WHAT IS A GOOD CHRISTIAN ?

This is a really tough one for me. For I am not a Christian, much less a “Good Christian.” In this time in history, the word Christian has undergone a miraculous change. No longer are those of the Catholic faith, the first Christian faith, considered Christians, but those of all of the Protestant denominations. I am not sure where Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Church of Latter Day Saints, etc. reside in what category.

I have now been told by the media and those who profess to be Evangelical Christians that there is a specific kind of belief that makes you a “Christian.” I can gather from their explanations that you cannot be a Democrat and be a Christian. I am sure that there are Democrats who would probably be surprised by that statement.

Good Christians do not believe in certain parts of the bible. For instance, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” is not part of the Christian faith. As an unbeliever, I was always convinced that both the old and new Testaments were pretty much agreed that was a standard for Jews and the followers of Jesus Christ.

Who then is left to lead these new “Christians?” I dug back into history and came up with guys like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wycliffe, or Huldrych Zwingli; they don’t seem to mesh with any of the modern evangelicals.

There also seems to be a split between some evangelicals and others. The split seems to rest with whether  one follows the Reverend Hagge and religionists like him and people who follow Joel Osteen or other T.V. evangelists. I cannot tell why this is, but it sounds something like what the Sunnis and Shia. There are also many smaller divisions that have sprung up since Mohammed died.

There are also quite a number of schools of jurisprudence in all of these streams. Does that sound familiar? Judaism also has many of these same attributes.

So what are the attributes of the “Good Christians?” I believe that since most of them guns and believe fervently in the second amendment that must be part of their ethos. Supporting politicians, who pretend to be god-fearing church going men? Do not believe in the separation of church and state. Believe that since they have a direct line to the almighty, his work is above the law.

According to the faithful, this country was founded by the faithful Christians. Among them Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and so on. That means that there is a specific kind of religion that rules our country. The current president embodies each of these principles. That is why he is so supported.

Judge Roy Moore is a hero because of his steadfast belief in the Ten Commandments, not the Bill of Rights. All of his actions, both past and present are guided by the good lord. Why even the Governor of Alabama supports him, even though she believes the non-believers who were sexually harassed by Roy Moore.

Of course, this is all very confusing to a non-believer. Sometimes, I am happy about that. I am kind of frightened by the group of Evangelical Christians who believe that the current President is the anti-Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

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BLACKBART The best site for fake news

 

 

Since this is our first publication, we will endeavor to bring you along slowly with just a bit of our most fake news items of the day. We hope that you will take everything we say seriously or not.

As reported in the media all over the world,  a fantabulus effort by the Trumpanick has given the United States the lead in interstellar travel. His highly developed intelligence and infallible memory has brought us to the brink of travelling to far off places in the universe.

The announcement by his press secretary Satch Zanders, was surprising since Donny Liddle Hands has not tweeted about this subject at all. His plans include a stop on the rings of Saturn, the planet Youranus and a hop skip and jump to Alpha Centauri.

This will not cost the taxpayers anything. It will be funded by both Guatemala and Panama. The foreign ministers of both countries disclaim any knowledge of this effort. However, the Prez says that he will get the money from them one way or the other.

In the world of foreign relations, the latest news from the Far East is that we are no longer interested in a nuclear threat from North Korea. An agreement has been made that the North will only use its nuclear weapons on South Korea. The President of South Korea was aghast at this declaration and hopes that this is all some misunderstanding or mistranslation.

The world of female genital grabbing is now at a point where old men, such as GHW Bush are now being accused of pushing his wheel chair into position to pinch rear ends. Further investigations into these matters goes as far back as the 1920’s and 1930’s. We now understand that Long John Dong, the famous character actor was an inveterate grabber. The granddaughter of Sewer Rat Barbie, a silent movie star, claims that her grandma swore that she would never be on a stage with that human grabber again. This was a climax of many years of harassing movements and phone calls.

Figures on the right, left and center of the political spectrum are now coming out of hiding and telling us all that this has been habitual all along. Although power is seen as the instigation of these activities, this reporter thinks that it is sexual and that the aim is sexual gratification that these folks can’t get at home. Many of their extra-marital hand motions lead to divorce.

Very recently, the Bush, father and son, have conspired to heap trash on our beloved President. In a new book called, The Meshugena, the Bushes excoriate the current President by claiming that he was not born in this country. They say that he was the love child of French singer Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier. They claim that after extensive investigation, they have, in their possession the actual long form birth certificate. This certificate states plainly that a male child was born in Clichy Hospital in Paris in 1946. The named mother is on the certificate is Edith Giovanna Gassion (the real name of Edith Piaf) and the named father is Jacques Clouseau (obviously a pseudonym of Maurice Chevalier).

The President promises to release his income tax forms for the past eight years, as soon as meaningful tax reform and actual repeal and replacement of Obamacare are accomplished. However, he will not release them until the IRS completes their audits.

LOOK PAST HIS WORDS

Human speech to express oneself does not matter anymore. Social media verbiage has nothing to do with what a person does or is going to do. We must look past his/her words to determine what a person is really going to do. Let’s take a closer look at what this all can mean in everyday life.

Schneck v. United States in 1917 clarified what free speech meant. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said (I paraphrase), free speech does not mean shouting, “Fire in a crowded theater.” That suggests that speech of any kind has some meaning. In this case, Mr. Schenck was handing out leaflets to draftees in World War 1 to avoid the draft. His actions occurred during World War I and was deemed to be dangerous to the war effort.

So then, free speech has some meaning for the courts. Sometimes, the courts do look past the words themselves and delve into the thoughts behind the words. This is true in many cases. If you are at a bar and get mad enough about someone and say, “I am going to kill you,” does that mean that you are planning to do so? The words are one thing, but the underlying feeling is another.

So the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do,” has no meaning any more. That was a saying that I heard all throughout my youth. It had a great deal of meaning to me. It avoided looking at a hypocrite straight in the eye and telling him/her off. How many times did an adult tell me in my teen years not to smoke because it would stunt my growth? All the time that the adult was smoking.

Now, I am very confused. When the talking heads say, look beyond the words to what the actions are, I lower my eyes and try to see that. I do not succeed. I have just heard a new thing that I am ruminating over. Someone just said that what a particular person is saying is just, “hyperbole.” What in G-d’s name does that mean? Will we now drag out “poetic license?” Is there no end to this foolishness?

Can you imagine a world where speech has no meaning? If someone says “white” and then does “black” is that the way humans operate. Can we be sure that words mean nothing, but we wait for actions? What if those actions never come? Is this all too confusing? It is to me, but maybe you understand it. Good for you.

WE GO TO COLLEGE

Every so often, Carol and I take a trip to a college with a bunch of students from Ridgeland Hardeeville High School in Jasper County South Carolina. Sometimes, we arrange for the trip ourselves and take our Jasper Gentlemen and Diamonds and Pearls. These are the two groups of young ladies and gentlemen that we work with during the year.

In some other instances, the trip is arranged through the guidance department or in past years, by the Gear Up program or other in school organizations. This time the trip was in the hands of the guidance department. They are exceptionally organized. The 44 students that we took were all seniors and some of them were in the groups that we work with.

The counselors, and there are three, have an itinerary that they distribute to all of the students. This document is extremely specific about times and places. The reason things were that way is because we visited three schools. Carol and I had trouble believing that we would actually visit three schools in one day having arrived at the first school and 9:30.As I looked at the itinerary, I was concerned that I would not even make it to the second school, much less the third one.

We arrived at Claflin University on time. Our bus driver, Mr. Washington was a pro at getting us to places on time and with little effort. Claflin is a private historically black university with a beautiful campus and a long history of successful graduates. If stability has any part in the success of an organization, Claflin has it. The President, a Dr. Tisdale, has been there for 34 years.

We were greeted by an interesting woman from the admissions office. She was to present to us, the process for admission and student life. Carol and I have seen well over 100 presentations at colleges and universities. We have never seen a presentation such as this. Ms. Payton was clearly expert at getting the attention of young people. Each point that she made was accompanied by gyrations, laughter emotion, dance steps and questions for her audience. The students were entranced by her.

They probably learned more in that 30 minute presentation about scholarship possibilities, student life and how to succeed in college, than they had known, or maybe will know from anyone else. She was at the same time loving, contrary, accusatory, accepting and many more emotions. Frankly, I was out of breath when she finished.

She then surprised us again, but telling us that she was going to be our tour guide for a while, until her Ambassadors (student guides) got out of their morning classes. That is exactly what happened. The guides were informative and supportive. One of them was a former student from Ridgeland Hardeeville High School. He knew many of the seniors from his time there and in the community. It was an advantage.

South Carolina State University is next door to Claflin. It is about twice Claflin’s size. It is the only historically black state college in South Carolina. We pulled up near the fine arts building. I was happy that we waited a while before the tour. I had texted some of our Jasper Gentlemen from last year. They both appeared at our gathering. It was so great to see them.

I believe, from what they said that they are both doing well. One of them is also involved in creating a new line of sports clothing. I never knew that when he was in high school. The other young man, Jamar, was particularly close to me. He was undecided about going to college until the last part of his high school career. His entrance in SC State was a wonderful accomplishment.

I asked him if he could speak to some of our gents who were worried about getting in to college and succeeding there. Jamar pointed about working hard, getting tutoring if you needed it, and going to class. He also said that you should get out of your room, make new friends, and get used to how things worked. You cannot imagine how proud I am of Jamar.

Our tour of South Carolina State University was long and warm. By that time, the sun was out in full force. I was wearing a sport jacket and Carol had a warm jacket on. It was kind of chilly in the morning, when we got up. Now it was in the middle 70’s and we began to roast.  The student guides were very informative and took us to a number of the dorms. Our group was very interested in how things worked. They found out about ID cards and how they worked along with the cash in your account to get meals or snacks. The student union was also a highlight of both schools.

By the time we finished with SC State, we were all ready to eat. We pulled up on the side of a Saxby’s (Southerners will know this place) and a Burger King. Most of the students had money to buy, but if they did not, someone gave them some. It was the first relaxation of the day, other than the bus ride.

We gobbled up our lunch and headed over to the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. Although we are very close to the Technical College here in Beaufort-Jasper County, we have not visited or had a tour. These folks at OC are really up on things. The presentations that we heard in the various areas were sparkling. Carol and I decided that these people could sell ice to the Inuit.

The various programs that we saw were forensics, computer technology, welding and robotics. Frankly, I would have loved to take the computer technology course myself. The instructors were very clear about the chances of getting jobs with the many certificates that you could come out of a two year course.

The school has memorandums of understanding with four year schools in the area. Their explanations of the programs were complete and understandable. They were right on target.

We left OC technical college with some hope that our students got as much out of it as they could. Some have even applied online already. Will follow their progress when we meet individually.

HOW STUPID DOES HE THINK WE ARE?

By this time, most of you have heard or read about Senator Bob Corker being critical of President Trump. His words are actually pretty scary. However, now that our world has been further divided, we can no longer be sure of how certain people perceive what is going on.

We have now been divided into even more groups. We now have liberals and conservatives, globalists and non-globalists, establishment Republicans, moderate Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and a world filled with immigrants, dreamers, non-white people, and the one percenters and on and on.

To say that I am confused would be to understate my feelings about things. I have just read an article that clarifies almost everything for me. The gist of the article is that Steve Bannon is very happy about Senator Corker’s rant about President Trump. He now has a cudgel to whip the entire establishment Republicans.

Since Corker laid out the scene that many Republicans in the senate feel the same way as he does, Bannon will now be able to blame the “establishment” for the lack of action on health care, tax reform and other high minded legislation.

Meanwhile, we await the sturm and drang that the President has promised to lay on the “little rocket man.” I am not sure what that means, but it does rattle my bones. Do people like Steve Miller, Bannon, and Jones really believe that brinkmanship with a deluded dictator will cure the ills of the world? Will ripping up the Iran agreement make the Middle East any safer?

I guess now I know what a globalist is. It is someone who does not want World War III to break out. Do these fragmentalists (my word) believe that they will change the course of our country by deluding their own followers for much longer? Yes, polls don’t always work, but most of the time they do. Unless, of course an election was “rigged” (I forgot who used those words) with the help of a foreign friend.

Having spent most of my adult life advocating and living with rural people, the same lack of understanding permeates our current government. The prejudice against rural people is long standing. The current crop in Washington is no different than those that came before. Their mantra is that rural people are dumb and you can put things over them.

No, they are not dumb. They were looking for someone to lift them out of the doldrums. They wanted someone who understood their needs. They wanted someone who spoke their language and could dethrone the liberals who had never understood them.

It is now dawning on many people in rural areas of our country that they have been hornswoggled. The new elitists speak a different jargon, but they still have the same view of rural folks. If anyone has ever seen the movie, “Face in the Crowd,” with Andy Griffith, you will know what I mean.

Watch it all of you deconstructers. You will have awakened a sleeping giant who will not look kindly at you and your confreres.

 

 

 

 

 

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AND THE FLAG

Colin Kaepernick will suffer most for his kneeling as a signal that violence against black men is not what this country was founded on. None of the people, coaches, players, owners in all of the sports leagues, entertainers, politicians,  will  suffer like Colin.

So we have a prejudice against those athletes, or rather black athletes who make a great deal of money for a few years and then retire. Is it true that we resent the money that they make, or the color of their skin? Take a look to see how long these people last in their chosen sport of mayhem and violence. I believe the tenure is about 3 years and all the players don’t make as much money as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton.

Should we now castigate Senator Corker who has said that it is only because of General Mattes, Secretary Tillerson and General Kelly that we have not descended into chaos? He may not have knelt, but he certainly disrespected our President. Is that equivalent to kneeling?

Let’s observe the chief female grabber’s history with the flag and the national anthem. When the Vietnam War occurred, Mr. Trump got 5 deferments. He never was in the military while our countrymen fought and died for their country. He was living off dad’s money and having a ball. If you are interested about his deferments go to http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/celebrity/deferments-helped-trump-dodge-vietnam and read how he managed to stay home and respect the flag and the national anthem.

Our country was built on disrespect. We disrespected the British for trying to make us in their own image. Our founding countrymen and women did more than kneel to not pay obeisance to the crown. They fought and died for their ideals.

The disrespect for the status quo took many forms. It led to the fight that women made against the hegemony of white males. The disrespect shown by Rosa Parks to think that she could sit anywhere on a bus or a lunch counter. The gall of Mohammed Ali to object to the Vietnam War and forsake his career as a boxer. We saw the disrespect of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to salute the flag in 1944 which led them to the Supreme Court and their victory in Barnette v. West Virginia.

We saw disrespect when we did not have a national anthem from the time we were formed until 1931, Although the lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote the words in 1814, the song went through many argumentative phases. Some critics saw the words as anti-British (which they were) while we were allies in WW I, and others, especially military bands played them as part of their repertoire of patriotic songs.

Another objection was that the song required a special voice with a very large range, maybe 4 octaves. To prove that the song could be song by sopranos, congress organized 4 sopranos to sing before congress to show that even a woman with a high voice could sing it. There was still objection and other suggestions. President Hoover signed the bill making in official in January of 1931.

The Philadelphia Flyers hockey team showed disrespect to the anthem by playing God Bless America at their games. They believed that playing that song by Kate Smith would bring them luck. It did as they won 2 straight Stanley Cups.

I have been to many sporting events in my almost 79 years. My experience at all levels of sports has shown me that there are people who just don’t stand for the anthem. Whatever their reasons, I have no idea. I always stand for the anthem. I have also sung the anthem for a number of sporting events. It always gives me chills. That’s my opinion.

I could see why certain people would not stand. They have their reasons. I understand that they have a right and maybe a duty to stand by their convictions. Our forefathers, our fallen military people, our great heroes in this country fought the battles to enable us to choose and carry out our convictions. Let it always be thus and in our minds, hearts and vision always see our flag unfurled. We are still the most wonderful country in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRINGING UP RASHEEM AND LARONDA

 

Rasheem and LaRonda are two students in a rural South Carolina County. A review of county statistics will show that county, all 699 square miles, is the third poorest county in the state. The median household income in 2014 was $37,715, while in its neighboring county, which is wealthy the median was $55,427. Since median means middle, 50% of Rasheem and LaRonda’s county earned less than $37,715, The two student’s families earn quite a bit less than that.

When you travel around the county, you are struck by the endless roads that seem to include only a forested area on both sides and a town or two with some stores and maybe a gas station. You must travel to the county seat to go shopping at the one supermarket, or travel to the other urban center at the bottom of the county.

Choices in any aspect of normal life are limited. There is one dentist in the area. He is a homer, comes from one of the towns. Other medical facilities such as a hospital are close to Route 95 near the bottom of the county. The rural districts that occupy both sides of Route 95 have been dubbed, “The Corridor of Shame.” That was also a documentary film done in 2007 to describe the area and the public schools.

We will have visited most of the 35 rural school districts in the state by the time you are reading this tome. There are many Rasheems and LaRondas in those areas. Having traveled to see away basketball games, we can point out that there are many similarities up and down these counties.

The school district personnel are well aware of the problems of both of these students. Rasheem lives with his grandmother. His parents have had other children and could not handle Rasheem too. So when he turned seven, they transferred responsibility for raising Rasheem to his maternal grandmother, Zelda. She provides all of the necessities of life, as much as she can, to Rasheem. She lives on a pension and social security.

Rasheem’s parents were divorced sometime after Rasheem went to live with his grandmother. They both have new families with new spouses or live-ins. Rasheem, is a senior in high school and like many kids his age, has dreams of getting away from home and making a better life for himself. He wants to go to college or join the air force or maybe become a racecar driver. He works part-time at a local Piggy Wiggly and has a used car he bought from an uncle. His earnings go to cover his car insurance, gas, and the $200 he must pay in South Carolina annual car tax. Anything left over covers his school clothes, which he keeps outgrowing. He plays basketball and hopes to win a scholarship. The coach thinks he’s good enough for a Division I1 school.

Rasheem has a 3.4 GPA (Grade Point Average) and he works hard to keep his grades up so he has become pretty good at time management. The one subject he struggles with is math. It’s not really the math that is so hard; it’s that he can’t always understand his math teacher. Rasheem’s school, like many South Carolina rural schools, is very isolated and very poor. They can’t afford to pay teachers well and there are no places for teachers from outside of the county to live, so when the high school principal tries to fill vacancies with certified teachers, she often needs to recruit teachers from India or South America, people looking for any job they can find in America. These teachers may know their subject matter, but their grasp of American English and even their understanding of American students is often lacking.

Rasheem’s guidance counselor has been trying to talk to him about his future plans since he was a junior, but it wasn’t until he hit his senior year that he paid much attention. The guidance counselor has a big case load and students with many different and sometimes pressing problems so, much as she tries to remind her seniors about college applications and financial aid forms, the burden of staying on top of all this is up to the students. Rasheem does not have anyone in his family who has been to college; in fact, his grandma did not graduate from high school.

Neither Rasheem nor his grandma are familiar with anything to do with college, but among the good choices he has made are his decisions to join the basketball team and ROTC. Colonel Manning and Coach Phillips are both very caring, capable individuals who have Rasheem’s best interest in mind. They have been trying to talk to him about what he needs to do to realize his dreams.

