Jun 1, 2016

Q&A - Links

WELCOME

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

For instructions to smoothly cruse through this blog,
scowl down and click on the Life At The Beach link below.


Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your visit.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Blog Menu

Life At The Beach
(Home)
Journal
Odeum
My Designs


^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Brake Time!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting my blogs. I hope each visit has been insightful as well as entertaining.

I will be taking the month of June off to do a little exhaling, but I will resume posting come July. Meanwhile, I hope that you will continue to return as time permits.

If you have any suggestions or comments feel free to pass them along.

Thank you for your support.


:Philip

May 22, 2016

Kentucky Tax Payers Forced To Fork Over $18 Million For Creationist’s ‘Ark Encounter’ Theme Park

The taxpayers of Kentucky will be forced to put their money towards a creationist theme park built by evolution-denying Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham, who seeks to spread the seed of misinformation to the malleable minds of children.

The Courier-Journal reports that the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved the “long-pending” application of the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis for the tax breaks this  Monday.

“A state board restocked last week with new appointees by Gov. Matt Bevin has quietly approved the long-sought tax incentives worth up to $18 million for the controversial Noah’s Ark theme park due to open this summer in Grant County,” the Journal reported.

The Lexington Herald Leader also reported that the tax break “initially was approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority in 2014 under Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, but it was later canceled after tourism officials learned that the theme park would hire only Christians.”

    “Ark Encounter officials sued the state in federal court, saying the state’s decision to withhold the tax break violated its free speech. In January, U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled that the theme park was eligible to receive the tax incentive, which has neutral requirements that can be met by religious and secular groups alike.”

The project will be dedicated to framing bible myths as science and historical fact, such as the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old, humans and dinosaurs inhabited the planet at the same time, Noah gathered two of every animal in a boat and survived a flood, etc. The theme park is scheduled to open on July 7, 2016.

“It’s unfortunate that the government is giving tax incentives to an organization that is discriminating against its own citizens,” said Daniel Phelps, a Lexington geologist and president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, referring to the park’s policy of only hiring Christians. –Dead State

'Religious Freedom' Bills: Opinions Are As Different As Individuals In The South

By Kevin Conlon, Polo Sandoval, Leigh Waldman, Christopher Lett, Emanuella Grinberg, Ed Danko and Nick Valencia

A spate of bills across the nation, but especially across the South, has pitted religious freedom against LGBT rights, resurrecting the specter of the civil rights movement, which saw religion and race locking horns many decades ago.

In North Carolina, it's about which bathrooms transgender people can use. The same concerns have been raised in South Carolina's legislature.

Tennessee says it wants to protect the religious freedom of therapists who wish not to treat the LGBT community.
And in Mississippi, the bill covers everything from wedding DJs to adoption services.
What's up with all the religious freedom bills?

CNN journalists fanned out to gather a spectrum of opinions from around the South. Those sounding off provided a variety of opinions, ranging from outright approval to tepid acceptance to concern to denunciation. Here are some of their stories.

Bartender

Mark Leopold, 28, is white, straight, privileged, educated and, when he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, for his wife's job, he was perfectly cognizant that he could be viewed as a carpetbagger. The Syracuse, New York, native was also aware of Mississippi's reputation for being slow to progress in many ways.

He was surprised when he arrived two years ago. The people were welcoming, humble, gracious and "sick of being the ass-end of every joke." He and his wife have already made lifelong friends during their short stint in the Magnolia State. He called them "the best people we've ever been friends with," and those friends are now distraught, as he is.

"It's sickening and mystifying," the Ivy League graduate said. "This law is not going to personally affect me, but so many of our friends that we've become close with down here either have young children or about to have kids, and you can tell when you talk to them that they don't know if this is an environment they want to bring a child up in."
The argument that the bill protects Christianity in one of the most devout states in the Union seems spurious to him. It appears Mississippi is acting like "an animal backed into a corner, and lashing out against progress, freedom, love, anything that they can to preserve the way that they think that things should be." And this is to say nothing of the potential brain drain the law could spawn, he said.

"People that are educated, progressive are not going to want to stay in a state that promotes discrimination. So people that have moved here such as my wife and myself, it's not encouraging for us to stay here," he said. "How could we live in a place that is openly encouraging discrimination? People that we're friends with, too."

Evangelist

Franklin Graham is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, and is an accomplished evangelist in his own right. The 63-year-old North Carolina native believes his state's Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which bans people from using bathrooms that don't correspond with their biological sex, protects "women and children against sexual predators."

In a Wednesday post to Facebook, he applauded Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who recently said that if the law protected one woman or child from being molested, it was worth it, and any company that didn't appreciate "the worth of our children" could take their business elsewhere.

He also took aim at PayPal in the post. The online payment company announced this it was nixing plans for an operations center in Charlotte because it would be "simply untenable" to employ people in a state where team members wouldn't enjoy equal rights. Graham said this earned the California-based company "the hypocrite of the year award!"

"PayPal operates in countries including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Yemen, for Pete's sake. Just last month PayPal announced they would be expanding in Cuba, a country in which homosexuals and transgender people have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed," he wrote. "And under the current law that they are so strongly protesting, PayPal could have chosen their own corporate bathroom policies."

Photographer

Maia Dery is a photographer who teaches her craft as an art instructor at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and she feels the politicians in her state who stand by House Bill 2, aka "the bathroom bill," could learn a thing or two from talking to someone who isn't in politics. She's looking at Gov. Pat McCrory, in particular.

"It might not do him any harm to spend some time in civil discourse with people who disagree with him, because that is completely lacking at the state level and at the national level as far as I can tell," the 50-year-old said.

McCrory could benefit from a "10-day backpacking trip with people who disagree with him, not a party conversation. I'm talking about an immersive experience," said the surfer and blogger who enjoys leading photo expeditions to capture images around the Tar Heel State.

H.B. 2, she said, while problematic, especially for the economy and tourism, is only a symptom of a bigger issue: biased redistricting efforts that favor the conservative majority and dilute the voices of progressive voters on issues, which is "how we got this Legislature. That's how we got H.B. 2. That's how we got voter ID laws and restrictions on early voting."

More than a repeal of H.B. 2, she'd like to see efforts to bridge what she calls "a pretty intransigent cultural divide." In short, she said, "What we really need is sensible voting districts with diversity in all of them that allows us to have a vigorous debate at every level."

Baker

Jeromie Jones, 30, experienced discrimination firsthand when he was preparing to wed his now-husband and tried to rent a wedding venue. Jones is African-American, as was the venue owner, who told him, "We don't serve your kind here." It was already hard being a black man in Mississippi, he said. But gay and black? Sheesh.

The owner of Cakes by Kake King in Pearl, Mississippi, Jones was born and raised in Mississippi, and as a Christian, he never understood how people wondered aloud how he could reconcile loving God and being gay. But now, with what some observers call "one of the worst" religious freedom bills in the country set to take effect in July, he is downright ashamed of the place where he grew up. He now feels like a second-class citizen and worries that instances of discrimination will increase.

"I am absolutely outraged, especially being a black homosexual male. ... I'm considering moving my shop to Texas," he told CNN. "It's going to be more blatant than ever because now they have religion to justify it. The state has made it OK."

"It feels like I'm leaving behind something that I worked so hard for. It took me nine months to open, and I feel like I birthed this," he said from his shop. "And now I have an opportunity to share it with my husband and our kids one day, and we have to pretty much pick up and move everything because I don't feel like that we're ever going to be appreciated here for who we are. We're never going to be looked at as equal."

Seamstress

Jackqulin Buchanan's mother taught her to sew, a skill that has been passed down in her family from generation to generation. She now owns Seam-ing-ly Perfect Alterations Boutique in Jackson, Mississippi, where she specializes in sewing formal wear, namely for weddings and proms. She considers her Christianity an integral part of her business and says, "I don't compromise my faith or my belief in any way."

If a gay couple visited her shop to buy wedding outfits, she would first share her beliefs, she told CNN. If they insisted on patronizing her business, "I would probably decline on servicing them because I believe that marriage is instituted by God between a man and a woman."

She doesn't "profile" her customers, she said, and she certainly wouldn't refuse to serve customers because they're gay -- "We all gotta wear clothes, so I am in the business to dress everybody" -- but if a gay or lesbian couple wanted her to provide them with tuxes or gowns, she'd politely send them elsewhere.

"I don't care what it is you come in for, I'm here to service the community. However, as far as marriages are concerned, that's different for me. You know I'm not going to be a part of that setup," she said. "In a marriage, there is the head of the marriage and that would be the male, and it gets confusing when you have two males, so crossing the line starts confusion and that is something that I don't believe in. So I'm not going to promote it, so they can walk away."

Sports announcer

Long before Charles Barkley dazzled on the basketball court and before he earned a reputation for his outspoken personality, he was a child in Leeds, Alabama. He was born in the same year and a short distance from the infamous Birmingham Church bombing. The horrific act forever changed the tenor of the fight for civil rights.

"You'd think 53 years later, we wouldn't be having these same things," he said of North Carolina's "bathroom bill." It always seems, he says, that the South is leading the way when it comes to discriminating against classes of people.

"The one thing that bothers me about Christian people is they're always talk about religion, but they forget about not judging other people," he said. "Sometimes, especially with this situation with the lesbian and gay thing, they hide behind the Bible.

"Money always speaks," Barkley said. He would like to see major corporations standing up for the people who work for them. Most big companies have minority or gay employees, so it behooves them to "represent your co-workers." The NBA, where he spent 16 years plying his trade, could lead the way, he said.

"I think the NBA should move the All-Star Game from Charlotte," he said. "You know, as a black person, I'm against any form of discrimination -- against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it. It's my job with the position of power that I'm in -- being able to be on television -- I'm supposed to stand up for the people who can't stand up for themselves."

Therapist

"What happens if it were reversed?" asked Nashville therapist Jeannie Ingram of Tennessee's proposed legislation that would permit therapists and counselors with strong religious beliefs to reject LGBT patients. What if, she posited, she decided as a lesbian therapist that she would stop treating heterosexuals? Or that she wouldn't help a couple who had had an affair?

Growing up in a Southern Baptist home in Birmingham, Alabama, Ingram knew as a teenager that she wanted to help people in life. Upon graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she worked as a crisis counselor at a rape-and-suicide hotline before shifting to counseling family members who lost loved ones to suicide. Eventually, she "just hit the wall" and made the move to couples therapy.

"I really fell in love with the work of helping couples heal with their struggles. I dearly love marriage therapy," Ingram said. One of her goals is to ensure that her clients feel safe in sharing anything without fear of being judged. "I think (Tennessee's House Bill 1840) has the potential to send the message that they could get shunned if they don't find the right person."

Ingram attends a Lutheran church in Nashville and has no beef with religion, but she feels the bill conflicts with the American Counseling Association's code of ethics. The bill, she said, "comes way too close to making discrimination a legal precedent. That's the last thing a hurting society needs."

Rental operations manager

Charlie Comero was disappointed when he learned that he had to start using the women's restroom in North Carolina, thanks to the state's Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which puts transgender people such as Comero, who does not identify with the gender on his birth certificate, in the uncomfortable position of being forced to pee with women.

The Charlotte resident decided to prepare for the confusion that could arise from a man with a high and tight fade in the women's room.

He printed cards to hand out that read, "I'm following a law that was passed on March 23. I am a transgender man who would rather be using the men's room right now. This is likely uncomfortable for both of us. Please contact your legislature and tell them you oppose HB2."

One day, he ducked into the government center to use the women's restroom. On his way out, he passed a woman who kindly pointed out he was using the women's room. She refused to take the card. He realized later that many people probably don't know what it means to be a transgender man or woman.

Their perceptions might be based on pop culture caricatures such as Tim Curry's "sweet transvestite" from the "Rocky Horror Picture Show." For some, the word "transgender" might bring to mind "RuPaul's Drag Race," a celebration of pageantry focused more on performance skills than gender identity.

Minister

Barney Self is a man of two different worlds. In one, he is president of the Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a licensed marriage and family therapist. In the other, he is an ordained Southern Baptist minister at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville.

He is opposed to same-sex marriage, but he says this doesn't affect his job as a therapist: "I am delighted to work with whoever comes into my office."

When a new client comes in, Self lays everything on the table and shares with them his beliefs and values. From there, the client can decide how to proceed.

"If a client says to me, 'I'm gay and you're a Baptist; I don't feel comfortable,' I give them a list of other therapists that they might feel more comfortable with. It's a co-constructive reality."

Tennessee's House Bill 1840 hurts this process and creates a unilateral format that is not constructive to the client and makes them feel uncomfortable, he said. This bill does more harm than good in his opinion and "ultimately, it legalizes malpractice."

Dressmaker

Barney Self is a man of two different worlds. In one, he is president of the Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a licensed marriage and family therapist. In the other, he is an ordained Southern Baptist minister at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville.

He is opposed to same-sex marriage, but he says this doesn't affect his job as a therapist: "I am delighted to work with whoever comes into my office."

When a new client comes in, Self lays everything on the table and shares with them his beliefs and values. From there, the client can decide how to proceed.

"If a client says to me, 'I'm gay and you're a Baptist; I don't feel comfortable,' I give them a list of other therapists that they might feel more comfortable with. It's a co-constructive reality."

Tennessee's House Bill 1840 hurts this process and creates a unilateral format that is not constructive to the client and makes them feel uncomfortable, he said. This bill does more harm than good in his opinion and "ultimately, it legalizes malpractice."

Dressmaker

"To me there is one God -- I mean I believe in Christ Jesus, some people believe in Buddha or in [Hinduism] -- but at the end of the day, I look at it like it's a math problem," says Maurice Jackson, 33, of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

"There are multiple ways to get to 4."

Jackson, an IT supervisor for a large company, sees multiple equations in play over "bathroom bills" -- specifically H.B. 2 in his home state of North Carolina, and a similar bill introduced this week in South Carolina -- and believes that instead of contention there should be room for compromise.

"I just know what I believe, and I'm not going to force that on nobody," said Jackson. "Not even my kids. ... if they decide that they choose to go another route I'm going to still love them, I'm not going to try to abandon them from the family name, because that's just ridiculous. That's me being a hypocrite of all the stuff I was taught about love, which that sums up everything in this situation. There's so much hatred and not a lot of love going out."

The 33-year-old Jackson said that if South Carolina were to pass a "bathroom bill" (which he believes won't happen) and companies and organizations sought to punish the state economically, then most blue-collar people likely would "stand their ground more."

Jackson said he can understand fears that ordinances allowing transgender people to use the restrooms consistent with their identity could be abused -- that "if you're a ... registered child offender, you can basically change your identity and then you still have access to go in these bathrooms with kids."

He says he believes compromise on "a unisex bathroom" should be considered.

Certified public accountant

Terry Livingston is a certified public accountant at Gamble & Livingston CPAs, LLC, where he works with his husband, Steve Gamble, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The two met in college, have been together 32 years and got legally married two years ago in Washington, D.C.

Their accounting firm has been serving small businesses and individuals in their community since 1988. But helping folks with their taxes isn't all that's important to them.

Livingston is the co-founder of TAKEOVER Grand Strand, whose mission is advancing acceptance of the LGBT community in the Myrtle Beach area through increased visibility. He decided to start the organization because "it wasn't enough just to be tolerated, [he] wanted to be accepted, too."

