your turn

So today is an open invitation…  just like all days, you are free to comment, although today, I want to wholeheartedly encourage you.  This is your opportunity to influence and encourage one another.


What issues are driving your vote this November?  What concerns you?


My desire this day is to have you write the blog.


The ground rules are this:

1.  As always, be respectful.  That means no disparaging terms describing any candidate, person, or people group.

2.  Be brief.  In order to have an interactive discussion that informs and challenges, let’s try not to talk too much, but rather, get to the point.  Sometimes we say more with fewer words.

3.  Be factual and specific.  Too many people base their concern (and their vote) on perspectives beginning with “it seems like” or “I feel.”  The oversight with that approach is that individual experience often trumps truth. I would encourage you as much as possible to be factual and objective, remembering that a subjective approach has significant potential to distort reality.

4.  If sharing any external link, utilize an objective source.  Hence, nothing from MSNBC or, for example, qualifies as objective.  And…

5.  Be witty.  It’s actually not a ground rule.  I just appreciate wit.


Ok, friends, comment.  Drive the discussion.  What issues concern you most this coming election?




sensitivity or respect

It began approximately 35 years ago…


A unique, fairly sensational photograph was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition.  The 1987 photo focuses on  a small cross… with Jesus Christ nailed to the boards.  Christ and the cross are then submerged in the “artist’s” urine.


One more detail…  The competition was sponsored in part by American tax dollars, as the National Endowment for the Arts was involved in the funding.


Having been since damaged after being exhibited in multiple international museums, the artwork — entitled “Piss Christ” — is returning to Manhattan this coming Thursday.




Meanwhile, across the globe, Muslim extremists are fighting and protesting and engaging in anti-American, violent behavior.  In Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Libya, Kashmir, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan… tens of thousands of protestors are burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.  There’s startling video of children in Pakistan, out on the streets, shouting “Death to America!”  The outrage — and extent of the outrage — is troubling indeed.  Some days the possibility of world peace seems so incredibly unattainable and far away.


The American government’s response has been fascinating.  They continue to focus on a brief video made by one American.  They have denounced the video that some purported to have spontaneously fueled the protestors’ passion; however, most intelligence now acknowledges that the initial 9/11 Islamic attacks were intentional, planned, and possibly coordinated; the video was not the primary instigator.


Our government, no less, has denounced this video.  Pres. Obama and Sec. of State Clinton have even appeared on Pakistani television — paying for commercials that publicly share their stern denouncement; they do not approve.


The truth is, the Intramuralist doesn’t care for the video either.  While I will always advocate for a factual analysis of faith — noting what’s inherent in any religion that prompts such erratic, brutal behavior — I will also advocate for a respect for all religions.  Let me be clear; respect is not the same as acceptance as equally good and true.


The challenge for me today then is this…


Our government has clearly denounced any disrespect for Islam.  Since his early days in office, Pres. Obama has been very supportive and consistent in reaching out to the Islamic world.  America is not at war against Islam.  We are not.  We are at war against terrorism — which in this instance, has been initiated by Islamic fundamentalists.  Pres. Obama has attempted to mend many of the misconceptions within those efforts.


Yet in what seems to be a very intentional approach, I remain fascinated…


We denounce the video that seemingly disrespects Muslims.  And yet… we are quiet about something labeled as “art,” that defiles the Jewish Messiah in Manhattan.


Our government is quiet.


I don’t totally get this, truthfully.  I mean, I know there are partisan faithful who talk so loudly on radio and TV that they try to influence the rest of us in this area.  I get kind of tired of hearing them.  (Yes, I often fast.)  But it seems to me there is some sort of added sensitivity of the Muslim world and faith that our government does not freely nor generously extend to other religions…  I don’t understand how our government called the shooting in Ft. Hood by the Muslim man “workplace violence,” but the Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee by the caucasian man was instantly referred to as “terrorism.”  Aren’t they both terrorism?  Can’t we call them that?


What are we afraid of?  Are we afraid of how the extremists will respond?  Are we trying to ignore the violent extremists — and attempting to promote Islam as always peaceful?  And if the government is wrestling with how to truly separate church and state, shouldn’t they be supporting both the Muslim video and the defiling of Jesus Christ in the name of free speech?  … or denouncing both?  Why one and not the other?


I don’t understand.  I don’t understand whether this is actually respect or hyper-sensitivity.  I’ve simply observed that the treatment is not the same.




mideast violence

Violence has erupted in the Arab states.  The violence has come from Muslims and is motivated by their angst against America and Americans.  Friends, let’s be honest; this is tough to talk about.  Muslims — both here in America and abroad — are highly suspicious of America’s intentions in the world, and some Americans see every Muslim as a potential terrorist. There are obviously reasons behind both of these perceptions, but this only means that we must work harder at communicating clearly and not allowing perspective to be blinded by passion.  As is Intramuralist principle, we will distinguish between fact vs. fiction and what we know for sure.  Why are the Islamists protesting?


Initially some made mention of the Muslims being motivated by a YouTube video.  Noting that the violent behavior began on 911 in multiple places — and that the 13 minute trailer was first posted on July 1st — the notion that the mayhem is solely about the movie minimizes the reality.  A summer of 2012 Pew Research poll found that fewer than 1-in-5 Egyptians, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Turks possess a favorable view of the United States.  Many Muslims dislike America.  Some call it hate.  Why?


Since each of the above governments have significant Islamic leaders — and noting that Muslims have little familiarity with the concept of separation between church and state — we must evaluate the core of Islamic beliefs.  Note that this analysis is similar to the Intramuralist’s previous analysis of Scientology, and it will also be evident in our future dissection of Mormonism (as requested by popular demand).


Often argued is that radical Muslims are no different than radical believers of any religion.  With embassy attacks now in multiple Islamic countries, many confidently proclaim that the problem is not Islam, but the religious belief of any type when taken too seriously.  That claim leads us to the question:  is there something inherent in Islam that makes it more likely to resort to violence than other world religions like Christianity or Buddhism?


While it’s important to admit that all religions have adherents that are willing to use violence to achieve what they believe are justified ends, it doesn’t follow that all religions teach equally the legitimacy of violent means.  People have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, these actions can’t be justified from the actual teachings of Christ.  Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus himself.


What about Islam and the actual teachings of Muhammad?  According to The Oxford History of Islam, from the beginning, Muslims “saw their mission as jihad, or militant effort to combat evil and to spread Muhammad’s message of monotheism and righteousness far and wide.”  Although many argue that jihad primarily refers to a struggle or striving for personal righteousness, a significant number of others proclaim that jihad is an armed struggle against “infidels” — the term utilized for unbelievers.


Numerous passages in the Qur’an refer to this violence.  A surah titled “The Spoils of War” states, “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you… they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.”  Another says, “O ye who believe!  When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them…”  It adds that those who do will find themselves in hell, a significant incentive to fight on.


So do all Muslims see jihad in the light of conquest and warfare?  My sense is a strong ‘no,’ although many have been seemingly slow to denounce the current violence.  Similar to others professing faith in varied religions, we at times alter our interpretation of the proclaimed holy words for various motives — perhaps because we deeply disagree or it’s incomprehensible or simply because it’s inconvenient.  Truthfully, sometimes my heart hurts for those who do view Islam as a call for peace — especially for American-born Muslims.  I wonder how they must feel with the deep tension between 2 people groups with which they identify.  I wonder how they feel when they are stared at, scorned upon, or treated poorly in this country.  That is also tough to comprehend.


Friends, this analysis is by no means complete.  There are aspects and tangents that many will pounce upon to passionately prove their perspective.  Many will still shout that “Islam is a religion of peace!”  I would only respectfully add that such an argument is also incomplete.


Hence, I leave you with this…  Nearly every major religion in the world teaches a variation of the Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Islam does not include this.  Instead, it makes very definite distinctions in the way Muslims are to treat believers and unbelievers.  That fact should not cause us to stare at, scorn upon, nor treat poorly any who are different.  It should instead humble us, teaching us to communicate truth more clearly — and not be blinded by passions that are easier to embrace.


Respectfully… always,


free speech… or sensitive?

Is free speech a right?  Can we say whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want?  While some may impulsively answer affirmatively, allow me to suggest we first pause for a moment.  For example, according to the popular paraphrase of the infamous 1919 Supreme Court decision, “shouting fire in a crowded theatre” is illegal, assuming the claim is dangerous and false.


But I’m wondering if in this seemingly polarizing, digressing day and age, if the right of free speech whenever and wherever we want is based more on the substance of the speech — and the “speaker of the speech” — as opposed to the purported individual liberty.


I think of the desire to squelch some speech — a desire with which I must transparently acknowledge that at times, the Intramuralist will also wrestle…


… such as in Sunday’s post, acknowledging that there are those who passionately wish to silence the name and praise and mere mention of God.  Does free speech exist if it includes reference or — dare I suggest — submission to an omniscient deity?  Certainly not in schools.  In government?  In the prayers before Congress each day?  In the Pledge?  I’m wondering, too, about taking God’s name publicly in vain.  Is that free speech — even in school?


… I think of the Westboro Baptist Church, a little group of loud people hailing from Topeka, Kansas.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them; they like to protest at military funerals and other sensitive places with very strong, disrespectful anti-gay rhetoric; they’ve continued protesting this week.  Now I’ve met many I respect who sensitively believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with God’s ideal, but I’ve met no one who supports the approach and messaging of this cruel, seemingly merciless church.


But back to the dilemma of free speech… is it our right?  … does a cruel, merciless church have the right to say whatever they want, marching outside the memorial of a fallen soldier in front of his or her grief-stricken family?


Truthfully, I have a hard time with that one.  So much of me wells up inside, saying, “How dare they!”  The quandary is what speech do we believe should be free.  Insensitivity has thus far not been a prohibitor of the practice.


… What about 911? … another date that is deeply emotional for all Americans?  Do people have a right to say whatever they want wherever they want on that day?


On Tuesday, in both Egypt and Libya, Islamist groups violently attacked the U.S. embassies.  There are currently unconfirmed reports that the violence was coordinated and intentional.  In Cairo, several scaled the walls, tearing down the American flag, proclaiming “no God but Allah” and alliance with Osama Bin Laden.  In Libya, the American ambassador to the country was tragically killed.


The reported reason for the violence was the Muslims’ anger at a single video being produced in the United States that they feel insults the prophet Mohammed.  So question:  why the protest on that particular day?  Were the protestors somehow unaware that it was the anniversary of the Twin Towers fall?


Nonetheless, very quickly, before an awareness of injury or death, the American embassy in Egypt actually released this statement in regard to the video:


“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”  [emphasis mine]


The U.S. embassy was speaking of the Americans’ abuse of free speech via the video-making, as opposed to addressing the riotous conduct of the protestors.  So again I ask the question:  do we have the right to say whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want?  … and let me add, however we want?


It seems each of our support and sensitivity depends most on the subject… and on who’s speaking.




a time to remember

“Quick!  Turn on the TV!”


Aware that I rarely turn on the television in the morning, a friend called urgently, knowing I’d want to be watching.  An approximate hour later, witnessing the South Tower fall, the concept of “want to be watching” was furthest from my mind.  Each of us remembers what we thought, felt, and did that fateful day.


In anticipation of today’s 11th anniversary, my young son asked me over the weekend if I thought 911 could ever happen again.  “We’ve learned from it, right?”  Great question, he asked.  Some days I wonder what we’ve actually learned.


Besides learning we need to allow for a little more time getting through airports, we’ve learned a few things that seem incredibly monumental…


… like how when push comes to shove, Americans will work together…


(Then again, with push actually coming to shove in each of the succeeding elections, it seems even our leaders only push and shove harder — especially with their language.)


… like how it’s important that we refrain from ramping up the rhetoric and utilizing words of war or terror when the situation is not about war or terror…


(I heard that once after Arizona’s Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot, although with the so-called, ongoing rhetorical “war on women,” we haven’t exactly learned that yet.)


… like how within the radical branches of Islam, there exists a significant people group that desires the destruction of both America and Americans


(Oooh… I used to believe that, although it’s fascinating to me that in the Fort Hood shooting — where the murderer was a 39 year old devout Muslim who shouted “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” — before opening fire — our U.S. Justice Dept. still identifies the incident as “workplace violence” as opposed to “domestic terrorism.”)


… like how evil exists on planet Earth…


(Not sure we’re good at this one; we don’t like to acknowledge evil… except sometimes, in leaders who seem intelligent but who totally disagree with us…)


We’ve learned from it, right?”


I’d like to believe that we have.


I’d like to believe 911 could never happen again.


But I couldn’t look my young son in the eye and answer him as affirmatively as I desired.  I have no wish to damper the hope and confidence of our younger generations going forward.


Yet our challenge is obvious…


The more time that passes after a traumatic event, the more numb we become to the profound learnings.


No wise man wishes for tragedy; but all wise men learn from tragedy.


From 911 we learned about the preciousness of life, the beauty of self-sacrifice, the attractiveness of heroism, and the gift of a nation that loves each other well… in how they act and how they think and how they treat one another.


The challenge is that the learnings don’t always stick.  We forget what we have learned.


“Have we learned from it, son?  Yes.  We have learned much…”


But do we remember what we’ve learned?  That is a far better question.





Last week at the Democrats’ national convention, there was a public stir when the delegates voted to amend their party’s platform.


Originally crafted omitting any reference to God and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) moved to have the platform changed and the references included.  Strickland said, “As an ordained United Methodist minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story, and forms the values we’ve expressed in our party’s platform.”


Needing a 2/3 vote, 3 times a vote was taken to include God and Jerusalem.  3 times the majority was audibly ambiguous, with people reacting loudly both ‘for’ and ‘against’ inclusion.  After vote #3, the convention chairman arbitrarily declared the amendment passed, prompting even louder boos in the arena.


Consistent with our culture’s unfortunate polarized, partisan nature, immediately many worked to diminish or pounce on the public relations stir.  First came the campaigns; second came the pundits; and third came people like you and me, conveniently hitting “like” and “dislike” on Facebook.


To diminish the chaos, some of my more liberal friends claimed the boos were in reaction only to the process.  To pounce, some of my more conservative friends cried that the Democrats hate God.  The Intramuralist suggests that both of these perspectives miss the main point.  This isn’t about Republicans nor Democrats.  This isn’t about party platforms nor how political language should be crafted.  This is about all people… and our individual ability to acknowledge God.


Sometimes we have a bit of trouble with that…  acknowledging God’s existence.


For some it is very private acknowledgement.  It is something so near and dear to their heart that they believe it is profoundly personal.  I respect that.


For others it is a very public acknowledgement.  It is something so near and dear to their heart that they believe the joy must be shared.  I respect that, too.


For still others, it is something to never acknowledge.  It is not near nor dear to their heart and thus they believe any reference or reliance on an omniscient, omnipresent Creator by any should be squelched.  That’s more challenging to accept.


Yes, I’m struck by the need to squelch — this need by some to put a potential shroud over the truth.  Ever since the beginning of time, people have been able to take a long and thoughtful look at what God has created.  The basic reality of God is plain enough; people have been able to see what their eyes actually couldn’t.  We can see evidence of some eternal power and the mystery of a divine being.  Exactly how and what that looks like is certainly hard to specifically depict.  Yet the mystery should not motivate us to squelch; the mystery should prompt us to search even more.


The challenge is that to acknowledge God’s existence, we must in response ask what he wants from us; what does he desire from his so-called kids? … from all of creation?  That’s a tough question to answer; there are multiple angles from which to approach.  Let me also affirm that the question is not something we can dictate for one another.  It is something with which we must individually wrestle.


Which is…


… why I have total respect for the private acknowledgers…

… why I have total respect for the public proclaimers…

… and why I have trouble with the private and public squelchers.


Some of us at times pretend to know it all.  We don’t.  None of us do.  Not you, not me, and certainly not the Intramuralist.  But sometimes I think we’re each a little illiterate when it comes to issues regarding life.  Some of us claim to know God, but yet, we refuse to treat him like God.  We refuse to treat his people and creation well.  We also don’t worship him, and then we trivialize his power and presence, for that way, we never have to wrestle with the question of what he may desire.


Yes, we can be an arrogant people.


Sometimes each of us — without the public watching — even “boo.”




we will decide

Last I knew, neither the devil incarnate nor the Messiah was running for president.  Last I listened to the people on TV — on both sides of the proverbial partisan aisle — I couldn’t tell.


Tonight, Pres. Obama (note:  not devil nor Messiah, despite what some opposers and supporters believe) will officially accept his party’s nomination.  He will again articulate why he believes he deserves to be president, albeit in 61 days, the voting public will be the deciders of exactly how deserving.


Unlike Gov. Romney — only because Romney has never been president (although it sure seems like he’s been running a long time) — there is no need for Obama to “define” himself in regard to who he is and how he would govern.  Obama’s record now “defines” him.


Has Obama done everything he’s promised?  No.  Has he done some things he’s promised?  Yes.  Have the Republicans sometimes stood in his way?  Yes.  Have the Republicans always stood in his way?  No.  My keen sense is that any other perception of promise-keeping equates to being seduced by rhetorical spin.


Thus, in 2008, what exactly did Obama promise?


(One more note, friends:  this is a non-emotional representation; too many of us allow emotion to disproportionately sway our opinion; hence, truth often becomes distorted in our own minds.)


Just as senior class presidents are tempted to promise “free Coke in every pop machine,” most candidates promise much, as promises are perceived as a victorious path.  Candidates therefore tend to promise what’s expected to generate the most votes.


For example…


  • Then Sen. Obama promised to “invest in early childhood education.”  Promise kept.  Through the stimulus, billions of dollars were given to 2 federal programs, Head Start and Early Head Start.


  • Obama promised that “if you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums.”  Promise broken.  Thus far, health insurance premiums have increased.


  • Obama promised that he would “end this war in Iraq responsibly.”  The Intramuralist cannot assess responsibleness; however, the promise was kept in that August of 2010 marked the end of combat operations in Iraq.


  • Obama promised that “now is the time to protect Social Security for future generations.”  Promise broken.  In the last 4 years, nothing has been done to stabilize this deficit-running entitlement.


  • Obama promised that “we will kill Bin Laden.”  Promise kept.  The terrorist leader was killed in May of 2011.


  • Regarding the healthcare debate, Obama promised to “have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”  Promise broken.  Meetings were held behind closed doors.


(FYI:  Promise records tabulated via CNN Money, FactCheck, and PolitiFact.)


Obviously, there are multiple other promises we could assess; there have been promises about cutting the deficit, lowering unemployment, eliminating oil and gas tax loopholes, extending child credits, increasing minority access to capital, requiring automatic enrollment in IRA plans, immigration, labor issues, social issues, economic issues, etc. etc.  Some have been kept; some have been broken; and some may or may not still be in progress.


The challenge every voter faces is discerning why a promise is broken or kept.  Was the President obstructed?  Was he insincere?  Did he have other priorities?  Or was it simply the “free-Coke-in-the-pop-machine” attempt to get elected?


Did I mention that the voting public will decide?




‘nutty’ unity

Tomorrow everything changes.


Some may believe that everything changes after the November election, but dare I suggest:  tomorrow everything changes more.  And perhaps even more noticeable, the change will last for quite some time… for days, weeks, months… at least until winter is well upon us.


Tomorrow, no less, is the day, when many reasonably intelligent people begin to justifiably act a little, incredibly nutty…


Beginning with a little town in northeast Wisconsin, folks will care less about the zillions of dollars spent on the recent divisiveness of state politics.  They will instead quickly unite behind a powerful meat-Packing team, riding on the arm of Aaron Rodgers and his beloved, Green Bay football cohorts.


Out will also come the Lions and Tigers and Bears…  oh, wait, Tigers play baseball… but out will come the Lions and Bears… and while my keen sense is the teams don’t like each other all that much, within their people group, they are united indeed.


I notice the unity elsewhere…


… in the Patriotic type, for example, a people group that always seems so solid and sound regardless of the partisans in Washington; their massive defense budget never seems up for debate.


… and let’s not forget those united, yellow towel-wavers from the Steel City.  Some call them “terrible.”  I doubt that.  After all, the Steelers seem to win more than most.  The rest of the sporting world just isn’t quite as polite when their opponents are doing most of the winning.


Yes, tomorrow everything changes…


With the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants, the NFL begins their 2012-13 season.


It’s a little odd; I mean, there’s a newfound fascination with the backup quarterback in Jet land, and Peyton Manning is wearing orange.  (Not sure it looks good on him.)


Also, like the recent divisiveness in Wisconsin, there is a labor dispute within the nation.  No, not with the players or teachers of the game; this dispute is with the union referees.


(…some days, don’t you just wish people could get along?)


All this change and nutty enthusiasm that accompanies the NFL season reminds me of both the unity and divisiveness that currently marks our land.


The divisiveness is obvious.  Too often, too much, we focus on what divides us; instead of accepting self circumstances and celebrating others’ blessedness and success, we too often compare ourselves with those around us, thinking, “That should have been me.”  There is simply too much me.


The beauty, therefore, of the NFL season is that the teams that are most successful and arrive at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in February of 2013, will be the teams that are most united in purpose and performance.  They are unlikely to have a coach who operates from a perspective of “too much me.”  They are also unlikely to be led by a quarterback who thinks he is God’s gift to his team, state, or country.  No, the teams in the Super Bowl will be marked by an excellence that comes only via unity and hard work — knowing their purpose, accepting and embracing the need to work together…


… and of course, accepting and appreciating those nutty fans.


Watch for the unity in Pittsburgh and Green Bay.  It can be nutty…  but attractive and kind of contagious, too.





Tonight all eyes will be on Gov. Mitt Romney.  Ok, perhaps not all eyes… I read rumors and rants from people who say something along the lines of “I just can’t stand the sight of him” — a reaction many politicians elicit regardless of affiliation.  Truthfully, that reaction bothers me a bit.  How can we know who someone is, what they believe, what they stand for, if we only listen to critical analysis via partisan filters?


But lest we digress…


Just as then Sen. Barack Obama did 4 years ago, tonight Mitt Romney will attempt to “define” himself to the American people.  As the incumbent, Pres. Obama is already “defined” in regard to what kind of president he would be.


And so sometime shortly after 10 p.m. EST, the former Governor of Massachusetts will share with the viewing public who he is and how he intends to govern.


Friends, this post is not about Mitt Romney.  It’s not about Barack Obama.  It’s not an endorsement nor favoring of either candidate; in fact, next week at the Democrats’ convention at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, we could reprint much of this post’s same points, simply by changing the order of the names.  Today’s main point, no less, speaks directly to the attempt by the candidates to “define” themselves…  and the game that is played to obstruct the truthfulness of the process…


“Oh, the games people play now 

Every night and every day now 

Never meaning what they say now 

Never saying what they mean…”


Note the impurity of the American political process, acknowledged by Democrat strategist, Joe Trippi, yesterday morn, saying, “We’re fighting over the definition of Mitt Romney right now.”  The fight?


Best this current events observer can discern — noting descriptions actually articulated by Romney and his campaign — Mitt Romney will attempt to “define” himself Thursday night as the following:


  • A Cub Scout
  • Family man
  • A husband of “unwavering care and devotion”
  • Not a career politician”
  • Comprehender of the private sector
  • An economic expert
  • “Outstanding public servant”
  • Salvager of the Olympic games
  • Friend of small & new business
  • “A superb manager”
  • “An exceptional man with unique qualifications to lead our country through perilous times”


Simultaneously, best this current events observer can discern — noting descriptions actually articulated by Obama and his campaign — Obama will attempt to “define” Romney as the following:


  • “Extreme”
  • A candidate who has a “lack of willingness to take responsibility for what this job entails”
  • “Not ready for primetime”
  • A person having a “penchant for secrecy”
  • Possessing a business record that is “not a qualification for president”
  • An “extreme candidate”  (… did I say ‘extreme’ yet?)


In other words, Romney will attempt to “define” himself in the best possible light; Obama will attempt to “define” Romney in the worst possible light.  Next week the roles will be reversed, and Obama will remind us of his “definition” as the family man, while Romney’s camp will find some description undoubtedly synonymous with “extreme.”


So here’s the zillion dollar question:  what is true?  … what is accurate?  … and wiser yet… does it matter?


“… Talkin’ ‘bout you and me 

And the games people play…”




we are Penn State

[Note:  Today is day 2 of 10 in our annual Guest Blogger Series.  Please remember:  the Intramuralist may or may not agree with the opinion(s) expressed.  The goal is respectful articulation.]


I went to a wedding last weekend where the theme (which had been chosen over a year ago) was “We Are… Getting Married,” based on the familiar Pennsylvania State University’s theme, “We Are…Penn State.”  The wedding was held in… Pennsylvania. My family lives in… Pennsylvania.  And guess what college all my family attended?  Penn State. I planned on going there, but when President Reagan took away student loans to the middle class in 1982, I was quickly redirected to look at a school in Wisconsin, where we lived at the time. But my dream school was Penn State.


Jerry Sandusky has tarnished the name of Penn State and lots of people are taking aim at the whole University, almost as if they are a bunch of sharks feeding on a school (no pun intended) of fish. Small fish that make up a large school, but small nonetheless. So you may think or say anything to do with Penn State is ugly, awful and tainted. But I ask you this: do you think it is possible to be a Penn Stater and be good? Noble? Nice? Not pro-child molesting?


My family… over 50 of them at that wedding, were embarrassed to be associated with Penn State. They feel dirty. Disgusting and ugly.


They attended school like so many of us have. And if you haven’t, then place your favorite charity or high school or sport’s team in place of a college. My family is from Pennsylvania and went to a great college. No ifs or buts. Penn State is a good university, and we should not run hiding, shrinking in the shadows from people who feel they must excoriate someone other then the child rapist. My family did not rape kids or endorse the raping of kids. Did they enjoy some football? Some of them. Certainly not my mother, who would go to a game and read a book in the stands. But that is not what made them Penn Staters. They should be proud Nittany Lions because they went to a tough college and graduated with degrees and went on to be good members of society.


So if you say to me that I should crawl in a hole for ten years as payment for Jerry Sandusky, I ask you why would you say that? Why is it that when something awful happens, or even something mildly irritating, must we cast about to blame someone and something? It does not seem adequate enough to blame the bad people involved. Some more people have to pay. We feel like it isn’t enough for the bad person to pay, so we say that a shooter who killed 20 people had help from the guns. Guns are bad then.


Or we say that a drunk driver killed someone, so the bad bartender caused the fatal accident. Too often we do not set blame at the feet of the one it belongs to, because we want justice. Our type of justice. We are angry and we will set things to rights. Right?


Hmmm. That’s where it gets interesting. Who made us judge? Who are we to mete out punishment? Do we have the final say? Any say?


The parents of a serial killer… are they to blame? When does this stop and we say the person who did the awful deed is awful? When do we stop attacking other people to make ourselves feel vindicated? When is enough, enough?


Will you tell my family they do not need to hide that they are Penn Staters? Or do we really want my 72 year old dad to “wait” out your judgment time? However long that is. My brother has stated he will not attend any of the football games with my dad. This is madness! My dad did not rape the kids. My dad goes to the games for fun, and now that will certainly be a thing of the past. So Jerry Sandusky hurt my dad, my brother, me and my family. He hurt Penn Staters. The Nittany Lions.


So while you rage against the lack of decent sanctions against Penn State, because nothing can bring back the innocence of those boys (true), I say please, stop and hold your tongue for a minute. We are hurt. We are hurting. We need mercy. And someday, you might need it, too. What do they say? What goes around, comes around? It does. So when you are down because your company did something illegal, or your kid did something tragically awful, or your spouse did something bad, do you want me to come around and kick you in the teeth? Will it not be enough to say you are suffering too?


Mercy plays a part in this society. Certainly we should treat other people the way we would want to be treated in that circumstance. The world needs fewer pointing fingers and more hands extended out to help someone up. We are all in this world together and if you can begin to really look at a situation from another hurting person’s point of view, then you are getting it. You are becoming smarter. Less vicious. You are becoming a better person. And if this dark world needs anything, it is people who are kind, patient, full of compassion and mercy. So please, I beg you, remember to wait a little longer before climbing on the bashing bandwagon. And before you take a certain wild and willing delight at the trials of Penn State and Penn Staters everywhere, remember my family’s wedding. Where the affair felt almost like it wanted to be held in a back closet somewhere. Out of sight. Hidden away.


Well, We Are… Hurting.  We Are… Embarrassed.  We Are… Sad.  We Are… Penn State.






[Intramuralist Note:  D is a wise and witty stay at home mom, whose never been afraid to tackle the tough subjects.  She also has an innate fondness for Peanut M&M’s.]