Okay, I get it. 


Donald Trump is the elected President of the United States.  He was elected under the rules that were in play and, unless something happens when the Electoral College meets in a couple of weeks, he will take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

But he was not elected by the majority of the voters and as much as those voters need to recognize that he was elected, he and his followers need to realize that they are not the majority view in the country.

And as much as his supporters feel that there should be no protests, let me remind them of all the acts of violence and hatred his followers did during the campaign and threaten to do if Trump were not elected.  And they also need to remember that just because Trump advocated many things, that does not give them the right to treat others any differently than they themselves expect to be treated.

And in these post-election days, we already see that Trump perhaps does not have a complete grasp of the task before him.  The names that have been bandied about for potential leadership positions suggest an administration that will be marred by scandal and corruption.  And even if there is no scandal or corruption, the plans they have will end up in the physical destruction of this planet.

What will happen to the rules and regulations that keep our air clean and our water drinkable?  We already have the answer to that question when we look at what happened in Flint, Michigan.

What will happen to the workplace environment?  Donald Trump wants to bring jobs back to America but he also believes that we need to abolish the minimum wage.  I hope he has a plan in that word salad mind of his for taking care of the sick and needy because the economy will collapse.

And there will be a constitutional crisis when he demands military action that could include use of nuclear weapons.  Even if he can find field commanders that will carry out those orders, the result will be the destruction of the planet for all times.

And do we expect Donald Trump to miraculously transform into an ethnically pure individual because he is now the President?  Personally, I doubt it.  His embrace of evangelical “Christians” and their embrace of him tell me, at least, that he is, to say the least, ethically challenged.

I know enough to accept the outcome of the game as it was played.  But I will not allow the rules of the game of life to be changed and I will stand up in any way that I can.

I hope you get it.

Saturday morning thought


Why have so much of our factory work been outsourced? Hint: It has nothing to do with trade deals.

But it has everything to do with cost. The American buying public doesn’t want to pay a whole lot for what it buys. Second, plant owners are more interested in the bottom line than they are the workers (there are exceptions).

Steel plants in the mid-west closed because it was cheaper to produce the steel overseas. Our plants were inefficient and dirty. If we were to reopen the closed steel mills in this country and use the same old processes as before, our air and water would get dirty (all one must do is look at the skies over Delhi to know what happens when you don’t have regulations to keep the air clean).

Ending trade deals by itself will not necessarily restore greatness to America.  But demanding quality goods made by workers paid a fair and living wage in conditions that are fair and equitable and by processes that do not damage the environment will.

And for the record, the evidence shows that this can be done.  There are sufficient examples that paying workers fair wages and having decent working environments does work and does not decimate the business climate.

The only ones who don’t want regulations that keep our air and water clean, who don’t want to pay workers fair and living wages, and prefer massive profits are the owners and the wealthy elite.  They will do whatever they can to keep their money and they, frankly, do not care what happens to the workers (as long as the workers keep them in power and wealth).

My Grandfather’s Diary entry for this day, 11 November 1918


I first published this on 11 November 2007.  I think it is important enough to be reposted.

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For those who are not aware, I am the son of a career Air Force officer and the grandson of a career Army officer. I do not know much about my grandfather, as he died when I was five years old. What I know about him comes from “tales” told to me by my parents and the diary that he wrote while in combat in France during World War I.

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His entry for the month of November reads

At the beginning of November, 1918, the 2nd Army was preparing for a major attack on the section of the Hindenburg Line in the Metz area. The attacks were scheduled for November 10th and 11th. At the beginning of the month, the 14th Brigade had been withdrawn from the front line and replaced with the 13th Brigade. While ostensibly a move to give the 14th Brigade time for additional training, it appears that this move also facilitated moving the 14th to its intended position of the planned series of attacks. The 34th Regiment found itself scattered throughout the section.

During the period 9 – 11 November, the Division executed local attacks and gained temporary occupation of a hill west of Preny (9 November), Hill 323 (1 km southeast of Rembercourt) on 10 November, and established a line from 310.2 to 287.1 in the Bois de Grand-Fontaine, captured the quarry near 278.7 west of Rembercourt, and the small woods .25 km south of Mon Plaisir Fme. on November 11th.

November 9, 1918

On way to front again. We are to attack tomorrow. Men have been hiking all day & night, then to go in an attack will sure be hell.

November 10, 1918

Attack held up by very strong machine gun fire and a cannon barrage by “Fritz”.

NOVEMBER 11, 1918. –ARMISTICE DAY–

November 11, 1918

A great day. The armistice was signed today. We were to resume our attack at 2 p.m. in case it was not signed. Slept in a German dugout last night.

From a second diary –

Was in German dugout at points 242.4 & 365 (on the Thiaucourt 1 to 50,000 maps) on the day Armistice was signed. 34th Infantry Regiment captured 1 German officer, 32 enlisted personnel, and 3 machine guns during tour; advance the outpost line .75 kilometers to include Hills 311.2, 310.2, and 312.

Nothing in what my grandfather wrote tells me anything about his feelings on war. Any mention of death or destruction in the diary is rather simple. I think that this was because he used his diary as a drafting board. As the Adjutant for the 34th Infantry Regiment, one of his duties was to prepare the daily reports. Those daily reports, recorded in the unit history, are almost the same things I read in the diary. Still, it was what he wrote on the front page of the diary that tells me he saw war for what it was and what it could be.

If I should fall, will the finder of this take it on him or herself to see that gets to my wife, Mrs. Walter L. Mitchell, 4150 A De Tonty Street, St. Louis, MO., USA? By doing so, they were conferring a favor upon Walter L. Mitchell, Captain, 34th US Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces, France.

The Highest Possible Standard


Ann and I just sent the following message to our Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.


With the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, we are faced with the possibility and/or probability of one of the most corrupt administration since the Harding or Grant administrations.

My wife, Ann Walker, and I encourage to you to use your position as a United States Senator as outlined in the Constitution to advise and consent the President-elect on his selections for cabinet, Supreme Court Justices, and other administration posts and hold these nominations to the highest ethical and moral standards possible.

The need for this scrutiny cannot be over-emphasized.

Science, nature, and the awesome wonder of God


These are some thoughts about being a scientist and a Christian.  I will be honest; there are some who say that one cannot be both and you must choose between the two.  And there are many who say that one is doomed if you do not choose their side of the argument.

I, of course, do not hold to that view and have chosen to follow in the paths of individuals such as Newton, Boyle, Priestly, Mendel, and Lemaître.


Can one be both a scientist and a Christian?  Can one both appreciate the beauty and wonder of creation and still ask how it all came into being?

eagle_nebula_pillars

The “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula (taken by the Hubble Telescope)

Today, there are those who see science as a threat to religion, and especially Christianity.  And there are those who see religion, and especially Christianity, as nothing more than superstition and meaningless today.

Scientists from Copernicus and Galileo to Boyle and Newton and onto this day have never sought to prove or disprove the existence of God, only to understand what He has done.

And in one small way, science has always been a part of the Bible story.  After the Creation, Adam was given the task of naming all the animals and plants that were in the Garden of Eden, making him the first biologist.

The Psalmist looked at the world around him and at the skies above him and saw the Glory of God,

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.  Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look our way?

Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light.

You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge,

Made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild,

Birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.

God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.  (Psalm 8: 3 – 9, The Message)

And how could Jesus use the habits of foxes and birds or know how mustard seeds grow in his parables if He had not studied science when he was growing up.

Science can give meaning to what we see in this world but it cannot explain why it is here.  Science can never explain there is good and evil or why there is suffering and pain in this world.

Science can never show you God; it can only show you, through nature, the works of God.  Science has always been driven to know things about the world in which we live.  Scientists from Copernicus through Newton and even into these days used the process of science to understand the works of God, not disprove the existence of God or displace God.

Science gives us the opportunity to know what is happening in this world; it is up to our faith to know why it is happening.  It is our faith that will provide the guidance that we need to use what science shows us.  It is through our faith that we can discern the path that we should take, to use our scientific discoveries for good.

Science can open avenues of research whose answers will help feed the people of this planet and cure sickness and disease but science cannot eliminate injustice and oppression.  For all that science can do, it cannot do all things.  And for those things that science cannot do, you must have faith, faith in things unseen, faith that will lead you to find ways to use the knowledge that you gain from science.

We look at the world around us and wonder why and how.  As we ask how things came to be, we find ourselves marveling at the works of God.  And as we begin to understand the works of God, we began to understand ourselves just a little bit better.

611

What Can We Do?


When we opposed the Viet Nam war and marched for Civil Rights, we were often told “my country, right or wrong”, often followed by “love it or leave it.” But the quote that so many people used was always incomplete. To paraphrase the complete quote, “I will support my country when it is right and I will work to make it right when it is wrong.”
 
And I remember that night in 1969 when I stood with my friends in Baldwin Hall protesting the inequity of housing in Kirksville, Missouri (much to the dismay of my parents and grandmother), staring out the door at those who would just as soon bash my head in as agree that there were inequities in life.
 
I made a decision a long time ago to follow Christ, not the Christ that promises wealth and prosperity to a select and limited few, but the CHRIST whose sacrifice gave freedom to all who seek Him. I knew it then and I know it now that the struggle isn’t over and that struggle must continue and I will continue to fight for what is right and just.
 
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

A Review of “The End of Protestantism” by Peter J. Leithart


The full title of this book is “The End of Protestantism – Pursing Unity in a Fragmented Church.”

The first thing that has to be stated is that I received my copy of this book free with the promise that I would review it and post the review.

When I agreed to review this book I presumed that this book in some way would address the idea of Christianity in the 21st century.  We live in a time of great moral uncertainty and, at a time when there needs to be a source of moral certainty, there is none.  The one institution that should be the source of moral certainty, the Christian Church, is both part of the cause of the moral uncertainty and is dying.

There may be a number of reasons why one can say that the Christian Church is dying but it would seem that the lack of a clear and concise statement of purpose by the variety of churches and the varying degree of interpretations offered by the denominations of the church are part of the cause.

In this book, Dr. Leithart suggests that unifying the church again will solve the problems.  And while unifying the church may solve its problems, I feel that the solution that Dr. Leithart offers fails to achieve that goal.  I will address this in later paragraphs but, for me, Dr. Leithart’s solution is to turn the clock back, back to a moment prior to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Second, Dr. Leithart’s solution is theological in nature and thus can only be considered by those with a sufficient theological background.  To be honest, as a lay person, I understand that there are differing opinions as to who may be baptized but I do not totally understand the theological basis for baptism and why that would cause splits in Christianity.  For the average lay person, they would simply say that they understand how baptism works in their denomination but not why it works that way.

To resolve such issues must take place within the laity as well as in the clergy and I am not convinced this is addressed in the book.

Second, while Dr. Leithart does address a number of issues that have are the basis for the many theological issues that have divided Protestantism over the years and arose from the Protestant Reformation, I don’t think he addressed what I would consider the major one and the one that lead Martin Luther to seek a reformation of the church.  And this singular issue was the corruption in the church and the effect that corruption had on the church.

For me, the central issue behind Luther’s efforts was the rationale for the issuance of indulgences as a means to bankroll the church in Rome while offering a false promise to the people who bought them.  This issue is still prevalent in today’s society with the prominence of pastors preaching what is called the “prosperity gospel”.

The second issue that Dr. Leithart does not address directly is the dominance of a particular conservative brand of Christianity that seeks a return to a rigid, authoritarian style of faith that fails to recognize that each individual is just that, an individual capable of making their own decisions.  And it is this point which is the primary cause for the failure of the church in today’s society.

The conservative church in today’s society seeks a church where the identity of the individual is second to the identity of the group and subject to the decisions of church authorities.  I am not saying that liberal church is succeeding in this, for while it may offer the individual the freedom to be the individual, it does not offer a framework under which the freedom can be successful.

My impression throughout the entire book was that Dr. Leithart was advocating a return to a more Biblical and perhaps conservative approach.  But in stressing the Bible, I feel two questions were not asked nor addressed.

First, which Bible would be the basis for any discussion?  Shall we use a more modern translation?  Or we will perhaps use the Bible as it was originally written, in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek.  If we were to use the original versions, then will it be a requirement that all members of the church have a working understanding of these languages?

I believe that Dr. Leithart acknowledges part of the difficulty representing in deciding which Bible would be used by the way he treats denominational differences on other topics.  The rise of denominations within the Protestant Church arose from legitimate concerns about theological differences.  Unless these differences can be completely and totally acknowledged and there be a complete and total acceptance of all viewpoints, then unity will be a goal and a dream never realized.

And, second, where does science fit into this mix?  One of the great issues in today’s society is the view by many conservatives and fundamentalists that the view of Creation as expressed in the opening verses of Genesis is the only acceptable version of Creation (which tends to ignore the other versions expressed in the Bible and other societal versions as well as the acceptable scientific explanation).  There are also other societal issues expressed in the Bible that would run counter to current societal views; views as how slavery is viewed in the Bible or the role of women in the Old Testament, for example.

Dr. Leithart also expressed that thought that communion should be at least a weekly occurrence in the new church.  In the case of Methodism, this was also the expressed belief of John Wesley, who took communion on a daily basis.  That not all current United Methodist Churches do so today is more a reflection of the historical nature of communion and the requirement that only ordained clergy can offer communion than a decision by the pastor and/or congregation to forgo a weekly schedule.  In the early days of the church, when the ordained clergy where circuit riders visiting a church once every four to six weeks, weekly communion was not possible.  This is the basis for the schedule of communion in many churches today, at least in the United Methodist church, not some obscure or profound theological difference.

In the end, I applaud Dr. Leithart’s effort to find a way to unify the church.  But in a world that must move forward, I don’t think that moving backwards will work.  And while acknowledging and recognizing the differences that have generated the broad and diverse nature of today’s church, I don’t think that one can ignore the causes that lead to that diversification.

A new and unified church will be one that looks to the future with unity defined in terms of the goal we all seek to reach rather than the methods by which we reach that goal.