May 29, 2020

Good Samaritan

By Glenn

The gospels are a rich source of wisdom.  In simple parables, they offer role models for good behavior. They also highlight some bad behavior. Often these parables take an unexpected turn and contradict common sense. The Gospels turn our common beliefs on their heads.

One of my favorite parables is the story of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans trace their lineage through Israelites who never experienced captivity in Babylon. Unlike Jews in Jerusalem, they sacrificed on Mount Gerizim instead of in the Temple. These ritualistic differences created animosity between the two groups.

When Jesus chose a Samaritan as an example of a good neighbor, it contradicted common sense.  Jesus often turned to Samaritans as examples of good behavior. They may have worshiped differently, but they exhibited behaviors that reflected the Gospel.  Like the woman at the well, Samaritans in the Gospels were kind and hospitable to strangers.

The context of the parable of the Good Samaritan is a test or trick set for Jesus. A scholar of the law, or lawyer, asked “Teacher…what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by asking the lawyer what the law said.  The lawyer said to honor the Lord your God with your whole heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

The first part of the answer was common sense. Who didn’t know this?  The second part contains the wisdom of the Gospel.   It held a surprise.  The lawyer then asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the Good Samaritan.  

The Samaritan stopped to help a stranger in need.  He dressed the stranger’s wounds, gave the stranger a ride on a donkey and then even paid for the “hospital” care in the inn.  This behavior was in stark contrast to the Priest of the Temple and a Levite.  Both hurried by the stranger in need.

Why would they do such a thing?  They had their relationship with God to attend to.  They couldn’t worship God with blood on their hands.  Blood was dirty.  God was clean.  They couldn’t worship God if they too were dirty.  Their relationship with God mattered more than their love of neighbor.   They couldn’t risk offending God to help their neighbor.

How many people today are doing the same thing by rushing off to a Church service?  Just like the Priest and the Levite they have more concern for their personal relationship with God than the safety of their neighbors.   There are countless examples around the world and the United States of Covid 19 spreading in Church assemblies. 

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff then have to step in to clean up the mess.  They are the Good Samaritans.  On Tuesday night the city of Sherman announced that 5 firefighters now have Covid 19.  How many times in the past months were they called upon to put their lives at risk to save others?  

Who will you be?  A Priest?  A Levite? A Good Samaritan? Can you stay home for Love of Neighbor?

May 23, 2020

Normal Hygiene?

By Glenn
Topics:
Covid 19
Meism

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What is normal?  Normal is what we have been doing most, if not all, of our lives.  We don’t notice the abnormal unless it is a large or sudden disruption to our normal.  Most of the time, it is not.  Our lives and habits slowly change overtime.

My dad used to tell of a big break from his normal.  As a child, he spoke French at home.  Like many Cajun families, French was the normal at home.  When he went to school, however, the school forced him to speak English.  He experienced real physical pain for living normally.  Because of that change in his life, English was always my normal.  

The last 200 years of human history has been one wave after another of change.  It is hard to think of any aspect of the human experience that remains untouched by change.  If we took a group of humans from 300 years ago and dropped them into today’s society, everything, except their human anatomy, would set them apart.  Their language, manners, and clothes would mark them as abnormal.  Most of all, there would be a chasm of personal hygiene between us and them.

If you have ever seen pictures of nineteenth century children in long, open gowns, you probably thought “how cute.”  You may not have known the ugly reality behind that cuteness.  Diapers are a recent addition to personal hygiene.  Before diapers children simply squatted where they were to defecate or urinate.  Parents then used a handy shovel and pail of sand to scope and absorb the waste.  Safety pins destroyed this normal.  Thankfully, diapers are now normal.

Adults were not much better.  Bathing was often a once a year event.  It was common sense that dirt and grim made it harder for people to get sick.  Even doctors didn’t wash their hands on a regular basis.  In 1847 Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis showed with data that hand washing could reduce the death rate in obstetrical clinics.  Since Semmelweis’ proposal disrupted the normal, his colleagues rejected his idea as absurd.  Today, most of us take a daily bath, wash our hands after using the restroom and before eating.  It is now normal.

Public health also evolved in the nineteenth century but not until the very end.   Most cities were open cesspools.  Both humans and animals used the streets to relieve themselves.  In the 1880s cities like Paris rediscovered Roman sewage systems and transformed their environment cleaning the streets and redirecting the waste into vast underground channels.  It took laws to create a new normal.  Now, humans and animals must find a better spot.  Humans must to clean up after their animals. 

There is so much about personal hygiene that we take for granted today.  Our imaginary group from 300 years ago would find none of it normal.  What would they think of the sign “No Shirt. No Shoes. No Service”?  Would they think we are crazy?  Maybe, but it is simply an evolving aspect of public health.  We wash our hands and cover our bodies to protect our neighbors.  

Masks are no different.  They reduce our chances of infecting others with Covid 19.  They’ve been proven effective in Asia.  Until there is a vaccine to protect us from each other, masks should become as normal as diapers, going to the bathroom, flushing a toilet and washing your hands. 

May 15, 2020

Sacrifice

By Glenn

Sacrifice means giving something up today for a better tomorrow. Self-sacrifice is a key virtue.  We give of ourselves to better those around us.  Our communities honor those among us who excel at self-sacrifice.

Recently, we have seen the rise of an old and ugly form of sacrifice: the sacrifice of others.  A small, vocal and threatening minority has taken to the streets with guns to protest the call for us to sacrifice. Like drunk drivers they are demanding the freedom to sacrifice others. 

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been pretty direct about the need for sacrifice. “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’”

Patrick wants Americans over 50 to risk their lives for young people to go to work. Patrick wants to create the impression that he would bravely join this death march for seniors. But would he?  Donald Trump sits in the White House and is tested every day.   Everyone around him is tested every day. When they test positive, the workers, not Donald self-quarantines.   Everyone in the White House now wears a mask… except Donald.   Do you think the Texas Lieutenant Governor would behave any differently than Donald?

I don’t.  I’ve happily lived in Texas for more than 25 years.  For those 25 years conservatives have been cutting taxes and sacrificing public education. I’ve never had a tax cut.  My taxes always go up. Whose taxes have conservatives like Patrick cut?  Not mine, and I bet, not yours.

What we are witnessing then is an ugly call to sacrifice others.  Implicitly Dan Patrick is asking seniors to accept death for others to make a profit. Don’t believe, however, that the sacrifice would be limited to seniors. Doctors, nurses and the entire staff at hospitals will face increased danger as the young enjoy their “freedom” to spread COVID-19.  

Dan Patrick is also basing his call to sacrifice seniors on a false assumption. Younger Americans do get COVID- 19. Not only do they face respiratory issues, but they die from blood clots, organ failure and heart attacks.   There is growing evidence that the disease attacks children. 

Self-sacrifice is a virtue. Sacrificing others is cruel.  At moments like this it is typical for real leaders to ask for shared sacrifice.  We should all do our part to limit, not increase, the danger to those around us. 

Could you imagine a person sitting in World War II London demanding lights as NAZIs dropped bombs in the middle of the night?  

We know how to do this. We know how to fight both the economic and health threats in our society.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed the way. President Roosevelt battled the Great Depression, War on two continents and polio. He didn’t quit because it was too hard.  No, he fought on because surrendering meant more suffering.

May 8, 2020

Donald Trump, The Gambler

By Glenn

Donald Trump is a well-known gambler.  Almost all of the time, he gambles with other peoples’ money.   Donald used bankruptcy laws six times to protect himself from catastrophic losses.  Four of those bankruptcies involved casinos.  I thought the rule was “the house always wins.”

Now, Donald is gambling with our lives.  Covid 19 has already killed more Americans than the entire 20 years of the Vietnam War.  More than 70,000 Americans have lost their lives.  That number is more than 17 times the deaths on 9/11. 

Instead of providing leadership, Donald claims he is simply a “backup” for hospitals and states.   Backup? Oh my, how things have changed.  When Harry Truman left office he said, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

The job is being done in other democratically elected states.   South Korea, for example, which had its first known case of Covid 19 the same day as the USA, now has almost no cases of the virus.  Italy, France and Germany all have declining cases. 

Cases in America continue to rise.  What is the difference?   Other countries have accepted a variety of measures that add to saving human life and health.  They test a greater percentage of the population.  They contact all potential victims.  They enforce social distancing.

America is going in the opposite direction.  Donald is gambling with our lives.  After five months of warnings, we are 41th in the world when it comes to testing.  We have no contact tracing to warn potential victims. We are relaxing social distancing requirements. 

As a result, the Center for Disease Control is exploring the potential that between 150,000 and 200,000 Americans will die.  Are you really ready to gamble for your life?  Are your husbands, wives, children and grandchildren worth the risks?    

Donald Trump is a well-known gambler.  Four of those bankruptcies involved casinos.  I thought the rule was “the house always wins.” Is your house going to win? Or will only Donald’s house win?

April 21, 2020

Covid 19 is Deadly

By Glenn
Topics:
Uncategorized

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How do we”known” Covid 19 is deadly? How do we “know” a virus running wild through the population would cripple hospitals and schools? Because it is happening.

Covid 19 spreads for two weeks before it is detected. It spreads easily and it kills easily.

Look at the differences between historical trends in deaths per week compared to this year. In normal years, people die at fairly regular rates. Each country may have its own pattern, patterns exists.

Now, look at 2020. Covid 19 deaths are UNDER-REPORTED, not overblown. Does it look like a hoax we can afford to ignore?

“These numbers undermine the notion that many people who have died from the virus may soon have died anyway. In Paris, more than twice the usual number of people have died each day, far more than the peak of a bad flu season. In New York City, the number is now four times the normal amount.”

April 10, 2020

Public Investments: An Ounce of Prevention

By Glenn

Donald’s disease continues on a record pace to reverse the economy President Obama built. Public investments are an ounce of prevention. They cost less than a pound of cure.

America must have robust international partnerships. Americans living, working, studying overseas tear down walls and promote openness. Americans live and learn.

America live in a world. Neither Americans, nor America, can simply stay locked behind walls. Our futures is bright. It is brights if we reject the simple minded bigotry that retreated from the world. Engage, learn, build.

Public investments are needed now more than ever. Scientists, doctors, researchers don’t grow on trees. Teachers grow the futures. Invest in Public Education and Universities. Education is preventive medicine.

March 31, 2020

The Great Conversion

By Glenn

Some of you may have heard that universities are moving “online.” That phrase means many things for many people.

For me, I believe in face-to-face. My students paid for face-to-face, and I am going to try to give the best possible under the circumstances.

As a gamer, I can’t imagine a video chat providing the quality that would make me happy. I also fear the synchronous nature of the chat would exclude too many. Computers and bandwidth are a premium in many homes at the moment.

Ergo, I settled on reproducing lectures on video. Reproduction sounds simple enough. I’ve already done the research. I’ve already created the PowerPoints. What could be hard about reading for a camera?

Here is one lecture for a typical day. There are 5 segments. They are less than an hour. It took me about 8 hours to produce. There are mistakes just as there would be in a typical class. Forgive them.

The lecture, “The Jesus Revolution”, is now on Youtube. It has 5 segments. Supposedly you can watch lectures of big names, from big universities. I offer you mine. I am not a big name. I am not at big university.

I do believe, however, that I have something more to offer. I’ve spent 25 years teaching in our community. I have fielded and anticipated questions for your typical American college student.

My lectures are designed for them. As my mentor and intellectual father, Amos E. Simpson, taught me about writing, I try to speak to my grandmother, an intelligent person who simply does not know about the topic. The process starts with a foundation and builds an argument.

I’ll have more lectures posted for my students on Youtube for Early American History, Early World Civilization and 20th Century Europe. Hopefully, I’ll get faster, but I’ll do my best to give my students their money’s worth. Feel free to join us for this opportunity journey.

March 18, 2020

Liar In Chief

By Glenn

I am simply documenting this. He does not even pretend. The most Orwellian misleader ever in the history of the United States
________________

“This is a pandemic,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

______________

From the New York Times,  Katie Rogers, March 17, 2020

This is what Mr. Trump has actually said over the past two months:

On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” the president replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, commenting on the country’s first reported cases: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”

On Feb. 27, at a White House meeting: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

On March 7, standing next to President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil at Mar-a-Lago, his club in Palm Beach, Fla., when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.” (At least three members of the Brazilian delegation and one Trump donor at Mar-a-Lago that weekend later tested positive for the virus.)

On March 16, in the White House briefing room, warning that the outbreak would “wash” away this summer: “So it could be right in that period of time where it, I say, wash — it washes through. Other people don’t like that term. But where it washes through.”

March 13, 2020

Moments of Clarity.

By Glenn

Moments of crisis are also moments of clarity.

The very same politicians who scream prolife to get elected are now telling us to focus on profits, not saving lives.

The very same politicians who scream get the government away from businesses are now throwing money at banksters faster than they can light it on fire.

Investing in education and affordable health care saves profits and lives. Investing in people builds a strong foundation for economic growth and individual liberty.

Put people before profits. Lincoln did it. FDR did it. We should do it.

March 7, 2020

Keep Calm and Tell the Truth.

By Glenn

Lies, not the truth, cause mass panic and paranoia. If the Chinese Communists had been open to the truth, the world would be a better place. At first, it tried to punish the dissenters. Only reluctantly did it decide to face reality.

Dissent created the Modern World. Martin Luther, Copernicus, Voltaire, Wollstonecraft, Darwin, Plessy, Carson, King and Milk. Societies that have embraced, and encouraged, dissent have done much better than those that stifle it.

The Right to Dissent is enshrined in our Constitution. Every phrase of the First Amendment celebrates the various methods for dissenting: speaking, writing, assembling and worshiping. Dissent is essential to a free and prosperous society.

Donald Trump rejects these truths that we hold self evident. Donald lies. When he gets caught in a lie, he lies again. Anyone who dissents is punished, fired. At his rallies, he regularly laments for the Good Ol’ Days when the majority could physically abuse dissenters.

Donald is not alone. His entire Conservative base has joined him in his web of lies. Conservative media helps him create the threads and weave his web of lies.

We need to restore the value of Dissent. It is the only path forward. Dissent keeps the powerful in check. Dissent restores balance to society. Dissent is a skill that quality education teaches in Science, History, Math and English classes.

Dissent values the truth over official lies. The truth is the only path forward. Real leaders tell the truth and value dissent.

Keep Calm and Tell the Truth.