Stock Up and Save Everything for Baby at Walmart.com!

Friday, March 20, 2009

the bitch list

well, this is more of a pet peeve list, but im calling this 'the bitch list' cuz i bitch about how ridiculous these topics are.

  • the environment-i am a notorious critic of global warming. i don't believe that it exists because NON-GOV'T FUNDED SCIENCE IS TELLING A DIFFERENT STORY!!!! we're getting colder (NOT warmer!), and carbon dioxide is much too heavy to float up to the ozone layer. while opposing it pretty much labels you the equivalent of a heretic, if you want to recycle and go 'green', thats fine BUT DONT BAMBOOZLE ME INTO DOING SO CUZ I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT!!!! but also, aside from the cost, 'green' technology is so new, that its worth and effectiveness hasn't even been proven yet!
  • mispronouncing 'illinois'-over my vacation, i was watching TMZ when one of their spazzes interviewed a hunky republican IL senator, and when the spazz said the name 'illinois', he included the 's' at the end of my state's name, so that it sounded like 'ill-in-oys', not 'ill-in-oy'. i wanted to strangle that spazz!! there is absolutely NO excuse for mispronouncing a state's name!! especially if you grew up in this country!! i commented about this on zen wizard's overrated list, but this happens alot with people not from the midwest. illinois is french, as the french dominated the midwest at one point in history, and they left their legacy in the names of the towns, cities, counties, and states (IL, detroit, des moines, joliet, du page (county in IL), fond-du-lac, lacrosse, etc).
  • teachers who talk about their personal lives in class-when i was in high school, i used to encounter this alot. i mean, its ok if you talk a little about your personal life to add some variety to class discussions, but dont get into the graphic details! i had a summer school health-careers teacher who told us that when her kids were born and as she was giving birth, the water from her amniotic sac sprayed the intern obstetrician who had come to help her give birth. stuff like that you just dont talk about in class. plus, she talked alot about her kids, and that really bugged me.
  • homework over vacation-the peeve says it all
  • tests after vacation-like the professor thinks anyone is actually gonna study over the course of the vacation. pffft, yeah right.
  • announcers who are boring as hell-i found this to be common in football games, but some nationwide general-sports announcers just plain suck.
  • obama-i am a conservative, and i do not approve of our current president's course of action because they are damaging the moral, and industrial fabric of our country. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! THE MAN IS NOT GOD!!! first he'll take away our jobs and give us a welfare state as well as saddling our future generations with mountains of debt. then, he'll take away our kids and have them serve in brownshirt-style 'obama corps'. i kid you not. it came right outta his mouth on the campaign trail, only he called it, i believe, a 'civilian volunteer army'. in that vein, he seeks to make 'community service' a mandatory thing. EXCUSE ME?! i thought the whole point of 'community service' was a voluntary thing!! even criminals on parole have an option of doing community service as a condition of their parole. if you make community service mandatory, the quality of the service may start to go down because people are being FORCED to do it, not because they want to be there. if you WANT to be there, 9/10 you'll find a better environment.
  • liberals-i do not like your kind very much. modern liberalism is a double-standard: you're wrong and because you're wrong, you're a *insert label here*. not only have you taken over the media, you're decieving us into destruction.

well, thats the bitch list for tonight.

tamtam

Thursday, March 12, 2009

why we elect liars as leaders

i found this article on wnd.com. i thought it was a fascinating insight into the mind of a socialist-leaning regime.

Did you ever stop to wonder why most governments – no matter where on earth you look, or what time period you consider – tend toward being dishonest, predatory and tyrannical?

Iraq was one big torture chamber before America and its coalition partners liberated it. North Korea is a national concentration camp, where every citizen is the slave of a demented little dictator named Kim Jong-il (who may or may not still be alive – hard to tell in such a fantastically closed society). Zimbabwe, once a major breadbasket for all of Africa, has sewers clogged with aborted babies, an inflation rate of over 11 million percent, and its average life expectancy has been cut almost in half, from 57 to only 34 years.


Yes, I know, these are some of the worst governments on earth. But a great many other nations are not much better. Burma and Sudan are ruled by brutal military dictatorships and mass slaughter and genocide are normal there. The vast Middle East is made up largely of Arab-Muslim police states, almost two dozen of them, where Islam's strict, medieval Shariah law reduces everyday life to one of repression, cruelty and paralyzing fear at best – and at worst, terrorism, "honor killings" and death by stoning for relatively minor offenses (and sometimes for no offense) – all sugar-coated with a stiflingly rigid and intolerant religious code.

China, with a quarter of the world's population – 1.3 billion souls – is still at core a ruthless and suffocating communist dictatorship, despite its massive economic growth. Russia has deteriorated dramatically in recent years; its judicial system is almost dysfunctional, there's virtually no freedom of the press, and international human rights organizations report widespread abuses, including systematic torture of people held by police.

