Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on 2008

Is it over? Can I come out from under the bed now? Am I the only one who sees 2008 as one of the most bizarre of a lifetime?

There are two distinctly different ways to view the final turning of the calendar page at the end of the year. One is deep regret to see the circumstances and events relegated to memory; the other is the posture of good riddance of bad rubbish. Depending on your personal situation, you will probably assign one or the other and enjoy this New Year’s Eve with feelings of loss or heightened anticipation of the future.

As a family, we have much to be thankful for this year. In a land of capricious weather, we were not subject to anything which we could not deal with. Few terrifying storms interrupted the sanctity of our little paradise in the Ozarks. Early on we had considerable rain which turned the property into a veritable Eden. The Spring golf season at Honey Creek was disturbed by several holes closed on the back nine for nearly two months. The upside was my return, on a part time basis, to work in the club house.

There are several features which shall probably fix 2008 firmly in our minds as reference points of memory. The first is it shall forever be remembered as “the year of the perpetual election.” The downside was the presence of constant strife. The upside was the heightened awareness by the electorate of the machinations of government. Who can possibly claim that he knows less about those who would lead than he did in January? Whether this exercise in citizenship bears any useful fruit remains to be seen.

The second was the revelation of how fragile our economy was, is, and may in the future prove to be. If the powers that be manage to understand the year’s events and then take corrective action, we shall prosper and come out stronger. If they continue with their selfish agenda driven hocus-pocus, we shall all suffer. Simple solutions to complex problems are not always readily available and I do believe that “trail and error” is an inappropriate path to success. The most important question raised in the entire mess is one which has plagued me for decades: what is it about October which brings the fulmination of financial crisis? The tipping point for fiscal disaster of nearly every magnitude seems to occur about that time of year in each circumstance.

The third, which affected every one of Zion Beckons readers, is the radical fluctuation in the price of some commodities. The most obvious was the seemingly unchecked rise in the cost of fuel followed by the free fall to low levels of historic proportions. Although I believe I do understand the factors involved in both the rise and the fall of these prices; observations of the free market can still leave you scratching your head. A lesser cited rise in prices without an accompanying fall was that of food stuffs; particularly beef. One sees no relief on that front until the subsidies for alternative fuel combinations is abandoned.

The fourth feature of 2008 which is worthy of note is that it shall be come known as the year that the corruption of politicians reached a new low. You have your own concept of which was the most audacious example of public figures betraying the trust placed in them. I have already noted most of them with emphasis on my favorite examples. Fittingly, one of them, Rod Blagojevich, chose this week to appoint Burris to fill the seat in the senate vacated by “The One” over the objections of nearly everybody but his pizza delivery guy. Thus the year 2008 ends on a consistent note.

All in all, I don’t believe that we can claim to have suffered excessively over this last year. So far, I see little evidence we are affected too much by anything that has happened over the preceding twelve months. I will admit that keeping 3 Explorers (one never leaves the property) fed, licensed, insured and maintained seemed an excess but, they are a joy in foul weather. The creation of the new deck has proven a joy as well. Our critters have kept us comforted and the dogs, especially, have made exponential progress in bringing joy to our lives. The cats continue to be cats.

This seems an appropriate time to acknowledge our faithful readers and thank you for your continued interest: without you—nothing. I shall close with a quote from the last Monday Morning Rant of 2007 which I believe is as appropriate for this day as it was then:

“While I don’t pretend to be an able prognosticator, there are a few things which I believe you can count on in the coming year. If we hold fast to the scriptures, we will have our plans for doing His will in our grasp. If we can offer our opinions in a spirit of love for the hearer, we will become more persuasive. If we can love our God with all our might and mind and will, all will be well.”

Happy New Year!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 71

Let us start the Rant today with what I consider some the very best news I have seen come out of the Middle East in years. According to an ABC news report, the new Iraqi government has legitimized Christmas by declaring it a legal holiday. The decision affects only about 1% of the country’s 26 million citizens but stands out as an accommodation within the nation of a faith other than Islam. Many Christians had been reduced to living in isolated ghettos well away from large population centers and public worship services had been spotty at best.

I am excited because it demonstrates yet one more step in the maturation of the new powers that be in Iraq. The cornerstone of every working democracy needs be tolerance of people of all faiths to worship as they please without government intervention. As an ever increasing accumulation of rights is granted to the people they then have opportunity for growth within the legitimate framework of nations. I applaud ABC for bringing it to our attention and recognize it for the groundbreaking event that it is.

Christmas Aftermath

Christmas 2008 has now been relegated to history and we are now left with only the memories. Depending on what largesse you were expecting to receive, you may now either be disappointed or elated. If you are either, you didn’t understand the holiday. I am reminded of that venerable football ritual just as the game begins. The captains and the referees gather at mid-field, toss a coin, and determine who shall kick off and who shall receive. Substitute “give” for “kick off” and the analogy becomes clear The designated receivers are overjoyed to have the first possession and often, the advantage.

Unlike the football game, life is not necessarily a “zero sum” game. Often we find the longer lasting joy of the gift interchange to be on the side of the giver. Long after the gift is broken and cast aside, he still has the memory of the elation the receiver showed upon receipt. He remembers the kiss on the cheek, the pat on the back, or the tear in the eye of the one who found his/her heart’s desire in the package. He has the joy of sharing.

When I returned from Germany in 1955, my duffle bag was packed with items I had picked up for relatives and friends at home. Among them was a 3” replica of a Mercedes-Benz sedan in chrome, with wire wheels, full steering and a wind-up key. It was a gift for my brother who was thirteen at the time. Throughout the years, this handsome toy car occupied a place of prominence in his home and finally on his desk.. Fifty-three years later, upon his death last January, his widow graciously sent it home with me. I keep it on a prominent place on my desk as the same constant reminder of our mutual respect and love.

I cite this only as a reminder of how long lasting a caring gift may be. I have no memory of having made a great sacrifice obtaining the gift but I take consolation in having provided a gift which reflected thought on his heart’s desire; all of this from a toy car.

Plan B?

Like it or not, the congress of the United States seems bent on throwing your money down the rat hole which the US auto industry has become. Oh yes, they are planning on revisiting the on-going problem on the 31st of March and re-evaluating this issue. I’d certainly bet they will do little other than determine that the auto makers require yet more money with little restructuring of their business model.

About the only bright side of this matter is a priceless quote which was printed on the opinion page of the New York Times. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader (ed.--of the senate), warned on Thursday that “a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take everything we have.”

Obama baby boom?

Given the exuberance of the victors in the recent election it was posited that a possible “baby boom” might ensue. It was reasoned that the Obama enthusiasts might carry their political joys into their bedrooms and carry on their celebration there. Mark Hemmingway, who was questioned on the matter at National Review, had these remarks in response:

"Well, once again we have a reporter who flunked statistics:

Because variances in birth rate are an ordinary phenomenon, spikes in the number of births will occasionally coincide with a newsworthy event that took place three-quarters of a year earlier. Those who cling to the belief in blackout babies fail to accept that the same communities they point to as proof of the theory saw even greater leaps in number of births in years that weren't preceded by memorable events. Blackouts, snowstorms, and the like are more usually followed by perfectly ordinary birth rates nine months afterwards, but because human nature is what it is, we tend to remember only the events that fit the pattern we're determined to see and unconsciously discard all the rest, Thus, we'll recall that the Great Storm of 1983 was followed by a deluge of babies in the Fall of 1984, but we'll completely forget that the Great Storm of 1987 was followed by a perfectly ordinary turnout at the maternity hospitals in the Fall of 1988, or that the Great Baby Boom at the end of 1999 wasn't presaged by anything unusual that occurred in the Spring of 1999.

Such a query does; however, seem to confirm that no one was more turned on by Obama's victory than the media.”

And finally

We seem to have seen some resolutions to problems which have plagued our little paradise here in the Ozarks. I’m feeling better, the internet connection is feeling better, my bride is feeling better and the dogs are unaware that anything was wrong in the first place. The cats are manning the most favorable positions at my desk, looking out the windows at the bird feeders and salivating. The temperature has increased to the point that golf is a strong possibility today. Life is good and more importantly; God is good. He has set a high standard but I really do believe it is worth pursuing.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, December 26, 2008

Radio Flyer

If you are just plain fed up and sick of reading my take on the current “depression” and whining that folks don’t really know what a depression is all about; don’t read further. Actually, thanks to the efforts of my parents and a lack of comparative knowledge and the eternal optimism of youth, I have little memory of personal depravation. About the only area in which I have an active memory of lacking the basic necessities of life was the absence of a Radio Flyer coaster wagon under the Christmas tree.

That venerable and essential tool of childhood never did make an appearance. It was especially biting on my seventh Christmas in 1939 when my cousin (ugh!) –a year younger—managed to score one under the tree. Never mind that I was covered up with Tinker Toys, Erector sets, wood burning kits, hats, gloves, socks and wonderful stimulating little books; I didn’t manage the “big” one. That stinging memory still burns in my breast and detracts from an otherwise wonderful childhood. My parents, although personally incompatible, treated me as a person favored by God. A condition I continue to enjoy which has, thankfully, not abated in the intervening years.

My lack of personal ownership of this cherished icon did not bar me from enjoying the use of ones which my close friends possessed. There were so many that our favorite occupations were parades, cavalcades, convoys and any other formations our fertile minds could originate. We loaded them as buses, dog carriers, covered wagons heading west, and on hills of appropriate height, racers. After December 7th, ’41, they—with the addition of a piece of stove pipe—became artillery pieces, tanks, personnel carriers, and generally, the precursor of the ubiquitous “jeep.” Its utile simplicity encouraged the imagination to furnish a transition to whatever was demanded by the occasion.

Once WWII was underway, they became the vehicle of choice for the collection of waste metal, old newspapers, and whatever else was required for doing our part to help out in the war effort. The government realized the foolishness of sending scrap metal to Japan to be recast as weapons of war and we all enlisted, with wagons, in the effort to obtain critical discarded materiel for our own factories. Every grocery outlet had a place to park the wagons for the pull home laden with groceries—driving to the store was a waste of gas. They were also a useful, if unstable, platform to enable their height-challenged owners to gain a better view at various rallies, war bond drives and other public gatherings.

When the hostilities ceased and the surviving owners aged, they found peace and comfort in using their dependable childhood toy as garden carts and tool caddies in their new lives as veterans in the emerging “homes of their own.” They were then passed on to their progeny in the baby boom and found new life firing the imaginations of the young.

Progress—or provable evolution—has now provided us with what is considered by the manufacturer to be the “final” step in their newest offering of this old stand-by. In a world now consumed with the use of poly carbonates, we find the absolute latest edition of my childhood favorite.

Seat belts?!? Cup holders?!? Have I become such a cantankerous old dyspeptic that I cannot see this as the marvel which it is? The tires are pneumatic and mounted on axles which actually have bearings and grease zirks. They have provided every possible safety feature thus depriving the user of the opportunity of the injuries so common on the learning curve of my generation. I am certain that no statistics were ever kept on the broken arms, contusions from roll-overs, and other mishaps so common with the original. I am not the “market” for this item so the manufacturer is not in the least concerned with my response to this travesty.

I do have faith in the youth of America, and for that matter, the world, that they will find a way to supercede the safety and turn this wonder into a wagon. Kids today have variant interests from my generation but they are still kids. They have imaginations to turn this thing into a space ship or whatever they choose. Some things are inescapable. Thank God!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Luke 2:1-11

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all his empire should be taxed.

2 This same taxing was when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.

3 And all went to be taxed, every one in his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.)

5 To be taxed, with Mary his espoused wife, she being great with child.

6 And so it was, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was none to give room for them in the inns.

8 And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

9 And lo, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid.

10 But the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

In His abiding love

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 70

(OK, so it’s Wednesday; just continue reading…..)

Monday was a beautiful day. I was completely filled with a good spirit and ready to resume my normal activity. A busy weekend, interrupted by a trip to Independence to be with old, faithful friends of the orthodox Saints variety, had left me in a marvelous mood. The gathering was instigated by an east coast friend and further punctuated by telephone calls from those who could not conveniently travel long distances on short notice. To hear their cheery voices and have some brief contact was wonderful. I returned through the 7º night with a heart full of hope and excitement.

On the trip up and back (350 miles) I had plenty of alone time and an opportunity to review the Sunday sermon taken from (where else?) Luke. My mind was filled with thoughts of the young mother who had conceived under circumstances which had probably left her confused. Although selected by God she could not be faulted for having unanswered questions about her circumstance. As usual, His choice was more than up to the job. I also contemplated the thoughts of her alleged perfection. She was obviously a great mother, a wonderful person, a guide and a superb director of the life she was charged with but, being human, was also subject to sin. She was human. Were she not, the entire exercise would lose its validity. This is not a criticism but rather an acknowledgement that as humans, we share the capacity for sin. It’s something to keep in mind as we pursue our daily lives.

Once I arrived home, I went to the computer and tidied up the “Rant” a bit for posting on Monday morning. I then retired for the sleep of the just. One little problem arose; I found my concept of “just” was not shared by my computer. On awakening, I found all my systems in near complete disarray. With one slight errant click, I managed to delete the “Rant” into the black hole of memory loss. In an attempt at recovery, I discovered my internet service had gone to live elsewhere. At the same time, the entire system came up fuzzy and I was invited to use “SAFE MODE” to reinstate it. This is not my idea of a good time. After two days (!) the system is not yet operating at the speed I desire but it is operating. This has to be a result of divine intervention because I certainly don’t possess the skills to make the change. Now I shall attempt to remember what was so important that I regretted the loss.

More on Chris Dodd

The senator from Connecticut has been dilly dallying now for about five months in gathering a response on the particulars of the mortgage he received from Country Wide. You may recall that as a “friend of Angelo,” he is accused of accepting an exceptional favorable rate on his indebtedness on his personal residence. His denials have been met with a request to see the application for the mortgage. Perhaps he has misplaced the papers.

Personally, I have a small mortgage on my property here in the wilds of the Ozarks. If I were to stand up and turn left, take one step and open the overhead cabinet, I would see a large manila envelope which contains copies of all the mortgage papers. Actually, there are three such envelopes of about the same size for each of my preceding loans which I had on property in Las Vegas and before that, Wisconsin. I am not the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee but if I were, I would be profoundly embarrassed to not be able to come up with confirmation of the loan particulars. Perhaps some folks are more easily embarrassed than others.

Reminder from the time machine

Does this sound familiar? “I did not have conversational relations with that Governor, Rod Blagojevich”

Observations on the auto bailout

The following is from Mark Steyn by way of Instapundit:

“Can you still see the USA in your Chevrolet? Through a windscreen darkly..

General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath And Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of just over two billion dollars. For purposes of comparison, Toyota’s market cap is one hundred billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small loss-making auto subsidiary.. The UAW is the AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as “workers” (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people. . . .

So many areas of endeavor that once embodied the youth and energy of this great land are now old and sclerotic. I include, naturally, my own industry. I loved the American newsrooms you saw in movies like The Front Page, full of hardboiled, hard-livin’ newspapermen. By the time I got there myself, there were no hardboiled newspapermen, just bland anemic newspaperpersons turning out politically correct snooze sheets of torpid portentousness. The owners of The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune recently filed for bankruptcy protection. . . .

See the USA from your Chevrolet: An hereditary legislature, a media fawning its way into bankruptcy, its iconic coastal states driving out innovators and entrepreneurs, the arrival of the new Messiah heralded only by the leaden dirge of “We Three Kings Of Ol’ Detroit Are/Seeking checks we traverse afar”, and Route 66 looking ever more like a one-way dead-end street to Bailoutistan. Boy, I sure could use a poem by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis right now, even one of the lesser-loved ones.”

Reynolds comments; “Ouch. Well, things got worse because people — politicians, and their enablers — made ‘em worse. They’ll get better when people make ‘em better.”

And finally

The bird feeders (actually, 2-liter bottles) are all full for the voracious feathery creatures who occupy the view over the new deck and cause me so much delight. I often wonder about the charge that “he/she eats like a bird.” The intention is to describe an individual who scarcely eats. Obviously, a person who says this has never actively attempted to feed birds and keep the feeders full. The feeders are designed for birds the size of the finches but that doesn’t discourage the full grown cardinals from trying to hang on to that precarious perch. It’s hard to miss their colorful presence.

Again, my apologies for the computer mess. It is our prayer that each of you may enjoy the fullness of the season with emphasis on the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is, without doubt, the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Capitol Idea

Lost in the publicity over Illinois politics, bailouts for banking and industry, and the preparations for the upcoming inauguration are a couple of items which I think are worthy of some considerations. The first to come to mind is the new visitor center in our nation’s capital, or more specifically, at our nation’s new Capitol Visitor Center.

In the early nineties, it was proposed that we create a welcome area adjacent to or underneath the existing building to receive the tens of thousands of visitors to the venerable building which in itself is ill prepared to host them. The original building was not intended as a museum but rather a work place for our elected representatives. After all, the building only had five restrooms. The suggested cost was a measly $71 million. The Republicans fought the proposal as wasteful and it was left to another day.

In 1998, you may recall a crazed gunman entered the building and killed two Capitol Police officers and the center was again suggested as a result of concern for increased security. This time it was approved for about $100 million. In the wake of cost overrides and unexpected additional features the cost rose to $265 million over the next two years. With anthrax attacks and other issues subsequent to 9/11, security concerns increased and the cost rose to $373.5 million.

The center opened finally on December 2 and the final bill—hold on to your hat--$621 million. That is nearly nine times as much as the original estimate in the nineties. The next time any politician mentions a number as the proposed costs of a vital program you might want to keep these relationships of estimates in mind. Personally, I labor long to pre-estimate the cost of a building project and they seldom come in within the budget. They are not subject to a 9X differential however. The 20% I add to cost projections for contingencies would be laughably unrealistic on Capitol Hill.

Were the cost overruns not enough, the displays and exhibits are rife with error and the usual attempts at political correctness. The chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) said, “There’s a terrible movement to rewrite our history and obscure our faith.” He was, no doubt, in part reacting to false identification of the national motto as e pluribus unum instead of “In God We Trust” which was established by Congress in 1956. The tendency within the displayed materials to downplay the faith of the founders and be actively hostile to any expression of religion is prevalent.

The removal of expressions of faith is not limited to the CVC but also is an ongoing assault on monuments throughout the city. In typical fashion the new memorial to FDR omits any mention of God. On the even newer WWII memorial, a quote by Eisenhower is abbreviated just before his invocation of “the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” (From his remarks on the eve of D-Day.)

I suppose we shouldn’t carp about the cost of this boondoggle since it ensures that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will not have to endure the smell of the great unwashed who come to visit “their” building. Yes Senator, the building is not yours; it belongs to us, poor hygiene and all.

When Jim DeMint (R-SC) toured the hall, he complained; “There was an obvious absence of any accurate historical reference to our religious heritage.” He added, on the floor of the Senate: “In touring the CVC, I found the exhibits to be politically correct, left-leaning, and secular in nature.” On September 27th, he was quoted as saying; “There seems to be a trend to whitewashing God out of our history.

As one might expect, the halls are full of exhibits and tributes to a full range of diversified “American Heroes.” There are celebrations of race, gender, and the full mix of the American experience. Apparently it was felt that an exhibit about the longest serving woman in Congress was more important than God. Edith Norse Rogers' accomplishment was of course, important, but hardly as important as the Almighty. There is a display concerning the impeachment of Andrew Johnson but curiously, no similar display on the impeachment of Wm. Jefferson Clinton. Naturally, Earth Day, an ACTUP protest on AIDS funding and miscreants at the Pentagon during the Viet Nam War are there in huge color photos. Throwing a bone to the participants in the War in Viet Nam, they have shown a photo of a woman standing at a gravesite, captioned; “a nation continued to mourn its fallen soldiers of the Vietnam conflict. The war claimed over 58,000 casualties.” Closer inspection of the photo reveals that the veteran actually died in 1982, seven years after the end of hostilities. He had been a veteran of three wars. The 58,000 were not casualties; that figure numbered the dead in that struggle. The numbers of casualties were exponentially higher.

In a hall where the overall sense is denial of the Almighty, inaccuracy in simple reporting, and celebration of questionable heroes is the rule, might we evaluate the quality of the legislative bodies that call it home by those standards? Perhaps we got off easy. The apportioned cost when we pro-rate it to each citizen comes to a little over $2 apiece. Next time you are in DC, drop by and enjoy the air conditioned comfort, the 530 seat restaurant, the 26 restrooms and the two orientation theaters. Try not to concentrate too much on what you might have done with $621,000,000.00 to improve the lives of every day Americans.

In an article by John J. Miller, we find this wry comment; “Congress’s memorial to itself isn’t even good enough for government work.” John, I seriously doubt that anyone inside the beltway finds that phrase in common usage but you are absolutely right.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Doctor’s Observation

Despite this being one of the very busiest seasons of the year, my email buddies manage to keep my inbox full of inspiring items. I thank all of you who forward that which you consider important. The following is no exception:


A couple of days ago I was running (I use that term very loosely) on my treadmill, watching a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio. He (Louie) was talking about how inconceivably big our God is. How He spoke the universe into being. How He breathes stars out of His mouth that are huge raging balls of fire...etc. Etc. Then He went on to speak of how this star-breathing, universe creating God also knitted our human bodies together with amazing detail and wonder. At this point I am loving it (fascinating from a medical standpoint, you know) and I was remembering how I was constantly amazed during medical school as I learned more and more about God' s handiwork.

I remember so many times thinking. . .'How can anyone deny that a Creator did all of this???' Louie went on to talk about how we can trust that the God who created all this, also has the power to hold it all together when things seem to be falling apart. . .how our loving Creator is also our sustainer.He started talking about laminin. I knew about laminin. Here is how Wikipedia describes them: 'Laminins are a family of proteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding of basement membranes in almost every animal tissue.' You see. . .laminins are what hold us together; literally. They are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of our bodies to the next cell. Without them, we would literally fall apart. And I knew all this already. But what I didn't know is what laminin looked like, but now I do.

And I have thought about it a thousand times since.

Here is what the structure of laminin looks like and this is not a 'Christian portrayal' of it. If you look up laminin in any scientific/medical piece of literature, this is what you will see:

Now tell me that our God is not the coolest!!! Amazing!The glue that holds us together-all of us-is in the shape of the cross. Immediately Colossians 1:15-17 comes to mind.

'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,Whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;All things were created by Him and for Him.He is before all things, And in Him all things hold together.'Colossians 1:15-17

Thousands of years before the world knew anything about laminin, Paul penned those words. And now we see that from a very literal standpoint, we are held together. . .one cell to another. . .by the cross. You would never in a quadrillion years convince me that is anything other than the mark of a Creator who knew exactly what laminin 'glue' would look like long before Adam even breathed his first breath!! We praise YOU, Lord! This is simply awesome.

'There is no one so good that he can save himself; Neither is there anyone so bad that God cannot save him.'
Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift: Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God is the object of our faith; the only faith that saves is faith in Him


There you have it. Now go back to wrapping your Christmas presents and baking your cookies.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, December 18, 2008


It is an interesting word which entered the lexicon just before the turn of the twentieth century. Outside the scientific community, it had little currency until the advent of the new religion called “Global Warming.” It is defined by that which is caused in nature by manmade provocation. It has become the operative word in today’s relentless campaign to assign terror to every raindrop, dry spell, and other weather event to identify the evil of men to use the resources God assigned to our care. The entire effort is useless unless man is the designated culprit. Especially, it is necessary to pillory those who would dare to profit from their own labors.

Not everyone takes anthropogenic global warming (AGW) seriously. Some months ago, our regular readers will remember, we furnished a short video to display the talents and good sense of the M4GW organization. That would be Minnesotans for Global Warming. If ever any group of people joyfully awaited the outcome of global warming it would be Minnesotans. They gathered in a ratty trailer with their musical instruments and amid the snows of a typical “gopher” winter, begged for an increase in global temperatures. They were more than willing to trade their hockey sticks for suntan lotion and also their snow covered pines for palm trees.

That noble band has a later edition which you will find delightful. Follow the link, and enjoy their latest effort.

I came across it as I was reading various sources concerning the latest freakish (?) weather throughout the nation. 10” snow in Chicago, ice storms in New England, fog, snow and ice here in the Ozarks, snow above Malibu, and not least we enjoyed reading about the record (greatest since 1979) snow and cold in Las Vegas. A snow which I have confirmed from a reliable source will be gone completely by noon.

Do not miss this video; it is great.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 69

It’s petty, but I couldn’t resist. In my belief that everything is quantifiable I took the research from an article I posted which included Oprah’s annual income of $385 million and combined it with a recent headline announcing her current weight at 200 lbs. This works out to $1,925,000.00 per pound. This in turn results in an annual income per ounce of $60,156.25.

These dollar figures can only increase if she could find a weight loss program that worked.. Now there is a solid reason to watch your food intake and exercise.

I am really ashamed of myself because by using the same formula, my generous frame and niggardly earnings only stimulate an annual income of $3.12 per ounce. Since neither one of us is paid by the pound I probably shouldn’t be concerned.

Lies equal truth?

In an on going assault on truth, the AP has furnished a story which perfectly exemplifies the use of the press as an agent of propaganda. There is little news in the story by Seth Borenstein, other than an absolute verification of the twisted, biased, desire to continue the myth of global warming. The link is included for the sole purpose of allowing you to isolate this near perfect example of their misguided efforts.

The inclusion of false examples, predictions, and assertions of expertise are rank within the piece. It is, in fact, so lacking in balance that the least astute can see the lame attempt to project their self-serving agenda.

Mixed in with the rest of the diatribe is a lame paragraph near the end which makes the observation that the exact opposite of the main message is not supported by data. If you can make it that far, you will find that those comments even attempt to weasel their way around the truth. Richard S. Courtney, a climate and atmospheric science consultant and a UN IPCC expert reviewer ridiculed the AP article and goes through the list. He also labels the article as such: “Rarely have I read such a collection of unsubstantiated and scare-mongering twaddle.”

In another example, Borenstein called upon John Christy of the University of Alabama and claimed that he predicted a sea level rise of nearly 3’. When that assertion was checked out with Christy it was revealed that it was not a quote on the results of global warming but rather an observation about the possibility of storm surge in the aftermath of a hurricane. That is an extremely critical difference. Most third graders recognize that difference.

The message here is quite simple. People lie! If we are unwilling to actually check on what they say then we are the willing victims of their perfidy. Unfortunately, there are many in positions of trust with high sounding tittles (science writer for the Associated Press, formerly with Knight-Ridder) who distribute this bile.


Wasilla Bible Church in Wasilla, Alaska was damaged by a fire Saturday which was allegedly set by an arsonist. Fortunately, the few people inside escaped the million dollar blaze without harm. No one has been named as the perpetrator but there was some speculation that the presence of a prominent national figure in the congregation may have been instrumental in the crime.

In the recent terrorist attacks in India, one of the targets was a Jewish couple and their orthodox missionary branch in Mumbai. They were slain in the presence of their horrified children. One of the purposes of the branch was to provide a safe haven and comfort to visiting Jews in that area.

Although little reported, attacks on black churches, often in the form of arson, has not diminished since the troublesome sixties. They continue apace here in the United States.

These primitive acts are difficult to understand by those who follow the laws and wishes of God. For people of all faiths who worship God and cherish their church home as they do their own, it is impossible to understand the mindset of those who would contrive to do them harm. These evildoers will continue to exist, however, as long as there are people who follow the risen Savior and not men. It does pose some difficult questions.

Do we bother to think of security in our houses of worship? Are we prepared to deal with the various assaults on our sanctuaries? Can we safely assume that no one would ever have aught with us and bring grief to our congregations?

I believe that God will protect the helpless. But, does helpless describe those of us who are able bodied and fit to assume some of the responsibility for the protection of our churches? About a year or so ago, an assailant entered a church in Colorado Springs with the intent to slay some of the congregants. Fortunately, they had anticipated this terrible possibility and had security personnel within the congregation who handled the matter with a vastly lessened loss of life. Being prepared does not lessen our dependence upon God. He does not command us to be as sheep in the presence of wolves. In a perfect world, we may all lie together, but, this is not a perfect world. Our world is fraught with danger and people of evil intent. Some measure of anticipation could well mean the difference between tragedy and tranquility..

And finally

I am a veteran of many-a-church dinner but I will concede in an effort to try out every dish possible I have been known to not quite finish each morsel. Some unfortunate kitchen accident or misstep has been known to render a dish less than pleasant if not inedible. Such was not the case at our dinner in Miami on Sunday. No emperor ever dined as well. The lowly corn stood proudly beside the baked ham in my preference for the next bite. At the close we were challenged with a desert table which literally groaned from excess. There is no doubt that my selection of the apple pie is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“Skip” Robison delivered the message on the vital importance of example teaching our children and it was my pleasure to be seated near him and his wife Jean at our dinner.

My visiting white breasted nuthatch finally settled down long enough to affirm my identification of his species. No doubt lingers and I now wonder how I ever confused him with his cousin the downy woodpecker. In my defense, it is the first nut hatch I have ever positively identified.

Although threatened with an ice storm last night, we caught a break and got some very minor precipitation As a result I can more comfortably refill the bird feeder for the predicted fall of temperature. It’s 13º right now and I am grateful that we have been spared any electrical interruptions.

Please do enjoy your week and continue to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Merry Christmas

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, December 11, 2008

For Sale!

If this requires any further explanation; you are not keeping up on the news of the day.

No further comment is required.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Wal-Mart Success

It is a knee-jerk response on the part of many in the media, academia, and the general collection of elites in our country to defame Wal-Mart at every opportunity. They have been besieged by accusations, lawsuits, union organizers, scam artists, and failed suppliers, in direct proportion to the mammoth size of the company. Although huge in scope, modern in logistics, super efficient in applications and practice, they are in many, many ways, old-fashioned. To millions of citizens, they have been a Godsend.

I have personally been aware of them for about forty years and watched their incredible growth with great interest. Who would ever have dreamed that the tiny village of Bentonville, Arkansas could have spawned the largest company in the United States? I would bet the farm that if anyone can survive our current economic downturn, Wal-Mart will. The reason is simple; they are geared to corporate economy and super efficiency. They also demonstrate a greater sense of community responsibility than any firm that I am aware of.

Typical of their awareness of the individual communities they serve, was their response to the horrors and devastation during the Katrina disaster along the Gulf Coast. We are favored with a comprehensive discussion in a scholarly paper by Stephen Horowitz of St. Lawrence University in New York. The professor offers a dispassionate look at the preparedness that Wal-Mart had in place well before the disaster. This is not a “sound bite” but rather, an in depth look, not just at Wal-Mart’s role, but also a comparison to governmental bodies at the federal, state, and local level. I truly believe, regardless of your opinion of Wal-Mart, you will find the piece revealing. Like any capable scholar, he has supplied ample foot notes to his source material.

To enjoy his enlightening presentation, click here. To read his personal biography, click here.

I mentioned above that I thought the company’s attitude could be described as old-fashioned. I quote from company CEO, Lee Scott, in a high level meeting of executives just prior to the expected disaster. In summation, he said; “This company will respond to the level of this disaster. A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level. Make the best decision that you can with the information that’s available to you at the time, and, above all, do the right thing.”

“Do the right thing.” In the chaos of governmental mis-management, natural disaster, obvious self interest, one can only ask how different it might have been had everyone before, during and after done “the right thing?”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 66

It appears that the federal government is bound and determined to precipitate a full-fledged depression. By supplanting the market forces which have been largely successful in our near continuous rise in every aspect of the economy, it appears that our “betters” in Washington have decided to tweak a little here and regulate a little there until they completely destroy it. In previous visits to this disgusting situation we have had the temerity to suggest that failing businesses be allowed to fail. Obviously, our postings are not well read in D.C. or else ignored. Imagine that!

As predicted, in lieu of the bread lines and pencil sellers littering the nation’s sidewalks, we have long lines of mendicants, hats in hand, and Lear jets parked at Washington National Airport, awaiting the next round of handouts from the Treasury Department. They are pestering their congressional representatives from their home districts to intervene on their behalf to generate a few billion in “walking around” money to tide them over. There is little good news in any of this but, ever the eternal optimist, I did manage to extract a little bit.

It appears that the greatest concentrations of distress in the housing markets are situated in the former “bubble” states which experienced extreme inflation in price over the last decade. For example, areas of California, southern Nevada, the urban Northeast and nearly anywhere that shortages in living space drove the prices up. Rural locations or just about anywhere lacking concentrations of the usual urban amenities are seemingly unaffected as severely. Small local banks are still willing to advance mortgage money to well qualified buyers. As I look at the comprehensive data supplied by the statisticians we use to keep track of the readership, I am happy to report that most of you live in areas which are relatively unaffected. Yes, we have readers in some hard hit areas, but they are definitely in the minority.

If I were not technically challenged, I would attempt to construct templates of the U.S. maps which show both the electoral outcomes of the last couple of elections and the same areas, by county, which currently have the greatest distress. For further interest, I would also supply the “gas temperature” map which demonstrates, by county, where one is most likely to experience both the highs and the lows of fuel prices. If it were available, I could probably add the same maps showing the incidence of violent crime. When they were all assembled, you would immediately notice a remarkable similarity. They are for the most part identical. High density urban areas are host to the worst characteristics demonstrated by these graphics. We rubes who occupy the sticks have problems but they pale to insignificance in comparison.

Further, I would suggest we might add, if it were possible, another map which showed the presence of practicing evangelicals to the mix (or lack, thereof) and really get the ACLU’s undies in a bundle. While I don’t find these relationships in the least surprising I am alarmed that the geniuses who manage things are supposedly surprised. Since I am old enough to remember the feel of a ruler on the back of my hand for misdeeds in a school room, I can also remember when they taught geography, and concentrations of every social construct was illustrated with maps to enhance our understanding of not only our nation but also the world. Soon enough, we shall all die off and leave the way clear for our educational establishment to teach their “self esteem” and “self-realization” unimpeded by our constant nagging about readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic.

Meanwhile, for those of you clinging to your guns and your Bibles who still see your local Wal-Mart as a “department store”, you probably won’t actually suffer all that much. For the rest of you who can easily see a Starbucks from your porch; we shall all pray for you.

Oogedy Boogedy

Kathleen Parker garnered far more attention than she deserved with the proposals she offered in her syndicated column on the religious right. Like most sympathetic liberals (she would no doubt prefer the softer word, progressives) she has some helpful advice for the Republican Party. As I read her words I see her encouraging the GOP to abandon faith based arguments and practitioners in favor of purely secular points of view.

She offers as part of her evidence, the now famous “debate” between Obama and McCain under the auspices of Rick Warren at his church. When one agrees to a format with a pastor in his church and both men clearly understood the who and the where, are we supposed to believe that a question on faith would come as a surprise? In the case of both individuals I am certain that they would not have agreed if they didn’t each see the potential for an advantage in that venue. As it turned out, “The One” was flummoxed by the lack of a teleprompter and hopelessly unprepared to deal with issues of faith.

Actually, I clearly understand where she is coming from. If one has Christ in his life, he truly has Christ “IN” his life. His presence is inescapable. He cannot be temporarily put upon a shelf to wait patiently until we feel He can be safely brought down for worship. He is either acknowledged or He isn’t. For non-believers this must be very difficult to understand. For those of us to whom the Savior is an actual living entity, we have the evidence we require (healing, counsel, discernment, direction, testimony, etc.) to establish the reality of the risen Christ. Barring that, oogedy boogedy may seem an adequate description.

By citing Jim Bakker, she makes a common error; she assumes that all Christians are free from sin. In fact, the practicing Christian fully realizes the presence of sin in his life and seeks constantly to repair the damage done to his relationship with God. While I don’t see Mr. Bakker as a role model for me personally—I have many others—he has paid the price for his foolishness and it is not my job to render judgment.

It was very thoughtful of her to offer advice to her sworn adversaries, the Republicans, on how not to couch their presentations with any religious context. I certainly hope their leadership gives her criticism the importance it deserves.

Another sterling Sunday

The day was crisp and cold. With a brilliant sun and a cloudless day, the drive to Oklahoma for church was absolutely delightful. When I arrived, I found the sanctuary as dark as a movie theater. The only lights were the tiny Christmas bulbs wound through the greenery at the altar and the poinsettia tree. As I stumbled down the aisle to find my usual place I gradually noted there were indeed people in the room. Once I became accustomed to the lack of illumination, I found it an ideal atmosphere for serious contemplation. I later found it to be a sort of memorial service as members came forward to remember important people in their lives, now departed, and placed their names on the plants that made up the tree. It was a moving experience.

Once I returned home, I continued my quest to identify a newcomer to the bird feeders. It is either a downy woodpecker or a white-breasted nuthatch. They are remarkably similar, sharing a distinctive narrow black crest and very similar patterns on the wings. They are extremely skittish around the squadron of finches which have dominated the feeders. When one arrives, I grab for the binoculars to get a closer look and have about 2.3 seconds to examine the little critter before the gold finches chase him off.

One other observation before I close; the jays that feed off the birdseed on the ground have shown a remarkable talent. When disturbed, they manage a near vertical ascent to the adjacent tree branches. Having carefully examined the feeding area and the branches I find they cannot do this by varying more that 10º off dead vertical. Again, I pause to wonder what part of the “big bang” they used to learn how to do this.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do You Know the Preamble for Your state?

The following crossed my desk and I found it extremely interesting. It devolves the discussion of Divinity and its role in government. Here you have an opportunity to discover whom the founders of your state relied upon for guidance.

Alabama 1901, Preamble We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution. . .

Alaska 1956, Preamble We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution. . .

Arkansas 1874, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government. . .

California 1879, Preamble We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom. . .

Colorado 1876, Preamble We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe . . .

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.

Florida 1885, Preamble We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution. . .

Georgia 1777, Preamble We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution. . .

Hawaii 1959, Preamble We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance ... Establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings

Illinois 1870, Preamble We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties. . .

Louisiana 1921, Preamble We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity .. And imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty. . .

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction.

Michigan 1908, Preamble We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness. Establish this Constitution. . .

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution. . .

Nebraska 1875, Preamble We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom. Establish this Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution. . .

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

New Mexico 1911, Preamble We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. . .

New York 1846, Preamble We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those. . .

North Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain.. . .

Ohio 1852, Preamble We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common.

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance. . .

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing. . .

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties. . .

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience. . .

Texas 1845, Preamble We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God

Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man.

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other

Washington 1889, Preamble We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution

West Virginia 1872, Preamble Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God. . .

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility. . .

Wyoming 1890, Preamble We, the people of the State of Wyoming , grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe the ACLU and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong! If you found this to be 'Food for thought' copy and send to as many as you think will be enlightened as I hope you were.

(Please note that at no time is anyone told that they MUST worship God.)

'Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.' - William Penn

One wonders if the ACLU has ever bothered to read any of these. Merry Christmas!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oxy “morons”

The comedian, George Carlin, made oxymoron a household word. We all remember “giant-shrimp,” “military-intelligence,” and others which demonstrated a contradiction within a term. It is my firm belief that we should add “sophisticated New Yorkers” to the list. Don’t get me wrong; of the many trips I have made to the city, I have seen much kindness, consideration and outright friendliness on the part of the inhabitants. I have also seen some attributes which were not understandable to my mid-western mind set.

Perhaps the hardest to deal with is the attitude that the world revolves around New York City. When you believe you are the center of the universe when in fact you probably haven’t been farther than Jersey City in your perusal of the balance of the planet, it’s hard to take you seriously. On one trip I made the acquaintance of a life long resident whose closest encounter with the Statue of Liberty was from the Staten Island Ferry on a singular trip to visit his aunt. He learned its significance and history from me.

There is a general belief that being the financial capital of the world, there is an understanding of that complicated discipline which is impossible to acquire unless you actually live in the city. The ins and outs of the market, the complicated real estate exchanges, the corporate structures, arbitrage, futures markets and rest are well beyond the ken of rubes from the other 49 states, let alone the rest of the world. Although never actually stated, I have long felt that any question regarding markets would be met with the response, “you wouldn’t understand, it has to do with finance.”

You can only imagine the delight I took in reading this story from the New York Daily News. You have to read it to believe it. They stole the Empire State Building! They took bogus documents, a thirty-five dollar notary stamp, and transferred the property to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is “stolen” spelled backward.

Do read this piece because it is a priceless prank which demonstrates that not everything in NYC is as sophisticated as the denizens would have you believe.

Yes, after they made their point, they did give the building back.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are we smart enough to be citizens?

We have available on this site this morning, the USCIS test which is administered to prospective new citizens. It consists of 100 questions about American civics and history. The requirements to pass the test are ridiculously low. For example: naming three of the thirteen original colonies earns a passing grade on that question. If, however, you are unfamiliar with our distinguished history and civics, the low bar seems fair. After all, these folks did not have the advantage of a stellar education in America’s public schools.

The answers are given immediately after the questions so if you choose to read through the test you will gently be reminded of the facts. The test, in actuality, is given orally so the student is not challenged to have mastery of the English language. It is even printed in several other languages, popular among emigrants.

As I read through, it came to mind that the same test might be fairly administered to those persons who claim to be prepared to vote in our elections. I can only wish it were possible to see the results of American voting citizens vs. newcomers to the United States. Check out the test and then we’ll discuss it further.

In daily conversations I am reminded of how hopelessly illiterate we are about our history and matters constitutional. Absent capable civic minded instructors, many of these could be countered by “dinner table” learning. Do people still eat together?

Those who operate as “families” are far more likely to have serious discussions of issues than those who simply “roost” in the family home. I am referring here to those who sleep, sometimes eat, tend to personal hygiene, and use their homes for personal storage of goods and chattels. Family interchange is for them not the most important priority. Do we actually discuss matters of current interest? Was election talk “off limits?” Is faith a topic of conversation? Since they are all inter-related, do we seek their relationship?

Although I wish the standards were higher, I applaud the test and welcome those who can pass it and wish them well as new citizens. Given our history, we need to encourage the best and the brightest to come join us and share this marvelous country and its opportunities. I shall reserve my criticism to those who are natural born persons who have little knowledge of the gift of their birth here. To have the best the world has to offer and still not understand it is unconscionable.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 66

There is a special sadness to be seen in what Mark Steyn calls the “upside down” family tree. It is a fairly recent phenomenon caused by a declining birthrate, abetted by free abortion tolerance, in the “free” world. In essence, it is caused by having four grandparents, two parents and one child as the survivor with the family name. Having witnessed this firsthand as the lone survivor, I rejoice in the reverse effect in my own experience by having now, twenty grandchildren. May God bless my children and their willingness to procreate. Now our family tree more closely resembles an hourglass.

Other societies are not so fortunate. Japan, Russia, Spain and other stable “democratic” countries have experienced severe declines in their live birth rate. Some have even taken the matter public to encourage the increase in their population by natural means. A recent study in Japan of couples under 50 revealed a near total disinterest in the activities which would reverse the trends in the downward spiraling birth cycles.

Spain, nearly universally Catholic has had similar problems, augmented by the convenience and availability of abortion. Nearly a fifth of all pregnancies (18%) now end in abortion with the number climbing to 31% for second time pregnancies. They still have a credible rate compared to Russia which reports termination of all fetuses at nearly two thirds. Although I am presenting an abundance of percentages it would be well to not think in those terms but rather envision these precious lives being so cavalierly tossed aside. Each one is a gift from our Creator to people the earth and work to His glory.

We have absolutely no control over the doings of other nations and we should not. We do have a voice in our own destiny, however, and we need to be constantly alert to the ever increasing legislation and court decisions affecting our own. Not only is the practice a direct affront to God Almighty it is also damaging to our nation and its prospects for the future.

Is God great, or what?

I made a night time trip to Monett Saturday night to get a replacement battery for one of the cars. The critters were out in the cold drizzling rain in grand abundance. It was the usual suspects: coons, cats, opossums, 1 fox, 1 deer, and a couple who were quick enough to remain unidentified. They all had one very important feature in common. Each came equipped with brilliant reflective eyes. The size and color of the reflections varied but each had a very visible identifier.

As a result, I was able to avoid contact and will now continue to enjoy them on the next trip. I find it amazing that God in his design wisdom anticipated the headlights on our fast moving cars and equipped his creatures with such a marvelous warning device. I never cease to marvel at the preparations he built into all creatures to exist and thrive in the world He made.

More problems for Charlie Rangel

It appears that Rep. Charles Rangel of New York has accumulating problems which are about to reach the tipping point. It is well past time for some action to be taken.

His previous infractions were on personal income tax issues and abuse of valuable parking space in an official parking place. While these are inappropriate for a committee chairman they didn’t rise to the level of dismissal. The latest is another matter. It appears he has become involved in granting a favor to an oil company in exchange for support of a pet project to the tune of about a million bucks. To read the whole story, click here.

Mrs. Pelosi doesn’t seem the least concerned about any of it. Apparently this is business as usual in the House she controls and she has nary a discouraging word. While we taxpayers are being played for chumps, this scofflaw continues to rake it in and mis-report the income.

Corporate greed?

The most popular game in the media and among politicians is to attack the pay structure of corporate executives. Do they actually dominate the list of top money earners in the country; how about an untried professional who has just been picked in one of sport’s annual drafts? A fresh college graduate with the ink still wet on his degree, with appropriate skills can demand multi-year contracts in the neighborhood of $50 million dollars as the top pick for various individual teams. Player after player has received annual contracts over eight (8) figures. These are men and women who have never scored a point for any professional team in their lives.

I checked out the list of Hollywood couples and came up with a list of the top earners. Try these on for size: Beyonce Knowles/Jay Z--$162,000,000, Will Smith/Juda Pinkett Smith--$160,000,000, and David Beckham/Victoria--$58,000,000. I realize I am well behind the entertainment curve, but I have only heard of one of those six. I am more than willing to concede they are all probably very talented and likely very nice people. The question remains however, because of their kingly earnings need we accuse them of greed?

If we visit some TV personalities we find Oprah, the queen, at $385,000,000 annually, American Idol’s Simon Cowell at $45 million, Judge Judy at $30 million and Katie Couric at $15 million. For those who are on weekly shows we find they are paid by the episode with CSI’s William Petersen leading with $500,000 per, Charlie Sheen at $350,000 and seven others paid in excess of $200,000 each. Not bad for somebody reading someone else’s lines.

So, what do our executives actually earn? We came up with an average of $5,781,300 for the three hundred top executives in the country. The list was led by the little known Lawrence Coss of Green Tree financial at just over $100 million. Seems like a lot of money doesn’t it? Before you break out the torches and pitchforks I would suggest you take a look at how these pay packages are computed. There is a nominal (?) basic salary and then the perks begin. Some are minor; health insurance, pension, company plane etc. The big item is the stock options and outright inclusion. This ownership symbol is a serious driver for the executive to achieve ever greater wealth for the company inasmuch as he now has a vested interest in its performance. Given the current condition of the stock market is anyone crying crocodile tears for these folks and the equity depreciation they have no doubt suffered? A rising tide lifts all boats and we might point out an ebb tide also lowers all boats—including yachts of the rich. On average, a million dollars worth of stock is now worth only $600,000, and possibly even much less. If the exec's company has managed to maintain a higher equity I would suggest he is a worthy recipient.

If you are a politician wishing to taint an industry with an eye toward additional taxation and control, the executive salary is a great reference point. If you are a biased media source you will be equally anxious to continue the fiction. Heavens to Betsy, people, you don’t want them to attack Oprah do you?

Final thoughts

The snow was gently falling on Sunday night. Fortunately, I bought another twenty pounds of bird seed for the aviary. We shall now see how well the Jays do picking seeds from the snow covered ground.

I felt safe enough to believe that my little spat with coughing and general congestion was no longer contagious and went to Miami to share with the Saints. It was, as usual, uplifting and an experience I was delighted to share with about a dozen little kids. I am always pleased to see so many youngsters. Most congregations I see have an abundance of oldsters so it was a pleasant change. I am certain that God sees this as a plus as well. Robert Miller of Maple Grove delivered the message and we took our fellowship to dinner with us. I do like that better than just singing the last hymn and bolting for the door. My prayer is that you had a worshipful experience as well.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thoughts on Presidents

In case anyone has forgotten, we are still engaged in an all out war with Islamic terrorists. The most recent reminder comes from India and their ongoing struggle to cope with those who would disrupt and even end their daily lives. The effort continues to be made to identify a national identity for these cowardly cretins who are bombing hotels and public places in Mombai. Why this is important to do is unknown to me.

We have become so accustomed, in our history, to assign the blame to national entities that we cannot quite wrap our minds around a more general concept such as “idealistic” Islamic terrorists. Understand well, they owe no allegiance to any state. If that were the case, why in the world would they front an attack in a purely Muslim nation such as Indonesia? Those places in Europe which have been attacked are also host to tens of thousands of fairly new arrivals with Muslim credentials. Spain, Great Britain, and France come to mind.

By not being actors for any specific state, they are at liberty to commit heinous crimes, and not fear a reprisal to any particular homeland. Only when there are concentrations of their constituents, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, etc. are there threats to any specific homeland. I see them more as stateless persons than subjects of any particular national order. The average American has difficulty with being at war with an ideology. How does one carpet bomb that which is in the mind and heart of an aggressor?

Over the last seven plus years, our country has been spared any further incidents of 9/ll type attacks. Even in the face of constant criticism, our government, in spite of its alleged ineptitude has managed to keep the homeland safe from further terror. It has been a cottage industry to demean and criticize George W. Bush but, the inescapable fact is that our nation has not undergone any further attacks under his watch. Like him, or hate him, the least we expect from honest citizens is the acknowledgment of his success in thwarting any further attacks. His legacy will no doubt be as the most under appreciated protector of the republic in its history.

The tinfoil hat crowd has offered every conceivable conspiracy theory to account for the devastating attacks of 9/11. Each has been dealt with soberly and dismissed by those with even a hint of intellect and fairness. Yet, the beat goes on. The attacks on the president have been relentless. It is a cancer which needs to be excised. I recently watched a tape which someone had assembled which characterized the president as a bumbling fool who had difficulty with language and even to a misstep in climbing a stair. Would we be willing to subject our every move to a camera’s critical capture or have each and every inane statement recorded for posterity? I recently fell approaching the number one tee at Honey Creek. I was uninjured and felt a complete fool for the error but at least it wasn’t aired in every living room in America on the six o’clock news. For that matter, I don’t recall seeing your latest faux pas either.

I watch with great interest as the president-elect jettisons position after position as his time of administration comes closer and closer. In his new found proximity to the office, he is starting to see the wisdom in some of the policies he so roundly criticized; total re-organization of the tax structure; maybe later; bring the troops home from Iraq; not right now thank you. We have already dealt with his perceived need to surround himself with people who fully understand the requirements of various cabinet posts. We are a marvelous people who make up the greatest nation on earth; but, we are also quite fickle. You may be the messiah in November but you can easily be reduced to “idiot of the week” by June if you fail to respond to those who “drank the Kool-Aid.” Part of that response requires an acute awareness of the terrorist presence which constantly threatens our nation. To ignore it would be the crassest posture one could assume. These people are serious and also willing to die to make a point. It will require sober judgment, inner strength, and the assistance of God Almighty if we, and our leaders, are to prevail.

To not pray for the success of the president-elect to meet every instance of real danger to the republic would be selfishness beyond belief. If any man ever needed divine guidance, he does. Let us all laugh with him, not at him, as he learns his job. It is in our mutual interest to do so.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Little Giggle

If you’re checking on Zion Beckons, I must assume that you’re worn out from football and the prospect of “just one more bite of turkey.” Don’t over do because we’ll have some pecan (pumpkin, apple crisp, or chocolate) pie later.

My friend Phillip up in the snows of northern Michigan forwarded a few grins which I decided to share with you. That is, if you can stay awake long enough to read them.

Here follows his contribution:

“Subject: Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MCCAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

SARAH PALIN: You betcha he crossed the road, but let's not talk about that, let's talk about energy policy, and how gosh darn hard it is for a middle-class hockey mom to manage the budget of the only state in America with a massive surplus, especially while surrounded by countless Russian and Canadian chickens we have to keep an eye on.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure - right from Day One! -that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of crossing?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions.. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain... alone..

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side.' That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world Crossing roads together, in peace.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken? And last, but not least…….

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?”

You may now return to stuffing your face with the remainder of what I hope was a great feast. God Bless you, every one.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Reprise

(This post is a reprint of one which ran November 19, 2007.)

The seasons have changed, the nights have cooled and the harvest moon is now history. This means the advent of America’s truly unique holiday—Thanksgiving. I say unique because, except for Canada’s watered down version, no other country gives much time to the ritual of Thanksgiving. It is strictly a New World occasion and I welcome it. It is an occasion to take time for reflection on that which stimulates our gratitude.

As Christians, we have no difficulty figuring out the proper Recipient of our outpouring of thanks. God rightfully is the object of our prayers since He has been the provider of all which have come to rely upon and enjoy. Unlike our ancestors, our bare survival is rarely mentioned in our prayers. Our offerings often make more reference to the groaning board at which we sit than appreciation of just keeping alive. Oh certainly we acknowledge the welcome presence of far-flung relation and other visitors and in addition to thanks we pray for their safety in their travels to and from our homes. This is as it should be, since their visit is welcomed and we enjoy seeing the family unit complete. Don’t read any criticism of the holiday in these words even if I express the need to expand our inventory of constant gifts from our Creator.

We, as residents of the United States, are and have been the recipients of the greatest God given document in the world. It is by virtue of the U.S. Constitution and the resulting government system; we can enjoy that which we treasure in our life. We tend to forget that France’s, Germany’s, Italy’s and Spain’s systems of government come nowhere close to equaling our constitution’s durability. In fact, their combined longevity comes no where close to ours. We often make the mistake of considering 1000 year old castles, towers, and bridges in foreign countries as indicators of their political stability. There is no relationship between these artifacts and successful government. Lacking this holy document, and its emphasis on human liberty, they cannot enjoy the nation state status of America.

Issues with a moral focus—drug control, abortion, gay relations, etc.—are ignored in an effort to remove the governing bodies further and further from the governed in ancestral Europe. There would have been no way for Eastern Europe to have suffered forty plus years of the Cold War if their system had been formed by God. Genocide, abuse, and deprivation of human rights are the product of systems not enjoying God’s guiding hand.

This great country is accused of every vile crime in the book but other countries manage to welcome our military to assist in disaster relief whether its source is nature or tin horn dictators. Foreign cemeteries are filled with liberty loving youth from our country who felt the call to liberate the oppressed. My only solace when I think of them is to realize they are now in the bosom of the Lord.

We are constantly reminded by the ACLU and other lunatics of the so called “separation of church and state.” Despite the fact it is nowhere mentioned in the constitution or other statute, they continue the fiction that separation of church and state actually exists. As we read the words of the founding fathers and subsequent leaders we discover a continuing dependence on Almighty God for direction and guidance. During the course of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln gave the flowing prayer to our Heavenly Father.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln leaves little else to say. Enjoy the holiday. Enjoy the blessings of liberty. Praise our kind and loving God. Please pass the sweet potatoes.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What’s the Difference?

Internationalism vs. globalization; is that a tag-team match that requires we turn off the TV for a few minutes and actually consider the ramifications? I believe it is. It will be the struggle which will be ascendant in the political discussion and insider efforts for the near future. We can’t tell the players without a score card so let’s take a look at each.

Internationalism places the emphasis on the interrelationship of sovereign powers. By definition it acknowledges that each country has, for good or ill, its own canon of law and tradition for its own individual citizens. It tolerates the existence of variable moral outlooks and behavior based on history and local experience as well as a distinct national interest. The United Nations, in the beginning, was touted as a forum to act as referee to enable differences between states be ironed out for the mutual good. For the UN to be effective, it must first recognize that each player has national sovereignty.

In the United States, we present a microcosm of this internationalism. We have been assembled from the widest disparity of peoples on the face of the earth. We are not tied to any specific ethnic origin, religious practice, caste system, or other certain identifier. We are at liberty to pursue that which we believe to be true. We are also at liberty to discuss the differences openly and demonstrate to the world that it is possible for people of widely varied backgrounds to live in peace and prosperity, yet still keep in touch with those peculiarities which form our background. Yes, we have conflicts but they are largely a result of efforts to force opinions and behavior from one group on another. By the grace of God we also enjoy the protection of the Constitution which maintains our individual rights from an oppressive government.

Thus internationalism is an extension of individualism. Men of faith recognize that when they confront God for the final judgment, they will be held accountable as individuals and not as part of a group. The causes for those associations may well play into that judgment but it seems unlikely that we will be judged in wholesale lots.

As the face of internationalism, the United Nations is constantly subject to criticism not because of its ideals but rather because of its behavior. That criticism is duly deserved when the organization becomes bullying and ignores the individual interests and traditions of the member nations. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for men to assert their own self-interest in world forums and ignore the altruistic goals which were present at the foundation.

Globalization does not share these fantasies. This concept envisions one world transcending national borders, traditions, local laws and people’s individualism in favor of some sort of planetary dominance and direction. The opportunities for mischief and suppression of peoples here are too easily accomplished for my taste. The concept relies on the integrity of those in charge to insure the freedoms and guarantees of liberty essential to a fulfilling life. We have seen too often the result of ambitious men who have turned into despots when given the chance to manage the lives of others.

It is reasonable to assume that a world of law is vastly superior to the judgment of men. The temptation to perversion by men is too strong. Obviously there are those who would clearly benefit from globalization. The benefit, however, would unlikely benefit those whose clear direction is to accomplish on their own their heartfelt wishes and desires. It might more easily cloud the agendas of those who seek individual gains upon the backs of others. As unpleasant as they may sometimes seem, there is a reason for the rules and regulations which govern our daily lives. They provide the fabric of peace and tranquility which is so desired by most men everywhere.

In a world of international accord, laws which are thought to be unfair may eventually be altered to achieve fairness for all. Baring that structure we become dependent upon the caprices of men. As we review the histories of those who sought domination on a global scale, we see Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Lenin, and others who fought to destroy national identities in their gradual acquisition of territory and wealth. They chose to inflict their insidious misplaced idealism instead of the sensible law and order doctrines of their conquered neighbors. They generally used roughly the same template to rise to power. First, they appeal to the baser nature of their people with popular programs—generally unsustainable—of benefits, power identities, and propagandized superiority. Once they gain the support required they may then proceed to gradually abridge the freedoms once enjoyed by the people. The wolf, in this case, comes completely disguised as a sheep.. In this case, it’s a sheep with the organization and firepower to maintain the controls necessary for conquest.

I firmly believe that it is absolutely essential that each one of us has a clear understanding of the difference between these two doctrines. Lacking that understanding may lead to embracing policies (illegal immigration, government give-a-ways, deeper socialization of health care and other programs) and international associations which are harmful to us as a nation. The true test of any offering from our government has to be first and foremost; consistency with our constitutional imperatives. Personalities aside, every proposal needs to be evaluated, tested, and tempered by that consideration. It is no accident that the acceptance of any responsible position in the government (from Private to President) requires a pledge before God that we “uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.” Most of you have recited that pledge.

I believe it is the personal responsibility of each American, no matter how humble our circumstance, to be aware of the forces at work in our country and the world to deprive us of our liberties. It is absolutely necessary that we examine each and every proposal, no matter how apparently benign, with a skeptic's eye and react firmly, each to our maximum ability. The great civilizations of history have clearly demonstrated their individual ability to become failures. They did so, not because of their leadership but, by the permission of their citizens. Liberty is worth fighting for.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon