Tag Archives: morals

America’s Midwest cursed with drought; B.C. overly blessed with water

I recently returned from a visit to my dad who lives in the irrigated farming area of southern Idaho’s Snake River Valley.  After leaving a very green and lush British Columbia, once I drove south into Washington State and then over the pass through the coastal Cascade mountain range immediately east of Seattle, the dominant impression is one of a heat-blasted, parched-brown countryside. As we drove through northeastern Oregon the temperatures soared to 43 degrees Celsius, which translates into 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot! I got a good tan without even trying due to the blazing sun.

My son, Jeremiah, who accompanied me to Idaho, then caught a flight to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was volunteering as a youth camp counselor and photographer. While visiting  America’s Midwestern heartland of grain production (more than 75 per cent of the corn and soybeans grow there), my son experienced more roasting temperatures along with high humidity—up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit! Only a snake could like such hellish weather. It was so hot that the teenage campers participating in my son’s “adventure” races were only allowed to walk from hydration station to hydration station lest they suffer heatstroke.

Much of the American heartland is literally baking. The implications of devastating drought in the world’s breadbasket are serious.

“We’re moving from a crisis to a horror story,” said Purdue University agronomist Tony Vyn. “I see an increasing number of fields that will produce zero grain.”

The drought scorching the U.S. Midwest is the worst since 1956, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report posted on its website on Monday. Drought is affecting 55% of the land mass in the lower 48 states (http://business.financialpost.com/2012/07/17/americas-worst-drought-since-56-threatens-world-food-supply/)

Already, prices for corn and soybeans are up more than 50 percent over the last four weeks. The coming food price sticker shock is going to affect all of us. For nations that import large amounts of grain to feed their populations, these higher prices is going to mean a good deal of personal hardship and national political instability.

Is all this heat and blasting mere coincidence? Just part of the normal weather cycle?

Meanwhile, here in British Columbia, our water reservoirs are critically full due to big melting snowpacks in the mountains and torrential rains in June and July. For the first time in 50 years, all of B.C.’s major dams are having to spill water in increasing amounts just to keep the dams from breaking. Dam managers have never seen anything like what’s happening this year at B.C.’s water reservoirs.

How strange. Here in B.C. we have a super-abundance of water, while just south of us the American heartland is bone dry. It sounds like some sort of ironic biblical curse. We have way too much but the Yanks have way too little. All the water that should have gone to America’s grain-growing Midwest has been dumped on us Pacific Canadians. What gives?

Actually, the Bible’s God, whom the Old Covenant scriptures referred to as YHVH (see Exodus 3:14-15, that is to say I am the One who was, is, and will be) and the New Covenant scriptures identified as Jesus Christ (see John 8:58), did promise to mess up the normal weather if those who claim to be His people fail to live according to His revealed way of life and belief. Americans, after all, make their boast even on their money “In God We Trust.” But do they really? Is the Bible’s God sufficiently fed up with North American hypocrisy to take action to punish us? Consider this prophecy:

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.

 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:15-20, 23-24).

Americans have long proudly exclaimed, “God bless America.” And for the longest time it seemed so. But what happens when a nation’s leaders and its people no longer believe in living so as to receive a blessing but rather stubbornly and rebelliously live in such a way that earns a curse instead? If God can bless can’t He also curse? Is a drought and soaring food prices a blessing or a curse? What do you think?

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).

What to Watch for in 2012!

If the single word that typified the zeitgeist of 2011 was uncertainty, then the spirit of 2012 will probably be just more of the same piled higher and deeper. Are we at a turning point, a crossroads in our present social/political order that has prevailed since the end of the Second World War?

There is so much that is at play in the world today. For the last few weeks there have been many commentators who have written predictions about what will actually happen during the next 12 months. Predicting the future, even by the world’s most outstanding analysts, remains a remarkably complex, error-prone task—perhaps akin to trying to solve a “triazzle.”

In a triazzle each piece of the puzzle has three sides that all can be mixed and matched with the other pieces of the game in a number of seemingly logical ways. After being induced by visual clues to pursue one particular hunch, a gamer may initially find that the pieces do seem to easily fit the desired pattern until—while holding the very last piece of the puzzle —the gamer discovers that it’s all wrong! And the seemingly sound, logical assumptions based on what seemed like solid evidentiary clues turned out to be in reality a misleading tease that kept the triazzle gamer from seeing how the pieces to the puzzle really fit together.

What we do know will happen in 2012 is that four of the five most powerful nations of the world—four of the five permanent U.N. Security Council member—will see some type of leadership changes. America and France have elections this year that may not return the incumbants to office. Russia also is holding presidential elections although they are mostly for show. Vladamir Putin will continue to run the nation and is just changing offices after playing a little game of musical chairs, moving back to the Kremlin offices of the presidency from the prime minister’s more humble offices. In China, Xi Jinping is considered the most likely person to take over the presidency from Hu Jintao. And, it is estimated that around 70% of the rest of China’s leadership will also change during the upcoming Chinese Communist Party’s congress this fall.

As for the “Arab Spring,” look for the steady rise to political power of Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt and in other newly “un-dictatored” countries of that region. Watch as the values held dear by the secular Western liberal democracies fail to thrive in the lands where the majority hold that Mohammed is the only sort of prophet that counts.

Regarding the European Union, look for more financial bad news that will put the euro and consequently the various euro-zone governments under increasing pressure. Look for the weakest of the weak European nations to seriously consider jumping the EU ship, or perhaps be pushed over the railing by Germany and the European Central Bank. The stronger euro-zone nations, however, will probably feel more heat to circle the wagons and cede additional financial/political sovereignty to a central E.U. authority, as that will be touted again, by Germany and the ECB, as being the only way to defend themselves from an increasingly bleak financial situation.

Yes, we all know that the developed world’s public and private finances will continue to wallow in a morass of public and private debt. Presently, the value of the U.S. Treasury Bonds and the U.S. dollar have strengthened remarkably in recent months due to massive influxes of global capital seeking a safe haven from the uncertainties posed by the European Union’s tottering euro. The U.S. dollar is still seen for the most part by financiers as the world’s reserve currency.

But the question is for how long? The U.S. dollar at present is only the best of the worst in comparison to the Japanese yen or the E.U.’s euro. There is an on-going move by global central bankers to diversify away from holding too many U.S. dollars in their reserves. They are making major purchases of gold bullion. And the Chinese have been striking deals with their south-east Asian trading partners so that they will no longer use the U.S. dollar as their mutual medium of exchange for business. Instead these Asian tigers are agreeing to facilitate their mutual importing/exporting by directly exchanging their own national currencies, cutting out the previously essential middleman role formerly held by the U.S. dollar.

The United States government has an extremely serious problem of annual budget deficits now running in the trillions of dollars. Watch as this annual operating deficit inexorably adds to an already obscene mountain of American federal government debt that will soon be more than 80% of the entire nation’s annual gross domestic product.

The only possible solutions to this coming U.S. budgetary Armageddon are to heavily depreciate the value of the dollar in order to allow exports to surge and/or to severely cut a wide variety of expenditures, including medicare and social security. But watch in 2012 as America fails to find a charismatic leader with a sound, convincing vision for the nation that can muster enough political will to do what needs to be done before it is too late.

Consequently, you should look for American public opinion to remain about evenly divided. And, thus, the financial and political reforms needed to effectively, and calmly turn around this looming national catastrophe in a timely rational manner, will be stymied.

Look for inflation to increase significantly as the stresses caused by too much debt, too much money printing, and not enough real economic growth continue. The savings and standard of living of millions of Americans will erode dramatically as a vampire inflation sucks the life out of the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar.

Did your grandpa or grandma ever pass on to you any of the old worthless Confederate paper dollars or Confederate bonds that the family got stuck with during the Civil War? Did any of your old folks pass on the stories of what it was like when the money was no good and what the family did to survive when hungry and desperate? Metaphorically speaking, the value of the U.S. dollar is presently propped up more by the Fed’s push up bra, rather than by naturally abundant sound financial fundamentals.

So, watch for the continuing, slow decline of the American Empire in 2012. Unless, of course, an unexpected black swan event occurs. War with Iran and a subsequent oil shock? A horrendous natural disaster that destroys a major American city or a critical agricultural crop or energy production and distribution? If something really bad happens to the U.S.A. then all bets are off about the decline being slow!

