Sunday, December 30, 2018
Unlike Trump and the Government,
the One True God Never Shuts Down
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For a website view, click here :-)
It has happened again. Usually when the federal government shuts down, it's because Congress and the president can't pass a federal budget on time. This time around the shutdown is all about money all right, but never before has there been a shutdown inside the Beltway over a single item within the overall federal budget like there has been over president Trump's border wall. I have seen photos of the 4 “sample walls” president Trump has had constructed along side one another in the southern Arizona desert. You can't even see through them! Some drug cartel could be building a ramp or a ladder on the other side, and the Border Patrol wouldn't be able to see that until people were already coming over the top. This is idiotic!
OK, so let's all visualize this for a minute. Two Border Patrol agents of the USDHS hypothetically spot several men climbing over the top of president Trump's 'wall'. But when they apprehend them, 25 or 50 more come over the top right behind them. The only sure way to stop all those people at once would be to shoot to wound a few, in the hopes of causing the rest to stop where they are out of pure fear of being shot themselves. Unfortunately for the Border Patrol, not to mention any Christian worth his or her salt, they're not allowed to do that unless they are fired on first by one of the migrants. As you may know, that rarely if ever happens.
Moreover, if I were a Border Patrol agent, I wouldn't be able to hold on to that job for very long, because I simply refuse to shoot anyone who presents no danger to myself, nor to anyone else. And I sure as hell couldn't shoot at children, nor could I allow a single one to die while in my custody like ICE and the Border Patrol have. And yet this is exactly what our government is doing. They're murdering children, and this has either got to stop or the American people will be forced to rise up against their own government. In that event, anyone who refuses to rise up against such evil make themselves complicit in these crimes against humanity.
The other aspect to Trump's government shutdown has been the 800,000 US government employees who have been left without a paycheck. Worse yet, some of them are compelled by law to work without pay in such circumstances as this. Imagine what this means to these federal workers! Employees are required by law to work without pay during a government shutdown. That means they can be arrested for not showing up to work unexcused, and the same goes for even trying to quit. So, it is quite evident based on these rather ugly facts that the federal government is not a very nice employer at all. On further thought, it makes me wonder why anyone else would want to work there in the first place. For the “benefits”? I find no 'benefit' whatsoever in being potentially complicit in the slaughter of innocent children who pose no threat to me.
What this means from the employees' point of view is their own government – their employer – can't be trusted to pay them on time because Uncle Sam can't keep his house in order. And, it's all because the government (allegedly) doesn't have enough money to go around. Maybe if the Pentagon wasn't spending all those trillions of dollars in all those clandestine wars being fought overseas, there would be money for a border wall. And even then, we don't want a wall, all we really need is a tall fence. We need border security, granted, but a $5 billion solid concrete wall really is way over the top. A fence made of aluminum bars 16 to 20 feet tall with razor wire at the top could be built for a fraction of the $5 billion president Trump is currently demanding, and I'm sure Trump knows that. He's holding out to see how much he can squeeze out of Congress, but I doubt that the Lord approves of the way the president is going about it.
By laying off 800,000 people, while causing another 400,000 to work uncompensated, Trump has essentially taken the country's workers and management hostage in an effort to gain a political advantage. To sum this up, then, president Trump is being unfaithful to those the government employs, and by extension to the rest of America. The Bible has a lot to say about unfaithfulness. Faithfulness is considered to be a virtue, as the prophet and Psalmist David wrote in Psalms 117:2 – “For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” In comparison, president Trump's faithfulness to pay his workers on time is conditional to his political demands being met. Now that it's been established that Mexico isn't going to pay for the wall at America's southern border, Trump is trying to force his employees to cover the tab instead. This has got to be the ultimate in unfairness in the workplace. Don't get me wrong, president Trump, I admire and respect some of the things you've done or are doing, such as your recent decision to pull out of Syria. But engineering a mass layoff for political advantage really is way too much.
Contrast the government shutdown to what God has said through his prophet David regarding this matter: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalm 145:13) Unlike president Trump, who has to run again in 2020 if he wants 4 more years – and if he wins at the ballot box – God never has to run for reelection. He has ruled and reigned for all eternity, and always will. Only once did 1/3 of the angels challenge his authority, everyone knows what happened to them. Moreover, God remains faithful to each one of us on a personal basis, as the apostle Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinth. 10:13) The word 'you' in this context meant the entire church at Corinth, but it was also meant individually to each member as well.
Again it is written in 1st Thessalonians 5:23-24, “23) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24) The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” As of this writing, with the partial federal shutdown firmly in place, Donald Trump is the last man on the face of the earth who could be called blameless at this point. Not only is he being unfaithful to his employees first, and his constituency second, he has put the entirety of his trustworthiness as Chief Executive into question. What has the Bible said about this? The apostle Paul wrote, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2) In its original context, the apostle Paul was writing about those in charge of churches being trustworthy people of good repute. These words were intended for what Paul called “bishops and overseers”. Interestingly enough, the titles 'pope', 'father' and 'pastor' aren't in the Bible anywhere, but that's another topic for another time.
Although I would be quick to agree that running a country's government is nothing at all like running a nonprofit, the person in charge of that charity – be it a church, a battered women's shelter, or whatever needs to be a faithful and trustworthy individual. This clearly extends to governments, which are supposed to be nonprofit entities but obviously are not (such as $21 trillion missing from the Pentagon, etc). One of the things that define faithfulness is those in charge being faithful to the positions they have been entrusted with by the electorate. This means, among other things, paying your employees on time. So this part of my weekly message is primarily directed at president Trump, but the shutdown in Washington is not all Trump's fault. The rest of the blame lands squarely in the laps of Congress, who have yet to show any willingness whatsoever to negotiate with president Trump in good faith. As of this writing, no such thing has happened, and the government will probably remain shuttered until after the first of the year. While resolve abounds in Washington DC, faithfulness is sorely lacking. Let everyone involved from the president on down get this country running again ASAP, and let's put an end to all this pointless posturing – on both sides!
Monday, December 24, 2018
Sunday, December 23, 2018
Happy Holidays to All the Orphans
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
First of all, merry Christmas and happy new year to all the orphans, wherever you may be. You see, I'm an orphan myself, and I'm in my 60's. There are a lot of us out there. We're called “elder orphans” – people who have outlived most if not all of their relatives, who are estranged from their families, or who aged out of the foster care system like I did as a teenager. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, there are 22.6 million people in the USA alone who currently have this dubious distinction. Twenty two and a half million folks who ain't got nobody, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. It's a harsh reality, but sometimes life can be very harsh indeed. You either learn to roll with the punches, ducking and dodging as best as you can, or you get the living daylights beat out of you. It's all up to you. I know that's not a particularly nice thing to say, but that's the truth. And I love truth.
I am one of those who aged out of the foster care system as a teenager. I started out in life as an orphan, only to wind up in foster care. I was told as a child I was adopted, only to find out decades later that it was a lie. I was told I had been taken away from my birth mother as an infant because I was born “in jail”, to quote the woman who raised me, who I knew as 'mom'. But there came a time when I was in my twenties when I needed a copy of my birth certificate, and when it arrived in the mail I was in for a big surprise. According to my birth certificate, I had been born in a private home and then transported to a hospital. When I confronted my “mom” about this and demanded to know the identity of my birth mother, she refused, saying she and her late husband (my foster-dad died just after my 12th birthday) had 'spent their hard-earned money on me', and that it was “none of your business” who my real mom was. And you think you've got family problems??
So the woman who raised me and myself are permanently, and understandably, estranged. How do I cope with all this? How could anybody cope with even one out of all the things I just mentioned? I tried to find my original identity, but none of the people who lived in the house I was evidently born in were still alive by the time I checked, and the doctor who had attended me at the hospital was also deceased. I registered with a government database in Ohio, the state where I was born, just in case I had any siblings trying to find me, but I never heard back from anybody. So I have drifted through life all alone. I have tried marriage twice, but I was still alone and adrift despite being a head-of-household. My two marriages combined lasted a little over three years. My ultimate solution has been my faith. In fact, my faith is the only thing that has consistently worked for me over the years. That, and I published a book about my experiences in the form of a memoir back in 2014. It's called, “Sole Survivor”, it's still in print, digital or audio format from this link. Writing and publishing that book was very therapeutic for me. It helped me get rid of a lot of old baggage.
So I wrote this piece this week to see how many others I could reach out and help this holiday season. But I'm not going to limit this to just the orphans and those who aged out of the foster care system. If you know your parents and are on good terms with them, you are already ahead of a lot of people in terms of having family. If you have ever received an inheritance from a relative, you're doing better than many. In that case, I would advise that individual or family to use that inheritance to start a small business. In an economic climate where meaningful jobs are so hard to come by, it makes so much more sense to simply hire yourself.
But there are also a surprising number of advantages to being an 'elder orphan'. First of all, I have almost nobody to buy Christmas gifts for, excluding a few friends from the church where I play keyboards every Sunday. That's a major money and time saver for me and others like me. There is no one to cook for me, but I know exactly what I want something to taste like before I ever start cooking it, so everything I make on the stove or in the oven turns out perfect every time. There is no one's birthdays to remember, and there's no 'moochy' relative sleeping on my couch and eating my food. I get up when I want, usually around 8 or 9AM, and I go to sleep when I want, usually by 11PM or so. I know that's over 9 hours sleep per night, but since I survived a stroke I had back in 2006, my body seems to need 9 hours of sleep. I sometimes get up to an early alarm, but I can no longer do that on a daily basis. When I do get up to an early alarm, it's usually because I have a medical appointment or because it's a church or grocery day.
Another big advantage to being a 'senior orphan' is the independence. When you go through life without any family as I have, you wind up being a fiercely independent person somewhat like, or very similar to, myself. No one is nagging me about anything. Nobody bosses me around, and I don't take any crap from anyone, either. I've always functioned much better and was much happier when I was self-employed. Trying to work for somebody else always was a chore, and I never seemed to fit into the office work environment no matter how hard I tried. Orphans are like that, you know. A lot of business owners are orphans. Unfortunately, so are a lot of homeless people, and so are may of those who commit suicide. They have no one to help them through the pain of what they are experiencing, no one to ease their anguish. Without a Higher Power to turn to, they simply give up. This can happen in any number of ways. For example, here in Atlanta where I live, there are car wrecks involving wrong-way drivers on the interstate highways every so often. According to the CDC, at least one third of these head-on crashes turn out to be suicides.
I would urge anyone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts to call the national suicide hot-line at 1-800-273-8255. Seriously, do it right now if this is you. You can read the rest of this later. But for everyone I wish to say it's not so bad to be stuck being alone. Being alone and independent means you are free from many of the encumbrances of everyday life, especially family issues. It means you have no kids to raise. It costs $250,000.00 to raise a child from their birth until they finish the first 12 grades of school. Think about how much money you're saving. Another advantage to being an 'elder orphan' is not having a dangerous ex-spouse to obtain restraining orders against to protect yourself and your kids. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Survivors of foster-care and/or spousal or parental abuse do not get to skate away from such circumstances without a hefty toll being taken by life and that of living it. It is common for survivors to suffer from PTSD as I do. Trauma, especially during childhood, can be a trigger for mental illness, and I am a survivor of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder myself. But mental illness is something that can be managed with certain medications, and I am happy to report that I'm in my 12th year of recovery, and I never so much as looked back once. Nor do I regret being an 'elder orphan'. I relish my independence, go at my own pace, and I live the simple life. It's far from being a really prosperous one, but I've made a lot of money before, and riches tend to be a trap and a headache. But at the end of the day, for those of us who are the survivor of survivors like myself, the term 'orphaned elder' has a nice ring to it. To me at least, the word 'orphan' is the sound of freedom.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Worried About Your Investments?
Place All Your 'Stock' In Other People Instead
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
I stream videos on my computer in the evening when I'm not busy with the on-line ministry God has entrusted me with. I don't bother with cable or satellite TV, they want too much money for those subscriptions, especially the broadband providers like Comcast and Charter. One of the social media outlets I use is You Tube (not a plug or an ad here, OK?), where there exists a proliferation of survivalist and/or “prepping” channels, as well as many more devoted to hawking the benefits of investing in silver and gold instead of stocks, bonds, futures or commodities, etc. The common theme of all these videos is that the US dollar is going to crash due to its impending replacement as the world's reserve currency, most likely by the Chinese Yuan.
So the idea behind these videos I've watched (I'm not naming names) is to get out of the stock and bond markets altogether, which may not be such a bad idea. But their 'solutions' are not so hot, if you ask me. Take the money from the liquidation of your investments, they're saying, and put it all into silver, gold, and digital currencies, of which Bitcoin is probably the most well-known. Still other videos, who have these self-appointed doomsday specialists as their paid sponsors, urge their viewers to stock up on weapons, ammunition, water and nonperishable food, plus things like first aid supplies and barter items. It's not that I find anything wrong with their ideas, but what disturbs me about this is that most of these purveyors of gloom and doom are Christians. If they are in fact Christian, then why don't they read their Bibles? Yes, I know there is much written about the End Times, or Last Days, throughout the Bible. The Book of Revelation, the prophets Daniel, Ezekiel and Zechariah, the prophetic chapters of Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 in the Gospels – all have much to say. The problem I'm having is that the above Scriptures are only a part of the story, and the remainder isn't being emphasized enough.
The gold and silver everyone is hoarding will crash, right along with the currencies that they are traded in, as it is written in Ezekiel chapter 7, verse 19: “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin.” In times past when disasters struck, the first thing people would take as they were fleeing would be their silver and gold. It was the one thing they could use for a universal currency. But this time around, when the debt-based economies fail that set the price of precious metals and other related commodities (such as crude oil or natural gas), the value of any given commodity will also evaporate. The only thing that precious metals and natural resources and related commodities will be good for at that point will be for bartering purposes.
All right then, you may say, if gold and silver will have no value during the End Times, and assuming Ezekiel was right (which he was!), then what will be left? Food and water? Guns and ammunition? How about fuel, weapons, or tools? Granted, all of these have value during good times and bad, but these things are not all there is to life, nor to preparedness. There is one thing that is far more valuable than all of the above, and that is the human soul, as it is written in the books of Moses: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7: 6) Now the word “holy” means to be set aside, or to be held in reserve, for only the most special of occasions. That's how God views us – we are his “treasured possessions”!
Silver and gold have no value in God's sight, because God has already made them both. It would be like expecting Henry Ford to buy himself a Ford Model A when he already had a Lincoln or two. In a somewhat similar way, we can't expect God to value gold or silver more than the human soul, as the apostle Peter explained so well: “18) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19) but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20) He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21) Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 22) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1st Peter 1: 18-23)
Verses 18 and 19 explain what I'm trying to say here so perfectly that I will simply move on with little comment, except to say that instead of investing in silver and gold or digital currencies – all of which are tied to the US dollar, either directly or indirectly – should be supplanted with an immense investment in human capital. Square One of that people-investment should be the salvation of Christ, who gives us all our sense of worth by being purchased with his blood, which he shed on a cross. No silver or gold was required. “22) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” We are to obey Jesus and follow his commandments because Jesus Christ is truth personified. We have been born again as imperishable, whereas before we had all received a death sentence.
I have one more thought about the fruitlessness of investments here in the Last Days, and it comes from the apostle Paul: “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.” (1st Corinthians 7: 23) If the blood of Jesus is the only real investment that will still hold its value after our lives are over, investing in gold, silver, Bitcoin, antiques, collectibles and anything else you can think of will ultimately turn out to be a waste of time and money. The only worthwhile investments are the giving of our hearts and minds, first to Christ because he has died for each of us, and secondly to each other. In both cases, they are to be done unconditionally and without reservation. That means we are charged with the duty of loving those who are unlike us, such as those with different skin color, or of a different religion. So if you aspire to be a big-time investor, let's start investing in the most precious commodity of all – the human soul.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Seven Reasons Why Capitalism,
As We Know It, Has Run Its Course
Free book excerpt #33 from, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition” by Rev. Paul J. Bern
As world trade continues its anemic 1.2% average annual growth rate, politicians in most industrial countries, and particularly in the US, have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the alleged ongoing economic recovery. The government wants us to think the Great Recession is over, and that we're on "the road to recovery," while the American people and other nations look on skeptically. The ugly truth is that more and more people have lost confidence in – and consequently no longer trust – the federal government. To make matters worse, 2015 turned out to be the year when the American public lost confidence and trust in law enforcement (think Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Gardner in New York, and that's just for starters). The street protests in Ferguson, New York, Chicago, L.A., Atlanta, Baltimore and elsewhere attest to the authenticity of that mistrust, which continues to get progressively worse. Below are seven important social phenomena that point to a more realistic economic and political outlook for 2019. Let's start where it matters most by beginning with the economy.
My Seven Reasons Why Capitalism Can't Recover
1) The Central Banks are clueless. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to keep their debt-based economies going are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get much lower. And because cheap money wasn't working, the printing press was turned up a notch, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing -- injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war. Most recently, the Fed is raising rates at the insistence of investors and retirees, who have been seeing zero income from their “investments” for many years. This is bound to end disastrously one way or the other.
2) Trump's Trade Wars. For a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets are won by devaluing currencies (accomplished in the U.S. by quantitative easing), installing protectionist measures (so that a nation's corporations have monopoly dominance over the nation's consumers), or by waging warfare (a risky but highly effective form of market domination).
3) The Pentagon's Military Wars. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. The domination of markets – every inch of them – becomes an issue of life and death importance. Wars have been unleashed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. America is fighting scores of clandestine wars in numerous other countries as well. "Containing" economies like China and "opening" economies like Iran and North Korea become more urgent during a major recession, requiring brute force and creating further global instability in all realms of social life.
4) The U.S. Economy is going nowhere in a hurry. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S., is a nation of totally bankrupt consumers. Nearly 18 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain due to nearly every state's budget deficit. States are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided." (date 12-05-10; the problem with state government budget shortfalls has since gotten far, far worse – PB)
5) Bailout Capitalism Emerges. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out in 2008, and now whole nations want the same. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in. Greece and Ireland have been bailed out, with eyes shifting to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. With the emergence of “Brexit”, the entire European Union is being called into question as the Euro takes a beating in the bailout spree. If the EU is dismantled, the shock waves will quickly reach other economies globally.
6) Bailout Repercussions. All western nations -- starting with the U.S., Canada and Great Britain – are grappling with their own national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced on the backs of working families instead of rich investors. This is tearing the social fabric apart, as working and poor people see their social programs under attack. In Europe mass movements are erupting in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc. Social stability is a prerequisite for a recovered economy, but corporate politicians everywhere are asking much more than working people are willing to give.
7) The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they're given endless airtime on all major media outlets. The message of the far right promotes all the rottenness not yet eradicated by education: racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, violence, and a backward nationalism that fears all things "foreign." These core beliefs effectively divide working people so that a concerted campaign against the corporate elite is harder to wage. Meanwhile, labor unions, progressives, and other working class organizations are instead targeted.
America imports twice the dollar amount of manufactured goods than it does oil. Since 2000 the US experienced a rapid increase in the imports of advanced technology products. A country dependent on foreigners for manufactured and advanced technology products is not a superpower. When it comes to Americans ages 18-24, 63% could not locate Iraq, Iran or Israel on a Middle East map. Fifty percent could not locate New York City. Moreover, 30% of respondents thought US population exceeded one billion. Forty-seven percent of all urban school children do not possess basic grade level skills. Is there any doubt as to why the jury system is a sham? Despotism and dictatorship reign when ignorance and nonsense rule societies. Society will divide itself into exploiters and exploited. In the early 1800's, complex literacy in New England exceeded 93%. A small farm nation, without newly built schools, sport stadiums, and "prestigious" universities had a much better track record. They keenly observed the American ideal of independence while never watching TV or indulging in Virtual Reality.
A country that has too many lacking in native knowledge is not a superpower. Countless industrial plants have been closed as 3.5 million jobs in manufacturing have been outsourced in the last ten years. In that time 7 million less jobs have been created than what population growth required. The high tech jobs never appeared as touted. Information Technology, computer system designs, and telecommunications in fact lost 17%, 9%, and 25% of its work force respectively. Even wholesale and retail trade experienced job losses, mainly at the managerial levels. As several hundred thousand engineers languished in unemployment lines for years, salaries for law school graduates continue to skyrocket. Firms in Philadelphia and New York are offering newly trained ruling class members over $125,000.00 in annual salaries. A country that does not fully utilize and reward its productive citizens and instead caters to the parasitic and marginal sectors is not a superpower. A country whose populace has been reduced to chattel by the special interest-driven 'health care for ransom' system is not a superpower.
Unfortunately, lawsuits for unproven and astronomical monetary amounts are pursued as the main recourse. These acts obviously fuel the healthcare crisis. Senator Hillary Clinton, who received $4.6 million from a trial lawyer group, helped to block medical lawsuit reform during her 2016 campaign. This mild bill would have saved her constituents $800.00 a year in premiums. A country that allows legalized bribery to plutocrats to influence law and policy is not a superpower. A country in which 4-7% of its people are illegals who now choose to dictate terms is not a superpower. This is clearly a breakdown of law and order.....”
In closing, the various reasons for capitalism's impending failure I have just elaborated on do not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the capitalist economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it. To ensure that the economic system is changed so that working people benefit, the ones who do the real work every day to keep things moving, large-scale collective action is necessary based on demands that unite the majority of working people. The ongoing fight for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage is one good example of large-scale collective action. What America needs is a massive job-creation program at the expense of Wall Street, an expansion of Social Security and Medicare, and a moratorium on home foreclosures. If the Christian community worked cooperatively with the unions in promoting these demands, working people could put up a real fight. After all, the Bible says, “The workman is worth his/her wages”.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
America's Christian Hypocrisy Regarding
the Asylum Seekers at Her Southern Border
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
The headline in this past Friday's Huffington post said it all: “Chris Cuomo Shreds Hypocrite Christians Who Celebrate Christmas But Reject Migrants”. In a timely article posted by David Barden on November 29, this journalist quotes the CNN host when he said earlier that same day that it is a, “....moral imperative for America to assist members of the migrant caravan”. With growing numbers of asylum seekers gathering just a stone’s throw away at the U.S.-Mexico border, the CNN host said that, “It’s not enough to say that we bear no responsibility because we didn’t create the problem. Our responsibility comes from the absolute fact that we have the power to provide a solution here,” he said. “There’s a moral imperative here, America does what she can.” With the holiday season in full swing, Cuomo then pointed out the hypocrisy of American Christians who celebrate Christmas yet shun migrants. 'No small irony that Christians are getting ready to celebrate the story of Christmas, which is the exact story that we are trying to block out here,' he said. 'The poor and unwanted who wound up bringing the Savior into this world in a stable, rejected. Just as we’re doing now. This is who we are now and it must be exposed.'”
Thank you for the suggestion, Mr. Cuomo, and allow me to help expose this very thing about my country this holiday season. The truth of the matter is that Chris Cuomo was spot-on with that statement regarding the current state of the USA. For a man like myself born in the 1950's, the USA of the early 21st century is unrecognizable compared to the country where I grew up. We weren't nearly as spoiled as we are now, and yet we were happier for the most part. I grew up in a time when air conditioning was considered a luxury, and where women didn't work unless they wanted to. People made a lot less money than today, but the daily cost of living was far less than today, so that didn't make any difference. The first Ford Mustangs in 1965 had a base price of $1,995.00, ditto for the Volkswagen Beetles of that time period. The world used to run on commerce, but today it runs on debt. Commerce symbolized free enterprise back then, but today's debt is really just the new slavery. America actually never really ended slavery after the US civil war, she simply out-sourced it.
If we go back to the Book of Exodus in the Bible to the time when the ancient Israelite's were wandering in the desert – after leaving 400 years of slavery behind in Egypt – we find that God warned them about mistreating foreigners among them. “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Exodus 22: 21). Foreigners being in the land in which we live goes back at least 3,400 years or more. All our ancestors were foreigners at one time or another in their lives, dating all the way to humankind's hunter-gatherer years. Taking that into consideration, that makes the rest of us either foreigners or the descendants thereof. Now you know why I have such a problem with those who stand against the asylum seekers, and particularly those haters who profess to be Christian by faith. Jesus taught us to “....love our neighbor as we love ourselves”, meaning (in this case) those who rail against immigrants and asylum seekers ultimately rail against their own fathers and grandfathers.
Yesterday's posting about this matter in Buzzfeed.com had this to say:
One Reason The US And Mexico Can’t Agree On Having Asylum-Seekers Wait In Mexico: The Trump Administration Itself Is Divided
The Justice Department wants asylum applicants turned away without any vetting of their claims. Homeland Security wants them screened for fears of staying in Mexico.
WASHINGTON — “Homeland Security and Justice Department officials are feuding over a controversial plan that would force asylum-seekers at the southwestern border to remain in Mexico until their cases are decided, according to sources close the administration. Department of Justice officials have been pushing for asylum-seekers at the border to be immediately returned to Mexico as they arrive at the border, instead of first undergoing screening for fear of persecution or torture if they are not allowed in. Department of Homeland Security officials want asylum-seekers screened for persecution, torture, and fear before being immediately returned to Mexico, to ensure that there are no serious concerns for their safety in Mexico. The dispute highlights the fact that key details regarding the plan are still up in the air.....”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, right before your eyes. The reason for the infighting among members of the Trump administration, in one word, is fear. They're all afraid of a bunch of migrant workers who simply want to restart their lives, and who want to escape the rampant violence of the drug gangs in central and south America. They pose a minimal threat to ourselves, and those who do will be weeded out, one way or another. Few, if any, of these people will escape president Trump's dragnet, you can all be sure about that. Rather than be caught up in an irrational fear of one other, we're charged by God with the sacred duty to love one another. The apostle John wrote of this when he said, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: that we should love one another.” (1st John 3: 11) As things stand in 21st century America right now, there are too many Americans who have forgotten or cast aside this essential teaching of our Lord and Savior.
And so as America sings, “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men”, along with the rest of the Christmas carols this year, I wish a lot of people would do what used to be done up until about the 1970's or so. People used to go Christmas caroling door-to-door, mainly focusing on the elderly and disabled, and oftentimes the lonely and forgotten. It was a tradition that dated back centuries, and it needs to be brought back. Moreover, it needs to be brought to the border at Tijuana, Mexico where the asylum seekers are being held. If I somehow had the means, I would charter a plane to San Diego, California full of people. We would transfer to buses for the remainder of the journey to the border fence, get out and walk right up to it. Then, once we were all in place, we would start with ,”Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” and sing a medley of Christmas carols to all the refugees until we are all hoarse.
We could do an hour-long set of Christmas carols, like a song medley, to warm the hearts of all the refugees, and to let them know that there are Americans on the other side of that fence who view them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Never mind nationality and race, just forget about all that stuff. There needs to be a lot more “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men”, and a lot less rhetoric, bigotry and vitriol by certain Americans whose chief stock in trade is contempt for those who are different from themselves. This is particularly applicable to the wealthy. We have a “moral imperative” to replace contempt with compassion, to replace bigotry with understanding, and to substitute love for hate. Perfect love, the apostle James wrote, drives out fear. OK, since we know that hatred is based on fear, it is our moral responsibility as Americans – Christian or otherwise – to understand the origins of our own fears. Until then, we will be powerless to change ourselves. But if we consciously engage in love for one another, we can suffocate the fear right out of ourselves and kill it. So do that first, and you take the first step down the road to a happier and more fulfilled life.
Sunday, November 25, 2018
The Holidays In America: Blind Consumerism
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For website viewing, click here :-)
The psychopathology of consumerism and the subtle brain washing of mind control: We have become programmed like robots to spend more than we can afford on things we don't really need. Like sheep headed to the trimmers, we dutifully spend our meager incomes at the bidding of a myriad of shop-till-you-drop gimmicks while our highly vaunted capitalist economic system fleeces us all. The worst part is that the useless junk we buy doesn't benefit the US economy, it benefits mainly Red China's. Those who control America's shadow government – the real movers and shakers from behind the scenes, not their puppets in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court – have sold out our country to the opposing side and have thus committed treason.
The reason most people don't care about, or won't even consider, this glaring reality is because they can “live so much cheaper” buying the very inexpensively made garbage that China has been dumping on America's shores since the 1980's. Cheaper at first, yes, but due to shoddy manufacturing and poor quality, Chinese and many other Pacific Rim products are notoriously short-lived and invariably cheap imitations of much better quality merchandise that used to be made here in the US. But that, of course, was before corporate America and Wall Street shipped all those middle class American jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar. And so we fight and claw for the thriftiest deal at the various suburban big box stores, purchasing with our meager earnings from our multiple part time jobs (because there are no other jobs available), shopping at other chain stores who offer pathetically and similarly low wages and zero benefits to their staff. Just like your employer treats you.
So, how much can we save on all these wonderful items (LOL)? That depends on whether one can afford to pay cash while doing their shopping or not. If one uses plastic instead of paper, that person always ends up paying far more in interest, fees and hidden charges than they would have had they bought a similar higher quality item at the finest store in town and paid cash. How much could we save now? Let's ask some more pertinent questions and explore some far more evident realities about this issue. For example, what about the Chinese workers slaving in dangerous non-union factories for 1-2 dollars a day? What does the company make off the deal? Who is actually winning? Is it really the mesmerized consumer, all teary-eyed with joy while giggling gleefully at 30, 40, and 50% off deals? Or could it be that the whole stinking thing is rigged from beginning to end?
Of course it is! Just look at what is being sold and calculate how much it costs to make it. If I look at a can of pork and beans on the grocery shelf and it's priced at 75 cents, it doesn't take a marketing genius to figure out that 75 cents is an outrageous markup. The cans are made by the millions, so they cost just a couple of pennies each to manufacture at most. The contents of the can usually cost even less, and ditto for the label. So we're looking at 2 cents for the can, 1-2 cents more for the contents, and maybe an extra penny or two for the label. Add another penny or two as margin for error and we have 7 cents. Seven cents, and the retail price is 75 cents? So the gross profit is more than ten times the cost, or a markup in excess of 1,000%! Or, consider a far more expensive item such as the latest I-phone. They sell for about $700-1,000 dollars and up plus tax, but there was a posting on the Internet just recently to the effect that it only costs Apple, Inc. about $120-$180 to manufacture I-phones, depending on the model. That's because they were made in China, resulting in a 450-600% markup. So how do you like capitalism now?
"Oh," the politicians and talking heads say to us on TV, "it's the American workers. They don't want to work menial jobs like canning pork and beans. And we can't assemble I-phones in America because its workers aren't qualified." Never mind that there are many thousands of recent college graduates who are living with their parents because they are unable to support themselves. There simply are no jobs for these poor young adults, and yet they are expected to repay predatory and exorbitant student loans. The careers for which they have been training have already been out-sourced to the third world during the last 4+ years that these hapless individuals have spent earning their degrees. They have all been robbed of their educations, which have been rendered worthless by the multinational corporations and the US military-industrial complex who are running the whole show.
Yet we are expected to perform our patriotic duty as well as appropriately celebrate the “feast of capitalism” as we shop till we drop looking for that most fantastic deal. We are in the process of being programmed to slave at multiple part time jobs working for starvation wages and with no health benefits while being expected to buy $300,000.00 houses, $50,000.00 cars and trucks, plus big screen TV's and $1,000.00 I-phones. While all this is occurring, certain employees of multiple multinational corporations are being well paid to line the pockets of senators, congressmen and supreme-court justices in Washington D.C., while sitting on presidential cabinets making decisions regarding our planet's future, our future, and our children's future. Is it any wonder that the entire world seems to be coming unglued? Is it any wonder that the American population is increasingly enraged?
Meanwhile our consumerism is devouring the planet into what might soon become more lifeless than the moon or a Wall Street tycoon's conscience. Yet, mesmerized by commercials with intelligence levels less than a jackass after having a brain amputation, we roll blindly into the gates of the shopping centers turned shopping malls turned humongous big box stores. To share more with you about that which I'm writing, consider the following 2011 release from the Associated Press (republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2011):
"A shopper in Los Angeles pepper-sprayed her competition for an X-box and scuffles broke out elsewhere around the United States as bargain-hunters crowded malls and big-box stores in an earlier-than-usual start to the greed-fueled madness known as Black Friday. For the first time, chains such as Target, Best Buy and Kohl's opened their doors before midnight on the most anticipated shopping day of the year. Toys R Us opened for the second straight year on Thanksgiving itself. And some shoppers arrived with sharp elbows. On Thanksgiving night, a Walmart in Los Angeles brought out a crate of discounted X-boxes, and as a crowd waited for the video game players to be unwrapped, a woman fired pepper spray at the other shoppers 'in order to get an advantage,' police said. Ten people suffered cuts and bruises in the chaos, and 10 others had minor injuries from the spray, authorities said. The woman got away in the confusion, and it was not immediately clear whether she got an X-box. On Friday morning, police said, two women were injured and a man was charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. And a man was arrested in a scuffle at a jewelry counter at a Walmart in Kissimmee, Fla. In the U.S., Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has taken steps in recent years to control its Black Friday crowds following the 2008 death of one of its workers in a stampede of shoppers. This year, it staggered its door-buster deals instead of offering them all at once."
Lennon and McCartney of the Beatles wrote in the song "Revolution", "You say you want a revolution, well you know, we'd all love to change your head." Yes, it is more than changing Wall Street or who resides in the White House. It is, ultimately, about changing ourselves. If we all really want some serious change, then change must start from within. We must reject materialism collectively as a people in order to save the world from ourselves. Speak from your heart to your kids about consumerism, greed and how they are affecting the planet as well as our behavior. Become an environmentalist and make your kids proud. Help them to understand that it's not about how much we have, but rather how much we contribute. Life is not about how much we own or the value of our possessions. Life is all about making a stand for good things like faith, mercy, kindness, and above all, love.
Instead of buying your wife a new car and maybe going into debt, take her up on the highest place around where you live, or to some favorite romantic spot, and renew your vows to her. Instead of buying your husband a new bag of golf clubs, give him a night he will never forget. Enjoy each other and be loving to each other. To enjoy is to enjoin, to enjoin is to unite. Everything else, particularly material wealth, takes a back seat to love.
Consumerism, capitalism and the vain pursuit of worldly goods keeps us isolated by gimmicks of sensationalist advertising of strikingly beautiful women, absolutely perfect children and gorgeous, flaming hunks of men that are created off the corporate mold. To put it simply, the corporate mold is a load of BS. And who is being molded in all these advertising gimmicks? You are! For what purpose? To make others rich at your expense. The blue chip corporations have a very good reason for doing all this. As long as they can keep us isolated, we can never be united. Don't go there, never isolate yourself. Keep your money for the hard times ahead. Find richness in your heart, your spirit and your character and share that this year instead.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
A Symptom of American Implosion:
Our Broken and Rigged Voting System
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
Now that the mid-term elections have come and gone, we the people – the voting electorate – have been reminded once again of two inescapable facts about America's voting system. These two facts have existed for longer than I have been alive, and I can assure you all that 63 years is plenty long enough. The first fact I'd like to state is that nearly half the country simply never makes it to the polls. In spite of the fact that there was record voter turnout for a mid-term election this time around – and that's always a good thing – still in all, only 61% of eligible voters cast ballots. Thirty-nine percent of eligible voters either didn't bother, or couldn't.
First, let me give an honorable mention to those who couldn't vote because they had to work. The vast majority of these individuals would have voted if they could, but their employment kept them from doing so. That's the nicest way I can think of to put that at the moment, but let's be realistic. The reason these workers can't take time off to go and vote is because they'd lose their jobs, or, because they make so little money as it is that losing as little as one hour's pay is more than they can bear. That, my dear readers, is an economic barrier to voting imposed on the masses by the wealthy business owners, most of whom tend to vote conservative. Working class folks, by and large, are independent or 'blue' voters who vote for 'blue' or progressive candidates. What better way for the wealthy to keep their congressional reps in Washington than to keep their employees from voting for the opposition?
On the other hand, we have those voters, the rest of the 39%, who simply don't bother. They think their vote doesn't matter, that it won't make any difference as far as fixing a broken government is concerned. So they either stay at home and play games on their computers or gaming consoles, hang out with friends and family, and a few just sit home and party all night long. I guess they must think their stupid games and their equally stupid buddies are more important than the broken world that everyone should be devoting all our time to fixing. I guess they must think it feels better to get drunk and stoned than it does to be a part of the solution, to be a part of humanity that's on the rise instead of settling for being victims of their circumstances. America is a country that's in serious trouble from a number of standpoints, and people who won't help fix America's problems make themselves little more than dead weight to the rest of us who really care. People who don't care leave holes in time.
The second fact of life that America must reconcile herself with is our election system is being gamed by the candidates on both sides, and there are many candidates who cheat and get away with it. This is nothing new – stories like this have circulated for as long as I've been alive. It is now an established fact, for example, that Bernie Sanders got cheated out of the Democratic nomination back in 2016. The local elections can be even worse. Here in Atlanta where I live, we had a case back in 2004 where a man who got elected sheriff of DeKalb county, Georgia was assassinated by a hit man hired by the opposing candidate. The loser of that election got life without parole. And just days ago, again here in Georgia, Democrat Stacy Abrams lost the governor's race to Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State who waited until after the election to resign his post. That's because the Secretary of State is responsible for Georgia's elections. So Brian Kemp used his position as Georgia Secretary of State to ensure his election to the governor's mansion. Nicely done, Governor Kemp, way to shoe-horn your way into the top job in the state! Bravo (not).
To call this disheartening simply doesn't do it justice. Brian Kemp's former opponent, Stacy Abrams, has called off her campaign, but understandably refuses to concede. Accusing the governor-elect of cheating his way into office, Abrams has vowed to file a federal lawsuit charging “gross mismanagement of the entire election”. The apostle Paul wrote about circumstances similar to this during his own time. “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means that you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God?....” (1st Corinthians 6: 7-9) In this instance, Paul wrote about lawsuits among believers, but the same logic still applies. Why not rather be the loser than to cheat and win? Why not rather be defeated in the eyes of men and women while being victorious in the presence of the Lord?
But cheating during the elections is exactly what's been going on in America for at least the last six decades or more, and the Georgia governor's race is only the latest example. If our elections are broken, the people no longer have a voice. That's the ugly truth facing Americans today. The voice of the people is being silenced, and I offer the following excerpt from Yahoo Money News, Saturday November 17th, 2018 as proof: “Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) appeared to endorse voter suppression during a campaign stop this month, saying efforts to undermine voting among liberals at certain colleges would be a “great idea.” “And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote,” Hyde-Smith can be heard telling a small crowd of young people outside her campaign bus in a video taken Nov. 3 and posted on online Thursday. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the Senate in April following the retirement of Thad Cochran, faces Democrat Mike Espy in a Nov. 27 runoff election. The Trump-backed Republican also came under fire last weekend for apparent racist remarks, joking with a crowd about attending a public hanging.....”
If recently-elected, or appointed, public officials are saying things like this, it makes me wonder what those who are well-established might be saying among themselves. With talk like I just documented above, there's no telling what's being said, but you can be sure it's contemptuous of working people. That's us. Because of this, the American people have a big problem on their hands. They are no longer in control of their country. The government has been in the hands of the Shadow Government, a.k.a. the Deep State, ever since the assassination of president Kennedy back in 1963. I was 8 years old when Kennedy was killed, and I still remember his assassination quite clearly even to this day. It was as traumatic back then as 9/11 was when it occurred. And the country hasn't been the same since.
We have got to figure out a way to take our country back from these Deep State operators. The prophet Zechariah mentioned this in his prophecy for Judah, one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel. “The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like a sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle.” (Zechariah 10: 2-3) Those words were written nearly 2,600 years ago. Today, the 'lost tribes of Israel' are generally viewed by many theologians as the United States, which has the world's largest population of Jewish people. So these words can be just as easily applied to the USA today as they were to the ancient Kingdom of Israel back in Zechariah's day.
“The idols speak deceit” could be considered our televisions and computers (and let's not forget all those phones), and “diviners that see visions that lie”, could be all the phony preachers and bogus televangelists who preach the Word of God for profit. We also are stuck with a crop of leaders who lead for profit, putting their own self interests ahead of the country, as well as their own constituents. “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock....” I warn you all solemnly as I have before, the United States of America is coming under judgment. The outrageous mistreatment of America's citizens by our leadership in politics, business and the clergy has infuriated Almighty God. The cries of those who just barely live from paycheck to paycheck have reached his ears, and He has, I am certain, much compassion for his people who work so diligently for so little. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. At some point, something's got to give. The only question remains, will our country survive what's coming? It won't take very long to find out. Pray for America!
Sunday, November 11, 2018
To Stop Gun Violence in America,
We Must Acquire “the Mind of Christ”
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)
I could start by writing at length how sick and tired people have become of America's gun violence problem. I'm skipping all that. The news media is already filled with the opinions of those who, in the long run, matter little if at all. I'm skipping the psychoanalysis too. Don't hand me all the utterances of the do-nothings who spend their days pointing out problems without making any effort at coming up with any solutions. You all know the ones I'm talking about, and I don't mean everyone reading this, either – not by a long shot. I'm talking about all the TV and radio pundits who make their living by agitating and provoking people. I know the gunman in the Thousand Oaks, California mass shooting had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suffer from PTSD myself, but the source of my disorder is from growing up in an abusive foster-care situation rather than from the battlefield. There are a lot of people who have PTSD, but none of the rest of us has arbitrarily decided to go out and mow down a dozen or more people. I can't imagine doing such a thing myself. I find the very thought revolting.
They can call whatever they do whatever they want. I call it 'violently anti-social behavior'. And yet the majority of these agitators on radio and TV are church goers. That's the part that drives me nuts – from the vantage point of the pulpit, that's what I'm seeing – that people today would rather fight each other than help each other. Soon after, the acquisition of such argumentative mindsets devolves into violence because intolerance devalues others to the point that simply killing a few is somehow OK. Taking a life – any life – just because one has deemed it to be necessary, is never OK. We have lost sight of the fact that life is sacred because it comes from sacred origins, whose name is the Almighty God.
The Bible does have some things to say about this. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letters to the Corinthian churches, and I quote: “6) We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7) No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8) None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9) However, as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him' — 10) these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” (1st Corinthians 2: 6-10)
The first thing we can derive from verse 6 is that we should not wait on the government to fix our problems because the government lacks the wisdom to fix anything as it currently stands. There it is, right there in the Bible. God holds the solutions we seek, not government. As for the rest of us, it's not so much that we lack the wisdom, it's that we can't seem to agree on how to go about ending gun violence in America. We cannot reach a consensus because many of us refuse to acknowledge the existence of a Higher Power. Never mind the Christian concepts of a risen Christ and an Almighty God for just a minute – and all my Christian brethren please bear with me for a moment, because I'm seriously going somewhere with this today. It is an indisputable fact that there are sources of Higher Power in the universe. A refusal to acknowledge or remain in touch with this Higher Power – the forces of Light that we call “God” – leaves a vacuum in the human heart that causes the forces of darkness to take its place. You are either from the Light, as I am, or from the Darkness, which is all that is negative. It is evil, which is the power of Darkness that never penetrates the Light unless it is allowed to, that is the motivator for America's gun violence problem.
But the evil I'm writing about isn't psychological, it's not mental illness, nor is it pathological at all. The source of this evil is spiritual. People who give in to evil and so carry out horrible evil such as this epidemic of mass shootings do so because they have made a conscious effort to put their Higher Power – just in case they profess disbelief in the existence of God – out of their lives. When you put the Light out of your life, the Darkness inevitably takes its place. Those who do not believe in Spiritual forces make themselves all the more vulnerable to it. “9) However, as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him' — 10) these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” The apostle Paul was quoting Isaiah 64: 4 as if to say, if only you will stick with God, his reward for you will be greater than anyone can imagine. Never give up on God, and He'll never give up on you. And even if you do give up, God sticks with us anyway because that's how much he loves each of us. Even if we're in sin, God will still stick with us – but only for so long, if you get my drift.
Paul clarified this still further further down in this same passage when he wrote: “13) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15) The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16) for, 'Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ.” (1st Corinthians 2: 13-16) Now I ask you, how can we continue to have the “mind of Christ” when we have our minds focused on who we can take vengeance upon and kill? Never mind whether we think they “deserve it” or not. I am simply trying to emulate Paul by “explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”
America's mass shooting epidemic is a symptom of a country that is turning to the forces of Darkness. If America was still attuned to the forces of the Light like she used to be, there would have been no more than a handful of these mass shootings before they would have been brought to an abrupt halt. Granted, when it comes to all these shootings, America's gun laws clearly need to be strengthened, that is true. But the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual, as Paul wrote, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments....” OK, so if any given person systematically rejects the things of God, or of their Higher Power, and/or refuses to recognize the authority thereof, then is it any wonder that such people wind up doing such ungodly things as mass murder? It should come as no surprise at all.
All right, so we can safely conclude that those who act out on violent impulses, or who cannot or will not keep their angry feelings in check, to the point where they cannot help but hurt or even kill others – long term incarceration is the only thing that will stop such people. And that's assuming they survive being arrested, and many choose not to. Let's not forget there are some who, as the novelist John Milton put it, “....would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Actually for me, it's the other way around. Keeping in mind that I would rather serve forever in heaven than roast forever in hell is what keeps the forces of Darkness out of my heart, mind and soul. In effect, I and others like me “have the mind of Christ”. Not the person, you understand, but the mindset of the man, the Savior and Redeemer. Only Christ gave his life for you and for me – Jesus Christ the Son of God and no one else. Only the forces of the demonic take lives, they never give anything.
And so in closing, it is vitally important that we all take on “the mind of Christ”. No one can be just like our Lord and Savior because only Jesus lived a sinless life – none of us even comes close to that. But we can overcome our bad natures – especially the propensity to kill – by keeping the “mind of Christ” tucked inside our brains as we go about our daily routines, and as we meet and work with all kinds of people. Some of them are good, some are evil, and still more simply don't care. As long as they're getting their usual, that's all they worry about. They couldn't care less about anyone else but themselves. Although the killers are awful enough, and dangerous enough, it's the ones who don't care who do the most damage of all. That's because the only way evil can flourish is for cold and uncaring men and women to look the other way.