Part 2 of How Not to Take Care of the Earth, and the Ultimate Fate of Those Who Pillage the Planet (75th Anniversary Commemorative of the Atomic Attack on Japan)

Lessons From the Ongoing Fukushima, Japan Disaster On How Not To Take Care of the Earth

by Minister Paul J. Bern

God_is_enough For this week’s commentary I have decided to post a follow-up to last week’s message about the 75th anniversary of the dual atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. I don’t usually do this, but since this an anti-war ministry, and since the response to last week’s anti-war message was nearly 100% positive, I have composed this supplemental message as a follow-up. I would suggest that the reader go back and read the first posting (it’s about a 5-minute read) in the link above before continuing. Thanks to all of you, I love my readers so much! But now, let me move on to this week’s topic – what happens to the earth’s environment when nuclear power is used as an energy source?

 

The worst nuclear disaster to strike Japan since the 2nd atomic bomb fell over Nagasaki in 1945 occurred in the spring of 2011 at the Fukushima, Japan nuclear power plant, following the epic earthquake and tsunami centered in northeast Japan. Earlier this week the New York Times reported the disturbing news that a wide area around the Fukushima plant “could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels. The formal announcement, expected from the government in coming days, would be the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months.” Just two weeks ago, it was reported that radiation readings at the site had reached their highest points to date. The wide release of radiation, and fear of same, has forced the Japanese and others all over the world to reflect on what happened to the country in 1945, and the continuing threat of nuclear weapons and energy today.

 

 

In its main story marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings back in August 2011, the Times highlighted the new activism of survivors of the bombing (the “hibakusha”) this year; campaigning against nuclear power, which has provided most of their country’s energy needs. No one in the world can relate to the fears of a wide populace terrified that they (and perhaps the unborn) may be tainted forever by exposure to airborne radiation. One may ask how it is possible that Japan, after its experience with the atomic bombings, could allow itself to draw so heavily on the same nuclear technology for the manufacture of about a third of its energy. There was resistance, much of it from Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. But there was also a pattern of denial, cover-up and cozy bureaucratic collusion between industry and government, the last especially notorious in Japan but by no means limited to that country.

 

 

Sumiteru Taniguchi, now 82 and currently director of the Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors Council, recently commented, “when the conversation turns to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, it is as if the floodgates open,” Taniguchi said. “Nuclear power and mankind cannot coexist. We survivors of the atomic bomb have said this all along. And yet, the use of nuclear power was camouflaged as ‘peaceful’ and continued to progress. You never know when there’s going to be a natural disaster. You can never say that there will never be a nuclear accident.” Taniguchi is perhaps the main iconic symbol of the “hibakusha” today, thanks to footage of him taken after the bombing, showing him, months after the attack, still on a floor, spread-eagled, his entire back an open wound, flaming red. It was part of footage shot by a US film crew, and suppressed for decades.

 

 

In April, 2011, five survivors’ organizations, including Taniguchi’s Nagasaki group, submitted a statement to the Japanese government declaring the collapse of the “safety myth” around nuclear power. This included a demand for change in the government’s energy policy to prevent creating any more “hibakusha”. Their statement further demanded that it distribute health record booklets — similar to the ones that are distributed to atomic bomb victims and can be used as proof of radiation exposure — to nuclear power plant workers and residents living close to them, and also provide periodic health examinations to those populations. It is a well-hidden fact (thanks to the lame stream media) that numerous A-bomb survivors over the decades sought help from the government after falling ill or suffering cancer and other diseases, allegedly from radiation exposure, but by many accounts had been abandoned. Will the people who are suffering from invisible dangers in Fukushima be subjected to the same treatment? If that’s the way things turn out in Japan, the Japanese people will surely rise up and demand government intervention – or do the job themselves.

 

 

As I write this, Japan and TEPCO, the Japanese utility company that has been in charge of this ever-widening disaster, are making futile attempts to stop the gushing leakage of some 400 tons of radioactive seawater that is coming from the three melted-down reactors each day. That’s right, everyone, 400 tons a day of radioactive sea water is flowing unabated into the northwest portion of the Pacific ocean. The entire northern Pacific ocean is now contaminated by this radioactive seawater. It will remain this way for a very long time afterward – decades at the very least.

Contrast this to God’s original instructions that he gave to us at the creation of the earth: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’.” (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-28)

 

 

The book of Revelation states quite clearly what will ultimately happen to those who pollute the earth, such as what happened at Chernobyl, Russia in the 1980’s and in 2011 at Fukushima, Japan. “And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth(Revelation chapter 11, verses 16-18)

 

 

When it comes to nuclear issues — from atomic weapons to nuclear power — no two nations could be more irrevocably intertwined than Japan and the US. After the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite dissenting voices of some of its own citizens, America drew mostly wrong conclusions as it plunged into nuclear expansion. There was a relentless public relations campaign — unleashed by the Truman administration almost within hours of the Hiroshima bombing — that led to the erroneous conclusion that blinded the Americans (and later the Japanese) to the insidious, long-term damage of radiation. Prominent journalists and media outlets of the time embraced, with enthusiasm, the so-called “Dawn of the Atomic Age” and America fell into a kind of nuclear entrapment that is with us to this day.

 

 

America needs to repent, but the government would never do this voluntarily. And so, if we the American people – those of us who are sick and tired of all the wars overseas and the profligate spending by the Pentagon – will have to make this a bottom-up repentance of war and killing. Most importantly, we must also get out in the streets and protest, demanding an end of the US military-industrial complex, so all American citizens can begin turning our planes and aircraft carriers, and especially all the nuclear armaments, into scrap.

The Modern Churches, Particularly In and Around North America, Are a Far Cry From the Early Churches In the 1st Century A.D.

This Is What An Authentic 21st Century Church Is Supposed to Look Like

(1st Corinthians chapter 12, verses 14-31)

social-gospel-vol 3 Paul

Today I will conclude chapter 12 of 1st Corinthians in my ongoing blog about the writings of the apostles (to get a copy, visit this link, guaranteed virus-free). Last week in part 1, you will recall how the apostle Paul was explaining to the 1st century church at Corinth about the many different functions of various church members, and how they are interrelated to one another. He described the gifts of the Spirit as they are applied to the various church members, with no one gift being more important than any other. In the conclusion of chapter 12, the apostle Paul compares the church to the human body as he analogizes the two. So let’s start up where we left off last week, beginning in verse 14.

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts but one body.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 14-20)

Now let’s go back to last week’s study for just a minute. You will recall Paul the apostle naming the “gifts of the Spirit” as being wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues (other languages), and the interpretation of tongues. When taking them in context like I am doing in the above Scripture, it is clear that Paul meant multiple things are happening all at the same time within the true Church – the one that’s not a corporation or a social club. Not everybody can be a pastor, or an elder, or a deacon; not everybody can have gifts of healing and of miraculous powers, nor do all speak in tongues, or interpret, and not all prophesy either. But each part within the church is absolutely indispensable to each other, and each part is an essential part of the whole body of Christ’s church. And, as Paul the apostle wrote, the various parts of the body of Christ are arranged exactly as God wants them to be. That is all part of His good, pleasing and perfect plan for each of us, according to his most excellent will. Let us now continue at verse 21.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’. And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 21-26)

Each part of the true Church of Jesus Christ is interdependent on one another, and all work in unison for the edification of that Church. There is no such thing as a one-man band in authentic Christianity, but instead the church possesses a “team spirit” that is Spiritual in nature. And there is total equality among the membership so that “its parts should have equal concern for each other”. And so we see that, in the spirit of true Christianity, everyone has an equal standing within Christ’s church, and no one is higher or better than anyone else. This is why equal protection under the law is part of the US legal code passed by Congress back in 1965. It is based on the Bible, as Rev. Dr. King correctly pointed out repeatedly during the civil rights era, prior to and in the days leading up to the day of his assassination.

