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Ethics, morality and faith: What's in it for me?


Fri, May 1st, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Matthew 16: 26 "What kind of a deal is it to get everything you want, but lose yourself?" The Message (paraphrase) "What will it profit a person to gain the whole world, but lose their soul?" NRSV Bible

So many recent news stories are about people who are willing to do anything necessary to get wealth. They seem to operative entirely by the above phrase, "What's in it for me?" and never care about the awful effects on other people, perhaps millions, who end up with nothing. Others are willing to step on somebody's head to raise themselves one rung up the ladder.

There are many interpretations of what is meant by the term "original sin." To me, the definition that makes the most sense is that we are cursed with inborn greed/selfishness. Other terms for this trait are: avarice, covetousness, and mammon. Whether greed is for possessions of things, or for money and the things it can buy: power, fame, position, beauty..... greed is a strong motivation. Even a baby, innocent of many traditional sins, is intensely greedy---wanting only what it desires, right now.

Looking at the Bible, the first story after creation is about greed, Adam and Eve coveting for the themselves God's knowledge. Then we have Cain killing Abel, envious of Abel's approval from God, Jacob tricking Esau for his inheritance and blessing, David's greed for another man's wife; the stories go on and on. In the New Testament there is the sad story of the rich young man, who could not give up his wealth to follow Jesus. Beyond the Bible, world literature also acts to confirm my interpretation.

Looking at the opposite of greed, we see the supreme act of generosity, God's giving of his son, and Jesus' teachings about giving to the point of sacrifice. The story of the widow's gift of two mites (pennies), all she had to live on, was held up as an example of unselfish giving. The practices of generosity, charity, and responsibility for those who have less are not just Christian, they are ethical teachings of other faiths, and of those who strive to be and do good from a sense of morality.

The question is how to teach from childhood the joy of giving as opposed to what could be a very human tendency toward selfishness and greed. It needs to start young. In a world where we, even with our current economic problems, belong to the "haves," learning to act counter to greed is one way to point toward a just, peaceful future where everyone has enough, and no one has t .....
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One moment, please...

Fri, Apr 24th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



Every time we turn on the TV, we witness another floodgate of jobs lost and reports of real estate dropping in value.

The latest blow, locally, came with the announcement of TRW Automotive laying off another round of their workforce ..... 
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Can Congress cope with the communications age?

Fri, Apr 24th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



When I first came to Congress in the 1960s, dialogue between members of Congress and their constituents was straightforward. Every so often, a lawmaker would get interviewed on radio or television. Many sent monthly newsletters to the folks ..... 
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One moment, please...

Fri, Apr 17th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Growing up in Rochester quite a number of years ago, I didn't recall Lanesboro having the reputation for being a tourist destination the way it does now. My memory is slipping, but it seems that has evolved in the past couple decades to something qu ..... 
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Even in an economic crisis, follow the money

Sat, Apr 11th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Recently, Newsweek looked at Federal Election Commission records and made an intriguing discovery. The political action committees of five major recipients of federal bank bailout money, it found, made some $85,000 in campaign contributions in Janua ..... 
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History rewritten

Fri, Apr 10th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

I'd like to pretend that nothing interesting happened in the world prior to my entrance but there is evidence to the contrary. I can argue, however, that there was no color at all- I've seen the photos.

Being born just after WWII, my public ..... 
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One moment, please...

Fri, Apr 10th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

By a show of hands, who actually likes receiving junk mail and e-mail spam?

Okay, that was supposed to be a rhetorical question. No hands were supposed to go up. I guess there is a fetish for everything, including indignant and fraudulant ma ..... 
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Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas

Fri, Apr 10th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



On March 19, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released the first ever comprehensive report on bird populations in the United States, showing that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significa ..... 
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One moment, please...

Fri, Apr 3rd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

There were lots of interesting things going on in the news this past week.

Impeached former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (careful how you say that - your kids might be within earshot), and his plentiful head of hair, were indicted on 16 ..... 
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