Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 'Good,' the 'Bad,' and the 'Useless'

From a discussion with some radical unschoolers and pertaining to principles of 'moral relativity' and 'moral pluralism' expressed in child-rearing, and why I don't have any 'good boy's or 'good job's or 'bad' behaviour in my home (and am still neither a moral relativist nor a moral pluralist), I give you this...


I wanted to share that while I don't have an aversion to the use of the words 'good' and 'bad' in regular parlance, when I began a study of nonviolent communication, I realised that I had personal baggage relating to those words. I do have a strong moral compass, though, so navigating my language and thoughts to incorporate my values and also honour the intentions of others while still having the freedom to evaluate- well, that was a task!

What I did discover about myself is that while I am innately a creative person, I was very uncreative in the way I was viewing and expressing my evaluations. It also became clear to me that this limitation was not very helpful to my children when they were trying to solve difficulties and communicate with me and others. So, I eliminated 'good' and 'bad,' and forced myself to use more accurate words to describe my evaluations. Instead of 'bad' I used 'harmful,' 'injurious,' and also completely reframed of my view of behaviour that included much more observation, validation, and exploration of potential options- behaviours to try, empathy/sympathy with intention, etc....

Through having done this, I became more selective about what adheres to/contravenes a code of morality. In my opinion, there are very few actions that can be evaluated within a moral code- at least the one I understand. Most actions are derived of preference. I think that intention must accompany any act that directly contravenes what is moral; for instance, killing a man could be either moral or immoral depending on the intention of the one killing. I have a moral impetus to defend my children, and if that necessitated killing, I would do it and fit within the precepts of what I think is moral- even though if my intention was malicious, killing would most certainly be immoral. With this sort of thinking, it becomes much easier for *me* to evaluate what others are expressing through their actions and words, and to communicate in ways that are much clearer to everyone.

I would not do away with morality as though it were simply a matter of personal value; but I am still much more selective about what-fits-where now than I was previously. That, and it has been very freeing for me to not hold others hostage to my preferences.

It is also interesting to me how personality plays so much into how this process unfolds. I am INTJ with developed feeling (I'll spare you the unfortunate circumstances that necessitated this albeit valuable trait), and strong tendency toward extraverted judgment. My natural tendency to evaluate and 'judge' the validity of everything outside myself was crippling me and my relationships. It was necessary for me to learn the appropriate application of morality vs. preference in order for me to grow and mature, and necessary for me to take a hard line with myself (via self-evaluation, beyond my extraverted judgment) to enact the essential habit reformation.

Ds1 is like me, and has needed the same training, although in a very different way since with the knowledge I have acquired, I can make the environment so much gentler than I had as a child, and within which I had to enforce my new-found values, and he learns without shame. Ds2 and ds3 seem to need none of this because it comes to them naturally and they just tend to view themselves and others with compassion and willingness to observe (rather than judge) and participate when they feel inclined; ds2 is also an amazing 'judge' of character. Ds3 will probably need the most guidance with choosing friends because he is so willing and trusting; he'd probably believe someone who told him to come and that they wouldn't hurt him.

The interesting thing is that I don't think that I'll use the words 'good' and 'bad' to help ds3 with this since they are so vague as to not really be of use except in casual (or philosophical, lol) conversation. Certainly the concepts of what is ultimately 'good' and what is ultimately not must be clearly delineated, though, and maybe my vocabulary will end up being more graphic, and potentially more concerning than the use of such vague terms as 'good and 'bad' might be to some. Maybe I miss out on the 'short-hand' effect of those words and expose myself, or lose some, but in any case, in my commitment to change my communicative habit, I also committed to attempting to build-in understanding between people through creative vocabulary where not doing so would have rendered the point of communication useless, imo.



So Suneal, ask me how I am today, lol!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mucho Mullah for Mister Dollar

Kenneth Copeland, leader of Christian ├╝ber-capitalists everywhere, has spawned a generation of prosperity preachers. Among them, Creflo Dollar, a boistrous preacher that vaunts such heresies as

"Man is equal to God in every respect. Or, in the words of Copeland, 'You don't have a God in you! You are one!'"

Or, for Gnostics everywhere, Creflo opines,

"Jesus was not the son of God, he was a man empowered by God to be just like God, and everyone who knows this can do the same thing."

And just to reinforce the salacious savvy of Creflo's dollar avarice,

"Any Christian who believes in poverty is outside God's will."

Wow! Hot damn, those are zingers, aren't they?! Mmm-hmm. Always nice to know that God really isn't who He said He is, and that we can step-up and not only have God in us, but be God, too. And then, we can demand of ourselves that we will not accept a divine Christ, but instead, will just go after the same empowerment that Christ had and become 'just like God' (oddly, that sounds quite a lot like the original temptation, doesn't it?). At the same time, we can just add a little venemous contradiction into the mix and be outside our own wills (remember, we're God, according to Copeland and his ilk) because we might just believe in poverty.

Oh, God! the stupidity... Hey, did I just lament to myself when I wrote that?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Am I A Moral Relativist?

I'm not sure that asking if a person is a moral relativist is really a relevant question, honestly. Unless a person is a sociopath, how is being relativist really going to make a lick of difference in the way you live? I'm willing to bet most people want the same basic needs met: food, water, shelter, and the means to make those things happen. So, since morals address actual needs and how they're met, relativism mostly applies to projected situations: what would you do if?

Exceptions might include a philosophical commitment to a certain ideal; e.g., deontology vs. utilitarianism. Or perhaps adopting a religion like Christianity, or Judaism. Even then, however, the moral systems incumbant on most of the world's philosophies and religions come down to meeting the same basic needs and how one does that; and most of them also suggest in one way or another that it is an absolute ought to consider the welfare of the people and places around you.

So, while a person may consider themselves a moral relativist, the term only aides in describing that a person may have a different philosophical commitment about how to meet essential needs (a strategy). In all practicality, however, refusing to meet those needs, regardless of philosophical/religious/a-religious commitments simply makes a person immoral, and not a relativist. Hence what is absolute is that it is incumbant on all of us to be moral; what is relative is how we go about doing that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mark Driscoll: Sissy-Boys and Kicking Ass

Sigh. The burning stupid.

Rebuke: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23, English Standard Version).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rotten Tummaydaz

I hate seeing all those pasteurised, vinegar and sodium benzoate and other icky things- filled jars of 'preserves' all lined up row upon row in the grocery store. In fact I find being in the grocery store so upsetting that I really need to find somewhere else to buy food. Or barter; I'd prefer that. Anyway, it occurs to me that most people think that those preserves are fine, if not a bit too heavy on the salt. Without going into a defense of salt, I thought I'd share what I do to preserve veggies that leaves their enzymes and vitamins intact, and nourishes your body better than if they had been eaten raw or cooked.

This is adapted from a letter I sent to a woman who wanted to understand how to begin this process:

I'll briefly explain fermentation so that with this information, you can ferment anything. I'm feeling cheerful because I am right now enjoying the best batch of fermented broccoli I've ever had. We've moved north of 60* in Canada, and my ferments are so much better. I don't know if it's the quality of vegetables or the climate that has made the difference; it's probably both.

The active microbes in the fermentation process are called lactobacilli, which is why it is called lacto-fermentation. Lactobacilli (l-b) cover the surface of all living things, and you can even see them as a thin white film on the stalks of broccoli and on cabbage. This is the reason for only rinsing and not scrubbing foods that you want to ferment; if you scrub them (l-b) off the surface, you'll have to rely on wild yeast to ferment, which is doable, but depending on what you're fermenting, can just make alcohol instead of sour and crunchy veggies.

*Wild yeast will ferment flour for bread-making, which is better than store-bought yeast. This is called 'natural leaven.'*

So, rinse the veggies, do not scrub, or peel for the same reason as above, cut into bite-sized pieces, and pack tightly into a jar. I cut broccoli stems in slices about 1/2 centimetre thick and if I ferment the florets, I cut them in pieces that our dc can just pop into their mouths. For a 1 litre jar, I add two cloves of garlic cut once or twice and about 1.5-2 tablespoons of very coarse unrefined sea salt. I don't know how that would translate to a finer salt; 2 TBSP of fine salt might be too much.

The salt is in for flavour, minerals, and also to keep the food from spoiling while the lactobacilli grow and reproduce in the anaerobic (no oxygen) environment, at which point, the salt isn't needed to preserve, but it's already in there and it tastes very good. If you use too much salt, you can use the fermented veggies as an additive to salads and then use the leftover salt/l-b brine for the next batch; this batch will ferment faster and will not require more salt because the brine will be full of lactobacilli and you'll see that because it will look cloudy-white.

I use two-piece lids and leave them loose or the jars might explode. With the lid just placed on top, the gases can escape while no/very little new oxygen is introduced to the jar. Some say to put the lid on tight, but if the fermentation is happening fast, you might end up with either a broken jar in the morning, or when you open the lid to let out gases (which you would absolutely have to do with a tight lid), it may explode out like champagne (I've had this happen- sauerkraut garlic juice all over- not nice).

Then I wait. I might check the top if there are bubbles in the jar to make sure everything has stayed under water; anything left popping up will spoil. When I see bubbles forming, I jiggle the jars a bit to help the bubbles rise so that the food isn't pushed out the top. After I've been seeing bubbles and they calm down, I start taste-testing the food. When it's as sour as I like, and still crunchy, we eat it. Previously I had to refrigerate it to stop the fermentation from continuing, but here I keep it in a cool room.

Exclusively fruit ferments will need some added whey (from homemade yogurt or cheese- not powdered stuff) because it doesn't have as much lactic acid or lactobacilli as vegetables do, but I haven't had any trouble with tomatoes, so you'll have to experiment. If it were me, I would try a combination of fruit and vegetable, such as carrots and orange marmalade, or beets and apples (with cloves, yummy), just to make sure there's enough lactobacilli.

I have found that the slower the fermentation, the higher quality the end product. In the fridge, the process is likely too slow (unless you have a second fridge that you could keep at about 60-65*), but a cool place works very well. This is how you'll get crunchy, pleasantly sour veggies without much of a fermented taste- it's more like a very mild vinegar or a lemon-like sourness. If it's warmer, they'll ferment faster and be more like squeaky rubber and have a stronger 'fermented' flavour- still tasty though. Too warm, and they'll start to be mushy before they've finished fermenting and will be very strong tasting.

I don't keep recipes but I can estimate what I put in my 1 litre jars. I typically add 2 cloves cut garlic to broccoli, a TBSP black pepper corns to green beans, TBSP fresh cubed ginger and garlic to carrots, one tsp dried rosemary and 1/2 tsp nutmeg to cabbage/coleslaw, 2 cloves garlic and 1 TBSP peppercorns to cauliflower, 1 tsp cloves to pearl onions, nothing but salt to garlic (but I haven't done much of that- we eat so much fresh that there's never enough around to fill a jar), and I also make a tomato salsa: chopped tomatoes, finely chopped green, red and yellow pepper, green onion, garlic, salt. I've also used 1 TBSP mild curry and 1/2 cup raisins in a cauliflower ferment and it was yummy.

The queen of the ferments is sauerkraut. I rinse the outside of the cabbage, then quarter it, slice it very finely, put into a bowl, add some salt, dried and crumbled rosemary leaves, 2 cloves of cut garlic, and mix it all up, then go do something else. I come back after an hour, pound the cabbage until it's all bruised- it turns translucent when bruised-, pack it into my jars and push my pounding dowel into it until the cabbage juice rises to the top. I continue to pack it until there's only an inch left at the top of the jar. Then I let it sit. When it is done, you'll wonder why you've never had sauerkraut before and what that store-bought stuff really is. It usually takes two two-handed cabbages to fill one 1 litre jar. Then I go rest; this is labour intensive, unlike the lazy veggie ferments above. I pound six to eight cabbages at each sauerkraut session.

Oh, and a little garlic goes a very long way. If your ferment turns out too strong for you, just refrigerate it for a few months, and then try it again. It may have mellowed out and have become very tasty. Sauerkraut is supposedly better after 6 months of mellowing, but ours is eaten so quickly that I haven't been able to test this.

I think the key to figuring out what works best in your climate is to just start trying it. Start with the most simple recipe- maybe the broccoli stalks you may have thrown out before- slice thinly, pack them in tightly, add salt and water. Then watch them, and taste them every day (or more often if it's hot) so that you gain a sense of what is happening at each stage of fermentation.

I would not use refined salt of any sort- especially not table or pickling salt. If I absolutely had to use a 'grocery store' salt, I would find one that doesn't have any additives (I have heard that iodized salt spoils the fermentation process, but I have no personal experience with that), like a plain sea salt. It should stick together like a rock; if it flows, it's not just salt. Can you find a source of naturally harvested sea salt with all of its minerals? Ours has large and small crystals, all square-ish with one side of the crystal sinking inward. It's grey-ish and always wet.

It seems like so many instructions, but once you're doing it, it literally takes less effort than making a salad. I read and read too, and then when I started doing it, I kept thinking, "Is this it? I must be forgetting something." But it is it. It's very simple.

Fermented foods are very, very high in vitamins, especially B, and will recolonise an injured gut with microflora necessary for absorption and digestion of foods. Many cultures serve a fermented food at every meal for this reason. In Korea, they serve Kimchi, in Japan, pickled veggies; this is why a pastrami on rye is served with a pickle- it's supposed to make digesting the meat and bread easy and comfortable. The vinegar grocery store ones don't do that- they cause acid reflux, which is worse for eating ameat sandwich without adequate microflora, and many people are popping antacids for the rest of the day regretting the sandwich well into the night. A naturally lacto-fermented, UNpasteurised food with that sandwich will fix that problem.

Happy eating!

A Skeleton In Their Closet?

Yes, it seems the Catholic Church has to answer to a few questions.  More specifically, was their beloved John Henry Newman gay?  And even if he wasn't, why are they choosing to beatify him and move his grave despite his wishes to be buried by the man he loved, Fr. Ambrose St. John?

More meddling.  More peddling.  I think Luther would've been somewhat irked.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Uh...


...yeah. Anybody else see this and think, "whoa. Creepy"?

I'm pretty sure it was Jesus who walked on the water, not sank into it while throwing his hands up for help.

Armour of God PJ's!

From the good folks at Ship of Fools, I present:

"Isn't it about time for Christian kids to lead the fight against secular pajamas? Yes it is! And what better way to do it than by getting them into costumes straight out of the good old days of the Crusades. These amazingly realistic PJs are silver coloured so they actually look like medieval armor – but don't worry, Mom, they're not really made from steel!

Kids just love donning the breastplate of righteousness, being girt with the belt of truth and taking up the pillow of faith at bedtime. And meanwhile, you can sleep easy. Don't let it bother you for a moment that when your offspring grow up, it will take years of expensive therapy for them to get over this and all the other fundamentalist looney tunes you've imposed on them!

Buy your Armor of God PJs now! Only $39.95 plus shipping. Available from these Bible-believing folks in Florida."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cabbage in the Pulpit = no offense?

Tonight I talked with my husband, Christopher of St. Cynic, while sauteeing cabbage and onions. In this position, I could be rebuking, telling him a profound truth, sharing a vision or a godly insight, quoting holy scripture, arguing a theological point, informing him of my beliefs regarding holy communion, or any other such thing, and as long as I am stirring the pot (hehe)- in this case one full of cabbage and onions-, I can have free reign of the *pulpit.* In fact, I am fairly certain that even if he had a group of his most mainline, most traditional christian friends over to eat with us, I could go on and on without offense, with my wooden spoon firmly planted in that 5 quart sauce pot.

BUT if I were to do the same from a pulpit in a sanctuary of a church building, then I am committing an offense, a controversy, breaking with tradition. I am acting outside of my station, my role, my God-given 'place.' Right?

Okay, now imagine I'm standing at the man-made pulpit in the man-made sanctuary, in the man-made church building, BUT I am cooking! Is it okay to teach then? If I speak, and someone learns something from what I shared, am I not teaching? 

Today I sat in a church building erected by human hands, and listened to a woman teach with words of wisdom from God- from the pulpit (or lectern as was the case), and I wondered what about this arrangement is so offensive to the church groups that I have known in the past? If she had shared the same thing during a potluck with everyone eating together, nobody would have been offended, and everyone would have been blessed by what wisdom the Lord had given her to share with us. So, I can only conclude that it is actually the import we place on the man-made thing, and the rules surrounding it (none of which are found in the scriptures to my knowledge) that are the reason for banning women from teaching in the church. 

As far as I understand, the pulpit is not the altar of God, our hearts are His altar, and if the words the woman at the front shares come neatly to that altar in my heart, edifying and strengthening the relationships I have with the Lord and His people, how could it possibly matter to anyone who spoke them? 

Man, woman, child- when quickened by faith, and enabled by the Holy spirit, speak words of wisdom and truth, it is all from God right?  None of us belongs to him/herself either, right? As one body, we are intertwined and interconnected such that we cannot live without one another, need one another. Should the hand not inform the arm that the burner is hot because it's a girl? Or a child? 

Don't worry, if you learned something- it's okay- I was typing this in the kitchen, where I belong. *Rolls eyes*

Little Woman, BIG statement!

High-5 to Dr. Veith for posting this saintly statement.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spel Cheque


Oh, the irony...

Tip 'o' the hat to the boys (and gal!) over at Canadian Cynic for this one.


(Warning: if you're easily offended, or have strange and inexplicable affections for right-wing politics, then don't click on the link above.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Twilight Zone of Advertising

By way of "10 Creepiest Old Adds", I bring you the following:


(Thank you to: Unrepentant Old Hippe)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Forclosure

Our neighbours to the south, and across the pond are all seeking bailouts. Apparently subprime mortgages, and irresponsible lending combined with an insatiable inclination to live beyond means in a credit/debt society brought about forclosures at unprecedented levels. Whether that's true or simply what's being spun to us, I don't know. However, I think Megadeth's song Foreclosure of a Dream is strikingly appropriate for such ominous times.


Rise so high, yet so far to fall.
A plan of dignity and balance for all.
Political breakthrough, euphorias high.
More borrowed money, more borrowed time.
Backed in a corner, caught up in the race.
Means to an end ended in disgrace.
Perspective is lost in the spirit of the chase.

Foreclosure of a dream,
Those visions never seen.
Until all is lost,
Personal holocaust.
Foreclosure of a dream.

Barren land that once filled a need,
Are worthless now, dead without a deed.
Slipping away from an iron grip,
Nature's scales are forced to tip,
The heartland cries, loss of all pride.
To leave ain't believing, so try and be tried.
Insufficient funds, insanity and suicide.

Foreclosure of a dream,
Those visions never seen.
Until all is lost,
Personal holocaust.
Foreclosure of a dream.

Now with new hope some will be proud.
This is no hoax, no one pushed out.
Receive a reprieve and be a pioneer.
Break new ground of a new frontier.
New ideas will surely get by.
No deed, or dividend. Some may ask why?
You'll find the solution, the answers in the sky.

Foreclosure of a dream,
Those visions never seen.
Until all is lost,
Personal holocaust.
Foreclosure of a dream.

Rise so high, yet so far to fall.
A plan of dignity and balance for all.
Political breakthrough, euphoria's high.
More borrowed money, more borrowed time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Breaking Wind, er, News

Wind turbines are growing in popularity as an alternative source of eco-friendly energy. The problem is that people who prop-up wind turbines beside their houses are finding out that, yes, they're eco-friendly, but not people-friendly.

In fact, wind turbines have earned themselves the dubious honour of being a new health problem. It's called Wind Turbine Syndrome, and it's generating a host of medical problems for pockets of the world's populations.


Would it be rude of me to say that this news blew me away?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Listen and Learn

Do you like your brain? So does Dr. Andrew Moulden. So hear him out, and understand what's at risk.

And then, if you're interested, go learn how the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world has been including cancer in vaccines.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Authority and the Church P. II

Once again, for your delectation and delight, TJG's comments will be in red and mine will be in black.

"Any leadership function or role that one has presumed to fulfill if not based on a foundation that is rooted in the truth then can we give our approval?"

I think you may be missing some words in your question. I think I get the gist of it but I don't want to risk misinterpreting you; can you re-work the question so I can think about it, and offer an answer?

"But first let’s look at ways that Christian leaders function contrary to the word of God. The most obvious role that leaders depart from the scriptures is the prominent place of Christ amongst God’s people.

"They speak on the behalf of the Holy Spirit and stop the mouths of the saints by not allowing them to minister. This passive pew devotee is weakened not strengthen in his spiritual walk through his own inactivity and order of the meeting that both the leadership and the people (not all) have agreed to."

You know, I want to make it clear, my friend, that I'm asking these questions, and making these comments not because I want to fight, or discourage. I'm asking because I want to make sure that as Christians, whether we meet in homes, or in Church buildings, charity dominates our perspectives, not moralisms.

There are a brace of reasons why the traditional church would pooh-pooh the notion of house church, and visa versa. In the end, I really have to make the point that it doesn't matter. As Christians we are to embrace each other lovingly, and with humility. Enumerating wrongs is a matter for people of sounder judgment than me, and as long as we're able to "dwell together in unity" I'm under no obligation to crusade for one format being better than another.

Having said that, can we agree on the following (about leadership speaking on behalf of the Holy Spirit): human agency is about God using people to speak/write His words? If so, then we know that that arrangement is always, and logically, an 'on behalf of' arrangement. The only way it can't be is if God speaks to us Himself. Even the Bible is an 'on the behalf of' arrangement: it's a text recording the inspired words of God, but it is not God Himself.

I agree with you though, that brandishing a position removed from the common aspect of the congregation, and dominating the time for sharing God's Word every week is reprobate. Interestingly, the Lutheran Church in the North Americas, up until about the late 1800's, used a very interactive sermon format: the pastor would preach, and the congregation was free to ask questions, and add Scriptural references, or information as they were led to. In that scenario (which I personally enjoy), the leader is funtioning in such a manner as to keep watch over the congregation's souls (Heb. 13:17). This is how the Catholic Church used to preach in their early days, too. St. Augustine was famous for it, in fact.

"The same spiritual reality in the Old Testament when the people asked for a king that he might go before them and fight their battles applies today. Those people rejected the headship of God to lead them directly, so it is today, men have their minister not the Holy Spirit to lead them directly together."


I may have talked past your point on the issue of a king the last time I wrote about it. I understand that you are suggesting the position of a pastor, bishop, what have you, in today's modern churches is simply a political figurehead, the guy that rules the roost. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with you on the current practice of ministers -- that they're political leaders towing a denominational line. In that sense, you are right that they are treated as if they are kings.

I'm not sure that I could simply make my brush strokes so wide from that admittance, however, that I could conclude "therefore all ministers in modern churches are just kings usurping the place of Christ in His congregations." Like I said previously, some of these men are God-fearing, sincere men who live to serve and teach; it's what makes their hearts beat. They do not consider themselves kings, nor do they act like them even when they are nominated to be one by a group of Christians who are unaware that they've got a wrong perspective on how a minister should minister. They're simply men who move within the body of Christ teaching, loving, and sharing; they are exemplars.

"This kind of listening fosters spiritual infants, since only a child must be feed and can not feed himself. The purpose of ministry is to mature the saints, edify the body of Christ and bring them to be the fullness in Christ. (Eph.4:11-14)"

I must disagree with you here, flat-out. First, there are many exemplars (saints) of the faith that have come out of the churches you are accusing of fostering 'spiritual infants'. In fact, they are too numerous to list here. Add to their numbers all the theologians, apologists, martyrs, wise ole grannies and grandpas, etc. You mix all those people together and you've got a good batch of people who've come through the 'spoon-feeding' church, and grown into people even you and I can look up to.

Second, the format of today's churches, granted, can and often does lead to a lack of substantial teaching, and discipleship. However, it is not the sole responsibility of the people around a believer to bring that person into the fulness of the faith; it is also that believer's responsibility. So if a person is not pursuing understanding outside the format of a given church, it is hardly the fault of the church that person is attending. Hence any believer can foster spiritual infancy if they wrecklessly, negligently, and needlessly stay in an infantile state.

"These leaders promote the clergy laity division which is a lie."

Please establish this argument from Scripture and history.

"These leaders nullify the functioning priesthood of the believer through their exclusiveness."

Recall that historically, it was the people who called for someone out of their midst to act in an exclusive role. People wanted to be led. People still want to be led. From that, it can be argued that the historic priesthood of believers nullified themselves. So now what?

"There is a tendency for these leaders to foster family ties and promote themselves (son,daughter,etc) through the financial benefits they receive."

This has always been the case. Nepotism is something that accompanies many organized peoples. It's next to unavoidable, really. Nevertheless, it does, you're right, set up a tangled web of preferential relationships rather than a wholistic, biblical qualification to leadership.

"They do not produce might men or valor. They take a name for themselves showing their carnality through dividing themselves from the rest of the body of Christ. (1 Cor.3: 1-3 )"

Again, the 'mighty men' and the 'valour' you write about: there are pages and pages of countless volumes of mighty men, and men and women of valour who have been swaddled, indoctrinated, and rasied in the churches you regard as sub-standard, or misleading, or whatever descriptor you want to place on them.

On The Brink

While the US teeters on the brink of a financial collapse, France is hitting up the European Community for the same solution: a bailout. Does anyone else see this as a big sign for depressive times ahead?