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Member since: Fri Apr 4, 2014, 04:21 PM
Number of posts: 16,104

Journal Archives

Dow closes more than 200 points lower as Walmart posts worst day since October 2015

I know, I know, it's terrible about 'the money.'

But you know? Wall Street and Walmart? We are who we are!

Oh. Welcome back to Washington, Mr. Precedent! Enjoy your vacation?

Source: CNBC, by Alexandra Gibbs

The Dow Jones industrial average fell sharply on Tuesday, pressured by a steep decline in Walmart shares and a rise in interest rates.

The 30-stock index closed 258 points lower — snapping a six-day winning streak, with shares of Walmart shedding 10 percent. The retail giant's stock posted its biggest decline since October 2015.

The S&P 500 pulled back 0.6 percent, with consumer staples declining more than 2 percent. Walmart was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. Kroger and Kraft Heinz, which are also in the staples sector, were among the worst-performing stocks in the index.


Read the rest at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/20/us-stock-futures-dow-data-earnings-and-politics.html

A Descendant of Robert E. Lee Speaks Out Against the Sin of White Supremacy

Source: The Progressive, by Eric Gunn

The Reverend Rob Lee has an unusual vantage point from which to view this time of deep political polarization.


Lee, twenty-five, emerged as a distinctive voice last year in the movement to remove monuments to his ancestor and other Confederate leaders. After last summer’s rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by an automobile driven by a rally participant, Lee made public statements against white supremacy in his capacity as a church pastor.

Rev. Lee says:

We’re entering a world of cultural evangelicals, not spiritual evangelicals. Those people engage in culture in such a way that they are conservative, they have conservative values, but they’re willing to vote for a man who said he would grab a woman by her private parts. That’s not Christianity to me.

What we’re seeing is almost the de-evolution of the evangelicalism and conservative evangelicalism that started with the Moral Majority. This is a real problem for Christians, especially progressive Christians like myself, who see this as a grave injustice to the faith. This is a real problem.

We’re all tired of hearing evangelicals talk about President Trump as if he’s a savior. I think this is in my realm of responsibility today. Many Christians have normalized what Donald Trump is doing. That’s really scary. That means we’re getting in bed with the empire. Jesus was very clear about those things that we weren’t supposed to be in touch with, and one of those was the empire. I think some evangelicals are selling their souls to the Republican Party.

I don’t know what the future holds in terms of this movement or this mission, but I know that none of us are going away any time soon. I think there’s a potential for us to come together in a different way, to really work hard. Being in the pulpit—it’s a balancing act there. But you have to remember that you have to be true to yourself as well.

Read it all at: http://progressive.org/dispatches/speak-up-and-speak-out-rev-rob-lee-180215/

"Labels fail me: Am I still an Evangelical?"

Another voice shouting from the Bible Belt!

Source: AL.com, by Dana Hall McCain

So why the discomfort with the label?

It's because I have awakened in mid-life to find the label as frequently associated with the political as the spiritual. It started with a seemingly innocent commingling of the two in the 1980s. The idea was to mobilize conservative Christians in order to have our values better heard and represented in Washington.

When we believe that government--rather than our own submission to Christ and evangelism--is the whole ballgame, or even the most important facet of it, we become vulnerable to all sorts of compromises needed to win and maintain power. Truth is no longer what we pursue at all costs--power is, because we believe we can't live without it. (First century Christians would LOL at the thought.)

The second problem is that when we come to associate one political party, wholly and without exception, with the cause of Christ, but we don't do the hard work of bringing that party to heel regarding the values of Christ, we're no longer leading. We are being led. Such is the relationship between Evangelicals and the GOP. We don't bring our weight to bear in the party for causes like DACA, because we're prone to embrace and hold up as immutable truth the party talking points on immigration, even when they are at odds with the words of Christ.

Call me dogmatic, but I'll go with the words in red over what the Steven Millers of the world espouse when the two disagree. And I won't tell you that hateful speech, or arrogance, or trite dishonesty from any president is a good thing, even if some of his policy positions align with my own. We've lost the guts needed to take our own people to the woodshed, because we've believed that our primary job is to beat Democrats instead of the Devil.

The Devil is delighted by this misunderstanding.

Read it all at: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/02/labels_fail_me_am_i_still_an_e.html

Facts, Truth and Meaning

Excerpt from: Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Interview with Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms and Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.


In my book, I’m making an argument for the recovery of a broader, richer understanding of the imagination. Reason and imagination are paired faculties: we need both in order to think about anything. In order to make reasoned judgments, such as whether something is true or false, we first have to have something meaningful to think about, and that’s where the imagination comes in: it creates meaning.

Thus, at its heart, an apologetics approach that is imaginative is one that is focused on the creation of meaning. So much of the time, when we use Christian terms or concepts in apologetics and evangelization, we’re using words that are empty of meaning for our listener, or that have had their meaning twisted or trivialized. When we talk about ‘sin,’ people think it just means ‘fun stuff that Christians don’t want us to do.’ When we talk about ‘heaven,’ people often think it means ‘spirits floating around on clouds.’ (I say this as a former atheist who thought precisely that!) If people think sin is no big deal and heaven is boring, then they aren’t going to understand what we say about these things – if they are even interested enough to listen at all. In order for our apologetics discussions to be fruitful, we need our words and ideas to carry real meaning for our listeners – and that’s where imaginative apologetics comes into play.


One of the key points in my chapter on metaphor is that both figurative and literal language are modes of communication of truth (or falsehood, as the case may be). It is not the case that metaphors are somehow inherently ‘less true’ than propositional language. Scripture is packed full of metaphors, and we can only make sense of what the Bible says if we recognize that this is non-literal, truth-bearing language. Jesus is described as ‘the Lamb of God’: this is a true statement, but it does not mean that the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate as a baby sheep (we recognize that this would be a very stupid reading of the text). Rather, we see that this powerful image tells us who Jesus is, and what his mission is: he is pure, innocent, gentle; he is also the sacrifice for our sins. We can say all these things in propositional language, but it does not convey the holistic meaning of ‘the Lamb of God,’ in which all these different meanings are simultaneously present and taken in, through the image.

Metaphors, in short, are effective because they are potent (packing a lot of meaning into a single image) and because they are interactive (the reader or hearer has to engage with the image to grasp the metaphor). They are thus highly generative of meaning.


Devil on the 'Go to Church' sign has an intriguing backstory

I bet every state has at least one of these 'stranger than fiction' stories!

Source: AL.com, by Kelly Kazek

This familiar "iconic" sign on I 65 between Montgomery and Birmingham is going back up after a storm took it down a while ago:

There is another "iconic" roadside attraction between Montgomery and Prattville on HWY 31. This thing is so "out there" a few years ago I got my family to don tin-foil hats and pose around it for photos (lost in a computer crash). We called it "The Pratt." What the hell is this?

Now, the rest of the story.

In this photo, the Red Devil sign is seen in front of the Tan-Kar Oil Service Station. It is this devil that W.S. Newell used on his iconic "Go to Church or the Devil Will Get You" sign that has been seen along Interstate 65 since 1988. It is currently being replaced following a storm but the original devil was saved.

Do you see what's lurking in the background in this photo?

After the story was published, I received an email from Ralph Foster, a reader who told me the sign was not the first appearance of the long-tailed devil.

"The red devil silhouette actually is much older," he wrote. "It was part of a tin sheet-metal neon sign on Highway 31 between Montgomery and Prattville, marking the Tan-Kar gas station at Red Devil Lake. The devil sign survived the closure and demolition of the old station and remained abandoned on the highway until Mr. [W.S.] Newell acquired it from the property owners. He then used it on his now famous 'Go to Church' sign."

On the left, there is that "thing" again.

And then (some might say, "Of course!" ):

In August of 1939, the dam at Red Devil Lake burst. The book "Prattville, Alabama: A Brief History of the Fountain City" includes this recollection from resident Gene Kerlin: "It was the worst flood Prattville ever had. The Red Devil dam broke. A railroad trestle downtown was also destroyed in the flood." The waters caused $250,000 in damage, the book said.

Read all of it at:http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2018/02/devil_on_the_go_to_church_sign.html#incart_m-rpt-2

9 faith leaders on "thoughts and prayers" - and action - after tragedy

Reverend Frank Scott: So what resolution should we make for the New Year?

It's to let God know that you have the guts and the will to do it alone. Resolve to fight for yourselves, and for others, for those you love.

And that part of God within you will be fighting with you all the way.
-- "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972)

Source: Vox, by Tara Isabella Burton


Offering “thoughts and prayers” after such tragedies is so common that it has become a model for performative sympathy and inaction. It’s the title of a satirical video game in which players are challenged to use “thoughts and prayers” to stop school shootings (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work). It’s the title, too, of a particularly cynical BoJack Horseman episode about mass shootings, in which beleaguered film producers find themselves rolling their eyes while they trot out the phrase, again and again, in response to real events as they try to get back to the “actually pressing business of making sure the movie gets made.”

But for faith leaders from a variety of traditions, prayer — particularly prayer after a mass tragedy — is more than a byword for inaction. For some, it’s an opportunity to engage with a higher power, or to express sorrow, sympathy, or solidarity. For some others, it’s the first step toward taking meaningful real-world action. And for others still, it’s an excuse to do too little.

We talked to members of the clergy from different Christian denominations, and faith leaders from religious traditions more broadly, about the role of prayer after a tragedy and what it really means to offer “thoughts and prayers” to those in need. Their responses have been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity (subtitles only, much more at link):

• Prayer can be a powerful grounding force

• Prayer reminds us to reflect on others

• “I want people to stop going to church and start being the church”

• Prayer can move God’s heart

• Prayer is a form of submission to God’s will

• Prayer means reflecting on hard truths

• Prayer and action feed off each other

• Acknowledging the suffering of others is important, even if the phrasing is trite

• God may move your heart through prayer to show you how to act

Read it all at: https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/10/3/16408658/9-faith-leaders-action-after-tragedy-florida-shooting-majory-stoneman-douglas

"50 States of Blue"

"Welcome to 50 States of Blue, a national hub for local news and progressive politics from all 50 states and the District of Columbia."


Points of View Matter

We believe in fairness, accuracy, transparency, and truth, including truths that may be uncomfortable. But we don’t believe in false equivalence, and we don’t believe that a detached, “view from nowhere” air of objectivity is necessarily the best way to serve the public or promote good storytelling.

50 States of Blue unapologetically embraces points of view, especially those of our correspondents. Their personal experiences, political insights, and community connections are tremendously valuable and can’t be found elsewhere.

Our goal is to publish work that is deeply trustworthy, including to people who disagree with us — not because it avoids taking sides or making statements, but because it is always grounded in facts, informed opinions, observations, and critical self-reflection.

We’re incredibly excited to launch this project and watch it grow, and we hope you’ll join us on the journey.

Anything wrong with this map?

Ryan Murphy Heads to Netflix in Deal Said to Be Worth Up to $300 Million

Netflix. Streaming. The old guard IS falling.

Source: CNBC, by John Koblin


On Tuesday night, Netflix announced that it had poached the hit-making producer Ryan Murphy from 21st Century Fox.

The five-year deal is worth as much as $300 million, according to two people with knowledge of the deal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations. That would be one of the biggest deals ever made for a television producer.


Mr. Murphy’s contract with Fox expires in the summer, and he will make the move to Netflix in July.

The prolific producer behind “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck” and the anthology series “American Crime Story” and “American Horror Story,” Mr. Murphy would have been a key piece in the expanded Disney empire, and Fox executives made several attempts to keep him in the corporate family. Amazon also courted him seriously, which played a role in driving up the price for the 52-year-old writer, director and producer from Indianapolis.

“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” Mr. Murphy said in a statement. “I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallized and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me.”


Read it all at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/14/new-york-times-digital-ryan-murphy-heads-to-netflix-in-deal-said-to-be-worth-up-to-300-million.html

Where Do You Go When You Die? The Increasing Signs That Human Consciousness Remains After Death

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet

Source: Newsweek, by Kastalia Medrano


Modern resuscitation was a game-changer for emergency care, but it also blew apart our understanding of what it means to be dead. Without many people returning from the dead to show us otherwise, it was natural to assume, from a scientific perspective, that our consciousness dies at the same time as our bodies. Over the last few years, though, scientists have seen repeated evidence that once you die, your brain cells take days, potentially longer, to reach the point past which they’ve degraded too far to ever be viable again. This does not mean you're not dead; you are dead. Your brain cells, however, may not be.

“What’s fascinating is that there is a time, only after you and I die, that the cells inside our bodies start to gradually go toward their own process of death,” Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at New York University Langone Medical Center, told Newsweek. “I’m not saying the brain still works, or any part of you still works once you’ve died. But the cells don’t instantly switch from alive to dead. Actually, the cells are much more resilient to the heart stopping—to the person dying—than we used to understand.”


Parnia's research has shown that people who survive medical death frequently report experiences that share similar themes: bright lights; benevolent guiding figures; relief from physical pain and a deeply felt sensation of peace. Because those experiences are subjective, it's possible to chalk them up to hallucinations. Where that explanation fails, though, is among the patients who have died on an operating table or crash cart and reported watching—from a corner of the room, from above—as doctors tried to save them, accounts subsequently verified by the (very perplexed) doctors themselves.

How these patients were able to describe objective events that took place while they were dead, we're not exactly sure, just as we're not exactly sure why certain parts of us appear to withstand death even as it takes hold of everything else. But it does seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our consciousness may not, or at least not right away.



“I don’t mean that people have their eyes open or that their brain’s working after they die," Parnia said. "That petrifies people. I’m saying we have a consciousness that makes up who we are—our selves, thoughts, feelings, emotions—and that entity, it seems, does not become annihilated just because we've crossed the threshold of death; it appears to keep functioning and not dissipate. How long it lingers, we can’t say.”

Read it all at: http://www.newsweek.com/where-do-you-go-when-you-die-increasing-signs-human-consciousness-after-death-800443

Faith and Science

We hear the argument that science is not faith-based like religion - because there is no provable, verifiable fact underlying most religion.

Dr. Ejaz Naqvi makes some interesting observations about this:

Scientific Fact: Most of the scientific (and non-scientific) community believes that light travels at 186,000 miles/second.

However the fact is that most of us (if not all of us) have no idea how fast that is.

That it's really incomprehensible for most people.

Most people (I would say over 99% of us) have not independently verified it themselves.

But they have faith in the scientists, so they believe this to be true.

I am in that category.

Scientific Fact: Our galaxy-the Milky Way, has a diameter of about 100,000 light years and that the Sun lies about 30,000 light-years from the center. (A light-year is the distance traveled by light in one year and is roughly 5,880,000,000,000 miles or nearly 6 trillion miles).

To be frank, most of us (if not all of us) have no idea how big that really is.

That it's really incomprehensible for most people.

Most people (I would say over 99% of us) have not independently verified it themselves.

But they have faith in the scientists, so they believe this to be true.

I am in that category.

Are the messengers of God (e.g. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad) and the Scriptures (The Bible and the Qur’an) like those scientists who asked the others to believe in the unseen?

Believing in the unseen God is incomprehensible (to some at least).

Most have not independently verified it.

But they still have faith.

But they have faith in the messengers/scriptures, so they believe this to be true.

If so many of us express such an unblinking faith in science, why would it be such a leap to express that faith in one's religion? Isn't faith in either coming from the same source?

We believe in things we cannot even comprehend because people we trust tell us it is true. That is faith.


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