Democrats Must Accept Basic Christian Morality or Risk Permanent Minority Status - Unrestricted abortion, gay marriage, no fault divorce, euthanasia, etc. are activities which break with America's Christian heritage, and members the Democratic Party has been actively supporting these issues. This fact has caused a significant block of nominally Democratic voters (5 to 10 percent) to vote for Republicans. In the book What's the Matter with Kansas the author, Thomas Frank, points out that the voters in many poor Kansas counties now vote Republican but formerly voted for Democrats like Harry Truman. This movement of poor voters can only be explained by the failure of the Democrats to support Christian values. If the Democrats are going to get these poor voters back, the Democrats are going to have to join the Republicans in opposition to "unrestricted abortion, gay marriage, no fault divorce, and euthanasia". .. (Prepared by HVM on 1/17/2006)
Thoughts on Atheism Today - Atheism is the rejection of God and the simultaneous "liberating" of man from his dependence on God. In modern times atheism has gained widespread adherence because of a few very dangerous trends:
First, well integrated, well designed cathectics are not being presented to our young people. Instead we send our young people to schools where no religion is presented at all, or in the case of many Catholic schools a truncated cathectics is presented where sin is de-emphaised and love is emphaised to the point where the meaning of the Cross with regard to both love and sin is lost. In any event, lessons learned in the first twenty years of life are the lessons which will most affect the long term beliefs of people. What is surprising today is the level of belief (even warped belief) extant in society given the poor performance of our public and private educational institutions.
Second, the technical progress of mankind, particularly in the west, has naturally led many men to believe that all of man’s problems will be solved by man’s efforts. This explosion of technological success, combined with the predicats laid by our educational system, further explain the explosion of atheism.
Third is the willingness of leaders, again particularly in the west, to promote the changed values needed to accommodate this new atheistic paradigm . Consider the acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, cohabitation outside of marriage, degrading entertainment, no fault divorce, reproductive manipulation, etc. These changes were needed to give man a sense of personal control over their lives. Man is given the illusion of freedom from painful death, demanding marital situations, negative feelings when indulging baser urges, etc. This while a steady stream of new gadgets, vacation spots, drugs, etc. make life more fulfilling, or perhaps just more full of distractions. Even chronic pain and death are no longer seen as a naturally occurring part of God’s plan, it is rather seen as a failure of technology. The time is here where OB/GYN doctors are blamed for the chronic conditions that afflict the children they deliver. It is not God’s will - it is a failure of technology or technical education or whatever.
Recently, a friend was asked to deliver an invocation to a Rotary Club. (Rotary is a club where civic leaders and local businessmen meet to laugh, clap themselves on the back, have lunch, and talk about how they might sacrifice some time and money to help some less advantaged people.) The invocation presented noted the parallel between the Last Supper and a typical Rotary lunch. Christ and his friends arrived at the Last Supper having come off the the great success of Palm Sunday and were now there for a festive religious supper. The Last Supper changed from a dinner about past success to discussion of future sacrifice, (ie Christ’s coming death and its meaning). My friend said the group did not like the invocation particularly were it pointed out that Christ’s loving sacrifice was for every man's sins.
However, the really interesting part of the story occured a week later when a lawyer gave the invocation and opened his prayer by saying it is good to have invocations which do not make any reference to any particular religious belief. He closed his invocation which was more a support for irreligion that an invocation by saying something like - let’s have a moment of silence - now lets eat.
Finally, it is interesting to note that this lawyer had been born with a weak heart and by the time he was forty could barely move. His life was restored to normacy by a heart transplant, and he had his transplant surgeon as a speaker at this same Rotary Club. When he introduced his doctor to the club, you would have thought he was introducing God himself.
