Sunday School Party Animals

My Texan Sunday School teacher was a Democrat who managed to work the Party’s platform into of every lesson to captive Baptist seminarians. Democrats ruled Texas for 100 years, voting last for Jimmy Carter in 1976. After all, “Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not on an elephant, but a donkey!” Another ancient and frequent visitor was an old geezer member of the “Temperance Movement,” spouting the evils of any alcohol. Looking back, I wish I would have listened more to the geezer but found a another Sunday class. You may say, “Jim, God could still use that teacher.” Yes, God even used the jawbone of an ass to slay the Philistines. Ergo, I know, Samson was a proto-Democrat? Don’t get me started.

How Texas Voted

I arrived in seminary in January of 1981, with the Democrats stinging from their defeat to Ronald Reagan. As I consider separation of church and state, I remember my old teacher and his taking liberty to mold young seminarians in the ideal that God was a Southern Democrat.

Republicans and Democrats need not worship together like the feuding Hatfields and the McCoys. Let us beat our political swords into bowls to catch the new rain of God’s Spirit to a thirsty world. In this we can find common ground.

-Pastor Jim

Emperor Worship

St. Peter addressed Simon Magus who attempted to convert the laying on of hands into a “for profit” (first mistyped “for prophet”, which would fit) enterprise:

20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” – Acts 8:20-23

Three false doctrines bow before the dais of emperor worship: 1. God wants you to be wealthy, 2. The wealthy politician is truly blessed by God, 3. The politician is god. Prosperity preachers serve as priests at this altar dispensing sacraments of “dough” and the “fruit of the wallet.”

The first Beatitude of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount did not teach, “Blessed are the winners, for they shall never hang with losers.” Rather Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3).

Be Blessed,

-Pastor Jim

Bulldozers for Christ

Like a Good Neighbor. There was a large white middle class church out of parking in a booming Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Older small homes of minorities landlocked the church. The church pastor and board became possessed with a plan: eliminate the houses around the church to expand the blacktop. So the plan was launched to bulldoze the homes of the Hispanic neighbors and replace them with good, Christian pavement, all the while singing, “We are Standing on Holy Ground.” “Surely, those people know we are expanding the Kingdom of God.” Meanwhile, the historic memory of the departed neighbors was buried under a fresh grave vault of hot asphalt. “Blessed are the parking attendants, for they shall be garbed in florescent green.” How was this church a neighbor to its community? [Based on at true story. Stock bulldozer image and not actual home involved.]

Sample Church Parking

Bulldozers for Christ – “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”! The church’s bulldozers were legal and financial before the real thing arrived. For some church leaders I’ve known, “bulldozer” would be an improvement.

Don’t ask me which church this was lest they shun me again from their fabulous annual “All Church Parking Lot Potluck and Hymn Sing.”

-Pastor Jim

The Pastor and the Floozy

“The issue facing us is not the left versus the right but the crisis of intolerance.”-Pastor Vincent Woolsey

Tolerance … “The pastor’s wife is a bar-fly who frequents a bar. We don’t want our church money going to a floozy … ”

So, the rumors wafted about the local teetotaling Wesleyan Methodist pastor’s wife and family, friends of mine. Visiting in their home, they came clean to me. Their only beautiful son, a toddler, had serious medical problems. As they couldn’t afford healthcare on his pastor’s chicken feed salary alone, they agreed she would take a job waiting tables at night in a Phoenix restaurant that happened to serve alcohol. To this day I wonder if some of those very church members dined in that restaurant? I, too, am a floozy for Christ .

-Pastor Jim

Saloon Girl

Apartheid America: A Time to Plant

There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate ... St. Luke 16

Those who receive justice and those who don’t. Continuing in its present trajectory we would likely see the same tensions that manifested in Apartheid South Africa. Attached is an Income Inequality Map dated pre-COVID 19 (red means lowest upward mobility) –

From Business Insider February 8, 2018

Running on Empty

A driver of unrest in the U.S. is that capitalism fails to believe in the existence of “depletion.” “Once a resource seems to run dry,” says Capitalism, “The Invisible Hand provides a way through our ingenuity to create a replacement.” This is why a pure Capitalist would drill for gas in the center of a National Marine Sanctuary. In truth, this misguided theory depletes the economic soil, leaving communities and even countries unable to conceive a future with what remains. That “Invisible Hand” takes resources out of your pocket and puts them into mine.

To put it as simply as possible, money was created to give government command over socially created resources. Moreover, I hypothesize that the monetary system, itself, evolved to mobilize resources to serve what government perceived to be the public purpose. - L. Randall Wray

Calls to “Defund Police” recognize that the police, we are told exist to protect the public, serve as instruments to keep socially created resources out of the hands of those who need them the most. “We are only here to protect you, ” renders as, “You protect the financial interests of those removed from my community.”

Government under a “Create America Again” program would mandate the need for businesses to invest into the soil of their communities and their country. Before offshoring their wealth and labor, these same companies must demonstrate a plan, like a Risk strategy for banks, to invest in our sustainable community and country.

The Betrayal of “Chill-Can” Economics

Youngstown, Ohio … the future home of the Chill-Can, a self-chilling soda can that cools itself. Homes were bulldozed to gamble on the latest in string of broken promise business developments.

But by the late 1970s, the companies were facing global competition. Hampered by antiquated equipment and high labor costs, they shut down one by one. Within five years, 50,000 people lost their jobs, and, within a decade, Youngstown, a city of 115,000, had shed nearly a fifth of its population. Unemployment spiked to more than 20%. (Today, about
65,000 people call the city home.) - From Propublica 
“Welcome to Youngstown, Ohio, home of Chill-Can, the self-chilling beverage container you’ve probably never heard of. Officials have gambled millions of dollars and demolished a neighborhood for the product. Not one job has been created yet.” –Propublica
From “Dilapidated House in Youngstown, 2009 ” by Greg Habermann

Like a gambler out of chips and “running on tilt,” Youngstown leaders cast their bets on failed ventures – Enviva Materials, Industrial Waste Control, Toys-R-Us, and Chill-Can, companies that took their tax incentives and left Youngstown with an empty hand and more desperation on how to lure other businesses. Like a gambler crazed by losses, city leaders went all in on the next vacant promise of a win. This results in communities feeling the big chill of betrayal regarding policing, justice and business developments.

Employer of Last Resort ELR

The voices to “Defund the Police” react against the forces that protect the “Chill-Cans” while punishing those left to assemble a life with leftover and broken pieces. Inequity is not measured but felt like a cold ache in the old bones of a community.

Inequity is not measured but felt like a cold ache in the old bones of a community.

L Randall Wray in his interview below said – “the U.S. government can proceed directly to zero unemployment by hiring all of the labor that cannot find private sector employment. Furthermore, by fixing the wage paid under this ELR program at a level that does not disrupt existing labor markets, i.e., a wage level close to the existing minimum wage, substantive price stability can be expected. A sizable benefits package should be provided, including vacation and sick leave, contributions to Social Security, and, most importantly, health care benefits, providing scope for a bottom-up reform of the current patchwork health care system. Using the government as an ELR would not be introducing another element of intrusive bureaucracy into our economy. It would simply offer a better utilization of the existing stock of unemployed who are now dependent on the public purse — especially the chronically long-term unemployed.

From Youtube

Regardless of political affiliation, a divide has formed in the U.S. between those who have and those who don’t … Those who receive injustice in the name of justice. Those who are protected from accessing the resources needed to thrive. Patchwork “Chill Can” economics will provide only more broken promises. Let us reframe our country’s legal, political and economic fabric in line with the Founders of the Constitution, who, themselves, addressed the vast inequity of their day.

Humanitarium Government

In the proposed Humanitarium Government model, Government’s role is to create an environment of balance between the extremes of supply and demand economics. A depletion of supply leads to infinite demand and panic. Oversupply creates devaluation and eventual depletion of resources. A Humanitarium model Government exists to create balance in the continual tension of pulling to the center from the extremes.

Production as the End Product

As a child my family enjoyed a second home in the fishing village of Cholla Bay, Mexico. Trucks hauled in water, which was stored in various tanks from old aircraft fuel tanks to cement cisterns that gravity fed the house. A sad trend emerged with the tanks. In a desire to decorate the tanks, the residents mounted on each tank a full-size sea turtle shell. The residents would paint their names or slogans on the shells. At the time, you did not consider yourself part of the community unless you sported a sea turtle shell. I have images of sea turtles being shelled alive, with a local sipping the blood of the dying turtle by catching it in his hand. I remember the paint smell of the vacant lacquered shells. Sadly, the end product resulted in sun burned sea turtle shells and marine biologists pondering the dilemma of a depleted sea turtle population.

One example today is the production of new cars simply to prop up the business of new car manufacturing. The employees and executives sport the shells of their business success by denying the coming of depleted resources and business closure. The executives eventually retire to Florida, while the communities remain like hollow sun-bleached sea turtle shells.

From “Thousands of Unsold New Cars”

Pandemic and Humanitarium Government

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the action of a Humanitarium Government model when the supply of customers depleted due to lockdowns and a Humanitarium Government gave loan extensions and survival checks to keep businesses afloat. Miranda Barker, head of East Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce, said in response to the now crumbling Rolls-Royce aircraft turbine industry, ” “Everyone’s jobs are dependent on everyone else’s. It’s like pulling a string on a jumper, it’s all going to unravel,” she added. But she believes the crisis threatens not just jobs now, but also the cluster effect that the region’s future prosperity may rest on.” The Scottish government announced a working group will be set up with the aim of protecting jobs at a Rolls-Royce (RR.L) factory.

“Everyone’s jobs are dependent on everyone else’s. It’s like pulling a string on a jumper, it’s all going to unravel.”

Miranda Barker, East Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce response to save Rolls-Royce plant

Beyond COVID-19 this Humanitarium Government model can provide an Employer of Last Resort Model for communities whose entire future has descended to an economy resting on the brittle shell of minimum wage fast food jobs.

The risk for the U.S. Government is to further isolate depleted communities from resources by police action, resulting in even greater demands. A Humanitarium Government model triages the hurting community with the oxygen of supplies and a secured future.

Onlookers from the upper middle class puzzle over the demands made by “Black Lives Matter” whose economic experience peaked toward infinite demand due to depletion of supply of meaningful employment, health and safety resources and justice. The risk for the U.S. Government is to further separate affected communities from resources by police action, resulting in even greater demands. A Humanitarium Government model triages the hurting community with the oxygen of supplies and a secured future.

Defund Police aka Deploy Resources

The fixing the ills of “Chill-Can” communities is less like the swap of a broken starter on a 1980 Chevy and more like the reforestation of the Amazon slashed and burned for greed.

How one hears “Defund Police” depends on which side of the resource line one sits. Those chanting “Defund Police” see law enforcement and National Guard troop presence as a line of defense to prevent accessing resources the community needs. Past promises of police and justice reform spritzed away like flat soda in an old Chill-Can. The fixing the ills of “Chill-Can” communities less like swap of a broken starter on a 1980 Chevy and more like the reforestation of the Amazon slashed and burned for greed. Perhaps the balance of a Humanitarium Government model was created for such a time as this.

A Time to Plant,

Pastor Jim