Are We Being Biblical or Just Selfish?

I read some weeks ago, and related it to you, that evangelicals on the religious right defend their opposition to federal and state programs to assist the poor on the basis of the bible.

They claim that God desires that charity be dispensed through the Church and through private means.

If that is true, then we must surely admit, that after more than 2,000 years, our failure to obey has been immense and worldwide.

Struggling to understand this interpretation, I have thought deeply and reflected on my study of scripture over the years. I alas, find no such directive.

Israel, looked at historically, has struggled, at least throughout the pre-Christian times, and arguably for all time, with whether it would be a unified nation like its neighbors. It’s time as such, was brief, during the time of David and Solomon and a few other kings. But then, the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel again split, one to return to the Tribal Confederacy model, the other, Judah retained monarchy.

Much of Israel’s (I here use the term to include both North and South) troubles centered around how it failed to follow Yahweh when it tried to be a “player” in the Mid-East, as opposed to being a “light unto the nations.” Conceivably being the latter meant setting a standard of compassion and right behavior that would set them apart as God’s chosen.

Very little in Israelite history can be looked at as individual. The community was always the central fact of life. Torah, loosely translated as “the Law” was the standard of behavior. The covenantal life was what imputed righteousness, even though the individual failed often. As a people Israel was adjudged either faithful or not, either obedient or not.

The Law (the federal government as it were) directed that the widow and orphan, the alien, were to be cared for. Surely individual were expected to do so as well, but again, they were part of the community of Israel, never segregated as individuals. Surely part of the offering to the Temple was used to support the poor, those without family, or those marginalized by purity issues.

In fact, much of the calamitous events that befell Israel, occurred because of a failure to care for the poor. Read any of the classic prophets, from Jeremiah to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, virtually all reflect on the failure of the people as corporate entity to deal in compassion with the less fortunate.

to leave the cravings of the hungry unsatisfied,
and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
The villainies of villains are evil;
they devise wicked devises
to ruin the poor with lying words,
even when the plea of the needy is right. (Is 32:6-7)

The unrelenting call of the prophets was accusatory. Israel had failed to faithfully follow Yahweh, and she had failed to care for her own.

Turning to the New Testament, I search the gospels for evidence that Jesus called for private charity and decried anything having to do with corporate care.  And again, I can find none. Surely Jesus would have spoken against the Roman practice of providing food for its poor? No. He said not a word.

In fact, Jesus made quite clear that the marginalized, the poor, the sick, the otherwise impure who were kept out of the community, should be embraced. He brought them back in. He in fact chastised the rich who neglected the poor in their greed and desire to be praised for their piety.

There is nothing that would suggest that Jesus meant individuals. He was condemning the rich in general, much as we today condemn the accumulation of outrageous wealth in the hands of individuals. “Go and sell all you own and come follow me” is an admonition to beware  the love of things when people are starving.

If we  as Christians want to turn the hearts and minds of others to empathy and compassion for each other, is it wrong to start with laws that require us to care for each other through taxation? When this becomes the norm, it becomes the norm in the mind as well. It is good and right that we, each of us, pay from our excess so that everyone can live with dignity.

For all those who were critical of social security and medicare, and still are, it has become an accepted fact of life, the least we can do. And oddly, those that condemn such practices as “socialism” dip their hands all too freely into the government coffers when they reach retirement. For it has become a “right,” one everyone partakes of.

I am deeply saddened when people turn to Paul who indicated that those in the community would not work should not be fed. “See,” they say, “Paul was clear that the community should not support the lazy.” But this is such a horridly wrong interpretation.

Paul was steeped in the erroneous belief that the end was near. Jesus was expected to return within his lifetime. Some, in his communities, believing this, felt it unnecessary to work any more, they could live off the rich among them for the short time left. Paul rightfully admonished such silliness. After all, there was no paucity of real poverty in that region, and everywhere Paul calls for the care of the widow and orphan.

In the end, we are left, I think with the usual problem. We want to give ourselves and ours more, and we conveniently accept the “interpretation” of those who tell us that the bible doesn’t support corporate giving through political entities. It is but another case of reading scripture selectively and without proper exegesis.

 It’s interpretation for personal convenience.

 Look at Matthew 25. Look at Luke 10. These are more than claims for individuals to care for others. They are teaching us to radically rethink who is our brother, our sister, our family, those whom we care for without thinking. They call us to embrace the world as our family. There is nothing within them that claim that this should be done only through private donation.

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When is Enough, Enough?

The news, from all sources is filled with stories about the sad plight of Haiti trying to dig out from the catastrophe of a major earthquake. Not only that, but virtually all news organizations give people directions and advice on how best they can help in the relief effort.

It seems that planet earth is never short of natural disasters in one form and another. And yet, the spirit of the human race never ceases to dig a little deeper and give a little more. We never get “disastered” out thank goodness.

As usual, the American people give generously. Although personally devastated by financial difficulties, most people can see that their situation is blessed in comparison to that of others in far worse circumstances. The rest of the world also gives  from the heart as well, and there is no basis, it seems to me, to make claims of who does more or not as much.

Yet, here in the states we are plagued by the ugly people who cold-heartedly assess the situation according to their favorite world view scenario and spew forth invective and lie, slur and hate.

You no doubt already know whom I address. The favorite sons of the fundamentalist crowd, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Roberson, stand forth as bastions of hatred, arrogance, elitist right, and deep felt lack of compassion. Each in his own way tarnishes the fabric of American generosity and empathy. It is a shame.

If you had not heard, Limbaugh, using the time of dawn itself as reason to rail against the man he hates more than anything, Barack Obama, manages to turn the Haitian tragedy into some “Obama boon.” Rush claims that this event gives Obama the opportunity to “appear” the humanitarian and to shore up his street cred with “light skinned and dark skinned” blacks. Later he suggested that people should not donate to the Red Cross through the White House link, because Obama would be somehow skimming money for his campaign or otherwise using the donors as new contributors to court.

He also claimed that the American people had already aided Haiti in their taxes. The clear implication is that Limbaugh Americans should not contribute to any relief. And no doubt plenty of red-neck, fundamentalist, trailer trash will nod approvingly. Somehow in their pea brains, they will associate this with being really really Christian along the lines of one of my most favorite nut cases from high school, because Jesus made it clear that not all are worthy of help.  Yeah, right.

Pat Robertson on the other hand, takes a different though just as cold approach. This, he claims is but another example of God’s wrath on people who refuse to follow him, at least as Pat believes they should. “They made a pact with the devil” he claims, and God is set on destroying this people. He said similar things about 911 and about Katrina. Pat likes  a punishing God. Everyone Pat hates will get theirs in the end, and he is gleeful at this prospect.

I guess one of the thoughts that comes to mind as I sadly view these two men, is where are those that control their access to the public in all this? Is it so much and only a matter of cold hard dollars of profit?

Rush has a radio show. I don’t know what idiotic right wing corporation owns his radio network. There are plenty of ultra conservative choices. However, Rush moves well beyond conservatism. He moves to the lowest common denominator as it relates to the public. He seeks the haters  and those who are living the American dream and don’t want to share any of what they have. He tells them their hatred, their racism, their homophobia, their selfishness, are all right. They are somehow the American way, part of real freedom and equality and especially patriotism.

Pat does the same thing. He encourages his constituency, such as it is, that it is right and proper to judge and to rebuke those who disagree with you. He counsels that they are right and others wrong, and anything just short of violence is good and allowable to make others get in line with their agenda.

But both of these men have forums they don’t own. They are not in control of whether or not their filth enters the national airways. That decision is made by corporate CEOs. The decision, unfortunately, is made by those who view dollar signs before integrity or truth. And they seem to care less that absolute and utter lie and hate is being preached here. They condone and are implicated in that preaching.

They can of course claim that they are merely making good business decisions based on their responsibilities to share holders. But we know that that is another lie. The banks made the same claims, yet made horrific decisions designed only to line their own pockets with gold. In the end, these people make decisions on what will get them the most the fastest. Even if you are ultimately fired and never work again, you have more money than Midas to soften the blow as you sip margaritas on your own private island in the Caribbean.

And, I, in my usual, naivete, wonder anew, just when is enough, enough, and how do these people sleep at night?

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It’s Not the Money, Really

Saturday, we, along with all you no doubt, were busy watching the Cowboys beating the tar out of the Eagles.

I began to realize, that after scores, the cameras would pan to the rich boxes and show us the reaction of owners and former president, George “do ya like me now,” Bush. I began to become fairly annoyed. “Why do they keep showing me those people?” I whined. “I don’t care about them!”

As I am wont to do, that led to further thinking on my part. And I wondered, exactly what about the rich pisses me off so? Am I just jealous of their good fortune? Or is there something else?

I truly don’t think it has to do with the money. I like to think that in America, everyone has a chance to excel and make monetary gains and live a good life. If you want to work day and night in return for lots of dough, enjoy yourself. You worked for it, and I don’t begrudge you one bit.

So what is it? I’ve alluded to it before–it’s wretched excess that I object to. How many homes? How many cars? How much jewelry and  how many designer dresses? I do object to all that, even with your ever present foundations and charitable causes. They are but a drop in the bucket for you, a nice tax write-off, and a neat and comfortable way for you to assuage your guilty feelings about sipping $300 dollar bottles of champagne while others search through dumpsters for eatable food.

If your wealth is inherited, I guess it bothers me more. The Paris Hiltons of the world make us question our policies of leaving  infanticide out of our code of acceptable conduct. To trudge from city to city, country to country, partying away your life, grinning at paparazzi and sporting the latest haute couture is frankly a waste of oxygen.

But the real anger goes ever so much deeper, and in truth, it’s probably not anger at all, but resentment. Think for a moment. Think of what it might be like to be able to have anything. Think of walking into your favorite shopping center and favorite store. Imagine being able to buy anything whatsoever, and as much of it as you wish. Imagine doing this every day.

Imagine thumbing through a magazine and spotting something or other, and calling the number and ordering it, without ever bothering to ask the price. Imagine thinking of plane fare as about as important to you as the gas expended on a three mile trip to Troy by car is to me. Imagine that.

Imagine having balconies listing lazily over the Aegean Sea, or  an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Imagine a sun-kissed sea of blue green sliding beneath your sails as you glide from Martha’s Vineyard down the Atlantic Coast to your favorite playground port. Try. . . . You can do it.

But most of all, imagine this. Imagine waking each morning, and never having to think about how very near disaster you really are. Whether your income is $140,000 or $22,000 per year, we all pretty much live near the edge of our income. We are mostly only a few months from ruin. A couple of major disasters following one after another will put us in bankruptcy.

Some of us budget better than others, some of us demand a bigger cushion than others. But to one degree or another, that nagging anxiety inhabits our psyche at every moment. We may push it away from long periods, but we visit it enough to know that it is unpleasant to think about.

Now, imagine waking up and not having to ever think of that again. Your financial life is secure, more secure than anything. You could not spend all you have if you spent hundreds of thousands a day for years. Imagine what that would be like?

We can imagine, and we realize that they (those rich folks) live lives that are utterly free from this concern. And we resent them for it. We resent them the fact that they have escaped by sheer work or by luck, the ever present anxiety that most of the world takes as a matter of course.

It does not cause me to suggest that communism should be on our agenda. No, I am still fairly willing to let the rich be rich. (This is not to say that I don’t think that limits are required. They should be taxed excessively–nobody needs 8 houses after all, and if they want them, they should get simply lambasted with taxes.)

 But frankly, I don’t want to be assaulted with their “lifestyle” all the time. I don’t want to see their homes, and their boats, and their crap. I don’t want to see them living it up at Vail or other rich meeting places. I don’t want to see Paris or any of her friends. I don’t care to see or hear about their love lives or their family squabbles. And I assure you I don’t care one whit about your thoughts on “poverty” and how tough a time the average American is having. Mostly you can’t begin to relate.

You can call it jealousy if you want. I don’t think that’s it. It’s just that the extremely wealthy are getting this perfectly wonderful free ride on the anxiety bus, and that should be enough of a bonus. I don’t need to eavesdrop on their galas and sport outings. I don’t need to hobnob vicariously. Why do they need fame and celebrity status on top of it all?

You won’t find me in the gallery at the “red carpet” events. So don’t bother looking.

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Giving or GIVING?

philanthropistI’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of “The Philanthropist.” But an episode we saw last night was compelling and seemed as is wont to happen, to dovetail with a scriptural reading of the day before.

In a nutshell: The philanthropist, Teddy finds that some one has gotten his credit card and is using it, not just for personal gain, but to actually help people. He goes in quest of the thief.

In his journey, he comes upon a recipient of largess, a man in a wheelchair. The impostor Teddy has paid for a ramp to be built on his front porch. After hearing the story, the real Teddy inquires whether there could be updates inside as well, and then tells the man he will pay for further alterations.

The man is overwhelmed and continues to thank Teddy, who continues to put him off, finally telling him, “Seriously, this is nothing to me at all. Nothing. I mean it doesn’t affect my life, please don’t thank me.” The man looks on in wonder, and says, “I’m happy to have met you.” Teddy replies, “it’s been my privilege to meet you.”

This came on the heels of this passage from Mark:

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all these who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (14:41-44)

There seemed to be a message here. In the previous verses, Jesus had commented on the scribes, and their pomposity in being SEEN as pious. Here he seems to comment on the wealthy and their SEEMING largess.  Just a few chapters earlier in Mk 10: 17-22, we have the story of the rich man, and Jesus advising him to sell all and follow me.

What are we to make of all this? Are we to impoverish ourselves in order to be Christlike? I don’t think that is what Jesus meant. As to the story of the rich man, most I think realize that this is not an injunction to become poor, but a wake up call to consider where you place your values. The rich man was ” grieved” at the thought of giving up his possessions.

Similarly, I don’t think that the message of 14:41-44 speaks to it being better to give up all your resources to be blessed. The sticking point perhaps for the wealthy who have given more to the treasury is their doing so publicly so all can admire their giving.

Like Teddy, their giving does no harm to their lifestyle whatever. In that sense, it is no gift at all, but is but what is expected. They have more than they can use, it should be as a matter of course given to the public upkeep. Nothing to applaud here, nothing to see, move along.

We too fall short of the mark when we limit our giving to the “sanitary” offering of money, not wanting to get our hands dirty or expend our precious time in actual service. The widow, humbled to appear among the wealthy and still offer her small sum, was herself reduced by her giving. She would suffer want herself. It meant something to her to give that penny.

We have to ask ourselves, are we pleasing God by simply giving of our abundance, taking some satisfaction that we are checking off on the list of “how to get to heaven” another item? We walk near the homeless woman and drop a few dollars in her basket, avoiding eye contact, avoiding the reality of her life. We feel satisfied and move on, having done our duty.

Yes, undoubtedly the money contributes, and nobody is arguing that the rich and famous of Cape Cod and the Hamptons should stop their fund raiser balls and extravaganzas. But like Teddy, they are not personally touched by their giving, not limited in what they can buy, use or consume. It is after all, a tax write-off.

It is our nitty gritty getting down in the ugliness of life, and rolling up our sleeves and entering into the lives of the poor that counts most I’m convinced. Only there do we learn the important lessons of compassion and empathy that will transform our own lives.

I have often found it interesting that conservatives tend to quibble about “who is really poor.” They like to define away whole groups, the immigrant who is not legal is not one we need address with our help. Nor the lazy, nor the emotionally precarious, for the most part. People who make poor choices are  not in the mix.

Yet, try as I might, I can no where ever find in the bible anything but “the poor.” I can’t for the life of me find the “actual poor” the “entitled poor” or the “real poor.” I find only THE poor. Not in the Hebrew Testament nor in the the New Testament. Jesus seemed never to have drawn any distinction between worthy poor and unworthy.

I have been no better than most, worse by far than some, and better than a few in all this. I am learning, growing, and hopefully with the Spirit’s help, I am seeing the Master’s meaning aright. It is a thing to ponder on I believe. What say you?

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When Were You Hungry and . . . .?

homelessBlogging is many things to me, but it is a couple of things not generally advertised. It is sometimes for me a confessional, and sometimes the psychiatric couch. I’m not sure which one it is today, but surely it meets one of the those.

From the earliest days in my “learning to be Catholic,” I found out about what kind of giving pleased Jesus most of all. It was the kind done in anonymity, or at least done with no announcement to the world.

Since then, I’ve taken special delight in those “pay it forward” and random acts of kindness moments. I’ve been true in keeping them to myself, they were special, between God and me.

I’m going to tell you of one, and you’ll understand why I violate the rules this once.

Cedar Rapids, like most cities, has a range of shopping delights on the outskirts of the city, where city and suburbia meet. It is where the Walmarts and Pep Boys, the Home Depot and Barnes and Noble kiss shoulders with Burger King and Subway. These places are along main drags and are busy places come the weekend when working people come to buy groceries and home improvement items on their days off.

One such area is quite familiar to me. It’s the place I frequent, though often during the week, but I can be found there many a Sunday after church picking up this item or that. It is a place where the homeless congregate, along the grassy medians and at the top of the feeder freeway exits.

They stand with signs bespeaking their status: Homeless, veteran, father, unemployed, disabled. They tell of their need: food. And they always touched my heart. And I used to stop at the light and reach out my arm with a $10. Sometimes when the Contrarian was with me and we had the back filled with groceries, we gave food, or cigarettes before I quit.

They were always there, mostly always. And then there was an “expose” on a local news channel. Following some of these men as they left the area, led to actual houses. It turned out they were not necessarily fathers or disabled or whatever, but considered this a “job” they went to daily. I stopped listening, but I got the gist of it.

The Contrarian and I talked of it. I shrugged, thinking that well, it changed nothing as to my giving. And how can one tell. And I noticed that the men no longer came. Either they discovered that no one gave, or they concluded no one would. The median and the entrance ramp was clear of poorly dressed men carrying cardboard signs. Had the police driven them off? Had then been arrested? Were they acting illegally? I never found out.

Then last week, I came up the ramp to the light, and I saw him standing there. He had the sign. I don’t know what the sign said. For I didn’t look. I pretended to be involved with something inside the car, and thankfully the light changed, and I turned and was away from it.

I don’t know if he was really homeless, really hungry. I don’t know. I didn’t know, and  I didn’t look. I drove by. And I’m not sure what it means. But it’s been troubling me in ways great and small. All I remember as I drove away, is feeling ashamed and I knew that Jesus had beckoned and I had looked away.

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The Value of Conformity

Edward-Scissorhands-Depp

 

We watched Edward Scissorhands the other night, and I was struck I think this time by issues I hadn’t thought of previously.

As you no doubt recall, Edward, played by the wonderful Johnny Depp, (who is playing the Mad Hatter, I have just learned in the new “Alice in Wonderland,” by the eclectic Tim Burton) is a created being, whose inventor dies before being able to give him hands. He is thus left with an array of scissors attached to his arms. He lives in his own world in the castle at the end of the street of suburbia. He is discovered by the Avon lady, who takes him home as her personal “project.”

All manner of interesting things occur after this, as the neighborhood men but mostly women strain to meet and learn about this odd new person in their midst. It is quickly discovered that Edward has a talent for topiary, then clipping pets, and finally cutting women’s hair. His future seems secure, until he resists in confusion the seduction of the neighborhood vixen (the one who seduces all the repair men who enter her web). She turns viciously on his lack of interest, and starts whispering that he attacked her.

Then Edward is enticed into helping the real love of his life, daughter of the Avon lady, into helping break into her boyfriends home. Edward is caught. The police learn that he has never had a proper upbringing on issues of right and wrong, and he is released, only to save the Avon lady’s son from being hit by a van, while slightly injuring him.

By now the neighbors are intent on driving him out,or killing him as evil. The upshot, is that they think him dead and he returns to his castle, living alone with his topiary and ice sculptures.

From the start, Edward is pushed into conforming to the status quo of the neighborhood. His new “step mom” immediately gives him new clothes to wear, finding his leather suit inappropriate. When his talents are discovered, the husband starts explaining to him about getting into a career and being like others. After his arrest and release, he is told about the morality requirements of social living.

Edward is quite acceptable when he can and is used to satisfy the neighbors’ needs for novelty or because he can function as a service person to their everyday needs. When he turns out to be “different” he is just another “other” in the world and to be expelled quickly.

The boy-man is more a toy than a human being to them. His views are not solicited, and his comments are largely ignored. He is merely presented and told what to do and how to be. When he cannot or will not comply, there is no further use for him.

OZ

I juxtapose this against Tobias from the HBO series OZ. Oz is a prison section, some sort of experimental section, but unnatural in many ways. Lifers are housed with first timers who are doing short time. Poor Tobias is a lawyer, who drunkenly killed a small child with his car and is “made an example of.” He is soon the bitch of a white supremacist, not by choice of course, but he soon learns that it may be better than other alternatives offered him.

He quickly conforms to what mere months ago would have been anathema to him. His instincts for justice, when another inmate is on death row for a “murder” most everyone commonly knows was self-defense, urges him to let it be. He refuses until other inmates make it clear that his life may hang in the balance. He decides that justice ain’t so great after all.

Which all raises the issue of how much we demand that those we “help” are required to be what we want or expect them to be in order to receive our gifts of assistance. I suspect we do have expectations and when the recipients of our aid don’t act in approved ways, we are quick to draw back.

We served lunch yesterday. I found it hysterical that the kids were so demanding on what they did and did not want from the menu. Kids are picky, and that doesn’t change whether they have refrigerators full of food or not. Adults are more accepting, but even here, many wanted this, not that, more of this other.

I recall, as we hurried along trying to prepare trays, while getting special requests which required more attention, feeling, “hey this is free, take what is offered and be quiet!” No one said such a thing. Every request was honored, and they should be honored. Human beings have the right of choice, and being poor doesn’t eliminate that.

A percentage of the homeless don’t want the responsibility of apartments and jobs. You can’t help them by giving them that. Many do, don’t get me wrong, but some have opted out of the society that places those burdens on people. Offering them low cost housing and jobs isn’t what they want. They aren’t lazy. They are not able to cope with the stress of such responsibility. We need to adjust our help accordingly in some cases. I’m not sure we do.

See our realities are our own. Much as some insist that there is but one truth, one reality, that is simply belied by the facts. My reality is that going to jail would be impossible to withstand. I adjust my behavior accordingly. Others don’t view that experience as the end of the world, and they behave differently. 

 I don’t mean that I don’t commit crimes and they do, but rather that I am careful not to give the “appearance” of doing something wrong, while they may do things that allow police a better chance to come to the wrong conclusion about them. Do you see the difference? In fact, the very place they live places them at greater risk, and means they must be more vigilant than I need to be.

It seems to me, we don’t spend nearly as much time as we should on trying to vision the world through the eyes of other people. Maybe if we did, we might learn a thing or two, and maybe we might learn how to help better, and maybe we might learn to see the “other” as us. I don’t know. I just think these things at times. Do you?

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Just Do It! Pleeez!

Sorry I missed you all yesterday. I was gone the better part of the day working at our church library. We’re culling our collection and preparing for a nice gift from a former pastor who left us a sizable portion of his personal library. After working at that for several hours I met with my “soul partner” for a light lunch and some conversation.

Our church has paired up people who desire to delve deeper into their spiritual lives and figure that two heads together can be a real help. Our first meeting was lovely, and we both look forward to sharing more in upcoming weeks.

Tomorrow, the Contrarian and I are off to Iowa City for his appointment at the VA. It’s always something we don’t look forward to, but never takes long, but I’ll probably not get a chance to post. I need to stop off at the store on my way home for some charity ideas I’m trying to promote. Speaking of which. . . .

food-bankIt’s beginning to sound like a broken record. “I was watching GMA this morning when I got this idea. . . .”

Well, I did. So listen up, and see what you think. Everybody is talking about how food pantries across the land are suffering in this economic black hole we are all suffering through. GMA has been hitting up big food companies and they bring their truck filled with whatever down, and say they are donating it to such and such food bank in such and such a state.

Nice, but look at the free advertising and good press they are getting. Well, I thought, gosh, most everybody who can afford a few cans a month would be happy to do the same. Problem is, lots of folks don’t know where the pantry is in their town or city, lots don’t “have the time” to run over to deliver, and well, you get the idea. People have lots of excuses why they can’t help.

The trick is to make it easy. I figured lots more folks will help out if you make it simple. So I thought, what if the grocery stores set aside a bit of space and put in a box where shoppers could drop in purchased cans and boxes as they left the store. The store would make the delivery once a week or so, as needed?

Well I called our local HyVee and Fareway stores. Both are localized operations so I thought they would be the better choice. I got reasonably good responses from both, though Fareway asked me to stop in “to discuss it further.” HyVee was all smiles and wow, great idea, but didn’t ask for my phone number or anything. They do tend to be very upbeat and then not do anything, at least that has been my experience in the past. The woman I talked to did say, “Well, I hope in the near future you’ll see a box in our store.” I’ll follow up I promise.

So, I’m calling on all you bloggers to consider doing the same thing where you live. It can’t hurt, it may help. Who knows. A phone call or a check with the manager next time you are in is easy enough.

***

While I’m on my bully pulpit, let me ask you to consider a donation to OneIowa. I follow them on Twitter. They have been working tirelessly to fight off the religious right’s attempt to undo the Iowa Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Recently, as many of you know, NOM, (National Organization for Marriage) has been running a commercial trying to scare people that same-sex marriage will be the end of the world. OneIowa has been able to do it’s own commercial. Funds are needed to keep it on air. 

The link will link you to the donation site. If we can hold the line in Iowa, I think we will have gone a long way to break the back of the opposition. Oddly I ran into a short explanation of how marriage came to be the province of the Christian church. It seems that marriage always was a civil issue and the early church wasn’t even particularly keen on blessing them. Only after the collapse of the Roman Empire did the church get involved. They were among the few who could actually read and write, and thus record the contractual arrangements.

***

cheneyOkay, it started with Limbaugh and Hannity and O’Reilly being the spokesmen for the GOP. That was bad enough. But no one really took that seriously. These are but guys who know what side of bread is buttered.

Then there was Michael Steele, but he proved to be just nutzy and could be shoved aside and left to his “message to da hood” silliness.

Newt reared his head, and started to bellow, and, well again, one can make allowances. The dude wants his own shot at the White house. I mean if Sarah can be held up as an icon of Republican virtue, then truly anybody has a shot.

But then we started to hear again and again from Cheney and Rove.  Rove, the architect of the GOP demise has found a new home at Foxy NO-News where he can attempt to resurrect his defunct reputation for singularly destroying the GOP product in but four short years. He doesn’t seem to be running for anything, and trying to recapture rep creds seems his only motivation.

What of Cheney? Well one could argue he is doing the same, but given his supreme arrogance, this seems unlikely. To a guy who responds with “so what” when asked how do you feel about 75% of the American electorate disagreeing with your policies, his reputation is well, not his concern. After all, he assumes that anyone who questions his reputation is just some minor bit of fluff the duster missed.

So what is he babbling around town about how Obama is such a disaster? Clearly he ignores protocol since it is unseemly for the outgoing administration to criticize the new one. Bush even got that, though Daddy probably had to sit him down in his jammies and splain it to him.

I think the rationale is quite simple. Cheney, in the rarefied world he lives in, quite simply believes that the world cannot go on without his fine hand at the tiller, or wheel, or whatever steering mechanism you care to use. I think he’s so full of self-importance he really, actually, truly, honestly, categorically, believes that he is the savior of America. He’s convinced that somehow he is still pulling strings and behind the scenes directing traffic around the Beltway. Worse, he believes it is essential that he continue to do so.

And if that don’t make you a wee bit skeered, you are mighty mighty brave!

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