Author: smcintos

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Vegas and Hollywood: the truth

On the evening of October 1, 2017, a man named Stephen Paddock used a gun to kill and injure spectators at a country music concert in Las Vegas. You probably know something about the story, but have you noticed all the comments and conspiracy theories that have spun off from the incident; the story about the story? It’s interesting because Mr Paddock is such a mystery. We don’t know why he shot those people except that he made a decision. His background story gives us no clues, so we are free to make our own judgments. That’s useful for some people. Related: 2017 Las Vegas shooting A few days later, on October 5, the New York Times published an article about Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in the Hollywood movie industry. He has been accused of gross misconduct with young women who were trying to make careers in movies and television. At this time, it is fair to say the accusations have been denied, and any accusations are only alleged; but that …

Edmonton Credit: Dave Sutherland/Flickr/Creative Commons

The terror attack on my street

On Saturday night I had trouble sleeping because of the flickering lights. Red meant police with no sirens, and no color was the helicopter searching for someone. I wasn’t concerned, but I stayed inside. I learned later that a man, possibly police, was digging in a garbage bin nearby, and shining a light on passing cars. The morning news said something about a driver who hit a police officer, and a small truck that flipped over, both close to my home. I drove to church on Sunday and saw a police car parked near our home. At church, I couldn’t get in because of a big celebration that filled the parking lot, so I went to another place. In the new church, the preacher kept telling us that God was going to do great things; we only had to trust. I didn’t disagree, but I didn’t see anything big. In the afternoon I went for a walk and many police officers were searching my neighbourhood. A news crew tried to get a man-in-the-street interview from …

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Noah’s Flood, Atlantis, and the Okotok

People who don’t like the Bible, or believe that it is not true, like to point out the story of Noah’s flood as proof that they are correct. How can any reasonable person believe that the whole world was covered with water and animals marched two by two into a large wooden boat? Where is the scientific evidence for that? You might be surprised. Noah’s flood, in the Bible, is dated at about the same time as other flood stories from almost every ancient culture. Stories about a huge and deadly flood are found in the Australian outback, the mountains of Ecuador in South America, in China, in the stories of Gilgamesh and Noah’s flood from the ancient Middle East, and in the Greek story of Atlantis. Plato and other Greek writers told us about an ancient land of Atlantis that was flooded, and apparently the Atlanteans invaded other places, in desperation. Ancient flood stories are everywhere, from people who did not speak to each other. They made their own versions in isolation. We now …

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The crime of climate-change denial

North America had a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, followed by a string of hurricanes and earthquakes in Mexico. Also, we have been warned that the world will end, or begin to end, on September 23, 2017. RELATED: Will the World End on Saturday, September 23, 2017? This is ammunition for people who believe in global warming, or climate change caused by all the carbon dioxide we are putting in the atmosphere. Some of them are saying that “denial”, disagreement with their ideas is criminal because it will lead to human suffering. We need to take action to prevent a disaster. They have an opposing side that believes climate change is caused by radiation pulses from the the sun, and volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than humans do. RELATED: Sorry, But With Global Warming It’s The Sun, Stupid In Canada, the solar people advertised on buses that the sun causes climate change, and the atmosphere people convinced the government to start an investigation for criminal charges. The investigation was suspended after 14 months, but it …

Joel Osteen Credit: Faith Church.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

Joel Osteen and the Gimli Glider

On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey landed in Texas. Houston was badly damaged, and one of the casualties was Lakewood Church and its pastor Joel Osteen. One of the biggest news stories from Hurricane Harvey was the pastor’s refusal to let victims of the storm shelter in the church building. RELATED: Joel Osteen tells Hurricane Harvey victims to not have ‘poor old me mentality’ This may sound strange, but I think I agree with Joel Osteen. If you are wondering, I live very far from Houston, in Canada, and no one asked me to write this. These are some of my reasons: Disaster management includes shelter that is designed for occupation. A huge church is not a dormitory and it may put people at risk. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and people moved into a covered stadium. It was unsanitary, the police lost control, and criminals moved in with guns. People had to be rescued by force from the shelter. Feel-good self-serving charity is always wrong. Victims need useful help; donors don’t need …

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What is the big deal with Fentanyl?

I did not know this, but I am living in the center of a world crisis of biblical proportions. People around me are dying, and the numbers of deaths are large, in the thousands, and growing rapidly. Governments don’t seem to have an answer, and the crisis is spreading. Have you heard of Fentanyl? It’s a prescription drug that you can buy cheaply and legally, in most places, and it’s an opioid like heroin and morphine. Drug dealers love this stuff. They add it to more expensive and illegal drugs to provoke more addiction in their customers. It grows their business and saves them money, and I live in western Canada, one of the most blighted regions. Who knew? Fentanyl was developed in a lab in 1959, as a legitimate pharmaceutical. Carfentanil was developed soon after and used by veterinarians; as a sedative for elephants. Related: Carfentanil: Wikipedia The potency of morphine is the control measure, and Fentanyl is fifty times more potent; and Carfentanil is 10,000 times more. That number is not a typo. …

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¿Le han disparado últimamente?

English version: Have you been triggered lately ¿Le han disparado últimamente? El diccionario urbano define esto como “Getting lleno de odio después de ver, oír o experimentar algo que no se puede soportar.” En mi experiencia, una persona disparada no es responsable de su ira. culpa de otra persona abrió la puerta de su rabia y ahora podía pasar cualquier cosa. Recientemente, un comediante Kathy Griffin posó con una cabeza cortada falsa del presidente Donald Trump, Bill Maher usó la palabra “n” en una entrevista, y Stephen Colbert ha sido criticado por algo crudo. Kathy Griffin, al menos ha recibido graves amenazas de muerte por su delito. Relacionados : Maher, Griffin, Colbert: cómicos Anti-Trump están teniendo un muy mal momento: Washington Post Entonces, ¿cómo la cultura popular descender a la violencia cruda y amenazas de muerte? se desencadenaron personas. Son molesto, por lo general por Donald Trump, por lo que no hay límites a su conducta, y ahora el otro lado se activa y amenazas de muerte hacia ellos. Si esto parece una locura para …

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

Entonces, ¿quién es Zoroastro?

English Version: So Who is Zoroaster? Hace unos tres mil años, probablemente en los tiempos de David y Salomón en la Biblia, un hombre llamado Zoroastro o Zaratustra comenzó a predicar acerca de un Dios, y una gran fuerza del mal en el mundo. Su hogar era probablemente cerca de Afganistán y su enseñanza llegó a dominar todas las personas iraníes, desde el norte de la India a Grecia, en Europa. Información sobre los tiempos y lugares es sobre todo perdido, pero los estudiosos coinciden en que alguien trató de convertir a la gente a Dios, en el centro de Asia, hace muchos siglos. De acuerdo con Tabari, un musulmán sunita que vivió hace unos mil años, Zoroastro del antiguo profeta de Irán era de Israel y discípulo de Jeremías, o viaja con un profeta hebreo. Sabemos que los persas eran a menudo amable con Israel y su templo en Jerusalén. Reyes de Persia (Irán) ordenó la reconstrucción del templo de Jerusalén: Entonces el rey Darío proclamó un decreto, y buscaron en los archivos donde se …

Scottish Highlander cattle Credit: Lloyd/Flickr/Creative Commons

Darwin y las vacas escocesas

English Version: Darwin and the Scottish cows Charles Darwin desarrolló su teoría de la evolución para el origen de la especie cuando se dio la vuelta al mundo en un barco llamado el Beagle. En ese viaje, en 1834, exploró el valle erosionado del río Santa Cruz, en Argentina y él comentó sobre el curso de los siglos y la erosión gradual que produjo el valle. Ahora sabemos que un GLOFs (glaciar de los lagos de valles de inundación) se produjo cuando un glaciar de hielo bloqueó el río cerca de las montañas y represado una enorme reserva. Cuando el agua entró por el hielo, la GLOFs erosionado el valle de forma rápida, probablemente en día. Cuando era un niño, viajé con mi familia en el estado de Washington, y me di cuenta que el interior seco tenía cientos de canales de agua erosionadas, todo seco, y vi probablemente la caída de agua más grandes del mundo, Dry Falls, cuatro veces las el tamaño de las cataratas, en un valle erosionado profunda. Entonces supe que …

Charlottesville, Virginia protest August 2017 Credit: Evan Nesterak/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Riots in Charlottesville … and Darwinian Evolution?

We know about the demonstration in Charlottesville Virginia. Groups described as Right Wing gathered and demonstrated for their beliefs. The trigger was a threat to remove monuments to leaders of the Confederacy in the American Civil War, more than a century and a half ago. That war was fought with muskets and sabres and horses, and the good guys won. The demonstrations were ugly, with symbols and language that related to Hitler and the Nazis, and the Klu Klux Klan. Counter demonstrators gathered, including some dangerous violent people. It all ended when allegedly a car driven by a man with a history of mental illness rammed into a crowd of counter demonstrators, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed as they monitored the demonstrations. It was a terrible day. To understand what was happening, some researchers brought up Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Really. A survey was sent to members of the alt-right supporters asking for their opinions about human evolution. Related: Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right …

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The Creation of Evolution

Have you heard about the new Darwin? Jeremy England is a professor at MIT with a theory “dissipation-driven adaptation” about the origins of life. The theory focusses on physics instead of biology, the usual scientific approach to evolution. My best summary is that life is inevitable because of the physical structure of the universe. “random groups of molecules can self-organize to more efficiently absorb and dissipate heat from the environment.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_England Life had to happen because of the design and structure of the universe. That’s a complicated way to say that life was created. The god of creation, in this case, is the physical universe, the thing that made life. By extension, something intelligent made the structure of the universe so that it inevitably produced life, but that is just me talking. The ‘new Darwin’ Jeremy England identifies as Orthodox Jewish and apparently studies the Torah, what Christians call the Old Testament. Did you know that the original Darwin was a religious man? He is described as a naturalist, but that profession didn’t exist in …

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But We Can’t Afford That

A few days ago, a young woman who lives near me overdosed on Fentanyl. Her family drove her to a hospital and I think someone did CPR during the ride. She almost died, but the hospital staff were able to save her. Something bothered me about that story, and then I noticed that they drove her in the family car; they didn’t call an ambulance. I don’t know the family but I guess they can’t afford a five-hundred-dollar ambulance ride every time their addict overdoses. Transporting critically ill patients in a private vehicle is something we should never do; the ambulance crew might save a life before arriving at the hospital. But that ride has a cost, the whole system costs millions, with dispatchers, EMTs, vehicles and equipment, and sometimes helicopters. And life-threatening problems like drug addiction are becoming epidemics. And another story; I keep the tickets from McDonald’s coffee cups. Where I live, each cup has a peel-and-stick ticket and a detachable card. Seven tickets will buy one cup of coffee. I don’t need …

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Help, I can’t get promoted!

For part of my career I worked in a large university. I also trained to be a Christian minister but jobs were just not available in churches, so I taught in a university. I was promoted to be the coordinator of the department, like a vice-principal in a school for adults. This promotion was a surprise to me, and I was supposed to be interim; our Director was going to quit and someone had to hold things together until the new Director arrived. When he finally came, he needed people like me, so he extended my tenure as coordinator. That’s when my friends started hating me and senior managers started looking at me as a liability instead of an asset. They needed to save money and I was a cost, and my friends wanted my job. On the success side, I schemed and politicked my way into a large window office, in a place where most of us worked in cubicles, with no outside light. I am ashamed to tell you that now. God never …

Tolerating Muslims

Last Sunday, as I drove to church, I noticed police cars on the road ahead, with flashing lights. It looked like a big accident or a crime scene, but when I got to the site I saw people coming out of the Islamic Center. Muslims celebrate Eid, at the end of the fasting time of Ramadan, and the police were managing traffic and providing security. With crowds of people and busy parking lots at an Islamic center, the police were being careful. So, are we supposed to tolerate those people? They were mostly new immigrants and most wore ethnic costumes from the old country. And they certainly have values that are different from mine. So, should we tolerate them? No, certainly not. I am a Christian and I follow the example of someone who loved us so much He died for us. Barely tolerating my neighbor is wrong for me. What I give out must be in the higher levels of kindness, at least; God’s love is the language of Christians. This is not even …

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Raging Billboards

Someone put a religious message on a sign beside a freeway near Indianapolis. You can see what they wrote in the picture. The message is a summary of some things conservative Muslims believe about their founder. In the twenty-first century, these ideas don’t look good, but people are outraged that the sign is critical and hateful. There are some lessons for us in this story. You can’t win against the critics: Every human organization or movement has skeletons in the closet, historical things we wish would go away; and the Internet lets the critics dig out those facts and tell the world. In Canadian and Australian history, people who called themselves Christians forced native children into residential schools, away from their families. Today this is a national embarrassment. The Mormons have many things to explain. In the U.S. the Democratic Party was the political base for slavery, segregation, and ugly racism. They are trying to do better now. The message on the sign was skillfully written and researched. If the author is sued, he will …

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Have you been triggered lately?

Have you been triggered lately? The urban dictionary defines this as “Getting filled with hate after seeing, hearing or experiencing something you can’t stand.” In my experience, a triggered person is not responsible for their anger. Someone else’s fault opened the door to their rage and now anything could happen. Recently, a comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a faked severed head of President Donald Trump, Bill Maher used the “n” word in an interview, and Stephen Colbert has been criticized for something crude. Kathy Griffin, at least has received serious death threats for her offense. Related: Maher, Griffin, Colbert: Anti-Trump comedians are having a really bad moment: Washington Post So how did popular culture descend to crude violence and death threats? People were triggered. They are annoyed, usually by Donald Trump, so there are no limits on their behaviour, and now the other side is triggered and issuing death threats back at them. If this seems crazy to you, good. This is collective insanity, and it seems to be a thing these days. But Christians …

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Turn Down the Noise

Recently I learned one of the most important lessons in my life. Why can’t we learn all the important lessons at the age of 12 or 14? A few years ago I knew an older couple, and the wife was a severe critic of everyone. You know the type. The problem for me was our failed relationship. When I visited them I always left angry. Her criticism of me was irritating, but maybe I deserved it and maybe there was some good advice in her cruel words. My breaking point was all the judgmental things said about other people. I didn’t want to join in and sometimes I tried to defend my friends. I can remember my anger as I write this. It’s impossible to correct an old critic. These old people were devout church-going Christians, respected by everyone who knew them, and I am a Christian, so this was one of the biggest defeats in my life. My clinical description above doesn’t show my emotions; those people made some of us crazy. And then …

Custom House in Dublin, Ireland Credit: motorito/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can Blasphemy be a Crime?

If I told you the police were investigating a famous man for blasphemy, possibly resulting in criminal charges, what country would you locate the story in? There is a famous trial in Indonesia, of a man who identifies as a Christian. Several people in Pakistan are in prison and charged with blasphemy, and Iran and Saudi Arabia, and probably other Muslim majority countries have blasphemy laws. This is one way for conservative Muslims to protect their religion from critics. Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists cannot apply the laws against their critics, in those countries. But this story is not about Muslims. Would you believe that the police investigated a man for blasphemy in the Republic of Ireland? And the accuser identified as an offended Christian. It’s all true, and on the surface it seems very strange. Apparently the police have decided to drop the investigation and not proceed with charges, just today, a few hours before I wrote this. The subject of the police investigation was an English comedian named Stephen Fry. The Irish anti-blasphemy …

Scottish Highlander cattle Credit: Lloyd/Flickr/Creative Commons

Darwin and the Scottish Cows

Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution for the origin of the species when he sailed around the world on a ship named the Beagle. On that voyage, in 1834, he explored the eroded valley of the Santa Cruz River in Argentina and he commented on the lapse of ages and the gradual erosion that produced the valley. We now know that a GLOF (Glacier Lake Outburst Flood) occurred when an icy glacier blocked the river near the mountains and dammed up a huge reservoir. When the water burst through the ice, the GLOF eroded the valley quickly, probably in days. When I was a boy, I travelled with my family in Washington State, and I noticed that the dry interior had hundreds of eroded water channels, all dry, and I saw probably the biggest water fall in the world, Dry Falls, four times the size of Niagara, in a deep eroded valley. I knew then that something very big had happened. In the 1920s, a Geologist named J. Harlen Bretz named that region in …

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

So Who is Zoroaster?

About three thousand years ago, probably in the times of David and Solomon in the Bible, a man named Zoroaster or Zarathustra began preaching about one God, and one great force of evil in the world. His home was probably near Afghanistan and his teaching came to dominate all Iranian people, from northern India to Greece, in Europe. Information about times and places is mostly lost, but scholars agree that someone tried to turn people to God, in central Asia, many centuries ago. According to Tabari, a Sunni Muslim who lived about a thousand years ago, Zoroaster the ancient prophet of Iran was from Israel and a disciple of Jeremiah, or he travelled with a Hebrew prophet. We know the Persians were often kind to Israel and their temple in Jerusalem. Kings of Persia (Iran) ordered the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem: “Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The …

Hitler in Finland Credit: Wikipedia/SAkuva/Creative Commons

Those Pictures of Hitler

A few days ago I met a man who saw Hitler. He told a small group, including me, that he was four years old, in Czechoslovakia, and he remembers shiny black cars and a man in the distance. He says the memory is still clear. If you follow news on the Internet, there are several photo albums and collections of pictures that show the ordinary life of Hitler. For some reason, this information seems to be in the news now. I don’t know why some of these pictures were kept hidden, and have emerged this year. One example of a photo collection is a recent article with a free discussion by the readers: 50  rare photos of Adolf Hitler. There are several other sources of these pictures of the “human” Hitler: Unseen photographs reveal the private life of Adolf Hitler Never before seen photos Adolf Hitler found in an album in mistress Eva’s bedroom These pictures of an ordinary man, doing ordinary things, have generated angry debate. In the discussions, some people openly speak out …

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Post Modernism: The Case for Rachel Dolezal

You might have heard of Rachel Dolezal, also known by her new legal name Nkechi Amare Diallo. She was once the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington. Her parents, who apparently had been Pentecostal Missionaries in Africa, exposed her as a white woman with Czech, German, and Scandinavian ancestors, and she was forced to resign in disgrace. Today Rachel, or Nkechi, is labeled as a liar and a fraud and life is difficult for her. She is famous enough to have her own article in Wikipedia, and you can read more about her interesting life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Dolezal Rachel is someone I have never met, and probably never will, but I know there are some lessons for us in her story, and Christians should be careful with their judgment. Rachel Dolezal is an expression of a philosophy called Post Modernism. Most of us live in Modernism, with the idea that people belong to groups, them and us, and the differences between groups never change. With that thinking, …

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UFOs and Christians

Do you remember movies like ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The concept of aliens from other planets has been entertaining us for years. And sometimes the belief in flying saucers with strange passengers, and alien abductions becomes like a religious cult with true believers. Also, life on other planets is a mainstream scientific theory. One of the hottest things in modern astronomy is the search for Earth like planets. When I was a boy, probably about eight years old, my big brother found a new hobby. He became a UFOlogist. He found a source of cheaply printed books with blurry pictures of weird things in the sky, and he let me read them. For a little boy, that was the best hobby ever. I still remember those stories about visitations and abductions, and things in the sky that the Air Force denied. Eventually our mother learned about this and she was not happy. The tension was broken one Sunday, in church. The pastor said something about UFOs, in his sermon, and I …

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666 and all that

I was stopped by the police the other day. This was the second time in my life, so I was surprised. The officer explained that my driver’s license had expired on my birthday. I thought I had until the end of the month, but I didn’t. He let me off with a warning and I fixed the problem at a registry, right away. A few years ago I saw a car in a handicapped parking stall outside a Halal meat store. I told the female driver about the problem and she basically went ballistic. I thought this new immigrant needed some direction, but she thought I needed something from her. I just walked away. We all know about refugees and migrants who are crossing borders to find a better life in a wealthy country. There are stories now about people walking across the border from Minnesota to Manitoba, the U.S.A. to Canada, in the winter. I appreciate Winnipeg, one of my sons is there and he is doing well, but walking to Winnipeg, in the …

Church in Flesch, Wallis, Switzerland Credit: Oliver Regelmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

How Dangerous are Religious Radicals?

There is an interesting video of a religious conference where the speaker talks about radicals in his community. The religion, in this case, is moderate Islam. If you believe all the people who raised their hands in the video, moderate Muslims are actually dangerous radicals. Before you panic; the people in the room self selected, they were so devout in their religion that they attended a conference, and they easily made extreme statements. They also were under peer pressure to raise their hands when the questions were asked. And they were young people at the age of idealism. Life will look very different in twenty years, with a family, a mortgage, and a spreading waistline, and maybe a receding hairline. The people in the audience are probably not very scary, but the speaker has an interesting message. For him, all moderate Muslims must be extreme radicals who want to impose Sharia law on the world, including stoning of women who commit adultery, and permission for a man to have several wives. I am sure that …

Crosses overlooking Matera, Italy. Credit: Hugh Bell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Religion Doesn’t Work Anymore

In 2015, Muslim pilgrims in Mecca were caught in a human stampede and thousands were killed. The Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, is a requirement for all Muslims. A devout Muslim should do the Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once. Now, squeezing millions into a small place in the desert, for a few days, and keeping things traditional, is becoming impossible. When things go wrong with the Hajj, thousands die in the stampedes and governments almost go to war. Now the lunar cycle for setting the date has come to the hot desert summer, and it will stay on the summer for a decade. Management of the Hajj has become a crisis. Believers must go, but it’s so hard. I remember when I was in High School, my church told me to “win my friends for Christ.” I looked at my school friends and I didn’t see any way to make that happen. At church we had music with a piano and organ, and a strict Sunday schedule, and so much more. We had a …

Protestors Credit: washingtonydc/Flickr/Creative Commons

We Need More Sin in 2017?

We have a lot of complaining in the world. I wanted to give you a link to someone whining about something on video, but I can’t. This is a Christian blog and they all swear like angry sailors. Maybe try words like “millennial” or “Trump” or “Brexit” or “safe space” or “immigration” with a search engine. I’m sure you get the picture. You might see a video of a violently angry complainer, or maybe someone with an equally angry response. And I warned you about the swearing. I don’t remember people acting like this ten years ago; the world has changed. Now a democratic election is close to a civil war and people seem to hate their neighbors who vote for the other side. Arguments are loud and emotional and we win if we drown out the other side, or maybe insult them into silent shame, or steal their election signs. It’s a cage match between the Deplorables and the Snowflakes. Here’s a problem; we don’t have enough sin. We have loud emotional arguments, on …

Seshadripuram, India Credit: P.L. Tandon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you a Bigoted Conservative Fundamentalist Right-Wing Christian?

Christians need to be careful these days. People fight and bicker about politics and Christians are usually assigned to one side in the wars. Democracy includes the right to choose, and you can have any political view that you want, and you can change your mind any time, but be warned; there is a grievance industry with a script that needs bad guys, just like an old cowboy movie. Bigoted, conservative, fundamentalist, right-wing Christians are about as common as unicorns, in my experience, but that might disappoint some grievance specialists. The script needs villains, like cowboys with black hats and bad attitudes. Recently, in my city, a man-made a noose with a piece of rope and said “This is for you” to two Muslims and then he then sang the national anthem. This was one man, one time, and I guess he has mental problems. The Chief of Police denounced this offensive intolerance on the front page of the news paper saying “We have zero tolerance for hate.”  I respect that. He defused the situation …

Sameba (Trinity) church in Tbillsi, Georgia Credit: Berdo Maghularia/Flickr/Creative Commons

One More Way to Kill a Church

This is my fourth time to write about how to kill a church, and I think this is enough; I don’t want to get morbid. But it is simply true that success or failure depends on us. God hasn’t moved, and “Trust and obey” is still the route to great things. The world around us will never hold us back. I once heard about a new church in my city that met in a rented building downtown. Successful churches are usually in the suburbs, with Christian families and free parking, so I had to check this place out. I am still surprised; on a Sunday morning I walked into a huge auditorium filled with young adults, and they were all talking at once. Loud and lively conversations were everywhere. I didn’t have any young friends to chat with, so I sat down and waited for the service to start. As I waited, a young woman came and sat beside me, with her head turned to a conversation. I knew what was coming and I waited …

Harvest time is hard work Credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 3

The U.S.A. just had an election and the whole world is talking about it. I live in Canada, so I don’t want to add to the discussion; Americans know how to manage their own country. Before we forget though, Donald Trump surprised the world by winning, and Hillary Clinton shocked her loyal followers by losing. Before the vote, he labored to convince the doubters to vote for him, and she convinced her friends to love her more. We had the same pattern where I live in 1992; Nancy Betkowski was an educated, sophisticated woman who was going to be our provincial leader. Her rival was Ralph Klein, a journalist who drank too much. At the leadership convention Nancy went to bed knowing she had the majority vote the next day. Ralph stayed up all night working the crowd and trying to convince his enemies to vote for him. Nancy appeared for her coronation the next morning, and we were all stunned when Ralph won the vote. He missed some sleep and worked very hard, and …

A church in Egge, Norway. Credit: Gert Andreas Barring/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 2

One man in Japan made himself famous for a few days in October. He is probably the most surprised, but a comedian named Piko Taro made a video and millions of people watched it. He is a viral one-hit wonder. There is one thing he did not do; he did not wreck the conversation. Mr Taro did some excellent teaching, even if we learned nothing. The conversation was phatic, the teacher opened the channel of communication and maintained it. You probably watched right to the end. Everything was presented well, from the lighting and camera focus, to his costume and smile, and his dance and song, and his enunciation, and more. Also, I am sure someone did some preparation. The only thing missing is a message. I am sure Mr Taro could have added an important message to his presentation, and the world would have listened. He could have convinced us of something, or asked for money. The video is now filled with other people’s promotions and additions. They will be selfish if he isn’t. …

Church in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland Credit: Glen Forde/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church, Part 1

In the modern world, we have a culture that is dying. Follow any election news and you know what I mean. Prosperous and democratic societies are severally stressed these days. If you follow political and social commentary, you know, we listen to intelligent comments from comedians. One comedian, Norm MacDonald, tried to get serious with another comedian who made fun of Christians. But really, we don’t get intelligent comments from comedians, we get entertainment. Sometimes the comedy is intelligent, but it’s only jokes to make us laugh. Many comedians are very good at what they do, but we should be concerned about what they don’t do. If there is a problem, it’s with us. There seems to be no interest in thinking, teaching, and learning to make things better. Someone told me recently; we have this amazing Internet so we can talk to anyone in the world, about anything, and solve any problem, but we send each other funny pictures of cats behaving badly. Entertainment rules; comedians sell us what we want to buy, and …

London, England Credit: Nick Kenrick/Flickr/Creative Commons

Predict the Future with Heinrich’s Triangle

Is Christianity dying? In the future, will the religion of Jesus even exist? Well, yes and no. One critical writer did an excellent job of explaining why Christianity is dying in the USA. Many years ago I led a church planting effort in a small town. Every Sunday morning I would get up early, walk to the bus depot, and ride about 100 miles to a small town. Our lowest attendance was two other people, and two cats. That happened many times, but eventually the group grew until a resident pastor could move in. But I am sorry to say, after a few years, in that very small town, the decision was made to close the church down. Imagine; all that effort for nothing! Herbert William Heinrich is one of the great pioneers of workplace safety, and many of his ideas were expressed with number ratios. He could predict your future with the numbers in his triangle ratio 300-29-1. Mr Heinrich was concerned about your chances of avoiding injury or death in the near future, …

Israeli Defense Forces involved in counter-terrorism training in Hebron, Credit/Israel Defense Forces/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Spiritual Lesson in Terrorism

Where will we be in five years? What are we building now? It is easy to predict the future for our families and marriages, jobs and businesses, and churches. I met a man recently who had a five year plan with his wife, and the plan was working. The whole family was prospering in changing times. This is a spiritual lesson we can learn from terrorists. Recently an angry man Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested for several terrorist bombings near New York City. Apparently he is typical of a new threat to us all a “lone wolf terrorist” who acts without ties to a larger group. Politicians are warning us that anyone, in isolation, can become a violent terrorist and hurt us all. I disagree. There is a lot of discussion about the threat of violence and terrorism and isolated lone wolves, and one side in the conversation believes that successful people always work with a team. One analyst wrote about Ahmad Rahami and the “misnomer” of the lone wolf. People never do great things …

Credit: Rosa Lynn A/Flickr/Creative Commons

People Who Pet Dolphins

Recently, Oscar winning actress Brie Larson apologized. In 2004, when she was 14, she petted a dolphin. Now she is building a successful career in Hollywood, and she has tried very hard to clear herself of any controversy. In this case, controversy is animal cruelty. Brie Larson is a dolphin petter. More correctly, she was a petter, as a child. Now she has apologized. Movie stars with fabulous careers have corporate teams of managers, publicists, and stylists; and a public apology indicates some alarm. This dolphin petting accusation seems to be a serious threat to someone. We live in interesting times. Now, the eternal and universal moral principles that underpin everything in society seem to last about a week. Tourists used to enjoy petting dolphins, and I remember when we were not offended by oil in pipelines, and when good electricity did not always come from windmills. A few days ago someone asked me to explain the words behind the acronym LGBT. We were having a conversation about transgender access to public washrooms. It’s hard …