Tag Archives: American people

The Kennedy Assassination

Here’s some previously unknown info about the Kennedy assassination in November 1963. It’s even crazier than I thought!

Left Hook by Dean Henderson

2006-alton-mo-22-homestead-winter-scene(Excerpted from Chapter 9: The Texas Oil Mafia: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)

Clint Murchison had meat packing interests in Haiti which were looked after by CIA agent George deMohrenschildt, a wealthy Russian oilman and, according to the FBI, a Nazi spy during WWII.

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Free excerpt from my recent book release

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Free excerpt from my recent book release, “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible: Compatible or Not?” by Rev. Paul J Bern
 
[1] Facts About the Drug War The $320 billion annual global drug industry now accounts for over 2 percent of all commerce on the planet. A full 12 percent of Mexico’s economy is built on drug proceeds. For every drug dealer you put in jail or kill, a line forms to replace him/her because the money is just that good. Today it is clearer than ever that cannabis prohibition not only does not work when it comes to drug law enforcement, it actually exacerbates the drug “problem” overall. The February 12, 1996 issue of the National Review had the headline in bold letters, “THE WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST”. Of course that was 20 years ago. Never mind about all those illegal drugs for now. Let’s start with one drug that has repeatedly demonstrated healing properties, and I’m talking about cannabis. That’s right – medical marijuana. Consider a few facts about America’s ‘weed war’:
 
[2] It diverts hundreds of thousands of police agents from serious crimes to the pursuit of harmless smokers, including agents from the local and state police, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, Border Patrol, Customs, and Postal Service.
 
[3] By even the most conservative estimate, the outlay from US taxpayers now tops $10 billion a year in direct spending just to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users and sellers, not counting other illegal drugs and such indirect costs as militarizing our border with Mexico in a hopeless and pathetic effort to stop marijuana imports.
 
[4] Police agents at all levels trample our Bill of Rights in their eagerness to nab pot consumers by conducting illegal car searches, phone and email taps, garbage scrounging, stop-and-frisks out in public without just cause just because they can, and door-busting night raids, many of which are not accompanied by Constitutionally required search warrants.
 
[5] Even people who are merely suspected of marijuana violations and have had no charges filed against them can (and regularly do) have their cars, money, computers, and other property confiscated by police. In a reversal of America’s fundamental legal principles, it is up to these suspects to prove that their property is “innocent” of any crime.
 
[6] People convicted of possessing even one ounce of marijuana can face mandatory minimum sentences of a year in jail, and having even one plant in your yard is a federal felony.
 
[7] At least 490,000 Americans are in federal or state prisons as I write this. All are being held on marijuana charges, not counting people in city and county jails, in which there are even more than the prison systems.
 
[8] 89% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession of the weed, not for producing or selling it. In short, marijuana prohibition is not, and will not, reduce demand. So then, it’s time to regulate the supply. It is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminals and into the hands of licensed businesses, and the only practical way to do that is through legalization, regulation and taxation.
 
This book shoots the “War On Drugs” right out of the sky while proving conclusively that the ‘drug war’ is actually an all-out war on the American people. Our time to rise up has come!! Only $14.95; buy direct at http://www.pcmatl.org/#!books-and-donations/c17et (tax deductible)
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The National Election and the American People — On the Same Page?

One Web Pastor’s Biblical Argument on Why Sanders

Should Have Won, and What Would Have Happened

If He Did

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

U_R_socialist

With both of the conventions that nominated America’s next presidential candidates having concluded, I have already come to the conclusion that this year’s choice for presidential candidates is really no choice at all. We the 99% have two candidates to choose from who are both from the top .1% in America’s economic pecking order, candidates who are clearly bought and paid for by Wall Street, corporate America, and the military-industrial-incarceration complex. “We the people” have the worst choice of candidates since Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson way back in 1964! When Bernie Sanders ran for president he was hoping to initiate what he called a “civil discourse.” He has done far more than that. He inspired a cross-section of American generations who plainly see that our country can do far better than it is, and he inspired this Web pastor, published author and blogger to write this week’s message stating such because I stand with Jesus Christ, and I also stand with Bernie Sanders. My biblical argument lies with two rather unconventional Jews. When I saw Bernie Sanders on stage, I saw someone akin to John the Baptist. I saw the wild-haired, roughly-clothed John the Baptist, eating honey and wearing camel’s hair, and crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and for abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about.

Never mind that Sanders supports a woman’s right to choose, to have control over her own body, as well as supporting gay rights and cannabis legalization. Those evangelicals who would have others believe that that’s what Jesus cared about most have simply have never read the Bible. If they had, they wouldn’t dare say such things about our Savior. Sanders said: “The great irony is if you read the red letters of Jesus, there are no statements on abortion. There are no statements on gay marriage. Now, that’s not to say the Bible doesn’t speak about these things, but it certainly is to say that Jesus, founder and master of our faith, did not see fit to make these high-priority topics.” There is one thing — one major thing — that Jesus did care about. The Jewish prophet John the Baptist cried out in the desert to warn the Pharisees, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, and make straight paths for him” (Matt. 3: 2-3) I have often tried, sometimes fruitlessly, to point out to the religious right that they have strayed far from the path, and the words, of Jesus. I make a point of bluntly confronting them with Jesus’ own words and have lately begun to equate that with Bernie Sanders’ words, or maybe vice-verse. Sanders said on stage during a speech at Liberty University, “I believe that my views are 100% consistent. And so I think that the shock value for that comes in beginning to appreciate that the Bible and Jesus, in my opinion and in my very moderate reading of the Bible and the words of Christ, leads us to a Progressive worldview.” The words of Jesus resonate in the words of Bernie Sanders. He quotes Jesus from the Book of Luke: “I have come to bring Gospel — good news — to the poor.”

But there is more, so much more! Jesus taught in all four gospels, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But He didn’t stop there, he went after the religious leaders. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them’…..’Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.’” (Matthew chapter 23, verses 1-4; verses 23-24)

Those were the words that came to my mind when I watched Sanders on stage, calling out evangelical leaders for abandoning the poor. It was a trans-formative moment for American politics! We commit to the mental gymnastics necessary that allows us to abandon “the least of my brethren”, to abandon the poor, to abandon the immigrants, to abandon those who are in prison, to abandon those who suffer from mental illness or addiction. As I watched Bernie Sanders, he said he wanted to welcome the immigrants and give them dignity. He said he wanted to care for the sick children, and their mothers and fathers, who do not have health care. He said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled like cattle in our for-profit prisons. He said he wanted to end this extortion racket known as for-profit education, and make higher education freely available to all without qualification. He said he wanted to do justice for those who have nothing and live homeless. All these things are the things Christ would be doing if he returned today. The wonder for the rest of us may be that it has taken so long – not for an evangelical to come to this moment, but a Jewish gentleman to realize that the poor, the sick, the homeless are the true mission of Christianity and of America. “The first job of any government”, said Thomas Jefferson, “is for the care and well-being of its citizens.” But those layers of defense, those mental gymnastics that the faithful have labored under for decades are heavy and thick. It’s no wonder, after all the reinforcement from their so-called ‘leaders’, that the light of realization has failed to penetrate.

