Banner ISOA   I ran across a rather startling picture at the Andrew Johnson Historic site in northern Tennessee this year.  Before I talk about that, I was thoroughly amazed at how Johnson’s hometown managed to spin the story of him to make him appear to be a heroic figure which is very contrary to most public opinion.

I guess I have not come across too many photos showing how intrinsic slavery was to the southern States.   This picture, according to the legend below it, was taken in Atlanta in 1864 just after the Emancipation Proclamation.  The “Auction & Negro Sales” store was in the same row with all the storefronts.  Sadly selling human beings was just the way it was in those days.

Slavery Auction - Atlanta.jpg

If you want to see more details click on the picture for a larger view.

About Martin Luther..

There is yet another 480-page book about Martin Luther just released. As the article from the quote below states, he is the most written about a person in the Christian realm with the exception of Jesus.  For the most part, Luther is presented as a savior of 16th century Christianity. This book, from what I can tell from the reviews, follows that guideline with a few exceptions. As usual, I have come to see it from a different view.

Those who oppose him are always ill-willed, unreasonable, “oddly stubborn” or burdened by “painfully cloudy theology.” Moreover, according to Metaxas [the book author], the dissolution of Christendom into different competing churches could have been “eminently avoidable” if everyone had been good-hearted and smart enough to agree with Luther. Little is said about Luther’s noxious tirades against Jews, save to dismiss them as “one of the most bizarre episodes of Luther’s life,”

Source: Slaying the Dragon of the Dark Ages – The New York Times

I will again admit here that I was a lazy Luthern for 25 years and got a full dose of Luther’s history, at least as Lutheran chose to proclaim it. For the most part, very little was mentioned about his tirades and viciousness for others who disagreed with him.  I had to learn about that from personal studies.

I take a pretty different view of the results of Luther’s actions than many I suppose. As I see it now, he is primarily responsible for the fracture of Christianity into it 35,000+ parts it is today.  He was simply a very insecure Catholic monk who had little self-esteem, so when he discovered that one sentence from Paul about faith and works he latched onto it as being the core of the Christian message. Fast forward five hundred years and the same logic has been used thousands of times to totally fracture the Christian brand.  I know Luther didn’t start out wanting to fracture the church but that is what resulted like it or not.

Luther’s tirades and short temper along with a stubborn and arrogant Pope caused a split that never healed. I, as a former Catholic, sat through many Lutheran Bible study classes where the participants were dissing Catholics in almost all areas. And now we have the Evangelicals who seem to be intent on a complete fracture of Jesus’ church! They are turning it into a political organization with hate for most who are different from them.

So, I am just not one to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther. After years of study, I have finally come to realize that he was more the cause of the coming destruction than he was a cure.  I know these are radical words to many Protestants and particularly Evangelicals but when has that kept me from saying what’s on my mind.


Rekindled By A Spark

CandleAt times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.   —  Albert Schweitzer

I must admit that in some ways I am not a very creative person. I have often times in my life needed a spark from another person to get me headed down a path.  So, I certainly appreciated the quote above from Albert Schweitzer.  I have deep gratitude for those who have lighted the flame within me.

I am a passionate person who often wears his emotions on his sleeve. I have causes that I now firmly believe in. Most of those causes were not originally part of my being but instead were planted there by words from someone wiser than myself. In that light, I thank the Lord for exposing me to all the virtual mentors I have had in my life.
One of my biggest life regrets is that I lived a big part of it without much purpose. I, like many others I imagine, just lived from day-to-day without many goals or life directions. I also spent too much of my life not realizing the gifts God had given me. I wonder what I could have achieved if I had come to those two realizations earlier?

One of my most fervent prayers is for the teachers in this world. I pray that they will do everything necessary to kindle a spark in their students to get them started down the path of life with a purpose. I know in today’s world of teaching that task is deemed secondary at most but it seems primary to me.

Facebook reminded me of this post I wrote here on RJsCorner five years ago today. I am reviving it as the thoughts still move me…

Neon Lights…

There is just something about neon lights that still attracts us after so many years.  I found this one at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend Indiana recently.

