Roll Away Stone, Pocket the Rock

by Mark  

Sunday, those of the Christian faith stop, reflect and renew our conviction in the most powerful tenet of our religious belief - that death is but a shadow, yet the soul lives on eternal. This tenet also known as the "blessed hope" is what Christians believe sets them apart from those of other or no religious persuasion.

The idea rooted in faith, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", cannot be measured by the tangible senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing or sight. It can only be grasped and held by that inner belief and confidence in tomorrow.

This belief is best summed up in the words of the angel to Mary when she came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus after his crucifixion and death.

"He's not here. He is risen."

This Easter weekend across the US of A, the world, there seems to be an effort by some to attack those of the Christian faith. There are those who profess to be Christians who are attempting to set up a "kingdom" on Earth rather than waiting for the return of Christ to set up His kingdom.

That first day of the week when the female disciples went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body, one question filled their minds:

"Who will roll away the stone?"

A large stone had been placed at the entrance to the tomb along with guards to prevent the followers of the Nazarene from "stealing away His body". The fear among those who rejected Jesus as the Messiah was the disciples would proclaim, that true to His word, Jesus had risen from the dead.

When the women arrived at the tomb, they found the guards were gone.

They found the stone had been rolled away.

My question to both Christian believers and non-believers is:

Have we placed a stone of our own making once more over the mouth of the tomb?

Is it not time to allow the angel to roll away the stone?

Are we the stones in the way?

Remember, God was not the whirlwind.

God was not the fire.

God was that still small voice.

If as Christians we believe with God nothing is impossible, He will establish His kingdom in His time.

When the apostles wanted to proclaim Jesus as king of an eathly kingdom, He told them His kingdom was not of this world.

When Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant, Jesus ordered Peter to put away the sword. Jesus then healed the severed ear.

It is time to roll away the stone we have placed at the mouth of His tomb.

It is time to allow the other stones in our lives to be rolled away.

It is time to "stand and know that I am God" as He said to the psalmist.

I know that I have been guilty of allowing or trying to keep the stone in place. Then I wonder why this or that happens when if I get out of the way and allow the stone to be moved, joy waits in the morning.

I recall nearly 30 years ago a sermon by my late step-father, the Reverend Jack Hollifield, who went to his reward nearly a quarter of a century ago. Taking his text that Sunday morning from the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery where Jesus said, "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone", Pastor Jack challenged the congregation to leave the sanctuary and go to a small rock pile outside the front door of The Lighthouse Chapel.

Pastor Jack asked each of us to pick a small rock from the pile. Place the rock in our pocket to remind us that each of us are but sinners who have found grace. Each time we are ready to cast a stumbling block, an aspersion, to grab hold of that rock in our pocket and refrain from the negative and instead cast love.

There are those I know, who to this day, are still carrying that rock to keep them on the straight and narrow.

What about me?

What about you?

Is it not time to keep our rocks in our pocket and allow the stone preventing the new life from emerging to be rolled away?

For those who are believers, I offer a prayer this weekend that your faith be renewed, your conviction made more resolute and a desire that you will know by faith the power of the resurrection.

For those of other faiths or no religious belief, but still pause to spend time and connection with family and friends, I offer a hearty, "Happy Easter".

From the Cornfield, to quote King David, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me".

Location: Indiana, United States

Turning Tables - Not Right

by Mark  

The worst of humanity has been on display over the past couple of weeks since the passage of Indiana's controversial religious freedom law.

As has happened down through the history of mankind, the oppressed have become the oppressors.

The bullied have become the bullies.

This ought not to be.

My same-gender spouse and I are ashamed of, appalled by the conduct of some opponents and proponents of equality.

I have personally experienced the ugliness of abuse - physical and verbal - for simply being who I am. There is no room, no license now that society is becoming more accepting to turn the tables and extract retribution of actual and perceived wrongs.

If any of us wants to be taken for whom we are, to live in tolerance, we must be accepting of opposition. We must show and live tolerance.

The vitriol and threats from those in favor and those against this law, now under revision and review, are not profitable.

The shuttering of a pizzeria due to threats of harm is not acceptable.

This is America.

This is Indiana.

There is room in the inn. Accomodation can and must be made for all views, all perspectives - whether we agree or disagree.

It is spring.

Time to turn down the thermostat.

From the Cornfield, this man will follow what Jesus taught. I will love my enemies. I will do good to those who wish me harm. By doing thus I will heap "coals of fire" upon their heads.

Location: Indiana, United States

Hoosiers, Razorbacks Capable of Dealing with Stupid on Our Own

by Mark  

I just happened to be born and live in Indiana. I also just happen to be gay.

I just happened to have started school in Burdette, Arkansas. I just happened to have grown up partially in a number of other Arkansas towns.

My grandparents, Dad and aunt just happened to have lived for a large number of years in Arkansas.

Yes, and during my years in Arkansas, I just happened to be gay.

Personally if those protesting the loudest about the recently passed religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arkansas are not from or living in Indiana or Arkansas, I wish they would shut up and let us citizens deal with stupid.

We really don't need the help - thank you, very much.

Politicians are playing games, but we, the voters, are not as ignorant as they think and will remember come 2016 if our pols continue to cast our states in a bad and unfavorable light making the citizens in other states think we support stupid.

Oh yeah, I just happen to be a moderate, independent voter too.

Location: Indiana, United States

What Lies Beneath the Surface?

by Mark  

The Apostle Paul warned Christians that Lucifer - Satan - the Devil - at times appears as an angel of light. Often when this happens the father of lies does not reveal himself and his purpose until too late and a trusting soul is sucked into a black hole consuming all light.

In our own anecdotal lives we often find beauty and attractive looks conceal an ugliness. We have all been taught how the shiniest fruit, looking so delicious, may be rotten to the core when we take a bite.

Thus is the case with legislation signed into law last week by Indiana Governor Mike Pence here in the Cornfield. Using the appealing justification of protecting religious freedom, the new law, which takes effect in July, has the effect of codifying discrimination.

While the media and opponents of the law are focusing on what is perceived as a right to bar service to gays and lesbians if a business owner holds a "deeply held religious belief" that condemns homosexuality as sin. While this does appear to be the case, the law is more harmful than what meets the eyes.

Indiana is one of the most conservative states in the nation. Though a part of the North and having fought with the Union in the Civil War, the state has a sordid past when it comes to civil rights.

Once the Cornfield was a bastion of the Klu Klux Klan with tentacles strretching into the governor's mansion and throughout the General Assembly. Once the state, which also was part of the Underground Railroad prior to the War Between the States, saw its share of unjustified, hate-driven hangings and abuse of those of color.

This latest law does nothing to enhance the state as it prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary of statehood. Rather this law throws Indiana back into the dark days of yore when hatred and evil reigned.

Not only does this law allow for justified and legal discrimination against the GLBT, the law could conceivably be used for Jewish businesses to refuse service to Muslims and Christians. Hindus could bar Bhuddists. Protestants and Catholics could shun each other. Mainline church members could say, "No" to evangelicals.

The law opens the door for bias and discrimination at its worst pitting one group against another - all under the noble ideal of relgious freedom.

This is not right.

This nation, this state, was founded on the principle of freedom of and freedom from religion as well as the ideals in the Declaration of Independence of "unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". While those rights have limits where one's exercise infringes on the rights of others, this is what America is all about.

This law, though sounding high and noble, is a mere camoflage of the real purpose which is to legalize discrimination. No matter how the Governor attempts to continue the ruse, the mask is off, the nature is revealed.

In the time of Jesus walking on the Earth, there were civic and religious leaders who tried the same tactics. They were known as Pharisees. Jesus had no use for them and saw them as making their faith publicly known only to set themselves up above others with a guise of being more "holy".

Jesus preached against being like the Pharisees. Jesus taught us to keep our faith between us and God. Jesus taught to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."

One of my concerns when Pence ran for office was that he would pull such a move once elected. It is one reason I supported his opponent with my vote. Pence, spoken of as a possible presidential contender, served as a voice of social conservatives while a member of the US House of Representatives. At times his positions found him out of step with more establishment and moderate Republicans.

The signature of Pence on this legislation does not make the quest for the White House any easier. This position pits Pence in the same camp, seeking the same small number of voters which Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are hoping to win over. None of these, in my opinion, have a chance in winning the national vote.

This law not only makes Indiana look bad, it makes the Republican Party dancing without rhythm and out of step with most voters. If the GOP continues on this walk, the White House will remain in the hands of Democrats.

I take no issue with those, who genuinely do not want my business or my money on relgious grounds. There are plenty of other business owners eager to take my hard-earned and few dollars.

I do, however, believe any business which is licensed by the state to do business with the public must do so without discrimination of any kind. Open to the public means open to the public, which is everyone.

Can Hoosiers redeem themselves in time before the damage becomes life-threatening or at least economically putting the state, which boasts a surplus, on budgetary life-support?

This law is not good for the Cornfield.

This law is not good for Hoosiers.

This law is not good for religious freedom.

This law is not good, no matter the intention.

From the Cornfield, Governor Pence, all the mincing words in the world will not calm the uproar. As Oliver Hardy was fond of saying to Stanley Laurel, "What a fine mess you've gotten us into".

Location: Indiana, United States

Beauty of Day Marred by Traffic Mishap

by Mark  

Returning to Mark's Den in the Cornfield after feasting in honor of Saint Patrick at Ryan's Buffet prior to the 5 p.m. rush hour I came upon a collision on US 41 south of Terre Haute and a short distance north of the partially completed 641 bypass and Ivy Tech Community College. Two vehicles had a nasty accident crumpling both vehicles' frontends.

Not sure of what injuries may have resulted. The Indiana State Police and Vigo County Sheriff's deputies were on the scene. Emergency medical technicians were working with drivers and/or passengers from the vehicles. Personnel with the Honeycreek Townshp Fire Department were assisting with clean-up.

Hoping no one was critically harmed.

US 41 Accident 1

US 41 Accident 2

From the Cornfield, wishing each of you a safe and joyous Saint Patick's Day!

Location: Indiana, United States

iReport Vibrant or Terminal?

by Mark  

Shortly after the first of the new year, CNN rolled out a new web site design. The site is still rife with a variety of issues. The changes have me wondering if newsy, social networking part of CNN's online presence which invites every day people to contribute images, videos, articles and opinions is being phased out.

In other words, is iReport still viable with the upcoming 2016 presidential election and primaries in the offing or is the news network signalling the demise of the experiment in citizen journalism?

Is iReport's future vibrant or terminal?

The iReport Team was updating and featuring various iReporters on a weekly basis. Those featured have been there since before the start of 2015 without change.

At one time there were weekly, then monthly round tables where the Team would share and gather input from members of the community. Those round tables disappeared over a year ago.

Where once a link to iReport was prominently featured at the top of the page, now one must hunt to find the link. Only members, former members or those who were regular viewers of the inuput from John and Jane from down the street know how to find iReport recently.

Instead of entreating people to upload their photos, videos and reports to iReport, now CNN is asking people to submit with Twitter, Instagram or a particular show's, reporter's or anchor's Facebook page. On occasion, as if an afterthought, uploading to iReport is thrown into the mix, but not always.

All of this has me wondering about the prognosis for iReport.

What do you think?

1. Is iReport being phased out?

2. Is there still a reason to use iReport?

3. Does iReport have a future with CNN?

4. Is iReport being abandoned?

6. Is the only purpose of iReport is to keep traffic visitng the site inflated?

From the Cornfield, my interest is waning in iReport although I have been an active contributor since September of 2011.

Then again with all my health issues, I am having trouble with focus and interest with my daily blog, Inside My Mind, which is no longer daily. I cannot muster the energy to do a daily recap of headlines and current events for Kernels From the Cornfield. I find it difficult to offer up political commentary here at From the Cornfield.

With the lack of attention to the community from the iReport Team, I am beginning to feel as if those who participate and contribute to iReport have been taken out into the country, dropped off and left to figure a way back home.

Even if we manage to get home, will we find that the family has packed up and moved away without a clue as to where they have gone?

Should my interest be rekindled as the presidential primary season starts in earnest, will there be an iReport to share my thoughts From the Cornfield?

Location: Indiana, United States

SOTU - Page Turned? Not, Quite

by Mark  

In the lead up to Tuesday night's State of the Union Address to a joint-session of Congress, the White House was playing up the speech as being one where President Barack Obama would be declaring the page turned from a bleaker, dismal yesterday for the US of A to a better and brighter future ahead.

While high on hubris, the reality of what the President had to talk about was less than a page turner and more of a wish it so if the facts didn't get in the way speech.

True the President could rightly talk about an upturn in the economic aura that has been pervasively weaker than expected and this far since the recession officially ended. But more jobs were created last year than any time since long before the housing market went belly up in 2008. Granted those jobs are not the full-time, good paying jobs of yesterday, but they are jobs. Those jobs happen to be mostly part-time and closer to the bottom pay rate.

Will admit the stock market is soaring. However, the market is artificially inflated by actions of the Federal Reserve more than by real market forces being allowed to operate. Same with the much lower cost at the pump when filling up the tank in the family car. Those prices are lower as a result of Saudi Arabia keeping a glut on crude oil more than US policy.

The President did rightly call for authorization to use force from Congress to combat the forces of the Islamic State. At the same time, the President continued to assert that terrorism is on the run and not winning. The President claimed his policies are working in staving off the global threat and keeping Russia's march toward reclaiming its former glory in check.

Nothing can be farther from the reality on the ground.

The President did set out an agenda. It is an agenda for his party, the Democratic Party, to pursue as it tries to hold on to the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2016. It is an agenda that has little chance of fruition over the next two years as Republicans hold the reins in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Already proclaiming veto threat after veto threat, the President continued his threats twice during last night's speech. He smugly claimed that he had no more elections to face, because he had won both of his in 2008 and 2012. He ignored that voters put checks on his policies in 2010 and 2014 by putting Congress into the hands of Republicans.

Newly elected Joni Ernst, Senator from Iowa, gave the GOP response and committed no gaffes or flubs. She did her job. She did note that Republicans had heard voters about finding a way to govern together with the White House. But that's about it.

There were some, admittedly, items that may find compromise - free trade agreements and some tax reform. But not much else.

It is going to be a long two years.

From the Cornfield, the President appears to be in LaLa Land with his "victory lap" proclaimed last night staring in the face of what is happening on the ground all around the world.

Republicans must find a way to overcome the divisiveness and govern or face another humiliating loss in 2016.

Who will blink?

Who will do right by America?

Although a CNN/ORC poll revealed that a vast majority of Americans think the President pointed the country in the right direction last night, will either the President or the Republican-controlled Capital be able to map out a path in the right direction?

Will we see more detours, more road blocks and a continued disillusionment and hiding eyes from the reality not just in the US of A, but around the world?

Location: Indiana, United States

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