Tag Archives: materialism

Economic Inequality: Putting Off the Day of Reckoning

Right before our eyes the common person’s hope for the “good life” is unraveling, like a loosely woven tapestry being steadily picked apart thread by tread. Life, as we know it, is getting progressively more difficult and more insecure for billions of people in this world due the dramatic rise of economic inequality.income_inequality teeter

In its just released annual report, the United Nation’s Development Program warned that much of the 20th Century’s “improvements in longevity, education and income—the three main components of what is called the index of human development—are slowing due to worsening inequality and economic disruptions, to droughts and other natural disasters and to poor government policies.” (The Associated Press, “Improvements in people’s lives being put at risk, UN says,” Times-Colonist, July 25, 2014)

This UN report noted that the 85 richest people in the world now have as much accumulated wealth as about half of all humanity–some 3.5 billion people or 48 percent of the world’s population. Think about it! Eighty-five individuals have as much as roughly half the world’s population! Something is seriously out of balance and systemically broken or, if you prefer, distorted and corrupted.

wealth-pyramidThe financial writer Paul Rosenberg asserts that this chasm of disparity wouldn’t have been possible without the rise of the modern nation-state and what we call democracy. Before the rise of the “modern” state, the debts of the chief rulers of a country were his personal responsibility alone. However, such men surely made their problems the people’s problems, too! Obviously such wealthy, ruling elites of old would shake down the populations under their control to raise funds to pay THEIR debts–just like old King John of England and his nobles, who were made famous for such a tale of avarice through the Robin Hood legends.

But now loans are not taken out in the personal name of a “King John,” but in the name of an entire nation’s population. As Paul Rosenberg writes:

From the institution of democracy onward, loaning money to a government gave the banker [the central bank, international banks, etc.] a claim against the taxes of the people… a claim that never expires. All the citizens, and their children [and all the succeeding generations], become responsible for repaying the loan.

This was a clever trick: The person who signs for the loan ends up bearing almost no responsibility, and gets to spend all the money. At the same time, millions of people who greednever approved the debt—who probably had no way of even knowing about it—are left holding the bag… and passing on the obligation to their children. (Casey Research newsletter, The Room with Dan Steinhart, July 25, 2014)

Ballooning indebtedness is happening not only to the West, but throughout the entire world. According to Switzerland’s Bank of International Settlements [the B.I.S. is the central banker to the world’s central bankers like the U.S. Federal Reserve], since the financial crisis of 2007, the worldwide debt load has soared more than 40 percent to the current 100 trillion dollars! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-09/global-debt-exceeds-100-trillion-as-governments-binge-bis-says.html

sminequality_scanlon_r2U.S. Federal debt alone is more than US$56,000 per American. Total European Union public debt averages about 23,000 Euros or about US$ 31,000 per person. http://www.eudebtclock.org/

But, of course, skyrocketing debt isn’t the only factor fostering the growing inequality. Consider what Rex Van Schalkwyk, a financial writer for the Casey Report newsletter says:

The real cause of the inequality that so troubles politicians [are they really bothered?] is the systematic destruction of the free markets over the last century. The essential wealth-building effects of those markets became, at first, more elusive and finally, altogether inaccessible to all but the privileged elite: those who have systematically benefited from an exclusive arrangement. This includes the unlawful front-running of equities and other financial markets through the mechanism of high-frequency trading, a device of the exclusive economy.

Because there is today no free market in the cost of money (interest rates), there cannot be a free market in anything that is counted in money. Low interest rates—systematically depressed by the Federal Reserve over the past two decades—have enriched the bankers, the borrowers, the financial institutions, and the speculators at the expense of the frugal, the pensioners, and the teachers.

Financial asset and property prices have exploded, making them accessible only to those richest getting richerwho already have them. The result is that 90% of the wealth has gone to the 5%, while 10% has gone to the 95%. The predictable outcome is that the 95% have experienced no real income growth in the past 30 years. The middle class has been eviscerated. (Casey Research newsletter, The Room with Dan Steinhart, July 25, 2014)

Actually the real cause for the growing erosion of the world’s hope for a better material future is more profound, and more foundational than even the UN’s Development Program, the Bank for International Settlements, or the writers of Casey Research might suggest. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but that what they point out are just symptoms or consequences of something more foundation to this issue of our obscene inequality.

The actual roots of the inequality problem can be found in the fact that humanity, generally, and certainly this world’s governing financial and political elite, specifically, have turned their backs on and completely rejected the revelation on the financial and economic fairness principles that were presented to us all for all time by our Creator.

