Month: June 2016

Church people

Don’t want no church people ’round here. Now that I’ve got your attention, allow me to explain. I don’t want to overstate this, so let me put it this way: Church people are generally the worst people in the world. Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Scientologist, or the religion whose name I dare not speak, just pick your poison. Look for the people that are overly involved in organized religion and you will find some of the worst scum of the earth in very high places. Marx theorized and Lenin agreed that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” I’m not one to quote communists much, but in this case they may have had a point. I would only add “organized” to the beginning of the quote. Too many higher ups in churches remind me of drug dealers by taking money for the things they want from people who desperately need something; in this case the “high” is replaced by salvation.

I was reminded of how awful some church people were the other day by a customer, a church person, who acted in a most uncharitable nature when they didn’t get what they wanted. They were generally small, petty, and rude. When it happened I had a flashback of sorts to all the other church people I’ve dealt with over the years. I’m no bible scholar myself, but I was quick to think of the parable of the good Samaritan. The priest and Levite (both church people, right?) passed by the downtrodden man on the road, and the non-church person, the Samaritan, helped the injured man by giving of his time and treasure to save his life. He was most charitable, and his charity would save him according to the Big JC. That uncharitable person that I had the misfortune of doing business with recently would do well to read the story and take it to heart. Whether it’s Tom Cruise going around destroying people for not paying enough to his church, or the lowliest deacon at the 14th Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas trying to extort money from his congregants, the habit of people abusing the power of the pulpit to take advantage of well meaning people is getting old. What’s also way past due is a revolution from the people in the pews. My own church has turned into one big, long, never-ending scandal throughout the course of my life; shame on us all for not storming the Vatican with pitchforks years ago to throw the bums out and demand better. When you allow evil to fester, it only comes back stronger the next time. By not lancing the infected Curia, and allowing the criminals to continue to elect their leader time after time, we have allowed dysfunction to spread through all levels of the organization. I can hear the howling already: “It’s just a small percentage. You can’t condemn the whole group for the actions of a few.” Truth is… you can. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Too many good men have been doing nothing for too long; covering their own rear ends and allowing evil men to rampage about. As long as the shrapnel doesn’t hit them, they don’t seem to care.

Don’t think me overly pious. I’m a sinner praying for salvation along side of the rest of humanity. I’m just a man who has done a good bit of business with priests and preachers. And I have found most of them to be more like the priest or Levite in the parable above. Most of the ones I’ve known have gotten into the preaching business because it’s good business. Flexible hours, cheap housing, and most all the churches are air conditioned these days. Not many hard working, get ahead types go into the business. It’s more the, “Pay my bills for me and I’ll make you feel guilty about not giving enough of your income away” crowd. I’m not condemning you if you go to church. God Bless You! All I’m saying is that what you do on Sunday probably matters less than what you do the other six days of the week. In my life I’ve also done business with a number of Samaritans who rarely see the inside of a church building; some truly fine people. I’ve never worn one of those amulets that says, “I’m a Catholic, please call a priest.” Instead I am thinking of having one made up special: “I am a person; call a Samaritan.” If it’s a Samaritan priest… so much the better. End of sermon.

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Mandela effect

NINE YEARS! This week Farmer’s House celebrated its 9th anniversary. That means I’ve been a rogue businessman for longer than Jimmy Carter and Bush 41 were president. Combined! For nearly a decade we’ve been succeeding in trudging the lonelier path… Or have we???
You may not have heard of it yet, but the latest rage in conspiracy theory is the “Mandela Effect.” This is a theory postulated by Fiona Broome, a self-proclaimed “paranormal consultant” who apparently coined the phrase “Mandela Effect” at a dinner party when several people shared a false memory about the African leader Nelson Mandela. It seemed everyone in the room remembered him dying in prison in the 80’s when in fact he only died a couple of years ago after being freed from prison and going on to become president of South Africa and a poster boy for liberals around the world. Despite the historical record, these folks were emphatic that their memory was correct and history had somehow been changed; a glitch in the Matrix perhaps. Subscribers to this theory have gone on to find other evidence of history being re-written with facts like: 1. The witch in Snow White says, “Magic mirror on the wall” instead of “Mirror mirror on the wall.” 2. Forrest Gump says, “Life was like a box of chocolates” instead of “Life is like a box of chocolates.”  3. In Field of Dreams, the voice in the cornfield says, “If you build it, he will come” instead of “they will come.” 4. The Bernstain Bears is spelled differently than it used to be. 5. Interview with the Vampire apparently used to be Interview with a Vampire. 6. Brad Cecil has a successful business in Owensboro, KY when everyone knows he was told he’d be broke and out of a job six months after starting in 2007. And on, and on, and on. I’m not sure why the bulk of the evidence for this theory relies on single words being changed in twenty to thirty year old movies,   but apparently when demonic forces want to change history sending us into a parallel universe, they start with subtle changes to movies and go from there. My guess is that next week Eric Stoltz will be the one who actually starred on Family Ties, and Justine Bateman will have been on Friends instead of Courtney Cox. The Bateman swap will be the harbinger of death, so watch for that one.
I just discovered the Mandela Effect a couple of weeks ago, and I must admit I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, parallel universes, and generally all things science fiction. Once I started looking into it, I was reminded of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation from my youth where the Enterprise from one time period got caught in a time warp, sending it forward in time only to meet up with a later Enterprise. When that happened, history changed, and only Whoopi Goldberg’s intuition told them that something was off kilter. This is the same thing. People’s intuition and gut are telling them that their memories are right, and history is wrong. Of course Whoopi was able to get it all worked out on the TV show. The cool thing about The Mandela Effect is that it can’t be disproved. Like so many philosophical points, it is in the eye of the beholder. Even though I clearly know the Field of Dreams thing is garbage, I still can’t quit thinking about the whole thing just as a fun diversion. I’m a movie buff. Kevin Costner heard the voice and thought it was about Shoeless Joe (the “he” later turned out to be his father). The other ones, I don’t know. I never paid attention to Snow White, and with Tom Hanks’ bad accent, he could’ve said was instead of is. I’ve seen that movie a hundred times. I’m just not sure. And the “not sure” is the fun part.
Personally, I don’t put much stock into us being in a parallel universe at this moment; separated from base reality. I will however continue to explore all sorts of theories in my quest for truth. It’s okay to dream. As a dead guy once said in a movie, “Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.” Or is it, “Having dreams can make life tolerable…” Hmm.

Herd Management

As usual, I find myself shaking my head at the political argument of the day. Over the last few weeks there’s been a great deal of talk about public bathrooms. The left argues that everyone should be able to relieve themselves wherever they like. The right argues that boys should be boys and girls should be girls. Those of us in the middle scratch our heads and say, “Are we really having this conversation?” The simplest solution for modern America would be more privately designed public rest rooms, but then they wouldn’t get to keep arguing. The issue has nothing to do with bathrooms, and everything to do with the death of common sense. The two camps chase themselves around in circles, and everyone looks crazier by the day. Like Roger Miller queried, “Where have all the average people gone?”

As I have watched this argument drag on, I have been thinking about a video I watched several weeks ago from an internet philosopher talking about how the elites treat us like cattle. While I think the guy (who has tons of followers, btw) is a little kooky, I did appreciate what he was trying to say. I understand cattle. Cattle help me understand people. They mourn their dead. They sometimes reject their offspring. They push to the front of the line to belly up to the trough. The crazy ones have a strange look in their eyes, and carry themselves differently than the others. Lastly, most of them aren’t terribly bright. Yeah, cattle and people are a lot alike. And cows are not free individuals. While everybody wants to jump up and shout about their American pride, they would do well to think about all the freedom they’ve lost instead of all the freedom they have. Over the last 100 years, Washington has been carefully constructing fences. They treat their herd more like free range cattle than a closely managed small herd though. Small herds have pastures, and stables, and get worked regularly by their owners. Free range cattle are a different animal. Free range cattle generally go where they want. They do have a lot of freedom as the name implies, but they are still owned by their masters. Masters tend to remind them from time to time, most commonly right before that trip to the slaughterhouse.

When I was in college, a friend asked me to ride home with him to help on a little roundup. His dad had some cattle he wanted hauled off, and he knew I was a bit of a cowboy. Load ‘em up. Haul ‘em off. Easy peasy. What he didn’t tell me was that they’d been running free over a pretty big range for quite some time. Set a dozen cows free on a two hundred acre pasture of woods, hills, lakes and streams, and they are not going to respond well to being forced into a small corral and loaded for the slaughterhouse. We were less cowboys and more rodeo clowns that day. I honestly don’t remember if we got them on the trailer or not. What I do remember is jumping gates and praying for my life when they turned on us, mouths foaming, in the corral. They were not going peacefully; that was pretty clear. Cows are generally pretty docile creatures. Put them on their own for a while, and let them do whatever they like; that’s a different story. I escaped without injury and was paid for my risk to life and limb, but the day stands out in my mind as a stark reminder of how easily tame animals become wild when left to their own devices.

Since the counter culture movement started in the 1960’s, our society has been looking like an open range with a bunch of wild cows. No longer constrained by the institutions of old, people have been running this way and that, doing whatever they “feel.” As a result, our neighbors are using their hurt feelings to make decisions more than their brain. Pop culture has told them for years that their feelings are the most important thing, so people generally do what feels good. The problem with that is, most good decisions hurt in the short term. Pain doesn’t feel good, so the cattle keep roaming on their free, but shrinking, range. The cattle barons likely don’t mind us arguing over silly things like bathroom stalls. Every day wasted arguing about something crazy is another day they can work on tightening the fences and strengthening the gates; counting the money and enjoying the steak.

Butcher Knife Cow Head Shield