Monthly Archives: December 2016

19th Century Poverty, “Baby Farms”, and Planned Parenthood

Poverty is something no one really wants to experience and living most of one’s life under those conditions is definitely not a dream fulfilled! In our day poverty is still around and much energy and planning and actions have been expended trying to eliminate it. Not easy to do! First of all the basic definition of poverty is not easy to agree upon. What may be considered poor in one area may not be somewhere else, hence one-size fits-all approaches are doomed to fail and are subject to deception and abuse. Having said all that, the realm of the theoretical is one thing, but the actual experience is another. When true poverty is exampled and seen, it should be obvious, no matter one’s one theoretical judgments on the matter.

A case in point is the book written by Jacob Riis in 1890 chronicling the tenement/slums area of New York City. It is called “How the Other Half Lives”. Filled with photographs along with explanatory info, there isn’t much doubt that those areas, while allowing survival in one sense, were also miserable places to live in! Causes of poverty are something we shouldn’t neglect and a definition of poverty may never really be possible, but that is really not a major defect. If we indeed saw a replication of those 1890 tenement/slum conditions today I would hope the word “poverty” would be an obvious conclusion about those living there, as well as a desire to make some obvious improvements. A problematical view would be one that considered those conditions to be acceptable and part of the evolution of society in some sense and hence, to be left to their own devices. I don’t know how one could counter that!

Approaching these social scenarios and possible remedies, a question that has to be reckoned with is the question of whether poverty can ever be totally eliminated? I don’t know—theoretically on paper it can, but human nature also plays a role and there are some who just want to barely exist and live on handouts or whatever they can scrounge for—so given that aspect, I don’t think so. Plus, given circumstances outside our control, namely, acts of God, disasters, etc., totally eliminating poverty would be a tall order! But efforts to improve some living conditions in some circumstances is not too much to strive for and much improvements can and have been made in society over time. It is in society’s interest to pay continual attention to poverty-stricken areas for many reasons and this book illustrated one particular state of affairs which was a bit shocking, but after a bit of reflection, not all that surprising given the fact that extreme conditions can cause extreme reactions! In other words, poverty can lead people to react in ways they normally wouldn’t under favorable conditions (we hope) and also morality can break down in many ways as people try to survive—doesn’t make it right but those actions are still troubling in many ways—and need to be attended to.

In this particular tenement area the children were the hardest hit. There seemed to be a great amount of children, why so many is another question, but they were there and suffered the most, especially those 5 years and younger. Not surprising when tenement buildings would be partitioned in such a way that scores of families would be crammed into these structures, many families living in one small room, just existing, and often no air circulation or even open windows to bring relief. The young often died from a form of suffocation because of the “closed conditions”. And that brings up the one “particular state of affairs” I mentioned which was very inhuman—“baby farms”! Though agreeing with, but not justifying it, that extreme poverty can create conditions for extreme reactions, nevertheless, when babies are involved, it really strains the understanding how things can take a certain course that it does!

“Baby farms” were popular during this time period and consisted of children being turned over to “caretakers” who would see to the child’s needs. The arrangements may have included temporary care, such as a modern Daycare setup, or adoption, but regardless, the intent was that the child would be cared for. Based on the financial arrangements, and because childcare was expensive, it became evident in many situations that it was cheaper if the children were allowed to die. It was a bit of a moral “jolt” to come across this among all the other descriptive aspects the book offered. The description of method– feeding the child sour milk and giving a “panegoric” (an opium related compound) to keep them calm until they died, makes one wonder how anyone can be so “cold” towards human life, especially innocent children—but they can! Of course not everyone who took care of children for a living did these kinds of things but there were enough who did which gave “baby farming” a bad name at the time.

To further layer these atrocious behaviors and to connect it with “similar” behavior of our modern society, another aspect was exploited by those who sought to make money off of the death of babies—insurance policies. The book mentions in that time period, three companies had issued about a million policies insuring children’s lives! Temptation abounded under those circumstances and it is not hard to see that a baby which died was a financially lucrative result!

Most of the people and leaders in these areas though, did try to help and find solutions to poverty and really cared for children but it only takes a small amount of evil to detract from all the good which was being expended on behalf of the poor—but the evil that resides still has to be addressed!

Poverty-stricken areas like those found in New York City at this time may be far removed now. And many laws have been passed which ensures that the abuses of children seen in this book should be rare! But history has a way of being constant in some things and human nature is definitely something we can’t “progress” away from, it must be constantly challenged and held in check. One of the things that got me about this particular issue of “baby farms” was the connection of a baby’s death and the financial attachment to that! Do baby farms exist today? If so I would hope it would be extremely rare. But a deeper question for today—do we still have an association with a baby’s death and financial gain? Yes we do in some ways !

We as a society better start taking a new and longer look at our practices of abortion and its financial entanglements. It seems we have allowed the Planned Parenthood videos of last year to pass from memory somewhat, but if there were ever any clearer indication of the lucrative financial gains from the death of babies, I don’t know what it could be! And along with that, what does it really say about us as a society when we allow research to be done on these baby parts, in the name of making medical breakthroughs which can make our lives healthier? There is a contradiction there! So the folks back in those “baby farms” made their life better by making more money when they allow those poverty-stricken children in their care to die—we, on the other hand, are using the death of babies to make our lives healthier? There’s is definitely something wrong with that scenario!!

Maxine Waters

If a list was compiled of Liberal Dems who have outlasted their usefulness, she would be near the top!

People like her must stand in front of a mirror and practice some of the things they say in order to make it appear believable! Of course ridiculous is ridiculous no matter the presentation and this is no exception.

But she has a history of being just a rabble-rouser who really contributes very little to the betterment of our country.

It wasn’t many years ago that she called John Boehner and Eric Cantor demons! And at one time mentioned that the Tea Party could go “straight to hell”.

Yeah, we love you too Maxine! Dems like you are the gift that keeps on giving—nothing like demonstrating once again why the Democrats lost their shirts in this election.

Maybe you should realize that this country is made up of more states than California! But that may be asking too much! Oh, and by the way Maxine—Trump really doesn’t need your help—people like you are just potholes in the road easily maneuvered around!

http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/maxine-waters-dems-too-nice-wont-work/2016/12/26/id/765626/

Kerouac

Kerouac
 
The generation of the fifties was known as the “Beat” generation, at least part of it was. They were mainly a group of people who through their literary writings influenced the fifties and sixties quite a bit. Some would say the Beats were a forerunner of the “hippies” of the sixties but that is a debatable point among some “Beats”.
Jack Kerouac was one of the mainstays of that group and his book “On the Road” is one of the more well-known writings of the Beats.
 
There have been two books of selected letters published representing people who he corresponded with and who corresponded with him. They are from the years 1940-1969, 1969 being the year of his death. Those letters reveal a lot about him. I am not one for reading biographical material but every now and then I will indulge and these letters were an interesting diversion!
 
 
While there are obvious allusions to his ability as a writer, he was quite prolific and fairly successful in his life though one may not sense that fully from his letters, but to me the actual portrait I saw in these letters  was a portrait of someone who was somewhat shallow and lacked an ability, as well, to recognize the truly important things in life. Success did come to him but it was not a success that grounded his life in any substantial sense. Always searching and never able to be satisfied, his life was just a continual zigzag between drugs, alcohol, relationships, and traveling, searching for some kind of stability, but ultimately unsuccessful. His life came to a timely(?) or untimely(?) end at the young age of 49, heavy drinking causing cirrhosis of the liver. What could have been will always be speculation.
 
 
His famous novel “On  the Road” may have inspired  many youth to cross the US in search of adventure, but if that book became a real “bible” of sorts on how to live life (for many youths back then– it was an important book, negatively or positively), most would find that mode of existence ultimately unsatisfying—and very quickly. I read it some years back and can understand the excitement going off across the country could engender. So, his own life was actually the source of the adventures in  “On the Road”, and in what is now a sad commentary, “On the Road” became emblematic of him for  most of his adult life. He was always traveling, making countless trips across the US and Mexico and sometimes overseas. When not in one of many failed relationships, he lived with his mother, which entailed another host of movements, as they uprooted and moved their “home” many times, never able to find the right place or locale, constantly searching for the “just right” conditions. The thing I got the most from his letters was the constant search for some kind of “anchor” of the heart and soul, but ultimately failing to find it!
 
 
Kerouac represents something which occurs a lot among celebrity–the illusion of a desired life! The exterior can give one picture, the interior something else. Kerouac can be viewed as a counter-cultural hero, someone who embraced the “freedom” which those of the fifties and sixties celebrated. He can be looked at as an example of  one who lived “against the grain” of society and walked his own path. An exciting life perhaps and full of memorable events, etc. That is the exterior—and was an illusion! That “sense” of excitement his kind of life may show outwardly, really wasn’t illustrative of his inward turmoil which comes through in a lot of his letters.
 
 
And while there are some who can get away with this kind of living, for many others, the duplication of that life will just bring more dissatisfaction and emptiness. It really did for him and at the end of his life, though there was an inkling of maybe having reached a place in his life in which some peace and satisfaction may have been on the horizon, life ran out!! That happens all too often to far to many people who look for fulfillment in all the wrong things. The outward appearance may say one thing, but the inward has the more important say!
 
 
I came across a phrase in a poem by Yeats called “Circus Animals’ Desertion” which reminded me of Kerouac and his life—and serves as a lesson about trusting in the wrong things:
 
“Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”
 
These was the last lines of the poem and were a reflection of Yeats having lost his inspiration for poetry late in life, meant by “my ladder’s gone”! And so he must start over from the beginning of poetry’s inspirations, “In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart”.
 
 
Kerouac at some point lost his “ladder”, for him I think it was the excitement of the ‘freedom” he felt when young. That disappeared! And tragically the ability to “lie down where all the ladders start” or, to maybe begin life anew again and differently, never had a chance!

Song of Solomon 8:6

The Biblical book “Song of Solomon”  has nearly always been an enigmatic book. What the main interpretation consists seems to be the vexing question regarding these few chapters of inspired text. Is it a romantic text illustrating “love”? If so, then the question has been between whom!
 
These following has been suggested: God and man, God and Israel, Christ and the Church, Solomon and an unnamed woman, or a mixture of all these…plus maybe some other allegorical scenarios which may relate. To me, it does seem to be mainly about Solomon and some unnamed woman, and my second choice would be an allegory between God and man.
 
The one thing that can be agreed upon is that the images about “love” have a constancy about them which is relevant no matter what “purpose” the book has! A case in point are the verses in chapter 8: 6 which reads:
 
“Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealously is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the LORD.”
 
These statements are spoken by the woman and through the idea of a “seal” indicates  the depth of the love she had for the man and that she wanted from him as well. Seals in the ancient world were used to show authority and ownership. Things were marked with special seals and only those with the authority or ownership could “break” the seal.
 
The woman being used as a “seal” over the man’s heart showed that she became a part of him and that his heart became hers as well. Mutual ownership! Not a slave/master type but rather of mutual, binding love.
 
The next part of the verse has occasioned much thinking: “For love is as strong as death,..”! We understand death—the ultimate end for us all at some point and even with the Christian hope of the afterlife, death is something we all will have to reckon with. Its strength lies in the fact that none can escape it!
 
So love can be as strong as death! Somewhat contradictory yet does have a connective aspect to it!
 
In this context some have mentioned Romeo and Juliet as an example of this kind of love, surely their love and death were intertwined! And other examples could be thought of as well in the world of literature. In our own experience, this kind of love as strong as death can be seen in a mother’s love for a child.
 
The following part of the verse: “Jealousy is as severe as Sheol (the grave)”, is a restatement of the first part—using a method called parallelism, which was a typical method of writing in the ancient world.
 
Here, jealousy is used in the sense of “passion” and so is not the negative aspect of jealousy we may be used to thinking about. Again, the “passion” which accompanies love can have a strength comparable with death using the “grave” as finality! 
Unfortunately in our present age, this kind of love between a man and woman may start out like this but all too often succumbs to many pitfalls and ends up being destroyed. Constancy of anything is hard to find in this world at any time, but this Christmas season becomes again another  reminder to us that there is a love which can never succumb to any deviation of its course and that is God’s love for mankind and—each one of us!
 
For 2000 years that truth has been borne out by countless millions!
 
Reminds me of some of the words to the song “The Love of God”:
 
“Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!”

Lena Dunham and Abortion

Where and how does Hollywood find or produce these people! And much of society considers celebrities such as her as examplars of some sort? Dunham made these comments a few days ago and has tried to “correct” her statements about those abortion comments a bit—the problem is how much of that “correction” is sincere and how much is PR. And how much of her comments does she really still embrace?
 
She stated that a number of her loved ones had abortions and that she considered them “brave”—and she wishes she had an abortion as well.
 
Ah—the Culture of Death is so proud of its citizens! Nothing like this kind of spokesman to remove the stigma and instead treat the  murder of children like a heroic moment.
 
During a radio talk show today, a woman called in and gave a very perceptive comment about the whole abortion movement and its evolution. She questioned whether abortion is becoming a kind of “rite of passage” for women. We better hope not–but one never knows in the crazy culture we live in!
 
Who knows where this will lead, like a group tattoo which gives a group-like solidarity, maybe there will be an abortion club in which an abortion is a requirement for membership!
 
Maybe the next move for this kind of initiation into “brave” behavior is becoming pregnant through sperm banks and then an abortion will follow! Sound ludricrous?
 
We better get used to not being surprised by anything—since our society has mostly accepted the fact that abortion is a freedom, it makes everything else a substance of a lesser nature, and….consider that we already use embryos for research—to make our lives better!
 
Culture of Death!—this is what happens when the wrong side of morality is embraced, it begins to affect all our thinking. What started with just a physical action, killing the baby, eventually affects the mind, the heart, and the soul—hence Lena Dunham!
http://people.com/celebrity/lena-dunham-abortion-comment-controversy/

3 Minutes

3 Minutes
 
I started reading a 1976 Sci-fi novel called “Triton” and came across an interesting scenario. In the world of this novel, every person had an average of 10 hours of their lives videotaped by the government, along with transcripts of those sessions. Machines were eventually created allowing any citizen to have access to a random 3 minutes of those government videotaped histories. These machines were called “ego-booster booths”.
 
Of course, we are 40 years removed from this tale but we do see semblances of that technological scenario today! Not all of it, yet, but sci-fi has always imagined the future in its stories and the seeds of those stories are drawn from the theorizing going on around them at that time. Often, what is theorized by scientists, imagined through novels by sci-fi writers, ends up being accomplished some time in the future. Just consider Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio and today’s Apple Watch. From what I could find, Tracy used it in 1952 in a comic strip. I am personally not into gadgets that much but one can’t help but be impressed by this evolution!
 
I don’t know if we really want to know how much the government has on us and whether it comes with full transcripts and video, but Big Brother is an ongoing concern! And, with the increase of cameras and tracking devices throughout society and in all our electronics, there is probably quite a bio on many citizens in many nations! While the “ego-booster booths” don’t seem to be close in our future, we do have ATM machines! Could they be a forerunner? Something to think about!
 
Now those musings are one thing, but what captured my attention was the 3 minutes worth of info one could access. I began a “thought experiment” about this from a slightly different angle. My thought was this, what if we could show 3 minutes of any part of our life, what 3 minute time period would we pick? That was difficult to think about as far as I was concerned. I could break my life down into different decisions and actions, and take 3 minutes worth, but which 3 minutes? I would want to take those things which I considered positive (after all, who would want to have the worst of our actions to be shown?) but the problem still remained—what part!
 
And to make this thought experiment even harder, what if this was a one time thing—in other words, one chance to take 3 minutes of your life and that is what everyone would see! That made it even more difficult! What 3 minute time period would really capture my life? Would it be a single moral decision, an academic thing, an athletic moment, a deed undertaken for someone, or what. And it is not about being full of pride or being overly humble, but when we try to reduce our life to a single 3 minute action, I think for most of us it would be impossible to do.
 
And so I was left with, not a 3 minute period (I couldn’t think of one), but a question about a person’s life. How do we appraise a person, is it from a 3 minute time period or is over a lifetime, or part of one? There may be actions committed which “mark” a person from that point on, crimes, etc., but for most of us our lives can’t be reduced to 3 minutes but instead is a function of habits and dispositions and actions which have accrued over many years.
 
