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Mesa Verde 2Yet another picture of my favorite vacation place and that is Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. You get good exercise hiking to the many ruins and when you get there it has a definite spiritual quality. I enjoy just sitting at the ruins and taking it all in.

via Gun control: Why the US military is fighting with the NRA – CSMonitor.com.

US military commanders are trying to cope with an epidemic of suicides within the armed forces.  Officials say they are frustrated by a recent law, backed by the NRA, that makes it difficult to talk to soldiers about personally owned firearms.

The NRA typically comes out in the full attack mode anytime they come across someone who disagrees with the total unfettered right of people to have as many and any type of weapon they might desire.  It is quite amazing that the NRA is picking a fight with the largest holder of guns in the world and that is our military establishment.

There is a rash of suicides in the armed forces now and they want  to be sure that soldiers that show signs of killing themselves do not have ready access to a gun. I just don’t understand why those supposedly five million people who are members of the NRA are not complaining about the leaders of that organization?  I certainly don’t think all five million of them are nut cases who have multiple stashes of weapons and ammunitions.  If they are, as some suppose, mostly people who just enjoy hunting and killing animals as recreation why would they be supporting such radicals as their leaders.

Another thing I can’t understand is why the NRA has so much supposed power. Their total membership make up about  1.5% of the population? Why are so many afraid of them. I imagine that Michael Bloomberg alone has more money than these guys ever dream of having so where does their might come from?

Jim WallisI got another of those wrenching emails from my friend Jim Wallis over at Sojourners. He sends out a weekly email entitled “Hearts & Minds”.  Here is part of the content:

In the past 20 years, the world has witnessed the death of social contracts. We have seen a massive breakdown in trust between citizens, their economies, and their governments. In our own country, we can point to years of data painting a bleak picture of the confidence Americans have in any of our traditional institutions.

Former assumptions and shared notions about fairness, agreements, reciprocity, mutual benefits, social values, and expected futures have all but disappeared. The collapse of financial systems and the resulting economic crisis not only have caused instability, insecurity, and human pain; they have also generated a growing disbelief and fundamental distrust in the way things operate and how decisions are made. 

Sometimes we just don’t see the forest for the trees so to speak. So, when I saw the words above I was almost shocked with their simplicity. Could it really be that simple that we have just lost trust in each other to do what we think is right?

In our country one group doesn’t trust the other to not give away the country to those who are gaming the system. In return that group does not trust the other to not jerk the safety net out from senior citizens and the helpless.  As a result of the mutual distrust we have lost almost any sense of shared values. We no longer trust our government and almost everything else  for that matter. This lack of trust is not only a U.S. thing, it is a world-wide problem.

Is it even possible to restore a lost trust?  The final paragraph in this email maybe points us to a way to finding solutions:

Lack of trust is bad for politics, bad for business, and bad for overall public morale. It undermines people’s sense of participation in society as well as their feelings of social responsibility, and makes them feel isolated and alone—more worried about survival than interested in solidarity. Because the “contract” was broken, a sense of “covenant” is now needed, fused with a sense of moral values and commitments. And the process of formulating new social covenants could be an important part of finding solutions. 

To me a covenant is more than just a signed agreement between two parties as its definition implies. It is more along the lines of the biblical covenant between God and us that he will never forsake us.  The email is mainly about the World Economic Forum now taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The forum is looking to the future and asking “what now?”  It is  kicking off a year-long global conversation about a new “social covenant” between citizens, governments, and businesses. I will be watching for news about it.

I’m not much of a believer in forums, committees, and such actually accomplishing anything of the magnitude needed to address this issue but maybe a single spark from the forum could just kick off a world-wide event. We can only pray that it be so….

This is a continuation of our study of Thomas Jefferson to discount the belief that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He started out and spent much of his life as a deist. That is he believed in the presence of God in the world but did not proclaim it as a Christian presence. Later in life after he was president he undertook a serious study of the Christian Bible and other religious documents.

He took this study to the point of making his own version of the New Testament. Many are confused by the Jefferson Bible. They wonder why he as a faithful Christian would even attempt to redo such a holy document. Below is part of the explanation why he did this: Continue Reading…

Banner - About Life

PrintI just got finished reading a blog post with the above title. The conclusion that the author came to was therefore to do only those things that make you happy. While this very narcissistic world view is pretty prominent today it all comes down to “what makes you happy?” That question alone could fill a library. Happiness is a very transcendent term. I have lived on this earth longer than many and I have come to the conclusion that when you focus your life totally on yourself you will never reach any significant level of true  happiness.

Everyone, especially those of us who are beyond mid-life are very aware that death could be just around the corner. Maybe that is the only thing we “have” to do but there are a lot of things in our lives before that inevitable condition.  When I originally saw the post I immediately pre-supposed that the author would continue the sentence with “Everything else is a choice”. The author of this post it turns out is a young girl currently attending college so I guess I should excuse her for taking what I consider a pretty shallow approach to this deeply philosophical statement. I’m pretty sure that as she accumulates knowledge she will see quite different answers to this question. Continue Reading…

Banner -In The News

Source: Grover Norquist: The tax pledge is forever | Power Players – Yahoo! News.

Never copyThis week, Spinners and Winners went to Americans for Tax Reform to talk to the man behind the pledge. ‘The Taxpayer Protection Pledge’ has been signed by virtually every Republican office holder over the last 20 years, binding congressman, senators, and governors to promise no tax increases of any kind, ever. There’s talk that pledge is now dead, but as you can see, Grover Norquist is not backing down.

Those who have disavowed the pledge — such Senators Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz. — will hear from their constituents, Norquist says.

“I think that people should keep their commitment to voters. I think they need to if they get elected with an open promise, they should keep that promise to voters,” says the founder of Americans for Tax Reform.

We all know that Washington D.C. is about power. It consumes almost anyone who goes there. I’m absolutely sure that is also the reason behind Grover Norquist’s words above. He sees himself losing power after so many years and is doing anything possible to hang on to it.  He seems kind of like McCarthy in the 1950s who gained power by accusing many there of being a communist. He dominated the Senate for several years until one person took him down with one utterance. “Have you no shame!”. Continue Reading…

Banner -Off The Top

DeliveryI must admit that I am a loyal customer of Amazon. I pay an extra $79 a year to have two-day free delivery of almost everything I buy and I buy quite a bit from them. I get many things the next day. It amazes me just how quickly they can get my order to me!

Another company that amazes me is Google. If I have a question on just about anything I can get many different views on the subject usually within a minute or two.  I can remember in high school and even college spending hours in the library scouring through twenty-four book encyclopedias and many other books to find a minute amount of info I can now get in seconds.

Continue Reading…

Source: Obama’s Speech Is Urgent Call for Progressive Values – NYTimes.com.

Inauguration SpeechMr. Obama came to office four years ago all but consumed by what he inherited: two wars and an economy in free fall. He then confronted an exhausting series of crises and political problems at home and abroad: budget showdowns, a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Middle East turmoil, the rise of the Tea Party movement.

Through it all, he chose to wage additional battles of choice, most notably his successful push to overhaul the health insurance system. But not until this point, with the economy gradually mending, one war over and another winding down, with Osama bin Laden dead and the Democratic Party drawing strength from the nation’s changing demographics, has he had the opportunity to master his own presidency.

The beginning of President Obama’s second term is an opportune time to look back on his presidency.  I have mentioned several times on this blog how disappointed I was about how he seemingly abandoned his rhetoric of the 2008 campaign trail once he got into office. I will admit here that much of that criticism was unwarranted. Continue Reading…

The Sun…..

January 22, 2013

Banner -Off The Top

ConserveI want to warn you up front here that I am putting on my “green” hat now. I don’t mention the fact that I am green often on this blog but it is yet another thing that I have at least a degree of passion for. I try to do my part in energy conservation. One part of that is to daily follow my wife around the house and turn off the lights she constantly leaves on. :)  But another more serious part is preaching to anyone who will listen about our dependence on fossil fuels and how it is hurting the earth. Continue Reading…

Banner -In The News

source: Should US export natural gas? Study for DOE fuels fiery debate. – CSMonitor.com.

“If exporting [LNG] means accelerated development, then we will more rapidly deplete natural gas resources that could help sustain future generations of Americans, leading to higher prices as resources diminish,” he wrote.

This was a rather lengthy article (3 pages) and it was not until the last paragraph (shown above) did the question “what is good for the nation?” actually come up. Throughout the article it was widely acknowledged that if we allow natural gas to be exported it will result in significantly higher natural gas and electric costs to us. It was also stated the winners in this ploy would be those who own large amounts of stock in the natural gas industry; i.e.. the 1%ers.

It seems strange to me, but I’m just an ordinary guy, that we even talk about exporting an energy product while we are a huge energy importer via our oil imports from the Middle East.  Our seemingly never-ending need for more oil has gotten us into most of the problems we have had in the last forty or more years.

We need to look at this from a standpoint of what is good for the nation as a whole including our present circumstances and our future generations. In my mind our natural resources are nationally owned. Just because someone has the title to a piece of land does not mean that they should own everything under it. Of course our nation of lawyers will tell you that is wishful thinking.  But, then again maybe its time we actually acted on some wishful thoughts instead of letting the hyper-rich decide these things for us….