Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your Core Essence & Your Value System - Keys to Becoming an Extraordinary Leader

I believe the primary characteristic of a great leader is core essence. A leader must understand that there is a power greater than oneself and that their life purpose is more about others than themselves -- their CORE ESSENCE - the fundamental reason for being here. Your CORE ESSENCE is the key element which drives you in doing what you do best. Many have gone on personal journeys to discover why they are here? We've all heard of people "trying to find oneself", in actuality they are searching for their purpose for being here on earth. It's a journey we all should go on.
Why are you here? What are you here to accomplish? What legacies are you designed to leave "ahead" for the next generation? What is your personal purpose statement?
For most, a personal purpose statement is very difficult to complete. First of all, many have not taken the time to write a purpose statement. We're too busy with everything else. It is not an easy exercise to do and can take months to complete. Here are a series of questions, if answered will assist you in identifying your purpose statement, your reason for being here on earth.
Start out by asking your Creator what He had planned for you and your business when He thought about you. Sit down with your journal and write the top 10 items that truly bring you joy. Then write the top ten items in which you are most proud of accomplishing. However, do not list your spouse or your children...that's a given. If you could do anything in the world without having to worry about time or finances, what would you do? Continue to allow your mind to wander by asking yourself and your Creator, what were you created to do? After going through these exercises, complete the following statement: I was created to: _____. That statement is the first draft of your personal mission statement - your purpose statement.
Now, match your purpose statement to your value system. Are they aligned? Since every decision and every action you take is based on your code of values, they will need to be closely aligned? In other words, if you have to go against your value system to accomplish your life's purpose then you are creating internal conflict and will not find fulfillment in your life's journey. Your values will determine how you will accomplish your life's purpose. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, values are defined as:
1. Social. The ideas, customs, institutions of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom or education or negative as cruelty, crime or blasphemy.
2. Ethics. Any object or quality desirable as a means or as an end to itself.
As Extraordinary leaders we understand that our core values are based on our belief system. Belief systems defined by our family, our religion, our upbringing, our culture and even our communities. So what makes us different? I believe we understand that we also must answer to a higher authority- your Creator. With that fundamental belief we are more inclined to order our steps and actions in ways which are pleasing to your Creator. For example, loving your neighbor (co-worker) as you love yourself prevents you from talking badly or gossiping about your co-worker.
Many of the values we hold true to in the United States are based on a group of men's belief system and their religion. Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States? What do you see as the fundamental element in the value system of the United States? If you are from another country, what is the fundamental element of your country's value system? Now what about you? What is the foundation of your value system? Where do your personal and/or family values stem from? I challenge you to dig deep by identifying the top ten values you live by on a day to day basis.
As Extraordinary business leaders, we must understand that values are the way we do business. Ken Blanchard, co-author of "Managing by Values" believes that values are an extraordinary powerful force in shaping organizations. Richard Osborne calls it the soul of a corporation. Graydon Wood, vice president of ethics and business conduct at NYNEX states that "ethics and core values are the fundamental elements to an organization's reputation in the marketplace". He goes on to imply that the company's reputation, the trust people have in your business is directly translatable into market share and therefore into corporate success."
Values which are most admired in leaders include: honesty, integrity, forward-looking, ability to inspire and competence. When thinking of honesty and integrity, one thinks of ethics. Today, many business leaders use the term business ethics. Should there be such a term? What does this term imply for you and your organization? Does it mean that within business you are allowed to "stretch the truth" however in your own ethical system you would call this an untruth? Forward looking means being able to be more strategic or being a visionary. Setting a vision for your company and your team is paramount to leading then to a higher level of excellence. Your ability to motivate and inspire your team members will also cause them to become more creative in accomplishing the company vision. Finally, competence is simply knowing what you do and sharing what you know.

The Child in Religious Fundamentalism

In this day and age when many of us unwillingly are being drawn into a struggle between good and evil in a manufactured clash of civilizations, it is time to ask ourselves; how could this happen? How could a minority of fundamentalist hijack the future for all of us?
Polls show that 31 percent of Americans believe in an authoritarian God that is angry at sin and punishes the unfaithful or ungodly. Believing in an authoritarian God and that we are responsible for our actions, is in itself not fundamentalism. However, when we add this number to the 36 percent of Americans who believe that the Bible is the word of God and to be taken literally, and the 46 percent who believe that it is important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians, a troubling picture begin to emerge. This pattern gets even more troublesome when we find that the same amount of people who believe in an angry God, 31 percent, also believe that violent conflict with the Arab world is inevitable.
Now, these patterns of belief would not be dangerous where they kept within the churches and not mixed with the foreign politics of a superpower. But in the 2004 presidential election, 79 percent of 26 million Evangelical Christians voted to re-elect George W. Bush, and polls show that 71 percent of these devoted believers supported the war in Iraq. Whether Bush himself actually believes in his "crusade" or Carl Rove put him up to it for strategic reasons, does really not matter. What matters is how could so many believers in a loving and compassionate Jesus vote for the horrors in Iraq that we see every day on TV? How could Jesus want this kind of suffering?
Part of the answer can be explained in one word: Fundamentalism. But how does a believer in a loving God fall asleep in Christ? To answer that we will need to look deeper into the roots of fundamentalism. The Bible does state that Jesus is "the way and the truth" (John 14:6), but what exactly is the way and the truth? If we look at the original Greek meaning of "truth" we find that "aletheia" means "reality" as that which is true and real. The true nature of reality exists in itself and by itself, independently of any claim of ownership, and the truth cannot be framed only pointed towards. While the understanding of truth does lead to the understanding of reality, and even though Jesus might have been a great transmitter of truth, John cannot issue a patent for Jesus.
To the ancient Greeks who created the invaluable foundations of our western civilization, the opposite of true was not false, but unreal as mere appearance. The Greek mind would not condemn the opposite of truth but lead the unreal out of ignorance through a kind and compassionate Socratic questioning that would lead into a deeper understanding of reality. It is first later, in an Imperialistic Latin mind that ignorance is rejected aggressively by its opposite of "falsum" as false. Similarly, we also find that the Greek meaning of "sin" meant to "miss the target" of truth and to "go wrong" as in turning consciousness away from truth by having false consciousness. In an ancient Greek understanding the fall of man was not done with enlightened "evil" intent, but caused through "error of judgment" due to ignorance.
When we today look at the Iraq war with its amount of error of judgment (WMD, etc.), it clearly seems like it is Christians who are the "sinners" by being the cause of all the destruction and chaos. Of course, with 59 percent believing in the End Times there is enough fear within Christianity to make the 0.8 percent of Muslims who are actually extremists look like 100 percent and thereby paint a doomsday scenario designed to pull more moderates on both sides over the edge. But Christian fundamentalists also uphold their justification through so-called true Christian values that transforms Jesus into a coldhearted killer. Christian leaders make God pro-war through the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus: "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." While this line in Matthew 10:34 taken out of context does give a different picture of the intentions of Jesus, he is here not talking about war but about the truth being a sword that will divide families apart. For Christians that wish to look deeper than the skin, this interpretation is confirmed by Luke in 12:51 where the word "division" is used instead of "sword."
Still we have not unearthed what makes the fundamentalist say: My way is the only way. While the Catholic Church officially renounced its "no salvation outside the Church" in 1953, this position has during our modern crusade seen its fall back. After first calling Islam a violent religion of the sword, Pope Benedict XVI told the ancestors of the millions of South American Indians killed by the exported mind of "purification" from the Inquisition that they where secretly longing for Jesus. Then in July of 2007, the Pope cemented his new course that he had been plotting by saying that "Christ established only one church," and that other communities, even Christian, were not true churches because they did not have apostolic succession. With the time of kings and dictators being a thing of the past in the western world, it seems an ill fated strategy to re-unite the Church and get westerners living in democracies to fall back into ranks by recognizing the primacy of the pope out of fear of not having the "means of salvation."
This form of "sin," which in religious terminology would amount to blasphemy, has roots in the understanding that Jesus was the only son of God and that this literally makes Christ God. In the early years of the Church, Christians where seen as fanatic and dangerous fundamentalists. Having many Gods and the religious freedom to choose to believe in any God, the Christian "my way is the only way" posed a challenge: How does an open system of religious freedom incorporate a fundamental view that rejects all other views? While Christians where first prosecuted, they, like today, entered government through the Roman emperor Constantine, whereby Christianity were later made the official state religion. However, the debate on whether Christ was God or man would go on for more than one thousand years, and as we can see today it is still alive and well.

Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Miracle

Have you seen any miracles lately? Or maybe experienced one or two of your own? Do you even believe in miracles these days? Regardless of how you define one, when you start looking for miracles, you'll find life is filled with them. Even better, when you understand the nature of miracles and how they come about, you can create your own at will.
Miracle-making is a highly underrated activity, as many assume it's left in the hands of a higher power and not within our personal purview to create magic. Although there are books on the subject and plenty of folks practicing it already, most of us weren't taught to believe we can create whatever we want.
In fact, we're usually taught the opposite: that it takes hard work and perseverance to get by. Anyone believing in wishes, fairy tale endings, or spending time daydreaming is admonished to be realistic and not get their hopes up. We're trained to deny our wants and desires to avoid disappointment in a harsh and unfair life.
Nothing could be further from the truth, it turns out. We can create miracles. We can create whatever we want in our lives. All it takes is believing it and daring to want whatever we want.
What Makes a Miracle? 
What would constitute a miracle in your life? Some of us use the term loosely, but that doesn't deny the wonder and marvel we feel when the swim suit looks as good on us as it did in the catalogue, or we discover the job of our dreams we didn't know existed, or the vet tells us there's an effective affordable treatment for our ailing dog.

I suspect it's partly because we're so used to bad news that when things do go our way, it feels extraordinary or magical. The more we think something is unlikely or impossible to happen, the more miraculous it feels when it does.
Webster defines a miracle as an "extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." On his ABC Radio National show "Encounter," David Rutledge questioned whether miracles really even occur, since all miracles could be "explained rationally if our rational apprehension was up to the task." He paraphrased St. Augustine in saying when something extraordinary can be explained rationally, it's no longer miraculous.
Indeed. It sounded miraculous to me when researchers recently announced they successfully made a copper cylinder appear to disappear. But after reading their explanation of how metamaterials guide electromagnetic waves around a central region so objects within the region don't disturb electromagnetic fields, thus creating invisibility, it seemed perfectly logical to make something disappear. What took so long to create that? After all, it's just metamaterials guiding electromagnetic waves around the object. What's next, walking on water?
But just because something can be explained logically doesn't make it any less miraculous. In fact, if anything, it brings us closer to believing in and allowing miracles into our daily lives. Why wait for the logical explanation before we believe in it? Let's embrace the miracles awaiting us now.
This brings up two important points regarding miracles and our ability to manifest them. 
When we're consciously aware of and grateful for the miracles present in life, we invite more in (because like attracts like and we get what we focus on). Second, when we believe miracles exist and that they can happen to us, we're aligned to experience them.

Our Personal Miracles 
What miracles do you take for granted? They are present everywhere, in each of our lives. As you begin to see them, you allow more to manifest. What miracle would you like to see happen next?

A woman who has always struggled in relationship feels like she's been gifted by the gods when Mr. Right appears. Someone who's fighting the weight battle feels like a superhero when he drops 20 pounds and keeps them off through the holidays. One of my favorite personal miracles was quitting my corporate job after five years of talking about it, throughout which I dreaded every work day and feared financial ruin to give up a steady paycheck. People around me, and myself for that matter, were incredulous when I actually did it. It felt like a miracle that I found the courage to create change.
Morris Goodman, dubbed the "Miracle Man," broke nearly every bone in his body (including his skull and spinal cord) when he crashed his plane. Although he wasn't expected to live, Morris not only survived, but recovered from a coma and proved doctors wrong after they said he would never walk, speak or function normally again. Today he's one of the most inspiring motivational speakers on circuit.
Morris' wife, Cathy, created her own miracle by reversing a breast cancer diagnosis simply by using laugh therapy. We often hear stories of people who use the power of their mind to eliminate tumors or survive severely terminal cancer diagnoses.
Regardless of what makes a miracle for someone else, what would yours be? What would amaze and astonish you, and make you believe that not only do marvelous things happen, but that they happen to you?
Once you get a handle on what you'd love to see happen in your life, you've taken the first step to experience it.

What Is On The Other Side Of The Stars?

Little did I know what my endless quest for truth and knowledge would lead me to. It is true what one Japanese Buddhist monk once said, "We must always be disturbed by the truth." Why is that I wonder? Well, looking from my own experience throughout my life, I would have to say it is because of the conditioned mind frame we are born into through different cultures, traditions, or religion in their diverse versions of "truth". Later when faced with a truth that has come only when one has aligned or attuned themselves to a point of further comprehension, truth can be very different than what one once believed was true. In my journey thus far, I have realized that truth seems to be like a puzzle of dimensions. In the expanding process of individual growth, the pieces seem to fit together and layer themselves into deeper and deeper levels.
So what then is truth and where does it begin? Is truth something that humanity creates for itself to run a conducive and obedient society by means of consequence and fear? I do believe in the law of cause and effect, don't get me wrong, but at what cost are we learning our lessons to become better individuals? What lessons are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them to be afraid, obey the laws, or else? Perhaps in the line of evolution such a practice has some value for the process of growth, but can we as humanity move beyond this? Is world peace yet a dream, or is it a deeper level to our existence? Why not teach our children that they are the magnificent creators of their lives? Why not show them the powerful and amazing beings they really are by allowing them to have experience without judgment? What world would we live in if we all took responsibility for the effects of our own actions without putting superiors above ourselves to judge and punish us when we have stepped outside of the boundaries of the established way that things are "said" to be done? Whose laws are these anyway? Are these the laws of men or God?" Perhaps this process is one of the many layers of truth, but what lies beneath? What if we allowed ourselves to realize the possibility that there is more?
What if there is one of you who would wish to reason with your own mind? Reason is the one thing which allows man to act as God unto himself with an inward conscious knowing. "Blasphemy!" you say. "What? Did you say we are not to look to God, but to our own selves for wisdom? How absurd!" you say. Yet what if in looking to ourselves, we are in fact looking to God?
I hear your voices, for they have been my own as well. Yet still I could not ignore the call of my inner voice, and the "reasoning" power of my mind to urge me to ask the question, "Is there more?" The ability to reason raises us above our automated reaction we often project from our emotions, which when deliberately applied, forces us to think before we act, therefore guiding ourselves in a conscious and deliberate way. Reason is the only aspect of man which separates our intelligence from the intelligence of an animal. Therefore God, it would seem has a "reasonable" nature, and we cutting ourselves off from our own reasoning capability, in turn are cutting ourselves off from God.
Perhaps you are one who wishes to step outside of these illusionary boundaries to experience the causes and effects of your life in a conscious and deliberate manner. What if you, taking your deliberate and courageous step forward, dare to think a different thought than you have ever thought before, expanding the possibilities and wonders of life? Do you think this is what would happen, or do you feel your being shrink back in fear? Can you consciously hear the voice that is chattering endlessly from a programmed perception as it immediately warns you to get back into the place where you belong? Is the fear that is bred from your ever protective ego so engrained that you obediently close off once again to a yet unknown flow of intelligence of which you are a part of?
Why is it that every time you attempt to think a new unpracticed thought of something different than you have ever known, that this voice of fear seems to always interfere? What does it have to hide from you? What is it afraid that you will find out? Perhaps the voice of fear is only your programmed ego who is afraid of the extinction of its existence within you once you have realized your true being of power. Yet it is not for us to banish our ego from our beings. Instead, we follow the universal law of inclusion by soothing our emotion with our reasoning mind, joining it one with us, thus creating our feeling of wholeness instead of separation. If you listen carefully, you will hear two voices, one voice emanates from fear, and one comes from a source we all inherently know but have yet to remember. Are you the person that follows along, or do you reason for yourself? Do you dare to challenge the voice of fear, or do you think it is the voice of God that warns you to stop thinking for yourself and go along as you have always been told in blind faith? Jesus said "What doth it profit a man say he hath faith, and not works? (James 2:14)
From personal experience I know that it was not an easy path to trust in my own guidance that came from within after the many years of structured and cultural conditioning from society and religion. Attempting to make a connection to that God for ones own self is seemingly admonished by our so called leaders, yet when one does so it is only accepted if it is done in the structured and said manner of the "Superior" belief system which appears to govern our actions and even our thoughts. When will our thoughts be our own again? What will it be like when we know our every thought is an actual thing being projected, beginning a creation? When will we know that we do not know everything about our world? What will it be like when we find out we are not the most evolved beings which have existed here upon the earth or that there are mysteries within our world that would rifle even the best science fiction story? When will our cynical beliefs we have thought of over and over again be opened up to allow more? Does not all expand? Even in our daily lives do we not see evidence that after time and time again with the same unwanted experience that we evolve into a greater knowledge and understanding from this actual personal experience?

Is Google Really Losing Its Power?

Google's main course of business evidently is Search. They were at the right time in the right place: they could take advantage of the initial growth of the Internet and after developing their groundbreaking Page Rank algorithm they secured themselves top place for over a decade.
What is happening now? Is Google really losing its power? Definitely not... officially. What is happening to the multi-billion dollar company today is that they are starting to face tough competition for the first time. The comfort of their oligopoly has finished and they have to advance fast in order not to be left behind.
Naturally, Search is not going to die, yet it is likely to change form. As is today widely known, 78% of people are much more likely to accept the opinions of users and peers then those of advertisers being paid to sell. And which peers would you trust the most - clearly your personal friends and family more then a random blog post that you happen to find on the Internet. This is the change that Google has to face nowadays.
For example, if you were to buy new sport shoes several years ago, you are likely to do a Google Search on "sports shoes", you might then pick up a few offers and they weight their benefits. Today, you would still search Google for that, but you will also Tweet, change your Facebook status to asking for advice on shoes and search YouTube for funny sports shoes videos. Thereof, you would get your information from a much wider variety or sources. This is where Google is struggling. It is not that the power of searches is decreasing, its that the importance of so many other things in increasing.
Today still the majority of the income that the search company generates is based on their services such as AdWords and AdSense. There is still the opportunity for Google to include Image (Google Images), location (Google Maps) and Video (Google TV and YouTube) advertising. Their best option for growth evidently is not international expansion - they are already the major player in most of the world, while significantly low in influence in China and Russia where they loose miserably to local competitors (Weintraub, Seth for Fortune). Thus, experts predict their future to be in increasing the types of servises that they offer and making them more personalized and social.
What Mr. Weintraub emphasizes is that "At Google, where every problem is waiting to be solved by some form of search query, that is tantamount to blasphemy." However, what is becoming increasingly important and influential is the technological ability to provide answers before the questions are being asked. Some applications developed for that would be Flipboard, Feedy, and many other personalized URL websites.
Google has provided a service like that at Google Reader, but the development of the idea should go much further. Fortune Magazine says: "In this new phase of the web, one of the largest threats to Google and its core search business is the growing Facebook footprint around the world. Not only because social networks (and those used for work like LinkedIn fall into that same category) offer a substitute for search for consumers, but also because they offer a substitute for advertisers as well. In display advertising, for example, Facebook has a 16% share of the roughly $9 billion market, according to comScore (Google sites have 2.4% of the market), and advertisers say they're looking for more ways to plug into Facebook."
Further, the social networks as such seem to be a rather closed environment for the Search giant. "Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are essentially "closed" platforms. They are growing chink in their armor The question is, What can they do about it?"
Thus, the next big thing that Google needs to focus on in terms of their core business of Search would be creating a platform to provide better quality search results personalized to the needs of the specific individual rather then a general Page Ranking list of potential websites of interest (optimized by professional marketers for the general target audience). Currently, Google calls that "implicit or passive search. It's the sort of thing that makes connections between, say, a friend who is an amateur expert on travel in Australia and your upcoming trip Down Under. A keyword search could not only flag hotels and tourist hot spots but also find blog posts, e-mails, messages, and even pose questions to your friend about where to go shopping or dining in Sydney -- without bothering the rest of your network. "Who you are, your context, what you are doing, who your friends are -- if all of that comes in as the search input," Google says, "what is the right output?" (The key word in her quote? "Friends.")

A World Without Good, Please!

I have a request for you, my sisters and brothers in the human family: Please, please, please stop revering good. It is a trap! It is the most powerful trap there is. If you want to be free to experience more joy, more peace, more harmony, and more authentic power than you ever knew possible, and you want that for all of humanity, then for Pete's sake (and yours), just let go of the notion of good! It is poison.
That may, indeed, sound like blasphemy to you, as you have been indoctrinated to revere good. You have been taught all your life to prefer good. You have been admonished to be good. You have been impassioned by your political and spiritual leaders to fight for good. You've been told if you don't take a stand for good, that evil will overcome the world! Even many of your contemporary spiritual teachers are cheering you on to "allow more good into your life."
But I simply must tell you that the idea of good is leading you down the primrose path to disempowerment and continued imprisonment in a world of pain and suffering.
Good is Not Real
"Good" is an opinion--a judgment. Good is nothing more than your ego-mind's assessment of something, based on its observations or programming. Good is not some sort of pronouncement by God--at least, not God, the Source. Good is purely manmade in origin. All the religious and political wars fought throughout human history, with all the lives lost and misery inflicted, have been fueled by someone's opinion of what is good, and what is good's counterpart: evil. One human being's idea of good is often another's idea of "evil." Good and evil are truly just ideas.
The concepts of "good" and "evil" are thoughtforms created by the limited aspect of the human mind, making determinations about things that it doesn't have a comprehensive-enough perception to be able to accurately make. Ironically, participating in judgment diminishes perception and wisdom, which ensures that human beings will never be proficient at judging. Actually, even God is not proficient at judging! Indeed, God, the Source, does not judge at all. While there are natural laws in place, and built-in consequences for violating them, there is no judgment involved--no opinion handed down from on high. In fact, the first natural law given to humanity is that of "no judgment." Why? Because the Creator knew that judging would lead to big, big trouble.
The Concepts of Good and Evil Are Born
Remember the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They were living in Paradise, in total bliss and Oneness--no good, no evil, just pure beingness--until the event that caused their exile from Paradise. What was that seminal event? They disobeyed Divine Guidance, listened to the serpent, and "ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." What is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? It is judgment. It is the practice of determining what is good and what is evil, and all the many permutations thereof.
When these archetypal first humans allowed themselves to be seduced into making this judgment, they activated duality, the creative matrix that supports forces in opposition. Duality is the flipside of Wholeness and harmony. What more primal forces in opposition are there than good and evil? At first, neither good nor evil had much power, because they were only concepts. But as the concepts were given energy by human beings continually making judgments to determine what was good and what was evil, they began to strengthen and the web of entrapment was spun. Today, good and evil have reached what would seem to be maximum polarity.
Talk about a consequence of violating a natural law! This violation has kept human beings trapped at lower vibrational frequency in the realm of pain and suffering for eons! You see, joy, ease, wisdom, peace and harmony--the hallmarks of Oneness--are high-frequency phenomena, but duality is a lower-frequency phenomenon. The key to moving higher in frequency is in transcending duality by giving up judgment and its concepts of good and bad. It is the hidden key out of the pain and suffering of duality.
Good is an Addiction, But There's a Remedy
I am completely aware that giving up an addiction to good (and bad) may be a challenge. It has been for me! So here is what I've been doing to wean myself over the last several years. I have become aware that what I perceive as good is merely my preference, so I am changing my language, both inner and outer, around it. Instead of saying, "Such and such is good," I substitute, "I like that" or "I definitely prefer that," or "that seemsright to me" or "that doesn't seem right to me," with seem being the key word. I often preface my declarations with "in my opinion."
It's still a shade of judgment, but it's "judgment lite" compared to the pronouncement of absolutes that "That's good" and "That's bad" connote. It's the beginning of untying some of the threads in the web of conflicting energies that billions of human minds create with their absolute pronouncements of "good" and "evil." Imagine the difference if we all loosened up the web a bit by a shift in our thoughts and words around this!

Ritchie Blackmore - A Wizard On His Guitar And Still The Most Underrated Guitarist Of All Time

Ritchie Blackmore is very likely the most fascinating guitarist in this world. The combination of his incredibly sophisticated performance and his sheer endless and brilliant creativity in my opinion make him the most magical guitarist the world has ever seen.
He probably is one of the most beloved guitarists on this planet, but still only very few people know, or do understand what a great and incredibly talented genius Ritchie Blackmore really is.
Always being far ahead of his time (yes, even in the late sixties), he never was an egomaniac, and never tried to show off like: "Hey look, I am so great, check out my skills, cool huh?!" In fact, he always appears as the somewhat shy but also very mysterious black man who does a great show on stage, and always surpasses himself live.
Interestingly, he seems to be the exact opposite of Yngwie Malmsteen. Unlike Ritchie, Yngwie creates the impression of wanting to be admired. And by that he unfortunately ruins his live performances because through the way he acts he doesn't at least grant his 'band' a little space and attention. His message seems to be: "Like me!", while Ritchie either whisks off his audience to a magical and beautiful illusive place (seemingly together with him), or he totally rocks the hall in which his audience gets carried away by supernatural forces. Ritchie plays with all his heart, and he puts all his love into the music and his performance -- it's just him.
You always get the feeling that he plays for you and that he brings up all the power and magic for anyone who is part of his audience.
Yngwie's shows have more something of a showing off, and meanwhile appear sterile and so to speak 'clinical'. Everything seems perfect -- and while it's too perfect the show sometimes tends to be taxing. Please don't get me wrong, I really think that Yngwie is a great, impressive guitarist with outstanding skills, too, and some of his stuff really rocks. But personally, I would say that he focuses too much on the technical part of playing, and thus he unfortunately doesn't challenge his inspirational side so much.
If you start studying Ritchie's solos, you also begin to realize what an infinite genius he is. And oftentimes you'll wonder how the heck he plays especially difficult passages so incredibly fast and fluently and how he, being a pioneer of the classic rock guitar, invented that stuff so early, when no one else had ever done it before. The funniest thing about all this is that nowadays there are a lot of guitarists who are very good at 'shredding', but most of them have not basically mastered the guitar like Ritchie had back then.
Most 'shredding' skills are based on very clearly structured patterns. I do not say they are easy to play or nothing worth -- this is definitely not the case! But the important thing with these patterns is that they are patterns. And many guitarists are sort of stuck in these patterns, so playing kind of becomes 'comfortable'.
Ritchie never contented himself with playing in patterns. Actually he always developed new kinds of crazy triplets like you can find them in the solos of "Light In The Black" and "You Fool No One", or sophisticated licks composed of oriental scales and mean three strings crossing forward-backward played arpeggios like in the middle section of "Spotlight Kid" with following triplets, or nasty scale shredding in which the scales are a combination of irregular triplets, chromatic, pentatonic, jazz, and regular scales. These passages and solos are very 'uncomfortable' and difficult to play, for normally your fingers are not used to that kind of irregular combinations of string attacks and require loads of practice, even for experienced guitarists, before they can at least be played three-quarters as fast as he plays them. The especially 'mean' thing about Ritchie is not only that he develops these kind of licks and solos, but he plays them live even one and a half to two times faster than on the recordings -- effortlessly.
It's absolutely fascinating and impressive how neatly he plays and records his tracks despite his hardly distorted sound. I want to add here that he is a guitarist who always records only very few takes.
Beyond that he has an extraordinary background which becomes obvious when he throws in something from J. S. Bach, and he plays acoustic guitars perfectly, too. Even more astonishing are his extensive skills regarding to very complex and sophisticated picking patterns that never had become clear until he started his current band Blackmore's Night.
To me it feels next door to blasphemy that some people actually compare him and his skills with Jimmy Page, or even claim that Jimmy Page is actually the better guitarist. Don't get me wrong, I do absolutely like Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Page is a good and legendary guitarist with diverse skills, but he is not really comparable to Ritchie Blackmore. In fact, their skills are worlds apart.

The Land of OZ and The Land of Babel

What do the Land of Oz and the land of Babel have in common? Is it the bedazzling sparkling of the blinding brightness of shimmering silver and gold? How about the horse of a different color? Maybe it's the tower of Oz and the tower of Babel? The Wizard occupied the tower of Oz and Nimrod occupied the tower of Babel, yes? Both rulers were feared and adorned by its people. Is that not a similarity? They were both the center of their respective cities. Were both of them also cursed due their spectacular abundance of glitter and wealth or were they praised by the Most High? A witch threatened one city while the other was held in blasphemy. What about the Metropolis of our time...the maze in which we reside? Is there a lesson to be learned? Could we, mere mortals, possibly comprehend the teachings of children?
Take a lesson...
On Friday 27 2011, my Granddaughter, Gianni participated in a Kindergarten production/play. The school she attends happens to be a Christian Academics Institution. Her caricature was "Glinda" the good witch of the North. Needless to say the story was of the 1939 book and movie, "The Wizard of Oz." The Children put on an excellent performance. The audience was also most gracious...the parents and grandparents, and other spectators alike enjoyed the show. The cast of characters was spectacular. The five, six, and possibly seven year olds' paraded down and around the paper-mechea'ed yellow-brick road, which surrounded the auditorium/gym and dinning hall. Cameras of all types snapped, recorded, and popped out from everywhere. The fear of missing out on the nostalgia (and keep-sake) of the moment swept through the air like a sale at J.C. Penny's going out of business parade. The excitement could be felt from the top of the building to the bottom.
Finally, the curtain swept open to reveal the creative geniuses to the anxiety filled audience. The thunder of clap and the whisper of awe gave way to non-descriptive shrills from the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins - the 'men-folk' merely smiled with approval and pride.
The cast of characters were trouped by 'Jymeer,' 'Rebecca,' 'Jacqueline,' 'Timothy,' 'Bret,' 'Anwar,' 'Morgan,' 'Christian,' 'Joey,' 'William.' 'Amanda,' 'Raya,' 'Evelyn,' 'Ameer,' 'John,' 'Gianni,' 'Zephorah,' and 'Davaughn' were just astounding! Many of us are aware, via the movie (and possibly the book) of the exploits of the "Tin Woodsman," the "Scarecrow," "the Cowardly Lion," "Dorothy," and "Toto." Remember the goodness of "Glinda" and the happy, joyous, and gratefully liberated "Munchkins?" How about the sly, slick, and boisterous "Wizard/Professor Marvel?" Have you not been angered by the complacency of "Auntie Em" (Uncle Henry just scratched his head) when Dorothy tried to tell her something?
She made many attempts to relay the fact that "Something Wicked This Way Comes!" But they wouldn't listen, would they? They all thought,"this little girl is crazy!" It took events to come to pass in order for them to maybe understand that everything we need, be it relationships, financial stability, sustenance, and itself, begins with faith in God - and not faith in Man or Mammon. It is God who placed us all on the path of the "Yellow Brick Road" of life. It is up to us to do the right things and to love one another...yet we judge and critisize while it is we who will be judged.
The characters in the story had to follow the Yellow Brick Road in order to reach the Wizard. They sought the Wizard in order to fulfill their desire(s). The road to perdition is faulty - you wouldn't get's a dead end road. The deep and dark land of the wood is dangerous. It's frothed with falsehoods, anti-Gods, demons, devils, and witches. The 'Wicked Ole Witch' attempted to kill, destroy, and keep the good-intentioned group from reaching their dreams and desire(s). Could we equate the "Yellow Brick Road" with the road to salvation? Was it not quoted in the Bible that it was Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me?" (John14: 6) Where do you walk in this world of Metropolis?
What road do you use in order to arrive at your desired destination? How about the road of war, invasion, and annihilation? Did it not take 'Glinda,' the good witch - the guardian angel to watch over the troupe - to keep them on the straight and narrow?
The Scarecrow sought a brain in the land of Oz. Would you not agree that God gave us all a brain with the potential to have great wisdom? "If any of you lacks wisdom, she/he should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)
The Tin Man wanted a heart. What would you do if you had no heart? Every day people show no love for each other. What ever happened to "We The People?" The politicos constantly attack that which they don't happen to agree - the President wishes good things for the people of this U.S. Metropolis while his colleagues' focus on hatred, riches, lust, and contempt. Is it possible for God to change the hatred in the hearts of man and woman? "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26)
The Lion wanted courage. Do we get our courage from the knowledge of God? Isn't it he who is always with us - protecting us? When we begin to understand this and believe and practice courage, the more courage we shall have in order to sustain our very existence on this planet to stand up for what is right - regardless of the enemy or challenge. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Take Up My Cross and Follow Me

In the famous words of the late American news commentator Paul Harvey, Matthew 16:21-28 is "the rest of the story". It is a continuation from Matthew 16:13-20, in which Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God. Now Jesus is telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to complete his God-given mission to save the world by dying on the cross.
Naturally this comes as a shock to the disciples. After all, why would God send someone to do something as ungodlike as dying? And if dying was necessary, why couldn't it be done on the battlefield instead of on a cross. It's no wonder Peter rebukes Jesus. After all, here he was-a fisherman who believed Jesus, but who could not understand the true purpose of Jesus' mission. He, like many of the Jews, thought that the Messiah would be a military ruler who would drive out the Romans and restore Israel to the glory days of the reign of King David.
Jesus told his disciples that he was going to lead them into battle-and they should not expect to come away unscathed. In fact, they should not be surprised if they died on the battlefield. They would be facing the forces of evil, and those forces were strong enough to wreak havoc. God would win the ultimate battle against evil, but in the meantime his disciples could expect the fight of their lives. It is a fight we are still involved in today.
Peter rebuked Jesus because he took seriously his new role as the rock on which the church was built. He took his role so seriously that he thought he had a responsibility to make sure that Jesus' ministry would be successful. He thought it was his duty to rebuke Jesus, but Jesus put him in his place. His place was behind Jesus as a follower-a role we also have to play.
Peter, like Satan, tried to deflect Jesus from the way of God, and Satan tries to deflect us from God's way today. Satan has lots of traps to put in our path, and because he is smart, he knows that the best time to trap us often comes after some great victory. In Peter's case, it was just after Jesus told him that he was going to be the rock that the church would be built on. Peter wanted Jesus to follow the wide, smooth road of a worldly life that leads to death and sin. Jesus knew he had to travel on the narrow, rough road of life with God, and it is the same road we as Christians have to travel today.
Jesus wasted no time in dealing with Satan, and neither should we. Peter had fallen for the enemy's temptations of allowing his thoughts to turn inward to himself and his desires for the nation of Israel. So Jesus moved quickly to put an end to Peter's wrong way of thinking. We must never allow the thoughts of pride or sin to linger. We must keep our focus set on God, and ask Him to reveal His perfect will to us. He knows the plan and outcome of our lives. We can trust him fully because He knows exactly what the future holds for us.
Jesus knew the road he would have to travel would lead to self-denial and the cross, and he urges his followers to be prepared to pay the price and suffer the consequences if they want to follow the same road of life. We as his followers have to sacrifice our own interests in favour of serving Christ. Our personal goals and interests have to take on a secondary importance if we want to receive eternal life. When we do, we will fulfill God's purpose of giving life. Jesus often motivated his disciples to love and good works by reminding them that He would return one day in great glory to reward all His faithful servants for whatever they had accomplished in His name.
This concept isn't east to understand. Spiritual growth takes place slowly. It takes a lifetime, and even as we reach the end of that journey, our understanding is far from perfect. For example, Jesus repeatedly told his disciples about the suffering that awaited him in Jerusalem, but they did not understand until after the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit had not yet come, and their eyes and minds were blinded to the eternal things of the Lord. However, after they saw the resurrected Christ, they knew He was the Saviour. God's Word always bears fruit at the right time.
We take up the cross of Jesus any time we suffer in some way for identifying with Him and His cause. "Cross bearing" does not always include affliction our persecution in general. It may mean denying what we deeply desire in order to do the will of God. When we obey Him, we position ourselves for great blessing. We can take up our crosses and know that the Lord will bear them with us.
When Jesus said that those who want to save their lives will lose them and vice versa, he was right. Our world is full of examples of people who have sold their souls by using sex, drugs, money, careers, possessions or alcohol to find happiness in life, only to be disappointed. Whatever a person is or becomes in his outward life, the particular quality of his or her soul will be the deciding factor in how he or she lives and how others experience him or her. The recent death of singer Amy Winehouse is a good example. She had everything the world could offer-a good career, money and fame-but her drunken binges and tragic death showed the true emptiness of her life. With God, though, there is another way. Through his life, suffering, death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus saves us by showing us the way to a life of God's forgiveness, love and grace-given with no conditions and no strings attached. God provides for us the chance to live a life with a full range of the possibilities potentially present everywhere.

It's Time of Restoration!

What is Daniel talking about here? It is worth noting that there is a role that man himself has to play in the path of his restoration to righteousness; and from the time that the children of the Living God, hence the Church, returns to the set laws and decrees of God wholeheartedly to the coming of Lord of lords and King of kings Christ Jesus to reign over His people in person would take 490years.
Thus the act of putting an end to transgression of God's laws and statutes, and atoning for sin and wickedness is the prerogative of man; while the establishment of everlasting righteousness, sealing up vision and prophesy marks the beginning of Christ's reign in person on the earth. Apostle Paul acknowledges this role of Christ in his letter to the Corinthians when he concurs that, "But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears" (1Corinthians 13:8-10). It is only probable that everlasting righteousness and sealing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit will take place only when Christ, the Most Holy, returns to reign over His righteous people on the earth.
On the other hand, when did the church of Christ atone for her sins and wickedness? A brief examination of the history of the Church through the centuries will help us understand when this act of atonement for sin and wickedness did take place.
The early Church which Christ founded under Peter and the apostles was a victorious Church in every arena of life. As we read of the exploits of this Church in the Acts of the Apostles we realize that this Church did not contend with demonic harassment - the believers knew their power over the enemy. They spoke with authority, they rebuked demonic possession obsession and all forms of its oppression. This was the Church Christ had promised Peter that He would establish on the earth and the gates of hell would not prevail over (Mathew16:18). This Church knew how to utilize the keys she had been given in the Holy Spirit. It is as a result of this that the Almighty God said to Bishop Oyedepo: "_ and in the beginning it was not so."
We know from the scripture that Christ had earlier warned the apostles of the imminent danger of His departure from the earth, but He promised them the comforter who would come to them, and be with them and all would be well as though He were present on the earth in person (Luke 24:49). Christ had also said to them,"The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared "(Mathew 13:24-26).
Thus, by the time Christ came onto the scene again, and appeared to John at the isle of Patmos, the enemy had already planted the weeds in the LORD'S wheat field. We read in the book of Revelation chapter 2 and 3 that by A.D96 of the seven churches already established in Asia Minor, only one was still walking in righteousness. The church in Smyrna. And the abundant life for which Christ had come to the earth to grant to the desired of God, the enemy had already started stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10). He had already made in roads into the church of God the Father and His Christ.
The worst came in A.D 335 when Emperor Constantine launched Catholicism on the phase of the earth. Man provoked God to anger by re-introducing the ancient pagan cult of the Queen of Heaven into the Body of Christ. And together with other numerous pagan practices of the ancient Roman religion, these were incorporated into the Church that Christ hand founded and had again given decree for restoration in A.D. 96.Hence, what was originally founded as the only way to the Most High God, and for which He had sent His only Begotten Son to the earth that through Him man may be reconciled and restored to Him for eternity had now been turned into a religion.

Tain and the Ebonix - Folk's Songs

Personnel: Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums, percussion; Marcus Strickland: tenor and soprano saxophone; Christian McBride: acoustic and electric bass; David Kikoski: pianoforte; Juan Tainish: vocals; David Gilmore: guitar; Henry Hey: keyboards; Samuel Torres: percussion
Tain & the Ebonix - Folk's Songsreleased on the Dark Key Musiclabel contains songs dedicated to friends and influences of Jeff "Tain" Watts. Giving back to his fans, friends, and influences is just one of the many endearing facets of Tain. An extraordinary musician, an in-demand drummer, an innovator of sound, tempo, and pace, and in some circles, he has been called one of the most important drummers of this generation, but with all of this said, Tain remains approachable, humble, and all about the music. To add to the excitement of Tain's latest release, which he had been telling me about for almost 2 years, I had the opportunity to experience Tain & the Ebonix live at The Living Room in New York on April 2007 for his Folk's Songs CD release party.
Folk's Songs starts with Samo ©, which Jeff has dedicated to Jean Michel Basquiat. Born in the same year, their rise to fame seemed to parallel one another. Jean Michel Basquiat's influence, a Neo-expressionist movement artist who died at just 28, shows that Tain's creativity draws from all of his senses and experiences. The groove between the saxophone and the drums contains the feeling of rebellion, creativity, and peace, which may have been the state of mind of Jean Michel Basquiat as he spray-painted his way from graffiti, with the now famous spray-painted "Samo" (same ol' ...), to fame. Track 2, Rotation, is dedicated to Tain's former band mate, saxophonist Dewey Redman. What better track than a free-flowing Keith Jarrett song to play in memory of one of America's foremost free jazz musicians. Tain shows off his skills as he tackles Keith Jarrett's improvisational style with its characteristic departure from standard chord changes and tempo, and Marcus Strickland and Tain are up to the challenge. Ling's Lope shows some swing and takes the tempo down as Tain dedicated this track to his longtime friend Branford Marsalis. Seed of Blakzilla is definitely a fun and rollicking track that fits perfectly as Tain dedicates this to comedian Dave Chappelle. Transitioning tracks, like only Tain can do with his beat and music, he follows Seed of Blakzilla with the romantic Laura Elizabeth, which is a tribute to trumpeter Laura Kahle. Staying with this change in tempo, the band rolls into the ghostly 'hymn-like' track - Galilee, this track is in memory of pianist James Williams, another young talent who passed on before his time. The release rounds out with Blues 4 Curtis, a tip-of-the-hat to Curtis Mayfield;Same Page, which is a tribute to the Citizens of Earth; and Blasphemy, which is a dual tribute to drummer Don Alias, and composer Kenny Kirkland.

Christ's Response to Verbal Abuse and Slander

The Gospel of John is a treatise on Christology. John emphasizes several essential doctrines of the Christian faith less obvious in the Synoptic Gospels: the deity of Christ; the preexistence, the Word made incarnate. One additional feature prominent in John's Gospel that stands out to me is the patience and perseverance of our Lord under unrelenting verbal attacks and criticism.
While the reader needs to be extremely careful not to read his/her own agenda into any biblical text, one can easily read between the lines into the character of Christ and thus what He expects from His followers. Each time I read John, from the challenge to His authority issued in chapter 3 to the mocking of the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion, I am struck anew at how much unmitigated hatred and slander Jesus endured... all the while still extending the offer to His tormentors: "Come to Me."
Yesterday, while discussing the lingering effects of abuse with a counselee, I was able to pull together a few biblical insights we have on how to bear up under unjust suffering and slander. To answer the question of how a victim's heart is to respond, 1 Peter 2:13-4:19 is an excellent passage. The Bible is filled with additional exhortations on how a Christian is to respond to attacks either from an enemy or fellow believer, and it is unnecessary to enumerate them all here. What I wanted the woman to see, however, is how Jesus is able to empathize and have compassion on victims of all kinds of abuse - including verbal - because He continually took it on the chin during His earthly ministry.
"Jesus, Did You Hear What They Said About You?!?"
The next time you read through John, pay special attention to the reaction of the Jewish establishment and their cronies from chapter 5 (following the healing at the Bethesda pool) right up until the Triumphal Entry in chapter 12. Long before we get to Calvary, Jesus bore the hateful attacks, sneers, and unfounded criticism of the religious establishment. Literally no good deed was left unpunished, and Scripture records at least two other attempts on His life (by stoning; for alleged blasphemy). On the heels of one such attack, Jesus heals a blind beggar - unasked - on His way out of town. The man is subsequently excommunicated from the Synagogue for bearing witness to Christ, and Jesus then goes out of His way to find him.
Think on THAT the next time you're tempted to slide into self-pity!
Chapters 7 and 8 of John primarily compose one verbal barrage after another against the One Who came to save them. Each time I read the account, my jaw drops at the amount of hostility Jesus put up with... including a barely-veiled jibe implying that He was illegitimate (John 8:41b). And how does He respond? Righteously, by calling out the sin and hypocrisy of His critics - but also graciously, by calling them to repentance. Right up until Wednesday of Passion Week, two days before His humiliating execution, we see Jesus in the temple courts - preaching, persuading, imploring those who despised Him to come unto Him.
While we know that Christ was, and is, fully human as well as fully divine, I can't help but wonder if the rejection and attacks hurt His feelings in the same way we would experience emotional pain. The reason this gives me pause is that, usually, when our feelings are hurt, it is a personal slight - not God's honor and glory - that has been wounded. The only time we see Jesus getting angry in the Gospels is when His Father's honor has been compromised. The personal attacks seem to roll of His shoulders, and He is consistently willing, ready and able to overlook the offense and forgive. His continual call to repentance is just that - an invitation to lavish grace and undeserved forgiveness.
What does this have to do with nouthetic counseling? Almost every issue for which a person seeks godly counsel is a result of sin - either one's own, or the effects of another's sin upon the counselee. Many have (accurately) noted that the scars of emotional abuse go much deeper than those of physical abuse...long after the bruises are healed, hateful words and false accusations still ring in our ears. It is not helpful to pretend that this is not the case, but nor do attempts to re-write the past (inner healing; visualization) help the victim. Furthermore, seeing one's self as a "victim" can cause compounded sin - self-pity and sinful reactions. What I have found, along with many others, is that returning to the plain text of the Bible reveals a Savior Who truly knows what it is to suffer even this maddening type of abuse. His patient, principled and loving response (forgiveness; a desire for reconciliation) provides us, His disciples, with the only God-honoring response there is to abuse and slander.

Outraged by The Law of Attraction?

All the recent discussions about The Secret and The Moses Code have created quite a stir.
The two contain teachings based on The Law of Attraction - which is essentially holding positive thoughts in your mind until they become part of who you are. These positive thoughts then cause positive results to manifest into your life. Who would have thought that such a simple idea could be so divisive?
The controversy usually stems from people who want to dismiss The Law of Attraction as something of a hoax. People ask: "Where is the proof?" or "If it works, why is there pain or poverty in the world?" or "Why am I not rich? I want to attract money." These same arguments have been made against God or organized religions by non-believers for ages.
If you are one of those people who is outraged or upset by publicity surrounding The Law of Attraction, I challenge you to do the following:
1. Read the book by Protestant minister Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952 and sold 7 million copies.
2. Go back and re-read The Secret or watch the DVD.
Here is the conclusion that you should arrive at after completing this assignment:
Right thinking leads to right actions which lead to right results.
The Power of Positive Thinking teaches us that if we consciously focus on positive thoughts and outcomes, these results are more likely to show up. Wow, what a novel idea! Does that sound a lot like The Law of Attraction? Did the critics cry, "Outrageous... shame on you Dr. Peale...blasphemy..."? No, they bought 7 million copies of his book.
What we have learned since Dr. Peale's book was first published over 50 years ago are some shortcuts to impressing our desires on the subconscious mind. One of the incredible shortcuts we have discovered is called brain wave synchronization or brain wave entrainment.
Brain wave entrainment allows us to present a frequency to the brain in the form of sound or light and causes brain waves to match that frequency. Now brainwave entrainment is not new, but it has become more effective since the advent of electroencephalography (EEG) machines that allow us to see brain wave frequencies changing during entrainment.
What makes brain wave entrainment so spectacular is that it can be used by nearly everyone. It requires little or no training, and it is very inexpensive to obtain. There are many CD's or instant downloads available online to manipulate your brain wave state for improvement in learning, sleep, relaxation, meditation, heightened awareness, and manifestation. These manifestation or Law of Attraction programs typically involve taking your brain into a meditative state and then exposing it to subliminal, audible messages or affirmations.

The Truth About America (Part 4) Three Daggers in the Heart of America

Perhaps the greatest difficulty our founding fathers faced was how to form a republic that would not destroy itself. At the close of the Constitutional Convention is 1787, Ben Franklin was leaving the convention hall when approached by a curious lady, "Sir, what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?" To this Franklin replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."
Our early fathers believed the best way to "keep it" was to bring a balance to government that would keep tyrants from becoming too opportunistic and powerful. Therefore, three branches of government were formed; the executive, legislative and judicial. The purpose of this formation was to provide for a balance. Maintaining the balance has been a great challenge over the years.
The purpose of the Judicial Branch of government is to determine if our laws are constitutional. The great symbol used to demonstrate this is the scales of justice and fairness. When this instrument is used one is supposed to simply put an object on the scales and let it do its work. When laws come before the Supreme Court the constitution is the measure by which it is determined if these laws are just. Unfortunately, our courts feel empowered to fiddle with the scales. They've interpreted the constitution in a way to make it say things it was never meant to say.
In my opinion there have been three daggers thrust into the heart of America in the last fifty years.
1. Engel vs. Vitale, 1962.
I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Swanson, at Neason Hill School in Meadville, Pennsylvania. She had snow white hair and always talked about driving her tractor on her farm. My mind of six years thought she was already a hundred years old. Mrs. Swanson started every school day reading to us a chapter from the Bible and praying to God for his blessing.
We all gathered as Catholics and Baptists and Presbyterians and we all shared the same prayer. The prayer was not offensive to any of these groups. Opponents trumped up a "separation of church and state" ruling and tried to take what was written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut and plug it in the Constitution. Many believe that in so doing they violated the constitution.
The 1st amendment says, "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof." Our founding fathers were not trying to protect the government from the church. They were trying to protect the church from the government.
There is nothing sweeter to see than a small, innocent child praying, "God is great. God is good. And we thank him for our food." How dare they swipe such a lovely and innocent prayer from the lips of our children!
2. Roe vs. Wade, 1973.
Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." He said about those who would bring harm to a child, "It would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" - (Matthew 18:6)
Nothing in this world surpasses or outshines the love Christ has for children.
A young mother came into a doctor's office carrying her 18 month old baby. She was weeping. "Doctor, I'm pregnant again and I can't do this. I need help. I need to abort this child. I can't raise another one." The doctor considered this and then told her he had a solution. She looked relieved as she listened. "Aborting the child in your womb would be dangerous to your health. But there is no danger at all if we destroy the baby in your arms." She withdrew in horror and held her baby tightly. "How could you suggest such a thing?" The doctor replied, "How could you suggest such a thing for the child within your womb?"
The Supreme Court legalized the blood sacrifice that would make America a target of God's wrath. We have murdered 53 million unborn since 1973. Imagine these millions of voices crying out to God in heaven to avenge their murders. Can he ignore their plea for justice?
3. Lawrence v. State of Texas, 2003.
The Supreme Court declared that men could violate Leviticus 18:22 without worrying about government interference. "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
Romans 1 says that God turned them over "to degrading passions; women exchanging natural function for that which is abandoned the natural function...and burned in their desire toward one another." (Romans 1:26-27) The courts sanctioned the breaking of this biblical law. Our founding fathers would be abhorred at this ruling!

