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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
About Marriage, Part II
Marriage is defined as“a relationship between or among individuals, usually recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants” (Wikipedia).       
 
It has generally been thought to be a relationship of one male and one female, the primary purpose of which is to produce and rear children. That’s the model that has traditionally  been adopted by Western societies, although historically many other societies have allowed some form of polygamy.
 
Wikipedia also tells us, “In one form or another, marriage is found in virtually every society. The very oldest records that refer to it speak of it as an established custom. 
 
Despite attempts by anthropologists to trace its origin . . . evidence is lacking.”
 
With the advancement of gay rights and the drive to legalize same-sex marriage, Western societies, where marriage has generally been defined as a monogamous union, may well be evolving into cultures in which the definition of marriage will be expanded beyond the traditional joining of one man and one woman to include same-sex couples.
 
This year, National Public Radio (npr.org) covered the issue of same-sex marriage extensively with a number of reports, some of which were headlined as follows:
Gay Marriage Issue Looms over Colorado Race (Oct 15, 2006)
Mass Judge: Out-of-State Gay Couple Can Marry (Sep 29,2006
Gay-Marriage Advocates Regroup After Latest Defeat (Aug 2, 2006)
High Court Rulings and the Future of Gay Marriage (July 18, 2006)
New York, Georgia Courts Disallow Gay Marriage (July 6, 2006)
 
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that gay couples must be accorded the same rights as heterosexual couples and that the state legislature has six months to either grant gays the right to marry, or come up with another civil-union type system.
 
In addition, the California General Assembly became the first state legislature to approve same-sex marriages.
 
Those who oppose such unions on religious or moral grounds are often called “bigots.” But, it seems to me that bigotry is in the eye of the beholder.
 
A “bigot” is defined (by Wikipedia) as “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from their own.” The word is commonly used to denigrate those who are unwilling to change their opinion(s) even when faced (presumably) with evidence that they are incorrect.
 
My own view is that the word “bigot” has become an epithet that is used to attack people who disagree with a particular point of view, belief or value. However, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, a bigot is as a bigot does.
 
Is any person who does not agree with you (or me) a “bigot”? 
 
I think not.
 
It seems to me that what’s missing in the definition is the element of prejudice, that is, bigots are prejudiced against another, or others, for a variety of reasons, i.e., race, ethnic background, religious beliefs, education (or lack thereof), social or economic status, moral values, or almost any aspect of their ideas, attitudes or principles.
 
But, those who so easily label others as bigots are often guilty of the same conduct, that is, they themselves are bigoted against anyone who is unwilling to accept their particular point of view. As I said earlier, “a bigot is as a bigot does.”
 
The painful truth is that everyone is bigoted to some degree about some things, which is to say that they have strong opinions about certain matters and are unlikely to change them, even in the face of what others may consider proof positive that they are wrong. It’s inescapable. But, if we did not have opinions, we would be nothing more than walking marshmallows.
 
So, where does that take us in the matter of marriage?
 
Well, for one thing, the education establishment has endorsed homosexuality as a “lifestyle” and is promoting a variety of school programs and activities that are designed to teach children that homosexuality is not only acceptable, but that it is a matter of equal rights and fairness to “educate” children, some as young as the third or fourth grades, about the benefits of the
“gay lifestyle.”
 
Parents who are not paying close attention to what’s happening in the schools are likely to wake up one day and find that their children have been taught things they strongly oppose.
 
Linda Harvey, president of Mission America, writing for CSNNews.com, noted that the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Association of School Administrators have all signed on to the concept of teaching students about homosexuality. She further observed, “…the National School Boards featured a glowing article in a recent newsletter about the great benefits of ‘gay’ clubs in schools.”
 
Some 2,000 homosexual clubs have already been established in American schools. Groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have articulated a goal of establishing “clubs in as many elementary schools as possible using the rationale that these students, who they imply were probably born this way, need ‘support systems’ to avoid harassment and discrimination.”
 
Can gay and lesbian dolls in toy stores, children’s books and school teaching materials be far behind? Gay personalities and characters that are featured in media, movie and TV stories have already become commonplace.
 
Those parents, grandparents and citizens in general who overtly resist the effort to normalize gay relationships will no doubt be labeled as “bigots.” But, are they? Or are those who are pushing the “gay lifestyle” bigots for being unwilling to accept the reality that most parents want to be the judge of what their children should be taught about things that are considered to
be a personal matter of religious belief, ethics and morality? Which brings us back to the issue of same-sex marriage.
 
The drive by gays for equal treatment under the law has already led to civil union that extend most if not all the same rights and privileges to same-sex couples, even if a Constitutional amendment is adopted that defines “marriage” as one man and one woman.
 
Most of the issues in same-sex couple relationships, such as hospital visitation and health care rights, inheritance, property rights (including division of assets in dissolutions), spousal and child support, etc. have been resolved.
 
About the only thing I can see that will be different is the fact that same-sex marriages are not being religiously sanctified, although some form of marriage ceremony is being conducted by gay or sympathetic clergy.
 
As for bearing and rearing children, that’s also already happening, either by means of In Vitro Fertilization (in the case of women), surrogate birth or adoption.
 
Where we go from here, no one knows for sure, but it’s easy to predict that we will see more intense and aggressive efforts in Western societies to force the acceptance of the “gay lifestyle” and same-sex marriage on the population in general.

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 16:24 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Wednesday, January 14, 2015
About Marriage, Part I
Some interesting stats about marriage.
 
The following percentages of couples living together who were married:
·        In 1950: 78.2%
·        In 1960: 74.3%
·        In 1970: 70.5%
·        In 1980: 60.8%
·        In 1990: 56.0%
·        In 1998: 52.9%
·        In 2005: 49.7%
·        In 2012: 50.5%
 
The trend is obvious: down. The percentage of married couples has declined steadily over the past 50 years, from 78.2% to 50.5%, a decrease of some 27.7%. Not good.
 
Here are two additional facts:
·        In the 114 years from 1890 to 2004 average population per household has dropped from 4.93 to 2.61.
·        In the 10 years between 1990 and 2012, the number of unmarried couples living together increased 72%. In addition, in the 40 years between 1960 and 2000, the number of unmarried couples living together increased tenfold. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
 
As everyone knows, statistics are often a problem, particularly raw data, such as the preceding information. But, one thing for sure, marriage in America has been on the decline, sharply,
and both the number and percentage of couples living together without being married has increased significantly.
 
So, what are we to make of this?
 
Here’s what we know:
·        A smaller percentage of people who are living together are married now than at any time in the past 50 years.
·        Homes in which the father is present and plays an important role in raising the children are increasingly rare.
·        A greater percentage of Americans are divorcing.
·        Most adults still would like to be married.
·        Divorce has a major impact on both children and adults, and the American society in general.
·        As with almost every issue that become grist for public discussion these days, just about every commentary, whether political or religious, tends to oversimplify.
·        And when the issue becomes “hot” enough, thoughtful or analytical evaluation is invariably clouded by slogan driven messages.
 
That’s a long way of saying that hot topics are always far more complex than most of us realize and, for the most part, we get little or no help from our so-called leaders and the all-knowing media and pundits. That’s the case in spades with the public discussion of marriage.
 
For example, most Americans oppose polygamy, which was reported during the search for Warren Jeffs, who was wanted by the FBI for arranging polygamous marriages of underage girls. What generally failed to be reported, however, was the fact that there were an estimated 30,000 polygamists in Utah and Arizona at the time. Even the Attorney General of the state of Utah publicly acknowledged that they did not have the resources, i.e., police, prosecutors, prisons, budget, etc. to aggressively stamp out the practice, which was illegal.
 
My question about this is, “What’s the difference between polygamy and multiple individuals living together as unmarried cohabitants, say, one man with several women? That’s legal in most, if not all jurisdictions, right?
 
So, if that’s permissible, even acceptable in many circles, and if people are of age and willing, why shouldn’t they be permitted to have more than one spouse?
 
Everyone seems to more or less base their opinion about marriage on their own experience and values. Those who choose to cohabitate rather than getting married usually take the position that being married involves nothing more than a “piece of paper,” that the “piece of paper is just some sort of meaningless symbol and that, after all, it’s the fact that they are “committed” to their “partner” is what’s really important.
 
No doubt there are many such cases. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel (31 years), Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (21 years) are two notable examples.
 
What is there about a “piece of paper” that seems to scare so many people? If they’re willing to honor their relationship for 20 or 30 years by staying together, having children together and raising them together, why not honor one another by being willing to make it “legal”?
 
However, when you think about it, the concept of “legal” marriage is complicated by a lot of other factors, such as history, customs, societal values and religious beliefs. For example, there are many different forms of marriage, and the customs and culture of different societies often dictate the nature of the institution, depending on the times and the particular part of the world where they are located.
 
Following are the major types of marriage that are found in various parts of the world:
·        Polygamy: Having several wives at the same time.
·        Endogamy: The requirement to marry someone of one’s own social group, family, clan or tribe.
·        Exogamy: The requirement by law to marry someone from another geographical area, social group, family, tribe or clan.
·        Common law marriage.
·        Monogamy.
 
In addition, some new forms of marriage have appeared on the scene in recent years:
·        Same sex marriage, gay marriage, and
·        Civil unions
·        Commitment ceremonies (Commitment Certificates)
There are also a host of differing customs and beliefs in many other cultures around the world that are not mentioned when the issue of marriage is discussed. A couple of examples:
·        Arranged marriages, where the couples involved have little or no say in the matter. This may include marriage by proxy, the requirement for a dowry and a variety of other matters involved in such marriages, sexual practices or mores, etc. For example, in Japan, at one time it was common practice for young girls to be sold into servitude as prostitutes before they became eligible to marry.
·        The absolute dictatorship of the man, as in many Muslim societies, where the husband merely has to declare that he is divorcing his wife three times and the divorce becomes effective, or among certain religious or ethnic groups in India, where, for example, many women have been murdered by their husbands over disputes with the woman’s family about payment of dowries.
 
So, what does all this add up to?
 
For my part, I view marriage in America as the glue that binds our society and its institutions together. Without it, and without limiting marriage to “one man and one woman,” I believe we will further erode the fabric of our culture, to the point that it will very likely not survive.
 
Easy for me to say, I’m married. Twice, for a total of over 50 years. And, I have three children who were all born to parents who had “a piece of paper.”
 
But that’s just me. What about you?

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 16:17 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Wednesday, January 14, 2015
My New Year’s Resolutions
New Years Eve celebrations never mattered to me. We stay home and watch the festivities on T.V. as they circle the globe, go to bed early. Boring, I know. But, it’s safe and sane
and keeps us out of trouble. We stay off the roads and don’t travel.
 
So, what’s the point of this commentary, you may wonder. The point is that as each New Year rolls around, I try to focus on the future, not so much in the sense of making New Year’s Resolutions, most if not all of which I never keep, but my hopes and aspirations for the next year.
 
First and foremost, I look forward to another year of just living, spending time with my wife, our dog, and my friends and associates.   I have been blessed with a long and fruitful life,
filled with challenges and my share of hardships, I suppose. At 86-years-of-age, I am a living testimonial to the miracle of modern medicine and the talents of many fine medical
professionals, who managed to get me through various health travails on numerous occasions, some of which were quite serious.
 
Following, in no particular order, are my hopes and wishes for 2015:
 
  • That our political leaders will come to their senses and stop spending money we don’t have. We are rapidly spending ourselves into oblivion at every level: national, state, local and individual, and appear to be headed into the worst of all economic worlds, hyperinflation.
  • That people around the world can somehow stop enslaving, torturing and killing one another, for whatever reason(s). I understand that there may be compelling reasons in some instances, such as defending oneself, but man’s inhumanity toward one another has been the hallmark of civilization throughout recorded history, and unless we find a way to control our baser instincts, we may well destroy ourselves. Some people think that might be the best outcome.
  • That we have a strong economy.
  • That we can manage to elect some people to public office who are principled and honest and are willing to serve for the common good rather than how they can line their own pockets. That’s a tall order, I know, but I can at least hope.
  • That our educators will find a way to reach a generation of indifferent young people, too many of whom are ignorant and self-centered to a fault. When a young person cannot make the simplest calculations to give change to a customer, something is seriously wrong.
  • That we can somehow find a way to lift our society out of the cultural morass into which it has sunk. Through the medium of modern communication: radio, TV, the Internet and print media, we have managed to reach the point where anything goes and there are no limits, debasing too many of our young people in the process.
  • That we catch or kill the Muslim bad guys, especially ISIL, who are causing havoc in various parts of the world.
  • That all of our military come home safely to their loved ones, their friends and their communities.
  • That science will find cures for the worst diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ALS, and the host of other conditions that plague the human race.
  • That we can somehow improve the desperate conditions in which far too many of the world’s peoples are forced to live.
  • That we will have milder weather in 2015. This winter has been one of the worst in memory, causing terrible hardship. And, speaking of weather, I hope we do not have a severe earthquake in California.
  • That the techies among us will find a way to stop spam forever and catch the people who spew endless unwanted garbage messages at us.
  • That I get through another year without any serious health problems.
  • That my six grandchildren will inherit a better world than we have now.
  • That you will have the happiest, most successful and healthiest year you have ever had.
It may seem like I’m asking for a lot, but in the final analysis, you can probably sum up my hopes and aspirations in one wish, that, as beauty contestants often say,
I just want “world peace.”

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 16:12 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Predictions for the Economy in 2015
By Bill Glynn

Although the consumer sentiment in the U.S. alone appears to be on the rise, Thanksgiving and Christmas retail sales were lackluster at best and the season was carried by online sales at best.  Unemployment is down and the stock market up.  It all looks good for 2015.  But wait.  The world is uncertain due to the withdrawal of American leadership abroad.  If you think Greece caused a worldwide panic, wait until sanctions in Russia really take hold and the imminent backlash there.  Buy beltway bandits or defense stocks with a focus on cyber security -  they will do well.
 
The stock market has no reason whatsoever, given the fundamentals of the world economy, to be up so much.  This is a big bubble, so look out.  The free money flowing from governments around the world will begin to dry up; and instability, underemployment and those immigrants flooding the workforce will all wait on disposable income and job availability.  Plus, think how many college grads never entered the workforce so were not counted in unemployment.  How many people were kicked off unemployment and out of the numbers or those that quit.  Real estate is on the rise again but how long will it be propped up by low interest rates – the Feds’ free money here alone will dry up.
 
The fundamentals of the economy, world political and military instability and a host of variables make 2015 a big toss up year.  We all hope the GOP get some things done with a President likely to veto a historic amount of bills or push a hugely radical ideological agenda regardless.  The country has already been fundamentally transformed; we are already bankrupt and we are in social, moral and political bankruptcy too.  This will come home to roost.  When?  In our lifetime for sure. 
 
I look at the dozens and dozens of inflection points around the world and anyone can set off chaos while the U.S. economy looks good – that band-aid covering the scab that covers the wound is still not pretty.  And, oh, let us not forget Obamacare being fully implemented.  Something is very wrong.
Posted at 16:23 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



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