CONTEMPORARY ISSUES

Stay In The Know!
THE MORAL MAJORITY HAS FAILED THE TEST by Beth Rankin

THE MORAL MAJORITY HAS FAILED THE TEST by Beth Rankin

In 1979 Jerry Falwell, with thousands of followers, started a new political party in the hopes of presenting candidates with good Christian morals. The issues that attracted followers: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-school segregation, anti-science teaching, among others. The Moral Majority prided themselves as being pro-family and yet, many in positions of leadership were found to be having affairs or liaisons. So, despite strong evangelical Christian support, the party dissolved late in the 1980s. The people who supported Falwell waited silently for their next hero. Perhaps they never really got silent but their more recent activities begins to beg the question about the basis of their Christianity. Look, you know I’m Jewish but I would bet you that I pay more attention at church than cradle Christians whose memorized responses do not require any brain involvement. My Christian husband asked me to attend with him ten years ago and I said I would as long as I was respected. My introduction began at Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo where I marveled at the similarities, of course! This was a denomination not far off the Catholic shoot and that church was derived from Judaism. Funny how the symbolism, while morphed a bit, still exits. In West Virginia we attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington and once again, not only were people respectful, they sought me out at time asking if I would join a study group because they knew my viewpoint, being different, would spark more interesting discussion. And now in Oregon, we attend the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a combined church of Lutheran and Methodist congregations. I listen. I study. I... read more
WHEN EVIL VISITS THE CHURCH, WHERE IS GOD? by Milt Hankins

WHEN EVIL VISITS THE CHURCH, WHERE IS GOD? by Milt Hankins

On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, killed six people and then himself at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Almost two years later, a white supremacist killed three at two Jewish centers outside Kansas City. He said “he wanted to kill Jewish people before dying of chronic emphysema.” On a January 2017 evening, a Quebec City, Canada mosque was the scene of six worshipers who were killed and 19 injured. Dylann Roof, an admitted white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African A.M.E. Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. The most recent are this month’s killing of 26 people in the First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs, Texas. Truth be told, since nothing (or very little at the most) will be done to tighten our gun control laws and, as gun advocates will continue to argue about the Second Amendment, clearly we cannot stop those who want to commit a horrendous mass killing from obtaining guns. I’m not interested in engaging in this somewhat limited and neglected debate by those who might do something to make a significant difference. You might have observed that I selected five examples where these horrifying killings took place in houses of worship. As a former pastor, I am inclined to raise this question: Where was God when these innocent, religious folks, who were ostensibly worshiping in a “House of God” were mindlessly assaulted and murdered? If this question has not entered your mind, you have not been thinking through these tragedies. The wise Solomon reputedly said, “Trust in the Lord with all your... read more
THRESHOLDS OF CATASTROPHE IN THE EARTH SYSTEM by Daniel H. Rothman

THRESHOLDS OF CATASTROPHE IN THE EARTH SYSTEM by Daniel H. Rothman

[The following abstract introduces a research article in SCIENCE ADVANCES by Daniel H. Rothman. The article is complete with over 100 references and notes and all the data needed to evaluate the conclusions presented in the paper. Although the article itself is copyrighted, the abstract which we are reprinting here is in the public domain. Readers who are so inclined are encouraged to subscribe to SCIENCE ADVANCES (advances.sciencemag.org)] ABSTRACT The history of the Earth system is a story of change. Some changes are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive. What sets one group apart from the other? Here, I hypothesize that perturbations of Earth’s carbon cycle lead to mass extinction if they exceed either a critical rate at long time scales or a critical size at short time scales. By analyzing 31 carbon isotopic events during the past 542 million years, I identify the critical rate with a limit imposed by mass conservation. Identification of the crossover time scale separating fast from slow events then yields the critical size. The modern critical size for the marine carbon cycle is roughly similar to the mass of carbon that human activities will likely have added to the oceans by the year 2100. [from SCIENCE ADVANCES 20 Sep 1017: Vol. 3, no. 9. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited. Get the latest issue of SCIENCE ADVANCES... read more
HEALTH CARE INSURANCE NEEDS BIPARTISAN SOLUTION by Diane W. Mufson

HEALTH CARE INSURANCE NEEDS BIPARTISAN SOLUTION by Diane W. Mufson

Most of us understand a few basics about health care insurance. First, designing it is complex, not something a committee can put together in a few days. Two, it is desperately needed, as having 40 million people without health insurance in the richest country in the world is just plain wrong. In almost eight years of vociferously objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently called “Obamacare,” Republicans have been unable to devise an acceptable replacement for it. A while ago, Bloomberg News reported that President Trump was “considering signing an executive order on health insurance that would help give consumers more options…and he would cross party lines to meet with Democrats to get a health care plan that’s even better.” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the Senate Health Care Committee, said he was “exploring bipartisan ways to shore up the market (insurance) and limit premium increases for next year.” Recently, Republicans and Democrats have actually worked together on a rational solution. That’s amazing and refreshing, sort of like old times when Congress actually got things done. Senators Alexander and Patty Murray (D-Wash) have, over the past few months, crafted the Alexander-Murray health care bill. Many of their colleagues believe this is a rational health care insurance plan. The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this plan could save about $4 billion over a decade. Our family, like most families, has been impacted by health care insurance. The inability to pay for medical care likely greatly shortened my grandmothers’ lives. However, fine medical care due to good medical insurance from my father’s employer, helped double my... read more
UNDER SIEGE by Richard Moberly

UNDER SIEGE by Richard Moberly

The United States of America is currently under siege from multiple fronts. If allowed to continue, the country we all know and love will be unrecognizable in a short period of time. The clock is already ticking. For decades, the beacon of democracy to the rest of the world, the champion of human rights, women’s rights, rights for the handicapped, the oppressed, and the minorities has been the United States of America. All that has changed since January 2017. It now seems that the federal government is saying to the people, “It is every man, woman and child on their own.” Protections of rights are systematically being eroded and dismantled. It is not like we, the citizens, were not warned. We saw people with disabilities mocked, women verbally insulted and physically berated, and no one or nothing in society was safe from attack, especially the members of the media. All the while this was happening, we were being assured day after day, “No one has more respect for ________________(you fill in the blank) than I do.” All lies! At every turn in the last nine months, some of the most vile and unqualified individuals have been nominated to and placed in positions of power. They have absolutely no business being in those positions. Most seem hell-bent on dismantling the government entity in their charge, and/or creating as much chaos and damage to the American people and our institutions as possible. Most are also initiating policy changes based on religious dogma rather than the Constitution. They are not recognizing that the Constitution of the United States has the ultimate power over... read more
I’VE ALWAYS WONDERED by Beth Rankin

I’VE ALWAYS WONDERED by Beth Rankin

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves. Sort of how it feels now.   We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken. We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there. We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention. We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away. We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend. We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know it’s a bad idea. We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about. We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it. We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%. We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with “We the People.” I could go on and on. So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts... read more