This kind of breakthrough and willingness to speak out are not only invaluable, but demonstrate the ability of Bernie Sanders to draw together a diverse base of support. That base had, and still has, one thing in common. Religious or not, its members have heart, and compassion, and want the country to be a compassionate, loving, and forgiving place. When we choose to follow Jesus we decide that the Kingdom of God, and the men and women and children of this world contained therein, are more important than the individual. Moreover, that accidentally makes us all Progressives. The day we decided to follow Christ, and the day we decided that we value other human beings more than ourselves, we accidentally became Progressives, or maybe social democrats like in Europe. Accidental perhaps, but we are all Progressive Christians as a result of our faith as well as our politics. It’s a concept whose time has most definitely arrived.

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America’s electoral system is a farce. What can be done about it?

The Day Democracy Died

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

our_true_power

It has come to my attention lately that this summer’s presidential conventions are likely to turn into an all-out brawl. On the Republican side you have Donald Trump’s supporters vs the “anybody but Trump” brigade, while on the Democrat side we find Hillary Clinton’s supporters lined up against those who are for Bernie Sanders. Caught in the middle are the American people, who really have no voice at all anymore unless we step up collectively and change this for ourselves. Take a look around you and you will find no one standing in line behind any of us eagerly waiting to do us a favor. Life isn’t like that, so just forget about it. If we want change, and the American people most definitely do, we’re going to have to put it in play ourselves. Let the American people take the field, then, and let us play this government for a bunch of suckers just like they did us! Give them a taste of their own medicine and see how they like that!

But the ugly truth of the matter is that the US electoral system has been exposed once again as being rigged to the point of being completely fraudulent. The discrepancies between the final vote tabulation and the exit polls are huge, with several being in excess of 10%. The New York primary was a classic example, where Bernie Sanders won 50 out of the 62 counties that are in New York state, while Hillary won the other 12. And yet Hillary Clinton was declared the winner by 6 percentage points? This is just one example, but you get the idea (what happened in California almost a week ago is another good example). Dr. Ron Paul says the American electoral system is rigged to keep “independent thinkers” from succeeding. “I see elections as so much of a charade,” the former Texas congressman said during an April 11 appearance on RT America’s “The Fishtank.” So much deceit goes on. I’ve worked on the assumption for many, many decades, that whether there’s a Republican or a Democrat president, the people who want to keep the status quo seems to have their finger in the pot and can control things,” he said in the interview.They just get so nervous, though, if they have an independent thinker out there — whether it’s Sanders, or Trump or Ron Paul, they’re going to be very desperate to try to change things.” He suggested that the 2016 election is “a lot more entertainment than anything else” because none of the candidates “have answers” to modern political problems. Even so, Paul interprets the success of these outsider candidates as a sign that “more people are discovering that the system is all rigged and voting is just pacification for the voters and it really doesn’t count. I don’t think there’s an easy way out for the establishment or the parties,” he noted, explaining that Democrats and Republicans would both rather risk “further alienation of the people” than allow a candidate to succeed who could shake up the system. “I was upset about it but didn’t want to waste too much energy being angry because this is the way the system works,” he said. “It’s a rotten system.”

People have to understand that the United States is NOT a democracy. It never has been, and it never will be unless we change it ourselves. The United States is also not the constitutional republic it was originally founded as either, and hasn’t been since America became a corporation that serves an oligarchy with the Act of 1871. An oligarchy is defined as a form of government in which power resides in the hands of a small number of elites within a society. The United States of America is a corporation and an oligarchy that serves a political system that lacks anything resembling true legitimacy. The political system it serves is a handful of elite families and institutions using crony politicians such as Hillary Clinton to do their bidding. In what is known as the “Act of 1871,” the Forty-First Congress of the United States officially sold out our nation to the Illuminati (or the “global bankers” if the term global banker suits you better), because the U.S. had reached unsustainable levels of debt and something had to be done (notice a pattern?). The following is from the post titled, Proof: US Congressional Record Says US is Actually a British Crown Colony Run By NWO: “The ‘Act of 1871’ essentially destroyed our republic, and replaced it with the Corporation of the United States. Something not taught in any history books, and certainly not taught by common core, is that the original Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers, was written in this manner: “The Constitution for the united states of America.” The Act of 1871 altered that, and the newer version reads: THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”” The 1871 version is the Constitution’s “corporate replacement,” and what might seem to layman like no more than mere semantics is actually a far, far bigger deal.

Save the “Conspiracy” nonsense for another time. The Act of 1871 can be downloaded and read for yourself. What Congress did by passing the Act of 1871 was create an entirely new document, a constitution for the government of the District of Columbia, an incorporated government. This newly altered Constitution was not intended to benefit the Republic. It benefits only the corporation of the United States of America and operates entirely outside the original Constitution. Instead of having absolute and unalienable rights guaranteed under the original Constitution, “we the people” now have “relative” rights or privileges. One example is the Sovereign’s right to travel, which has now been transformed (under corporate government policy) into a “privilege” that requires citizens to be licensed. By passing the Act of 1871, Congress committed TREASON against the American people who were Sovereign under the grants and decrees of the Declaration of Independence and the original Constitution. Not only that, but the Bible has some scripture that fits this very closely, such as Proverbs chapter 14, verse 31: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Deuteronomy 15: 4 says “there should be no poor people among you…..”, and again in Isaiah 61: 1 it reads, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”. Who among us is “the poor and the needy”? Just about everybody these days. Are we being oppressed? Certainly, because we no longer have any say in our government, and because our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are being taken away!

This is a dangerous trend, and it must be reversed if what is left of our country is going to be preserved. Of course, election irregularities are nothing new in America. There was the Bush/Gore debacle of 2,000, which exposed the US electoral system as being like something out of the 1950’s. But these same people are the ones who brought us endless wars in the 21st century, Waco Texas in 1993, Iran Contra from the 1980’s, the Watergate break-ins of the 1970’s, and the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Rev. Dr. King from the 1960’s. So, you see, we will never know who really won the presidential primaries, and it may not matter anyway. Today’s American political candidates are selected, not elected. The whole electoral, economic and political systems are rigged against us in favor of the top 1%, or maybe the top .01%. At any rate, it’s looking more and more like “we the people” will have to stop this by force. As I see it, we have run out of options. After all, was it not Jesus himself who said, “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword.” Got yours?

