Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatarred and Feathered

Not again! Another Hollywood producer - James Cameron - uses a blockbuster hit as a vehicle to broadcast Hollywood's left wing anti-American agenda. This time the vehicle is the much hyped film Avatar. This 2 hour and 45 minute 3D film epic is pure idyllic eye candy with the ability to put butts in the seats. But do we popcorn munchers have any idea of the propaganda being sold in the storyline?

The main plot of the Gospel According to Cameron goes like this: in the future the American military will stop at nothing to obtain a new energy source on another planet - even if it includes murder and destruction of innocent men, women, children and animals, the mutilation of the environment and the dismantling of a peaceful culture. According to Avatar Americans are nothing but invaders and oppressors, and the military is keen to comply with a no holds barred attack on another planet in order to maintain America's corporate need for more petrol. Welcome to the world of Hollywood's left wing political perspective only now it's in animated 3D.

Avatar unfolds by depicting the U.S. military as an interplanetary enemy of the peace loving inhabitants of a tranquil planet called Pandora. Due to the discovery of a new energy source on the planet, our troops or "people from the sky" encounter the planet's inhabitants - the Na'Vi - in their attempt to harness the resource. Unfortunately, this energy source is located beneath a giant Home Treelocated at the center of the Na'Vi culture and an object of Nature worship.

The Home Tree must be uprooted so we can get at this new "oil." The mission of one Marine is to compel the aliens to relocate from the area surrounding the tree so our troops can uproot the tree to tap this new resource. The aliens are not so quick to comply, and the military has no other resort than to destroy the tree and allow for devastating collateral damage.

Does Cameron think moviegoers are so dull that we cannot see Avatar's underlying message that the U.S. invades innocent countries in order to take over their energy resource even with the resulting loss of life. Sound familiar? The radical left wing accusation since the Gulf War to our present day invasion of Iraq is that America's wars are only a coverup for corporations seeking oil in these countries. In Cameron's mind there is no such thing as a war on terrorism. Our true motivation is merely to take over the oil fields of the world.

I wonder why Cameron chose American troops to be the alien invaders in the future? Why not the French, the Chinese, the Russians, British or the Spanish? Of course, we are the epitome of evil on this planet. Yet this Hollywood producer profits from the American free enterprise system and capitalism while he lives the "good life."

To Cameron America is everything the president of Iran says we are - "the great Satan." Avatar will be a major hit in Iran! Thanks Jim. Is it not odd that Cameron could not even imagine a futuristic Muslim military force conquering a foreign planet in order to possess their "oil." Only America is the kind of country capable of committing such a dastardly deed. If America is so evil, why does James Cameron choose to be a citizen of the "evil Empire"?

Avatar is also touted as one of the most influential movies of our time and will change how we will be viewing movies in the future. Cameron' script is predictable and daunting. If you're familiar with the radical message of the Left, then you'll already know scene-by-scene where this 3D feature is going. Along with Cameron, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, haven't we seen enough of their proliferation of America hating cinema.

Had I known what Avatar was about, I never would have dished out nearly $30 for two tickets for a film that claims to made in revolutionary 3D, yet Cameron merely used 3D as a veneer for the larger message of exposing American imperialism and the United State's disregard for the environment. Actually, the 3D was more like viewing a children's pop-up book.

Oddly enough, Cameron never pulls off any 3D thrills. The Disney 3D short version of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," only seen at Disneyland, does a much better job showing us the marvels of 3D. Cameron has no idea what 3D films are supposed to look like. Despite an array of alien creatures on Pandora, not once did any of them pop out of the screen to send the audience scrambling to the concession stand out of fear of an alien creature on the loose. Who is Cameron kidding with his 3D antics? As my 14 year old son said, "the only thing that popped out were flowers and leaves." Perhaps a 3D version of Terminator II should have been done instead. Now we're talking . . . .

Should you see Avatar? Not if you care about how our troops are portrayed and how our country is dissed over and over by the Hollywood Left. I'm sorry I put any money in Cameron's pockets. Don't make the same mistake, but hit Hollywood where they hurt the most - their bank accounts. You're not going to miss some historic film that is going to change film history. Go see Blindside instead.

Stand up for our troops who put their lives on the line every day. Send a message to Hollywood that we're tired of their radical diatribes against America. Let the stars of the silver screen hear the voice of American people that we're not going to support their propaganda film making anymore. Instead of seeing Avatar, send your money to Wounded Warrior or Iraq Star or some other organization that supports the troops.

The result of boycotting Avatar? The next time James Cameron or any other leftist Hollywood mogul makes a film in which he assumes he is "King of the World," he will consider whether this time no one is going to show up to sit for nearly three hours of animated political brainwashing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Here Comes Vic

On November 30, 2009 my Dad passed away due to congestive heart failure. There's a lot I can say about my father as I think about his life. Most people at his funeral spoke about their memories of Victor Lapides during the golden years of his life. My brother Michael and I share the most vivid memories of Dad when he was in his 30s and 40s.

Dad always displayed a quick sense of humor and never missed an opportunity to make us laugh. He made up names for everyday objects that I never heard anyone else say. He sprinkled his speech with Yiddish terms but he never made it sound Yiddish. A meshuginah was the nut hanging out on the street corner not the Yiddish term for a crazy person. I loved to drive with Dad on his auto parts truck while he did his his route because he always had funny names for all the gas station owners and attendants. However, he always treated them with kindness and respect. I would wait all day helping Dad on his route until we visited the auto mechanic shop where someone like "Tony Tremendous" worked. In reality, Tony was just some short, overweight guy. But when Dad spoke about him, I couldn't wait to see him.

My father was often daring and fearless. He convinced me to sneak out of Ft. Dix, N.J. Army base on a Sunday morning so he could take me to Atlantic City. There I was with my head freshly shaven, hiding on the floorboard in the back of the car while my Dad calmly drove past of the MP guards. I was technically AWOL but my father made it worth it as we spent the day in Atlantic City enjoying the amusements on the boardwalk.

My most touching moment with Dad was the day he dropped me off at the Irvington, N.J. induction station at 4 a.m. I was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam war, and my father drove me to the Army recruiting office. We said goodbye and I noticed a tear in his eye as he pondered his son's future during a very conflicting time. Even more than my Bar Mitzvah I think that was the day I became a man. I truly left home. I was prepared to fight for my country and I knew my Dad was fully behind me. And I didn't even receive a fountain pen!

Friends always think my love for professional wrestling is bizarre. Yes, I am a fan of the WWE. Do I think it's fake? Let me throw you off a twenty foot ladder onto a card table below and when your back breaks the table in tow pieces, tell me how fake it seems to you. But it was Dad who took me to see professional wrestling at Laurel Gardens located in the Newark Armory. I was probably nine years old wen he started taking me. I loved going with him and my brother. I even brought tomatoes and eggs to the venue to throw at the wrestlers who were the "bad guys." Yes, my father encouraged me as I ran up next to the ring and tossed a raw egg at the Sheik.

My father made sure the family spent time at the Jersey shore each summer or we joined a swim club. Those were precious times that I got to spend with him and my mother. Thanks to my father and mother I have a great childhood growing up in Newark, N.J. I remember every place he took me-the circus, the Roy Rogers rodeo at Madison Square Garden in NY, July 4th fireworks displays, Times Square, Niagra Falls, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. and Sunday evenings at Ming's Chinese restaurant or Jo Rae's Italian Pizzeria in Newark.

Even though Dad did a lot of wonderful things for me, I wasn't such an easy kid. I teased my little brother and hurt him badly on many occasions. This is when I found out what a strict disciplinarian my father could be. At age 11 I broke 21 windows in the neighborhood in honor of "Mischief Night." To me every day was mischief night. I got the whipping of my life for that stunt, and had to stay home on Halloween while my brother went out "trick or treating."

During my teenage years I gave my father more grief-hot wiring my friend's parents' car for a joyride around the streets of Millburn and Short Hills until the police stopped us, getting picked up by a stolen vehicle while hitchhiking and getting busted by the cops or ditching school and spending the day in New York. From the ages of 16 to 19 I spent my weekends at Greenwich Village exposing myself to beat music, art and poetry. I experimented with drugs and read everything I could about LSD experiments before I started using the hallucinogenic myself.

Despite my rebelliousness Dad always showed up with a lecture about how I was throwing my life away. He was right and it took me until the age 23 to learn the truth. And by truth, I mean accepting Jesus. Dad wasn't too happy with his messianic Jewish son. My brother Michael soon followed suit and became a Jewish follower of Jesus. Despite the rift Jesus caused in my family, I always knew that part of my maturity was making correct choices and living with the consequences.

Dad always stayed in touch. He loved it when I called and I tried to do that quite often. I could always make him laugh by reminding him of some funny times we enjoyed in Newark and all the strange people we knew. I would ask him about his odd vocabulary with words like manipretzel and pishocks. He gave my brother and I hours of tear jerking laughter. However, I think he probably thought these words were normal.

I miss my Dad a lot. I couldn't send him a Hanukkah card this year. I won't send him a Father's Day card. These emotions are new and unfamiliar to me. Upon reflecting on Dad's life, I always knew he loved me (even when he spanked my defiant butt when I was a kid). I kept a lot from Dad about my sins and wrongdoings. I also never told him about some horrible events that happened to me as a child. It's okay. I've survived. As he would often say, "Don't worry about it!"

I've been told I am a lot like my Dad. That's okay by me. He was always kind to people and everybody knew his name wherever he went. I hope I take after him when it comes to my treatment of people.

I thank the Lord I still have my mother in my life and my brother along with the rest of the family. My children, my sister-in-law, new daughter-in-law, and my niece and nephew and their families. But no one can ever replace Dad. I want to cry at times but soon I remember something funny he said and my tears turn to laughter. Thanks Dad. I love you and hope to see you on the other side . . . but not too soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama: Citizen of the World or President of U.S.?

A president of the U.S. wearing a Chairman Mao jacket? How insensitive can Obama be? Chairman Mao was a mass murderer who slaughtered millions of dissidents who went against the communist take over. If Obama was president of the U.S. and visited Germany during Nazi Germany, would he don a Nazi uniform to connect with Hitler? Is Barak Obama committed to be a representative of the United States of the America?

When meeting the Emperor of Japan with many other world leaders, only Obama "the president of the United States" bowed to the emperor. In fact, he could not stop bowing. If anything Obama is doing in Asia, it assuring the North Koreans that we have a spineless wimp as president. Why did he choose to leave the country when he moved the court case of the 9/11 conspirators to N.Y. in a New York court instead of a military court. These terrorists committed a war crime against the U.S. not N.Y. They should be tried not as U.S. citizens with constitutional rights, but as war criminals facing a military tribunal just like the Nazis were tried at Nuremburg and hung for their horrid crimes. How is Barak Obama upholding the constitution of the U.S. as a president? I am not convinced he takes his citizenship of this country seriously.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder Hits America

After America was attacked by Islamic extremists on September 11, 2001 I thought we understood we are up to our necks in a war on terrorism. After the terrifying collapse of New York's twin Trade Center towers, I believed we understood Islamic extremists are out to destroy America and Americans. We were a pissed-off country and we wanted to do whatever we could to win the war on terrorism. Thanks to President George Bush.

Things have changed in eight years. We've become fearful of profiling Muslims living in the US as Islamic jihadists. We've even accommodated Muslims to allow them to have Saudi financed Muslim schools in the US. We're a country afraid to say anything negative about people from the Middle East lest we offend them or intimate they may be terrorists. We even elected a president of the United States who attended a Muslim school in Indonesia from the ages of 6 to 10. He's the first president to bow in reverence and respect before a Saudi misogynist prince who is in cahoots with Wahhabi Muslim extremists. Barak Obama-a man who took an oath or protect and preserve the national security of this country.

The fear and anger towards suspicious Islamic individuals have been diluted thanks to political correctness in this country. Liberals railed against the Patriot Act as an invasion of privacy even if a suspected terrorist was checking books out of the library on how to build a bomb or checking out blueprints of the New York subway system. We don't want to offend Muslims living in the US nor suspect them of being extremists and terrorists. Instead, we want to promote understanding with Islamic people who keep telling us their religion is peaceful while their Koran is filled with hatred and destruction towards Jewish people and Christians.

Our country has been struck with a virus more serious than N1H1. I cal it "Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder". The symptoms of this disorder are marked by an inability to call an act of terrorist for what it is. People with this disease would rather explain all acts of terrorism in psychological terms. We never really needed GITMO; we need a cadre of Dr. Phil's to speak to maniacal terrorists.

Barak Obama and his staff have seriously been stricken with this disorder. Chris Matthews, MSNBC's Hardball moderator can't see anything wrong with a Muslim (Major Nidal Hasan) who sends 20 emails to an Al-Qaeda imman in Yemen. What's wrng with that?

Our president warns us not to jump to conclusions about the terrorist attacked perpetrated on 43 US soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas last week, killing 14 people. Even though the killer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan has given the Army every indication he is a full-on terrorist, Mr. Obama, wants US citizens to stay in a liberal induced coma believing all Muslims are peace-loving. Interestingly, he forgets all terrorists are Muslims though not all Muslims are terrorists though they read out of a book-the Koran-that promotes terrorism.

Here's another symptom of Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder-the inclination to call an act of terrorism an act of psychological disorder. Victims of this disease use words like "emotionally disturbed, twisted thinking, insane, mentally imbalanced and other psychologically based terms. No one in the Obama administration has yet to call Major Hasan a terrorist who has infiltrated the military. Rather, he's a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even though he's never been deployed to Iraq!

Why did Hasan kill troops getting ready to go over to Afghanistan and Iraq? So they could be prevented from going overseas to kill his (Hasan's) Muslim terrorist brothers who are attacking American troops. Connect the dots. Hasan was a martyr for the Islamo-fascst cause. He is guilty of treason for supporting and cohorting with the enemy.

As a Vietnam vet I can never imagine one of my fellow soldiers or an officer-medical or non-medical-saying favorable things about Ho Chi Minh or the Viet Cong. Such an individual would be locked up in the stockade and be tried for treason. Can you imagine an American soldier saying "Heil Hitler" to his fellow soldiers as they were invading Germany? What has happened to our country? A Major in the Army is asked to give a presentation on a medical subject in his field of psychiatric expertise, and instead he presents a 50 slide program on the Koran , , , even speaking of beheading the enemies of Islam and pouring hot oil down their throats. Yet a room of military men infected with Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder could not connect the dots and permitted Major Hasan ramble on with his Islamic dribble and return to his post of duty.

What about Ft. Hood, Texas? Do they know we're involved in a war on terrorism? Do they know there are Islamic terrorist operatives in the US and on US military bases? Are they so infected with Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder that they could not post armed guards on the base so that such a travesty could never have happened? Our military and citizenry are so clueless when it comes to terrorism in this country. We behave as though 9/11 never happened. We ignore the fact Al Qaeda cells are operating in this country according to US Intelligence reports. We are on red alert whether we believe it or not. Those who disagree will simply argue that what happened at Ft. Hood was an isolated criminal act performed by an disturbed individual. And the Muslim extremists in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq are laughing as they send more operatives to this beguiled country.

Major Hasan deserves to be tried as a traitor who in his right mind deliberately planned and schemed this suicide attack on US soldiers. Major Hasan on the morning of his terrorist slaughter dressed in Muslim garb, prayed before the slayings and shouted praises to Allah as he killed 14 people and wounded another 29. Our military needs to wake up. Americans need to wake up, Obama has us so caught up in the healthcare issue that we've been lulled to sleep and one Muslim terrorist took advantage of us napping.

At your next Tea Party or Town Hall meeting, the focus must be on terrorism at home. We need to wake the sleeping giant of America which has been seriously inflicted with Post 9/11 Traumatic Stress Disorder-the inability to remember the lessons of September 11, 2001, the failure to stay on watch against terrorism in America and the foolish decision to place political correctness over and above the need to protect our country.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Consumer Friendly Businesses in an Unfriendly Recession

Yesterday I shared an experience I had wit the banking conglomerate Bank of America. Now I wonder, "Will it cause Bank of America to change their policies? Will I get a call from a B of A executive apologizing for the way I was treated by one of their supervisors?" I doubt it. And that's my point. Consumers are feeling more and more powerless in the face of corporate giants.

Over and over I keep dealing with customer representatives who send out the same message: We don't care about our customers. We're here to ratchet up service fees, apply late charges, increase interest rates, provide lousy service and fail to return our customer's phone calls and emails.

How can certain business like Us Airways, Enterprise, Sprint telephone, Time Warner Cable and many others expect to stay in business treating customers this way at a time when the consumer needs some compassion - not government sponsored freebies.

Furthermore, I do not want the government to FORCE companies through legislation to show care for their clients. I would like to see companies do this on their own. No more government intervention.

Here's my latest example. On a recent trip to Florida to visit my parents I was scheduled on US Airways for a one hour layover in Charlotte, N.C. It turns out the flight was cancelled due to bad weather in N.C. I had to spend an entire day in an airport waiting for the next flight to Charlotte and then make one more connecting flight to Ft. Lauderdale.

The morning of the flight I received several call from US Airways telling me the flight was delayed 105 minutes. So I had some time to make it to the airport. Yet when I arrived at the airport ninety minutes before the delayed flight was slotted to take off, I was told by a ticket agent that I missed the flight. I was late. I responded, "But the flight departure time is not for another hour and a half. How can I be late?" She told me I was supposed to be at the airport an hour before the original flight time. "But the original flight time was changed according to all the voice mails I been receiving from US Airways," I continued. "Now I am here at the airport with an hour and a half to spare. I am not late!!" She finally admitted, "And the flight has been cancelled." Was I going crazy?

Upon arriving at Charlotte eight hours after the original flight was supposed to land, I went around to the various workers at new stands, Starbucks and ticket counters at other airlines. I asked, "Was the Charlotte airport closed this morning prohibiting flights from landing. The answer I kept hearing was negative. One cashier told me there was a fog bank early that morning but it cleared by 8 a.m. - two hours before my flight was scheduled to take off. What did US Airways do? Cancel a flight for no reason? I spent an entire day at an airport because of US Airways.

To the phone . . . I tried to contact US Airways when I returned to Los Angeles. I was instructed to register all complaints using their customer service support page on their website. I was assured I would hear from a US Airways representative within 72 hours. It's been two weeks and I haven't heard a peep. Then I called their corporate headquarters in Tempe, AZ (480 693 0800). I left two or three messages asking for a return call from their Customer Relations Department. I've heard nothing. I even wonder if this department even exists.

What gives with companies today? Even in a recession where the middle class is hurting and the poor are getting all kinds of government (tax paid) benefits, you would think companies would show some attentiveness to the consumer. How about a returned phone call for starters?

Two companies that stand out from the rest are Starbucks and Southwest Airlines. Read Howard Schultz' book Pour Your Heart Into It and the book Nuts, the story of Southwest Airlines. These two companies "get it" in the way they treat their employees and the consumer. They will ride out the recession. My advice is to only fly Southwest and let the others die a slow death. So what if we're stuck with one airline. Southwest would expand, add more flights and continue to treat the customer with care and wisdom.

Will I ever hear from US Airways? Probably not. They're just hoping I will go away after making repeated calls to their corporate Customer Relations Department. Not this time. Consumers must revolt by calling companies on the carpet and force them to treat us with class and concern.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bank of America: Bank of Arrogance

Bank of America CEO and President Kenneth Lewis proudly claims, ""Bank of America helps build strong communities by creating opportunities for people — including customers, shareholders and associates — to fulfill their dreams." As an unemployed citizen of the U.S. and a longtime customer of Bank of America, I decided to see if my bank could help me get by during this tough time in my life. Rather than fulfill my dreams, Bank of America inspired a nightmare.

My credit card statement arrived in the mail this week. My balance reflects a debt I've been carrying over five years. Presently, I charge about $50 a month on the card - all Internet and email service charges. Other than that, I do not use the card. Even though I have been out of work since July 2009, I manage to make my required payment of $150 or more every month.

I've been with Bank of America since 1974, held several mortgages with them and have had numerous checking accounts. I imagined for a split second that my customer loyalty might mean something to Mr. Lewis and his employees. So I called their 800 number.

My goal? I wanted them to reduce my interest rate for a short period of time while I am unemployed. I am paying 10.9% and I was asking my bank of reduce the rate by a point or two to lower my monthly payments. After all, Bank of America received a hefty bailout courtesy of tax payers like myself. Couldn't they extend some help to a loyal customer? I wasn't asking for a bail out or a reduction of the principal I owe. I only needed a small reduction in my interest rate to lessen my monthly amount due,

When I called B of A, I asked for a supervisor. I explained my situation and he informed me I was receiving the lowest interest rate. I know that's not true. If I transferred my balance to another bank and then came back to Bank of America, they would offer me a very attractive lower rate as a lure. Liars!

The supervisor proceeded to ask me every possible question about my financial situation: how much I was receiving from unemployment insurance, my monthly rent, utilities, car payment, insurance cost, grocery expenditures and my meagre savings. He was trying to justify that I cold qualify for a hardship program provided by Bank of America.

After spending twenty minutes on my cell with this bank supervisor, he informed me I do not qualify for any help since I cannot guarantee them I would be able to make my monthly payments. I asked what guarantee did Bank of America give the taxpayers they could pay back the bailout money we gave them. I was shocked. Guarantee? In this age and economy?

My best guarantee is my track record of making hundreds of payments to Bank of America over several decades. I informed the supervisor that I cannot guarantee I would be alive tomorrow but if I am, I will make my credit card payment and it would truly help if he lowered my payment by $20-30 a month to lend a hand. This is the bank that wants to make my dreams come true.

The supervisor would not budge. He was robotic and read from a script. I was irate, "You really don't care about your customers, do you? Here we bail you out by giving you billions of our money, and you can't reduce my interest rate by a few points?" He kept repeating his "guarantee speech."

I kept pushing, "This is an interesting scenario. If I got to a place where I could not make my credit card payments, you would turn me over to a collection agency who in turn would pay someone's salary to harass me. Then your bank would be willing to hire attorneys to go after me to collect my debt. Right? You're willing to spend thousands of dollars in case I default on my payments, but you won't reduce my monthly payment by $20 to make sure that scenario never takes place. What kind of a bank are you?"

The bank official repeated his mantra about guarantees. I told him to stop reading his script. Quickly I mentioned the name Ann Minch, the woman who started Debtors Revolt and is going after Bank of America for hiking up her interest rate to over 30%. "Do you know who Ann Minch is?" He said he did. "Well," I continued, "there are more people like her who will tell the public what kind of bank you really are. You don't care about your customers." Ann Minch has hit a nerve with her YouTube video sharing her nightmare encounter with Bank of America.

When I mentioned Ann Minch, the supervisor slammed down the phone. The message is clear: Bank of America does not care about their clients and they're not happy that B of A customers are speaking out. I'm one of them. I am prepared to pull all my money and debt out of Bank of America and make my statement that this is one bank that is not "for the people" and they have no intention of making any of your dreams come true.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who Do You Call When You're in Trouble?

No matter who you are-religious or non-religious-you call on someone when your life has hit bottom. We call friends, family or seek solace in a deep need for silence. Sometimes when I'm hurting, I don't want to talk to anyone. When I am in that place, I feel there is no need to explain myself. My answer is always the same-life is filled with trials, tragedies and disappointment. We all have our ways of handling what life hands off to us.

However, when it comes to God, we have two responses, according to Pastor Alistair Begg: we call on God out of frustration asking why bad circumstances happen to us or we call on the Lord as our Father seeking comfort or wisdom. For some God is called on to curse Him for allowing suffering to come their way. We may never even acknowledge God in our lives. Yet when bad things come our way, we are spiritual enough to blame Him. Yet a true follower of God calls on the Lord because he know God cares and reaches out to Him as a hurting child reaches out to a father.

This week in the wealthy and highly safe community of Thousand Oaks, California, a recently divorced man reached the limits of his own suffering and took the lives of his two boys-twelve and seven-and then his own life. He brutally stabbed the boys and then overdosed himself using sleeping medication. Can you imagine the horror of one brother watching his father stab his sibling not knowing his own death was imminent.

After reading several newspaper articles, speaking to some individuals who know the man and from my own experience as a divorced husband, I've tried to grasp what would drive a man to take the lives of his beloved children to assuage his own pain. One article reported he lost his million dollar home and was living in a nearby apartment complex. He saw his children frequently and was a member of a large Thousand Oaks church thus providing him a spiritual support team. His life was not without some positives.

The deceased was also in the midst of a custody battle with his ex-wife. Did she see some severe emotional issues in her former husband that caused her to have concern about the safety of her kids? Perhaps he took the kids out of this life to keep them from his wife. I don't know and never will.

How does a human become so lost, hopeless and desperate? Why didn't he just take his own life and leave the children out of his misery? He could have spared them the suffering of the stabbing and given them the sleep medicine? My mind fires off so many questions.

My biggest question is my concern that this frantic man failed to throw himself in desperation to his knees and call out to His divine Father. Can life get so hopeless that there truly is no hope?

The Thousand Oaks man did lose his job a few weeks ago, yet the resources to find employment are many. His children still loved him and wanted to be with him. He still had a roof over his head and lived in an upscale community. To my knowledge he was not an ill man struck with chronic pain or illness. Other doors of opportunity still lay open before him. He attended a large church and was connected to a small support group of people also experiencing divorce.

This man had many reasons to live and to allow his children to remain unharmed. Yet I guess there is a hopelessness that can cripple the human spirit to a point of self-destruction.

I am too much of an optimist to ever allow myself to arrive at that point. I fear hopelessness. I run from it. If I ever consider a life without hope, I fall before God and call out on my Father for help. When I have nothing left to give, my faith is gone and I don't feel like living one more day, it is my Father's love that gives me the hope to survive.

My heart goes out to this woman who lost her children. Even if she was a miserable human being and made her ex-husband's life a living hell, another human has no right to inflict punishment by taking away her offspring. Some things on this earth are better off left in God's hands. Some moments in this life only make sense when we have nothing left to say but to call on our heavenly Father to help us make it just one more day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Should God's People Utilize Hip-Hop and Rap Music in Worship?

I visited a new church last weekend. At least it was new for me. I arrived late, I'm sorry to admit. The lights were out in the church sanctuary since the audience was viewing a film made by the teens. I love to see the young people of any congregation express their talents in declaring their love for God. The video displayed a lot of the teens performing a rap song. I guess it had to do with God. I couldn't grasp the entire message.

Afterwards, many individuals who stood at the podium were loosely using hip-hop lingo and hand gestures when they spoke. It was strange and out of place.

I know, you're probably saying to yourself, "Louis, you're getting old and are no longer with it." I wish I could chalk it up to just my age. Rather, I am especially sensitive to the hip-hop generation after reading the book Enough by Juan William, radio and TV commentator.

In his book Williams hits hard on the hip hop and rap culture. Most of the rap songs exalt crime, illiteracy, a low view of black women, violence and derogatory language about black people. Over and over I have heard the "N" word blasting out of the car speakers of a white teenager while he listens to rap. I've heard rappers refer to black women as "bitches" and "Hoes." Juan Williams points out the danger of rap music and the negative message it portrays for young black and white people.

I won't allow my fourteen year old to listen to rap in my car, our home or on his iPod. In fact, it is my hope that the rap industry - which is fueled by white music moguls using black rap artists to say the worse things about black women so young white teens can buy the music - dies a quick death Please read Juan William's book and learn these things yourself from a black author.

So when a church starts using rap music and employing hip-hop lingo in God's house, I often want to know if the pastor spends any time exposing the debilitating effects of this style of music on young people's thinking. Personally, I think rap music is one of the most uncreative forms of music. You can stop listening to rap for three years, then start listening to it once more and it sounds exactly the same. Once in awhile a few creative rap artists come along like Kanye West.

I really don't want to see the hip hop culture invade the house of God. The focus of a congregation is on God not our culture.. Followers of God need to be exposing the dirt in our culture not rub it on our faces and display it in a sanctuary. Some may think they can clean up hip-hop and rap and use the form of it in a church setting. However, the style of rap is angry and belligerent. That same feeling comes across when a rapper raps about Jesus.

You can clean up a car that badly needs a paint job. Regardless if you wax that car until it glistens, it still needs to be repainted.

Parents, if your kids listen to rap, sit down with them and read the lyrics. In a few minutes they'll become too embarrassed to utter the curse words and demeaning comments made about women in front of Mom and Dad.

Contemporary and classical music belong in a worship service. However, the line has to be drawn when we pull in music styles that go against the fiber of what the Bible teaches us about being respectful to others.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Man With The Stone

An older man was accompanying his wife to a hospital for some minor surgery. A nurse noticed something odd about this caretaker. He was carrying a stone in his hand. Just a small rock that appeared to be well-worn and smooth.

The nurse had to ask, "Why are you carrying a stone in your hand? Is it a good luck charm?" The man was obviously used to having this question posed to him. "I carry this stone wherever I go. I never let go of it and I always have it in my hand." The medical personnel inquired further, "How long have you carried the stone and why do you have it in your possession?"

The man took a deep breath as he repeated a story told many times. I've been carrying this stone in my hand for over twenty years. I turn it over and over in my hand throughout the day. When I first started carrying the rock, it was rough and had many jagged, rough edges. But now it is smooth and the rough edges are worn down."

The elderly gentleman proceeded to explain the story behind the rock. "in John 8 of the New Testament Jesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders who bring to him a woman who had been caught committing adultery. Under the Law of Moses, this woman is supposed to be stoned to death for her transgressions. But Jesus looked at the potential stone throwers and peered into their souls saying, 'he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.' Realizing their hypocrisy and their own sin, they dropped their stones and disassembled. Jesus looked at the poor woman hovering on the ground near his feet as she waited for the first stone to be cast. Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are your accusers? . . . Go and sin no more!"

Now it started to make sense why this man carried this stone. The once-jagged rock reminded him of his own sins and as God worked in his life to transform him, the stone became more smooth and the rough edge were worn away as he turned the stone over and over in his hand. The smoothness of the stone spoke of his humility before the Lord as he considered his own sins. The more the Lord confronted him with the truth about his sins, and he repented and sought forgiveness, the smoother the stone became.

I though this was a wonderful example of Christian thinking. Instead of being ready to throw stones, we should be hesitant due to the awareness of our own sins.

I carried the analogy a little further as I contemplated what takes place when two people are married. Instead of one stone, in a marital situation we carry an additional stone in our hand - our spouse. We carry our own rock with all its rough edges along with the stone of our spouse with his or her rough edges. The task of marriage is to keep those stones as close as possible so that through marital closeness and honesty, we are able to smooth out our differences and adjust to one another and show humility before one another. In addition, the two rough stones of husband and wife are being smoothed out by the Spirit of the Living God.

The problem with most marriages is that we uses the stones in our hands to throw at one another. We are quick to pick out faults or focus on traits that are not changing. Rather than humility to see our own transgressions, we hurl our stones using our words and actions to hurt each other. We are like the Pharisees who are quick to see the faults of the adulterous woman but we fail to see our own infidelities to God.

We have three choices: we can drop our stones and become one those people who refuse to discern the faults of others and repeat the false mantra of never judging one another. Second, we can act like a person who has no sin and cast our stones at other people to make ourselves appear to be righteous. Finally, we can become a person who sees the sins of others but remembers our own sins and remains humble before the Lord. This is the person who sees the faults of others and is able to point them out but in a gentle and kind way that leads them to repentance instead of just fruitless self-condemnation.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How To Fight Your Bank and Remain Friends

How many hours a week do you spend talking to your bank on the phone or at the customer service desk? I must have a great relationship with my bank . . . almost a marriage. We speak to one another several times a week. We're almost inseparable. We argue over issues that can't resolve. In response. In response I give them the cold shoulder at times and in anger they raise my finance charges or charge me extra service fees. I lose my temper and tell them they're incompetent and I'm sorry I ever hooked up with them in the first place and hang up the phone in disgust.

Yes, my bank and I are quite a pair.

This morning I told a customer service representative that he doesn't care about me as a consumer. I blasted him, "Come on, admit it. You don't care about me. You're cold and reading out of a manual like a robot. I'm a number not a person."

This kind of interchange takes lace at least a once a week . . . I'm sorry to admit. Me and my bank.

Today's conflicts started because I started receiving email notifications that my checking account is overdrawn. Here's their heartwarming message: "Unfortunately, on 07/21/09 your available balance in your Wells Fargo account XXX-XXX-XXXX was insufficient to cover one or more of your checks, Check Card purchases, or other transactions." Do you see how the bailouts have made the banks so much nicer than ever before? At least, they felt bad for me and said, "Unfortunately . . . "

I won't bore you with a long and complicated detais, but the short version is this: A few months ago my bank suggested I send them an authorization form to take $26.86 per month out of my account to cover a minimal loan modification charge on my Home Equity account. In previous months the bank was withdrawing the money without any hitch. Now they wanted to make this transaction more official. I complied and faxed them the form.

Somehow this form cancelled the loan modification agreement. No one told me and they informed me that I must pay them $2000 to fix it. That's when the relationship went south, "How can you make me pay you $2000 when I did what you asked me to do and now you're punishing me for it. You made a mistake. Admit it." The answer was robotic, "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir. However, for you to make your account current you owe us $2000." I traded blows with this rep for fifteen long grueling minutes. I kept repeating, "I did what you asked and your bank blew it. It's your mistake. Come on, admit you're bank is wrong. I know you won't because you could care less about your customers. It's all a show. Your bank should be ashamed of itself."

Then I realized I had it. "Let me speak to your supervisor." It's like trying to settle an argument with your spouse by discussing it with an older sister or brother. The supervisor was pleasant but handed me off to another department. At this third department I spoke with a more sensible gentleman whose name was J.J. I always get worried when a person doesn't have a name - just letters. What's he hiding?

J.J. was cool. He repeated back to me what he understood the problem to be and then admitted -the bank made a MISTAKE! I couldn't believe my ears. A warm, fuzzy feeling came over me, "How could I be mad at my bank. She's so nice when she wants to be. She holds my money and gives it to me when I need it. Gives me interest bearing checking accounts and waives my late fees"

We were friends again. Like a great marriage counselor, J.J. brought me and my bank back into a loving relationship. All I needed to hear from the bank were three little words, "We were wrong." I was shocked when I heard the confession but it was like a blanket of peace that came down from heaven. I wanted to shout it out to the people on the streets, "The bank admitted it was wrong!"

Will I speak to my bank again? Sure. Will we go at it and trade blows, "Yes, of course." Did they waste my time? They always do. At one point I said, "You made a mistake and you're taking my time to fix it. I charge $40 an hour so the clock is ticking. I will send you an invoice for the time you are taking out of my day to fix your mistake."

What's the key? Keep complaining until you get someone on the line who is not a robot and can objectively understand what is taking place.

Why am I telling you all this? Simply because as individuals we are getting less and less important and the corporations are getting bigger. They say they care about you. They don't. If you are against the wall with a corporation, push back until you get a real human to talk to you.

If Obamacare ever passes, these kind of encounters will be run-of-the mill. This time you'll be arguing with a government employee who most likely won't budge. For now, my bank and I are getting along quite well. When the day comes the government is handling your health care and you need immediate medical attention and they tell you that you can't see a doctor for three months, what are you going to do? Will you ever hear the words, "We were wrong" from a government operated heathcare plan that is running amuck ? You'll have to wait and find out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is Your God Neatly Packed in a Very Small Box?

How can Israel's King David write, "O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge" (Psalm 7:1) and then a few psalms later he pens, "How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?" (Psalm 13:1). Was David bipolar, having bouts with manic depression or just confused?

Actually, I believe King David was quite normal. In fact, he's almost too normal for many followers of the God of the Bible. Many religious people have grabbed on to the position that the true believer should never question God. Listen to Palm 22:2, "O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer." Even Psalm 28:1 can be a bit hair-raising, "To Thee, O Lord, I call. My rock, do not be deaf to me." Why would the psalmist entertain such a thought that God would turn a deaf ear to him, a man after God's own heart? Was there something wrong with David's faith?

If I wrote these verses in a letter or an article and made it seem the words came from my own heart, many Christians would wonder if I am still walking with the Lord. But because David said these words, we are caught in a quandary. Can a man who has faith in the Lord, ever doubt God or even wonder if God hears his prayers or whether the Lord is hiding from him?

To those who claim to have faith, never question God nor are ever disappointed with your circumstances in life and are too afraid to admit your grief, I maintain your faith is robotic and untested. Your faith is packaged in a small box in which God is neatly figured out and boxed in by a fortress of Bible verses that only show one side of God. You are too afraid to look at the verses where men and women of God have questioned Him and cried out in pain to the Lord wondering if He cares. Perhaps your faith is an immature faith, well supported with Scriptures, but with only select passages and only with life experiences that you choose to look at.

If your faith in God is wrapped up in a box where God does not allow harm to come your way - miscarriages, chronic pain, job loss, relational pain - then your trust in Him is very weak. Only a faith that stands before God that is honest, real and transparent is a faith that reflects the trust of a man with a heart for God. Think of it, as you go through the Psalms and read David's continual questioning and even complaining before God often followed by his restored praise in God, remember that David is called a man after God's heart. That's right. He's an honest man. A man who can't keep silent about the evil that comes his way even though he remains faithful to God.

If David were alive today and stood in the pulpit of many churches and gave a sermon in which he asked why does God allow the unrighteous to prosper or why the Lord remains silent (Psalm 35) while wicked people contended with David, I'd be sure David would not be asked to speak again. Why? Because David and his Psalms kick out the sides of the box we try to fit God into. David's relationship with God is too real for many of us.

The King of Israel utters words we'd be too afraid to ever speak. That is why, my friend, our faith is weak and often useless in confronting the evils of this world. Instead, we have a faith that can only survive in a Bible studies, worship services and small groups where "real life" does not often take place. Real faith only becomes real on Monday morning when we are willing to admit, "Why, O Lord, do I have to work with these people?" or "Lord, how long will I live without a job and struggle financially? Don't you care for your child's needs?" Those are the words God awaits to hear because it is in the midst of these words, God comes to our hearts. He enthrones Himself on the seat of an honest spirit not upon one which a God sits that does not reflect the God of the Bible.

Take your pick: either keep God in a small box or start becoming honest with Him and let Him define who He is to you even in the face of unresolved pain.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Early Bird of Retirement Doesn't Get the Worm

Thinking about retiring earlier since you turned 62, the age when you are eligible for early retirement and can collect social security? Well, you better take a hard look at the drawbacks of early retirement.

I visited the Van Nuys Social Security Administration office a few weeks ago. I appeared to be the only U.S. citizen in the room or at least, I thought so. I grumbled a lot about illegals coming to the US and going on Social Security and then asked the security guard whether all the people in the waiting room are Americans. She told me that as long as you can establish legal residence and have a Green Card, you are eligible for SS. I wasn't too happy to hear that. Of course, a person must pay into the system and put in a certain amount of money to qualify, but why should non-U.S. citizens benefit from a retirement package if they did not go through the process of becoming part of the red, white and blue? Even if they put money into the system, if they are illegal, how about the money they aren't paying in taxes and getting paid under the table?

When I was able to see my representative, I asked him the same question about illegals receiving Social Security Benefits. He asked me, "What do you want us to do, throw these people out on the streets?" I replied, "Yes, and then maybe they will either return to their country of origin or become U.S. citizens like my grandparents did when they came here over seventy years ago."

So if you're 20 to 40 years old and you are worried about receiving Social Security benefits, you should be deeply concerned. Youre paying for the retirement of people who are not citizens and no one knows how long they've even been in the U.S. They could have falsified Social Security cards and IDs. But no one in the federal or state governments wants to touch the sacred cow of illegal aliens. Therefore, the younger U.S. citizens will suffer. I won't. Why? Because I've been paying Social Security taxes since I was 16 years old. I've put into the system and when I am ready, I am taking my money out.

So what did I find out about early retirement? Well, you can retire at 62 years of age. I think my benefits are close to $1600 a month. However, once I make over $11,000 in any given year, my benefits are suspended for that year. I would have to wait until the next year, assuming I am not working or making over $11,000 to reapply for my early retirement benefits. I concluded early retirement is for people who can live for under $30,000 a year or maybe have some other money hidden away.

As for me I want to work as long as I can and if I can, I want to make more than $30,000 a year. If I wait until I am 66, I will make an additional $500 a month on my Social Security benefits and at that age I can work all I want without having my SS benefits suspended. Not bad. So I am waiting. Not that I'm looking forward to becoming 66. I dread it. But the supplemental pay is decent.

One more item i discovered is that if you take an early retirement, you are locked into that lower amount for the rest of your life just because you took out your money early. So if I took my $1600 a month, I would make that amount from SS until I'm deceased. No thanks. I'll always go for the higher amount because I worked for over 40 years and I want my full benefits.

A lot of people I've spoken to have taken early retirement and did not know this information and are kicking themselves for making a bad, misinformed decision.

On the other hand, we need a major Social Security overhaul to make sure illegals are prevented from tapping into the system. Friends have told me that they have gone down to the SS Administration office in their town and applied for SS and were never asked for ID. Once again, the illegals have found another way to rip off America-the country with it's hand out to anyone crafty enough to abuse the system and get away with it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harvey Milk Day Should Go Sour

Harvey Milk Day Should Go Sour

Still An East Coast Guy in LA

Still An East Coast Guy in LA

Guest Blog:Hear The Evil; See The Evil; Feel No Evil - Where's the Outrage Over Deadly Church Bombings? By Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Stunned survivors of terrorist bombings often speak of an initial eerie silence -- followed by the inevitable wailing and moaning of innocent people whose lives are forever shattered for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Last weekend's deadly serial bombings of Christian Houses of Worship in Iraq -- Six Churches -- with four killed and 21 injured in one of the last bombings alone, is proof that when it comes to the media, governments and NGOs, the reverse is generally the case.

We can expect a loud CNN bulletin, a dramatic FACEBOOK, YouTube or Twitter message capturing the moment; sometimes even followed by official statements of concern or condolences. And then... Silence

This is bad news for Iraq's historic Christian communities -- including Catholics, Assyrians, and others -- who have been under siege by Islamic extremists for years. Neither President George W. Bush's 'gift' of democracy or President Obama's overture to Muslims in Cairo have brought any relief or hope of change for faithful Churchgoers who once numbered a million-strong. Most have fled or are looking to get out.

And it is the collective silence and failure to act on the part of governments, Interfaith leaders and NGOs that have been taken as a green light by extremists to eradicate religious minorities in Iraq. That goal -- if achieved -- will make a mockery of the vision of a future, viable, democratic Iraq.

But before anyone in Iraq rejoices at the brutal cleansing of Christendom from their midst, a cautionary note: such effective tactics can and will come back to bite you.

Evidence the history of Suicide Bombing. Between 1981 and June 2008, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point reports, there were 1,994 suicide attacks worldwide. Before Israel constructed its security fence, it suffered -- to the glee of many of its Arab and Muslim enemies -- 162 such attacks.

It was that attitude that doomed The Simon Wiesenthal Center's initiative to have the International community declare all suicide bombings, crimes against humanity (despite endorsements from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the late Pope John Paul II and even the Foreign Minister of Turkey).

But current statistics are staggering. In the year ending June 2008, 58.2% of suicide attacks took place in Iraq and 36.6% in Afghanistan and Pakistan. By the beginning of 2009, 12,000 Iraqis have been killed by 1,100 terrorists who blew themselves up...

The Internet guarantees we will all hear the Evil, see the Evil, but it cannot make us care about Evil. And as recent events in Iran proved -- Technology cannot defeat Evil -- only people can.

Please read Rabbi Cooper's original post by
clicking here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Out of A Job But Not Out of a Purpose

After two years of working with John Tesh Media Group, the company needed to downsize and I was let go this week. It's been a great two years learning more than I would ever imagine about the Internet, the usefulness of social networking websites and the music business. John gave me a lifetime of learning opportunities so I feel confident in being able to obtain another job-even in this rough economy.

Today I attended a job fair at the Woodland Hills Marriot Hotel. I wanted to check out the available opportunities that were on display. Only one of them even caught my eye-Salem Communications-the umbrella organization that oversees many different Christian and conservative talk radio all over the U.S. They were only offering sales jobs selling air time to advertisers. Several other companies accosted me at the fair all with the same job opportunity-selling stocks on commission or offering money management services to potential customers . . . and then hit them up to buy insurance. I would rather eat a live snail crawling on the sidewalk than sell insurance. Just being honest.

Yes, I need a job to support myself and to fulfill my many financial responsibilities and obligations. However, there is something even more important than making a living and that's finding your purpose. In other words, "Life is really all about answering one question, 'Am I doing what God wants me to do?'" He put me on this earth for a reason. If my purpose here is to be sell insurance, then I better be the best insurance salesperson I can be in order to fulfill my godly calling.

I am at a time in my life when it is not safe to try to fulfill your dreams. The economy is tanking. I've got debts to pay off. Who in the world in his right mind has the freedom to think about fulfilling his or her dreams. Many people believe this kind of thinking is for kids. When I was younger I wanted to be an FBI agent, a detective, a Navy frogman or anything that smells of danger.

Now that I am grown, most people would tell me to stop dreaming. Settle down. Get a real job. Yet here I am with all these new media oriented skills and I am excited about what I've learned. But I still have to answer the question why am I here on this earth? And I know the answer-to serve God and to impact the lives of other people. Regardless of I did sell stocks, raised snails or found creative ways to use my Internet skills, I must use what I am best at doing and serve others.

It is God who has given me my past, my experiences, my skills and my passions. It's now up to me to take what He has given to me and use them wisely. How am I using my life to serve Him? So as I seek work, not only am I looking for a decent wage (I'm not that stupid), but I'm also looking for an opportunity to be the person God created me to be. I am seeking a place where I can take all that God has given me and put them to good use for His glory.

I haven't lost my purpose or drive to serve the Lord. I am now looking for where that special place is supposed to be. You are not any different. If you're out of work, perhaps this is your time to finally be in the place where God has always wanted you to be.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My name is Louis Not Luis

I've had it. And it all started with my birth certificate. I actually possess two proofs of my entrance into this world. One says "Baby Boy Lapides" and it includes my foot prints, someone's thumb print (probably my mother's) and a photo of Newark, New Jersey's Beth Israel hospital where I was born.

The other birth certificate identifies me as Louis Sherwin Lapides. I was never wild about my middle name and complained to my mother that she named me after a paint company, " Why not Dunn-Edwards, Mom?" But notice the spelling of my name L-o-u-i-s. Of course growing up, my name went through a few variations depending on what neighborhood my friends were from. The Italians called me Luigi. After the song "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen dropped in the 60s, I was Louie. My name actually became
cool for a few years. My brother would call me "Lou" and other friends would follow suit. When I broke 21 windows on mischief night, my name was "LOUIS" to my Dad after he got off the phone with several irate neighbors.

In the U.S. Army I was called "Louis" and "Jew-boy" and "Lou." When I heard Jew-boy then an equally harsh racial slur would be my response. Use your imagination.

Lately, a new phenomenon has taken place. It all started with Starbuck or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I would place my order and the clerk would ask my name. I would respond with "Louis. L-o-u-i-s.' Even if a mistake was made and my name was spelled Lewis, I would not complain. No big deal.

Today . . . forget about it. A transformation has taken place. This young man once born in a Jewish hospital in NJ, bar-mitzvahed at age 13 and a strong pro-Zionist has now taken on the name "Luis." All of a sudden I am a Hispanic person. It would be okay if I was Hispanic. But I am not. I once visited Tijuana for an hour and left because it reminder me of some scummy village in Vietnam. I love Mexican food. But my name is not Luis.

Our culture has become Hispanisized. When I call a business, I am told to press #1 for English. No, the Hispanic person should press #1 for Spanish. This is America-an English speaking country. I never took one class in Spanish though I have studied at least 7-8 different dialects-mostly ancient Semitic offshoots.

But I am not Luis. I don't look Hispanic-despite my olive complexion. I don't speak Spanish and I am at a point where I resent the name "Luis" written on my coffee cup. What am I going to do about it? Probably make the cashier cross out "Luis" and replace it with the name on my birth certificate.

BTW-my Hebrew name is Lechem. But I don't go around telling people to start calling me by my Hebrew name. I am in America, an English speaking country, surrounded by English speaking people and I will not allow any one culture-many of whom are illegals-to start rearranging the English language, Maybe my name is the rallying point . . . the much needed lightning rod that can bring about change to take back this country as an English speaking country.

Oddly enough, when I meet an Hispanic individual with an Hispanic name like Jorge, I would never think of calling him George. I would never speak of New York Yankees catch as George Posada. So don't change English names into Spanish names.

One bumper sticker said it all, "Welcome to America. Now speak English!" May I add . . . . and my name is Louis! Please!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pro-Palestinian Supporters Enter French Supermarket And Remove Israeli Goods From Shelves.

Try this in America.


Friday, January 30, 2009

The Church's Sin Against Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard never was never one of my favorite preachers . . . and my opinion has nothing to do with his unfortunate sexual choices. I'm not into mega-church pastors who strut around on stage, boast about how many people attend their church, preach from their ego rather than the Bible and create a circus atmosphere in the house where people gather to encounter God's presence.

Haggard, married and father of five, was the former pastor of the 12,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Several years ago Haggard was ousted from his pulpit for having a homosexual affair with a male prostitute. Since he's been in exile HBO filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has unwittingly composed a 45 minute documentary on Haggard, "The Trials of Ted Haggard."

From a Los Angeles Times article, we learn that Haggard met with Pelosi as a concerned friend who videotaped their conversations. He was recently disappointed to hear Pelosi made a film of their talks and sold the finished product to HBO.

Ted . . . let me clue you in on something: If you're going to invite an HBO filmmaker to your house and they bring a video camera to your meeting, assume you'll end up on HBO.

Regardless, Pelosi depicts the disgraced pastor as a repentant man who wants to tell his side. Haggard, in the film, appears to have worked through a lot of personal issues. He says, "I have an incredibly satisfying relationship with my wife, and I no longer have compelling and distressing thoughts attached to same-sex attraction that I used to." He currently sees himself as a heterosexual with issues. I appreciate his candid approach. Haggard sees sexuality as "confusing and complex" and finds that he "must fight hard to be a man of integrity."

But what about New Life Church in Colorado Springs-the church Haggard once pastored? I learned from the article that when he left, Haggard had to sign two legal contracts with the church. One of the separation agreements barred him from living in the state of Colorado or returning to his church. Can you imagine banning a pastor from a state of the Union of the United States of America for sexual sin? I've never heard of such a thing. Is that legal? Can you imagine Jesus banning Peter from Israel after he denied him three times?

Where does this church in this burst of self-righteous arrogance get off exiling a person from a state? I understand that they don't want to see Haggard's face on the church grounds. But you can't force someone to be exiled from the state! That sounds like something Josef Stalin would do in sending political enemies to Siberia? Why didn't New Life Church just execute Haggard in front of the congregation or use church funds to have him whacked?

I'm sure the church has their reasons for turning Haggard into a spiritual refugee bearing the mark of Cain, and those reasons will are meant to try to make the church leaders appear to be "loving" and expressing "concern for the pastor, his family and the church membership." What a crock!

The actions of New Life Church tell me that becoming a pastor is a dangerous profession. If you're a pastor and human enough to commit a sin, then watch out! You'll be treated inhumanely by a group of people who allegedly aim to model the love and compassion of the Son of Man - Jesus Christ. A better choice would be to build a robotic pastor who is computer controlled, made out of titanium and incapable of sin. In fact, he comes completely without genitals. It's a win-win situation for everyone. When it comes to becoming a pastor, real people need not apply. Christians want perfection not reality in the pulpit and the church ends up creating a man who must live a double life lest he be exiled or ostracized for telling the truth about his struggles with sin. I wonder how much New Life Church is responsible for making it nearly impossible for Haggard to come clean with another trusted congregant about his homosexual urges prior to ever committing the sin?

Are other fornicators and adulterers attending this Colorado Springs church also asked to leave Colorado when their sin is exposed? Why not? The pastor is the model for everyone else, and so the church -New Life Church - should follow the model with every congregant. New Life Church should set up a refugee camp in Utah -the next state over - as a holding place for carnal Christians. When they repent of their sin and give evidence of spiritual transformation, they'll be allowed to return to Colorado.

But there's "good" news. Recently, the church is allowing Haggard to return to the state and move back to Colorado Springs. Isn't that special? Does Ted have any self-esteem or respect that he would want anything to do with the people in his former church?

Also, the present pastor of New Life Church, Brady Boyd, who viewed the Pelosi documentary, was distressed that the church was depicted as casting Haggard out. Rather, according to the "puppet" pastor Boyd, Haggard agreed to leave Colorado in the spirit of a "fresh start." Now, does that sound like Christian double talk or what? Christian leaders always find a way to revise reality to make themselves look good and the transgressor look bad even if the leadership acts in an ungodly manner. In fact,
Little do they know that in the act of correcting a person in sin, the church leadership commits their own sin in the name of acting righteous.

Later in the Los Angeles Times article, Haggard apologized saying he was sorry if the film causes any of his former parishioners pain. Let us not forget that it is Haggard and his family who experienced the most pain, and if he finds it necessary to explain how the Lord has been redeeming his marriage and restoring his soul in a documentary, it's too bad if his former parishioners experience pain. Get over it. This is a man's life we're talking about - a man who God has been working with. Shouldn't the parishioners be rejoicing that their former pastor is salvaging his life? We are just too over-sensitive as Christians about causing pain in the lives of others. Does the surgeon apologize to the family for the pain he's causing their loved one by performing an operation?

I close with this passage from Isaiah 43:1-3:

I fear not, for the Lord has redeemed me; He has called me by my name. I am His. When I pass through the waters, He will be with me; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow me. When I walk through the fire, I shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch me. For the Holy One of Israel is my Savior.

What sinners in Christianity must fear the most is no longer the Lord God, but they must fear the wrath, judgment, condemnation and exiling of those who claim they are followers of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things Christians Aren't Supposed to Say

Group think in any arena is unhealthy especially in the religious realm. When group think controls a person, they're hesitant to say what's on their minds for fear of being condemned or given a simplistic answer they already thought of themselves.

In evangelical Christianity there are certain "buzz answers" that are given when a believer is facing a specific struggle. If a person is facing a financial problem, one may hear, "God will provide," or "Perhaps you haven't prayed enough," or "God may be trying to get your attention by letting you suffer financially." Meanwhile the bills are piling up and the person is wondering where to turn. At the same time, I do not think the Church is meant to practice bailout for every Christian who has financial problems. Usually, the source of financial problems goes deeper than insufficient funds in a bank.

So a lot of questions are left unanswered in the minds of many Chrisrians. Many thoughts of the heart go unspoken. Much pain is unattended for fear of being given a pat response that piles guilt on the one undergoing the trial.

The reason for these poor responses lies in the fact followers of Christ are afraid to say, "I don't know," or "I'm not sure what God is doing in your life. Maybe it has nothing to do with God at all. You just made some bad decisions," or "Did you expect life as a Christian to be any different than what you experienced as a non-believer? Who sold you that bill of goods?"

Here's is my list of things that I'm convinced Christians won't admit or utter because they're afraid of a legalistic or simplistic response by their Christian friends:

•I refuse to forgive that person who caused me such pain and ruined my life.

•My children are totally out of control even though I raised them as Christians.

•I have sinned and am an imperfect human being despite Christ in my life

•I hate going to church; my soul is left dry and empty even though I attend faithfully.

•My pastor is a nice guy but he really doesn't preach out of the Bible.

•I have several chronic illnesses and all I get from other Christians is condemnation and names of charismatic healers I should go to.

•My marriage is horrible and I refuse to work on it anymore despite what God and Christians think.

•Christians in public leadership or on TV are an embarrassment. They practice sappy showmanship and their behavior in the pulpit or on stage is anachronistic and condescending.

•I feel so uncomfortable around overly emotional Christians who are always saying "Praise the Lord" and sound so robotic. Do these people have a life or has religion become their new form of entertainment?

•Why does the church jump on sexual sins by leaders and congregants, but ignore all the other heinous sins we commit like gossip, lying, backstabbing, gluttony, pride and unkindness?

•Is anyone really justified to be mad at God because of the way their life turned out?

•I am always have financial problems regardless of how much I give to church or pray for blessing.

•Does prayer really work? Events are going to happen anyway whether you pray or not.

•What in the world does it mean when people say, "You haven't prayed hard enough"?

•I'm sick and tired of Christians who condemn our country for using force to stop terrorists. Why are Christians such pansies when it comes to violence? Haven't they read the Bible?

•Why are there so many single Christian men and women? What has Christianity taught these eligible people that has kept them unmarried when they want to find a mate so badly?

•I think Christian men are being sold a bill of goods by a lot of Christian authors who write books on masculinity. Just ask Christian women what they're looking for in a Christian guy.

My list can be a lot longer. But you get the picture. If you care to comment on this post, send more of those hard-to-speak words you'd rather not say in a Bible study or a church setting. It's my conviction that the words we refuse to utter are truly what the average Christian has on his or her mind. Instead, we choose to live in a phony spiritual world in which we say all the right things just so we can sound "Christian." That's too bad.