well it’s going to be a long page.  it’s just not done yet. come back later and bring some money to buy e-books – check out my e-bookstore on the front page of smallclaims.la and definitely don’t forget to take a look at www.4a2j.guru my project for kids on juvenile probation in every county in the united states.  anybody can run a project along the lines described on my project page with their local community group.  if you like this style of website, i can help you put one together my offer page is www.documatic.website, also if you are an independent paralegal i have a national group on www.NAOLDP.org now back to our regularly scheduled programming………

……….and it begins….the eecummings writers license page of pages……when i was in college dr. everson had us write a paper about whether cinema mirrored society or whether society mirrored cinema.  the writing assignment was for a cinema class we took over the holiday break between semesters for 3 extra units.  we went to london and stratford upon avon.  our group of clu students and our professor saw the house where shakespeare grew up in stratford upon avon, i pretended to be a street bum and got the girls to take a picture, we met a guy named adam who had a genetal piercing in a pub, kim and i almost jumped in the river themes but dipped our toes instead, zurek guilted me into not drinking ….. i still have mixed feelings about that one though…. moving right along… i took this tiny splinter from the old globe.  i’m sure i probably should not have, but i did.  it belongs to the queen and i stole part of it.  i have it taped to the back of a postcard somewhere.  i found it years ago and again couldn’t give it to the person who i had intended to give it to.  i taped it to a post card of the old globe and was going to give it to andy redding my sphs woodshop teacher.  i wrote a note, but i still have yet to deliver it.  i am hopefully making good on my international fo pa incident by building these websites for non-lawyers and writers (artists) of all kinds and by tying into some different english law cases (desktop lawyer is a main case) as well as using some comedians from the uk to promote the 4a2j.guru project.  back to the class.  dr. everson had us watch 12 plays in 14 days.  i drank so many guiness and corned beef and cabage, of course the play i wrote about was the lion king.  not that it was not a good play, it is just that it was such a lazy choice for me to write on a disney movie about cinema mirroring society or society mirroring cinema what with the circle of life concept and all.  it was, however, fair game and i did write what i felt.  so maybe it wasn’t cheating, but it definitely wasn’t anything i had read, not that reading was a requirement for the course.  it was pretty fun….i think i pretty much feel the same for the most part about the basic question.  i think that my basic position can be summed up by saying that it is a both/and issue.  art both mirrors and is mirrored by society.  i think however that music has a special place amongst the arts because we can listen to music as we do different things and it becomes almost subconscious and very repetitive because most of us think in remembered speech acts of one sort or another and that is what music is, a recorded speech act.  not only that, but setting the words to rhythm and sound sometimes sets the actual words further down into our psyches such that we let words burrow deeper into our thinking than we would because of the vehicle of rhythm and music.  this is why there is so much uproar about music and always has been. …….this is going to become the add on post of add on posts…… it is not ever going to end…..this is the pause for today.

James Polk – Dr. Everson – England 2000 – Moral Universe?

I am going to compare the Lion King with Les Miserables.  I will show how both plays point to there being a moral center to the universe.  I will also show how both plays point to the reality of evil.  Although there are differences in the plays, the similarities in these aspects and also in their ability to touch people deeply with the message that all reality is in relation and that all evil regimes will have a day of the Lord.

Initially I really did not like Les Miserables.  The seating was horribly cramped, I was still struggling with jet lag, and I was also in a very cynical state of mind about there being a moral center to the universe.  I thought that the story was trite and had been overdone in so many different contexts because its basic moral lessons were direct lessons from the great tradition of western thought, Christianity.

It has now been over a month since I saw Les Miserables, and my mind has changed about it.  I have realized that much of my dislike for the play stemmed from my physical discomfort.  Also, having thought about the story and thinking about the characters for a month, I have realized that the story wasn’t so trite after all.  I don’t think that grace can ever be trite.  No matter how many times I have seen the theme of grace and mercy written about, it still does not diminish from its power.  For the Bishop to say that he had given the candleholders to Jean Valjean was an act of grace. Jean Valjean stole those from the Bishop, and the Bishop had every right to be angry with him.  He had violated his trust and he had violated his hospitality.  However, realizing the great effect that giving grace to Jean Valjean could have, the Bishop said that he had given the candleholders to Jean Valjean.

The Bishop saw that deep down Jean Valjean was a good man with a good heart.  He saw that he had great potential.  He also realized that the social institution that put Jean Valjean on the wrong side of the law was very corrupt, evil and unjust.  He could not fight directly against the government because he would loose his position, and with it loose his ability to help people.  Helping Jean Valjean was the most that he could do.

In the Lion King, the theme of interrelatedness surfaces over and over.  In the song the circle of life, we see this motif.  The song is sung at the beginning and at the end.  Showing the cyclical nature of life.  At the same time, into this cycle is born a young king, who would become part of the cycle, and at the same time change that cycle.  Life can therefore be seen in a cyclical manner and also in a kyrotic manner.  That is, life can be seen as repeating itself, and life can be seen as totally novel.  This notion comes straight out of process theology which states that all of reality is interrelated, and that God, who is the moral center to the universe, is for us and tries to influence us to do the best possible thing in every instance.

In both plays, you see struggles with conscience.  That is God influencing characters to do the best possible thing in their situation.  Conscience is the voice that tells Simba to go back to the Pridelands to conquer scar and make things right.  Conscience is the voice that tells the Bishop that it would be best for him to show mercy and grace to Jean Valjean, rather than exercising the justice of the strict letter of the law.

The day of the Lord came upon several characters in both of these plays.  Scar had his day of the Lord when the messiah figure, Simba, came back and conquered him, restoring peace and justice to the pride lands.  Javert had his day of the lord when his conscience spoke to him so loudly that he could not go on pursuing Jean Valjean.  He threw himself from a bridge when he realized that he had been fighting against the grain of reality that gives all other realities the possibility for their existence.

The day of the Lord also came upon the French government when the young students attempted to overthrow them.  Although the rebels did not succeed in their coup, it can still be considered a day of the Lord.  God does not intervene into the life of the world except to give her influence to people.  It is not God’s fault that some people do not listen and others do.  Those young men died fighting for what was right, and they were defeated, but it is impossible that an evil empire should last forever, as history has shown time and time again.  It is possible for evil to gain ascendancy for a time, but not forever.  The fire that was lit in the hearts of the students was just a foretaste of the great blaze that would be lit in the hearts of the masses that would eventually overthrow the French government of that time.

Prophetically speaking though, the actions of the students could be criticized.  Because of their actions, the rest of the community that did not die could be severely oppressed, even more than they were before.  Possibly the students thought that they were doing the will of God when they were really just feeding their egos.  Thinking that they would be the saviors of the people, they could actually be like Zedekiah, fighting the empire to the demise of his people.

However you interpret that situation, I think that both of these plays are trying to say that there is a moral center to the universe.  They are both examples of how life is interrelated.  They both show that evil cannot reign forever.  God does not allow injustice to rule for long.  Our God is a consuming fire of conscience that takes hold of men’s hearts and does not allow them to turn back.  In the words of Tom Petty, “Well, I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down.  You can stand me up at the Gates of Hell, but I won’t back down.

James Polk – 5-2-00 -Social Dance – Salsa Night at the Borderline

I went dancing with Arianne and Amy, and there was a bunch of other people there from our class.  I had a good time.  We got there towards the end of the lessons, and those were kind of weird, because we have been learning the salsa as an 8-count dance, and the guy was teaching it as a 6 count dance.  Even so, we learned a couple of cool spins from the guy.

When we got to just dance, the music of course was all 8-count music, so I don’t know why the guy was teaching it as a 6-count dance.  It was really fun.  We did the cha cha and salsa, and we even did a little swing dancing.  When you get out there, it all kind of just works without thinking about it.

We did a lot of spins, and that was great.  It feels so cool when both you spin your partner, and you meet back up perfectly.  I found that a spin was a really easy transition move between different dance steps.

Going dancing made me want to really learn some more moves, and just get more comfortable with dancing.  I need to work on being able to move my hips.  Some of the guys out there were really good.  They really moved their entire bodies along with the music.  I also need to work on being able to pick up on the beat of a song.  All in all, it was a good night, and I hope I can get some people to go dancing this summer.

James Polk 5-4-00 Tom DeLong

My main focus in this workout plan is to strengthen a few basic muscle groups.  I want to work on my abs and back, my legs, and my chest and arms.  I did not create a very big workout because I know myself, and I know that I would not complete a large workout on a regular basis.

I have 3 different mezocycles which are each broken down into 2 phases, one to get used to the exercise and one to add some weight.  Now granted, I already have had some experience in each of these exercises, so the difference in weight between the first and second phase is not that huge.  The first and the last mezocycle are the exact same exercises but with more weight and different reps.

For each workout, I have 6 different exercises.  The first is an upper abdomen crunch, and the second is a lower abdomen crunch.  The third exercise in each workout is either a lat pulldown or a seated row.  The fourth exercise is a chest/triceps exercise.  The fifth exercise is a back lift, and the sixth is a leg exercise.

I plan on doing 3 workouts and 3 30-minute cardiovascular exercises each week.

James Polk Coaching Football Coach Keim 2-2-00 Coaching Philosophy

Our goal is to prepare young men for success on the football field and most importantly in life.  To do this, we have a focus on relationships.  We want to be known as a class-act program.  That having been said, we will respect all, fear none, work hard, work as a team, do our talking with our play, not our mouths, and we will play with heart.

No chain is stronger than its weakest link.  We will run while others walk, we will practice while others walk, we will sleep while others party, and we will keep our minds and our bodies drug-free.  We are going to be the best conditioned team,

both mentally and physically.  We are going to get lucky, because luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Family and school come first.  We want to produce responsible young men of high moral character.  If you miss class, you will not play.  If you miss practice you will not.  If you neglect your studies you will not play.  Remember that everything you do either helps make you better or helps make you worse.  We are here to make each other better.
“You are today and will become the things that occupy your mind” – lots of people say this, I first heard it from my HS Head Football Coach as a player, San Pasqual HS Football Coach Mike Dolan.

This basic philosophy ties into my basic blogging philosophy for the 4a2j.guru project.

20 Things I want to do before I die……..

do at least a year of volunteer work – have a family – get a masters and Ph.D. – write a book – surf in the South Pacific – go sky diving – adopt a child – buy my mom a car – plant a tree – take a yearlong road trip around the US – run with the bulls – run for office – walk into the wilderness naked and survive for a year – teach – build a skate park – travel to every continent – learn to play base guitar – have my own study – be a coach – get surgery on all my broken stuff

Lyrics from the song, “We’re only gonna die from our own arrogance,” written by Bad Religion and redone by Sublime

Early man walked away, as modern man took control, their minds weren’t all the same, to conquer was their goal, so he built his great empire, he slaughtered his own kind, he died a confused man, killed himself with his own mind.  Let’s Go! We’re only gonna die from our own arrogance, that’s why we might as well take our time.

James Polk – 5-2-00 – Leadership – Joshua  by Joseph F. Girzone

This book was a really good read.  I read it over spring break in about two days.  Joseph F. Girzone is a retired Catholic Priest who writes about a man named Joshua who moves into a small rural town.  Everyone in the town grew up together, and newcomers oftentimes never become part of the inner circle of residents.  Joshua lives in a small cottage on the outskirts of the town, and lives the simple life of a carpenter.  Most everyone in the town is drawn to Joshua.  The book is the tale of Joshua’s few months in town, and his encounters with the regular folk, and with the established religious authorities.  Girzone calls the book a parable for today.  The premise of the story is that Joshua is Jesus come back to live in today’s society.

Joshua is not an official leader, but he is a true leader.  People enjoy talking with and listening to him.  He valued people very highly.  Not once did he ever put anything in his own personal life before another person.  Whenever anyone came by his house, he would drop whatever he was doing to talk with that person and offer whatever hospitality he could.

I think that people were so receptive to Joshua, and his ideas about religion, because of the high value he placed on people and relationships.  His basic message was that we are all children of God, and because of that we are free to live lives of love and caring.  He was not judgmental, and he saw the good in people that many others did not see.  He was kind and caring, and made people feel welcome and wanted in his presence.

I read this book years ago in sixth or seventh grade, and I didn’t realize until reading it again how much of an impact it had on my life.  I was enchanted with this kind, intelligent and caring man who gave all of himself to people.  Without thinking about it, I have tried to model my life after Joshua.  I fail a lot, but the spirit of Christ that I recognized in the story of Joshua is so attractive that I keep pushing on.  I have always tried to see where people are coming from, and not judge people.  I have always, and will continue to try to be a positive influence in my world.  This story will continue to give me the inspiration to keep striving.

James Polk – Student Leadership – 2-8-99

My mission statement reflects what I believe about reality.  I believe that everything in all of reality has an influence on every other part of reality.  That having been said, I want to be “part of the solution and not the problem”.  I believe that the paradigms that I hold now will be changed a number of times in my life, and I want to be true to my convictions, no matter how they change.

I also believe that life is all about relationships.  That is why I put my main relationships under my name.  They are sort of in order of importance, but it is also impossible to separate them from each other.  Because life is about relationships, I believe that all people should have the freedom to live.  That is why I want to work for social justice.  I was inspired by a book by Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, two brothers who are Catholic priests in Brazil, that talked about the plight of the poor and oppressed.  I believe that God has a special place in his heart, if you will, for those who are kept down by others.

James Polk 11-11-97 The Film Industry: From East to West

The motion picture industry has kept our country enthralled for the last eleven decades.  From the Series of pictures of a running horse made by Edward Muybridge to Huge productions like Star Wars, the phenomenon of moving pictures has kept audiences captivated.  Film has moved into the homes in the form of television and it has pervaded almost every strata of our society.  People even use film to raise their kids.

Film has undergone a series of changes to bring it to what it is today.  Edison did not see his early kinetiscope as being something that would make any money if it was used to project film so that a large group could see it.  He felt that his invention should be used to exibit small, personal           peep-shows.  His thinking was that the profit lay in selling the peep-show machine.  When he got the patent for his machine, he did not pay an extra $150 for an international patent.  This was a mistake that he would never forget.

The European inventors seized this opportunity and went to work.  With the absence of a royalty fee, they were free to use Edison’s ideas and to make them better.  Soon projection devices were made and the rest is history.  As audiences began to be drawn by these moving pictures, the formats began to change.

Vaudvill shows began to encorporate films into their acts.  Starting out as attractive novelties consisting of simple actions performed by acrobats, they eventualy turned into what we have today, feature length films.  Their growing popularity and success caused there to be a need for regulation.  Many people were using bootleged equipment, cutting out the royalty fees.  As brutal competition rose, so did lawsuits.  In an effort to bring order to the chaos of the filmmaking industry, a group of nine companies banded together to form the Motion Picture Patent Company.  The MPPC was an organization consisting of the top manufacturers of film and folm equipment who pooled their patents with the intent of restricting filmmaking to the companies in the MPPC.  The MPPC kept film exibitors under their controll by demanding that they pay a two-dollar-per-week tax.  If an exibitor did not pay this tax then he would not be supplied by the MPPC with MPPC-approved films.  Soon a third role was created, that of the film distributor.  The film distributor got films from the manufacturers and rented them to the exibitors.  The MPPC did not waste any time in controling this area also.  The three groups, manufacturers, distributors and exibitors are still active today.

The MPPC regulations and restrictions were in no way conducive to creative and artistic filmmaking.  In trying to destroy the competition, they did not allow many things.  Not wanting to pay high sallaries, they made sure not to identify the actors and actresses.  They made no movies longer than one reel, convinced that people could not sit through anything longer than ten minutes.  They also did not have any close-ups in their films.  They felt that nobody wanted to see half of an actor.

All of these tactics were to keep them on the top of the industry.  They strove to procuce inexpensive films and to be the only people doing it.  This left many talented independent filmmakers peeved.  To combat the MPPC’s represive tactics, they began to provide the exebitors with films at cheaper rates.  From Europe came full-length feature films.  Not liking this one bit, the MPPC went to task raiding “outlaw” studios and smashing their equipment.  Like the pilgrims fleeing from religious persecution in Europe, the independent filmmakers fled New York and New Jersey.  They sought a place of refuge, and eventualy found it in Hollywood California.  Hollywood was perfect for filmmaking.  It had good weather, needed for the camere equipment and for general ease in shooting scenes.  It had an interesting and varied terrain, land was cheap and it was close to an international border.  This last consideration was very important in order to escape the subpoenas of the MPPC.  The combination of weather, terrain, cheap land and proximity to an international border made Hollywood the perfect haven for the independent filmmaker.

Under these Independents, the new star system was born.  The star system was almost the exact opposite of the old MPPC format.  It, instead of avoiding closeups and identifications of actors, showcased actors.  They caused the people to fall in love with different actors and the characters that they portrayed.  Along with the star system came the trend of movie formats and sequels.  Once a studio found a film that people liked, they tried to keep it going.  They used the same actors, the same basic premis and made the same profits.

While The MPPC seems like the bad guy in this story, the Independent filmmakers also were guilty of exploiting their workers.  Both kinds of filmmaking schools were out to make money.  Money came from ticket sales, Television royaltys, the foreign market and the royalties of using the films at later times.  Money was saved in other ways.  Vertical integration, the controlling of the production, distribution, and exebition of a film as in the case of the MPPC and later in the studio system, was often used.  Ownership was concentrated, thus lowering production costs.  Formats and sequels, described earlier, also served to cut down on costs of production.  For each of these ploys, there were positive and negative effects.

As shown, the repressiveness of the MPPC did not allow for much creativity.  On the other hand, the idea of movie formats and sequels did not lend itself to much creativity either.  When you have one company or one group controling all parts of a market, there is no originality.  Competition, which was allowed for more in the west with the independents, is the thing that keeps movies exciting.

James Frederick Polk 9-16-97 – intro. Mass comm. – Global Village or Cultural Domination

Marshall McLuhan coined the term “Global Village”.  He used it to describe what the world would be turning into through the use of the mass media.  He felt that the world would be “re-tribalized” by the mass media.

McLuhan felt that with the advent of the alphabet, humans put more of an emphasis on the visual than any of the other senses.  Before this, he said, tribal communities were sensory balanced.  All of the senses were used equally to gather information from the outside world.  He states that people learned in groups, through storytelling and life experiences.  When alphabet, and to a greater extent books, came along, man began to withdraw and learn on his own, in solitude from books.  McLuhan describes the invention of the alphabet as a catastrophic event for Mankind.  He felt that books alienated a man from his fellow men.  He also felt that this new way of communicating lead to a sensory unbalance, and was the death of oral tradition.

McLuhan felt that the wide use of the mass media would bring the world together in sort of a “global village”.   I feel that television especially was at the heart of this global unification.  All over the world, people are watching the same programming.  They are being filled with the same values and stories, thus unifying them through this common bond of television.  These stories and traditions are not bound by international boundaries, so making this village a global one.

Many people say that this “global village” makes the world a global melting pot.  They say that because of the spreading of information and programming, people all over will begin to become culturally more diverse and will accept new ideas.  This may be so to some extent and would be so if it weren’t for one thing, just a few countries produce most of the programming.  This makes the world not a global melting pot but the stage for cultural domination.

America, and to a lesser extent Britain, produces most of the programming in circulation.  People in foreign countries see these shows and want to emulate what they see.  Many times these shows portray a completely distorted view of real society in America.  People see actors driving fancy cars and having nice houses and they want to have these things.  They emulate fashion styles of The United
States.  Many of the things that they want cannot be provided by their governments, it simply is not feasible.  A small developing country in Africa that does not have roads or a supply of gasoline cannot use or sustain a fleet of BMWs and Hondas.  It simply would not make sense.

Politically, the mass media tries to give a favorable image of the country from which it originates.  For example, VOA, Voice of America, Sends out messages all over that try to promote American ideals and policies.  It tries to make America look favorable, along with its theory of democracy.  This is another example of the way in which the mass media serves to further cultural domination.

James Polk – 5-3-98 – Old Testament World – Dr. Everson – Reaction to “A Shayna Maidel”

I was very moved by “A Shayna Maidel”.  The actors and actresses in the play portrayed extremely well the devistation that is caused by the breakup of a family.  Not only was this story about the horrors of mass genocide, but it was about reconciliation between family.  It is the story of the endurance of the human heart and spirit.

When Lusia listed off all of the names of people who had been murdered, we get a picture of the inner torment of the young girl who had to be surrounded and entraped within such horrible inhumanity.  It is very touching to see Rose and Lusia come together as sisters, and to see how both of them, though having gone through very different situations, grow and are healed by being together.

I really identified with the position of Lusia and Duvid.  I know the longing that exists between two separated lovers.  Although Michele and I were not married, we went through the pain of being apart once we came to college.  Michele and I broke up two months ago, and it has brought me great sadness.  Once I finally went to my family about two weeks ago, I experienced first hand what wonderful healing family truly can bring.  I still am struggling very much with this situation, but I realized during the play that I have people who care about me, both friends and family, and I can turn to them.

(this is how i still feel, but i have to admit that i spend a lot of time on YouTube now in 2018, whereas in 1998 when I wrote this, all i did was read my bible.) James Polk Old Testament World Dr. Everson Reaction to Convocation Address by Dr. Frederick Sontag 2001 A Spiritual Odyssey      

Dr. Sontag’s basic idea was that the American people are searching for something.  It did not take much to convince me of that, in fact I already knew that.  Just by listening to the cry for help that can be heard from the music of my generation, and that of my parents, it is clear that people want to know what is real.  He sited the trend of fleeing to monasteries as evidence for the increasing desire for something spiritual in our lives.  He proposed that there has been great erosion of true Christian Living, and I totally agree with him.

I have only been a Christian for three and a half years, but it doesn’t take many years, and a gray beard to know that people aren’t truly seeking and serving God.  Dr. Sontag spoke about how the American people would rather watch TV than seek God.  This reminded me of a lyric from a song by Keith Green.  Keith sings “You prefer the light of your TV, you love the world and you’re avoiding me.”  Our god now has become TV and popular culture.  America is a people who have, on the whole, turned from God.  However, it is true that people sense that there is something missing, and that that thing is the spiritual aspect of life.  All of the things that people have instincts and desires for are good.  People turn to wrong ways of fulfilling their needs that are outside of God’s plan and timing and then these actions become sin.  We are living in a time that is like the time that Amos described when he talks about the famine for God’s word.  People are seeking and are hungry, but the only message that they get is that they can do things on their own.  There is nobody to preach God’s word and plan for people’s life.  This speech by Dr. Sontag inspired me to be one who does preach God’s word to this hungry generation.

this is what i was listening to when i re-read this essay.  I do have to say that in re-reading my papers from 20 years ago, i feel much the same way about people’s need for God, but i get the distinct feeling that some of my analysis was made with a bit too harsh of wording.  I don’t really know how to explain.  Matthew 25:31-44 changed my life in the sense that it has freed me from needing to change people’s minds and allowed me to see how to help kids on juvenile probation who are simply kids in need of God and seeking meaning in their music and by their behavior.  yeah, i still think we are empty without God, it’s just that i feel the need to help with every day tasks that burden people more than the need to change anybody’s ideas.

http://www.smallclaims.la/describe-or-guide-society/#sheepandgoats – Everything above this section is stuff I wrote in college as a religion major, minus the first introduction section.  I have not chosen to publish everything I wrote due to the fact that I don’t think the same way anymore, but I am publishing as much as I can.  I am not publishing anything in any redacted form, so I just have to not publish some things. 

I have been mulling this over. I don’t think we have a natural aversion to the idea that a loving God would send people to a Hell. I think we naturally embrace a cosmic justice type of framework of how the universe works. What I think we as a culture have a problem with is the idea that a loving God would send us to Hell for something we think, for an idea. My favorite passage of the Christian Scripture is Matthew 25:31-44. In this passage we have a narrative account of the second coming and in it we have the allegorical use of the imagery of sheep and goats. The sheep are brought into the Kingdom and the goats are sent away. They both have this same response to being told that they did or did not feed Christ when He was hungry, that they did or did not clothe Christ when He was naked, that they did not visit Christ when He was in prison….”when Lord, when?”….”when you did (or) did not do this for the least of My Bretheren.” I think this is a passage of the scripture that is ultimately very palpable to most people. It strikes most people naturally as righteous. I think that my view that what we say as an expression of faith and our understanding in our human terms of who Christ is and how the universe works can only be an expression of a limited understanding of the true reality of God and therefore has nothing to do with our “salvation” in any way shape or form, other than to the extent that it motivates us to take care of the least among us, is sadly enough not palpable to many religious groupings. In so far as theology motivates us to take care of orphans and widows, it is true religion. In so far as theology motivates us to lift up the broken hearted and the completely destitute who have no ability in themselves to fix themselves, we have true religion. In so far as theology breaks down barriers between people, we have true religion. I’m not going to speak to the opposite situation because I don’t know that side of the equation in any helpful or meaningful way. God pulled me right out of having any type of assurance of any idea of what to think about cosmology years ago. He placed me in the middle of much brokenness and asked me to bind up the broken hearted and to feed his sheep. Shooting his goats is the job of a reaper, not me.

