Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


May 29, 2012

LION AND THE LAMB: Two choices before us

CROSSVILLE — This week started off with two historic commemorations—a religious event that turned political, and a political event that turned religious.  

On this past Sunday churches around our country celebrated the birthday of the Christian church. On the fiftieth day after Easter (Pentecost), followers of the man who had been crucified as subversive by the Roman Empire were gathered together in Jerusalem, and were empowered by God's Spirit to continue the alternative community that he had established. Rejecting the Roman system of economic inequality, they decided to share their wealth so that all could have their basic needs met (Acts 2). This was considered subversive and socialistic by the Romans with their trickle down system, but many in the 99 percent found it good news and joined Jesus' alternative community.

Today we find the same debate going on in our nation. The Republican House budget bill, to protect tax breaks for the rich and inflate military spending, aims to cut $310 billion from vital domestic social programs such as food stamps, health care, child care assistance, school lunch funding, Head Start, and aid for older people with disabilities.

Republican Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chair, has said that his budget plan of cutting anti-poverty programs and helping people get out of poverty and dependency into a life of independence was inspired by the teachings of his Catholic faith. In response, however, nearly ninety faculty members and priests at Georgetown, the Jesuit university in Washington, sent him the following letter:

"We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs to struggling families, radically weakening protections for the elderly and sick, and gives tax breaks to the wealthiest few. Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

On Monday a second historic commemoration took place—Memorial Day observances by communities all across our nation. Originally called "Decoration Day," this observance started out in the South in 1865 as a day of remembrance for those who had died in the Civil War. The idea then spread to the North, and in 1868 was named "Memorial Day" by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. An estimated 750,000 died in that terrible war. Later, in 1950, a Joint Resolution of Congress provided a religious context for the observance of the day: "Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a nationwide prayer for peace." (64 Stat. 158)

As one might imagine, the breadth of this concern has greatly increased over the years. It has been estimated that U.S. war dead from our 1775 War of Independence through all our other wars and military sorties to the present comes to approximately 1,300,000. We don't know what the future might hold for us since it appears that we are now in a state of permanent war. Our longest war ever, the current Afghanistan War, continues to produce many casualties, both in terms of death and permanent injuries.

The costs to our common wealth and common good over the years have been huge. We now spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. We have about 700 military bases in 130 countries worldwide, and another 6,000 bases in the U.S. and our territories. According to research analysts at the National Priorities Project, our overall military costs budgeted for fiscal year 2013 will come to $931 billion. It also reports that the U.S. has spent nearly $8 trillion on defense since 9/11. Funds to underwrite these costs have been taken from our domestic needs in health care, education, employment development, cultural resources, and environmental sustainability.

Maintaining an empire is expensive. It will also require the soul of our nation.

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  • 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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