Jesus and the American Golden Calf

Many years ago, I heard the full story of exactly what was happening at a somewhat routine passage in John 7, and it blew my mind – and altered my life forever.

The passage in question is this:

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38, New King James Version

Like I said, a fairly routine passage in a chapter that is a bunch of “quick hit” scenes. Nothing at all remarkable about the text, on its face.

But here’s where things get interesting: You see, that first verse (until it says 38 above) is actually FULL of details that have direct impact into at least one controversy swirling America as I write this. Because the “feast” in question was one of the holiest moments of the Jewish calendar of that era, the Feast of Tabernacles.

On the very holiest of days of one of the holiest religious observances of their year, Jesus protested. He claimed they were dead wrong, that their celebrations meant nothing. That he and he alone was what they were looking for. In Modern American Christian parlance, this would be similar to some travelling pastor walking into CNN on Christmas morning and proclaiming himself the Second Coming of Christ. It was *that* big.

And here’s the pivot to the American Golden Calf. You see, the Jews of Christ’s era were familiar with the story of the Golden Calf – as are many American Christians. Long story short (and it can be found in Exodus 32), Moses was up on the Mount of Sinai for a LONG time getting the 10 Commandments. While he’s gone, his brother commissions a golden calf to be made that the people of Israel begin worshipping – and then one of the 10 Commandments Moses comes down with turns out to be “thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Oops.

Now, what is the American Golden Calf? The United States Government. And specifically, its symbols – its flag and anthem. American Christians are no different than those Israelites of long ago, so tired of waiting and so bored and so sure of their own significance that they will worship almost literally anything that seems to give them an iota of purpose. In our case, they have eschewed “thou shalt have no other gods before me” for placing their entire faith in the American Flag. Sure, they’ll say they don’t. And they will and do make a big stink about how much they don’t. But their big stink shows just how much they do. Because in their every action, they continually reiterate their absolute devotion to that flag. They think that that flag and the cross Jesus died on are the very same thing, when in fact the two are polar opposites.

That flag in modern times does not in any way stand for freedom. The cross never has. That flag in modern times stands for tyranny, oppression, and force – in every detail of life, all over the globe. The cross stands for absolute supplication to the Living God – by each man’s choice. That flag in modern times demands “you will worship me or else”. The cross has always been about personal sacrifice to show the path to God. That flag in modern times says “If my agents are even the least bit intimidated by you, they can kill you any time they want”. The cross says “I would rather die to show you the path to God than let you die without knowing it.”. That flag in modern times says “I will judge you according to my arbitrary rules.” The cross says “I don’t judge you at all.”. That flag in modern times says “I have the right to kill you.” The cross says “If a man strikes me, I will turn the other cheek and allow him to strike it too.” That flag in modern times says “I will scream in your face about anything I want, and you have to stand there and take it because I’m the most powerful force on the planet.” The cross says “I serve a God who created literally everything, and I humbly present my case for his glory.”

When Colin Kaepernick or the literally hundreds of other sports players protest that flag at the height of the modern American religious festival that is the National Football League, they are doing exactly what Christ did all those years ago. They are being, by the very definition of the word, Christian.

When you rabidly adhere to the American flag, you are by the very definition of the term worshipping a falce idol.

Choose this day whom you will serve, Christian. Will it be the God that gave the Ten Commandments and later proclaimed himself to be the living water to the desert population? Or will it be the golden calf and the religious leaders who thought they had killed some madman claiming to be God?

American Cops Have Achieved This Dubious Honor In Less Than 4 Years

9/11. Oklahoma City. Pulse Nightclub. San Bernadino. Fort Hood. DC Snipers. Charleston. Original World Trade Center bombing. Chattanooga. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Columbine. University of Texas. Washington Navy Yard.

Many Americans know what these events have in common – they are a listing of some of the most infamous terrorist and mass shooting attacks in the history of the United States of America. All told, these events and many other far less well known events combine to form the 50 deadliest such attacks in US history, killing a grand total of 3944 people.

3944. Let that number sink in. 3944 dead in the top 50 deadliest terrorist or mass shooting attacks in US history, over a span of 130 years.

Now let me list another series of numbers:

776^. 1111. 1208. 1152. 7*. Add them up.

I’ll save you the math, though feel free to verify it. The total is 4254, and it is from less than 4 years.

What is this 4254 number? It is the number of people killed by US police in less than 4 years, from May 1 2013 until the moment I write this on Jan 4 2017.

That’s right – in less than 4 years, US cops have killed more people than the 50 worst terrorist attacks and mass shootings in the US over the last 130 years. Put another way, US cops have killed 7.9% more people in just 3.1% of the time frame of all the 50 worst US terrorist and mass shooting attacks.

I’ll spare my normal talking points. The numbers here speak for themselves.
Continue reading “American Cops Have Achieved This Dubious Honor In Less Than 4 Years”

The Choice

Last night, I wrote a 3000 word piece about the intersection of Joshua, Samuel, and Jesus Christ. Today, I want to try to make the case a bit more succinctly.

Government is a choice, and in that choice we reject God.

If you read nothing else in this post, that last sentence is the entire point I am making.

Even in Joshua’s “choose this day” speech, he makes that very point – something most people miss when quoting that verse. He specifically says that the choice is between the God that his ancestors had chosen or the gods of those now around them in the land we now know as Israel. This truly is a dichotomous choice – God, or not. Many years later, the gods around them have transitioned into government, and kings have arisen throughout the land. So the elders of Israel go to Joshua’s (much later) successor, Samuel, and demand a king of their own. And at this point, God Himself says to the elders (through Samuel) explicitly that in making that choice, they have rejected Him (and His ability to provide for them). A millenia or two later, God would become incarnate in the form of the man we now call Jesus Christ. And Jesus would make the same point, in such a subtle fashion that it did not alarm the ruling government of his day. Jesus explicitly says in his most famous sermon “You cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will serve one and despise the other.”

Thus, you can choose government. Or God. You cannot choose both. Because if you try, you will wind up despising one of them. Even God Himself – twice! – says exactly this.

That is the choice.

That is your choice.

Make Your Choice

Tonight’s situation: I met Mark McIntyre on Twitter, and reading his post about government and Paul, I brought up my standard point about 1 Samuel 8 and how so very many that cite Paul on government routinely ignore this particular passage. Mark asked me to explain a bit, and I pointed out that in 1 Samuel 8, God explicitly tells Israel that choosing a King is rejecting Him. Mark suggested that I was saying that the point is to not look to human government to fix what is really wrong, and to a point, he is correct. But 1 Samuel also ties to Joshua’s famous (at least in American Christianity) “choose this day” speech and even is a centuries early version of Christ’s own “no man can serve two masters”. Mark asked me if I would be willing to work up a guest post on that last bit, so here goes. (And please bear with me, it has been many years since I have written anything of this type, even though these are the thoughts that now form a part of the core of my beliefs about how everything works. I simply am very rarely asked to explain them in this manner.)

Joshua, by the time of the “choose this day” speech, had been the primary leader of Israel for several years after the death of his mentor Moses. Ever heard of crossing the Jordan and the battle of Jericho? That was Joshua. When it comes to “choose this day”, he is handing over power over the various tribes of Israelites – effectively one HUGE extended family – and in the process, he is giving them a challenge. Let’s pick up his exact words, at least so far as the New King James Version of the Bible can get them to us, via what we now refer to as Joshua 24:

And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods.
3And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
8And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
14Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
17For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
19And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
22And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.
24And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
27And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
29And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath–serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.
32And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.

The bold piece is the most famous, but look at the entire speech – it really is quite good. Joshua gathers the elders of the tribes – and we find out a bit later on, dude is over a century old himself as he is doing this. He reminds them of their history, of everything God had done for them. And of some of the battles that had been fought against other families with other gods. And he gives them a choice, the bold part above – choose whether you want God or you want a king. Make that choice every day. That last is key, as we will see momentarily.

The people choose God and all of American Christianity cheers.

We flash forward a few hundred years, through the time of the Judges. These were singular leaders who rose up during times of great peril for the Israelites and led them through – a modern equivalent might be the Toruk Macto from James Cameron’s Avatar. Except over a period of time, the Israelites go through this several times. Finally, along comes a man named Samuel, the last of the Judges. Why is he the last? Because the People are about to make a different choice. Remember, Joshua told them to choose daily to serve God or to serve a king. But Joshua by this point has been dead for quite a while, and everything about him and the battles he helped wage have faded into legend – similar to the state we see the Jedi in during Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Except here, we’re going to be waiting quite a while for the Jedi to come back on the scene, and things are going to get very, very dark.

