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This article by Caleb Miller seems to be no longer available at what was once his blog.

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Matthew 25:31-33 – When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

This passage has been used over and over again, especially if we’re involved in any evangelical style church or ministry gathering, as a teaching for eternal separation. The typical offering gives us the following prognosis based on the evaluation of the text.

  • The sheep are the believers
  • The goats are the unbelievers
  • The believers go to heaven
  • The unbelievers go to hell

These four conclusions are cemented in many minds, but if we are willing to (as Christ often did) play with the text a little, take a breath and a step back from it, and look at it a more intently, I believe we’ll see something a little more that Christ is offering than a simple issue of eternal destination. Jesus rarely offered a simple sermon without dressing it up in metaphor. Even Matthew says that Christ spoke nothing that wasn’t in parable form to the crowds1. Obviously we can see at first glance that Jesus isn’t referring to literal sheep and goats, but is making a play to the people He’s speaking with. But to whom is He speaking? Jesus tells us in Matthew “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”2 Is Jesus telling us that His salvation is only for the Jews? No, He’s telling us His ministry on this earth was first to them. His teaching and healing ministry, though at times encompassing Samaritans and surrounding gentile peoples, was first and foremost to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But who were those lost sheep?

The Lost Sheep were, according to Jeremiah, those who had lost/forgotten their place of rest.3 According to Jeremiah, it was the fault of the shepherds that they had forgotten this place of rest. What we see in Jesus’ statement then is that He is not sent for the “lost” as we would view them through our 21st century evangelical lens – those unbelievers – but rather sent for the “lost” as Jeremiah put it, those who had been led astray and forgotten their place of rest. This place of rest is what David spoke of in Psalm 23; the green pastures the Father, the good shepherd, leads us to in order that we may lie down. Lying down is an image of rest. Jesus, the wonderful rabbi that He was, would have known this passage well, and might have been thinking of it when introducing the parable of the sheep and goats.

A Pictorial View

His use of sheep and goats would intentionally play on the imagery of the Hebrew mind. Their ability to see objects as representative would surely have come into play while hearing the master teach. Just as the Passover lamb would have a significant representation to them beyond a simple lamb, the sheep and goat from His parable would have a meaning beyond the bare text. The goat to the mindset of the Jew would represent the sin offering under the systems of sacrifice.4 The sheep would represent the offering of peace (a state of total tranquility).5 As they heard Him speak, possibly the thought of what these two animals represented came flooding into their minds. The goats, the offering for sin, were set off to the left, and the sheep, the offering of peace – of which Jesus title as the Lamb of God would encompass – off to the right.

In this pictorial view we see that the interest of the judgment and separation is about separating the offering for sin away from the hearer’s peace. The two never need be in the same room again, much less eternally abiding together. Sacrifices for sin and the sacrificial (self giving) life of the lamb for peace were not to be linked together. Does this view do away with Jesus’ dealing with sin? By no means, but His dealing with sin had little to do with peace between God and people, and more to do with healing the conscience of humanity. The writer of Hebrews says that our conscience needing cleansing, not our actions.6 If our actions needing cleansing, then that is what would have been dealt with, and we would most likely see better ethical choices taking place today. It has never been about action, it has always been about conscience. The story of the two trees in the garden doesn’t show us good versus evil, but rather the dangers in a conscience of evil (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). It is knowing good or evil that creates issues of conscience. (Please note I’m not condoning having no conscience in how we deal with one another, rather I’m stating that the purpose of dealing with sin was to cleanse our conscience of separation anxiety due to that same sin).

This view occasions a broader scope of the text than is commonly understood. Christ separates sin from peace, removes sacrifice from the equation eternally, and casts that idea into the fires of eternity, forever separating sacrifice and offering from peace. As David said (and the writer echoed in Hebrews) “sacrifice and offering you did not desire”.7 The desire of the Father was never sacrifice,. Rather His desire was peace between God and man, without the necessity of sacrifice.

A Royal View

Another view of the parable would revolve around typical royal positioning. According to Hermas, the Holy Spirit stands on the left, and Christ on the right of the Father.8 To the Jew the first and primary position was the middle, most often occupied by God. The next position of power would be immediately to the right, and the third position would be immediately to the left. (Keep in mind that this is not to say Jesus is more or less powerful than the Holy Spirit – as a viewer facing the throne would have the opposite left and right from the throne itself). In this scenario, the left and right are both positions of power, with the greatest (second only to the giver of said power) being to the right – the position those who “believe” or “visit the poor” find themselves. Using this view, we see an image of separation that isn’t used for eternal destination but rather to display how it is we can find power. It is as though Christ is saying to the listener “do you want power?” “Then visit the poor, care for the outcast, minister peace”. In peace is power according to the royal view of this parable.

Another royal view of the parable comes in the relationship of King and Queen. In the royal court, a king who is legitimately king is seated to the right, with the queen on his left. His highest position of power would be to his own right hand. When the queen is queen regnant, she is seated to the right, and the king on the left. With this view, what we see is that the right hand is again, the position of power, and the left hand, though a lesser power, is still the king’s bride. She is still a royal, still in a position of great importance.

In either view of the parable, we see something more than simple eternal destination sorting. We see a greater picture of what Christ is saying. Understanding the metaphor with which He would have been speaking, we see that Jesus isn’t simply telling us we’ll “go to hell” if we don’t visit prisoners, He’s telling us that there’s great peace found in caring for the outcast, and that the greatest position of power is found in caring for those who, according to the parable, would be found on the left side.

In either view, we also are left with a niggling question.

What of those we did or did not visit?
On which side do they fall?
Is Jesus telling us that we are only judged based on our visitation of the sick, the prisoner, and the hungry?
What of those hungry people, are they sorted to the left or to the right?
What of the prisoner, is he sorted to the faithful or the unfaithful?
What of the sick, is she sorted as a believer or an unbeliever?

Maybe we need to look on to the “punishment” that is to be inflicted on those we believe to be “out” of the fold.

Everlasting Punishment?

We’ve dealt with separate viewpoints on the separation of the sheep and goats, but what about the sending of the goats into eternal punishment? The word for eternal is aionios. There are several sources claiming this means “for an age” and that could very well be. My only problem with taking the word this way is the same word aionios is used for “eternal life”. So if punishment is only for “an age” then life would have to be the same “for an age” contextually speaking. However, if we focus instead on “punishment” I think we’ll find out what is really being said in this occasion. Punishment as used by Christ is kolasis. Kolasis refers to both correction and punishment, so which are we to understand He means in this context?

Retribution or Restoration?

The question of “God’s Judgment” is one that has the ability to divide the lines of Christian theology. From my personal tradition, I do not believe the Father is going to judge the world, whether it be for sin, or otherwise. I believe He “gave all judgment to the son”.9 For whatever this means to us today, my view of judgment is one that allows for it to have happened in the past through the working of the Son. There is not room in this particular writing to deal with all the viewpoints of judgment, so this is where I’m going to start. We should look at the biblical view of “God’s Judgment” and how it pertains to what Jesus is speaking about.

There are three “judgments” of the Old Testament that are probably the most notable: the first being human removal from the Garden of Eden, the second being the great flood, and the third being Sodom and Gomorrah. These will suffice to show the lens through which we can view judgment, whatever your personal stance may be on the judgment of God.

Firstly, the removal of humans from the Garden. For the sake of time we won’t cover all available bases here, but the main point is: Adam and Eve eat something they shouldn’t have, and then judgment comes to them. This judgment comes in the form of removing them from their home. Often we hear that God was punishing them for this mistake, but is that what is really going on here?

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. Gen 3:22-23

God removes humans from the garden for their protection. Lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever is only a problem when we know good and evil, or are able to make a separation in our minds of who and what would fall under those headings. This is not ours to decide. More devastating than knowing good and evil is to live forever, knowing good and evil.

We could then state that this first “judgment” of God is protective. Protective judgment makes a decision based on the best interests of the defendant’s future. Much like a father today would issue protective judgment on his own children to keep them from driving the family car under the influence of a controlled substance, the Father issued a protective judgment to prohibit humanity from operating eternal life under the influence of a controlled substance, the ability to determine good from evil. This ability is a controlled substance; it intoxicates us on our ability to determine who and what is in or out.

Secondly, the Great Flood. There are many theories as to the historical accuracy of the Noahic flood. Whether it be myth (historical metaphor sprinkled with fact), parable (metaphor only) or literal (no metaphor), there remains a truth to be seen in the “judgment of God” in this setting as well. One of my favorite things to point out in this story is that the bible says every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually10 yet we never see it say except Noah. Noah “found grace” in the eyes of the Lord, but certainly was far from perfect. But let’s stay on topic. The flood comes, the people die, and judgment and gloom is all around. And then the end. Noah comes with his family and the animals out of the ark, and the Father issues a decree.

…and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. Gen 8:21

God makes a promise that never again will living things be destroyed for the problems of humanity. This judgment could be seen then as birthing a promise. Much like a protective judgment, a promise bearing judgment proves to be for the benefit of those who have been judged. It is not for their destruction, but rather for their good. God saw evil, (according to a strictly literal view) dealt with evil, and then promised that no living thing would ever be destroyed again for the problem of evil.

(I should interject that I do not hold to a strict literal viewpoint on the flood, my personal belief is that something happened, and mankind gave the credit to God, rather than God taking credit for the mass genocide of His beloved children, but that is not what we are dealing with in this essay.)

Lastly, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Probably far more popular than even the Noahic flood is the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. If we have sat through any length of service, children’s church, or bible class we will have heard this story and had it explained to us. The people are caught up in violence and rape, and a variety of sexual and violent behaviors. Destruction comes, and after destruction – something I don’t think we fully understand at times.

I will restore their fortunes, the fortune of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters (and I will restore your fortune along with them), that you may bear your shame and be disgraced for all the comfort you brought them. Yes, your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, Samaria and her daughters, shall return to their former state (you and your daughters shall return to your former state). Eze 16:53-55 (NAB)

After hell fire and brimstone comes something that most probably don’t admit. Restorative judgment. God promises I will restore their fortunes. Restorative judgment is really the heart of the matter. For whatever we believe about the “judgment of God” in relationship to the world today, it must be said that the only judgment found in the bible is that which leads to restoration. This is of supreme importance because it will forever change how we view the Abba of Jesus, our Heavenly Father. In punitive judgment we have destruction at the end. Punishment (legally speaking) is tit-for-tat. It is this much punishment for this crime. The greater the offense, the greater the destruction wrought. However, the judgment of the Father throughout the Old Testament can, and must be, seen as restorative. Restorative judgment is aimed at furthering a relationship or person. Retributive judgment is aimed at ending a relationship or person.

So, God’s “judgment” is either:

  • Protective,
  • Promise-Bearing, or
  • Restorative

In either case, these are the ideas that must come forward to the parable at hand. When Jesus speaks of those goats being cast into something, it must be seen as either protective, promise-bearing, or restorative. We can rest assured that the Savior is not simply offering a message of eternal separation, but rather eternal correction and thereby restoration. What could be better for a heart hell bent on excluding the outcast than to be corrected? And what could be better for a heart committed to the outcast than to be shown that the position of power the exclusionist sought to obtain was in fact found in being committed to the outcast? Nothing, and that is the nature of the gospel, to be committed to the outcast, to the downtrodden, to the broken.

I realize that in playing with the text we can often times read too much into it. My intent is not to create a new theology or to simply “buck the system” but rather to help us take a less literal approach in applying the parables of Jesus to our own time in history. In many of our own lives, we have a sort of morbid curiosity that leads us toward focusing on the negative side of any circumstance. For many, it isn’t enough to see an accident, we begin to wonder and even speculate as to whether someone died in the accident, usually basing our speculations on the appearance of an ambulance or paramedic. This is all too often how we treat the gospel as well. We see an instance wherein Jesus is seemingly making a separation of “believers” and “unbelievers” and our focus tends to be drawn towards the fate of the unbeliever rather than what is spoken about those He would call “sheep”.

If instead, we would focus on the right hand and the goings on of those sheep, I believe we could find a bit more importance. Those sheep find rest and peace at the right hand, and find it because they are willing to care for the outcast. In caring for the outcast, “sheep” beget “sheep”. Our focus is to be loving one another, caring for one another, and providing for one another, not making a determination on who is “in” or who is “out”.

Michael Hardin has (in my opinion) summed up this idea best in an article from his website saying:

“A great contemporary debate in America is whether or not we are a ‘Christian’ nation.’ In the light of our parable we must ask whether the moral trivialities we fight over are evidence of our character. How can a nation spend $500 billion on a war and neglect the poor and suffering around the world?”11. How indeed? I believe we can justify it because we have for too long been focused on the wrong side of the story, the left hand if you will, and in focusing on the left hand, we have missed the point of the story – namely the right hand, to care for the hurting, the oppressed, the outcast, and the poor.

Final Thought

One final thought to consider comes from Robert Capon’s book Kingdom, Grace, Judgment – Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus. Mr. Capon talks about Left-Handed and Right-Handed power.12 An interesting concept, Capon states that right handed power is the power that uses force to meet its needs, while left handed power is as Mr. Capon puts it paradoxical power that is; power that closes no doors to interpersonal relationship from our side13.

What does this mean in relationship to the parable “at hand”? This creates yet another vision within which we can make a determination on the left-vs-right hand scenario painted by the Savior. For the Jews, Jesus represented a paradox. Their God had been one who not only seemed to prefer right handed power, but also used little other means to accomplish His ends. Jesus however, comes on the scene using precisely the opposite, and has the gall to say “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”. His determined left handed power left the door open to all humanity.

Looking at this parable then through the lens of left and right handed powers, it could be said that Jesus is making a play at this very idea. That those on the right, the ones who are doing the will of the Father by visiting the downtrodden, are exacted with swift force, placed as good and faithful servants, and no more movement is needed. Those on the left however, are met with this paradoxical power, the power that leaves a door open, open to reconciliation, open to forgiveness, open to correction. The right hand of the King receives a swift judgment of a “stamp of approval” of sorts, while those on the left hand of the King receive a judgment that is not so swift, one that leaves room for change, for repentance, for contrition. Whether they ever take advantage of that or not is not to be taken from this parable, but is interesting to think about to say the least.

Conclusion

It may well be that this parable reframes standard views of judgment found e.g., in I Enoch and the Dead Sea Scrolls where judgment is predicated upon holiness codes or election. Whether we see the parable as strictly literal (a heaven/hell issue), partially metaphorical (sin offering vs peace offering), strictly metaphorical (the bride to the left, with the position of power to the right) or even as a play on two types of power (right vs left handed power), we see a marvelous thing unravel; namely, the parables of Christ continuing to play out in our own place in history. This, I believe is the greater point of His parables. There is no one single answer to “what they mean” but rather they stand to mean something different to every reader.

1 Matt 13:34
2 Matt 15:24
3 Jer 50:6
4 Lev 4:24, 9:15, 16:9, 16:15, 16:21, Num 15:27, 28:22, 29:28, 31, 34, 38 – etc.
5 Lev 22:21
6 Heb 10:22
7 Ps 40:6, 51:16, Heb 10:5, 10:8
8 9:35
9 John 5:22
10 Gen 6:5
11 http://www.preachingpeace.org/lectionaries/yeara-lastpentecost/
12 Kingdom, Grace, Judgment pp 15-25 (2002) Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
13 ibid

 

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Madeleine zapped off the TV set with the remote control switch. “I refuse to look at that dumb name anymore.”

“What dumb name?” Pietro asked, looking up from his newspaper.

“Pacific Telesis,” she snapped. “It sounds more like a skin disease than a phone company.””

“Maybe it’s not a phone company. Maybe it’s just a Christian punk rock band hiding its light under a bushel.”

Madeleine considered the possibility for a moment and discarded it. “Fat chance. Christian music groups always flaunt their Christianity. The bushel has yet to be invented that will cover up the big business of witnessing to Jesus for Fun and profit. Not that that isn’t a rash in its own right, come to think of it.”

“My, my,” Pietro observed quietly, “I gather you have a bone to pick with musical proclaimers of the Gospel.”

“You bet I do. I can’t stand the way they overlay whatever legitimate musicianship they may have with a lot of commercial sincerity. Listening to them is like snorkeling your way through an ocean of pancake syrup.”

“It seems to me that I detect the prejudices of a fifth-generation Episcopalian.  These people have to make a living, you know. Outside of you and your mother there isn’t all that much of a market for handbells, recorders, and the Kings College Choir.”

“Can I help it if I was raised to spot corn a mile off“?  And corn in the name of Jesus halfway across the country? I’m just saying what I think—and what a lot of other people think too, but can’t work up the nerve to admit.”

“Corn is ever with us, love,” Pietro said soothingly.  “The beloved nineteenth—century hymnody of your youth was not exactly a seamless tissue of musical spun gold.  Besides, the name of Jesus is, I think, quite able to fend

for itself despite any or all lapses of taste on the part of its advocates.”

“Don’t try to soft—soap me,” Madeleine huffed. “You squirm your way through those testimonial—ridden performances just as much as I do.”

Pietro pondered briefly. “That is true; but permit me to make a distinction. My deepest objections to what is currently called ‘Christian music’ are rooted not in the tackiness of stretching the safety-net of piety under the supposedly daring highwire act of artistic performance, but in the use of the word ‘Christian’ to modify any human endeavor at all.”

“I think you just lost me.”

“Be patient and the way will be made plain. First of all, the word ‘Christian’ appears in Scripture only three times. In its two occurrences in the Book of Acts, it comes from the lips of unbelievers; and in the single reference in

1 Peter, it is used in a way that indicates the writer is at some pains to bestow respectability on it.”

“So? How do you get from there to saying there shouldn’t be any Christian anything?”

“Quite directly. The word, having had a dubious beginning, has had a history of even more dubious developments. If we are to exalt Christian musicians above all other musicians, why not Christian plumbers above all other plumbers, or Christian chicken-pluckers above their unbelieving but still feather-bedecked fellows? The point, you see, is that music, plumbing and poultry dressing can be–and most properly are—judged by the workmanship, not by the religiosity of their practitioners.”

“Hold on, though. Aren’t there some activities to which ‘Christian’ can legitimately be applied? How about Christian parenting, for instance—or Christian marriage?”

“In a word,” Pietro said authoritatively, “my answer must be ‘No way,Jose’. If you will allow me rather more than a word, though, yet another distinction occurs to me.  True enough, there will be Christians who marry and who raise children, just as there will be Christians who unclog sink traps. And truer still, their Christian beliefs may well impinge on them as they seek to fulfill their roles as partners, parents or plumbers. Nevertheless, the roles themselves (which, mind you, were designed by God when he created nature, both human and non-human) and—to come to the point—the performances given by people who assume those roles, can only be judged by the particulars of the roles, not by the religion of the role-players.”

“Say it simpler.”

“A good Jewish mommy is good primarily because of her mothering, not her religion. A bad Christian plumber cannot, by reading the Bible more regularly, make amends for running the sewer line into the dry well instead of the septic tank.”

“Thank you.”

“’Thank you. Ergo, musicians should be judged by their music, poets by their skill with the language, and stockbrokers by their ability to recommend companies that do not go bankrupt. If these people are both Christians and baritones, bards or brokers, we should rejoice that Jesus has so many competent supporters. If they are good religionists but poor workmen, we should enjoy their fellowship in the Gospel but take our trade elsewhere. And if the local Buddhist makes the best pottery…”

“All right, already. But what about the idea that ‘the soul is naturally Christian?”

“Ah!” Pietro sighed. “So it’s Tertullian, is it? Anima naturaliter christiana; the grain of truth that’s been used to justify a ton of half-baked, if not lethal, misrepresentations of the Gospel. Better just to talk about Jesus and the Good News; ‘Christianity’ is mostly a millstone around the neck of the Church.”

“But the Church is Christian, isn’t it?”

“Nope. It’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Call it Christian and you close the door on the whole worldful of non-Christians to whom it’s sent.”

“O…kay. How do you stand on the Christian religion?”

“Negatory. Not only isn’t it just for Christians, it isn’t even a religion. What Jesus did by dying and rising was the end of whatever religion was trying to accomplish, not the beginning of a new one.”

Madeleine sighed. “And just think: all this from just mentioning Christian music.”

“What you mentioned,” Pietro said archly, “was Pacific Telesis. If your itch for criticism is over, why don’t you switch the TV back on?”

 

(More Theology & Less Heavy Cream, Robert Capon)

(After its merger in 1997, Madeleine was officially liberated from Pacific Telesis commercials. She now suffers through AT&T commercials instead.)

Louise: But didn’t he finally do something religious when he died on the cross?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, Louise, but no again. Nothing he did was in any way recognizable as having religious significance. He died as a common criminal. The cross is a sign not of sacrifice but of execution — of a nasty bit of judicial murder that has no more intrinsic significance than the thousands of other such acts all through history. To be sure, people have turned the cross into a religious symbol; but since Christianity is not a “religion,” that sort of thing can only lead to confusion. Christianity is the proc­lamation of the end of religion, not of a new religion, or even of the best of all possible religions. And therefore if the cross is the sign of anything, it’s the sign that God has gone out of the religion business and solved all the world’s problems without requiring a single human being to do a single religious thing. What the cross is actually a sign of is the fact that religion can’t do a thing about the world’s problems — that it never did work and it never will — which is exactly what Hebrews 10:4 says: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” So, if you want to theologize it into a sign, the best you can do is say that it’s the sign of the fulfillment of all that religion ever tried to do and couldn’t. The fact that the death of Jesus was non-religious says that loud and clear. And the fact that we put up crosses in the church, and make the sign of the cross on those who are baptized, says the same thing.

If that’s hard for you to grasp, try a little mental exercise with me. Suppose for a moment that the work of Jesus — the mani­festation of the whole Mystery of God’s Incarnation — was taking place now rather than in the first century. Suppose that the Jesus in whom he became human had been born in an inner city to poor, Hispanic parents in 1959, that he began teaching when he was about thirty, and that after three years he ran afoul of the authorities and was condemned to death in 1992. Then ask yourself, “How would he be executed?” Most likely, of course, he’d die in the electric chair.

But then, jump ahead to the year 3092 and ask yourself another question: What would his followers in that distant future be doing with that manner of death in terms of ecclesiastical symbolism? It’s interesting, isn’t it? The chosen sign of the saving Mystery of his death would be not a cross but an electric chair. There would be replicas of the Old Rugged Electric Chair in all the churches. Solid brass ones, fourteen-karat gold-on-silver ones, fabulous diamond-encrusted ones on cathedral altars, tiny silver-chained ones to wear around your neck, and even molded chocolate ones for Easter candy. Not only that, but those who were baptized would probably have their heads shaved and be strapped into a chair for the rite.

But perhaps that’s enough to make my point about the cross. All I want to add here is that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was just as non-religious. Nobody at all saw him actually do it. And only a handful of people witnessed the empty tomb — a witness that was written off by a good many others as a fraud. True enough, his followers claimed to have seen him risen; but he didn’t bother to stay around long enough to get any decent publicity. Instead, he disappeared after forty days and left a ragtag group of apostles and disciples to proclaim that this festival of irreligious mysteriousness was in fact the best news the human race had ever had. Weird; definitely weird. But not religious.

Third and finally, though, think of how the street-theater director’s cast of characters might try to explain to themselves how he finally turned their hodgepodge of actions into a play with a happy ending. They might, of course, attribute his success to specific bits of intervention on his part: a word here, the suggestion of a different bit of business there. And, true enough, each of those interventions would have been an instance of the director himself entering into the interchanges of the play. But if the cast were wise, they would look deeper than that. For one thing, they would see that since the key to the play’s success didn’t lie in them, it had in some sense to have been in the director all along. And for another thing, they would realize that since the success of the play was caused by the director, he had to have been in the play at every moment of its action, not just at the times they could recognize as his interventions.

In other words, they would have to invent something very like the notion of mystery to explain his constant, unobservable presence throughout the play; and they would have to invent something very like the notion of sacrament to explain how his occasional, specific actions were not just single instances of his acting to make the play a success but rather manifestations, in certain situations, of his real and effective presence to the play all along. Or, to put it another way, they would have to develop a directology (read “theology”) of his work that met two important criteria. On the one hand, it would have to affirm his intimate and immediate relationship to every moment of the play and not insist that his specific interventions were the whole cause of its happy ending. On the other hand, it would have to affirm his general relationship to the play in such a way that it didn’t deny the real presence and effectiveness of that relationship in his specific interventions.

Which brings us (luckily, because the analogy is just about to wear thin and break down) to what the church at its best has done in developing a theology (read “directology”) of the work of God incarnate in the world. Needless to say, the church’s theolo­gizing has had its share of analogous temptations. Some theologians leaned in the direction of the “on the one hand” in the preceding paragraph. They treated the death and resurrection of God in Christ, for example, as if it were the only time and place in the history of creation where God had done his reconciling work. He acted once and for all, they said, in A.D. 29. Taken literally, of course, that got them into trouble. The “once” made it sound as if God had been absent from the play of history until he showed up after the intermission and did his thing in Jesus. And the “for all” gave them problems because it required a lot of legalistic shuffling to get the job he did in Jesus applied to the characters who died before the intermission, or to those who did their part in the play of history in places that Jesus (or his church) never got to before they died — or never got to at all.

This approach also led them to take a highly “transactional” view of what the church was up to. The church, for them, became the pipeline through which the work of God in Christ was funneled to the world. If you got yourself connected to the church, you got the happy ending; if you didn’t, you were out of luck. Or, to change the illustration, the church took the God in Christ who said he was the Light of the world and turned him into the Lighting Company of the world, complete with access fees (lots of good deeds) to be paid before you could tap into his power, and the threat of a cutoff in service if you didn’t keep up the monthly payments with righteous acts. But if Jesus really shines as the Light of the world the way the sun shines as the light of the earth, then nobody needs to do anything to get the light. The Mystery of Christ shines from one end of creation to the other: the whole shooting match is already lit up everywhere, free for nothing. The church doesn’t have to tear around telling people to get themselves wired into Jesus. It just has to bring them the hilariously Good News that if only they will trust Jesus and open their eyes, the darkness will be gone. And it will be gone because, except for the blindness of their unbelief, it was never there at all.

The whole, reconciling work of God incarnate in Jesus, you see, is already in everybody and everything by the universal pres­ence of the Mystery of Christ. Therefore, the church is catholic not because it has the whole human race inside it (it never has had, and it probably never will) but because it is the sign (sacrament) to the world of the catholic reconciliation God has handed to every last human being from Adam to whomever. And do you see whai that means? It means that the Mystery of Christ is present not just in Christians or in good guys but present in sinners right in the midst of their sins. It means that the Mystery isn’t something that picks up its lily-white skirts and runs away when somebody does a no-no. The Mystery just hangs around everywhere: it’s in the murderer at the moment he puts the knife in the victim’s chest; it’s in the victim as the knife punctures her heart — and it’s in the abuser and the abused, the torturer and the tortured, the violator and the violated. You don’t earn its presence by being a good egg, and you can’t lose it by being a bad one.

Which is why, I suppose, when God chose to sacramentalize the presence of that Mystery in Jesus between 4 B.C. and A.D. 29, he made sure it got manifested in a very questionable egg indeed. In some sense, to be sure, Christians are committed to take seri­ously the notion that Jesus was “without sin.” But you have to be very careful not to turn him into a Little Lord Fauntleroy in velvet pants. Because whatever the theological significance of his “sinless-ness” may be, it’s a cinch that the notion would have been news to most of the people who ran into him during his career. As a matter of fact, a lot of them just lumped him together with the whores and tax sharks he habitually hung around with and let it go at that. Even more alarmingly, he never even tried to convince them otherwise — being content, it would seem, to be made “like his brothers and sisters in every respect,” even to the point of being a rotten egg, or, in Paul’s more elegant but even more astounding phrase, of being “made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21).

The Mystery of Christ manifested in Jesus, therefore, is the Mystery of the irrevocable marriage of God to creation — of a completely restored relationship “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.” It is not some divine Ro­mance with an idealized beloved; it’s the embracing of all the gorgeousness and grisliness of the world because that’s all the world God wants and all he’s got — because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29), and because, as the om­nipotent, champion turkey-caller of all time, he doesn’t quit till he gets every turkey in the world: Robert, Louise, Otto, Enid, Alice, and Frank; Alexander the Terrible, Sam the Serial Killer, and Geof­frey the Office Letch; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Jerome the Professional Grouch-and even St. George the Dragon-slayer, just in case he had the dumb luck actually to exist We are all the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb who is the Light of a world made new in his death and resurrection.

I promised you that at the end of this long string I would give you something about the carnality of faith to the enjoyment of the Mystery of God’s Incarnation, of your restored relationship in the Marriage of God to creation. Here it is; read it slowly, because it will be over in just two short sentences:

You don’t have to work for the relationship because you’ve got it already. Just trust Jesus and open your eyes.

 

The Mystery of Christ, pgs. 62-67

 

Are We In Danger of Another Dust Bowl?

 

In reference to the linked article about a return to the Dust Bowl days…

 

The Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) MAIN intention was to take crop land out of production so as to decrease grain production and thus raise commodity prices.  It made sense to sell the program as a two-fer.  The land set-aside contracts were for 10 yrs, which, imo was much better than the old Soviet Union “5-year plans”.  And, a 10 yr contract will likely straddle the terms of a POTUS and not lock farmers too solidly into something where they were totally inflexible to significant market changes.

 

The CRP begin in 1985, at the end of Ronnie’s first term and the height of the “Farm Crisis”.  The origins of the Farm Crisis date to TrickyDick’s second term where negotiations opened up the Soviet Union as a large market for our grains, especially wheat.  USDA economist told farmers that it would be impossible to produce enough grain for the new market (China had also opened as a market for US commodities) and prices were only going up.  Midwest farmers bulldozed out tree wind-breaks that often had been planted in the 30’s-40’s.  Corn, beans, and wheat were planted “fence-row to fence-row”.  Cropland prices were bid out the roof.  Everyone borrowed money based on the inflated value of their cropland.

 

The bubble began to rapidly deflate when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979.  Jimmy Carter’s response to the invasion (the Soviets intention was to prop up their proxy president) was to slap on a US grain embargo.  As a result the farming economy dropped through the floor.  Over the next 5-6 years farm foreclosures were about the only thing happening.  Things were terrible, especially in the Midwest.  Suicides were common in farming communities.

 

This was a period of major farm industry restructuring, or, I should say, the beginning of it.  The ripples also affected the meat-packing and farm equipment sectors, and, combined with the effects of Reaganomics we were into a major deflationary cycle.  Unions lost clout and members.  Prior to ’79 a “typical” worker on the kill line was in the $18-22/hr. range, and they were all members of the Union.  From ’79 on meat packing companies lowered their cost by busting the Unions–mostly by going bankrupt and reorganizing.  Those $20/hr jobs were now available for $7-9/hr.  Folks could no longer make it on one job and one income earner.  It was the new normal in the Midwest that many people worked two jobs—and it wasn’t unusual to hold down three.  The Farm Crisis affected more than just the crop and livestock producers; a receding tide lowers all boats.

 

The Farm Crisis is the origin of the meth epidemic.

 

“WHAAAT??!!”

 

Yep.  Go back and read my last longish paragraph—especially this sentence;

 

“It was the new normal in the Midwest that many people worked two jobs—and it wasn’t unusual to hold down three.”

 

If you have to do that kind of schedule week in and week out you’re gonna need some of “momma’s little helper”, so to speak.  Meth is cheap and easily produced from stuff you (used to be able to) buy at WalMart.

 

I began serious pig production in 1979.  It was tough, but grain prices were low—and so were pig prices.  ’80-81 were 0 profit years.  ’82 was a GREAT profit year; paid lots of SEP tax.  1983 saw a major drought throughout all of the Midwest.  ’83 took back all—and then some—that ’82 had given.  The turning point in the pork industry was October of 1985 when the USDA Hogs and Pig Report showed a major drop in sow numbers.  From ’86-95 I made a lot of money.  The pig producer was in the driver’s seat because grain was cheap and pig numbers stayed relatively low.  During that period a lot of crop acreage went into CRP, which was a sure way to have crop acreage income.

 

During that period of the Farm Crisis Midwest corn producers were looking for ways to get stored grain moved out of bins.  The “alcohol mandate” resulted and ethanol plants began to spring up.  By 2006 approx. 40% of the corn crop was being turned into fuel ethanol—IOW, corn was now being priced on the world oil market.  In October 2007 the last of our sows rode the truck off our farm and became sausage and pizza toppings.  The pork industry in the years since has restructured in such a way that it resembles more the poultry industry.  3-4 companies in the US control well over 90% of poultry production and processing.  At this point in the pork industry I figure you could have a meeting in a 500 sq. ft. room that would comfortably seat the folks that control >90% of the pork production.

 

 

“Our Father,
Who art exceptionally in America,
Hallowed be Thy name over Thy teachings,
Thy kingdom has come in the American dream,
Thy will—the American way—be done,
In all the earth as it is in America.

Give us the rich our daily oil (but not food to any we deem undeserving),
And forgive us our national debts,
but do not forgive our debtors and college students,
And lead us not into repentance,
but deliver us from foreigners and nations who keep trying to take away our freedom and prosperity,
For our nation is Thy kingdom,
And our firepower is Thy power,
Our glory is Thy glory
Forever, Amen.”

 

Ramone Romero

 

Christianity overcame pagan Rome by nonviolence.

But when Christianity became the religion of the Empire, then the stoic and political virtues of the Empire began to supplant the original theological virtues of the first Christians. The heroism of the soldier supplanted the heroism of the martyr—though there was still a consecrated minority, the monks, who kept the ideal of charity and martyrdom in first place.

The ideal of self-sacrifice was never altogether set aside—on the contrary! But it was transferred to a new sphere. Now the supreme sacrifice was to die fighting under the Christian emperor. The supreme self-immolation was to fall in battle under the standard of the Cross. In the twelfth century even monks took up the sword, and consummated their sacrifice of obedience by dying in battle against infidels, against heretics.

Unfortunately, they also fought other monks, and this was not necessarily regarded as virtue. But it does show what comes of living by the sword!

Christian chivalry was the fruit of a union between Chris­tian faith and Roman, Frankish, or Germanic valor. In other words, Christians did here what they also did elsewhere: they adopted certain non-Christian values and “baptized” them, consecrating them to God. Christianity might just as well have turned to the East and “baptized” the nonmilitant, contemplative, detached, and hieratic institutions of the Ori­ent. But by the time Christianity was ready to meet Asia and the New World, the Cross and the sword were so identified with one another that the sword itself was a cross. It was the only kind of cross some conquistadores understood.