Aborigine, Invaders and Indianization - Part 1

Why two set of laws, rules and Patriotic themes are followed that is one for the aborigine and other for the Settlers on the Soil of Mother India (SOMI). The similar Tribulations of Conflict of Allegiance, Devotion and Submission (TOCADS) are being faced by all the Nations all over the world, where Muslims had invaded and settled. However, internal unrest and disturbances are negligible where Muslims are ruling like Malaysia, Indonesia, but where the fundamentalists are not in power; the terrorism has become a way for life for the aborigine of other faiths such as India, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Jordan and other. The universal brotherhood approach of second Prophet Abu Bakr and later fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali for Shia Muslims, the International terrorism has become a perennial challenge for the world. During my survey, I have observed that these people are not willing to accommodate and cohabitate with natives such as Philippine, Russia, Ethiopia and other. While drafting the Constitution of India, Sri BR Ambedkar had assured Indians that India would remain a Secular Nation. Really speaking, India is maintaining her secular character even today. However, the new breed of politicians and fundamentalists is determined to make future India extremist.
The readers would agree that While Muslim fundamentalists are raising objection to every issue which is linked with glorification of the Nation, the other hardcore elements of different religion are trying to divide such Nations. Often, it is noted that a selected group of minority community would begin raising objections in the name of religion and the entire community supports silently. Infact, every issue which nationalists are raising, the Minority clergy links it with religion and Allah. The natives feel that the Minority fundamentalists have formulated a new way of taming Indian patriotic thoughts. Why two sets of law, rule and patriotic theme are followed; that is one for the aborigine, and the other for Settlers. Though. the SOMI had absorbed every invader, but the settlers had always created feelings of being alien to the aborigine?
India is the second largest Muslim predominant populated Nation; but most of the times Native Indians feel that a large part of Indian minority community behaves estranged on one or the other pretext whenever an issue concerning native Hindus or Muslims is raised in world over. The atrocities against Hindus and other religious communities in Malaysia is their internal matter, but the similar problem of Muslims in any country is the Universal Brotherhood Approach (UBA). The destruction of over 90 Hindu temples in Malaysia is none's concern. The Malaysian Government is not only suppressing equal right activist's movement, but also trying to Islamize the nation. While Hindus and other religious communities Places of Worships (PoW) are being razed on one side, the numerous equal right activists are tried for treason. The people demanding equal rights are facing Islamic Government's wrath. Readers would have to analyze and find an answer of this problem of TOCADS both Muslims and Aborigine, as to why do a common Indian always believe that Minority community is using religion to avoid patriotic songs.
Let us debate a few Why?
One; why fundamentalists are always linking Islamic religions with every Issue?
Two; why fundamentalists are using Islam to gain political identity?
Three; why Indian Muslims are not using Islam to defend SOMI as in case of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia and many other Islamic countries?
Four; Despite of India being a Secular Nation, why the fundamentalists resolve to violence in India as and when anything happens in the world against Muslims?
Five; why should Indian Muslims issue Fatwa of death to cartoonist and not MF Hussein for blasphemy?
Though no one can find answers to the above questions; but certainly readers can analyze the Future Course of Fundamentalists Action (FCFA) towards Natives in all the Nations.
I would generate a debate to analyze the following issues:-
The fundamentalist's controversy of National Anthem and Song of Nation/India (NASN/I) is uncalled for. It is observed that whenever any Nation has tried to introduce NAS in educational Institutions, the Muslim clergy term it unIslamic. Readers would agree that when rest of the World's Muslims can sing NASI of other Muslim Nations, then why they can not sing for SOMI? What is wrong in singing the National Anthem? When all over world Muslims from Muslim Nations including Pakistani can sing their National Anthem, then what prevents Indian Muslims from doing so?

Literary Censorship And Infringement Of Human Rights - Role Of The Librarian


In this age of information explosion, the Librarian is supposed to be an opener of blocked pathways in the maze of knowledge, a blazer of trails in the encompassing dark forest of ignorance and a leader in keeping the human mind free. To censor is to act so as to change or suppress speech or writing that is condemned as subversive of the common good. Literary censorship goes back to the office of censor established in Rome in 443 B.C. but however honourable the origins of its name, it is today generally regarded as a relic of an unenlightened and much more oppressive age. It is an infringement of human rights and affects the Librarian in many ways. It also affects the Universal Availability of Publications (UAP), a programme developed within the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and supported by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Prohibition of the production, distribution, circulation or sale of material considered being objectionable for reasons of politics, religion, obscenity or blasphemy is an infringement of the individual's right. It contradicts the most powerful statement of the global aspiration of respect for human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. Article 19 is an independent and impartial human rights legislation established in 1986 to promote freedom of expression to combat censorship worldwide. It reads: "every one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" (Shawcross 1991, p.409). The African Charter on Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights, the Arab Charter on Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Acts - to mention a few- all stress that everyone should have the right to freedom of expression; a right that includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his/her choice.
In practice one sees the opposite. Even the quite open society of Athens had limits, as indicated by the trial and conviction of youth and acknowledgement of unorthodox divinities. In the ancient Greek communities, it was assumed that the character of a people would and should be shaped by that of the government. In the ancient Chinese system, control of the information was retained - not by the information worker - but by the authorities who also determined the contents of the authoritative texts. Perhaps the most dramatic form of literary censorship in Christendom was the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of books Roman Catholics were prohibited by ecclesiastical authority from reading or keeping without permission. Such books could not be imported into countries where Roman Catholic control was considerable. The Roman Catholic Church used this index to police the literature available to its followers.
The Librarian serves the precious liberties of the nation; freedom of inquiry, freedom of the spoken or written word and freedom of the exchange of ideas. A democracy smugly disdainful of new ideas could be dismissed as a sick democracy and a democracy chronically fearful of new ideas would be a dying democracy. The last person to be a censor should be the Librarian whose responsibility is to provide materials which stimulate growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic values and ethical standards. S/he provides a background of information which will enable citizens to make intelligent judgements in their daily lives. By providing materials on opposing sides of controversial issues, citizens develop the intellectual practice of critical reading and thinking.