As always when discussing religious beliefs, I want to start with a caveat: I am not God, nor do I think I have any special message from Heaven that only I can hear. If God is speaking to me (and I wouldn’t ever dare to tell God what He can and can’t do), He’s being quiet about it. My authority is only that which comes from a lifetime of study, checking with experts, a decent knowledge of history, and the original text (as best as I can determine).
What I have to say may well be of interest to Christians and mystics; it might also very well be of service to those who have only a passing knowledge of the Bible but are well up on current politics.
Across social media, we’ve all doubtless seen memes about the Sign or Number or Mark of the Beast and how it relates to the Coronavirus. Perhaps you’re one of those whose only other encounter with it was during a Supernatural episode, or perhaps watching the movie Constantine. So let me tell you a bit about where it comes from.
Today, the House G.O.P. selected a new leader for their Conference to replace Liz Cheney. Rather than a divisive conspiracy theorist or a decrepit senior member, they went with newcomer and relative unknown Elise Stefanik, a moderate representing New York’s border North Country.
But who is Elise Stefanik — really? Well, here are a few things you should know.
No headlines say this. A few lines in some of the financial papers hint at it, explaining why every rideshare and gig delivery company just took a massive stock hit. Frankly, when it comes to hard news, it’s tough to go wrong with the financials.
On Wednesday the 5th, President Biden’s Department of Labor issued a reversal for the Trump-era “final rule” that defined most gig workers as non-employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In an interview, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh explained that this was designed to make gig workers eligible for the benefits everyone else gets. In reality, what it’ll do is force the contracting companies to limit worker hours, particularly during slow periods, so they aren’t suddenly required to pay overtime for someone who’s just sitting around doing nothing. For customers, it’s going to be just that much harder to get a ride at odd hours or to get food delivered.
Your elderly parents trust Tucker Carlson and refuse to wear a mask no matter how much you beg them. Uncle Gene is getting secret messages from Q about the Conspiracy and is convinced that Trump won the election and that mass arrests of Congress are coming soon. Your college friends have moved to Portland to join the Resistance, and your ex just dropped out of Harvard Law to become a cop. Meanwhile, the president you worked hard to help elect has backtracked on his campaign promises so far that not only is he not legalizing marijuana and mass-pardoning prisoners, instead he’s banning menthol cigarettes.
It’s highly unusual for a new president to address Congress within his first year, much less his first hundred days. With a near-deserted hall (thanks to COVID) in a fortified building surrounded by heavily armed riot police and not a few National Guardsmen, tonight’s address made history in several ways.
What wasn’t unusual was the content. Although it was delivered in an almost informal, folksy style, we heard exactly what we expected to. The tone was optimistic, and the message was clear: Biden laid out his agenda for the coming months, and he expects to make it happen. How, exactly, is another question entirely.
In the last article, the statement was made that “it’s because of the First Amendment that the Second can be discussed”. The price of freedom is freedom; the ability to discuss a topic makes it inevitable that such topic will be brought up. As such, it well behooves us to be prepared for that conversation when it comes, whether on a personal or a national level.
Those four words invoke a thousand images: rows of crosses on foreign shores, a kneeling Marine in dress blues handing a folded flag to a small boy, a uniformed man with no legs saluting as the flag goes by in a parade.
That’s where the mind goes, and with good reason. A lot of good men and women have fought and died to preserve our freedom, and we should honor that sacrifice. There are those who will scoff, saying things like “fighting for oil” and the “military-industrial complex” — but that’s not disagreeing; we need to make absolutely certain that, in the future, we never go to war for less than a righteous cause, or we dishonor the price that will be paid.
Worthy though that sentiment is, however, that’s not what I came here to say today.
It’s happened again: We’ve had yet another mass shooting. Just between us, as more and more people start coming out of their year-long lockdowns, I predict we’re going to have a fair number more. We got a year off from them, but that just means we’ve had people become crazy at the normal rate… but they didn’t have obvious targets and so kept right on stewing in their basements.
Plus, every time there’s one of these shown on CNN, it seems other nuts see the television coverage and get inspired to do one of their own — as though being a copycat nut-job is somehow better than the first one, who might have been honestly acting out his own selfish frustrations on innocents rather than pretending to for the free press.
Don’t get me wrong: They’re both foul and almost inhumanly selfish. But the copycat is at least partly after the attention, which is worse — people’s lives are more valuable than that.