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Another Favorite Video -Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs

This is an excellent video come to explaining why mass immigration to the U.S. (or anywhere else) is not the solution to Poverty (or much of anything else).

Philosophy Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

On Doctrinal Purity and Its Relation to Practice in Islam

I have recently—yet again—been accosted with an argument that can be considered one of the base arguments pertaining to any belief set.

The essence of the argument is, “Most people don’t follow the pure base doctrine anyway, so (essentially) the base doctrine is irrelevant.”

This post is intended to explain the flaw in this logic—the “fly in this ointment” as it were.

It can be reasonably assumed, that the following will happen to any set of beliefs created:

  1. There will be those who do their best to follow the base doctrine—some will succeed, most will fail.
  2. There will be those who intentionally “interpret” (read here “misinterpret” the doctrine, along with those who unintentionally do so.
  3. There will be the “cherry pickers.” These will pick and choose what aspects of a given belief set they “like,” and do their best to ignore the rest. I know people who say things like, “I take the best parts of every religion and combine them.” It’s fair to say, the expression, “best parts” is subjective. Obviously, what that person deems the “best parts” of Christianity are not what I do (because some of the things I believe are the “best parts” are intentionally mutually exclusive to all other belief sets).

These things being considered, there are a few things that are true regardless these assumptions:

  1. The base doctrine remains what it is unless it is changed.
  2. In some belief sets and resultant doctrines, change is not permissible—at least not by the adherents—because of the idea that they came from an authoritative source who either no longer exist, or have called the beliefs so. So for example, Christianity’s Biblical doctrine is, for all intents and purposes, immutable.
  3. Though its current form appears “set in stone,” the base doctrine of Islam was changeable, by Mohammed (the supposed prophet of Islam).
  4. Because Islam was mutable, there had to be a way to “manage” change (abrogation).

By the way, one could make similar arguments around Christianity, but in reality, they are untrue. That’s because prior to the time spoken of in the New Testament, there was no Christianity, even though technically, there was already a Christ and in some senses, precursors to Christianity existed (in Judaism).

Funnily too, doctrinal baselines did not change in the time of Christ or after. This is not the case for Islam. There were changes made by Mohammed himself.

Many would argue that all I have said to this point is “academic” and not good for much else. Let me now proceed to explain why this is not the case.

Firstly, where it is fair to say that many who claim to be practitioners of a particular doctrine or belief set do not even come close to doing or being what that doctrine says they should, if the base doctrine is immutable, it remains the base doctrine.

Secondly, most belief sets provide mechanisms for this deviance (which is why terms like “apostasy” and “heresy” exist). Such concepts exist in Islam as well and based on my readings various places, appear to be pretty strict.

Thirdly, Islam’s remedy for heretical or apostate teaching and activity is death. As such, the very least one ought to be able to argue, is that people who are partial or “interpretive” followers of Islam are not true Muslims.

Similar arguments may be made by Christianity (where Jesus Himself says things like “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.“).

For that matter, most belief sets have similar takes.

The point is, it can be argued that people who choose to count themselves believers in a given doctrine, but don’t follow it “to the letter” are at least questionably believers. In the strongest interpretation, it could be said those who choose not to practice a given doctrine as expressed are not adherents.

Christianity provides for this by making it so Christians can “do things wrong” and be absolved of those wrongdoings. The reason some will be considered “workers of iniquity?” That would be a result of the fact that they don’t believe the base doctrine. Put another way, even if you “fail to perform,” your salvation in Christianity is believing the base doctrine, recognizing that Jesus is Lord, recognizing your need for His Lordship and accepting it, recognizing your deviation from that doctrine and seeking forgiveness.”

Islam appears to offer the same potential for remediation (though the process is different), the only problem is that Islam calls for the slaying of apostates, heretics and infidels. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems rather unlikely that a dead person is going to repent his or her actions or beliefs.

Even with all of this being considered, many people will say, essentially, “So what?” The basis for their lack of concern? Actually, it tends to be precisely for the reason that the majority of people who claim adherence to a particular belief set, fail miserably in full and complete immersion into the resulting doctrine.

This sounds like a reasonable argument, but there are a some pretty substantial reasons it’s not.

Even if you consider that the number of people who are strong or complete adherents—in, for example, Islam—as the number of not strong or complete adherents rises, so does the number of strict ones. So with an estimate of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, even if there were one percent who followed Islam according to the Qur’an (and are strict adherents), that would be roughly sixteen million people. And even though there are many who estimate the number of extreme adherents to be “quite low,” they still estimate a number at over one hundred thousand. But the truth is, that’s almost certainly an extremely low number.

Funnily, even if the number is accurate, it’s pretty darned high. What makes that far worse, is that the “extremists” in question appear to be willing to deceive (as a matter of base doctrineand they’re targeting people in other countries (regardless the reason) as well as those in their own.

By the way, even if you argue that the “extremists” are coming after those who are “messing with” them, you need to understand that one of the base tenets found in the Qur’an is a world Sharia based government. And it’s a pretty good bet that the “extremists” are not the only ones who want to see that happen. Some of those who are not “extremists” will likely support those who are if it means the establishment of Sharia as a result.

There’s a great deal more to say about this, but for the moment, I will allow this as sufficient.

Thanks for reading.

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Another Favorite Video: Three Things You Probably Did Not Know About Islam

I don’t agree with all of the conclusions drawn herein about OTHER belief sets (and could explain why this is true), but the point is, this is something one ought to look at. I’m more than willing to hear arguments to the contrary with regard to what is being said here (and would even consider removing it I can be shown how it is incorrect).

For the time being though, I will leave it here and mark it as a resource.

Health and Fitness Health and Fitness Resources Resources

My “Qualifications” to Talk About Health and Fitness Related Issues

I started writing an article for the Health and Fitness part of my blog, and came to the conclusion that I wanted a section of the blog post that talked about my experiences and why it might not be a bad idea to consider what I say. I got into this, and began to realize that this was probably too much information for most folks to digest when coupled with the actual subject at hand.

The result was, that I decided to turn it into a blog post in its own right and to make it a “resource” for easy access. You’re reading the result of that decision.

Anybody having known me for more than five or six years is likely very much aware that I have been fairly substantially overweight within that time frame. In fact. I started battling my weight in my early to mid twenties as a member of the United States Air Force (I was in the military from the beginning of 1983 to the end of 1991, so from the time I was just turning nineteen, until just before my twenty eighth birthday).

When I joined the military, I weighed in at 145 pounds (around 65.75 kg). After Air Force Basic Training, I had dropped ten pounds and came in at a quite lean 135 pounds (somewhere in the neighborhood of 61.25 kg).

When I went from my first permanent station (around the beginning of 1985) to my second (in the Republic of Korea), I tipped the scales right around 184 pounds (closing in hard on 83.5 kg). Nobody who was in the Air Force during that period need ask how I know. For the rest of you, you should be aware that the Air Force had a “Maximum Allowable Weight” (MAW) for a given height of airman. If you exceeded that weight—unless you got a waiver—you “fell onto” the dreaded Weight Management Program. Failure to progress, meant stiffer and stiffer penalties. You can trust that I spent far too much time interested in my weight back then!

My troubles didn’t stop when I left the military though (in fact, being over my MAW was a part of the reason I left the military—I won’t go into any of the other reasons at this moment in time, among other things, they’re not really relevant to this discussion). By the time I moved to Arkansas from Washington state (where I was when I exited the military and chose to stay) around the middle of 1996, I was certainly over my MAW and probably over 200 pounds (just under 90.75 kg).

At some point around 1999 or so, I probably hit 250 pounds (just under 113.5 kg) or more. I think it likely that by 2005, I was nearer to 300 pounds (around 136 kg) than 200. If I had to guess, I think I was probably somewhere close to 275 (roughly 125 kg) at my “peak.”

The above “journey” is not one I would recommend anybody take! To this point, I have managed to “dodge the bullet” on most of the related health conditions, but not all of them. I’ll not go into detail here, just keep in mind that the potential repercussions are far worse than you really ever want to know.

In 2005, I started working at a new position in a company where I stayed for nine years. While there, I substantially pared myself down in weight and size. I went from somewhere near my peak weight, to somewhere very close to 200 pounds. In the process, I went from a 42 inch (roughly 106 cm) plus waist, to somewhere around a 38 inch (96.5 cm) waist or below.

I really didn’t start this process until around 2010 and lost virtually all that weight (and waist) through walking (yes, you read that correctly, walking). I won’t say there was no change in diet, but my focus was on getting active (and for the most part, the diet took care of itself—and I made no drastic changes).

When I started, I was walking five or ten minutes once or twice a day and probably less than a quarter mile (around .4 km), by the end of that period, I was walking an hour a day, and five miles (around 8 km) in that time. As I implied, I left that position at the end of 2013

These days (at the end of 2015),  I weigh in around 194 (88 kg) on a heavy day (I often weigh in between 192.5 and 190). I have somewhere between a 36 (around 91.5 cm) and a 34 inch (about 86.25 cm) waist.

I spend half an hour in a “gym” and about 45 minutes walking and running (I walk about 1.5 miles or roughly 2.4 km and run another half a mile or roughly .8 km). And I do this on days that I work at the office only (and all walking and running is done outside, so if the weather is sufficiently bad—raining more than a drizzle, very icy or snowing at all hard—I don’t walk or run). I don’t do anything on vacation (unless I feel like it) or if I work from home.

Of that time, I spend less than 30 minutes doing the full two mile distance, and the rest in “cool down” time. In general, I average around 4.5 mph or around 7.25 kph.

My heart rate typically “maxes out at” a number less than 160 beats per minute and when I’m truly resting, I have a heart rate in the lower seventies. And as to my “recovery?” I can “come down from” a 160 beat per minute heart rate to under 112 beats per minute in less than five minutes.

I’m far from a superman and there are a good many people in better shape than am I. That having been said, you should understand that, where the are others who have been through a journey similar to mine, I have managed to successfully bring myself into moderately good condition and keep myself there for years (not days, weeks, or even months).

If this sounds like something you may want to accomplish, then it might be beneficial for you to take some time to look at what I have to say about health and fitness.

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Christianity and Politics

I have found myself recently, saying (essentially), “People who know me at all would know this or that about me.” I’m going to do that again now.

If you know anything about me at all, you’re aware that I don’t support the political process with either votes, money (at least not by intent) or time (past that used to explain things to people who appear to me not to understand with what they are dealing).

The reason for my position is simple. I believe because I am a Christian, that it is not my right to force others to take any course of action. I can recommend a given course of action or a given direction but—excepting in parenting or guardianship—I cannot require another to do as I would like them to or even believe they ought.

This gives rise to two questions for most folks, I would imagine:

  1. What makes you take this position?
  2. How does this relate to voting or supporting politics and politicians with money or other resources?

Here then are my answers.

Why the Position?

I’m pretty sure that it was not by accident that, when Jesus Christ (God in the flesh to the believer) came to this Earth,  He chose to tell people who and what they ought to be but never forced a living soul to do and be what they ought to be. I could go into substantially more detail, but I think this is sufficient.

I’ll say further only this. When Jesus told his disciples/apostles how to behave at no point did he tell them to force others to behave in this way or that. I happen to believe this was entirely a matter of intent (not one of accident).

I would ask anybody to give me a good example of where Jesus or any of his followers forced others into a given course of action.

This does not mean the Christian is without recourse, just that this recourse is based in convincing folks as to what they ought to do or be as opposed to coercing or forcing them into a particular behavior or perspective.

How Does this Relate?

The next question would be, “How does this relate to the idea of non-participation in politics and government?”

Again, I count the answer to this question to be a simple one. Government (and accordingly politicians) is (and are) by nature agents of coercion. And my supporting either a politician or a government is my agreeing (at least tacitly) to that coercion. This—in my view—is unacceptable.

The funny thing about this? Based on what I have said, I cannot expect anybody else to change their behavior based on my beliefs and understanding. My hope, if I have a hope, is in convincing folks to change.

Why Discuss Politics and Government?

So at about this point, I imagine you’re probably asking the question above in some form. Maybe you’re thinking something like, “Wait, if you cannot support government, why do you seem to spend so much time talking about things like what government ought or ought not do and who would be good to have in a particular position?”

The fact is, even if I could convince every Christian against government, politics and politicians, government (and politics and politicians) would still exist. The “why” of this has many reasons—things like, non-Christians and confused Christians who want or feel the need for government.

Additional to this, is the idea that God sets up governments (and where I don’t believe that “looks like” what a lot of folks seem to think it does, I cannot argue the truth of it, it’s literally Biblical).

So if governments must exist—and I believe they must—what ought to be the role of the Christian with regard to them?

The Role of Christians with Regard to Government

Firstly, I should say that I only intend to address part of the Christian’s role toward government here. There are other things—like praying for leaders, and for peace—that this post is not intended to cover.

When you go looking for a place to live, do you not search for things you think will “fit” yourself and your family where that house is concerned? And if you have say over how that house will be constructed (even if it’s just input that can be allow, accepted or ignored), will you not state your case with regard to the construction of that house? I would argue that you would do so.

So, what’s a good “fit” for Christians where government is concerned?

Because—in my view—it’s not the job of the Christian to force or coerce, I believe that the best form of government is one in which the absolute minimum of control is exercised. Again, it cannot be “none” or “anarchy” and stand up to the idea that God supports the existence of governments.

There are other reasons this is the case. Governments have a habit of telling Christians and others they must do things the which they cannot support in good conscience. If you minimize the control of the government, you reduce the possibility of this occurring.

Funnily, the intent of the United States Founders seems to support a minimalist government, designed only to protect its citizens from harm (and harm has a very strict definition). Further, the Founders saw to it, that the higher up the government, the less power it possessed. They did this because they realized that the further power is from that over which it is exercised, the less likely it will be able to deal with distinct and differing circumstances and scenarios.

The result of this, is that (until folks started to find ways to get around the base laws and the spirit of those laws) the United States of America was “born with” and has maintained, about the best form of government for which a Christian could ask.

The problem is that the U.S. is a representative republic (something most folks get wrong, assuming it to be democracy—not at all the intent of the Founders), and even though it’s not a democracy, still, its politicians can and do circumvent its foundational structure.

They do this in a variety of ways that include, writing laws that usurp Constitutional authority, creating agencies that ought not exist and implementing policies the which they have no right to implement.

As such, if a Christian wants to continue to live in a free country, he or she must convince those in a position to change the government and its laws to do so in a way that will be to his or her liking. The funny thing is, in the process, he or she will be convincing others to do something that is also their own benefit.

Okay, I’ll say one more thing, then I’ll leave this be (for now)

If you have not yet read Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You” you ought to do so. I have a “resource” on this blog that “points to” an “e-version” of that book. It is here:

“The Kingdom of God Is Within You” by graf Leo Tolstoy – Free Ebook

As usual, thanks for reading and comments are welcome.

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“The Kingdom of God Is Within You” by graf Leo Tolstoy – Free Ebook

If you’re a Christian and you have not read this book, you ought to do so.

Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg.

Source: “The Kingdom of God Is Within You” by graf Leo Tolstoy – Free Ebook

Philosophy Politics Religion, Politics and Philosophy Resources

Overview of America – YouTube

Another favorite video of mine…

Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Islam and Racism

I can’t imagine anybody knowing me for very long, without coming to the understanding that I don’t believe in the concept of “race” as is it typically applied to humanity.

Put simply, I do not believe in different races among humans and therefor, do not believe in racism among them either.

There are a lot of folks out there who I’m sure look at people like me as “deniers.” To some folks, my refusal to accept race amongst humanity, makes me crazy or maybe delusional. To others, I’m sure I would be termed satanic or evil. Probably to others, I am simply stupid. I can live with all of that.

But let me now make my position clear. There are at least two things I’m trying to say:

  1. Though among humans, there are differences of culture, and among groups of humans, similarities and differences in physical attributes (and let’s face it, in things like medical prognoses as well), there is but one race—that being human. Put simply, whether your family is from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australia or elsewhere, you are a human. That means—to me at least—that we’re all part of the same big family.
  2. That people do things they ought not, and try to excuse their behavior by using “racial divisions” to do those things. If we’re all one race, the distinction cannot be one made as a result of the race of oneself or another. The point here, is not that folks are not doing things that others have chosen to deem or term racism, but that in allowing the term to be used, the folks doing wrong are strengthened. If the argument is (rightly) made, that race among humans does not exist, that’s one less thing for folks to hide behind. I’m by no means saying this will “cure” anything, to be clear, I’m convinced it won’t. What it will do though, is make some of the folks willing to support others using ideas like “purity of race,” at least pause for a moment, and consider their folly. They may not come to good or correct conclusions, but I flatly refuse to support their errant positions.

On this basis alone, I would expect folks to accept that at least I cannot support those speaking about folks attempting to deal with Islam as “racists” because they wish to apply “general fixes” in an attempt to deal with problems that—where they are not exclusive to Islam—run rampant in the belief set. If that’s not enough for you though, by all means, read on!

In my mind, it’s bad enough that either people group themselves together in such a way as to separate them from the rest of humanity on arbitrary distinctions, and even worse when others “do it to them.” And if that isn’t bad enough, they folks doing things of this sort, then mislabel folks.

As an example of this, when people refer to intolerance towards Muslims as “racial” anything, it shows their confusion about whom they speak. For just a second, let’s say I can agree with the idea of race where humanity is concerned (remember, this is an exercise, not reality). That would make it so Chinese or Germans would be people of different races, right?

But having come to that conclusion, now ask yourself the question(s), “Are there German and Chinese Muslims?” In case you’re wondering, the answer is, “Assuredly so!”

Here’s another consideration. Can somebody say, “I’m not of Hungarian extraction.” When it’s known they are? I would argue that such a statement was untrue.

On the other hand, can a person who is Muslim even by birth choose to “convert” to another belief set? Well, if you ask many Muslims, the answer is, “No.” Asking other people would result in a resounding, “Yes!”

The point here is simple, Islam is not a race (even if we could talk about races amongst humanity). As such, speaking about race when we speak about Islam is incorrect.

If this is yet not plain enough for you, let me make one more point.  When most folks think about Muslims, what countries come to mind? I would bet the majority of folks think about Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran or some other Middle Eastern country.

Funny thing is, the largest Muslim population in any country in the World is found in Indonesia (12.7% of the World’s Muslims)—and they’re followed by, Pakistan (11%), India (10.9%) and Bangladesh (9.2%) if Google is to be believed. Interestingly then, if I could support the idea or racism among humans, this would be a prime example. Because I can’t, it’s not. I think most people would agree that it is just confusion on many folks’ part.

This brings me to a final thought. I have recently heard folks comparing the suggestions of U.S. political figures on how to handle Islam’s issues, with Hitler’s “handling” of the Jews in and around World War II. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t find very many Jews familiar with what happened in Nazi Germany that would agree with such an idea.

To begin with, the Jews were not prone to make trouble or cause harm to their fellows who were not Jewish. Additionally, I’m pretty sure almost nobody would recommend “rounding up” Islamic folks and putting them in camps—Inside or outside the U.S.

Honestly though, one of the intents of the Founders of the U.S., was to make it so no one person possessed enough power to do such a thing. I know that many Japanese will argue that it happened anyway at places like Manzanar, and I’d be the last to disagree. That’s why we must remain ever vigilant. That does not mean we cannot expect folks to take any preemptive action when some group demonstrates a propensity toward a given improper perspective (or worse, set of actions). What it does mean, is that we must be careful just how much we do.

Funny thing is, I don’t even like the person making the suggestions all that well, but I like even less, people trying to bully him and others out of their positions when they’re not intending to be unreasonable in what they do.

Just my two cents.

Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

YouTube Obama Mocking God and the Bible Speech on Religion – YouTube

What’s wrong with this video?

Well, there are multiple things, let’s see if we can come up with some of them:

  1. Mr Obama appears to be unfamiliar with his Bible. He is—by way of example—unfamiliar with the idea of Old Testament versus New Testament. Funny that the majority of his quotes are Old Testament, and that they’re largely used to try to show Christians in a light that does not apply to them.
  2. Because of the above, Mr Obama demonstrates one of his worst character traits, namely, that he is “big headed.” Put another way, Mr Obama (as my Australian friends used to be prone to put it) “thinks himself.”
  3. Mr Obama is confuse as to what constitutes Christianity. Neither Mr Sharpton, nor Mr Billy Graham, for example, are the “be-all-end-all” of Christianity. Who does fit that descriptive? That would be Jesus Christ.

This all being said, I will agree with Mr Obama on one thing. America is not now and has never been a “Christian Nation”

One more thought, the idea of making a system of laws that “works for everybody” and/or “excludes nobody” is a rubbish idea. There are folks out there who think killing others for no other or greater reason than that they want to (or that the voices in their heads tell them to), are we going to make and live by a set of laws that is inclusive of those folks? I hope not. Given that America isn’t (and never was) a Christian nation, it should then be easy to understand that the existing policies and laws were built on some other “base.” That base would be that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.

This is what America was founded upon, and—as far as I can see—what today should be the basis for its laws and rules.

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Why I (Generally) Quit Commenting on Facebook Posts

I was reminded again today, why I generally quit commenting on Facebook posts.

A Facebook “friend” posted something about which I felt I had something to say that would be of benefit to the original post.

I proceeded to comment on that post, with the idea that discourse could occur, and that—in the worst case—I might have to deal with some unpleasant comments made by other posters and might even change somebody’s mind in the process.

Instead, I found myself in a “conversation” with someone who:

  1. Could not begin to step out of his or her little world for long enough to examine and understand what I had said OR, that I had failed to say what I intended in such a way as to help him or her understand my position and
  2. Had no idea my circumstances, and therefor chose to interpret my unwillingness to continue to reply to comments as a personal challenge and a failure on my part due to inability to answer.

I did my best to bow out gracefully, but in the end, had to either delete my comments, or leave the situation looking like the other person had somehow “won” some argument he or she was trying to make. My interest was neither in “winning” anything nor in any way competing with the individual in question.

My responses were intended to clarify my position, but the responses returned to me, indicated that the person with whom I was “conversing” either willfully or unknowingly was unable to understand how what I was saying, answered his or her replies (in case you hadn’t figured it out, I’m using “him” and “her” to keep from divulging the sex of the individual in question).

In the end, I tried to bow out as gracefully as possible, deleting my posts and telling the person I was not able to continue participating in the “conversation.”

At this point, I was accused of not having any way to respond (when in my view, I had done so in prior replies) and told that I was a terrible human being, and denying them their opinion by deleting my comments.

The latter appears to have been a result of the fact that they were replying to what I had said. It appears that, when you delete a comment or reply to a comment, Facebook deletes all subsequent comments and replies.

In any case, this is a good example of one of the reasons I have ceased commenting to posts (or replying to comments, often) on Facebook.