March 13, 2015: Half a Century Together in Marriage.

Here we are last Christmas

Not everyone manages to stay married for 50 years; and that is for many reasons.  Since we have done so, I wanted to say a few things about us, our marriage, our family; but, in doing so, I didn't want it to end up being a novel.  So I have left out many many things.  If I included it all, it really would be a novel.  So here goes:

In the late summer of 1964, I was at work at Kings' Daughters Hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, in the laboratory; and one of my coworkers said, "Mike, you gotta go see the new girl down in Pediatrics."  I immediately looked for an excuse to go to pediatrics and found a requisition that needed to be delivered.  As I was walking down the hall toward the pediatric desk I glanced into the pediatric kitchen and there stood the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  I said to myself, "That's the girl I'm going to marry," knowing that a girl that pretty wouldn't even date me.  I did get enough courage to introduce myself to her, though.  Her name was Gaye Harris; and she had just completed her training as a Nursing Assistant.

Over the next several weeks, I looked for excuses to get to see and speak to Gaye (whose name is actually "Gay" on her birth certificate; but she liked the "e" at the end and her mother couldn't convince her to spell it correctly.)  After a few months, very few, I had the courage to ask her for a date with some positive signals from her in advance.  We agreed to go to see a movie together at the Paramount Theater:  "Goldfinger." 

We became almost constant companions when we could.  Our dates were mostly "free" dates like eating together in the hospital cafeteria, going to church together, but also eating at the Bluegrass Grill (Ashland's version of Arnold's from "Happy Days" but without the roller skates) and occasional movies, and just walking around in downtown Ashland, Kentucky, USA.

Toward the end of October we agreed we wanted to be married.  I don't know if I ever formally asked her to marry me or vice versa.  It was as though we both knew at the same time we were going to be together forever.  (To his irritation, in that day when it was a custom to ask the bride's father for permission to marry his daughter, I didn't ask.  He accepted it relatively soon, though.)  We walked to a jewelry store where Gay's Mom knew the owner; and looked at engagement/wedding rings.  All of them he was showing at first were too expensive for me/us; but he brought out a set that had been returned when they decided at the last minute not to get married.  It was a beautiful half caret marquis diamond in a simple white gold setting.  The two rings cost $275!  I have no idea how I came up with the money; but I bought the rings by Christmas or so.  We talked of being married in June.  We couldn't wait that long, though; and as Spring Break at the Ashland Community College was a couple of months away we decided to get married over Spring Break.

Lots of preparation later, we scheduled the wedding for March 13th at what was then the Trinity  Methodist Church in the Summit area of Ashland, asking Gaye's brother Emmett Adkins, an ordained Conservative Baptist pastor to do the wedding; and he agreed.  We learned two days before the wedding that her brother could not legally perform the wedding in Kentucky, so at the last minute I asked one of the local pastors who worked with our district youth to do the wedding: the late Reverend Larry Buskirk; and he did the wedding with Emmett and a couple of hundred other folk, present.

Lots of things have happened since that wedding.  We had a little baby boy two years later named James Michael Mansfield, II (Jimmy).

            Gay and Jimmy in a cabin at 
                                       Copper Harbor, Michigan, on vacation.

Gay had cervical cancer and a hysterectomy.  I completed college while we both worked at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.  We lived in several different locations with jobs as a medical secretary in the UKMC Radiation Therapy/Nuclear Medicine Department for Gaye while I was getting a degree in Medical Technology while working in the UKMC Lab and the Central Baptist Hospital lab.

             Gay and her coworkers at Radiation Therapy/Nuclear Medicine at UKMC

In our fifty years we have lived in Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio; and multiple places in Ohio and Kentucky.  (It's the day after the anniversary; and I decided to add this in:  In no special order, wehave lived together in: Ashland, Kentucky, in two different locations downtown plus the Westwood and Summitt areas; Pontiac, Michigan; Georgetown, Kentucky, in two locations; Lexington, Kentucky, in two locations; Raceland, Kentucky; South Shore, Kentucky; Ludlow, Kentucky; Burkesville, Kentucky; Fairdale, Kentucky; "Little Dixie," Kentucky, in Henderson County; Frankfort, Kentucky (two locations, one of them really in Woodford County); Louisville, Kentucky;  Miamitown, Ohio; Brookville, Ohio; Westville (not to be confused with Westerville), Ohio; and West Chester, Ohio.  (I admit I may have left something out.)

Gay has worked as a  nursing assistant, medical assistant, medical office receptionist, baby sitter, and medical secretary.  I have worked as a drugstore delivery boy, a laboratory technician, a medical technologist (including a chief technologist at the old John Graves Ford Hospital in Georgetown, Kentucky); and finally in medical sales where I did very well.

Then, when living on the 11th fairway of the Beckett Ridge Country Club's planned community, we made the most major change in direction.  We sold our home; and Mike headed for seminary after being appointed to a church as its pastor in Miamitown, Ohio.

                       My ordination class at Lakeside-on-Lake Erie, 1986

                             Gay in our cabin at Lakeside following ordination

We served in eight different locations a total of 10 congregations; and I was forced into retirement after 24 years.  Meanwhile Gay had become less healthy; and, even though I had started working in the laboratory again, I ended up completely retired and with very low income. 

In 2003 our granddaughter, Paige was born.
My favorite photo of Paige as a baby

In our fifty years we've learned what it means to "love one another, comfort one another, honor one another, keep one another, and be faithful to one another IN SICKNESS and in health for as long as we both shall live."

We've had periods of anger, jealousy, worry, great joy, boredom, fun, happiness, and all of the feelings that go with spending your time working together in a church setting but also working together to rear a little boy into adulthood.

In 1965 I married the beautiful, sexy, brunette woman from pediatrics with the nearly perfect face because I loved her. (I caught "West Side Story" on TV today; and I noticed that, as beautiful as Natalie Wood was, Gay was even more beautiful then.) In the last 50 years I have learned a lot more about what love is; and I can honestly say that I had no idea I could still feel such strong desire, affection, concern, and appreciation for Gaye that I have now.  Yes, I loved her in 1965.  Now I LOVE her.

                                      At a Party at South Shore (Kentucky) 
                                       First United Methodist Church

One of the things I've been saying for the last few years is, "We've been married for the last 45 (or 46 or 48, etc.) years; and we're beginning to think it might last."

It looks like it has.



I thought I should include my letter-to-the-editors of several Kentucky newspapers in my blog as a way to keep it out there in Google, Bing, and other searches more easily. 

To Whom It May Concern:

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recently gave its support to the proposed “Bluegrass Pipeline” which would go through central Kentucky’s beautiful and historic landscape.  The Chamber of Commerce, in general, supports business, I know; but they are com­pletely wrong about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline and the associated dangers related to it.  They should be opposing the highly likely and potential damage to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and particularly the Bluegrass Region of the state.

This is NOT a LIQUEFIED Natural Gas line as the Williams and Boardwalk Companies try to make people think it is but A LINE TO CARRY explosive and poisonous products that could cause a major explosion and/or poison our entire water supply for a long period of time if it gets into the aquifer. 

Their arguments about the fact that trains, barges, and trucks already carry liquids of this type is moot because, in each of those cases, the leak is easily visible; and is very much localized.  As we know from experience with the Williams Company, leaks occur and can go undetected for weeks while the water supply gets contaminated.  If a truck or barge or train car blows up, in each case it is localized and of limited duration, size,  and explosive­ness to the point of people having advance knowledge as to how much danger it would be.  

There is a 100% chance, based on history, that there will be a leak in this pipeline within 10 years somewhere along its length.  So I would suggest that, if the Chamber of Com­merce supports this very, very, very bad idea, the Board members should consider volunteering their land which would make the pipeline be oriented as close as possible to their homes.  For those on or off the board and for ordinary citizens who authorize the Williams Company’s building of the pipeline through their land these are facts:

Their property values would go down immediately.
The property values of their nearby neighbors would go down immediately.
They are not just authorizing ONE pipeline but giving a right-of-way that will allow addi­tional lines to be stacked with no additional compensation.
They are granting the company access to go driving across their property at any time the company chooses to do so. 
They are endangering themselves and their families and neighbors.

Add to all of that the very real possibility that the bottom will fall out of this market and cause the closing of the pipeline and/or that a devastating explosion or leak could occur that damages the drinking water of almost or perhaps all of Central Kentucky.  The law­suits that would follow would be massive.  The companies owning the pipeline would simply declare bankruptcy (probably after paying out big bonuses to their executives, based on the history of other corporations lately) and leave the citizens of Kentucky with the responsibility and costs of cleaning up the mess, if it is even possible to clean it up.

Another possibility is that, somewhere along the line when earthquakes continue to hap­pen near the fractured natural gas wells, that this method of natural gas production will be forced to cease, again eliminating the profit of the pipeline and any interest Williams and Boardwalk Companies would have in maintaining them versus bankruptcy.

Any potential taxes these companies will pay might help the state in the short run, but the long-term view is more important here.  We are not going to get enough tax, even if ALL of the tax money were kept deposited in an interest-bearing account, to pay for such a devas­tating possibility. 

So it is an economic gamble for the state as well as an environmental gamble.  It is an even bigger gamble for the local homeowners and worse still (since they receive no compensa­tion at all) for their neighbors and the communities along its path.

Again, this is not an LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) pipeline but an NGL (Natural Gas Liq­uids) pipeline.  It can be made safer if we enact very strict rules about its construction and location; but it cannot be made safe, period.  They admit that. 

Quite frankly, I am amazed that the Chamber of Commerce would even consider this to be a positive thing in any way.  They need to do some more research and, again, consider putting that pipeline in their own backyard instead of someone else's.  (And, of course, their neighbors might end up with it in a nearby yard as well.)  In fact, I believe the Chamber is nearly 100% wrong about this being something good for Kentucky economically or in any other way.


Michael Mansfield, BS (MT, ASCP), M.Div.
3500 Versailles Road
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-8713


Thanksgiving In My Hometown In Days Past: What a Difference Greed Makes.

One of my Facebook friends just posted this:  "... it isn't like it use to be. The holidays meant something, now it all about profit and greed."  That set me to thinking about Thanksgiving as a child while growing up in Ashland, Kentucky.

Our father worked for Ashland Oil and Refining Company.  He was a laborer at the refinery for a little while, then an operator at the same company during the time about which I am writing.  In other words he was just an ordinary employee, a member of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, and one who cared about how the company for whom he worked, or rather the person for whom he worked and that company, Paul Blazer did with his business. 

Mr. Blazer was more than just a little considerate at this Holiday time of the year.  The thing we remember most, as children, though (well, at least that Mike remembers most) were the Christmas parties Ashland Oil held at the armory for all of the employees, their spouses, and their children.  It was a big affair; and developed as the company grew to at least three parties for different employees through the years.

After feeding all of us a good meal, we were treated to circus acts which, for a boy from eastern Kentucky, was a very special treat.  After that we all lined up to get a present given to us by Ashland Oil as children of employees.  Families tended to be much bigger in those days; and for the Mansfield family that meant five gifts!  They were not cheap gifts either; and we always looked forward to this offering for us given by what we saw as our father's company, in part because of his dedication to that company.

Today, if Paul Blazer were the CEO of Ashland Oil he would be fired the first time he tried that party unless it improved the bottom line in profits for that company.  Today corporations around the United States have decided that having a leg up on sales, by opening on Thanksgiving Day, when it was bad enough that they were opening at Midnight on Thanksgiving; and in doing so they are doing almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Blazer did for the employees of Ashland Oil.  Yes, those employees MAY make a little extra money; but there is not even a guarantee of that.  In our father's day, had he been required to work at Ashland Oil on a holiday, a real possibility since it was a refinery and operated 24 hours per day, he would have received two and one-half times his regular salary for working that holiday.  Folk at most of the non-production businesses opening for Thanksgiving tomorrow will receive only their regular hourly wage unless it is forty hours for the week.  They may even see their weekly pay go down since extra employees get hired over the holidays.

So tomorrow, if you find yourself tempted to go get a cheap TV or X-box or something, don't just think about yourself.  You're just falling into the same trap into which  the folk running these companies have fallen. It isn't exactly the same.  Your greed is for saving money on an item you want.  Their greed is for additional income for themselves and their company.  In both cases, though, the underlying drive is greed and in no way reflects what we saw when we watched a dozen clowns crawl out of a tiny car on the floor of the armory nor the joy of children eating with parents and the joy of parents watching their excited children receive their gifts.

You can wait a day for that X-Box.  If you really need it you can still get it 24 hours later.

Give thanks with a grateful heart tomorrow as I gift thanks for memories and friends right now.


Everybody knows what Is "Normal"? Does it change with time?

The following story appeared in my email inbox this morning required a response:
Pastor found guilty by church court in gay son's wedding

When I was a child and teenager, it was easy to tell from the people around me and the programs on television and radio what constituted being normal.  It meant you were Caucasian, you were in a family with two parents, one of each sex, you were middle class or at least thought you were, and you were straight.  EVERYBODY KNEW THIS, that is everybody except poor people, people whose parents had died and were orphaned, people who were not Caucasian; and some others, including people who were gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or intersex folk who kept quiet about their sexuality so virtually no one even knew about it.

My earliest memories about this subject was that "queers" (one of the derogatory terms of the day, since picked up proudly by some gay folk) were bad people and completely abnormal and probably mentally ill.  My first experience with someone who was gay was very negative because he attempted to have unwanted sex with me, which I managed to avoid.  It was not violent; but it was very much not what I wanted; and it was an attack.  That colored the subject for me for decades afterward, along with the locker room attitudes of most men, and probably women as well, of my generation.

On top of that, of course, as one who was regularly in attendance in a  Protestant Church, I had the Bible supporting my attitude toward those who were not heterosexual.  I knew those places in the Bible where it seemed obvious that God was against those things.

I questioned the Bible a lot as a late teen and young adult; but I never quit questioning my beliefs or the beliefs of others in this area as I got older.  The fact is I still question constantly what I believe, what others say about their beliefs, the world around me; but probably most of all human behavior in the context of morality and how we treat one another.

In the midst of my questioning as a beginning middle adult, I attended seminary at a United Methodist Seminary where I learned a lot more about how to properly question the scriptures including not just the translations (which, as a young person I thought was literally correct in the King James Version) but also cultural setting, the way the author or authors of the particular section of scripture edited it, and others.  I thought I was "getting there" when it came to understanding the Bible; but I still had a lot of fundamentalism left in my "bones" from my upbringing.  It was hard to escape that because it was almost like changing not just my beliefs, but the core of who it meant to be Mike Mansfield.

I continued in what I refused at the time to call homophobia.  I had the scriptures to back me up; and it couldn't be a literal fear of homosexuals that was at the core of my beliefs about being anything but heterosexual.  All of that was abnormal.  "How do I know?  The Bible tells me so," as the song goes.

Then something happened.  Someone whom I dearly loved, someone who was an amazingly gifted preacher, singer, guitarist, and ordained Elder in my Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church and whom I had expressed my attitudes about those who were not straight during a support group meeting a year or so earlier decided that, essentially, he could no longer hide who he was.  Allan was gay; and this gifted, loving man was out of the ministry.  I was sorry for that.  He had moved outside of the area where I lived; but I still missed his presence and the interactions we had at retreats and other avenues where we were both present.  That probably put a question in the back of my head; but, if so, I managed to avoid it at the time.

Then, a few years later, I was able to access the internet and became part of the Protestant Revised Common Lectionary discussion list.  On that list was a gay young adult whose father was a United Methodist pastor.  He engaged me in a discussion of the biblical texts from which were drawn my "biblical" understandings of homosexuality; and he showed me alternative understandings of what the Bible was saying about it.  I realized that I was very much just picking and choosing which of the First Testament lessons, in particular, I liked when so many of them were just absolutely crazy in modernity and more like "cave man" thinking.  He also pointed out inconsistencies in how we interpret even New Testament lessons to the point of getting my questioning mind going rapidly.

Then it happened:  I discovered that another gifted pastor whom I knew was gay; and the questioning got even stronger.  I now was internally becoming very convinced that gay people were not defective but just different.  My understandings were my own, though; and I didn't share them with very many people at that time. 

I cannot give you a day or time when I actually completely (and religious folk forgive me for using this term; but it is the right one), a day or time when I actually completely CONVERTED, to the place where my mind and heart and spirit realized how precious LGBTI folk were in God's sight and should be in mine and also in the eyes of the legal system of the United States.  It happened, though; and I have gone from this internal belief to the point where I feel like it is one area where I must speak out.  As a retired pastor I don't have to worry about losing my job nor my pension; but I understand those who might be afraid to speak out who are still serving in a local congregation.  I feel pity for them, though, as I feel regret for my own pathetic fear in being vocal about this.

Since then, though, I have met face-to-face with my friend Allan who left the ministry, hugged and been hugged, and continue to communicate my love for him and vice versa.  He was and is an amazing and wonderful man.   If you knew him, even if you are still against homosexual ordination or against homosexual rights, I am sure you'd like him.  He was a gift to the United Methodist Church that was removed by our refusal to give full rights to those who are not heterosexual, just as women were at one time excluded from the full life of the church.

Jesus said, "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another."  I attempt to live this out; but, in the meantime as I continue to learn and grow:

"Father, forgive me, forgive us, for we know not what we do." 


Consider the Source. Then use your intellect.

I read a story this morning insinuating that the people at Web MD had written biased stories about the Affordable Care Act (which they call Obamacare, of course) and that the administration had paid them for their positive remarks about the ACA. (The source was a right wing site that will remain anonymous so as not to drive any traffic there.)

There was nothing to substantiate their suggestion that this site, which I used for continuing education credit when I last worked as a Medical Technologist and which is a reputable medical site in all ways, was doing anything other than reporting when they said positive things about the ACA.  Nevertheless, as right wing rags are wont to do, they bashed Web MD and its public portal, Medscape, for writing anything positive because it is being used to help with the ACA and being paid for that usage. 
Again, this is the same site that three different employers of mine:  a national laboratory chain, an acute care hospital, and a long-term care hospital, utilized, at least in part, for our continuing education credits. 

The story simply insinuates something ulterior was going on and ran with that.  No proof of anything, just that suggestion.  Web MD has published both positive and negative articles about the Affordable Care Act; but that they would say anything positive, of course, is suspect because that would help make the law work better; and not one right wing person wants it to work at all.

 I wonder.  I really wonder what shape the Affordable Care Act would have today if Republicans had tried to make it work (after all, it was designed by a Republican think tank and used in Massachusetts by then Governor and future Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for their healthcare system) rather than trying to make it fail, and worked to improve it for the bulk of the people, rather than trying to keep it from working at all.  What would the United States be like today had Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell not said on day one of Obama's first term that his primary goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term President that continues in their attempts to destroy the positive effects of the Affordable Healthcare Act?

I can't say that everything the Republicans have done was completely obstructionist in relationship to "Obamacare."  I can say, though, that the only thing I have seen from them from the beginning was faux outrage for purely political purposes.

I know there are problems with the government portal for the Affordable Care Act.  I know they should have picked a different vendor for that purpose.  I even know that some folk (but far far fewer than you would believe) are losing their insurance because of the ACA.  Most of them are losing nothing because they really didn't have any health insurance; and many of them could actually be saving money in Kentucky with actual health insurance.  That would be true in all 50 states if the Republicans in those states hadn't stopped the state-level system from operating.

I know that most of you who would bother to read this blog realize that the main reason Republicans are fighting this law, besides the obvious political implications in the short run, is that within two years of full implementation the vast majority of Americans will almost certainly finally realize that the Republican Party opposes their best interests, at least in this area.  That they would still vote for such a political party is questionable; and that is downright frightening to Republican politicians.  That they would not win another national election for years is almost certain if they cannot stop full implementation of the law.

So, instead of driving traffic to that other site which remains anonymous in the post, I hope to drive what little bit of traffic actually reads this blog to a highly reputable and excellent site for healthcare information which now includes information about the Affordable Care Act.





Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?

I know some of you will think this blog will have something directly to do with the lesson in Mark's Gospel; but, outside of the title, this is not a Bible lesson at all.  It is about being paralyzed instead.

At a recent meeting of our local MoveOn Council, we were more-or-less stumped about what to do next.  We have so many things before us, it is hard to know where to start; and we have few folk who are really active in the planning and processing we must do that it seems almost impossible to go on.  Another way of saying this is that we are paralyzed in some ways. 

I have been in this paralyzed state before.  I wasn't sure what the right approach would be to continue to work in the lab, or the next thing to do to try to improve the life of a local congregation in the church, or even the right way to show my love for family or friends.  More recently I was paralyzed by the loneliness I was feeling brought on by my own depression and isolation.

What I have learned is that we need to do something; and it is almost better to do what turns out to be the wrong thing than to do nothing at all.

  • A friend's spouse commits suicide; and you don't know what to say so you say nothing; and they feel you don't care.
  • You need to hire a new employee; and you are having a hard time deciding which one is best, or aren't sure any of them are the right fit, so you wait instead of continuing to recruit for the position.
  • You know that, as an extrovert, you must get out of the house and around people; but you can't decide what you can afford or where would best fit your needs so you go nowhere.You know your car needs repair; but you can't decide what is the right approach while the engine continues to get progressively worse.
When it comes to our work in activism, we can become overwhelmed with how very much there is to do.  Right now, just in our area, we are confronted by sever major issues  Here are some of them:
  • The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, which would bring Natural Gas Liquids (not to be confused with Liquified Natural Gas) which are toxic, heavier than air, and potentially explosive when the leak occurs.  We have an especially dangerous topography here in Central Kentucky because of sinkholes and caves where these liquids/gases can collect unseen until an explosion occurs or we find the water is killing folk.  
  • Food Stamps and other social services are cut so that the wealthier can become even wealthier, claiming it is for the good of the country rather than for the benefit of the top1-10%.
  • Attacks are being made on other social protections such as Medicare and Medicaid.
  • The Affordable Care Act is under attack not for legitimate issues with it, but for mostly fabricated issues by people who do not want it to work.
  • The Transpacific Partnership (TPP), which would add many more "trade partners" with no trade barriers which helps them much more than the people of the USA.  (It is called NAFTA on steroids.)
Where do we start?  What is the most important issue?  What is the best approach to the most important issues?  How much do you and I have in time, talent, money, and interest to attack the problem(s)?

I can't answer that; but I can tell you that just sitting and complaining is not a legitimate option.  Get at it.  Do something.  Give what you have to give; and don't give up.

Now, you all tell me something you know is a need, including any of these; and how you are going to try to help.  In other words, "Get up....." and GO!


A Half Century Later: Some Memories of My 50th High School Reunion

Some Stayed Later

Fifty years ago this past Spring, 118 of us graduated from Boyd County High School, near Ashland, Kentucky.  We had our adult lives fully before us; and we were excited for various reasons related to freedom, college, jobs, marriages and families, and lots more in our futures.
On October 13, 2013, several of us in that graduating class reunited at the new Boyd County High School building for a reunion.  We learned right away that twenty-four of our classmates had died, though some said it seemed like a low percentage, since nearly 100% of us would be 68 or 69 years old this year.  

I had never even seen the outside of the new high school building; and I was impressed with the location, on a hillside overlooking the valley, two stories tall and very different from the building where most of our class had spent four years of their lives.  More on this building later.

As I exited my car in the large parking lot, I saw another classmate get out of his vehicle.  Bruce Adkins was as casually dressed as I would have expected and looked good.  (Please note:  Most of us looked a lot better fifty years ago as you would expect, so when I say looked good, I am not likely to be comparing folk to their much younger appearances.  Bruce looked good for his age, a little better than most.)  We greeted each other as we walked into the building and saw others in the distance heading there as well.

I also want to note that a few of the "girls" present were still very nice looking, including one in particular whom I thought was prettier, though older looking of course, than she was in high school.  No names, though, to save her from embarrassment and any other girls there from feeling left out.

The team who had put together the reunion details were well organized, had a professional photographer taking photos of everything; and registration was easy and we each had on a name tag with our graduation photos.  (I don't believe it was to remind us of how old we were but so we'd recognize that person we may not have seen for decades; but it was a reminder of how old we were anyway.)

I really enjoyed seeing everyone.  I didn't get to speak with enough of them.  Some I have as Facebook friends and get updates about their lives anyway; but it was still good to see them in the flesh and get hugs and handshakes and smiles and to talk in person.  Others I barely remembered from high school except, perhaps, for their names.  Many of them, though, would have been among my closest friends in high school.

Relatively soon we were invited for a tour of the magnificent new facility.  Two stories high and beautifully built and modern inside and out.  On the tour, Bill Edison and I were frequently near one another; and we were impressed with the facility and its equipment.  They have what would have seen like magical white boards in the classrooms that used an electronic method to make writing appear on the white boards.  That, in itself, was impressive; but the thing Bill, in particular, noticed was the large number of video cameras stationed around the building.  A boy wouldn't have to worry much about having his pants pulled off of him in the restroom and the guy or guys who did it getting away with it at the new BCHS facility. 

Earlier Bill Eidson and I had discussed with others how he, in particular, and most of us who had good reputations at the school really didn't do that much wrong; but that, when we did we were more clever about it.  Bill, in particular,  as the School Superintendent's son, would have been in lots of trouble.  (Now I am not saying Bill or I ever actually DID anything bad while in the high school, of course.)  While on tour, though, Bill leaned over toward me and whispered something like, "Mike, how long do you think it would have taken us to hack those cameras if we were students here today?"  I laughed and said, "You're right, Bill."  That is exactly the kind of thing we would have tried to do, not to make trouble, but just for the adventure of it all.

Can you find any of the cameras?

Some of us at the reunion were apolitical.  Others, like me are very progressive, though I won't name them just in case they are still in the closet with their political leanings.  Others were very conservative to being regressive, not just conservative, it seemed to me.  One thing I noticed in the directory they sent out following the reunion is that in June following our graduation the "Equal Pay Act" was passed.  Unfortunately it is still not a reality as women continue to make about 20-30% less than men, in spite of strides that have been made.

I won't identify the person; and I still like him because he hasn't had my experiences in life nor even the amount of education; but I also know that from some others I still might have heard the following that shocked me, even though I shouldn't have in this conservative red state in an even more conservative part of that state: 

Wait, scratch that, I'm not going to tell that racist, anti-Obama "joke" on my blog.  Just let me say that I realized I wasn't "in Kansas anymore," or more specifically, I wasn't in my dominantly progressive County of Woodford just outside of the dominantly progressive City of Frankfort anymore.  It took me a few minutes to get over that; and it made me uncomfortable for the rest of the evening, though. I probably would have been a bit more outgoing if I hadn't been careful about blurting my beliefs out loud about equality and progressive ideals.  And the bigger question is why someone who is basically a nice, funny guy would think it was Okay to tell the joke in the first place.

One of the more impressive parts of our get together was the meal itself, prepared by the Culinary Arts department at the school.  (Would we have even known what "culinary arts" meant in 1963?)  It was excellent; and the presence of the high school students who prepared and served the meal was a welcome addition to the evening.  Before the evening was over our class presented a porcelain dinnerware set for the use of the department.

We had several group photos; and I have gone through them to see if I missed anyone from my list of those present.  I think I have missed one person, possibly more; but here is my list, using only maiden names for the women::
Cheryl Barker
Fleming "Pete" Literal
Sandy Stewart
Alma Cumston
Jim Adams
Jay Young III
Kathy McGuire
Shirley Robinson
Bill Bradley
Becky Bowling
Ardena Ellis
Wesley Robbins
Judy Groves
Virginia Smith
Horton Rice
Denver Bluegaum
Bruce Adkins
Mary Lee Arthur
Bobby Browning
Jim Taylor
Brenda Peterman
Claude Whitt
Judy Rice
Juanita Pack
Anna Mary Hicks
Roland Sturgill
Pat Deskin
Ida Ruth McGuire

Those are in order as I remembered them; but, if you notice someone from the class who was present but whom I missed, please let me know so I can add them.  Below are the two best photos, in my opinion.

Finally, I went back to my sister's house to spend the night.  The next day I visited with two old friends.  One of them was a very negative experience, again seeing a regressive, fear-based approach to life, but, in the evening, a meal with another of my BCHS friends from "back in the day" was a delight.

On Sunday afternoon I stopped at the Taylor Home, my great-great-grandfather's log cabin, which has become a museum of sort after being moved to Grayson, just to see it from the outside.  Within a  month I was able to go back there.  Perhaps I'll blog about my trip to a friend's wedding where I got to see the inside and learn more about my ancestry later.
A Few More Photos From The Night



9/11: A Day of Infamy? NO! A Day When I Knew I Was In the Minority.

I am sure I have left out many things that happened in my life and our country's during the hours and days immediately after the attacks of 9/11/2001; but I felt the need to share my thoughts and memories even though they will be incomplete.

We lived in the small town in southern Jefferson County/Louisville, Kentucky, called Ludlow.  I was the pastor of the Mount Holly United Methodist Church.  My wife, Gay, had lost her sight thirteen months before, broken her hip ten months before and was asleep in the bedroom upstairs. I actually wrote about this event shortly afterward; but I changed email addresses and ISP and, added to the  loss of computer hard drives, I only have the memory and not the record of that event and what followed now.

Our family room also contained my home office and computer which faced away from the television.  I had on the Today show; but I was facing the computer screen working on the following Sunday's worship bulletin earlier than normal when I heard something in the background about one of the World Trade Center building's having been hit by an airplane.  I must not have heard this news at first because almost immediately after I turned to face the screen following my hearing about the first airplane, I saw a second airplane hit the other World Trade Center tower! I knew immediately, as did the Today Show folk, this was no accident.

Bulletin preparation was suddenly unimportant as I sat on the couch transfixed by the images on the screen.  Before long I also heard of a downed airplane in a Pennsylvania field and an airplane having struck the Pentagon.  Assumptions were immediately made by the TV pundits; but it did not take long before we heard that all air traffic had been banned across the USA, then of a few Muslim men who had caused all of these tragedies and the loss of lives of hundreds of people.  Since Ludlow was within a few miles of a major airport the silence in the air later that day and beyond was almost palpable.

I had to go to the church office; but I tried to keep track of what was happening by going to one of the rooms in the church building with a TV but no antenna or cable connection to watch news about the event and report back to the church secretary who also did the same for me.  I learned how the fire in the World Trade Center buildings had spread, then watched (I do not remember whether it was a live broadcast or replay) the buildings fall to the ground as though being imploded.  I heard of the bravery of the first to respond to the fires and watched as people ran from the WTC buildings and from nearby locations to try to escape the cityas  a cloud of toxic smoke, ash, and dust came toward them as they tried to get away from the area.

Before Sunday morning I heard of the support our nation was getting in response to these tragedies from people around the world in virtually all, perhaps all of the countries in the world.  I saw video of people in Muslim countries holding flags of the United States of America and with signs honoring our dead and damaged citizens. I should note that most of those countries likely also lost citizens in the attacks.  For me it became a time of hope for building bridges, increasing  bonds between the nations of the world.

As time went by I learned that the world trade center was filled not only with American citizens but citizens from many more nations.  To quote my friend, Rikka Wallin, "More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center.  A total of 372 foreign nationals (excluding the 19 perpetrators) perished in the attacks, representing just over 12% of the total."

I almost immediately saw what I considered to be a crazed reaction to this tragedy in the almost unanimous desire for retribution.  American flags were suddenly scarce commodities as it seemed nearly everyone wanted one outside their home or on their clothing and patriotism eventually went to the silly extremes of renaming French Fries in the cafeteria on Capitol Hill "Freedom Fries," because the French wouldn't join us in the wars that followed.

Anyone who didn't jump on board the patriotic band wagon was labelled a traitor, or at least unpatriotic.  When Natalie Mains criticized President Bush (justifiably, in my opinion), radio stations refused to play music by the Dixie Chicks, some of them even destroying their recordings.

Seeing USA lapel flags everywhere I made a decision.  I am a citizen of the United States; but that is a tertiary position to being secondarily a citizen of the world but, as a follower of the Way of Jesus Christ, as we learn from Christian scripture in Philippians 3:20, primarily a citizen of heaven.

So, even though I knew it would likely cause offense to a lot of my friends and family, but also certainly to those who were already prepared to wage war against "the enemy," even though no one was sure exactly who the enemy was, I could not jump on the patriotic, retributive bandwagon.  After all it was citizens of Saudi Arabia who were those who staged these attacks, "..why are we planning to attack the people of Afghanistan?" I thought eventually.

I also was distressed that virtually no one wanted to be introspective about our role as a nation in creating the attitude of hatred for the people of the United States of America because of our own actions toward other nations of the world  seemingly constantly at war against some enemy or another.  So I went to my computer, downloaded a United Nations Flag, reduced it to lapel size, printed it in color, and pinned it to the lapel of my jacket and wore it for several weeks.

I wrote emails that were essentially blogs calling for peace rather than retribution, for working with the United Nations and the world community to find solutions.  I watched as the Patriot Act took away (in quite an unconstitutional manner) many of our rights as citizens, all in the name of "security."  (I should note that scripture also would say that the only security for at least Jews and Christians is the Holy One, not guns and bombs.)

And I watched as friends and family, if they didn't publicly ostracize me for not being gung-ho about attacking that perceived enemy, got very quiet.  It wasn't that I didn't believe we should be doing something to reduce the chances that more attacks would happen within our borders, it was that I wanted it to be a reasoned, sane, cooperative response of the nations of the world.

Since then I have watched as we did not start the limited police action to try to stop what we call Al Quaeda but an attack on the entire country of Afghanistan.  Then I watched as we declared an illegal, immoral war in Iraq, based on a lie.  I have watched as thousands of our military folk have been killed and thousands more have come home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and large numbers of others have committed suicide.  (More of our soldiers have committed suicide than have been killed, I read.)

We also killed thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistani citizens and created hundreds of thousands of refugees, as well as thousands of orphaned children.  We criticize the use of chemical weapons to kill children while we use drones and see dead children as a result of what we falsely call "collateral damage."

Today I believe that our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and other locations has actually increased recruitment for fanaticism within Muslim countries toward the USA.

So, when I remember 9/11/01, it is with many different feelings.  I feel sad that we didn't respond differently. I feel sorry for the families from countries around the world including my own who lost family members on that date.  I feel pride in the way the police, fire departments, and other folk including volunteers who responded to the World Trade Center fire and collapse.

I also feel as though we haven't learned much from the event itself.  We still, not just as the United States but, it seems, the majority of the nations of the world,  seem to believe that fighting with one another will produce peace rather than death and destruction. May we eventually learn.

Tonight, as many folk will be getting very "patriotic" about 9/11/01, I shall be rallying for peace in Lexington.  I believe that is the most patriotic thing I can do.


Back in the Saddle Again

I have not posted a blog since November of last year!

It was about that time I got distracted from my blog and eventually became rather depressed, though still excited about my continuing weight loss, which now includes an improvement in physical fitness as well.

I am going to make an intentional effort to change that lack of blogging beginning now, but creating something more substantial tomorrow.  I want to create something in a longer format than would generally happen on Facebook posts that is also likely going to be more personal and better researched.

There are only a few people who are signed up to receive notice I have created a new blog; but I am going to post the link to this on Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to get an answer to what some of you all would like to hear from me.

I should say, though, that our national healthcare policy (or lack thereof, too often) is a primary issue for me.

The continued decline and apparent eventual disappearance of the middle class should things continue as they have been is another thing that makes my heart race.

This week I need to add the possibility of multiple pipelines running though the Commonwealth of Kentucky carrying toxic, potentially explosive materials as a concern.

Next week a fairness ordinance will receive a vote in Frankfort Kentucky.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is up for a "fast track" vote via the Obama Administration.

Al Jazeera America is on the air; and I have watched it more than any other news the last two days.

Then there are personal things like what is going on in my own life and the lives of my family members and friends, though I generally share those little ditties on Facebook in more limited ways.

So if you read through this to the end, post a note to me on the blog or a private Facebook message telling me what you think would be a good use of my blog, please.

In the meantime, please keep at the work of creating positive progressive change whenever you can.



Today I Realized I Know a Lot About Politics

I have been a political junkie since shortly after George W. Bush and the Supreme Court stole the election from Al Gore.  I voted for Bush.  Had I failed to do so, he would still most certainly have been elected since no electoral college votes were going to go to Gore, so I don't have to feel too guilty about my vote having changed the outcome.  Within weeks of that election I already regretted my decision; and, in the process, I became almost (some folk would say I should leave out the word "almost") obsessed with what decisions were being made in our national and local political life.

The event that changed my life was 9/11/01 when Muslim SAUDI ARABIANS attacked the USA with airplanes killing nearly 3,000 people and destroying two landmarks.  Afterward then President Bush pushed us into a war with Afghanistan and its Taliban.  This despite the fact that no country has successfully fought a war in that region, except for the people of Afghanistan!  In spite of the fact that the terrorists who killed our people and damaged our emotional health as a nation were not from Afghanistan.  In spite of the fact that we couldn't even be sure that the man who claimed responsibility, Osama Bin Laden, was actually in Afghanistan.

Then the nationalistic warrior spirit (not the Spirit of the Prince of Peace whom so many Americans claim to follow) that ignored everything but vengeance, which is supposed to be God's according to those same folk who claim to follow that same Prince would also claim is in their book.  The Dixie Chicks were vilified before it was all over with for having some common sense and speaking their mind.  Muslims who previously had good relationships with their neighbors in the USA were suddenly in danger even in this place where we claim we have religious freedom.  The concept that diplomacy and/or limited action against the perpetrators themselves (including the planners) and not everyone who happened to be a right wing religious nut in Afghanistan and for whom that war became a recruiting tool for more religious nuts right up to today.

Anyone who challenged the warrior demon was called anti-American.  We even went to the point of attacking verbally our long-term allies, the French, by renaming the "French Fries" in the Capitol dining room "Freedom Fries."  That was one of the most stupid, time wasting of the many stupid, time wasting, fervor producing events of the day, too, with too many more to mention.

On top of that the American "conservatives" (which they are truly not but call themselves that) used their opportunity to continue the assault on the middle and lower classes, to enslave thousands of minorities in prison for minor offenses but making them vital tools for the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the list goes on and on because of what I consider to be the most devious and affective measures those so-called conservatives have used.  The corporate "news" media were complicit whether it was intentional or not, too, by not challenging the line of thought but just spouting it.

So today, I am looking forward to a probable victory by Barrack Hussein Obama for a second term as President of the United States.  I am following the news this morning on CBS when an event occurred I wouldn't have even noticed in 2000, but that I saw as instructional to those who don't see the ways that our thought patterns are being retrained by changing the meanings of words and phrases to mean something else entirely.

Obama surrogate Dee Dee Myers and Newt Gingrich were just on CBS this morning talking about the campaign. She did not challenge a completely false statement by Gingrich that may have won some votes for stupid people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Gingrich said that Romnmoney was concentrating in two areas where coal was a major industry and the "war on coal" was why he was there. Myers should have said something like, "Mr. Speaker, you KNOW there is NO war on coal." She sat silent instead. Myers did not say, "Mr. Speaker, what do you mean by a war on coal?"  at the very least.  Trying to keep the people of coal-producing areas and the miners themselves alive by environmental safety and mine safety is NOT a war on coal. It isn't even anti-coal for the most part. It is just plain good policy for the future of the people of that region and for the long-term continuance of humans on earth.

This is just one more example of the Republicans taking a word or concept that has one meaning and making it mean something else. Social Insur
ance becomes Entitlements, when much more money is lost and spent due to the corporations and very wealthy who almost all seem to believe that they are ENTITLED to pay less than the poor in percentages of income.  People who cannot find work and receive any kind of government assistance (even including Social Security and Medicare, more so Medicaid) are called lazy.  "Go get a job," they say while providing no jobs and blocking legislation that would provide jobs and improve the nation's infrastructure.

Teaching science and the Theory of Relativity becomes a war on religion; and we have states trying to teach religious doctrine (Creationism) as science in public schools to be "equal." (That is pure nonsense, of course. There is no such thing as creation "science." There is theology; but that isn't the same thing.)

Do you wash your hands? Then you believe in the germ theory. Just a theory, like evolution; but you believe it because it is true and because a scientist was smart enough to figure out the correlation between germs and disease.

Do you regularly fly around above the ground without an airplane or other device? That's because of the THEORY of gravity, which very few people would challenge, but still just a theory.

Choosing to treat all women equally by providing birth control as a part of their insurance coverage requirements becomes a war on religion, in spite of the fact that the majority of those whose religion believes that contraception is wrong use contraception anyway, and that the vast, vast majority of Americans believe in contraception as well.

Equal rights and responsibilities for gay people becomes a "War on Marriage."  There is even a little bit of anti-religion thrown into this mix because it is often (usually?) illegal for a church to perform a ceremony that resembles a marriage too much.  I know that was true when I was a pastor in Ohio.

So, when a major spokesperson for the Obama campaign fails to pick up on that and say something, I begin to think I have a future in TV "journalism" and a job with the next four years of the Obama presidency, in spite of the votes Myers lost with her failure to challenge Gingrich this morning.  We Progressives need to continue to learn how to utilize language change over the long haul to our own benefit.

Cuts in social welfare programs are often pro-death, anti-life actions.  

Expecting corporations and wealthy individuals to pay the same percentage of Social Security and Medicare taxes as the "underclass" is not a war on the wealthy.  It is taking away one of their entitlements.  (BTW, Social Security would be solvent in perpetuity if that one change were made in how it is funded and everyone paid that 8.5-15% (approximately) for their Social Security INSURANCE>)

The so-called pro-life people are almost always only pro-fetus, which is what I call them since they would let the baby starve to death after they're born for a day or three.  Most of them are also pro-war and don't equate our execution of innocent bystanders by drones in other countries as genocide but as "part of the cost of war."

Get out there and vote today.  But vote for someone who is, overall, making a positive long-term difference in the world and in the United States of America.  Don't let the ignorant rhetoric grab you on the way there.  Vote for the better candidate who is most likely to protect those whom Jesus talked about.  Then let the so-called Christian pro-war people learn the language of love.