Archives for the month of: March, 2014

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First it was The Hunger Games, and then it was Divergent and soon will be The Maze Runner followed by Jupiter Ascending. Dystopic Futures are taking Hollywood by storm.  I am fascinated by this new Sci-Fi phenomenon in Young Adult Fiction.  I am so fascinated that I wrote a book analyzing The Hunger Games called Blessed Are They That Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and The Bible http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000705175/Blessed-Are-They-That-Hunger.aspx  (available Summer 2014 on Amazon, itunes etc).  But apparently, The Hunger Games was just the beginning.

I saw the movie Divergent yesterday.  Some are saying that it is a rip-off of The Hunger Games. There are similarities between the two films as well as the other movies that will be coming soon to theaters.  The similarity that strikes me the most is how dark, violent and hopeless they are. I wonder what it is about these dark tales of oppressive totalitarian regimes that resonates with today’s youth?

In my book, I detail how many of the themes in The Hunger Games are reflected in our current society.  As I watched Divergent and the trailers of the other movies that will be out soon, I hear a cry for help from the younger generation.

Like the characters in these stories, this generation was born into a society that they didn’t create.  They must live under a repressive government that scrutinizes and controls their lives.

They have many more regulations than I had as a young adult. I was surprised to learn recently that freshman college students are not allowed to have their own vehicle if they live on campus at a California University.  This was not the case when I was in school.   There were no curfews when I was in high school, no restrictions on how many friends my age I could transport or where.  There were not even seat belt laws.  I could drive to the mountains with my friends and their skis in the back of my dad’s pick up.

If the cops came to a party where there was underage drinking, they sent us home.  No one got arrested. No parents were held liable for the party.

The government is monitoring cell phones and internet use now.  These technologies were not available in my youth.

Today’s youth are also being raised differently than my generation.  They have more homework and scheduled programs and less time for free play.  Parents are accused of being helicopters in how they hover over every action and behavior their children do. Young adults feel powerless.

When I was a child I had very little homework and went “out to play” in the neighborhood until sunset when I knew it was time for dinner.  We played hide and seek all over the neighborhood and built forts in the woods and imagined all kinds of worlds. We flew kites in the fields and sometimes just laid on our backs and watched the clouds in the sky for hours, determining what shapes they made, while we made necklaces out of wild flowers.

Today’s young adults will be the first generation less likely to exceed their parents in economic security.

The characters in these movies are tired of being powerless and they take back their power-their inalienable right to be free.  Today’s young generation want to be free of a culture that imprisons them.

My hope is that like the characters in the dystopic movies, the young generation will bring back freedom.  The wars that have been fought and the lives lost to keep America free were in vain as we allowed our freedoms to be taken away in a quiet encroachment of the government- one law at a time. Those of us that remember that freedom can show them the way and fight to bring it back.

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la-na-rand-paul-berkeley-20140320I had the opportunity to see Rand Paul give a presentation and interview on campus at the University of California at Berkeley on March 19, 2014.  I was curious to see him for a variety of reasons. As a product of the liberal/progressive indoctrination of the University of California, I was curious to see how the spawn of the father of the Libertarian movement would be received.  As a supporter and fan of his father Ron Paul, I was curious to see how he compared.  As a former Republican, I was curious about his relationship to the much maligned party.  As a libertarian, I was curious about how real is his message of liberty and a return to the constitution.  As an American citizen, overwhelmed by government abuses (i.e. NSA spying, Obamacare, drone wars, executive orders) I was curious to find out what is his plan to end them.

I must say that prior to this event, I was underwhelmed with what I had read and seen of Rand Paul.  I did admire his filibuster in opposition to the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. I admired his lawsuit filed against the NSA and President Obama over the unwarranted surveillance of American citizens.  I was not impressed with his belief that Edward Snowden should not be pardoned for leaking information about the NSA.  I was not impressed with his endorsement of Mitch Mc Connell whose record, it would be safe to say, is not liberty oriented.  But I digress….

The UC grad in me was shocked when as his name was announced, the 800 plus crowd of mostly college students stood to their feet and gave Senator Rand Paul a standing ovation.  There were no protest signs outside the venue and no boos of dissent in the auditorium as he made his way to the stage from the back of the hall.  I was on the aisle where he passed and snapped a picture before putting my hand out to receive a handshake from the man. He gave me a friendly smile. He managed to receive two more standing ovations before the event was over.  This in itself gave me pause, that there is a new America, and perhaps, it is in the hopeful hearts of these young adults.  Change is a comin’ and none too soon.

Senator Paul’s speech focused on his outrage over the abuses of the NSA in obtaining the private information of millions of Americans through the surveillance of their phones.  The crowd cheered and clapped as he railed against a government run amok.  The angry American citizen in me resonated with his talk of reform and retribution needed for these offenses.

The next phase of the event was an interview led by a young Cal (correct local vernacular for UC Berkeley) student.  This is where it got interesting.  Although Senator Paul has been accused of “borrowing material” for his speeches, I knew he has a good orator.  What would he be like unscripted, and how would that be received?

The disillusioned Republican in me was vindicated when he compared the Republican Party to Dominoes when they admitted that they had bad crust, in that it is time for a reformed Republican Party or( maybe and abdication to the Libertarian Party?)  As he discussed a run for president he called himself a libertarian or liberty minded Republican.  The Libertarian in me likes this!

I must admit his flat tax platform was not something that impressed me, but his call for a reduction in everyone’s taxes sounded promising. It seemed in every question rather than focusing on the bi-partisan dynamic he focused on common ground issues.  He talked about working with his opponents on the two or three issues they do agree on rather that squabbling over what they don’t agree on.

My perception of him was as more of a moderate than a dogmatic like his father.  He may share the same principles but he communicates them differently.  He communicates them in a way that could move those from the left and the right to a more libertarian mindset that could embrace a freer America for all.

They say actions speak louder than words. The action that did warm me a little  more in his favor was when his car rolled passed  me and I saw that his window was down-I asked him if I could give him an article.  He said “Yeah I’ll look at it” and made the driver stop the car so that I could hand him an article by my friend Robin Koerner of the Blue Republican http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-koerner/rand-paul_b_2770800.html.  I gave him my card too with my blogsite on it so just maybe he will read this too!

I don’t have an answer to the question in my title, but I have a few more years to decide. I do have a better view of Senator Rand Paul than before his visit.  Maybe- just maybe, he is the man.

bad menHow Should We Then Live? This is the question posed by Francis Shaeffer, one of the foremost Christian philosophers of the 20th century. Much of what he foresaw about the moral decline of Western Civilization in his writings of the 1970’s has come to pass.
Moral decay is not new to mankind. Debauchery, cruelty, theft, murder and genocide are part of every era throughout recorded history.
We in America, have enjoyed a long stretch of blessing from the early fifties until the new millennium. (The Great Boom 1950-2000: How a Generation of Americans Created the World’s Most Prosperous Society by Robert Sobel) During this time we were a mostly Christian nation following the values and mores of the Bible.
In Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, he delineates character qualities that were expected to be emulated during this era. They are characteristics taught in the teachings of Christ- personal responsibility, frugality, humility, sexual fidelity, productivity, perseverance, and simplicity.
Although those who claim to have Christian beliefs in the US has declined marginally from 91% in 1950 to 77% in 2012 it is arguable how many adhere to Christian values in their daily lives.
Between 2006 and 2010, 48% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 moved in for the first time with a man to whom they weren’t married, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. In 2002, it was 43%. In 1995, it was 34%.( http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/04/living/women-premarital-cohabitation/)
The number of same-sex couples in the U.S. grew more than 80 percent since 2000, when there were 358,390 households in that category. http://www.adweek.com/sa-article/same-sex-couples-america-140505
There is also a decline in marriage. 51 percent of Americans are married as opposed to 92.3 percent in 1920.
Those that were raised during the years of Christian morality (remember the Moral Majority anyone?-google it) experienced little opposition to their Christian beliefs and lifestyle. Now that these values are declining in America, there is an interesting phenomenon that has become evident-an entitlement attitude among Christians. There is an expectation that because their values were once venerated in America, they should always be.
The outcome of this entitlement is a lack of tolerance or what the Bible calls “grace” for those who do not hold to these values. This entitlement attitude is creating a desire to discriminate against those who don’t hold to these values like the SB1062 legislation in Arizona. It is creating an atmosphere of anger and hate towards those that oppose them-a disdain for them. This was apparent at the CPAC2014 in many of the speeches that were given.
These behaviors are creating a growing chasm between Christians and non-Christians. This chasm must grieve The One whose name they bear.
It is time to accept that the Moral Majority is no more. It is time to accept that we are living in a culture “like the days of Noah” Luke 17:26.
It is time for the Christian right to stop feeling entitled to being “right” and instead model after Christ:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
Remember Christ’s word :
Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
And above all it is time to bridge the gap like Paul who said:
I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I Cor 9:22

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We seem to be on the precipice of another World War thanks to the crisis in the Ukraine.

In my previous blog “Tarnished Olympic Rings Sochi 2014” I ranted about the hypocrisy of the Olympics (a symbolic effort towards world peace and harmony) being held in Russia, while a mere 866 miles away a revolution was in full force in Kiev, Ukraine.  This revolution was based at least partially on the doings of Vladimir Putin’s Russian Regime.

Since then, certain evidence has come to light putting partial responsibility for the revolution to the encouragement and support of the United States. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/03/andrew-p-napolitano/us-machinations-in-the-ukraine/

Now my interpretation of these events and the Olympics is different. In the same way Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring, in The Return of the King, Putin’s gaze was drawn to the Olympics.  With Putin’s attention otherwise engaged, the revolution faced no intervention from him, and therefore the success of the pro-democracy, pro-EU/Western protestors was guaranteed.

The President of the United States is known for saying in his bid for re-election in 2012 in response to Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia was our #1 threat, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because … the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/030414-692064-russia-and-china-unite-over-ukraine.htm#ixzz2vDEfwpsk

Not only is the Cold War not over but it would appear that the U.S. is stirring the coals and fanning the flames. The good news is that at the height of the Cold War in the late 80’s Russia peaked at 45,000 (wikepedia) nuclear warheads and is currently down to 1720 that are operational. (http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/03/world/nuclear-weapon-states/#usa)

The US peaked out at about 30,000 weapons in 1955 and is currently down to 2,150 that are operational.

I am not sure what comfort these numbers are considering the fact that the detonation of 2 nuclear warheads in Nagasaki and Hiroshima resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people.

The fear of these armaments keeps us in a perpetual game of chess.  It is this fear that diverted intervention in Syria as the Russian bear put its paws in place to step in.

George Orwell was the first to use the term “cold war” and his quote aptly describes our current state of enslavement to this fear.

For forty or fifty years past, Mr. H. G. Wells and others have been warning us that man is in danger of destroying himself with his own weapons, leaving the ants or some other gregarious species to take over. Anyone who has seen the ruined cities of Germany will find this notion at least thinkable. Nevertheless, looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham’s theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications—that is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of “cold war” with its neighbours.[1]( “You and the Atomic Bomb”, published October 19, 1945, in the British newspaper Tribune.)

We can only hope and pray that the war between Russia and the US stays “cold”. Any heat in this conflict will surely be the end of civilization as we know it.