5.31.2014

LIFE'S MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGE?

It is certainly one of life’s most difficult challenges. In fact, judging by the average internet comment, as well as my own often sarcastic remarks about those in high positions, very, very few of us come anywhere near meeting the challenge.


Luke (6:27):
“Love your enemies,
do good to them which hate you...”

You probably are already thinking (like me)... no way am I going to love those (enter your enemies list here). Now, God knows, I’m not a Bible thumper and not very religious; I am a simple student of many subjects. Saint Luke’s admonition is not about religion; it’s about life. Karma. And few appreciate just how much The Bible is about life. Not just way back then, but today. And tomorrow.

Of course, if everyone in the world were to love their enemies, from our home-grown political adversaries to the leaders of adversarial nations, Iran, North Korea and all the rest, the world would be a far, far better place. But of course, our adversaries won’t, will they? No. In the bloody history of mankind, they never have. And they never will. Count the wars. Count the memorials. Count the crosses near the beaches and in cemeteries around the world.


It’s such a challenge that even Yahweh couldn’t manage it! Exodus (12:29):



And it came to pass, that at midnight
the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,
from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne
unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon;
and all the firstborn of cattle.”

Wow.


Even Jesus, who preached this same theme, had a difficult time controlling his own hate, for example (Revelation 2:6)


...Thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans,
which I also hate.

(“Nicolaitans” were the bishops and prelates of the very early Christian Church who gained conquest over the laiton [the laity]. Thus laymen were compelled to submit to the dominion of bishops who became haughty; the very thing which God hates.)

Okay, maybe he hated the sins but not the sinners. But hate is hate. When it enters the mind and heart, it often spills over the tongue, and sometimes into the hands. Many think life would be so much better if hate was eliminated. I am not one of them. Hate is an emotion as real and valid as any other. We are endowed by our human nature with the ability to love and hate for good reasons.

Just before Jesus expressed his hate for the Nicolaitans, he expressed his sympathy to those who worked tirelessly to set them straight

(Revelation 2:2):


“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance,
and that you cannot tolerate evil men,
and you put to the test those who call themselves [church leaders],
and they are not, and you found them to be false;
and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake,
and have not grown weary.”

Do you get that!? Understand what is being said here? Those of you who are believers, who trust in your Lord, must maintain faith that justice will be done, though it never seems to come to pass. But you must keep believing no matter how frustrating and tiring it is. We want it to happen in our time, but destiny works on its own timetable. You have to believe that the Great Architect of the Universe is there and cares about you (click this link and listen if you’d like to hear how this idea is beautifully sung).


Luke (6:28≠38) quotes the Lord as demanding even more of the faithful:


“Bless them that curse you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you.

...For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye?
for sinners also love those that love them.”


Think about that. It’s very easy to love those who love you. And of course you should! But loving those who do not love you shows your goodness and good will, and clearly must affect, in some positive way, how your enemies think about you.

“...And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive,
what thank have ye?
for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.”


Hmm... one hand washes the other? Sounds like politics as usual.

“...But love ye your enemies, and do good,
and lend, hoping for nothing again;
and your reward shall be great,
and ye shall be the children of the Highest...

Be ye therefore merciful,
as your Father also is merciful.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:
condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:
forgive, and ye shall be forgiven...”


So how do you feel about Donald Sterling, now?

“Give, and it shall be given unto you...
For with the same measure that ye mete withal
it shall be measured to you again.”

I admit I am a cynic. I believe the priesthood, long, long before The Bible was ever written, 6,000 years ago, in the early days of Sumer and Egypt, concocted the “Give, and it shall be given unto you...” business to keep themselves in fine robes and grub.


It may be difficult to accept, but God (or, if you prefer to think of him as nature, the laws of subatomic field actions, string vibration, the Uncertainty Principle, destiny or whatever other label) ...God plays favorites. Favorite people, favorite time periods, favorite planets and who knows what else. If you are one of the favorites, you are lucky. If, like 99.99% of us, you are not one of the favorites, in order to achieve goodness, you still must believe in and abide by his rules. No matter how painful the challenge. No matter how tiring the challenge. Because it's the only road to goodness for the human race. The only way the human race can actually climb out of the pit of its ugly history. And for your belief, and for your accepting the difficult challenge, the promise is favor in whatever form of afterlife there may be.


It is no wonder to me that atheists think the heavenly messenger of good so terrible that they deny his very existence. Perhaps today’s brand of atheists — extremists on the Left — are in thrall to their own Nicolaitans; Bishops Gore, Obama, Soros et al.

5.28.2014

THE STRESS OF CALIFORNIA’S PARADISE

After working in New York City for twenty years, a job offer from Los Angeles came as a welcome relief. The friction of life in Manhattan is high, though over the years one can get used to almost anything. Despite the great times and benefits of my job as Creative Director at one of the world’s largest ad agencies, I found the Big Apple a-peeled to me no longer; I’d had enough.

So when the job offer came, aside from the prospect of new experiences, and all that materialistic stuff, the idea of leaving Manhattan’s traffic, crowds, noise, subways, cabs, elevators and surly waiters for the simple joy of driving myself to work, parking in the same building my office was in, was an enormous inducement. An inducement my new employer probably never even thought about. After all, I was moving to Paradise.

I figured if you’re going to live in Los Angeles, find a house on the west side near the beach. I also am a tree planter and lover of the mountains. So I found my personal Paradise in Pacific Palisades, in an area called the Highlands. There was a saying at the time: “If you're rich, you live in Beverly Hills. If you’re a movie star, you live in Malibu. But if you’re lucky, you live in Pacific Palisades.” I was lucky.

But the stress of life in California? The perils? Oh boy.

My family has now lived in the Golden State for decades. We have lived in Southern California and in Northern California. I love this state. After Alaska and Texas it is America’s largest state; that’s very big; 770 miles from top to bottom! So there is so much here. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, wine country, skiing, many fantastic National Parks, endless miles of coastline and beaches and beautiful girls.

The Sierra Nevada includes the highest peak on the U.S. mainland, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet. The range embraces Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater Lake Tahoe. Not to mention Death Valley, the hottest and driest national park in the U.S., home of Badwater Basin which is 282 feet below sea level!

California has an excellent university system and research facilities, an agriculture system able to feed nations, the original Disneyland and other major tourist attractions. Museums, dinosaur burial sites, incredible gardens, old Spanish missions, many military bases, and advanced and experimental aircraft manufacturers and test sites.

But I don’t think it’s news that we have earthquakes here. They’re a common occurrence here because we’re located on the Pacific Ring of Fire: about 37,000 quakes are recorded annually, thankfully most are too small to feel. We have raging wildfires and hellish forest fires. We have mudslides and rockslides. We even have volcanos, including the monster Mammoth Mountain, a lava dome complex in Mono County. The domes formed from 110,000 to 57,000 years ago, building a volcano that reaches 11,059 feet in elevation. While the volcano is still active, eruptions have been small and sporadic over the millennia. But threats are closely monitored. If Mother Nature were to get angry and blow her stack...

We have droughts. Flash floods. Terrible wind storms. Torrential rains coming off the Pacific. But Mother Nature is not the only challenge we face. The Golden State is essentially bankrupt both financially and seemingly morally. The populace endures endless drug wars, gang wars, drive-by shootings, and even mass murders. With the easing of drug laws, pot farms spring up like mushrooms; outdoors and indoors. A porous border invites a steady stream of illegal border crossers; there are now so many generations here that no-one seems to care anymore. The State simply adapts as best it can.

Despite the fact that there are many more conservative voters here than one would think judging by the popular media, our politics are dominated by a well-organized uber liberal gang which has managed to use every tool in the kit to maintain its strangle-hold on the State’s finances and laws. We are so politically correct that there seems no hope of ever returning the State to sane financial and economic policies. Due to the suffocating regulations and taxes, businesses are checking out but they’re not checking in.

California’s “known” population according to census figures ranks us #1, standing at about 39 million. Over the past decade, calculating in-migration of all kinds, out-migration of population, births and deaths – again contrary to popular perceptions – the State’s net growth in population seems to be well below one million! But the out-migration is undeniable, and undeniably caused by suffocating liberal regulations and its cousin, an overly-PC culture driven by the powerful influences of Hollywood and the San Francisco region. This is important nationally because U.S. presidents can be elected by America’s eleven most-populous states, making the remaining 39, unfortunately far less relevant.

Typical of the out-migration, my next door neighbor, just retired, sold his home and is moving his family out of California. They leave because of the overbearing political atmosphere, high taxes, impossible laws, and a hundred other cultural reasons. Though, when pushed, my neighbor admits his love for California, his native state. He’s heading for Utah. I wish him well. Sad to see him go. He and his family are the best of neighbors.

We lived in Pali when the massive Northridge quake hit Los Angeles. It was a bad one. A terrible experience for so many of us. My office building was physically split apart and my office was torn away from the corridor. Our building was condemned but still standing, but nearby buildings as well as freeway overpasses actually collapsed. Those of us who were in the quake’s major lines of force bear a kind of post-quake stress memory that lurks near the surface of our everyday lives. “When driving and stopping for a red light, don't stop under a freeway overpass.”

I found it somewhat of a challenge adjusting to the work ethic out here. The adulation of all things “Hollywood” is an obsession. I’m not sure I ever met a young person in LA who wasn’t “just working at some job until they got their big break in the entertainment biz.” A break which, for 99.999%, never comes. Maybe one day I will pass along my own entertaining experiences in that arena.

Retired, and living in the mountain resort area of SoCal, our communities have been evacuated several times over the years due to raging forest fires which in one episode devoured over four hundred homes and took the lives of firefighters and citizens in our small town. Making matters worse, the fire was started by an arsonist. This firebug has since been tracked down, tried and convicted of murder. In that episode, we stayed at our son’s house near Los Angeles. Wouldn’t you know it... a different wildfire flared up in the hills near his home! 

Knowing there are many other crazy arsonists lurking out here, awaiting the dry periods and the Santa Ana winds, causes many of us stress. Every time a helicopter thumps past, or sirens wail in the distance, hearts speed up. We are glued to our on-line alert systems, emergency-band scanners and all the rest.

Still... what part of the country, or the world, for that matter, is free of stress and peril? Other “paradises” such as Hawaii have active volcanoes and raging Pacific storms. There are tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, floods, landslides, avalanches, sink holes, fires and the whole panoply of Mother Nature’s arsenal unleashed on different parts of America.

Year after year, we hear of populists calling for the breaking-up of California into two or more separate states. While the delineation of these new borders becomes a puzzle of immense complexity, the goal is to create states with, if not conservative, at least moderate political policies. I personally can’t see this happening, but hope springs eternal because something certainly needs to change.

It’s often said that what first starts in California soon sweeps across the rest of America. These things are primarily matters of pop culture and politics. But our coastlines, mountains and lakes will stay here. At least for the time being!

All things considered, and stress not withstanding, I am still happy to live in our imperfect paradise... along with almost 39 million others.

5.09.2014

THE IRRATIONAL HIERARCHY OF LEFTIST CAUSES

For more than 50 years, the Left has been preaching the dangers of cigaret smoking. I know this from personal experience. I was among the ad men charged with creating anti-cigaret smoking advertising as far back as the 1960's.

Today, the Left is among the greatest champions of the legalization of pot smoking throughout the land, citing the need for marijuana in relieving the suffering of the terminally ill. This is cynical pretense.

How do we explain this irrational contradiction? It’s another manifestation of what Michael Savage has diagnosed as a mental disorder common among those on the Left. There is a hierarchy of causes which every Leftist worth his or her salt has learned from Leftist teachers, preachers and professors. It amounts to a catechism of Leftism.

Oh, it's not like the very real dangers of smoking are suddenly okay with the Left; they still believe in the danger; and perhaps it's arguable that weed smoke somehow is less toxic but that’s not the point. Using law to deconstruct traditional America, getting America high and keeping its voters stoned trumps the health of their lungs. And the vast sea of immature Americans is happy to comply. The human damage from weed smoke is unequivocal. Dude.

The Left has championed “Women’s Rights” for as long as I can remember. Another laudable cause. On the other hand, they have been almost silent about the terrible abuses women experience in many familiar parts of the world. The recent kidnapping of schoolgirls in Africa has their heads in a spin. What to do, what to do? The catechism demands the defending of any group which undermines Christianity. But this kidnapping is antithetical to the Left’s own causes. Hence, the spinning heads. According to the catechism, crucifying Christianity trumps women’s rights. I await the pretense. I’m sure we will hear it in the next day or two.

The Left pretends to be champion of the advancement of all minorities, most notably African-Americans. Yet their championing only seems to apply to African-Americans who worship at the altar of the Left. Conservative blacks, Republican blacks, are castigated, shunned, attacked. Ask Judge Thomas, Colonel West, Secretary Condoleezza Rice and all their brothers and sisters who dare to wander off the liberal reservation. The catechism says keeping black voters in the thrall of the Democratic party trumps the rights of African-Americans to succeed without them.

The list of contradictions is as long as the hierarchal list. From where does this list originate? I expect point zero is centuries in the past, bursting into the political world during the Industrial Revolution, in Europe, inflating like primordial space. Today, this worn-out, discredited philosophy is still supported by those rich enough to think they will change the world, and by professorial Leftists. Shadows lurking in the political background, they dare to elect high officials well-read in their catechism.

The leftward twisting of any event is generated by the Left’s high priestesses; dowdy, huffy journalists, media celebrities, and Hollywood. It’s quickly disseminated, down the chain of parrots who repeat the pretense, often too lazy or too vapid not to employ the same exact phraseology. By the end of the news cycle, everybody in Left America is blathering the same phraseology of the high priestesses. It is predictable and boring because, after all these years, everybody on both sides of the political divide knows the catechism. Abortion trumps religious freedom. Freedom from religion trumps Christmas. Sympathy for the devil trumps border security. Minority whining trumps the will of the majority. Liberal judges’ views trump voter laws. Blah-blah-blah.

Look. If the Left wants to smoke dope, provide free birth control to women, party all night long, cripple the military, allow anyone who will vote for it to enter the country illegally, disenfranchise God, make pedophilia legal, embrace atheism over Christianity, flex The Constitution, praise its unpraiseworthy presidents, or anything else it deems will “bring down America,” I really don’t care. I believe America as I know it is strong enough to resist the catechism. What disgusts me is how the Left pretends none of this is true. It's the pretense that disgusts me.

If the Right is unabashedly (and yes, I agree, oft-times overly) rah-rah America – with no attempt to pretend they do not love America, the flag and The Constitution – then, by definition the Left is clearly on the other side. Pretending to bring “progress” to America is in reality hating what the Right strives to protect.

The catechism of Leftism lays out the hierarchy of causes; it tells the Left which side of an issue trumps the other. But always, it is the pretense which gives them cover.