The proposed bathroom bill is a direct attack on the LGBT community, he told CNN affiliate WPDE.

"This bill makes the 12th proposed bill introduced this year that in some way includes anti-LGBT language in it," he said. "So far, none of them have reached the floor for a vote and we want this to not to be voted on, too."

The nation's past demonstrates the problem with LGBT legislation, Livingston said.

"Some propose a separate bathroom option for transgendered, but history has proven separate but equal does not work," he said.

Pastor

Robert Green occupies what he calls the "messy middle ground" when it comes to religious freedom laws.

The senior pastor at Fondren Church in Jackson, Mississippi, said he supports the "spirit of the law" because of his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, but told CNN he doesn't think its government's place to

"legislate morality."

"I have a view of scripture. "But what I believe, I don't want to impose it on you."

"I personally think Jesus would bake a cake for a gay couple, but would he be minister at that wedding to provide the sacred sanctions? I think that's a different story altogether."

While Green takes comfort in knowing the new law means he now cannot be forced into presiding over a same-sex wedding, he admitted he wasn't even sure if he could have been in the first place, and didn't know of anyone who had.

"It was an overreaction," he said of the action taken by lawmakers, "and it has hurt Mississippi so badly." -CNN

Pat Condell: Vamos a culpar los Judios


~Contributed by Ralph

Can A Christian Who Commits Suicide Still Go To Heaven?

The Bible mentions six specific people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). Five of these men were noted for their wickedness (the exception is Saul’s armor-bearer-nothing is said of his character). Some consider Samson’s death an instance of suicide, because he knew his actions would lead to his death (Judges 16:26-31), but Samson’s goal was to kill Philistines, not himself.

Why Suicide Is Sinful

The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is: self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die. We should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).

God is the giver of life. He gives, and He takes away (Job 1:21). Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is ungodly because it rejects God’s gift of life. No man or woman should presume to take God’s authority upon themselves to end his or her own life.

A Healthy Way To View Despair

Some people in Scripture felt deep despair in life. Solomon, in his pursuit of pleasure, reached the point where he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Elijah was fearful and depressed and yearned for death (1 Kings 19:4). Jonah was so angry at God that he wished to die (Jonah 4:8). Even the apostle Paul and his missionary companions at one point “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). However, none of these men committed suicide. Solomon learned to “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Elijah was comforted by an angel, allowed to rest, and given a new commission. Jonah received admonition and rebuke from God. Paul learned that, although the pressure he faced was beyond his ability to endure, the Lord can bear all things: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Comfort For Today

So, according to the Bible, suicide is a sin. It is not the “greatest” sin-it is no worse than other evils, in terms of how God sees it, and it does not determine a person’s eternal destiny. However, suicide definitely has a deep and lasting impact on those left behind. The painful scars left by a suicide do not heal easily. May God grant His grace to each one who is facing trials today (Psalm 67:1). And may each of us take hope in the promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). –Jesus Daily

The Little-Known Legend Of Jesus In Japan

By Franz Lidz

n the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who, two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko, fathered three kids and died at the ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai. The rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.

From This Story

It turns out that Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah, worker of miracles and spiritual figurehead for one of the world’s foremost religions—did not die on the cross at Calvary, as widely reported. According to amusing local folklore, that was his kid brother, Isukiri, whose severed ear was interred in an adjacent burial mound in Japan.

A bucolic backwater with only one Christian resident (Toshiko Sato, who was 77 when I visited last spring) and no church within 30 miles, Shingo nevertheless bills itself as Kirisuto no Sato (Christ’s Hometown). Every year 20,000 or so pilgrims and pagans visit the site, which is maintained by a nearby yogurt factory. Some visitors shell out the 100-yen entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum, a trove of religious relics that sells everything from Jesus coasters to coffee mugs. Some participate in the springtime Christ Festival, a mashup of multidenominational rites in which kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. The ceremony, designed to console the spirit of Jesus, has been staged by the local tourism bureau since 1964.

The Japanese are mostly Buddhist or Shintoist, and, in a nation of 127.8 million, about 1 percent identify themselves as Christian. The country harbors a large floating population of folk religionists enchanted by the mysterious, the uncanny and the counterintuitive. “They find spiritual fulfillment in being eclectic,” says Richard Fox Young, a professor of religious history at the Princeton Theological Seminary. “That is, you can have it all: A feeling of closeness—to Jesus and Buddha and many, many other divine figures—without any of the obligations that come from a more singular religious orientation.”

In Shingo, the Greatest Story Ever Told is retold like this: Jesus first came to Japan at the age of 21 to study theology. This was during his so-called “lost years,” a 12-year gap unaccounted for in the New Testament. He landed at the west coast port of Amanohashidate, a spit of land that juts across Miyazu Bay, and became a disciple of a great master near Mount Fuji, learning the Japanese language and Eastern culture. At 33, he returned to Judea—by way of Morocco!—to talk up what a museum brochure calls the “sacred land” he had just visited.

Having run afoul of the Roman authorities, Jesus was arrested and condemned to crucifixion for heresy. But he cheated the executioners by trading places with the unsung, if not unremembered, Isukiri. To escape persecution, Jesus fled back to the promised land of Japan with two keepsakes: one of his sibling’s ears and a lock of the Virgin Mary’s hair. He trekked across the frozen wilderness of Siberia to Alaska, a journey of four years, 6,000 miles and innumerable privations. This alternative Second Coming ended after he sailed to Hachinohe, an ox-cart ride from Shingo.

Upon reaching the village, Jesus retired to a life in exile, adopted a new identity and raised a family. He is said to have lived out his natural life ministering to the needy. He sported a balding gray pate, a coat of many folds and a distinctive nose, which, the museum brochure observes, earned him a reputation as a “long-nosed goblin.”

When Jesus died, his body was left exposed on a hilltop for four years. In keeping with the customs of the time, his bones were then bundled and buried in a grave—the same mound of earth that is now topped by a timber cross and surrounded by a picket fence. Though the Japanese Jesus performed no miracles, one could be forgiven for wondering whether he ever turned water into sake.

***

This all sounds more Life of Brian than Life of Jesus. Still, the case for the Shingo Savior is argued vigorously in the museum and enlivened by folklore. In ancient times, it’s believed, villagers maintained traditions alien to the rest of Japan. Men wore clothes that resembled the toga-like robes of biblical Palestine, women wore veils, and babies were toted around in woven baskets like those in the Holy Land. Not only were newborns swaddled in clothes embroidered with a design that resembled a Star of David, but, as a talisman, their foreheads were marked with charcoal crosses.

In Shingo, the Greatest Story Ever Told is retold like this: Jesus first came to Japan at the age of 21 to study theology. This was during his so-called “lost years,” a 12-year gap unaccounted for in the New Testament. He landed at the west coast port of Amanohashidate, a spit of land that juts across Miyazu Bay, and became a disciple of a great master near Mount Fuji, learning the Japanese language and Eastern culture. At 33, he returned to Judea—by way of Morocco!—to talk up what a museum brochure calls the “sacred land” he had just visited.

Having run afoul of the Roman authorities, Jesus was arrested and condemned to crucifixion for heresy. But he cheated the executioners by trading places with the unsung, if not unremembered, Isukiri. To escape persecution, Jesus fled back to the promised land of Japan with two keepsakes: one of his sibling’s ears and a lock of the Virgin Mary’s hair. He trekked across the frozen wilderness of Siberia to Alaska, a journey of four years, 6,000 miles and innumerable privations. This alternative Second Coming ended after he sailed to Hachinohe, an ox-cart ride from Shingo.

Upon reaching the village, Jesus retired to a life in exile, adopted a new identity and raised a family. He is said to have lived out his natural life ministering to the needy. He sported a balding gray pate, a coat of many folds and a distinctive nose, which, the museum brochure observes, earned him a reputation as a “long-nosed goblin.”

When Jesus died, his body was left exposed on a hilltop for four years. In keeping with the customs of the time, his bones were then bundled and buried in a grave—the same mound of earth that is now topped by a timber cross and surrounded by a picket fence. Though the Japanese Jesus performed no miracles, one could be forgiven for wondering whether he ever turned water into sake.

***

This all sounds more Life of Brian than Life of Jesus. Still, the case for the Shingo Savior is argued vigorously in the museum and enlivened by folklore. In ancient times, it’s believed, villagers maintained traditions alien to the rest of Japan. Men wore clothes that resembled the toga-like robes of biblical Palestine, women wore veils, and babies were toted around in woven baskets like those in the Holy Land. Not only were newborns swaddled in clothes embroidered with a design that resembled a Star of David, but, as a talisman, their foreheads were marked with charcoal crosses.

Out of this constraint came “State Shinto”—the use of the faith, with its shrines and deities, for propaganda, emperor worship and the celebration of patriotism. Considerable resources were funneled into attempts to prove the country’s superiority over other races and cultures. Which sheds celestial light on the discovery of Moses’ tomb at Mount Houdatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture. Press accounts of the period detailed how the prophet had received the Hebrew language, the Ten Commandments and the first Star of David directly from Japan’s divine emperor.

Such divine condescension implies that Shingo’s Christ cult has very little to do with Christianity. “On the contrary,” says Young. “It’s more about Japanese folk religion and its sponginess—its capacity for soaking up any and all influences, usually without coherence, even internally.”

That sponginess is never more evident than during Yuletide, a season that, stripped of Christian significance, has taken on a meaning all its own. It’s said that a Japanese department store once innocently displayed Santa Claus nailed to a crucifix. Apocryphal or not, the story has cultural resonance.

Shingo is modestly festive with frosted pine trees and sparkling lights, glittering streamers and green-and-red wreaths, candles and crèches. In Japan, Christmas Eve is a kind of date night in which many young people ignore the chaste example of Mary—and instead lose their virginity. “It’s the most romantic holiday in Japan, surpassing Valentine’s Day,” says Chris Carlsen, an Oregon native who teaches English in town. “On Christmas Day, everyone goes back to work and all the ornaments are taken down.”

Junichiro Sawaguchi, the eldest member of the Shingo family regarded as Christ’s direct descendants, celebrates the holiday much like the average Japanese citizen, in a secular way involving decorations and Kentucky Fried Chicken. A City Hall bureaucrat, he has never been to a church nor read the Bible. “I’m Buddhist,” he says.

Asked if he believes the Jesus-in-Japan yarn, Sawaguchi shakes his head and says, coyly, “I don’t know.” Then again, notes Carlsen, the Japanese tend to be quite tactful when airing their opinions, particularly on contentious topics. “The Christ tomb has given Shingo a sense of identity,” he says. “If a central figure like Mr. Sawaguchi were to dismiss the story, he might feel disloyal to the town.”

But does Sawaguchi think it’s possible that Jesus was his kinsfolk? Momentarily silent, he shrugs and spreads his palms outward, as if to say, Don’t take everything you hear as gospel. –Smithsonian

The Maccabeats - Book of Good Life

Dr. Geezer's Clinic

Author Unknown

An old geezer became very bored in retirement and decided to open a medical
clinic.

He put a sign up outside that said:

"Dr. Geezer's clinic. Get your treatment for $500, if not cured, get back $1,000."

Doctor "Young”, who was positive that this old geezer didn't know beans about medicine, thought this would be a great opportunity to get $1,000. So he went to Dr. Geezer's clinic.

Dr. Young: "Dr.Geezer, I have lost all taste in my mouth. Can you please help me ??"

Dr. Geezer: "Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in Dr. Young's mouth."

