Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My 15 Minutes

Obviously, this blog is not my 15 minutes of fame. Oh, well.

With my luck, my fifteen minutes of fame will come from 2:45 to 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Insanity, Part 2

One big reason the U. S. policy toward Cuba is the way it is goes to the Cuban refugee population in southern Florida. This is the tail that wags the dog of U. S. Cuban policy.

See, both political parties want to court the Cuban vote in Florida. Well here's a news flash: It doesn't make any difference. First, they aren't that large a bloc, and second, they're going to vote Republican, anyway.

I don't see why they don't treat the Cuban vote the same way they treat the black vote: Both parties make noises trying to curry favor with them, while in reality, one party ignores them and the other takes them for granted. If we can do that with the blacks, why can't we do that with the Cubans? Then we could have a sensible Cuba policy that would work for the economic benefit of both countries.

Nah, makes too much sense.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On Insanity

I'm sure I've posted this before, but It's too late at night to look it up.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Cases in point: The U. S. policy toward Cuba. All the sanctions, embargoes, etc. have done is make Castro stronger, yet the response to his increased strength is to do more of what has made him stronger: More sanctions, more embargoes. Insane, especially compared to our policy toward China, which has an equivalent human rights record. Not just insane but hypocritical.

Now, Castro is ill, he just celebrated his 80th. birthday from his hospital room, and the U. S. government wants to wait to see what kind of government follows his death before they will decide to support it. Insane.

Next case in point: The "War on Drugs." As George Will is fond of pointing out this has been a colossal failure, since heroin for sale on the streets today is less expensive and purer than that sold in the sixties. Trying to stop it from coming in has absolutely not worked, yet the response is to keep trying to arrest drug dealers, except those with political connections. Insane.

Marijuana is the most prosecuted drug out there. It is God's gift. It has fewer side effects than alcohol, does not cause the belligerent behavior alcohol does, and does not leave a hangover the way alcohol does. Not to mention it is not addictive the way alcohol is to a lot of people.

Compare the violence (non-existent) at Woodstock compared to a redneck bar on Saturday night (are you kidding?)

In the 1970s I read a magazine article about the medical uses of marijuana: It helps glaucoma, helps people recover from the side effects of chemotherapy, etc. A co-worker of mine said the doctor prescribed marijuana to him to stimulate his appetite because of pancreatitis.

This substance is God-given rather than manufactured, and that is another reason it isn't legal. Reason one: Lawmakers and businessmen use alcohol rather than pot. Reason two: drug companies can't make a killing off controlling the manufacture and distribution of it.

So we keep on jailing potheads, taking them out of productive employment and running up our taxpayer-funded expenses jailing people who are no threat to anyone, while those who profit from trafficking in human misery go underpunished.

God will have a lot of sorting out to do on Judgment Day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pray for Peace in the Middle East

The cease-fire has taken in southern Lebanon. Let us pray it stays peaceful.

Everywhere you look there are condemnations of atrocities by Hezbollah and by Israel. Hezbollah targets civilian neighborhoods and Israel targets fleeing civilians. GAAH!

A friend of mine in seminary drew a picture of Abraham doubled over with grief at the violence his children were committing against each other. It has been over 35 years since then, and things have scarcely gotten better.

God, have grace on Your people, and may they start listening to You.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On Hypocrisy

There has been a series of letters to the editor in the Hickory Daily Record of late talking about a nasty practice going on among some so-called "Christians." Preachers, evangelists, or whatever they are going to restaurants for Sunday dinner (lunch, to those from the urban North) and instead of a tip leaving a card. The card reads: "Here is your tip. It is immoral to work on Sunday."

The letter writers complain that this is stealing from the waiters/waitresses, since they have to rely on tips for their income. The latest letter says most waiters/waitresses say they get at least one such card every Sunday.

Well, hello. If it is immoral to work on Sunday why in the HELL are you patronizing places that force people to work on Sunday? Is that not the height of hypocrisy? If you wouldn't patronize businesses, restaurants, or whatever on Sunday they would have no reason to stay open.

So you go out to Sunday dinner, enjoy a nice repast, then stiff the waiter/waitress with this hypocritical card. Does that make your conscience any clearer for making them work on Sunday then condemning them for doing what you have forced them to do?

Just don't come around me calling yourself a Christian.

I was going to stop there, but I have some more to say.

I don't like having to work on Sunday, especially Sunday morning. I like to go to Sunday School, then the worship service, eat a nice lunch (and tip the waitress--very seldom do I encounter a waiter on Sunday), then go home and spend an afternoon of Sabbath rest with my wife. I wish everyone had that attitude. I hate having to work on Sunday, but as long as you work for the People's Republic of Corporate America, especially in retail, you are forced to work on the day you consider the Sabbath (literally, the Sabbath is Saturday, but that's grist for another day's mill). They claim the public demands it and ignore how much money they lose before 1:00 p.m. every Sunday.

Well, I don't have to spend any money on Sunday if I choose not to. I do choose to eat out and leave a tip. Gas stations and hospitals have to stay open on Sundays. I understand that. There are a lot of other places that need to be open seven days a week, and if I worked at one of those places I would understand.

What I don't understand is that if we call ourselves a Christian nation, why are the stores so full on Sundays? Is this the only day of the week that people get off from their own work? I doubt it.

One last reminder of American hypocrisy: A couple of years ago the state of Virginia got rid of some of their old blue laws and in the process accidentally reactivated an old law that said employers had to give their employees the day off on whatever day the employee considered the Sabbath.

The legislature wasted no time in calling a special session to get rid of that law. After all, they can't let their lip service to Christianity get in the way of their true worship of Mammon.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On Iraq

I woke up this morning with a blog entry on my mind, but I can't remember it now.

Memory is the second thing to go. (What's the first? I don't remember.)

Anyway, there's something else I have been thinking about of late. Bush's invasion of Iraq reminds me of an old joke: A man is on a street corner searching. A cop comes up and asks him, "What are you looking for?"

"I lost my keys," he replies.

The cop says, "Where did you lose them?"

He says, "Inside the bar there," indicating the building behind him.

"Then why are you looking out here?" the cop asks.

"Because the light is better under this street light."

Bush invaded Iraq because it was too hard to keep the hunt for Osama up, so he went after an easier target, lying to say it was part of the "War on Terror."

The light was better there.

Monday, August 07, 2006

On Bigotry

I've been away a while. My wife had to stay home a week because of her tendinitis (yeah, I always thought it was spelled "tendonitis," too--logical reasoning, which is alien to the English language in its spelling), plus the grief over her cousin's murder. When Diane is home with me I don't go on-line except for a few specific things, and she is usually with me at the time.

Anyway, on with today's post.

I just read Leonard Pitts's column on Mel Gibson's bigotry. He made the point that we all have some bigotry at our core. I agree. It's human nature. We're afraid of the unfamiliar.

As I've grown up I've outgrown most of the bigotry I learned growing up in the segregated South. I have learned to think rationally about the fact that there is no scientific, genetic basis for the concept of "race." I understand that God created everyone in His image and He loves us all equally.

But there is a dark place at the center of my heart (my gut, I guess would be more accurate) that reacts when I see an interracial couple. I am learning to look past that, and I intentionally treat everyone the same.

But I also react negatively to bigoted statements by family members, co-workers, or members of the general public. Statements like that crawl on my skin and I want to wipe them out. So I'm growing. I give thanks to God for that.

I want to learn and grow more. I want to get rid of any trace of bigotry within my heart, soul, gut, mind--everywhere in my being. I ask God to help me get rid of all negative feelings I may harbor, secret even to myself, against my fellow human beings over superficial things beyond any human control.

God bless all His people, and God help me grow into His mindset.