Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I'm sorry, I just can't stop ranting,

and this time it's not about the presidency. It's about us, and our selfishness and concern for our only comfort and convenience that we failed to do all we can to help save the planet for posterity. Thus I become cynical and yearn for the old days. Oh, I know they were anything but the "good ole' days" for far too much of our population – African-Americans, Native Americans and those of a minority sexual orientation.  While I recognize we have ways to go  in those areas,I am truly amazed by the progress we have made since my growing up in Texas in the depression years. But for most of the "other" Americans it was a time of commitment to a cause and ready to deny ourselves for the good of the world as we saw it.  For us a much larger middle-class it was a relaxed and comfortable way of life.

I say this because I have been pondering a recent article in the Washington Post, "The inevitable climate solution." It was written by two former presidential cabinet members, one Republican and one Democrat, George P. Shultz and Lawrence H. Summers.  While I must admit that while I didn't understand the technicalities of their position, I was not prepared for the statement that follows

This approach ensures that working-class Americans
benefit financially.
Because energy use rises with income and the dividend
would be equal for all.
The Treasury Department estimates that the bottom 70% of Americans would be better off
with the carbon dividend plan.

How many of us "liberal activists" fall into that category? We are the selfish major destroyers of the environment. I'm appalled at how often we fail to follow the simple practices that scientific studies – from proper waste disposal to excessive use of plastic water bottles and the thousands of other proven environmentally wise practices.

I truly believe that too many of us in, or nearing that 30%, who have been content to exert our energies toward the ballot box and selfishly pursued our own comfortable lifestyle. In doing so we have failed to join what I am still convinced are the majority of Americans who want a more civil, sharing country and world that cares for more than our own comfort and the future of the world.

I wonder what sort of revolutionary spirit to join us in such an enterprise? Personally I still have hope and faith that this idealistic, committed younger generation can move us in this direction.

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's hard to muse at 92*

when one is a bit "under the weather", and does not have enough intellectual strength to work on the rant he would REALLY like to produce.  Thus it feels strange to merely add my "two cents worth" during this, one of the most perilous times I have witnessed in my almost century of life.

I've already disclosed my predilection to fall back to personal clichés. (I recall that in answering the thousands of Reddit questions during the past two years, I was asked about the use of idioms and clichés from my era.) I think they are more expressive of ones feelings than the computieze and tweets of today.  So I shall continue to do so.

The one that has come to mind first relates to the "chickens coming home to roost."  And I think that relates to "one reaps what one sows." Certainly the "Liar in Chief" was telling the truth when he stated he "knew how to make deals". And this is what we have gotten, a dealmaker who casts aside established rules, protocols and commitments as well as moral rectitude to achieve victory for himself over anyone or anything standing in his way.

I'm affronted by his being seen throughout the world as speaking for my/our country. Through his caustic divisiveness, he has turned back the progress of  human and civil rights made in my lifetime.  He has personified and resurrected the image of the "Ugly American" throughout the world that millions have worked for years to overcome.   I am personally dismayed as an educator that our educational system failed in its responsibility to educate a thoughtful citizenry that would so  easily fall prey to the hollow promises of someone who represents the worst of the American character.

Through the years our country has achieved a vaunted reputation identified as "American Exceptionalism". In spite of our "sins" a reputation has been built and accepted by many throughout the world that our countries' leadership has had a positive influence in ameliorating suffering and leading the nations of the world toward peace.

Yet in far too many cases this leadership has been undermined by actions and moral failures that have "come home to roost."  I sincerely believe that for many reasons – from selfishness to the speed of change – we have begun to lose our way and must return to re-committing ourselves to human values that reflect a concern for the welfare of all races and religions.  "Globalism" is not a newly coined word or concept.  Republican candidate for president in 1940, Wendell Willkie's  book, ONE World joined the pronouncements of President Roosevelt in recognizing our role in leadership toward world peace through the United Nations.

And that's why I'm hopeful that I'll feel better soon to complete the one topic "weighing heavy on my heart". Of course I had to end with a cliché.

Ron Lehker

*I know I'm only 91, but I like the rhythmic effect.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The beauty of each day

I know, I know, it sounds rather Pollyannaish, or perhaps it's the "affliction" of old age, but hardly a day goes by that I don't see acts of love, charity or beautiful acts of kindness from strangers on the street. This came to me particularly last Wednesday as I was coming home from my volunteer job at the White House Visitors Center. My aching back was living up to its name in the 92° heat, and the "walk" sign said I had to wait 62 seconds before crossing the street. I could see that the other side of the street was in the blistering sun while I was in the shadow of a building. Consequently I leaned against a light post with my left arm while holding my cane in my right. I must've looked like Charlie Chaplin in the movie "City Lights". In a matter of seconds a young woman came to me to offer me a drink of water.

And it wasn't too long ago that I was riding the escalator, bent down and rested my arm on the rubber moving banister. How thoughtful of someone to ask if I were okay and offered to help me.  And each day people smile and say "hello".

So much of our lives are filled with anxiety with much of it induced by the national political scene and traumatic events around the world constantly on display. Yet with time to look around and not be fixated on a smart phone, I am impressed each day with the friendliness and greetings I receive from people as I walked down the street.

Louis Armstrong said it quite succinctly:

                                           "What A Wonderful World"

I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying,
"I love you".

I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more,
Than I'll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What do you consider to be the invention that has most changed American lifestyle in your 90 years?

"What do you consider to be the invention that has most changed American lifestyle in your 90 years?"

I vacillated a great deal as I answered this question many many times on Reddit's AMA. At first I felt it was the automobile which provided unimagined mobility and then, coupled with the interstate highway, made suburbs possible. Then it was the rapid development of aircraft which truly made our world the "One World" as predicted in Republican presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie in his book of 1936. And optimist that I am, I at one time thought it was the United Nations to assure lasting peace.  Of course television completely revolutionized our entertainment and along with yer-round team sports almost completely changed family structure. Further on the social scale,  I've personally felt that American family life was dramatically changed after World War II.  Before that time – even in the lower middle-class families like mine  – only (generally) fathers worked and mothers stayed at home.  

Now, after reading a pre-publication copy of Franklin Foer's "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech," there is no question in my mind that the most dramatic change and one that is still growing is the Computer/Internet.  (Full disclosure – Frank is my partner Linda Greenfelder's son-in-law.)  I'd already begun to be influenced by young people to the marvels of the computer age. How convenient to be able to type letters by talking on my Dragon dictation device and send emails.  My suspicions of the magnitude of change wrought by computers/Internet increased with the election, Now Frank's book opened my eyes to the dangers that have accompanied this truly earthshaking, human behavior changing phenomenon.

Some of you may recall my last/last rant when I set aside ranting to work on a major thought trend of mine. It's listed below. And now Frank's book gives me another tangent to consider.

"But as I discontinue weekly rantings, I'll give my attention to preparing a major write-up on a topic of lifetime concern to me personally. It relates somewhat to the insightful book of Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone". In it he calls attention to the fact that a great many of the social organizations that have unified our country have now been lost. And for me personally this includes the continuing decline of the effectiveness of the three institutions that have had the greatest impact on my life: the family, the public school and churches. Certainly the family and schools have received a great deal of attention. Yet while religion has increasingly played a predominant role in worldwide affairs, a major development in America has been a continuing decline in church attendance – particularly by young people. Indeed I have seen it in my own family and understand fully the rationale for this phenomenon. I hope that my personal observations will be of value to others in considering this topic: i believe that religion has played a major role in creating the problems of humankind, but i believe that it can provide a way to solve the problems.  I hope to enlarge on this by showing how my religious/philosophical concepts have changed in my 91 years so that religion can be seen in a new light as a place for adding meaning and purpose to ones life and increasing the opportunity for world peace.   

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I thought things might be better!

With two weeks away on vacation from the "swamp" without a computer and television, I thought I might stop ranting and raving! But I see things haven't changed and I find myself somewhat depressed about my country that appears to be so rudderless for the next four years. Never in my 91 years have I felt so concerned for the welfare of our country. And so I must still occasionally speak my piece. 

Earlier I had thought that we had elected a clown.  But now I realize that it is so much worse.  The man is a charlatan, a con man.  And my fellow Americans have fallen for him.  And should a likely impeachment occur, I fear as much a man who follows him like a puppet and espouses Christian virtues that I do not recognize.  

And I can only wonder what the reaction of those concerned about the welfare of children on the playground of the Trinity Lutheran School in Missouri would have been had it been a playground for Muslim children?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A few things that come to mind as I take time off to focus on what's REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME


     I've spent two weeks alone while Linda has been in California where her 98-year-old mother died. Being alone I became absorbed in current issues as never before as I spent too much time with CNN, MSNBC and - for balance - even a bit of Fox News.
     While one had to be pleased with the defeat of the "alleged" money-saving healthcare proposal of the Republican Party, the fiasco totally exposed the paucity of Trump's leadership style. It was obvious he knew nothing about healthcare, he is only a wheeler/dealer making deals. He has no plans for anything other than building a wall.
     The further tragedy is that his bravado postings and his lies distract us from important issues regarding our nation's welfare. He is indeed THE MASTER DISTRACTOR!  Certainly one of the first of these concerns the environment: an area where we had made so much progress during the Obama administration.
     So that's one of my two articles - briefly relating to the the environment. While of course there are national and worldwide projects underway, I continue to believe there are many things that individual citizens are overlooking in their daily lives where we can both show our concern and have an impact. Thus I was quite disappointed that in my (mostly youthful) audience I received but one response to my request for practical thoughts and ideas about how we might have an impact:


That person's response included:

1) Go vegan/vegetarian.
2) Donate to organizations which work in this field ( (as frequently as possible)
3) Buy less. Not necessarily local, because that does not necessitate the product being greener. 
4) Fix what is broken.
5) Take public transport, if feasible. Saves you money too.
5) Spread the word - as you are!

While I realized that folks are busy, I had hopes that some might be challenged to think about this and make suggestions or have access to an environmental organization that has such a list. Indeed I began mine with these simple things:

1. Turn off all lights and appliances when not needed
2, Take showers rather than baths and then limit the time and number per week
3. Don't use more than one plastic bottle a week.
4. Walk to anything less than a mile away.
6. Flush the toilet only "when really necessary".
7. Use public transportation as much as possible,
8. Use both sides of paper whenever possible
9. And my pet peeve, that EVERYONE should work on: why is it that for over 40 years not a single state has been added to the list of states that have enacted a bottle deposit bill.  Coming from Michigan, I know how well it can work.  But it only works in the ten states that have it.  Having studied it for many years I know it is defeated only through lies of bottling companies.   Here is a topic that youth (high school debate societies) could engage in for study and meaningful dialogue.  Most enlightened countries have VERY strict and effective laws.  We have had a Container Recycling Institute advocating the passage of such laws since 1991 and only one state has been added (and one dropped).  It almost makes one think that they are there only to make us THINK we are doing something about it.  Surely here is a topic we can all do more about.  My concern is that we have become so enamored with protests and demonstrations that we fail to do the sustaining work that can make a difference.

But as I discontinue weekly rantings, I'll give my attention to preparing a major write-up on a topic of lifetime concern to me personally. It relates somewhat to the insightful book of Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone". In it he calls attention to the fact that a great many of the social organizations that have unified our country have now been lost. And for me personally this includes the continuing decline of the effectiveness of the three institutions that have had the greatest impact on my life: the family, the public school and churches. Certainly the family and schools have received a great deal of attention. Yet while religion has increasingly played a predominant role in worldwide affairs, a major development in America has been a continuing decline in church attendance – particularly by young people. Indeed I have seen it in my own family and understand fully the rationale for this phenomenon. I hope that my personal observations will be of value to others in considering this topic: i believe that religion has played a major role in creating the problems of humankind, but i believe that it can provide a way to solve the problems.  I hope to enlarge on this by showing how my religious/philosophical concepts have changed in my 91 years so that religion can be seen in a new light as a place for adding meaning and purpose to ones life and increasing the opportunity for world peace.   

I'll continue my weekly DC culture blog except when I am on vacation. I'll use it and other media to tell when my last ranting/rave is completed.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Coping with distractions and frustrations

This week I've been distracted by the feeling that I am living in an Orwellian world. That a dictatorial force has taken over my life/the nation/the world. I/we've allowed this force – through its lies and distractions - to create mayhem and distrust.

Or perhaps that's just an excuse for my not having had time to compile and prepare the responses from last week's questionnaire about THE TEN MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THE AVERAGE CITIZEN CAN DO DAILY TO PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT.  I'm still working to compile them

Thus the best thing I can do is to refer you to last week's topic as I sincerely feel our nation is in the most perilous state I seen it in my 91 years. And encourage you to join me in seeking out valid/reputable news sources, express our views appropriately and find time from patience and wisdom through meditation (or whatever) can provide balance for our lives.

And if you haven't done so, I encourage you to check out the last posstings



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some advice for the president! - That could also change the public's view of mental health service!

Once again I've had to change the major focus of my rant this week. I made the mistake of intensely watching the various television news outlets including Fox all week. And I feel compelled to offer the advice that I was reluctant to give a previous president who I feel caused us Democrats to lose three elections because of his dalliance with an intern.

President Trump needs to see a psychiatrist in my opinion!  Certainly from his behavior during the campaign and recent tweets from the White House, this should be obvious to any astute mental health observer. For me it was underscored as I listened to his recent Nashville "campaign" speech and appalled by the similarity it had with two European dictators I personally heard on the radio some 75 years, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. The same folksy, caustic prancing before adoring followers.  And I have also read about the wild exploits of Napoleon Bonaparte who also barged ahead without thoughtful reliance on knowledgeable advisers.  .

Think of the positive effect it would have on a society that still looks down upon anyone with a mental illness – especially an illness now so easily treated with proper counseling and medication. Indeed I felt this way during the presidency of Bill Clinton. What an example he might've set for seeking treatment for his very obvious reprehensible behavior in his relationship with a White House intern. It was however rather common knowledge to anyone, particularly those of us in the Beltway, that he at least was receiving counseling from spiritual and other advisers. Oh that I could see evidence that President Trump is following a similar course.


And it's even more important now that we have seen the president's proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency! How often we overlook, or don't know of the simple things that we as individual citizens could do. We've gotten extremely good at rallies and protests but it is also time for us to take our care and love of the earth to heart and do what we can to overcome the failings of our government. So often we think only in terms of grandiose projects that must be done to save our fragile world. We have little specific knowledge of daily steps that we could do to conserve energy and preserve the environment. I know that in the Washington area particularly there are many Think Tanks devoted to the environment.  Have they advise to me/us?  Perhaps a check list with which we could remind ourselves each day?



Monday, March 13, 2017

I'm damned mad! The country I know is being hijacked.

And it's all because of the simple quote on the front page of today's Washington Post by House Speaker Paul Ryan, "People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country." 

I too believe in freedom, but I don't believe it "trumps" all the other American values that have been meaningful to me for 91 years. In Ryan's statement I hear the crescendo of the selfishness and greed that permeates American leadership today that rejects the true spirit of America that I have seen growing through my lifetime. I experienced it first in the spirit of volunteer sharing that saw us through the Great Depression. It was extended by a "New Deal" that sought to share "privilege" for more citizens. It was that spirit – sometimes "encouraged" through rationing - but it was also manifest by sacrificing not only comfort but ultimately the supreme sacrifice of lives to win a war not just for our country but for a future One World advocated in a book by a Republican. And then our eyes and hearts and minds were challenged by various minorities helping us see how myopic we had been and we envisioned a "Great Society" espousing justice and freedom for all.  And now I see that spirit led by women and a youthful generation that has taught us old folks about inclusiveness, respect and SUPPORT for immigrants and civil rights and protection for people of all races, creed and sexual orientation.

Perhaps the most important personal knowledge I have learned in my 91 years is how fortunate I am as a result of my privileged birth status - being born at home with the help of a midwife in a lower middle class family .  And yet one of the seven factors I recognize that has made my life so full and rich has been a caring government. When, in an earlier Rant, I listed a few of the many things a caring government provided for me (from my education under the GI Bill to kidney transplants for three of my immediate family - and so much more) I received this reaction from a reader:

"I appreciate your perspective re:a 'caring, supportive government ;...provided at federal government expense';  I ask that you recognize that everything the government gives to you, it takes from someone else. Please reserve some of your gratitude for the taxpayers, particularly future taxpayers. Also, I hope that your children are giving you lots of grand- and great-grandchildren, because someone has to pay for those transplants, and it won't be the 'government."

Eureka! Here's the gist of the problem today.  What do we see as  the role and function of government in an American society that prides itself in exceptionalism! Is it one that is competitive, taking a nd bestowing?  Is life a zero sum game of some sort?  

Personally I prefer to see America as a place where we have had a unique opportunity to learn lessons from the past.  We are still youthfully learning from some horrible mistakes.  We have an opportunity to blend people from the world who bring their unique cultural contribution -including their basic values and beliefs (often known as religions) to benefit one another. How wonderful to live in a country that is concerned with the common good - that is - or at least has been - working toward equalizing opportunity for all and continues to have a prominently displayed landmark stating:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these.......................Send these...............

P. S. Once again I've said more than I intended, but the true facts I hear each day almost compel me to have one more say.  Next week I hope to share something about the environment that calls for OUR involvement - not something to take to the streets in protest or have the government do for us.   

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Making America REALLY Great!

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback."

A great many of us were exhilarated by those words of Michelle Obama upon the nomination of an African-American as the first presidential candidate of major American political party. Perhaps it is the loss of that pride and hope with the election of a candidate who thrived on hate and divisiveness that has been the major cause for the sadness that engulfs that majority of American voters who voted for someone else.

I must admit that in my 91 years of exposure to the American dream (and sometimes nightmare) I have never experienced such a roller coaster of emotions. Of course I have previously seen divisiveness beginning with the "American firsters" who opposed our entry into WWII. Hate groups were enthralled by Father Coughlin and Henry Ford and their antisemitism in that period. And then most all Americans finally stood up to Joseph McCarthy who "had no shame" as he viciously attacked the Hollywood establishment as he feared Communist influence in thoughtful films of the era. Jane Fonda was vilified as she took a stand against war in Viet Nam. And the exposure of Pentagon Papers and the questioning of the presence of mass destruction by government research was been questioned as being unpatriotic.

In my own mind I have renounced the hallowed slogan of the slogan given to my generation as "The Greatest Generation". How could a generation that interned Japanese citizens, we continued the long oppression of African-Americans, that mercilessly imported and used workers from other countries in building their cities and raised their crops in horrible conditions ever be considered as G R E A T!

My despair with the erosion of my countries declared values has grown even more since the election.  Yet unlike so many other, I felt compelled to follow the news ore than ever. Two things particularly stand out for me as I have tried to keep up. All my life I have valued the Free Press that has shown a light to cast out despair. There is no way that I can consider the PRESS as the enemy of my country. And secondly I have been totally dismayed that the followers of a man of history (yes, Jesus)  noted for peace, love and equality continue to embrace a man whose character discloses just the opposite values and behavior.  Yet we seem to pride ourselves a a Christian nation - and I this as an atheist who has attended churches all his life.

Yet it is in the long repeated term, "American exceptionalism" that I join Michelle in finding hope. I have long felt that the long trajectory of the American character has been pointing to an "Even Greater Generation"!. It can be seen in those brave citizens of the past who have fought injustice and place themselves in jeopardy in espousing unpopular cause. The American creed all has long stood for the right to protest. Furthering human values for all has been won by protests often led by women, youth, and elder sages, 

The struggle is never easy, but I see a determination in righteous people stepping forward using their voices and their feet to lead the way in setting our country on the right path once again. We need to accept our differences in technique and priorities to seeking and enjoy freedom and justice for all.

And then it came to me in a song. The folks who have stood against war, the folks who helped most in furthering civil rights and give opportunity for all including immigrants were actually revolutionaries. And that's when I realized that the song I was hearing was one that was used as an unofficial anthem for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, "'Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution". For me that's the hope for the future. This younger generation with its idealism is being joined by oldsters (perhaps more than the youth realize are "those timid" oldsters from the past) and together,.

We shall indeed overcome!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Here's that man again..............

Clint Smith, the poet I heard about a year ago at an Aspen Conference on Race and Inequality. So very powerful!

Friday, February 17, 2017

I'm no proselytizer, but...........

................ I just have to share with you why this atheist attends church. You'll find it in the lead up to his sermon for this Sunday that the minister posted on my church's blog site.  Thrilling to me is also the great degree of social activism in this Unitarian Universalist church and the extremely large number of young people of all races, cultures, faith backgrounds and sexual orientation that are in attendance.

I truly believe that this introduction to his sermon shares a needed balm and comfort to surviving our present American dilemma.

A Great and Common Tenderness
As we wrestle with our own fears and anxieties about the direction of our country and the future of our planet, many of us have asked the question, "What do we tell the children?"
Here's the poet Rebecca Baggett's beautiful answer:
(for my daughters)
I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.
I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,
I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.
I love the poet's reference to Neruda's "great and common tenderness." I'm waiting for that tenderness, too.
My sermon this Sunday, "A Balm in Gilead," asks how, in this time of vitriol and scorn, we can treat one another with tenderness and compassion.  And we'll hear from the All Souls Choir, who will share the spiritual "Balm in Gilead" and other beautiful music.

And before long I hope to share a major thought stream of mine regarding my 91 years experience in churches that has led me to becoming an agnostic atheist who finds hope in attending "thoughtful" churches.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Blood of Emmett Till

I've had an opportunity to attend a great many author book reviews in my 23 years in D. C., but none has been more dramatic or surprising to me than The Blood of Emmett Till.  The opportunity is also yours at the youtube listing below. Obviously a southerner, Timothy Tyson worked almost 10 years on this book and is at Duke University and Duke Divinity School as Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture.

More information about the book and the author may be found at:

Tyson's presentation is folksy, droll and challenging.  The large crowd interrupts with applause at many statements.  As a fellow southerner by birth (Texan) I could identify with much of his insight, particularly as he told of his grandmother and church up-bringing many decades ago singing the following in Sunday School as atrocities like Till's murder were not uncommon,

"Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Whether yellow, black or white,*
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the children of the world.

*A better lyricist than I might add a line here like,
Neither atheist, Muslim,or Seik

The book is indeed worth your reading and perhaps discussing with others as Tyson credits Till's mother with the courage that actually precipitated the civil rights movement.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

God....placed you (Trump) there.

 “I believed that you would be the next President of the United States. And if that happened, it would be because God had placed you there.

Editor: From all my church going I must proclaim, THAT IS NOT MY GOD! - Ron Lehker

You might recall though that those were the words of the minister who addressed the congregation as president Trump attended the pre-–inaugural service at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House. I know that a great many of you joined me in astonishment not only in the statement itself, but also in the virtual attack on one of our basic democratic principles, the separation of church and state.

Unfortunately it has only gotten worse.
Consider this "hot off the press" report of Trump's appearance at the National Prayer Service in The New York Times:

And then please take time to read the article in the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly by Franklin Foer:

What an amazing, awesome responsibility we all have to maintain and improve a democracy that was founded on (immoral) immigration and nourished and expanded through slave labor!

This 91-year-oldster continues to be amazed at the vigor of young people in peacefully expressing their concern through demonstrations. May we all be equally committed to appreciating the progress of the past and our responsibility to keep moving forward providing refuge for those in need and freedom and equality for all. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

When the power of the state controls the press and the CHURCH

One of the long-standing traditions of the inaugural weekend are two religious services, one held at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square across the street from the White House just before the inaugural. The other is held the following day at the historic Washington Cathedral. The public is invited to the service at the Cathedral, and I was particularly excited since I had attended the service four years ago for Obama's second inaugural.  I was most impressed by the sermon given by a Methodist minister focusing on the importance of humility and the person holding that office. How disappointed I was to find the following information in The Washington Post several days before the service "Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Washington state, “ that the request of the president elect was that there be no sermon.that the request of the president elect was that there be no sermon." While the service did involve representatives of a great variety of religious faiths the Post also reported, "the service focused on biblical readings, patriotic music and Christian hymns and prayers for the  country and its leadership.

I had never before heard of a congregant dictating to the church the content of a service.  But I had hope,  

What might be the message for the president elect at the service before the Inauguration - the one at St. John's?
  The entire sermon can be read at:

A brief summary follows:

Before attending the inauguration ceremony, President Trump attended a private religious service at St. John's Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House, as part of a modern Inauguration Day ritual.
The service was led by the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist who campaigned hard for Trump during the closing months of the election.
Here is an exclusive transcript of Jeffress' sermon, which drew on the story of Nehemiah, a historical figure described in the Old Testament for rebuilding Jerusalem.

.President-elect and Mrs. Trump, Vice-President-elect and Mrs. Pence, families and friends, it’s an honor to be with you on this historic day.
President-elect Trump, I remember that it was exactly one year ago this weekend that I was with you on your Citation jet flying around Iowa before the first caucus or primary vote was cast. After our Wendy’s cheeseburgers, I said that I believed that you would be the next President of the United States. And if that happened, it would be because God had placed you there.
As the prophet Daniel said, it is God who removes and establishes leaders.
Today─one year later─God has raised you and Vice-President-elect Pence up for a great, eternal purpose.
When I think of you, President-elect Trump, I am reminded of another great leader God chose thousands of years ago in Israel. The nation had been in bondage for decades, the infrastructure of the country was in shambles, and God raised up a powerful leader to restore the nation. And the man God chose was neither a politician nor a priest. Instead, God chose a builder whose name was Nehemiah.
And the first step of rebuilding the nation was the building of a great wall. God instructed Nehemiah to build a wall around Jerusalem to protect its citizens from enemy attack. You see, God is NOT against building walls!  .Mr. President-elect, I don’t believe we have ever had a president with as many natural gifts as you.

While I am well aware of leaders of the church in Germany like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who valiantly set up to Nazi power, the following information is too indicative of the church at large in Geermany at that time..


The population of Germany in 1933 was around 60 million. Almost all Germans were Christian, belonging either to the Roman Catholic (ca. 20 million members) or the Protestant (ca. 40 million members) churches. The Jewish community in Germany in 1933 was less than 1% of the total population of the country.
How did Christians and their churches in Germany respond to the Nazi regime and its laws, particularly to the persecution of the Jews? The racialized anti-Jewish Nazi ideology converged with antisemitism that was historically widespread throughout Europe at the time and had deep roots in Christian history. For all too many Christians, traditional interpretations of religious scriptures seemed to support these prejudices.
The attitudes and actions of German Catholics and Protestants during the Nazi era were shaped not only by their religious beliefs, but by other factors as well, 
*Holocaust Encyclopedia

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Factual facts and (hopefully) well considered opinions.

I am truly "fired up" about the election of our 45th president and felt energized by being a part of the Woman's March in Washington DC on February 21. The most critical issue now is to sustain the enthusiasm and opposition to ill considered actions by the administration and prepare for the midterm elections of 2018. .My strong compulsion to be heard on social media stems from at least two sources:
  • My "privileged" residency in the nation's capital provides me with the opportunity to read local reliable media, not normally available to readers in other locales.
  • A strong desire to do all I can to leave this country and the world in better shape than when I entered (and at 91 the actuarials tell me I don't have too much time}.
While there is much I dislike about the social media, I do appreciate the fact that I am able to vent my frustrations without interruption. Thus I'll take the opportunity to "Rant and Rave" with greater frequency than ever before. I'll close with a few facts on Metro ridership on the day of the inaugural and the Woman's March as well as a few personal observation from this rider.

Metro recorded ridership:
Inauguration of Trump – 570,557 trips
Woman's March 1,001,613 trips the second heaviest day in ridership history surpassed only by ridership for Pres. Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009

I never waited nor stood in line for a Metro train on the day of the inaugural. There were enormous lines for the Metro on the day of the Woman's March and it was so difficult to walk the streets that "unknown participants" – noting my cane – insisted on escorting me to a Metro line so that I would not trip. The conviviality began with singing on many cars as we metroed and continued throughout the day.

I'll soon follow this up with perhaps some other trivia concerning the fiasco of  Don's Johns!
And even sooner get back to some of the more serious issues.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two topics concerning me: 1.Trump and the Inaugural Church Service at Washington National Cathedral and 2, More important than D. C. statehood to me................

1. I know the immediate reaction of some to the tradition of a prayer service on the day after the inaugural might well be,"Doesn't it violate the separation of church and state?" But it is just one of a number of those well-established traditions in this field such as the fact that there's a chaplain in the Congress who provides prayers every day. And so I was gratified that the tradition lives on and that Trump would be away from his tweeting long enough participate in a service that might provide divine assistance. Little did I realize that he was expanding the authority of the executive branch of government to the church. Consider this quote from The Washington Post:

According to the Right Rev. Marianne Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Washington, “Trump asked that there be no preaching during the interfaith service." 

Rather than attributing this to his tendency to follow the historic action as certain dictators I'm wondering if his patience is so limited that he is unable to sit for this length of time or if he is unable to have his tweeting curtailed for this long a period.

2.  More important to me than statehood for the District of Columbia is the loss of freedoms we have as individual citizens to make basic decisions effecting our lives. The recent election has only underscored how increasingly difficult it will be for District statehood to gain any traction.   Yet the front page of The Washington Post on Thursday, January 19 discloses the enormity of our continued loss of ability to control our lives as individual citizens. Even more important to me than "taxation without representation" is the loss of my ability to control the basic and essential aspect of my life.  The article speaks of rolling back gun control laws and the availability of local tax dollars for abortions .And for me personally at 91 would be be the denial of my right to die with dignity.  I'm personally offended by the affront of someone like "United States Representative Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) vowed last week to use his perch atop the House Oversight Committee to roll back the law making the District the seventh jurisdiction to allow terminally ill patients to legally in their lives."

Who is he to tell me how to live or die?  Just because I live in the District!  I realize and respect the great effort and strong feeling of many who have sought statehood for the District. It's time, however to realize it's politically (and to some degree, in my mind, logically) impractical and impossible. Is not perhaps a new strategy and/or legal venues possible for achieving basic human dignity and rights?

A good place to work to make America truly great would be to give the people of the District an opportunity and resources to work with the president and Congress to make it the "Shining City on The Hill" it has the promise and potential to be!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How have you continued to maintain such a youthful countenance?

Sorry I forgot the totality of the question, but this is an answer I gave to one of Ask Me Anything?
As I recall, it was a question from someone struggling with some of the pressure and issues of life.

OMG, this is such a marvelous question and one that I wish I were insightful enough to give a brief, meaningful answer. At first I was struck by how simple it is and that the answer is found in your question. "Keep... childlike wonder". Eureka, there it is, "Keep Childlike Wonder". In many ways I sincerely believe that has been my "Fountain of Youth". (I realize this sounds a great deal like one of the most forceful teaching of a man called Jesus, and yet I consider myself for the past 10 years, an agnostic atheist.")
And so for the nonbeliever (a term I disdain) let me try to list a few "childlike" characteristics" that I have found helpful.
  1. Upon arising in the morning try to focus solely on the beauty of this day and the good I have around me. 
  2. Reach out by really look at (and possibly) greet people on the street
  3. Read biographies to look at the lives of others.
  4. Seek and accept the friendship and joy of others.
  5. Take time during the day for some type of meditation
Such a good question I may put it on my "rant and rave blog