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Archive for February, 2011

You’ve probably seen the recent TV commercial for Travelers’ Insurance that features a dog searching for the best way to protect his most prized possession – a large steak bone.

(Watch video here.)

The dog first puts it in a laundry basket and then stares at it – like he’s thinking: “ too risky.” He then puts it under the living room rug which creates a large bulge – way too obvious. So he digs a hole in the backyard and buries it. He spends the night looking out the window at the little mound of dirt which is all that stands between his precious bone and a thief. So he hops on a bus, bone in his mouth, goes to the bank and places it in a safety deposit box. But then he tosses and turns all night in his doggie bed – a little thought bubble over his head reveals all the things he is worrying about. The whole time we hear the song Trouble with these words, “Oh, worry, worry, worry, worry. Sometimes it feels like this worry is my only friend.” In the end, the dog gets his bone out of the bank, goes back home and gets – yes, here’s the whole point – a Traveler’s insurance policy. And now he is free to frolic in the backyard with a ball. (more…)

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I’m not a fan a zero tolerance rules.  We’ll all heard reports about how these rules which are designed to safeguard against dangerous behaviors can sometimes hurt the same people they are trying to protect.  These policies can force those in authority to dish out severe punishments to the mildest of offenders.

  • A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time.
  • A six-year-old Cub Scout was sentenced to 45 days in reform school after bringing a camping utensil to school that can serve as a fork, knife or spoon.
  • At least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of Alka-Seltzer tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies.
  • A 13-year-old boy in Virginia, who accepted a breath mint from a classmate, was actually suspended and required to attend drug-awareness classes.

As well-intentioned as they may be, these zero tolerance policies tend to ignore reasonable exceptions to good rules, they remove the loving discipline kids really need from their authority figures who sometimes have no choice but to fall back on the rules, and these policies almost always snag the innocent. (more…)

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You are the salt of the earth.

Today’s Gospel reading – another excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – comes at kind of an interesting time for us.  Just this past week, the U.S. Government released new dietary guidelines that for the first time have advised that Americans drastically reduce their daily salt intake to about 2300 milligrams which is about a teaspoon.  Those at risk for high blood pressure or diabetes are to consume half of that.  Now when I first read that I thought, “I don’t really add much salt to my food.  I rarely use a salt shaker at meal time.”  But then I realized, as I’m sure most of you already know, that most of the salt we take in is hidden in other foods.  In fact, 70% of our salt intake is from processed foods.

These guidelines suggest that we stop adding salt to our foods, request no salt be added to food we eat in restaurants and continue to reduce our salt intake over time.  Experts say it would take years for Americans to get used to a lower salt diet.

So we’ve got a new “assault on salt.”  And yet today Jesus is calling for salt.  He tells us:

You are the salt of the earth. (more…)

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One of the things we did on the adult retreat this past weekend was to try to understand what it means to be blessed.  One of the Scriptures we looked at was our Gospel reading for today – commonly known as the Beatitudes.   Jesus words in Matthew 5 make us ask ourselves, “what makes a person blessed?”  Jesus seems to introduce a new way of thinking about being blessed. (more…)

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