Category Archives: popular culture

Prophecies fulfilled, others set in motion, at Jesus’ birth

Christmas gift box icon on old paper background and pattern
A slightly altered version of a saying floating around the internet.

Christmas is such a secular holiday anymore that a person is made to feel like they’re offending someone if they unselfishly wish someone a “merry Christmas.”  Instead, it’s all about having “happy holidays” or enjoying “the season” (my Christmas cards for this year say that . . . but what “season”?  Winter?  The season of blessing retailers with books in the black?).  It’s gotten so strange that some claim that you don’t need Christ in Christmas.  That makes sense . . . nowhere.  I’m surprised that calling it simply “the giving season” hasn’t caught on, akin to the calling of Thanksgiving “turkey day.”

I’m not complaining so much as noting the secular trend, in full swing now, to eliminate Christianity from public life.  Christmas, however, gives us the opportunity to enlighten people about God’s word, possibly more than any other holiday.  When it comes to Easter, people need to accept the New Testament witness regarding Christ’s resurrection.  With Christ’s birth, however, there are prophecies from the Old Testament (or Tanakh) that are pretty clear, and, there is no good reason to think the prophecies weren’t written centuries before Jesus was born.  These prophecies are from the books of Isaiah and Micah.

First, and no doubt very familiar, is Isaiah 7:14.  With verse 13 for context:  “Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.'”  This prophecy is announced as fulfilled in Matthew 1:22-23.  Here it is in context (Matthew 1:20b-23):

“an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).”

Some critics like to point out that the word “virgin” is not specifically used in Isaiah, but, in the historical and cultural context, a young unmarried woman (a translation of the word used) meant the same thing as “virgin.”  It’s an odd criticism in any case, since, what else would God have meant?  Would an unchaste girl getting pregnant be any kind of sign from God?

Another criticism, and one without merit, is that the book of Isaiah may have been altered later.  There is no end to such criticisms of the Bible generally.  However, Isaiah is consistently viewed as ancient by scholars, even if some moderns like to imagine that it was written by two or three authors during three periods (the youngest being from about 400 BC).  More importantly, the birth prophecy is in the early part of the book, universally believed to be written in the 700s by Isaiah.  Regarding complete authenticity of the writings, a confirmation came via a Dead Sea Scroll of the entire book of Isaiah.  This scroll is from about 150-125 BC.  Having confidence in the authenticity and the ancientness of Isaiah, we can enjoy the related prophecies in Isaiah 9 (1b-2, 6-7):

“. . . in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful[,] Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.”

There is another prophecy, from Micah 5 (2 & 4), that is quoted in Matthew and is therefore considered fulfilled.  As written in Matthew 2:6:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”

The book of Micah was written about the same time as Isaiah was.  There are more prophecies regarding Jesus Christ, of course, some fulfilled and some yet to be.  You can view some of them in a linked list at Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled.

Wishing you a warm and love-filled Christmas, I also leave you with a couple of songs for you to enjoy:

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear  (simple and traditional; Bruce Crockburn)

Oh Holy Night (Josh Groban)

Sources:  (1)  NIV Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan 2005), pp 1055, 1115, 1477.   (2) Rational Steps to Belief in Christ

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Warning! Labels, menus, and other ESL hilarity

Maybe you don’t buy many products that are made overseas so you don’t know the delights of “English as a second language” labeling.  But for me, I love reading them to see what unintentional humor crops up.  It’s like watching Jay Leno’s “Headlines,” but without having to stay up so late.

For instance, I received a Hello Kitty travel mug recently for my birthday, and this was on the warning label:  “WARNING!  After filling hot liquid into the mug, please avoid to cover the lid immediately and avoid to shake the mug in order to prevent hot liquid spitting out via the drink hole.”  The other side of the label, providing tips for use, was written better, although it had the same silly warnings that so many products seem to need these days (“Do not microwave . . . do not carry mug into bag when its filled with liquid . . . Always check to make sure your lid is secured before drinking . . . “).

