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The face of fake news

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Megyn Kelly took on more than just Alex Jones in her NBC “Sunday Night” interview. She took on fake news. I’m glad she did.

Honestly, I was very worried that Kelly would equivocate and underperform like she did with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I was worried that Jones would get a pass and use the performance to pick up even more viewers–and believers.

It turns out I was wrong, as were others who believed the interview was a bad idea.

It was important to expose the abhorrent conspiracies and ideals that Jones represents.

But motivations are really key here. I have to believe that Jones’ motivations are personal. He suffers from the same need for importance and recognition that the other main topic of Kelly’s piece–President Trump–succumbs to. Jones simply wants the clicks, the influence, and the power.

There are plenty of Twitter, Facebook, and web-based Jones wannabes, and some in the main stream media. The New York Times and the Washington Post are not immune from what Kelly termed “reckless accusation, followed by equivocations and excuses.” The MSM simply couches their version in “bombshell” headlines, unnamed sources and back-of-the-paper retractions.

There’s nothing inherently wrong, or un-American, about people like Jones. They’ve been around since before Erwin Wardman coined the term “yellow journalism” in 1998.

But there’s a more pernicious motive floating out there: foreign governments using people like Jones, and teenagers in Eastern European basements, to float their own anti-U.S. propaganda. The Russians are experts at disinformation–they call it “Dezinformatsiya.”

The Washington Post delved deep into the history of Russian fake news right after the election. In 2015, Adrian Chen published a chilling New York Times Magazine piece titled “The Agency” about Russian efforts to create fake news events and use social media “trolls” to promote their own interests.

Russia’s information war might be thought of as the biggest trolling operation in history, and its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space. In the midst of such a war, the Runet (as the Russian Internet is often called) can be an unpleasant place for anyone caught in the crossfire. Soon after I met Leonid Volkov, he wrote a post on his Facebook wall about our interview, saying that he had spoken with someone from The New York Times. A former pro-Kremlin blogger later warned me about this. Kremlin allies, he explained, monitored Volkov’s page, and now they would be on guard. “That was not smart,” he said.

The fact that President Trump relies on the very same social media tools that the Russians have thoroughly infiltrated and corrupted in order to make his points and win political power–that translates to actual government power–is more than troubling.

It means that Alex Jones, President Trump, and the Russians are all feeding the same cancer of fake news.

I submit there’s very little difference in Trump claiming he’s the victim of a “Witch Hunt” by “deep state” operatives (or hinting at “tapes” of conversations with James Comey), Alex Jones claims that Sandy Hook was a hoax, and the “Internet Research Agency” creating a fake story about a chemical disaster in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. They are all set ups not in service of truth, but in service of other motives.

But when we can’t tell the difference between real Russian interference and the president’s tweetstorms and Jones’ conspiracies, in a culture where these events lead to political violence, injury and death, someone’s got to call foul.

Kelly took the opportunity to call foul on Jones. I applaud that she did. If the main stream media, including her employer, NBC, would take the hint and back off from their one-sided attacks on Trump, conservatives, and Republicans, maybe her message would begin to spread.

If the media itself doesn’t take the high road in combatting fake news, not leaping to conclusions, burying stories that offend their own world view, and projecting pure opinion as objective fact, then how can we expect anyone to believe them?

Culture and Religion

Mormons no more: LDS Church wants new branding

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Mormons no more LDS Church wants new branding

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, no longer wants to be called by these names. They want the full name of the church used and any references to “LDS Church” or “Mormon” are to be ignored.

LDS Church wants everyone to stop calling it the LDS Church — and drop the word ‘Mormons’

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/08/16/lds-church-wants-everyone/On Thursday, the church released this statement from Nelson:

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will. In recent weeks, various church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.”

This represents another swing of the pendulum for the church. In 2002, a similar de-emphasis on the word “Mormon” was announced. Timed to the arrival of the Winter Olympics in Utah, the church asked news outlets to refer to it by its full name.

Ironically, the statement was released through Mormon Newsroom.

My Take

The church, like nearly all of the big ones around the world, is as much of a business as it is a spiritual denomination. Today, the phrases “LDS Church” and “Mormon” are bad for business. After hitting a high note in 2012 with a major party presidential candidate, the church has taken some public relations beatings.

They want as close of an association with Jesus Christ as possible even if mainstream Christianity views their teachings as abominations. This is a rebrand, nothing more.

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Culture and Religion

The Bible isn’t about you

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The Bible isnt about you

I often find inspiration for writing on Twitter. I came across this tweet by Allie Stuckey, and found that the truth of what she spoke needed greater expounding. There are many ways to read the Bible. Some people read it sarcastically. They seek to disprove or find fault. Some people read it for perspective. They just want to see what it says, for comparative reasons. It almost goes without saying, that people read God’s word in order to fit their own narrative. It’s most often for political or self promoting reasons. And then there are those who read the bible to seek truth and understanding. These people have the best of intentions. However Allie Stuckey correctly points out two schools of thought within this broad category.

Motivational Quotes

One can read the Bible for themselves. What exactly does that look like? Allow me to provide a stereotypical example:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 NASB

This verse is taken out of context for self empowerment everywhere. But if asked to explain the context of this verse, how many could fully articulate the verse they flaunt on their Twitter and Instagram bios.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. in my affliction.

Philippians 4:10-14 NASB

This is a very empowering passage, but the hyper-focus on verse 13 takes away from the previous climax in verse 11. This passage is about being happy in times of suffering, living with joy in all circumstances because of the transforming power of Jesus. This isn’t about your workout grind.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

This is another verse often read with one thinking of themselves and not God. The context of this verse is almost sad. The only thing prevents this from being sad is the fact that the king and his people refused God. The Israelites had fallen and were about to enter into captivity. Yet Jeremiah prophesies a hope for the future which includes the destruction of Babylon. But the context of this verse is God’s wrath.

Taking verses out of context leads to a very superficial understanding of the bible. It is the direct result of reading the bible and misunderstanding its primary subject. The bible isn’t made to be picked apart for motivational quotes. Instead the bible is a much more powerful story about God’s search and rescue for man.

Every Page is About God

I like how a lot of churches are emphasizing the continuous and unified message of the bible. Indeed, the Gospel message is not limited to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus is the story all along the way. He is first prophesied in Eden, and He comes back in Revelation. The book of Ester is perhaps the least theological book of all the bible, yet the masterful plan can still be seen. When Ester learns of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews, out of faith in God’s plan Mordecai points out that God will not let His people be destroyed.

13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Ester 4:13-14 NASB

We should read the bible in order to find a deeper understanding of God. It is not a contradiction to turn to scripture in order to seek answers to prayers or receive strength in the face of temptation. For in these purposes, the focus is on God and not one’s self. Another word for this would be meditation.

Reactions and Discussion

Final Thoughts

The Bible is primarily about God. Many Christians often use the Bible to find motivation and encouragement. This isn’t inherently wrong, but only reading the Bible for these purposes is not a close supplement for meditation. Meditating on scripture is how one grows closer to God. In contrast, using the Bible to meditate on one’s self may start out as seeking encouragement but later lead to a mystical, or even gnostic, understanding of God. You may also be susceptible to the Prosperity Gospel which preaches daily about reading the Bible with a self-serving purpose. The Devil is well versed in scripture and without focusing on God in reading scripture, these concerns are real. With these concerns in mind, Allie Stuckey is right to call reading the Bible, thinking it is primarily about us, and not God, dangerous.


This post was originally publishd on Startup Christ. Startup Christ is a website for business and theology articles and columns.

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Culture and Religion

Our List of Demands for the Conservation of Liberty – Part I

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Our List of Demands for the Conservation of Liberty - Part I

Leftists incessantly issue lists of demands for the restriction of Liberty. It’s time to reverse the trend towards freedom.

Every ‘serious crisis’ involving firearms sees the same pattern of exploitation by the Liberty grabber Left. They immediately mount their gun confiscation hobbyhorse issuing lists of demands for restrictions on freedom. As soon as they get these new limitations, Leftists reset the rhetoric for the next go around. The pattern has always been one of compromise on behalf of the Pro-Liberty Right, only to see new demands made whenever the Left can exploit any new crisis.

Now is the time to reverse the trend of the incessant attacks on Liberty.

Millions of innocent gun owners in the country deserve a break in seeing ever tightening restrictions on their freedom because of the actions of criminals or terrorists. There are estimated to be 150 Million innocent gun owners that have upwards of 400 to 600 million firearms with trillions of rounds of ammunition. As the saying goes, if they were a problem, we would have known it by now. Despite the oft-repeated emotional argument foisted by the Liberty grabber Left, It is patently obvious that more guns in the hands of the innocent means less crime or governmental tyranny.

The past few years have seen record-setting gun sales, while that type of violence has diminished. The story has always been one of the Pro-Liberty Right compromising, while the Socialist-Left responds with new demands. It is time that they ‘gave back’ (to coin a phrase), for once they should be the ones making the making the compromises.

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” Thomas Jefferson

The degradation of Liberty should in no way be considered to be ‘progress’ or ‘progressive’. Those who claim to be ‘Liberal’ should be advocating Liberty instead of tearing it down. It should also be patently obvious that depriving the people of their means of self-defense does nothing to protect them.

Recent events here here and here, should also make it patently obvious that people will find a way to inflict violence on others. The ever-increasing limitations on Liberty pushed by people who are supposedly ‘Liberal’ on serves to make the situation far worse, with an example of an attack  in a place with severe restrictions on the possession of firearms.

Our List of Demands to reverse the trend towards Liberty.

In light of the recent ‘serious crisis’ that clearly demonstrated that Liberty Control only serves to endanger the innocent, this is our list of demands for the Conservation of Liberty.

1. Background checks should only be on the purchaser, leaving off the data on the firearm.

Ostensibly, the purpose of a Federal background check is to ‘Keep guns out of the hands’ of a laundry list of prohibited persons. So why does the 4473 form include information on the gun being purchased?

If this is supposedly only for the buyer of a gun, why do they need that information? If it is a true ‘background check’ on the purchaser, the information on the gun should be irrelevant. And yet that information is collected under tight controls, why?

Federal law “specifically forbids the government from creating a national registry of gun ownership”,  so why are they collecting that data? Unless they are lying about the purpose of the program.  It is time for the government to be finally true to it’s word, a Background check on a purchaser should just a Background check on a purchaser, nothing more.

2. The Left needs to stop wasting everyone’s time on provisions that violate the commonsense human right of self-preservation.

This includes trying to repeal or virtually rewrite the 2nd amendment based on their twisted interpretation of it’s wording. The Liberty grabber Left needs to be aware of two important points:
One, the 2nd amendment isn’t going anywhere.
Two, it only affirms the common sense human right of self-defence. This means that even if it were to carry out the Herculean task of repealing the 2nd amendment, it would have no effect.

3. Media: Stop pretending snapshot polls taken at the height of hysteria represents steady state opinions.

Any news coverage of a ‘serious crisis’ will invariably include some sort of instant poll, exploiting the raw emotion of the moment that will have ‘90%’ supporting Intergalactic Background Checks or some other restriction on Liberty. It should be obvious that a snap shot glimpse into the psyche of the moment will have wildly inaccurate results, but these are subsequently trotted out to show that ‘everyone’ wants just about every limitation on Liberty under the sun. It is also axiomatic that polls taken during normal periods that don’t exhibit the desired results will be ignored.

4. Liberty grabber Leftists need to acknowledge that background checks already exist.

Those notorious instant polls will also display the anomaly of high polling numbers on ‘background checks’. Often times this vague phraseology will be used to exploit confusion on the issue. This provides an entry for the Liberty grabber Left to interpret this to mean that just about everyone (even NRA members) are demanding Intergalactic Background Checks [Or whatever terms the Left uses to exploit this issue – enhanced, universal, etc].

In point of fact, Federal Background checks have been around for over 25 years, so when a pollster asks about ‘background checks’ many will answer in the affirmative since they know they already exist. While many on the Left will answer the same, not knowing that fact, but are desirous of even more controls on Liberty.

5. Implement the reforms on suppressors.

Despite all the research they’ve done on the subject in the movie theatres, guns with suppressors do not emit a soft ‘Phft’ with each shot. While they cut some of the noise associated with the discharge of combustion gases in the firing of a weapon, they do nothing for the mechanical noise of the cycling of the weapon or the noise emanating from the passage of the round through the air.

So while they can’t turn every handgun into a silent killer, they do protect the hearing of those practising their marksmanship as well as keep the ancillary noise level down for the neighbours of firing ranges. This is why there is no reason to restrict the sales of essentially a muffler for a firearm .

Part II will detail the rest of the items to reverse the trend away from Liberty.

 

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