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« November 2011 | Main | January 2012 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » December 2011

By Ken Poland on December 30, 2011

Whether you believe in the Biblical creation story, as absolutely literal in time and sequence, or the theory of evolution, which has many varied time lines and sequences, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Recorded history indicates man was entirely at the mercy of nature, until he began developing tools and learning to alter his environment. Evidence clearly shows that the 'human species' has been far superior to the other species of life in the ability to advance. History also records evidence of man making terrible mistakes along the way. Environmental destruction of natural plant and animal life has made some areas that once were lush and flourishing into desolate deserts and wasteland. Conflict within families, between tribes or communities, and nations has resulted in annihilation or enslavement of people.

We have a significant number of people who, seemingly today, believe that man can not alter his environment. Are they ignoring evidence to the contrary? Man was very limited in his ability, in pre-historic time, to make any big impacts beyond his local environs. But, as he began building on previous discoveries and man made changes and developed new and more powerful tools, he was able to progress further and faster.

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By Angelo Lopez on December 27, 2011

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By Angelo Lopez on December 24, 2011

The Christmas season has always been a time to be with family members and close friends for me. This year especially, it's a time to rest and recover from a lingering cold. It's also a time for me to reflect and think of the birth of Jesus and to think about this Christian church that I've called my home for all of my life. I first became passionate about my faith when I was fourteen years old, when I was taking my confirmation classes in a Roman Catholic church. I would read books and articles about Vatican II, St. Francis and an itinerant Jewish preacher named Jesus who lived two thousand years ago and preached a message of loving God and loving our neighbors. Since that time, I've attended several churches from several different denominations and have had wonderful experiences and some painful conflicts. These various experiences have given me a love/hate relationship with Christianity, as I've strugged with the church's various contradictions, as well as my own personal struggles and doubts about God. Yet I still feel it is important to go to church and I still consider myself a Christian.

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By Ken Poland on December 22, 2011

Is there no answer to the inequities of life? Is it acceptable to just say, ‘That’s life, get tough and deal with it’? Does ‘culture’ have any bearing on our attitude? If so, what is our culture?

I just read an account of Pvt. Danny Chen’s experience and how he chose to end his frustration and the pain of living. Some of the comments following that account were quite alarming and some were quite encouraging. We don’t know the full story, but my years of living tell me that he was not alone in his inability to survive the atrocities that man is prone to inflict on his fellowman. Can anyone of us, in good conscience, declare that he, Pvt. Chen, alone was responsible for the events that led up to his decision to end his life like he did?

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By Ken Poland on December 20, 2011

Only nineteen posts from seven authors over the past couple months isn’t very good or impressive. With fifty some registered authors, we are not a very prolific group of writers. Do we not have any social, religious, or political issues, any more?

National election is less than twelve months away. The economy, though improved some, is still a major concern for many. Political unrest around the world is an open area for discussion. We all have negative views on somethings and we should all have some positive views on something. How about sharing them?

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By Ken Poland on December 17, 2011

Tis the season! What’s the season? It’s the season that motivates all the arguments about proper salutations. It’s the season that merchants hope to make up for the slow economy of the past seasons and years. It’s the season that some hope to reclaim their dominance in setting agendas and controlling the content of programs to celebrate the season. It’s the season that mental and social professionals tell us more people suffer depression than at any other time in the year. (How sad that is!!!) All the bitter battles over whether it’s ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holiday’, a ‘Christmas Tree’ or a ‘Holiday Tree’, whether any particular group has absolute ownership of a particular day, whether we’ll sing my choice of songs or your choice of songs, or all the other battles that rage on don’t benefit any of us.

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By Darrell Hamlin on December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens died Thursday from complications related to whiskey and cigarettes.

I followed the progression of his mortal illness in the same way I followed his many arguments and criticisms: whenever I came across something he wrote, I read it. In the last year, almost everything I read by Hitchens was about his gruesome, losing battle with throat cancer. With his death approaching, Hitchens was aware that many people were not reading the articles as much as they were just slowing down to get a glimpse of something horrible trapped in highway wreckage. He had enraged quite a few by writing about religion the way he did. If Hitchens was not going to recant on his deathbed to their satisfaction, at least they could assure themselves he was already beginning to writhe in hell.

In those last encounters with his work, I sensed that Hitchens was writing to those who understood him to be, at least on one level, a journalist covering the contemporary experience of death. His final reporting was filed from a combat zone near oblivion, and the deadline was unrelenting.

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By Angelo Lopez on December 12, 2011

In the past couple of weeks, I've been following the local Occupy Wall Street movements that have sprouted up in the area. About fifty miles to the north, Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland have been causing big news with their clashes with the police and their large scale protests. I've been participating with protests closer to home, donating food to the Occupy San Jose encampment, and joining rallies in Occupy Palo Alto and Occupy Mountain View. I've been a fervent follower of the Occupy Wall Street protests because I share their fears about the growing economic inequalities in this country and agree with their criticisms of the financial institutions. As the holiday season gets underway, a perenniel Christmas chestnut is playing across the nation's playhouses and schools and it shares the same criticisms of economic injustice as the Occupy Wall Street protests. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" shares with the Occupy Wall Street protests an indignation of economic injustice and asks us to help relieve the plight of the victims of our economic system.

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By Diane Wahto on December 10, 2011

The Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, issue of the Wichita Eagle carried a small news item about a few New York cops who, working overtime, earned close to two and half million dollars a year. My husband, who once taught public school as I did most of my working life expressed outrage that these cops would earn that much money guarding bridges, The Port Authority, tunnels, and other New York sites.

My response to him was that I think public servants should be paid at least as well as stock brokers and other financial advisers, most of whom spend their work days playing with other people’s money. I have nothing against people who go into that profession. Before my 401k went down the drain, right after George W. Bush took office, I sent my money to a financial adviser who did well for me and who was an extremely nice person. Why, though, are stock brokers so much more valuable to our social welfare than the public servants who keep our streets safe or teach our children?

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By Bob Hooper on December 6, 2011

A man said to the Universe, "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the Universe, "the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." -- Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

A reader asked me to write about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now postponed until 2013.

The 36-inch diameter pipe would cover 329 miles in Canada, cross the border at Montana, angle through South Dakota and Nebraska (with a branch to Illinois). Photo shows truck hauling 36-Inch pipe to build Keystone-Cushing Pipeline south-east of Peabody, Kansas, 2010 (from WIkipedia).

Then it would slice across the eastern third of Kansas through Oklahoma to Texas -- over 2,100 miles in all. The estimated 1.1 million barrels daily of synthetic crude oil from Alberta tar sands would equate to 5 pct. of present U.S. oil consumption, and 9 pct. of our present imports.

Estimates of new jobs vary wildly. Promoters say 250,000. Skeptics say as few as 4,000--most temporary. The environmental degradation to Canada would be (and already is) dramatic. Leaks are a constant worry. If 97 percent of climate scientists have it right, continued fossil fuel burning is a bigger threat. Those who've read my columns know I'm convinced scientists are correct.

But there's an underlying and larger issue: the deception of free market capitalism. It isn't free. It's cracked, and the crack is growing.

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By Ken Poland on December 3, 2011

Man is religious by his very nature. In modern history (200 AD to the present) the Western Hemisphere has been dominated by Christianity, as the most popular religion. That doesn’t say that the majority of mankind claimed Christianity as their spiritual guide. It only says, Christians were the dominating public leaders. That doesn’t mean that Christianity was universal in doctrine and theology. The world outside of the Western Hemisphere, was not void of religion. Historical evidence, from the first evidence of there being a difference in mankind and the animal world, shows that mankind in all societies, civilized or uncivilized, had religious rituals and practices. The ancestors of Abraham (Israelites or Jews) and followers of Christ (Christians) labeled any religions other than their own as pagan.

Religion has been the motivating force for most of mankind’s confrontations. Many of our modern history wars were between Christian factions. The dominance of Roman Catholicism was responsible for much persecution of dissidents, especially in the conquest of the New World. Adolph Hitler, the madman who engineered the outbreak of World War II, claimed Christianity as his chosen religion. Albeit, his idea or brand of Christianity didn’t fit the profile of most Christians. He hated anyone that appeared to have any identity with Jewish ancestry. This was based on his blaming the Jews for Christ’s crucifixion and the Jews apparent expertise in acquiring wealth. He indicated that his ‘pure’ German race, with their fair complexion, were the chosen people of God. Hmmm. Do we have anyone today that thinks the U.S. is God’s chosen?

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