No Compromise — No Virtue

Somehow our culture has decided that “compromise” is a dirty word. Advertisers, especially for automobile companies, since at least the mid-80s. They do it out of crass greed, not caring in the slightest that they are teaching devastating values that are doing extremely serious damage to America.

Imagine this scene: The very same House and Senate we have now are suddenly zipped back to 1787 and told to create a Constitution which would define the new nation to be called the United States of America. The result would be that there would be no Constitution and no nation.

Our Constitution is the result of the combined efforts of some of the finest minds in America at the time. And what was the brilliant key to their success? Compromise! Had they lacked the wise ability to compromise, they could have created nothing.

Compromise is the ability to accept the less-than-perfect for yourself or your party so that decisions can be made for the of the greater whole, the nation.

Today’s “leaders” lack wisdom, insight, understanding, and common sense. The reason they cannot run a government is that they are entirely clueless about how crucial, how central compromise is in the running of country. They are simply too immature.

Next election, vote for grown-ups. You’ll be able to recognize them. They’ll be the ones about 30 years younger than to children in Washington today.

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The Mystery of Music

My first encounter with serious music came from the little radio station in my home town. It was Christmas season, 1954. Amid Bing Crosby and Perry Como came the incredibly dynamic sound of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Now, 63 years later, I am more entranced and enriched by music than ever.

And I am still baffled by a few questions. Why does organized sound seem to form a coherent and meaningful whole in our brains and heart? How is it that Barber’s Agnus Dei can reach so immediately behind all my defenses and touch me with such wonderful gentleness? What makes a hymn to Mary, such as Gomez’ Ave Maria, such a song of worship and praise to God in my soul?

And I am completely unable to imagine how a Mozart can sit at a piano and play a beautiful piano sonata that didn’t even exist until he started playing? How can Handel create the Messiah — with that overwhelmingly magnificent Halleluia Chorus — in just a few weeks? How can a Beethoven work and work and work on scribbling a few notes on a page and create sounds no one had ever heard before, sounds which still enthrall us two centuries later?

How can these things be? What mysterious gift have these people that they can listen to and learn from the angels singing in the heavens?

For 55 years I have been seeking, with limited success, to be a man of faith and love. As I now come to what are my final days, I have been pleasantly surprised that death is no enemy, dying is no threat. It is reassuring that, in a time which could be considered high stress, I have been at peace with and even excited about my future.

Yet, to my embarrassment, I have on sever occasions faced bouts of anxiety. They are times which I look at my bookshelves or put on one of my favorite CDs. Suddenly I find myself worried about losing these incredible treasures. My books are my invaluable weapons against that dread enemy, ignorance. My music keeps me from being lost somewhere in the chaos of the insane complexity of my own psyche and soul.

Surely the Lord won’t confiscate these treasures at the gates of heaven? I try to reassure myself that, even if he does, he will have even greater music awaiting me, even better books (and I’ll be a better reader!)

So here I sit at my beloved desk, surrounded by books and music, with a Bonhoeffer manuscript awaiting the final reading before being sent off to the publisher, and lots of cards from long-time friends reassuring me I made a difference in their lives. In every little nook and cranny on this desk lies a storehouse of gratitude. Though seldom being sure of it, now I see clearly that all my life I have been loved by the Lord of the Universe, the Lord whom I am just now learning to call Daddy.

What overwhelming miracles!!!

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Sending Away the Salvadoreans

I am so very deeply ashamed of our president and his immeasurably tiny soul. Through his utter heartlessness, his inability to grasp any but the simplest form of any problem, and his determination to cut every issue down to the miniature size of his own psyche, he is trying hard to make America as shameful, selfish, and self-centered as he is himself.

Once we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. No more. Trump can’t grasp such lofty ideals. Once we were “We the People.” No more. Neither Trump nor any Republicans in Washington give a wooden nickel for the will of the people.  Once we could speak — and build a whole nation — on, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” No more. Washington now respects the rights only of a small portion of the populace, the wealthy. Clean the swamp? What hogwash.

Our Senators and Representatives have become a pack of pitiful sycophants, humiliating themselves in their rush to heap ridiculous praise on Trump just to salve his childish ego. Trump will see to it that before long they will all have a knife in their back. That’s his way: use people until you’re done with them, then destroy them. And he is proud of himself. How disgusting!

So, he wants to do away with all the bad apples among the foreigners in our midst. Despite the will of the people, despite all his insistence that he is only getting rid of problem folk, the truth is seen not in his words (He is quite thoroughly addicted to lying) but in his actions, which can only be described as brutally racist.

Yes, I know I’m becoming more and more raw in my condemnations of Trump. Death has a way of making subtlety an useless waste of time.

 

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Oprah?

Oprah for president? A modest estimate, in my view, is that she is ten times more qualified than Trump ever will be. He has no qualifications and no capacity for learning.

She, on the other hand, has had wide experience in leading a team not totally dependent on her every whim and she had long shown a compassion for people that Trump cannot even imagine.

But she is an amateur.

Imagine NASA picking non-pilots for astronauts. Oh, they do! But those future astronauts are given extremely rigorous, intensive, and extensive training over a period of years.

Who would train Oprah? Top of the list, I fear, would be PR people long experienced in creating illusions. Next would be the ruthless underbelly of the political world, training her in Machiavellian deceits. After that, little matters.

Has America not learned anything from this gruesome experience with Trump? The job is far too big and far too important to turn it over to untrained amateurs, no matter how lovable they are.

Amateurs need not apply.

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America Leads in the Attack against Western Values

Truth is under extreme attack. For all its potential good, the Internet seems to be the major tools used to combat truth. And, sadly, the president of the US is one of the most audacious purveyors of fake news.

Democracy is under attack, with the American president actively seeking to dismantle the US government and its many forms of checks and balances designed to limit the powers of any one person. He is even seeking — and the Senate is cooperating — to destroy the value of the judicial branch of the government by appointing judges who are utterly incompetent but have one thing in common: loyalty to our dictator.

America is under attack as the government seeks to free crooks from responsibility if they are rich.  And our president actively seeks to reduce America to the size of his own impoverished soul, marked by pettiness and petulance, selfishness and self-centeredness. He wants to get the US out of its trade agreements, not because of any sort of “foreign policy,” but because, like all petty manipulators, he finds it easier to manipulate one person or country at a time than many all at once.

As my regular reader know, cancer is winning in its attack on my body. I am sorry to say that, given the slowness of Washington even under the best of circumstances, it is likely I will be gone before Trump and the republicans receive their well-deserved ejection from Washington. I find that a very sad thought.

It is going to take decades for America to recover from the severe damage Trump has already done to the US but that recovery will come. We will awaken again to these magnificent words:

“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, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. .  .”

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Absolute Power? In a Democracy?

Donald Trump says he has absolute power to do whatever he wants with the Department of Justice. Such incredibly chilling words! I am horrified to live in what was once the world’s best example of democracy but that now tolerates a petty dictator in office.

rarely does a day go by — and I do mean that literally — when he does not prove that he has no appreciation for democracy. In fact, he has no comprehension of what a democracy is.

They excused Hitler when he did one or two things right. They overlooked the obvious fact that he was evil. As one German put it to a friend of mine, “Crime was down and jobs could be found again. How could we not like Hitler?”

Christians look Trump i the eye and do not perceive the spirit of the AntiChrist? Unbelievable. Politicians look at his utter incompetence and rush to outdo one another in heaping ridiculous praise on him. Economists try to find some good possibilities i his economic moves.

Meanwhile the great majority of Americans, that large percentage who do recognize him, are simply ignored from the White House. Trump can look at his 35% approval rating and declare everybody likes him. His severe narcissism blinds him to all truth and reality.

I always tended to ignore him when he claims everybody agrees with him. Now I realize that everybody whom he can hear agrees with him. He simply is incapable of hearing anyone else.

And having heard several iterations of his “absolute power” idea, I’ve been wondering where he gets such ideas. Yes, I know, he has always been a petty tyrant but somehow he is being reinforced in these inclinations.

Who is responsible for the terrible and disgusting legal and political advice he seems to be getting? Well, Bannon would have been the first to come to mind but he is now gone. And my mind goes back a few months to a few interviews with Steve Miller, a behind-the-scenes adviser. Wanna’ feel a real chill in your spine? Watch this.

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I Am Ashamed of America

These are the words of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at the UN in response to a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s plan to move the American embassy to Jerusalem (an utterly pointless and incredibly ill-timed move).

Nikki Haley Dec 21, 2017 at the UN

The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected.

In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. We have an obligation to demand more for our investment.

The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are once again called upon to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit. But this vote will make a difference on how Americans view the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.

And this vote will be remembered.

How many years or decades will it take to recover some sense of dignity after this one inexcusably childish and ignorant pettiness? Even if Trump had done nothing other than have Haley give such a speech, this alone has done immeasurable damage.

but of course there is much, much more. Trump, who believes himself to be the center of the universe, is working very hard to reduce America to the size of his own heart. And that is so tiny I cannot even see traces of it in him.

Each day, I am more and more ashamed to be an American.

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