From our Creator’s perspective, human society by its very nature needed a financial system that would systematically, and regularly purge accumulated debt from both individuals and society as a whole. It also needed an episodical re-distribution of what constitutes the foundation of wealth accumulation in this world –  land. Specifically, land that is or can be economically productive. By periodically re-distributing a nation’s economically productive real estate, a society can avoid concentrating wealth in the hands of the few and the disenfranchising the majority from owning the foundational source of economic wealth – land. The Creator of humanity instituted two main features in His program to maintain social equality, economic balance and fairness – the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee.

“At the end of every seven years [the Sabbatical year] you shall grant a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed.” Deuteronomy 15:1-9 (ESV)

“You shall count seven weeks of years [seven Sabbatical years], seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month On the Day of Atonement [an annual event designed to restore spiritual harmony between God and man, as well as that of everyman with his neighbour] you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants [The inscription of this verse is found on the American Liberty Bell in Philadelphia]. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. Leviticus 25:8-10 (ESV) 

politics how worksOf course the bankers, multi-nation corporations, and wealthy elite would hate the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee for obvious reasons. But what they don’t understand, is that such a godly system would provide them with security and peace instead of a day reckoning, a time of financial disaster and social turmoil, that is coming.

Are prayers for personal help still answered in the 21st Century?

Does God still answer prayers in the 21st Century? Well, there’s one family in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada that thinks so. But obviously, a lot of people these days don’t think so.

In fact the majority of people in the Western world these days suspect that if God isn’t dead like so many lefty intellectuals stridently proclaim, then He must not be too interested in the average person’s day-to-day problems. We know that most of our human leaders don’t really care to listen to us or to help us out in our problems. But is it right to impugn God with having the same crappy, disinterested attitude of the human “gods” who run our nations?

Anywise, consider some quotes from this front page news story that was run in the April 18, 2014 Times-Colonist:

“After a Victoria mother’s wedding ring was stolen from her home Sunday night as she, her husband and two young children slept, she prayed for the hopeless soul responsible—and that police would find the ring.”

“I’m a Christian,” said Sarah Primus, 29. “We have prayed from the beginning for the man—he’s obviously in a very desperate state—and for [Jesus] to lead police to where my ring was.”

“Primus said her joy comes from within—and not from material things—so when she discovered that her house had been robbed she never got angry but instead prayed.”

In a few days police informed Primus of the good news that her wedding band had been sold at a pawn shop but that they had recovered it. She was elated. But then the police gave her the bad news that the ring’s diamond had been removed. Sarah Primus admitted that she was momentarily discouraged and sad.

“Then I said, ‘Jesus, you helped them find my ring and you can help them find my diamond diamondtoo,’” Primus later recounted laughing. “That’s [the potential reality of] divine intervention.”

Well, it turned out that a little bit of good, old-fashioned police work turned up a prime suspect who just happened to be living across the street. After obtaining a search warrant, the police visited the suspect, Peter McKay, and discovered the missing diamond on his person.

McKay was placed in custody and charged with breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, and possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. As it turned out for the drug dealer stealing a neighbour’s ring was a bad, bad mistake.

Does an omnipotent, eternal God, the Creator of the Universe, still make house calls on planet Earth to those who have faith? And will He help them with even small requests that seem insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things? The oligarchic, liberal elites who run the United States and much of the Western world would laugh at such an “old-fashioned, simplistic” idea.

But, it’s obvious Sarah Primus and her husband had their their faith reconfirmed in Jesus—the Bible’s God who plays a key role in serving humanity’s best interests in both New and Old Covenants. How about you? Do you believe that the Bible’s God would hear your prayers?

John 9:31 (ESV) We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

Psalm 145:19 (ESV) The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

Will the “right” man be elected as the new Pope?

So Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, is resigning at the end of this month due to old age. Papal spokesmen assure us, repeatedly, that the still living and kicking but soon-to-be former Pope will not participate in the cardinals conclave in March to select his successor at this second-oldest, on-going “Christian franchise,” the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Ah yes, we hear from the authorized sources the strict observance of the explicit “letter of the law”—the RCC’s canon law—in public.

But how should we weigh the “spirit of the law” aspects of such a statement? After all, such pre-emptive assurance of Pope Benedict’s non-interest in handpicking his successor is being conveniently offered to us by the employees of the same man who long-ran that secretive multi-national church corporation’s Holy Office of the Inquisition (better known more recently as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) before becoming Pope!

Should we trust a church hierarchy that still officially denies that it systemically covered up and “managed” for hundreds and hundreds of years the fall-out arising from its numerous priestly pedophiles? Granted, however, that we must acknowledge that the RCC will now apologize publicly for their priests’ licentious behaviour and pay compensation to victims. But still, should we trust them?

Actually, I admire Pope Benedict for this pro-active initiative to assure an orderly succession to the top job at the RCC. By resigning now while his mind is still sharp he can make a strong effort to influence the outcome of the cardinals’ vote.  And it goes almost without saying that the “right” man to become the new Pope will be the one who will continue Pope Benedict’s conservative policies. Actually those policies are really just a continuation of those of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Conservative Catholics are probably relieved by Pope Benedict’s succession gambit. They, like their last two popes, are wary of the moral relativism that is dominating the Western world at this point in time. They don’t believe that all is just a matter of personal preference and opinion. They believe that Truth with a capital “T” really does exist.

Since they also believe that the Pope has the authority to define doctrine in their church, and to make definitive statements concerning truth and falsehood; it is essential, from their point of view, that the “right” man be elected as the next Pope.

I don’t fault them for their logic. After all, if a new Pope was elected who had a secret agenda to institute “reforms” allowing gay marriage, ordination of women, abortion, euthanasia, and easy divorce—well, all would be lost for those supporting conservative values in the RCC. And that’s the flaw in the Catholic tradition of Christianity.

Catholics believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ—that he rules as a substitute for Christ and has final authority. In essence, the RCC makes a man and that man’s opinions the arbiter of what is Truth or falsehood.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, however, teaches something else:

Sanctify them [that is to say: purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. John 17:17 Amplified Bible

When Satan tried to tempt Jesus Christ to enact something, to follow a policy that would, in essence, make an accommodation to a personal preference or desire, Jesus rebutted the Adversary, making this statement on the real source of authority:

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone [by any material or human means alone], but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 New Living Translation

The part of the Judeo-Christian scriptures that Jesus was quoting to Satan on this issue of the real authority to decide questions of Truth or falsehood is found in Deuteronomy 8:3. Godly authority to decide questions of church policy and all other questions of what is right or wrong is by Sola Scripture, which in Latin means by Scripture Alone. It is the Judeo-Christian Scriptures alone that reveal the Truth. It is never a question of merely any man’s or woman’s personal opinion or preference, whether that person is elected a Pope or not!

All Catholics, all Protestants all secular people, and all believers in other religions are eventually going to learn the answer to this question about where ultimate, legitimate authority rests. Most will learn the hard way at some time in the future. You can learn this right now and act on it to become consecrated to God as His own son or daughter—a higher spiritual office than any earthly Pope— if you will allow the Word of God to direct you into living in and by His Truth.

In defense of our most ancient values & ideals

Towards the end of President Barak Obama’s second inaugural address he argued:

“You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.”

I wholly agree with this inspiring proposition by the President. Barak Obama is indeed one of the most accomplished speakers of our time. Yet, I discovered as perhaps you did also that not all of Obama’s inaugural speech was equally inspiring.  Nevertheless, believing the President to be a fair and open-minded man, I lift up my voice in defense of my brethren’s most ancient values and enduring ideals and call upon the President to re-consider the logic and the spirit of some of the positions he has taken.

The United States of America is at a crossroads. Time is quickly running out for the world’s dominant superpower and number one economy to set its house in order. There are several startling trends afoot in the nation that will humble it, if not bring it down completely, if not effectively resolved.

But as you begin your second term in office, Mr. President, you seem to give every indication that you misunderstand just how gravely wounded the nation is financially and politically, certainly— but especially, morally. The secular press tends to overlook the fact that it will be of the Spirit if the Flesh [the nation’s material well-being & future] is to be saved from the gathering crisis. After all, what was it that sustained Abraham Lincoln and the Union in their time of trial?  Was it just their rifles and canons? Was it not the righteousness of their cause?

David Brooks, a conservative journalist working for the liberal New York Times, made this comment about your second inauguration speech:

I also think Obama misunderstands this moment. The Progressive Era, New Deal and Great Society laws were enacted when America was still a young and growing nation. They were enacted in a nation that was vibrant, raw, under-institutionalized and needed taming.

We are no longer that nation. We are now a mature nation with an aging population [Why we might ask? Is it because the vibrant potential of so many millions of our white, black, and Latino youth and their potential children have been sacrificed on abortion’s pagan altar of selfish convenience?].

Far from being under-institutionalized, we are bogged down with a bloated political system, a tangled tax code, a byzantine legal code, and a crushing debt [not to mention an appalling amount of fiscal corruption at the highest levels of American society]. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/opinion/brooks-the-collective-turn.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1358883569-pQYbbD/j2/ypooIiqVZgIg

Mr. President, what are you going to do to address this harsh, on-going, destructive reality sapping America’s strength?

Next is the urgently needed healing of the nation’s bitter political divide. Do you remember what Abraham Lincoln said: a House divided will fall? [Actually, Lincoln was just quoting Jesus Christ from Matthew 12:25]. Good will and a spirit of collaboration with a generous sprinkling of patriotism are absolutely necessary to enact desperately needed reforms. I sense that your speech fell short in this regard. It seems to me that it failed to reach across the blue vs. red divide. It did, however, stoke up the partisan spirit of your so-called “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party.  Maybe that’s all your speech was intended to do.

Still, I consider it a failure to rekindle the spirit of collaboration desperately needed throughout America. This failure was symbolically evident by who was NEITHER present NOR accounted for at your swearing in.  Where were former President George W. Bush, and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney? Why weren’t they seated on the speaker’s platform beside you for the whole nation to see even a semblance of unity or brotherhood among the nation’s leaders? Couldn’t you find a few gracious words to speak in order to persuade them to come? Was extending the olive branch just too hard? Must it always be a zero-sum game? Is pride getting in the way of taking care of the nation’s urgent business? You know what they say about pride going before a….

The bad blood is obviously such that, ominously, most of the Republican delegation from the House of Representatives wouldn’t come to your big bash—even have a few free drinks!  Such political bitterness in Washington, D.C. is systemically weakening America’s ability to meet the long-term challenge posed by a rising geo-political competitor like China.

As for addressing the nation’s moral problems, The Washington Times newspaper noted in its January 22, 2013 editorial:

Though the theme of Inauguration Day 2013 was “faith in America’s future,” the United States has seldom chosen a president more determined to separate the nation from its traditional reverence for faith, family and freedom. The proposition that individuals “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, is harder to see in the vision of Mr. Obama’s America where administrative agencies make choices for individuals, even down to the details of dictating the design of everyday household appliances….

The signature achievement of his first term, Obamacare, established the precedent whereby the White House can force citizens to purchase a service that had previously been a matter of personal choice. The health care mandate goes so far as to override the distinct choices of religious organizations, forcing them to provide contraception and abortion coverage against their will. This is a clear attempt to undermine the previously sacrosanct respect for religious freedom in American political culture.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/22/inaugurating-leviathan/#ixzz2IjlLTXSy

Now please, carefully consider this final point Mr. President.  When you swore your oath of office with your left hand placed on the Bibles once used by Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, you said:

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.

You pointed out in your inaugural speech following this oath that the nation’s “freedom was a gift from God” though it “must be secured by His people here on Earth.”

And like previous American presidents, at the close of his inaugural address you invoked a blessing from America’s historic God, upon both people and nation, saying: “God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.”

I don’t think it would be too controversial to assert that the God you officially referred to was in fact the God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. Not Allah. Not Buddha. Not one of the millions of the Hindu gods. Not John Lennon of the Beatles who once boasted that he was more popular than Jesus Christ, nor even the latest re-incarnation of some Marilyn Monroe Hollywood sex idol. America’s Founding Fathers and patriots overwhelmingly claimed the Bible’s God as America’s God. I’m sure you must know that.

But did you realize, Mr. President, that when you took this oath of office calling publicly upon the Bible’s God to be a witness and to hold you accountable, and  claimed in your inaugural speech to want to govern our people by “our most ancient values and enduring ideals,” that there would be negative consequences if you did all this just for show—hypocritically.

And make no mistake about it, the Bible’s ancient values and ideals are indeed enduring because they are the Truth and are essential reading for anyone who wants the Bible’s God to give him or her a blessing of hope and peace in this life and, eventually, the fullness of eternal life—rather than a cursing, heart-ache, and futility in this life and then the emptiness of eternal death. As Jesus of Nazareth said:

Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth (John 17:17 Amplified Bible)

And…

“Man shall not live by bread [materialistic means] alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God [spiritual means]” (Matthew 4:4 English Standard Version). 

In the Judeo-Christian Scriptures we see that there is a clear and repeated historic pattern of bad consequences that come when either leaders or  people hypocritically claim God as their God, take oaths and invoke blessings using His name, but do not do what He commands. God does not consider such people to be guiltless even though they just say what they say because of tradition and the fact that they want to look good in public (Exodus 20:7). There are unpleasant consequences for such hypocrisy.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, freedom—we’re talking political, economic, and religious freedom—is always presented as being conditional upon obedience by the nation or leader who calls upon the Bible’s God. In other words, a leader or a nation that calls upon the Bible’s God as their God must be found living within the ancient values and ideals expounded in His law or face the consequences.

Consider, Mr. President Obama, this statement that you made in your second inaugural speech:

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Is the physical expression of homosexual love in a marriage allowed by man’s law truly equal to that of a heterosexual one, which is sanctioned by the Scriptures, in the eyes of the Bible’s God? Does the Bible’s God have a preference, or none at all?

The New Covenant Scriptures tell us this: “For the whole law [God’s law] is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:14 English Standard Version

Well, someone might argue, surely this Scripture justifies your proposition, Mr. President, because of what that person may subjectively feel about someone else. But does it? Is God’s standard of Truth based on subjective human feeling? Is it correct to say that as long as I just feel “love” for my neighbour then surely I’m okay in God’s sight whatever I do homosexually or heterosexually—that it’s all equal?

To answer this question one needs to know just how the word “love” is defined by the Bible’s God in the original languages in which the Scriptures were written and in its actual usage. To answer this question, if you really want to know, check out my online, streaming archived sermon series on love at:

http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/finding-true-love-love-your-neighbour/

and

http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/finding-true-love-self-love-or-selfishness/

and

http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/finding-true-love-our-love-for-god/

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Are you missing the lessons taught by the Sandy Hook massacre?

“When there are no words in any dictionary to describe what happened in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut Friday, when things happen that surely not even the cruelest imagination could comprehend [oh yeah?], it is certainly time to go back to some kind of cultural Square One and reconsider everything to which we have somehow become inured.”

Those are the words of a regular columnist who writes for our local newspaper.  He’s right! But that certainly isn’t going to be what happens, obviously.  Rather it seems American society is going to have another round in the culture wars between Democrats and Republicans over gun control. It is only politically correct to focus on the tools used in the Sandy Hook slaughter and other massacres rather than looking more deeply into why North American society is spawning these young mass murderers. The guns are not creating the mentality and willingness to do such evil. They are just the means.

If the politicians really wanted to help our society become more peaceful they might instead peel off a few layers from our dysfunctional post-modern society in order to get a little closer to our cultural Square One—to discover the truth about why things are going wrong.

For instance why not consider the omnipresent use of violence in its many forms as our “entertainment.” Media producers are practically addicted to featuring conflict and fighting, blood and gore in our movies, TV, video games and in what passes as “sports.”

Or then again, maybe our public guardian angels might find the courage to turn over a few rocks to investigate the scurrying prescription drug bugs who are pushing their wares onto truly astounding numbers of youth and adults in order to “cure” them of mental disorders like depression, hyper-activity, schizophrenia, anxiety, and much more.

These days if our witch doctors can conjure up some term to describe an undesirable mental state, then some big pharma firm will soon have a potent psycho-active drug to sell to cheaply dope up the person with the new label. This makes private and public health care providers happy because it keeps their costs down. But have you ever read the extensive list of nasty, dangerous side-effects of these drugs?  The economic-political commentator Doug Casey makes this observation about the use of these psycho-active drugs among those who have committed mass murder:

I predict that they’ll find that the 20-year-old killer, Lanza, was on Ritalin, Zoloft, Prozac, or some similar psychiatric drug. Most mass murders are proven to have been on these drugs, and the medical records are sealed for many other killers, so we can’t find out (Casey Daily Dispatch, “Doug Casey on the Fiscal Cliff,” Dec. 19, 2012, http://www.caseyresearch.com/cdd/doug-casey-fiscal-cliff).

But whether we’re talking about the pervasive presence of violence in entertainment, Prozac nation, or the American fetish for guns galore—these are just the outer layers of the onion. They are merely consequences. Side shows. Perhaps contributing causes, but not the deep down rotten root that led to the massacre at Sandy Hook.

But really, for the Western world, where do we find our cultural Square One? The real cause for what’s going wrong in our society? To find out we need to go back to the Bible. In the past a preacher might have said, “Blow off the dust on your Bible.” But, I dare say, that now many people no longer even have a copy of the Bible in their homes and even if they do, they don’t know—or care—what it says.

The Bible is a revelation. Which is to say, it contains divinely revealed knowledge that would otherwise be impossible for us to discover on our own. And this Bible begins with a book of beginnings called Genesis. This is our cultural Square One:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man [and eventually, his wife, too] whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life [symbolizing spiritually discerned revelation] was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil [symbolizing materially discerned understanding]. The Lord God took the man [Adam, that is to say Mr. Dust who was Adam Lanza’s namesake] and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die….” Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 English Standard Version

The serpent [the Devil] was the shrewdest of all the wild animals [an insult] the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” [Here the Devil uses a classic red herring ploy to deceive.]

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” [This tree meant humanity was taking to itself the prerogative to determine what was “right” and what was “wrong” in their own eyes apart from God and His revelation that was then directly given to them, but which is now preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures.]

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman [Big lies are the easiest ones to swallow. A snake first covers its victim with saliva before swallowing it whole. Neither our bodies nor our souls are immortal. See Ezekiel 18 verses 4, 20, and 27. We are merely physical beings subject to eventual death, cessation of all life unless God should intervene]. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 New Living Translation

Humanity as whole ever since has built societies based on their own material understanding, determining for themselves what is right or wrong apart from God’s revelation. The only exception being that of a man called Abraham and those relatively few of Abraham’s descendants who were illuminated by the divine revelation given to them. These individuals would become known as the “children of God” who took their inspiration from their Heavenly Father to, firstly, love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds, and, secondarily, to love their fellow human being, their “neighbours,” as themselves.

A society that forgets to put a love for the God of the Bible in first place among all their priorities will most certainly soon forget to prioritize a genuine love for their human neighbours as well.

Those who take to themselves the right to determine right from wrong in opposition to the revelation of God—they have as their “father” the Devil—the being that first tricked their ancestors into eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good but also of Evil. The result is our present society, which is an inseparable, delusion having aspects that are both evil and good. The Sandy Hook massacre is a prime evil result that comes from one who rejects the divine revelation about loving with all his heart the God who created him. Adam Lanza also forgot if he ever knew that he was made in the Creator’s own image and likeness with a job here on Earth: to love his little and big neighbours as himself.

Those who have eaten the wrong “fruit” just don’t and won’t get it.  They can’t get at the root of what caused the massacre at Sandy Hook and all the other mass murders going on. Jesus of Nazareth put it this way when arguing with those who insisted on rejecting divine revelation:

Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! John 8:43-45 New Living Translation

God gives us all free moral agency. From which Tree in the garden will you eat?

The State now coerces Religion in America: the Culture War intensifies

Since the very beginning of the American republic the founders of the United States insisted on a short series of amendments to that nation’s constitution in order to protect critical areas of personal liberty and freedom from being infringed or stepped on by the power of their newly created federal state.

In particular, the First Amendment to the Constitution forbids the U.S. Congress to prohibit the free exercise of religion. The Constitution also forbids the establishment of an official State church, as was and continues to be the case in many European nations.

The reasons for the enactment of the First Amendment had a lot to do with the historical reasons many people hazarded their lives in the struggle to create new homes and communities in the original 13 colonies of British North America in the first place. People wanted to escape State coercion in all matters of the conscience and its peaceful expression in religious matters. They wanted to be able to live their lives without Big Brother, the State, telling them what they had to do religiously.

There was a certain tension at that stage of development in the history of Western Civilization as the Founders of the United States  tried to balance what Conrad Black called “Faith” and “Reason” in his recent excellent National Post column on this subject:

The central struggle, in France [during its Revolution] and in most of the West, was over the role of the state, and more generally, over the cohabitation in Western civilization of the forces of Faith and the forces of, broadly speaking, Reason (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/08/03/conrad-black-church-state-and-barack-obama/ accessed Aug. 3, 2012).

This balanced point of view was, for the most part, embraced by Americans and other modern democracies until the Rise of the Faith of Militant Secularism, beginning in the 1960s. Now, many zealous secularists not only want any reference to the Bible’s God removed from public sphere, including state and community institutions like schools, but they also want to coerce private businesses and religious institutions who still have a worldview informed by the Divine Narrative rather than by the new Secular Narrative of political correctness.

It is not enough now to just “live and let live” or “you do your thing while I do my thing.” Now the secularist zealots want to force the religiously minded to knuckle under, accept, and conform to their flavour-of-the-day, politically correct dogmas—especially on anything touching sex and the family.

The militant secularists are, in essence, seeking to establish a new coercive State Church of Materialism that will require everyone to bow down before their idolatrous altar of Political Correctness while they teach humanity to worship themselves as the only true gods who can decide what is good and evil.

