*********************************************PAGE ON VIETNAM AND DEMOCRATS .******************************************

Monday, December 30, 2013

Words Mean a Lot

The young girl, probably a member of the staff, was given a significant role in being the first to address members of the Senate joined with members of the House at the opening of the spring legislative session in Hawaii some time ago. With great ceremony and a strong and vibrant voice she called out to this audience as well as a number of us sitting in the balcony “the agenda is laying on the table”.  She had the opportunity to say the very same thing several times. 

As I listened to her call, the uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment for this young lady grew within me as she repeated this call;  I had realized the error she had made in the use of the word “laying” as my memory had gravitated to the elementary school education I had long ago where, unlike today, we students were taught the proper usages of key words in the English language.

The statement should have been “the agenda is lying on the table”.  Some will say what difference does it make if somebody says laying instead of lying?; it makes a difference certainly to those who feel that rules in language are good and make language beautiful when used correctly, especially in important events like the legislative session described above.

What was going through my mind was: “What is the agenda laying on the table?” Naturally the answer “an egg” usually came to mind.

The situation is this. Without going into definitions and rules that won’t make sense to anyone who has not learned this in elementary and high school, lets try and get a feel for the use of lie and lay:

The word “lie” means, as an example, a person who reclines on a couch, or bed at the present time; the person in seen usually in a prone position.  It can exist in various forms:  
I like to lie down on my bed.  
George lies on the new bed
George is lying on the new bed.  
Matt has not yet lain on the new bed.  
I was so tired I had to lie down.

On the other hand the word “lay” has two meanings: 
(1) a person who reclined at a previous or past time.  
He was so tired he lay down for a long nap.  
He lay there sleeping as I left.
(2) a person taking a book and placing it on a table; so it means taking an object (not yourself) and doing something with it that results in the object being in a different place.  
He lay the book on the desk and walked away.  
Lay down your weapon.  
We saw him laying the pot on the ground.  

So “lay” either expresses reclining in the past or placing some object down on something.
I’m so tired now I hope this helps, but I must lie down.  After I have lain down for a while I’ll continue with more examples.  I have laid the groundwork for you to understand.  Lie down and lay your head on a pillow.  I found my keys lying on the counter but I had not laid them there.

P.S. I am not responsible for any errors made in the foregoing. 

That's a lie!  Oh Gosh, not another meaning for lie!  Well, that's the English language!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

When we celebrate Christmas we think of the exchanging of gifts which many times entails the mad rush of people in stores to purchase gifts for those they care about. In addition we think of Christmas time as being a season of joy, of peace, and of love; when Christmas Day arrives children arise early to rush to the Christmas tree, bedecked with beautiful ornaments and lit with scores of lights intertwined among the branches, in order to open the packages from their parents, relatives and Santa Claus with expressions of glee that can only be evoked by children.   Then, in a Christian family, the parents and children may attend religious services to  celebrate the birth of a baby named Jesus in a manger 2000 years ago.   In a non-Christian family, just as in the Christian family, a Christmas party involving the celebration of friends and family with the exchanging of gifts is of great importance.

Many times, after Christmas has passed, there is a mix of feelings ranging from great satisfaction in having a successful Christmas celebration to a feeling that all the effort put into having a great celebration has been tiring and now it’s time to get on with other things that are of everyday concern and importance. In other words to some people Christmas is simply a time for celebration and not much thought of a deep nature is given the experience.  For some, Christmas  Is a time of sadness and pain because of dark thoughts of spiritual loss that cannot be compensated for by some great party of celebrants full of laughter while having a jolly time. It is said that not just a few commit suicide during this time because of the sadness in their hearts and minds.

Having a perspective on the true meaning and importance of Christmas can be a help in making the experience of celebrating Christmas more beneficial to the hearts and minds of those wanting a good experience of Christmas.   In the New Testament of the Bible the gospel of St. John the apostle, who walked with Jesus Christ during his public revelation to the Jews, wrote one of the four Gospels which are testaments of four writers who experienced Jesus Christ’s mission on earth. John’s gospel is a masterpiece of prose explaining events with much greater depth of thought and feeling than the other writers.

He begins in his prologue:
     In the beginning was the Word,
     And the Word was with God,
     And the Word was God,

(John uses Word to mean the Son of God and this verse is part of Christ’s revelation to his apostles, or followers, that He, Jesus Christ, is the second person of a three person God, but with only one Nature, meaning that He, Jesus, the Son of God the Father, is God just as His Father is God.  But their person hoods allow them to play different roles − just think of only one God being made up of three personalities, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; but only one God)

He continues:
     He was in the beginning with God,
(John means that the Son of God coexisted with the Father “for all eternity” which is the meaning of “in the beginning”)

     All things came to be through him,
     And without him nothing came to be.
(John reveals that the Son of God is the person of God responsible for all Creation)

Next he writes:
     What came to be through him was life,
     And this life was the light of the human race;    (“light” here means again the “Son of God”)
     The light shines in the darkness,
     And the darkness has not overcome it.

     A man named John (the Baptist) was sent from God.
     He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
     So that all might believe through him.

     He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
     The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

(At this point the writer reveals that the Son of God is coming into the world.)

      And the Word became flesh
      And made his dwelling among us,

(Here the writer calls attention to the Son of God being born − the First Christmas in Bethlehem.  The law, that is, the Commandments were given to human beings through Moses but Grace and Truth come to us through Jesus Christ.  John also reveals that Jesus Christ, the Son of God will empower with his grace, all those who accept Christ, to become children of God, that is, in a spiritual sense they will lead their lives in the love of God who in turn will bring them to Himself in paradise.)

Thus the birth of Christ in the first Christmas (and all Christmases thereafter) is the watershed between ancient times where only the law might be present and the birth of Christ where all manner of Grace, with the revelations and sacrifices of Christ, become our birthright and will ensure our successful passage through this life to eternal life with God.

Preparation for Christmas by thinking deeply on the great gift of God, God’s son, to us in the humanity of Jesus Christ allows us, no matter what our condition might be, to benefit from so great a gift as God giving himself to us, so great a love does God have for mankind.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The best Thanksgiving

My younger daughter and her husband had just finished putting the finishing touches on the sale of their condominium in Los Angeles which they had rented out for a number of years. With their four young children of ages one through seven, they now quickly packed for the trip to the Big Island of Hawaii to join my wife, myself and her older sister and new husband of one year arriving with our eleven year old granddaughter.   My older daughter and husband had just moved into their new home in Atlanta after renting her townhouse; they had hardly enough time to prepare for the trip to the big island preceded by a stay with us in Honolulu for a few days.

It was my hope that having sufficiently recuperated from my surgery to repair an aneurysm in my left leg, I would be strong enough to be able to take my granddaughter for a walk in the neighborhood as we had done many times before on previous visits, but the full healing process had not yet taken place so that her Stepdad along with her Mom took her on walks of 10 or 15 min. My limit was about 1 minute and perhaps 100 or so feet before I had to rest; It was a bit disappointing to me.  However, seeing her roughhousing with her Stepdad, which I realized I could no longer do myself as I had before, brought me joy and happiness to realize she was in a normal family setting; her Mom and she have been going through hard times with a narcissistic and vengeful ex-husband. 

My wife had been concerned that when they arrived they would just take off and do whatever they wanted without planning things with us first.   That did not happen and I made sure that they understood to always ask my wife what she might want to do. I was content to rest at home while the little family went to the beach each day and then took walks. My wife has been setting up, with a couple of real estate friends, their own real estate company so that had taken up a lot of her time; she was content to just go to dinner with my daughter’s family and I was able to go along too.  During one of these times at a restaurant my daughter expressed a lot of anger with her younger sister who had seemingly not expressed an interest in communicating with her older sibling and had expressed some things that were taken as being unfriendly. She also expressed resentment that her younger sister’s husband had not even acknowledged or conversed with her new husband.

Prayer seemed to me the only remedy in this case; misunderstandings in a family when dealt with through anger can destroy the harmony that ought to be present. I had visions of a possible worst case scenario where both families would do their own thing after squabbling and my wife would be very upset.  

We checked into one of two townhouses side-by-side, we with our older daughter’s family arriving a bit earlier taking one of the townhouses and our younger daughter’s family arriving later taking the other.   After a good night’s sleep, to my great happiness, early in the morning both of our young families went together to the local pool and had a good time swimming as my wife and I slept a little longer.   This was Thanksgiving day 2013. Next we all went together to a nearby shopping area to pick up a turkey ordered along with all the usual accoutrements like stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes vegetables, etc. We got a number of other things to supply our needs for the rest of the weekend we had planned.

We all came back to the townhouse, my wife and I were residing in, to prepare the dinner.  After some lunch everyone proceeded to chip in with lots of merriment and friendliness and cooperation.   All enjoyed each other’s company and even the two young husbands actually conversed with each other quite often; Amazing Grace.  There was no anger expressed, no resentment expressed; just good clean fun and good cooperative work to bring about a meal that everyone enjoyed.  The kids had fun playing games (and watching TV).  As usual I was given the job of saying Grace; in doing so I asked for the usual blessing of God on all of us and the food but felt I wanted to thank God for the grace that He had showered upon us to exhibit nothing but His peace working in all of us that day; I felt the tears rushing to my eyes in thanksgiving and could say no more.  We all just said Amen.