Friday, June 20, 2008

Welcome to the “Intertubes”

Nothing like a slow Friday—thank God—to welcome a fellow blogger. In this case she also happens to be my bride of twenty four years and after publishing two books, well qualified as a writer. Her first two posts are up on More Than Conquerors and ready for your perusal. Check her out and voice your opinion. She’s a big girl and can take it.

I am extremely happy she has decided to resume writing. Every gift we have from our Creator needs a certain amount of exercise.

It’s probably just as well she didn’t see this article in the Nashville Tennessean since she developed the premise very thoroughly. It speaks to the issue she addresses in her most recent post.

We actually do find some areas of agreement despite, like many other couples, marriage is another way to describe warfare. This link speaks to the issue of manmade and man-inspired “doctrine.” Most of these dos and don’ts are dependent upon a snippet of scripture and a lot of personal prejudice. I have long maintained that if you set your mind to it and choose to develop some personal premise, there is plenty of isolated scripture to use to build your case.

There is the tease; now click on the links and enjoy,

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Total Disconnect

I just read a quote from a prominent Senate leader and was absolutely stunned.

In response to a question from a reporter concerning the current mortgage rates, the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Chris Dodd (D-Conn) answered: “I don’t know what the rates are today.” I can certainly understand why Senator Dodd would plead ignorance on the issue. Currently being accused of accepting an “insider” loan from Countrywide at more favorable rates than those available to the general public, would be cause to deny knowledge of mortgage rates. He, along with a minimum of at least six other politicians was apparently a recipient of the favorable loan rate on personal properties.

While the response might be understandable for the others, it certainly is inexcusable on the part of the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. What part of “banking” does he not understand? Knowledge of varying rates for different commodities is the life blood of banking. It is the fundamental unit of measure of each and every transaction in the industry. Without interest; banking would cease to exist. Anybody with a hollow tree could probably “store” money.

Banking is not about free coffee pots for opening an account and attractive leatherette check book covers; it is about the usury exercised on customer accounts. When little kids set up a lemonade stand and eke out a profit of $7.34, proud parents hustle them off to the bank to set up an interest bearing savings account to demonstrate the principle. Here they learn to deposit every $5.00 birthday check they get from Grandma and learn about the joys of compound interest. Their new found knowledge of gaining wealth without actual toil is standard currency in middle schools and below.

Apparently this venerable pol skipped third grade and failed to learn of the relationship of banking and interest. He did not, however, skip the back room primers on how to leverage political influence for favored status. These are probably far more valuable lessons on advancing wealth in the real world.

Johnny Carson had a standard set piece line which always elicited a groan from the audience. When presented with an obvious truth he said, “I didn’t know that!” It a good bit for a comedy stchick but a lousy response for the chairman of a powerful committee. This is a shame at so many levels.

I have in my life known many people who called Connecticut home, including a favorite uncle, and considered them more sophisticated than average. Apparently I was wrong. They seem to be able to elect as many sleaze balls to government service as Chicago machines, California loony tunes, New York “john” supporters and folks in Massachusetts who turn a blind eye to vehicular manslaughter.

It seems the first item on the list of the contents of the missing bag on a flight to Washington, D.C. is truth. Between election and arrival it is commonly misplaced. They don’t call them “cloak” rooms for no reason. These anterooms just off the Senate floor are too often named for their use as a verb and not a noun to describe what they store.

I encourage you, if you have the opportunity, to seriously question your representatives. Those who are worthwhile will give you thoughtful consideration. They may honestly disagree with you. Please, please, don’t waste your franchise on glibness, good looks and placebos. These men and women have an important job; only you can pick the right individual to perform the people’s work.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fear and Faith, II

I posted my first observations on fear and faith on Saturday, June 14. Since then, I have had time to think even more about those two cornerstones of understanding the Almighty. I became uncertain that I had presented the case for fear as well as I should. We have an abundance of every day analogy to substantiate an actual need for fear.

