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Archive for September, 2008

Under the Shadow

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name,
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
~ Psalm 91 (NKJV)

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A Shiny Object

Hannah is drooling. Hannah can’t believe that this stallion is for sale. Hannah cannot believe that if no one buys him as a stallion, they’re going to geld him. Hannah can’t imagine why in the world someone would want to geld this horse. Hannah wishes she could have her mare bred this stallion. Hannah is contemplating how to get to Oregon. Hannah supposes that horse theft could result in jail time.

Hannah is done watching the shiny object now.

Well, okay, maybe not. But seriously… watch his trot during the last minute of this video! *sigh*

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The Best Medicine

Not everything I post on here is serious, silly.

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Brief Commentary

How will the massive and ever-growing government debt in America be paid off? Certainly not by production and taxation. We are beyond that possibility. Certainly not by cutting spending to any meaningful degree. So-much-money is the lifeblood of bureaucracy and the political machine. Only when it is too late will government spending be cut to the bone, as it should be, and then it will be ….. too late.
~ Herrick Kimball, “Emerging Crisis, Population Shift, and the Rural Remnant

I can’t say that I agree with everything in Herrick’s recent blog entry, but I do agree with the above paragraph. It’s not that I’m trying to be pessimistic, it’s just that… I have little faith in our government and the road it continues to trundle down? Yes, let’s call it that. This used to make me panicky, in a way. I looked around and saw how myself and most of the people that I knew, were still very dependent on our industrial culture. But now? Something has changed. I can’t truly pinpoint it. It’s not that we’re necessarily any better prepared. In fact, err… we’re not. It’s not that I don’t think it’s moving distinctly closer on the horizon. But I’ve got a strange peace about it. God is in control. It doesn’t mean that the consequences for our country’s actions aren’t coming. It means that even if they are, we’re still in His hands.

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What’s Your Bearing?

Bearing. Noun. “One’s place and direction relative to one’s surroundings.”  Synonyms: location, orientation, position.

Today I regained a sense of my bearings. Why am I where I am? What is my place and direction relative to my surroundings?

I had a frustrating morning. I wasn’t grading fruit fast enough for my boss’s liking; in fact, I was being too meticulous. (It’s not like I’m a perfectionist or anything, is it?)  So I changed a few things up, and started processing the projects faster. Despite this, I was becoming frustrated. I had a headache, and I felt like I wasn’t meeting expectations, and quite frankly… I became stressed. (This is code for “self-focused and miserable” in case you were unaware.) When I came home for lunch, I really didn’t want to go back for the afternoon. However, it’s a very good thing that I did, for God used the afternoon to counter my morning and remind me of why I am where I am.

I began to actually converse with people after I got back from my lunch break, see. Mild banter during the coffee break. I actually started asking questions, such as, “How long have you been working here?” “Are you taking classes at SUNY Oswego?” Et cetera. Well, at one point one of the cashiers came to the back room where I was grading pears, for her coffee break. I asked her how long she had been working there. She asked me if I was in high school or college. She said that she was only a senior in high school. So I asked her what she was planning on doing afterward, or if she had any ideas yet. She told me that she was looking at Pre-Med. “If you don’t mind my asking… why are you looking at that?”  Her answer? “Well, I don’t know. It looked interesting.”  A moment later… “And they make lots of money, so that’s good.”  It honestly took me aback somewhat. I think I offered a non-commital, “Oh, well, that’s interesting.”  Her break ended, and I was left to my thoughts. Is that all she wanted to do? Was that her only motivation? Her only passion? They make good money?!?! Did she not have any focus beyond that? Where does that leave you? To go and try to buy yourself happiness while you scramble from patient to patient, with no true love for what you do? All these questions began to run through my mind, and I was reminded of my bearing.

I believe that people have a purpose. Those of you that know me know that I have a passion for children with special needs, and reminding the world that they were created for a purpose, that they are here for a purpose, that they have value. But sometimes… I wonder if that’s not all. It’s not just about the special needs children. It’s about people in general. It’s about the people wandering around who have no focus. Who don’t realize that God has put them on this earth for a reason. Whose focus is so misplaced that they would decide on a career simply because it would make them lots of money. What kind of an empty life is that? A life of self-focus, of self-indulgence, of hoping that buying the next thing will finally make you feel good? That keeping up with the Joneses is the best you can do? Forge the Jones family for a moment, if you will. Look beyond the corporate ladder our culture is feeding you images of, for just a moment, and have a passion for what you do. Remember that “He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6b). God is there. And He loves us. And He’s working in us. “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:11-13)  You want joy? You want passion? Set yourself aside. Love others.

Well, this post ended up being slightly different than I had intended at the outset. But. Suffice to say, I regained my bearings. I see now why God has me where He has me. I don’t know if I will see doors open. I don’t know who will water any of the seeds that God might plant by using me. But I do know that I need to be asking questions. I need to remind people that there is a reason to live, a reason to move forward, a reason to make the most of where you are right now. And the only way to do that… is to live it. Passionately. Even on the days that I feel like I’m just messing up. Especially on the days that I feel like I’m just messing up.

Edited to add: You want an example of a man who lived passionately? Take a look at Thomas S. Vander Woude. Would we be willing to do this? Would I? Would you?

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Warning: I am riled. The following will not be pretty. But I needed to say something.

Disclaimer: A more coherent viewpoint will be offered in the future.

Now, on to the segment “in which Hannah declares her disconcertion and general distrust of the government as a whole”. Please note that unless otherwise stated, the quotations on this page are from TIME Magazine’s “A Time to Serve – The Case for National Service“.

As the Constitutional Convention of 1787 came to a close, after three and a half months of deliberation, a lady asked Dr. Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”
— ANECDOTE FROM THE RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL CONVENTION OF 1787, ED., MAX FARRAND, VOL. 3, APPENDIX A, 1911

A republic, if you can keep it. The founders were not at all optimistic about the future of the Republic. There had been only a handful of other republics in all of human history, and most were small and far away. The founders’ pessimism, though, came not from history but from their knowledge of human nature. A republic, to survive, needed not only the consent of the governed but also their active participation. It was not a machine that would go of itself; free societies do not stay free without the involvement of their citizens.

“Freedom isn’t free.” Gotcha. Personal responsibility.

Today the two central acts of democratic citizenship are voting and paying taxes. That’s basically it. The last time we demanded anything else from people was when the draft ended in 1973. And yes, there are libertarians who believe that government asks too much of us — and that the principal right in a democracy is the right to be left alone — but most everyone else bemoans the fact that only about half of us vote and don’t do much more than send in our returns on April 15. The truth is, even the archetype of the model citizen is mostly a myth. Except for times of war and the colonial days, we haven’t been all that energetic about keeping the Republic.

That’s right, we’re not taking that personal responsibility very seriously at this moment in time, as a culture, now are we?

We are at a historic junction; with the first open presidential election in more than a half-century, it is time for the next President to mine the desire that is out there for serving and create a program for universal national service that will be his — or her — legacy for decades to come. It is the simple but compelling idea that devoting a year or more to national service, whether military or civilian, should become a countrywide rite of passage, the common expectation and widespread experience of virtually every young American.

So, yes, let’s use our government clout to require “a countrywide rite of passage” to make them get involved! In order to ensure the future of our free society, let’s… force everyone to get involved and care.

Am I the only one not seeing the logic in this? Am I the only one who is extremely disconcerted here? I read an excerpt from McCain and Obama Share Stage Briefly at Service Forum that was cross-posted at the Free New York Blog, and it only drove the point home. In fact, it was what intrigued me in the first place:

“Would you perhaps ask Sen. Obama to be a member of your Cabinet for national service?” moderator Rick Stengel asked.
“Yes,” McCain said with a laugh. “You know, every time we see a problem, we sort of — let’s create another Cabinet post. Now, we have got so many members of the Cabinet, that the Cabinet never meets, as you well know. So, I’d rather see a powerful, influential, outstanding person sitting in that office who I could literally deal with every day.”
Obama –- when asked if he would accept McCain’s offer –- said not just yet.
“We’ve got a little work to do before we get to that point,” Obama said, laughing.
When asked, if he won the presidency, if he would ask McCain to be a member of his Cabinet for national service, Obama said yes, and joked again, “I mean, if this is the deal he wants to make right now.”

As far as what Free New York Blog said about that?

If you are a real conservative or a libertarian and you’ve been fiddling with the idea of voting for McCain, how could you live with yourself after pulling that lever? A vote for McCain is a vote for Obama and a vote for Obama is a vote for McCain. You’re screwed either way!

And I like the comment that Michael Rebmann made in response to that blog entry: “I tuned in late and thought I was watching a History Channel piece about the Hitler Youth Program.”

Perhaps I’m just one of those “right-wing conspiracy theorists” who doesn’t trust the government enough. So be it. Can anyone explain to me why we should let the federal government swoop down into our states and make us work for them? Oh, what’s that quote… gah. I can’t believe I don’t remember it. It was something along the lines of any government large enough to take care of its people is also large enough to control its people? Of course, I’ve also got random V for Vendetta quotes flying around inside my head right now, but if I start spouting those off, who knows what will happen?

At various times in American history, public service and private effort went arm in arm. After Pearl Harbor, Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam exhorted people to help the war effort, and Americans responded.