But most of all, you should watch out for your own spiritual state in 2012. Most of us have very little influence over what does go on in this world. In geo-politics and macro-economics we are merely spectators. We watch and make our plans accordingly. But in our own personal life we do have a great influence on what we think about, and the type of character, morals, and ethics we choose to live by. Over such things we have power and are accountable for how we exercise it. I’m not responsible for the government’s finances, but I had better take care of my own state of affairs. In 2012, I repeat, we should be very watchful of our own spiritual state. As the Apostle Paul advises us:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 13-15 (NKJV)

Jesus of Nazareth himself advised us to be spiritually alert and ready to serve him in sincerity and truth at such a time when he decides to once again intervene in world affairs to save humanity from the consequences of our own collective stupidity:

Be dressed, ready for service, and have your lamps shining. Be like servants who are waiting for their master to come home from a wedding party. When he comes and knocks, the servants immediately open the door for him. They will be blessed when their master comes home, because he sees that they were watching for him. I tell you the truth, the master will dress himself to serve and tell the servants to sit at the table, and he will serve them. Those servants will be blessed when he comes in and finds them still waiting, even if it is midnight or later.
“Remember this: If the owner of the house knew what time a thief was coming, he would not allow the thief to enter his house. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at a time when you don’t expect him!” Luke 12:35-40 New Century Version


So don’t forget to watch your own spiritual state while keeping an eye on 2012’s many uncertainties.

Suffering coming to millions—soon! Don’t you be one!


The “clap” is now resistant to all of this world’s most powerful antibiotics. Anyone who knows something about the microbial world knew it would happen someday. It was just a matter of time. Yesterday, Dr. Magnus Unemo announced at a Quebec City conference for specialists in sexually transmitted disease research that he had discovered a new strain of gonorrhea called H041 that has proven to be resistant to all types of antibiotics (cf. http://home.mytelus.com/telusen/portal/NewsChannel.aspx?CatID=National&ArticleID=news/capfeed/national/TG1110.xml).

This means that what was once an easily treatable sexually transmitted disease will become within a few years a global public health scourge not seen since the Middle Ages. For untold millions, rampaging incurable gonorrhea microbes will cause infertility, an increase of HIV transmission rates and, even fatalities. In a word: suffering. Suffering on a massive scale.

Gonorrhea is one of the world’s most common sexually transmitted diseases. This highly infectious bacterium can cause incredible personal “dis-ease” both emotional and physical. It is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease after chlamydia. Annually, at least 700,000 Americans become infected according to the U.S.’s Center for Disease Control (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonorrhea).

However, as bad as the above statistic may be, once the antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea strain becomes widespread in North America, the number of those infected will skyrocket!

The consequence of gonorrhea for women is disastrous. It causes pelvic inflammatory disease, PID. We’re talking infertility and ectopic pregnancy, which is the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in women among other nasty symptoms. Mothers can pass the disease to their babies at birth resulting in serious health complications and even blindness for the rest of that baby’s life.

For men, gonorrhea can result in inflammation of the epididymis, which is “a curved structure at the back of the testicle in which sperm matures and is stored. This condition comprises gradual onset of testicular pain that can vary from mild to severe, and the scrotum (sac containing the testicles) may become red, warm and swollen…, Epididymitis is the most frequent cause of acute onset scrotal pain in adults” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epididymitis). As if this weren’t enough, incurable gonorrhea may easily result in permanent male infertility.

All this misery will come on us because gonorrhea bacteria know how to adapt and overcome whatever medical counters human scientists throw at them. Human hubris thought we could have our cake and eat it, too. In our post-modern scientific age we thought we no longer needed to live by the sexual morals taught by the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

Since the end of World War II, our liberal, governing elite thought that the idea of sexual abstinence before marriage and faithfulness to one’s spouse during marriage—both biblical principles of long standing—were seen as terribly old-fashioned, unhip, un-cool, un-liberated, and not necessary according to most lefty journalists, entertainment media hipsters, as well as the teachers/professors in our schools and universities who all bear some responsibility for the current amoral behaviour practiced by our people. These “progessives” thought magic bullet antibiotics would cure all STDs like gonorrhea and so free us up “do your own thing.”

