May 2008 Archives

My previous post indicated my slight preference for moderator of the PC(USA), but the other position to be filled in a few weeks is Stated Clerk. Thankfully Clifton Kirkpatrick has decided to not stand for re-election and I am extremely thankful for that. I do not think the moderator can make significant changes to the church, the stated clerk can—and what Kirkpatrick has done has not been good.

The Rev. Kirkpatrick is extremely left-leaning and, in my opinion, has been the major reason for the PC(USA) being irrelevant in the nation today. His views and opinions expressed on behalf of the General Assembly have resulted in tremendous membership losses and I think the discounting of any stances the church takes. If it is anti-Israel, anti-Republican, and usually anti-Republican, then Kirkpatrick has been for it.

The Rev. Gradye Parsons has been nominated to stand for the position by the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee but I am not sure I could support him. Admittedly I do not know him, in fact I know almost nothing about him, but I do know that he is the current associate stated clerk, and has been for the last years, and that puts him too close to Kirkpatrick.

Who is my favored candidate? Well that would be the Rev. Edward H. Koster who has decided to stand as well. He has a varied background, including being a graduate of the Naval Academy, service in the Navy in Vietnam, and have several other degrees. It is difficult to say what he would do but he does not appear to be an insider which is plus for me. I also suspect that he would listen more the members in the pew and less to the staff in Louisville.

If only I could vote.

It appears we now have four candidates for moderator of the PC(USA). They are:

Willaim “Bill” Caleb Teng (
Roger Shoemaker (
Carl Mazza (
Bruce Reyes-Chow (

I do not get a vote so my opinion does not really matter much and I’m not sure who I would vote for if I could vote. I have looked over their web sites and read their response to questions posited by publications such a Presbyterian Outlook and The Layman. All seem to have a slight liberal bent which is not a problem and is really something I expect in church leaders. The problem is when a slight liberal bent becomes a radical liberal bent as we have seen in some moderators of the past.

The moderator also has little power in setting policy when you really look at it. They come and they go with elections and their terms limit the impact they can have on the church. In some cases these short terms are a positive thing, in other cases the terms need to be longer.

If I had to vote, I think I’d tend toward Carl Mazza right now. He seems interested in doing what is best for the church and not for some special group. His response to the question “Should departing congregations be allowed to leave the PCUSA with their property without penalty? Is one I like. He said “Our Christ-centered mission is most important, and our love and respect for one another. Our property is useless if these are not first.” (This question and answer is from the May 2008 issue of The Layman.)

In no way do I think leaving the PC(USA) I the solution to the problem but I do understand those who feel the need to leave. The attempts by the PC(USA) to keep the property of the congregation seems spiteful given the rapidly declining membership in the PC(USA). I do understand the Book of Order and accept that the property is held in trust but let’s face it, most church property is bought and paid for by individual congregations.

I have always been a proponent of going straight to the source for information, but apparently not everyone else is. Admiral Mullen has penned an open letter in the new issue of Joint Forces Quarterly that has grown legs. It has been summarized in several publications and I’ve seen several Google Alerts about it. The problem is that some people rely on what others say about the letter rather than read it for themselves.

What Admiral Mullen says is that military personnel, especially those on active duty, should keep their politics to themselves. I agree. Military personnel are most certainly citizens but they are to carry out the policies of those elected by the American people. That was my position when Bill Clinton was president and it is my position now that George Bush I president. If those in uniform become too political, and express those opinions too openly, especially the senior officers, then we undermine the civilian control of military.

Admiral Mullen’s letter is available on the web, you only need Google Joint Forces Quarterly and you can find it. However, the New York Times also wrote about the article and some people chose to read the NYT’s opinion rather than read the source directly. On such person is Samuel at Gilgal.

Sam blogged an article entitled Do You Give Up Your Rights When You Join the Military. Sam states “But is this “apolitical” view of individuals in the military historically correct? According to President George Washington, “When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.” Washington’s words indicate that the individual does not give up his inalienable Constitutional rights when he puts on the uniform of the United States military.” I mention this only because in the original article Admiral Mullen himself says “I am not suggesting that military professionals abandon all personal opinions about modern social or political issues. Nor would I deny them the opportunity to vote or discuss . . . or even to debate those issues among themselves. We are first and foremost citizens of this great country, and as such have a right to participate in the democratic process. As George Washington
himself made clear, we did not stop being citizens when we started being Soldiers.”

Now I ask, does that read like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is asking military personnel to “give up their Constitutional rights”? Doesn’t sound like that to me, at all.

But of course, I would never imply that the New York Times has an agenda or shows their bias.

Memorial Day 2008

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The Memorial Day ceremony went well, I think. The Starkville Daily News said there were about 100 people present but I printed 175 programs, noticed that not everyone had one, and only came with about 5. So, I estimate we had about 200 or so.

The keynote speaker was Col. Mark Brown from the Columbus Air Force Base and he did an excellent job. I have been to some places where speeches were pretty much canned but Col Brown obviously did some research. He mentioned several local people in his speech, including Cpl. Taylor McDavid who died in Iraq a few weeks ago and whose wife and parents were in the audience.

The other highlight was the reading of the names listed on the monument as having died in previous wars. In the past we have had representatives from the veteran’s organizations read the names but the Military Affairs Committee wanted to have citizens read the names. The intent was to move away from veterans recognizing veterans. We had Matt Cox a Starkville alderman read along with Greg Stewart, General manger of Aurora Flight Sciences and president of the Base Community Council. I appreciated what they both did but to me the highlight was having Mary Todd Pittman, a student at Starkville Academy read. Seeing young people like her step up and do things like that renew my faith in students.

Carey Hardin and Gary Dedeaux did a fly-by in their vintage aircraft right after the wreaths were laid and the flag was raised. It was a nice gesture and I’m glad they were able to do this for the second year in a row.

The only problem was the heat. Next year we are planning to hold the ceremony earlier in the day to avoid the worst of the heat.

I’ve never really liked Gore Vidal. I don’t know why, I just have never cared fro the man or for his writing. I also feel a bit queasy when I hear someone quoting him as if some special knowledge has been imparted to him that everyone else missed. The “What I’ve Learned” article on him in the June Esquire I think explains why I’ve never cared for the man.

Some quotes from that article:

I’ve developed a total loathing for McCain, conceited little asshole. And he thinks he’s wonderful. I mean, you can just tell, this little simper of self-love that he does all the time. You just want to kick him.

You got to meet everyone—Jackie Kennedy, William Burroughs.” People always put that sentence the wrong way around. I mean, why not put it the true way, that these people got to meet me, and wanted to? Otherwise it sounds like I spent my life hustling around trying to meet people” Oh , look, there’s the governor.

I wasn’t like everyone, you know. What everyone did, I was sure not to do it.

I went into a line of work in which jealousy is the principle emotion between practitioners. I don’t think I ever suffered from it, because there was no need. But I was aware of it in others, and I found it a regrettable fault.

And this man find McCain conceited? Never liked Vidal, never will. This article convinced me I was right in not liking him. I am still bothered that so many people conitnue to listne to him as if he has some grreat insight into the world.

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