Tag Archives: old testament

Our modern world in prophecy from long ago

A Description of Our Modern World From 2,700 Years Ago

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

To view this on my website, click here! 🙂

For my first posting of this new year I’m feeling God nudging me – well okay, I mean encouraging me – to compose another warning about the tumultuous times that are rapidly approaching. I always get attacked on the Web for these kinds of postings. Some compare it to yelling “fire!” in a movie theater, and I’ve been called worse than that, but I don’t care. This is the mission God has given me, this is what I am doing with my life, and I will let nothing stand in my way! I can’t – it’s critically important that I bring you all up to speed, spiritually speaking, about the events that are currently unfolding, and what the Bible has to say about it all.

What I’m going to write about today will be the first 9 verses out of the 4th chapter of the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament (that’s right between Daniel and Joel in the latter part of the O.T.). So let me quote the first 5 verses for everyone, and it reads as follows: “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying. But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another, for your people are like those who bring a charge against a priest. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.”

The Book of Hosea was written in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century BC, during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC). Hosea (הושֵעַ) prophesied during a dark and melancholic era of Israel‘s history, the period of the Northern Kingdom’s decline and fall in the 8th century BCE. The apostasy of the people was rampant, having turned away from God in order to serve both the calves of Jeroboam and Baal, a Canaanite god. During Hosea’s lifetime, the kings of the Northern Kingdom, their aristocratic supporters, and the priests had led the people away from the Law of God, as given in the Pentateuch. Forsaking the worship of God, they worshiped other gods, especially Baal, the Canaanite storm god, and Asherah, a Canaanite fertility god. Other sins followed, including homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin. Hosea declares that unless they repent of these sins, God will allow their nation to be destroyed, and the people will be taken into captivity by Assyria, the greatest nation of the time. The prophecy of Hosea centers around God’s unending love towards a sinful Israel. In this text, God’s agony is expressed over the betrayal of Israel.

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.” There are two schools of thought regarding this first verse. The first are the traditionalists, who believe that the warnings are only for the Jewish nation (“you Israelites”). The second school of thought, of which I am a part, extrapolates this first verse, and by extension the entire Old Testament, as being applicable to both Jew and Gentile alike, since the apostle Paul wrote that “salvation is first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile”. So even though this is from a relatively obscure book of the Old Testament, it is still just as applicable today as it was in the 8th century BCE when this was written.

There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God…”. Isn’t that our very situation today? We lack faithfulness towards God and other people to whom we owe faithfulness, such as our families, our bosses and co-workers. So many of us are living only for ourselves, oblivious to their surroundings and those they are supposed to interact with, and ultimately oblivious to God. And, to put it bluntly, there are too many who refuse to acknowledge God. Many of these people (but not all!) are set in their ways to the point that I have stopped talking to them. All I can do is warn them. But those who go on being atheists or agnostics, I will not stand in your way any longer, so please continue as you are. Or those individuals who worship Satan, well, you’re on the wrong track in life, but God can and will bring you back if you are both willing. That’s all I care to say about that for now.

There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” Watch a Hollywood action movie and this is exactly what you see. There’s lots of cursing and killing, adultery and bloodshed, lying and stealing. Sadly, this is a reflection of American society in the early 21st century. The lyrics in much of popular music breaks all bounds. “Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying.” What does this look like to you? I’ll tell you all what this is, it’s the mysterious animal, fish and bird deaths that are occurring globally for seemingly no reason. Dead fish washing up on beaches by the tens of thousands, birds dropping out of the air literally out of the blue, and vanishing species like the polar bear, the honey bee, the elephant and many more – all these are the hallmarks of our generation, a generation where humankind’s rampant pollution of our environment is literally poisoning the earth to death. It’s all our fault!

The Bible says clearly in Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’.” So it clearly states right here that God put us in charge of the earth, to properly conserve its resources and preserve all the life contained in the earth, and to manage it in a clean and orderly fashion. Well, we’ve trashed it instead! Even now as I write this, there is a sea of plastic bobbing up and down in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is literally the size of Texas! Our ground water has been polluted, the oceans have been poisoned, and the air contaminated. We have done this to ourselves, and even where we haven’t, this systemic poisoning has been done with our consent through our silence about the matter. It seems there have been too many people who are unwilling to stand up and fight the powers controlling our world. This too has to come to an end. Stand up and fight for your right to quality of life, because if you don’t we will lose it forever!

But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another…. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.” This is why nothing is being done about the pollution of the earth and the trashing of our own environment. Those in charge in government aren’t governing, and the leaders in the churches aren’t leading. Everyone is wallowing in their own complacency – and sometimes outright laziness – as they cash their paychecks every week or month or whatever while doing only the bare minimum of work required. The leaders we have selected are no better than ourselves, and are often worse! It’s all our own fault, we did this to ourselves – so let’s not accuse one another, for we are all just as guilty – meaning we have all got some repenting to do. And now let me conclude this week’s message, starting at verse 6:

So I will destroy your mother – my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children. The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” (Hosea 4, verses 6-9)

I will destroy your mother? Is God going to kill all our moms because we’ve all been bad? “Your mother” refers to ‘mother earth’, our planet! The prophet Hosea was warning us that if we persist in destroying the earth, God may decide to lend us a helping hand, so to speak. That ‘helping hand’s’ name is World War Three, and that is what God is going to send us if we don’t straighten up and mend our ways. “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Ignorance and complacency are not blissful, they are what happens when we choose to disconnect ourselves from the world around us and the people in it. Ignorance and complacency are the negative results of not wanting to know, or of not caring enough to want to help initiate change for the better. Ignorance and complacency are the status quo.

Because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children.” Rejected knowledge? Just look at all the mumbo-jumbo that passes for school textbook curriculum these days! Look at all the runaway kids and the ones who get kidnapped and sold to sex traffickers. What about the ones addicted to video games, online porn, drugs and alcohol? The list goes on and on, and it’s up to us to straighten this mess out. It’s about a reboot of our leadership from the bottom up, starting with the parents in the home. “They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” If America does not repent of her sins against God, of her adulteries, thefts, murders and other crimes against one another, God is going to destroy this land the same way he destroyed ancient Israel during the time of Hosea the prophet – by military conquest! So repent, all you people who are living sinfully as I have just described, or America will soon be no more. The land will still be here, I think, but the country will be gone forever. What a sad day that will be! We’re running out of time, people. Let’s all band together and begin doing wonderful and laudable things with our lives. Who knows? Maybe we can change God’s mind if we try hard enough. Until next time.

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As we celebrate Resurrection Day, the world edges closer to nuclear war

The Nuclear Genie Is Out of the Bottle,

and It’s America’s Fault

endless war

On July 16th, 1945, the ‘Trinity’ nuclear test plunged humanity into the Atomic Age. The first-ever nuclear bomb was detonated in New Mexico, at the Alamogordo Test Range. Within just days, the first nuclear bomb ever used in wartime was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and a second one was dropped on Nagasaki less than two weeks after that. In the first blast at Hiroshima, well over 100,000 people were instantly vaporized in the initial explosion, and the death toll at Nagasaki was tens of thousands higher. Over the next month or so, over a million more individuals died from the aftereffects of radiation poisoning. But, what is generally not known – especially here in America with its propaganda machine otherwise known as our “free press” – is that the US use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War 2 was unnecessary. Let’s not forget that the winners of wars are the ones who write the history books, and the US is no exception. The fact of the matter is that by the summer of 1945, Japan had already been bombed back to the stone age. In point of fact, Japan was already attempting to start negotiating for peace. But the Japanese wanted to do it secretly, so as to not alarm the Japanese people (sound familiar?), and US military leaders wanted the announcement to be public. And so the die was cast, and the rest is history.

In the late 1940’s Josef Stalin, Russia’s leader and dictator at the time, acquired an atomic weapon through quite a lot of espionage, much to the discredit of America’s “intelligence” community. As a response, the US supplied England and France with the technology and experience needed to build a few bombs of their own. By this time it was the 1950’s, and within just a few years Communist China developed their first atomic weapons. By the 1960’s, other countries such as Israel, India and Pakistan had nukes as well. The genie was out of the bottle, and there was no putting it back. It was too late. And it all started with one nuclear test in the New Mexico desert in 1945. I have been studying up on this as of late, knowing that we are living in the End Times, and that the world as we have known it is drawing rapidly to a close. The one verse I have found that corresponds to these times and the accompanying nuclear proliferation can be found in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, chapter 7 and verse 7, which reads as follows:

After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast – terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.”

To put this into context, Daniel had a vision in chapter seven where he saw four “beasts” come up out of the sea. The sea in Bible prophecy usually always symbolizes all the nations of the world. The first was like a lion, but it had eagle’s wings. What country uses a lion as its symbol? Great Britain. The eagle’s wings, then, represent America, whose symbol is an eagle, and who is an offshoot of the former British Empire. OK, so what’s the second one, you ask? The second beast Daniel saw in his vision looked like a bear. What country uses a bear as its national symbol? Russia. And Daniel’s third beast looked like a leopard, which symbolizes Germany. The fourth beast which is unlike all the rest could only be the United States, since it has the most powerful military force in human history. But what do the ten horns represent? Could they be nuclear powers? According to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons in total. This is an obscenity because it’s enough atomic power to blow up every city on the planet several dozen times over. But it’s even more than an obscenity, it is utter madness and insanity!