Wrong! I wonder how many millions will experience despair and heartbreak because of the liberal governing elite’s lies?

The bottom-line is that promiscuous sexual behaviour is still sin. And those who commit sin reap unpleasant consequences both in terms of physical well-being and spiritual things. Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote:

5 But you have a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are making your own punishment even greater on the Day when God’s anger and righteous judgments will be revealed.
6 For God will reward each of us according to what we have done.
7 Some people keep on doing good, and seek glory, honor, and immortal life; to them God will give eternal life.
8 Other people are selfish and reject what is right, in order to follow what is wrong; on them God will pour out his anger and fury.
9 There will be suffering and pain for all those who do what is evil, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles.
10 But God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles.
11 For God judges everyone by the same standard (Romans 2:5-11 Good News Translation).

When compromise becomes the language of the Devil

When my youngest son wants to do something I’m not too excited about, we’ll talk together and come up with a compromise solution in which each of us gives a little so that the household can continue on in harmony.

Compromise is a normal part of the give and take of any family or human relationship. We adapt our personal preferences and opinions for the greater good of getting along with another. That’s normal.

But when it comes to the moral logic of the Universe and the demonstrable truth of the Judeo-Christian scriptures about what is right and what is wrong, it has always been required of Christians in every epoch of history to draw a line in the sand over something with which they cannot compromise.  To accept the sinful cultural practices of their time or civilization would have been anathema.

For first century A.D. Christians it was not offering a pinch of incense on the Roman altar of state in order to acknowledge that Caesar was supreme: a small act of Roman paganism that clearly violated the Bible’s first commandment:

Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:1-3 NLT).

Many thousands of Christians were hideously murdered by the barbaric Roman state for refusing to compromise with the “most noble Caesar, the civilized world’s benefactor” and just offer that little act of worship.

For post-modern Christians living in the 21st Century, there is now a tremendous pressure to conform to what may be labelled “politically correct paganism,” which like all the pagan ideologies of the past, essentially worships and exalts human ideas of right and wrong above the divine ones taught by the Hebrew and Greek scriptures.

In the latest edition of a sorry series of similar events, a biblical-values sensitive, conservative Anglican congregation was forced out of its long-held church property—St. Albans Anglican Church on King George Street—at which they had been meeting since before Canadian Confederation in 1867 by the “politically correct” Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. The issue was same sex marriage.

The pastor of this forced-to-leave congregation, George Sinclair, said:

The move was “an issue of conscience, and for us, conscience trumps building …
A church that just has the building, but does not have the dreams and visions that come from God, is on its way to dying … If you end up thinking you’re smarter and nicer and wiser than the master [Jesus Christ], in what way are you still his disciple? … The Bible is very clear on certain things, as to what is right or wrong.”
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Anglican+Church+followers+find+home/5008958/story.html#ixzz1QcGf00LT

These conservative Anglicans came to understand that when it comes to sin—compromise is indeed the language of the devil.

Sin? What is sin? Why can’t one compromise with sin?

The Apostle John gave a succinct defintion of just what sin is:

“Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4 NRSV).

The law that the apostle was referring to is God’s law as contained in the Hebrew and Greek bibles—not Canada’s federal and provincial law, not even the rules and policies of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

God’s law divides behaviour and thought patterns into those that are permitted, generally called “righteousness” and those that are forbidden, which is “sin.”

Spiritually speaking, there are serious consequences for those who deliberately chose to live sin-full lifestyles. As the Apostle Paul wrote:


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 NLT).

The reason no one can compromise with sin and get away with it in the long run is because…well, without God we’re just dead meat. The Bible does NOT say you have an immortal soul! The scriptures clearly teach that eternal life is only for those who belong to Christ and who are resurrected from among the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23).

The whole purpose of Jesus first coming and His sacrifice was to rescue His people from the consequences of sin. We cannot cuddle up to or give ourselves permission to do what the Scriptures say is wrong and not pay the price! Again, listen to this warning from the Apostle John:

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:7-8 NLT).

Cheators only cheat themselves


Cheating made the news this week. The fact that it still shocks us (at least somewhat) is an encouraging sign for our society because it indicates that we, the people, still understand that there is something called “right” and “wrong.”

Here in British Columbia two young men recently made the top of the news with a complex, high-tech scheme to cheat a MCAT medical school entrance exam held at the University of Victoria. The cheators used a pinhole camera and a miniaturized radio transmitter/receiver to send the test questions to a remote location at which a couple of unsuspecting University of British Columbia med school students, who thought they were being recruited for a job as a med school tutor, would give the answers. The correct answers were then relayed back to the cheating MCAT test-taker.

Of course, the fact that many students cheat in university or high school is not news. These days most English instructors, habitually, conduct Google key word searches on student-submitted essays to weed out the laziest cheats.

While a cheat who is discovered in high school usually earns only a lecture and a zero grade on the cheated assignment, a university-level cheat can actually have his or her academic career terminated. However, cheating in an educational setting almost never results in criminal charges leading to jail time and/or a fine.

So it made the news when the Province of British Columbia filed criminal charges for committing a fraud over $5,000 against MCAT cheats Housman Rezazadeh-Azarfor and J. Miguel Ruben. After all, a compromised MCAT med school entrance exam can no longer be used. Creating a replacement test costs about $200,000 to $400,000. Obviously cheating is not a crime without a cost. Besides, the very idea of allowing unqualified MCAT cheats to eventually become licensed medical doctors to whom we might in the future turn to for help with some sort of disease or medical emergency still gives most of us the willies, including our police and crown prosecutors.

Yes, the fact that incidents of cheating still have the capacity to arouse public indignation means that there’s still hope for us. And that’s why I continue to write!

At the WorldTomorrow.Ca we seek to shine the light of bibilically-based ethics and morality on what goes on in our society. We seek to persuade or to reaffirm to our readers that in the long run, a happy, productive, and successful life can only be found by actively pursuing and living the truth with integrity.

So, just what is the truth? And what role should the truth play in our lives? Jesus of Nazareth said:

17Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours (John 17:17 Contemporary English Version).

Older Bible translations say that this truth “sanctifies” us or makes us “holy.” These are words most 21st Century people don’t understand. A person who is sanctified or made holy to God is one who is set apart or devoted to God’s service. Believing and living God’s truth are the essential requirements for anyone who desires a never-ending life that will be overflowing with happiness, joy, and peace of mind.

Isn’t this what true success in life is all about? Stuff and status in the present world are meaningless in the big picture of the universe’s reality. There is a great deal of irony in the fact that cheators think cheating and fraudulent behaviour will open to them the doors to life’s real success. Consider this story told by Jesus about a cheat:

1-2Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a powerful CEO who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’
3-4″The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’
5″Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his CEO’s agricultural commodities company. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my boss?’
6″He replied, ‘A hundred truckloads of olive oil.’
“The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now— write fifty.’
7″To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’
“He answered, ‘A hundred train cars of wheat.’
“He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
8-9″Now here’s a surprise: The CEO praised the cheat! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials [on God’s priorities], so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on clever cheats.”

10-13Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you’re honest in small things,
you’ll be honest in big things;
If you cheat in small things,
you’ll be a cheat in big things.
If you’re not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He’ll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can’t serve both God and Selfish Materialism (Luke 16:1-13, mostly The Message translation, italicized portions by me).

Cheating, fraud, deception—sad to say—have become all too commonplace in our “progressive” society of the 21st Century. While our standards of ethical behaviour are truly and progressively degenerating, don’t you get caught up in this slide to self-destruction. Remember, cheats only cheat themselves out of what is the enduring best in life.

What happened to Jared Lee Loughner?

There’s a great deal of news commentary discussing in what way America’s overheated political rhetoric between the Right and the Left fostered Jared Lee Loughner’s recent murderous rampage and attempted assassination of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.

Undoubtedly, the present highly partisan, toxic political atmosphere that has infected much of the United States’ political discourse is not helpful when it comes to creating a harmonious society and solving that nation’s enormous economic problems. People think and then say things they shouldn’t. In families this can lead to divorce.  While on a national scale bitter acrimony can lead to fratricidal conflict. All Americans during the 150th anniversary year of the beginning of  the Civil War would do well to reflect on the cost in terms of human suffering and heartache that crushed the lives of millions during the 1861-65 political conflict between the Northern Union and the Southern Confederacy.

Of course, I don’t mean to look down on the Americans. We, Canadians, also have our own dirty laundry to wash.  We share with our American neighbours the shame of toxic political discourse. Here in British Columbia for the last year and a half there has been a very heated political controversy concerning the implementation of the new Harmonized Sales Tax, HST—unpopularly known as the Hated Sales Tax.  The enactment of the HST spawned a popular resistance movement called Fight HST.  While seeking to press the chief electoral officer of British Columbia, Craig James, to approve a recall election for one of the governing Liberal party’s legislators, some 392 people sent “vile,” threatening email to James for turning down Fight HST’s first application for a recall election. Civility in politics seems out of vogue (cf. Times Colonist, “Elections boss gets flood of ‘vile’ email,” Jan. 12, 2011).

But somehow I don’t think Jared Lee Loughner was ready to pull the trigger on Gabrielle Giffords, and 19 others at that political event in Tucson solely because some talk radio host or some other partisan political figure made some over the line comments about Giffords or Democrats as a whole. I mean, 22-year-old Loughner murdered a 9-year-old child who would have been far more interested in the pop and cookies table than listening to Gabrielle Giffords’ political speech-making. Something was and is clearly lacking in Jared Lee Loughner’s moral thinking.

What happened to make Jared Lee Loughner do what he did?

In an attempt to consider this question, The National Post ran a story entitled Arizona shooting suspect became an ‘outcast’ in high school http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/Arizona+shooting+suspect+became+outcast+high+school/4088147/story.html#ixzz1ArRI2CxT

One person who had known Jared Loughner since elementary school remarked:

“It just seems so out of character for the Jared I grew up with.”

High school friends characterized Loughner “as odd but generally amiable.” He had musical talent and played the saxophone in his high school’s jazz band. But then this average teenage boy with the curly hair lost his path. According to the story:

“In tenth grade everything started to fall apart. High school friend Alex Montanaro told the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Loughner took a turn after a break-up with a girlfriend. He started hanging out with drug users, grew distant from his friends and “really became an outcast,” said Mr. Montanaro. Classmate Catie Parker described him as a “pot head” and by grade eleven his marks had dropped. He didn’t bother returning for grade twelve.”

There was nothing in the news account about Jared Loughner’s family, community or church background. Had anyone cared enough to give him a firm foundation, a solid touchstone of ethics or vision of morality to guide his life?

“In several videos on the Internet site YouTube, a person with the name Jared Lee Loughner criticizes the government and religion. It was not known whether he was the same person as the suspect.”

“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” the man says. “No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!” http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/Murder+attempted+assassination+charges+laid+Arizona+shooting/4082529/story.html#ixzz1AsCReT7G

The fact of the matter is that far too many young and not so young people are lost in a maze of crooked paths and self-destructive behaviours in the United States and Canada. The addictions, the violence, the selfish lack of concern for others, the shallow material secularism, the hateful, disrespectful words filling our public discourse are all symptomatic of our communal inability to find a straight path through our ethically challenged, morally relativistic popular culture. Why such confusion? How can we come to know the right thing to think and do? In my book, Walk a Straight Path in Crooked World, Alan Bloom, one of the greats of academic thinking, addressed this dilemma:

I do not believe that my generation, my cousins…all of whom are M.D.s or PhD’s have any comparable learning [to that of his grandparents’ spiritually rich understanding of the Bible]. When they [Alan Bloom’s generation] talk about heaven and earth, the relations between men and women, parents and children, the human condition, I hear nothing but clichés, superficialities, the material of satire. I am not saying anything so trite as that life is fuller when people have myths to live by. I mean rather that a life based on the Book [the Bible] is closer to the truth, that it provides the material for deeper research in and access to the real nature of things. Without the great revelations, epics, and philosophies as part of our natural vision, there is nothing to see out there, and eventually little left inside. The Bible is not the only means to furnish a mind, but without a book of similar gravity, read with the gravity of the potential believer, it will remain unfurnished.”

