Marines.Together We Served

Monday, June 19, 2017

Religious Liberty Rescued

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Religious Liberty Rescued

Amidst all the hullabaloo over collusions with the Russians, a disgraced former FBI director, illegal immigration wars, ad nausea, there are some really great things taking place in the first five months of the Trump Administration.

This is especially true for people of all faiths, but specifically Christians. Ever since the Johnson Amendment of 1954 (during the Eisenhower Administration) pastors, preachers and ministers have effectively had their hands tied, so to speak, when it came to discussing or preaching a particular viewpoint from the pulpit that may be construed as political influence. Then Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) of Texas introduced a bill into Congress that would make a provision in the U.S. Tax Code prohibiting “all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.” These organizations “range from charitable foundations to universities and churches.”

Republicans and Conservatives for the past two decades have been working to overturn the Johnson Amendment. The good news is that President Trump has taken the first steps to reverse this law.

It has been disheartening for the last sixty-three years to see those who have been entrusted with proclaiming Jesus as the Savior in our churches silenced when it comes to speaking on what could be considered political issues and political candidates. Far too many ministers knuckled under to this law. Others ignored the law, realizing the IRS could remove their tax-exempt status if found guilty of violating the Johnson Amendment.

One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to reverse the Johnson Amendment. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” the president declared. In an article in Decision Magazine, June 2017, Reverend Franklin Graham, director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, (BGEA) wrote about the president signing an executive order to help protect our religious freedoms in a Rose Garden ceremony. Hallelujah!

Graham elaborates, “The executive order counters the chilling effect on the speech of churches and charities. The president wants to protect the freedom of pastors and church leaders to address political issues and candidates.” Graham added this important caveat, “The order is also designed to help protect organizations from being forced to include abortion-inducing drugs in their health-care plans.” You may recall the brouhaha over the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of religious women who care for the elderly poor, being forced by the United States government to provide abortion services in their health-care plan. This all began in 2013, finding its way to the United States Supreme Court. The Little Sisters’ case was eventually won three years later. President Trump signed his executive order just last May. In the order, he directed HHS (Health & Human Services) Secretary Tom Price “to protect the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious ministries from the HHS Mandate.” Price said that the HHS “will be taking action in short order.” The executive order nullifies the HHS Mandate, stating that  other federal agencies “must end their unnecessary legal fights against the Little Sisters and other ministries in courts around the country.”

There is still much to do in reversing so much anti-religious laws and policies that have been allowed to become part of our national condition. One group that has been having its way against people of faith is the LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer) folks who intentionally target businesses owned and operated by people of faith, specifically Christians.

Another business owned and operated by a Christian came under attack from the LGBTQ. This was Chick-fil-A, the very popular fast-food fried chicken chain. In comments opposing same-sex marriage made by the COO (Chief Operating Officer) for Chick-fil-A, protests were staged attempting to force Chick-fil-A to change their tune or close their business. There was a huge reaction in support of Chick-fil-A, which effectively ended the protests.

It’s this sort of bullying that has evoked the need for political action on the part of the president. As a nation, our core beliefs as Americans came directly from the Bible. Those beliefs were then modified into our system of laws, not the least of which is the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution of the United States (1787), and the Bill of Rights (1791). If we choose to stray from these beliefs, we do so at our own personal and national peril.

For now, we have a president who is in strong support of protecting our religious freedoms by passing legislation to secure, once again, those freedoms which for a time had been lost to us.

May there ever be American patriots who burn with such moral rectitude and courage as to forever stand for the right. This I believe will always bring about God’s willingness to bless America.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Knights in Shining Armor

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Knights in Shining Armor

Well, not really. But I thought I might catch your attention with this title. However, the knights part is correct, whereas the shining armor part is up for debate.

The expression “knight in shining armor” has historically implied an upright, valorous and virtuous man who goes around rescuing maidens in distress. On a more intimate level, women often are looking for a husband who will be their “knight in shining armor”.  

This week’s missive toys with this idea of knights, but I’m coming at it from an entirely different perspective.

As most of you who have been reading my column know, I enjoy singing. And one of my hobbies is singing Barbershop 4-Part Harmony. I’m a member in the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) which is an international organization specifically focused on this uniquely American music form we know as “Barbershop Music”. The Society has grown to the point that Barbershop Music has spread throughout the world. Other countries that are currently singing barbershop are Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands, South Africa, and more! To see what I’m talking about, go on YouTube and type in Barbershop Chorus Champions. Then listen to your hearts delight. Do the same with Barbershop Quartet Champions. But be careful! This can be addictive.

I actually am a member of three barbershop choruses. I’m active with Voices of California (VoCal, for short, 75 men) out of Sacramento, and the Golden Valley Chorus (GVC, 25 men) in Modesto. The third chorus is the Alexandria Harmonizers in Washington, D.C. My nephew, Josh Roots, is active with this chorus which boasts 125 men.

Each year choruses and quartets compete at various events in their districts to move up the competition ladder. If they are good enough, they earn the right to compete on the grand stage at the annual International Convention. This year the convention is being held in Las Vegas at Bally’s (July 4-9). The Voices of California (VoCal) will be heading for Vegas where we will compete against other big choruses, as well as the overall title of Gold Medal Chorus Champion for 2017. This will be my first time competing at an International.

So, last Saturday VoCal had an extra rehearsal in preparation for our big opportunity in Vegas. We spent four hours going over the two songs we’re required to perform, which includes a fair amount of choreography. We spent all four hours on our feet with only a ten-minute break. As you might surmise, we’re committed to this event!

The theme of our performance package is Knights of the Round Table. A package typically has an “up tune”, and a ballad. Our up tune is, ”The EPIC Knight Medley”, followed by the ballad, “If Ever I Would Leave You”. The Medley is a spoof on Knights of the Round Table, harkening back to the swashbuckling days of the Middle Ages in England with King Arthur and his knights. The EPIC Knight Medley, using known tunes, uses entirely different wording in order to stay true to the Knights theme. And should you be concerned that there might be copyright violations, rest assured: We are diligent in acquiring the needed permission.

The parody on the tunes we use for our Medley are: “Knights of the Round Table.” A classic line from this song is, “We dine while here in Camelot. We eat ham and jam and spam a lot!” We then bridge into the tune, “So Long Mother”, only the wording is, “Oh, Guinevere a little tear is gleaming in your eye. Your knights are all assembled, off to war where we may die!” Then we roll into “Just in Time”, only we sing, “It’s jousting time. Hooray it’s jousting time! Those pointy sticks are primed. Let’s have a show!” The next tune is the classic “Chariots of Fire” followed by “I Could Have Danced All Night”. We sing, “I could have lanced four knights, I could have lanced five knights and still have lanced some more!” Next up is the tune, “Bright Was The Night”. It’s changed to sound very much like the original, but instead, we sing, “This knight’s not bright! His head’s not right”. And then we end the up tune with “I Love A Parade”. But we sing, “Oh, I love a crusade!” One line in this part goes like this, “I love a crusade! The Bubonic plague, the loss of a leg or maybe a thumb, a Thumb! We’re off on a crusade!”

Remember what I said earlier. This is a spoof, a lampooning of knights as they prepare to go off on crusades.

The ballad, “If Ever I Would Leave You”, is sung straight, and is intended to illicit emotion as the character of the knight leaves his love behind while he rides off into an uncertain future.

All seventy-five of us are dressed in period costume. Originally, I was one of the townspeople, and my singing position was strictly on the risers. Last week I was informed that I would now be one of the soldiers which requires coming off the risers and doing a lot of foot and hand movements all performed on the stage along with other soldiers and knights.

I wish you could be in Vegas to see us perform. But one thing you can be certain of: I will be writing an article (or possibly two) about the experience. Isaura will be accompanying me, so we’re going to have a blast!

Monday, June 05, 2017

A Weekend Jaunt

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
5 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

A Weekend Jaunt

          By definition, a jaunt is usually understood to mean a short journey meant for pleasure. Thus, jaunt is the exact word I would use for this article.

          This weekend foray came about after we learned of a friend’s illness in El Cajon (ka–hone) which is just east of San Diego. Gary has been struggling with a debilitating sickness for some number of months, and is currently in a nursing facility. Isaura and I looked at our calendars and decided this past Friday thru Sunday would work best for us to make a drive to see Gary.

          Isaura reminded me that some dear friends we have known since before we were married had just moved back to Azusa (near Pasadena) from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio where they have lived the last twenty-two years. I used to sing in a Gospel group with Ed and Dolly when we all lived in San Jose. We called ourselves, The Redeemed. We absolutely had a blast traveling around the Bay Area and Central Valley of California singing at a plethora of events and venues.

          On Friday after playing a round of golf with my friends at Spring Creek, Isaura and I hopped in the car and headed for our rendezvous with Ed and Dolly, arriving in time for dinner. Ed’s dad (also goes by Ed) joined the four of us at a Mexican restaurant in Azusa called, Max’s. We sat around stuffing ourselves with massive portions of food and drink. I have never seen such serving sizes, literally covering the entire platter. And the drink mugs were more like the size of a beer stein. I could not finish my meal!

          We spent a delightful evening with our friends, with Ed pulling out his six-string guitar and leading us in singing a couple of the songs we used to do. We finished up with, I’ll Fly Away! After a restful night in their guest room, we had breakfast in the kitchen before Isaura and I headed for San Diego. It was such a joy to catch up with these friends whom we have not seen in at least a half-dozen years.

          Another part of our trip while in southern California was to visit with our niece, Emily. She is the daughter of Isaura’s youngest sister, Judy and her husband Greg. Emily is now working in San Diego and is dating, Alex, an active duty Marine who is stationed at Camp Pendleton. We met them for lunch on Saturday at Seaport Village, which is a fun place to visit. There are numerous stores and shops of various kinds all along the waterfront. One of our favorite restaurants there is the Greek Islands, known for its great Mediterranean style food. Of course, I was curious about Alex. I was very impressed with him. The four of us talked over our food for a couple of hours, learning that Alex has been in the Marine Corps for eight years, and has every intention of making this his career. Before we left Emily and Alex in the parking lot, we took the obligatory pictures which the rest of the family was dying to see.

          Next stop was a visit to Gary in the nursing home. He was in fine spirits even though he has a trache which certainly limits communication. However, I learned they have a device now that allows the person with the trache to still be able to speak, and it was surprisingly clear. Gary also spent twenty-five years in the National Guard, so we have a military connection as well. We chatted with him for a time, and then I read a number of passages to him from the Scriptures. I then anointed his forehead with oil followed by prayer from Isaura and me. It was, indeed, a special moment!

          After saying goodbye to Gary, we drove to Camp Pendleton where we were booked in the Inns of the Corps lodging for Saturday night. But first we stopped in the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX). This is one of Isaura’s favorite things to do when we visit any military base. There are a lot of good deals and no sales tax! I usually wander over to the sporting goods to see what they have in golf equipment. Aha! To my great delight, I found a putter I had wanted, and it was the last one. It cost all of $25.00! I snagged it right quick and will have an opportunity to try it out this Wednesday morning.

          While stationed at Camp Pendleton in the mid-80s, we had found two favorite restaurants which we always try to patronize when we are in the area. So we drove to the Armenian Café which serves the best lemon soup you’ll ever have. To our great shock and dismay, the building was gone! The area was encircled with construction barriers, but nothing to indicate what had happened. So we drove two blocks over to the Vera Cruz Fish House, which also was vacated and a new sign indicating who the new business was to be. Both of these places are wildly popular, so we were stunned, to say the least. I had the phone numbers for both in my phone, so I called. The Armenian Café is under totally new construction and will open again, however the date is unknown. As for the Fish House, it is in a new location. All is right with the world again!

          I’ve been asked if I miss the military life, and my answer is always, no. Thirty-four years was enough. But as Isaura and I stood outside the Ward Lodge at Mainside on Camp Pendleton this morning, I looked at her and said, “This is what I miss.” There is a quietness on a military base that is very calming. You can almost feel it. I explained what I meant, and she agreed.

          Our drive back to northern California was uneventful. But it did include a stop at our youngest daughter’s home in Turlock for a birthday party for granddaughter, Brooklyne who is nine.

           It was truly a weekend jaunt, full of delight!

Psalm for the Day