Volatile, Historic Times and the Spider Who Doesn’t Care

Righteous indignation on each side; blustery public diatribes backed by legal or biblical authority; verbal wars among foes and friends and family which take no idealogical prisoners—this seems to be the state of current events.

But this tiny spider doesn’t seem to know, or care. She’s not angry, or justified, or changing the color of her web to the rainbow.1 She doesn’t notice at all. The sun came up, she made her web, she’ll eat if bugs show up, and the sun will go down again when the day is through.

spider

Yet we struggle, we fight, we vehemently beat back opposing views.

Views. That’s what we’re fighting. Views. Opinions. Beliefs.

I am a person. I have my own views. I do not think it’s wise to equate the marriage between a man and woman with one between two people of the same gender. I do not think it needs to be illegal, but to me—my belief, my opinion, how I would choose—it would be wiser to proceed as God designed us to be.

(Please note: in this post, I’m not going to address any “how we are made” thoughts other than the obvious reproductive gender differences which I am referencing above. Of course there are so many other mental/emotional/chemical/physical factors.)

Since God has said that it is unnatural for a man to have sex with a man, or a woman to have sex with a woman;2 well, I believe him. He also said he hates divorce; so I plan to never choose that, no matter how much “sense” it might seem to make at some future time, or how much I might want it (to be clear, I do not want it now). He also said adultery is wrong, no matter how much it might seem like a good idea, or we might want it. Sex is for marriage, between one woman and one man—that is God’s best design. (And nothing else.)

It is not our place to condemn sin. (As Romans 2 says, then you’re just condemning yourself, too.) Sin is anything which takes the place of our reliance upon our Father. It’s often a counterfeit of the good he wants to give us. Sex is great, of course, in the context above. But every other form will harm us, or somehow harm our relationship with God, who is our Life.

It is not just homosexual sex, nor any other “great sin” our friends on the conservative right rail against which is sin. Nor is it neglect of the poor, or greed, or religious bigotry against which our more liberal friends crusade. There is so much sin. None of us is free from it, or immune from it. None of us has never sinned.

(Sidebar: if you have never read John 8, please take a moment to read it now. So enlightening.)

Now that I’ve shared my opinion on the matter, do you think I hate anyone wanting to marry someone of their own gender? Do you hate me for thinking that is not what God intended for them?

Of course I do not.

I do not hate anyone. Really. I don’t. I think I might be labeled as hating, though, because I believe some things (behaviors) are harmful, and wrong. (I think drinking pop is harmful and wrong… so maybe I’m not a good test case?)3

Difference of beliefs is not hate. It’s really, really not.

But let’s wrap this up with a return to my new friend, the spider.

As I ate my lunch, thoughts of all the discord and self-righteous banter, Facebook photos and links swirled through my mind. In that mental maelstrom, I felt noticeable peace. (Despite the noise of the traffic which passes our house most hours of the days.) I saw that very tiny spider, quiet and still on her web, swaying with the gentle breeze. I could imagine her saying, had she the voice, “What’s all the fuss about?”

I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but they are not worth a war of words. Certainly they do not justify hate in return for perceived hate. If someone thinks differently than you (so long as they are not actually harming another) then just let them. Just let them.

The world will go on. Until Jesus returns, there will be harm and good, pain and joy. Both coexist together.

I think the spider would say that we should, too.

  1. It is ironic, though, is it not, that there are rainbow-colored pinwheels in the background. 🙂
  2. Read Romans 1-2, especially Romans 2 if you are a Christian reading this.
  3. One more sidebar: I am currently reading a very interesting history of the Confederacy. The Story of the Confederacy was written in 1931 by Robert Selph Henry. Should I burn this literary work? It is not condemning the Confederate flag, nor its people. Rather, the author is hoping to present both sides of the story in our country’s history. It’s important. Does my interest in this mean I hate black people?

[RePost] D-Day: When Things Mattered

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. June 6th, 1944. The Allied invasion at Normandy, France, was a key point in World War II, and certainly worth commemorating.

Below is an article I wrote a couple years ago, following our family’s own commemorating of the events of that day. It seemed a good way to honor the day this year, too.

Even if you read it when it originally posted, I do think it’s worth re-reading, and re-considering.

D-Day: When Things Mattered

June 7th, 2012

Last night we honored D-Day (June 6th) by watching an episode of Ken Burns’: The War (on Netflix). It follows the lives of four guys who lived through WWII, and specifically that day in Normandy.

It invoked so many thoughts and emotions… I certainly can not describe and share them all here.

The one prevailing thought I had, however, was that there is right and wrong.

These guys—just kids—were willing to give up their lives (literally!) in order to go over and make right what someone (or a large group of someones) made wrong… for somebody else!

That can not be emphasized enough.

The aggressors (Nazi Germany) were bent on eradicating the Jews (and just non-Aryans, right?) and were expanding their territory across sovereign nation after sovereign nation until the brave, heroic, persons of principle among the nations stood up and said, “You shall not pass!”

And they truly were brave. Heroes. Righteous. Courageous.

Not that they were flawless human beings. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Some of them were maybe even “bad” guys… but they stood up for what was right. That made them heroes.

They literally gave up their lives (I contend even the guys who didn’t die on D-Day were never the same again)… and it was for other people. Not the US. Not Americans (directly). It was not to expand our territory or influence or whatever… it was just taking a stand against evil.

Some today think that war is always wrong. They think that generations are not different. In a way that is correct: people are people. But there was something in my grandparents’ generation that was different. I’m not sure if it was a product of the circumstances of their day, or if it was that they had not yet removed God and respect and decency and morality from the general fabric of society. Maybe it was both. But whatever it was, we still owe to them (the world, not just America) an incomprehensible, inestimable debt of gratitude.

We mostly argue about ridiculous things today, things that really don’t matter. (We are free to do so in part because of the courageous choices and actions of these men.) Sometimes I think we argue for the sake of arguing. Political gaming. Blagh.

Things matter. People matter. Someday I think we (our nation, and as individuals) will be faced with a similar crisis. At that point, I wonder what that generation will do? Will their descendants someday label them the “greatest generation”? Or will that moniker forever be inexorably bound to the generation whose men bravely stormed the beaches at Normandy… until they had either given up their life, or succeeded in preserving freedom for the world?

I think we will someday find out, one way or another. Somehow we always get to decide if we’re going to stand, or stand by.

On D-Day… (and in many other battles) they chose to stand.

A Grain of Salt (What Does That Mean?!)

Photo found here: http://www.grainofsalt.com/2010/10/what-does-with-a-grain-of-salt-even-mean/

“Take that with a grain of salt,” says your friend regarding somewhat dubious news. “I’d take that draft rumor with a grain of salt,” says the NFL Draft Expert, who says a lot of things. (Most of which apparently need salt…)

But what does it mean? Why do we say that? Where does it come from? What is the origin of that phrase, “Take it with a grain of salt”?

Let’s find out!

Taken With A Grain Of Salt

Apparently, we head (figuratively) all the way back to the first century. In the year 77 AD, a Roman author named Pliny (the Elder) shared the story of a Roman general, Pompey, in his book Naturalis Historia1, which included a “recipe” for an antidote against all poisons. (Impressive!)

In sancutariis Mithridatis, maximi regis, devicit Cn. Pompeius invenit in peculiari commentario ipsius manu conpositionem antidoti e II nucibus siccis, item ficis totidem et rutae foliis XX simul tritis, addito salis grano: ei, qui hoc ieiunus sumat, nullum venenum nociturum illo die.

(After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.)2

Since the year 77 AD, some have (wrongly) used the Latin phrase, “cum grano salis”. But as you can see in the text above, Pliny wrote “addito salis grano”. (“With a grain of salt” just sounded better in English, so… we made it say that in Latin, too?)

There are two different views on what Pompey (or P. the E.) meant. One, the salt was an essential part of the potency of the antidote. Two, the salt just made it palatable enough to swallow, and thus receive the antidote’s protection against “all poisons”.

A third take on the usage of the phrase is as follows:

The Latin word salis means both “salt” and “wit”, so that the Latin phrase “cum grano salis” could be translated as both “with a grain of salt” and “with a grain (small amount) of wit”.3

Interesting! So it had a double meaning, as it does now. And, since we use it to mean something like, “this should be understood with some degree of skepticism, or doubt”, one could equate skepticism to wit, no?

Lastly, the first usage of the phrase, “This should be taken with a grain of salt” was found in a commentary on the book of Revelation, by John Trapp, published in 1647.4

And there you have it! But, since all of this information was pieced together from the articles referenced in the footer of this post, well, I think it should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

😉

  1. Read the full Latin text of the story here, if you’re awesome enough.
  2. This Latin/English version was found in an article at WordOrigins.com
  3. Thank you, Wikipedia!
  4. You can find anything online these days!

Who’s Your Favorite President?

With today being Presidents’ Day, there has been some presidential talk in the Campbell home recently. Last night at dinner, in fact, one question asked of the children was, “Who is your favorite president?”

The responses, which I clarified again this morning, were as follows:

presidents-day

Cam, age 4

George Washington! (Said with staggering confidence!)

Emma, age 5

“George Washington.” Then, after a very slight pause, “And the president who slept under his horse!” (Ulysses S. Grant, according to Alex and his presidential trivia.)

Julia, age 7

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. (Washington, because he was the first president, and Lincoln “because he’s the only other one I know!”)

Kirsten, age 9 (almost 10!)

Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson. Reagan made her list because, “He’s one of the presidents I know the most about, and because he liked horses.” And Jefferson was a late addition because… we visited his house. 🙂

Alex, age 12

Grover Cleveland, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Grover Cleveland. (The reason Cleveland is on the list twice is the reason he’s Alex’s favorite president.) 🙂

Ian, age 15

Thomas Jefferson: “He liked gadgets, and the Louisiana Purchase. (That was cool) And he was just smart.”

Dad, age Old

Ronald Reagan, Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington. And, George W. Bush, because he has the BEST quotes/sound bytes.1 He was fantastic. (Really! Are there any better?)

Mom, age Older 🙂

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. (Hmmm… eerily similar to the Dad!) The Mom gave the most thorough reasoning behind her selections: All of them because they were ‘real’, humble Americans, and “George Washington, because he was humble and didn’t even want to be president. Jefferson because he wasn’t a follower. Coolidge because he didn’t need to say much, and Reagan because the further we get from [the founding of the country] the harder it is to have (and live) those principles.”

(She’s smart.) 🙂

We celebrate this Monday in February two of the men who held that office that had probably the greatest impact on our nation: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Their birthdays both right around that day. (Lincoln on February 12th, and on Washington February 22nd.) But since we call it “Presidents’ Day”, often we lump in other presidents, worthy of laud.

Now, who is your favorite president?

There are forty-four possibilities (or, forty-three, if you’d prefer not to count Cleveland twice, like Alex). Leave your answers in the comments below, with as much reasoning as you’d like. We’ll add your favorites to tonight’s dinner discussion!

Happy Presidents’ Day!

  1. This page has some of the best, but just search the web and there are likely hundreds of hilarious quotes from the 43rd president of the United States of America.

[ThisDay] Both Sides of the Story

I had an intriguing idea today.

“I wonder what I was thinking and writing on this day through the ten plus years I’ve been publishing stuff here? I wonder if it’s the same stuff I’m thinking in January of 2014?”

Seemed like an interesting enough activity to share it here with you. (Hello, you!)

For the remainder of this month, I plan to post here my favorite post from that date in GregsHead history, as well as links to the other posts from that day, should you wish to do more reading than just the one that I select.

It should prove to be an interesting study in the cyclical nature of life—or at least… of my own mind? 🙂

Today’s post is really very interesting, primarily because while it was its own post, its initial/primary purpose was to highlight another previous post! (Wow!) Please read as much as time (or interest) allows.

Without further ado, This Day In (GH) History

Both Sides of the Story

January 20th, 2012

I’ve mentioned here many times that I am learning how crucial it is to see life from multiple angles. Getting not only information from people with opposing viewpoints, but really trying to step into their shoes; see from their perspective. It’s just so crucial to communication, to cooperation, interaction… to society in general.

And so often, we—being human, flawed, self-absorbed—we aren’t even aware that there are other legitimate perspectives!

Our son Ian has been very interested in the World War II time period of history. He’s been learning every bit he can not just about the battles, but the people—the leaders in particular—involved in the story. Winston Churchill and FDR, as well as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. He’s previously read about Woodrow Wilson and WWI… definitely has a serious passion for history and biographies!

So much so that Mom (Jen) has even recently taken up a book about Roosevelt titled, “FDR’s Splendid Deception”, about the fact that President Roosevelt was never seen public in his wheelchair, so as to not appear weak. From all accounts, it’s a fascinating story.

Somehow all of this brought to mind a movie I had seen some time back. I posted a mini-review on that movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, and it’s counterpart, Flags of our Fathers, here on this site in 2007. Please go ahead and click the link and read that story. (That’s actually the main reason for this post: that you’d re-read that older post!)

The fascinating thing was, Flags was released first, and then Iwo Jima. They depicted the exact same story from history, but from opposite sides of the battle.

How much better off we’d be if we could do that with nearly every conflict or disagreement!

For a long time now, Jen and I and I have been reading through a modern translation of the Federalist Papers called The Original Argument. In Federalist #1, Alexander Hamilton addresses this subject (in an atmosphere where there were passionate arguments for and against the proposed Constitution):

Since the motives behind each of the opinions are so strong, it is certain that wise and good people will be found on both sides of the issues. This fact should remind us all to remain modest in our opinion—no matter how right we think we are.

I think that is still my favorite quote from all the papers we’ve examined so far. And again, how different would our political climate be today if that were the way everyone approached every issue, whether controversial or relatively benign?

Forget politics. What if we all treated each other that way? What if we presumed that we were not smarter, better, right-er than everyone else around us.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

That’s where it starts. You can’t really even care about the perpective of your adversary or opponent—or anyone—if you know you are in some way (or all ways) superior.

I’d really encourage you to read that post about Letters from Iwo Jima, and as I recommended now almost five years ago, if you haven’t seen it… do.

The more we can see things from other view points, other perspectives, the more we can live at peace with others around us. (Which is what Paul says we need to do in the verse just before what I quoted above.)

So I encourage you to take a walk in someone else’s shoes today. You might be surprised what you see.


Scripture quote is Philippians 2:3-4, from the New Living Translation

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 20th

  1. I recommend this as a close second for best post on January 20th. Bonus: It’s shorter. 🙂

X

10th Anniversary of this blog!Today—right now, in fact, at 5:13pm ET—I am celebrating ten years of writing for this blog.

On August 26th, 2003, I published this post (about blogging, and my love for board games) and thus began the journey.

I had intended to celebrate in a couple ways that never came to fruition.

First, I was going to remodel the website here—celebrate with a new look, and a new feature. I have some pretty neat ideas for ways to read through ten years of content. A “reader” of sorts (being a “view”) that will make for a more enjoyable way to browse all of this content.

But life got in the way of that plan.

Then, my plan was just to choose ten articles, one from each year of blogging, and link to them here. Celebrating 10 with 10. But as I combed through the virtual catacombs (a truly enjoyable experience for me, by the way) I discovered that such a task was far too much for me at the moment. Again, life getting in the way.

It’s not just busyness. It really is the volume of what I’ve shared—how could I choose just one post from each year?

And so I will let you celebrate with me at your own leisure. I may indeed continue this post at some point, highlighting my favorite posts from a given year. Or perhaps I will not. I am not certain from this vantage point.

But I do sincerely invite you to browse. I will someday have a nice way to do this, but for now, if you click the years below, you’ll be taken to a link that will display the posts from that calendar year in chronological order.

I’ve also left the posts I selected from three years I did get through. They are all relatively short (two or three minutes to read) and definitely ones that I think are worth resurrecting from the archive!

I do love to write, and will continue to do so. Nearly 800,000 words in just under 1,900 posts. That’s a decent effort for ten years of writing. (Maybe especially since this is not my primary task in life?)

It’s been fun for me to relive some of the earliest memories I’ve written here. I do hope you’ll take a moment or two (or more) and celebrate this day with me. Ten years down, we’ll see how many more!

If you have a favorite post, do share it in the comments below. You can use the Search box above to find the link.

Thanks for reading along for all these years!


Click on any year to read the posts from that year
in chronological order:

Some of my Favorites

2003

  • George (an interesting story from our musical touring days)
  • The Water Shoe (Technically, this was several posts in 2003, but I published them as one story in my book, A Journey Shared, in 2005, and just posted that in my Memory Lane series this summer, 2013.)

2004

2005

2006


There are many more … enjoy browsing the archives above.

What is one of your favorite GregsHead.net posts?

The Year of Jubilee

Police badgeI had a run-in with the law this week.

Well, it was not specifically I who did, and, it was more of a “walk-in” as opposed to a “run-in”.

But that statement was generally true.

If you are a regular reader of this website, you are aware that our oldest son is running a lemonade stand this week in our town in order to raise funds for his hockey season and additionally to raise funds for a friend of his whose family gives their time to help people in Tanzania. It’s really makes my heart smile to see him make this happen. Good on ya, Ian!

Apparently, it does not make every heart smile.

The Palmyra police department received a complaint (through which channels I am not completely certain) in regards to a presumably unlicensed vendor selling bottled water on the streets of Palmyra. A direct accusation was aimed at our son’s lemonade stand for perpetrating this offense. (Although he is neither selling bottled water, nor is he selling on the streets of Palmyra, if one were to be technical.) A police officer then followed up on this with Ian directly, politely (according to Ian) informing him that he must obtain a “peddler’s permit” immediately, or he would have to be shut down.

And this is where the fun began.

The Story Unfolds

Now stick with me. This obviously could be a very long and involved diatribe rant post, I have a very specific thought I’d like to present today. I do need to present a bit of background here, though.

When I was informed of this requirement that the office communicated to Ian, my first response was to double-check the regulations of the Village of Palmyra, just to be sure what was required of a temporary vendor, such as Ian.

I browsed section (§) 139, and found that Ian didn’t fit this “Peddler’s Permit” license requirement at all. That was odd, but I kept reading just to be sure. (AND, as I read, I discovered that there are very strict requirements on anyone seeking one of these “Peddler’s Permits”, including submitting to finger printing and criminal background checks. For a 14-year-old’s lemonade stand??? I thought, This can’t be true!! Thankfully, it was not.)

As I continued to read, I discovered that indeed there was a section (§139.17, Article II) pertaining to Ian’s lemonade stand, and his usage of the “sidewalk”, that portion of land between the curb and the sidewalk.

Ian and I reviewed the code, we discussed options—including fighting what we deemed a silly twenty-five dollar license fee—and figured with likely a vast majority of public support in his favor, we could probably bring attention to a pretty obvious case of over-regulation.

But, without much thought given to a “fight”, we decided the next thing to do was for me to go discuss what I had learned with the officer who had approached Ian about obtaining the license.

A brief stroll across the street (at the crosswalk, of course…) to our police station, and I was speaking with the same officer that had spoken with Ian. He was very gracious, understanding, and even fairly knowledgeable of the codes which I had just looked up and studied (impressive!). We spoke a bit about the complaint, the code/regulations, and both decided that it would be best to get a license, especially because, since Ian is raising money for a charity, there would be less cost involved.

OK, thanks for sticking with me this far. Now we’re to the point I really wanted to make.

Big fat book!I walked next door to the Village Clerk’s office, which was then being manned (womanned?) by a friend of ours. She had heard of the alleged infraction, and knew of the license requirement, but like the officer and myself, shook her head at the enforcement of it in the case of a teenager’s lemonade stand.

I showed her the papers in my hand: seven pages of §139 of the Village of Palmyra, NY codes, and we both laughed. But not a fun, that’s-so-funny-it-makes-me-happy kind of laugh. She later showed me the full book of the Village codes, laws, and regulations.

It was a large book. For a tiny town.

It’s really sad! And our little village is not alone. The laws in our towns, states, and our country are way, way beyond out of control.

A Year of Julbilee

And so, I propose something like you find in the book of Leviticus. Chapters twenty-five through twenty-seven.

God introduced to the Israelite people the idea of a Sabbath Year of Rest every seventh year. No planting or harvesting of crops, and some other cyclical downtimes for his people and their land.

In conjunction with this, after seven cycles of this six years on, six years off, the people would celebrate a Year of Jubilee. Every fiftieth year would be a reset. It meant the return of property to owners who had to sell it, freeing people from debts of servitude, and generally canceling any preexisting debt amongst the Israelite people—resetting to zero.

Fascinating, huh?

Thomas Jefferson Was a Smart Man

Thomas JeffersonIf this worked for the Israelites (and it was God’s idea in the first place) then why wouldn’t it work for us, too?

Thomas Jefferson thought we should do something like this regularly, revisit our laws and constitutions. He really thought it. You can find quotes pertaining to this “reset” in many of his correspondences with different people.

For instance:

Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years.1

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.2

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.3

There are more. Many more. Jefferson firmly believed that laws should not continue past one generation, which he determined to be nineteen years. He likened each generation of people to a sovereign nation. One nation can not impose its laws and government on another, neither should one generation bind another with laws which are not their own. (Please see the links at the end of this post.)

Bottom line: Sometimes you need to clear the books!

Think about crazy stuff like Michigan representative, John Conyers wondering aloud why he should have to read a thousand-page bill before passing it into law. (That bill was the now-passed Affordable Care Act.) Are we really OK with passing 1,000 more pages of regulations and codes and laws WITHOUT reading them? (Recall, too, that Senator Nancy Pelosi said that we’d have to pass the bill so that we could find out what was in it. Yikers!)

Could This Work Now?

My Palmyra neighbor, who is in a position of some authority here, cordially scoffed at the codes currently in place—primarily at the volume of codes in place. I think most of our other neighbors would agree.

Generally, I think most Americans could agree that our government is far too big and invasive. There are some who think the government should be providing many services to all Americans, paid for by monies collected through taxes, but even those people know that the red tape bureaucracy is out of control. No one can figure out how to pay their taxes, or can possibly know in advance all of the laws, codes, regulations, etc that are on our local, state, and federal “books”.

Maybe it’s time for a Year of Jubilee?

It’s way past time.

What Jefferson was referencing in his “tree of liberty” comment was a defense of a rebellion in the United States as an understandable occurrence. (Note: he was not calling for people to overthrow their own governments here.) Those rebelling were uninformed (or under-informed) and the government in place had taken too much authority over its people. Jefferson saw this as a natural course of events, necessary to preserving liberty—from both sides: the people and the government. Had the people not rebelled, it would have revealed a lethargy in the people (both to seek out information, and then to act upon it) which would signify the death of liberty among them.4

The biggest obstacle to this is what Jefferson also stated in our own Declaration:

“…all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

We are reticent to make change. And those in power are often actively hindering it, usually for their own benefit, not that of the general population.

So it may be very out of the ordinary—it might even be next to impossible—but Jefferson nearly insisted that it must be done.

And I wholeheartedly agree.


Resources for further study: (Please do!)

  1. From a letter to James Madison, sent September 6th, 1789.
  2. The Declaration of Independence.
  3. Thomas Jefferson, letter to William S. Smith Paris, November 13th, 1787.
  4. Please read more of this letter. The whole thing in fact. It’s here.