Monday, June 21, 2010

My Endorsements for Tennessee Legislative Races

Over the past ten years, I've worked on behalf of several candidates at the national, state and local level. I'm very particular about who I choose to work and vote for. This year, I'm endorsing/supporting four candidates: Susan Lynn, Heather Scott,Tim Burchett, and Carl Whitaker.

I first heard about Susan Lynn in 2002 from a fellow libertarian Heather Scott when both of them were running for office (Susan for State Representative; Heather for Wilson County Commission).

Susan has demonstrated an independent streak in the legislature. She is one of the most open legislators who is active on Facebook, maintains her own blog and regularly sends out newsletters. Lynn has used her position to advance the issue of state sovereignty and led an effort in the House to protect Tennesseans from having to conform to the new federal health care law, an effort that failed in the House but nevertheless bolstered Lynn’s reputation as a Tenth Amendment advocate. She is chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, and serves on the Calendar & Rules and Commerce Committees as well as the Small Business Sub-Committee. She has been Chairman of the Commerce Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council since 2007.

With an out of control federal government running amok, principled legislators are needed more than ever and principled legislators are hard to find at all levels. Susan is one of a few.

Heather Scott who is running for the 57th District which is occupied by Lynn says she’s seen how programs come down from the state and federal government that may or may not be right for a particular county, yet local governments have to enact them and cover the costs that come with them.

She recalled how a couple of years ago the Wilson County school system needed $1.5 million and that it looked like a tax increase could be involved. But she looked at the schools’ budget and saw an undesignated fund balance of $3 million. When she pointed out the schools had the money they needed, she learned the schools were required by the state to keep 3 percent in an undesignated fund balance for emergencies, so the commission, without her support, voted for a tax increase.

“It’s a trickle-down effect. Government should be strongest at the local level. More tax dollars should be kept at the local level. We send our income tax to Washington then have to beg for it to come back to local communities, and then they usually have strings attached. That money should never leave our community in the first place.” Scott said.

Scott said the election laws in the state are set up in a way that make it difficult for a third-party candidate to run (such as not being listed by the party name unless it is Democrat or Republican), so she opted for the independent tag.

Tim Burchett is running for Knox County Mayor which has been occupied by Mike Ragsdale. I've known Tim for ten years. He has served admirably in the state legislature and even sponsored legislation in 2000 to allow the TN Libertarian Party to run under its own party name basically as an experimental concept. Over the years, he has shown to be an open and independent minded legislator who isn't afraid to upset the apple cart when necessary. He has been a small business owner and this experience has helped him to understand the issues that they deal with particularly in relation to government matters.

The Knox County government has been in need of a major housecleaning for years and the County Mayor's office most of all. I will just say that the office has been operated by politics as usual. The good ole boy and girl network has hamstrung the county with bloated budgets, wasted millions of dollars for pet projects doled out to friends and family, and vendettas against those who oppose such waste and mismanagement. Clearly what is needed most of all aside from a new direction in policy is honesty and efficiency.

I'm generally not impressed with the candidates that the GOP and Democrat party have to offer in the 2010 Gubernatorial race. So I'm supporting Carl Twofeathers Whitaker independent campaign for governor. He has never held public office before, so there isn't much to elaborate on as far as what he has done as a public official. I also have the impression he isn't interested in a professional career in politics which always ranks as a plus in my book. He isn't connected to the power brokers that generally comes with being a legislator and will exercise independent judgment.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Cult of John Nelson Darby

John Nelson Darby

If you are trying to make sense of the events that have transpired in the Middle East over the past 100 years or so, don't feel alone. What is driving the conflicts in the Middle East isn't due to any prophecy from the Bible as some people have claimed. John of Patmos didn't have a time machine or a crystal ball.

A major movement that is obviously affecting the events in the Middle East is called dispensationalism. It is a heavy influence in many of the churches and synagogues which while wearing the skin of a lamb, underneath lies a wolf. Much of what we THINK we know about the Bible doesn't come from the Bible, but from modern culture shaped along with our own political and personal belief systems. This would include "Good Sunday", Adam and Eve, and Who Killed Jesus?"

Modern day proponents of this movement are Hal Lindsay, John Hagee, Pat Robertson to name a few. People just assume that if they see it on TV, well it must be true. If an "authority figure" says it, it must be true. This gives people an excuse to not take responsibility for their lives. A genuine faith in Christ is an active faith. Allowing others to do the thinking for you so you don't have to think for yourself or take responsibility for your life is quite contrary to 'The one who is righteous will live by faith.'

Taken to its logical conclusion, dispensationalism would mean that its followers need to commit suicide like the Heaven's Gate cult did. Yet they won't. It goes to show that despite their claims that God is on their side, they actually don't believe in God's promise to Abraham about being a blessing to all nations. Dispensationalism denies Jesus as Messiah and it denies God's sovereignty.

The notion of being raptured up to heaven is dependent on destruction whether natural or man-made for it to work. So they go about trying to make it work by supporting war, persecutions, animal sacrifices among other things. Quite contrary to the doctrine that God so loved the world that he sent his only son to save us.

What was the point of cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit when it was not even in season? See Matthew 21 particularly versus 18–22; Luke 13:6–9 and Mark 11:12–21.

Pay attention to how the parable of the fig tree is bracketed with the cursing of the temple. That was done so that the reader would not miss the point of cursing the fig tree in the first place. If something is broken, you replace it. Jesus is the new temple (albeit spiritual temple in a spiritual kingdom).

More to the point, Matthew re-orients eschatological expectations away from the earthly city and temple and onto the resurrected Jesus. This theological shift away from the earthly city is painted literarily by the evangelist who concludes his Gospel with Jesus appearing to the disciples on another mountain, a nondescript location in Galilee (Matt 28:16). The exact geographical region is irrelevant; the significance is not on the place but on the person of Jesus. The ingathering of “all nations” will indeed take place, not through an earthly restoration but through the apostles’ ministry of baptism, through which the disciples will experience in the presence of Jesus, so that in being regathered, the restoration at the new temple is realized.

The Jews expected a messiah that was similar to King David or the Macabees. Something along the lines of a warrior king or politician driving out the Roman Empire. Instead, he come to us born, living and dying in poverty. Jesus lived amongst us, the blind, the loss, the oppressed, etc... Instead of driving out the Roman armies, he drove out the religious frauds who had occupied the Temple and lead people astray with their false teachings and empty motions of religion. This messiah had to bring himself to the lowest levels in order for us to have the chance of experiencing God's redeeming grace. This speaks to the nature of who God is. This is a far cry from the portrayal of a God that is only interested in death and destruction.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day trip to Sgt. York Historic Park

I took a three hour round trip to Pall Mall (pronounced /ˈpæl ˈmæl/ pal mal by residents) in order to a pay visit to the Sgt. York Historic Park. It was long overdue.

Most people are already generally familiar with York's exploits during World War I in large part due to the movie plus some general readings here and there. To get more in-depth about his life, I suggest checking out "Sgt York: His Life, Legend & Legacy". Much of his later life was spent seeking to improve the welfare of his fellow beings through improved education, economic opportunities and sharing the gospel of Christ. He stated once "When I die, I had rather it be said about me that I gave my life toward aiding my fellow man than for to be said that I became a millionaire, through capitalizing on my fame as a fighter. I do not care to be remembered as a warrior, but one who helped others to Christ".

Happy Birthday Clint Eastwood!

Not much more needs to be said about Clint Eastwood's career. It pretty much speaks for itself. I remember an interview he did with Parade Magazine in 1992 around the time Unforgiven came out that he likely wouldn't ever retire. He is still going strong at 80. Not bad when most people want to retire in their 60's. Of course, Ronald Reagan, Bobby Bowden, and Joe Paterno would be comparable in that regard. The fact he has been on top of his game for around 50 years is a testament to his love for the craft and his ability to relate to this audience.

Like many people, I enjoy the "Dollars" trilogy with "For A Few Dollars More" being my favorite of the bunch. I enjoy the on-screen partnership with Lee Van Cleef most of all. Of course, aside from this, his most famous role is Harry Callahan. Since the 1980's, most of Eastwood's work has been behind the camera. He has be able to re-invent himself from the macho movie star to a competent director/producer/composer. That shows he is not afraid to take on new challenges and embrace the possibilities. Most people see themselves only doing one thing their whole lives and it traps people into a vicious cycle of dead-end jobs, just punching the clock, pay the bills because it has to be done. If you are going to dedicate the majority of your life to work, you might as well do something you enjoy anyways.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What Is Not Being Addressed In The Immigration Debate

The issue of immigration has really been on the front pages this year. Whether it is purely for political purposes or come as the result of realizing that has gone awry is anyone's guess.

Of course, if we truly wanted to be consistent about immigration, legal or illegal, how come nothing is being done about the immigration coming from Canada, Europe and Asia? I am sure the natives would have something to say about that. To really understand the root cause of this, one must first understand the rather unfortunate state of affairs south of the border. A little history is in order.

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." Smedley Butler, "War Is A Racket"

The pre-dominant economic system in the Eastern and Western Hemisphere is one that is a mix of fascism aka the corporate state and communism aka the poor person's statism. I do agree with some that NAFTA to a large degree has played a role in the economic collapses that we've been witnessing lately. But it was merely a symptom of the problem, not the cause of the problem. As Alan Greenspan so succiently put it (before he went over to the dark side): "In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves."

Folks, while I don't enjoy upsetting your apple care (then again, I've done it quite a bit over the past 10-15 years), the economic problems we are experiencing isn't because of the free market, but in spite of it. We are in fact witnessing the end results of the welfare state. The economies of welfare states inevitably collapse. It has happened in numerous other countries and yes, it has been happening in the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave. But I've been having my doubts as to whether we are as "free" and "brave" as we like to claim. Perhaps I should insert "the few" along with the free and brave.

While we address this "immigration problem", don't ignore the underlying causes of it. Otherwise, we are just going around in circles. Only by embracing liberty-oriented options can it be solved. We must be careful to not adopt statist measures to address a problem that was caused by statism in the first place.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday John Wayne!

As much as I love movies and stars from Hollywood's Golden Age, much to my surprise, I've not written once about John Wayne. Shame on me, but I make amends on his birthday. Below is the scene that made Wayne the recognizable face that is known all over the world. Yet, he received second billing to Claire Trevor. But as they say, the rest is history. There aren't many people whose image is bigger than the human being, but John Wayne is. He is as big if not bigger than Superman and Mickey Mouse.

But what many people may not be familiar with is that aside from "The Big Trail" which was a huge flop then is that for almost 15 years, he was basically a struggling B-movie actor who worked in about 100 movies until "Stagecoach". Then from 1940 until he retired in 1976, he made another 100 movies or so almost always as the star or co-star. He certainly had a tremendous work ethic. It probably didn't leave much time for anything else. In particular I enjoyed his brief role in "Baby Face" where Barbara Stanwyck had his way with him. Just trying to get my head around Wayne wearing a suit and tie, working the 9-5 grind as a banker in the Big Apple takes a leap of imagination. He certainly belongs out west. It disappoints me that Barbara and John never made another movie together. She could have been the sidekick of sorts that Maureen O'Hara would later fulfill. I also would have liked to have seen Wayne and Clint Eastwood in a movie. I read once that Eastwood once commented that he pitched a story idea to Wayne once, but Wayne rejected him out of hand because he felt Eastwood's movies were too violent.

Plenty has been said about Wayne's life and career and I won't need to add anything more. I do however find Wayne's career following a similar trajectory that was going on in national and international affairs. He goes from being an upstart who took on whatever job he could get, finally broke through after earning his stripes, stayed on top for a long time and ended it in a proper fashion with "The Shootist". That is just the way he would have wanted it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Should Illegal Drugs Be Legalized?

(Originally written as a report for a paralegal course in 2003.)

The “Drug Culture” is not a new development. Sumerian cuneiform tablets from 3000 B.C. show a poppy harvest, as do ancient Egyptian scripts and Greek statues adorned with poppy crowns.(1) Opium is said to have been introduced into China by the Arabs probably in the 13th century, and it was originally used there as a medicine.(2) The original Coca-Cola recipe contained cocaine until it was replaced by caffeine in 1903.(3)

The War on Drugs is not a recent event or even a uniquely American event. The British fought the Opium War in the 1840’s.(4) Some of the earliest involvement by the United States with the drug trade goes back to the Spanish-American War. Upon winning the Philippines, many of the colonial administrators of the Philippines were appalled at the high rate of opium smoking among the population.(5)

While international efforts by the United States fell short, in 1911, Hamilton Wright, the State Department’s opium commissioner, attempted to draft legislation to curb the flow of opium into the United States.(6) It met opposition from the States, the medical profession, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical companies. After nearly three years of debate, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act on December 17, 1914 (named for Representative Francis Burton Harrison, who introduced the initial form of the bill).(7) Originally, it was meant to be a registration law: doctors, pharmacists and vendors would submit paperwork on all drug transactions. But the Treasury Department quickly used violations of the law to shut down legitimate practices as well as dope clinics and illicit drug stores.(8) Later developments included the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

The War on Drugs has been on a pretty consistent swing since the Nixon Administration. There are various reasons cited for the War on Drugs. The Reagan Administration’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign was in large part lead by Nancy Reagan. The purpose of this campaign was to bring awareness to the dangers of drug abuse.(9) According to President Bush in a speech in May, 2001, when he introduced John Walters as the newest Drug Czar, he stated that illegal drugs cost more than 100 billion every year, principally from lost productivity. He also stated that the human tragedy of drug use can’t be measured in dollar figures such as lost lives, educational and job opportunities, families torn apart, and health care costs. He states that illegal drugs cost as much as $15 billion a year in health care costs as well as many as 20,000 people die each year from drug use.(10)

Opponents of drug legalization cite a number of arguments for opposing the legalization of drugs. Among these are that drug use and addiction would increase greatly. Hospitals would have to deal with many more cases of drug overdose. Child abuse would increase. Other reasons are there would be more drug-related accidents at work and on the road. Id

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, approximately 65% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States crosses the Southwest border. A kilogram of cocaine costs about $25,000 at the wholesale level. U.S. Federal authorities seized about 103 metric tons of cocaine in 2000 compared to 135 metric tons in 1999. Nationwide, in 2000, South Asian heroin ranged from $50,000 to $200,000 per kilogram. SEA and SWA heroin ranged in price from $40,000 to $190,000. Wholesale-level prices for Mexican heroin were the lowest of any type, ranging from about $13,000 to $175,000 per kilogram. The wide range in kilogram prices reflects variables such as buyer/seller relationships, quantities purchased, purchase frequencies, purity, and transportation costs. U.S. Federal law enforcement authorities seized 1,575 kilograms of heroin in 2000 compared to 1,149 kilograms in 1999.(11)

In a report put out by the Office of Drug Control Policy in 2000, it stated that $25,000 for a kilogram of cocaine “is a high price for a product that is basically agricultural, requires inexpensive chemical processing, and has minimal shipping costs absent interdiction. Consequently, source zone and transit zone programs almost certainly explain the high wholesale prices.”(12)

Domestic law enforcement operates on drug prices in three ways. First, domestic law enforcement seizes some of the illegal drugs, which in turn reduces the supply and/or increases the cost of the product. Second, drug dealers engage in a substantial risk in getting caught and incarcerated. Third, because drug dealing is illegal, contracts between buyers and sellers are unenforceable, and violence often substitutes as a means of enforcing deals. Due to such substantial risk, dealers charge higher prices to compensate. Id

Opponents of the Drug War argue that these astronomical prices are precisely one reason why such drugs need to be legalized. Opponents point to the alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s as an earlier example of how prohibition fails.13 Critics point to organized crime and smaller gangs sought to fill the void in the market made illegal by Prohibition. When the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment, alcohol was again legal and criminal gangs were out of the liquor business.(14)

As for the argument that drug use is immoral and harmful, some say such an argument points out the hypocrisy involved asking why some drugs should be illegal and while others are legal. Opponents also argue that police and military personnel are being misallocated in a war that can never be won. More than 19,000 state and local police work full-time on drug cases. Another 8,000 military personnel are deployed in Drug War missions.(15) It is further argued that drub abuse should be treated as a medical problem and not a law enforcement problem.

