Saturday, April 30, 2011

Enough Faith to Hate, But Not To Love?

Do we Christians enough religion to hate, but not enough to love?

Christian truth is revealed in strange, even weird ways. Take the entertainer and comedian Emo Philips. He has been on the world scene for over 25 years. I caught some of his early appearances on the David Letterman television talk show.

Then I read something from a church bulletin of a Emo Philips skit. It was a revised version of one of his stand-up comedy routines about a couple of hot-hearted religious believers.

I looked up the original on YouTube and began to tinker with his gig. I have shamelessly taken his work of humorous art and painful truth as a lesson for all of us religious folk. Here is my edited version, with the names changed, to help religious Texans of a particular persuasion, to better understand the moral of the tale. Here goes:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it! --- There's so much to live for!"

He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" He said, "Baptist!"

I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Southern Baptist or Northern Baptist?" He said, "Southern Baptist." I said, "Me too! Are you Moderate Southern Baptist, or a Fundamentalist Southern Baptist?”

He said, “Fundamentalist!” I said “Me too! Are you J. Frank Norris Fundamentalist or a moderate Cooperative Baptist?” He said, "J. Frank Norris Fundamentalist." Shaken by his reply, I said, "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off the bridge.

We church-going folks don’t act like that, do we? We have more gracious ways of putting down those who disagree with us.

Long before Emo Phillips, Johathan Swift (remember him from “Gulliver’s Travels”) stung Christian believers with: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."

Charles Caleb Colton (English writer and cleric, 1780-1832) was as popular and insightful as Swift in his time. Colton wrote short essays on conduct. He published a cheap edition titled: “Many Things in Few Words, Addressed To Those Who Think.”

One of Colton’s maxims: "Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live for it." (Such an attitude curtailed his church ministry somewhat.)

I’m convinced, except for the radical fringe, Christian people are God-fearing folks and lovers of the upward Way. They seldom beat up on those who disagree with them.

What Christ shared was backed up by a spotless, perfect life (of which we lack). My experience has been that we are still a work in progress. Splitting hairs with other believers is a poor use of our time, talents and doesn’t help the blood pressure. To my knowledge, the believers I have been blessed to know seldom intentionally push anyone off a bridge.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Good Friday Thoughts

Random Good Friday Thoughts

According to the lunar calendar today is designated as Good Friday. What was ‘good’ about the crucifixion death of Jesus of Nazareth? How could such an unjustified, cruel execution be considered in any way as ‘good.’

Roman Catholic historians explain the now obsolete Latin words ‘pious’ or ‘holy,’ not ‘good,’ was the original name of the commemoration. So, Good Friday was known in the beginning as Holy Friday or Great Friday. Something was lost for the common folk when the name of this observance was translated into 14th or 15th century English as Good Friday.

The ‘good’ in the event relates to those who believe Jesus’ sacrifice brought all of sinful humanity into fellowship and right relationship with God – that is, if they believed Jesus is who he said he was.

If it is so important to make a special day of the Son of God’s death, why is there nothing said of such an annual occasion for centuries? Why did not the ancient scriptures speak of such a time and why did the translations of those words into the languages of the world not comment on the need for such a ‘rememberance’?

Paul and other writers of the New Testament, focus on the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion, while saying almost nothing about the event itself. No need to do that. The first readers of the New Testament knew the horror of such a death. They knew what it was like for someone to be crucified. What little we do know of death by crucifixion was not a happy event.

The site of the crucifixion and the tomb were not considered by the peoples of Jerusalem for hundreds of years as anything special. There were no special services until the Byzantium rulers up in Constantinople saw it as a great pilgrim-tourist-spot.

Paul wrote the crucifixion of Jesus was a great “stumbling block to Jews” (First Corinthians 1:23). It was not something important to anyone but God and the new ‘Way of Christ’ people. To God, Jesus’ death made possible the ability to be right with God. Paul wrote in this connection, “let those of us who are mature be thus minded” (Philippians 3:15).

Early Orthodox Churches had elaborate festivities and services for the day, beginning the night before. In England the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer did not specify a particular rite to be observed on Good Friday.

Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, Good Friday was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected by the faithful.

In the United States, 11 states observe Good Friday as a state holiday. In many English-speaking countries, such as Singapore, most shops are closed for the day and television and radio advertising are limited. (That would make it a REAL Good Friday.)

In Hong Kong and Macau, all businesses and government offices are closed for a public holiday, even though both are now a part of the People’s Republic of China. Hot cross buns were a tasty treat in former British colonies.

For a different view, the Muslim Koran (Sura 4,157-158) mentions the crucifixion of Jesus in one verse which reads: “... and they (the Jews) have said, “Verily we have slain Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God. But they slew him not, neither crucified him, but it seemed to them as if (or: he seemed to them to be crucified). They did not kill him with certainty. No, God took him up unto himself.” (Sura 4, 157-158. For Muslims, translations are not considered authoritative. Only the Arabic Koran is considered holy.)

Dr. Christine Schirrmacer’s 1997 article on the Muslim meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion, writes: “… the Koran does not even mention or hint at the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus as the salvation of His people. It is very likely that Muhammad, who came into contact with heretical monophysites [believed Jesus had but one nature] and other Christian sects of his time, had never heard a true, biblical representation and explanation of the meaning of the crucifixion, which is therefore not to be found in the Koran.”


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The lie that won’t die, just keeps being revived.......

Multi-billionaire Donald Trump took the opportunity to promote his NBC-TV show on the NBC program, Today, to revive the ‘birther’ tale about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.

The former half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, jumped in immediately to praise Trump’s search for ‘birther truth.’ Here are her very own words on the subject:

"I appreciate that the Donald wants to spend his resources in getting to the bottom of something that so interests him and many Americans... He's not just throwing stones from the sidelines, he's digging in. He's paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million not to show his birth certificate, so more power to him."

(It should be noted here: The ‘birther’s’ claim that Obama has spent "millions" of dollars defending all the ‘birther’ claims, when in reality Obama's personal attorneys have appeared only in a very, very few number of cases.)

The lie that refuses to die continues. The rumors that Barack Obama “refused to produce his birth records” began three years ago during his run for the presidency. The gossip really turned into weirdsville when it was hinted that Barack Obama was not only not born in the United States, but that he was a Muslim. (Apparently it is politically correct to call Barack Obama a “Muslim-lover” than the “N-word-lover” used against colorblind people such as former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and former President Jimmy Carter.)

In June of 2008 the Obama presidential campaign released his Certification of Live Birth. Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii, where he was born, made this information available. On the form his father is listed as African and his mother as Caucasian.

To many of the shrewd conspiracy mavens, upset a black man was running for president, countered the truth by proclaiming that the Hawaii government released document was not a “real” certification of his birth.

To counter such ignorance, newspaper files were searched and both the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin archives show his birth announcement on the “Marriage Applications Births-Deaths” page, August 4, 1961 to read: “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, son, August 4.” It even had their residential address.

It wasn’t long until a Philadelphia lawyer, Philip Berg, challenged Barack Obama as not eligible to be president. A federal judge dismissed the complaint in a 34-page opinion that Berg’s claims “ventured into the unreasonable” and were “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.” All similar court cases have been dismissed.

But the lie would not die even after Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, wrote he had seen the original records and verified Barack Obama was a natural-born American citizen.

Donald Trump said he was sending his own investigators to Hawaii to find the truth. At least these Raymond Chandler-Elmore Leonard-like private-eyes have a pleasant holiday day spot in which to work. I would suggest they extend the investigation well into the summer.

They will find nothing more than what I found on dozens of web sites, books, documentaries and newspapers. Who would want to visit a dozen web sites when they can go to Hawaii.

According to one Internet site,, a bunch of politicians and state legislators in eleven (11) states have attempted, so-far without success, to pass ‘birther’ legislation in one form or another. Why such politics? Why such “out of the blue” legislation? The only intention is to attempt to prevent President Obama from appearing on the ballot in the 2012 election.

This is radio talk show host Shawn Hannity’s greatest dream, as he says daily on his side show: prevent Barack Obama’s second term, any way you can.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't Mess With Mark Twain


Being politically correct in the 21st century is well and good for those so inclined. But to push today’s credos onto the past is not only embarrassing, but wrong.

Auburn University professor Alan Gribben has taken it upon himself to make some changes in the first great American novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. It is generally acclaimed as one of the supreme masterpieces of American literature.

Gribben’s version of "Huckleberry Finn" is well over due for some critics. He takes it upon himself to alter Twain’s classic with 21st century politically correct jargon. In the original Huck Finn the “N-word” appears 219 times. Gribben decides to clean up the story and substitutes the word “slave” for the “N-word.”

The word was common in Huck’s world and in mine when I was growing up in the 1940s. It was commonly what many baseball fans called Brooklyn’s third baseman, Jackie Robinson. Not meant as a compliment to the first black man to play in baseballs major leagues.

The use of the “N-word” in the 19th century of Mark Twain was unfortunate slang for “negro.” (Gribben omitted the word “Injun” entirely, though it was but a brogue-drawl of Illiterates in the West.)
Suppose the Holy Bible in the King James Version or one of the early originals in Greek and Hebrew got a revision taking out what offends our enlightened souls. In places Hebrew vulgarity is not fully translated in English. There is little need for a cherry-picked politically correct Bible.

