It means "writings." I write things.

11:27 AM

My favorite Kentuckian monk

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm currently reading a book titled "The Nonviolent Alternative."  It's a collection of essays from Thomas Merton, written mostly in the 1960s, as a response to the Cold War and generally violent attitudes in the world at the time.  Given the current political climate of our world, these essays speak today in the same way they did then.  Here are a couple of great nuggets.

"Christ our Lord did not come to bring peace to the world as a kind of spiritual tranquilizer.  he brought to his disciples a vocation and a task, to struggle in the world of violence to establish his peace not only in their own hearts but in society itself."

"The Christian is and must be by his very adoption as a son of God, in Christ, a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).  He is bound to imitate the Savior who, instead of defending himself with twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53) allowed himself to be nailed to the cross and died praying for his executioners.  The Christian is one whose life has sprung from a particular spiritual seed: the blood of the martyrs who, without offering forcible resistance, laid down their lives rather than submit to the unjust laws that demanded an official religious cult of the Emperor as God.  That is to say, the Christian is bound, like the martyrs, to obey God rather than the state whenever the state tries to usurp powers that do not and cannot belong to it. We have repeatedly seen Christians in our time fulfilling this obligation in a heroic manner by their resistance to dictatorships that strove to interfere with the rights of their conscience and of their religion." 

Jesus enters the scene shortly before the greatest King (Augustus) kicks the bucket.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, by the time Jesus begins his ministry, all of the progress of peace that Augustus achieved was ruined and proved to the world, once again, that the "imperial man" philosophy failed.  No human could ever bring about lasting peace and joy.  If any King proved this, it was Augustus.  

This is why it doesn't ultimately matter who wins the election.  No President can bring about an existence where there is no war, everyone is well-fed, people cease to die from curable diseases, etc.  If you listen to a political stump speech, you get the idea that whenever Candidate _______ gets elected, all will be well, the world will be nothing but sunshine and farts, and the government will just throw money at everyone until they are happy.  Even if a President creates any sort of progress, the chances are great that the next guy (in four or eight years) will screw it all up and the whole thing is for naught anyway.

Christ came so that the world may live in harmony with God.  This harmony is available to all, is free from government meddling, and isn't dependent on outside circumstances.  This life leads to peace, it leads to joy, it leads an existence where love abounds...ideally.  If the Church will get off its collective duff and stop waiting for politicians to fix all of the world's problems, then the world would be a better place.  It would be a place where the lion lays down with the lamb, a place where swords are beaten into plows, and where 16,000 kids a day don't die from starvation.  McCain and Obama can't make any of this happen, but the Church, as the body of Christ, can and should.  

Whatever happens on November 4th, keep in mind that world leaders have promised everlasting peace and prosperity for thousands of years, and none of them have achieved it. 

Augustus (which means "worthy of praise and worship") Caesar was seen as the human ruler that would bring about everlasting peace.  He was well-liked and, generally, a good man.  He once paid the year's taxes for the whole province of Asia with his own money.  If the State treasury or a friend was out of money, he would finance it with his own money.  In the words of Stauffer "Augustus was a blessing to mankind."  To give you some idea as to his popularity and apparent achievements, here a couple of writings about him from shortly after his death:

"The emperor, ruler of oceans and continents, the divine father among men, who bears the same name as his heavenly father--Liberator, the marvelous star of the Greek world, shining with the brilliance of the great heavenly Savior." - an inscription found on the island of Philae after Augustus conquered Egypt

"The whole of mankind would have been almost destroyed in internecine strife, if one man and leader, Augustus, had not appeared, who is worthy to be called the hero who averted disaster, who healed the common afflictions of the Greek and Barbarian worlds.  It was he who not merely loosened but burst the chains which bound and oppressed the dwellers of the earth.  It was he who led all the cities of the earth to freedom, who made order out of chaos, who preserved freedom, and gave each man his due." - an Alexandrian Jew

While all of this is going on, a tiny infant is born in the dirt and crap of a backwater town in Israel.  

Augustus wasn't your average ruler.  He was a good and kind ruler, and was looked upon as the Savior of the world.  However, shortly after his death, the same cycle of strife and violence hit the Roman Empire (and, therefore, the rest of the world).  His dream of everlasting peace failed.  The greatest example of the homo imperiosus that the world had known was dead and everything returned to the way it had always been; an endless cycle of war and violence.  You could say that the movement died with the mover. 

Meanwhile, the tiny infant grew to be a man.  He began to say things like, "I have come to set the captives free."  "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives..."  This man was saying things that sounded awfully familiar to a people under Roman rule.  He was speaking of bringing peace to the world.  He was making the claims of a king.  But surely this would turn out like all the rest.  Things would go well for awhile, but one day he would die and everything would return to the way it's always been.  Right?

9:44 AM

An interesting correlation

Posted by Brad Polley |

Socialism - a system of society or group living in which there is no private property (courtesy of Merriam-Webster dictionary)

"All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.  For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need." - Acts 4:32-35


I've been thinking a lot of about this election.  That could be due to the fact that I'm getting older and crankier about the fact that this government is grossly misusing my money, or it could be due to the fact that the election has been going on for 2 freaking years and I've had no choice but to think about it.  This election is being billed as "maybe the most important election in the history of our country."  That may or may not be the case in some regards, but I'm going to tell you why it's an irrelevant thing to say anyway.  

I'm reading (and by "reading" I mean picking through it at a snail's pace because a lot of it is pretty boring) a book called "Christ and the Caesars" by a dead German named Ethelbert Stauffer.  It's fairly fascinating and fairly boring at the same time, if that is possible.  In the book, he examines the history of Rome and the Caesars, and then he examines how these guys fit into the life and message of Jesus and the Early Church (the answer: a lot).  One of the more fascinating chapters I have read thus far is the chapter dealing with Augustus Caesar and Jesus. 

Jesus wasn't born into a vacuum, which is the idea you get from a lot of Christians.  Jesus is born into the world in a particular place, during a particular time.  This time and place are unique in history.  His message is one of the here and now (unfortunately Christians have hijacked it and made it to be a message of the someday, faraway future) that was distinct in its relevance, not only to the people he encountered in his earthly life, but to the world two thousand years later.  But before we get to that message, we must look at the world leader, and indeed the entire system of Caesars.

Almost every Caesar claimed to be the "son of God."  This would ensure a couple of things. One, absolute authority; after all, who's going to argue with a policy put forth by the the son of God?  Two, it would lend credence to any war you wanted to fight or any land you wanted to conquer.  There are thousands upon thousands of Roman coins found from the late B.C.E. and early C.E. that are inscribed with the face of a particular Caesar with a phrase such as, "Caesar is Lord" or "The Divine Son of God."  So you have a completely dominant world superpower who's leaders believe they are divine.  

Another aspect of the Caesars is that they thought themselves to be the harbingers of peace to the world (is any of this sounding familiar?).  This peace would be achieved by Roman military conquest, occupation, and a conversion to their way of doing government and society.  Almost every Caesar was seen as the human leader (according to Stauffer the homo imperiosus or imperial man) who would bring about everlasting peace in the world.  Just as an aside, this thought started with the Pharaohs around 3000 B.C.E., but the Caesars co-opted this thought with extreme vigor.  So now you not only have a succession of leaders who believe themselves to be God, but a succession of leaders who claim (and apparently fail) to bring about eternal peace upon the earth.  All of this culminated with Augustus who we'll look at more later. 

9:52 AM

Honesty in Advertising

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've regaled you numerous times with my opinions of advertising.  This post will not continue the trend of bashing companies for stupid marketing.  This post will be examples of advertising, were I working for an ad agency.  I'm the type of person who just wants more honesty in advertising.

Charmin - "It's like wiping your butt with a whisper."
McDonald's Coffee - "It's like Starbuck's, but you know...terrible."
Starbuck's - "We're actually just curious to see how much you'll actually pay for a cup of coffee."
Taco Bell - Yeah, it's crap, but it's cheap and you'll eat it anyway."
Lay's potato chips - "Filling half the bag with air and increasing the price since 2002."
Exxon Mobil - "Soul...what's a soul?  Never heard of it."
Any political campaign - "I promise to continue to promise a bunch of stuff that I will never deliver on."
American Airlines - "You get a $10 discount if you decide to just sit on the floor."
General Motors - "We're not sure why we're still in business either."
The American Church - "All are welcome unless you're gay or a democrat."

What are some of your ideas?

11:45 AM

The new racism

Posted by Brad Polley |

When did we time-warp back to the 1950s?  I don't understand.  When did it become acceptable again to deride people based on their nationality?  Has it always been this way and I just haven't noticed, or is this a recent thing.  I saw a video this morning of people at a McCain rally in Pennsylvania and they were yelling at a group of protestors.  The person filming all of this was asking people why they were voting for McCain.  They were saying things like, "Obama is a terrorist."  When asked why, the people said, "Because he's an Arab."  Later, they all start singing "God Bless America."  I'm sure God was pleased.  The video honestly made me sick.  

In another video, a man is holding up a monkey with an Obama sticker on.  Does no one else see how racist that is?  I don't care how anyone votes (even you, dad, I just like giving you a hard time), and it's their business as to why they vote for someone.  The racism has to end though.  If Obama was white and his middle name was something other than Hussein, we wouldn't be having this conversation.  

No one would admit that they won't vote for Obama because he's black, but let's face it, there are a lot of people who aren't voting for him for this very reason.  What they do say is, "Oh, he's an Arab," "he's a Muslim," "he's a terrorist."  So they've exchanged one racism for another.  The media seems to just let all of this slide.  Since 9/11, Arab bashing has become, not only acceptable, but encouraged.  I hear it from Christians all the time.  Note to Christians: Nothing could be further from Jesus' message than racism.  Don't forget that the person you profess to follow was middle eastern and considered a terrorist by the Roman government.  You should probably watch what you say. 

11:15 AM

It worked! It worked!

Posted by Brad Polley |

The bailout worked!  Wall Street is more stable, and the American people can continue to prosper!  The market is doing really well...what's that?  The Dow is down under 10,000 points for the first time since after 9/11?  Ooh, tough break.  I didn't ever want to retire anyway.  

10:41 AM

Beyond fun

Posted by Brad Polley |

This game is just hilarious.  I don't care what political party you align yourself with, this is good stuff.  The game pits political candidates in a Tekken sort of format.  Their weapons are all different.  My two favorites have to be Palin's special weapon (her hockey stick turns into a rifle) and Obama's (he shoots doves at his opponents).  The only thing about the game is that it's virtually impossible to win.  It could just be that I suck.  Enjoy.

10:34 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Here's what's going through my brain right now:

- When are people going to learn that the government is essentially worthless?
- When are people going to learn that Wall Street investors don't really care about them?
- If I screwed up my job as bad as Wall Street CEOs have screwed up theirs, would I get a huge bonus?
- I'm still wondering if a youth pastor is a necessary expense for a church.
- Is my heartburn from the sloppy joe I ate at lunch, or the fact that I have eaten my weight in apples over the last four days?
- The Velvet Underground may be one of the most underrated bands in history.
- Why did it take me so long to discover 1970s Stevie Wonder?
- Speaking of Stevie Wonder, does anyone remember the episode of the Cosby Show with Stevie in it?  That was a good episode.
- What is it about John Mellencamp's music that makes me want to drive off the road into a giant oak tree?
- I watched the movie "Rock Star" last night.  I wasn't impressed.
- I'm playing golf tomorrow and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why.
- Will my lethargy for life ever end?
- Could my kids be any cuter?  I doubt it.
- I get jealous of auto mechanics because they do more to help people than I do. 
- I eat at a Turkish restaurant from time to time?  Can I be Vice President now or do I have to meet Bono first?
- When did Bono become part of the United Nations?  Isn't he the singer for some overblown rock band?  
- Sometimes I secretly wish that God would just end this world immediately.
- It says in the biblical account of the great flood that God regretted creating humans.  Does anyone else think that is the saddest image ever.  
- I'm pretty tired of people like Bill Maher thinking that they are going to convert the world to atheism by making a documentary.  Seriously, what a biased load of crap.  He finds the craziest, most extreme examples of religion and then leaves out the other 95% of religious people who are intelligent, moderate, and are trying to make the world a better place.  Good journalism Bill Maher, you truly deserve an Oscar.
- I'm really tired of having to say I'm sorry for all of my crazy brothers and sisters.  
- Christians are hypocrites, but so is everyone else.  I've never met a person who wasn't.  Get over it.