Saturday, July 12, 2008

Advice from the Padre

Unlikely as it may seem, I actually found this in a column by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. She quotes some keen observations on marriage from Father Pat Conner. At 79, he can look back upon decades of marriage counseling in addition to his missionary activity in India, and offer “common sense” advice to those smitten by the “love bug.” Most important, he offers advice on signs of impending failure in marriage.

“Hollywood says you can be deeply in love with someone and then your marriage will work,” the twinkly eyed, white-haired priest says. “But you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you cannot be successfully married.”

Father Conner has been giving his talk to high school kids for 40 years and comments, “It’s important to do it before they fall seriously in love, because then it will be too late,” he explains. “Infatuation trumps judgment.”

Although immediate prospects of marriage may not be in your near future, the substance of his talk may be of interest to your children or grandchildren. There is a ton of wisdom here:

“Never marry a man who has no friends. This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, ‘Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,’ what are his friends like? What do your friends and family members think of him? Sometimes, your friends can’t render an impartial judgment because they are envious that you are beating them in the race to the altar. Envy beclouds judgment.

“Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money — she’s thrifty, he’s on his 10th credit card.

“Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours. It’s good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it’s your husband.

“Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings? When he wants to make a decision, say, about where you should go on your honeymoon, he doesn’t consult you, he consults his mother. (I’ve known cases where the mother accompanies the couple on their honeymoon!)

“Does he have a sense of humor? That covers a multitude of sins. My mother was once asked how she managed to live harmoniously with three men — my father, brother and me. Her answer, delivered with awesome arrogance, was: ‘You simply operate on the assumption that no man matures after the age of 11.’ My father fell about laughing.

“A therapist friend insists that ‘more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.’ The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, ‘In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.’

“Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. He’s a heavy drinker, or some other kind of addict, but if he marries a good woman, he’ll settle down. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.

“Take a good, unsentimental look at his family — you’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women. Kay made a monstrous mistake marrying Michael Corleone! Is there a history of divorce in the family? An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy and similar to yours? I remember counseling a pious Catholic woman that it might not be prudent to marry a pious Muslim, whose attitude about women was very different. Love trumped prudence; the annulment process was instigated by her six months later.

“Imagine a religious fundamentalist married to an agnostic. One would have to pray that the fundamentalist doesn’t open the Bible and hit the page in which Abraham is willing to obey God and slit his son’s throat.

“Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?

“After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: ‘But you’ve eliminated everyone!’ Life is unfair.”

Thank you Father Conner. As a veteran of the ongoing marriage wars, I recognized, as will you, many points here which validate his talk to the kids. Unfortunately, they will probably be as averse to the good advice as I have often been.

In his abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, July 11, 2008

An Attack on Religious Freedom

I keep a log of ideas for posts mostly predicated on some issue which caught my eye but didn’t seem urgent. I confess it is easy then for the note to become buried and ignored. For whatever reason this one slid by and it should be aired because it affects all people of faith.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, is on the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He was chair but relinquished that post upon the Democrat takeover in 2006 and now is the ranking minority member.

He recently contacted six different ministries on the basis of media rumors to determine if they were in violation of their tax exempt status as “non-profits.” Interestingly, they all happened to be “prosperity gospel” oriented. I have the link here so you can read the whole thing including communication from the committee and the evangelists’ response.

Like the author of the piece linked, I am not a big fan of prosperity gospel. I am also not a big backer of television ministries. However, I am a huge proponent of the Constitution and the rule of law. Even though the aforementioned are not my cup of tea I do believe that they are entitled to preach what they see fit, to evangelize their own way and to enjoy the protection of the first amendment to prosecute their activities. My personal opinions should have no bearing on their freedoms. Neither, should Senator Grassley’s power in the Senate be used to harass these folks on suspect evidence, especially that provided by the press.

I really hope you read the article because it will alert you to the dangers faced by every religious group. The founders intention was to separate the pursuit of faith from the business of government. The intention was not to create a forum for legislators to require reports from people smeared by the media and their own personal preferences. As the article points out frequently, the proper avenue for prosecution of any suspected felonious activity would be through the facilities of the U.S. Treasury.

This probably has gained more importance for me as a result of spending every other Sunday as a guest in a wide variety of congregations, not of the Restoration. I have been welcomed as a fellow believer in Jesus Christ and have immensely enjoyed each and every experience. I have heard some great sermons, enjoyed some moving music, and witnessed outpourings of faith on the part of the participants. Have I ever been tempted to abandon my congregation seventy miles distant? Certainly not. Do I believe that the folks with whom I worship on odd Sundays are tools of Satan? Absolutely not. They do not have the history of those of us in the Restoration but their concern for others and their own histories of faith speak to their individual relationship with their Creator.

To single out one narrow slice of the gigantic Christian pie to question their validity is not the proper role of any Senate committee. We have appropriate law enforcement agencies in place to conduct oversight and investigations of non-profits. Sen. Grassley, you have other far more pressing matters to attend to.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Does It Take?

In recent posts we have decried the malfeasance in the Congress to remedy, with simple solutions, the oppressive increases in the costs of fuel and food. We have witnessed continued ignorance on the part of our representatives of extremely simple economic principals and evidence of short-sighted thinking (?). More concerns of the voting public in their national legislature comes in the latest Rasmussen poll. In a very recent post we reported that Gallup showed approval of the Congress in the low teens. Today we find it at 9%.

This implies that the average “dunce” has a better understanding of the way the economy works than the $1000 “empty suits” in the hallowed halls of the nation’s capitol. Joe “six pack” knows full well the impact of increased supply counter balancing increasing demand and its affect on prices. We have a “town character” in a nearby community who makes his living pulling a cart and picking up recyclable cans from homes and businesses which save them for him. He is an extremely hard working man with a host of friends who observe him plying his trade from dawn to dark. In a jocular exchange yesterday at an intersection in town I congratulated him on his choice of fuel efficient vehicles. He good naturedly responded with a careful explanation of the inconvenience of a truck for his particular application. Although allegedly a victim of a degree of mental deficiency he revealed a keen grasp of the basics of fuel consumption and its relationship to his business. He performs a vital service in the city and his services would be greatly missed. That could not be said of most of the denizens of congress.

This morning we find a report in the news that even some of the most stubborn blockheads in Washington are being forced to acknowledge some basic truths about fuel production. I seriously doubt, in their conceit, they are even aware of how low they have sunk in the esteem of the American public.. Since they are mainly concerned with job preservation a few of the most influential offenders have decided to change their positions to better align with wishes of the people who elected them in the first place. It’s about time!

The most popular excuse offered by the lawmakers is that drilling offshore, using .01% of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, and exploiting oil shale’s is that these efforts would not mature for years to come. They have been singing this song for decades and for lack of anticipation of need we are in the mess we now have. It also demonstrates verification of a previous complaint; they do not understand futures markets and the role they play in current pricing. In a short term example, if traders observe Midwestern spring floods in excess of normal, they go “long” on corn, soybeans and other crops which are destroyed by the ensuing floods. By anticipating shortages, they capitalize by buying futures which mature at a higher price due to diminished supplies. The reverse could be seen in oil futures. If an event were to take place which would increase energy production in the United States lessening our dependence on foreign oil the demand for high priced oil futures would abate and consequently drive down the current price. That event would be the congress allowing drilling in places of abundance which they now choose to ignore. The ball is in their court.

This decision is not the province of the current president. This is also not a matter to be decided by the next elected chief executive. To mindlessly blame this on Carter, Reagan. Bush, Sr., Clinton, or Bush, Jr. is to misunderstand the functions of government. In recent weeks, I have stood at the gas pumps and overheard each of the former blamed. It is equally false to anticipate that either Obama or McCain could remedy the situation. They do have opinions and they also have some degree of influence but it is not their role in the government to make the decision. It is up to the congress. Only they can get us out of this mess. As a note of bitter irony, they got us into it and only they can get us out.

