Category Archives: Editorial

The Casey Anthony Jury – What Were They Thinking?

The “not guilty” verdict handed down in the Casey Anthony decision shocked many. It appeared to be an open and shut case. This young woman failed to report her missing child, partied hard during the child’s disappearance, and told repeated lies when questioned about the circumstances leading up to her daughter’s horrific death. What in the world was going on in those juror’s minds?

Some years back, I was selected to be a juror on a child molestation case. It, too, appeared to be open and shut. Without going into specific details, a young boy accused a man, an old family friend, of sexually molesting him over the course of several years. When first approached with these allegations, the friend fled to his native country for a while before returning to the United States. The boy, now a young man, contacted the authorities when he learned of the man’s return to the States. The authorities felt there was enough evidence to arrest the family friend and subsequently bring him to trial.

From the outside looking in, those facts alone seemed to indicate guilt on the man’s part. Why else would he run when approached with the boy’s allegations? The prosecution began strongly with a searing opening statement. While the defense gave off an eccentric air coupled with a condescending tone. The prosecution presented its witnesses, including the plaintiff. The defense presented its witnesses, including the defendant. Both sides cross-examined the witnesses. The closing statements were again more of the same – a strong showing by the prosecution and a strange showing by the defense. We deliberated several hours before returning a not guilty verdict.

What happened? Three things: One, while the young man (who was now living as a transgendered woman) gave a powerful and graphic testimony, the other witnesses for the prosecution were weak to say the least. As horrible as the defense attorney was, he was able to poke holes in their recollections of events. The witnesses for the prosecution even contradicted themselves several times while being questioned by the prosecutor. Two, the defendant gave a valid reason why he retuned to his native country. According to him he didn’t run; the allegations were so ridiculous, he thought the matter was resolved when he denied them and felt free to visit his home country to take care of family business. He had made the same trip several times before, so there was nothing unusual about him leaving. Three, the judge felt her instructions to the jury were so clear that when we asked for clarification, her response was to “follow the instructions you were given.”

Left on our own to decide this man’s fate, we had two questions: do we ruin a person’s life based on gut feelings? Or do we base our decision strictly on the evidence presented during the trial? While we were moved by the accuser’s testimony, there were too many doubts presented not just by the defense, but also by the prosecution. I’m not sure if the prosecutor thought it was such an open and shut case that the corroborating witnesses would not be a major factor but, if she did, she was sadly mistaken. Because of the doubt, we were unable to render a guilty verdict.

After the decision was read, we went back to the jurors’ room, where the defense attorney thanked us and the prosecutor looked at us like we were the dumbest people she had ever seen. Even the judge scolded us, saying she couldn’t believe we didn’t hand down a guilty verdict.

The entire experience left me with such a bitter feeling towards the American judicial system that I rarely follow trials. I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial, except for the news coverage. I don’t know the evidence presented, the instructions handed down to the jury or the strength or weakness of the witnesses. I can tell you, however, that being charged with the responsibility of deciding someone’s fate is not as easy or simple as it appears. It is a decision you, as the juror, also have to live with. You not only have your opinion to consider but also instructions from the judge. I’m sure the jurors in the Anthony trial were faced with these challenges and then some. Although it may not make sense and we may not agree, “not guilty” may have been the only verdict they could give.

George Stephanopoulos vs. Michele Bachmann – The GMA Interview

Still from Good Morning America

At home today convalescing a bad back so I played Eenie Meenie to determine which morning news show I would watch. Good Morning America won. The first interview was conducted by George Stephanopoulos. His subject was Tea Party presidential front-runner Michele Bachmann. First, let me note that I like Stephanopoulos and, to date, dislike the Tea Party. I anticipated watching him throw out the hardball questions and listening to Bachmann’s response. Instead of an insightful interview, I was treated to an American History pop quiz.

Everyone who has graduated elementary school should know John Quincy Adams was not a Founding Father. Unfortunately, Bachmann did not know this when she made a recent comment the Founding Fathers working tirelessly to end slavery and identified J.Q.A. as a Founding Father. Stephanopoulos, citing an article that listed Bachmann as one of the worst offenders when it comes to perpetuating inaccurate comments, asked her if she were willing to admit she made a mistake. Rather than answer the question, Bachmann responded with a prepared speech about how wonderful America is. So, Stephanopoulos asked the question again and Bachmann, again, dodged. At this point, it was obvious this woman was either totally clueless or completely unwilling to accept she was wrong. Either quality should make one question her ability to lead the free world, but I digress. Instead of accepting Bachmann’s reluctance to provide an unscripted response, Stephanopoulos seemed to take pleasure in spotlighting her ignorance. He asked yet again if she really thought Adams was a Founding Father and smirked when she, yet again, provided a ridiculous answer.

Although I am not a Bachmann fan, I was disappointed in Stephanopoulos’ tone. It wasn’t professional and lends credence to the long-held notion that the news media are partisan and elitist. Of course, Bachmann played her part in the exchange. It doesn’t make one weak to admit a mistake. She could have even imported her “I Love America” standby into the admission, something along the lines of, “You know, my love for this country is so strong that I misspoke during the heat of the moment. Of course I know John Quincy Adams was far too young to be a Founding Father. Most Americans understand my intent. I’d much rather focus on my platform.” She only compounded the issue by trying to rationalize her mistake. Not a good look. Certainly didn’t endear her to me.

I, for one, would have appreciated hearing how she plans to get the country back on track instead of being subjected to a verbal sparring match about our country’s history then the somewhat sexist question of if she has prepared her family for the rigors of campaign life. Is Mitt Romney being asked that question? How about Ron Paul? The interview ended with me knowing as much about Michele Bachmann as I did before the interview, which is very little. Then, again, maybe that was the intent.

See the interview here.

Holy or Hypocrite?

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benched of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it ‘a den or robbers.’” Mark 11:15-17

An influential Atlanta-based bishop recently reached an out of court of settlement with young men accusing him of sexual misconduct. Although unconfirmed, sources claim the settlement to be $15 million. A recent tabloid television investigation reported the opulent lifestyles of several of America’s most popular television evangelists. One allegedly has a fleet of airplanes (in the name of the search) housed at his personal airport (not in the church’s name) built near his estate. When approached and asked why he had the airplanes, he huffily told the investigator, “That’s none of your business!” Then, there is the preacher falsely prophesying the end of the world.

No wonder the masses have such a negative view of Christianity. Thankfully we, the church, cannot be dismayed or led astray. We who study know that Jesus warns us against false prophets and religious leaders. He teaches us that anyone who preaches against His instruction should not be trusted. His Word has held true since the time He walked among us. And they hold true forevermore.

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. The wealthy have the same opportunity for salvation as everyone else. Unfortunately, with the wealthy, money and possessions become their gods. As is human nature, the more you have the more you want. There are not many people who would willingly give up their luxurious lifestyles to follow the Lord, illustrated in Matthew 19 when a wealthy young man asked Jesus what good thing he needed to do to get eternal life. When Jesus instructed him to sell his possessions and follow Him, the young man was greatly troubled, prompting this response:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

This passage does not mean everyone should sell his or her possessions. We have responsibilities and families to support. However, we should be willing to give up everything for God. There should be nothing separating us from Him, including money. It is impossible to serve two gods.

While I will never doubt the sincerity of anyone’s love for God, I am disappointed in the reported actions of the aforementioned and countless other preachers, pastors and evangelists. Let’s rededicate ourselves to the teachings of Jesus. Let’s meditate on His Word. Let’s be true Christians and not bow down to worldly gods.

Are We Loving Our Children To Death?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

Our society has come a long way. Technological and social advances have opened remote worlds to the masses and have helped foster understanding and tolerance. It is through the power of these advances that I am able to share this message with you today.

However, as we advance, it seems our willingness to accept has turned us away from common sense. In these “enlightened” times, we have deemed the practices and norms that fostered a generation old-fashioned, cruel and, in some instances, illegal.

There was a time when one could tell a misbehaving child that his parents were going to be informed of his mischief and that child would instantly begin to behave. That was during the time when parents had more control over their children and administered discipline when necessary. No child wanted to be on the receiving end of a spanking. Now, children misbehave in front of their parents with no fear of repercussion. Parents are either too weary from daily stresses, too afraid of the opinions of others or so focused on making their children happy that they are afraid of properly disciplining them.

By discipline, I am not referring to violence. No one – child, woman or man – should have to contend with being beaten. A hand to the bottom is not the same as a fist to the eye. Anger should never be a factor in disciplining a child; love should always be the basis. You don’t love a child by turning a blind eye to his or her antics. You love a child when rules and expectations are set and by making sure he or she understands there are consequences to their actions – both good and bad.

I know this is not a popular sentiment and I certainly don’t mean to offend. However, there is an influx of wayward children who have absolutely no respect or consideration for others. And, if you ever have the opportunity to hold a conversation with them, you will find that these children have no idea that they are disrespectful and inconsiderate. They feel they are normal because everyone they know acts the same way.

We have to start doing better by these kids. It always starts at home. Loving your kids is natural. Raising them is tough. Most parents do the best they can and this is not admonishment to them. It is just a plea to not love them to death.

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

With respect to the Johnny Lee classic (from which the title of this post is culled), life is not easy. For as many people who have contentment, happiness and assurance, there are those who are lonely and have a very real fear of the present and future. There are those who are confused and spin their wheels searching for love, a higher enlightenment or just an escape from their lives. These people are often “ripe for the picking”, their desires for something – anything -better than their present situations cause them to follow and place their trusts in the wrong people and possessions.

People can be fallible. Possessions rust and can be stolen. These are things I’ve learned along the way to becoming middle-aged. Below are three more:

1. Just Because A Person Is Old, Doesn’t Mean He Or She Is Wise. Age has nothing to do with wisdom. There are older people who have experienced much but have learned little. I have an older friend whose conversation is the same as mine. By that, I mean she has the same wants, desires and concerns as me. If one listened to a conversation, one would not be able to determine who was the older, more experienced friend. That doesn’t make her a bad person. However, she may not be the one to turn to for wise counsel.

2. If It Walks Like A Duck…. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have denied a person’s faults because I didn’t want to acknowledge who and what that person really was. I also can’t begin to tell you how many times I have turned a blind eye to a situation because I didn’t want it to be true. In both instances, I was the only one who ended up hurt and disappointed. Note: Denying a fault is not the same as overlooking a fault. When you overlook, you are fully aware of the fault, you choose to not notice. With denying, you refuse its existence. Choosing to overlook is your prerogative; denying means you are lying to yourself. Never, ever lie to yourself.

3. Just Because It Is Said With Authority Doesn’t Make It True. One of the first lessons I was taught during my career in customer service was to never stammer or sound unsure when delivering information to a caller. Why? Because sounding unsure of yourself makes the caller doubt what you are telling them. If you have ever had the experience of speaking with a customer service representative in any capacity, then you’ve probably had the experience of being told something that you later learned wasn’t completely accurate. Customer service representatives don’t set out to deliver incorrect information. It can be challenging working with the public and the sheer volume of calls the average center receives can be daunting. In their efforts to maintain the metrics given to them by management, some representatives may provide an answer that was not fully researched or authorized my management. That doesn’t make it right, but it happens. It also happens in your interaction with others – friends, pastors, etc. Always take the time research for yourself any claim or fact you hear.

If you have made it this far in the post, then you may be wondering the inspiration for this soapbox discourse. If you guessed Harold Camping, you are correct. It now seems that since his May 21, 2011 prediction failed, he is now stating, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the apocalypse will occur October 21, 2011. Most of us have discredited this man’s apocalyptic predictions, but he still has a faithful core of followers. I’m sure that as October 21 approaches, there will be yet another storm of media coverage. While these predictions may have directed more people to reading the Bible, they are also leading those who don’t understand what they are reading to worry unnecessarily. Even worse, these predictions are leading some to mock Christianity. Both can lead to dire consequences.

Don’t be led astray. This includes pastors, friends and other trusted individuals. Stay alert to keep disappointment at bay.

Apocalypse Now?

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:4-8, NIV).

If you are reading this then you already know the world did not come to an end on May 21, 2011. In his zeal for Christ, California preacher Harold Camping, the president of the multi-million dollar non-profit broadcasting network and website Family Radio, slipped into leaning towards his own understanding. This tends to happen to those who amass great fortunes and adulation. No doubt, the praise he receives from his fans and followers moved him to sincerely want to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible outside of Christ’s teachings. In doing so, he and many, many other End of Days prophets have discredited the words of Christ and therefore God: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36, NIV). These words, as in everything Jesus taught, should be engraved in our hearts and believed unconditionally. Also, these words alone should be enough to prevent Christians from taxing their energies on predicting the end of the world and instead push us to dedicating ourselves to the tasks with which we are charged: Spreading the Good News across the world and tending the vineyard, i.e. guiding, teaching and loving believers and non-believers alike in hopes of bringing them closer to God.

For Camping’s followers: While it is good to respect and honor our pastors and preachers, remember we should never follow men, only God. As Jesus instructed the religious leaders, “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12). Don’t let today’s non-event harden your hearts towards Christianity or Christian leadership. Christian leaders hold a great responsibility to accurately and honestly relay the Word, but we, as Christians, also have the responsibility of studying the Word for ourselves. When we do, we are not easily swayed or led astray.

For as much as we should be skeptical of Camping’s Doomsday predictions, the mocking and indifference being shown by the vast majority is troubling. Christ will return and “at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all nations of earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the winds, from one end of heavens to the other….Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come . But do understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:30-31, 42-44, NIV).

While it is of this world to ridicule those who truly believed Camping’s prediction of the End, he and his followers need our compassion and guidance. Discipline, if any, will come from God.

No Release of Bin Laden Death Photos – Good Decision

So, President Obama has decided not to release Osama Bin Laden’s death photos even after there has been a public and media outcry for proof. By all professional accounts, the type of wounds inflicted upon Bin Laden would make viewing his corpse disturbing, to say the least. Most reports advise the photos would be downright gruesome. For that reason, I support the President’s decision.

What public good could come from releasing the photos? This operation was not a Hollywood production. The body is not going to be in the pristine condition we have been conditioned to seeing from the entertainment industry’s depiction of war. The blood in the pictures is real. The trauma to the body is real and far more graphic than any Hollywood make-up artist could imagine. Are these images we want children to see? Even if media and Internet outlets warn of their graphic nature prior to showing, how many kids would turn away or resist the urge to click on the link? How many adults would? After viewing the photos and being left with their lasting images, then what? Would 9/11 never have happened? Will the countless lives lost suddenly be erased? Or, would it simply enflame the already heightened tensions between the United States and al-Qaida? Would it provide more fuel to their dogma, increase enrollment in their training camps, and provide even more inspiration for them to destroy America and everything for which she stands. The purpose of capturing Bin Laden was to make the world a safer place, not more dangerous. I think the images of us celebrating his death in the streets is enough; there is no need to release his death photos.

Conspiracy theorists will continue to doubt the government and the President. They have already proven this by their insistence for the release of the long form of his birth certificate then doubting its authenticity once he relented to their demands. If the Bin Laden photos were released, I’m sure they would then insist they were doctored, pointing to absurd notions like the way the blood pooled on the carpets to bed sheet wrinkles. Note: You do know that there are those who insist 9/11 was a government ruse even though there was live coverage of the event. Guess what, THEY insist the photos of the planes making impact upon the Twin Towers are doctored.

There is no way to please everyone. The President, the Leader of the Free World, has to always consider the better good in his decisions. And this decision not to release Bin Laden’s death photos is good.

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Did you find that slightly annoying? No, not the fact the world’s most wanted, ruthless and maniacal terrorist has met his fate. I’m referring to the reiteration: Osama Bin Laden is dead. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Those watching CNN’s coverage of the President’s statement confirming the death of Public Enemy No. 1 were subjected to correspondent John King’s drone repetition of this breaking news. I understand King’s consistent delivery of this message was actually meant to convey the significance of the event, but I was left with the feeling that the moment was more about King being the “first” to confirm this news and less than the network being the medium providing some measure of closure to the families of the thousands of innocent lives that were lost that fateful day ten years ago.

We should temper our rejoicing of Bin Laden’s fall. His death is not the end to the war on terror. In fact, America is now on heightened alert with the very real possibility of retaliation by al-Qaida. We should commend the brave Navy Seals who risked their lives to bring the world one step closer to peace. In addition, we should commend President Barack Obama for having the foresight and patience to order the U.S strike at the right moment and not just when an opportunity presented itself. The highest praise, however, should go to God for guiding the steps and actions of our special forces and the president.

Proverbs 24:17-18 counsels us, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.” So, let’s use this moment, this emotion-filled historical moment, as a time of reflection and honor to the victims of 9/11 and to the servicemen and servicewomen who have and are risking their lives for the betterment of our country and our world.

What’s So Bad About Obama ? – Revisited

I posted this op-ed piece about President Barack Hussein Obama several months ago. In it, I lamented over the utter lack of respect that is shown this man, the elected President of the United States. From calling him a liar during the State of Union Address to planting seeds of distrust about him and his platform, I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

But it has.

It is beyond disturbing, in fact it is downright pathetic, that so many people who tout themselves as intelligent refuse to believe the president is a natural-born citizen. Let’s have a common sense check: Do you really think ANYONE could hold the highest office in the land without having EXTENSIVE background checks, not just by the government but by news agencies and also the opposing camp? If they were unable to disprove his citizenship, why is this still an ongoing issue?

For those easily influenced by money and power, the words of Donald Trump have weight. Always remember, a man’s actions show his intentions more than his words ever could. Of all the hurdles facing Americans right now – joblessness, the economy, healthcare, education – the issue most important to him was stirring the pot of ignorance surrounding President Obama’s birthright when it had long ago been settled. This is a clear indication to me that a Trump presidency would be more of a 4 -8 year PR stunt then 4 – 8 years of being led by a man who truly cares for the welfare of America and all Americans.

In listening to satellite radio yesterday, many young listeners called in saying it was about time the president provided his birth certificate because, in their words,” you have to to show a birth certificate to even work at McDonald’s!” Now, I have never worked in the fast food industry, but I have worked for major global financial corporations. I have had to provide my social security card. I have had to provide my driver’s license. I even have had to provide a copy of my college degree. But I have NEVER had to provide my birth certificate for any position. I’m not doubting there are positions that require this documentation, but I do think they are far less commonplace than those callers would like to believe.

America, wake up. You can dislike the president for his platform. You can dislike him for his delivery. You can even dislike him for his race. That’s your prerogative and your privilege as an American. Just don’t be proud of being ignorant of cold, hard facts. If you feel the president has an “agenda”, then also know those who oppose him have agendas as well. And if their agendas seem to be solely focused on discrediting the president, question the motive instead of blindly following. Do some research of your own and stop relying on the constant stream of inaccuracies and innuendo being poured on the American public.

God, I pray, please bless America.

39, Single and Childless – Whoa!

Today is my birthday. Since I have never been ashamed or embarrassed about my age, I say with pride that I am 39 years old. My weight, well, I’ll keep that to myself, but I will admit that while I am not overweight, I am noticing some softening around the midsection. I guess that comes with middle age. Nothing sit-ups and crunches won’t cure.

A few days ago, I was introduced to someone who wanted to know little more about me. So, I revealed my background and my age to which I received the question, “Are you married?” The answer is no. That response was immediately followed with, “Do you have any children?” The answer, again, is no. I braced myself and sure enough it happened.

The Pause.

I first noticed The Pause around my 35th birthday when I was still unmarried and childless. I was taken aback at first, not just by The Pause but also by The Look; that mixture of sympathy and pity sprinkled with the relief of, “At least that’s not me!” I received so many Pauses and Looks that I began to view myself differently. Up until that point, I had considered my happy and content, but maybe I was just fooling myself. As each subsequent birthday approached and I was still without a ring or a baby, The Pauses and Looks had me thinking there might be something really wrong with me. I became acutely aware that peer pressure doesn’t end in high school. To clarify things, I will answer questions I have actually been asked and you may be wondering yourself:

1. Yes, I like men.
2. Yes, I like children.
3. Yes, I am open to marriage and children.
4. No, I am not a lesbian.
5. No, I don’t have any physical or mental handicaps.
6. No, I don’t think I’m being selfish.

To be fair, I doubt if the person delivering The Pause or worse, the Pause/Look mix, is even aware of his or her actions. I certainly don’t think it is meant to hurt or cast doubt. I believe it is an instinctual thing. Aren’t we, as women, supposed to get married and help populate the earth? Isn’t there this strong biological clock whose incessant ticking propels us to carry out this duty? I never imagined I would be my age and not married with at least one child. While my marital status is not something I planned, it’s also not something that keeps me awake at night wrought with guilt and worry. I have a good life and I am happy. If tomorrow I met The One and this time next year gave birth to healthy baby, I would feel immensely blessed. Just as I feel immensely blessed today.

So, instead of spending the day bemoaning the fact that I am not living up to society’s expectations, I plan to kick back with family and friends and celebrate the gift of life and all the blessings the Lord has given me. Being single and childless does not equate to lonely and without purpose. I am happy for today and excited for tomorrow, even if some still want to view me as a pitiable spinster.