There was no further thought of Christianizing the ideals and institutions of these ancient civilizations: only of destroy­ing them, and bringing their people into subjection to the militant Christianity of Europe. Hence the strange paradox that certain spiritual and largely nonviolent ideologies which were in fact quite close to the Gospel were attacked and coerced in the name of Christ by the Christian soldier who was often no longer a Christian except in name: for he was violent, greedy, self-complacent, and supremely contemptu­ous of anything that was not a perfect reflection of himself.

 

(From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton, pg. 101, 1966, Doubleday)

It’s funny that most Americans think there is a single vein of socialism and think that only Nazis were socialist. They don’t realize they benefit from socialism on a daily basis. Dailykos breaks it down well just how socialist America is. Have a look:

Well I hate to be the one to tell you, but Socialism, which you have been told to fear all your life, is responsible for all this…

1. The Military/Defense – The United States military is the largest and most funded socialist program in the world. It operates thanks to our taxpayer dollars and protects the country as a whole. From the richest citizens to the homeless who sleep under the bridge. We are all protected by our military whether we pay taxes or not. This is complete socialism.

2. Highways/Roads – Those roads and highways you drive on every single day are completely taxpayer funded. Your tax dollars are used to maintain, expand, and preserve our highways and roads for every one’s use. President Eisenhower was inspired by Germany’s autobahn and implemented the idea right here in America. That’s right, a republican president created our taxpayer funded, national highway system. This was a different time, before the republican party came down with a vicious case of rabies that never went away.

3. Public Libraries – Yes. That place where you go to check out books from conservative authors telling you how horrible socialism is, is in fact socialism. Libraries are taxpayer funded. You pay a few bucks to get a library card and you can read books for free for the rest of your life.

4. Police – Ever had a situation where you had to call the police? Then you have used a taxpayer funded socialist program. Anyone can call the police whether they pay taxes or not. They are there to protect and serve the community, not individuals. This is complete socialism on a state level, but still socialism all the same. Would you rather have to swipe your credit card before the police will help you?

5. Fire Dept. – Hopefully you have never had a fire in your home. But if you have, you probably called your local taxpayer-funded fire department to put the fire out. Like police, this is state socialism. You tax dollars are used to rescue your entire community in case of a fire. It use to be set up where you would pay a fee every month to the fire dept. for their service. If you didn’t pay, they let your house burn down. Sadly, a man from Tennessee had this exact situation happen to him in 2011 because he didn’t pay his $75.00 fee. I guess that small town in Tennessee would rather let people’s houses burn down that resort to evil socialism. So don’t take for granted the fact that you have a 24/7 fire dept. to put out your burning home thanks to socialism.

6. Postal Service – Like having mail delivered directly to your front door and paying next to nothing to send mail anywhere you want? Well it’s all made possible by socialism.

7. Student Loans and Grants – Did you go to College? If you did, you family might not have been rich enough to pay your way through. So you got your education anyway through student loans and grants from the federal government at taxpayer expense. Of course you have to pay back the loans, but if not the government, did you know anyone else who was going to lend you tens of thousands of dollars? Probably not. So the taxpayers lent you the money and you paid it back with slight interest. The government grants you accepted were gifts from the taxpayer and the federal government that you did not have to pay back. Socialism got you through school.

8. Bridges – Along with our highways, our government used your taxpayer dollars to build bridges. This allows the public to travel across rivers without having to sail or swim.

9. Garbage Collection – Like having your garbage collected once a week instead of having to drive it to the landfill yourself? Thank socialism.

10. Public Landfills – Taxpayer dollars are used to have places to dump all of our garbage that is collected by taxpayer funded garbage men.

11. War – That’s right! War would not be possible without socialism. Your tax dollars are used to fight wars for your country. This is Big Government at it’s biggest. Private companies don’t attack other countries, at least not yet. Government is the only entity in America that can defend us from foreign enemies and our tax dollars are used for every second of it. Socialism has brought down Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Bin Laden. War may very well be the most socialist thing on this list.

12. Farm Subsidies – Our government uses taxpayer funds to pay farmers and businesses to provide their income and keep them growing food for the public.

13. CIA – The Central Intelligence Agency is vital to America’s security. The CIA is completely taxpayer funded to protect the public from enemies.

14. FBI – The Federal bureau of investigations is a taxpayer funded government agency.

15. Congressional Health Care – As Republicans in congress warn us of the evils of government-run health care, most of them are covered by taxpayer-funded government-run health care. You literally pay for their health care while they tell you that paying for your neighbors health care through a public option or single-payer system is socialism. They are 100% correct, it is socialism. They’re just not telling you that they like their socialist health care, they just don’t think you should have it. They are afraid you might like it better than the private insurance you have now that funds their campaigns and gives them money to push what is best for them and not for you. Members of congress are free to opt out of their evil government health care, but most of them don’t because deep down, they like socialism too.

16. Polio Vaccine – In the 1950’s polio ravaged the United States. Until Dr. Jonas Salk invented a cure, finally ridding America of this terrible disease. Dr. Salk could have sold his vaccine in the free market and made millions and millions of dollars. Instead he gave it to the federal government to begin eradicating polio. He said that he made plenty of money as a scientist and felt it was too important to try and profit from or create a business around.

17. EPA – Republicans hate this taxpayer-funded government program because they have the nerve to tell corporations that they may have to follow environmental rules ad regulations for the greater good of the earth and the people who live on it. But if you don’t like breathing mercury, drinking dirty water, and breathing in chemicals, you should like this example of socialism working for the people.

18. Social Security – You pay a tax to help ensure that our grandparents and senior citizens of America have money to live off of when they are retired or too elderly to work. I love hearing rich people bitch about this one because the truth is that they do not pay a social security tax, like most payroll taxes. This little piece of socialism helps prevent our senior citizens from sinking into poverty and starving to death.

19. Museums – Many museums are privately owned by organizations and groups, but many are also taxpayer-funded state, national, and federal museums.

20. Public Schools – Can’t afford to send your children to an expensive private school? Thanks to socialism and government, you child can still get an education. Public education has been under attack for decades in this country by the radical right because public schools don’t teach Christianity to your children and it enables people like Barack Obama to work hard, gain scholarships, and eventually become President of the United States.

21. Jail/Prison System – Many murders and criminals are behind bars right now and not out on the streets because of our taxpayer-funded, federal and state run jails and prisons. Taxpayer money is collected and used to help protect all of society from murders, molesters, rapist, etc. I know there’s a lot of disagreement and controversy about how to handle our prison system, but I think we can all agree that serial killers should not be freed into society. There are also many private prisons in the United States. However, they have a higher escape rate than their socialist counterpart. Besides, don’t you see the bad incentives in having a private prison system that profits from having people in prison? Since a business’s top goal is to make more money than the year before, the only feasible agenda would be to get everyone in prison.

22. Corporate/Business Subsidies – This is the type of socialism that is acceptable in the Republican party. You tax dollars are given to big corporations to do things they should be doing anyway out of morals and ethics. Like not sending jobs overseas and hiring people. Wouldn’t you like a nice big check just for not breaking the law? To be fair though, many businesses do earn their subsidies by advancing green technology and practice, donating to charity, helping communities, etc. They aren’t all bad. People just get mad when big billionaire oil companies get billions of their taxpayer dollars while they’re paying $4 at the pump. For the corporations that don’t earn their subsidies other than donating to their very own political party, it’s merely welfare. Though however you look at it, it is socialism.

23. Veteran’s (VA) Health Care – Our soldiers bravely go to foreign countries and risk their lives at the request of their government and the American people. For those who survive, we as a country feel committed and obligated to ensure that they have everything they need for the rest of their lives for their service to us in which we could never fully repay. So we the taxpayers fund their health care in a government-run single-payer system for veterans. Many soldiers return with mental and/or physical health issues that would cost them thousands in a private health care plan. Socialism funds the military, the overall war, and also takes care of our troops when they return home.

24. Public Parks – Like going to the park on a sunny day? Just being able to walk right in, or at the worse pay a small fee? This is once again the work of socialism. If it were private, it wouldn’t be a park, it would be someones back yard. That small or non-existent fee will turn into a $15 fee faster than you can say “No Trespassing”.

25. All Elected Government Officials – From the Supreme Court, to the President of the United States and all the way down to the County Dog Catcher, taxpayers pay their salary and provide the funding for them to do their job. We pay for every aspect of their job. So in a sense, I guess you could say our whole country is run on socialism.

26. Food Stamps – Republicans fill with bitter contempt knowing that our government at the expense of the taxpayer is giving poor people money to buy food they couldn’t otherwise afford. This, like welfare, is what the right thinks socialism is all about, along with mass murder. However, just like corporate welfare, welfare is socialism. I’ll just end this one with a quick story. I have been down and out in periods of my life and sought assistance via food stamps. Even though I was what anyone would consider poor, I was not poor enough to get food stamps. Which means people who do get them, must really, really need them. As far as my personal experience, they weren’t thrown around like candy the way the right would have you believe.

27. Sewer System – Do you like having a sewer system to remove waste and prevent pollution and disease from seeping into our environment? Thank the taxpayers of America and the socialist system it operates in.

28. Medicare – Medicare is one of the most liked socialist programs in America. Most of us don’t mind paying taxes to provide our senior citizens with health care and hope the next generation will do the same for us. If you don’t believe me, just look at almost any poll. Most seniors would not be able to afford private health care. So this form of socialism is a life saver for this nation’s grandparents and senior citizens.

29. Court System – Whether it’s the murder trial of the century or a case in a small claims court, the taxpayers of America fully fund our courts and legal process. You may pay for your own lawyer, but the courtroom, judge, and jury is paid for through socialist means.

30. Bird Flu Vaccine – You don’t have bird flu right now and probably aren’t worried about it because our federal government used taxpayer funds to pump vaccines all over America.

31. G.I. Bill – The G.I. bill allows veterans to pursue an education by using taxpayer dollars to help them pay for most of their schooling. It also helps them with loans, savings, and unemployment benefits.

32. Hoover Dam – Remember when our country use to build things? Our government built the Hoover Dam using taxpayer funds. It is now a vital source of power for the west coast.

33. State/City Zoos – American families have been going to the zoo for generations. A place where kids and adults can have fun seeing creatures and animals from all over the world and learn at the same time. Many zoos are ran by the state and/or city, using taxpayer funds to operate and even bring the animals to the zoo.

34. IRS – I know, the IRS is about as popular and well liked in America as a hemorrhoid, but think about it. The IRS is the reason that we have anything. The IRS collects taxpayer funds for the federal government. The government then dispenses these funds to our military, states, and social programs. If there is no one collecting taxes, no one will pay them. If no one pays taxes, our country shuts down. Without money to operate, nothing operates. This may sound like a good thing to some radical republicans, but for those of us with sense, we know this means anarchy in the USA. The IRS gets a bad rap because if you don’t pay your taxes or owe them money, they can be ruthless. Like everything else, the IRS is not perfect, but without them we literally have no country or no means to run it.

35. Free Lunch Program – Some children are living in poverty by no fault of their own. I’m not saying it is even their parents fault, but you surely cannot blame a child for the situation they are born into. In most if not all states, there are programs where children who live in poor households can receive school lunch for free. The taxpayers of the state pay for this. Sounds like socialism to me, and also the moral and Christian thing to do.

36. The Pentagon – Our defense system in America is a socialist system from top to bottom. We as taxpayers fund the pentagon completely.

37. Medicaid – Our government uses taxpayer funds to provide health care for low-income people. Republicans, the compassionate Christians that they are, absolutely hate this program. What they fail to understand is that when people can’t afford to pay their outrageous medical bills, they don’t. This bill does not disappear. The loss that the insurance company, doctor’s office, or hospital takes gets passed down to everyone else. So covering people and giving them a low-income option reduces costs for them and everyone else. This is the main argument behind a health care mandate. It’s not to force you to buy health care out of cruelty. If everyone is covered, costs drop for everyone. If you have no compassion for the uninsured, you can at least understand the rational in a selfish sense.

38. FDA – The Food and Drug Administration is far from perfect. It is infested with corporate corruption and they have been wrong many, many times. Countless times they have approved things that they later have to apologize for and have banned things that would have helped people. However, they have also stopped many harmful foods and products from being sold to the public and protect us everyday from poisons being disguised as products. While not perfect, they are needed to prevent harmful food and drugs from being sold to you and you family. Without them, corporations can send whatever they want to your supermarkets and drug stores without any testing or evaluation. I don’t mind my taxes going towards a middle man to inspect the safety of the products we are being sold everyday.

39. Health Care for 9/11 Rescue Workers – After beating back GOP obstruction, Democrats finally passed a bill last year to allow government to help 9/11 rescue worker’s with their health care after many came down with horrible lung diseases from the toxins they breathed in rescuing people from smoldering buildings. These brave citizens risked their lives and health to help complete strangers. They deserve more, but covering their health care is a good start.

40. Swine Flu Vaccine – Do you have swine flu right now? Then thank government and the socialist structure.

41. Disability Insurance (SSDI) – For those who are disabled and cannot work, our government provides an income for them via taxpayer dollars as opposed to the other option of letting them starve to death.

42. Town/State Run Beaches – Like going to the beach? Like it when the beach is clean and safe? Like having lifeguards on staff in case of an emergency? Then once again, thank the taxpayers and the socialist structure that makes it all possible.

43. Corporate Bailouts/Welfare – The whole point of this post is to prove that we ALL use, benefit from, and like socialism. This example is a form of socialism that the republicans not only like, but fight tooth and nail for. They don’t like it when socialism is used for working/poor people, but when it’s for millionaires and their corporate donors, socialism becomes as American as apple pie. The middle/working class who are the majority of taxpayers pay for welfare for corporations and people who have more money than all of us combined. When our government bails out a bank or gives a subsidy to a billion dollar corporation, you are paying for it.

44. State Construction – Ever see those construction workers in your town fixing potholes, erecting buildings, repaving highways and roads, and fixing things all over town? They themselves and the work they do is taxpayer-funded state socialism.

45. Unemployment Insurance – All your working life, you pay payroll taxes. Some of these taxes go toward a program that temporarily provides for people who lost their jobs until they can find another one. You pay for others, others pay for you. Especially these days, you never know when you might lose your job. You may need temporary assistance until you get back on your feet. The government recognizes this. UI also keeps the economy moving in times of recession because people still have some money in their pockets to buy goods and promote demand.

46. City/Metro Buses – If you lack transportation, you can catch a city bus. Taxpayer funds and the fee you pay to take the bus make it possible for millions of people to go to work.

47. WIC – WIC is a federally funded program to assist women, infants, and children. WIC helps low-income families by providing funding for nutrition, education, and health care for children.

48. State Snow Removal – Even though sometimes it may take them longer than you like to get to your street, do you like having snow plow service to clear our roads and highways in the winter? This is a state socialist taxpayer-funded service.

49. PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) – PBS operates on donations and government funding. The provide non-partisan news and information to the public. They are the home of Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theater, and The Antiques Roadshow. Surveys show that they are literally the most trusted name in news. I wonder how Fox feels about that?

50. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – The CDC helps promote and enact the health and safety of the public along with helping to prevent and control illness and disease. The CDC is a government program that operates on taxpayer funding.

51. Welfare – Is there anything the republicans hate more? Of course I’m talking about the welfare that goes to poor people. Corporate welfare is not only accepted in the republican Kabul, but it’s mandatory that we give our tax dollars to billionaires and not question the logic of it. Though if you look at it realistically and not through the red scare glasses in which the right sees the world, welfare helps the economy. As I’ve said many times, when poor people have money in their pocket, they buy things made and sold by companies. This creates a demand. To keep up with demand, businesses must hire to keep up. If you yanked everyone who is on welfare off of it tomorrow, the economy would take a blow and lose jobs due to the down tick in consumer demand because we just took what little money they had away.

52. Public Street Lighting – Like being able to see at night when you walk or drive? Thank Socialism.

53. FEMA – If Disaster strikes, FEMA is there to help pick up the pieces. As a part of homeland security and an agency of the federal government, they use taxpayer dollars to help cities, states, and towns recover and rebuild. I don’t know to many private companies that could assist in disaster relief and ask nothing in return. Thank God for socialism.

54. Public Defenders – Ever been in trouble and couldn’t afford a lawyer? Well the taxpayers and the government make sure you still get representation.

55. S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) – S-CHIP is a program that matches funds to states for health insurance for children in families that cannot afford insurance but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Your tax dollars go towards covering uninsured children, is that so wrong?

56. Amtrak – Amtrak transports tens of millions of passengers a year in 46 states and three Canadian Providences. It is owned by the federal government and your tax dollars are used to fund it. All aboard!!

57. NPR – National Public Radio operates on private and federal funding along with public donations. NPR has been one of the most trusted news sources in America for over 40 years.

58. The Department of Homeland Security – Created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, this heavily federally funded department of the U.S. government helps protect us from future terrorist attacks. This is the third largest department within the United States government.

59. OSHA – Do you have a safe and healthy workplace that provides training, outreach, education, and assistance? Thank OSHA! Brought to you by the taxpayers of America and socialism.

60. State and National Monuments – The Lincoln Memorial. Mount Rushmore. The D.C. National Mall. All brought to you and maintained with your tax dollars. Socialism is patriotic?

61. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – The USDA enforces regulations on the farming, agriculture, and food industries to ensure food safety, natural resources, and hunger worldwide and in the United States. Your tax dollars are used to help keep what you are eating safe and even feed those who are not eating.

62. Government Scholarships – if you work hard in school and show true potential, our government will give you a scholarship towards college so you can advance your education. Your tax dollars have been used to send future doctors, lawyers, scientists, and even presidents of the United States to college.

63. Department of Health and Human Service – The overall goal of HHS is to promote, implement, and ensure the health of the American people. Your tax dollars are used to do this. Government looking out for the well being of it’s people, imagine that!

64. Census Bureau – Every ten years, our government collects data about our people and economy, to better serve and represent us. From the forms that are sent to your home for you to fill out and send back in and to the census worker who shows up and kindly asks you to fill out the form if you don’t send it in, all taxpayer funded socialism. The information collected is used to better understand the economic situation and population in your area. Not to enslave you in a FEMA camp.

65. Department of Energy – This taxpayer funded cabinet of the federal government oversees nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, energy conservation, radioactive waste disposal, and energy production. To those of you who care about our environment and would rather not witness a nuclear holocaust might consider this money well spent.

66. Customs and Border Protection – the CBP is the largest law enforcement agency in America. This is big government that republicans actually do like because they don’t like Mexicans immigrating to our country like our ancestors did. However, this taxpayer funded, socialist agency of the federal government regulates trade, imports, and immigration.

67. Department of Education – This cabinet of the federal government is actually the smallest. They administer and oversee federal assistance to education. They also collect data and enforce federal laws and regulations involving education. Even though the right thinks that this department is indoctrinating your children, they actually have no control over curriculum or standards.

68. Secret Service – Your tax dollars are used to provide highly-trained, skilled professional bodyguards to protect the President of the United States.

69. Peace Corps – The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the government that helps people outside of the US to understand our culture as well as helping us learn about other cultures. However they are more well known for their work with economic and social development in less-fortunate countries. Sounds very Christian for being a socialist program, huh?

70. Department of Justice – The DOJ is responsible for enforcing the law. Socialism keeps our civilization intact.

71. National Weather Service – Like knowing when a storm, tornado, earthquake, or snow is coming? Socialism makes this possible and available to everyone.

72. The White House – Our taxpayer dollars through a socialist means pays for the house that the president and his family live in during a presidents time in office.

73. Government – Like it or not, our country would not be a country without a government. Every single day, government on state and local levels serve us in ways we simply take for granted. Government as an entity operates and functions on our tax dollars through a socialist structured funding system. From the military down to the county dog catcher, socialism turns the wheels that make our society function.

74. Law – Laws and rules make our democracy possible. Remove these laws and you have sheer anarchy. Laws do not appear out of thin air. To have law, you need a government. You need elected lawmakers to make the laws and a government to implement and enforce them. Socialism is responsible for every law in this country. Without our government and lawmakers which exist thanks to socialism, there would be no laws. So the laws themselves, are enforced and implemented thanks to socialism.

75. Civilization – As an American citizen, you enjoy freedoms that many in other countries do not. Like anything else in this world, our government is not perfect, but you should be thankful everyday that your country has a government that feels an obligation to serve the people and protect their rights and freedoms. This is completely possible because of government, taxes, and socialism. Do you think the private sector would do a better job of governing our country? Do you think corporations would enact laws to help protect and serve you and your family or them and their profits? The reason you can read this blog and the reason I can write it whether you agree with it or not is because of the freedoms we have here in America enforced and protected through socialist means. Our entire civilization depends on us being a people united. Socialism is a glue that binds us together and makes possible the things that we could not accomplish as individuals working against each other.