Tuesday, October 11, 2016

009 The King of History

There is a wonderful strangeness buried in the deep past of the human race. But that strangeness deeply disturbs many people.

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008 The Dark Parade

We continue the discussion begun in a previous episode. What are we to make of all the near death reports that talk about nothing but Heaven, love peace?  Could most of this be an illusion?

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Monday, October 3, 2016

007 - Doorway Into Night

Is death final?  Could life continue in another place?  In this episode we begin the discussion of near death experiences.  I tell the true story that was behind a scene I wrote for The Equalizer television series. It was a scene about a hit man who was hit himself and what happened to him after the bullet entered his face.  That scene was based on an actual experience, an eye-witness account.

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006 - Soul Assault

Millions of people live in deep fear of something that haunts them. When it appears, they have no control over it. In this episode, we confront that fear and the answer to it.

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005 - Satan's Throne

Their evil voices are in the past and present speaking many lies. And they will speak with even more power in the future.  In this episode, we discuss one of those great lies which we have called the Cult of Spirit Healing. 

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Monday, July 1, 2013

The Curse of Sports

There a lot of curses in this world and I've decided that organized sports is a main one.  The curse of sports far outweighs the benefits. I'm not talking about the hellish aberrations that are often mentioned, such as the ridiculous amounts paid to professional athletes, or the drunken, destructive insanity that overtakes some fans when their teams win (or lose). I'm not even talking about the disturbing number of thugs that seem to populate too many professional teams.  I'm not talking about our ignorant deification of sports figures, including those thugs. To me, these are all symptoms of the root problem. 

The root problem is what might be called the Misplaced Team Loyalty Syndrome. From our earliest years, we are programmed to believe in and support "our team."  We ride the roller coaster of emotions with "our team."  When they win, we are filled with joy.  When they lose, we despair.  The players may be horrible, the coaching beyond stupid, but, no matter what, we must be faithful to "our team."  (Yes, I'm thinking of you Cubs fans.)  If we are disloyal, we are traitors.  We have been programmed to think this way since we were little children. 

Now as it relates to sports, all of this is may be blindly ignorant, but it's a relatively harmless blind ignorance.  Some dodo may waste his money on a cheesehead hat, but so what?  The problem (and the curse) is that this programmed syndrome doesn't stop with sports. It extends to almost every other area of life, from churches, to labor unions, to political parties, to businesses and on and on. It's the foundation of cults. We are programmed to be part of a team, to believe in our team, to be loyal to our team no matter what.  We NEED our team.  (My country, right or wrong, my country.)  Because we are programmed to blind loyalty, "our team" can do terrible things and we allow those things to continue. To stand against them makes us traitors. I've seen this in churches, in unions, in businesses, etc..  Team loyalty blinds us to the truth. We allow terrible things to continue and destructive people to remain in power because we refuse to accept the reality of what is right in front of us. We lie to ourselves about it.  We become slaves to "Team Think." By the time we do accept the truth, everything has gone to hell and many people have been hurt.

Now, our unwillingness to see and accept the truth is understandable, because there is always a price to be paid for what is considered disloyalty.  We're taught that from grade school. That price can be heavy.  At the very least, it is loneliness. If we are disloyal, we will be rejected by the team and then where will we be?  Alone, without a team. Sheep huddle with other sheep out of fear. Not being a "team player" is the ultimate condemnation in business.   It's almost as loathsome as stealing money. "Unless you start being a 'team player' you will lose your job."  Pure manipulation. At the most dangerous end of the spectrum is Edward Snowden. I'm sure there are many people in the NSA who believe just as he does.  But how many are willing to stand against the rejection of that "team?"  He's a brave man.

What's the ultimate result of the Misplaced Team Loyalty Syndrome?  Destruction of the team.  Those who speak truth that the team doesn't want to hear are isolated and silenced. When truth is rejected a terrible price is paid.  Ultimately, though it may take much time, any team that is founded on lies will cease to exist.  (When the teams get large enough, when they hate each other enough and when they gain resources enough, there is the penultimate team destruction, war.)

What are we to do about all of this?  First, be aware of the programming.  After that, no matter what "team" you have chosen, start questioning its truth claims. Ask the most radical questions and don't be afraid of the answers. Stop believing things just because everybody else does.  If the situation demands it, in the right spirit, in the right venue, at the right time, speak the truth in words of kindness.   And don't be afraid. You'll be surprised at how many people agree with you.  If you are the leader of a team, you'd better start listening to people who are saying things you don't want to hear.  Stop viewing them as traitors and impediments who disrespect you because they disagree and start viewing them as gifts that might just save your sorry butt.  If you reject truth, no matter where it comes from, eventually you will pay an awful price and others will pay it with you. As the leader, you will bear special responsibility for their suffering.    

Now, if you are a follower of Jesus, seeking and standing for truth wherever you find it, ought to be at the heart of your life. As for me, I have asked the toughest questions I could about faith in Jesus, the Messiah. I have tested His truth claims over many years and found them to be rock-solid. Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins on the cross, His death to pay our penalty and make us right with God, we can be citizens of His Kingdom in Heaven forever. All we have to do is ask for His forgiveness to receive it.  The result of His forgiveness is freedom from fear.  That means freedom to be members of many different "teams," yet stand apart from them as well, willing to take the risk of speaking truth and living with their rejection. Whether that rejection comes from Republicans, Democrats, Hollywood, the NSA, a business, a church, no matter. Whether it costs our lives, no matter. God is control and He has a special love for truth and those who stand for it. 

In opposition to the Misplaced Team Loyalty Syndrome are the words of Jesus, the King, to every individual who believes in Him, "Fear not, for I am with you." 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

About Mikey Weinstein, Atheist Who is Attacking Christians in the Military

I've been thinking a lot about Mikey Weinstein, the atheist who is leading the charge against Christians in the military. Let me tell you a story.

In November of 1967 I arrived in Vietnam. I was what was known as a "butter bar," a green second lieutenant, just eight months out of Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA. I was 22 years old. My first two weeks "in country" were spent at a "reception station" where all of us got some additional training and acclimated to the heat and the time change. Finally, my orders came through to go to a specific unit. They came late at night and I had to report immediately to an infantry battalion that was leaving in the morning to back up the 4rth Infantry Division. They were in some deep, deep #%&@ in a place called Dak To in the Central Highlands. Needless to say my stomach was churning just a bit.

So, close to midnight, I arrived in the battalion area. My first duty was to report to the battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel. I was told that he was in the officers club (just a large tent with a makeshift bar) with all the other officers of the unit. I thought that probably they were having a tactical meeting in preparation for the next day's festivities. Not quite. When I entered, I discovered that they were well into their "cups." Yes, they were getting drunk the night before a large combat mission. That was a bit disturbing.

I reported to the battalion commander. He ordered the bartender to get me a beer. That's when the difficulty started. I thanked him, but told him I'd take a Coke instead. (I had grown up in a conservative Christian community and, at the time, didn't drink alcohol of any kind.) The battalion commander stared at me. Then, he ordered me to drink a beer. Can you imagine a more surreal situation? What weird dimension had I entered? As politely as possible, I declined his order. I knew it was illegal, but I really, really didn't want to offend the man. That's not a good way to go into combat.

Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin (I will never forget his name) proceeded to lock my heels, standing me at attention and, for the next hour, in front of all the other officers of the battalion, he berated me for not drinking, for being married (yes, that too) and for being a second lieutenant. Over and over he ordered me to drink and over and over I politely declined. (Let's be honest, at a certain point I would have drunk acid before I drank one of his beers.) Now, I didn't announce that I was a Christian. But that was obvious because back then about the only people who didn't drink were Christians or Mormons. The man was drunk, so after an hour I just wore him out. Finally, he gave up.

A week or two later the chaplain took me aside and told me that he admired me for the stand I had taken against the bully. But neither he nor any other officer stood up for me that night. Strangely, I didn't write to my mommy and daddy, complaining about the harassment that I had received. I didn't complain ten months later either. By that time I was a combat experienced first lieutenant and the executive officer of a rifle company in the same battalion. A captain arrived to take command of the company. He was a West Pointer. When he found out that I was a Christian who had attended the Moody Bible Institute he announced that he was an ex-Christian who had once learned a hundred Bible verses and been involved with a campus ministry. But he could only mock me so far because I had more combat experience than he did. While he could mock my faith, which he did, he couldn't mock me as a man or a combat officer.

What's the point of this? I've read the story of Mikey Weinstein and his son who both complained bitterly that Christians had harassed them at the Air Force Academy. Let me be clear, I don't believe in harassing anyone ever for their religious beliefs or lack of them. (There are plenty of other reasons to harass people that are far more enjoyable.) But Christians have been harassed in the military for almost 2000 years. (Read the story that comes out of ancient Rome called the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste. They were the pride of the Roman army and they died for their faith.) As a Christian, you expect harassment and discrimination. It comes with the territory wherever you are. So suck it up.

I don't think the real issue for Mikey Weinstein is oppression because of his atheism. Neither do I think it's oppression because he and his son are Jews. I've known brave, tough soldiers who were atheists and Jews. They could take anything thrown at them and they have my eternal respect both as men and warriors. I think the real issue for Mikey Weinstein and his son is gutlessness. They are wusses. Mama's boys. I've known boys like this in the army. They couldn't take the heat. While the other men were sucking it up and going through the rough training, they were writing to their Congressman.

The military is a crucible. It brings out the best or the worst in a person. If you are a whiner and a complainer you get no respect and that must haunt you. I suppose it might make you furious enough to spend the rest of your life lashing out at those you blame for your own failure. I'm sure it would be important to convince yourself that, in reality, you aren't a coward, you're really a defender of freedom. I feel sorry for Mikey Weinstein and his son. They should have our pity, not our anger.