What are we fighting for?

Editor’s Note:  I wrote this back about 3 months or so, ago.  I was going to add a paragraph or two about my Dad, which I might do as an extended piece, but I thought I would get it posted now, as it has spent far too much time on my “To Do” list.



As the debate about health care continues, with President Trump and many of his supporters leading the way to repeal the ACA despite the lack of a real plan of action to replace or repair what is left, I find myself considering what it is we hope to accomplish with our country, our government.  What do we consider important at the national level, as a nation?  To what use do we put that blunt instrument that is our federal government?  That our government has grown large and unwieldy, straining under its own massive weight is no surprise to us.  We know it is fat, and growing larger.  We know that is too large, too heavy to support.  The Fed has grown in size and weight, but accomplishes less and less despite its increase in size and resources.  Both corporations and private citizens have attached themselves to that bloated mass, feeding off its excess like a tick to a mangy dog.  And those very fat, very happy ticks, they don’t want anything to change with their host.  No, even if the overall health and state of the union should falter, do not change anything lest their meal ticket become endangered.

This piece isn’t an analysis of the government, however.  It isn’t here to discuss the wasted resources and corporate whore mongering that goes on in our nation’s capital.  This essay is here to ask a basic question of ourselves.  What is it do we want our government to do for us?  What freedom and pursuit of happiness are we defending with our military?  What justice do we purport to provide to those of our nation that are too broke to pursue our self-evident truths?  In a nation as rich as ours, in a land as large as ours, truly our government should be responsible for very few things at the Federal level.  It is rarely the best tool for the job.  Help keep the common law consistent.  Help keep our perspective on infrastructure.  Facilitate communication among the States and their people as a whole, these things a Federal Government can do.  I would suggest to you that central to all of these things is the People.  Whatsoever our government does, it should be in the most benefit to her people, to the support of the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness.  But what good is life, if we cannot enjoy it?  What good is liberty, if we cannot live it.  How can we have happiness if we are not healthy enough to pursue it?  People are the life’s blood of this country, the means be which everything is accomplished.  If our People are not healthy, how can our nation succeed?  We can educate ourselves, feed ourselves, defend ourselves- but only if we are healthy enough to do so.  In the past, collectively we have agreed that things like education, warfare, defense and trade are things we should spend our wealth on.  They are things that we considered integral to our nation, enough so to put into the Federal Government’s hands.  Why then, do we not consider our health such an asset, one worthy of our collective effort?  What else is worth fighting for if we don’t have our health?


Day 135 – part 2

So what is today but another yesterday in the making?  Or perhaps, to quote the learned Axl Rose, “Yesterday there was so many things I was never told
Now that I’m startin’ to learn I feel I’m growing old”.

My father said something similar though he was surely no GNR fan.  Facing the frustrations of being sick with cancer and staring at a life cut short, he said, “Just when you’re starting to figure things out, you’re too old, too out of time.”

Mind you, I’m not feeling morbid, morose, ill or out of time, but I think it would be remiss of me to not learn from the very painful lessons of those who have come before me.  Carpe Diem was a popular saying thanks to Robin Williams, but I think it is apropos, too.  There are many, many miles to go before I sleep.  I hope.

So, today.  Fur Elise, The Firefly theme, and I heard an acoustical version of CCR’s Fortunate Son that I’d like to try.  I also need to find an amplifier since mine is broken.  Other than that, today is about sales calls, emails and maybe, exercise and coffee with my sons. Maybe a spot of tea, too.

What will you do with your day?  What mountain will you climb, lips will you kiss, flower will you smell?  Contribute that verse…

O Me! O Life!

Walt Whitman, 18191892

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;   
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;   
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who  more faithless?)   
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;   
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;          
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;   
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?   

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;   
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Day 135

From my good friend Dave- notable events on October 19th

1386 – The Universität Heidelberg holds its first lecture, making it the oldest German university.
1469Ferdinand II of Aragon marries Isabella I of Castile, a marriage that paves the way to the unification of Aragon and Castile into a single country, Spain.
1781 – At Yorktown, Virginia, representatives of British commander Lord Cornwallis hand over Cornwallis’ sword and formally surrender to George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau.
1812Napoleon Bonaparte retreats from Moscow.

1900Max Planck discovers the law of black-body radiation (Planck’s law).

1950 – The People’s Republic of China joins the Korean War by sending thousands of troops across the Yalu River to fight United Nations forces.
1960Cold War: The United States government imposes a near-total trade embargo against Cuba.

1784Leigh Hunt, English poet and critic (d. 1859)
1945 – John Lithgow, American actor
1962 – Evander Holyfield, American boxer and actor
1966Jon Favreau, American actor, director, and screenwriter
1967 – Yōji Matsuda, Japanese actor
1967 – Yoko Shimomura, Japanese pianist and composer
1969 – Trey Parker, American actor, animator, producer, and screenwriter
1975Shian-Li Tsang, Japanese model
1977 – Dan Granot, American Hero
And some choice quotes, as well…
The same people who can deny others everything are famous for refusing themselves nothing.

There are two worlds: the world that we can measure with line and rule, and the world we feel with our hearts and imagination.

  • As quoted in The Farmer’s Wife, Vol. 36 (1933), p. 72

That there is pain and evil, is no rule
That I should make it greater, like a fool.

  • A Thought or Two on Reading Pomfret’s “Choice”, in The Poetical Works of Leigh Hunt, London: Edward Moxon, 1846, p. 147.

Christian Values or Christian State?

You hear it a lot, especially among the conservative right, but also among more middle of the road Christian groups.  “We need to return to good Christian values,” or “We need a Christian leader to bring us back to our values.”  Simple, earnest statements, but I suspect what they really mean is, “We need a Christian government, a Christian State.”  You see, they* talk about values on one hand, but then segue into talking about everything from prayer and Creationism in schools to the regulation of Muslims and other nationalities that, “Don’t reflect the beliefs and values that this country was founded on.”

Statements like these are tough for me to deal with.  Being a Christian, though, admittedly, not one of any particular dogmatic bent, I have incorporated, or identified, a lot of so called Christian values in my world view.  But I also know that those values can exist independently of the Christian faith, and often do.  If you Google “Christian Values”, you’re likely to come up with roughly ten statements that seem to consistently represent Christian Values, all theologically supported, of course.  Many of these values are recognized by other religions and philosophies as being solid foundations for being a decent human being.  If you dispense with the theology behind the principles, you still have a solid foundation for ethical, productive living.  My conflict comes from my personal belief that these values are not exclusive to Christianity, and in some aspects, have been perverted by the faith as a means to a political end.  I cannot support a call to Christian values or leadership in light of this, and yet I support them exclusive of their religious influence.  The vast majority of my Christian friends would view this negatively.  After all, am I not rejecting Christ and His authority?

My ideology wars with the teachings of my faith on many, many things, yet I am not content to merely reject one in favor of another.  I have certainly moved from my fundamentalist beginnings to something else, though what I do not know.

I am not done with this, yet.


The hole cost

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dwight_d_eisenhower.html

I really don’t know enough about Eisenhower, but I do know he had some excellent quotes.  Whoever, or whatever else he might have been, he had that going for him.

The above quote brings to mind much of what I am seeing today.  We have a warmongering leadership, and have had one, for quite some time.  Our response to societal discord and discontent is violence.  We glorify it in music and movies – the righteous response of a man done wrong.  We romanticize it.  Indeed, we dream of one day doing it.  “Tear it from my cold dead hands!” exclaims Charlton Heston during an NRA rally.  Whether it’s a burglar breaking in to our house, an armed lunatic in line at McDonald’s or the ever present Government, we know what our response will be and we are primed for it.

There is a parable I am fond of remembering.  I try to keep it in the forefront of my mind at all times; a golden rule, you might say.  The bare bones of it is about a father who has a son that is always losing his temper and lashing out at the people around him.  He is admonished, feels guilty and apologizes to those he has lashed out at, but he continues to lose his temper, failing to change his ways.  One day the father brings his son a hammer and nails and directs him to hammer a nail into the fence surrounding their yard every time he feels the desire to lash out come upon him.  At first there are many, many nails, but over the weeks there are fewer and fewer nails, until one day the son does not add a new nail to the fence.  He has learned the first step to peace.  The father then instructs the boy that for every day he does not put a nail into the fence he may take one out.  Over many months the son slowly removes all the nails until there are none remaining.  He has learned the second step to peace.  Standing there with his father, looking at the fence, the son notices how many ugly holes are now all over the fence, marring its appearance.  His father explains to him- “The nails were your anger, damaging the fence with each new nail you added.  When you removed them, that was your apology.  The holes that remain is the damage left in your wake.  An apology removes the nail, but only by controlling your anger can you prevent the harm.”  The son began to understand the why of peace.

We cherish our anger, proud of how we might use it, but we do not see the holes.

Never argue… Part 1

A quote from Bertrand Russell goes,

“Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

I confess I have probably been the idiot more times than I am comfortable with.

I recently came across a Facebook post that was mostly just the repeat of a meme that I had seen many times before.  This particular post is usually put up by my religious friends, with an inferred point that education, especially public education, is indoctrination.  More to the point, education is anti-Christian because it is usually of non-biblical(government) origin.  This meme frustrates me a great deal for a few reasons.

First, its posting promotes the idea that education is wrong, and implies that ignorance is preferable to “government education”, and/or that the Bible is the sole means of education.

Second, it continues to foster the trope that the younger generation cannot think for themselves, that at best, they are misguided idiots who cannot possess independent thought or valid knowledge.

Third, it encourages the belief that an uneducated opinion is as valid as an educated one.  You see examples of the third most often in areas of science, such as vaccination, but it is liberally applied elsewhere.

I agree that education is indoctrination, that is pretty much a basic mechanic of teaching, whether the subject matter is of a spiritual or non-spiritual nature.  Students learn by copying the teacher, memorizing their lessons, regurgitating their canned knowledge and then ultimately, applying those lessons learned.  From that application comes self-awareness and a better understanding of the subject.  That understanding usually only comes with time and experience.  In the interim, the diligent student can often inherit many of the same attitudes as the teacher, either intentionally or unintentionally.  With that said, indoctrination is far from being exclusively the province of secular teaching.  Catechism, anyone?

State of Education

At any rate, my response was ,”That comes with experience, like most things. The problem comes when the uneducated question the educated, because they assume that a lack of education is the same thing as no longer trusting the education you have.”

My intended point is that it takes a combination of a baseline of knowledge and experience in order to question what you have been taught, that ignorance is not a substitute for experience and knowledge when it comes to skepticism.  Unfortunately my response was not taken as well as I had hoped and I was basically informed that any education outside of the bible is essentially useless, barring its direct application to a job, etc.  That the only valid education comes from the Bible and that anything else is essentially of a worldly nature, and therefore inferior.  More so, it was stated that I was saying that uneducated people were inferior to educated ones, and that only those people who had gone to school/college were of worth or could have an opinion.

I was not anticipating that particular viewpoint as I had thought that my point was clear enough.  I was wrong.  My initial rebuttal, indeed my only rebuttal in that particular discussion, was pretty poor in its explanation, and only lead to additional disagreement, along with some general name calling and the intimation that not only was I incredibly rude and insulting, but also an idiot and a false prophet.  Fair enough.  I find I get called all sorts of names when I disagree with my fundamentalist friends.  If I haven’t been called Satan or the Anti-Christ at least once a month, or so, then I haven’t been on Facebook.  Of course, anyone that knows me and their Bible knows that both those names, as applied to me, are hardly accurate as I am far from beautiful.  But I digress.

I ended the discussion on Facebook there.  The discussion was not healthy and my continued involvement would only have caused a considerable rift among people I love and respect.  I believe that is the right thing to do in that situation.  As an intellectual, skeptic and a person of faith, however, I am left feeling let down and frustrated.  The chance to discuss these things in an honest and open manner, to challenge conceived notions and follow the arguments to their conclusion is not something I want to pass up.  And yes, my ego is involved, as well.  Of course I believe I am right, and that urge to prove it is strong.  But not so strong that I would want to cause the loss of friendship, or to not examine my reasons for thinking as I do.  Hence the reason for this post.

To the future

I’m reading through a book that a dear friend sent me. It has an absolutely fantastic line in it. “…This space, however convenient it had been for his recent past, was much too small to hold his future.”

I look around and see the same thing with me.  It isn’t that I have not learned how to be content in my surroundings, or that I am greedy for more stuff, it is just that I look at the future and regard the wondrous, the fantastic, the beauty of it all…and I am smitten.

Confusion is from Satan

Confusion is from Satan, go away.

This was said to me today in an online discussion. A friend of my wife’s,  a nice lady with some strong religious convictions, had posted a link purporting that school children in California were being indoctrinated into Islam. The link in question was about a mother who found a homework assignment on world religion offensive.  Apparently knowing a few things about a religion that 1/7 of the world believes in is a Bad Thing.  Before I go further, it is only fair that I say that I have disagreed with her posts in the past, too, so we do have a bit of a history of disagreement, and her frustration with me stems, in part, from that history.

The lady was posting the link so that others would be edified in what schools are teaching their children, that they might stand up for the Truth.  She posted two supporting links, here and here, but I don’t think she read them.  Being who I am, my first response to her post was that I had similar lessons when I was in school.  I thought it was a good thing.  She didn’t care for that response. Her reply to me where those two links as well as a reference to 2nd Peter regarding false prophets.

I could not rebut the 2nd Peter reference, as the moment you unilaterally declare something to be the work of the Devil based on your interpretation of Scripture, the discussion on that point is done.  I did note regarding her two links that the students were not made to “pray”, as the act of reciting a written verse is not prayer without the element of faith.  More so, I learned those same things in world studies.  It isn’t indoctrination to learn the basic tenets of a population’s belief system.  The nice lady said these kids were being forced to learn religion(I suspect she meant Islamic religion), which shouldn’t be allowed and was certainly not allowed when we went to school.  I kindly pointed out that I was required to sing songs of praise and worship from Kindergarten through 12th grade, attendance mandatory.  I even got to play a religious figure or two in school plays.  I was one of the three wise men in first or second grade.

The end result of this discussion was that she admonished me for not standing up for the Truth and then basically said I was the Devil.  Her only intent, she said, was that she share this news so that parents know what is being taught in the classroom and can then stand up for the Truth.  Yes, she capitalized Truth.

I was frustrated, but I dropped the argument at that point.  My intent wasn’t to antagonize her, merely to stand up for the truth, as it were.  My take on the situation was that the children were not being indoctrinated.  Nor were they being lead by a false prophet.  Knowledge and understanding are good things, especially from a Biblical perspective. What frustrated me about her posts, the issue that I have, is in her well meaning attempt to showcase another apparent attack on Christianity in America, she perpetrated a series of lies.  That these lies might strengthen some people’s convictions in Christ are beside the point, as I firmly believe that one cannot defend any truth by lying about it.  By perpetuating these false outrages, we make Christians of all denominations look like fools.  If we are commanded to go forth and make disciples of all peoples, how can we expect to do that if we continually build walls of lies between us and the rest of the world?  Faith in God does not require a lie in order to prove that you believe in Him, we shouldn’t need a lie to defend our faith in Him, either.

A Shameless Plug- And an appeal to your deeply seated guilt

Hey guys,

My son, Joshua, is participating in a fundraiser for his school. The funds will go towards the construction of the Lion’s Lair 2.0 Playground, which is not only a school playground, but a community one, as well. I actually helped build the original Lion’s Lair when I was in 9th grade, so it is neat that Josh gets a similar opportunity now. The original Lion’s Lair was an awesome community project that benefited a great many people over the years, but unfortunately it eventually got too old to be safe. The new one will be bigger, better and hopefully, even more future proof. To that end, Joshua is selling Spirit Cups – Drinking Cups and Travel Mugs sporting the Team of your choice from the NFL, NHL, MLB, Collegiate and Military organizations. Joshua’s goal is to exceed 100 items so that he can win an Amazon Gift Card, which he’ll use to purchase books(Probably MineCraft related). Please consider purchasing a cup to help towards his goal. If you can’t purchase, we understand. You can still help by sharing the link so that maybe friends and family can help. Anything ordered will be shipped directly to you, but please let us know, as Josh will record a personal thank you message that he will send to you via YouTube. Thank you and happy shopping!

But wait, Dan, didn’t you say you would appeal to my guilt?  Yes.  Yes I did.  Today is game day and quite clearly you do not have enough sports related merchandise in your house to be considered a true fan.  Shame on you.  Now make amends by ordering up a 4 pack and doing some good in the world.  Not to mention you’ll no longer be the laughing stock of the block.


Brax Fundraising


Tuesdays don’t get much in the way of respect or regard.  As the day immediately following the dreaded and much maligned Monday, Tuesday is often regarded as Monday+, or the 2nd Monday.  Not much love there considering the typically hate that Monday receives.  And unlike a Wednesday or a Thursday, which are viewed in a more positive light given their relative position to the weekend, Tuesday offers no hope of impending salvation, no anticipation of just one more day.  It’s the uphill slope of your week and there’s no seeing the weekend on the other side.  So, in light of this, I offer a Tuesday funny.


Chivalry is dead

I do not believe that chivalry is dead, but I do think that landscape of combat has changed dramatically…