Friday, February 22, 2008

High and Dry

As regular readers are aware your host is ever on the alert for evidence to thwart the proponents of global warming, climate change or whatever the euphemism of the day is for the practitioners of this emerging religion. I found a dilly this morning. (Do people still use that word?) ANSA, a fairly new news service primarily concerned with events in the Mediterranean Sea and the sixteen countries surrounding it, had a wonderful piece on the fate of the waters in Venice, Italy. Since it is written in Italian, I’ll not be linking it.

Long famous for the canal system, historic areas and museums, it has been touted as a potential victim of global warming. This depository of priceless works of art and fascinating architecture it is also a “must” on any list of global traveler’s destinations making it one of the planets hottest (estimated at 20,000,000 annually) tourist spots. Who could resist a ride on one of the trade mark gondolas with a rich voiced Italian at the oar singing and poling your way through the complexity of the canals.

The constant alarmists of the cult of global warming have predicted that the rising temperatures in the Polar Regions will raise the sea level to the point of drowning this famous city. A couple of feet could turn it into a chaotic urban swamp. Meanwhile as we patiently wait for the ice cap to melt, on Monday the sea had fallen to a record low 30” below normal and by Tuesday had recovered by 2”. For a peek at the result, take a look at this picture which was featured by the local La Stampa newspaper. That’s mud you’re looking at.

Even the local water taxis (vaporetti) were high and dry with the result of crippling local transportation. In recent years when the city suffered flooding, the cause was easily attributable to torrential rains from inland. While not open ocean, the sea is subject to oceanic changes by virtue of the Straits of Gibraltar to the Atlantic and the Suez canal link to the Arabian Sea (with a somewhat higher level) and thence to the Indian Ocean. While not related to climate change, there have been environmental impacts on the lovely Mediterranean, caused by the link of the Suez to Southern waters. Mostly this has resulted in increased salinity and the introduction of saline tolerant species previously unknown.

This is Al Gore’s worst nightmare. What do you do when you have demonstrable evidence that the infallibility of your messiah is false? Before someone tells you this is anecdotal let me assure you that most of the evidence proffered by the alarmists is either anecdotal or the result of faulty computer models. I’ll not trouble you with a recitation of the record low temperatures we have suffered in the Ozarks recently. I’ll also avoid sharing the actual growth explosion of the polar bear population which they cite as being on the edge of extinction. I will only assure you that God Almighty built it and planned every event on this planet that you will live long enough to experience. Please forgive me if my detectable pride shows in debunking with hard evidence the ridiculous emotional bunkum put forth by the mouthpieces for this cult.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oxford Study

It’s about time! Over in England, at Oxford no less, they are going to spend four million dollars to find out why mankind embraces God. Their studies will extend to whether “belief is a basic part of mankind’s makeup.” I would happily give them the answer for about $3,999,995 less. All right, I’ll do it without charge.

The most difficult thing to absorb here is the presence of theologians along with the anthropologists, philosophers and other academics. What part of “theology” don’t they understand? A quick check reveals it means “The” combined with “study.” Not “a” study like geology which deals with hard subjects like rocks. No, it places the definite article as part of the word to indicate the unique position of God in the equation. Surely there can be no mystery about this for theologians.

It is my belief they would benefit from a couple of Wednesday night prayer meetings. Here they would hear sworn stories by believers of the power and majesty of an ever-present God in their lives. They would be exposed to testimonies by those who enjoy facing life with a constant companion to help them over life’s hurdles. These same “investigators” would hear those who have absolute trust in their Savior to bring about every needful blessing to their lives and others. Recollections of healing, reconciliation, and Divine assistance in a multitude of ways could be heard from the very ones who had the experiences. The only thing they are unlikely to see are those with a long string of academic letters following their names. Most likely they will be simple God-fearing people who rejoice in His presence.

In the interest in saving a lot of money and providing the researchers with a simple truth, I offer the following. God is! He is from the onset of our lives and if we listen to Him, long after our physical bodies depart. We are hard wired to seek Him from birth and throughout our lives. The “why” of that is not too tough to figure out. That’s the way he made us. Granted, some of us respond to His presence better than others, but He is there nonetheless. That’s it in a nutshell. Spend the money curing cancer. Or better yet, pray for God’s help,

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Old Lessons

From 1955 to 1965 I was employed by a firm in Denver as sales manager. One of the reasons the firm became immensely successful was their emphasis on constant training. There was always an ongoing or upcoming event to hone our skills. When traffic was slow, we conducted informal seminars and examined errors and successes which had recently occurred. They generously allowed persons at every level in the company to take advantage of classes, seminars, and even paid tuition for university courses. When they brought in people from outside to conduct these sessions, they brought only the best. Since every firm has a sales component for every occupational specialty, this proved a valuable asset even when I left the firm.

Obviously the purpose was to promote sales. The emphasis was not on the merchandise which was exceptional in quality; it was always centered on the prospective customer. The transactions were geared to understanding that individual and finding that which motivated him to buy. We kept daily logs of “ups” (in turn contact with people coming for the first time,) time spent, results and follow up information. By listening and evaluating each prospect, we were then armed with devastating knowledge to tailor the presentation to his individual quirks.

The strongest lesson I took from those ten years was not to confuse merchandise with the reasons people buy things. Even fifty years ago everyone really did have enough. Even newlyweds had a collection of junk acquired from relatives to sit on, dine on, and sleep on. Most often sales were developed by addressing inner desires and not routine necessity. So what was it we were selling?

Through conversation and careful listening we attempted to isolate their paramount concerns. Many folks came to us driven by ego and self esteem. Since we were on the cutting edge of modern merchandising, it was easy for that personality type to identify with our goods. They took pride in being among the elite. Our in-home advisors played to their individualism. Our presentations were peppered with words such as: unique, latest, proud, intelligent, and others which indicated they were a “cut above.” We indulged in moderate observation of their excellent choices in outfits and automobiles. In short, we played to their neighbor’s envy and their boss’s admiration.

The second general group was those persons who were governed primarily by innate fear and insecurity. Ever alert to danger and unsure of their actions we presented a front of solidarity and dependability for our goods and our personnel. We dissected each piece of merchandise to reveal its inner construction and solidity. We placed great emphasis on our guarantees and the expert handling by our delivery persons. The main thrust was to never hurry the customer and to build his confidence in the firm. Our entire staff was constantly trained in the manufacturing process of every vendor. When questioned, if a salesman wasn’t sure, he quickly called the manager for assistance. He did so without hesitation because he knew I would not contradict anything which he had said. We dealt in truth. We also realized that the more folks he met in our establishment, the more we could build his confidence.

The final category of customers was those who were primarily preoccupied with health and safety matters. Merchandise which was easily cleaned and maintained became our primary concern. Items with protruding sharp edges or which seemed frail in their construction were avoided. Heat, stain and scratch resistant surfaces were quite new at the time and frequently featured in our presentations. Maintenance features were carefully explained and emphasized. Any item which had the least therapeutic effect was shown early on.

Our entire program was designed to leave the prospects with the idea that we had a remarkable knowledge of their wants and needs. Once we had gained a rudimentary psychological profile we could proceed successfully. We did not show items; we showed people. Obviously, none of our customers exactly fit the profiles and often slipped into one of the others but in general they maintained the posture. Our sales people had been thoroughly trained for this eventuality and followed the outline to the point of even trading off customers if they discovered a conflict of personalities.

There are two reasons for sharing this essay with you. The first is to enable you to recognize just what a well-trained and alert salesperson can extract from observation and a brief conversation. This is not an attempt to identify any sort of evil in the person of a professional. If you have ever purchased something, returned home and said, “What was I thinking?” this might help to explain it. Closing the sale is much easier if the right buttons are pushed. The absolute demise of any sales presentation is pronounced when the customer says; “boy, you are sure a good salesman.” The uninitiated may take it as a compliment, but it is the kiss of death.

The second reason for the essay is to possibly apply generating interest in evangelism. If we don’t take time to understand the concerns of people we share the gospel with, why should they listen? People at large do have inner concerns which require answers. My personal belief is that we collectively have, in Jesus Christ, the solutions. Just as in sales, we need to remember that God gave us two ears and one mouth. If we can understand the necessity of that proportion, we can proceed to share our testimonies and couch our offering of sharing the benefits of salvation in terms which people can easily gather. Oh, you say, I could never do that; it’s duplicitous. Since when is listening to others and trying to understand their needs duplicitous? We have a far more important mission than the firm I mentioned above.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


On February 17, A columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, Mary Mitchell published her opinion about the situation at Northern Illinois University. Steven Kazmierczak, a former grad student, killed 5 and injured 20 others in a shooting rampage on Valentine’s Day.

As a parent I am horrified at all these recent incidents of gunmen gone mad on campuses. My prayers are with those who are the victims of these attacks. My real outrage is with individuals who would seize upon them to further a political agenda. Mitchell's column in the Sun Times is a case in point. Typically she does much hand wringing about the causative factors in the incident. Included in the piece, although not clearly identified as such, are strong hints of the real factors in the incident, none of which she clearly identifies.

She demonstrates abject ignorance of the people she serves and America at large when she asks, “How is it that we live in a country where a young man can get his hands on four weapons including a shotgun?” (Italics mine) It is widely acknowledged that there are in excess of 300,000,000 legally owned firearms in this country, a large percentage of which are shotguns. They exist in the hands of hunters, collectors, aficionados, and citizens concerned with self-defense. By the sheer mass of numbers, they are also available to nut cases with mayhem on their mind. This was not a “young man,” he was a twenty-seven year old adult. Had he lived he would have been old enough to vote in his second presidential election this fall. The actual answer to the question posed requires that we read the second amendment to the Constitution and its closing words: “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

“Why are people walking around armed to the teeth?” Despite having our liberties seriously limited over the last few decades, we are a free people and have agency to do that which we will. Assuming Mitchell meant the killer, he simply chose to. He might have, just as easily, elected to drive his car across a crowded sidewalk into a busy café. As we all do, he had the option to inflict pain on others in any way he chose. Years ago, people would have had an easy answer for his abhorrent behavior; “He came from a ‘broken’ home.”

Mitchell poses: “we still don’t know the motive for the shooter’s rampage.” In the next paragraph she offers that which may or may not be a factor: “… had apparently gone off his medications.” A quick bit of research reveals clearly stated withdrawal symptoms from the antidepressant Prozac: anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, restlessness, tremors, visual hallucinations, diarrhea, blurred vision, headache, insomnia, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, jolting electric zaps, tingling sensations, vertigo, anorexia, gait disturbances, sweating, fever, abdominal discomfort, irritability, aggression, lethargy, weakness, myalgia, crying spells, suicidal thoughts, nightmares, confusion and memory and concentration difficulties.

Well, that’s certainly a relief. What could possibly go wrong here? Keep in mind that Prozac and other anti-depressants are commonly physician prescribed for Mr. Kazmierczak’s condition with explicit warnings about abrupt withdrawal. If you choose to ignore the warnings you will probably follow up with equally bad additional choices. I’m sorry but any mystery here escapes me.

Mitchell then states that law enforcement claims there was little they could have done differently to prevent the tragedy. She then likens it to the Virginia Tech massacre without singling out the obvious culprit. In these two cases, and many, many others, the perpetrator had the presence of mind to launch these assaults in a “gun free zone.” This is not an accident. These locations are intentionally chosen by the virtue (?) of having guaranteed unarmed victims upon which to prey. I am sympathetic to law enforcement’s claim of having little influence in the prevention of crimes of this type. Like it or not, they cannot be everywhere at once. The best they can hope for, short of citizen assistance, is to come in and clean up in the aftermath. The only possible result of “gun free zone” policies is to turn our malls, schools, and churches into shooting galleries for the mentally deranged with no fear of reprisal. Declaring citizens be defenseless simply verifies an “open season” on them.

“Since Virginia Tech, many parents of college aged students have had to turn to their faith.” “…had to turn to their faith” implies being coerced by circumstance to practice that which should be routine but has sadly become last resort. This suggests a previous callous disregard for faith on the part of millions of parents of youngsters now gone from the nest. I recognize many varieties of faith in our society but as a parent I know that few are not concerned to the point of prayer for the well being of their young. As Christians, we pray earnestly for God’s protection for our offspring realizing the multitude of hazards which they face. If one waits for a insane attack to reach out to God, the delay may prove painful.

The final insult in this piece is the promotion of a presidential candidate as the answer to the problem. It is not his fault that she chooses to proffer him as the “hope of the world.” Obviously swayed by his messianic, rock star appeal, she sees him as a solution. Sorry, but fainting fans at frenzied political rallies are not indicative of the effectiveness of policies and programs which will be required to keep the ship of state afloat in the coming perilous years. I can easily understand his popularity, especially in Illinois, but let’s be realistic. No person in the White House can or should be expected to diffuse the mania in the mind of isolated lunatics.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 25

We start today with everyone’s favorite complaint: What’s with the weather man? If anything has remained unchanged over the entirety of my life, it has to be weather reporting. Don’t they have windows in the buildings where they broadcast? We get constant threats for every possible condition possible with rare actuality. The snow which is to cover the ground to a depth of 5-8” barely sticks to the walks and the driveway. The roses wilt for lack of the promised rain. Golf is routinely interrupted by a storm of epic proportions which was shown as a 5% chance of showers.

On my internet under the weather folder are seven different links to cover every aspect of the ever changing climate. I have a choice of county radar, regional radar covering about a hundred surrounding counties, Southern Plains coverage of about five states and of course national coverage with at least a dozen different reporting formats. The historical records are available back decades. All in all, my personal resources, and yours are vastly better than anything we could have imagined forty years ago. So, if I have all that expertise at my fingertips why can’t I figure out what’s going to happen as well as the weather guy?

The possibility exists that God chooses to keep a few surprises for all of us. After all, He will do what He will. My next project had better be to learn more about acceptance. He allows us to learn about the generalities of our existence but keeps a few of the specifics up his sleeve. I find that life is easier when I accept that which He has the grace to deliver without complaint and even a measure of joy. So I invite you to join me and take it as it comes and we can all rejoice that He gives us a huge variety to keep us on our toes.
This is a “grin” I picked up from the American Legion magazine:

“Greta was an old, grandmotherly type. She was well known for her faith and talking about it. Every morning she would go out on the front porch and shout, 'Praise the Lord!' Her next door neighbor would shout back, 'There ain’t no Lord!'
Greta was very poor, so the neighbor decided to prove his point by buying a large bag of groceries and placing it at her door. The next morning she went to the porch, and seeing the groceries, she shouted, 'Praise the Lord!'
The neighbor stepped out from behind a tree in the yard and said, 'I bought those groceries, and there ain’t no Lord.'
Greta smiled and shouted, 'Lord, you not only sent me food but you made the devil pay for it!'”
I’m not certain who said this but I heard it again Sunday: “God is as close as you’ll let him come.” I mulled it over and over in my mind and my thoughts went to a time in my life when I kept Him at arm’s length. Like an unwelcome guest, He was there but never received a wholehearted greeting. It was as though He was an unappreciated brother-in-law. You know what I mean. On the heels of the recent holiday occasions you have probably been drawn together with some members of the family who don’t rate that high on your list. You are polite, on your best behavior and making an earnest attempt to be nice but it just doesn’t quite come off. To not offend others, you offer what you think is your best and resent it. Some, including me at one time, were like that.

I have found one of the great treasures of the knowledge of the Savior is His willingness to allow the repentant sinner to be as close as He chooses. It is reminiscent of the famous painting with Christ at the door which has no latch on the outside. It may only be opened from within. When we make that approach and become close to Him we find a willing friend and mentor. We also find diminished fears, warmer friends, and the freedom to enjoy what we have become in His favor. I thank Him daily for being available for me and others and sharing His marvelous gifts.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Keep the Change!

Some folks, who aren’t nearly as cheap as I happen to be, frequently use the title expression in dealings involving minor amounts. Is it their generous nature or refusal to be bothered pocketing minor sums, which provokes such largesse? It may be a quote popularized by movies, books and television. It is possible they recognize the insignificance of these paltry sums and can’t be bothered. Whatever; “keep the change” fully demonstrates to the average bear a symbol of dealing with an otherwise useless entity. At least the change shown below bears the words: “In God We Trust.”

I bring this up because several prospective presidential candidates have adopted this poor abused word as the hallmark of their campaigns. “Choose me and I shall bring change!” “It’s time for change!” “It’s all about change!” Since no two peas in this pod of contenders have exact similarity, it seems to me that change will be inevitable regardless of the claims. Oh yes, there is a very general relationship between a couple of them but exactitude is conspicuously missing.

While discussing the nebulous issue of change, they manage to avoid being pinned down on the specifics of what their actual programs may be to effect their promised result. Since they all claim unlimited experience what would be their track records for believing them? Can they point with pride to legislation (they are all senators) they brought to the floor? Can they generate enthusiasm for the concept of their having authored governmental reforms which benefited the entirety of the American people? The rawest expression of senatorial power is the vote, which they have cast on various issues. Was each of them scrupulously present to exercise that power?

About thirty years ago, I had occasion to be on the campus of Louisiana Tech in Ruston, during one of their perpetual election cycles. I stopped to listen to one of the candidates for governor and he came up with a very interesting observation. He said in essence that the crowd should get comfortable with the idea that they would be electing a politician to fill the office. Their kindly family physician, trusted family lawyer, and the nice guy at the hardware store were not in the race. They were too busy setting broken legs, transferring property and finding the right screw for a project to be bothered with governance. He assured the multitude (thirty or forty people) that the only ones after the job he sought were going to be politicians. He then outlined the reasons why he was the exact perfect choice to be that guy. I found this acknowledgement of an absolute truth to be most welcome. In no way did he ever mention the word change because in his professional expertise he knew that policy and procedure trumped some ill-defined ethereal concept. I voted for him.

There is a general appeal to these “feel good” concepts with no basis in carefully constructed programs. Change will never take place without action. Action requires thought and planning to be successful. We can easily carry this over to evaluation of those who would lead the church as well. While they don’t openly state their intentions as change, they have a subliminal message which identifies it. We are constantly assaulted with ideas from on high (lower case!) with variations from well established doctrines. We are encouraged to ignore the established order of 175 years to achieve the goals of men today. The dissolution and contention within the body which started forty years ago was a direct result of creeping change within the vital functions of the World Church. Altered Sunday school curricula, gender equality in the priesthood, and recognition of variant lifestyle all represented features which offered unwelcome change to many of the faithful. Small wonder they left in droves.

We have a God who does not change. His constancy is the rock we Christians lean on. It gives us the strength to carry on in a difficult world. Why would we sucker in to a pitch by a man or a group of men to attempt to alter His teachings in the written word? Are we so bored that we insist that strife and contention be ever present to enliven our dull lives? This morning the pastor was reading from The Book of Acts, and as I followed along I could understand those who did not have the gospel distrusting the words of Paul during the storm (Chapter 23.) At least they had a partial excuse. I contrasted that with opportunities in scripture we have all had to become acquainted with the word of God. He is faultless and everlasting and therefore not subject to change.

To return to the aspiring candidates we have an equally penetrating question. When we have a successful government which is the envy of the planet why in the world would we want to change it? With a Godgiven Constitution as a guide should we be seeking some “pie-in-the sky” system of varying grades of socialism to inflict upon our peoples the follies of already tried and failed systems? Rock star Messiah, socialist vet, and shrill ex-White House harridan; all of them need to take a deep breath and consider reinforcing those values and attitudes which have made us great.

As for me, no thanks; just keep the change.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon