Sunday, November 25, 2018

Why I boycotted Black Friday again this year

The Holidays In America: Blind Consumerism
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For website viewing, click here :-)

The psychopathology of consumerism and the subtle brain washing of mind control: We have become programmed like robots to spend more than we can afford on things we don't really need. Like sheep headed to the trimmers, we dutifully spend our meager incomes at the bidding of a myriad of shop-till-you-drop gimmicks while our highly vaunted capitalist economic system fleeces us all. The worst part is that the useless junk we buy doesn't benefit the US economy, it benefits mainly Red China's. Those who control America's shadow government – the real movers and shakers from behind the scenes, not their puppets in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court – have sold out our country to the opposing side and have thus committed treason.

The reason most people don't care about, or won't even consider, this glaring reality is because they can “live so much cheaper” buying the very inexpensively made garbage that China has been dumping on America's shores since the 1980's. Cheaper at first, yes, but due to shoddy manufacturing and poor quality, Chinese and many other Pacific Rim products are notoriously short-lived and invariably cheap imitations of much better quality merchandise that used to be made here in the US. But that, of course, was before corporate America and Wall Street shipped all those middle class American jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar. And so we fight and claw for the thriftiest deal at the various suburban big box stores, purchasing with our meager earnings from our multiple part time jobs (because there are no other jobs available), shopping at other chain stores who offer pathetically and similarly low wages and zero benefits to their staff. Just like your employer treats you.

So, how much can we save on all these wonderful items (LOL)? That depends on whether one can afford to pay cash while doing their shopping or not. If one uses plastic instead of paper, that person always ends up paying far more in interest, fees and hidden charges than they would have had they bought a similar higher quality item at the finest store in town and paid cash. How much could we save now? Let's ask some more pertinent questions and explore some far more evident realities about this issue. For example, what about the Chinese workers slaving in dangerous non-union factories for 1-2 dollars a day? What does the company make off the deal? Who is actually winning? Is it really the mesmerized consumer, all teary-eyed with joy while giggling gleefully at 30, 40, and 50% off deals? Or could it be that the whole stinking thing is rigged from beginning to end?

Of course it is! Just look at what is being sold and calculate how much it costs to make it. If I look at a can of pork and beans on the grocery shelf and it's priced at 75 cents, it doesn't take a marketing genius to figure out that 75 cents is an outrageous markup. The cans are made by the millions, so they cost just a couple of pennies each to manufacture at most. The contents of the can usually cost even less, and ditto for the label. So we're looking at 2 cents for the can, 1-2 cents more for the contents, and maybe an extra penny or two for the label. Add another penny or two as margin for error and we have 7 cents. Seven cents, and the retail price is 75 cents? So the gross profit is more than ten times the cost, or a markup in excess of 1,000%! Or, consider a far more expensive item such as the latest I-phone. They sell for about $700-1,000 dollars and up plus tax, but there was a posting on the Internet just recently to the effect that it only costs Apple, Inc. about $120-$180 to manufacture I-phones, depending on the model. That's because they were made in China, resulting in a 450-600% markup. So how do you like capitalism now?

"Oh," the politicians and talking heads say to us on TV, "it's the American workers. They don't want to work menial jobs like canning pork and beans. And we can't assemble I-phones in America because its workers aren't qualified." Never mind that there are many thousands of recent college graduates who are living with their parents because they are unable to support themselves. There simply are no jobs for these poor young adults, and yet they are expected to repay predatory and exorbitant student loans. The careers for which they have been training have already been out-sourced to the third world during the last 4+ years that these hapless individuals have spent earning their degrees. They have all been robbed of their educations, which have been rendered worthless by the multinational corporations and the US military-industrial complex who are running the whole show.

Yet we are expected to perform our patriotic duty as well as appropriately celebrate the “feast of capitalism” as we shop till we drop looking for that most fantastic deal. We are in the process of being programmed to slave at multiple part time jobs working for starvation wages and with no health benefits while being expected to buy $300,000.00 houses, $50,000.00 cars and trucks, plus big screen TV's and $1,000.00 I-phones. While all this is occurring, certain employees of multiple multinational corporations are being well paid to line the pockets of senators, congressmen and supreme-court justices in Washington D.C., while sitting on presidential cabinets making decisions regarding our planet's future, our future, and our children's future. Is it any wonder that the entire world seems to be coming unglued? Is it any wonder that the American population is increasingly enraged?

Meanwhile our consumerism is devouring the planet into what might soon become more lifeless than the moon or a Wall Street tycoon's conscience. Yet, mesmerized by commercials with intelligence levels less than a jackass after having a brain amputation, we roll blindly into the gates of the shopping centers turned shopping malls turned humongous big box stores. To share more with you about that which I'm writing, consider the following 2011 release from the Associated Press (republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2011):

"A shopper in Los Angeles pepper-sprayed her competition for an X-box and scuffles broke out elsewhere around the United States as bargain-hunters crowded malls and big-box stores in an earlier-than-usual start to the greed-fueled madness known as Black Friday. For the first time, chains such as Target, Best Buy and Kohl's opened their doors before midnight on the most anticipated shopping day of the year. Toys R Us opened for the second straight year on Thanksgiving itself. And some shoppers arrived with sharp elbows. On Thanksgiving night, a Walmart in Los Angeles brought out a crate of discounted X-boxes, and as a crowd waited for the video game players to be unwrapped, a woman fired pepper spray at the other shoppers 'in order to get an advantage,' police said. Ten people suffered cuts and bruises in the chaos, and 10 others had minor injuries from the spray, authorities said. The woman got away in the confusion, and it was not immediately clear whether she got an X-box. On Friday morning, police said, two women were injured and a man was charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. And a man was arrested in a scuffle at a jewelry counter at a Walmart in Kissimmee, Fla. In the U.S., Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has taken steps in recent years to control its Black Friday crowds following the 2008 death of one of its workers in a stampede of shoppers. This year, it staggered its door-buster deals instead of offering them all at once."

Lennon and McCartney of the Beatles wrote in the song "Revolution", "You say you want a revolution, well you know, we'd all love to change your head." Yes, it is more than changing Wall Street or who resides in the White House. It is, ultimately, about changing ourselves. If we all really want some serious change, then change must start from within. We must reject materialism collectively as a people in order to save the world from ourselves. Speak from your heart to your kids about consumerism, greed and how they are affecting the planet as well as our behavior. Become an environmentalist and make your kids proud. Help them to understand that it's not about how much we have, but rather how much we contribute. Life is not about how much we own or the value of our possessions. Life is all about making a stand for good things like faith, mercy, kindness, and above all, love.

Instead of buying your wife a new car and maybe going into debt, take her up on the highest place around where you live, or to some favorite romantic spot, and renew your vows to her. Instead of buying your husband a new bag of golf clubs, give him a night he will never forget. Enjoy each other and be loving to each other. To enjoy is to enjoin, to enjoin is to unite. Everything else, particularly material wealth, takes a back seat to love.

Consumerism, capitalism and the vain pursuit of worldly goods keeps us isolated by gimmicks of sensationalist advertising of strikingly beautiful women, absolutely perfect children and gorgeous, flaming hunks of men that are created off the corporate mold. To put it simply, the corporate mold is a load of BS. And who is being molded in all these advertising gimmicks? You are! For what purpose? To make others rich at your expense. The blue chip corporations have a very good reason for doing all this. As long as they can keep us isolated, we can never be united. Don't go there, never isolate yourself. Keep your money for the hard times ahead. Find richness in your heart, your spirit and your character and share that this year instead.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Midterm Elections: Why the American People No Longer Have a Voice

A Symptom of American Implosion:
Our Broken and Rigged Voting System
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
For a website view, click here :-)

Now that the mid-term elections have come and gone, we the people – the voting electorate – have been reminded once again of two inescapable facts about America's voting system. These two facts have existed for longer than I have been alive, and I can assure you all that 63 years is plenty long enough. The first fact I'd like to state is that nearly half the country simply never makes it to the polls. In spite of the fact that there was record voter turnout for a mid-term election this time around – and that's always a good thing – still in all, only 61% of eligible voters cast ballots. Thirty-nine percent of eligible voters either didn't bother, or couldn't.

First, let me give an honorable mention to those who couldn't vote because they had to work. The vast majority of these individuals would have voted if they could, but their employment kept them from doing so. That's the nicest way I can think of to put that at the moment, but let's be realistic. The reason these workers can't take time off to go and vote is because they'd lose their jobs, or, because they make so little money as it is that losing as little as one hour's pay is more than they can bear. That, my dear readers, is an economic barrier to voting imposed on the masses by the wealthy business owners, most of whom tend to vote conservative. Working class folks, by and large, are independent or 'blue' voters who vote for 'blue' or progressive candidates. What better way for the wealthy to keep their congressional reps in Washington than to keep their employees from voting for the opposition?

On the other hand, we have those voters, the rest of the 39%, who simply don't bother. They think their vote doesn't matter, that it won't make any difference as far as fixing a broken government is concerned. So they either stay at home and play games on their computers or gaming consoles, hang out with friends and family, and a few just sit home and party all night long. I guess they must think their stupid games and their equally stupid buddies are more important than the broken world that everyone should be devoting all our time to fixing. I guess they must think it feels better to get drunk and stoned than it does to be a part of the solution, to be a part of humanity that's on the rise instead of settling for being victims of their circumstances. America is a country that's in serious trouble from a number of standpoints, and people who won't help fix America's problems make themselves little more than dead weight to the rest of us who really care. People who don't care leave holes in time.

The second fact of life that America must reconcile herself with is our election system is being gamed by the candidates on both sides, and there are many candidates who cheat and get away with it. This is nothing new – stories like this have circulated for as long as I've been alive. It is now an established fact, for example, that Bernie Sanders got cheated out of the Democratic nomination back in 2016. The local elections can be even worse. Here in Atlanta where I live, we had a case back in 2004 where a man who got elected sheriff of DeKalb county, Georgia was assassinated by a hit man hired by the opposing candidate. The loser of that election got life without parole. And just days ago, again here in Georgia, Democrat Stacy Abrams lost the governor's race to Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State who waited until after the election to resign his post. That's because the Secretary of State is responsible for Georgia's elections. So Brian Kemp used his position as Georgia Secretary of State to ensure his election to the governor's mansion. Nicely done, Governor Kemp, way to shoe-horn your way into the top job in the state! Bravo (not).

To call this disheartening simply doesn't do it justice. Brian Kemp's former opponent, Stacy Abrams, has called off her campaign, but understandably refuses to concede. Accusing the governor-elect of cheating his way into office, Abrams has vowed to file a federal lawsuit charging “gross mismanagement of the entire election”. The apostle Paul wrote about circumstances similar to this during his own time. “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means that you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God?....” (1st Corinthians 6: 7-9) In this instance, Paul wrote about lawsuits among believers, but the same logic still applies. Why not rather be the loser than to cheat and win? Why not rather be defeated in the eyes of men and women while being victorious in the presence of the Lord?

But cheating during the elections is exactly what's been going on in America for at least the last six decades or more, and the Georgia governor's race is only the latest example. If our elections are broken, the people no longer have a voice. That's the ugly truth facing Americans today. The voice of the people is being silenced, and I offer the following excerpt from Yahoo Money News, Saturday November 17th, 2018 as proof: “Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) appeared to endorse voter suppression during a campaign stop this month, saying efforts to undermine voting among liberals at certain colleges would be a “great idea.” “And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote,” Hyde-Smith can be heard telling a small crowd of young people outside her campaign bus in a video taken Nov. 3 and posted on online Thursday. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the Senate in April following the retirement of Thad Cochran, faces Democrat Mike Espy in a Nov. 27 runoff election. The Trump-backed Republican also came under fire last weekend for apparent racist remarks, joking with a crowd about attending a public hanging.....

If recently-elected, or appointed, public officials are saying things like this, it makes me wonder what those who are well-established might be saying among themselves. With talk like I just documented above, there's no telling what's being said, but you can be sure it's contemptuous of working people. That's us. Because of this, the American people have a big problem on their hands. They are no longer in control of their country. The government has been in the hands of the Shadow Government, a.k.a. the Deep State, ever since the assassination of president Kennedy back in 1963. I was 8 years old when Kennedy was killed, and I still remember his assassination quite clearly even to this day. It was as traumatic back then as 9/11 was when it occurred. And the country hasn't been the same since.

We have got to figure out a way to take our country back from these Deep State operators. The prophet Zechariah mentioned this in his prophecy for Judah, one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel. “The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like a sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle.” (Zechariah 10: 2-3) Those words were written nearly 2,600 years ago. Today, the 'lost tribes of Israel' are generally viewed by many theologians as the United States, which has the world's largest population of Jewish people. So these words can be just as easily applied to the USA today as they were to the ancient Kingdom of Israel back in Zechariah's day.

“The idols speak deceit” could be considered our televisions and computers (and let's not forget all those phones), and “diviners that see visions that lie”, could be all the phony preachers and bogus televangelists who preach the Word of God for profit. We also are stuck with a crop of leaders who lead for profit, putting their own self interests ahead of the country, as well as their own constituents. “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock....” I warn you all solemnly as I have before, the United States of America is coming under judgment. The outrageous mistreatment of America's citizens by our leadership in politics, business and the clergy has infuriated Almighty God. The cries of those who just barely live from paycheck to paycheck have reached his ears, and He has, I am certain, much compassion for his people who work so diligently for so little. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. At some point, something's got to give. The only question remains, will our country survive what's coming? It won't take very long to find out. Pray for America!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stopping Gun Violence in America Will Involve Changing More Minds, Not Passing More Laws

To Stop Gun Violence in America,

We Must Acquire “the Mind of Christ”
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)

I could start by writing at length how sick and tired people have become of America's gun violence problem. I'm skipping all that. The news media is already filled with the opinions of those who, in the long run, matter little if at all. I'm skipping the psychoanalysis too. Don't hand me all the utterances of the do-nothings who spend their days pointing out problems without making any effort at coming up with any solutions. You all know the ones I'm talking about, and I don't mean everyone reading this, either – not by a long shot. I'm talking about all the TV and radio pundits who make their living by agitating and provoking people. I know the gunman in the Thousand Oaks, California mass shooting had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suffer from PTSD myself, but the source of my disorder is from growing up in an abusive foster-care situation rather than from the battlefield. There are a lot of people who have PTSD, but none of the rest of us has arbitrarily decided to go out and mow down a dozen or more people. I can't imagine doing such a thing myself. I find the very thought revolting.

They can call whatever they do whatever they want. I call it 'violently anti-social behavior'. And yet the majority of these agitators on radio and TV are church goers. That's the part that drives me nuts – from the vantage point of the pulpit, that's what I'm seeing – that people today would rather fight each other than help each other. Soon after, the acquisition of such argumentative mindsets devolves into violence because intolerance devalues others to the point that simply killing a few is somehow OK. Taking a life – any life – just because one has deemed it to be necessary, is never OK. We have lost sight of the fact that life is sacred because it comes from sacred origins, whose name is the Almighty God.

The Bible does have some things to say about this. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letters to the Corinthian churches, and I quote: “6) We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7) No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8) None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9) However, as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him' — 10) these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” (1st Corinthians 2: 6-10)

The first thing we can derive from verse 6 is that we should not wait on the government to fix our problems because the government lacks the wisdom to fix anything as it currently stands. There it is, right there in the Bible. God holds the solutions we seek, not government. As for the rest of us, it's not so much that we lack the wisdom, it's that we can't seem to agree on how to go about ending gun violence in America. We cannot reach a consensus because many of us refuse to acknowledge the existence of a Higher Power. Never mind the Christian concepts of a risen Christ and an Almighty God for just a minute – and all my Christian brethren please bear with me for a moment, because I'm seriously going somewhere with this today. It is an indisputable fact that there are sources of Higher Power in the universe. A refusal to acknowledge or remain in touch with this Higher Power – the forces of Light that we call “God” – leaves a vacuum in the human heart that causes the forces of darkness to take its place. You are either from the Light, as I am, or from the Darkness, which is all that is negative. It is evil, which is the power of Darkness that never penetrates the Light unless it is allowed to, that is the motivator for America's gun violence problem.

But the evil I'm writing about isn't psychological, it's not mental illness, nor is it pathological at all. The source of this evil is spiritual. People who give in to evil and so carry out horrible evil such as this epidemic of mass shootings do so because they have made a conscious effort to put their Higher Power – just in case they profess disbelief in the existence of God – out of their lives. When you put the Light out of your life, the Darkness inevitably takes its place. Those who do not believe in Spiritual forces make themselves all the more vulnerable to it. “9) However, as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him' — 10) these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” The apostle Paul was quoting Isaiah 64: 4 as if to say, if only you will stick with God, his reward for you will be greater than anyone can imagine. Never give up on God, and He'll never give up on you. And even if you do give up, God sticks with us anyway because that's how much he loves each of us. Even if we're in sin, God will still stick with us – but only for so long, if you get my drift.

Paul clarified this still further further down in this same passage when he wrote: “13) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15) The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16) for, 'Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ.” (1st Corinthians 2: 13-16) Now I ask you, how can we continue to have the “mind of Christ” when we have our minds focused on who we can take vengeance upon and kill? Never mind whether we think they “deserve it” or not. I am simply trying to emulate Paul by “explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

America's mass shooting epidemic is a symptom of a country that is turning to the forces of Darkness. If America was still attuned to the forces of the Light like she used to be, there would have been no more than a handful of these mass shootings before they would have been brought to an abrupt halt. Granted, when it comes to all these shootings, America's gun laws clearly need to be strengthened, that is true. But the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual, as Paul wrote, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments....” OK, so if any given person systematically rejects the things of God, or of their Higher Power, and/or refuses to recognize the authority thereof, then is it any wonder that such people wind up doing such ungodly things as mass murder? It should come as no surprise at all.

All right, so we can safely conclude that those who act out on violent impulses, or who cannot or will not keep their angry feelings in check, to the point where they cannot help but hurt or even kill others – long term incarceration is the only thing that will stop such people. And that's assuming they survive being arrested, and many choose not to. Let's not forget there are some who, as the novelist John Milton put it, “....would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Actually for me, it's the other way around. Keeping in mind that I would rather serve forever in heaven than roast forever in hell is what keeps the forces of Darkness out of my heart, mind and soul. In effect, I and others like me “have the mind of Christ”. Not the person, you understand, but the mindset of the man, the Savior and Redeemer. Only Christ gave his life for you and for me – Jesus Christ the Son of God and no one else. Only the forces of the demonic take lives, they never give anything.

And so in closing, it is vitally important that we all take on “the mind of Christ”. No one can be just like our Lord and Savior because only Jesus lived a sinless life – none of us even comes close to that. But we can overcome our bad natures – especially the propensity to kill – by keeping the “mind of Christ” tucked inside our brains as we go about our daily routines, and as we meet and work with all kinds of people. Some of them are good, some are evil, and still more simply don't care. As long as they're getting their usual, that's all they worry about. They couldn't care less about anyone else but themselves. Although the killers are awful enough, and dangerous enough, it's the ones who don't care who do the most damage of all. That's because the only way evil can flourish is for cold and uncaring men and women to look the other way.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Study of the Counterintuitive: It's an Honor to be Poor

Those Who Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Are More Blessed Than They Realize
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)

I don't have to explain what's been happening to the US Middle Class over the last 35 years or so. Many people who used to be Middle Class in America are now poor. I should know, since I used to make a whole lot more money than I do now. But that was before the bottom fell out of everything. I've been there, done that and bought the T-shirt. Everyone is lamenting because they're living paycheck to paycheck and they don't know what to do about it. Going to the ballot box, so far, has produced an exacerbation of America's political problems – exactly the opposite of what is intended. Now we have people talking about civil war, and America's citizens are emigrating at record levels. The ones who are staying are buying guns and ammo at record levels. No wonder everyone is so tense and on edge!

That's why the purpose of this week's message is to console those who are angry and hurt, to counsel those who have been pushed aside or shown the door without just cause, and to reassure the frightened and confused. It's not hard to get pretty befuddled about current events. We live in a world of mass shootings in schools, work places, grocery stores and even churches – or synagogues, as was the case recently. Things have gotten so bad that we can't even attend church or go out for a movie without having to be alert for anyone carrying a weapon. There is a good side to being poor, and a positive thing about being oppressed, according to the Word of God (or the Bible, if you prefer). Allow me to cite a few examples from Scripture.

My first example is that of the apostle James, who was a very astute individual, and so his writings are something to take very seriously regardless of one's religious beliefs – or even a lack thereof. These words can still be beneficial regardless of faith. “5) Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6) But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7) Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of Him to whom you belong? 8) If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right.” (James 2, verses 5-8)

Take heart if you are poor or otherwise financially hard pressed! Contrary to what many think and say, there is no shame in being poor. I was pretty well off at one time myself, mainly back in the 1990's through most of that decade, wrapping around to the early 2000's. I know what it's like to earn a six figure income, and to have to meet a payroll every week. But those days are gone for good, and there's little I can do about it except to keep on writing. I live on my small pension check, plus a little extra each month when I sell a book or two, and I've come to terms with that. But, what James wrote is even more true today than back then: “Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” The student loan crisis is one modern example of this, foreclosures are another, and the so-called Drug War is yet another. Over half the people in state and federal prison are there for nonviolent drug offenses. America spends entirely too much money locking up all the wrong people.

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” If you're poor, mentally depressed and running low on hope, then heed these words of the apostle James, the half-brother of Christ. To say this another way, it's better to be rich in faith than rich with worldly goods, and it's better to be poor in worldly goods than it is to be poor in faith. “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.” The much-beloved phrase, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is found first in Leviticus 19: 18, and it was an admonishment from the Lord Almighty to us all, that there be no hate among us – none at all! Judging by the racial tensions that simmer all across America, I'd say we have our work cut out for us as far as loving our neighbors – regardless of color.

Jesus himself was more blunt and direct than James in Luke's gospel when he said: “20) Looking at his disciples, he said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21) Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22) Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23) Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24) But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25) Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26) Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'” (Luke 6, verses 20-26)

The world's poor, sick and disabled, Jesus was saying, will be the first through the gates of heaven. If you hunger, you will be filled by Christ, not by McDonald's – Jesus guarantees it. Weep all you want for now, Jesus was saying, because in the end He will give us life and laughter everlasting. The more people hate you because of me, Jesus was teaching them, the greater your reward will be. So, let others hate you just because you will not hesitate to make a stand for Christ. Never mind Republican or Democrat, conservative, liberal or progressive – they all pale in comparison to the Spirit of our Lord and Savior. But in verses 24 and 25, Jesus taught that anyone who enriches themselves in this life does so at the expense of another, and those wealthy individuals risk paying an eternal price for being selfish beyond reason while others went hungry. Verses 24 through 26 could also be interpreted as a prophecy against America, but that would be another message for another time.

So, I want everyone reading this who is going through a hard time financially – and that would be the majority of you – to take heart in their situation. Granted, you are suffering and miserable, I know how you feel. But take it from a guy who's been there, you can and will survive the ordeal you are currently undergoing. If you can't raise your income, then find ways to cut your expenses. The main thing is knowing that Jesus is walking beside you in every conceivable way, every step of the way.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Free book excerpt #32 from "The Middle and Working Class Manifesto" by Rev. Paul J. Bern

It's here! "The Middle and Working Class Manifesto Fourth Edition", by Rev. Paul J. Bern (c) 2011, 2018 all rights reserved

Written in a journalistic, expose' style, this nonfiction book chronicles the ongoing demise of the US middle class and what pastor Bern calls, "the ticking time bomb of inequality". This prophetic 2011 book, now in its 4th edition, predicted the American people's demand for free health care, free higher education for everyone without qualification, an end to the Drug War that includes prison reform, repealing the federal income tax, and the need for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage. This Christian-based book (yes, it has Bible quotes) is a must-read for everyone who thinks America is headed in the wrong direction.

It is now clear to see that voting various senators and congressional representatives into and out of office, depending on who the incumbent candidate is, stopped working a long time ago. The system is broken down from age and misuse. No matter who is elected to office, they are only puppets being manipulated and controlled by corporate America and all their armies of lobbyists, who work behind the scenes in conjunction with the US military-industrial complex, the federal and state prison systems, and the so-called “war on drugs”, which is really another form of class warfare against minorities and the poor. In point of fact, every economic problem present in the US today that I have already reported on in this book, plus the war on drugs, are actually civil rights issues disguised as social or economic problems. This has been done deliberately and with sinister intent by the same cancerous rogue elements of the US government and intelligence establishments that were behind the Kennedy and King assassinations of the 1960's.

So what can we do if our peaceful revolution somehow doesn't succeed? What will happen if things stay the same as they are into the foreseeable future regardless of our best intentions? A couple of things I can definitely tell you will happen is that prices for all the basics will continue to rise until the cost of rent or a mortgage payment, a tank of gas, a weeks worth of groceries and our utility bills get so expensive that US workers' and retirees' monthly incomes fall well short of their minimum monthly expenses. And that is not counting the skyrocketing cost of higher education, medical care and prescriptions. What will happen if people can't buy fuel to get to work?

The ugly truth is that there are a troubling number of people out there who are already at this tipping point. In a country like the USA, it is inexcusable for our senior citizens to have to choose between their medicine and their groceries to keep from running out of money before the end of the month. In a country like the USA, we have sunk to a new low when inner city school children look forward to their taxpayer-funded free school lunch because it is their only daily meal. In a country like the USA, we have sunk to a new low when one in five homeless Americans is a veteran. We need to elect people to public office whose only focus is to fix these problems and all the others like them that I have previously written about.

But if all that still doesn't work, and if our situation as a united people continues to gradually get worse as is now the case, what will we do? What if we run out of options? We will need to have a plan 'B' in place in case of a worst possible scenario, and armed revolt is out of the question for reasons which I have already stated earlier in this book (although it must not be ruled out in matters of self-defense). Is there a way to simply retreat, to walk away and refuse to be a part of this rigged political and economic system that has us all enslaved, and does this kind of action have a legal precedent? The encouraging answer to both these questions is an enthusiastic yes. The solution is something borrowed from the pages of history, and I am talking about secession.

Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute recently observed that there is presently ”more attention being paid to secession than any time since 1865″ and predicts that “one of the American states will vote for its independence in the next 10-15 years.” Neo-secessionist sentiments are frequently stereotyped as a characteristic exhibited primarily by “right-wing extremists.” Yet there are serious reasons why moderates and progressives should consider secession. Among the most compelling reasons why concerned Americans should consider dissolving the U.S. into multiple nations, regions, or city-states are:
  • Break-up of the U.S.A. means an end to the American empire that has killed millions of people throughout the world over the last sixty-five years, including perhaps two million Iraqis, three million Southeast Asians, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, half a million Timorese, hundreds of thousands of Afghanis, and many, many more.
  • Without the support of the U.S., international capitalist organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. would be much less powerful and influential.
  • The collapse of the U.S. Federal Reserve system would mean an end to federal corporate-welfare, bank-welfare, and, above all, the death of the military-industrial complex.
  • No more federal regime means no more DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal drug war, federal mandatory minimums, or the national police state built up around the war on terrorism. What could be more successful at overturning the “terror war” legislation of the 2001-2017 years than complete disintegration of the federal government itself? Or maybe its economic system?
  • An end to federal corporate welfare means a severe weakening of Big Pharma, agribusiness, or local developers utilizing federal money in efforts at gentrification.
  • The disintegration of the U.S. means not only the end of federal drug prohibition but an end to U.S. support for the international drug war and the America-centric structure of international drug prohibition, thereby allowing other nations to develop more progressive policies on this matter.

The majority of the U.S. population resides in the 75 to 100 largest urban, metropolitan areas. If these areas – New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Miami - were all independent city-states or micro-nations along the lines of Monaco, Luxembourg, or Singapore, genuine progressives would be in a much superior political position than at present. The major U.S. urban areas tend to be the most diverse culturally, racially, ethnically, and religiously. It is also in these areas where the majority of racial minorities, LGBTQ people, persons with counter-cultural values, and those with left-leaning political views tend to be concentrated. The majority of the unfortunate persons fed into the prison-industrial complex also originate from the large cities.

It would be immensely easier for independent city-states of this kind to enact, for instance, single-payer health care, legal same-sex marriage, stem cell research or a genuine living wage. Likewise, it would be much more possible to decriminalize, regulate and tax drugs, prostitution, gambling and other “consensual crimes” along the lines of New Zealand, Portugal, or the Netherlands at present. Such changes would severely weaken and undermine the police state and prison-industrial complex. The likely weakening of corporate power following the demise of federal and state corporate welfare would also provide a more level playing field for activists to take on landlords, developers, bankers, and other plutocratic interests on a municipal and regional level, and perhaps initiate economic alternatives like cooperatives, collectives, communes, land trusts, and so forth.

OK, so we know there is legal precedent for secession, except that if this is accomplished in the early 21st century we must do so peacefully instead of shelling Fort Sumter like they did back in 1861. But can the act of secession be maintained once it has been initiated? Once the seceded territory has been set up, organized, and its boundaries set, is there legal precedent to set up its own Constitutional legal system, to print its own money or introduce some other medium of exchange, and so to be free and independent from the rest of the US? Once again the encouraging answer is that there is legal precedent for this very thing that dates back to the early years of our country, and this legal precedent is called nullification. An example of this was introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly back in 2010 was House Bill 4509 (H4509), which would make law that “no public official of any jurisdiction may require registration of purchasers of firearms or ammunition within the boundaries of this State.” No caveat for regulations under the commerce clause. No caveat for types of firearms either. This bill says NO to all gun registrations – period. The principle behind such legislation was nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition.

In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote in response to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts: “The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government”, and, “where powers are assumed [by the federal government] which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them”. 

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