Charlie's Blog: August 2015



So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

St. Paul the apostle and evangelist to the Gentiles looms large today in the world of Protestantism. The first is the example of his life which provides a template for many of the conversion stories we hear of a sinner who got saved and turned from his wickedness. I remember one memorable ex-Hell's Angel who left the outlaw biker world and accepted Jesus as his savior and went around telling everyone how he got saved. The second is the large volume of writings St. Paul left behind in the New Testament which has became fertile ground for the numerous misinterpretations of various Protestant ministers, sects, and denominations. The worst of those misinterpretations is the doctrine known as "once saved, always saved" or OSAS. This is the belief that a person who converts to the Christian faith will never lose his or her salvation even if that person continues to live a life of dissolution and wickedness. This particular doctrine is popular among Baptists and evangelicals except there is one big problem with OSAS. It isn't in the Bible. OSAS is a heresy and a dangerous heresy.

OSAS or the doctrine of eternal security finds its genesis in the teachings of John Calvin. Martin Luther believed it was possible to lose your salvation, but John Calvin rejected this. This became the fifth point of Calvinism known as the perseverance of the saints. Calvin taught that a person elected to salvation by God's predestination would demonstrate faith in that election and would persevere in that faith until the end of his days. Here are the words of John Calvin:
Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgement, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases. If it is asked how the difference arises – why some steadily persevere, and others prove deficient in steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former, so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be monuments of instability. 
Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.5.3
I used to be a Calvinist in my twenties, so I am now one of those monuments of instability that Calvin mentions because I rejected Calvinism to become an atheist. Now, I am a Roman Catholic which makes me even more damned in the eyes of Calvinists. I have to laugh a bit at this. I remember when my Calvinist friend killed himself that there was some question about whether he went to heaven or hell when he died. These were seminarians, professors, and ministers asking this most basic question. So, finally, the one minister that buried my friend said that he was in heaven based on the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. If your good works can't get you there, your bad works won't keep you from getting there. Logically, he was correct. If salvation is by faith alone, you shouldn't be able to lose that salvation no matter what you do including mass murder and suicide. But salvation is not by faith alone. The logic was correct, but the premise was flawed.

For me, I believed in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, but I was perplexed by my friend's suicide because I had the correct understanding of Calvin's doctrine which our confident minster did not. Calvin never taught OSAS. He taught the perseverance of the saints which is that those who truly believe will persevere in that faith until the very end. As a Catholic, I still subscribe to this. If you have faith, you will produce good works and remain in the faith until your death. The error Calvin made was in the doctrine of election. Those who had faith would never fall away because it was never possible. Those who did fall away never had faith. As a Catholic, I reject this.

I knew my friend. He had faith. He believed more ardently and strongly than I did. Yet, he killed himself. I cannot presume upon his fate because it is a sin. But his suicide put me in an abyss of confusion and despair because here was a person who had faith but did not persevere as Calvin taught. That event devastated me to the point that I concluded that religion was a poison and became an atheist. But I was wrong. Heresy is the poison.

OSAS is the poison of today. It is simply the sin of presumption. When Jesus commanded His followers to judge not lest they be judged, He was talking about presumption. We must never presume that anyone is in Hell. This includes Judas Iscariot and Hitler. The only fates we know about are those of the saints who through their lives, miracles, and the witness of the Church have made it to Heaven. They stand as beacons of hope that we can also make it by God's grace. But as for everyone else, we don't know, and we should not presume to know. In this life, presumption comes in the form of this eternal security heresy. The presumptuous hypocrite signed on the line that is dotted. Now, God has to deliver the goods. Nevermind that the hypocrite exhibits no sign of change and can't even be bothered to pray or go to church. Jesus has paid the price, so they can ride their La-Z-Boy recliners through the pearly gates.

Now, there are many Protestants who reject OSAS because even they can't stomach the presumption anymore. They all know of people like my cousin who has been "saved" four times usually while in jail or some drug treatment program. But this salvation fails to stick usually when its party time again. But this puts them in a perplexing situation about that faith alone stuff. Luther concluded that a person could lose their faith. Calvin concluded that they never had faith. Protestants and evangelicals fall on both sides with some going the Lutheran route teaching that faith and salvation can be lost with others taking the Calvinist route doubting that faith was ever there in the first place. Lastly, you have those antinomians who believe logically and correctly that if salvation is by faith alone then you can live anyway you like and still make it to Heaven. All of these people are in error.

The correct answer to this dilemma of OSAS is found in the quotation from St. Paul at the beginning of this essay. You have to work out your salvation with "fear and trembling." Some idiotic heretical Protestant type will try and play word games with what St. Paul says here, but there it is. Salvation is by faith, but it is not by faith alone. A person's conversion to faith is simply the beginning. They must follow through until the very end producing the fruits of repentance that Jesus commanded and expects from all of us. St. Paul never presumed that he was going to make it. Here is what he had to say about perseverance,

But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. 

This verse alone shows two things. The first is that Paul had faith. The second is that it was possible for him to lose that faith and salvation. You will not find the La-Z-Boy chair in any of St. Paul's letters. You will find many assurances of God's faithfulness in forgiving us and perfecting us. God will never let us down. Those verses are the ones that the hypocrites use to justify their belief in OSAS. But they neglect their part to work towards their salvation.

The Gospels are replete with commands to produce the fruit of repentance. Jesus curses the fig tree for not being fruitful. There is the parable of the stewards commanded to produce a return on the talents given to them with the unprofitable steward being cast out. The same story is repeated in the parable of the wise and the unwise virgins with the unwise virgins being locked out of the feast because they had not prepared. There is the wedding guest who came to the celebration in his rags and was tossed out. The Gospels clearly dispel the OSAS heresy, but this is why the vast majority of Protestant churches don't preach sermons from the Gospels. They always go to Paul because they can more easily twist his writings than they can the clear teachings of the Gospels.

The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by faith and works. It is not faith versus works. It is both. As St. Josemaria Escriva put it, "Conversion is the matter of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime." When someone converts to the faith, they have opened the door to God's grace to work in them. When they close that door through mortal sin, they are cut off from God's grace. God's grace is what produces the fruit in a believer's life. No one can enter heaven without being conformed to Christ. Basically, you have to become a saint to enter heaven. This is why St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24, " Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." You don't win the race by merely putting your name on the entry blank. You don't win the race by simply standing on the starting line or running part of the way or quitting or even finishing. You win the race by winning.

At this point, the person who believes will despair. How can I possibly win this race? I am a sinner. I am weak. I can't make it. These are all true. In our own power, we have no hope. We cannot save ourselves. The idea that we could save ourselves comes from that other heretic named Pelagius. If we are to become saints, God will have to make the change. St. Paul says in Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God can do what you cannot do.

The thing that worries people is that they mistrust themselves. They have no confidence in their own strength. This is a good thing. This is that fear and trembling that Paul mentions. This is humility. But this fear should not drive us to despair as it did with Luther. It should drive us to Christ and the sacraments. The fact is that God has given everyone free will, and this free will is not forfeited when one converts to Christianity. As St. Augustine put it, "God who created you without you, will not save you without you." At any moment, you can step off the train and get back on the road to hell. The choice is always yours, and you make this choice each and every moment of your life.

My advice to everyone is to take the freedom that God gives you and offer it back to Him. Original sin took away our freedom, and Christ gave us our freedom back. Here is St. Paul again,
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The entire chapter of Romans 6 is worth your reading and study because it lays it out clearly. We are free in our choice to be slaves to sin or to be slaves to Christ. But this choice only becomes permanent at the end of our lives. At every step, we can choose to return to the slavery of sin. This is what mortal sin is about. St. John writes,
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 
1 JOHN 5:16-17 NASB
This is the difference between mortal sin and venial sin. Think of these as felonies and misdemeanors. Someone who goes five miles over the speed limit is not nearly as evil as someone who commits murder or treason. Likewise, mortal sin is so severe that it results in spiritual death. When committed, the person becomes virtually desensitized to the evil they have done. Think of the episode of King David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then committed murder to cover his crime. He was confronted by the prophet Nathan who declared, "Thou art the man!" David recovered his senses in that act of charity, and he repented. But it cost him something. Forgiveness is never cheap.

Mortal sin and venial sin show that we can lose our salvation. Let's put it more simply. At any point in your life, you can choose to stop loving God. Mortal sin is the choice to stop loving God. A man who forgets to take out the garbage may disappoint his wife, but he hasn't stopped loving her. But if that man has an affair with his secretary, he clearly does not love his wife. Likewise, with God, we may stumble, but we still love God. But if we murder people or slander them or commit other serious acts, we have stopped loving God. God will not make you love Him. But He will never stop loving you.

OSAS is the belief that God will make you love Him either now or in the afterlife. God is not going to do this. God loves you, and He wants you to love Him back. Love God with all your being and spend the rest of your life perfecting that love. But if you hate God, you can never enter into that blessed state of loving Him forever. It isn't rocket science.

The believers in OSAS can be rather disgusting in their presumption. They treat the gospel and conversion not as the opportunity to change but merely as fire insurance and a security blanket. They are like the example I gave of that adulterous husband who thinks he can have his doting wife and his hot secretary and everything will be fine. Yet, here are the words of our Lord,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. 
Who are the ones who practice lawlessness? That's easy. Those would be the ones who preach OSAS and faith alone. They are the ones who say "Lord, Lord" but live like the devil. But if you love God, you will obey His commandments. You will do anything not to offend Him who loves you so much that He died for you. I feel sorry for those people who believe in OSAS to their peril, and I pray that they will be delivered from their delusion and ignorance. I also pray that I never hear those words said to me, "Depart from me." May God forgive us all for the offenses we have done against Him. May He help us to love Him in purity of heart and deeds. May we persevere in the love and faith that He has put into our hearts.


Apocalypse Now

"How did you go bankrupt?" 
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.
The Sun Also Rises

For the last few days, I have been watching the world financial markets experience a massive downturn and listening to financial talking heads on CNBC try to explain what they don't know. As I write this, the Dow is down 11% for the year. It has given up all its gains for this year, and I expect it to go lower over the next month. So, what's really happening?

There are all sorts of explanations about how China is to blame, but this is a misdirection. The real blame is the US economy where consumers (middle and working class people) are simply out of money and have maxed out on debt. The Fed and the 1% have been on a steady train of economic rape of the lower classes ever since the collapse of 2007 as they have transferred wealth out of the pockets of the hoi polloi into the trading accounts of Wall Street speculators. The result is a colossal run up in the market while the US economy has been in the toilet.

This is the slow motion deflation of the US asset bubble. The pin prick came from the Federal Reserve jawboning the markets with an expected rate hike in September. Will they actually hike rates? The conventional wisdom is that the Fed will leave interest rates at zero and may pursue a fourth round of quantitative easing. This is because they are following a Keynesian playbook, and this is what Keynes would tell you to do.

What will happen? In the short term, I don't know. I wish the Fed would do a rate hike. I want the bubble to end. I've been in cash since the beginning of the year. I would urge all retail investors to get the hell out of this market. If the Fed does what is expected by not hiking rates, the bubble may continue. I don't know. I just know that the Federal Reserve decided to print its way out of the 2007 financial crisis and has postponed the collapse to a later day making it more severe.

The financial pundits talk about China and commodities, but the simple answer is this. Their supply has exceeded US demand. This is because US demand is broke. The Chinese devalued the yuan to try and spur exports, but it won't make any difference. Their stocks are down because our consumption is down. The US stock market does not reflect reality. The foreign markets do.

Are we headed for a massive collapse? Yes. I just can't time it. We are between now and inevitable. And am I rooting for this collapse? Absolutely. This is because the make believe economy of these speculators is killing the real economy of working people like myself. My life has been frozen for the last seven years because I refuse to become a debt slave like the rest of the middle and working class. I have been punished for saving. I have been delayed and hampered in my efforts to escape this madness and create my own economy. My patience has worn thin over the years, but if this collapse comes and spreads, I can put myself in a position to never endure this again for the rest of my life. But if my patience has become foolishness, I am ready to give up and throw in the towel. I will admit that the meek really don't inherit the earth, but the earth belongs to a blingy female with a credit card.


The Way of the Mule

Mules have a strong sense of self preservation. This is one good reason why mules physically last longer than horses do. If they are overheated, overworked, or overused for any reason, mules will either slow down to a safe pace or stop completely. Mules are not stubborn. Neither are donkeys. Yes, if you want them to work too hard for their own well being, especially in hot weather, they will be "stubborn." We have never heard of a messenger running a mule to death the way legends say they ran their horses! The facts that mules are inclined not to panic, that they think about what is happening to them, and they take care of their own physical well being prevents many accidents that might happen if they were horses.

I love animals. I don't love them the way a pet hoarder loves dogs and cats. I love them because each animal represents certain traits that I admire. We are familiar with how people have the hearts of lions or can be as prickly as a porcupine or as stubborn as a mule. I think God makes animals this way to teach us something. Animals are nature's lessons in virtue.

I think people resemble animals in their traits. I remember telling my brother that he reminded me of the wolverine. The wolverine is an animal possessed of insatiable hunger, ferociousness, and fearlessness. A wolverine will take on animals many times bigger than himself like bears and take their food from them. What makes the wolverine like this is not his size but his hunger. My brother resembles the wolverine because he never let his apparent limitations keep him from doing awesome things.

For me, the animal I most closely identified with was the rattlesnake. The rattlesnake is a nasty creature that can harm you, but it at least warns you before it bites you. You can kill a rattlesnake with your bare hands, but you will also be killing yourself in the process or live scarred and wounded from the encounter. My identity with this animal was inspired in part by the Gadsden flag which Tea Partiers and libertarians fly often these days and also my atheism. The rattlesnake is a weak animal but a mean animal. Most people and animals give this creature a wide berth. That was definitely me for many years. I became a very mean person, but I restrained myself to only striking at those who deserved it. This strategy is what I called the Way of the Snake.

I wasn't born mean, but I can say that I had the good beaten out of me. I became mean as a consequence of the things that happened to me. The only trace of morality left in me was the rattle at the end of my tail. You always got a warning before I bit you. If you heeded the warning, everything would be fine. If you disregarded it, I was going to get you even if I destroyed myself in the process. I didn't care. I was going to make you pay. My venom glands filled to bursting, and I desperately wanted to hurt someone. But no one took me up on it.

The Way of the Snake was turning my soul black. Consumed by anger and a desire for revenge, I knew that I was transforming from a rattlesnake to a black mamba. The black mamba is not like a rattlesnake. It gives no warning. It bites and bites again. It is aggressive and will chase you. Its blackened mouth is like its blackened soul.

I can only say that it was God's grace that kept me from that fate. The hatred of your enemies will consume and eat your soul. I still struggle with the the residue of that hatred and anger. My antidote has been to offer prayers, rosaries, and divine mercy chaplets on behalf of all those who have ever wronged me. When you hate others, the hatred consumes you and destroys you. When you love others, you find your humanity once more.

Upon converting to Catholicism, I renounced the Way of the Snake. This is because the Way of the Snake is the way of the original serpent--the Devil. The Devil gets at your soul through your hatred. I struggle, but I seek to find the way to love those I have hated. I forgive because I wish to be forgiven.

Forsaking the snake, I have looked for another animal that best captures my thinking and ways now, and I have settled on the mule. The mule is not a glamorous animal but the sterile offspring of a horse and a donkey. This makes him a rare animal combining the best traits of the horse and the donkey. The mule is an animal made for work. Mules eat less than horses, subsist on lower grades of feed, and require less care than horses. They have fortitude and are robust to adversity and harsh conditions.

The mule is no fool though. If you mistreat the mule, he will show you the stubbornness that is famous to mules. Treat the mule right, and he will treat you right. The mule knows self-preservation and will not allow itself to be beaten or worked to death like a horse. If you go too far with a mule, the animal will give you a swift kick to the head and knock your teeth out. But if you work with a mule, he will give you few problems and more years of service than a horse.

I follow the Way of the Mule now. Basically, I just work and give few problems. But if you mistreat me or try to make me do what I choose not to do, I am going to dig in my heels and refuse. And if you strike me, I am going to bust your teeth down the back of your throat. This is not revenge but resistance. There is a difference. Revenge is when you want destruction for the other person. Resistance is when you don't want destruction for yourself or the ones you love.

The mule has another virtue. It is a protector. This surprises people, but a mule will protect its owner and livestock against predators. Mules will kick a coyote or wolf to death if it tries to take a calf from a herd.

The mule will never win a beauty contest, but I love this animal. I identify with it. The mule is blue collar and bad ass. I would take a mule over a horse anyday. The mule is my animal spirit.


The Silent Majority

And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.

The most entertaining show of the summer television season is whatever show Donald Trump is currently on. This guy has taken over the media with his campaign for president, and he is riding a tidal wave of popularity. The media is apoplectic about this guy and why he is doing so well. They first tried to dismiss him. Now, they are trying to explain and understand his popularity and failing. They also hope he will implode before the actual voting though they are going to enjoy the ratings he generates in the interim. They don't get this guy, but I get this guy. I understand his popularity and why he is doing so well. And for those who dread a Trump presidency, be afraid. This guy can win and win big in 2016.

Trump appeals to Nixon's famous "silent majority." These are the quiet Americans who weren't protesting in the sixties and seventies, but they did vote. Nixon got the majority part right, but these people have never been silent. In fact, they tend to vote for the loudest mouth in any campaign. In this instance, that mouth belongs to Donald Trump.

If you want to understand Trump, you have to understand this silent majority. Trump understands them. He even used Nixon's term to refer to them. He gets what these people are about. The media does not. So, who are these silent majority types?

The silent majority are the white blue collar people who do the dirty jobs in America every single day. In Nixon's day, they were overwhelmingly men, but the silent majority includes women now. In recent elections, they were referred to as "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads." The one constant is that they are working class people. They might be farmers, truck drivers, factory workers, or unemployed wishing they had a job. But these folks don't wear suits and ties to their workplaces. This is why the media don't get them.

It is a truism in business that you don't get rich selling to the rich. There aren't that many rich people. If you want to make a fortune, don't make Lamborghinis. Make Ford F-150 pickup trucks. If you want to get rich, sell to the poor. In politics, you don't win elections by catering to the rich either. The rich people's money may pay for campaigns, but the candidates still need the votes of the masses to get into the White House. Most candidates are divided between what the money wants, what the media wants, and what the masses want. They need all three to win, so they have to pull off a trick where they appeal to all three in a weird calculus that turns out the wishy washy almost cookie cutter candidates we see today that say one thing in a campaign and do the other when elected.

Donald Trump has exploded the calculus with the simple arithmetic of being rich. This leaves him having to cater purely to the masses and the media. Trump is media savvy knowing that ratings are what matters. So, he generates ratings with controversy. 

It doesn't matter if it is All in the Family, The Morton Downey Jr. Show, or YouTube. Controversy yields eyeballs and ratings. Trump knows this which is why he is always edgy. Of course, this approach lacks dignity befitting a president, but this has never been a problem with the silent majority. This is because they aren't silent. I have lived with them and worked with them. Trust me, they are loudmouths. When they see another loudmouth on the tube, they recognize their own and give their support.

The media largely ignores the silent majority because they see these people as imbeciles. The more fitting term would be the "ignored majority." This is why any candidate who demonizes the media automatically gets support from the silent majority. The silent majority feels the sting every time the microphone is given to some protester with a sign or the head of some liberal organization with ten members.

What does the silent majority believe and what do they want? They are basically conservative but in the most primitive way. A true conservative is someone who can read, and the silent majority aren't into reading. They don't have much grasp of the issues except that their lives suck. They are proudly patriotic but in the same way they might root for a football team. They just want their team to win, and they always blame the coach which is the President.

This patriotism expresses itself in a belief in a strong military and a desire for war. This is logical when you consider that the silent majority are the people you find in the cheap seats at a hockey game. America is never greater than it is when it is kicking some other country's ass.

On the domestic front, the silent majority believes the problem with America are those blacks on welfare that don't work and those Mexican immigrants that do work taking away all the good jobs that the white folks don't want because they involve backbreaking manual labor. Foreigners overseas are also hated because American companies like to move their factories and production over there to take advantage of the slave labor. Somewhere in this mix of racism and xenophobia, the silent majority fails to see the moneyed interests and corporations behind all of this preferring to blame the black or brown persons they see instead of the rich white guys that they don't see.

There's not much more to the silent majority than these issues. The genius of Donald Trump is that he taps into this effortlessly by wearing a red hat that says "Make America Great Again." He smack talks Mexican immigrants and praises law enforcement which taps into the unspoken racism of the silent majority. He waves the flag and talks about rebuilding the military as if the USA doesn't already possess the largest military arsenal in the world. Trump may sound like a complete idiot, but he knows how to press the buttons of the silent majority. He cleverly talks past the media to these people. The media needs these people for ratings.

Trump isn't the first guy to tap into the silent majority thing. Nixon and Reagan did it. H. Ross Perot did it in the nineties before imploding. Jesse Ventura did it to a certain extent in Minnesota. Basically, if you wave the flag and talk tough, you will win the vote of the silent majority. I would like to say there is some humble virtue in this silent majority, but there isn't. If they were church going people who believed in God and country, I could like them. But they are the ones you find at a monster truck show.

A better candidate than Trump for the silent majority would be Bernie Sanders. Like Trump, Sanders is a maverick, and he has a better grasp of why the lives of the silent majority are in the toilet. But Sanders is a Democrat and a socialist. These things put Bernie Sanders beyond the favor of the proletariat he claims to represent. Marxism is great at diagnosing the problems, but it provides a cure worse than the disease.

The problem in this country is elementary. The people who run things are evil, and the people who can change things are stupid. Those stupid people are the silent majority. As for Donald Trump, I don't think he is stupid. This leaves the question of good and evil. The man is no saint, but he seems less slimy than Hillary, Jeb, and the rest. Being rich affords him the luxury of running out of conviction than necessity. But let's be clear about one thing. The biggest thing Trump believes in is not God nor a set of principles but in himself. This desire for ego gratification makes him as bad or worse than all those other politicians. Trump might make it to the White House, but he will almost certainly turn it into the Trump White House replete with all the bad taste he is famous for in all his properties. The man claims to love America, but he loves himself more. I suspect he will be the pride before our fall.


Travails of the Vegan Evangelist

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.

I love Anthony Bourdain. His show is the best thing on CNN now. The man is utterly entertaining in everything he does. He is the Evel Knievel of the culinary world. This man has eaten some of the tastiest food from virtually every corner of the world. He has also eaten some of its worst crap. This would include cobra, a seal's eyeball, and putrefied shark. The cool thing about being vegan is that it spares you from eating this crap. But Anthony Bourdain proves that he will try anything once.

I can understand Bourdain's disdain for a plant based diet. It cuts you off from a wide range experiences that life offers like cheeseburgers, cheesecake, foie gras, and explosive diarrhea. Of course, chastity and fidelity do the same thing as it cuts you off from homosexuality, S&M, bestiality, and gonorrhea. Life is full of trade offs, and I am glad that guys like Anthony Bourdain boldly venture where I refuse to go.

Veganism is not popular in the same way that chastity is not popular. People want their pleasures. If the pain that accompanies those pleasures are no deterrent, nothing I say about the virtues of plant based eating are going to make a difference. This is why I am less than enthusiastic when someone approaches me about becoming vegan. I just tell them that they don't have the discipline and self-control to stick to it, so they should just keep eating crap until it kills them.

I am not frustrated about the unpopularity of the vegan gospel because you have to care in order to be frustrated. I think people suffer from what I call the "will to convert." This is a variation on Nietzsche's will to power concept. Basically, people want others to agree with them and jump on board because it gives them a feeling of control and vindication. This is how conversion can often lead to coercion. But I reject this desire to control, so I am mostly indifferent to what people put in their mouths or what religion they practice.

My travail in being a vegan evangelist doesn't come when people don't listen to the vegan gospel but when they ask to hear it. For some reason, vegans have earned this popular image as zealots for a cause which is why Anthony Bourdain can compare them to Hezbollah. But the fact is that meatheads are more obnoxious about you being vegan than you are. No matter how silent you may be about being vegan, some meathead will air their opinion to you the moment they discover you don't eat meat.

The reason meatheads are so obnoxious is because they know they are wrong. You can't eat crap and not realize that it is crap. It makes you feel bad, gain weight, and all the rest. Then, you have some vegan that shows a better way, and it produces cognitive dissonance. So, they go through the usual routine of citing junk science, ad hoc reasoning, and ad hominem attacks to convince you that you are wrong even though you used to be a meathead and now feel awesome as a vegan. The mere existence of a healthy vegan is enough to upset the meathead myth. Reality has this effect.

I think it is possible for people to change, but I think it is highly unlikely that they will. So, I tell them this. You're not going to become vegan. You're going to listen to that information that confirms your meathead beliefs even if that information is false. And you are going to tell me the 50 pounds I lost was just "water weight."

Telling people that they are going to fail at something makes them mad, but they still do exactly what I say they are going to do. One guy recently asked me about veganism, and I just told him to watch Forks Over Knives knowing that he wouldn't even finish the documentary. And, of course, he didn't. My dim view of human nature is constantly affirmed.

I am also tired of pointing to some famous vegan that lost weight on a plant based diet only to have them relapse back to meatheadism. The biggest example of this would be former president Bill Clinton that reversed his heart disease on a vegan diet but who went on a paleotard diet at the urging of Hillary. That was pretty stupid and a good reason as any to not vote for her.

I've reached the stage where I just want to eat my plants, and everyone else can eat their dead animal flesh. This has been hard as I hear people complain about their type 2 diabetes, the relative that had a heart attack or stroke, or the guy I know who inflamed his gout on an Atkins style diet. All of this is preventable and reversible on a vegan diet. So, I say something, and no one listens. People would rather die than give up meat. I can accept this. The next time I hear about a guy complaning about the poor circulation in his feet, I'm going to save my breath even if they put the hacksaw to his foot. If someone told me that I didn't have to lose a limb to diabetes, I would listen even if I thought the guy was a nut. This is because I want to keep my feet. But I am the only person I know that actually listens to people.

People love meat. That is the bottom line. LOVE IT. They will do anything to have it. Their nightmare is a world without meat. If you banned meat in prison mess halls, they would cry out over "human rights violations" and win. Prison rape is more tolerable to these people than a menu free of hamburgers, pork chops, and gravy. I am a fool if I think I could ever make these people vegan when even the vegans like Bill Clinton can't stay vegan. I am out of the vegan evangelism business.


Knights and Barbarians

We need knew knights, but without swords.

Some years ago, a friend told me a story from his life. He had been dating this young lady for some considerable time, but he refused to make a commitment to her. Wanting to force the issue, this lady informed my friend that she was pregnant. His response to this was immediate. "You need to abort." Naturally, she burst into tears, and that was the end of that relationship. She was not actually pregnant but had merely said so for reasons that I will make clear as we go along. But I hope that you can agree with me that this episode is shameful and tragic.

When I meet a man, I put him in one of two categories. He is either a knight, or he is a barbarian. The Gentle Reader asks, "What is the difference?" The difference is in two worldviews. The knight is a man of faith and virtue who does not prey on the weak but defends and protects them. The barbarian is a man of violence and vice seeking to fulfill his lust and greed. He is without faith, and the weak are subjugated to him. But most of the time, he is just a pathetic jerk.

The lady with the false pregnancy was with a barbarian, but she hoped with her ruse to find a knight underneath the slime. The leopard would change his spots this time and become what he was not. But he was exactly what he was which was a barbarian. You can feel sympathy for this lady because she wants what all women want which is a knight. But this is not an age of knights but an age of barbarians.

Most men today are barbarians. The culture celebrates the barbarian and idolizes him in the form of the gangster and the pimp. In a prior generation, the culture celebrated the knight in the form of the cowboy and the patriotic soldier. But as nihilism took hold in the sixties and the seventies, virtue became equated with stupidity and weakness. The good guy became a chump.

Most men today are adolescents. They play video games and dress like children. They do not marry if they can help it, and they are unfaithful when they do marry. They do not go to church or pray. They listen to silly music about the most banal of things like cars and alcoholic beverages and loose women. Many of them are unemployable preferring to spend their days living off parents or unemployment while smoking large amounts of dope. I can go on and on here.

Who is to blame for this? I could put the blame squarely on a generation that denigrated the Christian faith. I could blame the women's movement of the 1970's that did more to liberate men than it did to liberate women. I could blame fathers for not raising their sons to be men. I could blame religion for not being more robust in promoting the virtues. But I must confess that the barbarian has always been there even in times when knighthood was celebrated.

In better times, no one typified on the screen the knight more than John Wayne. Wayne was the epitome of what all men wanted to be. He was tough, but he was the good guy. Offscreen, Wayne was nothing like the good guys he portrayed on screen. He was an alcoholic and an adulterer. He was a phony. This fact is what would make the Baby Boom generation rebel against their parents. It was the belief that they were phonies.

The phoniness theme found its most potent expression in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye published in 1951. The narrator Holden Caulfield repeatedly decries phonies and the phoniness of the world. For some reason, this novel about an angst ridden adolescent found resonance with an angst ridden adolescent generation. But phoniness is just another word for hypocrisy. So, you have one generation that lauded virtue but made a mockery of it with their lives, and you have another generation that simply mocked virtue altogether. In this period, knighthood died. Holden Caulfield killed it.

You can see Holden Caulfield in every douchebag that wears his cap backwards and sags his pants. And what is their defense? They are keepin' it real. Basically, it is easier and better to be a real failure than to try and live by a code and become a phony in the process. Being a knight is a fantasy.

When a barbarian meets a knight, he is apoplectic and shocked. Then, the questions begin all aimed at trying to find the chink in the armor. Do you look at porn? Do you cheat on your wife? When the barbarian can't find what he seeks, he creates it through defamation of character. The knight must fall. He must pull a Lancelot, betray his king, and run off with the queen. Why is there so much desire to see the knight disgraced? The answer is obvious. The knight shows a better way. He creates an option for men who have come to believe that their only options are to be barbarians.

The way of knighthood begins and ends with faith. Every man I put in the category of knight is a man of religious faith. He prays and attends church. His life is dedicated to God. I don't think it is possible to be a knight without the help of God. God's grace is what turns a barbarian into a knight.

The image of a knight is a man clad with armor and a sword, but this is not what a knight is in the modern world. The knight is simply a decent fellow who keeps his word, is faithful to his wife, provides for his family, and raises his children in faith and virtue by both word and deed. This is very simple stuff here. Yet, where are the knights? Sad to say, I know more barbarians than knights. Most men I meet are a disgrace.

It is hard to be a knight in today's world. How can you be a faithful husband to a faithless wife? How can you provide for your family when the company you work for cheats you at every turn and lays you off on a whim? How can you be a good father to children who mock and abandon everythig you teach them? How can you believe in God when everything in life is so rotten and bad? No matter how you look at it, the knight in today's world faces an uphill and losing battle. He looks more like Don Quixote than Sir Galahad.

The choice to be a knight is not an easy one nor will it necessarily be a successful one. The world is such a joke today that to be a knight in it is to literally be a fool. But this is what makes a knight. The knight defies the world in all its lunacy and depravity. It is less about changing the world than remaining undefiled by the world. This is what it means to have courage. It is standing firm while the cowards run away with their tails tucked between their legs.

The world needs new knights. Men are clowns. They dress like clowns and act like clowns. And they don't even have the self-awareness to recognize their ridiculous state. The better path is always the harder path, but it is worth taking. Knighthood is forged in faith and adversity. Chivalry may be dead in the world, but it doesn't have to remain dead. We can always take it back if we remember what we were and what we can be again.


Planned Parenthood Is Evil

I had an abortion. It was the right decision for me and my husband, and it wasn’t a difficult decision.

Planned Parenthood is a hot topic in the news now thanks to some undercover footage acquired by less than ethical means to uncover the fact that PP sells organs and tissues from aborted babies. Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress and many states are underway. I support those efforts. I pray that Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion industry in this country would be shut down for good. Abortion is murder, and Planned Parenthood is evil.

I'm not sure why this latest news about selling tissues has created controversy since abortion is still murder and will remain murder even if PP stops selling tissues and organs. But it has been my experience that people really become interested when money comes into the picture. Prior to this, pro-choice people went around with the delusion that Planned Parenthood was some kind of charitable endeavor working from a position of principle. To find out that they make dollars changes the game for them considerably. Officially, Planned Parenthood is non-profit, but I am finding that this label is a dubious one for many organizations. This LifeNews article points out that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards raked in $500K in salary last year. But this excessive compensation is also present at organizations like the Red Cross and even Catholic Relief Services.

If Cecile Richards took $1 a year, it would not change the fact that abortion is murder, and Planned Parenthood is evil. If a murderer took money from a victim's wallet and spent it, it pales in significance to the act of murder. For pro-life people, the money part makes it sicker, but for pro-choice people, it merely makes it troubling. The only apology Richards could give was over the "tone" of the videos.

The real issue here is the dead conscience of this nation. Let's be straight and honest here. People who believe in God oppose abortion. People who do not believe in God support abortion. Those who claim to believe in God and support abortion are despicable hypocrites. It is a religious issue because morality comes from religion. Those without religion have no basis for their morality except the law and what they can stomach. These are the residue of a formerly Christian society. As a former atheist, people would remark at how decent I was as a person, but they didn't know how my soul was decaying by the year. What made me decent was the Christian sensibility I retained from before the loss of my faith. This is the state of the USA today. But I was sliding into the darkness, and this nation is also sliding into the darkness.

Abortion on demand will not end in this country until people regain their conscience once more. I don't know how this will ever be accomplished because I don't think laws or protests or even essays on blogs will make much difference. Without God, all things become permissible, and the United States of America does not believe in God. Abortion has been legal for over 40 years in this country and is the prime indicator of this country's stance towards God. The atheists are winning.

All I can do is pray, write this blog, and give my support to women's centers that help women with crisis pregnancies to have their babies instead of having abortions. It is disheartening and sad to see this evil go on virtually non-stop for my entire life. This is an evil country. I pray that God puts an end to this abomination.


The Episcopal Church

My first memories of religion were being taken to Episcopal church. My father was Catholic, but my mother, I believe, was Episcopal. So I sort of veered off into the watered-down version of Catholicism.

I like the Episcopal Church. I need to get that out of the way at the beginning, so that people don't get the wrong idea about my opinion of the Episcopal Church. I am glad that it is there. I am happy that it exists. It is helpful to point to this church when I talk with cafeteria Catholics and Catholics in Name Only. This is because I believe the Episcopal Church is the church for Catholics who can't be Catholic.

Here is the brief history of the Episcopal Church. Before the Revolutionary War, this was essentially the Anglican Church in the colonies. Then, America broke away, and those churches could no longer swear loyalty to the King of England. So, they pledged their allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the Episcopal Church was born. It still remains in the Anglican Communion.

Today, the Episcopal Church is the epitome of liberal Christianity. It has the veneer of Catholicism but the soul of Unitarianism. It is simply the perfect church for Catholics who can't stand what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. So, when I hear Catholics grumbling about the Church needing to change with the times, I simply point to the Episcopal Church as the church they are seeking. Then, I tell them to go there. This ends the conversation. Why remain in a church you hate when the church you want already exists?

I am kinda crazy on this idea that when you belong to a group or organization you disagree with that you should simply leave that group or organization especially when one you do agree with already exists. For instance, if I belonged to a punk band, trying to turn it into a country-western band would take more effort than to simply join or start a country-western band. Similarly, if you find yourself in an organization that you disagree with for holding views that you find morally reprehensible, you certainly need to leave that group. Who tries to turn the KKK into the NAACP? Who tries to turn the Communist Party into the Libertarian Party? Yet, this is what dissidents try to do within the Catholic Church.

Now, not all Episcopalians are down with women's ordination and gay marriage and all of that. But here's the thing. They go ahead and schism out. One of those is the Anglican Church in North America. These folks knew they belonged to a church that was ridiculous and a mockery of Christianity. My recommendation to them is to read about Cardinal John Henry Newman and his journey to Catholicism. These people need to come home to the One True Faith.

As for the heretics and apostates, I ask it once again. Why do you remain in the Roman Catholic Church when the church you want already exists? The Episcopal Church is pro-gay marriage and pro-choice. You can divorce and remarry. You will be respected in the community once again and loved by your neighbors. Episcopal clergy can marry, have gay lovers and partners, and make a lot of money for doing some light duty. It's a no-brainer.

Yes, it does feel weird being an evangelist for the Episcopal Church, but I believe in doing it. If you're going to be a heretic, at least be an honest and principled heretic. Yet, the fact that these heretics want to stay in the Roman Catholic Church and destroy it only bolsters my belief that these people are agents of the Devil and wish to corrupt the Catholic Church from within. It is the only logical reason for them to remain in the Catholic Church.



. . .my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

Over the past few weeks, I have been dealing with problems with my internet service. Now, the problem was curious because my internet was not completely lost. In fact, I was able to continue blogging and do many of the necessary things. But I would have entire hours and even most of the day when the internet did not work at all. I did all sorts of things to remedy this problem with virtually no progress. The strange thing was that this schizophrenic internet was a blessing. I suddenly had more time to do things and read actual books versus lamenting that I didn't have time to read the books on my list. I adjusted my life to this third world level internet, and I admit that I was happier for it. Then, it got fixed, and I was back on the information nipple again. Life has returned to "normal," but I feel less happiness as a consequence.

I see the hand of Providence in my internet troubles. I think God was telling me something, so I will now tell it to you, Gentle Reader. We are deluged with a world of so much information that we are drowning in it. We have the internet, television, books, movies, Kindles, smartphones, and on and on. Currently, one satellite television service provider offers a DVR that will record up to 200 hours of programming. This is the equivalent of five standard work weeks. This begs a question. When would you have the time to actually watch 200 hours of programming? Assuming that new programming is being recorded while old programming is being watched, it becomes mathematically impossible to ever watch all those shows. We can laugh at the absurdity until we contemplate our own digital hordes. How many pieces of email are in your inbox? How many books are there on your Kindle that are unread? How many friends are you following on Facebook? The problem is ubiquitous.

Information overload or IO is when the quantity of information exceeds the time that you have to actually consume the information. It could be dead tree media like books, newspapers, or magazines, Or, it could be the digital media that comes to us via smartphone and the internet. But the actual time it would take to consume this information would take multiple lifetimes. Consider the old time newsstand. If the newsstand owner were to sit down and try to actually read every single line of every newspaper and magazine at his newsstand, he could not even come close to accomplishing this task even if he had a year to do it. And when you consider that this is just the information available for a single day for the newspapers and a single month for the magazines, the flow of new information comes faster than he can consume the old information.

Information overload has always been among us going back to the time when people laboriously copied books by hand on scrolls. In the days of paper books and analog media, the limit was primarily financial. Those copies of books and magazines cost money, so one's budget would limit one's information diet. Then, television happened, and the cost of information went down dramatically. This was the first time people lamented the time sucking nature of the media. I remember it came to a head for me in the nineties after reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, and I got rid of my television set. I went years without a dumb box in my home until 9/11 made me reconsider the value of having a television set. But to this day, my hourly television consumption for a typical week is in the single digits. The internet is another story.

The internet was primarily a text based medium in the nineties, and I still retained my analog media habits of reading books and listening to CDs. For me, the internet was simply a more convenient library than the real library. But there was another element to it that was different. The internet had a social dimension thanks to chat rooms, messageboards, and comboxes. I would interact with people in these various forums which was how my blogging career came to be. Then, social media happened, and it had the effect of an alcoholic moving from beer and wine to grain alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous and a place on the liver transplant list are needed at that point. Thankfully, I was able to overcome my Facebook addiction. But the general IO problem remained to the present.

Neil Postman died in 2003, so he is no longer here to give much direction in this Brave New World of IO. But he did have his finger on the problem. Here is Postman on the IO problem:
Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one's status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don't know what to do with it.
The television problem was easily solved by unplugging the thing and putting it out with the next day's trash. The internet problem cannot be solved this way because it is a virtual necessity in today's world in much the same way that cellphones are a necessity because of the disappearance of pay phones. If you can't kill the beast, you must at least tame it. The problem is that we don't know how to do this.

I think the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem. I do not think it is a coincidence that texting and driving has now eclipsed drunk driving as a cause of highway death. For many drunks, the first DUI conviction is a wake up call. I think a similar thing may happen with smartphone addiction. Once you smash up your car and kill some other people in a traffic accident, I think this would motivate you to drop Facebook and go back to a flip phone. I was pondering with someone else why the cops aren't enforcing the laws against texting and driving since I catch people doing it multiple times a day, and we concluded that the cops were too busy on their own smartphones to catch people breaking the law. The only time a cop cares about your phone is when you are video recording him beating the crap out of an innocent person. But I digress. . .

Once you admit you have a problem, the next step is trying to solve the problem. Unfortunately, there is no 12-step program for information addiction. You could tell people to unplug from information completely, but this is not a solution anymore than fasting and starvation are the solution to overeating and obesity. At some point, you have to eat again. This requires learning to eat a better diet. But how do you put yourself on an information diet? No one seems able to offer one.

Before the internet, there was still more information than you could consume. As I have already pointed out, this problem has been with us since antiquity. The problem here is not an issue of quantity. The world does not have a problem with too much information anymore than it has a problem with too much food. The problem with information like the problem with food is that we have lost the ability to choose and limit our consumption. Just like fast food made calories convenient and cheap, the internet did the same with information. Since people tend to like to eat crap food, it stands to reason that they also like crap information. This is why what began as a network of academics and government workers is now a vehicle for watching dogs on skateboards or people lighting their own farts. Then, there is the underworld of porn that runs beneath the internet like a sewer of endless filth. But that is a topic for another essay.

What the internet did was make information cheap and convenient. Prior to the internet, information cost money to produce, distribute, and consume. This made people selective about the information they consumed because they only had so much money to spend. With the internet, the cost is now so low that selection has vanished such that the limiting factor is no longer money but time. So, the most obvious answer to this information gluttony would be portion control. But portion control does not work with people's food diets, so it will not work with people's information diets. Sitting down with an egg timer at your computer is not going to solve the problem.

What I have learned from following a vegan diet is that the solution is not to limit quantity but to improve the quality of what you consume. The quality of much of the information today is incredibly low relative to what it was at the beginning of the internet. The reason for this is clear. The internet moved from being a text based forum to being more of a visual based forum. Text would be the carbohydrate of information while pictures and videos are the fat. So, the best information on the internet would be something like Wikipedia while the worst information comes from YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. If you wanted to redeem the internet, the easiest way to accomplish this would be to have a feature that disabled pictures and videos. This would take care of the porn problem. Those memes would vanish. Facebook would be a cyber ghost town. A purely text based internet would remedy many problems, but the carbohydrate would be a simple sugar. This is better than fat but not by much.

In my own life, I have discovered that the best information and experiences come from books while the worst information and experiences I have come from movies. Books are at the top while movies are at the bottom. As you can guess, I don't watch many movies. If you devoted the bulk of your leisure time to books, you simply won't do any better. Books are the fruits and vegetables and starches of the information world. The bulk of your information consumption should come from books. Virtually none should come from movies or television. This is pure Postman which leaves the middle ground of the internet.

The biggest step in taming the internet is to eliminate in entirety all social media from your information consumption. As I write this, I have deactivated my Twitter account which was my last attachment to the social media world. Nothing exists prior to the internet that is analogous to social media. People might chat at the water cooler at work or cocktail parties in the past, but these things are now peopled by smartphone zombies who spend more time on their screens than having real social interaction. It is sickening in the same way that Hugh Hefner ignores his harem of playmates to go pleasure himself with internet porn. Social media is purely an internet phenomenon, and it bears the blame for much of the complaints about the internet. And why is this? This is because social media is not the pooling of intelligence but the pooling of ignorance. Basically, it is people sharing pictures and videos of the most frivolous stuff you can imagine.

With social media gone, this leaves email. Processing email to inbox zero is fairly easy if you have your spam filter activated. The next layer of protection is unsubscribing from any newsletters, notices, alerts, and sales pitches you don't need or care to read. Doing this is like the trash can they kept in the mailroom at an apartment complex where I lived once. The sales circulars and junk went straight in the can leaving the good stuff. Your email should be like this. Email is the primary and most important source of information on the internet for you because this is how people get in touch with you. But if you let it turn into a trash can, the garbage will overwhelm you.

The next thing is to have a newspaper. This is not an actual physical newspaper because those things are rapidly disappearing. What you need is an internet substitute, and they exist. It could be the New York Times or the Drudge Report or the Huffington Post or whatever. The main thing is to have roughly one source you go to for news of the world. For me, I use Google News.

The last thing is to have a way to follow narrow interests.  These are the interests related to your vocation and hobbies or whatever. This can be done with a link list or a feed reader. I prefer Feedly as it collects articles that I usually read on the weekends. This collection becomes your magazine rack.

This threefold strategy is analogous to what the world was like before the internet when you read your mail, your newspaper, and your magazines. Since no one reads books on the internet, they will still be read in the real world either in paper form or on an e-reader with the preference being for paper.

The bad part of the internet are those visual mediums that I mentioned before like Instagram or YouTube. The time/value ratio of those mediums are awful and should be reduced to a minimum of consumption. This would be the Postman advice to get rid of your TV set.

The midpoint between text and video is audio. In the real world, we know this as radio. Online, it would be streaming and podcasting and the like. Many videos on YouTube are actually audio in disguise. Whether it is music or talk, audio is almost never a bad thing. This is because audio never eats your time. It does not demand your full attention like a text or visual based medium does. This is why many workplaces and job sites tolerate radios. If books are the carbs of your information diet, audio is the water. In my home, I have one TV, but I have four radios and a Bluetooth speaker for podcasts.

To recap, this is what a good information diet looks like:

text based websites

And this is what a bad information diet looks like:

video/picture based websites
social media

The result of following the good information diet should be an increase in useful information with a decrease in time spent consuming it. You should also find the good information diet more satisfying. The reason I know this is because this was the information diet I lived on prior to the internet. The internet extended it for me until I became consumed in social media and the visual. Now, I am making my way back to a more word based information diet. The internet should make you smarter and not dumber, but it is now making us into a nation of social media idiots. The problem is not that we have too much information, but that the information is unsatisfying. So we consume more and more while getting less and less from what we consume. Even in a more word based information diet, we can make better choices. But the visually based and social media driven information diet is a virtual desert when it comes to useful knowledge or reasoned discourse. Go with the words and not the pictures if you want to get smarter.

Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.


Slave to the Lender

The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

I am through with the tiny house movement. I heartily supported this movement when the tiny houses cost about the same as a good used car. Now, those same houses cost more than a new car, and the prices keep going up. What happened? The answer is simple. Financing happened. The whole point of the tiny house movement was to own a home without having a mortgage. Now, they have mortgages and real estate agents selling them. The stupidity of it all is staggering. But this is the madness that ensues when people are allowed to buy things with money they don't have.

Inflation is created when the money supply expands. As the number of dollars increases, the price of goods increases. Credit is largely the creation of money out of thin air. Whatever can be financed will see an increase in its price relative to that available credit. You can see this price increase in homes, cars, used cars, student loans, and now, in tiny houses. What angers me is that it drives up prices for people who have actual real cash to spend. The result is what looks strangely like a vast conspiracy to place every man, woman, and child in a perpetual state of indentured servitude. The United States is now a land of usury and debt slavery.

When slavery ended in the United States following the Civil War, plantation owners lost their imprisoned workforce. This was a huge blow to the slave masters, yet the low morals that allowed these people to own other people and beat and rape them into forced labor allowed them to reestablish a new system of oppression known as sharecropping. With sharecropping, what matters is not owning the laborer but owning the land the laborer lives on and works on. This is a very important thing because it shows that you don't have to own a person to enslave them. You merely have to own everything else that a person needs to live and survive and charge that person to use these things. So, with sharecropping, former slaves would work the land for a portion of the harvest and the profit. But the plantation owner wouldn't pay in crops or cash but in credit down at the plantation store. The plantation store was ingeniously evil because it extended credit to people who didn't have anything and didn't know any better. The prices were higher, and the purchases were financed at interest. Many times the laborer would end a season still owing money to the plantation owner which would be carried forward to the next season. Debts would accumulate with these people such that they could never leave the land and own their own plots or their own homes. Their lives were reduced to the slavery they had escaped except that the plantation owner no longer had to worry about making sure his slaves were fed and clothed. That was their problem. So, these sharecroppers would work their guts out to end up poorer at the end than at the beginning while the non-working plantation owner sat on his ass and profited.

When the industrial revolution came, the plantation store was replaced with the company store which operated on the same principles. Instead of working the land, the worker labored in a factory or a mine and would have a line of credit at the company store. By the end of that worker's life, he ended up owing more than he had earned over the course of his lifetime. His widow would be evicted from the company owned home and their worldly goods repossessed to settle the account down at the store. Once again, you don't have to own a person to enslave them. You merely have to own what that person needs to work and live and trick them into a scheme of usury.

Modern people may shake their heads at the way things used to be, but they are living under the same scheme and delusion today. The plantation store and the company store may have disappeared, but they still exist in the form of credit cards, car loans, home loans, and the rest. Today, a person is born into debt as part of their share of the national debt. They will have to take out debt to attend an accredited institution of higher learning. They will take out debt on cars and homes and try to make those payments on the meager salaries and wages companies offer. And they can exploit the workers because they own the capital, and the workers are desperate to keep their stuff and remain out of bankruptcy. So, today's workers find themselves in the same situation as the sharecropper or the millworker. this includes those with college degrees. The only difference is that they have better toys like smartphones to lull them into thinking that life is better.

This disgusting state of affairs is vindicated and defended by the propaganda of the "free market." No one puts a gun to these people's heads and forces them to work or take out loans. This is true. But this is the equivalent of telling a shanghaied sailor that they can jump overboard and swim away at any time. Never mind the sharks and the drowning. Faced with the choice between death and slavery, it surprises no one that people choose slavery. In fact, this is how slavery was established and perpetuated and preserved for millennia. In the past, the ownership of land would accumulate in fewer and fewer hands leaving the rest in desperation. This drove them at first to work for and ultimately enslave themselves to those who owned land. We aren't talking about the antebellum South. We are talking about ancient Rome here. The reality is that slavery is the rule and not the exception in human history. Today, slavery still exists, but the society has redefined its terms to make slavery not mean what it has always meant. Today, slavery is defined merely as not having a choice as opposed to not having options. But freedom is all about options. If you doubt this, ask a shanghaied sailor if he is free or not.

The way to escape modern slavery is very obvious. Do not ever borrow money at interest. This means cutting up credit cards and eschewing loans on cars, homes, and college degrees. By becoming a saver, you are able to accumulate the capital needed to free yourself from your situation and expand your options. Unfortunately, in the United States of Usury, being a saver gets harder and harder. Wages are low. Education requires loans such that an increase in wages and salary will only be soaked up by the lenders. Prices are through the roof for many things like college, homes, and cars. When people are finally reduced to financing purchases of perishables like food and clothing, the enslavement will be total. Either slaves will revolt or the living of everyone including the rich will return to a more primitive state as a consequence of despair. When people are reduced to such a state, they produce less and with less enthusiasm. I suspect that economic depressions are actually tied to the mental depression of workers who capitulate to the hopelessness of their situation. They do the least instead of the most, and the whips and the nooses come out at some point to become the motivator of last resort.

There are really two classes of people in the world. You have the producers who do the work and produce real value, and you have the parasites who feed off of the producers. These parasites tend to wear suits and ties and have titles, but they don't actually do anything resembling work. What they do is scheme because work is to be avoided. The ultimate scheme is usury. Usury is the trick to keep people working to pay for things that would have taken less labor time to produce on their own. For instance, college used to be paid for by working part time and during summers as a young person. Then, it became paid in the first year or two of working post-graduation. Now, they talk about garnishing social security checks to pay off the student loan debt. A college degree is still a college degree, but you can see how the time and labor required to pay for it has increased exponentially. This is usury. The same applies to everything else that is financed.

Without usury, workers can have and enjoy a fair standard of living and also enjoy that most wonderful commodity of freedom which is leisure. Leisure is that time that a person has to pursue non-working activities like reading, performing charitable deeds, coaching Little League, attending houses of worship, and many other things. But as the time required to pay off debts grows, leisure shrinks to nothing. The only people with leisure are the parasites. They not only possess leisure, but they also possess the gluttony and bad taste that go along with easy money. The parasites hoard and feast while the producers are left to divvy up the scraps.

This is the essence of how modern capitalism works. You have to convince people to keep producing to support a class of unproductive people. It's like the way cancer grows in a body. The body's immune system does not recognize the malignant cells, so it keeps feeding them instead of destroying them. Eventually, the malignancy takes over killing the body along with the cancer itself. But between the time the cancer appears and the time it kills everything including itself, this is the Boom Time. Things seem well and fine at the beginning, but it finally unravels. It is during the Boom Time that people can be tricked into the schemes by various baits. It is during the Bust that reality gets to vote. Reality always prevails. And as Hilaire Belloc argued, capitalism is always replaced by socialism or slavery because force is more reliable then fraud. Prosperity is ephemeral, but misery can always be made permanent for the long term.

The escape from the misery is pretty simple. Producers need to be owners. This doesn't mean owners in the plantation sense where they become the masters instead of the slaves. This means owners like the ones who went out West and got a stake and established a homestead for themselves and their families. This means working for yourself instead of working to make some non-working people rich. Freedom requires property. Usury is the scheme to give people property they never really own. Usury is the illusion of property.

A change in the laws would help to end the United States of Usury, but this change is unlikely to happen. This is because the lawmakers and enforcers are also getting their cut. Laws are now made for the benefit of fellow parasites to the detriment of the producers. Changes usually happen in a crisis when the system starts to collapse. But as the last crisis shows, the parasites just help themselves to a bigger cut. Lawmakers don't change things for the better. This leaves the Pitchfork Mob.

Some people refer to it as the Zombie Apocalypse, The reality is that they are not zombies but people angry that their lives have been reduced and diminished by a class of parasites. What do you to a cancer? You cut it out or burn it out with chemicals and radiation. Of course, most of these treatments are as bad or worse than the disease. Violent mobs usually result in martial law or anarchy. When Spartacus led his slave revolt in ancient Rome, he probably didn't see himself crucified on the Appian Way after beating the Roman Army. Revolution is not the answer.

Groups like Occupy and the Tea Party are the beginnings of the revolutionary impulse, and the government has recognized them as such. One group aims at business while the other group aims at government not recognizing that they are two heads on the same beast. And revolutions always fail. A broad survey of history will reveal that the only thing that ended slavery was the advent of the Christian religion.

Christianity gets criticized for not absolutely condemning slavery, but those critics are the ones who don't understand the true nature of slavery. Christianity has always abhorred slavery, but it abhors death and starvation more. People ignorant of history and economics can't grasp this. A freed slave with no land is a man dying from starvation. Slavery was the best option relative to those other options. To make a man truly free, you have to give him better options than slavery. This is why Christianity could tolerate slavery in one era and oppose it in another. But it always wanted slavery ended.

The modern debt/wage slavery of our present time is a consequence of financial shenanigans and usury. Protestant Christianity and Judaism tolerate and even endorse this financial garbage, but Catholic Christianity opposes it. Usury is a sin. It enables unproductive people to live off of the productive. It is a trick. Now, thanks to central banking and paper currency, these usurers don't even have to rely upon the savers for the capital they lend. They just steal it through legal counterfeiting. Meanwhile, Islam with its condemnation of usury in sharia law waits in the wings to offer salvation to the debt slaves just as it did in the past.

The way out today is the same as it was in the past. Society needs to return to the true Christian understanding about usury and slavery. The reason this understanding has been lost is because the Catholic Church has lost its moral force in failing to condemn it for the last century. It even practices it through the Vatican Bank. This area is now being ceded to the Muslims and the Marxists who are correct on this one thing but atrociously incorrect on many other things.

A government informed by a Catholic Christian understanding of these things would work to put an end to these practices. A good start would be a return to the gold standard for our currency. A modest start would be to reign in payday lenders and those who prey on the poor and the ignorant. But I won't hold my breath on these things because I doubt I will ever see them in my lifetime.

This leaves us with the individual. What can a person do to fight this debt slavery? The answer would be to stop borrowing. As far as possible, people should eschew debt. They should see it for the evil that it is and avoid the financial services industry in every way possible. Cut up those credit cards. Only pay with money you have. Neither a lender nor a borrower be as the Bard says. If you can't change the world, you should change yourself.

This advice for the individual is old advice. Those who endured the Great Depression know it by heart. Today, to live it is to be a radical. People think you are crazy to not go into debt for things. They think life is unlivable without credit cards and loans. It may get to that point, but I am without debt and still alive.

Living without debt is not hard. It simply means being patient. It means delayed gratification and doing without. Sometimes, the wait for things can be agonizingly long, but it is satisfying once you get there. You also change your priorities and discover that you don't really want the things you want. Time and waiting have a way of editing out the stupid in your life. Credit cards make you act on the immediate impulse which is how you end up with that purple looking exercise thing in your closet you got off of QVC.

I am a wage slave, but I refuse to be a debt slave. Hopefully, one day, I won't be a wage slave either. But the bondage to debt is the bondage to your low paying job which is how the Parasite Class likes it. If you find yourself working really hard with nothing to show for it, just feel good inside knowing that you made some lazy leech's life a lot more leisurely and enjoyable. Or, you can buy a pitchfork with your MasterCard and see where that takes you.