Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Case for Intolerance

I will climb out on the proverbial limb and utter an obscene word: intolerance. Sometimes it's good.


Take for example smoking. When I first began teaching, smoke swirled around my classroom. I asked for an air purifier and got this teeny little machine that had minimal effect on my air quality. My room abutted the teachers' room. It had no outside windows and the the smoke wafted through the cut-outs in the ceiling that allowed the fluorescent lights to run.


We all experienced smokey restaurants, businesses, homes, cars, mass transportation. Today, no one can light up on school property--not even in their car with the window rolled up. Smokers used to congregate at doors of businesses and stores to smoke. Today, many places require that they stand a distance away from the entrances. We no longer tolerate the health destroying effects of tobacco.

The same goes with dog droppings. Years ago, no one cleaned up the "litter" and only the property owner was expected to scoop the poop--or the walker, in whose case had to scrape the poop. Today our local rec park stocks plastic bags to make it possible to clean up after dogs. Homeowners will stop recalcitrant dog owners and insist on this basic decency.

Restricted To Adults Aged 18 And Over Sexually...Image via WikipediaWe've become intolerant of sex abuse--those guilty can never erase the stigma of their crimes; intolerant of physical abuse; intolerant of driving under the influence

Isn't it time to become more intolerant? Cursing? Indecent clothing? Sexually explicit comedy on sitcoms? Stereotyping Christians as intolerant or hypocritical? Sexually active behavior? Pornography?


Without foregoing mercy, love, kindness--without forgetting Christ's forgiveness, we need to take a stand against what is offensive and wrong, refuse to accept it. If we do, perhaps these behaviors will follow in the fate of second hand smoke and dog doo-doo.



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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fourth Amendment Rights

The fourth amendment to our constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." 
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...Image via Wikipedia 
Increasingly, our government is violating this right in the name of safety.
Anyone who has read my blogs or facebook posts, understands my position on airline searches, especially the new scanners which create a virtual strip search. We've heard about Arizona's law that questions suspected illegals when stopped for a traffic violation.
How many have heard of the search and seizures here in northern New York?

The border patrol has the right to stop any public transportation within 100 air miles of any international border, including coastlines. According to Udi Ofer, a lawyer for the ACLU, 2/3 of all citizens live withing this area.
In effect, the agents can board any bus or train or boat and if they suspect someone of not being a citizen, they can demand to see their papers. However, in this country, it, so far, has not been mandated that we must carry proof of citizenship at all times.

In the feature case, a Chinese student who attended Potsdam State was arrested under suspicion of something. He ended up in varying jails for four months. Meanwhile, all his papers were with the sponsoring teacher. Unfortunately, he returned to China and his parents will not let him return to the United States. It is sad when China feels we are too controlling.

In a similar vein, my friend and her husband stopped about a half-mile from the U.S. border. He needed to fish out his enhanced ID which was in his wallet and on which he sat. When he arrived at the port of entry, the agent asked him why he stopped a half mile away. He then sternly warned him to not stop until he got to the station. How did they know he stopped? What difference does it make?

A good female friend with red-headed and fair-skinned was stopped, frisked, manhandled and handcuffed at the border. She had the misfortune of bearing the same name as a black man on the wanted list. The same thing happens repeatedly to Sylvie Nelson of Saranac Lake. She's stopped repeatedly, handcuffed, frisked in front of her kids because her name is similar to a black man's from Georgia. She's cleared each time, then stopped the next.

Sadly, Big Brother is watching and we may need to head to China to find some liberty. 
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken

If you love the cliche and love to predict the outcome of conflict, if easy answers is your comfort in a good book, then skip Meredith Efken's Lucky Baby.

Her book presents a poignant look at four dynamic characters as their lives change when Meg Lindsay decides to adopt a child from China. As the principal violist for the Noveau Chicago Symphony and a Christian married to an atheist physicist, Meg and husband Lewis, decide to adopt a little girl with a cleft palate. With a child in their home, Meg knows she'd create the idyllic life.


However, the arrival of the child, Eva Zhen An, forces Meg, Lewis and Eva's devoted friend in China, Wen Ming, to confront the mother issues that have wounded their lives.



No answers come easily. No choices are made because of the obvious. Warm. Funny. Poignant. Laced with the highly poetic magic realism, Efken's book is guaranteed to touch your life and stay with you for a long time.



I recommend this book without reservations.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life on the Ropes

This image was first published in the 1 st (18...Image via Wikipedia
I can't believe I get paid for teaching the high ropes course. Sadly, I don't get to zip down the zip line or fly like a squirrel, but I watch people conquer fears and push themselves beyond their comfort zone. Their tasks look frightful, but really, so much safety is woven into the fabric of the course, that one has to work hard to be in danger.


We start by tying a double Studebaker. One probably would hold, but he put in a double. Our final square knot has two safety knots. This harness is then checked by the instructors. The belayer wears her own, with a friction device, and heavy rope, she attaches herself to the climber after checking her harness. This would be about the second check.

The climber, attached firmly to the belayer, climbs the zip tree. At the top, his harness is checked again. She stays attached to the belay rope until she's tied onto the zip pulley. Every caribeaner is squeeze checked--before the climb begins, as the harness is swapped out.


It's then she gets to zip down the steel cable that had been inspected. Layered under all safety protocols are the years of training the teachers and inspectors hold. The course is designed so that if one tool fails, another will hold.


So, too, with God. We are told Galatians the works of the flesh, as defined in The Message:Is "...trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;  trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;  the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom."


Why is sex out of marriage bad? Getting tipsy? Working for the most toys? One upping our neighbor? Some of these things, in themselves, may not hurt us or others right now. However, eventually, a sinful lifestyle will hurt us and others. When we're tipsy, we may flirt. When we flirt, we find ourselves falling in love. Then come affairs, sexually transmitted diseases, destroyed marriages, ruined health, death. One drink, like our harness not tied with a square knot, probably won't kill us or ruin our lives. However, if we get behind the wheel and our charmed life flee, what can the consequences be?

Be safe. Obey God. His ways are not designed to ruin our lives, but to save them.













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