Saturday, January 19, 2008

New York Times Update

Yesterday, we posted about the New York Times and their scurrilous attack on the US military. Today we have a follow-up by blogger, Iowahawk regarding a similar situation in the media. For those unfamiliar with the work of this brilliant satirist, he is incomparable in his ability to isolate the essential truths and present them in a humorous manner. Please note that, unlike the NY Times, he has provided a link to each and every allegation of misconduct conduct on the part of journalists.

Although not a problem in this particular piece, he has been known to use some earthy language and ribald analogies. Therefore, if you find it entertaining and decide to investigate his writings further; you have been warned.

(So here you have it). Enjoy!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, January 18, 2008

New York Left Wing Times Article

As a teenager during WWII, I was privileged to be in frequent contact with a wonderful man. My half brother’s grandfather was Don Hoopes, the managing editor of the Marshalltown Times-Republican and then president of the Iowa Daily Press Association. During that time, we spent many hours together and I was fascinated by both his vocation and his ability to extract bass from a tiny lake where the family had a cabin. Since I delivered the Des Moines Register he often joked that we newspaper guys had to stick together. To elevate my importance, he said that without me, the editor’s work would never reach the public. He also shared much inside information about the business and the responsibilities of his position. As a consequence, I grew up with a tremendous respect for him and the fourth estate in general.

I now recognize that a regular feature of the Times-Republican is now virtually absent from most daily papers. Their corrections notice was on the front page, below the fold. Any errors or omissions were dealt with and enjoyed the same prominence as the original story. The rule in modern papers today is to publish their rare mea culpas on page 18a. I found this impressive as a child and as a man, a vital component of reporting the truth. We all make mistakes regardless of our most careful efforts but corrections are not consistent with the arrogant self-interest that most editors have today.

He was also a man who, as editorial writer, was scrupulously fair. In private, his politics were readily apparent; in public offerings he made every effort to cloak his individual opinions. No story passed his desk without fairness and a full presentation of all the facts which might color the reader’s mind. Fifty years before Fox News seized it, he proclaimed the slogan “we report, you decide.” Despite offers from larger papers, he preferred to serve the community he called home.

This recap of a man’s life and his influence on a boy was prompted by a recent objection to an article in the New York Times. The suggested claim is that veterans of the Iraq War are involved in an inordinate number of violent crimes once they rejoin the populace at large. “Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles" is the name of the article and one click will put you in touch with this slander.

Of the 749,932 discharges (all branches) through 2007, 121 homicide cases have been processed. This includes not only premeditated murder, but also negligent death (manslaughter) and some involving self-defense. This indicates a rate of 16.1 per 100,000 for the entire six year period. The total number of active duty and discharged personnel is more than 1.5 million giving us a rate of 1.34 incidents per 100,000 per year! So what would the rate of the general population in the same age bracket be? According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in white males, age 18 to 24 years the rate was 20 per 100,000. To repeat the comparison that would be 1.34 for Iraq veterans vs. 20 for the general population in the same age bracket.

It took nine reporters and 6300 words to compile this hogwash. Apparently there was not a pencil and the back of an envelope among them to crunch the numbers. If this article proves anything, it would be that our fine fighting men (there was only one woman among the offenders) have a far better grasp of living peaceful and disciplined lives once home from the carnage that is war, than their counterparts in civilian life.

Little mention is made in the article about the role of resistance to gang activity, drugs and alcohol as causative effects. Some also reacted to unfaithfulness of wives and girl friends in their absence, although not a valid reason for murder, certainly a significant contributing factor. One of the 121 individuals shot a man who had sexually abused his stepson, hardly a result of his service in Iraq. All in all, the piece seemed more dedicated to the defamation of our troops than to actual fact filled reportage of a problem. To intentionally defame the military in time of war is in my mind a vile and unconscionable act. To further degrade a publication with a noble history, while expected, only adds to the crime. The New York Times has accomplished this by adding to their agenda driven and bias reporting of this story.

The saddest aspect of the whole affair is that those whom the Times choose to diminish are those who fight and die to protect their right to publish such drivel. Why then should this concern us as Christians? We should avoid the habit, and it does become a habit, of accepting as truth every pronouncement from the minds of men. Unlike the Times, “Zion Beckons” welcomes comments and disagreement. Most true Christian publications actively solicit you to detect any variation from the straight and narrow presentation. We all recognize the frailties of men and encourage correction.

Provided with our God given access to Him for confirmation of that which we question, we have little excuse not to recognize truth. This should be on our minds every time we see a questionable assertion. Be it in national affairs or local church assemblies it is necessary to accept God’s promise and check with Him. In addition, once a source proves to be the purveyor of falsehood, why consult them in the first place?

“All the news that’s fit to print.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Blank Page

There is a certain purity to a blank page. Whether it is an empty computer screen or a piece of paper, it awaits your input without judgment or condemnation. There is also a calling inherent in its presence, as if crying out for words to fill the void. I believe that the artist senses the same feelings when he surveys the empty canvas. I imagine he sees the completed canvas as a projection of what is in his heart.

