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 10ยบ 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

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