Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Chick-Fil-A debacle - or what happens when news organizations create rather than report the story

The views expressed in this story are not necessarily those of management or any of its affiliates.
Make certain you read that first paragraph correctly.  This is commentary.  Social commentary, to be exact, with a mix of political commentary thrown in for seasoning.  It is me expressing my opinion.  It is an observation – my observation, not to put too fine a point on it – of the recent media circus surrounding willful deception on the part of the media in reporting the Chick-Fil-A non-story.  I’m not articulating the views of, Google, Microsoft Word (with which I wrote the article) or any other entity either expressed or implied.  Okay.  We clear on that?  Ready?  Here it goes.
The Chick-Fil-A story as originally reported by CNN is a fabrication created by a liberal media determined to use whatever means and tools at its disposal, to distract American voters from realizing how badly President Obama and his administration have mishandled pretty much everything in their reach, since being elected in 2008.  Let’s face it honestly and objectively: if you’re busy being caught up in the Chick-Fil-A story, you’re not focusing on things like the national unemployment rate (8.2%), the nation’s abysmal economic growth (1.2%) the fact that America is still waiting for Obama’s FIRST budget (almost four years into his presidency), the drastically increased number of Americans now on some sort of Federal subsidy (food stamps, etc.) or Washington’s out of control spending.  We’re too busy debating a comment from a private business owner that he never actually made!
That’s right.  You read that correctly.  Dan Cathy NEVER said as much as a single negative word in his interview with Baptist Press (original story here) about the LGBT lifestyle or its participants.  That is an out of context extrapolation of a marginally related implication, itself not part of Baptist Press’s interview or Mr. Cathy’s response. 
Read it for yourself.  What follows is the exact, word for word transcription of the part of the interview that has polarized Americans to the point that mayors of large American cities are taking idiotic stands on the non-existent issue, and rallies are being planned around the county to both boycott and support Chick-Fil-A over a comment Owner Dan Cathy never gave as an answer to a question he was never asked. Here it is:
“The company invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation ( The name comes from the idea of shaping people to be winners.
It began as a college scholarship and expanded to a foster care program, an international ministry, and a conference and retreat center modeled after the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
"That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries," Cathy added.
Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
"We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that," Cathy emphasized.”
"We intend to stay the course," he said. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."*
Dan Cathy was NOT asked his opinion or stand with regard to the LGBT lifestyle choice, from either s personal or professional point of view.
Dan Cathy did not mention the LGBT lifestyle choice in his answer to the questions given during his interview.
In fact, ALL Mr. Cathy DID do was agree to assertion that he was trying to run his company according to Biblical principles, as he understands them, and that he, as an individual, espouses the Biblical definition of marriage, which is between a man and a woman.
The topic of the LGBT lifestyle was NEVER mentioned in any of the questions or answers.  I can’t emphasize that enough.  It simply was not part of the discussion.
Not, that is, until CNN got ahold of the transcript, saw the words, “"Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position. "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit.”, lifted them from the context of the interview, and extrapolated them into an anti-homosexual attack that was never part of the story.
Now, I have to ask myself – why would a respect news agency intentionally skew a story like this, intentionally creating a firestorm response to an issue that did not exist?  Was it just a slow day in Atlanta, the location of CNN’s world headquarters? When did the mission statement at CNN change from ‘report’ the news to ‘dude – POTUS is looking bad – Americans are starting to notice – get busy and distract them even if you have to fabricate it.  Find a hot-button topic that liberals will blindly follow without questioning, and if you can, find a way to pin the blame on ‘Dubya’.”
That’s exactly what’s going on here, my friends – all but the ‘blame it on Dubya’ part.  Guess they were in too much of a hurry.
Make no mistake.  The plan is working.  While we are all busy chasing media fabricated bunny trails, we’re not focusing on America’s real problems.
And when that’s happening, our nation is still tanking.
Is there an issue to debate somewhere in here about the GLBT lifestyle/Biblical lifestyle?  Perhaps, but boys and girls, this ain’t it.
Shame on you CNN, and shame on ALL the local and national outlets who picked up this assemblage of smoke and mirrors and ran with it without bothering to check the facts. Perhaps CNN actually stands for Contrived National News.
*( quotations taken from an article originally published in Baptist Press, posted on Jul 16, 2012 | by K. Allan Blume/Biblical Recorder.  ©2012 Baptist Press and the Southern Baptist Convention, all rights reserved.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romancing the Bone

