Archives for March 2015

Unforgivable sin

Jack Henry Abbott

Jack Henry Abbott

Once upon a time, Jack Henry Abbott was serving time for forgery and manslaughter. However, Abbott managed to become pen pals with author Norman Mailer from his prison cell and then turned their correspondence into his bestselling book titled In the Belly of the Beast, which received a rave review from the New York Times.

Despite the fact prison officials vehemently opposed his release and considered him unstable, Abbott was paroled after numerous liberal “Hollywood” elitists had championed his cause.

Actress Susan Sarandon even went so far that she honored Abbott by naming her son with actor Tim Robbins “Jack Henry.”

Yet six weeks after his release from prison and with a nice five-figure advance on royalties in his pocket, Jack Henry Abbott senselessly murdered his waiter in a New York restaurant only the day before his book received that untimely rave New York Times review.

It wasn’t merely because he wrote well that Abbott was so readily forgiven his many horrible sins by people like Norman Mailer and Susan Sarandon.

Jack Henry Abbott became successful in part because he wrote what liberal elitists wanted to read — about how the criminal justice system was unfair to criminals, regardless of whether or not the criminal actually deserved punishment as decreed by our judicial system.

What the elitists forgot, of course, was that forgiveness requires repentance. If you aren’t sorry for your sins (all crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes) then you don’t deserve forgiveness.

Jack Henry Abbott should not have been released from prison.

Even so, simply saying “I’m sorry” shouldn’t allow a criminal to escape punishment, either.

According to the Bible, the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. So I believe God would even forgive Jeffrey Dahmer, who claimed to repent and become a Christian while in prison.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer

Because of God’s forgiveness, I believe that Jeffrey Dahmer could be in heaven today. That’s between him and God. I’ll even go farther to say if his conversion was sincere, Dahmer should be in heaven.

But that has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not he should have been able to escape punishment on earth.

Genuine or not, Dahmer’s alleged conversion to Christianity shouldn’t affect or mitigate his punishment by the legal system for his criminal behavior any more than an ability to write should have gotten Jack Henry Abbott out of prison.

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Adam Mark Smith

The case of our third “sinner” is to me the most interesting and baffling. His “crime” pales in comparison to Abbott or Dahmer — to be clear, to the best of my knowledge, Adam Mark Smith has never killed anybody.

He doesn’t deserve comparison to murderers. I only mention him in the same article to contrast the way society has treated Smith in comparison to that of a murderer like Jack Henry Abbott.

Smith’s only guilty of bad behavior, yet there seems to be no end in sight for his punishment.

Three long years ago, Smith was a high-ranking executive at a private corporation with a six-figure salary and seven-figures worth of stock options as well as a part-time professor at a local university.

In one infamous and immortal two-minute video that Smith posted online himself, he completely destroyed life as he knew it, losing both of his jobs in very short order.

Even today, he’s still unemployed. Smith was fired only two weeks into the only job he’s landed since his silly but unbelievably costly “protest” against Chic-Fil-A.

His attitude in the video was so offensive, I immediately remembered the incident. In light of the current brouhaha about the new Indiana law passed to protect religious freedom, it’s important to put all of this into proper context.

Smith claimed that Chic-Fil-A discriminated against gays because they donated money to nonprofit organizations that opposed gay marriage. He grossly mischaracterized their support of traditional marriage as tantamount to homophobia and they even opposed two men kissing.

It was an idiotic thing to say.  The comment can’t be mitigated or sugarcoated. Smith wasn’t only a bully, he made a wrong assumption about the motives of the people involved.

But his stupidity can be forgiven.

No one is attempting to prevent two individuals from having a homosexual or lesbian relationship. The issue remains whether or not people who believe gay marriage is not legitimate for religious reasons continue to have that right originally granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution, or has that been usurped by the rights of gays?

But at what point does society say that you’ve suffered enough, and deserve a second chance? Smith said something stupid, but he didn’t kill anybody.