My friends, there is a big difference between “exhorting” and forcing! Yes, Americans responded – and you know what? They can do it again! Our entire cultural outlook is nothing but consume and waste, and that needs to change. But it needs to change within the people. It needs to change within the hearts. It does not need to change by the government handing every child a shovel before they let him enter the workforce. And what would this mean for homeschoolers, out of curiosity? A “rite of passage”? Who decides what this rite of passage is, exactly, and when it happens? Can you opt out? And if so, what would be the government-imposed repercussions of not participating? Now, folks, don’t try to give me some line about how the government wouldn’t do that. If they required this “rite of passage”, there would have to be some sort of repercussion that would allow them to enforce it. The whole “for every action, an equal and opposite reaction” bit? Yeah, that.

So what would a plan for universal national service look like? It would be voluntary, not mandatory. Americans don’t like to be told what they have to do; many have argued that requiring service drains the gift of its virtue. It would be based on carrots, not sticks — “doing well by doing good,” as Benjamin Franklin, the true father of civic engagement, put it.

I’m not convinced.

Every time an American baby is born, the Federal Government would invest $5,000 in that child’s name in a 529-type fund — the kind many Americans are already using for college savings. At a rate of return of 7% — the historic return for equities — that money would total roughly $19,000 by the time that baby reaches age 20. That money could be accessed between the ages of 18 and 25 on one condition: that he or she commits to at least one year of national or military service.

Out of curiosity, where is the federal government getting this $5,000? From its already rising deficit spending? Oh, that’s right. We’ve got this handy thing called the American people that we can just tax more in order to get what we need.

Says City Year CEO and co-founder Michael Brown: “It’s a new kind of government philosophy about reciprocity. If you invest in your country, your country will invest in you.”

It wouldn’t be our country investing in us… it would be like social security in a different format! We take it from you now, and you can have it back then. Assuming that, you know… we haven’t blown it on spending in a different area, and, ah… our money is still good for anything. Oh, and what’s this? An “education corps”?

The idea here is to create a cadre of tutors, teachers and volunteers who can help the 38% of fourth-graders who can’t read at a basic level. The members of the Education Corps would also lead after-school programs for the 14 million students — a quarter of all school-age kids — who do not have a supervised activity between 3 and 6 p.m. on schooldays. Studies show that students who spend no time in after-school programs are almost 50% more likely to have used drugs and 37% more likely to become teen parents than students who spend one to four hours a week in an extracurricular activity. The Corps members would also focus on curbing America’s dropout epidemic.

Call me a head-shy horse, I don’t care – be ready for the absolute change in metaphor, folks – but you get your sticky fingers any deeper into education than they already are, friend, and… I’ll warrant that they need to be slapped with a ruler for their candy-hungry ways. (Okay, enough with the “thieving child caught stealing candy” metaphor.) The above paragraph honestly sends shivers down my spine. An education corps?!?!

Senators Christopher Dodd (Democrat, Conn.) and Thad Cochran (Republican, Miss.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (Democrat, Conn.) have sponsored a bill that would support a service “rite of passage” for students before they begin high school.

Again, I wonder: what about the homeschoolers? What about children attending private school? You know, the people whose children aren’t already fed to the system?

The new Rapid-Response Reserve Corps would consist of retired military and National Guard personnel as well as national- and community-service program alumni to focus on disaster preparedness and immediate response to local and national disasters. The program would initially train 50,000 members, who could be deployed for two-week periods in response to emergencies and serve under the guidance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

I swear this whole thing would make a really good script for a doomsday movie. Oh, man…

Picture West Point, but instead of learning how to fire an M-4 and reading The Art of War, students would be studying the Federalist papers and learning how to transform a failing public school. Conceived by two former Teach for America corps members, Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond, the U.S. Public Service Academy would give undergraduates a four-year education in exchange for a five-year commitment to public service after they graduate. The idea is to provide a focused education for people who will serve in the public sector — either the federal, state or local government — and thereby create a new generation of civic leaders. Asch and Raymond were so dismayed by the government’s response to Katrina that they wanted to create a new generation of people who were idealistic about government. “We need an institution that systematically develops leadership,” says Asch. “We need to elevate it in the eyes of young people so we can attract the best and the brightest.” The idea has been endorsed by Hillary Clinton and Pennsylvanian Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who are co-sponsors of legislation that would allocate $164 million per year for the envisioned 5,000-student academy.

“They wanted to create a new generation of people who were idealistic about government.” Excuse me? Idealistic, rather than practical, sure. Let the government fix all of our problems. *sigh*

Between 1944 and 1956, 8 million returning veterans received debt-free education, low-interest mortgages or small-business loans. The GI Bill helped assimilate those young men into a new postwar society and helped turn America into a middle-class nation. A new GI Bill for national service involving men and women, young and old, could help secure America for the future and turn every new generation into a Greatest Generation. The courageous souls who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The least we can do to keep the Republic is to pledge a little time.

What did they sign? Oh, that’s right. The Declaration… of Independence.

Not dependence.

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The Perfect Candidacy

Baggins-Gamgee 08

Baggins-Gamgee '08

Count me in.  Hehe.

Found via Mental Multivitamin.

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