History Monday #23

Several brothers in Massachusetts get a new house today in 1733.

Today’s post for #HistoryMonday comes from an event prior to the American Revolution and the late Colonial period of the United States. Yet the event would be instrumental towards the Revolution and the United States’ founding as an independent nation.

Standard image of masonic square and compasses
The Square & Compass, the symbol of Freemasonry.

It was on this day in 1733, Henry Price a freemason from the Boston area returned from London with a recognition of orders by the Premier Grand Lodge of England — the first ever Masonic Lodge.  Price had been tasked with petitioning the Premier Grand Lodge for a Warrant to be considered regular freemasons in the colonies since 1721.

These early Boston freemasons began meeting only four years after the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge in London. Price not only received the Warrant for an individual Lodge, he was also conferred with the title of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New England.

This Provincial Grand Lodge was historically known as St. John’s Grand Lodge, and chartered numerous Lodges in the Colonies. Some of those early colonial lodges included influential figures of the American Revolution including Pres. George Washington, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin.

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You might be tempted to ask why am I writing about such a specific event that may not have as much broad effect as other historical events? That’s a fair question but given that 14 (or 15) of our Presidents have been members of at least one Masonic Lodge, and like previously mentioned George Washington would be the first President to be recognized for his efforts with Freemasonry. For reference, Pres. Ford was the last Mason to be President.

By way of apocryphal consideration, is the fact that the early freemasons in the Colonies were also determined to hide vast stores of treasure to prevent the British from winning the American Revolution. Whether Nicholas Cage and his friends are convincing of this truth, the conspiracy of Masonic design of America still persists.

Factually, besides several Presidents and other leaders in American History, freemasons are also dedicated to charitable efforts like most other fraternal organizations. Shriners International, a high-level organization of freemasons is by far the most recognized of charitable efforts by freemasons. Local lodges often assist with efforts to better their individual communities, including cleanup after natural disasters or fundraising for medical expenses of a local citizen. In addition, the dues and fundraisers from these local lodges support efforts for those visual impairment and other eye difficulties. Additionally, Grand Lodges and some large local lodges will offer scholarships for undergraduate and graduate studies to families of freemasons and members of the Masonic youth organizations, including DeMolay & Job’s Daughters. I’m obviously familiar with these efforts as I benefitted from a small scholarship from the Indiana Grand Lodge by virtue of my father and grandfather being freemasons themselves. Worth noting, I’ve considered membership in local lodges at various times, and I know my dad is crossing his fingers and hoping I will. We shall see, but I haven’t ruled it out or committed one way or the other.

What do you know about freemasonry? Do you know other famous Masons?

Current Event Friday #26

The Left can’t take a joke and that’s a sad day for humor.

Did you hear the joke about the conservative commentator making the latest star of the Democratic Party look foolish? Chances are if you’re friends with me on Facebook it popped up on your timeline. Although, the previously mentioned Democratic candidate would rather you didn’t. Her outrage and the outrage from others is the subject of today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

For reference here’s the full video that most everyone on the Left is outraged about.

Now, watching any more than about thirty seconds of this video it is obvious that it’s two separate videos spliced together. The answers provided by Alexandra Occasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist bartender from New York turned Congresswoman were from an interview with Margaret Hoover on PBS two weeks ago. Clips from this interview made the rounds on social media last week with limited fanfare. The most damning clip included a portion with Occasio-Cortez explaining her understanding of the situation between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s not always a concern but given Occasio-Cortez has a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs a rudimentary understanding should be expected. Also, since so many on the Left object to Pres. Trump’s ignorance of International Relations, you’d like to think the standard-bearer for your party would be more informed.

Anyways, the reason why I wanted to talk about this whole episode is the outrage on the Left. Alexandra Occasio-Cortez and other Democratic leaders have asked Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Support to remove the video, going so far as to label it with Pres. Trump’s favorite trending topic: #fakenews. Like I said earlier, it’s obviously fake. Even the creator of the video who acts as the interviewer, Allie Stuckey has acknowledged that. Stuckey has also faced demands from Occasio-Cortez, et al. to publicly apologize for misleading the public and propaganda efforts for the Republican Party. Still others have taken it to their own ‘logical’ end and demanded its creator be jailed for slander/libel.

I’ve followed Allie Stuckey for about a year now on social media. She has also produced similar satirical videos for Glenn Beck’s network, The Blaze on parodying an entitled millennial complaining about lack of employment and a psychologist trying to help a Berkley student triggered by a conservative’s speaking engagement on campus. Recently, Stuckey interviewed Daily Wire Editor Ben Shapiro, asking about his supposed contradictions of being an anti-Semitic Jew and a #NeverTrump Trump apologist. Again, these videos are obvious attempts at satire and anyone with half a brain can spot those attempts easily. More than that, these videos are hilarious in their skewering of Leftists. Stuckey who also refers to herself as The Conservative Millennial also has written articles for the Babylon Bee and hosts a weekly podcast for Conservative Review.

It’s also obvious that anyone on the Left has to know that this video with Occasio-Cortez is meant as satire and the feigned outrage is meant to gin up support from their base to raise money on. Yet, most on the Right don’t operate similarly when late-night comedians like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel use similar satirical efforts with Pres. Trump and other GOP leaders. It’s a credit to them to raise money on actual issues of substance.

If the Left actually can’t tell that this video is meant as satire and honestly believes that it’s dishonest propaganda for the Right and Stuckey is being used by conservative outlets to further the Republican agenda, then I’ve lost any respect for them claiming that their intelligence and education is equal to those whom they disagree with on the Right. I’d imagine anyone believing that Stuckey and her team at Conservative Review meant this as anything other than satire would believe this heavily doctored clip from The Simpsons in which Homer is accused of sexual assault. Given the culture of #MeToo, I’m willing to believe that at least a few would miss the discrepancies in the video.

I’ll admit maybe because of my conservative tendencies I’m more than forgiving, but sly editing to demonstrate the problems with Democratic Socialism and the resistance movement from millennials using the opposition’s own words for humor is usually preferable to calling the opposition names like “feckless c**t” or “c**k holster” that comedians like Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert have used towards Ivanka and Pres. Trump respectively. I’m all for humor, much of my personality is trained to humor, especially the snarky variety. I can appreciate humor towards Pres. Trump that is legitimately funny. I’ve even participated in such humor, because Pres. Trump does leave himself open for satire just as much as any President.  To be fair, most politicians should expect satire if they open themselves up for the public spotlight like Occasio-Cortez. You know why nobody makes fun of Don Young (R-AK) on a regular basis? He doesn’t draw attention. The former governor of his state, Sarah Palin opened herself up for satire and definitely provided material.  In my mind, funny is funny whether it’s a conservative or progressive telling the joke. I’d hope that most Americans could agree that funny is funny, regardless of the political  affiliation of the person telling the joke.

Did you find the “interview” with Alexandra Occasio-Cortez funny, and did you realize it was meant as satire?

P.S. Follow Allie Beth Stuckey on Social Media

Twitter: @conservmillen

IG: @alliebstuckey

Facebook: facebook.com/theconservativemillennialblog

Poetry Wednesday #15

My latest poem “Rockin’ Around the Carousel” is a found poem using classic rock lyrics.

Well don’t you know you can go your own way?                                                                            Round, round, get around, yeah, I get around                                                                              Let’s just call it another lonely day.                                                                                                    Tell me why everything got turned around

You make me happy with the things you do                                                                                  Feeling follows me wherever I go                                                                                                    Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through                                                                                      Well I never been to Spain that I know

Whoa listen to the music all the time                                                                                                Go on, take the silver money and run                                                                                              Open up, on that horse I’m gonna climb                                                                                            See the neon lights, it’s ‘bout to be done

Is it you again, comin’ round for more?                                                                                            Faux wild horses couldn’t drag me away.                                                                                        And we don’t need the ladies anymore.                                                                                            I say “High”, you say “Low” What will we say?

© Ryan Stroud 2018

Image result for carousel

History Monday #22

When you wish upon a star…today you get #HistoryMonday

Let’s start this week with a #HistoryMonday that leaves us starstruck. Somehow in researching for this post, I missed this event when I looked at the historic events, but I’m glad it finally stood out to me. I’m hoping it stands out too.

Comet Hale-Bopp 1995O1.jpg
Hale-Bopp Comet shortly after its closest approach to the Sun 

Today’s historic event is fairly recent, happening less than 25 years ago. It was on this date in 1995, astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered the same comet that would bear their name at two separate locations.

The Hale-Bopp Comet was observed by both Hale and Bopp in the skies over the Southwestern United States who reported their discovery to the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams only a few hours apart. After evaluating the separate claims of Hale and Bopp the comet was approved and the discovery announced by the Central Bureau the next morning.

The Hale-Bopp Comet has earned distinction as a more remarkable comet than other recent discovered comets. Hale-Bopp was able to best the Great Comet of 1811 by remaining visible for 18 months, a twofold increase from the 1811 comet. Compared to Halley’s Comet, Hale-Bopp was nearly six times the diameter of the earlier comet. Due to these accomplishments, Hale-Bopp is sometimes also called the Great Comet of 1997. The magnitude of Hale-Bopp’s fame was also furthered by the burgeoning internet.

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Hale-Bopp’s significance over an 18-month period nearly a year after its discovery led to the usual assumptions of amateur observers of comets, meteors, and other Near-Earth objects — UFOs are invading our planet. For the most part, these claims are easily refuted or outright ignored and laughed off. However, on March 25, 1997 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide at the advice of their founder in hopes of gaining access to a spaceship following the comet.

Shortly after the Heaven’s Gate tragedy, the comet reached its perihelion, the point an object’s orbit draws it closest to the Sun. Hale-Bopp’s first observed perihelion was on April 1, 1997. This phenomenon led to the comet’s magnitude rendering it brighter than any other star except Sirius. The comet has continued to be observed with high-grade equipment by astronomers today. As the comet continues to move towards the further reaches of our Solar System it is predicted to only remain visible until 2020 given that other galaxies and objects will occlude the comet.

Sadly, the next appearance of Hale-Bopp won’t be likely for another 2500 years and should reach its next perihelion around Christmas Day in 4385. For reference, Halley’s Comet is expected to make its next perihelion in about 43 years in 2061. Of course, there are other minor comets that show up more often, including one that was in the neighborhood about a week ago.

I’ll be honest in admitting that while Hale-Bopp and Halley’s Comets have passed by our planet during my own lifetime, I don’t remember observing either one. In my defense, Halley’s comet last appeared significantly in our orbit when I was a year old and my memories of 1996-1997 are more defined by heart surgery and transitioning from elementary school to junior high school. I’m interested in astronomy to some extent and I occasionally use an app on my iPhone to help determine what objects I’m observing in the sky. Of course, owning a telescope to view the celestial objects in greater detail would be better. That’s probably a much more worthwhile use of my money than some of the other things I spend money on.

Do you remember seeing the Hale-Bopp Comet? Are you a fan of astronomy?

#CurrentEventFriday 25

A fun end to the week…enjoy!

This week is coming to a close, and much of this week has been negatively focused so I wanted to spread a little positivity with #CurrentEventFriday. You’ve probably seen others trying to spread that same positivity this week, particularly those first responders mostly Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).

If you’ve missed it, almost every local Police Department or Sheriff’s office has posted short videos of their officers lip-syncing to popular songs and subsequently challenging another local department to produce a similar effort. The intent in posting all these videos is promote community outreach by LEOs and humanize them. Sadly, we’ve seen in the last half-decade a demonization against law enforcement by more progressive-minded folks.

I’ve never understood the more recent accusations against law enforcement for doing their jobs. Are there those that abuse their power to demean and harm others? Sure. That’s true of all humanity, there’s always somebody who will misuse power or mistreat others because of bias. I’m fine calling out those who act inappropriately towards ‘the other’ in society. I’ll agree that much of the Southern police in the days of Jim Crow and Segregation acted incorrectly and should be rightly called out. I’d like to think that with fifty years of the Civil Rights Act and 8 years of an African-American President that we’d do better as a society, including our police forces.

Maybe I’m wrong, and admittedly I’m more biased towards Conservatism and I’m friends with a dozen or so LEOs and they behave appropriately, fairly, and compassionately towards everyone they encounter. Their attitude and behavior are reflected by their social media accounts that included a couple of them participating in the Lip Sync Challenge 2018.

I’m hopeful that with enough goading that those that haven’t posted any videos for the Lip Sync Challenge 2018 will post one soon. We shall see, and I’ll hit the thumbs up on those videos when they do get posted. So, law enforcement friends that haven’t posted, please get on the ball and show your musical chops.

I’m also a fan of these videos because I’m always singing along to whatever is on the radio or on Spotify® because that’s what my father and his family have taught me. They also taught me that often just singing along isn’t enough and air guitar, air drums, or air piano are necessary when listening to songs. I’d probably struggle with the lip-syncing because I’m my father’s son and I must verbally sing along and can’t lip-sync only. That’s just who I am, which is only a problem because I also have the tendency to be slightly off-key as I sing along. 😉

Having disclosed all that about my lip-syncing challenges, here’s my entry for your entertainment:

Are you enjoying the Lip Sync Challenge from Law Enforcement Officers?

Radical Hospital-ity

One of the hardest parts of clergy life and how I deal with it.

This week has been particularly rough for me. I’ve been in a new appointment only three weeks and multiple parishioners in the churches I’m appointed to have ended up in local hospitals. Obviously, it’s rough for those parishioners but the expectation of pastoral care weighs on me. I am trying to show Radical Hospital-ity, yes, many UMCers will recognize my wordplay on of Bishop Schnase’s practices of a fruitful congregation—Radical Hospitality. If you want to read more about that practice and the other four you can find the book here: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations 

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A priest visiting one of his parishioners in the hospital

Pastoral care or visitation is not my strongest quality as a pastor. My ability to speak in front of crowds and proclaim the Word comes easily to me. It is ingrained from my paternal family members and I’ve been able to hone that skill over the six years as a pastor and the ten years prior as a lay servant (think substitute preacher). I’ve also had to learn administration and ordering the worship service and I have seen some progress. I have gotten better at the pastoral care in the last six years.

I think the reason it’s challenging and other pastors I’ve spoken with concur, it’s because it always reminds us why we have a job and that we live in a fallen world. Pastors like any human being know that we get the occasional cold or allergy. Maybe we suffer headaches or other pains like our parishioners, so we can make our peace. The challenge comes when the parishioners end up in the hospital due to surgery, infection, and other maladies. Clergy often are privy to moments with family when hard news is delivered by medical staff only to hold that information until the family disseminates that information to the public. What’s hardest is seeing parishioners suffering greatly because this hammers home the point that we clergy are not immune from the sufferings of our world.

Clergy know that in proclaiming the Gospel that we live in a sin-tainted world and the choices we make as sinners and the choice made by the first parents have consequences. We preach that sin entered the world in Eden and that our personal sin had bound us to sinful desires that Jesus cancelled it through His Crucifixion and Resurrection. Seeing the consequences of sin and suffering is much harder for clergy.

Thankfully, like medical professionals and counselors we have support systems and we are encouraged to use them.  I have a handful of local pastors that I can share my concerns with and vice versa. It’s from my pastoral support group that I can share my deepest concerns and be encouraged to continue my growth process with pastoral care.

Admittedly, I am hoping and praying that my parishioners will be on the road to recovery and resume their specific functions in the life of the church. I’m also hopeful that my presence at those hospital bedsides helps to build trust with those parishioners and their recently appointed pastor. Regardless, it also helps to at least provide both parties an opportunity to get to know one another as regular people.

I’m also aware that I need to practice Wesley’s instruction to visit from house to house as well. That’s an area of growth similarly connected to pastoral care but is predicated on visiting as friends in each other’s home for the mere reason of socializing and thankfully doesn’t include the reminder of suffering present in pastoral care. I’ll also be sure to spend time visiting the community as an act of visitation to introduce myself to the community.

 

Do you remember pastors visiting you or family in the hospital? Have you had pastors visit at your home or your families? Any favorite memories of either?

 

Poetry Wednesday #14

My latest original poem “Only the Lonely” is today’s Poetry Wednesday entry.

Why O Why is there nobody beside?

It seems like I will always be alone.

Sitting on a lone bale on this hayride.

A problem that is not new to bemoan.

Is there anyone to have and to hold?

Hoping against hope my lot is outgrown.

Of course, this tired act is wearing old.

Eventually my luck will efface.

My first fortune belied it was Fool’s gold.

Wanting love, but empty is my embrace.

Hopeless it seems, my attempts for romance.

I’m bringing up the rear in this horse race.

Yes, there’s fish in the watery expanse.

If there’s a chance, Miss let me have this dance.

© Ryan Stroud 2018