Read Now (at No Charge)

How to navigate to "Straying Home," my e-book about adolescent self-discovery through global travel. Just click on a Chapter tab, 1 to 5, immediately below.

Saturday, July 15, 2017



GLACIERS turn to LAKE WATER. MELTING of ICEBERG turns to HIGHER TIDE

This past week I spent time in the "Oregon Alps," magnificent mountains in Northeastern Oregon State, U.S.A. The region is known as the Wallowa Mountains.

The lake-bed below was formed at the foot of the mountains by glaciers during the Pleistocene era, only 11,700 years ago.   

Lake Wallowa, Oregon

What a sight my family and I enjoyed as we drove on a highway along the eastern shore. But I tried to imagine the sight years ago when the lake-bed was filled with a glacier! I did envision it and I talked about it. This glacier ran from the peaks above to the current lake bed. Today, vacation houses perch contentedly just above the lake on rocky glacial moraine. In sum, the former glacier is reduced to a few snowfields in the Wallowa mountain peaks.  




The remains of the former glacier, now scarcely nothing but seasonal snowfields. 
Photo copyright Darrell Reeck, 2017.

The lake itself is fed by snow-melt that forms into a creek and plunges down the mountainside. The stream levels out in a meadow bisecting the lawn of the Wallowa Lake Lodge on the east side and a state park on the west side. Deer meander along the stream, exciting tourists.


A buck in velvet on the river bank, July, 2017
Photo copyright Darrell Reeck, 2017.

Same story (shrinking glaciers) on Mount Rainier, about 260 miles to the northwest of Wallowa. When I visited the Mount Rainier National Park as a youngster fifty years ago, the nose of the glacier extended to within easy sight of the Nisqually River Bridge. But in an ominously worried tone of voice my Dad told me, "The glacier is shrinking." He was correct. Now the glacier has retreated dramatically up around the corner of a canyon and is not in sight from the bridge.

So far, human life has adapted to melting, shrinking ice-fields, ice caps and glaciers.

But our scientists have discovered that changes in water stored on mountains and at the poles as ice are coming faster now. They point to the saturation of the atmosphere with higher levels of carbon dioxide. 

Here's an example of very recent ice cap change at the South Pole:





The dark channel is a recent break in the icecap of the South Pole
Image credit: NASA.Gov/Public Domain via  Wunderground.com

What happens when the polar icecaps begin to melt faster? As the ice turns to water the level of the oceans rises. In fact, scientists have estimated that the level of the seas could rise by ten feet by 2100. That's if melting continues at the present rate. The risk to human lifestyles is immense.

The president of the U.S.A. might call all of the above "fake science" or "fake facts". But as a real estate developer, Donald Trump, is "very, very smart" and always lookin' for a better deal. So, it makes sense to let him know that many of his properties are at risk, and his legacy too, by rising sea levels. Just one example: what would a ten foot rise in the level of the Atlantic, along the Florida coast, mean for Mar a Lago, Trump's "summer White House" on coastal Florida? Glub glub.

What can you and I do to get Trump back into the conversation about global warming?

One or two suggestions: 

Call the White House Comments line: 202-456-1111, M-through-F, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time zone. Suggested message: "I support the Paris Accords to slow climate change. You should too. While you're at it, refund the Environmental Protection Agency."  And call your Senators, your Representative and your state governor with your message. 

Just as science can teach us a lot about God's purposes in creating nature (S. J. Gamertsfelder), it can also teach us about our moral duties. One such duty is to conserve the planet for future generations. If we're going to save our moral heritage and our physical basis for existence, we must act.

P.S. Important additional information, selected by Dr. Al Eggers,  at this link:http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-point-of-no-return-climate-change-nightmares-are-already-here-20150805. Please copy into your browser and read.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

LILLIAN FALLS INTO DESPAIR, THEN RENEWS HOPE AS SHE DIPS INTO CHRISTIAN VIEWS ON EARTH CARE


Meet Lillian: a grandmother in her seventh decade of life.

In her college days a half-century ago she was challenged by the Limits to Growth books (Meadows.)

As a student, she committed herself to working for a world in which human societies lived in balance with natural surroundings. As time passed, “Growing more Green” dominated her grocery shopping and energy usage at home. She was so hopeful. Space photos depicted earth as small but beautiful.


Earth as seen from Apollo 17. NASA photo. In the public domain.


Then, in just the past year she experienced a blistering attack on her dreams and values as an anti-green party came to dominate the national political scene in America, her homeland. The Environmental Protection Agency, which had worked toward standards friendly to nature as well as to humankind—well, the EPA was gutted.

Lillian was crushed. All those past years of work and gains just washed down the drain. What would happen to the people in coastal areas, especially those in Louisiana whose island habitats were already eroding due to high water? What would the world be like for her own grandchildren when the average temperature rose worldwide? What if her grandkids will be living the southern U.S., which will be so hard hit?  


What about beloved beaches like this in Oregon? With higher water and more vicious storms? 
What about ice fields up north and down south? Lillian pondered thoughts like that.


On June 1, 2017, the President withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement/Accord de Paris and broke Liliian’s spirit. She broke down in tears about global warming. In despair, she expressed herself to her son and daughter. Gratefully, she found that they agreed with her. 

Despite her broken heart, she continued to read her newspaper. Even this morning (7/8/2017) her despair deepened again when she read about her president's isolating the U.S. from other nations in the G20 meeting in Germany.

But just recently she began to recover when learned that California had stepped forward to take the lead in America in support of the Paris Accord. She read that Washington State had committed immediately to act in concert with California, and many other states had come on board also.

Then she read that some of her own state’s largest employers (Nike, Intel, etc.) voluntarily pledged to conduct their industrial process to Paris Accord standards. Even before a week was out, her newspaper reported that “We are still In,” a private program to organize support for the Paris Agreement, was taking hold. Not only employers but her state, her city, colleges and universities, a large electrical utility, and many others in her part of the U.S., had signed on.  

She learned that colleges and universities had pledged themselves to conform to the Paris Agreement.
Then she read that another nation, France, was working toward a goal of no petrol-fueled cars by 2040.  “Fantastic! Hallelujah!” she thought. 


"Think Big! This is the World We're Trying to Save" says Lillian
Lake Wenatchee, Washington 
Photo published with permission of Marcie Swift, photographer

She began to talk with her grand kids. Would they want to lobby their school district to support the Paris Accord?  Both in greening the schools’ utility consumption and in classroom programs?  The kids said “Yes.” She discussed ways they could intercede in student council, with teachers, and with their principal. They said, "We could get into that." 

She decided she’d ask her pastor if the church could pay more attention to caring for God’s green earth.

“Why yes,” said her pastor. “Are you aware of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, ‘Laudato Si’?"


“Absolutely,” said her pastor. “Climate change and earth care. We have a study program coming up this fall on ‘Laudato Si.’ Will you help me organize it?”

"I'll let you know."     

Still lying awake at night mulling about this, she’s finally concluded: “The battle has just begun. It’s up to us. We the people will march for growing green. I’m going to march in front rank. But how shall I, just one person, do what needs to be done?”

She began to make a list:
·         Telephone my representatives (local, state, national).
·         Join that Bible class on Pope Francis and get his ideas.
·         Talk more with the grandkids as the school year begins.
·         Get ideas from my utilities on greener appliances and heating habits.
·         And so on. Add your own ideas.

Look up. Act. Live. Share Lillians's story with a friend.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WAYS TO MAKE INDEPENDENCE DAY COME ALIVE!


You and your family: celebrate a great Fourth of July, keep the original spirit of the day and also have a lot of fun.



Remember the origins. The day was dedicated to 1, fun, games and 2, solemn assemblies recognizing independence from Great Britain in 1776. 

Years ago: John Adams, 2nd president of the U.S., wrote to his wife, Abigail, saying:
“. . . it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.Wikipedia,  citing a John Adams letter.





Fourth of July fireworks over San Diego Bay. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)


Now, on to inexpensive ideas for fun and games today:

1, Join a parade. Before writing, I asked my granddaughter about her plans for the 4th. She plans to play her flute in her middle school marching band, parading, amidst floats and scout troops, through Oak Hills, Oregon. Search your community to find the July 4th parade you can watch or march in.


Does your community have an event like this? I bet it does.

2. Fly your American flag or flags. I’m certain my neighbors will be flying their flags. Some on poles. Others—small ones--tucked into flower boxes or lawns. Put the flag away at sunset. Ask a child in your family to help you hoist your flag happily or take it down respectfully. Teach by doing.


Fly your Flag


3. Plan your own celebration, ranging from a neighborhood picnic in a park to a family event in your yard. Remembering that the U.S. is a melting pot, make the party multiracial if possible.


   




Ready Soon, Hot, with pie crust star and red sprinkles. Courtesy: my wife



Ah, out of the oven, ready to serve up. See the stars?  Courtesy: my wife, who's produced 
baked treats like these ever since she won a medal at the Oregon State Fair.

4. Write out great Fourth of July quotations on slips of paper, one quote on each slip. Let each person around the table read a quote. This is how my mother, as hostess, gave everyone a chance to be involved. Find scintallating quotes at this link. 

5. Create a Fourth of July "what's-in-it?" gift box for your kids or guests. "What's in it" might include: a miniature flag, fun-but-harmless fireworks, Fourth of July candy, a Happy Fourth of July card. You'll have other ideas too. Just make it fun.

6. Remember that “being American” means to speak out about your love of country. It also means listening respectfully to the other person, even if you have different points of view. We live to overcome division in a divided country. We are united as one in the land of the brave and the free.

Call out those who would tweet others down, especially if the tweeter occupies a high, responsible position. Let us reclaim our patriotism and our common values, such as "All persons are created equal." This 4th, 2017, in light of two recent presidential tweets against the free press, remember "freedom of the press" as a national value, just as it was in 1776.



The Thrill of Fireworks  (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

One of my "sacred" stories from the of July, 1969 in Tacoma, Washington. I was young (30 years of age), my lovely wife was pregnant and on schedule to deliver in a few days, and we'd just returned to the U.S. from living one year in the heat of tropical West Africa. We'd moved into our new home on North 29th Street in Tacoma, WA. FYI, Tacoma is famous for its great 4th of July fireworks show on Commencement Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound, which is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I had grown up in Tacoma and had watched the celebrations as a younger person.




Small Flags in a Pot: Seen in an Older Adult Community

This particular Fourth was chilly and rainy. I bundled up to walk down to a view spot. But when the Air Force fighters flew over at eye level and then climbed steeply at full throttle, well, I forgot the cold! And the the incredible fireworks in the sky, reflected in the dark waters of Commencement Bay, I was proud. It thrills me to remember this story.

Memories like those of Adams are our national sacred stories.  Do you have a "sacred story" about the Fourth that you can tell? Share it. . .below in writing for the blog community or with a friend.



May your 4th be great!. Live brave, live free.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

FOUR WAYS TO SURROUND DAD WITH LOVE

Father's Day June 18, 2017

Against all common sense, Father's Day had a rough time getting traction in the U.S.

The Roman Catholic Church had celebrated Father's Day throughout their global connection since the 15th century or so, and the Coptic Catholics celebrate it also. But other religions and protestant Christianity did not celebrate Father's Day.



My dad, Clarence, and me

How, then, did it get lodged in our national calendar as a holiday here in the U.S.?

Father's day was first celebrated voluntarily in Spokane, beginning in the 1910s. Mother's day was first celebrated there also, slightly earlier earlier. If mothers could be celebrated, why not dads too? I imagine the thinking in the city went something like that.

A bit later, a great president, Woodrow Wilson, went to Spokane to announce his attempt to get Congress to approve it as a national holiday. But the feisty Congress rejected the idea, reportedly because it "would be commercialized." Well, of course it would, but was that sufficient reason to oppose Wilson's suggestion?

Various national figures kept promoting Father's Day and seeking its establishment. Finally, in 1976,
Congress vote to recognize Fathers Day and President Richard Nixon signed it into law.  Wikipedia tells the story.

Given all of that, how can you celebrate the Day with your dad, no matter what nation you're in?

Idea 1: a trip with the family somewhere--wherever you think your dad would like to go. In the city, in the countryside, off to church/synagogue/temple, mosque--you name it. Many religious congregations will speak of their men's ministries on Father's Day, and Catholics, especially, will remember St. Joseph, the father of Jesus.

Idea 2: A personal visit. I'm pictured above with my dad. He was already into Alzheimer's and in assisted living in Tacoma at the time of the photo. He could go nowhere, but my wife and I visited him in his room and said good, appreciative things to him. He enjoyed it; we enjoyed it too.

Congress was right. Father's Day, once official, was commercialized. Not equal to Mother's Day, perhaps. But you don't have to purchase more than a card and a special dessert. Any recognition will be appreciated. That's my experience.

Idea 3: a touching example. On the Sunday after his testimony in Congress, former F.B.I. Director James Comey attended mass with his father and mother in New Jersey. The story and the video are lovely, touching, so human. Comey, dressed very informally, helps his dad navigate the walker up the cement ramp and through the door into the little Catholic church. After mass, James helps his dad toward the car and allows a boy to take a photo of his young friends with Comey. It all seemed so gracious, so normal-American.We can copy James Comey.         

Are there great fathers? Joseph, father of Jesus, is undoubtedly one. But there are so many millions of others. Thank God for them all. And Father's Day is celebrated worldwide on various dates. That makes billions of fathers who should be celebrated on the appropriate day in their country.

P.S. Another idea for your use: let Dad in on an activity. For instance, here's my daughter, granddaughter, and me along with the ripe strawberries we picked Friday night, 6/16/2016, at a farm on Sauvie Island, Oregon. It was a privilege for me and my wife to share in that family activity, and just right for father's day weekend..


From the Ten Commandments (basic scripture for Jews, Christians and Muslims:) Honor thy father and thy mother.

Go for it. Do it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

SEE THIS PARADE: EXPERIENCE THE REAL LOOK AND FEEL OF AMERICA


Hearings, jeerings, conflicts, name-calling--the Washington, D.C. Merry go Round, as prize columnist Drew Pearson called it years ago. This version of America dominates the news. If you're run-down by it, no surprise. When things are this gloomy it’s an energy drain. How can you charge your emotional battery?

Maybe you need to find a place of release and relief from the daily news buffeting. A good way is to take a break and experience the real U.S.A. on parade.

Today I did this myself. I got a dose of the real America. I attended the Rose Parade in Portland, Oregon. A high school student wearing an Islamic head covering was introduced as one of the princesses of the Rose Parade. An Asian-American band composed of participants from the U.S. and Canada marched..  


Vietnamese-Americans parade the Flag; the Audience stands in Respect

Native American Indians representing the federated tribes of Grande Ronde paraded.  The "Festa Flora" featured a Panama Folkore-Seattle group.



Central American Americans celebrate the U.S.A.

All of this helped me to see my city and the United States as open to the broader world. The respect for the paraded flag of the United States, for which the audience stood, hands over hearts, meant that people of all the cultural origins were true Americans.

I returned home renewed, refreshed. I'd seen the real America, my land in which people from many cultures live, work and celebrate together. The Northwestern U.S. (states of Oregon, Washington) is very much a Pacific-Rim-oriented place. Your city or state may have a different focus, depending on location. Wherever you live in the U.S., I'll bet that the presence of multiple national and cultural backgrounds is the same. Certainly it is in other places where I've lived (Washington State, Chicagoland, New York, New Jersey.) 


A Chinese Dragon entry in the Portland Rose Parade

I experienced an open, multi-cultural American, not one engaged in creating barriers to keep foreigners out. Not one "protected" by old men imposing immigration and travel bans.

I can say that my most favorite part of the Parade was the sight of hundreds of people from many cultures standing to salute the paraded American flag and to celebrate their own America. I can be more relaxed, knowing that the nation is alive with hope, appreciation and acceptance. I experienced myself it at the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade, June 10, 2017.

I took a break and I'm convinced that America is not the place we need to protect from this culture or that one. America is already multi-cultural.

What are your plans for the Fourth of July? Can you plan to take a break, go to a parade and experience the true America, the land of the free? You'll be refreshed and you'll feel the hope.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

EARTHLINGS ALL











Brother Cyril Drnjevic (l.), his aunt, Lucy Reeck, Darrell Reeck. Brother Cyril is featured in the University of Puget Sound Alumni Magazine, Spring, 2017. His life story inspires. To read it click here.  Recently Br. Cyril and his aunt met Lucy and me at a Portland restaurant for a meal and a celebration of the "Arches" piece on him.




THE PRESIDENT'S 2018 BUDGET PROPOSAL: WILL IT HELP YOUR FAMILY?

Will the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget help you, your family, and our common good? Those are my questions as I pick my way through the Budget.

The Budget has been released. I’ve read the official White House FACT SHEET. I'll be quoting from it, start here:

“. . .we must restore the greatness of our Nation. . . .” (Emphasis mine.)

That’s the ultimate goal invoked for the Budget. It’s a moral goal, an over-riding moral good, and achieving that goal is the end toward which the national budget is crafted. (I note here that the budget and its goal is an extension of his 2016 presidential campaign, which ran under the same slogan.)

Well, as Jim Wallis of Sojourners says, “We say that a budget is a moral document.” 

I agree wholeheartedly with Wallis and in that vein I suggest that you ask, “Is the president’s budget proposal moving us toward greater common good?” That's the primary moral question for a national budget according to my ethics teachers. 

Let's get right down to earth here. I’ll pose some questions—like ones that you might have. Will the federal Budget help the common good? Let's bring the Budget down to where you live. Will the federal Budget help your family achieve peace and happiness as Americans?


Question: how many vacations (weekend vacations plus one- or two- week vacations) has your family taken in the past five years? Is your ability to afford vacations increasing, decreasing or stable?

Answer: To take my family as representative, our ability to afford vacations has not changed over the past ten years. I think the President doesn’t need to restore the nation to greatness in regard to this aspect of life.

Question: ask the same question in a different context. Are you more or less able to take paid vacation time than residents of other countries?

Answer: American workers get about 20 days paid vacation after 25 years of tenure. Workers in other developed nations get 20 days of paid vacation by law regardless of how many years they’ve worked. In this respect the U.S. has never achieved greatness.

So, is the White House proposing legal mandates for paid vacations? You can safely bet that the answer is “no.” But if the answer were “yes,” the U.S. might achieve greatness in regard to paid vacation time. The Budget fails this simple test.

Question: The Fact Sheet talks about supplying more jobs. So let’s look at a job-related question: is the unemployment rate higher, lower, or equal to the same rate for May, 2010, seven years ago?

Answer: In May 2017: the unemployment rate was reported as 4.3%.  In May 2010: unemployment rate was 9.6%. Chances are doubled that someone in your family was unemployed seven years ago than now. The American economy is doing very well, for persons seeking work. The Fact Sheet is airy fairy on unemployment.

Question: is the U.S. held down by a stagnant economy, as claimed in the Fact Sheet? I don’t experience our economy to be stagnant. Do you and your family? Are you living alright, or even living well, on your income right now? Do you own investments? Are they doing okay? Major stock indexes are making new highs. The Budget is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Another Question the Fact Sheet omits, but it's pertinent: is your Mom making as much as your Dad?

Under Senators Bernie Sander’s and Senator Patty Murray’s “Raise the Wage Act 2017” proposal, “. . .over 11.6 million working parents would receive higher pay. Nearly a third of working mothers (7.6 million) would receive a raise and almost half of all working single mothers (3.6 million) would receive a raise.” http://www.epi.org/publication/lets-give-moms-a-raise-this-mothers-day/   

If my wife were working for less than $15 an hour right now, I’d say that women workers are not getting equal pay. The statistics above prove that a lot of women are in that category and need help. The government should help the underpaid women but that obligation isn’t recognized in the 2018 proposed Budget. The Budget ignores a real prolem.

The 2018 Budget Fact Sheet is loaded with a lot of great value-words, like “Reform,” “Provide a Path,” Reduce Improper Payments” and so forth. Its skillful use such terms makes beguiling reading. But don't be deceived. Look under the surface, as my questions have forced me to do, and it seems like propaganda language because the budgetary facts don't line up with the high-falutin' terms.

The primary moral value, "the common good,"  is the most relevant value term for thinking about this or any federal budget. Does the budget move us closer to reaching the common good? 

The president’s budget will probably cost you and most other families. Unless your family happens to be in the elite highest income bracket. Then the budget will help you by lowering your federal income tax each year.

If you’re a single parent with three or more dependent children, you’ll actually pay more. 

Who will gain most from the budget and its associated tax proposal? Re. taxes due, the most wealthy and most corporations will benefit most. Corporate tax rates will be lowered from a top tax rate of 35% to 15%.http://www.grbj.com/blogs/1-banking-finance/post/88099-president-trumps-proposed-tax-reform.

Pope Francis and other ethics teachers prompt us to ask how well is the government budget enhancing the common good”. 

"The Common Good" is forward-looking and includes justice as a principle.

In comparison, "Restoring the Greatness of our Nation" is backward-looking, vague and subject to multiple interpretations. What, exactly, does it mean? 

It allows that re-allocating the nation's wealth via tax savings toward the already-wealthy is its means to the end. 

In that respect, the Budget as a tool to increase the common good is a shocking step backward. 

Conclusion: whatever budget is ultimately adopted for 2018, it’s got to be a lot different than the president’s proposal or it won’t move us toward the common good.

P.S. I sure wish this post had been more fun for you to read and me to write. It's not enjoyable to be an American right now, watching the trashing of our common value system and the ripping-off of our lower and middle range classes via the federal Budget.