09 July 2016

MY 2 cents ... for what it's worth !

In wake of all the violence abounding in America of late, I thought that I'd get my two cents in ... it is MY blog after all. After the Dallas shooting of Law Enforcement officers ... I must comment. There is NO excuse for this. This is NOT an act of protest!!! This is an act of terrorism and is cold blooded murder. Anyone who thinks that is a backlash of recent "officer involved" shooting is seriously deluded ... up to and including our Muslim Commander-in-Chief. And ... listen up people ... GUNS DID NOT CAUSE this violence, and stricter gun laws on law abiding citizens will not quell these incidents of violence. There are numerous shootings and deaths (the greatest amount of them are Black-on-Black shootings) ... DAILY  ... in this country. Would you care to make a guess on how many involve citizens who have LEGALLY purchased a firearm? Gun Control laws do not affect a criminal's ability to possess firearms, they only inhibit the law abiding citizen from possessing a means of defending himself and his family (and other potential victims). Look at Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and all other totalitarian governments ... their success DEPENDED on an unarmed populace, and that is where our present leadership is attempting to take us! I own a gun and, if I could afford it, I would have a huge stockpile of larger guns and a huge stockpile of ammo ... to protect myself and my loved ones from my government and the ones whom my government protects.
                                                  μολὼν λαβέ (MOLON LABE !!)

17 May 2016

The Future ???



THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE - WORTH YOUR TIME TO READ.
    In the 1990s Ray Kurzweil, MIT Professor, wrote "The Age of Intelligent Machines" and "The Age of Spiritual Machines". In these works he gave us a glimpse of the future. What he described was amazing but also, as time has shown, true in many ways. The short narrative below goes one step further and describes a near term future that we can see unfolding right now. Please take a moment and read this overview. For some it will be terrifying!
    In 1998, KODAK had 170,000 EMPLOYEES and sold 85% of ALL Photo Paper WORLDWIDE. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years - and most people don't see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?  Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore's law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years.
   It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. WELCOME TO THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
   Welcome to the Exponential Age. Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.
   Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don't get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humansSO IF YOU STUDY LAW, STOP IMMEDIATELY. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a face pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
   Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don't want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver's license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km.  That will save a million lives each year.  Most car companies might become bankrupt.  Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.  I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.  Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper.  Their car insurance business model will disappear.
   REAL ESTATE WILL CHANGE:  Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.  Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020.  Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil.  The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
   WATER: With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water.  Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter.  We don't have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water.  Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
   HEALTH: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year.  There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the "Tricorder" from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.
   3D PRINTING: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000$ to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.  At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-story office building.  By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed.
   BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: "in the future, do you think we will have that?" and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?  If it doesn't work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.
   WORK: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
   AGRICULTURE: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows.  Imagine if we don't need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly.  It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as "alternative protein source" (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).
   There is an app called "moodies" which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it's being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.
   Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.
   LONGEVITY: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it's 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long, long time, probably way more than 100.
   EDUCATION: The cheapest smartphones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. We have already released our software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese this summer, because I see an enormous potential. We will give the English app for free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.

10 May 2016

The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement

   This is a MUST-READ article for anyone concerned with the matter of Black Lives Matter, and for any who support our nation's Law Officers. It is from a publication called imprimis which is published by Hillsdale College. All Bold type is mine.



Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in English from Cambridge University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She writes for several newspapers and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Criterion, and Public Interest, and is the author of three books, including Are Cops Racist? and The War on Cops: How The New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe (forthcoming June 2016).
      The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 27, 2016, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.

