February Garden Update

Some sunny days lately have had us out in the yard a little bit, this last week of February.  Non-gardeners don't think much about the garden in the winter, but I sure do!  So, here's what was growing at this late-winter date:

  • Garlic- ours is about 2 inches tall, we've not grown it before, so I don't know if it will stay, or die back and start over, but it is neat to see the green tips poking through the soil either way.
  • Horseradish-  the fronds of the plant are slowly coming back, with more new green than old brown now visible.  
  • Daffodils- we have a couple dozen or so that are a few inches tall.  I'm happy to see them coming on slowly, so they don't get frozen out.
  • Maple Trees- this is one of my favorite times of the year to look at a young maple.  Ours has bright red new growth on it, some twigs a foot long!
  • Corkscrew Hazelnut- the mustard yellow catechins are just on the verge uncoiling and showing off, we grow this all year to see the catechins in late winter/early spring.
All of this, topped off with a tray full of seeds just getting started inside.  It won't be long until we have tomatoes, peppers, gourds, hostas, and basil all growing in the windowsill.  After a long winter, I'm craving Spring, and happy to see the early signs of it at home.

On God's Side

This past weekend Pam and I attended the local Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner.  Our Representative in Congress, Jim Jordan spoke, and shared some thoughts on Lincoln.  Among them, a paraphrased quote from Lincoln regarding God being on the side of the Union during the Civil War.  I was intrigued by the quote, did some digging, and found this:
No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln, in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped, "the Lord was on our side." 
"I am not at all concerned about that," replied Mr. Lincoln, "For I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right.  But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side"1
I found many variations on this same quote, but as the once cited is from 1866, by a biographer who spent time close to Lincoln, it seems most reliable.

As we often hear both sides invoking God in their cause, I think Lincoln had it right, we should spend more time seeking the Lord, and less convincing others that we have His backing.

1Carpenter, F.B. (1866). Six Months at the White House. p. 282 

No Hope for Redemption?

This week the City of Dublin, Ohio, about 20 minutes away from where I live, enacted an ordinance barring all registered sex offenders from entering their Rec. Center or public pools.  The vote was unanimous, and I'm sure there was a lot of support for the measure.

When I hear of something like this, though, I often wonder if we consider the person being regulated.  We all agree that sexual offenses are especially heinous, and the victims of those offenses suffer life-long impacts. We shouldn't cheapen or trivialize the seriousness of the crimes.

However, as a Christian, I build my life around the idea that there must be hope of redemption for every person.  The idea of permanent registries that bar people from living in certain areas, make gaining meaningful employment difficult, and prohibit the use of public facilities, would seem to lead towards a pit of despair, not out of it.  It is concerning to me that our modern society at once celebrates sexual sin and punishes it more extremely than violent crime, depending on the form it takes.  

For me, though I don't like it, there can be no middle road- I must acknowledge that all sexual immorality is inherently wrong and evil, but that sexual immorality, in all its forms, does not exclude those involved from the hope of redemption and forgiveness.

An Evangelical Hypocrite

Of all the hypocrites, grant that I may not be
an evangelical hypocrite,
who sins more safely because grace abounds,
who tells his lusts that Christ's blood
cleanseth them,
who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell,
for he is saved,
who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians,
but lives unholily.
-Puritan prayer 

One Eagle Scout's Thoughts on Homosexuality and the Boy Scouts of America

I am an Eagle Scout from Troop 101 in Marysville, Ohio.  We don't say "former" Eagle Scout, as the belief is that once you've attained the rank, it's a benefit to you long after you've left your Scouting years behind.  I also served as the past District Chairman of the now-defunct Northstar District, of Union County, which has merged with others in our area.  Scouting and Church has always been closely linked for me, as the Troop I participated in was chartered by my home church, Marysville First United Methodist, where it has been for almost as long as Scouting has existed in America.  I continue to support the unit financially and other ways.

One of the hardest parts about homosexuality in current times is that it has become so polarizing for people on all sides of the issue.  The issue is so tightly tied to self-identity that we often lose the perspective to consider it outside of our own feelings and experience.  That's too bad.  When something becomes so controversial that we can't consider it without resorting to extremes, we lay waste to the common middle ground where we live our lives in community.

I think enlisting homosexual boys and adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America is a bad idea for all involved.  Before you quit reading, or applaud, as the case may be, this opinion isn't my values-based judgement.  So, as clearly as I can, here are two important reasons I believe the BSA should leave their current policy as is:

1.  The Boy Scouts focus on overnight camping experiences.  I would not consider enrolling my kids, boy or girl, in a co-ed camping program.  I believe that it is healthy for kids to have opportunities to enjoy their youth, without any thought of sexuality.  I simply don't see much difference between co-ed and gay-inclusive camping.  Either one drastically alters the environment and changes the entire dynamic.  You can disagree with me on this point if you like, but if you do, then I think you've forgotten what it is like to be a teenage boy.  For me, there just isn't much wiggle-room or argument to be had on this issue.  It is what is.

2.  The Boy Scouts of America should align itself with its charter organization partners, and historical values, not adapt policy to suit fundraising goals.  The core of the Boy Scouts has always been its commitment to its own honor code.  While many groups will trumpet the inclusion of homosexual youth in the Scouts, they should be aware that the Scouts aren't professing some grand values changes, but rather announcing their capitulation to donors.  The Boy Scouts of America has not announced a new belief system, but has said, in essence, we need the corporate dollars that come with doing something we don't support, so we'll consider doing it, and take the dollars, but not change what we believe.  Can there be a worse lessen for our youth?  What's the point of enrolling a boy in Scouts if "selling out" is a core value.  To be clear, no one wins if the Boy Scouts' honor is gutted and it is left as a hollowed out shell of its former self.  I wonder what the point is in destroying something that has value, under the pretense of inclusiveness.  

It's worth noting, to those not familiar with the program, that most scout troops are chartered by churches.  In fact the United Methodist Church at one time strongly encouraged all congregations to host Scouting.  Many of those units are 80+ years old, and exist today.  Catholics and Mormons are also usually hosts to Scout units in their congregations.  All three of these institutions have policies that would be at direct odds to what the BSA is proposing.  It's not a small leap in logic to expect that the BSA changing its policy will cause many of the charter organizations to reconsider whether hosting is still in their best interest.

So what will it mean for me, as an Eagle Scout?  I don't foresee myself joining those who would throw off all associations with the Boy Scouts of America, even going so far as to burn cards and certificates of rank.  I'll likely remain supportive of my local pack and troop.  I will, however, encourage my local church, the charter organization for the units I support, to be vigilant in overseeing healthy youth programming through the Scouts, as they do now.  If that means that their 80+ year sponsorship comes to an end in the future, I would support the decision.  As for my own son, I've never intended to push him towards or away from Scouting.  When he's old enough, his mom and I will consider the appropriateness of Boy Scouts for him just like we would any other activity.  It's hard to say what that will look like in ten years, but the changes currently being considered would make the decision non-negotiable for us (see point #1 above.)

An institution that promotes traditional manhood has value in the U.S. today.  We should always be Proud to espouse manhood as a worthy attribute.  I am proud to have been a Boy Scout, I am proud to be the man that it helped shape me as, and I believe there should always be a sense of pride for boys and men who seek to become the best man they can.


"The Lord is my shepherd."  Psalm 23:1

"Not was, not may be, nor will be.  'The Lord is my shepherd.'  He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week.  He is in January, in December, and every month of the year.  He is when I'm at home and in China.  He is during peace or war, and in times of abundance or poverty."
- J. Hudson Taylor.