I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the four of a six-part series from about a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

 

The Bible — History Book Or Idol???

CB064037When we treat the Bible as a history book we come to more thoroughly understand the varied opinions put forth. But I very much understand that a significant portion of those who call themselves Christians believe that every word, every punctuation mark came directly from God and therefore is literally true and without the possibility of any error.

It seems to me that this group of Christians actually put the Bible itself above Jesus’ messages and therefore have made it into an idol to be worshiped in and for its own sake.  The inerrants, as they are often called, put forth an argument that if there is absolutely anything in the Bible that is not absolutely true then the Bible as a whole is worthless. This logic totally confuses me. I have never seen its application anywhere else in the world. Is there anything logic that even comes close to this type of belief?

There have been hundreds of different books written about Abraham Lincoln. It is absolutely certain that not everything in them is factual. Each book is for the most part one person’s opinions about this or that aspect piled onto the history of his life. Each book adds a little more insight, and probably a little more myth, into the nature of that famous person.

The U.S. Constitution written more than two hundred years ago is a very unique document in human history. It has allowed our country to flourish while many others wither and die.  It is a very wise and amazing document. But even that document has somethings that are shameful by 21st century eyes. The establishment that some of its citizens are only worth 3/5 of others is an embarrassing part. Should we throw the whole think out and start over again because it contains some things that are just flat wrong by today’s standards? Of course not. We instead add amendments to correct previous wrongs.

The other part that some put on the Bible is that it is God’s total word for all time.  That it answers all our questions and nothing else is required. In some ways that shows to me that these believers think that God is no longer necessary in today’s world. That he has been replaced by the Bible. That he has nothing else to teach us!  He has nothing more to say to the 21st century follower than he did to the 1st century follower.  That he is somehow now an absentee landlord replaced by a book!

Thank God (pun intended) there are also many others outside this inerrant belief system that think that God has given us revelation throughout human history. He give us scientific knowledge when He knows we can handle it. He gave us the key to DNA so that we can now start to solve health crises throughout the world. He has been giving us new revelations and discoveries for the last two thousand years and will continue to give us more in the future. God was not done giving out pieces of his omnipotent knowledge twenty centuries ago. Far from it!

Scriptures does not give us all the answers to life, reality, or the universe. But, it is the major source of the stories and fables around the times that Jesus walked this earth. We all gain valuable glimpses into the life and teachings of Jesus from those stories. For that reason the Bible is revered text but it should never never be idolized.

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2015-04-03_08-24-43I am ashamed of the State of my birth and where I have lived most of my life. But, this isn’t the first time. Indiana for most of my life has been a very conservative red State who embarrasses me on a regular basis.  The Republicans now have total power and they are wielding it. The latest “religious freedom” law is just one example. It sounds like we are now going to have placards placed on business doors saying which potential customers are not allowed to enter their business.  It reminds me kind of like my youth when I saw signs saying “No Negroes” when we traveled in the south. That embarrassed me even at that young age but at least I could say that didn’t happen in “my” State.

I don’t know how big Salesforce company it but once again Indiana is pushing people out by their actions.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said Wednesday that he is helping employees who are uncomfortable with Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law to transfer out of the state….

“I just got an email on the way to studio from another employee who said, ‘look I don’t feel comfortable living in this state anymore, you have to move me out,’ and I gave him a $50,000 relocation package and said, ‘great, you’re clear to go.’ “

SOURCE:Salesforce CEO: We’re helping employees move out of Indiana – Yahoo Finance.

Eli Lilly which practically owns Indianapolis is also stating concerns. I don’t know if Governor Pense and his GOP congress will get the message or not. They just might change the law but that doesn’t mean they will change their attitudes towards those who are different from them.

Maybe I need to consider if I am going to spend my final years in the State of my birth. I know my leaving would not make much of a difference but it might symbolically mean something to me….

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In quick succession, the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany all agreed to become founding shareholders of the AIIB, a sign that they are eager to cozy up to Beijing and its $4 trillion in foreign reserves. Once upon a time, “the world was said to bow down before the mighty dollar. These days, even many of America’s closest allies have renminbi signs in their eyes.”

This is an impressive “soft-power victory for China,” said the editors at Bloomberg View, and “Washington largely has itself to blame.” The U.S. has long called on China to take more of a role in international financial institutions, “without making room for it to do so.” Congress has repeatedly “blocked efforts to dilute U.S. dominance of the World Bank” or give China more influence at the IMF, where Beijing’s voting share is just 4 percent versus Washington’s 17 percent. Republicans have also shot down President Obama’s attempts to increase U.S. funding for the World Bank and IMF, said Charles Kenny at Bloomberg, leaving those institutions “undersize compared with the demands they face.” But if the Obama administration can’t persuade the GOP to put up the cash needed to underwrite development projects that will save lives and foster global growth, “it should at the very least get out of the way of other countries willing and able to lead.”

SOURCE:  China’s latest power play comes at the expense of America.

Everyone needs to learn that actions have consequences, even countries and that is what is beginning to happen to the U.S. For all of this millennium we have increasingly turned over our industrial production to China because of their lower labor costs. Too many people just focused on getting things a little cheaper and failed to look at the bigger picture.  Now, the consequences of these actions are starting to manifest themselves.

Of course we know that those actions have resulted in a severe reduction in the middle class of America. Due to constantly lower wages being earned by so many American families we have come to depend on getting our “stuff” cheaper. The second consequence is that China now has trillions of our dollars in their banks and that is resulting in them taking over the financial matters of the world. We have always been a debtor nation but never so much to just one country. Our past actions this millennium have consequences and I’m not really sure that is a bad thing.

Yes, it is fearful to see a country that is driven by a very different mentality gaining more power. Lets face it, communism is a very scary matter to capitalist nations. But if this current consequence results in our country to step back and look at what is going on with us lately maybe good will come from it. We need to realize that our very dysfunctional government is doing us grievous harm. We are ignoring things that need to be fixed because we refuse to get along together. We spend soooo much more on our military than anyone else in the world and that is draining our economy and making enemies throughout the world. We will learn that one country with less than 5% of the world’s population and, and really shouldn’t, be the policemen of the world. It is time to share that responsibility.

Maybe good things will come from us no longer being “The” political and economic power in the world….

A little humility is a good thing….

 

2015-03-20_19-39-57In the 17th century, the French philosopher René Descartes came up with the “explanation for it all”: I think, therefore I am. Descartes is considered the Father of Modern Day philosophy but being a relative novice in this area I kind of put that label on Plato or Socrates. Philosophy is something that I have always been peripherally interested in but never delved much into.  I have to put that on my bucket list I guess. I bet very few people have it there. :)  But this is not the real topic of this post. It is more about the phrase than the inventor.

Two things that I have always gushed with in my life is dreaming and thinking. I never seem to be capable of just shutting down my brain in those two areas. During my ten-year study of things theological I became fascinated with the Quaker religion. They just seem to have it for the most right among all the religious sects I studied. A big part of their church services is “centering down”. That is sitting quietly opening your mind to private messages from God. This proved to be very difficult for me but I do on occasion accomplish it. But for the most part I can’t quit thinking about things of life.

I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who would get all their news of the world from one cable media source and to take all the propraganda  by that channel as truth. It boggles my mind that there are millions of such people in the U.S. They don’t look for alternatives to what they are told. They simply don’t think that thinking for themselves is of any value I guess. By the same token I can’t imagine going through life without dreaming of other possibilities. To be dreaming that things can be better than they are now or have been in the past is simply something I am constantly doing.

So, I very much align with my own personal definition of “I think, therefore I am”.  I don’t know if I am really weird about this or just one of the few who will admit that I am constantly thinking and dreaming.  If I weren’t doing that I would question if I am really living? A  big part of the thinking and dreaming show up on this blog and I hope some at least get a little insight into life from my words. I always try to be respectful of everyone I come across and I hope that shows up here also. But a big part of my thinking is how we can improve the human condition of man. I have no illusions of grandeur. I don’t expect to be able to do more than very minutely nudge anyone from their set of beliefs but I hope I at least get some to think outside of the boxes they have built around themselves.  Maybe I think about too much stuff that really doesn’t matter to many but that is who I am.

I think, therefore I am…..

My Alter Ego

April 1, 2015

AlterEgoThis post is kind of like an April Fools joke on myself.

I think all of us have to one degree or another an alter ego.  That is a second self who is distinctively different from who we presently are day-to-day. Many of my personal journal posts are to my alter ego “Joe”.  He is my younger much more timid and less sure self. It took me many years to move out of that mode and to a degree I am still sometimes stuck there.

Before I go any further lets look at the “official” definition of alter ego.

Alter ego

An alter ego is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or original personality. A person who has an alter ego is said to lead a double life. Cicero was the first to coin the term as part of his philosophical construct in 1st century Rome, but he described it as “a second self, a trusted friend”.

Joe grew up in a single parent household with a stoic father. Mirrors were not his favorite thing. He thought he had a weak chin and just didn’t like looking at himself. He would never look into a mirror and imagine who he might become. He was for the most part never encouraged to do anything. He was never shown much affection and therefore was very reluctant to show any himself. Joe was one of those guys who always slipped into the background of life too shy to admit that he had an opinion on things let alone actually tell anyone what he might be thinking.  Joe was always a dreamer but never had much ambition. He was always doubtful that he was as good as most of those around him. Joe never had a mentor who might have been able to drag him outside of himself. Even though he was the first in his extended family to go to college he, like his father, never had much faith in himself.

If you haven’t guessed by now the J in RJ is for Joe and yes he is my alter ego. It took years for RJ to final come to the surface and leave Joe behind in the shadows. In some ways many of my posts are to Joe as to try to encourage him understand that he is a contributor to the world around him. He is unique and matters in life.  I feel deeply for all those young kids around today who might be stuck in the “Joe” mode. I wish I could be there for each  and every one of them.