackmail, pure and simple. It should be rewarded with redoubled efforts to practice whatever profiling is necessary to get every one of these uncivilized, slimy vipers off the streets. By the way, this is the same character that was congratulating the Islamic highjackers after 9/11.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

Every so often there are periods in our lives when we don't know what to do. I'm not speaking of not knowing whether to wear brown shoes or black shoes, or what to have for dinner. I mean the big stuff. Like "my career field is a dead end, but I don't know one that is any better." Or "this 'ol town has run its' course in my life, it's time to move on, but I don't know where to go." (Sounds like the lyrics of a country song!)

First, if you believe there is a God anywhere near the vicinity of this universe, pray. This "step of faith" has several benefits. It taps the main power in the universe on your behalf. It increases your faith, especially if you make it a habit and look for results. And finally, it helps you focus on what you really want, because knowing you usually get what you pray for, you will be careful to pray for what you really want.

If you are close to completing your education, i.e. your bachelors' degree, finish it, even if the last credits you take are not in the perfect career field. If you get in the habit of changing direction in school, you may become a perpetual student. I admit, some folks enjoy being a perpetual student. Most don't. After your initial degree, you will have more time to be a perpetual student of life - focusing on the things that REALLY interest you.

During this time, your other primary area of focus is to identify, list, and prioritize the things you need to do to learn what you want to do. For example, if you have no idea what career field you really want - nothing seems particularly attractive, make the college career counselor your best friend. Take aptitude and interest inventories - again. Focus your energies in finding a career field in something you enjoy doing. The other option is spending most of your waking hours doing something you don't care much about as a means to enjoy a very few number of hours of your life. Granted, a job or career need not be an end in itself. Life does not need to revolve around your job. But, especially for a single person, a job is the center of life, and for 95% of us, it consumes 80% of our waking hours. The quirk in this is that the jobs that are most fun don't pay much. 99% of beach bums, ski bums, vagrants, groupies, artists, and musicians get paid very little.

Once you discover your top three career fields, you may discover a knowledge or experience gap between those fields and your degreed education and work experience. That is where the twin gems of "networking" and "transferable job skills" come in. You need networking to get your foot in the door, and you need to identify your transferable job skills to get hired. And since this new job is in your recently chosen "hot button" career, you will (hopefully) be motivated to do whatever it takes to get up to speed to do your job, or to work your way up the ladder from your entry level position.

For example, in the field of city planning an entry level position could be an administrative assistant, a zoning inspector, code enforcement officer, or a planning technician. The pay for these positions range from the low $20,000's to the low $30,000's. The majority of the intermediate positions typically require a bachelors or master's degree in the specific field of planning, or closely related field such as public administration, urban design, or architecture. A website that lists planning jobs around the nation is the American Planning Association web site at Each state chapter also lists job openings on the web. These chapter sites are also accessible through the web site.

Most people who implement a career change understand that they have two big challenges: lower initial pay than the career field they left, and a steep learning curve that will require lots of motivation, energy, dedication, and a few years of time.

Another thing to remember is that for many, the journey is the destination. The journey can be a very fulfilling endeavor. Often time for many, simply reaching a static goal results in disappointment. It is stimulating and healthy to continue reaching for new experiences, both in your career and in your location.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Islam a Lamb or a Viper?

Here is an e-mail concerning the recent London bombings prominently displayed on the CNN website:

"We utterly condemn those atrocities. We condemn those responsible. Islam is a peaceful religion and it teaches peace. Those who are responsible must be brought to justice, no matter what religion or what country they belong to. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have suffered in this atrocity. We the Scottish Muslims stand United and our prayers are with the families and friends of those who have been killed and all those injured in this atrocity. We appeal to the authorities that those who are responsible must be brought to justice. " Tahir Mohammed; Glasgow, Scotland

Based on what I know about Islam, current events, and CNN, the following observations are made:
  • CNN, as most left-leaning media outlets, is a pawn of Islam
  • The e-mail does not represent the truth about Islam; if spoken sincerely, it is an oddity; if spoken insincerely, it is a purposeful deception.
  • The hundreds of terrorist acts over the last two decades have virtually all been committed by (pick one) grandmothers, boy scouts, Muslims.
  • Therefore, Islam (pick one) is a peaceful religion, bakes cookies and gives them to little children, is a religion that frequently practices and condones terrorism as a means to exert their influence over those not sharing their faith.

