Having No Religion or Faith..

Britain is becoming an increasingly faithless society, according to a new survey that has found 53% of Britons now describe themselves as having no religion.

The proportion is the highest ever, up from 48% in 2015 and 31% in 1983 when the British Social Attitudes survey was begun by the independent National Centre for Social Research.

The trend is evident across all age groups but is particularly marked among young people, with 71% of 18-to 24-year-olds surveyed in 2016 saying they had no religion, up from 62% percent the previous year.

The majority of older people still have some faith, with only four in ten of those aged 65 to 74 describing themselves as having no religion, and only 27% of those aged 75 and over.

Source: More than half of Britons have no religion – survey

From what I remember the US has similar  but lower numbers and also trends significantly downward but not yet to the extent of Britons. I wonder how much of this decline here is associated with politics? Evangelicals are now known more as an ultra right political group than a religious one.  That fact alone does serious, and maybe deadly, harm to religion.

On another thought, there are just so many things that educated people today see to enforce their belief that religion does more harm than good in our societies. They look at all the wars in the world today and see that religion is the source for almost all of them.

Too many versions of religions demand a blind faith.  That is, you are supposed to take whatever they say is true no matter was current day facts prove. That alone will eventually cause the demise of most forms of religion in the world. God gave us intellect and a questioning attitude for a reason.

When we as a world community finally come to see that we are all praying to the same God we may be able to eventually salvage what’s left of religion from the dust heaps of time.  These are pretty harsh words but I think they need to be said.

I proudly say I am a follower of Jesus Christ and his messages to us but I am currently not religious. This statement causes confusion in many but once I explain this dichotomy they understand what I am saying.

I See Myself As…

canstockphoto6621324.jpgWe all have a vision of who we are and what we are all about. Many times that vision is strikingly different than the way others see us. I don’t know why that is but it probably has something to do with our egos.  Yes, we all have egos but of course some are much more massive than others. Anyway I want to put forward here a little about how I see myself. Maybe you could benefit from some of the same self evaluation?

I see myself as a perpetual  student and teacher at the same time.  There is always something new to learn and prejudices that need to be unlearned.  I seek adventure, yes, but never conquest.

I loathe the “survival of the fittest” mentality and embrace the “brother’s keeper” alternative.  I am a follower of the messages of Jesus Christ but am for the most part disappointed in what much of his church on earth has become.

I question everything. Truth’s borders are a transient place where walls sometimes need to crumble, for barriers to come down. I try to always be open to new possibilities.

Each personal encounter is the mixture of commonalities and differences, exploring paths of shared experiences while discovering new paths that lead to new territories unbounded.

I loathe boredom or maybe it is just not moving forward. I am always looking to the next frontier.

This is how I see myself today. Tomorrow might be a different story.

What about you? How do you see yourself?

 

Aspie Traits – Assets vs Liabilities..

Banner Aspie  It has been a while since I talked about my Aspie traits. I have decided I won’t call myself an Aspie but will state that I have many of the characteristics of one.  Asperger’s Syndrome is part of the Autism Spectrum and the breadth of the syndrome is wide indeed.  Some, like myself live a pretty normal life while others struggle with day to day activities.

At least to me and I expect many others who are more knowledgeable of the Syndrome recognize that the traits are spread between assets and liabilities.  In this and future posts in this category I want to talk about both sides. So here goes:

Asset – We Are Forthright  Simply stated we speak our mind where others might hold back. That has always seemed a natural state to me, especially in the last decade or so.  I still can’t understand why people don’t speak forthrightly, but I do understand how it can cause you to get into trouble.  When I was a member of an LCMS Lutheran church I used to regularly attend Bible Study classes after the service.  When something didn’t make sense to me I spoke up. The more I did the more the pastor seem to get  upset. Especially when he couldn’t answer the question. It wasn’t long before I was told I couldn’t be a Lutheran anymore as I didn’t believe the “right” things.  Too much forthrightness got me in trouble. When we were asked to leave my wife blurted out “Why couldn’t you keep your mouth shut!!”  She still doesn’t understand that is just the way I am.

Liability – We have difficulty accepting criticism  This liability has given me trouble throughout my married life.  I can’t help it but it seems that my wife is constantly criticizing me for one thing or another.  Everything in the world seems to be my fault to one degree or another.  I sometimes get the feeling that she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up.  I guess other married guys can take this in stride but I have constant trouble in dealing with it.  Sometimes it results in some rather serious verbal spats.   I know I should not be so upset by criticism but that fact doesn’t help when I boil over because of it.

 

Museum of Appalachia

 

Scan 1Banner ISOA  On my most recent trip InSearchOfAmerica I visited the Museum of Appalachia. I was not expecting too much but was blown away by what I found. It is a museum like no other I have visited. The totally unique thing about this place was that all the building and most of the antiques were identified by the person who owned them and included stories about their lives.  It is almost as if you could picture them living in the buildings and using the instruments and such.

 

I took literally a hundred photos of the place. Here are a few to entice you to visit. The museum is located in Clinton TN in the northeast corner of the State.

 

 

 

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

 

I Don’t Have Many Friends — By Choice..

Maybe I should explain the title some more before I continue with the post.  Yes, because of my Aspie traits and my isolation as a deaf senior citizen I don’t have as many friends as I had when I was in the corporate world. That is a fact that can’t be denied but it is not the point of this post.

The point I am trying to make is that by Facebook standards my friends list is pretty abysmal.  I think at last count I had about 40 “friends”. Some of them I don’t “follow” because they post multiple times daily about the most mundane things in their life and even though I am a 24/7 senior I don’t have, or maybe I won’t take the time to even browse through those posts.  Of those 40 friends I think their average friend count is over 200.

2017-10-12_12-05-50.pngIt is not because I am not able to have more “friends”, Lord knows I get multiple requests weekly from people I have no idea who they are. Maybe they read a post here at RJsCorner and want me to know what they are doing?  But I suspect most of them found me when I made a comment on Facebook one place or another.  Their purpose for asking me is simply to increase their count so as to impress their friends.

I’m probably going to come off as an old fogie here but I think social media is a fad not worth following, at least to the degree that many do. We all say our days are so hectic that we have no time for family things. But then the stats show that people spend multiple hours daily interacting with social media.  Maybe it’s time for many to go cold turkey from social media for a few days to spend time on other things? Maybe its absence would show them that it doesn’t add much value to their lives?

My View Of The Bible – Part 6 Closing Thoughts…

This six part Sunday series was about looking at the Bible as a human document. That is, it was written and assembled by humans with different life experiences, viewpoints, and passions.  Much of their thoughts and words were believed to come from divine inspiration. Many believed they were writing what God wanted them to write. When I study the Bible I try to understand the reasons why some of the writers might have penned what they did.  Of course, I am also a human who has my own life experiences and passions, part of which surely shaped by what I have previously studied. What I have said in this series is of my own understanding. But, what I have studied also very likely comes through in some cases so if I failed to give some credit during these and other posts I apologize. It is not intentional.

When we view the Bible as a document written by humans who were to one degree or another inspired by God it takes on a unique shape and understanding.  Those who insist that the Bible was, more or less, dropped down from heaven by God himself deprive themselves of this valuable insight.  Understanding the background and circumstances of the writers helps us to gain a better feel for the meanings behind their words. Every word in the Bible was not intended to be taken literally for all the ages. Much of what was written must be looked at with first century eyes and then sometimes applied to twenty-first century circumstances.

I will finish this series how I began it by saying again that I am not a trained theologian; I am just a simple guy who has studied the Bible and other related documents and come to some personal understanding about them. One thing I avoid in my posts, and I think I did a pretty good job here, is “theologian speak”. There seems to be a complex multisyllabic word to tag almost all studies of the bible. Although I am familiar with some of them I try to avoid them whenever possible.

I hope this round of posts had at least a small amount of value for some of you. I want you to come away from this series with the understanding that not all Christians see the Bible the same way…

Ode to The Hardware Store

I am old enough to remember hardware stores like the one below. They were a big part of my growing up as I found myself fascinated by all the things and wanted to know what they did.

This hardware store is still in service in a small town in Indiana.  There aren’t any Lowes or Home Depots near so maybe it will survive a few more years.

Old Time Hardware Store.jpg

The Tail Wags The Dog..

It is becoming abundantly clear to me now that when it comes to video media that the tails wags the dog.  Keeping me informed so that I can make wise decisions is not a prominent goal of most telemedia companies, especially those like CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

Unlike much of the rest of the world our news sources depend of advertising to stay in existence. The more views they can get, the more they can charge for advertising. It is as simple as that. For those of us who are at least middle aged, we know of a different time.  The network news organizations were there for a public benefit not a profit center. If the proper regulations had been in place that could have stayed the same today. Like everything else it seems, the Reagan administration was all about deregulation so when the cable news orgs happened on the scene they we untethered to make as much money as they could.

Being a profit center the news is now driven by views. The more people to watch the more profit they claim. Sensationalizing what they cover is now the norm.  If they can find controversy that is what they do.  The more controversy the better. It is no longer profitable to cover mundane things like the details of annual budget reports. Things that help us make better decisions went out the window years ago.

canstockphoto46913608.jpgThe easy, or should I say lazy, way to stay informed now is to lock onto one worldview and disregard everything else. That is what drives FOX and MSNBC totally and CNN most often. It now takes hard work to glean through multiple news sources to find the “truth” of almost any matter.

Like Thomas Jefferson said a democracy depends on an informed electorate and that creature is quickly disappearing from the landscape now.  Does that mean that our democracy is doomed it failure or simply that we will fall to become an “also ran” country. If the latter is the case it looks like China is getting well positioned to take our place.

The tail wags the dog in too much of our world now. Being a democracy it is up to us to change that fact if we are not too lazy to do it now.  That is the question of the day….

 

 

Tongue In Cheek..

I am going to do a little ‘explainin’ on this post about the foundations for RJsCorner. Everyone knows that a good house has to have a good foundation in order to survive. Since RJsCorner has been going on for almost nine years now and has over 3,000 posts it must have a pretty good foundation, even if it is not mentioned very often.

I started RJsCorner primarily because I had an overwhelming desire to write about my view of the world. I have always loved writing but had never tried to do it around a theme. I needed something as a common thread throughout my future posts. That something turned out to be based around my biggest hero/mentor/inspiration in life. His name was Will Rogers. He died almost 15 years before I was born so I really only knew him by his words and stories about him. If you do a search for “Will Rogers” in my search box at the top of each page you will find over a hundred posts about Will.

Will Rogers was a very prolific writer. Here are some words about him from the back of one of my favorite books:

2017-10-11_10-00-37.pngWill Rogers “was” America. Part Cherokee Indian and former cowboy, he captivated audiences around the world with sparkling gems of wisdom cloaked in gentle and uproarious country wit..

A simple, plain-spoken man, he was the voice of a nation during the ’20s and ’30s. Movie star, vaudeville headliner, radio commentator, his views and observations were syndicated daily and weekly in over 600 newspapers across the country.

Here is the essential Will Rogers — the story of his remarkable career, from Oklahoma “cowpuncher” to international star . . . and the warm, knowing and hilarious philosophies of the man embodied the heart and soul of the nation.

Will Rogers was a very prolific writer. He had a lot to say about the ‘human condition’ in America during his years. He tackled on a myriad of topics but by far the one he wrote most about was politics.  He described politics of his time as “applesauce”. It’s hard to find the original source of this term but to me it means that the political process takes something that is good and wholesome and pulverizes it into an unrecognizable mush.

His most famous quote was the title of the book above. He wrote some pretty critical words but they were always with respect for the subject at hand and with a dose of humor.

The descriptions of Will Rogers is quite varied. Some call him a humorist-social commentator, some a humorist-philosopher, and some a satirist. His words were primarily with a “Tongue In Cheek” spirit. For those of you who might have a different view from me on that phrase here is a pretty good definition:

When a statement is “tongue in cheek” it is ironic, slyly humorous; it is not meant to be taken seriously, however it’s sarcasm is subtle.

Though not meant to be taken seriously, it is not overt joking or kidding around, it is “gently poking fun”. A “tongue in cheek” statement may have a double meaning, some sort of innuendo or is witty in some way, particularly to the speaker. The tone or the context of the statement may make it to be taken seriously by the listener.

Here at RJsCorner I try to always keep Will’s philosophy of writing in mind.  Some who read my words just take them too literally when they are primarily intended as ‘tongue in cheek’.

These are indeed dark times for America but they are not the only time there have been dark clouds.  We will get through them as we have in the past, if we only don’t take them too serious.  In that vein I will close out this post with one of my favorite quotes from Will.

Do the best you can but don’t take life too serious.

That’s darn good advise for our times if you ask me….

Let’s Get Rid of ALL Gun Controls..

2017-10-07_13-47-05.pngYou heard me right in the title above.  There is so much opposition to gun control now that I think we should just open up the purchase of guns to anyone who wants them . If you already have a hundred guns but want more then by all means you should be able to get them. If you want every one of your guns to have a bump-stock by all means buy as many as you want.  That’s what the free market system is all about isn’t it?  The NRA can finally be proud of me for my revised stand on guns. As my blood red friends say Guns don’t kill people…

Ok now for the kicker ( you knew there had to be one), I don’t believe that guns kill people either. What kills them are bullets so let’s regulate the hell out of buying bullets. Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. The 2nd amendment doesn’t say anything about bullets. If you want to join a militia to protect our country as was the actual purpose of the second amendment then you supply your gun and the government will supply the bullets.

canstockphoto39651775.jpgIf you spend every weekend shooting your guns as many of our red citizens claim they do then on Monday take our your empty shells to the bullet store and get up to one box (number in a box – to be determined) of new bullets.  But in order to buy bullets you gotta trade in your empty shells.

With this solution the gun folks who point out that knives also kill people will really learn that lesson. If you want to, you can use your gun as a club and beat someone to death with it then you are finally comparing apples to apples when it comes to knives and other such weapons.

 

Kentucky Artisan Center

I just returned from another trip InSearchOfAmerica.  This one was to Kentucky and Tennessee.  The first post I want to do for this trip is my quick stop at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea KY. I was almost overwhelmed with the artistry that I found there. I was first introduced to metal art of this quality while I was living in Guadalajara Mexico. I didn’t realize that our country’s artists produced work like this.

The Artisan Center is a State run organization to promote the local artists. It is well worth the stop if you are in the area.  One of these works now proudly have a place in the Walters homestead as a memory of this journey.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view.

Red America & Blue America (after the divorce)..

If you haven’t already read the first two posts in this series I would highly recommend you do that now because this one won’t make much sense if you don’t.

Red & Blue America – Part 1 

Red & Blue America – Part 2

Last time I promised you a settled map of what Red America and Blue America might look like under the “My View of the World” plan. Here it is:

background.png

I know, I know, Blue America kinda looks like a gerrymandered congressional map but it was the best I can do on such short notice.  Maybe if we assigned some committee to study it further they could do better. On second thought “design by committee” would probably take a decade and still be undecided. Since I am the sole proprietor of RJsCorner we will just leave it as it is.

2017-10-02_12-48-33.pngLet’s do some studying on what this means. Starting with the GDP it looks like Blue America will have about 75% of the GDP, leaving Red America with 25%.  Since Red America will likely immediately eliminate taxes, at least on the rich I just don’t know where their funding will come from except maybe borrowing or by printing more money. Blue America on the other hand since there military spending will be aligned with much of the rest of the world will have an abundance of cash for infrastructure improvement and such. It’s not likely they will want to reduce taxes so they will have to look for other opportunities to spend it.

2017-10-01_11-49-28.pngOk, How about population?  The weird map shown to the right here is proportioned by population. I don’t know if you see anything too obvious here but the blue does seem to overwhelm the red. So again,  Blue American even with Florida which RJsPlan gave them will be about twice the size for Red when you consider population. Maybe that is a good thing for them. Except for Florida which they got through trade there just aren’t many people in the red states. Since they will likely shut down social security and all subsidized health care they will probably lose citizens who migrate blue for those things.

Let’s  finish up here by looking at the top priorities of the two countries to see how they might fair.

Red America – I don’t think they will have enough taxes to keep up their military spending without, GOD FORBID, raising taxes. What will they do? They need a BIG army to feel safe especially now since Blue America almost surrounds them.

Blue America – They will quickly turn to a single payer healthcare system that might cost a little more will be much more efficient. Blue America will take their lessons from the successes of the world and not have to reinvent everything themselves.

In the final analysis, I don’t think Red America will be a very good place to live.  But for the most part that won’t be much different from today.  But, at least both red and blue may then be able to get things done that they want.

Red & Blue America is starting to sound like a good idea….

Ok, enough of this silly dreaming for now…. Back to this dark Trumpian world…at least for a little while…

My View Of The Bible — Part 5 Summing It Up..

This is the fifth post on this series about the Bible. If it is not obvious by now I want you to understand that I put my Christianity on Jesus Christ not on a book about him. I will try to keep this brief as it is really a wrap-up of the past posts.

About the Literalists:

  • Panic – In some cases I see almost total panic in people when I say not all the words in the bible are literally true. This belief is so ingrained in the foundations of their faith they cannot imagine it could not be true.
  • Irrational – Some say if you doubt any words in the Bible are not literally true than you must doubt all of them and therefore the Bible would be worthless! Nonsense..Living with that sort of belief makes life itself totally unlivable. There is nothing in this life that man has touched that is 100% accurate. This is like saying that I must throw out everything I know about George Washington, and I have read a lot about him, because someone wrongly wrote that he chopped down a cherry tree.
  • Acceptance? – Eventually the literal and absolutely true belief will be totally disproved even to the current day doubters. What will happen to those who tied their Christianity on that belief? Will they lose their faith? I just pray that when that day comes they will realize that Jesus should have been their total focus all along not a book about him.  What would happen to me if the Bible proved to be totally inerrant as they claim? I would be very surprised but it would not cause me to take my eyes off Jesus as the absolute center of my faith.
About the Bible:
  • At Jesus’ Feet – To be able to read stories from those who actually sat at Jesus’ feet is just so valuable in our walk with Christ. It helps us to understand why he came  to earth and became one of us! He did that to teach us how to live and how to love the God of the New Testament.
  • A Brother’s Narrative – There is one person who wrote part of the biblical text that most likely spent almost his entire life with Jesus and that was his brother (or maybe cousin depending on which theologian you might follow). It saddens me that James did not provide us more info about Jesus’ earlier years. But, then again maybe he did and it was not uncovered during the search or canonic documents. If not,  I guess he chose to concentrate on just what he thought was the most important of his brother’s messages. To hear James say that faith and works are one and the same and that faith without works is a dead faith is good enough for me.
  • About the Founders – To be able to read all the stories in the book of Acts about the first few years of Christianity is very enlightening. It certainly helps us to understand how Christianity got started and how some of its beliefs were formed primarily by the Apostle Pau. But, all of those things that occurred during these early years were not necessarily meant to apply to future Christians. Some are just for lessons learned and taught at the time of the writing and should be understood as such.
  • Early Conflicts – To see how Paul dealt with some many of the problems in the early church is interesting.  But again we cannot assume that all the solutions he proposed apply to all circumstances today. One size does not fit all.
Just give them Jesus:
  • Keep your eyes totally focused on the lessons of Jesus. Everything else is simply a distraction.
  • To tell others about Jesus and how he lived his life.  That is the purpose of the Bible.
  • Tell other about Jesus and how he taught us to live.   That is the purpose of the Bible.
  • Tell others about Jesus and what he commanded us to do.   That is the purpose of the Bible.
  • Use the Bible stories as lessons in these matters and don’t become fixated on the words themselves.  When you do that you may end up treating words as idols and that is definitely not what Jesus intended.

Never take your eyes off Jesus.

Beauty In Nature..

I am a person of logic and order so I greatly appreciate finding crystals in nature.  No, I didn’t find the one on the picture below in nature but it is beautiful all the same.   It was in a large collection at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.

Crystal.jpg

It’s Time For A Divorce Between Red America & Blue America..

crayon-banner  This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about a divorce between Red America and Blue America. This time I will start putting forward my rather warped view of how that might happen.  If you missed yesterday’s post that started this discussion I would recommend that you click the “Home” button at the top of this page and see the post from yesterday directly below this one. Now on to the matter at hand.

Our flag is just too tattered to even recognize it any more. It might be time to go our separate ways but how do we divide up what we currently have? The divide between Red America and Blue America has always been there but it has become a deep abyss in the last almost forty years.  I could start this divorce with in November 2016 but that would not really represent anywhere close to reality. That year was the result of laziness of Blue America to put their voices forward. It allowed Red State America to push forward their extreme candidate.

Now I realize that no State except maybe for Texas (those people are beyond description) is all Red or Blue so there will have to be some migration as a result of this divorce.  You could say we all will be the children of divorce.  Since it doesn’t seem possible to move between our Red and Blue parents we gotta find another way.  For a solution you gotta start somewhere and I propose to do that with the 2012 electoral map.

Looking at the map some things pop up. The northeast and west seem pretty blue so that is probably the core for Blue America. But in order to make a country viable it needs to be connected. To do that means that Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and Arizona will have to give up some land. The question is how much?  Part of the answer is apportioning by population and that is where the next map comes in.  It l

2017-10-01_11-46-58

ooks strange because the map is proportioned by population of each State.

Looking at this population map there just aren’t many people in North Dakota or Montana.  Maybe we could give all those folks who don’t want to be part of Blue America a million bucks each to migrate south and just move those States from Red to Blue? Since the northern part of Indiana is pretty much blue I think we could work out a 30-70 split without a lot of work. I don’t mean to totally ignore the fact that Idaho is in play with a small strip but since no one likely lives in that sliver of Idaho no one would even notice that it switched from red to blue.

2017-10-01_11-51-21Arizona and Utah need to turn blue too so let’s swap those two States for Florida. Population wise the trade would benefit the Red States  so they just might buy into it. Now with all this initial swapping done what would  Red America and Blue America look like? I will hold off on showing you that until the next post in this series early next week.

If you want to chime in on all this silliness put in your two cents now or forever hold your peace. 🙂 I never said that my view of the world was a totally sane one.