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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Unanswerable questions

   How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

   These among many are questions that just can never be answered.  Their purpose is not to find an answer but instead to either create discussion, or just waste time.   Today we don't hear many people pose question like this one but many that are similar.

   What does your church teach on...
  • Homosexuality?
  • Sex outside of marriage?
  • Divorce?
  • Abortion?
  • Euthanasia?
  • Capital punishment?
  • War?
  • Economic inequality?
  • Drinking?
  • Drugs?
  • Pornography?
  • etc..
These questions are often asked not so much so we can arrive at a conclusion for most likely the person offering up the question has already settled in their own mind an answer that they are unwilling to budge from.   Instead these questions are asked to either

A - Control.
          Force the person to be quiet about their religious views by discrediting them in public opinion

B - Create an illusion of being religious
          Discuss topics in which nothing can be gained but allow one to feel that they are religious

    This is really nothing new however.  Jesus was asked by Pharisees and Sadducees on a variety of topics meant not to answer a difficult question but instead to discredit him in the view of the crowds.  The first of these questions was a political one. "Should we pay taxes to Caesar?"  Were they really interested in getting Jesus' tax advice?   Was he the H&R Block of his time?   No.  If he says YES pay taxes he might lose the crowds who hated paying the corrupt gentile/pagan government their hard earned money.  If he says NO, then he can be taken out by the Romans as an instigator of rebellion.   Jesus instead cuts through the fog and says to pay BOTH to Caesar and to God what they are owed.

    In a later question, the Sadducee sect which didn't believe in life after death asks Jesus a question about marriage in heaven.  Now this is actually hilarious to me (and I think there were people in the crowd chuckling to themselves when they heard this question asked).  This is like a devout Jew asking which tastes better "Honey Baked" or "Slow Roasted" HAM.   (Can you say "scraping the bottom of the barrel?").  Jesus again goes BEYOND the question to the real issue.  God's word.   What does IT say?

   Jesus on a third occasion was asked by the temple priests where he got his authority to teach?  Jesus again responds first with another question.   "Where did John the Baptist get his authority to teach?"   Here they are trapped because they ignored John's teaching of repentance (which the people knew) and yet his teaching was not from man but from God as it was in keeping with the law and the prophets.   Was Jesus dodging their question?   Actually, no, he was not.  Since they could not answer Jesus' question, Jesus was able to determine that they were not on the same page spiritually and so it would be a waste of time for Jesus to answer their question.  It was not a dodge, but instead an instrument to save time.

   We too are often met with similar questions like I mentioned earlier and all too often we get tied up in answering the question they've posted without asking what is the motivation behind the question.  What is the purpose in asking the question?   Do you really want to know the answer?   Probably not.  We should instead be like Jesus and answer their question with a question.   That question should be "What do you believe about the Bible?  Is it God's word or just a collect of nice thoughts?"   For that is the question behind the list of questions earlier.  If it's not God's word, then you are going to arrive a different conclusions for all the others.  We would be wasting our time as well in answering their question if we are not able to have the same conclusion on the this question.

     But is it logical to believe the Bible is God's word?   To me, my answer is simply "YES".  My line of thinking on this is simple.  First of, we must ask ourselves:

"Will God punish those who are evil?"

    Consider the likes of Hitler (killed 6 million Jews) , Mussolini, Stalin (killed 15 million), Mao (killed 70 million) , Che Guevara (killed over a thousand Cubans by his own hands), Rev. Jim Jones (caused 900 to take their own lives), and countless mass murderers, rapists, drug dealers and con-artists who have bilked millions of people out of their life savings.  In my opinion, God has let the likes of these men to exist for the very fact that they present to people who think that world lives in varying shades of moral-gray, a streak of the DARKEST BLACK which cannot be ignored or lightened.  Their "evil" cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet of history.  Faced with their deeds, we cannot simply shrug and say "we don't know what will happen to them" for to do so would mean for us to stand in approval of their deeds.   If our answer to the above question is YES, then we must ask another:

"Wouldn't a loving God set down the rules?"

    Imagine a father punishing his son for coming home at 12:30am if he never told him that his curfew was 12:00am?   He would be soundly ridiculed by other parents for treating his children in such a way.  He can't demand his children to just "know what he expects of them".  Clearly, God also must first set the boundaries before he can judge his creation. If the answer to the above question is YES, then we must ask yet another question.

 "Would God write down those warnings and promises?"

     The more important the consequences the more important it is to get them in writing.  For example, would you buy a house from a person without a written deed?  Of course not!  Getting it in writing solidifies the agreement and helps insure that is not forgotten of modified in the future.  So also, if God must warn his creation, should he just "hope" this critical piece of information gets passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth?   Should he not "get it in writing"???  Also, if you were a religious Jew coming out of Egypt, would you not adapt the same technology you witnessed in the country of your oppressors?  Namely: writing.  I am astounded that so many view the early Jews as being so stupid/ignorant as to not adopt a  written language until so late in their history.  But now archaeology is bearing new information showing the Jews had a written language as early as the time of King Solomon.    If the answer from the above question is YES, then we must ask another question:

"Can an all powerful God guard and protect his words and promises?"

    Consider that question carefully.   How is it that an all powerful God capable of creating entire universes with his word, cannot protect his own writings over the centuries?   Does that even make sense?   How is it, that the omnipotent God so impotent to do this despite the immense ramifications (judgement).   Wouldn't YOU, if you were God, do everything in your power to insure that you find and inspire people throughout the ages to guard and protect your promises?   Of course you would!  In fact, it was shown with the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Old Testament changed very very little from 200BC to 900AD (the oldest OT Manuscript we had before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered).  For example, Isaiah (one of the largest and most prophetic books in the OT) was found to be 99% the same and the 1% differences were grammatical changes which changed none of its verses interpretations.   If you answer to the above question is YES, then God's word must be exactly that... GOD'S WORD and nothing else.  He has provided us with the warning of what is to come but ALSO with the SOLUTION to the problem in sending his Son Jesus Christ to save us.

    Answering that question...answers all the rest

Best Christmas present a father could receive

   This Christmas I was given the best gift of all from my son Derek.  No it wasn't and iPad, iPhone or an i-anything for that matter.   Instead it was the gift of gratitude.  In a manner that was very unlike Derek, he spent hours (it seemed) in his room wrapping our presents several days before Christmas.  That alone was a major surprise for us as usually he would wait for the very last hour to wrap them or ask one of us to wrap them for him.  Second, he took the time to personally hand each of his (his sister included) a card he picked out and wanted us to read first.  Reading mine, I could tell he spent time picking it out as the writing inside could not have been more perfect.   But my "major award" (see the movie "The Christmas Story") was still yet to come for before opening my box he stood in the middle of our living room and said "I just want to say before you open your gift, Dad, if there is one person in this world I could become it's you!".   Hearing those words was the best gift of all.  I didn't need to see what was in the box for nothing I could receive in that box could be worth more than those few precious words he spoke to me.

    While I am sure others out there have had their children say similar things to them, for me it meant so much more.  For you see, our relationship to Derek had some really tough patches over the years.  In high school he struggled and opted to change schools in his junior year so he could graduate early and start his career as an auto-technician.  During those years, being around us was not high on his "things I like to do" list.  He spent most of his free time at his friend's houses and would sometimes compare us with his friend's parents. Those were very difficult years for us.  After high school, he went to UTI and obtained a degree as an auto technician.  He later moved down to southern California as a mechanic to be with his girl friend who was going to college down there.   (We were amazed at how he was able to get a job so quickly going from dealer to dealer with his resume) 

     But alas it was not all good, as a year and a half later he crashed his car which cost him his job as a mechanic and his girl friend dropped him. Because of this, he was forced to move home and face his inner demons.  Thanks to my wife, Derek was connected with really good counselors and thru that counseling we as a family were able to address the past problems rather than sweep them under the rug (something I might say I am very good at).  Over the course of the last couple years Derek has come a long way.  He researched how to get into law enforcement and put himself through the classes to become an armed security guard and is now entering the police academy this January (note: as a teenage skateboarder he hated the police...go figure).   While working 30 hours a week as an armed security guard in areas I would not even want to drive thru let alone walk in, he took 2 classes at the local junior college (Political Science and Introduction to law enforcement) and passed both of them.  He spent hours studying and we never once had to remind him...he did all of this on his own. This was not easy either.  He struggled with his Political Science class as he did not agree with the views of the teacher.  For as one student put on RateMyTeacher.com, "she is a flaming socialist"  but he persevered and even went to talk to her when he disagreed on a grade she gave on his paper (something he never would have done in high school) and got her to raise it to a passing grade.  

   This is why I first titled this blog "How do you measure success?" (changed it later).   It's been said,
Success isn't measured in in how high you go, but instead by how far you climbed.
    Nothing truer, in my opinion, could be said.  For Derek, his starting point was at the bottom and he has come so far.  Oh I am sure right now there are many parent's out their writing glowing reports on their Facebook pages about their children's achievements like getting their bachelors degree in "19th Century Eastern European Socialist Literature" or something of that matter.  But for me, I take even greater pride in my son's achievements these past two years.   He put his "strong will" to good use to work on making his life better and not giving up despite his situation.  I know now, that no matter what comes Derek's way in the future, he will rise above it and do what ever it takes to succeed.

    I think I now know how the father in Jesus' parable of "The Prodigal Son" felt went his son came back home after years of being in a far away country and the father exclaims,
"Come let us celebrate for this son of mine who was dead has returned to me alive!"

    Best Christmas present EVER!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is Healthcare a RIGHT or a PRIVILEGE?

  Right now you are probably starting to compute the rational answer to the question I just posted.

  Your mind is considering the possible options:  A (right) or B (privilege).

  At first you discount "A" because it means everyone one must have it. To disallow a person from obtaining it would be as evil as disallowing someone the right to vote in your mind.   But the thought of "B" pulls at you in another way.  "Privilege" has connotations of being elitist, uncaring about the poor and being born with a silver spoon. So "B" is not acceptable either in your mind.

    You're stuck.  You therefore have to decide between the lesser of two evils or in this case the lesser of two answers.   But this is what the person asking the question wants you to feel.   They want you to answer "A" and if you do happen to answer "B" they've got you as well.   You are TRAPPED.

   But the real answer to the question is simple.  It's "C".

   C?   Yes C.   The problem is that many of us don't question-the-question.  Is the question valid?  Has the person formulated a reasonable question or have the intentionally left out needed information to make their case.   In this case the person has left you with only 2 choices to choose from.  Their 2 choices.   But are there other possibilities?   In this case there is.

   C)  It's a product.

   Like shampoo, toilet paper, milk , bread , cars , houses, etc.   healthcare is a product purchased with money we earn.    It's either an important item to you or it's not.  You either feel it's possible for you to become deathly ill or you don't.    In your budget (if you have one) you either set aside money for it to take care of you and your family or you decide DirecTV, AT&T and a host of other needs are higher in the priority list.   Thus the reason for the ObamaCare "penalty" which was intended to help the young-and-health re-prioritize their healthcare needs (but the penalty is so low, it has had little if no impact .. so far).

   But shouldn't everyone have access to healthcare regardless of their economic situation?   Shouldn't it be as important as other "rights" like voting ?  My answer here is a simple. No.   Not because I am an elitist pig, but because unlike other "rights" like LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, this right diminishes the rights of others.   Take for example the voting rights issue.  Does giving another "citizen" the right to vote (note I do not include people who are not citizens because they are already citizens of another country where they do have the responsibility to make their voice heard and yet they have abdicated their right in that country already), take away my right to vote?  Of course not.   These "rights" have unlimited amounts, whereas the right to healthcare is not unlimited as there is only a limited number of hospitals, clinics, doctors and nurses to serve the rest of us.  To make them provide their services to everyone for an unfair return would be paramount to "slavery".  

   So what's the answer?  What should be done about healthcare and the poor?   Should hospitals turn them away since they cannot pay?  The thought of hundreds and thousands of poor people being turned away at the door is an unappealing one.   But unlike the ObamaCare penalty, it would be the biggest instigator of people taking their healthcare seriously.  

   Finally, I believe the answer is we need more types of health-insurance and not less.   Today, if car insurance was run like health-insurance our car insurance policies would pay for tune-ups, oil-changes, new tires, hands-free-phones, car washes and new batteries (and our car insurance bills would emulate that of our health-insurance bills too).   Instead, maybe our health-insurance should emulate that of our car insurance, in that it should only be there fore the truly critical emergencies like cancer treatment, heart surgery, etc. and leave the other medical treatments to the individual to pay for.   This would reduce the cost of health insurance by reducing the amount of money companies pay for care over time.

    We must stop looking for the "easy answer" to all of our problems, for all too often, the "simple fix" requires you hand over more of your individual rights to government bent on treating you like cows rather than as human beings.

   




Thursday, December 5, 2013

The NEW "Trickle Down"

   We've all heard the phrase "It all starts at the top".   Whether its a corporation, a family, a school or
even a government, whatever is the behavior at the top eventually trickles down to the lower levels.

     As parents we are always told to be role-models for our children.  That we should, not drink too much, not swear, not talk on our cellphones while driving, exercise, eat healthy food, be kind to the less fortunate etc...   Why? Because our behaviors become our children's behaviors.   And children know this too.   Talk to them about drinking and instantly out comes all the times you drank.  Talk to them about cell phone usage and instantly they will recall every instance where you were on the phone while driving down the highway at 15 mph over the speed limit.  Will your son or daughter take your advice seriously if you yourself don't abide by the same rules?

    Corporations too see this at work as well.   If it is know that the CEO is less than ethical in his
business dealings, you can't bet your last dollar that many of his VP's and lower level managers are also cooking their own books or embezzling money from their accounts.  A good example of this was the infamous company Enron.  This company was the darling of Wall-Street for almost a decade, but then it was found out that its accounting practices were rigged to hide debt from companies it had acquired making it look stronger financially than what it really was.   But this behavior at the top led others below to also do scrupulous things such as selling investment insurance policies they could not cover.   In the end thousands of people were hurt as they lost their life savings when Enron eventually collapsed and its leaders sent off to jail.

    Government also is not immune to this problem.   For example, if a city knows that its police chief is breaking the law, do you think the citizens of that municipality will abide by them either?  Probably not.   This is why some say we have a "Constitutional Crisis" in Washington DC today and it has many many people worried.   There is a reason why every government official from the White House down to the local policeman takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect it.   That simple sheet of paper is all that stands between us and tyranny and anarchy.  If the President chooses to ignore certain laws and not enforce them then the law becomes meaningless. Like your child who will see you as a hypocrite for demanding that they obey the laws of the land but not you, so also our people will choose to ignore laws they don't think are relevant to them anymore.   Taxes?   Why should I if the President chooses to not enforce it on his administration.  Why should I, if the President pardons wealthy donors who choose not to (Clinton did this on his last day in office)? 

    Of course some will say we don't watch the President of the United States to see what laws we
Lois Lerner
support or don't support.   But we have seen in recent years a lawlessness among those in government agencies.   Take for example the IRS scandal of making Tea Party affiliates lives miserable in acquiring their tax-exempt status.   We watched as the person who was the head of this department in the IRS, Lois Lerner, make opening remarks that she has done nothing illegal and has "broken no laws" even though there is considerable amounts of laws on the books prohibiting the targeting of political groups by the government.  Is the clueless or just choosing which laws she will abide by and which ones she will ignore?   Then there is the "Fast and Furious" scandal of our government running guns to Mexico drug cartels.  Again, another illegal activity in which any number of laws could be pointed at that they broke, but those involved chose to ignore.   Recently with the ObamaCare program, a journalist uncovered several so-called "navigators" willing to openly lie on applications they were "helping" fill out  and another navigator even discussed the possibility of ObamaCare working with a political group to "data mine" the healthcare.gov website (also illegal).

     Lawlessness is like a virus that spreads over time and kept unchecked will eventually destroy a
country .. any country... even the United States.   There is a remedy for this disease but its not an easy one.  It's sitting right there in the medicine cabinet (The Constitution) and like most medicines it doesn't taste good and may make us sicker before it makes us better.  It's called IMPEACHMENT.  Is our House of Representatives willing to impeach its "first black president"  we will have to wait and see.    But this is not a "blue dress" issue.   This is a President openly defying the laws passed by our Congress and choosing to ignore or modify to his liking. 



     Our Constitution has no "magical powers" that emanate from its pages that make us obey its laws and sub-laws and no "oath" or Bible on which a person places their hand will make a person abide by it unswervingly.  Instead it's powers emanate from the the first 3 words it invokes....

                                WE THE PEOPLE


      This is why our founding fathers put those 3 words in large bold letters.  They did so, to remind those we entrust with our laws who gives them their power and that we expect them to follow those laws that they write and not exempt themselves or their political allies.   We must have the political courage to stand up and demand they hold each other accountable no matter who it is.   We cannot allow any "first-______ president" (first black, first latino, first woman etc..) to be all 3 branches of government rolled up into 1 person.

To do so would be tyranny.

     




    

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Is it my "negative energy" ??

    It seems to me that possibly President Obama has spent too much time listening to Oprah.  For when he is asked about the cause of the ObamaCare (now known as ACA or Affordable Care Act) meltdown, he puts much of the blame at the feet of the Republican House members and their opposition to the law.   He blames them by saying that they are not willing to see this law work and are doing everything in their power to destroy it.   This  is the reason, he wants us to believe, they have had such a hard time getting the website ready for their October 1st deadline. 

    But pardon me Mr. President! Every bill the House has sent to reform the law has sat nicely on Harry Reid's desk in the Senate and unable to be brought up for a vote or even a discussion.  Are you saying the the Republicans are emanating some form a "negative energy" that is causing the website to crash, lose data, or simply hang?   Is my negative energy as a voter causing some in ability for people to get on healthcare.gov and search for insurance?  Is that what you are implying?  It seems like it.

   By that same thought, the president seems to be channeling another Oprah ideology by using his power of "positive energy" or "positive thinking" to WILL the healthcare website into being fully functioning and loved by all who visit it.  You hear this in the tenor of his voice when he emphasizes certain words in his speeches on ObamaCare as he says "the law IS working and WILL work in the future". 

    Funny, this is the same man who said in his 2008 speech that "This is the day we will remember that the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal...." who now must either recognize he is not God and work with other politicians to re-write the law (or scrap it) or do everything in his power to "will" it into existence.   Something tells me he will do the later and not the former