It is interesting to note that most of the Islamic blogs and e-mails (see Jihad Watch website following the London bombings either congratulated themselves or complained about possible retribution against fellow Muslims. Rarely did they express sorrow for the victims or rage at the perpetrators.

Intelligence reports indicate at least 24 terrorists were involved in setting up and setting off the blasts. How many additional "sympathizers" do you think were needed to keep the plot a secret from British intelligence?

I am wary of Muslims. No, I am more than wary. Islam itself is not far from being a terrorist organization. I suspect that many of the "peaceful" among them are PR front people - the lobbying and fund raising arm, so to speak. And they have well-earned their reputation. Those who sincerely claim to be "peaceful" certainly do not appear to be in the Islamic mainstream.

PS: A great article about what we in the US should be doing differently and unapologetically is summarized by Michelle Malkin in a recent commentary

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Good natured, easy going, intelligent, kind, generous, loved life, loved a good conversation, independent, disciplined. These are the characteristics that come to mind when I think of Granddaddy.

What a sharp mind. When he would come back from a vacation he really enjoyed, he recounted more factual details two weeks later than I would have noticed if I were there. He loved being active – he enjoyed his pool and his yard– even in his elderly days. While I don’t know what the past 9 years without Grandmommy were like for him, I have no doubt he still took great pleasure in life. He may have had his times of loneliness and disappointment, but who would ever know? He was a quiet man who probably kept a lot to himself. He seldom complained, maintaining self-control and a positive outlook on life.

Because of his style and substance, he had more influence on his two daughters in spiritual matters than his religious wife did. He had little concern about or belief in God as I understood him. Yet he accompanied Wren to every church service (she called them “meetings”) that she ever attended. He was faithful like that, even lacking a religious faith himself. He was above all, loyal, sometimes, from my perspective, painfully so. He is more of a “throwback” than I am, and I use that term in the most positive way. He learned most of these qualities as a boy on the farm in upper state New York – an increasingly rare experience. His highest values were faithfulness to his wife, loyalty, honesty, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. He was easy to be with - a friend. His style and substance were near the upper echelons of those I’ve known. Most others’ pale in comparison, including my own.

He has great surprise and thrill in store when he finds himself in the midst of Heaven counseling the rest of us not only about our taxes, but how to be a good, decent human being. I will have much more to learn from him.

Passed through to paradise on Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sunday, June 26, 2005

10 Reasons to Go to (an LDS) Church

This is written to those who don’t go to church, any church.

People have a variety of reasons for not going to church – I should know, I’ve used many of them.

The usual include:

- Sunday. That’s my day of rest. That’s what God wants us to do, isn’t it? (Yes, but not that much!)
- Church is full of hypocrites. (That’s true. At least most of us admit it.)
- That’s the only day I can get my chores done. (Is it, really? Depends on priorities, doesn’t it?)
- I can be spiritual without going to church (And how spiritual is that?)
- I get along fine without going to church (Is that as “fine” as you want to be?)
- I’m as fine as I want to be. (I can’t argue with that.)

With that out of the way, why should you go to church? And why should you go to an LDS church in particular?

Here are 10 reasons…

  1. God (assuming you believe He exists) wants you to learn more about Him. Church is a good place for that.
  2. Like-minded participants will help increase your faith in and understanding of God and what God expects of us. You will be more motivated than by studying only on your own, assuming you would.
  3. You will get the distinct feeling you are doing the “right thing” by being in church. You will be “blessed” (made happy by God’s spirit.)
  4. You will learn positive life and family principles – your “peers” will teach and everyone is encouraged by one another.
  5. You will be exposed to continuing revelation from our Heavenly Father – the same sort that was given by prophets in the Old Testament. After all, if God spoke through prophets 3000 years ago, why wouldn’t he continue today?
  6. You will learn that the “pure gospel” - that of serving others – brings greater joy than anything we do for ourselves. This is the opposite of what the counseling community preaches. It’s good to hear an opposing view – it gives a bit of a balanced perspective to life.
  7. You will become a part of a supportive, close knit, caring, and positive group of people who hold high ideals and who love to help.
  8. Your understanding of the purpose of the family in God’s plan will be greatly enhanced.
  9. You will develop a foundation of understanding how to improve this life and the life to come by learning eternally significant truths.
  10. Your dad thinks this is a good idea.

