Pope Francis’s Vatican; Joe’s White House

The big news this week is that Pope Francis went the the Greek island of Lesbos and took back three refugee families who will now be: “…guests of the Vatican.”  Good idea.  Our administration would open the White House for the same, and similar, things — as we have opened our home over the years.  We have had what the Catholic Worker Movement refers to as a “Christ Room” in our places where we have, periodically, taken in homeless people.  There is little reason many of us in America couldn’t be more generous with our space.  Note:  Another option is to house-share with friends, or neighbors… And take the savings to fund more, say, Habitat for Humanity home builds around the world.

crisis pregnancy, adoption, Tanzania…

I recently interviewed a couple in Lima, Ohio, who adopted two babies from mothers who were in crisis pregnancy.  The couple are Christians.  The wife said: “God adopts us into His family,” so it only stands to reason we should do the same for others.  Good point.  Our Life Issues position paper is heavy with helping people in “crisis pregnancy,” while also working exhaustively to change some of the systemic causes (poverty, dysfunctional families…) that leads to abortion.  And not just in this country, either.  Note:  This wife’s parents were missionaries in Tanzania for 12 years.  And she saw, firsthand, the “heart-wrenching poverty” and desperation of parents just trying to keep their children fed in a country where people work extremely hard all day for a meager $1 to $2.  Our foreign policy stance spins around getting a lot more help to countries like this.

missionaries to Japan; Sister Cities, Globalization, at it’s finest

I interviewed Carl Liechty for one of my wife’s magazines today.  Carl and his family were Mennonite missionaries in Japan for an extended period.  Carl taught in several universities there and the family had a “house church” where they taught people about Jesus.  Carl said another way the Japanese were learning about Christ was through all the Christian run schools and hospitals in the land.  Carl added that, although the majority religion was Buddhism, the Japanese had a quite favorable view of Christianity because of the active benevolence inherit to these Christian institutions.  (“Preach the gospel, and only if necessary: use words.” –St. Francis)  Carl, 77, said he and his wife might soon be traveling to Japan again as interpreters for a Lima, Ohio / Harimo Cho, Japan, “Sister City” excursion.  Note:  Our administration would try to inspire way more Sister City projects between American towns and towns in the world at large.  Projects replete with cultural exchanges, monetary aid to less advantaged towns, regular excursions back and forth…  Globalization, at it’s finest.  For more on our foreign policy position, see…

adoption and “pro-people”

Being in close proximity to Bluffton University, I’ve been exposed to a lot of student and professor research over the years — some of which has been woven into our positions.  At a recent BU Student Research Fair, I talked with a woman who had done a display on Multi-Cultural Adoption.  She noted that multi-cultural adoption still comes up against a good deal of “social stigma” at times in this country.  She said social workers advise parents of multi-cultural families to work on making their children feel as secure as possible with their cultural identities, explain about the dimensions of racism to the child, and be open to allowing the child to ask questions and process their feelings around issues related to their identities and problems they may be experiencing with, say, peer prejudices, and such.  Note:  Our education position paper proposes that multi-cultural classes be taught much earlier in the education process (significant multi-cultural classes are currently primarily taught at a collegiate level).  We think introducing this much earlier makes sense, common sense, given how diverse America’s population is and how this would help promote so much more understanding and camaraderie. Note 2:  At the same Research Fair, I interviewed a woman who did a display on abortion.  She is an advocate for much more adoption in regard to crisis pregnancy, as she is an advocate for a stepped up approach in regard to changing the societal factors (poverty, broken homes, abuse…) that sometimes leads to abortion.  To be pro-life, she said, one must be: “pro-people” in general.  Our administration would agree.

foreign aid… of a much more prolific kind

The last couple days, I’ve been reading an extremely in-depth piece in the Atlantic about President Obama’s foreign policy.  The policy comes across as being tremendously sophisticated and just as nuanced.  At one point, Obama is quoted as saying:  “I also believe that the world is a tough, complicated, messy, mean place, and full of hardship and tragedy.”  That’s, I believe, a quite valid assessment.  Obama’s actions, on the international stage, have often been a combination of protecting American interests, while also weaving in a modicum of humanitarian aid — just because, simply, the latter is: the right thing to do.  Where our administration would be different, is that we would lead with a whole lot of humanitarian aid — which I believe would be in our best interest, spiritually.  There are currently about 24,000 people starving to death worldwide every day; over 1 billion people have no access to clean drinking water; over 1 billion people are living in deplorable slum conditions; one child dies of malaria every 30 seconds in Africa…  The world stands on the brink of catastrophic climate change; the seas are becoming dangerously depleted and polluted… Our foreign policy would significantly spin around each of these issues.  Simply because the gospel message demands nothing less of us.  For more on my foreign policy, see…

