Sunday, October 28, 2018
Our Leaders and Our Media
Keep Us in the Dark, Living in Fear
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For a website view, click here :-)
The mailing of pipe bombs to various persons in positions of leadership has been in the headlines all week. The one thing that all the recipients of those 'deadly' packages had in common is they were all vocally anti-Trump. If those 'bombs' were as deadly as the FBI claimed, at least one or two would have hit their mark. Days later, and with the alleged perpetrator now in custody, this event is beginning to look more like another FBI-engineered false flag operation. Granted, the perpetrator's fingerprint was found on one of the packages, but it's doubtful he acted alone. As skepticism mounts on the part of the American public, the Deep State operators inside the Beltway and the Lame Stream Media are finding their credibility evaporating before their very eyes. At long last, the operators behind the US military-industrial complex are being exposed. There is no place left for them to run for cover. The Deep State is reaping the consequences of all their false flag operations and clandestine activity.
We live in an extremely violent, and I would argue dangerous, society. Every day we hear or read about unarmed civilians being shot and killed by law enforcement. The overwhelming majority of these victims are Black, meaning America has still not come to terms with issues of racial equality and the elimination of hate from the American psyche. We live in a country that is the world leader in gun and ammunition manufacturing, the world leader in incarcerated individuals – the majority of whom are there for nonviolent drug offenses – and the world's leading producer of pornography. The American population is the world's largest consumers of opiate drugs and other dangerous street drugs like “meth” and crack cocaine. The ingredients for those opiate drugs come from the poppy fields of Afghanistan, which are conveniently being guarded by American troops. That's the real reason they're there.
We are bombarded with violence on every side – shootings in schools, workplaces, churches, bars and night clubs, and other random acts of violence that are without rhyme or reason. Children are kidnapped, not to be held for ransom, but to be sold as sex slaves or to have their organs harvested, sometimes while they are still alive. We have violence on TV, in the movies, and especially in many of the video games we play. And so, when violence happens in real life, it naturally startles many people. This is exactly what our government is counting on. A lot of the violence is home grown, of that there can be no doubt. But nearly as much of it is 'black-ops' type stuff orchestrated by the FBI, CIA, or other alphabet soup agencies. But the prophet Ezekiel wrote nearly 3,000 years ago: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'You have gone far enough, O princes of Israel'! Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Stop dispossessing my people, declares the Sovereign Lord.'” (Ezek. 45: 9)
In Europe (particularly Great Britain) and the US, the public is being fed a pack of lies by politicians and the mainstream media about the situation in Syria, just as it has been with other military adventures over the past decades. The majority of westerners don’t have a clue about what is really happening. They are unaware that Syria forms part of the greater game in the region. They fail to see the links between Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, which are all part of a Washington-led wider geo-political strategy hell-bent on global domination and controlling the world’s mineral resources. This includes its pipeline routes, the revenues from which are crediting the accounts of western financiers and oil, armaments and logistics companies. Too many remain confused or ignorant thanks to duplicitous politicians and the compliant corporate media. To make matters worse, the lack of awareness of many is due to simple laziness on their part. It's up to them to fix that, and to work that out between themselves and the Lord.
The public cannot know the true scope of the reality. They will not be allowed to know, or at least for as long as the powers-that-be can get away with it. We are being treated like mushrooms, kept in fear and in the dark and fed nothing but crap. Too many allow themselves to be deceived by politicians and the media that churn out increasingly tired-sounding cliches about a 'war on terror' or a 'humanitarian crisis' to justify militarism's murderous brutality. And the result is that too many people accept the lie that rag-tag forces made up of vicious, faction-ridden fighters, illegally armed by NATO terror governments and unelected regimes in Saudi and Qatar, are fighting for freedom and democracy. Those forces and nations wouldn’t recognize freedom and democracy if they were hit in the face with it. The very idea of giving any power to the people is anathema to them. That’s why they seek to crush that out of existence as soon as it appears.
That applies whether it appears within the borders of the US, Britain or Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere in places that are of strategic importance to them. The US track record of crushing democratic governments is well documented by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges and historian William Blum. And look no further to see the attacks on Wiki Leaks, the Occupy, or Black Lives Matter Movements to see how democratic movements are treated at home. Look no further to see how democratic workers’ movements that took hundreds of years to build in Britain and elsewhere, and for the last 100 years here in the US, and in Europe are under sustained attack. Giving the people the opportunity to vote every four or five years, while in the meantime deceiving, misinforming and lying to them, has no more to do with democracy or freedom than what is happening in Syria right now.
If more ordinary folk were to turn their attention away from glossy sports events, cheap Sunday morning political debate, bogus reality shows, talent contests or all other forms of comatose infotainment on our TV's for one minute, they might well realize that the billionaire criminal elites that take their taxes and dictate national and foreign policy are in many cases a good deal worse than any number of the regimes they seek to demonize.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
The Saudi Crown Prince, the late Jamal Khashoggi,
and the Prince of Peace
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)
This past week, we found ourselves viewing the macabre pre-halloween spectacle of the murder of a Saudi national in a Saudi embassy in Turkey, as if it was a play-by-play for a sporting event. I would first like to say that we as a society have now been reduced to being unwilling witnesses to organized international assassination. The best way for all of us to force this intrusion out of our lives is to cancel our subscriptions to cable and satellite TV. But in the meantime, we are faced with the reality that political assassination is a common occurrence in today's politics. Our own Central Intelligence Agency has been directly linked to at least five political assassinations in the last 5 decades. They are Chilean dictator Salvador Allende, Muammar Khadafy of Libya, Osama Bin Laden of Saudi Arabia, our very own John F. Kennedy, the 37th president of the United States and his younger brother Robert 5 years later. The life sentence currently being served in federal prison by deposed Nicaraguan dictator Manuel Noriega is effectively the sixth instance of the CIA removing someone 'undesirable' (meaning, someone who puts people over profits instead of the other way around) from the reigns of power. The same can be said of Servia's Slobodan Milosevic, who has since died in captivity.
It is American petrodollars that have made the Saudi's into one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Their capitalist economic system mirrors that of the US. So it should be no surprise when a nation and a people emulate their economic and political fathers by assassinating those who have views and opinions contrary to their own. Just as America has been directly responsible for political assassinations in the past, their proteges the Saudi's have evidently killed Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. As of this writing, president Trump is blaming “rogue elements” within the Saudi government, mostly because that's what the Saudi's are telling the world. Unfortunately for the Saudi's, the world doesn't believe them and neither do I. The main reason president Trump is going easy on the Saudi's – at least for now – is because of his, and the military's, business interests in that country. We are still citizens of a country that puts profits ahead of people, namely the USA, and which is an accessory to murder if we let the Saudi's off the hook with respect to Jamal Khashoggi.
Everybody knows that one of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20: 13), which can be translated in modern terms as, “Don't you dare even think about killing another human being, excluding matters of self defense.” As I sit and contemplate what I just wrote, I cannot think of a single instance when it is OK to kill someone, say, for profit for example. Jesus Christ added to this more than 1,000 years later and clarified it further when he said, “21) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22) But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca', is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23) 'Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24) leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: verses 21-24)
I think a better translation of verse 22 would be, 'Anyone who holds a grudge against, or who refuses to forgive, another person for any reason calls down judgment upon themselves.' To the same degree they are angry with another, God will show that same anger back to that individual. In that same verse, the word 'raca', which is a profane Aramaic term of contempt, calls down God's judgment for the same reason. “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” This can be interpreted as an allegedly 'worthless' person, because there is no such thing in actuality. There is no way we can say we love God while hating other people all at once (see 1st John 4: 19-20). If we sincerely want to be used by the Lord Almighty for the betterment of his Kingdom, we must be willing to minister to anyone. There is also Biblical scripture that supports being a peace-loving person. Being tranquil and loving, practicing nurturing and compassion, these are ways of living taught by Jesus Himself at the Sermon on the Mount, and it's in all four gospels. Allow me to quote our Savior in this regard:
“You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who loved you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: verses 38-48)
But instead, Jesus said this prior to making that last statement, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt: 5: 7) Is our supposedly Christian nation living by these standards and obeying the commands of Jesus Christ? Quite the contrary, the US “leadership” and its military-industrial complex are embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently in Yemen and Libya, and has been playing the role of global policeman since the 1940's. For the last year or two, the Pentagon has been muttering about “regime change” in Syria and Iran. Maybe what America needs is some regime change at home instead of abroad. The Deep State, the Federal Reserve, the 'alphabet soup' spy and law enforcement agencies, and the Pentagon all need to either be done away with or merged and right-sized into something smaller and more accountable. Osama Bin Laden died long ago. The Drug War is an utter failure. And the Pentagon's ultimate creation, the Saudi “royal family”, has morphed into a murderous monstrosity.
One Sunday night nearly a decade ago, I watched the news as it crescendoed around the president’s speech declaring the death of Osama bin Laden. The talking heads worked capably with what few details they had. On the split screen, familiar spliced video footage replayed what little most of us know — or care to know — about bin Laden: wearing a turban, sitting drinking tea, a long salt and pepper beard, speaking to friends, crouching holding a machine gun, skyscrapers smoking. Blah, blah, blah. Twitter gave a way to take the public temperature. Some passed information without editorial: “Bin Laden is dead!” Others tried to score political points: “took Obama 2 years to do what Bush couldn’t do in 7,” or “THAT’S a ‘mission accomplished.’” Reports said impromptu crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero exuberantly chanting “USA! USA!,” singing our anthem. Others – like myself – retorted that they would not celebrate any person’s death, no matter who it was. Still others retrieved reams of unsettling data about what it has cost us to find and kill bin Laden, in dollars and human lives.
Finally, from those with an intimate connection to the innocents of 9/11, there were tweets about tears. Tears of relief? Tears because the news dragged them back to the still-tender memories of a 9/11? Yes and yes. All of these responses are authentic for a Christian who lives in America. Bin Laden has had more influence in the last decade over the way we live our lives than any other person. He was a wedge in our politics, he disrupted our ability to come and go freely; he triggered a vast global security and surveillance apparatus. He was directly or indirectly the focus of two Middle Eastern wars that affected the material well-being and peace of mind of millions here in America and across the world. He desecrated Islam and radicalized Christianity, making some Christians more enthusiastic about military action than they might have been otherwise, while making others more enthusiastic about trying to find peaceful solutions to global problems. He robbed people of mothers and fathers, took away their children. He made a whole nation feel vulnerable and fearful of unpredictable catastrophic violence.
One thing we might do well today is give permission to each other to feel all of the things that we might be feeling. There was no one manner by which to respond to Bin Laden’s death, because his life impacted all of us, sometimes in radically divergent ways. Beyond our feelings, we might also spend time considering our Lord’s call to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not easy. If we call ourselves Americans as well as Christians, we may feel a strong civic sense that what our government did in our name was the embodiment of public justice. But our political identity and our identity as followers of Jesus are rarely reconcilable. Jesus did not meet enemies with violence. He asserted that the way to loose ourselves of our enemies was, counter-intuitively, by loving them and forgiving them — by wanting God’s best for them and believing in the Holy Spirit’s power to convert any person to faithful obedience. Jesus implied that if the Spirit does not convert them to goodness in this life, any judgment of their deeds is to be left in the hands of their creator — God alone. Our job is to never cease praying that they receive God’s blessing.
In a way, I am not surprised by news of Jamal Khashoggi's death at the hands of the Saudi's. By becoming their sponsors on the world scene, mainly with respect to oil, in my eyes, bin Laden and the American Empire died long ago. We have died to goodness; we have died to mercy; we have died to peace. We have died to the things that God cares most about. Jamal Khashoggi was alive until this week — but we died to life a long time ago for being the sponsors of those who murdered him. I have wondered over the years about the confounding ability of human beings to resist the love of God. I wonder about these things for Jamal Khashoggi, and I wonder about the same things with respect to my own life. Today, as I have many days before, I pray for my enemy, the US military-industrial complex. I pray them all into the hands of the God of Justice and of Mercy.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Now accepting advance orders at half price through Monday, October 29th. "The Middle and Working Class Manifesto" (4th edition) by Rev. Paul J. Bern
This is the book for the millions who have fallen into poverty over the last 30 years, particularly in the US. This book goes beyond the demand for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, demanding free college and health care for every American, something every other developed country already has -- and so much more (like ending the drug war)!! All in one document for the first time ever!
Chapter 12: The Peaceful Revolution
Let me start this next-to-the-last chapter in this book by simply saying that the evidence is in regarding the future of the United States, and it is now plain to all of us that gut-wrenching changes are coming. The America that was the land of the free and the home of the brave has become the land of the impoverished, of the desperate and of the disenfranchised. The former land of opportunity known as the United States of America, where dreams were achieved and anything was possible if we put our minds to it and worked hard enough, has been turned into the land of serfdom; where the work ethic and the American Dream have become lies and where hope itself has become shattered. A bloodless coup, led by Wall Street gamblers and money worshipers as well as all the major banks and Fortune 100 companies, plus the lobbyist “profession” and insurance industry, has resulted in the corporate takeover of America. This has resulted in the financial subjugation of the American people, with this situation now devolving into open class warfare with the very wealthiest 1% of Americans seizing the wealth and assets of the remaining 99% of the population.
The first stage of this class war was won by the wealthy with the collaboration of none other than the US Congress, congressional lobbyists and corporate magnates. Jobs were exported, the power of labor unions has been emasculated, homes stolen from their owners under the guise of foreclosure, and pensions have evaporated. The costs of medical care and higher education are being put out of reach of an increasing number of hard working Americans. Standards of living and the dollar are in free fall and old-fashioned notions of job security are but a lame joke. The least common denominator of all this is that the rich folks' revolution was accomplished by firing at least three shots at President Kennedy (there may have been four shots fired that day in Dallas).
In the same way, the people's counter-revolution (dare I say American insurgency?) must also start out as peaceful, with weapons being banned at all public and private meetings or events – provided that those who are there to keep the peace do so peacefully. As I wrote in the last chapter, I choose to follow in Rev. Dr. King's footsteps and so to emulate his example, but especially the example of Christ, the Prince of Peace. But it was also Christ who said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10: 34) Meaning, if they start shooting at us, we will return fire!
The time to start organizing and planning for this is now. If we wait too long, the disastrous things that I have already written about will take place and it will be too late. The signs that this is indeed about to occur are all around us. As I write this, the price of gasoline is at or near $3.00 per gallon. If the price of liquid fuel continues to rise at the same rate as it has been, it will approach or even surpass $4.00 by the end of 2019, and will likely exceed $7.00 by the end of 2024. What do you think will happen when things get to a point where it is costing Americans $200.00 to fill their pickup trucks? That day is on the horizon, so the time to start planning is now. Of course anyone may feel free to disagree with my assessment, but they do so at their own risk. We currently have 18 million people who are either out of work, working part-time when they desire full time, or who have dropped out of the job market completely. Of all the remaining US workers who have jobs, over one third of them are making less money than they were at the last job they worked. There have been over 8 million US jobs exported overseas since 2001, and those jobs are never coming back.
There have been 2.5 million foreclosures in the US since the beginning of 2008. In 2018 as I write this, we are on track for another 50,000 foreclosures this year, and the main stream press has said nothing about it. The Federal Reserve, the privately owned financial powerhouse that finances all US government debt, was formed in 1913 with a 99-year charter. That charter expired on December 21, 2012, coincidentally the same day that the Mayan and Hopi Indian calendars ended. Yet the Federal Reserve continues to operate. The US dollar will inevitably collapse once it ceases to be the world's trade currency of choice, plunging the entire globe into financial chaos. No one knows exactly what the outcome of such a scenario will be, but anarchy could result. The US government would no doubt put martial law into effect in such an eventuality, assuming we still have a government left.
The USA's biggest creditor is China. As I reported on in the first half of this book, a secret agreement(s) has been entered into between America and China by those who do not have the best interests of working Americans at heart. This agreement basically says that if the US defaults on its debt to China, or if China decides to call in part or all of the American debt that it holds, it may assume control of American assets of its own choosing. This is up to and including physical repossession of US wealth and/or assets such as real estate. That's right, American real estate. So, if you live in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana or Washington state you will have two choices after December 21, 2018. You can either liquidate everything and move east while you still have time, or start brushing up on your Chinese. This is not a drill.
I ended the last chapter with portions of an article I saved regarding why the demise of the American empire, or more accurately of the capitalist economic system as we have known it, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Under no circumstances should we fear the inevitable end of the American empire or the demise of free market capitalism, but instead we should regard them as opportunities to build a better world for our kids and grand-kids. There are too many people sitting around muttering and complaining about how bad things are, with much pessimism about the future. We need to stop saying to ourselves, “OMG, we're totally screwed”, and start looking around for ways to take charge of our own situation. The days of waiting around for the government to act are over and done with. It's time that “we the people” retook the reins of power from the rich, powerful and well-connected who stole them from us.
Some may ask if there are any legal implications to harboring such an attitude as this. Can protesting against the system in a peaceful way get us/myself thrown into jail? Let me just say quite plainly that there is a huge difference between treason or sedition committed against one's country, as opposed to lawful assembly, the organizing of workers and peaceful protest, all of which are rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the US Constitution. You have every right to take back your country and to reclaim your former position as a productive member of the middle and working classes. You also have the right to do so with a loaded weapon in your hand. This is not for anyone to act in a predatory way towards their neighbor. It's to keep the US government from acting in a predatory way towards us! The US Constitution guarantees it.
The truth of the matter is that things here in the US have deteriorated economically and politically to the point where concerned Americans from all walks of life have no choice but to begin protesting, demonstrating and marching for economic equality. We can begin by demanding a living wage for everyone, free lifetime health care and public education, and an end to the endless foreign wars that we can't afford, and for continued full employment. But it is a sad reality today that we middle and working class Americans, in solidarity with the poor, have none of the above while every other developed country in the world already has all of the above. Well, if our government isn't doing one freakin' thing to uphold those whom it governs, then we have a government that has no purpose for existence. And a government that has no useful purpose, or who has abused their authority by oppressing or attacking the citizens instead of governing as is currently the case, must be “altered or abolished” (according to the US Declaration of Independence) by “we the people”.
In today's America, those in power have completely disavowed the key goal of democratic government – which is, as the Constitution put it so admirably in its opening sentence, to "promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty." There is nothing in that Preamble about promoting the welfare of the business classes. The only justifiable reason for doing so would have to be in order to promote the general welfare. And yet decades of policies aimed at promoting the welfare of the corporate elite and to a lesser extent promoting the welfare of the business classes in general (what used to be called the "trickle-down theory"), have demonstrably not only not promoted the general welfare; they have worsened the general welfare. Whether in Democratic or Republican hands, America's governance has led to a declining standard of living, a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, and a gradual increase in the underlying level of unemployment (the "acceptable" base level of unemployment which establishment economists consider to be "full" employment), not to mention to the extraordinary current level of unemployment. Trickle-down," it turns out, really means "piss on."
Any new jobs created are lower wage, and prone to interruption, given that they are in services, and aren't linked to any major capital investment. And at that point such a government has lost its reason for being. It explains why we aren't getting any kind of re-regulation of the predatory financial industry. The goal of deregulation was never to make life better for average Americans. It was to enrich the financiers, and it did that very well. And no deregulation is going to happen, because the goal of Washington politicians is to continue to enrich those financiers. It explains why we're still at war in Afghanistan. There is no conceivable threat posed by this poorest of nations located, landlocked, in a part of the globe that is maximally remote from the US. Yet we are being committed to an endless war there, costing a nominal $100 billion a year (times two or three when you add in the financing of the debt, and the costs of care for the injured troops over their lifetimes), because that war enriches the munitions industry, and also provides justification for an annual $800 billion military budget – a staggering sum that sucks the very life out of any program aimed at "improving the general welfare.
This author isn't the only conscientious American who came to the conclusion that everyone would be better served with an all-new government and economic system in place of the old. Of course, that could well mean a new Constitutional Convention as well as the collapse of the existing “2-party” political system. In my estimation this is something that is long overdue. A peaceful, people's revolution is the only way to take back our government.
In “God-blessed America” (sometimes I wonder about that), the “land of the free”, our founding fathers' sacred idea of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" has become but a cruel joke. Our political system is openly rigged against the best interests of the American people. A massive market mechanism is securely entrenched in our political system where political influence is openly bought and sold. Tens of thousands of highly-paid middlemen called "lobbyists" facilitate the legal transfer of millions between moneyed special interests and our so-called "representatives" in Congress. This very lucrative business of buying and selling political influence has become the driving engine of our government. Our so-called "representatives" in Congress vie for millions in legal bribes in return for delivering billions of our tax dollars to moneyed special interests. It's pure folly to think our current political system could possibly look out for the best interests of the American people.
Our so-called "representatives" are cutting social spending just when the American people need it most. Yet they continue to spend hundreds of billions on weapons of mass destruction to "protect us" from our enemies. But most of our "enemies" are purposely created by our government's blatantly unjust foreign policies (that openly support regimes that oppress millions of human beings) and by our violent military occupations of their homelands. Without a perpetual supply of "enemies", "defense" industry profits would plummet. If that weren't enough, our so-called "representatives" have worked hard to keep America the number one weapons merchant on earth. Our so-called "representatives" continue to support the sale of billions in weapons to oppressive regimes around the world, which creates still more "enemies", which creates more special interests profits, etc. But that's exactly how our current political system is designed to work.
Moreover, our current political system guarantees both moneyed special interests and our so-called "representatives" must participate in this influence-peddling scam against the American people (because they'd be stupid not to). Big corporations would be at a competitive disadvantage (and would cheat their shareholders) if they refused to buy political influence. Likewise, our so-called "representatives" would be at a competitive disadvantage getting elected or staying in office if they refused to sell political influence. But that's exactly how our current political system is designed to work. Trying to reform our current political system using that very same corrupt system is just futile folly. It's like trying to fix your broken arms using your broken arms. Our current political system is designed to be reform proof. It has well-established mechanisms to protect and maintain the status quo. That's why "campaign finance reform" and all other such efforts to "reform" our current political system from within are doomed to either fail outright or be so watered-down as to be useless.
rev-o-lu-tion (Dictionary.com) noun 1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.
Congressional elections are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We can't vote our government back to us. A peaceful, people's revolution is the only way we can take back our government. The multibillion dollar business of buying and selling political influence (currently the driving engine of our government) must be overthrown, repudiated and thoroughly replaced if democracy is to survive in America . This massive influence-peddling scam must become our number one political issue because it underlies and thus greatly affects all other issues. If we don't get big money out of our politics, our democracy and our well-being will continue to decline and surely we'll take the rest of the world down with us.
We can't afford to sit by like sheep meekly waiting for slaughter. We must find ways to hinder and harass the corporate state at every turn. Nothing will change unless we, the people, begin to organize radical acts of civil disobedience to disrupt our current political system, upping the ante until this massive influence-peddling scam is thoroughly exposed and eliminated. We, the people, must take back our government by peaceful revolution because it will never be given back voluntarily. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." (John F. Kennedy)
Anyone who wants to place an advance order, the print version can be ordered from my website at https://www.authorrevpauljbern.com for half price up until 10/29/2018;
only $14.95 until then, $29.95 after Oct. 30th, 2018. Thanks ever so much!
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Wisdom, Kanye, President Trump and the Bible
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For a website view, click here :-)
One of the primary purposes of this weekly blog of mine is to juxtapose current events with the Bible in an effort to derive some truth and teach some life lessons for the mutual benefit of all my viewers. As I write this I have a total of just over 10,000 followers, with a decent percentage (it fluctuates) of those actively engaged at any given time. In keeping with this 'tradition' of sorts, I will once again endeavor into recent occurrences in an effort to share some useful nuggets of truth. This week, my topic will be the meeting in the Oval Office between Kanye West and President Trump. I'm not going to bother commenting on anything that Mr. West said. By now, everybody has already seen and heard what “Kanye” said and how he said it. Suffice it to say he didn't present himself very well. Not only that, he didn't represent his Black brothers and sisters very well, either.
I do recall at one point where I heard Mr. West say he had once been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but that he had sought other forms of treatment instead. Speaking as a man who is in my 9th year of being in recovery from a bipolar diagnosis, I would respectfully advise Kanye West to return to whomever told him that and seek his or her counseling. Whether he agrees with that therapist or not has nothing to do with how beneficial therapy may be for him. That's all I care to say, since I am not here to judge Kanye West. What I am here for this week is to shed some light on something we all need more of – wisdom! There is no such thing as someone who does not need any more wisdom. Such an individual would be a complete idiot to think that. Not only that, but people who have stopped learning have effectively died already. Even though they walk around, eating, sleeping, breathing and talking, they are already dead because they are reacting to life instead of living it.
I do not blame anyone who has these kinds of issues that they must deal with, and that includes Kanye and myself, by the way. I take medicine daily to control my symptoms, and it works reasonably well. Mr. West would do well to consider doing the same as myself, based on what little I've seen of that Oval Office meeting this past week. I maintain that the reason people sometimes say and do seemingly irrational things is because of the way we were educated. It's not all their fault! By all accounts America has a failing public school system, although to be fair there are notable exceptions to this. Too many people today lack wisdom while failing to realize it. I'm certainly no genius myself, so I will use the Bible to point out some authentic, God given definitions of what real wisdom is supposed to look like.
1) “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2) At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3) beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: 4) “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. 5) You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. 6) Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7) My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 8) All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 9) To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge. 10) Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11) for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 8, verses 1-11)
Now you can all see what I mean about Kanye West, President Trump, stupid TV shows and everything else that goes with them. All these people and current events are the result of a completely backward educational system, where everyone thinks they have to go and get knowledge imparted to them by some third party they don't even know! Going to an educational institution is the opposite of what the Bible says: “1) “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2) At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3) beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: 4) “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.” While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to obtain knowledge – internet use is a good example – obtaining wisdom is not the same process. Wisdom can oftentimes come and seek us through the life lessons we learn along the way. This is sometimes called “the school of hard knocks”. Those who learn their lessons the hard way often turn out to be the ones who benefit the most from the lessons learned.
“10) Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11) for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Life lessons are worth more than 1,000 bachelor's degree's. Period – end of story! And if this is not enough evidence to prove my point, then good!! I will take it upon myself to serve up another scrumptious chunk from the following chapter in the Book of Proverbs.
“ 3) She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, 4) “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 5) “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6) Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” 7) Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8) Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9) Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. 10) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11) For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12) If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” (Proverbs 9, verses 3-12)
Let's not forget that these are the words of King Solomon of Jerusalem, son of King David, and the wisest human who ever lived besides Jesus Christ, who was half God and half man. Now let's be honest, everybody has made mistakes in life that were real whoppers – I'm certainly no exception! But what did Solomon say about this? “To those who have no sense she says, 5) “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6) Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” Very few people are born geniuses. Albert Einstein was one, Stephen Hawking was another.
And yet to those who seem to have no sense at all, such as this past week's Oval Office meeting between Kanye West and President Trump. There is a solution for all those people who won't read it, or who don't believe in it. All they have to do is read the Bible for themselves. Never mind what you've heard from some televangelist who says you owe God 10% of your paycheck. I'm writing about some real, authentic wisdom. President Trump says he reads his Bible and he self-identifies as Christian. I hope Trump knows better than to lie about that.
Somewhere along the way, a lot of people seem to have gotten the idea that reading the Bible is really dumb, or just plain bad or otherwise offensive, or 'politically incorrect'. But the following verses define the problem very well indeed. “7) Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8) Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9) Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” There are those people in life who perceive this issue and resolve to do something about it. And then there are those who mock, harass and bully those who are trying to better themselves. They are verbally abusive and relentless in hounding people whom they love to hate. That's why they're called 'bullies'.
One thing is for sure – it's plain to see that our Bibles can be used as a tool to determine who our real friends are. If they mock your beliefs, do not hesitate to correct them. If their mockery gets all the worse and they are people you know, you might as well cross them off your 'friends' list and delete them from your social media. They are not your friends, they are there to work against you. But if we rebuke the wise, they will love us for it. So, never be afraid to rebuke someone if they get too far out of line. It will gain you new friends, while forcing your enemies out into the open.
“10) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11) For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” Fear of the Lord, isn't that what it says? Does that mean we're all expected to be running around like delinquent children, trying to evade horrible punishment from some angry-as-hell God? No way, nowhere near that, in fact. While “fear of the Lord” can be the expectation of punishment for doing wrong, in the original translations this actually reads as counting on the benefits of doing right. Because, and this is what the mockers can't seem to understand, the benefits of doing right outweigh the “benefits” of doing wrong. One may well be able to get ahead for the short term by doing wrong – that is, turn a quick profit – but the long-term consequences can outweigh the benefits by a long shot.
America has reaped the benefits of scrambling for the profit motive. We've become the richest country in the world, but to me this rings hollow because of the means we have used to obtain the gains received. Our penchant for greed and for gain has left us with a debt-based economy that has run its course. The entire world is soaked in debts it cannot repay. When the economic crash comes, and it will be fairly soon, we will have deserved every bit of loss that we sustain. And it's all because we've lost all touch with wisdom.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
Winter Arrives Early for American Workers,
Especially Older Ones Like Myself
Pastor Paul J. Bern
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“....for the worker is worth his/her wages.” (Luke 10: 7)
“Do not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” (Deut. 25: 4)
“Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (James 5: 4)
The US Department of Labor's announcement on Friday of this week about US unemployment numbers for September were simply stunning, primarily for their untruthfulness. Really now, 3.7%, this is what those inside the Beltway expect us all to believe? Granted, jobs are plentiful, there are no two ways about it. But this figure is only for those working full time 40 hour per week jobs. What is being swept under the rug is the huge drop in wages that has been gradually ongoing for decades. Moreover, those who are working multiple part-time jobs are not being counted at all. Neither are those such as myself, who have simply given up looking for work permanently. America's unemployment rate may well be at 3.7%, but the quality and pay rate for those jobs are abysmal.
In point of fact, due to the minimum wage here in Georgia where I live being a paltry $7.25 per hour, many people who work still rely on public assistance, mostly for groceries and utilities. The minimum wage in over half the country is still stuck at this level. In a country that bills itself as the world's richest, a minimum wage of only $7.25 hourly is a crime against humanity! There are even those who work who are homeless and living in shelters or with relatives – even sharing living quarters with strangers. Such is the state of affairs for the average American worker here in the early 21st century. We have all been sucked into a whirlpool of debt slavery!
I was among the least fortunate. After being forced out of IT after the dot-com crash in 2001 I changed careers, putting myself and my small pickup truck to work as a contract delivery driver for a local courier company. I did just fine for over 3 ½ years, and I stayed busy the majority of the time. But then I suffered a stroke in March 2006, 4 months after my 50th birthday. Although I did recover from my stroke after a week or two, I had a hard time handling the heavy boxes of printed matter and other small freight jobs that were my bread and butter. Then my van abruptly broke down. It needed an $800.00 fuel pump, and I only had half that much, so my days as a courier were over. After a 4-month period of homelessness during the summer of 2006, I managed to re-enter the technology field I was trained in that I had left 4 years previously.
I had the good fortune of landing a job as a phone rep working at IBM's main call center in Sandy Springs, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The following year, the agency I was working for laid off all the oldest people, and I was one of the first to go. Over the next 6 years, I bounced around from one IT staffing position to another. All the jobs were temporary, even though I wanted permanent work. While this was happening, the frequency of those temporary assignments gradually decreased. By the fall of 2008, I could only find short-term assignments, and that's when I ran out of money and unemployment benefits. For the second time in three years, I found myself homeless and unable to sustain myself, and this time I was without a car. One day I wandered into a homeless shelter asking for help, and the next thing I knew I was on my way to a hospital. It turns out I had double pneumonia, plus blood clots in my legs, and I had no idea I was in that bad of shape. I was also suicidal after being homeless and on the street for the previous three weeks. I was a real mess.
I'm now in my tenth year of recovery from the gradual but complete collapse of my physical and mental health from 2006-2008. Personally, I credit my faith in Christ's healing power for pulling me through. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, chronic depression, and PTSD, not counting my cardiac issues. I've since learned that recovery from mental health issues are similar to addiction recovery – I take it one day at a time. But, as we all know, the first step to any recovery from a health crisis, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual, is to be honest enough with ourselves to admit to the existence of the problem. Only then can one recognize that it is advantageous to find ways of dealing with one's illness – not only for oneself, but for all we know or come into contact with.
My original plan once I was released from the hospital was to get well enough to return to the workforce, but after being out of the job market for nearly 2 years, all attempts at obtaining employment in my field – either as a contractor or an employee – proved fruitless. So I looked into retraining for a new career as a long haul truck driver, only to be told that I didn't qualify for financial aid because I had a poor credit rating due to my unpaid medical bills (I had no insurance when my stroke occurred). While all this was happening, the bottom fell out as far as wages were concerned within the IT industry. Technicians and support personnel like myself who used to make $20-35 dollars an hour are now being paid $10-$12 dollars per hour for essentially the same work, and that's assuming they're lucky enough to have a job. Financially speaking, it is a profoundly sad state of affairs.
But that is only half the story for myself and for the multitudes of others who suffer various ailments that are brought on by being under extreme stress. The rest of the story for nearly all who are managing a physical or mental illness diagnosis, and especially those who are suffering while not yet diagnosed, can be summed up in two words: Economic devastation. During my recovery I discovered that reentering the job market was nearly impossible for a man in his fifties like myself. After an additional 1.5 years of searching fruitlessly in my field (I was a computer/IT pro with a total of 21 years experience), I was forced to settle for being put on disability instead. I hate depending on the federal government because I do not trust the government! Any country that spends more on wars overseas than it does looking after its citizens at home is a government gone mad. I wanted to return to work but I was prevented from doing so, partially because I can't afford to own a car anymore. That, and because companies won't hire older workers because we won't work for 8 bucks an hour (we know economic slavery when we see it). In effect, the system has kicked me to the curb unjustly, and my case is only one of tens of millions.
But, if America had a system in place for retraining American workers who can't afford a student loan, I and the millions of others like me would have a way to train for new vocations and professions without having to pass a credit check. If I could have had a way to do this, I could have gone back to work as a long haul trucker and became a taxpayer again. Instead, I subsist on my tiny little disability check, living off the taxpayers when I would rather be contributing. Tough luck for me, I guess. But even though I'm in my sixties, it shouldn't have to be this way for formerly hard-working American taxpayers like myself who can still be productive. So now you know why I continue to work from home without pay, blogging and writing nonfiction books about my passion for social justice and equality, as well as for my faith.
So, I am forced to conclude that the American system is rigged. I can't go back to work even though I'm still healthy enough to do so and would like to. I can't go back to school due to an artificially constructed financial barrier known as student loans. Although I'm certain that I could be successful in learning a new trade even at my age, that does not matter because I can't pay the price of admission. The for-profit health care system that we are currently stuck with is the same way. Health care and higher education in the early 21st century US are easily available for those who can afford it while both have been intentionally put of out reach for those who cannot. And that, people, is a recipe for revolution any day of the year.