Tuesday, 1 January 2019

What The Beer-Breweries And Liquor-Stores Won't Tell You When You Buy Their Beer

THE 'BAR'

A BAR to Heaven and a DOOR to Hell;
whoever named it, named it well.
1. INTRODUCTION. This article is not a scientific treatise on the chemical properties of beer or on the medical and/or socio-economic consequences of alcoholism and liquor-abuse. In that regard, the reader may be well-advised to check the article elsewhere in this blog entitled: 'Alcoholism: Society's Silent Pandemic'  (click).


2. BACKGROUND. This article is the result of personal observation and experience with alcoholics and drunks in the extended family (and in industry) over many years, and not necessarily from formal mainstream academic study or scientific research; I do not need a PhD in physics to know that it probably would not be a good idea for me to put my head under an 18-wheeler truck-in-motion to know that it could be detrimental to my health.
   Also, the very fact that bungy-jumping is legal does not mean I am obligated to do it or that it is necessarily safe. Commonsense is, after all, not as common as most people think. So, here is what I have learned they don't tell you when you buy their beer:  

2.1 Beer-brewers and liquor-stores do not give a damn about your health.  They don't sell you their beer to improve your complexion, help you lose weight, remove your pimples or save you from chronic dandruff. O yes, they will tell you that you shouldn't drink and drive, or give beer to minors, or that you should drink 'responsibly' (i.e. not to spill too much of it on the recently-polished bar-counter), because they are morally and/or legally required to do so. 
   Their motive is profit, nothing else, and what better formula for success and higher sales than to get the customers (i) addicted to alcohol and/or (ii) addicted to the habit-forming (socio-cultural) custom attached to the prestige of beer-drinking as a macho-sports?

2.2 If the average beer-drinker really could 'stop anytime' (the beer-drinker's favourite mantra) or if the average beer-drinker is not specifically after or addicted to the alcohol in the beer, then why do all beer-drinkers worldwide not switch to alcohol-free beer instead? It certainly would stop alcohol-abuse, drunkenness, drunk-driving and domestic abuse overnight, wouldn't it? 
   Not that I would recommend 'alcohol-free' beer to novices ... it may act as a powerful social 'gateway-drug' (i.e. a psycho-cultural incentive) to the beer-drinking subculture for impressionable youngsters later. 
   The only reason that I (after seventy years of observation) would, therefore, surmise that anyone who could voluntarily drink a beer mug filled with a hideous-looking liquid that looks, smells and tastes like the urine of an Afghan camel is because they are addicted ... they simply crave, either physiologically or psychologically, the freaking alcohol.
   It is a popular, magic suburban witches-potion that can transmogrify the scrawniest of spineless cowards into a formidable pub-brawler and equip those with the patience to imbibe it with bellies the size of a 'Big Bertha' bass drum. Those competitions where beer-drinkers aim to win first-prize with the biggest belly in town is just about the most despicable of insults ever directed at the Creator who admonishes us continually to a life of self-control and moderation ... not to speak of the immense fortunes squandered on such frivolous, childish pursuits.  

2.3 Admittedly, most people who drink beer are not are not necessarily evil or bad guys per se ... they probably crave the alcohol for the simple reason only that it relieves tension and helps them to relax, i.e. it helps them to shed their inhibitions or shyness and makes them forget about their problems. One inmate from a rehab-centre even said on national television that alcoholics drink not because they need to get drunk, but because they are just trying 'to be normal'. Many a true word is spoken in (apparent) zest.

   Now, although South Africa is not rated in the top fifty of the heaviest beer-drinkers of the world, it still rates as one of the most dangerous for road accidents and drunken driving:
   
 "When It comes to fatalities from drunk driving, one country stands out from the rest. According to the WHO's Global Status report on Road Safety for 2015, South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for road accidents with 25.1 deaths per 100,000 people every year. Shockingly, nearly 6 out of every 10 fatalities (58 percent) on South Africa's roads can be attributed to alcohol consumption." (Forbes' Worst Countries in the World for Drunk Driving).

2.4 If beer-drinkers did not crave the alcohol per se, then why not ban beer containing alcohol altogether and make them sell only alcohol-free beer? Wouldn't it change the abovementioned statistics immediately for the better?  The truth is that they need alcohol because they become inebriated by alcohol ... that is the main reason for drinking beer in the first place, i.e. to imbibe some form of 'Dutch-courage' (not unlike the hard-core assassin) to kill time, kill the loneliness and depression or kill the memory of the nagging boss or bank-manager. 
   Hypothetically speaking, if it took twelve beers to make a person totally drunk after a given period of time, then that person probably will (technically speaking) already be 8.3% drunk after the first beer ... so where does the Biblical demand for sobriety (spiritually & physiologically) then fit in?

   [1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8]  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober ...  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 
   [1Timothy 3:2-3, 11]   A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 
   [Titus1:8, 2:2, 4, 6]  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
   [Habakkuk 2:15 AKJV] Woe to him that gives his neighbor drink, that put your bottle to him, and make him drunken also, that you may look on their nakedness!
   [Proverbs 20:1]  Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. [Proverbs 31:6]  Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 

   The truth is that they simply love alcohol and cannot or will not do without it. Beer-drinkers do not drink beer with some alcohol in it ... they drink alcohol (a lethal drug) heavily diluted in a drink called 'beer'. They're certainly not thirsty, for then they would have drunk water (much cheaper) instead. And, as for 'macho', I'll give you true examples of macho: It is no secret that the king of the jungle, i.e. the mighty male lion, drinks water when he's thirsty (and he is not in the least embarrassed about it); furthermore, does the powerful gorilla (about nine times stronger than the average man) ever drink beer? Also, has the reader ever witnessed a grizzly-bear emerging from a pub? The point is that true 'macho' does not need chemical crutches to survive through the night. 
   Be that as it may, it is a fact that beer-drinking is a favourite South African 'macho-sports' ... it goes together with rugby, cricket and soccer like the proverbial 'horse & carriage'. But, on the contrary, at the end of the day (pardon the pun) it really is a 'sports' for people who cannot face another day or week without the chemical crutch of some alcohol-injection of sorts. It all began the day they actually seized to be macho when they gave up their manhood and took their first sip, only to become another defenceless customer-statistic on the breweries' 'almanack'  by giving in to the culture and the cheers of so-called 'buddies' ... buddies that all suddenly disappear into thin air when the miserable, drooling wretch (who cannot even properly hold a cigarette without burning a hole in the car's upholstery) is dropped off at the clinic or rehab-centre for treatment.  
   Take away the alcohol in beer and the entire 'cosmic purpose' and 'anthropological impetus' required for becoming a beer-drinker of renown will implode like a house of cards. A true, dyed-in-the-wool beer-drinker would rather be found dead than to drink alcohol-free beer.  Do the math:  It's all about the alcohol.

3. WHAT THEY REALLY WON'T TELL YOU WHEN YOU BUY THEIR BEER.  All of the above facts and/or ideas and opinions (given as the 'background' to this article) are, however, actually stale news, for it probably has been around for decades. What the breweries and liquor-stores really won't tell you are as follows: 

3.1 The day a person begins his professional career as a macho beer-drinker by buying into the beer-drinking (pub/bar/tavern/shebeen/beerhall) culture, he/she initiates or kick-starts a lifelong physiological-psychological process of robbing himself/herself of precious nutrients, vitamins etc., especially the water-soluble (complex) B-Vitamins so critical for a healthy nervous-system and robust health in general (not to speak also depriving himself of other critical nutrients such as omega fatty acids etc. not even covered by this discussion).
   It is no coincidence that, during the 1930s,  Adolf Hitler loved to make his rabble-rousing speeches in beer-halls, for that is where the inebriated and gullible rabble-rousers, especially riff-raff political agitators and brutes, were expected to congregate.

3.2 The complex B-Vitamins are all critical for health, and nutritionists tell us that when one becomes a habitual beer-drinker, he begins to wash away such water-soluble B-Vitamins at an accelerated pace that may continue for years or even decades to come without him really noticing the adverse effects at first.

3.3. Eventually, after many years of such prolonged abuse, the tell-tale signs (of B-Vitamin Complex deprivation) may sooner or later begin to emerge to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the constitution and nutrition of the subject in question. Such signs may include nervousness, imbalance, problems with the ears, paranoia and especially clinical depression etc. 

3.4 The beer-drinker, when he eventually becomes clinically depressed, then begins to drink even more beer, or drink the same amount of beer but more often in order to address the depression, forget about his problems and numb the pain. The problem is that the more he now drinks, the more he is exacerbating his problem of depriving himself of B-Vitamins, and the more B-Vitamins he loses, the more depressed he gets and again, the more he drinks ... finally ending up in a clinic or at a rehab-centre as a chronic alcoholic. 

3.5 Beer dehydrates beer-drinkers, writes Dr. Alexander van Hattem (Perth, Australia):

   "This is why it is so important to drink water along with alcoholic drinks.  When you drink beer, you feel like you are drinking plenty of fluid, but you're losing everything you gain and more.  That means you can be drinking constantly but still get dehydrated, and dehydration accounts for a large portion of getting a hangover the next morning." (Quora, 2018).

   In other words, not only do beer-drinkers, and especially chronic beer-drinkers and alcoholics, flush precious nutrients (and especially the complex of water-soluble B--Vitamins) from their system by their beer-drinking, but they are actually, in the process, doing it at an accelerated pace by dehydrating with their drinking ... a perfect recipe for pathological alcohol-dependence, chronic alcoholism and severe clinical depression. 
   The reader is strongly advised to study the article (and similar articles), 'Understanding Nutrition, Depression and Mental Illness' (T.S Sathyanarayana et al, Indian Journal of Psychiatry) to learn of the critical links between the Vitamin B complex, omega fatty acids, amino acidsfruits & vegetables etc. and mental illness & clinical depression. 
   Chronic alcoholism and especially protracted (chronic) beer-drinking over many years is nothing less than an excruciatingly painful form of suicide-at-leisure at the expense of wife, kids and family members. First the alcoholic 'kills' himself, then he begins to destroy his wife and children; afterwards members of the extended family and (reportedly) eventually adversely affecting no less than sixteen members of the family in the long run.
   Even among those who consider themselves 'genetically immune' against alcoholism (yeah right!) total abstention would be the only cast-iron guarantee against alcoholism and years of frightful misery, unhappiness and disillusionment. The drinker (of any kind of liquor) 'immune', but what about the biological profiles of his kids ... what kind of legacy and future battlefield of the mind is he going to leave behind for them?

4. HERE'S THE DEAL.  It is a vicious circle. At first, the drinker drinks because he is lonely, he feels 'blue', or because of some debilitating setback or crisis in his life; or maybe he drinks because of peer pressure, the expectations of so-called 'friends' and 'buddies'.  The beer then begins to break down his health, slowly but surely over many years, even decades, draining and depriving him of precious, life-saving B-Vitamins (and probably many other nutrients too, such as magnesium etc.). Adelle Davis writes:

   "The blood of persons suffering from extreme irritability has been found to be low in magnesium ... It is my guess that magnesium deficiencies are partly responsible for the widespread nervousness, insomnia and irritability supposedly caused by the 'fast pace of modern living' ... whenever I think of the tortured human beings writhing in straitjackets or perhaps held down in hot water by canvas fitted around their necks and the sides of the tubs, as I have seen them in too many institutions and psychopathic wards, I long to give these people injections of Vitamin B6 and magnesium'" (Davis: Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit: 202-203).    

   So, the 'patient' eventually begins to notice the onset of occasional depression, then severe depression and eventually debilitating clinical depression while, in the meantime, he cannot understand why. He solicits all kinds of advice from all over the place and eventually goes to consult a psychologist or therapist, ending up at home with a bottle of anti-depressants or sleeping pills (or both).      
   The remedy is twofold, and I surmise the responsible nutritionist will admonish the beer-drinker to increase his intake of nutritious food and especially the B-Vitamins, preferably in the form of better nutrition and the eliminating of junk food (instead of supplements, but supplements are not necessarily ruled out completely); and also to reduce his alcohol intake drastically.
   Speaking of junk food: Bear in mind that some of the worst junk food available is found in one's own home, and not only at fast-food outlets. For instance, the following (popular and traditional) foods furnish just about zero B-Vitamins and other nutrients so critical for robust health and the prevention of clinical depression: 

- White ('polished') rice & corn mush (mealie meal);

- White bread and all refined-flour & bread products (i.e. flour with the bran and germ removed such as pasta, pastries, pizza, cakes, cookies/biscuits) unless such items have been 'enriched' or reinforced with whole-wheat flour or vitamins. 

   As for dealing with problematic whole-wheat allergies, I strongly recommend books such as, 'Let's Get Well''Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit' and, "Let's Have Healthy Children' by America's foremost nutritionist from an earlier generation, Adelle Davis. I have found that most of the products purchased in the average delicatessen or bakery today are probably made from refined flour that is nutritionally useless, if not indeed lethal. The baker's problem is that (such nutritionally useless) refined flour is easier to bake with than with wholesome whole-wheat flour and that it stays fresh longer on the shelves of supermarkets (Bacteria just loves good wholesome food, that is why bakers prefer useless white flour). 
   The golden rule, however:  The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead (You do not die from what's in the white bread, but from what's missing from the white bread).
   So, imagine the scenario where John Citizen or Joe Soap (i) subsists entirely on such nutritionally useless foods as mentioned above and then (ii) adding further insult to injury by chainsmoking and (iii) chronic beer-drinking and/or liquor abuse over a protracted period. 
   What more do beer-brewers and liquor-stores need for their own success, high living in exclusive suburbs and grand automobiles than a customer-base of fumbling drunks hopelessly addicted to liquor and the pathetic beer-drinking culture? 
   There probably is not a sight more pathetic than that of a sworn alcoholic sitting with his beer mug on his porch on the rundown, ramshackle front-seat from an old derelict Chevvy with springs and foam protruding from all over its cracked and torn leather-upholstery, and with him all unshaven and red in the face while shouting abuse at his spouse and embarrassing his children in front of their flustered friends from school.
   How will I ever forget the terrible plight of the two desperate and exhausted young children, dressed in pyjamas and crying alone in the family car (parked in front of the local pub) with the inebriated father, a wobbling tower of 'fatherhood and integrity', ever so now and then staggering from the swing-doors to pacify his distraught little brood, begging them to calm down and wait just another 'five minutes' longer ... five minutes that may last from 6 p.m. to closing time at 10 p.m.

5. PRACTICAL ADVICE FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.  During 1998, I was put on anti-depressants by a therapist, not for alcoholism or liquor-abuse (I don't drink) but for clinical depression caused by a failed business venture in 1998 and the resulting nervous breakdown. As far as beer-drinking is concerned, however, I am well-acquainted with the phenomenon of alcoholism and liquor abuse in the family (no names, no pack drill). Be that as it may, here's anyway what I did to recover:

5.1 I eventually fired my therapist who was milking a huge amount of cash from me in the form of 'therapy', i.e. a lousy 15-minute (completely non-sensical) doctor-patient 'interview' once a month asking about my 'health', how I 'occupied my time', and how I 'kept busy' etc (sounds familiar?). The therapist's fee was beginning to compound my depression-problem, for bear in mind that the depression was caused by my failed business and at that time I had had no steady income ... what an upside-down world of all kinds of Catch-22 challenges around every corner. 

5.2 After I had fired my therapist and cancelled the rest of the (agreed-upon) appointments, I went home and flushed the remainder of my anti-depressants and sleeping tablets down the toilet while, mind you, committing the unforgivable social blunder of forgetting to apologise to the toilet.

5.3 In 2002 I bought myself one of those large black 'counter-books' that people use in the business environment and started my very first 'Prayer Journal'. I have been praying vocally for years, especially after 1998, but now continued praying while at the same time sometimes writing the gist of my prayers down in a summated form in my 'Prayer Journal'. The rationale for that was that most great figures from history surely must have been in the habit of doing the same type of thing (albeit with the aid of scribes etc.), and that is probably why historical attestation of the authenticity of Biblical Scripture had become so eminently possible.

5.4 What I am trying to tell the reader is not that I have a quick-fix for clinical depression in the form of prayer and the aid of a Prayer Journal, but that a personal relationship with the Creator and Jesus Christ per se (and a regular and sincere dialogue with the Heavenly Father) is, in addition to any medical strategies to combat substance-abuse,  imperative for mental health and psychological success in combating the scourge of chronic alcoholism and clinical depression. 
   While the Devil is the author of depression* by stealing our joy (that legendary 'Joie de vivre'), Jesus Christ (through the person of the Holy Spirit) is the only reliable Author of such life-saving joy. That life-saving, divine joy and peace do not come through alcohol, drugs, anti-depressants or substance-abuse (drug abuse), but only from God.

*Depression: Emptiness: The absence of Joy.

5.5  My advice to beer-drinkers with chronic alcoholism or a serious substance-abuse problem that may manifest in debilitating clinical depression is:  Get rid of the beer, preferably still today. It is probably going to kill you, either physically or psychologically, by wrecking your life and/or your marriage. Clinical depression, a common consequence of chronic beer-drinking among many lovers of beer, is the Devil's kryptonite that will rob you of your zest for life and the will to live, energy, enthusiasm and the joy of being a creature and child of God. 
   I am furthermore adamant that a child (any child) is probably better off in an orphanage than in the house of a chronic alcoholic hell-bent on wrecking his home and his family; and, bear in mind that it probably started with 'an innocent first sip'. 
   I have heard reports of a drunken bum sitting at the kitchen table in Cottesloe, Johannesburg during the 1960s sporting an axe in his skull neatly administered with perfect aim by an equally drunken wife, and the little teenage daughter having to summon an ambulance to come to the aid of her father; another friend of ours has witnessed a wife actually severing her angry and inebriated husband's hand at the wrist with an axe in self-defence in Brixton, Johannesburg during a violent domestic dispute in more or less the same period ... the friend actually witnessed the scene herself and saw how the husband, with the aid of paramedics, was lifted into an ambulance while clutching his severed hand in his other hand. 
   I haven't even touched on the scourge of (very) hard liquor ... I do not have to. Do the math: Anything beer can do to a person's life, the brandy, the vodka, the other stuff can do even better and probably quicker too. Most chronic beer-drinkers I have met suffer from clinical depression in some form or other, and while some may clearly appear only physically unhealthy, nutritionally depleted and mentally depressed (and compounding their problem further by chainsmoking) others (with a 'stronger constitution' and even though they may appear more 'robust') will instead manifest a type of chronic depression in the form of an incessant, biting sarcasm, exasperating impatience, bitter cynicism (especially toward God and the Church) and a general lack of zest-for-life. The choice is ours whether this really is the way in which we want to wreck our marriage, our home and our future.

6. SUMMARY: THE THREE-PRONGED ASSAULT OF BEER ON THE BEER-DRINKER. Firstly, beer dehydrates the beer-drinkerIn the second place beer acts as a diuretic, i.e. it increases the urine output of the beer-drinker and thirdly, beer intoxicates the beer-drinker.
   Many beer-drinkers thus end up as either chronic alcoholics or with chronic depression (or both) for the simple reason of beer's three-pronged attack on the beer-drinker. So much fluid is lost by the dehydration and diuretic action of beer that the beer-drinker becomes depleted of the precious complex of B-vitamins and other nutrients critical for robust health, causing depression at first and eventually serious, debilitating clinical depression, creating the automatic knee-jerk reaction of drinking more beer to address the depression ... causing more depression.
   The straw that finally breaks the camel's back is when the beer-drinker becomes so intoxicated and inebriated that he no longer is able to reason rationally or understand the consequences of his substance-abuse and impending alcoholism; next thing he goes into complete denial and suddenly it is not he that has a problem, but everyone else close to him, including the therapist, the pastor, the doctor and the wife. 
   As I have mentioned before, some beer-drinkers doggedly believe that they do not drink to become drunk, but to 'feel normal'. So, what family, friends, and the dear wife and kids perceive as 'inebriation' and 'drunkenness' in the behaviour and conduct of the beer-drinker has, over time, become the beer-drinker's 'new normal', and the die is cast for years of dysfunctional fatherhood, visits to the rehab centre and (God forbid) chronic unemployment.

7. WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES. To persons who suffer from chronic alcoholism and who have fallen victim to liquor abuse, I strongly recommend Bible-studyprayer and the use of a prayer journal to augment whatever medical strategies are currently applied to address the scourge of alcoholism and clinical depression, Come to God with faith and the confidence that He will reward those who believe that He IS (i.e. that He exists) and diligently seek Him:

   [Hebrews 11:6]  But without faith it is impossible to please him [GOD]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he [GOD] is, and that he [GOD] is a rewarder of them [those who pray] that diligently seek him

DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE
   I herewith accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, and therefore put my trust and my future in the Wisdom of God and the Ministry, Teachings, Sacrifice, Death, Blood, Resurrection and Righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (as presented to the world in the narratives of the Old & New Testaments of the Bible) for the Forgiveness of my sins, Reconciliation with God and for Eternal Salvation. May the Mercy, Grace and Favour of God follow me all the days of my life.

                                Signed                                                  Date

'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 
[Revelation 22:17]

                           (Copy & Paste the Signed Declaration  into your Bible)

"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."

[Exodus 33:19b] 


Acknowledgements & Recommended Reading


This revision: 2019-01-12. 

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Picture Of Dorian Gray (Revisited)

'The Picture Of Dorian Gray'
(1945 film poster)

Image: Wikipedia
1. INTRODUCTION. Wikipedia writes:  "The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 1945 American horror-drama film based on Oscar Wilde's 1890 novel of the same name. Released in March 1945 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film is directed by Albert Lewin and stars George Sanders as Lord Henry Wotton and Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray. Shot primarily in black-and-white, the film features four colour inserts in 3-strip Technicolor of Dorian's portrait; these are a special effect, the first two inserts are the original portrait and the second two after a major period of degeneration then recovery ... It is London, 1886. Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) is a handsome and wealthy young man. While generally intelligent, he is naive and easily manipulated. These faults lead to his spiral into sin and ultimate misery.
   "While posing for a painting by his friend Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore), Gray meets Hallward's friend Lord Henry Wotton (George Sanders). The cynical but witty Wotton persuades Gray the only worthwhile life is dedicated to pleasure, because "what the gods give they quickly take away." After Wotton convinces Gray that youth and beauty will bring him everything he desires, Dorian wishes his portrait could age instead of him. He makes the wish openly in the presence of an Egyptian cat statue with supposed mystical powers to grant wishes. 
   "Dorian visits a tavern, where he falls in love with a beautiful singer named Sibyl Vane (Angela Lansbury). He begins a romance with her, despite disapproval from Sibyl's brother James (Richard Fraser), and they are soon engaged. Though initially contented, Dorian is again persuaded by Lord Henry to pursue a more hedonistic lifestyle. Dorian sends Sibyl a hurtful letter, ending their relationship and "compensating" her with a large payment in cash.
   "The next morning, Gray finds his own face unchanged but the portrait has changed and "the lines of cruelty about the mouth were unmistakable." He starts to realize his wish to the cat may be real."

2. SYNOPSIS. The Picture of Dorian Gray is, in short, thus the story of a man whose wish, i.e. that his portrait instead of his body was to age, eventually came true thanks to the occult influences of a magical (probably satanic) Egyptian cat, with some ghastly (tragic) consequences for him in the end. 

3. AN IMPORTANT ANALOGY TO THE GOSPEL. An important analogy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be drawn from this story by Oscar Wilde. For instance, I have heard on numerous occasions where pastors and/or theologians mentioned to audiences that our 'spiritual bodies' (the spirit of men of the Judeo-Christian tradition) or 'astral bodies' (of the philosophical tradition from Asia or the Orient) look exactly like their owners, i.e. the physical bodies or shells of the persons housing such spiritual bodies.
   My submission is that the exact opposite is true i.e. that our bodies actually look like our spirits ... just the other way around. Our body, in other words, is a likeness or image of our spirit, and that, in the final analysis, it is the spirit that stays forever youthful and the body that ages, just like in the story of Dorian Gray. 
   To explain the analogy fully: Our spirit (and not our physical body) is actually the real person, while the physical body (the outer appearance of the person) is no more than a portrait or likeness (the proverbial 'splitting image') of the real person (the spirit), albeit a (fully-functional) animated three-dimensional, and not two-dimensional, portrait or likeness.

4. SUPPORTED BY SCRIPTURE. The abovementioned approach to man's true 'physical/metaphysical profile' is actually supported by Scripture. The Bible teaches:

   [Ephesians 4:22-24 HRB] Lay aside all your former practices and put off the old man, having been degenerated with deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man, who is created by YAHWEH in righteousness and true holiness.
   [2 Corinthians 4:16 HRB] Because of this, we do not grow weary, but if indeed our outward man is being decayed, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  


DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE
   I herewith accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, and therefore put my trust and my future in the Wisdom of God and the Ministry, Teachings, Sacrifice, Death, Blood, Resurrection and Righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (as presented to the world in the narratives of the Old & New Testaments of the Bible) for the Forgiveness of my sins, Reconciliation with God and for Eternal Salvation. May the Mercy, Grace and Favour of God follow me all the days of my life.

                                Signed                                                  Date

'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 
[Revelation 22:17]

                           (Copy & Paste the Signed Declaration  into your Bible)


"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."
[Exodus 33:19b]     

Acknowledgements

Wikipedia (2018) The Picture Of Dorian Gray. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray_(1945_film). Online.

Interesting Nuggets Of Wisdom.

"When our good works 
and best efforts proved 
worthless, God's Grace 
proved priceless."
NOTES: If the source is known, it will be duly acknowledged. 

1. Only one life that will soon be past; only what's done for Jesus Christ will last.

2. When our good works and best efforts proved worthless, God's Grace proved priceless.

3. The person who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

4. Good decisions come from experience; experience comes from bad decisions.

5. The person that does not read is no better off than a person who cannot read (Stephen Covey).

6. The speed of light in a vacuum is 300 000 k.p.s.; the speed of darkness in a vacuum (or anywhere for that matter) is ZERO. Therefore, choose LIGHT.  The number of times Jerusalem is mentioned or Biblically-referenced in the Bible (Old & New Testaments combined): Reportedly 800 TIMES.  The number of times Jerusalem is mentioned or referenced in the Qu'ran: ZERO. Therefore, choose the BIBLE.  

7. Number of genders according to the Bible: Two (male & female). The number of genders and/or sexual orientations according to the PBHS Closet:(The PBHS Closet http://thepbhscloset.weebly.com/): Close to 65 (The PBHS Communi-ty: http://thepbhscloset.weebly.com/)

8. When people do not believe in God, they do not believe in nothing ... they believe in anything. (G.K. Chesterton).

9. When emotion rises, the I.Q. drops (R.Briel).

10. In THEORY, Theory & Practice are supposed to compliment each other with forecasts and actual results that always end up consistently the same; in PRACTICE, however, this rarely happens.

11. A friend is one who knows the best and the worst of us and loves us just the same (H. Longfellow).

12. People do not really 'fall into sin' ... they probably (at the time) jump into it with gusto, hoping that no (negative) consequences will follow from it. The only two people who ever (genuinely)  'fell into sin' were Adam and Eve because:

- Adam & Eve had no Bible
- They did not appreciate the fact that disobedience was sin, as the discernment of the sin of disobedience only became possible 'after the fact', i.e. after they had already eaten the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Watch this space.


DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE
   I herewith accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, and therefore put my trust and my future in the Wisdom of God and the Ministry, Teachings, Sacrifice, Death, Blood, Resurrection and Righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (as presented to the world in the narratives of the Old & New Testaments of the Bible) for the Forgiveness of my sins, Reconciliation with God and for Eternal Salvation. May the Mercy, Grace and Favour of God follow me all the days of my life.

                                Signed                                                  Date

'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 
[Revelation 22:17]

                           (Copy & Paste the Signed Declaration  into your Bible)


"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."
[Exodus 33:19b] 

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

So You Don't Want To Be Part Of 'The System'?

"For the wages of sin is death; 
but the gift of God is eternal life 
through Jesus Christ our Lord." 
(Romans 6:23)
1. COMPLAINTS ABOUT 'THE SYSTEM'. How many times have I not heard the complaint or  exclamation, "I am getting out of the system!", or, "I don't want to be part of the system!"  In fact, when I was a teenager during the 1960 s, thousands of people all over the world, almost overnight, did just that by 'escaping from the system' and becoming wild-eyed, pot-smoking 'hippies' and 'flower-children' ... another great hare-brained idea of a 'system' that didn't exactly work out as planned. 
   Also among Christians has the now familiar mantra these days taken hold: "I'm getting out of the system, I'm getting off the grid!" 

2. GETTING 'OFF THE GRID'. There is nothing wrong with trying to get 'off the grid' or searching for more economical options in the daily struggle for survival, sustenance and success. For long enough South Africans have, especially in recent years, been battered, pummeled, thrashed, assaulted, insulted and assailed by the government-agents of 'state capture', fraud, corruption, racketeering and the perpetrators of audacious 'bank heists' and crippling taxes. In fact, the three most exasperating 'demons' haunting South Africans today appear to be crippling taxes, ill-disciplined taxis and toxic polony
   It really is a sad day indeed when, in a modern 'constitutional democracy' such as South Africa, peaceful and law-abiding civilians have to invent all kinds of innovations and develop all kinds of survival-strategies to protect themselves from the brutality and dishonesty of the state or to shield them from a corrupt bureaucracy, instead of from the threats of hardcore criminals; or, when criminals fear other rival-criminals from avenging gangs more than they fear the police. 

3. HERE'S THE DEAL. I have noticed many trends in recent times, e.g. people closing Facebook-accounts (and what a nauseating habit of people to stare like zombies into their Facebook-pages for hours on end); getting rid of 'e-mail' or simply trying to get 'out of the system' or 'off the grid'. Now, if it is all about saving money, living more frugally or operating the household on more economical grounds, I am all for it ... the age of innovation has not gone yet. 
   In fact, I terminated my S.A. Post Office mailbox during a recent strike, never to take it up again. Since the advent of e-mail and social media fewer people send letters by mail these days anyway ... even my bank has closed its SAPO mailbox-subscription in favour of e-mail and courier-services. The SAPO still, as I write, owes my daughter an undelivered parcel* sent to France from South Africa (the Raslouw Post Office in Centurion) during June or July of 2017; the parcel has simply completely disappeared from the radar somewhere at the 'WITS' sorting-station never to be found again. 
   So, what lessons have we learned from this Post Office saga? We have learned through the University of Hard Knocks that, when a criminal steals from you or robs you of say R500.00, it is called 'violent crime'; but when the State steals R500.00 from you, it is called 'business-rescue', or 'Post Office performance woes' ... and that while the workers are sitting around striking all over the place demanding 'more money' (!) making one wonder: for what?  
   The sad part is that all our efforts to seek a coherent and decent response (or any response at all) from the current CEO have fallen on deaf ears ... the parcel-post expense will probably have to be written-off indefinitely.  
   People should learn to vote with their feet by walking away from poor service-delivery, mediocre customer-service and sub-standard supplier-performance, especially as regards SOEs (state-owned enterprises). I, however, did, in a gesture of reconciliation and cooperation, make the SAPO an offer for me to take up my mailbox (which they declined) provided: 

- the SAPO can guarantee that its staff will never (ever) strike again;

- the SAPO staff will never stuff my mailbox with junk-mail again, as what it boils down to is that the mailbox-subscriber must pay for the privilege of having businesses at large insert junk-mail into his mailbox willy-nilly ad infinitum and ad nauseam); and

- the SAPO refund me to the value of three or four months' subscription when the workers were on strike and the mailbox was locked with the mailing-service non-functioning.

*Parcel arrived at last after six months, just before Christmas 2018.

4. 'THE SYSTEM'. Having said all of the above, please just bear in mind that, while trying to get 'off the grid' may be and an admirable and even commendable challenge, and cancelling Facebook-accounts and getting rid of e-mail may result in a more relaxed, slower-paced suburban social gait for certain jittery individuals, getting rid of the system completely is just about out of the question ... whether we like it or not, we are inevitably and unavoidably (either to a greater or lesser extent) part of the freaking 'system':

- when we own and use a car;

- when we have and use cell-phones and computers, or all kinds of electrical appliances or electronic gadgets & useful technology;  

- when we have an RSA I.D. document (whether green barcoded or smartcard) or South African passport;

- when we are registered at SARS (South African Revenue Services);

- when we have a bona fide employer;

- when we are unemployed and/or are drawing unemployment benefits;

- when we are using electricity from Eskom (or from independent prepaid meter-suppliers);

- when we shop at local supermarkets, shops and malls; or, alternatively, through eBay, Amazon.com or the Internet in general;

- when we do Internet-banking (EFT);

- when we have to register marriages, births and deaths;

- when we have to report accidents, burglaries and all kinds of crimes or submit all kinds of affidavits, use the legal system etc.;

- when we are drawing a pension or paying for medical benefits;

- when we have insurance premiums or retirement-annuities;

- when we visit dentists, doctors, clinics and hospitals;

- when we read the 'system's' newspapers, magazines, books, social media; or when we use libraries, public or private transport etc.

5. CHRIST BECAME PART OF 'THE SYSTEM'. After all about the 'system' has been said and done, we must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ did become part of 'the system' when He left the ivory-palaces of God's House of Many Mansions to enter the squalor and backwardness of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Bethany and the 'first-century' Palestine of the New Testament, in order to suffer as an ordinary human being for thirty-three long years and eventually be lambasted, ridiculed, harassed and crucified by the Sanhedrin, the Roman government and the riff-raff of Jerusalem ... for our sins and the sins of the world. Try to imagine what He had had to leave  behind or put on hold for thirty-three (earth) years:

- the luxury, comforts, beauty and majesty of Paradise;

- state-of-the-art, hyper-divine 'advanced science & technology, architecture, vistas, scenery' etc.;

- the friendship, love and companionship of His Father and holy angels, cherubs and seraphs ... not to speak of the acquaintance and fellowship of thousands of Old Testament kings, statesmen, prophets, soldiers, heroes of the faith, political and spiritual leaders, judges of Israel and patriarchs from the Old Testament etc.

- His own personal interests, hobbies, recreation, professional objectives and responsibilities.

6. WHAT TO DO WITH THE 'SYSTEM'.    What would have happened to the world if Christ had decided not to become part of the 'system'? Bear in mind that Jesus was never naive about the 'system', and has often remarked with great alacrity on it, for instance:

6.1 He has warned on the dangers of duplicity on the part of His followers.  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [Luke 16:13].

6.2 He has admonished us to accept and utilise the 'system' (as a given) wisely and industriously (never illegally, of course) not only to survive but to also (hopefully) benefit the Kingdom of God in the long run.  And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. [Luke 16:9].

6.3 He has also warned against the dangers of moral infidelity and lack of responsible stewardship.  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? [Luke 16:11].

6.4 He has warned us that the riches of the world are not really the 'true riches'. The money, riches and wealth of earth are, if I may use a crude analogy, like 'Monopoly' money; it is like fake money, almost like the Zim-dollar, for instance, used to be in Zimbabwe until only recently.  It works for now, but there will come a day when the true riches of Heaven will be introduced and only those responsible stewards who had been faithful in their stewardship of earthly wealth will be entrusted with the true riches (wealth, status, budgets etc.) of Heaven.  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammonwho will commit to your trust the true riches[Luke 16:11]. 

6.5 God runs a 'Divine Employment Agency' searching for accountable, honest, industrious and reliable employees and stewards, political leaders and statesmen & women with integrity here on earth to be 'deployed' to responsible positions in Paradise one day. This idea may sound silly and implausible to the atheist and/or sceptic, but Jesus has warned: 

   "He [JESUS] said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I comeBut his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us
   "And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by tradingThen came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities
   "And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five poundsAnd he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five citiesAnd another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkinFor I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 
   "Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usuryAnd he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.  (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)  For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him." [Luke 19:12-26].

6.6 He has warned us not to become too enamoured with the 'system'. In the final analysis, Jesus has warned us not to allow ourselves to be fooled, hijacked, diverted or distracted (or taken hostage) by the temptations inherent in the 'system':

   [Matthew 16:26]  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul  
   [John 12:25]  He that loveth his life shall lose itand he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal  
   [Matthew 13:44]  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field
   [Matthew 13:46]  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

7. WHY DID JESUS CHRIST BECOME PART OF 'THE SYSTEM'?  In the first place is God not selfish ... LOVE gives ... sacrifices. Secondly was/is Jesus Christ the supreme long-term strategist; He did so because of the JOY that was promised Him. The Bible says:


   [Hebrews 12:2]  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

   I am an ardent supporter of the idea of 'Exchange Theory' (Homans, Blau, Emerson) which basically means that people usually will be engaged in strategies or activities that will help them to exchange their less favourable situation, condition or disposition for a more favourable one. People are constantly 'bartering', whether financially or socially, and the prospect of the suffering of the cross was, for Christ, made tolerable when He considered the prize or benefits He would have won (and did win) in exchange for it. 
   In order to make our suffering on earth more tolerable, we should endeavour to do the same, considering the Apostle Paul's great 'promise':

   [1 Corinthians 2:9]  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 



DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE
   I herewith accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, and therefore put my trust and my future in the Wisdom of God and the Ministry, Teachings, Sacrifice, Death, Blood, Resurrection and Righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (as presented to the world in the narratives of the Old & New Testaments of the Bible) for the Forgiveness of my sins, Reconciliation with God and for Eternal Salvation. May the Mercy, Grace and Favour of God follow me all the days of my life.

                                Signed                                                  Date

'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 
[Revelation 22:17]

                           (Copy & Paste the Signed Declaration  into your Bible)


"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."
[Exodus 33:19b] 

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