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Kristi on Christmas: Be Nice, Think of Jesus. Holiday Donald: “ROT IN HELL.”

But how can Kristi Noem expect to have a chance of running-mating with Donald Trump when she so blatantly contradicts his messaging?

For Christmas, South Dakota’s bad-preacher-in-chief released a treacly plea to be nice and think of Jesus:

As we head into a week full of gifts and time spent with loved ones, I encourage you to remember the greatest gift. We live in a world that is so often full of anger and violence. I think that we could all really benefit from slowing down and remembering Jesus this Christmas [Gov. Kristi Noem, theocratic propaganda column, 2023.12.25].

Meanwhile, her favorite sinner in the garb of an angry god spent the holy day saying not one word about or like Jesus and focusing his attention not on heaven but on hell:

“Merry Christmas to all, including Crooked Joe Biden’s ONLY HOPE, Deranged Jack Smith,” Trump began in a Truth Social post at 2:38 p.m. EST.

…“Included also are World Leaders, both good and bad, but none of which are as evil and ‘sick’ as the THUGS we have inside our Country who, with their Open Borders, INFLATION, Afghanistan Surrender, Green New Scam, High Taxes, No Energy Independence, Woke Military, Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Iran, All Electric Car Lunacy, and so much more, are looking to destroy our once great USA. MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” the former president concluded [Ian Swanson, “Trump: ‘May They Rot in Hell. Merry Christmas,” The Hill, 2023.12.25].

Gee, it sounds to me like Donald Trump is the one waging war on Christmas. Sister Kristi, where you going, what you looking for, and how can you keep motoring for a man who by your own preachy words and his hateful outbursts is most definitely not Mister Right with Jesus?


  1. ABC 2023-12-26

    Buddha says, “You are provided for. No Gods. Just suffer less. Be wise, love, forgive.”

  2. flopster 2023-12-26

    Can’t see the “log in her or his (DT’s) eye” can she ? And to think she’ll be just down the road in SCity next week at the MAGA event.
    Supporting ol’ indictment Donald. He LOST, get a clue.
    Can she be any more desperate ? Its the ‘pick me, pick me’ syndrome. Get a life KN, out of our state & fed gov’t for good.

  3. grudznick 2023-12-26

    I googled Deranged Jack Smith, and found out he’s some guy who’s coming for Mr. Trump. You would think the Secret Service would form up a protective circle, unless they are under the control of the Deep State.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-12-26

    Donald Trump should lose his passport, be under house arrest and forfeit protection paid for by We, the People.

  5. e platypus onion 2023-12-26

    Noem Nothing would be the most klewless female veep candidate ever and she sure as hell knows nothing about her alleged lord and saviour’s teachings about children and the less fortunate. What a mow ron.,

  6. ABC 2023-12-26

    Buddhist billionaire says, “Buddha provides.”

    White wing Christian says, “Keep them (long list) out of our country or in jail and then finally, we’ll be prosperous and safe.”

    Buddha way faster.

  7. grudznick 2023-12-26

    When grudznick was a Buddhist, I always hoped Buddha might smite more than the overgodders’ god. That’s when I started exploring Neopaganism.

  8. sx123 2023-12-26

    Remember Jesus this Christmas, and then, ROT IN HELL!!!

    lmao, what in the Helheim…

    To many Trump supporters, doesn’t matter if on 10th spouse, call names, wish bad on ones enemies, as long as you are running a campaign as the ‘not Hillary Clinton’ ticket and claim to be against abortion, you will get their vote – Jesus’s teachings of fidelity, feeding the hungry, and love thy enemies be damned.

  9. Phil 2023-12-26

    Good one, Mr. grudznick. Neopaganism? PTL!

  10. O 2023-12-26

    I would like to ask the follow up: precisely what ought we remember when we remember Jesus?

  11. Todd “Bodhisattva” Epp 2023-12-26

    Grudz, sorry to disappoint you, but the Buddha is the anthesis of a smiter.

  12. Bob Newland 2023-12-26

    O. The only thing worth remembering is that a dude was tortured to death for opposing corruption. The biblical accounts of Haysooce being assassinated can be compared to the Zapruder film.

  13. sx123 2023-12-26

    Jesus cursed a fig tree for not producing fruit, so there’s that. I always felt sorry for the fig tree when i was a kid.

  14. Bob Newland 2023-12-26

    I once cursed the wind. I can relate.

  15. e platypus onion 2023-12-26

    Uncle Shel Silverstein had Budduh covered as well as gawd.

  16. larry kurtz 2023-12-27

    Trump is an illegitimate executive and should be stripped of his entitlements.

  17. All Mammal 2023-12-27

    What I have screamed into the wind would make your hair curl, Bossman. Like that time I was sewing a calf’s butt up and my needle broke and the mosquitos were draining me. Zipper Butt survived. The wind forgave me, it seems, so I’m sure your slate is fresh too.

  18. Donald Pay 2023-12-27

    I have to say that I share the “rot in hell” attitude, except it’s directed toward the Trumpista crowd. I pray for the day when the Orange Dictator Wannabee and all his cult are levitated off this earth and end up in the hell they think is heaven. Then the rest of us who want peace on earth, goodwill to all will be allowed to live in a world that Jesus would love.

  19. Rambler 2023-12-27

    I wonder what spin the evangelicals want to put on Trump’s “rot in hell” comments in his Christmas message?

  20. David Bergan 2023-12-27

    “I would like to ask the follow up: precisely what ought we remember when we remember Jesus?”

    Hi O!

    For me it’s…
    – Love your enemies
    – Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect
    – Remove the log from your own eye before you attempt to remove the speck in your neighbor’s
    – Forgive your neighbor seventy times seven times
    – Bear good fruit
    – Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven
    – As often as possible, lift your heart and mind to God

    If the whole world could follow this…

    Kind regards,

    PS The fig tree story is odd. But I don’t let that or the other quirks in the Bible diminish the greatest moral teaching that humanity has ever considered… the lasting solution to humanity’s predilection to a cycle of increasing violence. Wouldn’t it be better if Israel and Hamas each loved their enemy? The accusers and the dividers are the ones who perpetuate that cycle.

  21. Francis Schaffer 2023-12-27

    When I think of Jesus I am reminded of his dislike of Pharisees and money changers.

  22. bearcreekbat 2023-12-27

    Since this thread discusses Christianity and Heaven and Hell it seems an appropriate opportunity to ask those with greater knowledge than I a couple questions about some aspects of the Christian religion and belief system.

    First, I have to wonder exactly what factors support an argument that “the Bible [is] the greatest moral teaching that humanity has ever considered?” While there certainly are some positive moral ideas in the Bible, similar ideas have been set forth in a variety of both religious and non-religious writings and teachings all throughout history. What would make someone like David Bergan, an obviously learned and thoughtful individual, conclude the the Bible’s positive teachings are better, or even all that much different than the teachings of other advocates of non-violence. See e.g.,,small%20organisms%20such%20as%20insects.

    Second, a question for those Christians that base their worship of Jesus on the idea that all humans were born sinners and that Jesus was killed on the cross as a means of giving all human sinners a fresh start and an opportunity to be forgiven for their sins. As a premise to this belief isn’t forgiveness deemed important for the purposes of the afterlife, as this is the only means to avoid eternal condemnation in Hell (despite Donald Trump’s personal hopes and dreams). So my question relates to all the human beings that died before Jesus was crucified, including but not limited to those folks killed by God in the great flood: Are all of these sorry souls still being tortured in Hell because God had not yet sent Jesus to be killed for their sins, or did Jesus’ death retroactively lift all of these poor tortured souls out of Hell and into Heaven, by an automatic forgiveness of original sin and all those other sins committed during their lifetimes? Where are they now?,

  23. Arlo Blundt 2023-12-27

    Forgiveness is a most important concept of Christ’s message…”Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

  24. David Bergan 2023-12-27

    Hi BCB!

    Happy to share my thoughts on these issues!

    First, I’d like to clarify that I didn’t say “the Bible [is] the greatest moral teaching that humanity has ever considered” but I can see where that could be construed from my post. What I should have said more clearly was that “Jesus’s teachings are the greatest moral teaching that humanity has ever considered.” Outside of the gospels, the Bible has lots of stuff that I’m not willing to call the greatest moral teaching. Things like the covenant with Abraham requiring circumcision, imprecatory psalms, Pharoah’s hard heart, etc. If you look for it, you can find the antecedents of Jesus’s morality in the Old Testament comingles with a lot of chaff. And I see this as a part of Jesus’s ministry, showing the Pharisees that their legalistic word-worshiping of the OT laws was not God’s will. God desires mercy, not sacrifice. God cares about whether you to love the poor, not whether you tithe on your mint or successfully evade work on the Sabbath.

    Why do I believe that Jesus’s teachings are greater than other advocates of non-violence? Because Jesus’s teachings are more than just non-violence. Not-hurting-my-enemy is a great starting point, but loving-my-enemy is Jesus’s call. He wants us to actively will the best for our enemies, not just peacefully co-exist with them.

    As for your other questions about heaven and hell, here is an outline I just sent to a friend that may help you see how I approach these things:

    – Both in the human and divine realm, justice and mercy are vehicles to get a person (or a community) to at-one-ment.
    – The goal is at-one-ment. Justice and mercy aren’t ends in themselves but a means to the end of at-one-ment.
    – In the human realm, our natural predilection is toward an increasing cycle of violence (endless tit-for-tat, blood feuds, vendettas, honor killings, perpetual civil war). For example, “You killed my dog, I’ll kill your sister.”
    – This cycle leads to the extermination of all involved.
    – People have a strong tendency to look to one’s own grievances rather than the harmony of the community. Hold grudges. Get even. Make them pay.

    – Let’s first examine at-one-ment strategies prior to the concepts of justice and mercy.
    – Girard hypothesized that the scapegoat mechanism was the most ancient method of stopping a cycle of increasing violence and achieving (temporary) at-one-ment in a community.
    – This process achieves harmony by aligning the community together against a common enemy, either real or imagined.
    – This happens all the time in military conflicts. For example, when the Persians invaded Greece, Sparta and Athens put their differences aside to fight Persia.
    – Girard’s insight is that the same kind of setting-aside-of-differences can be achieved when the community bands together to [[stone | burn | exile | send-to-the-arena | crucify]] a [[witch | adulteress | incestuous-king | heretic | spy | traitor]].
    – And further, the guilt or innocence of the victim was not relevant for this mechanism. The “witch” may just be a girl with epilepsy with no possible way to defend herself. The “spy” will obviously deny he’s a spy and “that just proves he is one”.
    – The accusers, the people with the power to direct the mob, figured out this mechanism and used it for political purposes. People who threatened their position could thus be accused and removed, like how Caiaphas had Jesus crucified.

    – In cases where there was a split in power (e.g., two families in the same city or two nearby tribes), often what would happen is that the offended side demanded “satisfaction” from the perpetrating side. For example, if the patriarch of my family intentionally killed your family’s horses, we would have the beginnings of a feud that could eliminate us all. To stop the cycle, my family has to sacrifice something that will satisfy your family.
    – I remember hearing Girard (or someone explaining Girard) saying that in such a case the sacrificial victim had to be proximally associated with the citizens, but not so important that the death would disrupt society in other ways. In other words, a sacrifice is needed to restore the peace, but if our patriarch himself was chosen as the sacrifice, the family structure and their land and livelihoods could fall into chaos or ruin. So instead, something else is chosen… a child, his right-hand servant, or his favorite dog… depending on the severity of the original crime.
    – This process was suggested as the precursor to the more ritualized sacrifices in pagan society (killing a child/animal every Tuesday just for the sake of communal harmony), and also the precursor to our modern justice systems where we now insist that the punishment falls directly on the perpetrator.

    – In Exodus, we find an articulation of justice in the words ‘eye for an eye’.
    – My understanding is that this maxim was intended to restrict compensation to the value of the loss. It might be better read as ‘only one eye for one eye’.
    – Thus its purpose was a hedge against the tendency of an increasing cycle of violence, and shows another aspect of how justice is a means to at-one-ment.
    – But too much justice can lead to punishment for the sake of punishment. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    – Mercy is also granted for at-one-ment.
    – When an aggrieved party forgives, turns the other cheek, or refuses to press charges, that also may stop the increasing cycle of violence.
    – And through that kindness, the victim may become closer to the perpetrator than if they had exacted justice.
    – A marriage founded upon grace and mercy seems much more at-one to me than one where every merit and demerit is enumerated as though the couple were preparing for divorce court.
    – But a marriage with too much mercy doesn’t confront the bum spouse about their drug addiction, and the spouses are no longer at-one.

    – Justice can be too much.
    – Mercy can be too much.
    – At-one-ment cannot be overdone. It can be pursued infinitely, and thus is rightly considered a primary attribute of God.
    – At-one-ment is what signals when justice or mercy is too much.

    – God is love.
    – God is infinite love.
    – In God’s interactions with us, He is always willing our good.
    – Love loves unto purity.
    – He has descended as low as possible to reach us and show us His love. Born in a barn, washed his disciples’ feet, betrayed by a friend, humiliated in front of a crowd, wrongfully convicted, died on a cross, became food for us to eat, descended into hell.
    – Above all, God wants to be at-one with us. He is Love and Love wills the best for us. There is no higher good for us than being at-one with God.
    – He also wants us to love and be at-one with each other. Friends willing each others’ good, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, drawing ever nearer to Him.

    – To lift either justice or mercy above at-one-ment can lead to a distorted understanding of God.
    – With too much emphasis on justice, you get Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
    – If God prioritizes executing justice to us over at-one-ment with us, He may no longer be willing our good, but doling out punishment for punishment’s sake.
    – With too much emphasis on mercy, sin is no longer treated like, or recognized as, sin. Everything is permissible. Evil is called good and good is called evil.

    – God seeks our at-one-ment more than anything else for us.
    – For some people, justice may draw them toward God, because mercy would release them back to their vice with no lesson learned and no repentance considered.
    – Other people may recognize their wrongdoing immediately upon rebuke and voluntarily try to reconcile the situation as much as possible. So for them, mercy may be the quicker route to at-one-ment, and a just punishment would inflict needless suffering. (“A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.”)

    – Not being at-one with God is hell.
    – Sin creates hell.
    – hell is separation from God, the vain seeking of a good somewhere other than the fountainhead of goodness.
    – By choosing sin we choose hell.
    – The damned judge themselves by turning inward and living for themselves rather than turning their focus outward for God and others. Incurvatus in se.
    – God always loves the sinner, and always hates the sin.
    – God never wants to see any of us in a state of incurvatus in se, like a good father never wants to see their child addicted to drugs.
    – God will do whatever He can to save His children from incurvatus in se.
    – But we have free will.

    – At-one-ment comes from us repenting of our sins and being of one mind, one will, and one purpose with God.
    – Because He loves us, God wants to destroy every little sin in us in the same way a jeweler wants to purify his silver to make a precious artifact. (Love loves unto purity.)
    – Our God is a consuming fire. Everything that is not eternal (sin) will be shaken, destroyed, and burned up, so that only the eternal remains.
    – There is no heaven with a little of hell in it – no place to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.
    – God doesn’t want to punish us for the sake of punishing us, but in purifying us, in burning up our sins, it may hurt.
    – The more we cling to the sin, the more it will hurt. Quitting a heroin addiction is painful. Quitting a pride addiction is more painful.
    – We may feel this pain as punishment, but in actuality it is just a necessary consequence of destroying the sin.
    – And if we never let go of the sin, we may be burned up with it.
    – God may also use pain/suffering to save, warn, correct, or teach sinners, but it is never punishment for punishment’s sake. It’s always for our own good. Always to purify us, to draw us to at-one-ment.

    – God is the ultimate source and model of forgiveness.
    – God holds no grudges.
    – God does not hold our past sins against us. Once they are destroyed and we’ve turned away from them, He forgets them like they were last month’s garbage.
    – When we stay in sin, we cause ourselves suffering, and God is longing for us to repent. When we’re in that state, He does see our sins in order to help us be released from them.

    – The Crucifixion is a powerful mystery and I in no way understand it completely.
    – However, I don’t hold to the line of thought that “Jesus had to die to satisfy God’s justice” because it sounds like it’s saying that justice is more important to God than at-one-ment, and that Jesus had to die because of punishment for punishment’s sake.
    – Furthermore, punishing Jesus, an innocent third party, for my sins seems to contradict justice.
    – Redemption/ransoming implies the triple idea of (1) a bondage, (2) a deliverance, and (3) the payment of an equivalent as the means of that deliverance.
    – I confess to being in bondage to sin, and that Jesus did deliver me. What I don’t understand is the payment aspect… who is being paid to release me?
    – My understanding is that the early church fathers believed that Satan was the one being paid to release us from his dominion, but no theologian seems to believe that now.

    – I don’t (yet?) understand how this line of reasoning works. But I do believe that Jesus rescued me. He saved me when I called out to Him when I had little faith and was drowning in depression. He stretched forth his hand and caught me. (Matthew 14) I was a lost sheep. Jesus left the 99 to find me, put me on His shoulders, and bring me home. (Luke 15)


    “So my question relates to all the human beings that died before Jesus was crucified, including but not limited to those folks killed by God in the great flood: Are all of these sorry souls still being tortured in hell because God had not yet sent Jesus to be killed for their sins, or did Jesus’ death retroactively lift all of these poor tortured souls out of hell and into heaven, by an automatic forgiveness of original sin and all those other sins committed during their lifetimes? Where are they now?”

    My speculation is that God would love for all souls to come to him, both now and in the afterlife. Again, from my perspective, God doesn’t punish anyone with hell. Scoffers damn themselves when they choose that they’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven. The gates of hell are locked from the inside. Jesus is at the door constantly knocking.

    Could a hard-hearted enemy of God come to love him after he died? I personally think that’s possible. If you have two hours, I’d highly recommend CS Lewis’s thin fantasy The Great Divorce. One of the great lines in it is when a soul decided to come to heaven from “the grey town” the question is asked whether it was previously in hell, or in purgatory. And the response is that both are the same place, it just depends on whether the soul chooses to leave it or stay.

    Kind regards,

  25. John 2023-12-27

    One HUGE difference between the bible, or bibles, and the Torah, is that the Bible/Bibles are re-translated, rewritten, re-‘interpreted’ as to be nearly unrecognizable contrast to its earliest version. The Torah, on the other hand, is nearly identical to its earliest form. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls affirm the modern Torahs are virtually identical to the early versions. (Search the Middle East over. Try to find dudes named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, much less, Peter.)

  26. larry kurtz 2023-12-27

    Everyone knows the greatest moral teachings are found in the scripts from TOS.

  27. larry kurtz 2023-12-27

    “Error 1: Several other courts have ruled that Trump is not disqualified. Error 2: Disqualification isn’t likely or right because it would take the decision away from the people. Error 3: Disqualifying Trump would violate due process. Error 4: Disqualification is a terrible strategy for the Democrats, since Trump can use it to build support. Error 5: There is no chance the conservative Supreme Court will rule against Trump.”

  28. bearcreekbat 2023-12-27

    David, thanks for your thoughts on the questions I posed. The theory that “God doesn’t punish anyone with hell” is interesting considering the extensive pain God inflicts on so many biblical characters, and Paul’s descriptions of God and presumably hell in Bible verses like 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NIV:

    6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. (bolding supplied)

  29. O 2023-12-27

    David, thank you for your thoughtful answers. I would echo many of those. I would hope to get in a dose of “what so ever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do on to me.” Just a twist on the WWJD but what would you do to Jesus (a poor, brown, socialist, immigrant).

    I also seem to have the impression from my LIMITED understanding of scripture/theology that Judgment Day hasn’t officially happened yet, so official sorting of Heaven and Hell hasn’t happened yet; the dead await their fate.(?)

  30. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-12-28

    I love it, Always place GOD above the People, and the People above the State Government. That is the Origins of the U.S.A. I love it.
    The United States of America was formed when the Northeastern Territory was breaking away, and gaining their Independence from England, beginning in 1763, and by 1776 when they declared their Sovereignty, then in 1777 they Established their Confederacy of 13 Member States, to which by 1788, they adopted the Ordinance of 1788 to which planned, shaped, and zoned the Territory as the United States of America, with the last step, creating their permanent Central Government in 1791 with the adoption of the Constitution.

    Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island Plantations, Maryland, Massuhuchetts, Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut became the United States as they agreed to the Articles of Compact.

    Upon agreeing to the Treaty of 1783, England also ceded the Northwest Territory to the United States, to which they utilized the 1788 Ordinance to plan, shape, and zone the territory into five new States to be – Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin.

    By 1836, the United States of America bound to the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and Articles of Compact, were a Union of 18 State’s, and to which had agreed to terms, that neither shall participate in the British Slave Trade.

    From 1841 to 1857, Congress had adopted several Organic Acts to which would go on to establish new Land Territories, to which all these territories lead to forming engagements with American’s to which would compact them, obligate them to the Articles of Compact, to which from these acts would expand, and enlarge the United States of America forever.

    During this Organic Period to which the United States were blossoming into Expansive, Collective Country, this can be defined as a period to which the Original States were forming an integral element of a whole to which they were creating systematic coordination, to which they created carbon compounds having the characteristics of an organism relating to, being, or dealt with, by a branch of chemistry concerned with living beings and most other carbon compounds, and engagements, to which according to the United States Constitution, these engagements would be upheld, and maintained in perpetuity.

    In the South, there became born from a British Plantation System, Chartered States held in financial interest under the Virginia Land Company, to which gained their authority from the Bank of London, to which loaned, provided shelter, and financial instruments forming new American States such as – Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, and West Virginia, which was created during the Civil War Period, and these states were later conjoined, as Texas and Missouri later joined their confederation to stand independently together in defense of their British Chartered Economic System.

    These twelve America States are the only American States not to be established by the Organic Acts of Congress, thus they were not bound to the Articles of Compact, to which they became “Freer” to govern themselves as they so wish, which allowed them to form trade partnerships with Great Britain, to whom contractually, obligated them to the British Economic Slave Trade.

    The Mason-Dixon Line had maintained a sense of Separation between the Northern Territory, and the Southern Territory, to which the Federal Government utilized “Protection Tariffs” to provide infrastructure, tax benefits, and subsidies to the 18 Northern States.

    This led to a fast, growing divide between the Northern and Southern Territories, especially as New States fast derived from those recently adopted Organic Acts of Congress leading to Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, California, Oregon, Washington, in the years ahead between 1861 to 1891.

    The Civil War, which really occurred between 1861 and 1880 – may have really been this civil strife between two economic trade differences between the Northern States, and the Southern States to which the United States Government was attempting to reign in, and force the 12 Southern States to adopt, and agree to the Articles of Compact, to which they aggressively denied.

    It began with President Abraham Lincoln incorporating all Federally, held Property as the United States Corporation, doing this in order to pool all assets, the U.S Army, all Forts, Administration Buildings, Court Buildings, Land Holdings to borrow money from the Bank of London, to which financed the war efforts of the North. Lincoln also had adopted four major policies:

    Abraham Lincoln by General Order 100, created a Federal Militarized Zone that encompassed all of the 11 States;
    Abraham Lincoln would enforce stronger, the Tariff (taxes) owed by those Americans in the South;
    Abraham Lincoln would adopt the Emancipation Act, which helped to Free African-American Born Persons, let alone, would later ‘free’ Prisoners of War captured by the Federal Government;
    Abraham Lincoln Incorporated All Federal Owned Property, Programs, Territories, even those in the South;
    Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act, which allows Americans not taking up arms against the Union, to now claim, own, and be granted 160 to 320 acres of land freely, to help generate revenues for the war efforts.
    With this, and the death of Lincoln himself, the Federal At-Large Powers created a Federal, Militarized Territory called the United States Land Company, to which became a British Banking Cartel, to which the Bank of London gained control of the Federal Government, to which Congress agrees to adopt the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 to which consolidated the area.

    Under the “act” – the Counties of Wasington, City of Washington, Anacostia, Georgetown, TenleyTown, and the District of Columbia itself, the “U.S Government” to which led to establishing One Government Unit, which would be led by, and controlled by an Appointed Governor, Secretary, a 22 Member Legislative Council, a Judiciary, to which by 1874, Congress adopted, and created the Municipal Corporate Government further led by a Mayor and Nine-Member D.C Council to which governed D.C.

    This Federal Territory, today has become known as the United States Land Company, to which acts as a Economic Trade Corporation, to which holds land holdings throughout the United States – National Parks, Nature Areas, Military Bases, Administration Buildings, Court Buildings, Federal Highways, Roads, to which today, all the “States of the Union” today have become mere Federal Districts, contractually bound to, and governed by this Municipal Corporate Government, which today, ‘acts’ as the District of Columbia aka United States Land Company.

    Between 1890, and on through 1939, this Corporate United States has added new Departments, Agencies, to which has bound the “American States to the Capitalistic, Federal Reserve Trade System, a Group of Private Bankers to whom today purchase U.S Treasury Notes, Bonds, to which are sold to Foreign Investors, with the goal to Finance, and Control the Government Unit.

    This came to be known as The Morgan-Belmont Syndicate, a group of private bankers who had agreed to all the U.S Treasury Bonds, allowing the Federal Government to restock the treasury, with bank notes. The members of this syndicate became known by the contract as the following – Drexel, Morgan Co, the J.S Morgan Co, and N.M Rothschilds and Sons, the syndicate achieved its goals through a combination of purchasing gold from smelters, convincing its members to purchase Treasury bonds with gold, inspiring confidence in bond and railroad securities investors, and unofficial capital controls by convincing members, and gold-exporting houses to ship “no gold” overseas.

    Today, the United States of America is operated, and managed by a Small, Globalist Group of People, to which have gained their authority through the Trilateral Commission, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the North America Trade Organization, to which dictate, and maintain control of U.S Foreign Trade Policy, thus binding Americans today to taxes owed, to pay off their investors, to which fund their wars, conquests, and efforts to colonize, and form Democracies around the Globe today.

    If Americans wish to separate from and gain their Independence from this Corporate Government, it is going to take a massive effort, a Revolution of sorts, like none other, to reorganize themselves, with the hope to Restore the Republic of Free States.

    If the State’s can win this Revolution, and get back to their Origins, held under the 1776 Declaration, the 1777 Articles of Compact, the Original Engagement held within the Ordinance of 1788, and the Constitution, they can be Free States Again.

  31. larry kurtz 2023-12-28

    The reading of the Declaration of Independence by members of the reporting staff at NPR on the 4th of July gets me every time. Past on-air personalities, some now correspondents at the pearly gates, also read for this decades-old feature. The tears stream down my face right up to the line that begins:
    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare…
    That’s when it hits me right between the eyes.

    When those words were being written, thousands of cultures inhabited a continent that seemed to keep growing huge ripe plums just waiting for Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and the rest to pick and pick and pick and pick. Already, the Chesapeake Bay estuary had been mostly denuded of native vegetation, not to mention of its former human inhabitants.

    Enslaved people tilled the fields and built the infrastructure, the ancestors of the Lakota and other Siouan groups that had been forced westward out of North Carolina generations earlier, traded with the Spanish and French while forging their own alliances (and marriages) with other indigenous peoples.

    So, we’ve come a long way, init? Hey America: it’s time to wake up and smell the Tsingtao.

    The United States Constitution is the finest instrument ever created by the human hand. The Preamble is the body, the Bill of Rights is the neck, the Amendments are the strings. It is a fluid universal execution of human and civil rights.

    While the Palestinian homeland looks like holes in the slice of Swiss cheese analogous to the illegal Israeli state, progress toward resolutions of Native trust disputes would have far more political traction after tribes secede from the States in which they reside and then be ratified to form one State, the 51st, sans contiguous borders with two Senators and two House members as there are an estimated 2.5 million indigenous living on reservations.

    Every federal department and agency already recognize Native America as the 51st State.

    It’s time for all Americans to enjoy the protection of law by being part of one nation: erase the artificial borders and grant Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to all the people of North America…Mexico, Central America, Canada, even the Caribbean if they’ll have us.

    I’m not a New World Order guy, don’t support the North American Union (god bless you. please, mr. roddenberry) and I believe the US Constitution is a big enough canvas in order to paint a more perfect masterpiece, a big enough score for all to sing. No violence. No more drug wars.

    Read Alaska’s constitution some time. The last states ratified are the most egalitarian. Let’s debate it then draft a dream referendum to be delivered by and for the people of Mexico to dissolve their constitution and petition for Statehood as our 52nd State. Quebec could be the 53rd and Cuba, the 54th.

    The United States is the Hamiltonian Empire Thomas Jefferson warned us about. Resistance is futile.

    Sí, se puede.

  32. Dicta 2023-12-28

    Good, quality content. Walls of text written as though it were propelled by a fever dream while Cory sits on his hands and counts his site hits. Good stuff here, Cory. Not feckless at all.

  33. Dicta 2023-12-28

    Hey, since actual facts and length seem to not matter anymore, I am now going to join in the fun. GOOD, QUALITY DISCUSSION WE ARE CREATING HERE, CORY. THANKS AGAIN.

    In the annals of history, the birth of the United States is often depicted as a struggle for independence against the British Crown. However, a little-known and controversial theory suggests that the formation of the nation was not solely a terrestrial endeavor. According to this speculative narrative, an extraterrestrial race known as the Krebnak played a clandestine yet pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War.

    As the story goes, the Krebnak, a highly advanced and benevolent alien species, forged an alliance with a group of rebels seeking independence from British rule. This alliance reportedly came to fruition in the late 18th century when the Krebnak provided the rebels with cutting-edge technology, including advanced space lasers that proved instrumental in turning the tide of the conflict. Allegedly, these extraterrestrial interventions were discreetly executed, leaving little trace in historical records, and were crucial in enabling the fledgling nation to break free from colonial shackles.

    While mainstream historians dismiss these claims as mere science fiction, proponents of the Krebnak theory argue that the gaps in historical records and the mysterious technological advancements of the time provide a plausible backdrop for such a scenario. They point to unexplained phenomena during pivotal battles and the sudden emergence of advanced weaponry as potential evidence of extraterrestrial involvement.

    Skeptics, however, argue that attributing the birth of the United States to alien intervention diminishes the agency and resilience of the human actors involved. They emphasize the well-documented struggles, sacrifices, and strategic brilliance of figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, suggesting that the idea of an alien-assisted revolution undermines the historical narrative that celebrates human determination and ingenuity.

    Ultimately, the notion of the Krebnak’s involvement in the formation of the United States remains a speculative and fringe theory within the realm of alternative history. While it may capture the imagination of those fascinated by the intersection of extraterrestrial lore and historical events, the mainstream historical consensus continues to anchor the founding of the United States firmly in the struggles and triumphs of its human architects.

  34. Eve Fisher 2023-12-28

    The word “God” does not appear anywhere in the United States Constitution.
    The Pledge of Allegiance did not include the words “under God” until June 14, 1954, when President Eisenhower signed a bill to do it, as a response to the Cold War with the USSR.

    But, ever since the 1950s, if not before, certain schools of thought have been trying to explain that our Founding Fathers (mostly Deists) were actually devout conservative Christians who opposed all of the Bill of Rights except, of course, the 2nd Amendment, and especially did not mean that the1st Amendment should be taken literally. For example, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” actually meant that the United States was to be a Christian nation, under Christian rules and laws, and there should be no separation between church and state, despite then President Jefferson’s written statement that the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses together built “a wall of separation between church and state.”

    I would be more amused by the mental gymnastics they do in their arguments against the 1st Amendment, and the writings of the Founding Fathers and First Presidents, except that – as usual – they have no sense of humor or history, and they are working very hard to set up Calvinist Geneva in America (except, undoubtedly, for themselves).

  35. David Bergan 2023-12-28

    Hi BCB!
    I don’t personally hang my hat on 2 Thessalonians, but John Paul II’s comments on these verses seem compatible with what I’ve said above:

    God is the infinitely good and merciful Father. But man, called to respond to him freely, can unfortunately choose to reject his love and forgiveness once and for all, thus separating himself forever from joyful communion with him. It is precisely this tragic situation that Christian doctrine explains when it speaks of eternal damnation or hell. It is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life. The very dimension of unhappiness which this obscure condition brings can in a certain way be sensed in the light of some of the terrible experiences we have suffered which, as is commonly said, make life “hell.” …

    Whoever continues to be closed to the Gospel is therefore preparing for “eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

    The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell.’”

    “Eternal damnation,” therefore, is not attributed to God’s initiative because in his merciful love he can only desire the salvation of the beings he created. In reality, it is the creature who closes himself to his love. Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person

    My only qualm here is that I don’t see why death would make a permanent separation. I don’t have any special insight into the afterlife, but by my lights, the statement “in his merciful love he can only desire the salvation of the beings he created” should apply to souls in the afterlife as well those alive on Earth.

    Thus, for me, one who is damned is perpetually, freely, resisting God. Incurvatus in se.

    And personally, I hope that in the end no soul resists like that forever.

    Kind regards,

  36. bearcreekbat 2023-12-28

    David, while the current Pope has exhibited a social conscience that seems miles above some of his predecessors, the problem remains that the plain language of the Bible often must be explained away to find any meaningful moral ground. The idea that these words don’t really mean what they appear to mean on the surface also seems to diminish the alleged divine nature of the Bible, as God’s words are apparently unclear as to what they mean, and so must be interpreted and explained by the more intelligent theists among us.

    In any event I appreciate the Pope’s argument, as well as your musings. Happy New Year to you!!

  37. David Bergan 2023-12-28

    Hi BCB!

    I sympathize with your position. My approach to the Bible (and everything else, like, say, Sartre, Cory, Sam Harris, the Koran, Confucius, etc.) is to take what is good and apply it to my life, and set the rest aside. My whole life I’ve struggled against people who insist that just because something is in the Bible, it’s therefore inerrant. I don’t think that’s a reasonable position, and I don’t think that’s how Jesus treated his Bible. He carried forward the good things from the Old Testament and set aside (or actively overturned) other things like dietary and Sabbath restrictions. Paul likewise freed his congregations from a lot of the Jewish law.

    “the problem remains that the plain language of the Bible often must be explained away to find any meaningful moral ground”

    This statement goes too far, does it not? Does “Love your enemy” need to be explained away to find any meaningful moral ground? Or how about:

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
    “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”
    “He who is without sin shall cast the first stone.”
    “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.”
    “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor.”
    “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
    “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
    “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

    There are, no doubt, hard verses in the Bible… and if you insist on being a fundamentalist, you will have to explain those away to keep your presuppositions intact. But I don’t think either of us are inclined in that direction.

    But since we’re seeking to truly know what God and the afterlife might be like, we have to weigh your verses of 2nd Thessalonians against, say, the parable of the Prodigal Son. In one we have God as a just judge doling out eternal vengeance on wrongdoers and unbelievers, and in the other he’s a loving father, who despite being disowned by his son, runs out to embrace the son as soon as he recognizes his error and moves toward reconciliation. To me the latter is the superior understanding of God and doesn’t need any explaining away.

    I apply the Prodigal Son story to my life and set aside the Thessalonian verses. How about you?

    Kind regards,

  38. bearcreekbat 2023-12-28

    David, I agree that one can isolate any verse from the Bible and ignore contradictory verses that one finds unsupportive. Indeed, that seems to be the way many in the political word can justify their beliefs – find whatever might be consistent with that view while disregarding the rest. In other words, follow the old adage: “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts!”

    Personally, I am fascinated by the Bible and enjoy it immensely. but it provides no meaning whatsoever in my life. I choose to forgive or help others as my own choice, not because some Bible verse encourages (or more precisely demands) that behavior under promise of reward or threats of damnation. Indeed, taken as a whole, rather than trying to find only verses I like, I find the Bible to be more of a horror story with an amazing amount of cruelty and arbitrary infliction of pain and death upon innocent folks, like the babies and kids killed by God during passover, and the purported promise of Jesus to torture Jezebel and kill her children in Revelation 2:23 (incidentally, I have had some well meaning theologians explain to me that this verse doesn’t mean what it says either!).

    So, no I do not apply the good or bad parts of the Bible or other writings to my life. Rather, I read and think about these writings in an effort to understand the nature of humanity, and, the Bible as a whole paints a pretty ugly picture of humanity. But I have no quarrel with others, like yourself, that try to apply the good in the Bible to their lives. I suppose the problem arises, however, in deciding what is the good – such as forgiving others or killing unbelievers, etc. As my spouse asks, “how many wars are based upon religion?”

  39. Dicta 2023-12-28

    The Bible painting an ugly picture of humans and humanity generally is the most accurate thing about it.

  40. grudznick 2023-12-28

    grudznick’s favorite character in the Bible is Mr. Billy Budd. There was a fellow, Mr. bat from bear creek, Melville was his name, who spun an entertaining yarn about Billy Budd as well.

  41. David Bergan 2023-12-28

    Hi BCB!

    Thank you for the reply! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.

    “Indeed, that seems to be the way many in the political word can justify their beliefs – find whatever might be consistent with that view while disregarding the rest.”

    This line is peculiar to me… would you prefer that politicians/Christians actively apply the “horror story”, “cruelty”, and “pain” parts of the Bible in their communities? If so, why? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if believers set those aspects aside? I mean, usually liberals prefer moderate believers to the fundamentalists… do you prefer the fundamentalists?

    Analogously, Isaac Newton did some amazing scientific reasoning, but not everything he wrote about was correct. Should a modern physics class keep teaching his errors as though they were true? Are scientists being disingenuous if they only carry forward his good insights and set aside his bad ones?

    “like the babies and kids killed by God during passover”

    Just a quick tangent on this one… Are you equally horrified by the Egyptians who killed all the male Hebrew babies in chapter 1? The Egyptians losing only their firstborn sons was a less-than-proportionate retribution to what the Egyptians did to the Hebrews. (Granted, neither side was loving their enemy, they both had room for moral improvement. I just think that both sides of the baby-killing need to be held in mind simultaneously.)

    “and the purported promise of Jesus to torture Jezebel and kill her children in Revelation 2:23 (incidentally, I have had some well meaning theologians explain to me that this verse doesn’t mean what it says either!).”

    I don’t understand John’s Revelation. I side with Martin Luther in wanting to remove that book from the New Testament entirely. I truly don’t know what value it has ever had to the church, and its perennial misinterpretations have caused confusion, pain, and embarrassment throughout history.

    If Revelation was not canonized, would you consider it differently? I mean, there are other old texts like the Revelation of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas that speak about Jesus but weren’t carried forward.

    “I choose to forgive or help others as my own choice, not because some Bible verse encourages (or more precisely demands) that behavior under promise of reward or threats of damnation.” …
    “I suppose the problem arises, however, in deciding what is the good”

    If you don’t mind, please continue this line of reasoning for me. How do you decide what is and isn’t good? Why do you choose to help others? Is forgiving your brother better than killing him? Do you make your moral choices for selfless reasons or selfish ones?

    [For me, I went through the agony of forgiving people who hurt me badly when I decided it was better for all of us here and now on Earth. I wasn’t inclined to do that. I wasn’t a believer at the time, so it wasn’t for the afterlife. I fought it for a long time. I finally went through with forgiving because Jesus suggested it was a better way to live, and I could imagine how that outcome was better than my status quo of me nursing my grudge. On this side of that experience, I can definitively say that Jesus was right.

    If my motives are for a better life for all of us (or just me) here and now on Earth is that more or less pure than someone whose motives are for a reward in the afterlife? I mean I clearly and tangibly benefit from anything I do to foster “peace on Earth”. Is that quid pro quo? Meanwhile, one may not actually get any benefits doing things for the sweet by-and-by.]

    Kind regards,

  42. larry kurtz 2023-12-28

    Kiteo, his eyes closed. Kadir beneath Mo Moteh. Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya. Ubaya of crossroads, at Lungha. Lungha, her sky gray.

  43. larry kurtz 2023-12-28

    Bombing Bethlehem
    Is Netanyahu’s daily
    Biblical reverence.

  44. larry kurtz 2023-12-28

    Bloodthirsty Bibi
    Murders Palestinians
    Because Zionism.

  45. bearcreekbat 2023-12-29

    David, you raise some interesting questions, although some seem rhetorical since the answers may be a bit obvious.

    Would I prefer that politicians/Christians actively apply the “horror story”, “cruelty”, and “pain” parts of the Bible in their communities? Of course not.

    I fail to see any connection at all to the teaching of religious dogma and the teaching of science. Of course modern physic teachers should not teach prior errors as if true.

    I am equally horrified by the killing of innocents by Egyptians or anyone else, including the killing of babies by the government of Israel as “”retribution” to what Hamas murderers did to innocent Israelites.

    It is interesting that you would contend the book of Revelation should be removed from the New Testament entirely. Once removed would you also repress it altogether, or simply contend that whoever claimed it to be the “word of God” was mistaken? Would you also advocate removing other parts of the Bible that describe cruel and abusive behavior purporting to be by God or instigated by God? If not, what makes Revelation any worse than some of the other atrocities described throughout the Bible?

    I doubt that if Revelation had never been canonized, that I would consider it differently, since for me canonization gives it no more credibility or moral standing.

    I guess I personally decide what is and isn’t good based on all of the moral teachings I have experienced in my life, including many of the ideas presented in the Bible. I suspect my own moral choices are made for selfish reasons, as such choices usually give me some pleasure and satisfaction. As for attempting to rank which motives are better than others, that strikes me as an unproductive endeavor.

  46. David Bergan 2023-12-30

    Hi BCB!

    If it were up to me, the canon would simply be the 4 gospels.

    There are brilliant moments in the other NT (and OT) books (1 Cor 13, Phil 2, Psalms 23, etc.). But there are also brilliant spiritual insights in Augustine, Plato, George MacDonald, Julian of Norwich, and many others.

    Your words about cruel and abusive behavior purporting to be by God brought the following to mind:

    “[The] dangers of believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him ‘good’ and worshiping Him, is still greater danger. The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible.”

    If you’re interested in continuing the discussion, I’m curious what exactly you are appealing to when you indict behavior that horrifies you. Is it just your personal preference? Or is there a standard of goodness that you’re invoking… one that says a good person, government, or god ought not slay innocent children?

    Thank you, as always, for your thoughts. Happy New Year!

    Kind regards,

  47. e platypus onion 2023-12-31

    If it were up to me, the canon would be placed against phony magat kristian heads when touched off. It isn’t like those heads are used for anything.except spreading falsehoods.

  48. larry kurtz 2023-12-31

    If there is a divine creator why would It even care whether one of Its most destructive, malevolent and criminal creations chooses to restrict population growth? Republicans suffer from a disease that influences their eschatologies because they worship a supernatural extraterrestrial as the ‘son of god’ and believe It is coming to Earth to rule under a one-world government. $20 says no one can prove to this interested party that humanity is anything other than a force for utter destruction. Our species will be the instrument to extinguish all life on Earth and some divine thing cares whether we off ourselves? That anyone believes anybody can hold any moral high ground cements humanity’s doom.

  49. bearcreekbat 2023-12-31

    David, I personally judge horrific behavior based on a lifetime of influences, reflection and exposure to values. One might characterize that as “personal preference,” as it is a result of my own selections from a myriad of ethical ideas that I have been exposed to over my lifetime. I don’t know whether this is better or worse than picking some specific text, system or code, such as the Bible, for all one’s ethical guidance, but my eclectic approach seems the most accurate explanation of how my own personal value system has been formed.

    Although I have not been a student of C.S. Lewis’ writings, on the surface your quote from his letter would seem to suggest that Lewis is choosing his own “personal preference” by rejecting the supposed inerrancy of the Bible and substituting his own “doctrine of the goodness of God.” Am I understanding him correctly?

    Happy New Year to you too!

  50. Dicta 2023-12-31

    Horrific behavior… like a blog owner who continuously ignores the ramblings of a mentally ill man that descends into racism because it gets him site hits? Yeah, I guess principles dont often extend beyond our own nose.

  51. grudznick 2023-12-31

    Mr. Dicta, grudznick’s good friend Lar is not mentally ill, nor rambling. He is typing in an obscure language from the Star Treks.

  52. Dicta 2023-12-31

    Its hard to pick out the best from Zitt’s hits. Was it comparing a black woman to an ape? Or commenting on her “big lips?” Maybe it was him telling women to keep their legs together. And Cory sits by like the feckless, pseudo-intellectual he is.

  53. Mike Zitterich 2023-12-31

    I do not break the rules, as a former race car driver, we are taught to push the rules as far as they will go, finding the grey area. IT is not my job to create rules for this forum, it is the board of governors of Dakota Free Press to make the rules, or close the grey area. Until then, I will continue to push the rules as far as I am willing to go without breaking the rule. I am respectful, Mild mannered, and never hate on anyone.

  54. grudznick 2023-12-31

    Be careful, Mr. Zitterich. You might flame out and get burned up, and you had only the skill Gary had in his little finger. Your spectrum rears its head, and your eyes bug out with insanerism. If grudznick lived in your precinct, I would sign the petition to have you run for the legislatures where you would fare well.

  55. e platypus onion 2023-12-31

    Be kind to dumb animals year coming up. Someone needs to warn the rabbit hole refugee 6G is on its way so he can excavate his holes so deep he never will find his way back. Happy New Year to all except Zit and JD.

  56. e platypus onion 2023-12-31

    and magats. I almost forgot the scum of the earth.

  57. David Bergan 2024-01-01

    Hi BCB!

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

    I think your approach is very similar to both mine and probably Lewis’s, too. I don’t see a difference between your “selections from a myriad of ethical ideas that I have been exposed to over my lifetime” and my “take what is good and apply it to my life, and set the rest aside.” (If I’m missing an important distinction, let me know.)

    That said, I wouldn’t characterize my moral selections as a ‘preference’. There is something qualitatively different between moral values and preferences. Liking pancakes more than French toast is just a personal preference. Both would satisfy my hunger, but I enjoy the taste and texture of one more than the other. And it doesn’t bother me one bit if someone else has the opposite preference. I don’t hold them as someone I can’t be around.

    But me liking cooperation more than backstabbing is something different than that. There is an intuition involved that cooperation is the right thing to do because it’s better for all of us. At scale, cooperation lifts everyone up the spiral staircase. A culture of backstabbing does the opposite.

    And there’s a self-contradiction involved with backstabbing insofar as the backstabber would not want to be stabbed in his own back. Cooperation has no such contradiction.

    I remember one of our first conversations, probably ten years ago now, when you told me that my use of the term “illegal immigrant” was offensive. You didn’t introduce it as just a preference, like, “David, I don’t like to hear that word.” Instead, it was explained how the label “illegal” affects the self-worth of peaceful people in that situation, and my using that phrase takes us down the spiral staircase, so to speak. Once I grasped your point, I apologized for my ignorance, and have applied that good to my life ever since. What happened there was something different than, “David, I don’t like pancakes.” An intuitive and transcendent principle was involved. You were showing me how my word choice ran down people that I wasn’t intending to run down, with the hope I wouldn’t wish ill will upon my neighbors in that way. And I think you reference the same sort of principles when you tell me you are horrified by the descriptions in Exodus.

    What is this ideal… this ineffable intuitive set of principles that I should strive toward? It’s not something in me, because I make mistakes and the ideal never does. The ideal isn’t compromised when I want something selfish in a given moment. When I compare my behavior to the ideal, I come up short. I haven’t sold all that I have and given it to the poor. I chronically procrastinate. I scratch itches. I appease my dopamine cycle. I take the last cookie. I give in to temptations to think myself superior to other people.

    The ideal is real, though. It’s what you and Lewis and I use to discern goodness in and out of the Bible. It’s what prioritizes The Prodigal Son above a literal reading of 2 Thessalonians 1.

    Sam Harris, ironically, had one of the biggest effects on my prayer life. I was using his Waking Up app for meditation and eventually he introduced Metta meditation. The exercise there was to think of someone in your life and repeat mantras wishing that person to be well, happy, at peace, and prosperous for about 20 minutes straight. Shortly thereafter, he had other meditations on gratitude and thankfulness. While doing these, it hit me, that for years I had the wrong understanding of prayer. I thought prayer was putting in requests for God to do something supernaturally… and that felt kind of silly because wouldn’t an all-knowing God already be taking care of the world in the best possible way? But Sam had no expectation for any supernatural outcomes in his meditations. He’s encouraging these prayer-like practices because it’s a “new operating system for your mind.”

    That’s where it became clear to me that prayer is primarily about lifting my heart and mind up to the ideal. The more time my mind spends in that contemplation, the more it shapes my impulses to be grateful, to quickly forgive, and to serve, help, and be generous. When I daily pray for a friend who is going through a tough divorce, and a family member who’s struggling with a medical issue, it’s not an expectation for a magical result, but a place when I can integrate a specific act of love (willing their best) into my mental operating system. And a reminder to check in on them, to see how they’re doing, and offer help in whatever way I can.

    Kind regards,

    PS O, sorry I missed your reply on 12/27. Yes, that verse is fantastic, and I like your application! If I recall correctly, that’s the one that Mother Theresa based her ministry on.

  58. bearcreekbat 2024-01-02

    David, it does appear that we share a similar value system and even the basis for that system seems similar. As for “preference” affecting one’s value system, it may be, in effect, a matter of semantics. For example, it doesn’t seem off base to assert that “I prefer cooperation over backstabbing” and the reason for my choice is that “I prefer not to be stabbed in the back.” That reason seems to me to be just as much as a preference as the resulting preference. I can even imagine an individual that prefers to be hurt, such as a masochist, that still prefers not to hurt other people. In any event, whatever the source of our reasoning or terminology we use, it sure appears that we share many, if not most values.

    I once saw Sam Harris in a debate with a Christian apologist (whose name I have forgotten). He is a very interesting person with a powerful presence. I recall his parting behest, which ironically was exactly the same as the parting behest of the Christian – “Read the Bible.” His take on “meditation” and your “prayer” interpretation is interesting. I think most people agree with your initial thoughts about prayer, namely, asking for help or intervention from a divine source. Personally, neither has appealed to me in the last 50 or so years of my life Currently I am an old fart and have apparently outgrown some quite different views and experiences in younger days).

  59. David Bergan 2024-01-05

    Hi BCB!

    Thanks for your reply! I can see how choosing cooperation over backstabbing can be framed from your personal preferences, but I think you smuggled in a presumption of reciprocity. I mean, both you and a thug would prefer not to be stabbed in the back… but the thug may still prefer to backstab others whenever it’s to his advantage. He doesn’t prefer the golden rule the way you do, he prefers being a hypocrite (even though he wouldn’t say so out loud).

    That principle of reciprocity is a major component of the ideal I was referring to. Reciprocity is the right thing to do because it’s (generally speaking) better for all of us. The preferences of those who choose self-dealing in violation of reciprocity are not “good”.

    Secondly, how does a framing of morality as a collection of personal preferences assess courage? It seems that courage is, by definition, doing something that one would prefer not to do. I certainly would prefer not to run ill-equipped into a burning building. But if there’s a crying infant inside and no one else is around, what is telling me to override my personal preferences for life and safety?

    Kind regards,

  60. bearcreekbat 2024-01-06

    David, from my perspective an act of courage is simply a choice between alternatives, which seems to fit squarely within the definition of preference. The choice to act courageously is made because that choice is preferred over other perceived choices. The idea that this preferred choice may be painful or threatening must be balanced against the idea that doing something different can be perceived as being even more painful or damaging. If I have an opportunity to run into a burning building to save someone, I can decide that I receive more benefit by doing this than living with the knowledge I declined the effort to save someone in danger, such as the crying infant. Some might call the exercise of such a preference as choosing the lesser evil. Take care.

  61. David Bergan 2024-01-09

    Hi BCB!

    Is it possible to carry out a choice that is not one’s preference? The definitions of choice and preference might be the crux of my confusion here.

    Kind regards,

  62. bearcreekbat 2024-01-09

    David, to me preference implies knowledge of the nature of alternative or alternatives. Thus a choice could escape being classified as a preference if it is matter of making a random pick between two or more unknown alternatives, such as picking door #1, #2 or #3 on the old Let’s Make a Deal quiz show or picking a box on Deal or No Deal.

  63. David Bergan 2024-01-09

    Hi BCB!

    Sure, that makes sense when the outcomes are unknowable. But when they are knowable, would you say it’s impossible for me to truly prefer, say, pancakes, and when I instead choose French toast from a menu that has both?

    I mean, I feel like a lot of moral decisions in my life have involved me wanting to do one thing, the thing that I would say is my preference or inclination, but instead I did something else because it was the right thing to do, or it was my duty.

    For example, it might be a drunk’s “preference” to go to the bar one night, but instead he chooses to stay home and play a game of chess with his son… all the while, wishing he was instead at the bar. It sounds like you would say that his true preference was to stay home because that is what he did. If so, what word or phrase better describes his “preference” to go to the bar?

    Kind regards,

  64. bearcreekbat 2024-01-10

    David, I view the exercise of choosing a preference as an event at a specific point in the time during one’s existence with the ability to choose. One might choose to stay home and play chess at 9 p.m. and then abandon the game and head back to the bar at 9:01, 9;15, 10:00 or at any time thereafter. Each choice reflects the preference of the individual only at the time the choice is made, but neither locks in that preference nor reflects some pre-existing locked in preference.

    I think preference can also describe what thoughts we focus on, such as wishing he was at the bar during his time at home, since wishing is an intentional act, in contrast to arbitrary thoughts that may come and go. My experience with consciousness is such that I am generally able to direct my thoughts if I choose to, and in such cases that is also the exercise of my own immediate preferential choices.

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