Friday, March 25, 2016

We Live our Lives on Holy Saturday

   My favorite Christian holiday season is the Easter season.  There are lots of reasons for that.  For one, Christmas has become too dazzling, too spectacular, and in all honesty too much work for me to really enjoy.  Easter is a gentler holiday.  It doesn't take much preparation.  It comes at a time of the year when everything in nature has been dormant, gray, and inactive for many months.  It arrives at a time when nature is re-awakening after a long dreary winter. 
   The Easter season:  Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday - three days.  Just enough time to reflect, recharge, re-prioritize, and re-connect with family and friends.
    The events that happened on what we call "Good Friday" were not good at all.  That day was full of hatred, violence, envy, murder, hypocrisy, and evil.  The only "good" thing about it is that Jesus died for our sins - thence the name "Good Friday."  But even in remembrance, it's always a somewhat sad day. We contemplate the mock trial and humiliation, the beating, the painful walk along the Via Dolorosa, the hours that Jesus suffered on the cross, the sadness and the confusion of those who were close to him, and our own sins that caused the need for so much suffering.
     In contrast, Easter is the joyful day of celebration that Jesus did not stay in the grave but rose again to conquer sin and death!  It begins with our cheerful declaration that "Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!"  We've repeated it so many times that it becomes almost taken for granted.   Families gather to celebrate over the Easter meal.  Kids find baskets full of cheerfully colored Easter candy and hunt for Easter eggs.  Bunnies and chicks abound.  It's a day of relaxation, celebration, and sometimes excess, though not on such a grand scale as Christmas has become.  It's a fun and happy day.
    Holy Saturday comes in between these two extremes.  After once again reliving Good Friday, the day of death, evil, and sadness, Holy Saturday has a calmness and an ordinariness about it.  Our emotions may still be stunned by the awful events leading up to and culminating in the killing of God the Son.  In fact, all the conditions that led up to Good Friday continue in our world today.  The world is still full of hatred, violence, envy, murder, hypocrisy, and evil, and there is still much sadness and suffering.  Our emotions are stunned and confusion runs rampant.
     Amidst and in spite of all the chaos around us, after Good Friday, we go back to our routines.  We attempt to resume normal living - we shop, cook, clean house, talk to our neighbors, go to work, take care of our children, and carry on.  Holy Saturday is just a normal day like all others.  But for those of us who are Christians, we are carrying a secret inside of us.  Even though it seems that the world has fallen apart around us, we have a quiet sense of hope and expectation.  We have a peace about us.  We have a joyful sense that something big is about to happen, and we do not despair.
        And this is how we live our lives. We know that mankind is evil and there will always be sadness, evil, and death in the world, but we also know Christ has died for us and risen again, and will some day return to set up His kingdom on earth. We know our sins have been forgiven, God loves us, and we can live our lives free from the fear of eternal death and condemnation.  We know if we fall, God forgives us and is there to help us back up.  Jesus has not yet returned to earth, but he will some day and that will be the day for celebration.  We carry a joyful peace inside us, despite the chaos that is going on in the world around us.  The world may think we are deluded, but we are carrying a hopeful secret.  We do not despair.
     We live our lives between the crucifixion and the triumphal return of the Messiah to the earth to reclaim his own. We live our lives on Holy Saturday.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Desperate Times Take Desperate Votes - The Ohio Presidential Primary 2016

     Today for the first time in my life I voted for a U.S. presidential nominee that I really didn't want to win in the general election.   I live in Ohio, one of the "super Tuesday" states, and the Republican nomination hinges on who can win in Ohio, Florida, and a few other key states. This is a winner take all state, with all 16 electoral votes being awarded to whomever wins in the final presidential contest, no matter what the margin is.
   So I had to make a strategic decision.  I am of a working class background and my parents and grandparents were democrats.  My grandparents on my mother's side were European immigrants who came to the U.S. to find a better life.  On my father's side, my grandparents were poor country folk who worked at sawmills and in steel mills.  My father's middle name was Roosevelt.  He was born during the Great Depression, and apparently his parents had a great fondness for FDR and the social programs he put into place to help the working class. 
    I'm also married to a man who has worked in unions all his life and has almost always voted Democrat. So have I.  But this year I voted Republican.  Here's why:
     I can live with either of the Democrats Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as president. Both are good decent people who have spent their lives in politics trying to make things better for normal citizens like you and me.  Bernie seems like a kind hearted, sincere, logical man. He dreams big.  He wants to put college within reach of all and raise the minimum wage.  He wants to clean up the environment and restore jobs.  I'm afraid he's a bit too idealistic and might not have the stamina to stand up to the Republican's fiercest attacks in the general election.  But if he were elected President I could live with that.
      As for Hillary Clinton, one can't spend their life in politics without getting a bit smeared and dirtied.  Republicans have always questioned her trustworthiness and put her entire life under a microscope, but she hasn't withered yet and has probably only toughened under the scrutiny.  She has lots of foreign policy experience as Secretary of State, has served as a senator, and spent time in the White House as first lady.  She has always been an activist for health care reform and women's and children's rights. She's highly intelligent, thinks before she speaks, and is compassionate and rational.  She would make an excellent president.
     But in these 2016 Ohio primaries I voted for a Republican. Why?  Without telling you exactly who I voted for, I cast my ballot for the Republican candidate I thought had the best chance to win Ohio and keep Donald Trump from winning the state. 
     I trust the Democrats will make a rational intelligent choice between Bernie and Hillary, and both will live to fight on another day.  But I can't trust the rest of America to make a rational choice where Donald Trump is involved.  He appeals to people's emotions and baser instincts, and rationality goes out the window.  He stirs up people's hatred against outsiders and encourages a "me first" mentality.  If he were to become the Republican nominee, I think he could rally a lot of support from those who were angered by the election of Barack Obama. The seeds of racism and bigotry are never far under the surface in America, and Trump's putrid rhetoric is enough to get a new bumper crop of ill will and hatred growing. I'm afraid of what this country would become with a president like Donald Trump and I'm willing to use my vote in the primary to prevent that from becoming a reality.
     I'll save my Democratic vote for the general election. That choice will be an easy one.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For - You Might Just Get King Trump

