I Know, I Know…

I know it’s been awhile since I posted here. As I have said before, Spring/Summer are my busiest times. I am about to go on my second uRV trip of the year and then there is the 2 1/2 acre homestead to mow and maintain.  Spring is a busy time for me but it is by far the best time of year as far as I am concerned.

In a meager way to fill the gap in posts I thought I would give you a few pictures of what I am talking about. At least that will let you know that I have not died or have any serious problems. Just busy is all. 🙂

The Alienated…

HavingMySay Banner  I read an interesting article in the New York Times recently trying to figure out the alienated voters who put the current guy in the Oval Office. There were some aspects of the article that I had not fully considered.

canstockphoto2803671Angry voters made a few things abundantly clear: that modern democratic capitalism is not working for them; that basic institutions like the family and communities are falling apart..

The alienated long for something that will smash the system or change their situation, but they have no actual plan or any means to deliver it. The alienated are a hodgepodge of disparate groups. They have no positive agenda beyond the sort of fake shiny objects Trump ran on (Build a Wall!). They offer up no governing class competent enough to get things done.

canstockphoto13269971.jpgNow I will admit that American Capitalism has morphed into something different in my lifetime. In the 1960s the majority of the GDP was generated by government spending for the common good.  The Interstate highway system was one of those things. Then sometime in the 1980s people started thinking that spending for the general welfare of the country was a bad thing and that  resulted in the move more to depending on individual consumerism to drive the economy.  That along with the corresponding unwillingness to pay taxes inevitably resulting in a sharp disparity between the rich and the poor in our society. Those with large disposable income ignored the old saying “with wealth comes responsibility”. American Capitalism just isn’t the same as it used to be. So now in order for the American economy to continue to prosper each of us must spend more and more as each year passes and of course with the current situation that means we go deeper and deeper into unsustainable debt.

The main eye-opener in the quote above is that in reality the disenchanted that resulted in our current president is by no means a homogeneous group. Instead it is, as the article said a hodgepodge of many different groups.  The neo-Nazis and other anarchistic groups who are looking to take everything down were one supporting group.  At the other end of the scale are perhaps those who for the most part are uneducated and poorly trained for today’s competitive society. They want America Great again and to them that is to mean high paying jobs for unskilled and unprepared workers.

In between are other diverse groups who feel left behind by all the progress of the last three decades. Many live in once prosperous rural areas where jobs have continued to erode due to automation and the simple fact that producing food for the populace requires significantly less labor.

Some others are senior citizens who just want the world to stop spinning so they can get off.  Being such a wide variety of dissenters these disenfranchised have no particular agenda nor any representatives who has any hope of achieving them even if they could be identified.

I hope that these times will become a lesson for future voters to realize that you need to be for things more than you are against.  In other words, you need to have a dream of what might be and not just scream about how bad things are. I don’t know if that will be the lesson learned or if we will continue to spiral downward until democracy is no longer sustainable? That is the question for our times.

 

Epilog:  A ranter who tried to comment on this post reminded me of a group that I did not include.  That is those people who are so entangled in their current mindset that they will vote for ANYONE who even kidnaps their party’s nomination.

Religion In America – Bishop Hill

This week’s Religion in America post will be about Bishop Hill in central Illinois.  Like last week’s post it is about a group who escaped a State sanctioned Lutheran system of belief in the mid 1800s. This time it is from Sweden but pretty much mirrors that of Zoar Village story from Germany.

This group settled into a communal colony where everything was held in common. But unlike most religious colonies escaping to America. Bishop Hill was more intense/fundamental than the one that they escaped from and were often in bitter opposition to many other versions of Lutheranism in America.

Here is a little about what Wikipedia says of Bishop Hill’s founder:

The village was founded in 1846 by Swedish immigrants affiliated with the Pietist movement, led by Erik Jansson. Prior to founding the Bishop Hill Colony, Jansson preached to his followers in Sweden about what he considered to be the abominations of the Lutheran Church and emphasized the doctrine that the faithful were without sin.

This story is common to many religious groups established in America. It was primarily founded around a strong and charismatic leader who chose a few particular verses in one version or another holy document to concentrate on.  But this same thing was also typical of other world religions. Lutheranism, which was founded by Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation about 500 years ago when he became fixated on “works” not being important to God and uttering words of faith being the primary purpose of religion.  Some say this was due to an overwhelming inferiority complex by Luther. When he found the words from St. Paul (not Jesus) “you are saved by faith, not works” it became by far the most important aspect of his version of religion.

Getting back to the story at hand in 1854 when Jansson was assassinated by a former member and six years later the communal contract ended due to mismanagement.  There are some common historic buildings left at the site but most of the dwellings in the village are now privately owned.

The Good Old Days??

HavingMySay Banner   Everything has two sides, a good side and a dark side, a happy side and a sad side, but nothing is totally black and white.  How’s that for an opening sentence. 🙂

canstockphoto30875540.jpgThe main crux for this post is about all those who want the “good old days” back  as to mean when we didn’t have so much technology in our lives. They constantly complain about how so many people seem to be glued to their cell phones and such. But if they thought it through would they really like to go back fifty year or more?

Would they give up all the medical advances that technology has provided? I personally recently had a traumatic brain event that would more than likely killed me if it were 50 years ago. Today, with all the advanced imaging techniques they could precisely determine the locations and severity of my brain bleed and fix it with a two hour surgery.  So, personally I can answer that I am very grateful for all the technology advances of the last fifty year. Especially in the medical field.

I can remember in college when I had to write some papers on a subject I had to spend hours going through the card files at the university library and then spend even more hours finding and studying the sources that were on those cards.  Writing a routine paper was usually a twenty hour event.  Today most questions can be answered with a Google search which takes seconds to do. We can all learn about almost any subject at least enough to be dangerous in a matter of minutes. 🙂 How many of us would give all that up and return to all those dusty 3 x 5 index cards?

I can remember as a kid living close to the “Army Finance Center” in Indianapolis. It was a HUGE building containing about 4,000 desks and probably 50,000 filing cabinets. The job of all these people was to issue the monthly paychecks to military personnel. Today that job is probably handled in closet sized space and a couple racks of computers.

For at least us guys out there I know we wouldn’t want to go back to having our wives nag us to ask for directions when we are traveling.  Even when we did stop most often those directions were either wrong or too complicated to remember.  Then there was the time when we were visiting a southern State and they gave us completely bogus directions because they saw our plates were from a northern State.  I thank God for GPS and would never want to go back to what is was fifty years ago.

Ok, just one last example and I will let this all rest.  Fifty years ago an average car lasted for about 40,000 miles before it was a complete junk.  It probably got no more than a dozen or so miles per gallon and broke down on a monthly basis.  Fast forward to today and my little 2012 Chevy Sonic gets 35 mpg and has had nothing but a few very minor problems. It should easily last for 200,000 miles or more. And it has twelve airbags to protect me in case of an accident.

If you really want to give up all these and thousands of other things then by all means do it.  But, don’t ask the rest of us to join you in your retrograde desires.

RV Museum..

ISOA Banner

My uRV
My uRV.. I’m kind of proud of how it turned out.

On my most recent uRV trip I visited the RV Museum in Elkhart Indiana.  Being that I have spent the last three years converting my twenty-five year old pickup truck with a six foot cap into a rat-rod micro-RV I wanted to learn a little more about the beginnings of that idea.

2017-05-24_16-07-57
Mine is kind of similar…

John Steinbeck, who as one of my favorite authors when I was growing, up wrote a book entitled “Travels with Charley” about when he custom built a pickup truck into an RV he named Rocinante (Don Quixote’s horse) and traveled around the country with it. I have read that book at least a dozen times now and it was the inspiration for me making my own version of vehicle and doing the same thing, sort of…

Anyway, the RV Museum was an interesting visit. There were many historic vehicles on display. Most seemed to be from California. I don’t really know why northwest Indiana became the RV-manufacturing capital, that is a story I will have to study up on that.

Here are some pictures from that visit.

As usual click on any pic to see a larger slideshow view 

Religion In America – Zoar Village Ohio

ISOA Banner    I will start off this series of religion in America with the latest place I visited and that is Zoar Village in central Ohio.  I visited here last summer on one of my frequent micro-RV trips.  As is common in many historical religious settlements it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

2017-05-21_09-41-38.pngMost of the info for this post was obtained from the book shown to the right which contains hundreds of pictures of the village throughout its history.  The book was purchased at the village but is also available from Amazon.

Zoar village was settled by Lutheran separatists escaping persecution in Germany in the early 1800s. In Germany at that time the state and church were one and the same. It ran the schools and most civic ceremonies. A group of “Zoarites” or “Separatists” as they were called refused to attend the mandated church, or to send their kids to church run schools and because of their non-violence beliefs refused to serve in the army. As a result many were flogged, imprisoned, had their children and land stripped from them and turned over to the state.

With the help of English Quakers they emigrated to America.  The American Quakers also helped them initially settle near Philadelphia.  But Joseph Bimeler, who became their leader during their three month journey to America had no patience for the well-meaning Quakers and found land in “far-off” Ohio for his group to settle and thus the village of Zoar Ohio was formed.

Separatists had an abiding faith in the Bible and thought that each person should have a “direct” relationship with God.  They also believed in the imminent return of Christ so each individual had to purge himself or herself of evil and become a living example of virtue.  In rebellion to the church they left their worship services were stripped of all ceremony.  Because of the imminent return they also believed in celibacy which demanded that households be divided by sex. That practice ended after about ten years.

By about 1850 the population of Zoar had reached about 500 and land values of the town exceeded $1 million.  However a year later Bimeler died and no one was able to successfully take his place,  and as a result that started years of decline of the town. In March of 1898 to society of Zoar formally decided to disband and everything was basically sold at auction soon thereafter. The remaining 200 or so members were given $200 and a piece of real estate.

As we will learn in future posts on this subject the final fate of the village was similar to many other religious settlements. Today the village of Zoar is struggling to find the resources to maintain the town.  It has lost much of its attraction as a tourist site which kept it going for some time.

Click on any pic below to see a larger slideshow view..