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I have been very busy lately with getting a new job, followed a few months later by a promotion, that I haven't had much time for art. Again. I feel like an ass. I plan to be making more fractals (and, hopefully, more photos) soon. Thanks to all of you that have been liking my work and watching me. I appreciate it.
Thank you! To everyone that has shown appreciation for my work this year :D Life has kept me so busy that I have had little time to spare on the fun of making art. Thank you for not giving up on me :happybounce:
Hello! I've been away for quite awhile and just now dropped in as I'm making sure everything has gone okay with a fresh OS install. It is a very pleasant surprise to see all the birthday wishes :D Hopefully, I'll be more active again soon. In the meantime it's nice to know I haven't been forgotten :)
I just want to thank everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday :D I haven't been around much for quite a while because I'm in missionary training and don't have internet access at my apartment. So, even though it's a little late - :iconthankyou1plz::iconthankyou2plz::iconthankyou3plz::iconthankyou4plz::iconthankyou5plz:
In the end, the law can’t protect us from our own folly. Better to cultivate virtue and remember where we derive our value. That’s kind of cryptic, but I’ll explain.

Recently, a German court made a ruling that would have been literally unimaginable twenty years ago. The case involved an ex-couple in Hessen. Throughout their relationship, the man took “explicit photographs of his partner and made erotic videos with her.” According to the UK’s Independent, “the woman had consented to all of the material being taken and, in some cases, had taken the photographs herself.” When the relationship ended, the woman demanded that her ex-boyfriend delete every video and picture in which she appeared. According to the Guardian, “her ex-partner had to date shown no intention of reproducing the pictures or putting them online.” But given the phenomenon known as “revenge porn,” in which an ex-partner, by way of payback, posts compromising pictures online, the woman wasn’t taking any chances. The Higher Regional Court in Koblenz ruled that the woman’s personal rights trumped the man’s ownership rights in the photos and videos, at least with regards to those in which she appeared unclothed.

Now, if this story sounds like some kind of parody to you, you’re right. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. Two states, California and New Jersey, have outlawed “revenge porn,” even when the pictures were taken with the victim’s consent, and at least one dozen more are considering doing so. At the same time, many civil liberties experts believe that criminalizing the posting of material that was shot with the consent of the subject violates the First Amendment.

Missing—actually, to use a proper German word, verboten—in this discussion is any consideration of an obvious preventative measure: do not allow yourself to be photographed in sexually-compromising situations. Pointing this out would almost certainly prompt cries of “blaming the victim.” Now, let me be clear: Men who would post these images online, for whatever reason, are acting reprehensibly, regardless of what the law says. But the law is a poor substitute for prudence, modesty and other virtues, which, it’s fair to say, are increasingly in short supply.

A big part of the reason that this is the case was the subject of the 1998 book, “Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality” by cultural historian Neal Gabler. In the book, Gabler described how Americans, taking their cues from celebrity culture, were coming to see themselves as starring in their own “Life Movie.” Whereas “Puritan culture emphasized values like hard work, integrity, and courage,” the new culture of personality “emphasized charm, fascination and likeability,” what Gabler dubbed “the performing self.” Gabler wrote this at the dawn of the Internet age and decades before the explosion of social media, which enabled people to “screen” their “Life Movies” for others. When you're competing against literally millions of other “Life Movies,” you're tempted to go to foolish lengths to make your “movie” more “compelling,” if for no one else but yourself. Thus you document what shouldn’t be documented.

While Christians aren’t going to these extreme lengths—at least I hope not—we’re not immune to the temptation to call attention to ourselves and to derive our worth from being recognized by others instead of serving others, by rejoicing in our increasing number of “followers” on Twitter instead of in the fact that our names are written in heaven.

Eric Metaxas (Breakpoint Commentary May 30)
   To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labor to make us lovable.

     C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  I want to state an important truth from within the Christian worldview...removing pain from the human, in effect, trying to remove the felt reality of evil. There is one fundamental difference between God allowing a death to take place and me taking another life: God has the power to restore life; I don't. The story of evil is one part of a greater narrative. To ignore the greater narrative is to continue to raise particulars without accepting the general. In fact, there is no option left but to say there is no such thing as evil and there should be no such thing as pain. Psychiatry, in fact, is wrestling with the ramifications of a drug that removes guilt and remorse. What kind of a world will we have when a rapist can take a morning-after pill?
  Some time ago, I read an article about a three-year-old girl in Elk River, Minnesota, who suffers from a rare malady that involves insensitivity to pain. It is called CIPA -- Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis. People with this disease feel no pain, nor do they sweat or shed tears. There are only approximately one hundred known cases in the world. Little Gabby Gingras has to be watched over constantly. At four months of age, her parents noticed that she would bite her own fingers till they bled, with no expression of discomfort. When she was two yeas old, she had to have her teeth removed to prevent her from biting herself and causing serious injury. She could put her hand on a hot plate and burn herself without feeling a twinge of pain. She always has to wear safety glasses because in one instance she scratched her cornea badly. She plays sports with absolute fearlessness, never hesitant about banging into anything. She says she sometimes feels like crying, but she can't. The life of this little one is in perpetual danger. The average life span for a child with this malady is twenty-five years. The parents of children with CIPA have one prayer -- that their child would feel pain.
  If it is possible in our finite world with our limited knowledge to be able to appreciate just one benefit of pain, is it not possible that God has designed this awareness within us to remind us of what is good for us and what is destructive? As horrendous as the illustrations may sometimes be, can we not see the moral framework that detects atrocities and resists tragedies? Could there be a greater, deeper answer than simply saying there is no God?

~ Ravi Zacharias
  At any given time, there are an average of 1,800 storms in operation in the world. The energy needed to generate those storms amounts to the incredible figure of 1,300,000,000 horsepower. By comparison, a large earth-moving machine has 420 horsepower and requires a hundred gallons of fuel a day to operate. Just one of those storms, producing a rain of four inches over an area of ten thousand square miles, would require energy equivalent to the burning of 640,000,000 tons of coal to evaporate enough water for such a rain. And to cool those vapors and collect them in clouds would take another 800,000,000 horsepower of refrigeration working night and day for a hundred days.
  Agricultural studies have determined that the average farmer in Minnesota gets 407,510 gallons of rainwater per acre per year, free of charge, of course. The state of Missouri has some 70,000 square miles and averages 38 inches of rain a year. That amount of water is equal to a lake 250 miles long, 60 miles wide, and 22 feet deep.
  The U.S. Natural Museum has determined that there are at least 10 million species of insects, including some 2,500 varieties of ants. There are about 5 billion birds in the United States, among which some species are able to fly 500 miles non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. Mallard ducks can fly 60 miles an hour, eagles 100 miles an hour, and falcons can dive at speeds of 180 miles an hour.
  The earth is 25,000 miles in circumference, weighs 6 septillion, 588 sextillion tons, and hangs unsupported in space. It spins at 1,000 miles per hour with absolute precision and careens through space around the sun at the speed of 1,000 miles per minute in an orbit 580 million miles long.
  The head of a comet may be from 10,000 to 1,000,000 miles long, have a tail 100,000,000 miles long, and travel at a speed of 350 miles per second. If the sun's radiated energy could be converted into horsepower, it would be the equivalent of 500 million, million, billion horsepower. Each second it consumes some 4 million tons of matter. To travel at the speed of light (ca. 186,281 miles per second) across the Milky Way, the galaxy in which our solar system is located, would take 125,000 years. And our galaxy is but one of millions.
  The human heart is about the size of it's owner's fist. An adult heart weighs less than half a pound, yet can do enough work in twelve hours to lift 65 tons one inch off the ground. A water molecule is composed of only three atoms. But if all the molecules in one drop of water were the size of a grain of sand, they could make a road one foot thick and a half mile wide that would stretch from Los Angeles to New York. Amazingly, however, the atom itself is largely space, its actual matter taking up only one trillionth of its volume.
  Except to a mind willfully closed to the obvious, it is inconceivable that such power, intricacy, and harmony could have developed by any means but that of a Master Designer who rules the universe. It would be infinitely more reasonable to think that the separate pieces of a watch could be shaken in a bag and eventually become a dependable timepiece than to think that the world could have evolved into its present state by blind chance.

   - John MacArthur
  It is a debt, a burden a thief, a sickness, a leprosy, a plague, poison, a serpent, a sting; everything that man hates it is; a load of curses, and calamities beneath whose crushing most intolerable pressure, the creation groaneth...
  Who is the hoary sexton that digs man a grave? Who is the painted temptress that steals his virtue? Who is the murderess that destroys his life? Who is the sorceress that first deceives, and then damns his soul? -- Sin.
  Who with icy breath, blights the fair blossoms of youth? Who breaks the hearts of parents? Who brings old men's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave? -- Sin.
  Who, by a more hideous metamorphosis than Ovid even fancied, changes gentle children into vipers, tender mothers into monsters and their fathers into worse than Herods, the murderers of their own innocents? -- Sin.
  Who casts the apple of discord on household hearts? Who lights the torch of war, and bears it blazing over trembling lands? Who by divisions in the church, rends Christ's seamless robe? -- Sin.
  Who is this Delilah that sings the Nazirite asleep and delivers up the strength of God into the hands of the uncircumcised? Who with winning smiles on her face, honey flattery on her tongue, stands in the door to offer the sacred rites of hospitality and when suspicion sleeps, treacherously pierces our temples with a nail? What fair siren is this who seated on a rock by the deadly pool smiles to deceive, sings to lure, kisses to betray, and flings her arm around our neck to leap with us into perdition? -- Sin.
  Who turns the soft and gentlest heart to stone? Who hurls reason from her lofty throne, and impels sinners, mad as Gadarene swine, down the precipice, into a lake of fire? -- Sin.

      Cited in Elon Foster's New Cyclopedia of Prose Illustrations

   Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world....The essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same. Consider the enormousness of the problem: Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks what cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions...
   For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been there for centuries.

 Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) - astrophysicist, founding director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
he learns to find love in the world.

  Dorothy Law Nolte (1924-2005) 
  Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving; at least we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

  No, I'm not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I'm talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

  Historical accounts of Squanto's life vary, but historians believe that around 1608, more than a decade before the Pilgrims arrived, a group of English traders sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, the traders took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery. It was an unimaginable horror.

  But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indians, a boy named Squanto.

  Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stables of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto's desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.

  It wasn't until 1619, ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped, that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.

  But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto's entire village.

  We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto's mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

  A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto's people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

  According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto "became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died."

  When Squanto lay dying of fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend "desir[ed] the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen's God in heaven." Squanto bequeathed his possessions to the Pilgrims "as remembrances of his love."

  Who but God could so miraculously convert a lonely Indian and then use him to save a struggling band of Englishmen? It is reminiscent of the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery, and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

  Squanto's life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith.

   Chuck Colson (1931-2012)
  There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture originated the term ‘hacker’. Hackers built the Internet. Hackers made the Unix operating system what it is today. Hackers make the World Wide Web work. If you are part of this culture, if you have contributed to it and other people in it know who you are and call you a hacker, you're a hacker.

  The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacker culture. There are people who apply the hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music — actually, you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art. Software hackers recognize these kindred spirits elsewhere and may call them ‘hackers’ too — and some claim that the hacker nature is really independent of the particular medium the hacker works in.

  ...There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren't. These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people ‘crackers’ and want nothing to do with them. Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word ‘hacker’ to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end.

  The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them.

  ...If you want to be a cracker, go read the alt.2600 newsgroup and get ready to do five to ten in the slammer after finding out you aren't as smart as you think you are. And that's all I'm going to say about crackers.

   Eric Steven Raymond (How to Become a Hacker)
All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love – a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek –
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

  C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  See if you can think of just one famous person in history (good or bad) whose name was despised enough to be adopted as a cuss word: Napoleon, Shakespeare, Hitler, Mother Teresa, or perhaps Gandhi? There's only one Person whose Name is used to express disgust. He is the One who said to love your enemies, to show kindness to those who despitefully use you, and to treat others as you would have them treat you. Why then is He despised? It's because He's also the One who maintained that God requires moral accountability. He warned, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7).

 Ray Comfort
  Geologists divide the earth's history into what are known as "periods," which in turn are divided into "epochs." The best-known period is probably the Jurassic, while we are said to be living today in the Holocene epoch of the Quaternary period. Bet you didn't know that!

