May 18, 2007

Christian Snipers

Category: News — Ira @ 1:07 pm

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A few weeks ago, a close friend made a comment that I have mulled over ever since. He said the Christian Army is the only army in the world that snipes at and takes out its own wounded and fallen soldiers. I was simultaneously intrigued and appalled at the statement. But is it true?

In modern warfare, an army will go to almost any lengths to rescue its own soldiers who have fallen, wounded but alive, or have been captured by the enemy. The Marines have a savage and historic code of honor, stained with blood over many years; they will not leave behind their fallen wounded, period. Last year, Israel waged a weeks-long battle against Hezbollah, a terrorist army entrenched just across the border in Lebanon, because Hezbollah fighters popped over the border and captured two Israeli soldiers. After the battle was over, almost an entire city lay in ruins, hundreds of lives were lost, and Israel’s national confidence was greatly shaken. But the point is, two of their soldiers were captured alive by their ancient and sworn enemies, and the country wagered a tremendous amount of prestige, blood and treasure in a high-stakes gamble to get them back.

What about Christians? What happens when one of our own falls, wounded, or is captured by the enemy? Do we do what Israel did and wage an all-out battle to get them back? Or do we set up our own sniper posts, and take pot-shots from great (and safe) distances to further wound and/or kill a person who, only a few short months ago, we called our brother or sister?

I know for a fact that in Amish and Beachy and Mennonite-land, there is some sporadic public buzz and clamor about the unfortunate circumstances in which I currently find myself embroiled. Some of this is inevitable and not all bad; prayers and support are necessary components in the aftermath of such dramatic events. But I also know from very recent, impeccable sources that there is a tremendous amount of vitriol and destructive criticism being spewed from people who are not remotely connected to the situation (as opposed to those who are connected and are involved), who have no business inserting themselves. The clanging chatter of their abrasive talk and the corrosive poison of their corrective judgments pierce ever deeper into existing wounds, creating even more mayhem and pain in the shattered lives of already defenseless targets. Where’s the love in that?

There are concealed sniper nests next door, in the next church, the next county, the next state and a thousand miles away. From these anonymous and hidden posts, from high-powered verbal sniping rifles, deadly bullets are flying thick and fast and true, and are directed, not at the enemy, but at our own.

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A few final observations, and I will let it rest. In the current circumstances surrounding Ellen and me and others, there are no innocent adult parties, including myself. It’s time that fact is recognized and accepted. It’s time the burden of the bitter harvest is shared in accordance with the fault, in proportion to the blame, and not just borne by the most visible and easily-targeted actors. And it’s high time the field commanders in the Christian Army shut down the sniper nests, or at least get them pointing in the right direction, at the enemy.
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Each Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian, the children’s choir sings a song or two just before the sermon. Last Sunday the choir was accompanied by a children’s bell ensemble. The little group performed the complicated (to me) movements very well. I was impressed and moved to see these young children, between the ages of 6 and 12, performing and singing with the practiced ease of many hours of repetitious training. When I was a child, it would have been as foreign to me as going to Mars, to consider such a thing as formal training in voice and/or instruments.

Last Tuesday (5/15) a giant pillar of the Christian Right, the Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell, passed on to his reward. For decades, Dr. Falwell has been a punching bag and boogeyman for the Left, and also, sadly, for many Christians. More than once I have heard an “evangelical” preacher scorn and scold him for something he had said that was considered intolerant. I have seen Dr. Falwell many times as a guest on some TV show or another, and he was always the model of decorum and integrity, usually right after an opponent on the previous segment had savaged him as a bigoted, dogmatic yokel. Dr. Falwell always responded with grace and good humor and spoke with clarity and vision. He was not afraid to say hard things in a diplomatic but firm manner. Without fail, he always unabashedly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ. Although I did not agree with him on some theological points (premillennialism, for one), over the years I learned to respect him highly as a man of God and perhaps a prophet. He labored tirelessly for many years in the vineyard of the Lord and he will be missed in the national arena.

Primary election day has come and gone, and again my choice of candidates failed to win. Same old song, different dance. Heidi Wheaton was pretty soundly trounced at the polls as she tried to buck the local Republican machine for the office of County Commissioner. There are likely many reasons that she failed, among them some missteps made on the campaign trail. But I believe that if one digs deep enough, the real reason she lost is that the conservatives of Lancaster County simply cannot bring themselves to vote a woman into an office of real power and influence. Maybe they all need a new version of my bumper sticker (see last week’s post) stating, “Unless you are a man, you can’t be County Commissioner.”

NASCAR NOTES: Dale Earnhart Jr. recently shook up the racing world by announcing he is leaving DEI Racing, his late father’s company. Apparently Dale and his stepmother, Theresa, don’t see eye to eye on the company’s vision for the future. Strange thing is, I actually like Dale, Jr. as much as I despised his father. Old Earnhart, the famous #3, was a mean and dirty driver and a cantankerous man. But for some reason, I like his son. He is genuine, and a clean driver. Now if he could only manage to beat Jeff Gordon once in awhile…….

This weekend I am at a trade show in Ringoes (Flemington area), NJ (That’s why I’m posting a bit early this week, since I will be gone.). I call it a trade show, but it’s actually some sort of horse gathering at the fairgrounds there. Graber Supply will have a vendor booth at the event. We usually do three or four “horse shows” during the winter months; this is our first at this locale and our first this late into the year. I enjoy getting out and look forward to doing something different for a few days (although in this case, I’m mildly grumpy because I’ll miss the Preakness on Saturday). But usually by Sunday evening, when it’s over, I’ve had about all I can take of horses and horse people, some of whom are as loony as bats. The amount of money spent on horses, horse events, and horse barns in our area (MD, NJ and points east) each year is simply staggering. But if someone wants to buy a barn from us, I am happy to discuss all aspects of the horse; horse riding, horse racing, horse health, tack, horse training and horse barns, all with considerable knowledge and aplomb, until the cows (or horses) come home.

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  1. Ira: Your early posting surprised me in that I was hoping to post a response to last week’s comments by Janice on salesmen. In any event, I will make my comments here and hope that the context is not lost in grand display of this week’s topics. You make some good points and have some amusing insights. .

    Janice: Before beginning, let me first say that you got under my skin with your salesmen comments. Please accept any apologies that might become necessary before I finish. My words here are not specifically directed at you, but rather towards the general audience (and thousands of others I wish would read this). You, simply and unfortunately, are the messenger. You strike me as an intelligent and nice person – not to mention Ira’s favorite niece. I would ask then that these attributes be more fully displayed when you take on a topic, especially when there is little knowledge of it. If I have missed the innuendo or key “in” words in your comment, please forgive me. I am but a miserable outsider to your world and have a tendency to speak directly rather than sideways – as I find many people and communities prone to do.

    Your comment on salesmen (“…. One should never have to be reduced to dealing with salesmen, unless it is unavoidable….”) was perhaps, how shall I say it, unenlightened. However, in its simplicity you have illustrated a very pervasive attitude, and what I consider to be a moronic way of thinking. This pattern seems to be particularly resident in the central part of an unnamed mid-Atlantic state as well as many other parts of the interior.

    Why is it that you and countless others consider selling/salesmen (to the PC world, please read that salespeople) as an attempt to demean, debase and to take something away from you. It is actually just the opposite. Sales people are simply trying to get something you need, want, or enjoy to you, at an agreed upon cost that benefits both buyer and seller. Sales can be done in any number of ways, directly, circuitously, or unpretentiously. You, as the buyer, have total say in the matter and can only be demeaned; debased or taken advantage of if you allow it. Why then would you seek to demonize a seller/salesman? I would suspect it might be due to feelings of inadequacy and/or fear of dealing with the “world”.

    We live this life doing basically one of two things – buying or selling. You sell yourself (figuratively speaking of course) everyday as you interact with people. The irony of this whole response of mine is that you tried to sell me (and all the others who read your comment) on the idea that salespeople are as low as the serpent, and you fully expected me/us to buy it. Unfortunately, I do not (buy it) but rather, take extreme exception to your supposition. (Didn’t know you were one, did you?)

    You (and I mean all of you) might want to reconsider some of your attitudes and assumptions. Ira spoke volumes in his blog this week and I for one am taking a cold, hard look at things. I’ve been where he is now and gone where he will have to go. It is neither easy nor particularly enjoyable. Unenlightened thinking, trite expressions, and bland platitudes do little to help the healing process. Tell it like it is and take responsibility for what you say. At least a person can deal with that and won’t have to deal with all the whispers behind his back. Have the courage of your convictions and speak to the man face to face. He may not agree with you, but at least he will have your respect.

    Janice and Ira, again my apologies. That I will probably be damned by some of your readers for my salacious, arrogant, ignorant and distorted words, so be it. If I’ve gotten only one person to speak directly, fully and with conviction, the reward will have been reaped. Now, I may be wrong, but that’s just the way I see. CYOB

    Thorne

    Comment by Thorne — May 18, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

  2. To carry on with the whole salesman theme, I’ve had my share of experiences with them over the years, mainly lumber salesmen. In my opinion, they are a breed of their own, as my coworkers can testify, in my moments of frustration with them, I sometimes voice these frustration in the office. In the last 5+ years, I’ve had the responsibility of dealing with them at Grabers. Some I enjoy dealing with them and others I find myself quickly needing to make a phone call when I see their number coming up on the caller id. My point is as in any group of people, not all salesmen are created equal. It isn’t hard to tell which are out for their best interests, constantly crying wolf in the volatile market of lumber. Needless to say, there are sometimes I’ll pay a little bit more to avoid having to deal with the wolf cryers. So to Janice & Thorne there are some to avoid at almost all costs but there are others out there that know that when they help us with our best interests, in the end it actually helps their best interests. In my opinion (not sure what it is worth), you have both been a little harsh in what you say, but you just like me are entitled to your opinion so I’ll just shut up now.

    Thanks Ira for the reminder of how devastating our words and actions can be to our wounded, something we so quickly do instead of breathing a prayer to God for their healing.

    Comment by Rosita — May 19, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  3. interesting comments, seeing as the author of this blog is, gasp, a salesman! and one of our top two most productive sales people at GS, I might add. The old maxim holds true – help enough people get what they want, and you will find that you will be without want.

    Well written piece Ira. Indeed a challenge to all of us.

    I hope all is well in N.J. this weekend. We had a wonderful day down at Andrews AFB outside of our nation’s capital. The D.O.D. puts on a joint open house / air show every year, as they flex their muscles and show off the amazing capabilities of their equipment. Very well organized, and free of the expected bureaucratic bungling you might expect. To park tens of thousands of people six miles from the base, at the FedEx field, put them through security that makes the airport look lax, shuttle them to the base, then back again to the parking lot takes a lot of logistics, and I have to say, they pulled it off extremely well. If I had been an enemy of the state, and had attended the open house looking for a weakness to exploit, after today, I think I’d pick an easier target. (France maybe?)

    Comment by pat — May 19, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  4. At a horse show you might be able to find a tv showing the preakness.

    Comment by Ira L Wagler — May 20, 2007 @ 1:14 am

  5. Well, I’m back from Jersey, exhausted and cold (Sun. evening 7:30 PM). The show was by far the most primitive setup I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. Somehow the show manager neglected to inform me that the show was #1: on a gravel floor, but more importantly, #2: in an open pavilion. Saturday was extremely windy and cold and the dust blew right through everything. Fortunately, at the last, and I mean the last moment before leaving, I threw a medium weight jacket into the truck. I would have frozen stiff without it. I was chilled to the bone when I got back to my room last night and turned the heat up full blast to get warmed up. I did get a few good leads, however, and in the end, that’s what counts, as all salesmen know.

    I have been completely computer-free the last 2-1/2 days. Talk about withdrawal; almost as bad as giving up alcohol. The silly Hampton Inn I stayed at did not have a public-access computer. I just gaped at them in disbelief. Oh, well, looks like the site held together quite well without me.

