In The ACLU We Trust

A fitting blast from the past.  2003 JD’s Bunker.

I find the 10 Commandment debate quite interesting.  As far back as I can recall, they’ve been displayed in my home.  My parents had them displayed prominently.  Seeing them and reading them to some extent was unavoidable during a day’s routine when I was growing up.  Within a few feet of where I now sit pecking out this essay, a plaque containing the Commandments hangs on a wall.  I wonder about why the debate is so great concerning their public display in an Alabama courthouse.  I’m not so sure that this is a debate about the separation of church and state.  This is an area, by all measures, of murky waters in constitutional law.  I’m not a lawyer, however, just as I’m not a theologian so my views on such things come from what life’s lessons have taught me.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. “ – Amendment to Article I of the United States Constitution

I tend to interpret things literally.  This probably comes from many years of being an Army noncommissioned officer and overburdened with piles of regulations on how one should behave and trying to interpret them for daily application.  Even in those times, things were never clear and we tended to interpret the rules so they conformed to our situation and beliefs.  It’s what humans do.  So, as I read the above part of the Constitution, I’m perplexed as to why there is even a debate about the separation of church and state and why there are so many “legal” interpretations on the subject.  If you read this as I read it, then there can be no legal rulings on the Church-State issue because the Constitution prohibits Congress from making any laws regarding religion.  If there can be no laws to interpret, then how can there be judicial decisions made regarding the matter?  That’s a question for you to ponder.  I think however, that there is more to this issue than legal wrangling.

Sometime ago, we had an upheaval of sorts in the Army.  Notable people were doing things they shouldn’t do.  We determined that many of these problems happened because we were losing track of our values.  As the Army is prone to do, we hammered the core values into everyone and reminded them of the importance of the values in what we do each day.  A colleague and I were discussing this matter one day, specifically the Army’s leadership decision to give each soldier a card with the values listed on it and one to place on their identification tag chain.  Some noncommissioned officers were vocally upset that they should have to wear reminders of how one should behave attached to a chain around their necks.  While wondering aloud why this bothered them so much, my friend told me, “It’s the kicked dog that barks the loudest.”  It’s a problem to have a reminder of how one should behave hanging around your neck, especially if how one should behave stands in contradiction to how one actually does behave.  A constant reminder of how one should behave and conduct oneself is a good thing and its value proven so by our Army every day of its existence.

Plenty of organizations have worked over the years to remove any reference to God from our government.  I find that quite interesting for a country with a national motto of “In God We Trust”.  I’m curious, in my typical cynical way however.  Maybe the issue here really isn’t about religion, so much as it’s about what religion (all of them actually) teaches.  And that’s how to behave.  Is there a real Church-state debate here or is it the kicked dog syndrome.  Maybe, some people do not like a daily reminder that they shouldn’t lie, steal, kill, covet, commit adultery and that they should show respect to those who provided them entrance into this world.  That’s six of the Commandments right there.  Surely, these are not what’s causing us problems.  Maybe it’s the others.  Maybe it’s the cursing they like so the Commandment to not take God’s name in vain is the sticking point.  Remember to keep the Sabbath holy.  That means take Sunday off from work and focus yourself spiritually – recharge you batteries.  If we drag this argument out to its logical conclusion, the government will no longer be able to close on Sunday.  Doing so would be obeying a Commandment and therefore violate the separation of Church and State.  We also must remove the God reference from our national motto, our Pledge of Allegiance, the Supreme Court can no longer begin it’s day with God Save the United States and Congress shall not have an opening prayer each day.  To do any of these shows reverence to God, which is the first commandment.  While we’re at it, we’ll also have to do away with our calendar.

One of the accepted definitions of God is a person or thing of supreme value.  All of us have something we worship, maybe it’s self, maybe it’s money and power, but it’s something.  The problem as I see it is that some people do not want the reminder that just maybe there is something out there better than what it is they actually worship.

If you believe there is no God and it turns out that you are right, then you have nothing to be concerned about do you?  When you’re lying on your deathbed, have an ACLU lawyer read some constitutional law or better yet, Supreme Court Decisions over you.

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… – from the Declaration of Independence

The first settlers of our country were fleeing religious persecution.  The founding fathers were very aware of that when they wrote our constitution, which prohibited Congress from making laws establishing a religion or restricting the free practice of it.  The Constitution’s purpose was to protect the Church and the practice of religion from the government not the other way around.

In our country, you are free to be an atheist and to say what it is you like regarding religion.  But as an atheist, you have no more right to stand on your soapbox and publicly declare that there is no God than do I to publicly declare that there is one.  You have no more right to insist that reference to God be removed from our country than I do to insist that it stay.

Is Judge Moore right or wrong, I’m not sure that I or anyone I know can answer that question.  I am certain of one thing, there needs to be a national showdown on this issue, because just as the Army had to revisit its values, our country needs to check it’s declining level of morality.  The 10 Commandments is a real good starting point.  Maybe if we printed them on the back of everyone’s driver’s license…

© 2003 J. D. Pendry

Merry Christmas

It takes me an afternoon to put out the Christmas decorations.  Most of that
time is spent trying to reassemble my made in China sleigh and reindeer set.  I am certain the Chinese laborer who sprayed gold glitter on everything knows he’s getting revenge this time of the year.  I’ve put this thing together enough times that I no longer need the directions.  Or so I convinced myself.  The reindeer assembly is quite simple.  On disassembly, you stuff everything from horns to hooves inside the body cavity.  Once I pulled the reindeer’s head out of his, uh, body cavity it was on.  I attached the head and antlers, but discovered it may have been wiser to attach his legs first, which is what I did for the next one.  One year I did get the antlers on upside down for one of them.  Something I noticed while admiring my work from the living room window.  Although it is only three pieces, the sleigh did not want to cooperate.  The pegs refused to line up with the holes.  Resorting to something I remembered from my Army days, (improvise, adapt and overcome), led me to the zip ties in my tool bucket.  Mission accomplished.

I also have a nativity my brother built.  It consists of four interlocking pieces.  Supposedly.  Every year I find myself wrestling with it until eventually I am pounding it together with my claw hammer.  I do feel some guilt pounding on the truest Christmas symbol, but am able to rationalize that it is just four pieces of plywood.

Then there’s the garland on the porch rail complete with big manly red bows and a wreath in the center.  Household six demands big red bows.  And the gigantic wreath on the door that is practically big enough to be a door itself.

Did I mention lights?  I have reels of them.  Rolls of them.  Tangles of them.  In modern times, I have added some LED lights.  They come in a good sized reel.  Instructions on the reel say you can string 15 if them together.  If I did that, there would be enough lights to reach across my town.  I checked all of the lights.  Then I ran them around the porch, through the garland and over the hill to the nativity.  I don’t put lights on the roof.  The front of the house is too tall for a ladder and although I am youthful for my advanced age I ain’t getting on the roof to string lights.  Besides, these days if I get more than a few feet off the ground my knees get wobbly.  I was once a rock climber. Always maintain three points of contact.  I need six.

Since I live in the land of sometimes you need the generator, I have several miles worth of extension cords.  I have quite a rig.  I plug my timer into the garage outlet, then I plug the power strip into the timer and as many extension cords as I can into the power strip.  The toughest part is trying to hide the orange and yellow lines crisscrossing the yard.  Now I lay no claim to being a Clark Griswold, but I can put a nice Christmassy glow across the cul-de-sac.  I was feeling good until Suzie-Q told me to bring the tree in and put it up and haul out all of the indoor stuff.  So I did it.

When I finished and was looking out the window while contemplating the dosage of ibuprofen I needed, something appeared odd.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something wasn’t right.  On my way into the kitchen, it hit me.  I actually sneaked up on the window and peered around the drapes to confirm that my reindeer were positioned to push the sleigh rather than pull it.  I our modern world, my first thought was to wonder how many neighbors had already posted that on Facebook.   I dashed right out the door and fixed that issue all the while thinking of an expression my Dad liked to share with me from time to time.  “Boy, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too smart.”

From my family to yours, have a blessed Christmas season.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

A Reckoning

If you came of age in the 60’s or early 70’s, you know about bra burning, hippie free love, and the sexual revolution.  America has always had her
radicals, but with outfits like the Weathermen and Students for a Democratic Society that too was on steroids.  Draft dodgers littered college campuses with the ashes of burned draft cards.  Those not well off enough to finagle a draft deferment or a position in a Reserve or National Guard unit ran to Canada only later to be granted amnesty.  In the military, war fighting shifted from the military to the politicians.  The Supreme Court decided that prayer in school was unconstitutional and yet found that women had a constitutional right to kill unborn children.  It was a cultural shift of some magnitude.

It was a time of political activism, anti-war/anti military protestors, draft resisters, the counter-culture hippie revolution, the drug culture, women’s liberation….  The 60s was a Mount Saint Helens, a giant volcanic eruption blasting us toward a societal tipping point. The 60’s – The Shape of Things to Come

In the early 60’s about 90 percent of Americans identified as Christian.  A 2015 Gallup poll showed that it was then around 75 percent.  My personal experiences taught me a much larger gap exists between those claiming Christianity and those actually practicing it.  Other research shows that less than 20 percent of Americans actually attend Sunday Church services.  It simply shows that America and Americans are gradually pulling away from a higher moral authority.  Daily we see the results of that abandonment.

We should not be shocked when people advocate for Socialism, Marxism, and Communism.  We should not be shocked when American flags burn at the feet of people holding a hammer and sickle communist flag.  We should not be shocked at the tsunami of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims coming out of Hollywood and Washington.  We are likely only at the tip of that iceberg.  We should also not be too surprised when such events, depending on the perpetrator, are minimalized in the legacy media.  It is the same media that laughingly mocks Christians, conservatives and anyone not appreciative of those taking a knee at the display of our flag and playing of The Star Spangled Banner.

It is interesting to read about the fall of the Roman Empire.  There are as many reasons offered for the decline as there are PhD’s to argue them.  What runs through all of those educated offerings are mass migration, decline of moral values of the upper classes, and government corruption and political volatility.  Is America embracing the Roman paradigm?

You may be familiar with the writings of Jonathan Kahn.  His latest book is The Paradigm.  In it, he explains historical paradigms dating from Biblical times that we find ourselves repeating.  We make the same mistakes that ended in destruction of ancient societies.  As the layers are stripped away, the depth of our cultural rot is painfully visible.  We are the game pieces in a supernatural battle.  It is a battle where we can see just how far we have fallen – the level of political corruption and moral depravity we are willing to tolerate.  As it is displayed before us to see, it is up to us to break the paradigm or not.

There are plenty of people who will call me nutty – or worse – for thinking the way that I do.  If you hold a Christian worldview you accept that spiritual warfare is real.  Every day, each of us chooses.  Each of us can accept or reject what is presented to us.  We are in a period of reckoning.  The choices we make decide the future of our country and this world.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

Dear America:

As a people and nation, did you forget who you are?  Did you forget how at birth you became the world’s only exceptional nation?  Did you forget that America is an idea more than it is a place?  Did you forget that on this single idea of individual liberty the world’s greatest nation was built?  Did you forget that in the history of the world the very existence of America is indeed a miracle?

You have bought the premise that you are a nation of immigrants and without immigration, there would be no America.  You became a great nation for a single reason.  People, immigrants, came to your shores seeking promised freedom and the opportunity that comes with it.  Immigrants they were but Americans they became when they fully embraced the American idea.  They were the ingredients of the great American melting pot where everyone embraced our birthright of freedom and individual liberty.  They became a nation of Americans.  No one demanded they cast off their heritage or their religious convictions only that they place the American idea first.  It is the only reason you became a great nation and it is the only way you will remain so.

America the idea is exceptional.  It is the only national idea whose cornerstone is individual liberty.  Your land is one of freedom and prosperity.  It is the last hold out for freedom on this planet.  Your demise has seen decades of failure of your education system.  There has been decades of poor political leadership where career politicians replace part time servants of the people who are answerable to the people.  There is selective ignorance of your history and decades of general apathy of the American public.  Whatever the cause, it has been decades in the making and without course corrections the United States of America will cease to exist in its present form.  What you will leave to your children and grandchildren will be a Balkanized third world mess.

Your path is set in a direction destined to eradicate the American idea.  You began by moving God out of your public life even though “In God We Trust” remains your national motto.  You continued self-destruction when people whose roots extend to generations of natural born Americans began to add hyphenated identities placing America second.  From where your ancestors hailed became more important than the American idea that brought most of them here.  Many of your immigrants, legal and illegal, insist on holding on to the identity and culture of the failed states they fled rather than embracing the American idea.  Multiculturalism is wonderful, right up to the point where it insists the distinctive American culture of individual liberty and self-reliance rather than reliance on government should be pushed aside.  Remain on your current path and your destiny is an unidentifiable place of multiple identities and multiple cultures each competing for superiority rather than embracing Americanism.  America will cease to exist.  You will become Balkanized with each little group or culture vying for superiority.  Do you want to know how that turns out?  Revisit ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian war.  Look hard across the Middle East where different groups are killing one another every single day.

“The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of it continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.” Theodore Roosevelt, January 1919

In America, you can be still what you want to be although it is not as easy as it once was.  If there is not an awakening with acceptance that all else is secondary to the miracle of the American idea then America the place will end.  Throughout history your role has been as a beacon of freedom to the unfree world.  That beacon is beginning to dim.  When it is finally snuffed, the world will become cold, dark and unwelcoming place.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

Honoring Those Who Served

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United  States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe, Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day.  On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.  I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.  – The first Veteran’s Day Proclamation

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. – Veterans Day History – www.va.gov

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies blow
In Flanders fields.

What did you do today?

What did you do today, my friend,
from morning until night?
How many times did you complain
the rationing was too tight?
When are you going to do
all those things you say?
A soldier would like to know, my friend
What did you do today?

No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land is an eerie sight
At early dawn in the pale light…
And never a living soul walks there
To taste the fresh of the morning air;
Only some clumps of rotting clay,
That were friends or foemen yesterday.

Field of Heroes

At my back is the colonnade of the Mansion Lee,
Sprawling before me, a free nation’s capital I see.
Just below this dwelling high,
Beneath an eternal flame a president and his family lie.
It’s a fitting place for a president to be,
Surrounded by the hero spirits of the free.

The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced his God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining bright
Just as brightly as his brass
“Step forward now, soldier,
How shall I deal with you?”

Please take the time to honor those who so faithfully served this great and free country.  May God bless them and their families.  May God continue to bless our country.

Add a Veteran’s name to this post and share.  There are so many who have never been thanked and told how important their service is to all of us.

Honoring:

Seaman First Class Hudson Grey Pendry, U.S. Navy
January 18, 1918 – October 15, 1994
World War II

Sergeant Jerry Wayne Pendry, U.S. Army
December 14, 1947 – June 12, 2015
Vietnam