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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Historical Successes & Failures of White & Other Male Leadership

I introduced a paper, that I was in the middle of writing, several years ago, to a group of international scholars at the University of California at Berkeley.  


The weekend conference was primarily attended by black scholars from several continents, to include AsiaAfricaNorth AmericaSouth America,  Europe and the Land Down Under.  The full title of my paper was and is:  The Historical Successes and Failures of Black Male Leadership: On the Contents of Africa, in the Americas and in the Land Down under. 


Having said that, the thrust of my message today is not in any way being directed, exclusively, at black males.  And the latter should not be interpreted as if I have suddenly had an epiphany with regard to the historical success and failures of male leadership by and in other racial and cultural groups.


However, given all of what is going on in and around the world today, the good, bad and the ugly, all too often males dominate, and are given too much credit when it comes to the associated successes, and not enough pointed blame when it comes to the failures.  


My subject matter at the time, just as it is today, has to do today with a broader group of males,  who need to take responsibility for their failures in leadership, independent of any other sub-groups.  And this is important given that it is practically a world-wide phenomenon, good or bad, that male-dominance is the accepted and irreversible norm.


The scholars at the UC Berkeley Conference, all writers or professors, were somewhat taken back, initially, by the audacity of the title, the thought behind  and the scope of my paper, that is until I began to expand upon its meaning, successes and failures.  
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When something works, all of us like to take credit, however, when something fails, it tends to be the nature of the human beast to run away from any responsibility that is associated with the attendant or associated failure.  Oftentimes, in those instances of failure, the fault or reason for the failure lies elsewhere.  It is not uncommon to hear excuses, rationalizations or expressions like, "if only they had listened to me"!

Being bombastic, has become an unintentional trait of mine, it would seem.  Members of a panel from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and several audience members, screamed at me, several years before, at Koret Auditorium located just up the way in the City of San Francisco, during a Saturday morning panel discussion.  Insults such as, "you hate yourself black man ..." were hurled from the stage by Congolese panelists.   Several audience members, who flanked me, expressed their genuine concern for my apparent self-hatred and genuine ignorance - as they interpreted it, as I spoke.


I stood my ground, with both groups, being flanked in the front and from the rear by some fairly angry all black Africans at Koret.  However, by the end of each conference, I was able to convince both the speakers and members of both august bodies, to sit their pride aside for a minute, and to listen to what I was saying.  Perhaps someday, each one of us who hasn't learned yet that suppression, and saying what we believe out loud, neither makes the context nor the content correct.  The latter should also apply to other disciplines like science and religion. 


Afterward, I received invitations to come to Nigeria, Portugal, the Fiji's in order to participate in other international conferences and goodwill visits, however, when it comes to inter-continental travel, I am kind of a homeboy.  In other words, if I can't fly there in 5 hours or less, it is very likely that you will ever see me there, just call me Mr. T!


Saying it loud, should not make one proud, neither should idea suppression.  Are the 2 mutually exclusive?  It would seem so at times.  All of us have likely been audience members at some pogrom, where either one side, or the other is determined not to let up until their opposition has been obliterated.  And it is a known fact that just because one silences the speaker, the message still lives on.  Jesus Christ, Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby King, John F. Kennedy, Nat Turner ...  come to mind.


What we are witnessing in our nation's capitol today, with respect to the debt crisis and the raising of the debt ceiling, showcases individuals who are engaged in the business of ideas suppression, nullification and obliteration of their opponents, if they were foreigners, one side would likely nuke 'the Democrats'.  And sadly, some of our Representatives seem to believe, and perhaps they are correct, that the best way to destroy an idea, is to destroy the person right along with the idea, whether by rote, scandal, humiliation or denigration.  


The only difference between what the American military's hired assassin's and paid mercenaries do and have done to America's foreign enemies and occasionally to their domestic enemies, is that they don't kill each other outright with a weapon of mass physical destruction.  And what is sad but telling is, that there is another often muted voice in the world, that has unjustifiably been the target of suppression and male dominant nullification Sadly, if the majoritarian female voice would have been added to the to the narrative, the Earth would likely have returned to balance, thousands of years before.    


I can recall a client who kept having repetitive nightmares.  During each nightmare, she was just about to deliver, when this evil dark dark force would stand by and snatch the fetus away once it was delivered.  And isn't that all too often what happens when the baby's are delivered, a male dominated society steps in, snatches away and destroys the fetus?


And it not just the Charles Taylors of the world that I am referring to, the same problem has persisted in the United States, for over 235 years now.  BTW, someone once asked, "you hate America don't you"?  And on another occasion someone said, "you will tell the truth even if it hurts you, won't?  Only one of these speakers was correct!


Now, on the other hand, there is more than anecdotal proof to show that many of the same individuals who have distanced themselves, or refuse to take responsibility for America's current mess, which has impacted other economies of the world were and are responsible for the mess that the nation and much of the world finds itself in today.  
Americas problem didn't just suddenly occur, that is without the direct involvement of its male-dominant policy-makers.  Don't be surprised for example, if Representative John Bonehead (pardon me), doesn't suddenly announce that he is running for President of the USA.  Remember, you heard it here first.  Representative Bonehead, is only one of example of failed male leadership in America.  


Now given the examples that each of us have witnessed coming out of Washington DC,  from Mr. Bonehead and others like him,  it does not in any way diminish the contributions that of dominate males from outside of Washington DC.  Reverend Solomon, shouldn't you show a United States Representative more respect.  Answer:  He said it, I didn't, that he is not, in other words, a United States Representative, he is there, and Speaker of the House, to represent a faction of the American people, therefore, in my opinion, he is Mr. Bonehead!


Does Mr. Bonehead from Ohio, 'that fox', know a thing about leadership?  In my opinion, he mistakes suppression for leadership.  Who created this notion, that representatives are in place to represent only a certain faction of the American people? Answers, males invented it!  Presidents, Representatives, Governors ... should never say "I am here to represent the people who placed me here".  What if Mr. Bonehead's people resurrected the idea of enslaving certain Americans, what would he do?  I can only imagine ...


So, similar to what I explained before at the UC Berkeley conference, when discussing my polemic, males have a lot that they can be proud of, even though truthfully, what has been done in the past ignores the contributions of females.  Females certainly have been responsible for the successes of male leaders, even though their contributions have often been overlooked.   Let's give the Catholics credit for the practice of Maryology,  the honor of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, a tradition that can be traced back to Africa, that actually preceded the establishment of the Catholic Church and the practice.  