We could continue on with our tour, but we'd just find that most other governments on this earth, from the Far East to Africa to South America, are corrupt, predatory and power-hungry. Each typically perfumes its tyranny with an idealistic, utopian philosophy like communism or Islamic fundamentalism to help control the population. Even Europe and the United Kingdom, once the crown of Western Civilization, are firmly in the grip of secular (de facto atheistic) socialism, which suffocates their once-vibrant Christian culture and seduces their citizens into giving up their hard-won freedoms, independence and wealth in exchange for "cradle-to-grave" security.

That brings us to America.

The United States of America has a transcendent heritage of liberty rooted in self-government and personal responsibility, the result of a revolutionary 200-year-old "experiment" so gloriously successful it became a shining light in an otherwise mostly dark world.
Yet, in recent decades, we too have been seduced. Many of us have been taught in our universities that the "self-evident truths" the founders relied upon are just outdated and dangerous myths. The press routinely portrays values the founders considered to be evil (high taxes, unrestrained federal power, permissive sexual morals) as good, and good as evil. Same with Hollywood, which once showcased pro-American and patriotic themes, but now glorifies sex, violence and total moral confusion.


With this constant cultural subversion in the background, no wonder millions of Americans have gradually been demoralized into depending on government to solve all of their problems, fueling today's uncontrolled, cancer-like growth in government.

Power-hungry demagogues have always used basically the same methods: They demonize "the rich," implying they obtained their wealth by exploiting and stealing from the downtrodden; they stir up racial or tribal hatreds at every opportunity; they blame convenient scapegoats for problems they themselves have caused; and they promise universal peace and happiness if we'll just give them unlimited power over us.

But they win our support only by appealing to the basest part of us – anger, dissatisfaction, greed and especially envy. They know instinctively that if they can stir up and ignite these dark and addictive passions in all of us, they will seduce us away from our inner dependency on God, and instead create a massive voting bloc of people dependent upon them. The reward for this transference of fidelity is great power for them, and confusion, demoralization and ultimate bondage for us. In its purest form, this phenomenon is known today as Marxism, communism, socialism – the spiritual core of which is raw envy.

Communism, as we know, is atheistic – where the government is the only true god, the giver of blessings, the solver of problems, the dispenser of justice and mercy, the source of civilization's progress. Of course, the only "progress" it actually confers is from freedom to slavery.

And yet, this is exactly the appeal more and more Americans today have been conditioned to respond to, as we have progressively fallen away from the Judeo-Christian values that once animated our culture and institutions. The envy-based system Marx unleashed on the world is alive and well, and in different forms still dominates large parts of the world. In America, it has taken root in the once-noble Democratic Party.

As Americans have succumbed to this socialistic seduction, government has enlarged to its current incomprehensible size and has sucked much of the life and productive capability out of the nation, while feeding its uncontrolled growth.

For instance, here's how energy expert and scientist Arthur Robinson, Ph.D., explains this transformation, focusing on America's scandalous inability to provide for its own energy needs:
Why are American fuel prices so high? Why are food and electricity prices on their way to doubling? Why are economic conditions chaotic? The reason is simple. Americans no longer possess the freedom to produce the goods and services required to maintain their former standard of living. Taxation – both direct and indirect through currency inflation – runaway government regulation and government-sponsored-and-encouraged litigation have reduced the productivity of Americans below that required to maintain their way of life. This tyranny – this economic slavery – has been produced entirely by the federal and state governments of the United States.


There are no resource limitations, technological limitations or geopolitical reasons for the current energy shortages and high prices. These shortages and prices are solely the result of taxation, regulation and litigation that have stifled American energy-producing industries.
Government has also robbed Americans of their very substance by corrupting its money system. Almost a century ago, the U.S. Congress created the Federal Reserve System, handing over to a private banking cartel the crucial responsibility for the nation's money supply, which the people had specifically vested in Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Ever since, middle-class working Americans have seen the value of their money continually diminish – a clandestine form of theft – due to the Fed's inflationary, debt-based, "crank-up-the-printing-press" policies and the abandonment of the gold standard.


If you understand what money really is – it represents your life and substance, it's literally stored energy – you'll see that life itself is being stolen by government. As Texas congressman and money expert Rep. Ron Paul puts it: "From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the '70s, to the burst of the dotcom bubble … every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy."

As citizens struggle to earn enough to support their families and pay their mortgages, the government literally throws their money away. Yes – throws it away. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste annually issues its famed "Pig Book" that details the preceding year's wasteful spending by the federal government. You know, like giving $400,000 of your money to the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C., or $1 million for the "Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative" or $50 million for an "indoor rainforest" in Coralville, Iowa, or a thousand and one other wasteful and unconstitutional expenditures.

The level of squandering of taxpayers' substance is a wonder. As just one example, a recent audit showed the U.S. Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused commercial airline tickets it had purchased, never bothering to collect refunds even though the tickets were totally returnable and refundable.

And government doesn't just waste your money – it sometimes uses it to fund evil. Not too many years back, the public was less than thrilled to learn that the federal government was funneling their hard-earned tax dollars into support for obscene, perverse and blasphemous "art." There was the "homoerotic artwork" of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, featuring images too repugnant to be described here. Then there was Andres Serrano's "Pi-- Christ," consisting of a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine (as well as "Pi-- Pope," with the image of the pope in urine). And of course there was David Wojnarowicz's "Tongues of Flame," depicting Jesus shooting up heroin. All funded by you.

It's not just obscene art we've paid for; it's obscene politicians too. We have a never-ending stream of prostitute-loving governors and other "public servants": President Bill Clinton had a predatory sexual relationship with a White House intern barely older than his daughter. Then there was New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey who held a press conference, wife stoically at his side, to announce he was coming out as a "gay American," and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer who frequented high-priced prostitutes, and presidential candidate Jonathan Edwards who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife while accepting the "Father of the Year" award. The revelations are endless – congressmen preying on teenage page boys, frequenting prostitutes, "coming out" as gay, and betraying their sacred marriage vows.

All this corruption and outrageous behavior shouldn't be surprising. The fact is, a great many human beings are just plain dishonest and predatory, lying and stealing in a multitude of obvious and subtle ways. We all have selfish tendencies. For example, think about a typical male fixated on an attractive female walking down the street. Is this love? No, he just has exploitation and selfish gratification in mind. The point is: With virtually all of us beset by typical human flaws like selfishness, egotism, lust, envy, greed, anger, insecurity and the need for approval, how on earth do we expect the same flawed human beings to suddenly manifest great love and nobility when they get into government? Doesn't make much sense, does it? That's precisely why our founders wisely created a national government with very limited powers and lots of internal checks and balances.

What we need to understand here is that it's not just deranged psychopaths like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe that give us tyrannical government; regular politicians and bureaucrats do it too. As long as they're unprincipled and self-serving, more inclined to preserve their job, personal advantage, wealth and comfort than to risk it all by championing the public good, evil will end up running rampant in that society.

I know this sounds pretty negative, but we really need to understand why it is that governments just about always end up playing god and controlling our lives.

Let's pause again and reflect momentarily on the core reality of our lives. Are you ready?
There really is an omniscient God, and He really does create human beings whose intended destiny is to discover ultimate fulfillment by being obedient to His leading in all things. And our life goes badly – and is supposed to go badly – if we rebel against His will and defy His laws, which are not only found in the Holy Bible, but are also "written" clearly inside each of us.
If we fail to find this inner fidelity to the One who created and sustains us and directs our paths, then we automatically designate someone or something else to fill that necessary role: We will worship another god. Moreover, when we are in rebellion against the true God, we need lies and deception to keep our pursuing conscience at bay – and people who enjoy power are all too eager to step up and play that role for us.


That's right: We elect liars as leaders because we actually need lies if we're rebelling against God's inward leading. Lies do a great job of "serving" us with an illusion of worth and righteousness (that's why we believe them compulsively), as we rebel against the real God, Who is always revealing our faults to us – except that most of us don't want to hear it.
Since bad government relies so totally on persuasive lying, let's take a look at that phenomenon. There's more to it than you might think.


Why politicians lie, and why we believe them

In "The Marketing of Evil," I explore many powerful manipulation techniques used to alter Americans' attitudes toward everything from abortion to divorce to homosexuality. But there's one technique that reigns supreme as the king of all propaganda weapons – lying. To make evil look good – and good appear to be evil – you have to lie.

The power of lies is not so much in the little "white lies" that are part of the fabric of most of our lives. It's in the big lies. It's paradoxical, but we're more likely to believe big lies than small ones.
How can this be? Wouldn't the big, outrageous lie be more easily discerned and resisted than the small, less consequential lie? You'd think so, but you'd be wrong.


There's a dark magic in boldly lying, in telling a "big lie" – repeatedly, with a straight face and with confidence and authority.

One of the greatest liars of the last century – Adolf Hitler – taught that the bigger the lie, the more believable it was.

During World War II, the U.S. government's Office of Strategic Services – a precursor to today's CIA – assessed Hitler's methods this way:

"His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

Hitler himself, in his 1925 autobiography "Mein Kampf," explained with eerie insight the fantastic power of lying:

… [I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes. ...

Truly the words of an evil genius. But let's bring this explanation down to earth: Suppose, just prior to Election Day, one candidate accuses his opponent of immoral or illegal behavior. Even if the charges are totally false, and even if the accused candidate answers the charges credibly and effectively, "the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it." In plain English, no matter how effectively the accused answers the charges, some people will still believe he's guilty, and many others will still retain varying degrees of doubt and uncertainty regarding the accused, who may well lose the election due to the cloud hanging over his head. This, as Hitler said, is the magic of lying that "is known to all expert liars in this world. …"

The "doubt-inducing" quality inherent in a "big lie" is actually more powerful even than Hitler explained in "Mein Kampf." Let's say someone tells you a real whopper – like, "Your husband/wife is cheating on you. I saw it with my own eyes." Although it's totally untrue, the big lie has the ability to upset you in a way the little, everyday white lie doesn't. And when you get upset over anything, guess what? You feel a little bit of guilt for being upset, a little angry, a little confused, perhaps a little fearful – and voila, all those conflicting emotions cause you to be unable to think straight, and you can easily end up compulsively believing the lie. To put it another way: When you're upset, the lie takes on a mysterious quality of attraction and believability, as though a protective force-field has temporarily been disabled, allowing the lie to enter your mental inner sanctum.

Hitler's principle is exactly what unprincipled leaders everywhere bank on to get their way with the public.

Using lies to create a crisis

One of the most creative uses of lying – and a key tactic for bending a population to your will – is the creation of a crisis. Now, anyone even superficially familiar with the history of the political left has heard references to the strategy of creating crises as a means of transforming society. You've probably heard of the "Hegelian dialectic," a key Marxist technique whereby an idea ("We need more gun control laws!") generates its opposite ("No, we don't need more gun laws, we just need tougher sentencing of criminals!"), which leads to a reconciliation of opposites, or synthesis ("OK, we'll compromise by passing new gun-control laws, but watering them down somewhat"). This is how socialist progress is achieved "peacefully" – through conflict or crisis – and always in the direction of greater socialism.

The problem is, this "crisis-creation" talk just sounds so wicked, so foreign to us, that it's hard to believe our fellow human beings, no matter how confused or messed up, could actually engage in such a practice. But it's not only true; it's actually a common part of everyday life.

Consider this non-political example and how it illustrates the power of a crisis to mold people to the deceiver's will: In a very sad child-abduction case, a little girl was approached after school by a man she didn't know. He claimed her house was burning down, that her parents were busy putting out the fire, and that he was a friend of the parents who had asked him to pick up their daughter and take her to them. The crisis – and the emotional upset the girl experienced over the thought of her house being on fire and her parents in danger – drowned out her normal caution about getting into a car with a stranger. You guessed it: The stranger was a predator who had concocted the lie for the sole purpose of tricking and upsetting the girl into going with him so he could brutalize and murder her.

This tragic story makes an important point: A crisis throws us off our guard, upsets us and inclines us to make decisions and accept "solutions" we normally would reject.
Politically, the strategy is to create a crisis, or exploit a real one, by throwing people into a mode where they can be redirected toward a predetermined "solution" – whether it's imposing "carbon penalties" on businesses in response to fears of global warming, or a trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded corporate bailout in response to a sudden "financial meltdown," or draconian gun-control laws in response to a rash of school shootings. We're talking about solutions people would normally reject, but now in a crisis accept, and as a result establish a new baseline of what is normal – which becomes the starting point for pushing the nation still further leftward in response to the next "crisis."


Let's look at a few examples of fake "crises." They're all around us:

Small towns and cities across America pull a certain stunt with depressing regularity around election time. They claim that if taxpayers don't vote in favor of a new tax levy, they'll be forced to eliminate or drastically cut back police and fire protection – two items the people actually want from their government. I once lived in a town where the city council and city manager decided that the way to force voters to approve their new tax levy would be to threaten to completely eliminate police protection within the city limits between midnight and 8 a.m. No joke. This was a crisis of their own creation and for their own obvious purposes. After all, the city council members and their budget committee could have re-prioritized their budget to cut back on street sweeping, park maintenance, library hours, raises and benefits for themselves, or other things less crucial to the public safety and welfare, and gotten by on the existing tax base without leaving the citizens vulnerable to criminals every night. As I said, this is a common tactic in cities and towns up and down the turnpike.

The radical environmental movement's primary modus operandi is the creation of crises where none exist. The "spotted owl" crisis in my home state of Oregon is a great example. Environmentalists claimed the northern spotted owl was dying out because of commercial logging of old-growth forests where the birds nested. So in 1991 a compliant judge halted logging in Oregon's national forests, causing the loss of about 30,000 jobs, an 80 percent reduction in timber harvesting, a consequent decrease in the supply of lumber and sky-high prices. I remember – I was there. However, it wasn't owls that environmentalists were in love with; they were in love with stopping loggers from harvesting any trees in Oregon's old-growth forests. The owls just provided the needed "crisis."

Oh, here's the rest of the story. Long after Oregon's timber-based economy was crippled by the court-ordered logging ban, the northern spotted owl population inexplicably continued to decline. Surprise! New research showed logging in old-growth forests wasn't a problem at all. The real problem, it turned out, was competition from another larger and more aggressive species of owl that liked the same habitat and food as the spotted owl.

The truth is, ever since "socialism" lost its luster as the salvation of mankind (because it has never actually worked anywhere), the environmental movement has become one of the most powerful, modern battering rams of the left for advancing the same socialist agenda. And of course, the biggest environmental cause of all is global warming.

Today, a generation of children worldwide is being brainwashed into believing they face imminent doom – monster hurricanes and tornadoes, polar ice melting and raising ocean levels, leading to catastrophic flooding, tidal waves and other cataclysmic events. Many have been forced to sit in classrooms and watch Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," in which he claims the oceans may rise by 20 feet, leading to worldwide devastation. Not to be outdone, NBC reporter Meredith Vieira warned on national TV of the oceans rising – are you ready? – 200 feet. Thus, while the kids suffer from doomsday nightmares, grown-ups respond to the "crisis" by clamoring for "solutions" offered by the environmentalist crisis-creators.

And yet, not only is there absolutely no scientific basis for either NBC's 200 feet or Gore's 20 feet figure, in reality tens of thousands of scientists have gone on record stating their belief that man-caused global warming is a fake crisis. Indeed, as of this writing, more than 30,000 American scientists, including over 9,000 with Ph.D.s, have signed a petition stating: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

Another legacy of phony environmental crises is our fear of nuclear power. In truth, nuclear energy is clean, homegrown and abundant, and its safety record is extremely good. Many other nations – including France, Russia and Japan – have long taken advantage of this amazing power source. But irrational fear, in response to an environmentalist-created "crisis" mentality, has long gripped the American consciousness and contributed greatly to our dangerous national dependence on foreign energy sources.

The "Fairness Doctrine" is a freedom-destroying solution to a crisis that doesn't exist. With the exception of talk radio and certain online and cable TV news offerings, virtually the entire news media establishment is overwhelmingly left-of-center. Yet some congressmen and senators claim there's an unfair conservative bias in the media (talk radio) that demands "balance" by legally forcing radio stations to provide air time to "opposing views" – that is, to the left-leaning views that utterly dominate the rest of the information media.

Racism is largely a manufactured crisis in America today. So-called "black leaders" like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton are long-time professional race-baiters who thrive on stirring up racial suspicions and hatreds. In reality, America is probably the least racist nation in the world. Yes, we had slavery, but that ceased a century and a half ago when we sacrificed more than 600,000 American lives in the Civil War (more than in all other American wars combined) to exorcise it from our nation. Yes, we had segregation – but we long ago repented of this and made it illegal. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the vast majority of Americans – hundreds of millions of normal, middle-class citizens – believe deeply and wholeheartedly in the color-blind America King envisioned.

And yet Sharpton, Jackson and others have thrived for decades on literally creating the perception of racism where none existed – for their own benefit. From the fake rape claims of Tawana Brawley to the fake rape claims against the Duke lacrosse team-members – the false accusation of racism remains a powerful weapon of the left.

Similarly, charges of rampant anti-Muslim bigotry and hate-crimes in the U.S., leveled by groups like the ACLU and CAIR, constitute a totally fake crisis. Actually, Americans have demonstrated extraordinary restraint and magnanimity toward Muslims since the 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent revelations of widespread Islamic antipathy toward America. In fact, according to a 2006 FBI report, between 2001 and 2006 anti-Islamic hate crimes in the U.S. decreased by 68 percent!

We could go on and on – fake crises are everywhere. People who want to manipulate and remold us are always creating crises, small or large, real or imagined, to use as leverage. That leverage, to be precise, is our emotional upset and our resulting inability to think straight and make sensible decisions. Repeat: Just upsetting us through any means whatsoever constitutes a mini-crisis – by means of which we can be manipulated. Although being upset by some injustice or cruelty seems like a "small" crisis in the scheme of things – it is the basis for all other crises, even the largest.

If you think about it, this process of remolding us through crises is a perversion of what God does with His children. He creates a crisis – or perhaps more accurately, allows a crisis to develop in our lives because of our ignorance of His laws – which cries out for resolution. Our marriage and family are in crisis, or our health is in crisis, or our finances are in crisis – and yet if we are sincere, truth-loving souls, that crisis mysteriously has a way of maturing and changing us, and we end up growing in His direction.

You might well wonder what kind of person could be so deranged that they'd create a phony crisis for the purpose of exercising power over others. But this shouldn't be hard to comprehend. For one thing, lots of us are so troubled and insecure that we develop an unhealthy need to be needed by others – a very common syndrome. Consciously or unconsciously, we tempt or corrupt people into becoming dependent on us, so as to fulfill our unhealthy need to be needed.
Moreover, consider that if you are consumed by pride – in other words, if you're a big egomaniac – you actually have a subconscious need or desire for other people to fail. Why? Because your own sense of worth is based on comparing yourself with other people, and particularly with cultivating others to look up to you. Unfortunately, this need for adulation can be fulfilled only if you weaken and fool other people into depending on you for their happiness.


So, if you're a dishonest, ambitious and manipulating politician like so many, even though you haven't murdered anyone, haven't committed genocide, haven't put people feet-first through a plastic-shredder like Saddam Hussein, you're still spreading evil and misery throughout the land.

If this syndrome describes you (whether in politics or in your marriage or at your workplace), you may not be aware of the forces working through you. Oh, you may occasionally catch a fleeting glimpse of it, but you quickly escape from this painful, humiliating realization. For a fraction of a second you see it, but then it's gone.

But let me ask anyway: Have you ever seen another person lose his temper, or fail in some other way – and felt a very slight, perverse sense of satisfaction? Or, when someone has done really well and received credit for it, or made a lot of money, or just expressed an obviously brilliant idea, have you ever noticed a subtle feeling of envy rearing its head inside you?

It's OK. Most everyone has experienced feelings like this at some point – perhaps often. But if you're a sincere soul and you are willing to observe these base feelings emanating from the dark side – and if deep down you really don't agree with those feelings – then in a very real sense those feelings are not you. In a sense, there are two of you, the real you being the observer who is chagrined over the dark thoughts and feelings rising from the deep. Watching those thoughts and feelings honestly leads to repentance and real change.

However, many people are not so sincere. And these type of thoughts and the dark forces behind them come to dominate their lives, albeit unconsciously. So without being a Saddam Hussein, but just being a prideful, selfish, denial-based person, you can do terrible things to other human beings – deceive them, betray them, enslave them. You can destroy lives and civilizations.
And this, once again, is exactly why we have limited government in America – because power corrupts, and now we know why.


By the way, what we're talking about here – the tendency for government to be lying and predatory – didn't start with Karl Marx. It has ever been with the human race. More than 2,000 years ago, the great orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero foretold the decline and fall of the Roman Empire with these words, which exquisitely described the ravages wrought by lying politicians:

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.

When all is said and done, we elect liars as leaders because we need lies. And we need lies because we haven't found God.

Lies that fulfill us in a wrong way are offered to us constantly, in every area of life: If our marriage in trouble, there's always "the other woman" or "the other man" who will embrace and reassure us that we're great people and that our spouse is the problem. But their lying "solution" only makes things immeasurably worse. If we're depressed or full of rage, but not really interested in understanding ourselves, we have experts eager to prescribe drugs to mask our symptoms – a false "solution" without repentance and hope of real change. Or we can bypass the doctor and go to the liquor store or criminal drug dealer to procure another wrong "solution."

William Penn said it all: "If man is not governed by God, he will be ruled by tyrants." Freedom apart from God is just an illusion of pride. This is because when we are at war with our conscience, something has to sustain our denial, our secret war against the still, small voice of Truth within – hence our need for lies. And government, in the form of other prideful human beings, is only too happy to oblige.

John Adams, a principal crafter of our Constitution, and later our second president, understood this very well, writing: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

But the Bible puts it most eloquently and succinctly of all: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

tamtam

Friday, March 6, 2009

the original 'boys in the hood'

i found this article on a british website about a sect of orthodox christian monks under seige. these monks come from greece, and they're an obscure, breakoff sect of the mainstream orthodox church. though i myself am an orthodox christian and i can sympathize with these monks, given the course of history that my faith has taken, i think these men are being a little overreactive.

Outside the church of St Antoni, a small domed chapel on the cliffs above Esphigmenou, a chilly grass snake struggles along a cold rock. From here, the monastery looks like a fortress, its sea-face a blank, turreted wall against the Aegean. This wall has protected the riches and relics within from pirates and Muslims alike. It has weathered the humiliations of the Ottoman Turks, and gloried in the triumph of Byzantium. And yet Esphigmenou now finds itself embroiled in a battle so formidable that its occupiers believe that the outcome will determine the very future of humanity.

The tale of the Esphigmenou monks is one that should exist only in the pages of a Dan Brown thriller. Divided from the Orthodox establishment by a theological disagreement, and living in an isolated monastic peninsula, they are fighting a lone battle for the soul of their religion.

Esphigmenou is a community under siege. Its lands have been seized, its bank accounts frozen, and it has severed all contact with its 19 brother monasteries throughout Mount Athos, the obscure, semi-autonomous monks' republic of northern Greece. In that time, the monks have faced warships, marines, the police and the coastguard, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with rival monks, while at night they take part in stealthy sorties into the surrounding forest and in a speedboat that smuggles in essential goods. All of this to beat a blockade imposed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of their own church.

Put simply, the conflict is down to what the monks consider is Patriarch Bartholomew's cosy relationship with the Pope. The monks believe that ecumenism - the search for religious unity, in their case with Roman Catholicism - is not just heresy, it is the final heresy that precedes the end of the world. After years of debate with Constantinople over it, the monastery ceased to pray for the Patriarch 30 years ago, and since then he has been trying to evict them. When a warship was dispatched by the Greek Government to cut off the monastery by sea Esphigmenou faced them with a black banner: Orthodoxy or death.

Because of their views on the papacy, there are limits to the monks' hospitality.
“You are Catholic,” states Dimitrius, after I arrive at the monastery, having lied about my destination to the Greek officials controlling entry to Mount Athos and walked 10km through the forest. “The father wants you to know you cannot go in the church, and you cannot eat with the monks in the trapeza [dining hall].” Between us, a thick booklet shows pictures of the Patriarch, Bartholomew, embracing the Pope and other Catholic leaders. Its caption Dimitrius translates with a slightly embarrassed smile. It reads: “The kiss of Judas.”


Dimitrius, who usually works in a pizza restaurant in Thessaloniki, has come here for spiritual fulfillment, but also because he is trying to quit smoking, banned in the monastery (“I hit two targets with one bullet,” he explains). We sit talking together in the wooden-roofed guest quarters, warming ourselves on a wood-burning stove and eating Turkish delight - although I suspect they don't call it that. There are a few biblical pictures on the wall, but most are of stern men with excellent moustaches: “Greek heroes,” Dimitrius explains. Another pilgrim is more descriptive. “They kill Turks,” he says, grinning as he makes a throat-cutting gesture.

The monks here belong to a small minority of Orthodox called Old Calendarists, who reject the Gregorian Calendar, by which most of the world counts its years. Although superseded half a millennium ago, their alternative - the Julian Calendar - does at least have the virtue of not being introduced by a Catholic, Pope Gregory XIII.

It may seem absurd, but the monks regard themselves as the guardians of their faith. For them, it is deadly serious.

Father Savvas was asleep the last time what he calls the “false brotherhood” attacked. One of seven monks stationed in one of Esphigmenou's outlying buildings, he had been expecting trouble. At 6am it came.

Monks, asked by the Patriarch to restore the monastery to his control, were trying to break in. “We had finished the morning service an hour before,” Father Savvas recalls from his office overlooking the monastery's central courtyard. “And then someone heard people using crowbars on the lock. He shouted ‘Fathers, fathers, they are coming,' but they were already in the basement.”


In the ensuing struggle, Father Savvas was the only one of the seven monks to escape hospital. “It was extremely violent; they punched, kicked and used iron bars. One of us still has problems with his back. But they did not think who was inside; we had filled the building with very powerful men. People say: ‘You are monks, you must tolerate everything.' We are not obliged to be idiots, though. We did not have the blessings of the abbot to punch - only passive defence - but it was enough.”


At this, he looks a little wistful, and points to a large man in the courtyard. “You see him; he used to be a bodyguard. He is like a gorilla. If I had given just him permission to punch, we could have incapacitated them all.


Although the attack was two years ago, if anything the situation has worsened. Since 2005 the monastery has existed without any official external funding. It produces most of its food in fields and vineyards around the main building, and ships in the rest - avoiding the coastguard with night-time smuggling runs. Any external holdings, which include a farm just outside Athos, are kept permanently occupied. And whenever monks are rotated from this service they have to sneak through the woods - crossing a border controlled by the police.


While European Union funds have converted surrounding monasteries to near-hotel standard, with showers, electricity and modern kitchens, Esphigmenou now gets by, it claims, on a daily budget of €130. Why, many have asked, would they make such sacrifices, simply because the leader of their church is friendly with the Pope? “The Patriarch tells us that we have no love for Catholics - no love in our hearts,” explains Father Savvas who, after 20 years in the monastery, is one of the more senior monks. “Well, is it an expression of love to let people live in deceit? In Europe, with your Protestantism and your Catholicism you are in...” he stops, to find the mot juste in his English-Greek dictionary. “Oh yes, perversion.” The word pleases him. “Popism is a perversion of Christianity.”


The churches of East and West finally split in 1054, for political as much as theological reasons - the latter centring on apparently minor differences in the Creed. But Esphigmenou's fight is about so much more than a dislike of Catholicism - it is about an entire worldview, in which the stakes could not be higher. They believe that after the churches eventually unite (and they are convinced that they will), the day of judgment will be upon us. “One day, one government will control all the world,” Father Savvas says. “Only once will this happen, and this government will be run by the Antichrist, the Messiah of the Jews.”


For this to happen, there must be globalisation - and for true globalisation there must be unity of faith. “The European Union offer money, much money, to restore the monasteries,” Father Savvas says. “But it is a trap - to make friends and destroy us. Our fathers hate ecumenism; they are against globalisation. And anyone who hates globalisation is an enemy of the EU.


“The coincidences are so many that you cannot turn a blind eye. For example, globalisation requires the barcode system.” He finds a magazine and points to two lines on its barcode that are longer than others, repeated three times. “Do you know which number each double bar is?” This is conspiracy theory bingo, and I am about to get a full house. 6? “Yes ! It is 6!” 666: the mark of the beast. Technically, I later learn, those lines do not represent 6 but I doubt that the monks, who proudly call themselves zealots, would have taken my word for it.


That said, it would be wrong to consider them hostile. Throughout my stay they are friendly, welcoming and unfailingly hospitable - even if initially their rules made me feel isolated. Before my first meal and, sitting on the stone steps of the church, I wait with the cats - for the leftovers after the others have eaten. Meals on Athos are an austere affair, even if you are Orthodox. Beans and rice, wine and fruit - maybe fish on Sundays. In Esphigmenou, they sit in silence while, from a pulpit, a monk reads from the Bible in Greek. When the reading is over, the meal is over.


