NomDebPlume's 2½ Cents

Because I have an opinion about everything…

Archive for the month “October, 2006”

“You Betray Me with a Kiss”

The majority of the media has been preoccupied with Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox’s condition in his recent advertisements for the Missouri and Maryland Senate races, and I, too, agree Limbaugh could have chosen his words better (and eliminated the gestures completely).  Though not popular, I do believe it is entirely possible that Fox may have adjusted his medication for effect, as he freely admits in his book, “Lucky Man”.  Perhaps I would do the same thing and for the same reason: because “the occasion demanded my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard”.  But my occasion would not be promoting embryonic stem cell research.

Perusing the blogs, I have found such an emotional response to the Fox ad – and to any comment that even remotely hints that he may have tinkered with his medication.  People are so willing to side with their sentiment and lay their sensibilities aside… and that’s just what the ad is meant to do.  Make you think?  Oh, no!  Make you investigate the claims of a victim of Parkinson’s Disease?  Heavens, no!  Make the citizens of Missouri look up the wording of an amendment to be voted into their constitution?  Gee, I sure hope they don’t… :-/

Whether Michael J. Fox took the correct dose of his medication or not is only relevant when you realize his appearance separated viewers from their judgment by playing on their emotions.  While my heart goes out to this man and his struggle, we need to vote with our heads, not our hearts.  My head tells me that some of the claims he made in the ad are not accurate, but may have been lost on the audience when the appeal was made to their sentimentality.  This is why a counter-ad was created soon after the Fox ad was aired:

For those who can’t hear the first line, or can’t understand it: It’s Jim Caviezel, the actor from The Passion of the Christ speaking Aramaic.  He says, “Le-bar nash be-neshak,” which translates to mean, “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss,” or “You betray me with a kiss”.  The message he is conveying is that Amendment 2 promises one thing, but delivers another.

Aside from the facts Fox left out, in the Maryland ad, he plainly states, “Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.”  There is no evidence that embryonic stem cell research is the most promising.  In fact, adult stem cells have proven more promising, with 72 therapies showing human benefits as opposed to embryonic stem cells showing zero.  Recent research also suggests brain tumors may result.  Of course, adult stem cells do not require the cloning or killing of human embryos, but only 50% or so of the country cares deeply about that issue.

Politics is increasingly about betrayal and the sting always painful.  We factor it in as part of the process and become a little more cynical, I suppose.  But I, for one, do not welcome this level of cynicism… I find it hurts even more when betrayed with a kiss.

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A Different Kind of Free Speech – Keeping Silent for One Full Day

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Students Day of Silent Solidarity
October 24, 2006

The premise is simple: Keep silent for one full day to draw attention to the number of abortions since the passage of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973 – more than 4000 each day.  The performance is much more difficult… for someone who talks as much as I do, I would say it borders the impossible.  For the students who participated last year, they learned just how difficult it can be to exercise “Free Speech”, even when there is no speech involved at all.

Prior to the Day of Silence, coordinated by Standtrue.com, students notify the faculty and administration at their schools of what to expect so there will be no surprises, yet once the day arrives, some participants are still confronted with problems.  Last year’s Day of Silent Solidarity included students from over 1200 campuses, although many faced opposition, harassment, name-calling, and a few were even suspended from school. 

While being silent, the students also pray: for the mothers, the doctors, and for those still struggling with the decision to abort.  They consider this the most important aspect of the day, really.  Additionally, they wear red armbands and can choose to put tape over their mouths.  They may also write a word on the tape that symbolizes why they have chosen to keep silent for the day, such as “LIFE” or “SILENCED”.  Many choose to wear a shirt with the word or a slogan as well. 

LifeTape

Oddly, their choice to exercise their free speech in this manner is considered offensive by some, including teachers, on occasion.  There have been incidences of faculty comparing participants to racists, and punitive measures have been taken against others at some schools where administrators considered the wearing of a pro-life slogan similar to wearing a confederate flag to school.  Yet the choice to abort a baby has become commonplace; this month’s issue of Ms. Magazine helps to put the topic in societal perspective:

“We are now starting a new petition, beginning with the names of some of the original 1972 signers. They signed to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt.” Their purpose was “to repeal archaic and inhuman laws.”

We recognize that, still, not every woman will be able to sign—33 years after Roe— even though abortion is a very common, necessary and important procedure for millions of women in the U.S…”

When asked about their armbands, tape or silence, students then hand out flyers that include facts about abortion and the development of life in the womb.  As one might imagine, this is volatile material in a school setting – in most settings – nowadays.  While some students do get harassed, overall, the message does get out.  It is difficult to ignore a person who refuses to speak and with red tape over his/her mouth.

Whether the others in the school agree or disagree with their courageous classmates willing to take a stand about something they feel so passionate about, one thing results: students and staff alike are forced to pause and think.  If only for a nanosecond, the silence of these brave souls speaks volumes for the souls who will never say anything at all.

 

      For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.      Psalm 139:13

 

 

Hang Out The Flag! We’ve Hit 300,000,000 Today… Or was it 5 years ago?

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our nation’s population reached the historic milestone of 300 million today at about 7:46 a.m. (EDT).  They arrived at this calculation by estimating that the U.S. registers one birth every 7 seconds and one death every 13 seconds, while net international migration adds one person every 31 seconds.  At that rate, the total population is increased by one person every 11 seconds.  Interesting.

It was that nebulous mention of “net international migration” that I felt needed further exploration.  How exactly did they reach this number of 300 million?  Are they tallying illegal immigrants, I wondered.  So I did a little digging. 

As with all government research, they speak a language all their own – I believe, in an endeavor to confuse the average citizen, or perhaps to convince themselves they are smarter than everyone else – but vigorous re-reading netted the following: 

Beginning with a base figure of 3.3 million in 1990, they added 225,000 net annual for each year thereafter until present.  If my math is correct, that’s a total of 6.9 million.

Is that not a low estimate by most standards?  Further exploration also brought me to other websites, one of which is called: “immigrationcounters.com”.  Apprehensive at first, and expecting to find an agenda ready to slap me in the face, instead, I was surprised to find their data well supported.   More surprising, was the 16.9 million people discrepancy between immigrationcounters calculations and that of the census bureau, whose data was not supported nearly as convincingly (to me, anyway).

What this all means, in light of our grand celebration of the 300 millionth “person” (note, I can’t say “citizen”) in our country today is that the whole thing is a farce.  First of all, if anyone is actually interested in celebrating such a milestone, they should have marked their calendars somewhere around January 2002, or thereabouts.  THAT would be closer to the time illegal immigrants helped to bring us to this imposing number. 

But, since we’re all decked out already, dressed for all the parties that will no doubt be taking place all around the country today, I’d like to offer an alternative way of celebrating:

  1. Beef up border security (e.g., a fence, more border patrol, etc.).
  2. Initiate a system where employers can identify prospective employees as citizens.
  3. Institute stiff penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and actually follow through with consequences.
  4. Consider border patrol the serious Homeland Security issue it is.
  5. Just a thought: take a page from Mexico’s immigration policy handbook.  When it comes to illegals, let’s make it as difficult for people to immigrate to the U.S. as it is to immigrate to Mexico.

400,000,000 is looming on the horizon and will be blindsiding us before you know it, I think we should stop trying to be so politically correct and deal with this as the problem it is, or when 400 million gets here, who knows what flag we’ll be hanging?

I Am NOT Old…

Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and the situation you find yourself in.

OldYesNo

Yesterday, my 14-year-old son came to the supermarket with me (mostly because we went somewhere he wanted to go first and was forced to) and found himself accompanying me to the hair color aisle.  I was quickly becoming annoyed because my brand was on sale, yet my shade was not there.  Not one to keep silent about it, I began to complain, “Sure, they have #2, #3, #5, #6… but no #4 – why no #4?  Because they knew I was coming, that’s why.”  In a show of feigned solidarity, my son checks the shelf, picking up boxes with blonde models on them to check the numbers, “Nope, this one says #8.”   For those who don’t know, #4 is DARK brown… :-/

A moment later, as I’m leaning over looking behind some boxes, my son happens to gaze down at the top of my head and notices my roots.  With a giggle, he says, “Man, you DO need to color your hair… look at all that gray starting to show.”  But it gets worse.  Before I could respond to that, he said the unthinkable: “You ARE old,” and laughed even harder.

I spun around, prepared to offer my defense of how I wasn’t that old, how heredity on my mother’s side is responsible for graying at a young age (for me, 29), and how my gray is concentrated only in the front. 

But, before I could, a laugh from the shampoo area alerted me that we were no longer alone in the aisle.  A handsome man with salt and pepper hair was looking at us – at me – as if to judge for himself if I really was old.  His reaction and his hair made me feel as though I had an ally, so I decided to address him directly: “I’ll hold him, and you hit him,” I said.  Mr. Salt & Pepper replied, “Oh, you can take him”. 

Though I was only kidding (and Mr. S&P knew this, of course) I can’t, in fact, “take him”.  My son may only be 14, but is taller and broader than me and plays high school football.  Yet, he is generally a kind soul who is more sensitive to the way I react to jokes about my age… :-/ 

Maybe he just caught me in one of my cantankerous moods…. :-)


* not me in the picture (!)  :-)

Careless Preachers

“Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” —Matthew 23:3

Some opponents of Christianity may not be so much against Christ as they are against the hypocrisy of His followers. Ironically, it hasn’t occurred to them that no one was more opposed to hypocrisy than Jesus Himself.

We’ve all met scoffers who thoughtlessly parrot the phrase, “The church is full of hypocrites!” But let’s not be thoughtless in our response and dismiss such pronouncements without taking heed lest they be true.

We tend to think that it’s not true of us. But let’s think again. Have we ever been like the Christian who glanced through her window, only to see a nosy, noisy neighbor approaching her door? Her young, impressionable children heard her as she growled, “Oh, no—not her again!” Whereupon she opened the door and gushed insincerely, “How very nice to see you!”

Our lips and our lives often preach a mixed message. In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus described the hypocritical teachers of the law and warned His disciples, “Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (v.3).

God forbid that some opponent of Christ would be influenced by careless hypocrisy in our lives.

Lord, help us to be “careful preachers.” —Joanie Yoder

You can fool the hapless public,
You can be a subtle fraud,
You can hide your little meanness,
But you can’t fool God.  —Kleiser

A hypocrite will often pray on his knees on Sunday and prey on his neighbors on Monday.

From “Our Daily Bread”, October 14, 2006
Suggested Reading: Matthew 23:1-12

DkBlueBar 

Why did I include this preachy post today?  Because hypocrites, ESPECIALLY in the church, make me crazy.  This is not to say that I have not been guilty of the example given above: “Oh, how nice to see you,” when really, it was not at all nice to see my noisy, annoying neighbor (that’s a tough one) – but on a grander scale, what in the world are Christians thinking when they show up for church every Sunday and forget there are 6 other days in the week?? 

I’m no authority on the subject, my faith is a simple one.  I consider Christianity to be a full-time endeavor.  I don’t take a “holiday” when I see someone drop a $20.00 bill, for instance… :-/ 

Let me relate an interesting little story (which I hope to state briefly :-).  I was recently hired to help a friend collect a [relatively] large outstanding debt owed to her business.  She gave me some background on the gentleman I would be calling: “He is a nice family man, a Christian guy… he even has scripture verses on his business cards” (which is why she was especially surprised he “stiffed” her).  After numerous ignored invoices, emails, and phonecalls that were not even answered, I called and spoke politely to the man, even commiserating with him and his predicament.  Despite this, he was unbelievably rude and nasty to me, making a point of getting my name and other pertinent information, which he then used to send a cease and desist letter.  (Cease and desist after one phonecall?  He’s the one who won’t pay… :-/)

Anyway, the point of my story is this guy had no idea who I was or that I knew he was a Christian because he saw me only as a hired independent contractor, not also a friend of the business owner to whom he owes money.  SHE knows his public persona, but he didn’t think that *I* did.  So he decided to “take a holiday”.  That bothered me more than his threatening tone.

I know Christians aren’t perfect and have even been told not to hold them (the ones that irritate me) to a higher standard, but why shouldn’t I?  Aren’t we always expecting everyone else to raise their standards?  It’s time for hypocrisy to take a holiday – if Christians want to be taken seriously.

It’s Only Funny Until We Vote

3Dems

Why do so many people think they’ve got this election figured out?  I’m so tired of hearing pollsters quote their findings: “29% of people say this,” “58% of people say that,” “it doesn’t look good for Republicans.”  (What people?)  To listen to the bevy of clairvoyant pundits who shoot their mouths off every opportunity they are graciously given by our ever-accommodating media, one would think they are reading from their own “wish books”, not offering impartial analyses as the professionals they claim to be. 

They call it “news”, and it certainly is news to me.  As someone who falls into the category of “Values Voter” and is a Christian Conservative, I have learned that “I am so turned off by the Foley – and other – scandals that I will probably just stay home and not vote in November”.  Reeeeally?  Well, have I got news for them: The terms “Values Voter” (or whatever else you want to call it) and Conservative Christian does not mean that I am STUPID. 

I cannot speak for all Conservative Christians, for Evangelicals, or for the “Far Right”, but I can tell you what the people I know think and what makes sense to us.  Mark Foley obviously did something wrong and is now in the process of paying the consequences.   He is not being punished for being gay, nor should he be.  He is NOT the entire Republican Party, or a symbol of it.  We have local elections all around the country of major importance where Mark Foley is not running (Duh :-/ ). 

The division of Congress hangs in the balance and this cannot be taken lightly. Not voting would be the same as a voting for a Democrat, and while the media may look down upon us as a group, I guess we only look stupid.  We realize that allowing the Democrats to win would be putting Nancy Pelosi in the #3 seat for the Presidency.  This, of course, is unacceptable.

It’s not like Conservative Christians think they’re perfect, we just “vote our values” when others may vote based on taxes or social issues, for example.  We also realize there is a certain amount of pragmatism involved in the election process.  It’s a give and take kind of thing, an imperfect system.  After all, Jesus isn’t on the ballot… :-/

Bottom line?  To preserve the values and the standard of morality that is important to us, we must prevent liberals from taking office, taking over Congress or taking the third chair.  So, no… we won’t be staying home.

A Lesson From The Amish

AmishGirl2© Bill Coleman

By now, everyone knows the details of the horrific school shooting that took place in Lancaster County at the Amish one-room Schoolhouse. The updates on the news are so painful and difficult to absorb, one can’t even make sense of it all. But rather than focus on the carnage that took place on Monday, October 2, or try to fathom what provoked the shooter to plan and carry out such a gruesome act of violence, I am trying to comprehend how the Amish have found it within themselves to forgive the man who caused them this unspeakable grief. Beyond forgiveness, it would appear they have put their words into action by extending themselves to the shooter’s wife, acknowledging her as someone also sharing in the sorrow known only by those who have lost a loved one.

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3Buggy

I am a resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania – living about 20 miles from the schoolhouse, which is located in an area called “Paradise”. The Amish have never meant more to me than an unusually dressed nice group of people who have decided to set themselves apart by not participating in the technological revolution. A buggy will pass down my road every once in a while and I still run to the window, a former “city-girl” lured by the hoofbeats of the horse. To many, their section of the county represents a place where one can get a good “family style” meal. If family or friends visit from New York, they enjoy having dinner at one of these restaurants, sitting down and passing platters of food back and forth among strangers at a big table. And the food is delicious, plentiful and traditional to the area. I still don’t know what “chow-chow” is, but people seem to love it. Though these establishments are not run by the Amish, they are part of the overall tourist attraction that has been created because the Amish live so close, and I believe these restaurants try to recreate the feeling of “Community”, which is so important to the their way of life.

Though from a distance, I have admired the faith of the Amish and their ability to live happily without our amenities, but overall, I have been more amazed with the fact that they actually have no electricity, cars or phones, etc. As someone who drives everywhere, after blow-drying my hair in a well-lit house – sometimes while watching the news – and relies on my cell phone if I should get lost during my travels, this is truly difficult to appreciate. But not as difficult as imagining how agonizing it must be not only to confront the wife of the man who shot and killed these innocent little girls, but also to forgive him and show his family love. From what I’ve read and heard, those affected by this tragedy have visited with Mrs. Roberts and let her know that her husband was forgiven. They hold no animus toward her or her children and have offered to help them cope through their own crisis. Additionally, Mrs. Roberts was invited to the funerals and attended one of them on Thursday; her grandfather attended the fifth funeral on Friday. But most striking is that the Amish leaders insisted a fund be set up for Mrs. Roberts and the children.

No longer are these “Plain People”, a name by which they are sometimes referred, merely decorations on my Lancastrian landscape. These people who separate themselves and keep to themselves, wanting no attention drawn to their ways or their lives have become a story followed all around the world. For me, I have investigated to learn more about them and what can make a group of people capable of such a depth of forgiveness. What I’ve learned is as basic as the clothing and lifestyle I’ve observed all along:
The Amish are very devout in their faith. They believe in the literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God.”

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

Rather than the whole world reading the appalling accounts of this last week in Lancaster only to wonder why such senseless murders took place, and fostering a hatred for the man who caused it all, I hope the lasting memory is that of the forgiving Amish. Indeed, they are a lesson for us all.

3BlueBar

The Amish believe funerals are more important than births because of their fervent Biblical belief in the afterlife. Still, as we admire a loving and forgiving community, may we pray for comfort as they deal with their devastating loss…

Naomi Rose Ebersol, 7 years old
Mary Liz Miller, 8 years old
Lena Miller, 7 years old
Marian Fisher, 13 years old
Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12 years old

~ May you find rest in Paradise ~

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© Bill Coleman

 

DkBlueBar

 

For those wishing to make a donation:

Electronic donations can be made to the Nickel Mines School Victims Fund at:
http://www.afweb.org/foundation/nmsvictimsfund/

Donations can be mailed to:

Nickel Mines Children’s Fund
Coatesville Savings Bank
1082 Georgetown Road
Paradise, PA 17562

Roberts Family Fund
Coatesville Savings Bank
1082 Georgetown Road
Paradise, PA 17562

For more information, please visit: http://www.wgal.com/news/9988635/detail.html

 

Grateful acknowledgement to Bill Coleman for the use of his moving photographs of Amish little girls in this piece.
301 South Garner Street, State College, PA 16801 / Bill@AmishPhoto.com / 814-238-8495

Gay and Lesbian History Month Acknowledged in Philadelphia Schools

Why do we even have a Gay and Lesbian History Month?  It never ceases to amaze me how groups who claim to want equality constantly behave in such a way to separate themselves from the rest.  Is theirs a history that is different from that of the heterosexual community and in need of being recognized as such?  “Look what a Lesbian can do!”  Ok, ok… you can host talk shows and tell jokes and write books and become doctors and lawyers… JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.  What’s your point?  Why must we give you a month to exploit that?  Personally, I don’t care if the person who invented penicillin was heterosexual or homosexual … I’m just glad it’s available when I need it.

And beyond taking advantage of and annoying the majority of the adult population by constantly overcompensating for your insecurities in this way, why involve the children?  No, I think I know the answer to that.  If you get the next generation at a young and tender age, under the guise of PC words like “tolerance” and “diversity”, you have paved the way for YOUR next generation’s agenda to sail more smoothly.  It’s an insidious plan that just slithers in barely detected by most and embraced by many, since how can anyone proclaim to be intolerant or against diversity? 

Tolerance and diversity are a two-way street.  There should be room for a lot more than select acceptable groups du jour honored by months and events to celebrate their history.  By being so selective, those left out are now the groups feeling the disdain of intolerance.  It is, in fact, reverse discrimination, helping to promote the prejudice that opposes the goals of groups like Philadelphia’s Lesbian and Gay Task Force or the Philadelphia based Equality Forum, who support the City’s decision to honor their month-long self-appreciation on their school calendar.   In honor of Gay History Month, The Equality Forum has launched a project self-described this way: “The group has designed the project as a curriculum that can be used by teachers at any education level, as well as an awareness and visibility campaign.”   (Curriculum??)

As a mother who receives school calendars each year, I can hardly describe the shock I would feel if I were to receive such a calendar.  I suppose I would flip past October and see if any of the other months were being used to acknowledge “Heterosexual History Month”… but what sense would that make?  Why would young elementary school students care, or need to know, about the sexual preferences of their history makers??  When did this become an imperative?  Is there a “Polygamist History Month”?  An “I-cheated-on-my-wife History Month”?  An “I-need-to-watch-smut-videos-before-sex History Month”?  Of course not, it’s ridiculous!  And so is acknowledging the sexual identity of those history makers who are “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender”.  For those (like me) who aren’t sure what is meant by “Transgender”, according to Dictionary.com:
“appearing or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, as a transsexual or habitual cross-dresser”.

To add to the madness, the children who attend Philadelphia schools are also supposed to “understand” why there are boys or men who habitually dress as girls/women?  Is this so children can better understand the annual Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, or is there an overabundance of cross-dressers in Philadelphia?  It boggles the mind that there are tax dollars being spent on this when city schools could be spending those funds on something more useful. 

This is according to Philadelphia Board of Education Policy 102, drafted in 1994, titled: “Multiracial-Multicultural-Gender Education”.

The definition of this policy is as follows:
“Multiracial-Multicultural-Gender Education is an education process designed to foster knowledge about and respect for those of all races, ethnic groups, social classes, genders, religions, disabilities and sexual orientations.  Its purpose is to ensure equity and justice for all members of the school community, and society as a whole, and to give those members the skills and knowledge they need to understand and overcome individual biases and institutional barriers to full equity.”

Toward that end, outlined are several ways to implement the goals of the policy, which include:

4.1 Make an institutional commitment to teach to all children in every school, a curriculum informed by the principles of gender-equity, multi-racial and multi-cultural knowledge and perspectives, included but not limited to the history and experiences of women, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, as well as lesbian and gay people and disabled people. 

4.2 Seek equitable allotments for this activity from the District’s resources for the ongoing development of appropriate curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as the ongoing evaluation of administrative policies, procedures and performance standards.

The logical next question is this: Why has the Philadelphia School District deemed it wise and beneficial for its students, “all children in every school”, to be made aware of Lesbian and Gay History Month, yet if someone were to attempt to try to make the students aware of the history of the life of Christ, for example, the ACLU would be all over it, claiming some backwards, twisted version of The Constitution and how the Establishment Clause is being broken?  Is this not in keeping with the definition to “foster knowledge and respect for all religions”?  It would seem their Policy – as written, breaks the law – as interpreted.

A spokeswoman for the District, Cecilia Cummings, stated that recognizing Gay History Month on the District Calendar is no different from recognizing months devoted to the history or heritage of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, though I believe there are a great many who would disagree with her.

The gay/lesbian community represents about 6% of the population, yet they are extremely vocal and well organized.  Until the silent majority stands up and makes some noise, these injustices will continue to take place and assault our children.  These “policies” will continue to be written by bullied administrators behind closed doors with far-reaching repercussions.  Today, Philadelphia (and who knows where else?)… tomorrow, your hometown? 

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