James Polk – Old Testament World – Dr. Everson – Reaction to the book of Ezra

I was deeply moved by Ezra’s commitment to God’s Word.  The people of Israel had been in captivity because of their sin.  For 490 years, the people had not observed the Sabbath years, so God was going to require 70 years of rest for the land.  When they were brought back, Ezra was the person who carried with him the royal decree of King Cyrus, which authorized him and the all the Jews to return to Jerusalem.  They promptly built an altar, and then proceeded to rebuild the Temple, despite the resistance they encountered from the Samaritans.  Ezra then went on to rail against the intermarriage of the Jews with foreigners, demanding that the offenders divorce from their spouses.

Some people freak out when they hear that Ezra commanded the Jews to divorce their foreign wives, and even site the story of Ruth and the story of Job to show that your race does not matter.  It is true that God does not care what nation you are from.  It is true though that He does care if you follow Him or not. Neither Job nor Ruth were Israelites, but they did follow Yahweh.  The spouses that the Jews had taken in Babylon did not follow Yahweh.  They held to the gods of Babylon, and this is the reason that Ezra commanded the Israelites to divorce, not because they were Babylonian, but because they did not follow Yahweh, and in so doing, led the Israelites away from God.

While I was at CLU from 1997-2001, Dr. Everson told me to be a mediator, and now I am.  It took a variety of life experiences to show me the wisdom of what he was saying to me.  This paper is about the passage of Hebrew Scripture where Jacob and Esau reconcile. 

James Polk – Old Testament World – Everson – 3-10-98 – Grappling with the Almighty – Genesis 32:24-32

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”  And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”  Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.”  But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?”  And he blessed him there.  So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved

-Genesis 32:24-30 (NASB)

Some have said that the exodus from Egypt is the defining memory in Israel, but I propose that Jacob’s wrestling match with God at the Jabbok River is the true defining moment for the culture of God’s chosen people.  This encounter gave Israel not only its name, but also its key attribute as a nation.  From this point on, the ancestor’s of Jacob will be called Israelites, and like the patriarch they will wrestle with God.  We will look at the text from Genesis to see what this account of the wrestling meant to the people who first read it and also what the story means to people today, both Israelite and Christian.

Jacob was on the eve of meeting with his brother Esau, from whom he had stolen the birthright and the blessing of their father years earlier.  The text says that a “man” simply wrestled with him.  Some scholars interpret this man’s original identity as a demon because of the mention of daylight here and in verse 27 (Murphy 34).  The man asks for Jacob’s name, and he readily gives it.  Then the man gives him a new name, Israel or “one who wrestles with God”, which is derived from roots meaning “God struggles,” or “rules” or “heals” (Marks 24).  Jacob then asks for the man’s name and he refuses.   Scholars point out that the reason that the man would not give his name to Jacob was because it was thought in that time that the knowledge of someone’s name brought “power over the one who is named” (Murphy 34).  This is the same kind of belief that powered the story of Rumpelstiltskin (Kselman 107).

It is interesting to note the break in this story from the “standard pattern for the kind of tale found in this text” (Kselman 107).  The general structure for this kind of story is that a hero (Jacob) is on a quest (to return to Canaan and to reconcile with Esau).  The originator of the quest is God and the adversary is an opponent who is seeking to keep the hero from reaching his goal (Kselman 107).  In this story, the effect of strict Israelite monotheism is shown.  The opponent has to be God because the possible dualism that might be implied by a powerful supernatural adversary to YHWH cannot be tolerated.  From the text, we can see that clearly the opponent is none other than YHWH Himself, this is the climax of Jacob’s relations with God (Hooke 196).

It has been proposed that this part of the Hebrew Bible was written during the Babylonian Captivity.  If so, this story would give people a sense of meaning in their daily struggles.  Not only the hardships of being away from the promised land, but also the struggles with the deeper things of life.  Struggles with love and death.  Struggles with why they were in captivity.  This text would point them back to God.  This text would have served as a reminder to someone in captivity that YHWH was to be engaged directly.  Not only were the Israelites to go directly to God and grapple with deep issues, but they were to realize that their lives, like the life of Jacob, can be at risk on every front (Anderson37).  Jacob’s life was at risk in the physical realm, with the impending confrontation with his brother Esau.  His life was at risk in the spiritual realms also; he was engaged in a life or death battle with God.  The captives in Babylon would identify with this apparent attack from all directions.  This idea that God is to be grappled with, and the true, deep things in life are to be pondered has given the people of Israel a characteristic that has defined them for the last four thousand years.

Today this text has much the same impact and meaning as it did when it was first written.  People all over the world wrestle with God in the sense that they have to come to grips with what they are as humans.  Every man wrestles with the question “Why me?” and “Who am I?”  For the Jews today, this text has significance because even though they might be spread out over the whole world, they still must wrestle with God, and do wrestle with God like all other men.  The Christian too is influenced by this text.  I know that I wrestle with the question of why certain things happen to me personally, and to my world.  I know that I can go to God directly, and I grapple with Him while I lay in bed at night and think about the day.

When I personally look at this text, I can’t help but see Jesus.  The text says that a man wrestled with Jacob until daybreak.  The passage then goes on to have Jacob saying, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”  Jacob wrestled with a man and with God.  He wrestled with a man who was God.  The only man that I have ever known to be God is Jesus.  I wonder if it was Jesus wrestling (physically) with Jacob.  The identity of the opponent is a bit ambiguous and enigmatic, but I believe it to have been Jesus that Jacob wrestled with.