And then, crowding out of the trapeza with the other monks, Father Chrysostom beckons me inside. The oldest surviving building, the centuries-old frescoes of the trapeza are blackened from the indignities of occupying Turkish troops, who in the 19th century briefly used it as a kitchen. Sitting me down on a wooden bench away from the clatter of tidying up, Father Chrysostom, the head of the kitchen, brings plates of rice pudding, chickpeas and kiwi fruit. Other monks put sweets and wine in front of me, with a wink, like over-indulgent uncles.


Father Chrysostom almost tries too hard to put me at ease. “I like very much your English soap,” he says through a long, scraggy beard. I look confused. He jogs to a friend, then returns - victorious, but no less mysterious. “I like very much your English swords!” he makes the movement of a pirate removing his cutlass from a scabbard, and grins.


Later he introduces me to Kitsos, a shabby donkey, who hangs around the monastery. His ostensible purpose is as insurance, “in case the oil runs out”, but while the tractors still work he leads a charmed existence eating apples, being stroked and occasionally pulling his stake out of the ground to canter - triumphant - across the vineyard.


When I am finally allowed to meet Abbot Methodius - the stern philosophical scourge of the Orthodox Church - he has a stuffed toy donkey on his windowsill, looking very much like Kitsos. Methodius, who heads the monastery, tells me that he believes they stand alone, upholding the true faith until the time when, perhaps, the Patriarch is declared a heretic. “Esphigmenou will last, so long as God wants us,” he says. And he welcomes pilgrims - housed in two rooms, their wood-burning stoves gently warming centuries of accumulated body odour.


It is here that I meet Alexis Papalexiou - a US citizen who has returned to the old country, and the old faith. Extravagantly hairy, and wearing a vest, he looks like a moustachioed Tony Soprano. “For weeks I had these dreams,” he tells me. “I heard the Holy Spirit, and it said ‘prodotis, prodotis' - ‘traitor, traitor',” he stage whispers. “Then, later, ‘Judas'.
“It stopped when I switched to the Old Calendar. Esphigmenou holds the true faith: that is why the Devil, and the Patriarch, are against them.”


After evening prayers, hooded monks navigate the cloisters, lighting dim oil lamps on the stone walls. The cats move inside as well, lurking like malevolent shadows - waiting to trip up unsuspecting pilgrims on night-time toilet trips. To enter this world is to be in a place where demons still possess men, where visions are commonplace and where icons perform daily miracles. With the zealotry of the convert, they want to save me too. As I am dozing off one night, Alexis wakes me with an urgent whisper. “Tom, I will not see you tomorrow, so I must say: remember that prostitution, adultery, seeing a witch - these are deadly sins.” Silence for a bit. “And jerking off, too, that is bad.”


On my final morning Constantinos, a stockbroker from Athens, negotiates for me to visit the church. “See this picture,” Constantinos points to a Madonna and Child. “Many years ago it was stabbed. And look, now it bleeds.” He takes me to another. “This is our most powerful picture. It has done many miracles.” Gathered around its base are gold offerings - including a swimming medal.


Constantinos confesses that they are worried about what I will write. “Thomas,” (he pronounces it Toe-mass), “it is important that you write the truth. We say, you can fight a war with blood or with ink - so do not lie, you are powerful. Do not say ‘they are bad - they would not let me eat with them.' That is just our rule. When you write, ask the Holy Spirit to help you.”


As I walk through the stone gateway for the last time, I pass an aged monk, sitting sentinel beneath its frescoes. I offer him a Quality Street - the last of my bulwark against a beans-only diet. He takes the box and turns it over carefully, methodically. Then he points to the barcode, and shakes his head, his long beard accentuating the motion. The packet is returned, untouched.


Mount Athos, a peninsula in northern Greece, is a semi-autonomous monks' republic. For the past 1,000 years all females, including most domestic animals, have been banned. Why? One story is that the monks became too frisky with shepherdesses, another that the Patriarch of Constantinople wanted to remove temptation.

The earliest record of Athonite monks is their attendance at a church council in 843. The first monastery was founded in 963. It is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. But some monks claim that Emperor Constantine the Great founded the first monastery in the 4th century. Others claim Christian tradition began when the Virgin Mary found refuge on Athos in a storm. Recently Athos has become a favoured retreat of Vladimir Putin and the Prince of Wales.


i support my orthodox brothers, but to be honest, i wouldnt mind reuniting with the catholic church. given that the orthodox church is a minority almost everywhere you go (not so much in the soviet-bloc countries, but its getting there), the catholic influx would certainly boost our numbers and give us more spiritual armor against the moslems and athiests. sure we'd have our differences to settle out (we don't have popes or recognize popes), but that can be done so in a fair and reasonable matter.

good bye and god bless!!
tamtam