Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

As I sat in my back yard chair a few days ago, I started thinking about how fences have impacted our lives. We have a tall privacy fence made of wood and the neighbors have the same kind of fence. We can’t see each other’s yards, but we can see the rooftops. When I was a kid it wasn’t like that.

When I was a kid we lived in military housing most of our lives but even in the civilian houses we went past on the way to school we saw many houses without fences. There were friends we visited, and the kids would go outside and play in the yard while the parents were talking and usually preparing food. I don’t remember fences back then.

I remember when I was a kid we’d play in someone’s back yard, then get tired of their toys and all go to the next kid in our group’s back yard and play with their toys, and move from yard to yard playing with whatever the kids in that house had until we grew bored with them. Or, we’d play a game of hide and seek and the whole immediate neighborhood was fair game, running to find a hiding place in the neighbor’s yard that was good enough to be the last one found but close enough to hear the “Allie, allie, in come free!” if we weren’t found. We could play tag running through five back yards, baseball across property lines; Army, or cowboys and Indians in seven yards, front and back. It was fun, a lot of exercise and made for good neighbors.

When someone’s children acted up, any parents would be allowed to reprimand them, or they’d do the worst thing possible: call our parents and tell them what we did wrong. Heaven forbid that was their choice because we knew that we’d get a spanking then!

We were taught back then that if something doesn’t belong to you that you can’t touch it without the owner’s permission. If you break something, apologize and make it right and to never steal. We were not taught that there is something called “economic inequality” that made it okay for us to steal. That was not something that anyone thought back then. When I watch the movies and television shows from back then (I am aging myself), I don’t see fences around the back yards. I see fences in the front yards sometimes, white picket fences trimmed with annuals or well-kept shrubs. Sometimes you see a farm show with a fence to keep the dog, chickens, or other farm animals in, but not often did you see a back yard with a fence.

Nowadays you can’t drive through anything but a deed restricted community and see open back yards, and even some deed restricted communities have fences; they’re just controlled by the property owner’s association (Home Owner’s Association, whichever). Those communities may have security gates at the entrances, private security guards roaming around in golf carts or regular vehicles and high prices for their HOA fees to pay for that security.

Fences are almost a must, a necessary accoutrement today because children (and some adults) were never taught the lessons of our childhood:

• If it’s not yours don’t touch it
• Thou shalt not steal
• Ask permission before playing with something
• Don’t trespass if you don’t have permission

Those things are no longer escaping parents’ mouths. Those things are not taught in public schools (or many private schools). Those things are not the acceptable norms of the left. Instead, excuses are made for those who have “less than” the next guy and theft is considered okay by some if the perpetrator has the excuse of _____________ (fill in the blank). It’s an astonishing change in what seems like a very short period.

Those who would break and enter, steal out of your yard after breaking a gate’s lock, or who want to do harm to those inside the house are no longer afraid of society’s norms nor their scorn. They want what they want and it’s by whatever means they deem necessary that will get them that and it’s okay if the excuse is available.

Society has made this possible by making excuses for the perpetrators and by giving parents the “My Child” complex, but only when in righteous indignation against anyone else verbally disciplining their child. What do I mean? When a child does wrong, and a neighbor does verbally discipline that child, the child goes home and whines about it to the parent. The parent will go to extreme efforts to make sure that the neighbor knows that verbally disciplining their kid is not an option and that it means war between the “adults” and it better not happen again or else! Meanwhile, the kid is off doing whatever he/she wants again because the parent doesn’t care what the kid is doing as long as that child is not in their parent’s hair.

Parents will visit their fourteen-year-old child in jail and ask the child why they did that, accepting whatever excuse the child gives (including “I didn’t do it. It wasn’t my fault. It was Jimmy (or Kate, or whoever)!” In the parent’s heart they know their child did it. They tell others up one side and down the next that the child is innocent, they borrow the money from friends and family and bail the kid out and make excuses for their bad behavior to one and all. In front of the judge the parent makes all kinds of promises, attends the four-hour parenting class while the kid does community service and then, since the boxes are checked, go back to kicking the kid outside so that the parent can get back to whatever the parent wants to do: besides parenting!

This is what the fences are for. They’re for the children who were never parented correctly. They’re for the children who were taught that whatever they want to do is okay as long as they have someone else to point to. They’re for the children who were taught that there is no right and no wrong; if it feels good, do it. They’re for the children who, because of the terrible parenting felt unloved and unwanted their whole lives and never learned to find fulfillment in what they can do for themselves, instead of what they can take from others – whether that taking be in government payments or theft and violence.

Fences are a form of self-protection. We protect the things we worked hard to earn the money to purchase. We protect our privacy and hope that those fences will keep out those who want to violate it. We protect our families and hope that fences will help prevent harm to them, whether through a child wandering into the road or through a perpetrator breaking into our homes and doing harm.

Fences are a sign of a failure of parenting and society. Parenting because with good parents, children do not do the things written about here. Society because we have been cowed into accepting the lie that there are those who have less and because of that less they have an excuse to do the things written about here. Instead of standing up to those spreading that lie we have chosen to not fight the lie and allowed it and its results to be woven into the fabric of our beings.

Fences are a sign of the division of society. With good fences we do not speak to our neighbors, thus do not know it. We do not recognize our neighbors thus we do not know who does and does not belong over there. Fences make us not care unless it is catastrophic and then we may offer to help a little. Instead of helping with the car repair if we have that knowledge, or the lawn care if our neighbor breaks a leg, or the cooking if our neighbor is down with the flu but needs to feed the kids, we stay behind our fences and consider that all is well with the world as long as our little fences make us okay. We can see the neighbors’ rooftops, but can we see the neighbor? Only if we are over six feet tall.

Fences make us delusional, isolated, insular, while making us feel safer (and, yes, sometimes they are effective in that). Fences divide us but protect us against certain dangers (unruly animals, etc.) but they also have their drawbacks. Fences allow us to swim in our pools without too many eyeballs on us, but they also prevent us from seeing the man next door having a heart attack in the back yard.

“Good fences make good neighbors”? In today’s world we feel we must have them to “keep the other guy honest” but do they accomplish that, or do they just keep the honest guys honest? Fences have been jumped by those who don’t think the rules apply to them so fences are not always effective.

Fences are kind of like guns. The law abiding don’t need them to stay out or to prevent them from stealing from or hurting their neighbor. As with guns, it’s those to whom the law means nothing that fences may help against. If the fence doesn’t work, the gun will.

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© 2017 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 19, 2017

Job: A Different Perspective

Job

I’ve heard a lot of Christians say that because of the story of Job in the Bible that they believe a loving, gentle, kind, forgiving, merciful, graceful GOD – our Father - would give us illnesses and hurt us to teach us a lesson. I find that idea and belief abominable.

If that be the case, then if a Dad reached over and broke his child’s arm to teach him not to throw a ball in the house, I would be out of line to reproach the Dad, to try to prevent him doing so, to even report him to the police. If GOD hurts us and makes us ill as a lesson to us, then we have no right to expect good things from anyone who loves us.

The “I’ll make you sick or hurt you because I love you GOD” is not the GOD of the Bible. Even in the story of Job, which Christianity loves to point at and say, “See! There’s my biblical backing!” GOD’s character is misrepresented (to say the least) as a foundation to stand on for that erroneous “GOD who hurts us” belief.

So, let’s look at the Bible story of Job to see what kind of alleged “foundation” they think they have.

In Job 1:1 Job is described as a “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil”. Even GOD said about Job that “there is none like him on the earth” (vs.8), and it is reiterated that he is “blameless and upright” and that he “fears God and shuns evil”. Does that sound like someone GOD would hurt to teach him a lesson? If so, what kind of lesson does Job need to learn? What wrong was Job doing that he had to be taught a lesson? Or, in the opinion of the Christians who make this claim, does GOD teach Job a lesson without Job needing a lesson, in GOD’s own opinion?

If you read what is written there, the Bible says that GOD was talking to our mortal enemy, Satan, and that GOD was standing up for Job. Why would GOD do that if he wanted to teach Job a lesson? No, what was actually happening is that GOD was saying to our enemy that if he looked at Job he would find someone who would not be destroyed by our enemy. GOD said, “Have you considered my servant Job…?” (1:8).

In verses 10-11, Satan replies that there was a “hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side” so why would Satan consider attacking Job because GOD protected him so much? Satan went on to say that if GOD “stretched out [His] hand and touch[ed] all that he [Job] has” that Job would “surely curse” GOD to His face.

To this GOD responded in 1:12 that everything Job had was in Satan’s power, with the exception that Satan could not touch Job himself. Why would GOD do this? To prove to Satan that there are faithful people who will not turn away from GOD, who will not curse GOD, who will not fall away from GOD or from belief in Him, if bad things happen to them! It wasn’t a test, a lesson, or an attack on Job: it was a lesson to Satan!

Look at everything Satan took from Job in verses 13-22: his oxen and all but one servant with them (vs 15); his sheep and all but one of the servants with them (vs 16); his camels and all but one of his servants who were with them (vs 17); his children and all but one of the servants with them (vs 19). What does Job do?

In verses 20-22 we see Job’s response to Satan’s attack: Job “arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head and he fell to the ground and worshipped.” Who did Job worship: Satan, who took everything away from him, or GOD, who still loved Job and allowed all of this to happen to him because GOD chose to teach Satan a lesson? Job worshipped GOD. GOD was proven correct in trusting Job. In verse 22 we see “In all this Job did not sin nor charge GOD with wrong.”

That’s something that should have impressed Satan, but apparently it wasn’t enough. In 2:1 there was another meeting of the “sons of GOD” and Satan again showed up.

GOD asked Satan where he came from (2:2) and Satan replied “From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it.”

Then -- absolutely certain that Job would be faithful -- GOD again pointed to Job (poor, faithful Job) and asked if Satan had “considered [His] servant, Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears GOD and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (vs3).

See what it says: Job “still” held “fast to his integrity” and that he was a “blameless and upright man” who feared GOD. Does that sound like Job needed a lesson taught to him, or does it sound more like GOD has faith in Job and in the fact that – even though the first time Job was used to teach Satan a lesson it devastated his life – GOD was absolutely certain that Job could be trusted in his faithfulness, his uprightness, his blamelessness?

GOD may seem harsh here, picking on Job again, but think of what it is saying about Job that GOD has so much faith in him. Job was a favorite of GOD’s. However, being GOD’s favorite doesn’t mean that your life will be easy as breathing. Consider Mary, mother of Christ, who was another favorite of GOD’s and who was chosen as a young teen to bare GOD’s “only Begotten Son” – while single, but betrothed and who had to face the slings and arrows of the town gossips, the accusations of town people, her future in-laws, etc. David was a favorite of GOD’s, but when he messed up, having an affair with Bathsheba and fathering a child with her then ensuring her husband’s death, the child he fathered in that affair died. Although GOD’s favor was still upon David, the baby died. That’s not an easy thing to endure, but David understood it and cleaned himself up and worshipped GOD after the child died (2 Samuel 12).

In GOD’s second time of telling Satan to “consider” Job, Satan was told that Job was in Satan’s hand “but spare his life”. Satan was allowed to do anything to Job he wanted, but he could not kill him. Job wound up with boils “from the souls of his feet to the crown of his head.” Job used a potsherd to scrape the boils from his skin and he went and sat in ashes and his wife told him to “curse God and die” (2:9)! That’s pretty harsh. It’s also what a lot of people would do in the same situation. His children are dead, his cattle, camels and sheep are gone, along with the servants that were with them. His wife is all that’s left and his wife tells him to turn his back on GOD and die! Harsh!

Look at what Job did instead. In 2:10 we read that Job stood up for GOD; “‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Even when Job’s friends came and accused him of having some sort of sin in his life – apparently they hadn’t heard GOD’s opinion of Job – Job lamented his own conception and birth (chapter 3) but he didn’t lament GOD’s touch on his life. In the coming chapters we see Job’s “friends” (with friends like these…) telling Job he is claiming to be “innocent” (4:7), but he can’t be if GOD is doing this bad stuff to him. Job has to deserve this kind of treatment for something that is hidden. Eliphaz goes so far as to say that he saw a vision in a dream that said that no one can claim to “be more pure than his Maker” (4:17), which Job, so far, hadn’t claimed to be!

His friends go on and on and on about how Job must have done something – anything – to deserve this punishment from GOD: he must be guilty, but denying it. Job defends himself against their accusations (as did GOD’s statements to Satan regarding Job), and Job answered them and defended himself in chapters 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, and 26-31, the youngest “friend” standing up and berating Job for six chapters (32-38).

Job 32:1 says, “So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.” Is that a bad thing? Remember, GOD considered Job a “blameless and upright man” of whom there were “none like in all the earth”. I think that Job was just agreeing with GOD and that’s a good thing to do! (“Where two or more agree as touching anything…” Job and GOD in agreement are two or more, correct?)

In the end of the book we see GOD speaking out of the whirlwind and asking Job questions that there is no way he can say “Yes, I can”, or “Yes, I am” to. But listen to the questions and they could just as easily be directed at Job’s three “friends”, too. Then, after GOD is finished questioning Job, what happens? Is it then that Job is punished? Is it then that – after saying he was more righteous than GOD – the Lord finally takes a whack at Job and gives him leprosy, break his leg, makes him blind, makes him have erectile dysfunction? No.

The loving, gentle, kind, forgiving, merciful, graceful GOD of the Bible does none of those things. We see what happened to a man who GOD accused to his face of claiming to be more righteous than him, GOD spoke to Job’s “friends” in 42:7-8 and ordered them to make reparations with Job and to make offerings because GOD’s “wrath is aroused against you” because “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has (my italics).” GOD, who was supposedly punishing Job, told Job’s three friends that Job said what was right and they had not.

Adding frosting to the top of the cake, in 42:10-17 GOD restored Job’s losses after Job prayed for his friends – without GOD ordering Job to do so. GOD restored Job’s losses so much that He gave Job “fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys”, and seven sons and three daughters again and GOD made Job’s daughters very beautiful (it doesn’t say anything about the sons’ looks).

So, Christians who claim Job as “proof” that GOD punishes us with bad things happening to us, where is your proof? What lesson did Job, the "upright" and "blameless" man have to learn and where did GOD say, "Job, I did this to teach you lesson X"? Where is it that you found anything close to “proof” in Job of the GOD who punishes people and that we have to accept illnesses and pain from a loving, gentle, kind, forgiving, merciful, graceful GOD? I’d like them to show me where it is that GOD does that to His children because I truly do not see it in Job. Look at the words written there and see GOD's protection of Job, not His punishment and not a lesson for him. GOD was teaching our enemy something, not Job.

I can already hear some of you yelling, Oh, but Job suffered because of the lesson! He lost his children, but Job knew his children well enough to know that he had to do what was needed to cover them with GOD's forgiveness. He was given new children to replace those the enemy took. I won't read into Job, but maybe GOD knew something we did not? I don't know. Do you?

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© 2017 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“Earth Day”: Hypocrisy on Parade?

Not being believers in “Earth Day” practices, beliefs, or fears, we only remembered “Earth Day” after seeing all of the event signs and participants. For “Earth Day” of this year my husband and I were in the panhandle of Florida, birding (and yes, we drove there). We didn’t plan on birding in “celebration” of “Earth Day” as did others we met. It was just a free weekend for my hubby, the first he didn’t have to work in a while.

While we were spending time together as a couple sharing a common interest, we saw whole families walking toward the “Earth Day” event of their choice, vehicles lining the streets as the event’s parking lots overflowed with “one-dayers”: those who put on a show of caring for the earth for “Earth Day” only and otherwise may or may not recycle but do nothing else the rest of the year. You know: the people who go four wheeling on someone else’s property, light a bonfire there and drink beer until the wee hours, leaving the beer bottles/cans for the next person to clean up as they wend their way home, kicking up dirt and already planning their next foray into the forest.

We also saw those who are “true believers” and who practice their beliefs to some extent on a daily basis, but who were putting the lie to their beliefs. Think of it. The true believers’ activity on “Earth Day” included:

   • Their appliances and electrical devices were probably plugged in and working while they slept until their alarms went off. Their food was being cooled, water heated without a reason and their own bodies cooled via air conditioning while they slept under blankets.

   • They probably took hot showers and ate a normal breakfast before most of them got into their vehicles and drove to their “Earth Day” event.

   • At their “Earth Day” event, some of them boarded buses – giant fossil fuel users and polluters – in order to get to another area for that part of their “Earth Day” celebration.

   • After doing their “thing” for that portion of their “Earth Day”, they re-boarded the bus and went back to their original “Earth Day” meeting place and maybe did more there, or got back into their personal vehicle and drove it either to a restaurant to eat, another event, or maybe back home.

   • When they arrived home, they used more appliances – air conditioning, oven/stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, etc. – as well as lights, radio/television, electronic devices, etc., until they went to bed for the night during which their refrigerator still cooled their food, the air conditioner cooled them, and their hot water heater still heated water until needed the next morning as their electronic devices charged for the next day’s use.

So the reality of the “Earth Day” ceremony of going out and participating in something to prove that you are interested in, dedicated to, or a “true believer” in “helping” the earth is actually just hurting it.

Instead of doing all that is wrong and going to hurt the earth on “its day”, why don’t they:

   1) Turn off all of their electrical appliances at the breaker box the night before as they go to bed?

   2) Get up in the morning without showering (to preserve water) and pop a mint to freshen their breath?

   3) Get on bicycles and bike to the event where they would not use any water, nor create any pollution besides their own exhaling?

   4) When finished, bike home?

   5) Spend the rest of the day reading until bedtime and go to bed without eating or showering so that they didn’t use any electricity or water?

The next morning they could switch their breakers back on, shower after the hot water heater warmed things up and they could eat a hot breakfast after their “Earth Day” fast. Why not celebrate “Earth Day” that way so that you can help the earth on “Earth Day” instead of harming it? I think that would be a more fitting activity list for those who purport to put the earth as a priority in their lives.

For those who think that the earth is not being injured by humans living here and that the earth is not that fragile and who don’t believe that we should be worshipping the earth or anything else in this realm, we can go about our usual activities because we didn’t put our names to the lie. We can feel free to use our vehicles, appliances, electronic devices, hot water, etc. Not being a hypocrite is a wonderful thing and if we don’t believe in the “Earth Day” ceremony and we don’t participate in it, it’s also more fun.

If these make believers wanted to do something good for the earth instead of going out and participating in – or even participating in the planning of – “Earth Day” events, as they did this year, they would change things up. For every future “Earth Day” event of the future may I suggest the following?

   1) Plan all “Earth Day” events close enough to population centers that anyone in that population center wishing to attend may walk or ride a bicycle to the location.

   2) Plan events for “Earth Day” that would produce no carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or other emissions of any kind.

   3) Use no paper advertising for Earth Day” events should be used in order to save the trees: nothing in newspapers, magazines, brochures, snail mail letters, or flyers of any kind.

   4) Use no advertising that requires any kind of electrical support. No television, radio, internet, or robo-calls should be used so that polluting power companies cannot be used to get people to participate in “Earth Day”.

   5) All “Earth Day” events should be planned to not disturb the ground in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Planting trees, while symbolic, may be “good for” the earth, but it also lends itself to erosion in the area until the trees take hold.

   6) Use no water at “Earth Day” events for we all “know” that water is in short supply and that means that it should be used sparingly, instead of as a show to impress others, which is no better than having a swimming pool in your back yard that you keep filled, chlorinated and cleaned but rarely use.

   7) Don’t allow dogs at “Earth Day” events because they are humans’ pets and it is due to their existence that we humans have to pollute the earth via visits to the veteran’s office, trips to buy food, toys, to take them on walks, and during those walks, they drop pollutants and leave them to be picked up by others, or left to be washed into the earth.

   8) Make everyone stay on the pavement/asphalt because if they walk on the grass, who knows what new species may be growing there but killed off because of so many people trampling on them? There should be no hikes through the woods, no bike rides into the forest. Prevent everyone from touching the woods because they can harm it by participating in it.

   9) Allow only “true believers” to participate in “Earth Day” activities. Those who show up for “Earth Day” but do nothing otherwise besides recycle are hypocrites and we all know that being a hypocrite in anything harms any movement instead of adding to its followers. You can’t get a Planned Parenthood president to take a pro-life stance and expect Planned Parenthood to maintain donation inflow.

   10) If vehicles are used to attend the event they must be electric vehicles that have been charged via an electrical source that does not pollute (no coal power plants), kill nature's animals (no wind produced electricity), nor any water sourced electrical power. This way no harm can be done to the earth in order to drive to “Earth Day”.

   11) If you’re going to celebrate the earth, do so properly and hold a Wiccan/Gaia worship ceremony. After all, it’s a celebration of the earth, why not do the Wiccan/Gaia thing? If you’re really all that enamored of the earth, if you’re really going to honor it, why not admit that you worship it? It is your god? You hold it as a holy thing? At least those who are not zealots would see the road they’re headed down and the truth may snap some out of it.

That would be a much better “Earth Day”. No hypocrisy, no harm to “Mother Earth”, using no natural resources that demand stripping the earth of her plants, water, coal, wind, or whatever else must be used to create paper, electricity, or anything else to advertise, organize, or participate in the day, or creating pollution via people driving their vehicles or riding buses to the different events or locations. “Earth Day” would be a real celebration -- and worship -- of the earth if those who want to celebrate it would actually do so without doing more harm than good. Don’t you agree?

___________ © 2017 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How I Know GOD Is

Love. It’s just that pure, plain and simple. That’s how I know GOD is real. In 1 John 4:16 we see the truth: GOD is love. Without GOD there would be no love.

When I say “there would be no love” I mean exactly that. There would be no love in any form: no erotic (male/female marital love), filial (brotherly love), agape (love of GOD), nor “empathy love” that would make you run to help someone trapped in a burning car. None of those would exist. No one would realize that we were missing something because you never miss what you’ve never had. That’s how I know that we have the One, True GOD watching over us and loving us. There is love.

Without GOD, there would be no human motherly love toward her child. All human children would be born from animal instincts to mate and the children would be left to fend for themselves as though they were sea turtles (to choose something we’re all familiar with here in Florida). Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand, bury them and return to the sea. When it’s time for the eggs to hatch the mother is nowhere to be found and the babies make their ways out of the eggs, up out of the sand and – if they’re lucky – into the sea to make their way the best they can. Some don’t make it far from the nest thanks to sea gulls and other land predators, or they make it to the ocean only to live a day and be eaten by a predator in the sea. No mommy to take care of them, watch over them, instruct them in how to avoid being eaten by that sea gull, or defend them against the tiger shark or grouper once they get to the ocean. Human children would be left to themselves, like the turtles.

That’s not, however, the way we do it. Most women, once pregnant, trying to get pregnant because they desire a child so much their hearts ache for one, or at least once they’ve given birth and seen their child, have a mothering instinct that kicks in and a connection is made with the child and barring circumstances that are not the norm (substance abuse, sociopathy, etc.), will do everything she can to protect her child, go to extremes to feed, clothe and house her child. It’s an instinct, but it’s formed from, based and predicated upon love. She looks at the face of her newborn and falls so very deeply, inexplicably, irrevocably in love with her baby that most mothers will lay down her life for her child, no matter what. She’s that child’s mommy; nothing will stop that, change that, remove that, not even giving it up for adoption. Love makes this happen. Love proves that GOD is real.

Without GOD there would be no other forms of love: brotherly love, erotic (Eros) love (like between a bride and groom), or “empathy love”: the kind of love one has for a stranger when you help him get up off the ground after a hard fall, or buy him dinner when he’s hungry. Without GOD there would be none of that because, like sunlight, in order to have love there must be a source of love. GOD is that source.

Without GOD there would be no one willing to lay down his life for his fellow man, for “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It’s impossible to have that kind of sacrifice without having GOD’s example and gift of His Son who laid down His life for us so that we don’t have to face an eternity in hell if we choose to follow Him and accept His free gift. No one would be a cop, serve in the military, risk their lives to save a stranger or the stranger’s child from a rising river and a stalled and flooding vehicle. Without GOD there would be no firefighters willing to run into a burning building to rescue a trapped person, a dog who is whimpering in the locked apartment, or even the parakeet much loved by its elderly owner.

“Oh!” you smugly retort, “But they’re getting paid to do that!”

True, but they were not being paid to do so when they choose that career. Ask firemen (generic term meaning “people” in general) if they chose the career because they wanted the pay and you’ll be laughed at to your face. Ask them if they went into the career because they wanted to help people and that’s what will get a resounding “Yes” most often. They may or may not call it “brotherly love” or “empathy love” but that’s what it is: they risk laying down their lives for their fellow man every time they respond to a dangerous situation.

We all know that there is love and there is lust. Lust is not love if you will admit the truth. You may lust for someone (your neighbor, a celebrity, or a former high school classmate), but that doesn’t mean that you love them. “Eros love” – not lust, love – is what the bride and groom share that makes them truly commit to each other for life. That “until death do us part” portion of the wedding vows is not always followed but when given they are supposed to be meant and it’s supposed to be a real commitment. If it were not for this kind of love then most of the children in the world would be born out of lust (a lot more frequent nowadays than sixty years ago); the temporary joining of bodies in order to fulfill temporary animalistic desires, sometimes more desired by the male than the female. Eros love, as Helen Joy Lewis put it, “the most appreciative of all pleasures”(1) and is the kind of love that makes the marriage ceremony so solemn, so celebrate, so important and not to be mucked with via changing laws. The marriage kind of love is the one GOD talked about after creating Adam and Eve and he said to “be fruitful and multiply” and we learned in both the Old and New Testaments that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And Jesus instructed us “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” One flesh. One. That’s how deeply man and woman are joined together in love, not lust.

Look at how those who do not love act and you will see that there is a difference between those of us who do know GOD via knowing how to love and knowing love in return; no matter what kind of love we experience we do experience it. Those incapable of experiencing it are often called sociopaths because they do not connect with others, have no idea what right and wrong are and wouldn’t know how to treat others if they were not instructed in how to do so and were not restricted in their deeds because others are watching. Sociopaths cannot feel the love of others toward themselves nor do they know how to give love in return. They can fake it both ways, but they can’t really feel it. That’s why sociopaths can commit such heinous acts; no love – not even brotherly or empathy love -- equals no remorse.

Another example of not realizing the truth of GOD’s love and the way it affects people is the way those societies that do not follow the GOD of Christianity conduct themselves. ISIS is not following the GOD of Christianity; their god does not love them, he loves their acts if it happens to please him at the time but even their martyrdoms do not always please him and it holds no guarantees. Heaven is not promised in the Quran for martyrs. That was not even guaranteed to the prophet of Islam, Mohammed. Yet, they kill their own children for their god so that they may be able to spend time in heaven with the same god who they want to please so desperately that kill their own children so that he will be placated. That’s not love in my book. Nor is stoning your daughter, neighbor, sister, or wife to death because she dared drive a car, go outside by herself, not wear a full hijab. If that’s love I think a lot of us would say, “No thank you!” to love.

Look at how other societies do things, societies that do not follow the GOD of Christianity, and you will see other things that are scary, questionable, too negative to be considered a good thing. Am I saying that Christians always behave perfectly? No. I am saying that the overall differences between Christianity and other religions can be very minor as to be miniscule, to so big they can be considered enormous. Different religions sometimes have similar beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that the non-Christian religion is better than the Christian religion. Look at what each of them believes, teaches and practices (actions speak louder than words). Then tell me that the GOD of Christianity is subservient to, less than, not as good as the gods of other religions.

“Oh, but the Crusades!” you scream at your screen. The “crusades” were long ago and more about power and money than they were about religion. The Crusades really had nothing to do with religion; it had more to do with territory and who controlled it. Yes, the mask of Catholicism was worn, but it wasn’t really a religious war; it was about power and territory. The pope may have been involved, but that doesn’t mean that everything the pope did then nor currently does is based upon Biblical principles.

Now I want you to reread the first two sentences of the second paragraph. No love would look something like this: There would be no one willing to lay down his/her life for their fellow man. No one would be willing to give birth to babies because the baby in the womb would not illicit motherly love, but just the inconveniences of today’s abortion industry. Murder most heinous would be the norm; horrors of the worst kind being done to others for the fun of it. Bribery of the highest officials in the land would be normal. Robberies using whatever force needed to get what was wanted would be an hourly occurrence. Gang rapes the norm; animals would be treated as cruelly as evil hearts would do to them and no one would raise an eyebrow. Godless gangs would roam the streets doing as they wish without anyone even thinking of stopping them: there would be no law enforcement to do so because no one would be willing to lay down their lives for their fellow man. Think of any of the vile things one can do to a child that is currently done in the sex slave industry then multiply it by ten, twenty, thirty. That is what will be done without love because mercy stems from love and without it there would be no reason to stop.

That’s a world without love. That’s what tells me that GOD is: “I Am that I Am.” Without Him and His intercession into the minds, hearts, souls and spirits of mankind, our world would be so very dark and hateful that you would not want to recognize it. GOD is love and love exists. Our world is – for the most part – a better place than that. If GOD was not real, it would all look like ISIS and it would all be darkness, hatred, murder, horrendous things done in the name of whatever they choose to call it.

It’s just that simple. GOD is love and it comes from and is part of Him. If you love anyone or anything you know GOD is the source of that love for without Him, it would not be love. He gave His only begotten Son – who chose to do what was necessary for Him to do in order to save us – to die in our stead. That’s love. If it weren’t for Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice for us we would be doomed to receive the eternity in hell that we deserve.

GOD is love. Without Him we would be demons not even as close to acting as civilized as the wildest animals, the smallest brained slugs, the hyenas that laugh at civilization or the deepest ocean depth’s creatures that never see light. Darkness would not begin to describe us, our souls, our actions, our filth.

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1) Helen Joy Lewis, “The Four Loves” as published in “The Beloved Works of C.S. Lewis”, pg. 264: Inspirational Press, A Division of BBS Publishing Corporation, 450 Raritan Center Parkway, Edison, NJ, 08837: Harcourt Brace & Company, 622 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32897

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© 2017 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 9, 2017

GOD’s Protection of Cain

by Linda McKinney

How many times have I heard that GOD marked Cain with black skin because he killed his brother, Abel? I have heard hard hearts say so, I have seen it in writing in places where it should have never been put to paper (or internet) and I have heard it spoken by bigoted, misled, ignorant people. To me, it is a disgusting statement, sentiment, misnomer, idiocy. Those who believe such a lie do not study their Bibles and do not know the Word of GOD or they would never have believed such a perversion of GOD’s Word.

Let’s look at the truth because it is desperately needed. In Genesis 4 it states:

"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

"9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden."
If you read what is actually said, GOD sent Cain from ever seeing GOD’s face again and GOD put a mark on Cain that would – read it carefully – protect him from harm: “lest any finding him should kill him.”
The KJV Bible was written in Old English and the Old English definition of “lest” is:

conjunction (subordinating; takes should or a subjunctive verb)
1. so as to prevent any possibility that:
So the meaning of the term is “So as to prevent any possibility that any finding him should kill him.” The mark GOD put upon Cain was a protective mark, not a mark of shame, or of being an inferior being! GOD still loved Cain and didn’t want him dead. GOD put a mark of protection on Cain so that no one would try to harm him.

We know that Cain lived a long life because he not only got married in the land of Nod, he also had children and built a city that he named after his first son, Enoch. He had other children as well but the Bible never says for how long Cain lived – with the mark of GOD upon him – but the life spans listed in the Bible of his relatives at the time were along the lines of 930 years, 912 years, 905 years, etc. GOD’s mark on Cain did not mean that he lived longer nor shorter than his kin, and the years mentioned here are his father, Adam’s, his brother, Seth’s, and Seth’s son, Enos, respectively.

Also, nowhere does it say that the mark GOD put upon Cain is genetic. Nowhere do you see that GOD marked Cain and Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Methusael, Lamech, Jabal, Jubal and Tubalcain, Cain’s descendants. GOD made it clear that the mark was upon Cain, but when GOD puts a mark upon one person it doesn’t automatically mean that it is inherited down the ages. I have a bigger than usual birthmark that neither of my children have. It’s a form of a “mark” that involves the skin, which is where the bigots say was the mark of Cain. Why did my sons not inherit the mark since GOD marked me?

Cain’s descendant (four generations later), Lamech, murdered someone as did his ancestor. However, in this case, GOD does not mark Lamech. He has to make it on his own. Even without GOD’s marking of protection upon him, Lamech lived until he was 707 years old! That’s not as old as his ancestors but it was about the same as the rest of the people of that time. He died before his son, Noah, built the ark, so GOD saved Lamech, the murderer, from drowning.

If having dark skin was a bad thing, why would GOD allow Song of Solomon Chapter 1 to say:

"The Bride

"5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

"6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

"7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?"
So, bigots, where is your evidence that GOD marked Cain with black skin because he was a murderer? Where is your evidence that darker skin was a mark of anything, much less anything bad? You use Cain as a reason to hate blacks, assuming that darker skin was the mark of Cain. The mark of Cain is not delineated in the Bible, but bigots choose to say that it was dark skin, a certain hair texture. In saying so they not only betray their bigotry but they also betray their ignorance of the Bible’s actual truths.

Truth: GOD does not love nor condemn anyone based upon skin tone. GOD looks at whether they have a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s the only factor taken into account in GOD’s book. Anyone who uses skin tone as a deciding factor for whether to like someone, to associate with anyone, to deny them the basic courtesies of civility is going to be judged by GOD and it won’t be good for that bigot. So those who are slandering GOD’s Word (see John 1:1-5 and tell me you want to continue doing so) should not only be ashamed of yourselves but you should fall on your knees immediately and beg GOD’s forgiveness for your slander, lies, hatred and for judging people for something for which they may not be guilty (see Matthew 7:1-3) but you may!

It’s time to stop the lying. It’s time to stop hating. It’s time to stop slandering GOD’s Word and start reading and understanding the Word of GOD. It’s time for bigots to lay down their hatred, pick up the Light and the Word of GOD and to repent of their wrong.

By the way: it goes for the other way around, too. If you have dark skin and you hate people with lighter skin, stop it. You’re doing the same thing for an unjustified reason, too.

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© 2017 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 25, 2016

My Christmas Present to You: "In the Shadow of Christmas Day"

© 2016 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

In the shadow of Christmas day
And the wake of Santa’s sleigh,
The wrappings of presents set out by the curb to stay…

In the dawning of the day after
Recalling dreams come true and laughter
The voice of one calling in the desert -- quietly as if from rafters --

If one listens to the hushed sound
“I love you” is the message that resounds
Will you listen actually hear; in your heart rebound?

Christmas is not a present to unwrap on Christmas Day,
But the Gift of One Who was born to take our sins away –
To take our place upon the Cross after being mocked, scourged, He was put on display…

For all to deride and spit upon as they walked by,
He was labeled “King of the Jews” with a cry,
“No! Not that!” unwanted, they said it was a lie.

But King He was – over time, space and all
That man knew then, knows now – big and small,
He died there, begging forgiveness for those who refused His call…

Yes, blind, rebellious, hard-hearted, they refused to see
Truth, hung there upon the Tree,
Rising again, whole but scarred, eternal marks on him instead of me.

His back is ever shredded, from lashes given to a Babe laid upon the hay,
The nails left eternal marks on the Child Who did obey,
Thorns dripped blood down royal brow on young man who gave His life for you that day.

In the shadow of Christmas when we celebrate the day
The Child born to take our sins away
Began the greatest, hardest journey that calls to you every day…

“Come to me! I love you!” the Child cries out to you
But in rebellion, egotistical, sinful people cling to what is untrue
And leave the arms open wide to receive them, empty as his heart so longs for you.

Wrap the presents and bake the pies,
Cling to family, worship the lies,
While in eternal love your Savior’s heart cries

For if there be any sadness in heaven you know
‘Tis for those who refuse His love and on their own ways go
Fr He knows their path will lead them to eternal throes…

And God’s Baby Son was born to save all men
No matter color, nation, creed, He cries out to them,
“I love you! Come to me!” they turn their backs, their choice, themselves condemn.

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© 2016 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Disney’s “Frozen”: Bad and Inconsistent

It’s been three years since the Disney movie “Frozen” was released in 2013. My first impression of the movie - via the commercials for it - was not good. I immediately thought that it was a bad movie for children – especially girls.

Until recently I had not watched the movie, and without having done so I made a negative comment about it at the checkout line somewhere and was rebuffed by the cashier because of that comment. I went home and looked up the IMDB.com synopsis of the movie and wondered if my first impression had been wrong.

I did not plan to watch the movie and let the whole thing slip from my mind until last Sunday when Mom and I returned from our seven night Caribbean cruise. One of the networks was showing “Frozen” and I asked Mom if she’d ever seen it. She admitted to only seeing snippets of it so I asked if she’d like to see the whole thing. She said “Sure.”

Before I go any further, I need to post a disclaimer: We do not do Disney. We don’t go to Disney World, buy Disney products, watch Disney movies, or anything else Disney. Thus we had no idea as to what “Frozen” was about except for my impression via commercial. Watching the movie for my Mom speaks to how much I would do for her so we watched the movie.

Watching the movie proved my impressions correct. It was a horrible movie. I made notes that evening after it was over as to what I thought about it. If you like the movie you may not wish to read any further. Stop now. If you want to know what I thought of it read on. I warn you here and now, though, that it isn’t good.

There were bad messages throughout the movie that I think our children could do without. The list is nine messages long and is as follows:

1) Elsa’s birth power to change things into snow and ice was to be hidden away, ashamed of and made into a negative, not a positive. That’s akin to making a handicap into something to be ashamed of. It wasn’t Elsa’s fault that she was born with that power. Yet, in the movie, her parents apparently know of her gift from a very early age and teach her to hide it, to be afraid of it, to be ashamed of it. It’s a detriment, not a positive as it could have been. “Be ashamed of your gift” is a bad message, yet that’s the message the movie all but starts with.

2) When Elsa accidentally injures Anna her parents take them to a troll to have Anna healed and where Elsa was told that fear would be her enemy (which it is for everyone) and she has to learn to live with it but control it. Immediately afterward the movie shows Elsa’s parents locking her away and teaching her to let fear control her life entirely! If fear is not supposed to control her as the troll says, then isn’t locking Elsa away in a room and isolating her doing exactly what the magic troll says not to do? Would not a better lesson from the parents for Elsa have been to look fear in the face and kick its ever-living butt via facing it head-on and not letting it control her? Too bad the movie writers didn’t think of that and write it that way. Instead, fear controlled her for years, no matter what the troll said.

3) When locked away in that room Elsa chose to not respond when Anna was at the door. Even if her power was a danger to her sister, Elsa’s choosing to shut her sister out from behind the door is again allowing fear to control her life and further removing her sister from her life. The movie doesn’t even hint at that being wrong, which it should.

4) Coronation Day arrives and Elsa finally emerges from her isolation only to accidentally (because she feared it happening) reveal the truth of her powers to the whole village and her guests. As she runs away she starts singing the song “Let It Go!” and the words are very telling:
It's time to see what I can do
“To test the limits and break through
“No right, no wrong, no rules for me
“I'm free”
I’ve heard time and time again how the movie had good examples for girls in the character of the two sisters. Really? “Let it go” being the breakout song for the movie is a good example? “No right, no wrong, nor rules for me, I’m free” is a good example you’d want your children to follow? I think I’d rather have them follow the example of Ruth in the Bible than that. Do you really want to give your daughters permission to live that way? According to one source, the song was supposed to have been written for a villain and a different movie and was slightly rewritten to be used in this movie anyways.

5) The whole idea of a strong heroine is undermined in Anna’s effort to save Arendelle during which she has to have a man’s help in order to even reach her destination, Elsa’s frozen castle. Yes, she did fight off the wolves – with the help of Hans - and she did reach her destination – with his help. So she’s brave enough to face the dangers, but she would never have reached the castle without Hans’s help; actually without the help of two other males: Sven the male moose and Olaf the snowman! So where is the excellent message there? She can’t even find the staircase without a man’s help! If she had accomplished her goal (or even found the stairs) on her own would that not have been a better message?

6) When Anna does reach Elsa and asks her to come help save their hometown and to stop making the snow, Elsa reacts in her selfish “no right, no wrong, no rules” manner: she creates a snow monster that tries to kill Anna and Hans! That’s something a loving sister would do, now isn’t it? She tried to have Anna murdered because Anna asked Elsa to help save their hometown. Right and wrong discarded and ignored because it wasn’t convenient for Elsa to come down and stop the winter. That is a good role model for girls, isn’t it? (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

7) The Prince, Christoph, is a toad who only wanted Elsa and Anna’s kingdom and after Elsa’s attempt to kill Anna via snow monster failed, Christoph tried his hand at it. He refused to give her “true love’s kiss” and locked her in a room, announcing her death prematurely and blaming Elsa whom he then set out to murder. Anna’s example to girls is to not take your time and get to know a man and find out who he really is but to betroth yourself to the first guy who comes along with smooth moves and honeyed words. No, she had to find out that the guy she gave her heart to was a power-hungry, murderous Prince of Lies and almost paid the ultimate price for her foolish heart-on-her-sleeve choices.

8) True love was to be the cure for Elsa’s latest injury of her sister, which inevitably resulted in Anna’s total freezing. True love was available for a kiss from Hans but it wasn’t what the writers wanted. Hans was not to be her true love (as was also done in Disney’s “Maleficent”) cure, but instead, her sister was her “true love”. Familial love – female to female in both cases mentioned – is the “true love” that was the cure. Forget that the traditional “true love” is male/female resulting in marriage and happily ever after; it’s a female/female love that will save the needy. Is that the proper message for young, impressionable girls?

9) Prince Christoph tries to kill Elsa and he captures her and locks her up in a dungeon. She escapes only with the help of males. Again, where is the good example for girls when a “no right, no wrong, no rules” female needs the help of males to escape the evil of the lying Prince? If you’re going to make a woman a good example, let them have a woman who gets herself out of a tough situation without the aid of a man. Moreover, if you are a “no right, no wrong, no rules” person, wouldn’t Elsa have done whatever it took to get out of that situation? Yes, I do mean “whatever”. No right and no wrong equal “whatever” does it not?

Those are the “bad example” problems I have with the show. Nine issues that should have been addressed differently were left in as bad examples for girls. Those issues should have been all of the negatives I have against the movie, but there is one glaringly, obviously bad example of the movie makers’ lack of story integrity. Can you tell me what that is?

The first time Elsa hurt Anna was when they were playing in the ballroom and Elsa hit Anna’s head with the power to freeze. Before they took Anna to the trolls the movie showed Elsa crying and cradling Anna in her arms. At the end of the movie Elsa stands up after Anna’s frozen body stops Christoph’s blade and Elsa embraces Anna’s frozen body, crying and holding her. My belief is that if Elsa really cared about Anna when they were children and Elsa first injured Anna, would Elsa not have kissed her then and cured her at that time if it is female/female familial love that could have cured her? Would that not have negated a need for a trip to the trolls? If a sisterly kiss can totally thaw the frozen Anna after Elsa’s coronation, would not the same kiss have cured a simple head injury and white hair when they were children?

Considering the negatives with “Frozen” the movie it is not a movie to be taken lightly and, IMHO, should not be something that parents allow their children to watch nor to emulate. “Frozen” is a horrible movie with a bad, inconsistent, poorly conceived storyline with horrible messages for all. After all, if being “free” is having “no right, no wrong, no rules” – including attempting to kill (or at the very least injure) your own sister – would it not be better to let your children watch something more like CBN’s “Superbook” series, or even old episodes of “Lassie” both of which teach good things instead of negatives?

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© 2016 Linda McKinney All Rights Reserved