I know we grow weary of the bitter exchanges between both camps on what happened during this election. I apologize in advance that I’m probably not going to help that. However, I would like to offer my take on the election shenanigans as I propose a different scenario.

First, I’m going to quote what I heard Trey Gowdy say on Fox, “What the Democrats did is reprehensible, but it is likely legal.” Don’t shoot me for Fox News. I’m sort of forced to watch it every workday in our breakroom. Gowdy went on to add that the courts are mostly going to look at whether the state legislatures made the decision on how ballots worked this cycle and did the state abide by those legislative decisions. I’ll offer up that I mostly agree with Gowdy. Since I begin there and not with mass fraud, you may then peruse my view of what happened. Please realize some of this is just my assumptions from observation. Please do not take this as actual fact.

We begin with President Trump’s public diatribe against the mass mailing of mail-in ballots. As a bit of background, most states use mail-in ballots for those that are truly homebound for some reason. Those must be requested and can often have someone bring you the ballot to fill out and hand carry it back to an election drop-off or official. Yet, states were talking of mailing everyone on their voter registration list a mail-in ballot, requested or not.

While Trump missed it on the first take, blasting all mail-in ballots, he did finally correct himself. He stood against the mass mailing of ballots in order to minimize the effects of voting during the current pandemic. In theory, I also disagree with that move, but it is a state’s decision to do so. And, as long as it was the state legislature choosing to do so, it’s legal and constitutional.

This is where I think Trump got played. The Democratic National Committee (assuming I got DNC correct), possibly saw this coming. I propose they floated the idea out to state Democrat committees and caucuses to lean on the legislatures to run the election this way.

It is fairly common knowledge that voter turnout in recent decades has been trending down. Just google it and look it up. Fewer and fewer people each election cycle are the ones choosing elected officials. There are all kinds of reasons put forth, but the one I’m hinging my assumption on is that it is too difficult. And, to be honest, for the Tik-Tok age, it is. Why can’t we just push a button on our phone and vote? That’s the question.

Enter the DNC and Democratic states that found a way to almost do that; mass mailing ballots to everyone on a voter registration list. To be fair, this is where I have a difficulty with the idea. Current voter registration lists are atrocious. Again, don’t believe me, google it. In my memory, when my county or state starts to talk of cleaning up voter registration lists, there is such a hew and cry about accidental disenfranchisement that it never happens. There are unqualified voters on those lists. There are deceased folks on those lists. Mass mail those out and you don’t know what is going to happen. But, this year, it happened in quite a few states. They mailed them to every address listed in the rolls.

And, it worked. If someone that hasn’t voted in ages has a ballot plop in their mailbox and all they need to do is choose and mail it back in–what do you think they did?

What is my evidence? The state of the count on election night, which mostly had those that voted in person. It wasn’t horrible. Trump could have still won. But once the mail-in ballots were counted, slowly, it all turned. I had also heard the report that many of those mail-in ballots only had the presidential choice made and no down ballot choices. If you’ve never voted and don’t think it matters, are you going to look long and hard at races from the local level you don’t know? Probably not, but the media has fed you a constant and consistent stream of the President’s wrongdoings. You know whom you hate and you chose the other guy.

To conclude, the Democrats pushed a voting method on the back of a pandemic, knowing that it likely could turn the tide. They made it easy for all those disenchanted voters that don’t normally vote to cast a ballot without doing anything except going to the mailbox. President Trump said as a candidate that he was smart for not paying taxes. Seems the Democrats got smart on how to beat Trump.

Immigration, both legal and illegal, has been a major topic of public and political discussion for some time. This is not anything really new. These United States were born by immigration and the addition of new immigrants to our Melting Pot has been a source of pride and strength. The sum of our parts is greater than the arguments we have. Yet, it would be untrue to say that immigration of any kind has been a bed of roses, regardless of time period. So, while I sit here at my writing group, I’ll go through why I think like I do about immigration.

My fundamental beliefs about immigration come from three areas, my faith, my experiences, and my citizenship as a Texan. My faith as a believer in Christ compels me to treat all people as family, regardless of their race, color, or ethnic nature. I grew up with kids of all colors. I don’t care about your color or your race. I care about your character. Christ said that He had flocks in places his listeners didn’t know. God told Moses to remind the Israelites they were once strangers in a strange land and to treat the foreigner well.

In 1999 and 2000, I made four trips to Honduras as a team helping folks that were impacted by Hurricane Mitch. I encountered people that were hard-working people of character and faith. In turn, they treated us as family and honored guests. I learned that any person looking for a better life deserves our help instead of our derision.

Texas holds a fairly unique place in American history. It began as a part of the Spanish Empire and later as Mexico. Settlers were required to become Mexican citizens and to convert to Catholicism in order to receive a land grant. When the trouble with Santa Anna broke out, there were not just white settlers that rebelled, but Mexican residents of Texas as well. These are Tejanos. Our culture in Texas has been Hispanic since day one. To those that have a problem with this idea, get bent. Not sorry.

Logic and pragmatism do require me to note that we area a nation of laws and if a person comes illegally, then they are an illegal alien. Capture will get them a ticket back. However, if we are lax on enforcement, especially enforcement against those that actively employ an illegal alien, then we get what we deserve.

It is true that the quantity of illegal aliens working in certain fields has caused a problem where native citizens cannot gain employment. But, this does more than just depress wages. It also allows unscrupulous employers to mistreat illegal aliens. Remember, regardless of their status, these are humans. If we allow mistreatment or exploitation, we are all at fault. We are also at fault for constantly wanting cheaper products and services.

However, I think we could do better. Why not give folks at the border that aren’t criminals and don’t have records a temporary visa, say 30 days. If they can locate a job in thirty days, then they can become residents, not citizens. They can work, but they will pay income taxes. They will also be covered by our minimum wage laws and other labor protections. In this manner, it evens out the ability for native citizens to find jobs and will make mistreatment a crime. Since most of our health insurance comes via our jobs, then they will be covered just like the rest of us.

Some would say, “But we can’t support that many people!” To that, I will use my favorite Texan word: bullshit. We already are supporting that many people. They just have to live in the underworld as illegal aliens. If we can enroll them as working residents, then they would be paying taxes (a common complaint) and their care and such would be provided the same way we do. And, if you are a believer in Christ, do you really have so little faith in your Lord that He won’t provide?

This is what I think. People that need work and a place to grow compel us to find a way to solve the problem, not complain and vote for harsh measures. My faith compels it. Logic and pragmatism show that we could make it work for most of us. That is, assuming we aren’t just looking for scapegoats to blame instead of taking responsibility for our problems. But, that is a different story.

After my travels this week, I never want to hear another anti-gun person comparing their wishes for more gun control laws with the laws we have in the US on vehicles. Nothing shows the failure of laws to regulate the use of firearms than the lack of obedience in following laws placed on vehicles and their use.

It is popular among the anti-gun crowd to compare their wishes for more gun control laws with the laws and regulations on vehicles.

Cars and trucks are dangerous, therefore:

  • One must earn a license to drive.
  • Cars must be registered, inspected, and maintained to certain levels.
  • Cars require the owner to carry insurance to cover injury and damage to others.

While drivers of all types must, allegedly, earn a license to drive, it doesn’t show in their actions. The comparison to firearms is that if a person must go through an extensive training and licensing program, there would be fewer shootings. The counter is that criminals don’t obey laws; therefore, would skip the licensing and training, as do still a significant portion of drivers.

I see few people on the roads that actually drive correctly. The incidences of drivers watching their cellphones is astounding. While many do drive near the speed limit, the quantity that disobey speed limits boggles the mind. They disobey not by a few miles per hour, but can blow your door off when you are doing the limit of 70 mph!

It’s a limit, people! Does no one understand that? It’s not a suggestion. In calculus, a limit is a line or point that you never can touch, just approach. But, I digress.

Yes, we are all supposed to have our cars registered and inspected (which also means maintained), the quantity of unregistered cars and trucks is still high, including a business in false inspection stickers.

Nearly every state requires either vehicle liability insurance or proof of the ability to pay for damages in an accident. Yet, even in states requiring insurance, many do not carry insurance, and many that do have the minimum do so in such a manner as to make the insurance useless.

These failures to comply with state vehicle laws are not difficult to discover. If you are a driver, you probably see a great deal of disobedience to the laws no matter where you live. Statistics on compliance with vehicle laws are available on the Internet, easily. If there is this much disobedience in following the laws about vehicles, how can it be used as a comparison for additional gun control legislation?

It can’t. It completely exemplifies what most gun owners (and even some that don’t own guns) already know: criminals don’t obey laws. And, yes, failure to obey vehicle laws, no matter how minor one thinks they are, makes one a criminal. Because, you can’t legislate good behavior.

If someone wants to kill, maim, or destroy, he or she is going to find a way to do so. Lack of firearms access doesn’t make the violent less violent, it only diminishes the ability of others to defend themselves. This is part of why we have a second amendment in the Constitution. We all have a natural right to defend ourselves against violence, whether that is in the form of another person, a foreign invader, or oppression from our own government. I do hope we never need the last two measures, but the first is quite common.

Good, moral people with a solid ethic will obey the laws they are given. Lazy, indifferent, or violent people will disobey. That’s overly simplistic, but makes it easier to diagram. Our laws work post-event, to punish the one that disobeys. That’s how our system works and for good reason. It assumes we are moral people and will observe certain norms of behavior. The law assumes you are a good person and doesn’t infringe upon your right to be free.

Now, vehicles on the other hand. Sheesh!

Today, y’all will get a two-fer. I have already intended another post, which I’ll write in a bit. However, something popped up on my Twitter time line this morning that I would like to say something about. It concerns religion. My religion.

A disclaimer: If this isn’t your thing, no problem. To someone on the outside of the debate, it may seem petty. I completely understand. It is petty and I would prefer not to say anything. I could be silent, but then I take the risk that someone in our faith that doesn’t know would be affected.

But, one might say, “Awful judgmental aren’t you? Aren’t you commanded not to judge others?” This is a valid statement. However, scripture does say that we will judge each other in regards to things of the faith. And, I’ll try to do it politely. So, here goes.

The above is a twitter item from a Terri Green. Her tweet was retweeted into my time line from someone I follow. For the record, the tweet is from February. The video with the tweet doesn’t show here, but I believe the link to the video clip works. I’ll describe the video.

It was a short clip of several pastors, one of which is JD Greear from North Carolina, participating in a youth event. They were doing a lip sync to a Whitney Houston song, I believe one of them said. There was some dancing around the stage. There was no nudity, profanity, animal sacrifices or anything I would consider out of the ordinary at a youth event. It seemed silly and corny, but what do I know. I’m old.

I’m just going to respond in one simple way: David danced.

Not me. That’s King David. My wife has tried twice to get me some dancing lessons and it’s been a dismal failure. But, King David danced before the Lord (2 Samuel 6). He was unrestrained and undignified. I say that because his wife criticized his undignified dancing in the streets of the city where all the maidens could see. David’s response, “I’ll dance even more undignified than this.”

Miriam danced. The Psalms call for music. The first century believers had hymns (some recorded in Paul’s letters; see Philippians). A small number of secular quotes made it into the text of the New Testament. And, around the throne of the Living God there are always songs of praise, adoration, and rejoicing, all the time.

I don’t know what Terri Green’s beef is; whether it is the dancing or the secular revelry by pastors. I really, really don’t care. I still don’t see the problem. So, I’ll just continue on playing my bass; rock and roll when I can, hymns and praise at church as I’m called, and not worry about the rest. Sucks to be a stick in the mud, methinks.

I was sitting at lunch yesterday in our break room listening to the constant banter about the Bayer lawsuit situation. Bayer bought up Monsanto, it seems, and then Monsanto got hit with lawsuits concerning a product they make, Round-Up. It’s a herbicide. I’ve used it. Works well.

Apparently, it’s more dangerous than just being a poison and because Bayer is now the parent company, they get to deal with the lawsuits. My colleagues tend to be a conspiracy thought tank and they were waxing on the evil of both Monsanto and Bayer. It grew very tiresome and I eventually left.

I’m not going to comment on this situation or take it into great detail. However, it did bring to mind an issue that we deal with today, and have for a while; government regulation of businesses that do dangerous things.

On the one hand, you have the businesses (usually quite large corporations) that say, “We know what we are doing. Your regulations and controls are stifling our business because it costs too much to comply with all of them.”

On the other hand, you have John Q. Public saying, “We don’t trust you because you all have bad track records.”

Both sides of the coin are true. Business works on one premise: make profit and all of it you can. They want to spend as little as possible on the production of a product so that the profit is as high as possible. It’s less expensive to not use the environmental and safety controls and processes required to really do the job safely and protect the environment in which we all live. The track records of many large chemical, petrochemical, and radiation businesses is dismal, Three Mile Island, RSR Smelters, Love Canal, and others.

Our forefathers in America believed in capitalism and we still do, and should. Capitalism works and provides a lot of economic power for the USA. I can’t prove this, but somehow, I still think that our forefathers were honorable people that had a code of ethics to follow concerning how a person should do business. I don’t think that most would be pleased at the disregard for human safety and life when businesses make decisions (injury and death have occurred, including increases in cancer rates). I know even much of that was coming apart through the middle and late nineteenth century. Hence, the labor laws and antitrust laws of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are the result of how businesses acted during that time.

Since that time, we’ve seen a steady increase in governmental regulations concerning safety of people and environments near these businesses, and of their products. We don’t use DDT anymore. We don’t use Mercurochrome anymore. Ford no longer makes the Pinto. Some of the mistakes a business may make in the development of a product are not intended at first. However, when someone discovers a problem with a product or business action, that’s where bad things can escalate.

There is a logical reason for why this adversarial nature exists between government and business. As background, we first need to ground in our thinking that the government is “us”. The US government is not an “other” looking out for the public, it is the public. Then, we have to understand the nature of the large corporation. Our Supreme Court gave us a clue in a recent decision on campaign funding and voting rights when it declared “corporations are people, too”.

While, legally, this equation may be true, one must examine what kind of person a corporation really is. Under many of the things we know now, a corporation would be amoral (no concept of right or wrong) and a sociopath (no ability to feel for others). It would have some level of narcissism (vanity, feelings of self-superiority) and consider itself above reproach.

It’s possible my definition is overdone, but not by much. Detractors would say, “Wait, there are people in corporations. They would be capable of morality and compassion.” While true on some levels, I don’t give it much credence as a check on how the entity reacts. Corporations, like people, determine threats and mobilize resources to counteract those threats. They often tend to see government or public intrusion as threats to survival and use all available means to do so. Much of the reaction from a corporation comes from its leadership. That leadership, as explained in a previous post, is now very connected and enriched by the leadership’s position in the entity. I think this type of symbiotic relationship forces down any rebellion in the entity when people do wake up and see the damage done by the entity of which they are a part.

Yes, John Q. Public is right, business cannot be trusted to act in a moral and thoughtful manner in regards to decisions that affect the safety and welfare of the public or our environment. If we accept that corporations are people, then we should also accept that its amoral and sociopathic nature means the entity needs external controls on behavior in order to safeguard human life and where we all live. That is why I think that business needs regulation despite the fact that we live in a society where capitalism is our economic model.

Today was a hard day at work, so I’ll probably keep it brief on this post.  However, I do want to thank those of you that are reading these essays and interacting.  Even if readers do not agree with my beliefs, values, and observations, it’s still good to know someone is reading.

I wish to extend from the last post about wealth and status.  I pointed out the observations I made about the views of folks concerning those with little wealth.  I need to also examine my thinking about those with great wealth.

First, my faith is not anti-wealth.  Gaining wealth is biblical and there are plenty of examples of folks that were and are blessed by God with great wealth.  However, the scriptures are very clear that wealth is a distraction or an impediment to following God.  There are warnings across scripture on those that handle wealth poorly, especially by treating others badly.  It is important for one to recognize that wealth is from God, not just from personal effort.  This is the same as a farmer must view that the bounty of the land has more to do with God’s blessing than with hard work.

What I have observed over the past three decades is that the concentration of wealth is being placed in fewer and fewer hands. CEO’s of many companies now earn many times more than the average employee of the companies they lead.  Even CEO’s that fail at leading a company into prosperity often leave a bankrupted company with significant wealth.

In addition, we are learning of many ways in which large corporations seek tax cuts, property tax abatement, and have armies of accountants and lawyers to reduce tax liabilities to near zero.  They do this under the umbrella of ‘job creation’.  Look Mr. Mayor.  We’ll be bringing thousands of jobs to your city.  Give us thirty years property taxes for free and you’ll make it up on all the people we bring in. But, does it? Who is minding the store?

Please understand that I have no problem with paying my taxes, as long as everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE else is doing the same.  I’m not against tax cuts for those that can create jobs.  I’m not against tax abatement to sweeten the pot getting a new large business to move to town.  However, I am against companies and businesses effectively reducing their tax payments to minimal percentages of their total income thereby placing the burden on folks that earn a great deal less.  That’s not logical as a sustainable plan for the future, nor is it fair to the taxpayers as a whole.

But, then there is pragmatism.  One the one hand, yes, it would be wrong to force corporations and businesses to be more responsible taxpayers.  Taking the advantages that we’ve allowed them isn’t illegal, just distasteful. Yet, we’ve already seen this type of situation before.  Go and read of the Gilded Age of the turn of the 20th century.  The kinds of squalor that many lived in versus the opulence of the wealthy was stark.  That situation did lead to a rise in populism and eventually forcing the breakup of many monopolies.

So, where does that leave us?  I think the two best things we can hope for in bringing some common sense back to wealth is a mixture of good examples and at least some threat of negative legislation against the large corporations.  Sounds harsh, doesn’t it.

Believe it or not, I liken the problem to that of the Mafia.  You know them.  The criminals and crooks of the prohibition era and many still operating today.  We see them as petty thieves, thugs, and often murderers.  Yet, if you ask the Mafiosos how they see themselves, they’ll say they are just businessmen and you do whatever it takes to be successful in business.

I see a lot of those same similarities in businesses gaining wealth today.  They simply believe that doing whatever it takes to gain a profit is alright and they shouldn’t be fettered by anything like morals, ethics, or plain old generosity.  I don’t think that is the answer I’d like to give Jesus when He asks.  I better watch my P’s and Q’s as well.

If you are still here after the first two posts, you are either seriously interested or very bored. I’ll choose the first. It strokes my ego, but not my logic.

I am writing this on my Android tablet this evening since I started a very long task on my laptop. It won’t let me use it currently. So, we’ll see how this works out. Fortunately, my Sweetie has a very good bluetooth keyboard. Your luck is running out.

This evening, I’ll take the basics I laid out in Part 1 and Part 2 as I tell you why I think like I do about social issues. This will take several posts because I consider social issues to consist of things like wealth and status, immigration/inclusion/exclusion/racism, universal basic income, government intrusion/control/lack of same (you pick), and privacy and freedom. Please be warned that I might even add in some others as they pop up in the news.

But, for tonight, let’s just stick with why I think like I do about the social issues surrounding wealth and status.

I grew up and didn’t consider myself poor. My dad worked in an aerospace factory, laid off, called back, laid off again, ad infinitum. My mom worked in food service mostly, diners, fast food, and was even the manager of a Sanger-Harris cafeteria (Google that). I didn’t go hungry, but I also knew we weren’t rich.

I graduated high school and went right to work as an electrician’s helper. I was jaded on school, though I made good grades. It was expected. However, I wanted to do things and I had a family to support.

Long story made short, I am a craftsman, but also now a college graduate. I make good money, but I’m still not rich. I don’t count my value in what I own, but in family and character. We live modestly after learning the problems with credit. We are older now and have a few health concerns.

This is my background. Money has uses. Money is not a status symbol. I pay taxes and consider it worthy to do so. This is where I return to when I need to determine where I stand on any social issue concerning wealth and status.

Now, I want to list some assertions I hear concerning how some think about wealth and status then I’ll address each one.

  • If you can’t afford anything, stop spending frivolously (or making poor financial choices.
  • If you worked hard enough, you would be wealthy.
  • All these people want is free stuff from the government.
  • It’s not right to take money from those that are working to pay for those that aren’t.

I’m certain I’ve not exhausted the possible statements I’ve heard concerning wealth and status. Please remember these are general statements, not someone’s actual words (well, nearly not). I will apply the basics of why I think like I do to each of these (faith, logic, pragmatism).

If you can’t afford anything, stop spending frivolously. I know there are times I’ve spent money on things I didn’t need. Sometimes on credit. I’ve learned lessons from that (logic). Yet, even being frugal in this time period, it doesn’t help much. Yet, to insist that someone’s financial problems are just the result of poor choices is blindness and possibly arrogance.

There are so many reasons these days that financial situations are difficult. Wages aren’t rising at the same level as prices. Just in the past six months, I’ve seen gasoline prices in my area go from $1.99 per gallon to $2.75. A 75 cent increase in fuel can eat into one’s paycheck. There are also layoffs, companies merging, deaths, major illness, and other situations that create financial hardships.

If you worked hard enough, you would be wealthy.  This one is not made up.  I’ve heard it bandied about by many sources.  I could be the poster child for having worked hard “enough” all my life and still not be wealthy.  I will say that I’ve seen how “hard enough” people are expected to work in order to “make it” (please fill in success term of your choice).

There is nothing demeaning about an eight hour day.  There is nothing slacker about planning your day out (if you get to do that) so that you can finish at the proper time.  There is also nothing worthy about 60 to 80 hour weeks.  There is nothing worthy about skipping dinner with your family, four days out of five. The logic that longer hours means a harder worker and one worthy of success is bogus.

If an employee gets paid a salary, it still has an hourly wage.  Your salary in a pay period divided by the hours you’ve worked determines your hourly wage.  If you were paid weekly (yes, it’s rare these days, but I need simple math), then your weekly salary should be divisible by 40 hours.  If you have to divide a weekly salary by 60, then the hourly wage dips significantly.

Hourly wage earners, like myself, know that our hourly wage is a measure of how much we are worth on the job market (not in real life, just jobs).  If we work more than 40 hours, overtime and sometimes shift differential is also earned.  The hourly wage is not diminished.  If a salaried worker’s hourly wage is diminished by working more hours, then he or she is giving money to their employer.  That is a logical way to look at it.

All these people want is free stuff from the government. It’s not right to take money from those that are working to pay for those that aren’t. I’m going to take these two together.  It is a fallacy to believe that people supporting social programs, such as universal healthcare are just looking for free stuff.  Why?  Because I am one of those people (logic).  I’ll stick to universal healthcare since it’s important to me.  I don’t want “free stuff”.  I want to not worry about my current and future healthcare, which is currently operated in a completely broken system.  I also doubt the assertions of those saying other social programs just supply folks with “free stuff”.  In addition, we all pay taxes in order to provide for the common welfare (Constitution, preamble).  By my logic, if providing for those in need through our taxes, or fixing a problem that has grown out of proportion through our taxes, then we all come out better. Pragmatically, I know there are difficulties to overcome.  Not saying solutions are easy.

Let me introduce you to a tenet I will use as I address how I think about these kinds of issues: My faith says it is critical that we do what we can to provide for others. Logic says that the best method to help is through a large group combining resources. Pragmatism says that some will take advantage of a situation, since some even took advantage of Jesus’ generosity.  Pragmatism also says that some solutions might be too expensive for right now or that major changes in how we approach the issue need to be addressed.

I deduce that as a people group, we do not have the combined will to solve many of these issues.  We don’t want to tear down the structures we have now.  We are possibly afraid of losing comfort we have in things as they are now.  We do not want someone else to get something dishonestly or without putting out effort.

To these things, I’ll use a good old Texas word: bullshit.  We are at a crossroads in our history.  We are going to have to change the things we have in order to preserve our future.  My faith and logic tells me we all survive together or we all fail together.  Leaving someone out because of fear, however the fear is defined, is wrong.  Please hang on.  You will likely hear these things from me quite a bit.

However, I believe we can change.  I believe that the resources are there.  I serve the God of the Universe.  Do you really think He can’t provide what we need to be successful?  I know He can, but as my grandfather would tell me, “We have to want to.”

I guess it is appropriate that I write down why I think like I do about religion on a Sunday. No, religion didn’t come up first in my list, but since it influences how I think on the others, then I should put it first.

Before we begin, I need to make a disclaimer and a warning. The way I look at my faith and religion is my own journey. It may not look like yours and it probably shouldn’t. It probably doesn’t match with many of my family or my peers. It probably doesn’t match with any denomination in particular (more on that part in a minute). I’m sharing something that is deeply personal. I don’t like to do so because many will judge. Yes, they will. You might not, but many will. Therefore, be warned and be careful. I will probably make the most enemies or bother the most people with this discussion.

There are those that say religion is made by man and (insert opposite comparison here). I have trouble ending that statement because it makes no sense.

So, I generally reject that notion, and I don’t reject it. Religion, or theology, is how humans see their relationship to the divine. How we see that relationship is also influenced by people. Even a good reading of the Bible shows that while those that followed God tried to do so honestly, some did it in a dishonest manner. When humans get something in religion wrong to the point of injuring other humans, please don’t blame that on God. Blame that on humans because all of humanity is fallen and able to miss the mark (sin) even in following God.

I will start by saying that I follow Christ as the only way to redemption and inclusion in God’s kingdom. That being said, I respect other religions and their right to exist. It goes along with my citizenship in the United States that also holds the Constitution in high regard. While I might compare my path and journey in following God with another religion, I don’t belittle or demean another religion. That would be unfair. I will, though, hold out my reservations on the motivation or values of another religion based on what I do know and understand of said religion.

However, today, I am not here to discuss how I think about all other religions. That would take more bits and bytes (and hours of typing) than I care to spend. Primarily, I’m going to look at how I think about my theology of following Christ.

There are many methods to examine how one thinks about their walk with God. I think that is part of why we have so many denominations in Christianity. By observation, I do think that denominations (Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, Restorationist, Reformed, etc.) are the product of humans. But, and this is a big ‘but’, I don’t think that is a bad thing. If one examines the development of the early church from Jesus, through the Acts of the Apostles and the apostolic writings, Christians aren’t given a great deal of commandments in how to organize and become community. In some respects, I think that is a good thing. Yet, declaring that my stream of Christianity (denomination) is superior to yours would be wrong. So, I am going to use a concept I learned in systematic theology to allow you to see how I think about my walk and you can compare it with yours.

Before I begin, please allow me to state one thing about my faith that is highly important. There is one centrality to being a Christ-follower: through faith, we believe in the life, teachings, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as our Savior. Everything else is what Paul called ‘disputable matters’. I won’t be debating or comparing what I think to any one denomination.

In systematic theology, we try to look at several different theologies and then we can have a ‘system’ that facilitates comparison to other religions, denominations, or just to other people’s faith walk (but only if they are willing). This system is not to be construed as the only way or even the right way. It’s just a tool to use and I think it helps reduce things to something understandable (logic).

These different theologies are:

  • Anthropology – What is man’s place in relation to God and other men (substitute humans if you wish).
  • Biblical theology – What is the Bible’s place in our belief in God? What is it’s role or function?
  • Hamartiology – What is sin? What are its consequences?
  • Cristology – Who is Jesus? What makes Him important in our life and world view?
  • Ecclesiology – What is the role and place of the church? What constitutes church?
  • Soteriology – What is the manner of salvation or redemption? How are we made acceptable to God.
  • Pneumatology – What is the role and place of the Holy Spirit?
  • Eschatology – What will the future be like? What will happen?

Now, if I can do so simply and without rattling on, I will fill in these areas with my own thinking.

  • Anthropology – As described in Genesis, all of humanity is fallen. Our predilection is towards evil and violence, taking advantage of others. As the Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes, “The sum duty of man is to serve God.” Yes, simplistic, but my logic will always move towards fewer words than more to describe something. Humans are created by God, though there are elements of the historical and archaeological record that say we don’t know exactly how it all took place in detail.
  • Biblical theology – The 66 books that make up our Bible are the revelation of God to humans in order that they can know of Him and Jesus, how to be in relation to God and other humans, and how God works through humans to accomplish His ministry. We learn from scripture that God is sovereign and the only way to salvation and eternal life. The bibles we have are all translations of original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. God inspired the original writers (and at least a few editors) to write in their language and culture to their audiences. We must use the same Holy Spirit to interpret what the writers meant in their day to their audience and draw forward principles that can cross the time and cultural gap. We should also pay attention to the genres we read. Poetry doesn’t often command us to do something. Read commands as commands, history as history, and figurative language as figurative.
  • Hamartiology – Sin means to “miss the mark”. The mark is the standard of righteous living in order to be acceptable to God. The Israelites couldn’t do it (read Judges for a start). The first century Jewish nation couldn’t do it (Jesus told them their following of the law would have to surpass even the Pharisees). We can’t do it. Sin’s consequence is eternity separated from God, and often earthly consequences as well.
  • Cristology – Jesus is the Son of the Living God, present since the beginning, and the Word through which all things were made (John 1). Jesus was born of a virgin in fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah). His goal was to sacrifice himself in fulfillment of the Law (the Scapegoat) and He accomplished this by dying on the Roman cross. Death could not hold Him and He rose on the third day and later ascended into heaven to return again.
  • Ecclesiology – The church is the community of God. It includes (on the local level) all those that make the attempt to follow Christ (some have accepted Christ, some may not have, yet), and on the world level, all the redeemed of Christ in community wherever they are. Very long sentence, yes. Sorry. The church’s function is to spread the gospel (message) of Jesus and His wish to save all humanity. The church is also to be ‘salt and light’ in the world. Salt and light means to be a beacon for compassion, inclusion, advocacy, and helping others regardless of belief. While the church is in the world and often part of a given nation or culture, it is called by the Master, Jesus to not conform to the culture or nation if that conflicts with following God. We are not supposed to look or act like the locals. We are not to confuse obligations to the state with service to God, yet, we are at all times called to be good citizens.
  • Soteriology – My salvation is through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and accepting His forgiveness of my sins. I show this through consenting to baptism, regularly reading and studying the Bible, prayer, doing my best to live as He wills, and being in communion with Him and other believers as part of a local church. Yet, none of these practices are acts of salvation, only faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is salvation.
  • Pneumatology – Jesus told His followers that a Counselor would be sent after He went back to the Father. I believe this. Jesus said the Spirit would reside in us and affirm His salvation. I believe this. Jesus said His followers would do much more than He did. Through the actions of the Holy Spirit, I believe this. The Spirit guides me, prays for me, speaks to me (often through scripture and other believers).
  • Eschatology – Parts of the gospels, some of Daniel, a little of Paul’s epistles (letters), and much of John’s revelation speak to us of what will happen in the future and at the end of time. There are several ways to look at this material, each one has its pros and cons. My thinking after reading this material is that the “last days” began when Jesus ascended, continues through today and until He returns. When Jesus returns, evil will be destroyed, the saved in Christ will be transformed (the living) or raised from death to live with Him for eternity. At that time, the new Jerusalem will be brought into being as the centrality of Christ’s eternal reign.

This may have gone a little long, sorry. It is not the total sum of what I think about religion and theology. But, it lays out a way of looking at what I think in a rational manner. Try it yourself and wrestle with each item as to what do you really believe. If I made you think, good. If you’re mad at me now, you’ll probably get over it. These are many of the things I think about my walk with Jesus. For the record, I don’t get it right a lot of the time either. I’m still a work in progress. Until later, blessings.

A friend recently challenged me about why I think as I do.  I was stunned a bit when asked, as I often ask that of others, but don’t often have it asked of me.  It’s not a bad request.  We should know why we think like we do.  I consider myself an individual and not part of the mob; just being carried along.  Therefore, I consider it a good thing to make myself really look at why I think (or believe) as I do.  Since I find it better to do such a thing with writing instead of speaking, this series of posts (yes, there will be many) will be about why I think as I do.

Today, I’m just going to cover the basics.  What are the foundations of my way of thinking and how does that influence all the other many concepts and issues that make up the me, myself, and I.

The basics of my thinking exist in my belief system as a follower of Christ, logic, pragmatism, and the heart. 

I’ll interchange thinking and beliefs as I see these as similar items and concepts.  Values are the “working out” of my thinking in everyday life (IRL to some).  

Everything, but everything is filtered through my belief in Jesus as the Son of God, Who died on the cross in order to save me from both the sin of Adam and from my own sins.  Jesus accomplished this through His death (the shedding of blood as an atonement to fulfill the Old Testament covenant), burial, and resurrection.  I believe in Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit; not as nice concepts or myths, but as real living beings through whom all things in this universe gain existence.  I believe the Bible is a real collection of books, written by men (possibly a woman or two), inspired by the Holy Spirit and given to us as a revelation of God, history of His working to redeem and guide humans, and a foretelling of things to come.

I follow logic as a regular rule of life, filtered through my Christian belief.  Logic is the knife by which we can evaluate situations.  Logic, as I see it, requires me to move to a result of true or false.  In observation, my use of logic often sets me at odds with others because logic reduces to one of two outcomes.  Some call this a black/white outlook.  I recognize that outlook bothers some, but I’ll own it.  I also acknowledge that there are times when logic has difficulty reducing to two outcomes.  When these occur, I just do my best to use other sources and thinking to help.  That’s when I remember the axiom that life is messy and move on.

Pragmatism is the ability to use a system of thinking that many call common sense.  Some may also call it the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method.  While, yet others call it using Occam’s Razor (the obvious and simple solution is often the best).  Pragmatism exerts itself in my thinking when I realize that while my faith and logic call for a situation to exist in a certain way, pragmatism limits that outcome because there are hurdles that I or others are unwilling or unable to cross.

The heart is what separates humans from animals.  Yes, some will disagree. That’s for a later post.  For now, it’s an axiom.  Deal with it.  Back to business. If I simply followed faith, logic, and pragmatism, I really could see everything in life as just black or white.  That’s where the heart comes into play.  Through compassion, love, good feelings or bad, we adjust the outcome when faith, logic, and pragmatism alone will not provide a complete answer.

But, wait, you say!  Faith involves the heart!  Or, faith is all about heart!

No, not to me.  Faith is real.  It is a relationship with an existential Other so different from ourselves that normal rules don’t apply.  Yet, that relationship isn’t bound just by “feel good” or emotional considerations.  It is also bound by God’s revelation and His character, His perfect moral character (more on that later).  

The heart modifies the brutality of logic and pragmatism; it completes faith.  Yet, the heart is fickle.  It cannot always be trusted, as both Scripture and a good preacher, Joe Beam said. The heart is capable of lying; therefore, it cannot be used without the other methods of thinking.  But occasionally, when the other methods struggle to help define my thinking, the heart supplies just enough to get things right.

Please remember that these definitions of my foundations of thinking are mine, as I see them.  They aren’t meant to be the dictionary definitions or the classical definitions.  For the record, they don’t have to be.

How do these four basic methods of thought define my thinking?  I’ll explain it this way.

The words of God described in the Bible show believers a specific world view.  God made the universe and humanity.  Man is made in God’s image but is now fallen because of Adam and Eve’s failure and also because of mine.  Our redemption is through what Jesus did on the cross not through our own efforts.  Right and wrong are defined by God, not by humans.  Through the teachings of Jesus, believers should consider themselves as members of a universal kingdom with Jesus as the head of the kingdom.  We are to be influences in the world we live in.  We still have choice, so we can influence for good or for bad.  

I find that when I consider the whole of humankind as those created by God, in His image, then I must (logic) see value in all people regardless of color, language, religion, or ethnicity.  I should seek the good welfare of all people.  Though pragmatism says I can only do that in a small area through family, friends, and acquaintances.  Yet, the heart inspires better solutions than just the small ones I can contemplate.

That seems to be very simplistic, and yes, it is.  Because today’s social language revolves around many “hot button” issues, I’ll be spending time in future blog posts dealing with how I think about those issues.  While this is not an exclusive list, and I hold the right to change some as I go, I will explore the issues of social welfare, economics, religion (mine and others), and ethnology (our country, its people, government, etc.).  I recognize (pragmatism) that several of these may require more than one post.

Thinking about how one thinks is meta-cognition.  It’s not a bad thing to do every once in a while.  By posting this out here, it obligates me to not be lazy but to go and get it done.  I’ll leave it to you all to hold me accountable.

Rube Goldberg My Eye

Recently, listening to someone that I thought I respected, I was told that I shouldn’t use “Rube Goldberg” methods in trying to solve problems. The person in question had seen how over the years, I would use any means at hand, complicated or simple, to accomplish the goals set before me. This often resolved into not pursuing the goals any further because this person couldn’t understand how I got there.

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