Monthly Archives: June, 2016

Nativism

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary the definition of Nativism is: ” A policy of favoring native inhabitants as opposed to immigrants.  The revival or perpetuation of an indigenous culture especially in opposition to acculturation.”

Since the Brexit vote to leave the European Union by the United Kingdom there has been a marked increase in hate speech, xenophobia, and bigoted racist actions and remarks.  These have often been perpetuated upon British citizens who simply may have a different ethnic origin than Anglo-Saxon.  One of our fellow bloggers had such an awful thing happen to her, a British citizen, by an ignorant bigoted person just this week.

In the United States, since the Presidential Primaries began, an affinity for a political  point of view boldly expressed by Mr. Donald Trump has caused a resurgence of open racist incidents where bigoted myopic individuals have become emboldened by Mr. Trump’s fascist remarks.

At our own University an African American woman was harassed by fellow white student who identified as supporters of Donald Trump during two open forums at her dormitory.  Among epithets used during the meetings were the Trump supporters admonishment to the African American, “To go back to Africa!”

If our Nativist political leaders want to be true to their isolationist passion…then in America the Native Americans should have cast the rest of us out…long ago!

Great Britain became a world power by colonizing nations and their citizenry around the planet.

Immigration is the cornerstone of both the founding of but also the building of and success of the United States.  Virtually all of us came from somewhere else.  To castigate and threaten other human beings, many of whom are as much a citizen…or more, than the bigoted hateful person hurling the hurtful epitaphs… is the keynote of a coward.

When our hallowed English/American ancestors…our Founding Fathers… decided it was just and godly to put their fellow humans into servitude and take them from their indigenous home…and make them bond men and women…was that Nativism?

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Sad But True…

Please read this timely and thought provoking blog from my friend Ritu.

But I Smile Anyway...

Britain seems to be losing its Great…

I didn’t ever think I would be at the receiving end… (don’t know why) but today I experienced my first Brexit fuelled racist verbal abuse. .. surrounded by 3-4 year olds who were subjected to an f-word fuelled tirade…by a large -bottle of -cider-swigging gentleman in Margate.

Lovely.

A child had chucked a stone up and narrowly missed him. I understand his frustration and had this child’s mother seen him, it wouldn’t have happened.

But you know, kids will be kids.

He started by shouting that “You lot should keep an eye on your kids. He nearly hit me with a rock! ” then, seeing me and another Indian mother, said “And why don’t you go back where you came from!”

The other surrounding parents, my class’s lovely parents, were predominantly English by chance.

That’s it!

They were on the case straight away!

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Rough Faith

I recall a song that I was taught as a child, “Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong.  They are weak, but he is strong.”

Our Pastor,  Janice West,  delivered a moving message today on the book of Psalm chapter 13.  “For the director of music.  A psalm of David.  How long,  LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?”  Psalm 13:1  NIV

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During my over forty-six year walk of faith I have discovered that there are segments of christianity that focus on sin and God’s judgment of it…

And there are segments that focus on God’s unparalleled amazing grace.

When you are a member of a church that is based on judgment…usually you are subject to human, fallible, hypocritical judgment.  This type of faith is a no win proposition.  No matter how much you attempt to please a leader or group of elders you ultimately will fail and become disheartened in your quest for God.

True faith in Christ and his teachings rely on him for his beautiful undeserved grace and a determination to follow his directions when he, as Psalm 13 illustrates,  does not appear to be anywhere around you or even listening to your pleas.

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Faith is a life long journey…and not a euphoric high…or a deep in the valley low.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray of those who persecute you,…”  Matt. 5:44 NIV

I have noticed through the years that when a person is telling you what a great christian they are…beware.  In this political season it has become expedient for candidates to expound on their deep christian faith and Bible knowledge.

If a leader says let’s build walls,  ban religions that are different from ours, and brand people according to their ethnicity…where is the stopping point?

Perhaps some of the reason for the recent vote by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union was regarding immigration and the desire to close borders?  Some of the rationale is hard to argue with…if you ascribe to the easy blessed life of the select christian faith and all others be dammed…because it is just to hard.