By the time we get to 1 Samuel 8, Samuel is already getting old. The elders know he won’t be around much longer, and apparently his sons can’t be trusted to take his place. So let’s pick things up with the very text in question, 1 Samuel 8:

And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
2Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer–sheba.
3And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
4Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
6But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
7And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
9Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
10And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
11And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
22And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

So Samuel is old, his kids are idiots that can’t be trusted, so the elders demand a king to be like the other nations around them. They’re afraid. Those other guys have standing armies, and all they have is a Judge who may or may not be able to lead them. And in their fear, they demand a king. God sees exactly what they are doing – they don’t trust Him to provide for them anymore, and this is a direct rejection of His ability to provide. He even calls them out on it. Not only that, He explicitly warns them that they really don’t know what they are asking Him for. A King, they are warned, will steal their kids for his purposes. The king will steal their food and money for his cronies. And he will tax them all to pay for his every whim. And eventually, they will get sick of this king they have demanded and beg to God to take him away from them. At which point God pretty much says “You asked for it, you got it – now you deal with the consequences.” But the elders still chose to reject God and demanded a king anyway. So God instructs Samuel to select one, and they wind up with Saul, then David, then Solomon. King David you’ve likely heard of – a very famous hotel in the modern state of Israel bears his name to this day. Dude is *that* well liked among the Israelis even now. (And as a brief aside: If you think the two primary people many think of as running for President of the US in 2016 are bad… as much as those three are respected now, let’s just say that they were pretty bad people that the two modern people don’t really have anything on.)

Now we’re going to flash forward a bit longer though. We’re going to skip over all kinds of Israeli captivity at the hands of the Babylonians and the Persians (Iraq and Iran, for those keeping score with the modern areas we’re speaking of). Again the history here is somewhat interesting, but it is a constant state of Israel screws up, gets taken captive, plays nice, gets set free, rinse and repeat. For hundreds of years. Finally, the Romans come around, and by the time our time warp ends, they’ve already held the area we now call the modern state of Israel for at least a century.

Then these dude everyone called Joshua the Carpenter, of Nazareth shows up. You may know him better as Jesus Christ, but they didn’t. At least not yet.

Then one day, Joshua is giving a speech, one that would become arguably the most famous, defining speech of his life. One that would have scholars debating about for millenia – literally. And there is a LOT to discuss in this speech. Many, many, MANY volumes of tomes have been written about this speech alone, and I’m sure at least that many will be written about this same speech in particular. We now call it the ‘Sermon On The Mount’.

In the Sermon On The Mount, Joshua basically tells every Jew ever that they have no idea what they are talking about. Considering that the local government of his time was run by the era’s equivalent of the Moral Majority at the height of their power… not necessarily a good thing if his intent was to live into old age. (It wasn’t, and he didn’t – for those who may not know that.)

But one bit of this speech in particular sticks out, at least as far as connecting to Joshua and Samuel. Because at one point, in what we now refer to as Matthew 6:24, Joshua explicitly says:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

In other words… “choose who you will serve”. Or, “choose this day whom you will serve”. Or “are you really sure you want this King dude?”

Here, in this moment, the man we now know as Jesus Christ echoes men from centuries before his time: Choose.

Choose to trust God. Or choose to trust government. But realize right now that you cannot choose both. You will hate one and love the other, or you will serve one and despise the other. There is no other way. You will make this choice, and you will make it daily. You will trust God to provide for your needs, or you will bow down to government and do whatever it takes to make government happy so that it will fulfill them.

Choose Wisely.

Lexington County Primary Elections Runoffs June 28, 2016 – My Picks

So basically every election with more than two people two weeks ago went into runoff mode, and that election is TODAY, June 28, 2016. Indeed, polls open less than 3 hrs from when I write this, and as with the election 2 weeks ago, I will likely be one of the first people there. (Indeed, I was Republican #1 on the signature list 2 weeks ago.)

