Sunday, October 26, 2014

The 'mark of the beast' has already arrived. Can the Antichrist be far behind? It's time to beware!

Nine Scary New Technologies That
Big Brother Wants to Implant Inside You
by Rev. Paul J. Bern

The world we live in is finally starting to catch up with the book of Revelation in the back of the Bible. Thousands of years ago, God declared through His prophets that in the last days there would be an explosion of knowledge, and that the sealed books given to the prophet Daniel would be opened. "But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many shall go here and there to increase knowledge." Daniel 12:4 He also said that as this was happening, a man of dark countenance would rise and deceive the whole world. As you read this, we stand poised on the razor's edge of prophetical history. One group, the blood-bought redeemed of the Lord Jesus Christ, wait in anticipation of the Blessed Hope found in Titus 2:13, as it is written: "... while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Everyone else is unwittingly waiting for the Man of Sin, the Antichrist in the flesh, to step out of the shadows and onto the world stage. Our question to you is this - which group are you in? "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name." Revelation 13:16,17

Implantable everything is right around the corner, there is no stopping it. Wearables will have their moment in the sun, but they're simply a transition technology. Technology will move from existing outside our bodies to residing inside us. That's the next big frontier. Here are nine signs that implantable tech is here now, growing rapidly, and that it will be part of your life (and your body) in the near future.

1. Implantable smartphones
Sure, we're virtually connected to our phones 24/7 now, but what if we were actually connected to our phones? That's already starting to happen. Last year, for instance, artist Anthony Antonellis had an RFID chip embedded in his arm that could store and transfer art to his handheld smartphone. But what takes the place of the screen if the phone is inside you? Techs at Autodesk are experimenting with a system that can display images through artificial skin. Or the images may appear in your eye implants. Researchers are experimenting with embedded sensors that turn human bone into living speakers. Other scientists are working on eye implants that let an image be captured with a blink and transmitted to any local storage (such as that arm-borne RFID chip)
2. Healing chips
Right now, patients are using cyber-implants that tie directly to smartphone apps to monitor and treat diseases. A new bionic pancreas being tested at America’s Boston University, for instance, has a tiny sensor on an implantable needle that talks directly to a smartphone app to monitor blood-sugar levels for diabetics. Scientists in London are developing swallowable capsule-sized circuits that monitor fat levels in obese patients and generate genetic material that makes them feel "full". It has potential as an alternative to current surgery or other invasive ways to handle gross obesity. Dozens of other medical issues from heart murmurs to anxiety have implant/phone initiatives under way.

3. Cyber pills that talk to your doctor
Implantables won’t just communicate with your phone; they’ll chat up your doctor, too. In a project named Proteus, after the eensy body-navigating vessel in the film Fantastic Voyage, a British research team is developing cyber-pills with microprocessors in them that can text doctors directly from inside your body. The pills can share (literally) inside info to help doctors know if you are taking your medication properly and if it is having the desired effect.

4. Bill Gates' implantable birth control
The Gates Foundation is supporting an MIT project to create an implantable female compu-contraceptive controlled by an external remote control. The tiny chip generates small amounts of contraceptive hormone from within the woman's body for up to 16 years. Implantation is no more invasive than a tattoo. And, "The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family.", said Dr Robert Farra of MIT. Gives losing the remote a whole new meaning.

5. Smart tattoos
Tattoos are hip and seemingly ubiquitous, so why not smart, digital tattoos that not only look cool, but can also perform useful tasks, like unlocking your car or entering mobile phone codes with a finger-point? Researchers at the University of Illinois have crafted an implantable skin mesh of computer fibers thinner than a human hair that can monitor your body's inner workings from the surface. A company called Dangerous Things has an NFC chip that can be embedded in a finger through a tattoo-like process, letting you unlock things or enter codes simply by pointing. A Texas research group has developed microparticles that can be injected just under the skin, like tattoo ink, and can track body processes.

6. Brain-computer interface
Having the human brain linked directly to computers is the dream (or nightmare) of sci-fi. But now, a team at Brown University called BrainGate is at the forefront of the real-world movement to link human brains directly to computers for a host of uses. As the BrainGate website says, "using a baby aspirin-sized array of electrodes implanted into the brain, early research from the BrainGate team has shown that the neural signals can be ‘decoded' by a computer in real-time and used to operate external devices." Chip maker Intel predicts practical computer-brain interfaces by 2020. Intel scientist Dean Pomerleau said in a recent article, "Eventually people may be willing to be more committed to brain implants. Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts."

7. Meltable bio-batteries
One of the challenges for implantable tech has been how to get power to devices tethered inside or floating around in human bodies. You can't plug them in. You can't easily take them out to replace a battery. A team at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is working on biodegradable batteries. They generate power inside the body, transfer it wirelessly where needed, and then simply melt away. Another project is looking at how to use the body’s own glucose to generate power for implantables. Think the potato battery of grammar school science, but smaller and much more advanced.

8. Smart dust
Perhaps the most startling of current implantable innovations is smart dust, arrays of full computers with antennas, each much smaller than a grain of sand, that can organize themselves inside the body into as-needed networks to power a whole range of complex internal processes. Imagine swarms of these nano-devices, called motes, attacking early cancer or bringing pain relief to a wound or even storing critical personal information in a manner that is deeply encrypted and hard to hack. With smart dust, doctors will be able to act inside your body without opening you up, and information could be stored inside you, deeply encrypted, until you unlocked it from your very personal nano-network.

9. The verified self
Implantables hammer against social norms. They raise privacy issues and even point to a larger potential dystopia. This technology could be used to ID every single human being, for example. Already, the US military has serious programs afoot to equip soldiers with implanted RFID chips, so keeping track of troops becomes automatic and worldwide. Many social critics believe the expansion of this kind of ID is inevitable. Some see it as a positive: improved crime fighting, universal secure elections, a positive revolution in medical information and response, and never a lost child again. Others see the perfect Orwellian society: a Big Brother who, knowing all and seeing all, can control all. And some see the first big, fatal step toward the Singularity, that moment when humanity turns its future over to software.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

8 Ideas For Turning America Around

The USA Is Becoming A Failed State: 8 Simple Steps to Turn It Around
by Rev. Paul J. Bern

As I look around me today, I see the United States of America as a failing country. There are just too many things going wrong with our country today. Failing to adequately tackle the problems in our economic system: Failing to reflect on the deep flaws in our system of government: Failing to repair our image abroad: Failing in education, in health care, in human rights, in religious tolerance. In fact, we look a lot like the USSR in 1990 - except with more big-screen TV’s. And we all know what happened to them. And so I have written this article listing what I view as the worst problems, followed by some helpful suggestions for solutions to the mess that we Americans find ourselves in today.

You may well take issue with my central contention. You may say that we are prosperous because our GDP is so large. Or that our government works properly (though I don't really expect many of either political persuasion to seriously consider that notion), or even that we have a great health care system? I respect anyone's right to those opinions – freedom of expression is one of the few things our country hasn't managed to screw up in the last couple of hundred years. But in every case, the data backs me up. Allow me to try and substantiate my claims first, before suggesting a few possible solutions.

First, let's take a look at the economy: in 2009 alone, 131 banks failed. The 2008 bailout granted billions of dollars – with strings attached – to private companies who then used the money to short-sell the market, make countless billions more, hand the government back its money (removing the strings) and pay out lavish bonuses while Americans lost their jobs. It is estimated that by 2016 our national debt will exceed one year's Gross Domestic Product. Meanwhile, the median family income is less today than it was a decade ago.

Our government, meanwhile, is no longer run by competing ideologies but by corporate interests (I include both parties in this category since both are moneymaking enterprises). There are good Republicans who would prefer that your cancer-stricken child had health insurance. There are responsible Democrats who are horrified by our country's spend-now pay-later approach to finance. But since they are beholden to a higher power – the almighty dollar – they have convinced themselves to vote with their wallets, not with their conscience. At the Federal level, AT&T and Goldman Sachs have contributed over $75M over the last 20 years, and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, plus the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, aren't far behind.

Across the world America's reputation is tarnished, perhaps irrevocably, and yet we find our President – in the words of former vice-president Dick Cheney – following the 'Bush Doctrine' of a surge in forces occupying a foreign country with seemingly little chance of categorical success. We are seen as an economic and religious bully, and we don't seem to care. We vilify our political enemies for their human rights records, and import cheap goods from countries we know to exploit child labor. We are, to much of the world, intolerable hypocrites.

Apologists for the American health care system, not to mention 'Obamacare', will continue to defend those systems at all costs, claiming that so-called 'socialist' states such as England, France and Sweden (which, incidentally, is actually a constitutional monarchy governed by a center-right coalition) kill their citizens at will in order to save money, or make you wait thirty years for a kidney transplant. Deflecting (especially with such utter garbage) doesn't make our system any better, and it's always bad business practice to spend too much time putting down the competition. When our own kids can't get health care because mom and dad have no money to pay, something is terribly wrong. Any anthropologist will tell you that we took care of our young when we were Neanderthals – so what's changed? For one in six of our citizens to be uninsured is a national disgrace. We deny basic human rights to our own people! Whom you choose to marry is not a matter for the government to decide, it is a matter for the individual (“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord”). So it is for what religion to follow, if any (although I will continue to vigorously preach pure Christianity as the only true way to eternal salvation). Some may not like our choices, but they are inalienable rights and you should be free to exercise them as you will. Our US Constitution says you can (search: first amendment).

As far back as 2005, statistics showed that hate crimes against Muslims were increasing 50% year-on-year (although one 2013 report shows that the numbers are falling again). Even so, the FBI reported that in 2008 hate crimes against homosexuals had increased 9% from 2007, and those motivated by religion had risen by 11%. This is outrageous in the extreme as far as I am concerned. The track we have taken over the last fifty years has been the wrong one (I use that figure deliberately - the USA in the 'fifties was probably the happiest and most prosperous state that ever existed). We have let corruption, greed, fame, intolerance and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge our problems almost ruin our nation. We are failing to live the American Dream, and if we don't start now our children will never even know what it was. I have a couple of fairly radical ideas. I'm sure you have some of your own, and I welcome them in the comments below. I have chosen not to expound on what I personally think the consequences of these actions would be, as I would be diving headlong into speculation that could easily (and should be) challenged.

1. Immediately and totally stop all corporations from giving money to political parties.

2. Acknowledge that politics and religion do not mix well, for good or for bad, and that the most powerful religious leaders tend to be the worst ambassadors for their faith.

3. Make a promise to our children: you will be well-educated, and you will be treated when you are sick.

4. Change the game. Capitalism is broken and must be replaced. Any time you have less than 1% of America's population controlling the upper 99% of the cash flow, some legislated redistribution is clearly called for (or maybe an executive order to that effect). We can start with worker owned businesses instead of shareholder ownership. Public business ownership will still exist, but smaller – such as a cooperative – will be better in many cases.

5. Take a page out of the Bible and just treat everyone else with some genuine respect. If it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for you. Leave the gays alone. Leave the blacks alone. Leave the Muslims or the Christians alone. When respect departs, enmity is the next train along.

6. Pay for it. Child labor is inexcusable. If it costs an extra ten bucks, or extra hundred bucks, to buy something that was made by willing workers, pay it. And the same goes for government. You want health care? Pay for it. More troops? Pay for them. Tax breaks for corporations? Not a chance, they have way too many of those already.

7. Form coalitions based on issues, not parties. Not every NRA member is anti-abortion. Not every tree-hugging hippie thinks that owning a gun is wrong. When a party tells you how you should think, and what issues should be thrown together into what bucket, you're a lot closer to communism than you think you are.

8. Buy American whenever possible. From what I can tell, the great empires of yore – from Egypt to Rome to England – were 'first-to-market' with some manufacturing innovation or other, that led to more innovations, and greater strides, that in turn led to them becoming the largest producers of goods in their region. This happened to the USA from the dawn of the twentieth century until the 'fifties. Then we began to transform into a service economy, just as those others did. Producing goods is what is making China become a world powerhouse, and if we are to compete, we must produce our own. American goods are always equal to the best even though they are almost never the cheapest, but if we are to reinstate our status as the world's greatest country, we need to start by supporting our own businesses and workers.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Malala and the Nobel Prize: Setting the standard for the world

Building on Malala's foundation: Jesus and all God's children
by Rev. Paul J. Bern

As I scrolled through the morning news on my computer Friday, it gave me pause when I saw who had won the Nobel Prize for Peace. The Web news said it all: 

(provided courtesy of CNN) You have to love Malala. The 17-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls' education who, on Friday, became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize told "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart last year what she would do if she were confronted again by a member of the Taliban. 'I'll tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well,' she said. 'I'll tell him, 'That's what I want to tell you; now do what you want.' ' This from a girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. For exercising her right to go to school. Malala Yousafzai was only 14 years old at the time -- and just 11 when she started blogging anonymously for the BBC about the struggles of life in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Stewart's response was priceless as well: 'I know your father is backstage and he's very proud of you, but would he be mad if I adopted you?' It's not just him. The world has adopted Malala.”

We don't just love Malala. She has captured our hearts and minds. A teenage girl who has the internal fortitude to say what we adults can't – or won't – “Why not just stop all the fighting? Why not just end all the killing?” The solution is so simple, and it's been right in front of our faces all this time, but humankind has yet to successfully implement it. If a teenage girl from Pakistan can understand this without our assistance, having apparently weighed the significance of world peace and everything that it implies, then why can't the rest of us? Of, sure, we maintain peace throughout the world by way of various treaties and demilitarized zones, but things would come unglued across the world if all that framework were to be destroyed somehow. Upon further contemplation, it occurs to me that there is ample Bible scripture to back up the achievements and winning spirit of Malala and others like her. (For example, the accolades of King David: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise”. Psalm 8, v2). By her words and deeds, Malala merits our praises as we praise God for her and what she is doing with her life. By the same token, she and others like her praise God by the way they live their lives, and by the example they set for others to follow. In another way, winning the Nobel peace prize puts many of the grown-ups of the world to shame. Malala wins the Nobel Prize while many of the rest of us are still shooting at each other. This is mostly occurring in large American cities like Chicago, Houston, Detroit and Atlanta, but this phenomenon has begun to work its way into rural communities in much the same way. Malala has put us all to shame by her example. Looks like we Americans have some catching up to do. Like how to live in peace with our neighbors, for instance.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Matt 11, 25-26). How this eludes us! How do we get along with each other? By following Malala's example, which is actually the example of Christ, since Malala was shot in the head and yet was brought back to life (“better love has no man, than to lay down his life for his friends”) which may very well involve the shedding away of our human pride, our egos and ambitions so we can all help to make the world a much better place without worrying about who gets the credit for the success. The Bible says it perfectly in Matthew's gospel: “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles themselves like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matt. 18: 2-5) Malala never sought attention or tried to be in the spotlight, and in so doing made her message that much more authentic. She was not expecting to get the prize, and when she was first told she had received it, she reportedly thanked those who brought her the news and then returned to her classes. Now that's what I call a good example of staying focused, and knowing what is the most important! It's all about priorities, people! This 17 year old young lady has a lot to teach us all, myself included.

Let the children of all ages, from infants on up to 50-something kids like myself, come to Jesus unhindered and withholding no reservations about it. “... Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. Mark 10: 14-15 If anyone calls themselves a Christian, and yet cannot approach God with the wide-eyed wonderment of a little child, they will never make it into heaven. This is a hard saying, it was even difficult to write, but it is the truth. And, for me to continue to call myself a Christian, and an ambassador for Christ, and a soldier in God's army without making it a point to stand up for real truth and a genuine form of justice, that would make me a hypocrite. And I refuse to even consider becoming that. No way.

Education and equality are basic human rights. I would define education as being the complete and unhindered access to knowledge for the purpose of self-improvement, of wishing to become someone more than we currently are, or to progress or advance professionally. Equality is not only a basic human right, it is also Scriptural, as it is written by the apostle Paul: “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn your plenty will supply what they need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he that gathered little did not have too little'.” (2nd Corinthians 8, verses 13-15) In the same way education should be free, not reserved exclusively for those whose parents can afford the tuition, or for those unfortunate students who “qualify” for a series of usurious student loans to pay for their education, only to be strapped with debt for much of the rest of their lives. The same thing goes for health care. Just put everyone in the country from the highest echelons of government and the military all the way down to some poor disabled man or woman in a wheelchair on Medicare, then eliminate everything else.

Malala is a true pioneer. She has won the Nobel Prize for Peace at a time when American girls her age are looking forward to their senior proms and the end of high school. If this young lady is what the future of our youth looks like, the future will be very promising indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Occupy Wall Street Has Set Up Shop In Hong Kong. I wonder what took it so long?

I Was Just Wondering Why More Christians Don't “Occupy” or Count Themselves Among “the 99%”
by Rev. Paul J. Bern

In light of all the recent news reports about the rioting in Hong Kong and the civil war in Syria, I have recently concluded that either an Occupy-style political movement, or the formation of active armed militias in numerous countries including the US, will be the next logical step in the evolution of these separate but related events. A more illogical step would be an internal conflict as bad as Syria's has become, provided that the Hong Kong police and military units don't foolishly force the hands of the protesters to take more drastic action. The protesters will demonstrate peacefully provided that they are allowed to do so. But if not, then no one knows for sure (as of this writing) what will happen next. This bears a striking resemblance to the Occupy Wall Street and “the 99%” Movements worldwide. For example, when “Occupy DC” got started on Oct. 6, 2011 at Freedom Plaza (I was there selling books for the first three days), it was a nearly entirely peaceful mass demonstration. It could have turned into a confrontation with authorities, but it didn't. But there is one thing I have noticed since becoming a part of this movement three years ago. Being involved with a couple of different ministries besides this one, it's been my experience that trying to get a conservative American Christian to join the Occupy movement is like trying to persuade an orthodox Jew to convert to Islam. My considerable research on the Web and with local ministries here in Atlanta tells me that conservative Christians from other nations are far more politically liberal than their American counterparts.

Why is there such resistance by conservative American Christians to the Occupy movement? What are they so afraid of? After all, aren't those 99% who are involved in the Occupy movement trying to speak out for those in need while opposing an economic system based on greed? Why would any conservative American Christian not want to join a group that tells us that our future depends on how well we cooperate with each other? The same thing goes for the “We Are The 99%” movement, which I chronicled in my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” (yes, it's still in print). I also can't imagine why any rational person would have a problem with people who are protesting against firmly entrenched economic inequality and endless wars. And why would any American Christian not want to join a group that promotes a more participatory and balanced democracy than what we have now? Jesus preached against social and economic injustice, and so we Christians should be doing the same.

Lately, some Leftist writers and social media movers and shakers have attributed the political convictions of American conservative Christians to their faith, as if faith in God and opposition to social or economic injustice are mutually exclusive of one another. I insist that quite the reverse is true, that in fact those who care for the poor and needy, or for the sick or the hospitalized, or for the incarcerated, the institutionalized, and the homeless – the very least of humanity – it is they who do God's will while here on earth, not hoarding for themselves but ministering and empathizing for all of the above! It is they who maintain their only source of faith and grace as being none other than Jesus Christ himself. But what we have instead is a cadre of people mixing their man-made religion with extremely conservative politics for personal gain instead of worshiping the one true Almighty God. The majority of such Christians, however, are not American, which should give us a hint as to why many conservative American Christians are not Occupying today.

The reason for why they are not occupying is not because of their faith but because of something else. But what would that something else be?Namely, that when one is raised as a conservative Christian in America, there are certain associations made with that “brand” of Christian faith. One such association is made between American patriotism and Christianity. We were taught since when we were born that our nation was founded as a Christian nation by Christian Founding Fathers. Therefore, the American way, at least back when America was still a Christian nation, is the Christian way. To criticize our Founding Fathers is, by extension, to ridicule Christianity and Christ. Protesting against any part of this Christian nation of ours, then, must be tantamount to attacking the Gospel and therefore constitutes betrayal of one's country as well as a great sin against God for which there will be sure retribution.

Any attempt at reconciling our nation's history with the notion that America was ever a Christian nation places enormous demands on one's logical skills. While it is true that many of our founding fathers were Christians, the genocide and ethnic cleansing of North America's indigenous people combined with our nation's abuse and persecution of Black Americans, from long before the start of the US Civil War up until the 1964 Civil Rights Act, along with our emerging empire and use of dictators as proxy rulers over other countries, make it problematic to reconcile America's history with Jesus Christ. And even when our history is partially acknowledged by the conservative American Christians, there seems to be an emotional disconnect that protects such Christians from the dissonance that would otherwise be clanging forth. That is, we might acknowledge some of the abuses in the past, but can we still seriously call ourselves a Christian nation and a "city on a hill" without batting an eye? In the end, what patriotic American Christians are saying to the world is that, despite the evidence, they must feel good about themselves and what they have accomplished. It is considered to be the holy imperative of political conservatism in America, Western Europe, Japan, and yes, Hong Kong, where there is rioting in the streets over this very thing. Well-to-do right-wing Christians demand their Constitutional right to self-exalt, forgetting Jesus' warning about this very thing when He said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but they who humble themselves will be exalted”.

And what goes for American Patriotism, goes for capitalism. After all, since capitalism is our economic system and we are a Christian nation, logic seems to dictate that capitalism has become God's preferred economy, as if God needed an economic system in which to operate. We supplement this reason with some common sense, reasoning that since the greatest prosperity in the history of the world has been enjoyed by Americans and we practice capitalism, capitalism must also be God's economy. Even if such an argument were true, it still only goes so far. That is, we as a nation have experienced some of the greatest periods of prosperity in the history of the world. But there is a problem lurking in the shadows. For just as we must acknowledge the high level of prosperity we have enjoyed, we must also ask a very damning question. That question is, when in the history of capitalism has it prospered without exploiting large numbers of people? Many times those who were exploited were hidden from the view of most Americans though their invisibility does not contradict the fact that they were exploited.

And so what originally caused the Occupy and the “99%” Movements to emerge in 2011 continues to this day unabated. The fact is that far too large of a percentage of Americans have now become the victims of the same capitalist economy that they helped create. All of our hard work was for nothing. In fact, it has backfired on us all in the worst possible way by making homeless people out of formerly middle class workers. Even people with college or university degrees of various kinds are having trouble finding work, particularly here in Atlanta. This has angered a whole lot of people, and rightfully so since we, the workers who have been keeping things moving daily, are on the receiving end of economic and social injustices every time we turn around. These Occupy/99% Movements are transforming American patriotism and public dissent by opposing endless wars for profit while challenging capitalism by insisting that people and their needs have priority over those same profits. Suggesting that being patriotic includes being capitalistic, which is conservative Christianity's true religion, has spread more evil than good. As before, that's because of the close association many conservative Christians have made between both patriotism and capitalism. They that do this are forgetting the historical reasons for Jesus' crucifixion. He preached against organized government, which infuriated the Romans, and against organized religion, which enraged the Jewish ruling council of that time. If Jesus came back today and walked into a mega-church unannounced, one of two things are guaranteed to occur. Either the conservative Christians, “hawks”, Evangelicals, and Charismatics would crucify him all over again, or the entire church would fall out of their pews face down on the floor, crying and begging for mercy. That's who the real Jesus Christ is!

But there is still another reason why conservative American Christians have still not joined the Occupy movement. That is because the Occupy movement is seen as a protest movement that does not respect authority. From an early age, conservative American Christians were injected with spiritual steroids when being taught to respect authority, mostly from Romans 13 while ignoring the Four Gospels. It is one thing to learn to respect authority, but it's an entirely different matter to be compelled to worship it. To challenge the authorities and the law, as it states in Romans 13: verses 1-5, is to challenge God himself because it is God who has put in charge every authority figure. On the other hand, that command cuts both ways, as it is written in James chapter 5, verses 1-6: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay your workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

We can sometimes have great difficulty in distinguishing between between conservative theologies and conservative politics and between liberal theologies and liberal politics. As a result, some tend to uncritically accept the tenets of conservative politics, not because it is biblical, which it is not, but because it has the conservative label. Likewise others will automatically reject liberal and leftist policies because of their connotation. This knee-jerk acceptance of whatever is conservative and rejection of whatever not conservative is one of the key ingredients that enables authoritarianism. For examples of this we need only look to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Kim Jong Un's North Korea, among numerous others. And just as self-exaltation is the reason why we equate American patriotism and capitalism with Christianity, so self-interest is the reason why we have a hyper regard for those in authority. That self-interest tells us to be good little boys and girls so that those in charge will reward us rather than spank us. And perhaps, it is a desire of some – you know who you are – to remain children that leads us to authoritarianism's embrace over the self-rule that the Occupy and 99% Movements have been practicing. It is the desire to spend more time playing around with what-or-whom-ever than making responsible decisions, from spend more time enjoying our trivial pursuits than being bogged down with the serious issues of life – such as how we relate to each other for the good of all concerned – that causes us to prefer rule by elites over autonomy. The reason why most conservative American Christians won't Occupy isn't because of their faith, it is because of the extra ingredients added to their faith. Meaning, their faith is polluted with worldly things and concerns, another thing Jesus warned us about when he said, “A man cannot serve two masters. He will either cling to one and despise the other, or he will serve the other and reject the former. You cannot serve both God and materialism”.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014