Thursday, February 23, 2012



According to the poster I discussed in the introduction to this series of essays, liberals demand that we love and respect all cultures and religions, except Christianity.

The poster would've been correct if they would have not added the “except Christianity” statement at the end. We live in a very diverse world and the United States contains perhaps the most diverse population in the world representing nearly every ethnic heritage and every religion. I do believe that it's in our best interest, and my own understanding of what the Bible says, to embrace and respect our neighbors regardless of the color of their skin or what church they go to.

It seems to me that since the horrors of 9/11, many in this country think it is right and proper to discriminate against anyone who may be a Muslim. Of course that attitude is ridiculous, not very many Muslims follow the same kind of ideology as the people who planned and carried out the attacks on the United States on that day. To cast each and every Muslim into the same pot is unfair just as it would be unfair to throw every Christian into the same pot is the few Catholic priests who engaged in pedophilia. I think most of the arguments that liberals respect all cultures and religions except Christianity are based on the fact that liberals and others accept Muslims as also being decent human beings.

Within Christianity itself there is much dissension. The current Republican primary reflects one of those Chasms was very clearly as Mitt Romney is constantly debased because of his Mormon religion. If one were to study Mormonism he or she would find that Mormons are Christians, they adhere to the same demands as other Christian denominations. As recently as a couple of decades ago, Baptists considered Mormonism to be a cult.

During the many religious events that took place after the 9/11 tragedy, rifts between the various Christian denominations were highlighted and were the topic of many conversations. I remember in particular one Lutheran minister who was nearly defrocked because he prayed on the same platform with members of other religions, including other Christian denominations. The Catholic Church, which was the first organized Christian church, is considered non-Christian by many of the fundamental Christian denominations. It's interesting that recently, due to some government actions, the Catholics and the fundamentalists suddenly joined hands in their efforts to reverse those actions they disagreed with.

I wonder how many of us who claim to be Christians would identify with the group from Iowa that disrupts funerals of American servicemen and who display signs that are degrading to other Americans and vilify those whose beliefs are different from those of that small group, and do it in the name of all Christians. There are many more examples of the differences and the difficulties between the various Christians denominations.

Over the years, in fact over the centuries, the Jews have probably been the most persecuted culture in recorded history. Only the Romans persecution of Christianity during the early years of the church could be considered worse. The Roman persecution of Christians, however, took place over a relatively short period of time when compared to the persecution of the Jews who have suffered over many centuries. It seems the persecution of the Jews has existed almost as long as the Jewish people themselves have existed. I fear that a new era of persecution of the Jews is not too far down the road.

During the years leading up to the World War II, Hitler and others had convinced the German people, and many others that every problem that existed the European continent was the fault of the Jews. They claimed that the Jews controlled the banking system, all of the corporations, basically that they had control over all of the money and wealth of Europe.

In order for dictators to rise to power they must give their followers someone to hate and to unite the population in that hatred.  That hatred, created as a tool for a few to rise to power, led to the Holocaust.

The Jews have been the target of that same type action many times over the centuries. Even today you can read in newspapers and especially on the Internet that the problems in America are simply the fault of the Jews and if we would run all of the Jews out of America all of our problems would be solved.  I have even read that there is an evil cabal of Jews that control everything in the world.  Many people actually believe such rubbish without asking for proof or questioning the possibility that such a system could exist. It is interesting that after all that we have seen in recent decades and read about in books outlining the history of the human race, we still haven't begun to understand the Jewish culture.

It is somewhat unsafe to even begin to talk about Islam. We in America seem to believe that every follower of Islam is a mad bomber whose only purpose in life is to destroy America. Of course that isn't true. We seem to forget that all three of the mainstream religions Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share the same beginning. We are all the descendents of Abraham.  We are all brothers and sisters.

So I take exceptions when someone indicates that because I am a liberal I disrespect Christianity and love all other religions. First of all there is no basis in fact that could be presented to me to indicate that I hate Christianity. I guess the years that I spent in the Christian ministry are evidence of how much I hate Christianity. Do I hate Judaism and Islam? No I don't. I embrace each person in the world as a brother or sister until they individually prove to be something different. I do not consider the people that flew airplanes into the world trade center towers to be my brothers. I consider them to be some of the most evil people that have lived. I don't consider anyone, Christian, Jew, or Muslim who harbors hatred against another to be my brother or my sister. I think the world has begun to revolve around the question of “who do we hate today?” Instead of developing a dialogue that would be lead to peace and understanding, it seems we look for differences that we can exploit and use as an excuse for us to exercise our desire to hate.

I would like for the person who made this poster that said liberals do not love or respect Christianity to come and tell me to my face that that's what they think of me, or of any other liberal person they might know. It just isn't true. For people to pass those lies on through the Internet and in many cases anonymously is to bring upon themselves the disgrace that is due to deceivers.

To respect other cultures and other religions does not mean that one does not respect Christianity. It simply means that one is trying to live a life based on those principles that Christ laid down for us. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said that the first was that we love God with all our hearts and with all our souls and that the second was like the first, that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He didn't say that we love only our neighbors that think the same way that we do, he said to love our neighbors. Therefore as a Christian, and in my case a Christian and a liberal, I will continue to respect every man and woman of any culture or religion until and unless they do something to lose my respect. In this regard, I am trying to walk in the footsteps of Christ, are you?



Wednesday, February 22, 2012



Recently while scanning that most recent posts my friends had made to Facebook, I noticed a posting that looked to be made up of small pictures, like a pane of postage stamps.  When I enlarged it, I got a sudden and dramatic shock to my system.  I was nearly sick to my stomach.  No, the pictures were not child pornography, but was a poster titled “typical liberal” and the six smaller pictures each had captions indicating what originator thinks of the liberals in general. Since I have been painted, by whoever decides these things, into a box labels me a liberal.  I was quite offended by what I read. Actually offended is not the proper word; a better description would be to say that my feelings were really hurt.

The posting was made by a gentleman who I worked with had a very good working relationship with.  During the time we worked together we had many discussions about a lot of different issues and always respected each other’s opinions.  He is someone I would have introduced, and still would introduce, as a friend. As I looked at pictures and captions, I wondered what it was that I had done that would make this man, who I considered a friend, have such a low opinion of me. I took the insults very personally because I felt like they were meant to be personal.  I just closed Facebook and went on about my business and tried to forget about it because I did not know how to respond; or even if I should.  The words just kept repeating in my head and I knew I had to try to set the record straight.

The captions in the picture indicate that liberals are anti-Christian, are against free speech, except his or her own, believes that all corporations are evil, hates capitalism, hates wealthy people, and discriminates against conservative straight white people. I noticed that this particular picture was part of a set of perhaps one hundred more pictures with the same theme.  They were produced by an organization, I’m guessing, called the Republican Revolution. I don't personally have the time or the energy to make a response to each of those many bumper sticker type posters, but I can respond to these first six. Since I am sure my friend didn't post this to offend me personally, I will not use his name in my responses. As I said, I consider this man friend and will continue to do so.

My method for responding to these first six accusations against liberals will be through a series of essays.  I will post the new material every day or two and hope that I can change the perception that some people may have of liberals. I don't apologize for my political beliefs nor would I ask my friend to apologize for his.  I think by responding through a series of essays, my friend may better understand my positions and hopefully will try to help me gain an understanding of his.



Friday, February 10, 2012

A Tribute To A Good Man

Recently, I had the honor and privilege to attend the celebration of a good man's life. The good man's name is Jack; he is my brother-in-law, my wife’s older brother. Jack had passed from this world into the next just a few days earlier. He joined his parents, his wife of forty-nine years, his two sisters, and two nephews. He left behind a sister, my wife Elizabeth, an older brother Bill, two absolutely wonderful daughters, Karen and Maura, and three grandchildren.

Jack was born in South Bend Indiana. As a young child he moved with his family to Chicago. He was a Southsider.  Jack’s family lived in what is known as South Shore and he attended Leo High School where he was a standout football player. After high school he attended the University of Illinois where he earned a degree in Civil Engineering.

Jack was a passionate civil engineer and during his career built dams, bridges, massive earthworks, and even part of the Big Dig in Boston. He worked for only three companies in his adult life and left a lasting impression on each of those companies and with all who were lucky enough to know him.

That's the basic story of my brother-in-law Jack’s life. But the basic story doesn't begin to tell the story of this good man.  I will make an attempt to enhance the basic short blurb that announces the death of someone after decades of contributions to his city, his country, and to his wonderful family.

Rather than a traditional memorial service, where people would be crying and sad, a celebration of his life and his many accomplishments was much more appropriate.  I would have expected a lot of people to stop by but I was not prepared for what occurred.  The two adjoining ballrooms used for the celebration were filled for several hours with people sharing stories with each other and with the family ranging from his years in grammar and high school through his long career as a civil engineer. In total I would guess there were at least 200 people that stopped by to join in. Each story brought a new and deeper understanding of just who Jack was.  The number of his former co-workers, who were not in contact with him for years, but showed up to join the celebration of his life, shocked me.

One of the things that most people did not know about Jack is that he was an artist. He had been an artist for most of his life. Some of his grammar school friends told us about the cartoons he used to draw, and in fact he was making entire comic books for his classmates. Even though he did some oil paintings his passion was watercolors. Over the course of his life he produced hundreds of works ranging from montages of peoples’ faces or shapes- he loved to work with angles-to abstractions of his work and of the world around him and most of all to the things he loved and cared about. Many people have paintings that Jack produced. What we found out is that Jack only gave away the paintings that he felt contained some kind of flaw; the ones that were not good enough to keep.  As a fly-fisherman, Jack tied flies for his use and to share with friends.

I was surprised at the age range of people that attended the celebration of Jack's life. They ranged from men and women in their seventies and eighties through men and women in their twenties and thirties. Each person had the opportunity to share stories about Jack with the entire group, and many did. We were somewhat surprised to hear, repeatedly, that the speaker was drawn into the engineering professions through their association with Jack. We were not so surprised that Jack served as a mentor for many young people entering the profession, but the sheer number surprised us. Many managers and company owners stated that they owed their careers to the mentoring activities of Jack.

All evening I listened to stories about Jack's life; Stories that covered his life from a young grammar school kid through his career as an outstanding engineer and teacher who finally retired just a month before his death, when his body could no longer manage the rigors of a job. I heard stories of how he demanded perfection from everyone, but mostly from himself. I heard stories about his tirelessness on the job. I heard stories about his willingness to share his knowledge with others. I heard stories about his devotion to his profession.

Later I thought about the number of people who stopped by to help celebrate Jack's life. During the evening I never heard a negative story from Jack's friends and coworkers. This alone convinced me that, most likely, Jack was a good man.

While Jack was ill, I began thinking about the contribution that he had made to the world. It occurred to me that each of us have the desire to leave something behind, to make a mark on the world, to do something so that future generations will know that we've been here. Sadly, most of us never have or don’t take advantage of that opportunity. But Jack did. For generations to come the dams and bridges and other massive construction jobs that Jack participated in designed, or built will stand as a testament to his life. Due to his mentoring, generations of engineers will carry his passion for excellence throughout the profession. The artwork that he leaves behind for many to enjoy will be admired for years, maybe even centuries.  When one considers all he did, one must admit that Jack didn't leave just a thumbprint or a palm print but a massive footprint on the earth. The world will know, and not soon forget, that Jack was here.

The most important things that Jack left behind are his two fantastic daughters Maura, who lives in Norway, and Karen, who lives in Seattle. They, and their children, will carry on the very best of what Jack was. To his old friends, he will always be a Chicago Southsider. To his coworkers, he will always be their mentor, their guide, and the engineer each hope to be. To his daughters, he will always be dad.

When one weaves all of the stories into a narrative of his life one is left with the impression that Jack was a good man who strived to be the best that he could be every day of his life.

Rest in peace John M. ”Jack”  Goodrick. You did good!

This is perhaps the most defining picture of Jack in existence.  I can’t decide if he is watching something intently and thinking or if he is preparing to kill someone, or if he is wishing the person with the camera would hurry up before he busts out laughing and spits that cigar across the room.

One last thing.  All of us being from good Irish stock, I was surprised that the evening did not end with a rendition of “Danny Boy.”  So Jack this is from me to you!