Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Roots of Thanksgiving: Keep Christ in Thanksgiving

Image by aronki via Flickr
     Sarah and David argued. "Lincoln invented Thanksgiving," my grandson said.

     "No he didn't, the Pilgrims did," said Sarah.

     They debated and my grandson ended in tears. "You don't understand what I'm saying."

     This argument continued in the manner that only my dogged grandson could maintain, so Sarah emailed his teacher and asked for the facts. She discovered, Lincoln did "invent" Thanksgiving. In 1863 he made a proclamation declaring the third Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving. However, because of our new interpretations of the First Amendment, David couldn't hear the complete story. (And his mother wasn't entirely wrong).

     Lincoln unified the disparate celebrations into one national holiday to honor "the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies." He didn't end there. He said, "(these) are the gracious gifts of the Most High God...(who is) dealing with us in anger for our sins."

     And the school didn't talk about Washington's comments about Thanksgiving. In 1789 George Washington assigned November 26 "to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."
     The recognition of God's favor in our lives is still politically stated probably because of our hubris--God of course favors US. However, Washington, like Lincoln, went a step further. He said we should ask that, "the great Lord and ruler of Nations... (would) pardon our national and other transgressions."

     Can you imagine our leaders today acknowledging the fact that we've transgressed? I think we need to remember 2 Chron 7:14. "(I)f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

     And David, your mother wasn't entirely wrong. Our first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims to thank the Creator for His blessings. I think we need to keep, Christ not only in Christmas, but Thanksgiving as well.

(The quotes were taken from Mark Galli. "The Enemy Within." Christianity Today 18 November 2002. (76).

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Lose Weight--Eat Dessert

Mousse de TurrĂ³nImage by escuelahosteleriabenahavis via Flickr     I set out on my annual pilgrimage with my daughter. Over Veterans day we hunker down in Burlington, Vermont, scrapbook and eat at the Olive Garden. Ah, the Olive Garden--home of the Tour of Italy and breadsticks and Tiramisu. Except the food police hit. Now in Vermont, restaurants carry three--make that four--little digits at the bottom of each selection. Calories!
     1450 was the huge digit at the bottom of the Tour. That was one thousand four hundred and fifty calories. As my daily budget is 1290 calories (which I thought was what the poor, starving people in Africa ate per day), this meal, minus breadsticks (150 per stick) and Tiramisu (510) would have me porking on the pounds.
     To work off the calories from the Tour alone, I'd have to run MORE than a half-marathon (that's 13.2 miles) or ride my bike for eight hours or walk for ten. That's HOURS! And I still hadn't extras to eat.

     So instead of taking the Tour, I opted for strawberry mousse with white chocolate cream cake--210 calories complete.

     Life should be sweet!
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Border Conundrum: Bootlegging in Malone

Main Street, Malone, Ny 1907     Wending my way to Ellenburg, I run into an old friend, Sgt. Martin (or whatever you call the border guys). He sports Elvis-styled sideburns and a gun. Yikes. You know I stop, not because I'm an Elvis fan. We meet on a regular basis--either on Rt. 11 of 190.
    Fortunately, Sgt. Elvis isn't interested in me or what I'm toting in my suitcase. He's looking for drugs or aliens (of the earthling persuasion),
and he knows this old granny doesn't fit the profile of a drug runner.
     And speaking of profiles, Sgt. Elvis fits that of North Country law enforcement fighting the opportunism of a rural border which allows good to happen--like the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad--as well as bad.
     But my tale deals with Prohibition which became law on November 18, 1918, and according to Del Forkey in the Sesqui-centennial of Malone: 1802-1952, "...a complete history of this region's part in the 'dry era' would contain some rather stirring, blood-flecked pages, including everything in the rum-toting category from bootlegging and high-jacking to running gun fights through the streets of peaceful villages" (87).
     Ouch. And Sgt. Elvis thinks we have it bad.
      The bootleggers means of hiding booze aren't different from drug hiding today--in the woman's bloomers (which is why they grope us in airports), baby diapers, false doors in their cars. And they loved BIG cars (carried more Mountain Dew aka hootch). Some bootleggers became such good drivers they could spin the car around and then aim for the law officers. Or they'd use decoy cars--autos that would speed off in an opposite direction allowing the one loaded with white lightening to flee.
      I love this stunt the best. A bootlegger would get through the road blocks and then be hijacked by another bootlegger who now didn't have to face the 1920's Sgt. Elvis.
     These booze runners were depraved. One even went so far as to dodge rabbits skittering across the roads, but he'd aim his car at law enforcement officials.
     Forkey claimed most of the villains were outsiders like the infamous Mobster Dutch Shultz and Legs Diamond. I'm not so sure. Many arrested for drug dealing aren't native, but many are. And we must remember:
     What has been will be again,
   what has been done will be done again;
   there is nothing new under the sun. Eccl. 1:9

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Do We Have Any Volunteers in the Audience?

Picture stolen from Kimberly Connel
     I peeled my eyes opened. Eight a.m. on a Saturday. Forget the fact that my weeks have six Saturdays and one Sunday, my brain had been trained and  Saturday is sleep-in, lazy sacrosanct. However every Saturday we members of North Country Habitat for Humanity banded together to work on the restoration of a house for a needy and deserving family..
      I didn't want to go. Jimminy Crickets, it was Saturday. But James 2:14-17 might as well be engraved on my forehead. "Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? ... Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?"(from THE MESSAGE)
     So I rose and within the hour I shined. Once again I discovered joy in giving. I hammered nails, chatted with friends, learned skills, watched our family work for the home they'd soon inhabit and ate a fabulous lunch prepared by Joanna, a dear friend on our local board. I couldn't imagine any greater way to spend a Saturday.
     And I learned some valuable lessons to boot:
  1. toenailing has nothing to do with a pedicure
  2. a shank isn't something prisoners use nor something you braise in an oven
  3. a stud is not a virile man
  4. strapping is not used in S & M
  5. a dike is not a gay woman nor something that holds back water
     So tell me what you think these mean?

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Tyranny of the Quick Fix

Welcome to MaloneImage by jimmywayne via Flickr
     Malone, NY, I do love thee...but have you learned the tyranny of the quick fix? We look for easy ways out of problems and so we bring in prisons. Oh the economy will revive.
     Nope. Just brought in prison families and lots of convicts who clog the judicial system.
     We hope the casino will have a trickle down effect and build more hotels.
     Nope. Didn't work either.
     But we're not to blame--it's in our DNA. From the town's inception we've looked for the get rich quick schemes. Last week we explored the wolf head scandal...oh those dastardly dogs look so much like wolves. However, that scandal had a forerunner--espionage and fraudulent land claims.
Malone, New YorkImage by dougtone via Flickr
  1. During the War of 1812 many county residents favored the British. And they discovered a benefit to that favoritism. They traded military secrets for the filthy lucre. Being a border town wasn't much different than as it is now--only today our barter is with the drug and alien trade.
  2. During this time period, we had fraudulent land claims. People would state that property had been confiscated or destroyed or goods consumed. Then they received payments. Oddly, once the investigation proved the fraud, the claimants claimed they didn't know the claims were made. Oh, my bad.
  3. Hops didn't do it either.
    So, you ask, this is an itty-bitty, inconsequential village in the frozen tundra, what does it have to do with me especially as it happed over 200 years ago?
     There is nothing new under the sun. How else do we try to skim the cream?

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