Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 328

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We have an interesting handbell piece on the docket for this weekend. It’s not easy, so it will be interesting to see if we hit it. Here’s a recording.

Our church purchased a new organ. A side note is that the organ is the first produced by a local (Cincinnati) company. In order to promote their product, the company sponsored a concert featuring a distinguished organist – Christoph Bull from UCLA. Wow … he impressed us – so for those who enjoy organ music, here is one of his videos.

Christians are early in the season of Lent. Interestingly, here’s an article about using digital technology for Lenten reflections.

Here’s a look at the lighter side. Enjoy this almost 2 minute trip with a skier going around town.

This is fun. The Atlantic creates a timeline based on a birthday. Here’s the link so you can try it.

Cincinnati and Xavier are two college basketball programs that are competitive, respectful, and regularly in the tournament. These two schools are separated by 3.5 miles (5.6 k). Interestingly, Northern Kentucky University is only 11 miles (18 km) from the most northern (XU), and they will definitely will have a spot on the brackets to be announced on Sunday. So will Cincinnati, and maybe Xavier.

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When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009, I saw it as a start with hopes that Congress would work out the problems that would arise. Both parties have greatly failed doing that. Now it appears the same thing will happen, just with the other side of the aisle – meaning Congress remains selfish and clueless.

Comparing the ACA with the proposed replacement is a prime example of how Democrats have a tendency to over-regulate while Republicans under-regulate.

Although many have grumbled at the replacement plan, I haven’t heard the insurance industry issuing angst – which means a reason to question the plan.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is enjoying a ratings boost due to his relentless anti-Trump rants during his monologue. We watch (live or recorded) because he’s good for a laugh.

People who regularly watch the nightly opinion-oriented shows on cable news networks are not only feeding their bias, but are also driving themselves into a frenzy – and neither is good for America.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Above normal temperature this past winter
Not placing a phone tap on Trump Tower phones
North Korea continuing to bomb the sea
My alma mater approaching 50 years without making the NCAA basketball tournament
Wikileaks, WikiPooPoo ,PeePeeLeaks, leaks and leeks

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers the pros and cons for a two-party political system.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
God getting strong urges to bring dinosaurs back
Study finds exposure to violent children causes increased aggression in video game characters
Pope Francis spotted sunbathing nude in St. Peter’s Square
Carhartt introduces rugged work throng (A pic doe those who dare to look)
Lemur fantasizes about ripping face off of next dumbshit who calls it a monkey

Interesting Reads
How smoothies delay hunger
How to eat like a Viking
Fall of the Romanovs
Giving up sugar: Lent and the brain
5 future technologies that got real in 2016
Norba and the Romans
(Gallery) A celebration of photography

Here’s another oldie from Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On Roots

Roots can have a variety of meanings:

  • The anchoring structure of plants or body parts as hair and teeth
  • The primary source of origin
  • The essential part or base element
  • Point of family ancestry
  • The note on which to build a music cord
  • The part of a word carrying the main meaning and forming the basis of the word by adding prefixes and suffixes

In our computerized world, root directories form the foundation of the operating system. When the power comes to the operating system, the computer begins to boot by looking for the primary operating directories – the root directories. Much like the trunk of the tree, the root directories lead to the subdirectories like branches of a tree. However, with the initial power source, these operating branches remain silent – actually lifeless.

The words Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelic Lutheran Church of America in this article sparked these thoughts and this post. (For the sake of disclosure, the ELCA is where my membership resides.)

Christians just began Lent – a season of reflection and renewal. With the Lenten season in mind, Bishop Hansen asked the following questions that (at least to me) are good questions for all – for theists, atheists, and agnostics – for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others.

  • Would you describe your life as rooted or rootless?
  • What are the signs for you that help discern whether we are rooted or rootless?

Opening image is the property of FractalAngel

On a Lenten Thought

The season of Lent is an opportunity for self-reflection in anticipation to Christianity’s most significant celebration – Easter.

Lent is the time we hear people state “what” they are giving up. Everyone knows the common items as alcohol, chocolate, candy, and swearing – and in today’s electronic society, even Facebook. The Roman Catholics giving up meat on Fridays leads communities to the Friday night Fish Fry festivities.

I cannot recall exactly when I heard this, but my guess is 5-10 years ago, when (in a sermon) one of my pastors said, “It’s not what one gives up for Lent, but what one adds.”

Think about it, which makes more sense – giving up chocolate or volunteering in a soup kitchen? Giving up candy or helping out a senior citizen center? Giving up anything or adding prayer?

A short time ago at the Ash Wednesday service, the prayer below struck accord with me. (From the Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Leaders Guide)

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent – of self examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love – strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I know that there is a lot of room for improvement in my Lenten practices, but at least I have processed that message – which is the first step before implementing. However, adding (over subtracting) during Lent still seems to be the profound thing to do. Of course practicing what one preaches is the hardest part.

On Lenten Sacrifice to Help Us All

Today Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, thus the start of the season of Lent; the season leading up to the most festive day in the Christian church.

During this 40-day journey of renewal, many will give up something substantive as chocolate, alcohol, or candy. A less popular way to look at Lent, but possibly more meaningful, is not giving up something, but to give something. One could give time to the needy, a neighbor, or their community. Giving something that isn’t normally done is a justifiable sacrifice that is in the spirit of the season.

No matter what the choice, whether in the spirit of giving up or doing, I offer these Lenten suggestions to our beloved members of Congress.

  • On this day, Ash Wednesday, and the day after 90% of the polled public gave President Obama a range of positive marks for his speech.
  • On this day when Congress itself has an approval rating of about half of the president’s.
  • On this day, the day after while having to watch a polarizing Speaker Pelosi in the background as President Obama called for bipartisanship.
  • On this day, the day after the Republican response of we’ll support the president when he agrees with us.

Give up partisan BS.
Do work toward constructive solutions.

Give up party-first mentality.
Do act and embrace a country-first approach.

Give up letting others think for you.
Do go against your party more often.

Give up talking against the other party.
Do listen and think.

Give up citing crap as “all economists we’ve talked to”, thus stop listening to one view.
Do listen to a variety of economists, thus listening to other views.

Give up using statistics selectively to lash out against the other side.
Do use a full complement of statistics to gain a fuller understanding of the problem and seek solutions.

Give up any pay raise and cost of living adjustment for the rest of your term.
Do pass legislation that freezes your wages and adjustments so you only receive them in years of a budget surplus.

Give up personal frivolous spending in individual budgets.
Do cut budgets of all individual members of Congress and each committee by 20%.

Give up fear mongering and trying so hard to make the opposition look bad.
Do work on strengthening your position.

Give up arguing about which partisan solution is the best of the worst.
Do work for something better than each can offer.

Give up groups of 4 or more (2 per party) going on a government-funded trip.
Do pass legislation making all expenditures by members of Congress as transparent as possible, thus readily available to any taxpayer seeking the information.

Give up fund raising for any Political Action Committee (PAC); including your own.
Do pass legislation that no member of Congress can have/lead a PAC.

Do get your head of your butt.

Amen.