Saturday, August 16, 2008

What is a Christian?

I probably have mentioned this before, but I am a Christian. And, as we are all aware, there are at least two types of Christians. There are, as Marcus Borg likes to say in his books, those of the earlier paradigm and those of the emerging paradigm. In our congregation, we have both types represented and we love one another and do not worry about the differences in our theology.

Many people have left the Christian church because of they are not able to reconcile some of the typical Christian beliefs with the later findings of science, theology, and history. Others stay with the church yet are struggling with the beliefs they learned in their childhood that they feel they must be able to accept to remain Christian. Many of those under forty, have never had much experience with Christianity and cannot find anything that draws them to it yet are looking for something to give life meaning and values.

However, I have found in my own serious spiritual search that there are no serious intellectual obstacles to being Christian There is a way of looking at Christianity that makes persuasive and compelling sense of life in the broadest sense. This point of view took several years for me to develop. For about ten years, Christianity did not make much sense to me at all. Certainly, the form of Christianity from my youth ceased to make much sense to me anymore .

The earlier paradigm is definitely the dominant Christianity in America today. It includes those who view the Bible as the unique revelation of God and emphasizes it's literal meaning. This same group sees living the Christian life now as a means of salvation later. It also generally views Christianity as the only true religion.

Yet there are literally millions of folks out there who are looking for a religion that makes intellectual sense to them. This movement has been developing over the past hundred years or so. It is a product of Christianity's encounter with the modern and postmodern world. This encounter includes science, religious pluralism, cultural diversity and historical scholarship. On a less positive note, the movement is also aware of how Christianity has contributed to harmful ideologies such as racism, sexism, exclusivism, and nationalism.

In order to embrace Christianity in the modern world, many of us have had to examine what my church calls "core values" but what Marcus Borg calls the "heart of Christianity"...the really important things that tug at our hearts. So what is most central to Christianity and the Christian walk?

Out of my own personal search of recorded scripture, I have discovered one thing that really matters to me. It appears, at least from the material we have that has endured, that the message of Jesus was not the message of personal salvation. It was a message of transforming society. Jesus taught "the kingdom of God on earth" in a day when kingdoms were the dominant form of government. In literally dozens of places in the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying the "gospel" is his teaching about building the kingdom...what we, in today's world, would call building community....changing the society in which we live.

To me, that is the larger message of Jesus and it is that message I emphasize when I preach. I am involved in the communities our congregation serves. I believe that is necessary to help build communities into places Jesus would be comfortable and proud to call his disciples.


Life is all about choices.

A friend sent me this e-mail.


John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... You can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood." Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood."

"You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life." I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left my job to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins..Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. He continued, "..the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John. "She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled--Gravity!" Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude... I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34.

After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

You have two choices now:
1. Delete this
2. Share it with the people you care about.

You know the choice I made.

I feel this way myself. One of my favorite sayings, and one I live by is, "You are just about as healthy as you choose to be."

Many people really seem to like to be ill. They emphasize it constantly and talk about their various illnesses incessantly. I despise being ill and therefore, I seldom am. I find the more I emphasize how well I am and what good health I have, the better I feel. I am really blessed with good genes. I am nearly 73 years old and take no meds. I feel about as good as I did at 35.

I went to see the eye doctor Thursday and he said, "You are one of the few people I know your age who does not take meds." I said, "You know what is even more amazing? Bob is 78 and takes no meds. If he didn't have an occasional skin cancer, he would be in perfect health."

I am a big believer in the power of the mind over the body.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Doctor's Appointment

We went to Bartlesville today to see Dr. Smith about my left foot, which has been swollen for a week now. At one point it hurt too but after a day of Naproxen, that pain went away. he x-rayed it but could not find anything wrong with it.

Afterward, we went by the Stage store so I could pick up a shirt they ordered in for me.

Then last of all we went by Lowe's. We found a door mat for our front porch that is large enough to keep us from dragging dirt and grass into the living room.

Our son, Scott, is to come this afternoon from Missouri. It has been about a month since he has been here. We are anxious to see him again. I will fix pork cutlets with mashed potatoes and gravy and we will have corn on the cob and salad with that. Then I will make an apple brown betty for dessert. He does love to eat home cooking.

The poor guy is still looking for the perfect woman. He wants to remarry as soon as he finds her. This is a recent picture of him.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Social Security quote from Obama and Roosevelt

"On this anniversary of Social Security, let’s reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that Social Security remains a safety net that seniors can count on today, tomorrow, and always. It is impossible to fully measure Social Security’s value for its recipients, as well as for those who look after and love them. Nearly 13 million seniors depend on it each month to keep from falling into poverty, and millions more depend on survivor and disability benefits to protect their retirement.

As President, I will protect Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations. That means strengthening Social Security’s solvency while protecting middle class families from benefit cuts, tax increases or increases in the retirement age. It means treating Social Security not as a political football or describing it as an “absolute disgrace,” but instead honoring it as the cornerstone of the social compact in this country. And it means opposing efforts to privatize Social Security, as I did when President Bush proposed risky private accounts a few years ago...."

And from James Roosevelt Jr. this quote:

"It's hard to remember now, but before Social Security, nearly half of America's seniors lived in poverty. After a lifetime of playing by the rules and working hard, there was no guarantee of a secure retirement.

"My grandfather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a majority of Americans thought that was wrong.

"They believed that lifting our seniors out of poverty is a reflection of our nation's core values.

"That's why my grandfather signed the Social Security act seventy three years ago today. One of the great successes of the 20th Century, today Social Security lifts nearly 13 million seniors and 1.3 million children out of poverty.

"Back in 1935, a small minority did not share those values. They opposed the creation of Social Security because they believed that government should not have a role in ensuring a retirement with dignity or helping seniors stay out of poverty. They said, "You're on your own".

"John McCain agrees with that old way of thinking. Like President Bush, he wants to privatize our Social Security, turning it into a gamble with our futures, and making 8.6 million American seniors vulnerable to poverty. John McCain has even said Social Security is "a disgrace".

"I couldn't disagree more.

"Our Social Security isn't a disgrace; it's a compact, a trust between generations of Americans. It's a reflection of our values.

"On the 70th anniversary of Social Security, Americans stood together and said no to George Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security.

"On this anniversary, let's make sure John McCain hears the same message. Tell John McCain to keep his hands off of our Social Security."

Service Projects and Peace

Well, today is my eye appointment and we will go to breakfast at Caney Kitchen afterwards. We took our school supplies over yesterday morning before we went to Sedan to take daughter, Leslie, to lunch. The school was so delighted. We were the first people to ever donate school supplies for low income children. Our church is very small but we have a lot of service projects. In years past, we have donated the school supplies to the Coffeyville and Independence schools but we soon learned other organizations also did that and they both had plenty each year. Caney, on the other hand, has no benefactor at all. Our 25 people will find that small school ideal for their service project.

We also support a school for children in the Dominican Republic, help support financially two programs (FAST in Independence and Genesis in Coffeyville) that help low income people pay their rent and utilities when they get in a bind. We collect groceries for a small food basket in our church. At Christmas time we do the Christmas Child boxes and also adopt one or two families who need assistance purchasing Christmas gifts for their children. We also provide them with the makings of Christmas dinner, turkey and all. We are a small group but we try to stay busy with worthwhile service projects.

We think it is very important to try to build community in our help people in our families, neighborhoods, and communities live in peace. Otherwise, the world will never learn to live in peace. Our church has a Peace Colloquy each year and honors someone worldwide who had made building peaceful communities their goal.

There is more news about the Peace Colloquy at this site. Community of Christ I have three friends who are attending with me this year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scrapbooking for Fun

My one hobby is scrap booking. I have been scrap booking for eight years. I have made one a year for Bob and myself and also made one Heritage album for each of our three grown children. I have also made an Iraq deployment album for our eldest son, Keith, who was deployed with the National Guard at the age of 50 to Iraq three years ago. He suffers from post traumatic syndrome since.

I have made a Bosnia album for our younger son, Scott, who was deployed there as a peace keeper before the present warmonger president and his administration were in office. He is career Army. Then I made him an Iraq album for each of his three deployments there since 2001. The boys e-mailed me home their pictures and I saved them on my hard drive and had them printed off for their scrapbooks. That has been one of the most appreciated Christmas gifts I have ever given them.

Now I am in the process of writing our family's story for a CD in the back of each of their Heritage albums.

We will go to the market in a little while and buy a few groceries. After we put those away, we will drive over to Sedan, Kansas to take our daughter to lunch. She and her husband are leaving tomorrow for their vacation in Colorado.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my eye doctor over to Caney, Kansas. We will deliver our school supplies over there at the elementary school afterward. Our congregation bought school supplies for the low income children at that school for one of our service projects.

Friday, I have a doctor's appointment in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Last Friday, my left foot swelled on top in the night and got very sore. I took Naproxen Sodium and the pain went away and I went back to sleep but the swelling has continued so I will go try to find out what is causing it. I am hoping it will go away before then.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Exerpted from Paul Krugman

"What’s easy about guaranteed health care for all? For one thing, we know that it’s economically feasible: every wealthy country except the United States already has some form of guaranteed health care. The hazards Americans treat as facts of life — the risk of losing your insurance, the risk that you won’t be able to afford necessary care, the chance that you’ll be financially ruined by medical costs — would be considered unthinkable in any other advanced nation.

The politics of guaranteed care are also easy, at least in one sense: if the Democrats do manage to establish a system of universal coverage, the nation will love it.

I know that’s not what everyone says; some pundits claim that the United States has a uniquely individualistic culture, and that Americans won’t accept any system that makes health care a collective responsibility. Those who say this, however, seem to forget that we already have a program — you may have heard of it — called Medicare. It’s a program that collects money from every worker’s paycheck and uses it to pay the medical bills of everyone 65 and older. And it’s immensely popular.

There’s every reason to believe that a program that extends universal coverage to the non-elderly would soon become equally popular. Consider the case of Massachusetts, which passed a state-level plan for universal coverage two years ago.

The Massachusetts plan has come in for a lot of criticism. It includes individual mandates — that is, people are required to buy coverage, even if they’d prefer to take their chances. And its costs are running much higher than expected, mainly because it turns out that there were more people without insurance than anyone realized.

Yet recent polls show overwhelming support for the plan — support that has grown stronger since it went into effect, despite the new system’s teething troubles. Once a system of universal health coverage exists, it seems, people want to keep it.

So why be nervous about the prospects for reform? Because it’s hard to get universal care established in the first place. There are, I’d argue, three big hurdles.

First, the Democrats have to win the election — and win it by enough to face down Republicans, who are still, 42 years after Medicare went into operation, denouncing “socialized medicine.”

Second, they have to overcome the public’s fear of change.

Some health care reformers wanted the Democrats to endorse a single-payer, Medicare-type system for all. On the sheer economic merits, they’re right: single-payer would be more efficient than a system that preserves a role for private insurance companies.

But it’s better to have an imperfect universal health care plan than none at all — and the only way to get a universal health care plan passed soon is to inoculate it against Harry-and-Louise-type claims that people will be forced into plans “designed by government bureaucrats.” So the Democratic platform emphasizes choice, declaring that Americans “should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan.” We’ll see if that’s enough.

The final hurdle facing health care reform is the risk that the next president and Congress will lose focus. There will be many problems crying out for solutions, from a weak economy to foreign policy crises. It will be easy and tempting to put health care on the back burner for a bit — and then forget about it."

Life in a Jar

Life in a Jar is the story of a woman who saved 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.

On Sunday, October 5, 2008, a production of Life in a Jar will take place in Pittsburg, Kansas at 3 P.M., in the Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium, at Fifth & Pine, one block west of Broadway. The performance is the story of Irena Sendler, more information is online at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pickens Plan

I learned on PBS this evening that T. Boone Pickens was the person who financed the swift boat ads that defeated John Kerry in the last election. That disgusts me. That was as dirty an ad campaign as Bush's people who called the voters in South Carolina and telling them he had fathered a black baby. The child, of course, was his adopted Cambodian child but the night before the election was too late for him to explain that. He lost South Carolina.

How I hate dirty politics.

Doctor's Morals

We had a rude awakening today. We got the bill for Bob's left eye cataract surgery and the part Medicare did not pay was $663. That means we will have to pay that. Then we got his doctor's bill too and they charged $60 for an EKG that the eye doctor ordered before he would do the surgery and Medicare denied that because it was connected to the eye surgery. That's just one eye. He has an appointment to do the other eye a week from this Wednesday. Also, we will have to pay for the nurse anesthesiologist and that will be several hundred dollars more for each eye. Medicare pays nothing on that charge.

Bob has no supplemental insurance. He had his supplement with his company and he retired in 1985. A couple of years after his retirement his company changed carriers from Travelers to Met Life. They changed the deductible from $50. to $1350. We were still paying $139. a month for the insurance and then paying the doctor's bills too. In 22 years, we only collected on his insurance once. So we were out all those premiums as well as the remainder of the 20% of the bill. So we dropped it and saved the premium. Bob has had two melanoma and seven squamous cell carcinoma. Because he works part time for FEMA, we have managed to pay those hospital and doctor bills. But the retirement money we had in 1985, that was supposed to have lasted us for the rest of our lives, is nearly gone. Inflation has eaten it up. Now Bob is deaf and has had these cataracts and so he is limited in what he can do for FEMA so we are in a quandary about what we can do to supplement our income. He is 78 and I am 72...nearly 73.

Now perhaps you can understand why we (Bob and I) are in favor of socialized medicine like the European people have. My British friends tell me the doctors and hospitals were dead set against socialized medicine initially but are delighted with it now and wouldn't have it any other way. My British friends extol the quality health care they receive and do not seem to mind the cost.

Europeans get 6 weeks paid vacation a year and many other wonderful benefits. We are eons behind them in understanding how to take care of people's needs in my estimation.

With what we have paid for this war and by reinstating the initial tax on those who earn over $250,000 a year, we could pay for medical care for everyone in America.

Capitalism which is greed driven, has ruined our country. The rich have become embarrassingly richer and the poor have become even poorer and the middle class, of which we were once a member, is fast disappearing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner After Church

Bob and I asked the young couple with two small children to go to dinner with us after church. She is a manager of Bank of America branches in three cities. He is an engineer. They have two lovely children. One is 5 and the other is 7. We had a nice lunch. It took Bob and me back 45 years when we were rearing our own children. We shared a couple of stories with them.

When Keith, who is now 53, was five, he was constantly threatening to run away from home. Finally, I was tired of it. I told him to go ahead and run away from home. I asked him where he was going and he told me he was going to go live with grandma. He packed his bag and took off. I held my breath. He walked way around the curve and sat down on the curb there. I could see him sitting there. I took his three year old sister and baby brother and put them in the car. We drove by him and stopped the car. I rolled down the window and said, "Why are you sitting here? I thought you were gong to live with grandma.' He said, "I don't know where she lives." I said, "Well, that's your problem. We are going up to the drug staore to get a coke. If you will never threaten to run away from home again, you are welcome to come go with us." He thought a minute and got in the car. That was the last time I heard about "running away from home." Needless to say, I was relieved.

The second story was about our daughter. Leslie was a terrible eater. We had a family rule. You didn't have to put much food on your plate but you had to eat all of it if you wanted dessert. Leslie didn't get dessert until she was eight. Sometimes she would be sitting in the kitchen for an hour after the rest of us had finished. Finally it appeared she was doing better and we thought we had finally won that battle. Then one evening, I was scrubbing the kitchen floor and got a whiff of something really rotten. I finally tracked it down. The round oak kitchen table had a small box where the two sides of the table came together. In that little box, under the table, were several dozen paper napkins filled with rotten food. She had been stuffing it in there instead of eating it.

Needless t say, she got a blistering.

I had forgotten the challenge of rearing children until we shared those stories..

Sansego's Site

This is another of my favorite reading blogs. This man is a real amateur political analyst and I enjoy reading his opinions. I don't always agree with them but he certainly gives one something to think about. Look for him at Sansego's Site

Betty's Site

Betty's Site

I am going to try to learn how to make a link to another's page. This is something new for me so we'll see if it works.

Betty's site is a great read with lots of opinion. It's called A Piece of My Mind. Try it and see.