Christian Nation?

ThinkerLast year, about this time, the President decided that he would not have a National Day of Prayer observance in the Whitehouse. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Other Presidents, Republican and Democrat, did not do it either. Around that time, he also stated during a press conference in Turkey, a Muslim nation, that Americans do not consider ourselves a Christian nation. In fairness, he went on to say that we also do not consider ourselves a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation, etc. I certainly disagree with that. We are not a country that is ruled under the tenets of a religion as are the Muslim nations for example who are governed under Sharia law, but we are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values. We are a nation that is predominately Christian and try as they may the progressives have not been able to beat that out of us. I believe we are indeed a Christian nation. In God We Trust anyone?

Every politician I have ever observed closely, at some point used faith as a political prop. Rare ones were sincere. The President has proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ as recently as an Easter event at the Whitehouse. I do not want to get into a lengthy tit for tat about whether or not the President is Christian or believes that he is, that is something he will have to resolve before God someday as we all will.

There are some things that do not sit well with me. I try hard to be true to my faith, but like all of us mortals I often come up a little short. The important thing is that I know it when it happens and I try to fix it. There are some things that one simply cannot support and claim Christianity as his or her faith. One of the commandments for Christians is that you shall not commit murder. If you kill an unborn child, in my view, you have committed a murder. The question each of us must deal with is whether there is a difference between actually committing the act or creating and supporting laws that make the act legal in the eyes of men? That is another of those judgment day questions that is going to make it uncomfortable for some of us.

It was interesting that a month after the President decided that there would be no National Prayer day observance at the Whitehouse; he found room on his schedule to host a gay pride event there. Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council had his invitation to speak at a Prayer Day luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base rescinded. Although he was not going to address the subject in his prayer day address, he is a vocal opponent of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Mr. Perkins was a Marine Corps officer. He knows that it would not be correct to address such a political subject as a guest on a military base. Is it coincidence that his invitation was rescinded right after the State of the Union address where the President said he wanted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Arguably the most well known name in the United States of America and possibly the world to Evangelical Christianity is Billy Graham. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues important work around the world led by Franklin Graham. The Pentagon disinvited Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon National Prayer Day observance. What got Franklin Graham disinvited was speaking out against Islam, especially its treatment of women. You should know if you do not, that such a high profile and important Christian leader would not be disinvited from the Pentagon without the knowledge and concurrence of the Whitehouse.

Maybe the President is right. Maybe we are not a Christian Nation – at least in his eyes.

© 2010

Blame Game

ThinkerOne of my mentors when I was a teenaged Army Private was a Puerto Rican First Sergeant named Pedro Olivari. First Sergeant Olivari was nearing the end of a distinguished Army career when I knew him in 1972. His constant companion was a stubby cigar. That was well before the smoking police criminalized smoking indoors. He was a combat veteran of Korea and Vietnam. In Korea he was battlefield commissioned. He achieved the rank of Captain and commanded a company. As the Army often does, or did, following the strength buildup during the Korean War, there was a reduction in force. His Captain rank was not permanent so he was given the option to remain in the Army as an enlisted man, which to the Army’s benefit he did.

In the Army, you are always replacing someone. Sometimes, when things do not go as they should the temptation is to blame whatever the problem is on the guy you replaced. This was one bad habit Top Olivari would call you out on. It was nearly 40 years ago, but I am fairly certain that I first heard this illustrative story from him.

As a First Sergeant was leaving his job, he passed to his replacement 3 letters that were numbered 1, 2 and 3 and sealed in envelopes. He told his replacement if he encountered a problem and it was not going well for him he should open the first letter. It was not long before the new First Sergeant encountered such a problem. One evening while sitting alone and contemplating his problem, he opened and read the first letter. The first letter said blame this problem on the old First Sergeant and if it happens again open the second letter. It was not too long until the need arose to open the second letter. The second letter said blame the problem on the old First Sergeant and if this happens again open the third letter. Blaming it on the old First Sergeant became easier, a habit, so as soon as there was another problem he did not hesitate to open the third letter. The third letter contained a different message. It said write three letters.

Now I don’t know if George Bush left any letters for his replacement, but if he did it must have been a bunch of them.

Class of 2010

ThinkerOnce again this year, I was not asked to give a commencement address, but then again I have never been asked. I have some thoughts for the class of 2010 anyway.

Congratulations on your achievement, albeit a tiny fleck in the great expanse of human history. But this is not about you. It never was about you. It is about things much larger than you or me and much larger than any politician or celebrity.

Most of you have been in a classroom of some sort since you were around 3 years old. Other than life skills taught to you by your parents, which unfortunately are all too often lacking, everything you know and believe was taught to you by a professional academician. Well intentioned professionals most of them, but too many have never ventured far from their classrooms. They explain subjects to you in a way that makes perfect sense. Everything works well as it is laid out in the textbooks and theory, often too well. Mathematics is mathematics. There is only one correct answer. Not so for most every non-scientific subject that comprises most everything else that is taught. The professors you admire are human. Humans tend to glom onto theories and ideas they like and shun that which is counter. Suffice it to say that the possibility is strong that you did not get the high definition, 3D view of what happens after you leave this institution.

Some of you will not have help when you leave here. There is no trust fund and Daddy’s influence will not get you a well paying job for which you are woefully unqualified. You are the lucky ones. The ones who will come to understand what is bigger than you. Reality will be your new professor. Reality does not wax poetically some grand theory on how everything will be just perfect as long as you do as you were taught. No. Reality will humble you. You can cheat it, but not for long. Reality catches up. Reality eventually smacks you right in the mouth and keeps doing it until you are either a defeated bloody pulp of a person or until you learn what is truly bigger than you.

You are the most connected generation ever. It is not possible for an old timer like me to even keep up with all the means by which you connect to the world. What do you do some day when you wake and there is no smart phone, no Internet, no high speed connectivity? I may be going out on limb here, but my guess is that most of you have not penned a handwritten note to anyone since you brought Mom the Mother’s Day card you made for her in second grade. You are so connected to everything that you cannot see anything.

When you look at your cell phone, log on to your personal computer, spend hours surfing the social networking sites, call worldwide on your Internet telephone, or have a nice video chat with friends and family for free, do not think about those things. Think about how those things came about. When you understand what sort of society it takes to produce such miraculous devices and how that society came to be and what holds it up, you will just then begin to understand what it is that is bigger than you. You will just start to understand what you are obligated to protect for everyone who came before you and for all who will follow. Freedom. Freedom to express ideas. Freedom to seek wealth. Freedom to worship. Freedom is a gift to you. You are its guardian.

Finally, you have spent many years in an environment where many educated men and women have actually devoted time arguing that there is nothing beyond this. Mankind somehow happened. You are born. You live. You die. It is done. Nothing follows. What a dark and miserable mindset that must be. If nothing follows this life, what incentive is there to do this part well? There will come a time down reality’s trail that you will need some spiritual medicine, something to soothe a mind that must work hard these fast moving days. You will hear about meditation and new age methods of finding yourself in the universe. Give it a try, but I fear you will be back for the next solution after more bouts with reality. I know. I have traveled that road. Neither man nor method can provide you the inner peace that you seek. Nor can either set you free. In due time, my prayer is that you may know that.

While on your journey, be a good friend, be a good parent, be a good spouse, be a good neighbor, value your God given freedom and value honor. God has blessed you.

© 2010

Land of the Free

ThinkerThe wife and I made a stealth excursion into northern Virginia this past weekend. Purposely, we did not make into the District. Someday we will go back and take the walk through Arlington National Cemetery, across Memorial Bridge, tip our hats to Mister Lincoln, walk along the reflecting pool, past the World War II Monument, up over the knoll by the Washington Monument and stroll on down the mall to the Capitol. We used to make an entire day out of that walk, sometimes stopping off at one of the museums. Despite the political nitwits one might find inside, the stroll up to that grand building is impressive as are all of the monuments and memorials that dot the route. I also jogged through there almost every morning five days a week during the years that I lived on Fort Myer adjacent to Arlington Cemetery. I never grew tired of admiring the capital of the world’s freest country or paying homage to the heroes who rest in Arlington who were and are her guardians. Take your children there and introduce them to their country and her history. You may leave out the part about political nitwits. They will learn about them in due time.

I visited Amsterdam once. The capital of the Netherlands or Holland as it’s more commonly known here. It was in the late 1980’s. Their National Monument, located in Dam Square, is meant to memorialize Dutch citizens who died in WWII. It was not very well kept when I was there. It was littered and there was a stench, a urine stench. Maybe it is cleaned up now. I don’t know because I have never been back and have no plans for another visit. Not far from the square is the Red Light District, complete with prostitutes advertising their wares in large red light lit windows, clubs advertising live sex acts on stage and hashish bars. The Red Light District is the popular Amsterdam tourist attraction. Not the National Monument. I also visited Anne Franke’s house. It was clean outside and there was no crowd waiting to get inside. We took a boat ride through the canals and saw the old and very narrow houses. They were built so narrow because the occupants were once taxed on the width of their dwellings. Please do not share that idea with Washington. Driving through the city and on our way to the countryside, we were hard pressed to see a building that did not have some spray painted graffiti on it. You do not need to take your children there, but maybe you can use it to educate them about a likely product of out of control liberalism.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon when we headed back toward the hills. I have driven much of this country, which is just one benefit of Army life including turning right at Dallas and driving 700 miles to El Paso. I was up to 23 states the last time I surveyed the map. I have seen some incredible landscapes in my travels, from rugged West Texas and New Mexico to Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains and Kentucky’s bluegrass. For me, few of those sites stack up to the drive through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and into the West Virginia hills. It is one of those wow sights every time I make the drive. This is where our nation began and where many battles were fought to free her and to keep her united.

I have also been fortunate in my life to travel in Asia, South Korea particularly. There is some beautiful countryside in the Land of the Morning Calm, but most of her citizens want to live in the middle of jam-packed cities. I have also traveled in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The Bavarian countryside is beautiful. Holland’s tulip fields are a memorable site. The Swiss Alps majestic and breathtaking. As grand as these places were to visit and view, none of them warmed the heart like the green of the Shenandoah Valley and the West Virginia hills.

Home truly is where the heart is and maybe that is why my travels this past weekend seemed a little bit more special. We truly are blessed to live in the land of the free.

I know that we have our wretched places that might rival the scenes I recalled from Amsterdam and as any nation we have our historical warts. But the beauty of our land stands second to none. There is something else much more important that sets us apart from the other countries of the world that I have been fortunate to visit. America radiates Freedom. It is the bright light to the world where generations of Americans have put their lives on the line to preserve the God given freedom, which is our foundation. It is that bright light that attracts the people who risk their lives just to come here and breathe that free air.

Take heed that there is no political class able to transform this land into something other than what it is meant to be. The Land of the Free. The people simply will not allow it. God has blessed America.

© 2010

America is Ours

ThinkerWhere were you in the 60’s? I lived in Chicago from the mid-sixties until 1971. In September 1971, I enlisted into the United States Army. For the benefit of those who might not have lived through that period of our nation’s history, besides getting a haircut, volunteering to serve in the Armed Forces was about the worst decision a young man could make. Or so the popular culture dictated. The heroes of that era made public displays of burning flags, their draft cards and running off to Canada rather than fulfilling their obligations to serve in the military. President Carter later gave them amnesty and welcomed them home with discharges upgraded to honorable for the deserters. Ask John Kerry about the Carter upgraded amnesty discharges. Sadly, however, no one welcomed home the generation of Americans that fought in Vietnam.

The hippies and posers would gather to smoke pot and bad mouth “the man” and his establishment; refer to the police as pigs and to Soldiers as baby killers. My brother was a Soldier in Vietnam. He was no baby killer nor was his many combat brothers in spite of what Genghis John Kerry and his fraudulent band of miscreant hippies might have you believe. I preferred the company of the bleacher bums at Wrigley Field much more than I did the pot haze covered crowds you could find at places like Chicago’s Kinetic Playground. The Kinetic Playground, also once known as the Electric Theater, was located on North Clark Street in the 60’s. It was not the Chicago club that has that name now. I went to an Everly Brothers concert there. That tells you where I fit in. The hippies were more in tune with the drug inspired and ear splitting psychedelic music of the day. Wrigley Field was closer to my view of America. At least things made sense there.

I was 16 years old in 1968. I watched the riots at the Democratic convention on television from a north side apartment. The riots were incited by the Youth International Party, Yippies for short. They were one of the groups involved that grew out of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who were also active in the riots. Members of the Black Panthers and a group called the National Organization to End the Vietnam War were involved too. If you are not familiar with this time and events, do yourself a favor and type Democratic Convention 1968 or Chicago 8 into your favorite Internet search engine. Another offshoot of SDS that you must have heard of by now is the Weather Underground and its most famous and unrepentant Pentagon bomber and Presidential associate, Bill Ayers. Add to this collection of malcontents the lies of a Kennedy sponsored John Kerry and his phony soldiers, the escapades of Jane Fonda including her well photographed visits to North Vietnam and her radio broadcast from Hanoi while Americans were fighting and dying there and you have the complete picture of who these people are. Fonda summed up well their views when she told students at the University of Michigan in 1970, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become Communist.” Then as now, a balanced look from a media comprised of people cut from the same cloth was not likely.

The President is not of this generation, but if you look at who surround him now and have shaped his thinking, it is these people. They are all anti-military people. They are all anti-American in that they oppose free-market capitalism and our constitutional representative republic form of government. Just consider the planned defense cuts, our service members who are facing court martial for “roughing up” a murderer of Americans, the all out assault on the free market and the near total disregard for our constitution.

When I think of these people it is no wonder that I chuckle, although vomit might be a more appropriate response, when I hear a media knucklehead define vocal disagreement with them and this administration as sedition. I hope he knows what he can do with his epiphany he claims to have captured on a napkin.

These people were stopped in the 60’s by people who worked in the factories, served in the Armed Forces and occasionally went to Wrigley Field – people who loved the country. Counter protesters carrying American flags, wearing construction worker helmets and signs declaring America, love it or leave it were not uncommon. They were the Tea Party of the day, although much, much smaller in number.

The difference is that these 1960’s Reds are now running our country. They have temporary custody of the keys to the capital. They occupy every facet of our government and they are going to make the most of it while they are there. Our country will survive them, but only if we peacefully but strongly resist every action and every step taken that moves us even one inch away from our God given freedoms.

Every day they must get the message from us that we love our country as it was founded and if it is socialism or communism they seek try Havana. America is ours. You are welcome to love it. You are free to leave it. You are not allowed to change it.

© 2010

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