Perhaps this is the province of amateurs. Do professionals operating on assignments have the same thoughts? Perhaps under the guidance and demands of editors and time constraints they must complete the thoughts of others. I find that notion an affront to liberty, but then putting bread on the table often is. This is possibly the reason I am so attracted to websites which are written for the most part by persons with little hope of ever making a living as a result of their efforts. If they dealt in oils and canvas they would fit the name, starving artists. As it is, they are mostly those with firm opinions on one of an immense variety of topics which in themselves are very narrowly confined as the subject of the sites.

We deal with others in our lives in much the same way. We are presented, at their birth, with little ones with the same blank page. These precious souls come equipped with little more than instinct and a genetic code. The rest is up to us. But, you say, our job as parents is past. Really! Where in the manual (you did get one didn’t you?) does it say you can quit parenting at some arbitrary time? Is it after college graduation? Is it when they get married? Is it because you never had any children of your own? Did Jesus Christ shun the children because they weren’t His? No, He gathered them unto Him and shared stories and Himself with them. Although He didn’t say so, I’m certain He listened to them as well.

When I address those in the faith by the title "brother" and "sister" I assume a familial relationship which assigns their children’s care and keeping to me as well. I must maintain an example for them. I must be aware of their needs. I must be ever alert to present the face of a joyful Christian and follow it up with action as well. I am always thrilled to hear an adult refer with rapt remembrance to a Sunday school teacher who guided them in their formative years. Do we not remember the various plays and other offerings we performed to enhance a holiday worship service? Some very patient adults were there to guide the youngsters to sing or recite.

Even the most dedicated reader of scripture finds passages which require interpretation and explanation. I doubt the validity of any proposition which cannot be explained to a child. Practice and be prepared to render understandable those laws and doctrines which we hold dear. This is not preaching but loving sharing. If one tells a child. “You wouldn’t understand” it diminishes the child but demeans your willingness and spiritual condition even more. This whole process is not work; it’s love.

So, here we have a very valuable “blank page” just awaiting our positive and spiritual response. We can cover it with an appreciation of the Master, His life and teachings. Or, we can just doodle and waste an opportunity to truly be of service to Him. The most precious resource of our church is awaiting our input. Without them, we will eventually expire as a faith.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monday (Wednesday Really) Rant 20

With apologies to those who faithfully read the blog to see what I’m upset about this time, I plead family responsibilities and travel as an excuse. I was in Lisle, Illinois to attend the memorial service for my recently deceased brother.

I’ll not dwell on it excessively but simply say that the outpouring of condolences from those assembled was overwhelming. They came from all over the United States and represented major appliance manufacturers, rent to own centers, builders, and those who ski, bike, and golf. The most emotional moment came as the military unit assigned from the Navy presented the flag to the widow in acknowledgement of his service aboard the USS Mansfield during the Viet Nam era. Our family appreciated all those who attended, sent regrets and otherwise celebrated a very exuberant and successful life.

Although I was not with those who share my specific beliefs, I felt a good spirit was present and enjoyed exchanging views with others about the nature of the afterlife. Sometimes it’s good to stop and listen to those whose spiritual credentials are not on their sleeves. Their opinions were not all that different from mine. All in all, I came away with the notion that the teaching of Jesus Christ is alive in the hearts of many fellow believers.
Before we left Friday for the memorial service we experienced another loss which affected each and every life in our little Ozarks paradise. My faithful companion, a yellow lab named Ashley, died while lying at my feet Thursday evening. She went without a whimper or any sign of protest. As ever, she lay near me as I typed on my keyboard. Always the lady, she never sought attention while I was working.

What has provoked so much thought is the role she played among the other animals. Our smallest dog, Gus, was far more dependent upon Ashley as a friend and more important, protector. He has spent an inordinate amount of time on the chair by the window looking for the return of his buddy from one of her occasional forays into the neighborhood. We were aware they had a strong relationship but not aware of how dependent he had become. Although our newest resident, Maggie, is friendly, she is young, exuberant and four times as large as Gus. Without the restraint which Ashley provided, we are now concerned about accidental incidents during play.

The cats have freaked. They are nowhere to be easily seen. Without Ashley’s moderating influence, they are fair game for Maggie’s boisterous play style. If we ever see the three of them again, we shall report on their activities.
Although I am not a fan of humanizing pets, I do see parallels in their behavior. In this case it is the outstanding example Ashley set for the rest. In her dignity and calm demeanor, she set the example and provided the discipline for the rest. It has only been since we lost her that we realized it fully. This then provokes some reflection for all of us.

Do we set that example as a guidepost to others? Do the behaviors of those around us appear to be influenced by our manner and attitudes? God has given us intellect and an indwelling spirit far in excess of the beasts. One can only pray that we are using them for His purposes and as a good example to others.
We shall attempt to get the postings to Zion Beckons back on track and regular as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience, prayers, and kind thoughts.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon