sunset cross

 "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and each person was judged according to what they had done.  Whoever was not found in the Book of Life was cast (to throw or hurl; flung). . ."          

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Mission statement
Introduction
Spiritual Red Cross
The opioid crisis
Debasing Islam
Deriding Jews, and others
Abused and neglected children
Immigrant children
Indifference to a church
Restoring a heart
Yankee imperialism
So is God dead
Second death
A church mess
July 4
Founding Fathers
In God We Trust
National Day of Prayer
American Civil Religion
The hate of the world
An American spirit
Disembowelments
Video games
Flight 93
We need new dreams
Despair
Height
Cataclysmic events
Global warming
Electromagnetic pulse
400 years
Worldwide persecution
Death as a shift
Second death, revisited
Consciousness after death
Near-death experience
An atheist and scammer
Other monuments
Lost and found
Purgatory
Balance
A mother
Marriage
Games of the church
Jesus' response
Satanic cursing
Cross and outbuildings
Online cross
PTL
Mt. Rushmore
A power to heal
Post-traumatic stress
Military suicide
A solution
Civilian suicide
A horse
Feeding the children
Martian water
Images
Idols
Cults
A physical cross
Extreme church games
Avoiding church
An idea
The Mote and the Beam
A collapse
Trauma-based mind control
Occultism and paganism
Molesting children and gay sex
Guam and the lower forty-eight
The nuns
The Cardinal
Religious trauma syndrome
Touch not the Lord's anointed
Trust
What is to come
Horror stories of abuse
I Corinthians 5:5
A church scam
Leaving the fold
Fallen shepherds
Demons in a church
Scattered sheep
Another Jesus
Neo-Nazism in church
The rape of the poor
American arrogance
American exceptionalism
Pax Americana
A school
Online education
Spiritual but not religious people
Jacob and Esau
The Qur'an
Hindus
A dilemma of Krishna
Other appearances
Buddha
Coming from the east and the west
A rotten system
A new system
A glorious church
Near-death revisited
A rapture myth
A creation myth
Internet cross
Peace in the Middle East
Abortion
Separation of spiritual values and state
Human trafficking
Global migration
Arabs
Crimea
The Russians
Moral crimes against humanity
#MeToo, Russian style
Putin
CIA special ops
Stellar Wind
Shadow Brokers
The Democrats
Neo-McCarthyism
North Korea
China
BRICS
Three dictators plus one
American history
The Big Three in the world today
For God and country
Defying repression
Antimatter warfare
A New World cross
Fundraising
Heaven
Conclusion

 

Mission statementAmerican Cross Global, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, is destroying darkness with a candle.  It is doing an effort to help traumatized (a result of an overwhelming amount of stress, that exceeds one's ability to cope [manage, survive or subsist]) persons who lose "heart" - courage and confidence - from natural and Man-made disasters.  Recovering a sense of optimism (to expect the best possible outcome from any given situation) after a calamity (a momentous tragic event) is important.  This can mean to trust that things will get better no matter how bad they seem, to look for the best aspects of any situation, and a belief that good will triumph over evil.  Trauma becomes hard (lacking the capacity to handle or being overwhelmed) when an unanticipated danger that a person didn't prepare for occurs.  This means someone in a wrong place at a wrong time: survivors of mass shootings, wildfires, hurricanes, or terror bombings - and PTSD veterans.  If a recovery (a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength) of determination and resolve can't take place (a negative situation), it may degenerate (become worse in some way) into self-destructiveness (a person who does things in such a manner that is not in that person's best interests) or survivor guilt (negative feelings caused by the fact that you are still alive after a situation in which other people died).  Or, a person dealing with mental anguish (suffering which includes fright, feelings of distress, anxiety and/or depression) who plans to go out in "a blaze of glory" (to do something very dramatic [sudden and striking] during or at the end of your life which makes you infamous [well known for some bad quality or deed]).  The webpage has 135 topics (160 pages) with twenty-five links (330 pages) to deal with issues using common sense (good sense [a feeling that something is the case] and sound judgment [the ability to access situations or circumstances correctly] in practical matters)/generic (not specific - universal) spirituality.  Solutions are more complex than the political goodwill of sending out "thoughts and prayers".  Getting a life back is a moral right.

heaven's gate

It's not just the United States - there are those who have been adversely affected (injured or impaired) by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, Amazon wildfires, a suicide bombing at an Afghan wedding, Cyclone Fani in India, Sri Lanka hotel/church blasts, a Notre Dame cathedral fire, Venezuelan blackouts, a New Zealand mosque shooting, a Manchester, England concert bombing, Boko Haram kidnappings, a Russian airline bombing in the Sinai desert, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, a Haitian earthquake, an Asian tsunami or refugees globally.  The webpage may be translated into 103 languages.  It can never be enough.  ACG has as a goal to create a monument: a big cross, an "iron angel", in southwestern Kansas.  This might be useful to spiritual but not religious persons, as well as others.  It can encourage faith - being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.  People's lives have been torn to shreds (to be pulled apart or in pieces), and they should have something to help.  

candle heart

 Not to detract (reduce and lessen) from a hardship (severe suffering), but there are other monuments in the middle of nowhere.  1) Crazy Horse Memorial - a huge statue to the Native American chief Crazy Horse in the Black Hills, western South Dakota.  2) White Sands National Monument - a big gypsum dunefield (similar to deserts in Algeria and Australia) in the Chichuahuan Desert, southern New Mexico. 3) Montezuma Castle National Monument - cliff dwellings built and used by the Sinagua people around 800 years ago, in Cocinono National Forest, central Arizona.  4) Ark Encounter - a replica (an exact copy or model) of Noah's Ark completed in 2016, that is 510 feet long/85' wide/51' high near Williamstown, Kentucky.  This is 1,000,000; 500,000; 600,000; 1,000,000 visits/year, respectively.  We want people to visit, so the material on the webpage will be more meaningful for themA purpose of a cross is to inspire a person to recover some heart (courage and confidence).  

The site is located near the geographical center of the lower forty-eight states, near Interstate 40.  People may be inspired, as they interpret a cross in their own way, and could want to see a physical object, even if it's only a virtual tour (a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images).  It can mean a power against evil.  Discovering the power of the cross against unseen evil is penetrating the darkness.  The medal of St. Benedict has this written on the back: "May the cross be my light. Step back, Satan...drink your own poison."  This may suggest different things to different people.  A person might not have the time, the money, or the energy to visit.  But with a professional virtual tour, you can visit the site from your home and possibly buy a cross from the visitor center, if a person wants, online.  This is not to commercialize, but it may give certain ones hope (a feeling that something good will happen).  

We want to raise $250,000 for design work (creating a workable structure) by the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory in Ontario, Canada.  The founder, Dr. Alan G. Davenport, established the application of wind engineering to provide important information to industry for the design of wind effects.  The proposed wind engineering program will include a pressure study to take measurements at approximately 500 points.  The Laboratory has carried out numerous studies on buildings and structures throughout the world.  Results from the study will be put on the webpage in an update.

 

 This is in the "ballpark" (estimate of the scope and range) of what has been raised for a homeless opera singer ($120,000), rebuilding a barn for some milk cows ($132,000), ladders to get over Trump's wall, through RAICES ($160,000), a teacher assaulting a student, in self-defense ($192,000), Aprons for Gloves, providing community outreach in Canada through boxing ($200,000), A Doll Like Me, making dolls to help children "adjust to what felt like an out-of-control situation" ($200,000), saving potcake dogs in the Bahamas ($225,000), Chauncy's Chance, for an African American 16-year-old, and his mom ($342,000), American Gut Project, to create a "map" of human microbiome [genetic material of microbes, microscopic organisms, which live inside a body] ($1,900,000), Native Americans fighting an oil pipeline in North Dakota ($3,000,000), victims of a gay bar shooting ($7,800,000), or funds to build The Wall on the southern border ($25,000,000).  If excess funds are raised for design work, they will be donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital, that deals with childhood cancer.  If you can help, there are PayPal Donate buttons above and below the links in the upper left-hand corner of the webpage.

  heart in hands

A goal is for people's well-being (the state of feeling healthy and happy), so they can believe in themselves (to have faith in yourself and confidence in your own abilities) again. It is necessary to put fresh life into self-esteem (a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value) as soon as possible, after a sudden loss.  When social responsibility (an ethical framework which has an obligation to act in the benefit of society) projects go public, people want transparency (the availability of full information required).  Please feel free to examine and study the material on the webpage, by punching on a topic of interest.  This is not corny - emotional and obvious from having been used too often - rhetoric (writing intended to be effective).  You may return to the table of contents through an icon (an ideogram displayed on a computer screen) of "back to top".  What we are trying to do is help people in despair out of their "pit" (a situation which makes you feel real bad), and allow them to lead a normal, healthy life again.  It's not just saving potcake dogs, building a wall or fighting a pipeline - these are people's lives in the fire (misery due to circumstances beyond one's control).  Four abused and neglected children, twenty veterans and 155 persons addicted to opioids die every day.  When people lose heart, they may turn to drugs, crime or suicide.  

field of remembrance

In March 2019, a 19-year-old graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fl.) ended life, indirectly due to an AR-15.  A few days later, a student at that school did the same.  Parents and organizations came together to discuss "what we can do to help students at MSD cope with trauma and depression (Robert Runcie, superintendent of schools)".  And one day after this, the father of one of the twenty first-grade students killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook School (Newtown, Conn.) shooting, caused his own death.  All within one week, all from suicide.

Society moves on (to stop discussing about a situation, and start a new direction) after a shooting - they didn't.  A woman, who lost part of her leg during the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, underwent surgery in 2019 after being run over while crossing a street.  She posted on social media: "Struck by a car while on a crosswalk.  Thrown into the air and landed, crushing the left side of my body.  Yesterday.  I'm completely broken.  More surgery to come."

A mother, whose 24-year-old daughter was shot with eleven others at a cinema in Aurora, Colo. in 2012 with an AR-15, commented: "When you lose a child violently and publicly, there's an outpouring of support at first.  Once the vigils are over and the media is gone, that's when things get really bad.  The world moves on, and you don't."  A U.S. military operation that led to the death of the Islamic State leader, was named after a deceased female aid worker who was captured and tortured by them.  What about all the people who were victims of ISIS over the years?  Or displaced persons of the California wildfires, with hurricane-force winds.  They could use some inspiration, after the attention fades. 

 Or, a veteran to a VA therapist: "Your tools are broken (methods to get a sense of optimism back which do not work)."  And: "Didn't serve, but my best friend was USAF.  Came back depressed with a drinking problem under age 21, and killed himself a year later."  "I didn't serve, but my brother did - shot himself in the head."  "I've been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD.  I'm almost obsessed (preoccupied or filling the mind) with cleaning.  I hate crowds - the 4th of July is a nightmare."  A good example of it is We Die Young, a 2019 film about a veteran with issues.

And not only them.  After Hurricane Katrina, 50% of people surveyed reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Or, carfentanil, which is 10,000 stronger than morphine.  Drug dealers mix it into such drugs as cocaine and heroin.  Two milligrams is enough to sedate an elephant.  People are dead, and families are broken - disillusioned (a discovery that something is not as good, as one believed it to be) by a "hand of fate (destiny [events that will necessarily happen] not set in stone [no longer changeable])" which can appear anytime from anyplace.  In Chicago, thirty-one people were shot within twelve hours, while at virtually the same time period in Virginia Beach twelve were gunned down in a municipal building.  In Los Angeles - homelessness.  "It's a disgrace (loss of reputation or respect as a result of a dishonorable action). We are not doing anything to alleviate (make less severe) a human tragedy...It is trash.  It is rats. It is unchecked garbage, and people using buckets for bathrooms (Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Association)."

 And on the southern border - "cages".  Alba Macario, 25, of Guatemala said her 2-year-old daughter, Suriana, nearly died while they were detained in a processing facility in Calixico, Calif., for more than a week in May 2019.  "The immigration officials treat people as if they are animals," she said.  "The overwhelming majority of [Central American] children are asylum seekers (persons who are seeking international protection).  They are already fleeing from the worst trauma we can imagine.  To be detained in conditions like this compounds the trauma.  Never before have I seen conditions as degrading (causing a loss of self-respect - humiliating) and inhumane (without compassion for misery or suffering - cruel) as I witnessed in Clint, Texas.  The children were hungry, dirty, sick, scared (Elora Mukherjee, Columbia Law School)."  In British Columbia, Canada, close to the Yukon border, three adult persons - an American, an Australian and a Canadian - were gunned down by teenagers.  A father of one of them said: "A normal child doesn't travel across the country, killing people.  A child in some very serious [emotional] pain does."  And not only that, dismembered human feet keep washing up on beaches in western Canada, due in part to suicides.  This is what happens when people lose heart.

las vegas

On July 28, 2019, Santino Legen, 19, shot and killed three persons - aged 6, 13 and 25 in Gilroy, California.  Big Mike's Gun and Ammo in Fallon, Nevada, who sold the WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle (similar to an AK-47), posted on Facebook: "The shooter in CA, I hope you rot in hell (the relatively minor punishment that will be inflicted on evil guys after the fire goes out).  We pray for the victims."  Six days later, twenty were killed and twenty-six wounded at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso, Texas.  Less than 24 hours after that, nine were killed in Dayton, Ohio, by a man wearing body armor.  Less than a month later, in and around Odessa, Texas, seven were killed - twenty-one wounded, in a drive-by shooting spree (a type of assault that usually involves the perpetrator firing a weapon from within a motor vehicle and then fleeing).  "Say a prayer. This is incomprehensible evil (The Blaze)."  When does it stop? 

sunset cross

 From a mother about her very young child who was wounded in the Odessa drive-by: "She is alive and that is a prayer bigger than any I've ever had to pray - when others today are not alive. I ask you to continue to pray for our hearts as we experience this."  Collins Dictionary defines young adults as being "less resilient (a person's mental capacity to recover quickly from adversity) and more prone to taking offence (to become angry or upset by what another person has done) than previous generations".  It may answer why these things happen.  "There are increasingly violent video games that feed the isolation, growing nihilism (a belief that all values are baseless and that life is meaningless) and misogyny (entrenched prejudice against females) in these sad, angry, mentally disturbed boys who nonetheless pass their background checks, buy their guns and make the news (Chicago Tribune, August 7, 2019)."  They have no desire for heaven's gates, when they are dead. 

 After the shooting May 31, 2019 in Virginia Beach, the husband of one of the women killed said his life has been "a living hell". "My kids go to bed every night crying for their mom. Every night."  To have a webpage for the greater good (actively participating with accountability in the positive growth of social and political change) and a cross as a symbol of a better life may help a person, whose life has been a waking nightmare, feel encouraged (uplifted and inspired to motivate) and optimistic again.  A man who lost a friend in the Las Vegas shooting: "Appreciate life and cherish those you have around you. You never know what's going to happen."  A 14-year-old boy, who lost five friends in Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas: "You can't just sit down and cry about it." 

 There are thousands of persons in these, or similar, situations - whose spirit has been wounded by a natural or Man-made albatross around the neck.  Showing kindness to another person is an action (a source of strength) whose purpose is to improve well-being (good fortune, health and happiness).  Changing a future outcome is what $20, $30 or $50 given may possibly do.  The hope is, people will make small changes, and ultimately create a big change in their lives.  The future depends on choices - forget how a person feels, remember what they deserve - a decent life (having a close, loving family and friends; good health; work that you enjoy or at least pays the bills; good food and a warm home). 

             How do you want to be remembered? 
  For your passion or your faith?
            How do you want to be remembered?
    For your actions or your words?
            How do you want to be remembered?
 For your silence or your voice?

                                                                       B'Boss

back to top
               

Introduction.  There are well over 10,000,000 people in the United States who have been traumatized from a situation sometime in their lives.  The strong survive, the weak fall apart (to lose one's ability to handle things).  ACG's goal is to be able to help thousands, in time.  When natural and Man-made disasters happen, there is always an outpouring of care and concern (a matter that engages a person's attention) for approximately thirty to sixty days.  This was created, so when this ends, there is something to help.  Over $25,000,000 has been donated to build a wall on the southern border to keep immigrant persons out of America.  The purpose of the project is to aid (to provide support for, or relief to) traumatized persons in America. 

 

The idea (the aim or purpose) is to build a 313 meter (1027 foot), mirror-finish, stainless-steel cross near Mt. Jesus in southwestern Kansas - to help people get heart back.  It is to be 50 meters (164 feet) wide, 30 meters (98 feet) deep.  This is not too much different in style (method, approach or system) and in concept (organized around a main idea or theme) from the Crazy Horse Memorial - a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills, S.D.  It depicts (to show via [by means of] a sculpture) the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing off into the distance (to a place that it very far from where you are).  The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, roughly 27 km (17 miles) from Mt. Rushmore.  The sculpture's dimensions are to be 195 meters (641 feet) long and 172 meters (563 feet) high.  The arm of Crazy Horse will be 80 meters (262 feet) long and the head 27 meters (87 feet) high. 

head

"The people in this room come from many, many backgrounds.  You represent so many religions and so many views.  But we are united (to come together to form a single unit) by our faith in our Creator and our firm knowledge that we are all equal in His eyes.  We are not just flesh and bone and blood.  We are human beings, with souls (an immaterial essence - President Trump, 2017 National Prayer Breakfast)."  American Cross Global understands that some persons may consider a 313 meter cross to be an anomaly (something that deviates [departs from an established course]).  However, given the many tens of thousands of people who wallow in despair (feel rotten or wretchedly bad inside), a radical departure (favoring or tending to produce extreme or fundamental changes) from the norm (the usual, typical or standard) is a necessity (being indispensible [essential, crucial or vital]).  The cross is big, because America has big problems that are not being addressed (acknowledged or focused on), at all.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead comments: "Be not fond (feeling or showing love) of the dull, smoke-colored light from hell," but to prefer "the clear light of ultimate (greatest or most extreme) reality." 

The Book of Revelation says: "A great sea of humanity from all nations, ethnic groups and languages were standing [in paradise]."  A great sea of humanity may refer to such groups as the ancient Egyptians under the Pharaohs, Native Americans before Columbus, Mongols during the reign of Genghis Khan.  A 21st version (interpretation, rendition, account) of "all nations, ethnic groups and languages" could be "all nationalities, belief systems and cultures".  A belief system is an ideology (set of opinions) or set of principles (guide for behavior) which helps us interpret (explain the meaning of) everyday reality (the state of things as they actually exist).  There is a social demand (an aggregated result of individual decisions as a consequence of psychological distress) for organizations such as ACG, as the church is not doing its job - so people look for alternatives (available as another possibility).  In the future, such new organizations will be independent, and may be at odds (at cross purposes [having different aims from one another]) with institutional religion (belief systems and rituals systematically arranged and formally established).  Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Research and Religion Institute, said this: "The country has crossed the threshold (the point or level at which something begins or changes) from majority white Christian to minority white Christian.  The median age (meaning half the people are younger, and half are older) of white evangelical Protestants is now 55, and the median age of religiously unaffiliated Americans is 37.  While 26% of seniors (elderly persons) are white evangelicals, only 8% younger than 30 claim this identity."  This is due, in part, to religious hypocrisy (using wealth and power for unholy deeds [diabolical sorcerers under the influence of devils]).  "When I see news (a report of recent events) about ministers buying their wife a Lamborghini (an Italian brand and manufacturer of luxury sports cars) for their birthday, I always wonder - when did they become so clueless (having no knowledge, understanding or ability)?"  This from Danny McBride, a star in the HBO comedy Righteous Gemstones

"Christendom (a part of the world in which Christianity prevails) has its own shameful record (a loss of respect, honor or esteem) too - crusades (medieval military expeditions) by so-called Christian nations against infidels (one who is not a Christian, or opposes Christianity), and myriad (an extremely great number of) burnings and torturings (inflict severe pain on) of supposed heretics (persons who differ in opinion from established religious dogma [principles laid down by an authority as true]), all of it in plain defiance (daring or bold resistance) of Christ's own prohibition (the action of officially not allowing) on the use of violence (The Definition of Christianity, David Gooding and John Lennox)."  As will be shown, not too much has changed between then and now.  This means, in this day and age (this present time), to go on the hunt (searching) for the prey (a living creature being pursued with hostility).  You find your victim, and annihilate (obliterate, decimate, eradicate, smash, crush or beat) him/her.  However, Jesus stated: "Grievous distress to you - religious leaders, hypocrites (those who wear a mask [changing their behavior - refers to hiding your true self] and play a role [pretending to be something other than what you really are]), for you shall receive the greater damnation (a place below hell reserved particularly for them)."  More people, in the 21st century, have an interest in spirituality, not organized religion.  The web page attempts to address (deal with or comment on) a phenomena (facts, occurrences or circumstances observed).  Individuals will be judged on a basis (a moral test) of their desire to connect to the Unseen.  "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy (that is, Revelation), God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the Holy City (from Revelation)."  This is one book in the Holy Writ (a book made up of the writings accepted by Christians) that the church should not amuse themselves with.  Twisting it (to alter the meaning thereof) to an individual's own ends (having motives and reasons for doing so), just cuts you out (a removal) of paradise when you die.  The "all nations, ethnic groups and languages" concept (principal or idea) comes out of that Book - Revelation.  People such as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte say: "Who is this stupid God?"  Not a good choice, to play games with "eyes as a flame of fire...clothes dipped (covered or saturated [thoroughly soaked]) in blood...voice as the sound of an ocean". 

One of Meghan Markle's (the wife of British Prince Harry) friends gave an interview to People in January 2019.  "If people knew how spiritual she is and how serious and respectful she takes her relationship with God - she really lives in the current moment (a point between the past and the future)."  An anonymous woman: "How do you say no to God?"  Some may choose to taunt (a remark made in order to provoke) an Entity of Light, some do not.  Concerning Revelation, there is no other book in the Bible, or any other sacred writing (religious text) for that matter, which makes such a direct threat (significant risk of substantial harm).  A message of the cross is peace on earth, goodwill (kindly concern, interest or support) toward humanity.  If it can inspire people to come out of a rut (a boring routine) and accomplish something good with your life, then that might create another way of doing things.  To put "peace on earth, goodwill to humanity" in the words of the Chinese: "Mankind will move closer to a community of common destiny (President Xi Jinping, Belt and Road Forum, May 14, 2017)."  A root meaning of America is ever-powerful in battle.  This refers to the spirit of the God of the universe in the book of Revelation.  The name of the cross tells a story.  The country was founded at Jamestown (1607) and Plymouth (1620).  From Jamestown, capitalists of the Virginia Company in London expected a return from an investment.  They requested that the colonists send material goods to pay for the cost of the voyage...and gold.  Plymouth was founded by Puritans, who broke away from the Church of England, thinking the church wasn't done with the Protestant Reformation.  They were dedicated to spiritual values.  "When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed.  When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our Creator four timesThat is why our elected officials put their hands on the Bible and say, 'So help me God', as they take the oath (solemn promise) of office (President Trump, Liberty University commencement speech, May 13, 2017)."  America is unique in that it is the only nation on earth half-established on spirituality.  A cross suggests a second half of the roots (the basic cause, source or origin of something).  A mission is to help people all over the known world to connect to the spirit of the God of the universe. 

When Columbus discovered North and South America in 1492, he found things that made him come back over and over again.  He found gold (a yellow malleable ductile metallic element), and this Entity (self-contained existence): "The Great Spirit, called Wakan Tanka among the Sioux, and Gitche Manitou in Algonquian, is a conception (sum of a person's ideas and beliefs) of universal spiritual force, or supreme being (Wikipedia)."  "The Great Spirit is a beautiful example of a belief in an active, personal Deity that is intertwined (become very closely involved) with the fabric (basic structure of something) of the Universe itself on the large scale and yet is personally engaged (taking part in something) with the web (complicated arrangement of things) of living things and the world on an earthly scale (www.phy.duke.edu)."  "The Great Spirit is the supreme being and principal deity of Native American Indians.  The Great Spirit is the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and all powerful originator (to begin to exist) and ruler of the universe.  The Great Spirit was perceived (to become aware of) as the divine power that created the world (www.warpaths2peacepipes.com)."  Columbus found a definite spiritual force that has been here God only knows how long.  Red Jacket, a Native American chief, spoke of it back in 1805.  "It was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day.  He orders all things, and has given us a fine day for our council.  He has taken His garment from before the sun, and caused it to shine with brightness upon us (www.bartleby.com)." 

From this came the American Indian Commandments.  "Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon (on a thing that has been mentioned) with respect.  Remain close to the Great Spirit.  Show great respect for your fellow beings.  Work together for the benefit of all mankind (humanity).  Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.  Do what you know to be right.  Look after the well-being of mind and body.  Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.  Be truthful and honest at all times.  Take full responsibility for your actions (www.home.earthlink.net)."  In the early 1800s, Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, organized Native American tribes into a confederation (a group of people joined together) to keep white (Caucasian) settlers from taking more Indian lands.  "Sell a country?  Why not the sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth.  Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of His children.  How can we have confidence in the white people?  When Jesus Christ came upon the earth you killed Him and nailed Him to the cross.  You thought He was dead, and you were mistaken (to make a bad judgment - www.phschool.com)."  President Trump said this, in his Proclamation on October 9, 2017.  "Therefore, on Columbus Day, we honor (treat with admiration and respect) the skilled navigator (a person who finds out how to get to a place) and man of faith (a spiritually oriented person), whose courageous feat (an exemplary, even bold achievement) brought together continents (great divisions of land, of the Earth) and has inspired (to be outstanding or brilliant) countless others to pursue their dreams (goals and lifelong plans) and convictions (fixed or firm beliefs) - even in the face (an interjection commonly used after a person has been insulted) of extreme doubt (a state of affairs giving rise to uncertainty) and tremendous adversity (a condition marked by misfortune, calamity or distress)."  This causes some in the Middle East to accuse America of being the Great Satan, but perhaps they only mock America's spiritual heritage (a person who learns how to use an essential life force). 

 columbus

America, today, is muddled (caught up) in materialism, and wallows (to roll about in deep mud) in an dearth (lack) of spiritual sufficiency (enough for a particular purpose).  "As America has grown more diverse (a great deal of variety), more secular (denoting attitudes, activities or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis) and more polarized (to separate into opposing groups), its moral compass (in reference to a person's ability to judge what is right and wrong) has become harder to tune (adjust) to a true north (navigating), with no particular voice (people to express themselves) emerging as a moral authority (premised on principles which are independent of written laws - U.S.A. Today, May 22, 2018)."  Wikipedia defines hope as "an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life".  The cross is called American, as a first reason, because immigrants came here a century ago for a second chance, "an expectation of positive outcomes".  It is a 21st century cross for 21st century calamities (any great misfortune, or cause of misery) - a message of hope for those traumatized by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, the 2019 mass shootings, 2019 Libyan murder, torture and rape of migrants, Cyclone Fani in India, the Sri Lanka hotel/church bombings, the Venezuelan blackouts, the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings, the Pittsburgh, Penn. synagogue shooting, the 2018 Florida and Texas school shootings, the 2017-2018 California wildfires, the Egyptian church shooting/bombing, the Somalian truck bombing, the Las Vegas, Nevada concert shooting, the Mexican earthquakes, the 2017 hurricanes - Harvey, Irma and Maria, the 2016-2017 Spanish, American, British, German and French vehicle attacks, the 2017, 2010 and 2004 Russian subway bombings, the 2012-2016 siege of Aleppo, Syria, with summary executions of civilians amid barrel bombs, Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean, the Baghdad, Iraq truck bombing, the Istanbul, Turkey airport bombing, the Orlando, Fl. nightclub shooting, the Brussels, Belgium terror attack, the San Bernardino, Calif. shooting, the Paris, France terror attack, the Russian airline bombing in the Sinai, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Moore, Okla. tornado, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook, Conn. school shooting, the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting, the Joplin, Mo. tornado, the Japanese earthquake, the Tucson, Ariz. shooting, the Haitian earthquake, the Mumbai, India hotel bombing, the Virginia Tech school shooting, the Amman, Jordan hotel bombing, Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf coast, the London, England train/bus bombing, the Asian tsunami, the Madrid, Spain train bombing, the 9/11 terror attack and other troubles. 

 People may think, "God isn't fixing this (Daily News, December 3, 2015)."  If you don't want Him to, He won't.  Some may wonder, how is this part of His plan?  Or how it part of any plan?  Nevertheless, things can turn out right, in the end (when everything is taken into consideration).  "In Santa Fe (Texas), a close-knit (a group of people bound together by strong relationships and common interests) town of 13,000, everyone was touched (emotionally stirred), in some way, by the [school] shooting - and everyone seemed moved to help (influenced to do something).  In the days immediately after, there were public vigils (a period of time when a group stays in a place and quietly waits) and prayer services, human barricades to shield (a line of people placed) the families and students from the media onslaught (barrage of communication), barbeque dinners and bake sales to raise money for victims.  Then, just as with a family in mourning, schisms began to emerge (a split of a group into different sections as a result of a difference in beliefs).  School board meetings grew heated (lively discussion and debate).  Facebook groups were created, then dissolved (degenerated) into arguments.  A few voices called for gun control, but many more maintained that guns were not to blame.  It was as Christine Hunschofsky, the mayor of Parkland, Florida, had warned Santa Fe Mayor Jason Tabor.  At first, the entire community will come together, she said, repeating what the mother of a boy killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, had told her.  'Then a tsunami (an occurrence in an overwhelming quantity) will hit your city, and people will become divided over everything (separated by different opinions - in a state of disagreement).' (U.S.A. Today, October 26, 2018)"  "We're having a master class (given by an expert to highly talented students) on hate because we've no choice - it has moved from the part of our character we work hardest to suppress (conceal, restrain, stifle or smother) to the part we can least afford to ignore (Nancy Gibbs, former editor-in-chief of Time, November 12, 2018)."  So then maybe build a monolithic (it's big, and made of one thing) cross - so that love (action, confidence and decision making) might replace hate (despair and self-pity). 

People can have a restoration (a bringing back to a former position or condition) of the heart (a center of human emotion).  This means to feel encouraged (heartened, cheered up, uplifted, inspired or motivated) and optimistic (disposed to take a favorable view of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome), again.  The Book says: "If you can believe (being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see) - all things are possible to him, or her, who believes."  The attitude (viewpoint, outlook or perspective) can be: "We're not going to look back (think of the past), we're going to look forward (think of the future).  We're not going to live in the shadow (ominous [giving the impression that something bad is going to happen] sadness or gloom [lowness of spirits]) of misery (heartbreak, despair or despondency) any longer (a thing that was once true or possible, is not now true or possible)."  Then persons can "keep being the rebels the world doesn't know it needs" - Samuel L. Jackson, XXX.  On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria tore through (ripped apart) Puerto Rico.  Two months later, half of the island had no electricity and about 10% were without clean running water.  "People are extremely vulnerable (capable of being emotionally wounded) right now (Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University)."  "If you don't get a grip (make an effort to control your emotions and behave more calmly) on acute stress (it comes from demands and pressures from the recent past, and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future), that could spiral (show a continuous and dramatic increase) into other things that could become potentially incapacitating (depriving of strength or power).  We need to have a way to help these people regain (recoup, retrieve and reclaim) some hope (Kenira Thompson, vice-president of research at Ponce [Puerto Rico] Health Sciences University)."  Then these persons, when they recover (return to a normal state of health, mind or strength), may say to those who do not care (feel concern or interest) about making this world into a better place: "I have a dream.  And you, have you never had a dream?  I don't think so."

"It has become a waking national nightmare (a feeling of helplessness, extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.), a recurring horror (a series of nightmares, with a recurring [the same thing, over and over again] theme) that we can't explain or defend but that we are condemned to repeat.  We know it will happen again.  We seem helpless to stop it.  The latest nightmare began on May 18 with the news - there had been another school shooting...As head of seventeen intelligence agencies, including the CIA, NSA, FBI and multiple military intelligence arms (a military discipline that uses information collection and analysis approaches), [Dan] Coats oversees (supervises and manages) everything from domestic counterterrorism (activities designed to prevent or thwart terrorist acts) to foiling foreign espionage (the practice of spying) plots (Time, June 4, 2018)."  This is where Americans in general (as a whole) need to put a foot down (use your authority to stop something from happening).  These agencies have an annual budget, altogether, of $70 billion, and collect, through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, over 250,000,000 phone, email and other electronic communications each year.  The United States is not helpless, people just play too many games.  If these intelligence services would ever get their heads out of the sand (you have to start paying more attention to what's going on around you), they could cut these shootings down to a minimum (as low as possible).  If they would, maybe something like this would not happen again.  "Stephen Paddock, 64 (years-old), who smashed the windows of his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino suite and trained an assault-style semi-automatic weapon on the helpless souls four football fields away, broke another dismal record (bleak, dreary and gloomy documentation) for American murder.  At least fifty-eight dead at least 527 wounded, by a man who, for no immediately discernible (able to be seen, recognized or understood) reason, lugged (carry or drag with great effort) twenty-three weapons into his high-roller suite (a set of rooms in a hotel for a gambler who consistently wagers large amounts of money) and then rained (to fall in a large amount) hundreds upon hundreds of bullets into a tightly packed (pressed or arranged closely together) crowd (Time, October 16, 2017)." 

"It started Oct. 24 (2018).  Gregory Bush, 51, having failed to get into a black church outside Louisville, Kentucky, went to a Kroger (a very large U.S. group of grocery stores).  Telling a bystander (a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part) that 'whites don't shoot whites', he killed two black shoppers in cold blood (to kill in such a way that seems especially cruel because it seems to show no emotion), according to police.  Two days later, Cesar Sayoc, 56, was accused of mailing pipe bombs (an explosive made by filling 3/4 inch by 6 inch pipes with gun powder) to a number of President Donald Trump's political critics.  The next day, Robert Bowers, 46, invaded a Pittsburgh synagogue, shouted, 'All Jews must die!' and shot eleven people to death, authorities said.  Finally, on Nov. 2, Scott Beierle, 40, shot two women to death in a Tallahassee, Florida, yoga studio, then killed himself.  This type of hate criminal (a prejudice-motivated [wholly or partly created by hatred towards a person] crime which occurs when a perpetrator [a person who carries a harmful, illegal or immoral act] targets a victim) differs from one on which criminologists (the scientific study of crime as a social phenomenon, of criminals, and of penal treatment) focused (center of interest or activity) in the late 20th century - weekend haters - groups of young men who got their kicks (doing something for fun) and cemented their bond (a close connection joining two or more people, unlikely to change) by beating up a member of a minority group or defacing (mar [ruin or diminish] the appearance of) a synagogue or other symbol of perceived 'otherness' (the quality or fact of being different).  Since 9/11 and the rise of the internet, they've been supplanted (superseded and replaced) by a hateful new man.  He is more ideological, more committed and ultimately (finally, in the end) more violent (U.S.A. Today, December 28, 2018)."  According to the Secret Service: "Because these acts are usually planned over a period of time, and the attackers often elicit concern (call forth or draw out that which engages a person's attention) from the people around them, there exists an opportunity to stop these incidents before they occur." 

More people are willing to commit mass murder to express their anger at the world, because 1} you're always cranky [ill-tempered and irritable], 2} you question everything, 3} you think that society is messed up, 4} you feel like you deserve better than the crappy hand [to receive disadvantages and negative circumstances that are beyond one's control in life] that was given to you, 5} you're against almost everything and everyone, 6} you feel like the world should revolve around you, and 7} you feel so alone.  This adds insult to injury (when you feel that someone has made a bad situation worse) - society's perceived slights (when a person feels they are being neglected by another person, treated with indifference, ignored and/or snubbed [to insult someone by not giving them any attention or treating them as if they are not important]).   Connecting (bring together or into contact so that a real or notional [the nature of an idea] link is established) to the Unseen, in this case (when that is considered), is mandatory (required by a law or rule).  Recovering courage (strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger) and confidence (a feeling or belief that you can do well) after tragedy (human suffering) is important.  At the Borderline, a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., twelve were killed on November 7, 2018.  Adam Housley, a former Fox News correspondent (one who contributes news or commentary), lost a niece in the shooting.   He requested of his nearly 100,000 Twitter followers: "Please pray if you believe...pray." And then came the wildfire within 24 hours. "Thousand Oaks is grappling (wrestling, struggling and tussling [do something quickly and with vigor]) with dual tragedies that struck within hours of each other, taking on more trauma and grief than a place could or should bear.  After the shooting at Borderline, many residents said they stayed up late, waiting to hear news. They went to bed physically and emotionally exhausted Thursday, only to be waked in the middle of the night by the blare (a loud, harsh sound) of emergency alerts from their phones and frantic knocks (almost out of control because of extreme emotion) at the door from neighbors. They needed to get out, they were told (Chicago Tribune, November 10, 2018)." 

Rob Lowe posted (a piece of writing, image or other item published) a picture on Twitter with this caption (a title or brief explanation), as the fire drew close (became closer in time or space) to a market.  "The market in my old neighborhood of Port Dume in Malibu (Calif.).  God help them."  Alyssa Milano, a Hollywood actress lately known for her #MeToo activism (vigorous campaigning to bring about social change), posted this.  "I just had to evacuate (remove from a place of danger to a safe place) my home from the fires.  I took my kids, dogs, computer and my Doc Marten boots."  And Kim Kardashian put this on Instagram.  "Pray for Calabasas (a community near Malibu).  Just landed back home and I had one hour to pack up (gather belongings and be done with it) and evacuate our home.  I pray everyone is safe."  Silas Lyons grew up (had his childhood) in northern California.  "Climate change, which doesn't care (feel concern or interest) whether you believe in it or not, provided the final spark (to ignite - worse than the electrifying seventh installment of the New York Times bestselling series).  Combine historic droughts and heat waves (excessively hot weather) with the dense fuels (worse than liquid hydrocarbons) and an inopportune (occurring at an inconvenient or inappropriate time) wind, and you don't get fires.  You get explosions (an expansion in which energy is transmitted outward).  You get phenomena (extraordinary occurrences) that are behaviorally identical (the manner in which something functions or operates, which is very similar) to tornadoes.  These days in America, it seems like everyone's on Team Red (Republicans) or Team Blue (Democrats).  But last week, fire burned the homes of rich liberals in Malibu and poor white folks (unsophisticated or disadvantaged Caucasians) in Paradise (Calif.)."  Maybe the spirit of the God of the universe might just drop in (to visit informally, without having it being arranged) and comfort (ease the grief or distress of - console [alleviate or lessen sorrow]) people.

This not only affects (makes a difference to) the United States, but is global in nature (the inherent character).  The Middle East: "December 2017.  An ISIS gunman kills nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.  The [Egyptian] interior ministry says he was armed with an assault rifle, one hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition and a bomb he intended to set off at the church (news24, November 3, 2018)."  South America: "Brazil firefighters and Israeli rescue workers poked (jab or prod) sticks into treacherous (hazardous because of hidden or unpredictable dangers) mud Monday (January 28) looking for bodies as pressure mounted (things that cause problems or trouble) on the mining company responsible for the dam that burst (break suddenly and violently apart) and spilled a flood of iron ore waste (waterborne refuse material pumped into a tailing pond).  Officials said the death toll (people who die in an accident, disaster, war, etc.) was expected to grow exponentially (becoming more and more rapid), since no one had been rescued alive since Saturday.  Teams focused (center of interest or activity) their searches Monday morning in areas where a bus was immersed (dipped or submerged in a liquid) and where many workers were eating lunch at the mine cafeteria when the dam ruptured (broke apart).  A Catholic priest for a church now being used as a command center (centralized command for some purpose) for rescuers (persons who save from a dangerous or difficult situation) said many of his parishioners are believed buried (completely covered) in mud.  'It's going to be difficult to rebuild our hearts,' said the priest, Rene Lopez.  'This won't take a month or a year.  It's an open wound (an injury) for all the people of Brumadinho.' (ABC News, January 28, 2019)." 

People may lose a sense of optimism due to bad economic circumstances.  "The first time I couldn't buy food at the grocery store, I was 15-years-old.  It was 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela, and I had spent more than an hour in line (in a row waiting to proceed).  When I got to the register (a business machine that usually has a cash drawer), I noticed I had forgotten my ID that day.  Without it, the rationing system (controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods or services) would not let the supermarket sell my family the full quota (a limited number or quantity) of food.  It was four days until the government allowed me to buy more.  This was fairly normal.  All my life, I lived under socialism in Venezuela until I came to the United States as a student in 2016.  Because of price controls (government regulation establishing the maximum price to be charged) and the nationalization (transfer from private to state [government] ownership or control) of important industries, production fell (become less in number).  And the shortages (lack, scarceness and undersupply) went far beyond the supermarket.  My family and I suffered from blackouts (failure of electrical power supply).  The regime nationalized electricity in 2007, resulting in underinvestment (a situation in which a company refuses to make low-risk [likely to be successful] investments) in the electrical grid (a network of electrical transmission lines connecting a multiplicity [a large number] of generating stations to loads [amount of electrical power that is supplied] over a wide area).  By 2016, my home lost power roughly once a week (Daniel Di Martino, a student at Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indiana)."  And in Maracaibo: "Thieves have broken into some of the vaults and coffins in El Cuadrado cemetery since late last year, stealing ornaments and sometimes items from corpses.  Some of the most acute misery plays out every day on the streets of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second-largest city and a hub of the once-booming oil industry.  It was here in March that residents, seemingly driven to desperation by nationwide power blackouts, looted and destroyed hundreds of buildings and businesses.  The destruction in Maracaibo, where blackouts were the norm long before March, defied easy understanding.  The fittings of a hotel were torn out or just torn to shreds, leaving the structure littered with debris in an image reminiscent of wartime (Associated Press, June 18, 2019)."

Oceania: On March 15, 2019 there was a mass shooting by a white supremacist (the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races) at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand with fifty dead.  "Immediately after Friday's attacks in Christchurch, the Te Atatu Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand announced on Facebook it was opening its doors (allow entrance, access, and admission) to Muslims because mosques had been closed (for security reasons).  'Tonight we will open up The Meeting Place from 7pm to 8pm for prayer for Christchurch.  Come and light a candle, say a silent prayer and stand with our fellow kiwis (New Zealanders).  All welcome,' the post said.  'We especially (very much) invite the Muslim community whose mosques have been closed, to come and join us tonight.'  Other landmark churches (a conspicuous object on land that marks a locality) such as St. Paul's Cathedral in London, said it was offering prayers during daily services for those affected by the shootings in New Zealand.  'We pray too for our Muslim friends and neighbors here and around the world,' the church said on Twitter.  People started writing supportive messages (perhaps such words and quotes, as: "it's not the things we cannot control that will define our success") using the hastag #TheyAreUs to signal (transmit information) that Muslims are welcome in New Zealand.  The phrase gained traction (support or interest needed to make progress) after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used the words when discussing the attack on Friday (CNN, March 15, 2019)."  Why are churches in the United States silent (won't speak a word against it)?  Unlike former FBI special agent Erroll G. Southers: "We must treat white supremacy extremism (beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable) with the same aggressiveness (determination and forcefulness) and seriousness (persistence and ernestness) that we have applied to Muslim identity extremism (certain national and ethnic rituals) since 2001."  Getting heart (enthusiasm, keenness, eagerness, spirit, determination, resolution, resolve, purpose, courage, backbone, spine, nerve and will) back in these situations (a combination of surrounding conditions) is priority #1.  

And not only that, we all could use some death insurance, because we never know when our time will come.  "Behold, I ('the Unseen', as each individual fathoms the concept) stand at the door [of your life] and knock.  If any person opens the door, I will come in (connect to you) and stay with you (from Revelation)."  Connecting (to put or bring together so as to form a new and better whole) is not that hard.  No connection, no paradise.   A deception of some in the church is that the Unseen has done everything for them - that they have a get into heaven free card.  It is not the case.  They can go to a church, they can honor the Sacrifice (of the Christ), but it does not matter.  Going into a garage does not make a person a car, and going into a church does not make a person heaven bound (on their way to paradise).  Honoring the Sacrifice is optional, connecting is mandatory (required by a law or rule).  This is why someone who attends a church three times a week can drop into eternal prison, while a Buddhist monk living out in the middle of nowhere in Tibet can go up to paradise, in the end.  In the first instance, the individual didn't "get it" (understand) when it came to connecting.  In the next the individual connected to his/her version of the Unseen, even though the person was ignorant of the Sacrifice.  To those who wish another quote from the Book: "You will find me (the Unseen), when you search for me with all your heart (from Jeremiah)."  So how do you connect - start by asking God to show mercy (lenient or compassionate treatment), because at death's door it is a different game (God loves a cheerful beggar).  And maybe every so often, re-connect with a version of the Unseen, since He will let you into paradise at death.  back to top

Spiritual Red Cross.  A question may be asked as to why a cross would be called American.  There are some reasons on the webpage.  A second reason for the name American is that it is a spiritual Red Cross.  The American Red Cross comes into disaster areas providing food, clothing, shelter.  Their mission statement: "The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates (makes less severe) human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing (prepare and organize for active service) the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors"...to help with flesh (physical) needs.  But what about those whose spirit (the inner quality or nature of a person) has been crushed by a tragedy?  This cause is to help traumatized persons from natural and Man-made disasters who lose "heart" (courage and confidence) to get a sense of optimism back, come out of their pit of despair, and lead a decent life.  A biker (a person who rides a motorbike) whose wife is killed on a motorcycle by a drunk driver, a parent whose young child died in a cancer ward, a homeless veteran, a mother whose child was killed in a school bus accident.  Then there are American police shootings, an Egyptian church bombing, an Iranian train wreck, a New Year's Eve Turkish nightclub shooting, Italian earthquakes, a Christmastime German truck-terror attack, Chinese miner accidents, children wounded in Aleppo, Syria, North African migrants (a person who goes from one place to another to find work) drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.  Persons left alive, and the families of these people, who have been demoralized (to cause someone to lose hope), could get heart back, or it may be harder to pick up the pieces and move on.  Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY concerning Hurricane Sandy: "You see how people's lives have been ripped apart by this force of nature."  President Obama, three days after the Boston bombing: "We come together to pray and mourn and measure our loss."  After the Moore, Okla. tornado, he said: "There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms and bedrooms and classrooms."  And after the Umpqua Community College shootings in Oregon wherein nine died, Obama said the U.S.A. is "the only advanced country on earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months."  A gunman on the rampage (a course of violent, riotous or reckless action or behavior) could be reminded that if he does what he does, God is going to lock him up, forever

After James Alex Fields, Jr. slammed (a heavy blow or impact) his car into a crowd of counter-protesters (protesters who oppose an existing protest), killing one of them, during a white nationalist rally (white supremacists and the alt-right gathering for a common purpose) in Charlottesville, Virginia - President Trump said this on August 14, 2017.  "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious (actions or behaviors that are staggeringly bad - cases involving flagrant violation of human rights) display of hatred, bigotry (intolerance toward those who hold different opinions) and violence.  It has no place in America.  And as I have said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same Almighty God."  On March 22, 2017, Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians (persons walking) on the pavement (areas covered with concrete asphalt, bricks, etc.) along the south side of Westminster Bridge, London, killing four people.  This was regarded as Islamic terrorism, as Masood sent a final text message saying he was waging jihad in revenge for Western (European and American) military action in Muslim countries.  It may have been useful for Trump to have added that the neo-Nazi (Fields) who rammed (force something) his vehicle in Virginia committed an act of domestic (relating to your own country) terrorism.  Fields had written a research paper in high school glorifying (bestowing honor, praise or adoration) Adolph Hitler, as some kind of a savior (a person who saves from danger).  When these disgusting (so bad, unfair or inappropriate that you feel annoyed and angry) things happen, connecting (bringing together or into contact so that a real or notional [based on a suggestion] link is established) to the Ancient of Days may be helpful.  There are other tragedies (very bad events that cause great sadness) closer to home.  Sheryl Sandberg, who is chief operating officer at Facebook, had her fifty-year-old husband die recently due to a heart attack.  She writes, in Option B: "In the early weeks after Dave died, I was shocked - I ran into friends at local parks who talked about the weather.  Yes!  The weather has been weird with all this rain and death.  I thought about carrying around a stuffed elephant, but I wasn't sure that anyone would get the hint (a slight or indirect suggestion).  Until we acknowledge it, the elephant is always there.  By ignoring it, those in pain isolate (to remain alone or apart from others) themselves and those who could offer comfort create distance (to make far off) instead."  She refers to the elephant in the room - meaning, an obvious problem or risk nobody wants to discuss.  Getting heart back, in these situations, is priority #1. 

A definition of heart is that place within a person where feelings or emotions are.  Getting heart back means to have more courage or confidence in a positive outcome of events - to cheer up (cause to feel happier).  People who have lost everything in a natural catastrophe (an event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering) may have the same dilemma (a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice).  When a lawnmower (a machine used for cutting the grass) from the sky struck the tiny island of Barbuda in the Caribbean on September 6, 2017 - Hurricane Irma - people had an experience of loss (physical, emotional, or especially economic harm or damage sustained).  "Barbuda's once charming surrounds (a pleasing and delightful environment) are today ghostly quiet (eerie - strange and frightening silence), the devastated ruins (bring to desolation by violent action) of its colorful homes and the absence of its 1800 residents a galling testimony (a markedly irritating and exasperating statement) to the wrath of Hurricane Irma.  The monster category 5 hurricane which swept through here last Wednesday has transformed the idyllic isle (an island that is picturesque in its natural simplicity) a former haunt (to visit often) of the late Princes Diana - into a ghastly (terrifying horrible), apocalyptic (an event that causes a tremendous amount of damage) scene.  Maurice George, a visual arts (art forms such as ceramics, drawing, painting or sculpture) teacher at Barbuda's secondary school, spoke of his 'horrific' ordeal (a difficult or painful experience causing shock) as Irma unleashed its fury (turn loose unrestrained energy) in the early hours of 6 September.  The 30-year old said he was forced to flee his father's house during the eye of the storm (a calm region at the center of a hurricane) as the winds and rain began to rip off the roof.  'But the hurricane came back while we were on the road.  We had to dodge (elude or evade) wires and lamp posts to get to my cousin's house,' he said (www.independent.co.uk)." 

"The Caribbean is no stranger to hurricanes, and so when Hurricane Irma struck on Tuesday night plenty on the island of Barbuda hunkered down (take shelter) to see it though (do the best that you can do).  Elessa Harris, twenty-two, said she knew this storm was different when she saw her 'roof being lifted up by the winds'.  In panic (a sudden strong feeling of fear) she fled to a neighbors' home as winds of up to 185 miles per hour buffeted (knock or push something roughly from side to side) the eastern Caribbean island.  She emerged (rose or appeared from a safe place) on Wednesday to a changed world - her entire village had been destroyed.  'I have witnessed hurricanes before,' she says.  'But nothing like this.' (Time, September 11, 2017)"  "In an earlier interview Thursday, [Roderick] Faustin (first secretary for the Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, D.C.) told the Times that Irma had caused heavy damage on the tiny island.  'Barbuda is totally destroyed,' he said.  'At least 95% of the properties in Barbuda are either totally destroyed or damaged.'  The school, single hospital and airport, and two hotels on the island of sixty-eight square miles were either damaged or lay in ruins (in a state of destruction), Faustin said.  There is no running water, and telephone service is out after the communications tower was literally snapped (broken under intense pressure) in half (L.A. Times, September 7, 2015)."  There is nothing that building a monolithic (it's big and made of one thing) cross can do as far as physically bringing badly needed supplies to the island, or anywhere else for that matter.  But material items are not the only things people need.  During the Vietnam War, two soldiers were wounded and sent to a base hospital (a military hospital situated at some distance from the area of active operations during a war).  One, who did not have life threatening injuries (injuries involving a substantial risk of death), died.  The other, who was at the point of death (a limit beyond which a specified life form cannot survive), lived.  In that situation, as with anything else, not losing heart can make all the difference in the world (the greatest degree of difference that is possible or conceivable).  "Nothing more beautiful than everyone putting their differences (disagreements or controversies) aside to help humanity in the face of catastrophe (Lady Gaga, October 21, 2017)."  Hopefully, a spiritual Red Cross can help inspire (make someone feel that they want to do something and can do it) people.  Puerto Rico also got hit hard, with almost all electricity knocked out, as well as running water to half the population.  Ramon Rivera, a heavy equipment operator who works for the municipality of Alibonito, and who owns land there, said that he "blamed the island's economic problems on corrupt officials who had enriched themselves on public-works projects, and compared them to Catholic priests who abused their parishioners (The New Yorker, October 18, 2017)." 

October 1, 2017, a gunman (a professional killer) on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel sprayed (firing an automatic firearm towards individuals in long bursts [a firing mode enabling a shooter to fire a predetermined number of rounds, with a single pull of the trigger], without making an effort to line up the shots) the Route 91 Harvest festival with rounds (pieces of ammunition) from various automatic weapons for approximately eight to ten minutes.  More than 22,000 persons were in attendance at the time.  President Trump spoke from the White House on October 2.  "My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief.  Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He brutally (cruelly, violently and completely without feelings) murdered more than fifty people and wounded hundreds more.  It was an act of pure evil.  We ask God to help see you through this very dark period.  Scripture (a passage from the Bible) teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.  In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos (a total lack of organization), some kind of light in the darkness.  The answers do not come easy.  But we can take solace (help and comfort when you are feeling sad or worried) knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated (to help clarify or explain) by a single ray of hope.  We pray (an earnest request or wish) for the day when evil is banished (condemned to exile - sent completely away) and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear."  Daniel Gardner, who teaches communication at Mississippi State said that while most people in the rural South (U.S.) move on (find something new and forget the past) after the 2017 hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, a nuclear faceoff (take up an attitude of confrontation - opposing or challenging) and a mass shooting - the millennials (18-35 years of age) he teaches are different. 

Due to social media (social networking and microblogging through which users create online communities), et.al., they are "easily shaken (psychologically upset) emotionally and prone (more likely to have a particular negative reaction) to be more naive (a lack of experience or knowledge) and gullible (easily deceived)."  They may recover (return to a normal state after a period of difficulty) some heart (have more confidence or courage in a difficult situation, and cheer up), if they would connect (link to a power supply) to the Unseen.  With the carnage (the killing of a large number of people) at a theater in Aurora, Colo., an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., a community center in San Bernardino, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., concert grounds in Las Vegas, Nev., a Texas church sanctuary, a Florida high school on Valentine's Day, a Waffle House near Nashville, Tenn. and a Pennsylvania Jewish synagogue, the one thing they all had in common (sharing the same interests) was the perpetrator's (a person who carries out a harmful, illegal or immoral act) fetish (an unusually strong liking or need for a particular thing) with a military-style rifle - chiefly an AR-15 assault rifle.  The hero who stopped the slaughter (a killing in a cruel or violent way) at the Waffle House was a 29-year-old African American, James Shaw, Jr.  "'I kind of made up my mind, because there was no way to lock that door, that if it was going to come down to it, he was going to have to work to kill me,' said Shaw, an AT&T employee who has a 4-year-old daughter.  Current laws allow just about any deeply disturbed (a very upset emotionally, and often needs special care or treatment) young man to obtain an AR-15 or similar military-style assault rifle (David Waters in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, April 25, 2018)."  Surgeons who treat the wounds call them perfect killing machines.  "It's just a wide path of destruction," said Dr. Ernest Moore, a Denver trauma surgeon and editor of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.  "If you survive an assault rifle injury, the complications (conditions aggravating an existing one) are tremendous, things like the intestines will often leak (an unintended hole through which fluids escape), and you can have all sorts of problems with abdominal (stomach, intestinal, liver and other organ) walls, [or] hernia.  Everything you can fix, can fall apart," said Dr. Peter Rhee, who took care of injured Marines in Iraq and is chief trauma surgeon at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. 

These deranged (unable to think and behave normally) people will watch Hollywood's wonderful (inspiring delight) action movies, wherein the hero (a person admired for brave acts) will track down (find someone after looking for a long time) those he feels he needs to render justice to, and annihilate (complete destruction) in absolute cold-blood (deliberately cruel or callous), with no remorse (deep regret for a wrong committed) whatsoever - and then deceive themselves, after observing Hollywood's finest, into thinking they can do it too.  The question is - does the civilian public (persons not belonging to the armed forces or police) really need to run around town with military-style weapons?  Most of us can watch these movies, enjoying them, and know well not to do these things because we will go to prison for life, at best.  Which brings out Part II.  These individuals who committed these horrendous (extremely bad or unpleasant) crimes had severe mental problems, to the point of being deranged.  Half the problem is getting rid of "Hollywood-style" weapons, and Part II is dealing with sociopaths and psychopaths who manage to get ahold of guns and go on the rampage (a course of violent, riotous or reckless action or behavior).  The general public may have to become more aware (having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact) of strange behavior and report it, before it spirals out of control (changes very quickly, and in an uncontrolled way).  The United States has become very good at disrupting (interrupt the progress of) terrorist plots from Muslim extremists, but what about our own homegrown (belonging to one's own particular country) extremists?  When are Americans going to start exercising the same diligence (earnest and persistent application of effort) on our own people that we wish to apply to Muslims.  "This web of wounded souls (people who lose heart) spans America.  They come from rural outposts (a small community situated in a remote part of a country) and from big cities, from Democratic strongholds (a place where a particular belief is strongly upheld) to the reddest regions (Republican administrative areas) of Trump Country.  They have different religions, income levels and ethnicities.  What they share is the agony that comes with losing a child to gun violence in a place where that child was supposed to be safe.  The reality in America is that there are always more dead kids.  There are always more devastated (to cause severe and overwhelming shock or grief) families. 

"'There are constantly (occurring continuously over a period of time) more people becoming part of this fraternity (a group of people sharing a common interest) nobody wants to join,' says Mary Kay Mace, whose daughter, Ryanne, 19, was shot and killed in 2008 along with four other students at Northern Illinois University.  Mass shootings (firearms-related violence involving four or more people) make headlines (a text indicating the nature of the article below it).  They draw (attract attention or interest) TV trucks and reporters and FBI investigations.  But that attention cuts both ways (something that has two effects - a good and a bad), says Sandy Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter Jessi was shot with eleven others at a cinema in Aurora, Colo., in 2012.  'When you lose a child violently and publicly, there's an outpouring of support at first,' she says.  But that attention fades.  'Once the vigils (prayer services usually held in an evening before a funeral) are over and the media is gone, that's when things get really bad.  The world moves on, and you don't.  You can't.  It's a pain you can't outrun (you can't focus on what you were - what you've went through has shaped you, but it doesn't define you).'  In another part of the country, Mitch and Annika Dworet, whose younger son Alexander was wounded in the Parkland shootings, just endured their first Thanksgiving without Nicholas.  'It's not really like we're thankful,' says Mitch.  'How could you be?'  But in the midst of his mourning, he does what he can to support other struggling initiates of this burdensome, (difficult to carry out or fulfill), blighted (a badly damaged or deteriorated condition) club (Time, December 10, 2018)".  According to the Secret Service: "Because these acts are usually planned over a period of time, and the attackers often elicit concern () of the people around them, there exists an opportunity to stop these incidents () before they occur."  The Secret Service is referring to social responsibility ().  In California, a hotel cook working the Long Beach Marriott was arrested, after a fellow employee told authorities (law enforcement and/or management) that Rodolfo Montoya told him he was going to shoot fellow employees and guests.  This over a work-related human resources issue.  In Florida, a 16-year-old girl was arrested after several parents told authorities she threatened to attack a school.  In Wisconsin, a man was charged with making terrorist threats () after telling a fellow employee he wanted to shoot up the workplace ().  back to top

angel heart

The opioid crisis.  It is the increase of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in the United States and Canada in the 2010s.  Opioids are a diverse (very different) class of fairly strong painkillers, including oxycodone (commonly sold under the trade names OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and a very strong painkiller, fentanyl, which is synthesized (the production of a substance by the union of chemical elements) to be similar to other drugs such as opium-derived morphine and heroin.  What the U.S. Surgeon General has called The Opioid Crisis likely began with over-prescription of opioid pain relievers in the 1990s, which caused them to become the most prescribed (advise and authorize the use of) class of medications in America.  "The opioid epidemic has since emerged (become known or apparent) as one of the worst drug crises (times of difficulty, trouble or danger) in American history.  It has also left thousands of children suddenly in need of foster care (a system in which a minor has been placed into a ward, group home, or private home) after their parents have died from an overdose.  Fentanyl, a newer synthetic opioid painkiller, is fifty to a hundred times more potent than morphine and thirty to fifty times more potent than heroin, with only 2mg (two milligrams or .00007 ounces) becoming a lethal dose.  It is pure, white, odorless and flavorless, with a potency strong enough that police and first responders (some designated or trained to respond to an emergency) helping overdose victims have themselves overdosed by simply touching or inhaling a small amount.  As a result, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has recommended that officers not field test (to test in actual situations) drugs if fentanyl is suspected, but instead collect and send samples to a laboratory for analysis.  'Exposure via inhalation or skin absorption can be deadly,' they state.  The U.S. Attorney for Ohio stated: 'One of the truly terrifying things is the [fentanyl] pills are pressed (apply pressure to flatten, shape or smooth) and dyed to look like oxycodone.  If you are using oxycodone and take fentanyl not knowing it is fentanyl, that is an overdose waiting to happen.  Each of those pills is a potential overdose death.' (Wikipedia)" 

In the past four years, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, have increased more than sevenfold - from 2628 to 20,145 in the year 2016.  This means fifty-five dead per day.  "During 2016, there were more than 63,600 overdose deaths in the United States, including 42,249 that involved an opioid (66.4%).  That's an average of one hundred and fifteen opioid overdose deaths each day (CNN, May 27, 2018)."  The Center for Disease Control estimates overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in 2017.  Time dedicated an entire edition, March 5, 2018 to the crisis.  "The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who fatally (causing death) overdosed (too great a quantity of a drug taken) after years of battling addiction, left behind a family.  'When Phil died four years ago, I was so overwhelmed (to be too much to deal with), vulnerable (capable of being emotionally wounded) and cracked open (cut, penetrated), that anger became my protective shield (an essential function of the psychic apparatus, and the mechanism responsible for it) - the only thing between me and collapse (to fall into a jumbled or flattened mass),' wrote Hoffman's wife, Mimi O'Donnell.  'If there was a terrorist that showed up in Montgomery County today and shot fifty people, or twenty-five or ten for that matter (show that a statement is true in another situation), this community would be in an uproar (outcry, commotion or tumult).  There would be an army here trying to stop it.  That's exactly (precisely) where we are with opioids.  But who's showing up (arriving for an appointment) to stop it?' - Bruce Langos, executive director of the Criminal Intelligence Center at the Montgomery County sheriff's office in Dayton, Ohio. 

"'Dayton is rough.  I've been here for eleven and a half years, and it declined (downhill, slump or plunge).  The poverty level's pretty bad.  But opioids reach (extend to) every part of society - blue-collar (a working class person who performs manual labor), white-collar (work in an office environment, and may involve sitting at a computer or desk), everybody,  It's nonstop (continuous without pausing).  It's every day.  And it doesn't seem like it's getting any better.  You get a thick skin (tough, hardened or hard-boiled) over time - either you get it, or it's going to eat you alive (being completely destroyed) eventually.  You kind of become cold (unemotional or glacial [a person who is icy]) to seeing somebody overdose.  As an officer, you bury it away (hide something, so others cannot find it).  A lot of us do that.  That's how we cope (deal effectively with something difficult).  Your emotional attachment (concern, care and liking) to that person that you don't know is, you don't have one (there isn't any).  It becomes easy to talk about the drug, and not talk about the person, to say, Yeah, just another one.   But seeing the families that are affected (influenced or touched by an external factor), actually seeing them on the scene (someone has become an important part of a situation), trying to care for their loved ones or friends.  And the things that they do to try to revive (restore to life or consciousness) them, and they can't, and they're waiting on us or the medics to get there.  To see that, to see the children involved, the heartache (emotional anguish [severe mental pain]), it's overwhelming (you do not know how to deal with it)' - Walter Bender, Montgomery County deputy sheriff." 

And middle-class kids (privileged children with opportunities).  "The day that news anchor (a person who presents news during a news program) Angela Kennecke found out her daughter died from a fentanyl overdose, she was working on a story (that which informs the public about current events, concerns or ideas) about the opioid epidemic (the misuse and addiction which is now a serious national crisis).  'I got a frantic (almost out of control because of extreme emotion - wild or distraught with fear or anxiety) call from her dad, saying, I think Emily's OD'd (overdosed).  You need to get over here right now.  I can't even describe to you what it's like to hear those words,' Kennecke said.  Kennecke, an investigative reporter with South Dakota CBS affiliate KELO, has covered (the act of reporting about an event or subject) the opioid crisis for about ten years.  She lost her daughter to the epidemic about four months ago and when she returned to work earlier this week, she shared her personal story (to let what has occurred in your life be the foundation [the underlying basis or principle] not the focus [a center of interest or activity] - the focus needs to be on lessons [a useful piece of information learned through experience] gained, the gifts that you now have to share).  'I thought I can let this loss (the state of feeling of grief when deprived of someone), this devastation, (severe and overwhelming shock) destroy me or I can do something about it.  And over the course of my career I have asked so many parents to talk to me and just people in general who are grieving (deep mental suffering often endured alone and in silence) who have had horrible, tragic things happen to them...and I thought, I have to talk about it.  I have an obligation (duty, commitment or responsibility) to talk about it.  My number one reason for talking about it is to erase the stigma (a mark of disgrace) that is surrounding (circumstances, conditions or things around an individual) addiction, especially the use of heroin, opioids,' Kennecke told CBS This Morning on Friday (CBS News, September 7, 2018)." 

"Buying illicit (forbidden by law) fentanyl - a drug that is killing people in the United States at the rate of eighty a day - is as easy as ordering a book online.  Websites openly advertise the synthetic opioid, offering customer service by email, bulk purchase discounts (to encourage individuals to purchase goods in large quantities) and shipping guarantees, according to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations (USA Today, September 27, 2018)."  "The Zheng drug trafficking (deal or trade in something illegal) organization was hardly clandestine (done secretively).  The Shanghai-based network (people with the same interests) sold synthetic narcotics (created using Man-made chemicals), including deadly fentanyl, on websites posted in thirty-five languages, from Arabic and English to Icelandic and Uzbek.  The Chinese syndicate bragged that its laboratory could synthesize nearly any drug and that it churned out (produce at a rapid rate) sixteen tons of illicit (forbidden by law) chemicals a month.  The group was so adept (very skilled or proficient) at smuggling (move goods illegally into a country), and so brazen (bold and without shame) in its marketing (action or business of promoting or selling products), that if offered a money-back guarantee to buyers if its goods (items for sale) were seized by U.S. or other customs agents (a federal law enforcement officer who inspects goods).  Fentanyl, fifty times more potent than heroin, and related laboratory-crafted drugs, have become the #1 cause of opioid-related overdose deaths (a dangerous dose causing a decease).  Nearly 29,000 people died last year in the United States from overdoses linked (a relationship between two situations) to synthetic opioids, a category that experts say is dominated by fentanyl and its chemical cousins - a staggering surge (an astonishing, astounding or stupefying amount) from the 3100 such deaths reported in 2013. 

"One reason for the spike (sharp increase) - the drug is so powerful that a sugar-packet-sized bag (containing two to four grams) of fentanyl can contain 500 lethal doses (quantity of a drug taken).  That also means it can be smuggled through the mail in which officials call 'micro-shipments' (small amounts of freight) that are far harder to identify and interdict (prohibit or forbid) than bulkier loads (of large size for its weight) of heroin, cocaine or marijuana.  Fentanyl was developed decades ago as an ultra-powerful painkiller - a hundred times more potent (having great effect) than morphine - for use in surgery.  It is still used to help hospice-level (providing care for the terminally ill) cancer patients.  Drug dealers began dabbling (dip your toe into a specific subject) in the drug in the mid-2000s, but it surged (a sudden and great increase) in popularity in 2014 and 2015 because it was easy to obtain and hugely profitable.  A $1500 kilogram (2.2 lbs) can bring $1.5 million in profits after the drug is cut (mixed with other drugs) and sold on the street (to the public), according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2018)."  This drug has a history (referring to events of the past).  "If you've ever had surgery, you may have been given an analgesic (acting to relieve pain) named fentanyl.  Fentanyl is a favored painkiller (a drug for relieving pain) because it acts fast.  But it's also eighty to a hundred times more potent than morphine.  The powerful drug has made its way to the street (where people jump on any opportunity to "level up" [progress to the next level]) and increasingly is being used to cut (mixed with) heroin - resulting in a deadly combination.  Fentanyl abuse first became a problem some twenty-five to thirty years ago, way before it started being mixed with heroin, says Dr. Neil Capretto, an addiction physician at the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, Penn.  Fentanyl, Capretto explains, was originally invented to relieve pain is often injected (to force a liquid into a person's body with a syringe) in patients prior to surgical procedures.  The synthetic opioid can also be prescribed in a lozenge (a small usually sweetened and flavored medicated material) or patch (a disk-shaped piece of material that is worn on the skin and contains a drug that is absorbed at a constant rate through the skin and into the bloodsteam) to treat the severe pain associated with metastatic (the spread of cancer from a primary site to other places in the body), colon (the large intestine) and pancreatic (malignant cells found in the tissues of the pancreas [produces digestive juices which regulate blood sugar]) cancer. 

"'Patterns of abuse actually began with hospital workers, anesthesiologists (a medical specialty concerned with the care of patients before, during and after surgery) and nurses,' Capretto says.  'There were a rash (people acting without thinking carefully first) of health specialists dying from overdose.  You'd hear of them getting it in the operating rooms by drawing out fentanyl from vials (a small container, made of glass, used for holding liquid medicines) and putting saline (a liquid mixture of salt and pure water) in its place.'  Later, when take-home (to carry something to one's home) fentanyl patches were invented, patients began abusing the painkiller, too.  'There were occasional cases of people eating the patches or steeping (to soak in water so as to extract the medical benefit) them like tea,' he says.  'And because fentanyl is so powerful, we started seeing more drug overdoes and death.'  In the 1980s, synthetic fentanyl became infamous as a street drug sold as China White, says Capretto - the name was originally used as a brand for heroin.  That was pretty bad, he says, but even more dangerous is mixing heroin and fentanyl.  Today, drug dealers are adding fentanyl to heroin because it creates an intense high.  Between 2005 and 2007, more than 1000 U.S. deaths were caused by fentanyl-heroin overdoes, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Seizures (capturing a thing using force) of drugs containing the painkiller jumped from 942 to 3334 between 2013 and 2014.  In March, the DEA issued a warning on fentanyl as a 'threat to public health and safety'.  The combination of two drugs makes users feel drowsy, nauseated (a feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit) and confused, but also euphoric (characterized by or feeling intense excitement and happiness).  The euphoria probably hits a lot faster when fentanyl is mixed with heroin, says Dr. J.P. Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.  It's that super-quick potency of fentanyl that makes it dangerousThe rehab physician recently treated a heroin addict who tried fentanyl for the first time and overdosed.  'Before he even took the needle out of his arm, he was unconscious.' (NPR, August 26, 2015)"  In 2018, over 50,000 persons died due to opioids, as many, if not more, than died during the entire Vietnam War.    back to top

Debasing Islam.  Debase means to "reduce the quality or value of something".  On June 12, 2016, one of the worst mass shooting since 9/11 occurred in Orlando, Fl. - done by a Muslim born in Queens, N.Y. to Afghan immigrant parents, inspired by online Islamic State videos preaching "death to infidels (someone who does not believe in that which someone regards as a true religion)".  Haroon Moghul, CNN, commented: "The hundreds of millions of Muslims who reject extremism must start building out real institutional alternatives to extremism."  Meaning, Islam cannot just sit on its hands in the wake (as a consequence) of these things and not be accused themselves.  "We create false enemies when we cannot reach the real ones.  We blame all immigrants and all Muslims when the real enemy is the Islamic State and radical extremists (Bob Gabordi, Florida Today)."  That is, we have Islamophobics (people who are anti-Islam) who scapegoat the entire Muslim community, much like the Great Red Scare of the 1950s.  "According to Tuskegee University, between 1882 and 1968 an estimated 3446 African Americans were lynched - many at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.  As an African American I ask, what should our response have been?  Should we have painted all white Christians with the same broad brush of racism and bigotry due to the actions of a radical segment who also called themselves Christians? (Michael E. Waters, June 15, 2016)"  He wrote this commenting on the "broad brush" used to paint Muslims.  Or what about this.  Should we paint with a "broad brush" the whole Christian Church because 500 years ago a radical element, certain Christians sanctioned (to officially allow or accept) by the church, went on Crusades slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent people.  They would burn entire European towns to the ground.  The justification (the act of showing something to be right) for the Crusades comes, perhaps, from Deuteronomy 2:34 - "The Lord delivered him before us; and we smote (to kill or severely injure) him, and his sons, and all his people.  And we took all his cities and utterly destroyed the men and women, and the little ones (children), of every city, we left none to remain [alive]." 

CNN did a study on December 30, 2015 concerning American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence.  They found this.  "Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention we found that from 2001 to 2013, 406,496 people died by firearms on U.S. soil.  This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide.  According to the U.S. State Department, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2013 was 350.  In addition we compiled all terrorism incidents inside the U.S. and found that between 2001 and 2013, there were 3030 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism.  This brings the total to 3380."  From 2001 to 2013 there were between 30,000 and 40,000 motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. per year, or over 400,000 total.  In 2014 - in one year, 9967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired (drunk) driving crashes, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or over twice the amount killed over fifteen years of terrorism in the United States.  In 2016, 40,200 people died on the nation's roads.  In one battle, in one day during World War I, 10,000 British soldiers died.  As asinine (preposterous) as Islamic terror is, it is actually as far as deaths are concerned, relatively small.  Stephen Yale-Loehr is professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School.  Nicholas Logothetis is co-founder and chairman at a non-partisan organization named Concordia.  They wrote this January 27, 2017.  "The Cato Institute calculates that the chance of being killed a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is about one in 3.6 billion a year.  By comparison, CATO found, you chance of being murdered by anyone [in the United States] is one in 14,000.  The head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Congress in September (2016) that not a single act of actual terrorist violence has been committed by a refugee 'who has undergone our screening procedures' since 9/11." 

Is death by terrorist a "bad" death, and death by drunk driver a "good" death?  Why do news services such as Fox News continually harp (to dwell on or recur to a subject tiresomely) and rant (express at length a negative opinion - tirade) on terrorism deaths, while carefully ignoring the rest, which are far more in number?  Is it "straining out a gnat (a small fly that bites people)" while "swallowing a camel" - the gnat being Islamic terror in the U.S., the camel being domestic gun death plus vehicle death.  They may be using Muslim extremists to avoid other issues, such as the 13,445 firearm deaths in 2015 in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive.  Chicago, in 2016, had recorded 81 murders in August alone, 764 murders and more than 4000 non-fatal shooting incidents (happenings) for the year.  This is one American city in one year.  And people worry about the Islamic State?  They should worry about America.  "Authorities who investigated fatal (causing death) shootings over the weekend (March 25-26) at a Cincinnati (Ohio) nightclub and on the Las Vegas Strip were quick to report they saw no indication of terrorism.  The incidents were, in fact, the latest reminders, that when it comes to terrorizing Americans, Americans don't need help from terrorists.  They're perfectly capable of killing, maiming and scarring themselves  - even at times and in places where people are supposed to be enjoying themselves (U.S.A. Today, March 27, 2017)."  However, it is the ideology (a set of ideas and beliefs of a group) behind the Islamic State that is to be dismantled (to destroy the integrity or functioning of).  "The reckoning (the time when actions are judged as good or bad) of the infidel is at hand.  His fortresses (places protected against attack) of sin (i.e. Las Vegas) will shield him no longer.  As we have bled, so shall he bleed."  This is a bad philosophy (a set of ideas).  According to Rob Stelzer: "When terrorist savages (people regarded as primitive and uncivilized) strike innocent victims, prayer is fine (of very high quality) and little shrines (sacred places) are nice, but the only rational response (using reason and logic in thinking out a problem) is to root out (to find and remove) these people and end their practices (the actual application or use of an idea)." 

On March 8, 2014 a Boeing 777 crashed into the ocean on its way to Beijing, China.  "Many Malaysians are invoking the power of prayer to aid the massive, multinational search for the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared without a trace early Saturday.  Many Malaysians are taking to Islamic mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples, online at the Twitter hashtag #Pray For MH370, and even shopping malls, where shoppers Tuesday wrote and hung prayers and well-wishes on special 'message of hope' displays (U.S.A. Today, March 12, 2014)."  The American Cross has had a "message of hope" concept online for almost twenty years.  This is not just a "Christian" concept, but is universal for anyone, anywhere.  Sixty-five percent of the Malaysian people are Muslim.  The late Jerry Falwell, head of the Liberty Baptist University said this on CBS' 60 Minutes, October 3, 2002: "I think Muhammad was a terrorist."  The Malaysian people don't sound much like terrorists tying prayers on message-of-hope walls.  Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Ass., was quoted by NBC Nightly News in October 2001 as taunting (to sarcastically challenge or insult) Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion."  Yet his brother, Ned, also a Southern Baptist minister, told Christianity Today that he abused alcohol and spent an "inappropriate amount of time" with two women on his staff, as a married man with two children.  "He that is without sin (immoral conduct), let him cast (throw) the first stone."  That was said by someone the Grahams may have heard of - Jesus.  On the September 19, 2002 episode of Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes, Pat Robertson claimed that Muhammad was "an absolute wild-eyed fanatic - a robber and a brigand".  Robertson hosted the popular 700 Club.  But, according to a June 2, 1999 article in The Virginian-Pilot, Robertson had extensive business dealings with Liberian (in Africa) president Charles Taylor.  At that time Taylor was harboring al-Qaeda operatives who were funding their operations through an illegal diamond trade.  On February 4, 2010, at his war crimes trial in the Hague, Taylor testified that Robertson was his main political ally in the United States.  If Robertson was without sin, he could then cast a stone at Muhummad.  And further, if Muslims are so bad, why does the United States choose to use the Incirlik air base in Turkey in the fight against the Islamic State.  Turkey is a Muslim country.

After a Taliban attack on a Pakistani school that killed over a hundred persons on December 16, 2014, Dilawar Khan, a Muslim teacher from Peshawar, commented: "I don't know what kind of people actually plan and execute mass murder of children.  I'm sure they'll burn in hell for killing innocent teachers and students."  "Anything that bolsters ISIL's narrative and pits the United States against the Muslim faith is certainly not only contrary to our values, but contrary to our national security (Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, December 8, 2015)."  However, 450 out of a thousand senior American Protestant pastors surveyed by LifeWay Research, between September 26 and October 5, 2014, stated the Islamic State represents Islamic society in general.  It is a ploy (a clever trick) to make Muslim extremists look like the mainstream to justify bigotry (being obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices).  "It's certainly true that it is unfair to indict (to formally decide that a thing should be put on trial) a global faith followed by more than 1.6 billion people, the overwhelming majority of whom consider ISIS an insane distortion of the Prophet's teachings (Time, March 2, 2015)."  A suicide bomber caused a blast near the Prophet Mohammad's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia on July 4, 2016, killing four police officials.  Gulf News did much commentary on this.  "Oman (a country in the Middle East) strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, stressing that their timing and location highlighted that terrorism had no religion or sense of humanity and that its only purpose was to kill and harm innocent people.  The new Arab League Secretary, General Ahmad Abul Ghait, said: 'Such acts of terrorism show the significance of deploying (to organize and send out - people or things - to be used for a particular purpose) greater efforts at the Arab, Islamic and international levels to confront the threats menacing the world.'  'The heinous crime that targeted innocent people from all over the world gathered in a sacred place at a time when the Muslim community is getting ready to celebrate Eid Al Fitr is a clear indication of how the forces of darkness are plotting against the Arab and Muslim nations,' [Jordan Minister of State for Media Affairs] Mohammad Al Moumani said

"In Saudi Arabia, the Council of Senior Scholars stressed that the terrorist attacks confirmed that those who have deviated (to do something that is different) from religion have abused all sanctities (the quality or state of being holy).  'They have no respect for any sanctity and they have no religion or conscience,' a statement from the Council said.  Abdul Rahman Al Dudais, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, referred to a verse in the Quran to describe the terrorists from Daesh (Arabic language acronym - a set of initials representing a name - for the Islamic State).  'And when it is said to them, Do not cause corruption on the earth, they say, We are but reformers.  Unquestionably, they are corrupters, but they do not perceive it.'  The Muslim Council of Elders also condemned the terrorist attacks in the strongest terms.  In a statement, the Council, headed by Grand Imam of Azhar, Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayeb, stressed that 'the perpetrators of these villainous (very bad or evil) attacks which shed the blood of innocent people and violated the sanctity of places where God is worshipped, have neither ethics nor conscience and are not deterred by religion from killing innocent people and bomb the most sacred places on Earth.'  The statement added: 'God Almighty threatens to afflict those who seek to wreak havoc on the Prophet's Mosque and other mosques with disgrace in this life and the worst torment in the afterlife.'  The Council's statement stressed 'the need for concerted (done in a planned and deliberate way) international efforts to counter, with full firmness and determination, these deviant (different from what is considered to be normal) groups that seek to spread mischief on earth and threaten, with atrocious (very evil or cruel) acts, the security and stability of our holy places, Arab and Muslim countries and international peace that all humanity pursues.'  Iran on Tuesday (July 5) joined the international chorus of condemnation in the wake of the suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia.  'There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross.  Sunnis, Shiites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one,' Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.  'Terrorism knows no border or nationality and there is no solution except creating an international and regional unity against this phenomenon (an observable fact or event),' [Iranian] foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told state broadcaster Irib." 

Doesn't sound like the Islamic State represents Islamic society in general.  Some American Protestant ministers will twist facts (make a misrepresentation) to suit a theory (a working hypothesis).  Their religion has its own brand of violence.  From their Bible: "But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance (a valuable possession that is a common heritage), you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them - the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite...So Joshua conquered all the land - the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings, he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed (from Deuteronomy and Joshua)."  And that's not all.  "After breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, for example, the Crusaders reportedly slaughtered almost every inhabitant of the Holy City.  According to the medieval chronicle (a description of events in the order they happened) the Gesta Danorum, 'the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles.' (The Middle East Quarterly, Raymond Ibrahim, Summer 2009)"  As can be seen from the Saudi attack, mainstream (a prevailing current or direction of activity or influence) Islam does not sanction (official permission or approval) violence from extremists, unlike the Christian Church, which did so in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.  On July 14, 2016 a Muslim driver of a semi truck slammed into people on a promenade (a public place for walking), on Bastille Day in Nice France.  The first person to die was Fatima Charrihi, a Muslim woman, a mother of seven children.  Oumaimi Kraimi, a college student in Nice, commented on the fear that Muslims will be targeted again.  "There will be people who will stigmatize (to describe or regard something in a way that show strong disapproval) us.  We shouldn't let these people debase (to lower the value or reputation of) our image (the idea that people have about something).  The attack wasn't a Muslim act, only the act of an ignorant person who was hiding behind our religion, but who was not a real Muslim.  The Quran tells us that if a man kills another, it's as if he had killed all mankind." 

Franklin Graham is a leader in the church who may be afflicted with a case (an instance of a particular situation) of Islamophobia (an exaggerated, and usually inexplicable, illogical fear of the Islamic faith).  According to Reverend Katharine R. Henderson: "On Franklin Graham's column, 'Too many Muslims among us believe in violence', he incites fear and suspicion of Muslim Americans.  Graham omits mention of the number of Muslim leaders who have banded together to condemn violence, or that a third of the victims of the Nice attacks were Muslim.  He must know that the majority of deaths at the hands of the terrorist group of the Islamic State are Muslims.  As a Christian leader who works with people of all faiths, I know we can do better.  If we are to defeat the threat of terror, it will take all Americans.  We must build this world together as a part of a multi-faith movement for justice and love.  As a Christian, Graham should know that 'God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control'.  Instead of sowing distrust and fear, why don't we try to 'love our neighbor as ourselves', as Jesus taught?"  Perhaps he could rely (depend on with full trust) on a scripture from I Samuel 15:3 - "And the Lord said: 'Go and smite (strike with a firm blow) Amalek (a nomadic tribe whose descendants are Arabs), and utterly (completely and totally) destroy all that they have, and spare (choose not to punish or harm) them not, but slay (kill) both man and woman, infant and suckling (an infant that is still being breastfed by its mother).'"   

Near the Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, a van (vehicle) slammed (a heavy blow or impact) into a crowd outside the mosque, injuring nine people, killing one.  Two Muslim girls commented.  Ijeoma Mbnye: "We shouldn't have to look over our shoulder (to worry or think about the possibility that something bad might happen - that someone will try to cause harm) all the time.  Not all Muslims are terrorists, and I blame the government for creating the impression that they are."  Aisha Amir: "If the guy that did this was a Muslim he would have called a 'terrorist' straightaway (immediately, instantly, directly or forthwith), but because is a white man (Caucasian), it's assumed has a mental illness.  Where is the justice?"  Not only do Muslims invoke the power of prayer.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the United States in April 2015, and said at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.: "I stood there in silent prayers for some time."  Japan is mostly Buddhist and Shinto for religion.  David Wolnerman, now 88 and lives in Des Moines, Iowa, was in a Nazi concentration camp - a Jew - in 1940.  He was thirteen when he stood before the Angel of Death, the Nazi who decided who lived and who died.  When asked about his age he said, then: "I am eighteen."  He said, in 2015: "I didn't have the brains to say this.  I believe God told me.  If not, I wouldn't be here."  Nepal, home of Mt. Everest, had a magnitude-7.8 earthquake, April 2015.  Thousands died.  One man said: "I pray to God they find my daughters," ages 12 and 16.  Nepal is about 80% Hindu.  How can a Muslim, Buddhist (or Shinto) and Hindu pray?  Don't you have to accept Jesus as your personal savior (someone who saves from danger) before you can do any of this?  And how could God speak to a Jew if he wasn't saved.  Yet Revelation says that all nations, ethnic groups and languages are in paradise.  Daniel clarifies that, to mean some of all the nations: "Multitudes (a great number of people) who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake - some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."  It seems like anyone, who wants, can connect to the Unseen

To conclude on a subject of the mocking (being such in appearance only) of Islam, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's foreign minister, made a comment concerning immigration on January 29, 2017.  "The United States is a country where Christian traditions have an important meaning.  Loving your neighbor is a major Christian value, and that includes helping people.  I think that is what unites us in the West."  President Trump said this at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2017.  "America must forever remain a tolerant (capacity to endure what is difficult) society where all faiths are respected, and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure."  Steve Bannon, a former member of Trump's staff, had his own "spin" (biased interpretation of an event) in January 2016, referring to Europe in the 1930s.  "This is when Europe's looking down the barrel of fascism (exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control) - the rise of Mussolini in Italy, Stalin and the Russians and the communist Bolsheviks (a member of the extremist wing of the Russian Social Democratic party) in the Soviet Union.  And obviously Hitler and the Nazis.  I mean you're looking at fascism, you're looking at communism.  And to say that - what so blows me away is the timing of it.  You could look in 1938 and say, 'Look, it's pretty dark here in Europe right now, but there's [now] something actually much darker.  And that is Islam.'"  In Germany, in the '30s, a documentary film was made derogatorily (showing a critical or disrespectful attitude) comparing Jews to a pack of rats (a rodent considerably larger than a mouse), showing it on camera, and suggesting they be eliminated (to prevent the participation or inclusion of).  With his mind-set (a mental attitude or inclination), he may wish to make use of it against innocent Muslim people.  The Pew Research Center estimates the U.S. Muslim population is now 3.3 million.  So where is the paranoia (mental illness characterized by delusions, suspiciousness or distrustfulness of others) as they are less than one percent of the population of United States? 

Bana Alabed is a 7-year-old Syrian girl who, during the siege (a persistent or serious attack) of Aleppo, tweeted (a post made on Twitter) photos and videos depicting a war-torn wasteland (an area that is devastated by war).  Her Twitter profile - I am 7 years old peace preacher - had 366,000 followers worldwide.  She had the audacity (willingness to take bold risks) to tweet President Trump with a question: "Am I a terrorist?"  A few days earlier she tweeted from Turkey, after riding an evacuation bus, to Trump: "You must do something for the children of Syria because they are like your children and deserve peace like you.  If you promise me you will do something for the children of Syria, I am already your new friend."  Attacking all of Islam is suicide (the self-inflicted ruin of one's own prospects or interests).  "The West (western civilization) is not at war with the world's 1.7 billion Muslims, the vast majority of whom want nothing to do with ISIL's savagery (disposition to willfully inflict pain and suffering on others).  The West is at war with a warped (having or showing lowered moral character or standards), barbaric (having a bizarre or primitive quality), nihilistic (a belief that the real world does not exist) fringe (a space that marks the outer limit of something) within Islam.  In Middle Eastern and South Asian terror hotspots (an area where there is dangerous unrest or hostile action), Muslims bear the brunt (principal force, shock or stress) of the suffering.  The war on terrorism cannot be won without their help (U.S.A. Today, February 6, 2017)."  On February 5, 2017, one hundred twenty-seven tech companies filed a joint court brief on immigration.  "The beneficiaries (a person who receives a benefit) are not just the new immigrants who chose to come to our shores, but American businesses, workers and consumers, who gain immense advantages from immigrants' infusion of talents, energy and opportunity."  One man who faced exclusion (not allowing someone to take part in an activity) from the U.S. was Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian filmmaker who won an Oscar for best foreign language film.  "Dividing the world into categories of 'us' and 'our enemies' creates fear," Farhardi said. 

Research from the Department of Homeland Security concluded that "country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator (measurable variable used as a representation) of potential terrorist activity".  John Allen, a retired Marine general who commanded NATO's International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan from 2011 though early 2013 plus coordinated (organized) a coalition (a group of people acting together) to counter the Islamic State from 2014 to 2015, along with Michael O'Hanlon who is a senior fellow at the Bookings Institution, wrote this.  "Trump needs to rapidly re-evaluate and revise his executive order on travel and refugees.  It could do enormous harm to the broader struggle against terrorism - and thus to America's security even here in the homeland.  In particular, it will damage America's image (a visible representation of something abstract - a popular conception of a nation projected through the mass media) in the world, betray (be disloyal to) friends and allies (someone associated with another to give assistance) who have fought with us, complicate co-operation with governments we need to help us defeat the Islamic State terrorist group, and leave many vulnerable individuals unable to return to jobs and families - or to reach asylum (something that offers protection from danger) in the first place.  Though the order responds to a legitimate (justifiable, warrantable or proper) fear, its logic and specific elements are misguided (to cause to believe what is untrue).  None of the major attacks on American soil since 2001 has involved individuals embedded (to make an integral part of) within refugee or immigration groups from the seven countries involved in the order.  Yes, the 9/11 attackers did abuse the immigration system and evade watch lists.  But U.S. agencies are now much better at connecting the dots (proceeding in a series of simple and predictable steps) and sharing information.  Our vetting (make a careful and critical examination of something) has also improved and is very good today.  Even if one had doubts, why ban (to prohibit especially by legal means) women with their innocent children?  There have been only a modest number of female terrorists; hardly any of these are moms (mothers).  Why ban former interpreters (to make understandable - translators) who worked with U.S. forces?  They have already proved their trustworthiness (worthy of another's trust or confidence), and we owe them a great debt.  Above all, we should recognize that it is not about being Muslim or about the Islamic faith." 

According to Erin Miller, a researcher at the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database: "Terrorism in Western Europe remains less frequent compared to the number of attacks that took place in the region in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s."  Terrorists in past decades were political fanatics (marked by intense uncritical devotion) or agents of state-sponsored (government support of violent non-state actors) attacks, including Northern Ireland's Irish Republican Army, Spain's Basque separatists or Italian radicals.  In 1979-80, there were 1615 attacks resulting in 719 deaths.  In 2015-16 there was a drop (reduction), to 604 attacks resulting in 383 deaths.  According to the Igarape Institute, a Brazilian think tank (a group of experts brought together to develop ideas), in 2016, Western Europeans were 433 times more likely to die of suicide (the act of taking one's own life) than from terrorism, 50 times more likely to die in a biking or watersports accident, 39 times more likely to die in consuming a toxic (poisonous) product and 32 times more likely to die by homicide (murder).  So, chances of dying by terrorism were one quarter of one percent compared to dying by suicide.  The media (main means of mass communication - broadcasting, publishing, the internet) could focus on suicide prevention (collective efforts by citizen organizations and health professionals to reduce the risk of suicide) but, then, it's not as sensational (editorial bias [prejudice in favor of, or against, something] in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are overhyped [exaggerated claims] to present biased impressions on events) as a terror attack.  Robert Muggah, a security specialist (someone who specializes in the security of people, assets, networks or telecommunications systems) with the Brazilian think tank said this.  "We know earthquakes and floods kill far more people than terrorism, but we give a huge amount of attention to terrorism even when it involves small numbers of casualties (persons who are hurt or killed).  It whips (moves quickly or forcefully) our society, which is a low-risk society (able to push risks as far away as possible), into a kind of frenzy (intense, usually wild, and often disorderly compulsive or agitated activity) and augments (increases, adds to) the perceived risk."

"In addition to the rising incidents of harassment and violence against Muslims, there are signs that the federal government intends to ratchet up (increase over a period of time) spying against the Muslim community.  Two weeks ago (February 5), Foreign Policy magazine obtained a draft report (a preliminary form of a possible future document), produced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the request of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in which the CBP recommends subjecting Sunni Muslim immigrants, including permanent residents, to long-term surveillance (close observation).  While the latest news from the DHS is ominous (threatening, menacing or forbidding) indeed, it should be pointed out that the assault (concerted attempt to do something demanding) on the democratic rights (mobility, legal and equality privileges) of Muslims began long before Trump came to power (was elected).  This was underscored (called attention to) earlier this month when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed (make publicly known) that, in 2016, the Boston Police Department (BPD) used social media monitoring software (used to track, gather and mine the information of certain individuals or groups) to spy on the private conversations of Muslims.  However, the BPD's spying program is nothing new.  In fact, it pales in comparison (looks weak, small, meager or inferior to something else) to the massive spying operation carried out by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in collaboration (working jointly with others) with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in the years following 9/11.  In 2010, the Associated Press uncovered the existence of the NYPD-CIA spying program, which including the monitoring (the observing and watching) of Muslim student's groups across sixteen college campuses across the Northeast in 2006-07. 

"The Associated Press had also discovered that, for several years, the NYPD had been spying on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, even sending informants (persons who give information to another) to monitor sermons.  Ordinary Muslims going about their daily lives had their license plate numbers recorded and faces photographed.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is believed to have more than 15,000 informants on its payroll (list of people who work for an organization).  The informants are trained to seek out young, impressionable (easily influenced because of a lack of critical ability), often unemployed and isolated Muslims known to have expressed 'radical views'.  After gaining their trust, including through favors such as providing money, the informants then bent over backwards (try extremely hard to help or please) to convince their targets (persons selected for abuse or punishment) to carry out an attack.  In his 2013 book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism, investigative (inquiring intensively into and seeking to expose) journalist Trevor Aaronson showed that only one percent of the more than five hundred defendants charged with federal terrorism offenses in the decade following 9/11 were actually involved in terrorist activities (calculated use of violence against civilians).  In the overwhelming (very great in amount) majority of cases, the 'terror plots' were entirely cooked up (concoct [create or devise] or contrive [plan with ingenuity]) by the informants (CounterPunch, February 21, 2018)."  And while games are being played, innocent Muslim people suffer misery (anguish, distress, despair).  "Sroor Al-Hosayni, 23, a nurse in Mosul (Iraq), isn't waiting for the government to remove the bodies left on the ground and inside demolished (destroyed, flattened or razed) homes in her neighborhood.  Al-Hosayni led her team of thirty volunteers to pull out the dead from the dirt and debris (broken or torn pieces left from the destruction of something larger) and place the bodies in white plastic sacks.  Al-Hosayni's mission began after her 14-year-old sister, Nibras, was killed in last year's fighting.  Her father died of a heart attack shortly after an airstrike. 

"'I promised the security forces to work for them as a nurse if they would help me bury my sister,' said Al-Hosayni, who trains others in the safe removal of bodies.  'The areas smell of death.  It's awful, but we have gotten used to it,' Al-Hosayni said.  She said city officials suggested letting stray dogs (domestic animals wandering about) eat the bodies.  'There are lots of rats and cats, but no dogs.  I told them there were not enough dogs to eat the corpses (dead bodies, especially of human beings).  There are thousands of bodies.'  Al-Hosayni and her volunteers have removed 860 bodies.  'In many ways, I'm doing this work in memory of my sister and my father,' she said.  'Dad taught me that actively (in a deliberate, positive, energetic or vigorous way of) caring for others is the best answer to the atrocities (extremely wicked or cruel acts) of the Islamic State.' (U.S.A. Today, May 2, 2018)."  And in Gaza: "Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral Saturday of a young female volunteer medic (nurse) who Palestinians say was shot (to be hit) and killed by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) while tending the injured (wounded) during violent protests on the Gaza border.  Razan al-Najjar, 21, a volunteer with the Gaza health ministry, was fatally shot in the chest near Khan Younis on Friday, Palestinian officials said.  Ambulances and medical crews attended the funeral, with her father holding the white blood-stained medic's jacket she wore when she was shot (The Times of Israel, June 2, 2018)."  And in Sri Lanka: "The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it condemned the attacks 'on our Christian brothers and sisters on their Holy Day of Easter, as well as on the hotels in Colombo.'  It said that it mourned the loss (bereavement and grief) of 'innocent lives due to extremist and violent elements (persons who have radical ideas or opinions) who wish to create divides (causing disagreement) between religious and ethnic groups to realize their agenda (list, plan or outline of things to be done).' (Time, April 21, 2019)"  This concerning the multiple hotel and church bombings with hundreds dead in that country on Easter Sunday.  An extremist is someone who supports an idea, cause or set of values so adamantly and without compromise that said person will use their ideas to justify anything they do.  back to top

Deriding Jews, and others.  Deride means to "express contempt for".  A Christian commentator on Fox News was asked that, in light of such things as the Holocaust, famine in Africa or the Black Plague, where is God in all of it?  The commentator responded with, "Gotta go to a break."  After the TV ads were over, he adroitly (showing skill, cleverness or resourcefulness) moved on to another subject.  So, how can God be a good God, and let these things occur.  And, how can God be a good God and allow a nuclear holocaust (all the fish in the oceans dying, one third of the planet being destroyed, the moon turning blood red due to changes in the atmosphere, and etc.), to happen in the future?  From various sacred writings (venerated texts that inspire respect) it can be deduced (determined by reasoning) that the Unseen is a benevolent dictator.  Pure kindness, yet as cold as ice.  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (from Matthew)."  Science has given us a look as to what may be after death.  Tens of thousands of people have had these experiences - "dying" on an operating table, and being brought back through a medical procedure.  Modern medicine has given us a "crash cart" - which is used to bring someone back to a conscious state.  In their near-death experiences, some go up, and some go down.  On the up: "It felt like a tunnel with a light at the end of it."  "Incredible light...brighter than the sun."  "It wasn't God but it wasn't not God either."  "A feeling of freedom and joy."  It was a kind of peace and calm."  On the down: "Red snakes crawling."  "Darkness that wasn't just blackness, it was an endless void."  "I heard the most horrifying, tormenting screams imaginable."  Not a pleasant place.  Apparently (used to describe something that appears to be true) there is no heavenly tribunal (the seat of a judge), where you argue your case (a question to be settled in a court of law).  Everything happens instantaneously (done without delay) after a point of death (a limit, beyond which an organism [individual form of life] cannot survive). 

Yet, where is God when a nail bomb at a concert in Manchester, England kills twenty-two innocent people, including an 8-year-old girl, on May 22, 2017?  "We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted (distorted and without meaning) mind that sees a room packed (filled to capacity - full) with young children not as a scene to cherish (hold dear), but as an opportunity for carnage (the killing of many people - Prime Minister Theresa May)."  And - "But to see what binds us together, just look to what these attacks have revealed about the kind of country we are and the type of people who live in the cities we have built for ourselves.  We are unshakably (not possible to weaken) resolute (firmly resolved or determined), unwilling to give in to fear or panic and reliably able to find humor and kinship (the relationship between members of the same family) even in the darkest moments (Dan Stwart - London)."  Or this.  "On the morning of May 31 (2017), a giant plume (something that rises into the air in a tall, thin shape) of smoke spread across the sky above The Arg, the 19th century Kabul (Afghanistan) fortress that houses the Afghan president's office and residence.  On the ground, just down the road from its gates and around the corner from the German Embassy, a busy thoroughfare was transformed into a gaping (wide open) debris-filled crater (a hole in the ground made by an explosion) some 13 feet (4 meters) deep.  The remains of the morning rush hour were everywhere - shattered windshields, twisted metal, flattened tires.  The smoke came from a powerful bomb that killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 400 (Time, June 12, 2017)."  How can God, if He is all good, allow these things to happen?  Sadly, He has turned over (to cause to move around in order to achieve a result) the planet to us, and chosen (come to a resolution, as a result of consideration) to not interfere (to enter into the concerns of others) into many of our affairs (work or activities done for a purpose).  He allows people to decide (to select freely and after consideration), for better, and for worse.  He can interfere, as a force for good, if you wish Him to.  And He will execute justice (moral rightness) against bad people, if not in this life, when they are dead (a Buddhist concept of karma - getting what you give).

People are skeptical (relating to a theory that certain knowledge is impossible) as to what could be after death, in a scientific community.  Bible Probe comments: "Numerous people have had near-death experiences after their hearts stopped, or they have stopped breathing - and ten seconds later the EEG (measure of brain electrical activity) goes absolutely 'flat'.  If so, how can any scientist say that this NDE is not a conscious experience?  Also, there have been numerous blind people (blind from birth) who have reported near-death experiences.  And for most of these their NDEs are 'visual' experiences.  How can these be?  It is thought that over ten million Americans have had near-death experiences.  Why do 'scientists' not study these more?  These are not drug induced hallucinations.  How can so many people report nearly the same details in their experience if they were due to drugs chemically acting on brain cells?  Most people who undergo NDEs say that they are not 'dream-like' events, but instead, very real and structured 'visits'.  Also, for most people, an NDE is a 'life changing' experience."  While there is no proof (something which shows that something else is true) that these experiences are real, there is no proof that you will be alive tomorrow, either.  Jewish people have had some positive NDEs.  Natan was a 15-year-old Israeli Jew who comes from a secular background.  "Natan felt extremely ill with chills and a cold feeling in his hands and legs.  His body shook, hurt and he suddenly found himself hovering over his body six feet in the air.  He kept rising and rising, saw the whole earth and eventually was led to a tunnel.  He saw a light that was full of love and security.  He can't properly explain how amazing this was (matzav.com)."  "Before his near-death experience, Alon Anava, a Jewish man who grew up in Ra'anana, Israel, describes himself as rough, rude, mean and not a nice person.  After his near-death experience, Alon says he was transformed into someone who was nice, calm, courteous, and soft spoken.  Whereas before he was a highly trained martial artist, now he attends Yeshiva, studying every day, exploring the depths of Torah.  Alon also claims to have returned with the ability to connect to God (ndestories.org)."  Although this story is a bit corny (tiresomely [causing you to feel bored] simple and sentimental), it does make a point that the experience can change how people behave (to conduct oneself in a specified way). 

"Beverly Brodsky was raised in a conservative Jewish family in a mostly Jewish neighborhood in Philadelphia.  She went through her teens as an atheist.  Since learning of the Holocaust at age eight, she had turned angrily against any early belief in God (Kevin Williams)."  In July 1970, she had a motorcycle accident which resulted in a NDE.  Since then, she served twenty-eight years with the U.S. government as a business and computer analyst.  This is the testimony of her 1970 experience, recorded in Lessons from the Light, written by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Valarino.  "Somehow an unexpected peace descended upon me.  I found myself floating on the ceiling over the bed looking down at my unconscious body...But my attention was now directed upward, where there was a large opening leading to a circular path.  Although it seemed to be deep and far to the end, a white light shone through and poured out into the gloom on the other side where the opening beckoned (to appear inviting).  It was the most brilliant light I had ever seen.  I then remember traveling a long distance upward toward the light.  Within it I sensed an all-pervading (to spread through all parts) intelligence, wisdom, compassion, love and truth.  There was neither form nor sex to this perfect being.  It, which I shall in the future call He, in keeping with our commonly accepted syntax (the way in which words are put together), contained everything...Suddenly, not knowing how or why, I returned to my broken body.  Although it's been twenty years since my heavenly voyage, I have never forgotten it.  Nor have I, in the face of ridicule (making fun of someone in a cruel or harsh way) and disbelief, ever doubted its reality.  Nothing that intense and life-changing could possibly have been a dream or hallucination (something that seems real, but does not actually exist - delirium, a profound distortion in a person's perception of reality).  To the contrary, I consider the rest of my life to be a passing fantasy, a brief dream, that will end when I again awaken in the permanent presence of that Giver of life and bliss."  Near-death experiences are a window (an interval or opportunity for action) into a post-death experience.  So, how could this woman visit (the act of going to see a place for a particular purpose) "paradise", when she had not accepted Jesus Christ as her personal lord and savior, according to the requirements (some quality or performance demanded of a person in accordance with certain fixed regulations - something you must do) meted out (doled out, apportioned) by the American evangelicals (Christians)?  "This might just return us to a context (circumstances that form a setting for an event) within which to contemplate (think deeply or carefully about) heaven as more than a mere fairy tale (a simple story children's story about magical creatures), cooked up (invent something, such as an idea, excuse, etc.) to deal with the fear of dying (Heaven, Peter Stanford)." 

So if Jewish people are visiting "paradise" through these experiences, why were they consigned (to put someone in a usually unpleasant place or situation) to suffer the misery (a very unhappy or painful time) of the Holocaust?  Doesn't God ever care (feel concern or show interest) as to what happens to people in this life.  There is a malignant force (demonically powerful - showing hate and spiritual evil to the annihilation of opportunities and joys) that, at times, seems to threaten (be something that is likely to cause harm to) the world.  It's difficult to believe that the horrendous (extremely bad or unpleasant) events which have occurred throughout recorded history are simply a product of deranged minds (unable to think or act in a normal or logical way).  There is a line that is crossed (to overstep a boundary, rule or limit; to go too far or do something unacceptable), with things such as the Holocaust, and other things, that this force, which in religion is called Satan, is either blamed (think or say that person or thing is responsible for something bad that has happened) for or is responsible (able to be trusted to do what is right - answerable or accountable) for.  To accept (believe or come to recognize) that tens of thousands of innocent people were literally (representing the exact words or sense) worked to death (until they died), or showered (a bath in which water is sprayed on the body) in poison gas and then conveniently cremated (to reduce to ashes by fire), was the product (someone influenced by a particular environment) of a person having a bad day is ridiculous (extremely unreasonable or absurd).  That given, why does the Divine Name permit (allow to be done or occur) it.  What is the issue (an important topic for debate), in that He seems to allow torment (extreme physical or mental pain) to come upon His creatures (animals or persons) on earth?  First, and foremost (before anything else in importance), it should be noted (a brief comment) that to attack (criticize or oppose fiercely) the Ancient of Days about how He operates (to exert power or influence), simply gets you a one-way ticket (allowing a passenger to travel only to his destination, without returning) to eternal prison.  But, while 6,000,000 Jewish people, plus hundreds of thousands of Poles, Russians and others, were being gassed, cremated or worked to death - what was the Unseen doing, taking a nap (a short sleep especially during the day)? 

An American Presbyterian elder (a person having authority because of experience) commented: "I think it is only when a person truly sees God working in his own life that this faith (strong religious feelings) can be transformed into a complete trust that God's promises are true."  Holodomor literally translated from the Ukrainian means "death by hunger".  In 1932-33 Stalin, a Russian leader, instituted (set in motion or establish) policies designed to mutilate (injure so severely as to cause lasting damage) the independence and culture of rural Ukraine.  Bitter Harvest, a 2017 film, states on screen at the end: "In 2003, Russia signed a U.N. declaration confirming (establish the truth or correctness) that the Holodomor had taken the lives of between seven and ten million innocent people."  On November 7, 2015, the Holodomor Genocide Memorial was opened in Washington D.C.  Most probably, about l.5 million people died from Stalin's policies directly (without anything else being involved).  What is the church thinking - "God working in a person's own life", "complete trust that God's promises are true."  God working to starve tens of thousands of people to death, while they trust His promises to be true?  This is a most absurd (having no rational or orderly relationship to human life) comment when it meets reality (a true situation that exists).  Back in the 1930s, Ukrainians may have thought (an idea, plan or opinion formed in the mind) that "dragons were real, and evil roamed the world".  So, then again, why does the Unseen allow a "malignant force" to roam the planet?  A small reason is to perhaps let people know that there is an eternal prison, an unpleasant place where you do not want to go - once dead.  An American Protestant church saying (a short, pithy [concise and forceful] expression [act of making your thoughts known] that generally contains advise or wisdom) is this: "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform."  Nothing mysterious (exciting wonder, curiosity or surprise while baffling efforts to comprehend or identify) about the Warsaw (Poland) Ghetto during World War II, wherein 400,000 Jewish people were herded (a group of people moving in a particular direction) like cattle.  From October 1940 to May 1943, these people experienced imprisonment, mass shootings, forced labor, starvation, mass deportations to Treblinka and labor camps in the Lublin Reservation.   

And, Vietnam.  "Phan Kim Phuc, referenced informally as the Napalm girl, is a Vietnamese best known as the nine-year-old child depicted (to show in a picture) in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972.  The well known photo, taken in Trang Bang by AP photographer Nick Ut, shows her at nine years of age running naked on a road after being severely burned on her back by a napalm attack.  In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, Nong qua nong qua ("too hot, too hot") in the picture.  The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phuc Story by Denise Chong is a 1999 biographical and historical work tracing the life story of Kim Phuc (Wikipedia)."  Napalm is a gel (a jellylike substance), composed of two acids plus gasoline.  "When napalm falls on people, the gel sticks to their skin hair and clothing, causing unimaginable (inconceivable, indescribable, unbelievable) pain, severe burns, unconsciousness, asphyxiation (suffocation) and often death.  Even those who do not get hit directly with napalm can die from its effects since it burns at such high temperatures that it can create firestorms (very intense and destructive fires) that use up much of the oxygen in the air.  Bystanders (persons present but not taking part in a situation) also can suffer heat stroke, smoke exposure and carbon monoxide poisoning.  The U.S. dropped almost 400,000 tons of napalm bombs in the decade between 1963 and 1973.  Of the Vietnamese people who were on the receiving end, 60% suffered fifth-degree burns, meaning that the burn went down to the bone.  Horrifying as napalm is, its effects at least are time-limited (a limited period of time).  That is not the case with the other major chemical weapon the U.S. used against Vietnam - Agent Orange.  Agent Orange is a liquid mixture containing the 2,4-D and 2,4,5,-T herbicides (chemicals used to destroy plants).  The compound is toxic (poisonous) for only about a week before it breaks down, but unfortunately, one of its daughter products is the persistent (continuing to exist or endure over a long period) toxin dioxin.  Dioxin lingers in soil, water and human bodies.  During the Vietnam War, the U.S. sprayed Agent Orange on the jungles and fields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  The Americans sought to defoliate (deprive of leaves, especially prematurely) the trees and bushes, so that enemy soldiers would be exposed.  They also wanted to kill off the agricultural crops that fed the Viet Cong - as well as local civilians. 

"The U.S. spread 43 million liters (11.4 million gallons) of Agent Orange on Vietnam, covering 24% of South Vietnam with the poison.  Over 3000 villages were in the spray zone (a jet of vapor or liquid that is blown through the air).  In those areas, dioxin leached (drained, filtered or seeped) into people's bodies, their food, and worst of all, the groundwater (water held underground).  In an underground aquifer (a water-bearing permeable rock, sand or gravel), the toxin can remain stable (firmly fixed, not likely to change) for at least a hundred years.  As a result, even decades later, the dioxin continues to cause health problems and birth defects for Vietnamese people in the sprayed area.  The Vietnamese government estimates that about 400,000 people have died from Agent Orange poisoning, and about half a million children have been born with birth defects (www.thoughtco.com)."  Approximately 1.5 million innocent people have died from napalm and Agent Orange put together - about the same number as those who died in the Holodomor of the 1930s in Ukraine.  "The wound caused by napalm is too deep to heal.  When contacting humans, napalm immediately clings (sticks on someone) to the skin and melts off the flesh.  The only way to put it out is to smother (keep from growing by covering) it, as trying to wipe it off (dry or clean by rubbing) only spreads it around and expands the burnt area.  Napalm gradually became a symbol of the brutality (cruel, harsh and usually violent treatment of another person) of the Vietnam War (thevietnamwar.info)."  The Ancient of Days cannot approve (express a favorable opinion of) of all of this.  This goes back to a fanciful (possibly not based on fact) story of Adam and Eve.  The Divine Name put an apple tree in a garden and instructed (give someone an order) them to not eat an apple.  There comes Satan and scams (deceives, tricks, dupes or hoodwinks) Eve into eating just one.  So, the Divine Name banishes (a legal punishment imposed that requires persons to stay out of a specified area) Eve and Adam.  Who put Satan in the garden in the first place?  What can be known is that Unseen is, in truth (in point of fact), a benevolent (kindhearted, good-natured and philanthropic) dictator (an entity who rules with total authority). 

Answering a question as to why bad things happen to nice people is essential, so that individuals can understand.  Perhaps it is a warning (a statement or event that indicates a possible or impending danger, problem or other unpleasant situation), that not only does evil roam (travel without a fixed purpose or direction) the world at times, but there is evil beyond the grave (after a person has died) that is to be avoided (stayed away from) - i.e. hell in the underworld (a place for departed souls).  That still does not answer a question as to why horrible (very unpleasant or bad) things happen in this world.  American evangelicals will tell you that if a Jew doesn't accept Jesus Christ as his or her personal "lord and savior", that person will burn in hell forever.  So, then, when Hitler got done putting 6,000,000 Jewish people into the ovens (crematorium ovens, that were used to burn the bodies of up to 6000 people every 24 hours), God put them into an eternal oven.  This makes God into more of a tyrant (cruel and oppressive ruler) than Hitler.  What do the misguided (having or showing faulty judgment or reasoning) American Baptists think, that Hitler would have allowed Baptist preachers into the concentration camps to preach Jesus to the Jews?  On October 27, 2018, eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn. were killed by a man with an AR-15 assault rifle.  This was the deadliest attack (domestic terrorism) on the Jewish community in America's 242-year history.  "Because this was our neighborhood, caught in the crossfire (involved in an unpleasant situation) of the strains of the global village (a world that has been shrunk [to become smaller] by modern advances in communications), and for once the hurt was ours (the emotional and physical pain), and the victims were ours, and the need to heal (make better, make well - to restore to health) is ours (David M. Shribman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)."  Concern stretched (a continuous expanse) across the sea.  "We are thinking of 'our brothers and sisters, the whole house of Israel, in this time of trouble,' as we say in the morning prayers.  We are thinking of the families of those who were murdered and praying for the quick recovery of those who were injured (Israeli President Reuven Rivlin)."  Perhaps Robert Bowers, the suspect (the accused, a defendant), had a Pentecostal philosophy: "Nothing wrong with pronouncing a curse (a prayer or imprecation [invoke evil, bring down bad spirits upon] that harm may befall [happen, especially as if by fate to] someone) upon a Jew, let them be accursed (under a curse - hateful, detestable, loathsome and foul)."

That's not too good, when looking at things like this.  "Yotam Ovadia was planning a romantic dinner for Tu B'Av (a minor Jewish holiday, celebrated as a holiday of love, similar to Valentine's Day).  The decorated IDF combat vet (Israel Defense Force veteran who received medals, awards or honors) and his wife, Tal, had so much to celebrate.  Their second son was born just months earlier, Yotam had a good job that allowed Tal to work part time as a teacher, and they had everything to look forward to.  But as he headed to buy groceries for the holiday meal, a Palestinian terrorist entered their neighborhood and attacked Yotam with a knife, stabbing him from behind (in the back).  Although he fought back bravely - slowing the terrorist down so that others would be spared (left uninjured) - he lost his life in the process (as an unintended part of a course of action).  The media (a main means of mass communication) and the dignitaries (persons considered to be important because of high rank or office) called Yotam a hero.  Thousands attended his funeral.  But after the dignitaries and reporters were gone, all that Tal was left with was the cries of 3-year-old Itay and 9-month-old Harel, and her part-time teacher's salary.  Today, they survive on weekly community donations of food and diapers.  Their lives are shattered (damaged or destroyed - exhausted) and their future is uncertain (Times of Israel, December 11, 2018)."  It's not just in the United States where people lose heart, it can be anyplace (in at or to any unspecified place) in the world.  The idea is to take the concepts (abstract ideas representing fundamental characteristics) contained in this webpage and apply them to the context (situation or background) of anyone's culture and religion.  These concepts are universal (comprehensive, all-inclusive and global), which can be applied to anyone, anywhere.

Robert F. Worth wrote this for The New York Times on October 31, 2018.  He flew into Aden, a southern port city (a place along a coast) in Yemen, and made his way up to the northwest of the country.  "Dahyan, a town in the far northwest of Yemen, is a farming settlement about two hours' drive from the Saudi border.  On its dusty, unpaved main street, a large crater (a hole in the ground made by the explosion of a bomb) is still visible near a fruit-and-vegetable stand, marked out by flimsy wooden stakes (fragile pointed pieces of wood) and red traffic tape.  It was here that a laser-guided bomb (a smart bomb that seeks the laser light reflected off of the target and uses it to correct its descent) dropped by a Saudi jet struck a school bus taking students on a field trip on the morning of August 9, killing forty-four children and ten adults.  Even for a population that had grown accustomed to tragedy after more than three years of war, the bus bombing was shocking (appalling and horrific).  Shrapnel (fragments of a bomb thrown out by an explosion) and tiny limbs (arms or legs of a person) were scattered for hundreds of years (hundreds of meters) around.  The bomb that hit the bus, several local people told me, bore markings showing (symbols, signs, imprints or stamps) it was made in the United States.  The site has now become something of a shrine (a place regarded as sacred [entitled to reverence and respect]).  On a brick wall a few yards from the crater, large painted letters in both English and Arabic proclaim, "America Kills Yemeni Children".  Not far away was a fresh graveyard where the victims were buried.  At each grave, a color portrait (drawing, sketch or picture) of a victim stood over (above) a coffin-shaped mound of dry, rocky earth.  Beyond a low stone wall was the carcass (what was left) of the bus, a mass (a large amount) of twisted and burned metal.  A boy was standing silently by a grave as I arrived, string down at the headstone. 

"'We were all in school together,' he told me.  He was 14.  He might easily have been on that bus, he said, but he's already gone on the school trip.  He was on the way to the market to help his father, when the bomb struck.  His father wasn't hurt, but he soon found out that most of his friends and teachers were dead.  He now goes to the graveyard almost every day to visit them, he told me quietly (softly, in a low voice)."  Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones (one who is vulnerable [susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm] to criticism should not criticize others - if you can't take it, don't dish it out [inflict punishment]).  America, and the world may vilify (speak or write about in an abusively disparaging [regard or represent as being of little worth] manner) the Saudi nation for Yemen.  But the people of Saudi Arabia are no more guilty of atrocities (extremely wicked or cruel acts) in Yemen than the American people were guilty of atrocities in Vietnam.  It is their government's missteps (mistakes or blunders [a gross error]) which are to blame (responsibility for a wrong).  The initial (existing or occurring at the beginning) purpose of Vietnam was to prevent a Communist takeover (the act of gaining control) of all of Southeast Asia.  The initial purpose of Yemen was to prevent an Iranian threat at the backdoor (an indirect way of achieving something) of Saudi Arabia.  Even in Yemen, persons can take the concepts of a message of hope and apply them within a context (the circumstances that form a setting [surroundings, situation or environment]) of their own culture.  But why does the Unseen allow these things to happen?  These children who died, died as martyrs, and possibly got a free ticket to paradise.  Evil persons, who slaughter the innocent (as when Herod ordered all male infants two-years-old and under in Bethlehem to be killed), get what they deserve (earn, be entitled to, have a right to, or be qualified for) - eternal prison. 

Back to glass houses.  There was an assassination attempt on a leader of a nation by the United States.  "The first discussions of assassinating [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro occurred in the Eisenhower 'Special Group', a small group within the Eisenhower administration that advised Ike on covert operations (operations [activities designed to achieve a goal] that are so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor [person or organization involved]).  Castro's longevity (long life) as a major bogeyman (a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children) can be traced to his successful repulse (drive back by force) of the Cuban/U.S. invasion at the Bay of Pigs and the fierce hatred this humiliation (to make ashamed or embarrassed) created in the minds of John and Robert Kennedy, as well as in the CIA as an organization.  It was this disgrace (loss of reputation or respect) that led to OPERATION MONGOOSE and the plots to kill Castro.  The U.S. government admits to eight CIA operations to assassinate Castro between 1960 and 1965.  [In one such plot] three CIA operatives managed to slip into Havana, where they obtained an apartment overlooking the presidential palace.  On a day in which Castro was to make a speech honoring three visiting Soviet cosmonauts (astronauts), the assassins planned to obliterate (destroy utterly - wipe out) the speaker platform by firing a bazooka (a short-range tubular [long, round and hollow like a tube] rocket launcher used against tanks) from their apartment window.  Unfortunately for them, the bazooka had gotten wet during their infiltration (aboard a rubber raft) and would not fire (The CIA's Black Ops, John Nutter, Ph.D.)."  Everything America does isn't right, but this doesn't mean that everything America does is wrong.  Debra, a mother of six, after the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting: " Throughout history (), Jews have always been brutalized (), and a lot f times, Jews just took it ().  We didn't fight back.  And I wanted to teach me children to be fighters and fight back ()."  back to top

Abused and neglected children.  A restoration can apply to the approximately 695,000 children who were abused or neglected in the United States, last year alone.  This is what can happen when abuse or neglect is let go - a teen gunman opened fire in the Chardon (Ohio) High School cafeteria, in 2012.  He was being raised by his grandparents, but abused by an uncle.  A motive can be hard to understand.  The 16-year-old accused of a stabbing rampage at a Pennsylvania high school, in the spring of 2014, remains a mystery.  A classmate, Kaitlyn Pepper, said that Alex Hribal seemed "like a little boy", "a shadow (a state of ignominy or obscurity) in the hallways" and was teased.  "I'd witness people saying things to him.  I couldn't tell you who said it.  I didn't realize it was all that bad."  Other kids "just said things - they ride him and ride him, and...he snapped," she said.  A spiritual, but not religious, project might possibly help a child get some heart back.  A Miramonte, Calif. elementary school is a kind of place where an adult with bad intentions could take advantage of a child, knowing a family could virtually do nothing.  And if they did, little chance they would be believed.  Lots of the very poor don't know what their rights are.  Like the case of Jerry Sandusky, who used a charity he founded to target vulnerable boys, the situation is a perfect recipe for a predator (one who destroys or devours).  "The former Penn State University assistant football coach was regarded in this gritty, central Pennsylvania town as a savior for fatherless kids.  Even if he (victim #1) could overcome the shame of acknowledging that he was regularly forced to submit to a middle-age man's sexual advances or shed the fear of naming someone as prominent as Sandusky, who would believe him? (U.S.A. Today, July 18, 2012)"  While in this life many escape punishment, yet when they are dead God will lock them up forever.  So why do these awful things happen?  We may not know all the reasons, but to hate the Creator of the universe only makes it worse.  It leads to a forfeiture of paradise, then.  As Rihanna says (paraphrase): "Are you just going to stand there and watch me burn?"  Thousands upon thousands of people wonder if anyone cares about their spiritual destiny.  Who really does?  The second part of the message of hope is paradise at death.

Operation Caireen, an investigation into the anonymous trading of child porn over the internet in America, tells of what happens when people leave spirituality.  "Investigators went on per-to-peer networking sites and pretended to be users looking for images and videos.  They came across search terms like 'real child rape', 'mom-daughter family sex' and '3-year-old gets it every way imaginable'.  In January [2014] investigators arrested Brian Fanelli, the police chief of suburban Mount Pleasant, N.Y.  Court papers allege that Fanelli, 54, told investigators that he taught sexual awareness classes to elementary and middle school students.  He said he began looking at child porn as research and that it grew into a 'personal interest'.  Court documents say two of his computers had 126 graphic video and photo files of children as young as seven engaged in sex acts with other children and adults.  Two months later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested Samuel Waldman, 52, a Brooklyn rabbi and Judaic studies instructor at a girls' seminary who home-schooled his children and others.  Court documents showed investigators found at least three graphic videos on Waldman's computer.  'These are real children involved in despicable acts,' Brown (Queens District Attorney Richard Brown) said.  'Each time an image is viewed, traded, printed, or downloaded, the child in that image is victimized again.' (U.S.A. Today, May 22, 2014)"  In Goleta, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a 22-year-old lost it.  "The son of a Hollywood director stabbed three men to death in his apartment, gunned down two women outside a sorority and randomly killed a sixth person in a rampage (to move in a wild and destructive way) that was foreshadowed by an internet video in which he vowed to slaughter (killing of a number of people) all the people who wronged him.  Attorney Alan Shifman said the Rodger family had called police after seeing YouTube videos 'regarding suicide and the killing of people' that Elliot Rodger had been posting.  In the YouTube video, Rodger sits in a car and looks at the camera, laughing often, and says he is going to take his revenge against humanity.  He described loneliness and frustration because 'girls have never been attracted to me' (MSN News)." 

When kids are ignored and regarded as undesirables (bad, harmful or unpleasant), watch movies at home on DVD, cable or satellite wherein the hero gets his just revenge, and the law looks the other way (in a movie), they can get some bad ideas into their heads.  They think they are heroes fulfilling some kind of destiny.  In Rodger's case, he was withdrawn in World of Warcraft, an interactive video game.  If these kids could be steered away from their self-pity, crying and whining, before they lose it (go crazy), and into something more positive to vent (find emotional release) their frustrations on, like a punching bag or pumping iron (lifting weights), at home or at the gym, things might not be so bad, for them or others, in the end.  The result (a consequence, effect or outcome of something) may be an aggravated assault, but this is sure better than cold-blooded murder.  In another part of California one Christmas Eve, a disgruntled ex-husband, Bruce Pardo, arrived at a home and, dressed in a Santa suit, gunned down grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Amanda Orza lost her mother in the attack.  Counseling did not help much.  "It helped part of the time.  [The counselor] did help me in some ways.  But other ways, she just couldn't help me,   I don't think she could stop my grieving.  I'll still miss them, and that's final," Amanda said.  A cross is for these.  Nonetheless, a church reacts with: "We'll pray for you."  People want answers, not platitudes (a banal, trite or stale remark).  They may continue: "God is not responsible for your loss."  Really.  They say that God created the heaven and the earth - so what did He do, just walk away?  Then they tell you to forgive.  Revelation says that murderers are destined for eternal prison.  If God is not going to forgive them, why should we?  People want a just resolution (an answer or solution to something).  While organized religion in America lectures you in their narrow-minded piety (the state of falsely appearing to be good), they look straight ahead - they will not look you in the eye.  The answer is, if all seven and a half billion people on the planet would connect to their version of the Unseen, there would not be this mess.  We would have peace on earth and good will toward everyone.  Which throws the dilemma (a difficult situation or problem) back on us.  Not all of us choose to connect.  Then, bad things happen. 

This may be nothing compared to the millions of orphans (children whose parents are dead) created during World War II, but it is still a human tragedy.  One year after the Sandy Hook school shooting on December 14, 2013, families explained steps that have been taken.  Alissa Parker lost a daughter, Emilie, and said this: "Things that were once important are not meaningless, and other more pertinent (relating to a thing that is being discussed) priorities take their place.  It changes you as a person from the inside out, and you strive to become the best possible parent, spouse and person you can possibly be."  Unfortunately, the majority of the Americans have little concern (to be of importance - a matter of interest) for abused and neglected children.  A woman in the state of Texas had trouble keeping her outdoor Christmas lights on for the holiday season.  When a worker brought up the subject of these children, trying to put things into a perspective (a way of looking at or thinking about something) - she sneered (ridicule, mock, jeer), her rancor (a bitter deep-seated ill will) exploded, and she avoided any more discussion (an exchange of views for the purpose of exploring a subject) on the subject.  "Over the past ten years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members.  That is nearly four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The child maltreatment (to treat cruelly or roughly) death rate in the U.S. is triple Canada's and eleven times that of Italy (Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters Education Fund)."  So, while MSNBC and CNN have spent their time, in 2017, doing their best to bring President Trump down (sabotage - deliberate subversion or undermining of - his career) - these news services completely ignore the issue of the children.  Their lack of concern (indifference) is, at best, criminal (forbidden by moral law), and at worst, treason (violating a trust [confidence and faith] given by society).  back to top 

Immigrant children.  Warren Farrell, a former board member of the National Organization for Women is concerned that divorced dads believe "the courts and moms were depriving them of equal time with their children...I discovered that some boys feared dad had just abandoned them (give up or discontinue any further interest because of discouragement, weariness, distaste or the like).  As other boys discovered their dad was fighting unsuccessfully for equally shared parenting (both parents have the right and responsibility of being involved in raising the child), they began to fear having children themselves.  Dad-deprived boys lack role models (a person whose behavior, example or success is, or can be, emulated [copy something achieved by someone else] by others), miss the bonding of roughhousing (horseplay or rambunctious [turbulently active] play; Dr. Stuart Brown - 'Lack of experience with rough-and-tumble play hampers [the effects of any impeding or restraining influence] the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery [the foundation upon which expectations for future interaction with others is built, and upon which individuals develop perceptions of their own behavior] and has been linked with poor control of violent impulses [an obsessive compulsive disorder] later on in life.'), and often suffer from a lack of boundary enforcement (boundaries [guidelines, rules or limits a person creates] are how you keep toxic [a jealous-judgmental person who is rude] people out of your life), leading to problems in school, sports and life.  To escape the shame of their failures (a neurotic, irrational feeling of worthlessness, humiliation and self-loathing), millions, become addicted to drugs, drinking and video games - or just commit suicide."   It is only only in the United States where children are abused and neglected.  "Gaining citizenship is far less of a concern for many of the boys and girls than simply finding safety.  For years, those three countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) have been consumed by increasing violence by organized gangs, which have grown in power on the back of the drug trade as economic conditions worsen.  Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, whose country has the world's highest murder rate, recently described the fleeing youth as 'displaced by war'.  Tales of kidnapping, murder and extortion fill the local newspapers daily.  Interviews with those captured in the U.S. confirm these horror stories - in one survey, 66% of Salvadoran children, 44% of Honduran children and 20% of Guatemalan children cited criminal violence as their reason for leaving (Time, June 30, 2014)." 

And NBC News: "Sonia Nazario, who won the Pulitzer for a 2002 L.A. Times piece, retraced the trek (a long arduous journey) from Honduras through Mexico of a young boy.  Having personally held onto the sides and tops of seven different freight trains, Nazario knows the danger firsthand.  [On] the train itself - dubbed 'La Bestia' or 'The Beast' - that children jump on to and off of, kids [have] 'lost arms and legs', Nazario said.  But the danger faced on the journey is nothing compared to the violence these young immigrants face in their home countries.  A good portion of the drug trade has shifted to Central America and is to blame for the high level of violence.  Children are used as 'foot soldiers' for the cartels who give them an ultimatum (a final threat) to either start using and selling drugs or get killed.  'We would be their executioner by sending them back.  I think many of the children that I've talked to in Honduras are no different than child soldiers in Bosnia,' she said.  Countries surrounding Syria have welcomed 2.5 million refugees, but 'we get 90,000 immigrant children and we start talking about expedited (to cause to happen faster) removal.  I find that unconscionable (extremely bad, unfair or wrong),' she said."  Thomas G. Snow is an immigration judge.  He was acting director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is responsible for the entire U.S. Immigration Court system, from 2009-2011.  His thoughts: "People come before an immigration judge because the U.S. government, via the Department of Homeland Security, is trying to deport (to force to leave a country) them.  And there is usually little dispute that they are deportable.  They've come across the border illegally, or they've overstayed their visas, or they have legal status in the U.S. but have committed crimes that make them deportable.  So we don't have to spend much time deciding whether someone is here legally or not.  What we do spend time on is whether the person before us has a legal basis to remain in our country.  For example, someone facing physical abuse - or worse - back home, depending on the reasons for such persecution (punishment or harassment usually of a severe nature), may be eligible for asylum (protection from arrest and extradition given especially to political refugees by a nation) and can stay. 

"A person with U.S. citizen children - who has been here at least ten years and has good moral character, and whose kids would suffer 'exceptional and extremely unusual hardship' if the parent is deported - can stay.  Even someone who has committed a violent or other serious crime in the U.S., if he can show he would be tortured (a situation or state that causes great suffering and unhappiness) by public officials in his home country, can stay."  But, things can change.  The Immigration Act of 1917 banned immigrants from the Asiatic Barred Zone which included Saudi Arabia, most of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.  The 1917 law banned "idiots" and "imbeciles" (persons affected with moderate mental retardation) and created a literacy test (test one's ability to read and write) for immigrants from eastern Europe.  However, President Eisenhower wrote, when he signed the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 that refugees (individuals seeking refuge or asylum - a place of security) "are men and women of the same character and integrity (conduct that conforms to an accepted standard of right and wrong) as our ancestors who, generation upon generation, have come to America to find peace and work, to build for themselves new homes in freedom."  Sending immigrant Central American children back to their misery (a situation that causes suffering or unhappiness) is appalling (causing shock or dismay).  Steven Seagal's movie Contract to Kill deals with a problem of a Middle Eastern terrorist kingpin (one of high position or importance) who was in the process of forming an alliance (a formal agreement between two or more people or organizations) with a Mexican drug cartel (a criminal organization with the intention of supplying drug trafficking operations) to gain entrance into the U.S.A. through the porous (capable of being passed through) U.S.-Mexico border.  The liberals (favoring political and social reform) who want open borders are an "accident waiting to happen".  So, ICE's (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) challenge (something that requires thought and skill for resolution) is to balance (a condition in which opposing forces are equal to one another) humanity with security.  It's a tremendous opportunity to show people what America is really all about. 

"On April 29 (2018), a group of fifty people - most of them families from Honduras and El Salvador - attempted to enter the United States at the port of entry in San Ysidro, across the US-Mexico border from Tijuana.  They're the first delegation from a caravan (a group of people traveling together) of about three hundred Central Americans that has traveled through Mexico over the past few weeks on the way to the United States, organized by the humanitarian nonprofit Pueblos sin Fronteras.  The caravan members were initially prevented from entering the U.S. because Customs and Border Protection agents told them they didn't have the capacity to process them.  As of May 1st, about a dozen have been allowed through - the rest are still waiting in Tijuana.  None of this is all that unusual.  People, most of them Central Americans, present themselves for asylum (the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee) to border agents every day.  It's perfectly legal for someone without papers to go to a U.S. port of entry and seek asylum by showing they meet the legal definition - that they would be victims of persecution (the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another individual or group) based on their race, nationality, religion, political views, or membership in a targeted social group (two or more people who interact with each other, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity) if returned to their home country.  For several years now, Central Americans have made up the biggest share of people crossing the U.S. southern border, often to seek asylum from gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  To draw attention to the plight (a dangerous or difficult situation) of Central American asylum seekers, and using the logic that there's more safety in a large group of migrants (persons who move regularly in order to find work) traveling out in the open (in or into public view or knowledge) than smaller groups traveling through the shadows (you quietly moved to a position, where you would not likely to be seen), the nonprofit Pueblos sin Fronteras has organized annual migrant caravans through Mexico to the United States (Vox, May 1, 2018)."   

"'I don't want them to stop my father,' a child whispers in Spanish.  'I don't want them to deport (expel from a country) him.'  So begins an excruciating (intensely painful) audio clip (a file that contains a short sound item) of children howling (a long, loud doleful cry) for their parents after being separated from them at the U.S.-Mexico border.  The audio was published Monday by the investigative (intended to examine something carefully) nonprofit ProPublica.  Cries of 'Mami' and 'Papa' build over a cacophony (harsh, discordant mixture of sounds) of walls and sobs.  An adult on the recording compares the wrenching cries (experiences making you feel extremely shocked or upset) to an 'orchestra'.  'What's missing is a conductor (a person who directs the performance of an orchestra or choir),' says the man in Spanish, whom ProPublica identifies as a border agent (a person whose mission is to prevent illegal aliens, terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States).  According to ProPublica, the audio was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility (a place where people who have entered a country illegally are kept).  The person who made the recording gave the audio to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who provided it to ProPublica.  The person who made the recording estimated that the children are between 4 and 10-years-old.  'It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress (extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain) at having been separated from their parents was still raw (in a natural, unrefined or crude state),' the ProPublica report said.  'Consulate officials (official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another) tried to comfort them with snacks and toys.  But the children were inconsolable (not able to be comforted or alleviated).'  The person who made the recording asked to not be identified for fear of retaliation (changes that have an adverse [unfavorable] effect on you), according to ProPublica

"Harbury told ProPublica the person who recorded it was a client (someone who receives services) who 'heard the children's weeping and crying, and was devastated (severe and overwhelming grief) by it.'  The children heave (vomit) and choke (severe difficulty in breathing) on their words.  An adult admonishes (warn or reprimand someone firmly) a child to stop crying - 'no liores.'  One child begs for someone to call her aunt.  She says she knows her phone number and that her mother has said her will come for her.  ProPublica said it was able to reach the girl's aunt using her phone number.  According to ProPublica, the aunt said she could not help her niece because she and her own 9-year-old daughter are seeking asylum (protection given by a government to someone who has left another country to escape being harmed).  The aunt told ProPublica that the little girl is in a shelter (a building designed to give protection from bad weather, danger or attack), and she has been warned by authorities that her mother may be deported without her.  'It was the hardest moment in my life,' the woman said , according to ProPublica.  'She crying and begging me to go get her.  She says, I promise I'll behave, but please get me out of here.  I'm all alone.' (CNN, June 18, 2018)."  Representative Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill, reacted to the American government's practice of family separations ().  "I really think that what we're talking about is state-sponsored () child abuse."  Commander Jonathan White oversees the care of minors () for Health and Human Services.  "Separating children from their parents poses significant risks () of traumatic psychological injury () to the child.  The consequences () of separation for many children will be lifelong ()." 

Wendy Young is president of KIND, Kids in Need of Defense.  "Most of these children - toddlers (young children beginning to walk) to teenagers - are deeply affected (to have an effect on, make a difference to) by the experiences that drove them (behave in such a way that makes someone leaver) to take the life-threatening journey (capable of causing death) thousands of miles to the United States, the journey itself and detention (the state of being detained [to force someone to stay in official custody]) by Customs and Border Protection.  Held in large, cold, windowless rooms without beds, these children are terrified of the CBP officials holding them and what will happen to them."  Raul Reyes, an attorney, said this: "Sessions (Attorney General Jeff Sessions) has even cited the Bible as a rationale (a set of reasons or a logical basis) for the immigration policy (course or principal of action) he helped craft (create).  'I would cite (quote as evidence for) you to the Apostle Paul and his clear (easy to perceive, understand or interpret) and wise command (an authoritative order) in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained (order or decree officially) the government for His purposes,' Sessions said last week.  We can do so (enforce immigration policy) without trampling (tread on and crush) on the human rights of migrant (a worker who moves from place to place) women and children."  And the Book also says, "love your neighbor", which means, in this case (when that is considered), the neighbors to the south of the United States.  La Prensa, a Honduras newspaper, published a political cartoon dated June 21, 2018 with a title of "Nation of Immigrants" - and purportedly (appear or claim to be) shows the State of Liberty using its flame to burn an immigrant. 

Sarah Saldana served as the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from 2014 to 2017.  "The zero tolerance policy further burdens (overloads, encumbers or strains) our over-burdened justice system when there are drug cartels (any criminal organization with the intent of supplying drug trafficking operations), international organized criminal enterprises and cyber malefactors (one who commits an offense against the law) to investigate.  While Congress has incomprehensibly (difficult or impossible to understand) evaded the responsibility (a sensible or trustworthy manner) of legislating total immigration reform, there are effective alternatives to manage our critical border-security issues, other than simplistic (treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are) responses like a physical border wall or the criminal pursuit of immigrant mothers, fathers and infants.  I worked directly with the Presidents, national security and immigration officials of our neighbors to the south to collaborate (work jointly) on such solutions, which I found to be meaningful and effective.  We should continue our public information programs in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, among other countries, to emphatically (without a doubt) lay out the dangers of illegal immigration.  We should work with these governments to shore up (support and keep from falling apart) their economies and strengthen their nation- building capacities (the ability or power to do so).  And we should collaborate with - not denigrate (to attempt to blacken their reputation) - them, for the sake of our mutually beneficial law-enforcement relationships." 

Robert C. Brack is a U.S. District Court judge for New Mexico.  "I'm a judge on the criminal prosecution (bringing a case against a person) side of immigration.  I don't do asylum cases.  I don't do deportations.  Those are the civil side.  I only know what I see.  In 2003, I was told by officials that only 3% of those who were caught coming into the country without permission were actually prosecuted.  Since then, the penalty (punishment imposed) had gone from no consequence (importance or relevance) to a civil violation to a criminal violation.  For the most part, the defendants in my court are not really criminals.  Many of them have worked hard.  But they are not well-educated, and certainly they don't know how quickly the rules can change.  So they make bad decisions.  And they suffer consequences I just can't get my head around (you cannot understand it).  Last week, I had a couple of fathers from Guatemala who had come with their sons who were 7 and 12-year-old - about the ages of my grandchildren - whom they hadn't heard from in a couple of months.  They didn't know where their children were.  We can't keep enough Kleenex (disposable paper tissue) in the courtroom.  Those who attack the immigrant population as being lawbreakers (embezzlers, felons and hoodlums) don't recognize that for years we left these laws unprosecuted, in part because of our insatiable demand (they want as much of it as they can possibly get) for cheap labor.  For a long time, we have benefited from their presence.  I can't help but wonder, as we punish these people - do we really have the moral and legal high ground? (a better, more moral, or more powerful position)"

Jessika L. fled (run away from danger or pursuers [someone who is chasing you]) from El Salvador with her two sons, and used only part of her name to protect other family members.  She wrote an op-ed (a piece of writing which expresses a personal opinion), with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The story is consistent (compatible or in agreement) with official documents, including a sworn affidavit (a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation [declaration]).  "I crossed the border into the United States on March 13 [2018] in search of safety (the condition of being protected, freedom from harm or danger) for myself and my sons, ages 4 and 10.  We had fled for our lives from El Salvador, where MS-13 gang members had threatened to kill us.  We turned ourselves in to the first Border Patrol officers we saw after crossing into Texas.  They took us to a Border Patrol station, where I tried to explain that my sons and I needed protection (being kept safe from injury, damage or loss).  I could never have imagined (supposed or assumed) immigration authorities (concerned with those who come to live permanently in a foreign country) would take my children away from me for seeking asylum (a protected and safe place for someone who has left their country for political reasons).  The immigration officers told me that I was going to be taken to an immigration detention (to be deprived of liberty for migration-related [movement by people from one place to another] reasons) center.  They said my sons could not come with me.  I was given only five minutes to say goodbye.  My babies (young children) started crying.  It breaks my heart to member my youngest wail (a prolonged high-pitched cry of pain, grief or anger), 'Why do I have to leave?  Mami, I want to stay with you.'  My oldest did not understand what was happening.  Through my tears, I asked them to be brave and promised that we would be together again soon.  I begged the woman who took my sons to keep them together.  She promised that she would, and then left with my boys.  In El Salvador, gang members threatened me and my children, too, saying they would take my 10-year-old son from me.  I went to the authorities in El Salvador and requested protection, but they didn't do anything. 

"Once, the gang members (a group involved in an elevated level of criminal activity) beat me in front of my children.  After that, my oldest son was terrified that they would kill or kidnap me, and he never wanted to leave my side (get away from - stop being supported), even to go to the bathroom.  He didn't want to go to school, because he was afraid he would not find me when he came home.  My 4-year-old slept in bed with me, and my 10-year-old slept in his own bed in the same room.  I feared not just for my safety but also for my children, so I did what I believe any responsible parent would do - tried to get them to safety.  I have family in the United States, and they said they were willing to take us in.  Then, U.S. immigration authorities made my sons' worst fears come true.  They left them without their mother.  After my sons were taken, I was transferred to the Laredo Detention Center.  I called the Office of Refugee Resettlement to find out what happened to my children, but they just told me my boys were in custody (protective care of guardianship) in San Antonio.  I couldn't talk to them to see how they were doing or to tell them I love them.  At one point, I learned they were separated and placed in two different foster homes (a minor [person under the age of legal responsibility] has been placed into a ward, group home, or private home of a state-certified care giver) for a time.  I can't begin to say how desperate (very sad or upset because of having little or no hope) I felt knowing that they were alone, among strangers.  Finally, on May, after nearly two months in government custody, my children were released to my relatives.  I am grateful my boys were with family, and I could finally talk to them on the telephone.  But my sons had no prior relationship (connection, association or involvement) with these relatives, and I knew they needed their mother.  Before we were separated, I had never spent a night away from my sons.  I asked to be released from immigration detention so I could be with them, but at my hearing, the government alleged (asserted that someone has done something illegal) that I had an affiliation (closely associated with a particular group, a connection) with a gang. 

"I tried to explain that I was in fact a victim of the gang.  As I said in my sworn affidavit, 'I have never been a part of or aided the gangs in El Salvador.'  But the judge set a bond (a written promise by a defendant to pay a fixed amount) of $12,500.  Thankfully, people from all over the country donated money for my bond through the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Texas.  I was reunited with my sons June 7, after we had been separated for almost three months.  I was so relieved and happy to hold my sons again.  But I still think about other mothers who are sick with worry (extremely anxious [afraid or nervous]) about their own children who were taken from them.  I pray that people put themselves in my shoes and theirs, and think about how difficult it must be for mothers to be taken away from their children."  Persecuting (subjecting to hostility and ill-treatment [not taking care of]) women and children - Jeff Sessions and his twisted interpretation (a mentally or emotionally unsound or disturbed explanation) of the Bible.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder (create difficulties for) them (from Luke)."  When it comes to asylum law, provisions (clauses in a legal document) are being ignored (disregarded intentionally).  "Moms and dads fleeing violence in Central America are also frantically (done in a very great hurry and often in a state of excitement or confusion) worried about the danger their children face (confront and deal with) in their home countries.  They want to provide love and safety to their babies, toddlers (young children just beginning to walk) and teens in the United States.  Instead, they face forcible (vigorous and strong) family separations and imprisonment at the hands of the U.S. government.  The administration has sought to erase our commonality (the state of shared features or attributes) with asylum-seeking families, calling them invaders and frauds.  Immigrations and Nationality Act provisions require processing of all asylum requests, regardless of how the applicant arrived in the U.S. (Denise Gilman, professor at the University of Texas-Austin School of Law, July 14, 2018)" 

A migrant caravan (persons fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) left Honduras in October 2018.  "It began in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on October 12 and reached the Mexican capital nearly four weeks later, populated by migrants traveling through rain and heat.  The caravan's 5000 people - many of them parents, children and unaccompanied minors (foreign nationals or stateless persons below the age of eighteen) - say they are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.  They travel together because there's safety in numbers (being part of a large physical group or mass, an individual is less likely to be the victim of a mishap, accident, attack or other bad event - Time, November 26, 2018)."  President Trump ordered over 7000 active duty troops (persons in the military full time) to the border...to protect America from women and children.  Perhaps a better solution would have been to send the troops to Honduras to clean out (an instance of removing and disposing of unwanted items) the drug lords (a high ranking crime boss who controls a sizeable network of people involved in the illegal drug trade) and re-establish order (operations intended to halt violence and support, reinstate, or establish civil authority - designed to return an unstable and lawless environment to the point where indigenous [having always lived in a place] police forces can effectively enforce the law) in that country.  However, the military has been faithfully (in a loyal manner) installing razor wire (a metal wire or ribbon with sharp edges or studded with small sharp blades, used as a barrier) on the top of border fences (a separation barrier that runs along an international border). 

Santa Cruz County supervisor Bruce Bracker, who lives in Nogales on the Arizona-Mexican border, commented: "The connotation (something suggested by a word or thing) of razor wire in our city is depressing (causing or resulting in a feeling of miserable dejection [low spirits]).  It looks like a prison.  I get (understand) that illegal immigration is a problem.  It needs to be addressed (dealt with).  But America is supposed to set an example (an entity regarded in terms of their fitness to be imitated) for the world on these sorts of issues (important topics or problems for debate or discussion).  Shutting down asylum claims (a refugee or displaced person making a formal application for the right to remain in another country) and deploying (moving weapons or forces to where they can be used when needed) the military to the border isn't the solution.  It's the beginning of another problem."  A question can be asked as to who serves the Prince of Peace.  "A group of about 150 migrants carrying white flags that read, 'La paz y Dios' or 'Peace and God are With Us', separated from the larger caravan near Southern California and inched (moved slowly and carefully in a specified direction) within 500 feet (152.5 meters) of the U.S., a report Thursday said (Fox News, November 23, 2018)."  Peace from the Central Americans, and military options (responses that can be projected to accomplish assigned tasks) from the North Americans.  President Trump tweeted on November 21: "There are a lot of CRIMINALS  in the Caravan."  Vicious (deliberately cruel or violent) Central American women who will, if left alone (refrained from being bothered or interfered with), probably attack the White House in Washington, D.C.

 "Vice President Mike Pence's column in USA Today, 'Democrats refuse to compromise on border wall funding,' uses cherry-picked data (the act of pointing to individual cases that seem to confirm a particular position) from a Doctors Without Borders report to make a case (state reasons why something should be done) for a border wall.  Pence wrote that 'according to Doctors Without Borders, 70% of illegal immigrants report being victims of violence along the journey at the hands of human traffickers, drug smugglers and vicious gangs'.  Pence cited (quoted as evidence) a 2017 report that featured a patient survey (a measure of the extent to which a patient is content) and medical data (facts, statistics and such collected for analysis or reference) from 2015 and 2016, drawn from our medical projects in southern Mexico.  While it provides some of the only data available on migrants and refugees from Central America, the report is not a representative survey (a small quantity of something that accurately reflects the larger entity) of all undocumented immigrants (foreign nationals who may reside in a country illegally).  Pence also failed to acknowledge that almost 40% of our patients said they fled their countries due to violence, and that close to 44% had lost a family member over the prior two years.  Many of our patients on migrant routes in Mexico are refugees with a reasonable fear of death or violence if sent back to their countries

"The administration (national government) cites our data on violence in Mexico as it continues to enact policies (a course of action adopted by a government) that block (choke, plug or obstruct) legal avenues (a channel for pursuing desired goals) for asylum and increase people's vulnerability (the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed) to the very violence they claim to be concerned about.  A wall on the U.S.-Mexican border will not stop people fleeing for their lives (to escape by running away because of fear or danger), and will have no impact on the violence they suffer (Sophie Delaunay, interim executive director, Doctors Without Borders)."  Asylum means "protection given by a government to someone who has left another country in order to escape being harmed" (Merriam-Webster).  Once upon a time in America, people who a reasonable fear of death or violence back in their home countries, were welcomed (to greet in a glad, polite or friendly way [method, style or manner]).  "Give me your tired, your poor.  Your huddled masses () yearning () to breathe free ().  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed () to me (the inscription on the Statue of Liberty)."  In other words: "Compassionate treatment () at the border () is not the same as open () borders (Stacey Abrams, former minority leader for the Georgia House of Representatives, in the Democratic Party rebuttal [] to President Trump's February 5, 2019 State of the Union Address)."  A definition of neo-Nazism is "to employ an ideology to promote hatred and attack minorities".  "That program (of taking Central American children away from their parents) was kept a secret, but in April 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that zero tolerance () would be the new Justice Department policy.  That led to more than 2800 family separations ().  Republicans and Democrats alike called the policy inhumane () and declared that the U.S. should not tear apart () families and detain () children in cages (U.S.A. Today, May 3, 2019)."  Shades (undertones, undercurrents [a hidden opinion], hints or suggestions) of neo-Nazism.  back to top

Indifference to a church.  Millions of people work and live in metropolitan parts of the world.  A skyscraper cross might be something to relate to if interested in any form of spirituality at all.  In corporate America, as an example, what's happening in a church doesn't hold much of an interest for them - these business executives aren't exactly sitting in a pew (a bench placed in a row in a church) on Sunday.  There are more people, as of late all over the world, who have not been in a church except for weddings, funerals, catastrophes (a terrible disaster, or tragic event) or religious holidays.  Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification Surveys, theorizes about the none category: "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before."  The term nones come from when a survey is taken people can check a box called "none", when given a list of possible denominations and faiths.  The concept of "none" is even more obvious in different parts of the globe.  Kosmin's surveys were the first to brand the nones in 1990 when they were 6% of U.S. adults.  By the 2008 survey, nones were up to 15%.  By 2010, the bi-annual General Social Survey pushed the number to 18%.  The Pew Research Center put out a report on May 12, 2015 named America's Changing Religious Landscape.  Cathy Lynn Grossman commented on it: "Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the [Pew] survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations (religious groups - Religious News Service)."

Alan Cooperman, Pew's director of religion research: "Overall, there are more than four former Christians for every convert to Christianity."  The church is going backwards.  The Pew report said that nones were at 22.8% as of 2015.  Nones means no interest in organized religion.  "In the '80s the church and organized religion were the #1" in Gallup's annual look at confidence in institutions, according to Lydia Saad, author of the June 17, 2015 Gallup report.  In 2015, the church ranked fourth place, behind the military, small business and the police.  In the mid-'70s, 7 in 10 Americans had a "great deal or quite a lot" of confidence in organized religion.  Now 42% do.  "The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, delivered an unfathomable (impossible to understand) religious jolt.  Thousands were killed in a cruel, distorted vision of Islam.  A decade later, the response seems fleeting.  Statistically, the rush to the pews was a mere blip in a long-standing trend away from traditional religious practice, according to tracing studies by The Barna Group, a Christian research company.  What's lingering is the spiritual impact revealed when 9/11 stories are recounted through individual recollection of faith reborn, revitalized or reshaped (U.S.A. Today, August 22, 2011)."  Lauren Markoe wrote this for Religion News Service: "Americans as a whole are becoming less religious, but those who still practice a faith are just as committed as they were in the past - in certain respects even more so.  'We should remember that the United States remains a nation of believers with nearly 9 in 10 adults saying they believe in God,' said Gregory Smith, Pew's associate director of research.  The researchers also found that as religiosity in America wanes (to become smaller or less), a more general spirituality is on the rise, with 6 in 10 adults saying they regularly feel a 'deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being', up 7 percentage points since 2007.  Also increasing, the number of people who experienced a 'deep sense of wonder' about the universe, which also jumped 7 percentage points."  Spirituality on the rise might be said to be a worldwide phenomena (something that can be observed and studied).  back to top

Restoring a heart.  USNS Comfort was sent to Haiti on January 13, 2010.  Six days later, more than 450 patients were on on board - people who were crushed under the rubble (broken pieces of stone, brick, etc.), who were sick with infections and nursing diseases made worse by neglect.  What about the long term?  How can these people pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and recover.  To do so, they could be inspired to better their condition.  Will giving money to them, alone, work?  While it helps, they should have more faith in themselves that good things can again happen.  When people lose heart they may live off the government, friends, neighbors, family members.  They can prey on caring people with whom they sponge (someone who gets something from someone else without doing or paying anything in return).  If a cross can remind them that "life is still worth living" and "paradise is still the when you're dead", maybe the can get some heart back.  Van Jones, an African American commentator (a person who analyzes the news) for CNN, commented on the need for "healing [racial] wounds" in America.  Getting your heart back (regaining one's courage - mental or moral strength to withstand danger, fear or difficulty), can be a start.  Other people have been broken, not suffering an aforementioned traumatic event, but something bad has happened.  A beautiful woman is a newspaper reporter, traveling Europe.  She lives a party life in New York City and Chicago.  The roof caves in - she has a nervous breakdown, sits in a mental hospital for a year, becomes an alcoholic, having trouble getting up in the morning.  Circumstances broke her.  She was not suicidal, but lost hope that good thing could happen.  She dies from smoking in bed, in middle age.  This scenario (a description of what could possibly happen) plays itself out in different situations all over the world.  Once broken, she, and others, cannot put the pieces back together.  They are as the walking dead.  These tragedies are a tip of the iceberg.  What about the 60,000,000 dead in World War II, the Holocaust of the Jews, millions of Africans who have starved to death over the past six thousand years, AIDS, the Black Plague in the Middle Ages, various forms of genocide and slavery down through the years such as Rwanda in the 1990s, when almost one million perished, ancient epic battles where thousands died, potential thermonuclear holocaust and on and on.  Is God to blame, or something else?  To believe in a good God, the question should be answered.  The answer...Satan is the culprit (the source or cause of a problem) who wreaks havoc (a situation in which there is much destruction or confusion) all over the known world.  That given, why does God allow Satan to run amok (a murderous frenzy) on the planet.  Being Almighty God, does He sleep?  Or is He unaware of what is happening.  He is aware, but He is also a benevolent dictator who operates for reasons we are unaware of.  Satan is on a leash (the state of being restrained).  Certain people react with "FORGET GOD".  This only makes matters worse, because it lays them open to being locked up forever in eternal prison.  back to top

Yankee imperialism.  America has no fears of doom until. a day when it chooses to establish some form of empireThe Economist (November 23, 2013) comments: "Their (America's) gridlocked government has created a sense that the United States, like Rome before it, has succumbed to decadence (behavior that shows low morals) and petty-mindedness."  But, President Obama said in his address to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly in 2013: "The notion of American empire may be used propaganda (ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated), but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion."  The notion (a personal inclination - whim) of empire comes from the months after 9/11 with such headlines as "The Case for American Empire" (William Kristol's Weekly Standard, October 2001) and magazine covers: "American Empire - Get Used to It" (New York Times Sunday magazine, January 5, 2003).  It was only a half-serious thought, then.  In August 2014, Islamic State militants killed more than 700 Yazidis in Kocho, Iraq.  American airstrikes pushed back, allowing the Yazidi to return.  Doesn't really sound imperialistic (as, for example, Global Research News constantly accuses America of doing), protecting the Yazidi.  Yet according to MSN News: "Human Rights Watch on Thursday (January 12, 2016), released its annual report on threats to human rights around the world, and for the first time in the twenty-seven years it has done these surveys, the United States is one of the biggest."  Someday in the near or far future, America might possibly become somewhat imperialistic (the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations).  The monument is an internet cross in that its focus is online.  It is not really that important people come see it in person - the key is that they can log on anywhere in the world and get a spiritual benefit from it.  There is enough to get anyone, who is interested, into paradise when they are dead.  What about those who want a taste (to have perception, experience or enjoyment) of paradise now, in America, through the drug world - pot (marijuana), crack (cocaine) or meth (methamphetamine).  And Alpha-PVP - a substance that looks like rock salt, reeks (to give off a strong or offensive odor) of ammonia and sells for $100 to $500 per gram.  These are "mind altering" drugs (producing mood changes or distorted perception) that may lay an individual open to Satan.  Theoretically, someone at a pot party could be high as a kite (a toy made of a light frame covered with paper that is flown in the air at the end of a long string), communing (communicating intimately) with Satan, have at that particular moment a cardiac arrest (heart attack), die and wake up in hell.  Not worth the risk - your ecstasy (extreme delight) may become your nightmare (extremely disturbing, appalling, atrocious, awful, dreadful, frightful, ghastly, grisly or gruesome).  back to top

So is God dead.  In the 1960s, in the United States, there was a thought that God is dead.  It was a time of rock music stars like Janice Joplin and Jimmie Hendrix - by some a Higher Power was looked upon as a relic (a trace of some outmoded practice).  The gospel era (in the Christian Bible) of "a sower (farmer) went forth to sow (spreading seed by hand)" seemed to be over.  People did not understand that the world was in a transitional (a change from one state or condition to another) period from the gospels to Revelation, and still is.  As it says concerning the future: "The angel poured out his vial (a small closed vessel for liquids) upon the sea - and it became as the blood of a dead man (i.e. the color of the ocean became blood red), and every living thing in the sea died."  God is not dead, just marking time (doing things that are not particularly useful, while waiting for something more important to happen).  Revelation is, in part, a story of WMD, if an individual wishes to study it.  It is possible that entirely new weapons of mass destruction will be developed in the 21st century that will make the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, over seventy years ago, look like a glorified firecracker (a small paper cylinder filled with an explosive that produces a loud noise).  Back in 1961, for example, the Soviet Union had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world two times over.  "On 30 October 1961, the largest nuclear weapon ever constructed was set off over Novaya Zemlya Island in the Russian Arctic Sea.  The Soviet 'Tsar Bomba' had a yield of 50 megatons, or the power of around 3800 Hiroshima bombs detonated (exploded) simultaneously (at the same time).  While its official designation (title or name) was RDS-220 hydrogen bomb, the Tsar Bomba was given its nickname by the West in an analogy (comparison between other things) with two other huge Russian objects, the Tsar Bell (a 6.14 meter [20 feet] tall, 6.6 meter [22 feet] in diameter, bell in Moscow) and the Tsar Cannon (a 5.94 meter [19.5 feet] long artillery peiece, cast in bronze in 1586 in Moscow), the largest of their kind in the world.  Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had ordered the development of a 100 megaton weapon in July 1961, leaving the engineers only fourteen weeks before the first test.  Unlike normal thermonuclear weapons, the Tsar Bomba comprised (was made up of) a third stage, whereas thermonuclear warheads (explosive or toxic material that is delivered by a missile, rocket or torpedo) usually comprise only two.  By adding more stages, the explosive power of a thermonuclear bomb can theoretically (based on assumption or opinion) be increased indefinitely.  Soviet engineers had reduced the actual yield of 100 megatons by around half to limit fallout (radioactive particles that are carried into the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion, and gradually fall back as dust).  'The ground surface of the island has been leveled, swept and licked (annihilate so completely, as to be nothing left) so that it looks like a skating rink (a smooth extent of ice marked off); the same goes for rocks' - a member of the team [who] surveyed the site after the explosion [said] (CTBTO Preparatory Commission)."  The United States, then, had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world ten times over. 

Fast-forward (progressing quickly) to 2018.  "Kanyon, according to the Heritage Foundation, is a mammoth 100-megaton nuclear device carried by an unmanned submarine.  This monster [Russian] weapon is designed to detonate on the U.S. West Coast, destroying the ports of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The device is reportedly covered with cobalt (a chemical element that is a hard silver-white metal), for maximum radioactive effect.  A similar device launched (sent through the water) from the Atlantic Ocean would devastate the U.S. East Coast.  But in fact any serious nuclear exchange between the great powers (Russia and America) would be a death sentence (a disastrous result or outcome, an affliction or situation that is considered to be fatal) for the entire planet, wrapping (covering or surrounding) us in a lethal (fatal) shroud (a thing that envelops [completely encloses]) of nuclear winter (a period of abnormal cold and darkness predicted to follow a nuclear war, caused by a layer of smoke and dust in the atmosphere blocking the sun's rays).  Anyone who thinks a nuclear war can be waged without permanently polluting our planet should be put under psychiatric care (RussiaFeed, January 30, 2018)."  This may be disinformation (information intended to mislead), but, according to Aerospace Daily & Defense Report: "The Russian doomsday (the last day of the world's existence) torpedo (cigar-shaped self-propelled underwater missile) recently acknowledged by the Pentagon appears to be a multi-megaton 'third strike' (the ability of a nuclear power to launch a third debilitating [impairing the strength of] nuclear strike) weapon designed for maximum radioactive fallout.  Described by the [U.S.] Defense Department as a 'new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo', its development was first revealed in 2015 when a diagram of an ocean-going vessel leaked to the press.  [It's a] 'multi-purpose Status-6 system' (an oceanic design), codenamed Kanyon by NATO (January 24, 2018)."  And, third: "The Pentagon quietly acknowledged that Russia is developing a 'Status-6' system for the first time ever on Friday (February 2) with a 74-page report.  The Nuclear Posture Review described a 'new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undesea autonomous (carried on without outside control) torpedo,' which could be deployed from beneath a submarine.  The torpedo could feasibly (possibly do so easily) travel undetected (not observed or noticed) for thousands of miles underwater, before unleashing radioactive fallout on coastal (land near a shore) cities in the U.S. (New York Daily News, February 3, 2018)." 

And, fourth: "Status 6, also known as Kanyon, is a purported (claimed to be) nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle developed or being developed by the Russian Federation.  It would supposedly (held as an opinion) be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatons against an enemy's naval ports and coastal cities.  Status 6 appears to be a deterrent weapon (a weapon designed to stop other weapons) of last resort (final course of action).  It appears to be a torpedo-shaped robotic (a mechanical device that operates automatically) mini-submarine which can travel at a top speed of 100 km/h (54 kn), with a range of 10,000 km (6200 miles) and a depth maximum of 1000 meters (3300 feet).  This underwater drone (unmanned ship guided by remote control) is cloaked (something that conceals) by stealth technology (use of advanced design and specialized materials to make a submarine difficult or impossible to detect) to elude (evade or escape from) acoustic tracking (relating to sound to allow the detection) devices.  Its size appears to be l.6 meters (5.25 feet) in diameter, and 24 meters (79 feet) long (Wikipedia)."  Why cobalt?  According to what Leo Szilard, a Hungarian physicist at the University of Chicago and one of the principal architects of the atomic bomb, said almost seventy years ago, in 1950: "Such bombs could be salted with cobalt.  This would lead to the production of gamma-ray emitting (sending out of a beam) contamination (make something less pure, or make it poisonous) which - because of the long half-life of cobalt-60 (decay, to half potency, of radioactive atoms - five years for cobalt) - would leave vast areas uninhabitable for years (www.telegraph.co.uk, December 15, 2004)."  Salting with cobalt means, according to the Nuclear Weapon Archive (1998): "A 'salted' nuclear weapon is reminiscent (reminding one) of fission-fusion-fission weapons, but instead of a fissionable jacket (outer sleeve) around the secondary stage fusion fuel, a non-fissionable blanket (completely covered with a thick layer) of a specially chosen salting isotope (such as cobalt) is used.  This blanket captures the escaping fusion neutrons to breed a radioactive isotope that maximizes the fallout hazard (short lived radioactive particles) from the weapon rather than generating additional force." 

Then this was written by William L. Laurence, almost sixty-five years ago.  "The new chemical compound that has revolutionized the production of the hydrogen bomb now makes it certain that the most dreaded weapon of all - the cobalt bomb - also can be successfully built.  The cobalt bomb is a hydrogen bomb of the type tested successfully at the Eniwetok Proving Grounds in the Pacific, March 1 and 26 (1954).  The principal difference is the material of the shell (a hard, protective outer case) surrounding the active ingredients.  Instead of a shell of steel, which becomes only mildly radioactive as it runs into a cloud of vapor (a flammable destructive explosion), a shell of cobalt encases (encloses or covers) the fission and fusion substances.  On being vaporized in the explosion, it is transformed in a deadly radioactive cloud 320 times more powerful than radium (a strongly radioactive element - New York Times, April 7, 1954)."  And from Slate: "Cobalt hits a sweet spot (an optimum [most favorable] combination of qualities) - it fires off (sends immediately) just enough radioactivity upfront (in advance) to kill you, or at least cause serious cancers, but holds onto enough reserves (materials set aside for future use) to make wherever the cobalt rain settles (lands and subsides) inhospitable (providing no shelter or sustenance) for future generations, too.  Calculations (mathematical determinations) made in 1950 hinted that sprinkling one-tenth of an ounce of cobalt-60 on every square mile of - admittedly, a lot of cobalt overall (taken as a whole) - would wipe out the human race (humanity), a nuclear version of the cloud that killed the dinosaurs (July 27, 2010)."  The name changed, six months later.  "Russia’s dreaded nuclear torpedo, designed to nuke entire coastal cities into oblivion and trigger tsunamis, has been sighted in tests at sea.  Once thought a hoax, internet researchers have tracked development of the system all the way back to 2008.  The weapon was recently named “Poseidon” after the Russian military polled the public for a new name.  The weapon, formerly known as “Status-6” and KANYON, was recently renamed Poseidon.  Poseidon beat out two other names, Aurora and Skif, in a naming contest held by the Russian Ministry of Defense.  Unfortunately The Worst Weapon Ever was not part of the contest, but it should have won handily (Popular Mechanics, July 24, 2018)."

"Russia will deploy what's been described as the deadliest nuclear weapon ever aboard mysterious submarines by 2020, Russian state media said, citing a Russian defense-industry source.  The Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo - reputed to carry a 100 megaton nuclear warhead and meant to erupt underwater for maximum effect - will reportedly deploy aboard the Project 09852 sub Belgorod, which is a converted nuclear-powered cruise-missile sub expected to go on combat duty in 2020.  The Russian state news agency TASS said the new Belgorod subs could carry six of the Poseidon nuclear torpedoes, which are sometimes described as drones.  But Russia will reportedly not operate the mysterious submarine alongside its regular armed forces or other nuclear-powered subs.  The Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research will run the ship, according to H.I. Sutton, who said the Belgorod would conduct covert missions with a smaller submarine in tow.  'Russia operates a small number of very small, nuclear-powered submarines that are capable of diving in excess of several thousand meters,' Andrew Metrick, a research associate in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in 2016.  'It's probably the most shadowy part of the Russian undersea apparatus,' he added. The new Belgorod submarine is 'not operated by their navy.  It's operated by a separate branch of their ministry of defense,' Metrick said.  Russian President Vladimir Putin initially announced the Poseidon in a March 1, 2018, speech, in which he said US defenses could not stop it.  In that speech, Putin confirmed the existence of the Poseidon.  The US and other countries field nuclear-powered submarines capable of firing nuclear missiles, but the Poseidon represents a unique danger to life on earth.  Most nuclear weapons seek to minimize radioactive fallout and simply destroy military targets. Russia took the opposite approach with the Poseidon.  The weapon is said to use a warhead, perhaps the strongest ever, designed to come into direct contact with water, marine animals, and the ocean floor, kicking up a radioactive tsunami that could spread deadly radiation over thousands of miles of land and sea, and render them uninhabitable for decades.  Russia has also repeatedly threatened the US and Europe with the weapon, which it said it could park off a coast and detonate at a time of its choosing (Business Insider, March 12, 2019)."

The Book of Revelation is neither fairy tale (a simple children's story) nor fantasy (something that is produced by the imagination), but an accurate depiction (to describe something using words) of the possible results of thermonuclear (relating to the changes in the nucleus of atoms that happen at extremely high temperatures) war, whether it be from cobalt bombs, or various other forms of weapons of mass destruction - men gnawing (to bite or chew on something repeatedly) their tongues for pain, one third of the planet being annihilated (destroyed completely), the fish in the oceans dead, the moon turning blood red (in color) and etc.  What is to come has changed attitudes.  Young adults less devoted faith - study shows steady drift from church life is the title of a front-page article on April 27, 2010, U.S.A. Today.  "Most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.  If the trends continue, 'the millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,' says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources.  It surveyed 1200 members of the 18- to 29-year-old millennial generation and found 72% say they're 'really more spiritual than religious' (persons of faith outside the church).  "The survey has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.  Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, 'many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,' Rainer says.  'Most are just indifferent.  The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.'  Key overall findings in the survey, released today - 65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either; 65% rarely or never attend worship services; 67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts."  "As a generation, millennials are unimpressed by organized anything, let alone organized religion (The Economist, November 23, 2013)."  A recent Pew study found that nearly 40% of these people report no religious affiliation.  Spiritually, a generation has been thrown to the dogs, especially those living in our big cities. 

R.G. Wilson, from Vancouver, Washington makes a point: "Henry Brinton, pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia, wants millennials to read the Bible.  If millennials do start reading the Bible, chances are they will do so with their minds engaged, not closed, and if so, they will certainly see at least some of the many contradictory, incredulous and inhumane passages contained therein.  Throughout, one is urged to accept what the Bible says without question.  It is unsettling that so many people accept this wholesale, not giving it any amount of serious thought.  Science says something?  Give me 100% proof!  Religion says something?  Don't question, just believe.  My advice for the pastor - be careful what you wish for.  Millennials may well prove to be smarter than that."  First of all, you don't a Bible to get into paradise - you can get there through a tree if you wish.  The challenge is to deal with your post-death problem.  This is hard for the young because they may believe they can live for a very long time on this earth.  Contradictory - the Book says when you are dead, you will live (which one is it).  Incredulous - later the Book speaks of a second death (isn't one enough).  Inhumane - then the Book talks about tossing people into a blackness of darkness forever (isn't that sweet).  And, shock upon shock, the Book is full of all kind (types or manner) of more contradictory, incredulous and inhumane passages (a section of a written work).  From Dr. Eben Alexander's book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, after he contacted a case of severe E coli bacterial meningitis: "In the final moments before leaving the emergency room and after two straight hours of guttural (formed or pronounced in the throat) animal wails and groans, I became quiet.  Then, out of nowhere, I shouted there words.  They were crystal clear, and heard by all the doctors and nurses present, as well by Holly [the wife], who stood a few paces away, just on the other side of the curtain.  'God help me.'"  He attended an Episcopal church with the family on Christmas and Easter.  At death's door it was not a game. 

Here's another "spin" on things hard to understand.  Jack Thurman, in Sunday Humor: "1) God just exists - forever.  2) God decides to create stuff.  3) God touches off the Big Bang.  4) God creates the earth.  5)  God creates dinosaurs.  6) God kills dinosaurs.  7) God creates mankind.  8) God meddles (to become involved in the activities and concerns of other people) wildly in the affairs of humans in a small part of the entire earth for about 1500 years, including giving one tribal society rules to live by and helping them defeat their enemies.  9) God later comes back to earth in human form to preach for 33 years before dying a bloody death meant to serve as atonement (reparation for an offense or injury) for the flaws inherent in all humans.  10) God ceases direct contact with humanity for the next 2000 years, leaving us with only an arbitrarily cobbled-together collection of metaphorical and contradictory revelations as our instructions for achieving eternal bliss."  Sounds like Thurman describes a benevolent (kind and generous) dictator (an entity that rules with total authority), and forgot to mention Revelation - which speaks of mutually assured destruction (MAD).  Will his "ten points" help him deal with the Grim Reaper, when he comes?  In the Book of Enoch, written by different Jewish authors between 250 BC and 50 BC, it says: "In the vision (a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation) the winds were causing me to fly and rushing me high up into heaven, and I kept coming until I approached a wall.  I entered into the house, which was hot like fire and cold like ice, so I observed and saw inside it a lofty (elevated in status) throne.  The Great Glory was sitting upon it - as for His gown (a loose piece of clothing that is worn over other clothes during an official event by a judge, a priest, etc.), which was shining more brightly than the sun, it was whiter than any snow."  This has similarities (many qualities in common) to the entity (one that has real and independent existence) described in the Book of Revelation, and to the Being of Light encountered (to come upon or experience, especially unexpectedly) by people in their near-death experiences.  back to top

Second death.  The chapter "The Second Death" from Horse Creek may aid in an understanding of what Thurman said.  "There are many near-death accounts that verify that there is 'something' beyond the grave.  From At Death's Window, by A.S. Genova: 'I looked up and saw an incredible light - crystal-clear and brighter than the sun, but you could look right into it without hurting your eyes.  Inside the light was the figure of a man with his hand held out to me, radiating so much love.  It was the most beautiful feeling I've ever experienced.  I never wanted to leave.'  From Heading Toward Omega, by Kenneth Ring: 'As I reached the source of the light I could see in.  I cannot begin to describe in human terms the feeling I had at what I saw.  It was a giant infinite world of calm and love and energy and beauty.'  From Return from Death, by Margot Grey: "I went forward towards the light and as I did so I had such a feeling of freedom and joy, it's beyond words to explain.  I had a boundless sense of expansion.'  From Do Suicide Survivors Report Death Experiences, by Kenneth Ring and S. Franklin: 'Vision was clear, everything that was there stood out...The colors had brilliance, while this person had a brilliance or an aura about him...It was probably the happiest I've ever been.  And as for the skeptics - going through an experience like that, afterwards it puts a belief into you that no matter what anybody says or whoever tries to disqualify these, it will never hold up with me because I believe I have seen something of where I'm eventually going.'  Are these people lying?  Some, maybe, but not all.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a 12th century Buddhist work, comments, 'Be not fond of the dull, smoke-colored light from hell.'  A lot of people say, 'I don't want to be heaven with those church hypocrites.'  Unfortunately, those church hypocrites will be in hell, where they will torment and vex you forever. 

heaven

"From Reflections on Life After Life, R.A. Moody: 'These bewildered people?  I don't know exactly where I saw them...But as I was going by, there was this area that was dull - this is in contrast to all the brilliant light...they had sad, depressed looks; they seemed to shuffle, as someone would on a chain gang...As I went by they didn't even raise their heads to see what was happening.  They seemed to be thinking: Well, it's all over with.  What am I doing?  What's it all about?  Just this absolute crushed, hopeless demeanor - not knowing what to do or where to go or who they were or anything.'  From Beyond Death's Door, by Maurice Rawlings: 'The only thing I remember was passing out into blackness and then I saw these red snakes crawling all over me.  I couldn't get away from them.  I would throw one of them off and then another one would get on me.  It was horrible.  Finally, I was dragged down to the ground by something and then other crawling things started getting on me.  Some looked like red jelly.  I screamed and cried out, but no one paid any attention to me.  I had the impression there were many other people in the same fix all around me.  It sounded like human voices and some of them were screaming.  It was reddish black in there and hazy and hard to see.  Although my chest hurt real bad, I remember how glad I was to wake up and get out of that place.  I was sure glad to see my family.'"  Does anybody really want to want to shuffle (sliding of feet along the ground without lifting them completely) on a chain gang, or deal with slimy red snakes forever?  back to top

shimmering cross

 A church mess.  The present church system is wanting (not up to standards).  A Pew poll taken in August 2007 has stated that while 40% of Americans attend church, 94% believe in a Higher Power.  The belief hasn't changed in 2014: "More than 90% of Americans believe in God (U.S.A. Today, January 2, 2014)."  "Even in the wake of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution, many of us believe in heaven - 85% of all Americans, according to Gallup.  Most of us are apparently confident - or at least say we are - that life does not end at the grave.  Seeing heaven as the world beyond this one can offer powerful comfort (Time, April 16, 2012)."  There is a higher percentage of persons of faith who don't do church.  Too many money, sex and satanic scandals in the United States have had a corrosive (bitingly sarcastic) effect on the reputation of the clergy, compounded by their judgmental (judging people too quickly) manner.  Too many church people are neurotic (always fearful or worried about something) flakes (markedly odd) who reject those whom they deem undesirables (unwanted).  They go on petty moral crusades against those who have done virtually nothing to them.  It is a good moment to remember that an authentic (real or genuine) belief in God is a personal matter, and almost half of all Americans cannot find God in church.  "All of which is to say something so obvious it is almost taboo (not acceptable to talk about) - Christianity itself is in crisis.  It seems no accident that so many Christians now embrace materialist self-help rather than ascetic (a strict and simple way of living) self-denial - or that most Catholics, even regular church-goers, have tuned out the hierarchy (a group that controls an organization) in embarrassment or disgust.  Given this crisis, it is no surprise that the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism, which has leapt in popularity in the new millennium (a period of 1000 years).  Nor is it a shock that so many have turned away from organized Christianity and toward spirituality, or adapting the practices of meditation or yoga, or wandering as lapsed Catholics in an an inquisitive spiritual desert (Newsweek, April 9, 2012)."  A Catholic educator, Sue Farrell: "I am a cradle (a place where something begins) Catholic and have taught in a Catholic school for 30 years.  I am also what people call a cafeteria (providing a selection from which a choice may be made) Catholic, believing in the things that make sense to me.  The church is out of touch with the times, and that is why young people and young families are leaving in droves (a large group of people)."  The church needs a new system, in the 21st century.  back to top

July 4.  It is named American Cross, as a third reason, because it symbolizes America's peculiar form (something unlike others) of spirituality.  If it was called International Cross it would mean Russian Orthodoxy, Italian Catholicism, American Protestantism and etc.  If it was called Millennium Cross it would mean 2000 years of Christianity, to include the Crusades of the Middle Ages where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were slaughtered.  If it was called Holy Cross, it is redundant (repeating something else).  Other countries can do their own cross, i.e. - the Russian Cross, the French Cross, the Australian Cross and etc.  "During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.  After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author.  Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4.  A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail: 'The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch (period of time important in history) in the history of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.'  Adams' prediction was off by two days.  From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed in a closed session of Congress (Wikipedia)."  back to top

Founding Fathers.  A root of that spirituality is the belief system of the Founding Fathers.  Their system may be regarded as a relic (a surviving trace of something) of another era (a period identified by a characteristic feature - as an age, period, time).  The horror (a strong feeling of fear and shock) of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) as characterized in the book of Revelation, and is played out (develop, unfold) in Hollywood movies, may hold more of an interest to the present generation.  Nonetheless, history may still teach things.  George Washington: "Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties, and actuated through the whole course of my public life solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country; yet, without the beneficial interposition (actions whereby sovereignty is placed between itself and people) of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity.  To Him, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of His special favors (letter to John Adams, 1797)."  Thomas Jefferson: "God who gave us life gave us liberty.  And can the liberties of a nation be though secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath.  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and His justice cannot sleep forever (Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia)."  James Madison: "A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown (great fame and respect) and bliss (complete happiness) here, we neglect to have our names enrolled (entered as a member of something) in the Annals (a record of events) of Heaven (letter to William Bradford, November 9, 1772)."  Benjamin Franklin: "I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men (address at the Constitutional Convention, July 28, 1787)."  Thomas Paine: "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.  Where say some, is the king of America?  I'll tell you, friend, He reigns above (Common Sense, 1776)."  But, times have changed.  According to Samuel Alito, U.S. Supreme Court Justice: "A government that roams the land (travel without a fixed purpose or direction)...scrubbing away (to remove by rubbing hard) any reference to the Divine (the Unseen) will strike many (one understands or is aware of) as [being] aggressively hostile (inimical, antagonistic, unfavorable and unfriendly) to religion."  Not only that, but according to the New York Times Opinion: "The myth (a widely held but false belief or idea) of America as the greatest nation on earth is at best outdated (no longer current - outmoded) and at worst, wildly inaccurate (erroneous, faulty or imperfect).  If you look at data (facts and statistics collected together), the U.S. is really just O.K. (July 2, 2019)."  The Urban Dictionary gives us the root of O.K.  "OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages.  Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts.  OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date.  During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses.  Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor.  OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct.back to top

In God We Trust.  Not everything is scrubbed.  From Wikipedia: "In God We Trust was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956.  The phrase has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957...The final stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner, written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, contains an early reference to a variation of the phrase: 'And this be our motto: In God is our trust'...The United States Code - 36 U.S.C. 302 now states: 'In God we Trust is the national motto'...The motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: 'It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency - In God We Trust - has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion'...In Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court has also held that the nation's institutions presuppose a Supreme Being' and that government recognition of God does not constitute a state church."  What does In God We Trust mean in this day and time.  New York Governor George Pataki's remarks to the Joint Session of the State Legislature on September 13, 2001: "Today we join together as a state, as as a nation, to pray for the victims, on one of the darkest days in American history.  We pray for the children who will go to bed this evening without their mothers and fathers.  We pray for the mothers and fathers who've lost the children they loved.  We pray for the husbands and wives who will return to empty homes.  And we know as Americans that God's light will again shine across this land."  President George W. Bush at a memorial service on September 14, 2001, at the the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.: "On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask Almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come.  We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow.  We thank Him for each life we now must mourn and the promise of a life to come."  That was in 2001.  Nowadays, situations have arisen.  At the Burning Man festival, almost anything goes, when 70,000 persons gather in the Nevada desert.  According to one observer: "Organizers create and encourage a freewheeling (free and loose - not held back by rules) experience in which many people take illegal drugs, and casual sex is not only common but widely condoned (to approve something to continue)."  The site's temple is set ablaze (on fire) as the last major act of a week-long festival.  back to top

National Day of Prayer.  Other nations may look at the Day as a joke (to cause amusement or laughter), however in the United States it has been observed on the first Thursday of May, since 1952.  In that year, President Truman approved Public Law 324, which read: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a national Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God."  In 1997, President Clinton proclaimed, shortly before the Day: "America was born out of intense conflict as our forefathers fought the forces of oppression and tyranny.  From our earliest history, Americans have always looked to God for strength and encouragement in those moments when darkness seemed to encroach (gradually move in) from every side.  Our people have always believed in the power of prayer and have called upon the name of the Lord through times of peace and war, hope and despair, prosperity and decline.  In his first inaugural address, during the rush of optimism that followed the Colonies' uplifting victory in the American Revolution, George Washington observed that 'it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe.'  Amid the bleak turmoil of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln conveyed similar sentiments by calling Americans to 'a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land.'  Almost a century later, Harry Truman emphasized the need for God's help in making decisions: 'When we are striving to strengthen the foundations of peace and security we stand in special need of Divine support.'  Indeed, the familiar phrase 'In God we trust', which has been our national motto for more than 40 years and which first appeared on our coinage during the Civil War, is a fitting testimony to the prayers offered up by American women and men through the centuries.  Today within our nation's Capitol Building, a stained glass window depicts General Washington humbly kneeling and repeating the words of the 16th Psalm, 'Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.'"  back to top

American Civil Religion.  John F. Kennedy's inaugural address (first speech made by a president) of January 20, 1961, serves as an example.  "The world is very different now.,  For man holds in his mortal hands (the world in our hands) the power to abolish (formally put an end to) all forms of human poverty and to abolish all forms of human life (showing the tangibility of a nuclear war).  And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears (ancestors) fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of Man come not from the generosity of the state (government) but from the hand of God."  Benjamin Franklin writes in his autobiography: "I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity - that He made the world and governed (ruled) it by His Providence (the Divine hand), that the most acceptable service (many things which are absolutely needful) of God was the doing of good to men, that our souls are immortal (living forever), that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded (thinking and doing what is right) either here (on earth) or [in the] Hereafter (Judgment Day)."  We find American Civil Religion in George Washington's first inaugural address of April 30, 1789.  "It would be peculiarly (unusual) improper to omit (leave out or exclude) in this first official act my fervent supplications (to make humble entreaty [attempt to persuade]) to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides (to be in a position of authority) in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids (the Unseen's intervention) can supply every defect (deficiency, weakness or inadequacy), that His benediction may consecrate (make or declare sacred) to the liberties (self-determination) and happiness of the people of the United States." 

The phrase civil religion comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  In chapter 8, book 4 of The Social Contract (1762), he outlines the points of civil (relating to people who live in a country) religion - 1) the existence of God, 2) the life to come, 3) the reward of virtue (conformity to a standard of "right") and the punishment of vice (moral depravity or corruption), and 4) the exclusion of religious intolerance.  Legislative prayers have a long history, from 1774 through the 21st century.  Jacob Duche, 1774: "Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the council of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation...that order, harmony (internal calm) and peace may be effectually restored."  And Senate chaplain Barry Black, during the government shutdown, October 13, 2013: "God of all creative possibilities, help our lawmakers turn this impasse (a situation in which no progress seems possible) into a bypass (a procedure done to allow blood to flow) so that the heart of our nation may beat vibrantly and strong."  Even the U.S. Supreme Court opens its sessions with the invocation "God save the United States and this honorable court".  Robert N. Bellah wrote an essay, Civil Religion in America in 1966.  "The words and acts of the Founding Fathers, especially the first few presidents, shaped the form (structure, format) and tone (choice of words) of the civil religion as it has been maintained ever since.  Though much is selectively derived (characterized by choice and obtained from a specified source) from Christianity, this religion is clearly not itself Christianity.  For one thing, neither Washington nor Adams nor Jefferson mentions Christ in his inaugural address; nor do any of the subsequent presidents, although not one of them fails to mention God."  The philosophy (the study of ideas) of American Cross Global is rooted (the basic cause, source or origin) in this.  back to top

The hate of the world.  Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address given November 19, 1863 after the battle of Gettysburg, Penn. in the Civil War: "...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."  Dealing with the hate of the world toward the United States is a rough assignment (difficult task).  It contributes to family breakups, student shootings, illegal drug usage.  The United States lashed out at that hate by invading other countries, but that does not stop currents of malevolent (a desire to cause harm to another person) spite.  Hate, like love, is something you can't see, can't physically touch, but it has its effect.  Americans can be good people.  Some foreigners will not understand it.  In Iran there may be hate because the poor died in a frigid (very cold in temperature) winter, while in America the Salvation Army gives a hot meal and a cot (a small collapsible bed) to anyone in need.  In Russia there may be hate because the press can be restricted (kept under control), while in the U.S. it is wide open (having virtually no limits or restrictions).  In North Korea there may be hate because some lack basic necessities (food, clothing and shelter), while in America there basically (in most essential respects) is plenty.  There was a day when two oceans isolated the United States from those who hate.  But in the 21st century internet, jet travel, telecommunications have removed a natural boundary.  Winning hearts and minds (strategy and programs used by governments to win popular support) doesn't work with hard-core (the most active or committed members of a group or movement) haters, and you can't bomb everybody.  A monument tells another side to America, that the country still has some core values (fundamental beliefs of a person or organization).  back to top

An American spirit.  A fourth reason for the name American Cross is that of inspiring people to rebuild an American spirit.  Gregg Rochman, a construction developer in Louisville, Kentucky, said this.  "An American is inclusive (designed or inclined to include) and accepting (regard as true, give credence to) of others, fortunate and honored to have the privilege (a right granted as a peculiar benefit) of living in our truly great and abundant country.  We have a land with vast resources and a people capable of anything.  Our advantages are used for the good of the planet and all its creatures - all people, all living things.  Currently (at the present time), however, Americans are divided (disagree or cause to disagree) from one another.  We do not do everything in our power to house (provide with shelter or living quarters) the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe [those in] the cold, [and] educate the poor (Louisville Courier Journal)."  In the Aurora, Illinois workplace () shooting on February 15, 2019, four police officers wounded.  "Every police officer dreads days like this one, yet these four courageous Aurora officers and their colleagues () did not hesitate () to literally put their lives on the line () today to stop further bloodshed ().  These four heroes () willingly ran into harm's way () to protect their fellow citizens and very nearly paid the ultimate price ().  We Illinoisans should be humbly gratefully for their sacrifice (), and we ask that you join us in praying that the injured civilians and police officers make a full and speedy recovery ( - Illinois Fraternal Order () of Police State lodge () President Chris Southwood)."  That spirit comes out from time to time.  "For those outside its path, the most enduring memories of Hurricane Harvey could be the images of America as most Americans like to think of it - a black deputy sheriff wading (walk through something that makes it hard to move) through floodwaters with a white child in each arm; a white SWAT officer, also wading through floodwaters, carrying a Vietnamese American cradling (holding delicately and gently) her sleeping baby; three Asian and Hispanic constables (peace officers with limited policing authority), knee-deep in water, carrying an elderly woman in a wheelchair (U.S.A. Today, August 31, 2017)." 

Immigrants (persons who come to live permanently in a foreign country) coming in from all over the world contribute (give to achieve something together).  Noah Trevor is the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.  "I grew up in South Africa during apartheid (a policy or system of segregation or discrimination based on grounds of race).  Black people lived in separate areas from white people.  They had different rules.  They were segregated (separate or set apart from others).  This was particularly tough for me, because I grew up in a mixed family, with me being the mixed one.  My mother is a black woman, Xhosa woman (Bantu ethnic group), from South Africa.  My father is Swiss from Switzerland and a white man.  They got together during apartheid, which was against the law, and they had me.  Despite that - or maybe because of that - I grew up surrounded by optimism (an inclination to put the most favorable opinion upon actions or events - to anticipate the best possible outcome): the ability to see the potential no one else could see, at a time when no one had the right to see it.  My mother was full of optimism."  Immigrants in the 1880s and 1920s brought a lot of positive things into America, and they may help again.  "Each American generation passes the torch (giving light or guidance) of truth, liberty and justice in an unbroken chain (make your own meaning of what is around you) all the way down to the present [time].  And we will use it to light up the world.  We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William 'Ryan' Owens.  Ryan died as he lived - a warrior and a hero.  And Ryan is looking down, right now - you know that - and he is very happy.  But we know that America is better off when there is less conflict, not more.  We must learn from the mistakes of the past.  We have seen the war and the destruction that has ravaged (the severe damaging) and raged (boiling over with furious intensity) throughout the world - all across the world.  The only long term (occurring over a long period of time) solution for these humanitarian disasters, in many cases, is to create the conditions where displaced (forced to leave their home country because of war) persons can safely return home and begin the long, long process of rebuilding (build again after what's been destroyed).  America is willing to find new friends, and to forge (make by concentrated effort) new partnerships (association of two or more nations), where shared interests align (you support them because you have the same political aim).  We want harmony (agreement or concord [of one mind]) and stability (being sane and sensible through strength, security and safety), not war and conflict.  We want peace, wherever peace can be found. 

"The time for trivial (lacking importance - foolish and frivolous) fights is behind us.  We just need the courage to share the dreams (things that one hopes or intends to accomplish) that fill our hearts (heart shaped cravings to fill our shadow selves).  The bravery to express (make known) the hopes that stir our souls.  And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action - inspired (filled with courage or strength of purpose) by the future, not bound (chained) by the failures of the past - and guided (direct influence on the course of action) by our vision (concern or preparation for the future), not blinded (deprive someone of understanding, judgment or perception) by our doubts (a feeling that one doesn't know the truth).  I am asking all to embrace this renewal (the act of bringing something something back to life) of an American spirit (President Trump, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress)."  In the words of Ophelia M. Chambliss, artist and teacher, commenting on an American spirit: "It means being a part of something that is big, something that has an unending potential for growth.  It means having the hope that you are a part of a global initiative - that no matter where you start, there is a potential for greatness."  On July 14, 2015 in St. Louis, Mo., a policeman was ambushed doing a side job providing security at night for a business.  He had taken off his bulletproof vest due to the heat.  He later noticed some individuals loitering (to remain in an area for no good reason).  He said, "A voice told me to grab my vest.  I know it was God."  He did, and these persons started firing weapons.  His car was hit at least fourteen times.  The vest stopped a bullet near his ribs.  Native Americans labeled a root of that "something" - THE GREAT SPIRIT.  That something saved a man's life.  Stephen Prothero, chairman of the Department of Religion at Boston University, said, "A survey released in 2006 by Baylor University found that almost two-thirds (63%) of Americans who claim no religious affiliation believe in God...The data tells us that Christians are increasingly likely to describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious, that they are increasingly wary (not having trust in someone or something) of labels and institutions, and that they identify their faith less and less with 'organized religion'."  There is talk of a separation of State (National) and church (Cathedral).  "In 1792, Pierre L'Enfant's 'Plan of the Federal City' set aside land for a 'great church for national purposes'...Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000, and ended 83 years later when the last finial (a crowning ornament) was placed in the presence of President George H.W. Bush in 1990...Congress has designated the Washington National Cathedral as the 'National House of Prayer'.  During World War II, monthly services were held there 'on behalf of a united people in a time of emergency' (Wikipedia)."  National shrines are a part of a culture (the beliefs, customs, arts, etc. of a particular society).

The soul of America has been quaking (to shake from shock or instability) ever since Vietnam.  Indirectly, the Chinese affected it.  Directly, China did nothing, but America trespassed (committed an offense against a set of rules) into its backyard.  In that war, America feared doing a 100% offense (occupying North Vietnam) so as to not antagonize (incur or provoke the hostility of) the Chinese.  So, the young people's spirit was sapped (to weaken or exhaust the energy of) fighting a defensive war that could not be won.  They went from being "gung ho (extremely excited and enthusiastic about doing something)" to "hell no, we won't go" and "hey, hey LBJ (President Johnson) how many kids have you killed today".  A favorite song of the day was: "Well, it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?  Well you know, I don't give a damn, next stop is Vietnam."  Although China is America's trading partner today, damage was done then.  As tragic as Vietnam was, it is all relative (significant only in relation to something else).  In the Battle of Stalingrad (Russia) from August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943 - approximately six months, 478,741 Russian soldiers died.  The troops were told by their commander: "Not one step back."  It became a major turning point in World War II.  After the war, Russia under communism did attack America with Marxism.  During the Cold War, which went on for forty years, Russia attempted to sabotage (the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately) the system.  Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State continue the sabotage with, among other things, chants of "death to America" and "the great Satan".  The idea is to cause people to become indifferent (unconcerned, uncaring or uninterested).  So a purpose of the American Cross is to bring the country into more of a balance (having a right amount which leads to harmony) between spirituality and materialism.  A century ago, Americans were excited about being Americans.  As Theodore Roosevelt stated in his speech The Right of the People to Rule, given on March 20, 1912 at Carnegie Hall in New York City: "We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate (destined to happen) of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve (finding answers or solutions) is dimmed (a lack of light, hope or knowledge)."

Lincoln also said in the Gettysburg Address: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  Adam Smith, in 1776, described the natural force (invisible pressure) that guides free market capitalism through competition as the invisible hand.  So, the American spirit is the combination of the political (liberty), the social (all men created equal) and the economic (free markets).  In other words, a system that the world, off and on, tries to wreck.  The Cross breaks the power of evil - it's a weapon capable to destroying evil.  To say that evil is more powerful than the Cross is an insult to the Cross - Hell has no power.  The power of good that triumphed on the Cross is the power we can possess in these days when evil spawns fear and terror.  After the vehicle attack near Westminster Abbey, London on March 22, 2017, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said this in the Sunday Telegraph.  "Each attack confirms again the role that the Internet is playing in serving as a conduit (a channel) inciting (encouraging unlawful behavior) and inspiring (causing something to happen) violence, and spreading extremist ideology of all kinds."  If the material on the American Cross web page ever becomes common knowledge (something known by many people), then it may go part of the way of sabotaging (destroying, damaging or obstructing) that ideology.  It's not just an American spirit, as we live in an interconnected world (interdependent and interlocked as nations) in the 21st century.  Over There was a victory song a century ago.  "Over there, over there (France, WWI), send the word, send the word over there - that the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming.  So prepare, say a prayer, send the word, send the word to beware.  We'll be over, we're coming over, and we won't come back 'til it's over, over there."  Adapting (change something to suit different conditions) the message to a situation in the 21st century is a start.  "A handful of Ahiska Turks, a stateless ethnic minority that was granted refugee status to escape persecution in Russia, resettled in Dayton [Ohio] in 2006, lured by cheap housing and solid jobs.  They told friends that neighbors were tolerant of their Muslim faith.  In old North Dayton, it's easy to spot the newcomers.  Over the past few years, about 3000 Turkish refugees have settled here and set about rebuilding this blighted neighborhood.  Decaying houses with weed-choked lawns are giving way to tidy dwellings with colorful paint jobs.  As his minivan winds through the streets, businessman Islom Shakhbandarov points out the white picket fences the Turks favor - a sign that they have achieved the American Dream.  'This,' he says from the front seat, 'is the Ellis Island of our region' (Time, June 16, 2014)." 

A restoration may have have already begun.  Concerning 9/11, Brad Todd said: "United Flight 93 did not hit a building.  It did not kill anyone on the ground.  Why?  Because it had informed Americans on board who'd had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction (to make ineffective or neutralize).  Dead, yes.  Murderous, yes.  But successful?  No."  Business Insider did a story on Kyle Carpenter, in 2014 awarded a Medal of Honor for heroism.  "'I wasn't gonna make it.  I had come to terms that I was gonna die, and I was very sure of that.'  Those thoughts raced through Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter's head in the moments after he dove on top of a Taliban grenade, taking the brunt of the blast and saving the life of his best friend.  Covered in blood, Carpenter's vision was fading.  Shrapnel had torn into his face and taken his right eye.  With his eardrums ruptured, he couldn't hear anything except loud ringing.  'I thought about my family and how devastated they would be that I was killed in Afghanistan and never made it home,' Carpenter, 24, told me (Paul Szoldra) of the 2010 incident in Marjah, in southwestern Afghanistan.  'My last thought [was to] make peace with God, because I knew from how I felt and how much blood that I could feel I was losing...'  But he did wake up six weeks later, in a hospital bed at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center."  CBS Evening News: "When Omar Mateen opened fire with his military style AR-15 assault rifle on a gay nightclub in Orlando, there was one man who recognized the sound - a war veteran.  Imran Yousuf, a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub, never saw the gunman in the early Sunday morning hours.  Yousuf, a 24-year-old Hindu, served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan.  'The initial one was three or four [shots].  That was a shock.  Three or four shots go off and you could tell it was a high caliber,' he said.  'Everyone froze.  I'm here in the back and I saw people start pouring into the back hallway, and they just sardine pack (without enough room to move around) everyone.'  Yousuf knew just beyond that pack of panicked people - was a door - and safety.  'And I'm screaming Open the door, open the door.  And no one is moving because they are scared,' he explained.  'There was only one choice.  Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped over to open that latch [on the door] and we got everyone that we can out of there.'  How many people went through the door?  'Probably over 60,70.'"

Abdul'Haq Muhammed grew up (had his childhood) in Harlem, New York.  A Vietnam veteran, he moved to Fort Myers, Fl. and founded Quality Life Center in 1990.  A purpose is to help children of low-income Florida neighborhoods live life better.  He said: "What gives me hope is faith in the Creator.  What gives me hope is the sense of opportunity (a favorable combination of circumstances, time and place) that exists despite how bad it may seem.  There is always opportunity.  I believe in the philosophy (basic beliefs) - I think we can be motivated (to give a reason for doing something) in different directions and I choose to be motivated by opportunity.  I think if we can understand our neighbor, regardless of what social economic level we are on, to be able to have genuine empathy (the ability to relate to another person's emotional or physical pain) that results in tangible (capable of being grasped mentally) and real results.  Not throwing crumbs at the rich man's gate (meaning giving out a few dollars to the very poor, while really not caring about them at all), but genuinely recognize that I am my brother's keeper (being responsible for the well-being of others), and let me do what I can to balance out society and give opportunity to people who didn't have hope before."  On January 12, 2016, Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, a 37-year-old Mexican illegal immigrant, rolled (a rapid turning about on an axis or central point) his vehicle at high speed on a highway near Phoenix, Ar., about 4:00 a.m.  An Arizona state trooper stopped to help.  The Mexican shot him in the shoulder and began to beat him.  A man who had been driving behind the trooper stopped, grabbed his own gun from his car, stood about l.5 meters (five feet) from Penuelas-Escobar and dropped him (to cause to fall by hitting or shooting).  Kaila White, for The Arizona Republic, wrote this.  "The motorist who killed a man attacking a state trooper was described Monday by the trooper's boss as a humble, spiritual man who believes God had put him on a desolate stretch (without signs of life) of Interstate 10 to save the trooper's life." 

President Trump said this at the Values Voter Summit on October 13, 2017.  "When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, a local furniture storeowner, who's known in Texas as 'Mattress Mack', decided he had to help.  When the rain began to flood the streets of the city, he sent out his furniture trucks to rescue the stranded (left without means to move from somewhere).  He brought them back to his stores, and gave them food and a clean, dry place to stay, even if it meant ruining countless (too numerous to be counted) dollars' worth of furniture.  As 'Mattress Mack ' put it: 'My faith defines me, it's who I am.  We can afford [the cost].  What we can't afford is to cause people to lose hope'."  It's a rough world (when there is a low expectation that persons will be helped) in the United States, but an abandoned Florida baby found a new home.  "His newborn (recently born) legs were bare and cold to the touch.  The chilly morning of May 6 (49 degrees F), his short-sleeve onesie (an infant's one-piece, close-fitting lightweight garment) was wet, his diaper was soiled, his white bib (piece of cloth worn by small children to protect clothes while eating) was stained.  Curled up (lying comfortably in a curved position) in the bed (back) of a Nissan pickup, he was without a hat, a blanket or a name.  He was less than a week old.  And he was all alone.  As events unfolded, strangers found themselves at the right place, at the right time, to help an abandoned baby.  A week later, as if by Divine design (purpose, planning or intention of the Unseen), that baby had a name, a home and a grateful mother who longed to nurture (care for and encourage the growth of) the newborn as her own.  Baby Charlie arrived one week before they (Charles and Lorraine Nichols) were about to call a private adoption (to take voluntarily as one's own child) attorney.  'I truly believe that what God has for you is for you,' Lorraine said.  'It's on His time (when the Unseen sees fit to do it).' (Tallahassee Democrat, February 19, 2018)"

To recapture (to gain control after losing it) an American spirit, we need look no further (something offered which someone has been trying to find) than a woman invited to the White House.  Sniper (a person who shoots from a hiding place) Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed over three hundred men.  "Russia is legendary (remarkable enough to be famous) for her snipers, brave men, and women who brought the Nazi war machine (military resources of a country, organized for waging war) to its knees during the Great Patriotic War (World War II).  The famous Lyudmila Pavlichenko - from Bilaya Tserkva (White Church), Ukraine - was considered by far the deadliest (fatal and lethal [extremely dangerous]) female sniper in human history, slaying (killing in a violent way) hundreds of Nazis, and immortalized (confer [grant or bestow] enduing fame upon) even by the Americans in a Woody Guthrie song (RussiaFeed, June 29, 2018)."  The song Guthrie released was named Miss Pavlichenko.  Over the course of one year, Lyudmila killed at least 309 enemy soldiers - more deaths than in all the Rambo films combined.  Lyudmila one time reportedly (according to what some say) stalked (pursued quarry [a person being hunted] stealthily [a movement that is quiet and careful in order not to be seen or heard] ) an opposing German sniper for three days before taking her shot (firing a gun).  "Finally, he made one move too many (a risk of injury that increases further yet)," she observed (noticed or perceived).  In 1942, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited her to the White House.  She made speeches in Chicago advocating (a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy) for deepened U.S. involvement in the European Theater, but was mocked (try to make someone seem foolish or ridiculous) by the American press - The New York Times, Washington Post - for not being "feminine" enough.  Maybe they were jealous because they hadn't been invited to the White House.  The 2015 film, Battle for Sevastopol, is based on the true story. 

American women have been exploited (used selfishly for one's own ends) and abused (used for a bad purpose)...look at Weinstein and co.  "The concept of the casting couch (a practice whereby actresses are awarded parts in films in return for granting sexual favors to the casting director [a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actress, by a person arranging and conducting interviews]) is as old as Hollywood itself, and the tacit code (unspoken rules) of silence about it is just as old.  Actresses who have been propositioned (made an indecent proposal to) - or worse - by moguls (an important or powerful person) have long opted (made a choice) to remain silent for fear of losing parts (roles for actresses in a film).  When you're a rabbit caught in the jaws of a lion, going limp (pretending you do not have internal strength) at least gives you a chance of survival.  But until shockingly (upsettingly) recently, the outcome (the way things turn out) of doing so was entirely predictable (acting or happening in a way that is expected) - a woman who spoke up risked losing standing (abasement, contempt or degradation) in her profession, or at the very least being labeled a whiner (to complain in a feeble [without energy, strength or power] way) who didn't know how to play the game (do things the way you are expected to do them).  And the man in power (the ability or potential of an individual to influence others and control their actions) would lose nothing.  If anything, he'd just grow more powerful (Time, October 23, 2017)."  Lyudmila Pavlichenko teaches women to fight for their rights (try in a determined way to stop exploitation and abuse, to obtain that which is due to anyone by just claim) - howbeit (be it as it may, notwithstanding) in the second decade of the 21st century - in a non-murderous fashion (by a refusal to obey certain bad rules), as the United States is not involved in an actual (real, true, genuine or authentic) physical war situation.  

Or as Ronda Rousey would say, former UFC women's bantamweight (a weight in boxing between flyweight and featherweight, between 51 and 54 kg [112 and 118 pounds]) champion: "We have changed what it means to 'fight like a girl'."  She was the first female to be inducted (admit formally to a position) into the UFC Hall of Fame (a structure housing memorials to famous individuals), and starred in Sylvester Stallone's Expendables 3.  And this.  "A U.S. waitress who put a customer in a chokehold (a tight grip around a person's neck, used to restrain him) after he grabbed her backside (the part of the body you sit on) says she's glad she showed other women how they can stand up for themselves (to defend or support a particular idea or person who is being criticized or attacked).  Emelia Holden was waiting tables at a VinnieVanGoGo's restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, when she was touched on the bottom (rump, derriere) by a handsy patron (a customer tending to touch other people in a way that is inappropriate or unwanted).  The incident was caught on CCTV and shows a man dressed in a red T-shirt move his hand onto the buttocks of Holden as she was looking at a notepad (a pad of blank or ruled paper for writing notes on).  Holden can then be seen to burst into action (a sudden and energetic undertaking, exploit or maneuver), grabbing the man by the throat before slamming him into a table.  According to the 21-year-old pizza restaurant worker, she had just taken a customer's order (request for food items) when she felt a hand touch her.  'I took someone's order and I was getting ready to set them up and then I just felt it,' she told WAFB News.  'I was like - nope that's not going to happen - and turned around and took the guy down.' (RT, July 20, 2018)"  back to top

Disembowelments.  TV dramas have become soaked in blood (marked by bloodshed), which may jeopardize (place in danger) a restoration.  James Poniewozik wrote in Time (March 11, 2013): "On HBO's Boardwalk Empire, hair-trigger sadist Gyp Rosetti registered his displeasure with a small-town sheriff by dousing him in gasoline and tossing a lighter.  You don't need to smell the barbecued flesh to know which way the wind is blowing.  You can follow the trail of limbs to AMC's The Walking Dead.  Whether on network TV, which is desperate to recoup (get back) a mass audience, or on cable, where TV's most ambitious dramas now live, producers have decided that the best way to touch a viewer's heart is to rip it out and show it to him.  Even the most dark-hearted serial probably would not have asked its viewers to imagine what TV news brought us last December from Sandy Hook Elementary School.  But you don't have to be drawing a facile, causal (indicating cause) conclusion from Newtown to ask why we sit down for these grim bedtime stories night after night.  Many shows just toss the audience stabbings and disembowelings (to take the stomach, intestines and etc. out of a person) like drippy dog treats for sticking through the talking parts.  One of the most moving deaths in The Walking Dead comes not at a zombie's claws but when a character dies from complications of childbirth.  Before she slips away, she says to her young son, 'Promise me you'll always do what's right.'  After she dies, he picks up a gun and - so she won't rise as undead - shoots her through the head.  Because he loves her.  It's deeply affecting and human, as mother-son mercy rekillings go.  But you know what else is affecting and human?  Falling in love, and out of it.  Growing up.  Chasing a dream that doesn't involve running guns or drugs.  Coping with illnesses that do not terminate in zombieism (persons who move very slowly and are not aware of what is happening).  TV's new golden age has given us shows that couldn't have existed 20 years ago."  Things like this could put America on the downhill (toward a worsened or inferior state of level).  President Trump commented.  "We're not here to help ourselves.  We're here to devote ourselves to the national good (January 22, 2017)."  The national good could be benefited (a good or helpful result or effect) by doing something about the gory (grisly, gruesome, savage, brutal, unspeakable or monstrous) violence depicted (described by using words) on American movies, television and video games.  back to top

Video games.  This contributed (provided support) to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, February 2018.  "A neighbor of accused shooter Nikolas Cruz told the Miami Herald that Cruz 'escaped his misery' (avoided anger or indignation by a public outburst - caused by despair, dejection or gloom due to adverse circumstances in life) by playing video games for as much as fifteen hours a day.  'It was kill, kill, kill, blow up something, and kill some more, all day,' he said.  Gary Abernathy, a Washington Post contributing columnist and publisher of the Hillsboro (Ohio) Times-Gazette, noted this week that modern action films, TV shows and video games 'outdo themselves (do something better than one ever did before, or thought one could do) in depicting gun violence committed so casually (relaxed and unconcerned) and with such frequency (how often something occurs) that viewers become dangerously numb (deprived of feeling or responsiveness) to it.' (U.S.A. Today, February 22, 2018)"  Common Sense Media did a study on the most violent of games for 2017.  "Blue Estate.  This downloadable action shooter is loaded with sexual references, nudity, drug use, and racial commentary designed solely for shock value.  Blood and gore frequently splatter across the screen - you get bonus points if you shoot limbs or genitals.  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.  Players take on the role of Dracula and fight against the Devil's minions.  You use everything from swords and chain whips to your fangs to destroy humans and their demonic allies.  The violence is gratuitous and sensational; limbs are sliced off, enemies are impaled (to cause a pointed object to go into something).  Dark Souls II.  Players cut a bloody and violent path through thousands of monsters, and the undead hero must devour the souls of his fallen opponents.  Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.  Players face off against not only the demonic hordes the franchise is known for but eventually the Angel of Death.  Enemies explode into pieces when defeated, blood spatters the ground, and screams or groans of pain are often heard.  Grand Theft Auto V.  Players take on the role of three criminals, each with his own personal weaponry, players kill hundreds of characters, including civilians, police officers, and gang members.  Wasteland 2.  Wasteland 2's stark, unflinching look into a post apocalyptic world where virtually anything goes.  Characters die by explosion, decapitation, dismemberment, and other brutal methods, with blood spraying everywhere.  Watch Dogs.  Watch Dogs puts players into the vigilante (a self-appointed doer of justice) shoes of Aiden Pearce, a hacker seeking revenge against people who killed members of his family.  In this open-world adventure, Aiden uses knives, firearms and other weapons to kill hundreds of people, some of whom are police officers.  He can even use his hacking skills to injure others with exploding steam pipes or destroy cars with strategically placed traffic barriers."  According to Abraham Lincoln: "America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter (hesitate, waver or vacillate) and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."  If America loses its soul, the nations of the world will have to deal with a cold, hard and dead country.  back to top

Flight 93.  "People have been coming to Shanksville (Pa.) - a hamlet in the middle of mining and farming country about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh - to pay tribute to Flight 93 since the day it crashed.  The permanent memorial, as planned by the Park Service, is expected eventually to encompass 2200 acres, including the crash site, land for an access road and buffer areas areas to protect the view.  The cost to build the entire design is estimated at $58 million, of which $30 million is to come from private donations...'It used to be you visited memorials, you paid your respects, and you left,' says Flight 93 Memorial Superintendent Joanne Hanley.  That changed with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a spare, dramatic roster of names that was designed and built in less than three years and opened in Washington within a decade of the war's end (U.S.A. Today, September 11, 2009)."  In 1945, in Europe, thirty million orphans (children whose parents are dead) roamed the ruined streets.  Although 9/11 involved far less people, it became a serious event in American history, as it was the first time America had been attacked on its own shores, since the War of 1812.  In Shanksville, out in the middle of nowhere, over 130,000 people come yearly.  Joanne Hanley stated that "visitors expect to be transformed, to have a life-changing experience [when visiting a memorial]."  Ninety-eight percent of the people a 313 meter Cross will benefit will never see it.  They may be in China, Russia, Europe, South America, India, Africa or Australia.  They may not have the time, the money, or the energy to come into the middle of nowhere, in southwestern Kansas where range cattle roam.  But they could use a symbol, so they know when life ends on the planet, it is paradise for good.  Given the marvels of modern technology, the concept can come right into a living room.  back to top

We need new dreams.  A fifth reason for the name American Cross is that some people think of America as God's Country.  This comes from songs such as This Land is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie: "This land is your land, this land is my land.  From California to the New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters.  As I was walking that ribbon of highway, I saw above me that endless skyway, I saw below me that golden valley.  I've roamed and rambled, and I followed my footsteps, to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts.  When the sun came shining and I was strolling, and the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling...this land was made for you and me."  Star Spangled Banner: "Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'"  America: "Our father's God to Thee, author of liberty, to Thee we sing.  Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light; protect us by Thy might, great God, our King."  God Bless America: "Stand beside her and guide her, through the night with a light from above."  America the Beautiful: "America, America, God shed His grace on thee."  But, in the 21st century, is America God's Country, or, with Disney's Beauty and the Beast film featuring the company's first gay character plus concerns such as the transgender (a person who identifies with a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to a person's sex at birth) bathroom issue, is America moving in a direction of perhaps becoming God's Sodom in the not-too-distant (not long from now) future.  Sodom was an ancient Middle Eastern city with a vibrant (full of energy and enthusiasm) LGBT community.  Whatever the case, it does raise a question - did this country's forefathers (members of past generations) have a screw loose (in their brains) professing "God" in all those songs?  Or was it that they connected better to a Higher Power, then.  The band "U2" sings, In God's Country: "She is liberty...Hope, faith, her vanity...We need new dreams...in God's country."  back to top  

Despair.  The size of the monument may be misinterpreted.  Some may think is to be built in a spirit of megalomania (a delusion of grandeur), when the only thing mega is an attempt to put a mite (a small contribution to the whole) into the treasury of the spirit of the God of the universe.  A big cross for a big world.  There are millions of people, in this country and around the world, who consider themselves persons of faith outside the church.  If there were only a few hundred thousand, a smaller - say 100 meter (328 foot) - cross could work.  It is simply inconceivable to imagine inspiring so many with anything less than a monolithic (a massive and often rigid structure) cross.  In this country, and overseas, there is a "mountain of despair".  The word despair means, in an extreme, an abandonment of hope, a sinking of the heart, an overwhelming dread.  Milder forms of despair can be a loss of hope, heart or confidence.  Europe has a humanitarian crisis (a series of events that are threatening to the safety, health or well being - mental health - of a large group of people) not seen since World War II, with a flood of refugees (people who have been forced to leave their country) coming from Syria, North Africa and the Middle East.  A few of them come into the United States.  Mark Curnutte, from The Cincinnati Enquirer, wrote an article on a man, and his family, from Syria living in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio, July 2017.  "The storefront (front side of a store facing the street) smells of fresh leather, glue and rubber, circulated (caused to move continuously) into a mixture by the small industrial fan (a machine whose function is to provide a large flow of air) above the door.  An older man (Clarence Howell, 78), a lifelong (lasting through life) Christian who worked with his parents in the cotton fields of the Jim Crow South, takes an unblemished (not damaged or marked in any way) pair of men's soles (bottom parts of shoe that touches the ground) and heels from a shelf (long flat board fixed horizontally).  He hands them to a younger man (Bassam Osman, 36), smaller and bearded, who speaks no English beyond basic greetings.  He is a Muslim from Syria, a refugee displaced by his country's civil war.  Osman, the married father of five children - the latest a U.S.-citizen son born this month - came from the city of Aleppo, where war has claimed 31,000 lives and destroyed 33,000 buildings. He worked in a shoe factory before it was bombed.  Osman fled first in December 2011 to Turkey with a seriously ill daughter, before united his family in a United Nations camp there.  After two years of intense vetting (background checks on people) involving five interviews and document searches, the family arrived in July in Cincinnati. 

"Oslam and his family members are among the eighty-six Syrian refugees resettled here since July 1, 2016, by Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio.  Despite some strong opposition (actions or opinions that show you disagree) to Syrian refugees entering the country, Osman said he has experienced a positive reception (the process of being received).  'It is a very kind nation.  In Turkey, my kids were called scavengers (persons who picks over junk or garbage for useful items) and dirty (dishonest or indecent),' he said.  Howell can relate to name-calling (abusive language or insults) and second-class citizenship.  He grew up with it.  'If you met a white lady, you had to turn your head and look away, or they would hang you,' he said of his years in Georgia.  'We had to sit upstairs in theaters.  I remember being eleven or twelve when my mother was working in the fields.  She said we couldn't be playing when Mr. Charlie - he was the white man (Caucasian) in the truck - drove past.'...'He's (Osman) a hard worker.  He's very grateful.  He gets the job done.  He's not lazy,' Howell said.  'At six o'clock, the American workers stop, sometimes at ten minutes of six.  [But] Bassam is working at 6:20 (P.M.) to finish a job.  He works fast.  I have to tell him he doesn't have to work so fast.'  For all of his good fortune (prosperity, successfulness), Osman faces challenges (something new and different that requires great effort and determination).  Two of his children, a son and his oldest child, a daughter, Zulekha, have Wilson's disease.  It is a rare inherited disorder that causes copper to accumulate (acquire an increasing quantity of) to dangerous levels in the liver.  They are treated with medication by doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.  Zulekha was twice misdiagnosed (an incorrect identifying of a disease) in Turkish hospitals with liver cancer and given chemotherapy.  Another Turkish doctor said she needed a transplant."  He is far better off than his countrymen (a person from the same country) back in Syria.  It is a shame (a feeling of humiliation or distress) that more legitimate (allowed according to rules or laws) refugees cannot come into America.  In Aleppo, December 2016, Syrian troops butchered (executed, slaughtered) civilians on the streets, including women and children.  Radhwan Salem, a 60-year-old resident, stated: "I don't understand - how can the entire world watch this, and do nothing.  Oh, God, help us."  President Obama talked of Syrian "red lines" (a phrase used worldwide to mean a figurative point of no return, or line in the sand), such as Assad using chemical weapons on his own people, but when they were crossed, Obama did nothing.  A "red line" could have been used as an opportunity (a favorable juncture of circumstances) to have possibly armed some of the "rebels" (people in disagreement with Assad's barrel-bombing tactics), and to have created "safe zones" (an area that has been planned by Turkish authorities to create a buffer zone within Syria in order to protect civilians). 

Had these things been done, the depth (a profound or intense state) of the humanitarian crisis might have been averted (kept from happening by taking action in advance).  This from Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, and chairman of the United Nations panel on humanitarian access in Syria.  "Syria's war has taught me many bitter lessons.  One of the hardest to stomach (handle or accept) is that the parties controlling this conflict commit, spin (evolve, express, or fabricate by processes of mind or imagination) and justify massacres (bloodbath, butchery, carnage, slaughter) as they unfold on our television screens.  Aleppo lies at the bloodied (murderous) heart of Syria's six-year savage conflict.  This is how Syria's game of war is played.  Aid is used as a political bargaining chip (something used to gain an advantage when making a deal or an agreement).  The consequences for innocent families have been disastrous.  Medical operations have taken place in bombed out basement without anesthesia (loss of feeling in a part of the body through the use of drugs).  Children have bled to death, while we (the U.N.) begged for evacuations (to remove from a military zone or dangerous area) to hospitals that would have saved their lives."  Not only Syria.  In Gaza a pregnant woman was cut to pieces.  "Fatalities (occurrences of death by accident, in war or from disease) were confirmed by the Palestinian Health Ministry on Thursday (August 9).  It said that a total of three people were killed overnight in the airstrikes (an attack made by aircraft).  Among the victims was a pregnant woman, identified as Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan.  They were killed in the Jafarawi area of central Gaza, AFP (Agence France-Press) said, adding that the woman's husband was injured.  Ruply's (an international video news agency based in Berlin) crew traveled to the Gaza Strip and visited the shelled house where Khammash and her family lived.  Their footage captured (caught, nabbed or picked up) a grim scene (something so unpleasant that it pushes you away) inside the damaged house, depicting debris (the remains of anything broken down or destroyed) and multiple bloodstains (marks made by blood) on doors and walls.  Ibrahean Abu-Amra, the house owner who rented the property to the family, told Ruptly that he was surprised that an attack had been carried out on a residential place and on unarmed people (not equipped or carrying weapons).  Pointing at the debris, holes and blood on the walls, he stressed that nothing could justify (show or prove to be right or reasonable) the destruction.  The family's neighbor told RT that he heard 'a huge explosion' and then rushed onto the street.  He saw 'big huge smoke' coming from the Khammash's house.  When he entered the house, he said he saw the bodies.  'We found the woman's body shattered into pieces (to be broken - to impair or destroy), her little daughter too,' he said, adding that the woman's husband was injured in the leg, stomach and head (RT, August 9, 2018)." 

Iran does not escape (break free) from the violence in the Middle East.  There was an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz on September 22, 2018.  "Poor living standards (material quality of life) have been compounded by electricity shortages (lack or deficit) and a severe drought (a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall), which locals blame on mismanagement (manage wrongly) by the central government.  Residents of Ahvaz have been forced to stay inside their homes on some days because of severe sandstorms linked (a connection between two situations) to drought in the past year (Reuters, September 23, 2018)."  Their drought and recession causes its own problems.  Yemen is worse.  "UNICEF reported last year that a child dies from preventable causes (capable of being prevented) on the average of once every ten minutes in Yemen.  As the Associated Press (AP) reported last May, roughly three million Yemeni woman and children are 'acutely malnourished, another 400,000 children are fighting for their lives.'  Further: 'Nearly a third of Yemen's population - 8.4 million of its 29 million people - rely (depend on with full trust or confidence) completely on food aid or else they would starve.  That number grew by a quarter over the past year.  Aid agencies warn that parts of Yemen could soon start to see widespread death from famine.  More and more people are reliant (needs help and often cannot live or work) on aid that is already failing to reach (falling short of a standard that was expected) people.  It is unknown how many have died, since authorities are not able to track cases (ongoing public health collection of information).  Save the Children late last year estimated that 50,000 children may have died in 2017 of extreme hunger or disease, given that up to 30% of children with untreated cases (not improved or controlled medically) of severe acute malnutrition (deficiencies or imbalances in a person's intake of nutrients) die.' 

"The AP told the heartbreaking story (causing overwhelming distress) of Umm Mizrah and her children, tragic drops in the bucket (a very small amount) of what could become one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes (a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well-being [the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy]) of the last half-century.  'The young mother stepped onto the scale (a machine for weighing a person) for the doctor.  Even with all her black robes on, she weighed only 84 lbs. (38 kg)  The doctor's office is covered (extended over an area) with dozens of pictures of emaciated babies (excessive leanness [without much flesh or fat] caused by disease or lack of nutrition) who have come through Al-Sadaqa Hospital in Aden.  Mothers like Umm Mizrah skip meals, sleep to escape the gnawing (a dull, constant pain) in their stomachs.  They hide bony faces (very little flesh covering their bones) and emaciated bodies in voluminous (loose and ample) black robes and veils (pieces of fine material worn by women to protect or conceal the face).  The doctor asked the mother to get back on the scale holding her son.  At seventeen months he was 5.8 kg (12.8 lbs) - around half the normal weight for his age.  He showed all the signs of severe acute malnutrition (not having enough to eat), the most dire stage (an extremely serious development) of hunger.  His legs and feet were swollen (larger than usual), he wasn't getting enough protein (a substance found in food and drink such as meat, eggs and milk).  When the doctor pressed a finger (a method that creates a crease [a groove produced]) into the skin of his feet, the indentation lingered (a push into something remained longer than is usual).' (CounterPunch, July 20, 2018)."  Innocent children become victims of this. 

"The United Nations said Friday that a Saudi-led airstrike had killed at least twenty-two children and four women in Yemen as they fled a fighting zone (an area where people are fighting a war) - the second mass killing (murdering four or more persons) of Yemeni civilians by Saudi Arabia and its military partners in two weeks.  Mark Lowcock, the top United Nations relief official, asserted (state a fact or belief confidently or forcefully) without qualification (denotes fitness for purpose) that the Saudi-led coalition (an alliance for combined action) warring with Yemen's Houthi rebels was responsible for the attack, which happened on Thursday in a pro-Houthi district near the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah.  He said an additional airstrike in the area had killed four more children.  The Saudis and their partners have said they aim for military targets and go out of their way to avoid civilians.  But an August 9 Saudi-led aerial assault (a type of military operation) that struck a school bus in northern Yemen and killed dozens, including many children, raised new doubts about the targeting.  In a country where three in four Yemenis need emergency assistance (to help children and their families who cannot afford to solve the problem), Mr. Lowcock said, 'parties to the conflict (a disagreement through which those involved perceive a threat) must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law (a set of rules which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict) and those with influence over them must ensure (make certain) that everything possible is done to protect civilians (persons not in the armed forces).'  A recent spate of fighting (a larger number of events than usual) in the Al Hudayfah area has also hit facilities (buildings where a particular activity happens) that provide health care, water and sanitation, raising alarms (warning people of danger) of a resurgence (increase of activity) in the cholera epidemic (an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of contaminated water or food) that has ravaged (caused severe and extensive damage to) Yemen twice during the war (The New York Times, August 24, 2018)."  Maybe it's high time (an appropriate time for a long awaited event) that American high net worth individuals (the super rich) stepped up to the plate (to take action in response to an opportunity or crisis) - took an interest in these situations in Gaza and Yemen, and did something about it. 

"[Statos] Valamios has lost count of the boats he has helped [reach the Greek island of Lesbos, off the coast of Turkey] over the years.  'The situations are worse than a horror movie,' he says.  One recent night, Valamios says, he went to rescue a boat that was taking on water.  In a desperate attempt to save their children from perishing, migrants threw them onto Valamios' boat.  'Everyone was screaming and scared,' he says.  'I was just alone on my boat with seventeen children, I got them to land and then got other fishermen out quickly to help the refugees still out in the sea.'...'I understand why they do it,' [fisherman Kostas] Pinteris says.  'They just want to be free, they kiss the ground here when they make it to land.  If there is nobody to help them, then I will need to go out.  I'm human and so are they.' (U.S.A. Today, October 6, 2015)."  Najoud Danwi, a civil engineer from Syria, was in the United Nations transit camp at Macedonia with her two-year-old son.  "Do they hate us more in Denmark, or in Germany," she asked Kim Hjelmgaard, a reporter following migrants.  Thousands have an "extreme", or a "mild", form of despair as they look at Europe for a decent life.  In Macedonia, Mohammed Hassan, 25, boarded a train for Serbia, August 2015, first stop on the way to Hungary.  "I will go to whichever country will take me, whichever place has the best situation.  My life is in God's hands now."  His mother was still in Iraq, his father dead three months earlier.  Riham Kusa is a Palestinian-Syrian journalist living in Berlin, Germany.  "WhatsApp signals a message on my mobile phone.  'Take care of my son,' my aunt writes from Syria.  'He is now heading to Turkey and soon will be with you.'"  Her 17-year-old cousin was on a journey - northern Syria to Turkey to a smuggler for the trip to Europe.  Kusa writes: "I've heard of smugglers packing migrants so tightly into trucks that nobody can move. 

"A friend from Syria who came to Germany in a truck said he asked a guy next to him to run on his mobile phone light so he could tell the time on his wristwatch.  The man couldn't reach his phone in his pocket."  And her friend was lucky.  Seventy-one refugees were found dead in the back of a truck in Austria, August 2, 2015, including a little girl about eighteen months old.  According to David Andelman, editor and publisher of World Policy Journal: "The million refugees Germany may welcome this year (2015), and the 120,000 in the rest of Europe, pale (not much in comparison) before the four million who've fled Syria in the past four years, many still waiting desperately in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon."  From U.S.A. Today: "Near Greece's northern border with Macedonia on Thursday (September 10, 2015), a mass of at least 7000 people endured downpours and muddy fields as the throng headed north hundreds of miles," some of whom may have been barrel-bombed by a neurotic (anxiety, anger or mental confusion) political leader.  And what about the 373,000 Palestinian children who were said by Penilla Ironside, chief of UNICEF's Gaza field office back in August 2014, to need "immediate psycho-social first aid [to get some courage and confidence]".  Or the thousands of women and children - refugees - leaving North Africa.  As many as 400 people are stuffed (to fill by packing things in) into every centimeter (inch) of space aboard a 12 meter (40 foot) wooden boat before shoving off (to leave a place for another) the coast of Libya and into the choppy (rough with small waves) seas of the Mediterranean.  Are they terrorists too?  Gabriela Andreevska is called the "Macedonian angel" because of her efforts to welcome migrants new to camp.  "People are not afraid of what they don't know.  They're not the Islamic State, they're not terrorists," she said. 

Kim Hjelmgaard again: "I knew that the thousands of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Eritreans and others undertaking this route [from Greece to Berlin] were fleeing various forms of wretchedness, whether political or economic.  Their lives are full of spirit-crushing logistics - a phone's battery that is always nearly dead, where to find the next meal, how to entice an exhausted 5-year-old to walk 30 miles under a hot sun."  These people are Muslim, but a message of hope is universal.  The United Nations Refugee Agency said that fifty-five million people worldwide have been "forcibly displaced" by the end of 2015.  The problem of despair is so serious, that there is a need for something.  Since the American Cross Global project is a "message of hope" for those in crisis, accusing it of being a "megalomania" is really saying you do not want to see other helped.  Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton were 9/11 chair and vice-chair.  They are now co-chairs of the Bi-partisan Policy Center's National Security Program, and these are their comments on the issue of global terrorism.  "The Islamic State terrorist organization's combination of territory, resources and global appeal makes it more dangerous than previously acknowledged and more of a threat than al-Qaeda.  The 9/11 Commission we chaired argued that in addition to 'dismantling the al-Qaeda network', we must also prevail 'over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism'.  Yet the second element of this strategy has been largely ignored.  Predominantly military solutions have been emphasized to what is at its core an ideological challenge.  Force can and must be used to degrade ISIL, more than we have done to date, but it cannot destroy the ideas that animate it.  The adversary is a minuscule (very small) number of religious zealots among the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.  Recognizing this does not in any way impugn (to criticize by suggesting that someone is not honest) an entire religion or the overwhelming majority of its peaceful adherents."  On the eve of fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, September 9, 2016, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton reiterated (to repeat something already said) it.  "In the 9/11 Commission Report, we warned that terrorism would 'menace Americans and American interests long after Osama bin Laden and his cohorts (companions) are killed or captured.'  We stressed that our strategy (a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal) 'must match our means to two ends - dismantling the al-Qaeda network and prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.'  We have yet to match our military might with an equal focus on the ideological aspects of the struggle.  Until we do, this threat will not diminish." 

Then why not build a big cross which may make a statement (something said or done in a formal way) to any extremist (a person who hold radical political or religious views), foreign or domestic - God will rock (to cause something to shake violently) your world.  According to CNNPolitics.com: "Ben Carson said Sunday (November 29, 2015) that most Syrian refugees would rather be relocated within their own country than resettled in the United States.  'The thing that I really learned in listening to the refugees themselves is their intense desire to return to their country and be repatriated (to restore or return to the country of origin),' Carson said.  Carson implied that the United States should spend more money aiding the refugee camps, rather than resettling small numbers of those refugees [in the U.S.].  'They don't have enough money.' he said.  'You look at last year, there was a $3 billion shortfall (failure to come up to expectation or need).  That's the same amount of money we spent last month on Halloween candy.'"  He flew overseas to the country of Jordan and visited the camps personally.  He found that while the refugees don't necessarily dislike the United States, they would prefer going home to Syria rather than immigrating to the U.S., or even Europe.  So, why doesn't the American government help these people in the camps, so they can go home, if it really wants to defeat the ideology of the Islamic State?  In Lesbos, Greece, a small island off the coast of Turkey where migrants come, many do not make it.  Thedoris Nousias, the island's coroner, said this.  "'I examined more than 200 people,' he said.  'These shipwrecks were really big.'  Most of the dead are women and children.  Nouisias has had two pregnant women on his examining table and more infants and toddlers than he wants to count.  'Babies' lungs are so small, that with just a little seawater, they fill up,' he said (U.S.A. Today, June 3, 2016)."  Christos Mavrachilis, a guard at the Lesbos cemetery, who's witnessed dozens of burials and dug many refugee graves himself, said this.  "'There's an unidentified baby buried here, it died on October 21, 2015, and next to it, there's a 7-year-old child buried with a woman.  This 12-year-old child's name is Safi Syap,' he said, explaining that the parents had to abandon the child when they left for Western Europe.  'When a baby is being buried and people pray over it, I don't know if it's Muslim or Christian,' Mavrachilis said.  'It could have been my child or my grandchild.' (ibid)" 

The idea is to deal with the ideology that motivates, not just to bomb.  Showing a little respect for non-violent mainstream segments of others' religious beliefs is a beginning.  Stating that Muhammad was a terrorist (the late Jerry Falwell, head of Moral Majority, U.S.A.) does not defeat the ideology, it inflames (to cause a person or group to become angry to violent) it.  Mocking Muhammad with a demented (unbalanced, unhinged, unsound) cartoon (Charlie Hebdo) does the same exact thing.  And more.  "We have many antichrists in our world today, and 99% of them are Muslim (anonymous)."  "The real threat we are facing today is that Islam has a strategic plan to conquer and occupy America (Baptist minister David Clippard)."  "Those who live by the Qur'an have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews (American evangelist John Hagee)."  Actually secular people are anti-Christ, meaning they do not do religion.  Is it true the 100,000 or so Islamic State warriors are somehow going to conquer a nation armed to its teeth with guns and nukes, that spends more than the next three nations combined on its military?  And do all Muslims have a scriptural mandate to kill?  Next, conservative American Christians will want to round them up and place them all in concentration camps.  "Or say that entire nations of children are born [in the Middle East] where they will never hear what a group [of evangelicals] across the planet [in America] considers true teachings, and are thus consigned (to put someone in an unpleasant place or situation) by that group to suffer eternally [in hell] (Dancing Past the Dark, Nancy Evans Bush)."  "Yet the pews (the congregation [members] of a church) are emptying at a ferocious (very great or extreme) rate in the developed world (Heaven: A Guide to the Undiscovered Country, Peter Stanford)."  So a purpose of a 313 meter cross is to elevate (to improve culturally) the image (the way people perceive [interpret or look at]) of Islam in the West (countries in Europe, and America).  For example, there is a myth that Muslim martyrs get 72 virgins after death.  "'Nowhere in the Qur'an does it promise 72 virgins, 70 virgins, 48 virgins.  What it promises as far as heaven goes, is something lush (having a pleasingly rich quality),' [Islam scholar Irshad] Manji told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.  'The Arabic word for virgin has been mistranslated (poor translation).  The original word that was used in the Quran was the word for raisin, not virgin.  In other words, that martyrs would get raisins in heaven, not virgins.' (The Blaze, June 1, 2016)" 

So the Islamic State has deceived people.  Europeans and Americans may become a bit (an indefinite small degree) less paranoid (having unreasonable feeling of suspicion or mistrust) toward a "tide of migrants by sea", if they understood extremists' fallacies (wrong beliefs).  One sure way to defeat the Islamic State, however, would have been to have turned loose (to remove anything that limits the action of) about 250,000 of the 2.3 million Chinese People's Liberation Army on them.  Or, perhaps we should follow an example of a herd of stampeding (an occurrence in which a large group of wild or excited animals run together in an uncontrolled way) boars (uncastrated male pigs), who killed three militants (those engaged in warfare or combat) of the Islamic State in northern Syria.  Here is what some comment.  Larry Walker: "Let's round up the thousands of wild hogs festering (become worse or more intense) in our Southern states and airlift (a system of transporting cargo by aircraft) them to Iraq and Syria.  If terrorists are killed by a hog, they won't meet Allah and get their 72 virgins.  A win for the pigs - and the virgins."  Kimberly Genereux: "Ode (a poem meant to be sung) to the wild boars of Kirkuk - they gave up their lives, fighting and humiliating (to make someone feel foolish by injuring their dignity and self-respect) ISIS.  And proving that heroes can come in quite unlikely guises (a form which conceals the true nature of something)."  Jeff Gute: "Air drop as many wild boars, that have not been fed, and unleash (to allow something to happen suddenly) them on ISIS strongholds, and watch the pigs clean house and take down these terrorists.  Very fitting and cheaper than having American soldiers on the ground and spending taxpayer dollars on militia (part of the organized armed forces of a country)."  Denis Sand: "Since ISIS takes credit for all the terrorist attacks around the world, can the U.S. take credit for this?  It's a new special forces team."  Dan Smith: "It was a MOAB - mother of all boars."  This may be humorous (causing laughter and amusement), but in 2017, there are other issues which confront (challenge) people who live in the Middle East. 

Robin Wright is a reporter for The New Yorker, stationed (a place where someone is assigned to remain) in Lebanon, and this appeared in the May 21, 2017 edition.  "Six months ago (November 2016), I was in the National Museum in Beirut, marveling (experience great surprise or admiration) at two Phoenician sarcophagi (stone coffins) among the treasures from ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, when the lights suddenly went out.  A few days later, I was in the Bekaa Valley, whose town hadn't had power for half the day, as on many days (things that happen more often than might be expected).  More recently, I was in oil-rich (plenty of natural oil under the ground) Iraq, where electricity was intermittent (occurring at irregular intervals) at best.  'One day we'll have twelve hours.  The next day no power at all,' Aras Maman, a journalist, told me, after the power went off in the restaurant where we were waiting for lunch.  In Egypt, the government has appealed (make a serious or urgent request) to the public to cut back on the use of light bulbs and appliances (household devices) and to turn off air-conditioning even the sweltering heat (oppressively hot) to prevent wider outages (a period when a service, such as electricity, is not available).  Parts of Libya, which has the largest oil reserves in Africa, have gone weeks without power this year.  In the Gaza Strip, two million Palestinian get only two to four hours of electricity a day, after yet another cutback (reduction) in April.  In Syria, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in Latakia, the dynasty's main stronghold (a place dominated by a particular group), who had remained loyal for six years of civil war, drew the line (put a limit on what you will allow to happen) over electricity.  They staged a protest in January over a cutback to only one hour of power a day.  Over the past eight months, I've been struck by people talking less about the prospects of peace, danger of ISIS, or President Trump's intentions in the Middle East than their own exhaustion from the trials (tests of one's patience or endurance) of daily life (activities and experiences that constitute a person's normal existence). 

"Families recounted groggily (dazed, weak or unsteady) getting up in the middle of the night when power abruptly (suddenly and unexpectedly) comes on in order to do laundry, carry out business transactions (buying or selling) on computers, charge phones, or just bathe and flush toilets, until electricity, just as unpredictably, goes off again.  Some families have stopped taking elevators; their terrified children have been stuck too often between floors.  Students complained of freezing classrooms in winter, trying to study or write papers without computers, and reading at night by candlelight.  The challenges wills soon increase with the demands for power - and air-conditioning - surge (a transient sudden rise), as summer temperatures reach a hundred and twenty-five degrees (52 degrees Celsius)."  And not only that, Kahled Hosseini, who came to the U.S. as a refugee after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, wrote a book - Sea Prayer, about a refugee father preparing to make a perilous journey (a dangerous situation) across the Mediterranean.  "Ever since I saw the photo of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015, I have wanted to write about sea crossings (a journey by sea from one coast to another).  My entry point (a predetermined strategy) into that story was as a father.  I saw that photo and I was devastated (cause severe and overwhelming shock or grief).  I kept asking myself what I would do if I had to be the one to see a stranger lift my son from the sand, and have to see photos of that horrible event over and over again."  Getting heart back - courage and confidence - is essential (absolutely necessary and extremely important), as you connect to the Unseen. 

And in 2018, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is working to make life more pleasant (agreeable and enjoyable) for others.  "More than five million registered Palestinian refugees (individuals who have left their native country) benefit from UNRWA's educational, health and social services.  The agency's operations span (cover the area of) the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.  It educates about 500,000 children in nearly 700 schools and UNRWA doctors see more than nine million patients in nearly 150 primary health clinics every year.  'First of all, UNRWA is not a Palestinian institution (an organization created to pursue a particular type of endeavor), it is a U.N. institution,' he (U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres) said at a U.N. press conference Tuesday.  The services provided by UNRWA 'are of extreme importance, not only for the well-being of this population, and there is a serious humanitarian (concerned with, or seeking to promote, human welfare) concern here,' he said.  'But also in my opinion and the opinion that is shared by most international observers (persons who monitor [watching or checking] situations), including some Israeli ones, it is an important factor of stability (a situation in which something is not likely to move or change).'  Palestinian camps around the region typically suffer from rampant (flourishing or spreading unchecked) poverty, overcrowding (a condition where more people are located within a given space than is considered tolerable [able to be endured]), high employment, poor housing conditions (badly designed and built, with no air-conditioning in the heat) and lack of infrastructure (fundamental facilities and systems serving an area), according to UNRWA.  Many of the refugees are descendants (a person related to a group of people who lived in the past) of those displaced (forced to leave their home) from what was then known as Palestine in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49 (CNN, January 17, 2018)." 

And turning to Germany, again.  "In the summer of 2015, a curious piece of world news brought a flicker of hope (a feeling of an emotion that does not last very long) to the wretched (very unhappy state) Syrian city of Palmya.  Islamic State fighters had taken over the ancient town, toppling (cause to fall) its monuments and executing anyone who resisted their draconian rules (small offences that had heavy punishments, meaning of great severity).  And yet at one of the city's darkest moments (a time when bad events are at their worst and most dispiriting), rumors of a sanctuary (a place of safety) far away began to filter in (come in very slowly), generating (creating) dreams among a populace (population) that had already lost everything.  On August 31 of that year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her country was prepared to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war in the Middle East.  'We can do this,' she said in a speech in Berlin, calling it a 'national duty' (a moral commitment by a nation to those in need [people do not have enough of essential things]) to support those in danger (harm that one may encounter).  Across Syria, preoccupations (that which you think about the most) with the civil war gave way to fantasies (pleasant by unlikely situations) of the unlikely new promised land - the Germany of Mama Merkel.  The Chancellor suddenly became a positive punch line (a statement or phrase that makes a point) to dark jokes (morbid and grotesque) about Syrians' futures, says Yehiya Mohammad, a driver from Palmyra who at the time had just been released from one of Syrian President Bashar Assad's notorious (famous for something bad) prisons.  'People would be talking to each other...One would suggest - Just go.  Go Where?  Go to Mama Merkel - she's accepting everyone.' (Time, October 9, 2017)."   back to top

Height.  The root of building a skyscraper cross goes back well over 100 years - to the first skyscraper, built when the cowboys roamed the plains.  A century later, World Wide Plaza, in New York City, is an example of a steel canyon.  "At the beginning of the design phase, in early 1985, SOM (Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP) started sketching ideas for buildings (World Wide Plaza) that were entirely different from the final tower (Skyscraper, Karl Sabbagh)."  Any project, including a 313 meter cross, has changes made before completion.  The first skyscraper, built in 1885, was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, ten stories (42 meters or 138 feet).  Never had a building been built from a grid (a metal frame) of vertical steel columns and horizontal beams that supported walls and floors.  Before, buildings were built from masonry or stone.  Henry Bessemer patented a "decarbonization process utilizing a blast of air" for making steel in 1855, but it took 30 years to be applied to a building.  The word skyscraper came into use in the 1880s.  This occurred when the Old West was still wild.  A cowboy sitting on a horse in front of a saloon (bar, pub - place where drinks are sold) in Dodge City, Kansas might think a skyscraper in 1885 Chicago to be somewhat peculiar (odd, curious or eccentric).  "Whenever any technology or innovation comes along and it changes the nature of something, there are always people who lament the change and wish to go back to the previous time (Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder)."  A cross speaks of things to come.  back to top

Cataclysmic events.  The End of Days may occur within 400 years.  There will cataclysmic (momentous events marked by overwhelming upheaval) changes, then.  An event.  "There was a great earthquake - the sun became black in color and the moon blood red (might have something to do with solar flares)."  This could be the result of a massive (huge, enormous or vast) electromagnetic pulse.  Maybe the earthquake actually is a nuclear weapon detonating in the atmosphere causing EMP.  A nuclear blast in the atmosphere might cause buildings to shake, causing the Apostle John to think that it was a "great earthquake".  We don't know - a nuclear blast in the atmosphere to create an electromagnetic pulse has never been tried, as of yet.  Remember, John, exiled (a person forced to live in a foreign country) to the Isle of Patmos in the 1st century A.D., who wrote Revelation with chariots (a carriage with two wheels pulled by horses) for technology in that day, probably did not understand 21st century technology, and tried to describe things as best he could with his Roman mind-set (a particular way of thinking).  Another.  "Therefore shall her (mother earth's) plagues come in one day - death and mourning and famine."  This could be the result of a thermonuclear (relating to the changes in the nucleus of atoms that happen at extremely high temperatures) war.  Or this, from The Economist (March 4, 2017).  "The murder of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, had already seemed outlandish (sounding bizarre) enough.  According to Malaysian authorities, two women in their 20s had stolen up (sneak up - approach someone quietly) behind him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 (2017), smeared (mark messily) some kind of poison on his face and then slipped away (left quietly) into the throng (a large, densely packed crowd) of travelers. 

"Within twenty minutes Mr. Kim was dead.  The results of an autopsy (examination of a body after death), announced ten days later, were more extraordinary still - they showed the poison to be VX, the deadliest nerve agent every synthesized (made by combining different things).  That firmly pointed the finger at North Korea's repressive (restraining freedom of persons) regime, which is thought to have a vast stockpile (large accumulated stock of materials) of chemical weapons, VX among them.  Just one liter (one quart) of the stuff could kill one million people, such is its potency (strength or effectiveness of something).  Inhaling VX vapor disrupts the nervous system within seconds, causing convulsions (involuntary contraction of muscles) and suffocation (being unable to breathe)."  A few liters (gallons) of VX could fulfill (do what is required) this quote from Revelation.  However, later on, Revelation speaks of a new heaven and new earth, which will be radically different (change that is transforming [revolutionize, remake and morph - the form or character altered]) from the old.  Good things should happen, following the events (adverse [acting against] or damaging occurrences [circumstances]).  A complete (to bring to a perfected state) new city will come.  "I (John) saw a city, the new Jerusalem...and the main street of the city was pure gold, as clear as crystal.  I saw no temple in the city, for God Almighty is the temple.  The city had no need of sun or moon - and the nations will walk in its light...nothing evil will be allowed to enter."  He called it the "new Jerusalem", but he was a Jew by birth, born in Israel.  So he really didn't know what it was.  This is hard to understand. 

Those three quotes were from the Book of Revelation.  Organized religion, when it talks about the manifestations (an indication of the existence, reality or presence of an entity [having its own independent substance]), spends about 97% of its time speaking on the Sacrifice, which occurred almost 2000 years ago, and 3% on what is to come.  To get the church's attention will take all of what a 313 meter mirror-finish, stainless-steel cross is.  People may think that the Revelation rendition (interpretation) of the not-so-distant-future is absurd (the state or condition in which human beings exist in an irrational and meaningless universe).  Yet Hollywood has for years created similar situations  The movies they put out on this are endless (to be without limits).  Blackout (2012) concerns the complete shut down of California's vulnerable (endangered, exposed, open, sensitive) electrical system.  With the outage comes chaos, as record heat waves and the dark of night create a city by city panic.  Meteor (2009) concerns a meteor three times the size of Mount Everest plummeting (crashing, descending, falling, dropping) towards Earth.  Pandemic (2007) concerns a Los Angeles bound passenger airline which reports an inexplicable (impossible to explain) death mid-flight.  The Center for Disease Control is called in to evaluate the frightening possibilities - the reality of the bird flu, the probability of a biological, or worse, a new virus that can't be contained.  As the virus begins to spread, the body count (a count of the bodies killed) continues to rise, and the fear cannot be stopped.  Secular people may think the End of Days is a lot of bunk (nonsense), but they don't know what the future holds.  The research and development scientists who think "400 years" is a lot of hogwash (foolish or meaningless talk), keep developing and refining new weapons of destruction for "the hour of doom" (adverse fate or unavoidable ill fortune), as the Qur'an puts it.  The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was prepared by some of the world's top scientists in 2014, concluded that "the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen."  back to top 

Global warming.  A newspaper reporter, Wendy Koch, wrote: "I know I've been shaken.  Four years ago (2010) when prepping (preparing) for an interview with author and activist Bill McKibben about his book, Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, I had to stop reading.  His description of how the world was melting, drying, acidifying, flooding and burning in heretofore unseen ways was just too frightening." Even the walruses (a large animal that lives on land and in the sea in northern regions) are frustrated.  "It's easy to get gloomy about climate change when melting sea ice has forced 35,000 walruses onto a skinny patch of Alaskan shoreline.  When the first 13 year of this century were among the 14 hottest years on record - and this year could end up topping them all.  When [climate] scientists who have spent years issuing apocalyptic (relating to the end of the world) warnings about epic (very great or large) droughts and rising and irreversible tipping points (a critical point in a system beyond which an often unstoppable effect takes place) keep concluding that the situation is far worse than expected (Time, October 20, 2014)."  On December 22, 2016, temperatures at the North Pole rose to a melting point (the temperature at which a solid melts) of 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), according to data from a weather buoy (a floating object).  "Those who doubt the power of human beings to change Earth's climate should look to the Arctic.  There is no need to pore (be absorbed in the reading) over records of temperatures and atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations.  The process is starkly (completely or extremely) visible in the shrinkage (the process of becoming smaller in size) of the ice that covers the Arctic ocean.  In the past thirty years, the minimum coverage (the extent to which something is covered) of summer ice has fallen by half - its volume has fallen by three-quarters. 

"On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040.  The current period of global warming that Earth is undergoing is caused by certain gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide.  These admit (allow to enter - let in) heat, in the form of sunlight, but block its radiation back into space, in the form of longer wavelength infrared (electromagnetic radiation).  That traps heat in the air, the water and the land.  More carbon dioxide equals more warming (The Economist, April 29, 2017)."  Global warming is accelerating (moving faster, gaining speed).  "Six months after 195 nations [meeting in Paris, France] vowed tougher action to curb global warming, the problem has only grown worse, with higher accumulations of greenhouse gas emissions, record worldwide temperatures and widespread coral bleaching from hotter ocean waters (U.S.A. Today, May 17, 2016)."  David Ige, Governor of Hawaii on June 6, 2017: "Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say.  Hawaii is seeing the impact (have a strong and often bad effect) first hand.  Tides are getting higher, biodiversity (the existence of many different kinds of plants and animals in an environment) is shrinking, coral is bleaching (a process whereby coral loses its color, either due to loss of pigments - natural coloring matter - in the algae - plantlike organism, or the expulsion of the algae itself - algae being the slippery green stuff on rocks in an ocean), coastlines are eroding, [and] weather is becoming more extreme."  On July 10, 2017, a massive iceberg nearly the size of of the U.S. state of Delaware, broke off Antarctica.  At 2200 square miles, the chunk of floating ice has twice the volume of Lake Erie.  Another small piece of evidence (the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid).  According to a federal report, released December 12, 2017 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the magnitude (great size or extent) of the Arctic's sea-ice decline and ocean warming is unprecedented (never done or known before) in the last 1500 years. 

"The Arctic is going through its most unprecedented transition (a process or period of changing) in human history, and we need better observations (statements about something you have noticed) to understand and predict (say that something will or might happen in the future) how these changes will affect (make a difference to) everyone, not just the people of the north (above the Arctic Circle).  The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator to the planet (earth, globe, world) but the door of the refrigerator has been left open.  There are some connections (situations in which two or more things have the same cause) between the warming in the Arctic and the extreme weather events (unexpected, unusual, unpredictable severe or unseasonable weather) down here," Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA's Arctic Research Program, said.  2018 has been a great year for climate change.  "Deadly fires have scorched swaths (broad strips or areas) of the Northern Hemisphere this summer, from California to Arctic Sweden and down to Greece on the sunny Mediterranean.  Drought in Europe has turned verdant (green with grass or other rich vegetation [plant life or total plant cover]) land barren (too poor to produce much or any vegetation), while people in Japan and Korea are dying from record-breaking (bigger than anything else before) heat.  Climate change is here and is affecting (having an influence on) the entire globe - not just the polar bears on tiny islands vulnerable (susceptible [likely to be harmed] to attack) to rising sea levels - scientists say.  It is on the doorsteps (happening very close to where you live) of everyday Americans, Europeans and Asians, and the best evidence (a legal principal that holds the highest evidence [the available body of facts or information]) shows it will get much worse (CNN, August 5, 2018)."

A 2018 United Nations report is even worse than the 2014 report.  "Governments around the world must take 'rapid, far-reaching (having important and widely applicable effects or implications) and unprecedented (never done or known before) changes in all aspects (a particular part or feature) of society' to avoid disastrous (causing great damage) level of global warming, says a stark (severe or bare in appearance or outline) new report from the global scientific authority on climate change.  The report issued Monday (October 8) by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the planet will reach the crucial threshold (a training guideline) of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.76 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating (cause to happen suddenly, unexpectedly or prematurely) the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.  The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions (a gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere).  The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C.  Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years.  The report makes it clear that climate change is already happening - and what comes next could be even worse, unless urgent international political action is taken.  'One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming though more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing (make or become less) Arctic sea ice, among other changes,' said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group 1,  Even in warming is kept at or just below 1.5 degrees C, the impacts (having strong effects) will be widespread (found or distributed over a large area or number of people) and significant (CNN, October 8, 2018)."   

The Trump administration released a new report on climate change.  "The study, called the National Climate Assessment, is the fourth in an ongoing series (a publication that has no foreseeable end) mandated (an official order or commission) by a 1990 law.  It looks at how climate change is affecting the U.S. now and what the country might look like by the end of the century.  The researchers found that the average temperature in the U.S. rose (increased) by 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010 and an additional 2 degrees is inevitable (certain to happen) by 2050.  Deaths from heat-related causes (prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures) are projected (estimated or forecast) to increase, as are the frequency and severity (seriousness) of allergic conditions (when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance known as an allergen) like asthma.  Over 300 scientists and other experts from academia (the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education and scholarship), government, nonprofits and the private sector (a part of the national economy not under government control) helped write the assessment (the action or an instance of making a judgment about something).  Andrew Light, a senior fellow (a research position equivalent to an Associate or Full professor) at World Resources Institute, worked on the chapter focusing on mitigation (the action of reducing the severity, seriousness or painfulness of a situation). 

"What's different about this report from the last one, he told Business Insider, is how much clearer and more precise scientists can get about the U.S.-specific consequences (results or effects of an action or condition) of climate change.  'We can now say with more accuracy that by the end of the century, the difference between the United States in a world where we have achieved something like the goals that we undertook (to take upon oneself to do a task) for temperature stabilization (to make stable, steadfast or firm) in the Paris agreement and one where we don't is tens of thousands of lives lost (dead) annually.'  But the report doesn't just make projections about changes that may occur decades from now - it also attributes (regard a thing as being caused by) trends (the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change) and disasters that we're seeing today to climate change.  'With climate science now, we can tell you today how climate change is impacting (a strong, significant or major effect on) the world and the United States in particular regions,' Light said.  'We are better able to say that, yes, particular extreme weather events, the wildfires that are going on in California - there is a climate change component (a constituent [an essential element, serving to compose or make up a thing] part) to all of these things.' (Business Insider, November 23, 2018)"  Antarctic sea ice has hit an all-time low (the worst level that has ever been).  Around Antarctica, sea ice did average 4.9 million square miles in 2014.  By 2017, it was at a record low of 4.1 million square miles.  This is a decrease of almost 20% in four years.  In 2019, we have seen record heat waves (a prolonged period of abnormally hot weather) in such places as Alaska, Europe and India.  Case has been closed (the above is meant to be final).  

According to MSN, January 22, 2015: "Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday (a time of catastrophic destruction), a group of prominent scientists and Nobel laureates (someone who has won an important honor) said Thursday (January 22).  'It is now three minutes to midnight,' said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as the group moved its symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes forward.  The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947.  It has changed eighteen times since then, ranging from two minutes to midnight in 1953 to seventeen minutes before midnight in 1991.  The clock has been at five minutes to midnight since 2012 and the last time it was three minutes to midnight was in 1983, during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.  'Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,' Benedict said.  'And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.'  The scientists called on people to demand action from their leaders to curb fossil fuel pollution and to stop developing every more modern nuclear weapons that are endangering the planet.  'We are not saying it is too late to take action, but the window for action if closing rapidly.  Benedict said that the world had about 16,300 nuclear weapons, which she described as 'far too many'.  Meanwhile, the United States has invested big money in modernizing its nuclear weapons systems, with some $355 billion planned for the next decade."  Two years later, January 27, 2017, Lawrence M. Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University who is chairman of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and David Titley, a retired rear admiral and former chairman of the Navy's Task Force on Climate Change who is a member of its science panel, wrote this. 

"It is now two and one-half minutes to midnight.  Our organization, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is marking the 70th anniversary of its Doomsday Clock on Thursday by moving it thirty seconds closer to midnight.  In 2016, the global security landscape darkened (referring to new threats emerging and existing threats becoming ever more sophisticated) as the international community failed to come to grips (to make an effort to understand and deal with a problem or situation) with humanity's most pressing threats - nuclear weapons and climate change.  This is the closest to midnight that the clock has been since 1953, when it was moved to two minutes to midnight after the United States and the Soviet Union tested their first thermonuclear weapons within six months of one another.  Other factors that led the committee to advance the Doomsday Clock included - North Korea's continuing nuclear weapons development, the steady march of arsenal (a place where military arms are stored) modernization programs in the nuclear weapon states, simmering (be in turmoil) tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, and stagnation (stop developing or progressing) in arms control (measures taken to limit weapons systems).  Russia is building new silo-based missiles, the new Borei class of nuclear ballistic missile (a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes), submarines and new rail-mobile missiles (an ICBM mounted on a railcar or flatcar - a railroad freight car without permanent raised sides or ends) as it revamps (make different in some way) other intercontinental (capable of traveling between continents) ballistic missiles.  The United States is moving ahead with plans to modernize each part of its triad (bombers, land-based missiles and missile carrying submarines), adding capabilities, such as cruise missiles with increased ranges.  As it improves the survivability of its own nuclear forces, China is helping Pakistan build submarine platforms.  And Pakistan and India continue to update and expand their nuclear arsenals."  The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by a group of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, the American-led clandestine (marked by, held in, or conducted with secrecy) effort to build the world's first nuclear weapons.  Do we have to have the scientists tell us about the End of Days?  What is the American church doing living in a psychic dreamworld - that is, religion as feelings, acts or experiences of individuals, often surrounded by hallucinations (experiences involving the apparent perception of something not present) or psychic phenomena (a thing that appears to contradict physical laws and suggest the causation of mental processes).  back to top

Electromagnetic pulse.  This is a dark horse in the room (a little known, unexpected entrant [that which enters]).  "North Korea described its latest test (September 2017) as 'a multifunctional (having or fulfilling several functions) thermonuclear nuke (weapon of mass destruction) with great destructive power which can be detonated (exploded, blew up) even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.'  Brinkmanship (the ability to get to the verge of a war, without getting into it) or not, this is a threat worth taking seriously.  Nuclear weapons do damage in three ways - blast, heat and radiation, for terrestrial (relating to or occurring on the earth) explosions.  But things are different when the explosion occurs in space (upper atmosphere - the three dimensional realm).  High-energy gamma rays (photons of electromagnetic radiation emitted from an atomic nucleus) collide (hits something through a strong force) with air molecules (the smallest fundamental units of a chemical compound) at around 15-20 miles altitude, producing a cascade (pouring downward rapidly and in large quantities) of electrons which spin down though the Earth's magnetic field, producing an electromagnetic pulse known as 'E1'.  The intensity (strength, power or potency) of this pulse (a strong vibration or short burst) depends on the size and type of bomb, the altitude of the detonation, and the latitude (distance north or south of the equator measured in degrees).  Bombs typically only emit (produce and discharge) 0.1% to 0.5% of their energy as gamma radiation, though exotic (very different or unusual) designs may increase this output (amount of something produced).  While there is no indication that North Korea could increase this number, even 0.1% is effective when power is measured in megatons.  A nuke also produces two other type of pulses.  One, called 'E2', is an EMP that comes from high-energy neutrons (uncharged elementary particles that have a mass nearly equal to that of a proton), and the much slower 'E3' is produced by the expansion of the nuclear fireball itself as it pushes against the Earth's magnetic field.  A weapon of more than one hundred kilotons affects everything within 'line of sight' (a straight path, when unobstructed by the horizon).  That means a blast at sixty miles will affect a 700 mile radius. 

"The only spot not affected will be a small area close to ground zero (the point on the earth's surface directly below an exploding nuclear bomb), almost vertically below the explosion, where the Earth's magnetic field creates an 'eye of the storm' (a calm as the quiet center of the carnage).  The reason this tactic (action or method that is planned) could be appealing for the reclusive (marked by a withdrawal from society) North Korean regime is that it requires less accuracy.  While North Korean ICBMs may not have guidance (the process of controlling the fight of something) good enough to hit a target the size of a city, an EMP only needs to hit a general area.  So, what would be the effects on the ground from a high-altitude nuclear blast (an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate [make dangerous, dirty or impure] the air)?  The short 'E1' pulse induces (causes something to happen) strong, transient (lasting only for a short time) electrical currents in conductors (material through which electrical current can pass), and the longer the conductor, the more voltage (a quantitative expression of the potential difference in charge between two points in an electrical field) it experiences.  Small devices like smartphones and laptops may be unscathed (without suffering any injury, damage or harm), but the real problems happen in long cables that would experience surges (a sudden rise of current or voltage in an electrical circuit) of 10,000 volts or more.  That's not going to harm a power line, but, as a 2010 report on EMP effects for Oak Ridge National Laboratory points out, it will affect the lower voltage sensor (a device that is able to determine and even monitor and measure the voltage supply) and control lines connected to relays that control electronics.  These lines usually only carry a few volts, and the surge will destroy computer, communication devices like routers, and safely relays.  The 'E2' pulse presents little danger, because it resembles (to be like or similar to) lightning and most systems already have protection for this sort of surge.  The long, slow 'E3' pulse is a threat, though, and may be strong enough to burn out transformers attached to long power cables.  While the generators (machines by which mechanical energy are changed into electrical energy) themselves may be left intact (not damaged or impaired in any way), the damage inflicted by 'E1' and 'E3' pulses mean no electricity can reach people, so the lights will go out.  What happens after that is speculation (the forming of a theory without firm evidence - www.popularmechanics.com, October 6, 2017)."

In the Dark was a workshop (a usually brief intensive educational program) held at the U.S. Army War College September 28-30, 2010.  This concerned military planning for a catastrophic critical infrastructure (basic physical structures - buildings, roads and power supplies) event.  To quote from some of the material (facts, information and ideas).  "The loss of electrical power and communications infrastructure for days, weeks, and more than a year are threat scenarios (descriptions of possible actions or events in the future) which could disintegrate (break into small parts) the social, agricultural, and governmental fabric (the basic framework or structure of something) which makes a modern society possible today.  A well-placed deliberate nuclear attack at high altitude by a hostile party (deployment and conduct of own forces and weapons systems) can produce radiation emissions which can destroy a nation's critical infrastructure.  Congress established an EMP Commission in 2001 and re-established the Commission in 2006 to look at EMP threats and vulnerabilities (exposed to the possibility of being attacked) and what and how the United States would do to recover from an EMP event.  A 2009 Defense Science report, Unconventional Operations Concepts and the Homeland, looked specifically at the sorts of threats to the Homeland pointed out by the EMP Commission and what the Department of Defense should be doing to prepare for them.  EMP can be caused by the detonation of a nuclear device at high attitude (above 30 km or 18.6 miles) by a hostile nation or rogue group and could also result from successful interception of nuclear missiles at high altitudes.  'E3' (slow transient [lasting for a short time]) portion of EMP attacks can have detrimental (tending to cause harm) effects on large high voltage transformers on the power network, while the 'E1' (fast transient) portion of EMP can have similar impacts on the electronic equipment and supervisory control and data acquisition systems." 

James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and Dr. Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security wrote this on February 14, 2017.  "Congress finally passed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) - by inserting it into the National Defense Authorization Act.  Eight years ago, the Congressional EMP Commission urged Capitol Hill to direct the Department of Homeland Security to protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructures from a man-made electromagnet pulse.  CIPA implements one of the most important recommendations of the EMP Commission to prevent societal mass destruction (death or injury on a large scale).  It directs the DHS to establish new national planning scenarios focused on protecting and recovering the nation from an EMP catastrophe.  CIPA will further help protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructures from cyberwarfare, physical sabotage (a deliberate action aimed at weakening through subversion, obstruction, disruption or destruction) and severe terrestrial (occurring on earth) weather.  The Congressional EMP Commission recommended that by protecting against the worst threat - nuclear EMP attack - all these lesser threats would also be mitigated (cause to be less harsh or hostile).  Russia and China have developed super-EMP weapons to implement (put into effect) this strategy (EMP and cyberattack against electric grids) - and have apparently transferred the design for a super-EMP weapon to North Korea."  Instead of the liberal press - CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times constantly haranguing (trying to persuade you to accept their opinions and ideas) over the possibility that Russian interference may have influenced the 2016 election in Donald Trump's favor - maybe they would be better served by using their bully pulpit (a prominent public position that provides an opportunity for expounding one's views) to high-pressure the government to implement the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act now.   Worrying about whether Hillary Clinton would be president, if it wasn't for those Russians, in light of the fact of an issue with lights out over the entire continental United States, is stale (no longer relevant, and/or overused [trite, cliched or unoriginal]).  back to top

400 years.  The Club of Rome wrote a book called Limits to Growth back in 1972.  "Our conclusions are - if the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years (2072).  Over the course of the past 30 years there has evolved at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a new method for understanding the dynamic behavior of complex systems.  The world model described in this book is a System Dynamics model.  The behavior mode on this first simple world model is that of overshoot and collapse, which occurs because of non-renewable resource depletion.  The industrial capital stock grows to a level that requires an enormous input of resources.  In the very process of that growth it depletes a large fraction of the resource reserves available.  As resource prices rise and mines are depleted, more and more capital must be used for obtaining resources, leaving less to be invested for future growth.  Finally investment cannot keep up with depreciation, and the industrial base collapses, taking with it the service and agricultural systems, which have become dependent on industrial inputs.  Let us assume that the technological optimists are correct (in 1972) and that nuclear energy will solve the resource problems of the world.  Let us also assume a reduction in pollution generation from all sources by a factor of four, starting in 1975.  Let us also assume that the normal yield per hectare (a unit of area in the metric system equal to 2.47 acres) of the all the world's land can be increased by a factor of two.  Besides, we assume perfect birth control, practiced voluntarily, starting in 1975.  The system is producing nuclear power, recycling resources and mining the most remote reserves.  The result is still an end to growth before the year 2100.  We have shown that in the world model the application of technology to apparent problems of resource depletion or pollution or food shortage has no impact the essential problem, which is exponential (increasingly rapid) growth in a finite (having a limited nature) and complex system." 

"Stanislav Petrov, the retired officer of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, did not enjoy discussing (talking about) the day he averted (prevented something bad from happening) a nuclear holocaust (widespread destruction and radioactive fallout [residual material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast] causing the collapse of civilization).  That job was on the Soviet early-warning system (a network of satellites to provide advance warning of a missile attack) code-named Oko, or Eye, whose function was to detect (discover or identify the presence of) the launch of an American nuclear attack.  Having helped design and install (place in position ready for use) the command center (any place that is used to provide centralized command for some purpose), Petrov was at the controls (operating the equipment) on the night of September 26, 1983, when the sirens (devices that make a long prolonged sound) inside the massive bunker (reinforced underground shelter) just south of Moscow began to wail (high-pitched [shrill, sharp or piercing] sound).  The Oko system's satellites were alerting (warning of a danger) the Russians to the launch (to send forth or release) of a U.S. ballistic missile, followed in quick succession (sequence, series or progression) by four others.  'We built the system to rule out the possibility of false alarms,' Petrov said.  'And that day, the satellites told us with the highest degree of certainty (high probability [likelihood, prospect or expectation]) that these rockets were on the way.'  It was up to Petrov to confirm the incoming attack (an aggressive action) to his superiors, who would then launch a retaliatory strike (a country's assured ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retaliation [the action of returning a military attack]) while the U.S. missiles were still in the air.  The chances it was real were '50-50', he recalled.  'But I didn't want to be the one responsible for starting a third world war.'  So he told his commanders that the alarm was false (a warning given about something that fails to happen).  Much later, it emerged (became apparent) Soviet satellites had mistaken the sun's reflection in clouds (reflection/refraction of sunlight by numerous small ice crystals that make up clouds) for the start of a missile salvo (firing of several weapons at the same time - Time, October 2, 2017)." 

Fast-forward (move speedily forward in time) to 2017.  "But in the dangerous world of nuclear deterrence (military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred [discourage, by instilling doubt or fear] from using nuclear weapons as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence), where it might take just thirty minutes for a nuclear-tipped missile (an earth-penetrating missile that destroys not only what is above ground, but also underground structures) to reach the West Coast from North Korea, the stakes (used to describe a situation that has a lot of risk) are very different (Time, September 18, 2017)."  "'The new arms race (a competition between nations for superiority in the development and accumulation of weapons) has already begun,' says former Defense Secretary William Perry.  'It's different in nature than the one during the Cold War, which focused (center of interest) on quantity (amount, total or sum) and two superpowers producing absurd (wildly unreasonable) numbers of weapons.  Today it is focused on quality (standard, grade or caliber) and involves several nations instead of just two.  The risk (a possibility that something unpleasant [causing discomfort, unhappiness or revulsion] will happen) for nuclear conflict (a political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is used to inflict damage on the enemy) today is higher than it was during the Cold War.' (Time, February 12, 2018)."  In 2018, the Doomsday Clock was set at two minutes to midnight - the last time was after the Americans and then the Soviets tested thermonuclear weapons for the first time, within six months of each other (1953).  "The Doomsday Clock, a potent (having great influence) symbol of scientific concerns about humanity's possible annihilation (complete destruction or obliteration - to cause to vanish or cease to exist), was advanced by 30 seconds on Thursday, to two minutes to midnight, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced in Washington.  The last time the clock was moved so close to midnight was in 1953, during the Cold War. 

"'In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats (an indication of things impending) of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation (a state of affairs) more dangerous than it was a year ago - and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,' the bulletin's science and security board, which oversees (supervises in an official capacity) the clock, said in a statement.  It cited the risks from North Korea's nuclear program; discord (disagreement, friction hostility or antagonism) between Russia and the United States; tensions (mental or emotional strains) in the South China Sea; the build-up (an increase, especially one that is gradual) of the nuclear arsenals (a collection weapons and military equipment) of Pakistan and India; and uncertainty (a situation where something is not known) over the Iran nuclear deal (The New York Times, January 25, 2018)."  A goal (something you are trying to achieve) of American Cross Global rhetoric (the art of effective writing) is not to bring about the Book of Revelation in this century.  With care (watchful or protective attention) and concern (an anxious sense of interest), a nightmare could be avoided, the can (a closed metal container usually shaped like a cylinder) may be kicked down the road (delaying an important decision, in this case whether to start a nuclear war, until a later, unspecified date) into the next century.  Then, in the first quarter of the 22nd century, people can come out of the woodwork (suddenly appearing in public, or revealing their opinions, when previously the did not make themselves known - to appear unexpectedly or from unexpected places) and create a safety net (something that provides security against misfortune or difficulty) for the world to avert (to prevent or ward off [avoid being hit by]) an apocalypse (a cataclysmic [violently destructive] event) in the 23nd century.  And so on and so forth (to abbreviate a list when a person doesn't want to add any more examples) over the next four hundred years.  The fight (to try in a determined way to prevent something bad from happening) will be unremitting (never stopping, becoming weaker or failing), as it will be unrelenting (not willing to give up).  back to top

Worldwide persecution.  The aforementioned three reasons to do a monolithic (huge, massive) Cross - to aid persons of faith outside the church, to give hope to those in a mountain despair, to change organized religion's attitude toward the End of Days - pale (not bright or brilliant) in comparison to the next reason.  There are tens of millions of Christians (out of 2.1 billion total) living under persecution in over 40 countries around the world.  The persecution ranges from throwing a rock through a window, to destroying property, to burning them out, to locking them up on false charges, to attempting to kill them.  Nina Shea, a director for the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, wrote: "In September 2005, a middle-aged woman was taken by state security officials from her home in North Korea's North Pyongan province.  She was put under arrest and taken to a local farm, where government officials had assembled in the threshing (where grain crops are separated into grain, straw) area to carry out her punishment.  She had kept a Bible at her home.  In January 2013 Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American citizen, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in Tehran's brutal Evin Prison [for helping] underground evangelical churches.  Though India is renowned for its religious pluralism, Hindu mobs riot against entire Christian families or villages."  From International Christian Concern: "After a string of recent attacks, Christians living in Nigeria's Kaduna state have asked for prayers.  Northern Nigeria has been dominated by violence caused by the Islamic extremist group Boko Heram since the group started its armed insurgency in 2009."  From World Watch Monitor: "A three-month-old rebel uprising in the Central African Republic swept into the country's capital Sunday (March 24, 2013), ousting (forcing someone out of power) the president and leaving ransacked (despoil, loot, maraud, pillage, plunder, sack) Christian homes and churches in its wake. 

"Cheers went up as a backhoe (a machine that digs into the ground with a metal scoop) tore down the barely finished walls of the Batak Protestant Church near Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday (March 21).  The pile of rubble that remained was only the latest setback for Christians trying to retain a toehold (a position that makes it possible to begin an activity or effort)."  From RescueChristians.org: "House churches face emergencies in various places in China as pastors are being investigated and harassed, believers are being threatened, and church sites are being taken back."  From The Christian Post: "Islamic extremists from al-Shabaab militia vying (competing with others) for control of Somalia continued their campaign to rid the country of Christians.  While proclaiming himself a moderate [Somalian] President Sharif Sheik Ahmed has embraced a version of sharia (religious laws based on the Qur'an that Muslims follow) that mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam.  In one of the more telling of many incidents in Laos, eight Christian leaders in Boukham village, Savannakhet province, were arrested on December 16 (2012) after they had gathered some 200 church members for a Christmas celebration.  Boukham village authorities later moved six of the detained Christians to an animal pen, blocked visits from family members and banned direct delivery of food.  In Syria's rebellion, no religious or ethnic group has been spared horrific levels of loss and suffering, but its 2000-year-old Christian minority is now facing a distinct persecution.  Under the cover of war and chaos, this group, which alone lacks militias of its own, is easy prey for Islamists and criminals alike.  These assaults are driving out the Christians en masse (as a whole, all together). 

"In Russia, police with automatic weapons and attack dogs stormed St. George's Lutheran Church during Sunday morning worship.  Blocking all exists, they announced that they were searching for 'extremist literature' and proceeded to ransack Bibles and hymnals.  Since becoming Christians in the past year, five families in mountainous Kontum province [in Vietnam] have reported constant harassment from villagers upset that they are not longer contributing to communal sacrifices and other practices because of their new faith."  According to a human rights lawyer, Nina Shea, who described the horror of Mosul, Iraq in August 2014: "[The Islamic State] took the Christians' houses, took the cars they were driving to leave.  They took all their money.  They took wedding rings off fingers, chopping off the fingers if they couldn't get the ring off."  From Al Jazerra English, February 14, 2015: "Fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State have released a video purporting to show the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya.  In the wake of the video release, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (a Muslim) called for an urgent meeting of Egypt's top national security team and declared seven days of mourning.  'Egypt reserves the right to respond in a suitable way and time to punish these murderers,' Sisi said in a televised speech.  Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Islamic learning, denounced the 'barbaric' killings.  'Al-Azhar stresses that such barbaric action has nothing to do with any religion or human values,' it said in a statement."  Certain American evangelicals may comment that the individuals got out of their safety net with Jesus.  

"If you ask certain American Christians about persecution (hostility and ill-treatment), they will be happy to tell you how persecuted they are when they aren't allowed to deny civil rights to others, when others aren't forced to live according to their beliefs, etc.  They don't have a clue [as to] what actual persecution is (Bill Carey)."  President Trump said this at the National Day of Prayer, May 3, 2018.  "My administration has spoken out against religious persecution around the world, including the persecution of many, many Christians.  What's going on is horrible.  And we're taking action.  We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today we are launching (starting or setting in motion) another historic action to promote (further the progress of) religious freedom.  I will soon be signing an executive order to create a faith initiative ('both political parties believe religion should be a significant factor in shaping policy' - the Associated Press in 2009) at the White House.  The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role (very important, necessary or essential) of faith in our families, our communities and our great country.  The office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.  We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges (new and difficult things which require great effort and determination), faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God."  back to top

 Death as a shift.  A 313 meter cross lets these people know, they are not forgotten.  When the cross is finished, and the mirror-finish catches the sun, videos may be taken and posted online to inspire people, and to remind them that when life ceases, paradise begins.  Another reason as to why the cross is so big is that it is a death syndrome cross.  This does not just mean unexpected death of adults during sleep, cardiac arrest in younger people, or a young American Baptist woman pushing her husband of eight days over a cliff.  It means anything.  With over seven billion people on the planet, it takes something huge and perhaps unnerving (to deprive or courage, strength or steadiness) to make people stop and take stock of the dilemma (a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice) of death.  Waiting until you are in Hospice (a place that provides care for people who are dying) may be a bad course of action.  You can be running to win, yet in an unforeseen circumstance, life is cut short.  It can end in one hundred years or one hundred minutes.  Death does not necessarily entail (comprehend, contain or embrace) the end of consciousness (an awareness of one's own existence, sensations and thoughts), it may imply a shift from one spiritual state (a perspective, outlook or approach) to another.  As the Book says, "The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable (enduring forever), and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe (to endow especially with power or a quality) itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (from I Corinthians)."  And, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain - for the former things are passed away (from Revelation)."  back to top

Second death, revisited.  "Death syndrome" may also refer to a "second death".  "Whoever lives and believes, shall never die (from John)."  How can this happen?  Everyone dies.  How could a person "never die"?  Perhaps there is a death beyond death.  In other words, there is a "death" of the flesh and there is a "death" of the soul - a second death.  This is clarified (make less confused and more clearly comprehensible): "He who believes, though he were dead, yet shall he live (from John)."  So as an individual puts this together, it means that he, or she, who "connects" won't experience a "second death", but will continue to live on (continue to live as you depend on an entity [a thing with distinct and independent existence] as a source [a place something comes from]), after death.  So, it seems to contradict (say the opposite of) itself - first it says you "never die", then it says that "even though you are dead, you will live".  This can cause confusion to the uninformed (not having or showing awareness or understanding of the facts).  "And cast (throw forcefully in a specific direction) the unprofitable (not beneficial [having a positive effect or achieving a good result], or useful [serving some purpose]) servant (a person who is employed) into outer darkness (an absence of light) - there shall be weeping, and gnashing (a grinding together) of teeth (from Matthew)."  Here the Book refers to a second death as outer darkness - a death of the soul.  Meaning, an individual may continue to exist (to have real being, whether material or spiritual), but that person is dead inside - forever.  "But murderers, and the sexually immoral, and those who use power from dark spirits, and liars shall have their part in the second death (from Revelation)."  Thousands of near-death experiencers have gone down or up.  Those who go down and come back don't want to go back (to hell).  Those who go up don't want to come back (to earth).  Think of your most miserable experience in life, that which you were so glad was over, and your most enjoyable experience, which you wish never ended.  What this says is that you will either get the most miserable experience you have ever had, forever, or you will get that most enjoyable experience, instead (alternatively, rather).  back to top

Consciousness after death.  Jean Jacques Charbonier, M.D., in his book Seven Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife, comments: "Experience has shown me that at the moment when death seems imminent (ready to take place) and unavoidable (not able to be prevented or ignored), we are entirely ready to accept another reality (the world or state of things as they actually exist), totally different from the one we have always known and upheld (to judge valid) - another truth that includes the notion (an idea that is believed to be true) of survival in another dimension (an area over which activity, capacity or influence extends).  When there are only a few minutes left, the most assured non-believer becomes a believer, and the most convinced atheist calls upon God.  This observation, made by numerous caregivers (a person who looks after the sick, elderly or disabled) working in resuscitation (to revive from apparent death or unconsciousness) or in palliative care (an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with a life-threatening illness), shows to what extent our firmest beliefs can suddenly go up in smoke."  Dr. Charbonier is a French anesthesiologist (a physician in the medical branch dealing with anesthesia - insensitivity to pain artificially induced by injection of drugs before surgical operations) and intensive care physician, who has studied NDE and a possibility of a survival of consciousness (the state of being aware showing perception or knowledge) after death.  What this means is that the scientist and secular humanist who rant (utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion) about the impossibility of it (survival after death), when face-to-face (involving close contact) with death, sometimes abandon (withdraw from) their former opinion, in that now they are no longer able to control their own destiny (what happens in the future).

Colin Wilson, in Afterlife, makes some observations.  "Dr. Karlis Osis, born in Riga, Latvia in 1917, had worked at Duke University.  Osis was fascinated by the kind of death-bed visions reported by Sir William Barrett.  Osis concludes his study by remarking that his observations need verifying, particularly by studies in other cultures.  This hint was taken up by his colleague Erlendur Haraldsson, who conducted similar studies in India.  It might have been reasonable to expect that, in a totally different culture - particularly one that places less emphasis on life after death - death-bed visions would be of a different kind.  Haraldsson discovered this was not so - the death-bed visions of Indians were much the same as those of Americans.  Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross had visited the extermination camp (a killing center designed and built by Nazi Germany) Maidanek at the end of the Second World War, and established a camp for refugees on the Vista River in Poland.  In America in the early 1960s, now married to a professor of neurology (a study of the disorders of the nervous system) and pathology (a study of diseases) in Chicago, she was struck by the American tendency to ignore death and pretend that it does not exist.  To begin with, her attitude towards life after death was one of skepticism (an attitude of doubt), she was only concerned with the psychological problems involved in accepting death.  Gradually, her study of the dying led her to the conviction that 'survival' is an established fact.  It is also clear that these findings are based upon the study of hundreds of cases.  Compare this with a case described by Kubler-Ross, in which a woman in intensive care went into a critical condition, and the nurse rushed out of the room to get help.  'Meanwhile, this woman felt herself float out of her body.  In fact, she said she could look down and see how pale her face looked.  Yet at the same time she felt absolutely wonderful.  She had a great sense of peace and relief.'  One of the commonest experiences was of a bright light - like the 'thousand arc lights' described by George Ritchie - which seems to radiate a sense of love and warmth - Christians, understandably, are inclined to identify this with Jesus.  There is a sense of direct telepathic communication (knowledge conveyed from one person to another without means of the five senses), without language.  'It was like talking to a person, but a person wasn't there.'  The 'light' may ask probing questions about what the person has done with his [or her] life. 

"Very often there was a sense of some kind of border or limit.  It may be a body of water, a distant shore, a gray mist, or many other things.  The 'dead' person experiences a conviction (firmly held belief) that if he passes this limit, then he is permanently 'dead'.  Until it is passed, there is a choice of returning to the body.  Since all of [Raymond] Moody's interviewees (one who is interviewed) had returned from a near-death experience, he heard many different versions of how a return to the body was accomplished (achieve or complete successfully).  'I just fell right back down to my body.  The next thing I knew I was in my body again.'  But the majority of people simply woke up and found themselves 'alive' again.  Moody's subjects who experienced 'visions of knowledge' seem to be making the point that life after death is not really a continuation of earth life on the same level.  Moody emphasizes how often they say things like - 'It's impossible to explain,' or 'The words I would use are different because there really are not words.'  Our concepts of reality are closely bound up with language, and most accounts of life after death seem to agree that language has become unnecessary.  Kenneth Ring, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, attempted a far more systematic survey than Moody had aimed for.  He noted that Moody made no claim to present scientific evidence about the experience of dying, much less of life after death; in 1977, the year Life After Life appeared, Ring set out to remedy (correct) this shortcoming (a failure to meet a certain standard) by tracking down and interviewing scores of people who had come close to death, and studying the results statistically (analyzing numeric data in large quantities).  In all important respects, Ring's findings confirmed Moody's.  So did those of other researchers - Michael Sabom, Edith Fiore, Maurice Rawlings, Margot Grey, [and] Edith Fiore summarized accounts of more than a thousand near-death experiences.  To read some of these books often gives the bewildering (perplexed and confused) impression of reading the same thing over and over again.  But at least the sheer (nothing other than) repetition drives home (make clearly understood) the fact that Moody's cases were not a random (chosen by chance) sample, selected because they satisfied his own emotional preferences (liking one thing more than another).  Again and again there are the same descriptions of finding oneself in a state of 'disembodiment' (separated from their body), of passing through some kind of tunnel with a light at the end, of a sense of communication with some benevolent being or beings, of some kind of 'review' (a phenomenon in which a person rapidly sees much, or the totality, of their life history), of an experience of some border between life and earth, and of a return to life.

"It has been repeatedly pointed out that all this 'proves' nothing.  James Alcock expressed the basic objection in The Skeptical Enquirer (Spring 1979).  'I have no argument with people's theology or philosophy.  What is bothersome, however, is the necessity these people feel to try to provide objective evidence to support their beliefs.'  This is a perfectly fair objection, but it also seems to overlook the fact that science is based upon repeated observation.  To ignore something that is repeated by thousands of observers would be a contradiction of the scientific attitude.  Ring has the courage to 'remove my white lab coat.  I do believe - but not just on the basis of my own or others' data regarding near-death experiences - that we continue to have a conscious existence after our physical death and that the core experience does represent its beginning, a glimpse of things to come.  Margot Grey, the founder of the International Association for Near-Death Studies in Great Britain, makes a clear connection between near-death experiences and mystical insight (direct communion with ultimate reality) in a passage she contributes to The Relevance of Bliss.  She describes how her own interest in near-death experiences began with a personal insight in 1976.  in India, she was struck down by a fever that lasted three weeks, and she hovered (remain suspended) on the brink of death (about to die).  'I remember looking at my body lying on the bed feeling completely unperturbed (not worried, upset or disquieted) by the fact that it seemed likely that I was going to die in a strange country...but thinking that it was totally unimportant where I left my body, which I felt had served me well and like a favorite worn out coat had at last outlived its usefulness and would now have to be discarded (to throw away because it is useless or unwanted).'  She describes a sense of floating (moving or hovering slowly and lightly in the air) in total darkness, and a sense of being 'at one' with infinite space.  'Later on, I seemed to be travelling down a endless tunnel - I could see a pin-point (a tiny dot or point) of light at the end of the tunnel towards which I seemed to be moving...I remember knowing with absolute certainty that I would eventually be through the tunnel and would emerge into the light, which was like the light of a very bright star, but much more brilliant.  A sense of exaltation (a strong sense of happiness) was accompanied by a feeling of being very close to the source of life and love, which seemed to be one.'

"Most people probably have half a dozen acquaintances who have had near-death experiences and can verify some aspect (a particular feature of something) of the 'core experience'.  On the day I began writing this book, I bumped into (to meet, come across) the wife of a friend on my afternoon walk, and mentioned that I was writing about life after death - she immediately told me about her own near-death experience, which might have come straight out of Moody.  In the middle of the night, feeling very ill with a serious internal complaint, she went downstairs and sat in an armchair (a comfortable chair) feeling sick and exhausted.  Her temperature rose, and she felt consciousness (the state of being aware) slipping away (pass out of existence).  Then she found herself being sucked (involved in a situation a person does not want to be involved in) into a long tunnel with a light at the end.  She experienced a sense of total relaxation (being free from tension and anxiety) and peace, and all her fear of death vanished.  Totally reconciled to the idea of dying, it suddenly struck here that her husband and son would find her body in the chair the next morning - she made an effort to return to her body, and then found herself back in the chair, with her temperature normal again.  The experience convinced her that she need never be afraid of death, and she remarked that it had given her the courage to live as well as to die.  Another local resident described how, after a serious heart attack, he had left his body, and found the room full of a blinding light.  A voice asked him: 'Do you want to live?' - and when he replied 'yes', he opened his eyes [in the room]."  Many people in the 21st century, all over the world, fight with machines - laptop or desktop computers, smartphones or ipads, and etc. - at work or at play, and so death is about the farthest (greatest distance) thing from their minds as is conceivable (capable of being imagined or grasped mentally).  When an individual thinks about great cities such as Hong Kong, London, Paris or Moscow - these are forgotten (no longer remembered) places in evangelical church theology (a study of the nature of God).  But a message of hope applies to them as well (with equal reason).  "Unfortunately, America has a long history of people using [organized] religion to legitimize (officially allow, make acceptable) abhorrent (inspiring disgust and loathing) and blasphemous (impiously irreverent) treatment (the way in which someone behaves) of others (Rev. Paul Roushenbush)."   back to top

Near-death experience.  Elisa Medhus, M.D. wrote an article Life After Death: Why the Growing Interest?  He mentions a reason.  "For one, we've seen a declining membership in, and impact of, the more dogmatic, inflexible religious denominations."  Maurice Rawlings, M.D. wrote a book To Hell and Back.  In it, he recounts a story by David Whitaker, M.D.: "There are people that talk about light, there are people that talk about floating above, there are people that talk about warmth and love, I didn't feel any of that, I felt none of that.  I felt untold terror.  It is very easy to be an atheist when you're successful, but it's very difficult to be an atheist when you're lying on your deathbed."  The Freedom From Religion (or spirituality) Foundation would disagree with the AARP Magazine article, "Is There Life After Death" - "In Michelangelo's painting 'The Last Judgment' [at the Sistine Chapel in Rome] there's little doubt about who's going where.  On the left, a swirl of saints and martyrs ascend Heavenward, their faces a mix of rapture and shock.  On the right, it's a decidedly downward trend, a slightly more populated mix of eternal unfortunates being dragged, pushed, and hurled into the abyss (a hole so deep or a space so great that it cannot be measured)."  The Last Judgment was painted about 500 years ago, but the FFRF doesn't believe in the blackness of darkness forever.  Or this from The Daily Telegraph, "Patients Near Death See Visions of Hell" - "The eerie (strange and mysterious) parallels between the reports of NDEs and traditional views of heaven and hell also defy simple explanation, said Mr. Lawrence (Tony Lawrence, psychology professor at Coventry University, Great Britain).  Attempts to dismiss the images as nothing more than cultural memories do not stand up.  'In fact there seems to be a general lack of cultural factors determining the content of these experiences.  People from many different cultures will describe meeting a figure of light.  They don't meet Jesus or Vishnu or Buddha - although afterwards they may sometimes describe what they saw in that way.  The cultural influences only seem to emerge in the interpretation of what was seen, not in the basic experience itself.'"  FFRF cannot deny that there have been thousands of these experiences.

  The next four NDE stories come from Bible Probe.  "Angie Fenimore, a wife and mother haunted by abuse in childhood and overwhelmed by despair, was in a desperate state of mind.  On January 8, 1991, she committed suicide.  But clinical death didn't draw her to the light seen in so many near-death experiences.  Instead, she found herself in a realm of darkness.  The following is an excerpt from her wonderful book, Beyond the Darkness - My Near-Death Journey to the Edge of Hell and Back: 'I was passing over into a different sphere.  My soul was disconnecting from my body with a hum that kept growing louder, rising to a whine as the vibration of death pulled me deeper.  Where was I?  I was immersed in darkness.  My eyes seemed to adjust and I could see clearly even though there was no light.  The darkness continued in all directions and seemed to have no end, but it wasn't just blackness, it was an endless void, an absence of light.  It was completely enveloping (to be completely enclosed or surrounded).'...'On January 22, 1977, I (Timothy LaFond) was living in Columbus Ohio.  My job was building fire trucks for Sutphen Fire Equipment Corporation in Dublin [Ohio}.  It was Friday about 2:30 in the afternoon, we were putting doors of fire trucks together, punching out the holes on the doors.  The day was a typical cold, winter day and a pile of metal was brought in from outside the plant with snow all over it and of course the snow had melted, which left us standing in a pool of water.  I would put my hand on the pile of metal, on one side of my body, up by my shoulder, and then take it off, and then put my hand on the machine.  Two other guys that I had been talking to at other intervals had walked around the other side of the fire truck.  I touched the metal and the machine with both hands at the same time.  I became the conductor.  Electricity shot through me and it picked my feet fight up off the ground contracting the muscles in my legs.  While I was getting electrocuted crucifixion style, the electricity flowing right through me, I saw my spirit leave my body.  At that time, I didn't know anything about the Bible.  I wasn't a religious person.  I heard the most horrifying, tormenting screams imaginable.  I heard these time and time again, although I never saw who was screaming.'...

"'After I (Athet Pyan Paulu, a Buddhist monk) was discharged from the hospital [for malaria] I went back to the monastery where other monks carted for me.  I grew weaker and weaker and was lapsing in unconsciousness.  My body was prepared for cremation.  Although I faded away in my body, I remember my mind and spirit were fully alert.  I was in a very, very powerful storm.  A tremendous wind flattened the whole landscape until there were no trees or anything else standing, just a flat plain.  I walked very fast along this plain for some time.  At first I was confused until I saw Yama, the king of hell.'...An atheist, Howard Storm was lying in a Paris [France] hospital in 1985 - dying from a perforated (having a series of holes) stomach.  His stomach acids were leaching (a liquid passing through) into his other organs.  Suddenly he was standing up in a surreal (having a quality of a dream) brightly lit hospital room.  He stepped out into the hallway.  The hopelessness of Howard's situation overwhelmed him, especially when he noted he was now in complete darkness."  A book, My Descent into Death, by him, goes into depth and detail.  Matthew Botsford was shot in the head by a 9mm bullet from an Uzi machinegun.  In A Day in Hell, he writes, "Blackness enveloped me as if thick, black ink had been poured over my eyes.  Reaching to my left and my right, up and down, proved the black endlessness of my confines."  Bill Wiese recounts, in 23 Minutes in Hell , of experiencing thirst and dryness while hearing "screams of an untold multitude of people crying out in torment".  Enter the Grim Reaper, the black-cloaked, scythe-wielding (a farming tool with a curved blade and a long handle), personification (an imaginary person that represents a thing or idea) of death.  We all know exactly who he is and what he wants.  He comes for every person going down to the pit, hourglass (a device for measuring time) in hand, waiting for the last grain of sand to fall - a dark soul who goes around to drain people's lives.  "Many people mistakenly believe that Christianity is alone in its portrayal of the after-death journey as an ordeal fraught (causing or having a lot of emotional stress or worry) with dangers.  But this is far from true.  The idea of hell has been depicted in Greek, Judaic, Muslim and Egyptian literature, as well as in Hinduism and Buddhism (The Journey Home, Phillip Berman)." 

On the opposite spectrum (a complete range of different options), people also have positive NDEs.  From Death and the Afterlife, by Brian Innes.  "The striking thing, in what some of those who have been restored to life have to report, is that nearly all seem to have had a range of similar experiences.  These have been classified, in order as follows.  Calm - as soon as they realize that they are the victims of a serious accident or medical crisis, individuals experience, not panic, but peace.  The Black Tunnel - people next discover that they are speeding down a long dark tunnel toward a brilliant light.  The Being of Light - as they emerge from the tunnel into the brilliance, the dying persons are greeted by a Being who is said to 'radiate love and compassion'."  From CNN: "For Laura Geraghty, April 1, 2008 started out just as any other day.  The mother of two, also a grandmother, was at her job, driving a school bus for the Newton Public School District in suburban Boston, Mass., when she realized she was in trouble.  The pain 'went right up my arm and into my chest, and I said to myself - uh-oh, I'm having a heart attack.'  Geraghty, barely conscious, was fading fast.  She was weak and having trouble breathing.  And then she went into full cardiac arrest.  'I floated right out of my body.  It was very peaceful and light and beautiful.'  Next, she says, she was overwhelmed by 'massive energy, powerful, very powerful energy.'  Geraghty was down for 57 minutes.  No blood pressure, no pulse, no oxygen, no blood flow.  She was shocked 21 times before she finally came back.  For Geraghty, it's a daily struggle to put the pieces back together again.  'I've been someplace that not everybody can go, and there's not a lot of people you can sit down and have that conversation with.'" 

Jim Wilhelm experienced a NDE.  "It was the summer of 1991 and I had been trying to sell a home for two years, so one summer morning I decided to go to the home.  I noticed a large wasp nest in the ceiling of the garage.  I proceeded to spray the wasp nest with wasp spray.  I felt the spray coming down over my arms and face, but I decided to just finish spraying until the can was empty.  I wiped my hands and face on some rags in the garage.  I had packed myself a lunch earlier in the day, but with no water available, I was unable to wash my hands prior to eating because the water had been turned off at the house.  I remember how bitter that sandwich tasted because of my dirty hands.  During the evening hours, I began to run a fever and felt generally sick all over.  It felt like I was partially paralyzed.  I recall rolling off the bed.  Somehow I pulled myself up far enough to pull the mirror off the dresser.  The light then came on as my wife came running in.  I asked her to call 911.  Then the next thing I remember was the experience of feeling completely weightless as I was being drawn into a beautiful and loving bright light.  The further along I went, I began to realize there was another person or image in front of me.  I find it difficult to explain the joy I felt.  It's just too amazing for words."  In February 1982 in Newcastle, Australia, Dr. Rene Turner left her optical instrument repair firm to go home and was involved in a horrible car accident that left her with severe damage to her head.  "I have no memory of the process of dying or leaving my body.  I was moving head-first through a dark maelstrom (a situation in which there are a lot of confused activities) of what looked like black-boiling clouds, feeling that I was being beckoned to the sides, which frightened me.  Ahead was a tiny dot of bright light which steadily grew and brightened as I drew nearer.  I became aware that I must be dead and was concerned for Mum and Dad and my sister, and somewhat upset with myself as I thought, 'They will soon get over it.'  I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial (not large or important) walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and mustache.  He wore a simple white robe.  Light seemed to emanate (to come out from a source) from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom.  He welcomed me with great love, tranquility and peace." 

She returned to this earth.  "It took me five years as a zombie (a person who moves very slowly and is not aware of what is happening) before I was able to rehabilitate myself.  I have gainful employment, formed the Head Injury Society of New Zealand in 1987, and am paraded as the example of how well it is possible to recover from acquired brain damage."  She broke a church rule - she was a Jew in paradise.  Jews are supposed to burn in hell unless they accept Jesus as their personal savior.  The downside of death seems to be terror, endless void, tormenting screams, the king of hell complete darkness.  The upside seems to be massive energy, bright light, a man who welcomes with love and peace.  It takes a lot of faith to believe this is all a figment (something that doesn't really exist) of the imagination.  Mr. Innes concludes with a valid point.  "Few people can bear the thought that death could mean the instant and total extinction of every part of themselves.  Even if the physical body is finished, surely the gathered experience of a lifetime of work, or creative activity, of educating and caring for others, is not suddenly to be snuffed out like a candle?  If there is nothing, absolutely nothing, left after the body has been converted into simple chemicals, is there any point in living at all?"  George G. Richie was twenty years old when he was sent to Camp Barkeley, Texas for basic training in 1943, during World War II.  That December, his platoon sat on the ground for two hours, as it was ten degrees above zero, while a lieutenant lectured them on the proper way to clean equipment.  That night the whole platoon coughed.  Richie himself had a distressing near-death experience in an Army hospital. 

By 1977, he was George G. Richie, M.D., a psychiatrist.  He tells his story in a small paperback book, Return From Tomorrow.  He wasn't doing it for the money, as a psychiatrist he made plenty of that.  In the book, a terminal cancer patient came to talk with him.  Richie turned the discussion to the NDE experience.  At first, Fred was angry.  "'If I wanted to hear a lot of mumbo-jumbo (confusing or meaningless words) about death not being the end, I'd have gone to some pie-in-the-sky (an unrealistic prospect) minister.  They'll promise you wings and a harp and anything else you want, if you drop a big enough bill ($money$) in the plate (the offering plate passed around so people will donate to a church).'  I knew enough of Fred's early history to know that anything that even hinted of religion was anathema (something that is very strongly disliked) to him.  The cruelest of the three sets of foster parents with whom he had lived had been a pious (deeply religious) church-going couple.  'I don't know anything about harps and wings...Fred,' I began hesitantly, 'Doctors gave up on me one time too,  I was pronounced dead - sheet pulled up over my head.  The fact that after ten minutes or so I was brought back to live a while longer on this earth is to me just a parenthesis (discontinuity, interlude, interruption).  Fred took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one with a hand that trembled.  'You're asking me to believe that you got a look into some kind of a future life?  That's what you're to say, isn't it - it doesn't matter if this life's a lousy cheat (to be prevented from having things) because everything's coming up roses (a pleasant situation) in the next?'  'I'm not asking you to believe anything.  I'm simply telling you what I believe.  And I have no idea what the next life will be like.  Whatever I saw was only - from the doorway, so to speak.  But it was enough to convince me totally that our consciousness does not cease with physical death.' 

'If you were as sick as you claim,' he asked, eyes on the brown-and-green carpet, 'how do you know you weren't delirious (frantic, distracted, distraught, frenzied, hysterical)?'  'Because, Fred, this experience was the most entirely real thing that's ever happened to me.  Since that time, too, I've has a change to study dreams and hallucinations.  I've had patients who were hallucinating.  There's just no resemblance.'  'You mean you honestly believe we go on...being ourselves?  Afterwards, I mean?'  'I've bet my life on it.  Everything I've done in the last thirty years - becoming a doctor, becoming a psychiatrist, all the hours of volunteer work with young people each week - all of it goes back to that experience.  I don't believe delirium (an acute mental disturbance characterized by confused thinking) could do that, govern a man's entire life.'  'Delirium couldn't,' he agreed.  'But what if it wasn't just a momentary delusion?  What if you've been, you know, off base (not correct) all along.'  'What if I'm crazy, you mean?'  I was smiling but the question was a legitimate one.  'That's a tough one to answer, Fred.  I don't guess any of us can ever be sure we are making sense.  I have one reason for hoping I am, anyway, and that's the grilling they put me through here at the University of Virginia before I could start training as a psychiatrist.  I had to face every senior member of the staff, one by one, answer every kind of question they could put to me.'"  The story of the NDE filled the rest of the book.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead, compiled from the teachings of sages (philosophers) over the years in the country of Tibet, written down in the 12th century A.D., speaks of a clear light of ultimate reality.  Maybe they knew something we don't.  back to top

An atheist and a scammer.  An atheist says there is no God.  He, or she, is betting that these stories from beyond the grave (a place of burial for a dead body) are simply fabrications (falsehoods).  So, are all these NDE people lying or hallucinating?  Maybe.  Some people would prefer to be in an eternal bar sipping a drink, or have endless success in a stock market, or indulge in illicit (involving activities that are not considered morally acceptable) sex forever, but, sadly, it doesn't work that way.  You may either be with the Entity of Light, who is alleged (said to have happened but not yet proved) to be as bright as the sun, wherein people claim to have been happy, forever, or a dark void, a veritable (being in fact the thing named and not false) hole in the ground, with a bonus of tantalizing (to tease and torment) screams.  Worse than any horror movie you have ever seen...or imagined (form a mental picture of).  As the scripture saith: "There are many who are dead and buried.  Some {not all} of them will awake (to become aroused or active again) and live forever (from Daniel)."  Separating the legitimate from the illegitimate, when people push religious issues, can be intriguing (extremely interesting).  The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a part of the Pentecostal Movement, has built a 10,000-seat replica of Solomon's Temple in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

According to the founder, Bishop Edir Macedo, in words spoken before construction: "We are preparing ourselves to build the temple."  For what?  "[Solomon's] Temple used tons of gold, pure gold.  We are not going to build a temple of gold, but we will spend tons of money, without a shadow of a doubt."  About $300,000,000 to be exact.  "It is going to be a knockout," he concludes.  The attitude is vain.  From Wikipedia: "Throughout its history the church (UCKG) has been charged with immoral and illegal deeds, including money laundering, charlatanism (scamming), witchcraft, and intolerance toward Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and other Protestant groups...According to the Brazilian press, a judge accepted prosecutors' claims that the founder (Macedo) of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and nine other leaders laundered more than $2,000,000,000 (two billion dollars) in donations from 2001 to 2009.  It is believed through federal government reports that the money given by followers was gathered, used and placed in private banks in both New York and London.  The money was then sent through Cable Invest, a private bank located in the Cayman Islands.  Finally it was sent to Brazil."  It is not so much what is built, or even how much money is involved, it's the attitude (a way of thinking) that makes or breaks.  back to top

Other monuments.  Other large monuments, not built in a spirit of megalomania, have been well done: the Great Pyramid in Egypt, the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, the Colossus of Rhodes in Greece, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Maitreya Buddha in India.  The Great Pyramid was built around the year 2560 B.C., taking twenty years to complete, at a height of 139 meters (455 feet), 230 meters (696 feet) at the base.  It is a tomb for an Egyptian pharaoh, built for a world leader - a dead man.  The Statue of Liberty, 93 meters (305 feet) tall, was finished in 1886.  Gustave Eiffel (the same one who built the Eiffel Tower) was the French structural engineer who was responsible for the steel framework, the inner support structure of the statue.  The Colossus of Rhodes, a statue to the Greek sun-god Helios, is to be rebuilt at the town of the same name.  It has been over 2000 years since an earthquake destroyed the original, as it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  This 21st century marvel (something that is extremely good) is to cost $272,000,000 and stand 135 meters (443 feet) high.  The statue will straddle (to stand with legs apart) the entrance to the harbor on the island.  The original, back in the day, was built to celebrate the island's victory over Cypriot (people from Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean south of Turkey) invaders.  The Eiffel Tower was constructed from 1887 to 1889 - twenty months; 312 meters (1024 feet) tall, 125 meters (410 feet) at the base.  Built to celebrate the Industrial Revolution, it has had 200,000,000 visitors since 1889.  Like the Great Pyramid, which was the tallest structure in the world for 3800 years, the Eiffel Tower was an audacious (very confident and daring) experiment in its day.  The Crazy Horse Memorial will be 172 meters (563 feet) tall, 195 meters (641 feet) wide.  It is a monument to Native Americans, a mammoth (something that is very large) unfinished mountain carving begun in 1948.  The Spring Temple Buddha is a statue depicting Vairocana Buddha located in the Zhoacun township of Lushan county, Henan, China, built from 1997 to 2008.  The monument has a total height of 153 meters (502 feet), and is the tallest statue in the world.  It consists of 1110 pieces of copper - not copper bronze or brass - cast, with a total weight of 1000 tons.  Beneath the statue is a Buddhist monastery.  What is wrong with honoring the spirit of the God of the universe?  back to top

Lost and found.  There is a story of a dilemma coming out of 9/11 in a quasi (having some resemblance usually by possession of certain attributes) religious country.  "When Marian Fontana saw the south tower collapse, 'My first impression was to drop to my knees and pray.'  Her husband, Dave, was a firefighter; he'd rushed to Lower Manhattan even though he was supposed to have had the day off to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary.  She knelt before the television in her living room, said The Lord's Prayer and tried to bargain with God for Dave's life - offering, she would recall, 'pacts, treaties, promises and vows'.  In the days that followed, with Dave missing, Marian walked around her Brooklyn neighborhood, going church to church, regardless of denomination, begging God to return Dave to her and their five-year-old son.  When she realized her husband was dead, Marian Fontana stopped talking to God.  By the time of his funeral, she writes in her memoir, A Widow's Walk, she wanted to believe in God, but 'something has shifted, and even my limited spirituality seems to have been squashed (to beat into a pulp) among the debris'.  She describes feeling 'like a spurned (to reject something disdainfully) friend' - her relationship with God another casualty of 9/11.  Now, at 41, Fontana says she probably has 'some buried religiosity that's been suppressed since 9/11.  But I'm not in a spiritual realm that is God- or Pope-related' (U.S.A. Today, April 18, 2008)." 

So why does God allow suffering in the world.  The truth is this isn't His playpen (a collapsible enclosure in which a young child may play), it's our playpen.  Us inhabitants of earth are free to do anything we want, good or bad.  If we choose to slaughter each other, we choose to slaughter each other.  You can't really use a Higher Power as a scapegoat (an entity who is blamed for something that someone else has done).  So why connect to the spirit of the God of the universe - because He gives you paradise at death.  As the Book says: "To rescue those who through fear of death were all their lifetimes subject to exasperation (a state of being annoyed or upset)."  St. Augustine lived in the 5th century.  He wrote, in 408 A.D., to woman by the name of Italica, a wealthy Roman widow.  "You should not grieve as the heathen (uncivilized, barbaric or wild) do who have no hope.  We have not lost our dear (highly valued, precious) ones who have departed from this life, but have merely (just, only) sent them ahead of us, so we also shall depart (to die) and shall come to that life [in heaven] where they will be more than ever dear as they will be better known to us, and where we shall love them without fear or parting."   back to top

Purgatory.  This is helpful, but it still does not answer the age old question as to why bad things happen.  Pope Francis spoke to a crowd of 20,000 people at Manila (Philippines) Catholic University, January 2015.  He was asked by Glyzelle Palomar, a 12-year-old, about children who are abandoned by their parents and end up using drugs or in prostitution.  "Why is God allowing something like this to happen, even to innocent children?  And why are there so few who are helping us?"  The Pope said he had no answer.  The problem occurs when not everyone chooses to connect to the Unseen.  Then, bad things can happen.  We may ask questions, like - why did God put us in the position (of having to choose) in the first place.  Because He wants people to do this - choose.  So playing the blame game (a situation in which one person blames [assign responsibility for a fault or wrong] an entity [something that exists separately and has a clear identity] for something bad or unfortunate, rather than attempting to seek a solution [an answer to a problem]) just cuts you out of heaven.  In the first week of April 2015, 400 people died crossing from Africa to Europe in crowded boats journeying through the Mediterranean.  Ahmed Ali, a 19-year-old from Somalia, said the trip was the first time many had been on the open seas.  "When it gets bad, some people become so scared they pray to God to ask what they did to make Him so angry."  The answer is...nothing.  Life can be a form of purgatory (a temporary condition of torment or suffering).  Much of what happens to us, negatively (harmful or not wanted) is self-inflicted, or inflicted by others, due to bad decisions, bad judgment, bad mistakes and etc.  For better, or for worse, we are what we choose to be, or what others have made us. 

As Abraham Lincoln once famously said: "Marriage is neither heaven or hell, it is simply purgatory."  We can have purgatory which occurs due to natural causes - our health breaks down, Mother Nature breaks down (like a typhoon) and etc.  It can be said that God did a poor job of designing things, but again, this is a blame game.  Then there are the issues that occur due to Satan's influence.  An example of this is Adam Lanza, who shot the children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  When he was in the fifth grade he wrote something about killing kids and shooting a mother.  In 2005 he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and the report said he lacked empathy for others.  One month before the shooting, his mother said, he hadn't gone anywhere for three months and only communicated with her by email, even though they lived in the same house.  Satan owned him.  These three points cover the vast majority of purgatory, but then the miscellaneous.  We have people who take advantage of other people's situations, and other things.  Don't think it's purgatory?  Listen to this: "It's another night in hell (a place or state of turmoil or destruction), another child won't live to tell.  Can you imagine what it's like to starve to death.  And as we sit free and well, another soldier has to yell, 'Tell my wife and children I love them' in his last breath.  Habitual offenders...I'll tell you sometimes I don't know what's worse - natural disasters or these wolves-in-sheep's clothes pastors...(Amen, Kid Rock)"  back to top

Balance.  Mark D. Sauter, who GTP Associates in Midland, Mich., wrote this one year after the Sandy Hook shooting.  "Newtown, Conn.  Twenty-six people dead, 20 of them children.  Has anything changed since the school shooting.  As we near Saturday, the anniversary of the tragedy, it appears not.  Is gun control the answer or simply a way to deflect (to keep something, such as a question, from being directed) attention from a deeper social issue - we are out of balance.  A healthy and balanced society requires weight on two sides.  One side reflects our visible, materialistic values, while the other side reflects our intrinsic (built-in, essential, hardwired, inborn, inbred, inherent), deeper needs in terms of contribution, connection and compassion.  Today, we are preoccupied with prosperity and pleasure seeking, and in turn neglect our inner health - socially, emotionally and spiritually.  In large part, investing in this other side is where the real, deeper answers reside.  Unfortunately, we continue to look to temporary or legislative fixes while overlooking our innate (existing from a time a person is born), inner need for compassion, meaning, purpose and hope."  So, some of the problems we put the blame on God for are a result of our own imbalances (a lack of balance).  We get wrapped up in prosperity and drop core values.  Then, bad things happen. 

Adam Lanza's dad, Frank, made some public comments for the New Yorker Magazine.  He and his wife, Adam's mother, divorced in 2009.  He had left her a beautiful Victorian house worth well over one million dollars.  He had worked hard for his money, yet said his son began to change during middle school.  The boy quit playing the saxophone, stopped climbing trees, avoided eye contact and developed a stiff, lumbering gait.  "The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress..."  So did the father pay attention to what was happening to his child during that time and do something about it?  No, he was too busy with the Almighty Dollar, and so aided in the creation of a monster.  The abuse happened in school where the kid was put down, that is - mocked, probably even back to elementary school, which is possibly why Adam chose to strike death there on the rampage (to move in a wild and destructive way).  In Adam Lanza's own deluded (to mislead the judgment of) and demented (not knowing what is real and not real) mind, he may have thought he was exacting just revenge for what society had done to him.  That doesn't help this - Erica Lafferty, whose mother was the principal (the chief executive officer of an educational institution) of Sandy Hook, wrote: "This Thanksgiving I sat at a dinner table with an empty seat.  It's the very seat where my mother, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, should be.  Smiling, laughing and enjoying a holiday meal with her daughters and grandchildren.  Instead, my mom wasn't there because nearly four years ago, she was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with five of her colleagues (an associate in a profession) and 20 first-graders."  back to top

A mother.  A woman in America raises three children with no husband, working two jobs.  She has a rough time keeping the kids under control and paying the bills, at the same time.  Then they rebel and refuse to co-operate.  The situation plays itself out in thousands of cases all over the United States.  If she can be inspired by a message of hope, and come up with some creative solutions, things might not be as bad.  Living "the way of the cross" may let people down at times, but living "the way of the church" can be a nightmare, causing people to go on periodic rampages.  A new earth is the perfect "way" and is not here yet.  God has dumped the mess of the 21st century on us, and while He has not walked away from everything, it is obvious He does not make a thorough effort to fix things.  In Today's debate: Fragile families (U.S.A. Today, January 25, 2010), the title says: "Unwed births keep climbing and the kids are not alright".  From the article: "In 2009, 41% of children born in the USA were born to unmarried mothers (up from 5% a half-century ago)."  The drift went from 5.3% in 1960, 10.4% in '70, 18.4% in '80, 23% in '90, 33.2% in 2000 and 41% in '09.  Conventional marriage is slowly, but surely, becoming obsolete (no longer in use), at least in western civilization.  back to top

Marriage.  Habitual (done regularly) sex outside of wedlock (the state of being married) has pitfalls (danger or problems that are hidden).  "Fornicators will have their place in the lake of fire (from Revelation)."  Fornication means having sex with someone you are not married to as a single (not married) person.  A "fornicator" is someone who does it habitually - a professional at fornication.  That is, a person who has recreational, or casual sex with anyone they so choose.  Adultery, or an open marriage with spouses (married people) free to have numerous partners, is ten times worse.  Better to "slip" with  fornication or two, than to "fall" with an adultery.  For example, a person abused by a church, then that church went on to "trash" the individual's life, making it difficult to marry, might slip in the area of fornication.  This can also apply to a person abused by a parent, step-parent or relative as a child.  Don't walk too close to the edge (dealing with dangerous situations and taking many risks).  What about couples living together as partners - are they "fornicators"?  Many states in the U.S. have what is called common law marriage, but it's like playing with matches (doing things which may cause harm and problems).  Best solution is to have rings (diamonds are best, but any ring, with or without a precious stone, will do) and a contract (a written vow).  Do without the church wedding (as well as the honeymoon) and the license.  An example of a contract: "I,____________, accept you,_____________, to be my significant other.  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will honor you as we live out our lives together."  The contract should be signed by both parties.  It can be customized to suit the particular situation you are in presently.  Then exchange the rings.  This can be done in your house, with or without family/friends present.  A copy of the written contract can be deposited with a "third party", if so desired.  This is similar to a free marriage (sine manu) - marriage without marital power, in the old Roman Empire.  That type of marriage was similar to the "home schooling" concept of a child in this present day.  It means schooling without the power of the government's education system, in the home. 

In the days of Rome, this marriage merely involved the couple living under the same roof, after the signature of a contract.  In a free marriage, spouses kept their property separate and the principle of equality took its place.  In Rome, this marriage could simply be annulled (to declare or make legally invalid or void) by the separation of the couple.  The Romans also had their traditional form of marriage (conventio in manum).  An annulment (there is no divorce) of this 21st century marriage is done by giving back the rings and tearing up the contract (written vow).  In this case, annulment means the marriage never existed.  It is not a civil annulment, or a religious annulment, it is a mutual annulment.  This is a creative marriage.  It may not be the best form of marriage in all the world, but it is strong enough to get you into paradise when you are dead.  Even though this form of marriage is creative, it can be as dull as a conventional marriage, making it work (function properly) is a challenge.  "Marriage is honorable to all and the bed is undefiled (not unclean or impure), but whoremongers (those who practice deviant sexual behavior) and adulterers God will sit in judgment on (from Hebrews)."  If you think about it, the writer of Hebrews lived during the Roman Empire and was most probably referring to both the sine manu and conventio in manum forms of marriage.  Conventional marriage, with its rules and regulations, can be an extreme.  Common-law marriage, with no rules, can be another.  Creative marriage, which can be adapted to suit the circumstances you are in at the present moment, is a middle ground (an area of compromise or possible agreement).  As the Book says: "If you cannot contain [your sexual impulses], then marry.  Better to marry, than to burn [in hell]."  This was probably written by the Apostle Paul, who was a Roman citizen and knew both types, being very well educated.  In the 1930s, '40s and '50s in the U.S., not a few married persons slept together in the same room, but in two separate single beds.  A small table with a lamp, clock, and etc., separated the beds.  Some women like their "space" (being comfortable with who and what you are).  They do not want some grimy (dirtiness and disorder) male, even if it's the husband, sleeping in their bed.  It is like a saying, "Togetherness (cooperativeness, kinship and oneness) is based on the right kind of apartness (separation, detachment and privacy)." 

What happens in these cases, the man sleeps in the woman's bed, she gets fed up (bored, jaded, sick and tired), and then goes to the other extreme (things that are as different from each other as possible) - the man is locked out of the house, in a divorce.  Back in that day, they had more children (requires sexual activity) and less divorce, than now.  Or, in the case of France - husbands killing their wives.  Partially, they just get fed up (annoyed or upset at a situation or treatment) having a woman in their bed - it just gets old (it's not as good as it was in the beginning).  Moreover, there are simply certain codes of conduct (a set of rules outlining social norms [guidelines for expected behaviors] and responsibilities of, or proper practices for, an individual).  The Unseen is not some kind of Hitler, wanting to send anyone and everyone to an eternal concentration camp.  "Those who lead immoral lives...adulterers or homosexuals - will have no share in His kingdom (from I Corinthians)."  What about same-sex marriages, after an historic Supreme Court ruling extended the right to the entire United States.  According to the Book, they may not see paradise (at death).  The Book is the law.  Maybe it is like an extension cord - it has a male and female end.  It does not have two male ends, or two female ends.  "Who changed the truth into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.  For this cause God allowed them morally abhorrent (deserving strong dislike) affections - for even their women changed the natural use [of the man] into that which is against nature (that is, another woman).  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, desired another man.  So, God gave them over to a reprobate (debased, decadent, degraded, depraved, dissipated or dissolute) mind (from Romans)."  This may, or may not, please the LGBT community.  But, will the Unseen enforce the law on Judgment Day, or will He bend the rules (to allow someone to do something that is usually not allowed) given the unique circumstances we all live under in the 21st century.  Some may comment that what happening in Orlando, Fl. at a gay bar, with forty-nine dead in one of the worst mass shootings since 9/11, was some kind of judgment.  But it is no more of a "judgment" than Muslim migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, or Jews incinerated (to burn completely) in the Holocaust under Nazism.  back to top

Games of the church.  While in places like China and the Middle East the church struggles to survive, and in places like Britain and France the church is partially (to a limited extent) ignored, a certain percentage of the Protestant church in America likes to play little games.  A Baptist businessman hires a homeless man to hang sheetrock (used for drywall) in a house.  He pays him $10.00/day plus a motel room.  The Baptist pays the homeless dirt (something worthless).  So, the homeless steals from the Baptist.  No mercy (forbearance shown) - the Baptist puts the homeless in jail.  A church woman hires a man to paint the trim (exterior door, some siding, windows) on her house.  When he is one day late on completion, he is paid 50% of the amount owed (no mercy).  Another church woman hires two men to fix valves in her sprinkler system.  The house has the luxury of an indoor pool.  When a mistake is made, after two new valves are installed, resulting in a water leak, the woman does not give the men a chance to fix it, instead fires them, unpaid, and hires somebody else (unforgiveness - that is, forgiveness withheld).  A woman lives on social security (a government fund that makes payments to people who are unable to work).  When a check is lost in the mail and must be re-sent, causing a delay in the rent payment, her Baptist landlady evicts her (no mercy).  The misconduct (improper behavior) threads its way up (moves carefully, changing direction, in order to avoid embarrassment) into church leadership.  A young woman who works in the banking system, has a church visitation ministry in a big city church, does not receive a kiss from a farm boy on a first social date. 

Her response: "I don't want to eat with him, I don't want to talk to him, I don't want him calling me on the phone (unforgiveness)."  A Pentecostal church leader visits a home.  When he sees a little girl put on some of her mother's makeup (cosmetics applied to a face), he tell her: "You'll go to hell for wearing mommy's makeup."  An out-of-work construction worker drops in on a Pentecostal church service.  At the end of the service, the preacher mingles (moves around at a social function) with the audience, still seated, stands in the front of the unemployed construction worker and says: "You'll burn in hell if you don't pay your tithe."  A minister ex-communicates a parishioner (a person who attends a local church) for "calling former members of the church" as his church was falling apart (unforgiveness).  A minister in the Assembly of God: "Nothing wrong with pronouncing a curse upon a Jew, let them be accursed."  An obscure (not well-known) scripture is used to justify the hate speech: "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed."  Another Assembly of God minister falsely accuses a distraught (upset) parishioner of accusing him (the minister) of committing adultery with a female parishioner.  Her mother had divorced her father - the mother came to the church, the father didn't.  The daughter (female parishioner) was staying temporarily at the parsonage (minister's home).  And lastly, a congregation (people who attend a religious service) participates (takes part) in a satanic ritual (done as part of a ceremony) to absolutely (with no qualification, restriction or limitation) destroy a needy person's life.  There are those who think the Protestants can just "ride out the storm" (to deal with a difficult situation without being harmed or damaged too much).  But some want change (making an essential difference).

The Catholic Church.  The citadel (stronghold) of Christianity, that can trace its roots all the way back to St. Peter.  From "Today's debate - Abusive priests" April 5, 2010, U.S.A. Today: "The Catholic Church, again reeling from child sexual abuse scandals, has had more chances than most institutions to come clean, purge its problems and make amends (compensation for a loss or injury).  Yet it has failed repeatedly to do so, leaving a scandal that might have ended in the 1980s to fester (to become worse as time passes) for a quarter century.  Priests who molested children and bishops who covered up the crimes - and, in so doing, enabled the abuse of more children - have betrayed victims and parishioners alike.  Now similar scandals are cascading (a large number of things that happen quickly) across Europe - through Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Pope's native Germany.  And in every country, the script has been the same - cover-ups and transfers of priests that enabled more abuse.  Details of the Irish scandal help expose the culture that fostered it.  In 1975, an up-and-coming Irish priest did not report to authorities charges by two boys that they had been molested.  He has since said that was the wish of his superiors.  Instead, the boys were forced to sign an oath that they would not tell anyone - not police, not even their families - about their accusations, which were handled by a secret church inquiry.  The accused priest stayed in the ministry and went on to become one of Ireland's most notorious (famous for something bad) abusers.  The younger priest became head of the church in Ireland.  In case after case, the church has faced choices between protecting children or protecting itself.  It has consistently (behaving in the same way) chosen the latter, and in doing so has protected neither."  Pope Benedict XVI, at the end of the Roman Catholic Church's Year of the priest celebrations, 2010: "We...insistently (demanding that something happen) beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved."  But fifty years of child abuse cannot be erased with some sweet words (talking to people nicely [pleasantly]).  Actions speak louder (what you do is more important than what you say).

The degradation (the act or process of damaging something) is not so serious in the Orthodox Church.  From the London Telegraph - "Russian Orthodox Church embroiled (involve in conflict or difficulties) in corruption scandal": "An undercover investigation of Russian TV into Archpriest Mikhail Grigotriev of Kazan has raised wider questions about the propriety (rules of correct social behavior) of the country's clerics and their relationship with wealthy donors who contribute to restoration work.  In the case of Father Grigotriev, he was shown to own a BMW jeep, a Mercedes Jeep, and a Mercedes sedan as well as three apartments and a country house.  To add insult to injury, a secret camera filmed the priest talking about his love of Italian designer clothes and fine dining (September 26, 2011)."  Michael Gordon in the New York Times: "In an unusual disciplinary action, the Russian Orthodox Church removed a Bishop who's been widely accused of corruption and sexual impropriety.  Today (July 22, 1999), Church officials said that Bishop Nikon Mironov, 39, was being 'retired' from the diocese (territorial jurisdiction of a bishop) of Yekaterinburg for provoking divisions among the clergy and believers.  More than fifty priests had accused Bishop Nikon of demanding huge fees to resolve administrative disputes, drunkenness and open homosexuality."  And last, from RT (Russian television): "One of the convents (a local community of a religious order) in central Russia has made headlines after accusations of victimizing children from a boarding school based at the convent.  Former students of the Svyato-Bogolyubovsky convent said that the nuns beat the children with belts.  'They beat us often, sometimes three times a day,' recalls Ksenia Golovchenko, a former convent boarding student.  'We cried every day.  Our eyes were never dry, and always puffy (slight swelling).'  This is not the first time the convent has been accused of child abuse (October 21, 2010)."  In Russia, it begins with ostentation (an unnecessary display of wealth), goes through unethical conduct, and ends with sadistic behavior.  back to top

Jesus' response.  Jesus Christ's reaction to the situation (to paraphrase): "The prostitutes and drug dealers will get into paradise before you, religious leader."  Jesus' words continue.  "Woe (grief, regret or distress) to you, religious leaders.  You shut the door to the possibility of heaven in humanity's (people's) face.  You yourselves will not enter, nor will you let enter those who attempt to."  This is not the Jesus of Sunday School books.  That Jesus was gentle, kind, understanding - and probably a little bit of a weakling (a weak person).  This Person was power itself, a Man made out of light, older than time and yet more modern than anyone in this world.  A nomad (a person with no permanent home, like a rock star who spends 365 days a year in tour buses) on the planet, He was having a spiritual moment.  He concluded: "Woe to you religious leaders, hypocrites (persons who pretend to be a certain way, but really act and believe the total opposite).  For you shall receive the greater damnation (the eternal dooming of a person's soul to the infinite [limitless or endless] tortures of hell)."  There seems to be a place below hell especially (used to emphasize the importance of one thing among others) designed for them.  It is no different now, as it was then.  With the unpleasant experiences individuals have had with these sociopaths going on their witch-hunts in American Protestant churches, the targets' response can be: "Forget the church, and forget the church's God."  Which means if they are weak, they may miss out on paradise.  The church just makes it worse: "You should have got out before you got hurt," and "Forgive seventy times seven (i.e. 490 times)."  What constitutes (makes up, forms, composes) a sociopath?  "Sociopaths are masters at deception.  People are easily sucked into their destructive influence.  They tend to do bizarre, sometimes erratic things.  Beware of fact-checking the sociopath by asking other people under his or her influence.  A sociopath will usually have a small group who not only believe the fictional tales, but who actually internalize those fictions to the point where they rewrite their own memories to be consistent with them (natuaralnews.com)."  Or a witch-hunt.  "In modern terminology 'witch-hunt' has acquired usage referring to the act of seeking and persecuting any perceived enemy, particularly when the search is conducted using extreme measure and with little regard to actual guilt or innocent (Wikipedia)."  "A witch-hunt is a broad tide of hate and punishment based on myth (an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true - www.catre2.com)."  back to top

Satanic cursing.  The games of the church set up for satanic cursing.  It is "satanic" to push people away from the possibility of entering heaven.  And it is a "curse" to send them to hell.  So, the sociopath goes on a witch-hunt which results in satanic cursing against a target, and the sociopath feels empowered (to give power to) and energetic.  In certain churches, curses are allowed - a definition can be that of a mystical (of or relating to supernatural agencies) force which works against a person.  Curse in the Bible means an imprecation, that is "to invoke evil on" (ta'alah in the Hebrew and katara in the Greek).  Curses are not idle nonsense, but potent sources of energy.  A curse can be something like an evil thing moving up from the past.  A few in organized religion believe it is imperative to invoke the power during a curse, then to punish to person who is the target.  The reason it works is because a victim is receptive to the intent and allows it to happen.  When a person experiences weakness such as emotional shock, physical trauma, fearful experiences during childhood or other areas to which the natural walls of defense in the physical, spiritual or emotional system are weakened, it can leave that individual open and vulnerable.  The power remains in force until such time as the energy is neutralized.  It will stay with an individual ethereally (lacking material substance) until dissipated (to cause something to disappear) and/or released.  Some people live under a curse but are ignorant.  If you notice an evil pattern in your life, that should tell you something.  Satanic and dark-sided energies are the most focused and concentrated of the negation (something that is the absence of something actual) an individual will ever come across.  This is about people being taken advantage of by a rogue (isolated, dangerous or uncontrollable) church.  Taking advantage of another person while they are struggling, depressed or disillusioned is one of the worst spiritual violations anyone can commit.

Jesus does have respect for His cross.  It is a Methodist circuit rider, a Baptist hell-fire sermon, the "holiness movement" of history.  The project  is called American Cross, as a sixth reason - an emblem of a spiritual heritage (traditions, achievements, beliefs) - as it bottles historical American Christianity, letting the best parts out to the globe.  Certain of the clergy in South Dakota have labeled the monument an "ornament", a decoration" a "Tower of Babel".  Other big projects received a fair share of sarcasm (affront, epithet, insult, slur).  As the Eiffel Tower was built some Parisians said it was a "monstrosity", a "skeleton", a "Cyclops (a giant in Greek mythology with a single eye in the middle of its forehead)".  The National Grand Theater, an opera house in Beijing, China was completed in June 2007.  "The exterior of the theater is a titanium accented glass dome that is completely surrounded by a man-made lake.  The dome measures 212 meters (695 feet) east/west, 144 meters (473 feet) north/south, and is 46 meters (151 feet) tall.  Guests arrive in the building after walking through a hallway that goes underneath the lake (Wikipedia)."  It has been called a "giant egg", a "water drop", a "big bubble" by the Chinese.  However, buildings will have little effect (a change that results when something is done) in the Hereafter.  "Before Him shall be gathered all nations - and He shall separate them as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats.  He will set the sheep on the right, the goats on the left.  Then the Ruler will say to those on the right: 'Inherit the happiness prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, when I was homeless you took me in, when I was sick you visited me, when I was in prison you came.'  Then will the righteous answer Him, 'Sir, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink, or homeless and took you in, or sick or in prison and visited you?'  Then the Ruler will answer and say, 'Inasmuch as you have done it for one of the least of those in need, you have done it for me.'  Then He will say to those on the left, 'Depart from me you cursed, into the lake of fire.  For when I was hungry or thirsty or homeless or sick or in prison, you did nothing.'  Then they will answer, 'Sir, when did we see you in any of these situations and did not aid you?'  He will answer, 'Inasmuch as you didn't do it for one in need, you did it not for me.' (paraphrase from Matthew)"  A goat in, or out, of the church receives "everlasting punishment".  A sheep in, or out, of the church receives "life eternal".  back to top

Cross and outbuildings.  The site will have a visitor center, built out of stone with a commercial blue tin roof, with 1) a gift shop to include: a) various crosses - rings, necklaces, statuettes (small statues), inside and outside wall emblems (pictures with a motto or set of verses intended as a moral lesson) of different sizes, shapes and materials, b) candles encased in glass with the words "love will triumph over hate" etched on them, c) angel figurines (small figures or models), d) plaques with prayers such as "may the grace of God's protection and His great love abide within you home", e) plaques with verses relating to the End of Days, such as "God shall wipe away all tears" or "there shall be no more death" or "I make all things new", f) scripts of the screenplay Beltane as well as copies of the book Horse Creek, g) framed photographs of the Cross, and h) many more gifts of interest; 2) a book/video store with books by authors such as St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John and Charles Wesley, D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, and DVDs such as The Ten Commandments, Passion of the Christ, Ben-Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Robe, Barabbas.  All (very single one) of the items in the gift shop and the bookstore will be offered for sale online, so that people who cannot visit the site (the location of an actual or planned structure) can still obtain one or more of them for their home or office, residing (to dwell permanently or continuously) in any part of the four corners of the earth.  A second building will contain an expansive (comprehensive, extensive, inclusive) Global (relating to the whole world) Research (studious inquiry or examination) Institute (an organization for the promotion of a cause).  Many of the subjects which are presented on the ACG webpage will be brought to life (making something more real or exciting) through very large pictures and videos - with appropriate comments (written remarks expressing an opinion, suitable or acceptable for a particular situation) - inside of the building.  Examples are near-death experiences, pertinent (relevant or applicable to a particular matter - such as) social/political issues of the day, and Armageddon.  Everything that is in the Institute will displayed on the worldwide web.  The Institute will be located underground, as there are high winds in the area - a tornado leveled part of a small town 66 kilometers (30 miles) away in 2007.  Also, there is always a remote possibility (there is only a very small chance it will happen) that a psychopath (a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior) might fly a private jet into the monument.  People should be safe from these 1-in-10,000 occurrences (incidents or events).  In case of emergency, people will be able to go down to the Institute from the visitor center or from an entrance above the Institute, either by elevator or staircase (a set of stairs).  The property is to be located about forty miles from Dodge City, which, with a population of 20,000, has over 100,000 visitors from seventeen countries every year.

The cross and outbuildings will be the subject of videos, and also put online - useful for people who live in big cities, and only have steel canyons (skyscrapers) to view.  The concept (an idea of how something is) of the cross project isn't so much to bring visitors in, but to have the monument go out.  In other words, instead of people having to come to it to see things, the monument, the gift shop-book/video store and Institute come to them - all over the world.  There will be a virtual tour of everything on site, so that a person who cannot visit, living anywhere in the world, can literally (actually, really and truly) walk around the monument, and take a tour (a visit to a place or area) of the Global Research Institute.  A virtual tour is for people who want to see a 313 meter mirror-finish, stainless-steel cross from home.  They may not want to spend precious (valuable) vacation time on the road to this location.  A virtual tour is a simulation (something that depicts something else - a most accurate representation so that an individual feels they are there) of an existing location, usually composed of a series of videos.  For those who have the time and finances, an individual fly in from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Dallas, Denver, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Phoenix and etc., to Dodge City, Kansas, rent a car, and drive to the site as there will be ample parking.  There will be walking trails - handicap accessible (in compliance with Federal guidelines), so that they can look at a 313 meter cross from a different point of view.  There will be picnic tables scattered about, so that individuals can sit and ponder (give serious and careful thought - to weigh in the mind).  They are welcome to bring food and drink onto the site, but due to an idea of trying to keep the monument somewhat sacred, there will no food or drink sold on the premises.  Also available will be plenty of drinking fountains (devices producing a small jet of water for drinking) and handicap accessible restrooms (bathrooms in a public building).  The point is, there are all sorts of people with heavy problems that living in their own little world they cannot seem to resolve.  But, being able to get away from it for a weekend, or for a day during the week, perhaps they can gain inspiration on how to solve a family problem, career problem, financial problem, health problem, retirement problem, drug problem, relationship problem, landlord problem, neighbor problem, church problem, harassment problem, swindle problem, religious problem and etc.  They have to able to relax and unwind, or 80% of what is on site will go in one ear and out the other, they won't get much out of it, they will feel bored after a couple hours, their problem will not be resolved, and their trip will have been a waste.  back to top

Online cross.  Most people will not have the opportunity to see the monument.  They may be too busy with their own lives, or lack the finances, to come see it in person.  These could be persons from all over the world who might have an interest, American nationals living overseas or possibly troops stationed on an aircraft carrier.  However, to repeat what has been said before, it is an internet cross, available to over three billion people who use the worldwide web, as of 2018.  They can look at it on their cell phones.  Everything in the giftshop/bookstore will be able to be purchased online.  People don't even need to come see it, it comes to them.  According to a State Farm survey, for example, 24% of U.S. drivers access the internet while driving.  Near-death experiences are striking as to who gets into paradise and who doesn't.  "It is noteworthy that the reports of near-death experiencers who have wound up in heaven and hell do not follow the lines of belief and doctrine.  In this book we have accounts of Fundamentalist Christians and Unitarians in hell and of atheists, Hindus, and Jews in heaven.  When it comes to the message of who God is and what is required of us, there can be no doubt that the message universally is consistent.  The Being of Light has many names that fit the religious frame of reference of the beholder.  This makes sense and was alluded (to make indirect reference) to in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  How else would God be revealed to us?  All religious revelation filters through we finite beings who are products of our culture, our time, and our symbolic language.  Like the wisdom of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it would seem from the accounts of the near-death experiencers that God is interested in what is in our heart and not what is in our creed (a statement of basic beliefs).  It is the love for God and one another that is important.  To love others is to love God. 

"Many near-death experiencers have come back disgusted with the religious dogma (set of beliefs taught by a religious organization) of their formal religion, but filled with the love for God and others.  They reject dogma, but not the teachings of Jesus and the other prophets.  They reject religion, but not spirituality (Visions of God from the Near-Death Experience, Ken R. Vincent)."  Rodney Needham, in Belief, Language and Experience, attempts to explain this.  "I realized that I could not confidently describe their attitude to God, [as to] whether this was belief or anything else.  In fact, as I had glumly (lacking in cheer, morosely) to conclude, I just did not know what was their psychic attitude (the next stage of humanity) toward the personage (a distinguished person) in whom I had assumed they believed.  Clearly, it was one thing to report the received ideas to which a people subscribed (to give or express one's approval), but it was quite another matter to say what was their inner state (the way we perceive the world) when they expressed or entertained such ideals.  If, however, an ethnographer (those who study and record one or more human cultures) said that people believed something when he did not actually know what was going on inside them, then surely his account of them must, it occurred to me, be very defective in quite fundamental (serving as an original or generating source) ways."  What this means is that what people say they believe does not necessarily coincide (to occur or exist at the same time) with what they actually believe.  back to top

PTLHeritage USA, a now-defunct Christian theme park, water park and residential complex, was built at Forest Mill, South Carolina by PTL Club founders televangelist Jim Bakker and the later Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner.  Facilities did include the 501-room Heritage Village Church, a 400-unit campground, the Jerusalem Amphitheater, conference facilities, a skating rink, prayer and counseling services, full cable TV network production studios, Bible and evangelism school, staff and volunteer housing, visitor retreat housing and Heritage Island water park.  So what's the difference between that and this.  The big difference with this project is...it's a cross.  A fundamental difference is Bakker was a member of a denomination which has certain leaders who use what could be classified as a voodoo spell - magic of the psychic arts.  American Cross Global was begun by someone who had the arts used on him by this denomination many years ago.  A truly powerful spell was cast because a pastor felt this person, who was a member of his church then, had done him wrong.  The glass shattered, so to speak.  The pastor wrecked vengeance on the individual, who felt the wrath of his pastor's anger and was very sorry he had ever questioned anything.  It could be said this denomination is your number one source for all things magical.  The last difference is, a spiritual landmark will be done in more of a Spartan (marked by simplicity and avoidance of luxury) manner.  From sbno.illictohio.com: "The size of Heritage [U.S.A.] was impressive, but the quality of the park was equally noteworthy.  This wasn't a thrown together mess of false facades (front of a building) of cheap little buildings like many parks, but instead, a well built, well planned, well landscaped, and well thought out resort.  Right around 1987, Jim's (Bakker) world began to fall apart.  Various people from various directions became distracted by the money going through Heritage.  Jim was selling lifetime memberships for $1000 a pop (each one).  This got you a three day stay every year at PTL.  Unfortunately, they sold more memberships than they built rooms...this was a red flag for some, coupled with the large numbers coming in, and people began to watch...namely, the IRS, FCC, etc.  That was the way Heritage died." 

The Upper Room Chapel was one of the only spiritual aspects of Heritage U.S.A.  Russell James purchased and reopened it November 19, 2010.  If Bakker had stuck to a message of hope, he might not have had such a mess.  He didn't, and it fell apart.  An Iron Angel is being done to benefit people's lives on a strictly spiritual basis.  Hopefully it will fare (succeed) a little better.  "Iron Angel" is a nickname for the cross.  The project is being done, in part, as a reaction to the mysterious world of a strange religious cult.  Following an invocation (the summoning [calling upon] of the supernatural), a frightening apparition (an unusual or unexpected sight) was seen.  It was understood and accepted that something very ancient and very evil had surfaced in the world.  Iron Angel speaks of a rebirth (spiritual regeneration [renewal or restoration]), of a coming back from hell, then a shunning (persistently avoid, ignore or reject) of being hellbound (a hellish state), and finally of dealing with the Unnamed One.  The Teutonic Knights were the first to use an "iron cross", in the 14th century.  The Knights aided in the spread of Christianity to eastern Europe, having originated in Acre, Israel as an independent entity.  They were not just Germanic, spreading to Poland, Austria and Italy as well.  Initially, the Knights were formed to aid Christians on their pilgrimages (a journey to a holy place) to the Holy Land (i.e. Israel) and to establish hospitals.  An Iron Angel is being done to aid people on a pilgrimage to paradise.  back to top

Mt. Rushmore.  Between October 4, 1927 and October 31, 1941 in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted colossal 18 meter (60 foot) tall carvings of the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.  The vast majority of the work was done between 1934 and 1939 - during the Great Depression.  This was a time when men, women and children all struggled through the challenges of a collapsing economy.  Malnutrition, poverty and fear ran rampant in America.  John Steinbeck, author of a 1939 book The Grapes of Wrath, which later was a movie, traveled around California meeting poor, migrant farm workers.  He wrote a series of newspaper articles in 1936, published in the San Francisco News.  "Here is a house built by a family who has tried to maintain a neatness.  The house is about 10x10 feet, and is built completely of corrugated (having a wavy surface) paper.  The roof is peaked, the walls are tacked to a wooden frame.  The dirt floor is swept clean, and along an irrigation ditch or in a muddy river, the wife of the family scrubs clothes without soap and tries to rinse out the mud in muddy water.  The spirit of this family is not quite broken, for the children, three of them, still have clothes, and the family possesses three old quilts and a soggy, lumpy mattress.  But the money so needed for food cannot be used for soap nor for clothes.  With the first rain the carefully built house will slop down in a brown, pulpy mush (something shapeless).  In a few months the clothes will fray (rub off) off the children's bodies, while the lack of nourishing food will subject the whole family to pneumonia when the first cold comes."  Transient (passing through a place with only a brief stay) workers of the period included former professionals from all industry sectors and people of all races displaced by the economic downturn.  These were white-collar workers, farmers, wives and children of men long gone.  They walked all over America looking for a livelihood (earning money in order to live). 

It is moral depravity (a corrupt act) to have spent the money and the time to carve a mammoth (something that is very large) sculpture honoring some of the greatest men who ever lived while three-year-old American children are running around, in camps, wearing gunnysacks (a large bag made of rough, heavy cloth) tied to their waists for clothing.  The funds for the monument could have been put to a better use making lives more tolerable in the camps, then.  Twenty years later, in the 1950s when prosperity returned to America, the monument could have been done.  These Presidents were constructed on a mountain called Six Grandfathers, as it was known to the Lakota Sioux.  The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 granted the Black Hills to the Sioux in perpetuity (forever).  The United States then stole the land from the tribe eight years later, because gold had been found in the Black Hills.  Charles Rushmore, a New York lawyer, had the mountain named after himself while inspecting a tin mine in the Hills in 1885.  Meanwhile, Native Americans on the reservation in western South Dakota experienced epidemics (an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly) and hopelessness, which finally culminated (ended) in the massacre of women and children at Wounded Knee in 1890.  The National Park Service took control of the project in 1933, but never paid the Sioux for the property.  In 1980, an offer was finally made, but not accepted, as they wanted the land back.  In the majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Blackmun stated: "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing [with Native Americans] will never, in all probability, be found in our history." 

Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor, was a former (previous) member of the Ku Klux Klan.  While he sat on the Imperial Koncilium (a council of high ranking Klansmen who oversaw the transfer of power) in 1923, Borglum had backed D.C. Stephenson's candidate, Hiram Evans, for Imperial Wizard (national head of the Knights of the KKK).  Stephenson then sent Borglum a letter thanking him for his efforts on behalf (in the interest of) of the Klan.  Stephenson, Grand Dragon (title and rank of a KKK state leader) of the Klan, was later convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a social worker.  Four years later, in 1927, Borglum won the job at Mt. Rushmore, S.D.  Why would South Dakota choose to hire a recent high-ranking member of the KKK to do this monument?  "In 1915, White Protestant nativists (a policy of favoring native inhabitants as opposed to immigrants) organized a revival of the Ku Klux Klan near Atlanta, Georgia, inspired by their romantic view of the Old South as well as Thomas Dixon's 1905 book The Clansman and D.W. Griffith's 1915 film Birth of a Nation.  This second generation of the Klan was not only anti-Black but also took a stand against Roman Catholics, Jews, foreigners and organized labor.  It was fueled by growing hostility to the surge in immigration that America experienced in the early 20th century along with fears of Communist revolution akin (essentially similar) to the Bolshevik (a member of the political party that started to ruled Russia in 1917) triumph in Russia in 1917 (www.history.com)."  Fast forward (a state in which something is quickly developing) to a century later.  Rolling Stone did an article, August 26, 2016, entitled Call the Alt-Right Movement What It Is - Racist as Hell.  "The Associated Press released new guidelines for using the term alt-right.  The new rules urge journalists to connect the group to KKK members (Jim Hoft, November 26, 2016)."  Cynthia Haynes wrote an article - Alt-Right: the Rise of the New KKK, November 28, 2016, for National Memo.  "The appellation (identifying name or title) 'alt-right' sounds trendy (very fashionable), like alternative rock.  It severs (divide by cutting or slicing) a white supremacist (a person who believes that one group of people is better than all other groups) ideology from its Ku Klux Klan roots."  It could be said, then, that Mt. Rushmore may have alt-right tend (a prevailing tendency).  back to top

A power to heal.  A message of hope is being done by American Cross Global, a registered Delaware Corporation with a F.A.A. permit.  The monument will have support cables from the top of the cross and from the end of each horizontal cross-member to the ground, similar to a television tower.  If the cross were free-standing, it would become more of a target for Nature and Man.  Due to safety concerns, there can be nothing in the monument itself - no visitors allowed inside the structure.  This is due to the problem of natural disasters - as when a tornado leveled part of the town of Greenburg, Kansas, 66 kilometers (30 miles) away in 2007 - and the problem of being a terrorist target.  This may entail an attack by a small plane to the outside of the structure.  Or, it could be a high-tech plastic bomb or a biological weapon smuggled into the structure, in spite of metal detectors and security.  The spirit of the God of the universe has the power to heal, which a cross does symbolize.  A power to heal doesn't necessarily mean physical healing - we have in America excellent hospitals which perform medical miracles routinely.  It does mean emotional healing - we have millions of people in America and around the globe who have been through an emotional trauma and need some form of help.  As with Time: "57.4% is the percentage of Americans, according to a recent study, who believe God can heal."  That is, those who have been through a painful divorce, children growing up in one parent homes, a trip in an ambulance, people suffering a financial catastrophe, military personnel back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and other situations which occur in people's lives. 

A classic example of this is a story told in the November 29, 2016 issue of U.S.A. Today.  It tells "of one combat veteran's desperate fight against the self-destructive urges pulsing (underlying sentiment or opinion) through a generation of men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan."  Brandon Ketchum, a combat veteran, had issues with PTSD.  "On July 7 [2016], the day he saw [Veterans Administration] psychiatrist Anthony Miller, agency officials in Washington released early findings from a sweeping analysis of suicides among veterans.  There were 7403 in 2014 alone.  On average, 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were unique in physical and emotional demands.  Because the wars lasted so long, large numbers of troops were required to serve multiple deployments (sending troops into duty) that added up to years of cumulative (increasing by successive additions) combat duty.  Ketchum did three tours [of duty]."  He chose to be a combat engineer in the Marine Corps, clearing roadside bombs - IEDs.  In Afghanistan, Ketchum's company (a military unit) "cleared 92 bombs in seven months.  Ketchum earned a Combat Action Ribbon.  They worked out of armored vehicles, but there were detonations (to break open because of internal pressure - blow up, explode, go off) that left them stunned (to make senseless, groggy or dizzy by a blow).  At the time, military medicine barely understood what exposure to a bomb blast could do to the brain and how rest is required to allow recovery.  There were insufficient (inadequate, deficient, short, lacking) field resources to deal with increasing cases of post-traumatic stress disorder - or PTSD, the chronic (being such by habit and not likely to change) anxiety (an uneasy state of mind usually over the possibility of an anticipated misfortune or trouble) and memory flashback (a past incident recurring vividly in the mind) illness that service members suffer after terrible events."  He shot himself dead with a .45-caliber pistol July 8, the day after he saw a shrink (a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist).  back to top

Post-traumatic stress.  According to the USO: "Today, our nation faces a challenge unseen for generations - after more than a decade of combat, thousands are coping with invisible wounds."  It's not just the veterans who have the affect of PTSD.  Jarrell Brooks' wound, from the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre, was seven inches long and three inches deep and had to be packed with gauze.  "You can't leave these people alone in a room for any period of time," according to his mother.  "Bill Badger, a retired Army colonel, had a flashback of dead and injured people on the ground a day after he was shot [in Tucson, Arizona] along with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and seventeen others Saturday (January 8, 2011).  Doctors say the physical wounds of the mass shooting, in which six people died and thirteen were wounded, are healing, but many of the survivors face a long recovery from the emotional trauma.  'As far as putting things back together from a surgical point of view, that's all been done very well,' says Peter Rhee, trauma chief at the University Medical Center.  'But we've got to bring them back as a whole human being.'  Most victims of physical trauma have nightmares in which they relive the experience, flashbacks and insomnia, says Beverly Dexter, a psychologist at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in California.  Many victims of the Tucson shooting may also develop fears of going out in public, crowds, shopping centers and any kind of loud noise, Dexter says.  Joe Boscarino, who has treated combat veterans and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, says some of his toughest cases were veterans who feel responsible for lives lost.  'They're riddled with guilt,' says Boscarino, an expert on post-traumatic stress at Geisinger Clinic in Danville, Pa.  'It becomes an existential crisis for them.'  Often they lose all belief and descend into a spiritual crisis that psychology alone cannot cure (U.S.A. Today, January 14, 2011)." 

As Dayna Cohen of Oceanside, N.Y., who lost a home in Hurricane Sandy, said: "It's draining."  From the same newspaper, June 15, 2016.  "Kathy Platoni can never forget the soldier who died in front of her during the mass shooting that left thirteen dead at Fort Hood, near Kileen, Texas, seven years ago.  She still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from that day.  A clinical psychologist who was an Army reservist in 2009, Platoni was in a building directly adjacent to where those shootings occurred when a mortally wounded Army Capt. John Gaffaney was carried in.  She knelt down to see his last breath."  Harry Croft is a San Antonio, Texas psychiatrist who evaluated veterans with combat related anxiety for over two decades.  According to him, 20% of veterans who return from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have some form of PTSD, which also affects around 7% of the general population, or about 20,000,000 persons.  Five Finger Death Punch, a band, did a song in 2014 concerning homeless veterans, containing the words - "Wrong side of heaven and righteous side of hell."  Meaning, veterans in these circumstances may think themselves to be inbetween (a state or position that is in the middle).  But, cheer up (become happier) - Lazarus, the beggar (a pauper, a derelict or a drifter), got paradise when he died, while the rich man was in hell.  A skeptic (a person who questions or doubts something) may say, "On a societal (relating to society) scale, humanity has been going though a massive shift (to cause to change to a different opinion) for centuries, transitioning from a supernatural (unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature) view of a world dominated by forces of good and evil to a natural understanding of the universe [i.e. science] (www.salon.com)." 

However, this does not negate (make ineffective, nullify) a possibility of consciousness (the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion and thought) after death.  PTSD drove a former U.S. Marine gunner to bust (strike violently) into a Thousand Oaks, Calif. country bar packed with college students, packing (to have a firearm currently on one's person) a Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun.  A few days earlier, he was banging his head (frustrated because someone is stopping you from making progress) against a wall, in his house.  Twelve were killed, including a sheriff, at the Borderline Bar and Grill, as others scrambled for cover (move quickly for safety).  If this project had been public then, just possibly David Long might have stopped and thought: "If I do this, I'm might just be locked up forever (in eternal prison), so maybe I should just find another avenue (a way of approaching a problem) - like move to Russia."  "Eight years ago, my husband stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.  He lost his left leg and much of his left arm, and he barely survived.  Sometimes that [home front] battle (sphere of civilian activity in a war situation) takes place in the hospital, as I help my husband through another surgery - 119 and counting (a figure that is constantly increasing).  Sometimes it's in our home, as I try to juggle three young kids, a plumbing issue and a health care bill, all while trying not to burn dinner.  As many as 5.5 million caregivers struggle to care for disabled veterans like my husband.  These wounded warriors, especially the catastrophically disabled (not having the ability to do certain mental or physical tasks), need round-the-clock assistance (day-and-night, nonstop continuous help) as they have a hard time completing daily tasks, like going to the bathroom or getting out of bed.  In our case, my husband needs assistance in everything from dressing (getting clothes on), to getting cleaned and ready, to planning the day.  Every day, I am constantly thinking for two people (Sarah Verardo, chief executive officer of The Independence Fund)."  It's like being hit with a red hot flat piece of iron (metal so hot as to glow red).  When it's over, a question will be: "Did I do alright for you?"  This is the only thing that matters.  back to top

Military suicide.  "The U.S. military seldom meets an enemy it cannot target, cannot crush, cannot put a fence around or drive a tank across.  But it has not been able to defeat or contain the epidemic (an outbreak or product of sudden rapid spread, growth or development) of suicides among its troops, even as the wars wind down and the evidence mounts that the problem has become dire (causing great fear or worry  - Time, July 23, 2012)."  Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress in July 2012: "This (servicemen suicides) is an epidemic.  Something's wrong."  "No program, outreach or initiative has worked against the surge in Army suicides, and no one knows why nothing works (Time, ibid)."  And, "Many Americans have heard by now that 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  A 46-page suicide analysis released by the Department of Veterans Affairs last month reveals just how swift this current of self-destruction is flowing, particularly for young veterans fresh from war.  It's a pace of killing unknown to most Americans.  A veteran is choosing death every 72 minutes, and the VA could be doing more to keep that person alive (U.S.A. Today, September 16, 2016)."  And Carl Castro, a psychologist who retired from the Army in 2013 as a colonel overseeing behavioral health research programs, said this in 2016: "It's very clear that nothing that the Army has done has resulted in the suicide rates coming down."  When government officials who know what is happening go "on record" stating they don't know what will work, we have a problem.  According to a study by The Journal of the American Medical Association of Psychiatry, suicide rates are increasing among veterans.  The military hired them to produce three research papers and spent $65,000,000.  What is sad is that there are organizations out there that are trying to do something about it and they mostly starve (to deprive of nourishment) for funds to get anything done.  And then you wonder why this is such a quagmire (a situation hard to deal with).  So, what are the shrinks' (psychologists and psychiatrists) solutions?  Some have descended into a spiritual crisis and found no way out but death.  Maybe if they come to a realization of a possibility of paradise when it's all over, they may avoid the Grim Reaper.  This is part of a wider (having a large measure across) problem.  Tejay Adams, is a Marine Corps veteran who served his country for five years, and knows the devastation (great damage) that PTSD can have on the mind.  "There's one hundred twenty-one people in the U.S. that commit suicide every day - twenty-two of those being veterans - so it's a huge impact (a significant or major effect) on all of us."  44,965 Americans die from this every year - according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Getting heart (courage and confidence) back is priority one (regarded or treated as most important).  back to top

A solution.  From "Can Service Save Us?" (Time, July 1, 2013): "There was absolutely no way Ian Smith was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  He was sure of it.  He's never been wounded.  He was alive.  But it was a strange sort of alive.  He lived on his couch, with his pistol.  He didn't sleep much.  The only way he could get to sleep was by getting drunk, so he got drunk every night and slept with his gun under the pillow.  He has gained 60 lbs. since leaving the Army in February 2009.  He drank more and more.  'He absolutely refused to believe he was suffering from PTSD,' said his buddy Mike Pereira, a fellow Army intelligence analyst.  Pereira was working for a veterans' service organization called the Mission Continues, in St. Louis (Mo.).  He kept after Ian to come to St. Louis - come for a weekend, come do a service project.  Ian was skeptical, but he agreed to visit Mike and work on a service project, cleaning up the Englewood Children's Center in St. Louis.  And there, almost without noticing it at first, Ian began to feel better.  He was painting a room with a bunch of veterans, trading war stories.  'All of them had this real tough, kind of like, exterior, but inside they were just like me, just confused and scared and really angry,' Ian, now thirty, recalled.  'And I saw these guys doing these very simple things, nobody can argue with helping to paint a wall for the disabled or homeless.  That's just good.  There's not bad in that.'  Ian went back to Mike's place and really slept that night, for the first time in months.  'I was blown away by how much better I felt,' Ian recalled.  'And I thought, man, if I could capture a little bit of that and hold it close to my heart, I think I could do alright.  Things could get better.'  Things got better.  Ian moved to St. Louis.  He lost 60 lbs.  He stopped drinking so much - he moved the gun from his bed to the night table."  According to Time, by the end of 2013 more than 800 veterans will have passed through the Mission Continues program.  Another service group, Team Rubicon, based in Los Angeles, has about 7000 vets ready to do disaster work, anywhere.  But the thing is, again according to Time, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets who received a diagnosis of PTSD at VA medical facilities from 2002 through the first quarter of 2013 was 261,998.  So the percent of veterans who are helped by these community service organizations is maybe less than 7%.  What about the other 93%?  Dr. David J Shulkin, undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs has said this.  "We know that we save lives when we get veterans into treatment.  This past year, VA has expanded our suicide prevention efforts."  But, if those who do not get help through these programs can come to the realization that the spirit of the God of the universe can aid them with their trauma (a very difficult or unpleasant experience), maybe they can turn and perhaps gain inspiration on how to deal with the immediate crisis (a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention) that is plaguing them at the present moment.

What about those in the middle.  They don't end their lives, they are not morose (sullen or gloomy), they simply snap.  "As a Marine sergeant, (David) Linley saw action and witnessed horrors in Grenada, Lebanon and Iraq a generation ago.  Ten years ago in January, he headed back to Iraq on his final combat deployment.  He had earned an expert rifleman's badge, the corps highest.  The Marines tapped him for prized assignments guarding U.S. diplomatic outposts in Brazil and Pakistan, jobs that required top-secret clearance.  He was discharged from the corps, honorably.  Twice.  This is a story about what untreated post-traumatic stress can do to a man, his family, and his neighborhood.  There are about 200,000 incarcerated veterans.  Linley is one of them, a sad and costly example of a nation too busy to care.  'These cases are much too common,' says psychiatrist Stephen Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general.  'We are throwing these guys away.'  His final firefight was on his suburban street thirty miles southwest of Chicago, and the enemy was the local police.  When it ended, he'd traded seventeen years in uniform for sixteen years behind bars [in prison] (Time, February 10, 2014)."  Linley was drunk that day and ditched (got away from) work.  His employer called police wondering if something was wrong.  When a pair of officers showed up at this house, they saw him with a bayonet-style knife hanging from his belt, through a window.  One officer smelled natural gas in the house and told and told Linley to come outside.  Linley locked the door, barricaded (prevented access to) it with a wooden bench, and grabbed a bolt action .22 from an upstairs closet.  He then proceeded to squeeze (pull back on a trigger with a finger) off rounds from a second story window, not trying to hit anybody in particular.  Eventually about thirty law enforcement officials arrived at the scene.  The initial officer yelling at him may have created a situation.  Linley was not a bad man, just cracked under a strain.  "Some days I feel an overwhelming shame.  When you strive to do your best, work hard and be honest in life, it's not supposed to end up like this."  We have thousands of soldiers who fight so we can live in our suburban homes and watch our cable television.  Then, when they come home with issues, they are ignored.  Perhaps a World War II general might have an answer.

During the Battle of the Bulge, in December 1944, General George S. Patton got on his knees in an ancient Roman Catholic chapel in Luxembourg City.  Removing a helmet, he prayed for the troops: "Sir, this is Patton talking.  The last fourteen days have been straight hell.  Rain, snow, rain, more snow - and I'm beginning to wonder what's going on in your headquarters.  Whose side are you on, anyway?  You seem to have given [German Field Marshal] von Rundstedt every break in the book and frankly, he's been beating the hell out of us.  My army is neither trained nor equipped for winter warfare.  And as you know, this weather is more suitable for Eskimos than for Southern cavalrymen.  But now, sir, I can't help but feel that I have offended you in some way.  That suddenly you have lost all sympathy for our cause.  That you are throwing in with von Rundstedt.  You know without me telling you that our situation is desperate.  Give me four clear days so that my planes can fly, so that my fighter-bombers can bomb and strafe (attack with machine guns from low-flying planes), so that my reconnaissance may pick out targets for my magnificent artillery.  Give me four days of sunshine to dry out this blasted (very annoying) mud, so that my tanks can roll."  He, apparently, connected with the Unseen - within twenty-four hours a "Siberian high" came from the north and cleared the skies.  If veterans like David Linley would connect, maybe they could believe in themselves again.  Perhaps they might relate better to Dunkirk in France during that particular war.  This written by Jeff Yeargain.  "It was May 24, 1940, and 338,226 British soldiers had been driven to the water's edge by the mighty German army in the small town of Dunkirk.  They were waiting for certain death or imprisonment.  On May 23 numerous political leaders, newspaper editors, and King George VI issued a call for a moment of prayer to be held on Sunday, May 26.  No one could have anticipated what was to happen during those three momentous days.  Just twenty-four hours after the call to prayer, Adolf Hitler inexplicable (unexplainable) ordered his armies to halt, to the surprise and dismay of even his own generals.  Former [British] Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain wrote this in his diary: 'May 26, blackest day of all...This was the National Day of Prayer.'  In reality, it turned out to be one of the most dramatic turning points of the war.  At seven o'clock that evening, a critical order was issued to attempt a desperate evacuation (remove from a dangerous place) of Dunkirk.  Every tiny vessel and private craft was sent across the often treacherous waters of the English Channel with orders to rescue as many men as possible before the arrival of the Germans."  Most escaped to fight another day.

President Roosevelt, after D-day in June 1944, said this in a radio address to the nation.  "My fellow Americans, I ask you to join with me in prayer.  Almighty God - our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor (seriously try to do something), a struggle to preserve our Republic, our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.  Their road will be long and hard.  For the enemy is strong.  He may hurl (throw with force) back our forces.  But we shall return again and again, and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph (a great success).  They fight not for the lust of conquest.  They fight to end conquest.  They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people.  They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.  Some will never return.  Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.  With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.  Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances.  Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into world unity that will spell a sure peace - a peace invulnerable (impossible to harm) to the schemings (a clever and often dishonest plan) of unworthy men.  And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.  Thy will be done, Almighty God.  Amen."  Skeptics may say that the Patton and Dunkirk results involving the spirit of the God of the universe were coincidence (a remarkable occurrence of events which have no apparent connection to each other).  Maybe veterans could use some coincidence in their lives.  In this present day, the military has its own solutions.  "The military has produced dozens of programs aimed at preventing mental illness among troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's little evidence that most of them work, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists in a report issued Thursday.  'There's no substantive indication of effectiveness [in military prevention programs], and most importantly, there's no evidence of an enduring impact,' said panelist David Rudd, provost (an official of high rank at a college) at the University of Memphis and an authority on suicide in the military (U.S.A. Today, February 21, 2014)."

Perhaps listening to President Roosevelt's talk of prayer (a solemn request for help to the Unseen) could be more useful.  The family of U.S. aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was feared dead on February 10, 2015, released a letter she wrote sometime in 2014, while being held captive by the Islamic State.  "I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God.  I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our Creator, because literally there was no one else.  By God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in free-fall (an object that is falling under the sole influence of gravity)."  Bobby Henline connected on his own.  "On April 7, 2007, three weeks after Bobby Henline arrived in Iraq for his fourth tour, his Humvee (military vehicle) was blown up.  The four soldiers with him were killed.  Henline was the sole survivor of the blast from the improvised explosive device, but he was only so much luckier - bones in his face fractured, burns covered close to 40% of his body, and his left hand later had to be amputated.  He spent two weeks in a coma.  An atheist before the explosion, Henline has come to believe in some sort of Higher Power.  And he credits a vision he had while in the coma with steering him toward comedy.  'I was on a giant iceberg at night,' he recalled.  'The stars were out.  It was comfortable.  I heard voices telling me it was going to be O.K.  I thought I was in the Judgment Room, and it was God telling me I was going to go back - that I had a mission, but it would be on His terms.'  Bobby started providing comic relief for other burn survivors, greeting new patients at the Brooke Army Medical Center near San Antonio (Time, November 18, 2013)."  On January 7, 2016 at the Fort Lauderdale, Fl. airport, Iraq war veteran Esteban Santiago, 26, shot five people dead and wounded six.  "If you label a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder a 'terrorist', will you label all veterans with PTSD as 'potential terrorists'?  The problem lies with the government failing to adequately care for the mental health needs of its veterans.  If you have the motivation (something that arouses action or activity) and money to wage (to engage in or carry on) wars on foreign nations, you should damn well be able to find the money to treat those servicemembers when they return (Angela Taylor)."  Jean-Claude Van Damme made a movie, Desert Heat, in 1999.  He plays a suicidal veteran, who finds a purpose (achieving balance means living up to one's potential in all facets [particular aspects] of life).  He said later, in an interview: "If you don't create in life, what's the reason to live?"  back to top

Civilian suicide.  Suicide is pretty much a universal problem, worldwide, not just a military problem.  "We often assume that people who commit suicide are mentally ill, but this isn't always the case (a particular set of circumstances).  There are many factors (elements, part and components) that can contribute (help to cause or bring about) to suicide that nothing to do with mental illness, including loss of a relationship, loneliness, chronic illness, financial loss, history of trauma or abuse and the stigma associated (a social attribute that is discrediting [harming the reputation] between individuals and their family members) with asking for help.  'A person contemplating suicide (to think about or consider ending one's life) is in overwhelming (enormous or immense) emotional pain and they think very differently than people who are rational (having reason or understanding),' Draper (John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) told me.  'Your pre-frontal cortex (outer layer of the cerebrum [the front part of the brain]) goes off-line (not connected to or served by a system) and you have a flight, fight or freeze impulse (signs that one is no longer feeling safe, and might need to stop what they are doing).  In that case suicide seems like the best way out or the best way to fight for your survival (trying to remain successful).'  We exist largely disconnected (separated) from our extended families (father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), friends and communities - except in the shallow interactions (short-circuit the connection of the hard work of having people pay attention to you) of social media - because we are too busy trying to make it (succeed in doing something) without realizing that once we reach that goal, it won't be enough (Kirsten Powers, CNN analyst)."  It is to wondered (to think about things in a questioning way) if building a monolithic (it's big and made of one thing) cross could be of help.  If people might understand that there is a possibility of "paradise" when you are dead, maybe they won't be in such a rush (move with urgent haste [excessive speed]) to get there. 

"Suicide is a kind of fatal (leading to disaster) exhaustion.  It knocks on your door not as a monster but as a healer making a house call (a visit to a home by a medical professional).  We have to invite it in.  Spade (world-famous fashion designer Kate Spade) held that red scarf (piece of cloth that covers the neck) in her hands, Bourdain (Anthony Bourdain, CNN's award-winning Parts Unknown host) held that bathrobe belt in his, and both thought, 'This will do nicely.'  The coroner's (an official who investigates violent or sudden deaths) report will not bother to note (notice or pay attention) if their cheeks were tear-stained (showing signs of having wept), but I think not.  What we need to do is make that knock at the door less appealing (be interesting or attractive).  Give it less space to be heard (a chance to present one's views).  That's the obvious takeaway (a key fact, point or idea to be remembered) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about an across-the-board (having an effect on everyone) surge (sudden and great increase) in suicides from 1999 to 2016.  In 2015, there were 18,000 homicides (murders) and 44,000 suicides in America (The Washington Post, June 15, 2018)."  It's a tough (severe and determined) situation.  "Suicide is the act of intentionally (deliberately or on purpose) causing one's own death.  Many people kill themselves in impulsive (done without forethought - suddenly without any planning to consideration of the results) acts because of financial difficulties, irrecoverable (impossible to get back) loss of good name (a person's high standing among others), troubles with relationships - loss of a great love, or, among adolescents (teenagers) in recent years, bullying (abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable, by someone stronger).  Those who have previously attempted suicide are quite likely to try again.  Common methods of suicide include hanging, pesticide poisoning (a toxic [directly harmful to life in any form] condition caused by the ingestion or inhalation of a substance used for the eradication [complete destruction] of pests) and firearms (Wikipedia)."

Here is what people say on suicide.  CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Director Robert Redfield: "Tragically, this troubling trend (an unfavorable, disgusting or annoying direction in which something is developing or changing) is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide.  These sobering statistics (tending to make one thoughtful) are a wake-up call (an event so dramatic that it effectively serves as an alert, reminder or call to action) that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable (can be kept from occurring)."  Bob Turner with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: "We need to ensure (make certain) that suicide prevention is tackled (make a determined effort to deal with) on the same scale (the same level) and with the same vigor (active strength or force) that we address (deal with) other public health issues in the country.  [Otherwise] the number of people dying by suicide or struggling with suicidal thoughts will continue to rise."  On drug overdose (a lethal or toxic amount) deaths, CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat: "No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic (rampant, widespread or wide-ranging) - we all know a friend, family member or loved one (a person you love) devastated by opioids."  William Dietz, a disease prevention expert at George Washington University: "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless (despairing, desperate, forlorn or defeatist), and that leads to drug use - it leads potentially (with the capacity to develop or happen in the future) to suicide."  A message of hope may be useful.  Then people can say: "I've never sprouted (suddenlyor quickly grow) any [angel] wings, but I've learned to live with myself (George Raft, actor)."  back to top

A horse.  A cross might be compared to Seabiscuit, a racehorse in the 1930s who began his career (occupation or profession) losing races on a regular basis.  A new owner retrained (to teach new skills) the horse.  He would come neck-and-neck (an equal chance of winning) with another horse in a race, look it in the eye (an honest way that shows no doubts), and be gone.  He raced the "invincible" (impossible to defeat) War Admiral from the east coast - Seabiscuit being from the west - and won hands down (very easily).  In 1938, Seabiscuit was number one in the news, second was President Roosevelt, and third Hitler.  He gave people hope they could come back on top (get back control of their own lives).  A monument may inspire (motivate, encourage or influence) as a horse did.  It can be argued that the concept (a fundamental building block of thoughts and beliefs) contained within the project won't work in real life, but no one will ever know if it isn't built.  If it doesn't live up to expectations (a belief that certain things will happen) within twenty-five years, it can always be torn down (the act or process of disassembling [disconnect the pieces of]).  A 20th century tradition (ideological justification and cultural expression) of the "little church on the corner" is, sadly, almost gone.  An internet cross is no more absurd (ridiculously unreasonable) than an internet Egyptian revolution.  The initial protest was on a Facebook page devoted to Kaled Said, a 28-year-old male who died in 2011 at the hands of the police in Alexandria.  The government said he suffocated (to die because you are unable to breathe), but photos of the corpse, showing teeth broken and the body bruised, circulated online.  back to top

Feeding the children.  It has been said, "The money would be better spent feeding hungry children, than on a cross.  This is hypocrisy (pretending to be what you are not).  If people wish to go on a moral crusade (a social movement that campaigns around a symbolic or moral issue) against a cross, then they would need to, as well (also), go on moral crusades against these military, business and political cases (a set of circumstances or conditions).  From Defense News: "The U.S. government will spend an estimated $348 billion over the next decade to maintain, upgrade and operate its nuclear arsenal, according to a new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office."  You could build over eight hundred 313 meter (1027 foot) mirror-finish, stainless-steel crosses, for that amount of money, all over the United States.  Paris Las Vegas is a $785,000,000 investment which built a half-size replica (an exact copy) of the Eiffel Tower and a hotel-casino in Vegas.  This is to promote gambling and other activities.  A two-story penthouse in Manhattan, N.Y. sold for $100,000,000 in February 2015.  Insurance giant AIG gave $165,000,000 in bonuses to certain executives who drove the company into financial ruin, before the government bailed it out, to reward them for bad judgment.  The Human Terrain System, whose purpose was to put civilian anthropologists (those who study the science of human beings) in combat situations to aid the troops, from 2007 to 2014, cost $726,000,000.  Roberto Gonzalez, professor of anthropology at San Jose State University, commented: "HTS, termination was long overdue.  Given the many reports of waste, fraud and mismanagement, why did it survive for more than eight years?" 

A title of a New York Times article, by Nicholas Confessore and Sarah Cohen, February 22, 2016 - "HOW JEB BUSH SPENT $130 MILLION RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT WITH NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT."  The Task Force Business Stability Operations spent almost $150,000,000 renting private "villas" and security for a "handful" of staff and visitors in Afghanistan, according to U.S. Inspector General John Sopko.  He estimated that housing a staff of ten at the U.S. Embassy in 2014 would have cost a more realistic $1,800,000.  October 2015, the Pentagon dismantled a plan to train and field a force of moderate Syrians to combat the Islamic State, after having spent $384,000,000.  Although the goal was to train and equip 3000 Syrians, only 180 Syrians were trained and equipped with the funds.  "Oxton Hill, Maryland.  Far from the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts International opens its $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor casino and resort just outside the nation's capital this week (December 5, 2016), advertising a gambling floor 'bigger than the White House' and an art collection that includes a large welded collage (an artistic composition made of many materials) by Bob Dylan.  But don't expect Vegas glitz (extravagant showiness), neon flamingos (a tall wading bird with mainly pink or scarlet plumage and long legs and neck) or ancient Roman replicas here.  Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, describes the design as 'intentional monumental (massive, highly significant, outstanding)', meaning that the area's first casino-resort was designed to complement Washington's iconic (very famous or popular) landmarks (www.northjersey.com)."  A casino-resort offers some paradise now.  A 313 meter cross offers some paradise when you die.  Donald Trump said this on September 9, 2016 at the Family Research Council's 11th Annual Values Voter Summit, shortly before he was elected. 

"But you look at what's happened to Iran in such a short period of time.  But remember the ransom payments (unsavory, ineffectual or legally questionable).  Remember, it was $400 million two weeks ago.  But then they made a mistake.  This is cash.  Remember, they said they paid cash because they couldn't open a bank account."  This refers to $400,000,000 cash that was flown in (when a person or thing flies through the air) to Iran by the Obama administration.  President Trump has been adamant (unwilling to change an opinion or decision), in the summer of 2017, as he needs Congress to approve $1.6 billion, an initial budget request (preliminary project cost estimate), to begin construction of The Wall on the American-Mexican border.  The Mexican people on September 19, 2017, suffered one of the worst earthquakes in their history.  These people have already had enough pain (physical, mental or emotional suffering).  Is The Wall a necessity, or is it harassment (chronically annoying or tormenting).  This budget request would be enough money to build almost four 313 meter crosses.  If President Trump is trying to make people behave (to act in a certain manner to control yourself and not cause trouble), a cross may be a better defense (the act of protecting something) than a wall.  The One is a 9754 square meter (105,000 square foot) mansion overlooking the ocean in west Los Angeles, Calif.  The asking price - $500,000,000.  In Afghanistan, there was the Pentagon's Commanders Emergency Response Program.  The funds, money that officers in the field could put out for projects, was up to $550,000,000 in 2009, per project.  A report released on May 24, 2018, by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, stated that much of the money, spent on the programs, was largely wasted - some siphoned (drawn off or transferred over a period of time) by corrupt officials, some paying for projects that did apparently (as far as one know or can see) more harm than good.  The money, in each of these military, business and political cases, might have been better spent feeding the hungry children.  A cross is no worse than these.  back to top

Martian water.  "NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an ongoing (continuing to happen) robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet.  It began in 2003.  The mission's scientific objective was to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soil that hold clues to past water activity on Mars.  The total cost of building, launching, landing and operating the rovers on the surface for the initial 90-Martian-day primary mission was $820,000,000.  Since the rovers have continued to function beyond their initial mission, they have each received five mission extensions.  The fifth mission extension was granted in October 2007, and ran to the end of 2009.  The total cost of the first four mission extensions was $104,000,000, and the fifth mission extension is expected to cost at least $20,000,000 (Wikipedia)."  Jet Propulsion Laboratory lost contact with Spirit after March 22, 2010.  According to Fox News, it costs about $14,000,000 per year to maintain Opportunity.  So, this comes to a total of $1 billion.  The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, was launched on November 26, 2011.  The rover is almost the size of a small sport utility vehicle - 2.8 meters (9 feet) and four times as heavy as Spirit.  According to the NASA webpage the total cost is $2.5 billion, including $1.8 billion for spacecraft development and science investigations and additional amounts for launch and operations to the present.  So, the grand total, to find out if there is any water on Mars, comes to $3.5 billion.  But, for someone who has been through a tornado, flood, hurricane, shot in a school, blown up by a bomb, or shot in a theater - do they really care.  What might be more important to them is getting back some semblance (the state of being somewhat like something) of normalcy (the state of being normal), not worrying about the Martians in War of the Worlds.  Doing a message of hope, for less than 15% of what it costs to chase water on another planet, may have more intrinsic (belonging to the essential nature of a thing) value.  back to top

Images. There are those in the church who think a spiritual landmark is an "image" (statue).  This comes out of Exodus.  "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven (carved) image."  But also in Exodus, Moses is instructed to make an "ark of the covenant" to include two gold Cherubim (angels): "And thou shalt make two Cherubim of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat."  So, here is a situation in the Bible where images are condemned, and yet Moses is told to make two two life-size gold images.  Apparently, there are exceptions to the rule.  If the monument is an image, then are the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial (to a Native American chief) images as well?  At Groom, Texas, there stands what some might call an image, a 58 meter (190 foot) Cross.  This Cross, constructed by Cross Ministries and finished in 1995, has had hundreds of thousands of visitors since then.  They have Stations of the Cross featuring various statues of Jesus on His way to the crucifixion and then being crucified by the religious leaders of His day, a replica of the Shroud of Turin (a burial cloth believed to be that of Jesus of Nazareth), a replica of the Tomb, a gift shop and etc.  It has been very successful as far as a positive impact on people's lives, as various testimonials on their web page state.  As they declare: "The marvelous story of what God is doing through this nineteen story Cross."  There are other crosses in the world.  The Great Cross, built near St. Augustine, Fl. and completed in 1966, stands 63 meters (208 feet) tall.  This is to remember an event four hundred years earlier, in 1565, when Pedro Menedez de Aviles placed a small wood cross on Florida's soil and founded the mission of Nombre de Dios.  The Millennium Cross is a 66 meter (217 foot) high cross situated in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.  The cross was constructed to commemorate 2000 years of Christianity, finished in 2008.  The cross was built on the high point of the Vodno mountain at a place known since the time of the Ottoman Empire as Krstovar, meaning "place of the cross".  There is another truly spectacular cross near Madrid, Spain.  The Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) contains one of the world's largest basilicas (a Roman Catholic church given ceremonial privileges), which was hewn out of a granite ridge by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco - to honor the fallen during the Spanish Civil War.  Rising above the basilica is, at this present day, the tallest memorial cross in the world - a 152.4 meter (500 foot) high stone cross that took eighteen years to finish, completed in the 1950s.  How tall does a cross have to be before it becomes an image?  back to top

Idols.  Others will mock a 313 meter Cross as an idol - an object of worship.  In an edict in 730 A.D. Byzantine Emperor Leo III forbade the veneration of all religious images, which did not apply to symbols such as the cross.  He ordered the removal of an icon (a pictorial representation) at the entrance to the Great Palace of Constantinople and replaced it with a cross.  He encouraged non-representational art.  "There arose a great controversy over icons in the 7th and 8th centuries.  People who defended the use of icons were known as 'iconophiles'.  Those against the icons were known as 'iconoclasts (those who destroy icons)'.  The worship of images was based on the belief that material objects can possess divine power, which might provide certain blessings to those who touch them.  The iconophiles supported the use of religious art as a means to convey Bible stories.  They believed that some might not understand a sermon, but everyone could understand a painting representing a story from the life of Jesus - and learn from it.  Iconophiles countered that King Solomon had make many objects to adorn the Temple.  They argued that iconoclasts were mistaken to apply Biblical passages against pagan idols to Christian images, because the intent is completely opposite (Orthodox Icons, James Watkins)."  To worship a cross is to worship suffering, and who wants to worship thatback to top

Cults.  It has also been suggested that this be done as a virtual Cross, meaning only an image on a web page, instead of building a physical Cross.  Yet there are those who want something tangible (substantially real, material).  And last, is the cause a cult of an icon?  The word cult applies to groups seen as authoritarian, exploitative and possible dangerous.  As can be seen with the other crosses aforementioned, it does not happen with a cross, which dignifies self-sacrifice.  Cults are seen as inimical (likely to cause damage) to the public order due to their totalitarianism, violations of fundamental liberties, inordinate (going beyond that which is usual) emphasis on finances, and/or disregard for appropriate medical care.  If a big iron Cross is a cult, then are the aforementioned crosses cults?  An icon is usually a flat panel painting, generally of wood, depicting a holy being or object such as Jesus, Mary, saints, angels, etc.  It is a two, not three, dimensional rendering, and is common in Eastern Orthodox churches.  Certain people may attempt to twist (alter the meaning of) a message of hope into a cult of an icon.  Yet these same people will accuse family members, parishioners, neighbors, employees or tenants of things they have never done.  back to top

A physical cross.  Was Jesus Christ crucified on a physical cross?  Wikipedia ran an article about Jesus' execution method: "Certain writers accept for the gibbet (gallows) on which Jesus died only the meaning, 'a wooden post'.  Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ was executed on a stake and do not use the cross in their worship.  While the view that Jesus died on a stake has thus been advanced by writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, second century writers, such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, speak of Him only as dying on a two-beam cross.  In the same century, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas and Clement of Alexandria saw a two-beam shape of the cross of Jesus as foreshadowed in the Greek numerals corresponding to the present-day Arabic numerals 328, the same shape prefigured in Moses keeping his arms stretched out in prayer in the battle against Amalek.  At the end of the same century, Tertullian speaks of Christians as accustomed to mark themselves repeatedly with the sign of the cross. and the phrase 'the Lord's sign' was used with reference to a cross composed of an upright and a crossbeam.  Crosses of '+' or 'T' shape were in use, even in Palestine at the time of Jesus...The Epistle of Barnabas, written earlier than 135 [A.D.], witnesses to the shape people of that time attributed to what Jesus died on.  Referring to what Barnabas saw as Old Testament intimations (to suggest something in an indirect way) of Jesus and His cross, he likened the cross to the letter 'T', thus describing it as having a crossbeam.  Justin Martyr (100-165) explicitly says the cross of Christ was of two-beam shape: 'That lamb which as commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo.  For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross.  For one spit is transfixed (to hold motionless) right through from the lower part up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.'...Irenaeus, who died around the end of the second century, speaks of the cross as having 'five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which a person rests who is fixed by the nails'...Tertullian (Christian writer, 160-225), who distinguished between stipes  (stake) and crux (cross), noted it was the cross that people associated with Christianity.  And he indicated that the shape of the cross is that of the letter 'T': 'The Greek letter Tau and our own letter T is the very form of the cross,' and compared it to the shape of a bird with outstretched wings."  Pretty fair chance Jesus Christ was crucified on a "T" (St. Antony's) cross, which later the church symbolized by a "+" (Latin) cross.  back to top

 Extreme church games.  Malicious (showing ill will) conduct (the way a person behaves in a particular place, or situation) or strangeness (the quality or state of being different from is usual, normal or expected) within the fringes (concerning people with extreme views) of organized religion, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, leaves people in doubt (to be uncertain).  A pastor desires a needy, male parishioner as his lady, forcing a relationship with little gifts of food, in a rural (small town) church.  The target is told by a leader of a church: "You'd better not speak a word against [that pastor]."  In another incident (an unexpected and usually unpleasant thing), a pastor accuses a struggling (to proceed with great effort) farmer of coming to his small town church in dirty jeans.  This referred to small amount of mud on the cuffs (hem of trouser legs) of near-new, washed jeans, because the farmer had to walk three miles to the church after a rainy day, as his vehicle was broke down.  In a third incident, a pastor uses satanic power against an individual, who was blamed for something he may not have done.  Events were caused that defied (to prohibit understanding) conventional explanation.  "For centuries Man has feared one thing over all others - Satan.  As evil incarnate (to give bodily form and substance to), Satan possesses both the will (a strong desire or determination to do something) and the means (resources) to inflict the most hideous (very ugly or disgusting) torments (severe physical or mental suffering) imaginable (True Stories of Real Evil)."  When organized religion uses the power, it knows full well what can happen when it is finished.  The response, to the target, simply was...Jesus forgave.  The "forgive" doctrine is a weapon (a means of contending against another) in the hands of the church, to silence things it does not want out, i.e. scandals (discredit brought upon religion by unseemly - not according with established standards - conduct of a religious person; conduct that encourages a lapse of faith).  If a target of misconduct (wrong behavior) wants to go "public", the person may be told "you have a twisted faith".  "Forgive" means sit down and shut up.  The problem organized religion has in the 21st century is one of being half-black and half-white (the color, not the race).  Once upon a time on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota there was a dog that was half-black and half-white.  The dog would chase the ranch pickup as it drove out onto the prairie (a large, mostly flat area of land in North America that has few trees and is covered in grasses).  It would run behind the pickup for a while, then stop and run in circles chasing its tail.  Then, it would continue running after the pickup - and do this pattern of chasing its tail then running after the pickup, endlessly.  So it is with the church.  It will do what is right for a while, helping people, then stop and play all kinds of games, destroying people's lives.  This has created a whole new class (ordering in society based on a perceived social status) of people - those who are outside the church, homeless spirituallyback to top

Avoiding church.  The spiritual homeless of America are not homeless physically - they choose not have a church home.  These people can make $500,000 per year, live in suburbia (a smaller community close to a city), drive a Corvette, but they are not involved with a church because they have been burned by and/or are disgusted with the church; or, they are simply too independently minded to come to church.  And, on the east and west coasts of the United States the influence of the church is not very powerful.  It's not that people living in these areas are all disgusted, burned or independently minded, they're plain not interested in coming to church.  On Sunday, other activities crowd out a church affiliation (closely connect to something) - sailing, skiing, a day at the beach and etc.  These people are spiritually minded, but do not have the time to come to church.  This group probably constitutes the bulk of the spiritual homeless.  College students.  According to Stephen Prothero, Religion Department chairman at Boston University, Mass.: "Study after study has shown that American college students are fleeing from organized religion to mix-and-match spiritually...My students' projects suggest that traditional religions are in trouble."  He labels the iPad/text messaging college crowd as part of the spiritual but not religious generation.  Christian leaders.  According to D. Michael Lindsay, a sociology faculty member at Rice University in Houston, Texas: "Many of the nation's most powerful believers - presidents, CEOs, entertainers and athletes - won't be found in the pews on Sunday...I spent the past five years interviewing some of the country's top leaders - two U.S. presidents, one hundred CEOs and senior business executives, Hollywood icons, celebrated artists and world-class athletes.  All were chosen because of their widely known faith.  Yet I was shocked to find that more than half - 60% - had low levels of commitment to their denominations and congregations."  He refers to the elite (the more successful or powerful people).  back to top 

An idea.  The book, Horse Creek, on this web page contains a concept.  The Introduction states: "This book is dedicated to answering the age old question - did God create Man, or did Man create God?  What is to be remembered, if there is a paradise, if there is an eternal prison, the individual who refuses to acknowledge that these things exist is simply out of luck...God has said, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock - if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and will eat with him, and he with me.'  He did this with the American Indian in 1300 A.D., with the caveman in pre-historic Europe, with the Russian in Siberia, with the Hindu in India, with the European during the height of European civilization, as examples.  Revelation 7:9 says, 'after this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude [of human beings], which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds (a person's relatives), and people, and tongues (languages), stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.'  This is in heaven.  It says, '...a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations...'  All nations means all nations that have ever existed in history."  Everyone gets their chance - back to the first caveman that ever walked upon the face of the earth.  The chapter The Messiah states: "People have argued that God doesn't exist.  Since there is no empirical (based on testing or experience) proof that God does exist, this is a very easy argument to win.  But there are signs, here and there..."  The chapter Your Soul states: "Coming to God is a form of blackmail.  Basically God, says, 'If you let me into your heart, I will let you into paradise.  If you don't let me into heart, I will lock you up forever.'"  There are things that happen in churches in the United States that bother people.  You have the Methodist lesbian minister, the Episcopal homosexual bishop, the Pentecostal satanist preacher and mega-churches sending mega-death.  Organized religion's attitude toward the lapses (an abandonment of religious faith): "We shouldn't get upset over trivial matters."  "No further action from our office is anticipated regarding these matters."  "I know this isn't what you want to hear, but, you just need to forgive."  However, the scripture states: "And to the church write - 'I know you programs (a plan or system), that you are neither cold nor hot.  So, then because you are lukewarm (lacking conviction), I (Jesus) will vomit (to eject violently or abundantly) you (the church) out of my mouth.'"  Next, an individual is told to GIVE TO GOD.  This causes confusion.  The money is being spent on the multi-million dollar church building.  Is this God?  And, the pastor's suburban home.  Is this God?  And, the church secretary's salary.  Is this God?  Last, they tell you that if you don't come to the church, you're not saved.  But while they're in the process of playing games with you, they're doing other things...what really gets bad is when the church starts loosing Satan on you and you have all kinds of bad things happening to you on satanic feast days.  Church historian Diana Butler Bass comments on recent policies (courses of action): "We cannot underestimate the power of the collapse (a complete depletion of energy or strength) of institutional (uniform, dull or unimaginative) religion in the first ten years of this [21st] century."  back to top

The Mote and the Beam.  The root (a basic cause, source or origin) is this.  "The Mote and the Beam is a parable (a succinct [expressed in few words], didactic [learning in a fascinating and intriguing manner] story, in prose [natural flow of speech and grammatical structure] or verse [a single metrical line in a poetic composition] that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles) of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 1 to 5.  The discourse is fairly brief, and begins by warning his followers of the dangers of judging others (forming an opinion or conclusion about someone), stating that they too would be judged by the same standard (level of quality or achievement).  The Sermon on the Plain has a similar passage in Luke 6:37-42.  The moral lesson (teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character or behavior) is to avoid hypocrisy (contrivance [scheme, stratagem or tactic] of false appearance [to disguise or conceal] of virtue [moral excellence] or goodness), self-righteousness (a feeling or display of usually smug [an annoying quality of excessive pride] moral superiority) and censoriousness (a troublesome or angry person who breaks the public peace by habitually chastising [criticize someone severely], arguing or quarreling [an aggressive attitude] with their neighbors).  The analogy (compare for the purpose of explanation) used is of a small object in another's eye as compared with a large beam (a long board) of wood in one's own.  The original Greek word translated as 'mote' meant 'any small dry body'.  The terms mote and beam are from the King James Version; other translations use different words, e.g. the New International Version uses 'speck [of sawdust]' and 'plank' (a long, narrow flat piece of wood).  In 21st century English, a 'mote' is more normally a particle of dust (a fine, dry powder [loose substance consisting of extremely small pieces]) - particularly one that is floating in the air - rather than a tiny splinter (a small, sharp, broken piece) of wood.  The analogy is suggestive (stirring mental associations) of a carpenter's workshop, with which Jesus would have been familiar.  In the analogy, the one seeking to remove the impediment (hindrance, obstruction or obstacle) in the eye of another person has the larger impediment in his own eye, suggesting metaphorically (a figure of speech [using words in such a way that deviates from their conventionally accepted definitions] that refers to one thing while mentioning another) that the one who attempts to regulate (control or supervise) another person often displays the greater blindness (lack or perception, awareness or judgment) and hypocrisy (Wikipedia)."  back to top

shimmering blue cross

A collapse.  A small piece of a collapse is told in the docudrama (which features dramatized re-enactments of actual events) screenplay Beltane, a link on this web page, concerning the pronouncing of a ritual satanic curse ("The dark forces of the night.  In my dreams I hear them calling." - Dark Forces, Mystic Prophecy) by organized religion.  "Just like witches at black masses...Evil minds that plot destruction...Sorcerer of death's construction...Poisoning their brainwashed minds...Now in darkness the world stops turning...Hand of God has struck the hour...Day of Judgment, God is calling (War Pigs, Black Sabbath)."  The question is open () as to whether the so-called Body of Christ put dollars (give to God) ahead of decency (doing the right thing), about whether they were more interested in protecting a pastor with a cult of personality than they were in protecting a person in the church.  (Lord's anointed) This is a film noir (a drama emphasizing cynical attitudes), about a small farmer who was set up for a fall (designed in such a way so a person in a situation cannot succeed in a task), by a sociopath (lacking empathy, remorse, shame or guilt).  First words, of the play, on screen: "What you are about to see is one of the more unusual stories told.  If you have no prior belief in the supernatural, this may be dull - to initiate a satanic attack (coming face-to-face with demonic forces beyond our comprehension) to cause an individual to self-destruct.  This concerns a pastor, who had a history (a series of past events) of manipulation (controlling someone to your advantage) and duplicity (dishonest talk or behavior).  It occurred in a rural area of the [American] Northern Plains during the Farm Crisis (1980-1985).  This will be told, not so much through 'action', but through 'documentation (documents, records, etc. used to prove something)'.  That is, the documentation of a fantasy (something produced by the imagination) through narration, a court deposition (the taking of sworn, out-of-court oral testimony [a form of evidence, a verbal explanation of facts] of a witness), legal arguments, letters and taped phone conversations concerning maleficia within the Pentecostal Movement.  Not one thing has been altered (changed) - original, exact documentation has been used.  The Movement does not label it 'maleficia', but, as stated in a United States federal court, the 'operation (an exertion of power or influence) of spiritual forces invoked (called forth)' and, the 'actions of Satan as applied (to cause to have an effect)'.  They label it a 'Job (the Book of Job in the Bible) trial (a test of faith through suffering)'.  The Movement has taken full credit (responsibility) for it, but has little remorse (a feeling of being sorry).  You, the audience, are the jury (a body of persons sworn to give a verdict).  Is the minister innocent, or guilty, of the invocation (the act of asking for help) of a destructive demonic force."  A screenplay could be studied to see if a church practiced witchcraft.  A definition in the Encyclopedia Britannic - "the exercise or invocation of supernatural powers to control people or events". 

No need to read Harry Potter books, just visit your local Pentecostal church.  "A Catholic school in Tennessee removed the Harry Potter books from its library after the school's priest decided they could cause a reader to conjure (to affect or influence by invocation) evil spirits (incorporeal [having no material existence] supernatural beings).  In an email obtained by The Tennessean, the Rev. Dan Reehil of Nashville's St. Edward Catholic School said he consulted exorcists (those who force an evil spirit to leave a person) in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books.  Reehil wrote, 'The curses (an utterance [spoken word] intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm) and spells (to cause something bad to happen in the future) used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.' (U.S.A. Today, September 3, 2019)"  Ethics (decent human conduct) may be out the window (disappeared completely).  "Almost every major single intractable (hard to control or deal with) problem, at the back of it (behind the scenes), you see a big money interest (in this case, organized religion) for whom stopping progress (a movement toward a resolution of an issue), stopping justice is really important to their bottom line (the underlying or ultimate outcome or criterion)."  This from billionaire Tom Steyer.  A drawback or disadvantage to an illegal dumping of demons may be: "for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (from Jude)".   Just because this occurred in 1983, means nothing.  Virginia governor Ralph Northam's position (an employment for which one has been hired) was in jeopardy (danger of loss, harm or failure) in 2019, simply because he stood in blackface (makeup used by a nonblack performer playing a black role), next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe, in a 1984 medical school yearbook (annual publication giving current information).  Statute of limitations (legislation that sets a timeframe within which affected parties must take action) doesn't apply to moral crimes (an act or behavior that gravely [to a degree that gives cause for alarm] violates the sentiment [a view or attitude toward a situation or event] or accepted standards of the community).  "The problem is the clerical culture (that which enables abuse and insists on hiding it) that looks to protect the institution (an organization founded for a religious purpose) even at the expense of (so as to cause harm to or neglect of) individuals who have been harmed (anguish, trauma or torment)."  This is from a theology professor at Marquette University, Wisconsin - James Bretzke.  The church claimed First Amendment protection in the U.S. federal court lawsuit, aforementioned. 

Chris Truax, an appellate lawyer in San Diego, Cal., said: "Which brings up an even more fundamental question (within a specific field of interest, it is a question that defines that field).  Just because something is legal - or you can get away with it - does not mean that it is good.  We too often forget that freedom comes with responsibility.  A few years ago, there was a guy in San Francisco who dressed up as Elmo from Sesame Street (Elmo is a Muppet character [a name for puppets] on the children's show Sesame Street) and then shouted obscenities (extremely offensive words or expressions) at children.  Illegal?  No.  Evil Elmo was protected by the First Amendment."  In the church, the so-called (commonly named) Body of Christ, the leadership, those in positions of authority, said things as these to the target.  "You should have got before you got hurt."  "You better forgive, because you have to live with it."  "Have you read the Book of Job?"  "We shouldn't get upset over trivial matters (things in life that have almost no value)."  "These things happen."  "Forgive or your sins won't be forgiven."  "Your credibility (the quality of being trusted) is zero."  These are the devil's rejects.  Kirsten Powers is a CNN news analyst.  She attended a small Jesuit high school in the early 1980s.  At a party, when she passed out (become unconscious, black out) due to alcohol, she awoke with "a popular senior basketball player on top" of her.  "I don't know what month it was.  I don't know whose house it was.  I remember one of my two best friends being there but she doesn't remember it, and why would she?  It was just a random party (occurring without definite aim, reason or pattern) as far as she knew back then.  I can hear the doubters (a person who questions): 'Why didn't you tell (give information about someone's bad behavior)?  Why didn't you report (turn someone in) him?'  The answer is simple - I didn't think I had been sexually assaulted.  In the early 1980s, we didn't have the vocabulary (the number of words that a person knows) to make such declarations (a formal or explicit statement of announcement).  I thought I did something stupid and paid a price (experience something unpleasant because you have done something wrong).  I thought it was my fault (an error caused by ignorance, bad judgment or inattention).  The first time I spoke of the incident chronicled here (record in a factual and detailed way) was last week.  Yet I have zero doubt (emphasizing that something seems certain) of what happened and who did it to me."  Or ministers' games in churches, during that time frame (a particular period of time).  Perhaps some in organized religion mock (deride [laugh at], scorn or ridicule) The Vagabond.  This refers to an individual moving from place to place without a fixed home (secured and permanent) - a free spirit (a person free from worldly concerns [for the more sublime - of such excellence, grandeur or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe - pursuits], who can act of his own choosing [a process of selecting - each to his own]) who rarely ever cares about anyone's opinion about them (a view or judgment formed concerning a person).  Jesus could possibly be said to have been a vagabond in his early-thirties of age. 

When it comes to DDF (a "destructive demonic force"), nothing stood in the way of a "divine calling" (cultivating your inner creative) - others may have to be expendable (capable of being sacrificed).  Institutional religion may use psychic terror (mystical, religious or magical ends to paralyze, diminish resistance with the ultimate purpose of destroying a target) to rid (throw away an unwanted) the world of people labeled (classified as) cockroaches (persons they falsely accuse [to ruin the life of an innocent person] of having no redeeming qualities [good points or likeable traits], whatsoever).  Lives destroyed, homes wrecked can be a justification (the act of finding plausible [probable or possible] answers) for a metaphysical cross.  Metaphysics means "that which comes after the physical", and is a study of the spiritual root (an essential element) of physical life.  Maleficia can be defined.  "The term maleficia collectively (as a whole) refers to all types of malignant acts (evil in nature or effect), which could result in substantial damage (economic, or other, loss) to mankind (Paranormal Encyclopedia)."  "Maleficia was used to explain personal misfortune.  In its narrowest (limited in extent) definition maleficia meant damage to crops and illness or death to animals.  In its broadest (wide scope of subjects) sense it could include anything which resulted in causing a negative impact (have a strong effect or influence) upon a person (The Mystica)."  "Maleficia was a Latin term - in Roman law it originally meant evil acts in general (worldhistory.biz)."  "A word carried over from the Latin for 'evil doings' and applied to misfortunes and calamities of all kinds which no immediate causal explanation (an action that can be a cause, while an enduring object is its effect) might be given.  Maleficia became inextricably woven (impossible to unravel or separate) into the idea of the work of the Devil.  Maleficia was generally used to explain personal misfortune (Occultopedia)."  Back in 1998, the French made a film named Maleficia.  This is from a review in IMDb.  "'Maleficia is easily one of the goriest horror movies I have ever seen."  According to Past Minds: Studies in Cognitive Historiography (edited by Luther H. Martin and Jesper Sorensen): "In this context, we could say that 'magic' denotes (serves as an indication of) the manipulation (to control something in a skillful manner) of visible reality (our known physical world) with the help of superhuman agents (entities [things with distinct and independent existence] having more powers than, or seemingly outside the powers of, a human being).  This can occur either within or outside of an institutional (a large organization), religious setting." 

Institutional religion may have "taken full credit", but believes it cannot be held accountable (obligation to report, explain or justify).  People really don't care about what a pastor may, or may not, have done - he's God's man.  It is the case of a charismatic (exercising a compelling charm) minister, with a legion (great in number) of supporters (adherents, backers or promoters) - who convinced religious officials that earlier complaints were frivolous (not having a serious purpose).  "Instead, the road that led there was littered (made untidy [chaotic, muddled or in disorder]) with inappropriate (not suitable or proper in the circumstances) abuse of authority (the power to give orders or make decisions), station (social standing) and privilege (an advantage that only one person or group of people has)."  This from Monica Lewinsky in Vanity Fair, February 25, 2018.  "Plausible deniability (when it is acceptable for a party to lie about what they did) is the ability of people to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable (outrageous or deplorable) actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy (a top to bottom structure, wherein the greatest control, power and autonomy lies right at the top and decreases downwards) because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions (Wikipedia)."  So, a 313 meter cross could be seen as an invention (something that has never been made before) - and as a reaction (resistance or opposition to a force, influence or movement - especially toward a former and usually outmoded [out of date] social order or policy) to "these things happen" coming from them, concerning the satanic within a church - a cross being at home (to feel comfortable in the place or situation you are in) on the global scene (things that are happening with worldwide significance).  There are various definitions for sorcery.  "The use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits (www.merriam-webster.com)."  "The use of rituals...with the aim of utilizing supernatural forces (Wikipedia)."  "Use of supernatural power over others (www.thefreedictionary.com)."  And last, but not least: "The use of an evil supernatural power to control or influence people and their affairs (personal or business interests; matters of interest or concern) or the natural world (natural life on earth; the global ecosystem - www.yourdictionary.com)."  Merriam-Webster defines warlock as "a man practicing the black arts".  Black arts are defined as a belief that "harnesses (bring under conditions for effective use) occult forces, evil spirits or invokes supernatural powers to produce unnatural effects (not being consistent with the normal course of events) in the world (vocabulary.com)." 

Or the Pentecostal definition: "The operation of spiritual forces invoked...the actions of Satan as applied."  This is pure evil, that is, to take pleasure in ruining people's lives - to destroy the happiness of others, and not even to have a spark (a small fiery particle) of good.  Melinda Henneberger wrote this piece (written, musical or artistic creation) about Hollywood: "That women as successful as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie stayed quiet for decades before finally daring to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexually harassing them underlines why so few women with no Oscars and far less power and prestige ever come forward."  Within organized religion, it is a same culture of silence - people are too intimidated (compelled or deterred by possible subtle threats) to "speak a word" against the church.  Sadly, it may take decades before things finally come out.  "On November 27 (2017) a woman came forward to NBC brass (high-ranking officials in an organization) with allegations (a positive assertion, especially of misconduct) of inappropriate (not suitable or proper in the circumstances) sexual behavior by [Matt] Lauer over the course of 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The next day the network's (a telecommunications network for distribution of program content) biggest star (a commentator who plays a principal role), fifty-nine, was fired (People, December 18, 2017)."  And there were other things.  Time comments on dirty laundry (private matters whose public exposure brings distress and embarrassment) coming out of the closet (to publicly announce a belief or preference that one has kept hidden).  "We are in the middle of the beginning of this upheaval (extreme agitation or radical change).  There is so much that we still don't know about its ultimate impact (a significant or major effect).  How far-reaching (a great influence on may people or things) will it be?  For giving voice (say or express an opinion or feeling) to open secrets (something that is widely known to be true, but which none of the people involved [to cause to be associated with someone or something] are willing to acknowledge in public), for moving whisper networks (informal channels of communication people use) onto social networks (online services or sites), for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable (not satisfactory or allowable), the Silence Breakers are the 2017 'Person of the Year' (December 18, 2017)."  Bill Cosby may have been a mystical mastermind, but he had a secret life (having two lives, one of which you do not want others to know about).  "What he was so well known for was playing these characters of great dignity (I Spy), [as well as] great gentle humanity and paternal (behaving as a father) qualities (The Cosby Show), and this (stories told by his accusers) is so completely the opposite (Robert Thompson, Professor of TV history, Syracuse University)." 

Just chanting (saying a word or phrase many times in a rhythmic [having a regular repeated pattern] way) "forgive" (stop feeling angry or resentful concerning an offence, flaw or mistake) doesn't cut it (meaning these are not the qualities needed to do a task or cope with a situation), anymore.  Sally Quinn, who has been a Washington Post reporter, cast (something that happens) an effective hex (spell, jinx - bringing bad luck and trouble), years ago.  "When I was in my late 20s and early 30s, there were three people who hurt me in some way, or hurt somebody I loved, and so I decided to put a hex on them.  I had never done it before.  What I wanted to have happen was for them to feel what I had felt.  I didn't mean for them to die.  Unfortunately, bad things happened to these three people over the period of five years."  Casting a hex means how to curse someone.  It may entail (what something involves) picturing a person you want to curse in your mind's eye (the mental picture so conceived).  Forget the Golden Rule (the principal of treating others the way one wishes to be treated), and resign yourself (accept that it's going to happen) to the fact that vengeance, and plenty of it, is the only thing that will make you happy.  Visualize (form a mental image of) great harm coming to him or her, as you harness dark powers (forces which cause ruin, injury or pain).  In the Pentecostal Movement, they have got this down to a science (when you are able to manage doing something very well - practiced ease and confidence).  Joshua Miller, University of Georgia, Donald Lynam, Purdue University and Scott Lilienfeld, Emory University - all professors of psychology - stated this.  "Narcissistic personality disorders (people who have an inflated sense of their own importance and a lack of empathy for others) tend to cause others harm and distress via manipulation (to control or play upon by artful, unfair or insidious means)."  Meaning, they do it and have no problem with it.  Kumail Kanjiani commented about "the evil that people justify using religion".  Yet the church attacks a fictitious (not real or true) Harry Potter.  "Harry has made news, ever since his arrival on the scene in 1998, for provoking the ire (anger) of some right-wing Christians who believe his magical powers and wizardly aspirations promote occultism and Satan worship.  These enemies of young Potter arm themselves with this quotation from Deuteronomy.  'There shall not be found among you any who makes his son or daughter pass through fire or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or one who calls up the dead.'  Conservative Christian leaders continue to make public statements against the book.  James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, reiterated (to say again) last week in a statement that he has 'spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products' (Newsweek, August 6, 2007)." 

President Trump has said: "Piety (the quality of being religious) to evil will bring you no dignity (worthy of honor or respect).  If you choose the path (a route, course or track), your life will be empty (vacant, blank or void), and your soul will be condemned (declaring an evildoer to be guilty)."  Witchcraft is defined as "the invocation of spirits" and "communication with the devil" - the invocation of the satanic.  The Pentecostal Movement claimed First Amendment protection in Federal District Court, and the judge agreed they had immunity (to allow an accused to avoid prosecution).  What they do may have similar qualities to a Lucifer's Touch spell.  "Weaving chaos (a state in which everything is out of order) in your mind - hex (a spoken set of words which brings bad luck through often harmful supernatural powers) of anger, hex of hate - bring him down (sabotage - deliberate destruction, disruption or damage of - his life), I will not wait."  A logline (a brief summary of a film that states the central conflict of a story): "A Pentecostal church member suffers numerous setbacks (a change in status for the worse) and hardships after his pastor ex-communicates (depriving a person of the rights of church membership) him and invokes a satanic curse (Screenwriters Online "Studio Coverage" of Beltane)."  A song: "In a dark demonic full moon night, the masters will now call.  The armies of death - thunder and lightning and fire from the sky.  They burn you to ashes...a world full of blackness...a world full of pain (Mystic Prophecy, "Satanic Curses", 2007)."  Fundamentalists (people who believe in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion) may act somewhat like marauders (persons who may be unpleasant or even dangerous).  You might never know what hit you (to feel shocked or confused because something bad has happened to you suddenly).  True Stories of Real Evil speaks of "forces of evil that seek to harm us".  It goes on to say "the devil is either a real creature or a metaphor (a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing) which epitomizes (to be a perfect example of) the power of evil in the world".  When the Pentecostal Movement is done with a "target" they might have walking corpse syndrome (a very rare mental disorder which makes people think they are dead).  Within organized religion, those who question may be "punished".  "Investigative journalism involves exposing to the public, matters that are concealed - either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic (a state of complete confusion and disorder) mass of facts and circumstances that obscure (dark, vague or ambiguous) understanding.  It requires both secret and open sources (someone who supplies information) and documents (www.journalismfund.eu)." 

The trigger (to cause to explode) for an occult (matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural powers) act was an accusation (a claim that someone has done something wrong) made by a church - "We understand you've been making phone calls and writing letters."  So, did the minister evoke (to call forth) evil spirits with a satanic ritual (a formal ceremony), or was it the operation of a church doctrine (a set of beliefs)?  Or was it this: "Within the context of ancient cursing (a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one; evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to an imprecation), one could 'hand over' a person to a metaphysical (relating to things that are thought to exist, but cannot be seen) agent who was entrusted with inflicting various forms of malevolent (the desire to see another experience pain, injury or distress) consequences (Hand This Man Over to Satan, David R. Smith)."  The challenge is proving a case for the paranormal - things which push the boundaries of what we know to be fact.  A destructive demonic force - or DDF for short - can be this.  "Virtually (nearly, almost) all religions and cultures have various supernatural entities (forces or principals believed to animate beings) that are considered malevolent (having or showing a wish to do evil to others).  Sometimes they are entities with capabilities (the ability or power) for destruction.  And in some belief systems, they are evil spirits hell-bent (determined to achieve something at all costs) on making one's life miserable (www. deliriumsrealm.com)."  They are "supernatural beings and the force of evil - supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world (Myth Encyclopedia)."  BibleSprout speaks of the "types of occult satanic worship in the Bible".  Jonas Clark has authored over twenty-nine books, written hundreds of articles and recorded thousands of audios.  In 1985 he founded Jonas Clark Ministries, and has lectured (a talk given to a group of people) in over twenty-six countries.  He describes what those who speak in other tongues can do.  "Witchcraft can be accurately described as a spiritual force that releases chaos.  People releasing witchcraft will often get spiritual with you by ending their conversation speaking in other tongues.  Have you experienced spiritual retaliation (responding to an injury with an injury - retribution) against you?  In the church we see the spirit of witchcraft consuming someone's time." 

Wikipedia says this about speaking in other tongues.  "Glossolalia (profuse and often emotionally charged speech that mimics coherent speech but is usually unintelligible to the listener and that is uttered in some state of religious ecstasy and in some schizophrenic states) or speaking in tongues, according to linguists (those who study language), is the fluid vocalizing (express in words) of speech-like syllables (a unit of spoken language) that lack any readily comprehended meaning.  Glossolalia is practiced in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity.  Felicitas Goodman, a psychological anthropologist (those who study humans in relation to physical, environmental, social and cultural character) and linguist, studied a number of Pentecostal communities in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico; these included English-, Spanish- and Mayan-speaking groups.  She compared what she found with recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan.  She took into account both the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and supra-segmental elements (rhythm, accent, intonation) and concluded there was no distinction between what was practiced by the Pentecostal Protestants and the followers of other religions."  Wikipedia comments on the history of tongues.  "12th century - Hildegard of Bingen is reputed to have spoken and sung in tongues.  17th century - early Quakers, such as Edward Burrough, make mention of tongues speaking in their meetings: "We spoke with new tongues."  19th century - the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) contains extensive references to the phenomenon of speaking in tongues.  At the 1836 dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the dedicatory (rite or ceremony of dedicating) prayer asks that God grant them the gift of tongues and at the end of the service Brigham Young speaks in tongues, another elder interprets it and then gives his own exhortation (encouragement, beseeching, urging ) in tongues."  Brigham Young was an American leader of Mormons and a settler of the western United States.  He was the second president of the Mormon Church and founded Salt Lake City.  In the 20th century there was a "headline (words often in larger letters placed at the top of a page) about the 'Weird Babel (a place of uproar or confusion) of Tongues' and other behavior (the manner in which one conducts oneself) at the Azusa Street, from a 1906 Los Angeles Times NewspaperWilliam Seymour, an African-American preacher, traveled to Los Angeles where his preaching ignited (give life or energy to) the Azusa Street Revival.  This revival is considered the birth of the global Pentecostal Movement.  According to the first issue of Seymour's newsletter, The Apostolic Faith, from (published in) 1906: 'A Mohammedan (old term for Muslim), a Sudanese (from Sudan - in Africa) by birth, a man who is an interpreter (a person who translates words) and speaks sixteen languages, came into the meetings at Azusa Street and the Lord gave him messages which none but himself could understand.'"  These are genetic freaks.

Mary Stange, a professor of religion at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: "We as a society (an organized community) have too frequently failed to take religion seriously as a source of evil as well as good."  Organized religion, in situations as these, considers itself to be untouchable (too powerful or important to be punished).  They rampage (to act or move in a wild and usually destructive way) around, as if the world is their own private playground.  A target's (a person at which an attack is aimed) testimony might be: "I really just didn't think anyone would believe me," after being told, "You're credibility (quality of being believed or accepted as true, real or honest) is zero."  The pastor may have felt rogue (a leader who defies the norms), in order to improve himself, due to a religious policy (appropriate or in accordance with the principals of a church). "He will get you in the night.  Then he'll take away your life.  He's coming to your house with Satan in his head."  The band, Macabre's, "Night Stalker", 1993.  "Horror stories of authoritarian abuse and exploitation in certified (officially approved as genuine or authentic) churches abound (to be present in large numbers - Charismatic Control: Witchcraft in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, Steven Lambert)."  "The front [put out] can be [that of] wonderful Christians, and the deeper [reality] can be [ that of] the worst type of satanic monster imaginable (Science of Trauma & Torture)."  If a rape of the poor occurs, a target is instructed to: 1) touch not the Lord's anointed (referring to a pastor, in the Bible refers to a king or the Messiah), 2) forgive or your sins will not be forgiven - a target not only has his, or her, life trashed (to cause great damage to) by a church, but burns in hell when it's all over, and 3) nothing should have happened to you - it's a target's fault that a church was successful in initiating a satanic attack.  There has been a "censorship (the practice of examining written material and blocking things) of intelligence (information collected)" that prevents it from coming out.  Sunday circus at church.  Biblelife.org: "Bondage (servitude or being in submission to a controlling person) pastors do not function as shepherds caring for their flocks; they function more like a sheepdog nipping at the members' backsides.  Bondage church members tend to follow without question...[and] submit to emotional and verbal beatings." 

Woody Woods, former assistant pastor in two fundamentalist churches in Wales, U.K.: "After years and years of this brainwashing and manipulation you are now a fully conditioned soldier for Jesus...well the leadership.  They want your complete compliance (doing what you have been asked to do).  They cleverly equate obedience to the pastor on the same par as obeying God and if you disobey or question you are punished."  Mark Silk, professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.: "The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions is minimal (very small or slight in amount)."  What organized religion does can be so full of smoke and mirrors, it is wise to be absolutely sure one is not stepping out of one trap and into another.  Johanna Michaelsen in The Beautiful Side of Evil, experienced a dark side: "What many of of us in the church never expect is to find satanic counterfeits operating in the very midst of Pentecostal and charismatic meetings.  Yet what I have seen happen in some of these meetings has made my blood run cold (it makes you feel very frightened)."  In the small town of Bhilwara, India, as is the case in many small towns in India, there exists a bhopa, a self-proclaimed (based on one's own assertion) sorcerer (a person who practices the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits, and who uses them to harm other people).  Bhilwara Police Superintendent Pradeep Sharma said: "Bhopas are a very widespread social evil (anything detrimental [tending to cause harm] to a society or its citizens).  People go to these bhopas for a number of problems.  They (bhopas) call [to] spirits.  It's something like voodoo."  Perhaps the Pentecostals think like this: "I am the punishment of God.  If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."  Written by Genghis Khan, who "was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous (sharing a common border) empire in history after his death.  He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes (roaming about from place to place) of Northeast Asia (Wikipedia)."  back to top

Trauma-based mind control.  From Spiritual and Clinical Dimensions of Multiple Personality Disorder, Dr. Loreda Fox, a Christian psychiatrist: "Some satanists have invaded the church as it is the perfect cover for them.  They masquerade as angels of light and gravitate towards positions of leadership in order to have more influence.  Because much of what they say is sound doctrinally, they are rarely detected.  Most survivors whom I have worked with had satanist parents who were in high positions in churches - many were pastors."  From Mind Control Cults, William Kilgore: "We have had hundreds of emails from readers who have been in mind control fundamentalist [American] Baptist and charismatic churches.  They are not a small minority.  There are far too many to just consider the syndrome (an identifiable pattern) an anomaly (something that is unusual).  I believe many Baptist and charismatic Bible colleges are cultivating the mind control approach to pastoring a local church."  An ex-Pentecostal: "I used to belong to a Pentecostal church for six years, and I've been out now for about twelve.  And yes, you cannot see the bondage you're in until after you're out of there."  From Religious Mind Control Cults, Brian Desborough: "Manipulating the minds of an unwitting (not aware of what is really happening) church congregation, the means of this insidious (causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed) method of mind control, is in my opinion an act of the most despicable (very bad or unpleasant) evil."  Trauma-based mind control can be effective.  I Corinthians 5:5 - delivering someone to Satan - can be a part of this.  From Internal Controls - Targeting Individuals: "A misuse of the Bible - and is a type of programming that the charismatic/Pentecostal movement carries out."  "The reason why traumatic experiences are important to mind control [handlers] is because the human mind is more susceptible (easily affected or influenced) to command in this state (Zen Gardner, March 1, 2014)."  This form of mind control may anxiety and fear, induce a state of high suggestibility (likely to believe what someone says is true), or desensitize (to make emotionally insensitive or callous).

Dr. Robert J. Lifton, American psychiatrist and author, did a study on mind control and came up with eight criteria for thought reform, five of which can apply to organized religion in the United States.  1) Milieu Control.  This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large - known as "the world".  2) Demand for Purity.  The world is viewed as "black and white" and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection - to be not conformed to this world, but to be transformed.  3) Sacred science.  The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute - i.e. "Jesus is about to rapture His church".  The leader, as the spokesperson for God, is likewise above criticism.  "Touch not the Lord's anointed", "I'm God's man", "He that criticizes me blasphemes God".  4) Loading the Language.  The group interprets or uses words or phrases in new ways so that often the outside does not understand - "saved" "anointing" "speaking in tongues".  5) Dispensing of existence.  Those in the outside world are not saved, and they must be converted to the group's ideology.  In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected - "not to even eat with such a one".  Trauma-based mind control occurs when an individual is experiencing a rough time and he or she is subjected to control which devalues a person - that is, to vex (annoy or worry someone) and demoralize (cause someone to lose hope) a victim.  The June 2013 issue of Paranoia Magazine did an article called: "The Sinister Reality of Trauma-Based Mind Control".  It talks of the "victims of this menace", but says "reconstructing what has happened to them is like working on a 10,000 piece puzzle that the wind just scattered all over the ground." 

A history of mind control goes back to the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.  "Throughout the course of history, several accounts have been recorded describing rituals and practices resembling mind control.  One of the earliest writings giving reference to the use of occultism to manipulate the mind can be found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. (Paralert Press, May 13, 2011)."   In the Middle Ages, in Europe, "this system of mind control had its origins in Illuminati-based black magic practices.  Multi-generational (relating to several generations [groups of people]) satanic cults have employed (made use of) mind control for centuries (The Fundamentals of Trauma-Based Mind Control, Eve Lorgen)."  She wrote this in 2000, credentials being a B.A. in biochemistry and a M.A. in psychology from San Francisco State University, California.  "The current technology grew out of experiments that the Nazis started before World War II and intensified during the time of the Nazi concentration camps when an unlimited supply of children and adults were available for experimentation.  We've heard about the inhumane medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners, but no word was ever mentioned by the media and the TV documentaries of the mind control experiments (Mind Control - The Ultimate Terror, by Ken Adachi)."  The Nazis were the "developers" in the mid-20th century.  "One of the first methodical studies (done in an organized and planned manner, following a clear procedure) on trauma-based mind control was conducted (organized and carried out) by Josef Mengele, a physician working in Nazi concentration camps.  He initially gained notoriety (being famous or well-known, especially for something bad) for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer (The Vigilant Citizen)."  "After WWII many Nazi scientists were brought over to the U.S., through our own Intelligence community, who formerly worked on mind control research in the concentration camps ('Montauk Mind Control Victim Interview', NewsHawk Inc.)."  "Organizations practicing trauma-based mind control - Central Intelligence Agency...charismatic movement...Illuminati (www.whale.to)."  "Project Monarch could be best described as a form of structured dissociation (the separation of whole parts of the personality) and occultic (a study of the action or influence of supernatural powers) integration (co-ordination of mental processes into a normal effective personality).  During this process, a satanic ritual is performed.  Many of the abused come from Catholicism, Mormonism or charismatic Christianity (Project Monarch, Ron Patton)."

"Project Artichoke was a CIA project [in 1952].  Artichoke was a mind control program that gathered information with the intelligence divisions of the Army, Navy, Air Force and FBI (Wikipedia)."  It is a possibility that rogue (corrupt, dishonest) elements within organized religion picked up these techniques in the latter part of the 20th century.  The church may dismiss these statements by aforementioned authors as being hearsay (something that you have only been told), but there are simply too many of them.  Eve Lorgen, again: "The important thing to remember is that the powerhouse behind this type of mind control system is demonic."  Trauma-based mind control can be used by a church, to turn people against you.  And what they may have done ten, twenty, thirty or forty years ago, can have ripples (a situation in which one event causes a series of other events to happen) which may affect your life to this day.  "When you look closely at this spiritual anointing permeating (spreading through) charismatic churches, it becomes abundantly clear that it is nothing but white magic dressed up in a 'Christian' garb (The Cutting Edge)."  "Satanists and witches are infiltrating (to enter a place or an organization secretly) the [American] church - especially charismatic churches.  We have received many letters in our office from people who say they believe their pastor must be under some kind of demonic influence.  Let's look more closely at this form of witchcraft in the church...I know one large Pentecostal church wholly given over to Satan (David Wilkerson, March 5, 1990)."  It may be easy to scapegoat (an organization which is unfairly blamed for problems) the Pentecostal Movement, but if the truth be known, probably everybody else does it too. "In 1959, Richard Condon's classic psychological thriller The Manchurian Candidate was published.  The book's plot revolves around the son of a leading American political family being brainwashed into becoming a communist assassin without his knowledge or consent (Real-Life Manchurian Candidates)."  The National Geographic Channel did a series on real-life CIA experiments in the 1950s: "The CIA performed ruthless tests on people to create an assassin without memory."  National Geographic may have gotten a little carried away, but one of the names for the American program was MKUltra.  "Perhaps the most high profile investigation into MKUltra and mind controlled operatives has been conducted by Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota (Real-Life Manchurian Candidates)."  "The people [in the program] didn't really know what was going on.  They were basically tricked (Dr. Colin A. Ross, a clinical psychologist)."  This is about mind control supposedly used on U.S. military personnel from 1950 to 1975.  "They are alleging (to claim that someone has done something illegal) top secret CIA scientists experimented on them (Russia Today, December 2, 2010)." 

The Chinese may have used a mild form of mind control during the Korean War.  "The Chinese had somehow brainwashed our boys.  But how?  At the height of the brainwashing fever, conservative spokesmen often seized upon the very mystery of it all to give a religious cast to the political debate.  All communists have been, by definition, brainwashed through satanic forces, they argued (The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, John Marks)."  "Evidence from the returning Americans [from Korea] disproved popular speculation about the motives for collaboration (give help to an enemy during a war).  They were never under absolute psychological control of their captors (a person who catches or confines another).  Instead they had been subjected to the type of comprehensive indoctrination (to teach someone to fully accept the beliefs of a particular group) routinely employed by Chinese officials against their own dissidents (disagreeing with an established religious or political system).  The methods included isolation, endless 'confessions', psychological pressure ('Manchurian Candidate' Was No Mere Fiction, Mark Sauter)."  Church leaders had a lot to study in the late 1970s, that the U.S. government had experimented with twenty-five years earlier.  All they had to do was synthesize (to combine things to make something new) it into "the operation of spiritual forces invoked" and "the actions of Satan as applied" to achieve success.  "In anyone's sincere quest (a long or arduous [hard to accomplish or achieve] search) for truth, they will undoubtedly (certainly) come up against the area of deliberate (done consciously and intentionally) trauma-based mind control.  At first it may seem like 'conspiracy theory (a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event) on steroids (blown way out of proportion)', but as you investigate this subject further it becomes a dark, stark (rigidly conforming) reality that cannot be shaken (jolted or shocked - Zen Gardner, February 18, 2011)."  "I'm speaking of victims - more accurately (correct in all details) called survivors (persons who cope well with difficulties in their lives) of trauma-based mind control.  Two counselors I know - 'Fern and Audrey" - who have worked with survivors full-time for eleven years have told that '99% of the people we counsel are Christians' (www.allaboutgod.com)." 

"The roots of occult rituals and practices of 'mind control' are deep in human history.  World War II accelerated (moving faster or happening more quickly) the mind control researches (studious inquiries or examinations), so that a new secret science came up.  The pioneer was the ruthless (having or showing no pity or compassion for others) Nazi, Dr. Josef Mengele, which was well known for his torture experiments (resulting in death, trauma, disfigurement or permanent disability).  His methods researched the maximum amount of pain a human was able to bear, and the minimum amount of love they needed.  The main goal was to find out, how one could make an individual do things he would never do by his free will (conspiracy.wikia.com)."  "During the 20th century mind control became a science in the modern sense of the term, where thousands of subjects have been systematically (done or acting according to a fixed plan) observed, documented and experimented on.  Josef Mengele is mostly known for performing grisly (inpiring horror or intense fear) human experiments on camp inmates, including children, for which he was called the Angel of Death.  Mengele is infamous for his sordid (arousing moral distaste) human experiments on concentration camps ' prisoners, especially on twins.  A part of his work that is rarely (not often, seldom) mentioned however, is his research on mind control.  Much of his research in this field was confiscated (take or seize with authority) by the Allies and is still classified (officially stated to be secret) to this day.  Handlers (persons who promise to meet an individual's needs, but those needs are ignored for group goals) seek the compartmentalization (divide into sections or categories) of their subject's psyche (the human soul, mind or spirit) using trauma to cause dissociation (the disconnection or separation of something from something else) [and] spiritual abuse to cause a victim to feel possessed, harassed and controlled (Origins and Techniques of Monarch Mind Control, December 12, 2012)"  "There are different types of cults, with various doctrines, as well as those who subject followers to a variety of mental, mind-controlled techniques.  Currently, great numbers of end time (the period of time leading up to Judgment Day) groups have emerged on the scene (something has become an important part of a situation) with a frenzy (a state or period of uncontrolled excitement).  Some only mildly affect an attendee's (persons who are present on a given occasion or at a given place) psyche while others inflict (force someone to experience something very unpleasant) major psychological damage that can affect the person for years afterwards (Colleen Johnson, 2003)." 

From Christoff Health: "The easiest way to understand trauma-based mind control is to think about what's often called battered women's syndrome.  In the case of an aggressive male, who abuses his wife or spouse, we unfortunately have what's needed to understand trauma-based mind control." Battered woman syndrome means this.  "If you are a woman being abused by your partner and you've lived through at least two cycles of being battered (damaged or worn down so as to bruise, shatter or demolish), you might have what's known as battered woman syndrome.  The term was coined (invent or devise a new word or phrase) decades ago by Lenore Walker, PhD, founder of the Domestic Violence Institute.  This is how she describes one cycle of abuse, which she says has three phases (parts of development).  In the first phase, tension (mental or emotional strain) builds between the batterer and the woman.  The second phase is a explosion (a violent release of energy) or encounter (engaging in opposition) when the woman is the victim (helpless and passive in the face) of [psychological] battering.  The third is when her abuser appears calm and loving [and] pleads (makes an urgent, emotional request) for forgiveness.  Walker believes battered woman syndrome is a subcategory (a further category within a category [a type or group of things]) of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Many battered women stay in abusive relationships.  There are a number of reasons why they don't leave, says Deb Hirschhorn, PhD, a marriage and family therapist (psychoanalyst, psychologist, etc.) in Woodmere, New York.  She may come from a background of abuse and 'is conditioned (characterized by a predictable pattern of behavior as a result of having been subjected to certain circumstances) to look for the good in her partner (husband or significant other) just as she had to see the good in her parents,' Hischhorn says.  She truly believes her spouse or partner wants to help her.  'It's a rescue syndrome,' Hirschhorn says.  She's likely to have low self-esteem (toleration of abusive situations and relationships).  She believes she's only getting what she deserves (Everyday Health)."  From Monarch Programming, February 11, 2016: "The charismatic branch of the satanic network - such as the Assembly of God churches - uses programming (the idea that internal thoughts, emotions and decisions can be controlled against a person's will through psychological or paranormal means)."  These are very dangerous (likely to cause problems) people.

The next two quotes are from Mediocre (not very good) Monday.  "Nothing is as divisive (something that causes great and sometimes unfriendly disagreement) as religion.  All you have to do is point to things like the Vatican or the numerous Protestant mega-churches (any Christian church with a sustained average weekly attendance of 2000 persons or more) and their phony (something that is not real or genuine) prosperity teachings (ideas or principles taught by an authority).  In contrast to all the layers upon layers (professionally implanted fantasies) of religion that have merely (just, only) built themselves up over the centuries in the name of God - when you read what the Bible actually says you find that it's in fact diametrically opposed (two points directly opposite each other) to everything being professed (claimed openly) and pushed (exerted force on).  It goes so far as to divide the entire kingdom (a spiritual reign [a period of time during which someone is in charge]) of God, which is an eternal heavenly kingdom from all the kingdoms of this world - which are ultimately serving the agenda (a list of matters, items or things to be done) of a fallen spiritual entity - the fallen angel named Lucifer.  Jesus teaches us to invest in the kingdom of heaven, to invest in the lives and needs of other people and not to invest in the things of this world, which are only temporary.  Monetary wealth, positions, power, fame are all considered idols (symbols of worship) in the eyes of God, according to the Bible.  Yet the pursuit of these things is essentially the blueprint (a photographic print in white on a blue background) by which our entire modern society functions (works or operates - November 7, 2016)."  "Mind control is a very controversial (causing disagreement or discussion) subject.  One of the most perceived 'defense mechanisms' (any of a variety of unconscious mental processes used to protect oneself) of the brain is the so-called dissociation.  For people who do not know anything about this, enough literature is available, given the widespreadness (common over a wide area or among many people) of this phenomenon (a fact or situation that is observed - June 13, 2017)."  Dissociation means disruptions in consciousness, identity or memory.  From Mind Control Coverup.  "Under the provisions (being provided) of the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA was established.  One of the main areas investigated (to find out the fact about) by the CIA was mind control.  The program was motivated by Soviet, Chinese and North Korean use of mind control techniques.  The CIA originated (had a specific beginning of) its first program in 1950 under the name BLUEBIRD.  MKULTRA officially began in 1953.  In 1973, tipped off (secret warnings) about forth coming investigations, CIA director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of any MKULTRA records (things set down in writing).  The Senate Intelligence Committee did find some records during its investigation in 1976.  Senator Frank Church, who led the congressional investigations of the CIA's unlawful actions (acts which is a violation of any statute), said that the agency was 'a rogue elephant' (one whose behavior is aberrant or independent) operating above the law (exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else) as it plotted assassinations, illegally spied on thousands of Americans, and even drugged citizens in its effort to develop new weapons for its covert arsenal (tactics wrapped in secrecy)." 

From the History of Monarch Programming.  "MK Ultra is widely known to have run throughout the 1950s and 1960s and is admittedly (agreeing that something is true) said to have been done for the purpose of developing the best torture and interrogation (to ask someone a lot of questions for a long time) methods for later use on enemies of the state.  The testing is said to have included, but is not limited to - the administering of LSD, electroshock (application of electric current to a person's head), physical abuse, isolation and sensory deprivation (losing personal identity through long periods of isolation by a person being deprived of sight and sound), and was conducted on both adult and children test subjects (research matters).  Once light was shed (make free from confusion) on the existence of MK Ultra in the 1970s, the CIA quickly stepped forward saying that it had stopped all such experiments.  Since that point however, several whistle-blowers (persons who expose any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical or not correct) have come forth saying that the project merely went completely underground (a group secretly working illegally)."  "Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich, a professor at Tubingen University in Germany, wrote a classic study of 'demonic possession' in 1921 called Possession, Demonical and Other.  This revealed that trauma-based mind control was being used in France, Germany and Belgium long before the dawn of the 20th century (The Biggest Secret)."  "Mind control for diabolical (serious and unpleasant) purposes is a very important part of understanding the nature of modern society.  Things are not what they seem to be.  Private occult societies (any system claiming the use or knowledge of supernatural powers) dabble (take part in an activity) in what in former days would have been called 'black magic', witchcraft or enchantment (magic spell).  Many people dismiss (treat as unworthy of serious consideration) the possibility of mind control as far-fetched (unlikely, implausible or unconvincing) and smacking (seeming to be) of 'conspiracy theories' (beliefs that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event - Alim, February 19, 2011)."  "I am not a doctor.  I am not a therapist.  But, with all due respect (used to express polite disagreement) the Illuminati aren't real.  Conspiracy theorists like to use the idea of this supposed offshoot (an activity that developed from one that already existed) from the Masonic order to construct their theories.  Mind control techniques, however, are very real.  They are used to alter (modify, adjust or transform) a person's perceptions (the state of being aware, the way you think) of reality.  Many abusers use these techniques.  They say things like, 'You're so ugly, no one else would ever want you.'  'If you didn't make me so mad, I would never hit you.'  If anyone is alone in a situation like this for a time, these lies begin to seem plausible (reasonable, believable or conceivable - myPTSD, August 28, 2008)."  You have all these people saying all these things, so perhaps it (trauma-based mind control) does exist.    back to top 

 Occultism and paganism.  A title from an article by The Cutting Edge: "Occult Infiltration (to secretly enter an organization in order to do harm) of the Church to Destroy it from Within".  "A dangerous occult spirit has entered the Christian church in North America (Jonas Clark)."  "What I have discovered is a mass invasion of the occult (matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural powers) into what I will call the [American] 'hyper-charismatic' church, and it is spreading like wildfire (anything that is disseminated [spread] quickly), breaking across denominational barriers...to allow Satan to enter (Missy Combs)."  "We hope to show how occult philosophies have blended together with Christianity (crossroad.to)."  "Charismatic practices and teaching closely resemble yogic (i.e. yoga) and magic practices and teachings.  The occult pastor or priest is more akin to the Hindu guru than to a Christian minister.  Much occultism is openly practiced in charismatic churches (R. Davis)."  "Frequently cults will exploit their followers through the abuse of spiritual authority, forms of mind control or psychological abuse, often in the name of Christ...This form of occultism would also include satanic groups that believe Satan is a real entity and who attempt to gain supernatural power by contacting demons (James Walker)."  The sad conclusion is that "most churches operate like the occult (David J. Stewart)."  Apparently it is a problem, as so many comment on it.

The Toronto Blessing, a term coined by British newspapers, describes a revival that began in January 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church, Canada.  "Manifestations (signs of something existing or happening) included uncontrollable (too strong to be controlled, things which are unmanageable) laughing, roaring, crying, shaking, etc.  Many felt themselves infused (to cause to be filled) with a feeling of great joy and peace and love (SCP Newsletter, Fall 1994)."  This pretty much describes what happened at the Toronto Blessing.  However, this SCP Newsletter refers to the Hindus in India.  The "revival" came to Brownsville Assembly of God, Pensacola, Florida June 18, 1995.  "Thousands have hit the carpet, where they either writhe (twist the body from side to side) in ecstasy or lie stone-still in a state resembling a coma, sometimes remaining flat on the floor for hours at a time.  Some participants call the experience being 'slain in the Spirit' (Steve Rabey, 1998)."  Hilary Pegg had an adventure in England.  "One night, in 1998, after attending a charismatic Christian service in which I was 'slain in the Spirit', I felt my tongue being moved.  The next day I found my jaws and tongue moved in an incomprehensible (impossible to understand) speech I took to be 'speaking in tongues'.  However, I found the speech turning into English and I soon found myself being spoken through as if I was a medium, except I was not in a trance, by someone who said he was called Alalal, and told me he was a spirit guide."  Julie Inan gave a "testimony", December 1997, regarding a charismatic Anglican church in England.  The Toronto Blessing came to her church in June 1994.  "Everyone was laughing uncontrollably and 'slain in the Spirit'.  Gradually the effects of Toronto increased.  The minister and his assistants were affected when praying, preaching, playing music, ministering, etc.  The congregation would start laughing, crying, shaking, rocking back and forth, grunting, etc. at all times during services.  From the research that we did on leaving this fellowship, I now know that this kind of worship is in fact hypnotic (a drowsy, opiate, trance-like state), and that many charismatic leaders employ hypnotic techniques when ministering.  Over Christmas 1994, doubts began to creep in...Leaving this church was terrible, I grieved for a long time.  Three years down the the line I am fully recovered from my cult."  Toronto came to Bethel Church in Redding, California.  "Paranormal activity, angels and pixie (fairy) dust are claimed activities with this growing mega-church (Jason Stovall)."  Did Toronto come from the Unseen.  If it was, these people get paradise when they are dead.  If not, they may not.

In his book, Love Wins, Pastor Rob Bell states that "it's been clearly communicated to many that this belief [in hell as a conscious, eternal torment] is a central truth of the Christian faith.  This is misguided and toxic (harsh, malicious or harmful)."  He has been a prime mover in the so-called "Emerging Church".  He was insinuating (to introduce an idea in a subtle, indirect or covert way) that hell was a myth (a traditional or legendary story).  Evangelist Kenneth Hagin was born and raised as a Southern Baptist.  As a child he was even baptized with water, a lifelong member of the church.  At the age of 15, in 1933, he had a near-death experience which resulted from a malformed (a part of the body abnormally formed) heart - a condition he was born with.  He wrote about it in I Believe in Visions.  "My heart stopped beating.  This numbness spread to my feet, my ankles, my knees, my hips, my stomach, my heart and I leaped out of my body.  I did not lose consciousness - I leaped out of my body like a diver would leap off a diving board into a swimming pool.  I knew I was outside my body.  I could see my family in the room, but I couldn't contact them.  I began to descend down, down, into a pit, like you'd go down into a well, cavern or cave.  And I continued to descend, I went down feet first.  I could look up and see the lights of the earth.  They finally faded away.  Darkness encompassed me round about - darkness that is blacker than any night Man has ever seen."  Did he hallucinate (have imaginary perceptions)?  Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakeland Church, a huge non-denominational church in Houston, Texas.  "Someone might legitimately raise the question why we are reviewing this book.  After all, the pattern here at TMark has been that we review Christian books.  I suppose we must be branching out now, because Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now is decidedly not one of those.  Open the book to any random page, and you will likely find some mention of God or even a reference to scripture.  Yet that is just window-dressing (something that is intended to make a thing seem better, but does not have any real effect).  When you wring (twist and squeeze) the book out, what you end up with is nothing more than the soggy (heavily dull) old self-help pop-psychology that people have been lapping up (to respond enthusiastically or accept eagerly) for a generation - with the word 'God' thrown in every once in a while for good measure.  It was Benjamin Franklin, not Jesus, who said, 'God helps those who help themselves.'  That is Osteen's message too, only it is more like 'God helps those who think well of themselves' (Greg Gilbert)."  Joel Osteen might have an issue with the cross.  Many may argue this is not the case.  Then, "go and sell what you own and give the money to the destitute (suffering extreme poverty), and you will have treasure in heaven (from Matthew)."  These words were spoken by someone those within organized religion might have heard about - Jesus.  Joel Osteen may start with his $10,000,000 house. 

"Witchcraft, manipulation and control are tools of evil spirits who work through warlocks and Jezebels who operate and pose as Christ's very ministers (Safeguard Your Soul)."  "The pastor had a ready defense [and] the pastor's logic was impeccable (flawless).  Nobody in his right mind would ever question his judgment.  When most people think of witchcraft, they think essentially of hocus-pocus.  However, witchcraft is also a manipulative (manage skillfully and especially with intent to deceive) device widely used in the churches.  In the churches of today, the fear of the pastor is the beginning of wisdom (Femi Aribisala)."  "'Witchcraft' - the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or the spirits...Come early October and throughout the month, one need only turn on any [American] Christian radio station to hear a myriad (basketful, boatload, bunch) of Christian religious programs proclaiming the evils of the dreaded 'Halloween'.  Beware when you hear a Christian minister speak about the evils of 'witchcraft' outside the church.  When you hear such doctrine, know this tactic is a cloak (something that conceals) to hide from God's children the real acts of witchcraft occurring inside the church (Isaiah 58 Broadcast)."  "Probably the most disturbing element is the emergence of the actual practice of witchcraft within the church.  And witchcraft is beginning to be accepted rather casually (feeling or showing little concern) in religious, even Christian circles (Mission: America, January 22, 2016)."  "Paganism is being introduced into the church today by radical feminists (Tom Graffagnino)."  "When Kathleen Ward Atchason left Wicca, she never dreamed she would encounter witchcraft within the walls of Christendom.  As Wicca and goddess worship grow in popularity in the culture, elements of the practice also are appearing in Christian churches.  When [Connie] Alt read Wellsprings [Magazine] article (on a cloning ritual), she telephoned Foundry Methodist [Church] to speak to [Rev. Nancy] Webb [in Washington, D.C.].  Alt tells Insight that Webb informed her that she found Northern European practices of Wicca very helpful.  Evidence of this can be found [as well] in the Presbyterian Church USA which also has sponsored goddess worship (Insight Magazine)."  "Witchcraft is counterfeit spiritual authority, it is using an unholy spirit to dominate, manipulate or control others.  One prominent form of white witchcraft which is common in the church is charismatic witchcraft (Rick Joyner, 1992)."  "Witchcraft in the form of control, domination and manipulation is at the core of the problem in the church...The Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks (California) had yearly women's conferences that were inundated (overflow, overwhelm) with new age spirits in their teachings (Priscilla van Sutphin)."

"It may surprise you that witchcraft is alive and flourishing in our [American] churches.  For those who practice witchcraft in the church, Jude (the Book of Jude in the Bible) has a bit to say about them: '...wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been kept forever' - Jude 1:13 (Angus MacKillop, September 26, 2012)."  "Every time the word 'witchcraft is mentioned, people's minds automatically go to covens (a group of witches).  Unfortunately, no one mentions the three most common forms of witchcraft - intimidation, domination and manipulation (MFM Silver Spring)."  "In most cases, those who practice witchcraft in the church are among the workers, leaders, deacons and prominent (important and well-known) members (Francis Akin-John)."  "The pastor is held to a far lower standard.  These people know they can pretty much act as they choose with impunity (freedom from punishment), and the religious system will protect them.  As a matter of fact, the religious system will close ranks (unite in a concerted way) around the favored individual and actually severely punish anyone who tries to stand against him.  If a victim of a theft or a child molestation wants to take the offender to the authorities, he is told [by the church] - 'No.  We will handle this in house.'  If such a person leaves this den of evil, they (the church) will unleash all the power of the place.  The person who attempts to leave such a place will often find himself stricken (horribly affected) with disease, suffer accidents and financial ruin, family and marriage breakup, or mental insanity.  And then the other people in the church gleefully (great pleasure or satisfaction) go around and laugh at that person's fate, saying - 'See.  This is what happens when you turn against the Lord.  The Lord will punish you.  This is what he got for trying to lie about our deacon, claiming that he stole money and raped his daughter.'  But it is not the Lord's wrath at all, but the demons they have unleashed on that person (Church Witchcraft)."  Or a church can sum it up (conclude) by telling a target: "You have nothing, you've been condemned by a court."  It could be said that there is a possible occult pursuance (a carrying out or into effect) within organized religion in the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  "In 1570 James Calfhill, Bishop of Worcester [England] claimed 'the vilest (morally despicable) witches and sorcerers of the earth are the priests' (Christian Crimeline)."  Not too much has changed.

Maleficia means misfortunes, injuries and calamities suffered by persons, animals or property for which no scientific, logical or common sense reason can be found.  This has been, at the least, a small part of the church, as of late.  "Many deceived people say that you can still be a Christian and practice witchcraft, which is false (biblereasons.com, January 27, 2016)."  Two quotes from a book by Berit Kjos, A Twist of Faith.  "In November (1993), that allure [of feminist spirituality] drew over 2000 women from mainline [Protestant] churches in 49 states and 27 countries to Minneapolis, Minn.  They came together to re-imagine Jesus, funded in part by their Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran denominations.  'We invoke Sophia, Divine Wisdom' prayed 2000 women at the opening ceremony to the re-imagining conference in Minnesota."  And on June 2, 1994 in San Francisco, Calif.: "[Episcopal Pastor] Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral expressed his delight.  'We bow to your sacred power, the holy wisdom of Sophia, our beloved mother who is in heaven and earth.'"  On it goes.  "A Protestant church in California is featuring 'guided meditations' by a high priestess of the pagan fertility goddess Isis.  The [conference] is being hosted by the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco (WND, October 29, 2011)."  A definition of paganism - a person who delights (something that makes you very happy) in gratification (satisfaction or pleasure) of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing; and the preoccupation (extreme or excessive concern) with material goods (tangible property).  Paganism is simply worldly Christianity run amok (in a wild or uncontrolled manner).  "Today's Christian church is not remotely (far removed in time or space) close to the same as the one Yahushua (Jesus) established.  The different forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually have crept (to move slowly and quietly especially in order to not be noticed) into the worship (G. Lee, Inc.)."  "While Christian paganism may seem to be a contradiction in terms, it sadly, is not.  Indeed, there are growing segments (bits, fragments) of the church which may be better described as pagan than as Christian (Bill Muehlenberg, February 4, 2010)." 

"The ancient labyrinth (a place constructed of intricate or complex passageways) or spiral is now being touted (to talk about something as being very good) as a means of 'healing' and meditation in churches throughout the United States.  'All of these things are part of our spiritual health,' says Murray Blackander, pastor of the Church of Our Savior in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where members have just built a 17-meter-wide (60 foot) labyrinth of stone and grass (The Cutting Edge)."  It's not only in the United States.  "The Church of England is trying to recruit (to find people and get them to join) pagans and spiritual believers as part of a drive to retain congregation numbers.  Rev. Steve Hollinghurst told the BBC, it would be 'almost to create a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the center' (The Telegraph, June 1, 2013)."  "The church is indeed full of pagan relics, pagan philosophies and occult practices (Is Christ Soon to Return)."  "If you examine the 'new age/new spirituality' movement you will see that the demonic deception of neo-paganism has already infiltrated most of what is called Christianity (Don Koening)."  "The new paganism is winning not by opposing but by infiltrating the church (Peter Kreft, 1987)."  "You can't Christianize paganism and expect God to accept it or approve of it (Christian Culture Center, September 30, 2014)."  It could be said that paganism is on the loose (not controlled or held back) in the church today.  "Today almost every conservative Catholic publication has featured a horror story of some form of witchcraft or earth-goddess-inspired liturgy (a fixed set of ceremonies used during public worship) being performed in some Catholic Church in some large North American city (Christian Order, February 1998)."  There was a vision (a picture you see in your mind) of Satan loosed seen way back on October 13, 1884.  "In a famous vision, Pope Leo XIII [in 1884] saw that Lucifer had been released from hell to try to destroy the church (Mariam Hersat, Ph.D, July 21, 2015)."  You have all these people saying all these things, and the church simply marches blithely (showing a lack of proper care or thought) on, oblivious (not conscious or aware of anything) to any and all criticism from anyone.  back to top

Molesting children and gay sex.  The Catholic Church comes behind in no gift (being above nothing in depravity).  "]Pope] Benedict [was] frozen and mute as a ferocious (very fierce) desperation spread through the Roman Catholic Church.  Each week reveals more cases of sexual abuse committed by European priests - several of whom were allowed by church authorities to continue working with children even after their transgressions became known.  Scores of priests have been implicated in Dublin alone; one admitted to abusing more than 100 children, while another said he did so every couple of weeks for 25 years.  What the Vatican views as punishment, the outside world can see as reward.  Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up and ignored hundreds of abuse cases in Boston, was demoted (a change of position to a less important one), yet remains in a cushy (very easy or pleasant) Vatican post (Newsweek, April 5, 2010)."  "It is impossible to overstate the breadth and depth of the child molestation scandal, or the damage done to both the children and the credibility of the church.  In the U.S. alone, more than 16,000 victims have reported abuse.  Similar scandals have roiled (to upset very much) Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium and Benedict XVI's own German, each revealing thousands more victims.  The details in each country are as horrifying as they are familiar.  Hundreds of priests abused and raped children.  Reports of abuse were ignored.  Victims were sometimes muzzled (something that restrains normal expression).  Predator priests were shuffled off to other parishes to molest again.  And the highest church leaders often fought to keep the details secret (U.S.A. Today, March 4, 2013)."  What do these priests do on Judgment Day?  According to the Book, you can burn over a cup of cold water.  "The biggest mystery surrounding this man (Pope Francis), who combines toughness and compassion, is why he has not applied his roughhouse (disorderly play) tactics to the issue that most cries out for action - clerical sex abuse.  It is more than just a moral matter.  The priority of all the church's recent leaders has been to halt the secularization (an historical process by which religion loses social and cultural significance) that began in its European heartland and is spreading through the Americas.  Top of the list of reasons why many Catholics have abandoned their faith is disgust at the ever-mounting (more and more) evidence of rape and molestation of minors by priests, which has been repeatedly overlooked, indeed covered up, by the offenders' superiors (The Economist, March 18, 2017)."

"In 1972, the United Church of Christ became the first mainline Protestant denomination in the United States to ordain an openly gay clergy.  Other churches are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - since 2010 - and the Presbyterian Church USA - since 2012.  The Episcopal Church in the United States has also allowed ordination of openly gay and lesbian candidates for ministry for some years (Wikipedia)."  Gay relationships may have drawbacks (some disadvantages).  Joel L. Watts, who holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary, commented on it back on July 28, 2008.  "Homosexuality does not offer the stability of a traditional family.  Children need a real male father and a female mother for proper and healthy development.  Homosexuals have a high incidence (the rate at which something occurs) of infidelity.  In regards to homosexual monogamy (the state of having only one partner during a period of time), homosexuals remain faithful to one partner about 25% of the time.  This is a much lower fidelity (being faithful to your partner) rate than their heterosexual (attracted to people of the opposite sex) counterparts, which is 80%.  Same sex couples experience much higher levels of domestic violence than their heterosexual counterparts.  Some studies show that the rate is at least three times higher.  It seems unkind to force children to be exposed to this.  If we allow 'loving and monogamous' relationships to be the standard by which we measure a legitimate marriage, I suppose that women could marry their horses or men could marry their pet dogs.  Doctors agree that anal (the opening through which solid waste passes) sex can be an unhealthy form of sexual contact as the anal cavity was not intended for that kind of use."  Blessed Bi Spirit, edited by Debra R. Kolodny presents a different point of view.  "Indeed, contemporary bisexuals are not the first to ponder (weigh in the mind, think about) whether we have a specific spiritual inheritance.  Who else can look at sacred sexual traditions, all of which hold specific relevance (relation to the matter at hand) to the biological sex of the people involved, and live out those practices with partners of both sexes, either in the flesh or in the mind, allowing for a richness and complexity of experience and consciousness not afforded those who limit their partners to those of only one sex?"  It would seem in the evangelical community, this may be the case.

Austin Miles was a successful circus ringmaster (a person whose job it is to introduce performers at a circus), persuaded to leave the world of show biz (business), having been brought into the Assemblies of God and ordained a minister.  He wrote a book in 1989, Don't Call me Brother.  "I became increasingly aware of the prevalence (accepted, done, or happening often) of homosexuality among Assemblies of God ministers.  But the faithful accepted effeminate (not manly) characteristics in ministers as examples of gentleness and tenderness.  I began to take special note of this sort of behavior in ministers as I went from church to church all over the United States.  I recorded my impressions in my journal.  Reviewing my journal, the ministers I have reason to suspect were homosexually inclined - had some sort sort of clear demonstration of lascivious (showing sexual desire) attention to another."  Being that most of these ministers were married, this would make it largely bisexual.  Later on in the book: "The prevalence of Assembly of God ministers committing - and getting away with - child molestation is a horror.  Rev. E.R. Schultz, District Secretary of the Florida District of the Assemblies, told me of a seventy-five-year-old pastor in his district who had recently been caught molesting a twelve-year-old girl.  He had told the girl it was time for her to learn about sex, that young boys would teach her wrong, so he would teach her about it properly.  'What did you do with him?' I asked.  'Transferred him out of the district [into another],' Shultz replied."  Televangelists may have troubles.  The PTL Club was a daily religious thing hosted by Jim and Tammy Bakker, which adopted a talk-show format.  "[It] was a Christian television program which ran from 1974 to 1989 (Wikipedia)."  Their magnum opus (greatest achievement), as Assembly of God ministers, was conceiving their own evangelical network, the PTL Club ("Praise the Lord").  But, "despite [Jim] Bakker's denials, [Jerry] Falwell also said he had heard tapes from 'men that told me of your (Bakker's) homosexual advances.'  He identified one of the witnesses as ex-PTL staffer Gary Smith.  Falwell added that he was concerned about Bakker's 'homosexual problems, dating back from 1956 to the present time as they have been alleged (to state without definite proof) to us' (Time, June 24, 2001)."  Rev. Jerry Falwell, Baptist preacher and head of Moral Majority, said this in a two hour press conference, May 27, 1987 in Charlotte, North Carolina - as quoted by Time Magazine.  Bakker was married, so that would again make his issue bisexual. 

"There does appear to have been a kind of subterranean (existing or working in secret), homosexual world inside PTL that has never been fully described," according to historian Vinson Synan of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.  "Then in 1988, the prostitute told reporters that [Pentecostal evangelist Jimmy] Swaggart had asked her to pose (to assume a posture for artistic purposed) naked in pornographic positions.  Swaggart admitted the incident and publicly confessed his sins, which included a lifelong obsession (a state in which someone thinks about something constantly) with pornography."  There's a different preacher accused of bisexuality.  "On November 4, 2006 another prominent evangelical leader, the Rev. Ted Haggard, pastor of the 14,000 strong New Life mega-church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, was forced to step down.  The allegations (a statement that someone has done something wrong) were make by Mike Jones, who claimed that the Rev. Haggard paid for sex with him over a period spanning three years."  These two previous quotes from The Rejection of Pascal's Wager.  "According to their perverse (different in a way that others feel is strange or offensive) theology, accepting Jesus and being 'saved' is all that matters; any kind of immoral (dark, rotten, unethical, unrighteous, vile or wrong) conduct after that can always be 'forgiven', hence a propensity (a strong natural tendency to do something) to cover up any immorality while at the same time smearing (an untrue story about a person that is meant to hurt that person's reputation) the messenger who dares to expose the corruption (Rich Brooks)."  Most scandals in the church go unreported, due to this standard operating procedure.  However, there are people who say things.  "Endless human experiences, emotional experiences, bizarre (very unusual or strange) experiences, and demonic experiences are said to come from the Spirit.  Attributing to the Spirit deeds He didn't do and experiences He didn't produce can be a frightening form of blasphemy (great disrespect shown to God) against the Spirit (Grace to You, John MacArthur, October 23, 2011)."  back to top

Guam and the lower forty-eight.  "An investigation by the USA TODAY network's Pacific Daily News unearthed allegations (assertions made by a party in a legal proceeding) of decades of assault, manipulation and intimidation of children raised on this remote, predominantly Catholic U.S. territory.  Among the accusations - a boy fondled (touched or handled in a gentle manner) on the way to his grandmother's burial, and another molested for the first time on his seventh birthday, then [later] raped.  The children's steadfast faith (sure, dependable, reliable, constant and unwavering belief without true understanding, perception or discrimination) in the island's priests made them vulnerable, the lawsuits say.  Accuser William Payne's parents 'had raised him to honor and respect the priest, and told him that he had to do what the priest told him to do,' according to his lawsuit.  He had 'been instilled with the belief that clergy are never wrong, and that the clergy were like Jesus.'  In the 1970s, [Archbishop Anthony] Apuron molested Roy Quintanilla, then twelve, and raped Walter Denton, then thirteen, according to Quintanilla's and Denton's respective lawsuits.  Both Quintanilla and Denton said they spoke separately with priest Jack Niland, about the alleged abuse.  In a 2015 letter to the Vatican, Denton said that after he and another altar boy told Niland that Apuron raped them, Niland told them, 'Well, boys, priesthood is a very lonely life.'  In 1988, priest Raymond Cepeda threw Timothy Shironma, then around nine, to a basilica (a Roman Catholic church that has been given the right to use that name by the Pope, as being a very important church) office floor and got on top of him, according to Shirona's lawsuit.  When Shiroma began to cry, Cepeda allegedly unzipped a backpack, pushed Shironma's head inside and sexually assaulted him.  A separate lawsuit filed by a man identified as B.B.J. says that in 1982 Cepeda officiated a funeral Mass for his grandmother, then fondled him during the car ride to the cemetery.  Louis Brouillard, a priest in Guam from 1948 to 1981, has been named as an abuser in fifty-five lawsuits.  He admitted in an affidavit (a sworn statement in writing made under oath) in October 2016 that he sexually abused twenty or more boys on the [Guam] island.  Catholicism has long been an integral part of life on this western Pacific island.  'Since the 17th century, Catholic churches have been the center of village activities,' proclaims (states in an official way) the Guam Visitors Bureau on a website describing the culture of its native Chamorro population. 

"About 85% of its residents are Catholic, populating twenty-six parishes (a section of a church district under the care of a priest) on an island just thirty miles long.  Extreme reverence for church leadership, paired with Guam's remote location, left abused children geographically trapped with few places to go for help, says Joelle Casteix, a volunteer regional director of the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.  Priests used their clout to gain access to the boys, as well as to keep their victims quiet, according to many of the lawsuits.  One accuser, described in his lawsuit only as S.A.F., said that in 1975 Brouillard told him, 'If you tell anyone, no one will believe you because I am a priest.'  On the island, resident Mae Reyes Ada, 74, says she sometimes feels embarrassed and guilty that she did not speak up, when she first heard rumors of clergy abuse in the 1970s.  'The mentality at the time was you don't say anything bad about the church and the priests,' she says (U.S.A. Today, August 10, 2017)."  The lower forty-eight refers (has a direct connection) to the forty-eight states within the continental (mainland) United States.  "In May 2003, Thomas O'Brien, the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, admitted to sheltering (protecting) at least fifty priests accused of sexual abuse, often shuffling (move people into different positions) them around to parishes across the state.  O'Brien's admission, which was released under an agreement with the county attorney (chief legal officer for a county, a specific region of a state), acknowledged that he 'allowed Roman Catholic priests under my supervision to work with minors after becoming aware of allegations of sexual misconduct'.  He waived (relinquish a legal right voluntarily - not demand something you have a right to) his own immunity (protection against a legal action) should sexual misconduct allegations against him surface.  Thirteen years later, in a lawsuit filed last September, O'Brien - now bishop emeritus (a cessation of jurisdiction over the office held, while remaining a member of the college of bishops - priests of high authority) - was accused of sexually abusing a grade-school boy.  In the O'Brien case, an Arizona man sued, claiming repressed memories resurfaced (suddenly appear again, become known again) two years ago, according to court documents.  The lawsuit accused O'Brien, now 81, of sexual abuse from 1977 through 1982.  Accusations of sex crimes involving Catholic priests and children in Louisiana may date back seven decades court records reveal (make publicly known). 

"The case of the Rev. F. David Abroussard, who is expected in a St. Martin Prish court on Nov. 27, is the most recent.  The 51-year-old former pastor in Breaux Bridge, La. while not accused of sexual contact with children, was charged in July 2016 with 500 counts (several separate causes of action or charged offenses) of possession of child pornography after investigators say they found hundreds of images on his personal computer.  Former priest Mark A. Broussard - no relation to F. David Broussard - convicted in March 2016 of molesting altar boys in the neighboring diocese (area under authority of a bishop) of Lake Charles in the late 1980s, was arrested in 2012 after a man wrote to Lake Charles bishop Glen Provost to reveal accusations against him.  The Lafayette-area cases were just two of many involving local priests and children.  In 2014, a Minnesota Public Radio investigation uncovered a wealth of court-related documents tied to such incidents in the Diocese of Lafayette.  The link - the Most Rev. Harry Flynn, who was bishop both in Lafayette and in Minnesota, where sex abuse cases involving the clergy were uncovered.  Those cases revealed that at least fifteen Lafayette priests had sexually abused children.  The accused served in myriad (great number of) church positions across the Lafayette diocese, including in small Acadiana (official name given to the French Louisiana region) towns such as Abbeville, where Gilbert Gauthe's case drew nationwide attention in the 1980s.  Gauthe admitted to raping or sodomizing (anal [the opening at the lower end of the alimentary canal through which solid waste is eliminated from the body] intercourse [physical sexual contact]) thirty-seven children dating back to 1972.  "In 2002, as a child sexual abuse scandal in Boston's archdiocese engulfed (flow over, cover or surround) the Catholic Church, The News Journal in Wilmington Del., began chronicling (telling of events in the order in which they happened) decades of child abuse, cover-ups (a usually concerted effort to keep an illegal or unethical act or situation from being made public) and quiet transfers (a process of moving someone from one place to a new location) of priests from one parish to another.  By 2011, the Diocese of Wilmington and several religious orders throughout the diocese distributed more than $110 million to 152 adult survivors who were sexually abused by area Catholic priests.  Tens of millions more were paid in confidential settlements (resolutions between disputing parties about a disputed case) with dozens of other childhood rape survivors who had been abused in families, other churches, non-profit groups or in public, private or religious schools in Delaware, The News Journal found. 

"Dozens of living and deceased priests were exposed as abusers.  Since the two-year window closed in 2009, six additional plaintiffs (persons who bring a legal action) have said they were abused as children during the 1970s and 1980s, says Wilmington attorney Thomas Neuberger, who represented many of the original victims.  Minnesota Catholic dioceses are wrestling (grappling or dealing) with new accusations of priest abuse after a 2013 state law temporarily lifted the statue of limitations to file civil actions.  Under the law, victims age twenty-four and under as of 2013 have unlimited time to sue.  Those over twenty-four had a three year window that ended in May 2016 - by that time accusers had filed more than 800 claims.  The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota disclosed a list of seventy-one priests with substantiated (established by proof or competent evidence) claims of sexual abuse of minors, archdiocese spokesman Tom Halden says.  Most incidents occurred from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s.  New York accusers have filed 118 claims of abuse by Catholic clergy.  The cases date as far back as the 1970s.  Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham testified in a 2011 deposition that the victims of child-molesting priests are partly to blame for their own abuse.  Uriel Ojeda, an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Redding [California], surrendered to the Sacramento Police Department on Nov. 30, 2011 after complaints he sexually assaulted a young teen girl in her bedroom when he worked in Sacramento that year.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, which covers twenty counties from the San Francisco Bay area to the Oregon border, came under fire (to be criticized strongly) in 2005 when thirty-three people accused ten priests of sexual assault from decades earlier.  A two-year investigation by the [Pennsylvania] state attorney general's office into the Altoona-Johnstown diocese found last year that at least fifty priests or religious leader were involved in the sexual abuse of children.  [And] as recently as 2015, at least one Iowa Catholic diocese was still dealing with the fallout (an unexpected effect or outcome) from an abuse scandal that rocked (effect deeply, stun - move or sway powerfully, as with emotion) the state in the mid-2000s (U.S.A. Today, August 25, 2017)."  "Church leaders protected more than 300 predator priests ("supposed" men of God who usually rape and molest young boys - and often never get caught) in six Roman Catholic dioceses (a district under the care of a bishop) across Pennsylvania for decades because they were more interested in safeguarding the church (to protect from harm or damage) and the abusers than tending (taking care of) to the victims, says a scathing (severely critical) grand jury report released Tuesday (August 14). 

"More than 1000 young victims were identifiable (able to be recognized) from the church's own records, the report says.  'The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal (an action regarded as morally or legally wrong),' the report says.  'Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing - they hid it all.'  The Pennsylvania report accuses church leaders of discouraging survivors from reporting the abuse, which allegedly spanned (the length of a thing) more than sixty years.  'Several diocesan administrators, including the bishops, often dissuaded (to persuade not to take a particular course of action) victims from reporting abuse to police, pressured (the use of persuasion, influence or intimidation) law enforcement to terminate or avoid an investigation or conducted (the action for manner of managing an activity) their own deficient (not having enough of a specified quality), biased (a prejudiced, partiality or partisanship) investigation without reporting crimes against children to the proper authorities,' the report says.  State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the statue of limitations was a key tool in the systematic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.  'The longer they covered it up, the less chance that law enforcement could prosecute these predators,' Shapiro said at a news conference.  The information was compiled (produced by assembling information collected) during a two-year investigation.  Shapiro called the report an 'honest and comprehensive accounting (a report or description of an event or experience) of widespread sexual abuse' in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton that minister (attend to the needs of) to more than 1.7 million Catholics (ibid, August 15, 2018)."  Where does it end?  "So when U.S. bishops faced charges of sexual abuse and cover-up (an attempt to prevent people's discovering the truth about a serious matter), they struck back through assertions (confident and forceful statements) of executive power (authority to enforce orders and ensure they are carried out as intended).  They accused the press (people who work for newspapers, magazines, etc.) of anti-Catholic bias (prejudice against a persons), prosecutors of interfering in church affairs (matters of public interest or concern) and victims' lawyers of greed (a selfish and excessive desire) and opportunism (taking advantage of circumstances).  They acted as if they - not preyed-upon (exert a harmful or destructive influence) youth - were the victims (Time, September 3, 2018)."  If they keep heading down (traveling without reference to any specific direction) a path that is dark (engaging in reckless [marked by lack of proper caution] behavior), they may never find their way back (to reach a place by discovering the right way to get there).  back to top

The nuns.  "Revelations (surprising and previously unknown facts) that a prominent (important and famous) U.S. cardinal (a leading dignitary in the Roman Catholic Church) sexually abused and harassed his adult seminarians (students in a school of theology [study of the nature of God and religious belief]) have exposed an egregious (outstanding bad, outrageous and heinous) abuse of power that has shocked Catholics on both sides of the Atlantic (an ocean between North America and Europe).  But the Vatican (the palace and official residence of the Pope in Rome) has long been aware of its heterosexual (people attracted to others of the opposite sex) equivalent - the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops (senior members of the Christian clergy) - and done little to stop it, an Associated Press analysis (investigation, inspection or evaluation) has found.  An examination (considering something carefully) by the AP shows that cases of abused nuns have emerged (surface or materialize) in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, demonstrating (showing the existence or truth) that the problem is global and pervasive (spreading widely throughout an area) thanks to the sisters' second-class status (a person who is systematically discriminated against [unfair treatment], who is denied social, political or economic benefits of citizenship) in the church and their ingrained subservience (a deep-seated attitude which is prepared to obey others unquestionably [not expressed by doubt or hesitation]) to the men who run it.  Yet some nuns are now finding their voices (manage to say something after being too nervous to talk), buoyed (boosted or increased) by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition (accepting that something is important) that even adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power (attempt by the perpetuator [someone who commits a harmful act] to use perceived to use personal characteristics to exert control over a target's behavior) in a relationship.  The sisters are going public in part to denounce (publicly declare to be evil) years of inaction (failure to do something that should be done) by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported (give an account of what has been observed) to the Vatican in the 1990s.  'It opened a great wound inside of me (due to traumatic emotional manipulation [managing or influencing skillfully]),' one nun told the AP.  'I pretended it didn't happen.'  Wearing a full religious habit (distinctive set of clothes - coif and tunic) and clutching her rosary (wooden beads and metal links, which hang from a belt with small hooks), the woman broke nearly two decades of silence to tell AP about the moment in 2000 when the priest to whom she was confessing her sins forced himself on her, mid-sacrament (Christian rite [religious ceremony] recognized as of particular importance). 

"The assault (to force sexual activity upon) - and a subsequent advance by a different priest a year later - led her to stop going to confession with any priest other than her spiritual father, who lives in a different country.  The extent of the abuse of nuns is unclear, at least outside the Vatican.  However, this week, about half a dozen sisters in a small religious congregation in Chile went public on national television with their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns - and how their superiors (higher in rank) did nothing to stop it.  A nun in India recently filed (began a legal process) a formal police complaint accusing a bishop of rape (unlawful sexual activity), something that would have been unthinkable (too unlikely to be considered a possibility) even a year ago. And cases in Africa have come up periodically (from time to time); in 2013, for example, a well-known priest in Uganda wrote a letter to his superiors that mentioned 'priests romantically (in a way that relates to love or sexual relations) involved with religious sisters (nuns)' - for which he was promptly suspended (not allowed to be involved in activities) from the church until he apologized in May.  'I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago,' Karlijn Demasure, one of the church's leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and abuse of power (taking advantage of someone's situation, or manipulating someone with the ability to punish them if they don't comply), told AP in an interview.  The Vatican declined to comment (express an opinion or reaction) to what measures (a plan or course of action taken), if any, it has taken to assess the scope (the extent of the subject matter which has to do with that which is relevant [having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand]) of the problem globally, or to punish offenders and care for victims.  A Vatican official said it is up to local church leaders to sanction (a threatened penalty for disobeying a rule) priests who sexually abuse sisters.  The official said that vulnerable (susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm) adults - 'Consecrated (dedicated to a sacred [worthy of religious veneration] purpose) women have to be encouraged to speak up when they are molested.'  And when these women become pregnant?  'Mainly, she has an abortion.  Even more than once.  And he (the priest) pays for that.  A religious sister has no money.  A priest, yes,' Demasure said.  In 1994, Maura O'Donohue wrote that she learned of twenty-nine nuns who had been impregnated (make a woman pregnant) in a single congregation (people assembled for religious worship).  Nuns she reported, were considered 'safe' sexual partners for priests fearing infection with HIV from prostitutes or other women."  Organized religion's days of betrayal (a violation of a person's trust or confidence).  back to top

The Cardinal.  "A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical leader, consider a Prince of the Church, and usually an ordained bishop () of the Roman Catholic Church.  The cardinals of the Church are collectively () known as the College of Cardinals.  The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and making themselves available individually or in groups to the Pope as requested.  Most have additional duties, such as leading a diocese () or archdiocese () or managing a department of the Roman Curia ().  A cardinal's primary duty is electing the bishop of Rome (the Pope) when the See () becomes vacant.  During the sede vacante  - the period between a pope's death or resignation and the election of his successor () - the day-to-day governance () of the Holy See is in the hands of the College of Cardinals (Wikipedia)."  A Prince of the Church, fell ().  "A prominent () Vatican diplomat () and the former archbishop () of Washington, D.C., has resigned () from the College of Cardinals over sexual abuse allegations ().  Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick presented his resignation on Friday evening (July 27).  In a statement on Saturday, the Vatican said: 'Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate () and has ordered his suspension () from the exercise () of any public ministry, together with the obligation () to remain in a house yet to indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance () until the accusations () made against him are examined () in a regular canonical trial ().  McCarrick, now 88 [years-old], has been one of the Vatican's most prominent officials ().  As archbishop of Washington, a post he served in from 2001 to 2006, McCarrick helped form church policies ().  His resignation () follows an investigation by law enforcement officials and an independent forensic agency () that found evidence that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager forty-seven years ago while service as a priest in New York. 

"Responding to the allegations in a statement released in June, McCarrick said: 'Some months ago, I was advised by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, that an allegation of sexual abuse of a teenager from almost fifty years ago had been made against me.  At that time I was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.  While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential () that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly () investigated by an independent agency (), and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York.  I fully cooperated in the process.  My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible () and substantiated ().  There are also claims of misconduct () and harassment against McCarrick involving adults.  Earlier this month a New York Times investigation detailed the story of a man who said he was abused in his early 20s by McCarrick.  At the time, McCarrick was serving as a New Jersey bishop in the 1980s.  The Times investigation uncovered secretly paid settlements () by two New Jersey dioceses in the mid-2000s to two men over allegations against McCarrick.  In a blog post (), Vatican analyst Rocco Palmo noted that the Vatican's statement on McCarrick's resignation references () several allegations against him, 'Notably (), while McCarrick's de facto () suspension from ministry already took place upon the archdiocese of New York's June judgment of his abuse of a 16-year-old boy on two occasions in the early 1970s as being credible and substantiated, today's statement refers to allegations in plural ().'  On June 20 (2018) in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, the Rev. Thomas Reese of the Religion News Service said of McCarrick, 'The simple fact that he was not only an archbishop but also a cardinal shows that, I mean, you can't get much higher than that in the Catholic Church.  Not only that, he was used by the Vatican on all sorts of diplomatic missions ().  And he was highly respected () not only within the church but also by government officials around the world, including in the United States.' (NPR, July 28, 2018)"

  "Everybody in James' family called him Uncle Teddy.  Father Theodore McCarrick was a New Jersey priest, whose charisma () and intelligence had already set him () on a clear course to rise in the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy ().  But at age 11, to James, whose story the New York Times reported last week, Teddy was a close family friend, an advisor and a mentor ().  He was also, James said, the man who exposed himself to James for the first time when he was 11.  The man, James said, who first molested him when he was 12.  And the man, James said, who got him drunk, took him to a hotel room, and assaulted him () when James was 15.  According to the Times report, James attempted to tell his family of the persistent abuse (), only to be met with denial () and disbelief ().  Since then, McCarrick's career continued to rise ().  In 1986, Father McCarrick became the Archbishop of Newark (N.J.).  In 2000, he became Archbishop of Washington, D.C., a particularly prestigious post ().  In 2001, he was promoted () to cardinal, elevating him () to the very highest ranks () of Vatican officials.  Even after his retirement in 2006 - archbishops must take mandatory () retirement at the age of 75 - McCarrick remained a valued and vocal member of the Catholic community, often representing the Catholic perspective () in global policy debate ().  But on Friday, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the college of cardinals over allegations that he had sexually harassed and abused both minors and young seminarians () over the past several decades.  According to a statement released by the Vatican, McCarrick has been instructed to live out a life of prayer and penance, and will have to remain in seclusion () pending an ecclesiastical trial.  A resignation by a cardinal is exceedingly rare ().  The New York Times reports that the last time a cardinal resigned was in 1927, over political disagreements with the Vatican, suggesting that the Vatican is taking the allegations of McCarrick's abuse seriously. 

"Last month, McCarrrick's was removed from ministry over the allegation that he had abused an unnamed 16-year-old altar boy in 1971.  A preliminary () Vatican investigation found the allegation to be credible.  He currently faces no criminal charges, because the alleged acts are beyond the statute of limitations ().  It's unclear exactly how many people McCarrrick is alleged to have abused or harassed in total ().  The archdiocese of New Jersey settled with two alleged adult victims, who were both seminarians under his tutelage ().  Victims' statements in the settlement documents attest () to McCarrick's habitual sexual relationships with multiple seminarians.  Currently, the altar boy from the 1971 incident () and James are the only two accusers () who were minors at the time of the alleged abuse.  What makes the McCarrick case particularly striking () is the degree () to which his sexual harassment of adult seminarians appears to have gone largely unchecked () despite documented complaints ().  And despite widespread awareness of his behavior (), McCarrick advanced to the highest echelons () of the Catholic hierarchy.  Action against McCarrick appears to have only been taken once his child victims came forward.  'Someone needs to be held accountable () for this disaster,' Catholic commentator Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times earlier this week, 'And that accountability requires more than self-exculpating () statements from the cardinals involved.  It requires judgment - which requires more certain knowledge - which requires investigation - which probably requires an investigator with a mandate () from the Pope himself.'  According to the New York Times, which reported on McCarrick last week, two separate New Jersey dioceses paid settlements () to adult victims, in 2005 and 2007, over allegations against McCarrick.  Robert Ciolek, who received one of the settlements, told reporters that, throughout the 1980s, when McCarrick was the Bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, he would frequently take seminarians to his beach house, during which one student would be chosen to share a bed with McCarrick. 

"In bed, McCarrick would massage their shoulders, or otherwise engage in unwanted touching ().  A second seminarian, who asked not to be named in the Times, described not only explicit () sexual contact with McCarrick, but also witnessing () McCarrick frequently engaged in sexual behavior () with other seminarians and priests under his authority ().  'My observations were that people were disgusted () by it,' Ciolek told the Times.  'There were some who gloried in the attention () it brought on them, even if it was screwed-up () attention.  But I don't remember anyone welcoming it and hoping they would be touched.'  By all accounts, McCarrick's behavior () - with adult seminarians, if not with minors - seems to have been widely known at the top of the church hierarchy, even as McCarrrick continued to progress in the ranks ().  In 1994, one of the priests who would later receive a settlement, wrote to Edward Hughes, then bishop of Metuchen, McCarrick's old post, recounting () McCarrick's earlier abuse.  That unnamed priest, who then also faced accusations of abusing teenagers, was given therapy () and transferred ().  No action against McCarrick appears to have been taken.  That same year, the Times reports, another religious brother, Robert Hoatson, expressed concerns to an unnamed official in the diocese of Newark about rumors () he had heard about McCarrick's behavior with seminarians.  At that point, McCarrick was archbishop.  According to Hoatson, the official appeared to confirm () the rumors' veracity (), saying 'Oh no, that ended'.  He claimed McCarrick had ceased his abusive behavior after being asked by Bishop James McHugh, an auxiliary bishop () at the time, and by the papal nuncio (Vatican officials who function like an ambassador).  On several occasions, priests and Catholic laypersons contacted the Vatican directly to express their concerns about McCarrick's behavior with his seminarians.  In 2000, before McCarrick's promotion to the Archdiocese of Washington, a concerned bishop, Father Boniface Ramsey contacted the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, directly. 

"He said he received no reply to his letter.  Again, no direct action was taken against McCarrick.  A number of journalists (), including the American Conservative's Rod Dreher and GetReligion's Julia Duin, say they have written about attempting to report on McCarrick's behavior in the early 2000s, only to run up against a series of obstacles ().  Dreher told Vox  about another effort by prominent Catholic leaders to alert () the church to McCarrick's behavior in advance () of his nomination () to the Diocese of Washington.  As Dreher told me in an email, two well-known Catholic laymen () had gone to Rome in 2000 to warn the Vatican directly about McCarrick's treatment of seminarians and young priests.  'I phoned the first of the two men.  He confirmed that he had been on this trip, but wouldn't talk about it,' Dreher, who was writing for the New York Post at the time, told Vox.  'When I called the second he said - referencing a story in the Biblical book of Genesis - If that were true, I wouldn't tell you for the same reason Noah's sons covered their father in his drunkenness.  In other words, he believed that loyalty to the institution () required him to cover up () for McCarrick.'  Julia Duin has written publicly about what she saw as the persistent threat () of lawsuit from the Church, which rendered () some of her editors at the Washington Times excessively cautious () in encouraging her to go after the story.  In his conversation with Vox, Dreher also highlighted () what he believed to be a reluctance () on the part of newspapers he worked for to pursue stories about McCarrick.  He believes that some of this reluctance was due to 'fear of giving aid and comfort to anti-gay bigots ()' by appearing to criticize behavior that, at that time, might have been perceived as consensual () since it was between two adults.  But perhaps the biggest obstacle to bringing McCarrick's actions was the reticence () of victims themselves to come forward or go on the record () - a point both Duin and Dreher raised. 

"According to Father James Martin, SJ (), an author and Jesuit priest (), one of the most difficult parts about seeking accountability for McCarrick's acts with adults is that these seminarians and young priests remain professionally, spiritually and financially beholden () to the Catholic Church, which may make them reluctant () to come forward, even while the wider () Catholic child sex abuse scandals rocked the church ().  'In the corporate world,' Martin told Vox, 'let's say the harassment happened ten years ago - the person's in another company now, right?  Well, if you're still a priest, you're still in the archdiocese, for example.  You're afraid to come out against someone who is so powerful.  You wonder what's going to happen.  Will you be labeled as a complainer (), a storyteller ().  So I think that's very difficult for people.'  Only after the revelations that McCarrick had allegedly abused the 16-year-old became public did McCarrick's adult accusers () go public.  According to Martin, multiple factors contributed to McCarrick's ability to operate with impunity () for so long.  For starters, there was the unwillingness of any of his alleged victims -minor or adult - to go directly on the record out of fear () of losing their jobs and careers.  In addition, he says, within church culture (), McCarrick's alleged harassment - especially because it was of adults - was not necessarily seen as meriting () immediate punishment.  As Martin puts it, 'This was often seen as a moral problem, right?  Not a sickness or a crime.  And so there was this, you know, sort of misplaced emphasis on forgiveness.' (Vox, July 29, 2018)."  If he blasphemed the Spirit, he will not be forgiven. 

Federal prosecutors () investigated alleged () sexual abuse by Catholic priests in churches in Pennsylvania, October 2018.  This now brings the federal government into church affairs ().  The result was a grand jury report.  "For decades, law enforcement has been reluctant () to confront () the church because it has been so politically powerful.  The federal government's involvement now represents a real breakthrough ().  We've always felt like this is what needed to happen.  People need to understand, the peril (serious and immediate danger) is real (Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson)."  And David Hickton, former chief federal prosecutor for western Pennsylvania added: "If they (church officials) had treated the priests as men who made mistakes, and made them account (forcing them to admit they made a blunder [a gross error]) for their mistakes instead of using the power of the institution (a situation where authority [the right to give orders, make decisions and enforce obedience] has been socially approved and accepted as legitimate) and their fear about the brand (an emotional response to the presence or anticipation of a danger or threat as relating to the intangible sum of a product's attributes) to secret their abuse (clandestine abuse is sexual, psychological or physical abuse that is concealed or kept underhanded; a victim of child sexual abuse is under a great deal of pressure to keep the abuse secret), we wouldn't be here today."  "Sadly, this never seems to end.  I'm sure the church has been protecting the bad actors () for years but the media pressure, the investigative reporters and the police haven't backed off ( - @HomeTownGloryFs).".  back to top

Religious trauma syndrome.  "'I'm really struggling and am desperate never to go back to the religion I was raised in, but I no longer want to live in fear or depression.  It seems that I am walking through the jungle alone with my machete (a large, heavy knife) - no one to share my crazy and sometimes scary thoughts with...I am in utter turmoil.'  These comments are not unusual for people suffering with Religious Trauma Syndrome, or RTS.  My own awareness of this problem took some time.  It began with writing about my own recovery from a fundamentalist Christian background, and very quickly, I found out I was not alone.  Many other people were eager to discuss this hidden suffering.  But mind control and emotional abuse is actually the norm (standards of proper or acceptable behavior) for many large, authoritarian, mainline religious groups.  The sanitization (to make something more acceptable by taking things that are unpleasant out of it) of religion makes it all the more insidious (causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed).  When the communities are so large and the practices normalized, victims are silencedReligious Trauma Syndrome is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an authoritarian, dogmatic religion and coping with the damage of indoctrination.  These comments from people going through it may be the best way to convey the intensity of RTS.  'From nothing - into nothing; reality is harsh.  Plus, I'm pissed (very angry or annoyed at someone) that I was so brainwashed (an indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic beliefs and accept contrasting regimented ideas) for so long...it's like having your entire world turned upside down, no, destroyed.'  'There is a lot of guilt and I react to most religion with panic attacks (an episode of intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset) and distress - even photos, statues or TV...I guess although I was willing - it was like brainwashing.'  'My attempts to think outside the Christian box are like the attempts of a convict to escape Alcatraz prison - tunnel through hundreds of feet of stone and concrete, outsmart gun-carrying guards, only to maybe make it to the choppy freezing cold and water and a deadly swim to safety.' (marlenewinell.net)"  Walter Bowart wrote this: "Over and over I heard the phrase, 'They didn't mess with my mind; they messed with my soul.'  I've begun to think in spiritual terms of what has gone on here.  This is a horrible thing.  [It is] just like the Inquisition (an organization within the church which was responsible for finding and punishing people whom did not accept its beliefs), but more sophisticated and less visible.  There's no blood on the streets, but that makes it even more insidious."  Utter turmoil can come from this: "Of all the beings of this world, only a select few can obtain the ability to control - whether they must do it physically, psychologically, or verbally.  It may not be an easy task, but one cannot ignore their power.  They were given it for a reason (www.quotev.com)."

"Mind control - also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform - refers to a process in which a group or individual 'systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment (something that will cause damage to someone) of the person being manipulated (to control by unfair means so as to serve one's purpose)'.  The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting (secretly trying to ruin or destroy) an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.  Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed in systematically indoctrinating (to teach to fully accept ideas, opinions and beliefs of an organization and to not consider other ideas) prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques.  These theories were later expanded and modified, by psychologists including Margaret Singer, to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs).  A third-generation theory proposed by Ben Zablocki focused on the utilization of mind control to retain members of NRMs and cults, to convert them to a new religion.  The suggestion that NRMs use mind control techniques has resulted in scientific and legal controversy (strong disagreement among a large group of people - Wikipedia)."  Eve Lorgen did an article named "Religiosity Programming" on May 27, 2001.  "I know for a fact, that certain types of mind control programming are used to silence the victim, and maintain a shame based core."  Dr. James Noblitt, a professor of psychology, listed some mind control programming methods utilized (use for a certain purpose) against individuals, three of which are these - shaming, humiliation and belittlement.  "Does the Church of Satan involve summoning (to order to come to a place) demons. Yes.  For instance, here are some of the words of an important invocation (the act of asking for help from a spiritual entity) - 'I command the forces of darkness to bestow their infernal (condemnation or displeasure) power.' (Fritz Springmeier)"  

"Religion has the power to manipulate humans to believe unrealistic (inappropriate to reality or fact) doctrine and engage in destructive behavior (www.jwfacts.com)."  Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D., wrote this March 4, 2004.  "Spiritual abuse [can] cause [a] victim to feel harassed, and controlled internally by spirits or demons.  Ritual abuse survivors, by and large, believe in the presence and power of spiritual evil forces.  They may be devout (expressing devotion or piety) in their spiritual beliefs and practices."  Mind control got a push with the Nazis.  "Ever since World War II when the United States Government's Project Paperclip sponsored the resettlement of about 2000 high-level Nazis in the United States, the technology of mind-control programming. has advanced rapidly.  'The Germans under the Nazi government began to do serious scientific research into trauma-based mind control,' write Fritz Springmeier and Cisco Wheeler in their book, The Illuminati Formula.  'Under the auspices (kindly patronage and guidance) of the Kaiser Wilhelm Medical Institute in Berlin, Josef Mengele conducted mind control research on thousands of twins and thousands of other hapless victims.'  Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, was one of the approximately 900 military scientists and medical researchers secretly exfiltrated (to escape from a hostile area) into the United States, where he continued his 'research' and trained others in the black arts of mind control.  This work in behavior manipulation was later incorporated into the CIA's projects Bluebird and Artichoke which, in 1953, became the notorious (not respectable) MKULTRA."  According to The Skeptic's Dictionary: "Mind control is the successful control of the thoughts and actions of another without his or her consent.  Generally, the term implies that the victim has given up some basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes, and has been made to accept contrasting ideas.  Many believe that a terrorist kidnap victim who converts to or becomes sympathetic to her kidnapper's ideology is a victim of mind control - the so-called Stockholm syndrome.  Similarly, a woman who stays with an abusive man is often seen as a victim of mind control."  Within organized religion, this type of thing may cause religious trauma.

"In anyone's sincere quest for truth, they will undoubtedly come up against the area of deliberate trauma-based mind control.  At first it may seem like 'conspiracy (secret activity) theory on steroids (very large or impressive)', but as you investigate (to observe or study by close examination) this subject further it becomes a dark, stark (austere, dour, fierce, forbidding) reality that cannot be shaken (www.sott.net)."  Religious trauma can come from satanic abuse in a church.  "Suicides are relatively (somewhat) common among individuals recovering memory of SRA (satanic ritual abuse) and of [mind control] programming (to make a person behave in a particular way - www.religioustolerance.org)."  People may become puppets (one that is or can be used to further the purposes of another - chump, dupe).  "There have been some concerns that I have when it comes to mind control and how various organizations make use of certain techniques (a method of accomplishing a desired aim) just to make a human being become obedient to the point of being a puppet.  The path led to some information that is graphic (producing a mental picture) compared to the techniques used by cults (a group of people showing intense devotion to a cause) to control their membersOnce again I have come across the Illuminati  who are the masters of what is called trauma based mind control (truegeorge.com)."  Some may think that "Satanists infiltrate (to enter or become established in gradually or unobtrusively usually for subversive purposes) the highest church positions (www.energyenhancement.org)."  "Those involved in a totalistic (totalitarianism) Bible-based cult become enmeshed (to catch or entangle) in the government (administration, authority, regime) of that organization.  Totalistic groups use varied forms of though reform, manipulation, coercion (compulsion, constraint, arm-twisting), deception, peer pressure, guilt, fear, phobias (exaggerated and often disabling fears) and threat tactics which lead members to non-questioning.  Ministers distort (to twist out of the true meaning or proportion) the Bible - heavily using the Old Testament Law - to enhance (improve, enrich, upgrade) their control on the unsuspecting (lacking in informed judgment) and vulnerable (being in a situation where one is likely to meet with harm - www.exitsupportnetwork.com)."

In Advanced Secret Mind Control, written in 2014 by William Horton, PsyD, CAC, he goes into the "how to" of undue influence (improper influence that deprives a person of freedom of choice), and how to manipulate (to control or take advantage of by artful, unfair or insidious means) the minds of the ignorant.  He suggests that an individual "come with me on a journey into a very different world -  the world of conversational (dialogue, discourse or discussion) hypnosis (the art or act of inducing in a person a sleeplike state during which he or she readily follows suggestions) and neuro-linguistic (the relationship between the human nervous system and language) programming.  They both involve communication with a person's unconscious mind (a part of mental life that is not ordinarily integrated or available to consciousness yet may be manifested as a motive force in overt - not secret or hidden - behavior), as does traditional hypnosis.  The difference, however, is that the communication with the target's unconscious is achieved without using traditional deep-trance hypnotic states.  In fact, it can be executed during the course of normal daily conversation.  Your communication skills will greatly improve and become much more effective in terms of exercising influence and getting people to do what you want them to do."  So, in a church that is having problems, if you would, with occultism, paganism and/or bisexuality - if you talk to church members, they will tell you things like this.  "Everything's fine in our church."  Or, "The Spirit really moved (to flow - to move in a steady or continuous way - with their God) last Sunday."  Or, "The anointing (the expression of sanctifying influences - the act of making something pure through religious ritual - upon Christians who are priests and kings before their God) is so strong in our assembly (a body of people come together in one place)."  Or, "We have a vibrant (marked by much life, movement or activity) church."  Or, "We haven't had any serious problems, as of late."  This, even though there is ample (plenty) evidence of one or more or these issues occurring within a local church.  And these people absolutely believe it, for when trauma-based mind control is in use, no matter what is really happening in their midst (a position among members of a group), they are convinced that there is nothing wrong.  Those who have been victimized (singled out for cruel or unjust treatment), within their midst, are totally (utterly, unconditionally and altogether) forgotten and ignored.  These targets (persons selected as "experiments" - for abuse or misuse) may now finally talk about the unspeakable (hideous, atrocious or odious) acts (behavior in certain ways) they have borne (suffered) so long in silence.  And tell how, often, powerful men sought (attempted or desired) to hide their misdeeds (wicked or immoral actions), or how institutions sought to protect their reputations (respect or admiration they receive).   back to top

Touch not the Lord's anointed.  "It is common for the [evangelical] 'word-faith' teachers to warn 'touch not the Lord's anointed', meaning one cannot criticize or question in any way (Clete Hux)."  "I've also seen it (Psalm 105:15 - 'Do not touch my anointed ones and do my prophets no harm') invoked when someone simply disagrees with his or her pastor, as someone in the church tries to manipulate or intimidate the 'dissident' (disagreeing with the established religious system) into silence by using Psalm 105:15 out of context (Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology, Brannon Howse)."  "This phrase, 'touch not my anointed' is used by some pastors today to say that no one should criticize anything they say or do, or God will make that person pay for it (Steve Shirley)."  "From time immemorial (very old or ancient) the 'priestly class' has attempted to exploit the fears of others by suggesting that they are specially (for a special purpose) chosen by God as authorities.  We see evidence of this throughout history - beginning with ancient Babylon and permutating (re-arrangement of certain elements) throughout the plethora (abundance) of major world religions extant (in existence) today.  In Protestant Christianity, and in particular the so-called 'charismatic movement', there is often a lack of a well-defined hierarchy (i.e. 'priestly class'), but the mantra (a phrase repeated often) 'touch not the Lord's anointed' is something quoted by self-styled leaders as a means of maintaining control over the members of the assembly (John J. Parsons)."  "Clever 'one liners' and biblical phrases lifted out of context are heard on every hand today.  'Touch not the Lord's anointed' - time and again we hear this cry parroted (to repeat, without understanding the meaning) as a counter to those who attempt to alert the unsuspecting to the dangerous, unbiblical teachings of a particular ministry (Dennis Costella)."  "For those of you who are not acquainted with the statement 'touch not the Lord's anointed', allow me to explain.  It is cherry-picked, twisted and misused by a minority of misguided Christian leaders to discourage people questioning their teachings, morality or level of accountability.  When bent into a human agenda, this scripture becomes a doctrine of its own, and one that I would call 'the doctrine of immunity' (Sarah's Collage [collection of different things])."  "If there has been a phrase in the Bible that has been recently tortured until it confesses a lie, it is the phrase, 'touch not the Lord's anointed'.  I hear it a lot in Christian conversation today.  Usually the phrase is meant to caution anyone who is criticizing the questionable teaching or way of life of a famous preacher or church leader.  That is meant to be a no-go area (Conrad Mbewe)."

"So there it is, the infamous passage 'touch not my anointed ones'.  It's a favorite passage of authoritarian abusers throughout the church, a sort of "Get Our of Criticism Free' card for preachers.  Because, you know, obviously what the Psalmist had in mind, when he talked about sojourners (temporary residents) of little account (few funds, not well known) wandering from nation to nation, is wealthy American preachers who don't want anyone looking too closely into their doctrine, their family lives, or their tax returns (Tom Chantry)."  "One of the first lines of defense for a preacher or leader under fire from the congregation is [the psalmist] David's famous statement, 'Touch not the Lord's anointed'.  This is used to prove that the preacher or leader, assumed to be 'the Lord's anointed', is beyond criticism, rebuke or human control (wickedshepherds.com)."  "The way it's quoted is usually in the form of 'touch not the Lord's anointed'.  Leaders regularly abuse this passage.  After all, once the verse in applied in this way, it gives leaders a free pass to be entirely unaccountable to the people they're meant to lead (K.W. Leslie, March 27, 2013)."  "Once in my early years in the institution called 'the church', I approached a minister regarding something questionable that he had previously shared with the local assembly.  He obviously perceived this to be a challenge to his authority, and feeling that was above such inquiry, he hastened to preface that conversation with these words, 'Are you about to touch God's anointed?' (George Davis)"  "Chances are you've heard this weird doctrine based on I Chronicles 16:22.  In an attempt to discourage any form of disagreement in the church, insecure leaders tell their members that if they ever question church authority, they are 'touching the Lord's anointed' and in danger of God's judgment (J. Lee Grady)."  "When Christian author Rachel Held Evans died unexpectedly last week from brain swelling (), the widespread outpouring of grief () was a testament () to the reach of her words ().  Her ire () was often aimed at the religious aristocracy () and political powerbrokers () whom she perceived () to be agents of injustice () and marginalization ().  In a time of resurgent bigotry () and hatred during which many Christians seem content to side with the oppressors () over the oppressed, we need Rachel Held Evans more than ever.  But she is gone, never to return (Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic)."  She was found guilty of touching the Lord's anointed, and punished.  back to top 

Trust.  It is better to put trust (belief that an entity is reliable, good, honest or effective) in the spirit of the God of the universe.  "The Unseen is my shepherd (a watch or a guide), I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul.  He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (deep distress - darkness or gloom like that caused by the presence or impending of death), I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod (a club approximately 1 meter [3 feet] long, used to beat wolves away from the herd) and your staff (about 1.5 meters [4.5 feet] long, used for walking, resting or guiding sheep), they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint (smear or rub over) my head with oil; my cup overflows (flows over the brim of a receptacle).  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Unseen forever (Psalm 23)."  The National Constitutional Center did a poll on "What public institutions do you trust?"  The military: 42%.  Small business: 39%.  Scientific community: 30%.  Organized religion: 18%.  The church can satirize (mock, ridicule, deride) the concept of building a big iron cross with: "It's ahead of its time."  While the funds to do it may be available now, they may not be available then.  The attitude contributes to this - 44% told a 2011 Baylor University religion survey they spend no time seeking eternal wisdom; 19% said: "It's useless to search for meaning."  46% told a 2011 survey of LifeWay Research they never wonder whether they will go to heaven; 28% said: "It's not a major priority in my life to find a deeper purpose."  Some church people in the United States will pursue Bible codes, like finding the name Hitler spelled out in the Book.  Or, confessing material things into existence.  Or, railroading (punishing based on lies) the unwanted (nobody wants them) out of a church.  This while their Christian brethren are beheaded in North Africa.  To regain some form of decency (polite, moral and honest behavior), the church will have to come out of its psychic dreamworld (a world of illusion).  Oliver Thomas put it this way: "In a single generation, [American] clergy have gone from being some of our most revered (to have great respect for) community leaders to some of our most reviled (to speak about in a very critical way - Marshfield News Herald, February 10, 2014)."  back to top

What is to come.  An international monument may symbolize a return of this Entity (something that exists separately from other things, having its own independent existence): "...when I turned I saw seven gold sconces (candleholders) and near them a figure (a person's bodily shape)...dressed in a robe with a gold belt tied at the waist.  His head and His hair were as white as snow.  His eyes burned like a flame.  His feet were like brass in a furnace, and His voice was as the sound of an ocean (from Revelation)."  The site (a space of ground occupied by a structure) could possibly be thought of as a handwriting on the wall (a premonition [foreboding], portent [forewarning] or clear indication).  Within four hundred years a return might take place.  Four hundred years might seem like a long time, but as any evolutionist will tell you, Man has been in existence for millions of years, so this is a relatively (to a certain degree, especially when compared to other things) short period.  Some shun the grapes of wrath while pursuing the $buck$ in their everyday lives: "Paradise opened and behold (to see something) a horse, and He who sat on it had eyes as a flame of fire.  He wore clothes that were soaked (become saturated [make completely wet]) with blood...and He treads (crushes or squashes [to squeeze with force]), through the use of a torchio (a machine for the trampling [forcibly walking right over] of the grapes in a pit where the wine is made), the wrath of Almighty God.  There was an angel standing near the sun, who cried out (made a loud noise) to all the birds flying through the air - 'Gather for the great banquet (an elaborate and formal meal) of God.  Eat the flesh (carnivorous [an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue] meat-eating) of kings (political leaders), and of generals, and of warriors (special forces persons).' (paraphrase from Revelation)"  This reminds one of an Alfred Hitchcock film - The Birds.  Did the observer (a person who sees something) see an actual horse and a torchio, or was it symbolic (expressing an idea or quality).  We don't know.  Although Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, commented: "We believe a previously dead man is going to arrive in the sky on a horse."  We do know that we have nuclear arsenals (a collection of weapons) capable of fulfilling this scripture to the letter.  In other words, organized religion could possibly become immersed (involving onself deeply in a particular activity) in a concept of what is to come.  Until it does this will continue: "When it comes to religion, the U.S.A. is now a land of freelancers (people who act independently without being affiliated with any organization).  The percentage of people who call themselves some type of 'Christian' has dropped more than 11% in a generation.  The faithful have scattered out of their traditional basis - the Bible Belt is less Baptist.  The Rust Belt is less Catholic.  And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers - or falling off the faith map completely (U.S.A. Today, March 9, 2009)."

The ever powerful One in battle causing an affliction that tries one's patience isn't something to talk about.  Isn't a lecture (a discourse given before an audience) concerning the End of Days, in Revelation, a grisly (causing horror or disgust) tale (a narrative or story)?  And, are people really fascinated (commanding an interest of) about one third of the planet being annihilated (to destroy completely), or men gnawing (to bite repeatedly) their tongues for pain.  The few people who could become enthralled (capturing the fascinated attention of) about those things are sadists (people who are cruel to others) and masochists (people cruel to themselves).  As Matthew puts it: "For then shall be great tribulation (unhappiness, pain or suffering) such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."  Yet this is what it is.  A sample (representative part) occurred when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, seventy-three years ago, killing 210,000 people.  During the week following the bombings, thousands of survivors experienced a unique combination of symptoms (evidence of disease).  Susan Southard wrote an article on August 7, 2015, in the Los Angeles Times.  "Their hair fell out in large clumps (clustered mass of particles), their wounds secreted (produced and released a liquid) extreme amounts of pus (a thick, opaque, usually yellowish-white, fluid matter), and their gums (the tissue that surround the necks of the teeth) swelled and bled.  Purple spots appeared on their bodies, signs of hemorrhaging (an escape of blood from a ruptured blood vessel) beneath the skin.  Infections ravaged (causing severe and extensive damage to) their internal organs.  Within a few days of the onset (beginning of something) of symptoms, many people lost consciousness, mumbled deliriously (unable to think or speak clearly) and died in extreme pain - others languished (lose strength or animation - to be or become dull, feeble or spiritless) for weeks before either dying or slowly recovering."  Jesus is speaking in Matthew of a possible nuclear winter.  What is to come concerns a new heaven, and a new earth.  What exactly this means may be unexplainable (unable to make plain or clear).  There is talk of a New Jerusalem, but this can cause confusion (lack of understanding).  We do know that the new system will be a improvement over the old, this present world.  "And he showed me a pure river of water, clear as crystal (quartz [a colorless mineral] that is transparent), proceeding out of the throne of God...and on either side of the river was a tree of life...and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (from Revelation)."

How does this relate (show or make a connection) to the 21st century?  "Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist.  He developed the theory of relativity (all motion must be defined relative to a frame of reference and that space and time are relative, rather than absolute concepts).  Einstein is best known in popular culture for his mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2.  He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and, being Jewish, did not not go back to Germany.  On the eve of World War II, he endorsed (to officially say you support something) a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of 'extremely powerful bombs of a new type' and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research.  Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto (a written statement describing an opinion), which highlighted (pick out and emphasize) the danger of nuclear weapons (Wikipedia)."  He said this: "I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."  Fidel Castro was the late dictator of Cuba.  He said this, in October 2010.  "In a nuclear war the 'collateral damage' (a general term for deaths, injuries, or other damage inflicted on an unintended target) would be the life of all humanity."  This refers to a nuclear winter.  Carl Sagan wrote a book in 1983 by that name, Nuclear Winter.  "In a 2 megaton explosion over a fairly large city, buildings would be vaporized (convert from a solid into a vapor - a substance that is in the form of a gas), people reduced to atoms and shadows (very small amounts of something), outlying (remote from a center) structures blown down like matchsticks (slender pieces of wood) and raging fires ignited.  And if the bomb were exploded on the ground, an enormous crater (a large, bowl-shaped cavity in the ground), like those that can be seen through a telescope on the surface of the moon, would be all that remained where midtown (a central section of a city) once had been."  The Russians, on October 30, 1961, detonated (explode with suddenness and violence) the largest nuclear bomb.  "A 50 megaton hydrogen bomb was detonated by [the] Russians - called Tsar Bomba or Mother of all Bombs.  The blast radius (the distance from the source that will be affected when an explosion occurs) of Tsar Bomba is so large that [the] entire [city of] Paris would have been 'totally destroyed' (www.quora.com)."  This was fifty-seven years ago.  And in 2017: "The president (Donald Trump) has plenty of nuclear weapons to back up his aggressive rhetoric (undue use of exaggeration [overstate]) - more than 4000 in the active U.S. stockpile (a reserve supply of something essential), when a mere (to say that something is small) handful could obliterate (destroy utterly) North Korea at the cost of millions of lives.  Indeed, a few hundred hundred nuclear warheads (a missile designed to deliver an atomic bomb) could do the same for even the largest of nations.  Those 4000, if ever used, could essentially (relating to the most important characteristics) destroy the planet (Mother Jones, November 18, 2017)." Armageddon simply means nuclear winter.  back to top 

Horror stories of abuse.  Jesus lectured (a talk or speech given to a group) on paradise at death.  "The poor, it seems, would enjoy positive discrimination (treating a group differently than others) while the rich would have work doubly hard to earn their passage (the act of moving from one place to another).  Heaven's standards would not be, he was saying, the same as earth's.  Taken together, the two passages (concerning Lazarus and the widow) debunked (to show that something is not true) another long-standing concept - that only a select few could attain heaven.  Lazarus was there, along with the oft-married widow and her various spouses.  At His crucifixion, Jesus also promised the thief who died next to Him: 'Today you will be with me in paradise.' (Luke 25:43).  Clearly this would be no exclusive (available to only one group) club for the great and good with lesser mortals (human beings) blackballed (to exclude socially) - quite the opposite in fact (Heaven, Peter Stanford)."  It is not who we think that will enter the "pearly gates".  Fair use allows non-profits to use a limited amount of material from a printed work.  The following are quotes from Setting the Captives Free, by Austin Miles.  A letter from a former Assembly of God member.  "I was raised A.G. (Assembly of God).  My mom was converted shortly after she married my dad, whose father was an A.G. pastor for years - he saved souls on Sunday and verbally and physically abused his wife and seven children the rest of the week, all who are dysfunctional to this day."  She and her husband left the Assembly of God, but came back.  "At the end of three years we went back to the Assemblies of God, and sat in a very large church for two years, before the pastor admitted to adultery and left the church October 1983."  They left for good.  "We haven't been to church since January '88, and haven't missed it."  A comment by the author.  "The evil connected with the Assemblies of God is not confined to mind control."  A former acquaintance, referring to Televangelist Jim Bakker (A.O.G.).  "However, the abuse of his power over the vulnerable is something for which there is no excuse."  Two divorcees wanting to marry in church.  "We were attending a large Southern Baptist church and wanted to get married there, but the pastor refused on account of our divorces."

An ex-minister and Marine Corps veteran.  "The corruption which you saw in the Assemblies of God, PTL and elsewhere is historically cyclical (occurring in cycles).  For some reason, Pentecostal churches tend to draw unstable people and raise up unstable ministers.  It is as if the message of the Man of Galilee is not enough.  Hence, He is put aside, and a new gospel comes forth putting the individual before God and in some cases psychologically enslaving them to a power broker minister."  A second comment by the author.  "The god of cult Christianity is a home-wrecking, closet psychopath."  A Christian woman.  "I was brought into a Christian church by a so-called Christian lady.  While I received Jesus Christ into my heart, she left the service to go sleep with my husband."  A frustrated pastor.  "There are thousands out there who are literally trapped in an evangelical cult."  A third comment by the author.  "The very history [of Christianity] is written with blood and destruction.  One of the darkest times in the history of civilization was the period of the Inquisition, when Catholic priests used torture to punish and force suspected heretics to submit to church doctrine.  During that time, a bishop wrote to the Pope: 'We're so pious in our village that even if we suspect someone is a heretic, we burn them at the stake.'"  And, at an evangelical church community in Spindale, North Carolina.  "As a court-appointed advocate (a person who argues for or supports a cause) for two foster boys, it was Nancy Burnette's to ensure they were in good hands.  So as part of her casework (social work directly concerned with individuals), she visited Word of Faith Fellowship, the evangelical church they (the boys) attended with the couple seeking to adopt them.  What happened next haunts (to cause repeated suffering or anxiety) her.  In the middle of the service, the chanting (singing religious prayers, repeated over and over again) and singing suddenly stopped, Burnette said, and the fiery (ardent, fervent and spirited-nature) pastor pointed at Burnette, accusing her of being 'wicked' [and] 'You are here to cause strife' - [as] she recalled Jane Whaley shouting. 

"The AP (Associated Press) interviewed a dozen former congregants (members of a church) who said they had personally witnessed the three [other foster] children living with the clerk (a longtime Word of Faith Fellowship member who was a county court clerk) being subjected (one who is placed under authority or control) to intense screaming sessions called blasting (to shame somebody badly in front of a group of three or more people) aimed at casting out demons, or being held down, shaken or beaten.  Now, the AP has uncovered numerous instances in which Word of Faith leaders turned children against their parents, with the children then taken in or adopted by other church families.  'I felt my son was being brainwashed,' [Keela] Blanton told a judge during an emergency custody hearing.  'In retrospect (a review of a past course of events) I regret I didn't do more to protect him (a foster child).  But at the time, I was afraid.  I believed that if you defied (openly resist or refuse to obey) Jane (Pastor Jane Whaley), you would become a target (a person selected as the aim of an attack) and you would go to hell,' [Tim] Cornelius (former church member) said.  When he was thirteen, Brent Johnston said, Jane Whaley ripped his family apart (to destroy completely).  She decreed (an official order given by a person in power) that he should be taken from his mother and live instead with Bill and Jennifer Creason, a church couple with no children of their own.  Johnson grew up in Word of Faith.  Over the years, his mother had struggled with personal problems and the church's strict ways, breaking with the sect (a religious group) at times, only to return when she ran out of options (things that are, or may be, chosen).  After Johnston and his younger brother went to live with the Cressons in 2008, his mother left the church for good and Whaley told him she had 'turned my mom over to Satan,' he recalled (www.msn.com, November 13, 2017)."  back to top

I Corinthians 5:5.  There are times when the church wreaks havoc in the lives of the unsuspecting (naive and trusting).  Usually, a person can tell when they are up to something, as they will tell you, "Forgive (to cease to have feelings of anger toward someone), or your sins ( the breaking of a moral code) won't be forgiven."  One incendiary (exciting factions or quarrels) method is contained within the I Corinthians 5:5 doctrine.  "In this case, handing someone over to Satan is like giving them a 'death sentence'.  Some have used this idea as a way to justify destroying the lives of people.  If someone speaks against our doctrinal statement, some have believed this gives us the right to 'burn them at the stake' [so to speak] (Jeremy Myers)."  "It has been said that the verse is a literal curse, formulated using stereotypical (concept, generality, notion) ancient vocabulary, with which curses were pronounced - e.g. 'I am giving you over to dark chaos in utter destruction' (koine scholar)."  Forgiveness is a cover used by the church to protect themselves after using a "punishment" scripture such as I Corinthians 5:5, which actually refers to incest (sex between family members) within a church.  The scripture is now used against those who are fed up with being abused by a church leader.  This comes from a church policy that "abusers should be able to repeatedly cause pain for others, while smugly (showing an annoying quality of feeling very pleased or satisfied with abilities, achievements, etc.) claiming that God forgives them and their victims have to forgive them as well.  Abuse is intentional, deliberate, ongoing, and often planned out in detail and in advance.  It is also repetitive in nature, and the abuser keeps doing it because it works for him (Sister Renee)."  A purpose of I Corinthians 5:5, in this present day, is entertainment.  This comes from a destroy to save mentality (a particular way of thinking), invoking Satan, Baphomet if you will.  "'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major (military leader) said today.  He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties."  This was written on February 7, 1968, during the Vietnam War by AP correspondent Peter Arnett, concerning the city of Ben Tre.

"One of the marks of the highly popular style of St. Paul's missionary methods is that in many passages of his letter we find St. Paul employing a usage particularly familiar and intelligible to popular feeling - I mean the technical phraseology and the cadence (rhythm) of the language of magic...In the case of the directions to the Corinthian church concerning the punishment of the transgressor who had committed sin with his step-mother, the full meaning does not come out until the passage is read in connection with ancient custom of execration, i.e. devoting a person to the gods of the lower world.  A regular usage was established in the language of these execrations - a usage common to antiquity.  The only difference between Jewish and pagan execrations probably lay in the fact that Satan took the place of the gods of the lower world.  In form, however, there must have been great similarities.  This is seen in the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: 'Gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus, you and my spirit, and in the fellowship with the power of the Lord Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.'  Two expressions are here adopted from the ritual of cursing.  The phrase 'deliver to Satan that...' recurring in I Timothy 1:20, corresponds to the formula in the London Magical Papyrus 46: 'Deamon of the dead...I deliver unto thee (such a man), in order that...'  We find it not only in the Paris Magical Papyrus, but also on a much older Attic cursing tablet of lead (3rd century B.C.): 'I bind her...in fellowship with Hecate (a Greek goddess of the underworld), who is below the earth, and the Erinyes (fury).'  All this proves therefore that the apostle advises the Corinthian church to perform a solemn act of execration (Light from the Ancient East, A. Deissmann)."  "In brief, we have in this chapter a case of the ecclesiastical discipline that is apparently carried out in a completely undemocratic, highly authoritarian manner by the Apostle Paul.  It involves a ritual curse for the physical destruction of the guilty (A Curse for Salvation - I Corinthians 5:5, Ivan Havener)."  "According to this understanding of the text, delivering the man to Satan meant putting him outside the sphere of God's protection within the church and leaving him exposed to satanic forces of evil (Disciplinary Practices in Pauline Texts, J.T. Smith)." 

"We will pay particular attention to the idea of handing over a person to, for example, a demon within the context of 'cursing'.  In so doing, we will demonstrate the existence of a cross-cultural understanding of 'cursing' in the ancient world, in which a common language existed (Hand This Man Over to Satan, David R. Smith)."  "[There are] literal binding verbs and verbs with technical or legal connotations that either 'register' the victims before an imagined underworld tribunal or those that simply 'consign' the victims to the control of the chthonic (of or relating to the underworld) deities (The Agonistic [relating to the athletic contests of ancient Greece] Context of Early Greek Binding Spells, C.A. Faraone)."  "The verbs of binding - to register and consign, hand over or transfer - are common in texts of this sort.  The affairs of the target are placed under the temporary control of the deities invoked so that the desired result may follow (Curse Tablets and Binding Spell from the Ancient World, J.G. Gager)."  The Apostle Paul not only relied on the ritual cursing of his day, similar perhaps to the occultists of today, but also on Old Testament methods of retribution (punishment for doing something wrong).  "When Paul regulates conduct in the churches he is dependent on the scriptures in general and on Deuteronomy in particular.  In the specific case of I Corinthians 5-7 at a remarkable number of points there are evident links with Deuteronomy (Paul, Scripture and Ethics: A Study of I Corinthians 5-7, E.J. Brill)."  Some American Protestant churches may serve, if not cautious, a father of lies.  This may result in billboards (large signs for advertisements that are next to a road) in cities of Tennessee and Arkansas showing a mischievous-looking young girl writing a letter to Father Christmas: "Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip church!"  If church people want to play their games, they may end with the lord of the flies.  They tell their target (a person selected as the aim of an attack) - "You should have got out before you got hurt."  "I know this isn't what you want to hear, but you just need to forgive."  "Children will be children, must have been something in your childhood."  "You have nothing, you've been condemned by a court."  "Have you read the Book of Job?"  This does not sound like a situation described by the Apostle Paul, wherein the man in I Corinthians 5:5 was so far gone that he was destined for hell if something radical wasn't done.  Paul basically said, make his life hell, so when he is dead, he gets paradise.  These people in the American Christian church just want some entertainment. 

They will pursue (to follow in order to overtake) a poor farmer, someone who isn't popular in a church, or in general someone having a rough time due to circumstances beyond their control.  The pastor might say something like, "I've never done this before," while his church is falling apart, in a gleeful (exultant high-spirited joy) tone that betrays his determination (to continue to do or achieve something that is difficult) to exterminate (get rid of completely) a target.  The scripture that has degenerated (decayed) into a circus becomes a ritual curse, used by the Greeks, Romans Egyptians and etc.  When they are done trashing someone's life, the person is told: "Have you read the book of Job (in the Bible)?"  Psychic torture may be a result, a slavery that can build a prison for the mind.  This may be preceded by holding a target to a higher standard, and punishing with verbal abuse if that person doesn't measure up, even though others in a church are not held to the same standard.  Project Pitchfork did a song back in 1991 named "Psychic Torture".  "Angels cry from above - they're not reaching me.  Darkness all around me - I'm yearning for the light."  This is a little known form of torture called psychological warfare (aka psychic warfare or harassment).  Spiritual forces can choose to stage an open insurrection (a violent attempt to take control).  Sometimes Satan may attack from an unexpected source.  This is why groups like Baphomet Blood come out with albums entitled Satanic Metal Attack.  There has been a watering down (reduce or temper the force or effectiveness) of Christianity to a point of beginning to accept a mild form of "Satanism".  Certain elements within the Pentecostal Movement practice an invocation which they feel is the most natural method of summoning demons.  After which, they will incessantly (continuing without stopping) torment (extreme mental pain) their victim with demands for forgiveness.  Yet when it comes to them "forgiving", it's not happening.  When the scripture is in context, it may be of help.  When out of context, it becomes a tool of destruction against people the pastor may not like, for his own personal reasons.  He has "no guilt, no reason or shame (Behemoth, 2013)."  When misused, the dogma (belief, tenet, ideology, theology, principle) becomes a pagan (delighting in sensual pleasure and material goods) rape of the poor.  Some of the worst scandals (an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset because of behavior that is morally or ethically wrong) never come out, as a target is silenced using a "forgive" doctrine (a set of beliefs).  Forgive really means, "Sit down and shut up."

"Christianity claims to oppose the force known as 'Satan' and yet there are many themes of satanic ritual within its beliefs and ceremonies.  Some of the most famous church 'leaders' and evangelists on the planet are Illuminati operatives (a person who does secret work) who use religion to manipulate and brainwash their followers while engaging in satanic rituals that beggar (to defy) belief (bibliotecapleyades.net)."  The Illuminati is a secret society formed May 1 (Beltane), 1776 to oppose superstition (belief resulting from ignorance), religious influence on public life, and state power abuse.  Modern conspiracy theory has it that certain world events are being controlled by members of the Illuminati.  Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist: "It stuns me, as much as it did when I started 40 years ago, that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern."  What "psychopath" means may not be quite what you may think.  They can be charming (magnetic, captivating or engaging), but callous (not feeling or showing any concern about the problems or suffering of other people).  "Those afflicted [by the mental illness] can be calculating, cunning and disarming.  Because guilt, shame and remorse (a feeling of being sorry for doing something bad) are absent, the suffering they cause others is meaningless to them.  Some enjoy seeing others in desperate circumstances as it instills (breeds, implants, infuses) an inner sense of superiority.  It is especially hard to get your mind around it, if you are the target.  For [spiritual] kin (family) to want to ruin you is a taboo (not acceptable to talk about) mind twister (bent into a shape that isn't normal), but it happens (Carrie Barron, M.D.)."  They may accuse a person of things they have not done and deliver him or her to the gods of the lower world - an execration (the act of cursing).  When I Corinthians 5:5 is used against someone who is bothering a pastor, it becomes a usage of ancient times, to mess someone up (to cause a person emotional problems).  This has nothing to do with the Apostle Paul's intent (the thing you plan to achieve), but becomes a part of the black arts as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary: "The use of means believed to have supernatural power over natural forces, that is associated with the devil or evil spirits."  Or the church's version - "the operation of spiritual forces invoked" and "the actions of Satan as applied", as quoted from two United States Federal Court briefs (a document that states the facts a lawyer plans to use in a court case).

The scripture is used to scapegoat (a person unfairly blamed for something others have done).  Church persons invoking a curse are the devil's rejects.  "The Ancient Greeks practiced a scapegoating rite in which a cripple or beggar was cast out of the community in response to a natural disaster (Wikipedia)."  The pagan rite has seeped (to enter or penetrate slowly) into the church.  "These people are usually esteemed and influential persons in society whose opinions as pastors or theologians carry a lot of weight.  Their deceptive teachings are very subtle forms of disinformation (false information given to people) that cannot be easily discerned (recognize as separate and distinct) from the truth.  Their supporters [can] have [a] blind and unconditional faith in them (Professor J.S. Malan, University of the North, South Africa)."  This is the exact opposite of what organized religion should be doing.  There is a method (a systematic procedure) to fight this.  "See the cross of the Lord; begone, you hostile powers.  No longer dare, cunning serpent, to deceive the human race.  Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical (extremely evil) legion, we adjure (to urge to do something) you to cease deluding (cause to believe something that is not true) human creatures and filling them with the poison of everlasting damnation (a state of being in hell).  Begone Satan, father and master of lies, enemy of Man's welfare.  Bow down before God's mighty hand.  We humbly entreat (to ask in a serious manner) Thy glorious majesty to deliver us by Thy might from every influence of the accursed (very bad) spirits (The Roman Ritual, 1964)."  The Medal of St. Benedict has this written on the back: "May the Holy Cross be my light.  Let not the dragon be my overlord.  Step back, Satan, do not suggest to me your vanities - evil are the things you proffer (offer to give), drink your own poison."  "The medal [of St. Benedict] is one of the oldest and most honored medals used by Christians and due to the belief in its power against evil is also known as the 'devil-chasing medal' (Wikipedia)." 

St. Benedict, after whom the medal is named, founded the great Benedictine abbey (a church connected to other buildings) of Monte Cassino in 529.  This sits on a hill between Rome and Naples, Italy and was a site of a vicious (very violent) battle in World War II.  The root of the abbey goes back another 500 years.  "Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day; nailed to a cross of wood.  Took the blame, bore the wrath; every bitter thought, every evil deed.  Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath quakes (to shake violently) as its Maker bows his head.  Oh to see my name written in the wound, for through Your suffering I am free.  Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live (The Power of the Cross, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)."  "The Cross is the mighty and profound (all encompassing) symbol of Christianity, a symbol whose meaning is inexhaustible (incapable of being worn out).  In a canon (dogma decreed by a church) composed by Gregory of Sinai - 'O cross.  Be to me the might, the strength and the power.'  The Cross is the most powerful, almighty (intense, explosive, fearsome - having complete power) source of comfort and strength (Professor I.M. Andreyev, March 25, 2014)."  Gregory of Sinai was an Orthodox monk who lived in the early 14th century.  John Chrysostom, an important Church Father who lived in the 4th century, wrote concerning the Sign of the Cross.  "Be not ashamed then of so great a blessing, lest Christ be ashamed of you, when He comes with His glory, and [the world] appears before Him - shining beyond the very sunbeam.  For indeed the cross comes, then uttering a voice [about His] appearance, and pleading with the whole world for our Lord."  So, why then do evangelical ministers toy with demons?  Maybe Prince of Darkness, a 1987 American supernatural cult film, inspires them.  A church may tell you, in so many words or less, when they use this, after bad things occur: "Nothing should have happened to you." 

Wilbur N. Pickering, a Wycliffe Bible translator, wrote: "I went to the Amazon jungle in 1963 in order to begin our ministry among the Apurina people - so far as I know I was the first one to challenge Satan's dominion over this people, a total domination down through the centuries.  My basic purpose in being there was to see if I could remove that people from Satan's house and take them to Jesus' house; if I could transfer them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.  But unfortunately, in spite of a Master of Theology degree and having read the Bible through several times, I was not aware of these truths [about spiritual warfare].  I got clobbered (hit very hard).  I got it without mercy, until I had had enough.  Satan wiped the floor with me."  He referred to the Apurina tribe, consisting of about 2000 to 4000 people scattered over sites (a place where something is located) close to the banks (land alongside a body of water) of the Purus River, in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest.  Evangelicals do not like to lose, so if nothing else will work, they will act as though they have done you a favor.  They think that they are purging (to free from moral impurities) out the dross (something that is base, trivial or inferior) within your life to enable (to make possible) you fulfill some sort of sacred (entitled to reverence and respect) "mission" with their jungle justice.  Whatever it takes to get out from under a fetish (a strong and unusual need or desire) with the satanic.  As one parishioner said to a target after that person pursued redress (something given to someone to make up for damage) - "Every move you make to antagonize (to irritate or upset) or blow it up, you get stopped."  Doesn't sound like an attempt to prepare somebody for ministry.  They may claim they are training you in the art (skill acquired by experience) of spiritual warfare, when in reality they are using I Corinthians 5:5 in its pagan (anti-Christian) form (external appearance).  Just because it is written does not mean it is so (it is what it is - not necessarily a fact that must be accepted) back to top

 A church scam.  Former U.S. House of Representatives' speaker Dennis Hastert was given fifteen months for molesting a handful of boys many years earlier when he was a middle school coach.  "Fifteen months is a slap on the hand for a man who admitted to abusing boys as a trusted coach before serving as House speaker for almost a decade.  The sentence that Dennis Hastert received Wednesday (April 29, 2016) will never give back the lives he stole and emotional well-being he destroyed.  Mercy should be rendered to those who cared enough not to repeat their heinous (very bad or evil) crimes, and not to a man who tried everything, including paying off one victim who was reportedly 14 years old when Hastert molested him, to avoid exposure (Camille Lambardi-Olive)."  "Hastert leaves behind a life of destroyed lives, and it's what he'll be remembered for (Jeff Ostach)."  "Only fifteen months.  Are you kidding me?  That is a green light license to the pedophiles (a person who has a sexual interest in children) to go after children (Paul McClintock)."  Religious people may use subterfuge (a use of tricks to hide or avoid) to make it look like a perpetuator (someone who is doing something that should be stopped, but allowed it to continue) is actually a victim (a person who has been harmed): "Is the purpose of prison to punish or remove people temporarily from society so they can reform?  It appears Dennis Hastert has reformed already.  In John's Gospel, Jesus was addressed by a group of men who had trapped a woman in adultery.  They said that under Jewish law, they could stone her to death.  Jesus said he who was without sin should cast the first stone.  The group dispersed, and Jesus said to the woman 'Where are they who condemn you?  Go and sin no more.'  We should imitate this philosophy wherever possible (Patrick Murphy)."  It sounds good.  We are not perfect...who are we to "throw stones" at a former speaker of the House?  But in reality, this scripture is being used by organized religion to protect a pedophile.  Another example is the 2002 home video Left Behind - Tribulation Force, based on the Left Behind book series written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.  In the film, a small group of "Christians" defeat the "Antichrist" on an occasion.  However, in the Book of Revelation, the story is one of the "seals" and the "plagues".  It consists of the spirit of the God of the universe smashing planet Earth into the dust (fine particles of matter).  As an angel says: "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the Earth," and etc.  The "Antichrist" doesn't figure in too much at all. 

The movie is misguided (having wrong or improper goals or values) in that it has virtually nothing to do with "what is to come".  Claiming that I Corinthians 5:5 is to prepare someone for a "holy mission", is in reality a "revenge spell" used to take revenge on someone without them knowing who it is.  A "spell" can be placed by someone who means you harm.  An example of how it can be done.  "O Lucifer, a shining star; touch him, burn him from afar.  Revenge will now have its day."  The use of paranormal (of, relating to, or being part of a reality beyond the observable physical universe) methods to manipulate (to control or take advantage of) natural forces - magic - is wrong, whether it be black-white-green-yellow-red-blue, or whatever.   Organized religion demands forgiveness (the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well), but doesn't show remorse (an emotional expression of personal regret felt by a person after they have committed an act which they deem to be shameful, hurtful or violent).  The root of all of this is the Lucifer Effect (Philip Zimbardo): "Dehumanization (to treat as though a person is not a human being) is one of the central processes in the transformation of ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton (not limited or controls) perpetrators (produce, perform or execute) of evil.  Dehumanization is like a cortical (outer layer of a bodily structure) cataract (condition in which part of an eye becomes cloudy impeding sight) that clouds one's thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human.  It makes some people come to see those others as enemies deserving of torment, torture, and annihilation."  Dehumanization may lead to this.  "Coercive (use of threats) and manipulative leaders/groups create psychological and spiritual hostages out of vulnerable or well-intended human beings (Harvey Schwartz, PhD)."  The reaction may be - "there are tons of unverifiable (not capable of being verified, confirmed, checked or proven) information" or "the entire unfortunate incident (something that happens) has been resolved (to deal with successfully - clear up)" or "it might just be an illusion (something that deceives or misleads)" or the sarcastic (an expression showing scorn - open dislike and disrespect) "the dark side doesn't suit you (something you like)". 

Steven Hassan, in his book Combating Cult Mind Control, outlines a whole series of situations that may occur.  Someone from the occult.  "One occult-group ex-member I worked with was convinced that her spiritual body was disintegrating and that she was dying.  She suffered tremendous anxiety attacks, particularly in the middle of the night, and felt pains in her chest.  She had been tested by doctors for every conceivable problem, and it was determined that the difficulty was 'all in her mind'.  She had been programmed by the group to self-destruct if she ever left it."  A former Pentecostal.  "'It's very frustrating to realize over and over again that my mind is out of control.  Particularly when I'm in a stressful situation, I'll suddenly discover I'm babbling nonsense words and syllables - speaking in tongues - inside my head, and I've become disoriented from whatever I was doing.'"  A member of the Children of God, who walked out of the group.  "Five years later, a piece of cult literature turned up in his mailbox.  All his cult indoctrination was triggered by this one letter from the leader.  His mind started racing out of control.  A voice in his head told him to go upstairs and choke his children."  Philip Zimbardo, when he was president of the American Psychological Ass., wrote: "Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect (a set of observable manifestations), cognition (conscious mental activities) and/or behavioral outcomes.  It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social, psychological principles."  back to top

Leaving the fold.  Faith, Hope, No Charity is a look at fundamentalist (a belief that statements in the Bible are literally true) Christianity, written by Judith Haiven.  "Most of today's electronic (television) healing evangelists are much like old-fashioned 'medicine men' (a person believed to have magical powers of healing) - they live off the fears and hopes of simple people.  They are quacks (a person who pretends to have medical knowledge and skill) practicing spiritual medicine without a license - offering remedies (a treatment that relieves or cures a disease) they neither understand nor have bothered to examine.  They are not bright enough to be truly evil, but are nonetheless wicked men, leaving behind them a pathetic (marked by sorrow or melancholy) trail of emotional wreckage and illnesses sometimes worsened by neglect (a disregard of duty resulting from carelessness).  Our faith and hope may have been shaken (disturbed psychologically) by these ultra-conservative times, but the humanist (a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings) movement still possesses one genuine virtue which the born-again New Right is unlikely ever to acquire (obtain for oneself) - namely, the spirit of charity (love, benevolence and good will)."  Leaving the fold (the dangers of religious indoctrination and what therapists and victims can do to reclaim a healthier human spirit) occurs due to the depravity (a very evil quality or way of behaving) of born-again bigots (one who regards or treats members of a group with hatred or intolerance).  In rare instances (a certain point or situation in a process), people leave due to pathological liars (someone who compulsively tells lies - lies out of habit - or fabricates information) who are in ministry (positions of authority in a church), that enjoy stepping on little people (to treat ordinary people who are not wealthy, famous or powerful with arrogant indifference, as all-American rejects). 

"The Thirty Years' War began in 1618 when Protestant leaders threw two Catholic emissaries (people who are sent on a mission to represent an organization) out of a Prague (now capital of the Czech Republic) window into a dung (the excrement of animals) heap.  War flared (a sudden outburst) between Catholic and Protestant princedoms, drawing in supportive religious armies from Germany, Sweden, France and Italy.  Sweden's Protestant soldiers sang Martin Luther's Ein Feste Burg in battle.  Three decades of combat turned central Europe into a wasteland of misery.  One estimate states that due to the war and resulting famine and pestilence (a contagious or infectious epidemic disease), Germany's population dropped from eighteen million to four million.  In the end nothing was settled (to come to an agreement - Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, James A. Haught)."  Nothing much has changed nowadays, just more subtle (elusive or difficult to understand - skilled, clever), within organized religion.  "Young children aren't the only ones who lack the means to make informed decisions about religious doctrines.  What about the profoundly (difficult to fathom or understand) retarded or brain injured?  Some people live to adulthood never achieving the comprehension (the capacity for understanding fully) of the average six-year old.  Still others lack not the means, but the opportunity (a favorable combination of circumstances) to make a reasoned (based on sound reasoning or information) judgment about faith.  Severe (difficult to endure) brain injuries or developmental disabilities are relatively rare - but outside of Europe and the Americas, the world is populated by people, billions of them, who have never even heard of the saving power of Christ

"In centuries past, as theologians (an expert in the study of religion) wrestled (engaged in deep thought) with this contradiction (something with qualities that seem to conflict with one another), one solution that emerged was the concept of the noble savage.  It works like this - being saved by faith is really a matter of aligning (to get or fall into line) your will with God's will which, because God is good, means to place yourself on the side of goodness, real goodness, ultimate (of the greatest or highest degree or quantity) goodness.  Some believers argue that the concept of the noble savage applies only to those who haven't heard the way of salvation (The Dark Side, Valerie Tarico, Ph.D.)."  This doesn't necessarily mean Native Americans, but anyone organized religion regards as being others.  Anybody who connects (hitches, hooks, interlocks, joins, links) to the spirit of the God of the universe (the whole body of things observed or assumed) obtains (acquires, attains, gains, gets, procures, wins) paradise (a place or state of utter happiness - nirvana, wonderland, blessedness, Shangri-la) at death.  "Just as I was disappointed (to fall short in satisfying the expectation or hope of) with sexist (discrimination against women) and hypocritical Christians, I was soon influenced by non-Christians who impressed (gain the admiration or interest of) me.  When I made friends with two people involved in an Eastern religion, I found they were just as enthusiastic (ardent, eager, excited) about their religion as I was about mine...My helplessness and shame and dependence on God were being replaced with real abilities...I left the faith of my childhood because of old promises that were not fulfilled and new promises that were.  The diaries (a record of events or observations) I kept made it clear to me later that being a Christian did not solve my personal or interpersonal (being, relating to, or involving relations between people) problems.  I had mystical (having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence) experiences which seemed to give me a glimpse of the divine (of, relating to, or being God).  But in my everyday life I lived with enormous guilt (the fact of having committed an offense - Leaving the Fold, Marlene Winell, Ph.D.)." 

Here was a woman who, due to sexist and hypocritical church people, left the faith and replaced it with secular humanism.  Perhaps, in part, because of religionists (fundamentalists) who like to stay busy, and hold people in fear, she removed herself from the church.  "Recently my agnosticism (a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality is unknown) was shaken by the testimony of one man in particular, Howard Storm, a former hardened agnostic and chairman of a university art department, whose description of his long, involved, near-death experience roused (stirred up) me from my doubts and fears that there may be no afterlife (an existence after death), to positively hoping there may be one.  I am presently studying a number of books on near-death experiences, and have 'confirmed' several aspects of Storm's story by comparing it with the stories of those who have had remarkably (worthy of being or likely to be noticed) similar experiences.  Few stories I've run across are as long and detailed as his.  After his experience, Storm's life changed radically.  He quit his well-paid position at the university and attended seminary.  Today he is a minister in a liberal Christian denomination, United Church of Christ.  He is much happier than he was before the experience and does not fear death.  He continues to assert (to state or declare positively and often forcefully) that his near-death experience was 'more real' than waking reality.  Moreover, I've discovered that my personal happiness has increased with my renewed (to make like new) interest in an afterlife.  After studying only a few books on near-death experiences, and reading several skeptical (disbelieving, distrustful, doubting) pieces on them, I am still no expert on the phenomenon (something extraordinary or surprising).  However I am no longer the skeptic I once was (Leaving the Fold, Edward T. Babinski)."  

This from an ex-Methodist who wishes to remain anonymous ().  "It was a friendly group of people, some of whom became close family friends over the years.  And my parents were VERY involved in the men's and women's groups and especially building and work projects on the church itself.  They left the church a huge amount of $$ (money) when they died, which rubbed us daughters the wrong way () as they left their own grandchildren only a token tiny bit ().  After all the work, and money, the two of them had already given to the church over all the years they sure didn't owe the church anything as the church totally ignored () them during their dying years.  The long time family church friends had all died before my parents, and even though they were still VERY involved in work up until they became ill and couldn't, not one person even bothered to come visit or even call them, including the ministers (which seemed to switch around a lot during the later parts of their lives) even lifted a finger () to help THEM when they needed it.  The whole thing left a very bitter taste in my mouth ().  And then the newest minister, a woman, whom my Mom only met once as she was laying in bed actually dying, treated us daughters so horribly after Mom died.  It was so appalling () that it sealed the final nail in the coffin () about my extremely negative feelings about church at that point.  Apparently () she did the worst thing she could have possibly done to us and I, clearly, do not forgive her for it. I guess according to the church I won't be forgiven for my sins as a result - but that's fine with me as I have nothing to do with those who believe that these days."  back to top

Fallen shepherds.  Some claim that the criticisms of the church are no more than a rant (to complain in a way that is unreasonable).  The truth is that tens of thousands of people have been burned (as when someone in authority does something to oppress an individual) by organized religion, and want some answers.  "One evening I sat almost alone in the once-bustling (involved in constant activity) cafeteria at the [PTL] Heritage [USA] Grand Hotel.  As I looked down Main Street, I saw nothing of the crowds that once flocked (a great number of persons massed together) to this place.  At the weekend the hotel would be much busier, but on this day even a whisper would echo in the empty mall.  As I walk around Heritage USA, everywhere I look I see the innocent victims of one couple's (Jim and Tammy Bakker) fall.  I see dedicated staff members working more than one job at minimum wage to keep heart and home together.  I see people who invested life savings, only to believe the cause was lost.  I see dreams destroyed, loyalties betrayed, and hearts which are hopeful but hurt (Fallen Shepherds, Scattered Sheep, F. LaGard Smith)."  Heritage USA was a theme park (an amusement park in which the structures and settings are based on a central theme) built by Jim and Tammy Bakker in the 1980s.  A fallen shepherd is a religious leader who once had a high rating (considered to be of high quality), but has since been reduced to junk (that which is of low quality or worth) status (position or rank in relation to others). 

Rank and file (ordinary members of an organization as opposed to leaders) Catholics are getting fed up (annoyed or upset at a situation or treatment), too.  Melinda Henneberger, an editorial writer and columnist for The Kansas City Star, is one of them.  She writes this in November 2018.  "For months, American Catholics had been asked to be patient just a little longer.  No one can accuse me of being hasty (done with excessive speed).  But after a lifetime of stubborn adherence (sticking to and being faithful to one's purpose) on my part and criminal behavior on yours, your excellencies (bishops, cardinals, priests and etc.), you seem to have finally succeeded in driving me away (to behave in such a way that makes someone want to leave).  I'm not even sure there's such a thing as a former Catholic, but I'm about to find out.  I'm just all out of willingness (from being prepared to being enthusiastic) to be conned (an instance of deceiving or tricking someone) into believing that you - who have so long seen the devastation (great destruction or damage) of innocents (like a young child in a biblical massacre), principally (for the most part - chiefly; there was a logic to it) as a PR (public relations) problem - will ever change.  Like others who've had more than enough of your betrayals (acts of deliberate disloyalty) and arrogance and perpetual (never ending or changing) surprise about having coddled (treat in an indulgent [overly lenient] way) child rapists, I haven't been back to Mass since June [2018]."  As the Book says: "If you cannot contain [your sexual impulses], then marry.  Better to marry than to burn."  If these priests, bishops, nuns, cardinals cannot resist (withstand the action of abstaining [to refrain deliberately and often with an effort] from sex), the Catholic Church needs to change a policy (a course or principal of action), so that these persons may have an option (a thing that is or may be chosen) to marry.  The first Pope, the Apostle Peter, was married.  Peter's mother-in-law was healed, as proof (evidence).  "Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.  So He touched her hand, and the fever left her (from Matthew)."  If the church does not change its policies, their (amoral [lacking a moral sense] clergy) plight (a dangerous, difficult or otherwise unfortunate situation), forever, may be like Paradise, Calif. after a fire roared (move at high speed making a long prolonged sound) through town.  "It just looked like Dante's Inferno (a journey through hell)," said evacuee (a person who has withdrawn from a place of danger) John Yates, who is 65-years-old.  "Black and red was all you could see."

A song by the Charlie Daniels band may be helpful.  "The devil (the supreme personification of evil often represented as the ruler of hell - Lucifer) went down to Georgia.  He was looking for a soul to steal.  He was in a bind (to burden with an obligation) because he was way behind (lots of things left undone).  He was willing to make a deal.  And the devil said, 'Now you play a pretty good fiddle (violin), boy, but give the devil his due (pay the devil what you owe him).  I'll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul because I think I'm better than you.'  The boy said, 'I'll take your bet - and you're going to regret it.'  The devil opened up his case and said, 'I'll start this show.'  And fire flew (moved through the air) from his fingertips as he rosined (to treat with an amber-colored resin) up his bow (a wooden rod with horsehairs).  He pulled the bow across the strings (wire or cord of a musical instrument) and it made an evil hiss (the sound a snake makes).  When the devil finished, Johnny said, 'Well, you're pretty good.  But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it's done.'  Fire on the mountain - run, boys, run.  The Devil's in the house of the rising sun.  Chicken's in the bread pan picking out dough.  Granny, does your dog bite?  No, child, no.  The devil bowed (to cease resistance) his head because he knew that he'd been beat (overcome, defeated)."  These "shepherds" allowed the devil to overcome and defeat them.  back to top

Demons in a church.  Numerous previous topics depict (portray in words) what happens when "the operation of spiritual forces invoked" and "the actions of Satan as applied" are performed within the American Christian church.  Lives are torn to shreds (pulling something apart).  Many never recover (bring back to a normal condition), unable to have a family or a home - or have a family, a home, then watch it disintegrate (destroy the unity of).  The root cause of "games of the church", "occultism", "paganism", et.al., are mild forms of Satanism which are present in the church system.  It's not only within organized religion - it even extends to the British royal family. "The girlfriend of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, has been caught in a satanism scandal.  Her niece is reportedly a twisted Satanist.  Radar Online obtained chilling (very upsetting or frightening) handwritten letters and illustrations of Meghan's niece Noel Rasmussen, where she proudly boasts (brag, vaunt or crow) of selling her soul to the devil (www.aceshowbiz.com, April 26, 2017)."  Until the church decides to do something about it, there will continue to be a mass exodus (a flowing or going out) of individuals who are simply fed up, or who cannot take it anymore.  The American Christian church may respond with: "We love Jesus," or "Better accept Jesus into your heart," or the classic "Jesus saves" - but which Jesus do they refer to?  Given the sordid (immoral or dishonest) tales of abuse and misuse (mishandling, mismanagement, ill-treatment, damage, destruction or ruin) aforementioned, it may be that their "Jesus" destroys to save - that particular "Jesus" did not die to save. 

They talk of Jesus as being the earthly son of the Virgin Mary - the queen of heaven.  However, the son of the queen of heaven is actually Baal, a fertility (to be fruitful, productive, plentiful or thriving) god - the abundant material life concept.  Although there is nothing wrong with having "plenty" (being more than enough, without being excessive) in a context of spirituality, and people all over the world want this, yet these religious people's lives revolve around the dollar bill.  If these people claim to serve the "Jesus" who died to save, maybe they should listen to the Sermon on the Mount.  "Happiness to you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Bliss (a feeling of well-being) to you who hunger now - for you shall be filled.  Good fortune to you who weep now - for you shall laugh...But misfortune to you who are rich - for you have received your solace (psychological comfort).   Sorrow to you who are full - for you shall hunger.  Distress to you who laugh now - for you shall mourn and weep."  It sounds like Jesus favors (friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior) those who have suffered in Aleppo, Syria, and really has no great love for a rich church bigot (the intolerant).  Maybe it's time to take the Jesus-who-died-to-save's words more seriously.  back to top

Scattered sheep.  "In 1971, my senior year at Crescenta Valley High School in Southern California, I accepted Jesus into my heart and became a born-again Christian.  When you are in the religious bubble everything makes sense and there is no such thing as chance, randomness and contingencies (events that may but is not certain to occur).  Things happen for a reason and God has a plan for each and every one of us.  When something good happens, God is rewarding us for our faith, our good works, or our love of Christ.  When something bad happens, well, God does work in mysterious ways you know.  Inside the bubble the explanatory filter (distinguishing the intelligent from the unintelligent) works at every level, from the sublime (causing wonder or astonishment) to the ridiculous (extremely silly - absurd), from career opportunities to parking spots (an area where people leave their cars).  I thanked God for everything, from getting me into the Christian-based Pepperdine University - my grades and SAT scores were unspectacular - to finding a parking place at theaters and restaurants.  In the Christian worldview (the way someone thinks about the world) there is a place for everything and everything is in its place, and believe it or not when you are committed to that belief system, it is internally consistent (marked by harmony, regularity or steady continuity) and logically coherent (having clarity or intelligibility - understandable) - as long as you don't look too closely and you are surrounded by others who are also in the bubble.  When you step outside of the bubble, however, and encounter people who employ (make use of) reason and science in their lives, the internal logic unravels (cause to come apart).  I'm talking about the kind of reason and logic called Street Epistemology (study of knowledge) by the philosopher Peter Boghossian (A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, forward by Michael Shermer)."  Scattered sheep are those who were formally involved in organized religion, but have left (go away from) for a variety of reasons.  His "born-again" experience was hallow (a depressed part of a surface) and fake (artificial, bogus, false, sham, unauthentic, counterfeit), and so wouldn't last for a duration (continuance) of time.  Possibly if he had connected to the Unseen, he might not have fallen off a cliff - something had gone terribly wrong, and he lost a faith. 

The Day After is a Hollywood movie made in 1983, thirty-five years ago.  With technology, it is almost inconceivable (too extraordinary or improbable to believe - incredulous, unimaginable, unthinkable) as to what new and better weapons of mass destruction are now available in this day and time.  Thirty-five years before 1983, in 1948 - to show how fast things can change - the Soviet Union did not even have WMD.  The Day After details a period when Cold War tensions (pressure, strain stress) reach a boiling point (a point at which people might do or say something violent).  The story begins with East Germany blocking West Berlin.  It escalates (to increase in extent, volume or number) to a tactical (used for a specific plan to achieve a specific goal) nuclear exchange against NATO.  Nuclear missiles are then fired from Kansas silos against three hundred fired from Russia.  About eight or nine Soviet warheads (a section of a missile containing the explosive charge) begin to appear overhead (in the sky above someone) in Kansas to destroy the missile silos.  Kansas City, and other towns are leveled (completely destroyed) - a classic nuclear Armageddon.  This text appears on the screen at the end of the film.  "The catastrophic events you have just witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike (a surprise attack using overwhelming force) against the United States.  It is hoped that the images (visual representations) of this film will inspire the nations of this earth, their peoples and leaders, to find the means to avert (prevent something bad from happening) the fateful day."  Reason and science might possibly create this nightmare scenario (a sequence of events).  Perhaps reason and logic can then explain to whoever remains on the planet - if they would care - when it occurs in a near or far future, as to why it happened in the first place.  But, then, who will really know. 

The Terminator is a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was later governor of California.  The story concerns the aftermath (a period of time after a bad or destructive event) of a nuclear war occurring sometime between 1984 and 2029.  After the war, the city of Los Angeles is a nuclear wasteland - due to a nuclear winter, famine and an electromagnetic pulse (rapidly changing electric and magnetic fields coupled with electrical and electronic systems producing damaging current and voltage surges).  Schwarzenegger, the "Terminator", and another character in the film, are sent back from 2029 to 1984 to change history.  If L.A. was to become a nuclear wasteland someday, perhaps our atheist friends, if they are still alive, can explain to whoever else is left living, the reason and logic which caused it.  "Early in the 21st century, Skynet, a military defense program, became self-aware.  Viewing humanity as a threat to its existence, Skynet decided to strike first.  The survivors of the 'nuclear fire' called the event 'Judgment Day' (Terminator Salvation)."  In 1959, almost sixty years ago, another movie was made, On the Beach.  This details the increase of radiation nine-fold in one year in Australia - the only country left intact (having no relevant component destroyed) on the planet after an atomic war.  "Who would believe that human beings would be stupid enough to blow themselves off the face of the Earth.  Everybody had an atomic bomb, and counter-bombs, and counter-counter bombs.  The devices outgrew us - we couldn't control them."  This said by a scientist character in the film.  Instead of dealing with these issues (a vital or unsettled matter), the church ignores them - spending its time speaking of a rapture - a Jesuit doctrine, a Great Tribulation, and an Antichrist.  These things are so far removed from the mainstream (the dominant trend in opinion) of reality, being issues on the fringe (the outer limit of something), that it is pitiful (causing disgust).  The only thing anywhere near close is the Great Tribulation, more accurately defined as a nuclear war.  It could be said that dreamers (those who are guided more by a delusion [a belief based on false or incomplete information] than by the real world) don't want to talk on it.

So, then, organized religion degenerates (decline or deteriorate mentally or morally) into inquisitions, to defend the church.  Those who question are punished, as enemies.  The philosophy is simple - some souls have strayed (wandered from proper limits) so far from God, that pain is the only way to call them back (to communicate the need to someone to return from one situation to a previous).  A definition of inquisition is an investigation conducted with little regard for individual rights.  This goes back to a former Roman Catholic tribunal for the discovery and punishment of heresy (adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma).  Some church leaders will invoke a demon (a source or agent of evil, harm, distress or ruin).  In a local church, these things might happen.  "Invocation means to summon or call upon, especially through speech.  Invocational rites are the summoning of spiritual powers (spirit-alembic.com)."  "When you mention the word spirit to someone, they will immediately connect it with the kind of evil spirits that inhabit every horror movie.  In fact, however, it is not as inherent to black magic as you might expect and spirits can actually be used to add power to a rite or ritual (Wishbonix)."  "The word invocation means to draw out a spirit or a spirit force (www.onstar.com)."  "Invocation is the process of calling the spirit energy...many reserve this task for their leaders (Rituals of Invocation)." "Demonic invocation is much the same as any other kind - ensuring an actual physical representation of something known to cause harm or mischief.  There are different forms of invocations within various cultures.  One of the most intense stems (originates or caused by) from a religion known as Voudou, a form of Haitian Voodoo (www.auntyflo.com)."  However, the result of such policy (a definite course of action) is that people scatter (go off in different directions and cease to exist as a body or unified whole).  There are, in the United States, more persons of faith outside the church than there are inside the church.  back to top

Another Jesus.  Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, said this on February 16, 2016.  "The historical (concerning past events) Jesus bears almost no resemblance (a state of being like something else) to the American Jesus conjured up (created or imagined) in the late 1970s."  A pastor fondles (touches or handles in a gentle way) a parishioner's foot at a foot washing ceremony.  A pastor accuses a parishioner of not paying a tithe (dedicating a tenth of your money to "God" in a church).  A pastor harasses a parishioner about not being able to easily find a job in a sharp recession (economic downturn).  In a rural church, the pastor derides (expresses contempt for) a struggling parishioner for walking through muddy (soft, sticky matter resulting from the mixing of earth and water) streets after a severe rainstorm, as his vehicle was broke down: "You came to the church in dirty jeans (some elders wore blue jeans in that church, referred to mud on the cuffs [the end part of a trouser leg] of the jeans)."  Justifying divorce - in a fifty parishioner small-town church with two divorces in three and a half years - a pastor's comment: "There's another pastor in this town who is a divorcee."  Concerning a parishioner who forecloses upon another parishioner, a pastor: "I don't care about their business."  Concerning a parishioner who questions a pastor's policies: "He that criticizes me blasphemes God."  A congregation, led by their pastor, looses Satan on a parishioner, at an ex-communication ceremony.  A pastor accuses a parishioner of not taking communion in a church (he did, but the pastor was mad at him, because he refused to be the pastor's friend).  These are results (consequences, effects or outcomes) of people who serve (perform duties for) another Jesus.  This Jesus is cold-blooded (without emotion or feeling) and exacting (rigor [harsh inflexibility] or sternness [severe in nature]).  The biblical Jesus operates (functions or behaves in a proper or particular way) differently.  This is a paraphrase (a repeat something written using a few different words): "Two men went into a church to pray - one a deacon (an official in a church ranking below a minister), the other a drug dealer.  The deacon prayed, 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other men - thieves, adulterers, or this drug dealer.'  But the drug dealer didn't even look up.  He said, 'God, have mercy on me.'  God blessed the drug dealer, not the deacon."  He enjoyed camping out (sleeping outdoors): "Our Father in heaven feeds the birds in the air, how much more will He give to you?"  When the biblical Jesus came riding into Jerusalem, Israel to make an appearance almost 2000 years ago, He rode on a donkey (an animal that is like a small horse, but with large ears), not on a white horse, as was a custom for the Romans of that day.  He said to religious leaders (paraphrase): "You pray lofty (deserving to be admired) prayers and love your shows (allowing something to be seen) of piety (devotion to God) in a church...hypocrites (persons who put on a false appearance of virtue or religion)."  Then He gave people a lesson on prospering (the idea of thriving or flourishing): "It is harder (more difficult) for a rich man to enter the realm (region, sphere or domain) of heaven, than it is for a camel (a large hoofed animal that has one or two humps on its back) to go through an eye of a needle (a tiny aperture [hole or small opening] that thread is put through when sewing cloth)."  Maybe one of the camel's hairs (coarse [composed of large particles] hair used in making paint brushes, etc.) might fit (be the right size or shape) through a needle's eye - only one.  

Kate Bowler is the author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel.  She wrote this for The Washington Post, August 29, 2017.  "With his yachts (large, usually motor driven, boats used for pleasure cruising) and jets and endlessly-smiling mouth offering promises of Your Best Life Now - that's the name of his best-selling book - [Joel] Osteen has been lambasted (criticize someone severely) as being, at best, sluggish (slow to respond) in providing emergency aid to those suffering from the [Hurricane Harvey] disaster and, at worst, a hypocrite (a person whose actions give a false idea of stated beliefs) who cares more about people's wealth than welfare.  From aerial views (viewpoint seen at a high elevation) of his jaw-dropping (causing great surprise or astonishment) mansion to the cut of his navy suits (the style of dark blue garments), he always looks like a man with a good reason to be smiling.  He is a wealthy man who unapologetically (being such without apology or qualification) preaches that God has blessed him, with the added bonus that God can bless anyone else, too.  The promise of the prosperity gospel is that it has found a formula that guarantees (an assurance for the fulfillment of a condition) that God always blesses the righteous (acting in accord with moral law) with health, wealth and happiness.  For that reason, churchgoers love to see their preachers thrive (grow vigorously - flourish) as living embodiments (someone who is a perfect representative or example of a concept or ideal) of their own message.  [However] when the floodwaters rise, no one wants to see Osteen float (move gently on the surface of a body of water) by on his yacht, as evidenced by the Christian satire (use of irony, sarcasm or ridicule) website the Babylon Bee's shot (a remark aimed at a particular person) Tuesday (August 29) [aimed] at him: 'Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Though Flooded Houston To Pass Out Copies of Your Best Life Now'."  However, nobody wants to sleep under a bridge.  The Ancient of Days wants people to have enough for their needs.  But how much is enough?  The biblical Jesus said this, when speaking of a church.  "You say, 'I am rich - I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'  But you do not realize that you are wretched (extremely or deplorably bad or distressing), pitiful (pathetic), poor (of a low or inferior standard or quality), blind (unable or unwilling to discern or judge) and naked (without protection - from Revelation)."  Apparently, the biblical Jesus, and this other Jesus, do have a difference of opinion (a conflict of opposed ideas or attitudes or goals).  

When people get wrapped up (completely absorbed [having one's attention fully engaged] or engrossed [so consumed you don't notice anything else]) with another Jesus, things can degenerate (having lost the physical, mental or moral qualities considered normal and desirable).  "Why Are So Many Christians Practicing Witchcraft" is the title of an article by Jennifer LeClaire, who is the news editor of Charisma magazine.  She says, "Witchcraft is not always so mysterious.  Indeed, word curses fall into the realm of witchcraft.  However you define it, though, practicing witchcraft is a serious sin, and far more [American] Christians are experts at sorcery than you may realize."  She goes on.  "In modern times, word curses aren't so dramatic.  When we speak negatively over someone's life - 'They will never hold down a job,' 'Their marriage is bound to fail,' 'The doctors said he's going to die in thirty days,' - we are agreeing with the 'enemy's plan'."  This one's from Above and Beyond Christian Counseling.  "Word Curses Activate the Demonic Realm (the region, sphere or domain within which anything occurs)"  Certain American Evangelicals practice this.  "A man told me when he was a little boy his father repeatedly released word curses over him saying things like, 'You will never accomplish anything.'  Throughout his life when taking exams or trying to complete projects, he would have lots of troubles.  Word curses can be discovered in many common sayings.  'You will never amount to anything,' 'You are just like your father, good for nothing,' 'You are the dumbest (lacking intelligence or good judgment) kid in the world.' (Jonas Clark)"  This does not necessarily mean releasing demonic spirits, however.  Institutional religion refers to itself as the body of Christ.  They say, "Don't say anything negative (marked by denial, prohibition or refusal) about 'the body of Christ'."  They may possibly come from a loyalty to another Jesus.  In Christianity After Religion - The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, Diana Butler Bass offers a interpretation of the "spiritual but not religious" trend (a general direction in which something is developing or changing) and shares a vision (seeking to accomplish things that matter to you) for a faith that stays true (continuing to be loyal and supportive) to a message of hope.  In the book, she mentions: "We are moving toward a completely religionless (a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency [thoughts and actions taken that express power] or agencies) time.  Even those who honestly describe themselves as 'religious' do not in the least act up to it (Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)."  He wrote this from a Nazi prison in 1944, seventy-five years ago.  "She (Diana Butler Bass) points the way beyond either clinging (adhering closely) to or rejecting (dismissing as inadequate, inappropriate or not to one's taste) creeds (a system of Christian or other religious beliefs) and institution-bound (chained to an establishment) religion to a faith (complete trust or confidence in a person or thing) centered not on 'what' we believe - or do not believe - but on what she calls the 'how' question (Harvey Cox)."  "For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough (from II Corinthians)."  back to top

Neo-Nazism in church.  "The treaty (Treaty of Versailles), negotiated between January and June 1919 in Paris, was written by the Allies with almost no participation by the Germans.  The negotiations revealed (made known to others) a split (a division or disagreement) between the French, who wanted to dismember (partition or divide up) Germany to make it impossible for it to renew (resume after an interruption) war with France, and the British and Americans, who did not want to create pretexts (reasons given in justification) for a new war.  The eventual treaty included fifteen parts and 440 articles.  Part I created the covenant (a formal, solemn and binding agreement) of the new League of Nations, which Germany was not allowed to join until 1926.  Part II specified (identified clearly and definitely) Germany's new boundaries, giving Eupen-Malmdy to Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine back to France, substantial eastern districts to Poland, Memel to Lithuania, and large portions of Schleswig to Denmark.  Part III stipulated (said exactly how something must be done) a demilitarized zone (an area in which it is forbidden to station military forces) and separated the Saar (a river of western Europe) from Germany for fifteen years.  Part IV stripped (to deprive of possessions, to divest of honors) Germany of all its colonies (territories controlled politically by a more powerful country), and Part V reduced Germany's armed forces to very low levels and prohibited Germany from possessing certain classes of weapons.  Part VIII established Germany's liability (the state of being responsible) for reparations (compensations for war damage paid by a defeated state).  Part IX imposed numerous other financial obligations (binding agreements committing a nation to making payments) upon Germany (The History Channel)."  Germany received a raw deal (a situation in which individuals are taken advantage of and treated unfairly).  In the German mind, then, someone had to pay (exacting [to perform] revenge [the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered]) for the misery (a state of feeling of extreme distress or unhappiness) inflicted (to force persons to experience very unpleasant things) by people more powerful than they. 

So, they looked for individuals who could be punished so that the German would feel good about himself, or herself, again.  And the obvious targets (selected as objects [persons to which a specified action is directed] of attention or attack) were Jews, gypsies and political dissidents.  Jews were an ethnic group dating back to ancient Israel.  Gypsies were a group of people who traveled from place to place, especially in Europe, and who originally came from northern India.  They traditionally lived by itinerant trade (traveling salesmen, hawkers and peddlers).  Political dissidents were persons who opposed official government policies (plans of what to do in a particular situation).  The selection of targets was also a part of Nazism, not just its militarism (the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests).  This philosophy (study of the fundamental nature of knowledge) seeps (flows, oozes and dribbles) into the evangelical mentality (a particular way of thinking).  In a metropolitan (big city) American evangelical church, a young lady who worked as a head bookkeeper in a bank receives a raw deal from her various boyfriends.  One dumps (get rid of someone no longer wanted) her, one says, "I don't even like being seen with her."  One, whom she cared about deeply (ignoring and sacrificing ourselves for someone), leaves the church, and her.  She was a tomboy (a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities generally associated with boys).  And she had a solution (a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation).  When a farm boy (a young man who works on a farm or ranch) asked her out for a date (a social engagement [an arrangement to go somewhere at a fixed time] between two persons), and did not kiss on the first date, she said, "I don't want to eat with him, I don't want to talk with him, I don't want him calling me on the phone."  It was time for someone to pay for the misery inflicted upon her by others.  So, she proceeded to do everything her former boyfriends had done to her, to the farm boy, including having him thrown out (get rid of as worthless or unnecessary) of the church.  That intrinsic desire (behavior that is driven by internal rewards, which arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying to you) to have someone suffer for what others have done, when elevated to a science (an organized body of knowledge) can rise to a level of neo-Nazism.  She felt so good (a feeling of satisfaction [fulfillment of one's wishes]) when it was all over, as if God had vindicated her (to be totally set free from any form of torment [mental suffering]), as she mutilated (inflicted serious damage on) the farm boy's life. 

An evangelical woman is humiliated in her marriage by her husband's actions.  She and him joint-owned a mid-sized business and he bilked (obtained unfairly or by deceit) a sum (amount) of money out of it.   After a divorce, she lived in a house across the alley from a person who lived in an efficiency (a one room apartment with a private bathroom), and did lawncare (mows grass) for a career.  She proceeded to vent (to seek her just revenge) by going to his landlady, and doing everything she could to have him evicted (expelling a tenant), as she regarded him as a lower form of life (the worst of the worst, with the most modicum [a small amount, particle, speck, fragment, scrap or crumb] of intelligence).  It's the same situation - she got a raw deal from someone who had power over her (a husband), and she sought a target who was struggling to make ends meet (to earn enough income to provide for basic needs).  An American evangelical minister is thrown out of a church for various reasons, in a mid-sized town.  He feels unfairly treated and humiliated (made to feel ashamed or embarrassed).  His denomination (subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name) finds him a church in a small town to pastor (oversee a church).  Immediately, he looks for someone to exact revenge (punishment or expiation for a wrong, done especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit) upon.  He is fortunate, as in this small town farm and ranch community there is a drought and economic recession occurring.  Someone attends the church who is just starting out in the agriculture business and is just struggling to survive.  When he walks three miles down to the church on a muddy day, due to a vehicle breakdown (mechanical failure), in near-new washed jeans, its - "You came to the church in dirty jeans (the pastor)."  In this particular church, elders wore blue jeans.  When this church person shares his woes (sorrows or distresses) with the pastor in his plight (a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation) not being able to find a decent job in the economic downturn (decline in business, or other activity), its - "I don't care where you've worked."  When this parishioner (one who belongs to or attends a particular church) refused to be his pastor's friend, the minister retaliated (do something bad to someone) by accusing, falsely, the individual of not taking communion in the church. 

Within ecclesiastical circles (connected with the Christian church), refusing communion is a very serious offense.  Finally, things got to a point where the minister felt comfortable with inflicting as much emotional pain as possible.  With his small town congregation backing him (confirm what someone says, support what someone does), he handed the parishioner over to Satan to afflict as Satan would.  So, all kinds of bad things happened to this person on satanic feast days, and the congregation was joyful (causing great happiness).  In the pastor's mind, justice had been served (meted out, delivered) for the raw deal he had gotten in his previous church.  Just as when the Jews were herded (moved in a particular direction) into the boxcars (enclosed railroad freight cars) in World War II, destined for slavery, and the Germans rejoiced (felt great delight).  The evangelical pastor who replaced him in the small town church commented: "Nothing wrong with pronouncing a curse upon a Jew, let them be accursed (under a curse)."  Pronouncing a curse means 1) the harmful energy released against another by the use of witchcraft, hateful words, slander or by one's hateful attitude, 2) a prayer or invocation (the summoning of a deity or the supernatural) for harm or injury to come upon an individual, 3) you literally wish ill upon someone else, and, moreover, it often (but not necessarily) involves invoking the aid of a deity, 4) a curse was considered to possess an inherent (permanent and inseparable - built-in) power of carrying itself into effect and referred to supernatural beings, 5) a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone, 6) a curse is a pronouncement of ill fortune (bad things happening).  A locker plant is a smaller version (a particular form or variant) of a packing plant, where beef is processed for public consumption - all the way from killing the animal to packaging the product.  In this locker plant three people worked on the "kill floor", where the beef was first slaughtered. 

A favorite game played with one of the workers was attempting to get him to say, in a boisterous tone (a rough and noisy quality in a person's voice), Heil Hitler.  A German American was the supervisor there.  An evangelical, a Lutheran and an ex-Pentecostal joined in on the "fun", pressuring (the use of persuasion, influence or intimidation) the worker to do it.  Toward the end of the year this person worked there, things got a little nasty (highly unpleasant).  The German supervisor dropped a beef hind quarter onto the target's foot and said, "You should have moved your foot."  The evangelical, who was a body builder, tossed (thrown with a quick, light motion) the worker up against a wall, with a right fist swirling (a whirling motion).  The ex-Pentecostal came at the "target" with his fists.  And, the Lutheran said, "I'll lock you up (put behind bars) and you won't come out for a nice long time," meaning that's what will happen if you don't hurry up and say Heil Hitler, in a right tone of voice (it's not about what you say, but the way you say it).  And that is exactly what did happen, as he refused to say Heil Hitler - the person was locked up, in jail, on a bogus (not what it appears or claims to be) charge (an accusation, typically one made against a person brought to trial).  One would think, had it been World War II, that these people worked for German military intelligence.  You cannot do anything you want, in spite of (without being affected by the particular factor mentioned) what the church tells you, and get off scot free (avoiding punishment for something that deserves punishment), when you are dead.  As the Book says (paraphrase): "Many will say to me on that Day (that is, Judgment Day) - we have prophesied (to predict with assurance or on the basis of mystic knowledge) in your Name, and in your Name we have done wonderful things.  Then will I profess (assert, state or affirm), I don't even know you, depart (get away) from me (to eternal prison), YOU WHO VICTIMIZE (from Matthew)."  Victimize means to single someone out for cruel or unjust treatment.  It means to pick on, push around, bully, abuse, discriminate against, take advantage of, give someone a hard time, hassle or gang up on.  back to top

The rape of the poor.  There is an ancient song that says: "Nearer (closely associated with) my God to you - even though it be a cross that raises (lifts or moves an individual to a higher position or level) me."  There are some American evangelicals who actually can foam at the mouth (to become very angry) at the mention (an instance of calling attention to something) of a cross.  It is absolutely antithetical (being in direct and unequivocal [leaving no doubt] opposition) to the way they live.  With a church person who had the disasters (sudden events bringing great damage) occurring on satanic feast days, due to an evangelical church ceremony (a formal act that is part of a religion), there was a general (widespread) acceptance (approval) among evangelical people.  The pastor had said, at the ceremony, "He who criticizes me blasphemes (speak irreverently [showing a lack of respect] about sacred things) God," and "I loose Satan upon you (the target)."  The rape of the poor means to plunder (despoil, ransack or devastate), to pillage (ruthlessly crushing or marauding [going about in search of people to attack]), to plow under (cause to disappear), and in general wreak havoc (cause or inflict a large amount of damage or harm) in the lives of those you feel can't fight back.  An evangelical official, in authority (having official power to make important decisions) above that minister: "Have you read the Book of Job?"  He was referring to a person named "Job" in the Bible who went through a loss of property, dying children, and finally - health issues.  This was due to Satan turned loose.  As a result of the satanic mischief (a cause or source of harm, evil or irritation) accomplished by the minister, a fellow evangelical minister (a woman) gloated (observe or think about something with triumphant [to express jubilation] and often malicious satisfaction)  over his success with: "You have nothing, you've been condemned by a court."  In her mind, the poor were created for one holy (exalted or worthy of complete devotion) purpose - to be raped

How to get away with (escape blame, punishment or undesirable consequences) butchering (spoil, ruin, mangle or wreck) people's lives, in a church - use the forgive dogma (a principle laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true).  "We know this isn't what you want to hear, but you just need to forgive."  "Forgive or your sins won't be forgiven."  "You better forgive, because you have to live with it."  Sometimes they slip up (make a small mistake) with: "You should have got out (left) before you got hurt."  Apparently, an evangelical church is somewhat like a minefield (a subject or situation presenting unseen hazards).  And last, they will smirk (smile in an affected [artificial or pretentious] and smug [self-satisfied, complacent or superior] manner) and say, "Jesus forgave."  Did He?  "Woe (grief, unhappiness, and anguish) to you, religious leaders (those who are recognized by a religious body as having some authority within that group) - for you shall receive the greater damnation (from Matthew)."  The greater damnation means a place below hell (even worse than hell), especially reserved (kept by special arrangement) for them.  The last step for a successful rape - silence the target.  This is done through intimidation (frighten or threaten).  "Sit down and shut up."  This spoken by an American evangelical businesswoman, concerning the issue (a topic for debate).  "Your credibility (the fact that someone can be believed or trusted) is zero."  This spoken by a lay leader (a local church official) in a church.  Meaning, with all the bad stuff (unpleasant things that happen) we did to you, nobody is going to believe anything you say, anyway (in any case).  "You'd better not speak a word against ------- (the minister)."  This spoken by the wife of another pastor, who was aware (knowing that something exists) of the situation.  Meaning, if you say anything at all, more bad things will happen to you.  And, it is very effective, because it silences any form of dissent (differ in opinion). 

The old philosophy (making sense out of the world) of: "We Americans like to hear both sides (understand both of the opinions in a situation) of an argument (exchange of diverging views) before we decide which side we're going to take (give one's support to one person or group in a dispute)," is dead (gone, no more) with the evangelicals.  If done properly (correctly or satisfactorily), a target should be such a complete mess (a situation or state of affairs that is confused), that it could rise to a level (measure, volume or size) of mind control (brainwashing).  There are many arguments, pro and con (both for and against), concerning the possibility of this.  "Many shall come from the East and from the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the realm (a place) of heaven.  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast (throw forcibly in a specified direction) into outer darkness - and there shall be weeping and gnashing (grind together) of teeth (from Matthew)."  Russia, China and the Middle East often refer to Europe and America as the "West".  Those areas, as well as Asia, constitute (be considered as) the "East".  So, "many" shall come from the Europe, America, Russia, China, the Middle East, Asia and anywhere else, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in paradise.  "We who are children of the kingdom have a specific nature and character.  Our character, our essence (indispensible quality of something), our element (an aspect of something abstract), and our nature with all its expression (the process of making known one's thoughts) are altogether different from the people who are under the worldly, earthly ruling (an accepted principle that states the way things are - Living Stream Ministry)."  But, the "children of the kingdom", the church group, may be tossed (throw something carelessly) into "outer darkness", that is, the blackness of darkness, forever.  "Today, and every day, we continue to make the choice to triumph over evil (Brian Sandoval, Nevada governor, October 1, 2018)."  This is a little different than the Pentecostal philosophy of the "loosing of Satan".  Call it mind control, call it what you wish.

In Jamaica, it is estimated that one American female is raped a month, according to U.S. State Department statistics (a branch of mathematics dealing with data collection, organization, analysis, interpretation and presentation).  "She woke up on the shower floor crying and naked - choke marks (from squeezing or obstructing the windpipe [air passage from throat to lungs] - to strangle or stifle) on her neck, scratches (minor cuts or grazes [a scraping along the surface]) on her body.  The 18-year-old au pair (a young foreign woman) vacationing in Jamaica had no idea how she wound up in a bathroom near the pool until hours later.  She had been drugged (unconscious or in a stupor [a state in which a person is almost unconscious and their thoughts are not clear] as a result of taking or being given a drug) and raped, she said, and the resort did nothing to help her.  Jamaica resorts silenced (prohibited or prevented from speaking) assault claims for years (Detroit Free Press, November 30, 2018)."  When the rape of the poor occurs in a church, the individual is silenced.  Others in the church may become aware of that person's plight (a dangerous, difficult or otherwise unfortunate situation), and will not lift a finger (not make any effort to help).  back to top

 American arrogance.  A sixth reason for the name American Cross is that it is an anti-arrogance tool to deflate American arrogance.  It needs a monument this big to fix it.  Americans could learn to be more thankful.  The story of the Cross is a story of a prince who became a pauper (a very poor person), and loved it.  "Pride goes before the fall (from Proverbs)."  The arrogance, if left unchecked, can in time bring down the whole country.  The occupation of Iraq is an example when arrogance can cause our leaders to make missteps (actions or decisions that are mistakes).  "The dispute concerns what many regard as the Bush administration's single biggest mistake in the first few months after Saddam Hussein's ouster (the act of removing someone from a position of power) - the order in May 2003 to disband the Iraqi army.  It was a move that put 250,000 young Iraqi men out of a job, out on the streets, angry and armed - and all but guaranteed the violent chaos to come.  Paul Bremer, who was the head of the U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority, arrived in Baghdad on May 14, 2003.  The next day, he released CPA Order No. 1, barring members of the Baath party (Sunni Muslims) from all but the lowliest government posts.  The next day [May 16], he issued CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the Iraqi army (Slate Magazine, September 7, 2007)."  The New York Times wrote: "For their guiding principles, the leaders of the Islamic State...are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam (September 26, 2014)."  There is a possibility that CPA Orders No. 1 and 2, back in 2003, created a frustrated, core group of Sunni Muslims, who desired revenge.  The Islamic State has provided a vehicle (that which allows something to be achieved) for that.  Another root of the arrogance is the debt load (a total amount of debt an organization has on its balance sheet) of America.  According to Newsweek: "This is how empires decline.  It begins with a debt explosion.  If the United States doesn't come up with a credible (able to be believed) plan to balance the budget, the danger is a major weakening of American power (December 7, 2009)."  When that was written, the debt was over $12 trillion (a trillion equals a thousand billion, or a million million).  As of January 2019, the debt is about $22 trillion.  This is somewhat unnerving (to make someone feel afraid) when the total revenue (money collected by a government through taxes) for the United States government was only a little over $3.5 trillion in 2018. 

President Trump is creating, with a runaway (out of control) National Debt, another Great Depression.  It is like a balloon.  It is blown up (enlarged), and blown up, and blown up, yet someday it will pop (crack, snap, burst or explode).  It is an elephant in a room (an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to discuss).  If the government wants to do something right, it could chop (reduce the size of in a way that is regarded as ruthless [having or showing no pity]) the National Debt to below $10 trillion.  This may be done by selling the national parks, or whatever, privatizing (the transfer of a business, industry or service from public to private ownership and control) much of what the government owns or controls now.  Perhaps a look at the Eisenhower era of the 1950s, some of the most prosperous times in American history, when the rich were in a 90% tax bracket (a category of a range of incomes) could be helpful.  If President Trump does not cut the national debt in half, possibly within ten years America will face the greatest depression (a sustained [continuing for an extended period] long-term downturn [business decline] in economic activity marked by low production and sales, and a high rate of business failures and unemployment) the world has ever known.  This is not an option, this is a necessity.  And the luxury.  From air conditioned dog houses to the Forbes Investment Guide to extravagant (spending too much money) SUVs, the luxury only feeds the arrogance.  How much is enough.  If the Ruler of the Universe can enjoy being homeless, why can't we?  The cross site (an area of ground on which a monument is constructed) will let people know that there are things in America other than the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., the Strip in Las Vegas, Wall Street in New York City, smog (fog mixed with smoke) in Los Angeles, "big oil" in Houston, or vehicle manufacturers in Detroit.  Since people cannot take their money with them when they die, they why be uppity (arrogant, presumptuous).  Or as Maurice Rawlings, a famous heart surgeon, put it almost forty years ago: "There is a peculiar apathy (a feeling of not having much emotion or interest) and moral degeneration (not honest, proper or good) now occurring in America and it closely resembles the situation that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire as was classically described over two hundred years ago by Edward Gibbon.  Although our American democracy has existed only one-fifth as long as the one thousand-year reign of the Roman Empire, the same five attributes (inherent characteristics) outlined by Gibbon as the cause for the fall of Rome are ominously (suggesting that something bad is going to happen in the future) existent in the United States today: 1) bountiful affluence and luxury; 2) a disparaging (degrading) separation of the very rich and very poor; 3) an obsession with sex; 4) a loss of originality and creativeness; 5) the emergence of a welfare state." 

This is not to say that everything in America is bad.  "It was March 4, 2002.  American special operations forces were fighting to establish observation posts (positions from which soldiers can watch enemy movements) high above Afghanistan's Shah-i-Kot Valley, as conventional troops continued their push through the valley floor below.  One of those men, Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman, was alone in the pitch-black (extremely dark), wounded and slowly regaining (getting back) his consciousness in the thigh-deep snow of a 10,469-foot peak (a pointed top of a mountain) known as Takur Ghar, as scores (over forty) of al-Qaeda fighters closed in.  For his actions earlier in the battle and for his incredible bravery (extraordinary mental or moral strength in the face of [when confronted with] danger, fear or difficulty) on that peak, according to sources (persons who give information) familiar with the matter (a subject under consideration), Chapman will be posthumously (after the death of the originator) awarded the Medal of Honor later this year.  And Chappy - as he was known by his teammates (members of a group who come together to achieve a common goal) - will be the first Air Force service-member to receive the nation's highest award for valor (great courage in the face of danger) since the Vietnam War.  It was the second day of what would be the largest battle involving conventional U.S. troops in the Afghanistan War, called Operation Anaconda.  But on that early Monday morning, the MH-47 Chinook helicopter that was supposed to ferry (transport) Chapman and the SEALs to Takur Ghar was late.  The operators (persons who are often successful) were due to lift-off from their Gardez base around midnight and quietly land near the base (bottom) of the peak before climbing to the top.  But maintenance delays and pressure from senior officers forced Senior Chief Petty Officer Britt Slabinski, the team's leader, to nix (cancel) the safer approach (preliminary guidance before landing), instead opting (making a choice from a range of possibilities) to 'land the x' of the peak at around 3 a.m.  It would prove a gross (very obvious and unacceptable) miscalculation (a wrong judgment) in retrospect (review of a past course of events - Task and Purpose, April 20, 2018)." 

There are still people in the United States who make tremendous (very great) sacrifices (things you give up, for the sake of a better way [method, style or manner]) for a cause (an idea or principle strongly supported by certain people).  "When people come to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, one of the things they are reminded of is resilience ("bouncing back" [to become healthy, happy or successful again] from difficult experiences).  This is a place that can provide a modicum (a small quantity) of comfort (a pleasant and satisfying emotion) and hope that, despite the worst imaginable things (it would be impossible to think or conceive of something worse) that human beings can do to one another, we also have the capacity to help one another (Alice Greenwald, Chief Executive Officer of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum)."  Yet there are still people who walk in absolute (complete total and utter) arrogance.  When American Cross Global began to fundraise for the monument, and needed help on social media, a "data scientist" in Amarillo, Texas made it abundantly clear (extremely obvious) the only thing he was interested in was the money.  He was emailed on October 23, 2018: "This project deals with those who lose courage and confidence due to a traumatic event - PTSD veterans, survivors of terror bombings and school shootings, wildfires and hurricanes.  I guess the question is, if you do not wish to help, can you recommend someone in this town who actually cares."  To which the American responded: "Let me remind you that this is your project not mine and it certainly puts you in no position to judge me.  Not only will I not make a recommendation (a suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action) to you, but I will be sure to share your communications with me to all my peers (persons equal to others in abilities, qualifications, age, background or social status)."  The callous (showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others), unfeeling (heartless, uncharitable or unsympathetic) attitude has sadly infected (contaminated, polluted or tainted) so many in the United States.  Helping people who lose courage and confidence, and are having a rough time (a challenging period during which an individual struggles), get some heart back, should be everyone's concern (responsibility, business and duty).  back to top

American exceptionalismWikipedia: "In June 1927 Jay Lovestone, a leader of the Communist Party of America and soon to be named General Secretary, described America's economic and social uniqueness.  He noted the increasing strength of American capitalism, and the country's 'tremendous reserve power'; a strength and power which he said prevented Communist revolution.  In 1929, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, disagreeing that America was so resistant to revolution, called Lovestone's ideas 'the heresy of American exceptionalism' - the first time the specific (special or particular) term 'American exceptionalism' was used."  So Stalin created the term (a word or phrase that has an exact meaning).  Wikipedia continues: "Parts of American exceptionalism can be traced to American Puritannical roots.  Many Puritans with Arminian (maintaining the possibility of salvation for all) leanings embraced a middle ground.  They believed God had made a covenant with their people and had chosen them to provide a model for other nations of the Earth.  One Puritan leader, John Winthrop, metaphorically (a figure of speech) expressed this idea as a 'City upon a Hill'."  The concept of exceptionalism is a part of 21st century America.  Again, Wikipedia: "In a speech about the Syrian crisis on September 10, 2013, Barack Obama said, 'But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run I believe we should act.  That's what makes America different.  That's what makes us exceptional.'  In a direct response the next day Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an op-ed (an essay in a newspaper) for The New York Times on September 11, 2013, articulated (to express oneself readily, clearly or effectively) that, 'It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.'  He went on to say, 'We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.'"  However one views American exceptionalism, the [mind-altering] drugs and the rock [music] create a delusion (a belief that is not true) that, when combined with other things, may lead to a pax Americanaback to top

Pax Americana.  The term comes from pax Romana of the Roman Empire and pax Britannica of the British Empire.  It was first used in the August 1894 issue of Forum: "The true cause for exultation (a feeling of great happiness) is the universal outburst of patriotism in support of the prompt and courageous action of President Cleveland in maintaining the supremacy (the quality or state of having more power) of law throughout the length and breadth of the land in establishing the pax Americana."  It was used again in the October 1898 issue of the International Journal of Ethics in an article written by Felix Adler: "Instead of establishing the pax Americana so far as our influence avails (is useful to others) throughout this continent, we should enter into the field of Old World strife, and seek the glory that is written in human blood."  What Adler was saying was that America should step out of its influence in the New World, at the end of the 19th century, and into influencing the rest of the world.  But is that really a true pax Americana.  The American tradition of always returning governance (the government) back to the indigenous (native) people and only insisting on a rejection of previous isolationist (a belief that a country should not be involved with other countries) policies is not imperialism (a policy of extending the power of a nation over other areas of the world).  When the troops and the governors move into various countries and don't leave, that is a true form of pax Americana, in the tradition of pax Romana and pax Britannica.  Deposing (getting rid of) of a psychopathic (a person who sabotages other people's lives) dictator (i.e. Saddam Hussein) who committed numerous crimes against humanity, spending billions of dollars to rebuild a country, and then leaving, is not a true form of pax Americana.  In northern Iraq, on a reconnaissance (an exploratory military survey of enemy territory) mission near the Syrian border in 2009, Specialist Chris MacKay said: "I'd give my life for America any day.  Wouldn't think twice."  Staff Sgt. Derek Fisher, on why he joined the military: "I've tried to make my dad proud (causing someone to feel very happy and pleased) every since I've been a little kid.  It was hard to see if I was doing that."  Marine Gunnery Sgt. Edward Allier hunting snipers in the Sunni triangle that same year: "I can control a lot of things, I don't like contributing to, or even indirectly, being responsible for a kid being hurt, because they are an innocent thing." 

