Broken – think upon the 7 Trials of Christ

Broken. The word “broken” can bring up powerful emotions or simple frustration. Context means everything. This morning Fr. Dave1 made repetitive use of “broken” during the Palm Sunday Liturgy of the Palms. Of course, the reference was to the body of Jesus, broken on the cross. Fr. Dave’s sermon was powerful on this powerful day and I am drawn to think on current circumstances.

We too are broken. America, along with much of the world, has lost its moral compass. I’ll say nothing more for fear of devolving into a political diatribe which is not the purpose today. But because of our brokenness, this Holy Week spurs me to repeat what I have done a few times during this time of year — to re-publish The Seven Trials of Christ. What better way to think about this brokenness but to study Jesus’ sacrifice in a modern, judicial context. (Note that some poetic license is taken by some fictional accounts). As noted in footnote [1], this is a work that was begun by my father, Guilford L. Jones, Jr. — a fantastic lawyer from Big Spring who often delivered this as a speech, powerfully. I have done some modifications and additions, of which I hope “Big Guil”2 would approve. Continue reading “Broken – think upon the 7 Trials of Christ”

  1. Rev. David Sugeno, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church of Marble Falls
  2. Dad only partially abbreviated our shared given name.

Giving thanks for America, and its exceptional people

What are you giving thanks for today? Family and friends, certainly.  Our communities and churches. Our leaders. For health if we have it, or for the past years when we did.

For me, the appropriate giving of thanks is for America, for American Exceptionalism.  And in that exceptionalism it must be recognized that it is its people and its Judeo-Christian roots from which this exceptional country has risen. Thus I give thanks for growing up in such a country, surrounded by the people and the ethical structures which have made America exceptional — unique in the history of the world — for such is, fundamentally, the source of all else for which we traditionally give thanks.  Is all of that in danger? Continue reading “Giving thanks for America, and its exceptional people”

Daniel Henninger: Capitalism Saved the Miners

A couple of days ago I pondered whether the main street media would cover the role of the U.S. in assisting the rescue. They did cover it, even giving some mention of the role of faith and prayer. Kudos for that. President Obama even acknowledged the role of American enterprise (in fact it was a multi-national business effort). Good for him in that. But will that faint praise alter the political rhetoric against capitalism? I bristle at the forces that would move America away from capitalism … the business of America IS business and it has done wonders for all of mankind in every corner of the world. Are there faults where change is needed? Of course, as with every endeavor. But really now …. Consider this fine article:

Amid the boundless human joy of the miners’ liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:

“The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.”

Uh, yeah. That’s a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that’s right. Ask the miners.

via Daniel Henninger: Capitalism Saved the Miners – WSJ.com.

Henninger goes on to make the case quite handsomely. Read it. He describes in great detail how the profit motive is fundamental to the successes that were brought to bear in the accomplished rescue. The rescue was not a miracle — it was entrepreneurship at its finest that put the tools and technology in place.

But that capability is in ever-increasing danger, as Henninger capsulizes so succinctly:

The U.S. has a government led by a mindset obsessed with 250K-a-year “millionaires” and given to mocking “our blind faith in the market.” In a fast-moving world filled with nations intent on catching up with or passing us, this policy path is a waste of time.

America is a great country that has always been full of hope and change. We don’t need a bunch of ivory-tower professors to try to change fundamental American principles.

In fairness, there are criticisms of the business world that can be made in connection with the Chilean mine accident, as discussed in the Huffington Post article linked below. But a balanced view taken across the entire landscape and over the entire history of America, can fairly yield a conclusion no less than that free enterprise, especially within a constitutional republic, has advanced the human condition like no other system has done — or will do.

Sit down, shut up, and be an American

This is the text of a speech used at the Highland Lakes Toastmasters recently. I may put up the audio later, but in the meanwhile I hope you enjoy the text version.  I’ll look forward to the controversy which I’m sure it will provoke! This text is not original although I modified it somewhat to meet my contextual need — source noted at the end — but I concur with the sentiments and believe that the artificial divisions among us that are fostered and perpetuated by the so-called “political correctness” infecting this country are indeed affecting our individual freedoms. Our freedom is affected is because that “PC” process erodes both our individuality and our ability to be one nation.

(Imagine this is delivered by a hypothetical leader of a hypothetical community and school system)

I am your new leader and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to lead people, especially when it includes young people.

I want to inform you of some new changes coming to our community and schools. These changes are because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated our communities, and our public education in particular, throughout America have worked against us, against our citizens, students, teachers, and our country.

First, we will no longer honor race or ethnicity.  I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white.  I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one we will recognize, is your individual identity:  your character, your industry and scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity our community and schools will care about is American.

This is an American community, with American public schools, and our American public schools were created to make better Americans through education.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through this community or its schools, you will have to go elsewhere. As of right now we are ending all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values – e pluribus unum, “from many, one.”  And we will be guided by America’s values. Not European, nor Asian, nor Mexican.  American.

This includes all community organizations and after-school clubs. We will not authorize organizations that divide people  based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your organizations will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties.

Those divisions just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. If the only organizations and activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you speak and read English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us here. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. Our young people will gain excellent English language skills and be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market.  We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you are in school and want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything our schools do will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that students and teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code in our schools.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere in public, or on our school’s property — whether at the mall, in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.

It is my intent that by the time our young people leave our school, they will be among the young Americans to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs in school. In our school as in life, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that in high school there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting our school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any young person graduates our schools and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky — to be alive and to be an American.

Now until students learn the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country, the adults will hand them out to you.

So don’t sit down. I didn’t mean that when I said it up front and I don’t mean that now.

This is America.

STAND UP, SPEAK UP, and BE …

an American!

Source: A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give. At the outset of his column, Prager offers this (with which I totally agree):

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

via The Dennis Prager Show (with modifications). (Townhall.com Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.  And COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM)

Tea Party Member Stuns Crowd

I previously posted this directly onto Facebook, but want to preserve and further share this marvelous moment. This former marine belts out the 2nd verse of “The Star Spangled Banner” — which I frankly never had heard. (lyrics below) It’s a stirring verse and he really belts it out. Notice the crowd when you view the video — it takes them a bit to realize the origin of the song, and to stand and salute.

This marine obviously stood up for something — America — and still does. It seems to me that a lot of the trouble with some folks today is that they’ve never stood up for something important, maybe not even for themselves. Many people can be proud of their country, their religious beliefs, or their favorite team without having been in the military or the clergy, never having played pro football, but they can still become “invested” in that endeavor and its tenets.

Of course, most who DO step up into something important will stand up for that entity or activity for a lifetime.

But conversely, if you have an “America hater” you almost always have a person who never stood as a “servant citizen” — military or otherwise.

Now listen to someone who has stood up, and now stands out.

OR here for an alternative site.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!