The American Empire Has No Moral Authority

W.J. Astore

On his new show at The Real News, Chris Hedges recently spoke with Cornel West on the state of America. It’s not easy listening, nor should it be. Brother Chris and Brother Cornel didn’t mince words as they deplored the commodification of American life, the militarism of American society, and the imperialism of the U.S. empire. Here’s the link to their interview:

I jotted down key phrases as I listened to both men. Phrases like spiritual decadence, bootlickers for war, mass incarceration, self-glorification and self-indulgence, the Neo-fascism of Trump followers versus the Neo-liberalism of Democrats, and that the American empire has no moral authority, given its “vicious atrocities” in Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Brother Cornel was especially strong on the seductive dangers of nationalism, the grotesque wealth inequality here at home, and a U.S. political system deeply compromised by legalized bribery and normalized corruption. Reality is defined by a corporatized state in which profit maximization is pursued at any cost, including impending ecological catastrophe, where education is reduced to indoctrination, vocations are reduced to professions, and callings reduced to careers.

Sure, it’s grim stuff, but the truth is often grim. Nor are these two men irredeemably grim. Both spoke of the need to be faithful unto death, to resist the paralysis that comes from despair. Both are fighters and truth-tellers; both are men of faith and men of action; both are humanistic. And both are most assuredly worth listening to.

Brother Cornel’s message is ultimately one of love. Of joy-sharing. Of thinking for yourself. Of becoming a force for good and beauty and justice in the world. Of empowering others through an expansive and inclusive humanism. His is the perfect message for this Easter season, a season of rebirth and hope, of salvation through sacrifice and love.

47 thoughts on “The American Empire Has No Moral Authority

  1. “Easter”, “rebirth”, and “salvation through vicarious sacrifice” – all mythical concepts with pretty wobbly stone age foundations.
    .
    “A virgin can conceive. A dead body can walk again. Your leprosy can be cured. The blind can see. Nonsense. It’s not moral to lie to children. It’s not moral to lie to ignorant, uneducated people and tell them that if they only would believe nonsense, they can be saved. It’s immoral.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

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    1. thank you for reminding us of my personal cynosure, christopher hitchens, den. despite the religious myth-making overtones, chris hedges and cornel west do offer ethical reminders of how we can avail our benighted selves to more compassionate, fair-minded, and less judgemental behavioural modalities.

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  2. Any opportunity to listen to Chris Hedges and Cornel West should always be embraced. Thanks for the link.

    I think your last paragraph really sums up the message they have both been consistent with over the years. It is about becoming a human being who seeks an inclusive view for everyone sharing the planet. As noted in a long ago speech (JFK), we all breathe the same air; we all love our children; and we are all mortal.

    It seems to me that pessisism about the current state of the world is related to like much else: self-gratification; it’s bad and won’t get better for me. Both Chris Hedges and Cornel West remind us – with references to past moral leaders, philosophers, and writers that we are part of the struggle and that’s our role – to build a better world than the one we live in or may ever see.

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  3. Tom, Hitchin’s thoughts on moral leaders, philosophers, and writers……

    “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” ~ Christopher Hitchens.

    “Morality comes from humanism and is stolen by religion for its own purposes.” ~ Christopher Hitchens.

    “Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did” ~ Christopher Hitchens.

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      1. hitchens was anti-religion for moral, historical, and resoundingly sound reasons, wja… as i suspect, for similar reasons, merwood and i are. we are all opportunistic evangelists of one hue or another, whether for profit, scientific research, professional advance, ethical clarions, military incursions, politicking, marketeering, or racketeering. religiosity has commandeered humanistic ethical behaviours from the tenebrous eons of shamanism, as well as, admittedly, invoking them for the agape-good. we are quite pluripotent and contradictory in that respect. if judeo-xian believers want a ‘good book’ to guide their behaviours, they should set about rewriting the hideously deleterious OT and most of the NT.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. “Let’s spell this out, atheists have no beliefs in common, no gods of any kind, nothing they worship, no scripture, no shared values, and no dogma. They have no clergy, no schools, and no sacred buildings. The only thing all atheists share is a lack of belief in gods.

        Why then do the religious so often claim atheism is a religion? You’ll have to ask religious people that question. Perhaps it is an attempt to drag atheism down to the level of a religion—a set of unsubstantiated beliefs, in a landscape where beliefs are held only on faith. If so, they would be completely wrong about that too.”

        Atheist Alliance International

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        1. the religious crwth, den, claim we atheists, nullifidians, and agnostics are actually religionists b/c it is the only lens through which the more intransigent god-yapping proselytizers perceive reality. any other ‘reality’ is to them the apotheosis of mendacity, self-delusion, or maleficence.

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    1. “Thanks to the Telescope & the Microscope Religion no longer offers an explanation for anything important.” I think it was by Hitchens as well who said that. He was very thought provoking whatever your belief system is! Of course everyone here knows my stand by now as a Humanist with no regard for Deities, or delusions of the Godhood of Man either– just a higher form of Ape are we! God being Nature and its own real irretrievable Laws.

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    2. As I’ve said before, French existentialists (e.g., Sartre and Camus) pointed out decades ago that religion is not necessary for morality. Morality is a societal contract, and varies from culture to culture. It has no bearing on a belief in superior beings. A thoroughly moral, decent atheist is no rarer a creature than a Bible-thumping blackguard.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Bill, what is “a season of rebirth and hope”? – is that akin to “a season of making America Great Again?” LOL

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  5. All I did was mention Easter, and I get lectured that there’s no god. Really?

    Isn’t spring a season of rebirth, associated with Easter?

    I’m happy to hear some of my readers don’t believe in gods and deities, but why is this something worthy of being posted here in response to this article? Did the dreaded word “Easter” trigger you?

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  6. Be glad that you don’t live in New Zealand Bill. All retail stores must be closed on Easter Monday. I keep telling them that Easter Monday is no different to any other Monday for us heathens.

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    1. In Quebec everything is open on Good Friday and closed on Monday. It’s opposite in Ontario just across the river. Closed on Good Friday and open Monday.
      We do get more paid holidays for Jesus than for any other reason.
      Christmas, New Year, Easter and Thanksgiving

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      1. we ‘heathens’ rjc, are less concerned w/ profit and wages, holidays or no, than we are about what is ethical in our behavioural relationships w/ those who need our support, compassion, and agape, no matter what religion, spirituality, or non-religious ambit anyone subscribes to in this post-ghandi, post-james baldwin, post- malcolm X era. it is curious to me how you perceive your god-fearing, god-besotted mental habitat: is your god [whose image you are putatively made in] black, white, coloured, blue-eyed, brown-eyed, hazel-eyed, blonde, dark-haired, deformed, w/ male genitalia, female genitalia, or ambiguous genitalia? your ‘holy book’ claims that your god made you in ‘his image’. as a femme, i don’t fit that definition of this doctrinal declarative. your ‘holy book’ does not accommodate the majority of the human species, never mind non-human life forms who are equally relevant.

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        1. Jeanie you forgot all my postings on this site about Jesus having a totally different attitude toward Women going against the prevailing Culture and attitudes of that Time, treating Women as equal to men.

          In my view, this World still goes by the terms of the Old Testament of’ an eye for an eye and God creating Good and Evil, making War and Peace.’

          Only those Individuals who accept the God and Father of Jesus in the New Testament, have total Confidence and Faith the God of Jesus is Perfect Love and a Peace Maker.
          As for those who claim to be Christians and are not, the record is clear in the Book,
          You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
          This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
          But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
          Matthew 15:7
          The record in the Book is very clear to those awakened to the Spirit.
          Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
          Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
          And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

          The best weapon the adversary has is using blind, religious hypocrites to turn people off from the Truth and Goodness of God.

          Blessed are the Peace Makers, for they shall be called the Children of God.
          Peace Makers are banned from expressing their views on TV with no dissent permitted with their role of being the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse in the current US/NATO War Propaganda inciting for Children of War with more Weapons and War, having abandoned all attempts at Good Faith Diplomacy to DE-escalate. The US wants War!

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          1. if your beliefs bring you joy and respect for ‘the other’, rja, then you are well-positioned to dedicate your life to peace-making, but it is arrogant, de-haut-en-bas, and chauvinistic to claim:

            “Only those Individuals who accept the God and Father of Jesus in the New Testament, have total Confidence and Faith the God of Jesus is Perfect Love and a Peace Maker.”

            all dennis, philip, and i are claiming is that we too are striving to navigate our own selcouth ways through this complex world comprised of complex individuals, as peacefully, pragmatically, and efficaciously as possible. however, we are endeavouring to do so w/OUT adhibiting to ourselves reliance on a deity, whoever, whatever, or however that deity may manifest itself to you or any other ‘believer’. your claim in the above quote, “Only those Individuals who accept the God and Father of Jesus in the New Testament…etc” is presumptuous, faStuous, and fatuous. it does not reflect respect for others’ realities.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Methinks thou dost protest too much, Jeanie!

              In my view, this World still goes by the terms of the Old Testament of’ an eye for an eye and God creating Good and Evil, making War and Peace.’

              Only those Individuals who accept the God and Father of Jesus in the New Testament, have total Confidence and Faith the God of Jesus is Perfect Love and a Peace Maker.

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              1. Ray my friend give it a rest please. We atheists don’t believe in God, or the father of Jesus in the NT. You know that. So we, by definition, don’t have ANY confidence and Faith the God of Jesus is Perfect Love and a Peace Maker. And theists have zero evidence that their supernatural “God” creates Good and Evil, and makes war and Peace.

                Your God of Jesus is a myth. One cannot have faith that a non-existent deity is ANYTHING, let alone a perfect Love and a Peace Maker. We have a different view than you do. Please have the grace to accept this – and cease and desist condescendingly cramming your religious views down our throats.

                I enjoy your posts here, and usually agree with you, but your religious dross drives me to avoiding those comments. Take care.

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              2. thank you for the contextual permit and support, den merwood, in order to facilitate pursuit of our colloquies on wja’s blog, despite our fractious hispidities w/ the rjc religious crwth and recognition that concinnity is never predicated on agreement but rather mutual respect for one’s religious proclivities and political predispositio… evangelical proselytizing notwithstanding [tho’ we both yearn for less of the last category].

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              3. your view is not my view, rjc. please acknowledge and accept that we are on different raster scans, as are our hindu, buddhist, agnostic, nullifidian, zoroastrian, isis, animist, pantheist, b’hai, shinto, confucian, shamanist, atheist, islamist, mayan…ad-infinitum members of our human family. if i “protest too much”, please help me understand how i do so, and how my protestations define who i am and how it diminishes or transmogrifies my efforts to promote peace amongst our diverse sisters and brothers. i have spent my entire adult life, from age 21 as a teacher in japan, to my now 81-st year in the philippines, endeavouring to acknowledge and understand how non-western zeitgeists, in the 37 different countries i’ve lived and worked in, think, feel, mentate over, and perpend about the social, cultural, linguistic, and religious ambits they occupy… none of which is either more or less worthy than your own judeo-xian zeitgeist.

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  7. Reading the Book, there can be no doubt Jesus had a problem with the “Religious Establishment” when he walked through Occupied Judea and Samaria some 2000 years ago. Israel ceased to be some 700 years earlier.
    The Religious Establishment, whether it be Jewish, Christian or Islam,is still the Religious Establishment all these Centuries later.

    People have been brainwashed to not think beyond the Apple Tree when it’s the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, from which we’ve all had a taste, some more, some less in our Human Condition.

    In my view, for those who think there is no greater power than man are in denial of the Human condition.
    All of us come into this World naked, toothless, vulnerable and dependant, having to wear diapers for those who can afford them.
    If we reach Old Age, most of us leave this World the same way we entered it, toothless, vulnerable and dependant, having to wear diapers. The question might be ‘what did we say and do when we had our teeth?’

    For those who don’t believe in the Higher Power of the Eternal, only that they’re born and they die. That’s it! That’s all! They cease to exist for all of Eternity in everlasting darkness.
    They’re already the Living Dead walking to the grave.

    Looking at the 24/7 War Propaganda, this is where I see our World is at these Days.
    Atheists and Believers can see the pictures as the Mass Media manipulates the Minds of the Masses.
    The MSM acting as the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse, is telling us the World has arrived at this point of the Revelation of Jesus Christ,
    ‘And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
    Revelation 11:18

    The Nations are displaying great Wrath and Anger, there’s no denying that! And it’s building with no active Diplomacy to reduce tensions.
    The consensus of Environmental Science is we Humans are destroying our own Environment that sustains us, destroying the Earth in the process.
    .
    All those TV experts who think they know Putin’s mind better than he does, do not question how he would perceive the dominant US, with it’s 30 pliant vassal NATO European Nations against Russia alone?
    I can totally understand he would see the US and 30 other Nations united against Russia as an EXISTENTIAL Threat making this World even more uncertain and insecure.
    With rising tensions an unintended mistake or miscommunication could lead to the irreversible end of Civilization as we know it.

    What non-religious words could be taken from these words from the Book?
    Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. ( the kingdom of heaven is WITHIN you)
    Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    Revelation 12:12

    This is what reading those words above say to me looking at the Realities the MSM projects these Days.

    The US is the biggest Arms Merchant in the History of Nations and the American People mirror that love of Weapons having so many of them in private hands like no other Society on Earth.

    President Biden blames President Putin for the rising Inflation in the US. Knowing what the American People are like under the thin veneer called Civilization, when the Economic straitjacket tightens in America, this could be a long, hot murderous Summer of American Carnage on the streets.

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    1. Those who believe in the Higher Power of the Eternal my friend Ray have zero evidence that they will exist for all of Eternity. It’s just a myth in a very old book. Nothing more. You Ray are also the living dead walking to a grave. Your delusions are not going to change that fact.

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      1. There’s no denying the time will come for me to shake off the body and go down to the grave like you and everybody, Dennis, but it ends for you in the grave as your body, like mine, will decay and return to the Dust of the Earth.
        But while I lived, I’ve had enough evidence, signs and wonders of God to believe my Spirit will be united with the Spirit of God for Eternity.

        I was unexpectedly surprised and filled with wonder February 1, 1975 when I became aware for the 1st Time of the Spiritual Dimension within as I wrote about it,

        DAY OF AWAKENING – DAVID vs GOLIATH vs ARMAGEDDON

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        1. “While I lived, I’ve had enough evidence, signs and wonders of God to believe my Spirit will be united with the Spirit of God for Eternity” – Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence Ray.

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          1. Very simply Dennis, if you don’t believe God exists, you get none of the benefits or the Saving Graces including saving so much money on the cost of living with rising costs and just too many to itemize for you. The link describes what I experienced the 1st Day I believed February 1, 1975 and it got better from there. Here I am these 47 years later.

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            1. Btw, according to the Stats, no one from here even bothered to click the link, so how would you know what I meant about signs and wonders as it’s written ‘God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,’

              I posted the article, ‘DAY OF AWAKENING – DAVID vs GOLIATH vs ARMAGEDDON’ 11 years ago describing what happened to me February 1st, 1975.

              Eleven years ago, this world was nowhere close to the precipice of Armageddon like it is TODAY. That, I’m sure, every regular here can see that’s possible and maybe imminent with the current political atmospheres?

              It’s not just in Ukraine. Concurrent with that, there’s a growing uprising by the Palestinians over the 55 year Israeli Military occupation of Palestine in violation of the same International Law Russia is accused of violating, and we only hear the Sounds of Silence from the US, CanaDa and the other US dominated NATO Vassal States. The US put sanctions on the Prosecutor of the ICC investigating Israel for WAR CRIMES. How about that for chutzpah! Now it wants the ICC to go after Russia.

              For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
              Behold, I come as a thief. (when you least expect it)
              Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
              And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
              Revelation 16

              Revelation is when you can see it unfolding in this Material World!

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  8. Patriots Day here Den., and the beloved Boston Marathon as well, even our Red Sox play. I hear Canada also closes all R.S. too for Easter Monday– United States no…! I was just trying to keep the Conversation lively…lol

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    1. The email notice I got from Breitbart Saturday had this header, ‘Pope goes on “woke” rant’ so I followed this link with 6966 comments spewing hatred for the Pope calling attention to the difference of care and concern in the treatment of War Refugees based on the colour of their skin.

      ROME, Italy — Pope Francis accused the West of racism Friday, insisting migrants are “subdivided” by skin color and country of origin.

      “Refugees are subdivided,” the pontiff declared during a lengthy Good Friday interview on Italian television. “There’s first class, second class, skin color, [whether] they come from a developed country [or] one that is not developed.”

      “We are racists, we are racists. And this is bad,” the pope stated………
      https://www.breitbart.com/faith/2022/04/15/pope-francis-we-are-racists-we-are-racists/

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  9. Have a Old Friend from Grammar School who went over the Titanic while on the QEII Ship from England to U.S. The Ship stops over the Location of her 2 miles down in the N. Atlantic and has a moment of silence… We need as a World to though back then not perfect, but still a World back then 110 years ago now that had more honor, sacrifice, and morality than now– can’t even begin to fathom…!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If I mention Ramadan, am I going to be lectured on how Allah doesn’t exist? If I mention Passover, am I going to be lectured on how Yahweh doesn’t exist? If I quote from the Bhagavad Gita, am I going to be lectured on how Vishnu doesn’t exist?

    My point is this: Atheists or non-believers often proselytize about their beliefs, or lack thereof, more than religious people. Hitchens is an example of this.

    Why do you feel it necessary to deny the Christian god, or Jewish, or Islam (all the same god, actually), or Hindu gods, and so on? And why do you do it in a way that suggests your superior wisdom, that you’ve evolved beyond childish and primitive beliefs?

    Are you not patting yourself on the back in a somewhat self-righteous way? Do you think your “arguments” are going to persuade billions of believers to abandon their faith? Does this line of argument show your tolerance of others and their deepest commitments?

    Asking for a friend…

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  11. My God is Nature and the Cosmos personally I don’t care at this pt. what anyone else believes. I’ll kindly worry about my soul, and others can worry about their own… Just don’t Preach… I once knew a Friend in AA who had “Yoda” as his “Higher Power” What am I going to Judge? If it worked for him and he lost the compulsion to Drink himself to death?– why not!? So of course I’m not judging. In my experience after seeing it all as a Firefighter on a big City Department all of life’s tragedies, and suffering I just don’t see a Immortal being coming to save ourselves from ourselves so we got to make it work here now all of us. Its really that simple.

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    1. You’re telling the reader your personal god is “Nature and the Cosmos” and that there is no “immortal being” coming to save us, but then you say “Just don’t Preach.” To state the obvious: you are bearing witness to your beliefs, in a public forum. In a sense, you are preaching.

      If I were to say my personal god is Allah, and that I do believe he is immortal, and that you need to submit to him, would you see this as preaching? Even if I added, you can believe what you want?

      My point is this: we all have beliefs. Even someone who believes in nothing has a belief. I am willing to hear you “preach” if you are willing to hear me. But I don’t see how people can profess their beliefs, whatever they are, and then tell others not to preach, especially when those beliefs are couched in such a way as to denigrate or deny the beliefs of others.

      Mutual respect and a willingness to tolerate the beliefs of others is what is needed, I think. And it’s always in short supply.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The “Writing On the Wall” Bible story, which even Atheists know the implications of the adage, starts with the king of Babylon putting on a feast for 1000 of the Elite of his kingdom and they praised “the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone.”

          From then to now as the adage goes, ‘It’s the Economy Stupid!’
          From then to now, Babylon is now called Iraq, and the Elite are still the Elite.

          Long before the US invasion of Iraq in violation of International Law in 2003, The Kansas City Times quotes me in 1976 with these excerpts from so much more,
          “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of BABYLON,” he said.” […] He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”

          The Historical record quotes me equating the US with the Last Days BABYLON.
          It was 27 years later when the Tail struck the Head, leading to the unravelling of it all, if the People don’t wake up and speak up before it’s TOO LATE!

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    2. My God is Nature and the Cosmos personally.
      As for Nature, just looking at all the exotic birds and fish under the Water, there is a psychedelic part of Nature and the rain falls on the Just and UN-Just.

      As for the Cosmos this is how the Book describes it,
      Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
      Isaiah 66

      That says to me if the foot that touches the footstool is holy, it makes the footstool holy. But beyond that it tells me this whole Earth is the real Holy Land, not just that small blood soaked sliver of land that’s been at War for thousands of years we’ve been brainwashed to see as the exclusive “Holy Land”

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  12. Yup.., That’s the way of the World…. So cold to each others beliefs though you never see children of all Races, Religions, Creeds, and Colors seldom not getting along playing and tolerating each other together for lack of a better word– only when they become Adults does the “Crazy” manifest…

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  13. Moving on from Believers and Atheists, This morning I was looking to read, ‘Goldman Trader: The Best Days Are Behind Us, And We’ve Never Seen A Setup Quite Like This Before” but it was for paid subscribers only. I looked online for the free article but was unsuccessful.

    What I did come across just by fluke, was this hour long interview by a smart, mid-twenties guy posing good questions eliciting honest candour from the Interviewee, tracing his path in life as a poor but smart kid from the Bronx, who started working very young for the CIA in the 80s, then moving to NASA, then to Goldman Sachs, where he learned all about the precarious state of the Global Financial systems, then to Netscape and now being the sole self-employed owner of a Sovereign online Banking system.

    For me it was a totally fascinating interview to watch, giving me many new insights.
    It didn’t matter to me if they were Believers or unbelievers, their life experience is as valid as mine as a Believer, and I thanked God for the new insights I got through them.

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