Sunday, January 30, 2011


To label something “Socialism” has become a knee-jerk reaction ultra-conservatives like to use as a convenient put down to any progressive idea or program. Bill Maher triggered some new thoughts on the subject with his “New Rule” comment this weekend:

New Rule: With the Super Bowl only a week away, Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism. That's right, for all the F-15 flyovers and flag waving, football is our most successful sport because the NFL takes money from the rich teams and gives it to the poor teams....Green Bay, Wisconsin has a population of 100,000. Yet this sleepy little town...has just as much of a chance of making it to the Super Bowl as the New York Jets...It's no surprise that some 100 million Americans will watch the Super Bowl next week....The World Series is like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You have to be a rich bitch just to play. The Super Bowl is like Tila Tequila. Anyone can get in...they literally share the wealth, through salary caps and revenue sharing - TV is their biggest source of revenue, and they put all of it in a big commie pot and split it 32 ways. Because they don't want anyone to fall too far behind. That's why the team that wins the Super Bowl picks last in the next draft. Or what the Republicans would call 'punishing success.'"

Total socialism has never been a good idea. Neither is demonizing, under the pejorative label of “socialism,” everything that seeks to level the playing field and see that a society doesn't become a class regimented arena in which a privileged few sit at the lavish pinnacle and grind the masses into a poverty ridden mass of the hopeless and downtrodden in never ending debt to company stores, etc.

The only legitimate way to do things is the conservative way, according to most Republicans. By conservative, they mean the “old way,” how America was before all this “New Deal” crap came on the scene.

If we really want to be totally conservative, let's go back to a monarchy, what we had before the American Revolution. Nothing is more “conservative” than that. In fact, that's what most Christians look forward to as they breathlessly await Jesus' return as a conquering “king.”

Whether we like to admit it or not, that's exactly where we have been headed ever since elitist-minded Ronald Reagan ascended to the White House and began to push for what George H. W. Bush at first called “voodoo economics.”

We progressed at leaps and bounds all through the fifties, sixties and seventies. We became the economic powerhouse of the world.

The new “conservative” tack brought us the savings and loan crisis under Reagan, but that didn't wake people up to where we were headed.

Steadily, step by step, regulations were not just modified and improved to bring more fairness and strengthen the economy; they were wiped out. The legalized criminals on Wall Street and in the banking system were given free reign to economically rape the nation and as much of the rest of the world as they could. If anyone objected, they were demonized as “socialists.” You heard catch phrases such as “greed is good.”

I recently watched the movie, “Wall Street – Money never sleeps.” It was a real eye opener. I recommend it.

Taxes weren't just cut back to keep the rates from being confiscatory. For the short time that they were cut back to more moderate but still responsible levels, the economy boomed. They were then rolled back so far that we had to borrow trillions against the future just to keep from defaulting on fiscal responsibilities and fund our international military ventures.

Any person who funded their household or business in such a manner would be considered an irresponsible idiot headed for bankruptcy and foreclosure!

The Chinese, under Mao, tried to build a totally socialist economy. It didn't work out too well. They have been steadily learning the lesson and brought in more and more capitalist principles, with the result that they are rapidly advancing to the position of a dominant super power. They haven't, at least not yet, swung to the opposite extreme like the US has.

The moderate approach is almost always the best course to take. The course we are taking now is far from moderate and is steadily eroding all the progress our nation made in the twentieth century. We are back to a mindset which is rapidly returning us to the days of the “robber barons.”

One of my great, great uncles was in that elite group at the turn of the century. He had invented the first Automatic paper folding machine, and, already wealthy and successful in the newspaper industry, founded the Dexter Printing Machine Company. He became a multi-millionaire, and, as in the case of many rich Americans of the time, hobnobbed with the rich and famous of the world and one of his daughters married into Spanish royalty. The last I saw of that company name was on a massive web printing machine at Ambassador College which sported the conglomerate name, Dexter Goss Miehle.

I remember how Herbert Armstrong hated labor unions and looked down on anyone who was not part of the exalted upper crust in the college and church (or anywhere else, really). He was always a total elitist, although he put on a front that hid it from most people in his early days. Nothing pleased him more than to hobnob with the rich and powerful, a total slap in the face to the common church membership and to the principles put forth in the epistle of James.

We have a lot of Herbert Armstrongs sitting in exalted seats in Washington today. They will not rest until they have succeeded in wiping out all the social gains so hard fought for and won in the last century.

Socialism in moderation makes sense and never hurt anyone. It leads to fairness and progress. In fact, it's a very Christian way of thinking and acting. Read your Bible again.

Try Acts 4 and 5 for a starter. Then, the epistle of James.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reason Doesn't Come Easily

Most people want to be reasonable and think that they are. The problem is that everyone is subjected to familial and societal norms and pressures that warp their reasoning powers.

A baby comes into this world as a blank slate. That slate doesn't stay blank for very long.

Most children accept whatever their mothers and fathers and other older members of their family and social group tell them with no question.

Occasionally, a child will challenge or “push” what they are told, but for the most part they won't.

I have a cousin who lived with her grandparents on their North Dakota farm for several years while her divorced mother tried to get things together and have the wherewithal to care for her herself. She was a very bright and somewhat courageous and daring little girl.

One day, her grandmother warned her about venturing out to the barn by herself, for her protection, of course. To set up the required amount of fear and trepidation about that supposedly dangerous environment, she told her the “boogey man” might get her. Just one of those “little white lies” people fall back on.

Grandma relaxed, thinking she had accomplished her goal. Soon after, she glanced out the window and saw my little cousin marching straight to the barn. She called her back and asked her what she was doing. She replied, “I was looking for the boogey man.”

She has never lost that questioning and daring personality trait. She and my wife recognize each other as kindred spirits.

Sometimes, discovering the truth about things like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy will set off a bit of skepticism in some young minds, but it usually doesn't run too deep. The pressures and norms of a set society tend to take over and the cultural tapes become deeply buried in our subconsciousness. Anything contrary just seems to cascade off like the proverbial water off a ducks back.

Not always, though. Phyllis, my soul mate wife, was another exception. As a child, she regularly attended Sunday school and visited the religious services of several denominations. Mainly, she enjoyed the social atmosphere and the pleasant activities.

When she was invited to a taffy pull by one of her “holy roller” friends, she asked her mother if she could go, and mama said, “sure.” What could be more harmless than a taffy pull?

Well, the minister happened to take this event as an excellent opportunity to preach a hell and damnation sermon to the little captives at that party, assuring them that Jesus was coming back “tomorrow” and anyone who wasn't saved was bound straight to hell.

The other attendees had heard this type of bombast before and patiently waited until it was over and went after the real fun.

Poor Phyllis was terrified!

She knew her rough and tough old career police officer father didn't go to church and she was sure he would be damned to hell for eternity.


Her mother had a terrible time trying to reassure her that nothing like that was going to happen. She spent the whole day and night in horrible trepidation. Her father was livid when he heard about it and demanded to know why her mother had permitted her to go to such an event put on by such idiots.

The day finally passed. Jesus was nowhere to be found. Nobody went to hell. Phyllis finally calmed down.

It was not long after when she was walking home on a cold Montana night, looked up into that “big sky” at all those brilliant stars and said to herself, “There's no one up there!”

She's still of that opinion.

There's a cartoon on the Painful Truth blog that shows very graphically how science and faith differ in their approach to reasoning. The scientist looks up from his scientific instruments and says, “Here are the facts, what conclusions can we draw from them?” The faith strapped creationist holds up a Bible and states, “Here are the conclusions, what facts can we find to support it?”

That's how we used to think in the old WCG, and a great many have never been able to bring themselves to abandon it.

It's not easy getting one's warped thinking straightened out. I'm still at the task and I still find the old “tapes” wanting to play again.

The end is worth the struggle.

All I can advise is, Keep at it.

Don't be afraid to think.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why This Blog?

Who am I and why this blog?

I am a survivor of cultism, now in my seventies, who wants to share his accumulated experiences and the lessons he has learned with whomever he can.

I opted out of the cultic organization (The Worldwide Church of God) that had monopolized my life and thinking for over 20 years in 1974-75.

In the intervening years, I have progressed in fits and spurts to the relative stability of being an agnostic atheist who believes in none of the gods and religions currently extant in the world.

I pray to no god.

I bow to no priesthood.

I think for myself.

In the past year or so, I have been a regular contributor to The Painful Truth blog at:, and have twice been its guest editor. There is a dedicated section of my articles on this site:, which includes my autobiographical book, Believing the Unbelievable -- Into and Out of Fanaticism.

I first tried to publish and market this book on my own and spent several hundred dollars on the project only to come up against the barrier facing all authors. There are just too many books out there. There is one absolutely true statement in the Bible; “...of making many books there is no end” Eccles. 12:12. After Gutenberg, that became even more of a truism. And, getting enough promotion going to be successful is virtually impossible. So, I put it online and forgot about being a successful author in the commercial market.

Many people no longer buy books. They cost a lot. They take up a lot of space, and most of them sit on a shelf or coffee table and are never really read. Most information one wants can now be found by a simple web search – free. On a whim, I recently bought a book on Alexander Hamilton at a yard sale. It looks like it was never read, and, you guessed it, I haven't read it either. I have lots of partially read books in my library.

The internet has been a boon to those with a message. Finally, an affordable vehicle with worldwide potential open to anyone who has the ability to put their thoughts in writing.

One has to develop a lot of courage and go through much emotional upheaval to come to the place in which I now stand. I'm basically right back where I started as a skeptical teenager, before the siren song of Herbert Armstrong's hypnotic voice and writings overwhelmed my youthful naivete and turned me into a goose stepping fanatic akin to the Hitler youth of the previous generation.

I count myself a free thinker in the mold of Thomas Paine. Paine is revered as one of our great thinkers and a founding father. Many of those who extol him have never read his book, The Age of Reason. If they had, they would have serious questions about the current push to paint the United States of America as a Christian nation. You can find his book here:

Paine was an outright avowed atheist!

Others, like Benjamin Franklin (who himself stated the fact), Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, were more in tune with Deism, the belief that a god started it all and then took a hands off policy. Prior to Darwin, that was a logical conclusion to many educated people.

Thomas Paine is no longer around to counter the lies of the religious right, so I've decided to be one of those who stand in for him.

Hence, the title of this blog.