Julie Andrews

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 5.31.35 PM.png

Credit: Wikipedia

To commemorate her 79th birthday a few years ago, actress and vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was My Favorite Things from the legendary movie Sound Of Music. Here are the lyrics she used. If you sing it, it’s especially funny!

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak, When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break, When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had, And then I don’t feel so bad.

In the spirit of talking about growing older, here’s Estate Planning Myth #4, as promised several weeks ago: “If I don’t have a will, my family will be able to figure it out.”

Here’s the reality: If you don’t have a will, the probate judge will appoint an administrator. Do you actually think a court-appointed person will carry out your wishes?

In all likelihood, that administrator will not have known you. So how would that person have any clue whatsoever about your wishes on how to distribute the possessions and assets you have worked hard all your life to accumulate?

One of the important decisions you’ll make when preparing your Last Will and Testament is appointing an independent executor. Pick someone younger than you. Pick someone you trust. If you can’t think of anyone, pick Legacy Deo. We’d be happy to help.

Numerous other planned giving topics of significance are addressed in our Planning Your Legacy — A Guide to Planning Your Will and Trust. Contact us at info@legacydeo.org or call (512) 646-4909 or (800) 880-3733 for your free electronic copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t already have a Last Will and Testament, git ‘er done! I have a feeling Julie Andrews would approve. God bless your day!

Legacy Deo.png

A Plan to Destroy America

Close-Up Photography of American Flag

Today’s article is the first of my 11th consecutive year of writing weekly Perspectives. Hard to believe, but very true! Thanks for your interest, thoughtful comments, and sincere appreciation.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, a federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. On that day, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states.

The Fourth of July is a day to give thanks for the blessings of living in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Most governmental offices are closed and services curtailed. Many businesses are closed for the day. It’s a day to celebrate the unique freedoms we enjoy.

Last week I saw a news report titled St. Louis Park will no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance at City Council meetings. It appeared in the Jackson Star Tribune. St. Louis Park is a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis. Here’s an excerpt:

The St. Louis Park City Council has decided to drop recital of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag at its meetings, citing a desire to accommodate the city’s newest and more diverse residents.

“I hope it’s not too controversial,” Council Member Tim Brausen said. “Our community tends to be a very welcoming and increasingly diverse community, and we believe our citizens will understand. I don’t think we’re going to be any less welcoming by not starting our meeting out with the standard ritual.”

Not everyone was happy with this decision. One resident is quoted as saying her grandparents wanted to be American when they immigrated to the United States. She said she didn’t understand how the council could eliminate this part of their history, calling it “obnoxious.”

This St. Louis Park decision brought to mind an article I recently read about a speech given several years ago by Richard D. Lamm, a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years (1975-1987). Lamm told Snopes: “Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.” Here are a few excerpts from a revised version of his speech:

I have a secret plan to destroy America. If you believe, as many do, that America is too smug, too white, too self-satisfied, too rich, let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. History shows that nations are more fragile than their citizens think. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and they all fall, and that “an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.” Here is my plan:

  1. We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country. History shows, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; it is a curse for a society to be bilingual.
  2. I would then invent “multiculturalism” and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal: that there are no cultural differences that are important. I would declare it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rate is only due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out-of-bounds.
  3. We can make the United States a “Hispanic Quebec” without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with a salad bowl metaphor. It is important to insure that we have various cultural sub-groups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than Americans, emphasizing their similarities.
  4. Having done all this, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated – I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% drop out rate from school.
  5. I would then get big foundations and big business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of victimology. I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was all the fault of the majority – I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.
  6. I would establish dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity. “Diversity” is a wonderfully seductive word. It stresses differences rather than commonalities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. We can take advantage of this myopia.
  7. Then I would place all these subjects off limits – make it taboo to talk about. I would find a word similar to “heretic” in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like “racist” or “xenophobe” that halt argument and conversation.
  8. Having made America a bilingual-bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of “victimology”, I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra – “that because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good.” I would make every individual immigrant sympatric and ignore the cumulative impact.
  9. Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book Mexifornia— this book is dangerous — it exposes my plan to destroy America. So please, please — if you feel that America deserves to be destroyed — please, please — don’t buy this book! This guy is on to my plan.

For the full text of Lamm’s speech go to: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/richard-lamm-on-multiculturalism/.

Knowing the controversial nature of this topic and realizing many Americans, including some of my closest friends and numerous readers, would see Lamm’s speech as radical, myopic, short-sighted, discriminatory, and even unpatriotic, I was reticent about addressing it.

Yet my sense is that although many traditions of German and Wendish origin were observed after our forefathers and foremothers settled in America, our genealogical and spiritual patriarchs and matriarchs accepted American principles and values and chose to support and become part of the country that, for the most part, welcomed them with open arms.

If any organization or country is to survive, there must be an overwhelming sense of unity of purpose and values, while allowing reasonable diversity among its members and citizens.

Much more could be said on this topic, including the role of the church and its constituents in promoting and participating in responsible resettlement efforts. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one such organization. Many individuals and congregations are also involved.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matt. 25:35: “I was a stranger and you took me in.” I’d surely like to believe we can do that without destroying America!

Special Edition — LCMS Presidential Election

This weekend marks the process of election of the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In recent months two electors from each of our 6,000 or so congregations had the opportunity to register for certification to cast a ballot in this election. The actual number of folks who registered is apparently known only by the secretary of our church body.

Through a password protected electronic process, officially registered electors have a window of time during which to cast their ballot for one of three nominees. If one nominee receives a majority vote on the first ballot, that candidate is declared elected.

If no nominee receives a majority on the first ballot, the recipient with the lowest vote total is removed from the second ballot, which contains the names of the two highest vote recipients. A second election takes place by the same password protected process as the first ballot.

This year’s nomination process has created an unusually high level of interest. The three candidates, Matthew Harrison, Timothy Klinkenberg, and David Maier, provide significant options for the electors.

Information, observations, opinions, and recommendations from a number of publications and groups have circulated the past several months. Here’s a brief general summary:

  1. Harrison is the incumbent LCMS president, just now finishing nine years of service.
  2. Klinkenberg is senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Orange, Cal., a large congregation with a highly respected Lutheran school.
  3. Maier is president of the Michigan District LCMS and chairman of the Council of Presidents, comprised of the president, five vice-presidents, and 35 district presidents.
  4. While all three candidates base their theology on a solid foundation of scriptural and confessional principles, significant differences exist in their leadership characteristics, financial management, personal demeanor, levels of humility, administrative skills, and vision for the future of our church body.
  5. All three candidates demonstrate keen awareness of the decline of our national church body but have expressed sharply differing proposals for meeting the challenge. One suggests increased childbirth. The other two offer increased focus on mission planting, cross cultural outreach, and intentional gospel proclamation.
  6. One candidate states publicly his belief that our church body is at peace. The other two have a differing perspective, being aware, among other matters, of pastors who do not commune with one another at pastoral conferences and of significant tension among Synod leaders.

If you are an elector, duly registered to cast a ballot this weekend, my strong encouragement is that you spend time in serious, careful, and prayerful evaluation of the candidates on the basis of the matters listed above. To assist in that process, here are some resources:

Biographical Summaries of the Nominees: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=tQnq0OpQIlv8u7YCDyJrmsvpwRl3IYL2

A Special Q&A with each nominee:  https://blogs.lcms.org/2019/lcms-presidential-election-candidate-question-answer/

A live interview with each nominee conducted by the Southeastern District of the LCMS:
Interview with Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Interview with Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg
Interview with Rev. Dr. David Maier

Whether or not you are an elector, I encourage you to support this process with your prayers, asking the Lord for his blessing upon the election, these three candidates, and the future of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Proofreading — A Dying Art?

Correcting, Proof, Paper, Correction, Correct, Mistake

Perspectives will be a bit lighter than usual this week and next week. It’s summer time. And I’m about to finish the 10th year of writing these articles every single week … 520 articles in a row. So don’t expect anything particularly profound, whether theologically or politically.

Proofreading appears to be a dying art. Here are a few examples of signs that need some help: 

  • In a Laundromat: AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT.
  • In a London department store: BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS.
  • In an office: AFTER TEA BREAK, STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD.
  • Outside a second-hand shop: WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING — BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?
  • Notice in health food shop window: CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS.
  • Spotted in a safari park: ELEPHANTS, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.
  • Seen during a conference: FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE FIRST FLOOR.
  • Notice in a farmer’s field: THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.
  • Message on a leaflet: IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS.
  • On a repair shop door: WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR — THE BELL DOESN’T WORK.)

Thanks for sticking with me, dear friends in Christ. God bless your day!

That’s a Lot of Concrete!

File:I-10 West MS Sign - MM24 (41280230905).jpg

Credit: Wikipedia

Interstate 10 (I-10) is the major east–west Interstate Highway in the Southern United States. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean at California State Route 1 in Santa Monica, California, to I-95 in Jacksonville, Florida. The only longer Interstate Highways are I-80, which runs 2,906 miles from San Francisco to Teaneck, and I-90, which runs 3,085 miles from Seattle to Boston.

In Texas, I-10 runs east from Anthony, a small town near the New Mexico border, through El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston, all the way to the border with Louisiana in Orange, Tex.

At just under 880 miles, the Texas segment of I-10, maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, is the longest continuous non-tolled freeway in North America that is operated by a single authority. In recent years toll lanes have been added on portions of the highway west of Houston, yet it is still possible to travel the entire length of I-10 with no toll.

I-10 is also the longest stretch of highway with a single designation within a single state. Mile marker 880 and its corresponding exit number in Orange, Texas, are the highest numbered mile marker and exit on any freeway in North America.

After widening was completed in 2008, a portion of the highway west of Houston is now also believed to be the widest in the world, at 26 lanes. There is a wider section in China on the G4 Beijing–Hong Kong–Macau Expressway, but that section is a toll plaza approach.

More than one-third of I-10’s entire length is located in Texas alone. El Paso, near the Texas–New Mexico state line, is 785 miles from the western terminus of I-10 in Santa Monica, California. That makes El Paso closer to Los Angeles than it is to Orange, Tex., 857 miles away at the Texas–Louisiana state line. Likewise, Orange is only 789 miles from the eastern terminus of I-10 in Jacksonville, Florida.

That’s a lot of concrete!

Travel on the Interstate Highway system, notwithstanding the frequent bottlenecks and pileups those of us who live in major cities along that system regularly experience, allows those who drive it to travel long distances in relatively short periods of time.

Compare that reality with the time and effort it took biblical characters like Abraham to travel from his point of origination, Ur of the Chaldees (present day Iraq), to God’s chosen destination of Shechem in Canaan, known today as the Holy Land. Only several hundred miles as the crow flies but more than 1,000 miles along the route taken to avoid the Sahara Desert. Not much concrete on that journey. Only lots of faith in the God who was leading him.

I’m Too Young

When I was a young boy many years ago, on certain occasions my mother and father were quick to tell me that I was too young:

  • Too young to ride my bike to my friend’s house by myself
  • Too young to stay up as late as my older sister
  • Too young to swim in the creek by myself
  • Too young to mow the grass

These days of my life I don’t hear that statement any more. My parents are both in heaven. My dear wife never says I’m too young. Neither do our children or grandchildren.

And I surely don’t say that to myself or about myself. I’m not too young to do anything or to own anything or to go anywhere. I’m 76 years old. I’m not too young for anything.

In my work of encouraging people not to wait too long to plan how they want what they own to be distributed after the Lord calls them to heaven, I often hear people say: “I’m too young to think or talk about death and dying. Maybe I’ll be ready for that someday. But not right now.”

It’s more likely that I’ll hear that statement from someone 40 or 50 years of age or younger. But I also hear it from folks who are in their 60s or 70s or 80s. Too young? Really?

That’s the third of seven estate planning myths I began a couple months ago. “I’m too young to think or talk about death and dying. Maybe I’ll be ready for that someday. But not right now.”

Here’s the reality. Neither you nor I nor anyone else has a special “lease on life.”

Jesus told a parable of a farmer blessed with abundant crops. He decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones to store all his grain and possessions. No problem with that, so far.

Jesus continued the parable with what this rich man said to himself: “Then I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry.”

Then Jesus added: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?’”

And Jesus concluded: “This is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Your legacy plan is not only about you. It’s especially about your loved ones. No matter your age, you’re not too young to plan your estate. Doing so helps minimize the stress your loved ones will experience when your life on earth is over. Just do it. Now. Legacy Deo can help.

A Memorial Day Story and Song

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 9.15.49 AM.png

Here’s a story apropos for the week before Memorial Day.

 An Unlikely Friendship

They were quite the pair — she, a beautiful young girl with a bright, white smile; he, a homeless veteran with a scraggly beard and weathered face.

Their friendship started out slow. The girl began saying “hi” to Tony as she traveled to and from her workplace. Soon they were having small conversations, then regular talks and periodic lunches.

“Tony tells me about his war stories, loved ones, and who should win the Super Bowl,” she wrote in a Dec. 5, 2012, post on Reddit. “I tell Tony about my problems, loved ones, and how I don’t really care who should win the Super Bowl.”

From an outsider’s point of view, it seemed the young girl was offering the old, lonely man an ear. But the friendship was reciprocal.

After the passing of some time, the girl went through a difficult period emotionally, and Tony reportedly helped her navigate those tough personal choices.

One day she was walking around feeling sorry for herself when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to find Tony giving her a concerned look.

He had something for her, he said. “From his army jacket, he pulled out a watch head. Tony took my hand and gently placed the broken antique in my palm.”

He went on to say: “I don’t have much but I wanted you to know that you have done what many others would not, simply by being my friend.”

The girl said she realized that when you extend yourself to those in need: “You get back not only what you gave, but infinitely more.”

I’ll close this Memorial Day article with lyrics from a song by Toby Keith, American Soldier:

I’m just trying to be a father, raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother, everything to everyone
Up and at ’em bright and early, I’m all business in my suit
Yeah, I’m dressed up for success, from my head down to my boots

I don’t do it for the money, there’s bills that I can’t pay
I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it anyway
Providing for our future’s my responsibility
Yeah, I’m real good under pressure, being all that I can be

And I can’t call in sick on Mondays when the weekend’s been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays, and sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door
Hey, I’m solid, hey I’m steady, hey, I’m true down to the core

And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh, and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, ‘cause freedom don’t come free

I’m an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I’m an American soldier

This Memorial Day, thank God for American soldiers, past, present, and future.