This aptly (appropriate, suitable) reflects an attitude of gratitude (a feeling of appreciation or thanks) on the part of the soldiers.  Not only soldiers, but law enforcement.  "The selfless acts (an act devoted to others welfare or interest and not one's own, giving to others without looking for personal gain) of bravery from the men and women of law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer (reliance on the assurance that the God of the universe is listening to you - a principle weapon of spiritual warfare) is real (South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster)."  Those who used the term pax Americana in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries were and are misguided (having or showing faulty judgment or reasoning) in their application (implementation or use).  What the future holds, no one knows.  John F. Kennedy said this: "I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss the most important topic on earth - peace.  What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of peace do we seek?  Not a pax Americana forced on the world by American weapons of war.  Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.  I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living."  President Kennedy understood, more than most, what a real pax Americana is - a forced peace.  The Islamic State has accused Americans of being modern legionnaires (a large group of soldiers in ancient Rome).  They forget the Declaration of Independence, that all people, on the planet, "are endowed (to provide with something freely) by their Creator with certain unalienable (impossible to take away) rights - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  Admiral James Stavridis is dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO.  He writes, concerning Afghanistan, in June 2017: "The good news in terms of this Graveyard of Empires is that the U.S. and NATO are hardly empires - we have no desire to rule Afghanistan, control its not insignificant (too small or unimportant to be worth consideration) mineral wealth, defend its borders or guide its destiny (a great or noble course of events).  Our mission (important assignment) remains ensuring the nation is relatively stable (firmly established)."  back to top

A school.  "If any person builds on the 'foundation' gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - everyone's work will become clear.  For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire - and the fire will test everyone's work, of what sort it is.  If any person's work which he (or she) has built endures (lasts), he (or she) will receive a reward [a position] - (from I Corinthians)."  There are those who regard the spirit of the God of the universe as a glorified babysitter (nursemaid) or a sugar daddy (one that helps another with gifts or money).  "God, please take care of me and give me anything I want."  That is not what it is.  "For the realm (sphere, domain) of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard (from Matthew)."  The wood, hay, straw group are those who wish the realm of heaven to do something for them.  The gold, silver, precious stones group are those who wish to do something for the realm of heaven.  The spirit of the God of the universe looks for workers who wish to work in His vineyard - the world system.  People who work for the realm of heaven get a fun (what provides amusement or enjoyment) eternity (in paradise, perhaps a nice house).  Those who believe but won't work get a boring (dull, stale, tiresome) eternity (in paradise, maybe sweeping the streets of gold).  The entire (having no element or part left out) American Cross Global webpage could be viewed as a school (to teach or drill through instruction, in a specific knowledge or skill) - to include the documentary screenplay Beltane, more than a hundred and twenty different topics (matters dealt with in a text) of interest contained on the ACG homepage (a page typically encountered first on a Web site, that usually contains links to other pages on the site), and the book Horse Creek.  The screenplay details the effects (changes that result when something is done) of satanic power (dealing with the deceiver who leads humanity astray) when exercised (something that is done) by organized religion.  The homepage contains various subjects from "what is to come" to "post-traumatic stress" to "spiritual but not religious people", etc.  If one would read one chapter of Horse Creek per week, which is designed mostly for those in organized religion, here is what could be done - week one: Introduction; week two: Rapture Myth; week three: Four Horsemen; week four: Your Soul; week five: Second Death; week six: Other Religions; week seven: The Trinity; week eight: The Messiah; week nine: Fall of Man; week ten: Church Today; week eleven: Church Tomorrow; week twelve: Mechanics of Salvation; week thirteen: Way of the Cross.  Horse Creek mainly concerns church doctrine (something that is taught).  Organized religion, worldwide, could use a 21st century version (interpretation, performance, rendition) of a 16th century Protestant Reformation.  back to top

Online education.  L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, wrote an online learning article for Time: "Everyone would like a solution to the problem of rising college costs.  While students worry that they cannot afford a college education, U.S. colleges and universities know they cannot really afford to educate them either.  Some wonder whether today's online technologies - specifically, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which can reach many thousands of students at a comparatively low cost - could be an answer.  I am convinced that digital (characterized by electronic and especially computerized technology) learning is the most important innovation (something created for the first time through the use of the imagination) in education since the printing press.  To understand the potential, it's important to focus on what digital learning is good for.  At least at the moment, it is surely not very good at replacing a close personal connection with an inspiring teacher and mentor (someone who teaches to a less experienced and often younger person).  However, it is incomparably (having no equal for excellence) good at opening possibilities for billions of human beings who have little or no other access of higher learning.  The global appetite (a strong wish for something) for advanced learning is enormous: MIT Open Course Ware - the initiative we started in 2002 to post (place, position) virtually all our course materials for free online - has attracted 150 million learners worldwide.  Today learners from every state in America and every nation on earth are actually taking MIT online classes."  Mr. Reif concludes, "I strongly believe that by capitalizing (to gain by turning something to advantage) on the strengths of online learning, we will make education more accessible (possible to get, situated within easy reach, capable of being understood), more effective and more affordable for more human beings than ever before (October 7, 2013)."  Michael Luger, director of Manchester Business School in England: "Online learning has been advancing at a pace (rate of movement) in higher education for many years and will continue to expand in the future."  Online schools, stressing spiritual values at no charge whatsoever, to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, are long overdue.  Many working class people would wish to learn about spirituality (of, or relating to, eternal things), but cannot afford a school's charge, and so watch cable TV or get on Facebook instead, in an evening.  back to top

Spiritual but not religious people.  There has been an explosion in the persons of faith outside the church category (classification, group, set), over the last quarter century.  "According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65% of us believe that 'many religions can lead to eternal life' - including 37% of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone.  Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside the church is growing.  Thirty percent of American call themselves 'spiritual, but not religious', according to a 2009 Newsweek poll, up from 24% in 2005 (Newsweek, August 24, 2009)."  Thirty percent of the population of the United States is approximately 90,000,000 people.  These are the people the monument is geared (to make ready for effective operation) for.  This group, serviced (the act of delivering to someone a notice) by one lone (being the one of a class with no other members) Cross, is about as big as the group which attend thousands of churches in America.  The monument gives the spiritual, but not religious segment (one of the pieces) of society some form of direction (guidance or supervision of action or conduct).  It doesn't tell them what to do.  They can figure that out for themselves.  All over the world, people shun (to avoid deliberately and especially habitually) organized religion.  To them, services (a meeting for worship) are vain (having no real value), sermons are corny (tiresomely simple and sentimental) - church bores them.  In Russia over half the population claims to be Orthodox Christians, yet just over half of these (34% of the total population) has been in a church.  In Western Europe, church attendance (the act of being present at a place) is less than 10% in certain areas. 

Barbara Ehrenreich did an interview for Time sometime in April 2014 with Belinda Luscombe.  Belinda - "You're a noted and stanch (firm in one's allegiance to something) atheist.  Yet much of your memoir Living with a Wild God is about your own mystical (having a spiritual meaning or reality) encounters."  Barbara - "All kinds of people have uncanny (being beyond what is normal) experiences which they can see as transcendental (supernatural) or unspeakable or whatever."  Belinda - "Would you every explore the idea this 'other' that you've experienced could be God?"  Barbara - "The religions that impress me are those which involved ecstatic (very happy or excited) communion (an act or instance of sharing) with a deity (essential nature of a god) or spirit."  "'Religion is an impediment (a bar or hindrance - impairment) to knowing God,' says Lotz (Anne Graham Lotz, the second of Billy Graham's five children).  'Procedures, rituals, creeds (formula of religious belief) - how in the world can they help you connect with God?'...Like so many other Christians, Lotz 61, had too many bad experiences in church to believe that God dwells there - and only there She was kicked out of one church, she says, for insisting on the inerrancy (exemption from error) of Scripture.  She left another more recently in a fight concerning a new pastor.  She soon came to realize that she was a 'believer in exile' (Newsweek, September 21, 2009)."  This lady is a daughter of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, whose crusades (a series of activities undertaken to achieve a goal) have been around for most of the second half of the 20th century.  One would think she would be loyal to the church, given that her father worked with so many churches.  Yet here is a woman, at least for a period in her life, who was spiritual but not religious. 

In a small town southwest of Forth Worth, Texas in the mid-1970s, a Southern Baptist preacher drank whiskey and beat his teenage daughter, the daughter becoming spiritual but not religious as well.  The preacher got away with it for years before someone finally turned him in.  The last example is from Transformed by the Light, Melvin Morse, M.D.: "For nearly fifteen years Suzanne was married to an abusive husband.  To the outside world, her husband seemed like the perfect man.  In the privacy (a state of being apart from company or observation) of their home, Suzanne suffered through almost daily sessions (meeting or series of meetings) of slapping and shouting.  She wanted to divorce him, but her religious parents told her to stay married and maybe things would change."  After fourteen years of this, Suzanne plowed (to move through in a forceful way) into the rear end of car while driving, not paying attention.  At the hospital, with internal bleeding, she had a cardiac arrest.  "In the midst of all this hospital chaos (a state in which everything is out of order), I just zoomed (to go speedily) out of my body and into a tunnel.  I was walking down the tunnel with the most beautiful light at the end that was enveloping (surrounding) and warm."  After her near-death experience, she left her abusing (malediction, put-down, criticism, tirade - harsh insulting language) husband and stopped going to the church where he was a leader.  She went back to school, remarried and has a decent home.  Her faith is still intact (not lacking in any part), but in a different form.  "I don't go to church anymore, but I have a deep personal faith.  I can never be a part of organized religion again.  After standing so close to the light, I can't bear bureaucracy (a system that has many complicated rules and ways of doing things) in religion anymore."  One begins to understand why there are approximately 90,000,000 people in the persons of faith outside the church category.  back to top

Jacob and Esau.  According to polling done by statistician (a person who collects statistics - a collection of quantitative data) Tom Smith for the American Jewish Committee, 2005 - 80% of Black American believe that God exists, 75% of Hispanics believe God exists and 65% of Caucasians (relating to the white race) believe God exists, in the United States.  35% of evangelical Protestants attend religious services, 30% of Catholics attend services and 25% of liberal Protestants attend services.  So there is a discrepancy (the state of disagreeing) between Americans who believe in some form of God and those who attend religious services.  Islam has its roots (a point or place at which something is invented or provided - origin, source, beginning) that go all the way back to Esau in the Bible.  Esau became the father of the Arab nations.  Christianity has its roots that go all the way back to Jacob in the Bible.  Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel, which is where Christianity began.  So Islam and Christianity are brother religions.  There have been spats (petty quarrels) between the brothers, but living in a nuclear age this may become dangerous (creating a risk of bodily injury).  The wars between Islam and Christianity in the Middle Ages don't work today given the nuclear, biological and chemical capacities (largest amount that something can hold) of the participants (players, colleagues).  A peace can't come until each religion sees the other as a viable (capable of working) path to the spirit of the God of the universe. 

Christianity is a forest (a tract of wooded land) religion.  Islam is a sand (desert, arid) religion.  Christianity tends to flourish (to grow vigorously - thrive, prosper) in areas of the world where the topography (the physical features of a region as a whole) is green.  Islam tends to flourish in areas of the world where it is arid (having very little rain - desert).  Doesn't make one religion superior (excellent of its kind - better) to the other, just a different religion for a different region and climate.  "Muhammad ibn Abdallah (570-632 A.D.) was an Arab businessman, trading in skins and raisins in and around Mecca.  He was also a devout (devoted to religion) man and every year he would retire (withdraw from activity) to a cave on the summit of Mount Hira, just outside the city, to pray and fast.  In 610, he experienced such a powerful vision while in that cave that he came back a changed man.  Islam literally means surrender, and those who followed it were surrendering their entire beings to Allah and His principal concern, as passed on via (by way of) Muhammad, for justice and equity (justice according to natural law or right).  The Qur'an promised (10:26) 'those who do good' that 'a most happy state' would be theirs (Heaven, Peter Stanford)."  Perhaps it could be said that Islam, a monotheistic (a belief that there is but one God) religion, was given to the Middle East simply because the church refused (to show unwillingness to do) to do its job back in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, reaching out to that area.  They are commanded in their Bible to "go out into all the world" and bring monotheism to everyone.  The church failed miserably in the Middle East within that time frame (a period of time that is used or planned for a particular action or project).  back to top

The Qur'an.  Islam holds (remains secure and intact in) that there is a single indivisible (impossible to divide or separate) God.  Here are some quotes from what certain Bible believing Christians may regard as a book of an infidel (an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion) religion.  "How can you deny God?  Did He not give you life when you were lifeless; and will He not cause you to die and again bring you to life; and will you not ultimately return to Him (al-Baqarah 2:28)?"  "Beyond them there lies hell, and nothing of what they have earned in this world will be of any benefit to them (al-Jathiya 45:7)."  "Those who disbelieve the Qur'an and prior scriptures will have yokes (servitude or bondage), and wealth and children are not the indications of God's pleasure.  It is belief that brings you close to God (Saba 34:31-32)."  "When the angel said, 'O Mary.  God gives the good news with a word from Him - you will be given a son, his name will be Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary.  He will be noble in this world.'  Hearing this Mary said, 'How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?'  He replied, 'Even so, God created however He wants; whenever He decides to do anything, He only says to it be and it is.'  He [Jesus] will heal the blind and the lepers and raise the dead to life, by God...The unbelievers among the children of Israel plotted against Jesus, and God devised a plan to raise Him up (al-Imran 3:47-54)."  "As for those who do not hope to meet Us on the Day of Judgment, being well pleased and satisfied with this worldly life - they will have the Fire as their abode (home - Yunus 10:5-7)."  "Do you think that you will enter paradise without any trials (a test of faith, patience or stamina) while you have known the examples of those who passed away before you?  They were afflicted (to distress so severely as to cause persistent anguish) with suffering and adversity (al-Baqarah 2:26)."  "God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.  The parable of His light is as if there were a niche (a recess in a wall), in which there is a lamp, the lamp is enclosed in crystal (quartz that is transparent or nearly so), the crystal is of a starlike brilliance (the state of giving off light), and is lit with olive oil (An-Nur 24:35)."  The last quote relates to this.  "That is the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world (from John)."  Christians who mock (laugh at in a scornful manner) Islam simply do so through ignorance.

Evangelical Christians have a tendency to twist (to change so much as to create a wrong impression or alter the meaning of) the Qur'an to their own ends (come or bring to a final point - finish).  "Right-wing (people who support conservative or traditional ideas) websites devoted to showing the 'truth about Islam' array (large group or number of things) searing (very intense) verses (some of the series of short subsections) that seem to show the Qur'an offering a nearly unlimited license to kill.  But the closer you look at the context (part of a discourse that surrounds a word or passage) of these verses, the more limited the license (allow an activity to take place) seems.  The passage most often quoted is the fifth verse of the ninth sura (a chapter of the Qur'an), long known to Muslims as the Sword verse.  It was cited by Osama bin Laden in a famous manifesto (a written statement that describes the policies, goals and opinions of a person or group) issued in 1996, and on the first reading it does seem to say that bin Laden would be justified in hunting down any non-Muslim on the planet.  The verse is often translated colloquially (types of speech not on a formal level) - particularly on these right-wing websites - as kill the infidels wherever you find them.  This common translation is wrong.  The verse doesn't actually mention infidels but rather refers to 'those who join (link or connect) other gods with God' - which is to say, polytheists (people who believe in many gods).  So, bin Laden notwithstanding, the Sword verse isn't the strongest imaginable basis for attacking Christians and Jews.  Still, even if the Sword verse wasn't aimed at Christians and Jews, it is undeniably bloody.  'And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever you shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush (a trap in which concealed persons lie in wait to attack by surprise).'  It seems that a polytheist's only escape from this fate (a determining cause by which things are believed to come to be) is to convert (bring over from one belief to another) to Islam, 'observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms (money, food or other donations given to the poor or needy)'. 

"But the next verse, rarely quoted by either jihadists (a Muslim who participates in a holy war - a struggle or fight against the "enemies" of Islam) or right-wing websites, suggests that conversion isn't actually necessary.  'If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum (protection given to refugees) of you, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety.'  After all, polytheists are 'people devoid of knowledge (ignorant)'.  And the following verse suggest that whole tribes of polytheists can be spared if they're not a military threat.  If those 'who add gods to God' made 'a league (an association of persons or groups with common interests) [with the Muslims] at the sacred temple', then 'so long as they are true to you, be true to them - for God loves those who fear Him'.  For that matter, the verse immediately before the Sword verse also takes some of the edge off it, exempting (free from an obligation or liability imposed by others) from attack 'those polytheists with whom you are in a league, and who shall have afterwards in no way failed you, nor aided anyone against you'.  In short, 'kill the polytheists wherever you find them' doesn't mean 'kill the polytheists wherever you find them'.  It means 'kill the polytheists who aren't on your side in this particular war' (The Evolution of God, Robert Wright)."  Taking verses out of context (without the surrounding words, and so not fully understandable) is a dangerous habit (a negative behavior pattern).  They would damn (send someone to hell as punishment after death) 1.8 billion innocent (not deserving to be harmed - the quality of being sincere) people to hell, because of some radical Islamists.  Christians might understand that the vast majority of Muslims are people just trying to raise a family and pursue a career...like them.  Radical Muslims kill, radical Christians damn.  back to top

Hindus.  What about the Hindus.  Will they be locked up in eternal (having infinite duration) prison because they didn't accept Jesus as their savior?  With almost a billion Hindus in India alone, what if some Christian missionary (a person undertaking a religious mission) doesn't get to them all?  Maybe God will have to damn the missionary for not doing his job.  According to the Himalayan Academy: "Hindus believe in a one, all pervasive (spreading through every part) Supreme Being who is both immanent (being a part of the innermost nature) and transcendent (a part of a reality beyond an observable physical universe), both Creator and unmanifest (the Absolute - free from change, the unmoved mover) reality."  Wikipedia: "Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God.  Therefore, Hinduism has developed numerous practices meant to help one think of divinity (ruler of the universe) in the midst of everyday life."  There are different schools of Hinduism: "Nyaya being the school of logic, makes the 'logical inference' (a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence) that the universe is an effect (purport, intent) and it ought to have a Creator (Religious Truth, Robert Neville)."  "When God is viewed as the supreme personal Being - rather than as the infinite principle - God is called Ishvara ('The Lord'), Bhagavan (The Auspicious One') or Parameshwara ('The Supreme Lord') {Wikipedia}."  Hindus have their scriptures.  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: "Lead us from darkness to light; lead us from death to immortality (1.3.28)."  This is similar to the Christian New Testament in the Bible.  "Hinduism is a major religion in India, followed by around 80.5% of the country's population of 1.21 billion (2012 estimate - 960 million adherents)  Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali - 3.3 million (Wikipedia)."  Organized religion may reach 7% of those living in India with its gospel.  Does this not make God into somewhat of a tyrant (an absolute ruler unrestrained by law), in that He would send those the church doesn't reach to prison forever, even though they believe in an "all-pervasive Supreme Being"?  What if their Supreme Being is the spirit of the God of the universe?  "The [near-death] experiences of Indian patients (in India) were basically similar to those of American patients.  Emotional responses included serenity and peace (At the Hour of Death, Karlis Osis, Ph.D. and Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph.D.)."  How can it be "similar" to American Christian experiences, as they haven't accepted "Christ"?  Or, the Native Americans and their belief in the "Great Spirit".  What if this is the spirit of the God of the universe, as well?  back to top

A dilemma of Krishna.  Krishna is said to be the second person in the Hindu Trinity.  Kersey Graves, a Quaker from Indiana, wrote a book back in 1875 comparing Jesus' and Krishna's lives.  1) In both cases warnings were issued that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his execution (murder).  The parents fled, Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea, Krishna's parents stayed in Mathura.  2)  Jesus was called the lion of the tribe of Judah - Krishna was called the lion of the tribe of Saki.  3) Both referred to themselves as having existed before their birth on earth.  4) Both performed many miracles.  5) Both were meek and merciful.  6) Both forgave their enemies.  7) Both had untimely deaths.  According to religioustolerance.org: "If one were to delete from the Gospels the events of Jesus' life that seem to originate (begin to exist) in Krishna's story, one would basically end up with a story of: 1) a very human itinerant (traveling from place to place), Jewish, rabbi-healer, 2) a teacher who largely followed the teachings of Hillel - a liberal Jewish rabbi from the 1st century BCE and 3) an observant (keen, perceptive) Jew who had a special relationship with God - a kinship so close that Jesus referred to God by the familiar term 'Abba'.  At the minimum, He [Krishna] is believed to have been on Earth at least fourteen centuries before Jesus.  Hindus believe that whenever profound (all encompassing) evil spreads widely through the earth, the Supreme Being comes to earth in the form of a human person."  In The Skeptical Review online, Stephen Van Eck wrote: "Then there is the Hindu epic, Ghagavad-Gita, a story of the second person of the Hindu Trinity, who took human form as Krishna.  Some have considered him a model for the Christ, and it's hard to argue against that when He says things like, 'I am the beginning, the middle, and the end' (BG [Behagavad-Gita] 10:20 vs. Revelation 1:8 [I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end])."  Graves found 346 elements in common within Christian and Hindu writings on the issue.  If, and only if, Jesus and Krishna are manifestations of the Entity (this Person with a brilliance about Him) people say they encounter in paradise during a near-death experience, there might be a possible link (connecting element or factor).  But, Indians could not keep all the truths given them fourteen centuries before Christ, but changed some of them into the doctrine of the sacred cow some centuries later - just as Catholics worshipped the virgin Mary some centuries after Christ.  The Supreme Being comes to earth in the form of a human person may actually strengthen the case for Christianity.  If this Entity can manifest Himself in other time frames (being the God of the whole earth), with attributes (characteristics) similar to Jesus, then His miraculous birth and teachings (ideas or principles taught by an authority) on earth are not so fantastical (absurd, bizarre, crazy) after all.  back to top

Other appearances.  Could the Entity of Light have been present in other historical periods?  There is no absolute proof He was, and there is no absolute proof He wasn't.  When Krishna was born, Deity was said to be the agent of conception (process of becoming pregnant), but the mother already had seven children.  As a result, Hinduism is a decentralized religion, as opposed to Christianity.  According to Krishna.com: "For God there is no difference between material and spiritual energies, since they both come from Him and are under His control."  We like to take God and put Him into a nice little box, and say the only time He could have visited the planet was at the height of the Roman Empire, but that is not the way it is.  God is not in anybody's box, but does what He wants.  If He decides to drop in on humanity, He can do it whenever He pleases.  As was said to the religious leaders about Abraham, who was a Jewish leader approximately 2000 years earlier - "Before Abraham was, I am."  This isn't to say that the strongest manifestation wasn't the one which took place at the height of the Roman world, and possibly the only one - we don't know.  To quote from The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by this Graves, concerning other so-called manifestations (one of the forms that something has when it occurs): "The 'New York Correspondent' published in 1828, furnishes us the following brief history of an ancient Chinese god, known as Beddou: 'All the Eastern writers agree in placing the birth of Beddou at 1027 B.C.  The doctrines of this Deity prevailed over Japan, China and Ceylon.  He was believed to have sprung from a virgin of royal blood, that the king of the country, uneasy at his birth, was desirous to put him to death, also that, being saved by shepherds, he lived in the desert to the age of thirty years, that he performed a multitude of the most astonishing miracles, spent his life fasting, and at his death bequeathed (handed down) to his disciples a volume in which the principles of his religion are contained.'  Here, it will be observed, are some very striking counterparts (remarkably similar to another) of the miraculous incidents found related in the Gospel history to Jesus Christ.  And no less analogous (similar, alike) is the well-authenticated story of Quexalcote of Mexico, which the Rev. Maurice concedes to be, and Lord Kingsborough and Niebuhr, in his history of Rome, prove to be much older than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  According to Maurice's 'Indian Antiquities', Humboldt's 'Researches in Mexico', Lord Kingsborough's 'Mexican Antiquities', and other works, the incarnate (having human nature and form) Quexalcote was born about 300 B.C. of a virgin by the name Chimalman, and led a life of the deepest humility and piety, retired to a wilderness, fasted forty days, and was finally crucified between two thieves.  Again, 'Quexalcote is represented, in the painting of Codex Borgianus, as nailed to the cross' (see Mexican Antiquities vol.6, p. 166)."  Maybe these other manifestations actually took place, maybe they did not.  But there is a possibility.  back to top

Buddha.  Buddhism also has parallels (qualities in common) to Christianity.  Buddha said: "Hatred does not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love - this is an eternal truth...Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good, overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth."  Jesus said: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you..."  How could Buddha have gotten these Christian truths many centuries before Christ unless he has some sort of a connection to the spirit of the God of the universe.  Buddha believed in hell: "He who inflicts pain on innocent and harmless persons, will soon come to one of these ten states - he will have cruel suffering, loss [of property], injury of the body (an accident), heavy affliction (a distress so severe as to cause persistent anguish), or loss of mind (insanity), or a misfortune come from the king (government), or a fearful accusation [from someone], or loss of relations (family), or destruction of treasure (money), or lightning will burn his house [down]; and when his body is destroyed (death), the fool will go to hell (Dhammapada 137-140).'  In the Bible it says you can burn in hell over a cup of cold water - it is even worse.  Christianity seems to be a stronger religion, yet some arrogant (an exaggerated sense of one's importance that shows itself in making excessive or unjustified claims) Christians believe that President Obama was an Islamic terrorist, or that Adolph Hitler had a deathbed (the last hours of life) repentance (a change of heart), or insist on sending refugee children from gang-infested Central American countries back to their doom (unhappy destiny).  The atheist (belief in no deity) solves the dilemma (a situation in which you have to make a difficult choice) of the Entity of Light by stating that there is no God.  For him there isn't, and when he dies, he goes to a place of no God, where it has been said that grotesque (very strange or ugly) animal faces bubble (gurgle, spew, squirt) out of the muck (slimy dirt or filth). 

In certain ways, the founder of the Christian faith is unique (being the only one): "He was born in an obscure (insignificant, minor, unimportant) village - the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.  He never wrote a book.  He never held (have a position of responsibility) an office.  He never went to college.  He never visited a big city.  He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born.  He had no credentials (knowledge that makes a person able to do a particular job) but himself.  When he was only thirty-three [years old], his friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through a mockery (insincere and impertinent) of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While dying, his executioners (those who put another to death in fulfillment of a judicial death sentence) gambled for his clothing - the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend (One Solitary Life, Dr. James Allen Francis, 1926)."  Buddhist near-death experiences are different, yet similar, to those in the western world.  These people meet Yamatoots, who are servants of Yama, the Lord of the Dead, and visit hell.  They also visit heaven, but no tunnel, instead a cloud "as hard as a stone".  A person named Vipassanna: "On February 5, 1952, I came home from work feeling very tired and sleepy, after feeling run-down (worn-out, exhausted) and fatigued all day.  I lay down to take a nap, and when I awoke, I got up and found that, although I was standing up, my body was still sleeping.  I went outside the house and stood under a coconut tree.  Looking around, I saw a road, and wondered where it went.  I walked along the road.  Suddenly, I heard two people talking very loudly.  I looked and saw that they were Yamatoots.  One of them spoke to me saying, 'We've come to take you to hell.'" 

Go Taeng Saeyep, a 46 year old Chinese-Thai coffee shop employee.  "One day at work, quite without warning, I fell unconscious.  Everybody thought I was dead.  My boss was fond of me, and bought the best quality coffin for me, one made in the classical style.  He took me to the temple, and sponsored (a person who assumes responsibility for some other person) a 'high' funeral ceremony for me.  Even though I was no longer in my body, I felt sleepy, and lay down.  I felt that I was dreaming, even though I was dead.  Two Yamatoots took me to a strange place.  I saw many people who looked like prisoners.  These prisoners were punished by having their tongues put between red-hot pincers (a tool made of two pieces of metal with two concave jaws, that are arranged like blades of scissors, used for gripping objects, that is so hot that it glows red).  The Yamatoot explained that they were being punished like this because, during their lives, they were liars and slanderers."  Somewhat later, "My spirit returned to my body, and I revived."  From Experience Through Consciousness: "One morning in 1982, while brushing his teeth, Sanit Tahnarat passed out for reasons unknown.  He saw his own body, unconscious on the floor.  He saw clouds approach him, and he was able to take hold of one.  He found it was as hard as a stone.  He climbed onto it, and sat down.  The cloud carried him up to one of the heavens.  He saw it filled with diamonds and jewels.  He moved up to another heaven, and saw that it had people dressed like angels.  He wanted to see more, so he climbed up the clouds until he came to another plane (a level of existence).  There were no people there, just spiritual lights.  As this happened, the cloud disappeared, and he fell to earth.  When he hit the ground, he revived and found someone doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him."  This last was provided by Dr. Dhebhanom Muangman, President of the Bangkok [Thailand] Institute of Psychical Research, concerning a 58 year old U.S. educated female university professor.  "NDE (near-death experience) began in her kitchen as a cobra bit her when she reached down to turn on the propane that fed her stove.  Patient was put in a coffin which was placed in a Buddhist temple.  She remained there for three days before reviving.  Her NDE began with an autoscopic (the perception of oneself as an external object) OBE (out of body experience).  She then found herself in front of her house.  Two men in western clothes appeared and told her to get up.  They said they wanted to take her for a walk.  She looked back and found that the house had disappeared...After her tour was over, she revived, and began to beat on the lid of the coffin.  The monks in the temple ran away, frightened (filled with fear or dread), thinking that she was a ghost.  One of her family members opened the coffin, and let her out."  back to top 

Coming from the east and the west.  A problem within organized religion is a doctrine of exclusion (the state of being shut or kept out).  You must believe their way - you need to confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.  This means that if Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or no religion don't do this, they will be locked up forever.  American Evangelicals look upon themselves as the Lord's despised (to dislike strongly) few.  The method is but one way to connect.  It is not the only way.  "Because that which may be known is manifest (readily perceived by the senses) to them (people), for God has showed it to them.  For the invisible (not readily seen or noticed) things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen [in nature], so they are without excuse (from Romans)."  The Buddhist monk, living out in the middle of nowhere in Tibet, can connect through nature.  Evangelicals miss a statement in Revelation which says that all "nations, kindreds (tribes) and tongues (languages) stand before the throne".  Meaning, anyone who connects to the spirit of the God of the universe gets paradise at death - a doctrine of inclusion (the state of being included - reaching out with love and understanding).  So, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or no religion whatsoever, do not have to convert to Protestant Christianity to make heaven.  Organized religion should be there to help as a means to an end (something done only to produce a desired result).  A connection can be made outside of organized religion as well as in.  "They shall come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham,. Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the children of the kingdom (the Lord's despised few) shall be cast into outer darkness and there shall be weeping and gnashing (grinding together) of teeth (from Matthew)."  The Lord's despised few may end in outer darkness.  From Changes in Religious Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices Following Near Death Experiences - An Australian Study: "They say if you're not a Christian none of you will be able to come in through the eye of the needle (a loop on a sewing needle in which thread passes through), and all that sort of thing.  And I think, well, I went up there and I saw it (a light - crystal-clear and brighter than the sun) and I certainly wasn't a Christian at the time.  So how do they know? back to top

wings

A rotten system.  Due to a rotten (suffering from decay) system (a set of detailed methods, procedures and routines), ministers in the U.S. are saying, "We have fallen away (a total desertion or departure) from God."  American evangelist Rick Joyner served in the U.S. Navy until 1970.  Sometime during the '70s, he "found out there is a God."  He founded MorningStar Ministries in 1983.  By the mid '90s, Joyner was president of MorningStar publications.  He wrote an article, The Hordes of Hell Are Marching, concerning a realization (the act of becoming fully aware) he had sometime in 1995.  "The most shocking part of this 'vision' was that this horde (a large unorganized group) was not riding on horses, but on Christians.  Most of them were well-dressed, respectable, and had the appearance of being refined and educated.  These were Christians who had opened themselves to the powers of darkness to such a degree that the enemy could use them and they would think that they were being used by God.  Trailing behind these first divisions [of demons] were a vast multitude of other Christians who were prisoners of this army.  They were all wounded, and were guarded by little demons of Fear.  There seemed to be more prisoners than there were demons in the army.  Above the prisoners the sky was black with vultures (entities who habitually prey upon others) named Depression.  These would land on the shoulders of a prisoner and vomit (to discharge the contents of the stomach through the mouth) on him.  The vomit was Condemnation.  When the vomit hit a prisoner he would stand up and march a little straighter for a while, and then slump over (to collapse and fall forward), even weaker than before.  Even worse than the vomit from the vultures was a repulsive (causing intense displeasure or disgust) slime (a slippery or sticky mucous substance) that these demons were urinating (to discharge a yellowish liquid waste material produced by kidneys) and defecating (to pass solid waste from the body) upon the Christians they rode.  This slime was the pride, selfish ambition, etc. that was the nature of the division they were a part of.  However, this slime made the Christians feel so much better than the condemnation that they easily believed that the demons were messengers of God (those who spread God's truths), and they actually thought this slime was the anointing of the Holy Spirit." 

According to what the Reverend Morris Tipton stated in the summer of 2017, church leaders "are selling their churches to land developers (conversion of property into) who are turning them into restaurants and bars and condos (an apartment building of which units [set of rooms] are individually owned) and apartments."  This is because organized religion has failed in its core (a central and often foundational part) mission, being bogged down (prevented from making progress) in the trivial (unimportant details), as it attempts (to make an effort to achieve or complete something) to live its 20th century Christianity, in the 21st century.  The church itself, and the church system are different.  The church itself is eternal.  "Upon this rock I will build my church (from Matthew)."  The church system is rotten (having undergone an organic - fundamental - breakdown).  "In my Name you have done many wonderful works (beautiful buildings, massive programs), depart [to eternal prison], you who victimize (exploiting those who struggle, pronouncing a curse, molesting a child, lying about the poor - from Matthew)."  American organized religion may preach a prosperity gospel - promising that if the faithful donate (to make a present of) financially for their belief, by giving to the church, God will reward them with material wealth (goods and services that we can see and touch).  This is a fantasy inside a delusion wrapped in a tissue of lies (a story or report that is completely false).  Kate Bowler is an assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel.  "On a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor's assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer.  The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder (a small sac-shaped organ beneath the liver in which bile is stored), but by a massive tumor (an abnormal mass of tissue).  I am thirty-five.  I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small.  I sank to my knees and cried.  I called my husband at our home nearby.  I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. 

"I am a historian of the American prosperity gospel.  Put simply, the prosperity gospel is the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.  I spent ten years interviewing televangelists with spiritual formulas for how to earn God's miracle money.  I ruined family vacations by insisting on being dropped off at the showiest (given to excessive outward display) megachurch (a church having 2000 or more people in average weekly attendance) in town.  If there was a river running through the sanctuary, an eagle flying freely in the auditorium or an enormous, spinning (rapid or whirling motion) statue of a golden globe (the earth), I was there.  The modern prosperity gospel can be directly traced to the turn-of-the-century theology of a pastor named E.W. Kenyon, whose evangelical spin (a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event) on New Thought taught Christians to believe that their minds were powerful incubators (designed to accelerate growth and success) of good or ill.  Christians, Kenyon advised, must avoid words and ideas that create sickness and poverty.  The prosperity gospel holds to this illusion (deceptive appearance) of control until the very end [of life].  If a believer gets sick and dies, shame (a feeling of guilt) compounds the grief.  Those who are loved and lost (die) are just that - those who have lost the test of faith (common trials caused by hard times, wherein a person is to overcome fear and a sense of hopelessness).  In my work, I have heard countless (too numerous to be counted) stories of refusing to acknowledge that the end had finally come.  An emaciated (wasted away physically) man was pushed about a megachurch in a wheelchair as churchgoers declared that he was already healed.  A woman danced around her sister's deathbed shouting to horrified (greatly upset and shocked) family members that the body can yet live.  There is no graceful (pleasing or attractive, characterized by an elegant) death, no ars moriendi (the art - something created with imagination and skill - of dying), in the prosperity gospel.  There are only jarring (a harshly unpleasant or perturbing effect on one's nerves) disappointments after fevered (displaying an excessive degree of nervous excitement) attempts to deny its (death's) inevitability (sure to happen - unavoidable). 

"I am well aware that news of my cancer will be seen by many in the prosperity community as proof of something.  I have heard enough sermons about those who 'speak against God's anointed' to know that it (the punishment) is inevitable, despite the fact that the book I wrote about them is very gentle (New York Times, February 13, 2016)."  The woman stepped on too many toes (to upset a person by getting involved in someone else's business, problems or situation) in her expose (to reveal the truth about a situation) on "following Christ for loaves [of bread] (Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan)".  Someone within organized religion retaliated (do something bad to someone who has hurt you) against her by pronouncing a satanic curse.  The book came out in 2013.  Two years later, she had the cancer.  Grace Halsell, who worked in the White House as a staff writer for President Lyndon Johnson for three years, wrote a book called Forcing God's Hand, copyrighted in 1999.  In the book, she postulates (suggests, posits or proposes) a subtle (difficult to perceive) satire (humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule) against the church rapture doctrine.  One year later, 2000, she died.  Her death was attributed (regarded as being caused by) to complications of multiple myeloma (a cancer of the plasma - the watery part of blood which contains blood cells).  In a small rural (characteristic of the countryside) town Assembly of God church, a mother divorces a father.  She came to the church, he did not.  She, the church member, initiated the divorce and moved to another state in the U.S., with a large financial settlement.  The teenage son in the small rural town had concern (anxiety or worry - to make someone nervous) as to whether the minister in that church was involved in tearing up (rend, rip or mean to pull apart) his family, as it seemed "fishy" (causing doubt or suspicion) to him.  A few months later, he died in a freak (a strange, abnormal event) vehicle accident on a gravel road near the family ranch - skewered (insert a long pin of wood through meat) by a tree branch that thrust (a sudden or violent lunge with a pointed weapon) through the windshield as the son ran the vehicle off that county road.  A parishioner (person who attends church) of that church commented, in a slight sinister (giving an impression that something harmful occurred) tone: "There was a purpose in it." 

More co-incidences (a condition of coming together in space or time)?  There are too many "co-incidences" of bad things happening to people who question organized religion, that it smells incredibly (so extraordinary as to seem impossible) evil.  On a more positive note (with an optimistic tone or good news), Lisa Miller relates (explains, tells) in her amazing (startling impressive) book, Visions of Heaven: "In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about heaven in metaphors (figurative language - simile).  It is a field that the farmer sows (plants).  Its properties are as mysterious as a mustard seed or the yeast in dough.  It is as wide as a fishing net, as bountiful as a wedding banquet.  Jesus uses other, more cryptic (difficult to understand) comparisons as well.  Heaven, He says, is like a merchant looking for pearls, a king settling accounts, a landowner who hires men for his vineyard.  With these parables (short stories that illustrate a moral attitude), Jesus seems to be saying that heaven is a place both known and unknown, like this world, but unlike it - a place of love and justice, big enough to accommodate (to make or have room for) all the souls of the world.  He is unmistakable on the question of the poor - it is easier for them to gain heaven than the rich, He says, who will find it harder to get in than a camel trying to fit through the eye of a needle.  He advises followers not to hoard (to put something of value in a secret place) wealth on earth.  'Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,' he says, 'where neither moth nor rust consumes.'"  In a certain town a local Kmart store does very little business.  So minimal (being the least in amount), it is finally sold to Home Depot, which tore everything to the ground and build back from scratch (from the very beginning).  A concept of a multi-faceted (having many different aspects) store was not being torn down, just this one store that did not work. 

So it is with the church - the old system should be scrapped (rejected or discarded).  This has been done before.  The Jerusalem church system (the Early Church) was built to withstand persecution (punishment or harassment usually of a severe nature) from the Romans and the Jews.  The European church system (post-500 A.D.) was developed to Christianize pagan (people who worship nature and the earth) Europe.  Different times call for different solutions.  A goal would be to tear the old system down by 2025 and have a new one built by 2050.  For almost 2000 years, the church has lived a horse and buggy religion, i.e. the babe in the manager.  In the 21st century, it is an era of the horseless carriage, a digital age (an information age - a time period beginning in the 1970s with the introduction of the personal computer and subsequent technology) leading to the End of Days.  A move toward reform (to improve by removing or correcting faults) is glacial (very slow) at best.  Organized religion, especially in the United States, could become more humanitarian (marked by compassion, sympathy or consideration) more often, like this Sister: "In Gulu, Uganda [Africa], Sister Rosemary has made it her mission to provide with an orphanage (a place where children whose parents have died can live and be cared for) a home, a shelter for women and girls whose lives have been shattered (to bring to a complete end the physical soundness, existence, or usefulness) by violence, rape and sexual exploitation (to take unfair advantage of - Forest Whitaker, a producer, actor and director)."  Instead of the church loathing (to dislike greatly and often with disgust or intolerance) change, it could look upon it as an adventure (an exciting or remarkable experience) akin (similar or related) to the Louis and Clark expedition.  In 1804-6, these were the first Americans to cross overland (by, on, or across land) from St. Louis, Mo., to the Pacific coast - going where no Caucasian had ever been before.  To show that the church could be open to a new system, one only need look at the Southern Baptist Convention...and a theologian (a specialist in the study of religious faith). 

John Davies, in Evangelism, Scandals and Christian Indifference: "The overwhelming (extreme, great) majority of Southern Baptist church members give little or no sign of spiritual life, Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla. stated during the 2001 Southern Baptist Founders Conference, July 17-20, at Asbury College in Wilmore [Kentucky], reported by the Baptist Press on July 24, 2001.  As evidence of this jettisoning (junking, removal or riddance) of regenerate (spiritually reborn or converted) church membership, Ascol cited from the SBCs [year] 2000 church profile and a study conducted by the North American Mission Board which showed that 1) SBC churches totaled 15.9 million members but only 5.5 million are in total attendance (the number of people present) on any given Sunday morning, 2) beyond Sunday morning, only one member in ten takes part in further church activities and 3) less than one of every ten persons who make decisions through the evangelistic efforts of Southern Baptist churches is active in the church one year later."  Barbara Taylor is a well known theologian.  Yet according to an April 28, 2014 issue of Time: "Taylor has always inhabited (to be present in or occupy in any manner or form) the edge of mainstream Christian spirituality.  In 1996, a Baylor University survey named Taylor one of the 12-most-effective preachers in the English-speaking world...Like many Americans, Taylor may have lost the church, but she is far from faithless.  Taylor writes, 'The one thing most emerging (to become manifest - rise from an obscure position) Christians will say is that the faith they inherited (to take or hold a possession) from their elders is all worn out (tired, exhausted).'"

The church's conduct (mode or standard of behavior) over the past forty years reminds (to cause to remember) an individual of the church 500 years ago in Europe, when it was sending missionaries to the New World while at the same time burning heretics (a dissenter from established religious dogma) and witches (a person believed to have often harmful supernatural powers) at the stake (a post to which a person is bound for execution) in Europe.  Especially in the United States, when organized religion reaches out all over the world, the local (neighborhood) church in isolated incidences (rate of occurrence) rapes (an act or instance of robbing or despoiling - pillaging to strip of belongings) the poor in America.  OneHope is an example of organized religion "sending missionaries to the New World".  That is - benefiting (something that is advantageous or good) different parts of the world in the 21st century.  "OneHope is working in 125 countries to provide a message of hope to children and youth through culturally-sensitive media (a system of communication through which information is spread to a large number of people).  OneHope was founded in 1987 by former missionary and Life Publishers President Bob Hoskins.  That year Hoskins was asked by the Minister of Education in El Salvador to provide Bibles to the country's 968,000 school children.  Instead of Bibles, he delivered the Book of Hope - an interactive, Bible-based publication customized for the special challenges and interests of the country's children and youth.  By [the year] 2000, the Book of Hope had been shared not only with children in El Salvador but also with children in Haiti, Africa and Eastern Europe (Wikipedia)."  Another.  Hillsong Church combines values of a rock concert and the community of a megachurch (a church with an unusually large congregation).  "The church has become a phenomenon (a observable fact or event), capitalizing on, and in some cases, shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism, but also in Christian youth culture.  Hillsong is even more remarkable because the target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion (no longer generally liked by people - unpopular).  Hillsong has churches in Amsterdam [Holland], Barcelona [Spain], Cape Town [South Africa], Copenhagen [Denmark], Kiev [Ukraine], London, New York, Paris and Stockholm [Sweden] (International New York Times, September 4, 2014)." 

Mitch Albom is an author of books such as The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  Since the Haiti earthquake of 2010 he has worked with displaced (removed from their parents and immediate family) Haitian children.  His own words: "I first arrived just weeks after the 2010 earthquake.  It look like Armageddon (a usually vast decisive conflict or confrontation).  Bloodied people walking the street.  Makeshift (taking the place of one that came before) hospitals.  The stench (a very bad smell) of death wafting (to move lightly through the air) from beneath collapsed shops and houses.  So, with several colleagues (an associate in a profession), I vowed to help the place.  We returned to Detroit and recruited (providing a job) plumbers, electricians, roofers and contractors for one trip, then many more.  Calling ourselves the Detroit Muscle Crew, we helped build the mission's first real bathrooms, showers, full kitchen, dining room and eventually a three-room schoolhouse.  A charity I run, A Hole in the Roof Foundation, raised all the money for these efforts.  Nine months after the earthquake, it took over daily operations.  The name was modified to the Have Faith Haiti Mission, and we began the process of taking in new children.  The earthquake, by most estimates, created tens of thousands of orphans (children whose parents have died), and many landed in hastily assembled tent cities, meant to deal with the immediate refugee crisis.  To this day (January 12, 2015), we take in children from these camps, five new kids each summer, who will live, play and learn with us until they are eighteen and, hopefully, graduate our program with the equivalent of a U.S. high school education ready for college here or in America.  "When they arrive at our doorstep, they are often malnourished (supplied with less than minimum amount of the foods essential for sound health and growth), suffering skin rashes, uneducated, abused.  Five years after the earthquake, Haiti still needs everything.  Its government is in another crisis.  Poverty and illiteracy (the state of being unlearned) remain rampant.  I have always believed that outsiders can't fix this country.  But they can fix a tiny part of it."  This is while some within organized religion in the United States pronounce a ritual curse on the needy (a person needing emotional support) within their midst (close to members of a group).  The failings (weaknesses or problems - shortcomings) within the system have produced this - "Religion isn't for everyone, and it's understandable given all the terrible (very shocking and upsetting) news, that many people drift away (slowly or gradually lose interest over time).  A recent Pew study found that nearly 40% of Americans under age thirty report no religious affiliation (connection with an organization).  The 'millennials' (a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) seem to be the least religious bunch in American history.  They're known as religious nones, because when given a list of possible denominations and faiths, they checked a box called 'none' (Monique Parsons, religion reporter for National Public Radio, in the Cate Bulletin, Fall 2014)." 

After the death of Billy Graham, American evangelicals were caught in their bigotry (intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself).  "In the wake (aftermath) of Graham's death at age 99 on February 21 comes discord (disagreement between people).  His prodigal (characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure) firstborn (first to be born) son has risen heir (continuing the legacy of a predecessor) to his religious empire (a literal theocracy).  And yet it is difficult to imagine most anything that Franklin Graham says [as] coming from the mouth of his father.  The elder Graham rose to the heights of religious power in America by uniting evangelicals after a fundamentalist (relating to or advocating the strict, literal interpretation of scripture) crisis in the early 20th century.  His son has risen to prominence (the state of being easily seen or well known) by embracing (accepting or supporting willingly and enthusiastically) the divisions (disunities, conflicts or alienations) of our time (era, age).  It is not just outsiders (persons who do not belong to a particular group) who know that the house of Graham (a family, especially a large group of people who are related) has entered a new era (period of time) of division.  The difference between father and son is impossible to ignore, even for those who love Franklin most.  'Daddy's style was so gentle, maybe not in the beginning, but loving and warm,' Franklin's sister Anne Graham Lotz told Time in 2016.  'You think of Daddy speaking at the National Cathedral after 9/11,'  she said.  'That is Daddy, and Franklin is just not [like] that.'  The fractured (cracked or broken) Graham legacy (things received from an ancestor) is about more than just the first family of American Christianity.  The Grahams represent the state of evangelicalism in the U.S., pulled apart (destroyed, trashed or wrecked) by the extremism (beliefs that most people think are unreasonable or unacceptable) of the day.  Without their unifying (bring separate parts of something together, so that they are one) senior statesman (an experienced religious leader, who is no longer working within organized religion), American evangelicals today are fighting over politics, the President (Trump), Islam, women's leadership, same-sex marriage and what the very basics (essential facts) of Christian witness (sharing the faith) should be (Time, March 12, 2018)."   back to top

 A new system.  The present church system, overall (relating to the whole), is obsolete (having passed its time of usefulness).  From autumn 1977 through autumn 2017, organized religion, with exceptions (a situation in which a rule does not apply) such as have been aforementioned, has been joyriding (conduct or action resembling a ride taken for pleasure, especially in disregard of cost or consequences).  The transition (passage from one state or stage to another) into this period of time could be from 1972-1977; transition out - 2017-2022.  This is the blackest period in church history, ever (at any time).  Approximately 3% of the church world spends its time damning thousands of innocent souls to eternal prison.  The rest of the church world simply looks the other way (deliberately ignores wrongdoing by others).  In the Middle Ages, for approximately 150 years, about 3% of the church went on Crusades killing thousands of innocent people,  The rest of the church world did not participate (take part, share), but looked the other way.  Sending someone to prison forever is ten times worse than only killing them.  If a person would study the Crusades in depth, they would find that 3% is basically an accurate amount.  Islam does what the church did 600 years ago in this present day - about 3% go on "crusades" - jihad - against western civilization and most of the rest of Islam looks the other way.  So, if the church wishes to regain some relevance (relation to the matter at hand - the fact or state of being pertinent, relevant or appropriate) in the 21st century, it will have to scrap (abandon or get rid of as no longer of enough worth or effectiveness to retain) the old system and get a new one.  It is like a car engine - the engine block (the metal casing containing the piston chambers of an internal combustion engine) is intact, but it has to be rebuilt.  In other words, the church itself is intact (untouched especially by anything that harms or diminishes) - having been around for almost 2000 years - it just needs a new system.  It could show with a logical and scientific analysis (separation and identification of parts of a whole), for instance (as an example), why the planet has less than 400 years left (remaining) - due to issues such as global warming, pollution, over-population, depletion (amount by which something is lessened. diminished or reduced) of natural resources and, of course, the nuclear arsenal (place where military arms are stored). 

General Douglas MacArthur made a radio address to the American people, September 2, 1945, at the close of World War II.  "We have had our last chance.  If we will not devise some greater and more equitable (marked by justice, honesty and freedom from bias) system, Armageddon will be at the door.  The problem basically is theological (moral righteousness from a religious perspective) and involves a spiritual recrudescence (becoming active again) and improvement of human character that will synchronize (occurring or existing at the same time) with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years."  This was stated over seventy years ago.  In July 1955, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto was released, a document signed by Betrand Russell, Albert Einstein and eight other prominent (widely and popularly known) scientists.  "Here, then is the problem which we present to you, stark (absolute, rigid) and dreadful and inescapable - shall we put an end to the human race or shall mankind renounce (give up formally - relinquish) war?  We appeal, as human beings to human beings - remember your humanity, and forget the rest.  If you can do so, the way lies open to a new paradise - if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."  This was written over sixty years ago.  Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D., a former scientist of Los Alamos Laboratory, wrote this January 8, 2003.  "Scientists and engineers have built thousands of weapons of unthinkable destruction and they still continue to design new weapons for state terror (acts of terrorism conducted by a nation against foreign targets).  State violence, rather than terrorists, will lead our world into unthinkable agony (intense pain of mind or body) and soon after, into extinction unless we soon match our knowledge and power with responsibility."  Dr. Jeffry Boutwell, executive director of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, wrote this June 19, 2005.  "Time is running out if a nuclear catastrophe is to be averted (avoid, prevent, stave off).  Political solutions are urgently needed to resolve those conflicts that either spawn (bring forth, generate) international terrorism, or increase the risk of the use of nuclear weapons or other WMDs, or destabilize the non-proliferation (preventing the spread of nuclear weapons) regime or all of these thing combined.  Global security must be based on international institutions and the rule of law rather than on unilateral (done or undertaken by one party) action and an excessive reliance on military force."  Maybe organized religion could tie this into (work on vigorously) the End of Days.  Dwelling on a fantasy (to form a mental picture) of the "Antichrist" (the Great Atheist), has no value (usefulness or importance).  The church has all this data (factual information) concerning what is to come, and should make use of it. 

"Clerics are curiously nervous of mentioning heaven, despite its potential as a crowd-puller (something that attracts a large audience), especially with the elderly.  There is no mention of hell from the pulpits (the preaching profession) of mainstream (prevailing direction of influence) churches.  Yet the pews (benches that are placed in rows in a church) are emptying at a ferocious (extremely fierce and wild) rate in the developed world (Heaven, Peter Stanford)."  One thing for organized religion to do would be to examine near-death experiences and relate (give an oral or written account in some detail) a more empirical (based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience) concept of paradise and eternal prison.  Also, instead of dwelling on (repeating negative thoughts over and over) the less than 5000 dead over the past twenty-five years in the United States due to Islamic extremists (people who hold fanatical political or religious views), the church, in America, could address the opioid explosion.  Opioids can be hydrocodone, oxycodone or fentanyl, among others.  In 2015 alone: firearm deaths - 36,252; vehicle crash deaths - 38,300; drug overdose deaths - 52,404.  This from the National Safety Council and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In one year, this adds up to over 125,000 dead.  Straining out the gnat - extremists deaths, while swallowing the camel - firearm, vehicle crash and drug overdose deaths - by religious leaders who focus (center of interest or activity) on lesser matters, while completely ignoring the more important ones, can change.  President Trump has words of wisdom for anyone who has any desire to formulate (create or devise methodically) a new system.  "What imprint (strong effect or influence) will you leave in the sands of history?  What will future Americans say we did in our brief time right here on Earth?  Did we take risks?  Did we dare (have enough courage or confidence to do something) to defy expectations?  Did we challenge (an objection to something as not being true, genuine, correct or proper) accepted wisdom and take on established systems?  Or did we just go along with convention (a custom or way of acting or doing things, that is widely accepted and followed), swim downstream - so easily with the current and just give in because it was the easy way, it was the traditional way or it was the accepted way?  Remember this, nothing worth doing ever, ever came easy.  Following convictions (strong beliefs or opinions) means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right (Liberty University commencement speech, May 13, 2017)." 

In the summer of 2018, a boys' soccer team in northern Thailand went missing and was thought to be trapped (an unpleasant situation in which you lack freedom) in a flooded cave.  "With help arriving from across Thailand and other countries, this challenging mission (trying, succeeding, failing and trying again) needs something that has been missing right from the start (immediately as something begins) - a highly organized (planned and controlled on a large scale involving many people) and well-coordinated command center ("war room", a centralized operational location used by an organization) with someone in charge who has the necessary experience and abilities in emergency and disaster response (Bangkok Post, [Thailand] July 4, 2018)."  This was written as the boys and their coach were stilled trapped.  This challenging mission needs something that has been missing right from the start - a highly organized and well-coordinated command center with someone in charge who has the necessary experience and abilities.  This is a missing link (a thing necessary to solve a problem) that organized religion needs to latch onto (attach oneself to), if it wishes to survive (continue to exist).  "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice (use in actual situations) is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the steams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone that hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the steams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (from Matthew)."  Hanging on (holding tightly or clinging) to the old, antiquated (old-fashioned or outdated) system in the 21st century, is like a church building its house on the sand.  The old system simply needs to be discarded (get rid of as no longer useful or desirable), and a new system, built upon the rock, is to be developed (grow or change into a more advanced, larger or stronger form [to come together and make a particular order]).  Getting back on the rock entails (involves a necessary or inevitable effort) a lot of hard work.  back to top

 A glorious church.  "What is about to come upon the earth is not just a revival, or another awakening, it is a veritable revolution (a complete change - a brand new development with essentially new techniques).  The vision was given in order to begin to awaken those who are destined to radically change (different from accepted or traditional forms) the course (direction - onward movement), and even the very definition (making definite and clear), of Christianity.  The dismantling (come apart into separate pieces) of organizations and disbanding (cease to exist) of some works (internal concepts) will be a positive and exhilarating (exciting, galvanizing or inspiring) experience (The Harvest, Rick Joyner)."  Glorious means to achieve acclaim, distinction, renown, and/or repute - like an appearance of a rainbow that is in a cloud on a day of rain.  For this to happen, first organized religion must get back into the real world (a place in which one actually must live and the circumstances with which one actually must deal), then acknowledge that, in the past, they had opened the gates of hell one time too many.  The Foe (archenemy, adversary, antagonist, nemesis, assailant, attacker) came to foul (offensive to the senses) beliefs, trample (to inflict injury or destruction, especially contemptuously or ruthlessly) freedom, and in this not only must there be failure, but it can grant (to permit as a right) the church the greatest gift, a chance at rebirth.  The attitude toward the wreckage (the state or fact of being rendered nonexistent, physically unsound, or useless) the past should be - "We shall rise and renew, stronger and united."  During World War II, a period of drastic (acting rapidly or violently) change with D-Day, Stalingrad and etc., there was a ton (a considerable amount - abundance, bunch, plenty) of technological things that had not come along at that point.  So instead of allowing technology to work against organized religion today, make use of it. 

One thing the church could do is deal with some contemporary (happening in recent times) moral issues that need attention.  Many returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan turn to law enforcement for employment.  "[William] Thomas, a decorated narcotics investigator and a veteran of the New Jersey Air National Guard, tortured by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his [military] service in Iraq, had downed a fistful (an amount that can be held in one hand) of prescription sleeping pills with an entire bottle of Bermuda rum.  He collapsed onto his stepson's bed, calmly waiting to die.  This was the second time since returning from war and rejoining the police force that he had tried to take his own life.  In 2012, Iraq War veteran and Albuquerque police officer Martin Smith responded to a call about a suspicious black SUV.  Seconds later, he shot and killed the unarmed driver through the driver side window.  In court papers, lawyers for the dead man's family said Smith 'later told his co-workers that he blacked out and had a PTSD moment' (U.S.A. Today, March 30, 2017)."  More than 200,000 people from South Sudan live in one refugee camp in Uganda, Africa.  "Two of her five children died as Pauline Nyaluok navigated her way from war-torn (devastated and torn apart by war) South Sudan to this refugee camp (temporary shelter built for displaced persons who have fled their home country) in northern Uganda where she expected to be welcomed with open arms.  Uganda is celebrated around the world for its generosity toward those desperately fleeing violence.  Unlike other East African nations like Kenya, where refugees are restricted to camps, Uganda in the past gave refugees land to farm and build a home, plus free health care and education.  But a three-year civil war has sent 700,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing, many to their southern neighbor.  Refugees also are escaping violence in nearby countries such as Burundi.  That is putting pressure on camps in Uganda, which can't provide enough shelter, food, water and medical care, leaving the most vulnerable struggling to survive (U.S.A. Today, March 28, 2017)."  What can the church do to aid PTSD veterans - those who served America, and now need help? And turning to the plight (dangerous, difficult or otherwise unfortunate situation) of innocents, who are caught in someone else's stupid (not intelligent) war in Africa, what can the church do to alleviate (make a problem less severe and easier to endure) their suffering? 

The bombing of two churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday is appalling (inspiring horror, dismay or disgust).  "Islamic State claimed responsibility for explosions at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday that killed at least forty, including worshippers and police officers.  'All of a sudden everything went dark,' one eyewitness said.  The attacks constituted (made up or formed) one of the deadliest days of violence against Christians in Egypt in decades and presented a challenge to the authority of the country's leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who promptly declared a three-month state of emergency.  'I won't say those who fell are Christian or Muslim,' Mr. Sisi said in a speech shown on state television on Sunday night.  'I will say they're Egyptian.'  One attack on Sunday struck at St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Church in Alexandria, where the bomber blew himself up at the church gates as the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, led a Palm Sunday service inside.  The other struck in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, where the attacker slipped past security to the front pews of the church and blew himself up, turning a religious celebration of joy into a ghastly (horrifying and repellent in appearance or aspect) scene of bloodshed and death.  The Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Aamaq news agency, signaled in December its intention to step up attacks on Christians when a suicide bombing at a major Cairo church killed at least twenty-eight people.  In February, hundreds of Christian fled their homes in north Sinai after a concerted (mutually contrived or agreed upon) campaign of assassination and intimidation (discourage, restrain or silence) in the area.  The explosion in Tanta, about fifty miles north of Cairo, occurred at St. George's Church, where the authorities had already sealed the main door to prevent attacks.  The bomber managed to slip past security measures, including a metal detector, at one of the side doors, and blew himself up near the altar (a platform or table used as a center for worship).  At least twenty-seven people were killed and seventy-eight others injured, officials said.  Children, their parents and deacons - lay Christians who help with the service (formalized period of communal worship) - accounted for many of the dead. 

"Hours later, victims' relatives stood silently outside the city morgue (a place used for the storage or human corpses), waiting to identify and collect the remains of their loved ones.  The Rev. Daniel Maher, a priest who had been leading the Mass, was still wearing his bloodstained (stained with blood) white vestments (robe worn by the clergy).  The priest said he had not been harmed in the attack, but he lost his son, Bishoy, who was to get married later this year.  'What can I say?  Thank God,' he said in a cracking (going higher or lower, that a person cannot control) voice.  Next to the priest, a young woman sat on the sidewalk, sobbing (cry uncontrollably) as a group of women tried to comfort her.  'God, what did he do to deserve this?' she asked, bemoaning (expressing grief or sorrow) the loss of her own loved one.  The second attack occurred just over two hours later in the coastal city of Alexandria, where a suicide bomber tried to enter St. Mark's Cathedral.  Surveillance footage (close observation maintained over a person, by video cameras used for the purpose), later aired (exposed publicly) on a private Egyptian television channel, showed a man wearing a bulky (large and cumbersome in size) jacket being directed into a metal detector at the church gates, where he paused to be searched by a police officer.  A moment later, a giant blast (explosion or violent detonation) rang out.  At least seventeen people were killed including a district police chief and a police officer, and an additional forty-eight were wounded, according to the Health Ministry.  Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's ninety million people (The New York Times, April 9, 2017)."  These are moral issues the American Christian church really could get involved with.  This would be a switch (a change) from an American clergyman (religious leader) telling his congregation (persons gathered for religious worship) how he is planning to cut his hair - or his playing a "big man" (a male human being who does something that makes him feel superior to others) with the church ladies.  Time for the church to get its "head out of the sand" (unwilling to recognize or acknowledge a problem or situation) and enter the 21st century.  This alludes (make indirect reference) to an ostrich, a bird which is believed to hide its head in a hole in the ground when it sees danger.

An ancient prayer may be of use.  "O Lord God, when you give to your servants (people dedicated in helping others do their best at home, work, and in the community) to endeavor (to attempt by exertion of effort) any great matter (a subject under consideration), grant to us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same (not different), until it be thoroughly finished, which yields the true glory."  When done, people such as Ted Turner, an American billionaire, may have a change of heart.  "Turner told how he had been 'very religious' as a little boy.  'I was going to be a man of the cloth (pastor, priest, minister, clergyman, preacher).  I was going to be a missionary (a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work).  But the thing that disturbed (bothered, concerned, perturbed, upset) me is that my religious Christian sect (a religious denomination) was very intolerant (uncompromising, unforgiving or unyielding) - because it taught we were the only ones going to heaven.'  In his spiritual search, Turner said: 'Now I believe there may be one God who manifests (makes known through outward signs) Himself in different ways to different people.' (Maranatha Christian Journal, January 6, 2002)"  A veritable revolution (a brand new system) might get him, and others, interested in organized religion, again.  An old hymn (a song of praise to God) may be helpful.  "This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears - all nature sings, and around me rings, the music of the spheres (an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of the sun, moon and planets as a form of musica - the Latin term for music).  This is my Father's world.  He shines in all that's fair (pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming or flawless quality), in the rustling (to make a quick series of small sounds) grass I hear him pass (move, proceed, go).  Oh let me never forget - that though the wrong (that which is morally unacceptable - unfair or inadequate treatment of someone) seems often so strong, God is Ruler (one who rules with a supreme authority) yet."

There are already a few "birth pangs" (disorder and distress incident especially to a major social change) of a glorious church, a few of which have been touched on (to mention a subject quickly) under the topic: A rotten system.  "Christian Friends of Korea has been helping ordinary people affected by flooding, disease, malnutrition, and ongoing challenges in North Korea - Democratic People's republic of Korea or DPRK - since 1995.  Our organization provides ongoing support to more than thirty care centers including the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory, seven provincial tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis hospitals and nearly eighteen TB and hepatitis rest homes located throughout the geographical region - many of them in remote locations.  We regularly assist our supported TB and hepatitis care centers by providing developmental assistance - confirming the arrival, distribution and use of goods we send - and assessing current needs (a process for determining and addressing "gaps" between current conditions and desired conditions).  Most of our aid is targeted (select as an object of attention) to respond to the medical needs of patients.  Our aid includes - 1) food and medicine, 2) medical equipment and supplies, 3) agricultural support - tractors, greenhouses, seeds, etc., 4) bedding and blankets, and 5) clean water.  We are also involved in the renovation (restore to a former better state - revamping, repairing) of multiple health care facilities, solar powered water and lighting projects, water well drilling, greenhouse construction [and] medical staff training."  Samaritan's Purse does a lot of work, the world over.  "The death toll (the number of people who die in an accident, disaster, war, etc.) from back-to-back earthquakes [in Nepal, May 2005] surpassed 8000.  Some villages, such as Langtang Valley, were completely wiped out.  Samaritan's Purse immediately responded in the hardest-hit areas by distributing desperately needed relief supplies.  In the past two years Samaritan's Purse has transitioned (an evolution from one stage, form or style to another) from emergency relief to long-term recovery in Nepal.  Our staff is bringing physical relief and spiritual comfort through efforts such as 1) rebuilding homes and schools, 2) water, sanitation and hygiene projects, and 3) livelihood skills development.  [For example] before the earthquake, it was not unusual in Nepal for women and children to walk hours every day to fill water jugs (large bottles with narrow mouths for water) and haul the heavy jugs home in overwhelmingly (something that overcomes or frustrates) large baskets on their backs.  When the earthquake destroyed water sources in areas where water was already scarce, desperation increased among earthquake survivors.   Samaritan's Purse is providing clean, accessible (easy to reach) water in earthquake-affected communities.  In one village, our team built a collection tank (containers that hold liquids) around a natural spring.  'The tank is an enclosed chamber and is cleaner and safer for the people.  Their health has been improved,' explained Nikita, a Samaritan's Purse engineer in Nepal."  Residents (personal presence at some place) of Nepal are basically Hindu for religion. 

"A large percentage of the most recent refugees (a person who has left his or her native country and is unwilling to return) are from Syria.  In Syria, a more than four-year-old civil war between President Bashar al-Assad and various insurgent groups (people who revolt against civil authority), including the Islamic State, has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.  Other refugees are escaping violence in the nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.  More than one million refugees arrived in Europe by sea (by means of a ship or ships) last year.  The majority of them are simply seeking safety and the opportunities that Europe provides.  Samaritan's Purse has staff on five islands in Greece, in two locations in mainland Greece, and in Croatia (a country in southeastern Europe), working to provide relief to vulnerable (exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally) people.  In Greece and Croatia, we are focusing on providing shelter, clean water and sanitation, including heated shower containers and handwashing stations.  Our teams have installed flooring, tarps and heaters for winter shelters in Greece and are working to improve conditions within transit centers (transfer facilities serving transit buses and other modes) on a daily basis.  We're also working to distribute backpacks filled with food, hygiene items, ponchos, hats, blankets and other necessities.  We've distributed more than 59,000 backpacks.  In Greece, we're providing refugees with Wi-Fi and phone charging stations so that they can stay in contact with their families while they travel.  We're also distributing pre-paid debit cards (cards issued by financial institutions that are pre-loaded with funds) to vulnerable women and families so that they can buy the items they need most."  These are Muslims.  "On Friday, March 17 [2017], the Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital received its 1000th patient on the Plains of Nineveh, Iraq.  Due to its proximity (closeness) to the frontlines (areas of potential or actual battle) of the Mosul conflict, the hospital is saving lives that would likely have been lost in transport to the nearest permanent medical facilities (something built for a specific purpose), up to two hours away.  'This is 1000 critical (severely injured) and dying patients,' said Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, emergency medical specialist for Samaritan's Purse.  'This is more Level-1 traumas (penetrating wounds to the chest, head or neck - the worst trauma level) in a matter of months than large hospitals in the United States would see in a year.'  Emergency Field Hospital arrived in Iraq on Christmas Day [2016] to treat those injured as a result of the fighting in Mosul.  Since opening in early January [2017], our team has performed more than 435 major surgeries to deal with wounds caused by mortars, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines, grenades and sniper fire.  Roughly 40% of patients admitted to the hospital have been women and children."  Iraq is a Muslim nation. 

And in the United States: "Southern Baptist Disaster Relief said it began sending teams to Texas before Harvey made landfall Friday (August 25, 2017) and will probably be in Houston 'for months to come'.  The group said it was assisting up to 60,000 people displaced by the flooding by providing hot meals, laundry services [and] hot showers.  It will ease (freedom from difficulty) Houstonians' return to their homes by helping to clear land, remove fallen trees and restore flooded homes (U.S.A Today, August 30, 2017)."  Likewise, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has work crews helping to pull mud out of houses, clear debris (remains of anything broken down or destroyed) such as fallen trees with chainsaws, and general home cleanup.  They also send out trained volunteers to help families deal with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, state aid programs and private insurance, so people can get back on their feet (get better after a disaster - survive and recover) as soon as possible.  From their webpage: "UMCOR provides humanitarian relief and disaster response in the United States and internationally.  Our efforts are targeted in places where natural disasters, war, or conflict have done so much damage that communities are unable to recover on their own."  And the Lutherans: "Lutheran Disaster Response's affiliate is actively present, collaborating (working jointly or together) with community leaders and officials to initiate (cause something to begin) the proper responses (correct replies), particularly the long-term recovery efforts (process of returning persons to a state of normality).  Together, we have a strong history of working with disasters in the Gulf Coast area.  Recovery efforts are expected to take years, and Lutheran Disaster Response will be there to accompany those affected through every phase (any stage in a series of events or in a process of development) of this disaster (community.elca.org)."  The Convoy of Hope, a non-denominational Christian organization, feeds people after natural catastrophes (a sudden event that causes very great trouble or destruction).  Before Hurricane Irma, there were three tractor-trailers (a large truck with a long trailer) stocked (supply of goods available) with food, water and sanitary supplies parked in Florida waiting to deploy (spread out and arrange strategically) to areas hardest hit. 

"Tens of thousands of residents of coastal Georgia are returning to the communities following evacuation from Hurricane Irma.  Many are finding their homes uninhabitable (impossible for people to live there) because of flood waters and downed trees on top of their roofs.  For these residents, temporary shelters (living accommodations not needed for very long) are opening up and down the Georgia coasts.  And their neighbor, MAP International, will be supplying several of these shelters with its Disaster Health Kits (DHK).  In Savannah today, MAP's Disaster Response Team distributed the DHKs as a shelter was being set up to receive people at Groves High School.  As the team wrapped up their work, the first families were beginning to arrive.  They saw each of six children carrying their own suitcase and their mother walking closely behind with her arms full of her own few possessions.  This family has been living in a shelter since last Saturday.  They looked tired and weary as anyone who has been through what that family has endured.  Thanks to MAP supporters, this family and many others will arrive at the Groves High School shelter today and will find a fresh MAP International disaster health kit awaiting them on their cot (small collapsible bed).  And tomorrow, the MAP Disaster Team will visit another shelter offering each family a measure of comfort in a truly difficult time (Martin Smith, Communications Director for MAP, September 13, 2017).  MAP stands for Medical Assistance Programs and is a global Christian health and relief organization.  "The Knights of Columbus has raised more than $1.3 million for victims of the disastrous flooding in Texas and in preparation to help those who may be in the path of Hurricane Irma.  The organization has taken a leadership role in assisting those affected by the historic flooding in and around Houston, Corpus Christi and an enormous swath (a broad strip or area of something) of inland and Gulf Coast towns and cities in Texas, distributing more than $150,000 for food, water and other necessities.  The Knights began reaching out to its members throughout the U.S. in Harvey's immediate aftermath (a period that follows an unpleasant event) and is now expanding it appeal to the general public, as Irma bears down on Florida and the Caribbean.  'We have seen incredible generosity from our members, and we invite others to join us in providing aid that is urgently (compelling or requiring immediate attention) needed,' said Knights' CEO Carl Anderson.  'The funds we raise will make a real difference in the lives of those already affected and those who are bracing for the worst.'  Consistent with the Knights of Columbus' long standing policy, 100% of all disaster relief donations are being used for current relief efforts and the needs that may arise from Irma.  Knights in Texas are already providing food and shelter to victims, helping people return to their homes, clearing debris and solving local problems such as providing upwards of 5000 meals in the Beaumont [Texas] area and 8000 in Ingleside [Texas] (ChristianNewsWire, September 7, 2017)."  This is what the American Christian church, all of it, could be doing, globally (involving the entire world).  "It is to the cross we must go (Joe LaGuardia, TC Palm, February 15, 2018)."  back to top

 Near-death revisited.  The following negative report is found in Margot Grey's Return From Death.  "I went into St. Giles Hospital in London, to have an operation.  Sometime while I was under the anesthetic I became aware that I was hovering (remain suspended over an object) above my body looking down at myself on the operating table.  I felt very frightened and began to panic.  I wondered why I was no longer in my body and thought I must be dead.  I next find myself looking down in a large pit, which was full of swirling gray mist.  There was a terrible wailing (to express sorrow audibly, mournfully or plaintively) noise, full of desperation.  Then suddenly I found myself rushing back through this dark tunnel and back in my body in the hospital bed."  Dr. George Rodonaia has a Ph.D. in neuropathology (a study of the nervous system).  In 1989, he emigrated (to leave one's country to live elsewhere) to the United States from Russia.  But, earlier, when he wanted to come to America in 1974, to pursue advanced research at Yale University, he said he "was very much a typical young research scientist and a petty skeptical one, too.  I was an atheist."  In 1976, when he was scheduled to come, he had an accident.  In his own words, recorded by Philip Berman in his book The Journey Home: "The KGB had no intention of letting me go.  I was waiting for a cab on a sidewalk in Tbilisi [Georgia] when I saw a car jump up on the sidewalk, avoid a few trees, and then head directly for me.  It all happened in an instant.  First I saw the car coming toward me, then I felt it hit me head-on (direct confrontation).  I estimate I flew about ten meters (thirty feet), landed face-down, and then the car ran over me again.  From that time on, I must have been unconscious, because I can't remember anything else about the crash or the crash scene.  The first thing I remember about my NDE (near-death experience) is that I discovered myself in a realm (sphere, domain) of total darkness.  I had no physical pain, I was still somehow aware of my existence as George, and all about me there was darkness, utter and complete darkness - the greatest darkness ever, darker than any dark, blacker than any black.  This was what surrounded me and pressed (crowded in, pushing) upon me.  Then, suddenly, I was in light; bright white, shiny and strong, a very bright light.  It was like the flash of a camera, but not flickering (a wavering or fluttering visual sensation) - that bright.  At first I found the brilliance of the light painful, I couldn't look directly at it.  But little by little I began to relax.  I began to feel warm, comforted, and everything suddenly seemed fine."  While all this happened, Dr. Rodonaia's body was taken to a morgue (a place where bodies of dead people are kept), and then they decided to do an autopsy (an examination of a dead body). 

"As they began to cut into my stomach, I felt as though some great power took hold of my neck and pushed me down.  And it was so powerful that I opened my eyes and had this huge sense of pain.  My body was cold and I began to shiver (shake involuntarily).  They immediately stopped the autopsy and took me to the hospital...Many people have asked me what I believe in, how my NDE changed my life.  All I can say is that I now believe in the God of the universe.  So I don't believe in the God of the Jews, or the Christians, or the Hindus, or in any one religion's idea of what God is or is not."  Two more from The Journey Home.  Andy Petro was seventeen in the summer of 1956.  He was swimming with some friends in Lake Michigan on the American side, when his legs began to cramp (a painful involuntary contraction of a muscle).  He sank to the bottom of the lake.  "After I landed on the bottom, the first thing I felt was all this muck (dark, highly organic soil) - the mud and the muck and reeds at the bottom of the lake.  I was down probably fifteen to twenty feet (five to seven meters), because I was not all that far from shore.  Maybe one hundred, two hundred yards (100-200 meters).  I was in a state of complete terror, and was very cold, because in the lake, the temperature really drops off fast."  He was badly cramped and could not swim.  "Then all of a sudden in my head I heard myself say, 'I need to rest.  There is no way I can go on.  I'm in so much pain, I need to rest.'  So somehow, on the bottom of that lake, I talked myself into letting go, and as soon as I let go, the next instant, I was in the tunnel.  The letting-go process sent me shooting down this tunnel.  It was dark and spherical (round), and as I entered it, I could see myself at the bottom of the lake.  So I knew that the Andy now entering the tunnel was the same Andy that was stuck at the bottom of the lake.  That connection was there.  Initially it was a bit frightening, but my first thought was, Boy, it sure is great to be warm.  I was not longer cold and I now longer felt any pain.  So my fear just lifted.  I could see this light at the far end of the tunnel feeding warmth to me.  I was the beginning of a euphoric (a feeling of happiness or excitement) feeling.  And the closer I got to the light, as I shot down this tunnel, the warmer I got."  His NDE finished when he was rescued (saved from danger) by friends.  Novelist (a writer) Katherine Anne Porter had an NDE in 1918 during an illness of influenza (a virus that causes fever and weakness).  "I had seen my heavenly vision and the world was pretty dull after that.  My mood for several years thereafter was that it was not a world worth living in.  And yet one has faith, one has the inner core of strength that comes from somewhere, probably inherited from someone."

Robert Helm had a cardiac arrest (a cessation of the heartbeat) during knee surgery on November 7, 1979.  "I was conscious of a tunnel with an intense light at the other end.  I was going toward it at a really blinding speed."  He came out of it onto a street.  "There was a band of angels singing.  I was a total agnostic (a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality is unknown).  I had no belief in angels or any kind of heavenly being."  He says further, "It is without doubt, the most wonderful experience I've ever enjoyed."  And concludes, pointing to our present environment, "This is hell (Maclean's Newsmagazine, April 20, 1992)."  The next three stories are from To Hell and Back, Maurice Rawlings, M.D.  "A retired and well-to-do accountant was a Christian-turned-cold following the death of his mother several years previously when her leg was amputated (to cut a limb from the body).  In spite of his most fervent (ardent, blazing, intense) prayers, she died, and he concluded, 'God is as deaf as a stone idol.'"  Later, he got into trouble.  "In the hospital elevator, I actually felt my heart stop and then I stopped breathing.  I remember saying, So this is it.  The next thing [that happened was that] I was looking down from the ceiling in the intensive care unit.  There was this young doctor in a white coat and two nurses bent over me.  The doctor was yelling get this and get that.  Next thing, I was going through this dark passage (a dark place that is mysterious and not fully known about).  I didn't hit any of the walls and at the other end I walked out into an open field.'"  He came back.  "'I felt as if I were hit and everything became dark.  A jolting (a hard coming together) power went through my body.  I opened my and I grabbed at the heart machine's paddles ("paddle" like electrodes that deliver a charge) before they could shock me again.'"  These experiences are not all positive.  "An example is the Sunday school teacher, a Baptist, who had three separate death experiences from three separate cardiac arrests.  The first of these clinical deaths (death as judged by medical observation as a cessation of vital functions) displayed snakes and fires and things." 

Church people do not seem to be immune (marked by protection) from bad things.  "An illustration is the case of Mr. Bartholomy in the nursing home.  'What is it you see?' I said.  Mr. Bartholomy was trembling and grimacing (a facial expression of disapproval or pain) at something behind me.  When I turned, I could see nothing there.  'They're coming again,' he repeated.  'Who's coming?' I insisted.  Mr. Bartholomy was then sitting bolt upright (vertical) for the first time in a week, but kept looking toward the window.  'They're prowling (roaming around in a predatory manner) around over there.'  Putting a hand on his shoulder, I eased him down and read his chart.  I could see that no drugs had been administered, there was no fever.  The chart indicated he was well educated, a Protestant, several grandchildren, but no family in town."  It seems safer to be an agnostic (a person without a definite belief about eternal matters), when dealing with death.  From an article in Psychology Today, written by Steve Taylor, Ph.D.  "Several years ago, I worked with a college tutor (a private teacher) called John, who had a heart transplant in 1992.  During the operation, he was surprised to find himself awake and alert, looking down on his own body from above.  He could see the surgeon and the nurses performing the procedure [to transplant the heart], and sensed from their behavior that there was an emergency - he could see them rushing around, trying to save his life.  He was also surprised to find that he could hear classical music in the operating theatre (a facility within a hospital where surgical operations are carried out - the operating room).  He felt himself floating further away from his body, in a darkness which felt strangely peaceful and welcoming.  Then he encountered (meeting without expecting or intending to) his father, who had died a few years earlier.  His father seemed surprised to encounter him and told him, 'You shouldn't be here - it's not your time yet.'  Then John felt himself moving back down towards his body, and lost awareness (knowledge or perception of a situation or fact) again.  The next thing he knew, he was awake in recovery [after the operation].  Shortly afterwards, he asked the surgeon, 'How come you were playing classical music in the operating theatre?'  The surgeon was amazed that he knew this, since he had been unconscious (not knowing, awake or aware) when they turned the music on." 

From Near-Death Experiences and Islam, written by Kevin Williams.  "Melvin Morse reported the following Muslim near-death experience in his book, Parting Visions.  'Mebruke is a thirty-year old Saudi Arabian living in New York City.  At the age of twenty she was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy when she became tired.  As she headed for shore, she realized she was too far out to make it back.  She began to struggle and swallow water.  Finally she slipped beneath the waves.  I went under [water] for the fourth time, and my body went limp and I wasn't aware of it anymore.  It was at this point that I saw a beautiful white light.  It was so bright and yet it had such a calming effect that the more I looked at it, the calmer I felt.  To this day I can't really say what that light was.  In my religion there are beings called angels who are made out of pure white light.  Maybe that is what I saw.  Anyway, while I was underwater, I head a voice say, YOU ARE NOT TO DIE LIKE THIS.  Suddenly I felt this energy shoot through me from my feet to my head, and at the same time I seemed to be propelled (driven, pushed, shoved or thrust) out of the water.  It was as if someone was physically bringing me out of the water, but I can swear there was no physical being there.  I was moving through the water, I don't know how else to describe it.  Before long a boat came, and a man reached over the side and pulled me out.  When he did that, I started to laugh because I was so glad to be out of the water.'"

Wan I, a Muslim from Malaysia, had an NDE in 1995, recorded by Jody Long and Jeffrey Long, M.D. in Nderf.  "As my family was Muslim, my father who was on my left was whispering in my ears the 'Shahadah' which goes: 'There is only one God', over and over again, which made me even more afraid because the 'Shahadah is only whispered into one's ear when close to the moment of death.  I cried even more.  I do remember uncle Maharram, my neighbor, coming to help, but I was already helpless on the floor.  Slowly that feeling of coldness began to creep up to my upper body to my chest, which slowed my breathing down even more and caused me to feel dazed (a state of mental confusion - haze, fog, swoon).  As it started to reach my entire body - I could barely feel my physical body anymore as everything was numb and felt like it wasn't even there.  My vision began to blur (cloud, fog, obfuscate) to gray, the slowly turned white, as I couldn't see anymore.  I was so scared and as afraid at that moment as I knew somehow that I was dying.  As my vision turned white, all I could hear were the voices around me, but slowly even my hearing began to fade - as that cold-numbness feeling began to creep up to my head.  At that moment, I could no longer feel I had a body anymore but somehow I was conscious of my surroundings.  For a few seconds, I saw myself from above, lying on the floor, I saw uncle Maharram on my left and my dad on my right, my mother near the sofa looking worried, but I kept on floating upwards and away.  For a brief second I saw the rooftop of my house.  I saw the housing area where I lived from above, and as I got higher, I could see some night clouds in the sky.  As I turned to face the direction to which I was being pulled, the moment I