We employ these people to do a job. I would strongly suggest that “the workman is not worth his hire” and that they be replaced. In an economy dominated by small private business, the concept of being “fired” is ever present. If you do not do your employer’s honest bidding then you may anticipate being released. It’s time we took our role as an employer seriously and discard partisan thoughts to find elected representatives who are willing to exert the will of the people. Only you can help to bring this unwieldy government under control.

I have a strong faith in the American people to recognize that which is right and to take action, as we have historically, to right wrongs. I also understand in this case, time is of the essence. We only have until November to remind them of who’s the boss. I pray that each of you will contact the appropriate ones and let them know how you feel. I thank you in advance for your participation in your government.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

God, guns, & guts …..

If ever there ever was a bumper sticker which gave more offense to liberals than “God, guns, & guts—made America free!” it is unknown. It also symbolizes absolute success in message delivery by the use of carefully selected, accurate, easily understood short words. I find it delightful in that it encapsulates the absolute worst perceived rebuttal of the progressive movement. Tarring the phrase with the “redneck” brush is to imply an ignorant and provincial offering chosen more for its alliteration than its deeply felt meaning. Happily, this is not true. They are, no doubt, jealous of the ability to summarize such principals so succinctly. There is purity in its brevity and accuracy in its summation of cherished values.

In the Declaration of Independence, the Almighty is referred as “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Judge of the World,” and “divine Providence.” Each case is a result of supplication for assistance and intervention on His part to establish liberty for His people as individuals and for their collective benefit. The signers clearly understood the role that God would play in their success or failure. They truly and rightfully believed their cause was just and that God would offer His mighty hand to give them aid. He did!

Throughout our history our leaders and our citizens have called upon God for intervention in times of peace and war to substantiate our country’s goals. They exhibit an awareness of the Almighty and the bearing He has on their daily lives. They have been accused of “seeking refuge” in their Father in heaven and plead guilty to the charge. Where better to seek refuge than in the arms of God? Our people, like the Declaration signers, clearly understand the role God has played, and continues to play in our daily lives.

By appearing first in the slogan, God takes his rightful place as the first factor in the continued liberty we enjoy. Being in that rank enhances the two which follow, and places them in the company which they deserve.

Those who wholeheartedly back the individual right to bear arms and those who purposefully go against the Bill of Rights to secure the first means of their agenda, both see the wisdom of placing “guns” in second place. For those who understand our origins and the subsequent history of the nation realize the importance which armed force has played in its development. They realize that nothing has changed over the centuries. Yes, the sophistication of the armaments has come a long way but their purpose remains the same. They stand in the face of tyranny be it foreign or domestic, and enable the citizen to exercise his abilities in defense of his freedom.

It has made little difference whether they faced a British regular, a mugger, a Nazi storm trooper, a home assault, a civilian terrorist, a burglar, or a mad man in a school or church, they have happily taken refuge in their guns to solve the problem. They are an integral part of the American psyche. Self defense, be it national or local, is an absolute requirement of liberty.

Those who would ban firearms readily recognize the difficulties of implementing an oppressive government on those persons who have the means of self defense. One only need visit any of many despotically ruled countries and examine their policies on the private ownership of firearms to realize the truth of this matter. An armed populace is not easily controlled. The leftists and fascists understand this well and an integral part of their agenda is the disarmament of all citizens. Our current murder capitols rotate among Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. where the most onerous gun non-ownership is the law. Criminals and nations alike realize the benefits of attacking an unarmed entity.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the third factor in keeping America free. For those who have any doubt about the willingness of Americans to demonstrate intestinal fortitude they need only visit the military cemeteries at Arlington, Gettysburg, Tulagi, Normandy or the many others scattered throughout the world. From Barbara Fritchie, remembered poetically, saying, “Shoot if you must at this old gray head, but spare our country’s flag,” to the cryptic “Nuts” offered in response to a demand for surrender to the Germans when encircled at Bastogne in 1944, with the 101st Airborne by their commander, Gen Anthony C. McAuliffe, Americans have demonstrated the utmost of courage. (Disclaimer: he was commanding general of the US. Seventh Army during my service abroad.) It would take a collection of books of encyclopedic proportions to even minimally record the instances of our citizens reaching into previously unknown depths to pull out deeds, words and actions of unbelievable daring-do.

Guts in America are not the exclusive property of the military. One can easily recount public safety personnel, homemakers, preachers, teachers, fathers, kids, and complete strangers who have come to the aid of others or offered themselves in response to a perilous situation. We are a nation of heroes. Some folks just haven’t had the occasion arise—yet! When it does, I have every confidence they will summon the strength and courage to distinguish themselves and reach out to others. They will also, probably, be the most surprised by their actions.

Some “guts” are not of the type which garner headlines. The mother who sacrifices for her child, those who strive to protect helpless animals, kids who buddy up to unpopular companions, and those who rise to defend their individual faith are just a few examples of every day Americans who summon the courage to protect those things they believe to be right. On rare occasions, we even see an elected official rise to join their number in defense of freedom.

“God, guns, & guts…” properly ordered but all essential to the preservation of American freedom. Those who choose another path for our country will continue to strive to defeat all three. They realize all too well the strength of that combination in pushing their evil agenda. Trust me, they have done, and will continue to do everything they can to defeat it.

It’s not a just bumper sticker; it’s a way of life.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Wonderful addition

Today we added a new addition to our blog roll: Government is notYour Daddy I was impressed by his list of ten “old fashioned values” which ends with number ten: “Get off my lawn.” I do not know the author of the blog but I am led to believe from number ten that he may be as curmudgeonly as your host.

He is located in Oregon, a state which in urban and academic areas, has definitely gone off to the “dark side.” My first visit to Oregon in the late thirties left a memory of beauty and individualism in its people that led me to return many times in the intervening years. The host of the newly mentioned blog appears to share those earlier values and goals for America and its people.

Give a look. You may enjoy it.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday Morning Rant 45

In the aftermath of the 4th, I found myself ruminating on that which makes America a great country and then upon that which tears it down. I truly believe of all the mechanical devices used to subvert the noble intentions of this nation, the hyphen stands as the principal offender. This lowly punctuation mark is a major contributor to divisiveness in the society.

In one original usage it was used to designate those persons who were foreign born who became US citizens. Thus a person born in Munich or Lisbon and who later emigrated to United States became a German-American or a Portuguese-American. He was then not deprived of the cultural identity of his birthplace yet still acknowledged as an integral part of his new homeland. This dual identification successfully eased his transition into a new society. The children, born in the US, were not so designated because without the fact of foreign birth were truly American without any clumsy addenda to describe their parent’s nationality. Given the so-called “melting pot” aspect of our society we no longer require the association with other countries in our history and can point with pride to our identity as Americans.

One legendary figure in the early days of our struggle for independence was Crispus Attucks. His presence in Boston on March 5, 1770 and subsequent death—in a snow ball fight gone wrong—at the hands of British regulars is easily confirmed. He is popularly identified as the first casualty in the War for Independence. The remaining details are somewhat murkier. Circumstantial evidence points to his background as having a slave father and a Wampanoag woman as his mother. In today’s diversity madness it would make him an African-American/Native-American. Might we not better describe him simply as a “son of liberty?” He was born in the colonies, had escaped slavery and was a British subject. This continued insistence upon former nationalism works to supersede the collective unity which has come to typify Americans of all origins.

Over the last half century, we have also seen the onset of hyphenated marriages. Another tradition is in the process of “biting the dust.” At the least it follows the patriarchal line but that will no doubt be assaulted as well, given enough time. It flies in the face of giving oneself wholeheartedly to that sacred union.

These hyphens strive to undo the collective bonds which serve our unity as a people: to emphasize that which separates us rather than those uniting factors, so necessary for our preservation. They support a tribal mentality inconsistent with the founder’s intent. I truly believe the only hyphen we should retain is “Casino-Americans.” It would relieve the stress I feel as I struggle to properly identify the original inhabitants of the continent.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Had this been adopted in the United States in 1956, I would have been jailed within the next five years. In extremely flowery language the law would provide for penalties, including removal from the home, for parents who did not honor the rights of children as out lined in the proposal. In section 18, we find the following, “States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child,” and that parents are primarily responsible for their children. As parents, “the best interests of the child will be their basic concern.”

And just precisely who determines the “best interests of the child?” The child would happily volunteer for that job. If my kids held the control of their “best interest” it would have been Ho-Ho’s and gummy bears for breakfast followed by a trip to the zoo in the morning, ice cream and potato chips for lunch a quick stop at the fair for rides and more junk food and then hurry home for TV until 3 am. As I said previously, I would have been jailed.

The question remains; who is it that determines the “best interests of the child,” the state? I am certain that Senator Larry “wide stance” Craig could give us some tips. Maybe they could turn to our adulterous disbarred ex-president for advice. If all else fails, perhaps the personnel at the Texas Department of Child Protective Services could direct the program. Some might offer the teacher corps in our public schools but they rarely have the time since they are preparing a response to their next indictment for improper relations with members of their class. Oh I forgot, the UN had peacekeepers in Africa who traded food for sex with minors might be available. How could we not trust government with this all important task?

If not the state, might we safely call on the church for advice? The archdiocese of Boston has freed up an army of priests who have experience with children. For those smugly starting to point a finger at the Roman church, don’t. Those of us not of that faith have more than enough skeletons in our own collective closets to more than match that abuse of children in our own religious enclaves. Part of faith is trust. With trust comes power. With power comes an opportunity for abuse. That then, is most often visited upon the least and most vulnerable of our number, children.

Parents, be aware of this travesty. There are those who would steal your kids. Under the guise of “what’s best for the children” they want to control you, them, and your lives. This is not paranoia; it is an actual proposal from the United Nations which requires the acquiescence of the United States Congress for full implementation. I don’t care how bad a parent you think you are, you are far better than any of the above.

Spooky warnings

We have aired this before but it requires repetition. A constant stream of doomsday warnings appear in the news with every natural calamity. Current disasters are seen as a predictor of even more natural violence, death and destruction. It is almost as though some are eagerly awaiting doomsday in the expectation of their personal survival at the expense of every one else. They accumulate stores of equipment and supplies in anticipation, build elaborate shelters and smugly await the coming end times.. They seem pretty certain they have the inside track on a successful and predictable outcome.

Google “2012” and pour through the 334,000,000 (this not a made up number, try it!) responses and come to realize how prevalent this is among believers and non-believers alike. That is more than one entry for each and every man, woman, and child in the United States!

People, get a grip!

One way or another, we are all going to die. We will either do it individually or we shall do it collectively. Some will struggle and others will peacefully “give up the ghost.” If one is truly in touch with God, through his son, Jesus Christ, then how do the means of departure matter? If you have given your all to this effort the moment and circumstances of your death will not even be a speed bump on the road to eternity. Apparently, given the above number, we are not nearly so solid in our beliefs and confidence in God Almighty as polling data would show.

