Friday, April 29, 2011

Soldiers Need Heaven to Face Hell

            There are no atheists in fox holes. 


    We all know what that means.


            When faced with the life and death crisis events of the battlefield, the human heart appeals to God for help.


            Now imagine the following:  A brave Marine is hit with an enemy round in Paktya Province in Afghanistan, waiting for reinforcements, alone behind an old horse wagon that offers him temporary protection.


            A Military Chaplain in the field somehow makes his way through the flying bullets to  the side of the seriously wounded American soldier.


            The Marine praises God, out loud, that the Chaplain is there to offer aid and consolation.


            The brave fighter asks the Chaplain if God will forgive his sins.


            The Chaplain replies that there is no God.  In fact, he tells the soldier that he is an "Atheist" Chaplain.


            If you are shocked and mortified by this sad tale, contact your congressman right away.


            The American Armed Forces, according to a recent report out of the Catholic News Agency, are being pressured to supply "Atheist Chaplains" in order to provide equal treatment for non-believers in the military.


            Political correctness runs amok.  Again.


U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio, a Catholic leader who has celebrated Mass at military bases all over the world, objects. 


            Broglio told the Catholic News Agency that he suspects the effort is just another atheist attack on traditional religion.


            Leaders of this bizarre idea say atheists feel marginalized because traditional chaplains create the presence of religion in the armed forces.


Marginalized?  Wrong word choice.  How about alone. Abandoned.  Despairing.


And not by the military.  Alone and abandoned by their own choice to disregard the obvious fact that we are all created by and depend on God.


I would feel pretty lousy about that if I were an atheist.  Especially in the face of young believers who march into battle knowing that whatever happens,  God has us in the palm of his hand.


So I agree with Bishop Broglio.


We can't let the prideful disregard of our Lord's grace and presence destroy the wonderful chaplain program that has been a central spiritual service to our fighting men and women for the last two hundred years.


Write  and call your congressman.  Atheist Chaplains are not chaplains at all.


They would constitute a sad removal of an element essential to the vast majority of our brave  young soldiers:  Faith.


There are no atheists in foxholes. 


 Deep believers are facing hell on earth to protect us.


They deserve this small connection to heaven that comes from a chaplain system that gives comfort to our armed forces when they need it most.       



David M. Lynch

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Government Murders Once Great Avenue

There is a sign up along Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland. Even though the sign is invisible, everyone who travels on Euclid Avenue can read it clearly.


The sign says  "Automobiles Stay Away".


And so today the once proud great downtown Euclid Avenue corridor has been murdered by our public officials.


The Euclid Avenue corridor project was supposed to breathe new life into one of the most important commercial sectors of downtown Cleveland.


However, the design and construction program running from Public Square East all the way up to University Circle discourages automobile traffic and unfortunately, this means that Clevelanders are avoiding Euclid Avenue like the plague.


First of all, the world's most imposing median strip has been constructed up-and-down Euclid Avenue. This median strip is not just a mere 6 inches in height. This median strip is much higher off the ground. In fact, you can injure yourself if you were to accidentally slip standing near its edge.


The new median strip appears to have been constructed to make absolutely certain that no one can turn left on Euclid Avenue into any of the various businesses. In addition, few intersections allow you to turn left even at a traffic light.


Automobile traffic is limited to one single lane in each direction. A new bus line encourages the use of public transportation by setting aside most of the surface on Euclid Avenue for specially designated bus only lanes.


Street parking is now  limited to just a few spaces.


The net result of this so-called forward-looking design is as follows: everyone avoids Euclid Avenue when  driving. You cannot easily arrive at a Euclid Avenue destination if you're behind the wheel.


Many businesses have disappeared because of this remarkable impact. The famous parades up-and-down Euclid Avenue are of course a  thing of the past because of the giant median strip.


Jane Herak, who operated a now shuttered restaurant just off E. 13th St. and Euclid Avenue, offers the following comment: "I have never before in my life seen a project that was so effectively designed to destroy the business life of a region."


There are legions of other business operators who agree with Jane but who are afraid to come forward because they fear retribution from the political establishment that wasted our tax dollars on this hairbrained project.  A bunch of eggheads  must have viewed the automobile as passe,  likely to disappear off the scene by the year 2011. 

They were right. At least on Euclid Avenue downtown, cars have disappeared because no one is stupid enough to try to navigate this impossible  stretch.  Unfortunately, viable small businesses on Euclid avenue are disappearing as well.


Years ago, Euclid Avenue was the toast of the town,  featuring the homes of people with names such as Rockefeller, Mather, Hannah, and Severance. Today, you can view it as a place where your political leadership spent $200 million to bury the commercial business community.  Welcome to Ghosttown, USA.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Face Of Desperation Haunts Me Still

In a dark box,  pushed into a corner of my past that I rarely visit, is a recollection that despite the passage of time, remains disturbingly vivid.


I tremble as I write this.


As a young law student, I interned with the police prosecutor's office in Cleveland one summer. It was common practice for a hopeful future prosecutor to spend the night with the police during third shift.


These days, many citizens have such an opportunity with many police departments as part of a "Citizens Police Academy".


I was assigned to ride with two seasoned cops, Jim Simone and Dave Sumskis.


Most of the night was spent responding to a couple of neighbor disputes and a hardware store break-in.


The three of us  stopped at a diner for a quick cup of coffee when the dispatcher radioed  reports of gunfire at a home just a few blocks away.


Just like in the movies, we dashed to the cruiser and were at top speed on the way to the residence in question.


What we found stops my heart cold to this very day.


A young man in his thirties, faced with a myriad of personal problems, took a high-powered rifle and killed his girlfriend, his brother and sister, and then shot himself in the head.


We were the first to arrive on the scene. The carnage was all over the front porch and the front yard, a body here and then two more over there.


And on the front sidewalk near the driveway was the poor tormented perpetrator, a victim of his inability to get help in a moment of crisis.


His body was intact but his head was not.


A portion of his head, the part containing his face from the upper chin to his forehead was laying on the sidewalk, bloody in the bright light of a full moon. It was like some kind of macabre Picasso painting. You know, where parts of faces appear in different places on the canvas.


This  face-bearing part of his head looked out into the world.


The eyes were wide open and staring out in  a frightening  look.


My mind, against my will, took a digital snapshot of that part of that face and it has haunted me ever since.


Those eyes.


They reflected a sense of desperation, hopelessness, and abandonment.


I went home that night and couldn't sleep. Many weeks went by before I could begin to tuck that vision far enough away into my subconscious before  peaceful sleep would come to me.


What did I really see that night? I'm not sure. The image is so disturbing that it's reappearance in my mind's eye prevents explanation,  emotion overwhelming analysis.


Alone. Unloved. Abandoned. Perhaps Calvary.


Hug your kids, hug your whole family, hug your dog, and live your life with gentle love.


There is horrible anger and hopelessness about. Let   gentle love permeate your life in all things, especially with those close to you.


Being right is never more important than being loving and trusting  in God.


Sumskis is dead of cancer. But I still see Simone every now and then  and he always gives me a warm knowing smile.


He knows that we are bound together by that moment and by that face.


A face that became a memory that won't go away.



Friday, April 8, 2011

Speaker Faces Grease Fire

A government shutdown is President Obama's best friend.


No matter who is to blame, Republicans will look like they don't have any feelings for those expecting Social Security Checks or American Soldiers bravely defending our interests on foreign soil.


Even if the Republicans are right to hold out for meaningful budget cuts (and they are right), they always lose the public relations war because millions of Americans have become dependent on the old eagle squatting every two weeks or so.


It's a strange modern media world here in America.  If you are right on an important principle you have to be willing to lose the media battle and look bad in the public eye.


Former Governor Strickland is looking back at last November's election and wistfully wondering what would have happened  if Senate Bill 5 had been around to galvanize labor when he ran for reelection.


Strickland knows that the media blitz mostly in favor of the democrats could have struck a mighty blow on his behalf, perhaps derailing the Kasich express.


If republicans are going to lose the government shutdown public relations bingo game, what can they do?


They have two choices.  One, compromise and live to fight another day.  Two, fight until the bitter end, causing shutdown and possibly reviving the sleeping giant of anti-republicanism that swept Obama and Strickland into office.


Number two is the moral and honorable way to go.  It also will allow plenty of freshman congressmen to keep their tea party pledge to hold the line on government spending.


Here's the problem.  Number two could also mean defeat in the big elections in 2012, which includes crucial legislative posts and of course, the Presidency.


Here's the real kicker.  If the republicans choose what some politicians might call the smart choice of compromising and fighting bigger battles in the future, the budget might continue growing.


A growing budget means more Americans even more dependent on the public largesse  than ever before.  More dependence on government money means even more difficulty in winning over the public in a budget war.


In other words, a smart compromise might mean it is more difficult to make cuts in the future.


It's kind of like throwing water on a grease fire.  It's supposed to put out the fire but it only makes things worse.                


So… do you give up your long term quest to end big government in favor of a short term but importantly symbolic victory on this temporary budget measure?


Not an easy question to answer, but nonetheless a question that will likely determine the direction of American politics for years to come.


Grease fires require fire extinguishers.  House Speaker John Boehner could use one right now.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Live Life without Lame and Lousy Language

    Man lives above the animal kingdom because we have hearts and minds and we express what is in our hearts and minds through words we speak.


                So, I ask, do you think about the words you speak ?


                Jack Parr got in trouble for using the letters " W. C" as an abbreviation of "water closet",  a euphemism meaning  toilet. This means that in 1960, you weren't allowed to use initials that stood for a word that referred to a commode.


                We've come a long way, baby. And not for the better.


                Radio and television are filled with the " S" word," A-hole" , and the ever- present and  barely bleeped  F bomb.


                Like lemmings, we have followed right along with the culture. 

                A few years ago, comedian George Carlin made a career out     Seven Dirty Words  you couldn't say on television. He told us to face the reality of modern language and avoid being" uptight" over mere words.


                I get it. They are mere words.


                And I realize that there is a place for reality. An accurate portrayal of characters in a  book or play  requires re-creating  language used by real people in real situations.


                But that doesn't mean you have to generate foul language in your own expression.


                When you use coarse language of any sort, manure comes out of your own mouth. And it lingers.


                So here's the scenario. You and I are talking.


    You tell me that you are P O'd at your landlord, who is such an a-hole and is full of bull-s____.


                Here's what I feel. Excrement just came out of your mouth and you have wiped a huge glob of that stink-filled cow pie on your sleeve.


                The sight and odor of it on you is distracting and I can't wait to get away from you.


                What comes out of you?


                The befuddled Mayor of the Music Man's fictional River City constantly intoned   " Watch Your Phraseology! "


                Watch your language.


                Are you so lacking in   imagination that you can only communicate from the same gutter that Howard Stern lives in?


                Are you a lady if you swear like a sailor, thinking it a badge of independence and feminism?


                Are you a man who is  "one of the boys" because you share offensive language with your friends? To me, being a man means having courage, integrity, and dedication to your family.


                What language do you use and what language do you tolerate in your own home?


                Look, I know what's in the world, but must we accept it? Do you embrace it just because it's out there?


                What issues forth from your lips tells us what's inside your heart.


                If you have the slightest tinge of regret when you hear your children swear, look in the mirror and see if you're not wearing some of the blame.


                It's not too late to take a stand. Make your heart the place of a verbal purity. Make your home a safe place for elegant expression.


                 Maybe even consider doing something about that open sanitary sewer pipe in your living room. Some people call it a television.


                Wipe that disgusting mess off your sleeve and talk to me from that wonderful soul inside you. It's going to be a great conversation.