MP Jo Cox did not think that it was to hard…she was a strong advocate for helping the Syrian people in every way possible.

“You know the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.  All these I have kept since I was a boy, he said.  When Jesus heard this, he said to him,  You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven.  Then come, follow me.  When he heard this, he became very sad, for he was very wealthy.”  Luke 18: 20-23  NIV

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IMG_0346Our burden and blessing is to live the christian life that the Bible outlines…with all of its’ struggle…hardship…and joy.

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Note: The paintings shown are my photographs from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Little Egypt’s Jewel

I usually walk around Campus Lake…as you know.  Today I changed it up a bit and decided to walk the beautiful Campus of Southern Illinois University.  Founded in 1869 as a Teachers College it grew into a preeminent Research University.  Popular alumni of SIU are; Jenny McCarthy, Jim Belushi, John Belushi, Dick Gregory, and Melissa McCarthy, among many others.

Delyte Morris came to SIU in 1948 as its’ President and he became the longest serving leader of the University with twenty-two years of service.  Dr. Morris built the small regional teachers college into the major Research University that it is today.

Having been associated with SIU for over thirty-two years I not only have a great love for our University but also some knowledge of leadership mis-steps that it has taken.

After the over nine year tenure of President John Guyon, Donald Beggs was elevated from the Dean of the College of Education to a two year appointment as President of SIU.  Dr. Beggs was a beloved personality on the Campus and a natural leader.  Under his benevolent oversight the Campus began to flourish.  The SIU Community “took heart” and began to believe that our schools’ one time greatness could be achieved again.  He and his lovely wife Shirley were admired and respected.

When the search for a new chancellor began, as the title of chancellor and president of the University had been reversed by then Campus system leader Ted Sanders, there were assurances made to me…as I was the civil service representative on the search committee…that if there was a “groundswell of support” Dr. Beggs would be appointed as the permanent Chancellor.  Sadly the groundswell happened and the promise was not kept.

The Search Committee had the extreme good fortune to find an applicant with a dynamic personality who engaged everyone on Campus from the janitor and grounds worker to the professor and dean with her genuine concern and heartfelt belief that all of us were important and vital to the success of SIU!  I said at a meeting of hundreds of  members of the campus community that Chancellor Argersinger had caused us to dream again!

Chancellor Jo Ann Agersinger was terminated in under a year on sketchy trumped up charges that made no sense to anyone…and our Community felt like an orphan.

Since then Chancellors have been terminated on a regular basis…with many being less effective than their predecessor.

Now the Governor of Illinois has thwarted the budget of the state…and on July 1st  Illinois will enter the second year without a budget.  SIU is being starved to death…by our elected leaders…in the name of political expediency!

From the days of Chancellor Argersinger when enrollment was twenty-two thousand students…to now where it will be under seventeen thousand in the fall.

Southern Illinois University…the miracle in Little Egypt…and often termed the second jewel in the crown of the state of Illinois…with the University of Illinois being the first.

SIU…the hope of the middle class…a beacon to the world…an educational giant…first mismanaged…now awaiting the whims of a recalcitrant government with their own hidden agenda.

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Tartarin of Tarascon

For your reading enjoyment here is another great blog from Margo Lestz!

The Curious Rambler

The Lovable French Country Bumpkin from Provence

As we saw in the last post, the Provençal town of Tarascon is mostly associated with the Tarasque dragon and Saint Martha, who delivered the area from its clutches. However, Martha isn’t the only slayer of ferocious beasts whose name is associated with Tarascon. The town’s other unlikely hero, who also participates in the annual Tarasque festival every June, is Tartarin. Tartarin of Tarascon is a fictional lion hunter in a novel by Alfonse Daudet written in 1872: Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon, or Tartarin of Tarascon, in English.

Tarasconian Hunters
Daudet tells us that the men of Tarascon had been keen hunters since the time of the Tarasque, when they used to go out and throw stones and spears at the armor-clad beast to no avail. After Martha took care of the pesky dragon, the zealous local lads turned their attention to all…

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European Reflections

Two years ago Mary Jane and I spent most of the month of June visiting Europe with our dear friends Margo and Jeff.  It was an experience that I think about often…to this day.  Although, if I was having trouble remembering the epic journey, Facebook is good enough to remind me of its’ wonders each day with photos that I posted in real time whilst the sojourn was transpiring.

IMG_0301IMG_0308Nice, France was wonderful.  From our walks along the Mediterranean rocky beach to the privilege of being invited to an author’s meeting hosted by well known writer Patricia Sands as guests of our good friend who is an author, Margo!

IMG_0382IMG_0387The above photo was taken on one of our last evenings in Nice.  The Mediterranean is the background.

IMG_0464IMG_0545IMG_0722Venice is awe inspiring in its’ sublime beauty and unique architecture!  It is like nothing I have ever seen.

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IMG_1067This is the ancient farm house that we stayed at while in Tuscany.  The road leading to it was frightening!

IMG_1126Florence, Italy is so overwhelming with its’ ancient art and architecture that I am told some people become light headed upon their first experience of seeing it.

IMG_1210IMG_1153IMG_1409I left Florence with a much greater appreciation of Dante!

IMG_1226IMG_1501I was raised very poor.  Especially the years that my Mother and I had to go it alone.  During those days I would never have had the wildest dream that I would be blessed to visit other countries.  Margo told me that visiting other countries was like reading another page of Earth’s Book.  I not only have found that to be true but would recommend to anyone to travel as much as you can…it has enlightened and energized my mind and life experience.

Or as my favorite quote from G.K. Chesterton states: “We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”

Heroes

British MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in Birstall in Northern England last Thursday.  She died from her injuries.

A few days before her death she had written a heartfelt defense of immigration.  She was a strong advocate for Syrian refugees, and especially children, and a solution in Syria.

Ms. Cox murderer gave his name as, “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” at his first court arraignment.

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After the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, Florida last week hundreds of central Floridians lined up around the block of the Blood Center to donate blood.  OneBlood has been overwhelmed by the donations.

The accounts of wounded victims in the Pulse nightclub assisting others in the chaos at the risk of their own lives in inspiring!

I think that if I have learned anything in my few years on our planet it would be that life’s problems and issues are not solved with trite simplistic answers.  When a leader announces with supreme confidence and braggadocio to, trust them they know what to do, …it is time to question and doubt.  When their philosophy is to build walls …prohibit immigrants of certain religions from entering the United States…label a judge as making poor judicial decisions due to his Mexican heritage and then to chasten your own political party and admonish them to, “Be quite and dont say anything”…it is time to question and to doubt the character and ability of the presumptive nominee.

Mass shootings have sadly become so regular in the United States…that they almost seem commonplace or to be expected.  I believe in gun rights and the second amendment…but do you really think the founding fathers would react today as our spineless politicians do to the mass carnage wrought by semiautomatic weapons that have only a military purpose?

I have heard all of the NRA arguments that guns do not kill but that people do.  Guns are only a tool.  I know tools…I have been associated with tools all of my life…tools didn’t kill all of those little children at Sandy Hook Elementary…tools did not murder forty-nine sons and daughters and brothers and sisters…and father’s at Orlando last Sunday.

Over ninety percent of Americans believe that semiautomatic weapons should be banned as they were for over ten years.  Are there enough heroes in Congress that will simply reflect the will of their constituency…or is there another constituency that they must adhere to?

If it was your child or grandchild at Sandy Hook…how would you feel?

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In Search of Dad

I can remember my Father carrying me on his shoulders and my laughing with the glee of a four year old.  When he would come home from work he would greet me as if I was the most important person in the world.  I rode between he and my Mother on his Harley Davidson motorcycle.  He looked mysterious and cool with his leather jacket and motorcycle hat.  I learned years later from my mother that he regularly carried a gun.

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When I was six years old my Mom and Dad divorced.  I never saw him again.

Aaron and Jonathon are the light of Mary Jane’s and my life!  Nothing has given us more joy than their presence in our lives!  When they and their Mother are happy and well…I am at peace.

Being a Father frightened me at first…I so desperately wanted to be a good one.  The best remedy for the early Dad Jitters is just to dive in…immersion…and let the key ingredient be love.

I often lamented in the early years that my sons did not come with a manual or book of directions.  But then again, what is the fun in that?

I had a minister…many years ago…that took a fatherly interest in me and several of my church friends.  Many of the lessons and admonishments that he shared with me have helped me throughout my life.

This was Dad's birthday. He was 57. Taken in Tennessee

This was Dad’s birthday. He was 57. Taken in Tennessee

Springfield, Ohio "69"

Springfield, Ohio “69”

IMG_2611IMG_2173I wonder if we do not have an innate human desire to find our Heavenly Dad…Father…Creator?

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Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory

Please enjoy a wonderful blog by Jo!

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What do you do when an occupying force moves into your beautiful city?  You resist, of course.  Just how mightily the Poles resisted Nazi occupation was made abundantly clear to me at Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.

It was a damp morning in Kraków, but I didn’t want to waste one of my few remaining days in the city.  I had an imperfect understanding of the location of Schindler’s Factory, but I alighted from the tram, south of the river, and began my search.  I knew that I was in the right vicinity when I entered a huge square, full of sculpted seats and a sad photographic display in black and white. Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square) commemorates the Polish Jews who were imprisoned and died in the Kraków Ghetto between 1941 and 1943.

Oskar Schindler was a Nazi party member and a war profiteer, who earned the gratitude…

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Uncomfortable for Christ

Often I agree…I think…with the premise that we are all God’s children and thus all worthy of the care and consideration of our fellow human beings.  This morning our Director of Faith Development Rev. Laurie Fields preached a thought provoking message.  The sermon was regarding our seeing our fellow human beings as God sees them.  Rev. Fields sited the recent Stanford University Rape Case where the assailant received a six month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.  As Rev. Fields explained to us that,” the first sin the assailant committed was his failure to see his victim as a human being rather than an object to gratify his needs.”

Having been a regular church attender for the past forty-six years I can attest that you grow accustomed to the same faces and personalities that you encounter each Sunday morning.  What do we do when someone enters our sanctuary that is perhaps disheveled…perhaps with an odor…perhaps with the challenges of mental illness…extreme loneliness…or without enough food to eat or money to provide for the basic necessities?  Do we welcome them into God’s House?  Do we connect with them…engage them in conversation and by that I mean perhaps the bumpy type that comes from two humans from different walks of life working to know each other?

I heard Don Lemmon who is a prominent newsman on CNN ask a panel of political commentators if they were racist?  Each said that they were not.  Then he inquired if they regularly socialized with or had people in their home that were of another race?  He then said quietly and humbly that if a person does not do this that they probably had some racist views.  Mr. Lemmon then went on to quote a study that noted that the breaking of this cycle happened when a person of one race loved a person of another race.

Early this morning the largest number of people killed by gunfire ever in the United States occurred in Orlando, Florida.  This tragedy occurred at a gay nightclub where a shooter opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon.  Currently fifty people are dead and over fifty are in the hospital.  These precious human beings were children of God…his creation…not objects to fulfill an evil person’s prejudice upon!  Some of the nicest people I know…my friends…are gay…and I am honored to know them!

When the Syrian refugee flees for their life from their home…their country…their family…all that they have ever known…will I welcome them and give them shelter and succor…and love that transcends their religion and attire and sees them as God’s children…and my fellow traveller through this earthly life?

DSCN4153Tarasque FestivalD0EB7BC0-B311-4C84-A9A5-7EA61C773364Michelle Obama32538D0A-6F26-41C0-8088-868BA9BC542ASaint Martha and Tarasque festival in TarasconMalala YousafzaiHappy International Women's Day, 2016St Martha andTarasqueDSC00010DSCN0022DSCN0857The great author Ernest Hemingway said that, “If you write a sentence that is true you have written a great sentence.”  The truth is that I am not where I want to be in loving and caring for God’s creation.  Are you?