Evangelical Christians Fear Knowledge

I am beginning to think that the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss” is a very appropriate condition in trying to keep informed in the political world today.  There is just so much phoniness and lies floating around that world now as to make it uninhabitable.

2018-01-18_10-53-01.pngBut in most areas of life knowing more about a topic results in better-informed decisions and lifestyles. Being proudly ignorant is well… ignorant! Let’s clear something up here before you jump to any unnecessary conclusions. Ignorance and stupidity are two very different things.  Stupidity is a life-long condition whereas as ignorance can be eliminated with some informed study. Being afraid of knowing too much is a scary thing to me. But that seems to be the preferred state for too many who call themselves Evangelicals.  Here is a quote about that:

“People are scared that if they come to know too much, they’ll be like the Pharisees and will just become haughty and judgmental to others, thus weakening their love for God; or they’re afraid that they’ll learn too much and go off the deep end of liberalism and swim in the risky waters of universalism and other heresies.”…

Renoe goes on to say that nowadays anyone can start a church, and “as long as it’s engaging and entertaining enough, people will show up. Nevermind if it’s true or not.” He refers to Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and remarks that Osteen “doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree, much less a seminary degree and look where that leads…”

Source:  Evangelical Christians Fear Knowledge, Are Dumbing Down Their Faith, Christian Author Claims

I too am very put off by Joel Osteen’s version of Christianity. He seems to have perverted the messages of Jesus to something that is quite the opposite.  Yet, every week he gets thousands of Texan Evangelicals to sit in his lavish palace and give him their money?  But I am getting off track here.

2018-01-18_10-52-47.pngKnowing too much is not a condition we should be concerned about. God gave us free will, he also gave us a brain to learn the best way to do his will.  To ignorantly follow someone because they spout a few bible verses here or there is not what God intended us to use up space in our brains.  Instead, it was to find ways to take care of each other as he commanded.  As far as I am concerned ignorance spurns ignorance but that doesn’t have to be a lasting condition…

Cleveland Treasures

For this Artsy Saturday, I wanted to give you some pictures that I see as the quintessential Cleveland.  I am not a sports nut by any stretch of the imagination so their well-known teams just aren’t “Cleveland” to me.  The Cleveland Clinic is a crown jewel for the city but I will talk about that in a future post.

When I visited the city a few years ago I discovered that it has a much more diverse population then I imagine. Part of that is ethnic neighborhoods. The restaurant sign below is in the Italian district.

The city center includes the Terminal Tower constructed in 1926. These fantastic windows are located there.

Some cities “modernize” and throw away these types of things. Cleveland rightfully celebrates them.

ClevelandCleveland-2

Facades

There is just something about small-town facades that fascinates me. It is probably because of the symmetry and patterns.  I am currently working on a photo collection that will soon be available in the “Photo Collections” pages in the header above.  This one was taken recently in Rockville Indiana.

One thing unusual about this photo is that none of the windows above the store are boarded or bricked up. I imagine all of them are occupied as apartments.  Rockville is in the middle of “covered bridge country” and has a huge fall festival around them.

Rockville IN.jpg

Future GOP Celebrations of the Trump Presidency??

2018-01-28_10-29-33.pngWill a day come in the future that the GOP will actually celebrate the years of the Trump presidency? That seems to be an extremely unlikely scenario but I can see how it could happen.  The reason I say that is because the Democrats celebrate what they call one of their party’s best presidents when I think he was anything but that.  To me, this person was a racist, egotistical, loudmouth do-nothing who was driven primarily by ego. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

I suspect my more nuanced readers know I am talking about Andy Jackson. In local politics around the country, there are annual events called “Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinners” to celebrate their roots. They proudly get together to celebrate their heroes! Yes, Thomas Jefferson who is one of my primary heroes was a great man and a serious thinker but Jackson was anything but that. Here are some snippets about him from my friends at Wikipedia:

  • His presidency marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the “spoils system” in American politics.
  • Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, [Trail of Tears] which relocated most members of the Native American tribes in the South to Indian Territory. The relocation process dispossessed the Indians and resulted in widespread death and sickness.
  • Congress, led by Clay, tried to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States; Jackson regarded the Bank as a corrupt institution and vetoed the renewal of its charter. After a lengthy struggle, Jackson and his allies thoroughly dismantled the Bank [and as a result] reckless speculation in land and railroads eventually caused the Panic of 1837.
  • 2018-01-28_10-22-19.pngJackson’s quick temper was notorious. ..  his opponents were terrified of his temper: “Observers likened him to a volcano, and only the most intrepid or recklessly curious cared to see it erupt. …His close associates all had stories of his blood-curdling oaths, his summoning of the Almighty to loose His wrath upon some miscreant, typically followed by his own vow to hang the villain or blow him to perdition. Given his record—in duels, brawls, mutiny trials, and summary hearings—listeners had to take his vows seriously.
  • His unrepentant ownership of slaves marked him as one to be censured rather than praised.” Further, “By the turn of the present [21st] century, it was scarcely an exaggeration to say that the one thing American schoolchildren learned about Jackson was that he was the author of the Trail of Tears.”