There’s a site where you can read all kinds of “English as a second language” labels, signs, menus, writing on clothing, etc., that people submit.  It is always fun, and I often find things that made me laugh harder than I had in a week or so.  It’s Engrish.com.  Here are some examples – enjoy!

german-type-sexual-harassment10054-Slip-And-Fall_largebeware-of-missing-footbacteria-pot-monstersvirtual-boringgod-jesus japan robot toyGod-Jesus robot toy sold in Japan in the 1980s.  The toy gave a yes or no answer to any of your questions!  So, while Jesus isn’t given a bad name, it seems like our God is viewed as some kind of psychic talisman . . .

Breaking Bad season 5: Did anyone else want to throw the TV out?

Update:  At the time that I wrote this I wasn’t aware that “Season 5” was broken up into two parts and that the next “season” wasn’t going to be “6.”  So the post below is about the first half of Season 5.  I did end up watching the second half, late again, on Netflix.  Those episodes were hard to watch, but I wanted to see if Walter would redeem himself in any way.  After much beyond believable behavior on his part, he finally did admit to himself – and to his wife before he died – that he didn’t do all the nasty stuff he did for the family (it really took him a long time to admit the obvious), but because he liked the power.  I may watch it again so that I can write a fuller post on sin and how people handle it, or don’t, in this popular show and how it reflects Christian belief on these subjects, but for now, enjoy the original essay (and thanks for dropping by!).

I wonder how many Christians watched “Breaking Bad,” the show about a high school chemistry teacher turned evil meth mastermind.  I hadn’t wanted to watch it until recently, but that was because I had a mistaken view of what the original story was; we also because don’t watch much TV.   My son wanted to see what it was all  about, however, since it’s so popular, and we ended up watching up to season 5 recently on Netflix.  (This is an adult show, so yeah, we fast forwarded over a few parts – something my son was very glad to do!)

If you’ve watched it, you know that the teacher, Walt, gets lung cancer and his family, even with insurance, can’t pay for all the treatments and surgery (that alone, if I recall correctly, was $120,000).  He originally thought of just letting himself die, but his family didn’t want that, of course.  So, since he knew chemistry, he decided to make money at making meth.  He wanted to make enough to pay for the family’s bills and put enough in savings for his kids to go to college – before he died.  He had good intentions, at least during the first season (and what he’s doing is not any different than what the tobacco industry gets away with legally, when it comes down to it).  However, the treatments went unusually well and Walt’s cancer went into remission.  Things went downhill from there.

I very much like the message of the first season.  It’s something like this comic:

522f5029aa919But after season 1, Walt gets more and more prideful until by the end of season 5, he murders a man easy as pie, where there is no reason to (and this man was a trusted associate).  At this point in the show Walt is 51 yeas old, and only about a year and a half has taken place since the beginning of season 1.  He is no longer the same person he was, by any stretch of the imagination.  People can and do become corrupt, but the only way that it can happen at that speed and level, is by becoming demon possessed.  So what I’m saying is that, *gasp*, the show is just bad.

The bad writing and weird decision-making by the characters started in season 2, so it makes me think the makers of this show didn’t have a good long-term vision for it.  To try and make us believe that all the violence and stupidity in the show is due to Walt not being able to get proper health care is just silly.  I do think they could’ve stayed on track with that original idea and come up with a more realistic, quirkier, and interesting show than what “Breaking Bad” became.

After season 1, it simply became a gangster soap opera.  There are tidbits in it about the possibility of God, and how people change and become bad, but that’s all they are – tidbits.  Besides that, Hank, Walt’s DEA brother-in-law (the good guys, right?), is an extremely obsessive legalist type who is about as equally disturbing as Walt!  In any case, I kept watching the show because I was invested in it and I simply wanted to see what happened next, but, after season 5, I truly don’t care what happens to Walt anymore.  I wish he hadn’t left a trail of bodies (or . . . barrels of acid) everywhere and made the lives of  those who happen to be still alive so miserable.

Hate Speech in Anti-Christian Rants from the “Educated”

Anti-Christian graffiti.
Anti-Christian graffiti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the anti-Christian rhetoric is heating up even more.  I don’t actually see it as much as I could.  I mean, I get told by others what they have read and what they experience in school in this regard, so it’s even worse than I know, apparently.  But click on the link in the sources area for a video of a professor’s talk summarizing his study of anti-Christian bias in academia – you’ll feel like you need to take a shower after hearing what many so-called educated and tolerant people say about Christians.

It never ceases to amaze me (to use that over-used phrase) how so many people on the internet criticize “Christians” with knowing virtually nothing about them.  I can claim that since it’s really very obvious from what these vitriolic critics write (or say) that they don’t know the Bible at all (nor history) and they don’t know all the unselfish and kind-hearted Christians that actually exist out in the real world.  They don’t have a mind-set that says, “Let’s make sure I know what I’m talking about, let’s make sure I’ve looked at the various sides of this issue in a fair and serious way.”  There is a whole lot of idealistic hate speech going on out there aimed at Christians.

I write this because I just came across this article: The Shameful Republican Criminalization of the American Dream.  You can’t get from the title that it’s anit-Christian, but these are the first lines:  “The idea of punishing children for “sins of the father” is deeply rooted in four places in the Christian bible, but like many concepts in that archaic rule book . . .”  Really???  I don’t know how writers like this get published, but then maybe that web site is like a blog or something.

One, how can, all of a sudden, “Republican” be equated with “Christian”?  I am very fed up with Republicans (I’m an independent voter), and I’m a Christian, yet somehow I’m just lumped in this writer’s kindergartenesque stereotype.  And, from what I read in the main stream media, many Catholics are activists for the liberal immigration cause (for lack of a better way of putting it).  How has the writer missed that?  This writer is just like the Muslims who say that America is a Christian nation, and therefore all actions our government does reflect the Christian faith.  (LOL.)

Two, just as a note, there are a whole lot of people – myself included – that have found the “American Dream” to be very elusive.  Doesn’t matter when you came here, or if you were born here – in fact, I’ve met many immigrants who are wealthy.

Three, Christians think (and the Bible conveys) the complete opposite of what the author is claiming about sin.  Sin is individual and children are not spiritually punished by God for the sins of their parents or other ancestors (God does tell us that there are consequences for some held-on sin, however).  We must all confess and repent of our own sins, and our attitude and actions regarding those will lead to salvation, or no (whether we believe we sin or not will of course guide us in acknowledging the need for a savior, or no).  It’s just such a bizarre claim.  Have you witnessed in our country, coming from Republicans or anyone else, the jailing of kids for things their parents did wrong?

Continuing with number three, the reader can take a look at a number of online articles on the subject of sin not being inherited, as provided in the Bible.  One is:   Are Children Responsible for the Sins of Parents?  Here are some summaries with additional information.

Is Anti-Christian Bias in Academia Creating a Christian-Bashing Culture? (patheos.com)

“Should Children Be Punished for Their Parents’ Sins?,” in Hard Sayings of the Bible (p 177-179).

Dragonborn DLC Playability and the Skaal Religion

Statue of Talos in Whiterun, with Shrine in front, Dragonsreach to left, giant Eagle in middle, and old Companion's home to right.
Statue of Talos in Whiterun, with Shrine in front, Dragonsreach to left, giant Eagle in middle, and old Companion’s home to right.

I wrote about this dlc already (at dragonborn dlc wordpress)  but wanted to convey some more information about the Skaal’s religious views, and generally about the playability of the new dlc content.  So basically this is an addendum to the linked article; please see it if you would like more coverage of the Dragonborn dlc.

Dragonborn DLC playability.  First. when we got the DLC I was playing a game where I had a high level character, over 60, and I was getting close to wrapping all the quests up.  Playing at this level in Solstheim is relatively easy.  Only Karstaag was a difficult opponent (surprising battle, that was!).  But, beginning a new game and going through it so far – I’m now level 11 and had gone back to Solstheim after first going there at level 6 – I can say Solstheim is not a place you’ll get through easily for a while.  Of course, the game level setting can be adjusted to its lowest level, but I’m going to bet that fighting off random lurkers will prove pretty impossible for a low level character.  I wanted very much to make it to Neloth and so I swam there.  The only real problem I had was when my companion, Lydia, wouldn’t just swim along and ignore a Lurker.  *People ask when “the quest” starts with the DLC.  There are various quests, but the main quest with Miraak will activate after you go and see the Greybeards for the first time.  A couple of his cultists will meet you somewhere and attack you.

The Skaal and their religions views.  The Skaal are most interesting, as their visiting researcher (like an anthropologist amongst a far away and dying tribe) frequently points out.  Unlike the majority of Nords, they believe in an All-Maker god and not in the pantheon of deities.  If you never read the book, Children of the All-Maker, or don’t talk to Frea after the main quest is over, you would very much think that the Skaal believe in a Judaic type of God.  They talk or write of going to be with the All-Maker after they die, and seeing others that have passed on there too. They also allude to spirtual consequences that are Western, not Eastern (there is the call of the All-Maker, and ignoring it has consequences).

YET, oddly, the two sources I mentioned say they believe in reincarnation, even for humans.  So, it doesn’t make much sense (you can’t be with the All-Maker visiting relatives while also being another person on earth).  Interestingly, there are real-world people groups in Asia that, when found by missionaries in the past, have shown that they believe in God and even had premonitions of Christ.  But this is not what is happening with the Skaal.  I would give Bethesda some credit for actually taking apparent early Norse belief in reincarnation and adding it into the game (as evidenced in the real-world Norse Poetic Edda).  However, having the religious leader (“shaman”) pray in an Eastern religious fashion takes away from this seeming historical reference.

* Added to post on December 29, 2012,

 

Funniest or Weirdest Searches to My Blog in 2012

The dark side of Hello Kitty?  (Author photo)
The dark side of Hello Kitty? (Author photo)

I don’t know about you, but one of my little enjoyable pastimes is to read the searches that have led people to my blog.  Most are pretty straightforward and it’s obvious why the person decided to check one of my posts out.  Others are just unexpected and funny, and still others seem too general or off-the-subject; of the latter, I’m glad the person visited.  I wish very much that these people (anyone who visits here, really) would leave comments or questions – that would be fun!

“the samarathon woman”  She probably was in good enough shape to run a marathon after constantly lugging around jugs full of water in the middle of hot desert days.

“stormcloak officer armor revealing”  Really?!

“adam lanza christian fanatic”  Why not “adam lanza muslim fanatic”?  Just wondering . . .

“christian poem on the tongue”  (No comment . . . ha ha, perhaps they’re referring to James chapter 3, which has some very harsh words regarding the use of our tongue in conveying lies, evil and hurt.)

“butter my heart three person’d god”  This has made me laugh out loud more than once.  Of course, it’s supposed to be “batter” my heart, not butter my heart . . . makes me feel like a turkey being prepared for God’s oven.

“hellokitty skyrim”  I wonder what they’re looking for?  Knowing Sanrio, they’re working to contract something with Bethesda, surely.

“skyrim 1800s”  ?!??!  Seriously?

“evil bible king’s famous instrument for telling time”  If anyone can explain this one to me, I’d be grateful.

“can christians play skyrim” (“skyrim seems like a bad game for christians”)  CAN they?  Do they need permission from some pastor?  You know what’s bad for Christians?  Living in this world with so much evil in it!  I’m not questioning God’s motive for having us live in this world, I’m only making a point.  Skyrim is a game, and by today’s standards, a quite clean one that actually enjoys playing around with religious ideas and culture, and the complexities of people and politics.

“how women should play skyrim”  =D  Well, they could ask . . .

“god is evil quotes”  Just weird and sad; glad they stopped by, though.  But then again, maybe they were simply doing some research.

“what do christians think of hello kitty story”  Is there a story?  If I knew the story, I could form an opinion.  As far as I know, Hello Kitty is simply a very successful product venture.  There are some unsavory HK products out there, but if some people want to abuse the cute feline, that’s their business.

“short intellectual quotes”  Out of all the pages the searcher must have gotten from this search, I’m surprised they found my page url . . . and actually stopped by.

“religious poems for dads that died”  I know it’s perhaps morbid to call out this one, but it still made me laugh a bit.  How can you give a poem to a dead person?  Did they want poems about dads that died, or a poem for the children whose dads died?  My dad died when I was young and it was completely devastating; I never thought of writing any type of poem about it.

“unthink christmas card”  Not sure about this one . . . but please, don’t unthink Christmas, unless it’s the commercial aspect of today’s holiday.

There’s a search that, even though it’s from more than a year ago, I still remember and consider the oddest one to lead someone to my blog (my old blog, which DID have a recipe for a great sandwich on it), so I just wanted to share it, though it’s adult material (sort of!):  “Is there a good sandwich that can make up for bad sex?”  Well, a pile of McDonald’s fish filets (with some fries on the side) just might do it for me.

Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC, a Christian’s View

Seeker from Bethesda
A Seeker in Apocrypha. Copyright, Bethesda.

The “Dragonborn” addition to the Skyrim video game, which came out earlier this month (December 2012) for XBOX, has – I think – the most “Christian” oriented content overall (in Skyrim, not the other Elder Scroll games).  I wish I had written down certain dialog as I played it with my high-level character, but I simply wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to takes notes on!  (If I start a new game, it will be some time before I can get to those dialogs again – for now, this commentary without quotes will have to do.)

This latest DLC adds additional land mass via a large island known in the Elder Scroll series as Solstheim.  (Update of Dec. 24:  it appears to be playable from the beginning of a new game, as I went to Soltstheim at level 6, after I fought my first dragon and made my way to Windhelm).  It is no doubt loved by Elder Scroll fans since it brings in elements from Morrowind (the home of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves), and indeed, the flavor of the place is quite a bit different from Skyrim (the home of the Nords).  There are various quests to be found and accomplished, but the main quest involves the defeat of the first dragonborn, Miraak, who still exists after ages because of his service to Hermeus Mora, the powerful spirit being of knowledge and fate.  Miraak desired power and thus made a “pact with the devil” – a safe allusion to Mora and his top minion.   The DLC takes place when Miraak has used his powers to enslave the sleeping minds and bodies of the denizens of Solstheim, whom he is using to build a temple to himself.  Miraak has only a small amount of dialog, but that small amount sounds an awful lot like satanic desires and promises.  In addition, he has his hypnotized followers say things that are a copy, and thus a sick mockery, of true spiritual expression.

What’s interesting, from a Christian-in-the-current-world point of view, is that Hermeus Mora’s realm is called Apocrypha.  (“Apocrypha” are extra-biblical writings of various qualities some are legitimate but have some textual or factual issues, while others are outright forgeries with false “witness”).  It is dark and hazy and is made up of books (literally – the walls are made of books), and all underneath and around walkable areas is a very black sea.  This “sea” has black slithery arms coming out of it all of the time, and they will whip you and hurt you if they can.  The most dangerous creatures that stalk the place look very much akin to the old “creature from the black lagoon.”  The other dangerous creatures are “seekers,” whose hideous appearance includes a lamprey-like mouth where their stomach is.  These seekers of “knowledge” are never satisfied, but devour what their gut desires and not what their heart and mind discerns as true.  This is my take on them, anyway, which I see as the problem with seeking and using secret – usually false – knowledge, and which is the point of this dark and eery place.

When it comes to Christianity, God chose to communicate with man and it was His desire to be known and understood.  Those who purport to have “secret” knowledge of Him in order to steer someone away from God’s revelation, are not working within God’s desires for mankind.

On the other side of the coin are the Skaal of Solstheim.  They are Nords of the ancient way and claim to have been given Solstheim by the All-Maker.  They believe in one creator God, and the way they talk about creation and how we are to be in it, generally fits in with the Judeo-Christian biblical message.  You can have an interesting conversation with Wulf Wild-Blood of the Skaal, who asks you if you can find his run-away brother whom he believes turned into a werebear (like a werewolf, only a bear).  His brother could go down that path only be rejecting the call of the All-Maker.  While the Skaal have beliefs that mesh with scriptures, they have others that do not – they believe in reincarnation.  Conversations with fellow Skyrim players  about how reincarnation doesn’t at all mesh with a loving creator God, and how it is wholly incompatible with Christ’s message and work, is a possible real-world benefit of playing this game.*

If, as a Christian, you will only play games that have pure Christian messages and signs, then Skyrim and Dragonborn aren’t for you.  But if you want to play a game that actually gives a nod to God and certain Judeo-Christian beliefs and virtues in today’s world, then Skyrim is an OK game for that.  I wrote about Skyrim earlier, here.  That review by no means covers all the aspects of Skyrim.  There are things about the game I don’t like and scratch my head at, wondering about the game maker (Bethesda) every time I think of them (there are aspects of the game you can only play if you decide to do bad and dishonorable things).

