27 December 2014

The Mad Greek(s)


My wife and I traveled recently to a neighboring state for a week-long getaway.  We stopped by several places to eat and use restrooms.  Although we currently live in a city having people from different backgrounds, traveling can also surprise you with the variety of people one could run into.

There’s a great Greek restaurant in Baker, California, where we stopped for a bite to eat.  The gyros were fantastic and the service was friendly.  We saw people from practically all over the United States and the world.  Baker is a small town between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  I told my wife I wanted to stop here for a meal on our way back home because I really liked the beef and lamb gyro I had; meat was tender, marinated nicely and cooked how I like it.

This particular Greek restaurant has “welcome” all over the ceiling written in different languages.  They also have a wall overlooking the condiments table which lists all the famous Greeks of times past along with some recent celebrity Greeks.  It was quite interesting to read all of the philosophers, statesmen, thinkers, leaders and so on which today make up the western cultural conscience.  If you are not Greek by heritage you are surely Greek by cultural standards.  

What was quite interesting to recall was the fact that one of our conversations early on in our trip was about how today’s western law science is derived from the Greeks.  I was telling my wife how those Greek thinkers came up with the notion of what was right and wrong according to their experience and their reading of histories and cultures past.  Although the notion of God was spread among theists, atheists and many ‘gods’ as is Today, the notion of consciousness was present in life.

23 December 2014

Santa Despises Christ


This morning as I’m waking up I remember the words “the blue eyes in Chicago” from a dream.  I now cannot recall what was happening in the dream, but I kept repeating that phrase so I wouldn’t forget.  I eventually get online with sleep still in my eyes to do an internet search for that phrase.  I know if I put the notion aside I’ll most likely forget it like many other dreams that easily fade away like a mist as the day progresses.  

I peruse the search results and click through one which may fit what I think I’m looking for.  It is a blog post from a man in Chicago about Christmas.  It’s a story of Santa about to leave on his journey through Chicago and Jesus happens to appear and asks to go along with him.  Santa doesn’t seem too thrilled and reluctantly agrees to take Him along.  The writer of the blog does a great job describing the sights and sounds throughout the different parts of that city.  Santa and Jesus see the good and the not so good sights and sounds of Chicago neighborhoods.  At one point, they get robbed as they pass through a particular part of town.  

As they arrive back at the North Pole and Santa is exiting the sleigh, Jesus finds one final gift left in the sleigh.  Santa hands it to Jesus; it’s for Him.  Jesus unwraps the gift and finds a whip, a crown of thorns, nails and a hammer.  Santa says that maybe in His next life Jesus will get it right. 

I had to think for a minute about what this author was trying to say.

Is Christ to blame for the decisions people freely make?

Is Christ to blame for consumerism, indifference, crime, racism and selfishness?

22 December 2014

Holy Days Upon Us

The time of year when many folks take a break and reflect on the past year is upon us.  Some of you are now celebrating eight days of gifts.  Others of you will celebrate next week.  Some others of you will celebrate on the 25th.  The commonality shared is family and friends.  I hope someone’s love for you isn’t gauged by the amount, value or brand name of gifts received.  If you rate the love others may have for you by the things you receive, you may have your priorities in disorder.

The western commemoration of a new year is also upon us.  Some folks make ‘resolutions’ hoping to not repeat this year’s mistakes.  Nothing magical happens from one day to the next ( although they’re called ‘holy’ / holi-days ).  Perhaps the positive notion is a good aim for better horizons; this brings hope.  I hope you’re not shocked if / when your humanity fails you at some point when pursuing your resolutions.  

According to popular culture; titles, awards, raises and increases of material possessions are supposedly signs of success and blessings.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, but who am I to contradict what is marketed to the world?  Some people know, deep down in their hearts, that ‘money doesn’t make the man.  I hope your heart realizes gratitude prior to achieving the exterior representations of success; they won’t make a difference otherwise.

If you are content with who you are and what you now have, you’re blessed!  Sadly, too many people strive to become or achieve so others will love them.  If you have people or someone who loves you regardless of what you now have, you’re blessed!  Why attempt to prove yourself by gaining material possessions only to be accepted according to those material possessions?

21 December 2014

Hide The Cook

What a great difference a friendly smile and kind words make.

I recently visited a diner I would walk by every so often on my way elsewhere.  As I walk in, a friendly lady greeted me with a big smile and warm words.  I asked for a table near a power outlet ( free wifi advertised in the window ) and she pointed out such a table.

My menu was handed to me by an even friendlier waiter who seemed to be jumping for joy at every turn.  A couple seated near me seemed delighted with his jovial presence.  I could hear their hearty laughs.  After ordering a pasta plate, I was wondering why I didn’t ask the waiter for his opinion.  He returns a short time later to ask if I wanted mushrooms.  I told him it was my first time at this restaurant and I made the mistake of not asking him what his suggestions were.  He gave me about five suggestions.   The manner he explained them all made me want to order all of them.  I asked if the pasta plate was already being prepared and, after checking with the cook, he returns asking me what sides I wanted with my new choice of dish.

Service and a warm attitude are reasons that bring me back regardless of how the food turns out.  Sometimes a meal could be tastier elsewhere but, if the service is lacking luster, poor service does overshadow a meal.  I may be in the minority of folks who, in some instances, choose service over product.  In the service industry, the products are sometimes not as easily distinguishable as good service is.

The visit was a great experience until I see the chef coughing his cold into his hands before returning to the kitchen.

20 December 2014

Defining Security

I overhear two gentlemen behind me talking about the amount of money one has.   

They both agree how this helps him breathe easier.

Why do people see money as a security? 

Money is a piece of paper. 

Money is actually valueless. 

Money has no intrinsic value. 

Money is an idea made by men. 

Money fluctuates in buying power. 

Money is a digital blip on a computer screen.  

The only thing attaching an idea of value or use to money is faith. 

People believe they can get a piece of bread or a gallon of milk with enough money. 

Laws are passed making payments of taxes, rents and bills only acceptable in monetary form.

Money is ‘made’ by one single institution and ‘lent’ / ‘issued’ to other institutions, at interest.

Interest / usury produces a siphon which isn’t understood by ‘sophisticated’ economists.

More debt exists than the amount of money in circulation capable of paying it back.

Checks, promissory notes and other instruments are paper with ideas on them.

The interest amount is never ‘made’ / ‘issued’ to the borrowers.

Paying back all the debt in the world and interest is an insoluble mathematical problem; not possible.

Imagine no money exists.

I ‘make’ a dollar and lend it to you, at interest, at one percent usury.

How are you going to pay me the extra penny I am demanding if only one dollar ( one hundred pennies ) exists? 

Where does the extra penny come from?

Isn’t peace among neighbors a stronger security?

Aren’t viable food sources a stronger security?

Isn’t good health a stronger security?

Isn’t developing talents and skills which are useful and in demand stronger securities?

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.

This too is meaningless.

– Ecclesiastes 5: 10

19 December 2014

Land Of Confusion

This week the news reported Obama writing a memorandum opening relations with Cuba and moving away from the 60 year embargo.  The other major headline was a Sony computer hack which led to cancelling the release of a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader.  It is interesting to read the opinions, responses and points being made after these news items are broadcast.

Obama received criticism for moving towards resolution with the Cuban government.  Some opinions were that his efforts infer an acceptance of an ‘enemy’ regime.  However, it was the American government which decided to close world trade to Cuba; an attempt to compel the island nation into submission which has failed after two generations.  Some occupying political office vowed to block all attempts in Congress ( where the ultimate decision to remove the embargo must come from ).  I wonder how much the negative responses have to do with reality than having to do with playing on a certain team ( red or blue political side ) and media perceptions of who is an ‘enemy’ and who is good.

The Cancellation of the film ‘The Interview’ was quite surprising.  When unknown liabilities face commercial enterprises that may experience an attack of some kind, the decision is one of safety and avoidance of further conflict.  However, the decision to not release the film has been branded as self-censorship and bowing in cowardice to terrorist threats.  But I wonder; if a similarly themed movie had the U.S. president or another foreign sovereign head of state, for example the Israeli Prime Minister, as the target of assassination, would freedom of speech be better or worse argued? 

Isn’t it ‘freedom’ in appealing the lifting an embargo? 

Isn’t it a question of ethics, morals and hypocrisy the propagandized mainstreaming of assassinations? 

18 December 2014

Religious Wranglings

I shouldn't let it get to me but, when I engage in a virtual battle of words, it pains me how folks continue with indifference instead of seeking a peaceful agreement. The last couple of days, someone has consistently challenged how I reach out to others of a different faith. Instead of bridging gaps and extending hands in friendship, they desire to judge, to condemn and to instigate. All of my appeals to love, speak with an open heart having open arms is responded to with self-righteous state-religion indoctrinations entwined with passages from the bible. I’ve done this and it is embarrassing to remember how religious I have been in not seeing what I now see.

It is easy ( or naturally human ) to view God as a tough, never ceasing, unrelenting, overbearing and unapproachable Being. Far too many view God this way when reading the account in the old testament. However, the virtues of God in Christ being revealed in the old testament, it is difficult to understand how God is revealed in Christ Today.

It is easy to continue this view of God when looking at Christ and the history of the church. Looking at the Crusades, the power struggles and lack of love, no wonder religious Christians hold closer their weapons of war than their faith in God. It is no wonder people have a hard time seeing Christ when the message of peace and love is preached one moment and the next bombs are being dropped. People’s cultures and beliefs are condemned without understanding His will.

It is the lack of love ( and lack of faith ) which prevents people from really seeing Yeshua Christ and believing in His Way aside from popular culture and history’s dismal track record.

Put Hope First.

Believe.

Love.

17 December 2014

Grateful For Grace

Grace / ɡrās / Middle English: via Old French from Latin gratia, from gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’; related to grateful.

/ noun /

1- simple elegance or refinement of movement.
    a. courteous goodwill.
    b. an attractively polite manner of behaving.

2- ( in Christian belief ) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
    a. a divinely given talent or blessing.
    b. the condition or fact of being favored by someone.

3- a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor.

4- a short prayer of thanks said before or after a meal.

5- used as forms of description or address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop.

/ verb /

1- do honor or credit to ( someone or something ) by one's presence.
    a. ( of a person or thing ) be an attractive presence in or on; adorn.

How can the experience of grace be described in terms easily understood?

Grace happened when I talked my way out of several traffic tickets.  I thought it was due to my wit and communication skills ( perhaps this, aside from my ego ;).

Grace happened when avoiding many pitfalls that befell my peers who grew up on the same street; far too many faced prison or death.

Grace happened when avoiding peer pressures in joining a gang.

Grace kept me from being a statistic; children out of wedlock, venereal diseases from promiscuity and domestic violence from unhealthy relationships.

Grace kept me from suicide when blaming myself regarding my parent’s eventual divorce.

It has been grace that has seen me to nearly 40 years of life on this plane despite my unwise decisions.

16 December 2014

Projecting Your Positive Self

Have you ever heard someone tell you something which you knew was them revealing themselves?  Have you ever heard or noticed something in someone you disliked?  Did you later realize what you didn't like was actually seeing yourself in them?  Perhaps you realized that you say and do the very same thing you disliked hearing or seeing in them.   This is called projection.

Psychological Projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others.  For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.  According to some research, the projection of one's negative qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life. 

- Sigmund Freud, Tavris Wade 

Unfortunately, we all project our thoughts, moods and character onto others from time to time.  People leaving mind-bending religious institutions may project their distaste for organized religion when others mention God or a faith group; ridicule sometimes being the response.  The person who just left an unhealthy relationship may project their previous partner’s failures onto someone new or may perceive a negative outlook on relationships in general.  

In social media, very often messages are read from a different point of view than how the message is written.  The reception of any message depends on the reader’s / receiver’s perception, worldview and belief system.  Misinterpretations happen all the time and can be quite humorous or quite devastating in some instances.

One possible remedy to avoid the pitfall of psychological projection could be focusing on projecting love, not hate; positive and hopeful words, not negative or hopeless themes onto others; forwarding blessings, not curses.  One more reality to accept is that all people are fallible.  The chronic projector needs help viewing others through grace.

14 December 2014

Imaginary Lines

Meeting new people is such a great experience.  People have so many things in common.  I think we all see the world in pretty much the same given the chance.  The point where any two people may disagree is mostly a question of perception.   Moments of disagreement comes down to identity, to belief and to cultural conditioning.

Recently, I befriended someone from South Carolina who ‘hated’ people from Florida.  In comparison, they loved folks from Georgia.  After some questioning, they couldn’t conclude the real reason why they hated Floridians other than saying “people from Florida make red necks look bad.”  What leads people to hate others living on the other side of an imaginary political border?  Perhaps the same things that make neighbors from the same ethnic and social background to hate each other.

Then we discussed the topic of gun rights / control.  After discussing the uses of a weapon as a hunting tool, the point of why certain weapons are made was discussed.  What use is an atomic or nuclear bomb?  What was the intent of making a machine gun?  My new friend mentioned their God-given right to defend themselves.  Since they believed in the risen Christ, I had to point out what Christ taught regarding using force, loving enemies and forgiving others.  I asked them to picture Christ with a machine gun.  

Religion can easily be used as a tool to have people abandon their faith in following a political ideology.  Isn’t this the intent of religion?  However, religion does not equal faith and neither does religion equal God or God’s Way.  

People are drowning in religious rhetoric, doctrines and teachings which depart from the peaceful and loving Way of faith.  This isn’t by accident, but is a reoccurring intention.  Looking past this duality is very important. 

12 December 2014

Through Who's Eyes

Do you ever hear a song that transports you through time and space?  Songs take me back to a moment in the past or propel me forward into the future.  Some songs launch me into space while other songs draw me heavenward. 

One such tune drawing me beyond the physical bounds is “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos.  It is categorized as an “oldie;” a simple song with soul, the circle of fifths and an ethereal live sound that brings overtones of warmth and transcendence.  At least this is the manner it makes me feel.  Music is such a gift.  It can message abstract concepts.  Music can sooth the mind, heart, soul and spirit.  Music can do many things between harmful and fruitful. 

The lyrics and link to the song;

My love must be a kind of blind love
I can't see anyone but you

Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you, dear

The moon may be high
But I can't see a thing in the sky
I only have eyes for you

I don't know if we're in a garden
Or on a crowded avenue

You are here and so am I
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

Like speeches and Scriptures, songs can be received a variety of ways.  My personal interpretation with this song is someone describing their relationship with God.  I see the first-person account of the author’s description.  This, like other songs, is viewed to speak of another person.  Perhaps it is my heart desiring to see each and every experience in life through the prism of faith is why I see this song in this manner.

11 December 2014

Are You Better Than Others?

Reading history, one can see there are many times scandals have brought down monarchies.  By the time the news hit the countryside, an opportunist was the new king.  This isn’t the case in Today’s system.  Power is distributed across a wide spectrum of people.  There are long lines of people waiting for their opportunity to ‘lead’ and ‘govern.’  They say they will be different, but such is never the case.  The office is not like the person occupying it. 

The media is used to distract instead of inform.  The media’s silence regarding President Roosevelt’s ailments is a great example of distraction.  Today’s media silence not questioning taboo subjects such as the third building that fell on 9/11/2001 is a modern example.  The previous consensus had to do with dignity in hiding an image of frailty and weakness… the latter could be the same purpose.

Top-Down Propaganda

One tool to conquer peoples and their lands is to propagate “superiority” by convincing one group of people how they’re better than others.  This is done through religion and political ideology.  In Roman times, it was the title of being a Roman Citizen which granted a civilized air of superiority and a promise to cease being labeled a ‘barbarian.’  Today, it is the dream of being an American Citizen.  A century ago, it was pride being a German and all others being inferior.

This is nothing new when looking at history’s story.  We simply see the same regurgitated teaching of propaganda that one type of people / tribe is greater than another people / tribe.  People believe it since it is written in glossy history books by scholars and professors of high notoriety.  People believe this because their favorite news station tells them. 

I wonder which kountry God would be a proud citizen of.

10 December 2014

The Kingdom Continues

To some, the Gospel's message of love and reconciliation failed.  Some people only see the physical dimension and conclude their thoughts according to physical evidence.  Some believe the disintegration of the Roman Empire included the disintegration of the faith that empire adopted as the state religion.  
 
To other eyes, the Gospel's message absorbed the most powerful empire at the time and has continued forward, unseen and unknown; anonymous.   The Empire fell and with it the physical expression of religion; yet the message continued. 

This triumph wasn’t by force, but by absorbing wicked attempts to stifle and silence the faithful.  Theirs wasn’t a physical rebellion or bloody insurrection the empire battled.  The effort was to silence the proclamation of a God King not of earthly origins, but a celestial one.  What had been proclaimed and believed could not have been credited to man.  The Jews, Romans nor believers could have taken credit for introducing the knowledge of the Creator’s visit in human form.  The Romans made gods for themselves, as did the Jews, but this God was not of their doing. 

The kingdom of God absorbed the people of the 'known' world at that time similar to how God absorbs the sinner's life Today.

Some ask for the physical evidence to God’s triumph.  The thousands upon thousands of martyrs who went to their death, who did not fight to save themselves, are simple and obvious examples of evidence. 

Shortly after the kingdom of men was consumed by the kingdom of God, a mutation of sorts occurred.  Men in robes, who loved honor and prestige, began to forget their mission of love.  These began to bicker like kings they were sent to serve.  These became blinded by worldly wealth and infighting. 

This too was purposed by the Creator as lessons for us.