An Ounce Of Empathy & Two Ounces Of Brains

I am a dreamer, always have been and always will be.  When times are bad I dream of better times. When times are good I thank the Lord. I have always dreamed that every citizen of our country has at least an ounce of empathy and two ounces of brains.  I have come to doubt that belief, especially since the person in the Oval Office doesn’t even seem to pass the bill.  I guess this particular dream will have to wait a while before it can be realized.

canstockphoto18418248.jpgNow don’t misunderstand me, I don’t expect everyone to be overflowing with empathy, but another way to describe it is “brother’s keeper” and since that is a Christian term coming from the mouth of its founder I would hope that all of us who call ourselves Christians strive to get a little more empathy each day. But sadly then I see so many so-called Evangelicals who seem to be totally ignorant of caring for others and that is almost devastating.

canstockphoto5430637As far as brains are concerned I am talking about intelligence, not particularly the amount of grey matter you have. Where intelligence is concerned I follow another axiom and that is “If you don’t use it you lose it”. Each one of us should strive to become just a little more intelligent today than we were yesterday. But then I see so many of us who seemed to be ignorant on just how flawed the person is who they voted for president it dashes my dream in this area also.  With a minimal amount of study it was obvious to me just how deficient the one who they voted for was from the get go. How could so many be confused about what was totally obvious to the rest of us?

As a final thought, maybe even those born in the country need to pass a test to be citizens. As Thomas Jefferson said a democracy cannot succeed without an informed electorate.  I don’t enjoy saying “I TOLD YOU SO” after only 1/8 of his time in office but I told you so.

 

 

Elwood Indiana Glass Festival

OnTheRoad.png This past weekend I traveled to Elwood Indiana for a visit to the Elwood Glass Festival. While there were some bright points to the trip it was generally disappointing in that the “Glass” part of the festival has been for the most part forgotten.  In 1886 the Ball brothers were looking to build a factory for their Mason Jars and they chose Indiana. Most of you rural folks like me who can some of their garden produce use Mason jars which were originally produced in or near Elwood/Muncie. The Ball Corporation was a big deal to Elwood and the surrounding area for until the 1990s when it moved it headquarters to Colorado and sold off what little remained of its glass canning business. Here is a little about its hay days from Wikipedia:

Despite the economic panic of 1893, the company was able to produce 22 million fruit jars for the year beginning in September 1894, and 37 million jars by 1897. …

The company’s F. C. Ball machine, patented in 1898, introduced mass production into its glass-blowing process and gave it a competitive market advantage. By 1905 the company was producing 60 million canning jars per year and had acquired other glass manufacturers, expanding its operations to include seven factories in addition to its main facilities at Muncie

Now back to my recent visit. The only glass related events at the festival were a couple of small glass blowing shops that were open for viewing. I did buy a couple of glass paperweights from them. There is little left of any evidence of its Ball history.  The festival itself was pretty typical of most around today. It was made up of vendors mostly selling trinkets and such. Of course it did have a midway and the usual food vendors but nothing really to do with glass.

In some ways Elwood continues to be associated with canning in that the Red Gold Tomatoes are produced there. That is a privately owned family business that was started in 1913 which was during the Ball Corporation apex. I may be prejudice but I think their tomatoes are the best around.

2017-08-20_16-34-04.png

It ended up that my highlight of the weekend was the Vintage Rollers Car Club’s annual event.  Here are some pictures of that gathering. Being a “car guy” it was a natural for me.

Click on any picture to see a larger slideshow

 

The Teachings of Jesus Are Very Hard To Follow..

2017-08-03_08-43-22Almost ten years ago I started my first blog called RedLetterLiving. It was about living by the words of Jesus. I was concerned that even though Christianity was founded on the idea that Jesus was the Christ few current Christian denominations seemed to put much weight on his actual words.  Little did I know that this study would go on for six years before I had fully answered my initial questions to at least my own satisfaction.

I’m not sure when the organization Red Letter Christians was started but I think it was about that same timeframe. Two much more famous Christians than me whose names are Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo opened their website RedLetterChristians.  It, unlike my site has grown tremendously since that time. I celebrate their success.

Below are some words from that cite relating to our current condition of Christianity in America.

A candidate for president of the United States initiated his candidacy on a racist conspiracy theory designed to undermine the legitimacy of America’s first black president. He announced his presidential bid with a naked appeal to anti-Mexican xenophobia and promises of a wall along America’s southern border to keep them out. He fed the basest instincts of his base by threatening to imprison his opponent by dog-whistling white supremacy and by demonizing journalists in ways reminiscent of Hitler’s attack on the “Lugenpresse.” Donald Trump assumed office as he pursued it, with attacks on the weak and marginal…

We suspect that there’s a deeper motivation that seeks to deemphasize the words of Jesus. His call to discipleship demands activism on behalf of the weak, a life-ethic of action beyond mere intellectual assent to theological propositions. Many of our fellow Christians have failed to pay proper attention to the red letters of the Bible because the teachings of Jesus have proven to be very hard to follow...

Theologies that require mental assent but leave our ethics and our politics untouched have left Evangelicalism serving as the court religion for the Republican Party. Theologies heavy on Paul but detached from their roots in Jesus and the Hebrew scriptures have inoculated discipleship from the radical lifestyle prescribed by Jesus in those red letters.

Source: Red Letter Christians v. Donald Trump’s Evangelicals – Red Letter Christians 

I find it immensely refreshing that the folks at Red Letter Christians have the guts to call out other Christians on their tepid attention to the words of Jesus.  Many of the issue that the current Evangelicals support are at least to me, very antithetical when compared to the red letters.

  • The Red Letters tell us to be our brother’s keeper, while Evangelicals support wrenching the safety net out from under the poorest of the poor.
  • The Red Letters tell us to give the shirt off our backs to those in need while Evangelicals cling to their possessions (among them their tax dollars) in the stingiest of ways.
  • The Red Letters tell us to love our enemies when that seems to be the furthest thing on the mind of Evangelicals.

How could they have possibly drifted so far astray from the words of Jesus???

I totally agree with the quote above that too much Christian, especially Protestant, theology is weighted prominently towards the words of Paul almost to the exclusion of the red letters. I agree that sticking to the red letters is probably too hard for them to do. But that is just what Jesus, the founder of Christianity, told us to do. Why are so many ignoring that basic command and seem to be inventing their own rules for calling themselves Christians?

Staying Too Long..

2011 12239.JPGI don’t know how many readers ever look at the quotes I rotate through the header of RJsCorner. I try to change them weekly but sometimes that task falls in the proverbial crack.  In the current header is a quote from Thomas Jefferson about staying too long that seems especially relative to the folks in Washington DC.

Too many in our national congress have overstayed their time there, especially in the leadership roles. I truly believe that the GOP leader in the senate is one of the basic problems with that institution’s gridlock. What will it take short of death to cause a shift in leadership?

Yes, I do believe that wisdom comes with age but there needs to be a time when even the wise turn it over to someone more youthful. Someone who agewise more closely represents their electorate.  After spending decades in congress it is inevitable that scars are formed from the battles that take place in those houses.  I think most who initially go there have noble but probably naive purposes. They want to do right and make things better for their constituents.

Speaking of Mr. McConnell in particular he seems to be the most scarred. He has spent so much time in the last seven years trying his best, or maybe I should say worst, trying to defeat anything the first black president might have accomplished. The epitome of that was to destroy the American Care Act. I’m sure this last defeat in that area will not be the final time he tries to take away healthcare to millions of us primarily due to his spite for the previous Oval Office Holder and the party he belonged to.

I’m sure the GOP thinks the same thing about Mrs. Pelosi as I do about Mr. McConnell. She has stayed too long and has too many scars herself.  To a degree I agree with them. I’m not saying that “fresh blood” is the total answer to gridlock. Ted Cruz and those like him are as toxic as anyone there.

I guess it takes a big ego to even think about being in politics today. Of course that is especially true of the current person sitting in the Oval Office.

