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Archive for the ‘Questions’ Category

Tonight I did something I’ve never done before on social media, I lost it and went off on a rant. I’m so tired of the selective memory and selective outrage from everyone about everything.  And I’m afraid that is what the social engineers are hoping for in order to further divide and tear down our society.   I fear the damage is already done and we are on the edge of the collapse of American culture.

For years we have been pitted against one another, black on white on brown on red on yellow … male v female, old v young, haves v have-nots, Republicans v Democrats, Atheists v Christian, Muslim v Christian,   everyone v Christian.  Christian v Christian.  You name it, if you can put a label on it then they are against someone or someone is against them.  And we just sat back and let it happen. We as a people were more worried about our comfort, our ease or our entertainment, our statuses, our … mundane crap.  We let it happen to us.

Edward Bernays pegged it right in his book “Propaganda“:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

That’s hard to hear but one only need look at our society these days.   Social media has already been caught experimenting with the social media networks so it is not some conspiracy theory or theoretical fantasy. We have all fallen victim of our own personal biases and with the ubiquitous tool of social media we want to proselytize as many other to our way of thinking as we possibly can.  Of course each of us believe that we are in the right and that we are the open minded ones… therefore we cannot be wrong.

I feel it may be time to leave social media for an extended sabbatical.  I can see that I have been affected by the constant barrage of social network activism from both sides.

The war is upon us.

We have met the enemy

…and he is us.

 

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While recuperating I am trying to return to reading more and getting back to learning.
I am finding that reading is a discipline akin to working out. It requires a concerted effort to guide my mind back into “reading mode.” Much like returning to running after years of non-running where my body had forgotten “how to” run, I find my mind has grown fat and lazy.  It prefers the junk food found in social media rather than the solid nutrition found in literature, art, and story.  So then, my “exercise” regime is to ease my mind back into reading.
I find my mind is hungry for substance, for ideas, for things that will cause me to grow rather than waste away on the junk food found in our technological cornucopia of social media and instant infotainment.  I find myself wondering if I have waited too long to get back to learning?  Am I too old?  Is it too late?  No!
No.  It is a matter of discipline.  It will take work, and it will not be easy.  There are many distractions in this day of instant internet and entertainment access.  It was an epiphany to realize that I had allowed myself to become seduced by easy technology, to be ensnared by the entertainment at my fingertips in the device I now carry with me everywhere I go.  My mind has become addicted to soundbite, to bumper sticker snippets and click-bait headlines.  All fluff and no substance.
  I have therefore decided to impose some self discipline and require myself to read for at least one hour each day.   In practicing that today, my mind realized the shallowness  of what I have been consuming for far too long and it realized the emptiness of time wasted in cheap entertainment pursuits with which I have intoxicated myself. Cheap entertainment pursuits that require no thought have left my mind numb and in desperate need of more nourishing substance.  
I hope to incorporate more classical literature in my routine as well as my mind training progresses.  I just know that at this moment my mind is starving for something more that the mind numbing dribble that I’ve been feeding it for the past several years.  It’s not too late to begin again and learn.  It’s not too late to feed my mind and soul.

In the words of one of my favorite movies I offer this quote:
“…while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”
So, I begin… again.

On tap for now:

“On Writing Well”  William Zinsser
“Wabi Sabi for Writers”   Richard R Powell
“The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense”   Suzette Haden Elgin
“Finding your Perfect Work”    Paul and Sarah Edwards
“Pierre or, The Ambiguities”  Herman Melville
“Brain Power: practical ways to boost your memory, creativity and thinking capacity”   Laureli Blyth
“30 Steps to Becoming a Writer and Getting Published”   Scott Edelstein
“The Bible”   ESV study translation

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My story would begin in darkness though not total darkness but not romantic moonlit darkness either.   It would be more the darkness that accompanies a storm.   The kind that diffuses the the light and casts strange shadows across the land.  The kind that causes the street lamps to come on at mid-day.
I stand at the gate looking out at the road that lies before me, uncertain which direction to go from here.  Do I open the gate and step through?   Or do I run back  to the porch and ride out the storm in the relative comfort of  the crumbling structure I am  seeking to escape?   Do I stay until the bitter end?
I stand at the gate and look back.  Indecision has me paralyzed and the storm is increasing in intensity.   I feel the  wind at my back and it causes me to shiver.  I adjust my collar and huddle down to make myself a smaller target for the chill breeze and once again turn to look at the road before me just a step beyond the gate.
I stand at the gate and my eyes search for any sign of direction.   Off in the distance I see rays of sunlight that quickly retreat into shadow as I watch, teasing me with hope that is transient and elusive.    I’m too old to go chasing after “maybes” and “what-ifs.”  I need a sure thing.  Yet I realize how unreasonable and unrealistic that standard is.  There are no “sure things” and to make that a requirement will only keep me paralyzed with indecision.
I stand at the gate…

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altar call

The altar Call is an outward show of how the pastor can emotionally manipulate his followers to do what he says through guilt and other pressure tactics.  It is a power play so that there is visible evidence of a successful sermon.  The (so-called) “Altar Call” is the pastor’s way of  “proving that he is worth his paycheck.”  It is part and parcel of the Man-centered Gospel of the Church Growth Movement in Modern Churchianity.