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America is sick with greed, and I’m just plain sick of it

America’s Sick Culture of Greed – the 7 Warning Signs

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

wealth_or_democracy

The apostle Paul, in his first letter to his deacon Timothy, admonished him to be wary of the pursuit of money and material wealth. About 1,950 years ago, Paul wrote, “But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1st Timothy chapter six, verses 6-10, NIV) The love of money for money’s sake, as in the days of the early Church, remains the social and societal disease of our time. We see it all around us; in the celebration of ill-gotten financial gain, public admiration for the heads of criminal banks, the lyrics to some popular songs, and in the commercialization of charity and spirituality. This adoration of wealth isn’t a new thing, of course. Back in elementary school I remember being sent to the principal’s office for being moody, unfocused and temperamental – in other words, for being either a rebellious revolutionary, a writer in the making, or a trouble-maker. I still remember my report cards from elementary school that said I “failed to concentrate on the task at hand”, and that I had “too casual an attitude”. In other words, I was a misfit deemed to be a failure in life. That, of course, depends on how one defines the words ‘misfit’ and ‘failure’.

In defense of my childhood self, the Beatles were famous for their Rolls-Royce’s at that time and the Beatles seemed happy. A group called the “Dave Clark Five” went out and bought five matching Jaguar XKE convertibles (anybody else remember that?). Like any good consumer in the making, I had internalized these images of wealth and had come to equate them with happiness. The United States of the 1960s was a nation filled with optimism. For many (though definitely not all) Americans, it was a time of unparalleled opportunity. Education was affordable, families could live comfortably on a single adult income, and the country seem to be on an endless upward trajectory of prosperity. We were expanding in every way, so rapidly that only the depths of space seemed able to contain the people we were about to become. The fantasy of wealth seemed somehow different in that context. Today, we’re a nation being preached to by “bipartisan” corporate politicians who lecture us on the impossibility of expecting a livable Social Security income in our old age. Or a living wage in our working years. Or an affordable education, so our children can live a better life economically than we did. Yet we’re more infatuated with the fruits of unproductive greed today, it seems, then we were back then. Here are seven signs that American culture is sick with greed.

1.) There’s still no public shame in profiting off Wall Street fraud.

Wall Street has been celebrating the investment opportunities created by the wave of criminality and fraud which has overtaken JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and others. JP Morgan Chase’s epidemic of internal fraud has led to tens of billions in fines during the tenure of CEO Jamie Dimon. The investigation’s report goes on to describe how JP Morgan’s stock has risen despite the record fraud settlements against the bank and multiple ongoing civil and criminal investigations. What the report is saying is that banks are essential to the functioning of society, like a public utility. But unlike traditional public utilities, they’re entrusted to profit-driven executives with a long history of documented criminality. And yet there have been no indictments of senior Wall Street executives to date because senior government officials have made it clear they don’t want to endanger the banks by enforcing the law. Legal and political implications aside, what’s astonishing to me is the complete lack of shame associated with being a bank executive whose organization has committed so many crimes — or an investment analyst to openly celebrate those crimes as an opportunity to make money at society’s expense.

Even as the world was still learning of Wall Street’s extensive criminality, Dimon was the subject of a fawning profile several years ago in the New York Times Sunday magazine, which detailed at length Dimon’s hurt feelings and irritation toward those audacious enough to criticize him. Andrew Ross Sorkin did the same thing for the same newspaper three years later, dismissing as “blood lust” calls for Dimon’s resignation in the wake of yet more billion-dollar fraud revelations about his bank. Even now, after all the revelations of crimes which include investor fraud, shareholder fraud, perjury, forgery, violation of international sanctions laws and laws designed to protect members of the US Armed Forces — even now it’s possible to treat bank CEOs as victims in the pages of our country’s newspaper of record. Condemning that record isn’t blood lust. It’s morality.

2.) Greedy CEOs still have credibility in the media.

It’s not just Jamie Dimon, of course. Having shattered the middle class through their accumulation of wealth, the devastation they inflicted on the global economy, and their mistreatment of employee pension funds, Wall Street CEO’s apparently still have enough credibility in some quarters to be treated as experts in fiscal responsibility. They’re using that credibility to suggest that America’s middle-class accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare, two of the few programs left to protect them from the effects of runaway corporate greed. American news outlets accord these CEOs an extraordinary and unearned measure of respectability and authority. Very few articles about ‘Fix the Debt’ mention the massive fraud settlements and fines levied against these CEO’s institutions. Although CEO’s aren’t greedy by definition, most of the ones on ‘Fix the Debt’s’ list fit that description. Most of the ones who aren’t running Wall Street banks lead defense contracting firms that earn excessive profits from the US taxpayer, while lecturing those same taxpayers on the need for the middle class to cut back on its expectations of financial security when it reaches retirement age. ‘Fix the Debt’ is one of a number of interlocking organizations which are largely financed by right-wing billionaire Pete Peterson, who made his money in the hedge fund business and yet is treated by many journalists as if he were Mother Teresa.

3.) Corporate executives are now trained to rip people off.

This writer spent a number of years in the business world during the 1990s, as the owner of a small technology-based retail storefront operation. During this time, corporate America was transforming itself from a customer-driven set of industries to a greed-driven and conscience-less wealth extraction machine for the investor class. Let me use the Gillette Company as an example. As most bearded men know, the Gillette business model is a sneaky one. The company ropes customers in with low-cost razors and then charges an outrageous amount for replacement blades. This is obviously a deceptive business model. Another example from the 1990’s and (to a lesser degree) 2000’s is that of the pay phone industry, which wanted to increase turnover in the use of its phones. The allegedly ‘brilliant’ thinking of a junior executive taken directly from the minutes of board meetings (I will decline to name the company) proposed that bricks be put in the handsets of all their phones. In the same “brainstorming” session, which sometimes are innocuously called “meetings”, another executive suggested making the surfaces underneath the phones slanted, so that people couldn’t leave their things there while they spoke on the phone. The net result was that people paid a quarter to use a pay phone, but then grew uncomfortable and were unable to complete their calls. The beauty of it – from the company’s point of view – was that they didn’t even know why they were hanging up. They merely had an unsatisfying customer experience, while the phone company got to turn over customers more quickly and collect more quarters. Again, nobody back then objected that this was poor customer service, and an underhanded way to deal with customers. If you multiply those experiences ten thousandfold, you have an idea of the culture of corruption which is taking place every day in companies all across the country. That’s not to say there aren’t companies that still believe in customer service; there are, and I’m grateful every time I encounter one. But the corporate culture of America has become a culture of cheating, manipulation and greed. (The pay phone industry in this country is dead, by the way. Karma, as they say, is a bitch.)

4.) And then there’s the music recording industry.

Our idealization of greed isn’t confined to the business section of our newspapers. While white liberals decry the idealization of wealth, that’s not a new phenomenon either. In fact, it can be found in both lifestyles and the recordings of their own childhood musical heroes. “Money can’t buy everything it’s true, but what it can’t buy I can’t use…” There has always been a tension in popular music between the comfortable idealism of those who come from wealthy backgrounds and the aspiring materialism of pop musicians who were raised in poverty and/or financial insecurity. That latter list includes Elvis Presley, the Beatles, James Brown, and many of today’s hip-hop artists. As the seminal R&B producer, songwriter and performer Swamp Dogg put it in the 1970’s: “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in.” The best of those artists — the Beatles, Brown, and more recently Kanye West — have struggled to reconcile the drive which helped them escape poverty with the idealism that made them gifted artists. Kanye ran into some controversy with his track “New Slaves.” Many people were offended that he equated his own wealth with slavery and Jim Crow laws. It’s Kanye’s charm, as well as his curse, to speak everything that comes into his mind. But I think he was onto something with his line about “throwing back the Maybach keys” and his lyrics about the expectation that African-American celebrities will be excessive spenders.

Self-made celebrities often act as ritualized consumers on behalf of the general public. Their job is to swallow up the most excessive luxuries the wealthy lifestyle has to offer. They inadvertently use their power and influence to reinforce the corporate-driven, consumerist tropes that keep us enslaved to our own material desires. By naming the phenomenon and ritually “throwing the keys,” Kanye West is trying to break a pattern that has stretched from Tupelo in Mississippi to Compton in California, from Liverpool in England to Bed-Sty and Brownsville in New York.

5.) Insight and spirituality are being commercialized.

One of the most notorious examples of the commercialization of faith and spirituality is the “prosperity gospel”, which is being propagated primarily in Protestant, catholic, and non- or- interdenominational churches here in the US. As the late and well-known televangelist pioneer Oral Roberts once said, “If you have a need, you must plant a seed”. In order to obtain, we must first give, or so they say. But when we examine the Scriptures, we find this is quite the reverse of what Christ taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’, or ‘What shall we drink?’, or ‘What shall we wear’? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 31-33, NIV) So, instead of “planting a seed” to get our needs met, if we have a need we should be on our knees in prayer, not giving some crooked televangelist all your grocery money. Even Eastern spiritual traditions like Buddhism are being co-mingled with idealized visions of what it means to be a billionaire. From TED talks to mindfulness conferences like the Wisdom 2.0 conference, the search for individual and collective insight is becoming increasingly identified with the desire to accumulate wealth. “You can have it all,” these events seem to say. “You can gain peace of mind, unlock the mysteries of human existence, and become a billionaire, all at the same time.” Some of these events even seem to argue that they are one and the same journey, which is a complete fallacy. It’s heaven and Nirvana, all in one ‘special’ package — with corporate sponsorship.

6.) Kindness and thoughtfulness toward our fellow human beings has become a commodity.

The Clinton Global Initiative has continued to promote misleading deficit-reduction materials in partnership with the hedge fund billionaires. It featured a leader from Morgan Stanley — one of the institutions which was instrumental in causing the 2008 financial crisis — talking about how to recover from the financial crisis. It’s not just Bill and Hillary. In the midst of negotiating yet another multi-billion dollar fraud settlement, JP Morgan Chase was given the honor (and the public relations coup) of sponsoring the fund raising concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy headlined by the Rolling Stones. But then, the Stones have a relationship with big banks that goes back to their sponsorship deal with AmeriQuest, the mortgage company which was slammed for deceitful practices and discriminatory lending toward minorities. That’s not to say corporate charity, or for that matter the charity of billionaires, is a bad thing. Everyone should incorporate charity into their way of life, and those who are most fortunate should give the most in return. Nobody argues with that. The sickness comes when we allow certain types of charity to glorify the giver, or when it’s considered impolite to mention any relationship between, say, the excessive wealth accumulation of the givers and the need for charity in the first place.

7.) America’s Soul Sickness

Today there are countless signs that our culture is sick with greed. You don’t need to be told that. Just look around. I never was able to afford the Rolls-Royce’s and Jaguar roadsters of my childhood fantasies. But then, those things were only an expression of pain. They reflected a deep yearning to be somewhere else, to be someone else, to escape the daily trials of everyday existence and replace them with a fantasy bubble that kept me at a glittering distance from the sufferings of the real world. Today’s national culture of greed is also an expression of pain and fear. It’s more terrifying than ever to try to survive on a middle-class income. Most people live one or two paychecks away from utter disaster. Very few of us feel that we have any real control over our own fate. The lives of reality show stars, the Hollywood tabloids and dangerous drugs like ‘meth’ and ‘spice’ are some of the most obvious of our escapist fantasies. But as long as we live in a fantasy world, we won’t be working to change the real one. True happiness is found in a life lived with meaning. It’s not just that I can’t afford that car. We can’t afford it. We can’t afford to live in a world where our only aspiration is to accumulate wealth, regardless of how it’s accumulated – while ignoring the flourishing of the human spirit in its artistic, idealistic and intellectual aspects. The love of possessions is a sickness. People are losing their lives in the pursuit of wealth and possessions. They’re dying from gunshot wounds and heart attacks, in gang battles and in solitary hospital beds. And it’s getting worse. The symptoms are appearing, not just in ourselves, but in the planet we call home. If we don’t cure it soon, it could prove fatal for all of us.

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Now that tax season is over, it’s time to end it

Now That Tax Season Is Over, It’s Time to End

the Immoral and Illegal Income Tax

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

Revolution-fists

With another federal income tax deadline having passed this past week, it is time for me to bring up the dubious nature of income taxation in America, and why I think it’s long past due for some serious change in the way we are taxed. Part of the reason for this is to correct the extreme imbalance of wealth and to speak out against the hoarding of cash and assets by the top 1% of the US population. Under no circumstances do I think this matter should be resolved by force, and I am aware that there are people – both Christian and secular – who think otherwise. There is certainly no way we are going to be able to correct this imbalance of wealth by going door-to-door in wealthy neighborhoods asking for money, although I can see where that could be a form of protest in and of itself. The rich and powerful are most certainly not going to surrender their filthy lucre voluntarily. What we will have to do is to legislate it while still remaining within the boundaries of the Constitution. The best way to accomplish this is by establishing an all-new tax system that is fair and equitable and which does not impose an excessive burden of payment on the backs of the lower 50% of wage earners in America, the ones who can afford it the least.

The origin of the income tax on individuals is generally cited as the passage of the 16th Amendment, passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, and ratified February 3, 1913; however, its history actually goes back even further. During the Civil War Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861 which included a tax on personal incomes to help pay war expenses. The tax was repealed ten years later. However, in 1894 Congress enacted a flat rate Federal income tax, which was ruled unconstitutional the following year by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state. This was in reference to Article 1 and section 8 of the US Constitution, which gives Congress the right to levy taxes, but which also says, “… but all Duties, Imposes and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”. The taxes our founding fathers had in mind had to do with imported goods and interstate commerce. It says nothing about an income tax. The 16th amendment, ratified in 1913, made an attempt at removing this objection by allowing the Federal government to tax the income of individuals without regard to the population of each State. The most efficient way America can accomplish this is by a national commerce tax, which is much more in the letter and spirit of the law as it was originally written than the current federal tax code. I realize this is not a new idea. It’s the way it’s applied that’s new.

The first step in this process will be to replace the income tax with a consumption tax and the second step will be to legislate an excess wealth tax, in order to be able to finance the needs of the military and the space program. The federal income tax for individuals, families and businesses will go the way of the Chevy Vega under this proposed new tax system. In its place will be a 9% Consumption Tax on all retail and Internet commerce. Why 9%, you ask? Because the average income tax paid by working Americans comes to about 18% of their gross income, so let’s cut it in half! Governments, nonprofits, groceries, utility bills and fuel should be the 5 main exceptions, that is, these should in my view remain untaxed. Repeal of the income tax will by extension include the abolition of the federal withholding tax that is currently deducted from our paychecks. From now on all this extra money will flow back into the pockets of the American workers and business people where it belongs. Add that to the fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage (‘low pay is not OK’), we find out that the net take-home pay for the overwhelming majority of American workers will be raised by at least one-fourth overnight! This is just one more reason for everybody reading this to stop and put it down and go participate in a public demonstration or protest of your choice, and start protesting for these fundamental human rights today! You can finish reading this when you get back home. That’s how urgent this has become! If you can’t find an ongoing protest anywhere, start one.

The federal income taxes for business and corporations will also be going away under this proposal. It’s common knowledge by now that many of these companies have moved their manufacturing overseas due to lower wages and taxes in the third world. But what if the business income tax were suddenly repealed in this country? What if Obamacare succeeds to the point of taking the burden of employee health insurance off the backs of businesses, something Obamacare has already begun to do whether one is in favor of it or not? When you combine these two factors then you have a great recipe for job creation. That is how we can bring back many of the jobs that were lost to outsourcing. And so I propose that a luxury tax that I will call the Excess Wealth Tax be put up for a popular vote. (How do we get it on the ballot? By making as much noise about it as we can until we get what we want!) The Excess Wealth Tax for individuals and families is that all earned income up to $1 million is tax free. Period, end of story. For individuals and households with a net income in excess of $1 million, they will be taxed at a 50% rate. So, let’s say a single taxpayer, or a family of four, has $101 million in income in any given year. Since the first $1 million is tax free, all that would be owed would be 50% of the remaining $100 million. So your hypothetical tax bill for that year would be $50 million. Uncle Sam keeps half, and we keep half. Besides, anybody who can’t live on an annual income of $51 million is spending way too much money on all the wrong stuff.

For businesses and corporations all earned income and net assets up to $300 million is tax free. There is a 33 and 1/3% tax levied on anything over that amount. So if we have a company or multinational corporation with gross sales of $1.5 billion in any given year, then that company would only pay tax on everything in excess of $300 million. So 33.3% of the remaining $1.2 billion would be $400 billion, and that would be their Excess Wealth Tax for that year. Uncle Sam gets a third, the enterprise keeps the rest. It’s so simple you won’t need an accountant any more (sorry, all you CPA’s). It will also mean that the capital gains, estate, the alternative minimum and self-employment taxes would all be going away for good. But so would itemized deductions. That should make business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors very enthusiastic about supporting this proposal.

Money from these tax payments would be used for public education, to fund higher learning for adults changing careers as well as for high school graduates going on to college (which would end student loans except for private colleges and universities), for military funding, and for funding for an ambitious and pioneering space program. What about the federal income tax? It needs to go the way of the dinosaurs! Taxation of our incomes is tantamount to limitation of our incomes! I could write that we should all organize a tax protest next winter, but unfortunately refusing to pay taxes as a form of protest has been criminalized, so I can’t condone that. Organizing on social media would be one way to reach out to a lot of people. But I thought I would get the conversation started by posting this. I first proposed this four years ago in my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, and no one paid any attention. But with the waves of protest about police violence and unrealistically low wages ($7.25 an hour? What??), I ask you this question: How do we peacefully replace our entire tax code? By peaceful mass protests and demonstrations? Trying to coax Congress into passing this into law would be an exercise in futility, we need a better way than that. But if the system is dysfunctional – as the US tax code currently is – it must be replaced from the outside in, not the other way around as is our tradition. Tradition doesn’t work anymore. Time for us to get outside the box.

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Been ‘feeling the Bern’ lately?

Have you been feeling the Bern (Bernie Sanders, that is)? Tired of feeling “burned” by the government? Get the book that started the Democratic Socialist movement back in 2011! The Middle and Working Class Manifestoby Rev. Paul J. Bern. Before the Sanders presidential campaign, before there was Occupy Wall St., before “the 99%” and Anonymous, before Ferguson, Mo. and Freddy Gray, before Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, before the ‘Arab Spring’, Syria and Palestine, there was this book, the book that helped start it all! Available in paperback on Amazon for $18.95, or get a leftover 1st edition for $9.95 with free shipping at www.pcmatl.org/books-and-donations Or, buy the E-book (350 pages) on Smashwords.com, Goodreads.com, Kindle or Nook for $3.00, or on Pay Hip at https://payhip.com/b/Tpw5 To watch the video before you buy, visit http://youtu.be/VZguRDJmCqc

DCIM100MEDIA

 

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Jesus, the Republican presidential debates, and progressive Christianity

Jesus Wasn’t A Conservative, And God Isn’t Republican

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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In light of this past week’s Republican debate on TV, which I didn’t bother to watch, I thought it would be timely to comment on the state of conservatism in our country today as it relates to social and economic injustice. I like to relax and unwind at the end of each workday by watching a couple of hours of Christian television in the evening, primarily on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network, channels vary so check your local listings) and You Tube. Most of the time the shows and the preaching are pretty good, although some programs are better than others. The best shows are the ones that go deepest into the Word as far as their interpretation of the Scriptures is concerned. The ones that aren’t quite so good tend to get way, way out there as far as their teaching and preaching goes (such as the prosperity gospel and word of faith movements, among others), with the preachers espousing radically right-wing conservative interpretations of Scripture that are ill-informed at best, or bigoted, and even outright heresy at worst.

I have a pretty good idea as to why these right-wing neoconservative preachers and teachers have such an extremist view of the Bible. I think it’s because their version of Scripture matches their arrogant beliefs, giving these types of people an egocentric viewpoint on their walk with Christ. Although these men and women TV ministers are certainly entitled to their own opinions, I strongly disagree as to their application of conservative ideology to the interpretation of the Scriptures. I have an even bigger problem with biblical quotations being used in such a way as to twist them around to fit a certain point of view or for financial gain (such as tithing according to Old Testament law instead of worshiping Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Law). Not all Christians are conservative right-wing extremists nor are we all evangelical Rush Limbaugh’s. Many of us like myself are much more moderate for a couple of reasons. First, when we read the Bible, especially the four Gospels, we realize that Jesus was incredibly liberal by today’s standards, and also far more peaceful then the current crop of presidential candidates who seem to be desperate to prove who among them is the most conservative. Twenty three years ago when I first gave my heart and soul to Christ, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me clearly, saying that if I wanted to worship the Prince of Peace then it is necessary for me to become a man of peace (which I was not back then). So I pass that on every chance I get, and it most applies to anyone who has anger issues or who holds grudges. It’s time for all of us to get go of those things.

Second, it has been my observation that the most religious people in public office or running for an election are often the most argumentative and most prone to resorting to violence to solve problems. Those who become indignant at the mention of the word ‘abortion’, showing their outrage before the TV cameras at the taking of a single unborn life, have no problem sending their/your sons and daughters off to war, and cheering when a predator drone blows up another house full of unarmed Afghan, Iraqi or Syrian civilians. God must be shaking His head in disbelief right about now. We as a nation have gotten to a point in our history now where the military-industrial-incarceration complex that’s still clinging to its soon-to-be former power and refusing to move on, is appealing to one of military history’s most colossal mistakes, basking in the glory of the act, while forgetting the bitter irony of the event.

The Christian right, which is neither, wants glory. They want credit for being the heroes, for saving civilization, drawing on the outdated legacies of World War Two and the Cold War. The irony is their narrow-mindedness, their lack of perception, and their superficial perspective on world events due to their refusal to learn the lessons of history, dooms them to be a curse upon their land. Nothing is getting done, because of the Conservatives of this land. And what are conservatives fighting to defend? One of the worst situations this country has been in for a long time. Want reform of the financial markets? Screw you, we’re filibustering. Want health care reform? Too friggin’ bad, forty thousand people a year can die so the rest can be charged twice as much as the rest of the world for comparatively inferior care.

Of course, resisting this evil and predatory system is painted as resisting big government and the “evil tax-and-spend liberals”. Some even call the American people’s resistance as insurrection or as politically subversive (such as the Occupy and 99% Movements, among others). Never mind that we now have Obama-care, which is not the most desirable national health care out there but it’s better than being completely uninsured and going to an ER for medical needs. Never mind that the conservative right-wingers own conduct speaks poorly to their skills as fiscal guardians (such as invading Iraq in 2003, among others). The Republicans have always needed their dark enemies to highlight their glorious crusades. They did it in Vietnam, twice in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Clandestine wars are ongoing in Libya, Yemen and Syria. Everything was about defending what GW Bush and his Congress was doing at the time, everything was about justifying colossal mistakes. Whether turning a soldier’s request for more armor into another chapter in the epic of the “evil liberal media”, or blaming hurricane Katrina’s death toll and the subsequent humanitarian disaster on the victims themselves, or coming up with a million different justifications for outing former CIA operative Valerie Wilson, the Republicans devoted themselves to the task of rationalizing failure on a massive scale. The most recent effort has been the prosecution of private Bradley Manning (or Chelsea, take your pick) due to his/her alleged “complicity” in helping Wiki-leaks and its founder, Julian Assange, publish a treasure trove of supposedly secret messages that exposed the sheer folly of America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lies about it disseminated among the American people by those in positions of public trust.

President Obama has the right idea regarding his public option, otherwise known as “Obama-care”, putting everyone on a national health care system of sorts, but I would be surprised if he will be able to make us all pay for it. Instead, health care is a basic human right that should be given away to the general public without cost. Instead, conservative right-wingers have made any form of universal health care coverage in the US to be this great evil, health care reform has to be government taking decisions from your doctors hands. Never mind the facts. In fact, forget about ’em. The Republicans want grandiose rhetoric and emotionally overwhelming appeals. Nobody wants to talk about the underlying issues, such as the fact that our for-profit health care system is broken, and greed is what broke it to the point that it will have to be replaced. I have outlined one good way to go about this in my first book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, but I will give you the condensed version in three sentences. First, combine Medicare, Medicaid, all US government health care plans and the VA hospital system into a single national health care system. Second, streamline the various inter-agency departments by eliminating all duplicate positions. Third, abolish Medicaid since it will no longer be needed and have Web-based Medicare replace it all. For additional details, you’ll have to buy the book.

If I sound angry here, that is only to be expected. This is what I’ve fought for during the last several years after having to take early retirement for medical reasons. I have been through all this stuff myself, seeing the system from the patient’s point of view. I don’t want to live in a country where the government exists in an alternate universe, where the politicians are so oblivious to reality. I don’t want to live in a country where the needs of the top 1% of US economic affluence are taken care of with five-star service while the remaining 99% huddle in emergency rooms waiting their turn to see a doctor for hours on end. Since I don’t have plans to leave this country that I love, I have plans to be part of a movement of millions answering the call around my nation, to make a new government that runs this country as a part of the reality-based community. Rather than jump the gun and jump to conclusions as it suits some ideology, I’m in favor of a government that is constantly on the move, doing objective good for this country.

I’m in favor of the conservatives finally coming to grips with the fact that their policies haven’t been working. They can remain conservatives, keep on favoring conservative ideas, but what gives them the right to let things go straight ‘to hell in a hand basket’ to prove ideological points? They are more out of the majority than they’ve been in years in no small part due to their failure to put politics aside and deal with an emergency with the fortunes of the nation, rather than the fortunes of their party first and foremost. Failure is not an option for me. A government that lets things fail to prove political points is not doing its job. A government that justifies failure by making political points, is not worthy of governing this country.

For the last two decades, America has been the victim of unwise policies, policies that presupposed a willingness for restraint from the financial sector, policies that presupposed that preservation of a military strategy and distraction from a critical theater of battle would somehow lead to success. These were people who looked at our economy in the summer of 2008 and said ‘the fundamentals of the economy were sound’, right up until the point where the crash of September 2008-2010 made the obvious truth unavoidable. I don’t want more government by people who are simply persisting in their policies until events overtake them and make it impossible for them to maintain the status quo. I want people who are adapting to our problems in advance, and allowing the government that flexibility.

The last thing this country needs is another decade or decades worth of governance from an outmoded capitalist economic system that cannot tell the difference between a defeat and a victory and resists all efforts to bring its attentions to these problems. The Democrats aren’t perfect, like Obama might say. There is at least a recognition among the rank and file that the current situation is not to be tolerated, or continued. The charge of the Conservative Light Brigade should end, and this country should be allowed to get back to deciding what the wise thing is, not what is politically convenient to an unwilling, undignified minority.

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Endless War in an Allegedly Christian Nation — How Much Longer Do We Tolerate This?

The Hypocrisy Of War In A Nation That Professes Christianity

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

Donald Trump took my lunch money for his presidential campaign. My dad is gonna be pissed!!

Donald Trump took my lunch money for his presidential campaign. My dad is gonna be pissed!!

Being the proactive Christian and Jesus follower that I am, I make it my business to follow current events, particularly anything having to do with Israel and the Middle East (since the majority of Bible prophecy has to do with both). It’s in our best interest to do so due to America’s very serious financial situation, not to mention the dangerously overextended US military which has bases in over 100 countries while fighting two wars. Rev. Billy Graham has prophesied that these multiple wars, clandestine activities and other occupations “will end in disaster”. This brings me to the point I wish to comment on today, and that is the hypocrisy of war in a nation that calls itself Christian and proclaims its devotion to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. You can’t profess to worship Christ as a nation while waging war, they are diametrically opposed to one another. We can’t bemoan all the wars overseas and all the over-the-top violence going on in America’s streets while continuing to be the world’s largest arms manufacturer and exporter. We Americans are going to have to make up our minds what we want, because we can’t have it both ways as a nation. Either wage war or wage peace. As for me, I choose peace. Killing only begets more killing.

The latest chapter in Washington’s plan for global domination is the threat of war with Iran. The US incursions into Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya were really bad ideas no matter how you look at it. What is America doing over there? First, the 2nd war in Iraq was based on a series of lies about weapons of mass destruction. Second, we already got Osama Bin Laden, so why are we still in Afghanistan? Why is the US still conducting drone strikes inside Iraq and Syria? As for Libya, Italy and France were perfectly capable of managing the Libyan crisis from just across the Mediterranean Sea, they didn’t need the US to come all the way across the Atlantic to help them out. These two regional powers don’t need or want our help. Yet the US military continues to stick its nose into every situation it can find globally as if America is the world’s policeman. America can’t afford to continue to spend more money on military hardware than all the other countries of the world combined. This is clearly unsustainable. Our country’s aggressive actions are also infuriating a large number of people worldwide, and I believe it is the primary cause of much of the world’s terrorist activity.

What would Jesus say about this if he were here right now? God bless America? I think not! The US military entered and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the air war in Libya and the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, without getting a formal declaration of war from Congress, a requirement of the US Constitution. Of course, the American public is being told that there are no US troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria, but US Special Forces and the CIA have been ‘in country’ right up to this very day. Not to mention the fact that the US military is lately beginning to set its digitized sights on China. Our country’s “leaders” have forgotten that Hitler lost the Second World War when he opened up three battle fronts against the USA, Great Britain and Russia within a year. Although they held their own at first after scoring significant battlefield victories, the Nazis ultimately found themselves overwhelmed. What do you think will happen if the US opens up just as many battle fronts at once? Apparently our nation’s “leaders” haven’t learned one stinking thing from history. America has charted a course towards disaster!

We are going to have to face up to the fact that we live in a very violent society, and that perpetual war for profit – not for victory, but for humongous amounts of money – is only a superficial symptom of a much more deep-seated problem. Violence surrounds us. Like it or not, it is ingrained into and embraced by U.S. Society. We are bombarded with violent imagery on a daily basis if we watch much TV or rent a lot of movies. The nightly news is full of it, and the followers of Christ are sick and tired of all of it. Come to think of it, so is nearly everybody else.

More than 50 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the growth of the “military-industrial complex”. He cautioned us about the need to guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, “whether sought or unsought,” by this military industrial complex. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” he said. George Orwell once wrote of “perpetual war,” a situation in which war operates as a means of controlling the population by constantly rallying them against a common enemy. This is exactly the situation we are faced with in America today, with its military/industrial/incarceration complex running in overdrive. At the same time, the American people have figured out that if all the money spent on wars was spent on its people instead, we could give every American free health care, free higher education or free vocational retraining for life, with a minimum wage that is double its current rate. There are many people constantly, loudly lamenting their shortage of money. They fail to realize that vast portions of their incomes are being drained off by their country for war, death and destruction.

Obama administration officials said the United States decided to wage war on Libya because of the threat Moammar Qaddafi was to his own people. Why not attack Bahrain or Yemen? Tyrants in those countries are committing similarly repugnant acts against their citizens. Why not attack Syria since atrocities are being committed against the people there? I am very excited that ordinary people are rising up across the Middle East to cast off autocrats, tyrants, kings and dictators, not to mention the secret police who harass the citizenry daily. People want peace and justice, not war and violence. And they want it here in America too. That is why we will see very soon here in the US a similar political movement that we have seen previously in the Middle East. The Arab Spring of 2011 has evolved into the ‘Occupy’ and the ‘we are the 99%’ Movements here at home and other capitalist countries, and they are just the beginning of what is to come.

Given the near silence of our nation’s pulpits in the face of the violence and war that surrounds us, the exertions of our theologians in justifying war, and the propensity of religious people to condemn abortion while proudly sending their sons and daughters off to fight and kill “the enemy”, it is certain that future historians will view organized religion as a slave to the vast war machine that engulfs us. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Will we rise up against the madness of violence or are we dead already? What’s it going to be, people?

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Some deep thoughts about the shootings in Oregon this past week

What Kind of People Do We Want To Be?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

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I was having a casual conversation with someone just recently, and there came a point where I was asked, “What to you do?”. I replied that I was a minister and a writer, as well as a blogger and political activist. “What denomination are you from?”, she inquired. I explained that I was nondenominational, and that I was not aligned nor affiliated with any other churches, be they virtual churches like this website or brick-and-mortar. I talked to her about my views regarding being set aside, or standing alone, pledging allegiance only to Jesus Christ instead of ‘Religion, Inc’. By that time, it was time for me to get off the train, and we bid each other warm goodbye’s. But it got me to thinking: Who or what do I say that I am? What’s my sense of identity? Does that match up to what’s going on inside my head, or do I think one way and act another? These are not comfortable questions for anyone, but if we don’t inquire about this to ourselves, how do we measure our authenticity as human beings? And so I took an internal, in-between-the-ears inventory of myself. I came to the conclusion that, among other things, I want to be like Chris Mintz, who took multiple bullets at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College during this past week’s school shooting du joir, saving many more lives in the process.

I want to be a peacemaker like Mr. Mintz’s friends and family members have called him, and I too stand against indiscriminate violence wherever it may be found. “Blessed are the peacemakers”, Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall be called ‘sons of the living God’”. So I concluded that being a peacemaker was a good starting point regarding my own self-inventory. The apostle John wrote about this topic in his first Epistle nearly 2,000 years ago, and I quote: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1st John chapter 4, verses 20-21, NIV). People who are devoid of love can never be peacemakers because they are inherently selfish individuals. But if we are true Christians and followers of Christ, we sow seeds of peace and unconditional love wherever we go. If you want to be a man or woman of peace, the first step in learning how to do that is to worship the Prince of Peace. Let Jesus be your example to follow, your coach and your mentor.

I am also a crusader for civil and/or human rights, and against social injustice and economic inequality. I have written and self-published two books on these topics and I have blogged extensively as well. I was formerly middle class before winding up on disability. I know what it’s like to lose everything and to have to start one’s life all over again from scratch. And I know what it’s like to wind up homeless. One of the most important lessons I learned from these experiences is that we live unfulfilled lives as long as we chase after money, material goods and the trappings of luxury and convenience. These are the things that simply don’t matter in the long run. But seeing who is in need, or what contribution can be made, or what innovation can be implemented that benefits everyone equally, it is all these things that we should strive to achieve. Cooperation, then, replaces competition when it comes to the worship of the Son of God, and this bleeds over into the life of the believer like a Spiritual blood transfusion. Competition is so 19th and 20th century! Mutual cooperation for mutual benefit, like a beehive, is the wave of the future, and it resembles God’s kingdom on earth much more closely (see Revelation chapter 20, verses 4-6).

That is only part of His directions for those that followed Him concerning how they were supposed to live life in service to others. Christians call it the Sermon on the Mount, but it was lived as a lifestyle until about 300 AD by Jesus’ followers. By then some Old Testament teachings on warfare had replaced Christianity as a lifestyle and devalued it to a mere ideology. Jesus also said he came to replace the law because it had not been followed by the Jews, much to their own detriment. Just think of all the false teachers and error-laden churches that ignore these teachings. For those who do not follow His teachings I ask this: Are we all the same peoples despite color or nationality, and all the same citizens despite the unjust nature of government or of the religion we follow?

Is civilization all about wars and conflict? What about the non-warriors whose gifts to us include all the advances in farming that none should go hungry? Those who devised portable or temporary shelters so that man could venture beyond the close environs of the cave or those who devised ways to bring water to the villages that none might be thirsty or crops perish from the lack of water? Who was the hero or heroine who devised the wheel? Who among our ancestors built stationary shelters that we now call houses? Who first tamed and rode horses? All of these people from our ancient past are true heroes, giving us lasting gifts that advanced civilization, even if the gifts were soon turned to warlike purposes. Is someone considered a danger because of their gender, sexuality, skin color, political ideology or personal attributes? Why is it that women in modern society earn an average of 25% lower pay for the same work as opposed to men? Why is a nurse less valued than a doctor? Why is a teacher less valued then a banker or a lawyer? How many can name one person who is not recognized by their own community for what they have given?

How will we be remembered by the next generation? We are all given a choice and a say in what happens tomorrow, today. A million today’s were shaped by what a million nameless, faceless someones did yesterday. Do we go along to get along or do we stand up and demand our say-so and contribution in our future? Do you wait for Jim or Sally, Joe or Jane to take the lead, or do you begin hoping that they will say or do something you can agree with? The only person responsible for your decisions and what happens tomorrow because of them, is the one looking back at you in the mirror. Shall we become part of the solution, or remain part of the problem? We can be contributing individuals to the world of tomorrow, or the zoned-out TV watchers and self-isolating video game players of today. Which do we choose?

Which brings us back to the community and the growing of support and friendship. Who are your friends? Are they just people you grew up with or work with or go to the club or church with? Are they all men or women or all the same racial background as you are? Are all of your friends the same general age or do you number the elderly and the children among your friends? In our society friendship sometimes seems shallow, temporary and based on filling someone’s immediate needs. One different outcome and way of looking at friendship is offered in the Native American community. They look at friendship as a choice, a responsibility and that it be long lasting. Jesus said it best when he uttered these words, “Greater love has no man, than to lay down his life for his friends”.

A friend is someone you choose to give your friendship to without any qualification. It doesn’t matter what they do in life, it doesn’t matter what they may or may not have done. The friendship remains not because of who we are or what we have to offer. Friendship is a mutual choice. So, go out and make one new friend this week and go back to your current friends and say you will support them, stand by them and offer advice if they ask for it. Make sure they know that you will help them in time of trouble. When times of trouble do arrive, such as mass shootings, follow through with them. Enjoy their companionship at all times. Make it your choice, it is your life. Are you starting to see being a peacemaker as something worthwhile now? Is peacemaking something of value in your family, neighborhood, community, state or nation? Are you willing to become a peacemaker or support those who do choose to become one? Will you be a Chris Mintz, or one who will actively support such uncommon and tough-as-nails individuals? Will you be part of the solution to gun violence?

I, for one, vow to do so without hesitation, and I will go to any length to propagate peace, even if my personal safety is at risk. I will continue to insist that all life is precious, that all life is God’s handiwork, with each form of life having a singular uniqueness all its own. I will continue to advocate for the homeless because every human being on the planet has the fundamental human right to shelter. The cave men of 10,000 or 20,000 years ago had roofs over their heads, and none of them ever punched a time clock. I will also continue to stand up against economic inequality, social and racial injustice, and waging warfare. I would endure torture, jail or death rather then compromise any of my beliefs. Perhaps my enduring any or all of the above will bring others to believe as I do, knowing that I write on Christ’s behalf. I will speak out against any injustice or any war, and even use my own body to shield victims of injustice, if necessary, just like that ex-soldier in Oregon did this past week. I am asking you to do the same, having given you all ample reason to support my stand. No more working for the wealthy to make them richer. We work for the benefit of all mankind from this day forward, not just the top 1 or 2 percent. And we will enforce peace across America, first by our relationship with Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, and secondly by acquiring the means to defend ourselves whenever appropriate, so this terrible cycle of violence can be stopped for good.

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