Saturday, October 9, 2010


Dean Kevin Martin of the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Dallas, Texas made an interesting point in his sermon last Sunday. The Dean’s message was simple and clear. When we see or experience something that is beyond the pale of public acceptance and perhaps even the law of the land, then we are obligated to run it up the flagpole for all to see and judge. Righteously motivated The Might of Right will occasionally highlight issues that fall under the banner of what Dean Kevin refers to as, it just ain’t right.

We have the right, yea, the obligation in our democratic society (within the limits imposed by law and common decency) to protest behaviors that push the boundaries of common sense and legality. Dean Kevin invoked the example of the irresponsible actions of the Wall Street barons who took home millions in 2008 while under their watch their employers lost billions bringing the United States and the world near total bankruptcy – and then received golden parachutes for doing just that. It just ain’t right.

Along the same lines and as citizen journalist Paul Wallis in Canada’s Digital Journal commented in 2009, “If you steal a pair of shoes, you’re legally understood to have committed a crime. If you misrepresent every asset, decimate the nation’s capital investment, and wipe out trillions of dollars worth of people’s money, the net legal reaction is ‘Um….’” It just ain’t right.

The new millions of Americans who worked hard all their lives and then through no fault of their own have descended to or below the poverty level because of the loss of jobs and the decimation of their retirement plans remain testament to the profiteering efforts of those motivated by greed. It just ain’t right.

We all know that the current economic conditions and the dwindling prospects of a timely recovery have affected the beliefs and attitudes of most folks enhancing and encouraging even further volatility. It is an understatement to offer that the collective consciousness of our country has dramatically changed. We are not in a good mood and that spells a ripple effect and foreboding of further challenges (reap what we sow, self-fulfilling prophecies, etc.). While we are best served by taking an optimistic view we will be dramatically hurt if we continue our negative ways and the overall lack of civility which seems to now characterize our society.
It just ain’t right.

Speaking of civility or the lack thereof: Eighty year old pastor Fred Phelps and his anti-gay fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church (mostly his relatives) have apparently decided that God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality by the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Huh? Therefore the parishioners of the Westboro Church have been picketing soldier’s funerals across the country and carrying signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" along with other equally hideous and disrespectful messages including, “God Hates You”. In my practice of the Christian Faith God doesn’t hate anybody

We note that the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Church is monitored as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. In May 2009, Phelps and his daughter Shirley were placed on the United Kingdom Home Office's "name and shame" list of people barred from entering the UK for "fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence".

In the case of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder - killed in Iraq in 2006 - Westboro Baptist Church members picketed Snyder’s funeral with the aforementioned signs and were alleged to have posted online messages saying that the Snyder family had “raised him for the devil.” This matter is still being decided in the courts, presently in the Supreme Court. First Amendment and free speech rights or not, It just ain’t right.

And what about 97 year old convicted war criminal - Nazi Waffen SS Captain Erich Priebke who was sentenced to life imprisonment in his Rome apartment? Further rubbing everybody’s nose in it, the Italian Court has allowed Priebke to leave house arrest for such everyday activities as shopping or going to church so that he may take care of the “indispensable needs for his life."? We think that this looks and sounds like someone living a “normal” life. The ruling has sparked outrage and protests throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. The Might of Right didn’t realize that there was a statute of limitations for, “crimes against humanity.” It just ain’t right.”

The behaviors of BP Oil and their attempts to cover up the full impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill coupled with the incredible insensitivities of then BP CEO Tony Hayward are seemingly trumped by yet another revelation – the extent of the use of prison labor.

BP is now engaging a huge and well-orchestrated PR blitz to repair its tattered image by proudly declaring that it has hired the, then and now, local populations of the Gulf Coast to handle the clean-up. While we know that’s partially true, we learned recently that part of their local, out of work employees included local – mostly African American prison inmates. How do we know this to be true? The inmates were wearing scarlet pants and white t-shirts with the words "Inmate Labor" printed in large red block letters on their backs. This was a poorly kept secret especially after local residents protested followed by many media revelations and finally the July 21, 2010 article in The Nation by Abe Louise Young.

Now, I don’t have a problem with BP using this readily available, cheap work force along with local residents so long as all workers know the risks, volunteer and are properly trained and equipped. It’s also a redemptive opportunity for these inmates to contribute positively to society in contrast to at least some of their past behaviors. However, instead of running their program up the flagpole for all to see and appreciate, BP’s reaction was to literally change the inmates’ uniforms from prison garb to BP Shirts, jeans and rubber boots and then withhold public comment causing folks to wonder about the deception (or at least deflection). We now know the reasons for the stonewall and all the law enforcement at some of these work sites. Gang, it just ain’t right.

The always bizarre Lady Gaga wore a controversial meat dress (and hat, shoes and purse) made from an estimated 40 pounds of flank steak to the September 12th MTV Video Music Awards. In a show of incredible stupidity and insensitivity in an era of deprivation and want Lady Gaga and designer Franc Fernandez have managed to offend just about everybody except a few fashion flames and the anything goes crowd.

Then comes along Bruce Willis on the October 4 David Letterman Show wearing a bright red hair piece that he billed as 100 percent pure organic sirloin beef. Obviously inspired by Lady Gaga, Willis, though he later tried to convince the media that the apparent steak tartare piece was faux meat (looked real to me), should receive the Meathead of The Year Award for that stunt and for all the aforementioned reasons. If Willis’ intent was to mock and ridicule Lady Gaga, he didn’t succeed. PETA’s understandable reaction (they deserve each other) and the attendant waste by Gaga and Willis (no, I’m not vegetarian) points to a lack of understanding and connection to the real world. It just ain’t right.

And what about that driver sitting at Preston Road in Plano, Texas and apparently contemplating a right hand, southerly turn as I approached from the north. Some 200 feet away I noticed the driver and just had one of those intuitive moments that said, “Watch out for that one.” I approached though slowing down to about 40 miles an hour (below the speed limit) and at 100 feet, fifty and then thirty feet – yes, he turned out right in front of me. I had to slam on my brakes and swerve into the center lane. Without missing a beat and at a slow rate of speed – maybe five to ten miles an hour – he takes absolutely no notice. But how could he? He was on his cell phone and chatting and gesturing and posturing with great vigor.
It just ain’t right.

And finally, we have Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler who recently proclaimed that Yoga and all that stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is, “not a Christian pathway to God.” Now I know a lot of Christian folks who participate in Yoga-based exercise classes without all the chanting and references to Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism and they appear to be comfortable with their pathway and ultimate salvation.

Mohler said he objects to, "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine." Well, that statement conflicts with my Christian taught principle that cultivation of the mind, soul and body can lead to a more fulfilling life and the attainment of Christian ideals.

Methinks that we are talking about two entities here: Yoga the exercise and meditation activities and Yoga the religion in all its myriad forms. Now if I am a practicing Yogi I could care less about Mohler or his perspectives – just another ugly, eccentric American. If I use the elements of Yoga (all that stretching and meditation) then I am trying to figure out where this guy’s coming from. Mohler appears to be just another ethnocentric individual uncomfortable with the reality and perceived threat of any alternate, competing philosophy/theology (my way or the highway). Where do these people come from and why do we give them so much control over our lives? It just ain’t right.

More later, I am sure. Lots of material - all I have to do is watch the news every day.


Ned Buxton

No comments: