Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Implosion of the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church

 


Recently, at a clergy gathering, we had a serious discussion among colleagues of the sad state of the Christian church on earth.  While there are obviously exceptions to this being a universal condition, it is also equally true that in western societies, where affluence rules the day, apathy toward the triune God has sadly set in.  Churches and denominations minimize the Word of God, the basic Biblical doctrines that shouldn't even be up for debate, and serve created things and self interests, rather than the creator who is forever to be praised. (Romans 1:25).

 I really don't like resorting to social media "memes" for illustrative purposes, but something that predates even modern social media often made it's rounds via email 25 years ago.  This is a compilation of a couple of different sources on these located on the internet (along with that email from long ago).  It expresses precisely why God's church on earth is imploding right now, as it has done repeatedly throughout human history.  I pray that as before, God resurrects it once again and raises up a new generation of faithful leaders, that we all may see the wisdom of God in His Holy Word, and offer our praise and service to the triune God alone.  How many of these are we guilty of?

Funny Isn’t It?

Funny how we call God our Father and Jesus our Friend, but find it hard to introduce them to our friends.

Funny how much difficulty some have learning the gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is to understand and explain the latest gossip about someone else.

Funny how a $10 bill  looks so big when you take it to church, but so small when you take it to the mall.

Funny how big an hour serving God looks and how small 60 minutes are when spent watching television, playing sports, sleeping or taking a lunch break.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at Church is but how short they are when watching a good movie.

Funny how we get thrilled when a football match goes into overtime, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.

Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible and how easy it is to read 200-300 pages of a best selling novel.

Funny how we believe what a newspaper or the internet says, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how people scramble to get a front seat at a concert, but scramble to get a back seat at the church service.

Funny how we cannot fit a gospel meeting into our monthly schedule but we can schedule other events at a moment's notice.

Funny how we look forward to that big date on Friday or Saturday night, but complain about getting up for church on Sunday morning.

Funny how we are rarely late to work, but always late to church.

Funny how small our sins seem, but how big their sins are.

Funny how people are so consumed with what others think about them rather than what God thinks about them.

Funny how we demand justice for others, but expect mercy from God.

Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray, but don't have any difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we are so quick to take directions from a total stranger when we are lost, but are hesitant to take God's direction to be found.

Funny how so many churchgoers sing "Standing on The Promises" but all they do is sit on the premises.

Funny how people want God to answer their prayers but refuse to listen to His Counsel.

Funny how we sing about heaven, but live only for today.

Funny how people think they are going to Heaven but don't think there is a hell.

Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven, provided they don't have to believe, or to think, or to say, or to do anything.

Funny how people think that they can get more accomplished in a lifetime without God than in an hour with Him.

Funny how it is okay to blame God for evil and suffering in the world, but it is not necessary to thank Him for what is good and pleasant.

Funny how when something goes wrong, we cry, "Lord, why me?" but when something goes right, we think, "Hey, it must be me!"

Funny how we all need to read these.

Or wait... these aren't so "funny" after all.


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Liberty


So I was on my way to Lincoln the other day, and as usual, I sync my phone to the truck audio system and listen to various music stored there.  I have a very eclectic taste in music - always have.  So I'm rolling down the interstate at 75 MPH past the Grand Island exit, and what randomly shuffles in and plays?  A track entitled "Liberty Fanfare" by composer John Williams.  It was originally written and conducted by Williams as a commemoration of the Statue of Liberty on it's centennial in 1986.  It's a rather stirring and moving piece, that you can listen to here.  As I thought of the back story of this piece of music, it sent my mind on pondering the Statue, it's implication and purpose, and how the very concept of "Liberty" in America has somehow gone drastically wrong in my lifetime.

The concept of liberty today has turned into something not intended by either it's own definition or by the founders who made it an integral part of our country.  At one time, you were free to do anything that would aid the common good, not hinder it.  Today it has changed into meaning "I can do as I please," no matter whose liberties my exercise of it infringes upon.  Part of the problem though is that we cannot agree on what the common good is.  Case in point:  liberal Democrat policies have caused a massive spike in murder and violent crime around the country, but largely in Democratically controlled cities.  and of course, in today's woke/cancel culture/"fact check" era, the internet is replete with perported "fact checks" claiming one cannot link a specific party with the lawnessness that goes on in major US cities.  Well, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...  

 A bit of historical revisionism I uncovered:  According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the Statue was originally a Muslim woman, because she was based on the "Colossus of Rhodes" and some of the ancient Egyptian statues of 3000 years ago. Um, the Colossus was actually a Greek construct, and regardless of Greek or Egyptian influence and origins, neither nation was Muslim during the time that all of their massive statuary were constructed.  The Colossus, as well as the ancient statuary of Egypt, all date well before the time of Christ, which is centuries BEFORE Islam even existed!  In fact, the Colossus was permanently DESTROYED by a Muslim army in 653 AD!  It would seem that history, like science of late, is being twisted to fit a political narrative, rather than informing us so that we do not repeat it.

Ok, back to the topic of "liberty."  Liberty and freedom are not interchangeable terms.  Liberty is defined thus:  "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views."  Freedom is defined "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint."  And while they may seem to be interchangeable, when it comes to the concept of liberty in America, our founders put it best:  "Liberty is the power to do everything that does not interfere with the rights of others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every individual has no limits save those that assure to other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights.”  (Thomas Paine, 1792).  In other words, my freedom ends where yours begins, and vice versa.  

Putting an "origins" spin to it, as religion and the Bible heavily influenced the very founding of America, look what the apostle Paul says "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14).   The whole of the Bible, it could be said, hinges on freedom that is valid only as long as it contributes to  and does not hinder the good of society and others.  In fact, the entire book is replete with example after example of people "doing as they please" and not exercising freedom to protect others.  

It appears to me that any hope of restoring our society in any meaningful way hinges first on recapturing the founders' vision for "liberty" and being free.  As long as it persists in being a "free to do as I please" mentality, our nation will continue to crumble.  If we can somehow recapture what it means to be free and yet not use freedom to indulge sinful nature or cause the detriment of others, then perhaps there will be hope for our country after all.   But for some reason, I continue to have images of Charlton Heston seeing the remains of the Statue of Liberty lying shattered on a beach, and fearing that this is also the fate of this nation, should we not reverse course soon.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Following the Science?

 


Covid19 has obviously been on everyone's mind the past two years, and in part due to an obsessed mainstream media and overbearing authorities.  We’ve had numerous people test positive for Covid19 in the past two years locally but never once are we told what strain they had, and in some instances they have absolutely no symptoms.  Now a little bit of background for me: I got extremely sick in late December of 2019 (Christmas day was the onset, in fact).  I wasn’t bad Christmas day, and even went into the assisted living facility that day to wish all of them a merry Christmas.  The next day, I tested positive for influenza B.  A couple of days of medication, and I was getting better, until I suddenly spiked a fever and had it off and on for 5 days, had difficulty breathing, was horribly congested in my lungs, and lost my sense of taste and smell (which was odd considering that only happened in the past when my sinuses and nasal passage were completely plugged, which in this instance they were not.).  Now this is before Covid was officially Covid, mind you, so I never officially had it then, despite that in the fall of 2019, a good third of our town had this same “unknown respiratory illness” that left us all with a weeks-long horrible cough afterward.  It is worth pointing out also that blood tests from at least December of 2019 confirm it was here in the US, with some speculating that it was even here in August of 2019.  To my knowledge, no one died of it during that time.  

Fast forward now a year and two-thirds, through repeated misdirection and conflicting information  from those in charge (China, the WHO, the CDC, “phony” Fauci, and the like), through ventilators, deaths, mutated variants, where it appeared that the common cold and the flu completely disappeared during that time.  In mid October of last year, I had a couple of days of “feverish” feeling (with no actual fever), and a mild cough.  Only because my wife tested positive for Covid19 after running a fever, was I tested, and yes, it was positive.  Apparently I had it for 8 days and didn’t even suspect it.  One of my rheumatologists claims I was unaware because I take regular hydroxychloroquine for my rheumatoid arthritis (you know, that drug that all the talking heads claim is dangerous to take and shouldn't be used for Covid treatment?), while the other rheumatologist claims it has no effect on Covid 19!  In the meantime, I attended volleyball games, group functions, and the like, and in all instances, those I was closest to never came down with Covid19.

Now here we are at the beginning of 2022, and the mainstream media is in a full panic about the Omicron variant (pronounced OH-mi-cron, NOT AH-mi-cron), despite that to date, apparently not one person has died of it.  And once again, the common cold seems absent, despite the deep freeze we are currently in.

Now I’m not questioning whether or not I had it back in October: while I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell, I did notice after the fact, that they both “changed,” to where things didn’t taste right, so I assume I had it then as well.  But it made me think: Where is the common cold, which is also a coronavirus?  What about the other common coronaviruses?  There are 4, according to the CDC, that cause the common cold.  There’s even a “fact sheet” that tells us how to help prevent the spread of them, which sounds an awful lot like the information regarding stopping the spread of Covid19 (minus the mask, of course).  There are also coronaviruses that causes SARS and MERS, which are more serious.  And then of course, we come to Covid19, or SARS-Cov-2.

Considering how common the common cold is, it made me wonder that since it is also often caused by these 4 different coronaviruses, how does a rapid test actually distinguish between Covid19 and other coronaviruses?  They are all distinguished by the spikes on their outer shell - the very thing that the mRNA vaccines are supposed to be “replicating” to help the body develop immunity to Covid19.  

So I dove in, trying to do some research to see how the rapid test distinguishes one from another.  In other words, considering all of the reports of both false positives and false negatives out there (admittedly not fact checked by me), and reports of them being only 50% reliable (also not fact checked by me), I wanted to see just how reliable they are, while not doubting that my positive last fall was indeed a positive.

So I searched on "DuckDuckGo:" “how does a Covid rapid test distinguish between covid19 and other coronaviruses?”  It seemed like a good wording to pull up any information out there from any official sites: WHO, CDC, various medical journals, and the like.  I was astonished at the results, or lack thereof.

Two pages of results yielded some articles (mostly CDC) on how Covid19 affects the body differently than other coronaviruses.  Some purportedly debunk claims that the PCR test can’t distinguish between Covid19 and the flu (even I understand those are two completely different viruses, so no big deal there, despite that is not what I asked the search engine to find).   Several sites gave me comparisons between the PCR test and the rapid test, which only skirted around the theoretical unreliability of the rapid test, listing many reasons why it may not detect the virus.  The ONLY article that answered the question I asked was from a now debunked fact check site used and paid for by (you guessed it) Facebook, to claim that “no, PCR tests don’t detect other coronaviruses.”  That’s interesting since I didn’t ask about the PCR test (which I understand to be different than the rapid test, according to the CDC’s own website), and since there is no supporting material to back up their “debunking” of the supposedly false Facebook post which makes the claim to the contrary.  But there are plenty of articles that pop up calling “Fullfact” a bogus fact check site paid for by both Soros and Facebook.  One website claimed to debunk my question, but with a CDC link that relates to antibody testing, not virus testing.  Following that link does indeed show it talking of past infections, not current ones.

The last link led me to refine my search somewhat.  So I searched for “how does a rapid test distinguish between Covid19 and the common cold?”  Basically, I got the same results, with the exception that most sites explained the difference between Covid19 symptoms and the common cold symptoms.  No new information was gleaned other than what I’ve already identified here in the links.  

So how do I verify that a rapid test does NOT in fact, detect other coronaviruses?  For that matter, given the PCR test attempts to ID the genetic material of the Covid19 virus, how does it distinguish between other Coronaviruses and Covid19?  Nothing pops up in my search for either of these questions, other than the false “fact check” claim from a dubious site.  It’s time to call the local clinic and see if someone there can tell me.

After speaking with a person whom I know and trust at the clinic (who I am not naming out of respect for their privacy and anonymity), while they could not specifically answer the question I had, I came away with some reassurance from their understanding of the matter - more than I had with the completely lacking information from my internet searches.  False positives are rare with the rapid test, but false negatives should not necessarily be trusted.  The longer PCR test is the more reliable one, and it was used in respiratory coronavirus testing long before Covid19, and always was reliable before Covid19.  So while this was not the specificity I was looking for, considering the source, I have confidence in trusting the answer.  But given that coronaviruses are still similar in structure (i.e. the spike protein on the outer shell) and yet cause wildly different symptoms as well as potential lethality, my question still remains unanswered.  The Delta variant was rampant when I tested positive in October, but yet was never told what "strain" I had, nor have I seen any information on what different tests are used to determine the variants as well, despite that we are simply to trust that it is now the Omicron variant running rampant through the country.

Like so many things we’ve seen in the past two years regarding Covid, it is just one more  thing that casts doubt on the reliability of science and what we are told by those in charge.  Sadly, science, which was supposed to be the search for absolute truth, has now been sold to the highest bidder or the most influential political party.  (See these past entries for some more insight into this)  Our society and the world has gone along with it all, and has now deified science, instead of placing their trust in the creator of all things first. 

Also like so many things, many of my (and our) questions remain unanswered, because we are fed a steady diet of proven falsehoods, partisan rantings, and dubious and unproven or supported scientific claims.  Like my former profession of Sedimentary Petrology (geology), I am finding that to trust in science implicitly is indeed to turn it into a false god, and always at the expense of the one true God - the triune God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

None of this means that those of us skeptical of the past two years' worth of the pandemic don't take Covid seriously, and don't do things to help mitigate the spread of it.  What it does mean is that few things, if any, are as they appear or as we are told, and it's long past time to put our collective trust back in God first.  Let the Scriptures guide us in how we understand science.  Science should never guide us in how we understand the Scriptures.












Friday, September 24, 2021

The Bible's Story: Parts 9 and 10 (Exile and the Prophets)


Continuing a series on the Bible's summary:

 Part 9:  In 587 BC, the Babylonian armies once again marched across the now-destroyed “Northern Kingdom” of Israel, and what was left of the “Southern Kingdom” of Judah, completely looting and leveling everything in their path, including Solomon’s great Temple in Jerusalem.  A vast majority of the Hebrews they encountered where either put to the sword or carried off as slaves into exile in Babylon.  In other words, the Israelites were now enslaved and in exile in what is present-day Iraq.  

Why?  Why did God let this happen?  It could be said that history does indeed repeat itself, especially for those who fail to learn from it.  Recall the great enslavement of the people in Egypt and the great event of the Old Testament: The Exodus from Egypt, where God leads his people out of the chains of slavery into a new land, with the understanding that they were to honor and glorify God and God alone.  Sadly, honoring God rarely happened.

Conditions throughout the kingdoms were horrific.   Morality had crumbled and society was in chaos.  The people by-and-large were morally and spiritually bankrupt as they engaged in open prostitution even within the temple, and filled the temple with shrines to all manner of false gods.  Its leaders were fiscally irresponsible, enslaving their own people and letting greed run as the center of their existence.  Taxation was through the roof.   Leaders only looked out for themselves (this includes the majority of the kings), and were as morally and spiritually bankrupt as the people.  As the end of Judges testifies, people were doing as they saw fit, not as God had commanded them.  God’s Word meant very little in those times.  The laws that Israel had to honor God by honoring their neighbor had long disappeared.  Prosperity had completely ruined them, and as a result, they had forsaken God who had given them this prosperity in the first place.  As a political note: if you change a few names, dates, and place locations, are we describing our own country?

Therefore, because Israel had forsaken God, who had granted them the prosperity they once enjoyed, God now threatened through a small remnant of faithful followers (the prophets) that disaster would fall on them if they did not return to their Lord and God and forsake the many sinful, selfish ways that God deemed destructive to them and the common good.  Warnings were issued for dozens, even hundreds of years, that went unheeded.  

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles essentially retell the story of the kings, but this time for a remnant of God’s people now in exile that would be restored.  If God had something to say before the exile, did God also have something to say even now to those who were in exile?  Was God still interested in them?  The answer is a resounding “yes.”  Israel needed to recall what had gotten them into this new slavery and this new mess in the first place: they themselves did. 

Continuity with the past was perhaps the best way they could prevent the same thing from happening once more.  And of course, during this whole period of time, the prophets - those elusive, sometimes reclusive, often reluctant but faithful messengers of God, were not only warning them of disaster, but also reminding them that God’s covenant with Abraham was not fulfilled yet.  While their “predictions” of disaster did indeed come to be fulfilled, would their words of comfort and encouragement regarding the restoration of Israel and a coming Savior from God also be fulfilled?   

Part 10:  The Kingdom has been destroyed.  Its’ buildings lie in ruins.  The Temple has been leveled.  Its’ people have been carried off into exile in Babylon, and it seems they are right back where they started - in slavery and bondage.  So what happened to God’s promise to Abraham?  Enter the prophets!

There are numerous books of prophesy in the Old Testament.  They are divided into “major” and “minor” prophets.  These correspond largely to the size of the books.  Therefore, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel are considered “major,” while the majority of the prophets (Hosea through Malachi) are considered “minor.”  Other prophets also existed that do not have their words recorded in the Bible, such as Elijah, who was a prophet of God in the early years of the kings.  Nearly half (17 of 39) books of the Old Testamant are books attributed to these elusive messengers of God.

What is a prophet?  It is someone, called by God, to deliver a message to God’s people.  A prophet’s primary mission for God is not to predict the future, but to deliver the message.  God’s prophets had a universal message that recurred over and over.  It is not unlike the message we saw throughout the history books telling us of the kings: the people had rebelled against and turned away from God, and needed to renew their commitment to the LORD.  Spiritually, the people were terminally sick.  Morally, the people were bankrupt.  Socially, however, things never appeared better, despite the lies, deception, corruption, and greed on a national level.

As God’s messenger, first and foremost, what is often associated with the prophet’s words is a statement such as “thus says the Lord...” (Jeremiah 2:2 and elsewhere).  Though the prophets spoke for God, their message was often ignored.  So how then, one might ask, does a person know if the prophet’s message is for real?  It can be measured on whether or not it conforms to the past history, and on whether or not its message comes true.  

In the case of the Biblical prophets, they really weren’t telling the people anything new that they had not heard before.  If we recall the covenant God made on Mount Sinai (the 10 Commandments), there were certain stipulations that went along with it.  The prophets were simply reminding the people and the leaders of those stipulations, and warning them that the disasters foretold for them disobeying the covenant would take place soon if they did not change their ways (Deut. 27:15-26).

However, the prophets, in addition to warning the people of impending disaster according to the conditions of the Sinai Covenant, also foretold of a “restoration” after disaster hit, that would also be brought about by God.  The “restoration” prophesies all center on a future “Messiah” or “Savior” that was yet to come.  Some of these prophetic words are even affirmed when we read the four Gospels, especially in the Gospel of St. Matthew.  For example, Isaiah 7:14, which says “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son...” is confirmed to be fulfilled in Jesus when we read Matthew 1:23.  So even though the disaster scenario of the Israelites disobeying their part of the covenant was going to happen, God wasn’t done yet, and had additional plans for not only Israel but also the whole world, Isaiah 11:10, 12 and elsewhere.  

Though Israel was God’s chosen, eventually all peoples are chosen by God to live in covenant with Him through the examples both good and bad given us by the Hebrew people.   The foretold Messiah is to be the fulfillment of this future hope.  Today, we know this Messiah as Jesus.

Author's note:  This was originally a series written for a bulletin insert, and is continuing to be adapted as a Confirmation curriculum Bible overview.  The whole series is available by contacting me.  Past blog
installments can be found here:

Part 1

Parts 2 and 3

Part 4

Parts 5 and 6

Parts 7 and 8

Saturday, June 12, 2021

No Excuses



"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." - Romans 1:20

Trail Log:  March 18, 1990

 It has been nearly two years since the odyssey on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) began.  Much of it, especially those “not so good” times, has been forgotten or stored in the collective unconsciousness, anyway.  Over the past year I have reflected much on that journey, wishing how I were back there and how I wish I had done a lot of things differently.  Isn’t that the story of life??  Looking back on the past, remembering with fondness those things of yesteryear, yet wishing somehow there was a way to recapture those days and relive them, perhaps changing a few things along the way?  Much has happened in the 1 ½ years since the last day on the PCT.  I am finishing my thesis, I have worked as an emergency dispatcher - a job come and gone, that was a good experience.  And now, I live in Palo Alto California, working as a geologist specializing in earthquakes, and still looking for the perfect girl for me.  Some things never change, I guess!

And yet, all of that pales in comparison to this moment.  Here I sit at approximately 7850' in elevation, surrounded by snow on a glorious March morning in the looming presence of Half-Dome.  Stretched out in front of me are the peaks of the Ritter Range, and the head of Yosemite Valley.  The Ritter Range - alas!  I can think back just by looking out at Banner peak and seeing through the mountain to the other side - hiking past Thousand Island Lake, with Banner Peak towering over both the lake and I.  The ever present breeze here is the voice of God, calling me back to my roots.  The woodpeckers are out; their task of searching for food in the bark of the Jeffrey Pines never complete.

It is a glorious view, and my presence here feels natural - I belong here.  Recharged now, I can return to the city.  Yet I do not want to return.  Not return?  To a place where I am an important and integral part of human expansion?  Why would I not want to leave a place where I feel so insignificant in the shadow of such worthy grandeur?  Because I belong here.  Yet, I sigh with reluctance because I know that I must return, for now anyway.  This is a harsh and hostile land, despite that God blessed me with some beautiful winter weather this weekend.  Yet, the very nature of this place prevented me from reaching my destination - the almighty summit of Half Dome.  2/3 the way up quarter dome, I gave up because the snow was getting too deep and slushy.  I had lost the trail long ago - but kept at the task regardless.  I am humbled by that towering monolith, yet I do not regret that loss.  I still have an impressive climb behind me; one that has left me with a tremendous view of the Sierra high country.  My first winter experience is nearly over: My first real hike in a year and a half.  (I was prepared this time: lots of warm clothes, a warmer bag, and snow shoes).

Right now, there is a slight breeze, and the stillness coupled with the rustling of the pines and cedars gives me an aching longing to be back here for a great length of time.  My heart aches tremendously to be able to soak everything about this place up and keep them all: the crisp, clear march air, the towering snow-clad spires of granite, the breeze, the rustling of the pines, the birds chirping, the views, the very essence of this place - the Incomparable Valley.  I feel like through all of these things, I am staring in awe face to face with God.

And I see now why man was removed from Eden.  He can’t fit in.  His own sin got him expelled by God, in part because he is not God, and as such, can never in this life truly be completely immersed in the presence of God.  That is the definition of heaven, and this world, though grand in its beauty, is not heaven.    We can accomplish great things with the help and aid of God, but in the end, it can never ultimately be about us, because in the end, we destroy and demolish Eden, and it can destroy and demolish us.  The beauty of our natural world - God's creation - is about as close as we can ever get to Eden, and in itself pales to comparison with the paradise of Eden.  God's creation is both beautiful and terrifying.  One little slip anywhere could destroy life itself - we certainly cannot survive here without significant aid.

------------------------------

A later addendum to this trail log:  These observations seemed so poignant re-reading them, and like so many things in life, much of what was said here was forgotten, or ignored - either accidentally or intentionally (or a bit of both) - in the years between then and now.  A couple of constants to ponder as I reflect back here in the heartland of America:  I miss those days still, longing for more but knowing that my age and life circumstances mean they are over, and nostalgia aside, accept that willingly.  The second is that all of these experiences - THIS log from a weekend trip in March of 1990, another trip in April where I summited Half Dome for a second time AND had the entire dome to myself all night long, along with extending that hike to the summit of Cloud's Rest to the east, all led eventually to my life vocation of being a minister and ambassador of God's Holy Word.  Not just an ambassador, but one who recognizes the extreme importance and truth in all of it - fed in part by seeing the creative hand of God first hand on this trip, and many others.  The mountains may always be calling me.   But in that calling, it is only to feel insignificant in the presence of God's sheer creative power - to get but a glimpse of God - highly incomplete that it may be - in what He has made.  It is the essence of Romans 1:20.

Yes, the original post before the "addendum" is my actual trail log from that winter trek into the Yosemite backcountry.



Monday, May 31, 2021

A Memorial Day Remembrance

1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne , France . A total of 2289 of our military dead.


2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes , Belgium . A total of 5329 of our military dead.


3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France . A total of 4410 of our military dead.


4. Brookwood , England American Cemetery. A total of 468 of our military dead.


5. Cambridge , England . 3812 of our military dead.


6. Epinal , France American Cemetery. A total of 5525 of our military dead.


7. Flanders Field , Belgium . A total of 368 of our military dead.


8. Florence , Italy . A total of 4402 of our military dead.


9. Henri-Chapelle , Belgium . A total of 7992 of our military dead.


10. Lorraine , France . A total of 10,489 of our military dead.


11. Luxembourg , Luxembourg . A total of 5076 of our military dead.


12. Meuse-Argonne. A total of 14246 of our military dead.


13. Netherlands , Netherlands . A total of 8301 of our military dead.


14. Normandy , France . A total of 9387 of our military dead.


15. Oise-Aisne , France . A total of 6012 of our military dead.


16. Rhone , France . A total of 861 of our military dead.


17. Sicily , Italy . A total of 7861 of our military dead.


18. Somme , France . A total of 1844 of our military dead.


19. St. Mihiel , France . A total of 4153 of our military dead.


20. Suresnes , France . a total of 1541 of our military dead.




IF I ADDED CORRECTLY, THE COUNT IS 104,366 of our military dead.

This does not even count those who were buried on our own shores.

Apologize to no one.

"The nation that forgets it's defenders will itself be forgotten." - President Calvin Coolidge


Friday, April 30, 2021

Division

 


These are some random thoughts on this sunny last day of April.  Yesterday, I saw a post that argued against the labeling of soap dispensers as racist.  You mean to tell me that someone out there has actually postulated that bathroom soap dispensers are racist?  Yes, you know?  Those automatic soap dispensers that hang on bathroom walls - often found at gas stations, truck stops and rest areas?  You know, the kind that have motion sensors in them to dispense a small amount of soap hands-free?  Well, they are apparently racist because they don't sense the color of a person's skin (seems like that would make them NOT racist to me...) and because they cause a black person to expose the lightest portion of their skin - their palm - to the dispenser.  (Uh, it'll work just the same on the back of your hand, your foot, your leg, your arm, your jacket sleeve...)  Just when I thought the world couldn't get any more stupid, and I'm proven wrong, again.  I actually thought that the Portland Oregon school district debating whether or not trees were racist was the dumbest thing ever.  (yeah, in the state that has a TREE on their license plate - THAT Portland) This one tops that.  As the point of the video denouncing this lunacy so aptly states, if you think in racist terms, you'll see racism in everything.  Apply that more broadly:  If all you do is focus on hate (or fill in the blank), all you'll ever do is see everything through a hate-filled lens.  It seems today that Dr. King's dream has died a slow, asphyxiating death, because we have an entire party (yes, the Democratic party) that can't see beyond the color of a person's skin, and refuses to judge anyone on the content of their character.

    Today, we have no end of terms thrown around by the liberal media and the Democratic party such as "white privilege," "systemic racism," "critical race theory," and so on.  But here's the problem as I see it with these terms, and it's twofold.  One:  I was raised in a typical midwestern middle class family (you'll note that I didn't identify it as "white.").  My parents never taught me to judge anyone by their external appearance.  Just the opposite, in fact.  Nor did I learn (in a well-integrated school system, by the way), that a person's skin color mattered in the slightest when it came to how we interact and judge one another.  I'm also not alone.  It was purely natural to then head to college and see the same kinds of things play out there.  The only time I would judge anyone on our track team:  white, black, or Jewish, was on how well we all ran and how well we functioned together as a team.  As a sophomore, in the 4x400 relay, I was exchanging the baton with a teammate who happened to be black.  We dropped the baton on the exchange (the only time I can recall that ever happening).  It had nothing to do with skin color between us.  It had everything to do with my exhaustion and inability to place the baton squarely in his hand.  But there were also some unusual changes in college now too.  Now, we had such things as the "black student union," along with various "minorities-only" groups, activities,  and fraternities.   At the time, I began to learn that these were ok because we were all still racist.  That came as a surprise to me, even though yes, racism still exists. Some of those teammates and classmates who just happen to be black have now also - over 35 years later, accused me of being a part of all those terms above.

    Two:  when it comes to college, I never got any kind of "privilege" with being white.  In fact, I'm still paying off refinanced student loans 35 years later.  I'm not alone in this.  I don't know anyone who happens to be Caucasian who's had an easy time of life all because of their skin color.  Just the opposite in fact.  Additionally, the only ones who happen to be white and are screaming "racism," "white privilege," etc. are the rich, Hollywood and political  (Caucasian) elite who have gained their fame and fortune at the expense of the rest of us - all skin colors included in "us."  And that, my friends, is a whole different issue.  Here's a good summary of how I see it - coming from a post I made recently on Parler:  "For sale: one mint condition 'white privilege card.' It has never been used, not even once. The reason I'm selling, is because it has never done a damn thing for me. No free college, no free food, no free housing, no free anything. I actually had to go to work everyday of my life while paying a boatload of taxes to carry those who chose not to work. If you're interested, I prefer cash but would be willing to do an even trade for a race card which seems much more widely accepted and comes with multiple benefits, if you fit the profile. Serious inquiries only!"

In light of all this, what I've come to learn is that while racism does still exist, a cursory glance at history (our own recent history) certainly shows that it is nowhere near the levels it was back in the contentious '60's.  I've learned that yes, the death of minorities at the hands of police is tragic, and in at least one recent case, should not have happened.  Officer Chauvin's humanity and empathy should have kicked in and George Floyd should not have died.  I've learned that the media and the aforementioned political party routinely lies to us (lying by omission of facts and truth) surrounding racism, as more Caucasians are killed by police each year than African Americans.  I've also learned (well, I already knew this) that if you don't want to get shot by the police, cooperate with them.  In fact, whether fearing such things or not, we are to respect authority, including the police.  Above all, I've learned that the biggest racists in America today are the ones who themselves are crying "racism" and they come in all genders and colors.  Today's "cancel culture," "woke mentality," and "virtue signaling" is accomplishing nothing but throwing gasoline on the fires of an already divided nation, that has divided only because the Democratic party and the mainstream media tells us we should be divided.

Has America made mistakes in it's history?  Of course.  But let's see them for what they are, and let's also recognize the extreme sacrifice in blood to correct those past mistakes, all for the sake of liberty and freedom.  And therein lies the rub.  history shows that the world is bloody - especially when it comes to being horribly divided.  That lesson is even in our own history, and it is most evident, oddly enough, in the issue of race and slavery.  Our own Civil War was the bloodiest and costliest in American lives in the history of this country's wars.  And with liberals and the media dividing us again, I fear that another Civil War is inevitable.  Too many people have had enough of this extreme radical view of America and the world, and are tired of the race-baiting, divisive politics that are rapidly destroying this country.  It's time to move past the destructive "identity politics" so adeptly utilized by American liberals, and get back to being "One Nation Under God" once again.

But what do I know?  I'm just a white middle class male, so any position I have is automatically wrong.