Thursday, July 28, 2011

Black or White or Both...

A lot of people here are getting very exercised on the subject of religion and whether I have any!! I think Diane's dilemma expresses it best. She would clearly feel more comfortable if she could figure out whether I was a Christian, atheist, deist, pantheist or what!! THAT'S exactly the problem. Everyone wants Black or White. There is so much confusion in the human condition that we all want some clarity and definition- somewhere PLEASE!!! This unsettling confusion and need for identity has always led us humans toward some ( any ) kind of "tribalism." The only way we can feel secure in our fragile mortality is to "belong" to something or someone. It might be a nation, a city, a sport's club, a political party, a gang, a neighborhood, a social club or... a religion. It gives us clarity as to where we belong and the comfort that we will be surrounded by like-minded people. The problem is that that behavior robs us of the ability to identify fully with the only true club that we belong to: the human race. And that happens to be the only club that is non-exclusive. There are plenty of moslems, jews, christians, atheists, taoists, mormons who all believe in the same tenets of compassion, love, duty, and responsibility, but our need to identify and separate each other out keeps us from actually enacting these principles. The truth is that the human condition is, and will always be, confusing and confronting IF we surrender to that fact. And that's how it was meant to be. The word "religion" comes from the Latin "re-ligo" meaning "I tie back." It is how we tie ourselves back to the one-ness of the universe ( God, if you like.) However we choose to do this is up to each individual . Some have created "programs" to help the needy. These programs are called "Religions," but they owe more to political power-grabbing and exploitation than anything any of the great teachers have ever spoken about. I hope this helps those who are confused. I guess the closest to a religion that I have come, was spoken by a character on a TV sci-fi series a few years back She said that we are made up of the same molecules that make up the universe, that create the energy inside the nuclei of the stars. She explained that we are literally "star stuff", the universe made manifest- trying to figure itself out. So, be OK with the confusion and the murky differences between Black and White...that's what makes us human and divine at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

To read the comments that all of you have left on this blog AND Charlie's comments back to you, click on the link comments HERE OR at the bottom of this blog where it says, for example, 26 comments. Also, be aware that we moderate the comments, (we do not censor however) we don't allow anonymous comments anymore (you can log in with many different accounts) and are on West Coast Time, so they will get approved as soon as we see them.

59 comments:

  1. you also Charlie .. !! I love that and i have come to realize that labelling anyone to one group is not only unhealthy but dangerous as well . just accept the differences and carry on :) Live would be so boring if it was completely predictable ... step out of the box people ... push past the comfort zones !! I m glad I finally did ! Goodnight Charliexx

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  2. Do you know how much trouble I have trying to find something to argue with you about? lol. Regardless of how hard you try to stay out of groups we all get lumped into them in some form or fashion. It's inevitable. I guess if I were to be tossed into a group it would be with the secular agnostics. But my best friend is a Christian minister. Go figure. :) (no Jo, not yet)

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  3. I could never and will never understand how are why religion and politic's go togather i guess i'am just a dumb blonde so be it!are why when thing's don't go right then some of us play the black and white race blame but i do know that we all bleed the same way and we all feel pain poor are rich blood is blood and pain is pain.

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  4. I couldn't agree more with you. Additionally to you remark about political motivations behind 'religion', I reckon it is to some extent down to human nature (in the Machiavellian and Hobbes-ian sense) to preserve self-interests. One could also talk about realism.

    I wish we were all a bit wiser, just like Ambassador Delenn (the sci-fi character you referred to, I believe), and acknowledge that cooperation and unity take us much further than emphasising how different I am from you and vice versa and so on. Wasn't it an old Native American wisdom that one branch can break easily, but many branches are strong and unbreakable?

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  5. Mr. Shaughnessy, I agree with your views on religion. I personally do not care what people believe so long as they have the facts and are educated about it. I cannot stand people who just jump on the bandwagon without learning as much as they can at first, before mindlessly following. Don't get me wrong, I read the bible. But I also read the Qu'Araan, the Tanakh, Buddhist Texts, The Thirteen Classics, and Daodejing to name a few. I want to learn about these to understand the most important and influential part of each religion: The People practicing it. I am personally an Atheist, because I demand proof of something if I am to believe in it. I also am open about it, and I don't care what others think. My beliefs are my own, and whether or not I wish to share them is my own damn prerogative. People react in various ways when I tell them, some try to save me, some don't care, and some have immediately left or started to yell at me. In one case, I was talking with a friend and Atheist about Atheism, and a man walking by started yelling at me, calling me a communist, marxist pig who was going to be burning in hell while he enjoyed heaven. I can deal with that, but I hate it when people say things that are just untrue about a religion because it will align with their own beliefs, like this whole "The Bible is against Homosexuality" thing. The statement of the Bible being anti-Homosexual is simply untrue, yet few people choose to seek that knowledge because they would then have no pillar upon which to put their own prejudices so as to not have to face and conquer them. When people who practice organized religion accept everyone around them, regardless of their beliefs or orientations, then will humanity have truly taken a great leap forward. If we can finally do that, we will be so much closer to a world of peace.

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  6. this is Lauren....I like that you are not held down by one religion. It really closes us off to other possibilities. I went to Jewish schools my whole academic life up until college and it made me more close-minded in other ideas (although I learned about buddhism in one class and quite liked that). Also, it can limit your lifemate choices if you try and stay only within ur own religion. It is hard when your grandparents AND parents are set on you finding a "nice jewish boy". I would like to not limit myself by I dont know how that would go with my family. I see that it can work as your wife is Jewish and you aren't. Your relationship proves to me that I should go with my gut and not be so focused on what my family thinks! I wonder what your wife's family thought about her marrying a non-Jew hmm...either way, it has worked for you and I am glad.

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  7. You are a reader and quoter of Forster, and that is tribe enough for me!

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  8. The problem with the religions is that the moment you say " I've got the Truth" you are a danger, for yourself and for others.
    How can you believe in something Great and feeling so miserable at the same time, seeing so much pain everywhere...it eludes me.

    Human being is the only cruel animal, I think we are a mistake, far from the romantic idea of being star dust!
    Like those viruses too virulent to exist for long, self destructive.

    There are two answers: we find equilibrium rather quickly or we are doomed...Time will tell...
    (Ok I'm a pessimistic not very fond of humans! Lol)

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  9. Wow, Charlie, you really want to stir up the muck! It sounds like you believe in the concept of religion, but you don’t believe in identifying yourself with one particular religious group/faith—at least that’s my take on it. In other words, it’s as clear as mud. But I’m not about to challenge you on your faith (or what some may perceive as a lack of it); my approach has been that people should be free to choose whether or not to believe, and it’s not my place to proselytize for a particular faith or to condemn people for not believing the way I do. And yes, I know that I will be crucified for that statement (no religious pun intended).

    To put it another way—when I went through the process of confirmation, the entire class had what I would call a “diversity experience”—we were being confirmed as members of the Presbyterian Church, but we did not learn solely learn what it means to be a Presbyterian (as compared to what it means to be a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Roman Catholic, etc.). We actually visited other churches (and, I know it’s technically not correct, but I am including a synagogue in that classification), seeing how other faiths worshipped. We saw a Bar Mitzvah at a Reform synagogue; we attended a Mariachi Mass in which the entire service was in Spanish; we visited a Southern Baptist church; we participated in a Contemporary service at a Methodist Church (this was in the early 1970s; back then a “contemporary” service consisted of singing songs from “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell” during the service). We became familiar with the other faiths around us, partly as a way to show how the Presbyterian faith is different from others, partly to appreciate the other faiths around us. In many ways, this process has affected my religious journey, as (1) I am no longer a Presbyterian—and haven’t been since my sophomore year of high school—and (2) if I am forced to choose a religious affiliation, I just find it easier to write Protestant. Listing the various denominations to which I have belonged, I was baptized in a German Reformed Church (by then, it had transitioned from Evangelical & Reformed to United Church of Christ, although my baptismal certificate states it was E&R), attended a Congregational Church while in elementary school, was confirmed a Presbyterian, attended the Methodist Church as an undergraduate, was a member of a UCC Church and a Lutheran Church while in graduate school, and briefly served on the church council for the local Methodist Church when I first moved here. So you can see that the term “Protestant” kind of fits my religious background. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe; it does mean that in my search for a spiritual home I have chosen to explore different approaches, but the end result is always the same.

    (to be continued...seems that blasted character limit is a problem)

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  10. (continued)...
    Getting to the point, the diversity of my religious experience has led me to approach early America in a way different from many other historians. Most historians who study religion in early America focus on the Puritans—those lovely people who welcomed religious freedom, as long as everyone believed and worshipped the same way. I don’t. I focus on the mid-Atlantic region, particularly Pennsylvania—a colony that from its inception was known for religious pluralism, and colonists were welcomed regardless of their religious beliefs—in fact, they were welcomed even if they didn’t believe in any religion. Pennsylvania indeed served as a model for the future United States, as William Penn’s province showed that it was possible for people of different faiths to live together in relative peace and harmony, unlike what they had experienced in Europe. It’s one reason why the Founding Fathers were adamant about NOT having an established religion for the new nation—diversity worked. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion; people are free to choose their religion, and people are free NOT to adhere to a particular faith, without oppression. Contrary to popular belief, the Founding Fathers did not establish a Christian nation, although sometimes it gets a bit muddled (especially when you see "In God We Trust" on our money). So to me, it really doesn’t matter what someone’s beliefs are, as long as they don’t try to convert me to their faith or tell me it doesn’t count when they attend worship services at my church because it’s not their church. Consequently, Charlie, while I support and understand your choice to believe or not to believe (again, it really wasn’t all that clear, although I got the impression that you might follow the Gospel according to Star Trek), I hope that you realize that you shouldn’t foist your beliefs upon others, nor should you criticize those who choose to believe.

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  11. Ok, my friend...here we go again. RELIGION and the rigid, pseudo-political machinations that infect the churches. But what we(myself, MaryH,Valerie, Diane, et al) have is a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. That relationship causes us to seek out churches that walk the walk. Unfortunately, the world is full of churches that either preach the 'gospel' and are hurtful to others or who do the social programs without ever telling the people about Christ!! And that's what all of you see...a Southern fire and brimstone church that tells you you're going to hell and they don't care if you're starving or pregnant out of wedlock, or a church(like the one my mom adored) who does so much good work there's not enough hours in a day, but never mentions John 3:16. And neither one of them holds their members accountable for the evil things that they do and say in the name of Christ.
    I know others will deal with the issue you raise, that our faiths keep us from helping those who are different than us, so I'll let that slide for now. So, I'll deal(once again) with the "Jesus of the Bible" issue.
    So many people think they are "Christian" because they attend a church that tells them they are if they belong, or because they "like what He said". All that nice stuff about Love one another, Turn the other cheek, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, Judge not lest you be judged. And all of that is wonderful and part of the whole story. BUT...people don't want to see/hear the OTHER things He said. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son THAT THE WORLD THRU HIM MIGHT BE SAVED" and "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THRU ME" Jesus Himself said that ALL humans have ONE way to get to Heaven, and that is THROUGH HIM. You don't have to believe or accept it, and you don't have to like it. But it's what Jesus said, and it's the core foundation of "Christianity". A "Christian" is defined as someone who follows the teachings of Christ, and that's what He taught. If you don't believe that...you're NOT A CHRISTIAN! You can be a good, charitable, loving, caring person who puts some Christians to shame...but you're not His. And that's where so much of the frustration/confusion comes in...it's not logical or possible to say "Well, I'm a Christian but I don't think He's the only way"..because then you're not believing what He Himself said.
    And the other side of the coin..Jesus also said that we will know His true followers by the fruit that they bear. So if you're preaching hellfire and brimstone, but treating people poorly, you're probably not His either. It's a combination of the two things. When a person has a relationship with Jesus, and realizes that they too are sinners saved by grace..they WANT to reach out to others and be His Hands and Feet. To your horror, yes that involves telling them about the Gospel, but it's to be told in love and by example in your life. And when a Christian, who is still a flawed human, screws up...they ask forgiveness of the one they have wronged, as an act of love.
    So probably all of you know people who "claim" to be Christian, and are hurtful people who refuse to admit their own faults. And that hurts the Gospel, so it's a big vicious cycle, and I totally understand why it has turned people off. But the classic phrase applies...Sitting in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.
    Love you ALL...JoAnn

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  12. Great post Charlie! It reminds me of this post you made on your blog#2:

    If people can say " Moslems attacked America," rather than " a small group of radicalized fundamental crazy moslems," then I can say " a Christian shot 73 kids" rather than a radicalized fundamental crazy Christian." Oh, and you can substitute "Right Wing Conservative" for either moslem or christian in the above.

    That statement shows the depth and need to which we have dropped into identifying people, and that need to address people by that identification is wrong. It labels all who could possibly be identified the same way, as people that would also do evil things, therefore the blame becomes the identity and not the person themselves. You are right that we all have a need to belong, but I love this statement you made today.....it is right on!

    "The problem is that that behavior robs us of the ability to identify fully with the only true club that we belong to: the human race. And that happens to be the only club that is non-exclusive. There are plenty of moslems, jews, christians, atheists, taoists, mormons who all believe in the same tenets of compassion, love, duty, and responsibility, but our need to identify and separate each other out keeps us from actually enacting these principles."

    We are all humans....we are all inclusive of each other. Yes, we are all different, but different is not bad. We should love and respect people as much for their diffferences as their simularities to us. Let's all be different, but different together...unified!

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  13. Charlie .. you are right we have always put a label is one of the great problems of our socetà and this says it all.
    As the riguara belonged to something or someone I have to say that my belongings made ​​me become a better person, but I must say that in light of everything that's happening in the world (do not even need to go so far) are not always happy to be part of the human race, but fortunately other times yes .....
    PS Thanks for coming back to the big and outspoken!

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  14. Charlie, I could not say it any clearer than JoAnn did. Forget the word Religion as that is the first mistake. It comes down to your personal relationship with Christ and following his instructions as disclosed in the Bible. I just returned from a heart wrenching trip to Tanzania, Africa where I helped cloth and feed the orphans, street kids and desperate bush villages. I have taken on the sponsorship with one of the orphans. Did I preach religion NO I showed love, the love Christ has placed in my heart. It is not the church you attend it is what is in your heart and your complete, unconditional love for all mankind starting with Christ,who did come to earth in the form of man. I have a question for you Charlie. When is the last time you studied the Bible, the teachings contained therein. Thanks to Adam and Eve, we are all lost to sin but Christ came from Heaven to forgive us of this through his shed blood. I believe this with every ounce of my being and pray someday you will too.
    I am still a sinner but I know when I go to God in prayer asking forgiveness, it is forgotten. It is my responsibility to try and not repeat that sin. With that said, what may be a sin to me may not be to another. Anything we do leaving us with guilt is a sin. The blood Jesus shed was for me and you if you will accept it. People make this into such a hard decision but it is a free gift, no strings attached. Your actions will disclose your belief with Love being the greatest of these.

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  15. Interesting topic. Close to the heart for me. I agree that we are all part of the 'human tribe'(sorry did not mean to leave animals and other living creatures out :) and intellectually, maybe there should be 'no separate religions' as they may divide people (tribalism), perhaps, they are used as weapons, wars may be fought over religion (that can be debated if wars are actually fought for religion or other reasons), but on the other hand, on an emotional level there seems to be some need for religion. There may also be this need to know about your past family cultural traditions and pass them on to preserve them. Charlie, as you said, because every day we are all trying to navigate through this challenge called life (which has many joys too!) people find a comfort in the rituals of their religion. Perhaps, that seems parochial, but if people can celebrate, respect, appreciate each others religions while maintaining their own it does not necessarily have to be a negative. It obviously becomes a problem when you exclude people, prohibit others from practicing their rituals, or dominate others.
    I was in Moscow several years ago, and I was amazed to see how packed the churches were. I would have thought that people would not have had strong ties or feelings toward religion as in previous years the government was not so open to religious practices. I felt that people must have this need to be connected to this.
    On a personal level I have struggled with this as well. I was brought up Jewish, but for years because of my political views and not wanting to be tribal I thought I should not be so openly expressive about this, so connected to the community, or so practicing/observant, but as I have gotten older I have realized that it is so much a part of who I am culturally. I spent a good part of my life probably trying to act, look, and be more like the Sheffields and not be like the Fines to counter that image of Jews and fit into the broader culture (I am Boston Jewish vs. New York Jewish :)even though I had many family members like the Fines:). I have learned I can be 'Jewish' (Oy vey and all) as there are many aspects and values of the culture and religion that are endearing and meaningful to me, and to pass on, but still celebrate other religions, and connect to the human family. I am the Director of a multi-cultural international education program, the mission and philosophy is to celebrate diversity. Ramadan is starting this week, and I will be making sure that our Muslim students have all special arrangements to observe their customs and rituals (on a side note when I meet Muslims who know I am Jewish they call me their cousins). Wouldn't it be nice if Fox news reported on the positive relations between Jews and Muslims instead of the negative. As you said, all of our religions have the values of compassion, love, duty, and responsibility, so we need to connect on these common human bonds even if our rituals and customs are different. One of my favorite poems is by Maya Angelou, The Human Family, when she says, we may all look and act differently, but we are more alike than different. Mazel Tov to all ! :)

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  16. Hi. First, your welcome, Diane. A person should not have to defend themselves just for being a Christian. I mean a real Christian, not like that disturbed individual in Norway.

    However, Skat35, you totally misunderstood what I was trying to say. From Mr. Shaughnessy's post, it "sounded" like he is an atheist without actually saying it. I did not think he was but the way he expressed himself gave me that impression. And if he is, that is fine. That is his God (or "one-ness") given right. When I was much younger, I automatically thought atheists were crazy. But as I got older and more educated, I realized they are not crazy - they are just different. Believe it or not a Catholic priest told me that. You cannot make someone believe in God and if they don't, as a Christian you should pray for them because that is what we do. Not name call, throw things or kill, etc. Actually, my boss, who is Jewish (I am Catholic) taught me that.

    Now back to the subject of Mr. Shaughnessy's religious beliefs. Again, just like yesterday's post from him, I do not understand what he is getting at. I am not asking for black and white. I agree religion is not black and white for a lot of people. However, you either believe in God or you do not. If you believe in aliens as your higher power, just say so. It seems to me Mr. Shaughnessy does not want to give a straight answer for whatever reason. Or that he has made up his own entity to follow. That is O.K., too. But just come out and say I do not want anyone to know who or what I actually believe in. Or even that you are not sure. Maybe he feels it would hurt his fan base, career, etc. Mr. Shaughnessy (and I do not mean to be disrespectful) sounds a lot like a politician when he is talking about religion. He is trying to give an answer without actually giving an answer. I do not think this is a subject he feels comfortable with. (I do agree with him, however, that you can be a good righteous person without belonging to a particular church, club or organization).

    Also, there is nothing wrong with the Jesus of the Bible. It is the people who have used His name to start wars and do a lot of other terrible things in His name that the problem is with. Jesus Himself was the Prince of Peace.

    And why do people like Diane, myself and others care? Because that is human nature. I believe when you feel admiration or like someone for whatever reason, you like to know more about them. Its just human nature. Do not take offense.

    Take care.

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  17. Hey, Charlie! This is the first time I leave a comment on your blog, even though I've been reading it and a lot of comments other people posted for a while now.
    With each post on the blog and now also with each iBlog, I can say I feel closer to you.
    This particular post really nailed it for me.
    I feel the same way, I feel our constant need to label ourselves and others is what really threatens us.
    I think it's something that doesn't help you get in touch with the real you and blocks you from having a healthily open mind in life.
    We're all individuals, and yet we feel lost or incomplete if we don't belong to a group of some sort.
    The real challenge is to try and get out of this scheme as much as we can.

    As for religion, I think that's the worst kind of group one could decide to join or follow.
    Religion sets rules and bans and hate for people are not a certain way and, most of all, who are not part of the same group.
    I think common sense and love for the human race as a whole should be and is enough for us to get by.
    Just be free and respect other people's same right to be free. It's as simple as that. We don't need anything else.

    Thanks, Charlie, for being so outspoken and determined, for sharing so much with the rest of the world. Looking forward to your new post/iBlog. ;)

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  18. charlie i am with you on religion is over rated i am a firm believer in god and the hearafter but why do people try to push religion down our throats ? i've been to church all my life and i do what i want to do in church and i dont let anyone push me around and i've tried several different kinds of churches and i've come to a conclusion they all here to do the same thing to worship god in there own way and also i recently had something happen to me i sold a car to a mexican and i'm here in ohio and well he seen i had another car for sale so he came back and bought my other car and i had it sitting at my younger brothers house well i did my transaction with him and i left and about 25 mins later my brother called me to tell me there was a black guy at his house messing with my car.I said to my brother first off he isnt black he is mexican and he bought the car and my brother said he wasnt going home till he left and in all my life i never thought my brother would ever judge a person he had never met and to judge him by his color and or by the way he looked .I was devastated and we were brought up to never judge a book by it's cover .I just goes to show you there are so many people out in thsi world missing out on such nice people because of this it sickens me.

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  19. I LOVE this! Ye haw! We finally heard Charlie's beliefs! Pretty cool stuff! Wondering what tv show that was? Only one race and that's mankind! Being classified into a group is kinda cliche when you think about it. Of course is always fun to find like minded people. But is fine if we are somewhat "different" from our friends. That is what America is supposed to be founded on. Freedoms of Religion and persecution. Course you guys all know this already. Sometimes people in a group can be more extreme or less etc. And Jeannie: forgot to tell you i didn't know about the problems stemming from your political views. A shame, you are all heart lady. Respect! Seems is in our nature to search for a sense of belonging to something. I agree with this blog 100%. Now there is a big surprise to the folks on here that know me. LOL

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  20. Great comment as well Karen! "The gospel according to star trek." Funny! In his defense, is sometimes hard to understand other peoples points of view at first. Something i go through alot in trying to explain agnosticism. My friends say they don't understand my way of thinking. But if i get on a pantheist forum and chat they understand exactly what i am saying. Like minded i guess. Was nice when i found them so i could confirm that i am not simply insane. lol When i found them it helped me to stop thinking i was a weirdo. Sounds as if you were searching for what was right for you and not simply following in family traditions. Which seems to me what MANY folks seem to do! I believe you should follow your heart not your friends or your parents etc. Enjoy the history stuff BTW!

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  21. Ok, everyone lay off poor Diane! I only used her as an example because her question was so heartfelt and illustrated a key issue for me. I am not in the least angry with anyone! You all know how much I LOVE a good debate! Everyone has a right to their own view, religion, politics or soccer team...even if they are wrong, crazy, delusional or in denial!! ( just JOKING folks!!!) Seriously, I deeply appreciate the courage and honesty that Diane and the rest of you have shown in this passionate discussion and I hope you will keep it up. Remember, the first constitutional congress in Philadelphia must have sounded a lot like this!!

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  22. Let me get this straight, 5 blogs in 4 days! It has been too much fun! What will we do when Charlie returns to a drought? I guess this has been the upside to political turmoil in the U.S. As far as religion, I think whether you wanted to or not, you all know where I stand by now.

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  23. One more thing, I just reread your post and wanted to make one correction. When you listed various religions you listed both Christians and Mormons as though they were separate. Contrary to popular belief, Mormons are Christian. Believe me, I should know! ;)

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  24. @Charlie: Thanks for understanding and appreciating the passion that all of us have shown when commenting on the blogs. I do have a question, though, about your last statement (the one about the first constitutional congress in Philadelphia). Sorry, but the historian in me is wondering which group you are referring to--the First Continental Congress that met in 1774 (prior to the Revolution) in which "conservatives" (future Loyalists) argued vociferously with "radicals" (future patriots) about whether the colonies should separate from England, or the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which was a relatively mild gathering of a bunch of what today we would call fiscal conservatives who were concerned about the financial future of the nation (and who met in secrecy because they effectively were overthrowing the government).

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  25. Thanks for this blog and now I´m really going to heat things up!! My Grandfather who came from an ultra Catholic family used to say "Religion is the poison of mankind"He probably meant it as a general explanation for the all the goupings around from Catholic to Muslims to Jews etc.and in a way he was right because much evil has happened under the idiom of religion.Some of us have the choice to be in a certain "group" others are there because if their ethnic backgrouds.
    I do agree with JoAnn only Christians that actually live to the teaching of the Bible can call themselves Christians, but then again these are divided into groups such as Protestant, Lutheran, Catholic etc. and are just names in order to identify with a "club". As far as I am concerned there is good in everyone of us and only some of us attach ourselves to certain what I shall call organistions.
    Now there are some people like myself who can´t really put myself into any shoe ! I am part Jewish by birth was christened a Catholic due to the political situation at the time of my birth, was educated in a Catholic boarding school and due an incident totally distanced myself when I left school as I found some of the teachings too radical and finally when I came to Germany didn´t belong to anybody only paid the compulsary taxes here!My sons were both Baptised as protestants and the one that survived had a choice later.Now comes the trauma in my life when my oldest son commited suicidde at the age 0f 16yrs no priest or minister would come as the poor boy had "sinned". At the time I was too traumatised to think about it , but over the years I have come to the conclusion , asking if there is really a God or whatever. Then it´s preached he forgives.I finally got a lay preacher who couldn´t have said better words and did the same when my husband died.
    Now am I a less charitable or a bad person because I don´t "attach"myself to a"club" So basically I have no denomination.
    @Unknown (lauren) I can fully understand your situation and if it´s a consolation to you it occurs other societies as well in India,and many Asian countries etc.However in these modern times especially in the US one would think these "old world" customs would be put aside.I think in the Jewish community the thought is more the keeping together aspect due to their history over a thousand years . My son married a jewish girl here in Germany, and her parents never questioned what he was, even my daughter in law´s very Orthodox relatives never questioned that and they live in NYC!! They couldn´t of course have a Jewish ceremony so they got married in a civil servic which was just as festive.They now have a child who will be brought up in a liberal enviroment . Other than one certain ceremony done on boys , there is no religiousness being practised. In fact my son loves the Jewish festivities much more than the so called Christian so they celebrate Passach, Hannuka and Xmas ! Even her parents do this now !!
    Lauran, I know lots of so called "mixed marriages" between Jews and Christians and even a Muslin & a Jew !! So here it also depends on the person- I wish you luck and hope you will find the right partner , and most of all that it will be because of love and not just a" nice Jewish boy "

