Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Red Jesus Freaks are Green With Envy (updated)

Some of my detractors believe that I do a disservice to religion by reducing it to a “left-right” issue. Why, just yesterday a particularly laughty soul expressed the resentiment that “Methinks it's time for the cobbler to drop the blog, as once promised, and work on his own shoes. Practice what you preach, seeker. Stop preaching and start looking again. You're as lost as any of the rest of us, and a crowd of the similarly-bent lost gathered at your feet doesn't suddenly render you all found. It just increases the power of the mirror to delude. Ego will lead you to rancor, not peace. This whole blog is a testimony to the truth of that idea. God promises everlasting peace, everlasting joy.”

In other words, I am just as lost as this commenter or anyone else, a hypocritical, deluded, rancorous, joyless, and ego-driven preacher with unfashionable homemade footwear. But I somehow manage to obscure this fact by basking in the reflected glow of my half dozen regular commenters who are as bent and twisted as I am.

Could be. Except I would definitely take issue with the “joyless” characterization. I really do enjoy doing this, even before my adoring bobbleheaded clones lavish me with praise and give a boost to my flagging self-esteem.

In all seriousness, as I have had occasion to mention a jumble of tomes, I am not so much concerned with left vs. right as I am with up vs. down, i.e., the vertical. Any secondary political principles I espouse or embrace follow from my first principles, which are timeless, metaphysical, and I believe objectively true. If you want to attack me--which, of course, you are free to do--you cannot begin with my “conservatism” but with the principles from which my conservatism flows, for example, my belief in the absolute spiritual value of liberty over equality.

To the extent that I am a “Republican,” it is only insofar as the Republican party is subject to some small influence from the conservative intellectual movement. To the extent that I am part of that latter movement, it is only because I believe it best embodies the ideals of classical liberalism espoused by the American founders. And to the extent that I regard the American founders as political avatars charged with a divine mission, it is only because I believe they designed a system that is most compatible with the spiritual evolution that is my true concern. Everything actually starts with that: my politics follows from my metaphysics.

Along these lines, there is an interesting piece on frontpage.com on the new phenomenon of “Red Letter Christians”:

“Frustrated by the conservative tendencies of most religiously active Americans, a group of liberal religious activists have started ‘Red Letter Christians’ to espouse political themes of the left.

“Referring, of course, to the fact that words of Jesus in Bibles are often printed in red letters, these new ‘red-letter’ communicators and activists want to steer Christians away from concerns about marriage and abortion and towards antiwar activism and environmental causes.”

One of their founders describes the movement as follows: "We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are brokenhearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation."

These Red Letter Christians clearly work in the opposite direction I do. They begin with their first principles of boilerplate leftism, and then seek to find confirmation for them in the literal words of Jesus, stripped of tradition, orthodoxy, context, symbolism, and spiritual gnosis. In so doing, they reduce the Word of God to the word of Marx, and with that, the vertical to the horizontal, thus defeating the very purpose of religion.

These self-deluded souls insist that they are neither left nor right, but simply following from a literal reading of the words of Jesus (talk about fundamentalism!). For example--who would have guessed--they conclude that God is against tax cuts and against the liberation of Iraq, but in favor of expanding the food stamp program, increasing the minimum wage, keeping all murderers alive, and "loving our enemies," meaning that we must surrender the war on global jihad. Oh, and Jesus also supports renewable energy and the redefinition of marriage.

In short, Jesus was not the word made flesh or the third person of the trinity--show me the red letters where he said any such things--but a 21st century moonbat.

This little exercise proves once again the axiom that the left is animated by feelings, not by thought. Every decent person wishes to help the poor, but these boneheads do not understand that we disagree precisely on the means of accomplishing that. In their minds, they literally believe that a liberal simply wants to help the poor, whereas a conservative wants to harm them. It never occurs to them that a conservative wishes to help the poor every bit as much as they do, but believes that liberal programs, in most cases, demonstrably do more harm than good. I am convinced that nothing in history has helped more people rise above poverty than the discovery of the principles of how wealth is created. Detracting from these principles only ends with less for everyone, especially the poor, as socialism proves time and again.

For example, the billions of dollars that have been given to Africa have overwhelmingly served the purpose of funding corrupt regimes, which only further postpones the day that the nations of Africa will have to address the true source of their poverty, which is in the realm of bad values--i.e., weak property rights, corruption, magical, animistic spiritual beliefs, rampant sexism, and paranoia fueled by unregulated envy. The application of neo-Marxist ideas has only made all of these things worse, not better.

As Dennis Prager noted yesterday, the Biblical injunction to feed the hungry and clothe the poor did not in any way envision the people we now call “poor” in the United States. For one thing, most of these people would be called “middle class” by the standards of Europe, “wealthy” by the standards of Africa, and “royalty” by the standards of the authors of the Bible. I can assure you that they were not thinking of the average “poor” American, who has a house of his own, a car, a cell phone, cable TV, air conditioning, and many expensive tattoos. Nor does he have to cobble his own Nikes, as I do.

Amazingly, some 48% of Americans feel--and the operative word here is feel--that they are worse off than their parents were, which is demonstrably untrue. I mean, it’s just flat out wrong. But it does show you how liberals “think,” because, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, most of our problems are existential, not a result of this or that circumstance. But because circumstances on earth always more or less suck--to be perfectly accurate, the glass is, and always will be, exactly half full, and therefore half empty--the world becomes a convenient field into which we may project problems that are properly internal, spiritual, psychological, and existential. And this is the perennial appeal of the revolutionary left: your problems are magically shifted outside yourself, even though it necessarily means that their solution never comes.

This externalization is a spiritually disastrous act, for the moment you judge your fortunes by comparing yourself to others, you have opened the door to envy, which is infinite and insatiable. You will always be miserable, because you will always--always--find someone who is better off than you are.

Because we have it so good in this country, the new meme of the left is that the gap is too wide between the wealthy and the rest of us. Personally, I do not compare myself to CEOs, to actors or to rock stars. Rather, I compare myself to my needs, which are quite modest, and to my desires, which are quite limited. Measured in this way, I am aware of existential--not monetary--wealth on a moment by moment basis.

I look at things like my diabetes, which is so much easier to control today than it was for my mother just a generation ago. God bless the profit motive and the greedy pharamceutical companies for that. I look at mundanely miraculous things like a DVD player through which I have instant access to the greatest films of all time, in a way that only the wealthiest person could have dreamt of when I was in film school in the early 80s. I remember a girlfriend I had at the time--it must have been around 1978. Her family was rather well to do, and owned one of the first Betamax video recorders. It was a huge, bulky thing, incredibly expensive, certainly beyond my means. And although my parents could have “afforded” one, I cannot imagine them ever splurging on something so impractical.

But what poor person today--just a quarter century later--would ever settle for a bulky old video recorder? Blue state red letter Jesus would positively freak out at the unfairness of it.

Likewise, a cheap home computer gives one access to a world undreamt of a decade or two ago, at least by me. I am very slow to catch up with technology, so I am acutely aware of how the internet has utterly changed my life. Because of it, I am living a life I couldn’t have lived before; I am sitting here right now taking advantage of a technology that allows me to actualize a part of myself and to bask in the narcissistic glow of my fawning readers who gather at my feet with those ugly homemade shoes on them. The joy of creation and communication is so intense that I am astounded by it every day.

That is my idea of progress. The very idea of reverting to a time when one’s view of the world was limited by the horizons of the spiritual and intellectual pygmies of the New York Times or L.A. Times is absolutely appalling to me. To return to those days would literally feel like being imprisoned in a psycho-spiritual gulag without light or heat. It would be like being forced to read Pravda or watch CNN, with no alternatives and no way to locate, much less instantly connect with, Our Kind of bent and rancorous seekers.

Life is such an amazing gift when you have a little gratitude instead of a grrr attitude.

It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. --Matthew 13:11-13

ODDENDUM:

One more thing. While reflecting back on those old film school days, I remember that at my lowdown-downdest (as Francis Albert would put it), I lived for awhile in a small, unfurnished single apartment near Cal State Northridge, which is the Harvard of the North San Fernando Valley. I had a bed, a good stereo, an outstanding record collection, an ice box full of beer (no refrigerator), and no TV. Plus I drove a 1973 Ford Pinto Wagon. I was happily toiling away as a retail clerk (never full time, mind you, which would have interfered with my sacred Slack), which I did from 1976-1988, the same year that I completed my Ph.D.

In any event, at no point did it ever cross my mind that I was "poor" or that Red Jesus would have taken pity on me for the rude circumstances of my otherwise happy and inebriated existence. Referring back to that girlfriend with the wealthy stepfather, it never occurred to me to envy him. For one thing, I knew that he might have all the money, but that I was having all the fun. Still am.

62 Comments:

Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

A wonderful point, Bob---life is made much, much better if one feels gratitude for it.

As for the right/left divide, I think dicussing it is unavoidable, since it's become the spiritual issue of our time. At this moment, divisions between right and left are tearing apart the mainstream Protestant churches (especially the Episcopal church), creating problems for the Catholics, and even beginning to divide Evangelicals. So, yes, it's something that needs to be talked about.

Please, keep up the good work. It is obvious from the comments of many of the trolls here that they don't just disagree with you---which would be fine---they want to shut you up, because they don't like your ideas, which isn't so fine. It's the old freedom of speech for me, but not for thee routine.

As for the poor in America today. . .in any other culture, at any other time, people who could spend a large part of their time sitting around becoming overweight, performing no constructive work and producing "heirs" who will enable them to continue getting money from the state wouldn't have been called poor----they'd have been called aristocrats!

10/19/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

Funny you should end your essay with that line about appreciativeness....I just wrote that to a (liberal) friend of mine the other day. He's a total nihilist, but I can't understand why! He lives like a prince, has a lovely wife (no kids), his mother talks to him, and they're relatively close. Yet, he's a raving liberal, and not just a little liberal, a lunatic. He hates himself, his country, his society, and pretty much everything. I pointed out in that email how much better he has it than I ever did, but that I appreciate what I have, and why couldn't he?

I never got an answer to that email.

10/19/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger R. Sherman said...

Re: Red Letter Christians.

A zillion years ago, I was a seventh grader in a moderate Baptist Church, where Tony Campolo visited for our Youth Weekend. For reasons I don't remember, the youth group went to the local Art Museum and I wound up in group with him and actually had a nice conversation with him. He mentioned me in his Sunday sermon.

Since then, I've followed his career and his rise through the ranks as it were. To be blunt, I don't understand his progress or regress, if you will.

I've been a member of some very conservative denominations and congregations in my time, and not once have I ever been enjoined to vote for a person or party, nor have I heard any fatwas against gay people, abortionists, Democrats or whomever. Certainly social issues are discussed, i.e. life issues, marital issues, the poor, etc and positions have been explained and defended.

The real difference(s) are many, but I'll mention two. One is the idea of a personal obligation to behave in a certain manner. The admonition was to feed the poor. That is directed to me, not some collective. It's easy to comply if all I have to do is vote to raise someone else's taxes.

The second difference is the absolute unwillingness to admit the fallen nature of Man. To identify behaviors as "Sin" is very uncool, because it makes people feel bad about themselves, and we can't have that, because "God is a God of Love, man." And so, concern for a person becomes equated with acceptance of behaviors which do not reduce the separation we all have from God. Or, worst case, the concept of "Sin" is redefined willy-nilly in typical nihilistic fashion to suit the whims of whatever group happens to be screaming at the moment.

In truth, that's the biggest difference. "Conservative" Christians make the distinction between the actor and act. The Red Letter variety either cannot or will not.

Cheers.

10/19/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

I hope at least GagMom and GagBoy get store-boughten things. Ugly homemade shoes? I always thought of you as almost dapper, even in generic t-shirts. Ah, well, illusions were born to die...

Here are a couple of relevant discussions:

Will Wilkinson on the avoidability of envy [which he calls "zero-sum positional conflict" -- it'll never replace the KJV tenth commandment.] The triumph of liberty + individual excellence makes its own kind of equal status available to any and all.

Who knew?

And a review of Alfred W. Crosby's The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600, a recent book on how generative (practical and spiritual) the Western mindset as favoring reality, derived from the fertile culture of the Italian city-states and spread by the Anglosphere.

Put 'em together and whaddaya get:

Proliferative plenty without envy is about as good as it gets. Gratitude is all.

And I know plenty of real Christians, just plodding petit bourgeois church-going observant ones, who would give half of their resources to actually cure those lepers and swollen-bellied babies.

To make liberals and NGO's feel powerful and actually make matters worse? Different calculus.

The microcredit Nobel-winner is encouraging news.

10/19/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous bent, twisted Will said...

Ah well, as somebody of note once said, "The poor will always be with you" - from which we can gather, I think, the fact that inequities are a natural feature of the fallen earth, and that attempts to "perfect" the fallen earth by the ways and means of the fallen earth are doomed to failure.

It seems some form of Liberation Theology will always be with us, as well, at least until the Parousia arrives on a chariot. Liberation Theo strikes me as phone-in spirituality - it satisfies the emotions, makes one feel better about one's self, makes one feel one is "taking part", but of course, no real effort is extended re: overcoming one's own spiritual failures. No risk, no danger, no alienation, no forging of spiritual integrity and courage. And no Light generated, manifested.

10/19/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

duchess of austin

duchess, I'm afraid you'll never get an answer, but I'm glad you, yourself are filled with gratitude.

I believe extreme leftist-Marxist thinking has more to do with something lacking in those who believe it, rather than any societal injustice; yes, injustices exist, but they don't seem to be the real reason behind the Left's seething anger, and contempt for everything.

I think it has its basis in an unhappy personal life or, where the person is outwardly happy, like your friend, something missing from an individual: gratitude, compassion, contentment, whatever. One of the worst things the Left ever did was convince the masses that "The Personal is Political!" I'm afraid too many people are projecting their own flaws and unhappiness onto the world around them, and thinking "It's society's fault!" (as Bob himself pointed out).

10/19/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Karl Vincent said...

In this, the election season, your message is so very on point! It has a touch of the "Rush echo syndrome". I'm a ditto-head, are you? If not, you should be!
Karl

10/19/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny you would say that Karl. Since I've been tuning in to Bob, I have come to believe that he is where Rush, Savage, etc. go to get their idea downloads. The echo is there, not here. A ditto-head -- I doubt it. Although I used to appreciate it when Rush played Firesign Theatre's "Beat the Reaper".

Beautiful truths spoken today -- thanks Bob.

NoMo

10/19/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post

10/19/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Just to build on Bob's great points - how come those in the left, while complaining about poverty, also say we have too much choice and that is the reason for our unhappiness.

It seems that whatever the situation is, it is bad. Ingratitude rules the day.

10/19/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

O Swami Bobba Rum Raisin,
From the region near your unfashionable homemade footwear, this mind-numbed robot would like to say Thanks! for another great post.

10/19/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you. You may rise and back away slowly. Just don't make eye contact.

10/19/2006 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They begin with their first principles of boilerplate leftism, and then seek to find confirmation for them in the literal words of Jesus, stripped of tradition, orthodoxy, context, symbolism, and spiritual gnosis.

Because "Men of Sin" (what you refer to as "horizontal man") grabs onto anything recognized as a cosmic authority -- Bible, Koran, Marx, Darwin, Freud, Nature, you name it -- to give cosmic-level justification to whatever they were going to do anyway.

In so doing, they reduce the Word of God to the word of Marx, and with that, the vertical to the horizontal, thus defeating the very purpose of religion.

Remember "Liberation Theology" circa 1980? Where the Holy Trinity was Marx, Lenin, and Castro and Reagan was either the Devil or the Antichrist?

10/19/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think of Islam's two definitions of jihad: overcoming one's inner demons of doubt and overcoming the outer demons of faithlessness.

Somehow, they must learn to focus on the inner struggle and not the outer one, as other faiths have, or they will never ditch the bloodlust.

10/19/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Bob,
I have waited a long time for a posting by you about this leftist Christianity that has been infesting our Christian colleges and churches for some time. I guess they think that because they wear the Christian label, they are above any critisism, the same way that the radical muslims think that they are.

I had the misfortune of sitting under Dr. Campolo for two Socialismology classes, and reading texts by Ron Sider, as well as listening to Dr. Sider speak at a chapel. I have also read many of Jim Wallis's articles in his Sojourners rag. At my 20th reunion at the Christian College that I refer to (which shall remain unnamed), I saw that Wallis was due to speak at a chapel next week. I was never so glad to be a grauate rather than a student.

Actually, being a new Christian and a twenty-something at the time of my matriculation, I fell for the leftie spiel hook, line and sinker, since I was made to feel that this was proper Christianity and that I was not a real Christian if I didn't think this way (talk about fundamentalism)! It has only been real life experience and a long, hard road of self-examination and spiritual seeking (as well as watching the Twin Towers fall) that has cured me of that disease I contracted in college.

If any readers wonder why I mention Wallis so many times in my comments, this posting provides the reason. I regard his theology as a cancer on Christianity, far worse than Falwell's moralism. It serves to drag Christianity from being a truly vertical seeking of the heart and mind of God and His Son Jesus, made possible by the restoration of the divine relationship brought about by the Crucifixion, down to a set of Neo-Marxist dogmas. The Divine has truly been pulled down to not just the horizontal, but underground. The soiling of Christianity's pure pursuit of God is so complete that it is not recognizable as a true faith. Wallis's Liberation Theology is to me the worst kind of heresy. To see my faith defecated on by Moral Relativism and Postmodernism in this manner makes me seethe; it's like topping ice cream with pureed carrion.

10/19/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

They believe that Socialism is good and Capitalism is evil, so if Jesus is good he must be a socialist. Just the "Liberation Theology" of a generation ago in a new suit.

10/19/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Shoprat,
per hoarhey's comment on the last post, I think that pic is cool, too. All of us balding, middle age crazies need to stick up for each other. Very gutsy to put your pic up on a public forum - I must admit I lack that fortitude.

10/19/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous feenlemind said...

My head is bobbling away in mindnumbed agreement as I grovel at your feet. BTW could you change out your odor eaters? Gratitude for life is a good point. Does anyone think about how lucky they are to even be here? On our paternal side it was one sperm cell out of millions that made us who we are. Isn't that "winning the lottery" in itself? Don't let the lefties intimidate you. They just want you to shut up. Maybe we are all lost as the one lefty said, but isn't it better to talk about it and try to talk about it and try to figure out where we are going? I am now down on my knees, like in the old Popeye cartoons, holding my hands over my head and touching the ground 3 times, while chanting salami....salami....baloney... I shall now withdraw without making eye contact.

10/19/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous charlz said...

OK, lessee a pic of the home-made chooz. Mebbe ju could start a phad amongst the faithful.

10/19/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Feeblemind;
yes - I'd rather be lost in God than be found in the dismal dungeons of determinist dhimmitude.

Had not thought of that Popeye line in years - that deserves a real Ug-ug-ug-ug-ug-ug-ug-ug.

10/19/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous juliec said...

This article explains a phenomena I had wondered about for a while. Since I haven't gone to a church service in a decade or so, I hadn't understood how so many people I know could consider themselves faithful Christians while also being raging leftists. Many of the people I know in this category are also teachers, further reinforcing their leftism. It's amazing - in one breath they will speak of the beauty of sacred music, while in the next they will casually complain that all businesses in our town are selfish and stingy because the people recently voted against a new sales tax. They usually catch themselves before going too far, since not everyone's politics are known, but they assume that everyone in this particular group thinks as they do.

Thanks for yet another great post, Bob. I add little, but gain so very much from reading your blog and the comments that result from it each day.

10/19/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous bubba liebenfuesse said...

Uh, begging your pardon, but I may have made eye contact without knowing it an offense. I was wondering how you managed to get your laces through the many tiny eyes with such tattered (and mostly missing) aglets. Must take HOURS away from your family. You may not be able to afford storebought tennies, but, please, repair the aglets.

http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/agletrepair.htm

And, ahem, a second on the odor eaters.

10/19/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

...Sojourners flashback...

