Current Event Friday 22

Is there a war on civility? The topic of the latest #CurrentEventFriday.

A week and a month are coming to a close today, and if politicos are to be believed the end of an era too. All fitting for today’s #CurrentEventFriday.  I almost discussed the end of Justice Kennedy’s tenure on the Supreme Court, but that’s going to get enough attention, and I can always wait and discuss his replacement soon enough. I thought instead I’d discuss civil disobedience or what others might call civility in the face of hostility.

Image result for sarah huckabee sanders

In case you missed the news recently, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service by a restaurant in Lexington, VA named The Red Hen. This drew praise from progressive-minded folks who saw the restaurant owner as upholding a standard of enforcing the mores and values of progressivism against an antagonistic and so-called fascist spokesperson. I’m all for free expression by businesses and letting the market determine consequences for such decisions, so the restaurant is free to make the decision to refuse service. Now here’s the rub, the same folks celebrating this denial of service were complaining only a week ago about the legal obligation that Masterpiece Bakery should be required to provide service to a gay couple. Pardon me while I take a Pepcid® to stomach the hypocrisy of the Left.

We also saw Rep. Maxine Waters openly encourage not just denial of service but open resistance to the Trump administration. Shortly after her press conference, we saw Elaine Chao and Mitch McConnell actively harassed at their residence by a crowd of progressives. I also saw on Twitter Wednesday night a video of a conservative reporter consistently asking Maxine Waters about her comments about resistance and its consequences. Rep. Waters just kept sidestepping the questions and growing irritated demanded the reporter come to her office to ask the questions. To my knowledge, that meeting has not happened. (I’m also not going to hold my breath that it ever will).

We’ve also seen civil disobedience in terms of boycotts by Parkland student David Hogg, Et al. towards Publix® supermarkets and advertisers on the Laura Ingraham program. Many of Laura Ingraham’s advertisers chose to end their sponsorship. Publix® also decided to withdrew support of an NRA-endorsed congressional candidate, which Hogg wanted, but they withdrew all corporate giving, including organizations sympathetic to the Parkland cause. Yes, you’re hearing Alanis Morrissette singing along with this news.

I’m bothered by much of the “civil disobedience” by the Left because it’s rife with so much hypocrisy, and it’s a complete 180° from Democrats of the fifties and sixties during the civil rights era. Many Southern Democrats were the targets of the civil disobedience by Martin Luther King, the NAACP, SNCC, and the SLC. I’m perfectly fine if anti-Trump private business owners want to refuse service to those they disagree with. The same goes for anti-Democrat private business owners if they want to refuse to serve their opponents. As a proponent of Capitalism and Libertarianism like Ron Swanson I’d remind them of this maxim, “Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

Image result for ron swanson capitalism

Let me add this caveat, the Masterpiece Bakery did have every right to refuse service and I’d probably have made the same decision. From what I’ve read, the bakery was willing to provide other pastries to the gay couple but not a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The bakery is located in suburban Denver, and that means that there were hundreds of other bakeries likely willing to make a cake for the couple and Masterpiece could take the chance of losing business and that’s their prerogative. That’s exactly what happened, another bakery did make the cake and it didn’t really change much for the wedding. The couple chose to push a step further and challenged the baker’s right to refuse service by filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission as a vindictive act against the bakery.  I don’t really think the government has a right to punish a business owner and cause them to violate their conscience. The Supreme Court pretty much affirmed the same sentiment when they concluded the Commission acted unfairly and more heavy-handed than was necessary. I also think the business owners in the Civil Rights era should’ve been challenged on their refusal of service to African-Americans because race is an unchangeable physical trait. It was also worth challenging because the law enforced segregation and there were no other options for service unlike in the Masterpiece case.

I’m also not opposed to debating or not participating with those whom you disagree. I’m all in favor of actual civility amidst disagreement. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too much violence in the last couple years. I know each side blames the other, or media, or whatever. I do think that some of the legacy media gin up the stories of violence and it exacerbates the problem, and some politicians add to the problem by encouraging hostility. If they would encourage discussion, that would keep tempers low, but for the media it won’t get ratings.

What about you? Do you disagree with me? If you do, I won’t let you eat at my restaurant. Just kidding, I’m not that petty.

I Got You Babe

Today is the day to celebrate America’s favorite fictional lumberjack.

It’s summer and that means tank tops and swimming gear not flannel and logging gear, but today is Paul Bunyan Day. Like Sonny had Cher, Paul Bunyan had his Babe. The only difference for Paul Bunyan is that his babe was a blue ox. Paul Bunyan, the fictional hero of American lore is just one of a handful of heroes included in tall tales.

Tall tales are often fictional stories with unbelievable elements consistent with mythology and legend, but rather than ascribing godlike qualities to the characters tall tales use a character that is more human. More often than not, tall tales also seek to help explain landmarks or events in an earlier time. Tall tales are much more similar to legends since they include humans, but the exaggerated accomplishments of tall tales are the hallmarks of that genre.

Likely the most well-known character of tall tales is Paul Bunyan. He is said to have unintentionally created many American landmarks. Among the claims is that as he and Babe traipsed through the Midwest their deep footprints created the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota as these footprints filled with water. Another claim is that Paul Bunyan created the Grand Canyon as he was dragging his axe behind him and creating a deep trench.

Among other exploits of Paul Bunyan’s story is the enormity of his personal possessions compared to the average man. For example, his cooking skillet was more than 10 miles in diameter and had to be greased by some local citizens skating on it with greased skates. More than that, when the skillet was heated, it melted snow around as far away as the next county over. Luckily though, Paul was more than helpful sharing food for the citizens. Supposedly Paul had planted pumpkins and corn in the summer and harvest time came and Babe had to help pull the pumpkins out of the ground to protect the nearby homes and Paul had to use railroad ties to harvest the corn. As Paul put pressure on the corn plant’s stalk it sent corn flying all over the Midwest and that’s why states like Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska are so well-known for their corn. So, thanks Paul Bunyan.

While all these stories are fictional, it’s still a fun day to celebrate. So, eat some of Paul Bunyan’s favorite food today — enjoy some flapjacks and tell stories about his exploits using your imagination. Short of that, just look up Paul Bunyan and enjoy what others imagined he is responsible for even today.

Poetry Wednesday #11

My latest original poem, “Plate Movement.”

“Plate Movement”

A structure formed as flat as a tire.

It has been born out of a hot fire.

Known even by those in Rome.

Those citizens saw its influence not far from their home.

Now you can find it even in the Pacific Isles.

How was the influence felt for that many miles?

A round formation with an uneven brown and tannish crust.

The shell arrangement colored almost even as dark as rust.

On top of the crust is a coating of piping hot liquid in a hue like cerise.

Bubbling up through that reddish magma, often lots of grease.

Yet it’s crowned and ringed by products from cows in the dairy.

All this put together, and yet people enjoy it while they carouse and act merry.

It’s obvious, and like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie.

Of course, I’m talking about pizza pie.

sliced pepperoni pizza on white ceramic plate
Photo by Sydney Troxell on Pexels.com

© Ryan Stroud 2018

History Monday #18

I confess that this #HistoryMonday is important for Christianity

A new week and that means it’s time for #HistoryMonday. We’re looking back almost 500 years today to a significant event and its accompanying document it produced. For those of you doing the math, hopefully you’ll realize it’s not the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution because their dates were only two centuries ago. It’s also not the Magna Carta or the Mayflower Compact, either.  You might be thinking Martin Luther’s 95 Theses outlining his problems with the Medieval Catholic Church, and that’s a reasonable guess and you’re in the ballpark, but for ReformNerds, they know that happened on Halloween in 1517.

The event and its document presented on this day in 1530 and was titled both Augsburger Bekenntnis and Confessio Augustana for their respective audience. [Yes, mom I’m showing off and using German & Latin]. We refer to this document to as the Augsburg Confession. That may still not mean much to laymen either. Lutherans and other theologically trained readers know the confession as the basic tenets of the Lutheran Church.

So, you might ask yourself, why had Luther and company not written down their creed in the almost fifteen years since his attempts at reforming the church? Good question, the simple answer is surprisingly politics. Luther’s first few years were spent trying to find a way forward as a good Catholic. Upon Pope Leo’s release of Exsurge Domine in 1520 that Luther released that would no longer be possible. Luther and much of those in the Holy Roman Empire that would be under threat of arrest and execution for their new faith for the next decade. The impetus for the Augsburg Confession was politically motivated by the Holy Roman Emperor and the Spanish King Carlos V. Yes, often European kings also were Holy Roman Emperors, thanks to papal appointment to the Holy Roman Empire if they were good Christian Kings in their ruling country. Thus, why we have a separation of Church & State here in America. Anyways, Carlos V had urged Luther and those in the Germanic region of the Holy Roman Empire to draft articles of religion to be presented to the Imperial Diet for review in order to maintain a catholic church facing advances from Turkish invaders.

Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, and Justus Jonas had drafted earlier religious articles a year earlier, and these served as the rough draft to what would be the Augsburg Confession. These three were joined by Johannes Bugenhagen in March to begin drafting the Confession, several other leaders and theologians from the Germanic region of the empire would continue the work in Augsburg in May, minus Luther due to his less-than-friendly with the church.

For reference, here is the confession in its entirety as part of the Book of Concord, the official book of doctrine for Lutheran churches: http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php#article1.  Coincidentally, the first edition of the Book of Concord was compiled on this date in 1580 as recognition of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession.

The Augsburg Confession was presented to the Imperial Diet being read in both Latin and German, and the chancellor of the region of Saxony who had helped compile the confession made sure to read the German language edition of the confession loudly enough for the public to hear outside. This was done to make sure the public could hear and approve what was being read, against Emperor Carlos V’s objections.

fast forward

So, for us today these are important doctrinal standards for those of us who identify as Protestants, and especially Lutherans. The Augsburg Confession contains 21 affirmative confessions of faith for Lutheran believers, some that contrast directly against Roman Catholicism; the confession also includes 7 outright rejections of Catholic practice of Luther’s Day.

The confession also produced a counter by Catholic theologians that could be used as official doctrinal standards for those who would remain as Catholics even to this day. Although, Vatican II tweaked some of those standards to be more amenable with their Protestant family.

The Augsburg Confession would also prove instructive for the Anglican Church around the same time and eventually for the official doctrinal standards for the Church of England in 1563 known as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.

More personally, the Augsburg Confession and the Thirty-nine Articles are the basis of the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church. Thankfully, there are only 25 articles for the Methodist Church. The former EUB church had 16 articles. Both lists of doctrinal standards for the UMC are contained in the Book of Discipline ¶ 103.

Most importantly, the Augsburg Confession is important today for Protestants in that we all acknowledge that Salvation or Justification is by faith through grace. Essentially, God initiates justification and we as mortal humans choose to accept it. This also means that good deeds done by believers are fruits of salvation not means of salvation. Also, of note, Protestants reject the Catholic view of transubstantiation in Communion, and that the Eucharist must include both the cup and the bread for the congregation, not just the bread. The confession additionally acknowledges that for Protestants it is important to rightly understand confession is important for believers but is not meant as a means of extortion by those selling indulgences and should be private between believers and not public as was the Catholic practice of the day.

Hopefully this gives you some idea about the Augsburg Confession. There were obviously more involved than Luther and the usual suspects of the early Reformed church, but I omitted the names of the contributors and their positions and where the confession was worked on in favor of conciseness in writing. Much of the historical regions and the rulers have been changed completely as the country of Germany has become an autonomous country some 200 years ago. I would recommend looking up the Augsburg Confession at the link I referenced earlier and Googling the Thirty-nine Articles as well as the Historical Doctrinal Standards for the UMC as well. There is some overlap, but there are subtle variations worth appreciating and knowing. I’d also consider looking at the ancient creeds we know as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. It’s amazing how from the early church and a simple confession of Jesus as the risen Lord was more clarified from the ancient creeds to the Augsburg Confession and even to today.

 

Can you believe the Augsburg Confession was written so long ago and could still be relevant today?

