Orthodoxy of the left lost them the presidency

About two years ago, I wrote a rather strong criticism of president Obama, similar to the one I wrote sixteen years ago about Clinton. No one who knows me very well will question me about my leftist politics, but I am not an ideologue. When I was in seminary, I despised orthodoxy, which I viewed as an excuse to quit thinking. To be orthodox, whether in politics or in religion, all one needs to do is to read, memorize, and believe. To be a thoughtful person of character and principle a person needs to be open and flexible to facts and nuance and be willing to change one’s mind. In that criticism of Obama, I was hoping and expecting that he would not be an orthodox politician, but rather one who would actually stretch the boundaries of the Democratic party and would actually do something, as opposed to saying the right things. Now, after eight vanilla years of doing virtually nothing insightful or creative for minorities and immigration, he is leaving office with little more to show for his efforts than grey hair and an Affordable Health Care Act that will soon be taken apart.
Now the point! One of my old liberal friends of almost 30 years, castigated me for criticizing Obama and he promptly told me that he would have nothing to do with me and has not communicated with me since that time. This liberal purity litmus test is comparable to purity tests of white racism, black is beautiful, evangelical Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and other rigid orthodoxies. Either you embrace the entire pie or you cannot be a part of the upper crust.
Ironically, it was these orthodox, lock step liberals, who think that their ideology has to be fully embraced without deviance, who completely missed the Donald Trump phenomenon. As recently as yesterday, NPR was trying to pigeon hole President Trump, by arguing over Trump’s lack of ideological purity. Trump demonstrated a new kind of flexibility on issues to the consternation of the pundits. Because he changes his mind, they are interpreting all of these adjustments as lies. Opinions and observations are not lies. Flexibility scares the orthodox to death. Their fear is that if you believe one thing today, you might believe a contradictory thing tomorrow. If you do that, you can’t be trusted. Really? Perhaps if you lived on the dark side of the moon where nothing changes, you could be orthodox. This world is much to complicated with ebb and flow, flotsam and jetsam, give and take, fires and floods, feasts and famines, greed and selfishness, etc. to be orthodox.
I have been deeply saddened by the loss of my friend, as we shared many good times. Orthodoxy is far more dangerous to a dynamic society than is flexibility and reasonable change. I am now convinced that one of the reasons that Hillary lost was because of her efforts to be orthodox within the Democratic party, adhering to all of the time worn blathering. The Democratic party has to redesign itself around real world issues, with innovative thought and action, focused on building an open society that enables everyone to have a chance to succeed in their hopes, dreams, and diligent efforts. The progressives have focused too long on orthodox issues and haven’t done what the country has needed, and the Democratic party should be seriously frightened that Trump just might do what Democrats have promised and failed to deliver.

What kind of a person hopes a president will fail?

A person wrote on my Facebook page that I “someone was spreading vitriol and I certainly hope it isn’t me. There is not an ounce of vitriol in anything that I have written. He mentioned a couple of facts, stating that facts are stubborn things and I agree.  That is why I love using them. The truth isn’t afraid of facts. But often facts are afraid of truth, as truth is the final arbiter. Just because someone has all of the facts on his side, he may decidedly be on the wrong side. As an old college debater, I saw many debates lost when the losers attempted to bury the truth in facts. But let’s just play with one of your facts. For example, “Obama’s high approval rating at the end of his presidency.” Hillary promised to continue Obama’s policies if she were elected. Obama, as a person and as a president was very popular, but his politics were tired, ineffective, and damaging to the country. His policies had become elitist, which, ironically was the indictment of the Democrats toward the Republicans. Truth be told, the Democrats had become the elitists. One can pile up all of the facts, which most often are sterile and are available for the use of everyone, irrespective of the side of the argument they may be on. You dance around the realities while pretending that the facts all align themselves on the side of your point of view. But with the two or three facts you reference, they prove nothing. They are empty facts that did nothing to influence the outcome of the election. Pile up your sacred facts, but Hillary lost the election, and the facts that you cite, didn’t help her one wit. I happen to be a progressive that has to look right to see Wellstone or Sanders. I find their politics too conservative. But I am also a pragmatist. Trump is the elected president. He said a lot of things that gave me serious pause, but he is now the president. Only the small minded politicos are willing to go after Trump even before he has taken his oath of office. Who are these bastards who would rather see a president whose they dislike, fail rather than succeed? That is a political terrorist, to mind. Hip Hip Hooray. Cheer and hope that the president elect will fail. What kind of a disgusting American would do that. Only a terrorist.

Trump deserves a little time to prove he can be president!

I’m not sure about my optimism regarding Trump as president, but I am prepared to give him enough rope to hang his entire administration. If he proves that he is going to make changes on immigration, securing borders, and limiting immigration based on racism or on pure religious ideology, then progressives across the country are going to rise up in very public opposition. If, on the other hand, Trump creates programs that are fair, based on the law of the land, that requires proper vetting, fulfills proper quotas, and restricts free entry into the United States, prevents financial support, eliminates access to driver’s licenses and legal ID,s, and makes it clear to the world that if you enter the United States illegally, whether you have children or not, you will be returned to your homeland and your access to future citizenship will be denied, then all reasonable people will support his efforts. America has been brainwashed with the notion of compassion for everyone who manages to make it over the border alive. This attitude makes a mockery out of national sovereignty. America can not open its borders to citizens of every country that experiences political or military turmoil. Where America has been guilty of causing a war and where the results of that war spill into a neighboring country, we may have reason to feel guilty and allow some of those citizens into the US. But just because some lunatic dictator takes over a country and the economy collapses, is no reason to open the doors of America to citizens of that country. Let them stay in their country and fix their problems. Even though we have a nice little slogan on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, we have not been taking the lame, the halt, and the blind. We have been stealing the intelligent, the well educated, and the skilled, while leaving the impoverished to flounder in their home countries. Many of America’s policies have caused the perpetuation of resource rich countries to remain in poverty. It is time for America to perpetuate peace, assist third world countries to develop their economies, and to mind out own business, recognizing that democracies may not be the best form of government for every country. In proof of the reasons for our assisting the perpetuation of poverty in third world countries, look at this proof. Walk down the aisles of grocery stores and look at the costs of products we get from third world countries. A banana that comes to America from 2,000 miles away costs $.38 per pound. An apple that comes from two miles away costs $2.85 a pound. The workers who cut the banana and load them make a few cents an hour. We buy coffee for $10.00 a pound, when it takes a laborer who picks each bean by hand, 15 minutes to pick a pound of coffee. That laborer makes less than $1.00 an hour. Coffee in America, if laborers received fair payment for their work, should be $25.00 a pound. And of course, we poor Americans would scream at this terrible inflation. We want “cheer” no matter what the consequences for those who toil in unfair conditions. If Trump addresses these issues, as he has said he will, and if he does it with fairness, even handedness, and in consort with the democrats, he could have a successful presidency.

The library is dead. We need a new name for the public digital environment.

Call them what you would, but they are evolving away from the sentimental notion of libraries to a completely new paradigm. Webster’s dictionary has three definitions of a “library”: a place where books, magazines, and other materials (such as videos and musical recordings) are available for people to use or borrow
: a room in a person’s house where books are kept
: a collection of similar things (such as books or recordings). I have about three thousand books in my basement in boxes that haven’t been opened in ten years. Is that a library? Recently, even the Vatican has begun converting its millions of documents to digital, so the entire world will have access to that vast collection without traveling to Rome. The Vatican is not going to dispose of those ancient texts, but very few have a “library card” giving them access. As I described earlier, what was formerly a library is now a facility with vast digital tools that enable citizens who lack personal access to Internet tools to use public tools. What we need is a completely new name for these facilities, but to call them libraries when they have eclipsed that old arcane notion of a place of books, magazines, and recordings. The library is dead. Long live the future of instant access to all that humanity knows and is learning. “Lenge leve jakten på kunnskap og visdom.” Long live the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

The death of the library as we know it

Eight years ago, I delivered a presentation to the state Librarian’s Association in Kansas. The title of my presentation was “The Death of the American Library as we know it.” The first point of my presentation was “The Myth of the Media Center”. Remember, this was eight years ago, when the power of the Internet was not nearly what it is today. When information is ubiquitous, there is no center to media. We can now get to information from any place at any time. The second point was “The changing role of the Librarian”. When I was a child, the librarian kept the books all in nice order and the card file carefully alphabetized. The library visitor would walk the aisles of the library, and pick out a book, and bring it to the librarians desk. When a book was checked out, your name was placed on the card and the card was carefully filed. Magazines and newspapers could not be checked out because they were too fragile and a good reader could flip through it in minutes. At that time, the “Librarians” were already, no longer managers of printed media, but were becoming “gurus” who would teach visitors how to navigate through infinite information that existed in digital in text, audio, graphics, video, and imbedded data. For the first time in the history of information, the seeker of knowledge had to be skilled in all of the essential intellectual skills of real research. The third point was “The demise of printed material”. Certainly the book has not gone away, but newspapers and magazines are dying a painful death. Digital books are taking a rapidly growing share of the market. So where does the library expect to exist? The state of Vermont has just eliminated their libraries from the state budget if they do not realign themselves with the new vision for information…and every school has eliminated the libraries as they have become defined as storage facilities. The space that used to be libraries have been divided into “presentation rooms”, “digital research centers”, etc, and books that were viewed as discipline specific, have been distributed out to the appropriate classrooms. All print magazines have been cancelled and all former subscriptions are now available on line. Former media center employees are now teaching in the research centers, working with speech teachers developing digital presentations and developing digital class projects. There are those sentimental souls who want to believe that the library is alive and well. You will continue to find “libraries” in rural areas until those areas receive full blown access to the Internet. You will find them in third world countries. You will also find them in little houses along rural roads where people share, with their neighbors, the last books they have read. But the “Library” as we have known it and loved it…is as dead as buggies and buggy whips.

The CIA Logo and its outdated anachronistic name

Have you ever noticed how pathetically goofy and cartoonish is the CIA logo in their so-called “intelligence building”? What inattentive manager, who had responsibility for signing off on this mockery of the American symbol, allowed it to be carved in stone for all who enter the CIA to witness. After all of the human abuse and arrogant mistakes of the CIA, we shouldn’t be surprised at the nature of this carving. I’m surprised that it wasn’t more like a cartoon of Daffy Duck. On second thought, having such a laughable image in the entry way of the CIA, is descriptively appropriate.

And even the name “Central Intelligence” is an anachronism. Just like the phrase “Media Center”. There is no longer a center of media or information. Information and media are ubiquitous. When we can get to any information from virtually any place on the planet, where is the center of information? The notion of “Central Intelligence” predates the digital age. When this “Keystone Cops” detectives organization gets around to updating its outdated name, it should also sand down that silly duck with a pointed beak and numb-sculled look on its face, and come up with a sophisticated and respectable logo. The poor creature looks like it just recovered from being waterboarded.


The Norwegian Viking Ship the Draken Harald Harfagre is detained

Talk about a disgusting state of affairs. The world’s largest modern Viking ship, which left Norway in April, and has sailed across the Atlantic, is now told it needs a “pilot” from the U.S. Coast Guard, at the tune of $400.00/hour to sail to Duluth. It took months of training to learn how to sail this magnificent ship, and some young whipper snapper who knows how to sale power boats, is going to pilot this magnificent ancient vessel? Hah! What makes matters worse is that the cost for this inexperienced pilot comes at a total cost of $400,000.00. The Draken doesn’t have that kind of money. 300,000 tickets have been sold, in Duluth, to see the tall ships and one of the big draws is the Draken. The U.S. Coast Guard is pissing in the wind on this. They need to swallow their arrogance and let this magnificent ship complete its voyage. Norwegians in Minnesota want to see this great ship from their heritage and the Coast Guard has to blow it’s little sea whistle and let this wonderful ship continue its voyage. What makes matters worse is that the rules apply to ships that are 35 meters and longer. The Draken is 34.5 meters. This is an easy decision to make for the Coast Guard. It can let the Draken continue and let this matter end before it becomes an international issue. $400,000 for a pilot is absurd. If the big ships are paying this, that fee has to be eliminated. Think of the inflation to all of the products that the Lake Superior ships carry. If each ship is charged $400,000 for a pilot, that needlessly inflates the cost of everything. Too bad there aren’t real Vikings on this ship. They could storm the Coast Guard offices along the way and take “plyndre” or plunder. But these are peaceful travelers celebrating their past.

The destruction of a stained glass window at Yale University

Some people in our society are completely losing their sense of history. A dishwasher, at Yale University, smashed a stained “colored” glass window depicting slaves picking cotton, in, of all places, Calhoun College. Destroying this kind of history is as bad as ISIS destroying ancient structures in Iraq and Syria. Future students at Yale, have lost the educational experience of visually dealing with that terrible part of American history. If America were to root out and destroy every vestige of our “wicked past”, we would lose a significant connection to where we are and from where we have come.
America needs every single symbol of our history, as we walk through our parks, past of civic buildings, through our hallowed halls, and into our legacy of literature.
We all have scars in our past that we would like to root out that continue to define us. A failed grade in high school or college remains indelible as to who we were at that moment in our history. Perhaps we should slip into the registrar’s office and destroy our academic records because some teacher misunderstood our efforts. Perhaps there is a cousin or a grandfather who was a bank robber and spent his remaining days in prison. No doubt there are families that have had to live with that ignominy. And then there’s the DUI or some other smirch on our personhood that we would like expunged. But these are the travesties and instances of our past that contribute to who and what we are.
That stained glass window and Yale cannot and, sadly, will not be replaced, all because some small minded dish washer, with only a pittance of historical understanding destroyed it. The mentality of ISIS is at work within our society and it has to rooted out with sensitive and expansive education.
P.S. I’m damned certain some one is going to say, “How can you compare a high school grade to the history of slavery?” If you can’t understand the point, I’m not going to bother responding to such a stupid question.

A Conversation about death and the disposal of the human body.

A few weeks ago, I began a little study of green or natural funerals. As I am theoretically nearing the end of this journey, I have begun giving more attention to the disposal of this biological structure that I have inhabited. It has treated me well and I have attempted to do the same. As I am responsible for five lots in a rather primitive cemetery, near the town where I grew up. I have given some thought as to being buried near my parents and brother. Unfortunately, that cemetery is stuck, literally, in the stone age, requiring all of the accoutrements of a barbaric modern processing by the American funeral industry…casket, toxins, sucking of blood, plasticizing the remains, and then preventing any chance of returning to the earth for centuries, by stuffing the whole package into a concrete vault. This disgusting process bears little resemblance to what I wish for myself. As healthy as my body is, at the moment, it is filled with heavy metals and other toxins that would be released into the atmosphere through cremation. Besides, cremation was a creation of the pagan Romans. Jews and Christians always washed the body and buried it promptly in the ground or in a cave.
The little cemetery, to which I referred, may soon be managed by a local Lutheran church, and this might be an opportunity to bring a more sane perspective to the way the deceased are treated. Giving the possible situation some thought I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, The Advocate. My letter was published and the following week, a rebuttal appeared from the local mortician. The editor has asked me to respond, and I submitted my response this evening. Below, you will find the three responses, in the order in which they appeared in the paper. If you have a couple of minutes, you might find the whole conversation amusing…if nothing else.

First letter:

It is my understanding that the Granite Lutheran Church will become the new caretaker of the Hillcrest cemetery.
Several generations of my family are buried there and I suspect, in the not too distant future, my pathetic remains will be planted there as well.

This is a wonderful opportunity for new thinking to be applied to this cemetery. For too long, it has been controlled by a funeral industry’s mentality, implementing the most primitive ideas of disposing of our remains. The requirement for vaults to keep the surface of the ground level for a mower is merely a pretense for increasing funeral costs. I certainly hope that entombing a body is not part of some primitive religious ritual with the intent of keeping all the molecules of loved ones in one place for the resurrection, or some such. I’m certain that on “that great gettin’ up mornin’” God will be able to assemble the parts for the great day of judgement.

Traditional embalming putts 800 tons of carcinogenic formaldehyde in the ground every year and cremation puts thousands of pounds of heavy metals into the atmosphere every year, without mentioning that a single cremation consumes enough natural gas to heat at least one home for a year.

There are much more natural approaches to disposing of our remains and a much more exciting environment in cemeteries than the boring plots with sentimental stone markers that get visited less and less frequently. Hillcrest Cemetery needs the option of green funerals, and cemetery that is more like a park than gloomy repositories of memories that fade into obscurity over time.
Park benches and barbecues should be strategically placed, which would provide for public usage and respect for our loved ones. Why not have a picnic among those we loved? Unless one sits on a grave stone, there is not a single place to rest one’s weary, but living bones.

More importantly, this particular cemetery should allow burial without embalming or cremation providing burial is done within reasonable state guidelines. The option of burying a body within 24 hours in a blanket or a wooden box makes returning to the earth in a natural manner a real option.

Placing a body filled with carcinogens and stuffed into a steel box entombed in another layer of cement is a contradiction, if not a violation of nature. Hillcrest has become a regulated monstrosity with its soulless appearance, (no pun intended) void of ambiance, and as cold as the stones that protrude from the ground.

Hillcrest could be so much more, with clear thinking and a futuristic view of ecology, remembrance, sentimentality, economics, and a love of the out of doors. Trees should be planted everywhere! Barren ground with unnatural stones protruding in soldier like lines are absurd. Cover the area with a wide selection of trees that are indigenous to Minnesota. Plant flowering shubs that greet the guests with color and life. Allow planting of real flowers on grave sites and forget subordinating mowing to all other significant natural embellishments. Make plastic flowers the exception instead of the rule.

I now own five plots at Hillcrest and it disgusts me to think that my remains would be placed in such a sterile and non-ecological environment. Yes, the toxins are not going to impact the permanent residents, but those toxins leach downhill where the living reside.

If my information is correct, the Granite Falls Lutheran church has a great opportunity to take care of one small part of the earth. This is its stewardship. This church can begin to define the future of death in Granite Falls. Morticians will balk at this, but they can find a new and creative way to participate in the last ceremony for the dead. It is time to reinvent the future of death and to make the dismal journey into the ground far less ominous than the thought of being filled with toxins and stuffed into a cement sarcophagus or being lit on fire and roasted to ashes.

There is a healthy alternative for this old cemetery and the Lutheran Church of Granite Falls can be a part of futuristic leadership in the burial of Granite’s dead. If a new, green and ecologically sensitive vision is implemented, people will be dying to be buried at Hillcrest!

David Paulson David


Mortician’s Response:

To the Editor:

I read with interest and amusement, the recent letter penned by an ‘environmentally’ concerned individual regarding current burial practices (pagan no less), and their potential detrimental effect on our environment. I thought, perhaps, after serving 40 plus years as a funeral service professional, I would be in the position to shed a bit of light on a few of the comments made.
First of all, outer containers, and/or burial vaults are required by cemeteries (not state law) for maintenance purposes. All one needs to do is observe older sections of cemeteries where these were not used and see the monuments and markers in a state of disrepair and the constant upkeep these graves need due to ground instability. No ‘higher authority’ deemed these a requirement in order to ‘increase funeral costs’. The inference sounds like an uneducated comment on some type of financial conspiracy theory. Vaults also protect the deceased from outside influences and are strictly an individual family preference. If I were a surviving family member that chose a sealed vault for my loved one, I would take utter offense at the comment made.
Second- Any chemist will tell you that an embalmed body does not put carcinogenic formaldehyde into the ground. Modern formalin based embalming chemicals serve only to disinfect and preserve tissue and once an embalming procedure has been completed, there is no ‘formaldehyde’ in that chemical structure left. In fact, many of today’s modern embalming fluids use no formaldehyde structure at all. It’s simple basic organic chemistry. I submit that placing an unembalmed, decomposing body in the ground would pose more possibility of ground water contamination and spreading of disease. Wrapped in a blanket or not.
Third- The state of Minnesota statute that requires embalming reads in essence: ‘a body must be embalmed if disposition (cremation, burial), will take place more than 72 hours after the death. If a communicable disease is present, embalming will take place, no matter what mode of disposition is chosen. That’s the law. (Even if cremation or ‘green burial’ is requested). It’s a public health concern. The use of ‘primitive’ methods to lead to a dignified and meaningful experience for those requiring the services of a funeral professional came about as a response to public demand. And if one would research, modern embalming methods had their birthplace during the Civil War as a way of making it possible for grieving families to actually see and say goodbye to their beloved. Once again, a consumer demand, not some fabricated way to increase funeral expenses.
Finally, it’s my professional opinion that a ‘green cemetery’ would be an excellent alternative for those individuals choosing that type of final disposition for their loved ones. Let’s have some educated entrepreneur step forward with the experience in assisting people in possibly the most stressful and emotionally charged time of their lives and put forward the finances necessary to establish such a final place of environmentally secure and dignified rest for the departed of our community. I would sincerely hope that such an endeavor would be offered at no cost, so as not to become an added burden financially to those choosing it for their loved ones final resting place.

Everett H. Bain
Licensed Funeral Professional
Granite Falls


My Response:

To the Editor:
My first letter to the editor was focused on natural, or what is known as green burial of the dead. This was, after all, the practice for most of our ancestors.
The primary reason that the funeral industry objects to natural burial is because of its business model. In the United States alone, in 2007, there were 22,000 funeral homes, 115,000 cemeteries, 1,155 crematories, and 300 casket sellers. The total U.S. “deathcare” industry was $11.95 billion for the year 2007. In the US there is enough embalming fluids buried every year to fill eight Olympic-size swimming pools, more steel in caskets alone than was used to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and enough reinforced concrete to construct a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit. < Funeral Service Facts. National Funeral Directors Association>

Morticians have literally taken over the funeral process from the clergy. In the manual entitled the Psychology of the Funeral Industry, “It is the ask of the funeral industry to educate the public in the right paths.”

This is the industry that every mortician is trying to defend with the elaborate so-called Christian burial. To suggest that the funeral industry has not been behind the entire propaganda of “protecting the dead body from the elements” is disingenuous at best and outrageously absurd at worst. The mortician’s primary task is the disposal of the human body, but that dismal task had to gussied up for the bereaved. And, while the loved ones are in a bereaving state, why not nip them for a few extra bucks. Disposal of the human body is an industry and the public service is an expensive guilt ridden add-on. To suggest that my understanding of the profit motive in the funeral industry is “uneducated”, is humorous.

Regarding the maintenance of cemeteries, green cemeteries have nothing to do with maintaining monuments, as monuments are not usually placed over burial site. A tilting monument is more a failure of the pedestal than a collapsing grave-site. Within less than a year, all settling would have occurred with a natural burial and a few shovels of black earth will solve the problem for eternity. It seems that there is extensive and expensive work to get the body in the ground, but minimal work to maintain the garden where the dead have been planted.
It will require cultural education to bring about sociological changes in the public’s view regarding funerals. Once the public fully understands the beauty of a natural funeral, its acceptance will be swift. If vaults last 10,000 years, it ultimately will collapse and expose the dead to the external, and natural elements…to which it should have been exposed in the first place.
The modern burial process has much more in common with the burial rites of the pagan Romans than it does with early Christianity. The Romans began the process of cremations and urns and they built elaborate stone sarcophagi, to remember the dead. The Jews always buried their dead following a simple washing of the body and wrapping it in cloth. Christians, from the earliest centuries did the same. Even though Christians preserved the bodies of the saints, the church has always believed that the destruction of the body has no relationship to resurrection. God remembers his own.
Many countries, like England, are running out of burial space. Unless the deceased was a significant historical figure, bodies are only buried for 100 years, until those who knew the departed are also dead. Then the remains are removed and ingloriously disposed of, making room for the next tenant.
As to the point of toxins in the burial process, there is little to debate. <https://www.quora.com/Is-embalming-fluid-toxic> Whether toxins remain in the body or are flushed into the sewer system is a moot point. Chemicals that preserve flesh after death are toxic to the living.
Green funerals or natural burial provides great dignity to both the bereaved and the deceased. The only major obstacle is the time factor, as a body needs to buried within a short period of time. States like Wisconsin are promoting green cemeteries, but every cemetery should have a section devoted to green burials. Actually, a green burial should be encouraged anywhere in a cemetery. An extra charge could be assessed for a funeral plot if the body was to be buried without a vault The extra charge could cover a few shovels of soil for a year or two. Ultimately, green funerals will be the future and the sooner the better, for our pocket books and our peace of mind.

Answer (1 of 2): Yes. Embalming fluid (an arterial solution made up of a combination of chemicals – preservatives, sanitisers, and disinfectants, amongst other agents) is used to temporarily prevent decompostion and restore a ‘natural’…
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Dan Johnson
Dan Johnson Love your thoughtful commentary. Let’s hope there are some progressive Lutherans that might be willing to “go green”. I’m hoping when it becomes my turn to be buried green funerals will have become commonplace.

Tom King
Tom King Well, David, after reading this “remains” exchange between you and the embalmer this morning, I must admit that yours was the most interesting of all. And that includes the NY Times, the Washington Post, the SF Examiner and Woot.com. Being Irish, I must align with the “Going Green” campaign. I have been drinking copious cups of green tea to assure it. Five star Facebook entry, lad….Congrats!

Doug Gilbertson
Doug Gilbertson David. You obviously have A LOT of time on your hands. This topic has given you the impetus to challenge the “system”. Can you change it? Can you elicit additional conversation outside of this forum? I think not. In any case, you have given yourself thSee More

Paulson David replied · 1 Reply
Valerie Chelgren Rogosheske
Valerie Chelgren Rogosheske Good job, Dave… You may not be able to change the system overnight. But there is growing interest in this. At least you will probably be able to find a “green spot” for your remains and by taking the time and effort to do so, cast your vote!

Paulson David replied · 1 Reply
Mark Paulson
Mark Paulson I think one has to ask whether or not cemeteries are obsolete. For centuries families stayed in the the same location. Today people are buried and families never see the cemetery again. Land is also getting scarce in various locations. I won’t offer suSee More

Paulson David replied · 1 Reply
Bob Longo
Bob Longo Guess you are looking for one of those mushroom burial coats?

Bob Longo replied · 3 Replies
Vincent Vezza
Vincent Vezza Titanium legs, ceramic hips, plastic knees, glass eyes, porcelain or gold teeth, etc. If we live long enough we become bionic- nothing gets buried, it all goes up for auction on eBay, problem solved.

The TeaFumblicans actually want to run a second independent candidate!

What a rapturous day it will be this coming November. It appears that Trump is the last remnant of intelligence in the Republican party and the purists in the Grand Old Party have all lost their rational minds. The small minded old guard is so distraught with Trump that they now want to completely ruin any chance of winning in November by splitting the party with one of their own vetted TeaFumblican purist obstructionist conservatives. If they think that the millions of followers of Trump are going to desert their candidate to vote for more the same, they are truly nuts, but I repeat myself. There isn’t a TeaFumblican candidate, including Romney, Jeb Bush, Cheney, Carson, Rubio, etc. who would do much more than completely divide the freakish right wing.
The TeaFumblicans have never had a better chance at winning the White House than they do this year. If the Dems would have nominated Sanders, Sanders would have stormed into the White House. Instead, they have the weakest candidate in decades and Hillary will win in a landslide, if the TeaFumblicans fail to get behind Trump.
Trump has said a lot of stupid things, but for the most part, he has said what TeaFumblicans have believed all along. His wall is bigger than the one proposed by the mainstream conservatives, he wants to protect America by keeping out all Moslems instead of the 50 or so that the Conservatives would let in, he is willing to tax “some of the rich” and the conservatives don’t want to tax any of them. Trump wants to demonstrate that he will keep America safe by crushing ISIS, while the mainstream conservatives want that war to go on and on and on…pouring money into the Military Industrial Complex. The conservatives aren’t really concerned about the federal debt as long as it doesn’t grow by supporting education, welfare, social security, medicare or any other service that helps mainstream American citizens. Trump wants to reduce interest rates on college loans, and that drives the conservative bankers nuts, as they are making millions of dollars on the backs of college students. Trump may have waffled on the abortion issue and that causes grave concern among the Abortion hawks. No conservative has criticized Trump’s anti-Affordable Health Care Act rhetoric. A guy like Trump could do a lot of damage to the AHCA. Do you really think that any “true conservative” would risk having Hillary in the White House. She will most probably appoint three Supreme Court Justices and that will secure abortion in America for the next 25 years. If the Conservatives run a candidate against Trump they will deserve living under a Democratic president, a Democratic House, and Senate.
The solution is simple for the uncompromising conservative inner club. Circle you wagons around Trump, help him customize his language so it is more sanitized and doesn’t expose the racism of the conservative party…give him the millions he needs…and who knows…Trump just might the White House.
One can only hope that stupidity, bigotry, and narrow mindedness continues to prevail in the Grand Old Party. If so…Hillary will be the next president…of course, I’m still for Bernie.

Reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Webber

This morning, I picked up a book that I re-read, from time to time called Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Webber. If you have never been introduced to this most amazing woman, you owe it to yourself. She is a Lutheran pastor in Denver. But that doesn’t define her. You simply can’t put her in a box full of definitions and think that you have wrapped her up and put a red ribbon around the package and then know who she is. She is the first minister, in decades, that I have envied for being a minister. Most ministers that I have known have been empty headed, rote breathing, doctrinaire, by the book, let’s pretend I have a heart, listen to what I have to say, this is the only way, I promise not to think, and what I learned in seminary is the message for all time, etc. etc. It was that model of minister that I allowed to drive me away from ministry. I spent seven years of my life studying theology in various and sundry minister factories, only to realize that I didn’t have the ability to break free from the bull shit and fully embrace a liberating gospel, instead of the incarcerating systematics that are imposed by professors who were incarcerated themselves. Shame on me.
Reading Nadia is enough to restore the joy and monstrous challenges of faith. She sees things in her faith context that seem so obvious, as she explains it, but are so hidden by the layers of orthodoxy, like plaque and cholesterol in a vital artery leading to the brain.
She eviscerates the simplistic evangelical B.S. that keeps God and Jesus as totally other, and brings the whole theological formula right into the real human soup of joy, sorrow, life and death, success and defeat, and all of the other contradictions of being human.
Just to pick up her book for a brief hour of reading was the jump start I needed today to get the mental juices flowing and the physical energy to go out and “chop wood and carry water”, which has been, for years, my metaphor for getting on with life. Now, to get on with it, at least for today.

Defending Trump over Cruz…a strange emotional mind fart!

I have to confess that every time one of the TeaFumblican commentators ripps into Trump, castigating his disgusting behavior, I have found myself defending Trump. Personally, I can’t stand the guy, and I couldn’t figure out why, emotionally, I was going to his rescue. First, I found it bizarre that the inner circle of the TeaFumblicans were supporting Cruz over Trump, when Cruz is the crassest, smarmiest, most disgusting, presidential candidate since Huey Long. (They all seem to come crawling out of the south!) Second, even the primary news outlets have become pro-Cruz and anti-Trump, when they are not supposed to have any skin in the game. Perhaps they are embarrassed that Trump treated them like pawns for so many months.
My emotional defense of Trump over Cruz has nothing to do with the notion that either Trump or Cruz could beat either Bernie or Hillary in a head to head contests. I’m not at all worried there. I have finally understood my own inner self. My contempt for Cruz is so great that I have become a surrogate cheering section for Trump, when both should be thrown to the sharks. Both candidates are imploding, exposing their under bellies to each other and their non-existent couth to the general public. I’ll probably keep cheering for Trump every time the TeaFumblican insiders throw another bone to Cruz, but both are an embarrassment to America.

Kasich comes off as a nice respectable guy, but he is as freakish right wing as are Trump and Cruz. Thankfully, the left has two strong, sane, articulate, and capable candidates.

The Mormons and their opposition to Trump

The Mormons are going to universally stand up to Trump for his “racism”. Trump will lose in Utah and in the Mormon state of Idaho. The posture of the Mormons has changed, over time, as they were once a very racist sect themselves. They are now magnanimous toward Moslems, as they see that religion persecuted, as once the Mormons were persecuted by mainstream Christians. The Evangelical south has been racist from the beginning of this crazy country and they are still racists and bigots. Sadly, this narrow distortion of Christianity has infected evangelicalism in the north. If I thought that version of Christianity was Christianity, I would discard that nonsense and become a Buddhist or a Shinto monk.

Due to Romney’s antipathy toward Trump, Utah and Idaho will support Cruz. That’s good news for the Democrats. Should Cruz win the TeaFumblican nomination, that will all but assure the election of a Democratic president in 2016.  That will most probably be the case no matter who fractured TeaFumblican party nominates.

Bernie and Trump are the new standard bearers two new political parties

Is Hillary driving you nuts by her lack of centered conviction and her willingness to say anything to placate her unthinking constituency? At the beginning of her campaign she was going to be a clone of Obama, who was a clone of Bush. Her every effort was to separate herself marginally from her powerful relationships with Wall Street, which she shares with Obama, but to maintain and preserve the status quo…thinking that would provide a sense of security and equilibrium to those who are making it. Enter Bernie! Bernie is not going to win the Democratic endorsement, but Bernie is the future of the progressive party in America. The progressive party may not be the Democratic Party, just as the new Trump Party may eclipse and may very well kill the outdated and stuck in the mud Republican party. There will no longer be a middle road of mushiness and squishy lack of real conviction. Why not face the extremes and get on with it? America is not divided over race, though some outdated pundits want to argue for that. America is divided over quality of life for everyone and quality of life for the elite. Bernie and Trump are for the former. Hillary and Cruz are for the latter. This is a very strange dichotomy. What if Bernie and Trump decide to run as independents and Hillary and Cruz win the nominations of two outdated parties? The future might be upon us sooner than we think.

Here is a short list of the key issues that are promoted by the current TeaPublican Presidential Candidates

The Republican Party is making a big issue out of CNBC’s lack of substance in their questioning process of the nine inept candidates running for the Presidency of the United States. Yes, the questions lacked substance. But good debaters take questions, turn them around and answer them in the way they want. These are not good debaters. They are whimpering, sniveling, intellectual cripples, who’s only attempt at substance is to say, “I have a plan for that.” While their minions are “working on a plan to plan the plan” on a Republican platform that America has already repudiated. The positions that have been embraced by this group of clowns include the following: 1. Deporting all illegals in the United States. 2. Building a wall between the United States…and get this…Canada. 3. Finishing an impenetrable wall between the United States and Mexico. (Keep in mind that there is a natural barrier… a raging sea between Syria and Greece, between Lybia and Italy…and that does not keep out desperate immigrants. 4. Defunding Planned Parenthood that provides millions of women services that have nothing to do with abortion. 5. Repeal the Affordable Health Care Act (Law). 6. Use nuclear weapons as a first strike if America is threatened (Carson). 7. Designate “all Moslems” as second class people even if they are citizens. (Carson) 8. Impeach president Obama. 9. Create jobs, while providing no economic plan (Trump). 10. Continue to provide tax breaks to the Oil Industry. 11. Categorically reject any relationship between human activity and climate change. 12. Declare America as an historically Christian nation. 13. Make college education “free” without providing any plan for paying for such a gift. 14. Shrink government while expanding surveillance on American citizens and significantly increasing funding for the American military. 15. Eliminating the department of Education. 16. The president does can ignore decisions by the Supreme Court (Carson). 17. President Obama is a Leninist who is trying to destroy America. 18. Opposes any form of gun control, by insisting that enforcing current law is enough. 19. Opposes handgun registration. 20. Opposes regulating the sale of semi-automatic weapons. 21. Would overturn same-sex marriage laws. 22. Homosexuality is a sin that can doom a person’s soul.
23. Make abortion illegal once again in America. 24. Opposed to limiting torture to elicit information from captured terrorists. 25. Committed to the destruction of American unions, especially government unions. 26. No support for those who do not wortk. 27. Remove the separation of the Christian Church and the State. 28. Oppose a pathway to citizenship for illegals in America. 29. Oppose free trade agreements. 30. Support Capital Punishment 31. Oppose genetic engineering, stem cell research. 32. View renewable energy development as a drain on the economy and lost jobs. 32. Oppose the Nuclear contract with Iran and continue the embargo against Iran. 33. Oppose altering the estranged relationship with Cuba. 34. Supports the current embargo against Cuba even though most of the rest of the world opposes it. 35. Opposes the 1994 assault weapons ban. 36. Opposes closing GITMO. 37. Supports the end of birthright citizenship. 38. Supports the ending of funding sanctuary cities. 39. Generally opposed to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, which are seen as liberal programs that are “bankrupting America”. 40. The medical industry, including insurance should be completely independent of government support, or subsidy. Citizens should have complete control over the choice of their doctors and the insurance they purchase. 41. And the lunacy list goes on and on and on.

Never Donate a Car to any Organization

Last year, while listening to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, they announced their “car donation program”, as a means of supporting Minnesota Public Radio. I had a 1997 S-10 Pickup, a beautiful little truck with a topper, aluminum wheels, and an extended cab. The engine needed a little work and there was marginal rust on the body. I had just purchased a Jeep Cherokee Laredo and did not need my S-10. The value of the S-10 on the market was $1900.00. I thought this would be a good way to support Public Radio and get rid of my S-10 easily, as they said it would be picked up.

A week later, after providing all of the essential information, a company came and took my wonderful little 2-10 away, assuming that it would find a new owner, the radio station would get support, and I would get a tax deduction. Three weeks later, I received a letter in the mail informing me that my jeep had “been sold at auction for $500.00. I could have sold it on my own for at least $1500 and made a direct cash donation to MPR.

When a car is donated, the recipients don’t really care how much they get for the vehicle, as it is “free money” anyway. But to get only $500.00 for a vehicle that has at least $3000.00 in good parts…did I mention that I had virtually brand new ties. The wheels were worth $700.00.

This experience has “pissed me off” so badly, that I am, at the moment unwilling to send on thin nicle to MPR. Yesterday, there was an announcement regarding a non-profit that took cars in a similar manner and used 90% of its income for advertising and paying two for profit companies that were owned by the originators of the non-profit car collection company. Is there no damned conscience left in America. These sleeze operators seem to be popping up everywhere. Disgusting!

Fluoride and Vaccinations

In recent weeks I have been getting emails and blogs from those who think the sky is falling, that the big pharmaceuticals are trying to kill America’s children, that fluoride is reducing the physical fitness of our athletes. All of these assertions fly in the face of reason, logic, basic facts, and reasonable research.

I was in graduate school at the time of the great Fluoride debate. At that time, the antagonists were claiming that fluoride was going to cause cancer, that it would not prevent tooth decay, and of course, there were hundreds of other maladies that were going to follow with fluoridation. Over these many decades, with more and more young people growing up the cities and away from private wells and having little or no alternative but to drink “city water”, there has simply not been an epidemic of any sort in relation to the initial claims of the anti fluoride group.
The problem today is that there groups of people who are looking for bogey men in everything. We now have parents refusing to have their children vaccinated because of some ludicrous claims that retardation, ADHD, Bipolar, allergies, asthma, and, of course, leukemia and a host of other diseases are the result of vaccinations.
The mythologies of cause and effect…if there is an negative incident of something…the cause is always what you want to paint with tar.

I too have my bogey man and it is the hyper and most absurd sanitation of everything. Kids can hardly go out and play in the mud without parents rushing out with alcohol swabs. These children are not being allowed to build up natural immunities to the stuff the earth is made of…i.e. the stuff we evolved from. When we were on the farm, we would be knee deep in cow manure, milking cows, picking eggs, throwing slop from one place to another, cleaning the barn throwing bales of hay, picking rocks out of the fields…and then coming into the house and grabbing a sandwich without washing our hands. We’d crack three raw eggs into a glass, mix in some natural protein and a little salt and drink the eggs down…just before rushing out to catch the bus to school.

We drank raw milk…often poured right out of the milk pail into an unwashed glass that always was left in the window of the barn. Sometimes there might be a spider in the glass and we’d reach in and take the web and the spider out and pour in our warm milk.

A natural occurring chemical like fluoride is certainly not something for the world to get crazy over.

As a Nordic ski coach, we use the new waxes that are mixed with fluorocarbons, which we know are toxic. We wear charcoal filters, especially when we are heating these waxes into the skis. But fluorocarbons in these waxes should not be confused with fluoride. It is important, in this modern age to be careful with modern chemistry, as it can be both our enemy and our friend. There are many dangerous chemicals that are being dumped into our living environment and there is ample research to prove that those chemicals are dangerous. But fluoride is primarily a friend. If there are negative effects that seem to be associated with fluorides, those effects would be very difficult to lay at the feet of fluorides.

I keep telling these people that they should find a real problem to attack. Fluoride isn’t one of them and the preponderance of “no evidence” will cause these “sky is falling” people to waste a whole lot of life’s energy going nowhere.

Incidentally, if they want a real cause to work for…they should try to get a law passed that would require fluoride in bottled water. Now that would be a service to those fear mongers who think city water is bad for their health. This way, they can drink expensive “tap water” as there is no proof that bottled water is anything other than tap water, and they can protect their teeth.

Westminster Town Hall Presentation today.

Today I attended the Westminster Town Hall meeting. Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, professor of religious studies at Vanderbilt University gave one of the most interesting presentations on the first Century Jews and the nature of the teachings of Jesus. Christians everywhere can learn much by studying the culture of first century Jews. This was the culture into which Jesus was born. That was the audience for Jesus. Clearly, he was not speaking to a culture that he didn’t understand and he didn’t use a language that the culture didn’t understand. I have posted the web site for you to be able to listen to Dr. Levine’s presentation. The time you spend listening to this will be well spent.

“Four teachings from Jesus that everybody gets wrong.”


Let me know what you think, once you have listened to her presentation. Make sure you continue to listen to the question and answer session.

If you have never attended a Town Hall meeting at Westminster, you should consider doing so. A most amazing metal massage!

dP 03/31/2015

Starting a new environment for communicating ideas.

Facebook is a mess of an environment for sharing ideas. First of all, it dumps conversations into the Facebook pages and emails of persons who are “friended”, but who have absolutely no interest in the issue at hand. I happen to be an addict for a good intellectual battle with someone who thinks they know all about a topic, and who are also bound up emotionally to the point that their thinking gets all bent out of shape by their biases. The best discussion is one where both parties differ in their perspectives, but who are eager to learn from the other. This includes supporting good points and big ideas, even if the idea tends to diminish one’s own.

So what’s the point of this blog? The point is that I am no longer going to use Facebook as a venue for discussing issues. If someone wants to tangle with an issue, we can do it with impunity and without disturbing all of our friends.

As for now, Facebook will be relegated to pictures, quotes, wishing happy birthday to friends, and saying nice congratulatory things to people who have reached various milestones in their lives.

Each day, I will spend a little time posting my own ideas about life, politics, book reviews, religion, ecology, philosophy, mythology, music (big brass), great quotes, movie recommendations, anti-war discussion, and the demons that torment the human soul. As this is a new format, much like starting with a new canvas, I promise to only use real argument. No name calling, no references to small mindedness, bigotry, or ad hominem nonsense. I will let the arguments themselves say what they would about me and about those who respond.

So here goes. I am about to post this blog on my Facebook page and will share it with my regular email contacts. Hopefully, it will become a place for honest intellectual exchange.

If no one responds, I will have a wonderfully enlightening experience talking to myself. Perhaps a living diary of the relatively short journey that now remains for me in this life. So, as Joseph Garcin said, in Sartre’s No Exit, “Let’s get on with it.”