I stumped in downtown Arlington, Ohio (pop. 1,455), today.  While passing out campaign cards, I ended up in a conversation with a local, retired teacher.  He said he was particularly flummoxed by Federal Education Department standards as they relate to, say, the standardized tests tied to initiatives like No Child Left Behind, Common Core…  But even more than this, he said there was a lot of extraneous learning.  He said, for instance, studies show that what’s learned in Algebra is hardly, if ever, used on the job later.  “Yet we keep teaching it,” he said in an exasperated tone.  Good point.  It’s actually my contention that a significant portion of what is being taught these days, across the (subject) board, is extraneous.   On the far end of this continuum are four year college degrees — the current American “gold standard” — that are chock full of courses that are exceedingly extraneous.  For instance, Business majors fulfilling “elective requirements” with such courses as: Intramural Recreation Methodology.  I mean, c’mon!  So these students are spending tens of thousands of bucks on, say, 40 to 60 hours of electives that aren’t directly applicable to their major.  Meanwhile in the Third World, many youth can’t even afford the basics in high school education.  And the money we’re wasting here, could go such a long way in helping them.  Note:  For more on our position on education, see…

local campaigning, NFL footballs, Bulldogs… Main Street

While other presidential candidates are jetting from state to state across the country for rallies, media spots, and such; I’ve zeroed in on Northwest, Ohio, where I’m driving my work van around about a 75-mile radius to campaign at nights and on the weekends.  (And we’re asking our supporters to do the same in their locales.)  I’ve been meeting with people on the streets of such towns as Ada (where they make the NFL footballs), Coldwater (where there’s this great “Grill on Main” restaurant), Columbus Grove (home of the Bulldogs), Beaverdam (where, well, there’s got to be something), Gomer (where everyone says: “shazzaam” — my spell check is telling me that’s not a word), Crestview, Ottoville, Jenera…  When I’m not passing out campaign cards, I’ve been posting them, and flyers, on store, post office, town square… bulletin boards.  My answer to the SuperPAC million dollar TV advertising, and so on.  Call it a hunch.  Note:  And unlike the “other guys,” this last weekend I actually had to stay home at our house on Main St., literally, (How’s that for populist?) because my wife wanted me to get the garden ready out back for planting.  Well, when you’re an “average Joe” candidate…  Note:  For more about the ‘almost First Family’s’ life on Main Street, see…

…creating chemical cocktails

Met recently with Dan Kremer in Yorkshire, Ohio.  He is an organic farmer who is an absolute evangelist for Catholic Rural Life Association teaching.  He grows organically because he believes the artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers are bad for the environment and bad for peoples’ health.  (On an earlier stop at Oberlin College, we met with David Orr who is an author and the director of the college’s Environmental Science Department.  He believes the ingestion of the toxic farm chemicals are creating “chemical cocktails” in our systems that are exploding into things like cancer.  Note: One in three Americans now get cancer in a lifetime!)  Our administration, in concert with the EPA, would work to get many of these artificial farm chemicals banned.  I once told the Bellefontaine Examinar in Ohio that this could actually be construed as a lethal form of “chemical warfare.”  Incidentally, Bellefountaine is in the heart of rural America.  That’s right, I’m willing to take tough stands in tough places.  For more on our agricultural stance, see…

“…how thirsty they were.”

A few weeks ago, I was campaigning in St. Mary’s, Ohio.  During lunch, I read a front page story in the Dayton Daily News about a local scientist who had invented a patch to monitor an athlete’s fluid levels at any given moment (depending on the degree of perspiration, amount of exertion, et. Al.).  Not more than 10 minutes after I read the article, I met –wouldn’t you know — a retired high school science teacher who was also a former head football coach at St. Mary’s High School.  When I mentioned the article, he smiled and said his players could actually tell their fluid levels based on “…how thirsty they were.  And even then,” he continued to smile, “that didn’t mean they’d get the water right away.”  After the conversation, I couldn’t help but think:  How ludicrous!  Here we are spending all kinds of money, and using all kinds of scientific smarts, on athlete hydration research — while billions of people in the Third World don’t have access to clean drinking water, period.  But that’s how unbelievably spoiled and self-centered we’ve become in this country.  What an absolute tragedy.  Note:  Prior to campaigning in St. Mary’s, I’d stopped in Wapakoneta, Ohio — hometown of astronaut Neil (“When giant step for mankind…”) Armstrong.  Here’s another phenomenally tragic case.  That is, we’re spending billions of dollars to go to the moon, to Mars… where there is no water to speak of, no oxygen, no gravity, no food…  Common sense says:  Wouldn’t that, oh, be a hint God didn’t want us in those places?  And wouldn’t the money be better spent getting, again, cleaning drinking water, food, adequate shelter, and so on to the billions of people in desperate straits on this planet?

autism, pastorate, wind, adoption, outreach…

In the last couple months, I’ve written a number of stories for my wife’s magazines.  Just a few of them include:  I did a story about a youth who has autism and uses art therapy, in a pretty phenomenal way, in order to help express himself and communicate with others.  I also did a story on a local man who gave up pursuing a professional baseball career because he said he felt God calling him to be a pastor.  The title:  Batter Up! …for God.  For a “green living” section, I did an article on a new “Wind Campus” going up in Findlay, Ohio.  It highlighted a new industrial park that is going in, with each business being tied electrically to wind turbines.  In addition, I did a quite poignant story about a local couple who adopted the baby of a teenage girl who was in “crisis pregnancy.”  I also did a story on Rally Point, which is a Youth For Christ outreach program to kids living in quite a rough, hardscrabble area of Lima, Ohio.  Note:  Each of these stories express some of the ethos, to one degree or another, of our campaign.  And the overarching essence is that it is, for the most part, about local people rolling up their sleeves to make a difference locally.