 Neon Lights 2.jpg

Click on the photo to see a larger version

Another 10 Lies From a Trump Interview

To me, the most disgraceful thing about the current Oval Office occupant is his constant lying and exaggerations.  I’m not sure how much of it is just plain ignorance, but even ignorance is no excuse. From the quote below he managed to rattle off ten lies in less than 10 minutes. Maybe that is a record but I kind of doubt it. I wonder what the total lie count is for the year just ended? Probably in the thousands..

2017-12-31_11-42-47.pngPresident Trump, in an impromptu interview on Thursday with The New York Times, rattled off at least 10 false or misleading claims about …

  • He inaccurately said the claims against Paul Manafort occurred “many years ago before I ever heard of him.”
  • He misrepresented what a senator has said about the Russia investigation.
  • He falsely claimed the Democrats “made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election.”
  • He claimed to have “saved coal,” contrary to trends reported by the government.
  • He overstated his influence on the special Senate election in Alabama.
  • He gave a premature estimate of the cost of the wars in the Middle East.
  • He falsely claimed to have “essentially gutted and ended Obamacare.”
  • With no evidence, he accused other countries of sending their “worst people” through the diversity visa lottery.
  • He exaggerated the trade deficit with other countries
  • He exaggerated the number of followers he has on social media

Source:10 Falsehoods From Trump’s Interview With The Times – The New York Times

Maybe I should forgive him for this horrible trait? He has lived a totally privileged life that has been centered exclusively around himself. I think his father was much like him so maybe it is inherited?

But one thing I am certain of is that the blame for him occupying that cherished real estate is the ignorance of the voters who put him there and the laziness of the ones who didn’t bother to vote at all. I hear leaks from his once buddy Steve Bannon that while he was campaigning he didn’t want, nor expect to be elected and was shocked as much as anyone else at the voter ignorance that put him there.

I find it somewhat relieving that we managed the first year of him and am hoping that this year will be his last and in 2020 we will have learned our lessons never to allow this to happen again.

Wild Turkey

2018-01-02_11-10-08.pngWe have a lot of wild turkeys running around our area but that is not what this post is going to be about.  Instead, it is about a Kentucky Bourbon manufacturer that I visited a few years ago while staying in downtown Louisville for a long weekend.  Wild Turkey brand bourbon is famous for being one of the strongest whiskeys around. Most are 80 proof while Wild Turkey is  101 proof!

I must admit that I am a bourbon drinker. I don’t partake of it very often but a Manhattan is my favorite cocktail. In my youth, it was an Old Fashioned but as I got older I graduated to the stronger stuff.  I’m pretty sure a large part of my genealogy is British/Scottish but I just can’t stand their version of whiskey.  I’d rather drink a bottle of Listerine than a bottle of Scotch. But I am getting a little off track here so back to the story at hand.

The Wild Turkey distillery is located in a pretty rural area of Kentucky. If it weren’t for GPS I probably would never have found the place. Once we got there the first thing I noticed was all the warehouses with small windows that housed the aging barrels of whiskey. That’s a lot of liquid corn if you ask me.  I can’t say that the distillery is high tech to any degree.  I imagine they are doing things pretty much the way they have for a hundred years.  I’m sure some of the buildings are at least that old.

One of the most ironic things about Kentucky bourbon is that you can’t buy it in many places in Kentucky. The reason for that “dry counties”, that is places where alcohol sales are prohibited. I did manage to buy a specially labeled bottle while I was there but even though it has been about 8 years since that time the bottle remains unopened!  I guess I am just letting it age a little more before I partake of it.  But given all the extremely cold weather we are having in Indiana now I just may break the label soon. 🙂

Another irony is that they say the first law enacted in Kentucky was making horse racing illegal.  Go figure!!!

I have been rambling on enough in this post.  It’s time for some pictures. As usual click on any pic to go to a larger slideshow view.


Was 2017 the Craziest Year in U.S. Political History?

Here we are starting out another new year. I’m just happy we survived 2017 without too much permanent damage or at least damage we can’t undo when sanity finally returns. I’m sure you are like me in thinking that the current Oval Office occupant is the worst in our nation’s history.  But maybe he isn’t, at least quite yet.  I choose two years from the reference source below at possible proof of that:

1865: An assassination, a racist, a political fracture

2017-12-30_16-03-03.pngThen, five days later, came the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. “Here was the rebellion put down in the field,” Grant later observed, “and starting up in the gutters.” The Great Emancipator and head of the Republican Party was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, a Democrat and an unapologetic racist, throwing American politics into turmoil. The Ku Klux Klan loomed just over the horizon. The events at Appomattox Court House had briefly promised regional harmony, but the radical change in leadership at the White House hinted that the deep fracture between North and South would harden into a permanent feature of our national life, a source of lunacy that bedevils us to the present day.

1968: ‘It’s hard to think of a more chaotic year’

2017-12-30_16-08-10.pngIt’s hard to think of a more chaotic year in contemporary American history than 1968. After years of mounting social discord over civil rights, civil liberties, changing codes of behavior and the war in Vietnam, many citizens now firmly believed—be it with hope or dread—that a revolution was nigh. The year began with the Tet Offensive, which convinced many Americans the war was unwinnable, and ended with the presidential election victory of Richard Nixon, a man whose political career had been said to be over just six years before. In between, turbulence reigned.

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

I don’t think any president really chooses his vice president thinking that he will not survive his term in office. In 1864 Lincoln was looking at the end of the bloody Civil war and chose his running mate to sound the theme of unity when the South returned from their traitorous ways.  Little did he know that a few short months later Johnson would be in charge of those times. Despite all the spin that they tried to give me recently at the Johnson Presidential Library in Tennessee Johnson did a terrible job. He basically tried to just do a little slap on the wrist and then return to everything the way it was before Fort Sumpter.

I lived through 1968 so I have a first-hand account of that year. Even though I was a naive twenty-two-year-old trying to just get through college, I knew things were bad. There were riots in many major cities, killings on college campuses and pure havoc at the political conventions that year. Things were bad and it was hard not to notice it.

If you want to feel a little better about today’s world browse through the source list above to see other bad years.  Things have been about as bad as now several times in our history and we survived each of those times.

What Is This??

I came across this device during my visit to the Museum of the Appalachia a few months ago. I have seen a lot of historical tools of the past but never anything quite like this.  Can anyone speculate what I might have been used for?

What is this?.jpg

Happy New Years

Happy New Years to anyone who happens to come around RJsCorner. May we all do our part, no matter how small, in causing normalcy to return to our country.  Enough small steps and it will happen. May truth once again reign out over untruth and we finally realize that, instead of being enemies, we are all in this together…

We Survived 2017!!


 For this Sunday’s post, I want to talk about the strict conformity many churches today demand of those who want to be members. It is not as simple as deciding to join but you must jump through all the hoops they tell you to before they will accept you.

canstockphoto3695937.jpgI’ve seen the light go out in people’s eyes when they decide it’s safer to embrace a doctrine or a policy that their gut tells them is wrong than it is to challenge those who say it’s right.

I’ve watched open minds close and tender hearts harden.

I’ve seen people pretend to believe things they don’t actually believe and do things they don’t actually want to do, all in the name of conformity to God’s will, all in the name of sacrifice and submission.

Fundamentalism erases people. It erases their joy, their compassion, their instincts, their curiosity, their passion, their selves. And then it celebrates this ghosting, this nulling and numbing, as a glorious “dying to the self,” just like Jesus demanded.

SOURCE: Hearts of Flesh.

These are some powerful words from Rachel Held Evans who is a young and popular Christian author and lecturer. She seldom parses words when it comes to her spirituality.  She also seems to be very aligned with the latest statistics of the Millennial generation when it comes to shedding much of the dogma of the current “church”.

I truly believe that the conformity that many churches demand is a primary factor for why even those raised in it are leaving in droves. They see things that directly contradict what they believe to be simple knowledge. They see their church speaking so viciously about those who are different from them.  What they see is not “conformity to God’s will” but to some hardened hearts who happen to have leadership positions.  They see a fixated emphasis on below the belt issues when Jesus said almost nothing about that topic.

Many young people are still in the mode of questioning things. They are still forming their own personal opinions on what will be important in their life. They will not allow someone to tell them what is moral when it is obviously not the definition of moral to them.

During my lifetime fundamentalism, even though it started with trying to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world, has, for the most part, morphed into something completely different. It is now primarily about what you are supposed to hate rather than what Jesus told you to love. It has become the dark side of Christianity in many respects.

2014-03-25_16-33-02It is encouraging to see that the force is no longer with the fundamentalists but instead beginning to meld into what is now called the Great Emergence as described by Harvey Cox in his book entitled The Future Of Faith.  As explained in the book the emergent church is more about moving on to the next stage of Christianity rather than tearing down the current one. It is about shedding all those man-made rules and replacing them with the messages of its founder. If you are becoming discouraged with the direction that many in the church are taking maybe it is time you took up the book and read it with an open mind. It just might change your idea of some of the basic things you are told you must believe in order to see God.

Go West, Young Man

I am pulling off a photo from your 2009 month long trip to the Pacific Ocean. I’m not sure just where this was taken but I suspect it was in Colorado. It is very different from what I am used to.


The Year Ahead..

2017-12-24_11-15-19.pngEven though I am not going to do any new resolutions this year other than to just survive I wanted to give you some high-level predictions on what I see for the coming year.

For the most part, I am trying to be as optimistic as I can in the coming year. Given our current political circumstances that will prove a difficult task.  In the coming year, I will try to recognize the good stuff happening wherever it is. Here are some of the things I see for in the coming year:

As in recent years, I expect that we will see some very significant advances in the medical field.  The genome project started much of the leapfrog advances we have seen in recent years and will continue in 2018. One day, maybe even next year we will finally discover that “basic” thing about cancer and how to defeat it.  In my very early years, polio was thought to be a scourge that was impossible to control but now a simple injection is all it takes to eliminate it from your life.

Self-driving cars will finally be available at the commercial level. Yeah, they will be expensive but like most technological advances will quickly drop in costs. Of course, this will eventually mean a dramatic drop in highway deaths and injuries. Fifty years from now a car that must be controlled by the user will be virtually unknown, and probably not even allowed on our roadways or skyways, whichever it turns out to be.

Battery technology will begin another massive leap in sustainability. Lithium-ion is the current state-of-art, but another combination will be discovered that will quickly replace this technology.  Eventually, Edison’s DC electricity will finally win out over Telsa’s AC, as power will homegrown and no longer have to be transmitted long distances.

Despite the backward trend in our nation’s capital, solar and wind energy will continue to make dramatic advances and drops in costs. Eventually, this will eliminate the need for our massive electrical infrastructure as most homes and business will be self-contained as far as their energy needs are concerned. 

On a longer-term basis:

Civility will return as the only acceptable way of dealing with each other.  A person, no matter his power, will not be able to say untruths without being called out.  This will probably take more than a year to get started but like sexual harassment, it may just turn on a dime and once again be the norm.  Who knows?

We will finally have a federal government that is answerable only to the people who they represent.  Allegiance to political parties will no longer have a stranglehold on so much of our world. Now I admit that this last one will likely take more than a year or even a decade to being accomplished. But you never know. It just depends on when people finally recognizing the power that they have to make this change. We can only hope that it is accomplished sooner rather than later.

I know this is a rather ambitious list of accomplishments but they can happen… maybe not in a year but they will eventually happen. We simply can’t afford for them not to.





The Anxiety of Driverless Cars

Yeah, I know there is quite a bit of anxiety out there about driverless cars but I am not one of those.  I hope before I die I am able to buy one.

2017-12-13_09-38-27Ford Motor has set a goal of producing a self-driving car with no steering wheel and no pedals by 2021, allowing time to make sure such technology can be managed safely.

Source: Trying to Bypass Anxiety on the Road to Driverless Cars – The New York Times

I love to travel but don’t particularly like to drive, but I hate flying even more. That is a dilemma that would be solved by being able to program in where I want to go and then just enjoying the scenery and reading about my destination while getting there.

Being a techie who is usually an early implementer I can’t wait to jump on board.  Before you jump to any conclusions, no the final design will not be anything like the picture above. All of that stuff on the top will be miniaturized and virtually disappear before it is consumer ready.

I have been away from the details of technology for too many years now to even speculate how all this stuff is accomplished. My most basic question is how does the car distinguish between a plastic bag in the road from a large rock? I would love the see the algorithm that accomplishes that task.

What about you? What do you think about driverless cars?

Satisfying Retirement and RJsCorner

2017-12-26_09-26-27.pngOne of my regular blog reads is Satisfying Retirement from Bob Lowry. Bob’s blog is much more popular than mine and as a result of him mentioning RJsCorner in his blog list, I get quite a few referrals from it. Some of his readers who visit RJsCorner might be interested in how very different people can become friends.

Over the years we have become pretty good blog buddies. At this point in our lives we share many of the same beliefs and feelings, but from his post of yesterday entitled  If Life Had a Do-Over Option, Would I ? and previous discussions we had very different paths to get to where we are.   I didn’t want to hog the comments section on his post, so decided to write a post here comparing his earlier life to mine in order to show how opposite they were.

BobMy life has been rather ordinary in most respects. I was raised in a typical 1950’s-60’s American suburban environment by two parents who loved each other and their three sons…  I went to college, got married in my late 20’s, had two daughters, 

RJ: I am a couple of years older than Bob but I too was raised in just about the same period. But since my mother was an extreme narcissist, she abandoned her family for greener pastures when I was about ten years old. Dad just wasn’t much of a communicator so I had very little guidance in my formative years.  I didn’t get married until the age of forty and have no children.

Bob: I wasted my time at college…College, for me, was not a time when I allowed myself to be intellectually challenged. I took the courses I needed to but was never fired up by most of them… I was the president of my fraternity…

Me at the age of 18RJ: I was just a skinny naive farm boy then but college years were some of the most enlightening years of my life. Since there was simply no family money available to fund my college years I ended up working 40+ hours per week for a five-year pay-as-you-go college trip. Being I worked so hard to get there I was anxious to learn as much as possible. I had little time, inclination, or funds to even consider a fraternity let alone being its president.

Bob: ..built a successful career in an industry I had fallen in love with at age 12… At the peak of my consultancy, I was serving over 30 radio stations single-handedly and had worked for over 200 other stations at one time. 

RJ:  I re-invented myself several times during my thirty-year career. It took twenty years to finally discover where I should have been in the first place. Since I had undiscovered Asperger’s traits even during these years, one-on-one associations were at best very difficult.

There are several other basic differences between Bob and me as far as our pre-retirement years are concerned but I think you get the point, our lives were just about the exact opposite.  So, how could two people with very different life experiences end up at pretty much the same point years later, let alone friends?  I think our common beliefs of empathy and celebrating diversity has something to do with it.


Grandpa Would Be Proud..

I have decided to spend this last week of the year totally ignoring our dark political times. Here is the first installment.

One of the things I remember most about my grandpa, besides him being a pig farmer, was that he would start each meal by cutting everything into small pieces and then mixing it all together!  No matter what was on his plate it would end up in a pile with everything else.When questioned about it he always said: “It’s all going to the same place so why not start it that way”.

2017-12-23_08-49-13.pngI’m sure if grandpa were alive today he would say “I told you so”. It used to be only the upscale snobby type restaurants piled all the food together in the middle of the plate, but now it seems to almost be a universal trend. I have always wondered how you are supposed to eat it when it comes that way. Personally, the first thing I do is to move everything to its own real estate on the plate so that I can enjoy each item individually.  I guess I have to pay more attention to those around me to see what most do?

Maybe grandpa had it right all those years ago and it just took the rest of us 50 years to catch up.  I would love to hear from some of my readers about what you think of this trend?