As the source of an unseen enduring reality, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures claim to be the Truth. I call them the moral logic of the universe. The Creator established this legacy as the house rules for all humanity. And one of the foundational teachings of the Bible is as follows:

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18 NKJV; also Matthew 22:39).

Too bad Jared Lee Loughner and so many others taking part in our toxic political discourse don’t believe and practice the moral logic of the universe. Things will only get worse for us until we rediscover the straight path to harmonious living found in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures – the house rules for humanity.

How our B.C. government and others profit from B.C. Bud

Greed is such a simple motive. It’s been said for some time now that B.C. Bud, the illegal pot-growing industry of British Columbia, produces more economic activity than either of our major traditional but declining natural resource industries,  forestry and fishing.

While our provincial government has been ostensibly waging an official “War on Drugs” to suppress the seemingly irrepressible marijuana grow-ops, on the other hand, our elected politicians and crown corporations have been–in an ad hoc fashion–quietly supporting and handsomely profiting from the illegal drug trade.

Shocked? You should be! But let me clarify. I’m not really talking about envelopes stuffed with cash slipped from hand to hand under the table. Direct bribery is, after all, so socially distasteful. Though certainly, it does happen probably more often than comes to light because since ancient times…

The wicked take secret bribes to pervert the course of justice (Proverbs 17:23 New Living Translation).

But the taking of such straight-forward bribes isn’t the point of this commentary.  Then again, maybe it is? What I’m writing about is how our B.C. government subtly assists the B.C. Bud growers and other criminals with their money laundering needs–for a healthy cut off the top, of course.

Our government-run gambling rackets and government-regulated private casinos in this province allow organized as well as disorganized criminals to launder incredible amounts of illegally generated profits through these officially blessed gambling entities in order to get out on the other side “clean” money. For example, buy $9,999 or more of casino chips with cash from the latest drug deal. Play some Black Jack, make a few safe bets, and then cash out with a casino cheque. Voilà, money laundering 101! The now “clean” money can be legitimately deposited into the criminal’s bank accounts. Then those living from the proceeds of crime can shop till they drop and, hopefully, pay lots of HST sales tax for another cut to the government from their ill-gotten gains. There’s real financial logic to this moral turpitude.

For years B.C. gambling was a neat, profitable, and quiet arrangement benefiting government, criminals—and even many NGOs! The B.C. government in a cunning sleight of hand bought off criticism for years with generous grants to charities and non-profits that were derived directly from B.C. gambling revenues. By throwing around a portion of their take they were able to effect a P.R. miracle transforming parasitical gambling exactions worthy of the Sheriff of Nottingham into socially acceptable “gaming” that partially benefits the community. The only losers were those victimized and exploited by B.C.’s criminals as well as the collateral community damage inflicted on the gambling-addicted who can’t stop themselves from betting their family’s rent and grocery money.

But this week, however, brought a bit of trouble to this profitable quiet conspiracy of the ethically challenged. The Canadian Fed’s Finanacial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), which requires casinos and financial institutions to report cash transactions over $10,000, fined the B.C. Lottery corporation (a provincially owned crown corporation) $670,000 for failing to comply with federal laws aimed at stopping criminal and terrorism-related money laundering. FINTRAC found that the B.C. gambling racket had made 1,020 infractions of the law, and repeatedly failed to introduce a program to reduce the risk of money laundering.

To minimize the fallout from such negative publicity, the affected B.C. gambling entity’s talking head claimed it was just an “administrative fine” due to computer errors that caused late filing, etc.  However, FINTRAC said the fines were levied for a “persistent, chronic failure to comply with the law.” This failure to follow the law has lasted for years according to FINTRAC.

The Prophet Jeremiah looking forward to our days and the low spiritual state of our time described the lack of morals and honesty at all levels of our society. Jeremiah also predicted the outcome of such a corrupt society. Consider the prophet’s words. Do they describe us?

13-15″Everyone’s after the dishonest dollar, little people and big people alike. Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist words and doctor truth.
 My people are broken—shattered!—and they put on Band-Aids,
saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine’! Do you suppose they are embarrassed over this outrage?
No, they have no shame. They don’t even know how to blush. There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom and there’s no getting up.
 As far as I’m concerned, they’re finished.” God has spoken (Jeremiah 6:13-15, The Message translation).