Friday, October 30, 2009

Is it Time to Clean House?

Today, the Daily Beast and other news sites are telling of a classified report that was leaked onto a public server. The report, "Committee on Standards Weekly Summary Report" details that over 30 House members are being investigated for serious crimes, including illegal defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling.

On the list are Charley Rangel, Maxine Waters, and many others in both parties.

Many on the list are the same ones designing the stimulus package, health care package, and other bills going through right now.

The House of Representatives are to represent their constituents, the people who actually vote for them. It seems that many Congressmen and women are confused and are now representing the lobbies and organizations who open up their purse strings. Isn't it time we demanded honesty in our officials? Shouldn't we demand good character from the people representing us?

Whether we vote Democrat, Republican, or Independent, shouldn't we expect high standards from the people who lead our nation? It doesn't matter how good a person looks on television, or if we agree with their political platform, a crook is a crook, and we need to replace that person. Character matters if we want to have real reform and change in our country.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are you a Gnostic Christian?

I read a variety of blogs, including several on ancient Judaism and Christianity. One of my favorites is from April De Condick, a professor at Rice University and scholar on Gnosticism.

She has just blogged, asking if you are a Gnostic, and giving a test on it. Points are on the left side of each statement. You just add up the points (0-15) on the things you agree with, and that gives you your status. I scored a 10, reform Gnostic, which makes sense given Mormonism is not in the traditional Christian realm.

Try your hand at it:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top of the octogenarian pile

Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been given top honors as Slate magazine's most influential person over 80 years of age. At 82, he's a youngster compared to several others on the list. However, he is the only one to preside directly over millions of people. In the last year or so, his influence has affected people in many places. He was involved in the controversial Prop 8 vote in California, encouraging Mormons in the state to stand for traditional family values.

Slate magazine article

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Divide and Conquer

In the news lately is a discussion of how the Obama administration is on the attack with certain groups, such as Fox News, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the insurance industry. Their modus operandi is to divide and conquer: separate the the "bad guys" from the "good guys" in a group, and constantly disparage them.

To the White House press, they've insisted that Fox News does not report on real news, and that real media would only report what was given them by the White House. Instead of dealing directly with the Chamber of Commerce, they deal with individual companies. They separate insurance companies out from the rest of the health industry.

This attempt to divide and conquer has a long historical basis. If you can divide your enemies, they cannot long stand against you.

The Jacobins used this strategy during the French Revolution. Initially, they began their attacks on the royalists, those loyal to the king. They enlisted the help of the media of the day, the newspapers, and the mobs. Turning the mobs first against the "far right" royalists, allowed them to have moderates join them in their overthrow of the Bastille and the execution of the royal family.

Once the royalists were either dead or in exile, the Jacobins continued in their grab for absolute power. They now focused on the moderates. Moderates fled in droves. The French hero of the American Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette, fled to America and lived there several years until the dust settled.

The Jacobin revolution continued, gaining steam as the mobs went from one extreme to a new extreme. Instead of "liberty, equality, fraternity" the French Revolution turned into a slaughter. Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities clearly showed the differences between London and Paris: civilized versus savage, law versus chaos, rule of law versus mob rule. Innocent people were guillotined in Paris, drowned by the shipload off the coast, and staked down en masse in the country side to be killed by cannon. Kangaroo courts replaced courts of law. Mobocracy determined who was the "bad guy" from day to day, with the rules continually changing.

The only thing that could stop the run away train was to impose a dictatorship. Napoleon Bonaparte was able to establish order where the Jacobin radicalism could only create chaos. Real freedom would have to wait for another day, decades later.

The American Revolution was different. With the creation of the Constitution, rule of law was quickly established. Though imperfect, it allowed a framework within which individuals could attempt to succeed in their personal endeavors. Allowing for amendments, means allowing for change as needed, but it would be careful and deliberate change. When followed as written, it did not allow room for mob rule or extremists to gain control. This is why health care has taken time to work: Congress is made up of a variety of individuals who are to represent their constituent base. Radical change does not happen often in this realm, enabling a stable foundation people can rely on and expect.

However, if certain radical political groups on the right or left were able to "divide and conquer" effectively; gaining power over the press, over business, and over the minds of the people, we could easily see ourselves devolve into the Jacobin madness that destroyed any hope of a successful French Revolution. Such madness occurred in some regions during the collapse of the Soviet Union, allowing radicalism to prosper for a time, only to collapse and be replaced by a strong dictatorship, once again.

While President Obama may not be a radical, there are plenty of radicals on the left of him, who would love to gain absolute power of the process. Nancy Pelosi is just one of many who would love to impose their form of radicalism on the nation. Let's ensure we all stay well informed on the issues, knowing all sides of the debate. And let's ensure no one is out to demonize or destroy our nation piece by piece, as the Jacobins did during the French Revolution.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Clement of Alexandria and the Secret Book of Mark

Ancient Letter, Modern Mystery: The “Secret Mark” Translation - Biblical Archaeology Review

The above link at Biblical Archaeological Review contains a letter, supposedly from Clement, discussing the various Secret Books of Mark that came up in his day. Clement was a disciple of Peter. He explains that Peter and Mark (also Peter's disciple) wrote copious notes on the gospel. Mark took these down to Alexandria, where he wrote a secret gospel. Gnostic groups, including the Carpocratians, obtained a copy and adulterated it to fit their own beliefs.

Still, Clement states certain things that are true about the original Secret Book of Mark:
1. There were secrets taught by Jesus to the initiated, things which were "not to be uttered."
2. Only a few were allowed to know the secrets, while most Christians were to only know the basics given in Mark's regular gospel.
3. The secret truths led the initiate "into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils."

He mentions one story from the Secret Book of Mark, quoting from it, concerning a young rich man who Jesus raised from the dead. Then Jesus taught him the secret things, "And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God." The Carpocratians and others used this to claim Jesus was having late night romps, but Clement and Mark knew that the secret initiations required the teachings to be done like this. LDS will note how this sounds like their temple initiatory work.

Once again, Joseph Smith "guessed" right on several things:
1. Some important teachings of Jesus and his disciples are not to be found in the Bible.
2. These important teachings included secrets that were to be kept from the world, and even from the regular members of the Christian Church.
3. These ancient teachings (veils, linen cloth, secrets that are unutterable) make sense in a modern LDS temple context.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama - Nobel Prize Winner

Yeah, yeah, I know it's been forever since I've blogged here. But others' blogs are so much better than this one.

However, I wanted to note Pres Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize today.

Many are wondering what he could have done to deserve it. I think I have the answer:

1. It is a consolation prize from the people of Scandinavia for giving the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

2. It is Scandinavia's way of saying thanks for not bombing them after humiliating him in front of the world.

Anyway, either/or works pretty well for me. How about you?