2014-03-11_08-41-22California is America’s bread basket—or, more accurately, its fruits and vegetables basket. The Golden State produces 95 percent of the country’s celery, half of its bell peppers, 89 percent of its cauliflower, 96 percent of its tomatoes, 95 percent of its garlic, 90 percent of its avocados—and the list goes on. In fact, the state accounts for nearly one-fifth of the entire agricultural output of the U.S.

SOURCE: Epic California Drought Could Change the Way We Eat – Reviewed.com Ovens.

Lets face it, we are all addicted to California fruits and veggies.  We expect to have our strawberries throughout the year instead of just during the Spring months as our grandparents did. We want everything, even if it is out of season. The California droughts could have a profound effect  on our supply of fruits and vegetables. One thing to relieve that is that there is quite a bit more things coming from Mexico and South America now. Even our little supermarket here in my small town has tomatoes from Mexico, plums for Argentina and other countries.

2014-03-23_13-10-30The drought problem for California in not surprising given that they have a population of more than 38 million people! That is several times more than all the ten red States (shown blue on this map)  in the “Great American Desert” combined. They now pump much of their water from hundreds of miles away.

It seems that the most needed invention for this world today is taking the salt out of ocean water. If that could be done on an economic scale California could quit stealing water from its neighbors and continue to be the vegetable garden for the U.S.

The Theology Of Love….

March 30, 2014

2014-03-06_12-42-52A theology of love begins with the assumption that all people are God’s cherished children and deserving of love. “We love because he first loved us. Those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:19–20). Jesus demonstrated his love for the outcasts, those many considered unlovable. Regrettably, many Christians have been unwilling to adopt the ethic of Jesus—a theology of inclusion, acceptance, and love. We’ve been unwilling to love and accept our enemies. We haven’t even been excited about loving our neighbor.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love –  HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I must admit that this book “If God Is Love” is one of my top ten favorite books I have ever read. It was the first book by Philip Gulley I had read but it would certainly not be the last. When I read this book in 2005 there was no such thing as Amazon Kindle where I could tag a quote. Instead the physical book has many bent pages and starred paragraphs. I even subsequently bought the kindle version so I could more easily use quotes in my blogs.

If you really want to understand the magnitude of the love of God I would highly advise you to pick up a copy.

2014-01-02_11-56-18Anyone who has spent much time on this blog knows that I am a big fan of Wikipedia. I give them at least a couple of donations every year to support their efforts. It was only recently that I discovered Wikimedia Commons. Click on the graphic to the right to go there.

Wikimedia Commons has literally thousands of public domain media for all you bloggers out there. You don’t have to worry about infringement of copyrights when you used any of their images.

Try them out. You won’t be disappointed and if you like them or Wikipedia give them a donation now and then. They are a non-profit so depend on your support.

Out Of Tune…..

March 28, 2014

Old PeopleI can remember in my younger years how when I came across older people who didn’t know some of the things I did I automatically thought they were just senile old folks who were no longer living in the “real” world.  They were simply out of tune with the times. They just didn’t see the world as I did. Of course now that I am one of those “old” folks I can understand their “ignorance”. In fact I am most like them now.

I am just out of tune when it comes to anything in the music area. I have been deaf for more than twenty-five years now so I guess that is a valid excuse in that area at least. I know that Justin Beiber is some sort of god when it comes to many young people today. They breathlessly await any tweet he might put out.  They crowd to wherever he might go. They want to know everything he does.  I think he is a movie star but I am not sure. Maybe he is a singer? I am totally out of tune with it comes to him and the myriad of other young people who are so revered today.

One trend I do know about is a “selfie”. That is using one of the many pieces of electronics that contains a camera to take pictures of yourself and then parade those pictures around all the social networking sites. Doing selfies requires a strong sense of self-centeredness. I am very much lacking that characteristic so you could say that I am very much out of tune with selfies and glad of it.

At this point I have seen enough in my life to understand what is important and what isn’t. I don’t spend a lot of time idolizing anyone especially the jocks and entertainers among us and especially not myself. I do have my heroes but I don’t insist on knowing their every move. Do I have things that are important to me? Of course I do. I deem loving my God and loving my neighbors as a very important aspect of my life.  Maybe I am out of tune with the times but I, like many of us “old” people I just don’t care anymore.

2014-03-27_15-12-37

Got to show you this one from my Facebook link. LOL

2014-03-23_11-53-26Looking at all the religious oligarchies around the world I am thankful that the U.S. is not a Christian nation. Without exception those countries that adhere to a strict religious dogma are plagued with strife, war, and are constantly battling with their neighbors.

I am totally convinced that the reason that the U.S. is what it is today because of our diversity. We are a nation of immigrants from hundreds of countries and religious beliefs.  I can easily see that the diversity level in the blue States is glaringly higher than in most red States. Maybe this accounts for some of the more fundamentalist attitudes among those in those parts of the country.

I grew up in a rural area in the very red State of Indiana and was therefore never exposed to our diversity until I went to college.  Part of my rural Indiana heritage in the 1950s and 60s was also being exposed to the local chapter of Klu Klux Klan. My dad kept very much away from those folks and demand that I do the same but we did see the cross burning on occasion out west of our small town. To me the KKK is somewhat representative of what our country might at least to some degree be like if we were a Christian nation.

Several of the original thirteen colonies were established on various religious groups. There was very little tolerance for anyone in those colonies for people of different religious beliefs. Some even imposed a death penalty for trying to convert its citizens to your brand of religion. Thank heavens they had to shed any of those remaining beliefs before they were allowed to join the union. We are the nation we are because we have celebrated our differences instead of always fighting each other because of them.  I hope we never forget that basic fact.

The Underdog…

March 26, 2014

2014-03-16_11-46-22All my life I have been for the underdog. I don’t know if it is because I was one or if it is just some innate empathy built into me. As I mentioned a few posts ago my favorite saint from the Catholic days was St Jude – the patron saint of lost causes. It is just something about these David/Goliath type battles that brings out strong passions in me.

Of course the opposite of the underdog is the powerful. For the most part I have never had a lot of awe for anyone in power. At best they are to be watched closely. People in positions of power just aren’t the ones I want to be around. Those senators, congressmen, and yes even presidents are to be kept on a  proverbial short leash. They have to show me, often times again and again, that I can trust them to do what I think is right.

Along with politicians,the sports jocks, the movie and TV stars just don’t impress me very much. I cheer more for the waiter who serves me than I do for those who make millions entertaining me.

The guy who doesn’t stand a chance is the one I am cheering for. If I were a doctor I’m sure I would be in pediatrics.  I would be struggling to give every preemie a chance to live. My family would probably never see me as I would spend my life in the hospital.

I am a sucker for lost causes. I latch onto things that most haphazardly disregard.

I am for the underdog.

Spring Break Cruises…

March 25, 2014

2014-03-21_08-37-50I was in college in the 1960s and can say I never took a spring break cruise or anything so lavish. There were a few kids I knew who did go to Ft. Lauderdale for the week but that was about it. But then again I lived my college life in a dormitory. I suspect that the frats and sororities whose kids usually came from much richer families did do extravagant things like this on the spring break. I just had no exposure to that side of life.

I haven’t looked up the statistics lately about who goes to college now but I imagine that it has moved very significantly toward the upper income families since my days. My spring breaks consisted of working in the cafeteria stockroom doing inventory and such. I needed those hours in order to pay the bills.  I usually didn’t have the money to even go home except on Christmas. Everything went toward housing and tuition payments. I am not lamenting those days as much as celebrating them. They gave me character and empathy for those who face such times now in their lives. They helped make me the person that I am.

Since I question everything I really wonder how those kids who go on cruises for spring break will grow up. What will be their life’s priorities? When everything is given to you does that change the type of person you will become? I was changed because I struggled for every penny. Are they changed because they don’t have to worry at all about finances? I just don’t know. There are examples of affluent people who have great compassion for others. There is the Kennedy clan, FDR,  and Bill Gates. I wonder how common they are among that crowd?

I suspect that the ivy league colleges which demand almost six figure tuition have quite a few representative on those spring break cruise ships. Many of those folks will likely end up on Wall Street or in a big time law firm. Some will be politicians of course. Will they even think about those who like I did have to struggle for what they take for granted? I need to investigate this some more. I know that Jesus said it is almost impossible for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. Does that say something about this topic?

Questions, questions, questions…..

Patron Saints….

March 24, 2014

I spent the first couple decades of my life as a Catholic. That was the dogma that my parents chose for me. They, for the most part, were not “real” Catholics but for whatever reason they thought that we kids should be.  One of the things I thought was kind of neat about being a Catholic was that there seemed to be a patron saint for almost anything you could think of.

In some ways the Catholic church is kind of like their Jewish bretheran in that they have a strict list of rules for things like making saints as the Jews have for eating food. Here is some of Wikipedia says about that:

2014-03-16_11-17-46A patron saint or a patron hallow is a saint who in some Christian denominations is regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Patron saints, having already transcended to the metaphysical, are believed to be able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges.

The words give you an indication just how serious those folks are about their saints. Just having people say “isn’t he a saint” doesn’t hack it. They got rule after rule about the process. I guess that kind of makes sense as they got to have something for all those cardinals and such to do in Vatican City.

One of my personal favorite patron saints is Jude – The Apostle. He is the patron saint of lost causes.  If I am anything it is an advocate for many lost causes. Things like gun control and universal healthcare for the U.S. are among that list. Jude who is generally identified with the name Thaddeus in gospel accounts but he was also identified by a half-dozen other names and some even claimed he was a brother of Jesus.  Maybe just trying to figure out his real name was a lost cause? :)  Identifying just who is who seems to be a major problem with many of these folks when it come to things in the Bible. Too many fingers in the pot I suppose.

In my studies I never really understood how he came to be attached to lost causes but I did find out that he is also the patron saint for the Chicago Police Department and a Rio de Janeiro soccer team.  One of his namesakes is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which has helped many children with terminal illnesses and their families since its founding in 1962.

Like almost all patron saints he has his own feast day on October 28.  Since that is also my birthday maybe that is another reason he is my favorite. He has a long standard prayer that you are supposed to recite when you pray to him.  Catholics are very good at putting people between us and God but at least they give us standard prayers to pray to them with.  Lord knows we would probably have problems making up our own words. :)

Revolution….

March 23, 2014

Young and old, rich and poor, and people from every social, economic, political and cultural background are starting to rethink their faith. A fresh movement is happening, and in its purest form is about one thing: following Christ. This transformation is reshaping the Christian landscape. Believers are starting to simplify their faith in order to exemplify Christ—a simple yet profound way to live out the gospel. This has become a revolutionary concept.

This “new” Christianity is sick of culture wars, political agendas, hypocrisy and legalistic doctrines. They prefer inclusion over restriction, dialogue over debate, practice over preaching, and love over judgment. Authentic communities are preferred over institutionalized organizations, and grassroots groups gain wisdom and knowledge from relational interaction, social media, the web, and an array of other sources—there is no monopoly controlling leadership or sources of information.

SOURCE: When Revolutions Become Religions – Stephen Mattson – Red Letter Christians.

If you are interested see a further discussion of this topic over at RedLetterLiving.