Hopefully I’ll be able to flush this review out in the future, with quotes and such.  In the meantime, enjoy the Dragonborn and listen to the new leader of the Skaal:  do not follow Hermeus Mora, but follow the path laid out for you (and to the Skaal, this would be by the All-Maker).

* These last two sentences were edited in after the initial posting of this review (12-20-12).

A post that updates, or adds to, this post can be found at Dragonborn DLC Playability and the Skaal Religion.   Thanks!

“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother:” Finally, great article (with link and comment)

‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America.

Yes, so glad to see some perspective on this and past violence by those with mental challenges.  US – please lets wake up and get these people some care BEFORE they kill people and end up in prison.  It’s SO absurd that families and communities are having to deal with this alone, and even sacrifice their very lives.

Open Comment to US Representatives Regarding Gun Control

I’m not a member of the NRA, the Republican party, or any such so-called group of nutty control freaks.  I do, however, want my right to own a firearm preserved.  I deserve the right to protect myself and those around me from others who threaten or attack with a firearm.  And making them illegal will not stop violent people from having them.  Nor will it stop nutty violent people from killing others.  Men in China have slaughtered children in schools with knives . . . bombs are apparently easy to make . . . .   People who are bent on killing others will find a way to do so.  The problem is partly or mostly a social-cultural one (the rest is a problem of individual psychiatric imbalance) (as a Christian, I believe in the forces of evil, but this is not a post to get into how that ties in here).

Our culture promotes aggression and greed – selfish behavior.  It’s all about self and money.  Do things YOURSELF, do it ALL YOURSELF.  Also, we are into letting people do things all by and of THEMSELVES, so we don’t do anything about crazy people.  We just leave them be until they go totally nuts and kill people.  The guns the shooter used in Newton were and are inanimate objects.  They are dangerous, to be sure, but not evil in themselves.  It was the shooter’s evil that caused the deaths of all those innocent people.

When are we going to start being a more community-oriented country, instead of one where everyone has to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (even if they have some bad disease or ailment)?  Where so many people can’t pull themselves up, anyway, because there are fewer and fewer full-time jobs, and most things are more expensive while we make less, and where executives and do-nothing investors keep making more money while we make less?  It is kind-of amazing to me that more protesting, rioting, and violence hasn’t occurred.  Keep people too tired, worried, but also entertained with sports and games, and not too much happens . . .

Anyway, I have the right to defend myself, and many persons with firearms in this country have indeed stopped violent attackers from harming themselves or others.  When shootings like Newton occur, it’s so awful and tragic that people have a knee-jerk reaction to gun ownership.  Maybe there’s a way to make it harder for unstable people to use or acquire guns, and I would be for that.  In the case of the Lanza’s, would any new regulations have helped?  There is not enough known yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, I have my doubts.  We need to be more proactive, as people and a nation, in addressing the needs of those with mental health issues in our communities.  Quit ignoring THAT, and maybe we’ll all be a bit safer (yes, it’s OK to butt into other people’s business if it means saving lives).  More so than if you take away good folks’ defense against armed criminals and deranged folks.

We need to be more community-oriented, period, which means being more socially loving and showing concern for our neighbors.

(Imagine the change in this country if corporations actually started acting this way . . . we need to start fixing our cold, aggressive, greedy, selfish hearts, rather than taking people’s rights away.)

[A little bit of food for thought:  Obama sheds fake tears]

A PS:  Is anyone else seriously tired of all the conflicting “news” in the news (like, the shooters mom worked at the school, but now she doesn’t, and no other info is given?  Or that his dad was found dead, but then he wasn’t?)?  All day I’ve been checking back to see what the motive of the killer was, since early on it was reported that investigators had good evidence for the motive.  But now, I’m seeing new articles (like in the Huffington Post), that say they don’t know the motive . . .  So tired of US media and whatever goes on with censoring.  If you want to know some more detailed news, or any news at all, check out foreign sources.

A PSS:  “The victims of the shooting were shot multiple times by a rifle, a medical examiner said Saturday . . .”  Yet no rifle was found in the school; Lanza killed himself (apparently) in the school at the time police arrived – he didn’t run back to the car, dump a rifle, and then go back in and kill himself.  Quote (not my commentary) from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/16/at-least-26-dead-in-shooting-at-connecticut-school/#ixzz2FF4cyFTf

Gun Control at Just the Facts

America the Greedy: Homes on Land-lease land

In Anaheim one day.

Hello everyone – how are you all doing?  It’s been an unusually long time since I made a blog post, but looking for mortgages (loan shopping), looking for properties, taking cars into shops and looking for a new car, etc., surely takes one time up!  Since I’ve been in this mode and have learned some new things, I thought I’d pass a little of my new-found knowledge along.

So we are low-income (and recently lost some monthly income) and our rent went up.   But we have some funds to use for a down-payment, so it’s time to buy a condo if we can find one.  Why?  Where we live, it costs less per month to pay a low-end mortgage and homeowner’s association fees (HOA), than it is to rent.  Seems silly, huh?

Leaving the vagaries of renting vs paying a mortgage aside, there’s this thing that exists in our country called a land-lease (not all states allow this for condos/houses, apparently, and for good reason).  I have read a number of realtor’s comments and articles on this and this is what I have to say:  don’t buy into the idea that there are good reasons to buy a condo or house on leased land.  Buying a manufactured home in a mobile home park MAY be worth it, but I’m not talking about mobile homes.

Ok, so this came as a shock to me that you could BUY a condo on land you don’t own.   The lease tends to be a lot, and they also have high HOAs.  So how, possibly, could this help anyone but the leaseholder?  But wait, you might say.  What if you buy the home and the lease is finally paid up – don’t you own it all then?  That would make sense, right?  And it would make up, maybe, for paying the lease for all that time (up to 99 years, I’ve seen).  But NO, you BUY a condo, but when the lease is up it’s NOT YOURS.  This is what I’ve read; this is my understanding.  If you buy a condo or home on leased land and you want to sell and get your money back from the investment you made in the property, you might be dreaming.  If the lease is almost up, no one in his/her right mind is going to spend their good money on a home that will be “theirs” for only few years!

I saw a condo here recently that was very attractive, very cute, in a nice area (it only had one parking spot, however).  They were asking a fairly low price for the condo itself ($139K), but the lease was around $3,300 annually right now (this is actually a low lease), with scheduled increases to $6,814 annually by 2031.  The HOA was a very high $584 per month.  Another listing didn’t provide either the lease cost or the HOA.  Ok, another is one of those deals where the listing agent sucks in unwary people:  a nice condo listed for a ridiculously low price (about 25% of comparable ones in the area), with a bit higher than average HOA, and NO mention of it being a land-lease.

Finally, one in the city where I live.  An OK looking condo for not all that cheap of a price (in a perhaps an OK area, but not a great area), with $412 HOA and no lease price provided.  Let’s say you were able to put down 20% on a mortgage for this place (but good luck with even finding a bank to give you a mortgage for this type of property).  The monthly payments would be about $780 per month.  Property tax would be minimal.  There’s the $412 HOA, and the lease is . . . what?  Just for the heck of it, let’s provide a lease that is kind-of average for a mobile home lease in the region: $1,000 per month.  That would leave you paying $2192 per month for you basic housing needs.

We’re looking to buy a small regular condo and our monthly costs will be between about $1,025 and $1,420, and that includes property tax.  So how does the land-lease option help lower income people, or help to save on monthly costs?  It doesn’t; it only helps the landowner.  And you will not gain equity in that home.  You will be lucky if you get the same amount back for it as you paid.  This is what I’ve read from real estate agents and others.  One good side to owning, some people try to suggest, is that the place will be better maintained and generally nicer than a cheaper condo or apartment, so it’s better for families.  Well.  I say don’t throw away your hard-earned cash and be patient, do some more searching, etc.  (Build good credit; it’s kind-of astonishing how much of a difference one-half of one percent makes on your monthly payment.)  Save that money for your kids’ college education and don’t just throw it at some land-owner who’s sitting back making all kinds of cash off you for simply roosting on his land.