Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Questions

As the candidates desperately attempt to establish themselves as understanding the plight of the average Joe, several questions come to mind. They are not designed to work to the advantage of or the disparagement of a particular candidate, party affiliation, race, gender, age, creed or what have you. They apply as well to congressional aspirants to national and state office. As the selection process proceeds on its inexorable march to a conclusion ask yourself how your favorite would answer the following questions:

When, if ever, have you pumped a tank full of gas into your own car, gone into the C-store, paid, and then driven away all by yourself?

Did you ever stand at a meat counter and determine that pork is a far better buy—pound for pound—than beef and experience the folly of increasing corn prices for ethanol production and understand that it affects what is on your table?

Do you actually know that some people can rejoice to find a $7.50 shirt, which fits, on a clearance rack at Wal-Mart and enjoy wearing it?

Do you realize the same company’s independent decisions (along with other firms) to offer regularly renewable generic prescriptions for $4.00 are a Godsend for millions of Americans?

Are you even vaguely aware that most folks out in the heartland and flyover country go to church on Sunday to renew their relationship with a living God? Can you see their belief as genuine, personal and more important than man made doctrine?

Can you possibly absorb that most people would be happier to support you because of who and what you are than what you can promise?

When was the last time you actually opened a copy of the United States Constitution and seriously considered what the founding fathers had to say?

Have you ever remotely thought of the possibility that a simple “I don’t know” is an acceptable and understandable answer to a legitimate question?

Nobody else smiles and looks happy all the time, why do you insist upon it?

As you inventory your long held beliefs and inclinations on matters of importance to the electorate, are you comfortable telling the truth at all times? To every constituency?

Have you ever been called upon by a family member to take the garbage, and recyclables, to the curb?

When did you last operate a lawn mower, chain saw, axe, shovel (either snow or dirt,) weed whacker, rake, or any item commonly found in a garden shed?

Can you explain the reason for and the mechanics of a sacrifice bunt, a QB blitz, a foul line infraction, a 7-10 split, and Kentucky windage?

What is the purpose of a carburetor on a modern automobile?

Can you explain the role of deacon in current religious usage?

Can you define the word “Pentateuch?”

Is it possible in a genuine apology to use the word “if?”

A captain in the US Navy or a captain in the US Army; does one outrank the other?

Which are you more likely to “fill,” an open end straight or an inside straight?

Don’t peek but what regional center processes your return to the IRS?

The average voter would have no difficulty coming up with answers to these questions. Yes there are a few which would require some degree of special interest or experience. But on the whole they are things which the average bear has ready acquaintance. Some imply a lack of wealth well past normal creature comfort. Others require participation in everyday activities which huge numbers of Americans do daily.

Amidst the constant claims of understanding the wants and needs of others in our nation, I am convinced that they would mostly flunk this series of questions without exception. Two anecdotes come to mind: George H.W. Bush at a supermarket years ago but well after the common installation of bar code readers. He was amazed by the whole procedure. He had apparently not seen that which had been in use for the rest of us for years. The other example is equally ridiculous.

Early in the Clinton presidency the discussion of federally mandated cattle guards came up. When informed that we had approximately 5,000,000 currently in place he suggested that as a cost saving, the government should “fire half of them.” Keep that in mind the next time you drive over one.

These examples would be humorous if they were not indicative of the separation from reality these politicians have. Both former presidents were properly embarrassed by their gaffes but both demonstrated they were seriously out of touch with common perceptions and normality. Bar codes, cattle guards, health insurance, Social Security, education, foreign relations, war and other dangers from rogue regimes around the world require a sense of awareness and some common sense to confront.

The big question then becomes; how would your candidate react to these problems. Is he equipped to lead or legislate the simplest matters? If we ever needed prayers to our heavenly Father, the time is now.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, April 11, 2008

… Lend Me Your Ear

As you well know, I am fascinated by combining words to carry the message. With a versatile language such as English it is all the more a worthy enterprise. Today we have an offering which is exclusively presented in pictures. It needs no explanation.. In fact I really don’t believe that our tongue could possibly communicate it. Enjoy.

In His Abiding Love

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Loose Cannons

We are indebted to our nation’s naval history for many useful metaphors. Most people, vaguely understanding the intent, use them without genuine thoughtful reflection on the mechanics of their origin. With a nuclear powered navy it is somewhat difficult to relate to heavy beamed wooden ships rigged in full sail. Since no East coast harbor is complete without a vessel restored to pristine original condition, the opportunity to learn about the lore is abundant. Even the Mayflower (a replica) is tied up at the dock near the famous “rock” at Plymouth.

It was years after graduation when I first seriously thought of the meaning of our class motto. “Tis the set of the sail and not the gale which determines our destiny.” As I see my classmates at our frequent reunions and they speak of their lives, I realize that our challenge in the motto has been fulfilled. Their shared stories of a variety of adversity overcome are exemplary of the prediction. My first realization of the importance of the “set of the sail” came on Eibsee Lake in Germany when I rode the breeze in a small sailboat to the opposite side (about 2 miles) and then learned the hard way how to tack against the wind. Fifteen minutes down and two hours back proved that a “land lubber” hadn’t learned much about sailing in an Iowa corn field. It soon became apparent that I must learn to use what I had wisely rather than wait for a change in the direction of the wind.

One of my other favorites is the use of the expression “loose cannon.” On the gun deck of the USS Constitution, at a pier in Boston Harbor, one soon understands the importance of keeping guns secured.
The first lesson is to stoop to accommodate a six-foot frame in a five-foot ceiling. There are thirty 24# cannons, each of which weighs just short of three tons. With a crew of 6-14 men, the deck is crowded by an average of 300 men on the gun crews. The available space is further reduced by the base of three masts each with a diameter of 32”, the anchor capstan, powder and cannon balls. Each gun is fixed with cordage to allow controlled movement of the piece during recoil. Although primitive by today’s standards, it was “state of the art.”

The stress of firing and recoil were the major factor in cannons coming “loose” but at sea it was exacerbated by the pitch and roll of the ocean. This coupled with huge numbers of men present prevented escape from the danger. Members of the gun crew then were at the mercy of factors (careless riggers, weather, improper discipline, etc.) out of their control and possible victims of a deadly force.

Thus the “loose cannon” becomes the metaphor for a danger presented by an unanticipated and uncontrollable source, often in the heat of struggle. To see that which so dependably provides for your safety and security suddenly and inadvertently becomes the potential for your death or severe injury makes it complete.

In our heated political season, we have lately heard many individuals identified as “loose cannons.” Michelle Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, Geraldine Ferraro, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy Carter, Ann Coulter, Bill Richardson, various party campaign organizers and aides, are but a few who have been so identified. All have said or done things which appear to discredit their avowed loyalty to their party, their candidate or their country. The fall out from their actions or remarks have at the least embarrassed and at the worst seriously damaged credibility both at home and abroad. This has caused a round of defense, pleas of misstatement; denials, and an overall bad taste in the mouth of the electorate. The ultimate discipline is administered by the voters.

We also have those in the clergy who are subject to the comparison. The archbishop of Canterbury, Fred Phelps, Al Sharpton, Warren Jeffs, the entirety of the archdiocese of Boston, Jim Bakker, TV evangelists, are among those with a short-sighted view of the repercussions of their actions. Their antics will be dealt with on by a much higher power. To offend a candidate is one thing; to offend God is quite another.

As you conduct an inventory in your own clergy and congregation, I’m certain you can apply the metaphor without any problem. You might even be able to see the culprit in your mirror. I am pretty sure it was “Pogo” who was credited with saying, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

One other metaphor has a surprising origin on the high seas. The aforementioned cannons had a devastating affect from 25 to 75 yards. They remained both accurate and lethal up to 1200 yards. When used at their maximum range –1 mile—accuracy was left in the hands of providence. The likelihood of a successful hit was slim and hence, referred to as a “long shot.” This widely used term is falsely thought to have originated in the racing community but shares its origin on the gun decks of sailing ships with “loose cannons.”

Is it not interesting that in today’s routine speech that both politicians and clergy can find their efforts turned into a “long shot” by “loose cannons?” It’s almost poetic.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


About three decades ago I happened to be in a convention hall in Las Vegas where I was set up and selling Jewelry. My location was such that I was able to see the stage easily and watched a pair of talented illusionists perform the same act three times a day. One of the key features involved placing his confederate—an attractive lady who happened to be his wife—in a three section box and then separating the three boxes. They were then rejoined and she reappeared—intact.

He had asked if I would object to storing some of his equipment in my space and I agreed. We became good friends over the five day exposition. He frequently discounted my praise of their professionalism and offered to share the secrets which had provided me with so much entertainment. I declined. I did not wish to have my gullible acceptance of the illusion destroyed by knowledge of what actually took place during the act. I realized that familiarity of the procedure would rob me of further enjoyment.

I have been delighted watching magicians, slight-of-hand artists, and illusionists. The greater the fraud; the more I enjoy watching. Seeing elephants, two engine aircraft and the Statue of Liberty disappear rank right up there with life’s great moments. It is what it is—entertainment. I recognize it is not reality and that my attention has to be diverted for the successful completion of the illusion. I then become the willing partner to the fraud.

This all came to mind as I watch Barack (don’t use my middle name) Obama struggle to make Reverend Jeremiah Wright disappear. His attempt to construct a chimera out of a twenty year association refuses to go up in a puff of smoke. The topical comedians are having a field day with the whole affair. He has become fair game for all the big name late night hosts. You know you’re in trouble on the stage when the opening act funny men have enjoyed tremendous applause at your expense. His attempt to be one of the “guys” didn’t fare much better. A degree from Harvard isn’t much value in a bowling alley. Senator, my then six year old daughter did better on her first attempt at the lanes at Sam’s Town than your hapless 37 in 7 frames. 37??? The only successful illusion here is the concept that opening yourself to ridicule by the American public is a good election strategy.

Another great disappearing act came to mind when I thought about the elusive billing records from the Rose Law firm. The “magic” of a subpoena made then invisible. During the Whitewater investigation Senator Clinton managed this bit of legerdemain. The recovery phase came when they “miraculously” reappeared on a night stand. This act would be suitable for Caesar’s Palace or the MGM Grand. It’s almost as good as asserting that being the wife of a powerful man equates to having that experience oneself. By that standard, Bill should be prepared to carry and deliver their next child. Oh I forgot, they are both too old for that sort of thing.

Speaking of great disappearing acts, Senator McCain has managed to conveniently slip the McCain/Fiengold Act up his sleeve. This legislation which has allowed 527’s to corrupt the American political scene has gone the way of doves, roses, and bunnies up the arm and out of sight.

Because the enjoyment of a capable professional performance artist in no way affects the future of the republic; I can admittedly enjoy the show. Other than my individual pleasure, there is little at stake. For the others mentioned, however, it is of critical importance that we look past the glitter and deception to attempt to discern what the truths may be of their past records and behavior. Each has his own record of achievement and incidents best swept under the rug.

These are all human beings. They have and will continue to make mistakes. Since we all do that as well, we can easily understand. A mistake is quite different from intentional deception. Increasingly, we are subjected to deceit and fraud by those who would cloud the past, paint a rosy picture of the future, and seek our support for offices both great and small. Our only defense is individual research to seek the truth, constant questioning and most important, prayerful entreaties for guidance. Pastor, and president or party hack are all positions which require approval by vote. To neglect our responsibility in the selection process is to become that individual's willing accomplice.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pure Egotism

My spouse regularly accuses me – rightfully – of egotism. As a response, I offered the observation that every blogger has a measure of that dread characteristic as though that would be an adequate excuse. She, as web tech, did not help my affliction by supplying a new device on Zion Beckons which only furthered the problem. We now have a statisticians dream in our new “stat counter.”

This device, in all its electronic wonder, provides information in typical exponential excess of any sane person’s need for facts and figures about the response to the site. It comes complete with maps, pie charts, graphs, and individual accounts of each and every click of the mouse by visitors to gain access to Zion Beckons. To demonstrate the ridiculous detail of the service, we are aware not only of your IP address, city, state, country and what led you to the site but also your individual screen resolution and what operating system you are using. Thankfully it omits details about the color of your eyes, your weight and the depth of your spiritual condition.

Since I brought it up I will share some facts I found particularly interesting. Although you readers are largely from the United States, you will also be found in Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong. I am pleased to observe that 37.7% of you spend more than five minutes reading with 32.7% of you spending in excess of an hour reading the site. Even more pleasing is that 53.7% of you come back for additional visits. Folks who study these things indicate that you represent an extremely hard core constituency. We are blessed to have you in support of our efforts.

In relation to popular blogs, with “stat” counters registering in the millions, we are indeed very small fish in a very large ocean. It was not our intention to ever be the Drudge Report or Instapundit. When you reach that point it requires huge servers and an immense cash outlay to support the readership. It seems unlikely we will ever be asked to participate in a White House bloggers panel.

We fully understand that without your participation, this blog is a fool’s errand. This is why I am so happy to have all this additional information about you. We strongly urge you to communicate with us for the eventual improvement of our offerings. Feedback either negative or positive is always appreciated. There is nothing to buy here and no requests have ever been made for financial support. Other than time and a few disagreeable internal conversations about editing there is little stress or strain to produce this blog. In the final analysis, Zion Beckons is yours to use and enjoy.

We invite comments and experienced users know we also invite guest commentary as posters. Even if you disagree, you are welcome to make your case. Be prepared for a rebuttal if the issue is contentious.

We thank you for your continued readership and pray for your further understanding.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 32

It’s the same old problem. It is really difficult to work up an enthusiastic rant on a beautiful Spring day in the Ozarks. The dogwoods are in full bloom, the trees are rank with birds in transit and the grass is coming back to its full growth. The drive (70 miles) to Miami, OK this morning for the sacrament service provided the proper setting of preparation. The only climate change I am interested in is the one which is dependably provided by God with each coming season. No time for boredom here; there is a new challenge offered every time another calendar page is torn off.

Browsing the net I happened to visit a site called Inside Higher Education and gleaned some astonishing numbers. At issue was the ratio of actual class room personnel to administration and the accompanying changes in the ratio. On average, in 2004 50.6% of the employees were in daily contact with students supposedly imparting knowledge. By 2006, the figure had diminished to 48.6% with the balance being involved in administration. These figures were from four different categories of colleges and universities. With public non-profit leading the way and two year commuter colleges bring up the rear with the least administrative personnel.

The commenters on the site provided some insight for what I considered an imbalance. They pointed out that there was little in the ancient academy I attended for positions to handle diversity, racial preferences, governmental interface and dozens of other issues which require a director and an office staff. Back in the day, when some kid got out of hand, “coach”, the ag guy or the principal handled it. “Handled” is just another way of saying closed fist. In that institution, admittedly small, we had a 2 to 1 student/teacher ratio and 81.125% were faculty. I am generously including the secretary as administration. The only thing today’s student is going to learn from an administrator is how to deal with a bureaucracy. Given the state of government at all levels that lesson may indeed be valuable.

As you can plainly see, this is a growing problem. At the current rate of increase we may wind up with the professorate added to the endangered species list.
I hardly know where to begin on this one. First, a disclaimer; I am now and have been since I was 9, a firearms owner and user and currently a life member of the National Rifle Association. During one period of my life I held a Federal Firearms license and operated a gun store (Cochise Trading Co..) I understand and review the second amendment to the Constitution on a regular basis.

Among the rights restored to the emancipated slaves in 1860 was the equality of protection by the second amendment. All Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. But—it is not so in the District of Columbia. Ownership there is prohibited by law. Inasmuch as the population of the District is largely African-American, this prohibition is especially difficult to understand. I thought we straightened this out nearly a hundred fifty years ago.

The result of this ban is a population largely defenseless in the face of a well armed criminal element. Small wonder they have the highest murder rate of any large American city. Fortunately, a lower court overturned the ban saying it was unconstitutional. Now the District is appealing to the Supreme Court. It will be the first time in many years that the issue has been brought before the court. The single most contentious point is whether the second amendment is a guarantee of an “individual” right. Most scholars agree that it is but as usual, there are nay sayers. They ignore the simple fact that a continuous string of the amendments are clearly a matter of individual rights and choose to exempt that one alone from the rest as a collective right—that is to say, a militia.

Since few of us live in the District, why do we care? We care because it is an attack on individualism. It projects the government as our protector.. They portray a picture of a cop on every street corner, willing and able to protect each individual citizen from thugs and crazed druggies. We are well aware that that is not the truth. Yes, any officer will happily rise to your defense if he witnesses a crime in progress. Unfortunately, he is rarely there and will likely only be called in later to help clean up the mess. It is a ridiculous fiction to believe that the law has the capacity to protect you in your home.

I bring this to your attention because it has a long term affect on your right to defend your home and loved ones. I have watched a relentless attack on the right to firearms ownership over the last half century. I am sickened by the obvious lies and half truths which are used to support the opposition position.

No oppressive government—Nazis, USSR, Fascists or tin pot dictator—has ever attempted to control the people without first disarming them. Stay interested in this issue because it could well matter to you whether you are a gun owner or not.
When you are a grumpy old man there is always something to complain and rant about. I do have to admit that the glory of God’s great wonders have left me a little subdued but I’m sure I’ll hit my stride again.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon