Shark Weak: Discovery Channel sinks to new lows while feeding us the fishiest of fare

Discovery

I LOVED Shark Week. It was fascinating. A entire week of real footage of real sharks eating real prey and real scientists studying them and their unreal behavior. Sharks, sharks and more sharks all day, every day for a whole freakin’ week on Discovery Channel. It was a really fun time to get my geek on.

Then Shark Week started tanking. Discovery began offering fish feces instead of shark documentaries. The low point was the 2013 “mockumentary,” Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. The blasted show enticed me and my wife—and 4.8 million other suckers—into watching the search for the “submarine,” a 35-60 feet long prehistoric mega shark.

Less believable than Jaws 3-D

We watched with bated breath as “researchers” pursued the extinct monster they say could be responsible for the loss of a charter fishing boat and all hands off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.

To be fair, “Certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized” appeared at the beginning and end of Megalodon. We missed the beginning. This tidbit of information appeared again two hours later and way after a tease of Blair Witch Project-like “discovered” footage of a mysterious and colossal sea creature ravaging the vessel. Also, a disclaimer like this typically indicates that the material is based on actual events, not on fanboy fantasy.

With actors posing as “shark experts,” Discovery led us nincompoops on a taut, white-knuckle ride to a “I-can’t-believe-I-fell-for-this” destination of duh. To be fair, I’ll take a bit of blame—we wanted to believe that Megalodon lives. Which is what the shark oil salesmen at Discovery banked on. Literally.

Too much people people, not enough sharky sharky

I should’ve seen it coming. Since 2000 or so, I saw signs that Shark Week began chumming for chumps. When they ran out of shark footage, they began relying on manipulative editing and music and supposed shark people freaking out every time a shark bumped into a boat or shark cage.

In typical reality TV style, Discovery now features fishermen and adventurers as shark “experts.” And they spend more time showing footage of the people researching/studying/exploiting sharks than they do of the freakin’ fish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by sharks, not manufactured drama of a shark “documentary” crew. Watch any Shark Week show and in a matter of minutes a so-called shark expert will let out a manipulative, “BLEEP…that BLEEPING shark is BLEEPING huge. Le’s get the BLEEP outta here.”

No, Discovery Channel—YOU get the BLEEP outta here. I’ll tune in again when you stop being a reality TV/ratings weasel and get back to your roots—discovery of our big, beautiful planet. And its sharks. And while you’re at it, stop making the jobs of real shark experts even more difficult.

Discovery

Oops, Discovery did it again

Michael Phelps races a shark. Really, Discovery? Turns out he raced a computer-generated shark. And Shark Week fans are up in arms over this? What can you expect from a channel that brought you Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives? So after a 2015 heartfelt apology and pledge to be “focused more on science and research this time around” Discovery gives us a Phelps/Jaws race that wasn’t.

Sadly, Discovery Channel is not about discovery and real science anymore. It’s about ratings and ad money. Shark Week was fun while it kept it real. Now it’s just a bucket of stinky chum for hungry, indiscriminate viewers who, Discovery apparently believes, will swallow anything that’s flung at them.

State-sponsored anti-discriminatory discrimination? Way to fight “discriminatory” laws by discriminating against other states, California.

 

Image may be subject to copyright.When California deems other states’ laws as discriminatory, what do they do? They pass discriminatory laws to fight these discriminatory laws.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” trumpets California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

So in the spirit of prejudicial law dismantling, California has assembled a prejudicial law (AB 1887) that restricts state-funded travel to Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas.

“While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” says Becerra. “That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

Make no mistake—California is committed to the intolerance of intolerance. Especially with beliefs they cannot tolerate.

It seems that California lawmakers considers any community in any state as their community and will not tolerate discrimination against any LGBTQ member in any community…because they’re part of California’s (global) LGBTQ community, you see. Wait…what?

We are the world. Or at least the nation. Or maybe just the state.

Which discriminatory laws of other states prompted heroic measures like AB 1887? Here’s one:

Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” (House Bill 1523) prohibits the state from discriminating against churches and businesses that believe marriage should be between one man and one woman and who decline to provide services to facilitate same sex marriages because doing so would violate “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

Here’s another:

South Dakota’s Senate Bill 149 shields faith-based and private child placement agencies from state-sponsored discriminatory measures. This means that if these agencies refuse to provide any service, including adoption or foster care services, on the basis of their religious convictions, the state will not retaliate against them.

So rather than “opening the door to discrimination” as opponents claim, the bills actually close the door on state-sponsored discrimination against the free exercise of religion—in theses cases—the violation of religious entities sincerely held beliefs.

Chucking the discriminatory First Amendment

State retaliation against religious entities, which violates the First Amendment separation of church and state, is an unconstitutional practice California champions and demands that other states employ…or…dun dun DUN! They’ll wield the incredibly intimidating travel ban.

It seems that Texas and the other pariah states are shaking in their boots. Here’s a response from the Texas Governor’s office: “California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can’t stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas.”

Snark attacks and giggles aside, the crux of this debate is this:

California considers faith-based entities sincerely held beliefs concerning gender, marriage and sexuality backward and discriminatory. They will not tolerate discrimination in any form, but don’t seem to realize that using state power to discriminate against entities they deem discriminatory is a form of discrimination. And so is their silly travel ban.

Or worse—they know very well that they’re doing the very thing they decry, but justify it based on their sincerely held beliefs. Beliefs that run counter to theirs “send all of us several steps back,” as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra so sanctimoniously pronounced.

According to Becerra, California will not tolerate people being “deprived” of their “precious” rights—except those people whom California seeks to deprive of their constitutional religious liberty rights.

Dear Governor Brown and California lawmakers,

If your voters allow you to abuse the power of your state to discriminate against citizens and private businesses, that’s their failure. Why would you expect other states to believe as you do and jettison the constitutional separation of church and state? Do you truly believe that your beliefs about gender, marriage and sexuality trump others’ beliefs?

A travel ban? Really? AB 1887 makes you look arrogant, small-minded and silly. Sorry, but your bill is as impotent as it is self-important.

Here’s a time-tested truth: Your sincerely held beliefs about marriage and gender are the product of a relatively recent zeitgeist and are shared by a minority. Notwithstanding, the Constitution protects your right to hold them.

Vast majorities in societies worldwide for centuries have embraced sincerely held beliefs regarding marriage and gender. Don’t they deserve the same protection?

Kim Jong-un and North Korea: How propaganda and a cult of personality blinds and binds a nation.

Kim

Talk about hogs running the proverbial animal farm. In North Korea, a prodigious propaganda machine powers a chubby pseudo-deity with a funny haircut who runs the whole stinking show.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea, maintains a cult of personality that venerates three generations of dictators: grandfather, Kim Il-sung, father Kim Jong-il, and current man-god, Kim Jong-un.

Its depth and scope of misinformation and brainwashing surpasses even that of Stalinist Russia. Like all cults and dictatorships, North Korea elevates flawed, capricious men and transforms them into semi-gods in the minds of citizens who come to believe their leaders can do wrong.

North Korea’s tandem of propaganda and cult of personality is especially effective because it leverages a national identity of civic duty and loyalty to leadership.

Propagating a god

The Kim family cult began around 1949 during the rule of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. Through ubiquitous propaganda and “education,” North Korea’s youngest citizens were taught that they were fed, clothed and nurtured in all aspects by the “grace of the Chairman.”

One of these children, defector and author Kang Chol-hwan, describes the state-sponsored delusion like this:

“To my childish eyes and to those of all my friends, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were perfect beings, untarnished by any base human function. I was convinced, as we all were, that neither of them urinated or defecated.

Who could imagine such things of gods?”

Cra cra? It’s not that simple. The power of propaganda and the cult of personality are immense and virtually all-consuming. Brainwashing is an effective mind-control tool. Just ask former Scientologists, cult members and defectors of totalitarian regimes.

Kim
Kim Il-sung

Glorious leader forever

Kim Il-sung is the Eternal President. Eternally. Why? Because after becoming the nation’s first president, he had the position retired. It’s like when an American sports team retires a legendary player’s jersey number. Another legend can follow; but none can ever wear the first legend’s number.

The Eternal President’s likeness also is virtually eternal. There are a roughly 34,000 statues of him in North Korea. His birthday is the equivalent of the American Fourth of July. And, of course, his greatness is taught in the classroom.

Students memorize Kim Il-sung’s speeches and marvel at his state-imagined accomplishments, like when he single-handedly defeated the Japanese at the end of the occupation of Korea.

Over the course of his 46-year rule, Kim Il-sung was granted many titles such as Sun, Great Chairman, Heavenly Leader and others. He also was awarded the “Double Hero Gold Medal” because, after all, a double hero is twice as good as a single one.

The North Korean state even created a calendar just for Kim Il-sung. While the rest of the world operates in 2017, North Korea’s current year is “Juche 105” (105 years after the Eternal President’s birth).

Rainbows and uniforms

North Korea’s propaganda machine engaged in myth-making for Kim Il-sung’s son, Kim Jong-il, as well. According to legend, his birth was heralded by a swallow and caused winter to change to spring, a star to light the sky, and a double rainbow to spontaneously appear.

Propaganda has it that Kim Jong-il could walk and talk before the age of six months and control the weather based on his mood, among other state-issued accomplishments.

Like shooting a 38-under par the first time he picked up a golf club. This epic links outing included no less that 11 holes in one. Reportedly, it was so easy that he quickly grew bored with the game and ceremoniously retired.

Renaissance ruler

According to Kim Jong-il’s official biography, he authored 1,500 books during his three years at his father’s college, Kim-Il-sung University. Somehow between his book writing and studies, he found time to pen six full operas—”all of which are better than any in the history of music,” declares the biography.

Kim

When Kim Il-sung died in 1994, Kim Jong-il declared a national mourning period for three years. Three years?

Man, that’s a long time to grieve—legitimately or otherwise. To help his people maintain a tearful facade, the Dear Leader punished those who faltered in following state-written mourning rules.

Not to be outdone, the current despot Kim Jong-un holds at least six titles, one of which makes him “Wonsu,” the second highest rank in North Korea’s military despite having no military experience. And this “promotion” is in addition to his title of Supreme Commander.

Apparently, Kim Jong-un, like his father, was also a prodigy. North Korean students are instructed that he could drive at three and win yacht races at nine. And that he’s a skilled artist and composer of musical scores.

Kim

Life as a god-king

Kim Jong-un enjoys unworldly opulence while most in his locked-down nation live barely above or in abject poverty. He smokes Western cigarettes, plays video games, rides jet skis and indulges an NBA basketball fetish while his communist comrades feed the machine that powers his imperial fun.

But he does put down his Xbox controller and cigarette long enough to order up some real-world destruction. According to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Kim Jong-un has executed at least 70 officials since taking power.

And to keep his own family members in line, he whacked his uncle, Jang Song Thaek and had his older half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, assassinated in Malaysia.

Kim Jong-un’s seemingly favorite method of execution is death by anti-aircraft guns. Cute. How Dr. Evilesque—but without the funny.

Kim

Absolute corruption

Like all dictators. Kim Jong-un wields a crazy amount of power and more than any mortal can handle. Especially for someone who’s lived an unreal and kingly life for all of his 32-35 years. (We can’t be sure of his age because the exact year of his birth seems to be a state secret.)

One thing’s for certain though—Kim Jong-un’s upbringing and sheltered existence makes Donald Trump’s childhood seem mundanely normal. But it’s his ideology that makes the portly man-god dangerous and unpredictable.

And here’s the scariest part: Kim Jong-un has his pudgy finger on the nuclear and chemical weapons buttons of the DPRK. Worse, he’s seeking intercontinental warhead delivery capability. Scary stuff, indeed. 

Update: 4.20.17 breaking news in typical DPRK style…

So now the world waits to see if our loose cannon of a president can stare down a porky young ruler with a questionable grip on reality and pressure him into giving up his nuclear weapons aims. Fat chance.

Kim

Call me crazy, but it seems a fool’s errand to get this nutty guy to back down now when he’s never had to before. Trump would do better to offer him lifetime courtside tickets to any and all NBA games.

I fear force is the only pressure point to which the Supreme Leader will respond. Apparently, Kim Jong-un doesn’t listen to cautions from big brother China. Meanwhile, his people starve and suffer under yet another Communist failure of a state.

Communism FAIL

Socialism is a nice idea that does not work precisely because its tenets run counter to human nature. People will always want to rise above others and take more than their share of the loaf of bread. It’s just how we are.

We’re bent by greed, malice, selfishness and a corrupt, broken world that’s incompatible with the empty promises of socialism.

Communism is socialism with teeth; and it provides a barnyard for the strongest pigs to take over the farm. It happened in Russia and Cuba and China and elsewhere. Sadly, swine rule is firmly in place in North Korea even as its soldiers blindly goose-step for state cameras while grinding the hopes of true freedom underfoot.

Diversity no longer make us stronger. Without a shared dream, our nation is not truly American.

Diversity

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. ~Jimmy Carter

Mosaic? Sounds soaring, but what exactly is a mosaic in this context?

Here’s a definition of mosaic that may help clear things up: A combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole: an incompetently constructed mosaic of competing interests.

Oops. Maybe not.

I understand the different people and beliefs part … but yearnings? Hopes? Dreams? How is there significant diversity in these? I guess if one thinks of yearning in terms of vocation. But this makes little sense because virtually everyone’s vocational yearning is to be successful and satisfied with one’s work, maybe to even make a difference.

Hopes? Let’s see, virtually everyone from every country, culture and ethnicity wants to live a fulfilled, stable, peaceful life. Most want to be happily married and many hope to rear healthy, intelligent and successful children. Where’s the diversity here?

Dreams? NOW we’re talking.

Let’s talk about a dream that once made our nation strong. But it’s not about diversity for diversity sake. It’s about a shared American Dream that unites us.

This was a dream that beckoned hopeful immigrants from all over the world to come to America for the chance to build new lives through opportunity and freedom. If they could only get to our shores, they reasoned, they could work hard to become citizens in a nation that, far from perfect, afforded them the best chance to build new lives.

What happened to this dream? It still exists but has been overshadowed by the limiting, shaming and militant god of cultural diversity. If my grandfather had arrived in 2017 instead of 1909, he would find a once promising and relatively united country torn and tugged by division and a glorification of all things different.

Building barriers, not bridges

Instead of seeing a diverse nation of fellow immigrants now citizens united by a shared American Dream, he’d likely be encouraged to not only preserve his cultural heritage, but to resist fully embracing an American culture—the very culture he’d scrimped and saved and sacrificed everything to join and become an American.

