Saturday, March 22, 2008

March Madness

We are upon that craziest of all sport seasons – March Madness – otherwise know as the NCAA Basketball tournament. Unlike football, it is an opportunity to use a logical method to determine the best collegiate basketball team in the nation. By demanding the team have a pristine record in the finals, there is no question about the skills of the successful winner. It’s always good to see something done right.

In the spirit of the tourney, a Catholic organization has implemented one of the familiar devices used to show the pairings. Click on this link. Enjoy how they would arrange the congregational pairing of individuals with very recognizable traits. You certainly don’t have to be a Roman Catholic to identify the players.

I also don’t think it would be all that difficult to make a few changes and have it ready for use by a Restoration congregation. I think you’ll agree. I’m certain our priesthood would.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time to Build An Ark

Living high on a ridge in the Ozarks has some advantages – and some drawbacks. In the last twenty four hours, we have had six inches of rain. Since we live about 100’ above the Spring River, we have not been seriously affected by the rainfall. In fact, we relish the thought of the upcoming spring season approaching with a below surface reservoir of water to see us through the demands on our well from fresh plantings. Since we have no basement and the house is well drained anyway, the structure is not threatened by rising water. We also have the contentment of absolute privacy.

That privacy is a result of flooding on the bottom road which follows the river course. We are unable to get out and other traffic can not get in. The view out the office window is now of a huge lake. Roughly a half mile across, it is both inconvenient and beautiful in an eerie sort of way. We had previously made preparations for emergencies of a varied nature and are enjoying the fruits of our planning. Our greatest concern is not for ourselves but rather the neighbors and their livestock.

This evening a power outage interrupted the delightful evening we were enjoying with some visitors from Arizona. In an all electric house, one loses heat, water, cooking and all the other conveniences one believes one cannot live without when it stops functioning.. The greatest problem I faced was being unable to post for you. We are not soliciting sympathy but rather are just grateful that we are no more bothered by these events than other normal happenings. It’s all part of acceptance. It’s now after midnight, the electric is back on and all's right with the world, but the water remains.

I shall ask your forbearance to await a more interesting post to come and pray you are on high ground and safe tonight.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Fine Mess

About the only thing anyone remembers about the old Oliver and Hardy comedy team is the famous line, “It’s a fine mess you’ve got us in now, Ollie.”

It’s almost impossible for me to refrain from comment on the political scene. Initially, I was disappointed that the race for the presidency started so early. As it progresses I have come to relish the news and the latest gaffes by the various players. Lest I be accused of partisanship, let me say that since the Democrats are currently providing the most entertainment, I shall deal mostly with them.

Mr. Barak please-don’t-use-my-middle-name Obama has found that even “rock star” appeal can be tiresome for the American public. This is especially true when guilt by association rears its ugly head. His twenty year dependence upon Mr. Wright of mega-church (8400 members) fame for pastoral duties, close confidence and inspiration has resulted in the airing of some very radical opinions and positions on the part of the preacher. One would assume that being married by, having children baptized by, using his sermon for the theme of your popular book and donating $20,000 in a year to the church would suggest more than a casual relationship. Obama, in a fit of expediency has denounced his friend and mentor and denied ever hearing his “trash talk” from the pulpit and in his writings.

His epiphany is in the realization that what gets you elected with the backing of the south side of Chicago does not guarantee national appeal. White liberal guilt will not assure the oval office if you share Rev. Wright’s views. The entire premise was to assuage racist (white?) conflicts and coast to a “color blind” America. Contrarily, he lifted the rock and found even stronger evidence of racism (black?) hiding under it.. No one could envy him the job of trying to right (pun intended) this wrong. The harshest indictment coming from all of this is the sudden realization by his supporters that he is in fact a politician, and not the long awaited “black messiah.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the second place candidate (yes, he has more delegate count) continues to make clumsy attempts to downplay the racial aspects of the campaign. Clinton, not free from her own problems, would like to exploit Obama’s dilemma but has to mind the staffing in her own crew of workers and advisors. Since her own attitudes are suspect, she cannot press without looking even more harsh and mean spirited. The sole female candidate to run for elected executive office on a national scale, Geraldine Ferraro, left in a huff and sought refuge with the opposition. Her pal, fellow New Yorker, and supporter, former governor Eliot Spitzer hasn’t been much help either.

Mrs. Clinton’s problems are further exacerbated by the conflict of the renegades in Michigan and Florida who advanced their primaries timing and effectively disenfranchised their primary voters. Several options have been offered and none are acceptable to all the parties. No one likes a “do over” except golfers, but that seems to be the only out. At this point, I’m sure she would like to see representational voting dumped in favor of the more “democratic” majority rule. Cooler heads are aware of the age old injunction that this is synonymous with “mob rule” in a constitutional sense.

In the interest of unity the DNC (Democratic National Committee) attempts to quash anyone trying to set up a third party bid and foil the possibility of retaking the white house. With both major candidates putting out new fires every day, the threat of Nader, Gore, Edwards, Kerry et. al. starting a late bid becomes greater. Dean, the DNC head must be putting in some restless nights. One ponders that even a latter day King Solomon would have difficulty with this one.

