An Eyefull

Something is wrong with my eye. It is red in the corner and surrounded on the outside by puffy skin. Because my eye is mildly painful and very annoying, I have avoided writing this blog for this week, even though I have some interesting material to offer for review. The information will have to wait, or loose itself at the bottom of the pile until next time. I hope to get to the eye doctor today.

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Historic Preservation of Houses of Worship

For at least several decades, churches in New Jersey have applied for and received historical preservation grants to repair damaged roofs, crumbling walls and/or stained glass windows. Recently, in Morris County, the powers that be realized that since 2012, it has provided more than $4.6 million dollars to 12 churches. The amount of money spent on the up-keep of houses of worship must have startled the county officials who brought the situation to the notice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The New Jersey Supreme Court reviewed the State Constitution thereby finding and citing a clause that expressly forbids public money to be used by churches. Therefore, the Court voted unanimously to uphold that clause in the State Constitution. No such specific clause is found in the US Constitution.

Does that mean churches or temples in New Jersey in need of repair cannot apply for and receive an historic preservation grant? That is not necessarily so.

One might argue that disallowing churches historical grants is against the civil rights of its membership. A church building can be as historically significant as a university or war monument. Over centuries, the Haga Sophia and Notra Dame, the Wailing Wall, world cultural patrimony, depend on money other than the donations of their followers to remain viable testaments to the spiritual aspirations of humankind.

Laws are good things. Fortunately, in a free and democratic society, laws are not static. A fair- minded, creative lawyer can work wonders. The decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is just another challenge to houses of worship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Insight of an Aged Person

Two weeks ago, I gave myself a birthday party. It took a few months for me to put it all together. I meant this party to be a kind of swan song. Not that I intended to kill myself, or to move to Timbuktu, nothing so dramatic. I just wanted to acknowledge to myself and to my friends and family that I recognized that I was now an old woman. Probably all of them had been aware of my age status for a long time. I was just catching up. The mirror had been kind to my face for a rather long time. Regular exercise and good genes kept my body relatively pain free.

What gave my age away to me was world history. I remember so much of it. Sifting through major and minor events contributed to my personal reflection on the sorrows and blessings of my own life. In general, I had to conclude that my life has been filled with more blessings than sorrows. Most revealing was the fact that all of my blessings are/were and continue to be associated with people. And so, at my party, I read a prayer of thanksgiving, which included all of those present.

This party, intended to recognize that the end of my life was not far away, has given me a new beginning. I now accept and understand that my contributions to the lives of others now will take the form of little acts of thoughtfulness and of simple prayers for a kinder, gentler world. I can live with that.

 

 

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Assisted Suicide

Assemblyman John J. Buzichelli

935 Kings Highway

Suite 400

West Deptford, NJ 08096

 

Sir:

As life would have it, I have had the privilege being at the bedside of several persons at the hour of death, a grand parent and my both of my parents among them. I am not a member of the clergy nor am I a medical professional. My being present during the passing of so many persons, might be considered a coincidence, an act of fate or an act of Faith. Be that as it may, my experience has been that modern medicine contributes to the peace and dignity  for the one departing this earthly realm.

Two modern practices that contribute to a peaceful passing are: the Living Will which gives the person leaving this world the opportunity, while still well, to decide his/her last care in terms of equipment to be used and the length of time that each piece might be used. The second contribution to a dignified death of the terminally ill is the administration of morphine and/or other pain -killers often controlled by the person dying or the selected caregiver.

In my experience, above all, being surrounded by loving and caring persons who are accepting of the inevitability of death, be they religious or not, provides an age-old comfortable exit for the journey beyond.

Given what is stated above, I cannot understand how you, or any other politician, can sponsor or support Bill A1504, “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act”. That this act is to help the poor and/or the disabled, is tantamount to someone committing murder. It will be abused, just as the abortion laws have been.

Abortion laws are being used as a means of birth control, not as a means of saving women from butchers who lurk in shadows to perform acts once considered criminal.

Please, examine your own conscience. Get off the bandwagon. Stop trying to be a “liberal” politician and start being a man. Do not sponsor nor vote for Bill A1504. Modern medicine provides many means for keeping the dying comfortable. The relatives and friends of the dying must be loving and strong. The courage and understanding of those close to the dying will give them peace.

I pray that you will be the humanitarian that sees beyond the political popular. Do not sign the death certificates of the unfortunate that you will never know.

Respectfully,

 

 

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This Easter

 

Over the last 50 years, thousands of people in the West have left the institutional, established Christian churches. Many of the rationalizations sound like: too many Christians are hypocrites, I don’t like the priest (minister), the church is hung up on sex, women and minorities are not treated equally, I am not religious; I am spiritual, etc., etc. Anybody with ears has heard them all from friends, family members and/or pundits on television talk shows.

This week I read an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that described one woman’s year long hiatus from the church which she attended with her family all of her life. The reason that she gave for this year -long furlough had to do with the 2016 election. This is what she said,

“I just couldn’t forgive my fellow Christians for electing a man who exploited his employees, boasted about his sexual assaults, encouraged violence against citizens who disagreed with him, mocked the disabled and welcomed the support of virulent white supremacists”.

The author spent Sundays, while the rest of the family attended church, walking in the woods admiring God’s handiwork. She could have said that she was being “Spiritual”, not religious, but she was too smart for that. Although the author never says that she prayed during those walks, she did receive the grace to realize that she was missing something that was important to her.

She missed being part of a congregation. She missed standing side by side with other people, our eyes gazing in the same direction, our voices murmuring the same prayers in a fallen world. She missed the wiggling babies grinning at me over their parents’ shoulders. She missed reaching for a stranger to offer the handshake of peace. She missed the singing.

The author decided that this Easter Sunday, she will return to church. She will remember the ones she loved whose participation in the eternal has found another form. She will sing and give thanks for her life. She will pray for her church and for her country. Then, she will walk into the world and do her best to practice resurrection.

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Protecting the Innocent

Banks, the guardians of our “filthy lucre”, the bastion of conservatism, arguably, the main reason for the recession of 2008 is one of the first institutions to put restrictions on the sale of firearms. All right, so far only one bank, Citigroup. What a surprise!

The new policy of Citygroup is to prohibit the sale of firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or who area younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. This applies to clients who offer credit cards backed cy Citiygroup or borrow money, using banking services or raise capital through the company. Citigroup considers the elements of this new policy “common sense measures”. What a bold move!

Other banks say that they are considering establishing similar policies. I will believe it when I see it. The President of the United States and his congress are vacillating over making new policies regarding the ownership of firearms. They are torn between the powerful IRA and student protests. Alas, IRA members vote in local, state and federal elections; high school students, don’t. School students are only victims.

I grew up in a farming community where every home had at least one rifle. During hunting season, families dined on rabbit, quail or venison. Every child learned how not to break his teeth on a piece of stray buckshot. Every child learned how to shoot and how to “respect” the piece of equipment that sometimes provided food and sometimes chased “varmints” from the hen house. No one in our rural community ever pointed a gun at another human being. That was the height of ignorance.

Today, in the United States, the word “respect” like nuclear family and marriage, has taken a drubbing. The more subjective the definition of a word becomes, the more rules and laws we need to protect the innocent. Since we have lost respect for a piece of equipment that kills, we need more rules and laws. We need gun laws that respect the weapon and that protect the innocent. Mr. President and Congress, what are you going to do about it?

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A Full Weekend

This weekend has been quite busy. On Friday evening, a few friends and I crossed the bridge into Pennsylvania, enjoyed dinner at an Iron Hill Brewery then headed for the Main Line Gallery to view a three person art show. All of us knew, or worked with one of the artist, a sculptor who does graphite on paper work as well. We’ve been viewing his work, watching slight changes in his subject matter and style. Interestingly, while his subjects change, his works on paper remain the same in medium and in style. Of the three artists exhibiting, I believe that his work showed the most originality as well as technical skill.

The second artist, who worked in metal, used the patterns formed by the lead in old stained glass windows as inspiration. She made free-standing sculptor pieces from those patterns. After viewing a few, the concept became redundant and boring.

The third artist, a photographer, exhibited black and white ink-jet photos of Venice. I liked the way he exaggerated the natural contrast of light and dark. In spite of the sharp contrast, the images conveyed a dream-like quality to the viewer. These pictures reminded me of the happy times that my deceased husband and I spent in this City of Canals and churches.

Saturday brought me to the theater for a production of “Noises Off” a British farce play within a play involving slamming doors and exchanging lovers. Many people in the audience did not like the play. Several did not return after intermission. I heard on man say that he was going to stay for the second half, “To watch the blond”. The “blond” was the character, Vikki whose costume through the entire production was skimpy red underwear.

Today, Sunday, I will meet a friend for dinner, then go to a film festival sponsored by our local JCC. Every year I try to go a couple of the films presented by this festival. These films may not be commercial successes, but they are always well done. They are informative or entertaining – sometimes both.

At my age, I will need all of Monday to recover. However, I will take any fun marathon that comes along. What an I doing next weekend?

 

 

 

 

 

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