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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Jesus Stomp

             This is Easter week. But let’s not get too carried away with this most important of Christian days of celebration. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith.

There are those who disagree with the premise of the Christian faith, arguing for instance, that it cannot be proved that Jesus ever existed; or that Jesus claimed to be God; or that Jesus even died on a Roman cross; or that He actually rose from the dead.

Recently, attacks on the Christian faith have produced absurd, even disgusting efforts to demean and denigrate a faith that was the basis for the formation of the United States, the greatest nation this world has ever known. Yet there is an increasing effort to remove all vestiges of the Christian faith from an increasingly secular society.

Allow me to cite a couple of recent examples. First, there is the utterly asinine decision made by a good number of schools across our land to stop using the name Easter. No more Easter Egg Hunt. No more Easter parade. No more Easter candy. No more Easter bunny. Of course the traditional Easter Break from school disappeared years ago. The operative word today is Spring. Easter is bad – Spring is good. “Hey, boys and girls, let’s have a Spring Egg Hunt! And there’s the Spring bunny!” Or if you prefer, you can call it the Community Egg Hunt. Has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?

Added to this silliness is the fear that Easter is a religious expression, so we must protect our little darlings from the dangers of Christian teaching. My goodness, we wouldn’t want them to learn about a God who loves them so much that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die for them on a rugged Roman cross! Learning that they are sinners by nature in need of a Savior might damage their self-esteem and image. Ow! Wait! I need to remove my tongue from my cheek.

Conservative columnist and commentator, Kyle Olson, agrees that the ban on the use of Easter is a shot at Christian Tradition. "Like Christmas, Easter has become increasingly commercialized. But by continuing to embrace the Christian rooting, we're remembering the real reason for the holidays," he noted. "As secular progressives remove the meaning, they're becoming nothing more than Hallmark holidays and we're becoming an increasingly ungrounded society."

Second, Ryan Rotela, a student at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida, claims he was unfairly treated during a questionable class exercise in his Intercultural Communications class. The professor, Dr. Deandre Poole, told the students to take a sheet of paper, then write the name JESUS on it, fold it up, tape it to the floor, and then stomp on it. Rotela refused, citing that to do so is to show disrespect to whatever you’re stomping on. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, known commonly as Mormons).

At first, Rotela took the matter to his professor. “I said to the professor, ‘With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I just do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate, I believe it was unprofessional, and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.’…. If you were to stomp on the word ‘Jesus,’ it says that the word has no value.”

Rotela then took the matter to the professor’s supervisor, Noemi Marin. After he explained his concerns, he discovered that the school decided to suspend him from class! Now there’s higher education for you!

There is an update on this pathetic story. FOX News received an apology from the University. It reads, “We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs…. Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate…. While we do not comment on personnel matters, and while student privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific student at the University, we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class… This exercise will not be used again….” How comforting!

At this point you may be thinking, “Okay Roots. These are isolated instances of out-of-control teachers and administrators. They are merely straw dogs for you to beat up on to support your argument that secularized America is attacking Christianity.” Ah! If that were only the case! Unfortunately, I have written about such excesses before, and every day there are new stories of some such overreach within our schools and government. And this class exercise of stomping on the name of Jesus was taken right from the teachers handbook provided by the publisher!

Let me ask you – Do you know what’s being taught in your local schools? What will America look like in ten-to-twenty years if we continue to disrespect God and Jesus? What legacy of faith will our grandchildren receive?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The New Pope

              Like many of you I was curiously following the selection of the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The conclave of cardinals gathering from the four corners of the world is one of those selection processes that is shrouded in secrecy – so much so that the priest who has been elevated to the papacy is a virtual unknown – at least to the media and the average Joe on the street.

Pope Francis, as he is now called, was Cardinal Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was ordained a priest in 1969. He has maintained a stellar reputation within the priesthood, particularly among his fellow prelates.

In his first homily as the new pontiff, Pope Francis said, “If we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO (non-governmental organization), but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.” That, my friends, is speaking truth to power. Pope Francis is my new hero.

What has piqued my interest is that the new Pope has taken the name of the saint who most embodied the radical poverty of Christ: Saint Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus (S.J., referred to as Jesuits). He is a Pope of Firsts. He is the first Pope to be a Jesuit.  He is the first Pope to be from the southern hemisphere. He is the first Pope from the Americas. He is the first non-European Pope in 1,272 years. And he is the first Pope in 167 years to come from a Catholic religious order (Society of Jesus). A religious order (or institution) within the Catholic Church is identified by the vows taken. All priests (and nuns) take vows, but those who join specific orders take vows peculiar to that society or institution within the Church.

Jesuits are referred to colloquially as “God’s Marines.” This came about because the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola, had been a military man. These priests were also willing to accept orders anywhere in the world and to live in the most extreme conditions if that was what was required. “Jesuits work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue . . . Formation for Priesthood normally takes between 8 and 14 years, depending on the man's background and previous education, and final vows are taken several years after that, making Jesuit formation among the longest of any of the religious orders . . . Within the Roman Catholic Church, there has existed a sometimes tense relationship between Jesuits and the Vatican due to questioning of official Church teaching and papal directives, such as those on abortion, birth control, women deacons, homosexuality, and liberation theology. Usually this theological free thinking is academically oriented, being prevalent at the university level.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Jesus)

There are three standard vows which are taken by most of the orders and institutions within the Roman Catholic Church. The first is the vow of poverty. The second is the vow of chastity. The third is the vow of obedience. For Jesuits, and only Jesuits, after a period of time serving as a priest, a fourth vow may be taken, the vow of obedience to the Pope with regard to the missions. Where a Jesuit is to go in service to God is thus to be determined by the head of the Church, the Pope.

In a talk which Pope Francis gave as a new cardinal in 2001, he made this profound insight in speaking about Peter’s love for Jesus particularly after failing in his service to the Lord. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, ‘unjust’ mercy (‘unjust’ meaning, ‘a mercy we do not deserve.’ – my explanation). The surprising, unforeseeable, ‘unjust’ mercy, using purely human criteria, of one who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a ‘never falling down,’ but an ‘always getting up again.’” Those of us in the ministry would say, “That will preach!”

An article published by CNN used several words to describe Pope Francis: Humble, Authentic, and Credible. Coming from such an ultra-liberal news organization as CNN, this is saying a lot.

I believe Pope Francis is a man to watch. Unless I miss my guess, he will be a breath of fresh air, not only to the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, but to the rest of us as well.
 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't Be A Victim!

             I enjoy good humor as much as the next person. But the latest examples of self-defense for women are uproariously funny while at the same time being pathetically na├»ve.

Recently we have been subjected to the game, “I can come up with a stupider idea than you can.” The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs released a Ten-Point list of ways for women to try and avoid being sexually assaulted. A couple of days later the list was removed from the web site. Here are a few classics from the now vanquished list: “If your life may be in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.” What? You’re supposed to lie down while this creep savages you? But it’s okay because you are passively resisting. “Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” Ever try to vomit on command? As for urination, not likely because the body tightens under pressure. And then there’s this gem: “Tell your attacker that you have a (sexual) disease or are menstruating.” Right! That should work.
 
Rep. Joe Salazar, a Colorado State legislator agrees with the Ten-Point suggestions. He recently participated in hearings where he argued that college students should not be allowed to carry weapons. Mr. Salazar claims that use of force to protect yourself should not be an option. Instead, he argued, “It’s why we have call boxes; it’s why we have safe zones; it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around, or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop . . .  pop around at somebody.” (Salazar later apologized for his comments, claiming that he “did not mean to hurt anybody”.)

My, my! How insightful of Mr. Salazar. A woman in danger should just run to a call box, or make her way to a safe zone. That’s assuming, of course, that she knows where these places are, and that the perpetrator will honor the safety zone. Or how about just blowing a whistle. Never mind that when you are frightened, your mouth typically goes dry. Good luck with that whistle!

Vice President Joe Bidden had yet a better idea he shared with his wife. “We live in an area that’s wooded and secluded,” he said. “I said, Jill, if there’s ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here . . . put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever’s coming in is not gonna,” Biden said. “You don’t need an AR-15 (assault rifle). It’s harder to aim. It’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.” Then, looking into the camera in an almost conspiratorial whisper, he said, “Buy a shotgun.”

Good ole Uncle Joe! You’ve got to love his logic. I do agree with him that when you hear a shotgun ratcheted, or a shell fired, the would-be assailant will probably be wetting himself, and/or high-tailing it over the next mountain. But, first of all, firing a shotgun, or any weapon into the air even if you think there’s a danger, is illegal in most states. The bullets or shotgun pellets are going to fall back to earth somewhere. Second, when you fire both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun, your gun is now empty. You must then reload. A bad guy is going to know the gun is empty. Not good. Third, you had better know how to handle a shotgun, otherwise you’ll find yourself sitting on the ground from the first pull of the trigger. Fourth, an AR-15 rifle is a much easier weapon to shoot, with very little recoil, and lots of bullets in the magazine. And that brings me to my fifth point. This will sound harsh to some of you, but when you fire a gun at someone, you don’t shoot to wound them, you make sure you hit them center mass. One bullet may not be enough to stop them, especially if they are on some kind of drug such as PCP. Keep firing until they are no longer moving. With the intentions of the bad guy clearly understood, he should have considered the possibility of someone resisting with force. One last thought on this: All of this assumes there’s only one attacker. What if there are two? Or five? Well then, a fully loaded AR-15 with an extra magazine would be far more preferable.
 
Anna Rittgers, a senior fellow of the conservative women’s group, Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), reacted to President Obama’s efforts to restrict gun usage this way. “It often takes several shots to stop one attacker,” Rittgers writes. “If the maximum magazine capacity is 10 (or if all semiautomatic handguns are banned, but 6 shot revolvers remain), and a woman in danger has to stop and reload her weapon while trying to protect her children (who are likely hysterical at this point), it gives the bad guy an opportunity to react–potentially fatally.”
 

Zerlina Maxwell, a Democratic Strategist, was on FOX News the other night. She was saying that women should tell men not to commit rape! Yup! Just tell the guy who’s planning to rape you that he should not do that. Like that’s going to work!


My advice is for women to learn some basic moves when grabbed; take a course in firearms safety and training; learn how to use a gun (if that’s the means you choose for personal protection); carry a can of MACE; and more importantly, be aware of your surroundings! Keep your head up and your eyes moving. If you don’t feel comfortable in a certain location, turn around and leave, or seek shelter where there are other people.

Bottom Line: Refuse to be an easy target. Don’t be a victim.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Sequestration

             What in the world does sequestration mean anyway? Here’s a word that is odd both in its spelling and pronunciation. It certainly sounds important. But what does it mean?

Okay, follow me here. We’ll start with the word sequester. Webster’s Dictionary says sequester means, to set apart; segregate; to separate, or isolate. So then sequestration refers to the action of separating from a certain thing. In the case of the government we’re looking at portions of the budget needing to be reduced automatically. It can only be halted if the members of Congress vote to eliminate the sequestration.

A certain amount of money has been designated for elimination from the budget. I realize you may be stifling a yawn at this point, but stay with me. This is all smoke and mirrors and is a classic shell game. It’s slight of hand in an attempt to distract the populace while other things are actually taking place. Here’s where I’m going with this. The following is taken from the web site, usa.gov, specifically identifying the issue of sequestration.

“Sequestration, sometimes called the sequester, is a process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies.

          Congress included the threat of sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to encourage compromise on deficit reduction efforts.

Congress couldn’t agree on a budget by the deadline set in the Budget Control Act, so mandatory budget cuts were scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013.

Congress stopped the cuts from happening by passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 2. This law pushed the budget cuts back until March 1, 2013.

If Congress cannot agree on a budget to reduce the deficit by March 1, then sequestration would happen and $85 billion in spending cuts would go into effect.

These reports give detailed information about the amount that programs may be cut and which programs are exempt from sequestration:




First, the current administration has not passed a budget since taking office in January of 2009. Our government is functioning with an open checkbook. Is anyone paying attention to what is being spent? A budget at least is an attempt to keep the government from running away with spending. Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has refused to bring a budget before the Senate for a vote.

Second, the “cuts” as they are called pertaining to the sequester, are not cuts. The proposed budget for 2013 is more than the budget from 2012. The “cuts” affect only the increased amount in the budget.

So let’s say your annual budget for your family in 2013 is $130,000. But for 2023 you calculate your budget will increase to $200,000. That’s an increase to your personal budget of $70,000. In reviewing your costs and expenses, you realize you need to cut back. You decide to cut 2.4% from your budget over ten years. You will now need to operate with a budget of: $195,200. That 2.4% comes out to $4800.

This is why all of the caterwauling and fear-mongering is laughable, except that many people do not understand what is taking place. If you still end up with an increased spending, why is it necessary to cut back on things easily covered in the previous year’s?

“Federal spending will explode from $3.6 trillion to $6 trillion over the next 10 years, but the much-maligned sequester will cut only 2.4 percent of this spending.” (The Heritage Foundation) Did you catch that? Our spending will go from 3.6 trillion to $6 trillion from 2013-2023. Yet the percentage of the sequestration is 2.4%. Multiplied out those numbers are huge. Sequestration will cut $144 billion. That’s a whole lot! But remember: It’s only 2.4% of $6 trillion over ten years!

So when you hear the Chicken Little’s screaming about having to operate with only one aircraft carrier; and the FBI won’t be able to function effectively; and programs for this and that will need to be cut or eliminated, look back at these numbers and remember: this is all nonsense.

Psalm for the Day