San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, February 5, 2016

Unnecessary Pessimism Reigns Supreme In Stocks

As I write this the stock market is down more than eleven percent from the most recent high attained on July 20th of last year.  Normally I would not consider a run-of-the mill stock market correction worthy of a blog post but this one seems to stand out from the others due to the extreme level of pessimism associated with it.  This pessimism is tainting the economic eyeglasses of many people and causing them to say and do some very stupid things.  As I write this some economist at Citi has announced that the world economy is trapped in a "death spiral" that will lead to "a recession and a bear market."  A couple of weeks ago I read about how a noted economist and stock market forecaster was predicting an 80% drop in value for the domestic stock market this year.  Yet as all of these gloomy predictions and assertions are being made the folks making the forecasts are ignoring a tremendous amount of positive economic data.  Let me give you some examples.
  • In the Socialist Democracy of Amerika the Institute for Supply Management’s Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (generally known as the PMI) dropped to 53.5 in January.  It was down from 55.8 in December.  In the UK, the Markit/CIPS Services PMI rose a little from December’s 55.5 to January's 55.6.  Any number above 50.0 for both indices is indicative of future growth.  The two indices were predicting somewhat slower economic growth in the SDA and somewhat faster economic growth in the UK.  How were those two data points received?  Bloomberg announced that, "Service industries expanded in January at the slowest pace in nearly two years, raising the risk that persistent weakness in manufacturing is starting to creep into the rest of the U.S. economy."  The Guardian interpreted the favorable data this way, "Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, was not impressed with the latest numbers. 'January’s services report indicates that the UK’s economic recovery is a shadow of its former self.'"   When good news is called bad news you know the perspective of the interpreter is biased and distorted.
  • Among the many reasons cited for why the world economy is doomed to enter a "death spiral" is the low price of oil.  According to the Citi spokesman cited earlier, lower oil prices "would lead to Oilmageddon, a 'significant and synchronized' global recession and a proper modern-day equity bear market."  Jumping on the oil bandwagon, the Wall Street Journal reported, "With oil hovering at $30 a barrel and gasoline below $2 a gallon, the pleasure of lower fuel prices is turning painful for more of the U.S. economy. The problem isn't just the layoffs and the investment cutbacks in the oil patch, two effects that have been expected since crude oil began sliding back in 2014.  Worries about energy related bankruptcies and loan defaults also are helping to tighten financial conditions."   Now why should low oil prices cause a global recession?  The facts tell the opposite story.  Low oil prices are good for the world economy.  Here are the facts about energy:  1) the energy sector is only about 6.5% of the S & P market cap, 2) in the third quarter of 2015, energy contributed less than 5% of total S & P 500 earnings, 3) excluding energy, the S & P 500 earnings are still growing, 4) the four biggest banks exposure to energy ranges from 1.9% to 3.5% of total loans,  5) in 2014 oil and gas extraction comprised just 1.7% of GDP and, 6) oil and gas extraction accounts for just 0.1% of all SDA jobs. The only people hurting from the low price of oil are oil producers and related service companies.  For everyone else in the world low energy prices are an economic boom.
  • When it comes time to discuss the rate of economic growth around the world you would be forced to agree that we are soon to enter a death spiral if all you knew is what we are being told by the financial media.   How the media can look at the data and consistently come to the wrong conclusion mystifies me.  Do a Google search for "world economic conditions" and all you will read about is how growth is slowing or nonexistent.  All we are hearing about is the existence of some nefarious global slowdown that will harm us all in the near future.  You will find a chart, from the World Bank, showing the rate of economic growth around the world since 2006 here.  Notice that world economic growth from 2012-2014 has been right around 2.5%.  Early estimates of the rate of growth in 2015 are putting it at 2.5%.  Good estimates for the rate of growth in 2016 are around 2.8%.  Looking at another source of information, the world economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2015 and is projected to accelerate to expand by 3.4 percent in 2016 and 3.6 percent in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund. So I ask you, where is the death spiral?  Economic growth around the world is holding steady or slowing increasing.  It is impossible to interpret the data in any other fashion but that is precisely what is happening anyway.
  • Last week I read a story about commercial and industrial loans that should have sent me running into the streets, screaming at everyone to run for our lives.  According to the article the rate of creation of new business loans declined by a small amount in January, giving us a clear signal that Great Recession II is just over the horizon.  I had to check this out for myself. Here is a Fed chart showing the total amount of commercial and industrial loans in the country through the middle of last year.  I fail to see how a small downtick in the total value of all outstanding loans in January indicates we are heading into a recession.  Neither should you.
          Here is what it looks like when we enter a recession:

  • In one of the classic examples of self-referential reasoning, one of the most significant reasons we are expected to soon enter a recession is because the stock market is forecasting one.  Of course it is alleged that the stock market is forecasting a recession because the pundits have examined the data and concluded that it clearly points to an immanent recession.  But the data do not point to a recession.  The data indicate growth.  This only illustrates the old maxim that the stock market, and the day traders who move its price daily, has accurately predicted 15 of the last 3 recessions.  The present drop in the stock market is based upon presuppositional bias and pessimism, not economic reality. 
  • Another bizarre argument being presented in favor of the idea that the world is going into recession is that the strong dollar is inhibiting international trade, thus bringing about a worldwide recession.  How the relative strength of the various currencies of the world has anything to do with overall international trade and economic conditions is not explained.  It is true that relative differences in strength between the currencies of two countries can make the goods and services exchanged between them have different values but it does not follow that exchange rate differences inhibit trade.  Go here for my blog post discrediting that ridiculous idea.   The only thing that is true is that the dollar is strong, as this graph indicates:
  • All a strong dollar indicates is that the SDA is inflating its money supply less quickly than the rest of the countries of the world.  That is a good thing for the citizens of the SDA.  There is no indication that the strong dollar is inhibiting international trade.  Here is the total amount of world trade, reported in millions of US dollars, for 2010 through 2014.  2010: 15,150,000     2011: 18,077,000     2012: 18,123,000     2013: 18,412,000     2014: 18,580,000.  As you can see, it has grown every year.  Statistics for 2015 are not yet compiled although some of the preliminary observations indicate a slight decrease in overall trade. Most of that can no doubt be tied to recessions in some emerging markets nations (their economies are often connected to oil exports) and the economic problems with some European countries.  To asses the value of the argument that a strong, or strengthening, dollar inhibits overall world trade, let's examine the 1990s, when the dollar strengthened even more than it has in the last two years.  The best information I could find on this topic is found at this website.  Scroll down to the graph entitled "International Trade as a Share of GDP for a selection of Countries."  It is about halfway down the page.  Place your cursor on any of the ten countries starting in 1990 and watch how international trade expanded throughout the decade.  In theory, or at least according to today's wrongheaded theory, international trade cannot expand when the dollar strengthens.  History shows us the truth.  There is no connection between the strength of the dollar the the level of international trade.
I conclude that the present pessimism about the stock market is unfounded.  It follows that now is an excellent buying opportunity for stocks and stock mutual funds.  I would take advantage of that opportunity if I were you.