“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.Genesis 2:18, 21-24 NKJV

I really wanted to do a clever, witty take on the title of the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner film, “Romancing the Stone”, but I couldn’t find a legitimate word for wife that rhymes with ‘stone’.  So, in the end I went with ‘bone’, hoping that with the addition of the Bible passage in which God himself proclaims that He took one of Adam’s ribs (i.e., a bone) and from that bone, created a woman/wife/spouse/helper/partner suitable for him.
I want you to note that all of those words (woman/wife/spouse/helper/partner suitable for him) are implied in the original text, very specific, and rich with theological, cultural, practical, and anthropological meaning.  From the very beginning of humankind on this planet it has always been God’s intention that the partnership we call marriage consist of a man and a woman, and that neither is superior to the other.  They are partners of equal standing in the relationship.  The phrase “ comparable to him” (êzer neged in the original Hebrew) literally means ‘equal counterpart.  That this equal counterpart is of the female gender is undeniably precise in any language.
That, however, is not the particular rabbit I want to chase this morning. 
I’m a child of the 50’s.  That means the television in my formative years showed families in which ‘father knew best,’ children obeyed and respected their parents, and husbands romanced their wives.  They bought them flowers and chocolates.  They opened doors for them and helped them put their coats on.  They held chairs, said please and thank you, and while Rob and Laura Petry slept in separate beds, they did show their affection for each other.
We used pen and paper to send ‘text messages’ even if our handwriting was undecipherable.  Typing a ‘love letter’ was impersonal.
The men of ‘my day’ (my father, grandfathers, uncles, etcetera) for the best part married their special someone, stayed married to her, and treated her respectfully.  Yes, I know there were exceptions.  As someone once said, “I’m crazy but I’m not stupid.”  My role models told their wives face to face that they love her.  They didn’t post an impersonal ‘hey love u babe – ur the gr8test’ status update on facebook, that looks more like they’re trying to convince themselves than the object of their badly spelled, grammatically incorrect affection.
On the other hand, given that these 21st century Casanovas only have individuals the likes of Bart and Homer Simpson, Roseann Barr, Charlie Sheen, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Karsashian and the glitter encrusted vampires of Twilight fame to emulate, perhaps such impersonal dribble is 21st century romance.
Perhaps to these children of the 80’s and 90’s, telling your 694 ‘friends’ that you love your wife is enough.  I don’t know.
What I DO know is that I tell MY WIFE how I feel.  I make it a point to communicate my affection to and for her, face to face as many times in a day – every day –  that circumstances allow.  If the circumstances don’t fall in line naturally, I try to create them so I can both show her by my actions and tell her with my words that I love her more than any human being alive on this planet or any other.
The writer of Proverbs said in chapter thirty one that the man who finds a virtuous wife has found someone whose worth is more valuable than  that of precious stones.  It says of this woman, that :
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Proverbs 31: 28-30 NKJV

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul instructs husbands that they should cherish and nurture their wife and, should the circumstance arise, be willing to lay down his life for her.
Guys, here’s my point.  Your wife is special.  She is a precious gem.  A friend once said “if you’ve been married five years or more and you’re not happy with your wife, you’re doing something wrong.  You’re not following the Biblical precepts.”  Every human being is responsible for their own individual choices, but I think this idea has merit.  Good marriages don’t just happen – you have to work at them.  Both of you.
A wise man once asked me what I thought about this whole marriage thing.  I answered “It’s a 50-50 proposition.”  He told me in return, “If you really believe that, I don’t give it 6 months.  If you’re serious about making it last, you both have to give 100% percent to your wife/husband 100% of the time and expect nothing in return.  If you do that – you’ll be getting so much you won’t notice how much you’re giving.”
I met my wife 9 years ago this month.  We’ll be married eight years come October.  I’m getting so much I’m really not aware of what I’m giving, other than that for nine years now I’ve made every effort to romance my wife – to tell her as often as possible how much I love, respect, and appreciate her.
I know how precious my special jewel is, and I know how fortunate I am to have found her.  This week, she will celebrate a birthday.  She’ll be twenty years older than she actually looks.  Yeah, I know – it’s tough to bear that cross.
I don’t know what she sees in me or why she’s sticking it out, but I’m sure glad she is, and furthermore, I’m not going to post a status update to tell her.  It’s far more effective to whisper it in her ear while slipping her a chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Hero's Welcome

Maria Johnson welcomes son,
 Army  Sgt, Ryan Clarke
 home from Afghanistan.
There was a giddy nervousness about her, not unlike a school girl fidgeting about before her first date, and a blind date at that. At least that was the impression this wound up mother of three gave in the final moments before piling into two cars with her two younger sons, her husband, mother-in-law and a smattering of family friends, and headed down the Suncoast Parkway to Tampa international Airport (TIA) where, after nearly two years of silence and a tour in the heat teaming deserts of Afghanistan, her oldest child, Army Sergeant Ryan Clarke was finally coming home.
Maria Letner Johnson, West Pasco Chamber of Commerce Membership Director by day, Pampered Chef consultant by night, and full time concerned Mom to an overseas serviceman, oozed anticipation and restlessness fiddling for toll booth change, bubbled with excitement that ‘her boy’ was coming home.
But it wouldn’t go smoothly for the Land ‘O Lakes, Florida resident and her supporting entourage.
They were met at the roof level parking lot at TIA by Members of the Tampa branch of PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS, a motor cycle club made up of veterans of the Viet Nam War and other military conflicts, waiting, flags in hand, to join in the salute.
They were met at the gate by representatives of Sand Soldiers of America, a non-profit organization serving veterans, active troops and military families, on hand to welcome Sgt. Clarke home, and make a presentation to him.  Pasco County District 5 Commissioner, Jack Mariano waited with the nervous Mom and her slowly growing group, offering his support, not, he said, as a politician, but as a neighbor and friend.  Commissioner Mariano remained by Maria’s side throughout the flight delays, canceling other meetings to do so.
The flight from Louisiana VIA Houston was due to arrive at 10:20 AM.  At 11:00 the boards were updated to say the flight was delayed.  Again at 11:15, 11:30 and 11:45.
 Finally, at 11:50 a frantically pacing Military Mom reached into her pocket for her ringing cell phone.  “Hi Mom,” the voice in her ear said. “We just touched down and should be at the gate in about ten minutes.”
You could see the look of relief in her now teary eyes as she shouted to the crowd now grown to nearly a hundred, including total strangers who were passing by, heard why they were here, and joined into the celebration slowing growing at gate eighteen in TIA’s ‘A’  concourse.  “He’s here!  He’s here!  He’s here!”
One of the groups of strangers consisted of elementary school aged members of a local Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) group visiting the airport on a field trip.   These excited kids quickly and enthusiastically joined the party, each taking a small US flag and waving it every time a shuttle from the gate to the concourse terminal arrived.
It was nearly noon when finally, after several false alarms, one more shuttle arrived.  The doors on the left side shuttle landing opened and the tired passengers disembarked.
One of the last in the group was a short haired, neatly shaved all-american kid in a grey T-shirt and khaki shorts.  As he walked down the concourse entryway, you could see the spark of recognition turn into a slowly growing big toothy grin as the sounds of over a hundred people chanted “Sergeant Clarke!...Sergeant Clarke!...Sergeant Clarke!”
Then it happened. The burst of applause as even more strangers joined in welcoming an American hero home from Afghanistan.  The Patriot Guard Riders snapped to attention, popped a crisp salute, and held their full sized American flags out as an impromptu color guard honoring this young returning hero.
And a tearful mother wrapped the son she had not seen in over two years in her arms while the crowd of joyful onlookers clapped, cheered, and cried with her.
For his part, this humble young man warmly and appreciatively thanked everyone who had come to greet him – after giving his younger brothers a half-hearted scolding for not warning him about all this.
Sergeant Ryan Clarke is a young man about whom America and Pasco County can be proud.  Humble in his appreciation of what was going on and at the same time uncomfortable that people were making such a fuss over him!
And Mom, well she’s walking on clouds.
“My family is now complete.” She said through teary eyes as she hugged all three sons for what was a small eternity.
Sergeant Ryan Clarke, US Army, welcome home!  We salute you, and wholeheartedly thank you for your service to your – and our – nation!  God Bless and protect you, Sergeant Clarke, and God Bless the United States of America!