Archives for the month of: December, 2014

eifle tower

I have talked about the rewards of obedience to God in my other blogs.  This Christmas I got a big reward…a dream come true-the desire of my heart. I was given an opportunity to go to France for an 11 day adventure.  I studied French from age 12-22 in school and had to pass a written and oral proficiency test for my degree in Linguistics but, alas , had never been to a French speaking country.  (They do say “pardon” in Turkey with a French pronunciation but that was the closest I had gotten in my other travels abroad.)

Because it had been a few years since I graduated college, needless to say, I no longer had any of my French text books.  The trip was planned with just a month to spare and it seemed every minute before the trip was filled with business and family obligations to the point that I had no time to purchase a French dictionary or practice (repete  s’il vous plait.)

Apparently in spite of the time lapse, I did not have a total memory lapse and once in France, each day I retrieved more of the language that I labored over and verbs I conjugated for 10 years.  I was even complimented on my pronunciation.  I am glad to know that my education was not in vain.

I had dreamed of going to France, and Paris in particular, probably from my first glimpses of it in classic films like Sabrina, Irma La Douce, and of course Gene Kelly’s An American in Paris.  I realize these mostly depicted Paris with back lot scenery, but it inspired the dream nonetheless.

Fortunately when we landed I mustered enough French to ascertain that there was a taxi strike (that lasted for 2 hours and just happened to coincide with our arrival) and I turned down the drivers who offered to take us to our destination for $100 to $200.

We spotted the young girl who shared our row on the plane and found a ride share that would charge us $80.  I was immersed in French chatting with another passenger who was visiting Paris from Israel.  Due to a 5 hour delay on our flight we missed most of our first day in Paris arriving at the apartment in the 6th district at 4pm.  We unloaded our luggage and then wandered the elegant neighborhood filled with lots of young people due to a law school and large high school both within a couple blocks of the apartment.  We searched for a cash machine so I could get some Euros because I did not want to pay the exorbitant fees at the airport.  Then we hunted for a bistro with enough ambience for my friend.  We decided on one with a windowed patio on a busy corner of a boulevard.  We first sat in the patio, but since that was the smoking section opted to move inside.  We observed two young ladies that were sharing an appetizer plate of meats and pates and ordered the same with our café au lait.  Every item on the plate was delicious and so began my love affair with the gastronomique extraordinaire which is France.

As we arrived back to the apartment, we stopped for a snack at the fantastic patisserie across the street.  I ordered a small bouche noel a traditional French Christmas pastry cake roll filled with chocolate mousse layers covered with chocolate buttercream and decorated to look like a yule log complete with meringue mushrooms and flowers.  It was yummy.

We were among the first at the pastry shop the next morning thanks to the time change.  The quiche were not ready so we walked a block to a bistro to have a café au lait and croissant while we waited. The quiche was just out of the oven and we selected our piece and headed back to the apartment to enjoy it. It was the creamiest quiche I had ever had then or since, even though I had quiche nearly every day on my 10 day visit.

We journeyed to tour Paris after our morning repast.  Notre Dame appeared to be a short walk-not so short especially when walking in the wrong direction.  We ended up having to take the Metro to get back to where we belonged.  After viewing the splendor of Notre Dame bedecked in Christmas finery we had a beverage at a bistro run by the meanest man in Paris.  Then we hopped the metro again to the Eiffel Tower.

I think my heart skipped a beat as I first laid eyes on the famous landmark.  I was really in Paris.  I needed to pinch myself.  There was some kind of confusion with the security a common sight in Paris-soldiers with submachine guns- so we had to meander through the park to get to the foot of the tower.  The line was long and the weather cold so we opted not to go to the top and headed for the Champs Elyssee.  This also appeared to be a short walk but wasn’t. There were some interesting sites along the way the Palais de Chaillot and the Musee Moderne and then we stopped at a lovely bistro for lunch.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur (open face ham and cheese sandwich) and had a leisurely break.

There was an ancient medieval church near the bistro that we entered.  It was more somber and less decorative than some of the others we saw from the Renaissance era.  A few more blocks and we were at the Arche de Triomphe in the center of the Champs Elysees.  The Boulevard and the Arch were much larger than I had envisioned.  We rode the elevator to the top of the Arch and soaked in the spectacular view of spectacular Paris.  There was also a great souvenir shop at the top.

We strolled down the famous boulevard past what appeared to be the Saudi Embassy, which was well-guarded by armed soldiers.  My friend decided we should chance a ride on a bus and ended up in the Opera district from there we took the metro back to Notre Dame and walked back to the apartment passing through the fabulous Jardin de Luxembourg with the sumptuous home of Marie Medici widow of King Henry IV.  I pondered about how this royal home was now a public park enjoyed by lots of commoners even on a cold winter day.

We grabbed another sweet treat from our favorite bakery and headed for the apartment.  To be contined….


riot gear evolution

Protesting is not new to Berkeley California.  The protests of the 1960’s made Berkeley and the campus of the University of California at Berkeley infamous for putting the spotlight on government abuses.  As the protests of police injustice and brutality from the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases are spreading across the country, it is not surprising that once again  Berkeley  is stepping up to add its voice to the protest.

Abuse of power is not new to history nor is the revolt of the people against it.  Although we may believe that society is improved by laws and constraints on human behavior by those in authority, the reality is that the progress of democracy and freedom has always been sourced from a grass roots uprising of the people and not grand gestures by those in power.

The roots of our freedom as Americans goes back to our Anglo-Saxon roots from our mother country -England.  The abuses of British Monarchs sparked revolts that lead to documents securing liberty for the people from the Magna Carta  to the Declaration of Independence.

These revolts have continued throughout our history to move us to a freer society.

If we look at the protests of Berkeley California and the results of those protests, they are a testament to the power of the people.

In May 13, 1960:  Several hundred Berkeley students protest the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco. When the demonstrators are barred from the hearing room, a loud scuffle breaks out. The police turn on high-pressure fire hoses and blast the crowd down the marble steps. Officers arrest 64 people, including 31 Berkeley students, but instead of discouraging the protest, the confrontation becomes a call to arms. The next day 5,000 people protest the HUAC hearings at San Francisco City Hall. [Rosenfeld, 2002]

These protests lead to the end of the communist witch hunts allowing for freedom of thought and organization of even those who might hold to un-American beliefs.

From 1960 through 1972 nearly every year there was at least one if not more organized protests spear headed by the University of California at Berkeley students and in some cases faculty.  These were directed at the Vietnam War, The draft, and yes, racial injustice as well, like the current protests.  What were the results of the actions of the people? They were the end of the war in Vietnam, the end of the draft and improvements in race relations.

In the 1970’s Berkeley’s activism included the women’s movement beginning with a protest calling for child care on campus for faculty and students.  In 1986 Berkley protests sparked divestment of University holdings in South Africa -a large step in ending  Apartheid .  Both of these efforts caused a shift in society towards more freedom.

There is a place in Berkeley called   People’s Park .  It was the gathering place for activists in the sixties that offered more free speech than the steps of UC- controlled Sproul Hall. There was a battle over the property and Governor Reagan tried to fence it off, but the People prevailed and the development of the property was halted.  It has fallen into disrepair but continues to be a reminder of the Power of the Berkeley rebellions and the Power of the People.

So, now as we issue in a new era of protest and the beginnings of a new revolution, we can be assured that the people have spoken and abuses will end, and as with those of the past we will move one step closer to a freer society.


Who Is The Real Enemy In The Battle Of The Sexes?

There is a lot of talk about the War on Women   and the War on Men.    The aggression of women because of feminism is creating a   Sexodus   among men that is causing them to retreat from committed relationships with women.  This can be attributed to the sexual revolution and the move away from Judeo Christian values that have traditionally been the basis for the family unit.

Apparently free love is not so free.  Our society is broken and loneliness is increasing with the speed of technological advancements.  The real war is the war on humanity and the enemy is sin.

Those who don’t espouse to traditional Christian values often use the stringent and, what they view as archaic, lifestyle requirements that are purveyed by the Bible as reason to flee religious involvement.  Those who do embrace these values in the Christian community believe that God knows best and that the life of faith is not about reason and logic but about obedience. Christians believe that the list of do’s and don’ts is a recipe for living a life based on God’s best for their lives.

Their faith is based on a loving relationship with a Benevolent Savior who wants to protect His followers from the penalty of sin in their lives.

The horrifying consequences in our disintegrating society are proof that sin costs.  The price of sin is now an inability to enjoy the beautiful gift of sexuality and the companionship that God created to be enjoyed between a man and woman. More and more people are living isolated lives.  Communion and companionship are declining.

I have addressed the rise in  single person households, but with the latest research that has been released, it is apparent that the damage to our society and individuals is more devastating than I had even imagined.  It grieves me and I am certain that it grieves our Heavenly Father that there are so many caught in the trap of a “free” society and the consequences of the freedom.

For those of you unaware of what Biblical sexuality is about, let me enlighten you.

  1.  Sex was created between a man and a woman: Matthew 10: 6 But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. 7 ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, 8 and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, 9 let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
  2. Sex creates a   powerful bond   – a bond that is designed to sustain a lifetime relationship and secure the family unit for healthy procreation. This bond happens with anyone you have sex with.  There is no such thing as casual sex.
  3.  I Corinthians 6: 15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
  4. Sex outside of God’s design is damaging to your body.  If you question this look at the dangerous diseases that promiscuity causes. I Corinthians 6:18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
  5. Christ was a great liberator for women and men. Galatians 3:28  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Our “free” society has enslaved us.  It tells us that there is no happiness apart from sex. This “freedom” has left us more lonely, more unhappy and less “free” as we search for sexual gratification in any form.

It’s not just video games and casual sex that young men are retreating into. They are also immersing themselves in fetishes that to their grandparents’ generation would resemble grounds for incarceration, and which drive them further away from the formerly fairer sex. Consider, for example, the example of furry culture and anthropomorphic animal sex fetishism, both of which are experiencing explosive growth, fuelled by the internet.

Jack Rivlin’s student newspaper The Tab, which we encountered in part one, has noticed the trend spreading on UK campuses. (It’s already rife throughout the US.) Other alternative sexual behaviours, including homosexuality and transgenderism, are more prevalent on campus now too.

“It’s eminently plausible that there are a greater number of people who identify as homosexual, bisexual or other sexualities who are happy to be labelled as such these days,” agrees Cambridge Union president Tim Squirrell, from whom we heard in part one, speaking about the students he sees passing through his Union. “I think we’re becoming more open and accepting of people who live different kinds of lifestyles and have different kinds of identities.” The Sexodus Part 2

The one true relationship that we were all created for-men and women-is a relationship with God.  This is the relationship that will bring us the most joy.  It is the one relationship that will strengthen all our human relationships.

John 15:9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

There is only one way to true freedom:

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

RIP Bethboy hugs cop

As violence increases in movies and TV, it continues to increase in our lives as well.

I have been watching The Walking Dead for the past two seasons. During that time there have not been too many characters that I have grown fond of.  As the Apocalypse progresses the characters are evolving to be less compassionate, less vulnerable, and less human.  They are not very lovable.

Even Rick and Darryl, both initially good men, have changed because of the violent callousness they are forced to embody in order to survive.

Hope for humanity is left to the next generation, the children, who have been shielded and protected from most of the violence and for the most part have not had to participate in the killing of walkers or corrupt humans.  Beth is one of these.

After she is rescued from the safe house where she was staying with Darryl, she is taken to a hospital in Atlanta.  She continues to have some hope but finds herself imprisoned by the law enforcement officers, led by Dawn Lerner, who run the hospital.  In the process of earning her keep by working in the hospital, she is put in two situations that force her to kill law officers.  By the final episode of the season Beth realizes that she was set up to make these killings by Dawn so that she could get rid of potentially subversive officers without culpability.

Beth has struggled to stay positive throughout the series, even making a suicide attempt in episode 2.

She seems to have lost hope completely by the mid-season finale episode.  She sits in the broken elevator shaft staring longingly down, remembering her escape attempt with Noah.

“Are you gonna jump?” Dawn asks her.

Maybe Beth is contemplating a more permanent escape.  She does voice her hopelessness to Dawn:

“You… You keep telling yourself you have to do whatever it takes just until this is all over. But it isn’t over, this is it. This is who you are and what this place is until the end.”

Beth shows that in spite of it all, she has not lost her compassion or her humanity.  She fights for Carol when Dawn orders her life support machines be turned off and steals medicine in order to keep her alive.

Her final act of humanity is to kill Dawn to save Noah from imprisonment in the hospital.  Did she know this would be at the cost of her life?  It is hard to say, but I don’t think she would regret her decision either way.

She died with her humanity intact because she was willing to risk her life to end Dawn’s cruel reign of terror and save Noah. As the Good Book says :

John 15:13

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Maybe Beth’s sacrifice will be the conduit to break the hardened hearts of the other characters, so that it will serve a higher purpose as the story unfolds.

As art imitates life, I can reflect on the violence and mayhem that one young man’s death has perpetrated in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the U.S.  Are we as a nation losing our humanity, our love, and our compassion?  Are we unable to forgive and:

Romans 12:19

never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.?

I am reminded of the words of another young black man:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

May we as a nation return from darkness to light, from hate to love.  May we live and die with our humanity intact.

Rest in Peace Michael and Beth.