Your World Is Just So Small

I am still pondering why people are so different in this world today. Why are there those who celebrate that they just don’t care much for other’s circumstance and places in the world. They are almost exclusively in a world centered around themselves. Everything else is just “Not my thing”. This especially troubles me with I then hear them say that they are also “real” Christians?

I think I have latched onto one of the reasons for this and that is that their world is just too small. Psychology has shown that very young children are by nature pretty selfish. All that they can preceive is their small world around them. It will take nurture and exposure to other things to move them away from this mindset. Some people just never accomplish that feat. Their world remains small and they maintain their childish selfishness throughout their lives.

canstockphoto34452912.jpgHow do we broaden our horizons? That question seems to be plaguing me lately. How do you make people come out beyond themselves? I have termed this condition as “Meitus”, that is people who have their heads stuck up the own rear ends so far that they can only see themselves. I know it is impossible for me to come up with a solution to this problem but because I am a fixer by nature I have to think about this kind of stuff.

Of course there are people like our current president who have character flaws due to one thing or another that keeps them centered totally on themselves. They don’t see any reason to move beyond that state by studying alternatives.  Then there are people who are for one reason or another just too mentally lazy to see outside themselves.  Most of the white supremacists are likely in this group. Their lives are dominated in fear of almost everything they don’t understand and due to a lazy lack of curiosity that is a lot of topics.  They say things like “science is fake truths because I don’t understand it”.  Some cling to something or someone to be their “truth”. For some it is a contrived collection of words from a bible, for others it is a person who tells them things no matter how untrue that they want to hear.

How do we make sure that people get out into the world in order to understand they are not the center of it?

 

 

Owning What You Say..

We all recognize that like most other things the Internet is shades of grey.  There are things on the Internet that are now so essential we wonder how we ever got along in the world without them.  Being just a few clicks away from possible answers to anything we might ask is almost unbelieveable to this guy who spent hours in library card catalogues to research compositions for various college classes.

But then of course there is the downside. Pornography is part of that but I really believe that anonymity is just as damaging in some ways. I know there are rare  times when being anonymous is necessary but for the most part I strong believe we should all “own” what we say. If we have an opinion or thought about something it needs to have our name and reputation attached to it.

This thought came to the forefront during a recent post of a blogger I have been following for a year or so.  He made the comment that his identity on his blog is a pure fabrication as he doesn’t want people to know who he really is.  I guess from his words that the people he generally associates with have a negative view of blogging?

canstockphoto6971843.jpgMy fellow blogger as cited above is not by any means the worst example of Internet anonymity. All you have to do is go to any news source or just about anyplace where someone says anything and view the comments to see anonymity at its worst. People plainly feel they can verbally abuse others anonymously. Some like our current president do it even with their name attached.  They say civility is quickly being lost in our times. Too many people just seem to have no respect for others or any opposing views. To many people have seemingly lost the ability to empathize with others. Maybe that is true to an extent but I really don’t believe it is a long term thing. I believe that the core of citizens, perhaps even the majority, that still cling to treating others as you want them to treat you. We just have to wait for the time when they take our country back.

 

 

“What He Really Meant…”

After more than a year of this stuff I am utterly tired of the statement in the title of this post! I am tired of people around the president trying to calm the effects of the latest bomb Mr. Trump seems to launch almost daily.

2017-08-14_08-41-18.pngYes, I recognize that without the white supremacists vote he would likely not be president. I recognize that it is an important part of his base that he doesn’t want to offend since there is a slight chance that he may need them again. But even with his massive ego he needs to realize that his base made up of a WILDLY hodgepodge groups of voters has no chance of staying intact for another go around.

I’m sure the Evangelicals, who are likely the major source of his base, utterly refuse to believe that they are cohorts with neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacists. Or maybe I just pray that they don’t openly endorse an alliance with other folks who helped put their choice in office.

I see the Sunday talk shows were full of White House folks who were trying to explain what Mr. Trump really meant. That veil is wearing extremely thin especially since he never acknowledges their efforts as being truthful. Why can’t he come out and say that those who live in hatred every minute of their lives are NOT worthy of any endorsement? Why is he so afraid of losing their support?