But still, that’s only nine countries that have nukes, so who’s the tenth one, the one that completes the symbolism of Daniel’s ten horns that he saw on the fourth beast? It has got to be Iran, there is no other explanation that I can think of, at least for now. No other country is as close to developing a bomb as Iran, everybody knows that. But this is a prophecy that has yet to come to pass. But you can all be sure that this will be happening in the near future, no doubt about it. And once it does, Daniel’s prophecy about the beast with the ten horns will be fulfilled. Since the British Empire and two world wars that were initiated in part by Germany have come and gone, this is the only part of this prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. Once that happens, once Iran gets its hands on its first nuclear weapon – which is only a matter of time – the prophecy will be fulfilled and the stage will be set for world war three, which will be a brief but exceptionally deadly nuclear exchange (more on that in a separate message later). If it involves Iran and Israel as I suspect, then surely America and Russian will become involved sooner or later. And that’s when world war three will start. It’s all getting very close now. Prepare yourselves accordingly if you have not yet done so. We are just about out of time.

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America In Bible Prophecy? Where Does It Say That?

Is The USA In Biblical End Times Prophecy?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

By now you all know or have heard and read the various arguments about America’s role in Biblical prophecy, both pro and con. There are those who say the US isn’t the Bible and many others who insist that it is. These folks have included everyone from master theologians to televangelists on the Christian TV channels to some pretty wild conspiracy theories posted on You-tube and other websites. I see no point in debating this or in blogging about it based on what has already been disseminated. Instead, as I always do, I’m going straight to the Word of God as my reference point. This is not about dogma, denominational exclusivity, nor is it about any particular version of the Bible being more “correct” than any or all others. This is based on a lot of research, study, prayer and meditation based on the Word of God, which surpasses the religious dogma of mankind.

So what will our starting point be? How can we make sense out of end times prophesy considering all the angles and points of view being discussed both within and outside of the Church? One good starting point is found in the book of Isaiah, chapter ten, verses 1-4, as it is written: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain.”

Who is it that makes unjust laws? Was this intended for groups of people, or races, or entire nations? First of all, discriminatory laws are based on all of the above. Laws that discriminate against people due to their race, nationality, creed, gender, age, sexual orientation – and especially for class and financial status – have no place in any 21st century society. Here in the US, we have or have had institutionalized discrimination based on all of the above for as long as I can remember, and I was born in the 1950’s. During WWII, America forcibly incarcerated several hundred thousand Japanese Americans based solely on their race and ancestry. Then there were the “Jim Crow” laws that openly oppressed all black Americans up until the 1950’s. As you know, there are significant vestiges against our black brothers and sisters that continue to make themselves known even as I write this. And let’s not forget the genocide of Native Americans that has been ongoing for the last two hundred years.

Another form of discrimination still in force in modern times has been the enormously wasteful war on drugs (if you smoke cannabis, even for medical reasons, you’re considered a criminal, but if you overdose on pills that you purchased legally, it’s usually ruled to be accidental and it gets swept under the rug). As of 2014, 54% of all incarcerated inmates at the state and federal levels are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses – mainly simple possession cases – with well over 75% of these hapless individuals being people of color. Now there’s a classic case of discrimination based on race, ethnicity and class. Last but not least, is the ticking time bomb of economic inequality. When you have a situation where 99% of any given country’s wealth (not just America – but anyone) is in the hands of 1% of the population, you have a recipe for class warfare and civil unrest throughout the country. All of these things are the result of unjust laws and oppressive decrees whose source is the US government. And it is for this reason, among a few others, that America has been judged by God and found to be wanting.

What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar?” What was Isaiah talking about? “Days of disaster” from “afar” sounds a lot like a nuclear first strike or the battle of Armageddon. This has nothing to do with domestic terrorism. This is worded to look like anything from terrorism outside the US directed inward to a full amphibious military assault on American soil by way of external invasion. Before moving on, allow me to share another quote from the prophet Isaiah: “Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is within it, the world, and all the nations that come out of it! The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood (Isaiah chapter 34, verses 1-3, NIV). How does this read to you? I see the total obliteration of all the armies of the world, and the US will not escape unharmed – not by a long shot. God is sick and tired of all the countless centuries of fighting amongst mankind. He has had more than enough of those who are murderers, robbers, kidnappers, extortionists and rapists within the civilian population (not counting the military). God is enraged with the world’s armies who kill and pillage their neighbors and other counties due to extreme covetousness on the part of all the governments and multinational corporations who forcefully put their profit margins ahead of the people they claim to be serving. So, God is going to wipe out all the world’s armed services in one swift stroke, and what a horrible day that will be! God wins, and everybody who stands against him will lose, beginning with those for whom fighting has become a way to make a living.

Now that I have shared some quotes from the Old Testament, I will move on to the New Testament. As I do this, let me mention some related facts with regard to Bible prophecy. There are numerous examples of prophecy throughout the Bible that have to do with the end times that we are currently living in. In the overwhelming majority of these instances, these prophecies have to do with the fate of the nation of Israel, God’s holy land. Much has been said about the fact that the United States doesn’t seem to fit into Biblical prophecy, and that it is barely mentioned at all. By and large this is very true. But there is one place in the Bible where America is not only mentioned, but her fate is spelled out in stark and frightening detail. For that, we need to go all the way to the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, where we will focus the remainder of this commentary on chapter 18.

Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons, and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth have committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. Then I heard another voice from heaven say, ‘Come out of her, O my people, so that you may not share in her sins, so that you will not receive her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion of her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as a queen, I am not a widow, and I will never mourn’. Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her : death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry, ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’” (Revelation 18, verses 2-10, NIV)

What is Babylon the Great? Is this a person, a place or a thing? It has been taught in the past that this is a reference to the Babylonian Empire that conquered the nation of Israel and carried her into captivity around 880 BC. There is a famous quote from Iraq’s now-deceased dictator Saddam Hussein that he was going to resurrect this ancient empire and make it into a world power as in days of old. As you all know, this didn’t quite work out as Saddam Hussein had planned. So we can discount that possibility by process of elimination. Others have taught erroneously that this was symbolism for the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, or for the Roman Empire, Napoleon’s France or Hitler’s Germany. But when we compare these possibilities to the ancient prophets such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Zachariah, or Joel – to name a few – Babylon the Great as foretold in Revelation simply doesn’t match up with those passages of Scripture. So we conclude that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, and that horrific future will become the present much sooner rather than later based on Scripture. Since Babylon the Great is a world power based on what we have just read, that leaves only one possibility. What global powerhouse, both financial and military, fits this description? None other than the USA.

Let’s examine this more closely, starting with verse two. “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons, and a haunt for every evil spirit … For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Has the US become a home for demons and evil spirits? We only need to look at today’s news for the answer. There are mass shootings (and stabbings such as what just occurred this past week) in our nation’s schools, at military bases, and out in the streets. Mayhem is running rampant and it continues to get ever worse. America is descending into a battlefield populated by murderers, armed robbers, rapists and thieves. People of all ages are being kidnapped or they disappear every time you turn around or look up. Sometimes their bodies are found, and it gets chalked up as a murder. Other times, and especially concerning our children, people disappear never to be seen or heard from again. This is usually because they are either kidnapped and sold on the black market by human traffickers, or because they are being sacrificed in satanic rituals that are nothing short of revolting. So we can now see clearly that the phrase “home for demons” is very accurate indeed. What is “the maddening wine of her adulteries”? This is far more than mere substance abuse or addiction, although those things do play a part. I think this represents all the espionage, cloak-and-dagger black operations, and political and military maneuvering behind the scenes both at home and abroad. From the Kennedy assassinations to Rev. Dr. King’s brutal murder, from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to incidents of domestic terrorism such as Waco Texas, Ruby Ridge Idaho, Oklahoma City and the 9/11 attacks, America’s “leadership” has been behind them all to one extent or another (they’re called “false flag operations”). So as we translate this into 21st century English, the US government has been fooling around behind the scenes for decades as they engage in espionage in nearly every country in the world, playing both sides of the fence, pitting one opponent against another, and most recently by drone warfare.

Come out of her, O my people, so that you may not share in her sins, so that you will not receive her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.” There are at least two different explanations I have read about for this verse. The benign explanation comes from the apostle John’s first book (among other examples) that says we are to be “in the world but not of it”. I suppose my own life could be an example of sorts, or at least to a certain extent. I live in a high-crime area for economic reasons that would take too long to explain, but no one will ever see me out in the streets doing anything like that – ever! There are still others, some Christian and some not, who have taken this passage literally by obtaining a passport and leaving the US for countries where the cost of living is lower (which is nearly everywhere else). Once they have established themselves, they renounce their American citizenship. Also, the “crimes” mentioned in this passage are everything I described above, and I regret to inform you all that my country, the United States, is guilty of all the above, and there are times when I feel ashamed about America. Not its people – just those in charge.

Mix her a double portion of her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.” Evidently the US will get all their bad karma thrown back in her face, meaning that things within US borders will become as bad or worse than the most corrupt 3rd world nation anyone can think of. Pandemonium will reign supreme across America’s landscape, and only those who put their complete trust in God and his only Son will escape unharmed. “Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her … She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry, ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’” What does it mean when it mentions “her plagues”? Some say it will be epidemics of various kinds, and I believe this is at least partially true, but I also think there is more to it than that. It is a little-known fact that America has the world’s largest stockpile of germ warfare weaponry. The ongoing civil war in Syria is just one example. By now nearly everyone has seen the international news broadcasts about the Syrian people who were killed by chemical weapons of mass destruction. If you believe everything you see on the news – and who does anymore – you were force-fed false information that it was the Syrian government who launched these weapons after their own people. It wasn’t until days later that it was determined that opposition rebels were the ones who may have used those weapons against their own people. Where did these Syrian rebels get these weapons? They most definitely didn’t have the resources to go out and buy such awful weapons. That leaves only one other possibility – none other than the United States. Our own country supplied the rebels for these WMD’s, and they had the CIA’s fingerprints all over them. Now that’s what I mean by a false flag attack! But, it’s the last verse of this passage of Scripture that sends chills up and down my back: “In one hour your doom has come!’” This is not a typo, people. When America falls, it will happen quite literally in one hour, like turning off an electric light. There is more to back this up further down in this same chapter of Revelation, so let’s begin to conclude this Spiritual fact-finding mission by taking up where we left off at verse 11.

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon, spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep, horses and carriages; and the bodies and souls of men … Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’. Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who had been killed on the earth.’” (Rev. 8, verses 11-13, verses 17-24, NIV)

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore… “. I could end this commentary right about here and simply say that this is a prediction and a prophecy regarding America for the near future, but that’s only part of the explanation. As I write this, the US still has the world’s largest economy, but it will remain so only up to about 2016, which will be the year that Red China’s economy will overtake and surpass that of the US. At that point, the US dollar will no longer be able to maintain its position as the world’s reserve currency of choice, and the dollar will either have to be devalued or it will suffer a total crash – the likes of which no one has ever seen before (it will make the Great Depression of the 1930’s look like child’s play). This is the first two and the most palatable options for what will happen to the US economy in the next 2 to 3 years. But what if it’s not just the US that goes belly up? That leads me to the second possible conclusion, which would be a total collapse of Capitalism as an economic system. This would make the above passage of Scripture from Revelation something to be taken symbolically rather than literally. “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.” “The great city” could very well be New York City or Washington, DC. Then again, this could be symbolism for an economic system and not just one country – a truly terrifying possibility. Either scenario would create unimaginable chaos across our land as well as the other Capitalist countries in Western Europe and Asia, and let’s not forget Australia while we’re at it. But check out what John wrote further down: “Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” There it is again; the prediction that the US will not only fall, but that she will never rise again, and it will all be over with in just one hour. Of course, there will be some who dismiss this commentary straight out of hand, and they will say, “Who does Pastor Bern think he is? Why, he never even graduated from a seminary!” I will only respond that I have taken this straight out of the Scriptures. My word may be refutable to some, but the Word of God is irrefutable! Be careful that these dire predictions don’t fall from out of the blue and hit you right in the head. There is no substitute for God’s Word, so there can be no argument about that.

Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.” This implies that there will be religious persecution of Christians in America, something that has previously never happened up until now. This is not a drill, this is the real deal. There is one last prophecy that needs to be mentioned here, and it reads as follows: “Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” This can only be explained as a meteor or comet strike upon the earth. There is nothing else that fits this description. So, insofar as this is possible, it must be taken very seriously. Otherwise, like Babylon the Great, America will be obliterated. So there you have it: the United States is in Bible prophecy all right, but not in the way the majority of churches and denominations are anticipating – nowhere near, in point of fact. The time for all of us to get ready for these events – and they will occur, it’s only a question of when – is today, while we still have time and while we still have a choice. So until next week at this same time, keep a close eye on current events globally, particularly in the US and Israel, keep on studying your Bible, and continue to look upward for any sign of our Lord’s return. Shalom!

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We need to quit judging one another. It’s time for some unity.

Judging Other People

What does the Bible say about judging other people? This goes way beyond mere physical appearances, mannerisms or idiosyncrasies. It surpasses all concepts of right and wrong, although that can play a part. The Bible defines judging others as having contempt for, or a hatred of people. It means considering ourselves better than others for racial, moral, economic, age, religious or gender related reasons. It is morally wrong to do this because we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and God bestows his gifts and attributes to us on an equal basis. Therefore, we are all equals in God’s sight, and I could write a whole sermon on that topic alone. There are several good quotes from the Bible that I am going to use to make my point. The first is from the gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, chapter 7, verses 1 and 2.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)

What this verse also says is the more harshly we judge other people, the more harshly we will be judged when it is our turn. Make no mistake, every one of us will get his or her turn to be judged by God when our lives are over. The only exceptions will be those who will be caught up in the rapture of the Church during the Great Tribulation that is prophesied by the book of Revelation, as well as by the apostle Paul in his letters to the Thessalonian church. And that, my dear readers, will only be a select few people. So what is the criteria for this? It will simply be how we treated other people, and by how good we made them feel. It’s going to be about how much unconditional love, kindness and patience we show others. That’s why Jesus said during his sermon on the mountain, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). We are to be practicing gentleness when making discernment about others, otherwise our harshness and being judgmental will come back around and bite us in the tail.

I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 7:27 NIV)

This Old Testament quote from Scripture is the basis for quotations from the New. The more mean we treat others, the meaner God will be towards us when our lives are over. If we treat people gently, God will be gentle with us to the point where it shows up in the lives of those who habitually perform this good deed. How then should we be living? We should be living as if God is watching everything we do and listening to everything we say. This means we should be taking care of others, nurturing and encouraging instead of criticizing and rejecting others just because they don’t meet our lofty standards. We are not at the center of the universe! Remember that for every person who seems to come up short as far as we are concerned, there is another that feels the same way about us whether they tell us or not. People who are in the habit of acting this way toward others are always people who dislike themselves. They see something about themselves that they don’t like in someone else’s personality or character and they go after that person tooth and nail. As long as they are attacking someone else, they don’t have to look at themselves.

The next 2 quotes are from the book of James in the New Testament. They take judging of others a step further by getting at the roots of passing judgment.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 3: 11-12 NIV)

Well said, James, my dear brother. Who do we think we are? Since everyone is a sinner in God’s sight, God can only save us if we are merciful towards one another. Jesus said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. The Bible commands us to love one another, and Jesus taught us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. We cannot simultaneously judge others and still be merciful towards them. We can’t claim to love others while sitting in judgment of them. Judgment and mercy are exact opposites, they are mutually exclusive of one another. The same goes for slander and love. There is no way to talk badly about your neighbor, friend, co-worker or relative and then profess your love for them. This bring me to the final verses of this lesson.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2: 12-13 (NIV)

True judgment gives freedom according to James. Restrictive judgment says to those around us ‘I think I’m better than you’. That is not from God. It is man-made and it is derived from excessive pride. Being merciful towards others no matter what they have said or done tends to motivate most people to want to do better. Judging, on the other hand, implies that they can’t do any better, so why not just write them off? It’s taking the easy way out, and that is never God’s way.

There is one more aspect of passing judgment that I think I should mention, and that is the often controversial subject of racism. Hatred, bigotry and intolerance directed towards others are the polar opposites of being merciful. The best way to achieve peace on earth is for everybody to start showing mercy and tolerance towards one another (provided that that mercy and tolerance is not abused by its recipient). The Bible says any time we display racism, intolerance, bigotry and prejudice towards one another, it is the same as hating God who made them all. Who are we to question the handiwork of the Lord? Besides, when we devalue others we ultimately devalue ourselves since God sees everyone as equals. These are simple truths, yet they seem to elude us the majority of the time. Imagine a world without hate or harsh judgment that is filled compassion and mercy for everyone. What a wonderful place to live that would be! The Bible already tells us how. It’s just that too few people are putting it into practice.

God has given each of us the responsibility of not being so quick to pass judgment on each other. Instead, we are to be merciful towards each other because “mercy triumphs over judgment”. Ask yourself this question right now. Am I too judgmental? Am I a prejudiced individual? If you are it’s time to repent, to turn away from this behavior pattern, and to turn to God, he can provide all the answers you need. If you feel that you may not be strong enough to change, pray to God and ask Him to help you change into a better person. You will be surprised at how willing He will be. Let’s practice together to not be judgmental towards one another, and to be merciful instead. It’s a better way of life.

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What God do you worship? Whether it’s Jesus or not, you really should read this

The Only God That’s Real by Rev. Paul J. Bern

This week’s commentary will be taken from the book of Acts in the New Testament, which is right after the gospel of John for all you new believers. I will use the Scriptures to prove that the one true God is above and beyond churches and organized religion, in keeping with the theme of this website. The first thing that I want to point out is that there are many false gods in the modern world. The most egregious example that comes to mind is the worship of money and all the evils that come with it. In the apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. That means money in and of itself is not always evil, but the insatiable lust for money most definitely is. Jesus said in the four Gospels, “No one can serve two masters. He/she will either love one and reject the other, or cling to the latter while despising the former. You cannot serve both God and materialism.” (NIV)

Let’s ask ourselves these questions – do we sometimes find ourselves in automotive dealerships every time a new model comes out? Do we shop for new clothes, electronics, mobile or “smart” phones, the latest computers, and new decor for our homes whether we need them or not, just because they’re “on sale”? Do we sometimes find ourselves shopping for a new house whether we need one or not? Are any of us in debt up to their eyeballs (not counting student loans) because we owe too much on our credit cards? If anyone answered “yes” to any of these questions, and particularly if you prioritize these things at the expense of your Spiritual lives, you may be worshiping a false god. It is Jesus Christ and he alone that must be at the top of our priorities. Anything else takes a back seat to Jesus in the order of our lives. Most of the things I just mentioned are not evil in and of themselves. But false and futile worship of anything other than God, through Jesus Christ our Savior, amounts to idol worship. A similar line of questioning was presented to the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago, and it is well documented in the book of Acts in the New Testament. I will begin with a quote from chapter 17, beginning at verse 16.

While Paul was in Athens……. he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of….. philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign Gods’. They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus (which was basically a temple for idol worship and a meeting place), where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean’……. Then Paul stood up at the meeting of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth……. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps to reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us…. as some of your own poets have said, “we are his offspring”. Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent….when they heard about [Jesus] resurrection from the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “we want to hear from you again on this subject”…Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the [Jews and Greeks] that Jesus was the [Messiah]. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’.” (Acts 17, verses 16-32; 18: 5-6; NIV)

This passage is just one of numerous examples of Paul’s teaching about the one true God. I especially appreciate that Paul made two distinct points about God. The first is that God is above and beyond all nationalities, races and religions because he preached the same message equally to Jews, Greeks and Gentiles (a group of people that included everybody else). This was considered to be a radical teaching at the time because all these groups believed that their version of God was the correct one to the exclusion of everybody else. This very point continues being emphasized today by certain church denominations who I will decline to name. Nobody has the exclusive path to God. No one has the right to claim that they are any closer to God than anyone else. It’s just not true and it never was.

The second point that catches the human eye and captures my imagination is what Paul said about where God lives. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives life and breath and everything else.” What an awesome statement! Think about how many churches there are in the world. All are called “houses of worship” regardless of which religion they represent. And yet God doesn’t live in any of them. Instead, for the true believer God lives in the minds and hearts of all individual believers. Never mind all the spiritual sophistry that’s being “taught” in some modern churches, because it’s largely based on money. God doesn’t care who you are, where you live, what you have done (or not), what country you are from or what church you are connected with (or not). He doesn’t care where you have been, and He doesn’t care about what is in your past. Unlike many men and women who attend church regularly, God doesn’t care what you look like, or what your social or economic status is. God couldn’t care less what church you go to, or even if you go at all. The one true God doesn’t even live in church, although a lot of phony religious leaders and related clergy will no doubt insist that He does. Instead, God wants to live and breathe in your hearts and minds. He wants you to become a church in and of yourself, a church that walks and talks. Not only does God want to live inside you, He wants us all to act as if we do. That means that He wants us all to have a conscience and to learn how to use it most effectively.

In closing, let me add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to church. If you currently attend, I’m certain that God wants you to continue to go so long as you keep hearing messages from the pulpit that are encouraging, uplifting and positive. I don’t want this message to be a reason for those who are attending church to stop going. God forbid! On the other hand, please keep in mind that the church is just a building and nothing more. I acknowledge that churches are built as meeting places for like-minded believers and that they should remain so. But now that you have read today’s message you know a better way to keep everything in perspective. You can look at organized religion with skepticism as I do, but do not let that compromise your most deeply held beliefs. The one true God is greater that all the religions in the world combined. He is truly above and beyond it all.

Let me say one more thing, and I really wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point this out. If we are going to have God living inside of each of us then we should be living and acting as if He did. Watch what you say and how you say it. Clean up your life and the language that you use. Be mindful of anything that you are doing to excess because this is the root of all addictive behavior. Live your life as if God is watching what you do and listening to everything that you say because He really is. Until next time, be a church that walks and talks so you can be a good example for others to follow, especially those who look up to you. And the almost incomprehensible peace that is the very embodiment of Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world – will remain with you all. Amen.

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The Majority of Americans Favor Legalization

Are America‘s Drug Laws in Line With God’s Laws?

The Bible says in the Old Testament “Obey the laws of the land in which you are living, so that it may go well for you where you abide”. This is always good advice. Jail is no place for anyone to be, and it is that way by design to deter crime. But what if the laws we are duty-bound to obey run contrary to the Bible? Is it possible for a man-made law to be contrary to the Bible’s teachings? And if so, should we still obey it? Is there an example of this anywhere in the Bible?

The answer to all of these is an emphatic yes. The most obvious example of this would be the crucifixion of Christ Jesus himself. If we take all the religious teaching in the Bible and set it aside for just a moment, we find that from a purely historical perspective Jesus was crucified as a criminal because He preached against organized government and organized religion. It is not well understood by many people that the teachings of Christ were revolutionary in their time, a fact that the modern church is not teaching, much to their discredit. When Jesus taught, he spent much more time with the common people than He did at the temple at Jerusalem, where His teachings were met with much consternation among the religious establishment of that time. He was viewed by the political and religious establishment as a threat, and so they put Him to death, not realizing that He would only be in the grave for three days. Another example would be in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. When Daniel refused to bow down to the god of king Nebuchadnezzar, the king had Daniel thrown into a fiery furnace, only to emerge some time later unharmed. When the king sentenced Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednigo to that same furnace that was heated up to 7 times hotter than normal, they too were unharmed. Instead, the king looked into the furnace and saw four men instead of three, “and the fourth man looked like the Son of Man”, which was Jesus Christ. Jesus stood with Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednigo in king Nebuchadnezzar’s great furnace and protected them from harm. He did so despite the fact that they had been given a death sentence by the governmental authority of their day.

The most relevant question to ask at this point is whether there is an example of this in modern times, and how it applies to us. The unfortunate answer in this case is also an emphatic yes, and I am talking about the criminalization of marijuana (and its cousin, hemp, one of the most useful plants that exists with numerous applications) in this country. (Beg your pardon, pastor? Marijuana! Been smoking any?) Before anyone jumps to conclusions or judges me for my words, I have a Scriptural example of what I am talking about. Just hold your thoughts for a moment for a quick check of God’s Word. In the book of Acts in the New Testament, it says the following in chapter ten:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up … to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him ‘Get up Peter, kill and eat!’. ‘Surely not Lord’, Peter replied, ‘I have never eaten anything impure and unclean’. The voice spoke to him a second time ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean’. This happened three times, and then the sheet was taken back to heaven.” (Acts 10, 9-16 NIV)

 Now let’s hold that thought while we go back to the book of Genesis, the first book in the Old Testament, to the very first chapter. It states in verses 11 through 13:

Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds’. And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seeds according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with their seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning the third day.” (Genesis 1, verses 11-13, NIV)

And so, it really jumps out at us in Genesis that God made all the plant life and fauna on earth and then “saw that it was good”. And yet cannabis is outlawed as a dangerous schedule one narcotic. Never mind that nobody ever died or overdosed from smoking weed, while cigarettes kill 50,000 people per year and overdoses of legal prescription drugs kill 100,000 more, not counting suicides. On the other hand, medical uses for cannabis are well documented, such as being effective for glaucoma and chemotherapy patients as well as some (but not all) mental health patients, among other things. There are literally millions of others like me who are clamoring for legalization. Moreover, in a poll just released this week 52% of all Americans want cannabis (its proper name) and hemp (its cousin which has literally tons of commercial applications, including biofuel) to be legalized. If either or both were to be legalized, it would create an agricultural and industrial bonanza, creating several million new jobs, maybe even more.

The Bible admonishes us to “not call anything unclean that God has made clean”. Peter, who was the equivalent of an orthodox Jew in today’s world, protested to God against breaking the religious laws of the time. He was forbidden from eating the meat from certain animals based on the Law of Moses, the Jewish religious doctrine of that time, which is known as the Old Testament today. But God told Peter in his vision that it was okay, that His laws superseded the religious laws of the day. This is noticeably consistent with the teachings of Christ, who taught that His teachings were a new agreement between mankind and God that replaced the old agreement, or Old Testament. Today, being a Christian means being “born again” and receiving a new life in Christ, with all our sins against God, our mistakes and character flaws, our personality defects and moral shortcomings of our past being canceled out by the blood of Christ. And so we become fortunate enough through our newly found favor with God to not be charged with any penalty for the sins and errors of our past.

Let me be absolutely clear that we are being lied to by our government about the “dangers” of marijuana use. Cannabis, as it is called much of the rest of the world, is erroneously classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule one narcotic. A narcotic is defined as a barbiturate (downers) or an amphetamine (uppers). It is a manufactured substance made up of certain chemicals which can be physically addictive when abused. Yet these two classes of drugs are legal in spite of their inherent danger. The USDEA, on the other hand, has classified marijuana as a dangerous narcotic when in fact it is neither. Marijuana is nothing more than a plant. It is not manufactured and it contains no harmful chemicals or physically addictive tendencies. God put the marijuana plant on this earth for mankind’s use. It has medicinal properties that are well documented. It is beneficial and not dangerous provided that it is not abused. AIDS patients use it because it helps them regain their appetite. There is study after study published in various medical journals going back decades that prove that marijuana used for medical and recreational purposes is harmless when used in reasonable quantities. That’s why we should, as in times of old, “not call anything impure that God has made clean”. Who do the abusive authoritarians think they are to criminalize God by outlawing that which He created? All this proves is their colossal arrogance and their closed-mindedness.

So do I think everybody should start smoking pot? Of course not. I sometimes use medical marijuana for a nervous disorder that I suffer from, as well as a permanent back injury, without any side effects. But this does not mean it’s for everybody. For example, certain individuals may be allergic to weed, or they may dislike the smell of the smoke, or have other personal reservations about its use. As Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial”. What’s good for one person may not be so for another. Many people drink and have no problem with it personally, while others abstain by choice, and each is equally entitled to their opinion. Is this a contradiction in the Bible then? Not at all. You will recall that I stated that Christ replaced the Old Testament with the New when He died on the cross and then rose from the dead after three days. So if we obey the new law, the law of Christ, obeying the laws of the land should come naturally without effort. But the criminalization of marijuana calls pot “dangerous” and “narcotic” and makes something “unclean” of a part of God’s creation that He has “made clean” (by its very creation). That’s why the marijuana laws in this country run contrary to God’s laws.

What should we do? If medical marijuana ever comes up for a vote in your state, vote yes. In the meantime, try to be a law-abiding citizen, understanding that not all of the laws on the books are good ones. Some, like the drug laws, are there for the wrong reason because they are protecting the wrong people. That’s why the drug laws are bad ones. We live in a world that is basically evil, but there is still much good despite all that. The Bible can teach us to learn to differentiate between the two for our own benefit.

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Attempting to resolve the gay marriage controversy from a Progressive Christian viewpoint

Gay Marriage and The Progressive Christian

 

 

I find it impossible to resist composing this short dissertation on the recent movement of same-sex marriage into the media spotlight, and all the consternation it has been causing. The legal and moral status of gays and lesbians has always been problematic throughout human society. In modern American society, it occurs in at least two contexts: socioeconomic and moral. We begin with the socioeconomic questions raised by the issue. It is no small surprise that homosexuality has remained a social issue for centuries. Its first mention in writing known to modern man is the Bible. Under the US Constitution the issue of sexuality was not even mentioned. Jesus never mentioned it, but the apostle Paul did preach against it as documented in the first three chapters of the book of Romans. But what is less known is that Paul was evidently celibate by choice, and particularly after he began his ministry, which gives Paul’s words a monastic tone even by the standards of his day. Homosexuality is also condemned in the Old Testament in the book of Deuteronomy, among other places. Much more currently and to the contrary, the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the Texas Sodomy Law relies on the 10th Amendment states’ rights.

 

On moral issues the government has two options: It can be a leader and pioneer greater protection for sexual options as it did when Truman desegregated the military, or it can follow the lead of state governments on the issue. It has no standing to increase regulation of sexual matters without a clear and present need. The recent Defense of Marriage Act treads dangerous constitutional ground by allowing states to opt out of the full faith and credit clause in the Constitution. Then again, it may be a more dangerous precedent to the top 1% for the Congress to pass a law that it can ignore the Constitution by statute. This may give the remaining 99% of us ample legal firepower to take back our country from those high, mighty and privileged who have shamelessly stolen it. It sure looks to me like the right wing can no longer hide if it wishes to honor such a dangerous precedent.

 

The Fourteenth Amendment expanded the role of federal intervention into sexual politics. This Amendment requires the Federal government to guarantee that state laws provide equal protection to all of its citizens, period. If a State government, acting as the agent of culture, grants a privilege or a protection in any area, then all in that State must be given an opportunity to enjoy it. The Nineteenth Amendment was passed just over 50 years later, giving everyone an equal right to vote. In a democratic society the mores of the dominant culture are reflected in these regulations. In this country the Judeo-Christian culture is dominant, and its mores are reflected in the law. If this were a predominantly Muslim or Mormon culture polygamy could be an accepted part of the law. However, in the current dominant culture in most states polygamy is considered a crime. In the area of sexuality cultural mores are fluid. In the days of the Hebrew Patriarchs polygamy was considered moral, as it was more practical in a primitive society. As society moved to a more urban setting this changed, and the sexual mores reflect this change.

 

In the American culture tolerance is a strongly held virtue. This is by necessity, as tolerance of the differences of others leads to their tolerance of our differences. In former times anti-Catholicism and a hatred of Black and Jewish people was a part of American civic and religious culture. Among most Americans these are no longer considered acceptable, and rightfully so. As the belief in tolerance has increased many have come forward to demand acceptance. Among these are gays and lesbians. As the culture changes, the law is adapting to it, especially given the wider application of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. An aspect of equal protection is the question of laws prohibiting homosexual behavior. Many argue there is no question involved, as they have been taught that homosexuality is wrong and that is the end of it. That is adequate for teachings on personal morality. However, in a free society, trying to base public policy choices solely on religious authority, however well intentioned, simply wouldn’t work when put into practice. Moral teachings cannot dictate public policy choice. Rather, they are to be used to inform rational choices in the context of a free society.

 

I see three moral objections to homosexuality in its current state, the biblical example of Sodom and Gomorrah, the nature of the homosexual relationship and the majority’s feelings about the homosexual act. There can be no argument that the sins of the city-state of Sodom and Gomorrah cried out to heaven for justice. I do have some hagging doubts as to whether the sin that cried to heaven was simply homosexuality, or something worse. A reading of the biblical text shows the sin of Sodom was not its permission of homosexuality but its inhospitality to Lot’s visitors, who in reality were the Angel of the Lord. Genesis states that the crowd wished to have its way with Lot’s visitors. One does not demand to rape God’s representatives on earth and expect to come away unscathed. Rape was the sin of Sodom, and I firmly agree that this does cry to heaven for justice.

 

The homosexual relationship can be examined for completeness. Biologically it is obviously incomplete, as by its very nature it precludes the ultimate in sexual love, the creation of a new individual. However, this does not preclude it from being the ultimate form of love. The ultimate form of love is to lay down one’s life for another, or through selfless dedication. There is nothing in the homosexual relationship that precludes this, and in fact it often occurs when one cares for a lover who has been stricken by AIDS. As for me, living here in Atlanta – a place where there are a lot of gay people – I don’t enthusiastically support gay folks but I tolerate it and give equal treatment to them because they are entitled to it by law. To do otherwise is to judge, and the Bible warns us repeatedly about judging other people. The apostle James said it very well in James chapter 2, verses 12 and 13, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” “Do not judge”, Jesus said, “for you who pass judgment on others do the same things yourselves”.

 

The final objection is that many find homosexual sex personally disgusting. While this is an argument for not engaging in homosexual relations personally, it is not strong enough to prohibit it to others who do not find it so. Personal preferences and prejudices do not determine public policy choices. Part of one’s sexual preference is to exclude other preferences. It is natural for displays of homosexual affection to disquiet heterosexuals, just as displays of heterosexual affection give some queens the willies. In a majority gay culture, do heterosexuals want their conduct regulated? I think not. Those who are disgusted by the idea of homosexuality need to ask themselves which is more disgusting, the act itself or the state taking an interest in the act. What would Jesus do?

 

Having argued that the first principle of morality is that God loves man (as that is God’s nature), it follows that any moral code must reflect God’s desire that man be happy and fulfilled in his humanity. Behaving inhumanely is inherently not natural. In both natural law and divine law homosexuality is not disordered for one who was created homosexual by God. Under such an ordering, the teaching that homosexuals refrain from their God-given sexuality is disordered, as its effect is to alienate homosexuals from the Church and place them outside its wise counsel on monogamy as opposed to promiscuity. When the Church promulgates a teaching it is responsible for the result. If the result of a church teaching is teen suicide and adult promiscuity, then the teaching against homosexuality is disordered.

 

Some religious people wish to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals, or teach them to remain celibate in order to undertake religious practice. After some careful thought about this for a long time, I disagree. To teach another about morality, you must first gain their trust. The reason gays and lesbians don’t trust evangelicals and traditionalist Catholics is because the would-be evangelists don’t trust the gays when they authentically state that they did not choose to be gay, that God created them that way. So these evangelicals, all of whom are straight, claim to know where the gays are coming from. Except they can’t, so by teaching homosexuality as being a choice, they lie. To be trusted, you must trust. Authenticity is important. It is why alcoholics listen to each other rather than ministers to get sober, they trust someone who has been there – not someone who has not.

Other Protestant groups do not wish to evangelize gays. They are instead under the misguided notion that God punishes a culture that allows homosexuality. This is not only silly; it is uncharitable. God demands we treat others with charity, even and especially those we don’t agree with. Practicing legal discrimination in God’s name is flat out wrong. I have long believed that if Jesus were teaching the story of the Good Samaritan today, he would change the Good Samaritan to the Good Drag Queen. Or maybe some black dude from prison. Or maybe an “illegal alien”, if any of you still remain under the mistaken notion that illegal human beings exist. This was just His style. If you don’t think so, then you really don’t know the Lord as well as you think you do. Speaking as your pastor, it’s part of my job to tell you all this stuff. Your salvation in Christ is directly proportional to your tolerance of others who are unlike yourself.

 

Public affirmations of sexuality among heterosexuals is not only condoned, but legitimized through laws on marriage and family relations. Under equal protection homosexuals have an equal right to state sanction. It is also in the state’s best interest to acquiesce to such rights. The AIDS epidemic has highlighted the public health question involving homosexuality. When monogamous homosexuals are not given access to the institution of marriage, then the law implicitly endorses promiscuity. Venereal disease has always made promiscuity a dangerous choice, both for straights and gays. With the advent of AIDS it becomes fatal. The sanctioning of marriage by homosexuals lessens promiscuity and brings gays into the moral order. In doing so it helps to halt the spread of disease. As such it is in the interests of the state and the society. Social and religious leaders who accept the legitimacy and morality of monogamous gay relationships then have standing to teach that promiscuity is wrong. Until they do so, they are hopelessly out of touch, putting their gay brethren out of reach.

Evil people rule when good people do nothing.

 

 

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The Priorities of Capitalism Has Us All Upside Down

We Need to Realize That a Good Life

Is More Important Than Money

 

The political and economic debate in the United States and Europe revolves around public financial deficits and how best to resolve them while ignoring the deficits that most endanger our future. In the United States, as Republican deficit hawks tell the story, “America is broke. We must cut government spending on social programs we cannot afford. And we must lower taxes on Wall Street so more money can grow the economy, create new jobs, increase total tax revenues, and eliminate the deficit.” Democrats respond, “Yes, we’re pretty broke, but the answer is to raise taxes on Wall Street looters to pay for government spending that primes the economic pump by putting people to work building critical infrastructure and performing essential public services. This puts money in people’s pockets to spend on private sector goods and services and is our best hope to grow the economy.” Both sides have it wrong on two key points.

 

 

First, both focus on growing America’s GDP while ignoring the reality that the benefits of GDP growth over the past several decades have gone almost exclusively to the top 1 percent – with dire consequences for the remaining 99% resulting in the worst epidemic of long-term unemployment and homelessness since the Great Depression. Second, both focus on financial deficits, which can be resolved with relative ease if we eliminate rampant waste in government domestically while bringing our troops home from overseas, where they are unwanted and unnecessary. To achieve the ideal of a world that secures health and prosperity for all people for generations to come, we must redefine the public debate about the choices we face as a nation and as a species. We must measure economic performance against the outcomes we really want, give life priority over money, and recognize that money is a means, not an end. The key point, which the deficit debates rarely address, is that one person or entity’s financial debt is another person or entity’s financial asset. We can only borrow money from each other. The idea that we borrow money from the future is an illusion.

 

 

From a societal perspective, total debts and assets are always in balance. Consequently, if we say that one person or entity has excessive financial debt, we in effect say that another has excessive financial assets. Reducing the financial debt of debtors necessarily requires reducing the financial assets of the creditors. In theory, we could instantly wipe away all financial debts through a universal forgiveness, a modern equivalent of the ancient institution of the Jubilee (see the Old Testament, specifically the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy). Simply put, all debts that have been accumulated over a seven year period were universally and unconditionally forgiven. This was the law of the land in the Old Testament, written by Moses and dictated by Almighty God. Every seventh year was regarded as a “Year of Jubilee”, and yet only Jewish people and the Seventh Day Adventists still celebrate this important feast. The ancients recognized the significance of such action to restore the balance essential to the healthy function of the human community. The deficit-hawks recoil in horror at the very mention of this while frantically reassuring us that we can reduce government debt while leaving the financial assets of the rich untouched. It makes perfect sense in the fantasy world of pure finance in which profits and the financial assets of the rich grow perpetually even as growing inequality and wasteful material consumption deplete the social capital of community and the natural capital of Earth’s biosphere. A viable human future, however, must be based on living world realities rather than financial world fantasies.

 

 

Any normally intelligent 12-year-old is fully capable of understanding the distinction between a living forest or fishery and a system of financial accounts that exists only as electronic traces on a computer hard drive. Unfortunately, this simple distinction seems to be beyond the comprehension of the economists, pundits, and politicians who frame the public debate on economic policy. By referring to financial assets as “capital” and treating them as if they had some intrinsic worth beyond their value as a token of exchange, they sustain the deception that Wall Street is creating wealth rather than manipulating the financial system to accumulate accounting claims against wealth it had no part in creating. Real capital assets have productive value in their own right and cannot be created with a computer key stroke. The most essential forms of real capital are social capital (the bonds of trust and caring essential to healthy community function) and biosystem capital (the living systems essential to Earth’s capacity to support life). We are depleting both with reckless abandon. Social capital is the foundation of our human capacity to innovate, produce, engage in cooperative problem solving, manage Earth’s available natural wealth to meet the needs of all, and live together in peace and shared prosperity. Social capital is depleted as individualistic greed becomes the prevailing moral standard and the governing institutions of society deprive all but a privileged minority of access to a secure and dignified means of living. Once it is depleted, social capital can take generations to restore.

 

 

Biosystem capital provides a continuing supply of breathable air, drinkable water, soils to grow our food, forests to produce our timber, oceans teeming with fish, grassland that feed our livestock, sun, wind, and geothermal to provide our energy, climate stability, and much else essential to human survival, health, and happiness. It is depleted when soils are degraded, when oceans are fished to the point where whole species are threatened with extinction, when rivers and lakes are polluted, forests cut down, aquifers contaminated and depleted, and climate stabilization systems disrupted. These natural systems can take thousands, even millions of years to restore. Species extinction is forever. According to the World Wildlife Federation’s 2012 Living Planet Report, at the current rate of consumption, “it is taking 1.5 years for the Earth to fully regenerate the renewable resources that people are using in a single year. Instead of living off the interest, we are eating into our natural capital.” Unlike with financial deficits, simple debt forgiveness is not an option. There are no Jubilee celebrations when we take everything from the earth and put back nothing. When we deplete Earth’s bio-capacity – its capacity to support life in its many varied forms – we are not borrowing from the future; we are stealing from the future. Even though it is the most serious of all human-caused deficits, it rarely receives mention in current political debates.

 

 

When we assess economic performance by growth in GDP and stock price indexes, we in effect manage the economy to make the most money for people who have the most money. This leads us to the fanciful belief that as a society we are getting richer. In fact, we are impoverishing both current and future generations by creating an unconscionable concentration of economic power, depriving billions of people of a secure and dignified means of living, and destroying the social and biosystem capital on which our real well-being depends. With proper care and respect, biosystem capital can provide essential services in perpetuity. The reckless devastation of productive lands and waters for a quick profit, a few temporary jobs, and a one-time energy fix from Earth’s non-renewable fossil energy resources represent truly stupid and morally reprehensible deficit spending. Evident current examples include the internal combustion engines in our cars and trucks and mountaintop removal coal mining. The fact that we thereby deepen human dependence on finite nonrenewable fossil energy reserves and accelerate climate disruption make such actions all the more stupid and immoral. Financial system logic, which rests on the illusion that money is wealth, tells us we are making intelligent choices. Living systems logic tells us our current choices are insane and a crime against future human generations and creation itself.

 

 

The economy of a just and sustainable society needs a proper system of money creation and allocation that supports the health and productive function of social and biosystem capital and allocates the sustainable generative output of both to optimize the long-term health and well-being of all. We have got to figure out a way to reward individuals with a system of financial credits in proportion to their actual productive contribution to living system health and prosperity. The current U.S. money system does exactly the opposite. It celebrates and rewards the destruction of living capital to grow the financial assets of Wall Street looters at the expense of Main Street producers—thus concentrating economic and political power in the hands of those most likely to abuse it for a short-term gain that is motivated by grossly excessive greed.

 

 

Wall Street operates as a criminal syndicate devoted to the theft of that to which it has no rightful claim. It then bribes politicians to shield the looters from taxes on their ill-gotten gains and to eliminate social programs that cushion the blow to those they have deprived of a secure and meaningful means of livelihood. This brings us back to the real source and consequence of excess financial debt. In the big picture, the Wall Street 1 percent has divided society into a looter class that controls access to money and a producer class forced into perpetual debt slavery – an ancient institution that has allowed the few to rule the many for thousands of years. The immense burden imposed on the 99 percent by public debt, consumer debt, mortgage debt, and student loan debt is the outcome of a Wall Street assault on justice and democracy, while maintaining a system of enforced inequality. The resulting desperation and loss of social trust account for the many current symptoms of social disintegration and decline in ethical standards. These include growth in family breakdown, suicide, forced migration, physical violence, crime, drug use, and prison populations.

 

I grew up in America during a time when we took pride in being a middle-class society without extremes of wealth and poverty. In part, we were living an illusion. Large concentrations of private wealth were intact and systemic discrimination excluded large segments of the population —particularly people of color – from participation in the general prosperity. The underlying concept that the good society is an equitable society, however, was and still is valid. And from the 1950s to the 1970s the middle class expanded. But not any more.

 

 

Extreme inequality as exemplified by Capitalism, is both a source and an indicator of serious institutional failure and social pathology. Economic and social inequality is detrimental to human physical and mental health and happiness – even for the very rich. Relatively equal societies are healthier on virtually every indicator of individual and social health and well-being. In highly unequal societies, the very rich are prone to seek affirmation of their personal worth through extravagant displays of excess. They easily lose sight of the true sources of human happiness, sacrifice authentic relationships, and deny their responsibility to the larger society at the expense of their essential humanity. At the other extreme, the desperate are prone to manipulation by political demagogues who offer oversimplified explanations and self-serving solutions that in the end further deepen their misery. Governing institutions lose legitimacy. Democracy becomes a charade. Moral standards decline. Civic responsibility gives way to extreme individualism and disregard for the rights and well-being of others. To achieve true prosperity, we must create economies grounded in a living systems logic that recognizes three fundamental truths:

 

  • The economy’s only valid purpose is to serve life.
  • Equality is foundational to healthy human communities and a healthy human relationship to Earth’s biosphere.
  • Money is a means, not an end.

 

 

Runaway public deficits are but one symptom of a profound system failure. They can easily be resolved by taxing the unearned spoils of the Wall Street looters, eliminating corporate subsidies, and by making offshore tax havens illegal, and cutting military expenditures on pointless wars that enrich only a few at the expense of the multitudes. They want to send your sons, daughters and grandchildren to fight their wars for them because it is allegedly the patriotic thing to do (but God forbid that they should ever send their own kids). Joblessness can easily be eliminated by putting the unemployed and underemployed to work meeting a vast range of unmet human needs from rebuilding and greening our physical infrastructure to providing essential human services, eliminating dependence on fossil fuels, and converting to systems of local organic food production. If the primary constraint is money, the Federal Reserve can be directed to create it and channel it to priority projects through a national infrastructure bank – a move that avoids enriching the bankers and does not create more debt. In addition, we must:

 

  1. Break up concentrations of unaccountable power.
  2. Shift the economic priority from making money to serving life by replacing financial indicators with living wealth indicators as the basis for evaluating economic performance.

  3. Eliminate extremes of wealth and poverty to create a true middle-class society.
  4. Build a culture of mutual trust and caring.
  5. Create a system of economic incentives that reward those who do productive work and penalize predatory financial speculation.

  6. Restructure the global economy into a planetary system of networked bioregional economies that share information and technology and organize to live within their respective environmental means.

 

 

Within a political debate defined by the logic of living systems, such measures are simple common sense. Within a political debate defined by conventional financial logic, however, they are easily dismissed as dangerous and illogical threats to progress and prosperity. So long as money frames the debate, money is the winner and life is the loser. To score a political victory for life, the debate must be re-framed around a narrative based on an understanding of the true sources of human well-being and happiness and a shift from money to life as the defining value. Wall Street interests would have us believe that the best way to save Earth’s biosystems is to put a price on them and sell them to wealthy global investors to manage for a private return. Rather than concede the underlying frame to Wall Street and debate the price and terms of the sale, indigenous leaders, the Occupy and 99% Movements, and environmental groups drew on the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples to challenge the underlying frame. They declared that as the source of life, Earth’s living systems are sacred and beyond price. They issued a global call to recognize the rights of nature.

 

 

This debate highlights a foundational and inherent conflict between the rights of nature, human rights, property rights, and corporate rights. In current practice, based on the same financial logic that leads us to treat financial deficits as more important than social and environmental deficits, we give corporate rights precedence over the property rights of individuals. We give property rights precedence over the human rights of those without property. And we give human rights precedence over the rights of nature when it should be the other way around. To put it bluntly, America’s leadership and the financial elite who are running our country into the ground have their priorities backwards. Furthermore, we – the 99% – will continue to pay a terrible price so long as we allow the deeply flawed logic of pure finance to define our values and frame the political debate. Therefore it is up to us, the 99%, to get these priorities put back in the correct order. As of this writing, we Americans are still trying to do this peacefully. After all, the only remaining alternative is revolution, and I have been convinced for many years that this will be the ultimate outcome. What is currently happening in Syria, Egypt, Spain, Yemen, Bahrain and Greece will soon be coming to our shores. The Occupy and 99% Movements are but a precursor of things to come here in the US.

 

 

There is no magic bullet quick fix. We must re-frame the debate by bringing life values and living systems logic to the forefront and turning the prevailing rights hierarchy on its head. The rights of nature must come first, because without nature, humans do not exist. As living beings, our rights are derivative of and ultimately subordinate to the rights of Earth’s living systems. Human rights come, in turn, before property rights, because property rights are a human creation. They have no existence without humans and no purpose other than to serve the human and natural interest. Corporations are a form of property and any rights we may choose to grant to them are derivative of individual property rights and therefore properly subordinate to them.

 

 

The step to a prosperous human future and a balanced environment requires that we acknowledge life, not money, as our defining value, accept our responsibilities to and for one another and nature, and bring to the forefront of the debate the social and bio-system deficits that are the true threat to the human future. Replacing cultures and institutions that value money more than life with cultures and institutions that value life more than money is a daunting challenge. Fortunately, it is also an invigorating and hopeful challenge because it reconnects us with our true nature as living beings and offers a win-win alternative to the no-win status quo. The only two alternatives are revolution (when all other means are exhausted, and we are very close to that point now) or human extinction.

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Seven Facts for the Fourth of July

A July 4th Memo To America

From a Concerned Citizen

One of the primary purposes of this Web ministry is to stand against social injustice and economic inequality in all its forms, as well as the extreme immorality of waging warfare. I firmly believe that any minister who does not do this is simply not doing his or her job while occupying the pulpit. In that case, all they would be doing is collecting a paycheck every Sunday morning for the sake of profit and materialism, forgetting that Jesus preached against this very thing over and over again. (But don’t take my word for it, it’s in all four gospels, go and read it for yourself.) Although Jesus did take His ministry to the religious establishment of his day, which centered around the temple at Jerusalem and the Sanhedrin (or Hebrew ruling elect) of that time, he was rejected and ultimately executed by them just as the Old Testament prophets foretold. Instead, He went to the poor and downtrodden, the outcast and the marginalized who otherwise had no voice at all. He ministered to the sick, the homeless, the addicted and the unemployed and all others who had nothing, with the knowledge that the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is vastly superior to mere material possessions. I try my best to emulate this mind-set in my ministry and in the people I meet in order that my words and actions may most accurately imitate my Savior and the redeemer of my very soul, Christ Jesus the Lord.

In today’s world there is social injustice everywhere you look. A veritable class war is ongoing here in the USA, throughout the Middle East, in Europe and in Asia that has the wealthy accumulating ridiculous amounts of wealth in a downright obscene orgy of greed, and all at the expense of the middle and working classes who are being economically decimated as a result. This illegal and immoral accumulation of wealth is unparalleled in world history. The signs and indicators of this obscene wealth that has fallen into the hands of an elite minority are everywhere. Mass unemployment is at every turn and stands at stubbornly high levels. If we look at the true levels of unemployment, which by definition must include those who are underemployed (working part time at one or more jobs when full-time employment is both desired and required) or those who have left the job market for good (like men and women in their middle 50’s and older such as what I experienced first-hand), the true level of unemployment exceeds 24% in the US alone, not counting the rest of the developed world. Instead of creating more jobs that are the hallmark of any economic recovery, fewer and fewer people are doing more work for less pay. The rest of US and European workers are increasingly finding themselves out in the cold, often literally. In the meantime, those lucky individuals who still have jobs run the increasing risk of having their jobs out-sourced overseas for pennies on the dollar, or being replaced by workers from the third world who are being imported through H1B work visas by none other than the US federal government to work for wages that are a fraction of their American counterparts. Meaning, our US government has been short-changing its constituency in this manner for decades, but they can’t keep it a secret any longer. As this is happening, the unending war in Afghanistan plus the clandestine wars being wage on every continent, are costing the US government $6 billion dollars each day, money that could be much better spent here at home to create some badly needed new jobs.

Clearly this is unsustainable and will bankrupt the country if it isn’t stopped, if we are not there already. American capitalism and the American empire have run their course, and I maintain that capitalism as we have known it is on the deathbed of history where all empires go when they die. America is in decline while the former “third world” has become the developing world, and where even poor countries continue to develop rapidly. The combined economies of China, Russia, India and Brazil will all overtake the US economy by 2020 at the latest, with China in the lead. (the Chinese economy will be the world’s largest by no later than 2016, a mere 3 years away; what will Wall St. do then?)

This is a series of social injustices that could be ended by creating jobs through large public works programs to give US infrastructure a badly needed overhaul and by an accelerated and invigorated space program, mankind’s final frontier. On the other hand, there must be a program in place to retrain all the workers who have been unable to find jobs, and there is legislative precedent for this. In the mid-1940’s after the end of WW2, Congress passed the GI Bill, as it was called. The end result of this was that hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers who wanted a college education were given just that with no strings attached. It worked very well by reeducating an entire generation at only nominal cost to those who took advantage of it. Well, if it could be done in the 1940’s, why not here in the 21st century? What’s holding it back you may ask, the cost? Let me illustrate why America can easily afford to do this. If the combined US military and intelligence communities set aside the financial expenditures equal to a single day’s cost of the occupation in Afghanistan and put the money into an interest-bearing account of your choice, there would be sufficient funds for a 4-year college education for every school kid in America, from pre-K to a high school senior inclusive. And that’s just from one day’s expenditures!

But what do we have instead? American workers are being thrown away by multinational corporations as being no longer useful or too expensive to keep around, resulting in a wave of homelessness not seen since the 1930’s. The majority of today’s homeless population is college educated, not stereotypical street bums, not by a long shot, and that is a great social injustice. This has been going on for so long now that the American empire is dying as a result, of that we can be sure. The time to make alternative plans for a possibly rocky future is upon us now. As the Great Recession and its bogus “recovery” grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we’re “on the road to recovery,” while other nations can only spot recovery “on the horizon.” Below is my list of my “unlucky seven” facts that point to a more realistic and truthful economic and political outlook.

 

 

1) Central Banks are Clueless. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get any lower. And because cheap money hasn’t been working, the printing presses have been turned up considerably, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing – injecting trillions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war.

 

2) Trade War. Speaking of which, for a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets are won by devaluing currencies (accomplished in the U.S. by quantitative easing), installing protectionist measures (so that a nation’s corporations have monopoly dominance over the nation’s consumers), or by war (a risky but highly effective form of market domination).

 

3) Military War. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. The domination of markets – every inch of them – becomes an issue of life and death importance. Wars have been unleashed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. “Containing” economies like China and “opening” economies like Iran and North Korea become more urgent during a major recession, requiring brute force and creating further global instability in all realms of social life.

 

4) U.S. Economy at a Virtual Standstill. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S. is a nation of nearly bankrupt consumers. Well over thirty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain, due to nearly every state’s budget deficit. The New York Times explains: “Now states are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided.” (12-05-10)

 

 

5) Bailout Capitalism. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out, and now whole nations. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in. Greece and Ireland have been bailed out, with eyes shifting to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The entire European Union is being called into question as the Euro takes a beating in the bailout spree. If the EU is dismantled, the shock waves will quickly reach other economies.

 

6) Bailout Repercussions. All western nations — including the U.S. and England — are grappling with their national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced on the backs of working families, instead of rich investors. This is tearing the social fabric apart, as working and poor people see their social programs under attack. In Europe mass movements are erupting in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc. Social stability is a prerequisite for a recovered economy, but corporate politicians everywhere are asking much more than working people are willing to give.

 

7) The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they’re given endless airtime on all major media outlets. The message of the far right promotes all the rottenness not yet eradicated by education: racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, violence, and a backward nationalism that fears all things “foreign.”

These core beliefs effectively divide working people so that a concerted campaign against the corporate elite is harder to wage. Meanwhile, labor unions, progressives, and other working class organizations are instead targeted. The above phenomena do not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the international economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it. To ensure that the economic system is changed so that working people benefit, large-scale collective action is necessary, based on demands that unite the majority of working people: a massive job-creation program at the expense of Wall Street, no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a moratorium on home foreclosures, passage of a $12.00 per hour minimum wage, and so on. With the unions in the lead promoting these demands, working people can and should put up a real fight.

 

 

The best solution that I can think of, then, that takes care of all this and more, is to come up with an innovative, effective and efficient nonprofit economy. Here are a few examples of what I mean: What’s the underlying cause of the skyrocketing prices of fuel, groceries, college tuition, and medical care including the cost of private health insurance? All of the above industries needed more operating capital to keep going due to rising prices for goods and services that they purchase. But even more basic than that – the least common denominator – is the current corporate business model, where the shareholders needs come first instead of the customers and employees of the firm. More profits must be generated for this cadre of people whose demands for ‘more’ are only exceeded by their self-importance, and this must stop, the sooner the better. But what if this weren’t true? What if the hundreds of billions in profits that each one of these enormous multinational corporations racks up each year were returned to the employees so they, and not the shareholders who don’t do a damn thing anyway, share in the profits? If you multiply 500, the number of Fortune Magazine’s biggest corporations, by all those hundreds of billions in profits they each made, that comes to a sum of money so huge that my calculator won’t display the answer – it doesn’t have enough memory. One thing is for certain; the time for employee-owned businesses has arrived.

 

 

If the US wants to clean up its act, a complete repudiation of capitalism and greed would be a very good place to start. Let’s spend this coming week thinking of all the things we could do for each other and the whole world with the money that, as I write this, is still being hoarded by the few. Let’s invent fair and equitable ways we can peacefully distribute it to the many.

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Seven Facts for the Fourth of July

A July 4th Memo To America

From a Concerned Citizen

One of the primary purposes of this Web ministry is to stand against social injustice and economic inequality in all its forms, as well as the extreme immorality of waging warfare. I firmly believe that any minister who does not do this is simply not doing his or her job while occupying the pulpit. In that case, all they would be doing is collecting a paycheck every Sunday morning for the sake of profit and materialism, forgetting that Jesus preached against this very thing over and over again. (But don’t take my word for it, it’s in all four gospels, go and read it for yourself.) Although Jesus did take His ministry to the religious establishment of his day, which centered around the temple at Jerusalem and the Sanhedrin (or Hebrew ruling elect) of that time, he was rejected and ultimately executed by them just as the Old Testament prophets foretold. Instead, He went to the poor and downtrodden, the outcast and the marginalized who otherwise had no voice at all. He ministered to the sick, the homeless, the addicted and the unemployed and all others who had nothing, with the knowledge that the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is vastly superior to mere material possessions. I try my best to emulate this mind-set in my ministry and in the people I meet in order that my words and actions may most accurately imitate my Savior and the redeemer of my very soul, Christ Jesus the Lord.

In today’s world there is social injustice everywhere you look. A veritable class war is ongoing here in the USA, throughout the Middle East, in Europe and in Asia that has the wealthy accumulating ridiculous amounts of wealth in a downright obscene orgy of greed, and all at the expense of the middle and working classes who are being economically decimated as a result. This illegal and immoral accumulation of wealth is unparalleled in world history. The signs and indicators of this obscene wealth that has fallen into the hands of an elite minority are everywhere. Mass unemployment is at every turn and stands at stubbornly high levels. If we look at the true levels of unemployment, which by definition must include those who are underemployed (working part time at one or more jobs when full-time employment is both desired and required) or those who have left the job market for good (like men and women in their middle 50’s and older such as what I experienced first-hand), the true level of unemployment exceeds 24% in the US alone, not counting the rest of the developed world. Instead of creating more jobs that are the hallmark of any economic recovery, fewer and fewer people are doing more work for less pay. The rest of US and European workers are increasingly finding themselves out in the cold, often literally. In the meantime, those lucky individuals who still have jobs run the increasing risk of having their jobs out-sourced overseas for pennies on the dollar, or being replaced by workers from the third world who are being imported through H1B work visas by none other than the US federal government to work for wages that are a fraction of their American counterparts. Meaning, our US government has been short-changing its constituency in this manner for decades, but they can’t keep it a secret any longer. As this is happening, the unending war in Afghanistan plus the clandestine wars being wage on every continent, are costing the US government $6 billion dollars each day, money that could be much better spent here at home to create some badly needed new jobs.

Clearly this is unsustainable and will bankrupt the country if it isn’t stopped, if we are not there already. American capitalism and the American empire have run their course, and I maintain that capitalism as we have known it is on the deathbed of history where all empires go when they die. America is in decline while the former “third world” has become the developing world, and where even poor countries continue to develop rapidly. The combined economies of China, Russia, India and Brazil will all overtake the US economy by 2020 at the latest, with China in the lead. (the Chinese economy will be the world’s largest by no later than 2016, a mere 3 years away; what will Wall St. do then?)

This is a series of social injustices that could be ended by creating jobs through large public works programs to give US infrastructure a badly needed overhaul and by an accelerated and invigorated space program, mankind’s final frontier. On the other hand, there must be a program in place to retrain all the workers who have been unable to find jobs, and there is legislative precedent for this. In the mid-1940’s after the end of WW2, Congress passed the GI Bill, as it was called. The end result of this was that hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers who wanted a college education were given just that with no strings attached. It worked very well by reeducating an entire generation at only nominal cost to those who took advantage of it. Well, if it could be done in the 1940’s, why not here in the 21st century? What’s holding it back you may ask, the cost? Let me illustrate why America can easily afford to do this. If the combined US military and intelligence communities set aside the financial expenditures equal to a single day’s cost of the occupation in Afghanistan and put the money into an interest-bearing account of your choice, there would be sufficient funds for a 4-year college education for every school kid in America, from pre-K to a high school senior inclusive. And that’s just from one day’s expenditures!

But what do we have instead? American workers are being thrown away by multinational corporations as being no longer useful or too expensive to keep around, resulting in a wave of homelessness not seen since the 1930’s. The majority of today’s homeless population is college educated, not stereotypical street bums, not by a long shot, and that is a great social injustice. This has been going on for so long now that the American empire is dying as a result, of that we can be sure. The time to make alternative plans for a possibly rocky future is upon us now. As the Great Recession and its bogus “recovery” grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we’re “on the road to recovery,” while other nations can only spot recovery “on the horizon.” Below is my list of my “unlucky seven” facts that point to a more realistic and truthful economic and political outlook.

 

 

1) Central Banks are Clueless. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get any lower. And because cheap money hasn’t been working, the printing presses have been turned up considerably, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing – injecting trillions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war.

 

2) Trade War. Speaking of which, for a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets are won by devaluing currencies (accomplished in the U.S. by quantitative easing), installing protectionist measures (so that a nation’s corporations have monopoly dominance over the nation’s consumers), or by war (a risky but highly effective form of market domination).

 

3) Military War. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. The domination of markets – every inch of them – becomes an issue of life and death importance. Wars have been unleashed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. “Containing” economies like China and “opening” economies like Iran and North Korea become more urgent during a major recession, requiring brute force and creating further global instability in all realms of social life.

 

4) U.S. Economy at a Virtual Standstill. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S. is a nation of nearly bankrupt consumers. Well over thirty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain, due to nearly every state’s budget deficit. The New York Times explains: “Now states are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided.” (12-05-10)

 

 

5) Bailout Capitalism. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out, and now whole nations. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in. Greece and Ireland have been bailed out, with eyes shifting to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The entire European Union is being called into question as the Euro takes a beating in the bailout spree. If the EU is dismantled, the shock waves will quickly reach other economies.

 

6) Bailout Repercussions. All western nations — including the U.S. and England — are grappling with their national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced on the backs of working families, instead of rich investors. This is tearing the social fabric apart, as working and poor people see their social programs under attack. In Europe mass movements are erupting in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc. Social stability is a prerequisite for a recovered economy, but corporate politicians everywhere are asking much more than working people are willing to give.

 

7) The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they’re given endless airtime on all major media outlets. The message of the far right promotes all the rottenness not yet eradicated by education: racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, violence, and a backward nationalism that fears all things “foreign.”

These core beliefs effectively divide working people so that a concerted campaign against the corporate elite is harder to wage. Meanwhile, labor unions, progressives, and other working class organizations are instead targeted. The above phenomena do not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the international economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it. To ensure that the economic system is changed so that working people benefit, large-scale collective action is necessary, based on demands that unite the majority of working people: a massive job-creation program at the expense of Wall Street, no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a moratorium on home foreclosures, passage of a $12.00 per hour minimum wage, and so on. With the unions in the lead promoting these demands, working people can and should put up a real fight.

 

 

The best solution that I can think of, then, that takes care of all this and more, is to come up with an innovative, effective and efficient nonprofit economy. Here are a few examples of what I mean: What’s the underlying cause of the skyrocketing prices of fuel, groceries, college tuition, and medical care including the cost of private health insurance? All of the above industries needed more operating capital to keep going due to rising prices for goods and services that they purchase. But even more basic than that – the least common denominator – is the current corporate business model, where the shareholders needs come first instead of the customers and employees of the firm. More profits must be generated for this cadre of people whose demands for ‘more’ are only exceeded by their self-importance, and this must stop, the sooner the better. But what if this weren’t true? What if the hundreds of billions in profits that each one of these enormous multinational corporations racks up each year were returned to the employees so they, and not the shareholders who don’t do a damn thing anyway, share in the profits? If you multiply 500, the number of Fortune Magazine’s biggest corporations, by all those hundreds of billions in profits they each made, that comes to a sum of money so huge that my calculator won’t display the answer – it doesn’t have enough memory. One thing is for certain; the time for employee-owned businesses has arrived.

 

 

If the US wants to clean up its act, a complete repudiation of capitalism and greed would be a very good place to start. Let’s spend this coming week thinking of all the things we could do for each other and the whole world with the money that, as I write this, is still being hoarded by the few. Let’s invent fair and equitable ways we can peacefully distribute it to the many.

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