Thursday, September 8, 2022

God Save the King

It’s a sad day for the Anglophiles of the world today as we bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II and say “God Save the King” for King Charles III. Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne since I was 4 months of age, the longest lived and longest reigning monarch in British history. One statistic claims that 9/10 of the world’s population has never known any other British monarch but QEII. I think it's fitting that she died in Scotland, at her estate in Balmoral, her favorite place.

Interesting that the British rail union has called off its national strike out of respect for the Queen. Also interesting that the flags in the U.S. will also fly at half-mast and the House of Representatives have adjourned for the day in her honor. I’ll bet George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did not see that coming.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Smoke Gets in Our Eyes

It is always the same, I wash my car and it rains.
I mention our cooler temps and clear skies and what do we have this week but triple digits and smoke.
Lucky for us, we are headed north for a few days, and hopefully that will translate to a brief respite from "Hot August Nights."

Thursday, August 11, 2022

44784 :: August Again

 It would be remiss of me not to take note of the fact that it is once again Summer in the NorthState - and we are blessedly in the midst of not just a "cooling trend", but enjoying smoke-free skies for the first summer in several years. 

Granted, not everyone located in the northstate shares that blessing with us as evidenced by the map on InciWeb:

...but I for one am not going to let the occasion of having a full week in the 90's pass by without giving thanks for the blessed reprieve of what I can only hope translates to a PG&E bill under $200. this month.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Misdsummer... or so

It's looking rather apocalyptic here in the NorthState as we are full into our second week of triple digits.

Of course, compared to Death Valley or Phoenix, we don't have much right to complain. But we do regardless, because we are accustomed to sitting in air-conditioned offices or homes, driving to air-conditioned stores or malls in air-conditioned cars.

I'm wondering a lot of things right now, things like: How on earth did our colonial or antebellum or pioneer forebears not perish of heat stroke in their multiple layers of cotton, linen, wool and tweed clothing which covered almost every square inch of their bodies? I throw on a sundress when it hits 85°F and sit in front of a fan with a thermal mug of ice water and complain of a headache.

What must life have been like for the women who had to cook and clean and do laundry 365 days a year no matter the temperature in homes that were not only poorly ventilated, but likely not insulated? I only do my minimal (by comparison) housework or chores before noon or until the interior temps hit 80°F - and forget about turning on the stove once it reaches 100°F outside! Salads or sandwiches - that's what's on the menu in the summertime chez moi.

Closer to home, how do the homeless in their tents pitched by the freeway get through the day when the temps are soaring? Ironically, a local cooling center was recently vandalized, resulting in one less location for homeless and others who need a free or low-cost way of escaping the heat to seek it elsewhere. Thankfully, there is always the local creek which flows through our large municipal park for those desperate enough to brave the specter of discarded needles or hepatitis and giardia. I am frequently amazed that there are not more people hanging out at the public library in our town. 

I know people are fervent on both sides of the "climate change" or "Global warming" debate and I am not here to cast my vote either yea or nay on the subject, except to say that I clearly recall a few days that reached 120°F in our little town within my tenure, which as of now covers 51 years. (Not to say that we won't reach that number again this year, but that is beside the point.) Full disclosure: The Internet (source of all wisdom) claims that our highest recorded temp was 117°F, which leads me to wonder where in town they placed their thermometer.

Basically, nothing new under the sun here, just musing about the heat since I must venture out shortly and I am really only stalling as I enjoy free-to-me a/c at the office and contemplating how much easier I have it than any number of people in many places around the globe. Or, just trying to put things in their proper perspective and remind myself how uncommonly privileged I really am.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

I Walk the Line

I have not read this book. I am not familiar with the author and, while I am tentatively in agreement with the message implied in the title, I am not in this commentary making a statement about the book itself.

I have however read a few statements in regard to the message it supposedly preaches, and that is what I am addressing.

One friend made this statement: "Love one another as I have loved you." Dear believing friends, I don't think we are doing so well... Our deeply held beliefs sometimes sound a lot like hatred, not love. We need to find a better way, or our witness is worthless.

That is a statement that speaks the truth!

A Christian pastor and author (John Pavlovitz) reviewing the book states (in part): Dear White Evangelicals, [we] see your hypocrisy, your inconsistency, your incredibly selective mercy, and your thinly veiled supremacy… They see that pigmentation and party are your sole deities. They see that you aren’t interested in perpetuating the love of God or emulating the heart of Jesus.. You’ve lost any semblance of Christlikeness.

And yet another commenter (Peter McDonald) on the above review: I’m so glad the author does not once call these people “Christians.” They are not. Obviously they haven’t read any of the 4 Gospels. If they had, they’d be preaching and acting on the central message Jesus brought: We are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s all. It’s very simple. They do just the opposite. They have no right to claim to be acting in Jesus’ name. They are not. They cannot call themselves “Christians.”

Here are two things that give me pause:

  •  Lumping "white Evangelicals" into one group as if our skin tone has everything to do with our faith walk. "Pigmentation and party are your sole deities" ???

He is using a pretty broad brush when he paints that picture. Let's be honest, Evangelicals are certainly not the only group that show their intolerance to those they disagree with. And people of color are certainly not exempt from hypocrisy and inconsistency.

  • The reply by McDonald - while I agree that "they will know we are Christians by our love", I am very hesitant to say that someone else isn't a Christian.

When someone uses the term "Evangelical", to me that is simply a euphemism for "Christian." It certainly is not referring to a Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish person.

YES... I recognize and agree that there are people whose faith walk is purely cultural and does not play out in the way they act or treat others. But am I the one to make that call? And if I do, where does that fall in between the two commands "Judge not, lest you be judged" and "Love one another"?

In Matthew 7, Jesus/Yeshua has a little bit to say about judging others: “Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.[1] However, The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.[2] In John 7, he goes on to give a direct command to judge: “Stop judging by external standards, and judge by true standards.” [3]

Later he goes on to say: “My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.”[4]
And later still, it is taught: “…do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit, but test them to find out if the spirit they have comes from God. For many false prophets have gone out everywhere. This is how you will be able to know whether it is God's Spirit: anyone who acknowledges that Jesus Christ came as a human being has the Spirit who comes from God. But anyone who denies this about Jesus does not have the Spirit from God.”

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul comments: “the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself… what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants… what human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions… People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups… [But] those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires.”

I have commented previously that there are a lot of people who self-identify as “Christian” who do not wear that label well. But it is one thing to recognize that a person’s actions speak louder than their words (or labels) and another thing to make a judgement call about their salvation. Bottom line: when we say someone is not a Christian, are we not saying they are not “saved”? That's what it sounds like to me..

In The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, author Steven M.R. Covey makes the statement, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.”

I am guessing that until we start paying attention to the speck in our own eyes we will not portray to the world an accurate picture of what a Christ-follower should look like. Then, as my friend said, “Our witness is worthless.”

I will be putting the book Christians Against Christianity: How Right-Wing Evangelicals Are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith by Obery M. Hendricks Jr. on my TBR shelf and possibly comment later on my own reactions, but I also highly recommend the book The Unsaved Christian: Reaching CulturalChristianity with the Gospel by Dean Inserra.






Monday, June 27, 2022

Interesting Reactions

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Since last week, that has been the hot topic of conversation in the news and social media, both at home and abroad. Oddly enough, the abortion laws in the U.S. are still probably the most lenient in the world, yet I don’t hear anyone screaming or protesting about that.

I find it interesting that the primary rhetoric is something along the lines of “we will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions”[1] or “Don't forget to set your clock 50 years back before bed tonight!”

The majority of people seem to be of the mindset that the overturning of Roe v Wade will automatically make all abortions illegal and relegate them to “back alleys.” I can only wonder if these same people have actually taken the time to read what Roe v Wade’s decision was really about, or if they are just repeating the knee-jerk hysteria that is rampant on every platform.

The reality is that abortions have been legal and available in hospitals, long before Roe v Wade graced the law books in 1973. This I know for a fact, having had the unfortunate occasion to experience one myself in 1970. Reversing Roe v Wade returns the regulation back to the state instead of the federal government, in accordance with the 10th amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”[2]

One can only wonder if the various rulings made over the intervening years permitting abortions to be performed later and later in the gestation period - right up to making it legal to “terminate” a newborn -have fueled the more conservative public’s outrage over the question of not the “right” to have an abortion, but “when” it becomes not merely objectionable, but heinous. How does one justify the incarceration of a mother for smothering her newborn, but let a doctor or nurse perform the same service in the sterile sanctity of a sanctioned clinic, then it magically becomes permissible?

A common argument that I find almost comical (if it wasn’t so preposterous) is “States want to make a woman carry a pregnancy to term, but then turn their backs to aid the woman in raising that child!” Many forms of birth control are widely available at low-to-no cost – but somehow the STATE is responsible for paying for the consequences of having unprotected sex? Don’t even get me started about how the State “helping” to raise a child has so much potential for something far beyond Big Brother. I would no more trust the government to properly raise a child than to bring a bullet train in on-time and under budget.

Another favorite argument put forth is the rape or incest card, which could certainly give even the most conservative person pause to consider - while in real time those account for a small percentage of elective abortions. The reality is that these days, abortion is regarded as virtually just another form of “birth control.” When a woman’s life is truly threatened by a pregnancy, for example in the case of an extra-uterine implantation, that is another matter altogether. No one should be denied the ability to choose medical intervention in order to save the life of the mother.

Yes, a woman should have the right to make choices concerning her own body. I am in total agreement with that statement. This includes having the right to choose birth control or abstinence, or to decline coitus altogether.  I am not so obtuse as to deny that there are and always have been women who are in not just relationships, but situations where they clearly are not given a choice. It is wrong that it should be so– but another matter altogether. But let’s at least be honest about the topic at hand: Abortion is and always has been about terminating a human life – frequently because it is inconvenient, and only occasionally because it is medically prudent.

Any society that gets all up in arms about ethnic cleansing, school shootings, and other forms of mass murder, but advocates for the “right” to kill another human being because it is inconvenient is the epitome of hypocrisy. In all the hysteria, many have lost sight of the incontrovertible fact that abortion ends the life of another human being. Denying this fact doesn’t make it any less true. 

How ironic is it that many who protest U.S. immigration restrictions sound the battle cry “No Human Being is Illegal!” have no qualms about denying a pre-born human the right to their future potential.

Roe v Wade is not about what some so charmingly described as “legislating a vagina”, but about keeping the Federal government’s hand out of deciding when a potential human being is viable outside of the womb. Protestors can wave the “legislate your dick!” banners all they want, but they have either never understood or have lost sight of the reality of the Roe v Wade decision (which, by the way, some of the very people protesting the current decision were originally opposed to.) [3] 

When you take away someone’s choice, you take away their freedom. If that is true, then it also applies to the “someone” unborn as well as the one holding the sign.



[3] Roosevelt, Kermit. "Shaky Basis for a Constitutional 'Right'", Washington Post, (January 22, 2003): "[As] an example of the practice of constitutional opinion writing, Roe is a serious disappointment. You will be hard-pressed to find a constitutional law professor, even among those who support the idea of constitutional protection for the right to choose, who will embrace the opinion itself rather than the result. ... This is not surprising. As constitutional argument, Roe is barely coherent. The court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether. It supported that right via a lengthy, but purposeless, cross-cultural historical review of abortion restrictions and a tidy but irrelevant refutation of the straw-man argument that a fetus is a constitutional 'person' entitled to the protection of the 14th Amendment. ... By declaring an inviolable fundamental right to abortion, Roe short-circuited the democratic deliberation that is the most reliable method of deciding questions of competing values.” 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

44713 :: Headlines

I will be the first to admit that I do not keep abreast of current events. I used to. I used to tune in to the radio and various talk shows all morning long when I worked at the preschool kitchen, back in the day. I used to keep a list of stores and organizations that I needed to boycott "to send a message." I was able to converse intelligently on who was who and what was what, and could probably have solved most of the world's problems, had anyone cared to ask my opinion.

And then I stopped. I figured out that my voice was really not making any difference in the scope of anyone's life. Furthermore, no one really gave a rip if I shopped at Target or used a certain brand of shampoo. Honestly, these were real issues to me, and I'm sure there are some people out there who still keep track of such things. 

These days, I have a different mindset. The reality is, no one really cares about my opinion but me. Arguing with someone will not change their mind. LISTENING to someone, on the other hand, will show respect and possibly earn me the right to be heard if my opinion is sought out.  

What I think about gun control, school shootings, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, or the Russians is immaterial in the scope of eternity. On the other hand, how I live my personal beliefs and how I treat others in the process goes a long way toward showing others what I think is really important in this life.

I do not protest or wear knit beanies shaped like lady parts, I do not riot to bring attention to someone's perception of injustice or inequality. I do have my own opinion on hot topics and will share them when asked - unless it's apparent that the other person in the conversation is only interested in brow-beating me with their point of view or intent on belittling my point of view. 

These days I am more interested in living a life that reflects my goal of being a person whose actions are in line with the faith I subscribe to. That does not mean shoving my lifestyle, gender identity, or choice of coffee beans down anyone's throat or harassing them if they do not act like I do. The only thing required to live a life of honesty is to be unapologetically real and give honest answers when someone wonders what I am about. 

You don't have to agree with someone to treat them with respect. 

I do not always get it right, but that is the journey I am on.