Amish environmental stewardship

Amish country …photo by Joe

Coming back from seeing my new grandchild (our first) this week, I traveled through “Amish country” on Rte. 250 in eastern Ohio. What you see here is an “Amish farm truck.” Internal combustion engine vehicles (trucks, tractors, combines…) pollute. The Amish believe in being good environmental stewards of God’s creation. That simple. A word that pretty much sums up the Amish lifestyle, “simple.” We have interwoven some of the ethos of the Amish into our agricultural platform.

Great Depression, Russian Roulette, visual pollution…

Catching up on May and June (cont.)… McGuffey, Ohio, home of the Scioto Marsh, is having their 125 year Anniversary Festival this summer. I wrote a newspaper article on it. During the Depression, families moved from all over Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia… to eke out a living in the onion fields of the marsh. They lived in shacks on the periphery of the marsh and the whole family would pitch in. Life was hard, but folks shared, families were close, and people appreciated what they had. It would be a good lesson for us today. I just read that the average American household, for instance, wastes $1,500 of food each year… I also wrote a story about a local man who restored a ’70s stock car. It’s in beautiful shape, made for a good story… but, frankly, traveling around an oval at speeds over 200 mph is, in a very real sense for these drivers: playing Russian Roulette. What’s more, you have to wonder if God looks at it that way… I also interviewed an art professor from a local college. He teaches a course called “Visual Literacy.” He said most people are remarkably visual, yet they often don’t see. That is, a barrage of pop-culture imagery comes at people constantly through television, social media, and so on. And advertisers, show producers, and such, use subliminal, and not so subliminal, messaging to influence people to keep watching the show, keep buying the stuff, and so on. As there is a lot of noise pollution in society at this point, there is also a lot of “visual pollution.” We would do well to unplug as much as possible… In covering a local village council meeting, the mayor, in the aftermath of a village fireworks display, said the event went off magnificently. One of the councilmembers didn’t agree. She proposed “silent fireworks” next year, “…like they do in a town in California,” she said. No action was taken on this that night, and it would be safe to say that this council woman was in the minority. LOL.

“If found…” and, “no greater love…”

Catching up on May and June (still cont.) I recently stopped in Rawson, Ohio (pop. 564 — although I’m not sure if that includes the cat), where I put up a campaign card in the post office there. I should have written on the card: “Please return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” But anyway… These campaign cards, strategically placed, are our answer to the million dollar campaign advertising of ‘the other guys.’ Call me a: cock-eyed optimist… For a Memorial Day newspaper article, I interviewed a Vietnam Veteran in Bluffton. He was on the front lines, saw a lot of the ravages of war (“…shot off limbs, bullets to the head, shrapnel laced bodies…”), and he was totally mystified when he got back to the States and was treated with a fair amount of disrespect, and even anger by some of the American populace. While the geo-politics around the Vietnam War were, indeed, mixed, these veterans, nonetheless, needed to be treated as heroes, period. “No greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13…

Defund the police? Quilts. Post-pandemic work

Died in the line of duty… photo by Joe

Catching up on May and June (cont.) The Bluffton Police Chief has spent the last year going through the archives looking for names and stories about the officers who have served on the Police Department, dating back to the late 1800s. His belief is that they should, indeed, be honored. And he has set up a rather elaborate historical display in the Department’s lobby. Defund the police? Hardly. We should be paying them more for what they do, in tandem with coming up with other creative community policing strategies. Our position paper on crime includes a number of these strategies, based on extensive cross country research to see what was working… Light one candle and knit one (or a hundred) quilts. I did a story for the local newspaper on First Mennonite Church’s “Quilt Project” here. More than 100 church volunteers combined to make this happen. Some donate money, others cut fabric, others sew. These beautiful quilts are then sent to families in the slums of Calcutta, refugee camps in the Ukraine, and any other outreach destinations America’s Mennonite Central Committee has around the globe… In nearby Ada, Ohio, I interviewed a man who is revamping that village’s tech system. His projection into ‘work in America post pandemic’ is that there will be a significant paradigm shift, with many more people working from home. This, in turn, will free up a significant amount of office space that could, conceivably, be converted into residences. This would spell less urban sprawl. More people living in population centers, so less driving. And on, and on… All common sense.

racing the oval, and housing bubbles

Catching up on May and June… I was the quintessential ‘track parent’ this spring, going to meets all over Northwest Ohio, then, eventually, all the way to Columbus for the State Finals. Our Jonathan made it to State in the open 400-Meter and the 400-Meter-Relay (he ran anchor). And while Jonathan finished 13th in the open-400, his relay team “made it to the podium” in 7th place in the State. It was all pretty exciting for the family, and a tribute to all of Jonathan’s hard work… In May, I interviewed a local man who restored a replica of a Tiny Lund stock car. Lund raced in the 1970s, won the Daytona 500, and eventually died in a fiery crash at the Talladega Speedway in 1975 — leaving a wife and young son behind. Besides the article, I wrote a subsequent column equating high speed auto racing to a form of Russian Roulette. Seems to me it’s a lot more healthy, and life giving, to race around the tracks Jonathan was racing around… In May, I also wrote a column on the current housing bubble. I said it portends that, as just one aspect of this, more and more people in American want to build new homes. I wrote: So then you have urban sprawl eating up more and more of precious farmland. You have more and more trees being cut down in a time when we need as many carbon sinks as possible. You have more and more places that need energy to heat and cool. And none of this, at this point, is, frankly: ‘cool.’ What’s more, it’s antithetical to common sense… For an in-depth look at our stance on the environment, see…

How many were shot?

CNN: At least 233 people were killed and 618 people were injured by gun violence in more than 500 shootings across the county during the 4th of July weekend — a 26% drop since last year’s holiday weekend.

Welcome to the new normal. This is nothing short of some war zone figures! Our stance on gun violence would go a long way in reversing this. As we went a ‘long way’ to find the answers.

ancestory.com before there was a .com

quilt section

I just interviewed a local woman for a newspaper article that focused on her passion for genealogy. In the past 50 years, she’s has put together some 14 rather thick volumes of archival material on both her, and her husband’s, sides of the family. Why? She said there are family members who have been “special” in her life, and she wanted to know more about them. In turn, she surmised people in her family had “special” people as well. So as a gift to them, she set out to discover these peoples’ heritages as well. We would do well as a society to slow a bit and collectively explore our roots and value those “special” people, Our Social Security platform, as just one angle on this, focuses on valuing some of these “special” people in a variety of quite tangible ways. Note: The photo is a section of a quilt that was done by a Methodist Church “Ladies Society,” circa 1941. This woman includes several photos of the quilt in her ancestry material, because several of the names are family members. There are 325 names on the quilt.

not being blown around in the cultural winds…

Brandon Lake concert, Bluffton …photo by Joe

Popular Christian performer Brandon Lake performed on a Sunday night in Bluffton recently. He was up for a Grammy in 2020 and his worship song, “This is a Move,” was the top Gospel praise song of 2019. What was most impressive this night was not only Mr. Lake’s performance, but the amount of young people who were singing along, swaying, reaching their hands to heaven, and praying… Pretty amazing, actually, in a culture that’s trying to pull them farther and farther from God.

‘trade imbalance’ of another sort

I was reading this book tonight, specifically a chapter about international trade imbalances. It notes, on a rudimentary level, that “international transaction” is an exchange of goods and services between countries. These are categorized as: imports and exports. Pretty simple. Now, in recent years, we in America have been concerned about trade imbalances that work to our detriment, financially. Yet something that’s way more (eternally) important, is the nature of these international transactions in the light of the Gospel message. An example: China is currently committing nothing short of genocide with the Uighurs. Killing, torture, forced sterilization, “re-education” brainwashing… Yet we continue to have China as a “Favored Nation” trading partner. This means our international transactions with China, both import and export, are helping keep China buoyant. And by extension, helping keep the glaring human rights abuses going. So, simply put: We are, currently, complicit in genocide. Does anyone in America seriously think because we look the other way and don’t connect the dots on all this, that this ‘spiritual trade imbalance’ is going to be lost on God when we’re standing at Judgement. Hardly. It’s time to look at international trade through a keen social justice lens. And we believe our foreign policy position does just that.

Make Nineveh Great Again?

…photo by Joe

I stumped in front of the Dairy Whip in Columbus Grove, Ohio (pop. 2,071), early Friday evening. A man, apparently on his nightly walk, happened by wearing a “Las Vegas, Nevada” sweatshirt. I gave him a campaign card and said I was running for president in 2024. He looked quizzical. I responded: “It’s never too early.” He then smiled. Note: The following is a recent tourism slogan for Las Vegas: “What happens here — stays here.” You have to believe that was the tourism slogan in Nineveh. What’s even (spiritually) sadder is, all of America, at this point, could be defined by that slogan. God’s message to Nineveh wasn’t: “Make Nineveh Great Again!” God’s message was: “Make Nineveh Holy!” For an “average Jonah’s (me)” take on the Nineveh/America phenomena, see…