In my April Fools’ column my use of “Japs” for Japanese during World War II was “edited” by one newspaper’s proof reader to read “Japanese.” Thereby losing the point. No matter that it was degrading to call our enemy “Japs,” it was common eighty to a hundred years ago. Germans were “Krauts” or worse, Italians were “blanked-blank wops” and so on. Even our Chinese allies against Japan were called “chinks,” or “gooks.” It was ugly, but it was a part of the times.

Much in history is not pretty, and some literature we could do without, criticize it, love it or hate it, but don’t change it. Professor Gribben says he changed the word because some schools refuse to teach the book with the original word in the text.

A work of art like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is meant to be an accurate reflection of life as it was lived in the 19th century. Twain reveals, through humor and realism, the corruption, moral decay and intellectual impoverishment of the time and place.” (Easton Press publisher’s preface to a “Huck Finn” edition.)

Randall Kennedy, a law professor at Harvard University, says that the Latin word for black is “niger.” He writes “that once the word became an insult, it found a home everywhere.”

Joseph Conrad published his novel “The Nigger of the Narcissus: A Tale of the Sea” in 1897 about a West Indian black sailor on the merchant ship sailing from Bombay to London.
In the United States, Conrad’s novel was first published with the title “The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle,” because no one would buy or read a book with the “N-word” in its title.

One can only imagine what Twain or Conrad would think of those who read into their work, rather than seeing what they saw. Don’t mess with history or literature. Learn from it.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Corporations Are Not Persons !!

The USA Supreme Court has voted to make corporations people. This gives them rights of a voter and of the giving of funds to their choice for political office, all without anyone knowing where the money comes from.


Move to Amend

Monday, April 4, 2011

No tax payments for Exxon, G.E. WHY?

Uncle Sams’ tax man cometh

It’s that time of year again. The deadline for mailing our duty-bound income tax forms to Uncle Sam is just a week away. Humorist Dave Barry titled an article “The tax man cometh, and he is saying things you will never understand.”

Uncle Sam’s nephews and nieces, especially those in the middle income bracket, who earn too much to avoid paying taxes and make too little to afford paying them. It is a time for prayer and dash of honesty. It is anything but a joke.
In the late 17th century there were few taxes on income or anything else during Uncle Sam’s youth. Taxes on tobacco and snuff, corporate bonds, and slaves were among the earliest taxes. In 1817 a historically wise Congress did away with these taxes. Uncle Sam then relied on tariffs on imported or exported goods to run the government.

But doomsday came in 1913 when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax permanent. The last 98 years individuals and corporations taxes have led the way in keeping Uncle Sam alive.

For reasons I do not fully understand, our 235-year old uncle’s gait has become erratic. He is inconsistent in his complex tax laws and lopsided enforcement. Uncle Sam has staggered somewhat off the straight and narrow; the path of peace and prosperity.

Pat Oliphant, a powerfully influential politician cartoonist, last week drew a citizen reading a newspaper, saying: “What?? I can’t believe it!” The paper reads: “G.E. Pays NO taxes.” He shows the paper to the I.R.S. officials, exclaiming “Heads up, you jerks. As a taxpayer, I want some action on this – right away.” The I.R.S. goes into action and beats up the tax payer.

At the bottom of all Oliphant’s drawings are two tiny birds talking about the cartoon. One bird says, “In Libya they revolt against this sort of thing.” The other, dressed like a 17th century patriot, says, “We used to also.”
This is a stark example of the fundamental unfairness in the formation and enforcement of Uncle Sam’s tax laws. While the vast majority of the citizens struggle to make ends meet, huge corporations like General Electric and others ride the gravy train. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) compiled a list of the ten top corporations that avoid paying or pay almost nothing in federal income taxes.

(EXAMPLES: Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009, and it received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to SEC filings. Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billions in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. Also Chevron, Boeing, Valero Energy and Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, on and on…)
Two Fridays ago The New York Times printed a story under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.”

Bob Herbert, in his last New York Times’ column before leaving (after 30 years), wrote: “Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.”

Some of Uncle Sam’s kids have “better” lawyers and “smarter” congressmen/women and “clever” connections with the powerful. They lack very little in money and power. What is lacking with these “patriots” is honesty, integrity, openness, and a frank “Me First” attitude. They are very sincere in their way of life – so is a diamondback rattlesnake coming out of the sagebrush.

As the saying goes, drive carefully. Uncle Sam needs every taxpayer he can get because the giant corporations, like G.E., Exxon and their cohorts, are helping turn us into a third-world country while they bask in their riches.