Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Against Economics

I wrote my impressions as I read this article.  H/T to my old virtual friend Nanute.

Since some time in the 80’s we’ve had the great stagnation.  Presumably less volatility [and low inflation,] but at the cost of slower average economic growth.  Yet we had the recession of 2001, which was bad enough, and then the great recession of ’08 - from which we have yet to recover.  So - in my view - it has not at all been worth it.

As I see it, inflation is a resultant, not a cause.  It’s the result of a healthy, growing economy - and therefore - at the very least - not a bad thing, per se.  When conservative economists voice their concerns about inflation, it seems like there is always the implicit but unmentioned specter of hyper-inflation lurking over their shoulder.  Except under very rare and special circumstances, that is not a concern.  But I think Hayek was deeply influenced by that fear, and  passed it on to his acolytes.

What we have now is economic disparity similar to that of the 1920’s.  This gets worse every day, as more money flows into the hands of the wealthy and hyper-wealthy.  It then gets hidden in a tax dodge, often off-shore; diverted into non-value-added speculative financial tail chasing; or, maybe worst of all, used to buy another senator.  This does exactly nothing to promote a healthy, prosperous economy.

Put a dollar in a poor person's hands and it gets into the productive economy immediately, because s/he has unmet needs.  This is not rocket science.

Several years ago, one of my Angry Bear colleagues - I’ve forgotten who - put forth the idea that economics as an intellectual discipline was invented to mainly justify the existence of a dominant wealthy class. I’m not sure that’s exactly correct, but following orthodox economics in our post-capitalist world seems to have the effect of increasing wealth disparity. 

I also believe that nobody really understands either money, nor inflation.  The classicists, neoclassicists, monetarists, Austrians, Keynesians, neo-Keynesians, market monetarists and MMT guys all have different ideas of how money works. They can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong. 

The empirical reality is that austerity impoverishes, and government spending leads to some relative level of prosperity.  What do we do to get out of recessions and depressions?  Spend, spend, spend.  I wonder why that works?

But, alas, wealth and power are fungible, and the rich cannot resist the urge to buy control of government and then seek to enforce policies that further favor their already exalted positions.  So we get things like austerity and low inflation.  Another thing that’s happened over the last 40 years is the dismantling of unions.  Only government and unions have the power to stand up to capital.  So capital has suborned government and pretty much destroyed unions.

Interestingly, the author posits that, contrary to orthodoxy, central banks don’t control the money supply; they control interest rates.  I’m on record saying they don’t even do that. The blow back I got on that was mainly that they set expectations, and interest rates follow.  Not only does this seem like magical thinking - or, at least dog-wagging, I also wonder whose expectations?  How many people are even aware of central banks, let alone what they can or cannot do?

I’m writing this as I read, and see my thoughts have gotten a bit ahead of the author.  But I’m happy to see we are in broad agreement.  Especially about the disastrous effects of austerity.  So why do we repeat this same error so many times?  The author has the answer buried in parentheses: “tight-money policies (which benefited creditors and the wealthy)”

Interestingly, he then goes on to criticize what I was harping about several years ago - that when reality differs from an economic model, economist go with the model and deny reality. The basic assumption that people are reliably rational actors is absurd on its face.  It is completely indefensible.  Yet, on that foundation, the entire edifice of scholarly economics rests. 

And here is my favorite quote from the article — “lunatic premises lead to mad conclusions.”  This, by the way, is also the fundamental flaw of libertarianism - but I digress.

Aha - some competition for my favorite quote: “Secondly, if shares are always correctly priced, bubbles and crises cannot be generated by the market….” Or even the types of 1500 to 2000 point CORRECTIONS [!] we’ve seen three times in the DJI30 index, just this year.

I share the pessimism of the article’s last paragraph.  But for what might be a slightly different reason.  As I suggested earlier, the rich control the government.  The difference between Republicans and Democrats in this dimension is a matter of degree, not kind. It took the Great Depression to bring about the New Deal reforms that led to America’s golden age.  But it also brought on World War II.  The current economic conditions are closer to those of 90 years ago than most people are aware of, or willing to recognize. And there is certainly no dearth of international tensions.

So, there might be a light at the end of this tunnel we’ve been digging for 3 or 4 decades. But the journey to the other side - if we can even get there - is likely to be long and very painful.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

More Right Wingery

So a nice right wing lady had this to say about my characterization of the right-wing mind.

 Why not write a book? your "great" analysis is lost here. So what? "Reality" is in the eye of the beholder and your reality is different than mine. "Magical thinking" is saved for progressives that insist that Socialism will work, even as Venezuela starves it's people and hospitals have no drugs. there is no magical thinking within my reality....the fact you even write about it is crazy! Give me an example of Conservative magical thinking----๐Ÿ˜

I am not making this up.  She really did say: "Reality" is in the eye of the beholder and your reality is different than mine. 

My response:
If my great analysis is lost on you, it's because you aren't willing to do the hard mental work of acquiring information, digesting it, and using rational thought processes to drive your conclusions.
We all have opinions. A rational, thoughtful person puts some effort into having those opinions correspond as closely as can be achieved with actual observable reality.
Magical thinking is the notion that thinking, believing, or hoping for something makes it true, irrespective of evidence.
Examples of conservative magical thinking:
The unregulated free market is the best market - there is "an invisible hand."
Tax cuts for the rich help the economy.
Tax cuts pay for themselves.
Every other aspect of supply-side trickle down economics.
Having a business man run government will give the best results - because he's NOT a politician.
A Border wall is a solution to immigration and/or smuggling issues.
Mexico will pay for the wall.
Man's action can't affect climate because God is in control.
More broadly, all climate change denialism.
God chose Bush and/or Trump to be president.
White race superiority.
Trade wars are good and easy to win.
Alliances are easy to form and maintain.
Tariffs imposed here are paid for by other countries.
Vaccines cause autism.
But you summed it up perfectly, yourself: "Reality is in the eye of the beholder and your reality is different than mine."
As if your subjective notions and opinions are just as good as my facts, data and empirical observations. That is magical thinking in a nutshell.
Thank you for proving my point.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Right Wingery

I've been engaging right wingers in various contexts for over a decade now. Here is my view of how their minds work - and it's stereotypical: you see the same things over and over and over.
The foundation for their belief system is fear and a deep negativity.
Their world view is based on -
- ignorance
- prejudice
- reality denial
- magical thinking
This is supported by cherry picking favorable bits of data and information, while ignoring the larger picture -- epistemic closure. The flip side is steadfastly holding on to ideas that are demonstrably not true - the entire genre of ridiculous conspiracy theories.
Their technique of argumentation is -
- deny
- delay
- distract
- deflect
Hence their tendencies toward what-about-ism, changing the subject and personal attacks.
They manifest all this with the trifecta of right wing behaviors -
- projection
- an often stunning lack of self awareness
- tone deafness to irony
Be on the look out for these things. It is how they always operate. Because when when facts, data and all the other aspects of reality are not on your side, what else are you going to do?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Taking Stock 9/27

Here is a graph of the activity in the Dow Jones Industrial Index since the beginning of the month.

Dow Jone Industrial Average, Sept, 2-27, 2019

The black line at the top of the graph is a projection of the all time high of 27398.68, reached on July 16 of this year. The local high on 9/12 of 27306.73 didn't quite get there.
A couple weeks ago I drew a trend channel around the August decline, but that fell apart pretty quickly. Stock market analysis in real time is always dicey, and you can't fall in love with what you thought you saw.
Back at it, I've drawn a new declining trend channel, outlined in purple that looks like it began around 9/12. instead of just going by daily closings, this is now based on the intraday highs and lows. That's better and more complete information. Daily highs are in green, lows in red, and closings in blue. The midline of the channel is in yellow.

Note a couple of things. First, all the action this week is contained by the Tuesday high and low, 27079.68 and 26704.96, respectively. In Eliot wave terms, this suggests counter current action, and it's pretty week. I'm not very good at this, but I'm reading it as wave 4 of a five wave impulse decline that should play out in the next week or two. Wave 4 is unfolding and might take a few more days.
Wave 5 follows. Suppose wave 4 ends at 26900. Then a target range for the wave 5 bottom would be between 26330 and 26490.
Second, the center line of the trend channel has been a magnet for daily high, low and closing values. Since 9/12, several of these have wound up at or near that line.
This might seem like a cross between mumbo-jumpbo and science fiction. But I've been amazed by how many real world phenomena, and stock market action in particular, moves within channels.
I'll be very interested in seeing how this develops, and if my pessimism is validated.
For a big-picture view, see this post.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Taking Stock

My recent bold prediction did not come to pass.  The recent channel I thought looked pretty good got blown away rather quickly.  So, it's time to step back and have another look.  Here in Graph 1 is a view of the Dow industrials index over this century.

Graph 1 - Dow Industrials since 2000

I have highlighted some trend channels.  The light green lines contain the first big rise of the century.  They are projected into the present, which might or might not mean anything.  The heavy purple lines indicate the present trend channel from the recovery after the 2008 recession.  The yellow line was the top channel border until the index burst through in 2017.  This effectively doubled the width of the channel - this happens sometimes - and it is now the center line of the channel.

The red line connects two major bottoms.  Whether that has any significance is yet to be demonstrated.  This is the big picture, covering close to two decades of index movement.

This recovery is now over a decade old, which is quite rare. Further, I find it hard to believe that American industry is worth about 1.75x as much as it did 3 1/2 years ago. The bold move that occurred through 2017 looks a lot like irrational exuberance.  What reasonable explanation is there for most of that 75% rise happening in the first year of the Trump administration?  Since then, with a lot of gyrations, the index has gone essentially nowhere.

Graph 2 is a closer focus on the index during the recovery since 2008. This is just for perspective.  Can it make any kind of sense that the nominal value of the Dow 30 industrials has increased by more than a factor of 4 in the last decade?

Graph 2 - Dow industrials since 2008

Graph 3 is a look at the Dow Industrial Index during this calendar year.  The heavy green line connects the 3 tops since early 2018. The light green lines are the extended trend borders from the pre-2008 upward trend.  The yellow and red lines are as described above.  The orange lines might be the current short term decline trend channel- but it's not pretty, and I've been fooled before.

Graph 3 - Dow industrials, Jan 1 to Sept 24, 2019

My current sense is that we are now post peak.  If the index were to rise above the heavy green line, then this idea would be refuted.  The next resistance would then be at the top purple line that you can see going off the top at the left side of Graph 3.  But I think we're going down from here.  Each of the light green lines might offer some resistance.  You can see this has already been happening at several points during the year.

Should the index continue down, the next major resistance level would be yellow line - the channel center line, since I have no faith in the potential orange channel. If that is breached, the red line might come into play.  After that, it's the bottom purple line shown in Graphs 1 and 2.  This could happen somewhere between 20000 and 22000, depending on the timing and fall rate of the decline.

If that is breached, there might be support near 15500, the double bottom surrounding the beginning of 2016.  A 61.8% decline of the entire gain from the 2008 bottom would put a target low at about 14500.  A 50% decline would put the low around 17000.

This gives a broad range of potential resistance targets that land in the range of index values from CYs 2014 through 2016. For reference, that time period is shown in Graph 4.  Back then, the yellow line was a hard upper barrier, and the purple line was robust support.  When situations reverse, support and resistance lines can exchange their functions. If all of these potential support levels are breached, the entire gain from 2009 could be given back.

Graph 4 - Dow Industrials from 2014 through 2016

Of course, that is [I hope] worst case, and every bit of this is speculative. September is historically a weak months for stocks, but this year it has gained back most of the 2000 or so points lost in August.  On average, Octobers have been net positive, but the most dramatic historical declines [1929, 1988] have been in October, which is right around the corner.

Things don't happen to satisfy my expectations.  But I am quite pessimistic.  This recovery has been over-long for quite a while already, so we're way over-due for a major correction.  Trump's economic and trade policies are based on abysmal ignorance, have already done significant harm, and those buzzards will be coming home to roost some time soon. If you think the national debt level is important, it has ballooned under Trump - contrary to his campaign lies. Unsecured consumer debt is at a historically high level.  Our economy is about 70% dependent on consumer spending.  How can that continue when wages have been static for 40+ years, even when inflation is low?  This is why personal debt is high.  People have leveraged their livelihood, and are badly over-extended.  Where are future profits going to come from?  If things get tough and lay-offs occur, spending and profits will take bigger hits. This is how things spiral out of control.

Maybe there is some reason for optimism that I'm overlooking.  If so, point it out in comments.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Taking Stock

My bold prediction on FaceBook a week ago today was that within 2 to 3 weeks we'll see the DJI below 23,500, and under 22,000 in a few weeks after that. Yes, I am anticipating the worst.

As of today's closing, the DJI is down 285.16 points, ending at 26,118.09. The attached chart is the DJI daily closing values over the last few months. It includes a mid-day value, when the DJI was down about 360, instead of today's closing.  But that changes nothing.

DJI closings since May 1.  Data from Yahoo finance.

The purple lines near the top and bottom of the chart are the borders of the long-term trading channel, since the 2009 recovery.

The current short-term trend channel is indicated in orange. [Yes, there are channels within channels.] It takes a while to determine that a new channel has been established. This one began no later than the first week of July, and looks pretty sound. Of course, a trend only lasts until it doesn't.

The thin green line was the top of an old trading channel from 2002 to the crash in 2008, projected across time to the present. It converges with the top of the current orange channel on Sept. 27.  Resistance and support lines can switch identities over time, so what happens between now and then will be interesting. You can see it's already acted as a support line within the orange channel. Interestingly, the bottom of the 2002-2008 channel [not shown] converges with the red line [see below], right about now. So there could be a cluster of support lines near 2400 - 2500.

One of these is the yellow line, the midline of the very broad trading channel continuing from the 2009-on recovery. A meaningful break of that line will probably indicate that we are in serious bear market territory.

The red line is projected from the Feb 2016 and Dec 2018 bottoms. It is also a possible support line.

The bottom purple line is the lower border of a decade-long trend channel, and the most important support level. It that is breached, there will be a panic, and all hell will break loose.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day - Who Should We Remember?

This is the day we quite properly remember those in our various military services who lives were lost in either gaining or preserving our freedom - the American revolution, civil war and world wars I and II. We’ve lost many more service people since then, including over 4000 in Iraq. Sadly, all of these lives were lost in vain. Our freedom was never an issue in any of these incidents. They were fought for a variety of far less worthy reasons. Perhaps the best of them is due to an ideology. Though that is far from noble. The worst of them is to line the pockets of war profiteers like Dick Cheney.

So I honor the memory of those who died in a noble cause, but grieve in profound sadness for those whose lives were not only lost, by wasted for poor or terrible reasons.
And who else should we grieve for? How about the innocent civilians - men, women and children - of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and My Lai? And the many 10’s of thousands of Iraqis who were victims of our unjust and unjustifiable aggression?
What about the Japanese and German soldiers who gave their lives for their respective countries? Should we spare a thought for them? Didn't they have mothers, fathers, siblings, children, lovers?
Consider the kidnapped Africans and their generations of offspring whose freedom was taken for our economic benefit. Shouldn’t we honor their memory as well? Their lives were also sacrificed for us and our freedom.
Let's also not ignore the genocide our government and military perpetrated against Native Americans. Wasn’t that a part of American expansion? Weren’t those lives given for our benefit?
So my feelings are mixed on memorial day. Pondering these questions makes me deeply uncomfortable.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I'll start off saying that I'm an agnostic with atheistic tendencies.  Only my general skepticism about everything keeps me from being a complete atheist.  I do believe that if we happen some day to discover that there is indeed such a thing as a God, She/He/It/They will have scant, if any, resemblance to what is portrayed in any of the religions popular among humans.  Given all of that, though, I can call myself a Christian, in complete sincerity, and with no sense of irony.  More on that later.

Way back in the shrouding mists of prehistory, early man started grappling with the important and ultimate fundamental questions of life, the universe and everything.  These are, in my estimation --

1) What in the hell is going on here?

2) What am I supposed to do about it?

Two approaches to grappling with these vexing conundrums are science and religion.  Some people don't like the idea that these two vastly different approaches spring from the same basic human quest for knowledge, and I've been ridiculed for proposing it. This is generally because someone has a personal bias toward one or the other.  But if you think in terms of the fundamental questions, it all makes sense.

Science seeks to understand the universe through rigorous systematic empirical observation, reason and logic.  It's pretty good at addressing the first question; but might not take us very far in addressing the second.  Of course, the scientific study of the results and effects of human actions can reveal some knowledge of what appropriate behaviors ought to be.  Natural phenomena like plate tectonics or global climate change, and policies like supply-side economics can be studied and understood.  Sadly, though, humans are only semi-rational beings, and the clear conclusions of scientific inquiry can become clouded by bias, epistemic closure, and contrary economic or political interest.

Religion on the other hand, seeks understanding through observation that is less systematic and more anecdotal, introspection and mysticism. It involves the assumed validity of prophecies, omens, and the interpretation of natural phenomena as signs from God.  As such, it has a lot in common with superstition - but that is not the field I intend to plow today.  Religion addresses the first question via creation myths - which in themselves can be quite creative, but not particularly useful in obtaining a greater understanding of the physical world - and observations which are far too often seen through the distorting lenses of religious bias, magical thinking and denialism. The second question leads to inquiries about human beings' relationship with and responsibilities toward God, God's relationship with and responsibilities toward human beings, and humans' relationships and responsibilities with each other.

Since the nature of God is unknowable, speculations about any relationship involving Her/Him/It/Them are ultimately totally subjective.  This is why there are so many radically different religions and God concepts around the world and throughout history.  In one aspect, though, almost all God concepts share a single, specific characteristic: the Deity is remarkably human-like.  God may be conceived of as all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, but still shows disturbing signs of human frailties like anger, jealousy, tendencies toward wanton destruction, grudge-holding, and an intolerance toward contrary points of view.

So the logical person can justifiably look upon religion with some contempt.

But doing so, at least in the context of Christianity, is often based on reading the Bible literally, and assuming it is - or is professed to be - the inerrant inspired word of God.

I see lots of criticisms that implicitly rely on this kind of reasoning.  Here is an example that generated a long discussion on Face Book.

Source not known

I objected to this as being ahistorical and misleading.  Slavery existed among the Israelites, but it had little in common with the chattel slavery that is such a horrible blight on our own American history.  It was more similar to indentured servitude.  Other New Testament writings refer to what were likely other forms of slavery in the Roman world, giving behavioral advice to both slaves and masters.

But put yourself in the position of someone proselytizing in a world where slavery is a reality, and your ability to change it is exactly 0 to an infinite number of decimal places. What do you do then, as a practical matter if your goal is to bring the world more in line with the teachings of Jesus? [If you are unsure about what these are, the short answer is found here.]  You admonish the masters to treat their slaves humanely, and the slaves to not do things that will incite the master's wrath.  This is simple good sense, and it is the message you find in the Bible.

So this meme is fundamentally unfair on at least two levels, and - in my opinion - is dishonestly motivated.  First, it misrepresents the nature of slavery that the O.T referred to.  Next, it criticizes moral admonishments about attempting to improve current reality from a 2000+ year later perspective.

But it's actually worse than that.  There is an explicitly stated error of composition, assuming that even IF the Bible were morally deficient in its commentary on slavery, that the rest of it's collected writings - assembled by a wide variety of writers over many hundreds of years - would be invalidated.

And still even more worse - to get back to my original point - the meme only makes sense if the Bible is taken to be the literal word of God rather than the situational best efforts of imperfect human beings.  In this way, some critics make the identical error that the fundamentalists and evangelicals make.  As an aside, this argument was not well received on FB, but I'm sticking by my guns - both there and here.

So, what does all this have to do with my claim to be a Christian? First off, though I'm not a believer, I do take seriously that there is - along with a lot of dross - some real wisdom, some valid moral pronouncements, and reasonable advice for living an enlightened life in the Bible, and most particularly in the teachings and example of Jesus. [See the link above.]

I recognize that I am an imperfect human being, with my own sad litany of vices, personality defects, episodes of faulty reasoning and lapses in judgment.  But I look at the way Jesus admonishes us to live and take that advice seriously.  Of course, I sin and falter.  But I get up, dust off, and try to better tomorrow - which is really all anyone can do.

In conclusion, I'll point out that there is no historical proof that the person we call Jesus ever did tread the dusty roads of ancient Palestine with his band of merry men.  Further, the gospels were written no less than 3 decades later than the events they allegedly portray - and almost certainly not by actual eye witnesses.  So the whole Jesus myth might well be a complete fiction.

But - and I mean this with total sincerity - it doesn't matter.  The message, wherever it came from, and by whatever suspect and convoluted means it came to us, is a good one that provides valid guidance for leading a life that respects the lives of others and improves the quality of human life in general.

And that's what counts.

The Tigers - 47 Games In

The Tigers have scored in double digits this year only twice - a 12-11 loss to the White Sox a month ago, and a 10-3 win over the Angels on May 8.

They've scored 9 runs twice, and won both of those games, giving up 7 to the White Sox on April 18, and 8 to the Mets last night.  Scoring a boat load of runs to eke out a close win might be exciting entertainment, but it's not very good baseball by either team.

The Tigers have been shut out 5 times, and blown out [losing by 6 runs or more] 9 times.  They recorded a 2-0 shut out win on opening day vs the Jays, but none since. They've only blown out an opponent once - that 10-3 victory over the Angels mentioned above.

They are scoring 3.55 runs per game to the opponent's 5.53.  Last night's home run derby added about 0.2 to each of those numbers.

Their current win percentage still projects to a lousy 62-100 season.  But their dreadful run differential suggests a horrific 48-114.

The team batting average is a dismal .224. Cabrera has been hitting well lately and has brought his BA up to a more Miggy-like .306. Two weeks ago, it was .286.  But it's a big drop-off to the next best - Castellanos at .267.  Ronny Rod, after going 0 for 5 last night, is at .250.  The rest of the team - you don't even want to know.  Unless you want to count pitcher Gregory Soto who went 2-2 last night and is batting 1.000. Case in point - Josh Harrison went 1 for 5, and his BA increased by a point.

Jacoby Jones, whose BA is measured in milligrams, went 2 for 5 with a home and a double, driving in 4 runs.  So there is your unlikely hero.

Soto did ok on the mound for 3 innings, but the wheels game off in the 4th when he gave up 4 runs, and the lead, giving him an ERA of 11.2.  I thought the Tigers were done at that point.  But they never gave up, and their 3 run 7th secured the win, despite giving up a run in the 8th.

The win went to Buck Farmer, the 3rd of 6 pitchers.  Shane Greene registered his 16th save in 17 attempts. That's pretty amazing on a team with only 19 wins.  What it indicates that almost ever one of those wins was a squeaker.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Christians Without Jesus - It's a Thing

3/31 Update:  Full disclosure -- I'm not much of a believer; but my lovely wife and I have found a church that we like.  The message is positive and accepting, the sermons are thoughtful and thought-inspiring, I've gotten deeply involved in the music program, and I absolutely love the people there - as individuals and as a community.  For the first time in my life, I'm enthusiastic about going to church!

This mural is in the narthex, right by the front door.  This, in my not so humble opinion is doing Christianity the right way.

How all this happened is a story for another day. What I want to talk about now are walls.  They are the sermon theme for this Lenten season, and today's was about the walls we all build that separate us from each other.  Walls built around geography, race, politics, gender, gender identity, social status, and economic position.

What didn't get mentioned are the walls due to religion.  The ones between Christians and Muslims, Jews or non-believers are pretty obvious.  But there is also a high and thick wall within Christianity, separating the conservative [or as I think of it, regressive] and progressive approaches.  Roger Wolsey does a deep dive into this in his book Kissing Fish, which has informed a lot of my thinking.

Below is a thing that happened on Twitter on Friday evening.  John Pavlovitz, in case you don't know of him, is a progressive Christian writer who I follow and respect.  Both he and Wolsey get a lot of flack from regressives who accuse them of heresy, when they are simply relating the clear and obvious message of Jesus. The exchange below illustrates what the wall within Christianity looks like.

In retrospect, I probably could have been more charitable.  But, let's face it, I'm a smart ass, and that usually comes into play. 


On Twitter John Pavlovitz posted this -

First response I saw was from this guy -

Christian minister.  This was his response.

JK: You perverse filthy hypocrite: If you knew anything about the Scriptures you would Know that GOD does hold humanity in contempt: & that every leader on earth, whether Good or bad; is put in place By Him.

I don't know if there is some prior history between the two Johns, but the viciousness of this attack, right out of the box is nothing short of stunning. Intrigued by this, I responded.

Me: Please provide specific scriptural references indicating -
1) God's contempt for mankind;
2) God puts leaders in place on earth.

Really - this is fascinating.  I'll wait.

Then this -

Me: I'm especially interested in how you deal with --

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;"
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." 

These lines are in Genesis, in case you need help finding them.

God bless you!

It gets better.

JK: Way too much work for an account with only 71 followers: Provide the Scriptures That challenge what I said; or do the work yourself: I don't owe you anything troll

Me: Your measure of worth - Twitter followers?
I provided those scriptures in my follow up comment. It's clear in Genesis. Read it.
You, sir, are exactly why people are leaving the faith. They are not inspired by your message of hate. 
You are the troll.
May God have mercy on you.

Me:  Translating John Keister: My hateful opinion is contrary to scripture. I can't defend so I'll hope that nobody notices.
Not a good look, John.
Translating me:
Sorry John - we are noticing.  Me and all 71 of my followers - 70 thoughtful people and one smart dog.
God's mercy on you.

Responses on Twitter get non-linear.  I'm piecing this together as best I can.

JK: The First Message Of Jesus Is: You're eternally damned to everlasting death: Confess & Repent Of your sins: Only then Shall you Be Saved  *

JK:  You like {Genesis 6: 5+11} Educate yourself & Keep your fake blessing

Me:  Fake?  On what do you base that?  Your prejudice?
You memorize verses but have no understanding.
Jesus teaches love and you spew hate.
I am educating myself, with hope and humility.
I don't think you can make that claim.
You're the fake. You know words, but you don't know Jesus.

Me: Sorry - I ran out of space to offer a blessing.

I hope God softens your heart, opens your mind, and frees your spirit so you can see that judging is God's business; and that love, inclusion and acceptance are your business. Sheep and goats, amigo.

May God have mercy on you.

JK: Unlike you, I Know Every Scripture In The Bible & Understand most of them: & On Judgement Day you're not going to blame your sins on me hypocrite: #ForTheRecord I Speak for GOD, not you

Me:  Oh, blah, blah, blah. You know nothing abt me, let alone hypocrisy. Nice projection BTW. What you've shown here is that you are prideful, arrogant, hateful, judgmental, and deeply un-Christlike.
The message of Jesus is clear: love and forgiveness.
Go read it.
May God forgive you.

JK: {Luke 13: 1-9} This is the last you get from me: You're muted fool

Me: John really needs to apply Luke 13: 1-9 to himself.

He has the right wing trifecta in spades: projection, tone-deafness to irony, and a stunning lack of self awareness.

He might think he's won by muting me, but all he's done is run away and hide.

It's pitiful. I'm sad for him.

TiredSouthernLibtard interjects -
You might wanna bow out of this thread *Pastor Keister* - you're sorta kinda getting owned...

JK:  Pay attention: My GOD Has Owned everyone in this thread: You're nothing

TSL: And Christ be with you as well. I - like all of us - was created in God's image - so I claim FAR from nothing. ☺ Thank the Lord I was never exposed to a *minister* such as yourself. wow

JK: You pathetic hypocrite; you tweeted๐Ÿ’ฉ @ me first: Beat it: You got schooled #Seeya

TSL:  (and maybe - as a *minister* - not post ๐Ÿ’ฉ emojis... ๐Ÿ˜ฎ)

Me: I guess the minister has forgotten his wonton attack on @johnpavlovitz at the top of this thread.  No self-awareness.

* Me, in a later response:
I really want to see this verse.  Too bad he's muted me.

What I didn't realize in real time is that this: {Genesis 6: 5+11} were the verses he meant. Here's Genesis 6.  God regrets having created us.  Once we were good and now we are nothing but evil. You'd think an all-knowing, all-powerful God would have had a clue. But that's the Bible for you - chose the passages that seem to support your point of view. This is in the Jewish part of the Bible, and I never hear Jews speak this way.  Haters gotta hate, though, and here is their scriptural support. It's conservative [and false] Christianity at its worst.

There's more between JK and TSL, and lots of other comments from other posters, but you get the idea.

It's kind of fun, in a perverse way, to jab the hornet's nest and find there's nothing in it but a slug. But this whole thing just made me sad.  What this minister [?!?] puts forth is such a hateful perversion of the message of Jesus, that reading his words leaves me in despair - not just for Christianity, but for the whole human race.

Here's Luke 13: 1-9.  It's kind of about repentance, but also kind of about fertilizing your fig tree, avoiding discouragement, and best of all - hope.  Where John Keister sees a negative message of despair and cruel judgement, I see a positive message of hope of and redemption.  What do you see?

4/03 Update:  Then today, this happened.  I just makes me sadder.

It just keeps getting worse.