Dr. Young: “Aaagh !! -- This is Gasoline!"

Dr. Geezer: "Congratulations! You've got your taste back. That will be $500."

Dr. Young gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days figuring to recover his money.

Dr. Young: "I have lost my memory, I cannot remember anything."

Dr. Geezer: "Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient's mouth."

Dr. Young: "Oh, no you don't, -- that is Gasoline!"

Dr. Geezer: "Congratulations! You've got your memory back. That will be $500."

Dr. Young (after having lost $1000) leaves angrily and comes back after several more days.

Dr. Young: "My eyesight has become weak --- I can hardly see anything!!!!”

Dr. Geezer: "Well, I don't have any medicine for that so, here's your $1000 back." (giving him a $10 bill)

Dr. Young: "But this is only $10!”

Dr. Geezer: "Congratulations! You got your vision back! That will be $500."

Moral of Story -- Just because you're "Young" doesn't mean that you can outsmart an "old Geezer".

~Contributed by Mary

Tennessee Passes Anti-LGBT Counseling Bill

By Marina Fang

Mental health professionals would be allowed to reject LGBT patients based on “sincerely held principles.”

Tennessee legislators passed a bill that could jeopardize access to mental health treatment for LGBT individuals, part of a string of recent anti-LGBT legislation in the South.

The GOP-sponsored bill, which now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam (R), allows therapists and counselors to reject patients they feel would violate “sincerely held principles.” Haslam hasn’t indicated whether he will sign the bill into law.

Gay rights and mental health advocacy groups have protested the bill and urge Haslam to veto it because it could permit mental health professionals to discriminate against LGBT patients without legal liability.

The bill passed by the legislature is a more discriminatory version of legislation approved earlier this year. That measure stated that therapists and counselors could turn away patients based on “sincerely held beliefs.” The state House passed a version that expanded grounds for shunning patients to “principles,” which the Senate approved.

Some opponents of the bill said they worried the wording could allow discrimination against other groups, including people of color.

“There’s no litigation on what those ‘principles’ are,” state Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D) said on Monday.

The governor last week told reporters he wanted to read the final version of the bill before deciding whether to sign it into law. 

If he does, Tennessee would become the only state with such a law, according to the American Counseling Association. The measure would violate the group’s code of ethics, which affirms that mental health professionals cannot refuse treatment based on “personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”

Tennessee lawmakers also are considering a proposal that would require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender at birth, part of a wave of anti-LGBT legislation proposed in the South.

North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT bathroom law has sparked a torrent of outrage, with some corporate leaders and state governments cutting back on business with the state. –HuffPost Politics

Baptism In The Holy Spirit

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

This is a definitive verse on one of the great themes of the Bible. The preposition “by” is the Greek en, which can take many meanings (by, with, through, etc.) depending on context but is most frequently and most naturally rendered simply as “in.” The baptism in one Spirit is the theme of this passage, teaching us that every one of the “brethren” (v. 1)—those who “speaking by the Spirit of God” have acknowledged Jesus to be their Lord (v. 3)—have been “baptized into one body,” the body of Christ Himself.

This baptism is accomplished in the Spirit for every genuine believer, Jew or Gentile, slave or master, male or female, young or old. Furthermore, the passage is actually in the past tense: “[In] one Spirit [were] we all baptized into one body.” This baptism does not take place repeatedly in one’s life, as may be true of the “filling” of the Spirit, but once, at the time of true conversion. There are only seven explicit references in the Bible to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. All except our text are referring to the initial baptizing work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). It deals with the ongoing work of the Spirit in all future instances of true conversion to Christ. Since His first baptism of Jewish believers (Acts 2) and then of Gentiles (Acts 11), all—both Jews and Gentiles—are baptized in the Spirit into the body of Christ.

Therefore, let true Christians rejoice that the Holy Spirit has placed each of them securely in the body of Christ, united to Him and sharing His resurrection life, with all functioning together through “the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6). HMM –ICR