Friday, August 31, 2018
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Coming this fall from Author Rev. Paul J. Bern, the Fourth Edition of his landmark 2011 book, "The Middle and Working Class Manifesto", the book of dissidence for all dissidents everywhere! Do you wish to become the change you seek, but don't know where to begin? Giving this book a good read first will definitely help clarify things for you!(1st edition cover shown)
I Dare To Dream
(excerpt from “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition” by Pastor Paul J. Bern, in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of Rev. Dr. King's "I have a Dream" speech)
The march of economic inequality, from which springs the source of racism, poverty, crime, violence, and lack of access to healthcare and higher education, has become the new civil rights issue of the 21st century. (I like to call it Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. 2.0.) King's dream of unconditional equality throughout the country can finish becoming a reality when the economic barriers that we all face on a daily basis finally come down for good, like an economic Berlin Wall circa 1989. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to the masses during the 1963 civil rights march on Washington and said, “I have a dream...”. By writing and publishing these words it is my intent to help take up where King's Dream left off, and to do anything I can to help finish the job that he started. And so let me slightly change that to, “I dare to dream”.
I dare to dream of a world in which the gap between rich and poor is gone forever. We all deserve to live in a world where wealth has been redistributed in a peaceful and orderly manner and not by the barrel of a gun. I dare to dream of a country where wealth has been redistributed in 4 ways. First, every worker earns a living wage so poverty can be eliminated. Second, free higher education and vocational retraining must be available to every worker for life, including daycare available to all who need it, because everyone has the right to better themselves at will. Third, I envision an America where quality health care is available to every worker at nominal cost for life. Single-payer healthcare based on the current Medicare model must not be reserved only for those who can afford it, but it must be a fundamental human right for all ages. Fourth, “we the people” demand the abolition of the federal tax code, including elimination of the despised federal withholding tax, which would give every American worker or business owner an immediate 18% pay raise.
I dare to dream of an America where there will be no such thing as someone without health insurance, where every citizen will have lifetime healthcare and prescription drug coverage without qualification, and where there will be the fewest sick days for American workers and their children of any country in the developed world.
I dare to dream of a new America with a robust and viable economy. That is why I have been insisting on a $14.00 per hour minimum wage since 2010. I dare to dream of a new America where education will be subsidized from the cradle to the grave so that the US develops the most formidable work force the world has ever seen.
I dare to dream of an America where all workers have the right to organize, to a flexible work week and to paid family or maternity leave. Most other developed countries already do this. The US is the only exception and that has got to change. The only remaining question in my mind is whether we can accomplish this peacefully or otherwise, and it is looking more and more to me like it will be the latter.
I dare to dream of an America where affordable housing is the law of the land, where home ownership becomes a right and not a privilege so we can wipe out homelessness, and where the price of a house is limited to the sum total of ten years income of any given individual or household purchasers. I insist on a country where home ownership isn't part of an exclusive club with the highest “credit scores”. It is, and must become, a basic human right. Even the cave men lived in caves of their own!
I dare to dream of a country with new public works programs that put an end to unemployment forever so the USA can have full employment all the time. America's infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, and its inner cities are in dire need of an overhaul. What a better way to accomplish this!
I dare to dream of a new America with an all-new public school and university system that has an Internet-based curriculum that can be updated at will, with a new and more intensive school year, that has viable replacements for standardized testing, and where class size is limited by law.
I dare to dream of a country where teachers, police officers and firefighters make what their Congressional representatives make, and vice verse.
I dare to dream of a new nation where unconditional equality is the law of the land for every citizen without exception, and this will include economic equality. I dare to dream of a new America where there is no more income tax, no capital gains tax, no alternative minimum tax, no estate tax, no self-employment tax, and where families and businesses can have a tax free income unless they are very wealthy. In its place would be a national sales tax, such as a Consumption Tax, where everyone pays proportionately the same tax rate on only what they consume, plus an “excess wealth tax” for persons with annual incomes exceeding $3 million, and for businesses with annual proceeds exceeding $300 million, so America's budget can be balanced and fair.
I dare to dream of a better USA where personal privacy is the law of the land, where identity theft is a thing of the past, and where it will be illegal for employers to obtain the credit files or credit scores of any job applicant.
I dare to dream of a more compassionate America where children have the right to a challenging and progressive learning environment, and where kids will be legally guaranteed freedom from hunger, sickness and violence, and where all God's children will have the legislated right to safe adoption, foster care and day care.
I dare to dream of an all-new voting system, including the abolition of the elitist Electoral College, that is Internet-based, paperless, and that can be accessed from any location using any computer or wireless device, instead of wasting our time and fuel and losing work time going to polling stations, and instead of using unreliable and unsecured voting machines.
I dare to dream of an America of integrity where all of the dirty corporate money and all the filthy lucre is abolished from our political process. I dare to dream of an America where the Wall Street shysters who crashed the US economy are brought to justice, and where the keys to all of the fraudulently foreclosed homes are returned to their rightful owners.
I dare to dream of the end to America's sinister war on drugs, where all convicted nonviolent drug offenders can qualify for alternative sentences for their offenses so they may obtain early release, and where any currently illegal drugs having medicinal value, such as marijuana, psylocibin and peyote are legalized, regulated and taxed by appropriate legislation.
Finally, I dare to dream of a world in which all this is easily financially achievable, since all the money that is being wasted currently on the CIA's clandestine wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and to a lesser extent in Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere will be redirected towards all these dreams that I have just mentioned. The money is already there, its just being budgeted in all the wrong places. Let me tell you why.
If the US military took all the money it spends occupying Afghanistan (don't forget we've been there for 17 years) for just one day and put it into an interest-bearing account, there would be enough money available to send every American school kid from the first grade up to senior high school, plus through 4 years of college fully paid for, including tuition, dorms, books, food, access to the Internet and to public transportation. Here's another example: If the US government took all that money set aside from one days worth of military expenditures in Afghanistan alone, there would be enough money to build a 2,500 square feet house, fully furnished and stocked with groceries, with all the utilities already turned on, for every homeless person in the US, especially all the homeless kids. That's how easily we can end homelessness in the richest country in the world.
Just as surely as there was an Arab Spring beginning in 2011 that is still ongoing in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Somalia, to name a few, so I am telling you that there will be an American Spring, Summer of Fall in her near future. In fact, I'm surprised it hasn't already begun. Beginning in 2011 with the start-up of the “Occupy” and “99%” Movements, of which I am still proud to be a part, this uprising of the American people against the top 1% will explode like an atomic mushroom cloud over the American political and economic elite, obliterating them all in a bloodless coup without anyone having fired a single shot – so that the remaining 99% of us can peacefully take back what has been stolen from us over the last 100 years. We can only accomplish this by uniting together as one and acting as one body to break free from the shackles of oppression that have us all enslaved. Who is with me today?
You have just read the end of chapter 9 of my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition” by Rev. Paul J. Bern. To visit my author landing page, go to www.authorrevpauljbern.com. Pre-ordering available starting in October. Thanks so much. Shalom!
Monday, August 27, 2018
Sunday, August 26, 2018
The Ongoing Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima,
Japan, and the Culpability of the United States
in the Destruction of the Pacific Ocean
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
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The worst nuclear disaster to strike Japan since a single bomb fell over Nagasaki in August 1945 occurred on March 11, 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the earthquake and epic tsunami of that fateful day. The New York Times reported the disturbing news some months afterwards that a wide area around the Fukushima plant "could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels. The formal announcement was the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months." Just two weeks later, it was reported that radiation readings at the site had reached their highest points to date. The wide release of radiation, and fear of same, has forced the Japanese and others all over the world to reflect on what happened to the country in 1945, and the continuing existential threat of nuclear weapons and energy today.
In its main story in August 2011 marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings, the Times highlighted the new activism of survivors of the bombing (the “hibakusha”) this year; campaigning against nuclear power, which has provided most of their country's energy needs. No one in the world can relate to the fears of a wide populace terrified that they (and perhaps the unborn) may be tainted forever by exposure to airborne radiation. One may ask how it is possible that Japan, after its experience with the atomic bombings, could allow itself to draw so heavily on the same nuclear technology for the manufacture of about a third of its energy? There was resistance, much of it from Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. But there was also a pattern of denial, cover-up and cozy bureaucratic collusion between industry and government, the last especially notorious in Japan but by no means limited to that country.
Sumiteru Taniguchi, now 82 and currently director of the Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors Council, recently commented about the above NYT article, "When the conversation turns to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant it is as if the floodgates open," Taniguchi said. "Nuclear power and mankind cannot coexist. We survivors of the atomic bomb have said this all along. And yet, the use of nuclear power was camouflaged as 'peaceful' and continued to progress. You never know when there's going to be a natural disaster. You can never say that there will never be a nuclear accident." Taniguchi is perhaps the main iconic symbol of the “hibakusha” today, thanks to footage of him taken after the bombing, showing him, months after the attack, still on a floor, spread-eagled, his entire back an open wound, flaming red. It was part of footage shot by a US film crew, and suppressed for decades.
In April, 2011, five survivors' organizations including Taniguchi's Nagasaki group submitted a statement to the Japanese government declaring the collapse of the "safety myth" around nuclear power and demanding a change in the government's energy policy to prevent creating any more “hibakusha”. Their statement further demanded that it distribute health record booklets — similar to the ones that are distributed to atomic bomb victims and can be used as proof of radiation exposure — to nuclear power plant workers and residents living close to them, and also provide periodic health examinations to those populations. It is a well-hidden fact (thanks to the lame stream media) that numerous A-bomb survivors over the decades sought help from the government after falling ill or suffering cancer and other diseases, allegedly from radiation exposure, but by many accounts had been abandoned. Will the people who are suffering from invisible dangers in Fukushima be subjected to the same treatment? Probably, unless more people start speaking up.
As I write this, Japan and TEPCO, the Japanese utility company that has been in charge of this ever-widening disaster, are making futile attempts to stop the gushing leakage of many tons of radioactive seawater that is coming from the three melted-down reactors. The entire northern Pacific ocean is now contaminated by this radioactive seawater. It will remain this way for a very long time afterward – decades at the very least. Contrast this to God's original instructions that he gave to us at the creation of the earth. “Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground'.” (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-28) In other words, God put humankind in charge of the planet right from the start. If a manager did to a company what we have done to the earth, we'd all be in jail!
The book of Revelation states quite clearly what will ultimately happen to those who pollute the earth, such as what happened at Chernobyl in the 1980's and in 2011 at Fukushima – and what America did to Japan in 1945. “And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth'” (Rev. chapter 11, verses 16-18). 'Destroy those who destroy the earth'? So much radioactive leakage from Fukishima, Japan has polluted the northern Pacific ocean that it is now effectively dead. All life from Japan eastward to Midway atoll and beyond, all the way north to the Aleutian islands and as far away as the Canadian west coast have been wiped out. And it's all our fault!
When it comes to nuclear issues — from atomic weapons to nuclear power — no two nations could be more irredeemably intertwined than Japan and the US. The United States is the country that 'introduced' the world to the splitting of the atom. This has resulted in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and atomic energy, and it has threatened to wipe us out as a species ever since. After the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite dissenting voices of some of its own citizens, America drew mostly wrong conclusions as it plunged into nuclear expansion. There was a relentless public relations campaign — unleashed by the Truman administration almost within hours of the Hiroshima bombing — that led to the erroneous conclusion that blinded the Americans (and later the Japanese) to the insidious, long-term damage of radiation. Prominent journalists and media outlets of the time embraced, with enthusiasm, the so-called “Dawn of the Atomic Age” and America fell into a kind of nuclear trance that remains with us to this day.
Psalm 24, verse 1 says, “The earth is the Lord's and everything in it”, and Psalm 108 verse 5 finishes the thought with, “and let your (God's) glory fill all the earth”. This planet isn't ours, we're supposed to be caretakers. We didn't make this place, God did. So who are we to just wantonly ruin the earth for the shallow and meaningless goal of profit? Is there anybody who seriously thinks that God is pleased with us because we have ruined the planet? I will tell you this much, because this is all I know about what God thinks. God is furious and thoroughly enraged at what humanity has done. I warn you all with a sternness you don't always see and hear from me that the consequences of our actions will define and make manifest God's response. The first two sets of people God is coming for are the militaries and rich industrialists of the world. They're the ones who financed and developed nuclear power. So, when world war three commences, and it will sooner or later, God is going to let it happen so He can destroy them all at once. That what Jesus really meant when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5: 5) What a great day that will be!
Friday, August 24, 2018
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Some Reflections On Nail Scarred Hands
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
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I spent an unplanned 27- hour visit to the emergency room this past week after slipping on a tarp that was laying across the ground and landing on my shoulder blades just before the rest of me came crashing down with it. I don't own a car right now, so I use public transit and the occasional “Lyft” ride to get around. But, I was on my way to rent a car that morning when all this occurred. After I got off the morning train and discovering that my bus wasn't at the station yet (when it should have been), I found myself suddenly needing to take a quick personal break. It's a side effect of some of the medicine I take for my medical issues. So, I ducked behind a large electrical transformer and finished my little 'break', and I'm about to cross the bus lane to go back into the station. I'm walking across an old tarp that covered the ground near where I had been when, without warning, it suddenly gave way, partially rolling up while my feet went up in the air, and I landed on my shoulder blades before the rest of me caught up them. I hit my head hard enough to get a mild concussion. If mine was mild, I sure would hate to ever get a really bad one!
But that wasn't the part that really hurt. When I rolled over on my stomach to pick myself up, I put my left hand part-way through a rusty nail that was embedded in the tarp. I never even saw the darn thing, but I sure did feel it! Even though my entire left arm recoiled from the sharp pain sensation, that nail still went about halfway through my left hand. Now here's where things get a little dicey. I'm a stroke survivor, by the grace and mercy of Almighty God. I have a history of embolisms, or blood clots, in my legs, one lung, and once in my head which caused my stroke to occur back in 2006. As before, I thank God wholeheartedly for allowing me to survive all these things. To counteract this tendency, I take a blood thinner call Coumadin. So the puncture wound in my left hand was bleeding like crazy from the effects of this drug. Fortunately, I carry a washcloth in my pocket to wipe the sweat off my brow during the hot summer months here in Atlanta. So I used it to apply pressure to the wound, but it still bled for a very long time.
Just before getting back on the train, I called the gentleman who I was going to rent the car from, explained everything including my being headed to the hospital, and canceled the rental before boarding. I vividly recall the throbbing pain in my hand as I rode the public transit train back towards midtown Atlanta where my doctors are located. There was a dull kind of pain in my head that was half there and half not, an sensation that turned out to be the concussion I mentioned above. Since I was already in that particular hospital's computer system, it made no sense to go anywhere else since I knew in advance that my insurance would be accepted. So I spent roughly 27 hours in Emory Hospital's midtown Atlanta location, and emerged none the worse for the experience. Many thanks and blessings to all the doctors and nurses who took care of me, you are all appreciated so much!
While in the hospital, I found myself unable to grasp things or pick them up with my left hand. Although I'm normally ambidextrous, having spent 2 decades as a computer and Windows network service tech, I have had to temporarily go back to being strictly right-handed like I was as a much younger man. But none of this has given me pause as has this one thing – knowing first hand what it's like to have a nail pierce the palm of your hand like it did mine. You know, just like what Jesus Christ experienced when those Roman soldiers were nailing him to that rugged old cross. For just a split second of excruciating pain, I was privileged enough to experience what Jesus must have felt as he was hanging on that cross for three agonizing hours of searing pain throughout his entire body, since his feet were nailed too. In a very small way, I know what it's like to have a nail-scarred hand, and I just like to say I am humbled by this experience.
Having the privilege to experience the same kind of pain Christ did, even if only for a brief moment, it's now been 3 days since I experienced this. My hand is slowly healing, but it has caused me to reflect on this occurrence in my life a great deal. We never know when things will go wrong in our lives, but the way it knocks us down doesn't count for much. It's how we pick ourselves up afterward – that is, I believe, the true measure of every man and woman. Our ability to bounce back from adversity says a lot more about us than how or where we fell. Our ability to extract the lessons learned from those kinds of experiences, while leaving the negative results behind us as we move forward – it is precisely this that is closest to how God sees us. Above all, never forget that Jesus died for you by allowing himself to be nailed to a rough old wooden cross, and that he offered no resistance. In the same way, let's all not resist when God is trying to teach us something, but let's all let in sink in – literally!
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Sunday, August 12, 2018
The circus of religious conservatism in Washington, and I don't just mean just president Trump either!
The Christian Right Would Disagree With Me
If I Told Them What Was Really In the Bible
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
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I met someone not too long ago who insisted that the King James Bible is the only legitimate version available. As far as he was concerned, all other versions currently in print, including my New International, Amplified and New Living Translations, were “not from God”. I don't care to elaborate on this much except to say that I don't agree with that at all. The Bible is still the Word of God. The version we prefer is actually beside the point. But I'm using this example to illustrate that there are a lot of conservative right-wingers like that individual who have some views about the Bible and Christianity that are totally contrary to the Scriptures. If indeed these people's beliefs are inconsistent with Scripture then the question becomes, why do religious extremists on the right (and Christianity has them just like the Muslims do) get away with proclaiming what Jesus wouldn’t support (such as endless wars and America's prison-industrial complex)? The answer is simple: Not many conservatives have read the Bible.
Of the ones who do, an overwhelming number of Christians are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the Bible. In fact, over half of church attendees in mainstream denominational churches don't even own a Bible! On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, Biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning. What America needs is Christianity without the dogma, and faith without the spiritual pollution of conservative politics. Nondenominational Christianity with the commandments of Jesus Christ being first and foremost, viewed from a social Gospel viewpoint or the perspective of an equality crusade for all of humanity (think Rev. Dr. King and the Kennedy brothers teaming up with the late Billy Graham), would be far closer to what Jesus originally taught than the ultra-conservative slant being espoused all over the right-wing media today. That's why it's vital as we live in these last days to help the helpless whenever possible. Putting others ahead of ourselves is mandatory in God's kingdom! In so doing, we become ambassadors for Christ while living our lives in complete accordance with God's will. Why remain in the darkness when you can run to the Light?
It’s surprising how little Christians know of what is still the world's most popular book. The “Alt-Right” has successfully re-branded the healing ministry of Jesus Christ – who gave away free healthcare while teaching wealth redistribution – into a white-skinned-only, trickle-down, union-busting bunch of conservatives. So how much do secular Americans know of the Book that one-third of the country believes believes in unconditionally (like I do)? Recent surveys that I have pulled up on the Internet show that 60 percent of Christians can’t name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A 2015 Gallup poll showed 60 percent of Americans can’t name the first book of the Bible, while roughly 86 percent believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse!
So, if Americans get an F in the basic fundamentals of the Bible, what hope do they have in knowing what Jesus would say about labor unions: “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 the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (James 5, verses 1-4). What about taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, and food stamps (“The poor you will always have, but you will not always have me.” Matt, 26, verse 11)?
It becomes easy to spread a lie when no one knows what the real truth is. That's why the Alt-Right has successfully re-branded left-leaning people who gave away free health care and were pro-redistributing wealth into white-skinned-only, 'trickle-down', union-busting conservatives. The truth, whether conservatives like it or not, is not only that Jesus was a meek and mild liberal Jew who spoke softly in parables and metaphors – except when He threw the money changers out of the Temple in Matthew 21, verses 12-13 – but when one reads down a couple more chapters in any of the 4 Gospels, it was the religious conservatives who had Jesus killed. The fact that He rose again on the third day tells me everything I need to know about God's view of conservatives. American conservatives, however, have morphed Jesus into a muscular masculine warrior, in much the same way the Nazis did, as a means of “combating terrorism”, which has become a synonym for world domination by the American military-industrial complex.
Knowing the Bible requires a contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. For instance, when the Republicans in Congress were justifying their cuts to the food stamp program – the set of cuts that was prior to the latest round of cuts this year – they quoted the 2nd book of Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” One poll showed that more than 90 percent of Christians believe this New Testament quote is attributed to Jesus. It’s not! This was taken from a letter written by the apostle Paul to his church in Thessalonica. Paul wrote to this specific congregation to remind them that there were too many people in the congregation that were freeloading off that church. Only a few were doing all the work and making the majority of the financial contributions, and everybody else was just hanging around for the free food. What Paul did say is that anyone too lazy to work shouldn't expect anything at dinner time, and that's just common sense.
What often comes as a surprise to your average Sunday wine-and-cracker Christian is the New Testament did not fall from the sky the day Jesus ascended to Heaven. The New Testament is a collection of writings, 27 in total, of which 12 are credited to the authorship of Paul, four to the Gospels (the apostle Luke also wrote Acts), and the balance with the remaining apostles, some of whom had their accounts of the Gospel removed by the Catholic church sometime between the third and fifth centuries AD. What we do know about Jesus, at least according to the remaining gospels, is that Jesus’ sentiments closely echoed the social and economic policies of the political left in the 19th and again here in the 21st century. The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount read like the vision statement of a missionary: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is kingdom of heaven,” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called 'Sons of the living God'.”
Jesus also said, “Judge not, or else you shall be judged, for you who pass judgment do the same things yourselves”, and “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (I'm paraphrasing here). Sounds an awful lot like wealth redistribution to me, a societal woe that urgently needs to be addressed if ever there was one. So, when Republicans accused then-president Obama of being a brown-skinned socialist who wants to redistribute the wealth, they were actually thinking of Jesus without realizing it. Some of them still haven't figured it out!
Biblical illiteracy is what has allowed the Republican Party to get away with shaping Jesus into their image. That's why politicians on the right can get away with saying 'the Lord commands' that our healthcare, prisons, schools, retirement, transport, and all the rest should be run by corporations for profit. When the Christian Right believes it’s channeling Jesus when they say it’s immoral for government to tax billionaires to help pay for healthcare, education and the poor, they’re actually channeling atheism. When Bill O’Reilly of Fox News infamy claimed the poor are immoral and lazy, that’s not Jesus, it’s atheism! The price this country has paid for biblical illiteracy is measured by how far we’ve moved toward Mr. O'Reilly's atheist utopia.
In the past three decades, the US government has slashed taxes on corporations and the wealthy, destroyed labor unions, deregulated financial markets, eroded public safety nets, and committed to one globalist corporate free-trade agreement after another. At least president Trump is trying to repair some of the damage this has inflicted on America. I don't agree with some of what he does, and I didn't support him in the 2016 election either (I cast a protest vote for Dr. Jill Stein). With the far-right, Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Koch brothers' Citizens United, the flow of billions of dollars from anonymous donors to the most reliable voting bloc of the Republican Party – the Christian Right – will continue to perpetuate the biblical incompatible, anti-government, pro-deregulation-of-business, anti-healthcare-for-all, Tea Party American version of Christianity, and I for one have had more than enough!
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Sunday, August 5, 2018
Nine Unnerving New Technologies That
Big Brother Wants to Implant Inside You
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
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The world we live in is finally starting to catch up with the book of Revelation in the back of the Bible. That would also include the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, among others. 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 at the conclusion of his writings 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. That would include the Antichrist, who has not yet come to power.
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. If I were you, I'd place myself squarely into the former.
Wearable technology is right around the corner, there is no stopping it. Now don't get me wrong – I'm all in favor of technology. My consistent use of the internet is indicative of that fact. I'm a retired IT guy, I was in that business for 21 years, so I'm quite comfortable with technology. What makes me uncomfortable is the huge potential for abuse if what I'm about to describe were to get into the wrong hands. “Wearables” will have their moment in the sun, but they're simply a transition technology. This 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. Unless, of course, you choose to resist as I do.
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 Auto-desk are experimenting with a system that can display images through artificial skin. Or the images may appear in your eye implants. So these scientists and engineers want to turn your eyeballs into a screen. Nice! Researchers are also 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).
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 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 swallow-able 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 email your doctor, too. In a project named Proteus, after the tiny 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. This is sure to give 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 micro-particles 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 Brain Gate is at the forefront of the real-world movement to link human brains directly to computers for a host of uses. As the Brain Gate website says, "using a baby aspirin-sized array of electrodes implanted into the brain, early research from the Brain Gate 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." OK, but what if the user's brain gets a computer virus? What will we do then, wipe their memories??
7. Melt-able 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, transmit it wirelessly where it's 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. But not impossible. 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. 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.
I don't know about you, but to me that is unacceptable for the reasons I've already stated. Plus, I have another reason for never being willing to surrender my future to software. My future is spending an eternity with the Man who saved my very soul. I will be spending my future, my eternity, with the man who carried a 150-pound wooden cross about a half-mile or so – uphill! I will be spending my future, my eternity, with the man who hung on a cross for me for three agonizing, excruciating hours before finally dying of blood loss and shock.
And, I will be spending my future, my eternity, with the man who, after lying in a borrowed grave for three days while the whole world despaired and the demons rejoiced, rose again to live forever, much to the absolute horror of those demons and to the eternal benefit of humankind. All we have to do is (1) believe it sincerely and wholeheartedly, and (2) make it our business to lives our lives as if we do believe. We do that by serving others first, understanding that when we do so, all will be served including ourselves. How about yourselves? Have you embraced Jesus yet? If not, don't you think it's time you did? Place your unconditional faith and trust in Him today!