Category Archives: Popular Culture

The Details Matter

What advances a society? Seriously, can you answer that question? I believe many people will answer those questions with answers that are more subjective rather than objective. Furthermore there a lot of people, who curiously refer to themselves as liberal or progressive, who want anyone with a different opinion to sit down, be quiet, or in some expressed extremist view point, simply die.

I’ve watched a few videos lately from Dave Rubin. A man that describes himself as liberal, homosexual (gay if you prefer), but feeling left behind in the rapidly changing quick sand of social values. He deliberately invites guests on his podcasts who he knows are outspoken and often not normally someone from the left would share many opinions.

Rather than trying to bring his guests on, give them a few minutes to answer loaded questions, then spend most of the time talking over them with language implying his own moral superiority, he gives them a platform, asks them to clarify what they think about current topics, and never spends wasted moments bashing their ideas. In fact, he does what I think are some of the primary keys to advancing a society; respect the other person, listen to their ideas, learn more about the topic, and enhance what you think you might know. His fresh approach isn’t about proving who’s the smartest person in the room, and never shouting the other person down.

What I’ve witnessed through social media is mostly unproductive, and at times, worse than if the medium never existed. Choosing to interact, but demanding yours is the only way to think, is a form of narcissism.

Loneliness expressed by conservative students on college campuses.

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Transfer of Symbols of Power

Today marks another passing of the torch in the United States. The 45th president, for the 58th time, the inauguration of a President takes place. It’s a great day for fanfare and celebration, but not for some. To many people, they aren’t happy about this new President. They openly hope the man falls flat on his face. A desire that would be the furthest from their mind if only their person of choice was elected.

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President Donald J. Trump Inauguration 2017

The concern each of us as citizens should have is how much we can do to be of benefit to each other, not how badly we can make things, because our person or party didn’t win. The future requires more cooperation, more finding solutions, and less ways to blame the other person or party.

vp_president_outgoingNo matter what your perspective has been on the Obama Presidency, it should be obvious that he left in a better standing than either George Bush or William Clinton. A high approval rating isn’t  a rubber stamp, but it suggests there was enough political influence to negotiate and make things happen. This isn’t where Donald Trump starts. His approval ratings are significantly lower, even though he’s just been installed.

The Republican party is in a strong position to get things done. It holds majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and now the Executive branch. None the less, the Democrats have an opportunity to take the high ground and find ways to work with the Republicans.

Here’s the biggest challenge to make the transfer of power meaningful and beneficial, can we as a people find ways to minimize our differences and work together? I look at a large number of prominent individuals, and there’s certainly a mix of feelings. For some of them, it almost reads like rebels looking for a cause to show how much they matter.

What really should matter, is the alarming way we’ve ignored the 800 pound gorilla. That’s the national debt. There’s been a lot of talk about it, but reversing it, will be painful, no one wants to give up some of that public largess in order to fix this monster.

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We may not be bankrupt yet, but this reality is looming larger than ever. If this debt level isn’t reduced, all of the other priorities we think are important will seem pointless.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 124,248,000 people in the United States with full-time jobs in December. The total federal debt of $19,961,467,137,973 equals approximately $160,658 for each one of those workers.

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President Trump takes office 2017

We’re going to see things change, and I expect there will be a lot of people upset if it affects their special interest, project or cause. I’ve read quite a number of things which distort the positions Trump has officially advocated.

Today’s inaugural speech identified his focus was less on institutional authority and more on the needs of the people. Of course promises from a podium mean very little. We will have to see if they become part of the executive push and legislative authorization.

 

Morals – Secular – Judeo-Christian

This is a response to the ideas proposed by some about their concerns of America becoming a secular nation rather than a Christian nation.

Dennis Prager frequently talks about how secular humanism is destroying the fabric of society. Let’s examine this claim, not only from his point but that of other independent thinkers.

I have to assume when people like Prager refer to Judeo-Christian values, he’s using the Bible as a reference. Using Deuteronomy 17, we find people should be stoned if they didn’t believe in their god. For many centuries, national religions had to be adhered to or people could be put to death for their failure to not only swear allegiance to the King or Queen, they had to believe in the official state religion. This is why you see secular influence in the Constitution, the founders of the United States wanted to ensure that people wouldn’t have to be swearing allegiance to a state religion. As a matter of fact, they’re isn’t a test of citizenship or holding the highest office, only if you believe in the supernatural. This in spite of the tradition of swearing-in by holding a hand on the Bible. We are after all, a nation of many contradictions.

You could suggest, this is old news, Christians don’t kill anymore because of the ideals in the new Testament, about loving your brother & sister, and to treat others as you want to be treated. Even this isn’t a new concept or one uniquely held by Christianity.

Cart – meet horse.

“One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.” – Hitopadesa; Hinduism: 3200 BCE
“Thou shalt not avenge nor ear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Leviticus 19:18: 1300 BCE

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ took obedience and the threat of a horrible after life for failure to comply one step further by introducing the idea of thinking about banned ideas. If you think about committing a sin, you have broken the law. From the sermon on the mount ~
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

If, as some insist, we take the Bible literally, if you even think lustful thoughts, you’re going to be in trouble and your only get out of jail free card is issued by the person telling you that your eye isn’t all that important, so get rid of it if you see something which makes you think of sex with anyone other than your spouse. That assumes you’re married, and if you aren’t, even the man or woman you might marry could be an object of sin.

I served in the Marine Corps for six years, and at that time was a believing Christian. I thought I was a moral person, but I was being trained to kill other people. The Marines first train everyone identically as infantry. Later, they’re assigned an occupational specialty which usually defines their military career. In my case, I was given the opportunity to go on to electronics schools and thereby was never placed into a kill or be killed situation. Many of my peers weren’t given that choice, they went to Vietnam. We didn’t leave that theater of operations for two years after I enlisted. So what about those who had to take the life of another person? They were told that it was for god and country, but was it really? We killed a lot of people, including our own for a cause our secular (supposedly Christian) government told us it was the right thing to do. Historically, that would be a very tough call, as the country ended up being led by corrupt leadership and becoming communist with Pol Pot taking over Cambodia. This isn’t a dilemma you consider when you’re placed into a life threatening situation, because most of the time you’re going to decide you must kill the other person to preserve your life. How does that fit in with, “Thou shall not kill”, or turn the other cheek when injured by someone?

We constantly see examples of people and their life, their homes, and their values being threatened by a powerful group that uses the authority of law to take away their possessions and their land. How is that justified if we base our laws on Judeo-Christian values? Contradictions in the Bible?

Moral problems have constantly challenged our humanity. Slavery was justified for hundreds of years by Christians, even though Prager said that Christians ended it. We’ve witnessed changes in attitudes toward various ethnicity, black people couldn’t hold leadership roles in the Mormon church until the late 1970’s. A former Mormon prophet once declared that even having one drop of African blood, a person couldn’t hold a leadership role or be married in their temples. This in spite of the fact that one of their past Biblical heroes, Joseph (Coat of many colors), was married to a woman who was black. Asenath was an Egyptian, who some deny her African heritage, stating that Egyptians have various skin tones. That’s a ridiculous stretch in logic to say, she might have had lighter skin, therefore she was Caucasian. Skin tone isn’t a test of African heritage. DNA would certainly be a more accurate marker. The truth is, we may never know for sure, but it’s fairly safe to conclude there were many LDS people who had African heritage but passed for Caucasian and therefore held office in their church prior to 1978.

There are many who insist the Bible tells them homosexuality is a sin, and for some they believe you can pray away the gay. If that’s the case, how do you do that, because I know most of us didn’t make a conscious decision to be heterosexual. There’s a lot more to this than someone going through puberty and becomes straight or gay. Leviticus 20:13 – Romans 1:27 Are we supposed to kill homosexuals. Again the Christian response doesn’t seem to be the higher moral ground, unlike the secular “non-believer” response of kindness and equality. This has changed over the years by many religious organizations, seemingly because of secular influence.

There are many religious organizations who believe having a pair of testicles, gives you greater insight into the workings of god. They insist that anyone who could give birth to another human, isn’t insightful and compassionate enough to be a priest, or in some churches, can’t make public pronouncements officially for their organization. Many churches have changed that view and now have female clergy. Did god tell them that was a good idea, or was it a secular nudge to do what is right?

When it comes to some of the most major criminal activities, we’ve seen Christians adopt changing standards, like murder, rape, or theft. It all depends on the reasons given by the one doing the crime? Justification for these activities have repeatedly been authorized in the Bible. Even the concept of original sin by Adam and Eve seems a bit over the top. Am I to be held responsible for my fathers sins? The LDS church said we were to be held responsible for our own sin and not Adams transgressions but then again, isn’t death itself supposed to be part of the original sin and the introduction of baptism a ritual to signify the person being born again into a new life free of these past problems? Even the death of Jesus Christ and the Garden of Gethsemane was supposed to be an act of getting rid of the past and allowing all who believe this to be factual, were going to be given a ticket into the kingdom of god.

Even the idea proposed by Prager is incorrect. The label “Judeo-Christian” tends to assume, at the expense of Judaism, that Christians and Jews believe essentially the same things. They don’t, and you can find numerous explanations for that if you wish to research it. Secular moral values don’t favor one tribe of civilization over another, unlike what we saw in the Bible or later proposed through doctrines of “manifest destiny in the US”. Just because one tribe of people supposedly has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else. That’s a secular concept, too.