I take little comfort in bringing this up because it demonstrates a weakness of faith generally. I would suggest that instead of worrying about the next asteroid impact, flood, tsunami, fire, earthquake, or what ever the disaster de jour might be, we should all take refuge in God’s loving arms, embrace Him in return, and look forward to the meeting. Meanwhile, love your neighbor as yourself.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Twenty Three and One Half Degrees

After posting a recent article on the Skate surfacing at the North Pole half a century ago, I find more and more folks alarmed over this “newly“ emerging open water at the pole. Does no one do any research or inquiry on their own? Information today has no expectation of privacy. Anyone with an internet connection has more data available than was in the Library of Congress two decades ago. If we continue to believe every jot and tittle which we are force fed by the agenda driven politicians and media and fail to check them for accuracy, we deserve the result. If we do not insist on—no, make that demand—fair and accurate representation of facts on issues of importance to the people we are remiss.

The planet we live upon just happens (?) to enjoy a tilt. We do not just float through the cosmos at some haphazard angle. We are, at present, tilted at exactly 23.5º. For this reason the poles experience roughly 65 days in the annual trip around the sun, completely without sunshine. During a similar time frame, there is constant light. During the intervening periods, access to the sun varies gradually from one extreme to the other Given the importance of the sun governing temperature, the range is expressed by alternate freeze and thaw. This is actually middle school information. Given the condition of our public schools, this means that about 10% of Americans already know this and the balance are amazed to find out. Auto mechanics understand it because of their experience with planetary gears; reporters, not so much.

An extremely slight change in that 23.5º angle could have catastrophic results in our world. The degree of tilt is actually lessening over time. Don’t get out your protractor and surveying equipment because you will not live long enough to measure the tiniest of movement It will happen and changes will take place. We have been subjected to an all out alarmist assault gradually increasing over the last few decades and only now reaching a grand crescendo of scare mongering. It has reached the point that the “bandwagon” is so crowded, some saner minds are starting to fall off.

In an extremely lucid and non-hysterical manner I recommend the work of an actual scientist whose qualifications will be immediately recognized by the quality of his presentation. In his piece he deals with various “end times” scenarios and the mathematical probability of their occurrence. He is entirely dispassionate in his rebuttal of the ridiculous.

I found the site after an interesting dinner conversation with my companion. She mentioned an outline of a planetary tragedy which I had long forgotten. Someone, neither of us can remember who, posited that one day the earth would become out of balance (see-spinning top) and topple out of its orbit. This thought is so inconsistent with known issues that it has to be the product of an insane mind. The spinning top suffers from two factors which do not affect the balance of the earth. One is imbalance and the other is the action of a vastly superior gravitational force.

One might foolishly believe that the disparity of elevation between Mt. Everest and the Mariana Trench, about twelve miles in the aggregate, would provide evidence of imbalance. With a diameter of 7950 miles that twelve mile difference constitutes a .0015 ratio of difference. 15/10,000 is barely measurable and slicker than just about any surface you might imagine. As a boy, I was taught that the earth, if reduced to the size of a bowling ball, would be hundreds of time smoother. The globe you have in the den is not nearly as slick in proportional reality. Although somewhat elliptical and with a bulge around the middle (I can certainly relate to that) it provides a highly reliable platform from which to conduct our daily affairs.

The author of the referenced piece covers several of the highly popular doomsday scenarios which are so carelessly bandied about on TV and other media to keep the citizenry scared to death. I’ve never heard of this guy but that is no surprise. Most people whose stock in trade is fact and common sense do not command much attention in the media.

One strain keeps running through all of this. What is it that prevents us from accepting the fact that our miraculous planet was created for us by God Almighty. It is in place for us to use and also care for. He has provided habitation replete with His laws and His creations for our benefit. Why can we not just graciously accept that which He has provided, give Him thanks, acknowledge His power and genius, obey His laws and take advantage of His protection and guidance?

Everyone else turns to baseball for an analogy so I shall help myself. Folks, as lovely as our lives are here on earth, this is really nothing more than the minor leagues. If we prove our merit here we will get to go to the “bigs.” This is an opportunity to “try out” and show our worth. In the minors they record hits, runs, & errors. In our lives we have a chance to garner more hits and runs and God has promised to forget the errors – if we repent. It’s a fair trial and I certainly believe it’s worth it.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon