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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vows, prayers, and pledges made at Boston Marathon Massacre memorial service

An ideals race continues in America, according to U.S. President Barack Obama and faith leaders speaking at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. How we help others will determine how quickly we heal from the Boston Marathon Massacre.

Met with silence when he greeted the sorrowing crowd with "Hello Boston," Obama said holy scriptures command us to "run with endurance the race set before us." He remembered Patriot's Day 2013 as idyllic, in a perfect state of grace. He said two bombs shattered some dreams but should not destroy our resolve.

"We are measuring our losses but here to reclaim our state of grace," Obama said. "What happened on Monday is personal."

Obama said the injured would run again and the fallen had completed their race into eternity.  Beautiful and noisy, 29 year old Krystle Campbell's death was described as senseless. Martin Richard, 8, only wanted peace and "No more hurting people." Mathematician/statistician Lingzi Lu, 23, was a Chinese student with shared humanity.

"They picked the wrong city to terrorize," Obama concluded. "As we run, hold those close to us who have been taken. May God continue to watch over these United States of America."

Other words of comfort from ceremony notes:
For those who question what appears to be an inactive God, He is here and still alive amidst tragedy . Our resilient, gritty God is still relevant in our violent, weary world. Rev. Liz Walker

Boston's symbolism was attacked during an event which reminded us of Greek marathons in ancient times. Evil reared up and innocents became victims of brutality. Bombs cannot crush the American spirit.  We are a community in the household of God... Thank God for all who responded unselfishly. Metropolitan MethodiosGreek Orthodox Church of Boston

It is still a good morning because we are together. Adversity nor challenges will defeat us. Hatred stirs up strife but love covers up sins.  The event showed courage at work. Doors and hearts opened. Valor was in the streets. Nothing can defeat the heart of the city because we take care of one another. It's a glorious thing...the love for our city. Mayor Thomas Menino

At the finish line are people of sturdy stuff. Run and do not grow weary; walk and do not faint. At the race were people running toward mayhem to help, becoming sacraments of mercy.  Good Samaritans going towards stiffening bodies. From our tower, we see pain far from being healed, but we are thankful for sacraments of blessing. We are shaken but not forsaken. Rev. Nancy S. Taylor

I am grateful for inspired leadership and see grief among the craters. Our world is a narrow bridge. Transcend somehow your fear. God, grant consecration and healing, power, courage, goodness, love. We turn to You for well being and peace. Jewish Rabbi

I was shocked, horrified, just like I was when I saw a bomb go off in Damascus when I was nine years old. When I became a U.S. citizen, I  pledged to defend the nation against foreign and domestic enemies. We must renew our pledge of service.  We need solidarity from around the world and an instinctive oath to act with our common humanity. Our prayer: God, welcome the innocent into heaven and strengthen those left hurting.  Muslim Nasser Wedaddy

Wickedness exists, but we have a hedge around us placed by God Himself. God is in control. Elevate our eyes and place tragedy into a higher context...gravitate to the throne of Infinite Good. Joy will come in the morning.  Be reminded that a mysterious power lets dark energy penetrate our world but always ends up good because the light cannot be extinguished. This crucifixion has released much good and inspires us to pray, console, unite, run to God... we are children of eternity finding solace in spiritual humility. We pray for grace to look beyond this suffering, to rise and become spiritually agile. God has not forsaken Boston, the U.S., or us. God, strengthen our faith and bless us all. Rev. Roberto Mirando

Blessed are the poor in spirit....Sacred offerings have been made...never lose sight of your future and be comforted by God.  The Massachusetts's license plate reads, "The spirit of America.".....look at us and now see the true spirit of America. Bishop John Borders III

Pope Francis sends love and support and tells us to combat evil with good. We have shock, pain, and are reliving 9/11, but we are together now. When summoned by great events, we become ennobled and claim solidarity. It shakes us out of complacency and builds our society with love and justice. Revere the common good, promote a culture of life, serve others. We must repair our broken world together; that is our task. In dying, we are born to eternal life. Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley

My faith teaches to defy logic and in all things be thankful. Monday I just was not feeling it.  Then I started a list of all the things and people I am thankful for which is long and unending. Instinctive kindness. Only light can drive out darkness.  On Patriot's Day, we were suppose to be joyous at the end of winter, joyous with patriotism. Massachusetts started America. We are organized around civic ideals defined over time, ending in fair play. Our values were attacked, but we must still love.  Grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are. Gov. Deval Patrick

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Massacre focuses attention on changing dynamic of terrorism inside U.S.

Bombing took spotlight off 2013 Boston Marathon Winner Lelisa Desisa Benti of Ethiopia and placed it on a black person wearing black hoodie and carrying black backpack. (Photo by Gr5 - Creative Commons)
Of circumstances around the active crime scene in the area of today's 2013 Boston Marathon Massacre, Governor Deval Patrick said,  "Life will not be easy, simple, or regular."

The scene was described as horrific, disorienting, warlike.

It happened on Patriot's Day during one of the Nation's most prestigious sporting events - The Boston Marathon.

Whoever set off two bombs 12 seconds apart was out to kill, maim, and cripple victims who came in contact with deathly anger.  

We have to keep watch over what prejudices this disaster exposes as to who we look for as a perpetrator. Around 8:30 p.m., it was reported on major U.S. television networks that police were looking for a black man with a backpack. Wow - blame it on a black man again? At a press conference, the Boston police chief said there are no suspects yet.

Switching to other news sources, we are reminded that there are major explosions going off all over the world everyday. America is not immune to terrorism, and our enemies cannot be categorized by race, political persuasion, or access to weapons. And when people are mad, they will use ball bearings, knives, or assault weapons despite all methods to protect you.

"A big bomb going off, that doesn't happen everyday," said 78 year old Bill Iffrig who said the blast will not stop him from running again. What the result will be is a heightened sense of our freedom from harm being compromised.

Perhaps our troops are coming home because we need them on our shores as terrorism moves closer. No one is safe, though, when hateful people are on a mission to kill. 

Thought for today: OUR God loves all

"God belongs to all free beings. He is the life of all, the salvation of all—faithful and unfaithful, just and unjust, pious and impious, passionate and dispassionate, monks and seculars, wise and simple, healthy and sick, young and old—just as the diffusion of light, the sight of the sun, and the changes of the weather are for all alike; for there is no respect of persons with God."
from "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" by John Climacus


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Underwater homes cause for concern in U.S.

$$$ Three years ago, a friend of mine got what appeared to be a good deal on his first home purchase. He looked for over a year for a reasonable investment, a house that was in good condition that didn't need renovating. Right after the government's tax incentive for home buyers program expired, he found a house which had been fully renovated and reduced $40k. He jumped at the chance to invest.

Two years later, the fair market value of his "new" home has dropped another $38k, and my friend is drowning in his first architectural calamity.

"It's a buyer's market," one banker told me today when asked about the housing dilemma.  "That's happening everywhere," was the comment meant to make us feel better. She could be right. My church has just purchased a property for $300k that was listed at $1m last year.

When I asked his real estate agent about it, she said there are no guarantees in the real estate market. "No one has a crystal ball, but I bet your friend could still make a profit if he tried to sell now. My problem is that I can't find any sellers, and inventory in the affordable price range is low."

Guess all us mortgaged "owners" will have to ride out the storm and hope we don't sink!  My guess is that now is not the time to sell or buy, and that could make bankers and realtors unhappy. That could also stall the economy.  Don't we have enough to worry about, with North Korean threats and global warming reeking havoc on East Coast properties?

If you have a roof over your head, thank your lucky stars, or sell what you've got and buy an old van, school bus, or ark to wade out the storm.

The only good thing to invest in now is your soul!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher: 1925 - 2013

"It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

MLK was a positive force

(The following piece by Pamela Renee Goodwine was first published in Reality World Magazine in 1981. Goodwine is presently circuit court judge in Lexington, Ky. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.)

There, there he lay--- dead, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As he lay there in a pool of blood, no one notice the woman lying there beside him, dead. Her name was segregation and this was her death.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man full of ambition, pride and dedication.  A man who must have said, "We Can", "We are Capable", "We Believe", and "We Will".   Powerful statements, evocative words. Words that mush have also been I the minds of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Sojourner Truth.  Each one very different from the other, but very much alike because each was a positive thinker.

George Washington believed a war could be won against terrible odds, and it was won.  Abraham Lincoln believed the Union could be save, and it was. Sojourner Truth saw a day when women would have equal right as men, and that day has come.  Martin Luther King, Jr. believed blacks and whites could board buses in Selma, Alabama and sit where they so desired, and he lived to see it happen.  These are results of a positive thinker.

How does one become a positive thinker?  First, realize no problems are unsolvable, there is just a lack of ideas.  Second, analyze the situation and present ideas.  Third, act upon your ideas. This act will bring about results.  Having faith in God, faith in one's nation, and faith in one's self is the key to positive results.  Mary McCleod Bethune stated in her last will and testament, "Faith is a factor in life devoted to service.  Without faith, nothing is possible, but with faith nothing is impossible."

In this world of destruction, deceit, inflation, and violence there is still hope. Hope that lies in the minds of men.  If we are to conquer the prevalent forces of this world, we must think positively.  Behind every success is endeavor; behind endeavor--ability; behind ability--knowledge; and behind knowledge--a seeker. 

Seekers with minds to dream and think can destroy the negative attitudes possessed by people of this world.  We must continue the dreams of those who died for what they believed in.  We can solve the unsolvable problems that confront us today if we just maintain a positive attitude.  We can we must, and we will if we just ask God to, "Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Photo of MLK by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer - public domain, Library of Congress

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ron Brown lauded as a dedicated public servant who became a victim

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the death of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown who was killed in a plane crash during a trade mission in Croatia.  Brown was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. Many deemed that Brown was purposely killed during his international assignment along with 34 others.

“Ron Brown embodied the values and the ideals, that sense of possibility, that is at the heart of the American story,” remarked Pres. Obama about Brown who served in the U.S. Army in Korea. Brown also was the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first African American to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce. 

At his death, Brown was 54 years old.

In Jack Cashill's 2004 book "Ron Brown's Body: How One Man's Death Saved the Clinton Presidency and Hillary's Future," a plot unfolds of  "sex, lies, corruption, and racial politics of the Clinton Administration as seen through the troubled career and even more troubling death of Ron Brown." 

Cashill, an Emmy-award-winning writer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue, investigates the life and times of Ron Brown. "...Brown was both exploiter and exploited, victimizer and ultimately victim, the classic 'man who knew too much.' "

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

APS testing scandal: remediation should be goal of educators

When I attended private school, I remember being horrified when I learned my answer was wrong on the standardized test dealing with a Science question.

It was based on the Earth's temperature being greater when it was farthest from the Sun. In my small third grade brain, that didn't make sense; but scientists say our planet is actually warmer when we're farther from this massive energy source.

What's most important about this memory is that the nun who was my teacher went over the questions that I missed and made sure I knew the truth.  What is wrong about the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) scandal is that everyone is focusing on blaming test erasures and witch hunting teachers instead of making sure that students are given the answers they need through improving the process of deficiency correction.

Anybody can pass a test if they practice long enough. The true measure of an education is being able to survive in this world where teachers will be toting guns soon...woe to us all!

Another item that should be investigated is how teachers and administrators are trained and whether they are actually knowledgeable. Certified test taking is also a matter of contention since the test is sometimes available to study before entering the testing room.  To me, this is a more egregious offense than erasing wrong answers on fifth grader's answer sheets because it deals with professional standards. Surely, if teachers will cheat to become certified they will cheat to receive bonuses for their student's pseudo test-taking skills. 

As we find more knowledge given out freely on the Internet and take teaching our kids into our own hands, we will have fewer fingers to point at professional educators and more time to deal with solving real problems - hunger, maternal health, energy management, and war.

Student remediation to correct deficiencies in APS's educational system should be Priority No.1 now. Stop the witch hunt and start education reform by making sure teachers are qualified to teach and not certified to cheat. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Three Rs in APS scandal

Results, remediation, or racketeering? Test results should be used for remediation purposes only and not for feathering the pockets of administrators accused of racketeering in Atlanta Public Schools. ---Tomi Johnson