Who kills whom?

Here are some excerpts from this article in U.S. News and World Report us news

“Of the 13,455 cases from last year in which the FBI listed a victim’s racial information, 7,039 victims – or 52.3 percent – were black. That compares with 5,854 cases – or 43.5 percent – in which the victim was white, an increase of about 8 percent from last year.

It’s a disparity that becomes more pronounced in the context of population.

2015 Census estimates suggest that whites account for 77.1 percent of the overall U.S. population of roughly 321 million, while blacks comprise 13.3 percent.

“The vast majority of homicide victims are killed by people of their own race. People tend to kill who they know. “You hurt people who are a lot like you. That’s how it works,” says David Kennedy, a professor and director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

“Among the roughly 6,000 cases in which the race of the victim and the offender were known, the number of blacks killed by blacks rose to 2,380 last year, an increase of about 8 percent from 2014. The number of white people killed by other whites rose 3.5 percent to 2,574 victims in 2015. Since 2001, the share of black-on-black and white-on-white homicides as a proportion of those killed of each race peaked at 91.9 and 84.2 percent, respectively.”

Now compare the facts to this perspective, from the website verysmartbrothas.theroot.com. verysmartbrothas
“In America, white people are everywhere, and this ubiquity connects to perhaps our greatest irony: We (black people) are vastly outnumbered by them. They also own more land, earn and possess more money, and have all the guns. Most of the people making laws are white, as are most of the people enforcing them. There are entire states you can drive through without seeing one of us, entire lives that can be led without ever having any meaningful interaction with us. We are surrounded, outnumbered, out-resourced and outgunned. Our entire existence here is a continual assault on our bodies.”
If “black on black” homicides comprised 91.9% of black homicides since 2001, how are white people the problem? Do the lies and willful disregard for the facts in this kind of “black narrative” feed white racism? I don’t know, but it certainly helps fuel the rage of blacks, which encourages more violence against police, which in turn makes neighborhoods less safe. Which neighborhoods? Neighborhoods that depend on police to respond faster–black neighborhoods. This is the same narrative that ISIS and other violent Muslim groups use to rally their troops (“the ‘Crusaders’ are killing our brothers in Muslim lands–that is why we are killing innocents!”).

It isn’t theft….is it?

Self-checkout stations in stores and supermarkets, you hate them or love them. I love them, for a lot of reasons. I am getting old, and that means I buy increasingly more embarrassing things for physical conditions like constipation, gas and (someday, not yet) leaky bladder. Why should I allow that foxy young female checker to see all that? But the main reason I like self-checkout is that there are rarely lines, and the slowest kind of people (i.e. the old lady who has to fish in her overstuffed purse for small change or, God forbid, a checkbook! There’s this thing called a debit card now lady….) usually require human checkers. So it’s faster, and I get to overcome my temptation to steal.

Okay, I said temptation, not the act! Self-checkout theft can lead to some really tortuous rationalizations. An article in The Atlantic magazine banana trick, featured a Reddit discussion thread, “Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” reads one of the more militant comments in a Reddit discussion on the subject. “There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.” Darn, why didn’t I think of that, yesterday when I easily could have failed to scan a few items at the Walmart where the lady at the exit always waves me through without even looking at my receipt? The article said that normally honest people, who would run after you to give you the $20 bill you dropped, are more prone to stealing when they rationalize they are cheating a machine–the scanner–rather than a person–the checkout clerk. 

The article cited a study by Leicester U. that said that for $21,000,000 items self-scanned there were $805,000 taken without scanning. That’s 3.83%, and is probably low. Here are some excerpts The Daily Mail article called “Are you a swiper?” The comments are from psychologist Emmeline Taylor. Shoppers who steal groceries by not scanning them at supermarket self-service checkouts now have a name – they’re called ‘swipers’. A staggering 33 per cent of customers regularly steal through the do-it-yourself checkout area, with fruit and vegetables and breads highest on the list for ‘swipers’. ‘Shrinkage’, the cost of people stealing including the ‘swiping’ at do-it-yourself checkouts, costs the retail industry an estimated $US 119 billion each year. So some swipers are ideological and say they steal because they (the supermarkets) are big corporations who have made everyone redundant, and they rip off farmers. People can sometimes do this accidentally, and once they got home they realise they have not paid for the goods and start thinking ‘how easy was that?’ Individuals can steal up to 95 times before they are ever apprehended.

I admitted I was tempted from time to time, but have never stolen an item. I am extremely uncreative with rationalizations to dishonesty, but more importantly, as Proverbs 15 states, The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. The eyes of the Lord see all–that gives my temptations pause–and I would rather have the tongue of the wise than pour out folly–though we call it rationalization.


Ain’t nobody gonna tell me nothing!

When I returned home from Vietnam in 1970, I chose to live in a fairly disadvantaged neighborhood (and that’s a charitable description). What I experienced there opened my eyes to a truth about human beings so basic that it’s as difficult to see as the air we breathe. In much the same way that a scientist assumes an orderly universe even when they don’t believe in a Creator, human beings reflexly react to being told to do or learn something, even when they are telling themselves, even when the thing they should do would improve their lives.
When I lived in west Philadelphia, I was appalled at all the trash on the sidewalk. I started carrying a garbage bag with me and picking up trash on the way to the bus stop. One day I saw a teenager throw a soda can, sandwich wrap and empty chips bag on the ground, right beside a trash can. I said, “hey man, we have to live with this mess, couldn’t you throw it in the can?” His response was classic rebellion, as well as classic slave mentality. “If the Man don’t care about how I live, why should I?” I said, “the Man doesn’t live here, we do.” His response made me glad that handguns weren’t common in those days.
While that teenager’s rebellion was obvious, the all too common phenomenon known as procrastination is a more subtle example of rebellion. The mom of one of my daughter’s friends is chronically late–don’t we all know someone like that (maybe even you?)? She has resolved countless times to be on time, and she never is. Why do I call procrastination rebellion? If a chronic problem, which you and everyone you know consider to be undesirable, is simple to fix, but you don’t take the steps to fix it, what else can it be? If you could be on time for appointments just by leaving 10 minutes earlier than you normally do, and yet you never do that, you don’t want to fix the problem. Don’t tell me you want to….if you wanted to you would. The important question is, “what’s stopping you?” The same thing is stopping that teen from doing the right thing. It’s their reaction to the whole concept of “the right thing.”
The internal reaction is “ain’t nobody gonna tell me nothing.” Nobody gonna suggest I need to leave earlier, nobody gonna tell me throw my trash in the can, nobody gonna judge me about anything, I’m in charge of my life, nobody is the boss of me….” Oh really? Whatever is whispering all that “I in charge” shit is the boss of you! In my previous post I talked about deep presuppositions that control behavior and expectations, and the importance of understanding and discerning patterns of behavior. If you regularly put off what needs to be done, if you are consistently late (by the same amount of time usually–tell me that’s not a pattern), if you automatically want to argue with anyone who expresses an opinion that differs from yours (I don’t mean reasonable debate, I said argue), you are in rebellion.
What is rebellion? In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they needed to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. There was nothing lacking. There was not even right or wrong, good or evil, because they were in direct communion with their creator and thus their lives were perfect, by definition. The only two trees in the Garden whose fruit were forbidden them were the Tree of Life–which would have made them immortal–and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But despite all these advantages, they rebelled, and ate of the fruit of that Tree. Why? Genesis 3:2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
I wonder why the serpent didn’t entice them to eat of the Tree of Life first? God put them out of the Garden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life. Genesis 3:22. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
You may believe that this story is allegory, or, as I believe, real. Regardless, rebellion is bound up in the heart of humanity. Are you ready to judge yourself?

Presuppositions, Prejudices, Patterns and Proof.

If we were teaching a course in ethics, and wanted our students to look beyond their two P’s, prejudices and presuppositions, where should we start? (I am concerned with this issue because practically all of the media, pundits, bloggers, and victims claiming their “15 minutes of fame” aspire to teach ethics) Perhaps we could ask, “what is the point of teaching ethics” or “what are ethics anyway” or “whose ethics?” All good questions, none of which even begin to touch those two P’s. More foundational are two other P’s, proof and patterns.

We Westerners live in a world where we think science trumps faith, without questioning what science is. A good working definition of science is “a systematic enterprise that creates, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.” The bases of the scientific method are: hypotheses, experimental testing of hypotheses, replicating results of testing, thus either proving or disproving the hypotheses. When the replication of test results satisfies some statistical standard, it is said that the experiment “proves” the hypothesis. Hmm…what if there were a major unexamined presupposition that upends the whole concept of “proof” itself? 

A presupposition is a condition that must be present in order for a statement or belief to make sense in the language spoken. When a physicist says his experiment proves the existence of a particle or whatnot, his foundational presupposition is that our universe is orderly, meaning that if you repeat an experiment using exactly the same materials and parameters, you can expect to duplicate the same results. Order–repeatability–is presumed. If our universe were random, what would be the point of experimentation? Every result would be an accident, no pattern could be established. 

The magic word here is “pattern”. The very existence of patterns, whether in nature or human behavior, strongly suggests that the universe is not random. A pervasive example is gravity. It is always an attractive force, never repulsive i.e. objects are always pulled towards each other, never pushed away. The gravitational force always increases with the mass of the objects and always decreases with the distance between them, always going down by a factor of 4 as the distance doubles. If you didn’t have a prejudice against God as Creator, and tried to explain gravity patterns on the basis of any other theory of how the universe started, why would you expect objects to always fall? Why wouldn’t stuff fall one day and rise another? This is what I mean by unconscious presuppositions.

Where would order have come from? Can order come from randomness? Stephen Hawking asked these questions “Does it require a Creator to decree how the universe began? Or is the initial state of the universe, determined by a law of science?” in his lecture The Origin of the Universe.origin He proposes a theory of creation of the universe which you can read at that link, and goes on to say about it, “This would remove the age-old objection to the universe having a beginning; that it would be a place where the normal laws broke down. The beginning of the universe would be governed by the laws of science.” It isn’t his theory that demonstrates his anti-Creator bias or the hold his own subconscious presuppositions have over him. Read both sentences over. What is the “age-old objection to the universe having a beginning?” Whose objection? Even more to the point–which is the apparent inability of so many experts to question their own presuppositions–if the “laws of science” governed the beginning of the universe, where did these laws of science come from??? Or should I ask “from whom”, since laws presuppose a LAW GIVER!

The central problem with the self-styled experts–including “geniuses” like Hawking–trying to teach the rest of us ethics (and his theories are a form of ethics teaching, hence his “age-old objection” comment) is that they know everything but themselves.

Like trying to walk on a cloud.

Psychologists Julia Shaw and Stephen Porter have succeeded in implanting false memories in about 70% of subjects in an experiment. These were not minor detail alteration false memories nor were the subjects infirm and senile. Rather, the subjects, averaging 20 years of age, confessed to crimes they never actually committed. Most people assume that human memory functions like a camera recording video, which is played back accurately. Not so, according to Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive psychologist at University of California, who has been researching memory for decades. “Remembering is more of a creative process: We shape our impressions from a wide variety of times and places into something that ‘feels’ like a memory.”

“Feels like” is the operant phrase, not only in memory experiments but, more unfortunately, the driving force re-shaping “post modern” reality. According to memory researchers, both imagined and real experiences are stored within the same region of the brain. Therefore we are unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality based solely on the content of a story we remember. All we can do is gauge our memories for plausibility and coherence. In fact Julia Shaw, the aforementioned psychologist, said that “each time you tell a story you change the memory of it. Every memory we have is chock-full of errors. I would even go as far as saying that memory is largely an illusion.”

Unfortunate examples include what are called “false confessions” in criminology. In the United States false confessions play a role in 1 out of 4 wrongful convictions that are overturned by DNA evidence. One very sad example is a man named Damon Thibodeaux. He confessed to a raping and murdering his cousin after being subjected to 9 hours of interrogation and 35 hours without sleep. In truth, he had not committed that crime, yet he really thought that he was confessing to something he did. He ended up spending 16 years on death row in solitary confinement for being released on new DNA evidence. If you find this whole idea fascinating, you can read more here. false memory

My emphasis in this post is on a much larger context. Just as we see those thick cloud formations while flying and they look solid enough to walk on, we function from the assumption that what we remember, and therefore what we feel (since feelings are generated by memories), is real and substantial. This is the basis of all “post-modern” theories and constructs. The post-modern (strictly material and relativistic) worldview is that feelings are superior to facts, especially in the realm of biology! The most pernicious example in my humble opinion is the current fad of “gender identification” (“the heck with X and Y chromosomes, today I feel like a girl”) and the dubious new psychological malady “gender dysphoria.” In post-modern parlance, if you accept your biological sex, you are not normal (there’s no such thing), you are “cis-gender” (??)!

There’s a bit of a problem though. Like trying to walk on a cloud, all this theorizing is based on false impressions–memories and feelings that are as often as not illusory. But the consequences of this foolishness are real. Removal of healthy organs, metabolism-destroying hormones (“puberty blockers” for instance), depression and suicide are some of the tragic effects of the “cloud-walking” feelings-worship. Where will it end? Hatred of your nature is really hatred of the Creator, and worshipping at the altar of your feelings is the worst kind of slavery. Human beings WILL worship….something. The ancient pagans worshipped the sun, the moon, idols of wood and stone, the modern pagans worship their feelings. At least sun, moon, wood and stone have substance. What do feelings have?



Our President is a high school stereotype!

Some people loved high school, some people hated high school, but most of us were high school stereotypes of some sort. My stereotype was the quiet loner who everybody tries to take advantage of–once. With that stereotype, do you think I was in the group that long high school school or hated it? I truly did hate high school, I didn’t fit in with any particular group, and was constantly taking unpopular stands. But love it or hate it, we all had to deal with the high school stereotypes.  There was the bully in two forms–the guy in class who was the biggest,  dumbest, and meanest, who therefore expressed his frustrations by  pushing others around. The second kind of bully was the gym teacher, who was usually also the football coach, who blustered around and made gym class miserable for the rest of us. Those bullies were easy to pick out, but there was another kind that was much more subtle.  There is a kind of bully that we see everyday,  and don’t realize that they are indeed a bully until we look back and see how our behavior was manipulated by them. I’m talking about the prissy High School librarian stereotype.

Our gym teacher/football coach was Ed Veith–the only teacher I had in those 4 years whose name I remember. He was a big and blocky ex-Marine, hair so short it looked shaved (he could have been losing his hair, but eschewed the comb over), his voice was gruff–he was really “rockin” (as they say today) the tough guy stereotype. This was in 1960-1964. The prissy librarian was also rockin’ her stereotype–always shushing people, or glaring when she got hoarse, full of “lessons” and platitudes, knowing everything about books and subjects, less about life (I guess, I really didn’t know her that well). In her own way, she was a bully in her domain, just with a different style than Mr. Veith.

Fast forward to 2018, the U.S. has a President who acts out the stereotype of the high school bully, but more like the class bully than the gym teacher bully. I really recommend he lose the comb over and cut his hair Marine Corps short. Our neighbor to the North, Canada, has a Premier who is more like the prissy librarian, a different kind of bully, laying down platitudes and guilt trips rather than threats and bluster. While it isn’t necessary to be any kind of bully in order to be chief executive of a country, I know which kind I prefer.

Mr. Veith also taught sex education to the men–a common vocation of male gym teachers in those days. His advice was simple and direct, just like my father’s, and as I got older I had a few occasions to see his and my dad’s faces and hear their voices when I was tempted to pressure young ladies into sex. “Men, and I call you that because I expect you to live up to a man’s responsibility, honor women. That means you never force yourself on them, and you make sure never to get a woman pregnant out of wedlock. I don’t mean use condoms, I mean self discipline. Wait until marriage. We’re all starting to hear this idea thrown about–“pro choice”–and you should be pro-choice. Just choose not have sex until you can support your woman. But if you ever get a woman pregnant, make the right choice–marriage. You’ll grow into your responsibility, and that will turn to love.”

I never forgot his advice–I was intimidated by Mr. Veith when in high school but grew to respect his opinion once I was making my own choices. I’m sure the librarian must have had advice too–I just don’t remember a word of it.

Face your enemy.

James 3:14. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 4:1. What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

Your enemy is speaking to you every waking moment, just as mine speaking to me. You know that voice in your head that is incessantly whispering,  sometimes shouting, vile unpleasantness. That’s the voice that drives some people to suicide. It whispers to the jumper, “jump off that bridge, there is no hope for your life to improve.”  If he listens to it, and jumps, the very next thing it always says (when the poor jumper is on the way down) is “you fool, there are plenty of things you could have done to make your life better but now it’s too late.” Jumpers who have survived have reported this.

Jesus said “it isn’t what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, it’s what comes out of the mouth.” Matthew 15:17. “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” You can’t get rid of this enemy–it lodges in your “heart”, which is a metaphor for your mind. You can’t avoid hearing it’s whispers and insinuations, but you can avoid listeningThe enemy tries to show you pictures of what it wants you to do, but you can blur them or gray them out in your mind’s eye. The enemy is incessantly running the movies of your failures, but who is in control of the movie projector? You are! All of which raises the questions:

  • Who is this enemy, and what or who gives the enemy the power over your life?
  • Who are you?
  • Who is in charge of your life?

James referenced the “wisdom from above” and the “earthly, unscriptural, demonic ‘wisdom'”. God rules in heaven, metaphorically “above.” Satan and his demons rules this world–they are your enemy. You don’t believe in Satan and demons? Perhaps you don’t believe in a sovereign God? Who plants the good thoughts and the bad in your heart and mind? You have some decisions to make. Decide to believe God or believe the enemy, or if you insist on a strictly material view of reality, take control of the movie projector of your past. Either way, living in the thrall of depression, grievances, and hatred is mostly a choice of what you are listening to and watching internally.



Why some people can’t accept being forgiven by God.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15. 

So said the apostle Paul, calling himself “foremost” among sinners, even though most of his outward life was a seeking after and suffering for righteousness. Almost no one, reading of Paul’s experiences and exhortations, would consider him even a baby sinner, let alone the worst. What did he understand about himself and about God’s mercy, that the rest of us need to understand?

When I use the word “sinner” in this context, I am not referring to the hurtful words and actions we use against each other. Our transgressions only appear to be against other people, but Paul, and King David, understood that all transgressions are ultimately against…whom? David was a “hero of the faith”, a “man after God’s own heart”, yet he sinned grievously. I am not going to tell the story, but if you want a really juicy tale of adultery and murder, read it here.David and Bathsheba

God sent a prophet to David to confront him about his sins. It would be rare indeed if a king listened to a prophet, but David was not any old king. (The following story will make a lot more sense if you read the account at the link, above). 2 Samuel 12: 1-7. And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”  Nathan went on to describe the various punishments that the Lord would levy against David and his family, including the death of his son about to be born, and the rebellion within his own household. What was David’s response to this accusation, and the prophecy of the disasters that would be fall him? He responded “I have sinned against the Lord.” But even then, he knew that God would forgive his grievous sins. If you are reading this and can’t accept that your sins can be totally forgiven, you may fall into one of these two categories.

1. I don’t need to be forgiven, because there is no God to forgive me, or sin doesn’t exist, it’s just illusion or fear or ignorance, or there is nothing but the material world.

2. I don’t deserve to be forgiven, because what I did was too terrible, or I am too bad a person for God to love, or I haven’t repented or done enough to be forgiven.