Nine days till my personal moratorium on politics is over. There is a lot one could say about the Middle East. For now, we say that His kingdom is not of this world, and it is not gained by fighting a physical war but a spiritual one. So many great stories of true Christian faith in the face of death and earthly ruin have come out of this terrible region of conflicts in which none of the sides is really “good”. In the midst of such chaos and evil, Christian men and women have raised their voices and shouted, “Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side.” They have taken up their crosses and followed Jesus. By doing so, they have heaped burning coals of fire on the consciences of His enemies. By doing so, they have caused all to see their good works and marvel, and countless millions to glorify their God in heaven and to turn from death to life in Jesus. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
Not being of the Roman church tradition, I have never been one to feel obligated to give up things for Lent. I always felt that, it you should give it up for Lent, you should give it up for good. Isn’t , after all, the whole point of Mardi Gras to do all those salacious things that you are going to give up for Lent? Doesn’t that make Lent, then, a form of genuflection in which you make an effort to deny yourself and honor God, if only for a little while?
Well, I do feel there is potential good in fasting and in denying ourselves of things for awhile, if that gives us the ability to concentrate on something more important. And this is why I chose to give up politics for Lent.
Some people smoke and some do not. Some people drink alcohol and some do not. Some people feel giving up meat is a huge sacrifice and some do not. But I hardly know a single person who isn’t addicted to politics. It’s what makes the world tic, so I am told. And, as a political blogger, not talking about politics for six weeks is going to kill my blog site.
But, is politics really what makes the world go round? I thought that was God. And has my sight really focused on politics or has it focused more on the root cause of all political malaise — lack of God?
Whether I talk about politics or not, they same things will go on in the world. Whether ISIS becomes the new world threat or not, war, hatred, social disaster and political ineptness will all come from some source, in some way, for all time. And all the political pundits and all the congressmen and women will never be able to fix the world’s problems and bring peace for all time or even in our time. For there is only one who can bring peace to the earth, and one who offers a true fix — Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther, erstwhile Roman Catholic monk of the sixteenth century said very well, “The job of the Christian shoemaker is not to paint crosses on all the shoes he makes. His job is to make the best possible pair of shoes he can make.” Sure, one can talk of politics and all other things as a Christian and doesn’t have to drop the name of Jesus in every sentence. But he can discuss everything in the light of the truth that Jesus has revealed. And he can find empirical evidence from life that clearly shows how common sense aligns with the truths of God. So a Christian can be an especially good political pundit. But, because the world refuses to acknowledge the truth or follow it, the Christian, in order to be a pundit, must swim in a sea of compromises. He cannot stand up for truly conservative line that the world, devoid of common sense or lacking the desire to be reined in by it, would never accept. He cannot speak the truth that abortion is, by and large, a shameful, disgraceful sanctioning of murder, so he must instead speak about splitting hairs as to what would seem prudent for the gestational point at which to cease to allow it. He can’t speak about how shameful it is that the 97% of heterosexual people have allowed to 2% of homosexual people who run Hollywood to jam their twisted lifestyle down our throats on the cable channels that we must now pay handsomely to receive. He can, however, compromise by saying, “That’s not how I choose to live but you are free to do what you want,” while not adding the part about how deviance from the six thousand years of normal marriage and family are ruining the world. Or, he can tell the truth and either be ignored or vilified. Watching my blog number for the last three years, I’m guessing that in my case it is mostly being ignored.
Well, I committed to continue blogging for at least five years. And I will. But I care about other things too much to keep beating the dead horse. I will soon be creating another blog site and moving on. Of course I will take my posts with me and set them in a corner somewhere in case anyone might want to read them in the future. And I probably will compile a few things into an E-book and have that as my manifesto on the subject of politics. But I have other places to go, other people to meet, and miles and miles I want to go before I sleep. And those people, places and miles I want to travel speaking about what works and not what is broken. Thousands and thousands of bloggers have that covered already.
So, sorry I’ve been out for awhile. Expect that, for at least four more weeks, I will say nothing of America and it’s hellbent run to destruction. Not that I don’t want to. But I have bigger fish to fry.
I have friends who are lawyers but don’t want anyone to know they are lawyers. It’s not because they are ashamed to be lawyers. It’s because, once people know they are lawyers, they start asking for legal advice. Usually it’s “something small”, so the asker never seems to think it’s much of an imposition.
Lawyers aren’t alone in this. How many times have doctors heard, “I’ve got this little pain right here.” or “can you write me a prescription for …”. Contractors, plumbers, electricians, you name it. They’ve all dealt with people interested in them only for their ability to give free help.
Now, imagine for a minute what Jesus must have gone through. Back then, there were no doctors or medical practices anything like what we have today. Yet along comes this guy that heals people on the spot! He’s so good, that you’ve heard stories that if people just touch him they are healthy as a horse. Sure, Jesus was a Rabbi, a preacher, first and foremost. But most people seemed to forget that. A lot of people were amazed at how much better of a legal mind he was than their other legal experts, and they followed him around waiting to see what kind of zinger he had to rebuff the next challenge. But most people just wanted to see the show.
Jesus, Son of God, preacher of renown, was, first and foremost a circus act in the minds of most people. Reading through Mark’s Gospel in Chinese, I had this perspective driven home to me by the way some of the passages were translated into Chinese. Here is Mark 3:10
Because he made so many people well, everyone with any kind of ailment pushed through the crowd towards him, hoping they could touch him.
It speaks of people with 病痛 (bingtong) following Jesus around. Bingtong are things like the common cold, a sore muscle, a cough, a hangnail, indigestion. It tells us that people were 挤过 (jiguo), forcing their way through the crowds, which we are told earlier had Jesus and the disciples so surrounded that they didn’t even have room to eat. And they were forcing their way through just to touch Jesus. It’s hard to imagine the press of people, unless you were in one of the tragic stadium collapses in European football where hundreds suffocated to death.
Can’t you just imagine what Jesus was dealing with. “Hey Jesus, heal my sniffles.” “Hey Jesus, I’ve got this big bunion, what can you do about that?” “Jesus, can you bless my food, my child, my new gown?” Fights break out among those struggling to get close to Jesus. In chapter five, Jesus decided to go to the wilderness to get away, but, when the crowd see the disciples sneaking off they figure out that the circus is leaving town and they chase it far out into nowhere, not even thinking about how they are going to survive out there without food, water, or shelter. Fortunately for them, Jesus had compassion and treated them to another show — feeding tens of thousands of people with a handful of food.
Now, we have our sports idols and our music idols and our rich movers and shakers. And people like to get close to them for the same reason they wanted to get to Jesus. They are the stars of the shows. So we can understand how the people must have felt, especially since Jesus was pretty much the only show in town. But, of course, Jesus was much more than that. Unlike our modern headliners, Jesus had a lot more to offer than a ticket to an event, or a handout, or even physical health and wellness. For Jesus, healing people, as wonderful as that was, was just an opening act. The real show was one in which he would make a way for everyone who would receive it to be stars in an eternal show. The physical healing that he was providing was only to show that he had the power to grant spiritual and eternal healing. As he said to the crowd when a paralytic was lowered through the crowd to him. “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘get up and walk? But so that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins, I tell you, get up and walk!” All the miracles pointed to the greatest miracle of all. Jesus came to remit payment for everyone who ever rebelled against God and did his own thing, which is all of us. He came to give us back the glorious, perfect and eternal life that we were intended to have when God made Adam his chief creation.
So, as you take a look at Jesus, what do you want to see? A side show? Or a savior?
Let’s follow Steve on his quest to be somebody. Steve was born into a family with a deadbeat dad and an alcoholic mother. He was one of seven children from various fathers. Steve never had much food to eat and had to learn to take care of himself as best he could at an early age. His mother made him go to school so she could get her welfare checks and supply her habit. But she never asked Steve how he was doing or cared to help him. So he never tried very hard
Steve grew up pretty much on his own and never thinking about prospects for the future. Life was about learning to get by. Then one day, he saw Ozzy, the local kingpin, slide by in his big beautiful Cadillac. He thought to himself, “There is someone who’s made a name for himself. People pay attention to him!” Steve didn’t think he would ever amount to much himself, but he thought about how much he would be respected if he could become friends with Ozzy.
One day, as Ozzy’s car was sliding by, it slowed and the window rolled down. “He, kid, what’s your name?”
“Well, Steve, how would you like to do a favor for Ozzy?”
“Just take this bag and deliver it to this address. Ozzy would appreciate it and he won’t forget it.”
“Sure!” “Wow!,” thought Steve, “Ozzy actually asking me for a favor! I must be somebody!”
Months went by and Steve was feeling pretty good. Ozzy himself would wave and call out his name when he drove by. More and more packages got delivered, and the were always generous tokens of appreciation. Steve was no longer hungry, and everyone is school treated him a little differently because they knew he was a friend of Ozzy.
One day, Ozzy’s car rolled up and stopped next to Steve. The door opened. “Get in,” came Ozzy’s voice from inside. Ozzy told Steve that he was now was of the posse and that he wanted him to quit school and work for him full time. When Steve was let out on his street corner, he almost couldn’t contain his happiness. He was now a somebody! He was a friend of Ozzy!
Familiar story, and many such stories end in tragedy–dead from overdose, dead from gang war, jailed for criminal activity, always, in the end, suffering alone. Most names that we drop might make us feel special by really don’t do much to improve our lot and might even make us end up worse in the end.
In sports, we like to root for our favorites teams and take pride when they win. But it does nothing for us personally. Even is we rub elbows with the players, we are trading on someone else’s fame and fortune but still it doesn’t affect our own.
As I was sitting in a church this morning in another city and watching a former school mate lead the service, I reflected on how well-respected he was in his congregation and how he has seemed to enjoy a long and fruitful ministry. He seems like a Godly man. I reflected upon my status as a washout, a man cast by the wayside of pastoral ministry by circumstance. I reflected on my own failings, of which I am personally all too well aware, even if those around me think more highly of me. No one will ever drop my name as someone to take pride In knowing.
But, then there were the Bible readings and the text for the day. And they all spoke of the name that is above all other names — Jesus. Today we talked of his mountaintop experience, where he showed his followers a glimpse of his true glory, and it was so brilliant they could neither adequately describe it or even stand to witness it. It was so awesome that Peter thought maybe they should just stay there forever and bask in it. It was truly beyond anything that this world describes as awesome.
How lucky for Peter, James and John, who were the witnesses. How great to say you were the intimate friends of such a man. Of course, in a few weeks, Jesus would be nailed to a cross and the disciples would be in hiding. But that is why they could not stay on the mountain. Jesus has to complete his work.
And it is the completion of this work that has done a remarkable thing. Because, by paying the punishment for all the evil deeds of all the world’s evil people, he also paid for my evil deeds. And he opened a door to a new life, one in which I will not only reflect the glory of Jesus for now, but I will have my own glory in eternity
King David wrote, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Something to remember: If you are the right hand man of the most powerful man on earth, or even if you are the most powerful man yourself, or even if you are Satan himself and posses all the powers of darkness, but cannot call Jesus your friend, all you have to look forward to is to rule over misery. If, however, you are the lowest creature on earth, and no one knows your name, but you are a friend of Jesus, and even if you are least in the kingdom of Heaven, you still have a share of glory.
Who cares who has the top pot in Heaven. Jesus will know everyone’s name. When there is no end of time, there is not limit to access with Jesus. All alike will be perfect, all alike will be glorified, and not even the lowest citizen will cease to were a royal crown.
Who were Peter, James, and John? There were nobodies. But Jesus picked them out from the crowd and made their names famous for all time. They were famous because they were the chosen friends of Jesus. But they are not unique. All the chosen friends of Jesus shall be eternally exalted. That includes even lowly, unknown people like you and me.
One day, while Steve was in prison, he heard through the chaplain the voice of Jesus calling, “Steve, come be my friend.” It was then that Steve connected himself to the only name that could ever really make him something. And it was then that he knew to real joy of name dropping.
I have read two books of great interest this week. One was Thomas Sowell’s Affirmative Action Around the World, and the other was Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, by Woody Holton. From these two books, I come to the following conclusions:
1. Affirmative action is meant to address the universal plight of all the oppressed, regardless of whether their oppression is self-inflicted or has come about because of intentional of unintentional opposing circumstances.
2. Affirmative action always fails, because, instead of leveling the playing field, it merely angles it in new, often grotesque and almost always unforeseen ways.
3. The United States Constitution was as a direct result of affirmative actions taken by state legislatures and to prevent more such moves from causing escalating revolts and the demise of the United States of America.
It is important to understand that Affirmative Action, as we have come to know it in America, is not the affirmative action in general of which I speak, although it is one recent and local permutation. And does not always involve a redress of minority slights. It has often sided with the majority, as was the case in the majority of actions in America in the 1780’s. And it most often comes about with new-found self-determination — democracy as it is known.
The founding fathers already worked under the Articles of Confederation, by which the united States of America were functioning. But each state was left pretty much to it’s own devices, not only for administering its own affairs, but also for raising its share of federal revenue, since Congress had no method of creating its own revenue — taxation. Under this system, the states found themselves unable to enforce revenue collection, which, in turn, led to money shortages and a choked economy. Also they could raise no armies to facilitate the safe and orderly conduct of state business among the people who tended to use heated rallies and court closures to champion their affirmative action issues. The Constitution enabled a fix, in effect killing all such actions while at the same time giving the federal government the control of currency and the ability, through excise and import taxes, to raise enough revenue to preserve the peace.
If you want to know more about how I came to my conclusions or which to debate them further, you must first read the above-mentioned books. As I have read more and more over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that I am an unruly American. I have not always been a good citizen, even at times when I have thought I was standing for the Constitution but my understanding of its reach was flawed. There is a fine line between upholding the Constitution and subverting it for one’s own ends. The income tax of 1913 is one such subversion of the constitution clause granting the Congress the power to lay taxes. Nevertheless, it is the law at present and must be obeyed, although it is doing the opposite of what the framers intended. It upholds the tremendous weight and burden of our present affirmative actions that the Constitution sought to abolish. The Constitution also headed off the creation of fiat money and preserved hard money that could not depreciate and that would discourage speculation. We have also parted ways with intentions in this regard. In these ways and many others, the framers would not recognize nor approve of what we have done with their carefully crafted document.
I always want to write. I’m sure that I am one of the most annoying friends to be had on Facebook, because I add my two cents’ worth to everything. Do you have such people in your life? Don’t you sometimes just want to slap them and tell them to get a life?
I have a life, of course. So far today, I am playing hookie (spell check’s got nothin) from it. Some days you just have to stop the world and get off. OK, I’ll be out there making amends as soon as I finish writing about nothing, so this doesn’t really count as a day off. More like “administrative leave” or being assigned to a desk job pending some investigation. Speaking of administration, this is the most overlooked part of self-employment. You can only put it off so long before you outrun your supply chain. That’s sort of where I am today.
Well, enough about my laziness. It’s not really laziness. It’s just that my job is quite tedious, monotonous, and seclusive that I sometimes can’t get myself to face it. So, instead, I am sitting, by myself, writing to people I will never see and who will never respond to me. See how that is way better?
Age is, of course, relative. My father tells me about his day, the highlight of which is washing the kitchen floor. If he does that, that’s a good day. Once I raked his leaves for him. He said, don’t bother, it takes two days. I was done in three hours. For him that was amazing. For me, that meant three days of stiffness. No, I am not 80 something, so I can still do a young man’s work. But also, I am not 20 something, so give me a few days to recover when I do 20 something work. Lucky is the 50 something man who can do enough manual labor every day to stay in shape but not too much that he can’t answer the bell every day. It’s a fine line that takes constant adjustment as we grow older.
As for being grumpy, it’s the above said adjustments that make me grumpy. I need to be 20 something because I have a lot to do. I can’t be 20 something. So I have to adjust, and somehow get more done with less effort. I often have great success at that. But not this week. I feel rather like a failure this week, at least at doing my job. But, one thing that time does teach us is that even a little progress each day at something can add up to a whole lot of progress over time. While my body and mind needed a vacation from the primary occupation, I did advance in some areas that I hope will help me when I am too old to do my present job as much but still too young to retire. I have on my agenda, for instance, finishing becoming a virtuoso pianist, so that I can be of some service to mankind and also so that I can attract some students and have my dream retirement job of a piano teaching studio. After all, who doesn’t want a grumpy old man for a teacher?
As I have said before, any criticism of capitalism is lensed in the filters that are caused by America’s insistence on tinkering with Capitalism, otherwise known as regulation. While regulation always appears to be for the sake of the small man, or the safety of the powerless, it almost always turns out to be a way for someone to hedge the market in his favor, and usually that means those with enough resources to enact the regulations that will protect them from open competition. “Trickle down economics” has been hijacked in this way and greatly hindered. In a truly open market, when the rich make more they create a larger pool of wealth that trickles down to many people and lifts the whole economy. In crony economics, the smaller interests are choked to the point of being unable to afford the benefits of the trickle down. In actuality, the trickle down is absorbed by the regulatory machine and ceases to exist. In this way, the rich still increase the pool of wealth, but no one is able to share it.
Yet, one can see all over the globe that enterprising people create niches of oportunity for themselves and others under even the most totalitarian and ruthless of regulatory governments — under Mao, for instance. There is always hope for an economy whose drivers refuse to be regulated into non-existence. There will always be those who operate under the common laws of decency and presenting a product with honest value at an honest price, even when those who do so have to run fast and loose with the regulations. This is what we call the “black market.” Perhaps it is not so much black as hidden.
Originally posted on Flyover-Press.com:
Markets are like weeds. They are impossible to stamp out. Markets emerge wherever and whenever there exist opportunities for individuals to gain through exchange. But not all markets are equal. Market exchanges in the absence of property rules take place, but possess characteristics which are not desirable for long-term economic growth.
One of the greatest travesties in the history of mankind involves the collective cognizance of the average dumbed down American. He (and especially she) has forgotten (or has had it brainwashed away) the idea that private property rights are the foundation of ALL freedoms. ALL human “rights” are also private property rights.
Take for example, the supreme court case that dealt with “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” The court’s ruling put a serious limitation on the freedom of speech because the brief was couched in the wrong terms. This was NOT a “free speech” issue. It was a “property rights” issue. So whose property rights…
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