Month: May 2013
Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.
C. S. Lewis
The Message (MSG)
11-15 I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there—before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death—Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire.
Today I am feeling the brimstone of hell. I really desire to be closer to my God and its not just a feeling, but its a thirst due to my condition mentally after reading and studying the word that became flesh. Conviction is welling up inside of me at this moment. I need Jesus!
The Worst Trouble the World Has Ever Seen
12 1-2 “‘That’s when Michael, the great angel-prince, champion of your people, will step in. It will be a time of trouble, the worst trouble the world has ever seen. But your people will be saved from the trouble, every last one found written in the Book. Many who have been long dead and buried will wake up, some to eternal life, others to eternal shame.
An elderly TV star was asked by talk-show host Larry King about heaven. King prefaced his question by referring to Billy Graham, who had told King he “Knew what would be ahead. It would be paradise. He was going to heaven.” King then asked his guest, “What do you believe?” The man replied, “I’d like a lot of activity. Heaven sounds too placid for me. There’s a lot to do in hell.”
Sadly, this man is not alone in thinking that an existence in Satan’s realm is a preferred destination. I’ve heard people say that they’d rather be in hell because all their friends will be there. One person wrote, “If hell was real, I don’t think it would be bad. There would be a lot of interesting people.”
How can we convince folks who are deceived in this way that hell and its horrors are to be avoided? Perhaps by telling them of the realities of hell that are presented in the scriptures. In Daniel 12:2 hell is described as a place of “shame and everlasting contempt.” Luke 16:23 talks about “torments.” Matthew 8:12 describes “weeping and gashing of teeth.” And Revelation 14:11 says there will be “no rest.”
Biblical truth doesn’t allow anyone to think that hell might be a good place to be. Clearly, rejecting Jesus and facing an eternity in Satan’s kingdom is a bad choice.
Don’t choose to spend eternity
Where pain will never dim;
Instead decide to trust in Christ
And choose to follow Him.
The same Christ who talks about the glories of heaven also describes the horrors of hell.
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Trivial Pursuit board game
– Created 1979 is a game in which progress is determined by a player’s ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions
– The object of the game was to answer a correct question in each of 6 categories such as Geography, Sports and Leisure, History, and Science and Nature
– Peaking in 1984 selling 20 million games
– As of 2004 nearly 88 million games sold
– Sold in 26 countries
In 17 languages
– 55 different editions
– Questions are pretty obscure. For example,
– What does a heliologist study?
– (The sun)
– What U.S. city was once know as Federal City?
– (Washington, D.C.)
– What is the crystal anniversary?
– (A couple celebrating their 15th anniversary)
– Exactly what it is Trivial knowledge
My Major Pursuit
Philippians 3:10 — Paul in prison
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
Romans 3:11KJV – There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Romans 3:18KJV – There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Romans 1:20-21KJV – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
2 Chronicles 31:20-21KJV
And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
Ps 63:8 Amp – My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You: Your right hand upholds me.”
23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
24 But let him that goliath glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
❶. Gives us a Desire to Be Like Him
Amos 3:3 – Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
– Being around people we take on their traits
– Kids & their sport hero’s
– When I was in sales I wanted to be like the one who trained me
1 Peter 1:16 – Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
– v.24 God shows himself
❷. Reveals the Truth About Ourselves
– Note Is. 6:1-5
– Seraphim’s crying “Holy”
– Means “fiery ones” (their burning love)
– Same Hebrew word used of the fiery serpents in Num.21:6
– Judgment on sin
– Isaiah saw himself as being unclean
– He is perfect we are imperfect
– He is strong we are weak
-He is in control we loose control (fear, worry)
– Giving opportunity to turn to Him.
❸. Enables Us to Interpret Our World
– Arrogance brings out the pride of life
– Ex 14-15 Israel & Egypt meet God at the Red Sea
– Knowing He is in charge removes fear & panic
❹. Makes Us Stronger & More Secure
– 1 Cor. 1 – God has chosen the foolish, weak things – v.27
– 2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20KJV
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
– He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent
– In other words He is in control
– He knows me, loves me has purpose for me
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him
“The Pleasures of God”
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This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.
Well, our bold and spunky congressional pals finally crossed the line. They spent our tax dollars so carelessly, and at such an alarming rate, that we were forced to stage what amounted to a national public fiscal intervention. Suddenly, the boring federal budget became big news, as Americans demanded that Washington restore our nation’s economic health and cut all wasteful and inappropriate spending, including the government funding of NPR and Planned Parenthood. This signal from the citizens was valuable despite an eventual Republican surrender in the most recent budget battle. And while I’m pleased that the overspending was exposed, I wonder when the mainstream media will uncover the government money pit of over criminalization.
“Over criminalization” refers to the recent trend in Congress to use the criminal law to “fix” every publicized issue — a horrendous waste of government spending. Essentially, our representatives are criminalizing conduct that should be regulated by civil or administrative means. Over criminalization has left U.S. Attorneys with a wide selection of crimes with which to charge people: There are over 4,500 federal crimes and over 300,000 regulations with criminal penalties. Not surprisingly, many of these obscure laws have led to unreasonable arrests and unjust prosecutions. These costly over criminalization policies amount to both federal waste and government overreach.
Any one of us can be targeted and imprisoned. A homeowner can be arrested for failure to prune her shrubs, in violation of the city’s municipal code. A small-business owner can do time for lack of proper paperwork when importing orchids. Don’t own a business or a garden? You are still not safe. When the new health-care law goes into effect, everyone, with the exception of unions and other exempt parties, will face severe penalties for failure to purchase government-approved insurance. In fact, refusal to comply with the new health-care regulations is a federal violation punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. The grander issue of wasteful government spending is still salient, but over criminalization, while a part of that issue, also has large negative implications for the immediate livelihood of the American people.
While it is difficult to know exactly how much money the government spends to prosecute a single case, it’s instructive to look at a recent example: the infamous Barry Bonds trial. San Francisco U.S. Attorneys spent eight years and countless tax dollars investigating and prosecuting Bonds for allegedly lying under oath regarding his steroid usage. After they had dedicated so many hours and so much of the criminal-justice system’s limited resources, the jury refused to convict Bonds on any of the serious charges, finding him guilty of one charge of obstruction of justice. We need to be selective about the cases that rise to the federal criminal level, because spending our tax dollars on cases that drag on too long means that our money is being wasted.
Let me be clear: We should be tough on actual criminal acts. Let the punishment fit the crime. However, when prosecutors pursue frivolous cases that disrupt our quality of life, it’s not just that the government is wasting our tax dollars and is threatening our liberty, but it is spending less time going after real criminals: the arsonists, the murderers, and the sexual and financial predators. In actuality, our government is passing policies that are weakening our criminal-justice system and decreasing our safety.
In another example, highlighted by the Heritage Foundation, auto-racing legend Bobby Unser got lost in a blizzard, almost died, and was later convicted for operating a snow mobile in the natural wilderness. The conviction itself is quite unbelievable. If Mr. Unser did enter the wilderness, and there is no such proof, it was only due to the fact that he was disoriented in the blizzard. Nevertheless, he faced a $5,000 fine and a six-month prison sentence. It is estimated that the federal government spent approximately one million dollars to prosecute Mr. Unser.
In addition to the cost of prosecution, there are also costs associated with imprisonment. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the federal inmate population was 211,176 as of March. The average cost of incarceration for one federal inmate in fiscal year 2009 was $25,251. So putting justice, liberty, and the wishes of the founding fathers aside, it’s not exactly cheap to lock up people either. We should ensure that only real criminals are behind bars. Instead of locking up gardeners for violating regulations, we should fine them and generate income.
The secondary hidden cost of over criminalization is more difficult to quantify, but is still a drain on our economy. Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, in an essay for the Heritage Foundation, argues that criminal penalties have caused paranoia among all members of the business community. Businessmen are not innovating for fear of getting prosecuted, and as a result they are unable to compete in the global market. This is especially detrimental to the recovery of our ailing economy.
Because the cost of federal prosecution and imprisonment is so high, we need to ensure that this severe sanction is reserved only for actual criminals. We need to bring over criminalization to the forefront of the American media and political table. Over criminalization affects our daily lives and hurts all Americans. The stifling effect of criminalizing acts that should be of a regulatory nature is having a suffocating effect on American business and entrepreneurship.
A government capable of making seemingly innocuous conduct criminal is one that should be feared. The unlucky victims of the feds would certainly agree with me.
Ten members of the House Judiciary Committee have agreed to form an Over-Criminalization Task Force to review the expansion of the federal criminal code and make recommendations for paring it down. There are roughly 4,500 federal crimes on the law books, with new ones being added at a rate of about 50 a year.
This proposed review of federal criminal laws is the first since the 1980s, when the number of federal crimes on the books was about half what it is now. The task force will conduct hearings and investigate issues around over-criminalization and will have the opportunity to issue reports to the Justice Committee on its findings and policy recommendations.
Among possible topics for the task force are federal drug laws and sentences in general and federal marijuana prohibition in particular. The group could also explore the issue of mens rea, or criminal intent, particularly in relation to the expansion of the use of conspiracy laws since the late 1980s. The use of those laws has led to low-level offenders, including some who were not even part of a drug trafficking enterprise, being sentenced to years or decades in federal prison — sentences that were supposed to be reserved for high-level offenders.
“As former chairman and long-serving member of the Judiciary Committee, I’ve seen first-hand just how muddled the criminal code is,” said Sensenbrenner. “It’s time to scrub it clean. The Over-Criminalization Task Force will review federal laws in Title 18, and laws outside of Title 18 that have not gone through the Judiciary Committee, to modernize our criminal code. In addition, I reintroduced the Criminal Code Modernization and Simplification Act [not posted as of Tuesday] today, which would reform Title 18 of the US Code, reduce the existing criminal code by more than one-third, and update the code to make it more comprehensible.”
“Unduly expansive criminal provisions in our law unnecessarily drive up incarceration rates,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the committee’s ranking Democrat. “Almost one-quarter of the world’s inmates are locked up in the United States, yet Americans constitute only five percent of the world population. In addition, the incarceration rate for African Americans is six times that of the national incarceration average. I welcome the work of the over-criminalization task force in analyzing this serious issue.”
“Although crime is primarily a matter for states and localities to handle, over the last 40 or so years Congress has increasingly sought to address societal problems by adding criminal provisions to the federal code,” said Scott. “There are now over 4,000 federal criminal provisions, plus hundreds of thousands of federal regulations which impose criminal penalties, often without requiring that criminal intent be shown to establish guilt. As a result, we are hearing many complaints of overuse and abusive uses of federal criminal laws from a broad-based coalition of organizations ranging from the Heritage Foundation to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Today, we are establishing a bipartisan task force on over-criminalization to assess issues and make recommendations for improvements to the federal criminal system, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this worthy endeavor.”
“This Task Force is a step in the right direction and could propose recommendations to significantly alleviate mass incarceration and racial disparities in the federal system,” said Jasmine Tyler, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The establishment of this Task Force is long overdue for the drug policy reform movement. It is past time for Congress to re-examine marijuana laws, conspiracy laws, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the appropriate role and use of the federal government’s resources.”
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The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.
Sewer pipe miracle baby leaves China hospital; No charges for mother
Local media reports on Wednesday said the mother had become pregnant after a one-night stand. Unable to afford an abortion and with her partner unwilling to acknowledge it was his child, the mother took to hiding the pregnancy by wearing baggy clothes and tying strips of cloth around her stomach.
The woman who alerted authorities to the sounds of a baby stuck in a sewer pipe has admitted that she is the mother. Police are treating the case as an attempted homicide.
She then secretly gave birth to the boy in a fourth-floor public bathroom of the building where she lived, only to reportedly have the baby slip from her hands after delivery. The boy dropped into the open, squat-style toilet and slid down into the narrow 4-inch in diameter sewer pipe.
Not wanting her child, but unwilling to leave him to die in the drain, she reportedly notified a neighbor of sounds coming from the pipes, who then called police to investigate.
Firefighters were then called to gently cut the child free from the pipe using pliers and handsaws.
The mother has been subjected to near universal condemnation on Chinese social media.
The Associated Press reported that the mother had told police that she had initially refused to step forward because she had been frightened about the incident, but eventually had a change of heart and told officials she was in fact the mother.
No matter where we live or where we are from, sin is prevalent and will try to destroy us any way we allow it too. Praise God for His presence in that situation and not Buddha, but The Living God.
Ezekiel 18:1-4, “The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Israel loved to make excuses for their idolatry. They lived according to their own desires and forgot the God of Heaven, Jehovah, for days without number. Every time they would fall away, God would have to bring judgment upon them to return them to His laws.
Like we of today, the Children of Israel looked for someone else to blame for their own sin. In their search for self-justification they came up with a really cute and logical proverb that went like this: “The fathers may eat the sour grapes but the children’s teeth will be set on edge.” This meant that whatever the fathers of each successive generation did may not affect them but it would surely affect their children and grandchildren. This was Israel’s way of blaming their forefathers and even God, for the sin that they committed and the judgments they had to face. In using this proverb they absolved themselves from the penalty for their own sin and place it upon the head of their ancestors.
Just listen to any psychologist or psychiatrist and they will attempt to persuade you that criminals commit crimes largely as a result of their past environment. The blame for sin is never placed squarely on the shoulders of those who commit acts of violence or other crimes. It is always the fault of someone or something else. Perhaps it was your father, mother, aunt, uncle or some other adult who wronged you as a child and destroyed your self esteem. Perhaps it’s the peer pressure from school friends or co-workers that caused you to fall. After all, the man who loses his job as a postal worker because he was lazy and had a bad attitude, is somewhat justified in walking in and killing his former co-workers because it wasn’t his fault that he was fired, it’s their fault for being better employees than he was. I know that sounds warped but that’s the prevalent thinking of our day. The criminal has rights while the victim is looked upon as just a coincidence in the act of the crime and shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel Yochelson, sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing of 250 inmates here in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead, crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. In their 1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a “conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle.” In 1987, Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J.Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their book Crime andHuman Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages one to six.
Christians don’t act much different than those who are worldly when it comes to facing up to their sin. We love to play the blame game too. I hear people say things like, “My former Pastor didn’t teach me right”; “The church that used to attend didn’t have a good training program or Bible study class”; I was never taught that doing or saying things like that were wrong”; and I have heard other things come from the lips of Christians as well because we don’t want to admit that we have sinned and that it is us who are at fault and in need of repentance.
It’s not my fault the church isn’t growing; it’s the preacher’s fault. It’s not my fault that the rumor was spread so quickly; they shouldn’t have assumed that I would keep a secret that important in the first place. It’s not my fault that we lost a family in our church; if they had been closer to Jesus they wouldn’t have left because I said or did what I did. It isn’t my fault that they had so many skeletons in their closet that they were ashamed of.
John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun–until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between is hands and smacked his eye. Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted. ’You idiot! You’ve got center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!
Folks we can lay the blame wherever we want, but God spoke plainly to Ezekiel that “the soul that sins will be one who dies and not those who lived in the past. They will answer for their own sin and so will you. We cannot lay the blame for what we do at the feet of another person. James 1:14-15 says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” It isn’t the fault of anyone else when we sin. It’s our own fault. Until we realize that fact, there can be no forgiveness of sin and when we face the Great White Throne Judgment we will have no excuse.
We can’t blame the church, the preacher or the Sunday School teacher or Sabbath School Administrator for not being good enough because we are commanded by God to study and make ourselves knowledgeable in the Word of God. We can’t blame the priest, mom and dad, or anyone else for not teaching us right, for the Word of God says that we are to work out our own salvation with fear of our Holy God and remembering that our eternal soul’s destiny hangs in the balance.
Especially now, in these New Testament times, we have no excuse for sin and we cannot lay the blame for our “sour grapes” on anyone else. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God, and the Blood of Jesus Christ to wash us, cleanse us and teach us to walk uprightly before God.
Listen to the words of God to the Prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 31:29-34, “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
God has taken away our excuses for sin. He has taken away our excuses for not living a holy, sanctified life. God has removed the skin of our reason for not obeying his voice and revealed the lie that is stuffed inside. We stand on our own now and we cannot blame another for the sin we commit.
God has given us everything we need to be saved. He has provided a way out of our death penalty if we will only confess that we are wrong in the first place and face up to our own guilt.
We will all live or die based upon what we do with the gospel and death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking What about each of you? Has life dealt you a handful of sour grapes? Do you feel that life has been unfair? Don’t think that you are alone. All of us have felt that way from time to time.
It would be great if we could only release ourselves from the guilt of sin by placing the blame on someone or something else, but we can’t. Each of us must face up the fact that its “My Fault”. I am the one who chose to sin. No one made me do it. The Devil didn’t make me do it either. He may have brought the temptation to me, but it was my own desire and my own decision to yield to that temptation.
Only when we face up to our own “sour grapes” and confess that we are the ones at fault and no one else, can we find true repentance and forgiveness for sin.
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You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.
The Message (MSG)
The World Is Not a Stage
6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity
5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
I’ve always been impressed by the solemn, magnificent simplicity of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The carefully choreographed event is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names and sacrifice are “Know but to God.”
Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather. In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel was bearing down on Washington, DC, my home town, and the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. Surprising almost no one, the guards refused! They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane.
Underlying Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:1-6, I believe, is His desire for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience, not orchestrated acts for self-glorification. The Apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to live unto God.
May our private and public moments speak of our devotion and wholehearted commitment to you, Lord. The more we serve Christ, the less we will swerve self.
Grant us the strength this day, O Lord, to persevere, to return honor to your name where we are serving. Our desire is to give our self in selfless devotion because of your love for us.
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About 371,000 German soldiers were held in American prisons until 1946. That they, above all in the southern states, were treated better than black workers, gave the growing civil rights movement a powerful weapon.
In contrast, American soldiers and civilians often described the German POWs as “magnificent physical specimens,” “physically supreme, muscular types” or “fine specimens of physical manhood.” The prisoners from Africa especially attracted attention and admiration. For a man from Texas, the Germans were “just the best bunch of boys you ever saw,” while a reporter who visited Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, confessed that he found them “uniformly neat, excessively polite, splendidly disciplined, these young men are – frankly – hard to dislike.”
Americans who employed POWs often shared this feeling. Most Germans worked in agriculture, canning, logging and lumber where the war had created a shortage of reliable unskilled labor. Many of these jobs had been traditionally performed by black Americans who were no longer available in sufficient numbers, despite substantial efforts to restrict their mobility or defer their induction. The German POWs filled this gap and grateful employers often showed their appreciation in various forms. Some even invited them to restaurants or into their own homes. The Inspector General’s Department was not pleased and wrote in a March 1945 report: “The average employer and his foremen, learning that the German prisoner of war, except for ideological concepts, is in general little different from the rank and file of our own soldiers, are apt to become overly friendly and solicitous of the prisoner of war’s welfare.”
The vast majority of POWs were interned in the South or border States where they often worked next to black Americans in the fields and factories. The availability of POW labor kept the wages for blacks at a low level and also had “rather a good effect on some of our sorry Negro labor by tending to keep them on the job better,” as one employer from Alabama put it.
Nevertheless, the German POWs reported almost uniformly that the African Americans treated them friendly and regarded them as “prisoners like us.”
“We were their fellow-sufferers,” one former POW recalled. “Bad time, prisoner time.” For the moment, the joint “underdog” status was more important than the racial divide. POWs and black Americans shared stories, songs, food and drink, and many Germans came to regard the blacks as the anti-thesis of white, soulless, capitalist America – the “land without a heart.”
While black Americans frequently clashed with Italian prisoners of war who enjoyed greater freedom than their former German allies, there is little evidence of direct tension between Germans and black Americans. However, black American soldiers frequently contrasted the treatment of German POWs with their own treatment and reported in countless letters that “there are German prisoners here and they live better than we do.”
Although not all of these reports were accurate, German POWs often did enjoy better treatment and more rights, such as access to “whites only” facilities. The fact that “Nazi prisoners” were given access to restaurants or railway compartments off-limits to black American soldiers provided the growing civil rights movement in the United States with a powerful weapon.
Racial discrimination also limited the effectiveness of the reeducation program for the German POWs. The program, which started in 1944, tried to turn the prisoners into democrats “by presenting to them in so far as is possible under the circumstances the best aspects of American life and institutions.” Some POWs responded by contrasting American values with the treatment of black Americans. However, the majority of them were more concerned with when they would be allowed to return home.
The Americans created the impression that participation in the reeducation program would lead to quicker repatriation but this was not true. The first to return to Germany were “useless” prisoners and “troublemakers,” i.e. unrepentant Nazis. The last regular shipment of German POWs left the United States on July 22, 1946 of which around 178,000 of the POWs were handed over to Great Britain and France as workers. For the prisoners, this was a “modern slave trade on the grandest scale.” Some of them had to endure over two more years of captivity and forced labor.
To “disenfranchise,” typically defined in any basic dictionary, is to deprive of civil privileges, rights of citizenship or constitutional rights, especially the right to vote. Within a colonial administrative or nation-state context, disenfranchisement is an active process by which the colonizing power, state or state-sanctioned institutions deny colonial subjects or citizens basic rights.
To borrow the title from John Gaventa’s book (1982),disenfranchisement includes dynamics of “Power and Powerlessness.” American ethnic minorities can tell a variety of stories about disenfranchisement and struggles against disenfranchisement for civil rights. This is especially true for Native Americans and Black Americans.
To what degree do the more recent experiences of black American felon’s resemble the historical experiences of actual slavery and Black Americans? In order for disenfranchisement to occur and then be maintained or sustained, the colonizer, enslaver, invader, or the usurping power has to create and disseminate a story or ideological justification. Renowned scholars like Pierre Bourdieu, Antonio Gramsci, and Edward Said have contributed to and inspired a vast literature on ideological hegemonic dynamics (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993, Gramsci 1971, Said 1994). This presentation borrows briefly from the work of Bourdieu but focuses more upon the claims of John Gaventa. Political Sociologist, John Gaventa, reveals how ideological justification is forged through a “mobilization of bias” during which the usurping power asserts, imposes, and legitimizes cultural hegemony (Gaventa 1982). Another way of looking at this may be through the concept of symbolic violence. Symbolic violence, as defined by Bourdieu , refers to the ability of a dominant group to impose it symbols upon
others not through physical violence but through cultural domination, the control of ideas, images,standards, icons, and so on (Bourdieu 1977, Wacquant 1993). This ideological control becomes so pervasive and taken-for-granted that both dominant and disenfranchised group members internalize or accept these symbols as legitimate. Organizations, corporations, colonial administrations,governments, government-based institutions (including school systems), are just a short list of the entities that often engage in symbolic violence. Over time, the control of ideas, images, and symbols may become so taken-for-granted that, as argued by Gaventa, inequities become non-issues. Allow me to repeat, grave inequities such as land dispossession, dehumanization, enslavement, and apartheid eventually become non-issues. Inequities become non-issues!
So, according to Gaventa (as well as Bourdieu), what are the procedural dimensions of power and powerlessness by which a dominant ideology is imposed and, then, grave inequities become nonissues? Well, disenfranchisement and other forms of disempowerment may involve the following three levels or dimensions of power (Gaventa 1982):
1. The ability of a powerful entity (e.g., organization, corporation, government, colonial administration, executive or congressional or parliamentary power) to force someone or some group to act against their will. This level of power often involves physical force and observable conflict.
2. The ability of a powerful entity to set the agenda or “rules of the game” and thereby mobilize bias in its favor in some political arena. At this level of power, a powerful entity constructs barriers that prevent a disempowered group from participating in a political process.
3. The ability of a powerful entity to shape individual and group consciousness through the control of ideals, information, ideologies, myths, and so on. It is at this level of symbolic power (also known as symbolic violence) that a powerful entity has legitimized its ideals, symbols, and ideologies and de-legitimized or destroyed those of disempowered groups.The concepts of “mobilization of bias” and “symbolic violence” illuminate the stages through which inequities become non-issues. Also, during processes of disenfranchisement, the powerful are able to successfully characterize and treat the disempowered as a “thing” or as an “it”, in other words, as a less than human object instead of a complex human subject.
♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫
“Doe,” deer, a female deer…
“Ray,” a drop of golden sun…
“Me,” a name I call myself…
“ME,” A NAME I CALL MYSELF!
♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫
“Me” to “It” Disenfranchisement has many consequences. In addition to issues becoming non-issues, another consequence is that an individual or group is de-evolved from a subject to an object, from a “’Me’ a name I call myself” to an “’It’ a thing I am called by others.” As mentioned above, disenfranchised groups become known not by what they call themselves but by what they are called by the colonizer, conqueror, or some other powerful entity.
Back to the ideological justification or the story created by powerful entities to justify disenfranchisement. For Native Americans, the story has changed over time as British colonizers, then U.S. state and federal governments have justified disenfranchisement. During pre- and early colonial times and prior to disenfranchisement, Native Americans appeared in romanticized Enlightenment stories as noble savages. This was also an image held by Thomas Jefferson in the late 1700s.
Also, prior to European contact, many Native Americans did not describe themselves as “Indians” who belonged to mere “tribes” but as “The People” who belonged to Nations, Bands & Clans, Pueblo City States, Confederacies, and so on.
This story would give way to stories about “Indians” as non-Christian “heathens” to stories about them as “wild animals,” “savage redmen” or “blood thirsty savages” to modern day stories of American Indians as “wards of the State” and “drunken Injuns/Indians”. For Black Americans the story has also changed overtime. Prior to enslavement, those West
Africans who would become victims of the slave trade included Arabic scholars, merchants, craftsmen, peasant farmers and cattle-tenders.
The reality that enslaved Africans were diverse and complex, would change to colonial American stories of Blacks as “uncivilized heathens” to early American stories about them as “childlike” beings that were more like chattel or property than human beings to stories about them as “pack animals,” “niggers,” and rapists of white women to more modern day stories of Blacks as “criminals,” “thugs,” and “welfare queens”.
In other words, the enslaver or colonizer creates dehumanizing stories to justify the inhumane treatment of disenfranchised peoples. Gaventa argues that ultimate power exists when the powerless are made to appear quiescent or apathetic despite their history of resistance and/or when the usurping power can manipulate policies, symbols, and ideologies to the extent that inequities experienced by the disenfranchised appear to be non-issues.
Grave Inequities Become Non-Issues It is important to understand that Native and Black Americans are not dehumanized into “objectified it-things” overnight but through processes of disenfranchisement and domination carried out from the first to the third levels of disempowerment listed above. At the first level of disempowerment Native and Black Americans were forced to act against their will through such events as colonization and/or enslavement, war, land dispossession,
forced migration, apartheid, and ghettoization.
Then, at the second level of disempowerment, colonial powers and then the U.S. government were able to mobilize bias against Native and Black Americans. It is during this second level that the powerful entities excluded Natives and Blacks from the political process and set the rules of the game through various types of discrimination institutionalized in Congressional Legislation, Supreme Court decisions, presidential practices, codes, and military actions.
Then, by the third level of disempowerment the control of ideals and information is so pervasive that Native and Black Americans are known more by the labels given them by dehumanizing entities than by the names they once called themselves. Even worse, some Native and Black Americans internalize dehumanizing labels. This is the level where symbolic violence is most pervasive and insidious. I here see the plight of credit checks, background checks, and all other planned criterions’ as sifting tools to disqualify a race of people. None of which is a new thing in and of itself, but it is unique in itself because of the mask and techniques implemented to set order for the new slaughter of underpowered people.
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The parallels associated with the quagmire’s of racial indifference in America really have not changed. I was watching the movie Redtails this morning and when I saw certain scenes related to how black American soldiers were treated by their fellow soldiers verses the German enemies I was not shocked at the parallels that felons receive now.
Today a sprightly 90-year-old, the veteran remembers vividly that though he was treated ‘as an officer and a gentleman’ by his German captors, he was subjected to racism when he returned to America.
‘As we disembarked from the troop ship, a white soldier at the bottom of the gangplank shouted: “Whites to the right, n*****s to the left.” I replied: “Goddammit, nothing has changed!”
‘I felt it was straight back to racism and segregation. I was furious, but you couldn’t do a damned thing but suck it up and survive.’
It was just another insult for a remarkable group of men whose controversial story has just been made into a feature film by Star Wars creator George Lucas.
And, undoubtedly, Jefferson and his comrades in 332nd Fighter Group — nicknamed the Red Tails after the colour of their plane markings — have an extraordinary story to tell.
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