I have one more comment about this passage before I move on. Paul wrote in verse 22 above, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor”. The work of those within the Church who are weaker, presumably meaning those persons of lesser stature either because they are new or because they have spiritual or personal issues they are working out, counts for just as much as a long-time member who has grown strong in his or her relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as a pecking order or a hierarchy in a church filled with true followers of Christ. Authority is distributed laterally among the membership, and Christ is the sole head of the church.

And then there is the part about those who “we think are less honorable, we (should) treat with special honor”. Remember what Jesus said in the four Gospels about, “Those who put themselves first will be last, but the last will be first”, and again when Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted”? Jesus was clearly referring to the rich and the poor, and to those in positions of power and influence, and to those who crave it. And so the parts of the church, the very poorest and most insignificant members of the church, who seem to be the least ‘honorable’, should be treated with special honor.

Social and economic position count for nothing in the true Church, but passion for Christ is everything. If any of us should die tomorrow, we can’t take anything with us. Our cars, clothes, furniture, houses (if you are lucky enough to still own one of those), our jobs and all our friends and loved ones are going to be left behind when we go home to be with the Lord forever. In the end, our relationship with Jesus Christ is the only thing that will remain of what we once were. It is that very relationship that sets apart God’s people from the rest of humanity. And now allow me to wrap up the remainder of today’s study.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 27-31)

Each member of the Body of Christ has their function, and it will invariably be the one thing that they do best within the overall structure of the Church. The best way to find out what your ministry is, or what function you serve for the glory of Jesus, is to first pray about it. Assume nothing, and do nothing on your own that you have not prayed about previously. In other words, don’t do anything without talking to God about it first unless you are absolutely sure that your will and God’s will are synchronous. God will open the right door for you, he will do so at precisely the right time, and He will do it in the right church.

So if you find yourself in a church where there does not seem to be any place where you can be a helping member, or even where you fit in for that matter, this is a sign that you need to look elsewhere for a church you can call home. Keep seeking and let God show you the way. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to where you belong, because if it worked just fine for me, then it will for you too. In the meantime, follow the apostle Paul’s advice and “eagerly desire the greater gifts” of the Spirit. God has the perfect place for you in his Church, and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected is what allows us to have this special relationship with Him. No one place within the church is more important or valuable than any other, nor is any one single person, not even the pastor. No matter what Spiritual gift you may have, it all counts equally as much in the true church of Christ. And if it counts equally within Christ’s church, then all is equal in the sight of God. In next week’s study, we’ll be moving on to chapter 13, ‘the love chapter’.

Is There an American Revolt In the Future? What If I Showed You Where It Is In the Bible?

Could Revolutions Come In Two’s? In That Case, the Nature of One Would Be Political, While the Nature of the Other Would Be Inequality

by Minister Paul J. Bern

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Although I don’t watch much news on television I have, like many of yourselves, become very much aware of the outrage and the indignation of the American people at the state of affairs of the United States of America. We have record unemployment, a flu pandemic, and massive protests in the streets because of police brutality. To top it all off, we have an avalanche of homelessness that gets bigger each day because there are few or no jobs, thanks to the Covid-19 virus. So far this year, the US has seen 41 unarmed men and women killed by the police such as:

  • Breonna Taylor

  • Eurie Stamps

  • George Floyd

  • Michael Brown

  • Trayvon Martin

  • Eric Garner

  • Dontre Hamilton

  • John Crawford III

  • Ezell Ford

  • Donte Parker

  • And most recently, Hakim Littleton

There have been many others too numerous to mention. But, thanks to the injustices against all of the above and scores more besides, it is abundantly clear to “we the people” that war has been declared on us by our own government. When I watch the attack of the unmarked cars with the unmarked police looking like poorly paid wannabe mercenaries, I can’t help but look on with a certain amount of apprehension and anticipation, all at once. It is regarding these very things that the Bible says (don’t forget, I’m a preacher first and foremost) in Psalm 9 and verse 9, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble
”.

I write today about these repeated clashes that have grown into a kind of cultural resistance not seen since the civil rights protests and anti-war demonstrations of the 1950’s, ’60’s and the early ’70’s. This culture of resistance, which has been building up gradually ever since that time, is beginning to have a noticeable effect as it continues to mushroom. Nothing dramatic or anything like that, just slowly but steadily. There are cracks in the pillars of power, and they’re starting to get a little bigger. It’s up to us to shine the light on the lies and the spins, since the main stream press is being paid very well for not exposing the corruption. The cracks in the pillars of power are what supports the ‘black ops’ and shadow government that has been operating smoothly behind the scenes ever since they killed President John Kennedy to seize power back in 1963. Their all still there, from Kennedy’s assassins on down to the Pentagon, State Dept. and the rest of the military-industrial complex. It is up to us – ‘we the people’ – to uncover the systemic corruption that has been steadily stealing America’s future. I currently feel cautiously optimistic because I have seen this anti-corruption movement continue to build momentum over the years up until today.

Here in Atlanta’s inner city where I live and work, I have perceived what I would describe as a strong sense of suspense in the air. Some people say that they weren’t feeling enough pain to warrant being angry, and that we hadn’t reached the tipping point as of yet. They’re only interested in taking the safe way out. I have had still others tell me that, as a Christian minister, it is not right for a Web pastor to take sides in favor of the protesters, much less write and blog about it, because the protesters are all “breaking the law”. But to those self-appointed critics I will quote the Book of James, where it is written about those in charge who abuse their authority: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay your workman who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)

There are others, however, who are ready to go on strike, such as what is currently happening throughout our nation’s streets. The folks who barricade themselves in their homes and apartments are gradually becoming outnumbered by those who insist on staying out in the streets and making their extreme displeasure known to those who still presume to be in charge. They have staked out a place in the heart of the monster and held it. Excitement and wonder are seemingly everywhere.

Could ‘we the people’ really take on Wall Street and the lobbyists on Capitol Hill? Obviously Wall Street and the offices on K Street in Washington, DC thought so because they ordered excessive and constant police protection. They must have seen something brewing because Wall Street firms had donated unprecedented millions to the NYPD over the previous year. It was police aggression towards peaceful protesters that grabbed public attention and sympathy. For example, a few weeks after the start of Occupy Wall Street in September of 2011, an amazing 43 percent of Americans supported Occupy, a figure that remains largely undiminished to this day.

Nine years later, the physical encampments are long gone, but the Occupy Movement remains, along with its cousins Black Lives Matter, the ‘99%’ and Anonymous Movements, within the hearts and minds of people worldwide. “Occupy”-ing public space was a tactic, not an end in itself. It was a way to make the issues visible, a place for people to gather, a model for a new way of doing things based on respect, mutual aid and democracy and a demand to reclaim what has been ruthlessly taken. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, there was an expectation that the government would respond appropriately to stabilize the economy and that we simply had to weather the storm. What we saw instead were massive bailouts of the industry that caused the crash and greatly inadequate steps to secure jobs, housing and health care. This turned some already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for creating the catastrophe to begin with. Even worse, it made those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really needed to be in the first place. And all this happened prior to the current epidemic of violence in America’s streets and the apparently casual shootings by police officers of unarmed men (in one of the worst cases, a 12-year-old boy was shot to death by the police in Cleveland, Ohio because he held a toy gun).

As a result of all this mess, we’re not heading toward greater income equality. We’re not opposing social and economic injustice like ‘the 1%’ do, but we’re not building up the poor and middle class, or supporting unionization either. We’re not eradicating poverty and hunger, they are getting worse. We’re not expanding educational opportunity because fewer and fewer people can afford it. We’re not rebuilding infrastructure, and yet it’s falling apart. And, we most certainly aren’t doing anywhere nearly enough to improve race relations.

Nothing we’re doing looks anything like the society we built from the New Deal through the 1970s. We’re not doing any of the things that would lead to a more stable and just economy. In fact, we’re doing just the opposite, which means the billionaire bailout society will become even more firmly entrenched. This means that if left unchecked, the trends towards greater inequality and suffering will not only continue, it will accelerate. But the ‘billionaire bailout’ society may have went too far in their exuberance for still more wealth. According to a 2014 Stanford study, “animosity toward the financial sector reached its highest level in 40 years in 2012”. This undoubtedly fueled the Black Lives Matter, Occupy and 99% Movements, and that anger continues to increase to this very day. A majority of Americans believe that not nearly enough was done to prosecute the bankers dating back to at least 2007.

When drowning in so many crises, it is sometimes hard to see above the surface of the water. But the anti-globalization movement and its offspring, the Black Lives Matter, Anonymous, Occupy and “the 99%” movements, are having a noticeable effect (and let’s not omit the Arab Spring of 2011). Since 2000, the World Trade Organization has been unable to advance its agenda and 14 free trade agreements have been stopped by public pressure. Like low-wage workers in the fast food and retail industries, workers must join together to let Congress know that the WTO is not the right path for the US.

It is important to recognize these victories and to build from them. It is also important to remember that we never know how close we are to achieving significant change. The Occupy movement spawned the “Idle No More”, “Workers’ Rights” and ‘Climate Change’ movements. Our eyes are open and we can’t ignore what we now see. We know that it is the plutocratic system, not individual inadequacy, that is causing poverty in America. We know that the $1 trillion given by the Federal Reserve to private banks could have created 20 million desperately-needed jobs. We know that the 400 richest people in the US have more wealth than the GDP of entire countries – like Canada and Mexico, for instance. And we know the names of those who control the wealth and exploit people and the planet for it.

We no longer expect “leaders” to create the change we need. We are all leaders and change depends on our actions and ours alone. Since the system is too dysfunctional to attempt to repair it, the most logical and practical thing to do is replace it. Humankind already has a powerful tool available off the shelf as a basis for launching such a project. It’s called ‘the Internet’, and yet even across the Web we still find cases of inequality due to a lack of Internet access. And yet, computers are gradually getting cheaper, which should have put a sizable dent in this problem. In this instance. We have glaring inequality being shied right through our computer screens.

The culture of resistance necessary to create the kind of world we want to live in is already here. Actions are taking place daily in the US and around the world. You won’t hear about most of them in the mass media. Dairy workers in New York protested their abusive working conditions. Fast food workers and retail clerks from the box stores protested poor wages plus a lack of benefits. Protesters in Vermont, ages 65 to 94, chained themselves to the entrance of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant to demand its immediate closure and Marylander’s protested outside an ‘arms bazaar.’ The Cascadia Forest Defenders scaled the capitol building in Oregon to drop a huge banner to protest clear-cutting. Search them all for yourselves, wise up and join your fellow patriots.

Hard work is being done every day to take on entrenched corporate power and create a new world based on principles such as mutual aid, community, equity, solidarity and democracy. Although we face an uncertain future, we embrace the chaos that defines our times. There is no alternative but to challenge the status quo of ever-increasing debt, shrinking job opportunities and disappearing civil rights. We can’t say what the outcome will be or whether we will live to see the world we hope to create. Perhaps the most important piece of social transformation is not a goal but rather is the process of living in a way that is consistent with our values. We live in the culture of resistance which requires constant nurturing to bend the arc of time towards justice. Resistance is most certainly not futile.

Corruption in Government, Corruption in Churches, and I Can’t Decide Which Is Worse

When Authority Becomes Corrupted, That’s When Almighty God Himself Will Intervene to Take Charge

(Part 2 of 2; Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 20-27)

preachers need to

This week’s commentary will be part 2 of my comparison of Ezekiel 34 to modern Christian churches and all their various denominations. As you recall from last week’s message, the Lord Almighty sees all the corruption in our governments, from the chief executive all the way down to the lowliest undersecretary or custodian. We can all do better than what we’re currently doing, although many are doing better than some others. While some may be adamant about exercising their right to refuse to wear a mask, others are just as adamant about being protective by wearing masks. To top it all off, the one remaining place that should be a shelter from the disasters all around us – all the various church denominations – have been turned into little more than entertainment venues.

In last week’s commentary I lamented to a great extent about the state of modern churches and that of its pastors as they (supposedly) minister to their ‘flocks’. Unfortunately, due to what is often viewed as lax leadership, these pastors, bishops, evangelists, deacons and what-not, these various church denominations are ruling over congregations that have strange teachings and customs, odd ways of dressing, and whose leadership is rife with corruption. In vases like this, and especially during the last days, the risen Spirit of the Blessed Savior will intervene, as we will now see. So let’s all take up where we left of last week, in the 34th chapter of Chronicles, beginning with verse 20.

20) Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22) I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23) I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24) I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.(Chronicles 34: 20-24)

As you saw in verse 20, not all the sheep of the flock were getting their needs met. That’s because too many other “sheep” were getting more than their fair share, and that always includes the pastor and those in positions of leadership. In a truly Christ-centered ministry, the pastor gets the leftovers. They come last because the rest of the ‘flock’ is supposed to come first. As we move on to verse 21, we see that God also sees that all of the above is being done at the expense of those less fortunate, remarkably similar to the massive inequality we see all around us today. This includes all the internal politicking that goes on inside church walls, and not just the government. All of the above are in places of leadership, and it is those who abuse that power who are the ones causing all the problems. In verse 23, the name ‘David’ is used interchangeably for Jesus. He will be – or actually has been, since these words were written down about 2,700 years ago – the ultimate Shepherd for a chosen flock. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.” The ‘servant Prince’ is none other than Jesus Christ himself.

And now let’s conclude this week’s commentary in Chronicles 34: “25) I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. 26) I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27) The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.“

In verse 25, we have a prophecy with a double meaning. The Book of Ezekiel was written roughly 550 years before the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At the time this was written, the Hebrew nation was in captivity in Babylon, in what would be modern Iraq and Iran. A “covenant of peace with them” referred to the Hebrew nation’s Babylonian captors and their relations with its neighbor, the Israeli nation. It prophecies a time in Israel’s future when she would be free again. Fast forward to the last 7 decades, and we find the founding of the new nation of Israel in May of 1948. So it can be said that these verses prophesy the return from Babylon and the rebuilding of Israel, and particularly the Temple there, roughly 60-70 years into the future at the time this was originally written.

But still other scholars point to these verses as being a prophecy of the founding of the state of Israel in modern times. The thing is, nobody really knows for sure, and that includes myself. In the following verse, “I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing”, the city of Israel was built on a hilltop, so that’s what it’s referring to, but only if you’re on the side of those scholars who say this is a prophecy of the founding of the modern Israel. In verse 27, “….the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them”.

Enslavement, once again, could equal captivity in Babylon, but more likely it is modern economic slavery that is the reference point here. That economic slavery is known as capitalism – debt. Besides, with human trafficking being outlawed nearly everywhere, it is much easier to simply traffic in money than in human beings. I have written extensively on the topic of debt being the moral equivalent to modern slavery in the past. Please visit my archives at https://medium.com/@greatestservant62 for lots of good postings on this topic, plus many more as well. For myself at least, mortgages, student loans and credit cards are the 3 main offenders. If you want to be totally free, walk away from your debts and wise up!

So this concludes the commentaries from the last 2 weeks on corruption in modern churches. Be sure and watch for next week’s commentary, or you can get a (temporarily free) subscription by going to https://www.authorrevpauljbern.com, then scroll down to the bottom right, and clicking on the ‘subscription box to send. See you next week, and watch for my Biblical study series around the latter part of this week, usually by Friday.

Modern Church Leaders Are to Blame for the Declining Interest in Christianity

Millenials Have Little or No Interest in Christianity. Modern Church Leadership Is To Blame, and I Have Found Bible Prophecy About Why It’s the Leadership’s Fault

(Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 1-16; part 1 of 2)

by Minister Paul J. Bern

dead-men-in-pulpits There is simply no end to the amount of Biblical prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, despite the fact that seemingly so much has already been fulfilled. One thing that is still in the process of fulfillment is the fate of the modern churches, regardless of denomination. Everyone has already heard all the stories told by modern churches of their alleged exclusivity, of being taken up while the rest of the world gets left behind, and of themselves being the only persons out of all who were ever created that make it into heaven. But the purpose of this week’s commentary is not to have a theological debate about the state of modern Christianity. The purpose of this message is to call out the Christian leadership of all the world’s denominations for what amounts to dereliction of duty. My text this week will be taken from Ezekiel chapter 34, starting with verses 2-5:

 2) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.‘” ‘Son of man’ meant Ezekiel, but it could be interpreted as being any one of us today. So, to be considered a “son of man” simply means to be a red-blooded human being. Jesus Christ was the ultimate Son of Man, a Son of God born of human flesh but with the Holy Spirit of the risen Savior of the world.

The ‘shepherds of Israel’ represent the corrupt church leadership during the time these words were originally written. By the time Jesus walked the earth roughly 500 years later, he spoke quite plainly about the corruption of church leadership (see Matthew chapter 23), and He condemned those who practiced that. This can also be extended to the modern church, which sometimes put light shows and technology ahead of the true Gospel of Christ Jesus. People who are members of the church have been laid off and there is simply no employment to be found, while the pastors are driving around in cars with 6-figure price tags. Verse 4 is particularly spot-on: “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

 Think of all the homeless people living in their cars, under bridges or in tents, and let’s not forget that nearly half the country is living on public assistance as I write this. They are in the predicament they currently find themselves in because their jobs were out-sourced overseas, or because of business and plant closures. I think that qualifies as ruling over the population with excessive harshness. This is what the Lord says will happen next: 7)“ ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9) therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.‘”

‘You shepherds’ are the religious leaders, and their congregations are their ‘flocks’. There is a dearth of leadership in churches of all faiths that goes back centuries. That’s because many of the ‘ministers’ and ‘pastors’ are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons. For them, running a church amounts to part time job with full time pay and benefits. These people are milking their congregations for money, much like the money-changers in the Temple of Jesus’ time. But the Lord, the risen Spirit of the risen Savior and Kinsman Redeemer, stands firmly against all that, as it is written in verse 10: “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.” Unlike these predatory churches of which I write, the true church of Jesus Christ is not owned and operated by the Vatican, nor by groups of wealthy evangelicals, nor are they run by boards of directors. But we ourselves who are the true followers of Jesus dedicate our lives only to him exclusively. And now, let’s close out Part One of this week’s message, beginning at verse 11.

 11) “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12) As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13) I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14) I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16) I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

So, God has said in verses 11-13, since all the combined pastors, bishops, apostles, priests and deacons are refusing to do their jobs, God will intervene on behalf of all those who sought Christ’s salvation as he bypasses those shepherds who have abandoned their flocks in favor of money. These pastors, teachers, bishops, “apostles” and evangelists are too busy milking their congregations for money to provide anything resembling true, authentic Christian leadership. The former members, many of whom are still in attendance, have become led into sin and addiction of all kinds because they lack a good example in their lives, something that is the responsibility of the leadership to provide. In verses 14 through 16, the Lord Almighty prophesies about the eventuality that he will have to step in and intervene to bring back the lost sheep.

The “lost sheep” in verses 11-16 represent ourselves, the sheep of God’s pasture. In verse 14, the “good grazing land” represents the Word of the Lord, which is the Bible. Interestingly enough, the ‘good grazing land’ and the money we use for our financial transactions are both the same color. I do not believe that is a coincidence. It is better to pursue the right kind of ‘green’ while avoiding the bad kind which breeds corruption. In verse 15, it is prophesied that Christ Jesus himself will personally tend to the needs of his flock. This is because of the dereliction of duty on the part of those in charge of His flocks – the pastors and bishops, teachers and deacons, etc., etc., who pay themselves and each other handsome salaries and even provide leased luxury automobiles.

Then in verse 16, the Lord Almighty spells out the fate of those who got into the ministry for the easy money while failing to provide for the needs of their congregations as it is written: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” Who are the ‘strays’? They are the ones who have fallen into sin – never mind what kind, since we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory anyway. Who are the injured? They are the ones who have been marginalized due to neglect by those in charge, or because of simple incompetence. To strengthen the weak and to shepherd with justice mean exactly what they say they mean. This is no need for any fancy explanations here.

Next week I will return for part 2, for the sake of brevity. There’s too much in here for all 34 verses, since that would threaten the attention span of all who read it, and there’s no way I’m ever going to do that. So until then, everybody keep Jesus in your minds and your hearts at all times. Shalom….

How Do We Make God Happy?By Ending Inequality, Which Would Eliminate Poverty and Crime

How We Can Make God, and Each Other, Happy? By Ending Poverty

by Minister Paul J. Bern

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With about 98% of the wealth in America in the hands of a little under 2% of the population, the US has a bigger and wider gap between the richest 5% of American money earners and big business owners than there is in many supposedly “third world” countries. The widespread and systemic unemployment or underemployment that currently exists in the US job market is no longer just an economic problem, it has – here in the early 21st century – become a civil rights issue. Inequality, we have found out, is the tool of choice for the 2% elites to use against the rest of us.

 

 

The US job market has been turned into a raffle, where one lucky person gets the job while entire groups of others get left out in the cold – sometimes literally. So, I am vigorously maintaining that every human being has the basic, God-given right to a livelihood and to a living wage. (to get an entire book on this topic, order a copy of my 2019 release, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition” from this link) Anything less becomes a civil rights violation and therefore those jobless persons are victims of systemic economic discrimination. And so I state unreservedly that restarting the civil rights era protests, demonstrations, sit-ins and the occupation of whole buildings or city blocks will be the most effective nonviolent way of addressing the rampant inequality and persistent economic hardship that currently exists in the US. We have already seen some of that with the protests in the streets because of unarmed Blacks being killed by the police. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

 

So I went to the internet, that bastion of knowledge from outside the classroom, and discovered the following facts:

 

  • The number of Blacks killed by police in 2014 – 2019 was 1,654. This is an average of 275 per year. In fact, 2015 saw 305 deaths for a high and 258 was the lowest number in 2018. Of these fatalities, 286 were considered unarmed. That is an average of 47 people per year. The deadliest year was 2015 with 78. Both 2018 and 2019 had the lowest totals of 28 each year.

