Weekend Reads – June 4, 2011

Here are four articles/posts from this week that you should read.  These are the best of the best of what I’ve read in the areas of politics, economics, Christianity, and leadership:


Politics – “An Extended Argument About the Politics of RyanCare” – by Reihan Salam at The Agenda blog, from National Review Online.  Salam argues that Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal in the House had two goals: (a) to demonstrate a new seriousness about entitlement reform; and (b) to pull the debate on Medicare reform rightward.

Economics – “Were the Pre-Federal Reserve Days So Bad?” – by Vern McKinley at Free Banking.  For those of you who believe we should abolish the Federal Reserve, McKinley gives you some ammunition.  He tells of how things worked during the Panic of 1907, and how private bailouts worked before the Federal Reserve.

Christianity – “How to Honor Your Wife” – by Mark Driscoll at The Resurgence.  Driscoll gives eight practical ways in which men can honor their wives, including leading spiritually in your household (#8) and working hard for your family (#5).  Also, be generous with your wife:

I know guys as well, they’re not generous. I know one guy, he’s such an idiot. This guy makes decent money and he’s totally chintzy with his wife. She gets no spending money, can’t go out to coffee with the girls because he’s a total control freak and tightwad. Be honoring of your wife financially. I’m not saying you have to live at a lavish and high level. But what I am saying is live within your means, you make a budget, you tithe, spend, save, invest well. I know it’s hard to live on one income. I know it’s particularly difficult in this economic climate, but for some of you boys, it’s a built-in excuse to be irresponsible.

Leadership – “6 Ways Leaders Can Build Trust” – by Dr. Jeremy Statton on MichaelHyatt.com.  One of the most important parts of being a leader is building trust with the people you lead.  Statton offers 6 ways to build trust, including my favorite way, “Build your team members up.”

Bonus Link – “Asking People About Statistics” – by Karl Smith at Modeled Behavior.  Are you good at judging demographics?  What percentage of the U.S. population would you say is gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual?  See if your guess is right by clicking the link, and see what percentage of people guessed the same as you did.

Question: What are your thoughts and comments about these posts? You can leave your comments by clicking here.

  • The Truth Seeker

    A number of questions I have pertain directly to the Catholic Church.  This doesn’t mean, however, that the Protestant churches are not guilty of some of the same things the Catholic Church was guilty of.  Also, remember that most of what Protestants believe is what Catholics believe with the exception of the Papacy and some of the sacraments associated with the Catholic Church.
    1.       Modern scholars believe that Jesus was an apocalypticist much like John the Baptist who probably was Jesus’ mentor.  On a number of occasions, Jesus predicted that the Kingdom of God was coming even before some of his disciples died.  If Jesus, who was supposedly God Incarnate, didn’t know when the Kingdom of God was coming, how can we really believe he was God Incarnate?   
    2.       Because there were many struggles in the early Christian era between the orthodox (Today’s Catholics), the Ebbionites, the Marcionates, and the Gnostics, scripture was not canonized until the fourth century.  There is evidence to show that the Orthodox re-wrote the scriptures to agree with their beliefs and destroyed all evidence of the writings of the other three competing groups. 
    So how do we know that the Orthodox version of the Bible is the correct one?
    3.       The Gospels were not written until anywhere from 35 to 60 years after Jesus’ death.  Until that time, stories about Jesus were told and retold through the oral tradition.  We know that when events are told and re-told some of the details get lost or are misinterpreted.  How can we have confidence that after 35-60 years there weren’t many details that were lost and misinterpretations made about the events in the life of Christ?
    4.       The authors of the four gospels are unknown, yet they are attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  For centuries the Roman Catholic Church persisted in claiming that they were really written by these authors and did not tell the Catholic laity or anyone else about this.  The Catholic clergy during the middle ages were the elite since they were literate and most of the people they served weren’t and that allowed the clergy to tell their parishioners just about anything they wanted to and the parishioners believed it since these were the chosen ministers of Christ’s church.  How much the people were taken advantage of we find out during the Protestant Reformation. 
    5.       We do not have original copies of the New Testament.  In fact we do not have copies of the copies nor copies of the copies of the copies.  We know that the books of the Bible were hand copied again and again through the middle ages until the printing press was invented.  We also know that some of these scribes altered the scriptures to coincide with their beliefs. How do we know that there weren’t accidental mistakes in these copies or additional materials added to these copies? So how can we have confidence in the veracity of the scriptures handed down to the modern age?
    6.       We know that the authors of the Gospels were unknown.  Paul is one of the few authors that we can believe that actually wrote the letters to his communities and churches.  Paul supposedly wrote 13 books of the New Testament, but biblical scholars think that only 6-7 of these books can be shown to be his writings.  There were a lot of writings that claimed to be written by Paul and Peter that actually weren’t.  Some of these books which claimed to be written by the Apostles were canonized and believed to be true.  Later findings and studies showed that they weren’t.  How can we have any confidence in any of the books of the Bible if some were forged? 
    7.       There are so many contradictions and inconsistencies in the New Testament that it is hard to determine what is truth and what is fiction.  For hundreds of years the Protestants and Catholics both claimed that the Bible was the inspired word of God, that it was inerrant and that every word in it was to be taken literally.  That view did not change much until the modern era when the scientific method was applied to historical events and theology and many of these rigid and inflexible views were proven to be inaccurate.   
    8.       Why is it that miraculous events stopped with Jesus and the Apostles and there has been no real evidence of God interacting with either Christians or Jews since that time? Why is it that there has been no scientific proof of miracles in the modern age?   Can anyone specify a scientifically verified miracle?  I don’t mean someone who is deathly ill and he suddenly recovers.  That is not scientifically verifiable that he was healed for no other reason than faith and prayer.  I don’t mean personal testimony about someone claiming to have seen a miracle.  If God really wanted us to believe there was a God, wouldn’t there be some way to determine that?  Reference to the Biblical miracles does not mean they actually occurred.  Anyone could have made up those stories and then said thousands of people witnessed these miracles.  That could just be made up.
    9.       Why is it that modern so-called miraculous and supernatural events can be shown as either  a natural event or as scams or frauds?  Couldn’t this be true of these same kinds of events in Jesus’ era?
    10.   We know that Biblical events such as the creation, the great flood, Jonah being swallowed by a whale, Jesus casting out demons and having them transferred to a group of pigs who then ran off the edge of a cliff, and many other myths are not true.  If we can’t believe in these things actually happening then how can we believe that other events in the Old and New Testament are true?
    11.   Isn’t it probably true that the demons who possessed people during Christ’s time on earth were probably people who were mentally sick?  Weren’t these more than likely the equivalent to the poor people today who are paranoid schizophrenics and who wander the streets as homeless vagabonds?
    12.   It appears to me that the God of the Old Testament is entirely different from the God of the New Testament.  The God of the Old Testament was angry, vengeful, and blood thirsty.  On several occasions this God ordered the Israelites to wipe out entire settlements including men, women and children.  On many occasions this God was angry with the Israelites and punished them by letting them go into captivity and slavery under the Egyptians and the Babylonians.  The Israelites suffered greatly during these periods and many were killed and murdered by their oppressors. It appears to me that the Old Testament writers portrayed God as just another angry and vengeful person.  There is none of the love and do unto others as you would have them do unto you in the Old Testament.  Are we to assume that God changed his ways in the New Testament?
    13.   Why is it that the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages waged war with the Muslims under the leadership of the Popes, the earthly representative of Christ?  Thousands upon thousands of Christians and Muslims lost their lives during the three crusades that were made under the leadership of the head of the Christian Church, the Pope. 
    14.   Why is it that the Catholic Church sanctioned the torture and murder of many innocent victims during the various Inquisitions?
    15.   Why is it that the Catholic Church during the 15th and 16th century became so corrupt that they were taking money from poor Christians just so they could buy their way out of purgatory?
    16.   Why is it that the Christian church for centuries persecuted the Jewish religion and blamed the Jews for killing God?  The Christian Church believed that the Jews killed God and therefore their covenant with God was broken and that the Christian religion became the new chosen religion of God and that the new covenant was between God and the Christians.  If that is the case, what is the Jewish religion?  Is it a religion damned to hell for killing God?  That this really happened during past periods was shown to be true by Pope John Paul II making a formal apology to the Jews for the unjust persecution that was conducted over many centuries. 
    17.   Why is it that the Roman Catholic Church for centuries has covered up the molestation of young boys by Catholic Priests who were supposed to be setting an example for these young boys?  Why have these pedophiles been allowed to stay in the Catholic Religion even when it was known that they were pedophiles? Did God wish this to happen to these young boys and have it ruin some of their lives?
    18.   If God is all merciful and all loving, then why has he allowed millions of innocent people to die of starvation, disease, and subjugation to evil dictators and murder over the past two millennia?  Where is the justice in all of this?
    19.   Where are the justice, mercy and love of God letting 6 million Jews be exterminated during World War II?
    20.   Why do we pray to God to be delivered from disease and anything else under the sun?  If God specifically answered some prayers and not others, that doesn’t seem fair.  If God interacted with the human race during the early centuries of recorded history, why isn’t he interacting with us now?
    21.   Why is it that there is no recorded history or mention of Christ outside the New Testament?  There were many Roman and Jewish historians during that era so why didn’t they write about Christ and the miracles that he was supposed to have done? Supposedly many people witnessed Christ’s miracles so why didn’t they tell a known historian about these events or write them down themselves if they were literate?
    22.   Isn’t it likely that if there were a God he would leave some sort of evidence that could be uncovered by this modern age to show that He exists? It’s not enough to have someone go around proclaiming on TV or Radio or personally that God and Jesus have come into his life and changed it.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me and I have prayed to God for a long time. 
    23.   If Christianity believes it has the true belief, it must believe that or there wouldn’t be any adherents to the faith; how does Christianity view Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the other various sects around the world who are not Christian? 
    24.   If religion is a gift from God, why have most of the wars during human history been started because of religion? 
    25.   For over two millennia Christians have been praying to God for peace.  Over these same two millennia we have seen the most brutal wars of religion take place and they are still taking place today.  Does God have his ears plugged?  What about when Christ said that when two or more are gathered together and pray in his name, he will answer their prayers.  Does Christ have his ears plugged too?
    26.   How do Christians explain the discrepancy about the length of time for the creation and history of man to take place?  Christians claim the world to be about 6000 years old.  Compare this to what science says.  Scientific evidence shows that the world is about 4.5 billion years.  What scientific evidence do Christians have to back up a 6,000 year old earth?
    27.   To my way of thinking, there are only three possible answers to all of the above questions.
    a.       There is no God
    b.      Everything that happens God means to have happen but it is a mystery to us why it all happens.  We must have faith in Christ and only through God’s grace can we be saved.
    c.       God does not interfere in worldly matters. 
    28.   Item c. cannot be true since we know from the Bible that God has intervened in worldly matters all during the Old Testament and when God became incarnate in Christ. Therefore either Item a. or b. is true.  If b. is true, then there is no way of ever making sense of the world and no matter what we do we will never understand what goes on in this world.  Item b. cannot be true since we learn more about the world and why things happen with each passing generation.  If we have faith and believe in things that are not verifiable, then we are no different than the polytheistic pagans who lived so long ago. 
    29.   For me, the only logical answer is answer a. – there is no God. 
    30.   I am not closed in my belief that there is no God.  If scientific evidence arises to show that there is a God, I will respect that and change my mind. 
    31.   Theoretically speaking I am an agnostic and a humanist because I don’t think that proof exists for no God or a God.  I look at the evidence and the evidence so far does not look good for there being a God.