   For almost two years, a protest movement known as “Black Lives Matter” has convulsed the nation. Triggered by the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement holds that racist police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men today. This belief has triggered riots, “die-ins,” the murder and attempted murder of police officers, a campaign to eliminate traditional grand jury proceedings when police use lethal force, and a presidential task force on policing.
   Even though the U.S. Justice Department has resoundingly dis-proven the lie that a pacific Michael Brown was shot in cold blood while trying to surrender, Brown is still venerated as a martyr. And now police officers are backing off of proactive policing in the face of the relentless venom directed at them on the street and in the media. As a result, violent crime is on the rise.
   The need is urgent, therefore, to examine the Black Lives Matter movement’s central thesis—that police pose the greatest threat to young black men. I propose two counter hypotheses: first, that there is no government agency more dedicated to the idea that black lives matter than the police; and second, that we have been talking obsessively about alleged police racism over the last 20 years in order to avoid talking about a far larger problem—black-on-black crime.
   Let’s be clear at the outset: police have an indefeasible obligation to treat everyone with courtesy and respect, and to act within the confines of the law. Too often, officers develop a hardened, obnoxious attitude. It is also true that being stopped when you are innocent of any wrongdoing is infuriating, humiliating, and sometimes terrifying. And needless to say, every unjustified police shooting of an unarmed civilian is a stomach-churning tragedy.
   Given the history of racism in this country and the complicity of the police in that history, police shootings of black men are particularly and understandably fraught. That history informs how many people view the police. But however intolerable and inexcusable every act of police brutality is, and while we need to make sure that the police are properly trained in the Constitution and in courtesy, there is a larger reality behind the issue of policing, crime, and race that remains a taboo topic. The problem of black-on-black crime is an uncomfortable truth, but unless we acknowledge it, we won’t get very far in understanding patterns of policing.
   Every year, approximately 6,000 blacks are murdered. This is a number greater than white and Hispanic homicide victims combined, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the national population. Blacks are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. In Los Angeles, blacks between the ages of 20 and 24 die at a rate 20 to 30 times the national mean. Who is killing them? Not the police, and not white civilians, but other blacks. The astronomical black death-by-homicide rate is a function of the black crime rate. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined. Blacks of all ages commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined, and at eleven times the rate of whites alone.
   The police could end all lethal uses of force tomorrow and it would have at most a trivial effect on the black death-by-homicide rate. The nation’s police killed 987 civilians in 2015, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post. Whites were 50 percent—or 493—of those victims, and blacks were 26 percent—or 258. Most of those victims of police shootings, white and black, were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force.
   The black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26 percent of police victims would be black. Officer use of force will occur where the police interact most often with violent criminals, armed suspects, and those resisting arrest, and that is in black neighborhoods. In America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, for example, blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants, 57 percent of all murder defendants, 45 percent of all assault defendants—but only 15 percent of the population.
   Moreover, 40 percent of all cop killers have been black over the last decade. And a larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths are a result of police killings than black homicide deaths—but don’t expect to hear that from the media or from the political enablers of the Black Lives Matter movement. Twelve percent of all white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by police officers, compared to four percent of all black homicide victims. If we’re going to have a “Lives Matter” anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter.”
   Standard anti-cop ideology, whether emanating from the ACLU or the academy, holds that law enforcement actions are racist if they don’t mirror population data. New York City illustrates why that expectation is so misguided. Blacks make up 23 percent of New York City’s population, but they commit 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime, according to victims and witnesses. Add Hispanic shootings and you account for 98 percent of all illegal gunfire in the city. Whites are 33 percent of the city’s population, but they commit fewer than two percent of all shootings, four percent of all robberies, and five percent of all violent crime. These disparities mean that virtually every time the police in New York are called out on a gun run—meaning that someone has just been shot—they are being summoned to minority neighborhoods looking for minority suspects.
  Officers hope against hope that they will receive descriptions of white shooting suspects, but it almost never happens. This incidence of crime means that innocent black men have a much higher chance than innocent white men of being stopped by the police because they match the description of a suspect. This is not something the police choose. It is a reality forced on them by the facts of crime.
   The geographic disparities are also huge. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, the per capita shooting rate is 81 times higher than in nearby Bay Ridge, Brooklyn—the first neighborhood predominantly black, the second neighborhood predominantly white and Asian. As a result, police presence and use of proactive tactics are much higher in Brownsville than in Bay Ridge. Every time there is a shooting, the police will flood the area looking to make stops in order to avert a retaliatory shooting. They are in Brownsville not because of racism, but because they want to provide protection to its many law-abiding residents who deserve safety.
   Who are some of the victims of elevated urban crime? On March 11, 2015, as protesters were once again converging on the Ferguson police headquarters demanding the resignation of the entire department, a six-year-old boy named Marcus Johnson was killed a few miles away in a St. Louis park, the victim of a drive-by shooting. No one protested his killing. Al Sharpton did not demand a federal investigation. Few people outside of his immediate community know his name.
   Ten children under the age of ten were killed in Baltimore last year. In Cleveland, three children five and younger were killed in September. A seven-year-old boy was killed in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend by a bullet intended for his father. In November, a nine-year-old in Chicago was lured into an alley and killed by his father’s gang enemies; the father refused to cooperate with the police. In August, a nine-year-old girl was doing her homework on her mother’s bed in Ferguson when a bullet fired into the house killed her. In Cincinnati in July, a four-year-old girl was shot in the head and a six-year-old girl was left paralyzed and partially blind from two separate drive-by shootings. This mindless violence seems almost to be regarded as normal, given the lack of attention it receives from the same people who would be out in droves if any of these had been police shootings. As horrific as such stories are, crime rates were much higher 20 years ago. In New York City in 1990, for example, there were 2,245 homicides. In 2014 there were 333—a decrease of 85 percent. The drop in New York’s crime rate is the steepest in the nation, but crime has fallen at a historic rate nationwide as well—by about 40 percent—since the early 1990s. The greatest beneficiaries of these declining rates have been minorities. Over 10,000 minority males alive today in New York would be dead if the city’s homicide rate had remained at its early 1990s level.
   What is behind this historic crime drop? A policing revolution that began in New York and spread nationally, and that is now being threatened. Starting in 1994, the top brass of the NYPD embraced the then-radical idea that the police can actually prevent crime, not just respond to it. They started gathering and analyzing crime data on a daily and then hourly basis. They looked for patterns, and strategized on tactics to try to quell crime outbreaks as they were emerging. Equally important, they held commanders accountable for crime in their jurisdictions. Department leaders started meeting weekly with precinct commanders to grill them on crime patterns on their watch. These weekly accountability sessions came to be known as Compstat. They were ruthless, high tension affairs. If a commander was not fully informed about every local crime outbreak and ready with a strategy to combat it, his career was in jeopardy.
   Compstat created a sense of urgency about fighting crime that has never left the NYPD. For decades, the rap against the police was that they ignored crime in minority neighborhoods. Compstat keeps New York commanders focused like a laser beam on where people are being victimized most, and that is in minority communities. Compstat spread nationwide. Departments across the country now send officers to emerging crime hot spots to try to interrupt criminal behavior before it happens.
   In terms of economic stimulus alone, no other government program has come close to the success of data-driven policing. In New York City, businesses that had shunned previously drug-infested areas now set up shop there, offering residents a choice in shopping and creating a demand for workers. Senior citizens felt safe to go to the store or to the post office to pick up their Social Security checks. Children could ride their bikes on city sidewalks without their mothers worrying that they would be shot. But the crime victories of the last two decades, and the moral support on which law and order depends, are now in jeopardy thanks to the falsehoods of the Black Lives Matter movement.
   Police operating in inner-city neighborhoods now find themselves routinely surrounded by cursing, jeering crowds when they make a pedestrian stop or try to arrest a suspect. Sometimes bottles and rocks are thrown. Bystanders stick cell phones in the officers’ faces, daring them to proceed with their duties. Officers are worried about becoming the next racist cop of the week and possibly losing their livelihood thanks to an incomplete cell phone video that inevitably fails to show the antecedents to their use of force. Officer use of force is never pretty, but the public is clueless about how hard it is to subdue a suspect who is determined to resist arrest.
   As a result of the anti-cop campaign of the last two years and the resulting push-back in the streets, officers in urban areas are cutting back on precisely the kind of policing that led to the crime decline of the 1990s and 2000s. Arrests and summons are down, particularly for low-level offenses. Police officers continue to rush to 911 calls when there is already a victim. But when it comes to making discretionary stops—such as getting out of their cars and questioning people hanging out on drug corners at 1:00 a.m.—many cops worry that doing so could put their careers on the line. Police officers are, after all, human. When they are repeatedly called racist for stopping and questioning suspicious individuals in high-crime areas, they will perform less of those stops. That is not only understandable—in a sense, it is how things should work. Policing is political. If a powerful political block has denied the legitimacy of assertive policing, we will get less of it.
   On the other hand, the people demanding that the police back off are by no means representative of the entire black community. Go to any police-neighborhood meeting in Harlem, the South Bronx, or South Central Los Angeles, and you will invariably hear variants of the following: “We want the dealers off the corner.” “You arrest them and they’re back the next day.” “There are kids hanging out on my stoop. Why can’t you arrest them for loitering?” “I smell weed in my hallway. Can’t you do something?” I met an elderly cancer amputee in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx who was terrified to go to her lobby mailbox because of the young men trespassing there and selling drugs. The only time she felt safe was when the police were there. “Please, Jesus,” she said to me, “send more police!” The irony is that the police cannot respond to these heartfelt requests for order without generating the racially disproportionate statistics that will be used against them in an ACLU or Justice Department lawsuit.
   Unfortunately, when officers back off in high crime neighborhoods, crime shoots through the roof. Our country is in the midst of the first sustained violent crime spike in two decades. Murders rose nearly 17 percent in the nation’s 50 largest cities in 2015, and it was in cities with large black populations where the violence increased the most. Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate last year was the highest in its history. Milwaukee had its deadliest year in a decade, with a 72 percent increase in homicides. Homicides in Cleveland increased 90 percent over the previous year. Murders rose 83 percent in Nashville, 54 percent in Washington, D.C., and 61 percent in Minneapolis. In Chicago, where pedestrian stops are down by 90 percent, shootings were up 80 percent through March 2016.
   I first identified the increase in violent crime in May 2015 and dubbed it “the Ferguson effect.” My diagnosis set off a firestorm of controversy on the anti-cop Left and in criminology circles. Despite that furor, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the Ferguson effect in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School last October. Comey decried the “chill wind” that had been blowing through law enforcement over the previous year, and attributed the sharp rise in homicides and shootings to the campaign against cops. Several days later, President Obama had the temerity to rebuke Comey, accusing him (while leaving him unnamed) of “cherry-pick[ing] data” and using “anecdotal evidence to drive policy [and] feed political agendas.” The idea that President Obama knows more about crime and policing than his FBI director is of course ludicrous. But the President thought it necessary to take Comey down, because to recognize the connection between proactive policing and public safety undermines the entire premise of the anti-cop Left: that the police oppress minority communities rather than bring them surcease from disorder.
   As crime rates continue to rise, the overwhelming majority of victims are, as usual, black—as are their assailants. But police officers are coming under attack as well. In August 2015, an officer in Birmingham, Alabama, was beaten unconscious by a convicted felon after a car stop. The suspect had grabbed the officer’s gun, as Michael Brown had tried to do in Ferguson, but the officer hesitated to use force against him for fear of being charged with racism. Such incidents will likely multiply as the media continues to amplify the Black Lives Matter activists’ poisonous slander against the nation’s police forces.
   The number of police officers killed in shootings more than doubled during the first three months of 2016. In fact, officers are at much greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks are from the police. Over the last decade, an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black has been 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.
   The favorite conceit of the Black Lives Matter movement is, of course, the racist white officer gunning down a black man. According to available studies, it is a canard. A March 2015 Justice Department report on the Philadelphia Police Department found that black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks based on “threat misperception,” i.e., the incorrect belief that a civilian is armed. A study by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway, formerly acting director of the National Institute of Justice, has found that black officers in the NYPD were 3.3 times more likely to fire their weapons at shooting scenes than other officers present. The April 2015 death of drug dealer Freddie Gray in Baltimore has been slotted into the Black Lives Matter master narrative, even though the three most consequential officers in Gray’s arrest and transport are black. There is no evidence that a white drug dealer in Gray’s circumstances, with a similar history of faking injuries, would have been treated any differently.
   We have been here before. In the 1960s and early 1970s, black and white radicals directed hatred and occasional violence against the police. The difference today is that anti-cop ideology is embraced at the highest reaches of the establishment: by the President, by his Attorney General, by college presidents, by foundation heads, and by the press. The presidential candidates of one party are competing to see who can out-demagogue President Obama’s persistent race-based calumnies against the criminal justice system, while those of the other party have not emphasized the issue as they might have.
   I don’t know what will end the current frenzy against the police. What I do know is that we are playing with fire, and if it keeps spreading, it will be hard to put out.
  
   Imprimis is the free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College and is dedicated to educating citizens and promoting civil and religious liberty by covering cultural, economic, political, and educational issues. The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events. First published in 1972, Imprimis is one of the most widely circulated opinion publications in the nation with over 3.4 million subscribers.
   The opinions expressed in Imprimis are not necessarily the views of Hillsdale College.


01 May 2016

An Opinion Piece



It is Better to be Blind, Than to See Things from One Point of View  (Chinese Proverb)

    This is for most fundamentalist Christians, especially evangelical Christians, and most Protestants in the U.S. … who believe that the Bible is the divine word of truth, and that it can/does function as an authority for all Christian faith and practice, and who want to support a coherent position that justifies and defends that belief.
    What follows IS NOT an attack on any Christian faith, any faith-based authority, or the Bible itself. It is, rather, a critical questioning of certain aspects of one specific account of biblical authority that reason and evidence show is impossible to defend and/or employ with integrity … Biblicism, the LITERAL reading of and usage of the Bible. My goal is NOT to detract from the reliability, plausibility, or authority of any Christian faith or from the scriptures … but to persuade people that one particular theory of Christian reliability, plausibility, or authority is inadequate to the task.
  I contend that what characterizes the thinking and practice of most of American evangelicalism, indeed most American Protestants, is not wrong but impossible, even taken on its own terms. It does not work as it is proposed and cannot function in a coherent way. Those who believe in their particular faith need to be selective in their choosing or using any particular text from the Bible, they also need to contort, somewhat, other pieces of scripture and in the end they violate the Bible’s intention.
   I DO NOT mean to downplay the very important role that the Bible does, and must, play in the daily lives of Christians and their separate churches. And … I AM NOT a theological Liberal. Those people are extremely naïve and are espousing, in most cases, unfortunate and objectionable social and political expressions.
    Actual practices of Bible reading and interpretation in various churches tell us a great deal about the adequacy of our theories about biblical texts. In many various churches throughout our country, well-meaning and educated men (and women) in their best efforts to understand the Bible say and teach many different things about very significant ideas and beliefs. Charles Hodge, who taught theology at Princeton in the 1800’s said “… if the scriptures be a plain book, and the Spirit performs the functions of a teacher to all the children of God, it follows inevitably that they all must agree in all essential matters in their interpretation of the Bible. …” [Bold type is mine]
   Do you think that the Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and all the many types of Baptists (and many other denominations) agree on any/many important matters of faith? I have belonged to many of these denominations over my lifetime … as well as being Catholic and Ba’Hai. They are all so far apart on so many aspects of Christianity as to make you think that they are reading different books. Having studied the Bible myself over lo these many years … I do not claim to be an educated man or a Biblical scholar … I know that there are many sections of the Bible that NO ONE is going to live by no matter how dedicated a Christian they are. There are parts of the Book that are strange, and parts that seem to contradict other parts, and other parts that modern Christians try to explain away as cultural mores in that time and place … although no guidelines exist to tell when that argument is to be used, or not used.
    In my lengthy studying … I remember the many debates about the teachings of John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther and the Anabaptists. All were Protestant reformers, all were against the Catholic Church and yet they were so far apart on many ideas, some very critical, as to what the Bible says and doesn’t say. In the United States alone there are 62 (that I know of) separate Baptist groups/denominations alone, about 15 different Calvinist churches (Presbyterian derivations). You have Methodists, Episcopalian (Anglican Protestants, although in 1979 … I think … they voted to remove Protestant from their official name). Well … you can see what I am driving at.
   All of these separate theologies read the same book and come to very different conclusions. So Hodge was wrong! The Scriptures “be not” a plain book that can be understood by all. In point of fact … it seems to be a confusing set of books that can very easily be misunderstood by many/most.
  This is NOT because of the book, which is thought to be God’s thoughts inspired in and written down by men.
   Men not only wrote all the texts which we call the Bible, they also translated them from Hebrew to Aramaic to Greek to English, et al. A good book to read (that describes the dangers inherent in this, but also describes how words from one language do not always translate the exact meanings in the other language) is “The Bible in Translation” by Bruce M. Metzger. It will widen your view about the problems involved.
   Man also decided which texts were to be included in “The Bible” and which would be excluded. There are many which for many reasons were excluded. Politics, self-serving ideas among the priests, bishops et al. Some of these books are called apocrypha,  which means “things put away” or “things hidden” and comes from the Greek through the Latin. Chief among these in my mind is “The Protevangelion”, which is ascribed to James … brother of Jesus and Chief Apostle and First Bishop of the Christians in Jerusalem. I say chief, because it is referred to / and was being used in the years after the Resurrection in many churches throughout the areas around Israel.
   In the Council of Nicea … many learned men tried to come to a conclusion as to agreement on basic articles of faith. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, although previous councils, including the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, had met before to settle matters of dispute. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.
   There is no record of any discussion of the biblical canon at the council. The development of the biblical canon took centuries, and was nearly complete (with exceptions known as the Antilegomena, written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed) by the time the Muratorian fragment was written.
   In 331 Constantine commissioned fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople, but little else is known (in fact, it is not even certain whether his request was for fifty copies of the entire Old and New Testaments, only the New Testament, or merely the Gospels), but some scholars believe that this request provided motivation for canon lists. In Jerome's Prologue to Judith he claims that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures", which suggests that the Nicene Council did discuss what documents would number among the sacred scriptures.
   The main source of the idea that the Bible was created at the Council of Nicea seems to be Voltaire, who popularized a story that the canon was determined by placing all the competing books on an altar during the Council and then keeping the ones that didn't fall off. The original source of this story is the Vetus Synodicon, a pseudo-historical account of early Church councils from AD 887.
   The Council of Nicea is a subject that many volumes have been written about. I do not mean to dismiss it so quickly in this article, but if I gave it … and many other subjects coverage in this short op-ed, it would become a book (at least).
   What the major gist of this piece is, is that Biblicism … which I talked about at the beginning … is only one way to read the Bible. I (among others) do not think that we should look to the Bible for word-for-word meanings. The Bible, according to Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965), witnesses to God’s presence at times when he seems absent. Exegesis should never stand still, since the Bible represents an ongoing dialogue between God and humanity. The study of the Bible must lead to a transformed lifestyle. When we open the Bible, we must be ready to be fundamentally changed by what we hear/read. The rabbis called scripture a migra, “a calling out”. It is a summons that does not allow readers to abstract themselves from the problems of the world but allows them to stand fast and listen to the undercurrents of events. Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), believed that readers must respond to the migra in the same way that the prophets did, crying:  Hinneni  … “here I am” - all ready, all soul … to the reality at hand. Reading the Bible is an introspective process, we cannot respond to it the same way that people in earlier generations did. The text must be appropriated and interiorized in patient and disciplined study and translated into our daily actions. Exegesis could/should help us to retrieve the idea of a sacred text. For example … Many of the Christians who oppose Darwinism today are Calvinists, but Calvin insisted that the Bible was not a scientific document and that those who wanted to learn about astronomy or cosmology should look elsewhere.
   The Protestant Reformation  (which started when Martin Luther hung the famous Ninety Five Theses in Wittenberg in 1517) made sola scriptura (scripture alone) one of its most important principals. However, Luther learned from Erasmus some translation errors/problems. One of which was that mentanoia, which the Vulgate had translated as “do penance” actually meant “a turning around of the Christian’s entire being … thus reflecting that ‘confession’ was something you didn’t have to do, or actually shouldn’t do. The Bible has been translated from many forms into many languages by many people and groups. There have been many times when the words were translated but the meanings were skewed. I have seen/see that often in the southwest when it comes to translating words instead of ideas from Spanish to English. Man has taken the inspired Word of God and changed it in slight but very meaningful ways over the centuries, but it remains the inspired Word of God. We should remember that fact.
   I agree with the famous Rabbi Dov Ber who said that the way to read the Bible/Tanakh is “ … not to feel conscious of oneself at all. Be like the listening ear that hears the world of sound speaking, but not speak itself. the exegete must make of himself a vessel for the divine presence. The Bible must act upon him as though he were its instrument …”!  I think that the reader should stand before the Bible like Moses stood before the burning bush … listening intently, and preparing for a revelation that will force him to lay aside any former preconceptions that he had. The Bible IS NOT a book of science, nor of literature, nor of philosophy … but of salvation. The object of our faith IS NOT the church, nor even the scriptures, nor even our experience of Jesus. It is Christ himself who is the object of our faith. The Bible’s internal unity and harmony derives from the central purpose in divine revelation of telling us about Jesus Christ. It prepares us for the coming of Christ.
   The Bible IS NOT a self-help book. There are many book titles on shelves in the library and bookstore that claim to tell you how to start a Christian business, make money the Christian Way, how to learn Christian dating, et cetera ad infinitum. That is all from authors/experts trying to use this verse or that to prove a point (so they can make money). That is NOT what the Bible is about, or what it is for.
   The Old Testament recounts the history of the Jewish people, [the Jewish Tanakh contains three books: The Torah, which means The Law, the Neviim which means The Prophets, and the Kethuvim which are The Writings.] For us as Christians, all of these lead us to the Coming of Jesus, his death and his resurrection. The Bible only comes alive when it is read in light of the cross of Christ. As Jesus says in Luke 24:44-48, “ these are the words I told you when I was with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms”. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “this is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerisalem. You are witnesses of these things”.

Reverend W. A. ‘Antonio’ Rigney Tucson, Az. 2016

 For those of you who would like to study further and do your own exegesis. Besides approaching the Bible from a new perspective, there are many books out there … Dewey Decimal code 200. If you go to the library … or Google and Wikipedia are close at hand. I would also suggest Biblehub.com, a site that gives you side by side readings in different versions of the Bible, as it is an interesting tool.
I also suggest reading as much as possible of the following: (a longer list would take many pages, but these are a great starting point)
John Calvin/Jehan Cauvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion and Google info on his ideas
Martin Luther: google info on his thoughts, ideas, teachings
Baruch Spinoza/Benedict de Spinoza: Ethics
Charles Hodge: read for his Calvinist idea
Wilfred Cantwell Smith: What is Scripture? A Comparative Approach.
C.S. Lewis: any and all of his writings on Apologetics
Joseph Lienhard: The Bible, the Church, and Authority: The Canon of the Christian Bible in History and Theology (1995)
Peter Enns: Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament

for discussion on the writers of the Pentateuch, see -
Jean Astruc (1684-1766)
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752-1827)
Johann Severin Vater (1771-1826)
Wilhelm DeWette (1780-1849)
Hermann Hupfeld (1796-1866)
Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-1869).