It is well known among men with dangerous occupations that they prefer to work alongside others who have a measure of fear. Fear engenders respect for the unsafe tasks at hand. It is an inner mechanism which prompts preparation to face danger and requires the participant to stifle any cavalier attitudes or rash behavior. Among my favorite History Channel programs are “Ice Road Truckers,” “Axe Men,” “Deadliest Catch,” and a new one about the perils of the “oil patch.” Working in these dangerous environments, the men portrayed all admit to and understand the importance of fear as part of their job. Only after they clearly understand the perils thoroughly are they able to ply their chosen occupations successfully. In each case, they seek personal goals but not to the exclusion of the realities of their work.

During the late seventies and the eighties, we as a family were in the gun, knife and martial arts equipment business. Our lives were wrapped up in handling dangerous weapons on a constant basis. I freely acknowledge that a pervasive constant fear was a part of that enterprise. We formed a set of rules which were useful for our well being then and they continue to serve all our family members to this day. Never reach for a falling knife; better a broken product than an injured hand. ALL firearms are loaded; once that concept is ingrained and heeded, there is no chance of accidental discharge. A complete knowledge of the potential for harm then allows for the safe handling and storage of dangerous merchandise such as gun powder, ammunition and edged weapons. In the knife department, our crudely formed motto signaled the warning for each day: “If it don’t shave, it ain’t sharp!” We enjoyed a reputation in our community of customers as a group of happy, fun loving guys who took weapons handling very seriously.

In the military, the general rule is that heroes are feted after the fact but not encouraged. A man seeking to show his bravado is shunned by those who are engaged in the deadly arts of war. Most men who have earned citations for valor under fire in retrospect have often questioned their own actions as foolhardy even though necessary. In most circumstances their recognition of the common good overrode their sense of self. Early in my military experience it was my privilege to have Captain Tomaczk as a company commander. He held that most precious of military decorations, the Congressional Medal of Honor which he had been awarded during WWII. His manner and deportment was closer to your tax accountant than it was to Rambo. There was no loud talk, rash action, or self aggrandizement in his makeup. His most intense desire was that we all be trained well to insure our survival. Although a matter of public record, he never offered to share how he came to receive the award.

As a man, my experiences have emphasized men and fear. In no way do I imply that fear only regulates the lives of men. It is also that which drives women to undertake the vicissitudes of life with understanding and courage.. Who among us has not known women who have faced down life’s challenges despite concerns for the world about them? Even the prospect of that most marvelous experience of bringing the newborn life has to be rife with fear. Once again we see fear abated by the concern for others.

My prompting to add to this subject was presented by the arrival of three golfers this morning. The group was a father and two sons. The kids, about 11 and 13, were standard for the Ozarks. Happy, smiling, courteous, eager and hungry, were all descriptive as they came into the snack bar. The father would have been exceptional in any venue. He played the Goliath to their David. He was huge, not fat and awkward but three hundred well placed pounds he carried with grace. He shared all the characteristics I just mentioned for the kids. As I saw his gentleness demonstrated with the younger boy, I immediately recalled my treatise about faith and fear. Here in front of my eyes was the demonstration of our ideal relationship with God. A visible example, it could be understood by the most hardened sinner.

Here was a man of great strength and power with the gentleness of a lamb. He is a man with the potential to react with deadly violence who showed superb patience with these two youngsters in his care. Their response to him showed the return of his love, their eagerness to please and their unflagging respect. I was stunned to be witness to an excellent example of what had been occupying my mind. I could claim that God staged this for me to fully appreciate our relationship. I would, but, I think that examples of His love surround us daily if our minds are only attuned.

As they departed down the first hole I noted that all three were in the cart together. As course marshal, I winked at our rules because I knew he would not choose between the lads to ride with him. For what it’s worth, the thirteen year old was by far the best golfer of the group. I had already established who the current best father was. I suspect as a result of having the father they do, the boys will each be in contention for the title at a later date.

So I have come to the conclusion that whether you are handling bombs, boys, babies, or Bowie knives, fear is an extremely healthy thing. Personally I have come away from the entire experience with a far better understanding of my relationship with my heavenly Father.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 42

Sunday morning was an absolute delight. The drive over to Miami was exceptionally beautiful in spite of the left over high water and tornado damage. It served as a reminder that those of us who did not suffer loss or inconvenience have much to be thankful for. You can easily see evidence of caring on the part of their neighbors, friends and families.

We were treated to the blessing of a tiny little girl and a rousing sermon from Mark Churchill. Mark hails from Australia and no one needed to announce the fact. His delivery of well prepared and thoughtful remarks was appreciated and I hope, taken to heart by all. It is always a pleasure to see young men assume the pulpit with such authority. I found his choice of subject matter especially appropriate—Jesus Christ.

Could we call it a “life” sentence?

After four plus years in the Ozarks I find little regret over that which I left behind in Las Vegas. That is, of course beside the family and friends, and the grandchildren. One thing I do miss is the Las Vegas Review Journal. This is probably attributable to the attitude of their editorial staff and our general agreement on the issues of the day. Fortunately, since the R-J is on line I don’t have to be shut out entirely. They have an excellent website which keeps me up to date on who shot who and which politico has embarrassed the electorate most recently.

One of their most articulate writers is a gentleman who is assistant editorial page editor. Mr. Vin Suprynowwicz, author of the “The Black Arrow,” has been with the R-J for years and is a highly experienced editor. Imagine my surprise when I found the following paragraph on a piece he wrote:

“First, before anyone tries to insist that 'most illegal aliens aren't on welfare,' let's stipulate once again that the so-called 'public schools' are one of our most vastly expensive welfare programs -- a massive wealth redistribution scheme funding a humongous make-work government hamster wheel that loots money under threat of force from the paychecks and bank accounts of those who choose to educate their children at their own expense or to bear no children at all, and transfers it to 'benefit' those who care so little for their own offspring that they are content to have their spirits broken and their young minds 'molded' by paper-pushing government functionaries I wouldn't trust to train my cat.”

We shall visit what he says presently but for now I have a question; is that the longest sentence you ever saw in your life? One hundred fourteen words and I’ll bet he thought of something he wishes he’d added before the day was over. I found the thought so arresting that it didn’t even dawn on me to think about the mechanics until later. Vin, you are no doubt the champ.

If you are interested in the rest of the piece I would suggest you click here. He is, as you will see, a libertarian of the first water and leaves little doubt as to his opinion. Agree or disagree, his openness is refreshing.

Minnesotans for Global Warming

We have regular readers who have recently moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from Wisconsin. Adrienne and Philip and family are on our minds and in our prayers always as they forge a new life as “Youppers.” Having driven the Greyhound run to Calumet on the Keweenaw Peninsula in the dead of winter, I fully realize the rigors of the north. The parking meters are on the sides of the buildings at eye level. They average 280 inches of snow per year and the streets are merely tunnels through the snow.

Elmer and Daryl are neighbors in Minnesota and they put together a tape to musically express their feelings on the desirability of global warming. If your internet connection routinely runs feeds I think you will enjoy their offering. Since I’ve been through it, I can easily understand their urgency in having a little of that global warming for their very own.

Floods and Old Friends

Six of my most formative years were spent in the towns along the Cedar River in Iowa. From age 12 to 18 I had strong ties from Waterloo/Cedar Falls through Cedar Rapids and on to nearby Iowa City. I married a girl from Cedar County. I went to scout camp at Inguanas on the Cedar. This was my back yard during some of the happiest days of my life. You can then imagine my horror at watching coverage of the devastation as a result of their recent and ongoing flooding.

I have called my old classmates—the few that are left—to check on them and get the latest news on events which affect their lives. Although none—thank God—are in immediate danger or need assistance they join me in recoiling in dismay at the circumstance. Each of us has a similar memory of each of these flooded areas. Those I talked to have opened their arms and their homes to others, known and strangers, to give assistance.

In reading pages on the web devoted to coverage of the events, I note in the comments that most are not content to wait for the government to come and rescue them. Their concern is making the best of it, surviving, and starting over. There is a strong contingent of the US Coast Guard out of St Louis ready for rescue operations but the people have followed the evacuation orders so the there is little need.

I remain convinced that the people of this country are far stronger than the politicians who represent them. They willingly share with others, care for the poor and disadvantaged, and gravitate to good. It’s not just Iowa, I see it nearly everywhere. We are so deluged by the doom and gloom of the press that it is refreshing to see average citizens rise to meet a crisis and handle it without a focus group. They refuse to wait for a “hand out” before they give a “hand up.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon