Author: smcintos

Iran? Russia? and maybe China? What is happening to our world?

The news is getting scary. You have probably heard that people in Iran are demonstrating against their government, and things are getting violent. The news, where I live, is that an army base has been attacked. In Russia, there are other problems. We know about the Russian army attacking Ukraine, a close neighbor. It’s now a complicated story, and the Government of Russia is bringing compulsory military service, to keep their effort going. Apparently, people in Russia are not happy about this, and they are demonstrating in the streets. Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass. In China, things seem to be more peaceful, and there doesn’t seem to be a violent crisis. COVID lock-downs are still happening, but young adults are not getting married and having babies, and the population is declining. A younger generation of new adults is distracted by the stress of living, in their country. This may seem trivial, but over time, a smaller population will mean a smaller economy, and that will be a smaller …

Is organized religion dead? Are Christians history?

Have you heard that organized religion is in decline, at least in North America? Apparently, we are witnessing a huge increase in people who claim to have no religious membership, especially in the United States. This increase in “nones”, people with no religion, and a decline in religious memberships has been happening for at least twenty years. This is a cultural trend, and the decline may be happening in other parts of the world. In 2014, Rowan Williams the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury said that the United Kingdom was a post-Christian society. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, where organized religion also controls the government, a young woman, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, was arrested recently, by the religious Morality Police. She was not wearing a head covering. She was supposed to wear a correct head covering, as a Muslim woman, but many women in Iran want to drop that requirement from their lives. Mahsa was arrested and detained, and somehow, she died in custody. Possibly, the police were too aggressive. Apparently, the reaction against that expression …

Creation or Evolution? What are the fossils telling us?

Brasilodon: That sounds like the name for something old, like a fossil. Scientists recently analyzed fossil teeth from an ancient lizard skeleton, that was excavated in Brazil. In geological time, this little lizard lived when the first dinosaurs appeared, about 225 million years ago. The geological era is known as the Early Triassic, not long after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event, which seemed to allow the dinosaurs to dominate the Earth. According to scientists, that event was the greatest mass extinction ever. The estimate is that more than 70% of land animals and more than 90% of the species in the oceans, died out. The analysis of the tooth from a fossil Brasilodon showed something interesting. That little animal was not a lizard, it was a mammal. It is described as “shrew-like” which means it was the size and shape of a rat. So, why does this matter? This information is Earth-shattering. One little animal, that looked like a rat, could change our understanding of where life came from. Darwin would struggle to explain this …

Exorcism, Casting Our Demons: Do we still do that?

Do you remember the movie “The Exorcist”? Did you watch it? That film is a horror movie from 1973. I am old enough to remember when everyone was watching it, and talking about it. Strangely, I have never seen the movie, but all my friends did. For a few weeks, they all became religious. To help us remember, here is a video trailer: That is scary! The whole point of a horror movie is to entertain us and to make a lot of money for the producers. I’m sure “The Exorcist” did both. It was the first horror movie nominated for an Academy Award, and the highest-grossing horror movie, until 2017. We are still entertained by exorcism stories. Recently, a news story came from a Bible Camp in Saskatchewan, Canada. At least one adult, and some boys at the camp, did an exorcism on one boy. So far, the police have investigated, but they have not brought criminal charges. Apparently, exorcism is not illegal in Canada. Some people from the Camp claim that they did …

The 3.5 Percent Principle. Are you tired of being ignored?

Do you have an opinion, about something? Do you feel like you are not being heard? Do you know how to make a difference? Use the 3.5 percent principle. There is an old saying, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Those are important words; if we don’t have a vision or goal, we are just wasting our time. We are going nowhere. Actually, the problem is worse than that. Without a vision, we perish. We do go somewhere; we travel backward to our own destruction. That old saying has been with us for thousands of years, in the Proverbs of the Hebrew Bible (Proverbs 29:18) If your life is not going somewhere, it is going somewhere else. You were born with a direction and forward motion. On the other side, what is the point of believing anything? Check the news feed on your phone. How many opinions do you see? How many of those ideas were not popular, a few years ago? We are flooded with opinions and radical ideas, and new moral …

Can church make us rich? The prosperity in the Gospel

We don’t hear the words “Prosperity Gospel” much anymore, but the idea is still with us. You might have heard the story of the pastor in Kansas City, who recently berated his congregation because they didn’t buy him an expensive watch. He asked in November, and he still didn’t have the watch by the following summer. One of his statements was like, “So I’m not worth your McDonald’s money?” He specifically asked for a Movado watch. I don’t operate at that economic level, and I had to read more to get the picture. A Movado is a very expensive watch. As a minister of the Gospel, the pastor believed he was entitled to some bling. Prosperity is a good thing, for God’s people. These days, there is always a person with a camera that can record videos. That’s not even a luxury anymore. The pastor’s lecture was recorded, and it went viral on the internet. He also apologized, a few days later. This is a lesson for us all; we can’t get away with anything: …

Camels on the Horizon? The Eve of Destruction?

You might have heard about the camels on the horizon. Lots of people are talking about it. The story is; that a Sheik in Dubai in the Persian Gulf region gave his opinion, in an interview, and his words of wisdom have caught the attention of people around the world. In summary: Hard times make resilient people, and those people fix social problems and make a better society. That easier life produces soft and whiny people, and they make things worse. It’s a cycle of repair and decay. Prosperity and good times, lead us to decay and destruction. People who like this message generally think we are in the soft and whiny stage, and destruction is near. Apparently, many Christian preachers are interested in the message. The Sheik of Dubai is like a wise prophet, to some people. Social cycles are normal, and predictable. And if that is true, we may be at the end of a prosperity peak. We may be on the eve of destruction. What do you think? I’m a Christian, and …

Reincarnation? UFOs? Ghosts? Do you believe?

1) Do you believe in reincarnation? I know a man, and when he was born, his grandmother held the new baby and said, “This one has been here before.” I don’t think there has ever been evidence to support that belief. He has never mentioned memories of a previous life, for instance, but the family remembers that story. His grandmother believed. Many people believe in reincarnation, or at least they are interested enough to investigate: 2) Do you believe in UFOs? When I was a boy, my big brother was very serious about UFOs. We called them flying saucers, and my brother found some interesting books. I was a good reader, and I learned a lot about UFOs and the people who believe in them. One Sunday, the pastor of our church told us all that those ideas were not true and that we shouldn’t believe in them. I think my mother put him up to that. We kept our ideas quiet, after that, but I did see ET when it came out. I also …

Did the Pope get it wrong? … or right?

Most of the world knows, now, that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church has just finished a visit to Canada. He is eighty-four years old, and sometimes he was transported in a wheelchair. I live close to some of the sites that he visited, and I know, the weather was hot. Apparently, he is now talking about retirement. So, what would motivate a man in his eighties, to travel to the other side of the world, and speak to huge crowds? The stadium, where he held a mass, holds about sixty thousand, and about fifty thousand attended the mass. The local authorities warned about traffic disruptions on major highways. The motivation was clear; there is a history of church-run boarding schools for native people, and the Pope now describes that as “genocide.” He traveled to Canada to apologize for something that his church did. He believes his church was wrong. Can we judge the Pope? Was he wrong? Or was he correct? Was it important for an old man to travel so far, and …

What should we do about the homeless?

We have a dangerous cult in our society, or possibly two working together. Have you met any homeless people lately? Mentally ill, drug addicts, and criminals; that is how most of us see homeless people. I live near a city center, and homeless people are being chased out of their usual neighborhoods by new construction. I think that is why so many are moving into our community. They come with shopping carts and tents, and they settle in public parks. One couple put their tent, and large amounts of personal property, in a corporate parking lot. Imagine coming to work in the morning, and your parking spot is occupied, by a family in a tent. The ‘personal property’ was probably salvaged from garbage bins. I think the problem is growing this summer because the weather is warm. Another driver of this issue is that people, who are not good personal managers, are being chased out of their homes by high costs. When rents go up and people are evicted, they look for a new place …

This is so boring; until they come for us

Are you familiar with the term “World View”? I usually click on something else, when I hear that in the news. This is one of those sleeper topics, that we ignore, and we pay a price later. The commentator with Fox News, Tucker Carlson, has been speaking about this, recently. He believes that Christians will be attacked because of different world views. He is correct, and we should know what he is saying. Let’s analyze: When you saw the words “Tucker Carlson” and “Fox News” you had an opinion, probably. You were either happy or unhappy. U.S. politics are very polarized, these days. If you didn’t feel anything, you might be Canadian. That is a picture of a worldview. We make small decisions and they grow into an orientation. The small things that we decide make us into the people that we are, they give us a world view. So, with a world view, you admire one person from one news source, or you have strong feelings the other way and you don’t like him. …

Deconversion: Do you want to quit?

I have deconverted. As a boy, I was raised in a strict religious family, and I knew exactly how to behave. I was not a rebellious boy, and I tried to follow the rules. Sometimes I failed, but usually, I lived to the standard of a good boy. The technical word for my religious experience is “sectarian.” I was not raised in anything like a controlling “cult.” I had one problem with my religion. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t feel the need to make a decision; I only had to conform. As I grew older, I had a faint nagging sense of doubt. Something kept telling me that I wasn’t being me. I was the person other people wanted me to be. If you want to know where this ended, I found my own way. I liked the idea of following Jesus, so I did that. I didn’t like just following the restrictions and rules of other people, so I found a new church and some new friends. I am still learning to be strong, …

Evolution: Do we have to believe?

We all know Charles Darwin, but have you heard about Darwin’s doubts? Apparently, Charles Darwin, with his theory of evolution, expected scientists to find evidence that proved his theory. He did not know how some parts of evolution occurred, but he expected the evidence to be found. Now, we have skeptics, who want to change Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Darwin lived and worked during the 1800s when religion was important and powerful. His famous book “On the Origin of Species” was published in 1859, and the world has never been the same. Religious people don’t like a theory that claims life is an accident, with no God to create it. Atheists see Darwin’s theory as settled or established science, and as proof that they are correct. For them, God did not create life, and they believe there is no God. It all fits for them. For believers, Darwin is a problem. Settled or established science means we really can’t question the ideas; they are accepted as facts by reputable scientists. I used to work in …

Is Jesus a Communist?: Join the […] revolution

Was Jesus a Communist? Some people believe that he was. You might have heard about “Liberation Theology” which was popular, and very powerful in Latin America, about fifty years ago. It existed mostly in the Roman Catholic Church, although the ideas spread to other Protestant groups. Liberation Christians tried to merge the ideas of Marxist Communism with what the Bible says about Jesus. Technically, it is impossible to call Jesus a Communist, or a political leftist. Karl Marx, who created Communism, was born in 1818, into a Jewish family that had recently converted to Christianity. He lived many centuries after the time of Jesus, and he never seemed to promote Jesus. He promoted his new idea, atheistic Communism. There is no clear connection between Jesus and Karl Marx, or the Communists who followed him. A Communist is an Atheist. Before the Communists were the French revolutionaries, who met in a National Assembly, apparently on a tennis court, around the year 1789. When the Speaker of the Assembly looked out over the members, it was clear …

Modern Morals: Yes, they are coming for the children

Are you angry? I can make you angry. Some opinions are extreme these days, and it is easy to be offended. One of the hottest new topics is the indoctrination of children to new moral standards. Our church had a summer VBS, a Vacation Bible School when I was a boy. We mostly had fun, and someone was very generous with the prizes for memorizing Bible verses. I remember large chocolate bars, that I had never even seen before. My brother told me to memorize, and memorize more, and I could have an amazing prize. I was diligent, I worked hard at memorizing, and just before I reached the pay-out day, a story broke in our city newspaper. The church was accused of bribing and indoctrinating children with unreasonable amounts of candy. In those days, that kind of influence over children was forbidden. The church immediately canceled the reward program. The issue was settled quickly, but there was one casualty of that war. One boy did not get the obscene amounts of chocolate, that he …

Should women stay home and raise children? Are you outraged by the question?

I did not know, but I have learned, recently, that there is an argument about women these days. The argument that surprised me is whether women should work in careers, out of the home, or if they should stay at home and raise children. Apparently, this is a fierce argument, for some people. Who knew?: So, what are the best answers? a) No b) Yes c) How dare you ask the question? No: Feminists struggled for decades to liberate women, and they should be free to work in careers and to make money, just like men. I think we know the rest of the story … Yes: A woman should build a family, with her husband. Families work better when the best nurturing partner stays home to raise the next generation. I think we know that old story … What?: How can I write about this topic, in this year? Haven’t we progressed past these old arguments? What is my best answer? We need to see our sickness. We have a bigger problem: our need …

Repent of your white privilege: Is racism the original sin?

You have probably heard of “whiteness” the offense of being part of the dominant majority, that discriminates against minorities with different skin colors. If we consider the whole world, light-skinned people, whose ancestors came from Europe, including people who still live in Europe, form a large minority. In the world community, Asia and Africa have huge populations. I remember learning in school, about the explorers who sailed from Europe and conquered and settled North and South America, and Australia and New Zealand. The new nations that grew from this prospered and sometimes dominated the world. In the southern United States and Brazil, and the Caribbean, large slave populations were imported from Africa. From that division of society, Europeans and Africans, racism tends to be defined by skin color. The United States had a violent civil war, and many civil-rights protest movements. “Whiteness” and “White Privilege” were ideas that fuelled academic discussions. Now, with protest groups like “Black Lives Matter” that protest against “Whiteness” and try to change it, the argument has gone public, and onto …

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: What happened to kindness?

We have all heard some news about legal problems between two famous movie stars, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Before I continue, I have a disclaimer: I don’t want to criticize anyone who is involved in this trial. I feel sorry for them, and I hope they find a better way, when it’s all over. Those two movie stars have a problem that we all have, but their argument has become world news. I’m talking about the place where they find themselves because we can all go there. And the problem is; kindness is a weakness, you have to be cruel to survive in an adversarial battle. Sometimes, offense is the best defense. The lawsuits, between two rich people, have claims for millions of dollars, many millions. Also, if either career is damaged, the financial losses could be huge. The public, like you and me, won’t pay money to watch movie stars we don’t like. The stakes are high. Two people are in a legal battle where they must discredit the other. A few years …

Gaslighting: Are you being manipulated?

You have probably heard the word ‘gaslighting’ but most of us are not clear about what it means. I walked to a mall this morning, to get a haircut. On this busy day, the lady who usually cuts my hair, let me in without an appointment. That was nice. In the chair, I listened as she talked about a problem in her life, and I could relate. We all have the same issue, sometimes. She was being gaslighted. She and her husband are divorced, I think, recently. I don’t know the reasons, but he has accused her of many things and blamed the marriage breakdown on her. It gets worse when he drinks. It’s all her fault. She is sure that she did not do the things he accuses her of, but he has spread the stories to all their friends. Now, she is avoiding people because she is tired of defending herself. If she proves that she is not guilty of something, he can easily make a new story. I don’t want to take …

Religion is changing in Brazil: Where are we now?

Education is history. Most of the things that we learn are things that happened, and now we can look back and analyze them. That usually works, but some experts claim that the world population today is equal to all the people who lived before, all the way back to the Stone Age. We can’t prove that, but we are living in history, and it’s good to know how the world is changing around us. Whatever we think about religion, the old stories are being replaced by new ones. Religion, in the world, is nothing like what we saw in history. Modern people want something new now, and religion cannot be controlled. One example is China, governed by a Communist Party. In modern times, religion in China is supposed to be mostly for old people. The younger generation is supposed to be modern and secular, and mostly Atheist. It’s not easy to track religion in an officially Atheist country, but experts estimate that about eighty percent of the population practices some religion, and about seventy-five percent …

Prove to me that God Exists … or not

Can you prove that God exists? Did you ever have that argument, on either side? I am writing as a Christian, but I think some of the arguments miss the point. Most people in the world believe in God, or gods. Most of us are religious. Imagine an Atheist challenging anyone, in any religion with this demand “Prove to me that God exists!” Is there an answer? Anywhere? This is critically important. It’s the foundation of who we are, and we should not base our lives on something with no foundation. Some people argue that God does not exist, and they also argue that God could not possibly exist. Here is an example. Other people argue that God does exist, such as we see here: READ: Does God Exist? So, when we are challenged, what do we say? For me, “we” is mostly Christians, but anyone who believes in any god, or gods, should think about this. Why do we bother? How do we answer the challenge? Some people need to build a better foundation. …

Have you ever won a religious argument? Brace yourself.

So, have you won a religious argument lately? I have not. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and I have an aversion to strife. There are probably times when I should speak up, but I just don’t want the consequences. We live in contentious times, with issues like Climate Change, COVID, war in places like Ukraine, and what did I leave out? … maybe religion and evolution, or sexual orientation. If you are religious, you believe something. I am a Christian, and what I am, includes many things that I am not. What I believe includes things that I don’t believe. If I am everything, I am nothing. The old joke for young church women in a church to say “We don’t smoke, and we don’t chew, and we don’t date the boys who do!” That is a very old joke. If you want to see a political argument mixed with religion, here is a good example: I don’t know the political topic, but the speaker is very articulate. It is easy to disagree …

Preachers and Truckers: Have you been persecuted yet?

So, have you been persecuted, recently? Persecution is “the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook.” READ: Persecution (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) I recently read a news story about a Christian pastor in India who was arrested and charged, something about not respecting other religions. He talked about Christian things in his Christian service, and the police arrested him; in India! I tried to find the story again, and I couldn’t. There were too many stories like it: Where I live, some people who opposed COVID restrictions claim that they were persecuted for their beliefs. Whatever we think about COVID protests, we can see the mechanism of persecution. People with ideas that threaten power can be punished and silenced. Imagine telling the authorities to slash vehicle tires. You don’t have to imagine that: READ: Free speech becomes roadkill in the crackdown on Canadian truckers And here is another crackdown: So, peaceful democratic countries have the potential to persecute people. Persecution is a normal part of life, in most places. …

Creation? Are we still talking about that?

Are you a Creationist? Do you believe that God made this world? Or do you believe that it all evolved? And what about Noah and his ark? The opening words of the Bible are “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) We don’t have many options. Science is on the side of evolution, and religion is on the side of God and creation. It is hard to be on both sides at once, and the Bible falls apart if we remove the part where God started it all. I am a Christian, and I know that this topic divides people. I am concerned about the stressful times we are in, now, with a COVID Pandemic, and a war in Ukraine, and who knows what is coming next. I believe we should pray and ask God for help and direction. That God is the one who created the Universe. I also believe we need to get back to the God who made us, and we should read the owners’ manual. But, …

Critical Race Theory: What should we think?

Are you oppressed? Do you feel like a victim, or does your family have some sad stories in its history? Or, do you see yourself as privileged? Are you and others like you better off than other groups of people? For most of us, the answer to the first question is ‘yes.’ We can find some story of how our family went through hard times, and struggled. The answer to the second question is probably ‘no’ for most of us. We don’t feel privileged in our modern, stressed-out times. You have probably heard of “CRT” or “Critical Race Theory.” This is an extension of Critical Theory, which is, in my opinion, the best description of Leftist or Progressive thinking. Critical Theory forms the basis for Marxism, also known as Communism. Communists often had violent revolutions because of their core belief that the problems of the world need to be fixed with radical change. “Change” might be a violent revolution, or an election victory, but it brings a revolution, things change. If we believe that there …

Follow the science: Does religion interfere with progress?

Does religion get in the way? Is progress mostly from people with no religion? Should we just follow the science? Here is a quiz. See how many of these expressions you can understand without looking in a dictionary: Devotions Mark of the beast Spirit filled Back slider Born again Pentecost Charismatic Sanctified Resurrection New testament How did you do? Your score out of ten can show how religious you are, in traditional religion. If you scored eight or more, you are probably a regular and long-time church-goer. A low score probably means you are modern; people don’t know much about old-time religion these days. So, are we losing our religion? Is God disappearing from this world? Are we following science more, and superstition less? Yes, maybe, and no. Researchers looked at Americans and their religion, and they found a division. We are not all travelling together anymore. What we all think is not a question now. Religious people have hardly changed, and they would probably score high on the quiz. People who are not religious …

What? There is no unity in Unity … (Saskatchewan)?

What is the world coming to? There is a town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, named Unity. I was there once. I remember a nice hotel, and we stayed overnight. There is a local salt mine, and I also learned, in a previous career, that the mine is used to store small amounts of radioactive waste. When we visited, it seemed like a nice place, and the name “Unity” does not usually get mentioned in the news. Now there is a news story about Unity. According to some people, Unity is divided. There is no unity in Unity. The problem seems to be stress about COVID restrictions and vaccines. One angry statement was posted online about the unvaccinated in Unity; they should “go out there and get sick and die.” So, a group of residents has asked the town council to pass a bylaw against discrimination, including prejudice because of personal medical decisions. That usually means a person is not vaccinated against COVID. Some people in Unity want the discrimination and harassment to stop: …

Do you believe, really? How does God fit into our modern world?

How does religion make any sense? With no scientific proof, how do we know that any of that God-talk is true? How can we believe? I am writing as a Christian. I heard a preacher on the radio, recently, and he talked about the power of God. He made a good point; God is more than an argument. If we have some intellectual belief that we can discuss, we have nothing, and we will probably lose most of the arguments. God must have power in our lives. The Bible uses strong language. If the power does not save us from death “our preaching is useless and so is your faith … [and] we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15: 13 and 18) Without the power of God, we are world-class fools. If you want to see an intellectual argument against believing: Christopher Hitchens was a Marxist who argued against all religions. We can see his skills in the video. Believers cannot win enough of those arguments. If we only have …

The Antichrist, 666, and … the Truck-Apocalypse

Are we at the end of the world? Did COVID and vaccine mandates start the beginning of the end? Are those Canadian truckers part of the new wave? Maybe. You have probably heard about the truck drivers in Canada who are protesting against government restrictions. The government claims that they are a small fringe group, and most of the population does not agree with them; they are a fringe minority expressing unacceptable views do not represent the majority. That is the common position for most of the media, and politicians. A recent opinion survey asked people in Canada what they thought about the protest convoy, and almost eighty percent claimed to support it. We have some trucks with flags and loud horns, where I live, and I saw some people on an overpass bridge with flags and signs, waiting for a local convoy to pass. There are reports, in some places, that the convoys stretched for miles. This is too big to ignore. READ: Trucker convoy: Blaring horns, cheers as hundreds descend on Parliament I …

So much COVID: Do you still believe in God?

How was your life in early January? We had severe cold weather and something like a blizzard. Cars didn’t like to start, and I spend part of my working days outside. Yes, it was cold. My required COVID mask made my breath vent up to my forehead, and the moisture froze to my hair. I had the strange problem of combing ice out of my hair, all day. And yes, I had to wear a mask to protect from COVID, outside, at minus thirty, with only one other person in the area. That other person also had to wear a mask. It gets ridiculous, and we have been warned by the medical authorities that we will all be infected with the Omicron variant of COVID; we just don’t know when that will happen. Where I live, we are no longer told that vaccines will prevent COVID. The new motivator is that vaccines may reduce the severity of symptoms when we do get sick, and we will get sick. The goalposts are shifting. I could rant …