Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

On a lighter note

I was just going over my journal entries from the trip west, and was reminded of something that made me smile at the airport... a suitcase on the baggage carousel that had a sticker saying "Pick me! Pick me!"

Take a look at ourselves

Time for a change indeed was the title of an excellent post Monday at Auspicious Jots. In it she said, "We are not the religious arm of the Democratic Party.We sure do look like it far too often." In it is a heart breaking comment from someone who feels shut out of her congregation because of the overt politicizm.

I am often told I exaggerate the image of our religion as merely the chaplains of the Democratic party. Consider this story from Inside NoVa.com , "Area Dems cheer Obama"
"As Sen. Barack Obama prepared to deliver his speech accepting the Democratic party's presidential nomination Thursday night, a group of party loyals gathered to watch the speech in the social hall of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church in Manassas."..."Obama campaign signs hung on the walls inside and outside of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church on Thursday night."

I'm still committed to my congregation, though for the first time in twelve years I believe I'll skip coffee hours for the rest of the year. I don't believe I'll want to hear the conversations, nor read the crap that's sure to be pinned to the bulletin board. I might curtail my Channing Club activities, too, as I'm tiring of hearing "jokes" like "Of course I'll be there- unless Bush has us all in concentration camps by then".
*sigh* Sometimes I just feel so tired, and wonder why I bother smacking my forehead into brick walls. Sometimes I envy Robin Edgar's energy and determination, if not his judgment. Maybe ice cream will help.


UPDATE:
I have received the following statement:
"The use of our building for this event was a building rental, for which the congregation was paid in full. It was not a congregational activity. It was announced as such at the beginning of the event, was not publicized through congregational communications channels, and was communicated to the press as an event of the Prince William County Democratic Party, not an event of our congregation. We are in the habit of hosting many rental events here in our church building that help us to pay the bills and fulfill our distinctly religious mission. We also accept rental fees from Mary Kay Cosmetics, from the PW County Chamber of Commerce, local business owners, and a Yoga Studio. In fact, we make every effort to ensure that what we do here is liberal religion, not a front for liberal politics."

I feel better!




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Something's fishy

A college student and her father- both sushi fans- tried an experiment : they bought sushi at several restaurants and grocery stores, and sent samples to a lab for genetic coding to positively identify the species. They found that 8 of 14 restaurant samples, and 6 of 10 grocery store samples were not what they were being sold as: "White Tuna" that was really Mozambique Tilapia, "Red Snapper" that was really Nile Perch... fish that were dramatically cheaper than what they were being sold as.

I wish someone would do this test for fast food burgers. I'm reminded of the Simson episode where Crusty the Clown was asked if the rib sandwich being sold at the Crustyburger was really pork, and he replied, "Think more legs."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An exciting new development for the disabled

What was once science fiction is now undergoing trials, with units going on sale shortly- a powered exoskeleton that will allow paralyzed and otherwise wheelchair bound people to walk, albeit with canes. If you are or know anyone currently in a wheelchair, this footage of a paraplegic man walking to an outdoor cafe and sitting down on a regular chair will touch your heart. They said the units will initially cost $20,000- I hope the next President will allocate funds to buy them for unfortunate returning veterans.

Maybe Nixon was right

and Sammy Hagar was wrong. According to a study by the University of Michigan, people are slowing down because of the high price of gas- and fatalities are dropping dramatically.

"Over the previous 10 months, monthly fatalities declined an average of 4.2 percent compared to the previous year. Then, Sivak's data shows, fatalities dropped 22.1 percent in March and 17.9 percent in April of this year — numbers that did not show up in a recent federal report that tracked a drop in traffic deaths through the end of 2007.


The declines found by Sivak suggest that motorists reached what he calls a "tipping point" and have begun significantly changing their behavior — altering not only how much they drive, but where, when and how they drive. Sivak said early data for May and June show similar trends.

"There is something more than just the reduction in driving that has to be brought in as an explanation for the huge drop in fatalities," Sivak said."

"Sivak predicts that highway deaths this year will drop below 37,000 for the first time since 1961 if the March and April trends continue. The government motor vehicle death count for 1961 totaled 36,285. The number of highway deaths peaked in 1972 at 55,600, then generally declined over the next two decades. For the past several years, the number has hovered above 42,000 a year."

"It's really very interesting that with all these efforts that have gone into building safer highways, safer cars, better enforcement ... this really dramatic change we're seeing is due to economics, to the price of gasoline," said Paul Fischbeck, director of Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation at Carnegie Mellon University"

Come on, Sammy- leave your Ferrari in third gear.

I am frequently asked how I can always be so optimistic

Three times in the last three weeks alone, and by family members- which was a large part of the inspiration for this post. I've been called "Pollyanna" and "dreamer" more times than I can count, but they are wrong; I can recognize evil when I see it. But still, I believe in Man. I believe because I'm a realist.

That statement makes many a jaw drop. I am often told that "reality" is that Man is part of nature, red of tooth and claw, and has the reddest teeth and claws of them all. Just look at the news, I'm told. But the "news" is not reality- it is sensationalism designed to sell a product- that is reality.

I have often touted Robert Heinlein's This I Believe . Here are some quotes:

"I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime, yet for every criminal there are 10,000 honest decent kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up, business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news; it is buried in the obituaries --but it is a force stronger than crime."

"I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses...in the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land."

"I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones."

"I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies."


But those words were written more than fifty years ago, and he wasn't a young man when he wrote them, I'm told- things are different today. Are they really? Consider this story , "Girl, 11, Finds $1,000 Floating in Ocean" The incident: "While swimming in the surf in Ocean City, Md., Rowan Short of Brandywine Hundred found a Ziploc bag containing two credit cards, a Pennsylvania driver's license and more than $1,000 cash." What happened? "Her mom used a cell phone to call 411, got the number of the driver named on the license, and placed a call to Elaine and Michael Chosky in Pittsburgh." They went out of their way to return it.

Of course there are a few people like that, but what would most people do? Reader's Digest decided to find out. They designed a test : they "lost" wallets- "In each we put a name, local address and phone number, family pictures, receipts -- and $50 in cash.

We dropped 120 wallets -- ten each in three large cities, three major suburban areas, three medium cities and three small towns. We left them in parking lots, malls, bus stops and on sidewalks. Then we waited to see what would happen. To each person who returned the wallet, we offered the $50 as a reward.

This was no rigorous scientific study but rather a real-life test of integrity. Would people in small towns return the wallets more often than those in big cities? Old folks more than young? Women more than men?"

The results? In one of those cities, Moncton N.B., all ten of the wallets were returned intact- and one of the honest men was a lawyer! (Paging Diogenes) People from all walks of life went out of their way to return the wallets- even homeless people and poor people with families who needed the money. Two thirds of the wallets were returned intact. When the test was repeated in America, the results were the same. In Europe, the numbers dropped, but were still more than half- and two Scandinavian cities hit 100% They repeated the tests with cell phones and got the same results. Even the 68% honesty rating reported is low in one respect: "Even those who kept the wallets still had a conscience, judging by the furtive glances and the attempts at concealment many of them made as they left the scene." They knew right and wrong; they were simply weak. I'd wager, from incidents I've seen, that if the empathy quotient had been raised- say someone crying and obviously looking for the wallet or phone- 90% would have been returned.

I'm not blind to evil; I just put it in perspective. Humankind is decent and good. Evil- even the petty evils- are the aberration, not the norm. I do not confuse results with motivations. I know it's conventional wisdom in the UU blogs that Bush is evil, but he's not; he's simply wrong. I believe that our current Presidential choices are between good and better, not good and bad. I believe in Abraham Lincoln's words, "If you tell the people the truth, they'll do the right thing." I believe that with every passing year of the information age, more and more people will become aware of more and more truths, and do more right things. I believe that a golden age of Man is no longer a pie in the sky, nor even the dreams of our grandchildren, but within the grasp of today's children, if they will but reach for it.

Go ahead and call me Pollyanna. I'm comfortable in that role.



Monday, August 25, 2008

I, too, am becoming concerned

Catching up on blogs after my return from Port Townsend, I was impressed by this excellent post from "Celestial Lands" entitled "I'm beginning to become concerned". His concerns were sparked by this video:


It bothers me, too. It is an example of the quote I have referenced before: "there is a God shaped hole in the human heart that must be filled with something". I don't mean that people are sacrificing small animals to Senator Obama, but many are placing levels of hope and faith in him that are usually reserved for Gods, not mortals- you can actually see tears and hear choked up voices when some people speak of him.

The supplication at the end of the video, "When you get to the top, don't forget about me", carries the whiff of a threat when you consider that no President can deliver the kinds of changes that Obama's supporters are talking about. Consider the issues:

IRAQ. Experts agree that if we just pull out next January, there will be civil war and purges to rival the killing fields of Southeast Asia- that assessment has a stronger consensus than Global Warming. That is why the Democratic congress has kept funding the war despite their pre-election rhetoric. President Obama is not going to leave as his legacy a mass slaughter; hence, we will remain in Iraq until a viable government is in place. Optimistic experts say that will be 18 months to two years; many say three to five years. Not even the management of the war will change dramatically; even Haliburton will retain their no-bid contracts. Bush hired them for the same reason Clinton did for his Bosnian war; they were the only company with the manpower and expertise extant, and still are.

GAS PRICES. No matter who the President is, gasoline prices will be driven by the market, and will go up and down as supply and demand drives them. The demands of China, India, and the rest of the developing world are going nowhere but up. Alternative fuels? The Department of Energy was created to find them, and thirty years and tens of billions of dollars later there still isn't a viable alternative- President Obama isn't going to change that in four or even eight years.

ENERGY POLICY. Nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind power are all opposed bitterly by environmentalists and animal rights activists- core constituents of the Democratic party. (however, in a truly bipartisan effort, Kennedy and Romney worked hard to kill the offshore wind farms in New England) The next President will be forced eventually to ok drilling offshore and in ANWAR- forget gasoline, we need five million barrels of oil a day just for the plastic and chemical industries.

GLOBAL WARMING. President Obama will not get the Kyoto Protocols ratified; when President Clinton tried, the Senate voted 95-0 against it. As long as the world's largest producer of greenhouse gasses- China- refuses to sign on, we won't either.

THE ECONOMY. Let me sum it up this way: the primary reason why Congress' popularity polls are down in the single digits is the economy. Don't you think that if there was any way to improve it quickly, they would do so? Do you think they like being unpopular?

Obama's supporters believe, with a truly religious fervor, in changes that no mere President can deliver. I hope his charisma can carry them when reality sets in; I fear for public order if it doesn't. David was right to quote Frank Herbert:
Here lies a toppled God.
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A Narrow and a Tall one.


Friday, August 22, 2008

More pictures from the Kitsap Peninsula

Here is the view down the street in front of the house we're staying at.

Although you can see the bay from there, the direct line goes to Downtown, so we went North to the beach. Though normally P.T. residents aren't all that fond of Californians, they apparently have learned things from them, as evidenced by this surfer.


Looking of to the East, we could see Mt. Baker and the N. American continent proper.
Off to to the west beyond this point, but concealed by mist on the horizon, is Japan.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blogging luncheon in Port Townsend

We're still here in the Great North West, but we took a break from family and touristy things to meet with a fellow blogger. We met at the ferry dock, which is a pretty straight shot down 12th from our house.You can just see the bay between the trees at the bottom of the hill.


This hill is every bit as long and steep as it appears, and it seems to be the primary source of income for Port Townsend- it has a 25MPH speed limit, enforced. This means you must either pay tickets or replace your brakes regularly, and either way PT wins.

We got to the docks without getting a ticket, (who cares about the brakes? It's a rental), and immediately found Nemo!


Unfortunately, it was not Nemo we were looking for, but Ms. Kitty . Fortunately, she found me- which is actually a bit scary, as the only photo she had was the one from the top of the blog!

Ginger and I took Ms. Kitty to this little bistro we had found a few days ago when we got lost looking for the post office. Ms. K is in the middle:



(The photo doesn't do Ms. Kitty justice, by the way- it doesn't convey her laugh, or contagious cheer) In the next 105 minutes we very nearly decided who the next Presidents of the UUA and USA should be, almost figured out guidelines for congregations taking political stands, and came that close to settling on a way to get cats to stop playing critter hockey in the living room. A few last anecdotes and we had to get her back to the ferry home. Too short, too short... perhaps we'll meet again in Salt Lake City next year!




Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our vacation began not with a bang...

but a quimper. Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship , that is. Our first full non-traveling day began with Sunday services at what I think of as "The church my mother in law built", though I do admit that she had help. I found out why she thinks so highly of Rev. Bruce Bode- he thinks clearly and speaks well. (So far I can report 100% good experiences with UU ministers named Bruce)

Rev. Bodes' sermon, "Religious Liberalism and Political Liberalism" was tremendous, and will be the subject of a post here as soon as it's transcribed on their website. (I try not to quote from memory, preferring more reliable sources) I will say that I think it's the first time I've ever heard it said from the pulpit that its possible to come to conservative conclusions from UU principles.

There's another UU congregation out here, whose minister all of you know and love. Ginger and I will be having lunch with her in a couple days.

This is my 300th post!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Egrets? I've had a few


And this one took me to Seattle. His name is stretch, and he flies for Frontier Airlines. I'm here in the upper left corner of the country to visit family, a couple UU churches, and a fellow blogger. Updates as events warrant.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Can anyone identify this medal?


My father was a WWII Veteran, serving first as a civilian employee of the Army Air Corps, then as a member of the Merchant Marine- that being the only service that could get him into the thick of things. (as a polio survivor, he was 4-F) He also had a commission as Ensign in the U.S. Navy, as a radio expert. But he never told us much of what he did in the war. Stories about shipmates, life in England, etc., but very little else. Going over his effects, however, we have found that his service was far more interesting than he ever let on- some of it still classified; we are going to have to file a Freedom Of Information Act paper. Anyway, this decoration was also amongst his stuff, and is the only one we can't identify. Do any of you veterans recognise it?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thoughts about "Freedom From Religion"

This is obviously inspired by my previous post, and a comment that seemed to imply that the "wall of separation" between church and state makes even military chaplains unconstitutional. No one can read the words of the founders and honestly say that the intent of the First Amendment was to drive religion that far out of public affairs. If that were the case, then government documents using such phrases as "the Laws of Nature and of nature's God", "Endowed by their Creator", "Supreme Judge of the world", "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence", "do ordain and establish", and "In the Year of our Lord" would be unconstitutional... rendering the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself unconstitutional! Clearly, the intent was to prevent the government from favoring one religion over another, not to deny their existence.

My complaint goes beyond a silly lawsuit, however; I have a problem with the attitude behind it. I have a problem with people who believe that the only permissible public expression of religion is contempt for it. I have a problem with the mindset that led a popular author to say "Molesting the children wasn't as harmful as raising them Catholic in the first place." My distaste for such vitriolic, militant atheism is such that I will make an equally controversial statement: To truly achieve freedom from religion, you must give up part of your humanity as well.

I mean that literally. What C.S. Lewis said poetically- there is a God shaped hole in the human heart that must be filled with something- is now being said by biologists as well. Anthropologists long knew it; the religious drive is older than Homo Sapiens Sapiens- Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man left evidence of religious rituals, and there is reason to believe that even earlier predecessors did too. We know now that when you say "Give me that old time religion" you are talking at least 100,000 years old.

The militant atheists say that humanity has outgrown the need for religion. Maybe so. But human beings have not. Each of us is born just as clueless as the early hominids, and has to learn for ourselves the lessons of joy and pain, love and loss, the reality of death, and what it means to be human. The first time our hearts are broken, it's as if all those millennia had never passed, because it's the first time in our universe. Our innate sense of religion is the only way we can make sense of all of it.


The only reason anyone can deny this is that western society defines "religion" only in terms of God, and a fairly narrow definition of God at that. If one defines "religion" as "an irrational devotion to something outside one's self", then all sane people are religious. And yes, Secular Humanists, I'm saying your devotion to "Humankind" or "Society" is every bit as irrational as devotion to God. There is no non-emotional, logical case to be made for it.


How can I say that? Example: give me three solid, rational reasons why I shouldn't go through life simply taking what I want. Note: the argument "because if everybody did that, society would collapse, and you'd be hurt too" won't fly for at least three reasons- first, that's also an argument for eugenics and sterilizing homosexuals and "defectives"; second, we both know everybody wouldn't do that. Lots of people genuinely enjoy raising crops and raising kids and building things- there will always be plenty of sheep; why shouldn't I walk like a wolf among them? Third, even if society could collapse, it's too big to collapse within my lifetime- if this life is all I'll ever have, why not make the most of it?

In all the decades I've asked that question, no one has ever given me an argument that didn't boil down to an appeal to a higher power, by whatever name. When a Dawkins denounces religion, all he's really saying is "My irrational devotion to an abstract concept is superior to yours"- the same as any other religious zealot. Humanity cannot be ruled by logic; logic depends upon base assumptions that cannot themselves be proven by logic. Thus the "God shaped hole". I've found something that fits mine; if you don't like it, find your own- don't try to deny the validity of mine.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Update: Religion allowed in VA care, court rules

"MADISON —Taxpayers cannot sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for incorporating religion into its health care programs for the nation’s veterans, an appeals court has ruled. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and three of its members have no legal standing to bring the case." So begins this story from the greenbay pressgazette.com.

"Annie Laurie Gaylor, the group’s co-president, criticized the ruling but said an appeal to the Supreme Court was unlikely. She said the group would look for VA patients who object to their treatment to be potential plaintiffs but said such a case would still be difficult to win.“The courts are moving to the position where government can fund religious activities and endorse religion without restraint,” she said. “It’s really very disturbing.”

Normally I would go along with a separation of church and state suit, but this time I think the FFRF is out of line. Way out of line. This isn't about telling school children to pray to Jesus, or teaching creationism or some such. This is about veterans. In the hospital. No way I'm going to tell people who put their bodies between me and harm's way that they can't have whatever solace they can get from whatever they worship. If they're laying there in pain, perhaps terminally ill, they can have my tax dollars for a chaplain or faith-based counseling. They've earned it.

Good news on gay marriage

A minor controversy is swirling in Salt Lake City. According to The Salt Lake Tribune , a wedding announcement published by a suburban paper, The Herald-Journal for a lesbian couple has generated "...two letters to the editor (one for and one against), 10 e-mails, several phone calls and four subscription cancellations over publication of the announcement." Additionally, "A Friday letter to the editor denouncing the ad drew about 160 pro and con comments on the paper's Web site by late Monday."

Why is this good news? Because it's a minor controversy. Just a few years ago, in almost any city in North America, the response would have been reminiscent of the scene in Young Frankenstein, right after the line, "A riot is an ugly thing. I think it's about time we had one." This poll the Herald-Journal links to, "You Decide should gays be allowed to marry" run by KQED, is currently at 59% yes, 41% no- in Utah!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Is green U.S. mass transit a big myth?

Is the question raised by Brad Templeton in an article using data from the US Departments of Energy and Transportation. The answer- depending on where you are, of course- is sometimes yes!

He is not arguing against using existing mass transit systems, but for considering the numbers for future construction. In many instances, it may be better to encourage responsible personal transportation. I have long thought this, and my recent trips to Europe confirmed it- the problem is not whether one drives, but what and how.
CC's SmartCar would be at least a mid-size car in many European cities. In Italy I saw many, many vehicles I would call a "crossover" type; not a cross between a car and an SUV, as we would use the word here, but rather a cross between a faired scooter and a single seat car- like this one Some of them even had cute little pickup beds for delivery duties. Most all of them got northwards of 50 MPG, often quite a ways north; 60-80 MPG for some. None of them would be legal here.


