Happy Saturday! This week some friends of ours are at the Grand Canyon, enjoying the magnificent views. When I was kid back in the day our family made the prototypical vacation trip west to visit relatives in Arizona and I’ll never forget how impressed I was with the western landscapes.
So here’s an old ad encouraging people to go to the Grand Canyon in a new 1904 Rambler. I’m not sure how good the roads were then, since the U.S. government didn’t even enact a plan for national highway construction until 1925 and the designation “66” wasn’t assigned to a Chicago to Los Angeles route until 1926. Heck, old Route 66 wasn’t even completely paved across the country until 1938. To say the least, a trip out west at the turn of the 20th century would have been a long and difficult adventure.
Who knows how far afield we’ll journey today, but at least we can probably find a paved road that will take us there. Come on, hop in and let’s ramble!
Secretary of State John Kerry took a longer trip last week, rambling across the Pacific to become the first Secretary of State ever to visit the atomic bomb memorial site at Hiroshima, Japan.
Kerry called it a “gut-wrenching” experience and said that everyone should see the museum there, including President Obama, who is due to visit Japan next month. Kerry joined ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan in laying wreaths at the site.
“Going through this museum was a reminder of the depth of obligation that every single one of us in public life carries — in fact, every person in position of responsibility carries — to work for peace,” Kerry said.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to see a dear friend from India who is here visiting folks around the U.S. Made me pull out some of the old pics from our journeys to that complex and mysterious land. Thought I’d share a few of them with you today. Most of these are from trips we took in the 1990’s.
“I put it in God’s hands. Someone asked me, did I pray before and my prayer really was God, your will be done. And I think that’s what happened. I think this was all God’s plan, God’s will. So to God be the glory,” said Sissac who celebrated with fist pumps in the air after he made the shot.
This was the reaction of Pastor Joseph Sissac, senior pastor at the Center of Praise Ministries in Sacramento after making a half-court shot at a recent Sacramento Kings game. The shot won the pastor a new car. But don’t call him lucky. The pastor had quipped in an earlier text message that he was hoping angels would take the ball through the hoop after he threw it up, and when asked about it afterwards, he said, “You know I think that’s exactly what happened.”
For a minute there I thought I was going to take a cheap shot at the prosperity gospel.
But then I read that Sissac decided to donate his winnings to charity. He won a $15,000 Ford Fiesta but announced Tuesday that he and his wife will chip in $2,000 and get a Ford Focus instead and raffle it off, hoping to raise $30,000. He plans to split the money between Center of Praise’s math and literacy camp and the Hoops to Hopes program, which focuses on education, homelessness and human trafficking.
The angel thing is still silly, but it sounds like the outcome will be Jesus-shaped.
The Los Angeles Times is saying that the organizers of Coachella, the lucrative rock festival that opened Friday, are making arrangements for a massive event to take place at a venue in the California desert on October 7-9.
The concert will reportedly include six of the biggest acts of the boomer generation — The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.
I’ll be turning 60 in less than a month, and I may just be too young for this concert!
Maybe they’ll let me in with a parent or guardian.
From CBS Chicago: A 76-year-old man who a prosecutor says was wrongly convicted a few years ago in the killing of an Illinois schoolgirl was released Friday shortly after a judge vacated his conviction. The 1957 case of the murder of Maria Ridulph had been the coldest cold case on record. Now it’s back in the cold case file.
Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago. In a review of documents last year, a prosecutor found evidence that supported the former policeman’s long-held alibi that he had been 40 miles away in Rockford at the time of Maria’s disappearance.
Maria’s disappearance made headlines nationwide in the 1950s, when reports of child abductions were rare. She had been playing outside in the snow with a friend on Dec. 3, 1957, when a young man approached, introduced himself as “Johnny” and offered them piggyback rides. Maria’s friend dashed home to grab mittens, and when she came back, Maria and the man were gone. Forest hikers found her remains five months later.
McCullough’s long-held alibi was that he had been in Rockford, attempting to enlist with the U.S. Air Force at a military recruiting station, on the night Maria disappeared. Newly discovered phone records proved McCullough had made a collect call to his parents at 6:57 p.m. from a phone booth in downtown Rockford, which is 40 miles northwest of where Maria was abducted between 6:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.
Maria Ridulph’s family has said that they remain convinced of his guilt.
Justice may have been served in the case of Jack McCullough, but a little girl’s blood is still crying out from the ground nearly sixty years after her death.
Here’s something right where I live and work each day.
First: Patients and their families increasingly want to talk about end-of-life care with their physicians well before facing a terminal illness, studies have shown. Most also want to die at home rather than in a hospital, although cultural differences influence end-of-life preferences.
Second: Medicare now reimburses doctors $86 to discuss end-of-life care in an office visit that covers topics such as hospice, living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders. Known as “advance care planning,” the conversations can also be held in a hospital.
Third: A recent poll suggests doctors are having a hard time having these discussions. A national poll of 736 primary care doctors and specialists, including 202 in California, examined their views on advance care planning and end-of-life conversations with patients. Among the findings:
- While 75 percent of doctors said Medicare reimbursement makes it more likely they’d have advance care planning discussions, only about 14 percent said they had actually billed Medicare for those visits.
- Three quarters also believe it’s their responsibility to initiate end-of-life conversations.
- Fewer than one-third reported any formal training on end-of-life discussions with patients and their families.
- More than half said they had not discussed end-of-life care with their own physicians.
Kaiser Permanente in Northern California is a health care system that doesn’t shy away from the subject. There, physicians receive training in end-of-life discussions and have time to carry them out, said Dr. Ruma Kumar, the HMO’s regional medical director of supportive care services. Kaiser Permanente looks to nurse practitioners, registered nurses and social workers to work with patients on various stages of what the HMO calls “life care planning.” The HMO also offers a website to guide people through the process.
Kumar said Kaiser encourages both doctors and patients to think of end-of-life planning “as a routine part of care, just like you’d get a mammogram or colon cancer screening.”
As far as I am concerned, that’s just good stewardship of one’s health and of one’s family’s well being.
Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Christian, vetoed legislation on Thursday that would have made the Bible the state’s official book.
In his decision, Haslam said that the designation would trivialize the Bible, which he considers a sacred text, and would violate the religious freedom provisions of the both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions.
“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” the Republican governor said. “If we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book.”
Supporters have argued that the designation would highlight the economic and historical impact the Bible has had on Tennessee, noting that printing the Bible is a “multimillion-dollar industry” for the state. Opponents argued the bill formalized a governmental endorsement of Christianity, while others, like Haslam, argued the move would trivialize the Bible by placing it next to the tomato — the state fruit — and raccoon — the state animal.
Sponsors of the bill plan to override the veto. It would take only a simple majority in both houses of the Tennessee legislature to do that.
James Dobson never was one for analysis and nuance. Pretty blunt and straightforward, that guy. His January 2016 newsletter, edited into a slightly less alarmist opinion piece for Christianity Today, warns America of the terrible consequences of “under-population,” and it is fully in character.
Americans are starting to realize, perhaps for the first time, that we are facing a demographic nightmare. Our problem is not too many people but a plummeting birthrate. There are more single women today than those who are married, and the birthrate has been declining steadily. If it were not for immigration, this nation would be below zero population growth.
…Historically, children and young adults have greatly outnumbered the old and feeble. Those of a marriageable age have produced a vigorous birthrate for 300 years, which continually swelled the size of the population. Most of the elderly, on the other hand, had a short lifespan and were dying faster than babies were born. Thus, the population has been depicted as a pyramid, with the young being represented across its broad base and fewer older individuals nestled at the pinnacle. Now, we’re witnessing an inversion of the pyramid, where there are many more older people at the bottom and a smaller number of younger people and babies at the top.
A falling birthrate is occurring throughout Europe, parts of Asia, in Central and South America, and elsewhere. This inversion is a worldwide phenomenon.
Well, Tobin Grant at RNS has taken Dobson to task, calling his piece “so factually and logically flawed” that he had to respond. Here, in bullet points, are his answers to Dobson’s claims (read the article for argumentation and details).
- Even without immigration, the replacement rate in the United States continues to be high enough to increase the population.
- The birthrate has not been declining steadily.
- There never has been nor is there now an “inverted pyramid” of population. Instead:
- In every year, there are fewer older people than younger people. There’s never an inverted pyramid.
- Changes occur during times of war. Watch the number of 18-24 year old men change during World War I and World War II.
- Economics drives procreation. Starting in the late 1920s and continuing until the post-WWII gains in the economy, there are relatively fewer number of young children.
- Then comes the baby boom.
- There is a relative decline in children in the 1960s, but then it stabilized.
- Today, there is a leaf-pattern, a pyramid except for the higher numbers from the baby boom.
James Dobson has even written a trilogy of novels with under-population as a primary theme. They’re called “Fatherless, Childless, and Godless, and they present a fictional account of what he thinks current demographic, sociological, and cultural trends portend.
Folks, it’s all fiction.
Hey U.S. readers, did you file your taxes yet?