Month: July 2017

Your Neighbor As Yourself

spencer neighbor pic

My wife and I went to Spokane recently to visit our daughter, Jocelyn, and her family.     I’ve gotten to know the city pretty well over the last 10 years or so.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, our older daughter, Lauren, got a nursing degree from Eastern Washington State in Spokane.  Lauren met her husband, Haden, at Whitworth, another Spokane university.

At least in part because she wanted to be near her sister, Jocelyn got a degree from Whitworth.  Where she also met her husband, Aaron.  They were married there on a beautiful, but searing late summer evening at a vineyard overlooking the Spokane Valley.  They now have a year old daughter, Lucy.  Named after, you guessed it, Jocelyn’s favorite sitcom.

I can’t tell you how many times Marleen and I have flown back and forth from Denver to Spokane for all these doings. But it’s a lot.

I wish I could still say that Spokane reminds me of what Denver probably looked like back in the ’50’s.  But I don’t think I can.  The city seems to be in the throes of a development frenzy that is more like Denver’s than the Spokane I remember from even two or three years ago.  Cranes and construction everywhere.  Half the downtown streets closed for one reason or another.

But, enough whining.  There are still plenty of aspects of the town that will make many more trips there rewarding.  And, as is invariably the case, they deal primarily with people.  Since it has been years since my wife and daughter Lauren have been in Spokane, they now primarily ripple out from Jocelyn and the roots that her family has sunk into the city’s flinty, volcanic bedrock.  Near their fixer-upper home in the South Hill neighborhood, it appears that hideous, black monsters of the underworld are forcing their heads into lawns that are perfectly manicured around them.

Since they were in college, Aaron and Jocelyn have attended New Community Church.   At that time, the church met in what was a store front in a shopping center.  The ceiling of the dimly lit sanctuary pressed down from just over the heads of congregants. The music of the band on the stage careened wildly around the room, beyond the ability of the sound crew, including my son-in-law, to tame it.  Just the ticket, in other words, for the many college students who go to church there.

This year, however, the church bit the bullet and bought a large old church, steeples, stained glass, organ, and all, from an aging congregation that was ready to fold its tent downtown.  And now, after several weeks of scrubbing and painting, New Community has moved into it’s new home.  The acoustics are still unruly beneath the domed skylight over the sanctuary, but now the energetic singing is matched by the light that pours in through the rose windows.  And the Light that is defused, as it always has been, through the faithful preaching of the Word.

They might not like me to say so, but the congregation is pretty much white-bread.  Which is fine with me.   Lots of young, white couples with little kids.  A stubborn remnant of the historic American nation which, despite the efforts of our political elite to extirpate it by electing a new people through mass immigration, endures.

For ballast, there are also some older couples at the church-which is important.  Our daughter and her husband hit a pretty rough patch in their marriage a while back.  One of those older couples took Jocelyn in while she and Aaron worked things out.  As a small token of my appreciation, I was very pleased to be able to prepare dinner for them with a wild turkey I shot which we had frozen and brought along from Denver.

At the heart of New Community are the many small groups that get together in homes around town, often on a weekly basis.  Jocelyn and Aaron have been active in theirs for years.

Hope and Derrick have also been part of their small group since college days.  Hope is a labor and delivery nurse that was at Jocelyn’s side when she gave birth to Lucy.  Hope also gave birth to her first right around the same time.  Derrick is in medical school.  They, to put it mildly, have their hands full.

But despite their medical training, Derrick and Hope, don’t quite seem to have this baby thing figured out: surprise!  Kid number two came along about a year after the first one.  Did it make any difference that Hope was still nursing?  Evidently, not in God’s economy.

A foot shot of Jocelyn, Lucy and Aaron

– – –

The second Great Commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But to say that this is only a command doesn’t do full justice to Jesus’ words.  This is also an observation of a law of the universe that can’t be broken, pretty much like he law of gravity.   It might as well say, “You WILL love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

As young, white people Aaron and Jocelyn and Derrick and Hope face extraordinary challenges to living out the Second Commandment.  They are swimming upstream against a relentless barrage of leftist propaganda from the media, the political establishment of both parties, educational institutions, business, and, sadly, too often from the church itself, that merely because they are white, they should hate themselves.  You know, “white privilege.” and “black lives matter.”  In other words, the monotonous drum beat of the Left.

But assert that all lives matter, or even worse, that white lives matter, and the best you can hope for is the all purpose epithet, “Racist!”  And the worst?  A riot and a vicious beat down by thugs.  These racial crimes have been perpetrated all over the country.

The question is, of course, are white people willing to endure the slings and arrows that will come their way as they try to swim up stream to put themselves in a position to love themselves and, hence, their neighbor?    Not, of course, to claim that they are perfect.  Or that their forbearers were without fault.  But to claim that they, like everyone, are a mix of light and darkness, of good and bad.  And that they, like all humanity, are in need of grace.

And not to just wage this fight for themselves, but even more importantly, for their children.  It won’t be easy; there are already plenty of threats to the well being of their kids.  Affirmative action, which pretty much puts a target on their backs simply because they are white.  And, of course, particularly white boys.  Mass immigration, both legal and illegal, which, in only 30 years, threatens to make them strangers in their own land.  And if you think it’s easy to go against the grain to oppose either of these wildly politically correct orthodoxies, then you just haven’t been thinking.

This temptation for white people to, somehow, believe they are doing the world a favor by hating themselves plays itself out in a host of very practical ways.  But at it’s root, it is a spiritual question.  Do they believe the culture they represent, Western Civilization and their Judeo-Christian heritage, is worth preserving?  Or should it, along with themselves and their descendants, be consigned to the dust bin of history?

Charles Murray, the Harvard educated sociologist with the American Enterprise Institute, is, ahem, controversial.  His most inflammatory work, The Bell Curve, argues that there is a connection between race and intelligence.  It has caused the Left to lose its diminuitive, collective mind.  And helped trigger a riot at Middlebury College when Murray attempted to give a speech there this year that resulted in a left leaning female professor who was playing host for Murray being attacked by the college Brown Shirts.  For her thought crime of believing in academic freedom, she wound up in a neck brace.

Another of Murray’s books, Human Accomplishment, attempts to analyze and quantify human achievement world wide by quantifying the amount of space allocated to individuals in reference works.  It’s a fascinating book; you should read it.  But take care.  If you’re a leftist or a doctrinaire feminist it may drive you to another riot.  According to Murray, more than 80% of history’s highest achievers in the sciences, arts and philosophy are “dead white males.”

They are, in other words, representatives of Western Civilization and our Judeo-Christian heritage.

So what does all this mean for my Spokane daughter and her family and their church friends?  Just this: rather than apologizing for who they are, they should be proud of it.  In fact, they have every bit as much a right as anyone to be proud of who they are and what they represent.  And to ignore, if they can, the claptrap of the political elite, the liberal media, Hollywood, big business, the “white privilege” and “black lives matters” crowds.

And if they don’t?

Well, here are some dystopian, alternative futures they should ponder.  Especially if they believe their kids fall into the category of neighbors worth loving as themselves.

First, James Burnham’s, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism.

Burnham identifies the World War I as the “seminal catastrophe” that marked the beginning of the West’s decline.  And World War II was nothing more than the continuation of the catastrophe: a brief intermission to allow the combatants to catch their breath before continuing what Churchill described as a conflict in which “torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves.”

But, as Burnham goes on, the real disaster of these bloody cataclysms wasn’t some external event, it was spiritual.  They may have caused the West to lose its collective nerve, to commit suicide.

And what will be the weapon of choice for this civilizational suicide?   Who knows for sure?

But unlimited Third World immigration would probably do the trick.  There’s even been a dark novel on the subject, The Camp of the Saints, by award winning French author, Jean Raspail.  In it, impoverished Indians commandeer a hulk fleet, come around the Cape of Good Hope, and, like the volcanic outcroppings in Jocelyn’s neighborhood, force their way into the perfectly manicured environs of the French Rivera.  From there, they lay waste to the rest of Europe.  And then the world.  The West, having lost its nerve, lays down and allows itself to be overwhelmed.

Far fetched?  Not hardly.  Consider what some are calling The World’s Most Important Graph.  While it deals with the exploding population of Sub-Sarahan Africa rather than India, you have seen the images of illegal immigrants surging across the Mediterranean and pouring into Europe.  Pay particular attention to the U.N. produced Utube at the end of the graph that tries to persuade us that such immigration is not only inevitable, but desirable.

–     –    –

When my wife and I fly to Spokane, we invariably take Southwest-I’m not even sure there’s another choice.  The plane is always packed and prices have gone up commensurately.  But really, how much longer can they expect our super-sized populace to wedge themselves into their mini-sized seats?

But one compensation for Southwest passengers is that the airline doesn’t take itself too seriously; some of their attendants could make pretty good stand up comedians.  And the best opportunity for these frustrated comics to show their stuff? The inflight safety lecture.  I wonder, in fact, if Southwest has ever been sanctioned by the FAA for their light hearted approach to a procedure the other airlines seem to treat as an opportunity to anesthetise their passengers to the ordeal they’re about to endure.  Not sure.  But Southwest’s has even been considered newsworthy.

But there’s a lesson to be gleaned from the numbing repetition: you have to love yourself before you can love others.  What else is the significance of the direction to “put on your own mask before assisting others around you”?

Those who are heirs to the astonishing achievements of Western civilization need to realize that they serve no one, not themselves, not their children, not any other potential neighbor, by failing to put on their own mask first-before assisting those around them.














Chinese Fire Drill

South Metro RescueThe city recently finished repaving the streets in our neighborhood.  They were overdue; smooth as silk now.

Our daughter, Lauren, and her two little girls came for a visit to our neighborhood swim pool while the work was still underway.  Our street was blocked off so she had to park about a block away and hoof it from there.  Talk about a beast of burden.  The one year old, Caroline, in a pack to the front. A large, all purpose diaper bag slung over a shoulder (I can’t imagine what all she has in there). And a bunch of towels and other swim paraphernalia in a bag on the other arm.  Bridget, the three year old, thankfully able to navigate on her own.

Don’t get upset with me; I wasn’t there as she schlepped all this stuff from her car to our house.  I did help on the return trip.

And that’s were this little adventure begins.

After the girls got up from the extended naps brought on by the exuberant splashing under a blazing sun at the pool, and after all the gear had been packed up (with me carrying one of the heavy bags this time), and after all the kisses and hugs had been dealt out to Grandma, the four of us began trekking up the block to Lauren’s Honda Pilot.

Bridget, who takes after her Mom, looks like a little Viking:  blond tresses, long legged.  Two gears only: 100 mph and zero. Her turquoise Croc knock-offs often on the wrong feet.  Talks a mile a minute.

Caroline (and don’t get it wrong: it’s Caroline as in “pine,” not as in “pin”) takes after her half Korean father: luxuriant brown hair from birth, a vaguely swart complexion.   Irresistibly plump; a regular Buddha baby.  Look away for even a moment and she’s crawled-where?!

At the car, we buckled the girls into their rocket-launch-ready car seats and tossed the gear in back. Next, it was my turn for kisses all around.

I’m not quite sure why Lauren was distracted, maybe the unfamiliar parking location, maybe the traffic that was heavier than usual because of the paving equipment.   But, when she closed the passenger door, the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh, shit!”

Which, as you probably know from one of my favorite movies, Blast From The Past, is a 16th century French colloquialism meaning, roughly, good.

Actually, NOT.  “I just locked the girls in the car!”

“Is the air conditioning on?”

“Yes,” she answered.  Which was a relief; it would have been a lot hotter in the car than it was outside.  “Do you have another set of keys at home?”

“I don’t know.”

“You stay here,” she continued, the urgency rising in her voice.  “I’ll run down to the house and see if there’s a key there.  If there isn’t, I’ll call 911.”  With that, she set off at a brisk lope, her long legs taking her out of sight before I got around the car to see what I might be able to do with Bridget.

Although she’s quick, Bridget wasn’t quick enough to make much sense of my shouted urgings to get out of her outer space ready car seat to see if she could unlock the door from the inside.  (I can only imagine what a passerby might have thought of my ravings.)  All this produced no more than a blank look of bewilderment from Bridget’s side of the glass.

As the minutes dragged on, it crossed my mind to hurry back to the house for a hammer.

Fortunately, before it came to that, Lauren hove into view.  Her cell was pressed to her ear, ” . . . I can’t really see a house address from here, but I think we’re on Geddes Circle.  I know we’re in the Homestead neighborhood.”  She stooped to be able to see underneith  some tree branches to get a view of the street sign at the nearest intersection.  “The cross street is Ivanhoe Court.”

With that, I thought I heard the first faint wailings of a siren; I certainly hoped so.  In less than a minute, I knew I did.  A minute more, and a red pumper truck, siren, lights, and horn blazing, led a parade of South Metro Fire District response vehicles into the street next to the car.

Years ago, when I was campaigning door to door, I actually came upon a house that had flames leaping out of an upper story window.  (Someone else had already reported the blaze.)  What impressed me most about the incident, was the matter-of-fact way the firemen went about their business when their truck pulled up.  They calmly hooked up the hoses, carefully put on their equipment, knocked in the front door, and walked into the burning structure behind a wall of mist.  They were up to the second story in seconds. Visible flames disappeared almost as quickly.

400x550 house fire

It was the same here.  While they didn’t waste any time, the firemen very methodically went about their business of freeing my trapped granddaughters.  No panic, no drama.  A crow bar to pry open the door enough to force in a heavy duty coat hanger that, soon enough, released the door lock button.  And, voilà, the little ones were back in their mother’s arms.

And while Bridget shed a few tears, especially as the trucks pulled up with sirens screaming, they vanished when she got her official “South Metro Fire District” badge.

“Papa” didn’t do much to contribute to the happy outcome.  I noticed that the passenger window frame was bent as Lauren pulled away. I sent her a text that she might want file an insurance claim; the old insurance agent in me speaking.  Always thrifty, Lauren replied, “Good idea. We sprayed some water at it and there was a leak. ”

But even that came to naught.  Haden, her husband, muscled the frame back into place so that it looks good as new and doesn’t leak.

But, of course, all’s well that ends well.  And that’s what counts in fire drills.