Monday, September 27, 2010

Discussions with a tax-feeder...

So, in keeping with the theme of the past two posts, tonight’s will be about what the Angleton City Council REALLY did when they took it upon themselves to ban synthetic cannabinoids and Salvia Divinorum. Before I get to that, please allow me to show what they DIDN’T do…

The following things were NOT criminalized by the blanket ban on synthetic cannabinoids (“fake pot”) and Salvia Divinorum (“salvia”) products:
1) Driving under the influence of fake pot or salvia.
2) Providing fake pot or salvia to minors.
3) Being intoxicated on fake pot or salvia in public.
4) Being in the care of children while under the influence of fake pot or salvia.

What does this have to do with a tax-feeder? Well, there’s this friend of mine that I’ve known since my early childhood, very wonderful woman in her own right. Always, for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been a very kind and loving person to be around. As a matter of fact, when I couldn’t leave the house for two weeks after my motorcycle accident because the scabs on my knees would break open and bleed everywhere, she was the only one who came to visit me…and made a special trip to my father’s home on the south side of town just to bring me a 44oz Dr Pepper from Buc-ees that I’d been craving for a week and a half. Yes, she’s that kind of caring individual, and I praise God that there are people like that still alive and well in this world.

She also happens to be the mother of two beautiful children, as well as being a public employee working with juvenile delinquents (I believe, for Brazoria County). I know her heart is in the right place, but I just don’t think she fully understands the full weight of what her opinions imply. After uploading the text of Angleton’s new city ordinance, she stated that she was happy for the ban.

In discussing this with her, I asked her what possible reasoning she could have for such an opinion. She essentially stated the four reasons I’ve listed above. Given the fact that she works with juvenile delinquents with whom drug abuse and addiction is a recurring theme, and her first husband was killed in an alcohol-related auto collision, I can understand her feelings. Unfortunately, her opinions appear to be based upon common fallacies that get repeated so often in our society to the point they are taken as fact.

Much like my friend’s first husband and father of her children, my mother’s first-born was also killed in an alcohol-related auto collision. His name was Brandon Laurn Raines, he was my older brother, he died on my 17th birthday, and his death made me the oldest son. Within my own family, I’ve already forgotten more than I’d ever care to know about the destruction of a person’s time on earth that comes from drug addiction. My mother’s youngest son, my little brother, became a convicted felon in the State of Texas because of crimes committed to pay for his cocaine addiction…before he was even old enough to have a driver’s license. No offense, but I don’t think I need a lesson on the dangers of drugs and booze…because if there’s anything I don’t already know, I seriously doubt I’ll ever learn it.
Now, moving right along. One may ask how this new city ordinance could be passed banning fake pot and salvia, and not manage to criminalize the acts I mentioned above. Well, it’s quite simple. You see, every single one of these things was already illegal under existing state law!

“Driving While Intoxicated”, regardless of the intoxicant or its status of legality for consumption, is still a criminal offense in Texas.
Providing an intoxicant (other than alcohol, to your own child or spouse) to a minor is considered “child endangerment”. If that minor becomes intoxicated, you’ve committed “injury to a child”.
Being intoxicated on any substance in public, where you present a danger to yourself or others, is a criminal offense of “public intoxication”.
Being intoxicated while in the care of children fits the definition of the crime “child neglect”.

Please don’t tell me that a man over the age of legal majority in this state (18 years old, last time I checked) has the lawful ability to go to the M.E.P.S. building in Houston, Texas and volunteer to fly out to some two-way firing range on the other side of the world (against his parents’ wishes, no less!)…but that same man doesn’t have the right to intoxicate himself with whatever harmful (or completely harmless, in the case of Salvia Divinorum) substance he chooses, within the confines of his own living room. You can’t honestly tell me that having RPG’s launched at you is somehow less dangerous than deciding you want to smoke crack. Either you’re old enough to man up, let your nuts do the talking, and take your chances…or you aren’t. Which is it? Okay, so we’ve discovered that it’s not a safety issue, if we’re allowed to enlist in the military…and buy motorcycles that can go 160mph, and work in chemical plants, and go skydiving. It’s not a “safety issue”. By the way, contrary to all of the rumors you may or may not have heard, synthetic cannabinoids and Salvia Divinorum have NOT been conclusively linked to ANY health problems, addiction, or death…in this country or elsewhere.

What about keeping dope away from kids? Yeah, because outlawing it is working so well. It works so well, in fact, that my best friend and I used to joke in high school about how much easier it would be if we smoked dope instead of drinking Busch tallboys on a Friday night…because the guy at the Kwik-E-Mart checked for ID, while the neighborhood weed dealers didn’t. If a kid doesn’t have access to some bum that will buy the fake pot at the gas station, he’s going to call up his dealer when he wants to get high…just like so many of my classmates did in high school, and almost half of high school kids already do today. So we’ve discovered that it’s not about keeping dope out of the hands of children…or, if it is, our city council is completely clueless.

Now, let’s look at the notion of intoxication offenses, and our council’s assertion that (and I quote from ordinance 2010-O-9C):
WHEREAS, the substances identified above manifest all of the demonstrated attributes of substances that deprive individuals of judgment, coordination[,] and the ability to conduct themselves in a safe and appropriate manner in modern society;”

Ummm…pardon me, but there are three liquor stores in Angleton, and every single store that sold this fake pot in town were also selling alcoholic beverages. Are we talking about fake pot and salvia, or are we talking about tequila here? Did they do something to my Bud Light Lime that somehow made it NOT get me drunk when I wanted more than five of them? Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen anything about our city council wanting to shut down any bars, close any liquor stores, or make any gas stations stop selling beer and Boone’s Farm.

I think you should, at this point, see where I’m headed with this…

So, precisely WHAT did the City Council of Angleton, TX do by banning synthetic cannabinoids and Salvia Divinorum? Essentially, under the guise of “public safety”, they’ve told me and every other adult in Angleton, TX what is and is not permissible within the confines of his own home, regardless of whether it affects anyone else. In other words, the City Council of Angleton, TX has told every single one of us that they own every facet of our lives...both in public, and within our private homes. If that ain’t slavery, I’m not quite sure what is…

Saturday, September 25, 2010

To the City Council of Angleton, TX

The following is a letter sent to the various members of the City Council of Angleton, TX. Their official taxpayer-supplied email addresses are as follows:


Feel free to tell them your opinions, be it for or against...


To the Angleton City Council:

A few days ago, I read about how the city of Brazoria had jumped on the hysteria bandwagon, and followed Angleton's shining example of banning synthetic cannabinoids. This didn't surprise me, given Mayor Ken Corley's nationally-known record of having utter contempt and disregard for the First Amendment. What did surprise me was his apparent ignorance regarding Salvia Divinorum, lumping this completely harmless herb (a fact that has long-been known to modern science) into the same category.

What truly came as a shock, however, was when a friend mentioned that the Angleton ordinance had done the exact same thing. After contacting Mayor Henry and getting a copy of the actual text of the ordinance yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that one of two things had happened here...and both of them shed a severely unflattering light upon you.

Either you were misled regarding the safety aspect of Salvia Divinorum, and did not take the time to actually research this harmless natural plant you've just banned, or you knew exactly what you were doing and did it anyway to make it appear that you actually give a damn about your community. Honestly, I cannot decide which prospect disgusts me more.

If you were misled, and did not take the time to investigate the plant you were banning, what does that say about your willingness to blindly follow along with whatever you're told? That makes you a sheep, willing to move along with the ignorance of the masses and trample upon the rights of others with total disregard for the liberties of the individual, and you have absolutely no business being in a position of authority over it on city council, or elsewhere.

If you knew the complete harmlessness of Salvia Divinorum (because you had taken the time to read up on the mint plant you were planning to criminalize), and chose to ban it anyway to make yourselves look good for whatever reason, that makes you a power-hungry tyrant willing to impose your will upon others...and likewise, you certainly have no business being in any kind of authoritative position.

This isn't about my desire to smoke Salvia. Honestly, the one time I tried it several years back was my one and only experience with hallucinogens, and I cannot foresee any desire to ever try it again. Regardless of this fact, the one thing I know it not to be is "dangerous"...because prior to the single instance in which I smoked it, I thoroughly researched it to make certain that it wouldn't pose a danger to my body, my mind, or my neighbors. Keep in mind, this is a plant they used to sell in the Lawn & Garden section at Wal-Mart before nationwide hysteria and stupidity took over, and their corporate offices succumbed to fear of being labeled "dope-dealers"!

What this IS about is your reckless disregard for the rights of those who are forced to live under the laws you write, if they do not choose to leave the town they've spent the majority of their lives in. Frankly, I don't care what they do in Brazoria or any other town. I don't live there. I live in Angleton, as I have done for more than thirty years. In those thirty years, our city government has threatened to steal my car because it didn't have a valid registration sticker while it was parked in a private driveway, it has told my family what kind of fasteners could be used to put together a covering on my grandmother's front porch (to the point where it had to be rebuilt), and now you're telling me what I can and cannot plant in my own garden...because you think someone choosing to eat or smoke a particular plant doesn't conform to your idea of what the private behavior of our citizens should be?

What's next? Will you tell me that I can no longer own my pistols in Angleton, because a few people decide to use them as tools for armed robbery? Will you decide that my books should be banned, because Orwell's 1984 contains a graphic depiction of promiscuous sex that doesn't conform to your personal views of morality? Will you outlaw my 4x4 within city limits, simply because our city's roads are paved and you can't see a need for them? Where will it stop?

I don't know many of you on the council, but to John and Randy, I've known both of you for more than two decades...and I thought more highly of you than this. I am sickened beyond belief that the two of you, men who I thought were upstanding and good, would do something like this to the very people you have asked for the privilege to serve. Making it so much worse is the fact that, on countless occasions, I mentioned to people during your campaigns that the two of you were fine people that could be counted on to do what was right. I suppose I was wrong.

There is one thing I know without a doubt. Far more dangerous to a civilized society than any drug available today, legal or otherwise, is the notion that one man is subject to the will of his fellow man within the privacy of his own home. That is the epitome of slavery, and you men are acting as overseers upon the rest of us. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

-Barry H. Rhodes,
Citizen of Angleton, TX

Sunday, September 19, 2010

There's no place like home! There's no place like home!

That's what I've been telling myself, since I saw the front page of the paper the other day, in hopes that I won't go completely apeshit crazy and just move off to a cave in Montana somewhere. You see, believe it or not, I actually like this town in general...regardless of my little hangups and the numerous things I dislike about it.

I didn't much care for the AISD school system when I was enrolled in it so many years ago, and from what I hear, I don't really care too much for it now either. That is, of course, not to say that there aren't many wonderful and caring professional educators working in it. It's just that as a whole, I'd have been better off just staying at home and reading a book. I mean, it's not like most of the people I came in contact with at school taught me anything of value anyway, other than a whole host of reasons to distrust and generally not like those in positions of authority.

And then, there's our wonderful city government. Our current mayor, Patrick Henry, was to the best of my knowledge actually an educator at Angleton High School when I attended there, but I never had the pleasure of being one of his students. His wife, on the other hand, was my English teacher. I can say, without a doubt, that Mrs. Henry was one of the most psychotic women I'd ever met...but that's beside the point.

We have our city council and mayor, responsible for the numerous goings-on of our city government. Namely, their chief responsibilities in these positions appear to be sitting around and tasking other city employees with the job of being busy-bodies on behalf of the City of Angleton. Keep in mind, these are the same people who threatened to steal my car, fine me for having it parked in the private driveway of my own residence, and ALSO charge me the cost of having them steal it! Why, you might ask? Not because my car was a "junker"...there was air in all four tires, it was not rusted, the windows were still intact, et cetera. It was declared a "junker", simply because it did not have a current registration sticker on it.

On top of that, when the city sent someone to photograph it, the asshats (in case you're wondering, that's a slang term for someone with his head up his ass, i.e. "wearing one's ass as a hat") sent someone to photograph my car while I was at work. My elderly grandmother went outside to ask if there was something she could help with, and they wouldn't even acknowledge her presence. Needless to say, I'm not much a fan on people who don't mind their own business.

Regardless of what someone may think about what his neighbors are doing, you didn't buy your neighbor's home when you bought your own. It's none of your damned business, stay in your own yard when you leave the public street!

Ahh, but I digress. What I was getting at, with regard to city government, is the fact that this past week the City of Angleton has passed a city ordinance outlawing the sale, use, and/or possession of "synthetic marijuana". Violating this ordinance subjects the offender to a fine of up to $2,000. Yes, you read that correctly, two thousand dollars.

Before I go further, I would like to stipulate on the record that I do not, in fact, advocate or recommend the smoking of ANY it marijuana, meth, or Marlboros. Regardless, let's be real about it. If your government can tell you that it has the right to regulate what you may or may not ingest into your own body on the mere basis of what that substance happens to be, is that not saying that you don't actually own yourself? If someone else owns you, what is that called? Oh, yeah...SLAVERY.

Now, everything I've read about this synthetic marijuana essentially breaks down to this. It's supposedly "every bit as dangerous as real marijuana". Wow. Now we have a reason to be frightened, considering how many people have died from marijuana usage! Oh, wait. Nevermind. I almost forgot. Never, in the entire recorded history of mankind, has anyone actually been confirmed to have died from an overdose of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Yes, I'm certain that people have been known to crash their cars while driving under its influence, accidentally shoot themselves because they were playing with guns while stoned, et cetera...but I'm certain that's never happened with alcohol, right? Yeah. Right. Interestingly enough, as I type this, I'm drinking a cold beer. It's my second of the evening, purchased at the very same neighborhood corner store that sells this "incense" doused with synthetic cannabinoids that has everyone up in a buzz. I also frequently purchase my Marlboro cigarettes there, too! Take that, you City of Angleton goodie-goodies! Haha!

In researching tonight's post, I did my best to find some sort of actual definitive danger regarding this so-called "fake pot". The closest I came to was a doctor claiming that there had been over 200 instances of people calling poison control centers nationwide, since eighteen months ago...claiming an accelerated heart beat, hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia. Yeah, that sounds like it's every bit as dangerous as the real deal! I bet they giggled a lot, too! But seriously, the population of the United States is over 300 million, not counting illegal Mexicans and the president's aunt.

Let's examine that number very closely. Let's say that only one in a THOUSAND Americans has actually tried this "fake pot". Better yet, let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt, and say it's one in TEN THOUSAND. The population of Angleton, TX is less than 20k, but let's use that as a nice round figure. That's twenty thousand people, and one in ten thousand has purchased this "fake pot"...or, roughly, two people in Angleton. If this ratio were true of the entire United States, that would put the number of people who have actually used this "fake pot" at roughly 30,000 people. Less than 200 people, across the country since this "epidemic" began, have called for assistance from authorities...out of the grossly-underestimated figure of 30,000 people. That's one in every hundred and fifty. You're more likely to find someone deathly allergic to peanuts!

This, of course, assumes that only one in every ten thousand people in America have used this "fake pot". Obviously, the number is much higher...because I doubt that the City of Angleton would consider wasting such time and effort on outlawing something, if only two local idiots were using it. However, when the number of people using this substance goes up, it drastically alters the ratio of people who have used it v. the people who have reported a problem with it.

Now, I must admit, the people calling poison control centers nationwide wasn't the only anecdotal evidence I found while searching for the alleged dangers of "fake pot". Apparently, it also makes you kill yourself. According to the parents of Iowa resident David Rozga, a particular brand of "fake pot" known by the trade name of "K2" was responsible for the young man's suicide, based upon the circumstantial evidence that he shot himself after having smoked it. Interestingly enough, none of his other friends who had been smoking this K2 with him went home and blew their brains out. Oh yeah, they also said that suicide was "out of character" for their son.

When I was that age, three of my classmates had killed themselves. Two by a noose, and one with his daddy's pistol. I know personally that two of them smoked marijuana, but I won't say which ones. I also know only one of them on a more-than-acquaintance level, and I can guarantee you that he had other significant issues in his life. On top of that, I DID attend a public high school...and it felt weird to me, knowing that I was one of the few who received a high school diploma without ever having taken a toke, which should give you an idea of how many of my classmates smoked dope.

So, let's look at the numbers...assuming that the ratio of 1 in 10,000 Americans has used this "fake pot" (which would put the number of citizens of the city of Angleton, TX who have used it at TWO), that gives us a number of thirty thousand. Of those thirty thousand, we have one suicide and less than two hundred distress calls to the authorities. At this number of assumed users, that's (respectively) 1 in 150 with an adverse reaction and 1 in 30,000 that resulted in death.

Yes, by all means, let's go run out and ban it right now! Think of the children!

Well, one thing I can be thankful for with this idiotic nonsense...if THESE DAMNED IDIOTS ON THE ANGLETON CITY COUNCIL are going to ban a plant that could have otherwise been purchased at a gas station and generated tax revenue, on the off chance that someone might kill themselves, maybe they'll leave my pistols and my Judas Priest albums alone!

Then again, maybe that's why they banned it. At a sales tax rate of 8.25 percent, that equates to a dollar and 65 cents for every $20 package sold...which means the city would have to see one thousand two hundred and twelve packages sold before it could generate as much revenue as a fine issued after a single arrest!

After you've read this, simmer on it. As for me, I'm going to go indulge in some more of my "drugs of choice", which happen to be a cold light domestic beer and a couple of Marlboros. Maybe I'll get drunk and forget about the whole thing, if I'm lucky...or maybe I'll just run for city council, and get DRUNK ON POWER OVER THE LIVES OF OTHERS!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In Praise of President Barrack H. Obama

Yeah, I bet you never saw that one coming, did you? Many folks wouldn't, seeing as how I'm one of his most outspoken critics. I think he's a complete scumbag, just like 99.44% of the rest of our elected officials. However, there is a silver lining to that cloud.

In case you haven't read many of my previous blogs, I'm gonna come right out say it. I'm a gun nut. I'm that guy that finds over 200 rounds of ammo (not counting .22LR shells!) when he cleans the clutter out of his Jeep. The guy who had to stop buying guns until I get a more secure place to store them. The guy who has a US Army TC23-14 sniper manual in his bathroom, so he can study trajectory charts in preparation for deer season with the M14, while taking a dump. The guy who keeps a quarter on his key ring...and is able to do so because that quarter has not one, but three, bullet holes put in it from the other side of a football field. The guy who bought the plastichrome stick-on numbers reading "46.02" and placed them over the driver door of his Jeep, so the next cop that pulls him over won't have to bother asking if the 9mm is in the console.

Suffice to say, I'm a "gun nut". I own guns built for all manner of purposes. I've got my "plinker" .22LR rifles, a few pistols, a couple of shotguns, and the civilian-legal version of every military rifle ever used by the United States since WWII except for the M1 Carbine and Thompson SMG. I am a hunter, as well as a collector of firearms in the same manner that some would collect baseball cards or comic books.

More importantly, however, I am also a firm believer in a man's inherent and inalienable right to defend himself against any aggressor. I am a Christian, believing His word when He said that any man without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. Okay, so never sold my coats or bought any swords...but I did cash a few paychecks and buy a few firearms!

Our United States Constitution's 2nd Amendment holds a bit of value to me. Some people think that the ownership of weapons is so important that it should have been the 1st Amendment...or, even, put into the actual original body of the constitution. Honestly, I'm not worried about it. The 1st tells our government that they have no decision over what we say, how we pray, who we can gather with, or what we can broadcast to the masses, so long as we don't go telling lies about others.

The 1st Amendment tells our government they have no right to make such decisions for us. The 2nd Amendment simply tells them that if they try, we have a physically violent recourse waiting for them.

That brings me to my original point, before I got so damned side-tracked by my love of guns and the Bill of Rights. You see, Obama supports just about every "gun control" measure anyone ever thought about, and accepts the idiotic notion that the Second Amendment is a "collective" right. For some reason, while he accepts that all other rights of the people granted legal protection by our constitution apply to us equally, he sees owning a firearm as a legal right granted to a state-authorized organization.

Unfortunately, the very twisted views upon gun ownership held by the current president were also held by a good many Americans. Even more sadly, a lot of these Americans were hunters of deer and ducks, who supported the idea of an "Assault Weapons Ban". These "sportsmen", who have no problem with their right to keep and bear arms being relegated to arms with "sporting purposes", are in many ways a lot like me. They don't think it's right to go on a shooting spree, nor are they looking for any reason in which they would actually need 180 rounds of 5.56x45 ammo in a six-magazine pouch ready for deployment. Where we differ is our belief that a man should always have this available to him.

I look at my gun collection much like I see the spare tire in my jeep. I hope I never have to use either. It's a dirty business, having to shoot a man...or, at least I've been told, I've never actually been unfortunate enough to do have it forced upon me. That doesn't deter me from the fact that the possibility exists. Yes, I keep a spare tire in my jeep...and I loathe the thought of having to get dirty installing it if I were to have a flat. That doesn't stop me from owning one.

President Obama's anti-gun stance, as well as his generally anti-freedom stance with any other issue, did this nation a favor. Since the time he was elected to the office of President of the United States of America, it is estimated that 14 million newly-manufactured firearms were purchased through a registered sale by private American buyers. That's a one, a four, and six zeroes. Fourteen Million. 14,000,000 newly-manufactured guns in the hands of American citizens. Yes, that makes me happy in my pants.

Granted, many of these firearms were bought by people who made multiple purchases, such as myself. I personally purchased six firearms in the past year and a half, with three of them being lawfully transferred to other owners. Knowing that there are "gun nuts" like myself, and "weekend warriors" who are content with owning a shotgun, let's split the difference and say that one in every three new firearms went to a single person. That leaves us with more than 4.6 Million new guns.

That's 4.6 Million new firearm owners in America, within the past year and a half...which is more than a million better than the number of every active-duty and reserve-duty member of every branch of the United States military. On top of that, there are a good many military men and women that wouldn't even think of drawing a bead on a United States citizen, just on general principle.

Even as much as I express distaste for the profession of "Law Enforcement" as it has become in this nation, you can bet your ass that even a few of them won't hesitate to turn their weapons on "the powers that be" if it came down to it. I know this, because I know a few of them. There are approximately one million LEOs in America today.

Let's say that only 3% of our military, and only 3% of our law enforcement officers, decided to act with the population in the event of an uprising. That's 90,000 US servicemen, and 30,000 cops. Subtract that from the original numbers, and you're left with 2,910,000 servicemen and 973,000 cops against 4,600,000 new gun owners...and that number doesn't include those of us who have purchased firearms from private sellers, which have not been recorded.

Nor does it include servicemen and policemen who will not obey orders to imprison or shoot civilians, which bumps that number up to 4,720,000 Americans. Nor does it include the number of private American citizens who owned guns prior to the election of Barrack Obama.

As if 1994, there were approximately 200,000,000 privately-owned firearms in America. The majority of these were possessed by multiple-gun owners, but there was still a firearm owned by one in four American adults. Keep in mind, this statistic comes from the US government, and actual numbers are probably much higher.

The population of the United States is slightly over 307,000,000. The National Institute of Justice says that 25% of these people own firearms, which puts the number of gun-owning Americans at slightly over 76 million people. Of these seventy-six million people, only 46% of them said they were packing weapons to defend themselves against crime, which brings the total down to roughly THIRTY FIVE MILLION PEOPLE.

Obama, all you did was increase the number of people who are armed and willing to defend themselves. More importantly, the significant increase in gun ownership was largely due to the fear of your political policies. Even at the numbers provided by the government, you've spurred a 13% increase in the population of us "nutcases" that "bitterly cling to guns and religion".

For that, Mr. Obama, I applaud you for involuntarily waking up so many of my fellow Americans...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For Amy...

A few weeks ago, as many of us were discussing the idea of a mosque being built a few blocks away from the site of the Trade Center towers, I wrote a blog about how the Bible and the US Constitution provide us with instruction as a matter of God's Law and Man's Law, to allow for its building. A friend of mine (more a friend of my girlfriend, as I barely know her) commented on it...but, due to the fact that so few people actually comment on my blog postings, I hadn't bothered to check it and just happened to see it today. Her comment is, as follows:

If you cannot stand the mere thought of cops then don't think about them.....there must be some form of order in the world and this is clearly outlined in the Bible as you have posted above. You can like it or not like it, but it is the word of God and he instructs us on how to do it. Now, the discussion of people who abuse power and do not do the God honoring thing when put in positions of authority is a whole different discussion. As a Christian the whole mosque deal is not ideal; however it is thier right to build it in America on their own land with their own money. I would be interested in a blog from you discussing how the Obama Administration continues to attempt to violate the Constitution; expanding on your statement above. Matthew 6 is providing guidance about ceasing time/effort with people who repeatedly "choose" not to understand or acknowledge the truth of God's word and what is right in his eyes.

To that, I say this:

First, let's discuss the idea of the police. I am not a thief, a killer, a rapist, drug dealer, or a robber...and I don't like the automatic assumption that I am any of these things, merely because the potential exists that I might be one. Yet, that is the exact feeling I get, when a policeman approaches me with his hand on his gun.

There is order in this world, both the order provided by God and the order we live under known as the law of man. As a Christian, I am required by my God to follow both of them. The highest authority of man, in these United States where I live, is the United States Constitution. Within that constitution, you'll find a specific set of rights I am afforded, merely by my birthright as a United States citizen. Also, you will find specific authorization for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Both the Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court, state that all three times a man with a badge has pointed his loaded department-issued sidearm at my head, he has done so in violation of the authority he has been given. Likewise, they also say that in the various times I have been wrongfully arrested, it has been in direct violation of the authorities granted to them. In case you're wondering, all of those cases were dismissed. Every single one of them.

If they have no authority to do the things they do, then it is not a violation of God to turn away from them and refuse to submit to their whims. Unfortunately, I cannot simply "not think about them", as I can't drive from my home to my place of work without seeing officers from six different agencies during that ten minute drive. I can't be at the shop my family owns, "after hours" (even though we never have had any posted business hours, and aren't open to the public), without fear that the police will show up and interrogate me...and with the case of "Angleton's Finest", I can't even get him to acknowledge my presence if the BCSO deputy still has my ID!

Telling me to "stop thinking about them" is akin to telling me to "just fly to Mars". It simply ain't gonna happen. I know your husband is a cop. You know I have a bad perception of cops, because the way so many of them have treated myself and those I care about. If the subject of police officers comes up, I'm going to think about my experiences with them. Likewise, if I see one, I'm going to remember what his "brothers in blue" have done to me and mine. If someone has a problem with the perception of cops by those who have been repeatedly wronged by cops in the past, then perhaps that person should attempt to persuade cops to follow the law as written instead of making it up as they feel.

Now that I've got that out of the way, please allow me to get where I was initially going before I digressed into my disdain for the badge. You suggested that I post about Obama and his repeated violations of our constitution.

With such a suggestion, I am tempted to ask, "where do I start"? Let's see...
A) As Commander in Chief of the United States Military, he has decided to continue the unconstitutional wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mention Iraq, even though he has declared combat operations to be completed, because such a declaration is as meaningful as the one Bush II made from the aircraft carrier in front of his "Mission Accomplished" banner! Regardless, neither one of these wars were ever lawfully declared by our congress, as required by the constitution. Many will argue that "congressional authorization" is the same as a declaration of war, but it simply isn't. A declaration of war defines an enemy, and lasts only until a declaration of truce or surrender is signed. Who we are fighting changes from one day to the next, and it has no real sign of ending.

B) As the Chief Officer of the Executive Branch (COEB) of our government, he continues to allow the utilization of the "Interstate Commerce" clause to govern state matters such as BATFE "yellow paper" gun registrations for in-state buyers from licensed dealers, and prohibits persons from being professional gun dealers without licenses. There is no constitutional authority for any federal agency to compel registration of firearms upon purchase, nor is there any such authority to compel someone to be licensed to sell firearms if they are not shipped in from another state (i.e. "pawn shops" and other local dealers, which buy and sell to the general public, firearms which are purchased by the shop on-sight).

C) As COEB, he continues to allow D.E.A. raids on persons manufacturing "controlled substances", as well as persons selling them, even when done so in accordance with state law and within state borders. Marijuana is recognized by many health care professionals as beneficial for all manner of maladies, is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, and is often grown by commercial growers within the US for semi-local consumption inside the boundaries of that particular state. Even after promising to stop busting medical pot grow-ops, the D.E.A. is still doing it.

D) As COEB, he continuously neglects to order the Justice Department to investigate instances of wrongdoing on behalf of local, county, and state LEA's when they enforce unconstitutional "security measures" such as "free speech zones", and attempt to disrupt constitutionally-protected speech in public places as they did during the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA. As the recipient of tax dollars, it is a direct dereliction of his Oath of Office when he fails to act on such matters.

E) As CiC of our military, it is his official duty to secure our nation. While the ongoing wars in Iraq and AfPak are pointless insofar as our "national security" is concerned, our borders are still being invaded daily by those who enter our nation without proper legal authority. It is, as the chief officer of our military, a dereliction of his official duty to not even attempt to secure this nation.

I could go on and on, but I think you're starting to understand where I'm going with this. Yes, Obama is a screwup, if we're judging the US Constitution as a benchmark. Unfortunately, so has every other president we've had in my lifetime, and even before. It's so bad that it's not even worth judging, in the same way that you can't really say it's worse to be shot in the head as opposed to being hit with a 14lb sledgehammer at full-speed. Either way, you're dead, and it's gonna be messy...

There are two "accessories" to the offenses committed by our president(s), one being the public that willfully goes along with them, and the legal enforcers that use force or threat of force to keep the ball rolling...and there is the third party that won't play ball.

What are you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My biggest issue with "mainstream" Christianity...

I once saw, on one of those websites offering politically-oriented bumperstickers, one that was specifically written with the avowed Atheist in mind. It read something along the lines of “If you’ll stop trying to make me pray in my classroom, I won’t try to make you think in your church.”

I’ve noticed that a good deal of the problems people have with “traditional” Christianity isn’t that they haven’t been exposed to it. It’s that they’ve been exposed to it, and they loathed what they saw because it was not (at least in my opinion) a true representation of the message of Christ.

I stopped regularly attending the Baptist church I was raised in, when I was in high school. Some jackass of a Sunday School teacher twisted some random bible verse into supposedly being a commandment against “mixing with the mud races”, and claiming that white women being married to “non-whites” was supposedly sinful. That would mean that my cousin (half black), as well as my little brother and sister (half Hispanic) were somehow the product of sin, even though all three of their parents were married. Needless to say, it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

For the better part of a decade, I went through a tremendous issue with my faith, and had stepped away from God as I attempted to “do it my way”. I ran through a tremendous amount of grief with some of the most difficult times of my life occurring between the years of 15 and 25, and I now have no doubt that these times were complicated by the fact that I was looking at everything from an agnostic and/or borderline atheist point of view. Toward the end of that time, I was in college…and, believe it or not, it was one of those “dirty hippie liberal” college Humanities classes that brought me closer to God.

One of our major assignments for the class was to select a book off of the very long list our professor provided us, read it, and write a report. I found the most anti-establishment-looking title I could find on that list, and decided to go get it. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one thinking this way, as the college library had loaned all three copies and the bookstore was sold out…so I went to the next title on the list. It just so happened to be a book by Bruce Feiler (sp?), about Abraham and his covenant with God…and how that relationship between God and Abraham gave birth to the three major monotheistic religions of the modern world.

Along the way, it gave great insight into God’s relationship with man, and how truly awesome God really is. It expressed what I believe to be the true message of Christ, which is that we should all strive to be tolerant and forgiving of our fellow man. After all, isn’t that the basic tenet of Christianity? When you think about it, what was the purpose of Christ willfully accepting death on the cross, if it wasn’t to accept the consequence of the debt of our sins? Reading this book brought me closer to my bible, which in turn brought me closer to God.

As a young man, I was a member of the “Royal Ambassadors” (or, “R.A.”, the Southern Baptist equivalent of the Boy Scouts), and part of the R. A. Pledge we recited every week alongside the American Pledge of Allegiance was to have a “Christ-like concern for all people”. To the best of my understanding, we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ and not be judgmental. When Christ said to the crowd, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, he did not command the crowd not to throw any rocks…but he made them all think about throwing one, and not a single stone was chunked at that woman’s head.

That brings me back to my original point, which was the idea that “mainstream” Christianity simply turns a lot of people away from their message of Salvation through the acceptance of Christ, with their judgment of others. My grandmother once jokingly told me a story about a Baptist “revival” she went to, in which the preacher began to condemn country music as leading to drinking, drugs, and immoral sex. She told me that she never did drugs, she’s never drank liquor, and anything else she’s done certainly wasn’t on behalf of country music! If you’ve ever spent more than half an hour around my grandmother, you know she’s one of the most upstanding Christian women you’d ever meet, and was a Sunday School teacher for longer than I’ve been alive.

Mainstream Christianity turns so many people off, in my opinion, because it spends far too much time focusing on the “enemy of the moment”, instead of focusing on how we as mankind should strive to be more like Christ. Lest we forget, that is the goal of a Christian…to accept Jesus as the savior of mankind, and to lead a more Christ-like life.

We all have our faults, and I’m certain that my own put a serious stain on my soul…but isn’t it time we started worrying about our own faults as Christians, both personally AND as a church/religion/what have you, before we start denouncing our enemies?

In the past week, I’ve heard evolutionary theory ridiculed by a Sunday School teacher who apparently had no clue of what evolutionary theory was. I’ve heard a man tell my uncle that he should boycott a particular hardware store, because they supposedly “support homosexuals”. I’ve heard a preacher lump most churches that weren’t small-town congregations into the “coffee and donuts Mega-Church” category. A Protestant preacher in Florida wants to revive the old Nazi tradition of burning books in three days, because America allows burning books and he disapproves of people reading religious texts that don’t suit him.

I’m not a homosexual, a denier of God’s creation, or a Muslim…and I’ve got a metric shitload of my own faults (a “metric shitload” is 1.1 times as large as a standard “shitload”, in case you’re wondering…it’s a lot!). As a church (I am speaking in the sense of Christianity as a whole, not on behalf of any particular congregation), our faults far outweigh those of “outsiders”, because they are our own faults. In the 60s, our enemy was country music and communists. In the 80s, it was Heavy Metal and the “Satanist” scare. Today, it’s “mainstream homosexuality” and scary brown people on the other side of the world that supposedly hate us for our Christianity and our “freedom”.

In my not-so-humble-as-it-probably-should-be opinion, it is a serious mistake to demonize our fellow man, instead of reaching out to them. If Christ were here today, would He be pointing fingers at others and telling them they were wrong? Would he shun a sinner, or would He engage him in dialogue and persuade him via the peace He represents? Would He scream and yell at a pulpit while delivering His message of repentance, or would he persuade a sinner to repent of his sins by providing him a way to think about the pain those sins are causing?

Have you ever heard the old saying about being able to lead a horse to water, but you can’t MAKE him drink? Well, that’s because horses happen to be a lot like men, in the sense that they don’t really like being FORCED to do anything, even if it may be good for them. A forced faith is not a true faith…and even if it’s being coerced by fear, it’s still being forced.

This is the biggest problem I see with Christianity today, and I even recognize it in my own life. It is, in short, simple arrogance. Even as I write this, I wonder if it’s just my own arrogance taking hold of me again, when I point out what I see as a grandiose mistake on the part of my fellow Christians. Regardless of that fear, I see far too much condemnation of others within what is supposed to be a congregation of Christ-followers, and not nearly enough love for our fellow man.
Isn’t it time for us, as a church, to look at where we are going and focus on our own paths, before we start trying to block off the roads of others? The gates of Heaven are narrow, and the path to Hell is wide. Like it or not, we aren’t able to block off all of the detours.

Look at the path to Heaven as if it were a county road in East Texas, running through those beautiful Piney Woods. The road leads directly to “Heaven Ranch”, with all of the surrounding area being “Hell’s Forest”. Everyone and their uncle wants to go there on that great permanent vacation from the world when they die, and most people are driving a Honda Civic. There are lots of private driveways running off of this county road, and very few people have a map…but most people know that Heaven is somewhere in the area. What’s going to have a better effect on keeping people out of hell? Will it be putting gates on the driveways, posting some “no trespassing” signs on the trees, and hoping people will stay on the path to Heaven because you said it was wrong to go any other way?

I can’t help but think it would be far more effective if we kept the road well-paved, provided fuel along the way, and offered encouragement. If we spend our time telling people what shortcuts not to take, instead of maintaining the road, are we really doing our jobs as traffic coordinators?

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Open Letter to my Sunday School Teacher

Brother Ricky:

I’m writing this because we really didn’t have a chance to discuss the issue in the short amount of time I had to spend this weekend, but there were a few issues that I’d like to clear up regarding the Sunday School lesson on 9/5/10 over the subject of evolution and the supposed conflict it has with the Judeo-Christian bible.
First and foremost, I’m going to come right out and say that I am a firm believer in the Almighty God of Abraham, creator of the universe and all life found within it. I also firmly believe that the greatest gift God has allowed mankind to have is the human mind. Not only does the mind provide us with the basic knowledge necessary to survive on this planet and become productive servants of Him, but it is also the mind which allows us to make the decision to accept Him as the Lord of our lives.
Along that line of thinking, I feel it does a great disservice to Him, if we make a habit of practicing willful ignorance instead of attempting to better understand the world He has created. Obviously, the Word is a great many things to a great many of His believers. It is a book of law, a provider of comfort, a vessel for the message of Christ, and a great number of other things…as well as being a book describing the history of the world, according to the book of Genesis.

With that being said, Genesis does tell us a great deal about the things He has done, but it also leaves out a great deal concerning HOW he did them. To give my own insight into this idea, let us look to the instruction of Jesus when He tells us to care for the sick. We’d all love to go around performing miracles for everyone we see, but even the most pious man knows it would be much more efficient to use the brain God gave us, and to allow doctors to use their God-given gift of medical knowledge to help an ailing man get well.

In all likelihood, it’s not going to do me any good to spit on some dirt, rub it together, put it over my eyes, pray really hard, and have faith that my blindness will be cured. In all likelihood, I’ll not only be blind, but also very irritated by the dirt in my eyes. God has already provided me the means to go see an optometrist, who has fitted me with the glasses I’m wearing as I write this, and I view the knowledge of my optometrist as a modern-day miraculous cure for my blindness that came as a gift from God. Sight is a gift from God, and for many of us, it comes in the form of knowledge gained through people attempting to understand the life He has created.

In the third verse of my bible, God spoke and created light. It does not say HOW he created light, it does not discuss how many eons may have passed for the billions to the Nth power of molecules were necessary to create the star we know as the “sun”, or if he just whipped them up in some huge cosmic blender and poured it out into a huge ball. My bible tells me spoke it, it happened, and that’s it. Light is a gift of God. The bible didn’t say how He created light, but He did provide Edison with the gift of knowledge that allowed him to invent the incandescent light bulb. That light bulb is how a good many people lit their churches prior to the invention of the fluorescent light bulbs most use now. Light is a gift from God, and for those of us on this Earth lucky enough to have electric light bulbs, it comes in the form of knowledge He has allowed us to gain by studying the creations He has made.

I think of the many people who have lived to pray another day, through the scientific knowledge He has bestowed upon us, and it truly warps my fragile little mind. Imagine how many people were allowed by God to escape starvation and disease, because of Dr. Pasteur’s invention of “pasteurization”. How many Christians wouldn’t be alive today, if it weren’t for the pioneering work of Dr. DeBakey in relation to the human heart?

I can personally bear witness to the awesome and miraculous power of God, via a vessel known as Dr. David Herndon, every time I look down at the scars that engulf my right arm. The next time you see me, take a good long look at it, I likely won’t be wearing long sleeves. You’ll see scars that look like a road map, twisted all around it from the backside of my thumb to the top of my bicep, where the seams of those skin grafts were stapled together. Through the miraculous power of God, I was lucky enough to be the son of a man whose employer offered no health insurance coverage, which in turn kept my local hospital from amputating my right arm after suffering a severe burn at the age of 12 when they found out my father couldn’t afford it. As a result, I was sent to a charity hospital for burned children, where Dr. Herndon was busy pioneering his award-winning methods of grafting the skin of pediatric burn patients. It not only saved my right arm but, potentially, also saved my life due to the infections I would have undoubtedly been dealing with.

Dr. Herndon’s healing ability was not something that simply popped into his head, but was given to him by God in the form of knowledge gleaned from hours of work, research, study, more research, and much more work. He didn’t anoint my head with oils, and he didn’t lay his hands on me. He shaved five strips of skin from my legs and stapled them to my right arm. Tonight, the right arm the local doctor wanted to cut off is now responsible for half of the 65 words per minute I am capable of typing. In addition to that, the index finger of my right hand pulled the trigger on my first buck last year. My right hand was capable of producing several drawings in my art classes that provided for scholarships, which in turn paid for a portion of my education. My right arm reaches down to shift gears in the Jeep you see me driving. It throws darts and regularly allows me to hit my mark, when my father and I are able to spend time together. Tomorrow, it will allow me to utilize the ratchets, screwdrivers, crimpers, and numerous other tools necessary to provide me the means to travel to Ozias Missionary Baptist Church when I’m able get up there so I can hear you give a Sunday School lesson. If that right arm is not a gift from God, I don’t know what is.

Interestingly enough, skin grafting technology is mentioned nowhere in any of my many translations of the bible…nor is optometry, the study of electricity, or any of the myriad other sciences God has granted us the ability to study…but it is no less real, and it is no less a gift from God.

The same holds true with the study of evolutionary theory. I’m not absolutely certain how much formal education you’ve had on the subject, but I know so little about it that I wouldn’t even think of going beyond the mere basics. I was but a mere art student in college, and my experience in the field evolution was yet another gift from God. I know so little about chemistry that it should probably be illegal for me to pump my own gasoline, but was required to take a science course as part of my degree plan. I chose “Biology for Non-Science Majors”, as that was the one available class that semester that was lecture-only and didn’t require a separate lab course!

However, I feel blessed that my professor was not only an award-winning geneticist that has already forgotten more about evolutionary theory than you and I will ever imagine knowing, but also happened to be a very devout and faithful Southern Baptist. We began study of evolution theory about half an hour into the first class, as it is the basic building block of understanding the scientific principle of life. Roughly three seconds into this discussion, a young woman got up to leave, and Dr. Schneider asked where she was going. Her response was something along the lines of “evolution is against my religion”, to which he replied those eight words which have stuck with me ever since that evening.

“God gave you a brain. Start using it.”

One of the other very important things he stressed, that I had heard countless times before (from people as diverse as an astronomer named Carl Sagan, to a rig welder named Rocky Rhodes) was the idea that the more a man learns, the more a man learns how much he truly has to learn.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone identifying himself as a “Christian”, yet disagreeing with the notion that the bible is the inspired word of God. Yet still, I can instantly find twenty one DIFFERENT translations of the Holy Bible, in English…and that’s just the protestant versions!

In my high school years, I studied both Spanish and Latin, and did more translations than I’d ever like to have to think about again. In my three years of Latin studies, one of the main things I learned was that in addition to various rules (and the little quirks) of both the origin and destination languages, there were also many cultural variances that will drastically affect the manner in which a translation ends up. To add to these issues, the King James Bible often utilized by protestant churches is the third translation commissioned by the king of England (King James, obviously!), after King Henry VIII broke with Rome over the issue of an annulment of marriage from one of his various wives.

The original version of the Old Testament was not only written in ancient Hebrew, but was then translated into either ancient Greek or Latin, depending upon which version the English translators were going by. With this in mind, also remember that the original Hebrew was written hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of years after the events of Genesis actually happened.

The Word of God is infallible…but the scribes of God’s word were fallible men, which was personally witnessed by my uncle Sam on Sunday night when he, myself, and my girlfriend read the bible verse he was to memorize. The three of us had three different translations. Sam had a KJV, Tabatha had an NIV, and I was using a St. Joseph’s that belonged to my grandmother’s recently-deceased sister. For the majority of the encompassing passage, all three versions offered the identical conceptual idea, albeit with slightly different wording…except for the latter half of the one particular verse Sam was to memorize. These are three different Christian bibles, being read by three different people, in the same room at the same time. The difference between these versions of what is supposed to be the same work were not contradictory, and neither offered anything that hadn’t been discussed elsewhere, but the concepts were completely different when translated into English. If my memory of Latin class is correct, you can have several different English translations of the same sentence that are all “technically” correct with the applied rules of both languages…but only one will be correct with the intended meaning of the original statement in the original language. Does that mean that Sam’s bible or Tabatha’s bible was incorrect, simply because the Catholic church predates the Anglican church?

Keep in mind, all three versions of Proverbs 11:30 stated things that were teachings of Christ himself, none contradicted the other, but the SJV was different from both the KJV and the NIV. This doesn’t even get into the fact that the original ancient Hebrew of the Old Testament was written long after Abraham’s covenant with God, and had been passed down through oral tradition that predates man’s invention of the written language.

When the Torah was written, mankind was still in the early stages of the written language. The Egyptians were still using hieroglyphics long after Moses led the Israelites through the parting of the Red Sea. “Fire” was relatively old news at the time, and we as a species had already discovered simple machines such as the wheel and the wedge…but it’s silly to say that man was “technologically advanced” in the myriad scientific disciplines when Genesis was first scribbled onto an animal skin using pigment made from plants. DNA was about as foreign of a concept as a cellular telephone…or, for that matter, even a telegraph. At the time of Genesis, the moon was merely a big bright thing in the sky that no one really had a clue about…and yet, through the wonders of the knowledge that He bestowed upon mankind, some very famous words were transmitted via a radio (another unknown idea at the time Genesis was written). It may have been a small step for a man, but it was a giant leap for mankind.

I’m not certain how old you are, but I’m not quite 32 years old. In my short time on God’s green Earth, it hurts my head to think of the numerous things mankind has discovered. Keep in mind that the words “discovered” and “invented” aren’t the same as “created”, for mankind has created nothing. God created everything we see, smell, feel, taste, and hear…as well as everything we think. Even today, our limited understanding of God’s creation is leaps and bounds above what they were as recently as the day I was born. I can still remember seeing a cellular telephone for the first time in real life, one of my uncle’s friends had an old Motorola “brick” phone like you saw in early rap music videos and episodes of Miami Vice. The computers used to put a man on the moon that at the time took up entire rooms, now take residence in our back pockets…and are also capable of simultaneously taking photographs of our families as we take boat trips on the river, and sending them to relatives and friends on the other side of the world. These advances are here because of mankind taking advantage of the gifts that God has given us all.

I am not persecuting or prosecuting you for the lesson you gave yesterday, I am merely hoping that you open your mind a bit. Your mind is a gift from God, and I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t challenge you to use it as much as possible. However, I do feel that it is insulting to those who have studied evolutionary theory, as well as the countless many who have made it their lives’ work to better mankind through the multitude of scientific advances gained via the knowledge of evolution, when people ridicule it without understanding it. Out of respect for Ozias Missionary Baptist Church (and more importantly, my uncle and aunt), my tongue was on the verge of bleeding from biting it so much during your Sunday School class.

Evolutionary theory is one of the most misunderstood, and most misused, theories found within the realm of science and brought into a church. Throughout your entire lesson, you made two statements dealing with the theory of evolution, with the remainder being your thoughts on certain theories of origin.

Many “evolutionists” such as myself firmly believe that the universe was created by THE Almighty God, end of story. However, I know of at least one of these “evolutionists” (yeah, that “evolutionist” would be me!) that happens to think my God has a plan and a purpose for everything. Every single one of those little atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that make up the essential building blocks of human life has its purpose, and this plan has existed since before God commanded the plants to sprout forth from the earth…and absolutely NOWHERE in the various translations of the Judeo-Christian bible (your version, or mine, or any of the other two dozen), does it say how He went about making it happen.

You choose to believe He spoke it, and it “poofed” out of the earth. I choose to believe that He decided to speak it, and had it planned out for longer than you or I can fathom…and He allowed those atoms to form the building blocks of particular species of vegetation that had been extinct since long before the beginning of recorded history, and have since evolved into the Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Washington Red apples I see at the grocery store today.

Our bibles say He spoke it, and it happened. It does not go into detail as to how it happened, and I feel that it does a disservice to God if we do not investigate to the best of our ability HOW our Almighty God weaved his various creations, in order to provide a better life for our fellow man. We will never understand completely, but He will allow us a bit of knowledge as he has done for thousands of years.

Your discussion of the “Big Bang Theory” is, as I said earlier, one scientifically possible theory of “origin”. It deals with the origin of the creation of the universe, not the origin of life…or the first organism’s evolution into other organisms. To lump them together is either scientific ignorance or intellectual dishonesty. Ignorance of science is certainly no character flaw, as I am personally very ignorant in a great many scientific disciplines…including the majority of evolutionary theory.

If memory serves, you work in the area of hydraulic energy transfer, and in all likelihood you understand how much more of that area there is that you could learn. I know very little about that subject, but I know a bit more than the average bear when it comes to building a computer…and, in fact, I built the computer I’m writing this letter on. Daily, I must glean knowledge from those more knowledgeable than myself in order to do my job, simply because I did not create computers and don’t know all there is to know about them.

Is it is not only an insult to those who have made it their lives’ work to improve our lives through scientific advancement, but also an insult to God when we deny the gifts that He has bestowed upon them (and also, by extension, ourselves)? To recognize the evolution of species as a work of God is not, in my opinion, a contradiction of God’s word or His works. To me, it is a praise of God’s glory, a recognition of His awesomeness, when we truly realize how little we really understand about it but attempt to do our best to use the minds He gave us so that we may help our fellow man.

With love from a Brother in Christ,
-Barry H. Rhodes