Quick Thought On the Universe by James Stuckey

I’ve been watching Morgan Freeman talking about the Universe.  As you know, we all learned in grammar school that nothing is larger than the Universe.  It contains all of the galaxies, which in turn contain solar systems, which in turn contains planets, etc.  Big bang theorists believe that the Universe is expanding constantly.  They refer to it as “Inflation”.  But, if the universe is the largest of all things, what is it expanding into?  If it expands into nothing, than nothing must have some property that permits the expansion.  Therefore, nothing is something, not nothing. Now some theorists believe there my be multi-verses, which expand and contract on themselves.  But, doesn’t that assume that what we thought of as the all encompassing universe is just another cog in the ever expanding nature of all things?  To me the answer is simple – God.  Its always fascinating and wise to try to better understand God.

© James Stuckey

Sunday News Shows and Newspaper Editorials – James Stuckey

It’s amazing that all the news programs and newspaper editorials continue to rant about the government shutdown, who won, who lost, and how the politicians in Washington will maneuver over the next 90 days. Who cares!?!? I for one care about cutting the budget, cutting the debt, insuring that people who genuinely need services receive them, and learning about what Obamacare really means. I don’t care about how columnists and talking heads spin these things, nor how politicians gloat or try to backtrack on their positions.

I find it sad that people are making a distinction between the “people” and the “government”. When did the government become a force separate from he people?

Copyright, James Stuckey

The Deal – thoughts by James Stuckey

Well, Congress reached a deal, and Professor Obama and Reed the Prizefighter are gloating. They should.  The middle of the road Republicans once again caved, cowered, and went home with there tails between their legs.  I am one of the 60% who believe that every member of Congress, including my own, should be voted out of office.  We need to get rid of the Republican and Democratic labels, and start seeing representatives as liberals and conservatives.

Only politicians can believe that pushing off a decision they haven’t been able to make for close to two years is a victory.  Businessmen and women know how to negotiate issues at different times, but rarely do they let a deal die from inertia.  We need term limits.  I, James Stuckey, believe we need to set a goal of cutting the size of the Federal workforce 5% by 2016, the Federal budget by 3% (not the increases in the budget, but the budget itself), and we need to have an IQ job requirement for all elected officials and government workers.  I wouldn’t go to a doctor who became paralyzed when he or she was in the middle of surgery, or who couldn’t order medical supplies because of disagreements with other doctors in his/her group.  Why should I have a member of Congress who can’t decide the tough issues.

Candidly, I would rather that Congress didn’t kick the can down the road and passed a budget I hated.  At least I would know where they stand and would give them marks for courage.

I am retired, and if I meet my projected life expectancy, have about 15 more years to go. But boy, do I feel for all of you young idealistic liberals who voted these nuts into office. One day, you’re going to wake up and not know what hit you.

© October 13, 2013 James Stuckey

 

Attacks on Christian Churches

It is deeply troublesome to me that a pattern of attacks on Christian Churches has developed in predominantly Middle Eastern and African nations by radical Islamists.  The most recent occurred in Pakistan this weekend.  While the story received front page play in the New York Times and other news outlets, there has barely been a word uttered by Professor Obama, Congressional leaders, or the United Nations.  Why is it that attacks on Christians are reported on, but not repudiated?  No person in any country should be attacked or discriminated against because of his or her religious belief.  While I joyously acknowledge that I am a Catholic, and believe that it is the one true faith, I completely respect other’s right to believe as they choose, or not to believe.  And while I am always happy to tell people why I believe my faith is the one true faith, and why I believe in Jesus Christ, I also recognize that an individual’s belief is between that person and God.

When Christ walked the earth, he did not force people to believe in him through violence. He repudiated aggression.  He led people to believe, to be humble, and to love others as they love God and themselves.  If Christ, as God, did not force people to believe, I certainly don’t think I can.  Similarly, I do not think radical Islamists can force other’s to believe by acts of violence, death, and/or destroying holy places of worship.  I truly believe that there needs to be a movement by all faiths to protect all faiths.  Time has shown that violence only deepens one’s conviction.  While we have a separation of Church and State in this country, this should not stop our political leaders from speaking out against atrocities.

© September 22, 2013 James Stuckey

What is Your Gift?

Like most people I have wondered not just how life began, but why it began.  There currently are, and have been, billions of people on this planet.  Do they all have a purpose? Do they all question why they exist?  Does a person who lives in poverty and enslavement under a brutal dictator question his or her purpose.  Do doctors and scientists who are probing new boundaries still contemplate the mystery of it all?

Smoky-Water © 2013 James Stuckey

Smoky-Water
© 2013 James Stuckey

From a young age, I have always believed in the Christian faith and have never doubted my belief in Jesus Christ.  As a practicing Catholic, I still do not.  But merely believing doesn’t mean understanding what you’re to do with that faith as a believer.  This mystery is what caused me to study psychology both as an undergrad and graduate student.  It’s what motivated me do complete a second Masters Degree, twenty-five years after my first, in Sacred Scripture.  It’s was caused me to go on a self imposed retreat in at the Pecos Monastery in New Mexico after my father died.  It’s what inspires me even today to read great thinkers from Aristotle to St. John of the Cross.

I recently had dinner with an incredibly nice man in his forties who is undergoing radiation treatment after having his cancerous prostate removed.  I was in awe of his attitude and courage.  It was a wonderful and fun dinner, and I hope to have many more with him.  He is a true inspiration.  After dinner, I began to think once again about what the purpose of it all is, and how I fit into the “grand scheme.”  I had forgotten how this question nagged at me after my third and forth heart procedures.

Rainbow © 2013 James Stuckey

Rainbow
© 2013 James Stuckey

I knew my father’s side had terrible genes.  I had lost uncles and cousins in their forties and fifties to coronary artery disease.  It didn’t surprise me, therefore, that I had to have four stents implanted in all three of my major arteries when I was 54.  My family was understandably worried, but I was calm.  I made jokes in the pre-op and recovery rooms to try to put them at ease.  Somehow I was certain that all would be ok.  I believed that if the surgery failed, I would move on to a greater place and be with God. And if I was wrong, and there was no God, I wouldn’t know.  Three years later, when I had my third and fourth procedures I felt the same way; but, after my recovery, as I started to settle into a more permanent retirement, I began to wonder if I was still in a position to contribute?  Could I make a difference? Did I have a gift?  How could I determine what it was and would I be able to share it?  Throughout my business career, I was blessed to be in a position to help create jobs, redevelop inner cities, and to teach others how to rebuild after catastrophes.  What now?

I write this, because I really don’t know the answer.  Like so many of my friends and family members I continue the search –  which perhaps is the answer.  I love reading 1 Corinthians 12-14, which discusses the gifts of the Spirit (see below), and makes it clear that whatever our particular gift is contributes to the whole.  Paul, a brilliant disciple who wrote this letter to the Corinthians within a mere twenty-five years after Christ’s death and resurrection, beautifully articulates the many gifts of the Spirit.  I can’t possibly say this better than him, so I have posted below excerpts from these chapters, which I urge you to read slowly and contemplatively.

1 Corinthians, Chapters 12-14 (from the New Jerusalem Bible, emphases added):

Chapter 12 . . . .” 4 There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit;

5 there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord.

6 There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all.

7 The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good.

8 To one is given from the Spirit the gift of utterance expressing wisdom; to another the gift of utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit;

9 to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit;

10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the gift of different tongues and to another, the interpretation of tongues.

11 But at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual. . . . 30 Do all have the gifts of healing? Do all of them speak in tongues and all interpret them?

31 Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all. . . .  (Chapter 13) . . . .1 Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a

cymbal clashing.

 2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.

3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,

5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.

6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.

7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.

8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.

9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;

10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.

11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.

12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.

13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love . . . . (Chapter 14) . . . . 1 Make love your aim; but be eager, too, for spiritual gifts, and especially for prophesying. . . . ”

© August 27, 2013  James Stuckey

Why Do We Need A Full Time New York City Council?

I recently read that a number of New York City Council Members are seeking to pass local legislation that would add 10₵ for every plastic and/or paper bag one uses to take things home from supermarkets.  Brad Landers, whose life experience before becoming a Councilman consisted of teaching urban studies, was leading the charge.  I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly dumb this idea is; it’s clearly the product of too many elected officials with too much time on their hands. They believe this will help clean up the environment, but it’s really just a hidden tax like all those surcharges on your telephone, cable and wireless bills.  Now I ask you, how many people go to the supermarket, load up their carts with perishable and non-perishable items, and then carry them home by hand? Very few.  Just think, six cans of soda – one bag; a few rolls of toilette paper – one bag. Twenty bags, four additional dollars.  Are they nuts?

This got me thinking about why New York City needs a full time City Council.  There are 51 Council Members and 35  Council Committees.  They spend over $600 million a year on discretionary and “member items”.  This doesn’t include their salaries and benefits, or those of their staffs.  However, what’s worse are the dumb laws they pass.  Think about this. There are full time legislatures on the federal, state and city level, and they all pass laws all the time.  Some laws are clearly necessary, like making murder a crime. I think that one has been passed already.  How many laws do we need?  Doesn’t every law essentially state that you “can’t” do something.  And, doesn’t every law result in volumes of implementing rules and regulations?  Do we really need three full time Legislatures thinking all the time about new things that we can’t do?  How many things can we possibly not do? And who creates all of these new laws?  Why lawyers, of course.  And who is exempt from most of these laws?  Usually, the legislators who passed them.  Doesn’t it make you feel good that while UPS is taking 17,000 of their workers’ spouses off their health insurance plans because of Obamacare, Congress has voted to exempt itself from the new healthcare mandates?  Why?  Because they can.

So why do we need a full time City Council?  Why can’t there be a part time Council?  Why can’t they meet three months a year, and have a process that that would allow them to be called into session for emergencies?  Given that New York has a Comptroller, the courts and other oversight bodies, they certainly don’t add much in this area.  Let’s be candid, most Council Members don’t understand the majority of things they preside over.  The vast majority are political hacks that never had to make a real living.  They feed off the public trough, and then disperse $600 + million in discretionary funds back to their district favorites.  So why can’t they do that part time?  New York, like most cities in the United States, needs to make some tough decisions going forward.  Cutting spending, overhead, and unnecessary laws, rules and regulations are essential to the city’s long term health and survival.  This can’t possibly be accomplished with crony Council Members who fill up their days thinking up silly laws to help them “look good” to a select handful of “constituents.”