The True Freedom of Religion

A common meme from anti-Christians is that Christianity is a restrictive religion. Many modern churches have also begun to sing this refrain as they attempt to abandon “legalism,” which they mostly define as rigid rules put in place by churches on music and attire (this is not true legalism, but difference in preference as I wrote about here). The Bible is a book of negative liberties – it tells us what NOT to do, therefore, true freedom can only be found by abandoning organized religion.

This line of thinking is dangerously ignorant.

Most people fail to realize that the “fun” they have at social gatherings is not due to drinking or taking other substances, but from the social gathering itself. Sociologist Emile Durkheim called the euphoric feeling at a social event “collective effervescence.” He theorized that it was this very effervescence that formed the basis of religion as a social system. He believed that religion is the worship of the group, therefore, specific doctrine, rites, and rituals are irrelevant. What matters is that people do it together.

This effervescence transcends substances. The only necessary ingredient is having a group of people in the physical presence of others, and essentially performing the same ritual – whether that be prayer and worship at church or doing the wave at a football game.

Religious groups are incredibly fun, in that they enjoy the same effervescence that secular groups feel. It is euphoric to gather and get to know people with similar interests. The only “restrictions” at most Christian events are no drugs or alcohol, no nudity or sex, and not engaging in other taboos. Again, if fun is based on being social, those additional “freedoms” are unnecessary.

Notice I put “freedoms” in quotation marks. This is because I do not believe true freedom comes from the sins of secularism.

Go to any recovery group and ask the members there if drinking or doing drugs brings freedom. At Reformer’s Unanimous, the Faith-based recovery group I attend, we speak of addiction as bondage. You might be fortunate enough to not suffer from a substance addiction, but a huge number of people do. They will tell you that the urge to use supersedes basic life functioning. Addicts often struggle with depression and other mental health issues.

This is not freedom.

If you have fallen for the lies of the “free love” movement of the 1960s in which we should all have the “freedom” to engage in uninhibited sexual conquest and public nudity – would draw your attention to the recent allegations throughout the #metoo movement. This social movement was born the minute that we told men and women that sex outside of the confines of marriage comes without repercussions. We now have exceptionally high single-parent poverty, abuse of power through sexual assault, increases in sexually transmitted diseases, and contentious debates over “toxic masculinity” and our universities being bastions of “rape culture” manifested on campuses.

This is not freedom.

Furthermore, Cultural Marxists infesting the media, universities, and Leftist political parties constantly remind us that we are all oppressed in some way. Racial and ethnic minorities, women, Muslims, LGBT, the poor, the uneducated, children, adults, the mentally ill, etc. living in a Western, capitalist society are oppressed by our economic system. Those not living in a capitalist society are oppressed by economic colonialist nations. Unless you are a member of the white, patriarchal, bourgeoisie, you are oppressed.

Statistics show that many of those elitist bourgeoisie also face greater risk of suicide and stress related deadly diseases. Being a wealthy, white, male business owner is oppressed by health risks.

This is not freedom.

Far too many in society try to convince us that wealth, sexual promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, and constant partying are expressions of freedom. This is simply not true.

Is religion, particularly Christianity, also oppressive?

There are certain periods we can point to in which major atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. The Crusades and Inquisition are blights on “Christian” history, but these events are not based in true Christianity, rather, they are based on the evil acts of wicked people who happened to call themselves Christians.

True Christianity demands that we avoid dangerous behavior. We have plenty of evidence that “the wages of sin are death”, not just spiritually, but they often lead to an early and painful demise in this life. Diseases linked to drinking, drugs, and smoking cigarettes number in the hundreds of thousands (the majority come from smoking). Contracting an STD can be range from perpetually irritating to deadly.

What comes from behaving in a Christ-like fashion? Being ostracized from society from not being like them. Have any diseases been linked to any specifically Christian behavior? Are there any unhealthy Christian addictions? Do true Christians start wars? Starve citizens? Murder children? Rape women? Enslave minorities? Murder the innocent?

The answer is clearly no. Christianity does not oppress Christians or anyone else. True Christianity is freedom; not freedom to be enslaved by behavior, but from being enslaved by it.

If you want true freedom, turn to Jesus Christ.

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Exposing the “Mental Health Crisis”

In sociology, mental health has long been viewed as a “social construction” like gender, race, etc. It is absolutely true in this case. Autism is new a “spectrum” that can be as wide as the mental health community wishes it to be. Homosexuality and transgenderism used to be afflictions that no longer appear in the DSM-V (the psychologists’ Bible for mental illnesses).

The United States of America is the most medicated society in the history of mankind. Do we really have a mental health crisis in which growing numbers of citizens are suffering from a mental illness, or are doctors and therapists merely prescribe more medication? I have always believed that the latter is the most likely answer, but my recent experiences have served to solidify that opinion.

I have been working as a mental health counselor in a local middle school for a few weeks now. It is a personally rewarding job, as helping kids overcome their social problems is an extremely important job. However, the unholy alliance of the education system, mental health industry, and government healthcare in the pockets of a private business has created an incredibly dangerous and destructive environment for our children.

My employer requires a minimum number of billable hours known as “productivity.” These hours are billed to Medicaid. The company needs to bill Medicaid so they can cover costs (payroll, rent, keeping the lights on, etc.) of doing business. I have to provide an average of 5 hours of productivity every day. I also need to have enough students on my caseload to meet those productivity standards. I share my caseload with a therapist who also has their own productivity numbers to meet.

Thus, a school therapist is incentivized to diagnose “enough” kids in the school to meet the productivity standards in order to bill Medicaid enough money to pay all of us.

The real consequence of this policy is an uptick in mental health diagnoses. I have already met with a number of students who have behavioral problems, not mental health problems. Most of them are on the “spectrum” – basically any kid who has trouble making friends ends up here. Several have been diagnosed with ADHD – any kid who has a hard time paying attention to boring teachers in classes that they don’t care about.

I have sat in public school classrooms. My clients are supposed to sit and exhibit ideal behavior while a half-dozen students who have not been diagnosed are acting like wild animals. My kids have “mental health” problems, but these other kids do not.

Many of my clients do not take prescribed medication because they say, “it makes me feel weird” or “I don’t feel like myself.” I completely understand this. In college, I read a paper about “the medicated self” which argues that those on anti-depressants are unsure which “self” is their true self.

Imagine being told that your “self” is not complete unless you are taking medication that basically turns you into a different person. This medicated “self” is the “good self”, while your natural existence is viewed as incomplete.

So we now have a group of students who are “mentally ill”, while other students who exhibit the same behavior are “mentally healthy.” One group is told that they need drugs to be complete, while the other is told they are whole. One group is diagnosed with “mental illnesses” whose definitions change over time, often due to social pressure from social justice lobbyists. One group needs to be diagnosed as mentally ill in order to keep therapists and CPSTs employed. One group is told they are incomplete, and we wonder why they grow up into adults who continue to exhibit mental health problems.

This does not even address the potential damage that a psychotropic drug can have when introduced to an otherwise healthy brain. Most people who are diagnosed have not had any sort of brain scan. An “expert” who sits in an office determines the brain chemistry of a client after a conversation or two – not an MRI or C/T scan, but a chat determines that neurons and synapses are not working properly –  and prescribes drugs to these individuals.

This is the reality of America’s “mental health crisis.” We are creating mental illness by redefining what makes someone ill and introducing brain chemistry altering drugs into potentially healthy brains.

**This is not to say that there are not legitimate cases of mental illness. I am merely saying that they are far less prevalent than we are led to believe.**

Many of our schools are filled with mental health workers who are incentivized to diagnose a certain number of students as mentally ill in order to fulfill arbitrary “productivity” standards.

It is my experience that the overwhelming similarity between clients is the lack of a two-parent household. Some poor kid who experiences abuse or abandonment in the home acts out at school to get attention to show that he has power somewhere. These kids do not have broken brains, they are victims of broken homes.

We must fix families. We must worry more about making these kids whole rather than meeting “productivity”. We must allow teachers and schools to deal with kids in a more effective way than slapping them with a mental health diagnosis that excuses bad behavior and will follow them for the rest of their lives.

We must stop telling our kids that they are not whole.

I would gladly sacrifice my job for the greater good. The “mental health crisis” needs to be discussed. We must shine a light on the dark corners of the mental health industry before it all gets worse.

If you are a mental health worker, do you agree or disagree? Where am I wrong? Where am I right? I would love to hear from you by either commenting on this post or you can email me at scornedchaos@hotmail.com.

Ohio State Juvenile Reforms

A Brief History of Ohio Juvenile Institutions

Prior to the institution of the Ohio Reform School in 1857, male juvenile offenders were sent to adult penitentiaries. The ORS housed boys between 8 and 18 years old. It adopted the cottage style “open system” rather than a large structure to house inmates. Boys entered the ORS with a number of “demerits” that were based on the nature of their crimes. Bad behavior led to additional demerits, but good behavior led to the loss of demerits. Once a boy reached zero demerits, they were freed and returned to their families (Ohio History Central n.d.).

The Breaking Point

By 1992, the Ohio juvenile prison system was breaking down. The state had 11 facilities with the capacity to house 1,400 inmates. However, there were nearly 2,500 boys held in these institutions. Nine counties instituted a pilot program in 1993 to curb the rising problems within the system. They began to funnel non-violent offenders into community based programs with mental health services, family counseling, and substance abuse treatment, rather than youth prisons (Shaffer 2015).

The immediate results were clear. The number of inmates dropped 40% in the first year, the daily cost per offender in youth prisons was around $550, but community-based programs cost only $200. Recidivism rates were cut in half, and 85% of the courts in the system approved of the reforms. Although a marked improvement, Ohio juvenile corrections facilities suffered from many of the same problems that most institutions do.

 

The Institutional State of State Institutions

            In 2010, the Children’s Defense Fund, in conjunction with the Annie E. Casey Foundation – the organization most famously connected with the uber-successful “Missouri Model” – released a report on the state of juvenile institutions in the state of Ohio. The Missouri Model promotes keeping youths in smaller facilities rather than gigantic institutions. They focus on treatment over incarceration. They promote group therapy over isolation. The staff promotes positive interaction over abuse and intimidation. They encourage education, family involvement, and stay with youths after they are released.

Abuses and Lawsuits

            The Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) faced a federal lawsuit filed in 2004 that was finally settled in 2008, over its unconstitutional treatment of inmates. There were complaints about increased violence and abuse coming from both guards and other inmates. In one incident, inmates were being transferred in a face down position from one facility to another (Prison Legal News 2015). Other accusations involved isolation, and racial bias in mental health treatment.

By 2012, the ODYS filed a motion to terminate a stipulation requiring court-ordered monitoring of the system. The court agreed that no more, or at least, very few unconstitutional actions were taking place within the ODYS, and monitoring ended (Prison Legal News 2015).

In 2014, the ODYS settled another lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department over the unlawful seclusion of inmates. As part of the settlement, ODYS agreed to reduce and eventually end seclusion of youths and increase the availability of mental health treatments to better determine the root causes of behavior that led to such a punishment (Department of Justice 2014).

A 2016 lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) against the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center (MCJDC) in Lancaster, OH for refusing to allow DRO to investigate their facilities with private and confidential access. While given a tour, the MCJDC did not allow DRO to have private conversations with inmates – a confidential discussion that ensures the safety of an inmate who may have concerns about their treatment at the facility. This is a violation of state and federal law (Disability Rights Ohio 2016).

JDAI

The state of Ohio began instituting a national program of Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in the state’s five largest counties in 2010. Prior to the implementation of JDAI, Ohio’s juvenile incarceration rate was among the top third of all states. Only 33% of juveniles were detained for person-offenses, more than 40% for drug offenses, and 25% for violating probation, status offenses, violating court orders, or other technical offenses (Children’s Defense Fund 2010).

The four core goals of JDAI are to: 1) Eliminate the overuse of secure detention; 2) Minimize failures to appear in court and reduce delinquent behavior; 3) Redirect public finances from building new facilities to creating responsible alternative strategies; and 4) Improve conditions in secure detention facilities.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2010), a multi-level approach was proposed for juvenile reforms in Ohio, including:

  1. Continue and Expand County-Based Detention Reform.
  2. Continue State Leadership on Reducing Incarceration Rates.
  3. Create a System of State Oversight, Assistance and Accountability for Detention.
  4. Ensure that All Youth Risking Detention Have Effective Legal Representation.

Results

By 2017, there was a 29% reduction in juvenile admissions across the eight sites that implemented JDAI reforms (Kuhlman 2017), and many other sites were closed. The institution of Community Intervention Centers have been implemented in Cleveland and Dayton, and the state plans to hire more guards and train them in de-escalation techniques (Shaffer 2017). Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of statewide data on the successes (or lack thereof) of JDAI reforms in Ohio’s juvenile facilities. However, one of the five initial reform sites in Franklin County “experienced a 90% success rate at their evening reporting center for youth at high risk for reoffending, with not one participant being readmitted to their Reception Center with a new charge” (Children’s Defense Fund 2015). If we extrapolate these results to the other sites, that is an amazing positive development in Ohio’s juvenile justice system.

The facilities run by the ODYS have instituted reforms over the same period as well. The daily population has fallen dramatically in the ODYS, many facilities have closed, and an increase in behavioral and mental health treatment programs. However, recidivism rates are all over the place – they are up and down depending on the length of stay and age of the inmate. Regardless, they are nowhere near as low as rates in the JDAI facilities (Children’s Defense Fund 2015).

Discussion

            Ohio is a state that is desperately trying to reform its facilities. The long-lasting ODYS has been essentially court-ordered to reform its institutions. Meanwhile, JDAI reforms have been implemented in many other facilities. This is a positive development in both cases, but the JDAI results are outpacing that of ODYS. As mentioned earlier, statewide data from JDAI in Ohio is lacking. However, given the results that we do know from Ohio counties and similar results from other states that have implemented the Missouri Model, we can assume that statewide data would yield similar outcomes.

Closing facilities, eliminating huge detention centers, treating inmates like human beings, focusing on education, lowering recidivism rates, and helping released youths to reintegrate back into society after leaving a facility have made Missouri the most successful state for juvenile reforms in the country. Their results outpace all other states. JDAI in Ohio appears to be delivering similar results. Therefore, I believe that the Missouri Model based JDAI reforms should be the new standard for juvenile reforms in not just Ohio, but in all states.

 

Works Cited

Children’s Defense Fund. 2010. “Rethinking Juvenile Detention in Ohio.” Retrieved from http://www.cdfohio.org/research-library/2010/JuvDetention_Issue_Brief.pdf

Children’s Defense Fund 2015. “Juvenile Justice Fact Sheet Series.”

Department of Justice. 2014. “Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against State of Ohio to End   Unlawful Seclusion of Youth in Juvenile Correctional Facilities.” Retrieved from             https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-lawsuit-against-state-ohio-end-  unlawful-seclusion-youth-juvenile

Disability Rights Ohio. 2016. “DRO Files Federal Lawsuit Against Juvenile Detention Facility for Denying DRO Access to Detained Youth.” Retrieved from     https://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/news/dro-files-federal-lawsuit-against-juvenile-detention-facility-for-denying

Kuhlman, Mary. 2017. “National Model Inspires Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio.” Public News Service. Retrieved from http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2017-04-17/juvenile-    justice/national-model-inspires-juvenile-detention-reform-in-ohio/a57182-1

Ohio History Central. n.d. “Ohio Reform School.” Retrieved from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Reform_School

Prison Legal News. 2015. “Court Ends Injunctive Monitoring of Ohio Juvenile System.” Retrieved from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2015/jan/12/court-ends-       injunctive-monitoring-ohio-juvenile-system/

Shaffer, Cory. 2015. “Ohio’s Effort to Reform Juvenile Prisons is a National Model.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/10/ohios_efforts_to_reform_juveni.html

Shaffer, Cory. 2017. “Reforms to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Will Balance Public Safety with Dignity of Teens, Officials Say.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/courtjustice/index.ssf/2018/04/reforms_to_cuyahoga_county_juv.html

Take a Stand on Your Knees

Modern American Christians are emotionally and spiritually soft. We believe that society is persecuting us when stores greet us with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. We feel as though society is after us when a baker is fined and put out of business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sure, this is a departure from past traditions, but is this religious persecution?

Is the government burning our churches down during a worship service? Are sales of Bibles illegal? Are any of us afraid to tell our co-workers about our Christianity because they might tell the authorities? Are we being stoned to death in the streets because we prayed in a public space?

There are Christians around the world who literally put their lives on the line to share their faith; and they still do it. We are afraid to ask our colleagues to church because they might stop inviting us over to watch the football game next week.

What happens when someone uses a racial slur among our friends and family? The person using the epithet is chastised, punished, probably even fired. Their reputation is devastated as they are labeled a racist for life. They need not even speak the offensive term to a person of color. The effects are the same.

A similar fate awaits those who use an anti-LGBT slur.

But what happens when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain in front of a Christian? Nothing. Society finds no offense. This is to be expected. However, should Christians not do something or say something about being offended? Are we so afraid to be sanctioned by peers BECAUSE of our faith that we, like Peter, deny Christ in public?

Race and sexual orientation, at least as a means of discrimination, has only been a thing for about 170 years. Christianity, as a means of discrimination, has been around for 2,000 years. Our savior was crucified. His closest disciples were tortured, killed, and exiled. Our religion was born from suffering in the name of love and salvation. Our history is filled with being enslaved and slaughtered. Our forefathers were fed to lions in the Colosseum. Our martyrs have been beheaded, burned at the stake, placed into iron maidens, flogged, drawn and quartered, and faced the worst punishments that human beings have ever devised.

We have as much right to be offended when Christ’s name is used as a joke or a swear as any race has when someone uses a slur.

We have as much right to be offended when society bashes our God and our beliefs as any sexual orientation has when someone refuses to bake them a cake.

No. Not as much. More.

We know that Christianity is losing its influence. We know that society respects us less and less. I think a big part of the reason is how we respond. We take offense and whine. We take to Facebook to complain or we might file an anti-discrimination lawsuit. What would happen if we actually took a stand, or a knee, in the moment?

Philippians 2:10 says, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Imagine the testimony we might have if when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain, we take this verse literally and take a knee and profess our faith. How the LORD would smile upon us at such a powerful display of faith.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job for taking a knee over police brutality. Would you be willing risk your career for God?

How much strength would we show if we were able to muster some fortitude in the face of adversity, rather than slinking away into the shadows? Maybe someone watching us take a stand (or knee) is a Christian who shares our apprehension, but is inspired by our displays of courage. Maybe our colleagues would begin to treat us with as much respect as they do minorities. Maybe someone would see us living our faith and come to salvation.

Christianity is not a joke. Our Savior is not a punchline. Our LORD is not to be mocked. Our God is the creator of the universe. He will punish the unjust and unsaved. He is coming to judge and destroy the world as we know it.

And we allow people we associate with to insult us and our God without mustering one ounce of character. Until we do, we will continue to lose our society. Even if we do not go as far as to literally get on our knees when someone utters the name of our Savior, the least we can do is say “I’m sorry, but I do not appreciate your using the name of my Lord in that way.”

It’s not much, but it’s more than we do now.

Reductio ad Racism

A reductionist fallacy occurs when we take an incredibly complex issue and reduce it to one factor while ignoring other possible factors.

Race is almost always cited as being one of, and often the most, significant factors for arrests, sentencing, and incarcerations. However, I believe that this is due to lack of imagination on behalf of researchers. Race is often presented as a causal factor – because someone is black, they are more likely to be targeted by police or policies and end up incarcerated. However, there are other intervening variables.

According to the Cato Institute, native born blacks have the highest incarceration rate of all racial and ethnic groups (4.21%). However, black legal immigrants have an incarceration rate of 0.57%, which is lower than Hispanic and “other” (mostly Middle-Eastern) races. This is a massive difference, and is the largest difference between native and immigrant incarceration rates between any racial and ethnic group. If blacks from Africa have such a relatively low incarceration rate compared to native blacks, can we really attribute the discrepancy in incarceration rates to only race?
We again discuss race as it relates to poverty and crime, but we refuse to admit that poverty may be the more important variable. Blacks make up 34% of the prison population (while only 13% of the total population), while whites (67% of the total population) make up 30% of prisons. Blacks also have a poverty rate of 22% compared to 9% for whites. We MUST consider that the reason why black incarceration rates are so much higher than white incarceration rates, is because there is a much higher rate of blacks in poverty than whites.

When we tease poverty out, rates of violence, arrests, and incarceration are virtually identical. According to the BJS, “Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) have rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).” If poverty is an equalizer, then race cannot be the primary factor.

There’s also the argument of geography. Crime is generally higher in urban areas. There is a higher concentration of blacks in urban areas. Again, when comparing overall crime rates by race, we should consider that most blacks live in crime areas than whites, but that does not mean that whites living in urban areas are committing a lower rate of crime. In most crime data used to make an argument about race, urban blacks (the majority of blacks) are essentially compared to suburban and rural whites (where they are the majority). Geography is the lost variable that I have rarely, if ever, seen considered. Perhaps research exists, but I have not seen it.

Of course, culture, as always, is ignored. American black culture, African culture, rich culture, WASP culture, Hispanic culture, Japanese culture, Asian culture, redneck culture, etc. are all different. They often have different dreams and aspirations, as well as opportunities. Their beliefs, values, and social norms are determined within the group and are difficult to change. There are plenty of examples of people moving from one sub-culture to another within a more dominant one. Assimilation rates differ, and the desire to assimilate is different among various cultures.

The argument is much more nuanced than the racial disparity proponents want to admit, and we would be hard pressed to find a plethora of data out there that dives into these nuances. It’s easier to employ the reduction fallacy, especially when it constantly remains unchecked. Political correctness and the fear of being labeled a racist stifles any further investigation.

Future research should acknowledge that racial categories are not monolithic. I doubt that will happen, because it goes against the narrative of race being the most determinate status in the history of everything.

Social Suicide and Mass Murder

On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old kid marched into his old high school and opened fire on students who walked out of their classrooms when the killer pulled a fire alarm just before the end of the school day. Reports have come out giving us some insight on his life. The media (both mainstream and social) is focusing on guns and mental illness. Here is why I believe they are looking at the wrong thing.

In Emile Durkheim’s seminal work, Suicide, he looked at death records from several countries in Europe. He found that there are essentially four types of suicide: 1) Egotistic – when someone experiences a lack of social integration or are isolated (widows, hermits, victims of bullying); 2) Anomic – lack of moral regulation or a sudden change in life where the “new normal” feels overwhelming. There is a sense of “normlessness” where all of the social norms we abide by change and the new rules are difficult to grasp (losing a job or loved one; moving to a new country); 3) Fatalistic – overwhelming oppression and hopelessness (prisoners, terminally ill); 4) Altruistic – for the greater good (soldiers, firemen, suicide bombers).
Durkheim found that suicide is not a psychological phenomenon, but a social one. Changes in one’s social integration is a greater indicator of violence against oneself than any psychological condition.

Now, let’s apply this theory to what we know about the Valentine’s Day shooter.

  1. He was social isolated. Most reports are that he was bullied pretty regularly. He had very few friends. He was kicked out of school and other social organizations. This is indicative of Egotistic suicide.
  2. His adopted father died a few years ago, but his adopted mother died just three months ago. This dramatic social event would be a likely catalyst for anomic suicide.
  3. He apparently exhibited numerous histrionic outbursts – I believe these were to draw attention to an otherwise lonely boy – yet still managed to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
  4. Therefore, he was isolated from peers by choice (making numerous threats) or force (expulsion and bullying), as well as dealing with the death of his last remaining parent (and I have to wonder if being adopted started his feelings of social isolation). He also lives in a country where guns are weaved into the fabric of the nation and are constantly depicted in the media in both positive and negative lights.

It seems to me that this is a social recipe for a disaster. Rather than turning the weapon on himself, he turned it on others. Regardless, he follows a similar pattern to other mass murders, serial killers, and the suicidal. Reports are that the Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, lost a lot of money before his rampage and was socially isolated from almost everyone except his roommate/girlfriend. The Columbine shooters were socially isolated and bullied. The same goes for the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, and almost all other mass murderers over the last 20 years.

I truly believe that we need to stop thinking of these events as psychological anomalies. There is something wrong with the SOCIAL fabric of the nation right now.

We have been in perpetual war since 2001. We just experienced a major economic recession. Social media and online video games are keeping kids from face-to-face interactions. We are the most medicated society in history. Our social and demographic categories are being constantly challenged and redefined. Religion is becoming less and less of an effective institution. Our electorate is becoming more and more divided.

Basically, we are in a national state of anomic normlessness that is leading to increasing social isolation. As our institutions continue to crumble, so does our ability to maintain solidarity. Without social solidarity and stability, we feel hopeless. We feel socially suicidal.

Some of us develop depression. Some of us do kill ourselves. Some are committing mass murder. The signs and symptoms are all there.

Since Suicide was published in 1897, data continues to back up Durkheim’s theory. I truly believe that we are experiencing social suicide that is beginning to manifest in social homicide.

These shooters are not “mentally ill”, they are socially constructed monsters. No laws can stop the inevitable destruction brought about by social unrest. Medicating the problem like we medicate our citizenry will not solve the problem.

Rightly Dividing the Word: The Psalms Multiple-Timeline Effect

Psalms really is an incredible book. There are passages that move seamlessly between references to ancient Israel under the reign of David to the millennial reign of Christ, full of references to the second advent and Antichrist.
 
You can read the book literally as writings of David, his servants, and others that are talking about things happening directly to them, but there are references to events that did not occur at that time or in the time before. Prophecy is intertwined with the present.
 
The only way to understand the complexity of these passages is to literally “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
 
Someone who has not studied the Word of God would miss all of the subtle references. They would not be able to rightly divide the word of truth.
 
It’s also a fascinating glimpse at how I believe God perceives time. Human beings are capable of distinguishing four dimensions (The combination of any three from – length, width, height, depth, breadth; and time). God is not confined by these four dimensions as we are.
 
Anyone familiar with super-string theory understands that there are dozens (or more) dimensions operating simultaneously. I believe God is outside of, yet encompasses, all possible known and unknown dimensions. Thus, His concept of time is infinitely more complex than what we could ever understand.
 
The interweaving time periods found in the book of Psalms is but a micro-fraction of a perception of time that sees past, present, and future simultaneously. So when God, as the true author of Psalms, speaks as he does in Psalms 79 of multiple applications to multiple time periods, a person who has not studied may miss the references.
 
For instance: verse 1 says “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” This had not happened during the time of David. However, this happened in 70 AD, and again during the Crusades, and will again happen during the Tribulation.
 
In fact, nothing written in the verses 1-4 occurred during the period that Asaph wrote Psalms 79, though they are written in present tense. Verses 4-5 describe the Jews during the Church Age (right now), and verses 6-7 are in reverse chronological order (7 is the Tribulation, and 6 is the Second Advent).
 
There are examples of this time period switching all throughout the Psalms. You can cross reference almost all of the prophetic verses to other prophetic passages in both Old and New Testaments. It really is remarkable.