Back in the 70's or early 80's (so long ago) and disillusioned with orthodox Christianity after being kicked out of a Christian college (too inquisitive), I came across a little print ad for Sojourners magazine. Aha! I thought, at last, the truth! So I subscribed and eagerly awaited the first issue. When it came, I devoured it cover to cover but found it oddly unsatisfying. By the end of the third or fourth issue I stopped reading them altogether from sheer boredom and soon let the subscription lapse. It wasn't until many years later when I was violently shaken awake by God (his hounds never stopped pursuing me) that the same red and black letters in the same Good Book I had tossed aside finally came to life. It was the Big Aha, and suddenly I could grok what a few people praying for me were trying so hard to get me to understand. God quickly became very personal and alive, not just a principle or life-affirming concept.

Fortunately, the red-letter Christians don't have a monopoly on helping the poor, caretaking the environment, etc. We're out there too, the ones with the bifocals.

Bob, thanks for another great and pertinent post. And a call out to tsebring, fellow pilgrim.

10/19/2006 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This insolence about my very practical footwear is flirting with a visitation by Cousin Dupree.

10/19/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Jesus was the second person of the holy trinity, not the third?

10/19/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

"Red Letter Christians",what a joke. Bob Beckel, a liberal, who appears on Fox News like fly S*** is claiming to be a Born Again Christian! Just in time for the election I guess.
And just a comment about "Free Will".
I'm not so sure it's free as some like to proclaim. It seems that those who boast about it the most don't make the most of it. Not in a spiritual sense anyway.
So that's all I'm going to say about "Free Will" lest I start an argument! Unless someone wants to argue... comment? Go ahead.

10/19/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q: If our omniscient Creator already knows everything we will ever do or think, how can our will be free?

A: Simple - because we don't know.

NoMo

10/19/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

You, sir, what trade are you?

Second Commoner
Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but,
as you would say, a cobbler.

MARULLUS
But what trade art thou? answer me directly.

Second Commoner
A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe
conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.

MARULLUS
What trade, thou knave? thou naughty knave, what trade?

Second Commoner
Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet,
if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

MARULLUS
What meanest thou by that? mend me, thou saucy fellow!

Second Commoner
Why, sir, cobble you.

FLAVIUS
Thou art a cobbler, art thou?

Second Commoner
Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I
meddle with no tradesman's matters, nor women's
matters, but with awl. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon
to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I
recover them. As proper men as ever trod upon
neat's leather have gone upon my handiwork.


(Julius Caesar, act I, scene 1)

...and fine handiwork it is!

Good afternoon, gang. Thought I'd slide out of lurk n' learn mode for a bit.

on gratitude:

It was still dark when my wife came into the room, squeezed my foot, and whispered, "Coffee's ready." I got up, put on my pj's, poured a cup, and joined her in the den. She was curled up with a comforter on the futon, and Booger the Cat was waiting attentively on the arm of the sofa. I sat down, pulled the comforter over my lap, and Mary snuggled into my side. As soon as we settled in, the cat poured her self into position on my lap. Assured that everyone was exactly where they were supposed to be she took a deep breath,let out one of those kitty sighs and purred away. All's well in her little cat world.
All's not well in mine, however, but that's beside the point. Problems? Yeah, I got 'em- who doesn't?
But I had the peace of that hour, the love of my wife, and the affection of my dear ol' cat surrounding me. These are gifts of God. I fell into that odd sort of half dream, suspended above actual sleep by the slow introduction of blood into my caffeine system. The prayer starts on its own... Think about God... and it is good.
Life can be so very sweet.

JWM

10/19/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Oh- by the way:

"God promises everlasting peace and joy"?
(In this world?)

I've been reading the Bible quite a bit lately, but I seem to have missed that part. Where exactly would I find that passage?

JWM

10/19/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

A better description of what Wallis and his ilk have done to the Christian Faith:

Imagine obtaining a bottle of the finest, most exquisite and expensive wine in the world, opening the cork, and peeing in it.

10/19/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

I 'will' agree we don't know everything God knows about 'our will'.
Every good and perfect gift comes from God and surely has a purpose. Just suppose He gave us a 'will' to test us... a sort of perfecting... and we... perfect this 'will'... the closer we come to Him.
God calls us, we do not call Him.
His gift of a 'will' is not free as some would like to think, to do whatever they wish or want with.
For those who can produce a scripture at 'will' is there one for 'free will?" I 'will' do a search of my own. I have several books and bibles and 'will' see what I can find!

10/19/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

JWM,
you indeed would not find it anywhere. But you would find these:

"Though he slay me, yet I know that my redeemer lives..."

"You shall have trouble in this life..."

"Think not that I have come to bring peace, but a sword..."

"Do not be discouraged when you are afflicted by various trials..."

10/19/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Biker Lady:

On free will-

Here's a quote I found at yashanet.com (very interesting site!)

G-d wanted a being, a somebody, not a puppet. A creature that would decide, "This is how it should be done, using such-and-such and in such a way with such a feeling -- this is what my Creator wants from me." The score is handed to us, but the music comes from our own soul

JWM

10/19/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

anonymous,
Scripture is all about God's Will.
Now, in the 1500's Erasmus, the Humanist and Martin Luther discussed corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and what to do about it.
Erasmus wrote a book on "The Freedom of the Will" and right there Luther departed from Erasmus's reasoning, being Erasmus was a humanist. Luther, in response wrote, "The Bondage of the Will."
If you would like to know more... about these two and the subject of 'free will' and there is too much for me to relate it to you, to try and answer your response you might get this book.
The book is "Martin Luther, Selections from his writings edited and with an introduction", by John Dillenberger.
Paperback - Anchor Books, Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 61-9503. Copyright (c) 1961 by John Dillenberger.
You might have to go to a used book store to find it.

10/19/2006 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

To follow up on Bob's comments on the gifts of modern medicine-- I can remember when eyeglasses for people with my degree of myopia not only had thick lenses, but were really heavy because the lenses could be made only of glass. Now I have glasses with lenses made of some material similar to Lexan-- still thick at the edges but featherweight by comparison. And I'm grateful to Big Pharma as well, for the medication that controls my blood pressure easily and reliably, with no major side effects. JWM probably knows this, too--Booger can expect a long and healthy life because so many of the advances in modern medicine have been used to benefit the four-legged members of our families. I'm amazed by the options now available to treat sick cats and dogs that would have been science fiction only 20 years ago. These may seem like small things, but I am grateful every day for these and many other blessings.

I like George Herbert's verse on gratitude:

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more--a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

10/19/2006 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

"Godliness with contentment is great gain."

:)

10/19/2006 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"narcissistic glow of my fawning readers who gather at my feet with those ugly homemade shoes on them"

ahh, the sweet smell of Dr. Scholl's!

10/19/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Fergus the Cat said...

"Cats don't have owners. They have staff."

- fergus the cat

10/19/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Unless I'm in truly excruciating physical or emotional pain - and most of the time, I'm not - I'm happy to be here. That's putting it mildly.

Existence is its own ecstasy, no?

Existasy.

10/19/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger gawfer said...

Without reading the comments (possibly someone has already made the comparison), I'd say the 'Red Letter Christians' are one in the same as 'The Jesus seminar' who seeks to completely discredit the bible as a fictional work.

The last portion of that statement is speculation of course, but in essence that is exaclty what is being acomplished.

A common tactic of the enemy is to provide alternative points of issue to take our focus off the "Main thing". It is our responsibility to keep the Main thing the Main thing, as Greg Laurie encourages his listeners to do.

A well written artical indeed.

10/19/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

jwm: Psalm 23 speaks to the peace of Christ that is available to everyone, all the time - if they understand. "Worldly peace" is much different from the "peace of Christ" and the latter is not dependent on the former.

10/19/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger ximeze said...

ximeze

10/19/2006 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

HEY JOSEPH!!! CARD"S DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sorry Bob

10/19/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

biker lady said... "And just a comment about "Free Will".
I'm not so sure it's free as some like to proclaim. It seems that those who boast about it the most don't make the most of it. Not in a spiritual sense anyway."

Free to use, but not free of charge - whether or not you make an active choice, there's a cost - and whether or not it's a good choice, you will receive a return - debit or credit. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but if you choose wisely, it'll at least be nourishing (and Good).

10/19/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

NoMo said..."
A: Simple - because we don't know."

I've tapped out hundreds of lines answering that & haven't summed it up nearly as well as that. Well done.

10/19/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

uscats got ta has staf arite;but thestafheer don'tgives nomor fudina cantuna just kronchy stuff frum a bagg an itz cta abyuss isay
hi furgoss bot i stil didn get no smartcat keebord eethr
lifs hard!

bugrth cta

10/19/2006 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb5 said...

Wretchard at Belmont Club has linked to your previous post ( "The Soul Pathology of the Beast With Red Cheeks") saying "Here's a blogger whose prose smokes. Serious yet funny too."
I couldn't agree more.

10/19/2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

at-cA atin-lA?

My cat went a-prowlin about 32 years ago, I don't see him too often anymore, but I'm sure he says Hi.

10/19/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

CY,
I too am more glad than you can imagine that we have the medical technology and drugs that we do, which we probably would not have were it not for the big, bad pharmaceutical companies and filthy rich doctors (not for long, if the liberal lawyers have their way). I was rushed to the hospital one morning with what turned out to be abcessed diverticulitis with a perforation. I spent 10 days in the hospital, 3 of those in ICU. Were it not for the skills of an abdominal surgeon and his anaesthesiologist,a certain antibiotic known as Cipro made by the evil pharmaceutical company Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and the advanced equipment that performed some of my body's functions for me, I would not be writing this comment today.

Incidentally, when I was convalescing at home,learning to manage the colostomy appliance that I would have to endure for 6 months, I witnessed the awful events in New Orleans after Katrina came ashore. I shuddered to think of myself in one of those hospitals that lost power and was flooded; knowing the slow, agonizing death that would await if those machines had failed, I might have welcomed any doctors that came by with lethal injections (I am not in favor of euthanasia, but pain can make you wish for strange things). It was at that time that I felt more blessed and more priveleged than I had in a long time, despite my predicament; at least I was not in New Orleans or Biloxi. At the same time, I felt real pain for those people that were trapped in those sweltering hospitals (and even more saddened later at the deaths of some of them at the hands of doctors, who to this day I can't bring myself to fully condemn), having been in one. Experience is one of the greatest teachers of gratitude that I know of.

I also shudder to think that under socialized medicine, I might have had to wait for that surgery; I certainly would have had to wait more than a year for the reconnection surgery.

10/19/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

I like a blog where even the cats are free to post comments; the cat comments here are better than the human ones on DailyKos.

10/19/2006 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger jw said...

Bob:

It seems to me that both left and right are making an error of unequal things here.

Let's let X = the poorest 10% of the population and Y = the wealthiest 10%

When Y reaches somewhere between 7X and 12X social problems gained by the difference surpass the benefit of having the high Y value. Or in other words, when the richest get too rich you pick up more problems than you are fixing by having the rich people. There's really no doubt about that.

YET, as you say ... our poorest people are quite well off in comparison to the really poor of Africa.

Here's the paradox: Both your view and the left's "the rich are now too rich" are quite right! Both views have merit.

So somewhere there exists a grand unified theory of economics which combines BOTH views. We do not as of yet have it, but such a unified view must exist.

Does it not therefore make sense to work towards a unified view of economics?

10/20/2006 02:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben usn (ret) said...

JW-
When the left says: "The rich are too rich", who decides the magical number of "too rich?".
There is no merit in that view, only envy.

The left doesn't understand that Bob
doesn't seek adolation and worship like the leftist gurus do.
Bob seeks and speaks about Truth, absolutely, and that is why he gained the title of The World's Most Obnoxious Man, by the Kos Kween itself.
There be Liberty at this emminent blog!
The left don't get it, but they are drawn to it, and some of them stay,
and begin to see and hear.
Hope springs anew,
From Bob's homemade shew's;
He exposes tumors,
With wit and humor,
From the Spiritual, Lyrical Pew.

Master Bob sails the ship called Destiny,
A-Cross,
the See of Truth,
Powered by the wind of Gratitude,
Into All-dimensional longitude and latitude,
and the Third degree of Gladitude,
In clear hamitude
Tones,
Master Bob speaks to dry bone's,
No, he is not a loon ,
You're just out of Tune.
Bobahoy, Master Bob!
Your blob is InSpireRational!
Thank you, O InLightOmmed one! :^)

10/20/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger AussieJules said...

Love your blog, brings out hidden , half articulated thoughts I have re the left, political correctedness . Also re the sacred nature of man.
makes me stronger and more lucid.

10/20/2006 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

jw,
The only thing caused by the rich getting richer, is more wealth being created to the benefit of the less and less poorer.

The only problem of the rich being 'too rich', is that it gives an easy handle for demagogues to prey on the ignorance of the ignorant.

This is not the middle ages, where the rich became rich only by plunder. Leaving aside the money that may be attained through relationships with improper Gov't siphoning, the rich can only become wealthier through some form of investment and production - even if it's abstracted away several layers from the physical act of production through the marvel of modern finance, something is produced and wealth is created.

You and the left could be summed up through a simple equation, say:
(54 x 16)/ 6 = 144

How? Say that the left half of the equation represents the process of production, and the right half the profit received by the Rich. Leftists run around denouncing 'the Rich are getting 144 richer by just moving numbers around!' ignoring the substance of the left side of the equation which produced the 144.

The more clever ones (Krugman for instance) see the full equation, but don't understand it - 'the rich only "fifty-four ex 16" to get their wealth, they should spread it around! WE should spread it around for them!" forgetting completely the 864 that was created before being divided 6 ways, 144 of which the Rich received. But even then, they don’t get the 'ex' part, “all the Rich do is EX! People!!!” they don't understand that the 'ex' represents multiplication, that 54 is multiplied 16 times, and then spread about 6 ways to CREATE the 144 the rich receive.

That process of multiplication and division that produces the 144 the Rich receive, and the other 720 that members of society receive through their involvement in the equation, is completely lost on the leftists and the ignorant that the fools delude even further.

I often thank God for people like Bill Gates, he's the richest man in the world, and we're all wealthier because of it. The nice thing is, that even the morons like George Soros who don't comprehend the process they are involved in, still cause wealth to be created for the rest of us.

Ben - some very Bobistic verse there!

10/20/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

JW -
I don’t want to take up too much space on Bob’s blog talking about economics so I’ll try to make this brief.

Or in other words, when the richest get too rich you pick up more problems than you are fixing by having the rich people. There's really no doubt about that.”

“Here's the paradox: Both your view and the left's "the rich are now too rich" are quite right! Both views have merit.”


On what basis can you make your assertions? If the Left’s economic view (socialism) had merit, then explain why France’s economy is stagnant and unemployment is 10%. Then consider for a moment that the US economy (capitalism) is growing and unemployment is less than 5%.

Then consider the standard of living the individuals have under each system. France specifically and Europe in general have embraced socialism and their standard of living is far below ours.

With all this in mind, explain what the merits of socialism are for I see none.

10/20/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must comment on "poverty" in the U.S. I am living in western India, in Maharashtra, the powerhouse of the new Indian economy. The poverty, filth, and disease are incredible to behold. We have no such poverty in the U.S. at all.

10/21/2006 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger jw said...

eeevil right wing nut: Who ever said that socialism is the way to go? That would be a silly thing to think.

Yet, we know that over-consumerism drives debt problems. We know that we get the most investment in new technology from the new-rich, not the old rich.

We can go on and on with things which are known. There's simply no doubt that if the gap between the top and bottom 10% gets too big (with lots of disagreement on the number) then you get stagnation and poverty: In the same way, if it gets too small, you get stagnation and poverty. Only at some number in the middle do you get massive economic drive.

So, there must be a way to find the actual working numbers and create a system which provides the biggest bang for our buck.

The same applies to dealing with poverty. Jobs are the best solution. Welfare, as a temporary solution has merit, but only if temporary and tied to aid in securing employment (real aid that is, not the garbage called employment help in too many of our jurisdictions).

I cannot see either the left or the right solving our problems as both have things to say which have merit. Only the merger has the wisdom to see the way out of the problems we face.

10/21/2006 02:35:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

You do make some wise points here. I assume the reference to 'keeping all murderers alive' is about the death penalty. This is not a left /right issue (look at China!). I do not support the death penalty because I believe in the divinely given dignity of all humans, no matter how evil their deeds. For me (and many other religious / spiritual people) it is a moral and ethical issue. It is one thing to kill in self-defence (in war, or the police defending the public, or the individual defending themselves). It is quite another for the state to kill in cold blood, to provide revenge in the name of justice. My point is not to promote a debate about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty - but to say it simply is not a 'right/ left' issue.

10/21/2006 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"we know that over-consumerism drives debt problems."
People without a worthwhile education and common sense, who spend, or more accurately promise to pay, for more than they themselves produce, are what drive debt problems.

"We know that we get the most investment in new technology from the new-rich, not the old rich"

At best we can say that we get more visible activity from the new rich, who by definition are those who have become rich by their direct involvement in production. The old rich, tend to be that layer that is extremely vital to our economy, the source of investment and financial credit. Most funding is not received from banks, but from silent partners who farm their wealth quietly and effectively in the background.

"There's simply no doubt that if the gap between the top and bottom 10% gets too big (with lots of disagreement on the number) then you get stagnation and poverty: In the same way, if it gets too small, you get stagnation and poverty. Only at some number in the middle do you get massive economic drive."

I have no doubt that you have no doubt, but a little doubt on your part would be a useful thing.

There is no stagnation produced by over consumerism, there is stagnation produced by the Gov't playing with the money supply, and regulatory policies.

You do not get stagnation or poverty by wealth being created - at all - and as Gagdad pointed out in his post, and the Anonymous commented from a fresh view in India, the poor are NOT getting poorer in this country - even with the huge amount of Gov't meddling in and the sludging up of the economy, they are getting richer and richer every day.

The gap between the Very Rich, and the least Rich may be expanding (and is not a problem to anyone but those with a big brother desire to "Fix" peoples lives), some of which can be attributed to over taxation of those who need it the most - the middle class, and the lesser rich.

The so called helpful Gov't programs are nothing but wastes of money, and are viable only because people with a NY Times level of economic education are easily swayed into thinking that 'someone' should do something. Keep in mind however, for someone to 'do something' means Gov't telling you, me and everyone else what we HAVE to do, despite what we think we should do and against what we would otherwise choose to do.

By the way, the idea of consumerism itself is idiotic, nothing is consumed without first being produced - but that's an entire debate all in itself.

10/21/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph,
“It is quite another for the state to kill in cold blood, to provide revenge in the name of justice.”

The numerous DNA proofs of death row inmates being in fact innocent show that there’s room for improving how we determine the certainty of capital guilt, but the guilty being put to death is Justice, not revenge.

When a person who violates the Rights of another through theft or assault, they forfeit their right to their own liberty & some amount of property as well, through imprisonment and Fines. When someone violates someone’s right to Life through their deliberate murder, then they should forfeit their own right to life in turn.

10/21/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

There's no Time like the Present...
to get right with The Lord! :)

10/21/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mark W. said...

Gagdad Bob,

I gather by the first sentence of your post that you have opened the floor for criticism.

I agree with much of your criticisms of the left, especially your series on the plunge from liberalism to realism to vitalism and into nihilism. But I often get the sense that in addition to pointing out the loose and sandy foundation on which the left is built, you want to deflate their egos and bury them in that same sand.

Much like how an Evangelical throws scripture verses like daggers at an atheist in an attempt to win a debate, you fire off criticism at the left with cruise misses fueled by your deep awareness and spirituality. This is a dangerous misuse of your spirituality because you run the risk of committing the sin of spiritual pride. It can also cause tunnel vision with your deep level of awareness.

An example is your opinion on this:

"Amazingly, some 48% of Americans feel--and the operative word here is feel--that they are worse off than their parents were, which is demonstrably untrue."

You rightly illustrated the futility of attempting to answer this question from a spiritual point of view, but then you quickly moved onto a materialistic basis to prove why the 48% are wrong. You wave off their "feelings" without even discussing what it means to be "worse off". You linked the "feelings" label with the "left" label and fired off another cruise missile.

Doesn't the very nature of this question imply a quality of life issue? And doesn't that take into account not only materialism, but also a dimension of spirituality? I'm actually surprized that you are amazed at this statistic after reading your recent post on nihilism.

Beating up on liberal ideals is easy. Using your spirituality as fuel for arguments against them endangers the humility that is the true power of deep spirituality and awareness.

10/22/2006 07:35:00 PM  

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