Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


December 4, 2012

Lion and the Lamb: American history in the making

CROSSVILLE — This past month provided a number of key insights into who we are as a nation.

On a cold evening on Nov. 14 in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo noticed an older, barefooted homeless man walking on the freezing cement on his heels. Feeling compassion for the man, he asked him his shoe size and then went into a Skechers shoe store to buy some all-weather boots for him. The manager, moved by the officer's plan, offered to give him an employee discount, bringing the price down from $100 to $75. When the homeless man caught sight of the boots, he responded with much joy and gratitude. As the homeless man sat on the pavement and the officer put on the boots, a woman walking by happened to notice, and took a picture which was put on a Facebook page. It was then viewed 1.6 million times, warming hearts all over the world. Such acts of kindness are indeed commendable, but homelessness is also a larger social problem that calls for the attention of society. The homeless man, an army vet by the name of Jeffrey Hillman, was later seen wandering the streets again barefoot, afraid to wear his new boots for fear of being killed by a thief who wanted to steal the boots.

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, huge crowds surged into stores all over our country to take advantage of special sales and reduced prices. In a number of places customers were injured in the stampedes or from fistfights over items. Over the years we have been developing in our nation a powerful cult of consumption, believing that we can find greater satisfaction and wholeness through the things we buy and own. In fact, this is such a powerful dynamic that our Black Friday liturgies are now beginning already on Thanksgiving Day.

On November 28 the Powerball lottery jackpot reached $580 million, the second-largest payout in U.S. history. A huge number of people dreamed of winning and being able to pay off debts and mortgages, being able to retire early (or retire from being unemployed), paying for college, making donations to various charities, and taking a trip around the world or other kinds of vacations. Two ticket holders, one in Missouri and one in Arizona, had winning numbers. Previous winners, however, have not always found such new wealth a blessing. One of the chief purposes of such lotteries is to give people who have not benefited from their economic systems hope for a better future. This hope, however, would be better served by systems that provide better support and security for all of a nation's citizens. Then lotteries would no longer have their strong appeal.

We are presently engaged in a national debate about ways to avoid a "fiscal cliff" by the end of the year. The Republicans are arguing for keeping the giveaway Bush tax breaks for the super-rich, and even for lowering their tax rates. A large majority of voters, however, have indicated that we should keep the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, but not for the super-wealthy. At the center of this debate is lobbyist Grover Norquist who has gotten most Republicans to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. The practical effect of this is that the Republican legislators who have signed this pledge have become more beholden to the billionaires who are funding Norquist than to the constituents who have elected the legislators to represent them. One omen is that Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have stated that they will no longer view the pledge as restricting possible actions needed to resolve the fiscal crisis.

The film "Lincoln" is now showing in many movie theaters around the country, including Rocky Top in Crossville. This excellent film provides many important insights into the life and character of Abraham Lincoln. For many of us this national icon has too often remained frozen in the sculptures of the Lincoln Memorial and Mount Rushmore, lacking the flesh, blood, and grit of our nation's tense political battles. This film portrays the give-and-take sausage-making process of politics, and tells the story of how the Thirteenth Amendment came about. It includes a critical and tense moment when Republican House Majority Leader Thaddeus Stevens is pressured to indicate whether the proposed Thirteenth Amendment meant that "blacks were racial equals" or that they would only be recognized as "equals under the law." This was and still is a crucial question because many in our nation today have a serious problem with Obama being black.

What this all proves, I guess, is that American history is still an ongoing project.


Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

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