Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
When we read Jesus’ parable of the farmer who scatters his seed on the ground in Matthew 13, we see a profound message - and a call to action.
Now, of course, the first thing I think of in reading it is: “WHAT A DUMB FARMER, TO SCATTER HIS SEED ON THE HARD PACKED STONY GROUND.” I guess at least the birds got to eat the seed, so some good came of it. I can give him grace for all the thistles that come up on the other ground, and I can understand how sometimes shallow soil can affect the ability to send deep roots to withstand dry periods. I am relieved when I find the guy at least manages to get some on good soil that returns a crop of 30, 60 and even a hundred times what was seeded. Heck, farming is tough at best.”
However, unlike me, Jesus used those farming parables to reach his audience of common people who were familiar with it. Farmers hoped for the best crop outcome from the seeds they planted. Jesus was saying God was the eternal optimist in that he could expect the ground of hardest stone hearts to produce a huge plant of great strength of faith. I think that’s why the farmer sowed seed on rocky ground. He wasn’t just wasting the seed. God was saying, “Hey I’m giving you all an equal chance.”
Now I know I struggle with the thorns and thistles that grow up to hinder my faith, so I can certainly understand the comparison, and I’ve seen the shallow soiled faith of others who have disappeared along the path of life. Perhaps you, like me, have done battle with those things at times in your life, and perhaps you maybe want your life for God to count. Perhaps all we have to do to accomplish that is to invite a friend to church or maybe just show up when a person we know is in need. It doesn’t take much to start the snowball rolling, but it does take getting ourselves to do it.
“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” (I love that quote from St. Francis.)
Friday, April 25, 2014
The face of America is changing…well, actually more like the belly and the butt of America is changing. We are rapidly becoming the fattest country in the world. Living in Colorado, which is one of the leanest and healthiest states in the union, it is still filled with people who are seriously overweight. Studies conducted for the last 40 years have shown a shocking and dramatic change in the whole country. Today almost one-third of all Americans are considered obese.
Many of you know I spend a good bit of time working in the medical field, and I bring this issue to you not so much in a spirit of complaining how people look but rather what is the state of their health. Almost all the medical runs I go on seem to involve people of all ages who are seriously overweight. It is a simple fact that a huge portion of our medical problems are related to what we eat, how much we eat and how little we exercise. Type 2 diabetes used to be a disease relegated to the overweight and over 60 crowd, but today we are seeing it in ten-year-olds. Forms of cancer have been linked to being overweight, heart disease has long been known to be a function of weight (remember, for every extra pound you need to pump through more capillaries), high blood pressure, and many more maladies all contribute to serious morbidity in our population as a result of obesity.
We often complain about how high our health costs have become, and yet quitting tobacco and carrying a normal body weight could drop that figure dramatically. What is it with us? Do we love those Big Macs, Coldstone, Pizza Hut and other fast food in large quantity so much that we will sacrifice our lives and our children’s lives to it?
Are we all such wimps that we can’t control what we eat and how much we exercise?
The ability of the President of the United States to make executive orders is fairly well know today, but was relatively unknown (or perhaps even secret) until the early part of the 20th century. At that point the numbering and record keeping of executive orders began with Abraham Lincoln’s use during the Civil War. Presidents since 1789 have been using them, but the U.S. Constitution does not clearly give the President the authority to do so. (Ambiguous wording in Article II of that document is offered as an explanation of this right to arbitrarily make orders.)
Nearly everyone recognizes the need for a president to use this power to efficiently administer the laws of the land, and every president has done this, some more than others and some less. However, there are limits to what the executive order can be used for, and that is the serious question of the day. Most agree that its use is for times of emergency, to clarify confusing legal intent, to implement policies ensuing from laws passed, war declaration when attacked, etc. This attempt to set boundaries on use came about in the 1950s when Supreme Court rulings essentially told Harry Truman he was trying to actually “make laws” and usurping the job of the legislative branch in implementing the will of the people. This balance of powers is the entire key to the framers of the constitution’s plan for a successful government and the avoidance of tyranny by dictator.
Many criticisms have been leveled over the years at presidents for using executive orders improperly, most commonly when the President uses them to make or change laws without the approval of Congress. President Obama’s use of multiple executive orders in regard to the Affordable Care Act is an egregious example. Either the Supreme Court or Congress can vote by a two-thirds majority (fat chance!) to overturn an executive order, of course the composition of the parties in the court and legislature often make this difficult…and the political ramifications to legislators for doing so can be serious from the President.
Ultimately, the real solution for bad executive orders is the “will of the people.” Once a President is removed from office the new president can simply rescind any presidential order not codified by subsequent law through congressional action. Abortion activity by government agencies are a good example of this and has been reversed back and forth now for 30 years by each president in office.
So the question is now: Is it again time to take the current President to court for an overreach of Presidential power because of using Executive Orders to essentially make laws? There are those who suggest that President Obama’s use to implement the Affordable Care Act may qualify in part, since it appears his efforts do more than clarify the language, but rather create new law. I’m sure legal experts will wrangle over that for years, and who knows what the decision would be. Either way, the exercise of such enormous power by one individual is a bit frightening as to what the outcome could be.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Supremes managed to do something right this week by supporting a state law that said affirmative action could not include simply hiring with preference because of one’s race. Justice Ms. Soda-In-My-Ears, with all her racial bias managed the dissenting liberal view.
Now think about this carefully. What she is saying in her dissent is that simply because you are Black or Hispanic or female, you should have priority in hiring. This means that if you compare poorly in test scores or interviews, that can’t be held against you and used to make a hiring decision. So, if you diddled around in school, cut class, ate drugs by the bucketful and failed to do the work the teachers asked you to do, we are now saying that you are the perfect person to do the work of our business or government. If you have the mental faculties of a fruitcake, we are saying you are the best choice to fill our vacancies and make our spaceships, rule in our courts, or teach in our schools.
The best way to make a workforce of mediocrity is to hire by standards other than ability and work habits. The need to insure that everyone has an equal chance to acquire that ability and those work habits is a requirement of families and schools that have competence and are willing to do the work. BUT, ultimately it is up to the individual themselves to live up to their best potential. Huge numbers of racial minorities succeed and come out of terrible environments to become leaders in their fields without the aid of the “hire the least well qualified” mandates.
Race alone should never be a factor in hiring or not hiring!!! Or anything else, for that matter.
The recent events in the Ukraine are disturbing. The actions of the Russian government are frighteningly reminiscent of Hitler’s advance through Europe prior to World War II. His actions were originally confined to predominantly Germanic speaking lands bordering his country. His excuse was he was responding to the will of the people there in moving militarily to incorporate them into German governance and occupation.
Obviously, Putin is doing the same thing with the same stated reasoning. We as Americans certainly can relate to the desire of an area to become self-governing, and Putin is trying to mimic that approach in saying he is there to “assist” the local populace that wishes to be independent. Unfortunately, with troops on the ground from Russia, it looks more like an attempt at intimidation and a takeover of the country by a foreign power…just like Hitler did.
Certainly, there are ethnic differences in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine. How do we judge what is going on there from our perspective? California is rapidly becoming entirely Hispanic ethnically. Southern California already is. Does that mean Mexico can mass troops on our border and in our country to help facilitate and back (or perhaps instigate) a revolt? I’m sure Mexico can come up with a million reasons why the economic wealth of California would be a boon to their country and give them great political influence over the remaining United States…just like Putin realizes with Ukraine. But do the people of California think they would be better off with an alliance with and a dependence on Mexico.
What do you think?
Recently, President Obama made the statement “There is no debate, climate change is happening!” He was emphatic, and the essence of his comment was true. Some days it rains, some days it’s hot. Some years are wetter and colder, some are not. Some decades and centuries exhibit different weather patterns, and we know from geologic evidence that we have had four major ice ages that rendered much of the globe uninhabitable to most life forms.
But, unfortunately, the meaning behind Obama’s statement and those of the scientific community and political correctness community is far different. Their meaning is that climate change is happening and humans are the cause of it. They scoff at any scientist who disputes their “evidence.” Any scientist is relegated to the trash heap if he espouses theories that don’t coincide with theirs.
It reminds me a lot of how the scientific community treated Copernicus and Gallileo. People, like them, who said the world was anything but flat were obviously not credible “scientists” to those in the scientific and even religious community and were ostracized.
So, beware of those who express with such certainty their scientific conclusions…especially if they are politicians.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
A black political analyst today said the fact that we engage in political correctness is one of the silliest things we could do. The majority of violent crime comes from black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the majority of terrorism comes from Muslim communities. The fact that we don’t profile and we abandon vigorous programs that allow us to be vigilant in those arenas ultimately renders us all less safe. He was speaking about New York’s new mayor’s policy changes in how the police do their job.
The same seems to be happening in Syria. We have pursued a course of restraint and hoped that “deals” could be made to stop the use of deadly sarin gas on people. Today, we hear that deadly chlorine gas is being used instead…and what do we do as a country? We shrug and say oh well and ignore it as acceptable. Where is our leadership here in our country and in the world as well? How can such poor decisions continue to be made?
Consider as well the IRS. We know they have targeted harassment on a political basis on U.S. citizens. Yet few experience sustained outrage. Mark my word, the whole scandal is fading, and by election day, it will be a faint memory like last night’s dream in the light of day. Nothing will be done to change things and hold people accountable.
Somebody once said, what is the job of a politician? I immediately thought that it would be to “see to it that the government protects and addresses the problems and the needs of the people that private enterprise can’t insure successfully in an efficient and economical way.” However, the true answer turns out to be this: the job of a politician is to get reelected. He starts with his first campaign and doesn’t stop (usually until he dies in office or gets such a fat head that his scandals and criminality finally are insupportable by even his or her most ardent supporters.) When you concentrate on that as Job number one 100% of the time, there is no time for the people you represent.
We need to change who represents our interests, how we elect them, and how they are allowed to serve.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I’ve often wondered why Easter Bunnies ever came to be associated with Easter. Have you? I suspect it, like Christmas presents, has become just a way for businesses to make money selling stuff. Perhaps it’s a way to de-center the message of Easter, just like Santa does for Christmas and dilutes the meaning and importance of the celebration. The best attack the enemy can make is from within, and making these holidays meaningless from a spiritual standpoint would be a first priority.
Think about it. How many people put up Christmas trees or have Easter egg hunts without the slightest thought toward what the holiday is all about. Sadly, in American it is probably most people. As for me, I will always be eternally amazed and eternally grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made to come in human form and experience the human condition first hand only to die a gruesome and unjustified death on the cross. I have something as a result that I have not earned and could never possess on my own: Forgiveness for all my shortcomings...and standards to shoot for every day.
Perhaps that Easter bunny represents something useful after all. The bunny gives birth to eggs which have a new life ahead of them. Perhaps that is akin to our rebirth once we accept that the sacrifice that Jesus made was for us and gives us eternal life.
Have A Joyous Easter!
Friday, April 4, 2014
I got a kick out of the fact that the scientific explanations for everything had to ultimately use the word "Created" in describing the beginnings of the universe. The big bang was the "creation" of the universe and all the subsequent events of of planet formation, seas, plant and animal life. What was most interesting to me at the time was that their whole litany of scientific processes in the creation of the world fell right in line with the Biblical account that was formulated without the benefit of "science." It's an amazingly consistent description, and yet this doesn't seem remarkable to the scientific community that is so bent on debasing the Biblical viewpoint on creation.
Ultimately, the one thing they can't seem to come up with is what was the unknown and indescribably powerful cause that initiated the "big bang." They admit that, but they can't admit God.
Scientists never cease to amaze me with their denseness.