Saturday, March 29, 2008

Robed Despotism

Totalitarian movements have long used the technique of silencing to stifle dissent on the part of their critics. Tales of jailed and deported protestors have been a staple of complaint about these regimes. In countries with a despotic rule it is not unusual to hear of seizure of the media to promulgate the agenda of those in charge. We readily and justifiably decry this in government but what about in the pulpit?

An article in the Wall street Journal caught my attention. Briefly, it concerns the cancellation of one of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s radio features broadcast on KFUO-AM in St Louis. The program, “Issues, etc.,” has been a venerable feature for the oldest run religious station in the nation for years and features guests of every denominational and political stripe. Interestingly, this development came during Holy Week and raised a huge level of concern among its faithful listeners.

The back story here is one with which Restorationists have great familiarity. Our Lutheran neighbors have been fighting within their organization for the preservation of the full Christian template as outlined in the scriptures and, as they see it, with those who would alter the message to one of social consciousness. The usurpers have come forth with a “Purpose Driven Church” approach to replace their emphasis on sacraments and liturgy. Does this sound like something we have heard before? Why do we care? After all, these are Lutherans and not Saints.

We should be concerned with any abridgement of the deep meanings of faith and our mutual attempts to become closer to the Master and to His teachings. For the Lutherans or the Saints to accept any compromise to accept feel good doctrine is to insult our God. Are our faith and our knowledge of the Lord so inadequate that we must resort to trickery and artificial devices to lure the youth to understanding? The message which the Savior brings is one of salvation; not self help and self improvement. If one understands the message, the balance comes along as a result and not the primary goal.

Rick Warren admits on his website that the determining factor for the worship style at Saddlebrook was not a result of fasting, prayer and scriptural reference. He plainly states that he polled the existing congregation and asked what their favorite music radio station was. Upon discovering their preference, he then tailored the service to meet their temporal needs. Faith through marketing then allowed the church to experience unbelievable growth. "Give ‘em what they want." Did Jesus Christ do pre-focus group polling before he gave the Sermon on the Mount?

The response to cancellation of the program must have been heartening to the producers. They reported thousands (and growing) of reactions from “49 states, 27 denominations, and 23 countries.” It takes time, effort, and courage to defend the work of Jesus Christ. May we all be blessed with the will to do likewise.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, March 28, 2008

Don’t Miss It

Just so you don’t miss the “second coming” of the recently appointed “messiah” of the Church of Global Warming, I’m giving you a “heads up.” This Sunday, March 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, his holiness will be on “Sixty Minutes.” In an advance release of the various parts of the conversation between Al Gore and Leslie Stahl he has finally revealed what I am thinking about a number of issues.

Since I am a global warming skeptic of the first water and would mistrust Mr. Gore on principal I believe I was personally covered by his remarks. Since I don’t worship at the altar of carbon offsets, he declares that I obviously don’t believe we ever sent a man to the moon and that I also embrace the concept of the “flat earthers.” It’s true that coming northeast out of Amarillo, TX last October the flat earth argument seemed to be pretty well substantiated by the appearance of that landscape. Fortunately, I didn’t drive off the edge and made it home safely. At least I was in good company; he lumped me in with Dick Cheney.

I also learned that I do owe the “messiah” an apology for misrepresenting his book and movie as additional income. I mentioned in an earlier post that he had experienced exponential growth in his income due to investments and I said it was augmented by the proceeds from the book and movie. Apparently he donated much of the proceeds of those two ventures to The Alliance for Climate Protection and lessened his actual income by about 10% for the period or roughly $3,000,000.00. I regret the mistake and hope than he can forgive me for not checking that out.

The organization which was the beneficiary of Gore’s largesse is starting a $300,000.000 campaign next month in support of global warming. He has apparently gained support from the most eclectic group of celebrities you can imagine: Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi, Toby Keith and – drum roll please – the Dixie Chicks.

CBS, true to form, identifies us non-believers as “climate change” skeptics. Not true! No sane person could be skeptical about climate change. Those of us who disagree with the “messiah” recognize the cyclic nature of climate. What we object to is the crippling of the world’s economies to counter imagined threats which are offered as certainties. As an example let us turn to National Public Radio – hardly a bastion of anti-socialist thought..

On Morning Edition, March 19, 2008 we learned that Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory emphasizes the ocean’s role in global warming. He claims that 80% to 90% of the change involves oceanic heating and is a more important factor than the atmosphere. They have been using the Argo system since 2003. They placed over 3000 buoys which go down to nearly 3000 feet to measure oceanic temperatures with robotic instruments.

His (Willis) critical quote is: “There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant.” He generally acknowledges that “something mysterious” is going on.

The mystery deepens when you realize that warming enlarges the volume of the oceans and consequently a sea level rise occurs. In this circumstance, we have even to slightly cooling temperatures accompanied by a slight sea level rise.

He and others went on to discuss the enigma, offering various theories and postulates involving melting glaciers, and arctic ice floes and escaping heat in the atmosphere and extreme subsurface warming of the deepest reaches of the seas. The final comment was the telling one and I quote: “there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with heat.” Translation: we don’t know. I certainly appreciate his candor. He may actually be a “global warming” apostate. I truly believe that as a serious scientist Willis would rather acquire the data and then form a conclusion.

Meanwhile, back at CBS, the messiah has the conclusion even though he lacks the science. There is hope however. It’s entirely possible, with the party in absolute disarray, the Democrats may draft him to run again and jettison their star players who have accumulated so much recent animosity within the ranks in recent days.

At every level, the only real victim has been the truth. God help us all.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Getting to Know You

As we continue to watch the circus known as the nominating process for president, we reinforce our understanding of the necessity to maintain good companions. The longer we are exposed to each of them, the more we see their character evidenced by the company they keep. Given the comprehensive coverage by the media in all its shapes and forms we are able to gather far more information than the candidates wish to share. This data is in exponential excess compared to even as recent an election as 2000. If you Google any of their names you will come up with references in the tens of millions.

All senators are on official record with their respective votes on critical issues to the electorate. They chair, participate in and contribute to various committees and that also becomes part of the public record. This actually does form a somewhat accurate predictor for their future governing style. Even a cursory examination of those voting records reveals a general bias toward each one’s ideological identification. Some would probably say even more so than the company they keep. I disagree.

Our relatives are inescapable but the choice of our friends is a matter of agency. Although earnest discussions of vital issues are always welcome, would any sane person seek companionship from persons with whom they are in constant and heated disagreement? Once a friendship is established, would a faithful buddy ignore you to the extent that he was completely unaware of your positions on matters of great importance? That really doesn’t seem like much of a friend to me. It strikes me as opportunistic exploitation. “Yeah, I’ll be your friend, only if I have something to gain.”

After a riotous night on the town (I know, that doesn’t describe you!) and you wake up in jail; a friend comes to bail you out. Your best friend can’t do that because he’s sitting on the cot beside you in the cell. It’s a crude metaphor but it does define friendship. We are in this together. That certainly doesn’t make him a “role model” but at least he shares your values – good or bad. When the melee started, he didn’t hear the sirens and flee. He decided to remain and the two of you took the worst of it together.

Due to the nature of their “calling,” politicians live in a world of compromise and accommodation. That’s probably why so many assert “it makes for strange bedfellows.” This is not meant to excuse the latest exposures of unwholesome relationships but to supply some sense to why we may expect our “idols” to have feet of clay. They are human and subject to the entire range of human foibles. They follow the urgency of the moment without thought to the long range implications. This of course is what makes some of them unsuitable to lead the greatest country in the world.

We have been spoiled by some of the great presidents in our past. We have been led by men of superior character and not a few dunces. Use your own bias to supply the names. In every case, the republic has survived. It will again. The executive is only one of three branches of government. They bear a mutual constitutionally given responsibility and each branch should be willing to share the credit and the blame. If we see the candidates as celebrities and not prospective statesmen we will probably neglect our own responsibilities.

I do have a suggestion though. Examine those persons the prospects are close to and those they choose to emulate. A hundred fifty years ago, the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is quoted as saying; “We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.” We readily recognize in our own lives that strong friendship require we give up some of ourselves to sustain the relationship.. Are the candidates giving up too much?

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Company’s Coming

One of the joys of having guests, in addition to the fellowship, is the necessity of “getting the joint cleaned up.” I am sure you know the drill. She has her priorities and concepts of cleanliness; I have mine. I lean toward pick up, with a major emphasis on tidying up those things which are at waist level and above. She is preoccupied with floor, baseboards, and the places inhabited by pets. I become concerned with the first impression given by the outside of the property and she centers her efforts within. Our only really shared responsibilities are the kitchen, guest room, and bath. We assault the house and completely ignore the guest’s request that we “don’t go to any trouble for us.” Ed. note: Martha in her finest hour.

As we await their arrival we slump in chairs and one of us always asks: “Why don’t we do this all the time?” We have in our married history, kept houses ready to be shown at a moments notice to prospective buyers. Trust me, we understand what a pain in the neck that exercise can be. Having that attitude has saved us the embarrassment of explaining endless aspects of functional items because the assumption is made that the home must be in fine shape because it looks well kept. This was especially true with our property in Las Vegas because the overall problem was exacerbated by the pool – a mistake I shall never make again. If the pool is not pristine, nothing else matters. If your pool looks like a fetid swamp it will diminish the price by 20% or more.

I dwell on this business because I see a parallel to preparations in our spiritual lives. How often do we become excited by isolated events (passages in the Bible?) and scurry to make things right. Regular readers know that I constantly charge them with reading the before and after of every powerful verse. If it’s verse 15, we need to read from the start of the chapter to see what led to the pronouncement and then follow to the end to understand the result. How many times do I hear a verse cited with little understanding of the entire context? Who said it? Who heard it? Where did it occur? When was it uttered? What was going on at the time? What was the necessity? What was the outcome? We do not get this information from one verse and sometimes not from the entire chapter. To give the gospel the importance it deserves requires that we be thorough in our efforts.

Are we prepared, spiritually, to proclaim that our house is in order? Can we demonstrate at any given moment, without additional preparation, that we fully understand the love of Jesus Christ and our role in propagating the faith? Most guests have the courtesy to call in advance and proffer a time frame for their arrival. Christ has done the same for us. He has added a note of mystery though. He has promised to come “as a thief in the night.” I take from this that He is saying we should not treat our faith as a part time job. He will come when He will and it our responsibility to be prepared to receive Him. “Honey, the boss is coming to dinner” pales to insignificance compared to the arrival of our Lord.

For a practicing Christian, the need for constant maintenance of our spiritual lives is an absolute necessity. Sweeping it under the rug may work when your mother-in-law calls but it is a dangerous activity for the advent of the Lord. Although some may disagree, I see the time of His coming as immaterial if I have made the effort to be ready. I do not really believe He would understand if I were a “Sunday only” type. That day was set aside after the work of the week had been accomplished. Since He is present during every moment of my life my task is clear. I must be constantly prepared for my ever present and ever welcome guest.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Missed Egg

One of the perils of the week after Easter Sunday is the inevitable discovery of an egg which the children missed. It sits nestled in the grass behind the Sycamore awaiting the joyous laughter of a child who never came. They have all gone on to other childish pastimes and finally donned their new finery for more sober church attendance. There, they no doubt relearned the story of our Lord’s suffering and the exhilarating story of his re-ascension from the tomb. Hopefully, they understood the very personal importance of the event. If not now, perhaps, with our guidance, as they mature it will become clear.

This causes me to wonder what we may have overlooked in the process as well. Were we able to take the time amidst preparing dinner, readying for company, or supervising the egg-roll, to meditate on our place in this most important celebration? This historical fact is the linch-pin which binds us all. We are not Christians because of his birth; we are bound by the mutual promise held in the resurrection. We have been invited to share in the miracle by our kind and loving Father. Once shed of the earthly life, we can then proceed to an eternity with Him. This promise of reward for our diligence in following the Master is what brings joy into every believer’s heart despite our earthly cares.

The kings brought gifts to the birth of the Savior. We faithfully emulate them during the Christmas season. I find this curious in consideration of the magnitude of the gift of the resurrection. Surely that exceeds the value of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It does, in fact, outweigh anything which one can imagine on this earth. In personal experience, I have found that the most appreciated gifts are those which I have hand-crafted in my shop. Their monetary value is minimal but the recipients appear to appreciate the expenditure of thought, effort, and time which is the currency of the gift. Likewise, I shall offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for extending his personal hand to each and every Christian for providing His ever-so-personal gift.

These afterthoughts demand a re-visit to one of the greatest assignments ever given to angels. “. . .for two angels of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” (Matt 28:2) This is a major happening. To be picked to be the agent of this momentous revelation causes one to wonder what their lives must have been like. God singled them out to reveal to the women and to the world that life after death is a reality. They also did it with flare. It was preceded by an earthquake and once accomplished, “Their “they sat upon it. Their countenance was like lightening, and their raiment white as snow.” (v 3) They demonstrated the full power and majesty of the Author of their visit. Once they had their attention, and only then, did they deliver their message, “He is risen!” (v 5)

This summation tells it all. He is risen. What more do we need? Jesus Christ has provided the entire reason for being. Praise God and enjoy your own personal reflections on this holiest of seasons.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 30

Although I avoid out and out partisan politics, my attention has been drawn this week to the speech by Barak don’t-use-my-middle-name Obama. If you have doubts about which speech, you have my sympathies for your broken TV, radio, internet and interrupted delivery of your newspaper. To say the reaction of the voting public is not conclusive is to ignore the result of every pollster and pundit.

For those who have suffered this loss (?) he brought forth an apologetic to cover the outrageous diatribes of one of his close mentors and campaign advisors. Clouded in denial and pleading lack of awareness of Rev. Wright’s twenty-year presence in the pulpit of Obama’s church, he used his superb rhetorical skills to make his case. There was little in the remarks to advance the thought that we have made any progress in this country toward achieving any racial balance.

Each of us, I believe, has an anecdotal view of race relations. Many of us plead, “Some of my best friends are black.” Others recall a friendship or an unfortunate encounter. We tend to form opinions based on these isolated experiences and formulate an outlook thereon. Unless you are professionally occupied in research into the social sciences, this limited exposure will assure a very restricted and highly subjective view of the issue.

Living in Las Vegas until 2003, we experienced a constant interaction with a very large black community. I found there the usual mix of people one encounters in any large group. There were plenty of capable, intelligent, responsible and generally likeable folks. Within the demographic were also bums, liars, cheats, welfare queens and other unsavory characters. That is to say, seeing them as a group was pretty much like looking at our congress. To formulate an reliable stereotype would be not only impossible but also unreasonable. Observation of other large racial and foreign national groups had the same result.

Living in the Ozarks since has deprived us of the interaction with any measurable number of blacks. The largest sub-group here is people of Mexican origin. In this circumstance, we are more dependent upon others for information rather than relying upon our own personal experience. As usual, that is a dangerous path to follow. The experts (?) also form their evaluations on personal encounters. That doesn’t mean they are wrong but rather that they are not always right.

You and I, as Latter Day Saints, should have a clear understanding of being subject to the outcome of misinformation and prejudice. Our predecessors bore the brunt of being run out of town, tarred and feathered, and even murdered for their beliefs. Even today, Book of Mormon believers are accused of not being Christian. This prejudice is predicated upon ignorance. I would hope that this history would leave us better prepared to deal with current representations of prejudice by everyone (black, white, etc.) who is offering an opinion.

Mr. Obama, a word of advice: we are known by the company we keep so perhaps it would be well to completely disassociate yourself from the reverend Jeremiah Wright.
In the oft-repeated lies department, I have just recently become aware of some interesting allegations and the truth about them:

1. The US is dependent upon Persian Gulf oil supplies.
Fact: We import only 15.2% of our crude oil from Persian Gulf countries.

2. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer of US imported crude oil.
Fact: Canadian imports are 164% of Saudi imports, Mexico is 112% of Saudi imports and our own gulf coast produces 200.5% more than Saudi imports.

3. Crude oil production is steadily on the rise.
Fact: Production from July 07 to Dec 07 declined evenly by 9.4%.

If you have any interest in advancing gasoline prices, I suggest you refer to number 3 to find part of the answer. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Lower production equals a lesser supply. That lower supply results in a higher end price because demand remains consistent. You still have to get to work, shop, and go to church. I know it’s always nice to assign the blame to a huge corporation or the government, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

Again we have the oft repeated warning about the abundance of false information being distributed by the agenda driven. Beware the snake oil salesmen who would fill your head with untruth.
On this most sacred of all days, the celebrated resurrection of our Savior, I came across this entry. I will cite it intact, without commentary, so you may form your own thoughts. It appeared in The Corner On Line and was authored by Mark Steyn.

“Keep the Christ in Christmas... .
..but take Him out of Easter:

The pastors at this church in Raleigh, North Carolina, were perplexed when they saw the Holy Week Sunday school lessons for preschoolers from "First Look," the publisher of the one to five year-old Sunday school class materials. There wasn't a mention of the resurrection of Jesus. Naturally, the pastors inquired about the oversight. It turns out it was no oversight...

'Easter is a special time in churches,' the letter from the publisher says. 'It's a time of celebration and thankfulness. But because of the graphic nature of the Easter story and the crucifixion specifically, we need to be careful as we choose what we tell preschoolers about Easter..'

So now the story ends with the Last Supper - and presumably afterwards Jesus and His friends watch Elmo and then go to bed. That the foundational event of your faith is now excessively "disturbing" is almost too parodic a reductio of the Wimp Christianity of the mainline churches.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon