Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks Be to God!

"The minister may announce the day and its significance before the Entrance Hymn, before the lessons, or at another appropriate time." Thus reads one of the rubrics (or directions) at the beginning of the Holy Communion according to Lutheran Book of Worship, and so it is my custom to do this just about every service as it begins. Usually it is rather brief: "Welcome to God's House this 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, today we hear Jesus..."

On the Eve of Thanksgiving Day, when Zion has offered Holy Communion that Wednesday evening since long before I was called as Parish Pastor, this announcement takes a few moments, for it is not a holiday specifically designated by the church. Rather, it is a day designated by a proclamation of the President of the United States. And so, since the late 1990s when such things became easily available through the Internet, I have read what the President has had to say about the day and its significance. I have posted some of them on Pastor Zip's Blog in the past. Here is what I read last evening.

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Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear. Today, as we give of ourselves in service to others and spend cherished time with family and friends, we give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.

Our modern celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century. Upon arriving in Plymouth, at the culmination of months of testing travel that resulted in death and disease, the Pilgrims continued to face great challenges. An indigenous people, the Wampanoag, helped them adjust to their new home, teaching them critical survival techniques and important crop cultivation methods. After securing a bountiful harvest, the settlers and Wampanoag joined in fellowship for a shared dinner to celebrate powerful traditions that are still observed at Thanksgiving today: lifting one another up, enjoying time with those around us, and appreciating all that we have.

Carrying us through trial and triumph, this sense of decency and compassion has defined our Nation. President George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in our country's nascence, calling on the citizens of our fledgling democracy to place their faith in "the providence of Almighty God," and to be thankful for what is bequeathed to us. In the midst of bitter division at a critical juncture for America, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the plight of the most vulnerable, declaring a "day of thanksgiving," on which all citizens would "commend to [God's] tender care" those most affected by the violence of the time -- widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers of the Civil War. A tradition of giving continues to inspire this holiday, and at shelters and food centers, on battlefields and city streets, and through generous donations and silent prayers, the inherent selflessness and common goodness of the American people endures.

In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country's story. Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday -- whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams -- but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without. Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 26, 2015, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Hey, It's a "Web Log."

I thought it was a bit chilly yesterday evening, but being raised to be parsimonious about public utilities, I have the heat set at 66°F (19°C for my metric readers) and I'll often just cover myself with a blanket while doing whatever I'm doing rather than kick it up to 68° or warmer. Besides it snowed Saturday and the yard was still beautifully covered in white. True, when I was a child in Canoga Park I was cold when it got below 70°, but my blood started to thicken with that 8 AM long distance running class at CSUN, there was winter 1990-91 in Helena, Montana (and this after a couple of summers in the Bay Area 😏), and this'll be my 24th winter in Peoria.

But when it seemed rather warm in the Parish Hall when I stepped in there for a few moments before going to bed and the temp in there was only 62°, I figured I needed to check the heat. Granted the Parish Hall always feels warmer than the Parsonage when their thermostats report about the same temp. But it was downright chilly when I stepped back into Parsonage. Still I didn't expect what I saw on the thermostat: 50°F (10°C)!

Well, come to think of it, I hadn't heard the furnace running, but I've washed dishes and done a couple of loads of laundry and I hear the water heater (and still feel hot water). But the furnace does not want to go on. And of course it's one without a pilot light, so this is not going to be something simple like the wind blew it out through the exhaust and I can simply re-light it. But I'm not calling someone at 11 PM, either. But with a hooded sweatshirt over the PJ's (my head is on the outside wall) and the oil-filled radiant heater at the foot of my bed, I was actually warm enough overnight.

Meanwhile, in this morning's mail is an invitation to join Sam's Club addressed to "Sandra Tibbetts" at the (correct) Parsonage address. Sandra Tibbetts? I have every once in a while received mailings for "Mrs. Steven Tibbetts" (who I have yet to meet, at least using that name), but this is the first time she's had a first name. Next to this address is a photo of a diapered baby crawling away, and on the other side is a mother with infant captioned "Big saving for growing families." I think not.

And no, that's not how I was warm enough last night.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Oh, my!

And so yesterday I put in the mail my subscription renewals to Analog and Asimov's, science fiction magazines that I have suscribed to since I was in university. As is my custom, I renewed for the longest available period -- 3 years at $94.97 each. It's the best deal that way.

This afternoon I noticed a recent issue of Asimov's in a stack of mail, so I took a glance. The mailing label is on the front cover, which I usually carefully peel off so I can see the full artwork. As I started peeling it I noticed the expiration date of my current sub -- 04/01/16. The year 2016 in my mind seems far in the future, but it's actually less than 8 weeks away. Add three years to it, and my sub will expire April 2019. I'll be 60.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Which "Home" Is This?

Last week on my Google News feed I noticed a headline with "West Hills" and "crossbow," but didn't click the link. I should have, though, because the story happened about 100 yards from my parents' front door. Yup, not 100 yards from Zion's South Side parsonage. It made for an interesting story to hear about during my brief visit home this week.

P.S. KABC should have stayed with its initial report; that address is in West Hills, not Woodland Hills.

Monday, July 20, 2015

We Came in Peace...

It's hard to believe that it's now 46 years since Apollo 11's Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climbed down the Eagle's ladder the first earthlings to set foot on the Moon. As NASA notes, that was only 8 years after after Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard were the first men in outer space. It was an exciting time to be a boy growing up, watching adventures like this live on (our black-and-white) TV. I remember, too, the almost-unbearably loud rumble of Saturn V engines being tested at the nearby Rocketdyne facility.

At a conference not long after returning home, Armstrong called it their flight "a beginning of a new age" and Michael Collins, who orbited the Moon by himself in Columbia as his crewmates walked on the lunar surface, spoke of future journeys to Mars. Well, folks, that was in 1969. Who would have believed that in 2015, one would be hoping that NASA might next send astronauts near (but not onto) the Moon within another 8 years.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Real Fireworks

Written 239 years ago, the Declaration of Independence is more than stirring words. We read it still today not only to recall the nation's founding. We read it to measure how well we remain true to the American Revolution. Reposted from 4 years ago and 6 years ago today on this blog and 8 years ago on my other blog.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — 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.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Ah, the Memories He Stirs Up

It was some time in the mid-'60s that we went to the Hollywood Bowl and saw my (then) favorite TV actor perform. I remember enjoying him singing and dancing. Now Dick Van Dyke is 89-years-old, but as this recent music video by The Dustbowl Revival shows, he still has the moves. The song's fun, too!