Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I Believe in God: Part I - Introduction

One of the things that I’ve struggled with on this blog is what to write about.

In the beginning, my main purpose was to use it as a means to help market the books I had written. Over the past few years, I’ve made more than a few posts relating to What So Proudly We Hailed, especially in instances where I’ve seen the reality of the world following the fiction of the story. I’ve also posted half a dozen or so of the stories from Finding Liberty to give people an idea of its subject matter and style.

To date, I’ve witnessed no “Harry Potter” type of mass hysteria for either book, but that’s okay; while hopeful, I wasn’t really expecting that anyway.

But the blog remained. What to do with it? What to write?

At first, I tried to differentiate myself from the approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 or so other blogs on the web. Right.

I tried posting funny stuff. Nothing.
I tried some “thoughtful” posts. Nothing.
Political: Nothing.
Historical: Nothing.
Etc., etc., etc.,: Nothing, nothing, nothing.

This eventually led me to ask myself, “Why do I bother doing this at all?” It’s not like my “fame” & “renown” is growing (15 to 20 hits a day has been about the average), I don’t make any money from doing it, I’m certainly not saying anything that can’t be found on more credible sites, and – as previously stated – it’s not driving the sale of my books.

So, other than being a questionable use of time and maybe even becoming something of a burden, what was the point?

I settled on the answer of continuing to post simply because I like to write. I like to think, I like to speculate, and I like to ask questions, and writing posts has helped me to do that in a concrete, visible way. For myself.

If I had – or have – any other agenda to my writing, it would simply be that maybe, just maybe, I could encourage someone else to look at a particular topic in a way that they never had before. To question conventional wisdom, shun the “experts” of the world, and think about things for themselves and, subsequently, arrive at their own conclusions.

There is an unbelievable freedom in thinking for yourself. That much I know without a doubt. But I would also suggest that it doesn’t even make any difference what it is that you think about; even if you’re wrong, you’re still right, because in your mind, whatever answer you arrived at is the correct one.

It’s what you believe. It’s yours. It belongs to you, and no one can take it away without your consent.

One of the “answers” that belongs to me is the fact that I believe in God.

I know that puzzles some people. Makes them angry in some cases. After all, “God” is nothing more than a fairy tale for the ignorant, right? Haven’t we settled this already?

How could I be so archaic in my thinking? How could I ignore the “preponderance of scientific evidence” that supports evolution? How could any reasonable, educated, intelligent person – humor me here – actually believe in God?

Those are good questions. They deserve answers. And I’m going to try to answer them, because I know that there are a lot of my friends (and some of my family) who think I’m just being simple. That I walked into a frenzied church service one morning and left as just another brainwashed, hand-waving basket case.

I can see how some people might think that, but, in my case at least, it’s just not true. I have real reasons. I’ve given it real thought. I have real life experiences. I was told that the “debate” was over; I simply decided to open it back up again and take a look for myself. I’m like that sometimes.

So if you care to know, I’m going to share with you why I believe in God. It will take awhile, because there’s a lot to it, but my plan is to add posts over the next few weeks (or months), providing as much explanation as I can put into words.

Why would I do that, and, more importantly, why would you care?

First of all, understand why I’m not doing it; I’m not doing it to change anyone’s mind. If you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. I respect that. I’m not evangelical; it’s not my job – nor is it in my power – to make someone believe in God.

Christians may be shocked at that statement; “What about the great commission?”

What about it?

If you’re already familiar with God and the story of Jesus then the purpose of the Great Commission – spreading the word – has been satisfied. The way I read it, there is nothing in the Great Commission about “convincing” people to believe in Jesus Christ; just making them aware of Him.

I think the fact that Jesus Himself did nothing to “convince” people bears that out. When He sent out the disciples to spread the word, He told them that if people didn’t want to listen, the disciples were to shake the dust from their feet, leave town, and go find people who did want to listen. Not a word about staying around and preaching until people were badgered into submission.

So if you already know about Jesus Christ and choose not to believe, then that’s your decision.

My purpose then in doing this is simply to let you know why I believe in God, because I have real reasons and I don’t think most people understand what they are. Interestingly enough, I’ve never had anyone - Christian or Atheist - ever ask me why I believe in God. I find that very odd.

And I think it’s important that you understand why I believe in God, because I can absolutely understand why you may not. I grew up in the same public school system. I see the same TV shows, commercials, and movies. I read the same news articles. I hear the same disembodied voice on the Discovery Channel.

I was – and continue to be – inundated with the same continuous barrage of evolutionistic messages that serve to reinforce the concept as everyone else. I just see them differently.

I feel the ridicule and condescension of non-believers, but I choose to ignore it.

I see the hypocrisy of so many people who wear the label of “Christian”, but I try to let my own life be an example of my faith since that’s the only thing I have any amount of control over anyway.

I am well aware that “religion” can be – and often is – used as a self-serving tool for control, power, and wealth, but I focus on what it should be rather than what mankind has turned it into.

My question is: Are you curious as to why?

If so, check back from time to time and I’ll tell you. I can’t promise any sort of time frame, but I will eventually put it all down in words. If you're not interested, that’s okay too. Just skip anything you see that has “Why I Believe in God” in the title.

Comments along the way will be welcome, but please remember: I’m not trying to convince you that God exists, so please return the favor by not trying to convince me that He doesn’t. It would be a waste of your time anyway.

(to ready Part II, click here)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Funny Money

Over the past year there has been a lot of saber rattling by various states over states rights. Here’s an interesting concept out of South Carolina, a place where a lot of interesting things have come from in the past year:

South Carolina Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Federal Currency

"South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state."

The article points out two problems with his legislation:

"As one expert told the Scoop, however, his bill would likely be ruled unconstitutional because it 'violates a perfectly legal and Constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that federal reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private.'"

They are legal tender, but by the U.S. Treasury’s own admission, you don’t have to accept them:

Question: I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn't this illegal?

Answer: The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."
This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

That’s why, as one of our (very) small local businessmen here in Casey County found out recently, Frito-Lay was perfectly within their rights when they told him that they would no longer accept cash or checks starting in January of this year. This particular businessman is now faced with either setting up electronic payments with Frito-Lay (which he has no desire to do) or simply walking away from using them as a vendor.

So if a business can dictate the terms of how they will accept payment – including the mandated use of tokens, bus passes, or electronic payment – what would be so wrong about using silver and gold, other than the fact that the Federal Reserve vehemently does not want us to?

The article goes on to say:

"In addition, since gold and silver regularly fluctuate in value, they could not easily function as stable currency."

Okay, do I really need a reference for this one? I mean, c’mon; that statement is so ridiculous I have a hard time believing that it’s being passed off as a serious comment. Since when does the dollar not fluctuated in value?

Interestingly, the following article also came out recently. This one is a complete satire from “The Onion”, but while it is absolutely hilarious, I'll leave you to tell me how much of it is conceptually wrong.

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

I thought it was a pretty sad day when I realized that “The Daily Show” was the most unbiased news source on television. How much more so when we now see that the entire U.S. monetary policy has been nailed down tight by "The Onion”?

At least we can laugh about it. For now at least.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greecing the Skids

When we think of money, our minds automatically conjure up images of paper bills with presidents on them, and, to a lesser extent perhaps, the loose change of quarters, nickels, and dimes.

Strange that we think that way, because how much do we even use those things anymore? Other than a newspaper here and a soft drink there and maybe a couple of dollars at a garage sale, I would suggest that our reliance on actually currency – the kind you can hold in your hand or jingle in your pocket – is virtually non-existent.

Think about this for a second: In today’s world of checks, debit & credit cards, Paypal, direct deposit, and online payments, it is 100% possible to live your life without ever touching any actual money at all.


I can readily admit that I rarely ever carry cash myself, other than a few dollars that I keep on hand for “emergencies”.

It might give us pause to wonder, do we even need cash anymore?

December 22, 2009:
National Irish moves to cashless banking

National Irish Bank has written to thousands of its customers this month informing them of a “new style of banking” in which branches will not handle over-the-counter cash transactions.

The letter says branches will no longer handle cash withdrawals and lodgements, night safe lodgements and foreign currency cash. Branches will continue to lodge cheques, drafts and postal orders and issue drafts.

February 9, 2010:
HIGHLIGHTS-Greek FinMin unveils tax reform, wage policy

"From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards"

July 4, 2021:
United States Outlaws Use of Hard Currency (from the novel What So Proudly We Hailed)

In the past, whenever two people wanted to make a transaction, they agreed on a price and money was exchanged for goods or services. The entire event was contained solely between the two people involved.

When a transaction was made electronically, however, there were actually three parties involved; the buyer, the seller, and a middleman who transferred funds from one account to another.

No one doubted the convenience or safety of electronic transactions because they were easy, and it was much safer than carrying cash, but no one had ever questioned the role of the “middleman” either, or more specifically, the power that the middleman had to decide whether the transaction should occur at all.

Of course, those “middlemen” had always held a rather benevolent position in the past. They didn’t cause problems because they wanted us to use their services, and they knew we had the option to forego them entirely and just use cash instead if they made things difficult for us.

But that was just it; we didn’t have the option of cash anymore.

Every transaction was now required to go through that middleman, which gave them the final authority to approve or disapprove as they saw fit. The power to buy or sell had been taken away from the actual buyer & seller, and transferred instead to these unknown, unseen middlemen.

And the funny things is, that power? That unbelievable power? We had just given it to them.

Not so funny, was that they now began to use it. Who was going to stop them?

You're right. Probably never happen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweet Nothings

So here is a news story from what I would guess would be considered a “reliable” source (Reuters):

Study links sugary soft drinks to pancreas cancer

The conclusions from the article are right upfront:

* Regular soda drinkers had 87 percent higher risk
* Theory is that sugar fuels tumors

The substance behind the conclusions starts with:

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - People who drink two or more sweetened soft drinks a week have a much higher risk of pancreatic cancer, an unusual but deadly cancer, researchers reported on Monday.


"The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth," Pereira said in a statement.

And finally, in conclusion:

One 12-ounce (355 ml) can of non-diet soda contains about 130 calories, almost all of them from sugar.

The rest of the article was filler material (both literally and figuratively), but please feel free to read it if you like; it’s not very long.

I counted the word “sugar” used a total of 6 times in the article (if you include the title), and although the article does not claim that the conclusions of the study are definitive, it certainly implies that “sugar” should be considered a dangerous substance.

But here's the funny thing:
Soft drinks do not contain sugar.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. Read the label.

With very few exceptions - and I mean very few - regular soft drinks are sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) - not sugar - and diet soft drinks, of course, use aspartame almost exclusively.

Interesting that they didn't mention that. Just an oversight perhaps?

I’m no detective, but I’m a little hard-pressed to understand how sugar can be blamed as the villain when it wasn’t even at the scene of the crime.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beat Me Up, Scotty

Just when you think you’ve scraped the bottom of the stupid barrel, you discover there is a secret compartment underneath whose depths are as of yet unknown.

If you lift the lid to this compartment and plunge your hands beneath the oily surface, you might pull out something like this:

Studies Reveal Why Kids Get Bullied and Rejected

I’ll spare you all of the touchy-feely-zen tripe from the end of the article; mercifully, the “money shot” is right upfront:

Kids who get bullied and snubbed by peers may be more likely to have problems in other parts of their lives, past studies have shown. And now researchers have found at least three factors in a child's behavior that can lead to social rejection.

The factors involve a child's inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from their pals.

What they’re saying – and the rest of the article bears this out if you don’t believe me – is that if a child is being bullied, it is their fault because their “social skills” are not up to par.

Makes perfect sense to me. Remembering times when I was bullied as a child I can now realize that it was the fact that I was walking home from school on the sidewalk minding my own business that earn those kicks and blows.

I’m sure rape victims will now be able to understand – if they think about it with an open mind – that they did indeed “ask for it”.

And the kid whose drunk father beats him with a stick is not only guilty of inspiring that wrath, but he’s also probably to blame for why his father is a drunk in the first place, having not provided him with sufficient pleasure to remain sober.

I remember the first time I read “1984” and saw those three ridiculous slogans “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”. They make no sense at all, I thought; how could the people in Orwell’s fictional world “buy-in” to them without a second thought? Surely in the “real world” the lines of truth and fiction could never become so blurred.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

You were a child once; you lived in that world where children were left to their own devices and allowed to shape their faux society as they saw fit. What do you think?