Toward Christ

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Jacob’s Dream

by William Blake (c. 1805, British Museum, London)

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Christotelic  —  Telos is a Greek word meaning “end” or “goal.”  

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Toward Christ.

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The Old Testament does not  flow easily into the New Testament,

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nor do the Old Testament writers “predict” Jesus of Nazareth in any conventional sense of the word “predict.”

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The tendency toward “mystical”(i.e., midrashic ) readings of scripture in Judaism at that time is the hermeneutical (interpretive) backdrop for understanding our “Christotelic” hermeneutic (an instance of genre-calibration — interpret the New Testament alongside the other ancient analog Old Testament).

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This is why – as several Bible readers  know – New Testament writers, when quoting the Old Testament, typically “take it out of context,” meaning the context of the original utterance. The gospel includes creative re-framing of Israel’s story.

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adapted from

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/03/get-to-know-me-my-approach-to-interpreting-the-bible-in-5-words/
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And that is the goal of story: to make meaning out of a set of events  — into a collective narrative. 

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The right words can help us apprehend our lives in deeper, more intentional and more meaningful ways.

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There’s a reason the Hebrew verb dabar can mean either “to say” or “to do.” The Hebrew worldview speaks to the power of words: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

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What inspires one?   Life. Love. Tragedy. Suffering. Redemption. Evil. Beneficence. Truth. Beauty. Moral dilemmas. Mystery. The human journey inspires one, in virtually any form or circumstance.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Playing_with_words_is_fun_as_well_as_meaningful.html
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These, anyhow, are the price of admission, or as Luke intones,  the cost of discipleship .         

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Jesus lived without wealth, position, status, and even acceptance in that He was rejected by His own (John 1:11). Unlike the foxes that have their dens and the birds their nests, the Son of Man had no place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20).     

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What about us? Although rights, privileges, pleasures, possessions, expectations, and well-formed plans may not be wrong in and of themselves, are we willing to hold them just temporarily and  then let them go?

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Though nowhere near the caliber of Jesus,   contemporary social outsiders who expose to absurdity especially the manners of the upper gentry include Charles Dickens and W.M. Thackeray  —   thematically, we  all are flawed to a greater or lesser degree. 

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A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. Riddle enigmas are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riddle
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Hope   —

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The Thorn Birds book title obliquely refers to the mythical “thornbird” that searches for thorn trees from the day it is hatched. When it finds the perfect thorn, it impales itself, and sings the most beautiful song ever heard as it dies. It directly alludes, as should be obvious from the novel’s subject matter, to the Parable of the Sower in the Synoptic Gospels and chapter 9 of the Gospel of Thomas.

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Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide.

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 F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity
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In this sense, the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) is unique to Matthew’s Gospel because it does not give us an explicit interpretation (unlike the parable of the sower in Matthew 13).
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 As a result, scholars have offered many interpretations, including the implication of justifying unfair or abusive labor practices by employers. 
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Does Jesus mean that we should be content when we or other workers are treated unfairly?
“The majority will rule”  (negative connotation is “mob rule”)  —   our creed   —  honest day’s wages for honest day’s work, not pay for non-performance, our majority rule/ethic  —
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is upended by God’s rule of follow me into my Kingdom  —

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Perhaps the parable is not really about work. The context is that Jesus is giving surprising examples of those who belong to God’s kingdom: for example, children (Matt. 19:14) who legally don’t even own themselves. He is clear that the kingdom does not belong to the rich, or at least not to very many of them (Matt. 19:23-26). It belongs to those who follow him, in particular if they suffer loss. “Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matt. 19:30). The present parable is followed immediately by another ending with the same words, “the first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matt. 20:16). This suggests that the story is a continuation of the discussion about those to whom the kingdom belongs. Entry into God’s kingdom is not gained by our work or action, but by the generosity of God.

http://www.theologyofwork.org/new-testament/matthew/living-in-the-new-kingdom-matthew-18-25/the-laborers-in-the-vineyard-matthew-201-16/
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Paradoxes are irresolvable truths, not contradictions, in which only one opposite is true (a contradiction).

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Irony and paradox as distinct and not convergent   —

 

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http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/english/2010/lesson_plans/reading/nonfiction/9-12/14_11-12_readingnonfiction_recognizing_ambiguity_contraction.pdf

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There is something compelling about people’s stories, something that taps into a deep human need for narrative. The pull of Pericopes and Parables can really be traced back to ancient story telling traditions, which exist in every world culture. We see parts of ourselves in both ancient and modern-day narratives, just as we construct stories about our own personal realities.

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Psychological scientists have in recent years begun to examine this deep human yearning for story — in particular our need to create a coherent narrative identity. They have been using narrative identity as both an indicator of psychological health and a possible tool for enhancing well-being.

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We all construct a coherent narrative identity, according to the emerging theory, from the accumulated particulars of our autobiographies as well as our envisioned goals. We internalize this story over time, and use it to convey to ourselves and others who we are, where we came from, and where we think we’re heading. Consider the example of redemption. McAdams and other scientists have been asking people to narrate scenes and extended stories from their past, and then they code the accounts for key ideas like redemption and self-determination and community. They have found that people who include themes of redemption in their stories — a marked transition from bad to good — are less focused on themselves and more focused on community and the future. They’re more mature emotionally.

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This is just one example of how people make narrative sense of the suffering in their lives. Others have studied how people narrate life challenges, such as a painful divorce or a child’s illness, and they have found that those who produce detailed accounts of loss are better adapted psychologically. Their narratives often strike themes of growth and learning and transformation. Importantly, the stories of the well-adapted have endings, positive resolutions of bad experiences.

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Psychotherapy is largely about personal narratives. Therapists help their clients to “re-story” their lives by finding more positive narratives for unhappy experiences. Indeed, when scientists asked former psychotherapy patients to describe how they remembered their therapeutic experience, the healthier ones told heroic stories, tales in which they bravely battled their symptoms and emerged victorious. This narrative theme of personal control was also and by far the best predictor of therapeutic success: As patients’ stories increasingly emphasized self-determination, these patients’ symptoms abated and their health improved. The stories themselves created an identity that was mature and well-adjusted.

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What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”       ― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes    

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3375915-nineteen-minutes
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Although I don’t drink alcohol, I accompanied my friend & Alcoholics Anonymous leader for our island to a community group therapy session.   I went in cynically with the 4-word notion of “practice what you preach” when alcoholics stay sober by urging others to stay sober (the so-called hypocrisy of not addressing self-restraint/responsibility).    Lo/behold, I came out with the amazing 3-word resolution of “man’s fallen nature”    — that you do whatever it takes to to keep you straight   — even if it means telling others to stay straight in order for you to stay straight  — I thereby accept man’s fallen nature & proceed accordingly  — instead of being haughty/puffed up/judgmental.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-arpinricci/the-vulnerable-faith-of-brene-brown_b_7021714.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books      adaptation below   —
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As with  the Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971 Serenity Prayer, we must  be willing to name our imperfections and accept what we cannot change.

This critical point is central to the book, Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick (Paraclete Press, 2015), where one draws  from the gritty truths of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps. The steps take for their foundation an unqualified declaration that we are powerless alone to overcome our own hurts, hangups, and habits  — that we need something bigger than ourselves. Most of us hide from the difficult reality by embracing what I call “the other deadly sin” —  pretense.

“Pretense, like hypocrisy, is the act or appearance of being something that it is not. It is about giving the impression of something as being true that is, in fact, false.”

From the covering of our nakedness in Eden to the polite dishonesty of “putting on our Sunday best,” pretense is borne from our fear — fear of being separated, alienated and rejected. Yet it also becomes the prison that keeps us bound up. Vulnerability is a path to freedom from these chains, but a freedom purchased at a high price. It should not surprise us that we so often opt for pretense over vulnerability — after all, the latter is a call to a form of death, in part what Jesus means when He calls us to take up our crosses and follow Him. However, when we follow this path to the cross surrounded by the love and grace of God and trusted family and friends, the liberty frees us to be people we were truly meant to be. As Jean Vanier reminds us:

Coming to terms with life means embracing the essence of our humanity, which is vulnerable. Life implies death. Loving one another implies the possibility of humiliation or rejection. This is reality. But to live in fear is not to live at all. And so we must be vulnerable so that we are free from fear, free to love.

Far more than simply a self-help method of personal freedom, the liberty that comes with vulnerability frees us, as Vanier pointed out, to truly love others. The beauty of the saving work of Jesus Christ is that, as we embrace humble vulnerability, out of our weakness and brokenness emerges ministry. Despite the thinking of modern marketing, that suggests our faith will be most appealing to others when they see it as a glorious and flawless life, the wisdom of vulnerability demonstrates that people are more likely to be drawn to a community of mutually struggling, yet hopeful and gracious people. In other words, there is more hope in honest brokenness than in the pretense of false wholeness.

This is why I choose St. Patrick of Ireland as my patron saint of vulnerability. Patrick was born to privilege, power and wealth. Yet, it was when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery that he was forced to face the emptiness of the pretense in his life. Not only did that process bring him into a meaningful faith in God, but also produced in him a love that was truly selfless. After all, after his escape to freedom, that love led him back to the land of his captors as a servant missionary. His example is worth our consideration.

Thomas Merton once said, “We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.” The work of Brené Brown invites us to shed light into that darkness and to face our imperfection with humility and hope, to embrace a the power of a vulnerable faith.

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Biblical Jonah typifies our broken fallen nature   — hailed as a prophet for going to Nineveh to proclaim Nineveh’s destruction (Nimrod’s city), Jonah’s overpride eventually spells Jonah’s doom.   Like Jonah, our lives go up and down like a pogo stick, eventually staying stuck in the abyss of self-pity.

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Christianity’s Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus are about love for one another, even if it means giving up one’s own life for another.    

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Unlike Asian faith/thought  (solitary escape-release from suffering  — Japan has among the highest suicide rates among industrialized nations), Christianity is about helping one another.

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Love is all about relationship   — to love one another  — and to be loved by one another.    

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Sunday morning Christians say relationship, not religion, but the truth and reality of Christian love are way deeper than boorish impetuous quick fix catch phrases.  
 

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I am reminded of David Foster Wallace, who in “This Is Water” urges us to imagine with generosity the lives we encounter: “I can choose,” he tells us, “to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, but that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than me.”

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Christianity does not just “swallow its own stomach.”    Yes, the truth and reality of Lord Jesus  entail endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensure incomprehensibility at the moment they compel speech.  

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Yet, unlike especially Eastern religion mindless aimless tropes/cure-alls/riddles  (e.g. koans  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dan#Insight ) —  Christianity overcomes vexing despair, indifference, hopelessness, and tragedy — rampant in today’s global culture of instant gratification and gratuitous violence/pleasure.

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Jesus fulfills “patterns” not “predictions.”

In other words, rather than thinking “Here is where the Old Testament clearly predicts Jesus of Nazareth,” think, “Who Jesus was and what he did was described by these early Christian writers by calling upon Old Testament ‘patterns’ that they believed reached their fullest and final expressions in Jesus.”

So when Paul says that Jesus died and was raised “in accordance with the scriptures,” he is not suggesting we play Where’s Waldo with the Old Testament to look for some verses that speak of Jesus in a predictive way. He is saying “look for these patterns of God’s dealings with his people of old and then see what happens with them in Jesus.”

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The Joseph story is not a “prediction” of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in any sense of the word. And to limit how we see the connection between this story and the gospel as “prediction” is really to under-read the “patterns” in the Bible.

From the point of view of the Old Testament writers, and in my opinion, these stories of Israel’s patriarchs were written from the point of view of Israel’s later experience of going into their own “pit/death”  of exile in Babylon–returning home was a kind of “national resurrection.”

In other words, Israel’s later realities were scripted into their ancient stories.

The gospel writers and Paul follow on this theme by portraying Jesus as returning his people from “exile,” thus being raised from the dead. Jesus’ own physical resurrection is an embodiment  and therefore fuller expression of the Old Testament nationalistic ideal.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/does-the-old-testament-predict-easter-no-actually-it-does-more/#ixzz3WkrJEa3q

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Writing as expression requires assimilation of the starkest realities and contradictions of our ephemeral nature and existence. Betrayal, violence, and death dangerously draw the expressor to the flame.

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One experiences rending of the veil.  Expression is the opposite of “play church” — expression here is spirituality without its man-God —  expression is spirituality with real God.  The expressor might even be Tolstoy’s Hermit in Three Questions, Cormac McCarthy’s Mennonite in Blood Meridian, a cosmically mind-blowing Prophet Fool.  The expressor manifests sublime vision that is matched only by still more ferocious irony.

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Evocation is genesis. Hatching a fully fleshed world, dense with character and narrative, from a single deed. Maybe from an ambivalent glimpse.

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Creation requires transgression, the obliteration of boundaries, and a vision beyond vision. The evoker does not choose one’s creation. The creation chooses the expressor —  the creation impregnates, violates, and inflames the expressor. To inhabit the worlds one births, both elevates and isolates the expressor.

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This creation is a subtraction of self, an absence, a loss one experiences and hopes to share.  Loneliness.  Few ever escape the afflictions of spiritual poverty, depression, illness, and addiction. Creation hurts. One fails anew each day.

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Loss suredly slips into failure. Creation is destruction. Of spouses. Of progeny. Of friends. Creation requires an audience, but never guarantees it. Without external validation, emptiness and nihilism can impinge upon this pilgrim. The scorn of one’s peers might buffet a writer, yet silence could unhinge one.

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No author creates without indwelling a marginal status — albeit immense imaginative horizons which self-reduction imbues. The expressor as loser, as outcast, as exile, as a point diminishing nearest to oblivion — acquires the option to create capaciously out of nothingness, which is infinity. The expressor as author serenely vanishes. We inherit everything left behind  — eternity.

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adapted from

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/modern-societys-devolution-and-self-absorption-we-need-symbols-which-participate-in-the-things-they-represent/

 

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I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rubinstein/writing-process_b_2707747.html?utm_hp_ref=books
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http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteBred.htm

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Paradox and irony seem quite distinct.

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Paradox relies on the clarity and exactness of language; it shows that truth can be expressed by words alone.

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Irony uses words to point beyond language.

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Irony shows that there are some truths which, though they cannot be articulated in words,

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can none the less be expressed by means of words.

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Irony, like many other figures, is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language,

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of ensuring that it does not disguise thought

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but is both the midwife and the medium of thought.

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Not everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly,

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but everything that can be thought at all can be put into words.

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E.g. –

In praise of mystic Christian Joanne: “I recognized that our seminaries could teach us how to think and even how to apply the truths of Scriptures to certain situations, but our seminaries did not have the ability nor the capacity to teach their young ministers how to feel. Only the Prompt of the Spirit could provide that.” — James H. Hill, Jr.

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E.g. –

Richard Hays’ Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Paul’s readings of Scripture are not constrained by a historical scrupulousness about the original meaning of the texts. Eschatological meaning subsumes original sense…. True interpretation depends neither on historical inquiry nor on erudite literary analysis but on attentiveness to the promptings of the Spirit, who reveals the gospel through Scripture in surprising ways. In such interpretations, there is an element of playfulness, but the freedom of intertextual play is grounded in a secure sense of the continuity of God’s grace: Paul trusts the same God who spoke through Moses to speak still in his own transformative reading. Just as my lectionary commentary invites Christians to read the Bible as Jesus read the ‘Bible’ in his day (with a hermeneutic of love), Hays’ work invites us to embrace the same freedom to interpret the Bible that Paul with other ancient commentators claimed. — sage Carl Gregg

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And yet,

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The Epicurean paradox “problem of evil” is a cosmic irony due to the sharp contrast/incongruity between reality and human ideals, or between human intentions and actual results. The resulting situation is poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Paradoxes#Philosophy
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Cosmic_irony_.28Irony_of_fate.29
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-tener/writing-a-book-forget-formulatry-method-_b_7157396.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books
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Narrative can follow a deep psychological form, like Joseph Campbell’s work with The Hero with a Thousand Faces — but I don’t think we get to the heart of the stories we’re writing by filling out the boxes of what happens at 75 percent or 95 percent of the way through the narrative. I’ve tried that approach and it kills  creativity.

I think it’s far better to “pants” — write by the seat of your pants — and then use tools like the three tools of Book Architecture: the grid, the arc, and the target to ascertain what you’re working with and how to make your material come together on its own terms.

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As writers, we want to create something original, so we need to “pants” first and then find some tools to assess what we’ve done that will help us evolve our thinking over the next horizon…and then the next. This way we’re in a constant dance with our own unfolding imaginations. And that’s the best thing about writing that there is.

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Evangelicals (emotionalists) feel that effective evangelism cannot properly be exercised without the accompanying miraculous work.

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But this  distorts the Gospel  message from being one of salvation to  one of experiencing God’s blessings now.

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The one that surprised me the most was anointing of the sick. I used to think such a practice involved superstition and false hope,

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but that was before I learned the difference between curing and healing.

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We may not be able to cure what ails our friends and neighbors, but as Christians we are called to the work of healing —

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of entering into one another’s pain, anointing it as holy and sticking around no matter the outcome.

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An anointing is an acknowledgment.

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In a culture of cure-alls and quick fixes, the sacrament of anointing the suffering is a powerful, countercultural gift the church offers the world.

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Just about every denomination in the American church — including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates. I felt drawn to the Logos/Word  because it offered some practices I felt were missing in my evangelical experience, like space for silence and reflection, a focus on Christ’s presence at the Communion table as the climax and center of every worship service.

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But I know plenty of folks who were raised as mainstream Protestants who have become Rhema/Spirit  evangelical, drawn by the exciting and energetic worship or the emphasis on personal testimony and connection to Scripture. It’s common in young adulthood to   seek out faith traditions that supplement the one in which you were raised. It’s not about rejecting your background, just about finding your own way. I don’t want to project my experience onto all young folks.


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Discipleship is not something we measure best in numbers. A church might produce thousands of attendees without producing any disciples.

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adapted from

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signs_and_Wonders#Critical_responses

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/10/rachel-held-evans-episcopalian-evangelical_n_6842872.html?cps=gravity_2677_-2081936676508168272

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/ambivalence-challenges-most-close-relationships

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An accepted bit of “wisdom” in our culture is that, in marriage, being “in love” and hot sex must, of necessity, “wear off.” The elders ask us to accept that.  But this bit of wisdom isn’t so wise.

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 In fact, it’s a sad excuse for lack of commitment to a most intimate spiritual togetherness.

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It is ambivalence that erodes love and sex. Nothing more. Nothing less. The human ego finds the experience of great vulnerability — great love — both compelling (approach-love)) and intolerable (avoid-hate). So we seek it, find it and then promptly begin to erode it, starve it (slow deprivation) and stonewall it (slow poison) so as to protect ourselves. This almost always is an unconscious process.   (slow deprivation/slow poison below)

In fact, that’s the rub: Ambivalence begins unconsciously. And we can’t manage it well unless we are willing to make it conscious. When ambivalence is made conscious, then we have choices for bearing it creatively, usefully, sometimes even playfully.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/acknowledging-ambivalence-best-way-cope

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Perpetrators of domestic violence are provoked to violence in two primary ways.

One is obvious: the perpetrator’s felt loss of control over the mate. But lesser known is the alternate route to the perpetrator’s rage: the mate got too close, emotionally speaking. The perpetrator experienced an intimacy and therefore a vulnerability.

Other people, while not committing/experiencing acts of physical violence in marriage, can and do exhibit another type of disturbing — not normal — ambivalence.

I’m referring to couples with frequent cycles of reactive hostility pingponging back to cosmic sex and breathless romance. “Frequent” here can mean two to five such highs and lows in a given week. The participants are beaten to an emotional pulp.

For some folks, these slingshot highs and lows are near addictive.

The cycles create powerful bonds. Just not healthy bonds. Certainly not happy bonds.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/bonds-untie-moment-barely-noticeable-moment

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The two most common enemies of marriage are the least obvious. And that’s a disturbing proposition, because we often don’t recognize the enemy as an enemy until it is too late.

It’s like termites. You don’t know you have termites until you come home to find your roof on the living room floor.

The most common enemies of marriage are treacherously subtle. Domestic violence, infidelity, addiction, vicious arguments — these enemies of marriage are obvious. But they are not the most common enemies. Just the most obvious.

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The two most common enemies of marriage are Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison.

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Slow Deprivation is what happens when your mate becomes slowly but surely inattentive to nurturing the bond. The connection. Your mate “falls asleep at the wheel,” so to speak. A little less present each day. Each week. Each month. But doesn’t know it. Doesn’t see it. And never had a conscious intention to do so.

It happens in subtle, mostly unnoticeable increments. It’s like feeding and watering your roses a little less … and less and less … and then being surprised to find that your roses are dying.

And the roses are duped, too. They don’t notice, either. Until their life is passed the point of no return.

Slow Deprivation is practiced by good people who are deeply in love and believe deeply in marriage.

How many times can you put your mate second in line, or fourth or ninth, even for all the “right” reasons (children, career, aging parents), before your mate decides he/she no longer particularly needs, wants or cares to be first in line?

How many times can you explain leaving the customaries of romance unattended by saying, “I’m just not very romantic,” as opposed to saying, “I should bloody well learn to be romantic”?

How many times can you decline great sex by saying, “I’m tired,” as opposed to saying, “I must be a better steward of my energy so that I can show up for great sex”?

How many times can you decline your mate’s eager invitations to join him/her in socializing, hobbies, recreations and interests before the invitations simply dry up? Stop.

It’s like eating one calorie less each day and then being sincerely shocked and surprised to find you’re starving to death.

If you are bent on teaching your mate not to need, want or desire you, then Slow Deprivation is the master teacher.

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Slow Poison is what happens when your mate slowly but surely acquires the habit of pushing negative energy into the marriage. Persistent complaining. Speaking in tones that are short, curt and sharp. Impatience. Mobilizing more warmth and eye contact to greet the dog than to greet you. Moving unconsciously across the line from playful teasing to sarcasm and belittling. Entitling oneself to chronic moodiness. Deciding that good manners no longer matter except in public. Forgetting to be grateful, appreciative, complimentary and encouraging.