Let’s be honest — if saying something stupid truly merited incarceration in prison, we’d all be doing life without parole.

I talk way too much, so I’m certainly not immune to saying something stupid on occasion. I try to make sure those utterances aren’t recorded, however.v If necessary, I’d destroy the tape just like Hillary erased her emails. Get rid of all the evidence by any means possible.

My wife claims that I’ll talk to a wall if no one else will listen, but I’m sure that isn’t true. I draw the line at conducting conversations with inanimate objects. I do talk to my dogs, occasionally to plants, and I talk to God all the time. Sometimes I wonder if God tunes me out the same way my wife does.

Okay…so maybe I have offered a few choice words over the years to my tennis racquet and golf clubs. But I’ve never spoken to an actual wall, of that I’m sure.

Though I disagreed with Smith three years ago and disagree with the popular consensus on the Indiana law, I must confess I feel some measure of sympathy for the Smith family — the guy can’t support his wife and four children.

He and his family now live in an RV. They have been forced to rely on food stamps to survive. At what point does society forgive and forget? Doesn’t anybody else feel a little bit sorry for this guy?

I must concede that part of the problem appears to be Smith himself.

Adam Mark Smith

Adam Mark Smith

He has recently published a book titled Million Dollar Cup of Water. The reviews are all over the map — as of this writing, there are twenty eight positive “5-star” reviews and a staggering eighty one negative “1-star” reviews thus far.

A significant number of the negative reviews were written by people who obviously still haven’t forgiven Smith and admitted they didn’t even bother reading his book.

But a disconcerting number of negative 1 or 2-star reviews by people who did read the book basically said the same thing — Smith apparently took the wrong lesson from his horrible mistake. He still views his actions that fateful day as “standing up for his principles.”

Maybe that’s why he still can’t find a job today. Which brings me to another question — plenty of people are making news today for basically saying the same thing about the state of Indiana that Smith said about Chic-Fil=A.

So why can’t he get a job? Why hasn’t Tim Cook hired Smith? Apple surely could use another guy who’s sharp in the world of finance, even if they don’t currently need a new CFO. Smith is certainly politically correct in Cook’s world.

Even Miley Cyrus seems to think people should care about her opinion of Indiana Governor Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Her reported riches far exceed her talent, but perhaps not her ego. Doesn’t she need a highly qualified financial advisor? She can certainly afford the best.

So why aren’t these birds of a feather flocking together? Hell, I feel bad enough for this guy that if I could afford to hire him, I’d give him a second chance out of sympathy alone. But Moe Lane at Red State has a very interesting theory why Smith can’t find a job.

He thinks liberals believe Smith’s plight is actually more helpful to “the cause”, which is presumably the end of traditional marriage. In other words, Smith is seen as nothing more than a useful idiot by the people who most wholeheartedly agree with his point of view.

The only way the end to this story could be any more ironic would be if Chic-Fil-A offered Smith a job.

 

The Pearl: 31 March 2015

Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. – Khalil Gibran

You’re familiar with the expression, “Great minds think alike?”

Proving the truth of that old proverb, the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran and Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw have both said basically the same thing about prayer: that we pray for the wrong reasons.

We don’t give thanks to God for what we have.

Instead, we mostly beg our Creator to give us what we don’t have, as if God exists to serve us.

Stupidity in higher education

1344584593e988923b5f458f698836f4_400x400If you don’t know about the latest scandal revealed by James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, you should check out the link below.

An undercover reporter posing as a student advocate for Hamas and ISIS was told by an assistant dean at Cornell University that representatives of those terrorist organizations would be welcome on campus, and “grant” money might even be made available to help pay for the expenses of their visit.

An associate dean at an Ivy League school doesn’t know that ISIS are the terrorists beheading the prisoners they don’t burn alive?

Or doesn’t care?

The Pearl: 30 March 2015

Einstein_1921The only source of knowledge is experience. – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was arguably one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

This quote is particularly interesting because there are some renowned modern scientists who would try to convince you the opposite is true — they actually claim that careful inference is superior to personal experience.

However, seeing is indeed believing.

In my book Divine Evolution, I wrote about my personal experiences — yes, I do mean to imply there were multiple occurrences — with ghosts. Many of these paranormal experiences were witnessed by other people. And in another chapter, I wrote about my personal encounter with the risen Christ on the night I connected the dots that linked Matthew 7:7 and Revelations 3:20.

Then in my Counterargument for God, I sought to examine what I perceive to be a connection between the near death experience, or NDE, and ghosts, which of course could be called ADES, for after death experiences.

My personal experiences were not hallucinations. They were nothing less than evidence that strongly indicates that the mind and brain are actually separable entities.

There is scientific evidence to support my claims, known as corroborated veridical NDE events. These events involve a person who has a medical emergency of some nature that puts them temporarily in a state near death, and they claim to have out-of-body experiences.

What makes these claims of particular interest are two facts: their medical condition can be verified, and these people make a specific claim of acquiring new knowledge while in that physical “state” that can be investigated and either validated or refuted.

Two more famous examples of corroborated veridical NDE information are found in the cases of Colton Burpo and Pam Reynolds.

When Colton Burpo was four-years-old, he became critically ill due to appendicitis and underwent emergency surgery. When he recovered, he told his mother and father that he met an older sister in Heaven, though Colton reportedly had no knowledge that his mother had suffered a miscarriage before he was born.

His story was made famous by the book Heaven is for Real, and movie of the same name.

In Pam’s case, during a procedure known as Operation Standstill, while her metabolic processes were being carefully monitored, she reported seeing and hearing things that her normal senses were simply incapable of experiencing.

Nor does the compromise idea of “pleasant hallucination” hold water when the information Pam and Colton claimed to learn while in a physically incapacitated state can be investigated and corroborated. We do not have the luxury of assuming they might think they are telling the truth, but in fact they both hallucinated a visit to Heaven.

These people must all be lying in conspiracy — if even one is telling the truth, then both strict materialism and atheism must be false.

 

The Pearl: 29 March 2015

GarciaOnce in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places, if you look at it right. — Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter

The above lyric can be found in the song “Scarlet Begonias” from the album/CD Live From the Mars Hotel.

Yes. I confess that I was once a Deadhead.

There was a time in my past that I sought wisdom from the music of the Grateful Dead and their leader, Jerry Garcia, the primary singer and lead guitarist. However, when Bob Weir, rhythm guitar player and alternate voice of the Grateful Dead suggested that, “Too much of everything is just enough”, I recognized that line wasn’t clever or wise — it was stupid.

That line was from the song “I Need a Miracle Every Day” and it reminded me of the band’s participation in the infamous “acid tests” conducted by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, documented by Tom Wolfe in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Too much of anything is too much of that thing.

Too much of everything will more than likely cause your premature death. Case in fact: Jerry Garcia is no longer a member of the Grateful Dead because he is dead. So I soon decided to stop seeking to gain philosophical wisdom from people who gained fame through their abuse of LSD, in favor of slightly more conventional sources.

The line from “Scarlet Begonias” will always remain true, though.southernprose_cover_CAFG

If I hadn’t first read Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion advocating atheism, I never would have ultimately written my books Divine Evolution and Counterargument for God.

That is indeed a most strange place for me to have begun to truly see the light, and to begin the assembly of what has become my “Big Picture” argument in support of a supernatural Creator.

The God Delusion was a very strange place to begin my journey, indeed.

As another famous Grateful Dead song once proclaimed, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

 

The Pearl: 28 March 2015

Most people do not pray. They only beg. – George Bernard Shaw

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was a prolific writer, literary critic, author of the famous plays Pygmalion — which later was turned into the famous musical My Fair Lady.

Shaw has been the only winner of both an Academy Award and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

He was also a member of the socialist Fabian society, a staunch advocate of eugenics, a serial adulterer, and a man who once wrote a Dublin newspaper to declare “with inflexible materialistic logic, and to the extreme horror of my respectable connections, that I was an atheist.”

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

His personal faults aside, Shaw was absolutely correct in his astute analysis of prayer and the human condition. By and large, we humans do not pray to God and give thanks for the wonderful gifts we have received.

Instead, we tend to beg our Creator for materialistic possessions that we still covet in spite of our blessings. Or for personal miracles.

But rarely does it seem that we ever just say “thanks.”

The Pearl: 27 March 2015

James_ThurberDon’t get it right. Just get it written. – James Thurber

James Thurber was a very funny man. His short story “The Catbird Seat” is one of my all-time favorites.

And in my opinion, there is an element of truth in any clever expression of good humor.

However, if there is intention to publish, this quote only applies to the first draft. And if you plan to sell what you write, I strongly recommend hiring a professional editor.

The Pearl: 26 March 2015

anthony_hopkinsOur scars have the power to remind us that the past was real. — Dr. Hannibal Lecter, from the film “Red Dragon”

The line above could have been written by Thomas Harris, author of books such as Black Sunday and Silence of the Lambs.

Of course, the quote might have been scripted by Ted Tally, the man who wrote the screenplay for the movie Red Dragon.

Since I don’t have a copy of the book handy to see if the line originated there but I know it was in the film that was based on the novel, I’ll give partial credit to both, as well as to Sir Anthony Hopkins, who so memorably played Hannibal Lecter in the movies.

Great lines are perceived to be great because they succinctly summarize some true and astute observation of life.

I can remember the accident or specific event that caused each of my most significant scars. Over the years, my body has accumulated a number of interesting ones.

My mother used to say that if all my scars simultaneously turned back into open wounds, my body would fall apart like a rag doll. I have been stitched up more than my fair share. There was a point in my life where the nurses in the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah recognized me on sight, I visited them so often.

one of many scars

one of many scars

Combine a relatively high threshold for pain with a healthy desire to live life to the fullest, you might acquire a few scars like these yourself.

The hard truth is that real world doesn’t forgive very many mistakes without giving us a scar as a reminder.

Edmund Burke famously said these true words: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Scars provide a visible reminder of our history. Also, they make interesting conversation topics at the beach.

The scar pictured on the right is on my left forearm, the result of surgery for a condition called compartment syndrome. There’s a matching scar on the top side of the same forearm. Fortunately my case of compartment syndrome was chronic and not acute, so it never became a life threatening issue. Of course, even minor surgery carries some element of risk. Undergoing anesthesia means being in a state much closer to death than sleep.

It is a calculated risk, however. The potential benefit must be worth more than the theoretical cost to risk undergoing the surgeon’s knife.

My past has been real, all right.

 

 

 

 

The Pearl: 25 March 2015

Goethe_(Stieler_1828)Common sense is the genius of humanity.  — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is significant because he was a genius. Experts have estimated his IQ was over 200.

Obviously, this brilliant literary mind placed great value on common sense, as did my own dad.

My father always differentiated between what he called “book sense”, meaning formal education, and common sense, by which he meant the ability to figure things out and function in the real world.

As the Pearl from several days ago suggested, the United States of America would probably not exist as a nation, if it were not for Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

Simply stated, common sense is very underrated.

The Pearl: 24 May 2015

Mark_TwainFamiliarity breeds contempt – and children. — Mark Twain

Once upon a time, my wife and I had two young children at home aged 8 and 3, and a border collie named Maggie who loved to herd the munchkins.

One night Maggie got a little too excited while following her instincts and nipped at one of our daughter’s friends, so my wife and I took our most excellent little sheepdog to obedience training.

The lady at obedience school told us, “One problem is that your dog doesn’t respect your children.”

To which I honestly replied, “Most of the time, we don’t either.”

The trainer seemed to think that was a significant contributing factor to our dog’s bad behavior.