Memorial Day 2013. A Still Small Voice…through the ages

mem 2013

For Memorial Day- A still, small voice

 

         As the media drown us in allegations of malfeasance at Benghazi, IRS overzealousness in scrutinizing the tax deductibility of politically motivated contributions, sequestration, tornado devastated cities and the other traumas faced by so many, I thought today of Elijah the ancient sage who had hid from the king in a cave. The king, threatened by Elijah, would have him killed. Elijah questioned where God had gone, given all the torment the sage faced. Even in his cave refuge, a storm raged, holding him like a captive.

         After many days had passed, the storm died down and an ominous silence took its place. In this silence, the sage sensed the presence of God. In this moment of reflection, touched by God, the sage knew what he must do, so that he could continue in his work. Empowered, he went back to the city where he found strong allies.

Now this imagery of a sage communing with his god thousands of years ago may, admittedly be a tough act for us modern secular types to wrap our minds around. How does one experience this ‘ominous silence.’

         Yet this Memorial Day, another image comes to mind that also illustrates the set of mind I’m talking about. I wonder if this ‘ominous silence’ occurred again after Abraham Lincoln spoke at  Gettysburg.
The War Between the States still raged on when Lincoln had gone to help dedicate the cemetery for the war dead. In November, 1963, letting the south secede, dividing one nation into two, could have become a possibility. In the ultimate ‘political soundbite,’ in a speech a little over two minutes in length,  President Lincoln urged those in the North to press on for Union.

And so, the war continued on for many more months until Robert E Lee at Appomattox urged his troops to return home and accept the peace that was offered them.

         Even today, here and there, this ominous silence is present, touching people, helping pave the way for a commitment to the larger values, whether it is service to a belief or a nation; or both. Something to think about for Memorial Day.

Listen to the Gettysburg address and other documents that made democracy on ‘Those Self Evident Truths,’ a CD produced and presented by Ted Magnuson
400 years of democracy in the making in 72 minutes.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Eternal Vigilance and the Wild Child

What has become of our language? Looking back in history, we find words that ring with Celestial Power. Take for instance ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’ No politician today could get away with such a well coifed phrase.

A great sentiment; ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’  It is often falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

         See how these seven words unfurl a whole raft of associations, meanings and contemplations.

First: Who are these culprits lurking out there ready to rob me/us of my/our liberty; are these enemies of liberty foreign, domestic or both?

What vigilance should I/we exercise? Should preemptive strikes, anti-profiteering precautions, and situation appropriate paranoia be precluded from my/our retinue of responses?

No, I decide as I settle down, as I contemplate the root source of this phrase, the enemy, dear friends lurks closer to home. I refer to (is this too polite a term?) The inner child.

Now perhaps inner child is too polite a term to describe this character. It certainly does no favor to childhood to describe this phenomenon as ‘inner child.’ Could I better call it the id monster, the devil on (my/our) left shoulder or oh; Maybe ‘wild child’ is as good a term as any to describe what I am talking about.

Call it by what name you will, here are some examples of near misses, encounters I have had where had ‘my wild child’ been given free reign, life would not be as rosy for me.

Way back when I got hired for my first professional job, there I sat with the HR man. He was indeed hiring, for not just one, but three positions, one of which was in Portland Oregon, where I now life. At the close of the interview, he said he’d get back to me by Friday. That being Tuesday, when 3:00 PM Thursday afternoon rolled along and I hadn’t heard from the HR guy, I called. His secretary said ‘Plane tickets for that Sunday were sitting on his desk. She suggested I’d best hustle on over and pick them up. If I’d listened to my inner I might still be waiting for that call back, right? Some may think my call back was a no brainer, but believe it or not, some people have a hard time with this lesson; No one will ever take as keen an interest in your career as you do. Always have an action plan; no matter how much confidence your wild child has in the benevolence of the universe, Eternal Vigilance is required if we are to earn a living or enjoy our liberty.

Later in life, my vigilance becomes more keen:

At some point, I left that first job. I had $10,000 sitting in my 401K. It was August 1987. I opened up an IRA and placed a buy order for a stock I liked; Berkshire Hathaway. At the time, the chart said the value of a share bounced between 10,000 and 12,000. But I only had 10. So I placed my order at 9700 so even I could afford it. Wouldn’t you know it, several weeks later black Monday, October 19, 1987 came along. The broker even called me to see if I still wanted him to honor my order? What? Was he allowing me possibility to lower my bid? Had the market gone lower? No. Was it an ‘out’ to cancel my order? How easy it would have been to listen to my wild child and do just that: cancel the order. “No,” I said. “Please execute the order.” That share is worth $120,000 today.

Another example of eternal vigilance, of being alert to the false map of reality, of situations where the wild child could mislead, misrepresent and sabotage our plans.

More recently, OK, it may’ve been 15 years ago, I got a call. “Hello,” the caller said. “I’m not sure if I have the right number. I’m looking for Ted Magnuson, the author.” I hadn’t published anything at the time. Was the caller putting me on? How my wild child preened for repartee. “Is that you Richard? You trying to get a rise out of me?” Or worse; “Yeah, it’s me, I’ve got five freaking books on the New York Times bestseller list. What are you selling?”

But no, thanks to years of adult style disciple, thanks to years of practicing eternal vigilance, I simply said “speaking.”

I got offered to do a book deal.

In these three simple examples, my wild child could have disrupted my life had he been given the run of the place. Am I alone in this? How many of us have a wild child? Worse, how many of us have a wild side and don’t even know it? And so I pose a question to you. When such occasions occur, in our own lives and the lives of those around us, who is in the driver’s seat? The wild child or the director? Oh, the wild child may be entertaining. And yes, they do need their space to romp but when it comes time to do some business; we all need to be alert, we all need to make sure the director is on duty or at least on the scene.

I suspect that were more wild children better educated many of the problems now afflicting the world would be much closer to being solved.

         If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

Ted Magnuson’s audio CD Those Self Evident Truths,’ captures more words that ring with Celestial Power, 1215-1865.

If you See Something, Say Something

In all the coverage of the James Holmes carnage, I keep asking myself; were I in that movie theater…would I have observed this individual, dressed in ballistics, somehow carrying quite a bit of fire power, and gas masks? Would I have considered this suspicious? If so, who would I report my suspicions to? The gangly teenager who collected my ticket at the front door? The short-fused women who sold me my popcorn?

         Is it too early in the news cycle to ask this question? In our sensationalized 24/7 media news cycle we recall Virginia Tech 2007, 32 killed, 17 injured. Or Ft Hood 2009, 13 dead, 30 wounded. Now we add to the list Aurora 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded.

         In the aftermath of the Aurora carnage, we hear of police departments posting officers at places where people congregate. Add to this, fresh reminders of citizen action. Los Angeles and New York have their ‘If you see something, say something’ hotlines…by phone, by text, by email.

         We know the passengers on Flight 93 2001 who wizened to the Al Qaeda operatives, foiled the terrorists’ plans at the cost of their own lives.

         Somehow someway, we all need to step up to the plate, undertake the role of citizenship, observe the scene around us and know how to respond appropriately. If we are to live in a wholesome, healthy world, nothing less will do.

Graphic courtesy of US Army/Europe

Move over teabaggers. Make room for the Espresso Patriots.

TR gave us the Square Deal, FDR the New Deal; OBAMA, give us the Real Deal!
It’s about time our country reinvigorates, revitalizes, revamps Education, Infrastructure,
and the Industrial Government Complex. As Thomas Friedman has titled his new book
“That Used to Be Us.” If you haven’t read this book, please do so.
It can be us again, back in the saddle again, off to reinvent America, and by proxy, the world.
China is sick, Russia is aging, while Muslim reactionaries are getting pinged by Predators, and ST6.
There’s a leadership vacum out there craving to be filled by stalwart sensible Espresso Patriots, teabaggers!
Let me hear an Amen!

What about the North Korean Escapees? How do they cope with the changes in South Korea?

Trouble keeping up with the changes in the modern world?

Take a walk in the shoes of North Koreans who travel south

until they are breathing free.  In the Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2010

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2010/0805/North-Korean-refugees-adapt-to-life-school-and-prejudice-in-South-Korea

The Congressional Investigations: Will honor, integrity and value be consigned to the dustbin of history?

The congressman may grill, embarass and browbeat the CEO’s of Toyota and BP. Will they likewise extract an “I’m sorry it happened” from Goldman Sachs? Hello. What’s the point? Does making the powerful appear powerless appeal to a certain block of voters? While this may be great STYLE; where’s the SUBSTANCE? What about fixing what ails society? What about holding people accountable? Will the $20 Billion in restitution ever be spent? Can the Gulf of Mexico be restored to pre-spill condition (or better)? How long will we live in this netherworld?

While cycnicism (and apathy?) towards these things may be the ‘generally accepted reality measuring principle’ of such things, one can only look back in awe at other times in history when the top 1% of society took too many liberties with the remaining 99%. At such times, when ‘enough was enough,’ true change took place. The signing of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address come to mind. When will we see their ilk again? For those desiring to revisit those acheivements, I’ve compiled ‘Those Self Evident Truths;’ 72 minutes of audio inspiration for your edification. Available through itunes. follow the link above.  Thank you for your support.   

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Some say we’ve outgrown God, Others say We’ve outgrown Technology. What’s up with That?

Old Car

A quick read of any newspaper makes it clear, we are in a brave new world, a world which, judging from the works of Christopher Hitchens, has ‘outgrown’ God. God is not ‘sophisticated enough nor perhaps even intelligent enough to deal with the fast pace, the amoral code of conduct, ad nauseam, etc. Therfore it becomes the duty of believers everywhere to set teh record straight, while there still is some memory of such a record. Humanity has not outgrown God. Now admittedly, the ice gets thin here (climate change)? For while there are those who say we’ve outgrown God, there are some righteous godfaring types who are as quick to say ‘we’ ve outgrown technology.
For instance, if you are following genetic engineering at all, you’ve heard the genes that produce spider’s silk can be grown in a goat teat. The results are a very strong and lightweight  material. A question arise; What would God do? Well, the answer is he’s made man a little lower than the angels and given him a brain in the bargain. Hopefully junior’s brain with the spider silk in the goat’s milk is a brighter idea that Dad’s vision of yanking petrochemicals out of the ground and polluting the earth, air and sea all over the place.  

This strong material is being used for bulletproof vests for the military.  It is also used to make surgical patches and for other uses as well.
While ther are those who see a conflict between technology and God, my only response can be be “If God did not want people to think, God could have saved everyone a whole world of trouble by giving the dominon-over-the-world thing to the ants.
Those kind gentle hearted souls who look askance at technology have my sympathy. I too am often amazed how in the 20oo’s, CEOs made almost 300 times what the average Joe/Joane did. In the 1960’s, the ratio was 10% of that. Be that as it may, technology and the benefits of smarts arent going away anytime soon. Now is no time for the kind-hearted touchy-feely types to turn off on technology. The dynamic between government, industry and the people is a never ending battle- even food, a basic element of life gets caught up in the fray.

Speaking of replacing petrochemicals with organics, the gas and auto industy offers a classic case study in how industry and government have pulled one over on the people . Thanks to consumer activists, we now have (more expensive)safer cars with cleaner emissions. But even now, fuel efficient lags far behind.

Read EcoBarons–most urban areas would have been far better off with mass transit instead of such reliance on the automobile.

What the world needs now more than ever is for industry, government and the people to all meet at the same table and act in the best interests of everyone.

During the American Revolution, the church played a vital role in such a societal transformation…would that it could again.

Christmas at the White House

God is not dead

While it may delight scholars like Christopher Hitchens to throw brickbats at Christmas, some of his information is more a reflection of his agenda then a reflection of mainstream (common) Christian practice.
1) Christmas does not celebrate the birth of a ‘Miraculous Baby.’ It is a celebration of ‘the Godhead appearing in human form.’
2) As a nation founded in large part as a refuge for persecuted Christians, Americans need not look to the Quoran for proof ‘Mary mothered a prophet.’

We read in Luke 1:46-55 where Mary herself says:
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’ RSV

Note also Mary’s commonness. She refers to herself as a ‘lowly handmaiden,’ much as Michelle Obama refers to the White House as ‘the People’s House.’ By all means, the midwinter celebration of common people should be celebrated in the ‘the People’s House.’ It is not an accommodation to the President. Indeed, has there ever been a President of the United States who said ‘God is dead?

Christianity is a religion of the people. It makes no claim to exclusivity. Over the years, as new adherents were welcomed to the faith various trappings have been added to the celebration of Christmas. There were no carols or Christmas trees in Bethlehem in the year ‘0.’ Indeed, there was no year zero. But more on that later. Christmas trees were added by the tribes of Europe as Christianity spread there. Evergreen Trees…Evergreens/Eternal Life/Get it? It is a bit of a reach, I know, but go for it. There is a metaphor in there somewhere that makes a kind of statement on how life goes on, despite famines, wars, crime, the storms of winters and…ad infinitum.
To confront the disasters of life, some people may rely on ego defense mechanisms; others practice faith, such as Christianity preaches.
So; who says when it is Christmas? –I agree completely with Mr. Hitchens and his adherents. No one knows the exact date The Christ was born. According to the Gospel accounts of ‘shepherds in the fields,’ theologian William Barclay speculates it was likely spring–when the shepherds stood guard over the baby lambs. Attacks from predators necessitated the additional protection. This again demonstrates the flexibility of Christianity meeting the needs of common people. The Christmas celebration was established in mid winter as this is a time when people are more often in a more reflective frame of mind, as they tightened their belts, planned their futures and engaged in other such chores as are appropriate to Christmas. In the old days, in the spring, folks were too busy planting crops (and guarding lambs).

We really should explore the question of ‘When is it Christmas’ much deeper? There actually is no year ‘zero. There is only a year 1 BC and a year 1 AD. But no year zero. The Julian Calendar was not even established until 525 AD, about 100 years after the fall of Rome. The concept was simple. Basing our calendar on the birth of Jesus, the eternal king, allowed everyone to use common series of years.

Prior to this uniformity, people might say ‘in the 23rd year of the reign of King John,’ or ‘in the year King Uzziah died.’
I am however, not so rigid a Christian thinker as to NOT believe that at some future time (whether it be 500 or 5,000 years from now) some other Great Event may occur that utterly changes how we common people synchronize our calendars. I will only say this. Whatever that future event might be, it will have to be really BIG to beat Christmas.

Is Genetic Engineering for You?

How will behavior change when our thoughts are no longer our own?

It almost sounds like the Messianic Age is upon us. Bubble Boy Syndrome patients are able to live normal lives. There are blind people in Portugal who can now see, thanks to optic circuit implants. The life spans of laboratory rats is doubling and more. Understanding and mapping the gene strands, as well as advances in nanotechnology is making all this happen. Imagine the implications. The pundits are having a field day. Will the new hegemony of 120-150 year old people be resistant to change, entrenched in the status-quo or will long-range planning now take on new significance since more people will be living to see the consequences of short range planning? For further information check out http://www.morethanhuman.org/

“People who stop learning at 30 are dead. They just haven’t been buried yet.”