Love, Dad

Monday, June 06, 2005

Marriage: Dad’s “Throwback”[1] Attitude

Dad has a “throwback” [1] attitude toward marriage. He is hopelessly lost in the 3,000 years of history during which time marriage has been a sacred tradition between a man and a woman. Poor dad. Things have changed so, and he doesn’t “get it.”

Isn’t it ironic …

  • That homosexual couples want to marry but they can’t; heterosexual couples don’t want to marry, but they should;
  • When two people raised in a faith that holds marriage as a central tenet believe the institution of marriage is not applicable to their circumstances.
  • How the moral principles that were respected for 3,000 years (of which marriage is a central component) can be discarded in just one generation and labeled as old fashioned and confining.
  • That we hear so much about the challenges of marriage, how to fix a marriage, what to do about a bad marriage, how to avoid divorce, how to get a divorce – all the negatives about marriage, but we hear so little about why people should be married, the purpose and benefits of marriage – the positives of marriage, the deeply spiritual purposes of marriage. It’s no wonder why marriage is out of favor.
  • That there used to be “marriage of convenience”[2]; now we have “living together for convenience.”

I am not saying all of the above ironies apply to any particular couple. But the culture, generally, increasingly highlights these ironies.

What are the reasons why couples today avoid marriage? Here are a few reasons from the “All About Cohabiting Before Marriage” web page accessed by clicking on the title of this blog.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, the small numbers of cohabiting couples in America could be fairly described as "anti-marriage" (part of the anti-establishment movement). They were deliberately seeking an alternative to traditional marriage, an institution they viewed as "repressive" or "irrelevant." Today, however, many cohabiting couples have a different outlook. Rather than "anti-marriage," it is more accurate to say that many (though certainly not all) of these couples are "anti-divorce." That is, they are so fearful of a marital breakup that they are looking to cohabitation as a "trial marriage" that will protect them from entering into a marriage that will end up in divorce just as their parents (Mattox 1997). According to the National Marriage Project of Rutgers University, young people today are more concerned with having fun and making money and less focused on forming lasting relationships that lead to marriage and raising family (Popenoe & Whitehead 1999). The report says that the young are in favor of living together as a try-out for marriage or as an alternative to marriage, believe sex is for fun and has no string attached, have a fear of divorce and see marriage (and divorce) as a potential economic liability. Although, oddly, most expect some day to meet and marry somebody who can fulfill their emotional and spiritual needs.”

In short, fear of failure, fear of commitment, and lack of understanding of the purposes and benefits of marriage all seem to be the primary underlying reasons to live together without marriage.

One might ask “what are the reasons for or benefits of marriage compared to simply living together?” There are both practical and spiritual (religious) reasons for marriage. A few of the practical reasons include:

  • Marriage demonstrates trust and commitment. This makes sense because a reason not to be married is that one or both parties currently don’t trust a marriage to last or aren’t sure they want to make a commitment. Conversely, marriage overcomes these negatives.
  • Marriage develops the personal disciplines of trust and commitment. The marriage vows place a higher level of expectation of commitment beyond a simple agreement to live together. (Although I must add, so does a joint mortgage!) Yes, it is true marriages fail. People mess up. People get off track from their commitments for a variety of reasons, usually selfish. It does not follow that therefore people should live together without being married. It means that individuals should take greater care in finding the right person in terms of character, faith, likes and dislikes, and complimentary personalities.
  • Marriage enhances the stability of our society. “If the family trends of recent decades are extended into the future, the result will not only be a growing uncertainty within marriage, but the gradual elimination of marriage in favor of casual liaisons, oriented to adult expressiveness and self-fulfillment. The problem with this scenario is that children will be harmed, adults probably no happier, and the social order could collapse." (from David Popenoe in Promises to Keep). As can be seen from the phenomena of gay marriage, the moral, spiritual, legal, financial, and governmental systems of centuries relating to the institution of marriage are being stretched and distorted to the point of corrupting and rendering the entire institution as meaningless.
  • Other practical reasons that may or may not apply to most couples are listed on this website:

Those are several of the practical aspects of marriage. Now here are some of the spiritual reasons for the institution.

Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Latter Day Saints, and most non-liberal protestant religions share the same understanding of God’s standards for a man and woman living together and His purpose for marriage. I won’t go into quoting Bible verses or other sacred literature, but here is the essence:

  • God is our Father. He instituted the human “family”;
  • His reason in bringing men and women together is to “fill the earth”, to expand His family for his glorious purpose;
  • He created the institution of marriage as a means of maintaining order among his many offspring and families;
  • He set forth rules for the relationship between unmarried men and women for our ultimate good and happiness, as well as the maintenance of order among His families;
  • He has offered covenants for His people regarding these “rules” or principles of happiness; and
  • He is pleased when His people honor these covenants because He knows His people will be blessed (happier) when they do.

Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament is a spiritual covenant between God and man.

Those who do not believe or practice the above understanding may identify with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, an atheist who taught that selfishness and individual fulfillment are the highest ideals of humanity. Further, she taught that all organizations, including governmental and religious, were encumbrances to individual self interest and ought to be done away with. Carrying this one step further, “marriage” itself is a partnership beyond the individual. That partnership, too, encumbers the individual. That partnership, too, ought to be avoided.

Conversely, the Judeo-Christian faith teaches that ones’ marriage is greater than the individual. The interests of the marriage should come first. The selfish (self) interests of the individual should give way to the interests of the marriage. We have strayed far from that ideal – we’ve come a long way, baby! Cohabitation; personal interest above the interests of the couple; avoidance of commitment; the floundering institution of marriage… How far do you think this trend will go?

Here is a site, neither Greek Orthodox, nor LDS, nor Presbyterian, nor Catholic, that presents a commonly accepted “Christian” perspective of the purpose of marriage: I picked this summary only out of convenience – it is the first resource I happened upon that provided a concise summary from a Christian perspective. Other doctrine promoted by this site is not being endorsed or disputed.

How unmarried couples choose to live is certainly a choice they have a right to make. They and their heirs are the ones who will experience the consequences of their actions. My hope is that a clear understanding of the opposing world views on this issue will result in decisions that lead to a happier, more fulfilling, and joyous life for those struggling with the question "to marry or not to marry."

[1] A “throwback” (a term first introduced to me by one of my daughters when she was 13) is typically a derogatory term indicating a reversion to a former type or ancestral characteristic. Counter throwback (a term I made up) is one who dismisses the value of the traditions, habits, or life patterns of the past; a social liberal as opposed to a social conservative.
[2] A marriage of convenience is a marriage contracted for reasons other than the traditional reasons of love or family, that is, for a different perceived benefit, such as financial or social. Living together without marriage serves the same purpose.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

First, real estate, which, by no coincidence, involves both change and where we might see ourselves in 10 years. Knowing my audience, I’ll focus down to residential real estate for young, single, career adults with a dog. Also, let me get the old real estate truisms out of the way, which include…

  • Buy low, sell high
  • Location, location, location
  • Buy lower end in a better neighborhood rather than top end in a worse neighborhood.
  • Look for “potential”; the simple things to fix up that can make a big difference in curb appeal or livability. A lot of people have less imagination than you do.

That’s all the truisms I know. The rest of what follows I made up. Here goes…

  • Know your limitations, financial, skills, time, and inclination. This means don’t become “house poor” unless you are very confident you will grow into more resources within the next several years. Don’t buy a “fixer-upper” unless you have the skills, time, inclination, and extra money to devote to the needed projects.
  • Don’t let the house consume you. I’ve always stretched to the edge of my means when buying a house. This does not mean that the way dad did it is always the way it should be done. A house can be a nice hobby and diversion from career stresses and provide a good sense of satisfaction when you enjoy the improvements you’ve made. But a house is just another set of material possessions that can consume us out of all proportion to its worth if you let it. I hate trying to keep a balance in life. Being obsessive-compulsive about some things some of the time is so much fun.
  • This real estate market! We are in a spectacular market…for the speculative investor. Most of us are not speculative investors. We need a house to live in, not to gamble on. It’s nice that we still have very low mortgage interest rates. But, unfortunately, in this market at least, low interest rates also allow people to raise housing prices to “whatever the market will bear.” And that is quite a lot in some parts of the country. I’m not familiar with housing inflation in your neck of the woods. I’m sure it’s not anything like the inflationary vortex we’re experiencing in the southern coastal areas – up an average of 100% in two years! But in your case, selling one home and buying another within a few miles in the same general market area should be a wash – except for one thing. If prices have inflated 10 or 20%, your taxes and homeowners insurance will probably increase that amount in your new home compared to your existing one. New assessments and new insurance policies are triggered by the purchase of the home you are moving into. These costs would have remained stable in the old home.
  • Be diligent, be wise, and have fun doing it. The journey is the destination.
  • Renting can be more appropriate than buying under several circumstances: Being uncertain about your job or future; being in a wild real estate market you don't trust are just two.

These changes in location, houses, and financial obligations can be stressful, which leads to the next topic, “change.”

First, the truisms about change…

  • Change can be either good or bad. (duhhh)
  • Change is inevitable and constant; we just don’t notice it or pay attention to it most of the time
  • And, of course, the inimitable “serenity prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Generally thought to have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr)
  • Change consciously made is a growth experience. Yes, I know, please, no more growth experiences!!!
  • Change unconsciously made is sticking your head in the sand. But we will become conscious of it sooner or later. Later is harder.

That’s all the change truisms I know. And I think I made up that last one. Here is more “change food for thought”.

  • We have limited control over change, but we do have some control. Oh, another change truism: “If you don’t know where you want to go, it matters not what road you take.” We need to know where we want to go to be able to influence change. The road we take does matter.
  • The joys of “the road less traveled” is often a myth. There is often good reason why it is less traveled. It may seem like a shortcut to what you are after at the moment. There may be beautiful scenery along the way. But it may be a road full of ruts and potholes, or even a dead-end. It may not take you where you intended to go.
  • The “wisdom to know the difference” is an interesting thought where the “serenity prayer” rather keeps us hanging. What is “the wisdom to know the difference” between what we can change and what we can’t? Between what we should change and what we should leave alone? One writer calls this wisdom “discernment”. A synonymous concept is having well-established standards of conviction for your life. Having principles that you virtually automatically invoke whenever opportunities for change come your way. These convictions put you in a position so that you don’t have to agonize over which change to accept – these decisions will be automatic. Your conscious emotional energy can be reserved for the decisions between the better of the best options rather than being wasted on options that may lead down the wrong road.
  • Change can be exciting, fun, and deeply fulfilling when it is directed toward your most deeply held aspirations and based on your most cherished convictions.

This is a good segue to the topic of “where you see yourself in 10 years.” Interesting thought. How to approach this one. Hmmm.

First off, I’m not going to speculate where I see my daughters in 10 years because I have trouble speculating even where I see myself in 10 years. This question relates a great deal to the previous two topics, change and real estate. Our aspirations and convictions, roads taken resulting in present circumstances, opportunities and limitations – all bring us to the potential for our future. Even real estate is included in this question because we have to occupy space, land, and we have to pay someone, somewhere, to occupy it.

Speaking for myself, I will be in my late 60’s. I will be either working part time in something I enjoy doing, or fully retired. I will be physically located either where I am, or in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Alabama. (Confirmation about not knowing my future: Two years after this is written, I find myself retired in none of these locations!)

This raises some questions about my current preferences - What are they? What kinds of limitations or constraints do or will I have? Is it possible to know what is best 10 years from now based on what I know now?

My broad choices are…

  • Keep my head in the sand and let these changes creep up on me and surprise me – the “whatever will be will be” mentality (it could be interesting); or
  • Agonize over these choices without identifying principles and convictions that serve as the shining lights that identify my aspirations; the “whatever feels right at the moment” approach; or
  • Raise my level of consciousness of the things that are most important to both my wife and I; our values, our convictions, and use those as the basis for the incremental decisions we make each week, each month, along the way to where we want to be in 10 years.

Any of these three options work to varying degrees. The third option takes the most work., but it will most likely achieve the best results. This third option takes tons of continuing dialogue with those most affected by the decision…requires an investment of time to read, to visit, to experience different options that seem attractive as to lifestyle and location. But most of all, it requires, collectively, knowing and accepting who you are, what you want, what you can tolerate, and what you can’t. To the extent that these things, these personal desires, are moving targets, you will be inefficient in your quest. I was going to say to the extent that these things are moving targets, you would be wasting your time. But this is not true. Again, I believe the journey is the destination. We can have satisfaction in the journey. In fact, if our focus is laser pinpointed on the target, and all our life’s energies and priorities are focused on achieving that target, what happens when we finally get there, which surely we will with that kind of focus? After a momentary self-congratulation, can you imagine a greater let down? “Now what do I do with my life?” you might ask.

Just for the sake of dreaming, here are some of my current, subject to change, preferences.

  • Retired - year unknown – depends on finances, additional planning, and adjusting expectations for a realistic retirement standard of living, i.e. do we begin lowering our expectations and standards now, or do we wait for the shock of retirement?)
  • In a lower cost of living area than I am in now so resources go further;
  • In a small town near a larger city;
  • Nearer our adult children, by plane or car;
  • With interesting topography and flora and fauna;
  • Near a college or university and a lake or large stream;
  • With the ability to have a small motor home to travel about (this could be a part of the process of seeking out this retirement place);
  • Involved in my church and encouraging others in hope;
  • That my wife is happy in the process and the destination.

Nonetheless, we all want “the best” for our future. But “the best” can be so many different things, and so changeable. Certainly, clear priorities, commitment, consistency, and action are required. The question “where do I see myself in 10 years” raises many other questions. I am looking forward to dwelling on these questions, knowing that, as stated in the previous blog, “we become what we consume”. Stated in other words, we can become what our mind dwells on. This certainly influences where we will be in 10 years. To the extent we really want something we will think about it a lot, dwell on it…every road we take will lead us toward it (note lyrics of Emmy Lou Harris’ “Someone Like You” except substitute a place or circumstance for the lover). The excitement and motivation will continue to grow as our goal comes more clearly into view as the obstacles clear away. Other interests will always compete. But those can be the next priorities. That’s where constant awareness of and dedication to priorities is so important – if the original vision of where you want to be in 10 years is what you really want.

The interesting thing is, we can end up in circumstances totally different than what we planned and still be very happy. Even happier than what we planned. I guess that means happiness can't be planned, just lived.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

We become what we consume...

Are you among those who doubt or deny that what you read, what you watch on TV or at the movies, or the music you listen to has little if any influence on your thoughts, your attitudes, and ultimately, your behavior and character?

I am amazed at people who actually believe that the entertainment they regularly expose themselves to has little or no influence on the person they become. They seem oblivious to an obvious reality.

Doesn't it make sense that those who expose themselves constantly to violence develop violent tendencies? That those who expose themselves constantly to dishonesty tend toward dishonesty?

And conversely, wouldn't it make sense that those who expose themselves constantly to selfless, giving situations tend toward becoming selfless and giving?

I'm not speaking of absolutes here. I'm speaking of human tendencies that result from what we do with our lives, our senses, and our time.

One might then ask, "does that mean if I watch a show featuring terrorists that I'll become a terrorist?" No. But if you spend large amounts of time watching shows depicting terrorism in a positive light, such as from an Islamofacist perspective (or from an America-hating perspective like Newsweek) then you are likely to have a greater tendency to agree with the purposes of terrorism, if not also develop tendencies toward that sociopathic behavior.

Another might suggest that watching anti-social or immoral entertainment is a person's voyeuristic outlet - by having an outlet one could argue a person is less inclined to do such things in real life. This would argue for the thought that billions are spent on advertising so that people will NOT buy the product; that such advertising just serves as an outlet to reduce the desire for the product. Hmmm.

Newsflash: Adverstisers spend billions on advertising because advertising works! People who watch or read advertisements are more likely to buy the product!

Our practice of watching immoral entertainment and denying its effect on us is an addiction just as assuredly as smoking is an addiction. I've spoken with addicted smokers who will actually get defensive and angry at the suggestion that there is a connection between smoking and emphysema as they hack and choke with their smokers' cough.

The addict denies his addiction. In a sense we are all addicted to various things that aren't all that good for us. It is our challenge to identify them and change if we sincerely desire to be a better person, whether the addiction (or strong, controlling habit - take your pick of words) involves the foods we eat, substances we smoke, entertaining we soak in, friends we keep...

It all boils down to life priorities. What do we want to become? Just as "we are what we eat", we become what we consume, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. The book of Proverbs proclaims, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7.)

Some don't care what they become, so whatever life makes of them is OK. Others believe they are so much in control of their lives that the negative, destructive, anti-social entertainment they consume doesn't effect them. They are above it all - uh huh, uh huh.

I have some ocean-front property in Arizona you might be interested in.

The Flushing Rumor: Who Are the Sociopaths?

I'm not sure what's worse: the irresponsible, reactionary, anti-American liberal media, or the irresponsible, reactionary, anti-American, Islamofacists. Well, maybe I am sure.

The casual observer of recent news reports and opinion on this topic will note the majority of the blame being heaped on one of our favorite whipping posts, the "liberal media", in this case Newsweek. They, like the crew at CBS, were so caught up in their anti-American predisposition that they took a shread of information and made it into something it wasn't.

The radical, and perhaps even the moderate, Islamists did the same thing. Starting in Afghanistan, thousands (or is it millions) of these otherwise good and kind people are taking an unsubstantiated thread of information and rioting and killing over it. The average shrink in this country would call this behavior extremely psychotic, worthy of one with a diagnosis of an extreme bi-polar disorder. That kind of reactionary behavior would normally get someone put away in prison or a high security mental hospital for a very long time.

So, have we come to expect this severely reactionary behavior from a major portion of the worlds population as "normal" and worthy of tiptoeing around? I think that "norm" is absurd.

As much as I would like to nail liberal media like Newsweek for their sin of bias, the majority of our finger pointing is in the wrong direction. Muslims would like to be known and understood as decent people, yes? Decent people don't riot in the street killing innocent people because an erroneous innuendo ticks them off. That is a sociopathic mental illness. And apparently a lot of them have it.

Click on the heading of this blog for an excellent related article from the National Review.

And from the web site Jihad Watch, here is another observation of the character defect of the "radicals", however many million there happen to be:

And finally, Ann Coulter's pointed comments about Newsweeks' anti-American rot from within:

Monday, May 09, 2005

Self Esteem - Or Moving Deck Chairs on the Titanic?

The title of this post leads to a wonderful article on "self-esteem." Self-esteem is not the end all and be all of improvement in human behavior and success. In fact, it may be just the thing to perpetuate bad habits and failure. In essence, if someone is screwing up, what's the basis for self esteem? Complementing mediocrity perpetuates mediocrity.

The link is a must read for anyone interested in this topic.

Overcoming the Past

A friend of mine and I were discussing our parental responsibilities and compared notes about our efforts at parenthood.

My leaning was to acknowledge that there was always something I could have done better as a parent to give my children a better example, to teach them better, to be more consistent, more loving, more faithful, more prayerful, while not dwelling on my failures in these later years.

His leaning was to acknowledge that no matter how we performed as parents, we did the best we could, and it is the young adult children's responsibility to seek and make the right decisions in the life they now command. He had his own life experience to back up his position. When he was three, his abusive, alcoholic father gave his mother the choice between her three year old son, or her husband. Based on her own insecurities, she chose her husband and abandoned the child.

The child grew up, feeling abandoned, unwanted, defensive, alone, fearful of closeness, aloof from others. Entering adulthood, he made a decision to assume responsibility for his own life. He decided to not allow the past to be his excuse for the future. He knew he was an intelligent being aware of the right things to do, and decided to do them. He learned from this lifelong experience that he could have chosen to go either way...either to remain shackled as a victim of the past, or get on with life, taking responsibility for his own decisions and success.

In reality, both of these leanings are at work. We, as parents, could have done more, but the adult children are responsible for making their own good decisions now. It is a mistake to sabotage their future because of the sins, insecurities, or misfortunes of the past. Sure, our circumstances from our childhood and young adult years help mold what we have become: our fears and worries and likes and dislikes, joys and sorrows. But, with our own efforts, we can change our thinking and our circumstances.

But what if what we can do oursleves is not enough? What if the past is too strong?

One of my new favorite scriptures is "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23) After all we can do. After we do all we can do, and we can do no more ourselves, what are our options as parents or as young adults who have had a less than perfect childhood? If failure is not an option, the only other option is to believe in Christ and be reconciled to God. Allow his grace to transcend our fears about marriage, our fears about relationships, our fears about failing again. Trust in him to carry us over the rough spots and into his love - so we can learn how to love and trust again, after all we can do ourselves.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Example of one of my "callings" at church...

For those who may be interested in what a typical "Sunday School" lesson is like in my church, (and for those daughters who might want to know a little about what their dad studies and teaches in church), I've provided a current example, below. This particular lesson is being taught in the Priesthood meeting during our third hour. It is a lesson from the teachings of the Presidents of the Church. In this instance, this is from the teachings of President McKay, who in 1951, became the ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The heading provides a link to the chapter of his book that my lesson is based on. Here it is. I hope it provides an insight or two...

David O. McKay…
Chapter 9: Overcoming Temptation

Lesson aims:
To understand…

  • What is temptation
  • The implications of premortality and postmortality
  • Practical ways of overcoming

What are the major forms of temptation that come to each of us as discussed by President McKay? (Page 82)

What are some examples of each of these forms of temptation?

Temptations of appetite or passion: [Ask others to give examples]

A yielding to pride, fashion, or vanity:

A desire for worldly riches or power and dominion over lands or earhly possessions of men [or over other people].

Why are we tempted? Why do we have all these choices?

Part of the answer lies in the reason why the wisdom of God fixed a veil between our premortality and this life: [This part is not in the KcKay chapter. But I find the purpose of the premortal life, and the hope for the postmortal life particularly helpful to the topic of this lesson, so I discuss it.]

Elder Maxwell explained:

“…mercifully, the veil is there. It is fixed by the wisdom of God for our good. It is no use being impatient with the Lord over that reality, for it is clearly a condition to which we agreed so long ago…Without the veil, we would lose that precious insulation which would constantly interfere with our mortal probation and maturation. Without the veil, our brief mortal walk in a darkening world would lose its meaning – for one would scarcely carry the flashlight of faith at noonday and in the presence of the Light of the World. Without the veil, we could not experience the gospel of work and the sweat of our brow. If we had the security of having already entered into God’s rest, certain things would be unneeded…”

Elder Orson Pratt answered this question this way:

“…if we had all our preexistent knowledge accompanying us into this world, show to our Father in the heavens and to the heavenly host that we would be in all things obedient….in order that we may prove ourselves before the heavens obedient and faithful in all things, we have to begin at the very first principles of knowledge, and be tried from knowledge to knowledge and from grace to grace, until, like our elder brother, we finally overcome and triumph over all our imperfections, and receive with him the same glory that he inherits, which glory he had before the world was.”

How do these statements explain to you why we are given temptations in our darkness of understanding – behind the veil?

[Consider the reasons for our mission on earth without knowing our "history."]

So this explains why we are tempted. Now why is it important that we overcome temptation?

To please Heavenly Father…
But why?
How does this desire to please God affect what happens to us in our postmortal life?

What are the two states or conditions after our mortal life but before resurrection?

Paradise and prison.

What is experienced in each state? A partial judgement. Quoting Victor Ludlow about this early phase of our postmortal state, he observes:

“When an angel visited and taught him, Alma received later insights about the period directly after death. He recorded: “The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow…The spirits of the wicked…shall be cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this [is] a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Alma 40:12-14).

“Thus a partial judgment occurs after death as people enter the world of spirits – the righteous to a state of rest and peace; the wicked to a state of darkness and fear. These two states are called paradise and prison, ad we remain in this spirit world in either state until our resurrection. Eventually, each of us will enter one of these two postmoral existences. Since the state we find ourselves in is dependent upon the way we live, a preview of both states may help us decide how to conduct our lives.”

And a preview of both states may help motivate us to resist and overcome temptation.

To recap:

We have discussed three types of temptation…
We discussed why we are tempted…
We discussed a motivating influence in overcoming temptation…

Now let’s focus on ways of seeking assistance in overcoming temptation. What are some tools and principles that can help us?

Resist temptation. (James 4:7)
Decide who you will serve; maintain that as a steadfast principle of life

Assimilate God’s word. (Matthew 4:3-4)
Let His word permeate your personality and attitude; leave no room for the opposite.

Don't listen to fools. (Matthew 4:6-7)
Along with this is the principle of association, who our friends are, what we read, how we entertain ourselves, and don't waste on talents being provoked into senseless acts…

Do not place the temptations in a higher status than God. (Matthew 4:8-11)
Keep reevaluating, realigning, and reasserting priorities based on your principles.

Live the gospel; put others first. (Matthew 16:25)
Remember what President Hinckley said is the symbol of our faith.

Do not believe that you have overcome and are above temptation McKay page 87, 5th paragraph beginning with “All good things…”

“All good things require effort. That which is worth having will cost part of your physical being, your intellectual power, and your soul power – “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” But you have to seek, you have to knock. On the other hand, sin entices, it allures. You do not have to put forth effort…It is like the billboard advertising attracting you to drink and to smoke. It is like the message that comes into your very homes with the television and radio…Evil seeks you, and it requires effort and fortitude to combat it. But truth and wisdom are gained only by seeking, by prayer, and by effort.”

When are we most vulnerable to temptation. We are most vulnerable when we are preoccupied with our greatest pleasures and preoccupied with our greatest disappointments and doldrums. These are the times when we should pray most -- pray to Heavenly Father to lead us away from temptation and pray to thank Him for what He has given us, for what He promises us, and for His divine protection and guidance in the circumstance we find ourselves in.