These are slow-acting poisons. And they are deadly to marriage. Often these poisons are undiagnosed until the autopsy of divorce makes them plain.

I know this couple who devised a plan to help them stay alert to the enemies Slow Deprivation and Slow Poison. It’s absurdly simple: The Weekly Check In. Once each weekend (Saturday or Sunday depending on their schedule), they fix a time to talk.

Sometimes just sitting together. Depending on the weather, they might go for a Talk Walk. And they “check in.”

How are you? How are you feeling about our connection? Is there anything left over from (this or that conflict) we need to process or talk about? Are you getting what you need from me? Am I injecting poisons unawares? How goes your heart? Are you feeling loved?

Sometimes the conversations last four to eight minutes. Occasionally the conversations demand 90 minutes or so of tiring rigor and the tolerance of discomfort.

Theirs is a terrific idea and a faithful practice. It’s like having the termite inspector visit weekly. It’s like having garlic and holy water hanging by the front door in readiness for the occasional vampire. It’s like a weekly reconnaissance through the rose garden to see if your roses are happy and thriving. To check for aphids.

Marriage requires us to live consciously. Intentionally. Out loud in words. We must stay awake.

The bond of love is a living, organic creature. Which means it is also mortal. It can die.

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 Mixed emotion

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My modern Jesus  —  towering intellectual & spiritual figure —   philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr   —

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/07/reinhold-niebuhr-religion_n_7019384.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
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The Library of America has published Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief. The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War.

The Library of America recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers. This interview is published with permission.

What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?

Reinhold Niebuhr was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times—from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America—where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding—he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.

Why Reinhold Niebuhr in The Library of America? How would you characterize his contribution/legacy? His influence?

Niebuhr has been described as the most important American theologian of the twentieth century and as an especially influential American progressive. He knew how hard it was to alter entrenched power structures, but he combined his tough-minded political realism with a sympathetic understanding of society’s injustices and cruelties. Both his secular work and his theology became famous thanks to his memorable gifts as a public speaker, his huge productivity as a writer and teacher, and his frequent participation in national political discussions. In all these activities he never stopped being a pastor, which is how he started (he thought of himself more as a pastor than a theologian).

How would you characterize Niebuhr’s contribution as a public intellectual during the years covered by this volume?

He tried to wake people up to the inequities and failures in American society. He thought it deplorable that Americans were by and large so self-confidently certain of their basic goodness—meanwhile ignoring not only their own inadequacies (sins?) but also the threats and dangers to American democracy and to the world—whether human (in the form of fascist dictators) or material (nuclear weapons). His sermons and speeches were famous for the clarity and urgent force he gave to his exploration of these themes. One key opinion that infused both his theological and secular work was that possessing superior power or force does not make a person or a state wiser or braver, but it does heighten the danger of sinful hubris.

As a religious thinker?

I’m not qualified to answer this, but perhaps we can say that he sharpened and deepened the discourse about Christian ethics, Christian interpretations of the Gospels and Epistles, Christian understanding of secular society. He was a radical critic of much of American religious life, well known for the vigor with which he made his unclouded assessments. Again, he feared and decried the hubris of so many secular and religious leaders.

Did his thinking and writing fundamentally evolve over the years charted by the works in this collection?

Yes, it did. When he wrote Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) he considered himself a social-democratic Marxist, but the traumas and dangers of the Depression led him to rethink his Marxist presuppositions and reformulate his ideas on the dynamics of social change and betterment. And, as he writes in “An End to Illusions,” included in the volume, he resigned from the Socialist Party in 1940 because he couldn’t go along with its isolationist refusal to take action against the fascists threatening Europe. Thereafter one sees a deepening and refinement of his positions. He insisted always on the important distinction to be made between Communism and socialism.

The fame and influence of The Irony of American History (1952) have made Niebuhr’s contribution to an understanding of American foreign policy well known, but can his thought also be brought to bear on domestic political considerations—such as inequality in America?

Yes, certainly. Indeed, Niebuhr believed that domestic and foreign policies were, and should be, related to each other; only despots or would-be despots separated them. As this book shows, America’s social-political-economic life, and the disparities separating rich and poor, were major concerns for Niebuhr from the very start of his ministry until his death a half-century later.

How might Niebuhr have responded to the widening gap between rich and poor that we see today?

I can’t “channel” my father, but it’s clear in everything he wrote and did that he considered social and economic inequities as unethical, immoral, even sinful. And he denounced the self-delusions and proud deceits that people invoke to preserve them. One prayer, included in this volume, reads in part: “We confess the indifference and callousness with which we treat the sufferings and the insecurity of the poor, and the pettiness which mars the relations between us. May we with contrite hearts seek once more to purify our spirits, and to clarify our reason so that a fairer temple for the human spirit may be built in human society.”

How might Niebuhr have responded to the new sorts of religious extremism we see with al Qaeda and now ISIS?

He frequently inveighed against religious fanaticism and against theocrats, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or secular (as in the Soviet Union under Stalin). Al Qaeda and ISIS are new for us, but the history of violence-prone religious extremism is, tragically, as old as that of civilization itself. He could not have supported a foreign policy that requires America to battle jihadism around the globe while ignoring the social and spiritual strife that gives rise to it in the first place.

The LOA collection opens with Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929), a very personal and accessible book. How would you characterize its importance?

Niebuhr in his old age would shake his head over the popularity of his first book. But it’s never gone out of print for good reason: these pages from the diary he kept at Bethel Church in Detroit in the 1920s are disarmingly honest about the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dilemmas faced by inexperienced young pastors, and ever since it first appeared almost ninety years ago, inexperienced young pastors, priests, and teachers have found its counsels wise and its candor refreshing.

What does it tell us about Niebuhr’s only pastorate, and about his experiences in an ascendant Detroit?

Well, Detroit wasn’t quite his only pastorate: when his pastor father died in 1913, he left divinity school and returned to Lincoln, Illinois, to fill in there for a time. But to answer the question, the book shows you his first encounters with brutal capitalism at full throttle, which is what Detroit was experiencing in the 1920s in the new automobile factories. He witnessed at first hand the spiritual crises that people face when unstable social and economic conditions encourage divisive politics. And it deeply affected him.

How did you decide which of the uncollected pieces to include?

Few of the previous (and partial) collections of his writings included his copious journalism about national and international events as they occurred. We had hundreds of short articles to choose from, articles that were probably read by as many people as read his books or heard his sermons. I wanted to show them in chronological order, so that one could observe the speed and precision with which he addressed himself to crises in the headlines.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made in the course of putting the volume together?

When I put the journalism together with the sermons and lectures, I began to see how he often approached a given theme or issue: first, maybe writing an essay about it or preaching on a Biblical text he thought relevant to it, then exploring it further in a lecture, writing about it some more, perhaps, and praying about it. This kind of recycling pattern allowed him to finish an incredible number of assignments in any given week, but also gave him a way to re-examine and deepen his initial ideas.

What’s the most important thing you learned as a writer and thinker from your father’s example?

To be unafraid of prevailing, stifling orthodoxies.

Did he offer you practical advice?

Not really, but the Serenity Prayer is the best possible form of daily instruction.

President Obama has expressed his great admiration for Niebuhr as a thinker. Would Niebuhr have returned the compliment?

I am sure he’d have been happy to see such an intelligent, principled, brave black man in the White House—and a Democrat from Illinois, the state where he grew up, no less!

Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?

My father preached more than once on the mysterious Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, so one version of such a sermon is included; it’s a great example of his theological and moral subtlety about human life. And my favorite paragraph in his writing comes from chapter 3 of The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

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http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgeelio402277.html
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It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

George Eliot

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Loneliness is a public health crisis

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html?utm_hp_ref=science
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Our time has been called the “age of loneliness.” It’s estimated that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness, and while we’re more connected than ever before, social media may actually be exacerbating the problem.

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There are ways to break the cycle of isolation.

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Here are ways to combat chronic feelings of loneliness and isolation:

Here are three main types of treatment for loneliness: group therapy, individual treatments (working with a therapist to improve befriending skills or to minimize negative beliefs that might contribute to loneliness) and community interventions (events focused on reaching out to lonely people).

Examining a body of existing literature on the subject, the researchers concluded that the most promising line of treatment for loneliness is individual therapy that addresses the thought patterns and beliefs — such as low self-esteem or shame — that prevent a person from connecting with others. With further research, they say, this treatment could be combined with pharmaceutical treatments, such as short-term courses of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote pro-social behavior.

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The study noted that the U.K. government has developed several initiatives to improve quality of life for those suffering from chronic loneliness and to raise awareness about the issue. The authors also point to efforts to help people t find more connections in their daily interactions.

Over a given period, people who have strong ties to family, friends, or coworkers have a 50 percent greater chance of outliving those with fewer social connections.    If our relationships can have such an effect on our overall health, why don’t we prioritize spending time with the people around us as much as we do exercising and eating right?

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Spirit nullifies pride (man’s puffed up overpride)

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Overlay on spirit-killing pride and our mob mentality    —

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Betty Nelson and Rosella Nelson view the body of John Dillinger while in bathing suits at the Cook County Morgue, located at Polk and Wood Streets, in Chicago. In the days after Dillinger was killed on July 22, 1934, massive crowds lined up outside the morgue to get a glimpse of the notorious public enemy.

dill
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Ex-reputed State crime syndicate mob boss Henry Huihui was my client nearly 40 yrs. ago .   Great wordsmith/author Jason Ryan chronicles spirit-killing pride and our mob mentality,

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both in law  (Charles & son Chuckers Marsland)

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and out law  —

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pride pulls into the abyss of hell the human journey in virtually any form or circumstance.

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Pride’s killing power hits home — my neighbor Leilani Castro Alconera Kim was murdered  at a posh Kona resort 4 decades ago, allegedly by her hubby (Wildcat Kim’s brother).

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https://books.google.com/books?id=Iq6DBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA191&lpg=PA191&dq=josiah+lii&source=bl&ots=npXhag5rge&sig=uws-WeMHvi-zNWcWcRGqwDe4jbU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZWf7VNDNAcKyoQTCz4H4Dg&ved=0CCEQ6AEwATgU#v=onepage&q=josiah%20lii&f=false

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Harold Biggie Chan’s friend Joe Ng was a low key cool fella a la Meyer Lansky, a positive projection .    Like Ng,  an older Alema Leota disdained attention-getting mob meltdowns.

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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob

Jason Ryan, Author

Jason Ryan. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7627-9303-7

Reviewed on: 12/01/2014   (book release 3 wks. before)
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Journalist and author Ryan recounts the story of Honolulu prosecutor Charles Marsland, a man on a mission to find justice for his son’s murder and take down the Honolulu crime syndicate believed to be responsible.

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The sordid saga begins in 1975 with the shooting death of Chuckers Marsland amid a plague of violence and corruption in Hawaii with gangsters shaking down gambling operations, killing rivals, and partying with Don Ho.

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Amid those suspected of the murder are Eric Naone, a violent bodyguard, Ronnie Ching, “thief, pimp, drug dealer, and professional killer,” and Raymond Scanlan, a corrupt ex-cop with a missing service weapon.

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Enter “abrasive, aggressive, tough-talking” Charles Marsland, grieving father and civil attorney turned head city prosecutor, who is intent on speaking out about the legal system’s “incompetence, cronyism, [and] outright corruption.”

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In addition to avenging his son’s death, Marsland seeks to prove that local businessman Larry Mehau is the shadowy godfather of the Hawaiian mafia.

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The book culminates in a trial against the major suspects after a confession by the notoriously deceptive Ching hoping to exchange information on Mehau’s criminal activity for a plea bargain.

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Ryan’s well-researched account expertly weaves historical fact into an engrossing true crime narrative to present a fascinating piece of Hawaiian history at odds with its idyllic image.

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The Getty family has come to symbolize extreme wealth and repeated tragedy.  Getty himself seems to have done everything possible to earn his reputation as a mean, arrogant, cheapskate. As Forbes contributing editor and Getty biographer Robert Lenzner put it, the Getty family history would be a good place to start (mammon).

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Enjoy Resurrection Sunday    —
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Well-intentioned public sharing turns into monstrous public scorn   —

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http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20150318_Is_there_any_recourse_for_victims_of_online_photo_memes.html?id=296759801

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Those pilfered, captioned and shared photos that make us either cringe, rage or laugh out loud are as old as the Internet itself, but in these wild online times, is there any recourse for their victims?

Memes, by definition viral little beasties, are everywhere, sometimes building over several years. And they have many heads — shaming wrongdoers, bullying innocents and poking fun at an awkward facial expression, twerk attempt, family portrait or school photo.

“When one of these mobs fixes on you it’s like a Lovecraftian horror,” said James Grimmelmann, a professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in Internet law. “Only madness awaits. It can be beyond the power of individuals to do a lot about it.”

Kyra Pringle knows that firsthand.

The South Carolina mother of a 2-year-old with a grim life expectancy from a rare genetic disorder happily posted a picture on Facebook from her daughter’s recent birthday, only to have the image rudely captioned and spread — sometimes gruesomely Photoshopped — thousands of times and her ill child compared to a monster, alien and leprechaun due to her unique facial features.

“This is bullying. This is not right. She’s fought for her life since she got here,” Pringle told NBC affiliate WCBD-TV near her Summerville home. “She’s not a monster. She’s not fake. She’s real. She’s here.”

Pringle’s mom, Linda Pringle, had equally strong words for those who memed her little granddaughter and do the same to the images of other unsuspecting strangers without context or backstory and with seemingly little thought beyond their own amusement and that of their friends and followers online. Some sites have since taken down memed images of the impaired toddler after word of her real-life story spread.

“If you’re out there and you’re doing these things, and you think that it’s funny, it’s not funny. This is actually a human being, this is a child, this is a baby,” Linda Pringle told the TV station.

Private companies that own social media streams and channels juggle a broad range of take-down demands and other content issues such as copyright infringement, high-stakes privacy invasion and online harassment. But it can be difficult to eradicate viral content like photo memes altogether.

“We don’t tolerate bullying or harassment on Facebook and Instagram, and remove content that appears to purposefully target people with the intention of degrading or shaming them,” the company said in an email when asked about memes.

While community standards and guidelines do exist on many sites, including newly spelled-out rules on Facebook, routine photo meming may not include outright threats, hate speech or behavior that draws the attention of those in charge, such as a pattern of stalking or harassment targeting individuals identified by name, location or through other revealing details or leaks of Social Security numbers, phone numbers and street addresses, some Internet watchers said.

“It’s not that there isn’t an ethical problem, and a real problem as a society we should wrestle with, but law just wouldn’t intervene and the First Amendment would say we don’t stop it,” said Danielle Keats Citron, a research professor of law at the University of Maryland and author of the book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” out Sept. 22 from Harvard University Press.

But a movement in Europe has taken hold in defense of the so-called “right to be forgotten” that has free speech and privacy activists alike paying attention. The European Court of Justice appeared to support the legal concept for people who want to force the removal of old, irrelevant or false material determined to infringe on their right to privacy.

The court, the highest in the European Union, sided last year with a man in Spain who had asked Google to eliminate from its search index information about some long-paid debts. It ruled that Google can be compelled to take that step, but the company so far has limited removal in the specific case to its Spain service, leaving the material readily searchable worldwide.

The ruling has broad implications in the tightrope walk between online privacy and free speech across the EU and around the globe, particularly in the United States, where free speech protection is deeply ingrained.

“It’s very hard. We’ve had unauthorized use of photographs since we’ve had photographs. It’s much easier to go after somebody who uses pictures for clearly commercial purposes, but once you get outside of the commercial realm, when you’re talking about political or artistic expression, in this country we get a lot more reluctant to intervene,” Grimmelmann said.

Not all photo meming is tragic and not all sharers are evil-doers. Some subjects or initiators take it as good fun, embracing — or trying to, at least — their accidental Internet celebrity.

Nearly three years ago, Kasey Woods in Waldorf, Maryland, put up a photo of her smiley baby daughter in a pink top and huge afro wig that was left over from Halloween. Woods posted it first to Facebook, when her page was set to public, then put the same image on her public Instagram feed a year later.

Friends started alerting her last year that the photo was catching on. It continues to pop up at least two or three times a week somewhere, including one version with a caption that reads: “Have a Blacknificent Day.”

The image has been liked, shared and commented upon several thousand times. Some comments Woods has read have not been kind and she has since locked down her Facebook page.

“Some people are bashing me for being a bad mother because they think that’s her hair every day. It’s pretty intense with, ‘What kind of mother would put a child in a wig?’ and this and that,” she said. “I’m taking it well because her name wasn’t attached to it.”

Clarinet Boy, aka PTSD Clarinet Boy, was all grown up when he innocently enough submitted to Awkwardfamilyphotos.com an old school picture. He’s in a marching band uniform and there’s a double exposure, a full-body image of himself, projected onto the side of his head in the same uniform as he holds a clarinet.

That was 2009. It was titled “A Beautiful Mind” and the site encouraged readers to guess what he might have been thinking. So they did. The image of the redheaded boy made its way around the Internet and onto meme generator sites, including one that came up with stories in captions of Vietnam War vets suffering from post-traumatic stress, looking back on childhood.

“I left for Vietnam as a boy. I came back as a monster,” reads one.

No one knows exactly how many versions are out there, but it’s many thousands, as opposed to millions for other memes. Mike Bender, co-founder of Awkwardfamilyphotos, said he and his partner know the real Clarinet Boy.

“He’s a teacher in Texas,” Bender said. “His students think he’s a hero.”

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Renowned Rev. H.B. Nalimu 1835-1934

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Rev. Nalimu look-alikes   —

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Paradise of the Pacific magazine (the Time Magazine of Hawai’i)  February 1926  chronicles Rev. H.B. Nalimu (no online retrieval exists), who was the grandson of “I,” famous warrior/war canoe builder of Kamehameha the Great.   You, Leroy Allerton, descendant of Rev. Nalimu,  look exactly like Nalimu, whose ferocious photograph startles every viewer.   Nalimu was among the Hawaiian Islands’ greatest visionaries/chroniclers before the turn of the last century, and lived adjacent to Ke’elikolani, governess of Hawai’i Island.   I showed you where Nalimu lived along the ancient shoreline of Hilo bay (today’s Kamehameha Ave.).       Nalimu’s home is depicted on the 1891 map of Hilo (revised by Joseph I’ao in 1907).    Nalimu’s noble family member  Iokepa lived to the rear of Nalimu’s estate corridor (also depicted on the 1891 map).    Nalimu is an Iokepa and Iokepa might be the successor name to Kamehameha’s great warrior and tree provider for war canoes   –    “I”    (pronounced E in Hawaiian).    Nalimu/Iokepa trace back their genealogy 200 yrs. to 1619, and Nalimu/Iokepa might be kin to I’s compadre/hoa makamaka — Kamehameha I.
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http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu/newsletters/PambuSeries1%20n12%2069Jul.pdf(Nalimu’s birth/death)

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http://www.ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=d-0maly1-000Sec–11haw-50-20-frameset-book–1-010escapewin&a=d&cl=&d=D0.5.24.1&toc=0&p=frameset&p2=book&l=en

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Reverend Henry B. Nalimu (born 1835) described ʻĪ-koʻa, the Koʻa ʻAhi of Hilo Bay:
I, ancestor of Rev. Nalimu’s…Ihalau, the great long house of I, was mauka of Waiakea, near Pooholua and mauka of that place. Rev. Nalimu has only heard of the place. He thinks that it is in the forest. When the occupants of Ihalau finished a meal they slammed the covers down onto their calabashes in unison so that the report could be heard at Ikoʻa, the fishing-grounds of I where he fished for ahi. The location of this koʻa was obtained by bringing into line the coconuts of Papaʻi and the Cape of Anapuka (ka lae o Anapuka) on the Puna side, and on the Hilo side, the coconuts of Kau Maui (near Keaukaha), and the cape of Kiha…[Kelsey notes, 1921; in collection of June Gutmanis]      [Curt’s note:  Ted Kelsey 1891-1987 was among Hawaii’s most prolific chroniclers  —  http://www.huapala.net/items/browse/tag/Theodore+Kelsey?output=omeka-xml
“Theodore Kelsey (1891-1987) was born in Seattle, Washington, but reared on the islands of Kauai and Hawaii. In the early 1900s, he ran a photographic studio in Hilo, selling albums of island views. At the same time, Kelsey was taking portraits of friends and research sources. Kelsey viewed his photography as a way to support his real work and love, collecting, documenting, and understanding the Hawaiian language and culture.”     Kelsey’s understudy was later great historian June Gutmanis 1925-1998   —  https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/dedicated-to-my-mentor-on-the-15th-annual-anniversary-in-memorium-june-gutmanis-1925-1998-sir-thomas-browne-like-i-wonder-what-a-leakey-200000-years-hence-quite-likely-on-present-trends-of-th/         June is my kumu/mentor.]
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Here are the mele and the explanations of the experts [loea] whose names are  …  James Anania Iokepa who was born in Honomu, Hawaii, and Rev. H. B. Nalimu who was born in Papaaloa [24 miles north of Hilo], Hawaii in 1835.  [the Great Mahele land distribution of 1848 had not yet occurred when Nalimu was born][Nalimu’s brother Iokepa 1836-1893 was born in Kihalani/Papa’aloa, and is not James Anania Iokepa   — Nalimu’s baby brother might be the name listed on the 1891 Hilo map]
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Mystic apostolic Elizabeth Nalimu Kekaualua Bishaw born March 1935

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Pastor Elizabeth Bishaw look-alike

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Rev. Nalimu’s grandniece Elizabeth Bishaw   has the mystery and revelation of God in her apostolic prophecy   — emotionally complex in the sense of  unceasing pressure and dread which make for absorbing and disturbing processing   — simply too powerful to ignore, a la dramatic presentation , irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations characteristic of Jesus (e.g. good Samaritan parable/Beatitudes).    Not to mention that Pastor Bishaw is among the most bountiful fruitful servants of the Great Commission (to win over the lost and the unbelievers to Jesus), having ordained at least 50 useful pastors for Lord Jesus throughout Pastor Elizabeth’s nearly half a century of ministering for Lord Jesus.

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The prophetic idea, of course, is that Pastor Liz is complicit in her own exposure, that she is the subject as much as those she visions.  It’s what makes her investigations so provocative, this sense of implication, that in exposing the lives of others, she is actually exposing herself.

Still, what is she exposing, really?

In this sense, Pastor Liz is less a work of appropriation than of the imagination, an expression of what we all do all the time. I am reminded of David Foster Wallace, who in “This Is Water” urges us to imagine with generosity the lives we encounter: “I can choose,” he tells us, “to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.”

This may seem a stretch, to frame Pastor Liz’ prophecy as gift more than surveillance, but this is the miracle of this edgy and disturbing and utterly intriguing person.   We can never truly know each other, Pastor Liz is saying, or for that matter ourselves, which means that we are always watching, always investigating, always looking for clues that are themselves less revealing than emblematic of how little there is to reveal  — except to give ourselves completely to Lord Jesus in His Sovereignty.

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http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-sophie-calle-suite-venitienne-20150324-story.html

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Upon consoling a fellow female pastor on the unimaginable tragedy of losing her 3rd adult child (all 3 died from different causes), Pastor Liz  prophesied that the 4th and remaining adult child also will pass on to God before his mother’s time (Pastor Liz was not told by Liz’ peer pastor/mother of a probable DNA anomaly that might afflict the sole living child) .

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Such tremblingly mind-numbing outrageous audacity!!!

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 “Three down, one to go.”

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Yet, Pastor Liz quoted Ezekiel 42 regarding the vision of the order and beauty of the restored kingdom ( Ezekiel 40:1-48:35  )

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http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/ezekiel/ezekiel-introduction.html

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— that all 4 children

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are called by God to restore God’s temple.

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After all,  this is God’s

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memorial unto all generations;

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the name by which God should be made mention of both by God and others, and by which God would be called to remembrance by God’s people, and what God had promised unto them, and done for them.      

http://biblehub.com/exodus/3-15.htm

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And that the children’s mother still has more to do for and with Lord Jesus here in this life.

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Its offerings rather discountenances the view of this vision being only symbolic, and not literal.   This vision is literal in its entirety.  The event alone can clear it up.   At all events it has not yet been fulfilled; it must be future.

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Ezekiel was the only prophet (in the strict sense) among the Jews at Babylon.

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Daniel was rather a seer than a prophet, for the spirit of prophecy was given him to qualify him, not for a spiritual office, but for disclosing future events. His position in a heathen king’s palace fitted him for revelations of the outward relations of God’s kingdom to the kingdoms of the world, so that his book is ranked by the Jews among the Hagiographa or “Sacred Writings,”

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not among the prophetical Scriptures.

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On the other hand, Ezekiel was distinctively a prophet,

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and one who had to do with the inward concerns of the divine kingdom.

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As a priest, when sent into exile, his service was but transferred from the visible temple at Jerusalem to the spiritual temple in Chaldea.

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Such mystical visions of Pastor Liz constitute an instance of the providential boldness by which Pastor Liz operates through the Holy Spirit.

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http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/49045-true-differences-between-apostolic-and-prophetic-function
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Apostolic leaders are prophetic because when being sent to lay a foundation and establish a beachhead for God in enemy territory, they must receive a word from God in regards to the timing, the geographic location, and the strategic spiritual warfare needed in order to be successful in their missions.

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Those functioning apostolically must have an acute sense of the leading of the Lord at all times. Hence, apostolic leaders have profound prophetic ability. It is simply that the primary focus of their ministries is on the managing, developing, and administration of leadership and the establishment of church government, whereas prophetic leaders have as their primary focus the renewal and continued movement towards hitting the mark in regards to corporate purpose and power.

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Israel today is reminiscent of Biblical Jonah (stuck in stubborn pride)

 

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Israeli liberals woke up after national elections with a demoralizing feeling: Most of the country, in a deep and possibly irreversible way, does not think like they do.

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There had been a sense of urgency among moderate Israelis, and even an ounce of hope, that widespread frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six straight years in office would lead voters to pull Israel away from what they perceive as its rightward march toward international isolation, economic inequality and a dead end for peace with the Palestinians.

But as the results trickled in on Wednesday, they showed Likud with a shocking lead that has all but guaranteed Netanyahu a third consecutive term. Netanyahu called it a victory “against all odds.” The liberals’ optimism has been replaced with despair — and an infuriating belief that the masses may never understand that logic shows the current path is suicidal.

“Drink cyanide, bloody Neanderthals. You won,” award-winning Israeli author and actress Alona Kimhi wrote on her Facebook page, before erasing it as her comments became the talk of the town. “Only death will save you from yourselves.”

Such rage rippled through liberal Israel this week. Social media was full of embittered Israelis accusing Netanyahu’s supporters of racism, and some vowed to stop donating charity to the underprivileged whom they perceived as being automatic supporters of the right.

The prime minister’s main rival denounced such attacks. “Attempts to divide, vilify and spread hate in Israeli society disgust me, and it doesn’t matter whether it comes from the right or the left,” wrote Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog on Facebook.

The anger was about far more than the election, reflecting a larger and more dramatic battle for the heart of the country.

Israel’s founding fathers were Jews of Ashkenazi, or eastern European, descent and the ideological predecessors of the Labor party, the main faction in the rebranded Zionist Union. The left led the country for its first three decades until Likud — heavily backed by working class Jews of Mizrahi, or Middle Eastern, descent — gained power in 1977.

The Labor Party returned to power in the 1990s, leading the first efforts at peace with the Palestinians. But the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s saw the return of hawkish rule, which in one form or another has lasted until today.

The divisions between right and left largely revolve around the question of what do with territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — and the millions of Palestinians who live there.

Parties on the left would trade the land for peace and allow the creation of a Palestinian state. They also argue that the lands are a liability, since incorporating the Palestinians as citizens would destroy Israel as a Jewish-majority state.

The right emphasizes the lands’ strategic value and biblical symbolism and pushes constantly for settling them with Jews. Its success in this endeavor has, paradoxically, put the country on a path toward being a place where Jews may no longer be a strong majority.

With more than 550,000 Israeli settlers now living in territories claimed by the Palestinians, Israeli liberals — along with the Palestinians — believe time is running out for the “two-state solution.” So compelling is this “demographic argument” that Netanyahu himself has adopted its language, claiming at various times since 2009 that he, too, wants to end the occupation; but his party opposes this and Netanyahu continues to support the settlements, leading opponents to believe he is bamboozling them and adding to the sense of urgency.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-state_solution     The two-state solution refers to a solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict currently under discussion, which calls for “two states for two peoples.” The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River.

 

Activists at the headquarters of V-15, an initiative that called to unseat Netanyahu, silently bundled dozens of banners on Thursday, and one activist asked a journalist to leave. A whole floor of the Zionist Union’s campaign headquarters was empty, and party leaders gazed up from crumpled posters next to a vacuum cleaner.

“It’s a big disappointment. There was a lot of energy for change here,” said Zev Laderman, an investor in start-up companies, sitting in a boulevard cafe. “I woke up this morning to realize that I’m a minority in this country.”

The center-left’s Zionist Union won 24 seats — somewhat higher than the combined previous total of the two parties that form it — but Likud won 30. Another 37 seats were captured by parties believed to be willing to support Likud for a solid majority in the 120-member parliament. And the left-wing Meretz party will now be the smallest party in the upcoming government.

The looming coalition likely will feature right-wing pro-settler and ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious parties. In fundamental ways, they represent the opposite of the defiantly secular Israeli liberals who are fed up with taxpayer money being pumped to West Bank Jewish settlements and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

The prime minister’s sudden turnaround toward victory took place after an 11th-hour effort to appeal to nationalist Israelis by pledging not to support an independent Palestinian state, and by warning voters of Arab citizens being bused to the polls in “droves” by left-wing organizations — comments that drew rebukes from Israeli Arabs and the White House.

Netanyahu since has tried to contain the damage from his statements — saying he remains committed to Palestinian statehood if conditions throughout the region improve — and insisting he is not a racist. But it seems unlikely that peace negotiations with the Palestinians will be high on his agenda. And the Jewish settlement of the West Bank, which enrages liberal Israelis and cements the country’s entanglement there, likely will march on.

Liberal voters perceived this week’s defeat less as the result of a poorly fought campaign than as a reflection of demographic trends and genuine public opinion in the country of 8 million.

After years of failed peace efforts, including two Israeli offers for statehood that were rejected or ignored by the Palestinians, few think a deal is likely. Even the Zionist Union seemed to hide from the issue during the campaign, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like the country’s high cost of living.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of campaign (the left) ran,” political blogger Tal Schneider said. “There is a reality in the field. You can’t change it. It’s a nationalist public that is afraid of the Arabs.”

Sitting at a bustling cafe in a hipster neighborhood of Tel Aviv, a 26-year-old campaign activist for the Zionist Union broke down in tears about the party’s defeat.

“It’s devastating,” activist Lior Shalish said. She said the election results shouldn’t be a surprise, just months after left-wing Israelis were attacked on the streets of Tel Aviv by nationalists during Israel’s war against Hamas militants.

“You don’t get a left-wing government after that. Like, that doesn’t change so quickly,” Shalish said. “We were stupid to believe that it does.”

Some liberal Israelis said there were rays of light: A joint list unifying various Arab parties emerged as the country’s third-largest party, re-energizing a disaffected Israeli Arab minority, and the V-15 initiative claims it increased turnout by centrist and left-wing voters.

In the lead up to the election, the left’s momentum reached its peak at a major rally this month, when tens of thousands of Israelis packed a Tel Aviv square demanding a change of government.

The rally was seen as a victory. Many focused on the keynote speech by Meir Dagan, a former head of the Mossad intelligence agency, who issued an emotional appeal for change.

But in retrospect, it seems a tipping point in favor of Netanyahu occurred when artist Yair Garbuz took to the podium and railed against the “amulet kissers” who support Netanyahu.

His comments were perceived as a condescending swipe at the country’s conservative working class of religious Jews of Sephardi, or Middle Eastern, lineage who have longstanding gripes with the country’s European-descended Ashkenazi elite and lean heavily toward Likud.

The day after elections, columnist Ben Caspit wrote an article in the Maariv daily newspaper titled “Two States.” He was not referring to the left’s two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to Israel’s own cultural divide.

“Israel is split — between left and right, between Bibi and anti-Bibi, between aspirations for normalcy and aspirations for territory,” Caspit wrote, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Two states, two styles, two world views, split once again.”

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Physical reaction  —   parasympathetic, a wave of nausea, horror, disbelief,  fear.     And then guilt.   And then empathy.

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A reader writes to me, recounting a painfully awkward moment she witnesses at a family recreation center.

Two youngsters and their parent are staring at a teen whose face is startlingly different. The parent of the teen delivers a loud, indignant scolding to the gawking family. The offending parent cradles his two children, murmurs “sorry” and slinks away.

Later, my reader investigates. The teen’s face is disfigured by Treacher Collins syndrome, otherwise known as mandibulofacial dysostosis. It is a rare congenital disorder, found in about 1 in 50,000 births.

I know a published novelist. She is my friend. She is brilliant. A birth accident left her with cerebral palsy. Her speech is difficult to understand. Although she can ambulate, her gait is awkward. The motor skills of her arms and hands are functional, but impaired.

But, cognitively, she’s perfect. She is a perfectly normal human being trapped in a disabled body.

And over and over again, she tells me, she is mistaken for someone with severe developmental disabilities. Well-meaning but ignorant people patronize her, speaking to her in the slow, sing-song condescension used to address toddlers. People “baby” her. This drives my friend crazy. She really hates it.

Recently, I made the acquaintance of a bright and beautiful young woman who is absent one leg, just above the knee. As we are introduced, I notice that I notice this. How could I not notice? She is on crutches.

Now I notice that I am pretending not to notice. I’m “filing away” what my eyes find so distinct and apparent in favor of learned decorum.

In the first moments of our dialogue, and much to my relief, the young woman tells me she was born with a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. Random tumors grow on nerves, threatening bone development and every organ system in the human body. NF cost the young woman her leg.

As I get to know this woman better, she begins to trust me with stories of strangers and passers-by who stare. Folks who blurt out, absent rapport or even segue (intro/prologue, “What happened to your leg?”

She tells me that, depending on her mood, she might answer in any number of ways, including “Shark attack,” or “I left it at home.”

Almost as a confessional, I find myself telling her about seeing the film “The Elephant Man” (1980).

I bought a ticket to the movie utterly ignorant of the plot. I did not know Joseph Merrick (1862-90) was an actual person. I had never heard of Proteus syndrome. I did not know the movie makers had painstakingly replicated Merrick’s shocking deformities from existing photographs and Merrick’s preserved skeleton which was donated to the Royal London Hospital.

When the camera first fell full on Merrick’s character, my reaction was physical.

Parasympathetic. A wave of nausea. Horror. Disbelief. Something akin to fear.

Then guilt. Then, as the film slowly helped me get to know the man, everything shifted to empathy. By the time Merrick confronts the ignorant mob with the movie’s signature line (“I am NOT an animal! I am a human being!”), I started to notice that I was not noticing Merrick’s disability.

I was relating to the man.

When I stack these stories side by side, I notice I feel not one but two pulls of empathy.

First, empathy for those with severe disabilities. The ones you can’t not notice. With all respect for the burden, the limitations and daily consequences of the disability itself, what must it be like to be so often reduced to a disability? To have to constantly defend oneself, to explain oneself against the onslaught of such a one-dimensional identity?

“I am MORE than my disability! I am a human being!”

But, also, empathy for otherwise loving and kind human beings who are suddenly shocked and startled by what they don’t understand. Our brains evolved to gaze upon and inquire after what we don’t understand until we can figure out what we are seeing.

And, for those of us with well-developed empathy, we WANT to understand precisely so that we can mobilize empathy and advocacy.

It’s an awkward tension. On the one hand, I am helped past the temptation to one-dimensional identifiers when I can understand what it is that I am seeing. On the other hand, I can hardly expect my new friend to wear a T-shirt that says, “You can stop staring now. It’s called neurofibromatosis.”

I understand how disabled people become embittered. And I’m therefore all the more admiring of disabled people who can muddle through the world’s ignorance and awkwardness with aplomb, patience and mercy.

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Proverbs 26:9 | A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like a thornbush brandished by a drunk.Storm Trooper Evil

The times I’ve seen people with good intentions use Scripture to unknowingly injure another human are some of my most disheartening in the church. I think Jesus said something similar about a plank and some sawdust. When people who aren’t self-aware and wise about the world try to throw out proverbs as advice they are turning plowshares into swords.

These proverbs are meant to be the tools to grow as God’s wise people — not to poke and skewer our brothers and sisters in our effort to feel safer about our Bible or about the path of our life. When we are in such desperate need to be in control of what is often the baffling realities of life we can hurt ourselves and those around us.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/03/is-tony-campolo-a-bad-parent-according-to-proverbs/#ixzz3VLKjBOQG

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Interpersonal consequences  —

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We live in a world absent shared symbols, ceremonies and rituals for rites of passage into manhood. In the premodern world, these rites were universal and effective. Every culture, every tribe made overt the vital and necessary steps from puberty to manhood. Today, this journey is left largely to the clinical observations of psychology.

Learned clinicians can describe it, but the average mother/father and child are left to make it up as they go along. Today the journey is mostly a set of unconscious (and largely ineffective) reactions to otherwise normal developmental needs.

What are those developmental needs? Chiefly, a child on one’s way to adulthood needs to leave one’s parent.  One needs to untether oneself from dependency on the parent.  One needs to step boldly into the office of adulthood, making one’s own choices and then facing all of the consequences of all those choices, even the consequences he neither expected nor intended.

Now, in a world absent effective rites of passage, the teenager only has one option left at  one’s disposal: scorn.

Between ages 10 and 15, teens begin to experiment with scorn. Ceremonial contempt for the parent. On the low end, one teases the parent, makes fun of the parent. It’s playful, perhaps, but it also has an edge, as if one is  testing the boundaries of respect.  The teenager wants more power, and will try to gather that power by robbing the parent of power.

The equation begins to gather momentum with scornful sighs, eye rolling and facial expressions that connote long-suffering tolerance of the parent.  The teenager might move with deliberate slowness as one takes out the trash or finally concedes to whatever direction the parent has given.

The stakes can rise to outright attacks.

“You’re  …  old … you’re fat … you’re stupid.”

I will never forget my best childhood friend speaking snarky on the phone to his mother. We were in high school. She said, “Don’t talk smart to me, young man!” And, total deadpan, he said, “You want me to talk dumb so you can understand?”

Needless to say, he had to go home.

The teenager will experiment with breaking rules. With lying. With sneaking and hiding.

Hmm … I wonder what happens if I simply don’t do my homework?

Such behavior is utterly normal, developmentally speaking. Your teenager  is trying to grow up.  The teenager’s  strategies, however, are ineffective.   Parent! During this window of development, your teenage  child has never needed you to be stronger than right now!

Since your teenage child  is trying to rob you of your power, it is crucial for you to retain your power.

The two ways modern parents give up power in relationship to their teenage children  are “in principle” and by “personalizing.” Let me explain.

Strident moral reactivity (principles) is an ineffective strategy for growing teens into adults. “I can’t believe you lied to me … stole from me!” … etc. Wailing at your teenage child for bad behavior from the ground of moralistic principle is a quick way to lose your power and advantage in this relationship.

Strident, personalized reactivity isn’t useful, either. “You hurt my feelings … you are so cruel to me … how can you talk to me this way?” … etc.

I’m not suggesting you abandon your principles. Nor am I suggesting it won’t hurt (be personalized) when your teenage child  speaks to you with contempt. What I’m saying is that your teenage child  needs you to have the strength not to react from these places of principle and personalization.

Nonreactivity is powerful.

The fundamental and most powerful disciplinary tool for 10- to 15-year-old teenagers is

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interpersonal

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consequences.

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For example, it sounds like this …

Boy: Can you drive me to the mall to meet my friends?

Mother: Nope.

Boy: How come?

Mother: Because I’m not highly motivated to do favors for people who call me stupid and ugly.

Kaboom. Yikes. That’s a strong, powerful mother. She’s not whining. Just setting healthy, respectful boundaries. For herself. There are consequences for treating people with contempt. And it’s high time for the boy to know that.

Boy: Can I go to my friend’s house?

Mother: Nope.

Boy: How come?

Mother: Because the last time you went, you lied to me about where you were. And since, now, I’m unsure whether, when and how you are telling the truth, the only way I can be sure of anything is to give you less freedom.

Kaboom. Yikes. End of conversation.

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Envy/wrath     —

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Salieri#Fictional_treatments

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Salieri’s life and especially his relationship with Mozart has been a subject of many stories. Within a few years of Salieri’s death in 1825, Alexander Pushkin wrote his “little tragedy” Mozart and Salieri (1831) as a dramatic study of the sin of envy.

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The silly tiff between 2 science heavy hitters   (Nye & Tyson)    —

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/15/bill-nye-neil-degrasse-tyson-twitter-burn_n_7072278.html?utm_hp_ref=science

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Enduring themes on man’s fallen nature   —

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https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/melissa-lane/the-birth-of-politics/

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The political ideas of the ancients still endure—and still propel us into debate and even more vigorous conflict.

Lane (Politics/Princeton Univ.) has written previously about the contemporary relevance of the ancients’ ideas in Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us about Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living (2011). Here, she devotes a chapter to each of the eight ideas: justice, constitution, democracy, virtue, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, republic and sovereignty. In each chapter, she reminds us of the Greek and Roman history we have possibly forgotten since our days of Ancient Civilizations 101, then explores each idea in detail, suggesting how that idea continues to resonate today. (The Why They Matter portion of her subtitle could benefit from a bit more heft and development.) Along the way, Lane reacquaints us—sometimes in great detail—with some of the most notable names in political theory and ancient culture: Herodotus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Diogenes, Zeno, Cicero, Tacitus and Seneca are among the most prominent. Continually, we see how three forms of constitution (not the written documents but the more generic meaning of the word) have risen, fallen and combined: kingship, oligarchy and democracy. The author shows how each held sway in various eras (and in various places and combinations) and how the human desire for power and the persuasive enticements of corruption inevitably corrode and eventually destroy. Lane also explores the troubling contradictions at the cores of some democracies: the presence of slaves, the subservience and subjugation of women, the restrictions on the poor and otherwise disadvantaged. Here, the author’s parallels to the contemporary world are most evident and telling. To provide her readers with context, Lane offers a number of useful charts, chronologies and maps.

Although the diction (and thus the going) is sometimes a bit dense, the author successfully illuminates the political ideas that still perplex and divide us.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/14/don-draper-love-hate_n_7043490.html?utm_hp_ref=books

don draper

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What will become of Don Draper? As the final season of “Mad Men” continues, the debate surrounding our crestfallen hero’s fate grows more tense, and contentious, with each episode.

Will Don get a happy ending via self-acceptance? Or will he fizzle out, along with all that he represents: the self-made man made real and successful by representing, and deeply identifying with, the brands he touts? Throughout the show, he’s been a divisive character, lauded by some for his frankness, but disparaged by others for his selfish behavior. Still, Don drives the conversation around the show. Is it merely his bad boy charm that we find alluring — or is it something more?

In Season 7’s Part 1 finale, his ex-wife Betty said she was “starting to think of him as an old, bad boyfriend. Someone a teenage anthropologist would marry.” Senior partner Jim Cutler was no more forgiving: In his attempts to fire Don, he called him “a bully,” “a drunk” and “a football player in a suit.” Still, he managed to evade both personal and professional failures once again, and audiences seemed pleased.

If you’re among those rooting for Draper — charmed by his crisp ties and blunt manner in spite of his predictable prickishness — your allegiance may not represent a warped masochistic tendency. It may, in fact, be rooted in brain science, and the psychology of what we determine to be “cool.”

In Cool: How the Brain’s Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World, authors Steven Quartz and Anette Asp discuss how our personal values and identities are tied up in our consumption habits. This, they claim, isn’t as shallow as it sounds. To counter the prevailing notion that consumption occurs when advertisers instill false wants, the authors suggest instead that emulating high-status individuals is instinctual. Owning socially valuable products stimulates our Behavioral Activation System, which is responsible for sensations like elation. The book cites a plethora of studies showing how brands help us connect in the same way socializing does, thereby making it a sufficient replacement for other modes of identity-making. Showing off our connection with certain products provides a quick hit of the social value-amping good feelings we get when we’re praised by loved ones, complimented for our artistic tastes, praised for our bravery, or admired for our intelligence. This explains why Don, while shallow, is admired — even envied.

Quartz and Asp write off Rousseau’s concept of the “Noble Savage” — the poor citizen whose lack of aspirations leads to fulfillment — suggesting that because our instincts guide us towards acquisition-induced happiness, consumption is a more honest pursuit. To suggest that the biological reward of consumption makes it as valuable as deeper, more challenging forms of self-expression is a radical and limiting belief. But, it may explain why we default to admiring shameless brand trumpeters like Don when we’re feeling lazy.

Without much of a personal identity of his own — he actively severed ties with anyone related to his tumultuous upbringing — Don seems to truly live the messages he sells in meetings, making his pitches deeply emotive and effective. This may be precisely why viewers care about him, in spite of his nihilistic tendencies. Not only does he understand the easiest way to move people; Don himself is like a walking ad, evoking our most basic desires for status and connection.

We first witness the convergence of Don’s private self and his ability to sell products in Season 1, when he presents his idea for a campaign to sell Kodak’s “The Wheel,” a then-new piece of technology that projects photo slides. Don rejects the temptation to highlight the newness of the product, instead playing on pathos. “This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine,” he says. “It goes backwards. Forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It lets us travel, around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

Harry Crane rushes out of the room in tears, and former head of account services Duck Phillips quips to the future clients: “Good luck at your next meeting.” It’s an obvious sell. The reason, according to Don, is that the pitch taps into nostalgia. He says, “The public can be engaged on a level beyond flash. They have a sentimental bond with the product: […] nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. In Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the main from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.”


This may sound like a mushy means of giving advertisers too much credit — doesn’t sex sell, too? — but Quartz and Asp cite recent research that backs up the emotional bond we form with brands. In a 2004 study conducted at Baylor College, participants were asked to take the famous Pepsi Challenge while under a brain scanner. It was discovered that the subjects’ brand loyalty was not linked to taste preferences; they may claim to prefer Coke but actually prefer Pepsi. When the subjects knew they were drinking the beverage they claimed to prefer, the areas of their brain connected with memory and emotion lit up, proving what Don Draper knew all along: nostalgia sells.

He wields this knowledge to achieve status, and that status seems to comprise his entire identity. Jim Cutler notes this in last year’s half-season finale, when he says he’s been “unimpressed” with Don, who he depicts as hollow: “The most eloquent I’ve ever heard you is when you were blubbering like a little girl about your impoverished childhood.”

Connecting with Don, then, is like connecting with a brand: his entire character plays on our deepest desires to climb the social ladder. But the sort of “cool” that he exemplifies — rich, powerful, and therefore free to act as he pleases — is no longer the only means of forming the sort of easily constructed identity we create when we define ourselves by the products we associate with.

In the late ’50s — the era captured in the early seasons of the show — a counter-culture surfaced. Jack Kerouac, James Dean, Thelonious Monk, and others who embody what author Peter Gay refers to as “the lure of heresy,” begin to shake up the notion of a single, desirable social status. The seemingly inexorable link between status and luxury was problematic for those who tried to emulate the trends of the wealthy — it created what Quartz and Asp call “a zero-sum game,” because once trends were adopted widely, those in power would scrap them. To break the cycle, rebelling against the norm was necessary.

Don dismisses the bohemian lifestyle of Greenwich Village proto-hippies in a definitive scene during the show’s first season. At a party that’s been busted by the cops, he accuses his lover’s friend of constructing his apparently rebellious lifestyle by, “buying some Tokaj wine and leaning up against a wall in Grand Central pretending [to be] a vagrant.” The beatnik retorts, “Look at you. Satisfied. Dreaming up jingles for soap flakes and spot remover. Telling yourself you’re free […] you make the lie. You invent want.”

Don scoffs, “I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent,” and nods to the police on his way out the door. Here, his objectively valued status is clear.

What Quartz and Asp refer to as “oppositional status” rose steadily, arguably climaxing with the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. According to the authors’ logic, viewing this rebellion as a deeper alternative to Don and his consumerism would be reductive. It wasn’t long before counterculture was commodified, eventually leading revolutionaries such as Allen Ginsberg to actively promote less-bourgeois brands such as The Gap — for better or for worse. The lifestyle eschewed by Don infiltrated his domain: the ad world. Once myriad options for desirable social status arose, where did that leave our glistening, monolithic ideal of success?

Perhaps Matthew Weiner’s finale will let us know, but if the title of Season 7’s Part 2 premiere is any indicator, it just might be the end of an era.

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“Old Testament vs. New Testament”     —

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/04/jesus-and-the-delay-of-the-second-coming-maybe-he-doesnt-want-to-be-seen-with-us/

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A few months back I watched Simon Schama’s gripping 5-part video series The Story of the Jews, which takes us from the reign of David to contemporary Judaism. The series is highly acclaimed and I can’t recommend it enough.

Episode 2, “Among Believers,” covers Judaism in the medieval period and its difficulties with Christianity and Islam.

Schama recounts the famous debate, known as the “Barcelona Disputation,” which took place over three days beginning on July 20, 1263. The debate, organized by the the church, pitted the Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism, Pablo Christiani, against one of the towering intellectual figure of medieval Judaism, philosopher Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, better know as Nachmanides.

Christiani set out to show from the Torah and Talmud that Judaism’s own sacred texts predicted Jesus as the messiah who was to come. Nachmanides’s task–surrounded by ecclesiastical and royal power–was to show that this was not the case.

Schama, together with Leon Wieseltier, recount the debate, summarizing some of Nachmanides’s points and (it seems) elaborating a bit on those points themselves.

Christiani’s argument, they say, was unconvincing and has fallen on deaf Jewish ears ever since. They make two main points (you can get a fuller picture of the debate here), one I am very familiar with (having read Paul’s letters, especially Romans) and a second that I have not given nearly as much thought to.

First: If Jesus would have been the messiah, there would have been a mass Jewish following.

Of course, this is the very problem Paul addresses in Romans–I would even say “struggling with” in Roman. His own Jewish brothers and sisters are not following Israel’s messiah but Gentiles are. Paul reasons that the Gentile conversion will make Jews jealous, but that in time (very soon from Paul’s point of view), the time of the Gentiles would come to a close and Jews would stream in.

Instead, what happened is this Jewish movement of Jesus followers becomes a separate religion by the 2nd century and made up increasingly of Gentiles while Jews remained Jewish.

Second: The messiah of the Jews was to fulfill Old Testament/Jewish Bible prophecies of universal peace, but, as Nachmanides argued, the world was still full of war and injustice, most of it perpetuated by Christians.

As Schama and Wieseltier put it, the Jewish messianic problem is that they wait and wait and wait for the messiah but he doesn’t come. The Christian problem is that he came and it made no difference.

Of course, Christians will bristle at the thought that Jesus “made no difference,” and I certainly understand why–Jesus is raised and that conquers death and now all who believe on his name will be saved.

But Schama and Wieseltier’s second point still stands and I don’t think we should let it go too easily.

If Jesus is the messiah, why the 2000+ year delay after the inauguration of the “messianic age” (Christ’s first coming)? Why all this time of no peace, of warfare, suffering, and injustice, much of it by the followers of the Prince of Peace?

I understand that much of that suffering by Christians has been at the hands of various versions of the Christian “state” throughout history (which is one reason why I have no interest in seeing it resurrected by the American political hard Christian right), but that simply delays the question one step: why does God allow the corrupt Christian state to remain in power during after the messianic age has been inaugurated.

Does eschatological inauguration make so little difference–at least little enough that no one other than Christians notice and have to convince others of it?

For me, one of the intellectual challenges to Christianity is this delay of the parousia–the Greek term meaning “presence, arrival, visit,” i.e., Second Coming. I wonder whether Christians may not have something to learn from this Jewish critique.

Similar to how Jews in the 1st century were concerned that failure to remain faithful to the covenant not only caused the exile a half a millennium earlier but perpetuated the half-millennium delay of the messianic age, perhaps the parousia is delayed because Christians haven’t yet figured out how to be the body of Christ.

Just riffing here, but maybe the problem of the delay of the parousia isn’t simply a theological conundrum to be solved through closer exegesis or theological alchemy.

Maybe the “body of Christ” isn’t being the body of Christ. Maybe Jesus is too embarrassed to be seen with us.

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Jesse Shima, Jim Hagerty’s dearest friend   (Hagerty the most powerful press secretary to the U.S. President in history   — go to just before the middle of this transcript here    —   http://www.c-span.org/video/?325035-1/eisenhower-public-relations) & Harry Hopkins’ prodigy  (Hopkins arguably the most important person in FDR’s long tenure as U.S.. President   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Hopkins)   — is shan shan exemplified.      http://hawaiinewsdaily.com/2010/12/art-of-compromise/          https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/comfort-cushion-in-the-lore-of-ages-past/
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Jesse Shima’s benefactor was U.S. Sen. John Henderson of Missouri (famous Missouri Compromise to try to avert the Civil War 1861-1865).   Sen. Henderson eventually was a decorated Civil War hero/commander who authored the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which outlawed slavery forever, after Henderson’s friend — President Abraham Lincoln of Kentucky/Illinois — was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1865.   Henderson later built a fortune in the gold mines/railroads as America headed westward to the Pacific Ocean.   Henderson’s opulent estate in D.C. is the site of today’s Meridian Park in the heart of D.C.  Jesse would’ve inherited all of Henderson’s super-rich holdings if Congress had outlawed discrimination against alien Japanese (sadly, INS did not recognize Issei naturalization until 1952, when Jesse, D.C. delegate from Hawai’i Joe Farrington, & Utah native Mike Masaoka promulgated our Issei immigration Act naturalizing Issei in America).
Yes, in response to Uchinanchu/Okinawan esteemed culture [humbling, not hubris], in war [as with warlocks Hirohito/Hito’s choice pick Tojo] the teeming masses are the ones who suffer the most, & no ethnic group suffered more among Native Nipponese than our Uchinanchu. Recount our current Hilo peers Steve Yamashiro’s dad [yes, former mayor Steve]/Pi’ihonua native Henry Shimabukuro’s uncle, Lyman Boarding School alumnus Shokan “Jesse” Shima[bukuro] 1901-2002, the greatest person of Japanese ancestry [“Nikkei”] who set foot on American soil [FDR’s closest advisor Harry Hopkins’ acolyte/protege][Ike’s closest advisor Jim Hagerty’s dear friend/associate][non-college man Truman wanted pragmatic non-professional vocation/field caseworker Hopkins, but WWII killed via stress FDR/Hopkins in quick order–Hopkins architect of WPA/CCC, created FDR’s Lend-Lease Act that gave us time to prepare for our entry into WWII European theater of operations/etc.][Ike’s sensible feedback man Hagerty only a high school grad like Truman — Hilo’s Shokan “Jesse” Shima(bukuro) no advanced schooling just as no advanced schooling for Hagerty/Supreme Ct. Justice-Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson/Hilo provost marshal-later post-WWII Israel giant leader Mickey Marcus]. Uncle Jesse mitigated harsh AJA internment via collective enterprises for internees, then sprung earlier releases & integrated internees into mainstream commerce, Tony Masamitsu “Honda” sterling product of Jesse’s enablement, yes, as in Tony Honda dealerships, Jesse got War Dept. to integrate displaced Okinawans back into stable village life in decimated Okinawa, Jesse got war/post-war relief humanitarian aid to Jesse’s ancestral Okinawa along w/Hawai’i sponsors like Steve Yamashiro’s altruistic dad, Jesse kept Okinawa sovereign instead of being U.S. protectorate/colony, Jesse fine-tuned INS Act that legalized Japanese aliens/Issei to become U.S. citizens 1952 [whereas Kotonk-Utah native Mike Masaoka’s influence was chiefly in promulgating 1952 INS Act], Jesse was chief “embassy” liaison during Japan prime minister Shigeru Yoshida’s tenure, inasmuch Japan had no embassy in Jesse’s eventual D.C. domicile prior to 1952 — Jesse told taisho-proud Yoshida emissaries, “Hey, you lost the war! Stop acting like you got any power! Make up for your defeat! Be as accomodating as possible to our State Dept. & our President Truman!” Wow!! Uncle Jesse was livid about Tojo’s/Hirohito’s expansionism into Indonesia [oil for Japan war needs], surefire trigger to war vs. U.S. [Gen. Yamashita wanted co-existence w/U.S./only invaded Manchuria for iron/steel–China for coal/no oil in China-SE Asia, though SE Asia had rubber/undeniably, U.S. greatest empathizer was Admiral Nagano, sage/wise old man who wanted to cooperate w/U.S., not go to war vs. U.S., which Japan was destined to lose–no war resources/material to sustain victory– no, Nagano was Admiral Yamamoto’s senior commander, & testy younger Yamamoto, contrary to popular opinion, threatened to resign if Nagano would not okay Yamamoto’s attack on Pearl Harbor — to give Japan about 6 months to get Indonesia oil sources — Yamamoto told wiser Nagano it was do or die for Japan, via U.S. embargo vs. Japan — Nagano urged peaceful co-existence w/U.S. — Nagano was drowned out by strident Army warlock Tojo/”disoriented” Yamamoto. Nonetheless, Uncle Jesse was very saddened by Imperial Japan’s incomprehensible/unthinkable folly/jingoism. To Uncle Jesse, Imperial Japan had gotten too big for its britches, like a young hormonally impulsive teen [Japan’s war victories over hapless China/Russia 1895/1905][Japan’s accelerated industrialism/colonial expansionism during Meiji-Taisho-Showa Hito family reign 1868-1945]. Uncle Jesse’s mission was to show Japan how delusionally sick Japan got via its jingoism/militarism. Thence Uncle Jesse’s chastening vs. Japan emissaries. BTW, our other local heavie in D.C. was Castle/Cooke scion Bill Castle, who elected to leave isolated Hawai’i/C&C helm for D.C., where he was Hoover’s State Dept. head for far eastern Asian Affairs. But Tojo’s warlocks/militarist officers silenced Castle’s Japan emissaries, & by 1935 former diplomat Castle was of no use to FDR/Hopkins. Thence the ascension/rise of Uncle Jesse. By the time post-WWII Japan’s Shigeru Yoshida reduxed Castle’s contacts, Jesse was informal liaison b/n Yoshida’s crew & Truman’s outfit. Old man/senile Castle died 1963. Aloha, –Curt
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2014 note to chronicler Gloria Kobayashi  –
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Shokan “Jesse” Shimabukuro had immense drive/stamina to make something good of himself in society. Through luck/guile/guidance from the scion Hendersons of Wash. D.C. & thru Jesse’s 1st marriage to an African-American beauty/icon Baltimore nurse, Jesse sprung to prominence in the highest reaches of both African-American and White societies, brainstorming with our greatest ever Black & White leaders in American history. And yet, in quaint sleepy Hilo town, no one ever “dreampt” that our Lyman tutelage triggered Jesse’s self-esteem/confidence to stardom as America’s greatest-ever Japanese person. Jesse matriculated to egalitarian McKinley High on O’ahu, then shipped out to D.C.
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2014 note to chronicler Gloria Kobayashi  –
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Jesse was dearest friend of Mordecai Johnson, the “George Washington” of African American intellectual circles, and president of prestigious Howard University in D.C., the Harvard of African American colleges.    Mordecai’s prodigy/understudy Charles Hamilton Houston mentored Thurgood Marshall, the 1st African American U.S. Supreme Court justice.    Houston and Marshall steered thru the greatest case in U.S. Supreme Court history, Brown vs. Bd. of Education, which gave African Americans equal opportunity to public schooling.
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Jesse also helped Jesse’s fellow Nikkei, for example, the 1st highest state court supreme court justice in the U.S., Capt. Cook native Masaji Marumoto in 1957, who was appointed by President Eisenhower to our territorial supreme court at age 51 (Ike’s closest advisor Jim Hagerty was Jesse’s dearest friend).
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2 Responses to Toward Christ

  1. From my friend Alapaki: Yes, miraculous demonstrations are not salvation. Salvation comes from acceptance. Even demons can demonstrate “miraculous” things.

  2. from my friend Bruno Curfs —

    Aloha
    ​Curtis
    ,

    ​How are you doing?​

    ​I remember one of your previous post about typology (“types of Jesus in the Old Testament”) and my response to that. It was my first acquaintance with the term, but I had seen examples of it before. I was slightly critical of the way typology is used in the NT, e.g., suggesting Jesus’s royal descent, which can not be taken seriously historically as I explained.

    However, since my last email, I found new material (already in circulation since 2011), which confirms staggering truths about typology, showing that it can be used purposeful to create a religion. In this case, Christianity. Jesus was not “predicted” in the Old Testament, as many believe, but the Old Testament was used to create Jesus out of thin air, yet using this technique to give credibility to his historicity. As a result some of my assertions in my previous response have become obsolete, because they still assume the historicity of Jesus to some degree.

    Typology exists in the OT, such as the correspondence between Esther and Mordecai and Joseph. Parallels between them include:

    – Joseph / Esther rises to high position in Egyptian / Persian government through their beauty;

    ​- ​Joseph’s / Mordecai’s good deed (Joseph’s dream about the servants; Mordecai saving the King) is forgotten for a long time;

    ​- Joseph / Esther reveal their (Jewish) identity to the Pharaoh / King after a feast.​

    ​So, this technique was well known to awe the audience and to have them, at least on a subconscious level, recognize “God’s hand” in the story, lending it credibility.​ A property of typology that I had missed was that it is sequential: similar events occur in identical sequence. If you think about this, you will have to agree that “fitting characters” must have been deliberately designed to fit the typology.

    ​I hope that this additional information may clarify the extraordinary claim made by Joseph Atwill in his book, but one which we must take with bravery and humility.​ See his website http://caesarsmessiahdoc.com/

    Joseph Atwill is the author of “Caesar’s Messiah. The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus” (2011), who has recently convinced me of the indelible role of the Romans in the creation of a “pacifistic” religion that would cause its followers to worship the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius (39-81 CE)–even without knowing–by having Jesus in the Gospels figure as a type of Titus, therefore letting Jesus in the NT seem to predict all of Titus’s military successes as a satire. This theory explains many of the previously for me still unsolved “inconsistencies” in the Gospels that become now as clear as day.

    There is an arch of Titus in Rome, stating that Titus was “divine, son of the divine Vespasian”. So, to this day, it is commemorated that Titus was the “Son of God” as well as the “Son of Man” and that he destroyed Jerusalem. Jesus’s prediction of the “coming of the Son of Man”, was referring to Titus. (e.g., Luk 17, and Luk 21)

    It makes the NT a sort of arch of Titus, only in literary form. The destruction of the Temple in 70 CE concludes the military offense of Titus against the Jews, but the NT perfected its devastating effect, by preventing the rebellious ideas–that had inspired the Sicarii to fight a war against Rome–to spread into the diaspora and, by divulging the Gospels throughout the Roman Empire, caused vast regions of the Roman empire to develop pro-Roman sentiments and antisemitism fed by the very Gospels that claimed to be of Jewish origin, yet written in Greek. The Roman Catholic Church is a fossil of the Roman Empire designed to keep the Gospels circulating in as many places as possible. Sadly, even though the Gospels have now been exposed for what they are, the effects of this manipulation has endured to this day.

    The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE corresponds in the NT with the crucifixion of Jesus; both were the symbol for Judaism. Next, Josephus reports that Lucius Flavius, a Roman general and consul of Judeah, besieged the Sicarii, the previously mentioned most militant Jewish sect, who by then had retreated into the fortress of Masada in 73 CE, located on a elevated rock plateau. In the Gospels, they are the “risen Christ” (a remnant). In a grim parallel between the NT and what happened to them, in Act 1:9, Jesus is said to rise up in a cloud on what later would be called “Ascension Day” (cf. Mar 16:19, Luk 24:51), corresponding to the Jews in Masada who found a suicidal death “chosen in freedom, more honorable than being slaughtered” and were literally taken up by a cloud of smoke after they had set fire to the construct, so as to prevent the Romans to have any spoils.

    Since Josephus seems to have had a hand in the writing of the Gospels, it should be of no surprise that his account of the siege of Masada is incomplete and inaccurate, but it is certainly in line with his sense of grim “satire”. See http://www.josephus.org/archMasadaPBS.htm.

    Atwill’s book exposes dozens of parallels between the military successes of Titus, recorded in Josephus’s “War of the Jews”, and the NT, showing similarity in location, concept and, most importantly, sequence. The odds for coincidence of the similarities plumb to zero in a staggering sequence of these events and fitting details.

    This means that either Titus was the “Son of Man” predicted by Jesus OR Titus authored Jesus. Which is more likely? I agree with Joseph Atwill.
    ​ Besides, in the first century, the works of Josephus were added to the Bible as a proof that Jesus’s “prophecies”​ had come true. Today, the Preterists are closest in their assertion that the prophecies of Jesus return have already occurred, but they also still cling to the historicity of Jesus.

    Mahalo,

    Bruno.

    My blogs:

    – ​https://www.facebook.com/MaZENatician

    ​- http://TheEndOfReligion.weebly.com​

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