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SIGNS OF THE TIME

Opinions & Doctrines


An "Expert" is just someone with an opinion -

and usually the wrong one.

Tumbleweed

"You're so hard-headed and egotistic. You must be a politician."

"Politician? No, I'm no politician."

"Then you got to be a lawyer or a college professor or the like."

"No. I've been to college, but I'm not a teacher or a lawyer."

"Well, come on then; give it up. I know you ain't no cabbie or truck driver."

"True. I'm a preacher."


In days gone by, and probably still yet in some circles, experts on any subject were easy to find. Men learned all about politics, the stock market, current events, and the neighborhood gossip from their barber or the kid selling newspapers on the street corner. Women were a little more selective in their search for factual information; they consulted their hairdresser, the butcher or the corner grocer.


Nowadays experts tend to be a more specialized, possessing a great deal of knowledge in a single field of interest. This on the surface seems like a good idea, and certainly one that would cause information to be more accurate and factual. However, time has not proven this to necessarily be the case.

For instance: what is the likelihood of receiving honest and accurate answers to a question on politics from a politician? Wouldn't you be more inclined to rely on your barber or the kid selling newspapers for such advice?

Or how about learning the value and condition of the used car being touted by the used car salesman? Again, ask the kid selling newspapers.

There's been many a stock broker who has grown rich giving financial advice, while those following his expert advice went bottoms-up.

And who would you trust most to give you an accurate weather forecast? your aged aunt with the arthritic elbow that acts up when the climate changes, the farmer who reads the sky for his living, or the weatherman with all his multimillion dollar instruments? Aunt Martha is almost never wrong; the weatherman is almost never right.


In any field of endeavor the result is the same: experts battling to the death to be the one recognized as "right," even though they change their expert opinion more frequently then Aunt Martha changes her socks.

Yet we continually lend our ear to the "Expert" of the day, trusting in his or her ping-pong opinion even when we know full-well the doubtful chance of that opinion being reasonable or based on logic or facts.


I first became aware of the fallacy of listening to "Experts" when I studied music at the age of 65. I won't give a detailed account of the incident here as I have already done so in the Abstract Musician. Suffice it to say that I discovered a multitude of different forms and methods of study; all claiming to be the "One and Only."

Of course, each and every teacher and student (with perhaps an exception or two) firmly and honestly believes their's to be the "right" one. Yet, they all are definitely "wrong" for me, and had confused me to tears all these years of my musically uneventful life.


When I add to my repertoire of experience the tragic errors I encountered with the Psychiatric field; and consider the ever-expanding death tole encountered in modern hospitals, the National Debt, Global Warming, and the inadequate and often inept advice I received from mother - I take pause to reconsider "Expert Advice," and I head for the kid selling newspapers on the street corner for my education.


There was a time (there must have been) when information and fact went hand-in-hand. Perhaps in ancient days when things were simple and there was very little to know or learn a person could receive accurate information. However, I tend to doubt it, because even then, the simplest of times, there must have been the "Expert" con man ready and anxious to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge.

And why not? It has been pretty well demonstrated that it is our nature to elbow our way to the front of the line in order to get first dibs on the Brooklyn Bridge. And when we see we have been "took," we elbow our way to the front of the next line where yet another bridge is being sold.


Politics, Finances, Psychology, Medicine, Weather and Used Cars (and Bridges) are not the only areas where people love to be taken for a ride (only to complain later). No indeed. In fact these count low on the scale of effective ways to pry money from the Masses and solicit Respect from the Rabble.

It has long been known that Religion is where the money and the prestige lies. If you doubt this, take a look at the Cystine Chapel or the Crystal Cathedral. And although not as ornate, consider how multimillion dollar churches embracing more loose-wallet people than the Superbowl are springing up across the country like boils on Job.

Howsoever, it is not necessary to have a large building to attract people with more money than reasoning. Consider the TV Evangelists. These programs (I suspect) bring in more money for less effort and even lesser returns for their supporters than the Home Shopping Network, which they often resemble.

Yet the masses continue to follow after these circus ringleaders, hanging on every word, like a panting dog after the promised doggie biscuit.


The Politician promises lower taxes and cleaner air to those who believe his platform.

The Weatherman offers protection from the elements and a means by which to plan one's holiday for those who heed his advice.

The Psychologist assures those who follow his advice health, happiness and family bliss.

The Financial Wizard promises his clients high returns for low capital outlay.

The Used Car Salesman offers years of carefree driving with the purchase of that rattletrap he is pushing.


When the door falls off the car; when taxes raise and the air turns purple; when it rains on your picnic; when the Financial Expert is arrested for embezzling; when you read of your Psychologist's seventh divorce; and when your bank statement is printed in red ink - you are likely to give second thought to the "Expert Advice" you have been given.


This is how it is in the world of Worldly things.

But what is it that these Mega Churches (and the Mini Churches as well) are offering that is attracting Believers to them like flies to a honeypot?

As stated above, sooner or later each of us is going to discover we have been "took" by the Expert we listened to. But, somehow, this does not often happen with the churches. Nor, when deception and flat-out lies are discovered in these churches, there is but very little action taken to correct it (other than to cover it). And when action is taken, people continue to throw their money at the perpetrator in effort to get him or her out of the pickle he strove so hard (on the believer's money) to get himself in to.

What is it these churches are offering?


Well, for one thing they offer Eternal Life. That is, when their followers die, they are promised they will live again - forever. Not only live, but live in splendor and glory.

Of course there are other religions that promise much the same, and without it costing one penny or too much of one's time. But these don't provide the circus-like atmosphere the churches often do.

Eternal Life. Now there is something to invest in! And Eternal Life is certainly something to sell without fear of a door falling off or rain clouds rolling over a parade.

When the believer wakes up on that Glorious day of reckoning having full expectation of receiving their wings and golden harp, and finds the Preacher he or she has been following is not a Messenger from God, but a retired Used Car Salesman; a door falling off will seem like small potatoes next to having one's wings clipped and hallo yanked from one's head, would it not?

By then there will be no recourse or new beginnings one might take to correct their newly discovered error in judgement. And it will do no good to rag on the Preacher about his shortcomings because he will be standing right next to you, minus his wings and harp.


Politicians stand on opposite poles demanding their rightness be heard and respected. Along with the Politician there are multitudes of groups and organizations insisting they be heard over the din of confusion as people demand their rights.

The world is torn apart with opinions and counter-opinions.

United we stand; divided we fall. And are we ever divided!


The churches are no less divided in their views and their dogmas than the world of the World. But in the church these opinions are not called opinions. Opinions are looked upon as having less substance than wind, and to be just as unstable. In the churches opinion goes by the name of "Doctrine" which cannot be questioned or challenged. They are considered as "Fact," even though those "Facts" are often diametrically opposed to the Doctrines of the church down the street, and a million other churches as well. They are also considered as "Fact" in spite of all "Facts" standing in evidence against them being in fact "Facts."

Yet, these "Facts," unlike the wishy-washy "facts" of the World, are all based on the very same Book they say is written by the very same God they purport to worship.


Is there something wrong with this picture?


Well, as long as no door falls off the Doctrine any one of us is following, the only way to find out if what we believe is in fact truth or fiction is to die. Does your church offer a Death insurance policy?


QUOTABLES


Doctrine and Opinion appear to be the only fields of intellectual endeavor where a broadspectrum, even opposites, demand respectful consideration in spite of all evidence against it.

Tumbleweed


Opinions are a dime a dozen. You get what you pay for.

Tumbleweed


You will never be right. No matter what opinion you hold it will be contradicted by those you express it to; even if that person has to state an opinion contrary to the position they themselves hold. The closest to appreciation you can hope for is: "Yes, but... ."

Tumbleweed


An off-hand remark is remembered longer and used to judge a person much harder than a well thought-out and rehearsed oratory.

Tumbleweed



QUOTES (From Wikiquote.com & Wisdomquotes.com)


An opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something.

"Opinions are like opposable thumbs, everybody has one... ...but, on the other hand..." Gregory Alan Elliott

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain, or freed a human soul. Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God." Mark Twain

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." John F. Kennedy

"I don't ask other men's opinions. I have my own." Charles Manson

"The point is not to take the world's opinion as a guiding star but to go one's way in life and working unerringly, neither depressed by failure nor seduced by applause." Gustav Mahler

"The only opinion that matters is one's own." Anonymous

"If I want your opinion, I will tell it to you." Anonymous

"Opinions should be formed with great caution, and changed with greater." H.W. Shaw

"Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago." Horace Mann

"He who has no opinion of his own, but depends upon the opinion and taste of others, is a slave." Klopstock

"To maintain an opinion because it is thine, and not because it is true, is to prefer thyself above the truth." Venning

"We should always keep a corner of our heads open and free, that we may make room for the opinions of our friends. Let us have heart and head hospitality." Joubert

"No liberal man would impute a charge of unsteadiness to another for having changed his opinion." Cicero

"Who observes not that the voice of the people, yea of that people that voiced themselves the people of God, did prosecute the God of all people, with one common voice, "He is worthy to die." I will not, therefore, ambitiously beg their voices for my preferment; nor weigh my worth in that uneven balance, in which a feather of opinion shall be moment enough to turn the scales and make a light piece go current, and a current piece seem light." Arthur Warwick

"It is not only arrogant, but it is profligate, for a man to disregard the world's opinion of himself." Cicero

"In the minds of most men, the kingdom of opinion is divided into three territories,--the territory of yes, the territory of no, and a broad, unexplored middle ground of doubt." James A. Garfield

"The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion." Lowell

"Public opinion, though often formed upon a wrong basis, yet generally has a strong underlying sense of justice." Abraham Lincoln

"People with opinions just go around bothering each other." Buddha

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Albert Camus

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher." Flannery O'Conner

"All human beings have an innate need to hear and tell stories and to have a story to live by ... religion, whatever else it has done, has provided one of the main ways of meeting this abiding need." Harvey Cox

"Yes there is a meaning; at least for me, there is one thing that matters - to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people." Logan Pearsall Smith

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." Lord Byron

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph." Mark Twain

"Put the argument into a concrete shape, into an image, some hard phrase, round and solid as a ball, which they can see and handle and carry home with them, and the cause is half won." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie." Stephen King

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense." Tom Clancy

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart..." William Wordsworth

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." Winston Churchill

"We should be careful and discriminating in all the advice we give. We should be especially careful in giving advice that we would not think of following ourselves. Most of all, we ought to avoid giving counsel which we don't follow when it damages those who take us at our word." Adlai Stevenson

"It is easy when we are in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted." Aeschylus

"Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it." Agatha Christie

"I shall tell you a great secret my friend. Do not wait for the last judgement, it takes place every day." Albert Camus

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer

"Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe." Alfonso the Wise (attributed)

"A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need the advice." Bill Cosby

"Advice is one of those things it is far more blessed to give than to receive." Carolyn Wells

"All the lessons of history in four sentences:
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.
The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.
The bee fertilizes the flower it robs.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." Charles A. Beard

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." Erica Jong

"He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other." Francis Bacon, sr.

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." G. K. Chesterton

"One's first step in wisdom is to question everything - and one's last is to come to terms with everything." Georg C. Lichtenberg

"Too bad that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair." George Burns

"Good things, when short, are twice as good." Gracián

"I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it." Harry S Truman

"He only profits from praise who values criticism." Heinrich Heine

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." Henri Nouwen

"Whatever advice you give, be brief." Horace

"A leader must have the courage to act against an expert's advice." James Callaghan

"If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves." Lillian Hellman

"When women are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do; then they act upon it, and if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it; if it fails, they generously give her the whole." Louisa May Alcott

"If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it." Marcus Aurelius

"Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved." Margaret Fuller

"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." Mark Twain

"Never play cards with any man named "Doc." Never eat at any place called "Mom's." And never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own." Nelson Algren

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself." Oscar Wilde

"Bitter are the tears of a child: Sweeten them.
Deep are the thoughts of a child: Quiet them.
Sharp is the grief of a child: Take it from him.
Soft is the heart of a child: Do not harden it." Pamela Glenconner

"Do-so" is more important than "say-so." Pete Seeger

"He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good." Rabindranath Tagore

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them." Ralph Waldo Emerson (probably erroneously):

"It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failures. Precept, study, advice, and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done." Samuel Smiles

"If better were within, better would come out." Thomas Fuller

A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life:
1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which never have happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred. Thomas Jefferson

"Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it." W. Somerset Maugham

"Take it easy -- but take it." Woody Guthrie

"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." --John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." --John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).

"To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the worse for being common." --John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).


FROM THE BIBLE

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6And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you mine opinion. 7I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. 8But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. 9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. 10Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will show mine opinion. 11Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say. 12Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words: 13Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man. 14Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.

15They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking. 16When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;) 17I said, I will answer also my part, I also will show mine opinion. 18For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. 19Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. 20I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer. 21Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away. (Job 32:)


21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. (1Kings 18:)


7There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
8The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
9The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
10Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. (Prov 13:)


15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Rev 3:)



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