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  26. Just want to say I appreciate everyones comments. I am new to this and so nice and interesting to be apart of this community. Thank you, Charlie for bringing us together on your interesting topics (there has to be a screen play here some where). With that said, regarding the first Continental Congress - I happen to be reading the autobiogiorgaphy of John Adams (I am from Boston and was a history major, so this is what we embarrassingly we do in our free time :) - John Adams was very adamant about free speech and religion being an integral part of the Constitution - after all he did defend the British during the Boston Massacre while being an ardent revolutionary and separatist from Great Britain (although considering what is going on today, we would have been better off if we had stayed - at least we would have public health care :)...
    So what is really important
    let's get Charles riled up -thoughts on Manchester United/ Real Madrid - soccer teams - thoughts on them because they are part of the socio-economic picture. Also, Charles, let us know what your work out routine is, trying start a new one.
    Let the games begin... friends...

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  27. RJ and Mary's (glad you had a good time in Tanzania) comments were great. And sorry to Diane or Lilly if i offend you guys in anyway. You didn't need to apologize we were just debating as Charlie said. And lots of you guys I have been come to know and you guys are very sweet ladies indeed. I respect your rights to be believers. And Jo, i agree with you its about a relationship with Jesus. Great blogs and agree with Jeannie we will miss it. But all good things must come to an end. And Dedra: Had thought we had that stuff in common. We love you too Jo!

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  28. Thanks Charles for taking some of the heat off of me. This is a common reaction from others when you choose to stand behind what you believe in. I believe I will now have a Mike's Hard Lemonade and listen to some tunes. Hope all is well with you and your family.

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  29. Had to add! Diane's comment on this blog:"What???=too funny! And Jo (ZMT): (my com-padre) Sure hope you didn't run out of nitroglycerin on all these posts. hehe

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  30. Oh me again! Had a realization after thinking about Dedra's comment. If a Christian minister and an agnostic can be BF's then that says a lot about acceptance and looking past differences. Lily didn't mean to single you out. Is just people assume i am an atheist if i don't go to church etc. And just making a point that folks presume or label without knowing their views. At least asking would be a better way i feel. Cool of Charlie to clear the air. Finally! Right Jo? We had a running bet. Not Really!

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  31. Mary you mentioned you spent some time in Africa. I would love to go there and do some work in the clinics. Would love to do some medical teaching as well. Any info you can send my way would be appreciated. There are so many people who need our help.

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  32. @RJ: It's nice to welcome another history geek to the blog. Jefferson would be another Founding Father to throw into the mix about religious freedom; after all, he viewed being author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as one of his great accomplishments that he wanted on his tombstone (along with being the author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia--somehow being the 3rd President of the U.S. wasn't all that important to him). Of course, Jefferson is probably one of the better known Deists in early America, so it’s not unreasonable to think that he would support religious freedom; certainly any religious group that is not part of the “religious establishment” supports religious freedom (or, at a minimum, religious toleration).

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  33. @ Karen don´t be so particular when ,what or where happened LOL. Most of us probably don´t know at lib anyway. This is a blog .Ironically weren´t the Founding Fathers British ?
    I think it´s just amusing that an ex British man has these online discussions!So basically the US took over some things from the Britisch Parliament

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  34. @Liane: Actually, yes and no. The Founding Fathers were all British subjects in 1774 when the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia (in other words, ruled by King George III, Parliament, etc.), but not all of settlers in the colonies were British citizens (I'm not about to go into the nuances of naturalization in the British Empire in the 18th century here, although I could). Plus, depending on how you define "Founding Fathers," not all of them were of British ancestry. After July 2, 1776, when independence was declared, they were no longer British subjects, although that did not become official until the approval of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

    And just because it’s a blog, I don’t think we should ignore historical accuracy (sorry, Charlie). There is a big difference between a meeting that convened to protest the imposition of a series of laws designed to limit people’s rights (the First Continental Congress met to protest the passage of the Coercive Acts, known as the Intolerable Acts in the colonies) and one that developed a new system of government for an independent nation (the Constitutional Convention). It might not seem like a big difference to an outsider, but there are reasons why we have a National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and why there doesn’t seem to be any commemoration of the Articles of Confederation, which was the first system of government for the United States (and the one that was replaced by the Constitution we have today).

    Incidentally, it’s not that surprising that the U.S. government—and the state governments—took things from Parliament. They were familiar with the British system of government, because that was what they had experienced during the colonial period. All of the colonies had assemblies that served as localized versions of Parliament (and had many of the same rights), and their judicial system was based on English common law. Most of the colonies also had an “established” or government-supported church like in England (the Puritan or Congregational Church in New England, the Church of England in the South) in which people paid taxes to support a specific denomination; if you followed a different faith, you paid for your own minister, church building, etc., while also paying for the expense of another denomination. It’s one reason why the Founding Fathers found it so important to consider freedom of religion as one of the cornerstones of the new government with the 1st Amendment; they recognized the religious diversity of the new nation and saw it as another way to differentiate themselves from England.

    And I don’t find it that unusual that a naturalized citizen would want to engage people through a blog. If anything, immigrants like Charlie probably value the opportunity to participate more than those of us whose families have been in this country for over 300 years who often take it for granted. It’s part of the American tradition that all citizens, regardless of their national origin, participate in the political process, and the exchange of ideas through a blog is part of this process (although it is a relatively recent one). Some people just are more active than others, just like not all of Charlie’s fans participate in the blog (gee, Charlie, if all of your fans participated…you’d be spending all your time reading and moderating comments).

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  35. @sk donovan You are not dumb. Is hard to understand how religion and politics could go together. Don't rightly understand it fully myself. The way i view it, (thinking) has to do with power and control over the masses. If you get right down to it the two have alot in common. Plus, is easier to maintain a civilization if you have a country of mostly peace-loving tolerant individuals vs raping and pillaging mercenaries. So really is in a governments best interest to allow religions to run ram pet. To me is a big mess when religion is allowed to dictate politics or largely influence it. But because Religions are such a huge part of human society's (needing to believe or belong to) is easy to see how it could in fact influence other areas. I tend to think very logically and is hard for me to understand the logic of this dictating. but many people are fine with it. Just hard for us agnostics to swallow sometimes. Another mysterious part of human nature.
    we are spiritual creatures. Which could also co-incide with Chariie's star stuff theory. Like we are spiritual because we are part of something bigger or longing for something. So we seek answers from another authority. Just ideas from a philosophical fool.

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  36. Wow, JoAnn! We really are twin sisters, aren’t we?! I couldn’t have put it plainer or simpler than Mary and Jo did. Charlie, Christians (derivative of the Greek word, “christianos” meaning “follower of Christ”) are NOT talking about a religion but instead of a personal relationship with the God who created us and “tied us back” to Him through His death and shed blood on the cross. However, He doesn’t force us to be “tied back” to Him. It is a gift, a free will, a choice all our own. These professing “Christians” who behave like this Norwegian gentleman are exactly like the Pharisees in Bible times. Now the Pharisees also believed in and followed the Law of God and if they lived in our time would’ve probably also call themselves “Christians”. However, they were even more concerned about following the letter of the Law to every degree that they cared little for any outside groups other than their own and, in fact, were actually very hateful to outsiders. They were SO hateful to outsiders and SO focused on the Law of God that they missed the fact that God had sent His only Son in the flesh to them at that very moment. Instead, they reviled this man who called himself Jesus and His teachings that were against theirs. They even went so far as to condemn the very man in which they were waiting for God to send to them. The human condition/race is simple as you said, Charlie, and also non-exclusive. We are ALL sinners (Jew, Gentile, slave, free, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat, red, yellow, black, white, etc. [Romans 3:23 For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.]). It is through that sin that we are separated from our Savior who made us for a purpose. The reason we have a “need for identity” is because God has instilled into the human race a yearning to be “tied back to” the One who also yearns for (but does NOT demand) our love in return. Our spirit, soul, and body can be likened to a puzzle. We have pieces of feelings, emotions, etc. and one of those pieces is to belong to something/someone. That space in the puzzle can ONLY be filled with God and His love. This is why so many people try to fill that void with money, vacations, love interests, and everything else except that One perfectly fitting piece. As for us literally being “star stuff”, Charlie, you could not have been more right. For the same One who made that “stuff” with molecules made us from those molecules as well (Isaiah 42:5-8 “This is what God the Lord says- who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and life to those who walk on it. ‘I, the Lord, have called you for a righteous [purpose], and I will hold you by your hand. I will keep you, and I make you a covenant for the people [and] a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, [and] those sitting in darkness from the prison house. I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, or My praise to idols.’”). As you mentioned, Charlie, everyone has a right to their own view, religion, politics, and even their own soccer team. However, as JoAnn also said “You don’t have to believe or accept it and you don’t even have to like it”, but there really IS only ONE way to heaven no matter what your view is. And that ONLY way to eternal life is by accepting the free gift of God’s forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His shed blood for sins. I, too, LOVE a great debate but unfortunately on this one thing (at the end of everyone’s life) there will be NO debating this issue with God. You either know Him or you don’t!
    Thanks again, Charlie, for all of the blogs these past few days. I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it and reading everyone’s responses. We, as your fans, really do appreciate the time you give to us no matter where you stand in the scheme of things. ;P

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  37. Now, Valerie, think about what you just said:
    "As you mentioned, Charlie, everyone has a right to their own view, religion, politics, and even their own soccer team. However, as JoAnn also said “You don’t have to believe or accept it and you don’t even have to like it”, but there really IS only ONE way to heaven no matter what your view is. And that ONLY way to eternal life is by accepting the free gift of God’s forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His shed blood for sins. I, too, LOVE a great debate but unfortunately on this one thing (at the end of everyone’s life) there will be NO debating this issue with God. You either know Him or you don’t!
    I hope that you are able to see the contradiction in that.

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  38. No contradiction in that, Charlie. Some have their view that there is more than one way to Heaven and they can choose their own path in order to get there or wherever their "heaven" is. I tend to take the Bible's (God's) view on it that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. In the end, everyone WILL die. You must at least admit that, Charlie. And when that occurs, no matter what one's views or beliefs, their soul and spirit will have to go somewhere. When each person faces Christ after death (and yes, this is my "view/belief" only because GOD Himself said it first and He is Truth and cannot/does not lie. Again, not my words but God's), he/she will then realize whether or not their "view" was right in GOD'S eyes NOT in each of our individual eyes. So when you think I am contradicting myself by saying that "everyone has a right to their own view, religion, politics, and even their own soccer team BUT there really IS only ONE way to heaven no matter what your view is" that is actually a very synonymous statement. God ALLOWS everyone the right to have their own opinion and views. However, at the end of life's hour, HE has the final say about which view is correct or wrong NOT us Christians. I'm not saying with pride that "it's my way or the highway", I was matter-of-factly stating that this is what God says.

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  39. Unfortunately it's either their way or the highway there huh? Hard game to win if you choose not to play! Sorry 80's movie fan! (war games)

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  40. O.K. Charlie, I couldn't go on agreeing with you forever. Regarding Val's comment, I am not sure to what contradiction you are referring. I assume (could be wrong) that you are referring to her stating that one has the right to believe as they wish, but in the end if they do not believe ONE particular way they will be condemned. If that is to what you are referring, I do not see a contradiction, because she also states that God does not force us to be "tied back". It is a gift that we can choose whether to receive. Val explains that it will not be forced on us. We don't have to receive it. We can choose our beliefs and actions, but we can't choose the consequences as a result of those beliefs. For example, I can believe all day long that my extremely hot oven will not burn me, but if I choose to touch it, my belief won't change the consequence. Nevertheless, if I want to believe that it won't burn me, than that is my right.

    You may not agree with that assessment, but I don't think there is a contradiction. However, I am not sure that is to what you were referring. I hope you sleep well. Try to relax. I hope you had a great reunion with your family.

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  41. The thing that pisses me off is people blame Christians for everything, want to point the finger and not take fault for their own actions. Everyone has a belief but, like others have said, it's not a religion it's a relationship. I love how people want to judge others based on their religion and talk crap, well maybe you should take a step back and look at yourself and realize how insecure you are. Being religious and having a relationship with God are two different things.

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  42. Gosh the discussion is back to religion. Well Val you are right. Charles no contradiction here. There is no contradiction unless you don't believe. If you believe in God and Christ, there will be a day when we die that all of us will have to face the Almighty. If you truly believe in Christ, you will go to heaven per the bible and Christ's words not mine. If people choose to ignore God's word that is their business. I wish I could save the world but I can't. So what I can do is spread the word and give of myself when I can. Charles we won't be able to debate with God because he is God.

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  43. Oh brother! I just give up!

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  44. After the last blog comment went sour not sure that i want to light another powder keg but maybe i'm a gluten for punishment or just used to all this debating in being a liberal agnostic southern democrat with possible aspergers. Plus, i am ex foster child so used to going it solo. Rednecks are very hard to argue with (stubborn). My two best friends are Christians. One extreme so is my life anyway. Sometimes i am nearly ready to end our friendship but we keep making up.
    Anyways back to the point at hand. So you guys are stating if i was born in China or anywhere else and my parents were Buddists or Taiost and i followed in their footsteps largely due to that is the MOST prominent religion in that country. That is okay BUT i am still going to hell because i do not know Jesus Christ as my personal savior nor have a personal relationship. So you say i would have an option to CHOOSE to switch to Christianity or whatever. How is it that God saw fit for you to be so deserving of luck to be born in a Christian nation and i must hope for some luck to fall into my lap as so to hear the good news of Christ in my native China? Or suffer the torture of hellfire and damnation. Very hard for me to comprehend the sense in that. Is my opinion IF there is a loving God that he would see fit to give mankind a FAIR shake to be with him no matter COLOR of skin and allow OTHER religions who also PRAY and dedicate themselves daily to enter into his said kingdom also. Just saying!

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  45. ‎"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition — and then admit that we just don’t want to do it." Stephen Colbert

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  46. Why would our nation not help the poor? In my twitter account I get a lot of twitter from ONE. Many times they discuss about how much money the US government is going to give to Africa for food, meds, nets, etc. We have developed food stamps, Medicaid and numerous benefits for the poor. I work in the Medical field and take care of people on Medicaid every day. Their care is as good and sometimes almost better than private insurance. This country helps the poor more than its fair share. So not sure what you are saying. It is many of the bloggers who say this isn't a Christian country. As for me, I still believe there are plenty of Christians in this country. Its just the non-believers want us to think otherwise.

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  47. It is NOT the government's place to provide charity...esp. when they don't do it very well. Except for the WIC program, they have failed at every turn. People who have NO BUSINESS being on welfare are stealing from those who truly need it. People(esp. single mothers) are trapped in the system, they can't get a job that lets them start out on the ground floor and work their way up(which would stimulate our economy AND their self-esteem)...because the job pays less than welfare. Why can't the system "supplement" their salary until they can catch up? Why is welfare all or nothing? That would put MORE money back into the system to help others.
    I used to believe that the reason govt. programs were needed, was because charities weren't doing their job. I've come to realize it's the reverse...charities aren't getting the support they need because people figure they've "already paid" thru taxes. Why are we throwing money at BROKEN, BLOATED, CORRUPTED programs? And those of you who don't want messages of faith served with the help...fine. Start secular ones. But this is the true def. of insanity, to give the govt. more money to squander.
    Christians are commanded to be 'good stewards' of their finances, and I don't think I'm being a good steward if I give more money to those thieves in DC, and I'm not a greedy person for fighting that. If anything, I feel BETTER because I know I'm campaigning for the money to go to those who need it, and not bureaucracy. And if you're "afraid" that giving $$ to a charity feeds THEIR coffers...then give food, clothing, household goods, etc. But don't feed this beast we've created.

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  48. Uh, Charlie--are you so desperate to try and prove your point that you have to resort to using a quote from a comedian?

    Anyway, I know my next statement will probably offend some people, but I feel obligated to state it again: The United States is NOT a Christian nation! Nowhere in the Constitution nor in any of the writings of the Founding Fathers does it state that the United States would be a Christian nation (just like we're not a democracy; we're a constitutional republic--the Founding Fathers did not trust the common man, so they certainly would not have developed a system of government in which the common man had a significant voice). Also, while some of the social programs that exist today clearly fit into the model of Christian charity, Christians are not the only religious group to support charitable activity (and, in fact, Jews had a multitude of relief/social welfare programs for new immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

    I keep coming back to a question I posed in one of my previous blog comments (unfortunately, I can't recall which blog it's on)...how do you expect to pay for these social programs? If your response is to cut defense spending (which includes not financing the conflicts in the Middle East) and to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, why did the Democratic-controlled Congress continue to fund the war and to extend the tax cuts in 2009-2010? Something has to give…and in some ways, I’m starting to like Herbert Hoover’s approach to the Great Depression more and more (for those of you who are unaware of Hoover’s program, he thought that relief programs should be handled on the local level so that the assistance is more direct—not through the federal government, where it could get bogged down in bureaucracy).

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  49. Well said Charlie & Steven! Kudos here!

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  50. O.K. I'm back to agreeing with Charlie (Stephen) on this one, although I do see some other points. I also agree with Karen that this is not a Christian nation and that charity is not just a Christian value. Nevertheless, I believe the reason for so much criticism towards Christians in this regard, is because it is them that hold such a powerful presence in the GOP, which is always promoting cuts in social programs that benefit the underprivileged.

    I also believe that we need welfare reform to minimize abuse, however, we need to recognize that we will never eliminate abuse. Whenever there is a system to help provide for the needy, there will be those who abuse that system. It does not matter whether that system is provided by the government, a church, or a private charity. Yet, there are many, who because of no fault of their own, who truly need the help. If ten people abuse the system so that I can get the help to that one person, to me it is worth it. I do know, however, that we have limited resources and that is why it is important to do all that we can to minimize the abuse.

    I, like Jo, have always felt that we should not have an “all or nothing” approach. I agree with her when she asks regarding those who do not go to work because they cannot afford to, “Why can't the system "supplement" their salary until they can catch up? Why is welfare all or nothing? That would put MORE money back into the system to help others.” I believe this type of approach would benefit both the welfare recipient and the taxpayers. Yes, we do need welfare reform, but that does not mean we need to put less emphasis on welfare, but rather evaluate the way that it is provided and try to improve the system. Improving the system would allow us to help more who truly need it.

    (cont.)

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  51. (part 2)

    Another argument that I often hear is that forced charity is not charity at all. God has given us free will and who is the government to take it from us. Though I would agree that forced charity is not really charity, I do not buy into the argument that the government infringes upon our free will by providing a welfare system for which we are required to contribute. No man is an island. We are a society that consists of people whose actions affect one another. As such, it is imperative that society is governed in a way that maximizes the welfare of all of its citizens. When I help my fellowman, it ultimately helps all of society including me.

    Further, I definitely feel that the rich should definitely pay higher taxes. I admit, that I used to debate this issue in my own mind (or with Sylvia as I call my alter ego). After all, if we were all taxed at the same rate, someone who earns a million dollars a year is already paying more than a person who earns fifty thousand dollars. But, here is my argument. This nation has provided an economic climate that allows its citizens to prosper. Some prosper to a much greater extent than others. Those who have most benefited from the economic environment that has existed in this country are only being asked to give back a small portion of their earnings. I look at it as though they are buying something; they are purchasing the right to continue to prosper in this economic climate. They should have to pay more because they have received more. They would not have prospered as much in almost any other nation and therefore they need to pay something for that opportunity. Because of this, the argument that we are stealing from the rich to give to the poor is bothersome, especially when one might consider that perhaps the wealthy have more often been guilty of stealing from the poor.

    I know that there are many arguments for why the rich should not have to pay any more in taxes. These arguments range from infringing upon free will to the robbing of the rich to provide for the poor, but I believe that for many Republicans (I am not generalizing here—I don’t like it when Democrats are generalized as godless and immoral) these arguments are just arguments. They are not truly the underlying issue. I know that there are many who simply would rather give to charities other than the government. However, I think there is just as many or perhaps even more who simply do not want to give up one of their precious dollars to help their fellowman. After all, they deserve what they have earned. They have worked hard. I do not argue that many of them have worked very, very hard, but more than likely they were blessed with circumstances that allowed them to prosper. Do you know why I have prospered? I have prospered because I have been born in the United States of America. I have prospered because I was born to parents who wanted me and loved me. I have prospered because I have a sound mind and a healthy body. I have prospered because I have greater than average intelligence (probably genetic). I have prospered because I was able to afford an education. And, yes, I have prospered because of hard work. Out of all of the reasons I can think of that I have prospered, I only had an active part in one of them and even there I realize that I was surrounded by many wonderful role models. Most of us will never be asked to lay down our life for our country, but we are asked to lay down our money. I would rather do that.

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  52. I enjoy reading the ladies' views here and their spunk in sparring with one another on this issue.

    However, here is my dilemma. I work for a lawyer and it just hit me that with all the talk about separation of church and state we close everything (the courts, libraries, etc) for the Christmas holiday. The house and the senate approved to make it a federal holiday and Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a federal holiday way back in 1870. Christmas, no matter how you look at it, is a religious holiday - christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Why would President Grant do that? And note there is no federal holiday for muslims, jews, etc. Even though through the years it has been challenged in the courts, Christmas still remains a federal holiday. So how do you explain that?

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  53. "Just as selfish as we are!" Sure hit the nail on the head and i got a good laugh out of it to boot!

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  54. @Jeannie Loved your last comment about charity and welfare! OMG! couldn't have said it any better. Also feel that the new drug tests for welfare will help to stop much of the abuse in the system. In being a foster child (a ward of the state of Florida) (and they did a good job of raising me btw) i can say first hand that support & (love) plus good circumstances in favor of someone carries much weight for their future. Graduated in the top 10% of my class and there was no one to help me to go on to college etc. Had to work to keep myself off the street. Got pregnant by my assistant manager that was much older than me (who later turned out to be a jerk). Anyway started me off on an even harder foot due to know i had a child to consider. Had i more self esteem things may had worked out better for me. I am still poor 19 years later mostly do to more unforeseen circumstances. Yes, i have received food stamps (not currently) and welfare twice. If i had a support system to help babysit etc could work more and continue to better. Don't understand the welfare abuse that some speak of on here. Expect seen folks buying expensive meat and seafood or selling stamps (mostly due to drugs). We have to report our income every three months and our help goes up and down. If we don't report we can get into trouble. Suspension for 6 months to a year. Fines and jail time. They keep close tabs on your income. Have also been audited on many occasions by DCF. When i last got a welfare check in 2005, it was only for $205.00 and i have three kids and a husband. Could not pay light bill or phone bill so ended up being on the streets with my family. We have been homeless 4 times in the last 8 years. I can tell you it is no easier to live on government assistance programs than is for the elderly to survive or afford their bills on their income. I SO agree with the idea of the supplement or rewarding folks that really Try hard to get off gov help. Incentive is a great idea. You feel trapped. Like if i start doing okay for myself and lose medicaid. Okay for a while then one of my kids or me go to dr and i worry how am i gonna pay for this. Making less money can seem like a safety net. You worry if i can't get help and something happens to my child. Would blame myself forever that i am a bum. Is not their fault i made bad decisions that put us here. But there are some programs to help such as kid care low cost insurance. My youngest will be starting kindergarten and i am looking forward to going back to work soon. Anyway i pegged you right with the (big heart). You make me :)! Can you run for office & Charlie?

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  55. Lily you are right again. It's funny how people say that we are not a Christian country but do celebrate Christmas. Amazing Christ is in Christmas. Oh well just spinning my wheels because everyone has their own point of view. Will have to do some more research about our country's history. Isn't that sad but too busy with my job and family to do much more. Take Care all. Where are you Charles???

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  56. @Lily: I think part of the confusion lies in the Constitution (which is a secular document). The Founding Fathers did not intend for the United States to be a Christian nation; they deliberately avoided that discussion with the 1st Amendment. Actions of Congress since then (such as making Christmas a federal holiday) contradict the intent of the Founding Fathers, but the fact remains that just because Christmas is a federal holiday does not necessarily mean that the United States is a Christian nation. If that were the case, is the United States a pagan nation because New Years Day also is a federal holiday? (In case anyone is wondering, New Years Day was developed by the Romans to honor Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings).

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  57. @Karen i did not know that about New Years. Now That is interesting. @emerys somehow i missed your comment. not sure if you are still around this late? Kudos, your ideas may not be that far from the truth. I too am pessimistic. Love to see you around again. Course this is not MY blog. Woops!

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