Sunday, June 27, 2010
I want to write about a wart --- well, I think it's a wart, but my wife thinks it's cancer --- that I have. I also want to write about a senator of mine, Orrin Hatch. I've had them both too long. I want to get rid of each of them. They have gone about irritating me for far too long, and it's time to do something about them. I didn't do anything to deserve either one of them, not that I know of at least. I want them gone.
First, let me describe, even though you might not want to know about it, my wart. It is on my right forearm out of my sight, about to the end of the arm of a short-sleeved shirt. I can see it in the mirror or if I twist my arm with my hand. It is an unusual growth.
It is quite ugly. Other people usually can't see it because of my shirt sleeve, at least I don't think they can, and they don't mention it. It would stick straight up, probably four fifths of an inch or so, if it weren't kind of bent over. It is flesh-colored at the base, but crusty looking and pointed at the top. The tip is the part which is bent over, probably from my lying on my arm at night and, hence, it, when I'm trying to sleep. It has become very awkward and uncomfortable to cope with it. It hurts when it catches on my clothing or when I accidentally bump it.
I am not by nature, a warty person, or haven't been for most of my life, at least not in a literal sense. Those who know me may describe my thinking, personality, or humor as warty, though, I suppose. Many years ago, before this wart appeared, I had another strange wart on my left hand. It was at the base of my thumb. While it never grew as big or as ugly as the one which now resides on my arm, it was still itchy and uncomfortable. Eventually, I showed it to my physician, a family doctor, and he removed it, had it checked for cancer, and found it was benign. It has never come back, unless you think perhaps the wart on my right arm is its reincarnation. I don't think so, and I have my reasons, but they don't pertain to this particular essay.
I have an appointment with a doctor, a dermatologist, who just happens to be the son-in-law of the doctor who removed my other wart, in a few days. Hopefully, he will be able to remove the growth and restore me to normality, and at the same time, benefit his son-in-law through having referred me to him.
I am looking for a similar solution to get Orrin Hatch out of my life as a senator. To me, he is just as irritating as that wart, although I have to admit, he isn't nearly as scary looking as it. Besides that, Orrin does have other redeeming characteristics my wart doesn't seem to have. I have enjoyed that he has been willing in some very limited instances to cross party lines and join with his colleagues in the Democratic Party to get helpful legislation enacted and enforced. Nonetheless, I think I have put up with him and his deceptive antics long enough. Here though, what I want to mention is my latest aggravation with him. It involves immigration reform or, rather, his obstruction of immigration reform.
Let me tell you what I mean.
This past week eight senators sent the President of the United States a letter which demanded that he stop going around the will of Congress on immigration. There is no evidence whatsoever that the President ever did or intended to go around the will of Congress on immigration. Orrin was one of the eight who signed that letter. It alleges a secret illegal agreement exists to grant "deferred action" --- the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in refraining from removing someone from the United States --- to undocumented immigrants. It suggests that the President subscribes to the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no way the President or his administration is interested in granting more than 10 million undocumented people in the United States some kind of immunity from prosecution. What the President is and has been interested in is comprehensive immigration reform. And he is probably also interested in utilizing whatever presidential power he has to afford relief where it is warranted in the most sensitive specific cases. For example, he would use the relief where immigrant children have grown up in the United States, have done extraordinary in their studies, and want to continue their education in our colleges and universities without being deported for a lack of documentation.
The letter of the senators is an ugly wart on the public, like the ugly wart on my forearm. It --- the letter --- is intended to perpetuate ugly rumors grounded in nothing more than bigoted people's imaginations. Those people in this particular case are interested in a political agenda that opposes comprehensive immigration reform. It is quite obvious, although their specific intent is left unclear. Of course, these individuals know something about "deferred action" because the Bush administration used it during Hurricane Katrina, granting rights to individuals victimized by the storm. And that is when it is usually appropriate, when there is some serious crisis that pulls at the heartstrings, when things are fundamentally unfair and inequitable and against our basic ideals for our fellow beings.
Sen. Orrin Hatch and the other senators who wrote the President are being disingenuous. In their letter they suggest that they agree that immigration laws need to be fixed, but then they go on to gripe about the potential of the administration using "deferred action" or some type of parole for large populations of undocumented immigrants, although that is impossible. Sen. Hatch and the others seven senators have never done anything whatsoever to reform immigration laws. Hatch has served in the Senate for years and years. He defeated Frank Moss in 1976 and has been Utah's ranking senator almost ever since. Pray tell, what has he ever done to correct immigration laws? Nothing. Even during the period when his party held the presidency and controlled both houses of Congress, he did nothing. Nothing! He intends to do nothing about immigration reform. That's why he voted against the Senate bill that would have been a first step in giving us comprehensive immigration reform. That bill passed the Senate in 2007. In fact, the senators who wrote the subject letter, moved to close the debate on the bill and to prepare the bill for a vote in order to kill it.
Orrin Hatch is bound to big business, which benefits with the situation relative to immigration as it stands in this country. Senator Hatch is interested only in doing whatever furthers the funding he needs to retain his position and power.
Sen. Orrin Hatch is a useless wart on the forearm of the public, worthy of removal. Hopefully, he is not a cancerous growth, who will lead to more serious problems or our demise. One thing for sure, Senator Hatch's intent is to scare people and frighten them, rather than simply doing what is helpful and compassionate.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
When I got home from Wyoming, there was a package from Amazon on the porch. I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon that I remembered, and I didn't know that Shelley had, but that is always a possibility. The box was addressed to me, not her. I opened up the box to see what was in it and it was the complete National Geographic, I mean every National Geographic issue since 1888. I knew I didn't order it, although I would've liked to have had it, and I didn't think Shelley had, either.
Inside the box as always there was a document giving the details of the transaction. The first thing I looked for was the label they include to make returning items sent easy. That label was gone. I looked at the shipping address, and it was mine, and I looked at the billing address and it wasn't mine. I don't know how I looked at just the address without seeing the name with the address but I did. It was an address that seemed foreign, and I jumped to a conclusion that somebody had used my credit card to make the purchase and I immediately thought I'd better call Shelley to tell her I needed to cancel the credit card. Then I got to looking closer. The name with the address was the name of my son-in-law, and it immediately became clear that this was a gift, probably a Father's Day gift from my daughter and him.
Shelley called a little while after that and I told her what had happened and she laughed and said that my daughter had mentioned that there would be something in the mail for me for Father's Day --- my daughter had been ill and had been unable to visit on Father's Day.
It is such a nice gift and I'm grateful. Thank you very much. And it's nice to not have to cancel that credit card.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Rivalry. What does it mean? The dictionary says it is the act of competing or emulating. A second definition indicates it is the state or condition of being a rival. A rival is one who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another. We would say, a competitor. Can rivalry get us into trouble?
Do you remember David, from the Bible, the guy who killed Goliath with his sling shot? Would it be difficult for you or for any of us today to have envied David, to have jealousy for what he did?
Well, let me talk about somebody who did for a moment. After David has this great victory and receives all these great accolades for taking care of the fearsome, loathsome Goliath, Saul, who is the king, brings David to court, figuring he could honor David, probably thinking he could utilize David some way to make life better there for himself and the inhabitants who lived there with him. In fact, the invitation from Saul to David is somewhat of an honor for David, but at the same time David was just a boy and his place of honor was inferior, or should have been, to the place of a king's.
However, the news of David's victory over Goliath apparently spreads, possibly gets amplified and exaggerated, maybe, and David receives the attention, fully deserved or not, of the masses --- well, possibly not the masses, but whatever. He soon becomes, it appears, more popular than even the king, Saul. This can all be read in 1 Samuel 18:5-16. So Saul has to contend with this circumstance, with David receiving greater attention and a greater following of the people than he himself. That had to be galling and incite jealousy and envy within Saul. And the Old Testament narrative indicates the same. Saul wavers between a type of submission to David because of David's popularity and a desire to kill the boy. Saul blames his son, Jonathan, saying the boy is unfaithful to his father, and that he is supporting his arrival, David. Saul massacres the priests at Nob just for honoring David. They become victims for merely honoring David for helping the people defeat an enemy.
So instead of killing David, who was still so popular, Saul has had these priests all killed, substituting them for David. I guess he thought nobody would care about the priests but they would about him killing David. Nonetheless, the killing doesn't solve this problem of Saul's of David getting more attention than him, and David continues to receive accolades and praise of the people, all to Saul's chagrin.
Next Saul sends his soldiers into battle with the Philistines, hoping to regain the attention of his people and receive their praise. But before the battle, he consults with a medium in Endor and lapses into a kind of insanity, receiving a chastisement from the dead prophet, Samuel. Saul loses the battle and kills himself.
What is interesting in this situation for me is that Saul, who held a more powerful position and place, becomes the rival the rival of David, a mere youth. Powerful people can become rivals of people generally seen as weaker than them.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The title of the Sunday school lesson today was "God will honor those who honor him." Now, that is a conditional premise. If I honor God, he will honor me. The implication is that, if I don't honor God, he won't honor me. God, therefore, does not love unconditionally, but conditionally. That seems to fly in the face of everything I believe and know about God. I believe he does love unconditionally. The ramifications of our bad behavior toward him or toward anyone else or even toward ourselves operate independent of His love and devotion to us. That's what I believe.
Now, thinking about that notion --- you respect me and I'll respect you --- I try to reconcile it with the Golden rule, which says, as I recall, that I should do to others what I would want them to do to me.
The two notions seem to be in conflict with each other. If God will only honor me if I honor him then he is not following the admonition to do to others what you want them to do to you. I believe God will honor me because he wants me to honor him. And I should want to honor him because I want to be honored by him. The lesson seems to have it backward.
I wish though when we talk about these Old Testament cases we could utilize a different Bible than the King James version that the church insists on us using. It's very irritating to have to wade through prose that is difficult to understand when prose that is more modern and easy to grasp is available.
In any event, Eli's sons are a little out of control --- and that's putting it mildly, because the scripture says they were sons of Belial --- and they were doing things they shouldn't be doing according to Eli and according to the traditions and commandments of their religion. And so Eli, like most parents, takes them to task. He tells them they are setting a bad example and make the faithful people also transgress (which seems like a non sequitur). Eli goes on to say that if a person sins against another person, a judge will sit in judgment and impose, in essence, some sanction or punishment. If they sin against the Lord, Eli asks rhetorically, who will judge them then? He goes on to say that if they didn't follow the counsel of him, their father, the Lord would slay them.
Hmmm. Curious. What exactly is meant there? The Lord kills people for doing evil against him? Well, does he? It seems to me there are plenty of influences around in real life where that hasn't and doesn't happen, where people are warned by good, wholesome people not to do evil or not to do this or that which seems simple, yet people still do it and doing it would be, at least in the view of the faithful person, a sin against God. Yet, we don't see God taking revenge and killing the individual for their behavior. Of course, the argument can always be made that in the end God gets them, just as he gets all of us because we die.
In 1 Samuel 2:30 it suggests that God will honor those who honor him and those who despise him he will esteem lightly. The verses after that go on to talk about cutting off arms and killing people and destroying progeny, if I understand it correctly.
I just don't understand how you reconcile the two notions. God wants us to love one another. Yet killing is not thought of as showing love but hate.
I think the Old Testament manifests the inclination of man to put words into God's mouth and make him something He isn't at all. It is man's inclination to mimic others and to scapegoat whenever mankind gets into trouble.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I finally gave up hope and surrendered patience and published Time for All Eternity. I had explored the possibility of obtaining a literary agent based upon the work, but after months and months of trying and submitting time after time queries to various agents in a number of different agencies and being rejected, I decided to just go ahead and do it myself.
So far, relative to money spent on the project --- other than of course the value of my time and the other pursuits relative to more literary proficiency and contacts, generally, like the costs of driving to and from critiquing and to participate in Wasatch Writers and the League of Utah Writers and attending a few Roundup writers conferences --- I spent nothing to make the work available as a Kindle book and $49.22 to make it available as a 450 page print-on-demand book available on Amazon and through other distribution channels.
My friend, and fellow critiquer, Matt Kirby, have discussed frequently the merits of self-publishing over against the merits of finding a publisher. Matt, who is very talented and able as a writer, was able to enter into contracts for a few books and a short period of time with Scholastic through his agent. So, he was prone to argue the merits of getting an agent and being published through a conventional publisher. He was less enamored with self-publishing. Today, he e-mailed me with a link to an article in the Huffington Post written by a literary agent on the merits of self-publishing for those who can't find a literary agent or a publisher.
It will take few sales for me to recoup my total investment in setting up the book. I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not, I just know I wanted to do it. I had spent a lot of time and effort doing it, and doing it itself was its own reward, but nonetheless it was nice to see in print and available to those who want to read it. I think it's a good book. I think it's not that bad for a first novel for somebody who has my type of background.
I hope somebody will read it and like it.