executive orders… round 2

In recent days, there has been much conversation about the appropriateness and legality of bypassing the legislative process via executive order.  The Intramuralist is certainly no expert, yet as Pres. Obama averred his presumed certain authority to exert specific decrees, my mind wandered (albeit fairly facetiously) as to what decrees I would declare, should I perceive such authority…

 

… I hereby declare that all young men under the age of 23 must pull up their pants, with underwear waistlines fully covered…

 

… I hereby declare that no texting, Facebook, Twitter, or alternative social media shall substitute for authentic dialogue…

 

… I hereby declare that Congress and the White House must work together and actually listen to one another…

 

… I hereby declare that Congress cannot simply, solely arrogantly obstruct the desires of the White House…

 

… I hereby declare that the White House cannot simply, solely arrogantly decide what is wisest and what is not…

 

… I hereby declare that Pres. Obama must discontinue use of the self-focused phrase “I won”…

 

… I hereby declare that the government can no longer spend more money than it takes in…

 

… I hereby declare that again…

 

… and again…

 

… I hereby declare that the Constitution must be adhered to…

 

… I hereby declare that term limits be imposed immediately…

 

… I hereby declare that radio stations must quit over-playing “Gangnam Style”…

 

… I hereby declare that “Keeping Up the Kardashians” is not reality…

 

… I hereby declare that most all reality shows are not reality…

 

… I hereby declare that we will no longer borrow money from China…

 

… I hereby declare that we will no longer borrow money from anyone…

 

… I hereby declare that we will not print money in order to make money, thus decreasing the American dollar in value…

 

… I hereby declare that no one is allowed to scare people via the inexact science of global warming or climate change…

 

… I hereby declare that no one is allowed to scare the elderly via inflammatory rhetoric so that they will be more prone to vote a certain way…

 

… I hereby declare that politicians will not and cannot lie… ever…

 

… I hereby declare that I will not and cannot lie… ever…

 

… I hereby declare that no politician will overlook what is good or right or true in order to advance their own political agenda…

 

… I hereby declare that no more executive “actions” or orders will be allowed.

 

By this I stand.

 

This is enough.

 

… albeit even facetiously…

 

Respectfully,

AR

falling from grace

Today is the day.  According to multiple news outlets, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the world’s most infamous and (previously seemingly) successful cyclist, Lance Armstrong, has admitted to intentionally using performance-enhancing drugs.  The interview is scheduled to be aired today on Oprah’s OWN network.

 

The significance of the admission is obvious:

 

  1. Armstrong has been incredibly successful; his career has included 7 Tour de France victories (albeit titles of which he has since been stripped).  And,
  2. Armstrong has vehemently denied drug usage for years; his denials have also, often, arguably, publicly defamed other people…

 

When fellow Tour winner (and fellow Tour-title-stripped winner), Floyd Landis, implicated Armstrong, Armstrong publicly declared Landis “desperate for attention and money.”

 

When the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was investigating, Armstrong called the head of the quasi-government agency, Travis Tygart, “obsessed” with “getting” him, boldly proclaiming that Tygart was executing an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”

 

With today finally being the day, we now know that all of the above were lies.  We also know that all of the denials of truth telling around him were intentional efforts to discredit others instead of deal with self.  (We like to do that sometimes… discredit others instead of deal with self… but alas, I digress…)

 

Once more, the infamous has fallen from grace.

 

Some fall hard, friends… well, at least initially… Marv Albert, Jim Bakker, Kobe Bryant, John Edwards, Tonya Harding, Marion Jones, Richard Nixon, Sandi Patty, David Petraeus, OJ Simpson, Michael Vick, Tiger Woods… persons supposedly at the “top of their game,” widely admired, yet those who fell a long, long way down.

 

My mind wanders…

 

Did they ever deserve to initially be so admired?  Did we allow their words, athleticism, or success to substitute for a wrongful impression of sound character?

 

Did their immoral act simply unveil their true character — a character that was previously well hidden under the surface of celebrity?  That’s fascinating to me, especially as I see many of the above seem to pay only the penance of time, flying intentionally below the media radar for a specified period — and then ease back into a comparable, original role, undoubtedly hoping few will mention the reason for their fall.

 

Still, are they each capable of redemption?  I mean, most of us observed what happened at Penn State last fall — and the extent of the passion directed not only at the perpetrator but also at all associated with him.  Was/is Jerry Sandusky even capable of redemption?  What if we ever falter? … are we capable?

 

Finally — thinking again of Armstrong’s admission — how should we feel about the “good” Armstrong has previously done?  Lance Armstrong’s “Live Strong Foundation” has provided significant support and inspiration to cancer survivors for years.  Now that Armstrong’s unethical acts are evident, how are we to think about the past good he has done?  Was it all just a facade?  Can the efforts and actions now even be considered good?

 

Once again I’m humbly reminded as to how consistently through history, broken people are used for a greater good.  Warts and all — many who have at one time (or more) engaged in unethical acts — can still contribute to the good.

 

I wonder then what the future holds for Lance Armstrong.  Is he capable of redemption?

The better question, however, is will he be humble enough to actually seek that redemption and thus be used for the greater good.

 

We shall wonder.  Some shall pray.  Praying, too, that no other broken person feels so confident of throwing that first stone…

 

Respectfully,

AR

blessing in the bad

Every now and then, the Intramuralist semi-gracefully stumbles upon a truth which is so counter-cultural — an ideal or behavior that seemingly opposes all prudence.  In other words, there exist areas of wisdom that the world completely fails to comprehend…  where society thinks one way… often fairly adamantly… often obliviously… often, unfortunately, at its own peril.

 

Lately, the Intramuralist has been observing society’s reaction toward suffering.  Let’s face it; there’s been a lot of “bad stuff” happening…

 

… people out of work… government bickering… Sandy Hook… Hurricane Sandy…

… death… divorce… distance between friends…

… not enough money… not enough time… sickness…

… sick children… fighting… debt… more debt…

… friends losing houses… families losing jobs… neighbors not knowing how to put food on the table each night…

 

Trials and temptations, negative circumstances, scenarios which are simply incredibly difficult to endure.  There’s been a lot of “bad stuff.”

 

Most of us — maybe, possibly, most all of us — perceive the “bad stuff” as exactly that:   bad.  Hence, we work tirelessly to alleviate the “badness” — to eradicate any situation in which suffering exists.

 

There’s only one, glaring glitch embedded within that pursuit.  If we eradicate all the “bad,” my sense is that we miss the surprising, bountiful blessing within…

 

  • Blessed are those who are poor… who are thus more likely to realize their need for God — and not allow arrogance to get in the way…
  • Blessed are those who are grieving… who are thus more likely to seek out lasting comfort — and not fall prey to numbing themselves via merely temporary means…
  • Blessed are those who don’t succeed… who thus have opportunity to learn to genuinely celebrate the success of another…
  • Blessed are those whose best laid plans have completely fallen through… who are less likely to struggle with their need to dominate or control…
  • Blessed are those who must sacrifice… who are then more likely to comprehend what is valuable and what is not…
  • Blessed are those who cannot care for themselves… who are thus more likely to appreciate the authenticity of selfless service — and in turn encourage service in others…
  • Blessed are those who have tragically lost a loved one… who are far more likely to long for something more eternal than this planet…
  • Blessed are those whose children have disappointed them… who have intensified opportunity to recognize what’s most important to teach — and surrender that which is minimal…
  • Blessed are those who cry… for they have learned the beauty of empathy…
  • Blessed are those who have less… for they are less likely to take life for granted…

 

Friends, we work to eradicate negative circumstances.  And while I would wish such specific circumstances on no one, I am concerned at the bountiful blessings society seems to simply ignore — that it completely fails to comprehend.  It’s almost as if in our perceived pursuit of rights, fairness, and entitlement — each which possesses some value — we forget that there exists blessing in the “bad.”  Joy lies ahead even amidst the trial.  Hence, if we eradicate what is arduous, if we abolish the “bad” — no matter how adamantly — we may also eradicate the blessing…

 

… and the waning wisdom of society.

 

Respectfully,

AR

executive orders

In the wake of emotion following the shock of Sandy Hook, this coming Tuesday, a Washington group led by VP Joe Biden plans to place on the desk of the President their recommendations regarding increased gun control and safety.  Foreshadowing their report, Biden publicly remarked that while multiple options remain, “The President is going to act.  There are executives orders — executive action that can be taken.”

 

U.S. presidents have been taking “executive action” for over 200 years.  While these orders are not legislation, they still are accompanied by full force of law.  The reality is there is no specific constitutional provision for the decrees, but there exists a vague granting of executive power in Article II.  The idea is that presidents issue executive orders in order to assist in operational management of federal agencies or to carry out what they perceive as their unequivocal, “constitutional responsibilities.”   That’s what the orders are supposed to do; however, through the years — as for some reason seems typical in contemporary culture — we have digressed…

 

Initially, executive orders were issued for such as the following:

 

  •   On December 25, 1868, Pres. Andrew Johnson pardoned “all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” related to the Civil War (the “Christmas Proclamation”).

 

  • In 1861, Pres. Abraham Lincoln used presidential directives to run the early months of the Civil War.  Within his first two months in office, Lincoln issued a proclamation activating troops to defeat the Southern rebellion; he also issued proclamations to procure warships and to expand the size of the military.

 

  •   After World War II began, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the interment of Japanese-Americans — thinking they may be a threat — thereby impacting more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans, even though many were U.S. citizens.  Note:  it is widely believed that in FDR’s clear growth of government, expansion of the extent of executive orders was also his practice.

 

Via executive order, Teddy Roosevelt protected 130 million acres of land and created 5 national parks.  Pres. Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.  Executive orders have been arbitrarily and subjectively utilized, all via one man’s discretion… albeit one very powerful man.

 

Don’t let me also act as if all of the above was deemed categorically constitutional; much, in fact — even then — was controversial.  Conventional wisdom tells us that Lincoln’s actions were most likely unconstitutional, and the purported cruelty of Roosevelt’s executive orders has been debated for decades.

 

Still, as alluded to, through the years, executive orders have digressed; they have become seemingly more arbitrary and albeit, more political.  Such as…

 

  • In reaction to 9/11, Pres. George W. Bush created the Dept. of Homeland Security.

 

  • On March 16, 2012, Pres. Obama gave the White House absolute control over all the country’s natural resources in case of a natural disaster or during a time of war.

 

There is more.

 

Friends, herein lies the challenge…

 

If you are a supporter of Pres. Obama, the probability is that you wholeheartedly support his executive orders.  If you were a supporter of Pres. Bush 43, you most likely supported his decrees.  The challenge is that wisdom must be adhered to regardless of who is president.  For example, should any president decide he or she has the discernment skills to dictate the approach to the economy — meaning proceed via executive order — such would scare me.  For example, as much as I respect Pres. Obama, his economic background, in my opinion, is strikingly minimal.  Hence, should he enact any executive order affecting our economic future, the Intramuralist would question the inherent wisdom.

 

Gun control?  Gun control?  Did VP Biden misspeak once again?  Or is it totally ok to bypass Congress and simply dictate one’s opinion, assuming it is wisest and best?  Is it ok to bypass bipartisan debate?  Is it wise?  Or is it arrogant?

 

Great questions.  Guess we’ll see on Tuesday.

 

Respectfully,

AR

the end of the world

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Truthfully, long before R.E.M.’s popular, 1987 musical refrain, many have consistently experienced the end of the world as they know it…  long before R.E.M… before and after the revelation of the new age translation of the currently publicized Mayan Indian prophecies.

 

Briefly, for those of you unfamiliar with Mayan prophecy — noting that this specific calculation is not adhered to by professional Mayanist scholars, yet predicts a series of unknown cataclysmic events — the world is scheduled to end this Friday, December 21, 2012.  (In other words, if your Christmas shopping isn’t complete, feel great freedom to forgo it.)

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Any time the end of the world is definitively foretold, it always gets me thinking, as it’s long been humanity’s habit to proclaim our unique omniscience, especially — for some reason — in grandiose matters.  From Y2K to 2011‘s Harold Camping to Pompeii, Italy to the arrival of Halley’s Comet, humans have long specifically predicted the date and time of the bloody end to the planet.  Uh, best I can tell, with all due respect, of course, to date, they’ve all been wrong.

 

I do chuckle inside somewhat…  I mean, the historical scriptures affirm that no one will know the hour nor the day; somehow, however, people continue to miss that rather obvious point.  In light of the current December doom, in fact, I also chuckled at NASA’s response.  The government space agency released a statement saying that Friday will actually not be Earth’s end.  Hmmm… My sense is that if no one knows the actual hour nor the day, then the ancient Mayans couldn’t have known it… and NASA — smart as those scientists may be — wouldn’t know it for certain either.

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

For the moment (dare we) — perhaps only for posterity’s sake — let’s entertain this idea that Friday — or today or Sunday or even next Wednesday or Thursday — actually is the end of the world; how would we live differently?  … beginning today?

 

How would we act differently?

What relationships would we invest in?

What would we be more intentional about?

 

We’d hug our kids a little tighter.

We’d tell our loved ones that we love them.

We’d affirm those around us, focusing on their strengths, as opposed to chastising their weaknesses.

We’d be less partisan.

We’d offer generous grace.

We’d omit no truth with that full application of grace.

We’d quit spending more than we take in… (wait… since those bills wouldn’t arrive until after Friday…)

We’d listen more.

We’d take time to figure out who God is and who we are in relation to him.

We’d be still.

We’d give more.

We’d take less.

We’d be aware of the beauty of the moment.

We’d look at the skies and be in humble awe of creation.

We’d give thanks.

We’d forgive.

And we would love lavishly and generously… no matter what.

 

If we did all that, we could belt the last line of R.E.M.’s refrain — remaining unfazed by events out of our control.  Intentional living is good and true regardless of world events… from the tragedy of Newtown, the wrangling in Washington, and yes, even those ancient Mayan prophecies.  It doesn’t matter when the world will end, as intentional living girds us with peace; we can be fine.  Fine?  Actually, that’s the last line of the song…

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

 

Fine it is.  P.S.  Hope you read this before Friday.

 

Respectfully… always…

AR

a hope that lasts

Still 4 days later, it’s hard to focus on something else…

 

We could focus on the number of shopping days left, but they pale in comparison.

 

We could focus on solving the so-called “fiscal cliff,” but that, too — even with its almost unimaginable depth of debt — pales in comparison.

 

We could focus on all sorts of things; each would pale in comparison…

 

… except maybe…

… just maybe…

… the meaning of Christmas.

 

I realize to many the story is simply too old.  A baby, born in a manger, in swaddling clothes with no room in some ancient inn… what exactly are “swaddling” clothes, anyway?  Let’s face it:  the story is old.  The meaning, however, is timeless.  In the aftermath of Connecticut, when we continue to rush to justice — when we definitively aver that these horrific events must never happen again, when we find some solace in our own, at least perceived resoluteness — we need a lasting message… a truth that is timeless.  No speech nor warm wish, nor legislation, movement, or monetary investment compares to the lasting, old meaning of Christmas.

 

That babe — born some 2,000 years ago — is said to be the only being ever capable of fully and ultimately ushering in peace and bestowing goodwill to men.  Fascinating in the study of world religion, no other proclaimed deity has fulfilled the profound prophecies of Jesus Christ.  No other faithful figure has made the claims he’s made and been able to back them up.  For no other have the words come true.

 

Peace.  Goodwill to men.  Lasting.  Many have tried to find a solution, to offer healing, to keep bad stuff from happening again — seeking means, movements, and monies that would at least put a better-feeling Band-Aid on those evil, earthly events.  The motive seems somewhat pure; we don’t want to hurt anymore; we don’t want innocent others to hurt either.  But none are fully capable; none carry a lasting, effective meaning.  Hence, no movement or legislation, well-intentioned as it may be, is capable of being more than a so-called Band-Aid.

 

When I think of the 20 kids who died in Connecticut, I need to be reminded of something I know will work… that I know will be an authentic solution.  I think of peace.  I need to know it’s available.  I think of goodwill… to all men.  I need to be encouraged to generously offer that goodwill.  Hence, I need a lasting hope to hold on to.  Why?  Because nothing temporary makes sense.  Even though potentially good and well-intentioned, “Band-Aids” are temporary.  And while temporary may seem necessary and helpful and may appease our passions for the moment, we forget that underneath the Band-Aid only exists a deeper scar.  My desire for each of us is not to adhere what covers up the wound — but rather, what wrestles with the deeper scar.

 

Did we cross some sort of line on Friday?

Did society finally go too far?

Did we pass a point of accepted immorality that no longer we can stand?

 

And better yet, did Friday’s horrific act finally get our attention?

 

Ah, great discussion… one that no doubt we would each benefit from should we engage in respectful, listening-prioritized dialogue.

 

My sense is no new lines of morality were crossed.  Instead, arguably, our senses and souls have been heightened with a renewed awareness.

 

For Band-Aids?

 

No, for a hope that will last.

 

Thank God.

 

Thanks for the coming of Christmas.

 

Respectfully,

AR

selective morality

As all times when we are so shockingly rattled, the race to reaction is furious and fast.  When scenarios and circumstance significantly disturb us, we immediately jump to the solution.  “If we only had tougher gun laws… eliminated the violent video games… cared more for the mentally ill… if we put an end to all the ‘war’ rhetoric…”  (note that the last of those suggestions seems oft hypocritically proclaimed, as violent rhetorical usage is often chastised until it’s convenient to employ for personal passion…)

 

The reality is, friends, that I understand the rapid reaction.  We probe possible cause and means of prevention.  We want justice.  The disturbance demands justice!  And when the victims are obviously, especially innocent — as in Newtown, Connecticut, where reportedly 20 of the victims are under the age of 10 — many of them kindergarteners — kindergarteners! — our need for justice is only magnified.

 

Thus, in our quest for justice, we attempt to find the way or the one thing that would solve the seemingly inherent problem, such as the gun laws, video game and rhetorical restrictions, etc.  “If we only had that!…”  Those are wise, appropriate conversations that we should have.  The challenge, however, is that none attack the root of the issue; none address the actual bottom line, and if we fail to tackle the bottom line, shocking scenarios will continue.  They may look a little different — possibly utilizing different weapons and words — but we will feel the same.  Still shocked.  Still rattled.  Still so disturbed.

 

How could someone actually do this?!”  It doesn’t make any sense.

 

It’s sad.  It’s grievous.  But evil exists on this planet.  I recognize that such is not a popular thing to either say or believe.  In fact, I have been a part of many discussions where at some point in the conversation in order to press home a point, one person inserts their passionate perspective that “all people are inherently good.”  Some may be messed up or mentally ill or a ‘switch is off somewhere,’ but for the most part, we’re all pretty good.

 

Popular or not, the Intramuralist respectfully disagrees.

 

Each of us have witnessed friends and loved ones make some rather confounding choices.  We’ve known persons who’ve engaged in violent crime, salacious infidelity, and unfathomable professional wrongdoing.  Simply put:  we’ve known people who have made bad choices.

 

What we now identify as a “bad choice” has somehow changed.

 

The closer people are to us, the more likely we are to offer grace and potentially, possibly, even alter our moral standards.  We have become, it seems, as I like to describe, “selectively moral.”  The closer we are to the perpetrator, the more morally selective we’re tempted to be; on the other hand, the more emotionally distant we are, the easier it is for our need for justice to trump any extension of grace.  What could instead cause us to attempt to offer full justice and full grace — simultaneously?  The recognition that none of us are “pretty good.”  It’s about capability; we are each capable of becoming confused in our moral standards — thus each capable of making bad choices.

 

Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  The invisible qualities of an omnipotent creator have been made manifest.  Yes, evidence of God is all around us.  But yet, even though we’ve known God, we sometimes refuse to worship him or even give him thanks.  We begin to instead think up our own ideas of what God is like — as opposed to seeking what he says he is like.  We craft our own ideas — our own solutions — perhaps ideas that fit better with our individual experience and thus passions.  As a result, our minds can become confused.

 

When a person’s mind becomes confused, they typically come to worship or value something far lesser than the divine.  And my sense is when that happens — not knowing exactly how things work here on planet Earth — that at some point God abandons them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desire.  It’s similar to a parent/child relationship; we teach and encourage obedience, yet over time and the repetition of wrongful thinking and poor behavior, at some point, we give our children over to their own desires, hoping that they learn wisdom the hard way, potentially via the consequences of their own behavior.

 

As a result, therefore, of the shameful things in some persons’ hearts, people will do vile and degrading things.  That’s what we witnessed in Newtown on Friday.

 

It’s shocking.  It’s tragic.  And it doesn’t make any sense… even with our admirable demand for justice.

 

Respectfully… and with an incredibly heavy heart…

AR

the misplaced comma

As I was pulling out and dusting off my fairly impressive collection of Christmas music — ok, wait; that is total “impression management.”  It’s actually, almost a bold face lie.  Sorry.  I mean, yes, my collection is impressive, but the truth is (confession time, friends) that I listen to Christmas music all year round.  I know, I know… many of you wish the triumphant tunes were confined to December days only — perhaps some of you will even pause your loyal readership for a few weeks — but there’s something about singing “peace on Earth” and “goodwill toward men” that puts me in a good mood all year long.

 

Recently, though, as I was again humbly, vocally accompanying the recorded artist on the CD (fathom that idea), I stumbled upon an error in the way contemporary culture sings a song.  In fact, the words are still the same, but a singular punctuation mark has been moved; it profoundly changes the meaning of the song.  Yes, I uncovered the misplaced comma.

 

We sing “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.”

 

The song, however, was originally written as “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

 

Notice the placement of the comma.  That comma makes all the difference in the world.  We have changed the meaning of the song.

 

When we sing…

 

God rest ye, merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ, our Savior

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!

 

… sometimes I think we act as if everything around us is happy…  like we are always happy.  “God rest you, happy people.”

 

Well, sometimes life isn’t happy.  In fact, a lot of days a lot of us have tough stuff to handle.  Life isn’t always happy, and a solid faith doesn’t necessarily make us merry.  While we may be able to tap into an inner joy and unparalleled peace — perhaps, something related to that peace on Earth — we’re still not always happy.  Christmas time, especially, is often a painful struggle for many.

 

Yet when we examine the misplaced comma and return it to its rightful place — “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” — and then we acknowledge that the 15th century carol, written in a minor, melodiously dark-sounding key — we see that the writer was not simply sitting back, believing it was so easy to be happy and merry.  The writer is encouraging each of us to rest in God’s merriment — in the joy available via the creator of the world — regardless of the darkness… regardless of that minor key.

 

I’ve heard it said that “if Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”  There’s a part of me that believes there’s a lot of truth in that.  Look at us running around these days.  We’re working and wrapping and buying and baking.  We’re spending so much time preparing for Christmas that we’re almost avoiding the meaning.

 

Hence, the encouragement to rest.

 

No matter what.

 

Resting in the merry.

 

Respectfully,

AR

diminishing Christmas?

As the shopping days dwindle and the ole’ familiar carols continue to play, I’m struck by a continuous topic in some circles this time of year:  is there a war on Christmas?

 

As posted previously amidst these pages, the Intramuralist isn’t into identifying something as war that actually is not.  In the past year we’ve seen the rhetorical rants regarding wars on women, teachers, unions, and coal, for example.  Truthfully, friends, the war terminology seems most employed when the goal is to drum up passion for like perspective.  War is war, and in my semi-humble opinion, it should never be treated as something it is not.

 

There do exist movements, no less, in which people work to diminish impact and influence.  Again, these cannot logically be equated with combat.  Therefore, the question this season is not whether there exists military combat on Christmas; the question is whether there exists an intentional movement to diminish the impact and influence of the Christian holiday.

 

We’ve discussed, past, eye-opening examples…

 

… such as in 2002, when New York City schools banned nativity scenes from their December decor but allowed for Hanukkah menorahs and Muslim stars and crescents…

 

… or how each year retailers, such as Sears, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, or The Gap have either avoided or been accused of avoiding the use of the word “Christmas,” opting instead for “holiday” and/or the watered-down “winter.”

 

The examples continue this current season…

 

… in Newhall, California, where residents of a senior apartment complex were originally told by building staff that they had to take down their Christmas tree because of the presence of Christ’s name in the phrase, “Christmas tree”…

 

… in Santa Monica, where a large-scale nativity scene has been publicly erected for the last 60 years, but atheists have long worked to halt any public, religious sentiment.  After a year long battle via courts and complaints, the Santa Monica City Council finally voted to prevent any and all religious displays on public property.  (Notice the diminished impact.)

 

… or even overseas… where in Brussels, Belgium, they omitted their popular city Christmas tree exhibit this year.  Why?  There were concerns that the local Muslim population would find it “offensive.”

 

Yes, in this sensitive, seemingly uncanny age of correctness, many institutions still choose to address the Christmas controversy (not combat) by paying equal attention to other seasonal holidays.  Typically, this means ample consideration of Hanukkah for those who are Jewish and Kwanzaa for those who are African-American.  What I find unique about these celebrations is the comparison of the holidays…

 

Factually speaking, Hanukkah refers to 165 B.C. when Jewish rituals — which had been previously outlawed — where reinstated as the Jewish people managed to drive the Syrian army out of Jerusalem and reclaim their temple.  Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory; previous to the late 1800’s, Hanukkah was considered a minor holiday.

 

Kwanzaa, on the other hand, is factually more of an ethnic as opposed to religious holiday.  It was developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 as a way to celebrate and promote the African-American culture.

 

Christmas, no less, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in whom hundreds of prophecies were consequently fulfilled.

 

In other words, in this uncanny age of correctness — with of course all due respect — when we attempt to pay equal attention to all holidays, we are comparing reclaiming a temple with honor for an ethnic heritage with the birth of the savior of the world.

 

As said at the onset of this post, I don’t believe there is any so-called ongoing war.  I don’t.  But it certainly does seem that the excluding of acknowledgement and the equating of holidays is an attempt to diminish the impact that if true, the savior of the world would undoubtedly hold.

 

Respectfully,

AR

blaming the gun

At halftime of Sunday night’s Eagles vs. Cowboys football game, NBC host, Bob Costas, added a creative sort of commentary.  In reference to the weekend murder-suicide initiated by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher — and quoting significantly from Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock’s editorial column — Costas shared the following on national television:

 

Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.

 

In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries.  Who knows?  Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend.  What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

 

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed.  Who knows?  But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe.  If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

 

As typical of our seemingly oft hypersensitive society, cyberspace and Twitter’s tweets were active with both outrage and support…

 

Is it appropriate for a sports host to offer a politically-charged monologue?

 

Is it appropriate for Costas to speak of something other than sports?

 

And is it appropriate for the host to opine against what is actually a civil right?

 

Would other civil rights opposition be treated similarly on TV?

 

Truth is, while the Intramuralist wonders about Costas’ conviction, I don’t claim to know the answers to all of the above.  Costas consistently shares an opinion in his weekly segment; rarely, however, does the opinion have any political connotation.

 

Is there some truth in what Costas opined?  Possibly.

 

Is there also some truth ignored?  I would agree with that as well.

 

The gun control debate in this country is challenging.  The right to keep and bear arms is firmly implanted in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights; it is the law of the land and a civil right.

 

As with all “rights,” they are often used and abused.  Sometimes it seems the most grievous abuse — regardless of frequency — garners the greatest attention.  Jovan Belcher sadly, grievously misused his right.

 

The ignored truth, in my opinion, begins first with the impossibility for any to aver definitively — not even a respected long time NBC sports host — that Belcher and his girlfriend would actually be alive today if Belcher had not access to a gun.  Too often our society blames a thing or a circumstance as opposed to recognizing the foolishness of one man’s actions — as opposed to holding the responsible person responsible.  In other words, it was not the gun that triggered the murder-suicide; it was Jovan Belcher.

 

I wonder if the reason we so quickly and easily jump to blame the gun (or the thing or relative circumstance) is because it’s easier to control.  Maybe if we attempt to impose gun control, we won’t have to deal with the foolish ways some utilize guns; maybe if we attempt to limit free speech, we won’t have to wrestle with the foolish things some say.  If we focus on control of things and/or circumstances, perhaps then we never have to focus on the actual foolishness of some people.

 

And my sense is that the foolishness of some people is what’s most challenging to control.

 

Respectfully,

AR