Update:  February 8, 2016

As I write this the stock market has opened down over two percent, despite the fact of Denver's victory in the Super Bore yesterday.  Some things make no sense at all.  The current market drop is being attributed to the fact that last Friday's jobs report showed growth in jobs as well as higher wages for workers.  What would normally be considered to be good news was corrupted and distorted into bad news by those who wouldn't know a strong economy if it jumped up and bit them in the face.  According to the naysayers the good news about the economy will result in the Fed raising interest rates which will have a negative impact upon the economy as we then would plunge into a recession.  Besides the bizarre counter-intuitive nature of that argument, it is also incorrect that rising interest rates are harmful to the economy or the stock market.  Go here for a post showing how utterly ridiculous that idea is.  The bottom line is that bad news is bad news and good news is bad news because the day traders who are moving the market are presuppositionally incapable of perceiving economic reality if it is positive in nature.  This will not go on forever.  Be patient and buy some more stocks if you have the money. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Women Should Die For The Amerikan Empire Too

I believe in equal rights for women.  If you are a regular reader of this blog you might be surprised by that revelation.  You shouldn't be.  If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that my understanding of "rights" is very different than the understanding of "rights" propounded by shrill feminists and their emasculated male counterparts.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are only three civil rights.  Can you name them?  They are the right to life, the right to property and the right to freedom.  A civil right is something God has given to me that cannot lawfully be taken away from me and that must be protected by the civil authorities in the administration of their official duties.  God gave you and me life.  No man can lawfully take our lives and the government has a moral duty to protect our lives.  God also gave us freedom and no man can lawfully take away our freedom and the civil government has a duty to make sure we remain free.  God has also given us, through our dominion efforts in the context of the free market, our property.  No man may forcibly take away our property and it is the moral duty of the civil government to protect it for us.
You can see why the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is in such sorry shape these days when you consider it from the perspective of our God ordained civil rights.  The civil government exists in this immoral land to do precisely the opposite of what it should be doing.  Rather than protecting the lives of its citizens it takes the lives of millions of them by declaring murder to be a medical procedure.  Rather than protecting our freedom it destroys our liberty daily under a barrage of contradictory rules and regulations nobody can possibly obey consistently.  Rather than protecting our property it considers the property of the top 49% of the income population to be nothing more than something to be transferred to the lower 51% in exchange for a vote.
You can also see that all of the alleged civil rights that exist today, such as the right to a taxpayer financed college education, the right to free health insurance, the right to free government schooling for children and the right to force my neighbor to pay for my daughter's abortion, are all "rights" that must first do harm to someone else.  My right to life, freedom and my property does no harm to anyone else in the universe.  Your right to taxpayer financed health insurance does harm to the top 49% of the income population by stealing their money to pay your bill.  You can know with absolute certainty that you are not dealing with a civil right when someone must be harmed to bring that alleged right about.  Most everything that passes for a civil right these days does harm to my neighbor and to me and, therefore, is not a civil right at all.
I began by proclaiming my belief in equal rights for women.  I believe women have an equal right to their lives, their freedom and their property.  It takes no skin off my hide to believe in these three rights and women certainly do have the same three civil rights that men do.  To believe otherwise would be to endorse the murder, enslavement and robbery of women.  So I loudly and vociferously proclaim the right of women to be alive, free and holders of property.  Sadly, although asserting that they are proponents of women's civil rights, the career politicians who populate the federal government of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika are engaging in a war upon women and their God given civil rights.  Allow me to explain.
In an article entitled "Army and Marine Corps Chiefs:  Its time for women to register for the draft" written by Albert Mohler and published yesterday, Mr. Mohler writes, "The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon's recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members.  General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and General Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both said they were in favor of the change during an occasionally contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the full integration of women in the military."  Well there you have it.  Women have finally been given their full share of civil rights.  Women are finally going to be treated equally with men.  Yep, women will be able to die as cannon fodder for the government in wars of imperial expansion just like their male counterparts presently do.  Wonderful, isn't it?
There are so many things wrong with the idea of women registering for the draft I have to limit my criticism to just a couple of the most glaring offenses.  The simple belief that women should be fighting wars, even moral wars of defense, is so overwhelmingly wrong I can't conceive how anyone in his right mind could endorse it.  The reprehensible belief that women should be drafted to fight in the military says more about the state of moral retardation and hatred for all things feminine in this God-hating land today than just about anything else I can think of.  The fact that I even have to write a blog post against this horrendous concept mystifies me, but it is the way it is.
Currently all men who reach the age of 18 are required to register for the draft.  The warmongers in the federal government want quick access to bodies, which will soon turn into corpses, in the event they need to dramatically escalate a war of imperial expansion and empire construction.  In the event Congress declares the draft to be functional once again, it would be a simple process to round up thousands of young men and force them to die in foreign wars on behalf of their government.  Now, in the name of equal rights, the military wants to do the same to women by forcing them to register for a potential future draft.
Let us begin with the fact that the draft is an act of kidnapping.  You read that right, the draft is an immoral activity because it violates our God-given civil right to be free.  When a man is drafted he is not free.  On the contrary, he becomes a slave to the military  branch of the civil government and he is forced to perform actions, many of which are against his will, in the name of the all powerful and beneficent State.  Conscripted military service is slavery.  There is nothing that distinguishes it from the slavery of the old south save the fact that everyone recognizes that southern slavery was kidnapping but, thanks to government school indoctrination, everyone believes submitting to the draft to be a patriotic act.  JFK horrific and infamous assertion that we should "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country" is the exact opposite of the biblical truth.  The civil government exists, according to the Bible, to serve the citizens of the land by protecting their three God-given civil rights.  The citizens of the land are not, in the biblical economy, required to serve the whims and wishes of the State.  
Even if the draft were not kidnapping it would still be immoral for women to be drafted to serve in a foreign war because all current and anticipated future wars are immoral.  Now a woman is not only being kidnapped by her government, she is being forced to perform immoral actions on behalf of the government.  Please tell me, how is the idea of drafting women to fight offensive wars of empire expansion any different than a pimp forcing a woman to have sex for cash with his customers?  The men of this country are already potentially exposed to this double jeopardy of sinful behavior, why should the women be also?
Should the draft ever be initiated I believe it is the moral duty of the Bible believing churches in this immoral land to create an underground railroad that will transport their children to safe havens, far away from the kidnapping hands of civil government.  I certainly hope that day never comes but if it does, who will answer the call to freedom? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ted Cruz Is A Thief

I had the misfortune of seeing Ted Cruz's victory speech after his win in Iowa the other night.  I had tuned into Fox News hoping to see how Trump was taking his second place finish and I was treated to a long-winded affair from Cruz that left me wondering what it means to be both a Christian and a career politician these days.  Let me tell you about it.
Cruz, flanked on the stage by his Baptist preacher father, began his speech by saying, "To God be the glory."  For those of you who are not Evangelicals, that is a formulaic way of saying that the person making the utterance attributes to God the events that have taken place.  It is a good phrase to use when courting the Evangelical vote in this country since they will generally blindly follow anyone who tells them what they want to hear (of course, that makes them no different than any other voter, they just have some religious things they want to hear rather than the constant litany of more common statist propaganda). Cruz was clearly making a point to Evangelicals.  He wanted them to know that he is one of them and he appreciated their support.
Not more than a minute or two went by before Cruz came to the point in his speech where the deity he truly believes in was identified.  He was making a long list of points about how the next GOP candidate for King of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika will not be selected by the career politicians who infest the RNC, nor by the media, nor by some other groups of people I have already forgotten.  No, Cruz insisted, the next King will be selected precisely in the fashion he had just been selected, "by the sovereign will of the people of the state of Iowa."
Once again, if you are not an Evangelical, you might not be familiar with the theological buzzword 'sovereign.'  It has become very popular in recent years as the branch of Evangelicalism known as Neo-Calvinism has risen to power.  Sovereignty is an attribute rightly and properly ascribed to God and God alone.  Saying that God is sovereign is confessing that the God of the Bible is in control of all things and working them out according to His purposes and for His glory.  That is part of what Cruz meant to say when he began his speech by saying, "To God be the glory."  But once Cruz started speaking his true god was revealed.  His sovereign god is the voice of the people.  Cruz is a committed believer in the religion of democracy.
God has an opinion about what Cruz said the other night.  When Ted proclaimed glory to God he needed to follow that simple assertion up with some practical application.  Maybe he should have turned to his father and asked him to come up with some good sermon applications that he could deliver as a part of his speech.  A career politician announcing that he is seeking to live his life to the glory of the God of the Bible should follow his pronouncement up with some sort of positive assertion about the importance of the moral and civil law of God found in the Bible being the law of the land.  Cruz, and every other career politician who has ever professed to be a Christian, has stubbornly refused to do that.  Using 'God' words and sharing emotional statements is one thing.  Taking seriously the moral claim God has upon the lives of the citizens of this idolatrous land is quite another thing entirely.  Ted invited God to his victory celebration and then quickly dispatched Him to the back wall where He could watch and remain silent.
None of what I have written so far is the main point of today's blog post.  I just wrote these things to make a point about all of those career politicians who claim to be Bible believing Christians.  They are not.  They are hypocrites, every last one of them.  Today, however, I am more interested in a story I read in my Denver Post a week or so ago about Ted's religious practices.  The title of the article was, "Cruz runs a religious campaign, but tithing is not on the candidate's agenda."
Orthodox (not in the sense of a national orthodox Church but in the sense of a theological orthodoxy) and historic Christians have always maintained the moral necessity of the tithe.  For those of you who do not know what a tithe is, let me explain.  Tithing is the practice of giving ten percent of your income to the local church to which you belong.  Evangelicals will sometimes talk about it but, for the most part, tithing is another one of those historic doctrines Evangelicals have found to be burdensome and inconvenient, so they ignore it.
I don't know for sure but I would bet that if you asked Ted's dad, the Baptist preacher, if he believes in tithing you would get an affirmative answer.  Clearly his son does not.  The newspaper reported, "Ted Cruz sometimes sounds more like a preacher than a presidential candidate, praising the transformative love of Jesus Christ and promising to defend religious liberty.  But the Texas senator rarely evokes the biblical tenet of tithing, the mandate that 10 percent of possessions be donated to the church."  The author of the story does not get things quite right here.  Tithing is not based on net worth, it is based on income.  One does not tithe ten percent of one's possessions, as the author suggests.  But I think you get the point anyway.
The story goes on to inform me, based upon tax return information Cruz released to the media, that "Cruz doesn't tithe.  He and his wife donated less than 1 percent of their income to charity and nothing to churches, including to their own in Houston...Cruz has said that he and his wife were more focused on using their seven-figure annual income to build a financial foundation for their family and his two daughters."  Well there you have it.  Ted Cruz ignores the financial needs of the church of which he is a member and focuses on the family instead.  Ted also ignores the clear teaching of the God of the Bible about tithing.  That is a dangerous thing to do.
God gives us His opinion about the tithe in Malachi 3: 8-9 where He declares, "Will a man rob God?  Yet you are robbing Me!  But you say, 'How have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you."  Evangelicals dismiss this passage because it is found in the Old Testament and, for them, the Old Testament is scripture emeritus, having no authority over their lives at all.  I suspect Ted takes the same position.  The fact that Evangelicals and Ted declare God's opinion about the tithe to be in error does not change the fact that God is not lying when He commands His people to tithe.  It also does not change the fact that God will curse all those who ignore the clear teaching of His Word and refuse to tithe.
Ted long ago sold his soul to the devil.  When he decided to become a career politician, and align himself with the Beast of civil government, he closed the door on any meaningful relationship with the God of the Bible.  No matter what he says it is impossible to appraise the man apart from the way he behaves, and the way he behaves is not good.  He is a career politician who rejects the law of God, adopts the myth of neutrality in the public square and is embarrassed by God's moral claims upon him and others.  As a result he does not tithe, nor does he call for God's law to be enshrined as the law of this immoral and covetous country.  I conclude that Ted Cruz is a thief in the eyes of God.  In case you don't know, that is not a good thing to be.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bernie Is The Man!

I don't know if I have been getting a skewered view of reality from the things that I read and the things that I listen to on the television but it seems to me as if Bernie Sanders is the real story in this campaign for the next King of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  I have listened to an inordinate amount of talk radio the past several weeks and all the talk I have heard has been about the Republican candidates in general, and Donald the Trumpet in particular.  His rise from being a mere billionaire to the potential next King of this idolatrous country has really captured the attention of the media.  But Donald is not the big story.  The truly amazing story so far in this campaign is the meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders came within a hair's breadth of winning the Iowa caucuses last night.  He ended up essentially splitting the Iowa delegates with Hillary.  A year ago Bernie Sanders was an unknown.  He entered the race for King, in opposition to Hillary, simply because he believed she should not run unopposed.  It was a tokenistic gesture by a man virtually guaranteed to be unelectable.  Today Bernie has a realistic chance at unseating Hillary and winning the Democratic nomination for King of the SDA.  His rise is far more improbable than Trump's.  His popularity is far more unexpected than the Donald's.  Why is his story not being told?
Bernie has a very simple campaign platform that resonates with many of the envy-filled citizens of this covetous country.  According to Bernie the seat of all evil is profit seeking businesses and the personification of all evil is anyone who happens to be a billionaire.  I was watching one of the Democratic panel discussions a couple of weeks ago when Hillary was asked about the alleged heroin problem in this country.  Rather than saying we should return to our roots and decriminalize all drugs, including heroin, Hillary offered up the completely predictable response that she has "a plan" that will set aside several billion dollars to treat heroin addicts and help stop the flow of heroin into this country.  When Bernie had his chance to answer he told me that he agreed with Hillary but felt compelled to add one additional comment.  Bernie went on to say that profit seeking pharmaceutical companies in this country, which make billions of dollars and create many billionaires, are entirely to blame for the problem.  If he was to become King he would shut those companies down and make sure they never made a dollar in profit from heroin sales again.  I was flabbergasted as I listened to him speak.  It certainly appeared to be the case that Bernie believes companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Merck are in the business of manufacturing and marketing heroin to the Amerikan public.  The moderators of the discussion did not seem to be surprised by his answer, which was received with cheers by his supporters.
Bernie has a one track mind.  He is a committed socialist, as everyone knows, but he uses his socialism to interpret and answer every single issue he confronts.  No matter what the issue is, it is a profit seeking business that is to blame and the solution to the problem is to either tax that company into oblivion or force it to cease operations.  One of Bernie's most popular points on the stump is his call for total forgiveness of all existing student debt and universal free college degrees.  I have seen interviews with many college students and they seem to be in whole-hearted support of Bernie.  And why not?  If they can get Bernie elected they believe he will forgive them of thousands of dollars of debt.  The whole thing reminds me of when King Obama was elected.  Do you remember seeing all those poor black people being interviewed who actually believed that if Obama was made King he would use the resources of the federal government to pay their monthly rent and issue them all free Obamaphones?  It was pathetic to watch and it is happening again with Bernie.
Bernie is the perfect man to lead the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  We are, after all, a socialistic country.  We have been a socialist country for many years, although most people are unwilling to admit that truth.  When 49% of the citizens of a country pay 99% of the entire federal budget you know you are living and working in a socialist country.  Bernie distinguishes himself simply because he is the first to come along in my lifetime who admits the obvious.  Bernie knows that everyone is filled with envy and wants to use the coercive power of the federal government to force people who make more money than them to pay for their bills.  All the other candidates believe the same thing, since that is the only way to get elected, but they have never been so straightforward and crass in the assertion of their beliefs.  Wealth transfer scams like Social Security, Medicaire, Medicaid, Aid for Families with Dependent Children, the Earned Income Credit and other government monstrosities have been sold as patriotic entitlement programs designed to create a "safety net" to make sure "no child gets left behind" in a country that is "rich enough to send a person to the moon."  Bernie has dramatically altered the dialogue.  He does not disguise his envy and hatred for the top 49% of the income population.  He does not need them to get elected and he overlooks no opportunity to fan the flames of class warfare and institutionalized envy to buy his votes.  
Bernie is the perfect man for the times.  As far as I am aware, there has never been an openly socialist candidate campaigning for the office of King who was anything more than a fringe candidate.  Bernie's beliefs are no longer restricted to the fringe element in this God-hating country.  Bernie is now mainstream, as his election results clearly prove.  Bernie is the voice of the majority of the envy-filled voters populating this land who want to use the power of government to steal from others who make more money than they do.  He is a master at casting the actors in this morality play.  The villains are always hard working productive people who have dedicated their lives to serving others via the free market.  The victims are always the envy-filled voters who are perpetually cast as downtrodden and oppressed by the evil rich people.  Think Snidley Whiplash and you get a pretty good idea of how Bernie sees things.  Most importantly, the heroes are always the career politicians who ride in to play the role of  modern Robin Hoods  They are the only people separating the rapacious businessmen from their defenseless prey.  If they are not elected and empowered with god like powers we are all doomed.
I would like to see Bernie receive the Democratic nomination for King.  I really want to see a man who is intellectually committed to saying what every other career politician believes but is afraid to say.  The simple truth, which nobody but Bernie is willing to admit, is that we have become a nation of envy-filled socialists who believe that theft is virtue and robbery is moral, provided it is being done by the anointed career politicians who will lead us all to prosperity like we have never seen before.  Bring in the choir, strike up the worship band, Bernie is in the house with a sermon we all want to hear.  He is going to take your rich neighbor's property and give it to you because, after all, that is only fair.  Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What Are You?

What are you?  How you answer that question determines the fate of your eternal soul, so you might want to think about it for a minute or two.  I will give you some time to formulate your answer.......

I believe most people would answer the question I have asked above by telling me what they do for a living.  For example, if I ask you what you are you will likely respond by telling me you are a doctor, a lawyer, a career politician, an overpaid bureaucrat or a janitor.  In other words, you define who and what you are by what you do.  That seems to be a common practice these days and it is, I believe, a dangerous precedent.
The front page of the Denver Post from Sunday, January 17th had one of the saddest headlines I have read in quite some time.  The headline said, "I am a skier" and the sub-headline was "Forsberg, 15, returns to the slopes for the first time since April crash."  The story that followed told the depressing tale of a 15 year old girl named Kailyn Forsberg who was an up-and-coming star in something called "slopestyle skiing."  As a result of a botched flip maneuver she attempted last April at Copper Mountain she is a paraplegic today.  Last month she returned to the ski slopes for the first time since her accident, fully equipped with a ski-sled used by people who can no longer use their legs.
Here is what the story said about that day, "On a windy and cold morning in the mountains, family and friends gathered for a ski day that could have gone two ways for Kailyn Forsberg's return to the snow.  If the falls proved too plentiful and painful to body and ego, she might have shed her lifelong identity as a skier.  Or, if the turns rekindled a dormant but unextinguished flame, the soon to be 16 year old would reconnect with the sport she loves even though it robbed her of so much."
I can just imagine the scene.  Family, friends and various media-types gathered for a classic feel-good moment in which an injured teenager returned to the sport that destroyed her legs and ability to ski.  I can just see the tears of joy streaking the faces of her parents as she stumbled down the bunny slope, crashing all along the way.  The report continued, "Oh, she fell Saturday.  Over and over.  Each time she pitched into the snow, she shook with laughter."  The reporter recorded her response to the event as she exclaimed, "I love it!  I am a skier!"
I am afraid I do not share Kailyn's enthusiasm for her predicament.  Let me tell you why.  I have a hard time getting emotionally involved when 15 year old girls tell me they have been doing something "all of their lives."  At the very most Kailyn has been skiing for 10-12 years.  That is not much time in the lifespan of the average human being.  I find if rather offensive when kids talk that way, especially when many of the adults surrounding them have truly dedicated their entire lives to some cause or purpose (frequently including raising their kids), often to no public fanfare whatsoever.  The people who gathered to watch the pathetic spectacle of a paraplegic skier coming down the slopes, crashing all along the way, were doing so in the hope that she would not "shed her lifelong identity as a skier."  Apparently they were all overjoyed when Kailyn pronounced that she is still a skier.  I have news for you Kailyn.  You are not a skier.  You are a cripple.
Does what I wrote seem harsh to you?  It shouldn't.  I am just telling the truth and sometimes the truth is hard to hear and digest.  Kailyn will never ski again.  Continuing to live in a fictional world in which she is told by all those around here, as well as by herself, that she is a skier is ridiculous, absurd and harmful.  Nobody ever makes any progress in life when they dedicate themselves to rewriting history and living in make-believe worlds that they prefer to the harsh truths of the real world.  Kailyn will only make progress as a human being when she embraces her disability and moves on, ceasing to fruitlessly attempt to rekindle the old feelings she had derived from her previous skiing experiences.   Still, the Welsh motto is live and let live.  She, and her friends and family, are free to do whatever they want to do.  What I am offering is just the opinion of a mad Welshman who has never been a paraplegic.
My response to Kailyn's story, as well as the hundreds of similar tales told every day, is sadness.  I see people desperately attempting to hold on to something they were in the past, rather than going forward to become what they are in the present.  Even more profoundly sad is the fact that people like Kailyn define themselves by what they do rather than who they are.  She is not alone in that malady.  Practically everyone I know suffers from the same ailment.  Everyone defines himself by what he does rather than what he is.
What you do changes every day.  Most people will go through three or four career changes throughout their lifetimes.  Do that mean they change who they are three or four times over their lives?  Even those who stay in the same career are not performing that career with the same skill and effectiveness over time.  In the early years the lack of experience inevitably means the person will not be as skilled at what he does as he will be later, when experience has honed his abilities.  Then, as old age and infirmity set in, those finely honed skills will begin to deteriorate.  Does that mean a person should be defined initially as an inexperienced human being, then later as a highly skilled practitioner and, finally, as a decrepit nincompoop?  I don't think so.
I would like to propose that we who claim to be human beings stop describing ourselves by what we do and, instead, define ourselves by what we are.  That, of course, opens a new can of worms.  Just what, exactly, am I?  Or, more precisely, of all of the things I am, which one defines me?  I began this blog post by declaring that your answer to the question above will determine the fate of your eternal soul.  I am now prepared to demonstrate why that is true.
Every person is many things, depending upon the context, but only one thing really matters.  Let me cut to the chase.  You are either a Christian or you are not.  That is the only thing that matters.  What I just wrote is so important I will write it again.  When you think about what you are, only one thing matters.  Either you are a Christian or you are not.  Everything else follows from that one simple distinction.
When I say you are either a Christian or you are not I do not mean what most people mean by 'Christian' these days.  I do not mean someone born in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is a Christian.  I do not mean that cult members like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians.  Being a good Protestant, I do not include Catholics under the mantle of Christian either.  (To be fair, if they are consistent with their theology the Catholics would exclude me also.)  I go so far as to exclude most people who call themselves Evangelical Christians as well because the God they claim to worship bears little resemblance to the God of historic Christianity.  If you want to know what a Christian is, read something written by old dead guys like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, John Gill, William Cunningham, Richard Dabney, B.B. Warfield, A.W. Pink, Louis Berkhof, John Stott or J.I.Packer.  That should give you a pretty good idea about what a real Christian is.
All Christians will spend the overwhelming percentage of their total life spans in the Eternal State, living in the New Jerusalem in the personal presence of the triune God.  Everyone else will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.  It matters not what your career was during this life.  It does not matter if you were a skier or a skater.  It does not matter if you were famous or unknown.  It does not matter if you were rich or poor.  There is only one thing that matters.  Were you a Christian?  If you were, you will live.  If you were not, you will die.  Kailyn needs to stop falsely telling herself that she is a skier and consider the far more important issue in her life.  Is she a Christian?  All of those who tenaciously cling to the activities of this life, and define themselves accordingly, need to consider what I have written.