Today’s diversity dealers don’t build bridges; by overemphasizing our differences, they build barriers.

Our once shared American Dream has has been trampled and disparaged by a small, but vocal minority who decry its legitimacy. A dream that galvanized generations of immigrants has been replaced by a glorification of cultural diversity.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with cultural diversity per se—but there’s everything wrong with it when it divides us. Diversity, with the right perspective and emphasis, makes us uniquely American.

Diversity as America

What began as a rekindling of interest in our rich ethnic and cultural origins has become an elevation of all things diverse. And by making diversity an obsession, proponents have denigrated the idea of conforming to a shared national identity.

Diversity

Here’s a fun factoid:

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “diversity” only acquired a positive connotation as recently as 1992.

Since then, diversity means so much more than … well, what it truly means.

Contrary to current collegiate instruction, diversity does not make for a utopian paradise of differing and self-contained, yet somehow cohesive mini-cultures. And it does not weave a strong national tapestry or create a beautiful mosaic.

What did diversity mean before its meaning was co-opted?

Diversity is rooted in a Latin word for disagreement, which naturally occurs when people of differing cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and worldviews come together. It’s inevitable—just as this article will inevitably raise hackles.

Worthwhile diversity is about commitment. Not divisiveness.

In America, what unites people with differences is a commitment to a common dream: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a central tenet of our Constitution, which, by the way, immigrants swear by before they can become U.S. citizens.

The oath, in part, is this:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America … that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

Renounce allegiance … bear true faith to the same? These words confirm a commitment to a uniquely American way of thinking, an embrace of uniquely American values and dreams. The words of the oath are a commitment to … dun dun DUN … assimilation.

Assimilation is good, not bad

Sadly, assimilation has become a dirty word just as “melting pot” has become a dirty phrase. But here’s the truth—an immigrant cannot truly commit to becoming an American nor fulfill his or her oath without assimilating.

The idea that successful immigration can occur without assimilation is a relatively new construct—and it’s naturally illogical.

A foolish, mouthy minority has convinced a generation of young minds to believe that a culture with different beliefs, yearnings, hopes and dreams makes a stronger society and nation. This is nonsense.

Here’s the truth:

A culture with different people with different beliefs and points of origin can be strong—but only if its people are united by a common dream.

Don’t believe me?

Read about the world-changing actions of our “Greatest Generation.” Ask an elderly American what made his or her country great. They certainly won’t cringe at the mention of a melting pot. If they’re honest—and most are—they’ll tell you Jimmy Carter is full of you know what.

This quote by an earlier president make much more sense:

“Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.” ~George Washington

Diversity

Is nationalism a dirty word?

It is now. Somehow to be a nationalistic nation is to be a racist one. Even though our country have been its strongest, wisest and best when we’ve been the most nationalistic.

Which begs the question: Is it wrong to be a nationalistic superpower? The greatest nations in history were powerful, altruistic and influential in their time. And they were nationalistic … without being Nazi.

Take this test: 

If you see the word nationalism and think Nazi or Alt Right, you’ve been indoctrinated by the media and far left.

If nationalism makes you think about our nation coming together after Pearl Harbor, your mind is still free and historically sensitive and unencumbered by propaganda.

Let’s look at this logically.

Allow me to ask some penetrating questions regarding this diversity-as-virtue motif:

When athletes on a sports team hold different beliefs about how to reach their goal of winning a championship, will they be as likely to become champions?

If soldiers in an army have different ideas about how to win a battle and aren’t willing to obey orders, will the army be as effective a fighting force?

When employees of a company believe in following different business models to achieve profitability, will the company stand the best chance to succeed?

If we hold different beliefs, yearnings, hopes and dreams, can we be strong as a nation?

Yes, we can. Sorry, O-Dawg.

But only if we lose the hyphen and see ourselves as Americans first and foremost. We desperately need to re-examine this infatuation with elevating and glorifying cultural differences. If you want to appreciate other cultures, please do so. But don’t do so at the expense of a shared American culture.

The opportunity to pursue happiness and the American Dream can be as inviting, accepting and amazing for us and our children and grandchildren as it was for our great-grandparents and their parents.

diversity

We’re different, but let’s be different together—as Americans.

Let’s resist the diversity despots who create barriers between us by emphasizing our differences. By coming together, we can get back to what Americans do best together—pursue a shared dream with innovation and spirit—and commitment.

And, while we’re at it, let’s drop the silly hyphen. It only gets in the way.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~Statue of Liberty inscription

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 4—Speed humps, crosswalks and men at work.

Californians

The way Californians see traffic and pedestrians is a funny thing. It’s like the way they look at guns and people—instead of teaching humans to handle cars and firearms with care and common sense, they discriminate against the very things that can’t learn a thing—vehicles.

Take this crosswalk conundrum, for instance. What makes more sense—requiring a driver to stop a 7,000-plus pound pickup truck for a lone pedestrian waiting at a crosswalk or for the pedestrian to wait ’til the coast is clear and cross without the danger of another driver in the far lane running ’em over?

It’s about momentum … and physics

Is it me, or don’t it seem like human nature to wanna keep the momentum going in a vehicle rather than stopping for someone who should have sense enough to cross when it’s safe? Humans can stop on a dime, but vehicles take a lot more coin to come to a halt.

By now, you where this is going … things are done a whole lot different in Texas.

It’s more like the Old West there than it is in the Old West here. Texans decide for themselves when to cross the road based on their trusty eyeballs. In California, people rely on laws that establish bipedal supremacy instead of using their noggins.

Californians

Speed humps? Follow me, Californians.

Then there are these silly California “speed humps.” Speed humps? Those are what you see at a dog park. Where I come from, speed humps are called speed BUMPS. But either way, they’re just as annoying. These pesky little mounds of asphalt not only slow you down, they really exercise your pedal patience.

In Texas, you might find a couple of ’em in a strip mall parking lot. But in some parts of California, they’re placed every 30 feet or so. I dunno—maybe the powers that be think the more you annoy drivers, the safer they drive.

And then you got the “Follow Me” escort trucks that state lawmakers think are necessary to “Pilot” people safely past men (and women) at work on roads, bridges and, in the Sierra Nevada, piles of fallen rock. Here’s a Texas tip—use a few traffic cones and put the guys or girls holding STOP signs to work to make things go faster.

Californians
I can see this road work system making sense on two-lane roads, but they seem to employ it for just about any road. And most times, there are four or five workers loitering around watching two people do the work, anyways. They must be unionized.

Too much of a good thing

Public safety is paramount around here. It takes precedence over—like so many other things in California—good sense and personal responsibility. Maybe this stuff is another way the smart folks in Sacramento protect us from ourselves.

Where I come from, people protect themselves by making smart pedestrian and traffic decisions. It’s like how we teach our kids: “Wait ’til there are no cars comin’, Tommy, then cross the road.” The only laws we need are the laws of physics—big, heavy machines take a lot longer to stop than itty-bitty people.

So, let ’em blow by, and go when it’s clear.

The Shack: A rickety Emerging Church construct concealed in a stirring story of spiritual discovery

God

Have you ever had someone portray you as something you’re not? I have. I don’t like it. At all. I wonder how God feels about being misrepresented in The Shack? Probably not good.

Emotion and identification are powerful components of good fiction. William P. Young uses both effectively to craft a readable and powerful yarn that’s inspiring to many, confusing to others, and disheartening to me.

And now comes the movie version and another round of fresh emotions. Thanks, Hollywood.

What does The Shack have to do with the emerging church? Everything.

But first, what IS the emerging church? It’s a movement started by disaffected evangelical Christians who initially sought to make church more relevant in our postmodern age. In doing so, like Young with The Shack, they recreated a god, Christ-figure and spirit they can live with.

Young’s god in The Shack is a portly African-American woman named Papa who is warm, loving and accommodating in contrast with the cold, distant and demanding deity Young claims is the God of the Protestant Bible.

In a 2013 interview, Young said this:

“I’m a missionary kid and a preacher’s kid—evangelical, fundamental Protestant … You know, that’s about as distant from relationship with God as you can get. And it’s always been you know, religion that has been the primary impediment to actual relationship with God, because it creates a mythology about performance—that you can perform your way into the appeasement of the deity.”

God

Not to invalidate Young’s personal experience,

But don’t fundamental Protestants believe the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that there is nothing anyone can do to appease God? Hence the necessity of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross? If Jesus’ life and death removes “the impediment to actual relationship with God,” what does Young mean by a “mythology” about performance?

What I think Young means is this:

Many emerging church adherents believe that evangelical Christianity’s teaching about sin and our response to it in light of Christ’s sacrifice is a performance-based appeasement strategy. This is because they believe God is only love, like Papa, and does not require a response to Christ’s atoning death.

And because emerging churchers do not consider the Bible reliable, they can dismiss its teachings that God is a holy and sometimes angry God. Just as they dismiss the existence of Hell and believe that God will forgive all, no matter their lifelong rejection of him. In the end, you see, love wins. And justice loses.

God

Lost in translation?

There are no examples of performance-based mythologies in the Protestant Bible. It has always been about Grace. But many in or sympathetic to the emerging church say they never felt like they fit in with evangelical churches. Or they decry evangelical pastors’ preaching about heaven and hell and the response to each for the Christian.

Perhaps they refer to Jesus’ Gospel teachings like this one in John 3:36 as a performance-based myth: “He who believes the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Ah. So perhaps this is the hang-up: People like Young have a problem with Protestant beliefs that call for obedience—or using their translation—performance. Can you imagine Young’s Jesus in The Shack uttering such absolute and intolerant words?

God’s word?

Young, like other adherents of his belief system, reject or affirm Jesus’ words based on what they choose to believe about him. When many in the emerging church do not believe the Bible is God’s word and cherry-pick it to build their construct, anything and everything is on or off the table.

In depicting God as a black woman, the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman and Jesus as a Jewish carpenter—all of which are all love all the time—Young covers many progressive bases—feminism and the anti-paternal God, universalism and the humanization of Christ.

God

Papa is no Aslan

Some will point out Young’s Papa is merely an allegorical device as, they say, is C.S. Lewis’ Aslan. This comparison is faulty for two reasons: Lewis’ Narnia is allegory, and Aslan is an alternate-world Christ-like figure; Young’s The Shack is didactic (meant to teach) and his Papa and Sarayu are depictions of God and the Holy Spirit, not allegorical devices.

For a better discussion of the differences between Papa and Aslan, feel free to read Tim Challies’ Why Papa of The Shack Is not Aslan of Narnia.

For an accurate description of Aslan, I leave it to the characters of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia:

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

God

Young’s Trinity is a triad of his own creation

Granted, many will find encouragement in a safe, passive Papa, a mousy and mysterious Sarayu and a bumbling, comical Jesus. I know that some feel burned by fellow sinners and pastors of traditional American Protestant churches, and I realize that The Shack is a balm to many.

I recently exchanged emails with my former pastor who thinks the movie version of The Shack can spiritually help “millions of people.” I certainly hope not. If helping millions requires misrepresenting God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus, please William P. Young and those behind The Shack film, don’t help us.

Stripping God and the other members of the Trinity of their purity and holiness and “dangerousness” while denigrating and dismissing the beauty and sufficiency of the Gospel and Christ’s atonement, as The Shack does, is no help at all.

This will help grow the emerging church; and it will help grow Young’s and the movie makers’ bank accounts. But it won’t help grow genuine faith in a loving, holy and just God.

The Shack distracts and confuses people from seeing God as he is, and seeks to depict him as Young and others want him to be. This is a shame and a sham. It’s also a foolish misrepresentation.

Give me a dangerous Warrior-God who’s also the ultimate loving father over a passive Papa any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Subjective truth: It’s a lead balloon and the tie that binds progressives in religion AND politics.

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While watching Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s Senate hearing, it hit me like a bolt out of the blue—our BIG issue as a nation is not Russian election meddling or LGBTQ rights—it’s our embrace of subjective truth.

I watched a senator say our Constitution is a living, breathing document that should adapt to the times. As if the principles of American liberty require adjustment because things have changed so much in a mere 229 years.

Does the senator truly believe we should reinterpret meaning in a static document simply because it’s more to her liking? And more to the liking of people who pretend that the truths woven into the Constitution are somehow less true with the passage of time?

The notion that truth is subjective is an absolute non-starter—and it’s faulty thinking.

If truth doesn’t exist, then it would be true that truth doesn’t exist, and once again we arrive at truth. ~Nabeel Qureshi 

Truth is, we all operate in a world of absolute truth, and we all affirm its supremacy a thousand times a day whether we realize it or not.

During the same hearing, another senator described the type of Supreme Court justice American needs right now.

It went something like this:

America needs a Supreme Court justice who will look out for the downtrodden. One who will protect our children and keep the rich from taking advantage of the poor.

Excuse me, senator, protecting our children and the poor is your job, not a Supreme Court justice’s. You draft and vote on laws; our justices make sure those laws are Constitutional. This is how our democracy works.

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Progressive beliefs, regressive truth

Similarly, the progressive wing of the emerging church believes that the Bible is not Scripture because, as a “library of books,” it was written by men whose prejudices and viewpoints make it unreliable as a guide for Christian living.

Question: If the Bible is a library of books, who’s the managing editor?

But rather than reject all Scripture, emerging church leaders cherry-pick Bible truths they can live with it. Like the uber-easily digestible maxim that God is love. But to them, God is only love. He doesn’t ask anything of them in terms of obedience or justice or sharing truth, no matter how unpopular.

To these spiritual progressives, we all have carte blanche to live for others without structure and without guidance other than what we feel is right. This eliminates personal responsibility and accountability.

Is not spiritual life without the truth of Scripture like self-governance without a timeless Constitution?

When either incompatible state is taken to its logical conclusion, the result is anarchy.

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If there is no objective truth, how can we know the Constitution OR the Bible is reliable?

In the minds of progressives—in culture, government and religion—truth is purely subjective. Except when it comes to bolstering an agenda; then helpful truths quickly become absolute.

Like these convenient truths:

All men are created equal. This truth actually means that everyone is created with equal worth to the Creator. It has been subverted to mean that everyone IS equal and thus should be given every opportunity to act upon this equality through denigrating measures such as affirmative action.

God is love. According to Scripture, love is only one of God’s attributes. The Bible also says God is holy and just and righteous and pure. These characteristics, if true, call for accountability and responsibility—just as our Constitution calls for rule of law based on self-evident truths.

When progressives disregard the Constitution’s or Scripture’s authority, there is no rule of law—civically or spiritually.

Care for the poor. This is where progressives in religion and politics coalesce and differ most strongly with evangelicals and conservatives. But it’s not a question of if we should help the poor; it’s how.

Progressives think the federal government is best suited to help the poor. Conservatives think state and local government and religious groups and churches are best suited to help the poor.

I receive care from the federal government—the Veteran’s Administration. Trust me, the federal government is a ponderous, inefficient caregiver; it’s far from ideal. Local volunteers and people on the ground who can help poor people help themselves are much better suited to make a real, lasting difference.

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When we leave caring for the poor to the federal government, we wash our hands of them.

The poor become enslaved to a system that crushes their spirits and keeps them dependent.

If political progressives think we should give people what they need without encouraging them to give themselves what they need, they do not understand human nature. If religious progressives think the Creator is all love and is not holy and pure and just and that the Bible is not reliable, they do not understand God’s nature or human nature.

Because our topic is subjective truth and its effect on the rule of law and the reliability of Scripture, allow me to offer these concluding arguments:

But first an observation:

I’ve never seen such a starkly obvious difference between those who rely upon Constitutional and Scriptural authority for governance and interacting with God and others and those who seek to create their own framework for the same. This self-created framework is based on feeling rather than thinking, emotion rather than cognition.

Today’s progressives in the political and religious arenas seem to have forgotten this objective truth: What feels right is not always what is or ought to be right.

Subjective truth is by its nature not true. If a tree falls in a forest, it’s irrelevant whether anyone is there to hear its crash. And no, God cannot create a rock that even he can’t move. The size and weight of the rock is irrelevant. If he can make it, he can move it.

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Subjective truth is the pig that doesn’t fly.

It’s a sideshow clown who distracts and pleases childish minds with colorful balloon dogs. It’s a non-entity that binds the minds of many.

And sadly, its effect is on full display in our Senate chambers as we seek to confirm a Supreme Court justice whose job is to ignore subjective non-truths in favor of the rich tapestry of truth and human dignity found in our Constitution.

My message to Congress and my fellow politically- and/or spiritually-minded Americans is this:

Let go of the lead balloon of subjective nonsense and soar on the wings of truth. It will truly set you free.

How to get blocked from social media—for all the right reasons

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Want to make a short and sweet splash in the world of social media? It’s easy. For the record, I’ve only been blocked twice—once on Facebook and once on Twitter—and by the same guy who I’d been 98 percent respectful toward.

My slip-up? In a Facebook reply, I wrote that he seemed angry and arrogant. He blocked me there and then on Twitter proactively—I’d never been to his page.

So it’s not like I’m getting blocked all over cyberspace and want to show you how to become persona non grata. I want to encourage you to discuss passionately and respectfully. If you do so and get blocked, you’ll have done both for the right reasons.

Let me show you three ways to get your block on:

1) Share your opinions

And do so respectfully, logically and CONFIDENTLY.

Offer a dissenting opinion with chutzpah. There’s no quicker way to get booted in today’s namby-pamby, pseudo-discussion-friendly social media scene. Disagree agreeably … with courtesy.

To dissent—no matter how respectfully or effectively—is rude and judgmental. But it can be fun and informative, too. So disagree cheerfully and with civility … be gentle … even though it probably won’t matter.

You see, nowadays, when you disagree with someone, you “invalidate” his or her opinion. It doesn’t matter how absurd it is or how kindly you are as you reduce it to a quivering blob of nonsense—civil give and take is virtually impossible.

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How dare you!

(Internally) How dare YOU … reject my viewpoint without any real consideration and then champion such a silly opinion that a twelve-year-old could dismantle in the time it takes him to eat a cookie?

Sadly, in our snowflake, truth-less culture, all viewpoints are equally true. No matter how ludicrous an opinion, everyone has the right to be right even when they’re demonstrably, flat-out wrong. After all, how can anyone be wrong if all viewpoints feel so right? Was Hitler right about the Jews?

Crickets.

Don’t censor me
You can’t shut me up
So don’t even try
~Audio Adrenaline

2) Use corny commenter names

Note: Do this if you’ve been respectful and srill have comment bullies calling for your blocking. But do it only to comment on blogs—not on Facebook or Twitter. This step can seem disingenuous, but shouldn’t be. Isn’t what you say more important than what you call yourself? What’s in a name?

Curiously, some consider using another name to comment on a blog a breach of trust—even on blogs that allow anonymous or whatever-name-you-want-discussions. Trust? I see it as a trusty way to get back in the game.

But if you’re gonna fake it, fake it good.

When “blogmenting,” go with silly, harmless names like Lynn Guini or Bill Foled. I went with Mr. Spock once and was surprised how respectfully people interacted with me. Mr. Spock’s got real clout when it comes to the discussion scene. Of course, I had to adopt a persona of pure logic and minimal emotion, which was unsurprisingly easy for me.

Bottom line—if they miss your words because they’re hung up on your names—real discussion isn’t gonna happen anyway.

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3) Confound them with truth

If they parrot talking points, offer them a truth cracker. This could open their cage doors to a whole world of possibilities. If they hit you with baseless assumptions, fire back with clarifying questions. Show them you care enough to understand where they’re coming from.

Say someone drops a logical fallacy bomb on you. This is a shut-down tactic most don’t even understand. Someone tried the “No true Scotsman” fallacy on me because I held that there are true Christians and people who call themselves Christian, but may not be.

Social media?

I explained that this logical fallacy application doesn’t work because a Scotsman is a true Scotsman whether he acts like one or not. A Christian shows what he is by the way he lives. A non-Christian who pretends to be a Christian will show he’s not one by his life. Nobody can fake the funk for long.

Nothing confounds like truth. Keep sharing it and they’ll either call you a hater or “judger” or try to get you banned. Or, if they’re open-minded and smart enough, they’ll try to persuade you or even admit that maybe you’re onto something. Social media discourse CAN be a learning experience.

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Block me or ban me

I will always share truth, so do your worst, social media bullies.

As my closing argument, ponder this:

  • If someone’s viewpoint is so fragile that respectful dissent brings about a block or ban, is it truly worth discussing?
  • And if we fail to challenge the fallacy that truth is subjective and all truths are equally valid, aren’t we giving in to the spirit of the age?
  • If you care about civil discourse and its demise, will you join me by being willing to be blocked, banned and even banished in the name of truth?

We shall defend our island of objective truth, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the blogs, we shall fight on the landing pages, we shall fight on Facebook, we shall fight on Twitter, we shall never surrender.
~Lovingly lifted and adapted from Winston Churchill’s “Finest hour” speech

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 3—Holy Holisticism, Batman!

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Talk about crazy. California is blazing the crazy trail with every holistic “remedy” under the sun. Jeepers, Batman—it’s like there are snake oil salesmen on every corner of every city and town in this gorgeous, zany, backward-from-frontward Golden State!

Oil pulling. Essential oil therapy. Urine drinking. Sun gazing. TriVibamins (something to do with “Light Particle Gatekeepers”). It’s all so bewildering to this Texan. Call me simple, but this stuff just don’t add up.

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What ever happened to going to the doctor once a year, having your blood analyzed, eating your veggies and taking a couple of vitamins here and there … and just workin’ hard and livin’ right?

Not sure what to make of all this holisticism. But people around here seem to swear by it. My dentist wife’s patients tell her all about it; and she smiles and listens and helps them keep their mouths healthy.

Snake oil crazy

Take this oil pulling. From what I can tell, you swish a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for 20 minutes. This supposedly draws out toxins in your body and improves oral and overall health.

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Toxins? Isn’t that what a snakebite’ll give ya? Or spider venom? Shoot—if a wasp stings me, I plaster some cold mud on it like my dad showed me. Does that draw out toxins?

Essential oil therapy, huh. Kinda sounds like what happens to my hair while I sleep: The little Italian grease monkeys come out and pump away. Come morning … all natural mousse. It works so well my wife says I look like a Who from Whoville.

A taste’ll teach ya

I drank my urine once. By accident. I peed in my water bottle on a road trip and then forgot and took a swig. At first I thought it was old, warmish sour lemonade. Then it hit me. The only health benefit I got out of it was to aid my memory so as to never drink my pee again.

Sun gazing? No need for a Texan’s take on this one besides this humble piece of advice: It’s pretty dumb to stare at the sun. Nuff said.

crazy

My wife and I ran into the TriVibamin thing at a hot springs resort in a little nearby town that’s even smaller than ours. From what I can tell it has something to do with vibrating the atoms in vitamins. So … Viba- and -amin … vibrating vitamins. Get it? Nope.

Shake it up

“Because Your Energy, Vitality & Good Heath Depend Upon The Light Particles You Absorb” is what a brochure says about TriVibamins.

If light and vibration are good for you, I must’ve really benefitted from riding shotgun in a friend’s old rattling pickup during all those scorching-hot Texas summer high school days.

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David Kozlowski, Old Ford Chevy Chevrolet Pickup Truck Blue Red Rust, Jacksboro, Texas Feed Mill. All rights reserved.

This Texan just doesn’t get why eating right and exercising and common sense preventives don’t do the trick for these crazy Californians. It’s like they’re always looking for something new and nutty when the tried-and-true works every time.

This holistic stuff is kinda like a religion around here. Takes more faith than most, too.

Maybe I should start pushing something just fresh enough to believe in. Like pleasingly packaged bovine excrement that when sniffed vigorously for 20 minutes is sure to purge all toxins and every last scrap of common sense.

Sound crazy enough to sell? In California, it just might.

For more Cali Crazy Texan takes on the Golden State, part five is in the works. Stay tuned.