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Autumn

Lost Maples Natural Area, Texas, Author Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic)

Another Autumn is upon us.  The leaves are turning brilliant shades of red and gold, their beauty a simultaneous warning of the inevitable approach of Winter and a piercing reminder of our own mortality.

Once we could bravely face the future.  But our journey and the battles fought along the way have wearied us.  We are laden with sorrows and scars.

As we grow older, many of us feel our anxieties mount.  We dread the loss of loved ones.  We fear for our finances.  We envision ourselves being overtaken by illness – our faculties dimming, our strength gone.

There is some truth to this view.  We must all eventually let go of this life.

Christians though know that Spring follows Winter, that this life is only a precursor to the next.  The poignancy of Autumn heralds the glories of a new season and a new dawn with Christ.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Love Thy Neighbor

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Partisanship

Photo of Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner taken 11 days before Gettysburg Address, Mead Art Museum, Source http://museums.fivecolleges.edu (PD-Art, Old-100)

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure…

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced…that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

-Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)

Earlier this month, we buried a great American, a military hero, an advocate of bipartisanship, and a model of political courage.  This week we were treated to a travesty by his peers.

John McCain must be turning over in his grave.

Whatever else we may have hoped for during the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, what we witnessed was an ugly display of partisanship and the raw exercise of power.

Democrats and Republicans alike betrayed their high calling and the American electorate – alternately fawning over a woman whose credibility was in dispute, and engaging in the blood sport of political attack.  Critical evidence was not pursued until public pressure was finally brought to bear.

The search for truth be damned.

When did we become so certain that our personal views are absolutes and our political allies are saints above reproach?  When did we decide it was appropriate to win at all costs? Read more…

Fair Treatment on the Farm, Part 2

“The Harvest” by Ivan Kolesnikov (1922), National Museum in Warsaw (Accession No. M. Ob. 1188), Source Digital Museum http://cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl/dmuseion/docmetadata?id=23551&show_nav=true (PD)

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4: 1).

Across the globe, refugees, displaced persons, illegal immigrants, children under the age of legal employment, and others work as day laborers [1A]. Such people often find work in landscaping, agri­culture, and piecework manufacturing.

Both undocumented migrants and those employing them are operating outside the law.  Motives for this may vary.  But, in the long run, employers benefit more than employees.

Employers can rationalize paying less than minimum wage, providing poor living conditions, and even denying such basic necessities as rest, shade, and water.  This is not, however, Christian conduct. Read more…

Fair Treatment on the Farm, Part 1

“A Harvest Scene” by James Ward (c 1800), Yale Center for British Art, Author Google Arts and Culture (PD)

Apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, garlic, spinach, asparagus, and almonds are among the foods still planted, nurtured, and/or harvested by hand [1].  But American agricultural businessmen are confronting a growing labor shortage [2A].

Some are making difficult choices about abandoning key fruits and vegetables; importing workers under special visa; replacing workers with machinery, where available; or moving their operations overseas [2B].  A few have already begun raising wages well beyond minimum, to no avail.

Despite all this, the myth remains that illegal immigrants are depriving Americans of jobs which should be legitimately theirs.  And the treatment undocumented migrants receive is frequently below par.

Illusory Wages

“Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey [2C].”

One major reason Americans disdain seemingly high wage farm jobs is that such wages are illusory [3A].  Farm work is seasonal.  Farm workers alternate between months of 60-hour weeks and long stretches of unemployment [2D].

California in 2015 had 705,000 farm workers who earned an average $17,400 (58% percent of what a full-time worker would have earned) [3B].  The largest category of farm workers – those 293,900 employed by labor contractors – earned an average $9,900 (no more than 44% of what a full-time worker would have earned).

Physically Demanding Jobs

“ ‘[T]he impact of immigrant labor on the wages of native-born workers is low… However, undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back-breaking jobs that native-born workers are not willing to do.’ ”

-Brookings Institution, Senior Fellow, Vanda Felbab-Brown [4]

More often than not, immigrant workers do the disagreeable and physically demanding jobs that native-born Americans prefer to avoid [5].  Gutting fish and picking fruit at an unrelenting pace in 95 degree heat are among these.

Read more…

Jediism

Star Wars logo, Author User:KAMiKAZOW

There is today a religious movement by the name of Jediism.  Over 390,000 people in England and Wales stated their religion as Jedi in the 2001 census, exceeding Buddhism and Judaism there [1]. Another 70,000 did so in Australia.

Based on principles derived from the Star Wars movies, Jediism reflects the desperation of people searching for meaning in their lives…searching for God [2].

The Force, the energy from which everything is said to derive, does not require prayer or worship.  Belief in the Force is, of course, futile. 

God – the real God, the only God, the God of the Bible – has never been lost.  Any other god is false.

“…[There has] been a legal religion in the United States since 2007 and tax exempt since 2015…

They follow the Jedi code, consisting of 21 maxims, as the starting point for the Jedi belief system.

The Jedi Code:

…There is no Emotion, there is Peace…There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge…There is no Passion, there is Serenity…There is no Chaos, there is Harmony…

The 21 Maxims:

Prowess:  To seek excellence in all endeavors expected of a Jedi.
Justice:  To always seek the path of ‘right’.
Loyalty:  To have faith in your Jedi brothers and sisters.
Defense:  To defend the way of Jediism.
Courage:  To have the will.
Faith:  To trust in the ways of the Force…[Continued at https://realitydecoded.blog/2018/08/26/fact-jedi-from-star-wars-is-now-a-real-religion/?c=600#comment-600%5D.”

[1]  Wikipedia, “Jedi census phenomenon”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_census_phenomenon.

[2]  Fandom, Religion Wiki, Constructed Religions, “Jediism”, http://religion.wikia.com/wiki/Jediism.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

A Burden Lifted

This is an update from Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) https://www.clcphila.org/, a faith-based non-profit whose predecessor I helped found years ago.

CLCP is a legal ministry serving the poor of Philadelphia.  (Additional information on Christian legal aid can be found above.)  Please, pray for this worthy cause and consider donating, if you can.

“Matt and Deborah have been embedded in North Philly this summer through the InterVarsity Gateway program working for CLCP as our summer interns.  Deborah is from New Orleans and will be a junior this fall at Villanova…Matt is from Scranton and will also be a junior this fall…[He] is studying actuarial science at Temple…

Matt and Deborah got to experience our clinics where Deborah who is also fluent in Spanish helped as a translator.  Deborah shared how she has learned that ‘God can use [her] identity as a First Generation Latina in the U.S. to participate in His mission of justice by working as an interpreter and breaking language barriers alongside incredible people seeking justice with the love of God.’

Matt was surprised to discover that not all consultations have a happy solution.  He has seen how messy situations can be and how the lawyers seek to make the best of a bad situation,..[H]e has learned…how many things there are to consider involving the client.  He was encouraged ‘watching clients come into clinics with desperation and hopelessness, and then watching them walk out with a burden lifted from their shoulders.’ Read more…

Laminin

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1: 17 NIV).

Wikipedia describes laminin as a class of proteins comprising the extracellular matrix, molecules providing structural and biochemical support to the surrounding cells.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Urban Poverty and the Vanishing Middle Class

 Abandoned factory, Detroit, MI

Image courtesy of Seph Lawless, author of “Autopsy of America”, https://www.documentingreality.com/forum/f236/americas-rust-belt-139882/

There is a growing divide between rich and poor in this nation.  Caught in that divide is a vanishing middle class.

Median income levels in Bridgeport and Stamford, CT – cities just 22 miles apart – reflect the disparity.  Bridgeport’s median stands at $41,050.  Stamford’s is five times higher at $205,688 [1].

Lost Manufacturing Jobs

A large part of the reason is the decrease in manufacturing jobs.  Both automation and corporate relocation overseas have played a role in this.

As of June 2016, the average wage for manufacturing jobs in the United States was $64,400.  This compares favorably with an average wage of $48,700 for all occupations [2].

Map of United States showing “Rust Belt” states in red, Source Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But as many as 7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since the 1980s [3].  Metropolitan areas in the “Rust Belt” (Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York) have been particularly hard hit [4].

Today, many of the technical jobs that remain require advanced training or a college degree.  Alternative positions as home health aides, cashiers and retail sales personnel, housekeepers, child care workers, and food servers are among the lowest paid [5].

Urban Poverty

A. Detroit, MI

Once the nation’s auto manufacturing hub, Michigan has lost 83,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 15 years.  Detroit followed Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy [6].  The per capita income there in 2016 was $15,562.  The poverty rate is 39.4%.

B. Hartford, CT

Nicknamed the “Insurance Capital of the World”, Hartford was the wealthiest city in the nation following the Civil War.  But it has fallen on hard times since the 1990s.  The per capita income in 2016 was $18,365.  The poverty rate is 31.9%.

C. Rochester, NY

Formerly known as “Kodak Town”, Rochester, too, suffers from the drain of manufacturing jobs.  The per capita income in 2016 was $19,830.  The poverty rate is 32.8%.

Mayor, Lovely Warren, explains the situation this way:

“Many of the executives and the upper management that worked in…larger companies, they lived in the suburbs.  The people that lived in the city were those individuals that worked on the line…When manufacturing left…the decline in the inner-city, in those families losing their income and having to struggle, and then the next generation under them not having…a manufacturing floor to go into, became greater [7].”

Read more…

Miracle Baby

Roman Dinkel is a 2 y.o. boy with myelomeningocele, a congenital defect of the backbone and spinal cord.

The majority of children diagnosed with this severe form of spina bifida are terminated before birth.  At 25 weeks of gestation, however, Roman had surgery while still in the womb.  His parents were cautioned not to expect too much from the surgery.  But Roman is today able to walk with the aid of crutches.

His joy is infectious.

[1]  CBS News, “2 year-old who overcame the odds and learned to walk inspires millions” by Jeff Glor, 8/8/18, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2-year-old-who-overcame-the-odds-and-learned-to-walk-inspires-millions/.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com