  • I then looked at the number of non-blacks, particularly whites, killed by police (same years). Here is what I discovered: Whites accounted for 2,953 police involved deaths. An average of 492 per year. The deadliest year being 2015 with 544, the lowest being 2019 with 406. There were 388 unarmed whites killed in that time frame for an average of 65 per year. Most death occurring in 2015 with 91 deaths, and the low being 48 in 2018. All other races (non-white or black) accounted for 1,953 deaths (325 per year) of which 241 were unarmed (40 per year).

  • Conclusion: All other races combined had 4,906 people killed by police, or 817 people per year. Of that total, 629 were considered unarmed or 105 people per year. Blacks killed per year: 275, everyone else: 817.

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But these protesters are behind the curve. Because, before them, there were the Yellow Vests in Europe, Occupy Wall St., “We are the 99%” and Anonymous. And before them there was the Arab Spring throughout northern Africa, the summer of 2011 in Great Britain and Greece in Europe, and Libya, Syria and Gaza in the Middle East. So from a political standpoint, the current crop of protesters here in the US have had some catching up to do. But that was before the rest of the world got on board protesting globally for all the murdered Americans from Florida to Missouri to New York. So now, like an echo from the fairly recent past, the protests over police violence has echoed across the globe and is still reaching a crescendo. The least common denominator to all this rage in the streets is that of being economically disadvantaged. People everywhere find themselves surrounded by wealth and opulence, luxury and self-indulgence, while they are themselves isolated from it. It is one thing to be rewarded for success and a job well done. But it’s an altogether different matter to have obscene riches flaunted in your face on a daily basis just because someone can. I think what we really need to do is find a way to end poverty. I can sum up the answer in one word: Education. Otherwise, those who are poor will always remain so.

 

 

Who’s responsible for the poor? “The poor you will always have”, Jesus once said, “but you will not always have me”. Back in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, English lawmakers said it was the government and taxpayers who are responsible. They introduced the compulsory “poor tax” of 1572 to provide peasants with cash and a “parish loaf.” The world’s first-ever public relief system did more than feed the poor: It helped fuel economic growth because peasants could risk leaving the land to look for work in town. By the early 19th century, though, a backlash had set in. English spending on the poor was slashed from 2 percent to 1 percent of national income, and indigent families were locked up in parish workhouses. In 1839, the fictional hero of Oliver Twist, a child laborer who became a symbol of the neglect and exploitation of the times, famously raised his bowl of gruel and said, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Today, child benefits, winter fuel payments, housing support and guaranteed minimum pensions for the elderly are common practice in Britain and other industrialized countries. But it’s only recently that the right to an adequate standard of living has begun to be extended to the poor of the developing world. Here in the US, a guaranteed minimum income was at first viewed as a novelty. But lately it has begun to be seen as an alternative to welfare, SNAP benefits, AFDC and collecting unemployment.

 

 

At least 45 developing nations in Africa and south Asia now provide social pensions or grants to 110 million impoverished families — not in the form of charitable donations or emergency handouts or temporary safety nets, but as a kind of social security. A quiet revolution is taking place based on the realization that you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots. And giving ‘boots’ to people with little money does not make them lazy or reluctant to work; rather, just the opposite happens. A small guaranteed income provides a foundation that enables people to transform their own lives. Give people – any group of people regardless of skin color – an opportunity to improve themselves, and then stand back and watch what happens next.

 

 

Without any advice from aid agencies, government, or nongovernmental organizations, poor people already know how to make profitable investments. They simply did not have the cash and could not borrow the small amounts of money they needed. A good way for donor countries to help is to give aid as “general budget support,” funneling cash for the poor directly into government coffers. To truly lift the poor out of poverty, governments also must tackle discrimination and invest in health, education and infrastructure.

 

 

The notion that the poor are to blame for their poverty persists in affluent nations today and has been especially strong in the United States. Studies by the World Values Survey between 1995 and 2000 showed that 61 percent of Americans believed the poor were lazy and lacked willpower. Only 13 percent said an unfair society was to blame. But what would Americans say now, in the wake of the housing market collapse and the bailout of the banks? The jobs-creating stimulus bill, the expansion of food stamp programs and unemployment benefits — these are all forms of cash transfers to the needy. I would say that cash helps people see a way out, no matter where they live.

 

 

In closing, the icing on the cake with regards to having a livelihood by acquiring a trade or skill, is documented in Scripture in multiple places, such as Ecclesiastes 5:19, “Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil — this is a gift of God.Luke chapter 10, verse 7 reads, “….for the worker is worth his wages”. But the Word of the Lord takes this topic of work even farther. In Colossians 3:23, it reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. Although everyone is entitled to a livelihood, a certain kind of work ethic is required in return, as it says in 1st Thessalonians 5, verse12, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” Among other things, this means we take the responsibility to pull our own weight. We do this to honor Almighty God, our heavenly Creator, as it is written in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

 

What is our purpose? Why are we here? As you just read, the answers can be found in the Good Book. There’s no big mystery here. Everything has been right in front us the whole time. All we have to do is to start living this out as a lifestyle. So let’s all start right now to improve ourselves and the entire planet for the benefit of all.

 

 

 

….

 

 

 

We Are the 99% and Occupy Wall St. Are Predecessors to Black Lives Matter: Even Jesus Had Something to Say About It

What God Would Say About Inequality Compared to Black Lives Matter and the ‘Occupy’, ‘We Are The 99%’, and the Arab Spring Movements

by Minister Paul J. Bern

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I have been watching the evening news on wireless TV and on the Internet from the alternative media (I don’t waste my time or money with cable TV) with much admiration lately as the political turmoil unfolds in street demonstrations all over the US over the deaths of unarmed Black men and teenagers. At worst, they had committed misdemeanor offenses, but many of them have been hapless but innocent victims of law enforcement. Just like the Arab Spring in 2011 in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, with a civil war still winding down in Syria while more threatens to break out in Iraq, all the people are taking to the streets for justice, and for their inalienable human rights and freedoms. It stirs my heart without end to see all those throngs of people united in one purpose, coming up against an overwhelming established authority, and all without any weapons.

 

 

It also bears a strong resemblance to Black Lives Matter, “Occupy Wall St.”, and “We Are the 99%” movements here in America and abroad, of which I have personally been a part. I have personally self-published two books about these movements, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto (4th edition)”, and “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, which you can buy at a huge discount from my website listed in the link above (or, just click here). All of these ongoing revolutions were accomplished without any more than minimal bloodshed (excluding Syria and Gaza), and were at least partly peaceful. Of course, this is excluding all the looters and vandals elsewhere, as well as those who start fires, whose activities I will never endorse. It is nonetheless very good that so many people were set free by rising up against established abusive authoritarians and taking charge of our own destinies. This is how real change is brought about and this is how (mostly) peaceful revolution is brought forth by those persons bold enough to step up and retake the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

 

 

Watching those events unfolding on live TV caused me to compare what was happening in the US and all those other places in North Africa and the Middle East beginning 9 years ago to what had happened during the American Revolution during the formation of the original colonies. The main difference between then and now is that modern-day Arab and American protesters didn’t have guns – and didn’t need them, as it turned out. This evokes the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the ultimate peaceful campaigner for civil rights. His advocacy of non-violent social change and the civil rights legacy that he left behind are irreplaceable. And I also believe that same legacy is based on that of Moses, who so famously told the Egyptian Pharaoh to “let my people go”. Soon, a time will be coming for the entire world, from the most developed countries on down to the poorest, when the shackles of debt will be forever broken, and when all the people of the world will be freed from the scourge of usurious interest that is charged on loans. Soon all of us will be free from a debt-based economy as capitalism dies of old age, as we begin to move toward a resource-based economy. But that is a separate topic for another time.

 

 

The same thing has since happened in America, as you all know, with the blossoming of the Black Lives Matter movement. This loosely organized political federation is gradually congealing into something more, growing into something far more substantial. The economic state of the populations of Egypt and America are similar, with high unemployment, rampant homelessness and crime. The inordinate concentration of wealth towards the top 1-2 percent, combined with its use as a weapon to pollute and corrupt government and politics, runs rampant in both countries. America is most certainly ripe for revolution, given the state of the middle and working classes in this country, the lack of decent jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and the rising cost of food.

 

 

The Black Lives Matter movement may well be the vehicle for a 2nd American Revolution. I also think this vehicle will be accelerated by the fact that America is rapidly headed for third world status as a country when it comes to the standard of living of the blue and white collar classes, otherwise known as “we the people” in the Preamble to the Constitution. When this is combined with the unfair, unethical concentration of wealth throughout the world then it becomes tantamount to an undeclared economic civil war. There can be no doubt that we are going to have to unite together as a people to stop this great robbery that is happening right up in our faces each and every day, so we can take back our country. The longer we wait to do so, the more difficult it will become.

 

Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolute in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. This is like a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Otherwise this kind of childish selfishness and narrow-minded stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart.

 

 

What is particularly troubling in today’s political environment – with Black Lives Matter being just the tip of the iceberg – is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed by all sides. I have been trying to figure out the source of this anger and hatred for some time now. Some of today’s rabid emotionalism can be traced to old-fashioned racism, but I think for many people it goes much deeper than that. It would appear that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to fear. Fear is an emotion we don’t like in ourselves and anger is a way of covering up our fears with an emotion that makes us feel more powerful.

 

 

We now live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. Such people have not yet discovered the simple key to letting go of their fear, which is to believe and have faith that God is in charge of everything, combined with understanding that if we will just let go and let God, He will cause all things to work out well, as it is written, “All things work to the glory of God for those who love Him”. God is always there for you, as it is written and was uttered by Jesus himself, “Never will I leave you, and never will I forsake you.” So He isn’t going to let anything happen to you, and it would be to the benefit of anyone reading these words to rest assured about this and stop worrying. (For additional perspective on what Jesus said about worrying, read Matthew chapter six. Here is a nice little portion of it:

 

 

25) Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26) Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27) Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28) And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29) Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30) If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31) So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32) For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6, verses 25-34)

 

 

If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up and wise up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto our fellow citizens, and we need to let go of our own childhood fears and insecurities. We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to replace competition with cooperation, and we need to first learn self-respect as an important step toward acquiring mutual respect. Only when these things have been done can a new economic system truly be born, one based on resourcefulness and cooperation instead of outmoded concepts like competition and financial gain. We need to accept the reality of change and begin working together to find productive ways of dealing with a world that is constantly changing. Besides, the fact is that America was built upon compromise. Our great experiment in democracy is founded upon the belief that each issue has many sides and that the most workable solution comes from a compromise that blends together many disparate views. Compromise is the glue that holds America together.

 

 

Change is inevitable. It’s the way the universe is constructed. The fact that time exists means that change must occur. Rather than fear change, we need to make it work for our benefit. Rather than trying to go back to the past, we need to work together to create a better future. In so doing we emulate God, because He too only cares about our future, not our past. If the American experiment that has been ongoing since the 18th century is going to grow and mature for the rest of the 21st, ‘we the people’ will also have to grow and mature. We have to put our irrational fears behind us and start working together as mature adults in order to deal successfully with the challenges that change presents to us. Besides, change is what keeps us on our toes.

 

 

God allows change to happen to us to help grow us into something more than we were before. It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. Most important of all, it’s time for the police to put all their military hardware in storage and go back to being officers of the peace and detectives of various kinds. It’s time to turn away from those in the media on cable TV, and on talk radio, and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatreds like pouring gasoline on a lighted backyard grill. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth – united we stand, divided we fall.

 

 

 

What’s the Difference Between a Plague, a Pandemic, and a Virus? Some of the Answers, At Least, Can Be Found In the Bible

What Does the Biblical Word ‘Pestilence’ Mean? Could Corona Virus Be Considered to Be a ‘Pestilence’?

By Minister Paul J. Bern

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Our motto

The more that the talking heads on cable news chatter about the Corona virus pandemic, the more it reminds me of the great plagues as described in the Old Testament. You all have heard this story at some point in the past; the one about Moses having a meeting – so to speak – with Pharaoh, to tell him to “let my people go”. The ‘people’ Moses referred to were the ancient Israeli (a.k.a. Israelite) nation (a separate ethnic group living in the midst of Egyptian society), who had been there as slaves for the previous 400 years (see Exodus chapters 1 & 12 for details).

So I went back and re-read those passages this morning prior to writing this week’s commentary, and those two words are being used interchangeably for the most part. What does pestilence mean in the Bible? Pestilence means a deadly and overwhelming disease that affects an entire community. The Black Plague, a disease that killed over thirty percent of Europe’s population, was certainly a pestilence. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘pestilence’ as, “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating especially: bubonic plague.”

So is the Corona virus and/or Covid-19 virus a “pestilence” by Biblical standards? By all the measurements used above, the answer is ‘absolutely yes’! By sheer numbers alone, Covid-19 rivals the Black Plague of centuries ago as being a killer of Biblical proportions. And so, speaking as a minister and a man who seeks after God with every breath I take, if an overall feeling of foreboding has been hanging there with you every day as of late, that’s because we are slowly, to varying degrees, becoming ever more traumatized by the complete insanity that surrounds us all. Unarmed Black men continue to be hunted down as if the police have all decided to go out on safari, while there were 41 mass shootings in 2019 that resulted in 210 fatalities. Domestic violence is at an all-time high, according to the CDC. The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you can think of a few of your own.

But there is historic precedence to what is currently happening with the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of the Black Plague of centuries ago, as well as the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. Due to the earth being far more populated now than in days of old, the Corona virus could kill multitudes more, and yet so many people are still not paying attention to what is going on around them. For some of them, when this pestilence catches up with them, it will be too late. That is when this pestilence of Biblical proportions will begin taking lives with an ever-greater vengeance than ever before.

That is when Biblical precedence will activate itself. King David wrote about this very thing in the Book of Psalms, and I quote: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways….” (Psalm 91, verses 5-11)

‘Not fearing the night’ in verse 5 was a reference to the rough times in which people lived back in those days. Due to the presence of an illiterate populace, not everyone could always find work, and sometimes food was scarce. So crime was a problem back then, and it often occurred in the dead of night. This must have instilled a certain level of fear throughout the population, and so that’s how that verse of scripture originated. Moving along, the “arrow that flies by day” was a reflection of the times in which they lived like I wrote just above. Roving bands of heavily armed marauders were out in the countryside just off the main roads, and people routinely got robbed as they traveled from place to place. The “plague that destroys at midday” in the next verse sounds strikingly similar to modern-day Covid-19.

But if you will put God first before all others and yourselves, the Bible tells us right in the very next verse, you will overcome all obstacles and defeat all foes who would dare to come against you. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” When we submit to God’s will in place of our own, we will see amazing things happen, stuff we hadn’t even dreamed about. I will use tornadoes as an example. You know how tornadoes can skip all over the place, touching down just here and there? Yet others stay on the ground for miles, wreaking untold destruction and snuffing out lives in its wake. Yet when the survivors get interviewed, they are all people of faith. Dozens or hundreds of casualties may be left to be treated for their injuries, or to be buried. A thousand here, ten thousand there during wartime, death can be so arbitrary at times.

No matter how much really bad stuff is going on around you, “but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will emerge unscathed from the coming economic calamity, but much of the rest of the world (but not all) will perish in the flames. What flames? Things like wildfires, volcanic eruptions, wars and terrorism, and meteor or comet strikes in any place on the planet – all come to mind.

If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near (you)…. See that, everybody? The Lord Almighty is my refuge, and he can be yours too. All you have to do is to ask him in, to let the Holy Spirit of the Most High God dwell within you. So why not do that right now? Ask the risen Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to come and dwell within your heart. Unless you’re in the middle of a public place like a movie theater, it’s perfectly suitable to do this out loud. Jesus, be my Lord and Savior. Come into my heart and dwell there forever, so that I can be with you forever too. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.

God Really Does Hate Inequality, and I Think I Know Some of the Reasons Why

Still More Reasons Why God Hates Inequality

by Minister Paul J. Bern

blessed are the poor

For the last several weeks, I have been commenting at length about the wholesale police killings of unarmed Black men. If you’re Black in the US, you can forget about receiving any justice or equal treatment under the law as they are currently written and enforced. Of this there can be no question whatsoever. Formerly middle class people, and a whole lot of poor folks including people of color, are having their most basic rights taken away by runaway government and their out-of-control police departments. The Bible says in the Book of Proverbs chapter 29, verse 7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. That’s God’s take on poverty in a nutshell. “The poor you will always have”, Jesus said not long before His crucifixion, “but you will not always have me”. The poor are humankind’s responsibility, starting with the churches. It’s our fault collectively as an allegedly civilized society that there are so many homeless people – and even entire families – living on American streets. Let me repeat that with a flourish – the multitudes of homeless are out in the streets and sleeping in their cars because somebody somewhere didn’t give a damn because they were all too stingy to care.

Here in the city of Atlanta where I live, there are lots of boarded up and abandoned houses (there’s plenty in the suburbs, too, but most of those aren’t on the bus line). There are also a lot of homeless people, mainly because Georgia is one of those states whose minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 an hour. Any way you slice and dice it, a single person who makes minimum wage can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in Georgia. So there are a slowly growing number of squatters who are living in these abandoned houses, nearly all without the benefit of water or electric hook-up. When the police catch them, and they do routinely, they are taken to jail. OK, now let’s review this. The cops catch some luckless squatter, who is living in a house that nobody wants. Since that person is considered to be a trespasser under Georgia law, and since the majority of the squatters are also usually black, they are taken immediately to a county jail where it will cost the taxpayers upwards of $60.00 per day to detain them.

So, there are some who think it’s better to spend $60.00 a day to house otherwise harmless petty criminals than it is to let them sleep in abandoned structures at night where they are bothering no one. No one seems to care about the fact that incarcerating these people is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers. I understand that they’re trespassing on someone’s property, but if that is something that must be enforced then why is the structure abandoned and in disrepair? The answer, brothers and sisters, is greed. The property owners, many of whom live out of state and who want nothing to do with these properties because they owe back property taxes on them, will not hesitate to press charges against some poor homeless man, or a homeless single parent with small children, for sleeping on a front porch on a rainy night.

 

 

Indeed, the circumstances and situations that the middle and working classes in the US find themselves in today are a series of gross social injustices that demands a sharply focused and well-coordinated response from the entire populace. What is needed is a rebuttal and decisive counterattack designed and intended to right, correct and re-balance US political power back into the hands of the overwhelming majority of American citizens to whom it rightfully belongs. There can be no doubt that class warfare has been declared in the US, perpetrated by the wealthy top 1% against the middle and working classes for the sole express purpose of eliminating from society the Constitutional majority of working Americans, with the end result being the complete and merciless liquidation of middle and working class wealth, general prosperity, and even our health.

This has been accomplished by the largest transfer of wealth in all of human history, and it has been manifested in three different ways. First, the employment of working Americans, particularly of the US working class, has been decimated by closing down manufacturing facilities and shipping jobs overseas to the third world for pennies on the dollar. Second, the retirement savings of the middle and working classes have been severely compromised or even liquidated altogether by the crooked and devious manipulations of Wall Street bankers, market speculators, hedge fund managers and corporate boards of directors who engineered the largest swindle in human history back in 2008. This criminal act resulted in the US government bailout know as TARP, an $850 billion bank robbery of the US Treasury conceived and carried out by the same ‘Ponzi schemers’ who ran the US economy into the ground in the first place. Third, the largest transfer of wealth in human history is being enforced by runaway prices for motor vehicles and college and university tuition that are being deliberately engineered by wealthy elitists for the sole express purpose of putting higher education financially out of reach for an increasing majority of the ever-vanishing American middle class.

 

 

There are tens of millions of formerly middle class people – of whom I am one, I was in IT for 20 years – from all across the country who find themselves in similar circumstances to varying degrees of severity. Many have not been as fortunate as me. They have lost jobs or entire careers like I did, been forced out into the street due to the epidemic of foreclosures throughout the land, had their cars repossessed, leaving them with no way to get to work assuming that they are lucky enough to still have jobs, and are hounded by collection agencies for debts great and small. They have no access to health care except to show up at the local emergency room with no way to pay the bill, putting them even deeper into debt than they already are. They have watched their pensions and their retirement savings evaporate due to market manipulations by unscrupulous “financial managers” who earn obscene bonuses whether they succeed or fail, and all at the expense of the small investors who have the most to lose.

Either that, or they have spent their savings during interminably lengthy periods of unemployment after their jobs were downsized or out-sourced overseas to the third world, never to return again. And their children, the ones lucky enough to be able to go to college, are graduating with crushing student loan debts that will take decades to repay if they can be repaid at all, depending on whether they can find suitable work or not. What good is a four-year degree if you wind up flipping hamburgers, selling shoes or digging ditches? Meanwhile, the best jobs, the best educations, and the best incomes are reserved for the wealthiest people and their families.

 

 

No more will we stand and stare or sit and grumble about having our houses, jobs, cars, savings, health, higher education and our retirements forcibly taken away while an ever greater portion of American wealth is concentrated into the hands of a small minority of multimillionaires. It is time for the middle and working classes to put our collective foot down and say ”no more”. The twin pandemics of police violence and racial inequality should be the places to start. The time has arrived for us to take back our country by any and all means possible.

It is time for political power to be taken out of the hands of corporate America and their invading hordes of lobbyists who would presume to take over our country by means of economic warfare, and to place it back into the hands of “we the people”, the true owners of this great country of ours. And we will do so knowing that God, history and our founding fathers will be on our side, because they left us with a sacred document known as the Constitution of the United States. It is that very document that guarantees us that right. Our free speech and freedom of expression that are guaranteed under the First Amendment, as well as our right to keep and bear arms and to form militias that are guaranteed under the Second Amendment, will not be compromised or trampled upon. We will demonstrate in the streets, we will besiege government buildings, we will bombard our congressmen and women with phone calls and emails, we will form new political parties, we will organize and build labor unions, we will blockade wealthy neighborhoods, we will organize peaceful public events and non-violent sit-ins, we will call general strikes and consumer boycotts, and we will not stop until the balance of power in this country undergoes a paradigm shift back into the hands of hard-working Americans, as well as the millions of people who want jobs and can’t find them. Moreover, we the people will accomplish this without the use of firearms, but we also claim the right to defend ourselves if we are attacked.

 

 

Let there be no mistake, America is ripe for mass civil disobedience, even for outright revolution. The conditions and circumstances in which the middle and working classes find themselves has become intolerable. Personally, I am a very patient and thoughtful man. I work hard each day to be slow to speak and quick to listen because I know from experience that there is much wisdom to be derived from living my life this way. But by the same token, I am a Christian man and Web evangelist who stands against social injustice and economic inequality, and whose patience is at its end. Just as surely as Jesus preached against the political and religious establishment of His day, in like manner I will do the same in the present day in order to emulate the man I regard as my personal Savior.

So, if you truly care about the deteriorating state of our nation, if you are really concerned about the issues that we are faced with collectively as a people, and if you want to make a stand against police violence, social injustice and economic inequality – and since it’s in all our best interests to do so – you owe it to yourselves to stand up in the face of power and say, “That’s it! You’re done!!” You know why? Because if Jesus Christ were to return this very day, that’s what He’d say. And the ones who are having the homeless thrown in jail for trespassing on their dilapidated properties would be the first ones Christ would send straight to hell.

The Mass Protests On America’s Streets May Be Historic, But the Random Killing of Unarmed Black Men Has a Long History. It’s Up To Everybody to Change That….

The Revolution Will Be Televised, But There Will Be More People Out In the Streets Than At Home Watching On Their Couches

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

99% too big 2 fail Thanks to the ongoing injustices against too many unarmed Black men and women, the rage against the institution of racism has risen to a volume and intensity not seen since the civil rights movement of half a century ago. Black men have died because of the color of their skin in recent years and in the past. The most well-publicized cases include George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Rodney King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & other victims of the civil rights Movement. I know, I know, advances have occurred, but being black is still dangerous in this country, especially for men. These killings are part of 400 years of organized oppression against Black people going back to the days of slavery. Shame on all you racists….

It has become abundantly clear to “we the people” that war has been declared on us by our own government, with some of the police looking like poorly paid ‘wannabe’ mercenaries in the process. I write today about these repeated clashes that have grown into a kind of cultural resistance not seen since the civil rights protests and anti-war demonstrations of the 1950’s, ’60’s and the early ’70’s. This culture of resistance is beginning to have a noticeable effect as it continues to grow slowly but steadily. There are cracks in the pillars of power, and they’re starting to get a little bigger. It’s up to us to shine the light on the lies, the spins, the ‘black ops’ and shadow government that has been operating smoothly behind the scenes ever since they killed President John Kennedy to seize power back in November of 1963. It is up to us – ‘we the people’ – to confront the systemic open corruption that has been stealing America’s future. I look back over the events of the past fifty years and feel cautiously optimistic, because I have seen this movement that is continuously building momentum and intensity.

Here in Atlanta’s inner city where I live and work, I have perceived what I would describe as a strong sense of anger and suspense in the air. Some people say that they weren’t feeling enough pain to warrant being angry about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and all the others, and that we haven’t reached the tipping point as of yet. They’re only interested in taking the safe way out. I have had still others tell me that, as a Christian minister, it’s my duty to follow the laws without question and pay my taxes unfailingly. They have told me that it is not right for a Web pastor to take sides in favor of the protesters, much less write and blog about it.

But to them I quote the Book of James, where it is written about those who abuse their authority: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay your workman who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)

Could ‘we the people’ really take on Wall Street and the lobbyists on Capitol Hill? Obviously Wall Street and the offices inside the Beltway in Washington, DC thought so because they ordered excessive and constant police protection. They must have seen something brewing because Wall Street firms had donated unprecedented millions to the NYPD over the previous year. It was police aggression towards peaceful protesters that grabbed public attention and sympathy. For example, a few weeks after the start of Occupy Wall Street in September of 2011, an amazing 43 percent of Americans supported Occupy, a figure that remains largely undiminished to this day.

Years later, the physical encampments are gone, but the Occupy Movement remains, along with its cousins, ‘Black Lives Matter’, the ‘99%’ and ‘Anonymous’ Movements, worldwide. Occupying public space was a tactic, not an end in itself. It was a way to make the issues visible, a place for people to gather, a model for a new way of doing things based on respect, mutual aid and democracy and a demand to reclaim what has been ruthlessly taken. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, there was an expectation that the government would respond appropriately to stabilize the economy and that we simply had to weather the storm. What we saw instead were massive bailouts of the industry that caused the crash and greatly inadequate steps to secure jobs, housing and health care. This turned some already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for the catastrophe to begin with. And all this happened prior to the current twin epidemics of Corona-virus and visceral rage in America’s streets because of the apparently casual shootings by police officers of unarmed Black men.

As a result of all this mess, we’re headed toward ever-greater income inequality. We’re not eradicating poverty and hunger, they are getting worse. We’re not expanding educational opportunities, fewer and fewer people can afford it. We’re not rebuilding infrastructure, and it’s falling apart. We most certainly aren’t doing anywhere nearly enough to improve race relations. Nothing we’re doing looks anything like the society we built from the New Deal through the 1970s. We’re not doing any of the things that would lead to a more stable and just economy. In fact, we’re doing just the opposite, which means the billionaire bailout society will become even more firmly entrenched. This means that if left unchecked, the trends towards greater inequality and suffering will not only continue, it will accelerate.

But the billionaire bailout society may have went too far in their exuberance for still more wealth. According to a Stanford study, “animosity toward the financial sector has reached its highest level in 40 years….”, which undoubtedly fueled the Occupy, 99%, Anonymous and Black Lives Matter Movements. When it seems like we’re drowning in a sea of crises as we are currently, it is sometimes hard to see above the surface of the water. But, the anti-globalization movement and its offspring, the Occupy, the ‘99%’ and “Black Lives Matter” Movements, are having a noticeable effect. Since 2000, the World Trade Organization has been unable to advance its agenda and 14 free trade agreements have been stopped by public pressure. Like low-wage workers in the fast food and retail industries, workers must join together to let Congress know that police violence and racial discord are not the right path for America.

It is also important to remember that we know how close we are to achieving significant change. We know that it is the plutocratic system, not individual inadequacy, that is causing poverty in America. We know that the $1 trillion given by the Federal Reserve to private banks during the 2008 financial crisis could have created 20 million desperately-needed jobs. We know that the 400 richest people in the US have more wealth than the GDP of entire countries – like Canada and Mexico, for instance! And we know the names of those who control the wealth and exploit people and the planet for it. We no longer expect “leaders” to create the change we need. We are all leaders and change depends on our actions and ours alone. Since the system is too dysfunctional to attempt to repair it, the most logical and practical thing to do is replace it. Humankind already has a tool available off the shelf as a basis for launching such a project, and it’s called ‘the Internet’. The government of the future will be small, efficient and nearly paperless.

Resistance is not all protesting, it also includes building alternative systems to meet our basic needs. Many who were active in OWS, ‘the 99%’ and Anonymous have been hard at work at this very thing since the physical occupation was shut down. Earlier this week the Occupy Money Cooperative announced its launch with a fund raising campaign. They will provide low-cost financial services to the millions of Americans who are under-banked and who are preyed upon by banks, check cashing services and payday lenders. It will be an opportunity for all to opt-out of big finance.

Hard work is being done every day to take on entrenched corporate power and create a new world based on principles such as mutual aid, community, equity, solidarity and democracy. Although we face an uncertain future, we embrace the chaos that defines our times. There is no alternative but to challenge the status quo of ever-increasing debt, shrinking job opportunities and disappearing civil rights.