Friday, November 30, 2012

A Little Girl and the Atheist

This is one of those old saws, a joke that is, told in a variety of situations. The first time I heard it was from Dr. Thomas Stevenin, the late motivational speaker I had hired for a couple Harley Davidson conferences. The way Tom told the story it was an old farmer standing in for the Little Girl and a Wall Street Hedge Fund salesman standing in for the atheist.

Here's the story, and then a comment about why this is a apropos illustration.

(Thanks to my friend Joe Greco for sending this along, although I see it's all over the web on a hundred other blogs.)

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”
The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.
“OK,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”
The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”
To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death, when you don’t know shit?”
And then she went back to reading her book.

This is so apropos becasue atheism claims to KNOW for a fact that there is no God. But an atheist knowledge of the universe is miniscule compared to all human knowledge, and all that humans know about the universe is miniscule to reality. The little girl knows that atheism is for idiots... that's not name calling, that's what they are.

Indeed, a child shall lead them... if they care to be led.

A letter from Hobby Lobby stores CEO

Obamacare’s abortion-causing drugs
The following letter was emailed to Cal Catholic on November 28. The lawsuit can be read about here.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word. From there,Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make.

The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Legacy in India Missions

Trudy (Williams) Nelson in Hyderabad, India with conference attendees and their children. 
I've written before about my connection with India and missions. My grandmother was a Christian missionary there from 1907-1943, and my mom and aunt were born there. In recent years my eldest daughter, Trudy, has returned numerous times on short term mission efforts. Two weeks ago she led a group of five other women there to teach, pray, and encourage hundreds of Dalit women who are Christian leaders in their own villages. She brought back picture and movies and posted them HERE ON SHUTTERFLY. We're very proud of her. She has my drive and my wife's compassion. A great combination. She's wearing a red and gold sari I bought her mother when I visited India in 1981.

Friday, November 16, 2012

TWINKIE GREED: Richard (Whipped Cream) Trumka

I have a "Catholic" friend who claims our economic downturn is the result of corporate greed. He's convinced that anyone who's rich is evil, runs a company, and employes people, or has a business model that "makes money", is repressing the poor. Of course, he's richer than most of his poor friends that he's vowed to protect. And he's convinced that "Obama as the plan" that will save the poor.

I hope he's watching the unemployment stats, the stock market crash, and the rise in food stamps. I wonder how many more years my friend will be able to blame Bush? That's the problem, never take personal responsibility. Blame someone else. Put down  the other guy, it'll make you feel better, but not make you any better.

Never mind that under every "big government" example in history, the more government gets involved in people's lives (with a few exceptions) the poor get poorer. Why? Because government removes the incentive for free enterprise that is the ONLY wealth creation mechanism every known.

Never mind that is it he rich that employ the poor. But of course, according to the Democrats, it's those that employ the poor are also repressing the poor. How? By not giving to their employes the profits that the investors risked to make the company successful. A job with a living wage is repression. That's what we're hearing these days.

It's the typical socialist rant (which you can find on YouTube easily enough) ... that what made the rich rich was the sweat and labor of the workers. Never mind that there had to be capital to beging with before a factory could be built, and raw materials purchased, and shipped, and processed, or that the land had to be bought before that, and taxes and regulations had to be followed, and paid for, and contracts negotiated and premiums paid... and let's not forget the patents that had to be either purchased, and defended. Or before that the design invented (which took decades of labor by the owner). Never mind all that... it was the workers that stuffed the twinkies with whipped cream... and therefore it's the workers who have the rights to all the owner's wealth.

In most cases of Corporate America the "owners" are the Jack and Jill's of Middle American who invest their money, 401K, IRA, and savings accounts in mutual funds. So,  when  people like Rich (Whipped Cream) Trumka blame crony capitalism, he's talk about his pension plan. Idiot!

Hostess Brands have been losing millions for years. The  unions know this because the AFL-CIO had access to the books over the last years of acrimonious negotiations. The unions claim that hostess was mismanaged, and the workers are now taking the hit.

And in attempts to rescue Hostess and bring it out of bankruptcy the Bain Capital type companies gave it millions of dollars and try to straighten out its affairs, and pay its workers, to avoid closing. According to today's article on and the, those investment firms that risked much to save Hostess included: Ripplewood Holdings that made a $130 million investment, and later two hedge funds, Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital. These companies tried to keep Hostess alive. But now they are going to lose most of their investment, most likely. And  who is to blame for this? According to AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, it's the greedy capitalists, not the greedy bakers. Huh! Here's what he said today:
What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor. Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price. ... These workers, who consistently make great products Americans love and have offered multiple concessions, want their company to succeed... they have bravely taken a stand against the corporate race-to-the-bottom. And now they are their communities are suffering the tragedy of a needless layoff. this is wrong. It has to stop. It's wrecking America.
“These workers, who consistently make great products Americans love and have offered multiple concessions, want their company to succeed,” Trumka said in the statement. “They have bravely taken a stand against the corporate race-to-the-bottom. And now they and their communities are suffering the tragedy of a needless layoff. This is wrong. It has to stop. It’s wrecking America.”

Read more:
 Well, Rich, it may be mismanagement wrecked Hostess, it's hard to tell, but actually it's the capitalists, including the original investors and management...and lately the hedge funds and restructuring companies... that tried to save it. And yes, cutting salaries and benefits may have been part of the mismanagement. Management can give workers too puffy of a package, that that can suck up what might have been a rainy day fund for economic downturns. It might also be that Hostess Brands products have just run their course in the history of America as we move to healthier lifestyles. Rich, are you overweight? When was the last time you had one too many twinkies or Hostess cupcakes? I know I loved them as a kid, but I haven't had one for years because I know they're bad for me. So, if people like me are not buying the product, is that the fault of crony capitalists? Is that the fault of management for not forcing fatty foods on the public? Hey, blame Michelle Obama, she's on an anti-fat campagin. But don't blame capitalisits. It's the capitalists that started Hostess, employed all those tens of thousands for decades, and even, in the end, tried to keep it alive.

You're wrong, and you're nuts. Stop lying, get some smarts, we might like the unions better if the leadership weren't such greedy jerks like you. Yes, I know, fewer members means less of a salary or bonus, right, Rich?

It was the capitalists, the Bain-style companies, that did just the opposite of what Trumka claims. Such companies have saved a great many companies, brands, and jobs. Never mind that it was the millions that Romney and others made that put thousands back to work. Romney's millions NEVER sat idle. They were always reinvested, even when they're "sitting" in the bank.... for the bank is investing their customer's holdings in order to make money, and those investments employ people. Rich (TWINKIE GREED) Trumka is as greedy than anyone. He wants more, and it seems his primary job is to incite greed in his union workers and never take personal responsibility. I really  would like to know if Rich's mismanagement claim is tied to his demand for salary and benefits of his workers in the past. Mismanagement = paying workers more than the company can afford and giving into unions that bully.

The only poor workers are those that are too greedy for their owner's tastes. What ever happened to the dignity of work? The bakers at Hostess brands were not poor. But they will be now, because the greed they gave into will make them poor. Divine Justice? Perhaps.

This is the thinking that causes tyrants to nationalize industries, believing that the motivation and inspiration for running a company is mechanical and it will happen regardless of the innovation, insight, determination, and entrreprenural spirit to keep a compnay running against all odds. But no government offical, or Rich Whipped-Cream Trumka,  is going to put in the 14-18 hour days, 6-7 days a week, to keep a company going. And so it will fail. Totally fail. And the country will have to put up a fence to keep the producers, and the upstarts like me from running away.

It's happened in every socialized experiment in history. And the Democrats and the so-called progressives, like my "Catholic" friend, are not just ill advised, but greedy, ignorant of history, and uneducated in the ways of Natural Law, the human spirit. And they sin because they are envious of those that work, produce, and create jobs, and their attitudes create poverty... simply by ignoring what is true, good, and beautiful.

Hell awaits such folk... Catholic or not.

Ronald Reagan's Tribute to God and Country

Friday, November 9, 2012

Being Poor is Not a Virtue - It's Trends Evil

Where in the Bible or in Catholic doctrine does it say that being poor is a virtue?

Is there nobility in being poor?

Are individuals, families, neighborhoods, or cities better off if they are poor?

What advantage is there to being poor?

And yet the Catholic Church elevates the value of being poor, by assuming that poverty is inevitable and perhaps the goal attained.  The Church cares for the poor, like the government does. They GIVE stuff to people. That is caring, but it's not a real good example of caring.

A PREFERENCE FOR THE POOR must include a process, a path, and an education to accumulating wealth and self-sufficiency. Otherwise, IMHO, this "preference for the poor" is a bunch of crap. It is hypocrisy. It's self-perpetuating. It's evil. Gravely evil.

I acknowledge that some individuals are destined to be always poor. There are people that are not capable for any number of reasons of earning a living, keeping a job, or even getting out of bed without falling. I know that. But I'm not talking about such dear souls that exist so that we can learn to help those TRULY in need.

Instead, I'm talking about the otherwise capable, who need to be working at least 6 hours a day volunteering at ANYWHERE good, for the sake of raising their own dignity and improving their lives, and their community. Or, I'm talking about people that should take ANY job, even if it is boring or "beneath their dignity." Work, any work done well, creates personal dignity.

And there are those, in these camps that do feel victimized by society and so they are unmotivated to do anything but find ways to take from the producers, whom them feel owe them.

There is also such hate for those that are rich, that some poor avoid doing things that would help them out of poverty, because they don't want to be like the rich. Stupid thinking leads to a stupid life.

Over generalizations?


I've seen it up close and personal.

It's abhorrent, evil and destructive. 

If you hate poverty, start doing what the rich do. What do the rich do? 

The rich study the lives of immigrants that came to the U.S. with no money, and today are millionaires.

The rich have gleamed and practice those virtues of character that differentiate the poor from the rich and follow them.  Ben Franklin and his book of virtues comes to mind.

The rich have fostered in themselves values such as these:

1. Foster a personal value that accumulating money is good.  Don't love it. But without it you're poor. (See No. 4)
I know of people who claim to be champions of the poor, who avoid money like it was a plague. My conclusion is that they don't want to be seen by their poor friends as being like the rich, because that would destroy friendships. What a stupid idea. The Bible reminds us that the rich have friends, whereas the poor don't. 
2. Study the work habits and traits, not the hobbies, of the rich and replicate those work traits in your life.
I visited a subway restaurant one time in Detroit. It had just changed owners. It was busy, a long line. The staff was short handed. And what was the owner doing? He was making a sandwich for himself, disturbing the work flow, and then he left. Any smart store owner, seeing the line of customers, would have been working to help the customers, not himself. This was also the man who had parked illegally, blocking customer's direct to the shop from the parking lot.
3. Work 12-14 hours a day at improving your education, skills and earning potential. Do not stop at 8 or 10.

4. SAVE MONEY, don't spend it.
I know a stock broker who was born in abject poverty. As a teenager he lived in a very bad, crime ridden urban community. As a teen he worked several odd jobs, and started buying stock. He says his first stock was McDonald's because he liked their food. He became, in that small way, AN OWNER of McDonald's. He was frugal. He also purchased OLD, USED cars. And today he's a rich stock broker that spends 50% of his time volunteering to help the less fortunate. BUT he could not be helping the poor today, if he can not worked hard, saved his money, and learned to be a good stock trader.
5. OWN things of value, not because they simple look cool or will impress your friends.  
See above example. There are numerous commercials that tell you to buy things because you'll impress your friends with your success. If you buy into this concept you'll be poor in no time. 
6. Be the last person off the treadmill, and the first one on the next morning.
This advice comes from Will Smith one of the smartest and hardest working producers and actors in Hollywood. I've been with Will and confirm that this is exactly what he does. While other producers will hire story consultants and writers like me, and visit us for an hour or so during a several day long story conference effort, Will will be the first one there in the morning, and not leave until everyone else is in bed, 14 hours later. Will is extremely talented. But without the hard work, he'd not be rich. Oh, and here's a secret that in telling you I'm probably violating my confidentiality agreement -- but it makes the point well: In his home's movie theater, there are TWO treadmills. Work, baby work. Harder than anyone else.
7. READ THE BEST INSPIRING BOOKS on how to be self-sufficient. Here's a short list. They are not contrary to Catholic teaching, although you'll not find a bishops Rescript in the front. HA! I've read all these and many more. And while we're not rich by some standards, we aren't poor.
RICH DAD POOR DAD:  What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! (Richard Kiyosaki)



TIME MANAGEMENT (Richard Winwood)

TOP PERFORMANCE: How to Develop Excellent in Yourself and Others (Zig Ziglar)


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Are You a Catholic Hypocrite?

 The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Healing The Blind Man by Edy Legrand.
I'm a Catholic convert. That means I came into the Roman Catholic Church voluntarily as an adult rather than being born in the Church. I came into the Church during the the Easter Vigil, 1998, shortly after receiving my Ph.D. which was a significant component and part of the process of my embracing Catholicism. My doctoral research that led to my dissertation involved the study and formalization of informal logic, or fallacy logic. The dissertation has nothing to do with theology or Christian doctrine. But there were unintended consequences. The 3+ years of research and writing revealed to me the inconsistency of Protestant theology and gave me historical names and theories of reason and faith that surprisingly and suddenly marginalized the rubrics (and some central doctrines) of Protestantism. It's not my intent to go into those here, as I've discussed them other places, most notably in my 26 biographical posts on logic at Trying to Fly With One Wing.

 You Can't Promote Evil Doers and Be Catholic

One of the things I learned is that you can't really call yourself Catholic when you disagree with the teachings and declared positions of the Church. When you disagree with the Church's stance on teachings, doctrine, or public policy you in effect become a "protester" — the root concept behind Protestantism. I once had a pastor-priest (now retired, thankfully) that supported (quietly but clearly) the ordination of women and homosexual marriage, and publicly railed in homilies on the lack of charitable giving by the United States to those in need overseas. He refused to be corrected that the U.S. gave more to humanitarian efforts than the next ten national combined, and that in times of crises U.S. private giving always topped the government's contributions. On the grave moral issues he kept is opinions quiet in the pulpit, but privately he'd make his opinion known. We left that parish. He was a Protestant and he should not have been a Catholic priest. He was a Catholic Hypocrite.

This Election (November 6, 2012)

This election brings to the forefront (to those that want to truthfully engage themselves with the Church) the issue of voting with a well-formed conscience for candidates that support issues with grave moral consequences. My wife and I have met and communicated with both Catholic laypeople and Catholic ordained leaders, who seem to believe they can be authentically Catholic and ignore or even despise what the Church teaches about our responsibilities as Catholic in society. These people, even the ordained, are Catholic Hypocrites.

A downloadable mp3 audio message from the Michigan Catholic Conference on Faithful Citizenship begins this way:
As Catholics we have the responsibility to vote with a well-formed conscience. On Tuesday November 6, Michigan Catholics will vote for politicians and issues that will shape the moral fiber of our state and country. ... Legislators write laws that impact our families and the common good. etc. ...defending human life and religious liberty are critical.
There are numerous efforts by the Church, in print,  in homilies and public forums that clearly inform consciences that there are some issues that are more important than others, just as all sins ARE NOT the same in weight and consequence. Some are gravely morally evil, and others are minor in nature.

Three Grave Moral Evils

Among the three gravely moral evils that the Church tells us must guide our voting are:
a. Protection of life, from conception to natural death. (abortion)
b. The sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman (homosexual "marriage")
c. Repressing religious liberties (regulations that force the Church to sin)
Those three issues are not negotiable or debatable in their intrinsic evil. The current Democrat platform and this administration's support of abortion, gay marriage, and their active infringement on religious liberties by requiring Church institutions to violate their moral conscience with respect to "life" issues are gravely and intrinsically evil. The Republican platform protects life, marriage and religious liberties. What is not considered gravely evil, or even wrong, are the policies of the Republican party to care for the poor through an emphasis on personal responsibility while keeping in place various safety nets for the destitute. Yet, some Catholic leaders and laypersons ignore the grave evils promoted by the Democratic platform and hide behind a pretense that Republicans repress the poor and minorities, as if being rich was the greater evil.

Laissez-faire Capitalism is Good for the Poor

In other posts I've deconstructed this fallacious notion that the rich are bad and hurt the poor. It is the rich that pay for the welfare state through taxes (90% of the tax base is paid by the rich), it is the rich that support benevolent institutions charities and Churches, it is the rich that create jobs.  And it is the rich that see it as their personal responsibility to be generous not the governments.  Indeed, if more of the capable poor were to form their conscious to think like the rich, they'd cease to be poor.  I've written elsewhere on the Rich vs. the Poor. I also recommend the writings of Ayn Rand, particularly Atlas Shrugged to further proof that Laissez-faire capitalism does more for the poor than any government every can.

Do Good and Avoid Evil

In the PDF link at the top of this post, and here (The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship) under the heading DOING GOOD AND AVOIDING EVIL you'll find this:
As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a
single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position
on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal
abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify
a candidate from receiving support.
Your Choice: Fight Evil or Be Tolerant of Evil

If you are a Catholic, especially one that has heard this message in sermons, or been exposed to the bulletin insert linked above, and particularly if you are a priest or deacon, if you vote for candidates whose platforms endorse abortion, gay marriage, or the restriction of religious liberties by forcing sinful acts on religious institutions and individuals... you are a hypocrite. There will be consequences in this life and the next for all of our actions that are contrary to Natural Law, Biblical teachings, and particularly if you refuse to form your conscience in according with what is good, true, and beautiful.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I'm Thinking I'll Go On Strike

Pam and I watched Atlas Shrugged Part 1 last night on Netflix and then I stayed up and watched the bio doc on Ayn Rand's life, AYN RAND & THE PROPHECY OF ATLAS SHRUGGED. The trailer of which is linked here:

The documentary is worth watching and explains the dangers of the tendencies of our government, regardless of the party, to move toward socialism, principally because of our Christian foundations surrounding "guilt" and what we are taught about sacrifice to help the less fortunate. What is amazing is that she, an immigrant from Communist Russia in 1926, saw the U.S. Government going in the same direction as Communism and wrote three novels about the dangers. It seems a classic case of right intention, wrong consequence, or doing the wrong thing for the right reason.

The last novel was Atlas Shrugged that came out in 1957. At that time, of course, the U.S. was in a period of prosperity and no one would believe her. In the last few years, however, I guess the book has been extremely popular... like the rise in gun purchases. Will the U.S. be the first nation in human history that pulls itself back from the brink of destruction? Time will tell.

This trailer from the documentary is a good summary of her philosophy and of the book. One problem that gave her fits in 1957 when Atlas Shrugged was released is her use of the word "selfishness." Being a Russian immigrant her use is an equivocation with how contemporary Christians typically define the word. Thus, her philosophy and her concept of "the virtue of selfishness" can appear to offend Christians until they understand that Rand is talking about the love of self and the Christian concept of dignity, not the sinful nature of demeaning others for self aggrandizement.  Her philosophy, also called Objectivism, can be defined as a way to perceive Natural Law, and therefore it is a foundational way to understand Christian philosophy without using Christian jargon. Here are a couple lines for the Wikipedia article:
Rand characterized Objectivism as "a philosophy for living on earth," grounded in reality, and aimed at defining human nature and the nature of the world in which we live.

 My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.)
I commend the trailer that links above, and the book Atlas Shrugged. I read it once in high school but didn't understand it until recent years. I've repurchased and will read again.