  Now, however, some scientists are calling the age we're living in the "Anthropocene," that is, the "new human age." And that is not a compliment. It's intended to draw attention to humanity's "dramatic impact on the planet." It's a way of expressing the "feeling that monumental events and dynamics capable of changing the Earth's geologic realities [are] unfolding under our feet." Just as previous periods left "distinctive paleontological, chemical, or physical signatures" in rocks, the promoters of the "Anthropocene" insist that this current epoch will leave signatures "every bit as distinctive as those used to define the past geological epochs." The most obvious of these signatures is increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thus, advocates of the idea date the onset of the period to the beginning of the industrial revolution, which was made possible by the burning of fossil fuels. If this strikes you as more politics than science, you're not alone. Some of the idea's most prominent supporters acknowledge that calling the present geological period the "Anthropocene" is a political act intended to highlight our impact on the planet. Not everyone is buying the idea of the Anthropocene: Nigel Clark of West Virginia University spoke for many of his colleagues when he wrote that "the term neglects the presence—and force—of terrestrial processes that exist independently from human relationships." Speaking of "terrestrial processes," it's difficult not to notice that, as impacts go, our effect on the planet pales compared to what the Earth has accomplished without us. Towards the end of the Pleistocene, about 12,000 years ago, scientists tell us that Manhattan, where I live, was covered by a sheet of ice two-and-one-half times the height of the Empire State Building.

  Yet, in a biblical sense we are living in the Anthropocene. As Genesis tells us, God created man and gave him the task of stewardship over all of creation. And stewardship assumes that what is being looked after is not ours to do with as we please. As N.T. Wright wrote in "After You Believe," the "creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 . . . certainly don't envisage humans tyrannizing creation. Try doing that to a garden, forcing it to do what you want whether the soil will take it or not, and you may well create a wilderness." The analogy to a garden is especially apt. Not simply because the Bible uses the word, but because an important part of our response to a well-cared for garden is aesthetic. There's a seemliness, a beauty, and a rightness to a well-tended garden. It's unmistakably the work of human hands, but hands that work with and for nature, not to exploit it. When it comes to stewarding creation today, however, many of our practices can only be described as "unseemly." Think of the images of the recent smog-out that enveloped northeastern China, for instance. Instead of respecting creation and honoring the creator, we too often treat it as disposable. Even worse, we do this in the name of preserving not human life, but a particular lifestyle enjoyed by a relative handful of us.

  This kind of exploitation is of course the antithesis of stewardship. And in more ways than one, the rocks will cry out against us.

 Eric Metaxas (Breakpoint Commentary 11/4/2013)

 As might be expected, God has a purpose in allowing us to be tempted. To begin, let's remember that temptation, with all of its frightful possibilities for failure, is God's method of testing our loyalties. We cannot say we love someone or trust someone until we have had to make some hard choices on that person's behalf. Similarly, we cannot say we love God or trust God unless we have said no to persistent temptations. Quite simply, God wants us to develop a passion for Him that is greater than our passion to sin!

 Take Abraham as an example. God asked him to slay his favorite son. He was strongly tempted to say no to God. The altar he built was probably the most carefully constructed altar ever made, as he probably took his time with it. As he worked, he surely thought of numerous reasons why he should disobey God: Isaac was needed to fulfill God's promise. What is more, Sarah would never understand. And above all, how could a merciful God expect a man to slay his own beloved son?

 Of course, you know how the story ended. Abraham passed the test; the angel of the Lord prevented him from stabbing his son and provided a ram for the sacrifice. Take note of God's perspective on the incident: "Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me" (Gen. 22:12).

 How do we know that Abraham loved God? That he trusted God? Because he chose to say yes when all the powers of hell and the passions of his soul were crying no. This fierce temptation gave Abraham a striking opportunity to prove his love for the Almighty.

 ...What about the woman who seemingly could not resist falling in love with another man? Or the alcoholic tempted by his friends to revert to his old habits? Or the young man surrounded by the wrong crowd? Why does God not shield us from these circumstances? He allows us the luxury of difficult choices so that we can prove our love for Him. These are our opportunities to choose God rather than the world.

 Do you love God?

 ...But what happens when you are confronted with a tough decision�such as whether you should satisfy your passions or control them? Our response to temptation is an accurate barometer of our love for God. One of the first steps in handling temptation is to see it as an opportunity to test our loyalties. If we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15).

 Joseph resisted the daily seduction of Potiphar's wife because of his love for God. He asked her, "How � could I do this great evil and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). Even if he could have gotten by with his private affair, without anyone finding out, he could not bear the thought of hurting the God he had come to know. The same principle applies to us. Each temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible.

 That's why God doesn't exterminate the Devil and his demons. Admittedly, the presence of wicked spirits in the world does make our choices more difficult. But think of what such agonizing choices mean to God. We prove our love for God when we say yes to Him, even when the deck appears to be stacked against us.

 What it boils down to is this: Do we value the pleasures of the world or those that come from God? The opportunities for sin that pop up around us, the sinful nature within us, and the demonic forces that influence us give us numerous opportunities to answer that question.

     ~Erwin Lutzer

  A merely moral man may be very scrupulous of duties he owes to his fellowmen, while the infinitely important duties he owes to God are kept entirely out of sight. Of loving and serving God, he knows nothing. Whatever he does or whatever leaves undone, he does nothing for God. He is honest in his dealings with all except God, he robs none but God, he is thankless and faithless to none but God, he feels contemptuously, and speaks reproachfully of none but God. A just perception of the relations he sustains to God constitute no part of his principles, and the duties which result from those relations constitute no part of his piety. He may not only disbelieve the Scriptures, but may never read them; may not only disregard the divine authority, but every form of divine worship, and live and die as though he had no concern with God and God had not concern with him. The character of the young man in the Gospel presents a painful and affecting view of the deficiencies of external morality (see Mt. 19:16-22). He was not dishonest, nor untrue; he was not impure nor malignant; and not a few of the divine commands he had externally observed. Nay, he says, "All these have I kept." Nor was his a mere sporadic goodness, but steady and uniform. He had performed these services "from his youth up." Nor was this all. He professed a willingness to become acquainted with his whole duty. "What lack I yet?" And yet when brought to the test, this poor youth saw that, with all his boasted morality, he could not deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ.

Gardiner Spring (1785-1873)
  The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo - for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted.
  But as we awake from the nightmare, it is important to eschew the facile explanations for the Romney defeat that will prevail among the chattering classes. Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.
  Romney lost because he didn't get enough votes to win.
  That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues - the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness - no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.
  The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff.
  Every businessman knows this; that is why the "loss leader" or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama's America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who - courtesy of Obama - receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.
  The defining moment of the whole campaign was the revelation of the secretly-recorded video in which Romney acknowledged the difficulty of winning an election in which "47% of the people" start off against him because they pay no taxes and just receive money - "free stuff" - from the government.
  Almost half of the population has no skin in the game - they don't care about high taxes, promoting business, or creating jobs, nor do they care that the money for their free stuff is being borrowed from their children and from the Chinese.
  They just want the free stuff that comes their way at someone else's expense. In the end, that 47% leaves very little margin for error for any Republican, and does not bode well for the future.
  It is impossible to imagine a conservative candidate winning against such overwhelming odds. People do vote their pocketbooks. In essence, the people vote for a Congress who will not raise their taxes, and for a President who will give them free stuff, never mind who has to pay for it.
  That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters - the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism. That is the indelicate way of saying that too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads. That is why Obama did not have to produce a second term agenda, or even defend his first-term record. He needed only to portray Mitt Romney as a rapacious capitalist who throws elderly women over a cliff, when he is not just snatching away their cancer medication, while starving the poor and cutting taxes for the rich.
  During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai Stevenson: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Stevenson called back: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!" Truer words were never spoken.
  Obama could get away with saying that "Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules" - without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the "rich should pay their fair share" - without ever defining what a "fair share" is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to "fend for themselves" - without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending.
  Similarly, Obama (or his surrogates) could hint to blacks that a Romney victory would lead them back into chains and proclaim to women that their abortions and birth control would be taken away. He could appeal to Hispanics that Romney would have them all arrested and shipped to Mexico and unabashedly state that he will not enforce the current immigration laws. He could espouse the furtherance of the incestuous relationship between governments and unions - in which politicians ply the unions with public money, in exchange for which the unions provide the politicians with votes, in exchange for which the politicians provide more money and the unions provide more votes, etc., even though the money is gone.
  Obama also knows that the electorate has changed - that whites will soon be a minority in America (they're already a minority in California) and that the new immigrants to the US are primarily from the Third World and do not share the traditional American values that attracted immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a different world, and a different America . Obama is part of that different America , knows it, and knows how to tap into it. That is why he won.
  Obama also proved again that negative advertising works, invective sells, and harsh personal attacks succeed. That Romney never engaged in such diatribes points to his essential goodness as a person; his "negative ads" were simple facts, never personal abuse - facts about high unemployment, lower take-home pay, a loss of American power and prestige abroad, a lack of leadership, etc. As a politician, though, Romney failed because he did not embrace the devil's bargain of making unsustainable promises.
  It turned out that it was not possible for Romney and Ryan - people of substance, depth and ideas - to compete with the shallow populism and platitudes of their opponents. Obama mastered the politics of envy – of class warfare - never reaching out to Americans as such but to individual groups, and cobbling together a winning majority from these minority groups. If an Obama could not be defeated - with his record and his vision of America , in which free stuff seduces voters - it is hard to envision any change in the future.
  The road to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and to a European-socialist economy -those very economies that are collapsing today in Europe - is paved.
  For Jews, mostly assimilated anyway and staunch Democrats, the results demonstrate again that liberalism is their Torah. Almost 70% voted for a president widely perceived by Israelis and most committed Jews as hostile to Israel . They voted to secure Obama's future at America 's expense and at Israel 's expense - in effect, preferring Obama to Netanyahu by a wide margin.
  A dangerous time is ahead. Under present circumstances, it is inconceivable that the US will take any aggressive action against Iran and will more likely thwart any Israeli initiative. The US will preach the importance of negotiations up until the production of the first Iranian nuclear weapon - and then state that the world must learn to live with this new reality.
  But this election should be a wake-up call to Jews. There is no permanent empire, nor is there an enduring haven for Jews anywhere in the exile. The American empire began to decline in 2007, and the deterioration has been exacerbated in the last five years. This election only hastens that decline.  Society is permeated with sloth, greed, envy and materialistic excess. It has lost its moorings and its moral foundations.. The takers outnumber the givers, and that will only increase in years to come.
  The "Occupy" riots across this country in the last two years were mere dress rehearsals for what lies ahead - years of unrest sparked by the increasing discontent of the unsuccessful who want to seize the fruits and the bounty of the successful, and do not appreciate the slow pace of redistribution.
  If this past election proved one thing, it is that the Old America is gone.  And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky (article in The Israel National News)

 According to "The State of the Bible, 2013," a new report from the American Bible Society, four in five American adults believe the Bible is a holy book. While that percentage is down slightly from a few years ago, it still shows that there is a wide respect for Scripture. But wide respect does not necessarily lead to deep engagement.

 In fact, the deep end of the American Bible literacy pool would barely get our ankles wet! In fact, this same report says that forty-five percent of those surveyed—nearly half—strongly agree with the statement that God helps those who help themselves. Really? What Bible are these folks reading? The whole point of the New Testament—of Jesus' death on the cross for our sins, in fact—is that we're lost sinners who cannot save ourselves and need God's help, from first to last.

 In our shallowness, we often treat the Holy Book as a self-help book, or as a collection of a few favorite "moral mcnuggets" (as Phillip Yancey calls them) that we put up on our walls via inspirational posters, calendars, or cross-stitched knickknacks.

 This shallowness has consequences. The late, great theologian Lesslie Newbigin once said, "Most of us treat the Bible as an anthology of helpful thoughts to which we occasionally turn, and from which we can obtain comfort, guidance, direction." And what's wrong with that? you say. Well, here's the problem, according to Newbigin: "… in that case the Bible, of course, is not our authority." And that's exactly right. If we pick and choose what we find to be inspirational, we are the authority.

 Newbigin often told of a Hindu scholar who questioned him about why missionaries always presented the Bible as just another "book of religion." The Bible, said the Hindu, is different than all other sacred books in India, in that it offered a "unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history."

 It's amazing that a Hindu could see this when so many of us can't.

 As Chuck Colson pointed out, "For 2,000 years, the Bible, often unaided by any human intervention, has transformed—often dramatically—the lives of those who read it: St. Augustine, St. Anthony of Egypt, Martin Luther, to name just a few. And I have known thousands," Chuck said, "including hardened criminals, who have read the Bible and been transformed for good."

 Friends, if we're honest, we all know we need this kind of transformation, but it will never happen if our faith is a mile wide and an inch deep.

  John Stonestreet (Breakpoint Commentary 9/19/2013)