There is no difference
People have differing opinions on the decision to exclude the Islamic Call to Worship from the concert at the First Congregational Church, and I accept that I cannot change that. What is absolutely unacceptable is the ignorance demonstrated by the pastor, church council members and our community at large.
Christians, Muslims and Jews are all People of the Book. This means we share one very important thing; we all worship the same God. Muslims do not worship a different God. Allah is simply the Arabic word for God; Christian Copts in Egypt refer to God as Allah; there is no difference. Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same origins, but have developed with different tenets and forms of worship. The Muslim Call to Worship is the same as a Christian priest asking the congregation to bow their head in prayer — our prayers end up in the same place.
Pluralism is something Americans should be inordinately proud of; our ability as a society to respect others' traditions makes us great. As Christians we should embrace every opportunity to showcase tolerance and love for our Muslim and Jewish cousins instead of shunning them in embarrassment and ignorance.
It seems that the National Rifle Association trounces on any attempt at gun control legislation. The James Brady bill presented an opportunity to curtail weapons in questionable hands; instead, the NRA lobbied to weaken the bill's five-day background check. Is it the simple assertion of the right to bear arms at any cost, or does fear drive the NRA? I think it's time to look at the Second Amendment. We've gone too far in our interpretation.
Arsenals of guns are piling up in homes, for who knows what reason, and apparently the NRA feels people are justified to do just that. There seems to be no stopping the accumulation of weapons by private citizens. Perhaps soon, the United States will look like scenes we see coming from the Middle East of men and boys riding around in the back of trucks, assault weapons slung over their shoulders.
It seems we have lost the ability to communicate — to talk, to write, to listen, even to think, and now there's a legislative push for weapons in places of worship and education. Something is terribly wrong. We seem to be getting farther away from sensibility and moving into the realm of sensationalism.
In the wake of the heroism displayed by the staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School, we should reevaluate our attitude toward public employees. All, including teachers, have been caricatured by politicians as under-worked and over-paid. We've cut their pay, benefits, retirement and now, their right to require that co-workers contribute to bargaining expenses.
These victims were reportedly killed attempting to "tackle" an armed intruder, while confronting him to deflect him from their innocent charges and while using their bodies to shield children from semi-automatic gunfire. While politicians are afraid to even discuss a ban on assault weapons or high volume magazines, these women gave their lives with selfless courage. Ironically, within 24 hours of our Legislature appeasing gun manufacturers and the NRA yet again.
We've allowed partisan politics to blind us to the devotion of public servants. As exceptional as the actions of the adult victims at Sandy Hook were, they do not surprise observers of the every-day dedication of public school employees: I believe we would have seen a similar response from the staff at any public school. Unfortunately, we don't appreciate these folks until their selfless dedication is illuminated by a tragedy like 9-11 or Sandy Hook.
George R. Thompson
A fine business plan
Let me see if I have this right. For years, the National Rifle Association has been saying people need guns to protect themselves from the government. Now, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the NRA message is that the government should hire and arm thousands of cops to protect our school children against "¦ bad people who own guns.
This seems a fine business plan for gun manufacturers: Sell my neighbor a gun for protection against me, then persuade me to buy a bigger gun to defend against my neighbor.
But I wonder if it really makes anyone more safe. In fact, it feels a bit like a domestic version of America's policy in Afghanistan.
How's that working out, by the way?
Open minds, hearts
I find it very disturbing how intolerance is raising its head in Traverse City. We have now had two concerts altered with what amounts to bigotry. If we are truly a Christian nation we need these opportunities to open our minds and hearts to accept others.
Driven past relevancy
A few hundred years ago, Edmund Spenser wrote about women, "Such wondrous forms ought rather worshipped be than dared be loved by men of mean degree." Had Mr. Spenser been writing in contemporary America he might have penned, "Such wondrous forms ought rather worshipped be than menaced by Republicans of mean degree."
Thankfully, women repudiated the medieval mind-set of the Republican party platform in our latest presidential election. Yes, the Republican bus has just driven past the last exit leading to relevancy for women. A slight variation of John Milton's own words describing his personal plight is applicable to the plight of the GOP. "When without fortune in women's eyes, we all alone beweep our outcast state."