2018-01-28_10-24-59.pngGiven my 500 word limit on posts, I can only give you a short look at the person, but even this is enough to show that Jackson was a man with a huge ego and a short temper who really had zero respect for others different from him.

In my opinion, he did more to damage the country than almost any president.  Kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it? My Native-American roots will be celebrating when he is finally removed from the $20 bill and replaced by anyone else.  But I think it would be serendipitously fitting for a Native-American to take his place.

Other People’s Dreams..

This is going to be one of those philosophical posts so hang on to your hat.  I have always been a dreamer. For the most part I didn’t imagine that my lofty dreams would ever come true and for the most part, they didn’t. 🙂

2018-01-23_19-59-02.pngWhen I was young my dreams were often a result of the many fictional books I read. My favorite authors during those years were John Steinbeck and Jack London. These two guys took me to places I never knew existed and to people very different from me. When I got a little older I started dreaming about what I might become when I grew up. My first infatuation was with astronomy. I read everything understandable for a young teenager about the topic.  A friend of mine gave me his old copies of “Scientific American” and I devoured them. I also read autobiographies of people like Einstein, Jefferson, and Edison. They inspired me but I never dreamed that I could be like them. My self-esteem was just to low for those lofty goals.

The point I want to make with this post is that when we are young and have limited experiences we usually dream other people’s dreams. As we get older we try to make up dreams of our own. It is at that point that too many of us fail ourselves. We sometimes dream too small.  Unfortunately, that tragic beginning is also often the end for too many of us.

Too few of us think of ourselves as being the person who finally discovers the root cause of cancer. Too few of us dream of solving the potentially tragic results of global warming.  And maybe as a country, it is tragic that too few of us dream of becoming representative of the people.  Those jobs are now to be avoided or left to those power seekers among us.

Dreaming too small, or tragically not dreaming at all is often the fault of parents who don’t challenge their kids to greatness. Sometimes just the right teacher comes along to take replace the parent’s responsibility but too often they are not there.

A Forgotten Icon

I think just about anyone over 50 will recognize the picture below as being the front end of a 1950s Studebaker.  Jet planes had just been invented and Studebaker wanted to mimic one with their car. It might not have been an icon in its day but is becoming one now.

Studebaker.jpg

A Principled GOP Senator… And a Corrupt System

Sadly, it seems the only way a politician can show his principles and criticize their own party is when they are heading out the door. That certainly is the case with Senator Flake of Arizona. As long as you are dependent on the current corrupt system to get elected you have to keep your mouth shut and just take the money.

2018-01-23_19-41-38.png“No longer can we turn a blind eye or deaf ear to those assaults on our institutions and, Mr. President, an American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame, is charting a very dangerous path,” Mr. Flake said.

“And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to that danger.”

via Arizona’s G.O.P. Senators Assail Trump for His Attacks on the Press – The New York Times

I don’t know how we get out of this condition? The two parties around today seem to totally hate each other and are willing to cut off their nose rather than admit that their enemies have something good to provide.

I think it is time before it is too late to think about some constitutional changes. Our current constitution might have worked well for an 18th and 19th century America but there are just too many ways to subvert it in the 21st century.  Gerrymandering, which thanks to sophisticated computer systems is now an art form that almost assures a corrupt system.

Another item that needs to be seriously addressed is the power given to one person in the executive branch.  If the current Oval Office occupant somehow manages to survive his total term in office, America might just look like something very different. He came into office thinking, due to his almost total ignorance of governmental processes, that he was a king instead of a president of a democracy.  The sad part of this story it that he refuses to try to learn what this country is all about.  He seems determined to make changes that will eliminate any evidence of his predecessor and will primarily benefit himself and some others like him. I know executive power drifts with the times but current fundamental powers are simply too concentrated.

Maybe it is time to really shake things up. Maybe it is time to create a new political party to attack the corruption of the two currently in existence. One, or maybe both of the current political parties needs to go the way of the Federalist Party, Whig Party, Know-Nothing Party, and several others that have come and gone from the American landscape.

