Are the Christians you know more like Jesus or Pharisees?

One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people. A new Barna Group study examines the degree to which this perception may be accurate. The study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus in their interactions with others.

In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament…

Using…20 questions as the basis of analysis, the researchers created an aggregate score for each individual and placed those results into one of four categories, or quadrants…The four categories include:

• Christ-like in action and attitude
• Christ-like in action, but not in attitude
• Christ-like in attitude, but not action
• Christ-like in neither

The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians — using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians — qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.

On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians — just one out of every seven Christians — seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.

In the middle are those who have some mix of action and attitude. About one-fifth of Christians are Christ-like in attitude, but often represent Pharisaical actions (21%). Another 14% of respondents tend to be defined as Christ-like in action, but seem to be motivated by self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes.

The study is lots more interesting than I thought it would be. Read it to find and follow a great deal of detail, e.g., information broken out for self-identified evangelicals, Catholics, political ideology, age…And it appears to be sound in analysis, technique and style.

Hope our readers find it useful.

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Donald, This I Will Tell You — You’re A Sucker…A Tool…You Got Played — Sincerely, Maureen

Dear Donald,

❝ We’ve known each other a long time, so I think I can be blunt.

You know how you said at campaign rallies that you did not like being identified as a politician?

Don’t worry. No one will ever mistake you for a politician.

After this past week, they won’t even mistake you for a top-notch negotiator…

❝ …You, Donald, are getting a reputation as a sucker. And worse, a sucker who is a tool of the D.C. establishment.

Your whole campaign was mocking your rivals and the D.C. elite, jawing about how Americans had turned into losers, with our bad deals and open borders and the Obamacare “disaster.”

And you were going to fly in on your gilded plane and fix all that in a snap…

❝ You promised to get the best people around you in the White House, the best of the best…Instead, you dragged that motley skeleton crew into the White House and let them create a feuding, leaking, belligerent, conspiratorial, sycophantic atmosphere. Instead of a smooth, classy operator like James Baker, you have a Manichaean anarchist in Steve Bannon.

❝ You knew the Republicans were full of hot air…and they have no aptitude for governing…You knew that Paul Ryan’s vaunted reputation as a policy wonk was fake news…Instead, you sold the D.O.A. bill the Irish undertaker gave you as though it were a luxury condo, ignoring the fact that it was a cruel flimflam, a huge tax cut for the rich disguised as a health care bill. You were so concerned with the “win” that you forgot your “forgotten” Americans, the older, poorer people in rural areas who would be hurt by the bill…

❝ You were humiliated right out of the chute by the establishment guys who hooked you into their agenda — a massive transfer of wealth to rich people — and drew you away from your own.

…You got worked over by the Republican leadership and the business community, who set you up to do their bidding.

They’re counting on you being a delusional dupe who didn’t even know what was in the bill because you’re sitting around in a bathrobe getting your information from wackadoodles on Fox News and then…peppering aides with the query, “Is this really a good bill?”

You got played

Sincerely, Maureen

There are times when Maureen Dowd really rocks. This is one of the best.

Click the link and RTFA. The whole enchilada. Worth it.

Former head of Colorado Republican Party charged with voter fraud

❝ A Colorado talk radio host who once chaired the state Republican Party and has accused Democrats of widespread voter fraud has been charged with forging his ex-wife’s signature on a mail-in ballot in the 2016 election…

Steven Curtis, 57, who served as state GOP boss from 1997 until 1999, is charged with one felony count of forgery and one misdemeanor count of tampering with a mail-in ballot, according to a criminal complaint filed in Weld County District Court.

❝ The case stems from an inquiry lodged with the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by Curtis’s former spouse, Kelly Ireland, who contacted the agency in October to check on the status of her voter registration after the couple split.

Ireland was informed then that a signed mail-in ballot bearing her name and voter information had already been submitted, according to Carly Koppes, an elected Republican who serves as the county clerk.

“At that point, my office researched the situation further, and the signature was questionable, so we then contacted the District Attorney’s Office to start an investigation,” Koppes told Reuters.

❝ If convicted, Curtis faces a maximum three years in prison for forgery and up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine for ballot-tampering, said Tyler Hill, a spokesman for the district attorney.

❝ The former Republican Party boss hosts a morning political talk show on conservative Denver radio station KLZ-AM called “Wake Up With Steve Curtis.”

Curtis spoke about election tampering in a segment titled “Voter Fraud and Other Democratic Misbehaviors” on his Oct. 6, 2016 broadcast.

“It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats,” Curtis said…

The Republican Party really should check and see if anyone holds the trademark for hypocrisy. They should register it as their own. Modern history bears out their ownership.

Trump approval rating sets new record – for low

❝ President Donald Trump’s approval rating is at a new low since he assumed office in January, hitting 37%, according to Gallup.

His disapproval rating, at 58%, is at a high point since he became president.

❝ These latest approval ratings come on the heels of a tumultuous week for the Trump administration and congressional Republican leadership, who are working to drum up support for their Affordable Care Act replacement bill…

The proposal, as it currently stands, would most negatively impact senior citizens, rural Americans, and low-income Americans. It would also leave an additional 24 million people uninsured by 2026, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The White House has also been playing defense on Trump’s unfounded claim that former president Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the 2016 campaign. There has been no evidence to support that theory, according to bipartisan consensus in Congress and in the intelligence community…

The lowest rating of any president’s starting 60 days since I’ve been voting.

Tanker hijacked off Somalia freed — no ransom paid


Aris 13Kevin Finnigan/Tropic Maritime Images

❝ Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker have released it without condition, according to officials.

The announcement came hours after the pirates and naval forces exchanged gunfire over a boat believed to be carrying supplies to the hijackers.

❝ The tanker, which was en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seized on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew members on board.

It is the first hijack off Somalia’s coast since 2012…

❝ The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said the crew members were released “unharmed, without the payment of a ransom”.

A pirate confirmed the release was made without a ransom payment, according to Reuters…

❝ Mr Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan earlier said that “pirates” on board the tanker had opened fire on Thursday after authorities tried to intercept a boat believed to be carrying essential supplies, such as food.

Four people were wounded in the exchange of fire on Thursday…

The vessel was carrying oil and was owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite conflicting reports over the flag it was sailing under, he added.

❝ On Wednesday, the authorities were then still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, were organised pirates or fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels, as they had claimed to be.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia, usually for ransom, has reduced significantly in recent years, in part because of extensive international military patrols as well as support for local fishing communities…

Some Somali fishermen turned to piracy after their livelihoods were destroyed by illegal fishing from foreign trawlers, which benefited from the lack of a functioning coastguard in the country following years of conflict.

The little guy doesn’t even get noticed in coverage of so-called important stuff. Like Saudi oil.

Election Security in America is OK, Donald

❝ The U.S. secretaries of state, charged with running elections, recently met in Washington, D.C., to evaluate the past election season and to discuss what they can do to improve the process. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, who serves as the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about the security of voting in America.

Q: What is on the minds of secretaries of state?

❝ A: The security of the elections. We’re seeing the Department of Homeland Security declare elections critical infrastructure. This happened just a few months ago, and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly is the role of the federal government in a highly decentralized system. We’re also thinking about issues of whether or not there is voter fraud, how much is there, and should we have some sort of national voter ID, or even a national ID card—those are the big issues this year.

Q: You’ve been working on reducing long lines at the polls. Do long lines mean people might not vote at all?

❝ A: Oh, absolutely. There’s no problem with a long line if it’s moving. The problem is when it gets stuck because of bad management—not enough poll workers or enough lines, or the lists divided incorrectly. These are all management issues…

Q: The 2016 election has been covered extensively, but what might the public not know?

❝ A: There are over 100,000 polling places in this country. None of them is connected in any way to the internet. Hacking an election is completely impossible.

Q: Voter fraud has been in the news. Tell us the facts.

❝ A: The reality is that voter fraud is highly unusual, especially the type that’s being discussed: in-person voter fraud. Actual fraud—people impersonating a voter or trying to vote when they’re not eligible to vote—is extremely rare…

RTFA for more about ideas to make voting easier, reporting quicker, accurate and timely. The Republican fake news about voter fraud pisses me off, no end. We went through the whole crapload of lies when we got our “moderate” Republican governor, Susana Martinez.

The Secretary of State – later thrown out of office for fraud unrelated to voting – spent a year with a specially chartered investigation of voter fraud with focus on undocumentados getting on the voting rolls. The study “discovered” fewer than a dozen people in the state registered who didn’t qualify. Only two of them had actually gone to the polls to vote because they thought it was mandatory. The usual appointed poll-watchers caught the mistake – they realized the mistake and left. None actually voted once they were notified of the mistake and the system worked just fine.

Except for the creeps in the NM Republican Party wasting $200,000 of taxpayer funds on one of their phony issues.

“Bombogenesis” enters weather commentary – Republicans excepted, of course


Semi blown over in Marina, California

❝ One of California’s strongest storms in years – dubbed a “bombogenesis” or “weather bomb” – has hit the state, killing at least four people and bringing torrential rain and floods.

Power cuts hit 150,000 households and sinkholes swallowed cars.

Hundreds of homes were evacuated amid fear of mud slides near Los Angeles…

❝ One man was killed after a tree fell and pulled a power line onto his car in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles.

A second person died in a vehicle when it was submerged by a flash flood in the town of Victorville…

Two others died in car accidents in the San Diego area.

❝ Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, told the Los Angeles Times that 10 trillion gallons of rain would fall on California in the next week, enough to power Niagara Falls for 154 days

❝ It is feared that areas that have been previously hit by forest fires could be more susceptible to mud slides as there is less vegetation to break the flow of running water.

Terry Anzur of KFI News told the BBC the dry, scorched ground that had been “saturated” with the heavy downpour was turning streets into “rivers of mud”…

❝ Meteorologists describe the “bombogenesis” as an intense extra-tropical cyclonic low-pressure area, or “a weather bomb”.

“It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995.”

Gusts of 87mph were reported on the Big Sur scenic coastal highway.

If you’re sitting in a Million-dollar McMansion you ain’t worried about more than getting out to buy more of the right lite beer to slug down while watching reality TV. Not the reality the rest of us face; but, good enough to keep Fox News in business.

Trump needs a new enemy

davies-2-17-17

❝ Last week, a senior White House official shared a candid theory with me about why President Donald Trump and his team have been adrift since November: they’ve yet to adjust to the post-election reality, and they haven’t yet learned how to operate without a single, common enemy — Hillary Clinton — to focus on. It was a frank admission that a team built for winning a campaign has so far failed at governing.

❝ Incoming Presidents usually trade in some of their political tacticians for experienced Washington hands when they take office, but Trump installed his entire senior campaign leadership into top positions in the White House, a place where few of them have ever worked before…

The early results of this experiment in governance by the least experienced have not been promising…

❝ …The big debate inside the White House has been who to define as Trump’s “enemy.” At his press conference on Thursday, Trump appeared to settle the issue by declaring — or reigniting — a war on the media. This was the target that Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, who calls the press “the opposition party,” favored. But not all of Trump’s advisers agreed with this approach…

Still, faced with a crisis of government management, the Trump team has responded with the two campaign tactics that helped him win the election: his political performance art at press conferences and rallies. On Saturday, the White House will follow up on Trump’s anti-media tirade by sending Trump to Florida for what it has billed as a “campaign” event.

❝ The reaction of many large media outlets to Trump’s mishaps and blowups has been predictable. On Thursday and Friday, journalists picked apart the many lies Trump told at his press conference and reported earnestly on the numerous outrages he set off…

❝ But Republicans control Congress, so Trump’s fate — for the next two years, at least — will be decided by members of his own party. Right now they fall roughly into three camps. The first is made up of Republicans who see Trump, for all his obvious faults, as a vessel for a fairly standard Republican agenda of tax cuts and deregulation. Trump’s attacks on the media and the left can be seen as a way of keeping this group loyal by defining common enemies…

❝ The second group on the right is the Never Trump movement, whose warnings about Trump during the campaign look more and more prescient, even as its ranks have diminished…

❝ Finally, there is the swing group: Republicans who privately despise Trump and who share many of the concerns that are aired publicly in the press and by Democrats, but who so far don’t see a reason to speak up…

Partisanship is a powerful force in American politics. It is strong enough that most swing Republicans will remain quiet in the face of a growing crisis of leadership at the highest levels of the American government. A sure sign of the Trump collapse, if it comes, will be when those seemingly unbreakable partisan bonds finally crack.

Many Democrats are about as independent-minded and aggressive as the Congressional Democrat Establishment allows. See faction #1 above describing their Republican counterparts. Lots of folks rejoice in the pissed-off groundswell nationwide. As if it somehow was the result of leadership by the Democratic Party.

I still have my Wellies on while that cowshit is getting deeper. I don’t see many truly modern folks lining up to campaign as official Democrat choices against the Republican wall of obedience. Yes, there are principled Dems of the progressive flavor among the sparks igniting grassroots confrontation. They were ignored through the end of the Hillary march to coronation that didn’t happen. They’re moving forward, now…in the absence of serious challenges from status quo Dems who [I believe] are sitting around waiting for Trump to turn into Nixon.