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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Trump Card

Donald Trump Proposes Gigantic Wall to Keep Out the Mennonites

In a recent interview with Fox News, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that the best way to solve America’s problems is to build a giant wall to prevent the flow of Mennonites into the country.
“The Mennonites have got us surrounded,” Trump said to a crowd of supporters. “They’re in Mexico. They’re in Canada. My first priority as your President will be to get a wall built to keep those people out.”
As peace-loving people, Mennonites have not been Trump’s biggest supporters, and pundits have suggested this may be the reason he holds such animosity towards them.
“They’re not like us,” Trump said. “They dress funny. They eat strange food. And worst of all, they’re pacifists. If there’s one thing our country cannot tolerate, it’s people who believe there are other ways of solving our problems than bombing the hell out of people we don’t like.”
When asked about the Mennonites who are already in the country, Trump said they would be, “sent back to Mennovia or wherever they came from.”
Hillary Clinton called Trump’s remarks, “incredibly offensive,” and said she had many Mennonite friends, but when asked she couldn’t name a single one.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Consistency (the absence of contradictions) has been called the hallmark of ethics. Ethics is supposed to provide us with a guide for moral living. To do so it must be rational, and to be rational it must be free of contradictions. If a person said, "Close the door but don't close the door," we would not know what to do; the command is contradictory and thus irrational. In the same way, if our ethical principles and practices are not consistent, it will be difficult to know what we ought to do and how to live.
How do we determine what our moral and ethical standards should be? The only sure guide is the unchanging Word of God. By accepting and following the commandments and principles in the Bible, we have a solid, consistent foundation on which to build our lives. Although the Bible does not speak on every detail we face today, such as computers and Internet, it does contain principles to guide us in the use of these things. "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes" (Psalm 101:3) is a principle that applies to the use of the Internet.
Where are we likely to uncover inconsistency in our lives? First, our moral standards may  contradict each other. We discover these inconsistencies by looking at situations in which our standards would require incompatible behaviors. For example, as a Christian, I believe I should obey the laws of the country in which I live. I also believe that it is wrong to harm innocent people. If the government would draft me to serve in the military, I could either obey the law or avoid harming innocent people, but I could not do both. To be consistent, I must weigh the choices to see which standard is more important and worth retaining. In such cases, the Word of God takes precedence over the laws of man.
A more important kind of inconsistency is that which can emerge when we apply what is known as situational ethics to making decisions. Right and wrong is not determined by the situation but by truth. For example, our church discipline gives us some guidelines for dressing modestly. To follow the guidelines at home but wear a different set of clothes on vacation is inconsistent and shows I don't really believe what I practice at home.
We often use the word "integrity" to refer to people who act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs. Consistency in our lives implies an inner integrity. For example, a desire to be courageous or honest may be contradicted by a desire to avoid the inconvenience or pain that courage or honesty often requires. Inner integrity will choose to accept pain to remain honest. Jesus chose the way of the cross to fulfill His mission on earth.
Consistency is not an end in itself for a person can be sincerely and consistently wrong. Christian ethics requires a consistency between our standards and actions, as well as among our inner desires. Finally, Christian ethics requires that there be consistency between how we treat ourselves and how we treat others.  "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Speed Bump

Leroy has worked at Shank Door for 43 years. He could have retired a couple years ago but kept stretching it out "just a little longer." He had a project he was working on and said when that's done he's going to take some time off this spring to work on cleaning out his garage.
About the time the project was finished, he took time off but not the way he planned. He came home early on April 27 with severe pain that went the whole way down his leg and could hardly walk. He usually drags his feet about going to the doctor but he went the next day without protest. Pain is a great convincer! The doctor sent him for x-rays and gave him referral for physical therapy. The cause of the pain is in his spine which is pinching a nerve. He has been off work since April 27 but unable to do anything. He spent both days and nights on the couch with the heating pad.
After sitting doing nothing for a week, he was getting discouraged. I told him this is neither permanent or terminal but merely a speed bump. Of course, we got all kinds of conflicting advice about what he should do. In the end we decided to follow what the doctor recommended and it seems to have been the right thing.
Over the weekend we finally started seeing some improvement. He is still going for therapy twice a week and is unable to work but he can walk better and further than from the couch to the bathroom. As you can see, he is taking his therapy seriously and working very hard at it. (That white paper lying beside him is his list of prescribed exercises.)
He's on the road to recovery and I'm sure he'll be back to normal in a couple more weeks. Oh the joys of aging!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nicholas Stoltzfus Homestead

For the past fourteen years, early spring has meant sprucing up the Stoltzfus homestead grounds in preparation for the annual benefit auction, which will be held next Saturday, May 7, 2016.
There will be the usual 7 a.m. hearty breakfast, Pennsylvania German traditional singing, a quilt auction, cooking demonstrations and craft tents that bring a slice of Amish cultural and religious life into mainstream America.
But this year is particularly special because it marks the 250th anniversary of the Amish Nicholas Stoltzfus family landing in America in 1766.
Even more significantly, the Stoltzfuses were among the first Amish families in Berks County. They sailed from Cowes, England, in 1766 en route to Pennsylvania, having previously left Rotterdam in the Netherlands. They arrived in Philadelphia two months later and wound up in Leacock, Lancaster County, before moving to Berks in the early 1770s. There were about 70 Amish families in Berks County in the 18th century, and many were in the Irish Creek Valley area.
Over the decades, historians and Amish researches have tracked the ownership and tax records of the Nicholas Stoltzfus homestead, showing the connections between families such as Stoltzfus, Smucker, King, Myer, Martin, and Riegel. Other later owners were also traced with names such as Maderia, Templein, Gass and Gring.
Although Berks County played a pivotal part in early Amish settlement, most of them left the county by the 19th century for fertile agricultural lands in Lancaster and York counties and beyond. There were probably several reasons for Amish migration, including Indian attacks along Berks County's northern tier; the Revolutionary War and how it impacted nonresistant denominations; local taxes sometimes deemed unfair; and the natural inclination of a people to settle among like-minded souls in other areas.
Whatever the case, more Amish have moved back into Berks County in recent years, especially in the western part of the county in the Bethel area, while they have also made a firm commitment to preserve their heritage in Wyomissing.
So far, the Stotltzfus rehabilitation project since it's inception has received $200,000 in donations and a roughly equivalent amount in in-kind contributions and volunteer work. About $40,000 more is needed to complete the barn and create an apartment for a tenant for maintenance and monitoring of the facility.
(Excerpts from an article published in the Reading Eagle, April 30, 2016)