As Conrad Black put it in his column “Church, State, and Barak Obama,”

The Enlightenment, the coruscation of the Age of Reason, implied that the whole concepts of divinity and of spirituality were, to say the least, questionable, and that each day, as the march of empirical knowledge progressed, the plenitude of knowledge was being approached. While God was a dodgy concept, man might be perfectible (man as God), and, though a heavenly paradise was a superstitious or wishful confection, an earthly paradise might be attainable by the implementation of a political program.

The religiously minded, of course, are resisting this political program in usually peaceful ways at present. This conflict is sometimes labeled, the “Culture Wars.”

Evidence to back up this assertion? In the United States consider the struggle by the U.S. Catholic church and other churches to resist the Obama administration’s mandatory health insurance policies that demand religious institutions—not withstanding their long-standing moral opposition to these types of  birth control procedures and abortion-inducing drugs— to offer and pay for such “benefits” for their employees.

Or consider the secularists outrage when Chick-fil-A restaurant chain president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press in July that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Secular rights activists and others called for a boycott and put pressure on some municipal politicians to not approve new Chick-fil-A outlets in their cities.

What started as a strident demand by the militant secularist for “their rights” has now shifted to an unrelenting demand by them that the religiously minded submit and conform to their idolatrous assertion that they have the right to determine both good and evil and that we must all think, speak, and behave as they dictate. It is reminiscent of the old line that an erudite and cagey adversary of the God of Creation spoke to our first ancestors.

Now the snake was more able to fool others than any animal of the field, which the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden?” 2 Then the woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden. 3 But from the tree which is in the center of the garden, God has said, ‘Do not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die. 5 For God knows that on the day you both eat from it, then your eyes will be opened and you both shall be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5; vv. 1-3 New Life Version, vv. 4-5 Lexham English Bible).

The freedom of conscience to live according to the Divine Narrative in America and the rest of the Western democracies is under attack by those who would fool us into believing that they are our gods who have the right to tell us what is right or wrong. Don’t fall for it.

Punishing the message and the messenger

The news media in Canada over the last few days has been covering the story of the five-day suspension from a Nova Scotia high school of a 19-year-old senior, William Swinimer. His offense was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Life is wasted without Jesus.”

According to the superintendent of the South Shore Regional School Board, Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, Swinimer was kicked out of school because the message on his T-shirt offended the beliefs and/or feelings of some other students. The superintendent, however, refused to give any specifics about the complaints that the school authorities had received.

So what was so offensive about William Swinimer’s mild, profanity-free positive affirmation of the Christian faith?

What has happened to our Canadian right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Well, this effort by the school authorities to deprive William Swinimer of his freedom to quietly express his faith in a public arena is just one more indication that Canada is well on the way to transforming itself into an aggressive, secular state that insists on uniform compliance with political correctness. Militant secularists progressively attempt to sideline, minimize, label, ridicule, and then suppress the expression of Christian ideas, morality, and ethics in the media and all other arenas of public life.

Why do the secularists do this? Well, it’s obvious. The spiritual worldview taught by the Bible and faith and the secular worldview of materialism and unbelief are diametrically opposed to each other.

When Tory MP Stephen Woodworth introduced his Motion 312 in Ottawa—asking for a parliamentary committee to be formed to review scientific evidence about when human life actually begins so that our 400-year-old definition in the criminal code might be updated—all hell broke loose. The secularists called Woodworth’s motion “an insulting and offensive attack on women’s rights.” They’ve labeled him a “misogynist” and an “ultra-conservative.”

The secularists and pro-abortion people, of course, don’t want a public investigation, or—horrors—a debate on what the scientific evidence on the subject might reveal about when a human being actually becomes a human being. They want to suppress any such parliamentary investigation at all costs. They shudder at the idea that a review of the evidence and a discussion about the morals and ethics of when it’s okay to kill a human fetus might make them look hard-hearted and selfish. Of course, Christianity’s long-held position is that a “good” society promotes loving one’s neighbour—even the most powerless, weak, and vulnerable neighbour of them all.

So, when an audacious teen-ager wears to public school a T-shirt saying, “Life is wasted without Jesus,” uneasy consciences convict the secularists who are indeed upset at the profound implications of that slogan. So, they must suppress the message and punish the one standing in for the Messenger.

The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 The Message paraphrase).

When stepping on someone’s toes results in murder

On a pleasant late July evening in Victoria, B.C. two years ago, 16-year-old Mark Arrieta pulled out a handgun at the strident urging of his 22-year-old “friend,” Somphanvanh Chanthabouala, and shot at point-blank range three other young people, seriously injuring two while killing 20-year-old University of Victoria student Philbert Truong.  The shooting was the result of Chanthabouala feeling “disrespected” earlier in the evening at the Red Jacket nightclub by one of Philbert Truong’s friends, Thuan Le. A witness later said that Le’s disrespect was inadvertent, but literal. He stepped on Chanthabouala’s toes that evening at the crowded nightclub.

Quickly arrested after the shootings, Arrieta and Chanthabouala passed their time in the police station’s interrogation room by composing, singing, and dancing (in handcuffs?) a rap song that glorified another recent shooting in the news—that of a Victoria policeman.   Later, the judge presiding at the trials of Arrieta and Chanthabouala watched the CCTV footage of the accused performing their rap song that night and was struck by Arrieta’s and Chanthabouala’s nonchalant attitude towards violence that exhibited a “disturbing callousness.”

Most criminals hide their inner thoughts and feelings from the authorities. But Arrieta exposed his inner state by writing a bit of doggerel that was discovered during a routine search of his cell. He composed it while awaiting trial:

I ain’t got a heart bitch, I got an ice box…Packing for that action bitch u better know I got mine, Any type of situation, I ain’t got no hesitation, Imma real g [I’m a real gangsta] don’t compare me to an imitation.

A callous disregard for another human being’s life doesn’t happen all at once. After all, we aren’t born with a full slate of anger and hate. It takes time to build up a nonchalant attitude towards violence. In grade 4 Mark Arrieta was suspended for starting a small fire. The grade 5 teacher described in her reports that the 10-year-old version of Mark Arrieta whom she taught was disruptive, angry, and disrespectful. Before moving to Victoria from Toronto the troubled youth was involved in an estimated 20 to 30 fights. In grade 8 Arrieta was suspended for hitting a teacher and for bringing a knife to school.

Going from bad to worse in grade 9, Mark Arrieta rarely came to school and reportedly smoked pot every day. Arrieta’s last suspension from school in April 2008 was due to the now well-established pattern of fighting with other students and threatening a teacher. This last suspension from school came only five months before Mark Arrieta murdered Philbert Truong.

Like a missile veering off course, destruction was the inevitable outcome of this angry trajectory. Sadly, both Arrieta’s parents and the school system proved unable to effect a course change.

While awaiting trial, Mark Arrieta told the detention centre’s chaplain that his principle motivation in life had been to escape what he described as the “poverty” of his youth. He resented the fact that his hardworking immigrant parents couldn’t afford to buy him the luxuries he wanted. When other elementary students had something he wanted he became jealous of the material possessions belonging to others. He wanted money to buy the objects he desired.  After his last suspension, Arrieta moved out of his parents’ home, and into the alluring embrace of a “dial-a-dope” drug ring led by Chanthabouala.  Dealing drugs provide Mark Arrieta with lots of money and a like-minded social circle that shared his twisted materialistic values and his nonchalant attitude toward violence.

A long time ago the Apostle Paul warned future readers about what happens when a society turns it’s back on the God of the Bible and His teachings.

For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.

[They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good (2 Timothy 3:2-4 Amplified Bible).

Even on a purely materialistic level of understanding we know that you are, indeed, what you eat. A nation that readily promotes and eats fast-food becomes swollen, fat, obese—in a word, physically unhealthy. This is simple, observable, provable cause and effect. So, why is it that we can’t see that when it comes to feeding the mind “garbage in does indeed equal garbage out”?

Our society overflows with images promoting endless mountains of “stuff” to sell us. It “entertains” us with images of every sort of violent act on our illuminated screens. Why our society even entices us to waste countless hours of our very short lives in this violence-rich entertainment milieux via interactive computer/virtual reality games. Billions and billions of dollars are being made in this greedy exploitation of the gospel of selfishness, materialism, and violence.  The whole world (mostly) has embraced these destructive values. Why should we be surprised when a young convert to selfishness, materialism, and violence goes overboard in youthful exuberance and acts out the images in his head?

Chapter 23 of the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the case of Mark Arrieta. If the people and institutions that had influence on this young man’s life had considered and acted to furnish this young man’s mind with the wisdom presented there, then Mark Arrieta’s life would have turned out differently. For, paraphrasing Proverbs 23:7, as a young man thinks in his heart so he will be.

What we think about and celebrate is of critical importance in determining who we are and what will be our future. Simply put, a good future will come to those who think about good things. But a bad future will come to those who think about bad things. The moral logic of the universe is clear. As the Apostle Paul concluded:

8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies (Philippians 4:8-9, Message translation).