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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Augustines Day

August 24. Happy St. Augustine's Day. (well I hope that's today and I didn't mess this up like Bachmann did Elvis What's his name)

Steve and I were listening to a very Christian-on-his-sleeves Republican the other day. He leaned over to me and said, "You know if God's not a Republican, we are in deep trouble OR we only get in by grace." But then after a pause, he noted, " But then God said, 'by the sweat of your brow, you shall work all the days of your life,' didn't he? That's not a very Democrat thing to say." Maybe God is an Independent that leans Republican most of the time.

That said, here are some of my favorite Augustine quotes. These are 1600+ years old. As fresh today as in 385 AD. And a bit of comment on government and God by yours truly.
There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future. And from this we deduce that no government should stand in the way of an individual's future with his God; yet there is no favoritism of rulers to live above the law. And in humility we elect our leaders.
If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself. (which I think defines humanism) Because the central message of the Gospel is God's salvation and grace, He turns out to be the boss, even if you can't figure out his mystery or don't like his words.
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee. Which says that our society, our careers, our mission in life is about a lot more than making money. A lot of the dissatisfaction of those who have no faith is due to the fact that they try to fill up their lives with $$$.
Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all. And thus our government is under, not over, the Supreme Being and those He claims as His Children. Rights come from the Higher Power and are inalienable.
In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love. So if your secular liberal friend scoffs at Life and Liberty...
Love God and do what you like. We are called to a special purpose by God. If we value Him above all, we can be truly free. Government doesn't grant freedom, He does.
In my deepest wound I saw Your Glory and it dazzled me. Only once we see our inadequacy and desperation, can we see the stunning surprize of His undeserved kindness. And what does He consider His greatest glory? That he sought us out and saved us. Is. 43:1-11. And He does that for nations too.
If you understood Him, it would not be God. Those who consider science or politics their god have a really small god.
It is not that we keep His commandments first and that then He loves but that He loves us and then we keep His commandments. This that grace which is revealed to the humble but hidden from the proud. And maybe why the secularists hate the mere display of the 10 commandments.
Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Everybody thinks this comes from Shakespeare, but he was quoting Augustine. Since our real home is not of this world, we can plunge into life, risking considerably working with gusto. Try to top that, ye dictators and leftists.
Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you. Because it does depend on God who works through us. Eph. 2:10
For no one should consider anything his own, except perhaps a lie, since all truth is from Him who said, "I am the Truth." So much for the lousy modernist thinking of relative truth.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


With temperatures from 104-112, we have been sweating our way through two remodelings and needed a break. So I suggested we take the back roads to Coffeyville just to see the country. We found the most amazing antique shop/restaurant/western clothing/ junk shop on the outskirts of Tyro. Coffeyville looks really tired these days. It was discouraging. They had a downtown renewal going with high hopes 25 years ago but now that is in struggling condition. But mostly we love seeing the country.

While at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, I noticed that they are still selling copies of Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas?". It is a political book and I like to read both conservative and liberal ideas. This one won rave reviews by the New York Times and I decided on that basis to get a copy. The guy is a native Kansas Citian who, unlike most Dems around this area, is not the least bit moderate. He begins with a chapter on Emporia. He said the town has gone downhill and all the businesses are boarded up and it has lost population. It was so alarming, that I was reading excerpts to Miss Shirley who was also expressing her shocked alarm at the text. It made us jump in the car and head to Emporia by the back roads to see what had happened. You see, I grew up 35 miles from Emporia and went shopping there every two weeks for the first 30 years of my life. And she got her master's degree in library science there.

What we found was Not Much Had Changed. The town wasn't doing any big growth like Manhattan or Stillwater or Edmond. But it was hanging in there. Downtown wasn't dying. Businesses hadn't been boarded up. We laughed all the way home about how this ninny had hoodwinked us in his book. So I began to read farther and he covered other cities, the booming Garden City whose meat packing industry has fueled growth, Kansas City, KS which has become the distribution center for the center of America and is booming as well. The Johnson county suburb of Olathe has gone from about 10,000 when I was in high school to 217,000 today.

Frank hates it vicerally. Garden City exploits hispanics. Hey! I said, my best Mex workers in our hotel were all from Garden City. One woman told about their sad life in Chihuahua, got the opportunity to legally emigrate through Catholic Church and her dad is now supervisor at a plant. Frank Really hates KC. His dad owned a humble ranch house in Overland Park, one of the richest suburbs in USA. The mansions went up around poor old papa Frank and he loathed them all. Finally he sold out at a king's ransom and the ranch house was torn down the day they signed the papers. Frank calls KC 'cupcakeland' because so many malls and chain stores have established themselves. Hunh? Doesn't that happen in all urban areas? Not by Frank's utopian vision. He wants the inner city to move out from downtown complete with graffitti artists and night life. And as for small town Americans, he wants them storm the Bastille, that is the local bankers house and come out with heads carried on pikes. At the least he doesn't understand why rural USA doesn't join the gravy train of government programs and is ticked because farmers no longer vote for the party of FDR. Whatever happened to Eugene Debs and his socialists? Whatever happened to radical farmers and Mary Yellin' of the Grange?

What amazes me more than the fibs he tells about Kansas is that he gets away with telling this to a gullible secular progressive Eastern media. The Times ate it up, thinking his book profound and captivating. It made me laugh and shake my head in wonder. And by the way, Bluestem farm and ranch supply is still there in Emporia. So is Kansas State Teachers College.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


In the past few years, there has been so much cross-fertilization of Christian churches and that really warms my heart. Our Young Families class has lots of stories about friends and family who have been part of this. Many young people today marry someone from another background and have to find a Christian home at some new church. This week we were discussing Catholicism and it jogged my memory of a most amazing pastor and his congregation.

About 1983 (?) my Protestant denomination began a bi-annual event called the Great Commission Convocation and I was one of the attendees at the original convocation in St.Louis. The speaker who stole the show wasn't one of the leaders. It was a 20-something pastor from Corpus Christi. He was a Minnesota Swede who got assigned to Corpus Christi because he had taken high school Spanish. His church had about 20 members. It was a run-down building and when he got there, a hurricane had blown half the roof off. Church members were talking about closing down the whole enchilada. He told about how hard he prayed for that church. Sitting in his motel room he said he learned what G. K. Chesterton had said about how the army of God is a strange army which advances on it's knees.

By and by he found a group of Mexican guys who would do the roof cheap. As work progressed, he visited with them and discovered they were not regular church guys, Christmas and Easter attendees of the Catholic parish. What excuse? They hated the English services which they couldn't understand. As a lark, he told them he would do his service in both English and Spanish, thereby teaching them English if they would come. At the promise of learning better English, they thought this was a can't-lose proposition. Nobody in those days had given much thought to Hispanic ministeries.

So the Mex guys came and they loved it. And they began to tell friends. In three years the tiny church had grown to 1000 people, almost entirely Hispanics. He had 3 services now, Spanish, Spanglish and English. And he talked about some unorthodox ways he did things. When he told about how they had a rule that anyone who held office in this church had to attend a Bible Study that met minimum once a week, the crowd of convocation-goers was shocked. An elderly pastor held up his hand, "How do you get 'em to do that?" The MN Swede said, "I just tell them, if you didn't want to study the Bible, you could have just stayed Catholic." Did they have dissension? Not much, he noted. To which a Hispanic person in the crowd who knew Latin tempers asked disbelievingly, "How can you say that?"

Well, he noted, when they started, they had Catholic traditions in mind. So they would come to him with questions, "Do women need to wear chapel scarves? Do we need to fast on some days?" But he knew that a successful Christian, a successful church, needs to keep it's focus on Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him. But he didn't know the Spanish word for "It doesn't matter." So he taught them the Greek word "adiaphora" which loosely translated means "free choice". And it is really funny, he added, to see a bunch of Mex guys going around saying Adiaphora all the time. It has replaced "munyana" as the favorite word. An argument will erupt and then some guy throws up his hands and says, "Adiaphora!" Everyone grins and all is well, grace is in action.

Then he leaned back reflectingly and said, "You know, I think the reason they like adiaphora so much is because that is what it is like being American." Well put. Dinesh D'Sousa says the thing that is so compelling about America is that you are free to be your own person. You don't have to have an arranged marriage or do what your dad did. You are free to start an enterprise or try a new thing without government interference. To have freedom to choose within the context of a walk with God is the Christian sense of the word. To have freedom to choose within the context of being a responsible citizen is the American meaning. That's different than the European meaning of freedom. To many Europeans, freedom means being about to wear a shirt with an obscene gesture on it. That irresponsible free choice is crucially different than the responsible one. Irresponsible freedom storms an old prison and beheads innocent people, then celebrates the whole thing as Bastille Day every July 14. I gag when I read about the French Revolution. It is as if we had a day to celebrate the Newark and LA riots. But the American version of freedom means free choice to pursue what really matters. That's powerful stuff.

Knowing what really matters and what is "free choice" is most important for all of us.

Tea Party, Lexington & Concord

This is August 2, the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That is the day that John Hancock put his big John Hancock on the Declaration. It had already been published far and wide and given official sanction. And it was a couple weeks after the British drove George Washington out of Brooklyn, then Manhattan. I suppose if someone from the Lame Stream Media reads this he will howl like the dickens and claim that I don't know anything about history since he learned that the Declaration was adopted on July 4 and signed. (Wrong again. It was adopted on July 3 but not officially sent to the press until July 4.

Picky, picky, you say. Well, I always find myself hoping that people will consult the true historic record whenever some controversy arises, but I am often disappointed. The journalists, those jokers on campus we always made fun of because they barely passed any other subject than journalism classes, simply aren't interested in what's true, they incite readership with passions and then tomorrow they are on the next controversy. Drive-by media, Rush calls them.

This spring, Sarah Palin visited Washington for a Rolling Thunder parade and then went to Lexington, MA, making a statement to the media about how Paul Revere and the patriots had summoned the Minutemen with guns and church bells and warned the Brits they'd be opposed. The media pounced, saying that Palin didn't know her history. Why it was lights in the North Church and Revere warned patriots, not the Brits and, silly woman, she didn't know history (because after all, they had read the poem by Longfellow!). Palin didn't back down which surely proved that she was obstinately stupid.

She was right. I could remember only half the facts but found hers so exactly correct that I believe she may have actually read the plaques in the museum, unlike other travelers. Briefly, the story was that the Resistance leaders were Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The British were set to go to arrest them at Lexington. Joseph Warren, an underground patriot leader arranged for two horsemen to ride to warn the men when the soldiers were dispatched, so they could flee. One of the horsemen was William Dawes, the other unknown although some historians say he was a black free man. But Warren worried that neither runner would make it past the guards who ringed the city and across the Charles River. So Warren arranged for the sexton of North Church, to signal Revere across the river with one lantern hung from the steeple window if the Brits were going by land and two if by sea--which would make a difference in direction of approach to Lexington. Revere took off, met Dawes, and they met Prescott a Lexington local who knew the land and had a horse with superior night vision. The militia were summoned with church bells, cannons, and musket fire. Upon discussion, the Resistance patriots realized that the Brits had sent an alarmingly large dispatch of soldiers. And concluded correctly that this is because they intended to confiscate all the guns they could find. And so Dawes, Prescott and Revere rode for Concord to beg assistance. Dawes and Revere were caught by the British, and Revere boldly told the Brits that should they try to take the Lexington arms, 500 men would resist them. The Redcoats laughed. Revere was wrong. There were 314. The 1700 British soldiers easily defeated them. But Prescott made it to Concord. Again, church bells and guns summoned farmers far and wide who had trained extensively for just such a contingency. When the British regulars marched on Concord, they met a much better organized militia of 2000 Americans who repulsed them at Concord Bridge. As the Redcoats retreated to Boston, Americans armed with long-barreled muskets accurate for hunting deer, inflicted severe casualties in guerilla tactics. Brits lost 100 men, mainly officers, and had at least that many wounded, against far fewer American casualties.

I'll let the reader consider whether Palin or her critics were right.

Now here comes the recent demonism of the Tea Party movement and my old false hope that we will again get historic facts straight. Media says the original Tea Party was a 'mob' just like today.

The Tea Party was 3 years before the war and was organized meticulously, not by a mob, but by those who opposed taxation. Taxes, in those days were a rare form of government fee. Only nobles were taxed and then in time of war as a national emergency. But following the expensive French and Indian War (Europe--7 Years War), Parliament decided that the American colonies should pay for it, all people, not just nobility. That's why our ancestors were angry over 1/2 percent Stamp tax--which upon protests was repealed. But the Tea tax was passed as a replacement. And with no recourse except to protest this, Bostonians organized to board a British East India vessel and dump the tea overboard. They were particularly careful about damaging the ship and stopped to repair a few parts they had damaged in the process. Leaders shook down participants to make sure they weren't pocketing some tea for personal use.

George Washington thought the Tea Party was a disgrace. So did Ben Franklin. They demanded the Partiers re-imburse the hapless East India Company and it was agreed they would do it. Just like the Tea Party today,the movement consisted of thoughtful individuals who weren't about to act against moral principles. Just like the well-planned resistance at Lexington and Concord, they thought it through and acted responsibly. The Tea Party today asks the government to live within its means. While that seems like the most mundane and uncontestable of assertions, that guy who is one heartbeat away from the Presidency called them Terrorists and Hostage-Takers. The MSM has piled-on, repeating the derision of Hobbits and Mob Rioters. Hunh?

This tells you more about the Democrats and Media allies than about the Tea Party. It shows that the Dems have spiraled down into leftist vitriol. I long for the old days when the Democrats were just normal people who wanted more of a safety net. Today, the Dems scream obscenities as they take our nation's economy and currency down. The Wisconsin capital reminded me more of the LA riots than democracy. The debt ceiling agreement asks for 2.5% cuts annually as the baseline of federal spending increases 8% leaving a net 5.5% increase atop an already horrendous deficit. They intend to double the size of the IRS which has already doubled audits from 2 years ago.

This seems the time for ordinary citizens to organize like Lexington and Concord. As we have a say at the ballot box, we must work to save our country there in Nov. 2012. Start polishing your weapons.