Current Events Friday #21

It’s finally Friday I’m free again. I got my motor running for a wild weekend. It’s finally Friday. I’m out of control. Forget the workin’ blues and let the good times roll. Hopefully you’re as George Jones for Friday as you are for another installment of #CurrentEventFriday. Maybe you can celebrate at the topic of today’s post — The County Fair.

County fairs are at least in my context a time-honored tradition of Summer along with grilling out, swimming, and school vacation. I grew up of course going to the Orange County Fair in Paoli, especially when I participated in mini 4-H. I also went for years after that to see friends or classmates’ entries in the fair. Of course, there were also the usual entries of livestock and other farm animals. Plus, it was always good to get a goody bag of pens, chip clips, party favors, and hand fans from various businesses, politicians, and other civic organizations. More than that was the fair food including: elephant ears, funnel cakes, lemon shake-ups, and Italian sausages.

I also went quite often to the Harrison County Fair in Corydon growing up. It had all the same things as the Orange County Fair, but on a much larger scale. The commercial exhibitors included at the Harrison County Fair also included the big regional car dealer displaying the high dollar cars available for purchase at the dealership and U.S. Senate & House candidates rather than the state representative and senate candidates only available at Orange County. Additionally, the Harrison County Fair offered more animals and much more food offerings than Orange County as well. Harrison County’s fair also included a large midway with carnival games and rides that Orange County seldom had. Also, Harrison County had a much larger draw with the demolition derby and tractor/truck pull than Orange County. I can remember staying late on Saturday night and bleeding into Sunday Morning watching the tractor pull, sometimes through holes in the arena fence because we should have been heading back home, but dad wanted to watch the Batliner family out of nearby Floyd’s Knobs and their Massey-Ferguson tractors. Probably not the best idea for young kids, but if you can’t spoil kids occasionally, you’re not being a good parent.

I also can remember learning when talking to my cousin from North Carolina that she didn’t understand county fairs when she’d visit us in Indiana. She explained that the local town festivals were much more important and filled the role of the county fair, and the only fair worth going to was the State Fair. I can appreciate that, nothing tops the state fairs. They have ten times the exhibits, shows, vendors, and days. I’m speaking mostly of the Kentucky State Fair held every August in Louisville, I can’t remember going to the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.

I write all this, and I have all kinds of fond memories of the county fairs at both Paoli and Corydon, but I’m sure my youth and the quality of nostalgia have romanticized the experiences much more than is realistic and honest. I haven’t been to the Orange County Fair in over 6 years, but I remember even the last time I went that it was underwhelming. There were only 3 food offerings, 20 commercial exhibits, and no rides. The number of craft exhibits, and animal exhibits were still the same, and the crowd was the same number, but it just didn’t seem as appealing as when I was a kid. I worked on Tuesday night at the Harrison County Fair for the homeless ministry I work for and noticed the commercial booths were sparse, even in the large air-conditioned and relatively new building. I thought maybe the craft exhibits might be better, but they were underwhelming, even the political candidate booths were lacking big names too. The food offerings are much more than in my childhood and the midway rides and games are probably just as numerous, but as I’ve gone 3 times in the 6 years I’ve been living full-time in Harrison County, I wish the fair was what it was when I was growing up. I know my mom seems disappointed in that observation as my grandfather was treasurer of the fair board for many years and worked to make sure it was a huge draw for the county. I’m sure he’d be more than a little upset and surely surprised to see what has happened to one of his favorite yearly projects.

I will admit, that at least the food offerings are still as good as before, and the arena events are just as much of a draw, but as the sun starts setting at 10 p.m. in the Summer, I’m ready to turn in and head home. It’s amazing, that’s how I know that my 10-year-old self who didn’t care that the 45-minute drive home in the wee hours of Sunday morning to get home is indignant and incredulous at 33-year old me for wanting to be home by 11 p.m. just ten minutes to home. Take heart kid, the memories are much more worth it then, than the memories now. Also, learn that the ribeye sandwich from the county cattleman’s association is much better than that cheeseburger or hotdog smothered in ketchup, or any of the insane combinations Templeton the rat came up with in Charlotte’s Web.

What about you, do you go to your local county fair? Do they stand up to when you went as a kid? Why or why not?

That’s Some Cool Shirt

Summer and T-Shirts go together like Peanut Butter & Honey

After all the cold and chill of a long winter, It’s officially summer. Today is the Summer Solstice, which means that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will experience the longest amount of sunlight hours in the entire year. It’s already felt like Summer since May, and at least here in the Ohio River Valley we skipped straight from Winter to Summer. We’ve only just been experiencing spring the last couple of weeks. Besides the official first day of Summer, it’s also International T-Shirt Day.

I thought Summer and the solstice get enough credit, so I skipped over it in favor of the more overlooked International T-Shirt Day, a day that celebrates a part of my wardrobe around 300 days a year. T-Shirts are an almost ubiquitous style of shirt. Those who dress more formally will wear a solid plain T-Shirt as an undershirt for use under collared shirts to wick away perspiration and prevent bodily oils from disrupting the material of the collared shirts. This was the historical practice of men wearing T-Shirts during the 18th Century. The Industrial Revolution helped make Tee shaped undergarments that were more form fitted than their predecessors, as these t-shirts became popular for factory workers, miners, and other blue-collar laborers, the trend towards a stand-alone component of attire was at work. The military starting with the U.S. Navy in WWI began including undershirt T-Shirts under their uniforms, but soldiers and sailors in hot climates usually wore the T-Shirt by itself along with the standard trousers on bottom. This practice really took hold in WWII and as with many service practices in WWII became part of civilian life for returning soldiers. Mimicking the soldiers wearing T-Shirts as standalone attire were celebrities Marlon Brando and James Dean, and their popularity spurred the change in attitude of Americans regarding T-Shirts.

I like to wear the plain white T-Shirt under other shirts in the winter to provide an extra layer of warmth during those cold months, but I usually also wear a graphic T-Shirt over the undershirt as well. I’m a fan of the T-Shirt for a few reasons: 1) No time wasted on buttoning, 2) No long sleeves that restrict movement or get in my way around dinnertime, 3) No need to tuck in, and lastly 4) Means of expressing identity.

Now I know that some people see the T-Shirt as too informal and the only acceptable T-Shirt is as an undershirt or during vacation. Others see it as an acceptable article of clothing usable in ¾ of the events they attend. Still a smaller group sees it as a statement against snooty people and celebrate a feisty blue-collar humility that only undertakers and the deceased wear collared shirt and tie. I fall into the 2nd of these camps. I like to wear T-Shirts in most situations but recognize the need for more formal attire as the occasion calls for it. My mom reminded me that Monday night when I was to meet the parishioners of the two churches I would be serving to dress appropriately. I know that since it was basically a job interview, that a collared shirt tucked in, slacks, and dressier shoes were the attire of the day. I’ll admit, that during the week, these new parishioners will get used to seeing me wear T-shirts and shorts or jeans depending on the temperatures. I’m sure that if this becomes a problem, I’ll hear about it and I’ll adjust according to the expectations. I might also direct them to this blog post too. 😉

 

What are your thoughts on T-Shirts? Might I suggest if possible, celebrate International T-Shirt Day by wearing your favorite T-Shirt today.

Poetry Wednesday #10

My latest original poem entitled “Roller Coaster.”

“Roller Coaster”

Everything’s angering me, and it’s not haltn’.

I’m boiling over, so tense.

Why not? It’s always worse when I’ve been to the world of Walton.

Anger clouds my mind, nothing makes sense.

What am I going to do?

I can’t and I won’t move. Too much that’s scary.

Courage and cowboying up just can’t quite cut through.

My head I’m ready to bury.

Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.

No, everything is bad, I know everything is tragic.

What I would give for these tears to experience a drought.

If that happened, obviously that’d be some kind of magic.

Eventually I’ll find days of elation.

Hoping, pleading, and begging for something like euphoria.

Good, the happiness train is pulling into the station.

Those tears of rage, fear, and sadness have gone; now my heart is watered by a joyous noria.

© Ryan Stroud 2018