Monday, April 23, 2012

Please Fix This Bug, Google

I just discovered that Google has been screwing with Blogger again (not for the first time, I might add) in a manner which has caused my blog to display in a manner I consider to be unacceptable.

If you will take a look at the first attached graphic file, you will see how I currently have formatted this blog to display, Notice that one of my Pages is entitled "Site Map".

The problem is that when you view the actual blog, the heading for the Site Map is partially hidden. If you were to view this blog for the first time, you would never know that that Page was even available.

I really hope Google fixes this problem quickly, because I have invested a lot of time and effort in this blog over the years, and I hope to continue to do so in the future. There is no point in allowing bloggers to create static pages on their blogs if they cannot be confident that ALL of those pages will be displayed correctly.

A Question of Taste

When I lived in Chicago, I attended a Lutheran church on Belmont Street while working for a female Jewish lawyer whose office was just west of the neighborhood known euphemistically as "Boys Town".

Now, when I was a kid, the phrase Boys Town referred to a benevolent organization which provided homes for young boys. (See But in keeping with the general tendency of the so-called gay rights movement to pervert previously innocent words and concepts, the phrase has now come to refer to a Chicago neighborhood in which the promotion of homosexuality is considered to be not only acceptable but admirable. (See the related Wikipedia article.) One of the events I couldn't avoid seeing when traveling to and from my job working for that lawyer was an annual "Gay Pride Parade" taking place in that neighborhood.

I specifically recall standing on the Belmont "El" platform and seeing numerous people pouring into that neighborhood for their celebration. They dressed in a manner which seemed to be deliberately calculated to offend people who believed in decency and biblical values.

One particularly sickening example: One young woman had painted a small rainbow (the new symbol of homosexuality, even though it meant something altogether different for centuries) on the crotch area of her jeans. There was a big sign on her garment, with the words "Taste The Rainbow" pointing to the rainbow painted on her pants.

Fortunately, some Christians are speaking out against this absurd offense against the English language. See the following article about the courage of a pastor in the state of Washington, where I currently live:

When the Bible says in Psalms 34:8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good," it has nothing to do with genitalia.

Maybe if that young woman with the rainbow painted on her crotch had read that scriptural invitation, she might not have been tempted to exhibit her appallingly bad taste for all to see.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ethics and the Workplace

America is suffering from economic hardship, and has been for quite some time. That's hardly news. But I contend that it's a kind of divine punishment for the fact that we have lost our moorings ethically and morally. In my opinion, the church is partly to blame, for allowing companies to practice "business as usual" instead of speaking prophetically against these destructive practices.

For example, a lot of conservative churches and pastors use the term "anti-family" to describe politicians who endorse or tolerate abortion or homosexual marriage or divorce. And I believe that that's an apt description of such things. But it seems to me that such moral "leaders" are rather selective (conveniently so) in their outrage.

I've long known that a lot of businesses and business owners practiced and promoted policies which were detrimental to family life. Consider, for instance, the common tendency to prefer to hire two part-time workers rather than simply hiring a single full-time worker, even though 40 hours of labor are needed by that company. Why do they do such things? Isn't it obvious? They want to save the money the would necessarily spend on employee benefits for full-time workers. Of course, there are companies which don't give such benefits to any of their workers, and that's deplorable on some level, too. But grown adults need and deserve to be given full-time jobs which enable them to provide for their families.

The aforementioned practice  is blatantly anti-family, and I find it shameful that our pulpits have been virtually silent about the issue.

A man who must work two part-time jobs because he is unable to pay living expenses with the income he would receive from one decent full-time job is a man who must spend time needlessly commuting from one part-time job to the other (wasting fuel and other resources in the process) instead of spending that time at church or with his family. He is a man who, even when he is able to spend time with his family, is unduly subjected to stress, which has negative consequences in terms of his health and his costs of health care. A man constantly on the road has less job security, and less ability to reliably provide for his family. And this is overlooking the fact that mothers are often subjected to these same market forces. Latchkey children are the obvious consequences, creating a society characterized by children who are deprived of moral instruction because their stressed out mothers can barely keep their wits together.

Parents have little time to spend together, so there is greater temptation to commit adultery (also known as "having an affair").

Why don't our pastors speak out against this wretched state of affairs, which cries out for reform? Duh! They are afraid of offending members of the business community and causing tithes and offerings to dry up. Such business people have disproportionate control over what these cowards are willing and able to do.

The social changes which forced many people to work for temp agencies just to get a paycheck have been similarly devastating. Temp agencies can sometimes be better than no job at all, but they tend to be run by people who are clueless about such things as loyalty. No job is immune to the temptation to fire people instead of giving them the opportunities to take corrective action in order to hold onto their jobs, but temp jobs are notorious for that kind of thing, When the first indication that a client is dissatisfied with one's job performance is the fact that one has mysteriously stopped getting calls for new assignments from an agency with which one had reliably gotten assignments in the past, there is something wrong. Clients who complain to temp agencies are automatically given the benefit of the doubt, instead of making a genuine attempt to fairly hear both sides of the story. A temp worker can be deemed unhirable by an agency because a client woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Such horror stories are far from uncommon among temp workers, yet if a person tries to avoid getting sucked into this mess, he may be accused of "laziness" by unsympathetic church leaders.

Jobs in which employers define "loyalty" as the willingness to tell lies for the sake of making sales or covering their bosses' behinds are all too easy to find. Some pastors in training see nothing wrong or immoral with imposing such expectations on their employees.

Jesus was deeply offended and even angered when he observed such things in the supposedly righteous society with which he was surrounded.

Some people ask, "How can you tell whether or not a man truly loves God?" I say that it has very little to do with how many worship services one attends or how much money one gives to one's church, although I acknowledge that both of those things are desirable whenever they are feasible. True love is not merely a useless emotion. Real love precludes the commission of acts which harm others.

Yes, I believe that intrauterine murder (also known euphemistically as "a woman's right to choose") is immoral and offensive. But it's high time we realize, as members of churches, that our hands are often stained with blood, even if we never participate indirectly in abortion.

When we begin to behave with unimpeachable integrity, then we will begin to create conditions in which real revival can take place. Then America may regain its reputation as the "city on a hill" it once claimed to be.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yelp and The Church

If you have ever visited, you know that it's a web site where people are allowed, even encouraged, to post reviews of local restaurants, retail stores and more. Read this article on Wikipedia to learn more.

No one who operates in the business world likes getting a bad review on Yelp, or even in a person's private blog post. But business people know that anyone who wants the benefit of good word of mouth recommendations has to be willing to take the bad with the good. And actually, such feedback benefits such companies, not just the people they serve. Without such feedback, how are they supposed to know how to make their products and services more appealing? Smart business people covet such feedback, even to the point that they actively and regularly solicit such feedback by means of online surveys for which they offer incentives to participants.

Too bad that concept seems to elude the minds of a lot of leaders of that organization known as the church, a/k/a the Body of Christ. Too often, pastors' attitude mimics the attitude of a poster I once saw. It showed a guy dressed as a mafia "don", and looking as if he would love nothing more than to break someone's leg. He was saying, "When I want your opinion, I will give it to you."

Of course, one would never hear such pastors admit that that's their attitude, at least not in a forum where large numbers of people could catch them in the act of saying such things. But many act as if they can make such statements in secret or when they only have a few present witnesses. Apparently they have forgotten that on Judgment Day, there will be no secrets.

I have observed a strange dynamic, among many church leaders, who talk a good game with regard to "service" but who act as if that is the last thing on their minds. The phrase "cognitive dissonance" can best explain the discrepancy. The term "hypocrisy" also seems applicable.

The phenomenon is not a particularly new one. Jesus observed that same phenomenon when he entered Jerusalem on what we now call  Palm Sunday. It must have really made him mad, since he was observed to turn over the tables of the money changers, and even to wield a small whip. (This is a link to just one of the many classic pieces of art which have portrayed that incident.) gives pretty detailed information about that episode, but anyone who reads his or her Bible can verify that Jesus was not always "meek and mild", at least not as such terms are commonly understood by some people. A book entitled "Hard Sayings of Jesus" could be (and in fact is) a pretty thick book.

What do you think? If there had been an Internet, and a place like, do you think that Jesus would have written and posted a bad review of the practices at the Temple? Compared with what he actually did, I think that a bad online review would have been a mild response indeed! And what Jesus did in the Temple on that day was mild in comparison with what he said he would do to unfaithful servants when he returned. See Luke 12:48.

Some people might think that it would set a bad precedent if we started publishing reviews of individual churches, but I personally think it's a great idea for which there is a crying need. A lot of tragedies in the history of the church might have been averted if there had been a means of regularly holding abusive church leaders accountable. Maybe the evils we now think of when we hear the term "Inquisition" would never have existed.

Some say that the modern church has become too ensnared with a "consumers' mentality". In the minds of some people, lack of "submission" to church authorities indicates lack of submission to Christ.

To that, I say "poppycock".

Such people need to read and understand what Christ himself thought about the church (or rather, what then passed for "church" among the Jewish people). Mark 2:27 makes it clear (as explained in this article) that the sabbath was not an end in itself, but rather, it was intended to function as a means to an end. When the Jewish pharisees and other leaders acted as if subservience to their nit-picky rules was more important than helping hurting people, Jesus made a point of violating their rules, not because he was opposed to rules per se, but because he genuinely loved people and he came to liberate them, not to bind them in more legalistic rules.

If indeed a Yelp-style site is appropriate for shining the light on bad service at a local restaurant, how much more appropriate would it be to use such a site for the purpose of shining the light on church leaders who are clueless about the meaning of true Christian service? I wish I could honestly say that such pastors and Christian leaders were rare, but I cannot. The blog post I wrote and published here yesterday ought to make that very clear. Ditto for a number of other articles I've published here over the years since I began this blog.