Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Attack on the 2nd Amendment?

I heard last week on a local talk radio show that a bill was introduced that would do some serious damage to the rights to own firearms without the government interfering. I researched the bill (HR-45) because I didn't think it could be as bad as the caller said. I was wrong...it is worse. I try not to be an alarmist but the bill is scary. I imagine that this type of bill is the worst nightmare of the NRA and people interested in maintaining the rights afforded us in the U.S. Constitution and The Bill of Rights.

After reading the bill, the worst parts of this bill, so far as I can determine them to be, are:
1. The Atty General is in complete control of the law, enforcement of the proposed law and changes that can be made at his discretion.
2. EVERY firearm (other than shotguns and antique collectibles) must be registered with the U.S. Govt. That means hunting rifles, target rifles like .22LR and every handgun regardless of caliber or capacity.
3. ANYONE wishing to own a firearm must have a Federal License. The application process would include providing the following to the U.S. Atty General:
A. a "passport size" photo of yourself,
B. finger prints,
C. physical address,
D. proof that the firearm will be stored "safely" (which is to be understood as unloaded) out of reach or accessibility from anyone unlicensed and not 18 years of age,
E. passing a written firearm exam,
F. Authorization for the U.S. Govt to obtain any medical records pertaining to psychological treatment or evaluations.
4. A yearly fee of $25 will be charged (expect that to increase drastically over time)
5. Private sales of firearms (which means I sell my weapon to you without governmental paperwork) is a thing of the past. Each sale will be required to go through a federally licensed dealer which will charge a fee for their role in assuring that the weapons can be traced to individuals instantly.
6. The Govt will require that information be obtained on each weapon and each individual holding a license. The info includes how many firearms are registered to individuals, who the individual purchases weapons from and the serial number of each firearm.
7. It is UNLAWFUL if you have a firearm lost or stolen and you do not report the loss or theft to the Federal Govt within 72 hours.
8. It is UNLAWFUL if you fail to report any change in address to the Federal Govt within 60 days of the move.
9. Failure to comply with any aspect of this Bill can result in a monetary fine and between TWO and TEN YEARS in prison (depending upon the severity of the infraction)
10. To assure compliance with this proposed law THE FEDERAL GOVT HAS A RIGHT TO ENTER ANY BUSINESS OR RESIDENCE THAT MANUFACTURES, STORES, SELLS, DISTRIBUTES, HOLDS FIREARMS OR FIREARM RELATED ITEMS (which means parts, ammunition, operator's manuals, etc)
11. Yearly the Atty General is to make a public report available regarding the activities of this bill. I'm not sure if this means info regarding every person who owns firearms will be made public or if it will be less specific information.

The Dem controlled Congress can pass this thing without significant Rep support and Obama will sign it since he is unashamedly against guns and private citizens owning guns. It will be interesting to follow this bill and see how it may be dropped only so they can let it piggy back some other bill and be secretively hidden in 400-500 pages of some other less-controversial bill.

It seems strange to me that humans can enter this country illegally, maintain jobs and residences, utilize our healthcare system for free, receive money and food through government entitlement programs and in some places even cast a vote with less documentation, proof of identity and residence, testing and governmental regulation than a hunting rifle can be manufactured, purchased or owned.

Should this thing pass it is the beginning of the end of civil liberties for us as we know them. By the way, I can't determine if that subtle humming sound is our Founding Fathers literally spinning in their graves or our liberty being sucked out of our lives...but it is probably both.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Have Come To A Conclusion

So last week I said that I would get back to you when I decided if the gift of homebrewed beer is just an ordinary gift or if it is spiritual. Well, I have made a decision so I am getting back to you.

OK, so leaving you hanging with that question was kind of unnecessary. The answer is: of course it is spiritual. One might ask how I know that or what bit of information lead me to that conclusion. That's easy...homebrewed beer, as discussed last week, is a spiritual gift. it is so for the same reason everything else in this world is...everything is spiritual. And for what it is worth, nothing is spiritual. Think about that for a minute...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

15 Gallons and not an ounce for me

As many of you may know, I have an excellent hobby that I have enjoyed for several years now. I make beer at home...also called, "homebrewing". I also occasionally make wine but I make way more beer than wine. I have made some relatively unusual beers like Blueberry Wheat Beer, Peach Wheat, Strawberry Pilsner and a Chocolate Stout. I have also made some very usual beers like an American Lager, Mexican Style Lager, Irish Red Ale, Brown Ale and a German Pilsner.

So many lessons of life can be learned by seeing and understanding the really cool intricacies of brewing. For example, really small changes or decisions can create major differences in the finished product. If you fail to clean a single spoon or if you allow a single bacteria to get inside the beer it can cause you to have to poor out every drop of it and start over. But you can't be scared of that...you have to branch out and be fun, adventurous and even a bit creative. You can't brew and be scared of what may go wrong...at least not if you want to have fun and enjoy the hobby. It is better to not take yourself too seriously and play to win rather than playing not to lose. See how cool that lesson is...and all from brewing beer!

There is a more specific lesson...or maybe manifestation is a better word...happening in my brewing world right now. I currently have 15 gallons fermenting. A Trappist Style Belgian Ale is in the earliest stages of yeast being hyperactive (which is a really good thing). A Strawberry Pilsner just started secondary fermentation and is really active as well thanks to the sugar in the strawberries I added two nights ago. A Mexican Lager is almost finished with secondary fermentation...the yeast has all settled at the bottom and it is ready for bottling any day now.

There are 5 gallons in each batch for a grand total of 15 gallons of beer. For those of you who don't care to do the math, that is well over 150 12-ounce bottles of beer or over 6 cases of beer. What is really cool to me is that I will probably not drink the first bottle of those brews. It seems that some people really enjoy the beer I make and as such, have requested that I make them some.

The Mex. Lager is going to a Horse Farm in North Alabama so my friends there can have something refreshing to enjoy after a long day of work and fun. The Strawberry Pilsner is what I like to call Cana Beer...as in the the location where Jesus turned water into wine. My friend Tyler is getting married next month and that beer will be served at his reception. The Trappist Style Ale is for a friend of mine that recently found out his wife is unexpectedly pregnant. It is a huge surprise as they already have 2 small kids...and she is prego with twins!!! That's enough to make anyone drink.

So anyway, I have been reflecting on how we can use our gifts to bless other people...maybe for a special event like a wedding or maybe just for a daily reminder. I have spiritual gifts and gifts that I just enjoy giving that aren't necessarily spiritual. I can't figure out which category to put the homebrewed beer in yet. When I figure it out, I will report back to you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ecclesiology and Hooters

After reading the title you may be expecting a play on words or you may be thoroughly convinced that I have lost my mind...if you weren't before now. But you should understand the title to be exactly what I mean to talk about today.

I love Buffalo Wings! I like the spice and I like the chicken. Until several months ago I firmly believed that Hooters had the best wings in town. Since I love wings and since I thought the best wings in town were at Hooters guess were I would go for a lunch once or twice per week? Right, Hooters. For what its worth, this isn't a fact that is a new revelation to my wife so erase any thoughts you may have of me sneaking off under the cover of darkness to indulge in one of my favorite lunches. In fact, Brook has often joined me for meals at Hooters...She really gets the fact that is revealed in a less than subtle way that is printed on the back of the shirts worn by the Hooters' Girls..."Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined".

So anyway, about 4 or 5 months ago I found another place in town that has bigger and better wings than Hooters and that effectively ended my lunches from Hooters. By the way, if you live in my area and wish to sample these little boned-pieces of love, affection and acceptance otherwise known as awesome buffalo wings...you can find them at On Tap. But anyway, this past Tuesday I headed toward On Tap, as the Lord intended, since Tuesday is "half off wings day" at On Tap. Unfortunately there was a wreck that prevented me from making it to On Tap so I had to turn around and find something else to do for lunch. My mouth was watering for wings so I was limited in my choices. So back to Hooters I go.

So I walk in Hooters and see a familiar face behind the bar. It is the same bartender/waitress that use to take my order. She sees me and says something like "long time, no see"...except cooler and I say hello. Her face instantly becomes serious and she says "Look!" Which seems to be a universal word when used in that way meaning, pay attention, I have to ask/tell you something. She continues, "I told my boyfriend what we talked about several times when you were in here and he didn't really think it was possible. I told him that the next time you came in I would ask you more about it and even see if we could come sometime." It was at this time that i remember having a remarkably deep conversation with her on several occasions about ecclesiology and what we were attempting to be about as a community of believers.

Like so many people, she nor her boyfriend feel welcome or at home in traditional churches but she really desires a faith community...some place where faith seems to intersect her life as well as the lives of those around her in a lasting, meaningful and relevant way. She went on to tell me that her boyfriend said he would like to try something like what we do because it sounded weird and different. I just smiled...understanding that anytime a community of faith in the Bible-belt is called weird or different it is likely a good thing. As a Hooter's Girl I imagine that she has plenty of people ask for her number so i wasn't about to go down that road...so I turned the tables on her, I mean , why stop being weird and different now? I gave her my number and told her we would love to fellowship with her and her boyfriend any time that they are ready to hangout with us. I told her the only rule we have is that we love and we insist that people belong...way before or maybe if they never believe. She smiled...understanding that we are living out exactly what she has been hungry for.

Speaking of being hungry and Hooters and Jesus...if Jesus walked the Earth today and was culturally relevant, would he say something like, "Man does not live by buffalo wings alone..."? I would like to think so.