Through it all, the Republican candidate needs to do little more than stay alive to survive in this race. If he cannot accumulate enough baggage to assign to either of these two in their constant strife then he doesn’t deserve the job. Meanwhile, he is off to Iraq to demonstrate to Americans who care about such things that he does as well. With his background, I’m certain he will be well received in the war zone. This is reminiscent of the situation in sports where the top seeded team has the opportunity to omit the preliminaries and rest up before the finals. Hey, he’s nearly as old as I am so I can understand his relief.

Every essay requires a summation; so what is it for this one? Beats me! Like Fox news claims, “we report, you decide.” While joking with my bride about this mess, we came to the conclusion—not spot on, but close—that it’s similar to having playground bullies in grade school suddenly turn on each other. In that case, we all escaped with our lunch money intact and they wound up with the bruises. In this matter, let us pray we can wind up with a chief executive we can respect and the favor will be returned.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 29

On Saturday, the 15th, we published “A Warning.” For those who blissfully enjoyed their heightened fears as a result of the read; relax. It was intended as an object lesson for those who accept everything from whom they consider a reliable (?) source without questioning the nuts and bolts. Words can be magical. They can also be deceptive.

Di hydrogen monoxide is simply another way of describing water – H2O! There are no untruths in the piece. It is all in the way the author chooses to couch his statements. Those who elect to be alarmed will be alarmed. Why bother with constructing this highly deceptive piece?

We are entering a season among Restorationists which has a special historical meaning and is traditionally important in the affairs of the church. Many things will be written and spoken to influence the Saints. A cursory acceptance may lead some to accept a premise which upon thoughtful examination is the exact opposite of their true beliefs. I have encountered some individuals in my travels through the faith who have the capacity to wax eloquent and shape their ideas to present a one sided picture of reality. There are politicians and snake oil salesmen, even among would be leaders with appropriate credentials, who have the ability to be glib and clever in presenting their case for changes. Caveat emptor!

“Let the buyer beware!” is good advice in any season but especially in this time of potentially momentous changes. Remember the old canard, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” As believers, we have a resource for confirmation or rejection which we can call on at anytime. It’s simple; fast, pray, and ask of God. He will reveal the truth today as He has over the ages.
Always one to make allowances for other faiths, I was stunned to read an account this past week of a woman in Maylasia. It seems the local Muslim officials have jailed Kamariah Ali for her worship of a two story “tea pot.” For her sect, the tea pot symbolizes the purity of water. They also see it as symbolic of God’s love “pouring from Heaven.” Even with constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship, natural born Muslims are not allowed to pursue other religions.

Mrs. Ali had formerly served 20 months on a 1992 charge of apostasy. She pleaded that she was no longer a Muslim and shouldn't’t come under Sharia Law. Given her past violation of that law, and continued apostasy, the judge sentenced her again. My first (un-Christian) thought was bemusement at the picture of these folks conducting their services with the tea pot as a center piece.

Upon further consideration, she must have an unquestioning faith if she is willing to suffer imprisonment in a Malaysian jail for her belief. Would we be willing to do as much?

As I continued to think about the issue, I recalled the many times in counseling recovering alcoholics that I encouraged them to find any higher power they might choose. We were, and continue to be, non-sectarian. Their recovery was contingent upon realizing that they were not managing their lives all that well and God could and would, if He were sought. We often suggested that they could call on any named God they wanted – Ralph, Fred, or door knob – so long as it was not they. I have often offered the observation that my personal recovery started the day I was shaving and finally figured out the guy in the mirror was not God.

With this remembered discipline, I have changed my mind about Mrs. Ali. She gets it. It’s not a matter of forsaking Islam but rather recognizing she is dependent upon a higher power for her current and continued success. Behavior modification is not possible until we recognize that there is a power greater than we who can assist in the process.
The daffodils have poked up about six to eight inches. We now have plenty of cardinals, robins and other birds appropriate to the season. I played golf last week, did quite a bit of outside work, and generally just enjoyed myself outside between postings. For readers in other areas of the country this may not seem as exciting as it is to us. Some will say ho-hum and others will say you lucky stiffs.

With Easter (Resurrection Sunday?) fast approaching, it seems proper to fully consider that miraculous event. It’s time to review the gospels and recount the entire story. My most treasured personal moment comes in Matthew 28:2 : "angels of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone, from the door, and sat upon it.” The summation of the event is in verse 5 and they lead off with these treasured words, “He is not here; for He is risen . . .” They did not come to release the Christ. They came to demonstrate his prior departure. They knew full well He was not in the tomb. They then allowed themselves the almost whimsical moment of rolling back the stone and then sitting upon it. Thus they showed their disdain for the empty tomb. That physical resurrection prior to their arrival has become the keystone of my belief. Therein lies the promise. I pray I can keep up my end.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon