Yes, it’s true. Time Change Sunday caught me prepared for a change…don’t everybody fall over dead at once, now. Instead of feeling dead to the world, tired, and ready for a good night’s sleep, I’m wide awake and suffering a mild case of insomnia. 😛
So, not wanting this time to be a complete waste I hop on the ‘net and find…..
In honor of Senator Rand Paul (and his recent filibuster), here is an incredibly relevant poem that is a prayer for men who aren’t afraid to lead. There are several lines that stood out to me as readily observable characteristics of this man among boys in Washington, but I will leave the entire poem in original form, invite you to read it (it’s quite brief), and then comment and tell me which lines you saw that reminded you of something about this statesman.
God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;
Men who the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
— Josiah Gilbert Holland
Brief, but powerful–and laden with commentary on our day, even though it was written over a hundred years ago.
Do you see any characteristics of Senator Rand Paul in this poem? Do you disagree with my classification of him as a statesman?
The following is not based on a real conversation….it’s what I’d like to say to President Obama, based on his executive order to “establish a meaningful national dialogue on the subject of gun control” or however he worded the item on his Imperial To-Do List. Picture if you will the President listening–actually listening–to what I have to say. Unfortunately, that probably never will happen; but, I can dream, can’t I?
Mr. President, we need to talk. No, really….please hear me out. Using your State of the Union Address as a platform for demagoguery, you declared that the families of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, Tuscon, and etc. deserve a vote. You also mentioned former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, stating that she too, deserves a vote.
Don’t quite recall that? It’s on camera, you saying all this in front of God and everybody:
Mr. President, let’s look at this for a moment.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford is a US citizen. So, too, are the parents of the children from Newtown. That means that they HAVE a vote, which they are free to exercise in this nation. Did they vote? Did they exercise their right to elect a representative that stands for the things in which they believe? Or are they waiting for you to use the bully pulpit of the White House to ram some monster, unconstitutional bill through Congress and down the throats of those who disagree? This isn’t an accusation or projection…I’m just inferring what will probably happen, based on past experience and observation.
The families of those killed in the shootings in Oak Creek, Tuscon, Aurora, etc., are US citizens, and they HAVE a vote. Have they exercised their right to vote? If not, why are they complaining? Yes, it’s tragic that this happened, but let’s not make the mistake of letting emotion interfere with meaningful action. As it stands, your attitude toward guns, your visceral despisement of these vicious assault weapons are setting this nation up for some very foolish choices.
Your policies, darling bosom friends that they are to you, are the reason that these shootings are happening. Yes, even a cursory examination of the objective studies on this issue will reveal that gun-free zones–and stand by for this….don’t prevent gun crimes. In fact, they dramatically enhance the possibility of those within this “safe zone” becoming victims to the next homicidal maniac with a firearm.
To add to that objective fact, the citizens of Newtown have ratified new legislation that makes provision for two school resource officers, one armed and one unarmed, to be on the campus of every school in town. This new legislation simply extends the protection that was already in place at the local high schools to include all schools. This, then, indicates the will of the people of this jurisdiction, and should not be overturned in your usual imperious manner.
Do some disagree with this approach? Fine….it’s still a free country, Mr. President. They are more than welcome to “vote with their feet,” in the popular phrase of the day. Let them move to your old neighborhood, which features both gun laws among the strictest in the nation, and an unparalleled homicide rate. Incidentally, do you suppose that one factor there does not affect the other? Surely you’re smarter than to think that….
Across the nation, communities, cities, counties are not waiting for your top-down edict on how to handle the current “gun crisis (falsely so-called, I add).” They are quietly, efficiently taking action at the local level to implement laws and regulations that they believe will best serve the interests of the community in which they live, and protect the ones they love. They have voted, used the legislative process, and decently and in order instituted new legislation to further their desired end. It would be unwise (and extremely petty) for you to overturn this by top-down, gangster-style government overreach. This isn’t Chicago, after all.
In short, Newtown doesn’t deserve a vote anymore. Your speech’s tendentious argument on this point indicates the premise is founded on dated information. You really should talk to those folks in WHCA, Mr. President….they’re not keeping you current.
You should have listened during that meeting, Mr. President. Newtown has already TAKEN a vote.
[Owning] A smoking gun could be as bad for your social image as a smoking cigarette, if liberals have their way.
The Christian Science Monitor, the far-out publication of the Christian Scientists, has muddled the facts once again on an important cultural issue. The magazine, which recently classed Palestinian-funded terrorist attacks against Israel as “military action,” now insists that the way to curb gun violence is a public perception campaign designed to stigmatize gun ownership, much akin to the campaign that successfully stigmatized smoking.
Recent surveys, however, may indicate that such attempts are doomed to dismal failure. According to Dr. Rob Spurgeon, holder of the chair of Aristotelian Professor of Logic and Co-chair of the Department of Farming (yes, really) at Real Life University in Western North Carolina, gun owners belong to the group of people who still evaluate any line of reasoning according to the logical merits of its arguments, rather than its emotional impact. “Those who advocate this line of reasoning aren’t thinking clearly,” Dr. Spurgeon explains. “The gun owners the progressives seek to embarrass about their guns are much more emotionally robust than their liberal counterparts. What the stigmatizers fail to admit is that many of those same gun owners are employed in professions that bring them face to face with the harsh realities of real life and the real world.
“Not every animal that is born on the farm lives to see the next spring,” Spurgeon continues. “There are many factors that contribute to a high mortality rate among the animal population of the average agrarian establishment: storm, disease, fire, predators, and yes, some of them are slated to give up their lives to feed the humans that maintain the grange.” But what does this have to do with the argument he posits against a “public shaming” campaign targeting gun owners? He explains:
“Because of the high investment in the animals in terms of time, an unavoidable emotional attachment will form as a result. Furthermore, a farmer’s great compassion for animals–despite the stereotype to the contrary–gives him a desire to see all prosper under his care. He is not overly concerned with his animals’ comfort, but neither does he neglect them. Instead, he looks most solicitously after them, for their well-being is directly tied to his own success. Thus the death of a six-week-old lamb due to complications of pneumonia is not an event which takes place in a vacuum. Unlike city-dwellers, whose primary concern is that the animals from whom the meat they purchase derives did not suffer during the ‘manufacturing’ process, these folks have deep ties to their animals. When one dies, it’s a very real and significant event in the lives of its caretakers. However, the real world dictates that the farmer–after an appropriate interval–must dry his tears, bury the dead, and get back to work.”
Nor is farming the only profession which requires a realistic, grin-and-go-on mentality. Dr. David Crain, Sr., Vice Chancellor of Real-Life University, explains:
Our student body is unique. It’s diverse. There are many different backgrounds and origins represented. Many of our students are preparing for careers in business. Some spend their time volunteering in various non-profit organizations. Others feel the call to full-time vocational ministry. Whatever the course of study in which a student is enrolled, the core curriculum is the same…
We don’t discriminate, but we don’t worry about active recruiting (affirmative action) procedures either. We believe that the students who desire to study here will come of their own volition. If they don’t want to be here, telling them how great our campus is won’t change their mind, and neither will our curriculum. Does this mean that we don’t promote the University when people ask? Certainly not! That’s half of the mission of RLU…to engage with the culture and convince others of the truth of our beliefs and practices.
Basic Economics, Politics 101, Public Speaking, English Grammar, Critical Thinking, Logic, and The Fine Art of Growing Thick Skin are courses that are non-negotiable. Here at RLU, we believe that if our graduates are to succeed, then they must learn and apply to their everyday lives the principles imparted by the dedicated staff in these departments. Our purpose is not to educate people into uselessness, but to educate them in useful disciplines that will make them profitable citizens, informed voters, critical thinkers, rational parents, and stable adults…
Dr. Crain founded Real Life University in early 1997, at the time that his oldest son, David Crain, Jr. was in the 7th grade. “I knew,” he later reminisced, “that I didn’t want my boys going out into the world without understanding where the progressive professors in the state-run education system got their ideas, and how patently false the assumptions behind accepted modern thought really are.”
Operating on a shoe-string budget, and in spite of overwhelming disapproval from his peers, Dr. Crain hand-selected his own textbooks, supplemental reading, and spent countless hours writing and re-writing tests, quizzes, and course notes, many of which are still used today in the core classes at RLU. “Despite the many hours of sleep I lost,” he said in a recent interview, “the ultimate reward was in seeing my boys grow up to be clear-eyed, level-headed thinkers who, actively refusing to imbibe the pleasant (but mind-numbing) wine of progressive socialism, entered into debate with those who espoused the progressive worldview. Above all, it was a joy to see them do so–not arrogantly–but fearlessly, regardless of the academic or political stature of their opponent.”
On hunting down one of these boys, we found young Mr. Crain, a lanky six-footer with a ready grin and a shock of curly brown hair, to be as ready a commentator as his father. He took a full two hours in the middle of mowing a pasture to answer our questions and talk politics. Wearing faded Wranglers that were dark stonewashed when new, a Ford ball cap, and a plaid flannel shirt, he jumps off the tractor and grips the author’s hand like a steel trap gripping a coyote’s paw.
“I grew up on the farm, and it’s easy to forget that not everybody shakes hands with country folk everyday,” he offers apologetically as Scribens rubs his tingling digits. A clear speaker, his voice is nevertheless tinged with an authentic Southern burr that softens the pronunciation of some words. His years of public speaking experience are evidenced by the overemphasis of certain syllables when he’s making a point, however.
“I loved living out in the country…still do,” he continued in our January 24th interview. “There’s an atmosphere of peace and safety that’s refreshing and comforting, and I’ve yet to be in a city where that same sense of security prevails. Of course, there are things that happen out here from time to time in the way of crime, but nothing like the big cities where people are stacked up in cracker-box penthouses and apartments. Out here, there’s a little more space between houses, and people are more relaxed.”
Broach the subject of politics as it relates to logical thought, and you’ll get a glimpse of what makes this young man tick. He sits up a little straighter, his voice grows a little stronger, and his eyes gleam, not with the wild light of the lunatic but the passion of an to informed man eager to guide others on the road to truth.
“Eisenhower said it, and he said it well: ‘Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.’ Granted, he was talking specifically about the military-industrial complex, but America has ignored the deeper and broader implications to her own peril.
“We live in a nation today that is convinced that truth is something that can only be obtained by a renunciation of all that has gone before, and a disinterested search through the uncharted wilds of the relativistic ether for an equally elusive concept of relevant truth for this postmodern world,” he elucidates. “The classic interpretation of truth as objective and relevant to all ages is a concept that is no longer embraced by the culturally enlightened. Objective truth has gone the way of the dinosaur, and they hope it stays there. But only by a return to this paradigm, now a pariah in the very society that gave it its greatest expression, can we hope to turn this country back to its founding principles and documents.”
At this point I mentioned the Christian Science Monitor article, and asked him what he thought of the suggested “public perception” campaign to “stigmatize gun ownership.”
He laughed. “You’re kidding, right?” Then his grin disappeared and he looked thoughtful. “It’s going to take a lot more than that, quite honestly. I mean, they compare it to smoking, but that’s just foolish. Do I agree with the stigmatization of smoking and smokers? No. I believe there’s enough evidence to convince people of the harmful effects of smoking. I have personal reasons for abstaining that include (but are not limited to) the health concerns, but I don’t believe that the government should tell anyone: ‘Thou shalt not smoke,’ or, ‘Thou shalt smoke only here, and only under these circumstances.'”
“Before you stone me as being anti-health, stop and think about it for a moment. How consistent would it be for me to lobby for the government to restrict the choice of some folks to engage in activities that I don’t like, but don’t necessarily harm others, and then scream when those same people use that same government to take away certain of my rights with which they do not agree?”
“Now, I’m not equating smoking to bearing arms as a right; I’m just drawing a parallel. A much more equal comparison would be between free speech and bearing arms; or between right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure and bearing arms. These are all rights as granted by the Constitution and the Amendments thereof, and they are not, as the Second Amendment states, to be infringed.”
“So do I think the progressives will be successful in their campaign to stigmatize guns? No, I don’t. The people they seek to bully into cowering submission are largely well-educated, familiar with real life, accustomed to hardship, and are pretty set in their convictions on these matters. They’re not doing something that is harmful to their health, something that they took up years ago because everybody thought it was cool…that’s what smoking is for many people. But gun ownership is different, and ingrained in the DNA of every conservative father is the drive to pass on the safe use of, and love for, guns.”
“Despite any attempts to stigmatize the owners, guns are part of the American way of life. Their ownership is protected by our Constitution, their safe and responsible use is encouraged by countless thousands of conservative parents, and their presence–in the hands of well-trained civilians who know where and how to use them–is part of the reason my home town has a relatively low crime rate. Yes, evil men use them to commit evil deeds…but good men use them just as often to prevent evil deeds. In a gun-crime situation, the problem isn’t the gun…it’s the man behind the gun.”
“That’s the central message behind our stance on weapons and the Second Amendment.”
Text for this article is taken from interviews with the gentlemen listed and is the proprietary intellectual property of Excogitatoris Scribens™.
In a country that is metaphorical, yet more real than you’d like to think, is a valley. At one end stands a precipitous cliff. A small town nestles near its foot, and its residents often walk along the top of said cliff. The question is: which is the wiser choice? Should they fence the cliff? Or put an ambulance in the valley?
I found this old gem of a poem in a book of poems entitled Best Loved Poems of the American People. Although at first glance it may seem like just a humorous poem about a fictional valley and the cliff above it, I think of it as a metaphor from which we can glean very real and practical truths.
Incidentally (shout out to Jeff Rutherford of Necessary and Proper Government), this is a great jumping-off point to an explanation of how I got where I am, politically speaking. 🙂
So enjoy, if you will, the poem entitled A Fence or an Ambulance, by Joseph Malins. (Written in 1895.)
‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, “Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who had slipped over that dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.
“For the cliff is all right, if you’re careful,” they said,
“And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much,
As the shock down beloww when they’re stopping.”
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would these rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked: “It’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results that to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief,” cried he,
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence we might also dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
“Oh, he’s a fanatic,” the others rejoined,
“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He’d dispense with all charities, too, if he could;
No! No! We’ll support them forever.
Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,
While the ambulance works in the valley?”
But a sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense and put up a stout fence
On the cliff than hangs over the valley.
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling,
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ‘tis best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
Although this is not part of my ongoing series on meditation, it is indeed something to think about.
Riding through town, watching the traffic lights turn from red to green. Walking into store after store, striding past throngs of people, noting the expressions on their faces. Some happy. Some sad. Some harried. Some perturbed. All hurried.
It’s Christmas time.
Driving down Main Street, the older part of town, seeing all the shops closed. Lights are off, doors are locked, and only the traffic lights are working the holiday. Even the police and fire stations are quieter than normal. On the front lawn of the police station, a sign wishes all passersby, “Merry Christmas!” No one objects.
It’s Christmas time.
Tomorrow, the children will be up early at the Crain household. Have you ever known a child to sleep past seven AM on Christmas morning? 😉 They’ll tumble down the stairs, pell-mell, intent on reaching the stockings stacked along the steps. We always open our stocking presents first thing in the morning, and then open our other presents later, after breakfast and other traditional happenings.
One of our family’s traditions is apricot braid bread, made from scratch, rolled, shaped, braided, baked, and glazed by my dad and sister. When it’s finally ready, we all pull up to the table and set to with a good will. After demolishing two large loaves of the wonderful Christmastime treat, we all gather in the living room.
Perhaps my favorite tradition is the reading of the First Christmas Story from Luke chapter 2. All the kids, Mom, and Grandma sit in the large great room and listen as Dad reads the sacred text in his rich baritone voice. I’ve always loved reading, but I particularly enjoy hearing a good reader read aloud. There’s something magical about the cadence of a well-constructed story being read aloud, and this account is one of the best-written true stories I’ve ever read. Instantly, I’m carried back to the rocky traces of Galilee and Judea, seeing in my mind’s eye the couple making their weary way toward Bethlehem. I see the crowded streets, the bustling crowds of census observers, the packed inns and hotels. I see Joseph asking at hostel after hostel for lodging, a corner for he and his weary wife. Innkeeper after innkeeper turns him away altogether. Finally, perhaps at the last hotel in town, the innkeeper offers the stable. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing…
They turn the weary donkey toward the stable.
There, in the comfortably warm atmosphere of a cattle stall, the most important baby ever born comes into the world. His mother wraps him in swathing bands and places him in a manger full of hay. A brightly-robed angel brings the news to a group of shepherds outside the town that a special child has been born. Overhead, a bright new star shines; and, a thousand miles away, wise men notice this star and set out to seek the one of whose birth it speaks.
It’s Christmas time!
Tomorrow, the stores will be open again. People will be in Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and countless other places, standing in long lines to exchange the things they got but didn’t want for the things they wanted but didn’t get. Workplaces will be open again, and those who have not taken vacation time will be back in the ranks, working hard to make a living and get ahead. Christmas will be forgotten…or will it?
I didn’t remember Christmas being right after Halloween! Yet, when I look around, I see stores taking down their Halloween decorations and breaking out the snowmen, reindeer, Santa Clauses, and elves. Setting aside for a moment this perversion of the real reason for the Christmas season, I’m concerned by this slide from one pagan observance to another. In addition to the distraction from the true meaning of the first Christmas, it completely ignores one of the few truly American holidays: Thanksgiving.
In this materialistic society in which we live, the nationwide trend is to forget those things that we have in the pursuit of something new that we desire. The only time we are supposed to remember those things we have is when they can serve as a means to an end; namely, to acquire something new!
The truth is, American Christians have become as caught up in this pursuit of material wealth as those who do not know Christ. As America has grown more prosperous, some have begun to preach that trusting Christ as your savior will automatically give you a better life…materially speaking. While it is true that receiving Christ will give you a better life spiritually, it is also true that God does not remove the consequences of every choice from your life. What does this mean? It means that your physical life may not improve as much as you think it should, just because you’ve joined the family of God.
Now, are material goods evil? No…but then, neither are they good. Even money is not innately evil, as it would seem that some believe. What is evil, the Scripture tells us, is the love of money. This is an important concept to grasp, because it flies in the face of the belief that all rich people are evil. Did some who are rich acquire their wealth by shady practices and unethical methods? Sure…but then again, some did not. The key, the Scripture tells us, is to be content with what the Lord has given you.
So what is Thanksgiving all about? Ask a group of ten youngsters, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. “Food!” hollers a five-year-old boy. “Football!” shouts a ten-year-old. “Family reunions,” grumbles a thirteen-year-old. Everyone chimes in with their view of what Thanksgiving is really about, but only a few, perhaps none of them, will give the real purpose: Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God for His abundant provision.
Here is where contentment enters the equation. Many people, when confronted with this simple definition of the meaning of Thanksgiving, display an overt feeling of revulsion and protest, “But what do I have to be thankful for?”
Have you so totally surrendered your sense of gratitude and contentment to the inane race for more stuff that you can’t stop for even one minute to contemplate something for which you can be thankful?
Have you so forgotten the blessing of freedom that you can stand on American soil and complain that you have nothing for which to be thankful? Have you so ignored the sacrifice of countless men and women in uniform, some of whom are still serving to protect your right to forget, that you can’t spare one moment to be thankful?
Have you grown so used to eating three square meals a day that you have forgotten that millions are lucky to have even one? Have you become so accustomed to lying down at night and sleeping in perfect safety that you have forgotten that there are thousands, some in this country, who do not have that luxury?
Have you forgotten that there are those who cannot afford to purchase new shoes every year? Or who go without because they cannot afford them at all? Have you forgotten that there are many who lack basic necessities of clothing, while you gripe about your closet full of nice clothes, just because you’ve “worn everything at least once.” Really?
Have you forgotten what it means to be cold? Have you spent your entire life in climate-controlled environments to an extent that you forget that the actual climate does have some pretty uncomfortable extremes?
Have we as a nation become so used to having our every wish instantly gratified that we have had our consciences seared to an extent where we no longer appreciate the little things?
When I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to indulge my every whim, and they required me to maintain a good attitude and acceptable demeanor nonetheless. At the time, I thought they were mean. Now that I’ve grown older, I understand that they were teaching me to accept the reality that no, you don’t always get everything you want…but you should be thankful anyway.
Thanksgiving is next week…for what will you be thankful?