The book of Judges talks about the Angel of the Lord, which could be a possible explanation for the times when God is said to walk with man.  I am not sure whether it was the Angel of the Lord who was walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden and wrestling with Jacob by the river or whether it was Jesus, but that is not really the point of the text.  The text is in the Bible to show that God is approachable, and it really defines what it means to be a person of faith.  Someone who has faith in God wrestles with Him and seeks meaning from Him.

Works Cited

 –Marks, John H.: Jacob’s Wrestling Match – The Interpreter’s one volume commentary on the Bible – Ed. C.M. Laymon: Abingdon Press, 1971

-Murphey, Roland E, O. Carm: Genesis 32:24-30 – The New Jerome Biblical Commentary – Prentice Hall 1968

-Kselman, John S.: Jacob and his mysterious adversary – Harper’s Bible Commentary – Ed. J.L. Mays: Harper and Row Publishers 1988

-Hooke, S.H.: Jacob’s meeting with Esau – Peake’s Commentary on the Bible – Ed. M. Black: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1962

-Anderson, W. Bernard: Genesis 32:24-30 – The Old Testament/The Hebrew Bible –Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1989

This passage and paper supports the English Common Law Idea that we uncover the law.

“Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations; Thou didst establish the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Thine ordinances, For all things are Thy servants.  It Thy law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Thy precepts, For by them Thou hast revived me.  I am Thine, save me; For I have sought Thy precepts. The wicked wait for me to destroy me; I shall diligently consider Thy testimonies. I have seen a limit to all perfection; Thy commandment is exceedingly broad.”

Psalm 119:89-96

James Polk – Old Testament World – Dr. Everson – 5-14-98 – The Word

Psalm 119 is a beautiful wisdom Psalm that elevates God’s word.  It is an intricately structured psalm, consisting of 22 sections, each beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (Anderson, 439).  It is held by some that this Psalm once concluded an earlier edition of the Psalter (kselman, 547).  The envelopment of the Psalms by Psalm 1, which elevates God’s word, and Psalm 119, would indicate that even in it’s formative stages, the Psalms were a subject of study and meditation.  This study and meditation on God’s word is what kept the Jewish people together throughout their many hardships.  The study of and meditation on God’s word continues to be a source of daily inspiration for both Christian and Jew alike.

The whole of Psalm 119 is focused on the individual’s relationship with the law, and not the nation’s.  This indicates that this Psalm was written during the post-exilic era (Toombs, 121).  The exiles in Babylon were taken from their homeland, and no longer had the temple to worship in.  They needed to find a way to sustain themselves spiritually and culturally, and the study of the Law became the very sustaining force that was necessary.  The Jews were forced to live together in ghettos, which made it possible for them to keep from being assimilated into and lost in the Babylonian culture.  Men began to meet together to worship God, and to study and meditate on His word together.

Verse 93 exhibits what the word of God came to mean to the exiles.  It says, “If Thy law had not been my delight, them I would have perished in my affliction.”  The Jews were being subjected to horrible treatment, and the word of the Lord became a support and a comfort in their time of trouble.  The use of the term “word” in many places instead of just saying “law” shows that the writer of this Psalm regarded the law, not as an impersonal mass of legislation, but as the dynamic utterance of God (Toombs, 121).  This Psalm was not necessarily written for the epic moments in life, but for the everyday (Stuhlmueller, 487).  The idea, as stated in verse 89, that God’s word is settled in heaven forever is an assurance and a comfort.  This section of Psalm 119 gives assurance that God is always faithful.

Psalm 119 stands to remind us today that the word of the Lord is the highest good and the greatest joy for human existence (Miller, 219).  The person who reads and understands this psalm can see that the study and practice of the instructions of God is the goal in life.  The Psalms not only encourage such study and practice, but they also instruct in the way.  For me, the Psalms are very comforting.  During times when I have thought that I could not go on, I have turned to God’s word and received comfort.  To me, the term law really means guidance.  Looked at this way, the law is perfect.  It brings the promise of salvation (v.94), the foundation of hope (v.92), and the promise of life (v.93).  Although the law of the Lord can fill a person with fear of God’s terrible justice, it truly is meant to set people free.  When the law is meditated on and followed, it gives peace.  The word can be spoken of in these ways because it is the same creative word by which the universe (v.89-90) was made.  Not only that, but the word also represents God’s life-giving presence, and His steadfast love (Toombs, 121).

This summer, I plan to meditate on God’s word a lot.  I have had a hard year, and I need to go home.  Not necessarily home to Escondido, but home to my father.  I feel tired, and I need to rest.  As the Psalmist so beautifully put it, “I will never forget Thy precepts, For by them Thou hast revived me.”  I am going to trust God’s word, and have faith that God will revive me.  Dr. Everson, this year has been an eye opener.  I have really enjoyed your class.  I hope that you have a good and restful summer, and I will keep you in my prayers.

Bibliography

-Miller, Patrick D., Jr. – The Books of the Bible; The Old Testament/The Hebrew Bible – Psalms, P.219 – Ed. Bernhard W. Anderson – Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1989

-Kselman, John S., S.S. – The New Jerome Bible Commentary – Psalms, P.547 – Ed. Raymond E. Brown, S.S. – Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1968

-Anderson, G.W. – Peake’s Commentary on the Bible – The Psalms, P.439 – Ed. Matthew Black – Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1962

-Stuhlmueller, Carroll – Harper’s Bible Commentary – Psalms, PP.486-487 – Ed. James L. Mays – Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco, 1988

-Toombs, Lawrence E. – Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible – The Psalms, P.121 – Ed. Charles M. Laymon – Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1971

An essay from a Christian Ethics Course I took at CLU. – genetic screening.

In the case study scenario on the course page, we find the story of James.  He is turning sixteen, and in order to drive, he has to have insurance.  His insurance company is requiring him to undergo genetic screening to see whether he has a genetic proclivity towards alcoholism.  If it is found out that he does, the company will not cover him.  Unbeknownst to the company, James does in fact have a family history of alcoholism.  To top it all off, James’ girlfriend of two years said that if the tests come back positive, she will break up with him because she has a family history of alcoholism also.  James is a good student, has never had a drink, and has no inclination to drink.  He refuses to to undergo the screening, saying that if the results come back unfavorable, “his life would be ruined”.  He claimed this discrimination was “serious and as malicious as religious or racial discrimination”.  I agree with him.

This might be more of an aside, but I think that he needs to break up with his girlfriend right away if she is going to base her decision about whether or not to stay together with him on something that is totally beyond his control.  Not only that, her breaking up with him for those reasons could possibly drive him to drinking.  He might just decide to fulfill the prophecy made about him.  That part of the scenario just really got me riled up.  I guess that is what these things are supposed to do.

Now on to the insurance company.  I think that this kind of criteria for insurance coverage is tantamount to racism, and should not be tolerated.  If we see that the race of a person is not something that can be helped, and that it does not change a person’s worth one iota, then somebody’s genetic makeup should not be viewed as something by which a person should be judged.

Ted Peters in his essay “In Search of the Perfect Child: Genetic Testing and Selective Abortion” says that genetic discoveries “ could improve medical diagnosis, prevention and therapy, thus advancing the quality of health for everyone”.  He goes on to say “Yet this apparent good news comes as bad news to those born with genetic susceptibilities to disease, because medical care is funded by private insurance companies and medical insurance is tied to employment”.  He argues that this thing that could be used for such good is possibly going to be used for evil.  Information that could help doctors help people could be used to keep people from being able to pay for the help of doctors.  It is a catch 22 situation, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  But it should not be like that.

Now the idea of auto insurance discrimination is related to medical insurance discrimination in that genetic discrimination as a criteria for auto insurance starts the ball rolling and who can say where it will stop.  I’m not saying that the only reason that it is wrong is because it could be the beginning of a slippery slope, because it is wrong simply because it is based on something that people are helpless and powerless to change, but it also could be the first step down the slippery slope of genetic discrimination which could lead to things like the perfect child syndrome,  selective abortion and ultimately an atomaton filled fourth reich.

Now that was a mouth full to be sure, but this is an issue that attacks the dignity of the human family at it’s very core.  From a Christian perspective, all people are made in the image of God.  That being said, we are all equal in our rights and discrimination on the basis of anything but character is wrong.  From a Philosophical perspective , albeit a characteristically American and a derivitavely Christian philosophical perspective but a philosophical perspective nonetheless, “all men are created equal” and “all men are entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What should James do? Well, there are a couple or roads he could take.  He could refuse to take the tests as the scenario said he did.  Or he could take the tests.  If the tests came out unfavorable, he would most probably decide to make a court case out of it, and this one would for sure be a supreme court case of the same magnitude as roe v. wade.  If he got back a favorable result he could either just go on living and not make an issue of it with either his girlfriend or the insurance company, or he could break up with her still and still take the company to court contesting that eventhough he was granted coverage, the insurance company should not have access to his genetic information.

I can see the positions of both the girlfriend and the insurance company.  Evenso, they are both wrong.  People cannot be judged by their genetic characteristics, but by who they are as people.  I know that this might take longer than judging the other way, and it can be more costly, but in the end, this process will produce much healthier and content people.  Hand worked gold jewelry which has been refined by fire is much more precious than mass produced gold plated jewelry.

James Polk – Rel. 341 – Dr. Streeter – Process Theology – “God is For Us” – 1999 at Cal Lutheran

“In harmonious communal existence, the welfare of all creates the welfare of each, and the welfare of each contributes to the welfare of all.”  This quote by Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki sums up the basis of process theology.  Process thought is that all things are in relation to each other, and that all reality (including God) is in process.  The universe is not static, but it is in motion.  God is not outside of time, but is in time.  God is not detached from the world, but is the most supremely related being in all of reality.  I really like the way that process thought brings faith and reason together.  Not only that, but the faith that process theology brings together with reason is a very inclusive faith.  It is inclusive in that it does not presume to have a monopoly on God.  It is inclusive in that it does not limit itself to a small “chosen few”.  It is inclusive in its heart for seeing the liberation of all those oppressed.  In process thought, “God is for us”.

The idea that all things are related to each other has always intrigued me and has always struck me as being more profound and true than most people I have talked with about it.  When I was in grade school, I heard about the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in India could be the cause of a hurricane in America.  That small scenario and all the implications of it left a permanent mark on my thinking of reality since then.  In the 4th grade my dad started ordering National Geographic documentaries.  We would get one in the mail every month and they were on topics varying from evolution to computer chips.  One video that really captured my imagination and further drove home the point of how everything affects everything else was a video on Hawaii.  The video traced the development of the delicate Hawaiian ecosystem, and showed how slowly over millions of years species made their way to Hawaii in different ways.  The whole system was at equilibrium and all the different species of flora and fauna were working in a symbiotic relationship.  Then early Polynesian explorers came and brought new species like goats and chickens and different plants, and the balance was disrupted.  After a few centuries the islands reached equilibrium again.  Then came European explorers like Cook, and from there it was all over.  The species introduced by this second wave of people, the worst of these being mosquitoes, snakes and ants, totally disrupted the balance of the island.  What does this all have to do with process theology?  Well, process thought is aware of the balance of things in the world, and it takes the inter-relatedness of systems into account.

The idea that I could still be a Christian while accepting evolution is one that I have been thinking about since I was young also.  Just on my own without having gone to much church past Sunday school, I came up with the idea that evolution was the way that God created.  I was in probably the fifth grade when I had that idea.  The idea that God created the world and that evolution occurred never caused me a problem until I started going to a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church freshman year in high school.  The next year I got involved with an even more fundamentalist bunch of people when I began going to “Student Venture” meetings.  Student Venture is the high school side of Campus Crusade for Christ.  Both these groups pushed for me to believe that the Bible is totally inerrant.  In their view, if evolution were true, then that would make the Bible false and therefore Christianity would not be true.