I think I know one thing though—if it was possible to access a random 3 minute period—I don’t know if I could do it!
 
Which is scary, since one day we will all give a full account before God, and that won’t be by choice!
 
Something to think about!

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
 
The novel “Heart of Darkness” written by Joseph Conrad in 1899 delivered an unusual surprise to me as I was reading it, and then delivered an opportunity for philosophical reflection. The book is set in Africa, on the Congo River. The main character, Marlowe, is recounting through the book how he became a steamboat captain for an ivory company. In his travels on the Congo River he hears a story about a successful trader, a Mr. Kurtz, who runs a trading post very deep in the heart of Africa and far up the same Congo River he was on. Marlowe is told to seek him out and and in the process he confronts some disturbing scenes. It was around this point in the book I began to sense some kind of familiarity with something.
 
When Marlowe’s river journey finally landed him at Kurtz’s home, he took out a spyglass to view the surroundings before disembarking. Natives were in the area and he was trying to be safe. He notices a lot of poles around the house, with some decoration upon them, only to discover that they are skulls of natives who were killed, a definite shock!—at this point I really knew this story reminded me of something but I still couldn’t pin it down.
 
Kurtz was finally located and he was found at that moment to be seriously ill and needed help. Marlowe thus determined to take him back into civilization for medical help. Marlowe through all these activities was also filling in the gaps about Kurtz and his life in that area. He found that Kurtz had stolen much of the ivory he was supposed to be sending back to his bosses and instead hoarded it for himself. Also his treatment of the natives became cruel and sadistic and he ended up becoming a god-like person in the area and who subsequently had caused much fear and resentment. What Marlowe finally concluded was that Kurtz had gone mad and being isolated as he was, he lost all moral restraint and committed atrocities against the natives and in the end had achieved a kind of god-like quality. Kurtz didn’t survive the boat trip back and when the boat broke down on the return trip and had to await repairs, Kurtz ended up dying in his cabin. Up to that point Kurtz tried to converse with Marlowe about some personal and business things but those conversations made little sense. A quote by Marlowe about Kurtz after these conversations sets up for the final words Kurtz uttered. Marlowe said of Kurtz:
 
“His was an impenetrable darkness. I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines.”
 
After that Kurtz finally died and these last words were what he spoke: “The horror! The horror!”
 
At that point it clicked and I knew what was causing the familiarity I was sensing–it was the 1979 movie “Apocalypse Now”.
 
I actually watched that movie in 1980 and it really had an impact in a lot of ways. For me movies rarely become “philosophical” but this one made me think. Though I did not have the background to really be “critical” in what I had gleaned from the movie, it still stuck with me and I have always returned to thinking about that movie time and again and what it meant. Of course nowadays one can look it up and get a synopsis but that still doesn’t replace the actual experience of watching a movie or reading a book and then do one’s own thinking about it.
 
After my “connection” I had to research this and very quickly found that Apocalypse Now was indeed based off Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. In many ways it was just like reading the book again, only in a different locale. The movie was set during Vietnam War, and the physical “heart of darkness”—was set deep in the jungle of Cambodia instead of Africa. The main character was a Walter E. Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, who also became a god-like figure in that Cambodian jungle. Like the Kurtz in Conrad’s book, he also had someone searching for him, a Benjamin Willard, played by Martin Sheen. Willard’s quest was a bit different than Marlowe in Conrad’s book, he was sent to kill Walter Kurtz who had gone insane, at least according to some. Walter Kurtz’ last words was also “The horror, the horror”. Many other points of similarity could be noted, as well as differences but for me these were the main things.
 
These two stories reflect the “heart of darkness” in two ways: a physical locale and a spiritual condition! The physical locales was Africa and Cambodia, the spiritual locale was the soul of each man as they abdicated morality for a kind of “godhood”! One “heart of darkness” can be overcome, the other becomes problematical. Its easy to leave a physical locale, but how easy is it to leave the feeling of having the power similar to a god?
 
 
There are many discussions on what the last words spoken by each man mean, “the horror, the horror”. There are many different interpretations on that—which is probably the intention for its ambiguity, it is never really explained and is left for the individual to decipher. In my view it can’t be too far off from the view of a spiritual heart which has gone too far! Freedom is a word we all embrace in many ways but in some ways freedom can hurt us if it is the wrong kind. Man is a spiritual creature with a “conscience” for morality built in. We are created in the image of God and though having fallen because of sin, there is still a vague moral sense we carry with us, how detailed it is has been debated much. The crux of the matter is that when freedom entails actions which continually creates a lifestyle opposite the “moral sense” within us, it destroys us instead! “The horror, the horror” to me reflects the realization of these individuals concerning how the embrace of freedom they thought was theirs, actually became the reason for their death, not only physically but spiritually.
 
A warning for today still? I think so, with so many changes due to evolving mores and technological possibilities, a god-like attitude is not impossible for many today! And freedom being reinterpreted to mean actions which are opposed to the many constants of human history, that also should make us a little worried. And even more worrisome is the fact that the One who was sent for us, to give us the ultimate spiritual freedom, which is fellowship with God the Father of Christ, is trivialized more and more.
 
A “heart of darkness”? How dark can it and will it get? An important question! Not only for the individual but for the attitude of a society!

A Poem

A Poem
Drifting clouds, approaching storms.
Life’s trials, many forms.
Crashing waves, frothing surf.
Faith’s test, gold’s worth!
Darken skies, hidden light.
Hope’s source, God’s might.
Blowin’ winds, nature’s roar!
Firm foundation, Anchor’s sure.
Tossed about, pushed aside.
Shaken soul, He abides.
Tempest passed, seas calm.
Winds obeyed, Grace’s balm.
by Ray Landon

When Bananas Won’t Sell

When Bananas Won’t Sell
 
The novel “Jews Without Money”, by Michael Gold, was published in 1930. As the author noted in the preface, “I have told in my book a tale of Jewish poverty in one ghetto, that of New York. Portrayed as semi-autobiographical, this novel portrayed what life consisted in the Lower East Side, pre-1930, and its portrayal has all the grittiness one can imagine when thousands of people are crammed into a small area and proceed to live.
 
The story revolves around one family of Jewish immigrants and their continual trials as they searched for the magic formula of success and prosperity. The father of this family was the main breadwinner and his life was characterized by continual bad luck. From a partially successful partnership in a business which eventually failed him, through a number of years employed as a painter which ended, due to a scaffolding accident leaving him too feeble to continue, and then through a convalescing period which deepened his depression further, and finally to a street corner in which he tries to sell bananas off a wagon to passersby—-life had left him behind.
 
 
His oldest son, under 12 years old, bore a lot of the “future” responsibility—he was the one they hoped could break out and become successful and rich. He didn’t! The young boy had to help with the family responsibilities, his schooling was cut short and he began working in sweat shops, moving between different trades as injury or some other mishap forced a change.  He too became lost in all the anonymity of a crowded city ghetto, struggling to survive!
 
 
Some lines at the end of the novel are those that fit with the novel’s end but they also rise beyond that story and have a resonance which can pertain to many aspects of anyone’s life. One story at the end involved the father on a street corner finishing up his day trying to sell bananas, and not having a good day of it. His son happened to come upon his father and tried to encourage him to maybe yell a bit louder, or longer, but the father was tired. The son then tried to yell in his place but no one was interested in bananas, and so they finally began to go home. The father was deep in thought and then said these lines:
 
“So you see how it is, Mikey. Even at banana peddling I am a failure. What can be wrong? The bananas are good, your yelling was good, the prices are good. Yes, it is plain; I am a man without luck.”
 
This is life sometimes in a microcosm, life in an imperfect world, life in a sin-infected world, life in so many ways…. not always!, but often, and for far too many, and in the worst of times. Life, when for no obvious reason, when things ought to work out, when things have no real excuse for failing, against our logic and best efforts, life goals and desires still fall through!
 
To the son.
The 12 year old son, when facing the trials of employment at such a young age, soon found out in his own way the potential “brutality” of life! Jobs were sought by hundreds of others, and if he was lucky enough to get one, the conditions were inhumane at best. Injuries happened often and then a new job would be sought, with the same competition from hundreds of others, with the same threat of injury, and on and on…!
 
The author summed up that 12 year’s old young philosophy with these lines:
 
“And I worked. And my father and mother grew sadder and older. It went on for years. I don’t want to remember it all; the years of my adolescence. Yet I was one among a million others.”
 
  Anonymity, loneliness, insignificance. Hard for an individual to be hopeful of a future with that as a foundation! But that is a feature all too often in life as well.  The problem of this life is not that there is nothing positive, it is that the negatives often can take more away than what the positives can give–all too often!
 
 
We all live and move within a time-constrained, physically constrained 3-D world, many people try to do their best, some do not! No matter though, the rain falls on the just and unjust alike. Mankind also moves within the background of sinful imperfection where things can go right and things can go wrong, at any time, the control over outcomes are limited at best. There is no perfect formula. It can’t be!
 
 
I think of the Christian worldview when I ponder stories such as this. Many people down thru time could probably testify to similar trajectories of the lives these characters endured.  And Christians admit Christianity doesn’t always change these kinds of circumstances, there are many Christians who could also testify to a life similar to the father and son written about in this book. The Christian worldview doesn’t posit that this life will be perfect, but it does point to a time when Christians will inhabit a perfect world—and that is our Hope! And regarding this life, Christianity has Christ, who will give what is needed, not to make bad things seem good, they never are, but to give strength during the bad times to endure until a better time comes. And while life’s present circumstances have to be “lived” and faced squarely, in the back of our minds we know there is always a hopeful future, if not in this life, then the next!
 
 
So there may be no “logical” reason why the bananas don’t sell, but sometimes they don’t. In Christ we have to face that moment, can’t get away from it, but we know from the Bible that all our trials are a ” light affliction … only for a moment”—and that we have an eternal reward waiting for us later! That can make life more livable!
 
And thank God—that Hope is for anyone who calls upon His name!

Fragebogen and Trump’s Registry

Fragebogen and Trump’s Registry
 
Trump’s call for a Muslim registry for those who want to come to this country caused an outrage among many individuals and groups. The thought of being more thorough in asking questions and verifying ideology and loyalties is not new though.
 
Recently, just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a program was instituted by Bush called the “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System”, or NSEERS for short.  People from certain countries had to register and  “undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted”.  It was never declared illegal and was phased out after 9 years.
 
Another historical precedent occurred after WWII, when the United States basically occupied Germany from 1945-1949. One of the efforts attempted by the Americans was a process called “denazification”, and this was geared towards German citizens! A good article about this was written by Cora Sol Goldstein in “The Journal of Military History” and one of the things she mentioned was the role of a document called the “Fragebogen”. This document was a large questionnaire with about 131 items, autobiographical in nature, which each citizen had to fill out. These questionnaires was geared towards helping to root out all the influence the nazi ideology had exerted upon the German citizenry! The nazi regime had penetrated much of society and some way had to be found to “cleanse” the society from the continual presence of its thinking.
 
 
While these programs had varying degrees of success and criticisms, the fact remains that a written means of determining possible ideological and violent influences is one tool among many and should not be dismissed out of hand. Keeping track of visitors to this country should not be a surprising action, especially when there are so many threats of harm to our homeland.
 
So a Trump registry is not automatic discrimination but rather is another way of keeping America safe from those who would come here to do us harm. There are even those who have said that the registry idea is not discriminatory and would pass Constitutional muster, we don’t hear much about those. If I was a visitor to another country and I had to register, then why not? These countries don’t know me, there are no roots that can be pointed to in order to determine loyalty from me. Why should there be blind trust? There shouldn’t be!
 
Banning people because of a religion may be the main roadblock to a deeper acceptance of a registry, but in today’s world everything has to be considered and reconsidered. We can always nuance these things to better highlight those who would be dangerous, but to simply “trust” is ludicrous!
 
So the conclusion is that we should do all that is necessary and legal to especially “de-Islamic Terrorism-ify” those coming here!

 

Der berühmte Fragebogen für die Entnazifizierung, benutzt von 1946-48.