I was watching a film on Netflix, last night, that was covering a group of people called the, Flat Earth Society. The documentary is, ‘Behind The Curve.’
The program discussed the rationale that enables people to seek, examples, that support their conspiracy theories.
We hear…what we want to hear!
One of the, primary, leaders of the Flat Earth Society believes that the Earth is a giant dome covered terrarium…and that the sun and moon and the stars and planets are a type of display on the dome.
It is possible to become educated…and it is possible to be mis-educated!
One of the proofs that the Earth is flat, to a leader in the movement, was that he could see Seattle, Washington on the horizon, although his home was a significant distance from Seattle…and his contention that Seattle would be hidden by the curvature of the Earth…if the Earth was round?
Science is merely a means of thinking about a problem or question that requires a solution.
However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that each of us use our, own, thought patterns, and life experiences, and bias and prejudice…to come to a, plausible conclusion, as to what the facts, mean, that are available, to us,…are pointing to.
I have never believed the one shooter theory regarding the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy.
Now, I have read books regarding, alternate assassination theories…and I watched the movie, JFK, and I see every documentary that comes out regarding the subject.
When I see shows or read books that support the Warren Commission’s report or the single shooter theory…I am left cold!
When I watch, JFK, or read about the multiple shooter conspiracy theories or the theory that, vice president Lyndon Johnson something to do with the cutting down of our, young, leader…or the, hypothesis, the Mafia had the hit done…I am enthralled!
There are may similarities in our political divide… as to the immersion in alternate facts and realities…or ‘other truths!’
We have become a nation that has, deified, our political parties!
We have gone from the separation of church and state…to believing that the church is the state…and through the commingling of our secular government and our faith communities…we have become, engulfed, in a thick fog of truth that is the conclusion of our, obfuscation, of the plain christian doctrine that Christ preached, and has been replaced with the, hybrid, belief system that has grown out of mixture of ‘iron and clay’ …as the feet of the statue in Daniel 2:41 43 KJV
We all seek answers that coalesce with our life experiences.
If our life has been, stable and secure and loving…we tend to accept widely accepted, scientific, truths.
If our life has been difficult and shaky and frightening…we tend to accept truths that verify our dismal and suffering experiences.
There is a theory in Quantum Physics that states that all physical objects that we see and touch and encounter, on a daily basis, are but a group of molecules and atoms that our mind assigns meaning to?
Perhaps that is how we have so many…truths?
‘I really do not know what we are waiting on,’ said Bruiser?
‘We are waiting on our humans,’ replied Abigail.
‘I looked for them…a lot…when we first came here, but they never appeared, Bruiser said, with his bottom lip protruding.
‘Wallace has asked about, his mommy, every day that he has been here,’ Abigail said.
‘I know that he is anxious to see his, and our, mommy, but………ball….fetch…run….., Bruiser became distracted!
‘I liked it when mommy scratched my ears,’ Parker chimed in!
‘Parker…you are not a Boston Terrier…and you never will be,’ said Brody, angrily!
‘Grrrr, replied Parker!
‘We adopted Parker into the Boston Terrier family, many years ago,’ Wallace said.
‘Yes…but she bit my legs…and other parts…when I was old and could not defend myself, ‘ remarked Brody!
Mary Jane and Jay could not help but notice the beauty of their surroundings. They were perplexed as to what had happened and, considered, that they might be having a dream…but how were they so, seemingly awake?
‘Hello’…..said a sloth…hanging from a elm tree.
‘Greetings, Mr. Sloth,’ Jay responded.
‘I saw Rolly Bud, earlier today, and he was with Sassy,’ the Sloth slowly and carefully responded.
Mary Jane asked me, where we could possibly be…as she did not recall, sloths speaking, and Rolly Bud, a Boston Terrier, and Sassy, a mutt, had passed away….years ago!
I remembered when my stepfather had passed away, Earl, and we had been driving to the hospital in Evansville, Indiana in the attempt to see him before he died. As I looked over at Mary Jane…she kept uttering the name, Sassy, and and I thought how peculiar as we were attempting to arrive before he left…and she was obsessing about his dog?
When I asked her what she was thinking about, Sassy, she responded that, Earl, had made her promise that she would take, Sassy, in if he died.
Mary Jane understood that the time for Sassy’s adoption had arrived!
Suddenly, Wallace jumped into his mom”s lap!
‘Hi mom,’ Wallace said, ‘where have you been…I have missed you?
‘I was the first…in case you do not remember,’ said Bruiser.
‘Yes, but I came shortly after you and on the day of the beginning of the Gulf War…and I am from Missouri,’ Abigail retorted!
Suddenly a ball was dropped in Mary Jane’s lap…and Brody smiled at her, broadly!
‘I think that it is time for a little fetch…don’t you,’ Brody asked?
When Mary Jane threw the ball…Brody was off like a rocket…and he returned it to his mommy…in record time!
‘I know how to play fetch, as well as anyone, but I prefer to engage in more mature behavior…like belly rubs…said Parker,’ as she became engulfed in the nirvana of a, through belly rub…by dad!
‘Do you think that my hips are to big,’ said Elsa the elephant?
‘No, I think that they fit you perfectly,’ replied Jerry the Giraffe.
‘Where are you going,’ asked Pepie…the skunk?
‘Well, we are new here…and we, really, do not understand where we are…as the last memory we have…we were driving to St. Louis to eat at our favorite restaurant, Cunetto’s’ House of Pasta,’ Jay replied.
‘Many refer to me as Pepie Le Pew…have you seen any of my cartoons,’ asked Pepie?
‘Why yes I have,’ said M.J., but I thought that you were a fictional character?
‘Oh no, mon cherie, I am, quite real,’ and may I say that you have beautiful eyes, Pepie responded.
‘You must hurry, the meeting is about to begin…and Peter does not like to be kept waiting,’ Brody implored!
‘Oh he has a lot of titles…today he is the chief pest and bottle washer…and…really a good guy…if you can get past his demanding nature,’ said Abigail.
‘I remember walking with mommy…and the smells…and the wind blowing in my face…and birds that were just above us in the trees…and how I wanted to meet them,’ said Bruiser.
‘I remember how mommy would scratch my, itching, ears…and I am so happy that they do not itch any longer,’ Parker reminisced.
‘You are almost there,’ a cardinal chirped!
‘Do you remember me,’ inquired the beaver, ‘I lived in your pond and I traveled all over the neighborhood…when I was not building dams.’
‘We loved your’ yard…and we spent many nights enjoying it’s peaceful solitude and your kind welcome,’ announced a herd of deer!
‘Let’s go into the meeting…you are going to like it here,’ said Parker, as she nuzzled us.
‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ I Corinthians 2:9 KJV
‘And, Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David, therefore himself calleth him Lord, and whence is he than his son? And the common people heard him gladly. And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, for a presence make long prayers: these shall receive the greater damnation. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and behold how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even her living.’ Mark 12: 35 – 44 KJV
Could it be that we all want to hear about the homeless being helped and fed and clothed and receiving shelter…but not in our neighborhood?
Elder, Jane Swanson, delivered a compelling sermon this morning at our church.
Among the points of her message was the self satisfied belief that we are among the blessed…while the less fortunate are not.
She discussed the tension that surrounds reaching out to the poor and homeless and hungry…that was demonstrated in both the creation of a warming center in Carbondale and a breakfast program that our church is engaged in on Wednesday mornings.
It seems that everyone wants to hear that the poor are being helped…as long as it is not in their line of site?
A homeless woman, who has often attend our church, and who I have spoken to on more than one occasion, and who asked me if I was a rabbi…was standing in front of Schnucks Supermarket. She was looking away from me…so I waited to say hello to her, once, she had turned my way. When we made eye contact I said hi…to which she responded for me, ‘to f— myself!’
I was startled..but I was not offended, as I realized that she probably did not recognize me…or felt threatened.
Talking about helping the homeless and helping the homeless…is two different things. It is not for the faint of heart or thin skinned!
We are comfortable sitting in our church pews among our friends and fellow congregants, of many years, there is no challenge to attending Sunday morning service…and we are not looking for any!
We seek those of our economic strata and similar belief systems…
We proclaim God’s blessings on our lives…as if we have done some good work or deed to have earned our comfortable existence…a point system?
In reality we are the recipients of God’s extreme grace and mercy…and have earned nothing…and could slide into poverty and degradation with, one, or more life reversals!
Do we pray…lengthy prayers to be heard and applauded by men…while our homeless brothers and sisters proclaim…God save me…a sinner!
I love weather!
My son, Jonathon, often comments that I am into weather in all of it’s forms!
One byproduct of global warming is a, continuous, change in weather!
Yesterday it was in the mid 50s’…while today it is in the 20s’…and sleeting and snowing!
The seasons remind me of life!
Truly, the winter makes me think, today, of the loss of my friends… of their young daughter.
Friendship is, extremely, important to me. I have a friend who has undergone some significant health concerns, over the past few months, and I think of her and, my good friend, her husband, daily!
For months we have been wrestling and worrying regarding my wife’s physical condition…and I am grateful that everything has turned out good!
When we are young, and as a tree, full of sap…we feel that this thing called life…will never end…but that would be…believing in a myth!
We should arise from our chairs and hug and kiss the people that we care about and tell them that we love them…and tell them what we love about them!
‘It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’ is a quote by Winston Churchill…that can be applied to…life!
‘Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before his judgment seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last…’…..C.T. Studd
All to often we live from day to day believing that nothing will change…and our loved ones will be there for our purposes…rather it be….a closer bonding…or an apology…or a reconciliation…or and opportunity to know and understand each other…more fully!
We know that, tomorrow, will be just the day to accomplish the mending of the tears in the net of our relationships. We know that our loved one is just a telephone call away…or, perhaps, is in the next room………
My mom died of Alzheimer’s disease. It was a, long, progressive disease. Her mind had slipped away…before I could, properly, express…my love and appreciation for her!
Do not wait!
I was shocked, last evening, to read on Facebook that two of Mary Jane and my, old friends, had lost their, young, daughter…suddenly.
Our friends, and us…attended church together…over 30 years ago. They are precious and sincere people…the kind of human beings that you are proud to call your friends!
Of course, we were over 30 years younger…as were our friends…who were not married at that time.
Their, wonderful, daughter, who was my Facebook friend, was so lovely and I enjoyed reading her Facebook posts.
When I would see their daughter’s photos…I felt that I knew her…as she resembled both her mom and dad…and I had grown-up with them over many years.
I admired her Facebook posts…and I wished that I had commented on them…as I, often, thought…what a fine young lady…and what, insightful comments that she made…wise beyond her years!
As a youngster, I was a guest in her mother’s home…when she and her sisters were children, as was I, and her parents were so kind to me…and made me feel so welcome!
I worked around our church…with her dad. He was even tempered and considerate…even as a teenager…and I, reflected on what an example of christianity that he was.
I can think of two times that I have spoken with Herb and Barbie…over the past many years. On both occasions they seemed so glad to see me, and on the second time, Mary Jane, as well. The term, ‘salt of the earth,’ was written for them!
I left speaking with them…uplifted and encouraged and grateful for such good…old friends!
Mary Jane and I…grieved last evening…and we are saddened for the, unthinkable loss, that our friends are undergoing.
I think of Manda…and I never met her…but she meant something to me…and I am sorry…
Mary Jane and I will be married 41 years next month!
Time has not only flown by…it seems like it has been just a few days!
We began married life by living in her house trailer…and, in a few months, moved up…to a garage that had been converted into an apartment.
Later, we purchased the house, that the garage/apartment went to…and lived there for 22 years.
Our house had four rooms…and we raised two sons there…and we were a close family!
In 1978, when we married, I was earning $70 per week. I was driving a 1963 Ford Fairlane…with a, sizable hole, in the floor on the passenger side!
I was hired by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale on October 10, 1978. My starting pay was $5.54 per hour…and we thought that we were rich!
I was 43 years old when we moved to Carbondale…to what we still refer to as the new house.
I, often, wonder what couples are looking for or expecting when they marry? Are they searching for someone who is different from them and a unique human being…or are they searching for someone to …clone?
I remember installing wood paneling in our little home, in 1981, when Mary Jane was pregnant with our first son, Aaron.
Now, allow me to explain…I have never been a carpenter…and when I endeavor to do carpentry….or plumbing….or drywall work…or…I tend to utter colorful language…in extreme!
It was Halloween night…and as I struggled to saw and then nail up the, patterned, wood paneling, which was all the rage in 1978, Mary Jane, quietly and patiently climbed over the paneling and saw horses and answered our door to distribute candy to the holiday revelers!
Two…very different personalities…working together…for a common goal!
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch today at a locally owned restaurant, Keepers Quarters, and an adult beverage…and I reflected on what a wonderful and diverse and, many times, challenging….life that we have shared!
We often are talking with each other and agreeing, vigorously, and later discover…that we were agreeing on two different subjects…
Life is work…and married life is having a partner to work on the project with you!
Life brings us, all, reversals and friendships that go astray and work relationships…that evaporate…and illness…but not loneliness…because you have a life partner that gives a damn about you!
Women…do not look for the charming prince…look for the man that is always there to listen to your thoughts and hopes and fears and challenges!
Men…look for the woman that will stand by your side…when you do not deserve it…and who will help you and enjoy living with you…when you do not enjoy living with your self!
Women…seek a man that is not trying to be the, star, of all women’s heart’s, but the, star, of yours!
It boils down to the simple truth that a successful relationship is based on, mutual, trust and being with someone who is not living, primarily, in their head…but is living, often, for their partner.
Please enjoy a great Blog from Jonathon Brooks.
Love is the strongest force I’ve ever encountered. I’ve been studying the Holy Bible for over seventeen years. There’s a lot of passages about love in those 66 books and 2,000 pages. It is the love of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost that has carried me this far and made my life beautiful.
Fear is a strong force. Sin also has great strength. Hatred has its powers too. The person I have hated the most and loved the most in my lifetime is the same person. Christ Jesus was and is and will always be His name.
I used to hear the Christian idea of love isn’t based on emotion. This idea used to be foolishness to my ears. When I was playing the part of the fool I had no time or interest in true love. When I grew in wisdom and love and faith it dawned upon…
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‘They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there right on the job’
‘They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?’
‘Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?’
Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?’
‘Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell
Full of the yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell
And I was the kid with the drum’
Oh, say don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal
Buddy, can you spare a dime?’ Songwriters; E. Y. Harburg/ Jay Gorney
‘A record 7 million Americans are 3 months behind on their car payments, a red flag for the economy.’ Washington Post
Although many economic indicators are pointing to a booming economy…there are millions of, hard working, Americans…that are having great difficulty in making a living!
Many, middle class, families are discovering, to their chagrin, that they are receiving little to no tax refunds this season…when they customarily relied on those refunds.
Could it be that the tax cut, which primarily benefited the rich, was funded on the backs of the middle class?
‘Credit card debt hits record high….The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according to Experian’s annual study of credit and debt in America. Total credit card debt has reached its highest point ever, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to a separate report by the Federal Reserve.’ CNBC.com
The United States national debt has reached 22 trillion dollars. This is up 3 trillion in the past two years.
The last tax cut added 1 trillion dollars to the national debt!
‘According to Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.’
Those economic prognosticators and experts that contend that our economy has recovered and all is well…do not see the suffering people that I see on a daily basis!
In all of our, little Southern Illinois, communities we have either food kitchens of food pantry’s…and the people that are in line for some food…are, often, not homeless…but rather people that have jobs.
All too often…the poor of the land are invisible to our political leaders.
I, vividly, recall when former president Reagan, who I voted for, said that he knew that there were people who were making as little as 30 thousand dollars per year and trying to survive….when at the time of his, demonstrated understanding of the poor, I was making well under 30K!
Many of our grade schools and high schools provide both breakfast and lunch to their students…and have food programs for the summer recess…as these are the only meals that many of the students receive.
Often students do not eat a meal from the close of school on Friday until Monday morning.
‘As of 2007, the richest 1% held about 38% of all privately held wealth in the United States, while the bottom 90% held 73.2% of all debt. According to the New York Times, the richest 1% now own more wealth than the bottom 90%.’ Wealth inequality in the United States
I began life, solidly, in the middle class. We had a beautiful home in the Chicago suburb of Sauk Village and the environment was much like the, ‘Leave It To Beaver, television show.
Suddenly, my mom and dad began having martial problems and we moved to Southern Illinois…to Eldorado…the city of gold!
Soon, mom and dad…divorced…and mom and I were destitute! I saved my pennies…until I could garner a dime…to purchase a glass of milk and a local restaurant…as all we could afford was powdered milk.
A family change or an employment reversal or a bought of bad health…can devastate your economic reality!
If I see someone who gives a damn about the working poor or the middle class or the homeless…they will receive my vote in 2020!
I have considered that many of the, super, rich have gotten to their lofty perch on the backs of their hard working staff…and that usury…has not gone out of fashion!
‘In 1966 Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech that included an instance: There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.’ (The author of the quote is unknown.)
Certainly, whether a curse or a blessing, we do live in interesting times!
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ Charles Dickens
I was watching a film, the other night, regrading the excesses of our current age. It explored the lives of some, extremely rich, individuals as well as others who desired to be rich…and their excesses and the subsequent unhappiness that the spoils of money brought them!
The movie is entitled, ‘Generation Wealth’, where, ‘Lauren Greenfield examines materialism, celebrity culture, and social status and reflects on the desire to be wealthy at any cost.’ Generation Wealth
The film was a fascinating study in people pursuing what capitalism and modern society has identified as success. It included a mother dressing up her, very young, daughter, to appear as a mature woman and to promote her performance as a person, well beyond her years, for the purpose of obtaining prize money and awards.
‘Generation Wealth,’ highlighted the excesses of a culture in decline. This included people who obtained money having an obsession with sex, with massive houses or mansions and high dollar clothing and automobiles.
All of the covered people in the documentary; insisted that when they obtained the nirvana, of money and what it brings…they felt empty and unhappy.
A German, millionaire, stated that the rewards of money was…’air’…and that it all evaporated!
We have made the mistake of equating money and riches and real estate holdings and the bling and the accoutrements that accompany it…as a sign of wisdom and knowledge and success…and someone to be a mentor to the rest of us!
There is nothing wrong with money. We all require money to survive in this world!
There is something, desperately, wrong with equating the rewards of capitalism with the, marker, of success that we should all strive for…or for the sign that God is blessing the rich…and the poor and homeless are doing something wrong!
In Ms. Greenfield’s film, one of, the actor, Charlie Sheens, girlfriends is highlighted and her struggles examined. She spoke of the, hollowness, of pornography and appearing nude, and her return to her, minimum wage job in a tanning salon…and her happiness in returning to herself!
When society points to the rich and says…be like them…we have a prescription for disaster!
When society points to actors and actresses and says…be like them….we are setting up our young people for disappointment!
When we laud sports stars as the example of, ‘making it,’ we have forgotten our; teachers and our policemen and our authors and our poets and our nurses and our firefighters…
When we tell our, christian, congregants that if they serve Christ…according to our directives… that they will become rich…what does the, lack of the development of those promised riches…bring?
Was Christ…or Mohammed or Buddah…or Moses…obsessed with money?
And, so, we have one life to live as responsible and enjoyably as our opportunities and belief system, allows us to do.
Life presents, each of us, tremendous opportunities and terrific challenges!
It is up to each of us to decide what makes us fulfilled and what makes us happy?
It is not what someone tells you…it is what is in your heart!
I watched Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, announcing her candidacy for the presidency of the United States…and she looked happy…in a snowstorm!
As the snow covered her hair and the hair of the large, hearty and resolute, audience that were listening to her, I felt inspired!
Indeed, the inclement weather was not controlling the happiness level of the candidate or the crowd!
It has been raining, off and on here, for months…but I am happy!
Happiness comes from within!
Often, when my ideas were unaccepted in the workplace or my fight for those who had no voice seemed doomed to failure…I was happy…that I had stood firm in my convictions.
One of he greatest chancellors of SIUC was, unjustly, terminated, and I was threatened and cajoled and marginalized…and I was happy…because I stood up for her and…against the wrong that had been wrought by the president of the university and the Board of Trustees!
I believe that every human being on this Earth is important…and that they can not be segregated by their color or their religion or their ethnicity or their countries location…and I am happy!
I love Southern Illinois…and I love the people of Southern Illinois…and I love them when they disagree with me…and I am happy!
I learned, many years ago, to keep my own counsel…and to, ‘thine own-self be true’, and I discovered not to seek the praise of others…but the peace of a satisfied mind…and I am happy!
Happiness is not a geographical location but a nirvana of the soul!
Happiness is a truce or a pact with your surroundings.
‘God give me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change,
The courage to change the things that I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.’ Reinhold Nebuhr
Happiness is not family approval.
Happiness is not being a part of the club…or the group…or the social clique in school….or the faith assembly…or the accepted normal…of society!
Happiness is being real!
Happiness is being true to what you believe!
Happiness is being true to yourself!
Happiness is being genuine!
All to often we seek the approval or praise of others, who may not believe the truths that we believe and who may not come from our life experiences!
This is an exercise in futility!
It has been said that I would rather be a live dog than a dead lion…but…how about being a live lion…that sings your own song and speaks your own truth…and is true to the unique person that you are?