Dateline: 28 April 2016
Well, April is almost over and things are getting busy around here, what with the garden and Planet Whizbang sales ramping up. Besides that, tomorrow I'm going to launch into phase-two of my three-phase (three year) house re-roofing project. Back in the day, I could have re-roofed my house in a weekend. Now it takes me three years.
And I'm still making Classic American clothespins, or trying to. I'm now up to customer #44 on my waiting list of 376 people.
So I'm going to take a little break from this here blogging for a week or so. In the meantime, here are some things to read, and think about...
Everett In The News
Everett Littlefield, a frequent commenter on this blog, was in the Block Island Times recently. You can read about him and his 48 x 30 greenhouse at this link: A Satisfying and Self-Sufficient Life. It was a pleasant surprise to see my Garden Idea Book mentioned in the article. Thanks, Everett.
Oh, and for those who missed it, Everett sent me a picture of himself wearing his Planet Whizbang hat. I've posted it at the bottom of This Web Page. I dare say, Everett looks better in his Planet Whizbang hat than John Wayne does.
Links To This Blog!
As far as I know, this is a first... Hernando Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Hernando, Mississippi, has added this blog to it's Links page under the "Creation and Family" category (Click Here to see). My thanks to Pastor Gary L. Jones for doing that.
I thought it might be interesting to see if there were any Presbyterian (ARP) churches around me. It turns out there are only a handful of them in the whole state of NY, and none anywhere near me.
I'm curious... does anyone reading this knows of another church that has links or articles related to Christian agrarianism on their web site?
Why The Amish Don't
Pay Into Social Security
The Amish don't pay into Social Security and they don't have to deal with the government-enforced socialized health insurance scheme (a.k.a., Obamacare) currently being perpetrated onto the rest of America.
How can they get away with that? Well, it's an interesting story. You can read the history at this link: Valentine Byler vs. The IRS.
I'm delighted to see that the Amish do not have to participate in such foolishness. You would think that more Americans might think about becoming Amish to escape the onerous Social Security tax. But the Amish don't let just anybody into their sect. Besides that, precious few American families would really like to be free from the responsibility of taking care of themselves and their own family in old age, without collecting a monthly Social Security check.
The Pension Crisis Deepens
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. That familiar phrase certainly applies to American pension systems, private and public. They're all in trouble, but some more than others. This ZeroHedge Article on the subject is well worth reading. Even if you are not personally connected to a pension, you will be affected by this crisis.
Middle Class Crisis
I read The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans this morning. The secret shame is that they are broke, or nearly so. The article is a lengthy but interesting story of one man's upper middle class struggles. A quote...
"I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses. But, like many Americans, I wanted my children to keep up with the Joneses’ children, because I knew how easily my girls could be marginalized in a society where nearly all the rewards go to a small, well-educated elite. (All right, I wanted them to be winners.)"
His two girls went to private schools, and expensive colleges. Another quote...
"I don’t ask for or expect any sympathy. I am responsible for my quagmire—no one else. I didn’t get gulled into overextending myself by unscrupulous credit merchants. Basically, I screwed up, royally. I lived beyond my means, primarily because my means kept dwindling. I didn’t take the actions I should have taken, like selling my house and downsizing, though selling might not have covered what I owed on my mortgage. And let me be clear that I am not crying over my plight. I have it a lot better than many, probably most, Americans—which is my point. Maybe we all screwed up. Maybe the 47 percent of American adults who would have trouble with a $400 emergency should have done things differently and more rationally. Maybe we all lived more grandly than we should have. But I doubt that brushstroke should be applied so broadly. Many middle-class wage earners are victims of the economy, and, perhaps, of that great, glowing, irresistible American promise that has been drummed into our heads since birth: Just work hard and you can have it all."
The author is a professional writer. He and his wife have no retirement savings because, in his own words...
"...because we emptied a small 401(k) to pay for our younger daughter’s wedding."
And then this insight...
"But lack of money definitely ruins everything. Financial impotence casts a pall of misery. It keeps you up at night and makes you not want to get up in the morning. It forces you to recede from the world. It eats at your sense of self-worth, your confidence, your energy, and, worst of all, your hope."
When I read those three sentences, I stopped, and read them again. And again. I've been there. I know that feeling. Thankfully, it is behind me. I hope never to go back there. I feel sorry for the author.
The Appearance Of Affluence
The Millionaire Next Door is a book worth reading. I no longer have my copy but one thing I remember very well was the part about how there are many people who live an upper middle class lifestyle and really can't afford it. It looks like they have a lot of money, and they may even make a lot of money, but they live beyond their means, just like the guy who wrote the Middle Class Crisis article above.
And surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) many of these upper-middle-class-in-appearance-only people are sustaining their lifestyle habits with a regular influx of monetary help from their affluent parents.
Which makes me think that if you ever visited my home you would realize very quickly that I do not have the appearance of affluence, and for good reason. Thankfully, that has never been important to me.
I Agree With Franklin
Jonathan Cahn's Harbinger book, along with John Hagee's blood moon prophecy are so "last year," but we really shouldn't forget them. Not because of what they predicted with such certainty, but because they are such perfect examples of what Christians should avoid buying into when the next Christian "authority" comes out with another solved mystery or a new revelation about some soon-and-coming event that will rock the world.
My history with such books goes back to my teenage years, when I read Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth. I swallowed that book's message hook, line, and sinker. And followed similar authors in the years ahead. Then came Edgar Whisenant's insightful little book: 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988.
It's a wonder I'm still a Christian when I consider all the dire predictions from Christian "authority figures" that I believed back then, and that never materialized. I'm sure it's the grace of God that has preserved my faith, and the eventual realization that these biblical prognosticators were all perpetrating "another gospel."
When I read my Bible (the New Testament in particular) it is all about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who willing gave his life to pay the penalty for the sins of those who would believe on Him. That penalty is death and separation from God. But because of Jesus Christ, there is personal salvation (from the consequences of our sin) and life eternal. That's the good news.
But there's more... also in the New Testament, I read a tremendous amount of instruction about how followers of Christ can and should live an authentic Christian life.
As an interesting aside, I find almost nothing in the New Testament about the importance of, or need for, evangelizing and proselytizing (a.k.a., "soul winning") by the average Christian believer.
This matter of living an authentic Christian life is all through the New Testament teachings of the apostles (read I John if you'd like an example of what I mean).
With those thoughts in mind, I firmly believe that any preaching or teaching that veers away from the message of Jesus Christ and the pursuit of authentic Christian life is a shallow religious diversion. And this is especially the case when such teaching revolves around some gnostic insights about the future.
I'm rambling here, and I've probably upset a few people (again). All of this has come to the forefront of my thinking after reading Franklin Sanders's excellent review and analysis of The Harbinger. He wrote it in January of 2015. But I just read it the other day. I strongly recommend Franklin's book review to fellow Believers: The Great Evangelical Distraction.