First News of Dickinson and Belfield - September 2008
"Challenge of Peace"
When our country was founded, Benjamin Rush proposed that George Washington have a Department of Peace as part of his Cabinet. What would our country have been like if we had accepted the challenge of a Department of Peace that sat right next to our Department of War?
Would the cost of interpersonal violence in our country be costing us $300 billion a year?How many starving people would that feed? Or house?
Our youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrialized nations. In 2004, 5,292 young people ages 10 to 24 were murdered - an average of 15 each day. Would some of these be alive if we had accepted the challenge of forming a Department of Peace? Suicide in 2002 was the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. Would any of these people be alive today?
How much of the $62 billion spent for corrections by local, state and federal governments would we be spending on our schools instead? As far back as 1992, the cost of treating gunshot, cutting and stabbing wounds cost us $177 billion. Why do we choose to fight each other instead of loving each other?
Our children need a change.Statistics from 2003 state that seventeen percent of our high school girls have been abused physically and twelve percent have been abused sexually. Statistics from 2001 say that about one in three high school students say they have been in a physical fight in the past year, with one in eight receiving medical care for their injuries.
It is time for a change.
On February 5, 2007, H.R. 808 was introduced into Congress proposing the establishment of the Department of Peace and Non-violence. 65 Co-sponsors quickly signed on, with the first Republican Co-sponsor signing on this July. People are working together to make this change happen.
The Peace Alliance is a nonpartisan citizen action organization representing a growing constituency for peace. The current mission of the Peace Alliance is to work to pass legislation to create a United States Department of Peace. Their web site is: http://www.thepeacealliance.org/
This September 21st, they are organizing a call-in. According to their web site:
Peace comes only when people make a commitment to it. How better to love yourself, your neighbor, your enemy - and your God than to work for peace?
NOT the Pastor's Letter - August 2008
"I don't really feel like writing this month . . ."
I don't really feel like writing this month. Since it is an off-month for the newsletter, my job doesn't require one. I feel sad - but sometimes it is good to write through the sadness.
As you can tell from Spirit's Page, my dog Dewey is getting ready to leave me. We started some new arthritis treatment - and it is working, but Dewey has decided that enough is enough. He can't see and he can't hear. There is no job for him to do other than sit in my garden and fall on the plants, keeping the garden safe from the rabbits that have moved into the neighborhood. I am not sure how much of the lack of success of my garden thisyear is from the bad growing weather (almost everyone else has had a poor garden), the rabbit (there really IS one this year!) or Dewey falling on the plants. I almost had some beans - but then Dewey picked those plants upon which to fall.
Dewey stops eating when things aren't going right. This would be the fourth time he has done it. The first time was when he moved in with me. I spent over $100 fourteen years ago and still had not found something he would eat. He felt like a loser having been dropped off at the shelter by his previous owner. (I picked him up the next day, and he hadn't had time to greive.) Finally, members of my congrgation started bringing in what they fed their dogs - and he ate Science diet. Either he finally found something he liked, or he had finished greiving, I don't know which.
He had also found a job - as my body guard. He was serious about learning this job, even though it was quite what a Border Collie-Husky mix was bred to do. He did such a good job that he saved my life.
He picked up the habit of pointing things out that he didn't think were quite right. One day, my Dad moved my car without telling me - and Dewey came and got me. The timer went off to tell me dinner was down and I was too busy listening to music to hear it. Dewey came and got me.
One day, Dewey complained about the way that the cellar smelled. As heating time had just started, I called the man in charge of parsonage maintenance, who siad the furnace hadn't been cleaned in awhile. The repair man said that it had only been working at about 40% efficiency. Later I discovered that dogs can smell carbon monoxide. Dewey saved me from carbon monoxide poisoning. I owe him my life.
It will be very hard to say good bye.
First News of Dickinson and Belfield - July 2008
"Freedom WITH Responsibility
I sit here, looking forward into July 4th weekend, pondering freedom and all that it entails.I think, perhaps, that we have gotten complacent and take our freedom for granted - both as Christians and as Americans.
I remember in the last high school in which I substitute taught teachers who were afraid to take disciplinary action against students who needed it. They were afraid of the parental response - which was usually to take the teacher to task and NOT the student.
I remember stories told by my grandmother about rationing in World War II, and how all worked for the war effort .We ARE at war today - yet only our soldiers are paying for it with more than taxes.
I think about that first July Fourth and the Declaration of Independence, that document that ended:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Many of the 56 signers of that document had to pay an extremely heavy price for making that pledge. Five of them were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. The list goes on, and yet, what do we do?
We treat our freedom as an entitlement that we are given with nothing expected in return. We have forgotten the price paid by those who have lived before us. And as Christians, we have forgotten the price paid by Christ. Where is the integrity that resulted in the willing sacrifice made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence? It is doubtful that they would have acted differently had they known the price they would pay. Because if they knew that, they also would have known of the fruit of their efforts, the country that today we call the United States of America.
Neither would Christ have acted differently had he known how entitled we also feel for our Christian freedom.
For much of my own life I have felt entitled to these freedoms. It wasn't until I substituted in that high school that I really thought long and hard about what freedom costs. Those parents who felt that their students deserved schooling without any consequences for poor behavior were undermining the foundation of our freedom as Americans. Freedom without responsibility cannot long exist. Freedom in a country cannot exist without the integrity of its citizens. For our country to continue strongly into the future we need to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
And as Christians, we have a greater challenge, for we are challenged and called to love those who hate us. I have read on the internet that Congress is considering establishing a new Cabinet position - a Department of Peace and Reconciliation. The degree to which partisan politics has divided us threatens us as a nation.We need to remember our unity. For a Christian this unity comes from participation in the Body of Christ. As stated in 1 Corinthians 12 - "the eye cannot say to the hand 'I have no need of you'" - nor can Republicans say to Democrats "I have no need of you" - or the other way around. Independents are needed as well!
Freedom need responsibility to be accepted in order to flourish. May we stop taking our freedom for granted.
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