But in the end, none of the ideas above can really result in real reform without a fundamental change in the electorate. We who elect these officials need to become more informed of what it takes to maintain a democracy in the 21st century.  I don’t even know if “government” is taught in high school anymore? We need to select our government leaders with at least the same enthusiasm as selecting our favorite sports team.

 

 

I Am Always Trying To Figure Out The New Evangelicals…

One of the things that totally baffles me is how people who now say they are Evangelicals but vote in almost direct opposition to those established beliefs.  I hate to use the words but due to their hero the only words that come to mind is that they are “FAKE EVANGELICALS”!!

It’s a good time to try to sort out how Protestants who voted for Moore and Donald Trump may differ from, well, lots of the rest of us Protestants.

Analysts say about 80 percent of voters who identify as white Christian evangelicals and participated in Alabama’s special election voted for Moore. That’s roughly the same percentage of white evangelicals who supported Trump in 2016….

What baffled non-evangelicals in the 2016 election and the recent Alabama election was how evangelicals could support people whose values and actions made a mockery of evangelical ideals. Trump: a self-confessed sexual predator, a man of multiple marriages and mistresses, a businessman deeply engaged in casinos, a man of xenophobic tendencies. Moore: a credibly accused molester of teenage girls, a man known to express racist views, a flouter of the law who had to be removed as chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court.

How to explain all that?

via Evangelicals, non-evangelicals are divided by common religion | National Catholic Reporter

To me, this is kind of like the KKK who claims to be a Christian organization but don’t  show it in any way, shape, or form.  I know I am not supposed to judge what is in the heart of fellow Christians but I just can’t seem to see any other explanation.  I wish some of these folks would explain themselves in a public discourse so that we could begin to understand the logic in their beliefs if indeed there is any.

Without that testimony, I kind of think they are either lazy Christians who never bothered to learn about the teachings of their founder or they are putting on a mask to validate their very narrow view of the world.  I don’t want to judge them but without their input that is about all I can do.

But one thing I do know for certain is that they are killing religion with their actions.

Lady of the Palms

I took this picture a few months ago while visiting a conservatory in Rockford Illinois. She and a few of her friends were peeking out of the palms during my visit.  She was a little shy and somewhat of a recluse but we got along just fine…

Lady Of The Palms.jpg

A Free Ride vs. Earning Your Way

This post has been sitting in my “draft” box for quite some time because I just don’t seem to see it as complete. I don’t want to insult people who think differently on this subject but I want to get my point across as to the potential harm being privileged might cause. Complete or not its time has come to move it to a daily post.

I want to admit upfront that I am prejudiced on this topic. When I find that a person has pretty much had a free ride in life I become very skeptical about their successes and accomplishments. Maybe this is due to my having to earn my own way for so much of my life. Maybe it is jealousy, who knows. I am one to believe that adversity builds character and when it is absent privilege dominates a person’s attitude.

canstockphoto24086664When I was ready to go to college I applied for hardship scholarships but found out that since my mother who abandoned me when I was ten went on to marry a pretty rich guy I did not qualify for them. My mother had no inclination to help me with college as she didn’t see anything in that for her.  I did manage to borrow $200 from her once because I was panicked that my tuition payment was late. When I finally earned enough to pay her back the check I sent was quickly cashed. I understand now why that happened. Narcissism is totally about self, there is just no room for others in a narcissist’s mind.

Getting back to the topic at hand, some people probably think I mean when I say “free rides” are people like the current Oval Office occupant who was given a “mere $4 million” (equivalent to $40 million now) to start his way in the world. Yes, he and people like him are absolutely included in this list but I go beyond that to other categories.

Many parents think they are giving their children a headstart in the world by providing for all their needs. But that often leads to a lack of empathy for others.  Having to earn your own way breeds humility and empathy for those who are worse off than we are. Privilege too often breeds contempt which often manifests itself in looking down on others.  The irony is that the privileged are more likely to demand that if people cannot pull themselves up by their bootstraps then it is their own fault.

I just hope that all those parents out there who are giving their kids a free ride in life are also giving them strong lessons in empathy for others who don’t have the advantages that have been given to them.

On another topic in this area, I am very much in favor of the inheritance tax or “death tax” as my opponents like to call it.  Prior to income taxes that was one of the primary ways to fund the government. In my humble opinion, inherited money probably ruins more lives than it helps and the recently passed tax legislation will only make this problem worse. Inherited wealth should at least be counted as income to the recipient and taxed at that rate.

In Search Of The Original America

One of the primary threads here at RJsCorner is my InSearchOfAmerica posts. That is where I travel around this great country to find stories and take pictures.  The majority of this search has been about our early days as a nation. I recently realized that I am omitting a large part of this search for America’s roots.  It actually occurred centuries before the European conquest of America. If I want to discover the real America I have to begin there.

When we read our history books we can easily come to the conclusion that when Christopher Columbus came to America’s shore it was a desolate place just waiting to be conquered. Since history is written by the victors that view was what was taught.  But in reality, there were already millions of people calling this land home. Here are some words to realize that history:

Most scholars writing at the end of the 19th century estimated that the pre-Columbian population was as low as 10 million; by the end of the 20th century most scholars gravitated to a middle estimate of around 50 million, with some historians arguing for an estimate of 100 million or more

Source: Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas – Wikipedia

History books give us a several different view on this fact.  The prominent recorded view was that native-Americans were not really human because they did not pray to the right god.  Others basically said the “indigenous” people, were not real people but savages.  We are now finally beginning to understand the utter fallacy of those words.

2018-01-17_10-36-40.pngGetting back to the topic at hand, we know that there were, as shown in the picture above, thriving population centers throughout what we now call America. Many had very sophisticated forms of government and rules for society. And yes, many had deities quite similar to the one Europeans brought with them. What they didn’t have were the weapons to withstand the onslaught that followed.

Since I am about one-eighth Shawnee I am embarrassed that it took until now to recognize these facts.  In reality, America was not discovered in the 15th century but instead invaded.

I need to do some future posts about this. Shame on me for not doing them sooner.

Celebrating the Shuttles

On July 20, 1969, when I was working the midnight to noon shift at a local gas station to earn money for my last year in college. The owner had brought in a small black and white TV so I could watch a historic event.  That was when a man put his first step on the moon.  From that day forward I was hooked on space.  It is hard to believe that the computer I am now typing on has more power than all the computers on that spacecraft.

The space shuttles were an important part of the NASA program so I want to celebrate them with this post.  These pictures were taken in 2012 during our last venture into Washington DC.

 

As usual click on any pic here to see a larger slideshow view

We The People…

Political allegiance is proving to be the scourge of our times.  Too many people, including our elected representatives, have placed their allegiance to their party above everything else.  That is a dangerous place for a democracy to be.

At the very least, don’t the members of the House and Senate, who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, have an obligation to rebuke this president for his attacks on the press and free speech, both protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution?

source:  ‘Like, Really Smart’ – The New York Times

A year ago I would never have imagined that the Republican party would end up almost totally aligned with the narcissist occupying the Oval Office.  But then again, maybe they see the writing on the wall that shows them this may be their last chance to get their political agenda passed into law. The trouble with that is that surely they also see how easy it is for a future president to pretty much undo everything they might accomplish with this megalomaniac.  Do they really put him above the constitution that he so often maligns?

I see the next thing on the GOP agenda for this year is to take care of all those nasty “entitlements”. These are things like Social Security and Medicare for the aged and Medicaid and Food Stamps for the poor.  They say those programs must be cut in order to give more to the corporate elite who might then pass it on to the worker, not those who don’t hold jobs.  I don’t know how far they plan on taking the scheme but I doubt even they are stupid enough to think that if they take serious money from seniors they are cutting into a big part of their base.

Party over Politics and principles is probably the most misguided trend of our times.  “We the People” which are the first words of our Constitution is the bedrock of our democracy. When they disregard those words in favor of allegiance to party they are playing with the devil’s fire. Surely they know that? But, given what they have done to date, maybe not…

The Kingdom Of God… And Leo Tolstoy

I seem to be getting a bit of flack lately about my spiritual beliefs that run counter to most of the churches today. To help understand where I come from I am bringing back some quotes from Leo Tolstoy I used in 2012. They pretty much tell my story:

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 

2018-01-17_14-58-50.pngBut Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ’s words or in the ideas of the men of that time. The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Thomas Jefferson like Tolstoy created his own bible based almost totally on the words of Jesus. He also believed that Jesus came to earth with a clear message for us but after he left, men add a bunch of rules to make everything complicated. Both men attribute much of that to the Apostle Paul.  After diligently studying both men I have become aligned with them.  The Sermon on the Mount should be the primary thing that guides a Christian’s life, not a bunch of manmade rules.

Since God gave man free will, it is up to each of us to come to a personal understanding of him and for the things he wants us to accomplish while on this earth.