Good-bye Rights

If our rights are given by law, then our rights can be taken by law! If our rights are granted by government, then our rights can be taken by government! That is the cry of the Declaration of Independence. Somebody please tell CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and actor-activist Ben Affleck.

Today, Chris Cuomo said, “Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man.…  Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.” He subordinates human rights to human laws. Try telling that to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

If Cuomo cannot get an Attaboy from our Founders, he can at least count on actor-activist Ben Affleck for support. Last October, Affleck said the following in a debate with Bill Maher:
“We are endowed by our forefathers with inalienable rights.”

What did Thomas Jefferson actually write in the Declaration of Independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

President John F. Kennedy declared, “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Wouldn’t you love to watch a team debate of Cuomo and Affleck vs. Adams and Jefferson?

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The Cost of a Cabin

Snow2 vert2 My cabin is boring beige
The hazy clouds are layers of lavender, pink, white and blue
High above a half moon nods a slanted greeting
As we jet north, the fields far below hue from tan to white
Infrequent towns are hoisting their street lights
Rural roads form a patchwork crazy quilt
Sections square in even Midwestern miles
In between are random mixtures of 320, 160, 80 and 40 acres

Each of these fields has a story
Sweat-irrigated earth
Tilled with tears
Bought with blood
Fifty years ago in that 80, Ralph lost his right arm to a corn-picker
Fifty years earlier, over the fence William first kissed Bertha under the willow
Across the creek William was gored by his bull
Widow Bertha milked the cows morning and evening
Drove the one-horse plow
Chopped the wood
Carried the water
Baked the bread
Wept on her washboard
Grew old too young

Bertha’s great-grandson dismounts his air-conditioned tractor
Eats his lunch in the shadow of her stone fireplace
The skeletal remains of William and Bertha’s once-laughing cabin
A moment of inspiration
He sees himself and his wife and their almost-born child
Cozied on a couch
Watching a fire-tongued log on this ancient stone hearth
He pulls his carpenter pencil from his jeans
And a fertilizer invoice from his shirt pocket
He sketches and laughs
He loves his fields and sees his cabin
Little does he know their price

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Most Overused Word of 2015

Blah blah blahThe most overused word of 2015 is absolutely “absolutely.”

As you listen to interviews, you can hear it before the interviewee even says it: “Absolutely.” Anytime the answer could be “Yes,” “Sure,” “Certainly” or “Probably,” you will hear “Absolutely.” Unfortunately, now that we’ve pointed this out for you, its overuse may drive you insane.

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Farmer’s Market Stew

One word from a teen-age omnivore was all I needed for a perfect day. He downed a bowlful of lentil and fennel stew and said, “Fabulous!”

fennelThis morning I went to the Farmer’s Market to find great soup! It’s not wintery in Southern California, but the cool evenings beckon for stew. First, just-picked fennel with bulb, branches and leaves (If you’ve never experienced fennel, it’s sort of a combination of a turnip and celery that smells like anise.). Then, fresh basil, sage and potatoes. Added carrots, onion, and green onions. Stopped at the grocery store for lentils and sausage.

Simmered lentils and sausage and commenced veggie prep. Rinse, chop, repeat. Sautéed mushrooms and added to the pot. The house smelled heavenly.

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#1 Freudian Slip of 2014

Ben Affleck

“We are endowed by our forefathers with inalienable rights.”

Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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Our Compass Is Lost

Assassinating a national ruler is not comedy…except in postmodern America.

Interview-poster-seth-rogen-james-francoBased on an attempt to kill the North Korean head of state, The Interview is scheduled to open in October. It has this so-called hilarious premise: “Desperate to legitimize their careers, celebrity journalists land an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, which prompts the CIA to recruit the very unqualified pair as assassins” ( synopsis).

Try the shoe on the other foot. What would Americans say if a Russian director made a movie about assassinating President Barack Obama? “Unforgivable!” “Outrageous!” “Wrong!” “Shameful!”

Because storytellers shape our future, they need a compass. If America cannot recover her compass, expect increasingly dark stories and a similar future.

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After Your Dreams Have All Died

“After your dreams have all died…what are you?” That’s the final question in “New Low” from Middle Class Rut. The video will make you sad and then make you laugh with its dark comedy.

Songs like “New Low” are why blues songs can move us so deeply. They tell us the truth about life’s problems. Good art shows the truth as the artist understands it.

Sadly, the good news is not part of most blues songs. The good news is Jesus’ message that God loves you perfectly and has the power to transform your life. If you’re not on speaking terms with Jesus, tell him you would like to believe. Ask him to show up in your life.

Here are two shortcuts to finding God. Find a Bible, and start reading in the Gospel of John. Visit a church this Sunday. You are always welcome at Holy Cross in Ojai, California.

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