Politics

What to Do if the Russians Nuke Us This Week

I was born in 1957. The following video accurately portrays what I heard and experienced as a young child in California.

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These days, local officials only blow the siren if a tornado has been spotted nearby and we know that if a nuclear bomb is dropped on us we might as well kiss our ass goodbye.

The real issue is WHY we still have a nuclear armed world? Last night, John Oliver tackled the issue of American nuclear weapons:

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Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 3

The El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club July 20, 2014

Last Sunday, I attended, with my sons and grandson, the minor league baseball game between the Louisville Bats and the Toledo Mud Hens. As always, I had my camera with me. On the main concourse I was delighted to find the El Corazon de Mexico dance club performing:

El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

El Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

El Corazon de Mexico Dance ClubEl Corazon de Mexico Dance Club

I wish I had brought my 18mm-50mm lens. I didn’t expect to have an opportunity to take any close up photos. I took all of these with my Sigma 105mm lens. I had to fight the crowd to find open spots to shoot from. Lesson learned, be prepared for the unexpected.

Published: July 26, 2014 | Comments: 8

How and Why I Write the Way I Do

bud man

During the eleven years I attended public school, I showed myself to be an average student. Somewhere around seventh grade, I figured out that getting A’s required lots of work and getting C’s required little effort on my part. Since I loved playing sports, going to church, and hanging out with my friends a lot more than I did excelling in school, I chose the C route. My grade cards reflect the effort of a student who could have had all A’s but didn’t want to do the work necessary to earn them. Mr. Brobst, my ninth grade counselor, told me I had the potential to be a straight A student IF I worked hard and applied myself. At the time, I thought, why work hard when I can breeze through school without doing much work. More time for sports, church, and girls, right?

Fortunately, I was a proficient reader and speller. My mother taught me to read before I entered school and this opened up the world to me on my own terms. Instead of the required reading in school, I could go to the library and choose any subject I wanted to read about. My reading naturally gravitated towards sports stories. As I got older, my reading habits moved from fiction to nonfiction. These days, I rarely read fiction.

In the fall of 1976, I left rural NW Ohio to study for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College. From this point forward, my reading was focused on theology, Christian biographies, church history, and inspirational books. As a young pastor, I read books written by Independent Baptist and Southern Baptist writers. As I got older and my theological beliefs matured, so did the type of books I read. After I embraced Calvinism, I began reading the Puritans and the Reformers, along with the English Baptists and the writers that were prominent during the First and Second Great Awakening. Most of my reading focused on authors from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century.

I also began reading twentieth century Calvinistic authors like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, and countless other defenders of Calvinistic orthodoxy. After my theology moved away from Calvinistic orthodoxy, I began reading books by Mennonite and Catholic authors. My reading proclivities reflected the leftward shift of my political  views. I entered the ministry as a Fundamentalist Baptist with extreme right-wing political views. I left the ministry as a progressive Christian with liberal/socialistic political views. As a young pastor, I was a diehard pro-life. homosexual hating, war mongering Republican. As I exited the ministry at the age of 46, I was a pro-choice, LGBT sympathetic, pacifistic liberal Democrat.

As a  pastor, I was a diligent student of the Bible. I spent countless hours reading and studying as I prepared the sermons I would preach each Sunday. I read complex, dry theological texts because I thought it was important for me to accurately instruct others. My sermons could have been deep, dry acts of theological masturbation; sermons that only a theology addict would appreciate. Instead, I took complex theological subjects and taught them in such a way that the factory worker, waitress, and farmer could understand them. It’s not that I couldn’t wax eloquently on the various lapsarian and eschatological views; I could , but to what end? The average person in the pew worked long hours at work and had little time to read Calvin, Turretin, or Gill. What they needed from me was hope, strength, encouragement, and motivation and I did my best to give it to them.

For seven years, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. The church started as a Reformed Baptist church and morphed into an nondenominational church that used the tagline, the church where the only label that matters is Christian. For a short time, a man with a PhD from Westminster attended the church. He and I would spend hours talking theology. I thoroughly enjoyed our Bible bull sessions. However, when it came to teaching, he and I were vastly different. For a few weeks on Sunday night, this man tried to teach the church about the importance of philosophy. His lessons were a mixture of theology, philosophy, Greek, and Hebrew. I loved his teachings. The rest of the church? Right over their head. He never taught again. Church members were polite but they made sure that I knew that they preferred my teaching.

The brilliance of Bart Ehrman is his ability to take complex theological, textual, and historical subjects and make them accessible to a wide spectrum of people. And this is exactly how I approached preaching. While I loved reading John Gill, I found his sermons stuffy, dry, and mind numbing. I thought, who would want to listen to this stuff? Not many, according to historians. In the nineteenth century,  a man by the name of Charles Spurgeon became the pastor of the church once pastored by John Gill. People thronged to hear Spurgeon preach. Why? The style and content of his preaching appealed to the masses. Spurgeon had a massive library and certainly could have preached sermons that only a clergyman would love. Instead, he took complex theological beliefs and made them accessible to working class people. To this day, we remember Spurgeon as the prince of preachers. Gill? Forgotten.

And now let me bring this around to blogging. When I started blogging in 2007, my goal was to be one man telling his story. Early on, blogging was a cheap form of therapy. Over time, people started reading what I wrote. I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t. I still have days when I say to myself, who wants to read this shit? I spent most of my life as a public speaker. Early readers of this blog remember how difficult it was for me to stop writing like I talk. What made for a great sermon made for a lousy blog post. I continue to work on being a better writer. I know I have a lot to learn.

My sermons were passionate, with every message being a call to action. I was just as open and honest in my sermons as I am now in my writing.  My sermons, to a large degree, were an extension of who and what I was and I want blogging to be the same. I could, if I was so inclined, write long, complex, wordy theological tomes. I am sure there would be people who would read it. But, that’s not what I want to do. I still want to be one man with a story to tell. I want my writing to appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. I know who my target audience is and I want to write posts that reach this audience. Those who are looking for scholarly, deep, complex 5,000 word posts are going to be sorely disappointed with my writing. I can’t be all things to all men, so I try to focus on doing a few things well. I know my story resonates with many people, so I intend to continue writing about the past and my understanding of Evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity. I want to frame my story in such a way that it is an inspiration and help to others.

Years ago, I wrote frequent Community Voice articles for The Bryan Times. Christopher Cullis, the publisher of the Times, gave me some advice I have tried to remember as a writer. Cullis told me that my articles could be as long as I wanted them to be, but people tend to quit reading after a thousand or so words. Some of you voiced your frustration and boredom as you  tried to read Joshua Whipps’ three post, 10,000 word deconstruction of my life. One post was over 5,000 words. Too dense, too many words. Even I was bored and I was the subject of his screed. I am sure his posts appealed to the high brow, John Gill loving Calvinists he runs with. That’s not my crowd.

My crowd continues to be the everyday people who frequent this blog. Our common bond is our stories and experiences. Through them we help, comfort, and support one another. That’s the great thing about the internet. Wherever your interests lie, you can find people to hang with. There was a day when I would have enjoyed sipping Dom Perignon from time to time with my uptown friends. These  days, I am content to drink Budweiser with the good people who frequent The Way Forward.  For those who want Dom Perignon, there are plenty of places that serve it. Continuing to hang out at The Way Forward pub hoping to get an expensive bottle of wine will only leave a person frustrated and as sober as an AA crowd. Why not go and drink where you will feel at home?

Published: July 24, 2014 | Comments: 18

A Sign on a Government Building Promotes an Ignorant Faith

On our way to Fort Wayne a few weeks ago, I took the following picture of the sign in front of the Springfield Township, Harlan, Indiana Fire Station. (which is one of fire stations operated by the Grabill Volunteer Fire Department)  Yes, this is a tax supported government facility. Evidently, they have not heard of the separation of church and state, which is ironic since the fire station is located near an Amish community, a people group known for their belief in a strict separation of church and state.

springfield township fire department

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 8

Evangelicals Fear the Gay Hamburger

burger king proud whopper

USA Today reports:

Burger King has concocted yet another way to have it your way: a gay pride burger.

The Proud Whopper, as it’s called, comes wrapped in a rainbow colored wrapper with this inscription: “We are all the same inside.” It will be sold through Thursday at one Burger King restaurant on San Francisco’s Market Street, that was at the heart of the route for last weekend’s 44th annual San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade.

Burger King on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EST plans to post a two-minute video about the Proud Whopper on its YouTube channel.

“It showcases who we are as a brand,” says Fernando Machado, senior vice president of global brand management at Burger King. “It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression.”

The inspiration behind the unusual burger wrap and video, he says, is Burger King’s localized efforts to put into motion actions that support its recently-tweaked slogan: “Be Your Way.”

The move also demonstrates BK’s desire to stay connected to its base of Millennial customers. Gay rights is an issue that reverberates strongly with many Millennials both inside and outside the U.S. Burger King also was a sponsor of San Francisco’s gay pride parade. Machado says that’s the first time Burger King has sponsored a gay pride parade in the U.S., though it may have sponsored some outside the country.

The downtown San Francisco Burger King sold “Proud Whoppers” last weekend, during the parade and also passed out some 50,000 rainbow Burger King crowns, that were worn by parade participants and spectators. The video, created by the Miami office of Burger King’s ad agency David, captures customers discussing whether or not the burger, itself, is different. At $4.29 it costs the same as a conventional Whopper. And, indeed, customers ultimately discover the only difference is the rainbow wrap…

And just like the sun that always rises in the morning, the homophobic bigots at the American Family Association have their panties in a knot. They recently issued an action alert that said:

Burger King recently promoted the “gay pride” message with a rainbow Whopper wrapper at one of its stores. Unless there is some pushback from consumers, there is a real possibility that they could expand this promotion.

During this year’s annual gay pride event in San Francisco, the Burger King location along the parade route sold a “Proud Whopper” with fanfare promotion by the corporate office.

It was the same Whopper as always, but in a rainbow-colored wrapper.

Fernando Machado, Burger King’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management defended the company’s promotion, telling USA Today that the “Proud Whopper…showcases who we are as a brand,” adding, “It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression.”

Why you should care

Unless Burger Kings sees a backlash for promoting cross-dressing and homosexual conduct as normal behavior, it will expand the promotion to other cities and additional stores next year.

The fine missionary position loving heterosexuals at the American Family Association even prepared an email that offended, indignant Evangelicals could send to Burger King. Here’s the suggested text:

I am offended by Burger King’s stunt in offering a so-called “Proud Whopper” in San Francisco. What were you thinking?

Your celebrated promotion of cross-dressers and homosexuality is an insult to families and I find your celebration of abhorrent behavior as a reason to dine elsewhere.

I hope you will learn from this publicity blunder and realize that while most stores did not participate in the corporate-approved program, the damage has been done and affects the image of all Burger King outlets.

If you are so inclined and want to have some fun, please go to the page for the email and change the message to reflect your view about the Burger King’s Proud Whopper. Just make sure you use a fake email so you don’t end up on American Family Associations mailing list.

The American Family Association action alert asked, why should you care? We shouldn’t. It’s a freaking hamburger. Surely, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, can keep Evangelicals from falling into sin while they eat a Proud Whopper at Burger King. Is this what the Evangelical culture war has come to, fearing a rainbow-colored wrapper on a charbroiled hamburger? And they wonder why we mock and ridicule them.

Published: July 17, 2014 | Comments: 14

Kathy Perkins: Why We Have Good Reason to Fear Gun Nuts

moms with guns demand action

I am not anti-gun. I grew up in a home that had numerous firearms. My father collected and sold guns and owned a gun store for many years. My brother is a police officer and my father was an auxiliary police officer. I hunted and shot almost every gun imaginable. I understand the thrill and joy of shooting a firearm.

Yet, I also recognize the need for strict gun control. Way too many people who should NEVER own a firearm own one. (or many) The gun owner that scares me the most is not that man who is off his meds. The scariest gun owners are people like Kathy Perkins, founder of Moms With Guns Demand Action. Let me illustrate with a few photos and screen shots why I fear people like Perkins :

kathy perkins

kathy perkins

kathy perkins

kathy perkins

People like Kathy Perkins are scary, dangerous, and should NEVER be permitted to own a firearm. They are every bit as dangerous as a mentally ill person off their meds. Even more so because there is no pill that can cure the stupid that Kathy Perkins has.

And what’s up with Texas? Is there something in the water? Leave it to Texans like Kathy Perkins and we will civil war in the United States.  Call me an anti-second amendment, gun-hating liberal, but surely sane, rational, reasonable gun owners can see that people like Kathy Perkins are dangerous and they make responsible gun owners look bad.

HT: Libraland

Published: July 14, 2014 | Comments: 42

Why Do So Many Evangelicals Hate Poor Illegal Immigrants?

Over 50 thousand children and teenagers have crossed the Mexican border into America. They are being held in internment camps while politicians wrangle over what to do with them. Especially surprising to me has been the hateful Evangelical response to these poor children. This comic by Darrin Bell aptly sums things up:

the bad samaritan

Robert Reich wrote:

“I’ve been watching media coverage of angry Americans at our southern border waiving signs and yelling slogans, insisting that the children – most of whom are refugees of the drug war we’ve created — “go home” to the violence and death that war has created, and I wonder who these angry Americans are. I also wonder where their parents or grandparents or other ancestors came from, and what they were fleeing from or hoped for when they landed in America. I’m not suggesting we allow in anyone who wants to come here, but these are desperate children. Whatever happened to the generosity, decency, and big-heartedness of this country? Emma Lazarus’s poem engraved in 1903 on the Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of our teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Why are we now allowing the hateful side of America to take center stage?”

Published: July 14, 2014 | Comments: 16

Kathy Kristof’s Six Easy Ways to Save a Million Dollars

kathy kristof

Kathy Kristof, a financial columnist for CBS MoneyWatch writes:

Getting rich is something of a Holy Grail for many Americans, who have been warned that their retirement will look like a scene out of “The Grapes of Wrath” if they fail to save up at least $1 million before they’re old. Although many, perhaps most, people doubt they can save and invest that much, in reality building up a $1 million nest-egg is pretty easy. In fact, if you start young and follow these six steps, you can do it without really trying.

Kristof’s six sure-fire ways to save $1 million before retirement age?

  1. Contribute to a 401(k)
  2. Invest in stocks
  3. Stretch out your student loans
  4. Pay off your credit cards
  5. Learn to cook
  6. Procrastinate on consumer purchases.

There ya go boys and girls. Do what Kristof says and you will be rolling in cash when you  reach retirement age, that is if you started right after college. Never mind the fact that the $1 million Kristof says you will have will come nowhere near meeting your retirements needs 40 years from now. Oops, she forgot about inflation and rising consumers costs that aren’t part of the inflation calculation. Never mind the fact that the majority of college students can no longer find a job in their chosen field, and the jobs they do find often pay poorly, so poorly that they have to move back in with their parents.

Real wages in the US are stagnant or in decline. Most Americans have no hope of ever making enough money to follow Kristof’s six steps to a million bucks.  Consider:

income and productivity

Consider:

change in annual wages

So who is Kathy Kristof writing to? Most likely, the top 10% of wage earners. For the rest? Kristof’s six easy ways to a million bucks are no more likely to pay off than buying a lottery ticket. (and I am not suggesting that saving money is NOT a good idea)

Last night, John Oliver on Last Week Tonight hilariously, yet pointedly, explained what Kristof is seemingly oblivious to:

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Kathy Kristof’s column is a reminder that most financial reporters and writers have no clue about how most Americans really live.

Published: July 14, 2014 | Comments: 19