Archive for February, 2014

“Get in The Game!”

February 15, 2014


“One thing I can tell you is you got to be free.”

“Come Together” — The Beatles — 1969

How could a full half-century have passed?

CBS-TV spectacularly came through on Sunday, February 9th, with a wonderfully produced commemorative salute to John, George, Ringo and Paul marking fifty years to the very day since”The Beatles” detonated at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York and, with 73 million watching, changed the face of contemporary music forever.

I woke up Monday morning — my head filled with Beatles music — marveling at the passage of time and reflecting upon the curious world where we’ve all wound up, often captive to forces beyond our control rendering us incapable of exerting meaningful influence on what may well matter most.

Income inequality. Afghanistan.The drought. Syria. Immigration reform. Iran. Minimum wage standards. Iraq. Global warming scares. North Korea. Voter supression issues. North Carolina. The list builds on and on in what can easly become an endless assortment of ominously threatening things.

To our rescue comes the often quoted, though all too infrequently practiced “Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) that goes, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Living in a region clearly devoted to the preservation and enhancement of Second Amendment Constitutional rights, might I suggest it’s time to more seriously guard ourselves with a commodity mightier than bullets, more precious than diamonds, more valuable than gold — and freely ours for the taking. It is more critical than ever before that we boldly and with true commitment arm ourselves with knowledge — the ultimate power.

That means tapping as many different media sources as possible, becoming participatory in local political activities of all valid persuasions and consistantly considering the opinion of others with an honestly open mind.

A fine opportunity for meaningful knowledge enhancement comes our way from 7 till 9 PM on Friday, February 28th, at the Oakhurst Community Center as the Oakhurst Democratic Club will present a spirited debate between candidates competing for the office of Madera County District Attorney.

These would be Michael Keitz, David Linn and Miranda Neal.

Mr. Keitz is currently completing his first full term as District Attorney. David Linn, a resident of Oakhurst, has practiced law for the past 37 years and is currently senior partner at the law firm of Linn Law Offices. Ms. Neal, whose new entry in the race was encouraged and welcomed by Mr. Linn, has been a licensed attorney since 1991 and has been in her current position for the past eight years as a Madera County Deputy Counsel.

With litigation against the county, questions of mismanagement and an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by the Madera County Board of Supervisors for release of a county financed report, the Oakhurst Democratic Club is pleased to present Mr. Keitz with an opportunity to address these and other matters, as well as provide Mr. Linn and Ms. Neal with a chance to discuss their own qualifications and perspectives.

This is where you come in. Format rules will be identical to those used in prior debates sponsored by The Oakhurst Democratic Club based on general guidelines from the League of Women Voters.

Accordingly, questions for the debate should be submitted in advance to the Oakhurst Democratic Club in care of

Please do this. Google search “Madera County District Attorney” or candidate names or anything else which might churn up meaningful data and — after reflection — send in just one interesting question. Then join us at the Community Center on the 28th for your response. Word is — get there early! We won’t be taking questions from the audience that night in conformity with establishd protocol, so this is your chance to lock and load beforehand.

You’ll find an opportunity to ask as many questions as you wish the following morning as the Oakhurst Dems hold their monthly meeting on Saturday, March 1st, at Denny’s with Madera County Fifth District Supervisor Tom Wheeler in attendance at featured speaker. Tom, recently elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, will bring folks up to date on various local fronts and offer his own analysis of significant issues of the day.

At the Democratic Club’s April meeting, you’ll have a chance to meet, greet and hear from Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce President Todd Miller, CPA (running for Madera County Auditor/Contoller); Paul Cliby (candidate for Fifth District County Supervisor); Paulina Miranda (competing in the 8th District State Senate race) and Undersheriff Michael Salvador, hoping to replace current Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, who’s retiring from office in January 2015.

The Keitz/Linn/Neal Debate on February 28th and Oakhurst Democratic Club Meetings of March and April (and every month) are open to the public regardless of party affiliation.

Let’s go!

It’s time to come together!

And get in the game!

“Chances with Francis”

February 3, 2014


Phil Everly’s left us at 74.

He got me into trouble at 17.

When I was a young DJ in Syracuse during my senior year at Cathedral Academy, a Catholic school I had faithfully attended from 5th Grade onward, Father Shannon called me into the Principal’s office for committing a sex crime before thousands in public.

The good priest reported he had been listening to my Saturday night radio show over WNDR, Central New York’s most listened-to station, when I played, “Wake Up Little Suzie” by The Everly Brothers — a horror rendering him instantly apoplectic.

It was surely a Mortal Sin to have done so; he droned on, since the song “strongly suggested that a boy and girl were sleeping together without having partaken in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony”, an interpretation that had never remotely dawned on me or any of my classmates, particularly since the song’s lyrics stressed exactly the opposite.

Sierra Star readers may note that my “For Your Consideration” colleague, Alan Cheah, submitted a wonderful column in the January 2nd issue heralding several initial achievements of Pope Francis the First during his first year as Pontiff, even as I also had the pleasure of referencing many promising signs indicating positive reform in the Catholic Church when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was first elected back in March – becoming the first Jesuit Pope in history.

Consider these Papal quotes:

“Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.”

“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?”

“I have met many Marxists who are good people.”

“Those who struggle to find a past that no longer exists – they have a static and inward view of things.”

“No to a financial system, which rules rather than serves. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.”

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those welding economic power.”

And my personal favorite – “I have never been a right-winger.”

To be sure, my own spiritual perspective still remains at sharp variance with certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, finding myself much more aligned with the visionary brilliance of theologian and evolutionary theorist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose “Phenomenon of Man” remains, in my estimation, a philosophical masterpiece.

Father de Chardin was a famous French paleontologist, mystic and — Jesuit.

He found God in all things and believed mankind was inexorably evolving toward a collective sphere of human thought generated by integration and unification which will eventually culminate in what he termed, “The Omega Point” – the most sacred and highest form of consciousness – somewhat similarly referenced in Catholic Theology as “The Mystical Body of Christ.”

It is stunning to reflect upon the awesome realization that our Internet of today, with all those blogs and chats and tweets and deletes, lines up precisely with what de Chardin predicted so many decades ago, however technologically unanticipated.

He was a favorite of Daniel Berrigan, S.J., former Federal fugitive and “Radical Priest” of the ‘60’s – the most demanding teacher I ever had during my four years at Le Moyne College. Father Daniel “Don’t Call Me Danny Boy!” Berrigan gave me the only F minus I ever received at Le Moyne for submitting a three page book report on “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” (1883) by Alfred Edersheim — which I had never read — although I had received an A plus from Father Carmody for the identical book report submitted a year earlier in Theology 101.

So I am becoming ever more enthusiastic about this Jesuit-In-Charge-Of-The Church, although there’s a great distance to go. It makes my heart happy. I find myself quoting our new Pope to conservative friends at every turn, delighted he’s at home in Rome — quite content taking my chances with Francis.