Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Christian friend feels cut off from family

A friend asked, “I have been divided off from the rest of you due to my beliefs. What do you think of this?” 

I think you can believe whatever you want to believe. I think that everyone is doing the best they know how. That’s good enough for me.

The difference between me and most Christians today is that they use scripture to determine what love means, but I use love to determine what scripture means. 

Jesus taught that we should love God, and our neighbor as our self; and that all the Law and the Prophets depend on that. The Law and the Prophets (and Psalms) were all of the authorized scriptures of Jesus’ day. By extension, the same juju thing applies to all the authorized scriptures of today – including the Bible. Understanding it depends on love. Love is the key to understanding. 

The English version of Deuteronomy 6:4 usually leaves out a word included in the original Hebrew: “Hear you, Israel, Yahweh Elohim-of-us, Yaweh [is] one, AND-you-love Yaweh ….” In the original message from God, the phrase “God is one” is integrally connected with the command “love God.” 

In John 17:3, Jesus makes a formula statement: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God ….” For the rest of the chapter, he expands on that, praying that we be one with him. He culminates in the ecstatic statement in verse 23, that “they may be brought to complete unity (or perfect oneness).” 

So, I think that Jesus teaches love and unity. Out of that core message, he warns of divisions or denominations. 

It seems obvious that people want to feel the world is safe and their lives are stable. Anything that doesn’t fit with their nice, neat worldview meets with strong objections and defensiveness, even violence. “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matt 10:36   

In fact, when someone starts speaking about something that isn’t nice and neat, most people will ignore him, turn their backs on him, avoid him, interrupt him, and even rescue others from a sensitive topic by talking loudly over the top of the speaker. We can’t have a civil argument, because people are so fragile and defensive, even actively seeking to misunderstand. Vigilant defensiveness. Divisiveness. Resisting know more and even anything different. 

But divisiveness is not Jesus’ message. Division is the reaction against Jesus’ message. 

So, what do I think? I think people use scripture to justify what they are doing.  

Instead, I accept pre-emptive forgiveness. I use love to guide what I am doing. I seek first to understand. Then I seek to be understood. And, if someone wants to be my “enemy,” they can do it without my participation. - Christopher

Thursday, August 6, 2020

An Outline of the History of the Radical Right's Rise to Power

By Christopher Aune

It’s come to my attention that virtually nobody understands the historical context of the current radical right-wing takeover of the government and overturning the Constitution. So, here are some points to consider.

  1. The Founding Fathers – esp. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson - debated whether the Constitution should foster rapid growth or empower individuals. Madison argued for rapid growth, free markets, unregulated interstate commerce, large companies and gleaming cities that benefit the surrounding countryside. Notably, Madison was very wealthy and owned slaves, and he was trying to protect his class in the Constitution. Jefferson argued for small businesses, family farms, individuals’ rights, and regulated banks and commerce. In the end, Jefferson relented because, despite winning the Revolutionary War, America was economically weak and the British Empire was mighty. The USA had to foster rapid growth and expansion to stand off a return by the Brits. 
  2. It turned out to be the right move, as the British returned to reclaim “their colonies” in the War of 1812, but lost.
  3. In 1828, the federal government imposed an import tariff aimed at limiting dependency on other countries. The Southern states labeled it the Tariff of Abominations because it resulted in retaliatory limits on Southern exports. But it was consistent with the Constitutional intent, because it fostered the strong growth of the North’s manufacturing industries. 
  4. John C. Calhoun, during his term as seventh Vice President (1825-1832), reacted against taxes and fiscal policy because he saw it as key to withstanding democracy’s threat to economic liberty. That is, he wanted to empower plantation owners over the will of the majority of Americans.
  5. James Buchanan, President from 1857-1861, was a Southern sympathizer from Pennsylvania. He chose four Southerners and three Northerners, whom were all Southern sympathizers. In 1857, Buchanan intervened in the Dred Scott case – which initially denied the enslaved petitioner’s request for freedom – and prevailed on a Supreme Court judge to create a majority and make the ruling apply more broadly to include all Western territories. This outraged Northerners who denounced it. Buchanan’s was considered a failed presidency, which led directly to the Civil War. 
  6. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional; and ordered states to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."
  7. Around 1956, Professor James McGill Buchanan – with support of many others, including Milton Friedman – reacted strongly against the Brown decision. He formed a school of political economy at the University of Virginia. He spelled out and taught in great detail the case for “economic liberty,” that is, the benefit of few rules to constrain how a man might get wealthy, and great restraints on the government levying taxes on that wealth. Later, he pointed out that the majority of Americans would not support his ideas; and therefore, they could not win by persuasion. Therefore, they had to create “winning strategies.”
  8. In the 1970s, Charles Koch learned of Buchanan’s theories. In 1997-98, Koch invested millions of dollars in Buchanan’s Center for Study of Public Choice. It trained operatives to staff institutions funded by the Koch brothers, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, the State Policy Network, the Competitive Enterprise Institute , the Tax Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Leadership Institute and dozens of others, plus Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries itself. Buchanan’s center has now moved to the Mercatus Center on George Mason University. Buchanan died in 2013. 
  9. Now-VP Mike Pence is heavily involved with the Kochs. When Pence left as Indiana’s District 6 Representative to Congress, Luke Messer, who first worked for the Kochs, replaced him. Pence’s brother, Greg, followed Messer in that elected seat. Senator Ted Cruz is another name most will recognize. 
  10. When the Senate Republicans rejected the evidence for impeachment in January 2020, they excused it, each using virtually the same wording, saying it was a political move by Democrats. By doing so, they failed to perform their Constitutional duty, putting politics over rule of law. Many were following the radical right leadership, fearing their Senatorial vote would be invalidated if they didn't march in lockstep. 

This is a bare-bones outline of how this line of thought developed and now comes to rule in the USA. The philosophy is this:

  • They are reacting to what they see as the ability of the federal government to force individuals with wealth to pay for more public goods and social services that they had no say in approving.
  • Their aim is to insulate private property rights from the reach of government, in particular by reducing the freedom of the many … by hollowing out resistance from the majority of voters.

To gain a more authoritative look at the history of James McGill Buchanan and Charles Koch, and their radical-right legacy, see Democracy in Chains, by Nancy McLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. 




Thursday, June 4, 2020

In Union There Is Strength
By James Mattis
Retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 26th US secretary of defense. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. 
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Racism: Root cause and a key solution

I’ll cut to the chase: Here is the root cause and the answer you are looking for…

“It falls on all of us, … to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions and our hearts.” – Barack Obama


Bias in any form is never okay and should be avoided.

How can you recognize if you're being biased? And how can you practice avoiding bias?

How to recognize your own bias: Any time you FEEL STRONGLY in agreement or in disagreement about anything, that is a bright red flag that you are holding tightly to some preconceived notion that is preventing you from truly understanding. That is bias.

How to avoid bias: When you notice that red flag of bias (strong feelings), first, remember that there's a whole science behind this. Our initial understanding of any other person is only about 34% accurate. We fill in the other 66% with our preconceived ideas. This is Phase I Understanding (superficial, automatic, grossly inaccurate). (Research cited in No One Understands You and What to Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson PhD, Harvard Business Review Press)

When you notice the red flag, stop and start LISTENing. Patiently seek out the rest of the story. Start trying to figure out why that person is acting or talking that way. SEEK UNDERSTANDING. This is Phase II Understanding (studied, takes work, still imperfect). You will never exceed 85% understanding, even after 40 years of knowing someone. Truth!

So, be humble: Realize that you do not know everything; and, in fact, you know very little. Other people are always weird, but they can describe a good reason for their words and behaviors if given the chance. Give them that chance.

Everyone must be trained in this skill once a year. By itself, this will change the world.

Can it be that easy?! Yes. And no: It takes practice. 

And BTW … We know how to bring Heaven to Earth in this generation. – Christopher

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A lesson in humility from COVID-19

One man tried to convince me that the coronavirus mortality rate was much lower than was being reported because people who had pre-existing diseases and died with coronavirus were being listed as death by coronavirus.

Another man tried to convince me that the coronavirus infection rate was much higher than was being reported because many people had only minor symptoms and never reported it.

What I have observed in life – and learned from social science research – is that people build a world view that is between 33-50% accurate; and we fill in the rest with memories from previous, similar experiences. At best – even after two people have lived together for 40 years – our understanding of them is 67-85% accurate. 

That’s 15-33% wrong. We don’t know each other. We don’t really see reality as it is. We’re inventing a huge chunk of it on the fly.

We use this mental-construct of the world to guide our response to the ever-changing, overwhelming changes of the real world: A process called ego. We project our own interpretations onto the world based on our imprecise perspective, and we try to convince other people of the way we see the world. Leaders are good at convincing people that their worldview is the most accurate, when actually it’s just the most popular and most widely shared.

We work hard to impose our inaccurate, ego view of the world on others, and we get upset when someone disagrees. They don’t get it.

Alternatively, we can learn to recognize that there are way too many stimuli in our surroundings for our senses to detect. If our senses could detect all those stimuli, our brains would be overwhelmed. We’d be unable to function.

To prevent that overwhelm, our senses and the brain have evolved to sort through incoming stimuli to select that which is familiar and makes sense: that which fits our narrow worldview. We dismiss the rest – the majority of information. There’s nothing wrong with this, it is natural and normal process.

But we almost never recognize that this is what’s going on. It’s important to recognize that we get overwhelmed, and that we are selective in what we sense in the world. It protects us from information overload, which would disable us. We wouldn’t be able to make sense of the real world without a mental concept to compare it against. We couldn’t survive. We would die.

When we recognize that this is going on and that our understanding is usually 33-50% accurate – 85% at best, after we’ve thought about it – we become better able to accept that there is more going on than we know. When we recognize that there is more going on that we know, We can be more flexible about accepting the utter fluidity of life and other people’s mental constructs for what they are. This is the practice of HUMILITY, which I keep trying to master in a perpetual struggle with my ego, which wants to be king.

So, my questions about the COVID death rate and the COVID infection rate would NOT be, “Are these accurate?” We know they are not. We don’t have enough accurate data to make evaluations.

My questions would be, “Which perspective is best? One that is certain, or one that is humble?” “Who can be certain?” “Can anybody be certain at this point?”

Obviously, there is no certainty; so, humility is in order.

And that’s a lesson in humility that COVID is teaching us ... IF we’re paying attention.  


Also, on YouTube 
And your favorite podcast app. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Shambala Warrior Prophecy

When the world is about to destroy itself and all life is threatened, the Shambala Warrior appears and destroys the weapons of war and violence. And the kingdom of Shambala appears. It is not a place, but it is a way of being.

They train in the use of two weapons:
  1. Compassion
  2. Insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena
Don’t be afraid of the powers and their weapons, for they too are part of all that is.

We do not know the outcome. It may appear too great a change for it to appear, but ignore that.

Just be in compassion and insight. Share the compassion and insight.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19 eats lungs*

Here are some things you probably don’t know about COVID-19, simplified from a statement from Kat Storti quoted in the Tom King blog

COVID-19  is different from seasonal flu. Flu is an “all human virus,” it transfers from humans to humans every year. Because it comes around each year, we have some natural immunity to it. Additionally, we have a flu shot that helps us acquire immunity and strengthen it. Natural and acquired immunity.  

Not so for COVID-19. We have no natural immunity to it, and there is no vaccination yet.
COVID-19 doesn’t just stuff up your sinuses and lungs; it eats the lungs.

COVID-19 is a “novel” virus, which was previously only in animals. When a novel virus makes the jump to humans, it becomes a problem because we have no natural or acquired immunity to it. We’ve never been exposed to it before, and there is no vaccination shot for it. We are totally unprepared for its assault on our bodies.  

Initially, such a mutation only transfers from animals to humans, so we only get it from an infected animal. Eventually, it mutates so it can transfer from human to human. When that happens, human beings carry it all over the world, and we have a contagion.  

COVID-19 made the jump from animals to humans in December 2019, and in JUST TWO WEEKS it mutated again to jump from humans to humans. This ability to mutate quckly is what scientists call “slippery.”

Besides becoming more contagious among humans, COVID-19 also changed to cause great damage to human lungs. That’s why it’s different from flu: It’s a lung eater.* It’s already mutated AGAIN; so there are now two strains, which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine. Who knows what happens if it mutates again?

(*Actually, the disease has a more complex progression, but the worst-case end result is that the lungs get eaten up. Read this for a more detailed explanation:

NOTE: I don't know who the hell Kat Storti is. Tom King did not include credentials when he referenced her in his post.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Is the Fed saying the next recession breaks them?

“A promise to leave rates at zero until the central bank’s job and inflation goals are met, coupled with perhaps a trillion dollars a year in bond purchases, may be the Fed’s best hope of beating the next recession, and even then may fall short, former Fed research director David Wilcox and former top adviser William Reifschneider said in a paper released on Wednesday.” - Reuters

So, this implies that the Federal Reserve is counting on people to buy trillions of dollars of U.S. bonds that offer zero interest ... in order to bail the economy out of the next recession.

Scientists discover how the universe was created, millennia after Moses said the same thing

“Ripples in space-time could explain the mystery of why the universe exists,” according to Jeff Dror, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and physics researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Funny thing … Moses said that thousands of years ago.

- Genesis 1:2 literally says, at the beginning of creation, "The spirit of Elohim vibrating over the surface of the waters." -…/OTpdf/gen1.pdf 

Why no one understands and what to do about it

These days, there are huge powers creating chaos. They are so huge that people cannot grasp how big they are, even when it’s carefully explained to them. It’s impossible to imagine how much power just a few people have.

How much is a billion dollars? A trillion? Just as an example, I’ve seen Jeff Bezos’ $116 billion illustrated this way: Take one grain of rice as a representation of $100,000, an amount any of us would love to earn in a year. At that scale, ten grains of rice would be a million dollars. One thousand grains = one-hundred million dollars. One-hundred thousand grains of rice would be ten billion dollars. Bezos has 11.6 times that much: 1,160,000 grains of rice at $100,000 each. There are about 29,000 grains of rice in a pound; so, Jeff Bezos has about 40 pounds of rice, each grain representing $100,000. I don’t blame Bezos.

Bezos is not the problem. The problem is that, because people don’t understand, none of my knowledge or experience matters. Nobody’s expertise matters. No credentials, or decades of research, or carefully cultivated credibility matters. Even the well-established facts don’t matter. All facts and researchers can all be dismissed in an instant with a sneer and a turn of the back. Because people don’t take time to think, and they especially don’t want to be reminded that they don’t think.
It’s much easier to wave a hand and blot out all facts. Shake the head and claim credible media sources report fake news.

People make a quick, shallow assessment of a situation, a person or a national issue – and then fill in the blanks to support their hipshot assessment. This is called Phase I judgment. Phase I judgment achieves only 33% accuracy, at best. But 95% of every story we tell ourselves is based on Phase I judgment.

Phase II judgment happens when someone starts questioning their first impression and starts digging for more accurate information in a search for the truth. But even when we take time for a second look and carefully dig out the facts, science has discovered that we can only achieve – at best – about 67% accuracy in our understanding of other people and situations, even after we’ve lived with a person for 40 years. (For a better understanding, of Phase I & II judgments, see No One Understands You and What to Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Associate Professor of Motivation Science Center, Columbia Business School.)

But our understanding of each other is worse than that. Because we operate on Phase I judgment in 95% of our daily doings, and it is only 33% accurate, we just automatically fill in the rest of the story with information we picked up in a similar situation. We judge people and situations based on 67% fabricated information. We make up a story to explain things and to make ourselves comfortable that there is order in the universe … in the world … in the country.

Don’t get me wrong. Telling stories is an ancient survival skill. There is so much going on in the real world that we construct a vastly simplified mental model of the world. This mental model becomes second nature: An automatic, unconscious response to 95% of the day’s doings. The only time we wake up is when something doesn’t match our mental model. Then, we wake up for about five seconds. (Scientists measured it.) Most of the time, when we wake up, we only check to see if there is an immediate threat. Then, we go back to default mode, dismiss the new situation, and go back to unconscious autopilot. This all happens in about five seconds. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. And we miss it frequently.

Scientists call the process we use to build stories “motivated reasoning.” People get a feeling, make up a story to support that feeling, and then watch for facts to support their story. It’s a very human tendency that we apply to all kinds of facts about the environment, god, economic history, and current events. We make up stories about each other, and the story is only one-third accurate … at best. But we live by our stories. (See the book, The Truth About Denial, by Adrian Bardon, Professor at Wake Forest University.)

All of this is to say that, it behooves us to be constantly aware of our own fragility. To realize that we don’t really understand … ever. That others don’t understand us … ever. And with that realization, we need to try to enter Phase II judgment – to think twice, so we can begin to approach halfway understanding. Then we can be more patient, more tolerant, more curious about what’s really going on, and take time to listen carefully, ask questions, and maybe learn something. It could change the world.