Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Does America Raise Monsters?

A popular blogger, Jan Morgan asked, “If it is true that it takes a village to raise a child, I ask today, what in our culture contributed to raising a monster?” That is the exact question that needs... no...demands an answer! But the problem I have is that I don't believe that there is one answer but many. And they are interwoven into a knot that will not be easily undone. I feel that I can only address here some of the things that I have observed in my lifetime.

I was born during the Eisenhower Presidency. But my earliest real memories are from the Kennedy years. Guns have always been a part of my family. My grandfather had several. He wasn't really a hunter. He just really liked shooting and he assumed all responsibility for the security of his home and family. My father was a career officer in the Army. His sidearm was always around but secured. When President Kennedy was killed. No one anthropomorphized Oswald's rifle. Lee Harvey Oswald was just insane. But with the death of J.F.K. the country lost a bit of hope for the future. If there is anything that children need it is hope.

In the 1960's there was also the Viet Nam war. This could be an article or book in itself. But to my point it eventually became a galvanizing beacon against hate and violence. But a little more hope was lost before that happened. The summer of love was amazing. And there was reason for some hope to return. The counter culture that held a reverence for love and freedom was a powerful force. But I would suggest that the counter culture was perhaps too quick to discard parts of their parents and grandparents traditions that were good and just. That “rebellion”, which is a natural part of growing up, was appropriated. Appropriated largely by the entertainment industry. But also by political voices looking for an advantage.

Over time, parts of our society came under attack from within. One example is that many stopped seeing religion as a helpful and hopeful way for people to gather and rejoice in their faith, as well as doing good work in the name of God. Instead, religion came to be seen as old fashioned, restrictive, and unyielding. This perception has been continuously advanced by corrupt people who profit either monetarily or politically from their corruption of others. You have seen these things, profanity for profit, pornography for profit, intoxication as recreation, promiscuity portrayed as freedom. There have been rewards for bad behavior for two generations now. Let alone the falsely perceived removal of consequence. It has been the coarsening of our American culture.

We have been trained to tolerate such “damaging darkness” as First Amendment free speech. Well let me make this point right here and right now. In America, people have the right to free speech with very nearly no restriction. That doesn't, however, give them the right to be heard. That doesn't give them the right to be accepted. That simply does not excuse them from consequence! That absolutely does not give them the right to damage the impressionable minds of our children. And our ill advised tolerance has taken its toll.

Some parents have been quite derelict. Unfortunately, it doesn't take very many negligent parents to create a tragedy among us. The National Institutes of Health Studied daycare kids. And in 2001 they reported that children in daycare became more aggressive and defiant in kindergarten. And in my opinion, that is an arguably better situation than those of children who are just parked in front of a television, video game, or the internet hour after hour. Two working parent and single parent households have been mainstreamed. I am not convinced that this is a good thing. I believe that this study in particular gives me just cause for concern. I realize that not every single parent has had a choice in their situation. But many have. I have come to respect those folks who recognize that they don't want to be parents and then make sure that it doesn't happen. They are healthier for our society than those who have children as an affectation of their perfect “I can do everything” lives.

 Is it necessary to include God in the raising of children? Some say absolutely “NO”. Some say definitely “YES”. This minister says, “It may well be possible to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted children with the absence of religion or God in their parents lives. But in the absence of parents themselves it is nearly impossible. And having God in a family's life makes everything a whole lot easier.”

As for Jan Morgan's question, “If it is true that it takes a village to raise a child, I ask today, what in our culture contributed to raising a monster?” I submit that in no small part two generations have seen some people place more importance on chasing money, wanting big houses, and coveting shiny new cars. And some of those people have placed less importance on serving their children and society as loving and responsible parents. Many people have come to see houses as merely profit opportunities instead of homes. And God seems unwelcome in school and in the hearts of many politicians. What should we have expected?

As for the entertainment industry and the coarsening of culture, I hope that they have nearly reached the end of their ability to objectify and corrupt humanity. What is next? Cannibalism? I am serious. How far do they have to go before the majority of America says, “Enough! We just can't stand any more of the darkness!” Where will YOU draw that line? It is time to turn on the light... now! Perhaps a better way to say it is this. It is time to turn OFF the darkness...NOW! Do you have enough spiritual will left to even find the switch in your heart?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wisdom Of Gun Control?

The citizens of Aurora, Colorado have suffered an unimaginable tragedy. I have a really hard time time wrapping my brain around it myself. That one man could kill twelve people and seriously injure fifty eight more is hard to fathom. It reinforces the concept that there truly is evil in the world. Some will say that this poor man is very, very ill. I am in no position to judge for myself. As an American I am grieving for the victims. But I am also grieving for the shooter's mother. These must be the worst days of her life as well.

While I was watching television in horror, I was expecting to see the psychiatrists speaking about schizophrenia and other mental disorders. But I was disappointed to see the news people display their political agenda of “gun control legislation”.

Here is a little background on me. I fired a gun for the first time when I was ten years old. My father took me to the range at Fort Benning for my birthday. I fired a variety of weapons including dad's .45 semi-automatic side arm. And yes they did turn their head and let me fire a few artillery rounds. I learned an awful lot in one day. As an adult in the early 1980's, I was advised by a local policeman to carry, in the open, a hand gun while I was making late night bank deposits. I carried a large revolver and I was never bothered. Previously to that I was accidentally shot by a friend of mine who was “playing “ with a loaded revolver. And yes alcohol was involved. I see that scar every time I take my shirt off. Following that incident, I was robbed at gunpoint. The man stuck a sawed off shotgun in my face and took money and merchandise from the store that employed me. So I understand a little about firearms. I understand the damage that individuals can do with them. I understand how to use them responsibly. I also understand how they can be used during the commission of a crime. Firearms are powerful tools.

So it is with that frame of reference that I find myself incredibly frustrated with gun control advocates who are continuously anthropomorphizing firearms. And in the process they try to assign them some innate evil quality. To me guns are tools. They are no different to me than chainsaws or salad forks. I know this is a cliché, BUT guns do not shoot people. It requires an affirmative action by another person. For some reason this concept seems to be beyond the grasp of some gun control advocates.

I am a Libertarian. As such many would describe my position on firearms as extreme. But the United States Supreme Court has settled the issue of individual gun ownership most recently in McDonald v. Chicago (2010). The U.S. Constitution is pretty clear on this issue.

In an exchange on line, a gentleman asked, “Where should we draw the line legally? What should be the limit? What weapon is too large for an individual to own?” Personally, I don't see any need of a legal limit. Owning a firearm is not inexpensive. Buying even a relatively inexpensive hand gun costs hundreds of dollars. If you want an assault style rifle you are looking at thousands of dollars. And so it goes. I don't know anyone that can afford to own a bazooka or a SA.M. But if someone has the money, I can't really say that I would want to stand in their way. But ammunition is likely to be cost prohibitive. And it has been expressed to me that it usually takes firing 3 artillery rounds to actually hit the target. That would mean really expensive trips to the range. If you could find a range that could accommodate. But on a more serious note, I would be in favor of having most American homes equipped with some sort of assault rifle. And providing the training to operate and maintain that weapon safely and proficiently.

Of course, the control advocates will ask, “Why do individuals need to own assault weapons?” That question itself demonstrates a very different world view from many if not most gun owners. I still consider myself a gun owner even though I don't own one at this very moment. So I feel comfortable responding to that question. The world is a dangerous place. The threats are all around us and distant as well. The police can't and shouldn't protect us from all threats. The job of the police is to investigate and solve crimes, arrest the criminals, and deliver the evidence to the courts for prosecution. If someone breaks into your home, you are responsible for protecting yourself, your family, and your property. Who would you rather have better armed? And given the irresponsible behavior of government lately, specifically how they spend our money, there are likely going to be fewer police officers as time goes by.

I mentioned distant threats. Perhaps you are familiar with the events of September 11, 2001? 19 radical Islamists managed to murder nearly 3000 people. That was not the beginning. And there are still unknown numbers of radical Islamists looking to kill everyone who does not believe as they do. In addition our government has borrowed trillions of dollars from the Chinese. Trillions of dollars that we may never be able to repay. It is predictable that at some point the Chinese would come to collect. And when they do, they could outnumber us 100 to 1. And since our government is about to emasculate the military in an attempt to cut federal spending it would fall to the citizens to defend themselves. Who would you have better armed? It seems like a “no brainer” to me.

The most contentious threat is our own government. The very reason that there is the Second Amendment is so that we have the ability to resist an oppressive government. Obviously as a Libertarian I find our government has already crossed my oppression threshold. But it is not politically irreversible... yet. I would submit that the creation of the “hate crime”, the passing of The Patriot Act, and most recently The Affordable Care Act are just a few examples of oppression. The government has again and again weakened The Bill Of Rights over the years. In short I believe that the government that governs least governs best. If the government is unwilling to protect and defend our Constitution then it falls to the citizens to do so. Who would you rather have better armed?

But back to Colorado. I have heard as few (very few) people suggest that if the service men in that theater had been carrying firearms, that the loss of life and injuries could have been reduced. I believe that is probably true. I would go even further. If it was convention that some or many of the people in that theater had been armed, Then perhaps the shooter might have found it a much less attractive target to begin with. I believe in deterrents. But in the end it comes down to this question. When you think about your personal safety and the safety of your loved ones, Who do you trust more? Do you trust the government more? Or do you trust yourself more? Today you still have the right to answer that question for yourself. If the gun control advocates win, you will no longer have that right. Can we live with that. I don't think so.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Poison of Intolerance

I have been blessed as an adult with friends. Something that was nearly impossible for me as a child because of the transient lifestyle of the Army. So when someone I call friend says something hateful and mean spirited, even when it does not concern me directly, I wince a little in pain. When it involves my family, the effect on me is bit more intense.

So recently on Facebook a person I have called friend for some years posted the following:(This is 100% unedited in any way)

So I just learned that Brigham Young, the cellebrated Morman president of the church once said "If a white man mixes his seed with the canaan race, which I guess are black people, it is punnishable by death on the spot and this will always be so"! I have never been found of the Morman faith but I think I will have a closer look see now that one could be the leader of the most powerful nation in history! And I thought forcing 12 year olds to mary geezers with a 10 wives was the worst thing about Mormans...

As many of my friends already know, I am a Non-Denominational Christian Minister. I am not a Mormon. But my father, Major Roy D. Wilson, converted to The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints in the 1980's. Dad was able to find help from the Mormons. They helped to heal the wounds inflicted by the horrors of war. Dad regularly volunteered to work at the Mormon Food Bank in Columbus. When my brother, Randy, passed away, the Mormon Church was there for our family to help with his funeral service. A Mormon Bishop delivered the service. And he consulted with me so that I would be at ease. In short, I have found the Mormons to be faithful, decent people who walk the walk. They are most certainly NOT deserving of the kind of intolerance my friend dished out. I will go one step further and submit that a case could be made that The Mormons have had their 1st Amendment civil rights violated at times. And they have maintained their faith even while capitulating to the unreasonable forces around them.

There are so many religions. There are so many Denominations. Are all Mormons polygamists? No. Are all Catholic Priests pedophiles? No. Are all Evangelical Christians murderers of abortion providing doctors? No. Stereotypes and generalizations are the products of weak and lazy minds. I learned a long time ago that we are all better served by spending time with those of other faiths. We can find the ways that we are more alike than different. We can find ways to tolerate our differences. We can find ways to love each other. The heritage and history of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and all other faiths is truly amazing. As a student I have not even scratched the surface. But I keep reading. What I have discovered is that it is nearly universal that religions are struggling to find the balance between strict scripture and more sophisticated context. Some groups are finding the appropriate balance faster than others. This requires more sensitivity toward others. Learning about others does not challenge the strength of my faith in God. It just enables me to better understand the world around me.

A person's relationship with God is about as personal as it gets. Seeking to convert others is a fool's errand in my opinion. So I don't go down that road. What that requires of me is that I avoid preaching religious doctrine unless I am specifically sought out for that reason. Obviously, I have found times when I have to open my big mouth when I was not asked to. But conversion is not my goal.

I have not yet decided how to speak to my friend about the pain he has brought to my family. Perhaps he will read this and recognize his own hateful words. I believe that he is able to acknowledge the hurtful nature of his words and seek God's forgiveness. He already has mine.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Astronomical Gravity Of Global Climate Change

It is the last day of winter and I heard someone again say one of the most stupid things. He said, “This is the warmest winter in the history of the planet.” Now even if I were willing to accept that this is possible, to make the assertion is ignorant.

Let's start with the data. I think that we can agree that the instrument best used for measuring temperature is the mercury thermometer.. We have other devices we can use today. But in the past the mercury thermometer has been the accepted instrument for collecting this data. And it is still used today with great accuracy. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer in the year 1714. If old Danny had begun the process of scientifically collecting data regarding our planets temperature the same day he invented the instrument, we would have 298 years worth of data. Now call me skeptical but given the relative age of the planet, a 298 year data set seems a might thin. But tropospheric temperature measurements have only been collected since 1978 by The University of Alabama in Huntsville funded by NASA. This is an even thinner data set. I don't care how many letters you have behind your name or how much money you have taken from Albert Gore, Jr. You will not convince me that this is good science. It simply is nothing more than intellectual laziness. But what if in his energy guzzling mansion Albert Gore, Jr. really has a secret time machine? And what if he has been secretly going back in time 65 million years and measuring temperatures.? Nah. I don't think so.

Next let's talk about carbon dioxide. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently designated CO2 as a hazardous material. It has been repeatedly called a “green house gas”. Well the specific gravity of CO2 gas is 1.5189. It is called a GHG because it is asserted that CO2 absorbs and radiates infrared heat. Now I am going back to my military school and civilian high school science classes here. If the spec. grav. of a gas is 1.5189, would not that gas heat and cool more quickly than the atmosphere? Isn't that like the first law of thermodynamics? And then there is this little inconvenience. Carbon Dioxide is our breath exhaled! I am not the kind of person to make editorial comment about anyone's breath, not even morning breath. But I absolutely refuse to refer to your breath or my breath as hazardous waste. That is just mean. But seriously, I just can't find the science to blame pretty puffy clouds of water vapor and human breath for a global temperature change that has not been scientifically measured.

So you ask, “Reverend Father Stephen, is the climate changing?” I answer this way. Yes there are cycles to the climate. And I want to address the Astronomical Gravity of this situation. No seriously I mean Astronomy and Gravity. I have always believed that my faith is not incompatible with science. And this is no exception. I can believe in God and the Big Bang Theory. There has been a spectroscopic “redshift” in the observed galaxies and quasars. So the universe, including our little corner, is in motion and expanding. In the last century NASA made a few trips to our moon. While the astronauts were hanging around up there, they left a few reflectors. We have been able to bounce laser beams off of those reflectors. It seems that since we have been able to do that to measure the distance from the earth to the moon, the moon appears to moving away from us at a rate of about 1 inch per year. It is widely thought amongst the “Copernican wing” of the astronomy community that the moon exerts a stabilizing force on the rotation of the Earth. The earth's rotational axis was about 23 degrees. As the moon has moved away, that 23 degree axis has become less stable and will in time increase and decrease considerably. What effect will this have on the oceans and the atmosphere (particularly the jet stream)? Well we are going to have a front row seat for that one.

But wait, there's more! Have you looked up into the night sky lately? Because if you have it is a real treat. Last night I was showing my family the night sky before the weather got foul. We could clearly see Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and the moon at the same time with the naked eye. But it only happens about every eight years. I think that those planets have gravitational fields. I believe that it is likely that the gravitational field of those planets affect our little earth. If these events and actions can affect the rotational axis of the earth and tides do they affect climate? I think so.

So can we be a little sparing about this “Global Warming” hyperbole. Just wait. The ice age will come back. Chill.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is The Constitution Just An Obstacle To Overcome?

From the left and the right of political philosophy I have heard many say that we are facing the most important election of our lifetime. I am hearing and reading words as angry as I can remember from both sides. I don't like coarse dialogue. But I feel compelled to try to explain my position and at least part of how I got here. And sometimes the difference between the work of the government and the work of faith can be a little coarse. And I am not so sure that I have a problem with that.

 I have been a registered Republican for 36 years. But I really identify more with the Libertarians. And I have not always voted for Republican candidates, especially lately. My Republican congressman was one who voted to “Bail Out” the big banks thus subverting market forces. That shocked and angered me. I have voted against him twice since then. Apparently, my neighbors have not joined me. Then our President Bailed out only 2 large automobile manufacturers. Not only did he subvert market forces, but in the process he also violated more than 2 centuries of contract law and screwed the bond holders and dealers. At the same time he turned a large block of stock in these companies over to organized labor. This does not pass the smell test. I won't get into the corruption right now. What troubles me is this lack of confidence in “market forces”. Market forces demanded a reorganization of the auto companies. A reorganization that would have allowed the companies to emerge stronger and more viable into the future. The problem is that government keeps trying to tweak market forces to fit their socialist utopian agenda or to repay political debts to special interests. And it just doesn't work. And it never will. I direct your attention to the recent layoffs at GM over the Chevy Volt that is not selling very well. They need to either buy into the whole Marx/Engels plan or get government out of the way of building cars that people actually want to buy. You probably already know which way I prefer. The U.S. Constitution does a really good job of telling us what government should and should not do. I see the Constitution as a guiding light to freedom for the whole world to see. Clearly, there are a lot of people that see the Constitution as an obstacle to be overcome. The President of the United States is one of the latter. I even had an intelligent and thoughtful person tell me that he wasn’t worried about the executive branch violating the 10th Amendment. How can you live in America and not fight for the Bill of Rights? Seriously!

 A good friend of mine recently asked, “What happened to the separation of church and state?” JFK stated that the separation should be absolute. I think most would agree that JFK said that for political reasons. But if you agree with President Kennedy, then there is no place for medical services in the Federal Government at all. And that to me is the most elegant solution to the separation vs. Obamacare issue. It is not possible to provide medical care to any one from tax dollars without violating someone else's religious rights guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. So who do we screw over? The Catholics? The Jews? Christian Scientists? You? Me? Who makes that decision? As it stands right now, Obamacare depends on non-elected union shop Federal employees. Right now the Executive Branch of the Federal Government employs about 8.4 million people. I find that number just appalling. If the government followed the Constitution that number could easily be less than half what it is currently.

 For many years I made a living as a musician. I am coming to terms with the idea that it may be impossible for me to do that again. My political and religious philosophy make it very difficult to work with other entertainers. It seems that most of them have socialist sympathies. And while I find their feelings delightful and even admirable in a private civilian setting. When the push is to legislate the more left leaning ideas, we have to part company. Years ago, I had a frightening experience with Musicians Local # 5 while I was a working musician. It suffices to say that I have very little use for any organization that forces your membership with the threat of vandalism and bodily injury. That feels like organized crime to me. I have had similar experiences with the IUE, UAW, AFSCME, and OEA. I have had contact with people who are thugs, bullies, and extortionists. I get more than just a little annoyed at the idea that the government would have these people micromanaging my healthcare, my business contracts, my property, my personal security, and who knows what else. Especially when it is crystal clear that this kind of interference is contrary to the Constitution. Obviously there are enormous programs that are going to be with us for a long time to come. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid can not be eliminated. But they must be reformed. Some plans are out there. But nobody is doing anything. And the United States is 15 trillion dollars in debt. Liberty is in Danger.

 I don't want to force anything on anyone. I believe that one of God's greatest gifts to mankind was “Free Will”. I also believe that to deny any person's free will is to deny God. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” While the Declaration is not law, the Constitution is the law of the land. And the Federal Government is operating beyond its limits. I come very close to worshiping my liberty as an American. And I take very seriously the assault on that liberty. Maybe it is all because I was raised as an Army brat. Maybe it is because I am a minister. I enjoy taking responsibility for myself. I expect other citizens to do the same. In short everyone's deeds have consequences. I would have all people do as they choose as long as their consequences are not another's to deal with. That is what the Constitution guarantees to you and me. If somebody else negotiates a bad deal with their employer, It is not our responsibility. If someone buys a house or a car that they clearly can not afford, it is not our responsibility. If irresponsible parents did not save money for their kids education, it is not our responsibility. Now if, as a minister or layperson, I decide to lead or participate in a VOLUNTARY effort to help, that may be the right thing to do. But to have the Federal Government confiscate treasure from citizens or even worse they borrow it from a foreign nation for this purpose is a crystal clear violation of the Constitution of The United States. I am willing to fight over that. The Government that governs least governs best.