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15 posts from April 2008

Just before church: Reading story about New York Times reporter arrested for "committing journalsim"

As I wait to take a shower before going to church, I just read a riveting story by New York Times Barry Bearak about how he was arrested and jailed in Zimbabwe for "committing journalism." 

He took great risks to report what was happening in a country that's struggling for its existence. I wonder how many reporters in this country could be charged with "committing journalism."  Do they use the same tenacity and dedication that Bearak had to get the facts about local and state government?   

I often feel that we as a culture don't appreciate the historical importance that the media plays in keeping our government accountable and honest. 

Please note:
  Registration might be required to access the story.   

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In Michigan, is it time to start a draft committee to get Ford CEO Alan Mullaly to run for governor?

An automotive resurrection is happening in Michigan and to Ford Motor Company and its success can be pegged to new CEO Alan R. Mulally.  Today's news in the Detroit Free Press of Ford's $100 million profit in Dearborn brings a little economic sunshine to a state that hasn't seen much lately.

Just perhaps the automobile industry can dig itself out of the hole that it has put itself into.  Look at Ford.  It's making cars like the Ford Focus, vehicles that real people want to actually buy.  It's price for a new vehicle is almost affordable and it gets great mileage during a time when gas prices are skyrocketing.

What could this mean for the state of Michigan?

We finally have a leader in the state who knows how to lead and he has a track record to show he knows what he's talking about. 

Our state is dying on the vine because we lack leadership that we can circle around and follow.  Alan Mulally identified the problems at Ford, devised a consensual plan and made Ford into one big team.  Costs had to be cut.  He identified where that needed to happen and did it.  He has been very transparent which has made him more believable.

He didn't have to deal with elected politicians or political parties.  But, he had to deal with the UAW.  Which group would be harder?

The state of Michigan needs somebody with his qualities.

Is it time to pass the word to others and let Mulally know that our state needs somebody like him to pull us out of the morass we are in?

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How do I know if I'm a confessional Lutheran?

I'm confused about the current civil war that seems to be going on in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

There seems to be different classes or level of believers in the church body that I was born into more than 61 years ago.  There's the conservatives, there are the real conservatives and then there are the confessional Lutherans.

I'm not sure what group I fall into.  If I fall into the wrong group does that mean that I'm not going to heaven? 

I was baptized as an infant back in 1946.  If you're Lutheran, that's good, right?  Then I went to a Lutheran grade school for eight years and was confirmed when I was in eighth grade.  That's when I went before the membership at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bay City, MI and publicly-stated what I believed, particularly the content of the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.  What else is there?

I believe that I'd be eternal toast without Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross.  I believe in the Holy Bible, front to back.

But, there appears to be a group in my church body who feel that's not enough.  To get the okay from God, you now apparently need to subscribe to and understand every word in the Book of Concord.  You have to subscribe to a particular format for a worship service.  The music has to be a certain way.  Do all that then you are a confessional Lutheran.  Don't worship with non-Lutheran Christians.  Don't go to Promise Keepers.  Don't read Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life.  If you do, you might be called a heretic. The list goes on and on.

Check out some resources on the web and in the blogosphere:

This fight which has been going on for decades has really distracted from the meaning of the Gospel, I feel.  The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod continues to marginalize itself in terms of societal influence.

They fight like a bunch of politicians who hate each other, distrust each other, but put on a smiley face when confronted in a more formal setting.

I'm tired of it.

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Mid-Michigan gas price report: $3.69 per gallon at southwest Lansing Shell station

It was hard to not notice the price sign at the Shell station on the northwest corner of Waverly and Old Lansing Roads on the southwest side of Lansing.  It read $3.69.9 per gallon.

At the restaurant where I had breakfast with three other guys, conversations included talk of the higher prices.  There were few SUVs and big pick-up trucks in the parking lot of our breakfast place.

While eating breakfast, we read Psalm 82 and talked about how it was relevant to our everyday lives.  It was a reminder that God will hold leaders accountable for what they do.  So if oil company leaders and politicians are boofing us on oil prices, they will be asked about it when they see God eyeball-to-eyeball.

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Do you agree with "Ernie the Attorney" that presidential campaign is eyewash?

I think more and more people are getting turned off by everything about the presidential campaign on  both the Democratic and Republican sides. Look for any depth about a candidates character, positions or abilities and your neurons start to hurt.

"Ernie the Attorney" on his blog sums up the feelings of a lot of people who has stopped caring about the presidential campaign.

It would be fun to get involved in a campaign for somebody you really believe in.  But the current effort seems to be nothing more than a sideshow with very little substance. 

Sure the candidates are culpable in the way this is being run.  But, the news media deserves some credit or blame. Anybody feel burned out on presidential election politics?    

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How can states move away from using plastic grocery bags?

How many plastic grocery bags do you have in your house?

Here in Michigan we shop at Meijers at least once a week where we add at least 8-10 new plastic bags every week.  In our basement, we probably have 500 of the hard to get rid of bags stuffed in a big trash bag.

Governing magazine, in its blog,  writes about the dilemma in using the bags and about the effort to get consumers to go reusable.

Is this something that state legislatures should mandate?  How badly are  we hurting the environment by allowing their use?

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What if the Apostle Paul had the social web and all the web 2.0 tools for his Mars Hill sermon?

What comes to mind when you hear the word lectionary?

For most of my life, I've seen it as something that pastors use to plan their Sunday worship services.  In my faith tradition, each worship service has a series of Bible reading, one each for the Old Testament, one for an Epistle and for the Gospel. 

After I reached substantial adulthood, I learned that these readings came from an ancient list and that each one was designated for a certain Sunday.  Even though I've attended church all my life nobody ever explained its purpose and its usefulness.

That brings me to today and a before work Bible study I attend in downtown Lansing with a couple of pastors and a group of laypeople.  We review the readings for the upcoming Sunday.  Sometimes our discussion has made its way to a Sunday sermon and sometimes it has just been good, thought-provoking discussion.

Today, we never made it beyond the first reading from Acts 17:22-31 which is the Apostle Paul's Mars Hill discourse.  People living back then faced a choice of gods.  Paul was saying be sure you make the right choice.  He then explains.

What if he had web 2.0 back then?  His words had and have power, both back then and now. What if one of Paul's people had a Flip video camera back then and put the Mars Hill discourse on YouTube?  Would he have blogged it?  Would he have gotten comments on his blog post?

I will read Paul's words again.  There's truth there that applied then and now.  We are faced with a whole series of gods.  My god, is three persons in one, God-the father, God-the son and God-the Holy Spirit.

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Increasing my literacy about strokes compliments of Dr. James Dobson

I remember when my mom had her stroke and how her symptoms slipped right by me when I talked long distance to her on the telephone.  Now I'm at the front end of the age where I need to be concerned for myself.

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family had a stroke and in these two segments of his radio program he talks to stroke experts who give the who, what, when, where, how and why and so what of strokes.  They seem to do this in a very understandable way.

I will listen to both episodes again.  I know I need to increase my stroke and heart attack IQ.  Here are the links:

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Michigan moves towards sex education changes

Sex education is in elementary and middle schools in Michigan is likely to come up in the State Legislature in coming weeks.  Michigan Democrats want to make it and contraception more available to younger and younger kids. 

According to a story in the Lansing State Journal, conservative Christians are the only ones who may oppose it.  Story doesn't list bill sponsors.

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Does Michigan forget that it's not recruiting new businesses for Indiana?

Ask your state legislator in Michigan about the state's new business tax (MI Business Tax) and whether it's driving more of our businesses to the state of Indiana.

The Michigan Legislature enacted the new tax to replace its old Single Business Tax last year after a prolonged fight over budget cuts and replacement revenue.

In a story yesterday, the Detroit Free Press said the net effect of this new effort to take tax burden off manufacturers would be to make our low-tax neighbor Indiana more attractive to service oriented businesses.

Here are examples of how some businesses in the state are affected:

  • The Ansara Restaurant Group near Detroit owns 20 Red Robin restaurants in Michigan and it will see a 62 % increase in its state tax payments from $323,875 under the old system to $526,020 under the MBT.

  • A Southfield accountant had paid $1,000 under the old system and under the new will pay $14,000.

  • Michigan's premiere Christmas store, Bronners in Frankenmuth will pay about 500% more under the new MBT.

Are these examples in the Free Press story atypical? 

How are other service businesses affected?

Is the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce losing its bite and influence in the State Legislature?

A late Easter weekend celebration in Indy with the Thorp family and friends

Because of schedules, we celebrated our family "Easter in Indy" a little late this year.  This past weekend super-wife and I drove one state south to our daughter's home where we got caught up with all of our individual life happenings. 

Our son was successful in battling struggling airline schedules to get there and there was Adam, a person of special interest to our daughter.  A few pictures tell the story:

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It's not a good time to be a Realtor in the Metropolitan Detroit area

Check out this story in this morning's Detroit Free Press about how long it takes to sell a house in the metro Detroit area.  And be sure to read the comments.

Put your house on the market around Detroit and expect to wait awhile to sell it.

I wonder what this bad real estate market in that area has done to the ranks of Realtors and real estate salespeople.  Are their ranks getting smaller?

Morning in Indy: Obama disappoints with his crack about small town America

It's early Sunday morning in Indy and I'm reading Obama's comment about how small town America is reacting to changes in the economy and to the reaction to it of our political system.

Quite frankly, I'm disappointed by what he said.  I think the substance of his comments may reveal more about his real attitudes and may show how out-of-touch he is with real America.

Talking about how common, garden variety Americans are reacting to our challenged economy and all the fallout from it, he said:

"It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to their guns or
religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant
sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their
frustrations," Obama said.

As a person who comes from small town America and who is deeply affected by our political climate, I take offense.  Even though, I've historically been a Republican, I wanted to believe that Obama was a leader who could identify with the average person.

Hillary Clinton is right.  His comment is elitist.  It appears to show his apparent lack of regard and lack of understanding of real people who make up the fabric of our society.

I wonder how many voters in my daughter's working class neighborhood on the northside of Indy know how he really feels about them.

Do they really want him to be president when he feels that way?

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Gary Vaynerchuk, the wine guy, reminds us of the importance of saying "thanks" and "telling people you appreciate them"

Just think of how easy it is to practice what Gary Vaynerchuk is talking about in this two-minute video. 

Tell folks thank-you and that you appreciate them.  It's simple and it's meaningful.  Such a simple thing can be a day-changer for so many people.  This is something for everybody, politicians, pastors, business people and neighbors.

My impression is that this guy practices what he preaches.  By-the-way, also check out his video podcasts about wine.