Females are inseminated and afterward, carry, deliver, nurse and raise the babies and are soon after are forced into the background.  All too often the feminine voice has been completely ignored, or met with disdain.  When it came down to  some of the ridiculous choices and policies that have been put into place by objectionable males, I have to wonder how the world would have progressed if that had not been the case.     


How advanced we would be as a people, all humans that is, had it not been for the historical and ongoing suppression of the feminine voice.  Perhaps, there would have been a Pelopennesian, American  or Great War for that matter.  And perhaps there would not be any weapons of mass destruction ....  or no one, who knows, would have ever received a black eye.


Speaking of discovering hidden treasures, I suspect that someday, someone will discover a treasure has been with us for centuries, and at the same time ignored, given that we did not understand its value.  It is truly amazing, the amount of money that has been spent by American decision and policy makers to foment war.  The last I heard, the amount that American politicians expend to engage in war, equals that of all other nations of the world.  Er her!  And people are starving?  Mr. Boehner and his crowd would ask, and what is your point?.  


On the other hand, it is equally amazing just how small of an investment the same males will invest in bringing in addressing legitimate social issues.  Why is that the strong male warrior fears women?  I suppose that it has to do with an innate fear of  the purported weaker vessels.


Am I unique in this regard?   well, to be honest, I am doing a better job today, not perfect, than I did prior to my epiphany.  I began, as most males that I knew did, with an intrinsic understanding that I was supposed to dominate my female counterpart, in other words, I was to be, "Da Man", and God planned it that way.  So, like most males, my primary objective in life was to be "Da Man".  I can still recall when I was in the 5th grade,  when my male 5th grade teacher taught our elementary school class about the about the dominance of males, and the recessivness of females. 


The idea of female suppression, not only in this instance, but at church, at home and everywhere else, it would seem, even by women, was either being taught or re-enforced at churches, in schools and everywhere else.  Most of us can recall the scene in the blockbuster movie, The Color Purple, when the character Ms. Ciely, a female, instructed her step-son Harpo, that he should beat his wife.  At the same time, Ms. Ciely, was experiencing the same kind of brutality and suppression from her husband who was Harpo's father.  Harpo came to Ceily, to learn what he needed to do about his wife who refused to submit to him.


The movie, art imitating life, was both shocking and in some instances reveling.  It caused me to think more about the nature vs nurture argument, when it comes to female suppression by both males and even females.  And the latter is even more pointed, when it comes to ones religious indoctrination and persuasion (for all of us know that God "a Spirit", was somehow "a male Spirit that elected not to, for some reason, thave a divine Spirit wife".  but the rest of us males, were expected to dominate our women)!  Er herm!  And, the females were supposed to submit.  


And  again, whether it was nature or nurture, I lived up to expectation, and made sure that in every area of my youthful life, I did all that I could to ensure that I outran, out talked, out achieved ... my female counterparts.  I can still recall an incident during prepubescence,  when my female cousin, who was the same age as I was, showed up at our house, and it was proudly announced that she could tie her shoes. 


I immediately got down on my knees, and tied my shoes for the first time in my life.  Er herm!  In other words, no female was going to tie her shoes before I could tie my shoes.  What was up with that, I showed her? 


Also, no female was going to outrun me ... I made sure of that.  At some point I discovered that I had a real problem, and even to this day, I haven't fully resolved the religious-cultural shaping, that I received and accepted as a child.  However, I continue to navigate throughout the rich [mindfield] of  males and Ms. Ciely females, who still try to tell me what I am supposed to be doing, or how I should behave from their points of view.   


There are females who still expect to be dominated by males, and males who feel better, after the have dominated a female.  While working through this process,  I tend not to date at all now.  Frankly, I have  not had a girlfriend, been married or dated for years, and frankly, I kind of like it this way.  Don't get me wrong, I still look, hmm baby!  Sorry Lord.  


Move over Jesus, and the Apostle Paul, I'm doing what you two did, and I found out long ago, that what I really like to do is to watch sports or spend time in Lake Tahoe or Hawaii!


Now don't get me wrong, good-looking stud that I am with an ego (and a slight bulge), 'Oh yeah, I can still get a girlfriend anytime that I want one", er herm!  But having said that I discovered a long time ago that it is simpler to walk alone, no arguments and zero expectations, or male/female relationship confusion.    


However, I have always had friends, enemies ... that were and some still are not comfortable with my decision to walk alone.  I often find myself being labeled  gay, mostly by females (and the fact that i live in the Gay Area, doesn't help).  Why females?  Well, from what I can determine, if you don't want one of them, then something must be wrong with you.  More of that Ms. Ciely confusion I call it. 

On the other hand, I haven't spent a single minute desiring to or being gay.   On the other hand, according to several males in the area, who know nothing about my non-existent sex life, I hear that I am some kind of a lover stud, who is hitting it four times a day.  Er herm!  Now don't misunderstand me, I do have an ego, and would likely hit it more than one time a day, er herm <-:)-


I often wonder, where does this stuff come from, given that I don't waste a minute of my life wondering or caring about someone else's sex life, so why are so many people concerned about mine, other than it being a part of this male-female confusion dynamic.  Frankly, I am still flattered by the 3 or 4 females that I once dated, who asked, why haven't you tried anything with me?  


Back in the day when I was dating, I cannot tell you how many times I was asked by Christian women, who I dated at the time, why I never tried to do anything with them. And some of them even asked me, "are you gay", as if to say that anyone who wasn't after their pants, had to be gay!  What an ego.  I reminded them on most every occasion, (well there was that one time)  er herm, aren't we supposed to be Christians?


I suppose that it would be humorous, if it wasn't  for the fact that what I have been experiencing at the hands of both females and males, points to a deeper historical problem, that has to do with the confusion inherent in the male female dynamic.  Have you ever noticed that the more powerful males become politically, that the more sexual scandals are associated with them?   Who Da Man?  It was just announced earlier today, that another Representative, not Mr. Wiener, has to step down because of sexual impropriety.


to be continued ...  Male leadership?  There is more out of control testosterone, in Washington DC, I suspect than anywhere else on the planet ...  We had better get more women down there, if we expect to survive dominant male leadership like John Bonehead and others in Washington DC.  And if you are offended by my adroitness, you know preachers aren't suppose to say certain things, get over it - someone needs to keep it real!


Next:  More on the historical failure of male-dominant leadership!


Solomon


Kathleen Barry, Professor Emerita of Penn State University. Barry's latest book, Unmaking War, Remaking Men, 
Solomon


Check out Kathleen Barry's Site:
Her book:  Unmaking War Unmaking Men
http://www.kathleenbarry.net

Monday, July 18, 2011

God for Sale in The Modern Day American Capitalist Church System

Why is it, that most people are not buying God anymore, with the exception of  the poor and the prosperous, or other individuals who enrich themselves by selling God?  Is it what they are selling, or the way that they are selling it that matters and motivates individuals to buy, or to pass on the sale?   Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:28.  


Secularists also have the right to test what is being taught in religious circles.  If we were to ever admit it, we have made a lot of mistakes.   I wish that more religious people would test things, even when it comes to religion, before trying to sell our belief systems, that vary, to other people.  I deeply admire individuals or groups who are simply seeking after what is real!


Seek the truth, I believe, and it will find you, even the ones who believe that already know the truth!
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I. Pedaling God and Selling Religion: The Name of the God of the West is Money and IT is the Real American Idol.
Is there something wrong with the sales force, or the techniques that are being employed to sell God to the masses?   Today's thinking person is neither buying God, nor the sales force, and with good reason I might add.  I seriously doubt whether God is buying it either.

I had the distinct pleasure of addressing an audience, of mostly television ministers, at a weekend stay over gathering, in Hunt Valley Maryland, roughly 4 years ago.  The subject of my brief polemic was, American Capitalist Church Syndrome. 


My talking points were taken from a sermon that I preached in Seaside  California several years before.  Even though I received applause from the minister filled audience, was taken to lunch ... that was not the reason for my brief polemic.  Frankly, I believed then, just as I do now, that the wheels have come off in many of capitalist America's, capitalist churches.  
And apparently, this auditorium full of ministers agreed with me, get it ministers aren't buying it either.
The god of too many American churches today, appears to be 'the unabashed god of the acquisition of wealth by religious means'.  After a brief pause, the pastors who voiced their opinions, after I finished stated,  "you are right, some of our ministers have gone too far, and there are individuals that have chosen ministry as a profession, because of the wealth that could be accrued from preaching"                 


It  was even acknowledged that several men of the cloth confessed ahead of time,  explained the reason why they chose to become ministers, in the first place.  Some said:  "where else can you earn this kind of money, simply for putting on a suit and talking each Sunday".  Pimping Jesus?  


Now think about the implications of all of this, given what had been disclosed:  In other words, while their parishioners were scuffling to make ends meet, these airplane flying, Rolls Royce buying, Cartier jewelry adorning, designer suit and gown wearing, gourmet food eating, seven thousand dollar hairdo adorners  ... were living large.  And at the same time they were insisting that the flocks that they were fleecing, bring more money to his or her Holiness God (and in this context, God appeared to be any one of them).  


These guys and gals, put Reverend Ike to shame, and are not too far behind the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Reverend Moon, the Late Daddy Grace ...  it was, and still is a shameful period for the so called  church of God.  These fellas could motivate God to become an atheist!


Reverend Billy Graham, I understand, insisted that his compensation be kept in line with the average income of his parishioners.   Kudos to the Reverend Graham, however, his attitude differs far and wide from many  of today's CEO preachers, who were far less talented and their reaches were far less spread out.  But back to Hunt Valley Maryland.


I also pointed out to this august body, that religious organizations are often influenced by the political and economic systems in which they thrive.  For example, I said, a church that exists in a capitalist system, will differ in many respects from a church in a non-capitalist nation.   


For example, in America, where we tend to worship 'the American idol', money, along with its companion political system that has become an idol in its own right, money is king in and outside of the Temple.  In the American prosperity system, which is analogous to the Church of American prosperity, God and wealth in both scenarios, go hand in hand.   However, which flag will Americans die for first, the American flag or God's?


For just as it occurred in the past, the spirit of 'God and money together', are still being exchanged in much the same way that the moneychangers, exchanged currency in the Temple at God in Jerusalem. 
God, and money, have long been a part of America's secular, and religious cultural ethos.    
Jesus, drove the moneychangers ...  out of the Temple Court, reminding them that God's house (and he included the Temple Court in his proclamation), shall be called a House of Prayer".  In many American churches today, all too often the parishioners are told that what God really wants is to be worshipped with the their  sacrifice of  unrighteous mammon!  


However, does money really answer all things?  Read the proverbs of King Solomon, and you will find him saying just that.   Is it the money, American money in this context, that God really craves?  Or, similar to the Temple priests in Jesus' time, or the papacy in Rome during another time, or looking all the way to Eli - politics and wealth appear to be inextricably tied to the American capitalist system and ''show me the money priesthood" of today!     


About the same time that I addressed the ministers in Hunt Valley, the Christian evangelical church had gone through its latest iteration of, "Let me expand my territory, get rich ... prayer of Jabez".  Just about a decade before, the Abundant Life ministry was the craze that  consumed most American capitalist church leaders.  


These capitalist ministers, maintained that God wanted his people to be rich,, prosperous, fat and happy - what they were really doing was explaining away the fact that they intended to be enriched on the backs of their parishioners. 


And as result, church members, unabashedly, began engaging in   networking, selling, buying, advertising in the church and often in the vestibules, christian works ministries.  And the prosperity preachers, I won't name any names, assured their audiences that God wanted them to prosper financially, so that they could give more to the church (them).   Move over Reverend Ike ...  One of my favorite preacher business types, are the ministers who promote their sermons on CD, in the pulpit, just before they begin preaching. Eek!
JC, during a period, which is beginning to taper off thank God, stood for Jesus Capitalist, instead of Jesus Christ or Jesus anointed! 
And just how were these ministers of  the 'sell me that power 'Annanias Sect', getting away with it?  To be frank, the wave of individuals who became members of churches, during the Mega Movement (sounds like something that one does in private), didn't actually join for God's sake, they joined for money/businesses sake.


One thing that was accomplished was also this, church became cool during that period, you could dress down, play funky music, become a part of religious sanctioned dating services, pursue wealth, sell in the church ...  


During a discussion that I was engaged in with a men's prayer group early one morning in Centerville Virginia, the pastor admitted that none of what was written in the books or recorded on the tapes, with regard to the indulgent, Prayer of Jabez craze, came true for him, even though he followed the accompanying instructions.  Who made the most money, the authors of the modern day book with film rights, Raptured, The Davinci Code or the Prayer of Jabez merchandising.


The fact of the matter is that too many Americans joined the church during the networking, Prayer of Jabez, get rich, capitalism gone amok in religion period.  And those who imbibed, did so, in order to acquire wealth, networking capital and 'to think and grow rich'.  The latter is the God that they have been waiting for.  Help ME, to enlarge MY Territory!  


I was working in Washington DC at the time, when Bishop T.D. Jakes was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "The church is a business".  And most people believed that a business, was exactly what he meant.  Now, I believe that what the Bishop was doing, was a playful  attempt at engaging in a play on words, which when interpreted meant, that the church was a 'busy-ness'. 


But still, his comment was offensive to individuals who had been taught that the church was a spiritual organization and God's body
Whatever he was doing offended Washingtonians, and within a few days his comments appeared in the Washington Post as follows, "Bishop Jakes said, that the church is a business".   What happened to the church was 'a spiritual organism', or a body of baptized believers', as many Christians were taught to believe?


The Bishop's comments were untimely, to say the least.  Did he really say it:  Yes, he did - I was there sitting with a group of ministers when, not only he, but his accomplices said it to. 


During the same time, a slew of new converts were added to church rolls, and dozens of magnificent mega-structures popped up around the nation, (some of them are being foreclosed upon today, following 2 decades of abundant life, expand my territory and church is a business teaching.   It would appear that God hasn't been paying his bills, just collecting moolah. 


Sadly, the influx of people who came at the time, were motivated by the teachings of the God of wealth ministries, and where are they today.  Kweflo Dollar, actually had church parishioners waving currency, that was held in their hands in the air, while shouting, "The Money Is Coming".


I got into a heated debated with one of his parishioners during a trip to Buckhead Georgia several years ago.  While we were in flight, she let me know that she did not appreciate me talking about the Dollar Man.  Whatever happened, I thought to, "Jesus is coming", isn't that what believers, especially Christians were taught to expect, Jesus, not money, before.  Reverend Dollar is appropriately named Dollar.  Along with the American Idol, he is the American dollar preacher!


Sadly, smaller churches began to lose their members to 'the money is coming', networking, expand my territory, bring me some seed money, drive a luxury car, mega ministries.  In fact, some of the smaller churches were cleaned out - their people followed 'the money is coming ministers', instead.  


Parishioners learned and sought after a new paradigm, and subsequently joined 'the church of the God of the money stream', in the instances where their former ministers would not adapt to the new contemporary God of the money ministries.. 


Many other evangelical preachers, teachers and writers caught the wave, and their congregations and followers began to explode, well grow then. All of the sudden, the new CEO minister and his ministry swelled to incalculable numbers.  A ministry with one thousand members became a small congregation, having been replaced by ministries with tens of thousands of ministers and sprawling campuses.  


Were the transplanted members of new mega churches there because they were sent, or was it because they went where the action was.  In the book of St. Matthew, Jesus warned the people about following rumors with respect to where Jesus was, in the desert ...


A few years ago, Ted Koppel while on location in the Republic of China, asked a native Chinese convert, why he chose to become a  Christian?  The man didn't hesitate, his answer was short, rapid and sweet, he answered "Because Christians have all the money"!  


One has to wonder, if Jesus were here today, would he overturn the offering tables in most Christian capitalist churches and in their vestibules, or how about in the family life center, particularly the ones that serve alcohol one night, and host Alanon and Alcohol Anonymous the next night?   Or would he on the other hand, remind today's church leaders that his house was and is still to be called a 'House of Prayer', not a get rich scheme?  


II. The Danger of Mixing the Two
I can recall when a mega church in Maryland, was also publicly exposed in the Washington Post newspapers.  The public was informed, as a result of a news article, that this unnamed mega church had applied for a liquor license for its Family Life Center.  Well, what could the church do under the circumstances?  


In order to rent out the space in the Family Life center for different event, in order to accrue more wealth for the church (the groups who wanted to rent the Family Center, that sat on church property, wanted to serve liquor when they rented the Family Life Center).  Well, in order to break even, the church's board decided, well then liquor it is.  The embarrassing article in the Washington Post resulted in their having a change of mind.  Sadly, they had to be embarrassed by a secular newspapers to change their minds


Oh, what a slippery slope .. wouldn't you agree?  Besides, what if one of the drunk visitors left the Family Life Center, crossed the street, rode and fell off of a ride at Six Flags?  That would have been most embarrassing.  Imagine how that article would have read in the Washington post?


Luke, there is a disturbance in the force, or better yet a spirit of error in the church today, I believe, and that could explain, why only the groups that I mentioned above, are still coming to the church or believe that there is a real God.  These people are so amused by God's sales force, that tend to stay away!


And it crept into the American church while men and women were sleeping.  In too many Christian churches today, "it is all about the Benjamin's, and the size of the Congregation".  And, guess what, the new paradigm has been  working for several decades now?  However, of late, the air is beginning to come out of the American capitalist church's sails. 


IN God We Trust is inscribed on the back of American currency.  The real question is this:  Is it God or the money that Americans trust in.  The American preacher, too many of them, teach their people that the God that they are selling, actually wants more and more of the unrighteousness mammon.   After all, God cannot build his house without money, correct?  Interestingly enough, God's last instruction to his disciples before departing was, to go to Jerusalem and wait for an infilling of the Holy Spirit. 


Get it?  Jesus, did not send his people to 'the Temple' or to Synagogues, instead he sent them to a room, without any apparent religious connotations or accoutrement.  He ignored the order of Priests, Levites and Rabbis, instead, he chose to start something new.  I suspect that we are just about at the point where we are going to have to start something new, or to put it another way, to go back to the future perhaps.  


Today's religious system in America, is any many respects identical to the secular system that it is a part of, and just as you have the have and have not citizens, you also have the have and the have not churches, and Christians.


Am I jealous of a church that has thousands of members, who have been brought there given the allure of belonging to a prosperous church, that promises a prosperous return on the investment in it, for its members?  Answer, nope!  What I am concerned about is this, that too many  individuals in America's unabashed American capitalist churches, are where they are in order to worship the God of prosperity, and waiting to see what they will get in return by doing so.  In other words, they are looking for a financial return on their investments of time, tithes, offerings, sacrificial offerings, monetary pledges .... 


Jesus informed his disciples, that the  crowds that were following him, were only following him, much like the crowds of today, for food and miracles.  It any wonder, that thinking individuals who have the ability to see through this ruse, do not accept American Christianity as being viable, neither the institution, its God of mammon nor its sale force.  


I don't know Ananias, it would appear that you are not the only one who sought after an ability to perform miracles, for example by laying  hands on people, so that you could enrich yourself.  I thought we were past that before, but anymore, I know that we are not.


Remember, when Ananias, after seeing the working of the Holy Spirit immediately asked the Apostles to , "sell me some of that power so that on who I lay my hands ..."  In other words, ching ching, he immediately, recognized how he could cash in using the name of the Lord!  Perhaps he, prophetically, saw, dollar signs!


The Apostles, rebuked him for demeaning the gifts and the power of God, that he desired to use for financial gain.  Today's Apostles don't rebuke anymore, instead they are encouraging individuals, all to often, to use whatever gifts they possess, in order to accrue wealth for themselves and the ministry.  


In other words, preaching, teaching, the laying on of hands, singing ... is there for financial gain.  Richard Pryor, and the Church of What's Happening Now, wasn't too far off from many religious churches today.  God wants you to give until it hurts, some pastors teach their congregations.  It hurts alright, but not for the reasons that they think!


I have also been a part of religious services, where receiving the offering, outlasts the time allotted for the sermon and prayer.  In fact, one minister in our nation's Capitol, explained what he was going to do beforehand, when he was invited to preach to a mega audience one Sunday Morning.  


The New York minister said, I am going to speak for only 5 minutes, and afterwards, I am going to pray for the people, however, with this caveat, everyone who desires prayer, must bring me $101, if they wish to be prayed for,Er herm!!



Let me see, conversion, or pay your way, which is it, I thought?  The other side could make a fair argument, by saying, where a person's treasure is, there will his heart be also.  And therefore, when he or she gives their money to the church, a seed offering, he or she is also giving their heart to God?  So what is it that God wants?  Does God really need money, or is that simply a man made construct.  


And what about the tithe and offering that many of these parishioners gave in the offering earlier, wasn't it worth a healing, and now God wants another one-hundred and ten, aherm.  And before you criticize the church, Senator Orrin Hatch, has been one of its guest, ministerial, lecturers.


III. The Test: Prove All Things
The secularists that I have listened to, believe it or not, do not seem to have an argument with God, they simply do not believe that there is a God, and there is a difference, if you listen closely to what they are saying.  For what they are really saying is, I don't believe in what the sales force is trying to sell me.  True secularists believe that God has been made up over a period of time, as a result of fear, myth, misconstructions, religious zealotry, fear .


And when secularists, observe the religious sales force of today, purportedly, but not always God's sales force in actuality, they feel even more convinced that there is no God.   Well, consider what the religious world has demonstrated over 6,000 years, when it comes to God, and I have already given you several examples. 


I find that at times, that in an unusual kind of way, my mind operates more like that of the atheist in this regard:  I'm not sure that religious groups and individuals know what God is either.  Seeing how too many religious individuals and organizations positions God as an invisible, angry, strident entity that hopes that people will fall, so that he can ultimately burn them up in the end, or raise money.  


And isn't that the reason that most individuals surrender to God, either for the benefits, wish fulfillment, or to avoid any negative sanctions.  .


I believe that the entity, for lack of a better term, that we refer to in Christianity as God, is much bigger than the God of bring me some money, drink some juice on Sunday, fulfill my wishes, or I will burn you in an everlasting lake of fire God ...  The neat little package that we have put together to sell God, speaks to a God of human wish fulfillment and rewards, or negative sanctions.  In other words, humans are taught to believe and to worship God, in order to get what they want, to be healthy and happy, and to avoid punishment.


And where most religious groups have stopped, because they already know God, I am under the impression that the real work has just begun.  And, the latter includes moving beyond some of the primitive and primordial ideas, myths and legends that most religious people still wish to associates themselves with, as opposed to pursuing what is real.  


what has been passed down by myth, religious tradition or otherwise, is a good start for a beginner, but for someone who loves the truth, likely dishonors God.    


As I mentioned before in several of my other writings, religious people, particularly in the Christian tradition, are still awed by one's ability to have a spirit leave one mentally ill individual, go into a herd of pigs and to run down the hill ...


And, religious people, in the Christian tradition, are excited over the ability to convert water into wine, and there are other examples that I could refer to that excites Christians. 


But how about synchronicity, the ability to merge with and to understand what the will of what we refer to as the divine is ... but for heaven's sake, we don't need a God of the offering plate, or one to help us to expand 'our territories'.  I can think of many individuals who have been satisfied with, and able to love a God, who left them in abject poverty or cripple. 


Others, I know of, their territories were never enlarged, but on the other hand were satisfied with what they had, even birth defects, congenital blindness, encephalitis ...  as opposed to believing only and up to a God that would supply their needs or enrich them.    


I am especially concerned about individuals from my own racial group, who oftentimes,  know very little about about their own history, and therefore are too quick to embrace the traditions and beliefs of other racial groups, simply because the collective memory of their own traditions have been lost.


Most black churches, from the time that Bishop Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal church, followed the God of the Eurocentric model of Christianity. 


On the other hand, another religious icon, the late Bishop T. W. Phillips, from Mobile Alabama, named the religious organization that he began as, the Ethiopian Overcoming Holiness Church.  Frankly, both Bishops are to be commended for what they started.


However, the Ethiopian model resonates with me, because in the Christian bible, the Holy Spirit specifically dispatched, Deacon Evangelist Philip, to go into the Negev and to connect with this black Ethiopian.  


Get it, the spirit sent Phillip, directly to an African, who apparently was responsible for introducing Christianity into various parts of Akeebaland (Africa).   The Spirit did not instruct the African to find it, by taking a detour through Europe.  Perhaps, twain the two would have met someday, who knows?  However, we will never know now, will we?    The Eurocentric model and its God, has always been a God of money.  


Most African Americans, have come through churches, even with black leaders, that have the Eurocentric imprint on them.  Bishop T.W. Phillips, not a racist, once chided black Christians by saying, "Anything that a white man will do, you will do"!  The comment was not meant, I believe, to disparage whites.  


However, it was to say that blacks lacked a history of their own, and therefore blacks were simply too accepting of and often simply modeling the behaviors of their counterparts, without applying any critical thinking to what they were doing.  


Now if you look around you, particularly in an ethnically diverse nation such as the United States is, you would notice that other cultures assimilate only to a certain extent.  And the fact that their assimilation is limited, is not considered to be  racist, or a rejection of the dominant culture.    On the other hand, the reason that most cultures continues to practice what has been a  part of their historical cultural ethos, is to retain, and to strengthen their uniqueness.  God apparently liked different flavors, bone structures, patois ...


Black Christians, with the exception of Coptic Christians and a few other minor groups, have appropriated the religion of the God of Capitalism.  Informed blacks, on the other hand, simply want to worship a more balanced God.  The Nation of Islam, provided a cultural-religious ethos for blacks, wherein the black man was considered to be a whole man.


And that relationship was near perfect, but not exactly.  Why?  Blacks, some of them have discovered that even within Islam, that in certain circles they are still viewed as inferiors.  Sadly, even in Islam, blacks have once again, accepted someone elses understanding of what God is, and what God wants, instead of making the effort to find that out for themselves!


So, where is the just God of blacks, females, non-whites in the West or in other cultures?  Where is the God that relies less on the unrighteous mammon, instead of love, peace and grace?  Some individuals will ask, "well, if there is a God, how come he stands by and watches all of the tragic events take place, and does not intervene, particularly, if he is a God of love and judgment'?  I suspect that is a fair question.  It certainly is reasonable in light of all that is taught in most religious circles about God.  


The answer could be, and I believe that it is, that religious groups today, have been left back.  By left back I mean, that similar to what children used to experience, when I was in school, if you underperformed, it was not uncommon for a student to be told that they would have to 'be left back' in order to repeat a certain grade level.


When I consider religion, not just Christianity, and where religious groups and people are today, it appears to me that religion is comprised of individuals who have been left back. And because we are so retrograde in terms of behavior and understanding, it is hard for the individuals that we are trying to sell God, to take us seriously.  


Until we move beyond judgmental, retrograde teachings, greed, wish fulfillment ...  I suspect that we will continue to draw converts from a limited pool of the gullible, the impressionable, the  unreasonable and those who wish to get rich!


To be fair, we have done a lot of great things on earth, however, in some senses, we keep going around the same mountain over and over again, whereas we should have taken our point of departure long ago, and have become far more advanced as a people, or whatever else we should have become by now, transformed perhaps.


If we ever get to that point, we will be more advanced and better equipped to explain to would be converts, or even cynics, why they should listen to us, instead of relying on superior research, scholarship and positive proof, of the kind on which they can base their beliefs.  Look at us, look at our history, who would trust us to provide them with the answers that apply to the universe or to God.


Isn't that a reasonable position?   What we refer to as God, is so much bigger than what we are attempting to sell, a God of religion only.   I often wonder, will religion or religious people ever get past this stage in order to explore the vastness of whatever this God thing, actually turns out to be.


Does a minister, within God's sales force, know when he has gone too far?  Here is one way to tell.  When people are starving, living outdoors, broken-hearted (even members of your congregations), and you are driving a Rolls Royce, have your own airplane along with a fat bank account in addition to one of the largest estates in the nation, you might want to look in the rear view mirror, because something is amiss!


And you are God's salesperson?  Or are you a salesperson of a Babylonian, Jewish, Pagan, American dollar ...god?


Solomon


Now some of you are thinking that Solomon is upset because he didn't get his. But, au contraire mon frere.  Frankly, I am writing because I am intrigued by what has been and is still taking place in today's church. Frankly, I am a skeptic of the church, not what we refer to as God.   I am also a church historian, one with keen insight and an ability to know when the ship has been or is being steered off course.  Why did our Chinese Christian friend become a Christian again, he did so for the love of money god! 


Hopefully, when most of the 'selling God in order to get rich ministers' get to heaven, the ones who are guilty of doing so, hopefully, will be able to afford their mansions in the sky too!  


Peace & grace,

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Ten Round Knockout: Perhaps

It Is Not Too Late To Score A Victory
and To Retain Your Crown President
Obama!   


Four years ago, I disagreed with the majority of my peers about presidential candidate Barack Obama. I explained to all of them, that one speech at a Democratic Convention, “did not a President make”. Now, to about 75% of my challengers, my protest fell on death ears. Why? Roughly 75% of my challengers were black.

And in the manner that white people had historically voted for whites in the past, now finally, it was the black man and woman's turn to pay them back and vote, from what I could tell, for a black man. Actually he was not 100% black, however, half and half qualified him to be classified as black by most whites and blacks.

And of course, if you ask the average black man what color Jesus was, they would tell you that he was black! And if you asked a non-black person what color Jesus was, they would say, 'he wasn't black'!

I am beginning to sound like a broken record I know, however, as far as I was concerned, I didn't care what color he was – I simply believed that the man needed to acquire more experience, so that he would not end up hurting the rest of us anymore than we had already been hurt by the Republicans and their insouciant leaders.

Come on now, Vice President Dan Quayle, George H. Bush Jr., Sarah Palin on deck …?

Well, my prediction that he needed 4 more years to get ready to become President, and that he should have been an understudy on then Senator Candidate Hillary Clinton's ticket, may have proven to be right. Here we are 3 years later, well close enough, and the President has finally begun to sound presidential. Last night, in his most recent fight with the obstructionist's on the Right, the President told them that they had until midnight, well 24 more hours to either get on board, or to get out of town.

Alright now, I thought, the man finally stood up, and began to sound Presidential. Look, the President needs to leave that suave nice boy sophisticate persona, back at Harvard, and get some swagger. Why? We don't need a Rock Star, we need someone who can and will stand up to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy in our nation, and to score more knockouts, in behalves of the American people. 


And seeing how he stopped the only person that would have done so before, then Senator Hillary Clinton, he needs to do what he stopped her from doing, by putting the members of the minority right-wing-conspiracy, back into their place.

Here is my advice to our young President, a man who is beginning to show some life closer to his fourth year in office, just as I predicted: “Fight Mr. President”! For when you think about it, what do you have to lose anyway? It doesn't matter that for 2.5 years, you seemed to have believed that because you were so sweet, and played the conciliatory role, that the Republicans were going to capitulate or cease from their obstructionist's policies and practices, or to do away with their "How to Defeat Democrat's Republican Playbook, that works every time!

However, time is a great teacher isn't it? The Republicans haven't capitulated, and they never will – do you get it now? You should have learned by now that you will never satisfy the Republican wrong. - these guys and gals are dyed-in-the wool Republican ideologues, and they have a singular focus.  They wake up everyday and pray to the Republican Idol, asking it, how can I knock off a Democrat or two today, especially their evil leader, 'a brother from another mother'?

They are dyed-in-the-wool obstructionists, and they intend to oppose you and any non-Republicans in everything that they do.   Okay, you want to be Mr. Nice guy? Well, that is okay for you because you are wealthy and powerful just like they are, and you even have a security team to protect you. However, who will fight for, defend and protect the little gals and guys from the great unwashed. Oh, and by the way, I am not one of the little guys – I will take any of them on any day and at any time.

Ironically, I debated one of them during the run up to the election, several years ago. Once, an apologist for the Right, ended his defense of the Republican Right, he could not answer this simple question, “then why sir, if they are so right, and you are one of them, are you living in a homeless shelter"? Silence? You betcha!

Anyone who knows anything about our nation's capitol, knows that it is not a place for nice guys, neither on the streets, nor on The Hill. The way I see it, the President is already in the 10th round of his administration, anyway.  He has been hurt and there are only 2 more rounds to go. And, even though he has been wobbled since the mid-term election ended, a last minute knock out could end up scoring a huge victory for him and the rest of the people, that he represents.

And if it helps, the President should order and watch the infamous Mike Weaver/Big John Tate fight; it was a classic. In it you will see how Big John Tate, like the Big Money Republicans have done to the President in the early rounds, cleaned Weaver's clock, nearly every round. 

And just as Weaver sent Big John back to Texas, remind you of President George Bush Jr. and the former Republican House and Senate, the President can send his powerless opponents packing to Ohio, Kentucky ...  Big John Tate was not only knocked down, he was knocked out, and afterwards, was never the same again.


In fact, he stayed out for nearly half-way through another uncounted round. When he came to, he had no idea what hit him. I know the President would prefer to treat his job like a gentleman who is playing golf or basketball, however, there are rarely any nice guys in politics, that won't do what they have to in, order to get what they want.  


The President has got to learn to get down, dirty, jab and to land a punch knockout punch.  Until recently, he hasn't been throwing any punches, much less landing any – he has been lying on the ropes, getting hit and appears to be punch drunk. The President needs to be reminded that he was, and could still be the people's champion. 


It is not too late to reclaim the Presidential crown, however, the rope-a-dope strategy is not working! There must be a few leftover books on pugilism, lying around in the Oval Office, or at the Presidential Library.  Surely, President Clinton, Richard Nixon and or other Republican President's, must have left a few behind!

The Rev

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bringing Down the (White) House & America Held Hostage

They Had Nearly Eight Years to Prepare for this (given the tax breaks that they received over the past 8-years), and before the next Republican imposed disaster could occur - I would call that an ample Republican headstart. 


Therefore, it is not of any concern , to the modern-day 'Do nothing but Filibuster Party',  to make choices that will have a deleterious impact on all other Americans, who did not receive 8 years of tax cut subsidies!


It occurred to me earlier this evening, that the former Whig turned Republican Mafioso Party,  America's modern day radical fringe Party,  are simply repeating history.

Not since former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's Contract With America revolution of 2 decades ago, have we seen so many angry Republican men, and today women too.  And can someone explain to me what do they have to be so angry about? Again, they are secure, and their Party is responsible, more than anyone or any other Party, for what has transpired in America, since Ronald Reagan's diminutive administration was in power?  Or, are they simply angry because they are not completely in charge, to do more damage, in Washington?  Whatever the cause, America is being held hostage by radical republicans, and less than 300 republicans on Capitol Hill.


We have got to take the nation back and to rid ourselves of the scourge!
_________________________________

The outlandish behavior of  Republicans, led by Representatives Mitch McConnell, Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, Anne Coulter and all of the rest of the gaggle of venal Republican malcontents, are the reason for the current state of affairs in America as well as in Congress, the White House, and your and my house.   

Can someone tell me, what did Benedict Arnold have on the modern day Whig turned Republican Party American  traitors?  Do you suppose that any of these jokers, ever get on their knees and pray?  Here is a question for you:  What do you get, when you cross an Republican elephant with a non-Republican donkey?   Answer:  You don't get anything done!


One thing for sure is, that these folks are not Americans first, they are "Republicans now, and Republicans forever more"!  


Their anti-American behavior also begs the question, will these spoiled angry children on the Right,  ever grow up and cease their obstructionist practices in deference to what the rest of America wants or desire?

I thought before, that The Angry Men's Party, was decapitated when Newt and subsequently George Bush Jr. and the Republican members of Congress were vanquished from power in the House and Senate, just five years ago.  However, however, they're back, having not learned a thing since the last time that we tossed them, along with the rest of the 'Bushtanista Party', from power!    


There was a housecleaning alright, however the Republican obstructionists, to my chagrin, were able to return to power when the American people caved in for the third time.   And how did they, the tyrannical Republican fringe, manage to regain control of the power in the Senate, after such a terrible display?   The answer is in the question, for just as Benedict Arnold and other traitors had sympathizers, the radical Republicans have a reliable group of Republican sympathizers on the Left.  


Here is an ironic twist, I suspect that if the economy were to be brought due given the actions of the anti-American radical Republican fringe, that even though the majority of Americans would suffer, they would still blame the Left, for America's failure.  


I wonder what would William F. Buckley, or Senator Barry Goldwater have to say, if they were both still alive to witness the current sideshow that is being put on by members of their Grand old Party.  I'm certain that if Ronald Reagan were here, he would be ecstatic, given that he is responsible, in a broader sense, for what we are witnessing now with his legacy Party.  


Republican tactics, always seem to work to their advantage, particularly when dealing with a politically naive and illiterate American electorate.  Imagine if a Republican were to walk up from behind, and stab a Democrat in the back, something that they have been doing every time that they have taken hold of the reigns of power in this nation of ours?  And what would the Democrat do?  


He would turnaround and blame the stabbing on a Democrat, even if there weren't any Democrats in sight.   And the strategy has essentially worked, for as far back as I can remember.  And I became politically aware of the American process, when John F. Kennedy ran against Richard Milhouse Nixon.  Kids, probably Republican kids, would punch you, if you weren't against Kennedy and voting for, almost got impeached, but got out of town first, Richard Nixon.


Democrats and Republicans together, after knowing that they were guilty, absolved the Republicans of any wrong-doing since Nixon and Watergate, right down to Ronald Watergate Reagan, George H. Bush Jr. and all Republican led Congresses over the past 40 years. Republicans are adept at employing 'The Twinkie Defense', when they are giving of committing murder, or better yet, the OJ defense.  
For even if the gloves fit, they are still acquitted!


The same tactics always seem to work however, because Republicans know how to push non-Republican's buttons, which is typically ' the sky is falling fear button', that customarily results in Americans, who ought to know better, switching sides. 


Zel Miller of late, and Twinkle Toes, Senator Joe Lieberman, could tell you something about that.  By the way Joe, choose which side you are going to be on - and to think that I voted for that guy before, well actually, my vote was for Al Gore.  Joe, happened to be on the ticket.


Yes, the sky is falling, however, who is responsible for its fall?  How 'bout them, bring the government down, permit the nation to default and allow the rest of America to implode, economically Republcians?  Are these  Republican guys, gals and Benedict Arnolds, anti American or what?
Will their sophists leaders, John Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Grover Norquist, Annie 'Shoot 'em up Oakley' Coulter, Rush to Judgment Limbaugh, T-Party Republicans … instructing the rest, when will the rest of the Party began behaving like responsible citizens again, as opposed to one large hate group?
 What we need are some Americans on the other side, to begin behaving like concerned Americans, and they need to begin doing so, sooner than later!   And once again, why should they learn to behave?  The answer is because, they are supposed to be patriotic Americans, and in deference to the majority of America's citizen's, they have had a nearly a decade tax-break headstart.
Isn't it amazing that the same group, never cried foul, when Republican President George H. Bush Jr. continued to borrow spend, in deference to the deficit ... in order to continue 2-wars  in Iraq and Afghanistan?   So, while pushing America to engage in wars that America could not afford before that contributed to the current economic predicament, we are asked to believe that they have all of the sudden experienced a sudden stroke of being fiscally responsible, I DON'T THINK SO.  It sounds more like 'bile', get it, to me!  


If only the rest of us had been given, an 8 year head start, perhaps we could better weather the current storm, that Republicans, more than any other person or party are responsible for creating.  I am not an apologist for President Obama, however, he is not responsible for the current bleeding in America, in my opinion.  He is trying, without their cooperation, to stop what they, a woe-be-gone Party, are responsible for starting.  


And the President let it be known earlier today, that he might be ready to do what he should have done nearly 3 years ago, to stop pandering to the obstructionist Right, and to stand up to these non-compromising, right-wing nut jobs, unless he is secretly one of them.  His endorsement of Ronald Reagan's policies years ago, gave me reason to wonder..

The wound that America, and most Americans are suffering from now, is as a result of Republican profligacy, historical elitism, a penchant for ware and the mismanagement of the American treasury. These are the reasons that America is in the predicament that it finds itself in today, in particular, the American people.  And what is even more remarkable, is that despite the problems that they caused, they are already plotting to recover the 3rd Jewel, control of the White House in 2012.  
And the filibuster strategy, has resulted in their having gained a certain amount of ground, over the past 2 years alone. 
And how does that policy/strategy work with Republicans?  They simply say no to everything that the other side proposes, and then they turn around and convince the public that the other side is ineffective.  It kind of reminds you of what often takes place in sports, where you only need a good defense to be in place in order to win, if you were team were only to score a few points for themselves.


I cannot think of one thing that the Republicants have done, to benefit the majority, whenever they were in power, or the past 4 decades - well, Nixon did resign, er herm!


Will they succeed this time?  I must admit, that it is very possible that they will succeed,  given that they, The Republican fringe, knows how to push the buttons of, repeat the same behavior and expect a different result, Americans.  

I have never seen a group so adept at inveigling a group of people, even if they are still holding the smoking gun.  They will argue, that if it doesn't fit, you must acquit!  Have you heard that one before?  The problem is that all too often the glove does fit, and they, the Republicans, still get away with murder.

As I close, there remains a scintilla of hope, that the Republicans may have outdone themselves this time, however, it is still too early to tell.  I am hoping that the American people will finally see this Party for what it is, a party of anti-American anarchists and malcontents.  If the Republican Party was an American state for example, they likely would have ceded from the Union  a long time ago, and they would have taken as much of America's wealth and military might along with them.  


The Republicans don't want the people, that refuse to rubber stamp their un-American activities (remember that department in the federal government)?  Republicants, simply want America's wealth and power to remain under their control.  To the extent that America is a commonwealth to them, would be if their names were 'Common', or commonwealth! America is the means by which they can retain and  acquire wealth, in addition to all other forms of power in America and around the world. 

Clearly, these turkeys would prefer to bring down the entire economy in order to satisfy their own whims.  Am I the only one that believes that what they are doing now, ought to be considered an impeachable offense?  And isn't it amazing, how history repeats itself?  The last time that a junior Senator from the Illinois Legislature rose to power, the Whigs, the former Republican Party, opposed him and his rise to the power. 


And here we are today, a century and a half later, and the Republican Whig Party of the 21st Century, is trying to bring down another Senator turned President, who originally hailed from the Illinois (Senate) Legislature.  
What needs to happen this time, is that the Republican Whig Party needs to be done away with, and just one stroke by the American voters will finish them off, once and for all.    
Wouldn't you believe that a faction of their Party would stand up for the United States Constitution, and in so doing, support the will of the majority of the American people?  


One has to wonder, whose buttons will the American people, be pushing during the next 2 elections, McConnell or Boehner 's … a couple of knuckleheads?   If we were to elect either of these two to a higher office, when they take the oath, could someone have them to read and sign the Patriot Act as well - I'm not certain that either one of them has ever read it.  And, this is what happens, when you have second-string leadership, at the top!

Solomon