The church lecture series is all about the man in the pulpit no matter how much he claims to the contrary.  The Cult of Personality is the glue that really holds the congregation together.  Take away the charisma in the pulpit and the so called church that meets in the temple they have built for themselves will dwindle down and die.  The sheeple will find themselves another proxy god to put in the pulpit.  They must have their very own idol to listen to and to worship.

“Not a god,” you say?  Really?  Pastors are the gods over their congregations.  His is the only voice allowed to speak during the lecture and he cannot be questioned about anything he says from behind the so called sacred desk.  He is infallible and not to be questioned.  He demands loyalty and obedience.  His word is law.  The sheeple are conditioned to passively, and unconditionally accept what the man in the pulpit is saying no matter what he says.  The pastor is in fact speaking “ex cathedra” as he is the head of his church no matter who he gives lip-service to.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”   -Lord Acton  expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887

_________________________
My premise is that any man who is given authority over others will, if left unchecked, make full use of that authority for both personal gain and personal power. The amount of corruption by this person will ultimately be decided by the amount of power that is available. As Lord Acton says, “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority.”

In modern Christianity most church congregations are based on a simple design. The authority is vested in the persons of the (so called) clergy, usually at the consent of, or at least the tacit agreement of the (so called) laity. This Catholic Idea of Clergy/Laity came from the teachings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprias, and Augustine who created and promoted the whole “Christian” class/ caste system. While not addressing the theological issues of this problem Lord Acton actually does a marvelous job of attacking just such a system, “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” As true today as when Acton said it.

-excerpted from my blog:  https://persifler.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/corruption-is-directly-proportional-to-the-level-of-control-that-is-available/

The “Altar Call” is nothing more than a way for the Pastor to practice his manipulation tactics while stroking his own ego.  I dare say that what most people claim to be a movement of the Holy Spirit is at best ginned up emotionalism brought on through guilt and spiritual/emotional manipulation.  Why would I say such a thing? Because the “feeling” is generally gone by the time you reach the parking lot, that’s why.

Finally, and most importantly, the Altar Call promotes a man-centered humanistic approach to religion and “salvation.”  It portrays a weak frail god who can only work in “his building” following the pastor’s sermon.  I have heard testimonies from folks who sweated bullets all week long until they could get to the Altar Call part of the service so they could get saved.  That screams of a god in a box who is so weak and so inept that that he has to have the work of the Man of god (little “g” on purpose) in order to save someone.  I have also heard of so called soul winners who got people to say the sinners prayer on visitation coaching them to come to church on Sunday and come down during the altar call in order to make their decision official with the preacher.  *groan*   No, no I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just now asking the right questions.  I just know that this Kabuki theatre that is being called “Church” these days is a sham and a shame.

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It has been a while since I updated The Orange and Lime Green Sherbets, or how things are going with Mistress Sadie.

I will have to admit there was, shall we say, a pall in my resolve.
What with “The Wedding” and so much other stuff going on over the summer I found myself dozing while my life was on autopilot.  I had let my guard down and when I awoke from my self-induced stupor I realized the enemy had retaken ground that was hard won the first time.

So there I was, faced with the ultimate decision, what do I do?  Do I go ahead and take the easy road back to the couch and give up?  Or do I man up and dig down deep inside myself and find the Marine that I once was, pick him up dust him off and between the two of us become the man that I once hoped to be but never have been yet?

To tell you the truth everything within me fought against me this week.  Every demon from my past, every failure I have ever experienced popped up and sang its tale of woe, weakness and frustration.  All my failures, disappointments, and personal flaws whispered to me to just give up and quit.  “It’s not worth it,” they said.  “Why even try?” they said.  “No one cares about or wants you,” they argued.  “What difference will it make?”

It dawned on me, they were absolutely right, “What difference WILL it make?”  So I quit arguing, and somewhere deep, deep down inside I started to get angry.  I stopped engaging my demons and my failures and my dead dreams, and my personal flaws altogether… and in my mind I stood up, turned around and began walking.  They all withstood me, began to taunt and make fun of me until I finally growled, “To hell with all of that, I’m doing this for me!”  I don’t care about my failures, or my flaws, or even about what anyone thinks of me!  I’m doing this for me, and when it’s done I hope to finally meet the man that I once hoped to be.  Not the man someone else wants me to be, but the one who I let life beat down, the one I smothered with religiosity, the one I never allowed myself to be.

Today marks the second day back in actual training mode.  I went back to Mistress Sadie and she worked me over for 50 minutes.  35-40 minutes was pumping her as hard as I could go.  My heart rate peaked at 180 beats/min. She was glistening with my sweat when I finished.  I wiped her down and she knew I was back only now the intensity is greater than before.  I’m on a mission.

Somewhere in my encounter with Mistress Sadie today I stepped through a portal in my mind, a portal to the id.  I had to find the Marine.  I knew he was in there, covered with the sands of my time, the dust and sediment of my life.  I sent out a distress signal, that he was needed, that I was reactivating him.  If this mission was to succeed I was going to have to have him back.  His ability to endure the mental challenges was needed.  I realize now that it was I who limited his physical abilities and I was the one who held “him” back.

Somewhere around the 20-minute mark he found me.  For a brief shining moment I felt him there; he was there to rescue me.  He was there to carry me over the pain threshold and for the next 20 minutes he ran with me as we pushed past levels 8-10 on Sadie as we took the hill of level 12 and reached the summit at level 14 for a couple of minutes.   Somewhere during the 5 min cool down he nodded and smiled.  I came back to this side of the portal, completely spent but encouraged, knowing the Marine is still with me, “Always Faithful.”

I was able to do one Set of the 14 Fitlinxx stations, then to the steam room to relax, finally shower and leave.

So, here I sit.
I’m not the man I once was.  With heaven’s help I will become the man I once hoped to be.  Not for anyone else or anyone else’s approval, this time I’m doing it for me. (Now I fully understand the meaning behind James 4:14-16.  If the Lord allows me to complete this quest, then so be it.) I have examined my life, weighed it in the balances and it comes up lacking.  And if I fail, let me die in the attempt, because that would be preferable to this life of mediocrity I now endure.

I am Persifler, not the man I was, but not yet the man I hope to be.

*for those who don’t know who Mistress Sadie is:  precor_amt_100_i

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propaganda-edward-bernays-1928-cover

Opening passage:

  THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

      Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

      They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

      It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.

Read more here:    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html

Americanized Religiosity is an important part of the Control Mechanism.

As distasteful as this ideology is to the “American Spirit” of rugged individualism it is an accurate observation on the mechanics of how society operates.   The important thing is to see it, understand how it works and be aware of how it is being used.  Knowledge is power.

Personally I would rather be consciously aware (at least as much as is possible) of how I am being manipulated than blindly following the power masters programming.

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Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Death” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRabb6_Gr2Y

 

Marshall Mcluhan’s “The medium is the Message” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

 

Francis Schaeffer’s “How then should we live” part X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WOuYA5Esw

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/09/sri-lanka-acknowledgments/

Sri Lanka: Acknowledgments

The last ten days have been inspiring and life-altering for me but none of the things I have written about would have happened without the love and help of so many people that I felt it appropriate to list a few of them here.

First of all I’d like to thank Matthew Paul Turner for considering me to go on this trip at all. We had never met in person and I know he took a risk asking me to come sight-unseen.  He may still well live to regret this decision when he finds the snake I cleverly hid in his luggage. (Just checking to see if you’re reading this, Matthew)

I also have to thank World Vision for investing in this trip by paying our traveling, lodging, and meal expenses. I only hope that the return on their investment in a lifetime of kids sponsored is an astounding success.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank Lindsey Minerva and Carla Gawthrop from World Vision for their leadership on this trip. Together they presented the perfect mix of cool confidence and amusing weirdness that was just what we needed to get us through the rough patches. Lindsey and Carla, I’d travel with either of you again pretty much anywhere.

From the World Vision team in Sri Lanka I have to thank our interpreter and communications specialist Hasanthi. I’ve never met a person who has been more patient and kind to a bunch of silly Americans than she is. She is a rare and beautiful shining light in Sri Lanka. Along with her I also have to mention our drives Nixon and Manjula who (for all Matthew’s screaming) got us where we needed to be safely every time through some pretty harrowing traffic situations. They even provided an oldies soundtrack for some of it.

While mentioning the support team in country, I’d also like to thank the staffs of the Carolina Beach Hotel and Amagi Lagoon Resort for their amazing customer service and and attention to our needs during the few precious hours we had each day to write about our experiences. They made our live as easy as was physically possible. If I ever start a hotel chain I’m staffing it completely with Sri Lankans.

Many thanks to Joy, Allison, Roxy, Tony, Shawn, and Laura, my fellow bloggers on this trip who put up with my wise cracks and constant reminiscing about my childhood without (as would be understandable) leaving me stranded on the side of the road. They have the patience of Job and great shall be their reward in heaven. (Except for Tony because he doesn’t go in for that sort of thing.)

And last I need to acknowledge so many of you.  Our own RobM lent me the laptop that I’ve been using all week. Others of you sent gifts of money to help with my passport, immunizations, travel supplies, and other expenses. And most of all so many of you have offered words of encouragement, prayers for safety, and advice on dealing with charging cows. (Actually you didn’t do that last one but it would have come in handy if you had.)  You all share in the success of every child that is sponsored as a result of this trip.

I offer you all my weary, jet lagged thanks. It has been an amazing week.

Oh, and I’m taking tomorrow off.

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/08/sri-lanka-share-the-love/

Sri Lanka: Share The Love

I have a small confession to make: I haven’t sponsored a child through World Vision. My financial reality right now is such that I simply can’t afford to promise more than I can pay. But instead I’ve given “such as I have” by taking all of my vacation hours from my day job to travel here and act as an ambassador for the children of Sri Lanka by taking their message to you. As blessed as I have been I would hardly call that a sacrifice; my cup runneth over.

Perhaps you too are feelings some pangs of guilt because you cannot give or perhaps you are currently giving to some other great organization. If that’s your reality then let not your heart be troubled, God understands. But here’s something you can do even if you can’t send money and that’s to spread the stories of this trip to others who may have their hearts touched in turn and be in a better position to give.

I understand that that given our background admitting to reading SFL is a bit of a sensitive topic for some folks so I’ve also posted all of the stories from this week over at WhereisDarrell.com so feel free to share that link on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. Just tell them that your friend Darrell has had an amazing week and he’d love to share it with them.

If you are able to give yourself then share the story of your sponsored child with others to let them know what you’re doing and invite them to check out the child sponsorship program as well. If you sponsor a child do feel free to share what you’re doing here on SFL as well! I’d love to hear all about it.

 

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/08/sri-lanka-a-cup-of-cold-water/

Sri Lanka: A Cup of Cold Water

August 30th, 2012

A Buddhist priest, A Muslim imam, and a Christian World Vision staff member stand together at the ADP closing ceremonies.

If you spend any time at all in Sri Lanka you quickly learn that it is a land of diversity and contrasts. There are Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, and Muslims who speak Tamil but aren’t ethnically Tamil just to keep things interesting. Buddhism is by far the dominant religion, of course, and the Buddhist priests (as the leaders of the majority religion) have great respect and political power in the communities. Organizations that openly proselytize may soon find themselves effectively shut out of a community or even asked to leave. So if the great commission to Christians is to preach the gospel then how does a person live authentically as a Christian in a place where explicit gospel presentations are not allowed? How do you sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

When World Vision goes into an area they make no secret that they are Christians. They introduce themselves as a Christian organization that is funded mainly by other Christians. But along with that they also try very hard to build a relationship of trust between themselves and the other faiths in the community that they are not there to exploit the poor and use aid as a lever to get conversions. The reality here is that the religious leaders have a lot of respect and power within their communities and winning their trust is the only way to make sure that the help that is being given is sustainable.

This sensitivity to the community plays out in many ways. The World Vision staff schedule the religious services for themselves at different times than the observances of the other religious faiths so as not to create conflicts. When working with street kids they will actually give rides to the children to the temple or mosque so that they can worship in their own faith if they want. They exert absolutely no pressure on anybody by implying that the help they give is quid pro quo for a religious conversion. Their witness is one of love and charity so that when people eventually do ask “what makes you different?” they then have the opportunity to tell them that it’s Jesus who makes all the difference in the world to them.

This kind of witnessing does not bear quick fruit. In some areas the opposition from local Buddhists especially has been fierce. I was told one story by the staff about an area they were working where the head priest continually incited the people against World Vision, claiming that they were exploiting the poor and trying to force them to be Christians. At one point someone even threw a grenade into an empty World Vision office in an attempt to scare off the staff. Little by little as they continued to work and demonstrate what they were about through their actions, they began to win the trust and respect of the people and the priests alike.

During the closing ceremonies at the end of that same project, the head Buddhist priest who had been so antagonistic came to attend. He approached the local World Vision leader and the national World Vision leader and got down on the ground, kneeling in front of them and touching their feet in the manner of a common supplicant to ask their forgiveness for his fear and ignorance. When is the last time you saw a Christian pastor do that to a Muslim or a Buddhist? It’s food for thought.

That story is hardly unique. At the closing ceremonies that I visited the local Muslim imam and the Buddhist priests sat side by side to celebrate what a Christian organization has done in their community. In fact, the imam himself had been a child in one of of the World Vision “children’s societies” (a.k.a. “youth clubs”) and talked animatedly with our team members about how he loves to talk and eat and cooperate with the Christians in his are. These are the stories that give me hope not only for Sri Lanka but also for the world. Perhaps love can win after all. Maybe a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name really is the answer to religious conflict. Perhaps someday we can defeat both fear and poverty by working with one person at a time. I’m glad to be a small part of that this week. I’d love for you to be a part of it too.

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