The only encouraging thing that came out of this behavior is that the senators and congressmen in his own party are  finally growing a backbone and beginning to call him out on all the outrages he spews in 140 characters or less. The only hope for us short of imminent impeachment is that the GOP finally holds him accountable for his words and actions.

“What he really meant” just doesn’t hack it anymore if it ever did…

God’s Still On Holiday..

This is insane, and mainly because God patently hasn’t taken care of any of these things. Humans do these things and humans do stuff to mitigate or eradicate them. God’s still on holiday, where he has been for a few thousand years.

Source: Lazy and Incoherent Theology: God Will Take Care of It

I know that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are evangelical Christians who believe that everything that happens, and especially his election, is God’s will.  When things happen that they don’t like or can’t reconcile with their beliefs then they fall back on  “God works in mysterious ways.” I also know that since the enlightened age there has been no documented evidence that God has intervened in the world in any supernatural way as he supposedly did regularly in the pre-Christian era.

Has God taken a holiday for the last few millennia as the author of the quote above suggests or is it possible most of the miracles and such recorded in ancient text really just myth passed down from one generation to another? I know I will be called a heretic just for thinking about this possibility but that is not the purpose of coming out with this statement. I do believe in a supreme force holding the universe together but I don’t believe it is anything resembling Homo sapiens. It is not a white haired old man in the clouds.  If I had to tag it as anything it would probably be more like the “Force” in Star Wars. It is a presence that started it all and maybe monitors it even now.

Now, getting to the point of this post and that is that we humans need to take responsibility for our actions both personal and corporate. We can’t put it off on God as if we had nothing to do with it. If we cause a problem we need to fix it. Global warming seems to the the biggest topic presently at hand in this category.  It is utter foolishness to sit back and wait for God to fix it for us.

We must be accountable for the problems we bring upon this world. I think that is what God wants us to do…

Taking Things Away…

The underlying theme of this post is about how the Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to take away things from people.   David Brooks who is a conservative reporter for the New York Times and a Friday night regular on the PBS Newshour had these words to say about that;

canstockphoto26664860.jpgThink of all the ways the Republicans have tried to trim entitlements like Medicaid or cut government. Name a signal victory. There’s not a victory. They haven’t been able to trim one agency, cut back one entitlement. They failed every single time.

And that suggests it isn’t an electoral failure. It’s not a failure of whether Mitch McConnell had the right strategy or not, though that was lamentable. It’s a failure of trying to take things away from people.

People are under assault from technology. They’re under assault from a breakdown in social fabric, breakdown in families. They have got wage stagnations. They just don’t want a party to come in and say, we’re going to take more away from you.

And so Republicans have to wrap their minds around the fact that the American people basically decided that healthcare is a right, and they figure, we should get healthcare. And our fellow countrymen should get health care.

I have come to think that “taking things away” is the most significant root cause of our society’s utter discontent. People who heard the stories of their parents/grandparents getting out of high school and immediately getting a pretty well paying job that would last for a lifetime are in shell shock. So much has happened in the last three decades to take things away from them. I think they just might be reaching for the last straw in that regard.  They are holding on by a thread.

Donald Trump was part of that “last straw” effort and of course it is becoming abundently clear that he is by no means any type of answer to this problem. I find it confusing that the GOP continues to rail against the almost 100 year old Social Security and 50 year old Medicare as if it were even possible to eliminate those things without losing their hugely cherished office. When will they ever start caring for the whole of the population instead of the privileged few? But even more amazingly, when will common folks finally see through the thin GOP veneer to understand that fact about them?  When that finally happens I’m sure there will be another party waiting in the background to quickly take their place.

I just pray that come 2020 at least one person will jump into the foreground who is up to the gigantic task of repairing all of  current office holder’s damage.  Right now that person, at least to me, is Elizabeth Warren. I think it would be fitting that she, as a Teddy Roosevelt type crusader, is the first woman president. I just never had much confidence in Hillary…