Blame the Methodists


Here are some thoughts regarding communion.

A Grace-Filled Life

Here is a bit of trivia for you–Methodist minister Thomas Bramwell Welch developed non-alcoholic grape juice in 1869. You can read all about it in this article from Christianity Today.

As a Lutheran, I do not understand providing grape juice for the Sacrament of Holy Communion. That’s not what our Lord used when He instituted the meal on the Thursday before His death. But Welch was trying to address a problem of his day and inadvertently created other issues at the same time.

In my congregations, those who have had issues with wine have usually found ways to deal with it without the wine not being used for communion. Most times, they were able to receive the wine because they understood that the wine had been brought together with the blood of Christ and the bread joined with the body of Christ to give us a powerful meal for the…

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2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 6


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

The responses to the third question (concerning climate change) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.

The responses to the fourth question (concerning biodiversity) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4″.

The responses to the fifth question (concerning the Internet) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 5″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Mental Health

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States, more than 40 million people, are coping with a mental health issue. Close to 14 million people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Moreover, many of these individuals have additional complicating life circumstances, such as drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness, or involvement with the criminal justice system. Veterans are in acute need of mental health care, with close to 20 percent of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing post-traumatic stress or depression. And the problem is not limited to adults: an estimated 17 million children in the United States experience mental health issues, as do one in four college students. Too many Americans are being left to face mental health issues on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better.

That’s why I recently released a comprehensive and detailed plan to address this important issue that impacts so many American families. Under my plan, we’ll promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. We’ll integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment opportunities. We’ll improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders. We’ll enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. We’ll improve access to housing and job opportunities. And we’ll invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.

I’m proud of my record of advocating for greater protections and expanded access to treatment for people with mental health conditions, including co-sponsoring the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. My goal is that within my time in office as president, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.

Donald Trump (R)

This is one of the great unfolding tragedies in America today. States are reducing their commitments to mental health treatment and our jails are filled with those who need mental health care. Any mental health reforms must be included in our efforts to reform healthcare in general in the country. We must make the investment in treating our fellow citizens who suffer from severe mental illness. This includes making sure that we allow family members to be more involved in the total care of those who are severely mentally ill. We must ensure that the national government provides the support to state and local governments to bring mental health care to the people at the local level. This entire field of interest must be examined and a comprehensive solution set must be developed so that we can keep people safe and productive.

Jill Stein (G)

As part of a Medicare for All universal health care system we need a mental health care system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. In addition to full funding for mental health care, this means making it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income, and funding programs to increase public awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.

We must ensure that the government takes all steps necessary to fully diagnose and treat the mental health conditions resulting from service in combat zones, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

We will also release prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental health treatment centers, and ensure psychological and medical care and rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners.

My Thoughts

Again, Clinton’s answer is a little more in depth than either that of Stein or Trump.  Interestingly enough, I think Trump’s answer is surprisingly lucid and coherent (somewhat sarcastically, I don’t think he wrote this as much as I think he might have written his earlier answers).

Trump’s answer also runs counter to current Republican thoughts about health care.

Both Clinton and Stein recognize the need for increased mental health support for veterans, which is probably woefully underfunded at the moment.  They both also understand that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Of the six questions asked so far, this is the only one in which all three candidates show agreement.

Astronomy, Ecology, and Social Ethics: Looking at Climate Trends for 2016


This comes from The Vatican Observatory – as I noted in my post (God’s Wrath or Man’s Ignorance) yesterday, we have been given stewardship of this planet.

2016 has been a record setting year in regard to climate change. NASA has confirmed that the temperatures from January to June have set new, all-time highs. An article on NASA’s website from July 19, 2016 states that temperatures are 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than recent historical averages. Sea ice levels in the first five months receded to new lows since we began to measure it with satellites in 1979. Though some may question the reality of global warming, science is confirming that our world’s climate is changing and rapidly. For the full article on recent NASA findings about our climate, click here. Thankfully, the record ice melt in the first five months of this year has slowed through the month of June. This slowing will keep the arctic ice from setting even more record lows. Nevertheless, NASA has stated that these findings are pointing to a “new normal” for our climate and are seeking to answer the question, “What does this mean going … Continue reading →

Source: Astronomy, Ecology, and Social Ethics: Looking at Climate Trends for 2016

God’s Wrath or Man’s Ignorance


A Meditation for 21 August 2016, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10, Hebrews 12: 18 – 29, and Luke 13: 10 – 17.

There are quite a few comments floating around over the Internet rejoicing the fate of a right-wing religious person whose home was destroyed by the recent Louisiana floods.  Those who are rejoicing feel that this is either God’s retribution or something similarly appropriate for this individual’s previous rather hateful statements.

Now, maybe it is right that anyone who has spoken words of hatred and exclusion should feel the same pain that they themselves have brought unto others but I don’t believe that is, if you will, the Christian way.  And I would say that if this individual or his supporters feel that their proclamation of self-based Christianity make them somehow more worthy of support than others, then I would suggest that they go to the end of the line until the truly needed have been helped.

I have heard those kinds of statements of how natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes are signs of God’s Wrath.  But as I once pointed out, how do we interpret the fact that the one of the most likely targets for a lightning strike is a church steeple.  In an Internet search I did a few years ago, I find over 100,000 instances of lightning hitting a church steeple.  Are the people who make up the church doing things that have incurred God’s Wrath or is it more likely that the steeple is the highest point in the area and, thus, more likely to be struck by lightning (from “And What Will You Say?”)?

But the God that seeks to invoke wrath on a person is not the God of my faith tradition.  This may have been the God of the Old Testament but my own faith tradition includes the New Testament and the God of the New Testament cared enough for all the people on this planet to send His Son to save us from sin and death.  And this is my own thought but I think God is smart enough to realize that retribution and anger don’t work.

Besides, if God was really that angry at mankind, he could have wiped us off the map years ago (and we know that He did this once before; he also told Noah that the rainbow would be a sign that never again would He destroy the world).

I also think that those who want an angry God do so because that’s the God of their lives.  They have transformed the Bible into what they want it to be and what it actually is.

The theme throughout the Old and New Testament is not one of anger and hatred, of war and violence, but of openness and acceptance.  A second theme, and the one that may, in part, account for our problems with floods and fires and such, is that we are stewards of this planet.

From the very beginning, we have been tasked with being good stewards, of taking care of this planet, our home.  And when we don’t take care of the planet, we can expect to be in deep, deep trouble.

There are those who have been saying that the severe weather that we have been dealing with for the past few years are only the beginning and the result of failure to heed the warnings that we were doing unalterable damage to the environment.

God sent His Son because the people ignored the prophets.  If we are to ignore His Son, if we are to ignore the teachings given to us for so many years, then we can expect what is to come.  It will not be God’s Wrath that destroys us; it will be our own ignorance.

Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation


This comes from a blogging friend in North Carolina.  What I find interesting is that Reverend Barber asked to speak at both political conventions because the nature of his talk went beyond political boundaries.  And yet the Republican party, despite all their talk about being pro-Christian, refused to let him do so.

You cannot say that you are a Christian when you refuse to hear the Word of God, especially when it calls you to task.  What was it that John the Baptizer and Jesus Himself called us to do?  It was to repent and change our ways!


During the dueling Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Rev. Dr. William Barber’s Moral Movement asked both parties to allow him to address with them the Scripture’s call to …

Source: Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation

Knock, Knock! Who’s There?


As I have noted before, growing up in the South I have personally experienced the effects of segregation (many of classmates did so as well but they didn’t understand because they didn’t know).

In the spring of 1969, I stood by my friends in protest of unfair housing practices in Kirksville, MO. It was a peaceful sit-in but it could have gone bad quite easily. And I will be honest, my parents went ballistic when they found out what I was doing.

I participated in the Moratorium in 1969 in protest of the Viet Nam war (causing more concern for my parents). And I was prepared to go to jail or Canada if I were to have been drafted in 1971 (I got lucky and received a deferment).

In everything that I have said and done, I have tried to stand for equality and freedom. I have taken the precepts and principles of the Gospel as what they are, the Truth that will set people free.

It strikes me that we should never had to have passed this torch on to the next generation. We should be moving forward. But it would seem some in my generation haven’t learned the lessons of history. There are those of my generation who refuse to see others as equals because of race, gender, sexuality, or income. And they seek to pass this ignorance and hatred onto the next generation.

It works this way. We are all children of God, made in God’s image (Genesis 1: 27). We all have the same rights and freedoms, no matter what our race might be, no matter what our gender or sexuality, and certainly no matter what our economic status might be.

Those who work to keep others from having the same rights, freedoms, and, if you will, privileges as they have will have to answer to this when they meet God first hand. Those who loudly proclaim that they know what God is thinking better than God does.

And they will have to wonder why when they knock on Heaven’s Door, no one answers.

The View Of The Future


I heard a comment the other day that suggested, to me anyway, that the money that was spent on the Juno mission to Jupiter would have been better spent feeding the poor.

In one sense, this was correct. When we have one dollar and we have to choose between feeding the hungry and exploring the outer reaches of space, we need to feed the hungry. Because we will be unable to explore the outer reaches of space.

But I also feel that there is something wrong with this idea. It presupposes that we only have one dollar to spend, when in reality, we have perhaps ten dollars to spend. And the vast majority of that ten dollars is spent on military and security items, items which in the end destroy things.

There is clearly something wrong when the majority of our money is spent on destruction, in whatever form it takes. Because sooner or later, we will not be able to rebuild what we destroy.

If, on the other hand, we spend the vast majority of our money on building things, then we wouldn’t have to worry about feeding the people or healing the sick or the other things that suffer when we destroy rather than build.

And if we spend our money building the creative skills of the people, then we will find cures for illness, ways to grow food without modifications, create energy that does not pollute and discover answers to the questions we haven’t begun to ask at this time.

For too long this country, this society, and this planet have focused on the practice of war. It may be that there are times we need to have such a focus but, over the long run, it can only mean the destruction of people, society, and in the end, this planet.

On the other hand, a focus on building up and focusing on people allows us to have a clearer view of the future.