     The more delegates Donald Trump wins, the more brazen and emboldened he becomes.  Now he is throwing protesters out of his rallies  at the rate if one every four minutes, and encouraging his supporters, "if you see someone ready to throw a tomato,  punch them in the face." (Not that anyone has thrown any tomatoes that I can tell.)  And his supporters stand by and say, "He can do anything he wants. He's our next president."  I actually heard a woman say this to a reporter.
     Is that what this country really wants? A crude bigoted bullying president who over steps his bounds and is drunk on power? When during his campaign have you seen Donald Trump display any compassion toward any individual or group? His tactic is to take back what he feels has been unjustly taken away from the great white once-majority and steamroll over anyone or anything that gets in the way.
     And people are loving it - or at least those who feel he is on their side. What happens when the tables turn? Anyone that drunk on power, and you can see his ego expand with every vote cast his way, will not stop at anything if given free reign. If he were to attain power Trump would become a megalomaniac, not stopping until he had trampled over the rights of everyone in reach.
     A similar thing happened in the Old Testament in I Samuel chapter 8.  The Isrealites decided they wanted a king so they could be like other nations.  God through the prophet Samuel tried to warn them against it:

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but theLord will not answer you in that day.”

      Everyone out there who wants to give Donald Trump free reign to trample the rights of Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone who disagrees with him had better heed the warning God gave to the Israelites.  After the king tramples the rights of everyone else, he'll come and  trample you.  There is no satisfying a megalomaniac until he has complete and utter power over everything and every one.  Be careful what you ask for.  You think you're electing a president but you may end up with a king - or a power hungry dictator whose only goal is to control everyone and everything in his reach.

Friday, March 4, 2016

GOP Sounds Trump Alarm.....Finally

     The Republicans are finally becoming alarmed about Donald Trump this week  Mainline Republican leaders including Mitt Romney and John McCain have spent the last few days telling the rest of us what a mess the country will be in if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Up until now they must have thought if they just ignored him he'd go away but that has not happened. It is becoming a real possibility that he may win enough electoral votes to be eligible for the nomination. Whether or not he actually gets it is up for debate. Party bosses are trying to come up with any way possible to prevent it. Although he is "yugely" popular with a certain segment of the American people, he does not really represent the conservative values the Republicans are known for.

     "The Donald", as his first wife Ivana affectionately called him, has an ego the size of California and has brought the political discourse in America to a new low. His language has been coarse and vulgar, he has denigrated many groups of people including Muslims, Mexicans, and women. He has openly mocked the handicapped. He speaks in generalities, making statements like "build a wall between U.S. and Mexico", "don't let in any more Muslims", and "Mexicans are criminals and rapists" but offers very little specifics about what he would actually do or how he would do it if elected. He insults his rivals and calls them names.  The topics in the last debate included the size of his male organ, which he assured us was quite adequate.  This is something which has never been a consideration for any other candidate for public  office.

     Why, then, is he so popular?  He voices many of the politically incorrect feelings and frustrations that some Americans are thinking but cannot express openly. Parallels have been drawn between  Trump ' s popularity and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in post W.W.I. Germany.  Both came to prominence at a time of financial difficulty when the masses were dissatisfied with the state of their countries. Both harnessed these frustrations and played on people's anger and insecurity. Both promised to make their country great again, by demonizing and  eliminating certain undesirable portions of the population.  The reason Hitler was not stopped is because he already had his thugs the S.S. in place and they systematically silenced his opposition. So far Trump does not have any thugs in place, although he recently said that he would have no problem  ordering the military to torture people, kill terrorists' families, and break the law, and they would do it. (He later retracted that statement.)

     So it's about time someone  starts taking his candidacy seriously and coming up with a plan to stop him. Hopefully if he does end up running for president, he will be beaten soundly by whatever Democrat is nominated but even that cannot be guaranteed. After all, nobody thought he would make it this far .  He has done better than anybody could ever predicted, and the more outrageous his statements become the more solid is his backing.  The Ku Klux Klan has endorsed  him.

     If the Republicans care at all about the future of this country, they'd better keep ringing alarms and ringing them loudly. It would be better for them to forfeit this election than to allow Donald Trump to become President of the United States of America.