2014-04-03_13-58-04Here’s one person’s attempt to summarize the Gospel in a single sentence. It’s by Bruxy Cavey, the teaching pastor at The Meeting House. He says “The Gospel is the good news that God comes to us through Jesus to show us his love, save us from sin, set up his kingdom and shut down religion.” Just thirty words, but I think he does a great job of getting to the heart of what Jesus’ message is all about.

SOURCE:  The Gospel According To Who? | Stephen Jarnick | Red Letter Christians.

If you are interesting the the things behind these words check out his book entitled: The End of Religion

Getting Into Things….

April 5, 2014

2014-02-25_09-41-58“Plans get you into things but you got to work your way out.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1931

For me “getting into things” is the most difficult part of a new project. Writing a post for this blog starts out with an idea or quote and then progresses from there. So I don’t take Will’s quote here as getting into trouble as many probably do but instead just getting started. But I do agree with him that working your way out is well, work.

About Our Heroes…

April 4, 2014

2014-04-03_13-47-55Early biographers, informed by Lincoln’s former Springfield law partner William Herndon, wrote first takes of the president that would be unrecognizable to the heroic image that Americans know today from books like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance.

And the public made Josiah Holland’s Life of Lincoln, which erroneously portrayed the president who was gunned down on Good Friday as “an eminently Christian president,” an instant best seller. Other early depictions portray Lincoln as bumbling and deeply flawed.

With his new dual biography, Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image, Joshua Zeitz explains how the two men who served as Lincoln’s secretaries shaped the perception Americans have of the 16th president.

SOURCE: Men behind Lincoln made the legend we know today.

Being a lifelong U.S. History reader I am very aware of how our heroes are portrayed.

I have read William Herndon’s Lincoln and it is indeed very different from many that came after. It painted Lincoln as a somewhat ordinary man with his own likes and jealousies. I look forward to reading this latest account in Lincoln’s Boys.

I can see similarities between this constant revision of our heroes even in our bibles. It is kind of like the Gospel accounts of Jesus. The first account was Mark and he didn’t mention much about Jesus’ miracles or had any insight into his early life. He just stayed on what he knew or was told to him (whoever Mark was). When the other gospels came out years later they were flooded with miracles and such. The authors seemed to want to make sure that everyone would know that Jesus was the Messiah so they added, factually or not, a myriad of miracles and new quotes.

People tend to remake their idols into what they want to believe about them. I greatly admired the person of George Washington. He was exactly what was needed as our first president. We all know of the story of chopping down the cherry tree which is now widely acknowledged at a total myth. We do this sort of thing to all our heroes. We invent things to highlight their best sides and tend to bury as deeply as possible their darker sides.

Of course we all now know that most if not all our heroes have a darker side, but don’t we all?

Henry Ford, who basically created the middle class in the U.S. was one of the most important men of the 20th century. He was also an avowed anti-Semite and to some degree a racist.

Thomas Jefferson created our most valuable national document. He was a slave owner and frequently bedded his  slaves while at the same time declared all men equal.

Mark Twain was considered America’s first great author and humorist. He also became an extreme pessimist in his later years. He could see not good or humor in life. Many of his words from that period were very spiteful, depressing and uncivil.

Everyone has skeletons in their closets, even our heroes. As long as we recognize that fact there is nothing wrong with looking up to and even trying to emulate some of the qualities our personal heroes. But, don’t be totally disappointed with you find a skeleton along the way.

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The Pity Party…

April 3, 2014

GloomAll of us have all been through some traumatic times in our lives. Some of us much more than others. It could be a health event, maybe a divorce, or a death of a friend or family member. One outcome that is almost assured from these events is a pity party. That is we question “why us?” or maybe “why did God do this to me?” I think having pity, even on ourselves, is just human nature. It is the extent of the pity that separates us. Do we get over it and face our new life challenges or do we wallow in it for weeks, months, or even a lifetime?

Everyone is different. We react to trauma in different ways.

When you have a pity party it is almost always means you are stuck in one place. You are fixated on that traumatic event. You can’t let go of it. It consumes your thinking and often your very being.

In order to break the pity party you got to get out there. You got to do something instead of wallowing in your pity. As shown in abbreviated version from Wikipedia there is a well know pattern to our grief/pity called the The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief

1.  Denial — As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation, and begin to develop a false, preferable reality.

2.  Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. .

3.  Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

4.  Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen.

5.  Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.

Don’t get stuck at level 4. It makes for a very miserable life if you do…..

A Peaceful People….

April 2, 2014

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From my Facebook Link….

2014-03-15_13-35-52I can still vividly recall when President Bush rode over the Hurricane Katrina devastation in a helicopter. From a thousand feet above he would shake his head and make a comment of two. From many of his actions, including this one, he just seemed to not really care or want to be personally involved. He was very much different from his predecessor in that regard.  Looking at the tragedy from far above make the people’s suffering seem very remote. I think that is the way he wanted it to be. Yes he was very forceful after 9/11 where he had an enemy that he could attack, real or otherwise, but since Katrina was “an act of God” who would he to take his wrath out on for this one? You simply don’t “shock and awe” God do you?

Actually it was probably a good thing that he did not get down on the ground much as that would have been more of a disruption than anything it would have accomplished. But getting to the point of this post is that some of us currently have only a helicopter view of what it is like to be poor.  To many of us, our only interaction with the poor is that we have to step over some of them on our way to work. The Republican money guy Paul Ryan is very much the same in that regard, He just came out with a proposed budget that drastically cuts food stamps and Medicaid again while not cutting our outrageous military budgets one iota. If that is not a helicopter view of the poor I don’t know what is.  The sad thing about that is that there are so many in his party who are  congratulating him for his “forward thinking”. They seem to say that if we can just forget about the poor then our budget problems would be solved!

Being poor is something many of us just want a helicopter view of. Hopefully it will never happen to us. The statistics say that more than half of us are about three paychecks away from being homeless.  With our helicopter view we occasionally send off a check or two for a few bucks to an organization that has a ground level view. We deem that as enough to fulfill our responsibilities in this area. That is good enough for us at least until we become one of “them”.

This being April Fool’s Day I thought I would talk a little about politicians….

JesterThis is sort of political but not really. It is more in the line with personality types than about politics itself. Again, remember not to take life or this post too serious. I am mainly just poking fun of those who think they are different from us.

I have been thinking lately about the different types of politicians that I have seen in my lifetime and there is one particular type that caught my attention. No I am not talking about Republicans vs. Democrats or Conservatives vs. Liberals.  I call the group that is the topic of today’s post the Baby Bush Politicians. No they aren’t all Republicans or even actually even Americans. They are the type of politicians who have certain distinct set of personality characteristics. Here is my list:

1. Smirking — This is the ability of telling someone they are a bastard without actually saying the words.

2. Back slapping — You might call this the “good-old-boy” or maybe the “clubhouse” syndrome. This is where you give people the impression that you are one of them without really considering them to be so.

3. Strutting — This is a manner of presenting yourself as somehow superior to those around you. Of course John Wayne was the essence of this characteristic but all of the selected politicians in my group have a healthy doses of this walk.

4. Bravado — The dictionary calls this a pretentious, swaggering display of courage. Pretentious is the key word for these purposes. That is the feeling of being important.

5. Superiority — These guys just exude superiority. They think they have all life’s answers and the rest of us are just idiots compared to them.

There are a number of politicians that exhibit all of these characteristics but the epitome of them all, at least in my lifetime, seems to be our previous president George W. Bush. That is why his name graces the list. One characteristic I didn’t add is egotist. But of course that describes almost every politician who ever lived so it would not be of any value here.

Here is my list of members with their ratings (1 – 5 stars) in the order of their appearance.

Barack Obama  ***  Started out as a pretty naive president but has picked up several of these characteristics since then.

George W. Bush *****  Being that the group is named after him it is only appropriate that he get five stars.

Dick Cheney ****  The man behind the puppet

Vladimir Putin **** I had to include Mr Putin in this list. I don’t know about the swagger but he has all the other down pat.

Bill Clinton ***  Good Old Boy personified

Lyndon B. Johnson ***** The ultimate bully

Herbert Hoover ***

Andrew Jackson -*****

You would think that guys like Ted Cruz would be on the list too but since narcissism is not on the list and he is predominately the epitome of that trait he is not included. You might also wonder why I didn’t include Ronald Reagan on the list. He certainly had many of these characteristics but in reality he was more about standoffish, and folksy than anything else.

2014-03-11_08-41-22California is America’s bread basket—or, more accurately, its fruits and vegetables basket. The Golden State produces 95 percent of the country’s celery, half of its bell peppers, 89 percent of its cauliflower, 96 percent of its tomatoes, 95 percent of its garlic, 90 percent of its avocados—and the list goes on. In fact, the state accounts for nearly one-fifth of the entire agricultural output of the U.S.

SOURCE: Epic California Drought Could Change the Way We Eat – Reviewed.com Ovens.

Lets face it, we are all addicted to California fruits and veggies.  We expect to have our strawberries throughout the year instead of just during the Spring months as our grandparents did. We want everything, even if it is out of season. The California droughts could have a profound effect  on our supply of fruits and vegetables. One thing to relieve that is that there is quite a bit more things coming from Mexico and South America now. Even our little supermarket here in my small town has tomatoes from Mexico, plums for Argentina and other countries.

2014-03-23_13-10-30The drought problem for California in not surprising given that they have a population of more than 38 million people! That is several times more than all the ten red States (shown blue on this map)  in the “Great American Desert” combined. They now pump much of their water from hundreds of miles away.

It seems that the most needed invention for this world today is taking the salt out of ocean water. If that could be done on an economic scale California could quit stealing water from its neighbors and continue to be the vegetable garden for the U.S.

The Theology Of Love….

March 30, 2014

2014-03-06_12-42-52A theology of love begins with the assumption that all people are God’s cherished children and deserving of love. “We love because he first loved us. Those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:19–20). Jesus demonstrated his love for the outcasts, those many considered unlovable. Regrettably, many Christians have been unwilling to adopt the ethic of Jesus—a theology of inclusion, acceptance, and love. We’ve been unwilling to love and accept our enemies. We haven’t even been excited about loving our neighbor.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love –  HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I must admit that this book “If God Is Love” is one of my top ten favorite books I have ever read. It was the first book by Philip Gulley I had read but it would certainly not be the last. When I read this book in 2005 there was no such thing as Amazon Kindle where I could tag a quote. Instead the physical book has many bent pages and starred paragraphs. I even subsequently bought the kindle version so I could more easily use quotes in my blogs.

If you really want to understand the magnitude of the love of God I would highly advise you to pick up a copy.