    I did get to see the Preakness, a most exciting race about which I will comment in more detail in the next blog.

    Now, I’m home early enough for two brand new episodes of The Simpsons. Almost makes up for the bad horse show.

    Comment by Ira Wagler — May 20, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  6. An addition to Part I of your latest post:
    We commit treason when we are a part of this “sniper fire”, because we are doing the enemy’s work for him, participating with the enemy of our souls. (Not that I am innocent.)
    One thing I haven’t seen on the site is your tastes in music.

    Comment by Rosie — May 20, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  7. Rosita: To the contrary, please do not “…..just shut up now”. Your voice is necessary and needed. I see how my words might be taken as too harsh. Your point that Janice and I were missing the middle for the extremes is also well taken.
    Sometimes, there are statements (made) that just jump out at you for any number of reasons – some good, some bad.
    I, unfortunately, am not one to suffer the latter easily. My reactions to them can be seen as analagous to the farmer walking into his barn (a Graber product, of course) and finding the stalls haven’t been attended to in quite some time – and is none to pleased about it. To get the stall clean, he will have to do a little “mucking”.
    Sometimes, I make the mistake that the “mucking” process can be accomplished by slinging it back back at the “horse”, rather than just shoveling it into the pile out back which is intended to make some good fertilizer. I’ll try to remember that, the next time and thank you for your comment.

    Ira:
    1) Man, you would have made a great Boy Scout. (Always prepared – or is that Marines – whatever) You’ve been that office too long and are forgetting some of the Salesman’s Rules of the Road, 101
    – Pack for the weather forecast, and carry changes for extremes on either side. Glad some promise came from your efforts.
    2) I thought it was one of those rules that BJU grads were forever not allowed to listen to music, let alone stuff you might find on the radio of a commercial nature. Or, is that just rumor and innuendo?
    Oh, by the way, isn’t “The Simpsons” on that restricted list as well?

    Comment by Thorne — May 21, 2007 @ 10:32 am

  8. Ira: Almost forgot. The “EVIL EMPIRE” rules. The Mets finally got their comeupance losing to a lowly rookie fresh out Triple A. The weather is heating up, and with their “old bones”, so will the Yankees much to the dismay of those johnny-come-latelies, the Sed Rox. Its only a matter of days now before Roger is back in the lineup, firing up those unhittable splitters and fastballs and the rest of the AL folds. Go YANKEES.

    Ira’s response: I can see why you are excited about last night’s win. It’s been SO long. But one win does not a pennant take. As for Roger Clemens, he’s so old I wouldn’t be surprised if he needed a cane to get out to the mound. Good luck cheering on past glories. Yankees suck.

    As for BJU in your previous comment, those rules (about music, movies, etc.) applied only while I was there. I got no demerits, which means that I either didn’t break any rules or didn’t get caught, one or the other. The secret of which will remain classified.

    Comment by Thorne — May 21, 2007 @ 10:42 am

  9. How did you do it? No demerits, I mean. I don’t think there was a type of probation that I hadn’t been on, or wasn’t on by the time I graduated. I even had to go to the registrar’s office to pay off a $4.00 Library fine before they’d give me my diplomma. As I said, what you did seems almost an impossibility. You’re my hero. CYATB.

    Comment by Thorne — May 22, 2007 @ 10:03 am

  10. Ira: Have an enjoyable weekend with pleanty of rest, relaxation and some good food. Apologies, if my response put a damper on postings this week.

    As Memorial Day approaches, I would like to say to all who have served this great country and those who now protect us, in all branches of the service and in all regions of the world, thank you for your strength, courage and fortitude. Your actions and sacrifice are remembered.

    CYOTB
    Thorne

    Comment by Thorne — May 25, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  11. Time for me to get off this blog.
    But first, I hate gossip. I’ve had several jobs working with women that ate gossip for lunch. Women are notorious gossips which is why I’d always preferred working with men. (Though I have worked with some that got their jollies out of it-just not as many.) I think people that have often been the topic of gossip tend to shy away from it. Oh well, is it really my business what other people have to say about me? Nope.

    Comment by Francine — April 26, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

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