Friday, July 30, 2004

beautiful creatures

I heard them referred to as "God's most beautiful creatures" while visiting The Duysing's house on Thursday. Can I argue? Well yes, I can argue but I don't see the point--anyone can argue the merits of any animal till they are blue in the face. Ok, I don't think Jackie is going to appreciate this touch of "relativism" when it comes to....well, to horses.

Yes, I rode a horse at the Duysings house after about ten years afoot! I was happy I wasn't as awkward as I feared, and it was fun. Period.

Sleepwalking into the future

I have a confession to make....oh? You guessed! That's right, I do sleepwalk. It's an skill for which I am fiercely proud! Ok, it's not as bad as all that and I won't spend the rest of this post spinning my tails of self-made late-night spooks. I will settle for saying that the most common scenario is the pillow scenario. This covers couch and bed pillows. It doesn't matter one bit what kind--they just show up in weird places in the morning. Yes, there are the clothes that get strewn all over my bed and front doors that occasionally get left wide open.

Do you know what it is like to sleepwalk? Those of you that don't do it in the classic sense will reply "no." Not all of us get up at ungodly hours of the night to unconsciously work mischief on our households--then again, some of us do. Let me tell you what it is usually like for me--because I think you should know. I sleepwalk the most under a combination of two conditions: a stressed-out mind and mental/physical exhaustion. I usually wake up refreshed and ready to take things on. Only then do I start to notice little things (like a pillow sitting across the room instead of under my head). Then I try to remember--more often than not, I can't remember a thing.

I ask again, do you know what it is like to sleepwalk? I suspect that you do--if not in the literal sense, in the spiritual sense. Most of you have faced a difficult time in your life which taxes you to a severe level (or so you think), and you finally cry out to God for mercy to endure. Then you wake up one morning and discover your problems have mysteriously melted into oblivion and you just can't remember the little details of your burden being lifted. You find yourself scratching your head and wondering if you even had a problem? You wonder if you really felt so down such a little time ago. Yes, you did, that much you do know. There is only one explanation--the burden was not rightfully yours in the first place and God just enforced His right to carry it for you. You thank God--not just for taking the burden away, but for doing it in such a loving manner--in your sleep as it were.

The change is there, your mind is clear and refreshed and you are ready to move on. You slept right through the midst of your problems and you just didn't have the time to figure out what YOU did to fix them. For all you know, you did nothing but sleepwalk into the future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

"Eyes they have..."

I finally had a long over-due eye doctor's appointment today. The net result is that I now know the dangers of over-used contact lenses! Actually, I also feel the dangers of over-used contact lenses.

DETAILS (if you really want them, read on)

I have an advanced condition with a long name. The rough description is that I have a ton of bumps under my eyelids. If anyone has noticed my eyes tendancy to jump sideways when I blink, you now know the general reason.


Have a great day!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

More over-enlightenment

Observation 1:

Can you spot a writer? What do they look like? Do they look like freaks who don't do anything else? Are they regal and clean-cut or skulky and scruffy? Well, you say, why does it matter? Why should I care what a writer looks like? Point taken and I agree. After all, I'm supposedly a writer and I don't look like anything or anybody at all...except maybe Michael J. Fox and I'm still not sure about those claims.

Stay with me now--I'm almost there. When I was in Starbucks (sorry, another Starbucks story!) the other day, I happened to make the mistake of looking out the window. It was a gorgeous day so there was no avoiding it. The result of this glance, though, was enough to shake me out of my usual coffeeshop-reading-repose. There, out in the middle of the bright sunshine, was a young man, probably about my age, sitting on one chair with his feet up on one of the tables. He had no shirt, was plenty beefy, and what do you think he was doing? He was writing. Every once in a while he would stop and look at the scenery, then go back to his scribbling.

Now, I'm not going to say that I know, beyond all shadow of doubt, that he was a writer just because he happened to be sitting and writing like writers are wont to do. I will just settle for telling you that it was one of the strangest spectacles I have ever seen. You may say that writers can come in all shapes and sizes but I still say that there are some shapes and sizes which are far less likely to produce writers. I mean really, when was the last time you heard of a football lineman taking up writing as his profession right after college!? It's about as probable as me taking his place on the scrimmage line! You would find that image funny if you have ever seen me try to block.

Observation 2:

Driving is what is needed to get me from here to there... No, I do enjoy it as well, but not to the obsessive extent that I have seen in some others. The joy of driving is in the destination! It need not be anything more if you own a four-door 1985 Toyota Camry! So yes, it is the simple pleasure of blotting out the annoying distance between myself and my desired destination that makes driving a joy.

Why then does it have to involve the nuisance of other drivers--those other animals on the road who have absolutely nothing in common with my simple goal?

Just the other day, I encountered a rare species of these animals. I had heard ghastly stories about their incredible talent but nothing prepared me for the real deal! It was, in fact, a good friend of mine who told me that his sister once resembled these species. You know you are up against one when you see their signature move in front of you! They will suddenly slow, brake and turn on one of their blinkers in preparation for an upcoming turn-off. What you don't know is that he has turned on the opposite blinker! Such was the case not too long ago during my noteworthy encounter with this species. I did however spot his intentions just in time to brake and let him pass in front of me.

Take note, all you sane drivers out there: watch carefully and do not be fooled if you should have an encounter of your own!


I think it is about time I got back into reading some good literature. I'm afraid my reading material, while helpful and interesting, is not exactly heavy on the classics. At least I can say I am getting some books behind me--which is more than I have been able to say at other times.

The last one I finished was a book by Dinesh D'Souza, a first generation Indian immigrant. The title is What's So Great About America. That's right, there is no question mark on the end of the title, so that gives you an idea of where he goes in his conclusion. Even if you know where he is going, though, that does nothing to prepare you for the ride getting there! This is a powerful book. His points are viciously clear, thoroughly researched and so objective that I'm sure he makes both liberals and conservatives wince at times.

D'Souza covers a lot of ground. He begins by taking an objective look at the three main enemies of America and/or western culture and then takes us on a revealing journey which shows why they hate us so much. We also learn about issues such as colonialism, slavery, the reparations fallacy, virtue verses freedom, and Rousseau verses St. Augustine.

This book is full of gems like this:

The American Founders knew they could not transform human nature, so they devised a system that would thwart the schemes of the wicked and channel the energies of flawed persons toward the public good. (pg 93)
Instead of completely denying the value of expressive freedom, conservatives would do better to embrace it--at least in part--and to focus on educating people about the rich moral sources of freedom, and about how to use freedom well. (pg 159)
America is the greatest, freest, and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique to the world, is now the last best hope for the world. (pg 193)

Needless to say, I was really impressed and never had a bit of trouble staying interested. This is not a political book. It is simply a book about America and what America means.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The over-enlightened mind

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It takes a higher form of observation to pick on little things around you which, if considered with the proper care and perspective, are full of humor and irony! Ok, so what I mean to say is, if you are crazy enough everything will appear funny!

I am determined to cultivate this standard of observation. I consider it an art. Before you get the idea that I am doing this to attain a higher level of insanity, let me just say that while I agree with that evaluation of my effort, I also believe it takes a higher level of intelligence to reach that higher level of insanity! I intend to share my enlightened perspective on life on a regular basis until I am so hounded by protest from the sane world that I am forced into silence! The last week or so has been a rich one for such things.

Observation 1:

I have this thing about doors. I'm actually quite self-conscious about it! Every time I'm visiting some business--or any place with a glass door for that matter--I rarely fail to push or pull the door in the wrong direction. I did it today on my way out of Starbucks (yes, I finished another book--more on that later). It was a push, I think it was, I can't remember actually. Suffice it to say, I got it wrong yet again.

That's not all. I was in another place less then an hour later! This time there were two glass doors in a row! Sounds daunting for my type! But no, it was clearly marked this time, "PULL" (doors are almost always marked--I just noticed it this time). I dutifully pulled and it worked like it was supposed to work. I finally did it right! I was feeling quite smug about it all until I noticed a minor detail. The door was a swinging door. Yeah, that's right--it was a push and pull door! *Don't worry Mark, tomorrow's another day...*

Observation 2:

Ah yes, the bumper stickers! We all speed up so we can see what it written on the car in front of us. They are the creators of cliche and redundancy, the pieces flashy art which deface the vehicle and even more often the driver. Even so, we are always hoping to see something original and funny on the vehicle in front of us and when we do, we get the idea that it must be an awfully clever driver who would wear such wit on his car's rear-end! If only I could find something just as funny to put on my rear-end!

Hear ye my friends! They are often more funny then they intend--especially when we use our excellent "higher observation!" I saw one the other day which said in cliche dodging bold letters: "Attack Iraq? NO!" Sure, the wording is original and I give them full marks for reviving such an outdated theme in such a new way. There was a second sticker to the left though. A little hard to read but this is what it said almost in preface to the other one: "Reality is for people who lack imagination." Beautiful! That explains everything!

Observation 3:

You all love bugs on the windshield don't you? Yeah, me too. What is summer without them? Ok, so today I was driving away from a four-way stop light when I happened to get a rare urge to floor it. It was clear for a few miles so I did. I was just about to reach an unmentionable speed when the most thrilling thing happened! All I noticed at the time was a sudden tick sound and then there was a bright splash of color on my windshield! No kidding! It was really colorful--a bright cherry color at first glance. Really, I had no idea there were bugs with those qualities. I thought color in bugs was reserved for the exoskeleton. The irony is that the color of the trim on our house also is a dark cherry--and it's peeling away. We've been wanting to get that fixed for some time and we will soon, most likely. It just figures, though, that my windshield would get plastered with that color before we get our chance to do the house.

Alright, I'm done...for now. Are we ready for the next round or is that enough?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lost causes and Fiddlers

Well, tomorrow is our last game of the church softball season.  I'm going to just say it and be done with it: we haven't won a game and we don't expect to win the last one!  There, it has been said now.  Ours was a very new team and we can be thankful that we did as well as we did.  I don't know if I will pitch the last game--I think that would be an interesting thing to do...  I am thinking about asking to pitch just because I want to be there in the middle of the field and fight for the lost cause where it will hurt the most!  Oh yeah!  Bring it on!!

My sister is acting in a play this week... It's a small rendition of Fiddler on the Roof and she is Hodel.  It should be very interesting!  I think I'm just a little jealous I never got into acting!  This is Beka's first one and she is (as you can imagine) very happy to have a leading role.  The first performance is on Thursday and she told me I shouldn't go that day because she thinks that is when the most mistakes are going to happen!  Too late for that because it looks like I might be at all three of them!  I've never seen a live play of Fiddler on the Roof so I am looking forward to it.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Muddled thoughts Part 2

I'm afraid I failed to mention a very important aspect of the service mentioned in the last post.  I picked as a devotional a piece from ICR's Day's of Praise.  The title was "The Gift of Grace" by Henry Morris.  After editing it for verbal clarity, it was a very basic and good short piece for the occasion.  The striking thing about it was the last point that he made. 
Finally, as Paul says in Ephesians 3:7-8, even true Christian leadership is a gift of grace.  "...I became a minister according to the gift of grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.  to me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
Leadership a gift of grace...  This does not mean, though, that developing Christian leadership is a matter of waiting for some supernatural engrafting of special skills--a moment in time when we suddenly feel like we can lead.  No, God's gifts are most often given to those who humbly strive for them in faith, knowing that God will not fail to give good gifts to his children, knowing that they do not ask amiss, knowing God's will for their lives.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Ultra-muddled thoughts of an impatient youth

An interesting day to be sure.  Our youth group led a service at a local assisted living facility in the area and it went well.  I guess it was interesting because I led it--the whole thing.  The only thing I didn't do was the closing prayer (thank you Uncle Paul).  Sure this may sound like a good thing for me, and I will not deny that it was good for me--a good experience.  However, I had a tough time last night with the whole idea.  Why can't there be anyone else willing to do parts of it.  Am I the only one in the youth group willing and semi-able to do something like that.  What about public prayer?  Isn't this simple excercise something which we should all be willing to learn to do?  Leadership!  Is the church supposed to by full of people who depend on the leadership of one or two?  Shouldn't Christian young men in the church be learning this?

Last night, I finally decided that I would not hold back or wait for others to come beside me when it came to this service.  I knew if I did hold back and push others forward, the meeting would not work...  Last time we did one of these services, it was at a nursing home.  Yes, it was harder because there was a difference in the condition of the people at the service but even so, there was also some difficulty with simply trying to make things happen!  There were moments when things would just stop and you would wonder who was going to get it going again.  Indecision!  Who is in charge? 

This time was going to be different--and it was.  If I just up and ran the whole meeting, there would be no arguments because no one else wanted to do it anyway!  It would eliminate the problem of indecision--one person leading and speaking.  But what of the cost?  I need to have some kind of hope that stepping forward as I did, I didn't just peg myself as the one person who will do this kind of thing!  I need to believe that there are young people other than myself who are willing to step forward and serve!  It's a scary thought! 
My thoughts stray to this evening at church.

Uncle Paul asked me if I could lead the song service in his absence, which I did.  Simple enough--you just start a ten minute block of time with a song and ask for selections after that!  But wait!  The only other people who lead this thing are mostly officers in the church (uncle Paul is a deacon)!  Where does that put me!?  That's another scary thought!

Time is short--I promised *someone* that I would be off by a certain time and that time has arrived.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The anxious mind

Summer is in full swing and that means I am inching closer to Fall--a significant fact considering I will be going to Western Washington U.  My mind is strangely free of preconceptions about what it will be like and I'm not one to fall prey to high-hopes.  I do, though, have a knack for getting childish excitement about some of the campus architecture.  I was recently afforded the privilege of a campus tour courtesy of Sarah (thanks again!) and my first impressions were favorable.  I must admit I am pleasantly surprised by the look of the place.  True, it was during the Summer when it is so much less crowded but I doubt it will make a big difference.

I don't really know how I will fare in my studies because in one sense, while I do hold a two-year degree, I might just as well have never attended college if you want to compare the academic standards of a community college against a university--a disquieting thought.  Ultimately, though, I cannot doubt that I am in the right place.  There are just too many things which have smacked of God's faithful guidance in my life leading up to this point that I really ought not to feel anything but complete trust by now.  If only that were so!  How easily I often find something to help add doubt and confusion to the mix.

I was recently impressed by the passage in Luke 12 which deals with worry.  It's funny how some things don't hit you hard enough to matter until you need them most.  I've always thought that the essence of this passage was about the folly of worrying:

And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? -verse 25

i.e. Don't sit and pull your hair out till the wee hours of the morning--it's unhealthy and will eventually get you all sick and dead!  That isn't all, though.  The thing which struck me about it this time was this verse:

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. -verse 29

"...nor have an anxious mind." Not only does he tell us to trust him, we are to completely give up anxiety as an acceptable way of dealing with our troubles.  Jesus isn't saying: "it's ok to be a little anxious as long as you trust Me."  No, He instead insists on an entirely different way of thinking!  Isn't is odd how we say we trust God to work out His own will in our lives and still hold on tightly to our precious anxiety?  We kneel and pray for God to help us make an important decision, pouring it all out at His feet and "trusting" Him to carry us through...  Then we get up off our knees and pick up right where we left off.

One thing is for certain--God has yet to resort to the "hard way" (whatever that is) in teaching me to trust Him.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The servant

This morning's sermon was simply convicting! Pastor is going through John and we have come on chapter 13, the passage where Jesus washing the disciple's feet is recorded. It was convicting and also thought provoking.

One of the things that came to mind is what I have seen and experienced in Civil Air Patrol. On the surface, it being a volunteer program, you might expect to see a servant-like attitude abounding among CAP members. I won't go so far as to say it doesn't exist but I will settle for saying that I have seen many a cadet or senior member who is only there so they can feel important, go on a power trip or even just look fancy. It can be a dog-eat-dog world when things are arranged as a chain of command structure.

The problem that I run into is the fact that one of the most important principals of leadership is effective delegation. That is, being able to task others under you efficiently enough to get something done. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. I will not deny its importance. The following anecdote, though, will perhaps give you a better idea of the "problem" I have running through my head.

It was little more than a year ago and it was spring. The wing (state-wide) conference was almost concluded and it was morning--breakfast time to be exact. All the cadets had helped themselves and there was little to do but wait for the next activity on the schedule. At least, that's what we thought. There was one particular cadet--a colonel (the highest grade achievable in the program) who had found a way to keep busy. He lived in the area and had just come from home so he didn't have luggage to carry around. Even so, I don't think many of us were prepared for what we saw out of him. Throughout breakfast, he stood there behind the table of food and kept it all in order and made sure everything was set out. I had finished eating and noticed, as I walked out the door, that he had now finished managing the food. He was now putting everything away and cleaning up after us! As if that wasn't bad enough, after ten minutes outside, who should I see walking past me than this colonel carrying a black plastic garbage bag with all of the leavings to the dumpster!

I remember thinking to myself at the time that I would never see the like again!

It was such a departure from the norm. He was an unquestioned, highly decorated leader stooping to take the garbage out! I was more than a little impressed by what I saw. I know some others who have seen him do similar things with mixed opinions about the wisdom of his actions. Some would consider it a foolish action--a complete mistake. They would argue that it undermines his leadership. They believe that a leader who doesn't consistently delegate is failing to keep up a respectable image. While I agree that there are some merits to this argument I disagree that dirty work is completely out of a leaders job list.

All in all, it's a tough call. I know there are things this person could have done--like delegate--but I just can't condemn him for doing it because I know him to be a strong Christian and he did it to bring glory to God's name. He has earned a lot of respect from subordinates for his selflessness, but I think it hurts him in the eyes of his superiors--mainly because I don't think they realize how much it actually increases people's respect for him.

A puzzle to be sure. In my mind, every situation is different and you can't make an across-the-board judgment call. On the one hand, it is refreshing to see someone just being himself for once and not trying to impress anyone. On the other hand, is it always a bad thing to be concerned with your image? That may sound like a really weird questions, but again, this is all about context. After all, I wouldn't want my superior to think I can't keep up a professional image. So yes, I say again: It's all about context.

Now for the the ultimate challenge.

For a Christian, true leadership in a military setting requires a beautiful and theoretically impossible blend of two qualities.

First, a firm commitment to customs and standards with a thorough understanding of leadership principals (yes, that includes delegation), his position and the job. Second, a profound ability to live serventhood!

Need I say more?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Michael Moore, Hezbollah Heartthrob

I just have to encourage everyone to read this article by Clifford D. May. I don't think I have ever seen one of his columns but I was blown away by what he's uncovered!

One of the following quotes is from Michael Moore, the other is from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah is responsible for the Beirut bombing.

“The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.”

“This is the war of a despotic, arrogant, and cruel country against the nations of the world.”

Read his article for the answer

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Despair: In the eyes of the beholder

No doubt some readers have noticed this blog's Numenorian theme. There are reasons for this and I must confess that communicating them in full would be a job for which I think I am not yet ready. The simplest reason which I could give would be my love of Tolkien so that is where I will leave it for the present.

Yes, I like the movies as well and they did a good job for the most part. Lately, I have been watching the Return of the King and it has once again called to my attention some aspects of the story which have sparked my intense interest in the past!

Let me just start by explaining that the movie fails in one regard. Denethor, the steward of Gondor, is seen by most movie viewers as being simply insane. What most people can't explain from just watching the movie, is the root of this "insanity." In the first place, he wasn't literally insane. The key item missing in the movie was the "palantír" or "seeing stone" in Denethor's possession. That's right, there is supposed to be another one in Minas Tirith.

I'm sure some of you are saying, "well, so what?" But let me explain to you the importance of this fact without going into too much detail about the history of the "seeing stones." Yes, Denethor having one of them is significant because that is how he learned of Aragorn's existence. More than that, he had come face to face with Sauron. Denethor was a very "wise" man in many ways. I've always looked at his two sons as having each inherited one of his father's two qualities. Boromir had his fathers leadership and valor in battle. Faramir was also a great leader, but less in the physical sense. He was extremely wise and intelligent. The book takes great pains to paint Denethor and Faramir as two very difficult people to deceive. Frodo couldn't hide the fact he was hiding something from Faramir. Pippin had a private interview with Denethor and dutifully kept all the secrets he was told to keep--and yet he had unwittingly given much away. That was the way it was with Denethor.

Yet, coming face to face with Sauron is no little thing even for someone as wise as Denethor. He had unwittingly played right into Sauron's hand whose tactics have become very clear: He does what ever he can to make his enemies despair. He does this by showing his own might (even if he has to exaggerate a bit) in such a way as to convince his enemy that all hope of resistance is vain.

This is a fascinating concept to me: a person despairing because he thinks he knows the future. Saruman and Denethor despaired after being convinced of Mordor's invincibility and inevitable victory. Remember in the movie, when Pippin saw into the seeing stone, how he was shown Minas Tirith in flames. Here is a prime example of Sauron's attempts to induce despair. Of course, Sauron didn't know who pippin was, so he could not have known that it was not worth the effort. But the fact remains that those most prone to despair are those convinced they know the future.

Why is this important to know? It's important because of one unchanging fact: We do not know the future and never can. Despair is for those who know, without a shadow of a doubt, what the future is going to hold--none of us are in that position! Let us then look on despair for what it is. It is completely off-limits to a follower of Christ! To despair is not only to take our eyes off the living God, but it is to steal from Him His lordship and sovereignty in our lives. When we despair, we trample holy ground and completely deny God.

How ironic then that Satan uses despair for our destruction. We look around at the world and see only "the signs of the times" and not lost souls to be brought into the God's Kingdom. We look at ourselves in all of our filth and sinfulness and think we ourselves are a lost cause. After all, if God's Spirit were really working sanctification in my life, shouldn't I be experiencing daily victory and be encouraged? Why am I failing so often in the same areas? Why am I fighting the same fight I was fighting before I became a Christian? Where is the hope?

I am struck at how quickly these doubts are shattered when we see life through lens of His covenant! He does not tell us to simply tough it out on our own. Instead He has marvelously provided a bulwark against this deadly despair.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
John 6:37

God provides us with the very evidence and tangible signs to encourage us. Just as surely as a man and a woman wear a ring to signify their oneness in marriage, even so I need only look to my baptism to remind me of who I am and where my citizenship lies. How foolish and blind of me to forget and despair!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Another interesting "quality"

I was talking to a good friend today and during the course of the conversation, she told me I was, of all things, a push-over. Now, before you get the idea that I am totally shocked by this piece of searing insight on my personality, let me warn you that there is still a bit of residual sarcasm lurking in my muddled brain.

FYI: If you want to know more about this bout of mine with sarcasm, let me just say that besides these little insights into my person, I usually leave a conversation with her having a renewed appetite for that "less than civil quality" I mentioned in my last post.

So yes, to be more blunt than I prefer at this time, I was not at all surprised by her observation. I know all too well how completely spineless I can be!! Take the example of the telemarketer...

I have never been able to say "no, I am annoyed that you want me to make a decision so unimportant and meaningless to my life and feel guilty for simply wanting to cut you off!" Instead, I sit there and actually listen to what they say! What is the matter with me!? The other day, it was a the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters looking for people to pledge donations. I sat and listened to that guy pitch it to me and told him I couldn't afford it (score one for me!).

"Oh, yes I understand, and that is why we think 20 dollars is all you need to give to support the essential public services we offer. Could you do that?"

Somehow he muddled me into thinking I could get a mailing which would give more info on those "essential public services" he mentioned.

"Ok, that's great, I'll transfer you over to my book-keeper and she can set you up with that! Just be sure to get the check in the mail by July 6th"

*click* (my mind does a summersault)

"Hi, is this Mark?

Yes. (bad answer, mark!)

"Ok, what is your mailing address?"

So I gave her my address (bad llama!)

"And we ask that you make sure your check is in the mail by the 6th."

Um, you understand, though, that I may not be sending anything. Will that have anything to do with it? (hmmm, good question mark!)

"Did you agree to pledge 20 dollars?"

Not if I don't have more information. (ok mark, not bad)

*exasperation* "Well then we can't send you the mailing."

I am also exasperated at this point. She went on finally:

"Would you be able to make a decision better if you had the mailing?"

Yes. (hmmm...sorry mark, bad answer!)

"Well, then we will get that to you soon....." Something more about mailing a check by the 6th, etc.

So the 6th has finally arrived and there is no check in the mail! I did receive the mailing, checked it out and came away with some major red flags. I somehow didn't think "Statewide educational seminars to assist fire fighters and paramedics with legislative issues, local governmental affairs, labor relations" et al were "essential public services." No offense, but that sounds a bit like a propaganda machine.

Some may think that I was not necessarily a push-over because I didn't really understand what this whole thing was all about. But just think of the trouble I could have avoided by suppressing those idiotic impulses to try to understand!

Be assured that I can provide one or two more egregious examples of my spinelessness. But for reasons of respectability among my peers I think I'd better keep them to myself. In hindsight, its not every day someone gets to frustrate a telemarketer's book-keeper.

Monday, July 05, 2004

A less than civil quality

I've just been reading up on some articles which caught my eye during my regular perusal. I happened upon one of David Limbaugh's latest--a very good one. I highly recommend it. The following is an abbreviated excerpt, covering what I think are his most important points:

"I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist . . . who doesn't share it. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."
-Senator John Kerry

Sen. Kerry's argument that he is personally against abortion, but wouldn't legislate his views on others who disagree, is entirely specious.

In the first place, by refusing to display the courage to stand up against his pro-abortion constituents and defend the unborn, Kerry is essentially imposing his views on others -- the babies -- by default. And they are the only innocent ones in this equation.

Secondly, as I've said before, we do (and must) legislate morality. Our entire system of criminal law and much of our civil law is based on our moral beliefs, from assault and battery to murder in the first degree. If we don't "legislate morality," we forfeit the rule of law and ordered liberty altogether.

Thirdly, it is embarrassing that a person seeking the highest office in the land so misapprehends the constitutional concepts involved in church/state relations that he thinks they preclude the state from basing its laws on moral principles. He couldn't be more out of phase with America's founding fathers.

I also happened on (more like tripped over) this article from the NY Times which I don't recommend reading because 1, you have to register to read the Times online and 2, because it is five lousy pages of free campaign advertising. Needless to say, having just finished the other Limbaugh article, I stopped reading the Times piece when I reached this quote attributed to Bradford Snell, a fellow Yale student:

"He was immensely respected," he finally replied. "You knew that he was incorruptible. He gave off, he sort of exuded this inner sense of moral probity and integrity."

Oh, I'm swooning! I must say, how touching!

I think that was my first venture on this blog into the wonderful world of sarcasm. You will learn to brace yourselves in the future when you see signs of this less than civil quality arising in my thoughts.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Worthwhile thoughts

I don't know what I should be writing for such a day as this so I am not going to steal thunder from those to whom it rightfully belongs. A few good quotes are worth more than what I could ever dream up.

"We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp."
--Calvin Coolidge

"Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people."
--Ronald Reagan

The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. ... We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth."
--Ronald Reagan

Quotes are selected from The Federalist e-Journal

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Profundity AWOL

It's about an hour from Independance Day 04 and I wish there was something profound and original for me to write. Perhaps it would be better to wait till the day of so I can let the vibes take hold!!

Ta ta till then...