Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Okay- it’s the end of the month and I have yet to comment on the last quarter of last year.

Those of you who have read my posts near the end of the year- you saw that I was more bearish than bullish on the economy.

Some smart guys were beginning to say they felt the last 3 months of the year might show a 3.5 percent growth rate.

I did think these guys were too ‘exuberant’ [Greenspans Irrational exuberance- remember?] But I figured I’d wait and see- and sure enough the numbers are out- and I was ‘more’ right than them.

The economy grew at a 2.8 annualized rate in the last quarter- not good at all.

The Fed is now predicting that for 2012 we will see about 2.5 percent growth for the year.

And some are now saying that we might even slip below the 2 % mark in the first quarter.

Simply put- these numbers mean we are not going to see the economy heat up any time soon.

The Euro zone?

Yes- the credit rating agencies are all downgrading these shaky European economies. Greece is still trying to solve its debt crisis.

Let me give you a local example of how this affects our own economy.

Here where I live I am surrounded by Naval Air bases. I used to be stationed at the one in Kingsville- and I live about 200 yards from the one in Corpus Christi.

About 20 miles across the bay- if I walk down the block and look over- I can see the former base that was in Ingleside. This was a newer base that did all the training for our mine warfare guys.

So a few years ago this base fell victim to the base closure commission and it got wacked.

So the Port commissioners and the local govt. guys have been trying to sell the property and get a good company to utilize this valuable space.

As I have been reading the local news I saw that the last company that put down a non refundable million dollar down payment- they missed the deadline- 3 times- to come up with the rest of the cash.

I thought why would anybody put down a million dollar non refundable down payment on something that they don’t have the money for.

Then I saw that the investors did have the money- but some of it is tied up in the European banking system- and they can’t get a good exchange for the money into U.S. currency.


Everybody with any sense has already cashed in as much of their Euros as possible. These governments are at a point where they might go bust- Greece is trying to convince their bond holders to take a 60% hit on their bonds- and the payout will be longer- and at a lower rate.

So this small deal that did not go thru where I live- was indeed a victim of the Euro Zone crisis.

When you add this in with the less than stellar economic numbers- then I don’t see how we will mount any type of real recovery for this year.

Then why is the DOW up to around 12,600?

If you ask me- that’s a bubble.

But as I watched the news over the last month- I have seen many reports of how good the economic numbers were- and they even reported ‘good news’ about the jobs numbers.

I remember during the Bush years- when unemployment was around 5 %- some news folk reported it as bad.

We are at 8.5- and they are actually saying this is good.

So the media have a way of selling us stuff- stuff that we don’t- or should not want- and we buy.

I’ll end with one last example. A few years back during the first big financial crash of the current time- many people lost tons of money overnight- we have never made up the trillions that were wiped off the books.

Now- at the time it was common to read your 401 k statement and see a huge hit.

I saw/read a report how some investors were actually putting their money into money market accounts that guaranteed a loss.

Yes- the money market said up front ‘you put in 1 dollar- we will pay you less than a dollar when you take it out’.

Why would people do this?

Because they were told ‘geez- you can’t put your money under the bed’.

Well yes- if you took all your money and stuck in under the bed- over time inflation would eat up all your buying power- and your money would lose value.

But if you are putting it into an account- that says up front ‘we guarantee you that you will lose some value’ then you would be better off under the bed.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Monday, January 30, 2012


Kinda wanted to cover some contemporary issues going on in the ‘church world’ being we just spent a few weeks in the ancient history stuff.

But it might take too long- some current debates in Evangelical circles concern a recent round table discussion with T.D. Jakes- a man I like- but he got in some hot water, again- because of his background as a Pentecostal Oneness minister.

This group has disagreed with historic Christianity on the Trinity- and over the years some of the Reformed brothers [Protestants] have hit him hard on the issue.

So in the recent discussion it happened again- basically Jakes says he holds to the Trinitarian view today [One God- 3 Persons] though his background stated it by saying ‘One God- 3 manifestations’.

You say ‘gee John- doesn’t sound like something to kill each other over’- well- we do- trust me- we do.

I have known and been friends with Pentecostal Oneness brothers before- and I personally accept them as Christians.

No- I don’t use the words they use when defining the Trinity- but I don’t completely out and out reject them a total heretics.

I used to listen to Jakes- and for the most part I felt comfortable with him- the main reason I do not tune in to these guys anymore is the whole persona thing- ministries- ‘churches’ huge organizations- who for the most part are clearing houses for the well intended Pastors- but the entire image of the ministry becomes the persona of a man.

This type of atmosphere actually violates the principles we find in the bible- that the churches in the bible did not have the image/gifts of a person- no matter how good that person is- as the central organizing principle of the group.

Basically- in the bible- the churches were truly centered around the person of Christ.

And in many contemporary situations- well- everything [especially the ‘tithes’] usually goes to the promoting of the image of a person [TV- teaching materials- etc.].

And very often millions are spent promoting a person- which is a violation of the principles of leadership we find in the New Testament.

So anyway- I said that to simply say I always liked Jakes- and yes- as somewhat of a history buff- sure- I know the difficulty with his past connections [the actual term for the ‘heresy’ is called Modalism- which describes the belief that God is one who manifests in 3- they don’t say ‘3 persons’].

So I know the scoop- but the reason I don t watch/hear these men anymore is because I just get turned off by the whole ‘dial 1-800- Bishop’ type thing- I mean I like reading/studying from ‘real’ Bishops.

Men like N.T. Wright- former Bishop in the Church of England- or Bishop Sheen- a popular Catholic Bishop who you can catch on the tube every so often- yes- ‘real’ bishops in the sense that they are well versed in a wide field of learning- Philosophy- scholarship- church history- yeah- I like hearing Bishops.

But in today’s world- you have Bishops ‘ordaining’ Bishops by the boat loads- and when the way you contact them is thru a 1-800 number- well then I think we have a problem.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Today let’s finish up the study on the Protestant Reformation. We left off on Luther disputing with the church over the doctrine of how a person becomes just in the sight of God- is it by works or faith?

Now- to the surprise of many Protestants [and Catholics!] both sides agreed that a person cannot be justified by works.

Yes- the Catholic Church rejected what was known as Pelagianism. In the early centuries of the church there was a Catholic priest- named Pelagius- who taught that people had the ability within themselves to obey Gods law and become saved that way.

He rejected the doctrine of original sin and another famous bishop- Saint Augustine- would refute Pelagius and teach salvation comes by the Grace of God. The official Catholic position was to reject Pelagius and accept Augustine.

Okay- then where’s the difference?

The church council that spells it out is the Council of Trent [named after the Italian city where the council took place in the 1500’s- Trento].

This council is often referred to as the Counter Reformation. The church rejected the Protestant line- but also acknowledged the need for reform and made some changes.

This is the council where the church rejects Pelagianism- and also says the position of Luther [Justification by Faith ALONE] was flawed.

The church appealed to the New Testament letter of Saint James- where James uses an example from the life of Abraham [found in Genesis 22] where Abraham obeys God and is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar.

Of course this never happens- God was simply testing Abraham- but James says this act of obedience justified him in Gods sight.

James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not by faith ALONE’.

The argument from Rome was Faith played THE major role in justification- but was not sufficient by itself- there had to be righteous works eventually associated with it in order for God to say ‘you are just’ [saved].

Luther disagreed and said God justified Abraham before he had good works- we find this in Genesis 15. God says to Abraham ‘look- count all the stars- so shall your offspring be’ and Walla- the bible also says Abraham was justified in God's eyes the moment he believed the promise.

Who’s right?

Actually they both are.

I have taught this a few times over the years- and it would take too much time to re-do right now.

But I believe James and Paul [the 2 who debate this in the bible] are simply looking at different aspects of salvation/justification.

Paul emphasized faith- and James showed us how true faith always has works with it.

When you read the statements that came out from the council of Trent- some of them do seem to indicate that both sides might have been talking past each other at some points.

In the heat of the day they were too quick to condemn the other side- without really trying hard to achieve unity [like politics!].

The 6th session of Trent was the one where the church dealt with justification [how we become saved in Gods sight].

Rome made a distinction between mortal and Venial sin in the council- the church said that Baptism is the INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE of justification. Yet faith is the Root- Foundation and Initial act that justifies.

Rome also taught that Mortal sin kills the grace in the soul that brings justification- and when a person commits a mortal sin- they need the ‘2nd plank of justification’ in order to be brought back into a state of Grace.

This 2nd Plank is the Sacrament of Penance [confession]. Catholic Moral Theologians use an example to show the difference between Mortal and Venial sin.

Drinking- if you take a drink [alcohol] not a sin. If you get tipsy- Venial- and if you get flat drunk- mortal.

This is a true teaching by the way- not making this up.

Catholic scholars are not in total agreement on all the Mortal/Venial sins.

Some teach that missing Mass on Sunday is a Mortal sin.

I just threw this in to show you the debates that take place.

The teachings from Trent are referred to as Tridentine.

The Protestants [early on] rejected the belief that a person can lose Gods grace once he has it- later on the Protestants would divide- severely- over this teaching- Predestination and the Perseverance of the Saints.

But early on all the major Reformers did indeed teach this.

Luther believed in the doctrine of Predestination just as much- if not more- than John Calvin.

But sometimes in these history shows they get this wrong and say Luther and Calvin disagreed on it- that’s a common mistake that you hear every so often.

Luther actually wrote a book dedicated to the subject [The Bondage of the Will] Calvin never wrote a book solely on the subject.

Okay- as we end this brief study of the Protestant Reformation- you could also call it a primer on Catholic doctrine [short one].

Why is it important that we study this?

In John chapter 17 Jesus said that he desired unity for all of Gods people- and many of these divisions- which date back 500 years- are commonly misunderstood on both sides.

It is common in our day to run across an ex Catholic who might say ‘you know- I left the church because I don’t believe I need to confess to a priest’ or ‘the Catholic church teaches you are saved by works’.

The original Reformers did not have a problem with confession- the Lutherans carried the practice over into their communion.

And like I just showed you- the Catholic church rejected the doctrine of being saved ‘by works’ [Pelagianism] and simply emphasized the teaching found in the bible- the book of James- and focused more on James than Paul [who the protestants focus on].

So yes- there are still differences- but if we are not informed- then it makes it harder to strive for unity- and at the end of the day God does desire unity for all his people.

The other day I quoted the great Civil rights leader- MLK. In one of his famous speeches that’s played when we celebrate his life- you hear Martin say that not only was he seeking unity among the races- but also in the church.

He said he wanted to see Catholics and Protestants- as well as Blacks and Whites- sit down together- he referred to us all as Gods kids.

I think we should strive to achieve the desire of Martin- and Jesus.



Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I was going to finish the last post on the Protestant Reformation study we started last month- but we do have a few news items that I think we should cover.

First- for those of you who haven’t read my posts for a while- you need to know that I critique both Repubs and Dems- sometimes severely.

For instance I was [am] a very ‘anti war’ person. I felt the Iraq war- and the long land occupation in Afghanistan were bad mistakes.

I do feel we were indeed justified to ‘hit back’ after 9-11- but the massive ground wars- and all the various reasons given- well I just felt the strategy was flawed.

I also have sided with Progressives on immigration- I take a very non conservative- pro liberal view on immigration- almost to the degree of being a ‘Sanctuary City’ supporter- yeah- that bad.

So I say that to say this- when I critique the President- trust me- I have done it with both sides of the aisle.

Yesterday I read a scathing column by Maureen Dowd [NY Times] and she described the President as someone who was aloof- isolated and has surrounded himself with Chicago insider friends- who all tell him that the American people are not worthy of him.

Now- for whatever reason- just about all the articles Dowd has done this past year have been strongly criticizing Obama.

Dowd- as well as the whole N.Y. Times crew- are pretty liberal in their politics.

Then why do this?

Another NY Times reporter just put out a book on Obama- she said basically the same thing- and she covered the internal conflicts in the White House- things between Michele Obama and the staff [former chief of staff Rahm Immanuel].

The book [The Obama’s] was basically a tell all. She talked about some heated arguments that the staff had over Michele.

When Michele Obama was asked about the portrayal- she said that she’s tired of other people [White people] calling her an angry Black woman.

I heard Jodie say she did not understand why she said this- because in the book she does not bring up color- simply reported the facts.

The progressive media [liberal view] love to use the race card against those on the right [I am not on the right!] but if you dare use it against them- they become incensed [Geraldine Ferraro- Bill- Hillary Clinton- etc.]

So for various reasons- the more liberal media have decided to not back Obama the way they did at the start.

Now- the point here is not simply political gossip- but the reality of how much we see/read in the news is truly honest- and how much is spin that prevents the true story from coming out.

These past few weeks we have had some disturbing news about the so called Arab Spring countries.

Egypt held their first parliamentary elections and voted in a majority of Islamists. Now- many have said that sure- the Muslim Brotherhood has made great gains- but that’s ‘the will of the people’.

I heard former pres Jimmy Carter say this.

His team went over to monitor the elections [he has a group that does this] and they said ‘yes- the Muslims took over- but we must all respect the voice of the people- if that’s what the majority wants- then that’s a great thing’.

What’s wrong with this? The fact is the Muslim Brotherhood do want to institute Shariah law in the land.

Now- many have chosen to work with this group [Obama has] and the simple reality is they are a force and we will have to deal with them some day.

So fine- I understand.

But how many of us would be singing the praises of a right wing Christian group- who wanted to institute law based on the 10 commandments- and wherever this law is already enacted they execute gays- subjugate women- and even kill the women who commit ‘adultery’ [which in some cases means you were raped].

Now- that’s Shariah law. Would Carter be saying ‘well- if that’s what the Americans want- to vote in a bunch of right wing Christians who will do this- then we must respect that this is the voice of the people’.

What voice?

Where are the voices defending those who are being oppressed and killed under these regimes.

Our ‘dear friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain- they are all guilty of these human rights abuses- yet we are silent.

It so sad that Carter- and those in the media who I have heard praising the fact that this is ‘the voice of the people’.

It makes no difference if the majority wanted it- if what they want is still oppressive- then we should not be so quick to praise it.

I read 2 stories this week about Libya- the headlines were ‘Gadhaffi’s forces take back city’.


I thought the guy was dead.

Well yes- he is. But his side have regrouped and did take back a key city in the West- Banni Walid.

Now- for them to have done this is big news- but you wouldn’t know that by the coverage- because the media are not truly covering it [the articles I read were small and hidden in the back pages].

The other Libyan article was even more surprising- protestors rose up in the Eastern city of Ben Ghazi- a city that has been under Rebel Influence for many years- this is the eastern City that sparked the original protests.

People rose up and stormed the official government headquarters and ransacked the place.

The new leader of the country was hiding in the back.

Iraq- since we pulled out a few weeks ago- that country is rapidly descending into a Civil War and it looks like they will split up between the Kurds- the Sunni’s and the Shiites.

Hate to admit this- but Biden was right.

So- after this bad track record- all the places where we have backed the Arab Spring- they are worse off now than before- that’s a fact.

They are more unstable- the Christian population is in much more danger- and none of them have been able to elect and institute a better regime than the one they kicked out.

So what are we doing about that?

Nothing- instead we are continuing with our call for ‘you bad leaders need to step down’ [Syria].

Many people in Syria do not want Assad to go- many of the Christians in the country fear that if he topples- they will face the same persecution that their brothers are facing in Egypt.

When the Islamist parties take over- that’s terrible for the Christian minorities in these countries.

So why no big media coverage of the failures over these things?

It just would not look good for Obama in an election year.

But like I said at the top- some are growing tired of what they see as an aloof president [the liberal press said this- not the right] and as they grow tired they begin reporting the stuff- both the good and the bad.

I have no appetite for how many arguments Michele Obama had with Rahm Emmanuel- or how ‘depressed’ Obama is [the Times almost ran a story on this- they decided not to run it].

But I am concerned that we report the truth about the Arab Spring- that if the toppling of these leaders has lead to great instability- and the death of many Christians- then we should not be saying ‘well- this is the will of the people’.

Whether or not the majority agree to oppress the minority- it’s still wrong- and it’s a shame that the Western media won’t report it.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Last night we had another Repub debate. As the week wore on we were also treated to all the various views that divide the right from the left in our country.

Some elderly woman referred to Obama as a Kenyan Muslim during a Santorum rally.

John King ‘infamously’ began a debate by asking Newt whether or not his ex was telling the truth when she says he wanted an open marriage.

And Newt mentioned that Obama is a radical after his mentor Saul Alynski.

To those ‘in the know’ well- we have heard this name before- as a news consumer who comments on all things political- well I’ll admit I listen to all sides.

One of the biggest ‘sides’ to hear is Rush. He is the most influential radio host in the right wing world.

I also listen to the voices on the left- I watch Al Jazeera news [not left per se- but they air on Link TV- a progressive media station] as well as Gores Current TV network.

So over the last few years Alynski has come up a lot.

He is basically this guy who gave Rules- procedures to implement change on a big scale.

Many on the left used his book to try and change stuff- and Obama has been influenced by his writings before.

So when you drop the name- you’re basically playing into the narrative that Obama is a left wing radical.

Of course the left goes ballistic when ever some old white lady thinks Obama is Muslim ‘how dare anyone ever even think this!’

Why do some people [not me] think this?

This last year I have watched some on the left try to depict our President as a young Black kid who was brought up by a single mom- played basketball and hung out with his friends at the corner inner city park- and when this narrative is given- it’s contrasted with the rights ‘picture’ of Obama as a different type of person.

The left defends Obama against the rights false view of him.

Now- as someone who does not hate the Pres- and also has taken the Pres at his word on both the Muslim thing and the Birth Certificate thing- I must admit that some on the right have some ‘evidence’ to go by when they perceive Obama as a different type of person.

Now- when I say ‘different’ I mean the upbringing of Obama was not the classic ‘grew up in the inner city’ type upbringing. Now- I don’t use the ‘inner city’ story/view when I speak about our Pres- because not only is that an incorrect view- but those on the left that use it [MSNBC- Matthews] do not realize that their very use of the narrative is in itself racist.

For anyone- on the left r right- to try and defend a Black man by saying ‘look- he’s just like any other Black kid USA- hung out in the ghetto with his buddies’ geez- you call that a defense of the Black Man?

But the actual story of Obama is different- and there are certain aspects of it that do play into the Kenyan/Muslim theme.

First- the president was raised most of his life in Hawaii [not Chicago] and as a young kid he did live in Indonesia for a few years- Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.

He did indeed go to school with Muslim boys- and spent a few years in this type of environment.

Second- Obama said on national TV ‘My Muslim Faith’.

3rd- Hillary Clinton released a picture of Obama during the campaign that showed Obama in full Muslim garb.

4th- Obama wrote a book- Dreams of my Father- in which he explained his journey as a kid who grew up without his dad in the home- and how he later came to learn his father’s struggle- a different one than the Black Civil rights struggle in our country- but yet a struggle for the Black man to be free from Colonial rule.

Kenya- as many other African countries- was ruled by European powers for many years.

These Black families were actually raised with another man’s culture as theirs- that’s why in the war in Libya- you had Gadhaffi using mercenaries that came from the Sub Saharan part of the continent- and these Black fighters spoke French!

So Obama explained- not in a bad way- that he came to grips with his father’s struggle- called anti colonialism- and how he also came to respect his culture as he grew up.

Now- his dad of course is Muslim- he named Obama with an openly Muslim type name- and Obama has made statements that he is Muslim.

One more thing- before Obama started running for pres- he told an ambassador from another country [Egypt?] that his faith too was Muslim.

This political figure has stayed by this story till this day.

Okay- after reading all this- the question might be ‘how can anybody think he is not Muslim!’

Like I said- I give the pres the benefit of the doubt- but it would not be a stretch for some elderly White woman to think this- and when the media act like ‘where in the world would anybody ever get an idea like this- or how could anyone ever think that Obama might be ‘anti- colonial’.

Well you can see where these ideas come from- and they are not as far out there as some would make you think.

Okay- these things- and the medias unwillingness to truly vet Obama during his run for pres- I mean Obama said in one of his books that he did ‘a little blow’ in college [Cocaine].

There was never one question on ‘where did you get the blow from’ or ‘how long did you use’ or ‘how much is a little’.

I mean it is illegal to do- and if you open up a pres debate by asking ‘your ex wife says’ well than you might want to ask- just once- how did you obtain the blow.

But the media steered clear of anything that might be deemed racially tinged- and they gave Obama a pass.

So that’s why the Gingrich line works so well- his attack against the medias love affair with the pres- most discerning news watchers see this.

But wait- if you only watch MSNBC- you would think that Obama grew up in the inner city- shooting hoops with his buddies at the corner park- yeah- if you watch MSNBC that’s what you might think- and you wouldn’t even know that a thought like that is racist.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1779- KEN ANDERSON [district judge- Williamson county- TX] TEXAS SIZED INJUSTICE

Yesterday I read another Texas ‘Justice’ [injustice] story and thought it was time to do another post on this problem.

The case was about a disabled deaf man- who only spoke thru sign language [can’t really defend yourself that way in court].

He was accused of molesting a child and sent to prison for many years. Eventually another person who had committed multiple child molestation crimes was found to be guilty instead.

It took many years for the real evidence to come out- and they finally freed the innocent man.

The statement from the prosecutor who wrongly convicted him said ‘that’s what we do in Texas- we free the innocent and put the guilty in prison’. Huh?

And just how did the innocent get put in prison? You framed the guy- that’s how.

Another famous case is the case of Michael Morton. I have read abut 3-4 articles on this case this past year.

Morton was a young man married to his high school sweetheart. He had a young son and one night he went to work and when he got home the next day he found his wife- dead in their home.

He called the cops and also reported that her purse was stolen.

The investigators also found a bloody bandana in a field behind the home and the 3.5 year old son told the police that another man killed his mom- not his dad.

Despite all of this- prosecutor KEN ANDERSON- got a conviction on the guy and sent him away.

They said he killed his wife because she refused to have sex with him [how in the heck did they come up with that?]

He always maintained his innocence and after many years of fighting to get the bandana tested for DNA- KEN ANDERSON fought to keep it from being tested- they found the DNA of another man- who had already committed similar crimes- on the bandana.

The lawyers for Morton also found out that the prosecutor withheld the fact that the son told the investigators that another person killed his mom.

Even the mother of the victim said she thought her son and law was innocent.

Morton was recently released- he is now 57- he was a young man when he went to prison.

His son- and his family all went on with their lives without him- thinking he was the killer of the mom.

It was also revealed that the cops knew that the wife’s credit card- the card the husband said was stolen- was indeed used a few days after the murder.

The prosecutor- now a district judge- obviously engaged in deception in this case.

Yet he sits on the bench today- still acting in his capacity as a judge.

These past few years as I have read lots of the cases of innocent people being framed by Texas courts- I have come to see that in many of these cases- when the prosecutors take a stance in court and say ‘this man killed his wife’ or ‘this man molested this child’ when they do this- and it’s an innocent man they are accusing- the bible does indeed call this a serious sin.

It is baring false witness- under oath.

Now- many Christians- even those in these positions- do not realize the seriousness of this offense.

This act of taking the position of the accuser is not a biblical principle of justice found in scripture.

The biblical system of law and courts found in the bible- the one instituted by God- does speak about having 2 or more witnesses in a case- and of course we have a judge who decides- but there is no accuser- who actually makes a false charge against an innocent man- yet this act happens a lot in our current system.

I believe cases like Morton’s should carry criminal penalties against the accuser/prosecutor- especially if it is found out later that he engaged in unlawful activity to obtain the conviction- and then did all in his power to suppress the evidence from coming out.

Anderson fought for 7 years to prevent the bandana from being tested.

It is inconceivable for Anderson to have been aware of the use of the dead woman’s card- and the fact that other witnesses said there was a strange man roaming the area that night- and then to have the bloody bandana found in the field.

For all of this evidence to have been known by him- and to still go after the husband- it is truly criminal in my view.

As Christians- yes we believe in justice and law- but to convict a disabled deaf man- because he can’t really defend himself- or to send an innocent man away for all those years- for others to have raised his son- this is not just- this is unjust.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Okay- hate to carry over the last post- but I figured we gave Schettino a day to gather his thoughts- maybe realize the error of his way and man up.

So as I watched the news coverage- the Japanese animated videos that depict the Captain in a life boat- yelling back to the ship ‘stay on board’ and then the animation of him walking the plank- I realized things are not playing well for my Italian friend.

Then the last straw- word came out that Schettino told the authorities that he was not abandoning ship- but as the boat rocked he slipped and fell into the lifeboat.

Oh my poor Schettino- please stop- for the love of our homeland- please!

Okay I saw the ‘big’ news of the day- Obama decided not to go ahead with the Canadian oil sands pipeline.

This pipeline was a deal that was in the works for a few years. Canada has lots of this type of oil and they wanted to pipe it down to the gulf states [I think here in Tx.?] so we could refine the stuff.

This last year it became a hot button issue for both Repubs and the Pres.

The Repubs said it would be a jobs maker- and also help with our oil supply.

Some Dems [environmentalists] said it would be a bad thing. Though you did have some union guys who wanted it.

As a news watcher/reader- what most of the insiders thought was that the deal was going to pass- and the Obama administration did ‘signal’ to Canada that the deal would be on- just wait a little while [politics].

Of course if you have a major deal like this- the company does need to know ahead of time so they can make the preparations and all.

So when Obama said no yesterday- it was a surprise. Canada put out a statement and said they would re submit the application- and they ‘expected’ that it would be approved quickly.

They sounded mad- like they did indeed get the assurance that it would go thru- and then it didn’t.

Why did the Pres say no?

Well he says the 2 months ‘limit’ on his decision [imposed by congress] was not enough time to study whether or not it was an environmentally safe deal.

It should be noted that the EPA- who this last year has been known to make ‘over’ protective decisions- did approve this plan.

The Presidents job council recently recommended that it should pass.

And some pro Obama supporters did want it.

Then why?

The Pres. has made the decision [this has been reported] to go hard this campaign year against congress- kind of stir up his base and show himself as someone not to be pushed around- so it is possible that’s what he did here.

Real big deal? Not really- but political.

While this deal wasn’t as great as those on the right made it sound- it also wasn’t a bad thing.

Right now we are very close to a shooting war with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Why?

1-5th of the world’s oil is shipped thru this waterway [from the Persian Gulf].

So the U.S. has a Naval port off Bahrain- and we have treated this waterway as a national defense issue- that if Iran [or any other nation] ever threatened to close the waterway- that we would go to war if necessary to defend it.

Okay- just as a policy- say if I told you that there was gas for your car down the street- that the field down your block had a lot of gas- but we need to dig it up and it might be a mess- maybe it might pollute the air down the block- but that’s the cost for the stuff.

Then you say ‘wait- what about that field across the lake- if we dig there it won’t look as bad as the field down the block’.

Okay- but the owner of that field actually hates you- they will use some of the money you will pay to promote terrorists who will someday kill your kids- Oh- and the lake is filled with dangerous stuff- so we will also have to patrol the lake for ever- just to make sure no one stops the oil ships crossing back over.

So as an overall policy- we have chosen to limit the environmental danger- and the price way pay for this is very high.

So we as a nation have to decide what’s more vital- the lives of our kids on these ships- or the risk of a possible oil spill from a pipe.

These issues usually get lost on the right or the left- but if the country can’t have a serious discussion- then in the end we all will lose.

We will be just like Schettino- looking for that life boat.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


By now I’m sure you have all heard the audio conversation between the captain of the Italian cruise ship and the Coast guard.

As a news watcher- when I first heard the tragic story- I thought ‘geez- let me give the Italian brother a break’ you know- as an Italian myself- yeah- I want to root as much as possible for the home land.

I’m still mad that I don’t have a Churchill or FDR figure in my past history.

Sure- I’ve read the history- and for a short time as a kid I tried to convince myself that El Duce had some honorable qualities- but heck- who was I kidding.

So as the story broke- I heard Captain Schettino’s side of it. He insisted he acted heroically- that he was the last man off the ship and he struck something in the water that no one knew was there [Italian Loch Ness?]

But the audio recording told the whole thing. Yes- I sat in anticipation- hoping for the best- maybe hearing the Captain saying ‘I refuse to abandon ship- for the love of homeland and country’ heck- you never know.

But as I heard the Coast guard telling the captain ‘get back on the ship- what are you doing’.

Schettino said it was dark and they had no lights.

The guard says ‘you have people stuck on the ship- some are dying’.

Captain ‘how many are on the ship’?

Guard ‘I don’t know Schettino- you are supposed to be telling me’!

Damn it Schettino- damn it.

Okay- don’t want to make fun- yes- it’s tragic- and people have died. But obviously we need to have some better policing of these cruise ship guys- it seems as if they have gone off course before- doing a favor for a fellow crew member- and these guys messed up big time.

Are there any famous ship wreck stories in the bible? Sure- Acts chapter 27.

The apostle Paul is on his way to Rome- he is a prisoner at the time.

The ship they are on gets caught up in a storm- things look bad.

Paul prays and tells his shipmates ‘don’t worry- an angel appeared to me and assured me that we will all survive’.

They try to last the storm out by staying afloat from shore- then after a few days they try to make it for land- to beach the ship.

But some of the crew try a daring stunt- they pretend they are going to lower some anchors but instead they are lowering their little get away lifeboats [yes- they were pulling a Schettino!]

And Paul tells the Roman soldier ‘look- the angel said we will all make it- but the deal will only work if everyone stays on the ship’.

They cut the ropes to the lifeboat and head for shore.

On the way they hit a reef and the ship gets stuck and starts to break up.

They abandon ship- and swim to shore.

Okay- good story.

By the way- this chapter gives lots of historical events and places.

A few years ago an archeologist read this story form the bible and traced down the exact spot where the wreck might be- 2 thousand years later.

He found the actual anchors to the boat.

So this week hasn’t been the best for the reputation of my homeland- I mean the S and P just can’t wait to downgrade the debt- and then we have to hear old brother Schettino being rebuked by the Coast Guard ‘Schettino- okay- get on our boat- but your gonna be in big trouble’.

Yes Schettino- you sure are.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Yesterday I caught the 15th Repub debate [too many!] and you had the questioners and pres. hopefuls try their best.

Juan Williams [the Black Fox news guy] did ask a question that has come up before on a reference Newt uses ‘Obama is the food stamp pres.’

Now- when this first came out- Newt and others defended the phrase- they said that more people have been put on food stamps under Obama than any other pres.

The other view said that Newt is playing to the racist crowd- in an underhanded way- and the term is really a race thing.

Okay- what do I think? I have no idea- nor does anybody else. So instead of insisting it’s a racist thing- just let the people judge.

Those in the Black community will be voting over 90% for Obama- is this just because he is Black?

Some say ‘no- we vote Dem historically’ okay- but in politics- if you had 97 % of Whites refusing to vote for a Black man- well you would call that racist.

This past Friday the S and P downgraded 9 European countries debt. France, Italy- Spain- a few more.

Now- this was no surprise- but some were hoping it would not come so soon.

Then why did it happen?

The ratings agency said the actions the Euro Zone countries are taking are simply not sufficient enough to deal with the problem.

The numbers also came out on our trade deficit- they showed that our sales to Europe went down a lot- more than expected. So the growing Euro recession is indeed going to have an effect on the U.S. economy.

One of the nations that got downgraded was France. France and Germany are the 2 biggest contributors to the bailout fund for the other nations.

Frances downgrade will make it more expensive for them to borrow- and will put pressure on the bailout fund. Germany was not downgraded.

As I watch the news- survey the scene for this coming year- I see a lot of denial- in politics- economics- etc.

I see both sides of the aisle justifying their skewed views in order to promote- or attack- the side they don’t like.

I saw a clip of some sick guy in a wheel chair- weighed about 80 pounds- he’s wheeled up to Romney. He's asking him a question at some campaign rally.

You can barely hear the guy- he’s sick and weak and frail. The question ‘do you really want to put me in jail because I need to smoke weed to live’.

After a few more times repeating the question- Romney catches on.

He does tell the man- in a nice way- that he does not support medical marijuana.

So as Romney walks away- his liberal buddy shouts ‘are you going to walk away from a man who’s in a wheel chair and ignore his plight’!

Yea- you tell him Mr. righteous.

Romney says he didn’t ignore him- he answered him.

Then you had the little girl ask Bachman why she did not want her 2 mommies to love each other.

And the other night- one of the major news networks was covering the gay marriage issue- they showed 2 of the sweetest grandmas- you know- they were in love.

I mean these nice ladies looked like they were about to make homemade candy apples for the trick or treaters.

They were the example they found to show us how evil Santorum and all the other ‘anti gay marriage’ folk are.

What’s wrong with all this? These lopsided ways to showcase a story- to start with either the worst/best example of a thing [the anti gay groups also show the gay parade marchers- in drag- when they discuss the subject] this is pitting one side against another- and it does not help the conversation.

About 6 months ago I was watching MSNBC and I heard Matthews talking about the pres campaign. He said it is possible that if Romney gets nominated and some on the right [Evangelicals] don’t support him because he belongs to this ‘weird’ religion- that he might be a flawed candidate.

He then went on and said that Romney’s name is not Mitt- its Willard.

I guess its true- I really don’t care to check.

Then as the weeks went by- he kept talking about Romany as Willard- he pushed on his Mormon faith- and last night I heard him say ‘watch this response Romney gives- I mean- he’s just weird- that’s the only way to describe him’.

Ah- he waited all these months- thinking he’s secretly sending the White House messages- and if they don’t pick them up- darn- Mathews will carry the load himself.

Mathews was incensed when people used the middle name of the president- his description of ‘Willard’ and his religion as ‘weird’ would never fly if you were talking about a Muslim.

As the year progresses- I think we would all do well to try and focus on the actual positions people have- don’t read too much into the paranoid scenarios- from the right or the left.

I will end with one more example. Bob Herbert- N.Y. Time’s columnist. During the Obama campaign tried to ‘expose’ the secret racist messages that were tied into the opposing commercials [run by Bill and Hillary].

In one commercial they showed you a picture of the Washington Monument- and a few other historic sites.

Herbert went on to say that the showing of ‘this structure’ [it’s a tall structure- ‘sticking out’ into the empty sky].

Herbert said that the subliminal message was ‘watch out for the Black man- Obama- because he- like all Blacks- has one thing on his mind’.

Of course you see what he thinks the showing of the structure meant.

So as we navigate the year- thru the Willard’s and the dying wheel chair pot smokers- let’s hear both sides and try and simply choose our candidate based on these things- not on his color- or his religious views- or on any other of a number of accusations made by the opposing side.

We just celebrated Martin Luther King day- he was a great man who taught non violent protests- who said we should judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin- I couldn’t agree more.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Let’s do a little review today. I know the history posts go a little long sometimes- and many Christians do not see the value in studying church history.

But I have found over the years that a lot of independent type churches- good men- good people- but cut off from the broader church- well these churches have a tendency to get off in a rut- a particular doctrine or style of teaching- and after a while it becomes impossible to get these good church folk back on the balanced course.

A few examples. Many years ago- as a young Pastor- I had lots of good Pastor friends who too were doing their best to do what they felt God wanted.

At the time- I began having difficulty with many of the most popular interpretations of the bible that these good men were using.

After a while I realized that some of the stuff was so off course- that if they didn’t make some major course corrections at the time- that they were going to end up spending their entire Pastorate teaching stuff that is out right false.

I have talked a lot about this over the years- and the examples are too numerous to cover them all- but a good example is the ‘Camel going thru the eye of a Needle’ verse.

One time Jesus and his men were going thru town and a young rich guy asks Jesus what he must do to be saved.

A pretty straight forward question- right to the point.

Jesus tells the guy to keep the law- the guy asks which ones.

Ah- now you’re digging yourself in brother.

So Jesus says to love God and his neighbor- these are the top ones.

He asks ‘and who is my neighbor’?

Jesus goes on and gives an explanation- and he also tells the guy to go and sell all he has and give it to the poor- and follow him.

The guy goes away sad because he was rich.

Then Jesus says ‘it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a Camel to go thru the Eye of a Needle’.


The disciples [I think Peter?] say ‘then who can be saved’?

Jesus says with men it is impossible- but not with God- with God all things are possible.

[just a quick side note- I haven’t read all these stories in a while- trust me- they are all in the bible- but I might have mixed a few together- but the main point stays the same]

Okay- in context- what could Jesus be saying about the camel and the needle?

It sure seems like he’s using a figure of speech that would mean ‘look- the guy is too attached to his money to fully give himself over to being a follower of me- maybe down the road he will change- but he’s not ready yet’.

Seems reasonable to me- don’t you think?

But wait- in the group of pastors/teachers that were popular at the time- one of the main teachings was how to get rich- and they saw financial increase as the main thing- I mean that’s what they focused on all the time.

So what do you do with verses like these?

You simply change them- you make them say what you want.

So the ‘true’ explanation for the Camel and the Needle became ‘the Eye of the Needle is the name of a low passage way thru the wall into the city- and the merchants- if they have lots of stuff- well the Camel has to stoop low to get thru’.

Aha- so what seems to mean ‘rich folk will have a hard time making the kingdom’ really means something else- as a matter of fact- it means the opposite- because the Camels that have to ‘scooch’ belong to the owners who have a lot of goods- thus the Camel has to get low.

Okay- maybe as rank amateurs this stuff was not the unpardonable sin- but many of these men are still teaching this type of stuff- and this one example is the tip of the iceberg- I could go on for a long time quoting all them but that’s not the point for now.

The main point is- if Christians separate themselves from the broader church- not just talking about ‘going to church’ but talking about the broad understanding that the people of God have- the books and teachings of those who have gone before us- not just one small group- but the whole community- then we will avoid these kinds of pitfalls.

As we do a few more posts in the coming weeks on church history- we will see this was one of the things restored by the Protestants Reformers during the 16th century.

Luther restored what’s referred to as the Literal Sense- that when you read the bible- you should be able to take it at face value- as much as possible.

Sure- you also want to ‘hear God’ speak in a personal way- but if what your hearing is the exact opposite of what the text is saying- well then we do have a problem.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Friday, January 13, 2012


So we end the week with Haley Barbour releasing killers- the media showing- over and over again- a viral video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers- and the Repubs accusing Romney of being a ‘Vulture’ capitalist pig.

Let’s start with the most important one first- last night I saw the Marine video- after a minute or 2 of thinking about it- and hearing Hillary and others decry the ‘outrageous action’ and saying that these Marines will be upheld to the highest standard of law- I thought ‘what a bunch of hypocrites’.

Yeah- we- as a nation- send these young kids to war- some do 3 or 4 terms over there- we are telling them ‘you go kill this enemy’- they often see their buddies getting killed.

They also see kids maimed- our guys coming back without all their body parts.

And in some cases- like the present court case against the soldiers at Haditha [a possible case where our guys killed some civilians] they do get things wrong.

But the fact that one of the most dehumanizing acts a person can engage in- the taking of another’s life- the fact that we ask these guys to do this- and then become outraged that they urinated on some dead bodies- well yes- they blew it- they made it more dangerous for our other men over there- I got all that.

But the media- who keep showing the ‘darn’ video- they are not helping.

Right now you have an Egyptian Christian going to trial because he posted a picture of Mickey and Minnie- Mickey had a beard and Minnie a veil.

So in Egypt- they now see this as a crime. Have you seen the silly image on the tube? Of course not- because the media know that the showing of the image might cause ‘outrage’ in the Muslim community- and that might lead to the deaths of people.

Then why do they feel so free to keep showing the stupid stunt the Marines did- surely the showing of this video will cause outrage in Muslim lands and lead to the deaths of people.

Yes- the guys did wrong- maybe they should face some type of military discipline- but the calls for prison are wrong- they ‘pissed’ on dead bodies- wrong- bad- especially in the Muslim world- but the act of taking their lives in the first place- the act we ask our young men to engage in- that by nature lowers a person’s view of another group.

Yes- professionals should be able to distinguish between the enemy and the degrading of another person- but in practice this distinction isn’t always so easy- so let’s punish the men- in a way commensurate with the act- but jail? No way.

Okay- we were also treated to the public hysteria over killers walking the streets of Mississippi- you know- Barbour [Governor] let out all the rapists- child molesters and killers!

Are we seeing somewhat of a political overreaction? Sure. Did he pardon some people that should not have been pardoned? Probably.

But you have some of the opposing political figures in the state- saying that they are trying to track the killers down and they can’t find them.

Wow- you mean all Barbour’s gang are on the loose- stalking women and children right now?

All governors have in fact pardoned killers in the past. Now- should this act be done sparingly? Yes. Because you are indeed wiping the record clean- and in cases of sexual assault- well the public might not know who they are dealing with [like getting hired at a school or something].

But in truth- about 90 % of the guys pardoned were already free- and many of them were out of prison for years. The pardon allows them to find jobs [because many can’t get work when the rap sheet shows up] and maybe become an asset to society in some way.

So not all the pardons- are these 200 killers out on the run! They were not accurately describing the thing- and the Dem. Attorney General who keeps going on the air saying they are doing their best to get the killers- but they ‘hit the ground running’ well he’s simply playing the game.

And let’s end with ‘the Vulture’. Yes- Gingrich and Perry have gone after Romney and they pulled out the Capitalist Pig card.

They are attacking Romney over his years at Bain Capital- because he was a Corporate Raider and he cost people their jobs.

Then some on the Right have gone after those who are making this attack- they are saying that conservatives should not be making a charge like this- because all Romney [or corporate raiders] do is simply a part of Capitalism- and should not be questioned.

Who’s right?

The movie they are using as an example is Wall St. - they are kinda saying that the picture the attackers are trying to present is one where Romney looks like Gordon Gecko.

I think a better movie would be Pretty Woman. If you remember- Richard Gere played the role of a corporate raider- and this movie really tells the story better [though the movie is about a prostitute!]

Gere comes to town to shut down a shipping business [actually builds ships!] and during the process he sees the point of view of the older owner of the business- and Gere instead says let’s try and keep this business open- yes- to make money- but also to fulfill the role of being a good corporate public servant- that does care about the workers as well as the stock holders.

This idea is noble- and I think in some ways we should bring this type of ‘just thinking’ into the Capitalist picture.

Now- not all ‘profit’ making is wrong- we know that. And if there comes a time that a business has to shut the doors because that’s the only way for other parts of the investing firm to be viable- okay- that’s fine.

But there is nothing wrong with asking ‘capitalist pigs’ to not only see the bottom line- but to also view the worker as an asset- and trying to keep their jobs should also be a goal of business- not just cash.

And there are many C.E.O.’s who do teach this- years ago I read Stephen Covey’s books- and he does talk about this.

So all in all- there is some truth to the attacks- to ask the question.

Okay- that’s it for now- lets pray for these Marines- they are taking lots of heat- and sure- maybe they screwed up big time- but they did nothing worthy of prison or court martial- and we should all know that.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Let’s do another post on the Protestant Reformation. I’ll probably only do a few more before I transition into another study.

By the way- all the studies I do thru out the year are posted in the February posts of the following year.

Okay- last we left off Luther was just beginning to butt heads with the church [Tetzel] over the abuse of the sale of indulgences that was going on in Germany.

In a previous post I mentioned how the priest- Tetzel- was selling these ‘get out of Purgatory’ type coupons in the area where Luther operated out- Saxony.

Actually- Tetzel never entered Saxony itself- but was selling these out of a bordering city- and many of Luther’s students/parishioners were being hoodwinked into spending their money to rescue a loved one out of Purgatory.

Tetzel is known for a jingle he started in connection with the sale of the indulgence- it goes ‘as soon as a coin in the coffer rings- a soul in Purgatory springs’- ouch!

Like I said before- the church never taught this- they did teach the Treasury of Merit [previous post] but the way Tetzel used it was a real abuse of the teaching of the church at the time.

Now- Luther responds to the abuse by writing the famous 95 thesis. This is the act that is often associated with the launching of the Reformation- the act that got the ball rolling.

The 95 thesis were simply 95 questions challenging the whole practice of the sale of indulgences- there was no mention of the doctrine of Justification by Faith- which will become the trumpet sound that springs out of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther takes these questions- written in Latin- and nails them to the university church door at Wittenberg. Sometimes while reading church history this ‘nailing to the door’ is seen as a sort of vandalism - you know- ‘he nailed them to the door!’

In actuality Luther was simply using the system of the day that one scholar would use in order to bring up an official point of contention with the church- Luther wrote the Thesis in Latin- which was the scholars language- not the language of the common man.

But Luther’s students quickly translated the Thesis into the vernacular [German] and it was said that in 2 weeks the paper made it into every village of Germany.

The challenge was a spark in the lives of many Christians who also believed the church was off track and that someone needed to rebuke her- and they picked Luther as the man for the job.

Now- the Catholic church wanted Luther to go to Rome and discuss the situation there- Luther’s friends warned him not to go- so they agreed to meet- a few times- in Germany.

The first meeting was in 1518 at Heidelberg- Luther actually gave a great defense of his argument and convinced some other top Catholic scholars that he was right [as a side note- the church had already scheduled this meeting because of a controversy that rose up between the Augustinian order of monks and the Dominicans. They were debating over which philosophy was more consistent with church teaching- Nominalism or Realism- for those of you who have read the posts this past year- I taught this when doing our posts on philosophy].

One man- Martin Bucer- wrote a stirring account of Luther- Bucer would later influence another young Swiss priest with Reformation teachings- his name is John Calvin.

As a side not Calvin will become one of the 3 big heavy hitters of the 16th century Reformation [Ulrich Zwingli is the 3rd].

Luther will meet again in Augsburg- and debate the leading Catholic scholar of the day- Cardinal Cajetan.

Then he goes to the city of Leipzig- and debates the leading German scholar- Johann Eck.

And his last meeting with the church will be at the famous Diet of Worms [pronounced- Vurmtz] and it will be here that Luther makes his last stand and officially will break with the church and launch the Protestant Reformation.

It should be noted that Luther held what we call a High Church position for most of this time- he still saw the church at Rome- and the Pope- as a legitimate expression of true Christianity- his beef was what he saw as an abuse of the system- by the priest Tetzel.

As time progressed- the other beliefs of Luther- founded upon the bible- did come into contention with Rome.

The main disagreement eventually became the teaching in the bible called Justification by faith. I have written a study on the topic on the blog- I have also written a bible study on the book of Romans and Galatians.

For those of you who can- try and read Romans chapters 2-4 and Galatians 2-3- these are the key chapters that cover the teaching.

Down the road I will cover the official teaching of both the Protestants and the Catholics on the doctrine of justification- the Catholic Council of Trent- referred to as the Counter Reformation- spells out the official teaching of Rome- and there are a few papers put out by the Reformers that explain their belief.

Since the 16th century Reformation there have been efforts made by Protestants and Catholics to bridge the gap as much as possible- to try to come to some common language since the historic split.

I like some of the efforts that have been made- and recently both groups put out a statement that jointly said we all believe that we are saved by Gods grace thru Christ- that’s good.

But as we get into some of the actual discussion- you will see the points at which the 2 sides disagreed- and the main one was on the act- the actual thing that happens- when a person is declared just- the Reformers said it takes place when a person has faith- believes- the Catholic church said it takes place at baptism- water baptism.

This- as well as a few other things- will be a defining distinction between the 2.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John