When a government report goes as far to admit that $25,000 for a kilogram of cocaine is a “high price for a product that is basically agricultural, requires inexpensive chemical processing, and has minimal shipping costs absent intrerdiction” and that law enforcement efforts almost certainly explain such high prices, factored in imprisoning drug users and policing the border, the War on Drugs certainly appears to be a ploy for power and being used as an excuse to put people in prison. Gangs aren’t fighting it out over alcohol, aspirin and tobacco. Gangs didn’t fight it out over cocaine, heroin, and marijuana at one time either. The exorbitant prices are a prime motive for engaging in the drug trade, which would not occur if it were legalized. Drug abusers could get treatment without fear of arrest and police personnel could be served on murders, rapes, kidnapping and other charges.

1 Chelsie Vandaveer, How did a ban of tobacco lead to opium smoking?

2 Opium in China

3 Drug Control Policy in the United States: Historicial Perspective bin/byteserv.prl/~ota/disk1/1994/9435/943515.PDF

4 Richard Hooker, The Opium Wars

5 Dr. Kevin McCauley, History of Drug Laws: The Harrison Narcotic Act

6 Id

7 Harrison Narcotics Act, 1914

8 Dr. Kevin McCauley, History of Drug Laws

9 Just Say No: Mrs. Reagan’s Crusade

10 Remarks by the President on the 2002 National Drug Control Strategy

11 Drug Enforcement Administration: DRUG TRAFFICKING IN THE UNITED STATES

12 The Price of Illicit Drugs: 1981 through the Second Quarter of 2000

13 Should We Re-Legalize Drugs?

14 History of the Prohibition Act of 1920 in America

15 Does the War on Drugs really enrich terrorists and make America less safe?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer Break is upon us

The semester is over now. I've applied at a number of places for summer work, but may not know anything for sure for a few more weeks. Of course, most places aren't actively hiring. But hopefully, I can at least find some part-time work to keep some money coming in. I am also gathering information on various counties and contacting some education administrators to get an idea of what job market is like. I should graduate next year although not sure if it will be the Spring or Fall.

Football practice starts in August. With 32 incoming freshman and several new coaching hires, there has been some changes that will keep the Carson-Newman Eagles moving along as Ken Sparks enters his 31st year.

I Beat To My Own Drummer

"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, & county commissioners." Edward Abbey

I've been fascinated by how movements and trends get started be it cultural, political, clothing styles and what not. I've been keenly aware since childhood about the pressure to conform to "society's standards" whatever those standards may be. While to a small degree there may be nothing wrong with this, if left unchecked, it can lead to persecutions, mass murder (including war), and collectivization. In a nutshell, society generally runs on the herd mentality. Herd mentality and herd behavior have been prevalent descriptions for human behavior since people began to form tribes, migrate in groups, and perform cooperative marketing and agricultural functions. Religion can also be used to soothe the masses by claiming that all of society united under a central ruler can answer all of life's questions. Religion is about doing what is acceptable of the society in which you are in. A relationship with God is an entirely different matter. "Created in the image of God, a human being is the crowning work of God's creation. Human personality is sacred and life's highest value. To deny freedom of conscience to any person is to debase God's creation."

The idea of a "group mind" or "mob behavior" was first put forward by 19th century French social psychologists Gabriel Tarde and Gustav Le Bon. As was the case thousands of years ago, there are leaders and there are followers. These days, "public opinion" is done through celebrity worship and mass media. All the while, the elites claim they can make all the common people's "problems" go away by just blindly trusting in what they say and do. It can be very difficult to separate yourself from the surrounding culture. Doing so surely will invite hangings on the cross, stone throwing, insults, to name a few ways the masses dictate conformity. But in the end, we are judge by our own individual actions. Don't let the masses dictate how the central character of you is developed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Should I Build An Ark?

With all the rain that has be brought down on Tennessee this past few days, I'm beginning to wonder if I should put my carpentry skills to work and build an Ark. West and Middle Tennessee have really been hit hard by the storms. For the most part, East Tennessee has been limited to one tornado in Fentress County and heavy rains throughout most of the region. I'm sure that the pets will enjoy the show that a big boat would bring.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Want to become UT Head Football Coach?

I'm a Tennessee Volunteers fan through and through. I mean that I have grown up here and like everyone wants to win and win big. I would even love to be the head football coach someday. But yet, there is a part of me that would not be inclined to blindly accept the position. I'm wanting to get a new career going in coaching and/or teaching. So I'm keeping my ears and eyes peeled for the various issues and situations that I could be expected to face sometime.

I realize that not everyone is going to be a 4.0 student. I realize that in theory at least the graduation rate is more important than the winning percentage. Yet how come when a student who is not an athlete is likely to be suspended even though she "pull[s] herself up by her bootstraps" rather than draw a disability check for her fibromyalgia and sought an education so she could help others who suffer from the disease. She's the type of student the University of Tennessee should be proud of."

I will let you come to your own conclusions about this matter.

Let's face it, at UTK like many colleges, winning percentage is more important than character or graduation rates. Winning makes people happy and happy people are more willing to open their checkbooks to donate money to the university. If you want to know why candidates were turning down the head coaching position right and left until they happened to get Derek Dooley to accept the position (and threw in a private flight via Pilot corporate plane for good measure), the flight itself should tell you something. Mike Hamilton comes across as a decent man who is good with the financial aspects that is so much part of running a college athletic program these days. There are many moving parts to this job and not everything is going to go smoothly. But I've always wondered whether he is truly his own man or if is he being unduly influenced? Then there is the issue of how the Board of Trustees can never seem to find someone to become President for more than a few months, wastes money and gladly jacks up tuition every year. Are UT students getting a return on their investment? Well, I choose to enroll at Carson-Newman.

So should at some point in the future an opportunity to become UT head football coach were to present itself, I will have to think about it. Thankfully, I'm keeping my options open.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Can The Government Just Do Whatever The Heck It Wants?

In our system of written law, Congress may use a term to mean almost anything, as long as the law itself defines that meaning. When the written law explains the meaning of a term used in the law, standard English usage becomes irrelevant. For example, by the definition in 26 USC 7701(a)(1), the term person includes estates, companies and corporations (in addition to individuals). While no one would call Walmart a person in everyday conversation, Walmart is a person under federal tax law. The legal use of a term is often significantly different from basic English, and therefore reading one section of the law alone can be very misleading. See more about the Rules of Statutory Construction

As a good example, 26 USC 5841 states that [t]he Secretary [of the Treasury] shall maintain a central registry of all firearms in the United States which are not in the possession or under the control of the United States. The law has a far more limited application than this section by itself would seem to imply. In 26 USC 5845(a) it is made clear that the term firearm in these sections does not include the majority of rifles and handguns (while the term firearm in basic English obviously would), but does include "a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length"(most shotguns are at least 18 inches and some like the Winchester Model 9410 are as long as 24 inches), silencers and grenades. The average citizen reading the law will naturally tend to assume that he already knows what the words in the law mean, and may have difficulty accepting that the legal meaning of the words used in the law may bear little or no resemblance to the meaning that those words have in common English. For example, reading the phrase all firearms in Section 5841 in a way that excludes most rifles and handguns is contrary to instinctive reading comprehension. But any lawyer reviewing Sections 5841 and 5845 would confirm that such a reading would be absolutely correct. Reading one section of the law without being aware of the legal definitions of the words being used can give an entirely incorrect impression about the application of the law.

As demonstrated, sometimes the apparent meaning of a simple phrase in the law is very different from the legal meaning. The income tax is imposed on income from whatever source derived. If the law did not explain what constitutes sources of income, then the law would be interpreted using basic English. However, the law does explain what the term means and therefore standard English usage is irrelevant.

Because the Constitution is the LAW (aside from natural law and natural rights which come from our creator), a good place to start in our discussion of tax laws would be right there. Have you read the Constitution lately? Have you read it since your 9th grade Civics class? This might be a good time to reacquaint yourself with the document that controls so much of our lives every day. You will be amazed at the ease with which you can read the document, especially when compared to current legal writings. It becomes obvious at first glance that the Constitution was written to be understood by the common Citizen who was very concerned with the content. Current legislation is usually not read by many people outside Washington, DC, and frequently not even by the legislators who vote on it. Because of the huge volume of legislation drafted each year, it is becoming common for most legislators to have one of their staff people review legislation to look for specific items so the legislators do not have to take the time to read it themselves. These legislators then vote yea or nay based on a staffer's review of certain items in the proposed law.

Laws today are not written to be understood by the common Citizen. They are written by legislators, who are usually lawyers, to be understood only by lawyers. In a very practical way, this is called "job security." I mean, whom better to interpret the law than one who played a role in writing and approving the law? As a result, most legislators go back to being lawyers when their terms are complete. So most legislation is specifically written by lawyers to be understood only by lawyers. Yet the whole concept of "common law" assumes the average Citizen has both read and understood the law. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is very true, but if you can prove you didn't understand how the law applied to you, it is common to get a case against you dismissed. That is how important it is for the law to be understandable! And yet the Internal Revenue Code is so complex and difficult to understand, even the IRS is not held accountable to the view or interpretation it gives you on any specific tax law! The U.S. Tax Court is full of cases where the IRS gave a written, researched opinion of the "law" and later changed its mind, resulting in a civil or criminal tax case against the person who was counting on the accuracy of the IRS in interpreting the tax laws!

This is a good place to make a statement on the type of government that was created by the Constitution. When you hear a politician speak of our government, almost always you will hear the politician refer to America as a democracy. Over the past sixty years or so, Americans have been brainwashed by our politicians into believing that we live in a democracy. WE DO NOT! Our Founding Fathers considered a democracy and dismissed it. They chose to create, instead, a republic. The differences between a democracy and a republic have been discussed and debated at great length by people more knowledgeable than I, so I won�t take much space here to add to their work. Allow me, instead, to make a simple comparison. In a democracy, if the people or their elected servants want to create a law or enact a change, all they have to do is demonstrate that a majority of the people wants the law or change. A majority vote is all that is necessary. In a republic, there might be a vast majority of the people in favor of a particular law or change, but that will not matter unless The LAW allows it. The LAW must allow it or The LAW must be modified before a new law or change can be passed. The Founding Fathers knew public opinion could be manipulated, or even misrepresented. This is the major weakness of a true democracy. So America elects its public servants to enact the will of the people, but only if The LAW allows it! Congress cannot, by majority vote, extend or increase its authority. The United States Supreme Court explains this principle:

"It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United States generally, but those only which shall be made in pursuance of the constitution, have that rank. Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)

"Congress cannot by any definition it may adopt conclude the matter, since it cannot by legislation alter the Constitution, from which alone it derives its power to legislate, and within whose limitations alone that power can be lawfully exercised." Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920)

The Supreme Court of Tennessee agrees further elaborates:

"Privileges are special rights, belonging to the individual or class, and not to the mass; properly, an exemption from some general burden, obligation or duty; a right peculiar to some individual or body.

Since the right to receive income or earnings is a right belonging to every person, this right cannot be taxed as privilege."
Cole v. MacFarland, 337 S.W. 2d 453 (Tenn. 1960)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

We are now at the time of the year when the air is cool and crisp, the sun is shining, the skies are blue and football fills the news. This week, Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nick Stephens has decided he wants to quit the team and try his luck elsewhere for his senior year. First, it was coaches jumping ship and now the players are. Unless there is something I don't know, most of it can be attributed to people wanting to go elsewhere, not being a good fit for the program or personal reasons. In Stephens case, it appears to be that he senses he won't get a fair shake for the starting spot. Competition is a fact of life. While I wish him well on his newest endeavors, if he is going to let the fact that a freshman and a transfer are getting their share of snaps this Spring bother him, perhaps he realized he wasn't cut out for the cut-throat competition that occurs in the SEC.

School will be over in about a month. I will likely get a part-time job (or at least attempt to) so I can have some spending money coming in. I have signed up for 17 hours for Fall semester. If all goes well, I should graduate with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education sometime in 2011. I'm willing to teach at any level and/or coach preferably football. But I can also coach baseball/softball or track and field/cross-country. Of course, if by some fortunate set of circumstances, I were to get the opportunity to interview for a coaching position in the NFL, I would certainly consider it. But given the likelihood that the NFL may be on a lockout at that time, it would be a non-issue. That is on top of the fact that I am not in the know with any coaches at that level. But we'll see. Stranger things have happened.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bengals options in 2010 NFL Draft

Yes, I do have other interests aside from boring politics or history :) One of my biggest interests is football, particularly college, but pro football too. I've followed the NFL Draft regularly since 1989 (when I first had ESPN), the draft in which Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and a number of other players who would go on to become the face of the NFL in the 1990's were drafted. Personally, I would love to work in the NFL in some capacity.

I've been a Bengals fan for 25 years. So I'm particularly interested in who they may draft. I am a "draft the player, not the position" type of person. The Bengals don't have any glaring needs, but do need to fix up at several positions. This year, the talk has been that the Bengals would draft a tight end or receiver. Now that Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones have been signed to free agent contracts, plus the other receivers and tights ends that they have on the roster such as Chase Coffman, it makes this draft being more about solidifying the team more than having to replace the entire wall. I think Coffman (who was on IR last year) and Jones can get the job done. The bigger question is will offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski utilize the tight end as more than just another blocker or diversion? The Bengals particularly in the 1970's and 1980's were known for having tight ends who were legitimate first down threats. It hasn't been the case since Rodney Holman and Tony McGee were Bengals lastly in the early 1990's.

So draft-wise, I think the defensive side of the ball would be the way to go. While the Vol fan in me would love to see Eric Berry in a Bengals uniform, he should go top 10 whereas the Bengals are picking 21. Barring some surprising trade up, I could see the Bengals drafting Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays who would give the Bengals the closet thing they have had to a David Fulcher at the safety position. Depending on how Mays is used, he would need to improve on his angles and tackling to make it at the next level. I expect Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to draft him at #14. Given the way most NFL defenses are crafted these days, Mays would be a better fit at outside linebacker.

Texas safety Earl Thomas is another possibility. Thomas is a purer defensive back than Mays and would be a better fit than Mays. The only thing keeping Thomas from being a top ten pick is his size, but a good football player is a good football player. Size isn't everything.

Another player the Bengals may consider is Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Depth on the defensive line is always desirable and given that the Bengals have a solid one, they can afford to draft for depth rather than just worrying about trading up and losing picks that would be expended for a higher pick.

So I think it will come down to Thomas and Odrick with Mays being a possibility.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Remembering Good Wednesday

by Mark Cockrell

"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three night in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:38-40).

Since Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the Jews demanded a sign of Him to prove His claim. Jesus could give them no better proof that He was the Christ than the literal fulfillment of the well-known sign of Jonah, Luke 11:30. If this sign were not literally fulfilled, it would prove unto them that He was not the Messiah. This was the only sign Jesus ever gave them to prove His Messiahship. Hence the great need for Him to do exactly what He promised them to do.

Mark 8:31 tells us:

"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."

Did Christ mean what He said? Did He really expect to be buried in the earth for three days and three nights? Jesus did not say, "After two nights and one day I will rise again." He said, "After three days I will rise again." He meant three days and three nights--a full 72 hours!

The Jews remembered this sign when He was crucified.

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first" (Matthew 27:62-64).

They did all they could to prevent His resurrection. They got the watch, made the sepulchre sure, and sealed the stone. "After three days I will rise again" was necessary to fulfill the Jonah sign.

Modern interpreters of the Bible make Jesus Christ a liar. They say Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, buried about sundown the same day, and arose on the next Sunday about daybreak in contradiction to the Scriptures! Any schoolboy knows that this is only two nights and one day. If He were crucified on Good Friday and arose on Sunday morning as they say, then He did not literally fulfill the sign of Jonah. If He did not fulfill this sign as He promised the Jews, then He was an impostor and not the Messiah! In other words, Jesus Christ lied to the Jews about His burial and resurrection.

If the Good Friday theory is correct as some teach, then the Bible contains "highly figurative language" which requires a human interpreter to tell people what the verses really mean. By this same liberal method of interpreting the Scriptures you can destroy every basic doctrine in the Bible.

I do not care very much for what scholars say! But I am greatly concerned about not accusing my Lord of lying! Jesus Christ plainly said He would be in the grave "three days and three nights". He emphatically declared He would rise again "after three days". I believe He fulfilled the sign of Jonah and vindicated His Messiahship. In Matthew 28:6, we read this testimony of the angel at the tomb:

"He is not here: for he is risen, as he said."

He said He would be in the grave "three days and three nights" and "after three days" He would rise again. Jesus did fulfill the Jonah sign. But He was not crucified on Good Friday, nor did He rise on Sunday morning!

The Part-of-a-Day Theory Wrong

Men, in order to get the Bible out of an embarrassing situation, allege that the Jews counted a part of a day as the whole day. Such passages as Genesis 42:17, 18; 1 Samuel 30:12, 13; Esther 4:15-17; 1 Kings 20:29; and 1 Chronicles 10:5 are cited to prove this theory. However, none of these passages prove "three days and three nights" means two nights and one day. Only one of them even contains the expression "three days and three nights" 1 Samuel 30:12. But there is absolutely no reason to give "three days and three nights" in 1 Samuel 30:12 any meaning except their literal meaning. Divine inspiration declares the young man "had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights." What authority has any man to contradict these plain words by affirming the time was not so long? The expression, "three days, night and day", in Esther 4:15, is not the same wording as "three days and three nights" in Matthew 12:40. There is no mention of any nights at all in the other passages; therefore, they give no evidence as to the meaning of "three days and three nights." There is no reason to take any of the passages cited in any sense except their literal sense, unless one has a theory to prove. The "three days and three nights" in Jonah 1:17 are to be taken in their literal sense.

Granting that some of the Jews did count a part of the day for a whole day, can it be proven that this is what Jesus meant? Can it be proven that the Jews counted a part of a day as a whole day and a whole night? Where is the proof in the inspired Word?

Yet, proponents of the Good Friday tradition want us to believe that a part of a day meant a whole day and a whole night. Men who believe the Bible to be literally true dare not accept such reasoning.

The Meaning of Day in the Bible

The word "day" in the Bible in its primary sense means the interval between dawn and darkness.

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night . . . " (Genesis 1:5, Compare Genesis 1:14-18; 8:22.)

This is the first occurrence of the word "day" in the Bible, and the Lord God himself gives its meaning. Jesus believed there were 12 hours in a day. He asked in John 11:9:

" . . . Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world."

Jesus made a day and night consist of 24 hours. Can there be any higher authorities than the Lord God and Jesus Christ? Do not such authorities settle the matter for all true believers?

In the Bible a day is the interval of time comprising the period between two successive risings of the sun (Genesis 7:24; Job 3:16). The Hebrews reckoned it from evening to evening Exodus 12:18,

" . . . from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath" (Leviticus 23:32).

The 12-hour night began at sunset and ended at sunup. It was counted before the 12-hour day.

"And the evening and the morning were the first day" (Genesis 1:5).

Hence a new day began at 6 o'clock in the evening and lasted until the same time the next evening--a period of 24 hours--a 12-hour night followed by a 12-hour day!

The Good Friday Hoax

The Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Good Friday! It is said that Jesus was crucified on

"the day before the Sabbath", (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42).

As the Jewish weekly Sabbath came on Saturday, scholars have assumed Jesus was crucified on Good Friday. This is poor reasoning because the Bible bears abundant testimony that the Jews had other Sabbaths beside the weekly Sabbath which fell on Saturday.

The first day of the Passover week, no matter on what day of the week it came, was always an annual Sabbath.

"And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein" (Leviticus 23:6, 7).

On the seventh day of this feast, the 21st of Nisan, was another annual Sabbath:

" . . . in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein" (Leviticus 23:8).

The day of Pentecost was an annual Sabbath Numbers 28:26. This is the reason we read about Sabbaths in the plural number in the Old Testament Leviticus 26:2, 34, 35, 43.

The Bible makes it plain, Jesus was crucified and buried on:

" . . . the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath" (Mark 15:42).

John tells us:

"And it was the preparation of the Passover" (John 19:14).

It was the preparation day on which the Passover Supper was made ready [editor's note: actually it was the preparation for the Holy Day, the Night to Be Much Remembered], the 14th of Nisan John 13:1, 29; 18:28. It was the preparation to keep the Passover Sabbath--the annual Sabbath which always came on the 15th day of the first ecclesiastical month. John 19:31 adds:

" . . . (for that sabbath day was an high day) . . . ."

Its greatness was due to the fact that it was the annual Sabbath of the Passover Festival.

Two Sabbaths that Week

Matthew makes it plain that two Sabbaths had passed since Jesus was crucified. The KJV has this rendering:

"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre" (Matthew 28:1).

On this verse nearly all translators have allowed tradition to control their translation. It is not "Sabbath" but "Sabbaths" in the Greek text (the genitive case and the plural number). The verse properly translated would read:

"In the end of the sabbaths . . . ."

This allows for an annual Sabbath on Thursday and a regular Sabbath on Saturday.

When Jesus was buried near sundown on the day of the Passover,

"Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary"

watched the burial Matthew 27:58-61. Immediately after the burial, Luke says:

"And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on" (Luke 3:54).

This Sabbath was an annual Sabbath on Thursday. The day after the annual Sabbath the women bought spices, Mark 16:1. Luke tells us that the women, after preparing the spices on Friday,

" . . . rested the sabbath day according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56).

The traditional interpretation makes Mark and Luke contradict each other. In Mark 16:1 we are informed that the Sabbath was past when the spices were purchased. "Had" is inserted without any authority from the Greek text.

"No reason can be given for the variation--bought sweet spices. Not had bought" (An American Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. 11, p. 251).

In Luke 23:56 we are told that the women prepared the spices and ointments, and rested the Sabbath day. If Jesus lay in the grave on Sabbath only, Mark and Luke contradict each other. But if He lay there two Sabbaths having a work day between them, then Mark and Luke harmonize to perfection.

The Resurrection Late Saturday Evening

When does the Bible say that Jesus rose from the dead? The two Mary's came to the tomb:

"in the end of the sabbath" (Matthew 28:1).

The Sabbath always ended at sunset:

"From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath" (Leviticus 23:32).

Then they went to the tomb before sunset on Saturday. Jesus had risen from the dead before their arrival Matthew 28:1-8. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ arose before sunset on Saturday. Christ did not rise on Sunday morning, for the two Mary saw Him, heard Him speak, and held His feet just as the Sabbath ended and the first day of the week began.

"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . ." (Matthew 28:1).

Mark 16:9 tells us Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene early the first day of the week, which was Saturday after sundown. The nearer after sunset this happened, the earlier in the first of the week it was. Mark does not say that she was alone at the time she first saw Jesus, and Matthew tells us that:

"the other Mary was with her" (Matthew 28:1).

The Date of the Crucifixion

Having shown from Matthew 28:1 that Jesus rose from the grave as the Sabbath ended at sunset and the first day of the week began, this would put the crucifixion on Wednesday at sunset just as the preparation day ended and the annual Sabbath commenced. According to the Gospel writers, Jesus died at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m. our time) and was buried about sunset that same day, Luke 23:44, 45, 50-54; Mark 15:33-38, 42-47.

If Jesus were buried at sunset on Wednesday and arose at sunset on Saturday, He fulfilled the sign of Jonah. He would have been in the grave Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night--a full "three days". All together a full "three days and three nights." Thus we have a literal fulfillment of the words of Christ in Matthew 12:40. hence there is no need to follow Roman Catholic tradition which makes Jesus Christ a liar. Truly,

". . . He rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1Corinthians 15:4),

not the second day according to Roman Catholic tradition!

The Third Day

Some Scriptures speak of His resurrection

"after three days" (Mark 8:31; 9:31 R. V.; 10:34 R. V.; Matthew 27:63).

Other verses say

"three days" (Matthew 26:60, 61; 27:39, 40; Mark 14:58; 15:29, 30; John 2:19, 20).

Still others speak of

"the third day" (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Luke 9:22; 18;33; 24:6, 7, 21, 46; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 16:4).

Some make much over "the third day" in Luke 24:21, and they affirm that if the crucifixion took place on Wednesday, Sunday would be the fourth day since these things were done. But the answer is simple. These things were done just as Thursday was beginning at sunset on Wednesday. They were therefore completed on Thursday, and the first day since Thursday would be Friday, the second day since Thursday would be Saturday, and "the third day since" Thursday would be Sunday, the first day of the week.

So the supposed objection in reality supports the Wednesday crucifixion. But if the crucifixion took place on Friday, by no manner of reckoning could Sunday be made "the third day since" these things were done.

Unless we believe the Bible contains errors, we know that all passages must harmonize. Therefore, "after three days" must mean the same as "the third day" Matthew 16:21.

There is nothing in the Bible to favor the Good Friday crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The biblical record harmonizes with a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday evening resurrection--a full 72 hours. This view allows for a literal interpretation of "three days and three nights." It allows for the word "after three days" to mean just that. It proves that Jesus Christ fulfilled the sign of Jonah and thus proved His Messiahship to the Jews.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Does The Fascination With Celebrities Say About Us?

"Worldly things are fleeting"

Yesterday, Michael David Barrett was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Of course, other "sex" scandals in the news lately have involved Tiger Woods and John Edwards/Rielle Hunter. But in all honesty, those smack of smug arrogance and feigned ignorance about what they were doing and the potential consequences of their actions. In Erin Andrew's case, it was a legitimate case of stalking.

The obsession with celebrities and everything about them, fast cars, bigger houses, more money, etc... are really indicative of a bigger symptom at work. It is the false belief that you can't be happy unless you are "famous", "rich", "popular" (insert your adjective here). This symptom is of course nothing new. It is human nature at work. In any given situation, you are going to have leaders and followers. Most people will follow especially when the "leaders" appeal to their innate desires and senses such as safety, security, or making all your problems go away. In ancient times, people were enthralled with emperors, their fancy togas, armor, chariots, and other artifacts of the ancient world. They claimed that on condition you give up essential liberty, they will protect you from barbarians and slaves. In modern times, we want presidents, congressmen and experts to protect us. They claim to make your food safe to eat, your water fit to drink, have lifetime employment so as long as you support collectivist policies, and a whole host of other things. How do you think someone like Hitler or Stalin were able to become as powerful as they were? They couldn't do it without the people.

Tied in with these empty promises, when we see the celebrities on the red carpet, all primed up and stepping out of the limo, or on the big/small screen, they are in the spotlight. They are in the position to be acknowledged. Underneath, we also desire to be acknowledged by others. Is your desire to be acknowledged or popular so great that you lose your head over it? Ask Michael David Barrett. There is nothing new under the sun. Somewhere along the lines, it is important to keep in mind that all things must come to an end. Sometimes it is a matter of fate. Sometimes it is a matter of the natural course that life takes. Sometimes it is of our own doing. Don't lose your head!

Monday, March 15, 2010

America Does Not Go In Search of Enemies Abroad

"Most traditional conservatives believe we would not have nearly as many enemies around the world if we followed a non-interventionist foreign policy and did not get involved in so many religious, ethnic, and political disputes in other countries. The so-called Neo-Cons have great power but really are a small minority of American conservatives, if they are conservative at all." John Duncan, September 10, 2003

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Is Upon Us

After a colder than usual February, Spring is gradually coming upon Tennessee. The average highs range in the 60's with lows in the 40's. The clouds have been opening up a good bit this past few days too. I just hope it doesn't rain all week when it happens to be Spring Break. The Tennessee Volunteers basketball team were beaten pretty bad by Kentucky yesterday. Hopefully, they will rebound during the NCAA Tournament. The football team begins practice next week and the Orange and White game will be April 17.

I am not blogging as often now due to school and just not having any hot topics to deal with right now.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Orange and Blue Game

Carson-Newman had its Orange and Blue game on Saturday. The Blue team won 24-0.

Ken Sparks will be entering his 31st year as head coach. With a number of seniors graduating especially on offense, it is hard to tell how the team will do this upcoming season. They should be competitive as they usually are, but they will be hard pressed to go undefeated again. Nonetheless, it should be an interesting year especially with 32 freshman signees.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Would We Recognize Jesus Today?

"But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. " 'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"-safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD." Jeremiah 7:8-11

There are 1,026,501,000 Roman Catholics and 316,445,000 Protestants in the world. Most Catholics are Roman Catholics; there are 60,018,436 in the United States. Protestants in the U.S. number 42,513,059 as of 1997. Of this, based on figures from the mid 1990's, in the United States, 28,921,564 individual Baptists in 122,811 local churches in 63 different denominational bodies. Worldwide one can identify 37,334,191 Baptists in 157,240 local Baptist churches. Those are impressive statistics. Yet, why do I as a life-long Baptist have this feeling that not many Baptists exist any longer? Why do I have this sense that Christians are invisible?

How is it in your part of the country? Are Baptists (and Christians in general) widely and popularly recognized today as the "stout champions of freedom"? Or is the popular image of Baptists in your part of the world by non-Baptists what it is in mine? And that is that we are narrow, provincial, even reactionary Christians, not freedom-loving freedom-fighters. Baptists in many places today are not seen as those who keep a sickle in their hands to root out the weeds of oppression and totalitarianism in the garden of life.

I have to admit: I have almost no faith in the human race. In the ten years since committing my life to Christ, the world has become a very strange place. Of course, the world didn't change. There is nothing new under the sun. What changed was me. My outlook on the world, myself and my relationship with God is what changed. Granted, I grew up in church, so I'm very familiar with the routine. I thought I was going to heaven at that time too. As it turns out, I wasn't even close. Merely calling oneself a Christian, having your name on an enrollment form or going through the conventional motions of religion isn't good enough in God's eyes. We may not burn incense to Baal, but we do worship other Gods. Those Gods particularly for the middle and upper class would be comfort, fame and fortune or its derivatives. There is nothing wrong with having a house, car or nice clothes in and of itself. But are these things obscuring our relationship with Christ? Are we truly blessed if we have these things? I seem to recall that the blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek, etc...

Which brings me to Jesus. He stands anywhere between 6'0"-6'4", has an average build, a brown mullet, blue eyes and is always dressed in a sparkling white toga. Yet, it is not known if Jesus ever sat for his portrait. The Gospels provide no physical description of Jesus. There is no mention of what day Jesus was born. Was Jesus really born in a motel? What was the innkeepers name? What is going on here?

What is going on is this: We've created Jesus in our image. We put our spin on the Bible in order to make it fit our culture. Jesus who was persecuted and murdered in his own day is now acceptable and spoken on the lips of people everywhere. Not bad for being dead.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is referred to as being a lawgiver re-establishing the covenant through Abraham, Moses and David. Jesus came to establish not a physical kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom and the good news was to go out to the world at large. This is the symbolism behind the torn curtain in the temple. The temple having been cursed by Jesus (parable of the fig tree), the 2nd and final destruction took place in 70 A.D. The deceivers who claim that Solomon's Temple must be rebuilt in order to usher in the return of Jesus are engaging in heresy and idol worship. They seek to lock people out of God's kingdom. By claiming that rebuilding Solomon's temple is a prerequisite for Jesus's return, they are saying God operates according to man's agendas. They also deny that Jesus is the Messiah. Beware of those who claim that Jesus blesses the powerful and wolves in sheep's clothing. Satan also claims to be the Messiah and performs many "miracles".

Take a close look at the genealogy of Jesus. There are five women mentioned: Tamar, Rehab, wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), Ruth and Mary. Bathsheba? The woman whom King David had an affair with? Yes! Tamar, Rehab, and Ruth also had engaged in questionable conduct. There are six women who factor into the account of the Exodus: Shipharh, Pual (mid-wives), Miriam (sister), Jochebed (mother), Zipporah (wife) and the Pharoah's daughter.

What is going on here? These accounts portray a Jesus that is very different than what our culture portrays him as being. Jesus came for the women, the lepers, the lame, the outcasts, the poor, the persecuted, the downtrodden, well you get the picture.

God came to liberate us. Jesus was the cumulation of His plan all along going back to Abraham. Women's liberation, civil rights, natural rights or what have you were being done 2,000 years ago and even earlier. It is just that the world took that long to catch up and yet still, we have ways to go.

So Would We Recognize Jesus Today? I doubt it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Time of Lamentation

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

I don't have to tell you things are bad. It's crazy. In fact, it is worse than crazy. It is the Great Depression II and we are not even halfway through it. But I saw this coming years ago and have in addition to preparing myself as best as I can, I've attempted to warn others and offered advice on how to prepare.
But this isn't a technological failure nor will our modern day conveniences be able to save us. You can't change human nature.

Unfortunately, most people as it turns out are blind and deaf. Instead of listening to me, you either ignored me or persecuted me just like you did Amos, Elijah and Jeremiah. You ignore the poor, you insult the widow in front of her children, you taunt the crippled, you laugh at the cancer patient, you call your injustice system a justice system, you turn the place of worship into a den of vipers and create money out of thin air. Then you turn around and say to yourself, "I'm going to heaven!" Even Satan says that. But what does God say?

30 million people are out of work or only working part-time when they would rather be working full-time. The divorce and suicide rates are up as if they weren't high enough already. Birth and marriage rates are down. Based on how things turned out in light of my warnings years ago, I should be getting the last laugh. But I'm not laughing.

So what happened? In a nutshell, we like people of the past lost sight of what is really important in life. What do you do when you lose your job? Your house? Get divorced? After you lose just about everything, what is to become of you? We failed to take responsibility for ourselves and our families. "Let the government take care of it!" "Taxes are what we pay for living in a civilized society!" Well, the Germans thought they were free too. "I was just doing what I was told" is not going to be good enough for God.

If you asked me ten years ago where I saw myself ten years from now, it would be something along the lines of moving to Los Angeles or Nashville and working in the movies or what not. Well, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. In fact, our lives are planned out from birth until at least 65. Do this when you are 5. Graduate from high school when you are 18 and college at 22. Go work for a Fortune 500 company for the next 43 years. Retire, collect your pension, social security, medicare and live happily ever after. Well, that grand plan for our lives isn't working out so well is it? So much for social efficiency.

I challenge you to open your ears and eyes. I dare you to get outside your comfort zone. I invite you to do a term search on this blog for "16th Amendment", "Rothschild", "Council on Foreign Relations", or "National Emergency Center".

You can either acquire proper knowledge or perish. So I leave you with this question: What shall become of me?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The World According to Genesis

Let me ask you a question: How familiar are you with the account of Genesis? You are probably feeling pretty confident that you know what it says. Would it surprise you to know that this creation account is not the only one in the Bible? For further reading, check out Psalms 74:12-17, Psalms 104:1-8, Job 38, Proverbs 8:1-31, and Isaiah 45:12-13.

At one time, I thought I knew what it said until I actually took the time to sit down and read it word for word. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that our culture has created an account of Genesis, the Four Gospels, Revelations among others into something that is akin to pop culture, something that fits into our modern day prism of life. We are suffering from cultural inertia.

Was Jesus born on December 25? It might help to know about the Winter Solstice. Here is a hint: the Bible never mentions what day Jesus was born.

Was Jesus born in an inn? I don't think they had hotel chains back in the day.

Did Jesus cleanse the temple? I recall there being something having to do with cursing the temple as in being like a fig tree that no longer bears fruit.

Did Paul really say that men should abuse their wives? That is what Planned Parenthood and NOW claim. But we know how credible they are when it comes to issues relating to marriage, family and what not.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to focus on the account of Eve and the serpent. The story goes like this: Eve was taking a stroll somewhere in the Garden of Eden while Adam is off somewhere perhaps tending to his chores. A serpent (there is no mention of the serpent being Satan) walks up to Eve and begins talking. Eve is tempted into taking an apple off the tree in the middle of the garden and eats it. Adam walks up sometime later and takes a bite too. God finds out about their transgression and kicks them out of the Garden of Eden forever.

Now open your Bible to Genesis 3. Very carefully read verses 1-7. Do you notice something odd going on? For one, it makes no mention of an apple. Simply fruit. It could have been figs or olives for all we know. Verse 6 (NIV) reads "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."

"She also gave some to her husband, [WHO WAS WITH HER], and he ate it."

This differs from the image in our heads about Eve going for some lonely afternoon stroll and Adam just happened to stumble upon her after she had eaten the fruit. So why didn't Adam stop Eve from doing so? Adam states to God that he ate the fruit that Eve gave her and Eve states that she was tricked by a sneaky serpent. The bottom line is that in seeking to "be like God, knowing good and evil," Adam and Eve sought to place themselves on a pedestal that is unobtainable. After all, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand." Job 38:4

For some insight on what is going on here, Isaiah 45:12-13 provides us with a clue. I found it interesting that this passage mentions Cyrus (as in Cyrus The Great) and the exiles returning home. This particular event occurred in 538 B.C. after Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian captivity began in 597 B.C. with the major part of it occurring in 587 B.C. This gives us a framework in which to refer to. No one is certain who the specific authors of the Old Testament accounts are. Most likely, they were complied by a group of Hebrew priests. The Babylonian exiles were largely people from the upper class, the priesthood and landowning families. Now imagine that you are living in Babylon and you are hearing accounts from the natives about how the earth and heavens were created as a result of some cosmic battle between Gods. You are reading about how the Earth came into being and credit is being given to a foreign God or Gods. The creation stories in the Hebrew Bible particularly Genesis apparently are a metaphor developed in response to the Enuma Elish as is Noah's Ark is in response to Gilgamesh.

People in our modern world by and large take for granted our ability of literacy. We can go to a library where there are hundreds if not thousands of pieces of literature. Literacy in the ancient world by and large pertained to usually no more than 5% of the population. To be literate in the ancient world is akin to being in charge of the money today. They didn't have a printing press, blogs, and the various wireless technologies that are so much a part of our world. These creation accounts never were meant to be taken with a view of them being "scientific". People of the ancient world didn’t have the understanding of the natural world as modern people do. How can one account for the physical aspects when one doesn’t have the knowledge of DNA, geology, physics among other natural sciences. If humans didn't create the Earth, the stars, the galaxies, then what did? Science merely attempts to explain the natural world. It does not prove nor disprove the existence of God or Gods. Faith and science are not opponents. To suggest they are opponents is to imply that since Peyton Manning is a pro football player, it must be because he can't sing very well. Ultimately, faith and science have different criteria and serve different purposes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5 Reasons Why Christians (and non-Christians) Should Not Obtain a State Marriage License

by Pastor Matt Trewhella

Every year thousands of Christians amble down to their local county courthouse and obtain a marriage license from the State in order to marry their future spouse. They do this unquestioningly. They do it because their pastor has told them to go get one, and besides, "everybody else gets one." Why should we not get one?

1. The definition of a "license" demands that we not obtain one to marry. Black’s Law Dictionary defines "license" as, "The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission, would be illegal." We need to ask ourselves- why should it be illegal to marry without the State’s permission? More importantly, why should we need the State’s permission to participate in something which God instituted (Gen. 2:18-24)? We should not need the State’s permission to marry nor should we grovel before state officials to seek it. What if you apply and the State says "no"? You must understand that the authority to license implies the power to prohibit. A license by definition "confers a right" to do something. The State cannot grant the right to marry. It is a God-given right.

2. When you marry with a marriage license, you grant the State jurisdiction over your marriage. When you marry with a marriage license, your marriage is a creature of the State. It is a corporation of the State! Therefore, they have jurisdiction over your marriage including the fruit of your marriage. What is the fruit of your marriage? Your children and every piece of property you own. There is plenty of case law in American jurisprudence which declares this to be true.

In 1993, parents were upset here in Wisconsin because a test was being administered to their children in the government schools which was very invasive of the family’s privacy. When parents complained, they were shocked by the school bureaucrats who informed them that their children were required to take the test by law and that they would have to take the test because they (the government school) had jurisdiction over their children. When parents asked the bureaucrats what gave them jurisdiction, the bureaucrats answered, "your marriage license and their birth certificates." Judicially, and in increasing fashion, practically, your state marriage license has far-reaching implications.

3. When you marry with a marriage license, you place yourself under a body of law which is immoral. By obtaining a marriage license, you place yourself under the jurisdiction of Family Court which is governed by unbiblical and immoral laws. Under these laws, you can divorce for any reason. Often, the courts side with the spouse who is in rebellion to God, and castigates the spouse who remains faithful by ordering him or her not to speak about the Bible or other matters of faith when present with the children.

As a minister, I cannot in good conscience perform a marriage which would place people under this immoral body of laws. I also cannot marry someone with a marriage license because to do so I have to act as an agent of the State! I would have to sign the marriage license, and I would have to mail it into the State. Given the State’s demand to usurp the place of God and family regarding marriage, and given it’s unbiblical, immoral laws to govern marriage, it would be an act of treason for me to do so.

4. The marriage license invades and removes God-given parental authority. When you read the Bible, you see that God intended for children to have their father’s blessing regarding whom they married. Daughters were to be given in marriage by their fathers (Dt. 22:16; Ex. 22:17; I Cor. 7:38). We have a vestige of this in our culture today in that the father takes his daughter to the front of the altar and the minister asks, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

Historically, there was no requirement to obtain a marriage license in colonial America. When you read the laws of the colonies and then the states, you see only two requirements for marriage. First, you had to obtain your parents permission to marry, and second, you had to post public notice of the marriage 5-15 days before the ceremony.

Notice you had to obtain your parents permission. Back then you saw godly government displayed in that the State recognized the parents authority by demanding that the parents permission be obtained. Today, the all-encompassing ungodly State demands that their permission be obtained to marry.

By issuing marriage licenses, the State is saying, "You don’t need your parents permission, you need our permission." If parents are opposed to their child’s marrying a certain person and refuse to give their permission, the child can do an end run around the parents authority by obtaining the State’s permission, and marry anyway. This is an invasion and removal of God-given parental authority by the State.

5. When you marry with a marriage license, you are like a polygamist. From the State’s point of view, when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, but you are also marrying the State.

The most blatant declaration of this fact that I have ever found is a brochure entitled "With This Ring I Thee Wed." It is found in county courthouses across Ohio where people go to obtain their marriage licenses. It is published by the Ohio State Bar Association. The opening paragraph under the subtitle "Marriage Vows" states, "Actually, when you repeat your marriage vows you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that contract. 1.You; 2. Your husband or wife, as the case may be; and 3. the State of Ohio."

See, the State and the lawyers know that when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are marrying the State! You are like a polygamist! You are not just making a vow to your spouse, but you are making a vow to the State and your spouse. You are also giving undue jurisdiction to the State.

When Does the State Have Jurisdiction Over a Marriage?

God intended the State to have jurisdiction over a marriage for two reasons - 1). in the case of divorce, and 2). when crimes are committed i.e., adultery, bigamy. etc. Unfortunately, the State now allows divorce for any reason, and it does not prosecute for adultery.

In either case, divorce or crime, a marriage license is not necessary for the courts to determine whether a marriage existed or not. What is needed are witnesses. This is why you have a best man and a maid of honor. They should sign the marriage certificate in your family Bible, and the wedding day guest book should be kept.

Marriage was instituted by God, therefore it is a God-given right. According to Scripture, it is to be governed by the family, and the State only has jurisdiction in the cases of divorce or crime.

History of Marriage Licenses in America

George Washington was married without a marriage license. So, how did we come to this place in America where marriage licenses are issued?

Historically, all the states in America had laws outlawing the marriage of blacks and whites. In the mid-1800’s, certain states began allowing interracial marriages or miscegenation as long as those marrying received a license from the state. In other words they had to receive permission to do an act which without such permission would have been illegal.

Blacks Law Dictionary points to this historical fact when it defines "marriage license" as, "A license or permission granted by public authority to persons who intend to intermarry." "Intermarry" is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as, "Miscegenation; mixed or interracial marriages."

Give the State an inch and they will take a 100 miles (or as one elderly woman once said to me "10,000 miles.") Not long after these licenses were issued, some states began requiring all people who marry to obtain a marriage license. In 1923, the Federal Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act (they later established the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act). By 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws.

What Should We Do?

Christian couples should not be marrying with State marriage licenses, nor should ministers be marrying people with State marriage licenses. Some have said to me, "If someone is married without a marriage license, then they aren’t really married." Given the fact that states may soon legalize same-sex marriages, we need to ask ourselves, "If a man and a man marry with a State marriage license, and a man and woman marry without a State marriage license - who’s really married? Is it the two men with a marriage license, or the man and woman without a marriage license? In reality, this contention that people are not really married unless they obtain a marriage license simply reveals how Statist we are in our thinking. We need to think biblically. (As for homosexuals marrying, outlaw sodomy as God's law demands, and there will be no threat of sodomites marrying.)

You should not have to obtain a license from the State to marry someone anymore than you should have to obtain a license from the State to be a parent, which some in academic and legislative circles are currently pushing to be made law.

When I marry a couple, I always buy them a Family Bible which contains birth and death records, and a marriage certificate. We record the marriage in the Family Bible. What’s recorded in a Family Bible will stand up as legal evidence in any court of law in America. Early Americans were married without a marriage license. They simply recorded their marriages in their Family Bibles. So should we.

(Pastor Trewhella has been marrying couples without marriage licenses for ten years. Many other pastors also refuse to marry couples with State marriage licenses.)