They say there are no atheists in fox holes. That may have been true in yesteryear, but today who knows. This lawyer’s performance indicates that it possible for modern man to brush up against death and come away no closer to God than before..... (prepared by HVM on 1/20/2006)
A More Rational Approach to Prayer in Public School - People, particularly young people, need a sense of the transcendent, of spirituality, of religion, etc. This need can be denied or covered over with day to day concerns, but it will come out (and oftentimes in the midst of personal crisis when bad decisions are easily made). If young people are (1) told they have a need for religion and (2) given some early exposure to religion, they will have the minimal understandings they need to pursue greater knowledge of religion as they go forward in life.
The question is .... how does society infuse some religious education into our public schools without violating the spirit of religious freedom intended by our founding fathers? Historians generally agree that the founders did not want the first amendment to give “Americans freedom from religion” rather they intended it to give “Americans freedom of religion”. So ideally the public schools should expose students to various choices in religion without promoting a particular religion.
A good way to do this might be to have the parents of the students designate a religious preference, and then have the schools organize prayers and explanatory sessions for those preferences of say five minutes in length which would be used at the beginning and end of each school day. The proportion of days devoted to each of the religions should be the same proportion as the number of parents who choose that religious preference. If 24% of the parents express a preference for the Baptist faith, then 24% of the school days that year should feature Baptist prayers and explaiations.
If parents expressed a preference for atheism or agnosticism, sessions on these would have to prepared and used. If parents expressed a preference for witchcraft or pre-historic religion involving human sacriface, the school might have to prepare sessions that explain from an anthropological prospective how man has moved beyond such beliefs practices. If parents designate a main line religion such as Catholic, Hindu, Islam, Lutheran, etc., the local ministers for those established religions might help prepare the sessions.
This approach will not sit well with the Supreme Court which has decided that no religion in school is better than a variety of religion. The society is crumbling as many of our young people sally forth from our public schools bereft of moral values or any sense of their place or purpose in this world. America does not have a easy way to tell the Supreme Court to change its ways. The county needs a mechanism to rein in wayward Courts, but that’s a subject for a different essay......
(prepared by HVM on 1/26/2006)
About Spenders and Accumulators, Givers and Takers, and Winners and Losers - Everyone has noticed that some people of their acquaintance seem to always find a way to increase their wealth through systematic savings or well considered investing while others are chronically short always spending more than their available resources. In like fashion, everyone has noticed that in life some people are always busy getting things done for themselves and those around them. While others are always procrastinating or worse messing things up. They let others do their work, or clean up their mess, or, in some cases, they just live off the efforts of others .
Nations are a little like people. Some nations are savers and producers while others are debtors and consumers. Some nations have high savings rates at both the country level and individual level while others simply overspend at both levels. The consequences of this behavior is that the producing/saving nations will eventually have to bail out the profligate nation and, in the process, lay down the terms of readmission to the community of nations. Recently the US and IMF had to do this with Argentina. What was surprising was the fact that the US’s foreign debt per capita at that time was more than Argentina’s foreign debt per capita.
For the US the situation grows worse every day. One of these days China and Japan are going to have to deliver the bad news ...“no more putting it on the tab”. The bill will have to be paid. That day will be hard for Americans. Taxes will go up, government services will go down, and the cost of imported goods will jump. The American people have not been prepared for this day by either their political leadership or the news media. The thought of our President being summoned to Asia capitals to humble himself and accept terms, has not been incorporated into this country’s psyche but needs to be....... (prepared by HVM on 2/19/2006)
Back To Basics, a Review of some Obvious (but often forgotten) Facts about the Natural Law - The world is full of order. Planets revolve, the sun shines, season come and go, atoms and molecules form and change, animals and plant grow, reproduce, and die,. The order indicates that a very smart person put it all together. Order does not just happen; in fact, chaos will come out of order if steady intelligent interventions (ie maintenance) is not present.. God must exist to handle the original creation and ordering of the world, and God must be constantly involved keeping it all working properly.
There are many well ordered things in God’s created universe. However, only one of these has a sense of its limitation, has a sense of its eventual death, has a sense that some behavior is “good” and other behavior is “bad”, has a sense of beauty and good. Man is aware of God’s handiwork and by extension God himself. But the question is this: Does God have a special plan for man? A being who has free will and can choose either good or evil certainly should hold a special place in God’s plan. Given man’s special place it is certain God would want to communicate his purpose or plan to man. God must have a plan, or design, or purpose for man and a means of communicating with man.
God communicates to man through the physical, biological, and social structures of the world, also through the situations, openings and limitations each man faces in life. God gave man these factors to show His design. This first method of communication between God and man is called the Natural Law. Additionally, God sent special men to speak to mankind; these messengers were called prophets or sages and their names fill the pages of books: Christ, Mohammad, Moses, Buddha, etc.
Of course, God gave man free will. So man can accept or reject the guidepost laid out by God via the Natural Law. Some men choose to follow God’s lead while others choose their own way without regard to God’s guide posts.
Natural Law shapes man’s life and tells us a lot about what shouldn’t be and what life’s priorities should be. Regarding society and social organization, it is obvious God intended the family as society’s basic building bloc, this is the unit from which the next generation comes, this is the social unit that shelters, protects and educates children until they can participate in society. However, it is equally true that God’s existence can only be realized and responded to by individuals. So we know God as individuals and yet each individual is called to participate in the broader society primarily through family and secondarily through other organizations be they religious, fraternal, business, governmental, etc..
Each individual has an internal compass that orients him to God. He must find a path in life which fits his unique personality to God’s ways. Most men will find that family involvement will be a focal point of his (or her) unique life. Family is God’s principal societal building block This unit teaches people about interacting with others, it teaches men about women and women about men. It brings children into the world and it becomes the chief mechanism by which children and teens learn to become generous, helping adults. For most adults these generous, helping qualities will be shared with their own children later in life. What is good for this unit is good for God’s overall plan. What is bad for this unit is bad for God’s plan.
Larger social organization grow out of the family These include governmental structures and non governmental organizations. These are good (or ill) to the extent that they facilitate family formation and family strength. If an organization (governmental or non governmental) implements a policy or promotes behavior that tends to weakens family that policy or promotion should be opposed.
Before closing it is important to show by example how the needs of families are being frustrated by certain acts by other organizations, governmental bodies, or even individuals:
Example #1 - Families need a steady opportunity for employment that is relatively near home. Government policies that allow massive imports of foreign manufactured goods causes the steady closing of plants and the laying off off workers. These policies can cause families to lose the steady employment they require. These policies can force bread winners to seek employment twenty, forty, or sixty miles from home, creating drive times that disrupt the normal daily parent/child interactions. Therefore the government needs to adopt policies that control imports such that no more than 1% of factories nationwide close in any year. Contrast this with the fact that in the period 2000 to 2006, about 1/6th of all manufacturing jobs in US disappeared.
Example #2 - Freedom from anonymous anti-social behavior around children is a requirement for healthy families. This means that robbers, muggers, drunks, prostitutes, etc. have to be tightly controlled so that children are not corrupted in their neighborhoods. Today, in many lower class neighborhoods, the number of police is not adequate to reign in these anti social pathologies. In addition, in cities unwholesome elements can travel just a few miles and take their pathologies and anti social behavior into nicer neighborhoods very easily. Parents try to escape to the far suburbs to reduce the possibility of this exposure, but they pay the price in terms of increased drive times which deprive the children of important contact time with parents. The government needs to move more jobs into smaller communities where anonymous anti social behavior of any kind is nearly impossible to accomplish. In smaller communities people know each other and informal social controls can be a very a effective deferent.
Example #3 - Anytime two people have to work on a common project everyday for many years, tensions will, on occasion, develop. This is true of parents raising children in a family. No fault divorce laws allow parents who are going through a difficult period to break the family up oftentimes without adequate reflection of the consequences for the children. Obviously God does not want people to be stuck living in closel proximity with a person who is physically abusive, or a daily drunk, or a spendthrift; however, no fault divorce as practiced in the US today is obviously a violation of God’s plan to give special protection to families. ............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 2/28/2006)
Want to Save Energy? Manufacture Things Closer to the Consumers - The policy makers in Washington are wringing their hands as the price of oil lingers in the $60 per barrel area and threatens to go higher. However, they continue to push a policy that moves factories out of America, to places thousands of miles away (e.g. China, India, etc.). Now the products these factories produce have to be hauled half way around the world, by oil guzzling boats, trains, and trucks, to be sold by America's retailers. The labor cost to make these products maybe has gone down by using cheap Asian workers, but the energy cost to move the raw materials and finish goods around has shot up. It is interesting that America has millions of workers who want to work in factories, and America has a desperate need to trim the price of oil by reducing world oil usage. Talk about the obvious "win/win", America needs to do the right thing and bring these factories back to the US. .....................prepared by HVM on 3/5/2006
A Few Sensible Changes in Policy Could Help the Black Community Greatly - American society is attempting to cope with large, poor, black populations crowded into decaying sections of this country’s great cities. These people came to their current condition because of slavery, “jim crow” segregation, the propensity of young black men to act out their base urges, and finally a basic lack of raw intellect. While the effects of the first two disadvantages are dissipating (except in the minds of certain blacks); the later two problems remain and truly hamper black progress. (Some might question the truthfulness of these two assertions. The statistics presented in The Bell Curve by Murray and Herrnstein, as well as, the conviction statistics from big city court systems make debate about these two assertions pointless and a serious distraction from more important discussions.).
Consider some obvious, but little studied facts, about the current situation: (1) The well intentioned of American society is using IQ and aptitude screenings to find the relatively few bright black students and get them enrolled in prep schools and private colleges which are in many cases beyond their abilities. A black with a 110 IQ is very bright relative to his fellow blacks, but if he is enrolled in a white private school, far away from his home, where the average IQ is 125, he suddenly feels he is “not so bright”, in fact he might begin to feel "inferior". The trick is to find a way to keep the 110 IQ black associated with his fellow blacks students while also giving him the opportunity to integrate with whites who are at his same IQ level. (2) Blacks of all ages generally deserve the chance to live where they have daily constructive association with whites, and also the chance to live where there is a small enough number of other blacks, so the pathological, anonymous, anti-social behavior characteristic of young black males might be controlled by normal social sanctions, rather than by the police. (3) Since most blacks remain handicapped by their low average IQ (the source of which is undetermined; it might be nature, or nurture, or some combination of these), the broader society needs to find a way to induce blacks into social settings which are less complex and yet more fulfilling.
The solution to these problems seems to lie in small town America where people live close to each other, attend the same schools, shop at the same stores, go to the same political meetings, work together at local employers, etc. These towns offer a simple life style, they offer a community where everyone is known to everyone else, this eliminates the possibility of anonymous, anti-social behavior. A bright black student can find his place in the local schools, not stuck with the “dull” main stream blacks and yet not totally separated from them. This is important. Afterall, the bright black person will, in time, become a leader in the black community. The young black male who wishes to give in to his urge to “cut up” (or worse) has to think twice because everyone knows him, and he is unlikely to get away with “it”.
Small towns have difficulty providing services to the broader society, they have traditionally provided goods. But Washington’s policy is to move manufacturing jobs, the work of small towns, offshore. This means small town people are being pushed into cities which is exactly the opposite of where blacks should ideally be going. Washington needs to say to the World Trade Organization (WTO) “America has an underclass, essentially a third world group within America, that needs manufacturing jobs located in small towns to facilitate their upward movement. Therefore America is going to have to raise tariffs until ten thousand additional small towns in America again have significant manufacturing employment.” Of course, in order to justify these tariffs America is going to have to encourage, through subsidies, the movement of black families to small towns to take jobs at these ten thousand re-energized manufacturing towns. The goal should be 20% black employment in each of these communities. This program would move about 2,000,000 inner city blacks, workers and their families, out of intractable poverty into situations that offer hope; into jobs where advancement to lead man, assistant foreman, and foreman, is a real possibility. Think of it, jobs for blacks that offer advancement without having to obtain a degree, or other credential, the usual hurdle to advancement in the service sector....... ( prepared by HVM on 3/6/2006)
Presbyterian Minister Gives Luncheon Speech on Angels but Ignores God
- It is always a red letter day when religion finds its way into America’s network of civic clubs. The announcement said a Presbyterian minister would address a club luncheon on the Subject of Angels.
The talk began with a heart rending tale about a parishioner who had devoted many years, before her untimely death to breast cancer, going to hospitals and nursing home passing out little metal coins that had impressed on one side an image of an angel. Her mission had been to find people suffering anguish or despair and to press into their hand one of the little coins. This act was accompanied by few if any words. The idea was to let the person see the coin and react as they might.
With this story each one in the audience was given two coins: one to keep and one to give away to a troubled person..
Then followed a second story about another parishioner who had nearly been struck by a speeding auto but at the last minute was inexplicably push back by an invisible hand. This parishioner was certain this saving “push” had been delivered by her guardian angel.
The talk came to an end with an announcement that 4000 angel coins that had been distributed by the Church and an explanation about where the coins might be acquired in Utah. But there was no explanation about how angels had come to man’s attention. There was not mention of the role angels had played in history. There was no mention of the “good” angels and “bad” angels (devils). There was a brief mention that the word angel meant “messenger” but no example from history of angels acting as messengers was given. The talk was similar to the gifts of angel coins that the parishioner had engaged in - Give the coin but say little or nothing of substance.
After the talk, the questions flew “What about the history of angels?” “What is the hierarchy of angels?” “Weren’t angels there when Abraham spared his son? ...when Christ was born? .... when Mary was told about her coming pregnancy with Jesus? “. The minister was careful to say he could not answer any of these questions because the answers might offend some of the people at the luncheon.
A couple of points need to be made: (1) the minister was/is a follower of Christ, in that capacity he has a obligation to take such opportunities to witness, to let people know about his faith, and (2) the audience at the civic club were all adults and had all been given a “heads up” on the subject matter that would be presented, if they were truly offended by religious subjects they could have skipped the meeting. ....... prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/19/2006
SEC Tries to Instill Character and Good Morals into Brokers with a Flood of New Rules and Continuing Education Requirements - The high end of the securities industry seeks out sales people who are able to approach hundreds of people each week, receive a constant flow of rejection, and come back for more. The preferred sales people are generally immune to the normal human sympathies that tell a person to avoid behavior that offends others. Such sales people possess warped consciences (or at least warped sensibilities).
Now these sales people over time move up to in the brokerage industry becoming top salesmen, branch managers, investment bankers, or traders. These men, who have already demonstrated a warped morality, are now in positions to do damage to clients, or the public at large. The horror stories begin to unfold, and the SEC reacts by dumping new rules and continuing education requirements on the whole industry. Rules and requirements that strain the entire industry, high end firms and everyone else alike.
What can the SEC do to correct these problems in the high pressure end of the industry without strangling the small and mid sized firms. (1) Look at the money, the broker's annual income is generally a good measure of the level of watchfulness required.. If a firm publishes a "annual production minimum" that would generate for a broker an annual income in excess of $100,000 that firm might be a good target for higher SEC scrutiny. Or if the actual average take home of the brokers at the firm was in excess of $100,000 the firm might be a good target for enhanced scrutiny. (2) The SEC might institute SEC sponsored psychological screening for all prospective brokers. The psychologists, who were doing the screening, would be looking for candidates who lack well developed consciences. Those that lacked the requisite character would be counseled out of brokerage (or referred to remedial ethics classes before they could take the broker's qualifying exams). (3) Suspect firms would be firms that concentrate on high initial sales charge products (e.g. Equity Indexed Annuities, alternative investments, partnerships, etc), high annual cost products (e.g. separately managed accounts with 2% or 3% per year in fees), and/or the excessive bundling of a single client into multiple financial products in such a way as to make it difficult for the client to break the relationship (e.g. some high end brokers sell a single client: securities, mortgage loans, separately managed accounts, credit cards, and checking accounts).
But it is truly unfair when a brokerage firm, that has attempted to staff up with brokers who are careful with their clients and is free of high production quotes, is hit with the same flow of rules and requirements. Such a firm is likely not to possess the financial resources to hire the staff of compliance people needed to properly deal with such an "SEC initiated" onslaught........ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/29/2006).
How the Vatican Might Proceed with Regard to the Society of St. Pius X and Others Attached to the Traditional Latin Mass (otherwise Known as the Tridentine Mass) - The Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI realize that they have to come to terms with those in the Church that are attached to the Traditional Latin Mass. The situation grows worse every year. In France, for instance, nearly 50% of those that attend Sunday Mass are choosing to attend Traditional Masses.
The path toward reconciliation has been muddied by the way a group of priests devoted to the Traditional Mass was treated in Campos Brazil a few years ago when they tried to have a reconciliation with the Vatican. They were put under a New Order bishop, not a bishop of their own inclinations, who began to require them to say the post Vatican II Mass, otherwise known as the Novus Ordo Mass, these priests had turned control of their churches over to the Vatican and now found themselves forced to say Traditional Mass in people's homes. The priests and people of Campos feel betrayed and their experience means that the Vatican is going to have to go the "extra mile" in order to build trust with the world wide Traditionalists and more particularly the largest Tradionalist group, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) .
The following steps should be taken unilaterally by the Vatican to demonstrate good faith to the SSPX. (1) All Catholic Church world wide should be reconstructed in such a way so as to allow both New Order Masses and Traditional Mass to be said at the central altar. This will require that there be a five to eight foot clearance (flat area) on both the front and back of every altar world wide. Mostly this will simply require re-siting the altar in the large flat areas already provided. In addition communion rails will have to re-installed in many churches. (2) Altar boys in every parish need to be trained in the responses and movements needed to serve at a Traditional Latin Mass. (3) Priest trained in saying the Traditional Latin Mass should visit each Church at least monthly and say a Traditional Latin Mass checking out the training of the altar boys and the adequacy of the facilities. (4) The Pope and the bishops need to issue an order to the parishes that hence forth the priest saying the Mass ( not the pastor, not the bishop, and not the liturgy committee at the parish) will decide if a particular Mass will be New Order or Traditional. Obviously the parish will need time to schedule servers as appropriate for the different Masses. (5) The Missals in the pews will need to be expanded to carry readings etc. for both kinds of Masses. Perhaps the Missals could be published in such a way that if you opened it from one end it was New Order and if from the other end (turned upside down) it was Traditional. All this can occur without any involvement from the SSPX or any other Traditional group.
In 2007 or 2008 once all of the above is running smoothly, the SSPX would be asked to provide training in seminaries so more young priest were up to speed and properly trained in the Traditional liturgy. Perhaps certain young men who wanted to be fully grounded in the traditionalist liturgy might be sponsored by their diocese to attend SSPX seminaries (rather than their usual diocesan seminary) with their educations paid for by their home diocese. Perhaps SSPX priests could be asked to give missions and days of recollection at regular parishes. Perhaps SSPX parishes and normal diocesan parishes might have joint social functions. Perhaps SSPX priests might be invited to substitute for sick or vacationing parish priests.
In perhaps 2011, assuming all that is set out above is running smoothly, the SSPX might be made a formal prelature of the Vatican (like Opus Dei) with the power to select their own leaders. At this point the SSPX would reconnect with Rome, the New Order liturgy and the Traditional liturgy would be in friendly competition within the parishes, as well as the broader church, to see which might win the hearts of the people. ...................(prepared by Hugh Murray on March 29, 2006)
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