Friday, July 3, 2015

The Crossroads: A Reminder on Choices, and Freedom from C.S. Lewis


On freedom (and predestination)
"It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it. 
"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."   
                    C.S. Lewis, in "Mere Christianity",  via CS Lewis Daily on Bible Gateway

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Most Deadly Marriage Crisis



Unfortunately, the legality of same sex marriage won't reduce the number of people who run around on their spouse, the number of women who date married men, the number of people who lie to their spouse, the number of people who over-spend and hide the bills from their spouse, the number of people who refuse to love their inlaws, the number of stepparents who put their own children before their stepchildren, the number of divorcing women who try to destroy their spouse financially, the number of parents who manipulate their children to sabotage the other parent, the number of people who refuse to forgive their spouse....
The marriage crisis we face in America is not about "who" is getting married, it is about how married people follow our vows to put the well-being of our spouse on an equal footing with our own for our entire life, even if the marriage itself fails.



*Art:  "Samson and Delilah", painted by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni in 1766

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are They Going To Tear Down These Monuments, Too?




Are they going to tear down these monuments, too, and demand the dead be moved?

Even if they do, they cannot escape their own history.  A history which is still reflected in the segregated neighborhood demographics of  the Democrat-voting cities all over the country: Los Angeles,  Menlo Park (home to Facebook, which hired only seven Black persons in 2012), New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, St Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland...

It is time for the Northern, Northeastern, and West Coast states to face up to their own local - and recent - culpability in legally enforced apartheid in their communities up until the 1980s, through Racially Restrictive Covenants and other governmental means. As desperate in their denial as Ben Affleck, the power brokers (the media, political class, and progressive intelligencia) continue to designate the South (which has been fully integrated and mostly colorblind for decades) as symptom-bearer in order to avoid the pain of looking honestly at their own bigotry.

The South has shown, in Charleston, that we can and do forgive. That forgiveness is possible because the people of the South went through the emotional honesty needed to put the past to bed and continue forward.

The leading citizens of the Northern, Northeastern, and West Coast states tried to hide from their racism in their own home towns by separating themselves from people who don't look like them, and don't worship like they do.

Now that the walls are being torn down, they point - OVER THERE! LOOK! - to turn attention away from themselves.  But it doesn't work.  Banning a flag from states they don't visit or tearing down someone else's statues in cities they don't live in won't erase the guilt that progressives and Yankee liberals of all colors know is in their hearts. And the racism will continue to destroy lives in Apartheid Chicago (or New York or LA)   just as it did in Apartheid Cape Town.
“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.” -Jeremiah 23:24 
Until the Blue states face the honest truth about their own racism, they will continue to perpetuate the sickness in effort to hide their own disease.







Photo taken at the Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Big Texas Weather: Same Old Climate, Same El Nino Events Cause Texas Floods and Texas Rains

There is nothing unusual about the rain or flooding that Texas and Oklahoma are experiencing. It is actually a feature of our same old climate, and happens especially often in El Nino years.  During these past years of drought (which are also a normal feature of our same old climate), we've all been pulling for an El Nino to show up with the lovely rain it always brings. 

We mourn the tragic loss of life... flash floods are the only weather I fear, and they kill more people each year than all other weather events combined. That is no comfort to the grieving families. Please learn how to be safe in heavy rain, and never cross a water-covered road. 

But we must also be grateful for the abundance of rain that fills ranch tanks and the lakes that provide our water supplies. These rains are even replenishing underground aquifers, storing water for the long haul. 

An enlightening statement,courtesy of Floodsafety.com gives us the facts about these floods: 
"Flooding from large storms has affected Texas throughout its history...and destructive floods occur somewhere in the State every year. Many of these floods are destructive because they often occur in areas where extreme flooding had not occurred for many years. These floods often are perceived as unexpected or even unprecedented because their peak water-surface elevations (stages) can greatly exceed those of past floods." 
More facts from the same source as of 2002: 
  • *Texas has had 256 major floods (41 catastrophic) from 1853 thru 2002. 
  • *From 1986 to 2000, Texas experienced 4,722 flash flood events.
  • *" Central Texas has been identified as the most flash-flood prone area in the United States by the National Weather Service." 
  • *"Texas holds 6 of 12 world record rainfall rates in 24 hours or less - source United States Geological Survey (USGS)." 
  • *"Texas leads the nation in flood-related deaths most every year -- averaging twice the next nearest state: California." 
So please, young AP writers, don't be fooled into thinking this rain and these floods are unusual or "historic", because... they are both, but only to the degree that Texas weather is, like so much else in Texas, always larger than life. In fact, if you read Cabeza de Vaca's account of his Travels through Texas in 1528, you might be surprised to find that the climate is much the same as it is today, with the same edible plants growing in the same locations and the same bitter cold coastal winters, even the same merciless mosquitoes. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lest They Died In Vain: Pamela Geller's Courageous Choice Defends Liberty For American Muslims, Christians and Jews

After Charlie Hebdo, Pamela Geller stood up as an example to show the world, and the extremists, that IF Americans of any background treat the tenets of any faith with respect, it is because we choose to - not because we are afraid of murderers and bullies who try to force others to comply with their demands.

While many safely tweeted "Je suis Charlie" and pretended to stand in solidarity with an edgy and trendy French magazine whose staff were murdered for publishing cartoons, few actually did anything to truly show how important the right to a free press is. Pamela Geller honored their sacrifice by coordinating a free speech event in Garland Texas.

Without Ms Geller's legal, non-violent free speech exercise, others would be more intimidated and less willing to stand firm against other extremist demands, while the brutal would be encouraged to expand - and the sacrifices of Charlie Hebdo's staff, Theo van Gogh, Daniel Pearl, Steven Sotloff,  Fabrizio Quattrocchi,  and the dozens of journalists murdered all over the world every year, would all be for naught.

We all know this.

We all know that without Ms Geller's courage, gentler groups will suffer indignities and circumscription at an increasing and discriminatory rate, while belligerent ones will be allowed to ride roughshod over us.

We know this. Even those who fear to admit it to themselves, know this.

The discussion about whether it is polite or ethical in America to disparage Christianity or Judism or Islam does need to happen, because that is how Americans do things, but not now. It needs to happen at a time when every example of radical free speech (from Mapplethorpe and Serrano to Charlie Hebdo and Geller) receives equal treatment in that discussion.

And only after coercion, intimidation, and threats of violence or "law-fare" have been eliminated as factors of influence.

A fundamental truth on which America was founded, and which we still believe, is that without religious freedom for everyone, which must of necessity include complete freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the very root of all liberty for all people is endangered.

If legal or social coercion and threat of violence are what keep people silent, then there is no free speech, and it builds a wall.

Those who wish to avoid such walls between people must be aware of the reality of danger faced by Christians and other liberty-practicing peoples in this 21st Century.

At a time when lawful protections for freedom of religion in America itself are being eroded at a rate unimaginable 20 years ago; when Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world (mistreated for their faith in 151 countries since 2006, at least 41 of which are Muslim nations, and in Muslim-dominated regions of others); when "80% of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians"; when antisemitism against Jews is rising at an alarming rate on US college campuses; when Jews are persecuted in 95 countries despite being only 1% of the world's population; when the brutality of religious persecution in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia and Asia is erasing or enslaving whole populations of Christians and other minority religions and this violence is undertaken by extremists claiming - even if wrongly - the flag of Islam for their unholy mayhem...

...at such a time, it is no wonder that usually-accepting Americans, even if they are not Christian, have a very reality-based fear of similar instability being launched here.

At the same time, Muslims also faced persecution in 135 countries between 2006 and 2012. Persecution they should also be protected from - as they have been protected in majority-Christian America since our founding. In America, we make no distinction: we believe all people should have equal liberty to think, speak, pray, study, publish, associate, live, work, and abide by the same laws.

Muslim people of good will can find commonalities with Christians & Jews, if they wish to do so, and as so many have done for generations before these troubles started. In the United States at this time, Christians, Muslims and Jews share the serious and real threat of complete loss of freedom to actively practice our faith. We also share interest in moral and ethical matters such as public decency and modesty, marriage and divorce, home and family, children's education that respects parents' beliefs and decisions, honest business practices, ethical local government, stewardship and freedom from debt.

If Muslim people of good will wish to engage others of different faiths, they must remove fear and threat of violence from the picture. That includes letting go of the name-calling: mislabeling Pamela Geller a "bigot" or falsely claiming she is "racist" or pretending her honest factual statements are "hate speech" is just another form of violence against freedom of speech and the rule of law in a nation of free people.

As Governor Bobby Jindal said on Monday, a firm and truly unequivocal statement (not one that uses the word unequivocal but goes on to slander Ms. Geller) "is not too much to ask.":

"The truth of the matter is that even though President Obama will not admit it – Islam has a problem, and it is called radical Islam. And the proponents of radical Islam hate our First Amendment, they hate freedom of speech and they want to destroy it and us.
"We can never deal with this problem without admitting it exists. It’s time for our President to stand up and speak the truth to the American people and to the world.
"It is also time for Muslim leaders everywhere to step up and declare that perpetrators of such violence are the enemy, they are wrong, and they will NOT be rewarded in the afterlife. These Muslim leaders also need to directly state that they are tolerant of every person in the world who does not share their religious views, and they condemn anyone who commits violence in the name of Islam. This is not too much to ask." 
We know that most Muslim people do not practice radical Islam and do not support it. It is unfortunate but necessary that such Muslim people of good will must now also be brave and stand up against radical Islam alongside Pamela Geller and other people of good will and differing faiths and beliefs: united despite our differences in a passion to preserve equal liberty for all.

Pamela Geller's courageous work shows that Americans - of any faith or none - Christian, Jew, Muslim - are polite and civilized by choice, that our Constitutional freedoms are a valuable heritage we can share that protects us all from being forced to comply with anything - and that we will ALL always choose to extend that same freedom expressly to others of differing faiths and opinions.

To the credit of Ms Geller, the other organizers, the participants and attendees, the Muslim community of Garland and surrounding areas, and the City of Garland, the event was almost completely uneventful: a model of what the ordinary exercise of free speech at an art show should be. The two attackers had to drive a long way to attempt to repeat the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and they failed.

In their failure,  Pamela Geller succeeded, and there is now a new standard in the world. America, and Texas, overwrote the Charlie Hebdo atrocity with a defiant "LIBERTY FOR ALL", writ as large as ever.






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Friday, April 24, 2015

Why Printed Books Will Always Matter: The Armenian Genocide


I learned about the Armenian Genocide - or one of its  precursors "The Hamidian Massacres" or "The Adana Massacre" - when I was in third grade.

There was an old abandoned house on the block - one of those older than the homes around it, that had either been a rent house until it became too decrepit to rent out, or whose elderly owner had died with no local heirs to help keep it up or care about its gradual decay. Windows were broken out, and someone had taken the front door, leaving it wide open, airy, well-lit with sunshine... and perfect for neighborhood children to explore.

I don't remember whether I wandered through it with a friend or alone. It was empty except for a half-filled box of trinkets, cracked dishes.... and one very old book.

Even back then, I read everything I could get my hands on. This book was old... I want to say the copyright date was 1909, but it could have been Bliss's ""Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities. A Reign of Terror" published in 1896.  I don't think it was the  one known as the "Blue Book", Viscount Bryce's definitive "Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916", published in 1916.

I opened it and started reading explicit, bloody accounts of unimaginable torture inflicted on innocent old men, little children, mothers, by Turkish soldiers in the name of their muslim religion. All because the Armenians were Christians.

I didn't take the book, I just stayed there and read for half an hour or so.

I didn't hear anything else about Armenia until I was grown.

Despite the herculean effort that America made through the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, efforts that are credited with literally saving the Armenian people from extinction, and which served as the model for all relief agencies that have been created since, despite that, Armenia was ignored in public school history classes.  The progressive agenda was already busy in our textbooks, deleting events and adding agendas even in the 60s.

Today, a hundred years later, the cultural descendants of the perpetrators deny those events. Events that look horribly identical to massacres happening right now in the same places, inflicted by people who claim the same reasons and use the same tactics and methods. They deny both the old atrocities and the new ones, and they convince some. Our own President is willing to acede to their fiction.

Over time, I've learned much more from that brief encounter with a book I never saw again. It taught me that a written record can be proof to fly in the face of deceit. It taught me to look for accounts printed within a few years of events, because those are the most accurate. It taught me that the printed word can survive even attempts to stamp out knowledge. It taught me that there was a great deal about the world I would have to learn for myself if I wanted to know what things were really like. And it was a powerful object lesson in the truth of that other "old book" that so many deny and try to destroy.

So thank God for that printed copy of that old book. A copy that can't be edited or deleted or removed from a search engine.  I hope we will remember that we still need printed history books, if only to witness the truth to generations to come. Like the Lord God told Isaiah:

"Go now, and write it down on a tablet in their presence, inscribing it in a book, so that for times to come it may be an everlasting witness" Isaiah 30:8


* The Image is a poster used in one of the many fund raising drives the American Committee for Relief in the Near East. Wikipedia says this about their work: "From 1915 to 1930, Near East Relief saved the lives of over a million refugees, including 132,000 orphans who were cared for and educated in Near East Relief orphanages. Near East Relief also mobilized the American people to raise over $116 million for direct relief. Nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens volunteered to travel overseas. Near East Relief workers built hundreds of orphanages, vocational schools, and food distribution centers. Overseas relief workers were responsible for the direct care of orphans and refugees, including the organization of vast feeding and educational programs. Thousands of Americans volunteered throughout the U.S. by donating money or supplies and hosting special events to benefit Near East Relief's work."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Little Fact About Social Security....

If you invested $360 a month starting at age 20 at 6% compound interest, by the time you are 65, you will have $1,000,000. 

In the same way, if you have paid in $180 a month in FICA tax for your Social Security (which your employer matches for a total of $360), starting at age 20, by the time you are 65, you could draw $1,000 a month for 83 years before the government had paid you a similar amount. 

None of us are going to get back anything like what we would have if our FICA had been invested where Congress couldn't steal it. Don't let any politician get away with claiming otherwise: Congress needs to stop spending our retirement savings that we have been paying in all of our lives.

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