Saving Jesus

This post is about some insightful words from a book entitled Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by Robin R. Meyers. This book solidified my belief that the words of Jesus have been losing focus in the church. Here are the words for today.

Strangely, we have come to a moment in human history when the message of the Sermon on the Mount could indeed save us, but it can no longer be heard above the din of dueling doctrines. Consider this: there is not a single word in that sermon about what to believe, only words about what to do. It is a behavioral manifesto, not a propositional one. Yet three centuries later, when the Nicene Creed became the official oath of Christendom, there was not a single word in it about what to do, only words about what to believe!

It is no secret to those who have visited here before that I am no admirer of King Constantine and the damage he did to the Christian church. It seems “the road not taken” is constantly in my thoughts and the words above are no exception.  I wonder what would be the state of Christianity if Constantine had not hijacked it to try to shore up his crumbling empire. I wonder if we would be more focused on the behavioral manifesto of the Sermon on the Mount instead of the propositional one he had written fifteen centuries ago?

Until I read this book the stark contrasts between Jesus’ word at the Mount and the Nicene Creed were not as apparent to me. The emergent church movement, of which Robin Meyers is a member, has a goal to try to rescue the words of Jesus from the church. Many churches today have tried to domesticate Jesus to one degree or another. They want to make being a Christian as easy as possible and Jesus’ words often get in the way of that goal so they just ignore the words they don’t particularly like.

Many versions of Christianity today who call themselves biblical literalists say that all of the words in the Bible are just as important as any others.  They say that the stories, myths, parables and such are just as important as Jesus’ messages to us on how to live a Godly life. They say the words of Jesus just aren’t any more important than the words of for instance Paul and even those anonymous people who wrote some of the epistles in his name.

One of the common complaints about today’s churches, especially by younger generations is that they are no longer relative to today’s world. Many say they are very interested in the words of Jesus but the church is a total turn-off.   We need to take back Jesus from those who try to domesticate him and let his radical words give us back the true meaning of being followers of Jesus Christ.

It all comes down to the fact that actions speak louder than words and definitely louder than creeds/beliefs.

Heinz Museum – Pittsburgh

2018-02-13_10-40-37.pngFor this artsy Saturday, I thought I would give you a pretty unique view of the Heinz Museum in Pittsburgh PA.  The museum is in an old factory building. The picture here is looking down an open staircase. Of course, the museum includes the history of Heinz Catsup and such but there is also much more there for your enjoyment.  I find this picture fascinating for all the detail it involves. If you want to learn more about the museum, click on the image to the right.

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Crossing of the Delaware

2018-02-13_10-07-26.pngOne of the first things that most school children are taught about American history is Washington’s crossing of the Deleware River.  Since it happened in the dark of night the day after Christmas in 1776 it was a rather dramatic event.  It was also an important victory for the fledgling American army who had suffered mostly defeats up till then.

If you are ever near Trenton New Jersey you should stop in at the Washington Crossing Historic Park and hear the full story.  The museum there is full of artifacts. Nearby is also the Old Barracks Museum showing things about military life during that period. Both are well worth your time.

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Being Prepared…

2018-02-05_10-18-29.pngEven though I was never a Boy Scout, I am a person who tries to be prepared for the challenges I will be facing. If I want to discuss a controversial topic I try to study both sides to see where my feelings might reside. “Think For Yourself” is one of my primary mantras in my life. I simply don’t let others tell me what to think. But then again, maybe that is one of the reasons I was never a Boy Scout (ha).

Then I see the current Oval Office occupant who is totally unprepared for the many challenges he faces.  I know he never dreamed he would actually occupy that prime real estate, he was just having fun dissing people. Maybe that is an excuse for being unprepared?  But the even more tragic thing about all of this is that now that he is there he seems doggedly determined to stay unprepared. Of course, his narcissism has something to do with that and his grand illusion of being a perfect genius also contributes to that continued ignorance.

Changing pace a little here with a snippet:

2018-02-05_10-09-37.pngthe real craziness of 2017 is best expressed in terms of constitutional theory. Our Constitution vests the entire executive power in a single individual. No worse joke has been played on the American people than the very fact that tens of thousands of eighth graders have a far better grasp of the Constitution than Donald Trump, even though he swore a sacred oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” it on January 20, before the record crowds he deluded himself to see assembled before him. That’s not just political craziness; it’s truly meshugah in every sense of the term. Just try to imagine a conversation with Jefferson, Madison, either Adams, or Abraham Lincoln—strong constitutionalists all—on one side of the table, and the current chief executive on the other. That would be crazy, too!

Source: Was 2017 the Craziest Year in U.S. Political History? – POLITICO Magazine

Unwillingness to even attempt to prepare for the future when millions of lives are at stake by your actions is a deadly sin as far as I am concerned. To me, that is a 25th amendment thing in itself.  As my hero, Will Rogers said, “Everyone is ignorant, just on different subjects”.  Ignorance is not stupidity unless we refuse to learn. But then again extreme self-imposed ignorance is STUPIDITY!

The underlying reason for his continued ignorance of constitutional matters is his abject refusal to read.  Here is a little about that:

Wolff [Fire and Fury authoer] quotes economic adviser Gary Cohn writing in an email: “It’s worse than you can imagine. Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”…

In March, Reuters reported that briefers had strategically placed the president’s name in as many paragraphs of briefing documents as possible so as to attract his fickle attention.

Source: The President Who Doesn’t Read – The Atlantic

 

 

 

One Good Thing About the Trump Presidency

2018-02-10_14-04-21.pngAs usual, I have been in a reflective mood this time of year.  I am trying to see if any good has come from the current presidency. What I am currently latching onto is that now that there is a self-proclaimed, and seemingly proudly so, the sexual abuser in the White House that topic has finally moved to the forefront. Of course, it has a hashtag  #MeToo.  Even though he has not yet been called to task many others who thought they were exempt have now fallen from grace. It is amazing to me just how quickly that happened.

But I do kind of wonder just how deep this current sexual harassment base is? Since 53% of white women voted for Trump even as he admitted he was guilty of sexual abuse, I wonder where those voters are now? Are they still Trump supporters? I don’t know..

I worked 30 years in the corporate world and was aware of the sexual harassment around me. In my company, it was never rampant but it did exist under the surface.

Too bad #MeToo was not around when Anita Hill testified during that infamous Supreme Court nomination. If it was we would likely not have an incompetent holding down a lifetime appointment to that noble institution. I wonder if there is a way to get someone off that bench who plainly is unable to perform the duties. Is there a 25th amendment for Supreme Court judges? But I am getting off topic here…

I know that Bill Cosby started this avalanche but Trump caused it to go critical mass and that is a good thing.  I just wonder if that will be the Trump legacy years after he has relinquished his deadly hold on the country?

Oct 8, 2016 –

Trump: You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want. 

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Oct 16, 2016 – People magazine writer, Natasha Stoynoff, was interviewing the Trumps in 2005 at Mar-a-Lago. She says, quote, “I turned around and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.” Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice alleges Trump forced …

Etc, Etc, Etc…

In the back of my mind, I kinda wonder if Bill Clinton had been called to task on his alleged sexual assaults whether there would even be a Trump presidency??

 

On The Road – Clifty Falls State Park

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Clifty Falls State Park in southern Indiana is one of my favorites. The campgrounds are well laid out and maintained and the hiking trails are manageable for this senior.  And of course, the park is a mecca for photographers. As is my custom on my micro-RV trips I had breakfast at the inn after a night in the campgrounds.

Being close to Madison Indiana, the campground makes an enjoyable base for a multi-day stay and that is what I did. I enjoyed a day in the park, another in Madison, and third day at St Meinrad Archabbey near Ferdinand. If you are a Catholic, and even if you aren’t, the archabbey is so peaceful it would be worth the trip.

It seems that most people, including me, generally think of Indiana as a “travel through” State and kind of boring.  But if you take the time to stop and see some of these sites you may just change your mind about that.  At least for a little while. 🙂

Below are some pictures of this trip for your enjoyment. As usual, click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view.

Us vs Them.. How Did We Get Here; How Do We Get Out??

HDWGH Banner

In lieu of talking about the current political scene, I am going to try to make the logo above one of the central topics here at RJsCorner for the coming months. I know I frequently announce these types of projects and then don’t carry them through, but this one is kind of like an epiphany for me. I don’t think there is going to be one way to break the “Us vs Them” tragedy; it will take millions of voices singing the same tune to make that happen.  I want to be one of those voices…

I haven’t thoroughly thought out a particular strategy for my contribution but being a history buff I know we need to find where we have been before we can figure out where we are going.  So, I will start out here with studying the biggest examples and then search for a possible solution.

Going from there will likely be how each of us can contribute to putting the current “Us vs Them” episode into the past.  I know this is a noble goal, especially at this late stage of my life but I want to be one of those millions who contribute, so why not.

2018-02-01_11-46-29.pngTo finish this first post I want to talk a little about the featured photo of this post which is also included in the banner that will be on each post on this subject.  It was a large illuminated panel shown here which is at the “Brown vs Board of Education” national site in Topeka Kansas. The building is not a large one but contains many artifacts that will make you think about racial prejudice and particularly the Civil Rights era. Many of you probably recognize the picture as Birmingham Alabama forced school integration. On September 10th, in 1963, twenty black students entered previously all-white public schools in Birmingham they were protected by National Guard soldiers. As I was going through the rooms I suddenly came upon on this large picture and the hate that filled the young white woman’s eyes literally shook me to my bones.  I have never seen hate personified as I did in the large photo. Every time I see the photo I wonder if that young girl ever got over the hatred she had? If she didn’t it probably consumed her as it did so many southern bigots of those time.

Now a story about my personal experiences with racial prejudice in the Southern States in the 1960s and 70s. I was a young engineer in 1972 when I was sent to a Shreveport Louisana factory to assist in solving a manufacturing problem.  It was there that I met Mel. He was a “good ole boy” that all the engineers loved to hear his stories. When we went to the cafeteria for a coffee break he proceeded to tell his dehumanizing story about lazy black niggers. I was totally embarrassed by his words and even more embarrassing was that the told in within hearing distance of scores of African-Americans sitting in the dining room. That fact didn’t bother him at all, in fact, it probably excited him. This was my first real exposure to racial prejudice and it stuck with me throughout my life.  I think throughout this series we will come to find that turning your enemy into something inhuman is an essential part of this ugly process.

For anyone who cares to read the inscription on the panel click on the photo below to see a readable view:

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Our Own Version….

2014-02-17_08-51-46MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) — A snake-handling pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show “Snake Salvation” has died after being bitten by a snake during a weekend church service in Kentucky.

SOURCE: Snake-handling Ky. pastor dies from snake bite – Yahoo News.

While this is maybe of the extreme part of the spectrum it is still a typical example of how we pick and choose what we want to be the image of God.  It takes one verse out of the tens of thousands found in the Bible and uses it for the main focus of spirituality.  “You shall take up snakes…” is an example of what serious critics of the church use to illustrate the absurdity of believing in God. Regrettably, that is not without some degree of truth.

Yes, this is an extreme example but by no means the only one. There are literally thousands of groups, some small and some very large, who take a minuscule piece of biblical text and explode it into a major belief system.  To some degree, even Protestantism is an example of this. Martin Luther, who is generally acknowledged as the pioneer of that version of Christianity spent years searching biblical text for something to ameliorate his enormous feeling of low self-esteem and utter worthlessness. When he discovered that single verse in Ephesians that said that grace is a gift and not from works he had is “aha” moment like so many others before and after him and found his version of Christ. Ironically, most theologians today have come to believe that Ephesians was not actually written by the Apostle Paul, but instead by some anonymous person who wrote it in his name.

These issues are very much a forest/trees situation.  If anything, we should be looking at the overall message of the Bible and particularly of the words of Jesus Christ to find our place in life. Instead, we search and search for that one iota that seems to relieve our current guilts or conditions and then practically throw away the rest of the forest to only concentrate on that one tree of knowledge. From that point on our focus on the Bible is to find similar verses to the one we found to back up our new-found system of belief and there have been centuries of that very kind of practice occurring.

Instead of looking for that single tree to latch on to we should all be forest watchers. We will never completely understand the ecosystem of God’s forest but we should at least try to see its overall beauty. During our journey into the forest, we must also understand that others who are also searching might have a different current concept of the forest. That does not make them wrong or us right, it is just different. In fact, not a single one of us will ever really get it “right”. Not one of us…

This post is an edited version of a post from my blog RedLetterLiving.net 

My Flickr Is Growing…

Snippet BannerJust a quick snippet to let you know that I have already added almost 200 of my favorite photos to Flickr. Flickr ButtonI have a couple thousand photos that will eventually go there but this is a pretty good start.  Click on the icon to the right, or the one always on the Home page to access them. While you are there click on the Albums button to see what’s there.

Land Of Enchantment

For this Saturday’s artsy post, I want to present to you a picture from one of my favorite States. I am presently writing a detailed post about New Mexico but wanted to give you one of my favorite pictures of Santa Fe. It has been my desktop background for several months now:

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Flying Cars

2018-02-01_17-54-41I can remember visiting the 1964 World’s Fair in New York on my high school senior trip. It was practically the first time, except for a few short vacation vacations, that I had been out of the State. We took a bus from Indiana to New York and then down to Washington DC. We were the first class in our very small rural high school who had traveled that far. The experience was one I will never forget.

Getting to the point of this post, we spent a full day at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows NY. One of the major exhibitors there was General Motors.  Their exhibit was called Futurama,  showing what life might be like in the “near-future”. Part of that was what the world of transportation would by the year 2000.  Simulated low-flying cars buzzed through a  model scene.

2018-02-01_18-10-36Part of this prediction was formulated by the Jetsons animated cartoon show. George, the man of the house had to work one-hour a day for two days a week.  To get to this job he got into his flying car.

Of course, as often times is the case, we are nowhere near that reality but maybe we are getting there. When I visited the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) in OshKosh Wisconsin this past year there was a small manufacturer taking orders for his version of a flying car.

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I think I was born too early as I would love to have been able to do my daily commute to the office that way.  They were only $100.000 each…. Just plug in the GPS coordinates and push the start button. No aircraft license required.

Mutual Toleration

Mutual toleration is a term that I didn’t know existed but it does almost perfectly describe the current political problems.

President Trump hasn’t destroyed the republic. This should not surprise us. Our democratic institutions are strong. And Mr. Trump, despite his reckless attacks on democratic norms, is a weak and inept leader.

But that doesn’t mean democracy is safe. The problems we face run deeper than the Trump presidency. While Mr. Trump’s autocratic impulses have fueled our political system’s mounting crisis, he is as much a symptom as he is a cause of this crisis.

To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do.

The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.

Source:  How Wobbly Is Our Democracy? – The New York Times

Yeah, I can see that these two basic norms for a democracy are being stretched to the limit during our present times. I would suggest you click on the link above to read this entire article if you have the time.

When did we stop accepting that our political opponents are legitimate?  When we stop thinking of those on the other side as a loyal opposition and start thinking of them as the enemy, political disintegration occurs. Of course, there have always been radical fringe factions in our political parties with the “enemy” mentality but they now seem to have almost “taken over the asylum” so to speak.  I kinda think these times can be easily ameliorated is only all of us would become more fundamentally engaged in the election of our officials.

In some ways, the second stated basic norm is more troubling than the first.  First off, when our constitution was written the idea of two opposing political parties was not on the radar screen.  I think it was just assumed that the people we elected all had a common goal of representing the “people”, not just a subgroup. It also assumed that the chosen leader of our country would be an accomplished statement, like our first president, who would not seek the office for power.

In a closing thought, I think it is time for us to revisit our cherished document to bring it up to the reality of our times. Putting one person in charge of the entire executive branch is a recipe for disaster. Maybe it is time to more thoroughly define where power belongs to each branch of government.  No, I don’t have a proposed solution for this; that effort is way above my pay scale so to speak, but I kinda think it is time to make that happen.

What Happens When You Don’t Do Your Homework?

I suspect there has not been a kid alive that didn’t have to be forced to do his grade school homework. In my day parental threats were used to accomplish that task, today enticements most often are likely used. Here is my list of the consequences of not doing your homework:

2018-02-04_18-21-23.pngWhen you don’t do your homework you make terribly uninformed decisions.

When you don’t do your homework you lose out on opportunities in life.

When you don’t do your homework you fall behind everyone else.

When you don’t do your homework you remain ignorant of too many topics.

It is not until later that most of us learn that studying a topic makes us more informed and better able to take on life’s challenges. When we gain knowledge on a subject we can make better decisions and if we are writers/bloggers maybe we can even convince others to look at things a little differently.

One of the most dreadful realities of not doing your homework currently resides in the White House, well at least for a few days each week. He is so vain and convinced of this superintelligence that he refuses to do his homework so he could be a better president.  Surely in his mind’s eye, he knows he is not qualified for his duties but he will never, even if his life depends on it, admit to that fact.  To do so would be to admit that he is not perfect. The sad reality is that the average eighth grader probably has more knowledge of the Constitution than he does. He is one of those few people who doesn’t care to learn something he doesn’t know. But maybe that is because he thinks he knows everything.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

 

I Love Flickr…

I have been struggling here at RJsCorner trying to figure out the best way to get my photo collection out there.  I spend literally hours each week massaging photos to make them their best and I want others to see and hopefully appreciate my efforts. I say, and I do believe, that I take photos and travel as I do for my own benefit but it would be enormously satisfying if I thought others might enjoy my efforts.  But how to do that is the question I have been thinking about for a few days now

At first, I was going to add a new section here at RJsCorner to include many of my photos but I know that the vast majority of visitors here only look at the daily posts.  I considered Pinterest but decided the way the site is formatted my pictures would be gobbled up amongst all the cut/paste stuff that ends up there. Most of the popular social media sites are more geared to a person using a cell phone and selfie stick. They are just not enough for us serious photographers who use have well thought out libraries and use  SLRs and sophisticated editing tools.

slice4Then I rediscovered Flickr. Actually, I signed up for membership to this site in 2013 but have never really used it.  The site is sophisticated enough to allow my personal portfolio to stand on its own but still be connected to a larger population of photographers. I have spent several hours lately planning and beginning to move to Flikr. If you have some time you might want to browse what is there now. Just click on the icon to the right. Much more will be added in the coming weeks.  I have finally found a serious home for my portfolio.

Now before you tech-savvy folks chime in, I realize that Flickr has been recently sold to Verizon as part of their recent acquisition of Yahoo so the site’s future is a little unsettled right now. But since Flickr has billions of photos and millions of dedicated users I think they will likely be around for quite a while yet. I am willing to make that bet because they are the best and perhaps the only choice around for serious photographers.

For those who venture there, I want to give you an advanced look at my homepage there. The photostream button shows my latest 200 imports in the order they were downloaded. To see a better, bigger, and more organized look click on the Albums button.  I will leave it up to you to go further from there.

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Looking Back…

I now have over 3,000 posts here at RJsCorner and in a number of them I made some predictions. Every once in a while I need to revisit those posts, especially those where I got my predictions wrong. This is one of them. In this post below, I predicted that there was no way Trump could win the presidency. But I did leave myself an out by saying it depends on how many of us vote, so maybe I was right after all.  I guess my faulty logic was that I gave the general electorate too much credit for being informed voters.  I have learned my lessons in that regard. 🙂 

About Brexit and the British.. And How We are NOT Like Them

2016-07-19_15-09-10.png241 years ago we were part of the Great British Empire. We were loyal, although complaining, citizens. Then we chose to go our own way and eventually after a four-year rebellion got our way. We still have common bonds with GB but we are also markedly different. One of the major differences is that we are a nation of immigrants and Great Britain is a nation embedded in aristocracy.

We until recently have a classless nation. We don’t hold people in higher esteem just because of what name they have. America became known as the land of opportunity. A place where anyone with the right opportunities and drive could make their fortunes.  I say until recently because since the 1980s, I always like to put the blame on the Reagan administration, we simply did not allow massive fortunes to flow from one generation to another.  For the super-rich inheritance taxes were often 90% or more.

In the last one hundred years, but especially the last thirty, wealth began to flow with very little taxes from one generation to another. That results in people like Paris Hilton getting massive fortunes from their great-grandparents. That fact separates us into the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Paris has never known what it is like not to get her every whim and wish fulfilled with no effort on her part.  Unlike Britain, we don’t put perpetual titles on our gifted.

Getting to the point of this post, many people fear that since GB chose to exit the European Union that it might be a signal that we will also do something radical such as electing and egomaniac narcissist anti-immigrant person as our president. Given that we are a nation of immigrant and the most part unprivileged that is not likely.  Of course, this election will test that theory to the max. It all depends on turnout. Presidential election turnouts have typically been in the mid-50% range. That is, only about half of us bother to show up at the polls.  We are perhaps the worst in established democracies in that regard.

It will soon come to a point that the majority of us in the U.S. will no longer be WASPs. Over 40% of us presently claim heritage of a different nature.  Whereas Britain is still very much entwined with a whites-only society. It has been pretty well established that immigration was one of the primary reasons for the Brexit vote.  The well-established citizens could see the “British way of life” changing too quickly for them and because they are still a significant majority they were able to say “no more immigrants”.

The ethnic diversity of the U.S. is unique in all of the world. It has allowed us to empathize with oppressed countries around the globe and as the plaque on the Statue of Liberty says we don’t put a monetary or class requirement on those who want to come to join us. Well, at least until now, and these time will soon pass…