Rasheem is planning to take the ASVAB. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is a test you must take to get into the armed services. You need a score of 31 out of 99 to get into the Army and a 36 for the Air Force. He took the ACTs (American College Testing) last year and scored a 16 out of 36 on the test. He will need to bring that score up to somewhere in the mid 20’s which is not a score that many students get in rural South Carolina. While students from some of the advantaged districts come from families that prepare them for college, most rural parents are not aware of steps to take to help their children. Many of the parents have not gone to college and are not familiar with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms.

Students from families with college experience have been preparing for the transition from high school to college from the time their children were born. Their children have visited colleges and taken practice tests of both the ACTs and the SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Test). Rasheem has done none of that because he didn’t have a family helping him. This is only one challenge Rasheem is facing.

Other challenges are the fact that his high school does not have a high rating on the South Carolina state tests. They do not have a high graduation rate. Many of Rasheem’s classmates do not see education as a priority and so he competes for his teachers’ attention with disruptive students. Some of his teachers are burnt out from dealing with discipline problems and don’t provide the best possible instruction.

On days when school is in session, Rasheem eats a free breakfast and lunch at school. When he gets home, after ball practice and before work, his Grandma gives him supper. On weekends and over vacation breaks Rasheem doesn’t always get three meals a day. Even working in a grocery store does not entitle him to free food.

His family has been generous enough to help him pay for senior pictures and the prom, but he will not be attending the senior class trip because he can’t afford it.

LaRonda is a junior at another rural school district. This district is in a similar situation to Rasheem’s. LaRonda is smart, quick with a quip and talented in art. Her family situation is that she lives with her mom, younger siblings and grandmother in a rundown motel outside of the biggest town in the county.

LaRonda cannot work outside of school. She is responsible for babysitting for her younger siblings, ages 8 and 9, while mom and grandma work a shift at the local Dollar store and at a local Kangaroo Gas Station and convenience store. Between these two incomes, the family barely pays the necessary bills. Luxuries are never even spoken about. Clothes are obtained from the local Salvation Army Thrift Store. Sometime their church helps them out with food and necessary items.

Transportation is a real problem. LaRonda’s family has one car and it serves mom and grandma and LaRonda (when she has a chance to go somewhere). LaRonda would love to get involved in some extra-curricular activities. She has no way of getting anywhere without a car. She always wanted to be a cheerleader. She is capable of doing that and a number of other things. However, she will not be able to do any of them.

LaRonda has a boyfriend. She sees him in school, but will not allow him to come to her home. She is ashamed of her circumstances. Even though her boyfriend does not come from a wealthy background, she is sure that he would look askance at her surroundings.

When she is alone with her boyfriend at some other place that is private, or in his car, they have unprotected sex. LaRonda knows that she is taking a chance that she will get pregnant or come down with some form of STD. She does not seem to care. She would love to be pregnant and show off to her friends. She has no thoughts that the young man would participate in raising the child.

LaRonda is angry. She resents her mother for having more children that LaRonda needs to care for. Her friends advise her to “have it out” with her mother and say she is going to get an after school job so she can have her own money. LaRonda really wants to do that, but then she thinks, “what will happen to my little sister and brother when no one comes to meet them at the bus after school.”  She is caught and she knows it.

When grandma, who loves her grandchildren, is mad at one of her granddaughters she will yell, “Get your ugly face out of here!”  An unintended consequence is that LaRonda feels ugly. She is looking forward to being on her own so she can have her own money and do as she pleases. She longs for a time when she can pay for a hair weave. LaRonda is a pretty girl with a tremendous smile, but she thinks if only she had a hair weave she would feel good about herself.

LaRonda has a GPA of 2.5, but that is more because she is quiet in class and doesn’t cause her teacher any trouble than because she does her homework or does well on tests. She has no idea how she will earn the money she needs to be independent or how much it costs to pay for the basics. LaRonda’s definition of success is, “When you have enough to eat, know where you will be sleeping next week and can buy clothes for your children.”