HOWEVER, the runoff has shown some particularly nasty sides to some candidates, and my thoughts have changed at least in part on 3 of the 4 races – even though of the 4 races, 3 include people I supported in the last election.

So here goes, straight down the ballot:

The (remaining) Candidates: Rick Hubbard, Candice Lively.
My Pick: Rick Hubbard
Reason: In the last election, I supported Lively as the outsider who could get shit done. I pointed out that Hubbard had allowed the prior Solicitor to be as bad as he was, as well as allowing former Sheriff James Metts to be as corrupt as he has been convicted of being. Both those and more still hold true. So why am I supporting him now? Because – and you will find this theme with 3 of my 4 picks – his opponent outed herself as discriminatory. Now this particular discrimination is so prevalent that we don’t even have a word for it, yet I experience it somewhat often and am somewhat vocal in speaking out against it. This particular discrimination is against childless adults. We see this quite often when such an adult runs, that at least one candidate will bring up “I can protect kids better because I actually have them.”, which is SOOOOOOOOOO offensive and equally blatantly wrong. (Famously, we also saw this line of thought used in Georgia against Karen Handel in both the 2010 Governor race and the 2014 Senate race.) This time, Lively was the one that made that comment – on the eve of Father’s Day, speaking against her male opponent no less! This would be equivalent to someone cheering the display of the piss crucifix on Good Friday for many, yet she is cheered for this behavior! I put up with a lot of crap from Lively in the election two weeks ago because I thought her opponents’ background made them worse, but this particular incident showed just how bad Lively was and lost this voter’s support because of it.

The (remaining) Candidates: Lisa Comer, Emily Hinson
My Pick: Lisa Comer.
Reason: I picked her last time, and I have seen nothing in the last two weeks to change that. Indeed, in the last two weeks it seems that the people I trust the least – elected officials – have been lining up behind her opponent. Good enough for me to stay Comer.

The (remaining) Candidates: Erin Long Bergeson, Dino Teppara
My Pick: Erin Long Bergeson
Reason: My fights against natives seeking public office are epic and very nearly the stuff of legend. And Bergeson seems to think that anti-tax groups count as “special interests” and “lobbying” and seems open to raising my taxes. So why the hell am I going with her? Because Teppara is a racist, plain and simple. His opposition to more housing for more people to come to Chapin can only be because he doesn’t want “those people” living in his “perfect” town. Dude, Chapin has a LOT of problems, and the VAST bulk of them are caused by the white people here. Giving some people I know personally a chance to live much closer to work is NOT a bad thing, and the quality of the people I speak of is better than the quality of you. So I go with Bergeson not because I like her, but because Teppara is such a blatant racist.

The (remaining) Candidates: Rich Bolen, Tina Guerry
My Pick: NOTA? Unfortunately not an option, so Tina Guerry
Reason: Guerry is a friend, and at this point that is one of only two reasons she is getting my vote. (The other being her opponent is a blatant sexist.) That so many elected officials are lining up to support her is beyond troubling, and if she were not a friend would disqualify her immediately (other than her opponent being a sexist).

Lexington County Primary Elections June 14, 2016 – My Picks

Unlike POTUS nominees (and even Statewide), I try to pick what I genuinely feel is the *best* candidate for the office for local races. Why? Because when the Feds and State fail, local is still community, and even in complete and total anarchy – my avowed desire – voluntary community is needed. (Even though Lexington County needs to be divided into at least 4 separate Counties, but that is another post for another day… someday.)

I’ll go straight down the Republican Sample Ballot, since the Democratic race only has a single race – US Congress vs Joe Wilson, and Wilson will win that race in November anyway.

State House of Representatives, District 85:
The Challengers: Chip Huggins (I) vs Bryan Clifton
My Vote: Bryan Clifton. 1) I DO NOT vote for Incumbents. Period. 2) Clifton has been genuinely working for the last couple of years or so to build his support throughout the district. I’ve never met the guy personally, but I’ve seen a LOT of his signs and I’ve seen on Facebook where he has been out at least a couple of times a month campaigning for the last year and a half at least. He’s put in the work and he does not have an (I) beside his name, so there you go.

Solicitor Circuit 11:
The Challengers: Rick Hubbard vs Candice Lively vs Larry Wedekind.
My Vote: Candice Lively. I’m not *overly* thrilled with any of them, but both Hubbard and Wedekind worked under the current (retiring) Solicitor and allowed former Lexington County Sheriff James Metts to be as corrupt as he was. Initially I wasn’t going to vote for Candice, as her signs were working against her – she absolutely had a case of resting bitch face going on with her face on her larger signs. I think she realized this and corrected later though, as newer signs had a better pic. But ultimately it was learning about Hubbard and Wedekind’s history in Lexington County, along with Wedekind’s outright politicalization of the office via pandering for votes using issues that are in NO WAY connected to this job, that sealed the deal. That, and Lively isn’t afraid to respond to antagonistic comments and leave them up. That too spoke volumes.

Clerk of Court:
The Challengers: Lisa Comer, Emily Hinson, Mollie Taylor
My Vote: Lisa Comer. Mollie Taylor royally screwed over a friend during some legal issue they had, so that was a no-go. Emily Henson just doesn’t seem to know what the hell she is talking about. Comer seems fairly competent, and I know from previous work in a District Attorney’s office that it really doesn’t take much in this job.

The Challengers: Margaret Fisher (I), Glenn Ross
My Vote: Glenn Ross. NOTA would be preferable, but Fisher has an (I) beside her name, meaning Ross gets my vote. I don’t actually like this guy, but I absolutely refuse to vote for any Incumbent, ever, and NOTA isn’t an option.

County Council District 6:
The Challengers: Ronald Derrick, Erin Long Bergeson, Benjamin Stitely, Dino Teppara
My Vote: Ben Stitely. Berenson making it a major point that her family is a native to Lexington County for a few generations (at least) lost me – anyone who knows my history with City Council races knows that I am the one guy that stands up to legacy families/ candidates, because fresh ideas are needed in these modern times and those guys run on nothing more than maintaining the status quo. Similarly, Derrick makes it a proud point that he is a “lifelong” resident of Chapin. Seriously? As many issues as this City has, that you apparently haven’t tried to stop? Wouldn’t be advertising that fact… Teppara is a NIMBY, actively opposing new people coming into Chapin. Stitely is very vague on his FB, but at least he didn’t say anything that disqualified him from my vote.

Register of Deeds:
The Challengers: Rich Bolen, Mike Green, Dan Gregory, Tina Guerry, Joy Munsch.
My Vote: Tina Guerry. I’m not overly thrilled that the retiring Incumbent endorsed her yesterday, but I know Tina personally – the only one of any candidate listed on this page that I can say that about. I’ve known her for 3 years, and some of my closest friends have known her much longer. She’s very competent at her current job, and she has some solid ideas for what she wants to do in this new potential job. And then there are her challengers. Gregory simply is too quiet – his brother blatantly runs his FB page. Munsch doesn’t even *have* a FB page – despite running in a race with nearly 300K population in the district. Green thinks the biggest qualification needed is to be the most extremely conservative Christian – with a degree from Bob Jones University no less and actively censors comments on his FB page. Bolen is an outright sexist who floated the idea of putting his face on his new signs with the slogan “not just a pretty face” – and then actually *did* put his face on his new signs, though at least he was smart enough to not *actually* put the proposed slogan with it. (For those unaware, Guerry has had her face on her most prominent signs since she began putting them out.)

The Lesson Of John Oxendine, Governor of Georgia


How I Learned To Stop Trusting Polls

The year is 2009. I have been running a political blog for several months by this time that year, and the various Statewide elections for 2010 were beginning to heat up. I had already had a few runins with the campaign of then State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who was one of the earliest people to announce his candidacy for Governor. But at this time, polls had him at 38% of the vote – roughly 1 year before voters would actually go to the polls in July 2010. Even as late as just a week before the election, at least one poll still had Oxendine in the 30%+ range.

Now, by this point I have hosted the largest political event in the State of Georgia that campaign season in terms of number of Statewide candidates present. I’ve been immersed in this election, particularly this race, for a year. I’ve been following every nuance, reading every tea leaf, and at this point even I am convinced that the WORST John Oxendine does on election day is 2nd place and forcing a runoff.

And then election day happened.

John Oxendine finished the day in FOURTH place, with just 17% of the vote, behind a State Senator, a fellow Statewide office holder, and a former Congressman who had been named the most corrupt member of Congress and who had resigned rather than face an ethics investigation. (That Congressman is now the Governor of Georgia, by the way.)

Within about 6 months or so of this election, I would leave both political activism and even the State of Georgia. But I will NEVER forget that particular lesson John Oxendine taught me.

Never trust polls. The voters will do what the voters will do, and the pollsters are at best guessing.

Why am I writing this lesson now?

The “rise” of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders provide obvious parallels.

College Football Strength of Schedule (Who Do They Play?)

aka, who plays the most teams ranked in the Top 25 at any point this season? I’ll even be generous and include in italics the number including those among the “others receiving votes” category.

For ease of use, we will use the current (Week 3) Top 25 as our guide:

1. Ohio State: 1 (Michigan State), 5 (Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, Penn State, Michigan, Minnesota)
2. Alabama: 9 (Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn)
3. TCU: 3 (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor), 7 (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Minnesota, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas)
4. Michigan State: 2 (Oregon, Ohio State), 5 (Oregon, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan)
5. Baylor: 3 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU), 6 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas)
6. USC: 7 (Stanford, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA), 8 (Stanford, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, California)
7. Georgia: 5 (Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Georgia Tech), 6 (Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida)
8. Notre Dame: 4 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Stanford), 5 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Stanford, Texas)
9. Florida State: 2 (Georgia Tech, Clemson), 6 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami-FL, Louisville, NC State, Florida)
10. UCLA: 6 (BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Utah, USC), 7 (BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Utah, USC, California)
11. Clemson: 3 (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, FSU), 6 (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, FSU, Louisville, Miami-Fl, NC State)
12. Oregon: 5 (Michigan State, Utah, Arizona State, Stanford, USC)
13. LSU: 6 (Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M), 7 (Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida)
14. Georgia Tech: 4 (Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, Georgia), 7 (Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami-Fl)
15. Ole Miss: 6 (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State), 7 (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Florida)
16. Oklahoma: 4 (Tennessee, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State), 7 (Tennessee, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas State)
17. Texas A&M: 7 (Arizona State, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU)
18. Auburn: 7 (LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama), 8 (LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama, Louisville)
19. BYU: 3 (Boise State, UCLA, Missouri), 6 (Boise State, UCLA, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Cincinnati)
20. Arizona: 5 (UCLA, Stanford, USC, Utah, Arizona State)
21. Utah: 5 (Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Arizona, UCLA), 7 (Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Michigan, California)
22. Missouri: 5 (Georgia, Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, Arkansas), 6 (Georgia, Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida)
23. Northwestern: 2 (Stanford, Wisconsin), 8 (Stanford, Wisconsin, Duke, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State)
24. Wisconsin: 2 (Alabama, Northwestern), 5 (Alabama, Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota)
25. Oklahoma State: 3 (TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma), 6 (TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia)

Swinging Pendulums and Relationships

Six years ago, back in my political blogging days, I wrote about Swinging Pendulums, specifically as they related to politics.

I began by describing the science of pendulums, and I shall copy that description here:

When you swing a pendulum one way, it will go a certain distance before stopping, reversing, and swinging an equal distance the other way. If energy is added on the return swing, it will actually go further on that swing, before once again reversing and swinging an equal distance the original direction. This will continue ad infinitum, until eventually the pendulum makes a complete revolution on its axis. Even then, if more energy is continually added, the swinging will continue to get faster and faster, and the revolutions will thus happen more and more frequently.

While discussing my post about Paul and his position on women teaching men in the Church yesterday, I began noticing that the pendulum post applied. I’ll not go into any specifics on that particular case, but instead use my work with Cop Block as my example of the pendulum amongst individuals and groups.

The pendulum regarding cops swings from one side who has absolute faith in cops to the other side of those who have absolutely no faith in cops or anything remotely connected to cops.

I’ve known people on both extremes, and admittedly I may be more on the “no faith” side than at the zero point on this particular pendulum. But that is exactly what I want to talk about.

You see, I openly acknowledge that I was abused by cops as a kid. Fortunately, my abuse didn’t involve beatings, rapes, or murder, but it was still cops abusing their power rather than trying to understand an Autistic teenager. In my particular case, the first instance was when cops tried to question me over something that I learned existed when they began questioning me. They first questioned me in a school conference room with no lawyer, parent, or even school counselor present. They then subjected me to a lie detector test, where they asked about the girl I had a massive crush on at the time. At the time, I was firmly in the “absolute faith” camp, so I “consented” to all of this. I later got a letter from one of the girls involved apologizing for causing all the drama, a letter I have to this day. The second instance of my abuse was a few months later, at the Egelston Christmas Parade in Atlanta. I had found a large rock at school, and because this was the first Saturday in December, my mom required me to take a coat to the parade. I put the coat in my backpack, but the pack was too light. So I put the rock in it as well. At the parade, I stood where I had stood for years, in the parking deck above the then Planet Hollywood across from the Hard Rock Atlanta. At some point, I took the rock out and placed it on the ledge for a moment. Within moments, I had units from Atlanta Police Department’s Red Dogs – a unit later known for such brutality that it was disbanded, including the raid on the Atlanta Eagle – questioning me and walking me back to my mother, who was on street level at the McDonald’s about half a block away. But it really wasn’t until years later, when I saw friends and even strangers being abused and murdered by cops that these events took hold as being a scourge. I knew the cops were wrong to harass me even at the time, but then, I’m used to people not understanding me and not trying. Peril of being Autistic. It was only much later, after the murder of Kathryn Johnston and Jonathan Ayers -as well as the Eagle raid and police detaining two guys who were doing nothing more than driving around America in a motor home, looking for liberty – that I began to see these events in a truly different light.

So because of that, I don’t trust cops. With only one exception, because he is a member of the church I grew up in. But even my trust in him is tenuous, knowing that when it comes down to it, he will treat me as any cop would rather than the person he knows I am.

But here is where the pendulum comes in: Even I acknowledge that from time to time, I lash out in my hurt and anger. I’ve screamed people down on Facebook, I openly flip off cops as they pass me by, etc etc etc. I have friends of friends that have been hurt even more than I by cops, and they openly advocate the murder of cops. I see my actions flipping cops off as moving the pendulum back to zero – but openly advocating the murder of cops as moving the pendulum back to the other side, and adding force to it. This is not a good thing, and I’ve become at least somewhat known in the Cop Block community for standing against these people, at least as it relates to the outright murder of cops. (My caveat here being that if *anyone* is actively attacking you, you have the right to defend yourself with whatever force necessary to stop the attack – no matter the clothing they are wearing at the time.)

But then I see the people, even inside my own family, that advocate cops becoming ever more powerful. They say that cops’ jobs are dangerous and that cops “don’t know who will be taking their uniform off when they put it on in the morning”. Despite the fact that by their own numbers, cops in 2014 were literally 10,000x more likely to shoot and kill a civilian than a civilian was to shoot and kill a cop. But these people are simply being hurt and reacting to even my flipping cops off – much less the friends of friends openly calling for murder of cops. At least I choose to believe so. Particularly since these people know well my own history with cops, I really hope they are not so crass as to simply want cops to have more power, period.

So both sides get hurt, and both sides actively seek to harm the other. This just keeps the cycle of pain ever spinning, and the pendulum ever swinging.

Instead, we need people more in the middle. We need people to acknowledge the pain of both sides, and work to get back to the point we had in the days of Sheriff Taylor, when people were distrustful yet respecting of cops – and cops didn’t actively lie about people in order to steal from them or murder them. We need to reset the pendulum here to zero.

But the pendulum doesn’t just apply to cops. It applies to *all* individuals and groups. Whenever there is conflict, there is a pendulum. And there are people getting hurt and reacting to that pain – not always in people-centered manners. And if someone doesn’t actively step in to slow the pendulum in these conflicts, the pendulum will continue to swing and eventually it will go full cycle – a situation no one wants, as people *will* get hurt in the revolution. Life isn’t an amusement park pirate ship ride, where people are safely strapped in so that when the revolution happens, it is part of the fun. When the revolution happens in real life conflict, real people are going to get hurt even more.

So we *have* to have peacemakers, or at least people at least somewhat reasonable enough to acknowledge the concerns of both their camp and the opposite camp, and work for genuine reconciliation of both. Not that we will ever completely agree on anything, but enough to keep the pain of both sides to a minimum.

And I know I’m rambling, I’ve written this post in the 3a hour where even I am usually zoned out playing video games rather than doing the hard thinking of this post. But hopefully it makes some degree of sense.

What If Paul Had A Point?

The Apostle Paul’s admonitions against women in teaching and preaching positions in the church are rather infamous.

For those unaware, while much of 1 Timothy 2 would be concerning for modern society, in v12 Paul specifically states “I do not permit a woman to teach or to hold authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Now, see my last post, regarding Frank Viola’s example of Marvin Snurdley, for a great illustration of why we should take this with likely a boulder of salt.

But what if Paul had a grain of truth for us there? Sure, he could have phrased it better for modern sensibilities, but the dude has been dead for nearly two millenia, so I’ll give him a pass there.

But let’s think about it. Shaunti Feldhahn has made a career over the last 15 yrs or so with the ground breaking research she did for her books For Women Only and For Men Only. I personally once allowed a coworker to borrow my copies of those two books when he spent a week on my couch while in a rough spot with his wife, and they saved his marriage – at least at that point. (It has been nearly a decade since I heard from him.)

Part of that research was finding out and explaining to women just how visual men are and just how much we think about sex. To say that most women who read that book are shocked would not be a minor understatement, to say the least.

I can even point to a couple of examples from my own early teenage years, 8th grade in particular.

In 8th grade, my English teacher was absolutely stunning. Sure, I had teachers before and since that were good looking, but this lady… let’s just say she put my 13yo hormones in overdrive, even though she rarely showed much skin at all. (Long skirts with sleeved tops of some form, usually, but even these were very flattering to her form, at times. One white cashmere sweater in particular, when she put the strap of her purse across her chest…. moving on now.)

My Social Studies teacher that year was one I had been around for years at that point, and would be in similar circles for years later. She was at my elementary school teaching 4th grade right next to the 4th grade class I was in, and I would have her as a teacher in both middle school and high school. In addition, her husband was at the time a preacher at whose church I would occasionally go to Vacation Bible School. The man is currently a sitting State Representative in my home State, representing at least part of my home town.

Anyway, this teacher and I never really got along, for reasons that are not relevant to this post. But one day when I was in 8th grade, I saw something. Apparently her top was a little too small that day, and as a result, the fabric opened slightly in the middle along the button line. I do not remember the circumstances, but I remember seeing between those buttons that day. I could describe exactly what I saw, but people in my hometown already know exactly who this woman is, and I’ll not embarass her any further here.

But tying these two instances to Shaunti’s research and Paul’s admonitions:

I don’t remember the lessons of those two teachers *at all*. I likely retain the information, but do not remember it was they that first presented it to me. But I remember those two particular images, nearly 20 years later. And those were just one day of middle school English and Social Studies lessons.

Now think of just how crucial and truly life altering good, solid Christian teaching can be – or, for the more pessimistic, how damaging bad, weak Christian teaching can be.

With pubescent boys and even grown men so distracted by sex, does Paul have a degree of a point in his admonishment that women not teach or hold authority over men?

I believe that yes, he does. Perhaps he could have been more nuanced in making his point, but I do believe that at least two a certain extent, his point was valid.

I point to Shanti’s research and my own experiences – which at least in that example I believe to be common – as my reasoning. Even when a woman dresses to appease even the most stringent of modesty culture purists, she can still be a stumbling block to men who will be distracted by her body and pay her words no heed. Let me be clear: I am in no way blaming the woman in question for this. I am simply pointing out that at least some men will have this difficulty.

Of course, this is also where a degree of nuance is needed: for gay or bisexual men, even a male teacher or preacher could be exactly the same stumbling block that a female teacher or preacher could be for straight men. Would Paul thus argue that men should not teach men?

Here, I’ll simply point back to
Marvin Snurdley and say that Paul’s teachings do not neccessarily apply for all people for all times in all situations.

Ultimately, Paul has a degree of a point. Does it apply to us today? To some degree, yes. But not neccessarily completely, and certainly not in as totalitarian a position as some groups have taken it over the years.