Why? Because it's claimed they aren't safe- and yet, the accident injury and death rates are no higher there than here. Why? Because these are town cars; they are driven where geography and traffic conditions are such that you aren't going fast enough to have a high-impact accident. They don't have to be able to survive a 60 MPH accident with a Cadillac because the average accident would be 20 MPH with a pedestrian or another scooter- and even those accidents are less likely because such lightweight vehicles stop faster and maneuver better.

We have special licenses for Ultralight and Sports airplanes, as long as they don't try to mix it up at the big boy airports. We have special licenses for scooters and mopeds, as long as you don't try to take them on the highways. But we have no such provisions to allow micro-cars. Here in Indiana one town passed an ordinance permitting people to take their electric golf carts on city streets to the corner store, and the State Police swooped in and busted everybody, saying that only the State and Feds could make laws about cars. An appeal is pending, but there is little chance of them prevailing. In today's environment, this makes no sense.

We need a national law to provide for micro-sized town cars. For millions of Americans, a four-wheeled scooter would do us for getting to work and the store- 90% of our travel. This would also make electric vehicles practical overnight; without carrying those 5MPH bumpers, airbags, steel I beams, etc., they would be light enough for existing technologies to be competitive- as in the golf carts mentioned above. Downtown parking? I saw Italians comfortably parking three of them sideways in a single standard parking place, or one "regular" small car and one micro-car . For that odd long distance trip, you can rent a larger car- you'll still come out way ahead in the long run. Would Americans buy such cars? Notice that during the muscle-car years before the gas crisis, the Volkswagen Beetle was a best seller.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Some thoughts on the TVUUC tragedy

I have held off commenting on this because I believe that usually our reactions to tragedies are more deserving of study than the actual occurrence, and I wanted to see what those reactions would be.

Many bloggers are concentrating on the words of Hannity, O'Reilly, et al, because the shooter possessed their books and hated liberals. I am tempted to say Pot, Kettle, Black; were President Bush to be assassinated, there would be bloggers appearing in UUpdates who would have cause to hang their heads- but I would be as wrong as the bloggers mentioned above are, because that's not the issue. Rev. Sinkford got it right; "This crime was the action of one man who clearly must have lost the battle with his personal demons." It's not possible to couch one's words such that a tortured soul could not find a call to violence in them- look what South American terrorists made of Liberation Theology; Hell, look what Charles Manson made of Beatle music!

Nor is gun control the issue. This man didn't use an assault rifle, or a cheap handgun; he used the one firearm responsible gun control advocates cite as an example of the guns they're NOT trying to take away- a garden variety shotgun. True, this crime could have been prevented if ALL firearms were eliminated. And all sexually transmitted disease could be wiped out if everyone remained virgin 'til marriage, and faithful thereafter- which would actually save more lives than the elimination of civilian owned firearms. Let me know how that works out for you.

Despite my diversions into pop culture and politics, I call myself a UU blogger- I was looking for religious responses from my colleagues; things like how to deal with the emotions evoked, and how to deal with and prevent such incidents in the future. There have been some, and good ones: on dealing with it on the spot, Reflections Following the Knoxville Shootings: I've Never Been So Proud ; on how the rest of us can deal with it, Ten Ways to take Action Following the Tragedy in Knoxville . The "Ten Ways" list has excellent suggestions for maintaining and strengthening our commitments, but only the last on the list deals specifically with preventing future incidents- I would like to add a few:

1. We should call for mandatory counseling for anyone who has a restraining order sworn against them. The court would (or should) not have issued the order without proof of impulse control issues; if they have these issues, they should be dealt with. Worse come to worst, the counselor may well be able to warn the authorities that the subject was losing it.

2. We should debate and develop ethical standards for the use of force, both to teach in R.E., and to publicly promulgate. And don't give me any pacifist there-is-never-any-excuse-for-violence nonsense, either- what would have happened in Knoxville had congregates not attacked the shooter, even breaking his arm? He did have another 76 rounds on him...

3. How about working with teachers, leaders of other churches, and the public to develop ethics and morality classes that can be taught in public schools? This has always been a thorny issue, but possibly the most important one we could tackle. No doubt there will never be agreement on sexual issues, but couldn't we find agreement on the violence issue with most people?