I also had the same basic experience with my views on heaven and hell and on people from other religions.  When I was younger I didn’t think much about other religions.  My basic view was that if you were a good person, you would get to heaven.  My mom always portrayed God to me as being loving and caring.  I never really had any problems until I was in the 4th grade and I had another small stint at church.  I had gone to Sunday school when I was younger, and had just learned a little bit about Bible stories.  This time I went back to the same church for about a year.  This lady named Floe would take all the neighborhood kids to the church where her husband was a pastor.  This time, all I remember learning was that I was gonna go to hell if I was not perfect.  My sister and I only went to church with Floe for a few months, and then she and my mom got in a fight.  From that time on I just remember going to bed every night thinking that I was going to hell because I knew that I was not perfect.  Looking back on those years, I can’t believe what bad theology that was.  Anyway, when I got to high school I heard that we are not saved by our works, but by grace.  Man was that a big burden off of my heart.  Now I didn’t have to go to bed every night thinking that I was going to hell.  The flip side of that though was that everyone who had not “received Christ” into their lives was going to hell.

The process view of hell being the way we will feel when we see reality as God sees it is really compelling.  When we die, we will see how we ended up and how God wanted us to be.  We will see how we affected everyone else around us.  We will also see how every person really viewed us.  We will feel the pain we caused others and that we caused God.  That pain will be our judgment.  We will all be set free to move towards feeling all things as God feels them, and for some that will be less painful than for others.    “Insofar as one’s own use of freedom was in conformity with the nature of God, one will experience God as heaven; insofar as one’s freedom was against the nature of God, one will experience God as hell.”  In being brought into the God, and into harmony with each other, we will experience either heaven or hell.  In this view, hell is not everlasting.  Death does not have the last word, God will bring all things together.

I have always had an inquisitive mind, and have always asked a lot of questions.  Math and Science were always my favorite subjects in school.  When I fell in with the wrong crowd in high school, the fundamentalists (little joke), it seemed that all of my questions were answered.  But I never really was happy with the idea that so much scientific knowledge had to be thrown by the wayside for my religion to be true.  Neither was I satisfied with the idea that so many people had to be thrown by the wayside for my religion to be true.  The incorporation of modern scientific knowledge and the inclusion of people of other religions are two aspects of process theology that I found really attractive.

I like the way that process thought deals with free will.  Each actual occasion has a bunch of influences on it from its past, which are called prehensions.  Each actual occasion also has as another kind of prehension the influence of God on the occasion for the best possible way to deal with the other influences in the past.  This is called the initial aim.  These prehensions are integrated into the next moment of being, with the influence of God’s initial aim through a process of creativity called concrescence.  God’s primordial nature is the ordering of all possibilities into a harmony.  In this view God is good.  God is not all-powerful.  God is powerful in that He has influenced every moment of history.  In short, every entity has the influence of it’s past and the influence of God on it and it has the choice of what it does in the next instant.  Evolution is seen as pointing to God rather than disproving God.  Without God providing the initial aim for the universe to move from a state of disorder to order, there would be no evolution.  Evolution points to God, and squares directly with the Hebrew stories of creation.  In the creation stories, God brings the world from chaos to order, just as he did in evolution.  This leads us right up to the doctrine of sin.

Sin in the process view is very tragic.  Sin is seen as a self-imprisonment of sorts.  There are three basic sorts of sin, the demonic, paralysis due to the fear of death, and the absolutizing of the self.  All three kinds have in common that they are distortions of reality.  The demonic is seen as the accumulated influences of the past asserting such power on a person that it seems like there is no chance to change.  Contrary to the crippling idea that there is no chance for change, process theology asserts that there is always an element of novelty in every moment because no moment can be exactly the same as the preceding moment.  This is so because the preceding moment did not have the influence of itself on it as the next moment will have the influence of that moment on it.  The knowledge and fear of death can be paralyzing to us.  This becomes sin when this fear keeps us from experiencing life as good and rich, and when we shut ourselves off from a still possible future.  Contrary to the paralyzing fear of death, process thought asserts that there is always a future.  The absolutizing of self means that we see ourselves as either the center of the universe and see others as objects at our disposal, or when we see ourselves as simply objects at the disposal of others.  Process thought argues with this position, contending that in a relational universe, each entity is a taker and a giver, not exclusively either.

The ideas about loneliness v. aloneness really struck a chord with me also.  The idea that through seeing the shallowness of relationships with people, we are plunged into a state of loneliness.  We can be lonely even if there are 100 people around us constantly.  We are lonely when we sense that our finite relationships are not lasting and lack meaning.  This loneliness then leads us to see that there is a deeper kind of relationship, and that is with God.  Loneliness is seen as a hallway leading to God.  When we reach a place of experience with God, and we see His nature, we are thrown back across the dark places of loneliness into the world again with the knowledge that God is for us and wants us to work towards communities of inclusive wellbeing.  Aloneness can have much meaning, while loneliness makes us feel like our lives are meaningless, driving us to search for a deeper meaning, ultimately God.

The hardest thing for me in process theology is its Christology and its view of the Trinity.  Having understood the doctrine of Christ’s two natures in the language and thought of Greek substance metaphysic, it is hard for me to so quickly embrace the process idea of the incarnation.  I still don’t even fully understand it, but to the best of my knowledge, the process view of Christ is that he was a man who followed the initial aims of God for his whole life, or at least during his three years of public ministry.  I am more convinced by the relational Christology of process theology than by the antiquated notion of the hypostatic union of Christ’s two ousias.  The idea that the language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit meant different things during the time of Jesus than they do now makes a lot of sense.  When Jesus called God “Father”, it showed more of a transmission of knowledge and wisdom than the begetting of offspring as it does now.  Calling Jesus the Son of God showed His close relationship with God.  Jesus is the incarnation of God’s will, or word as the Greek word Logos is translated in John 1:1.  The word Spirit conveyed the meaning of God’s guiding wisdom in the world.  Trinity can still be used as a powerful symbol if we see Trinity as meaning that God is supremely relational, even within Himself.  I still am thinking this part of process though over.  It is especially hard because most of my Christian mentors from the past and most of my Christian friends would call me a heretic if I told them that I thought of Christ in this way.

So basically I really like process theology because it makes a lot of sense.  I don’t think that it takes away the mystery from God.  I feel that truth has nothing to fear from truth and that Christians should not be afraid to embrace modern discoveries.  Christians should not be afraid to question.  God is Good, and will not send us to hell for thinking.  God is all about relationships.  God wants peace and harmony and inclusiveness.  The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Where we see these things in lives of people, there we see God. We are God’s hands and God’s feet, if God’s will is to be realized in this world, we are going to have to act.  In closing, I truly believe that “God is for us”………….

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