Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: August 2013


Boys Will Be Boys

Boys will be boys and they need their toys.

Have you paid any attention to the rape cases at Yale University? How sad that the Religious Right and Conservative Moralists are so afraid of homosexuals, same sex marriage, abortion, and contraceptives, but they don't seem to get that vocal and political about rape.

Is it because man is supposed to be dominate and therefore the woman is to pay the greatest penalty, when illicit sex is involved?

Religion and sex trafficing

Diane,

I'm afraid to many folks are battling over who's religion will have preference in our schools and don't have time to put together joint efforts to combat sexual trafficing.

Separation of School and Church

Thank you Vickie for the account concerning Minneha school. My wife attended 7th & 8th grade at Minneha, many many years ago. That school had children from the wealthiest to the poorest. There were students who came from families that had no concept of religion and some from actively religious families. I was active in organizing a little Baptist church on Chamberlin Street. It is no longer Baptist, but the last I knew it was a Korean (I think) protestant church. Helen lived on Chamberlin and graduated from Andover H.S. Helen and I were married and living in Wichita when the lunch room sit in occured in downtown Wichita. We witnessed the gross inequities of segregated schools, businesses, and communities.

It is a shame and frustrating when people attack education programs that are purely educational and informing. I agree with you, in that too many "Christian" believers think only their history and concept of religion should be presented in the schools. It is very true that our history shows bias and favoritism. Not only for Christian history and doctrine but even allowed denominational control of some public schools. Even though our U.S. Constitution declares religious and racial equality for all, we have a miserable record of that ever having been fact for all people and in all regions.

The civil rights movement finally gained traction in the late 1950s and 1960s. Minority groups, both religious and racial/ethnic, have gained courage in demanding recognition. They have challenged the control of government entities, such as schools, by the white/Christian majority.

I am fearful that the radical bigots (religious and racial) from all sides will continue to fight one another until we become embroiled in violence and anarchism equal to Northern Ireland and the middle East. No single individual can be truly free unless all individuals are free. No one individual's rights can be protected unless all individual's rights are protected. Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Humanists, whatever you name them or yourselves must respect the freedom and rights of one another. We all bleed red blood, get hungry, get cold, and need love and companionship. Religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic level does not change those facts.

A funny thing happened on the way to the first day of school at Minneha Core Knowledge Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas.

Minneha fourth graders study the five major religions of the world (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, & Buddhism) focusing on the history and geography of the ancient civilizations that gave birth to these religions. To that end, the school personnel crafted a bulletin board explaining the Five Pillars of Islam. Keeping in mind the bulletin board was not encouraging a belief in this faith but simply educating the students about their beliefs.

The Wichita Eagle reported that a parent took a picture of the bulletin board and posted it on Facebook with the sentence, "Prepare to Take America Back."
Of course, in this viral age, the Facebook posting spread quickly across the conservative blogs with other captions exclaiming, "This is a school that banned all forms of Christian prayer...This cannot stand."

Yes, in Wichita, Kansas-the bible belt of the nation, parents don't cotton to such radical notions as learning about the history of other religions except promoting their own faith at school.

And that is exactly the point. It must have been rather shocking for some parents in the district to face the reality that a school was educating students about other religions when the expectation has been one of promoting and upholding only the Christian faith in USD-259.

Carolyn Marie Fugit, ICT S.O.S Wichita board member and secretary, is busy organizing The Race for Freedom: To Stop Human Trafficking, set for Sept. 7, 2013. This fundraising effort is the second for the rescue organization, which celebrated its second birthday in March 2013. ICT S.O.S. works to coordinate the efforts of the multiple Wichita anti-trafficking groups. Board members also want to go beyond just rescuing girls. They want to help girls who have been rescued to get through the legal process that eventually get traffickers jailed.

Fugit said ICT S.O.S. works with government and social service agencies in order to look at the "big picture" of the trafficking epidemic locally and around the country.

Just yesterday, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus issued a forceful rebuke of Kris Kobach's policy of "self-deportation:

"Using the word 'self-deportation' -- it's a horrific comment to make. I don't think it has anything to do with our party."

Are we losing ground in national politics? Tim Huelscamp and Chris Kobach have no support from their national organization of the GOP. They, along with our Governor have abandoned the rank and file of society and tied themselves to the extreme right conservative oligarchy of wealth and religious bigotry (your sins are worse than mine).

Will Kansans continue to support the bull headed refusal to cooperate with others for the benefit of all? Can we afford to alienate ourselves from the reality that everyone is not enjoying the prospertiy and freedoms of the few?

The average family income is about $50 or 60 thousand. Those taxpayers are paying a much higher percent of government funding and national health care than the "wealthy job creators". A few wealthy business entrepreneurs like the Kochs, Wallmarts, Banks, and mega sized farm operators in Kansas are being subsidized by the middle and lower income folks. We all benefit from national security, local police protection, protection of property rights, etc. Who has the most assets per capita to protect? My $1,000 hovel needs protection just as much as the $1,000,000 mansions. Should I pay a higher percentage of my real income than the millionaire?

An Open Letter To President Obama

Dear President Obama:
Your administration's defense of prayers before government meetings in an amicus brief in the court case Town of Greece v. Galloway was shocking.

It is the federal government's task and your duty as the president of the United States to uphold the separation of church and state. The majority of prayers before government meetings are largely Christian in nature and this elevates Christianity above all beliefs and gives the appearance that our government is a Christian government.

Furthermore, prayers by their very nature are a form of proselytizing since prayers promote a belief in a God and compel people to adopt this belief. Thus, invocations before governmental bodies have become convenient tools in promoting religious beliefs in the public square under the guise of religious freedom. And, prayers most certainly do denigrate non-believers at government meetings by creating an atmosphere that non-believers are outsiders.

Taxes

We just spent two months entertaining three g'grandchildren. A rewarding, frustrating, and sometime exasperating experience. One of those kids remarked about how everywhere we went someone knew me. I explained that being a senior citizen in the community I was born and raised in and that most of my adult life was involved in community activities, church, and politics was a factor. I didn't go on to explain that I was a member of a woefully minor political party and that I was not bashful around the coffee shop and other places where politics and economical issues were being discussed or debated.

This July has been the month of turkey vulture nestlings.

In late May I noticed that every time I approached the Guest House, a vulture would fly up from the sunken patio. Was there a carcass nearby? In a cubby hole under the walkway to the front door, I found a different explanation. Lying on the gravel, amidst last-year's blown-in leaves, were two giant eggs, white with tan splotches. I had seen vultures going in and out of abandoned barns, and I had assumed that they nested up high, closer to where they soar, perhaps in the rafters or the hay loft. A little research enlightened me: Vultures nest in enclosed spaces, so yes, they do use old buildings, but also hollow logs, caves, burrows under overhangs, holes in trees. The nook under the walkway definitely fit their specs.

I was alarmed by what else I learned: When the eggs hatched, the carrion-eating parents would regurgitate food for the young, leading to noticeable aromas. This would not be a quick process, either, as the nestlings would take two to three months to fledge!

Uh-oh. Eco-tourists use our Guest House to reconnect with nature. We'd be offering them nature all right, nature with a capital N. Still, how could we justify killing only to avoid the aroma of what was already dead? We, the proprietors of a wildlife refuge, were not about to destroy a nest--or lose the opportunity to observe it closely. So first, a quick announcement on the web site: The Guest House is currently unavailable for rental. Next, a trailcam, pointed at the cubby.

So began my involvement with Family Vulture. Through trailcam videos, I learned that both parents brooded the eggs and that mice, songbirds, woodrats, and squirrels could approach the nest with impunity. But when a possum ambled into the cubby, it was a different story. The adult fluffed up and glared, and the possum, being a possum, didn't notice at first--but when it finally dawned on him what was in front of him, he backed out fast! Ditto for a raccoon, who developed a sudden interest in another location once he got a load of the vulture's stare. But one night when both parents were gone, the possum came back. I assumed that that was it--the next generation would have naked tails, not naked heads--and it was all because the parents were off gallivanting when they should have been protecting the eggs. But I was wrong. The possum nosed the eggs myopically and then began grubbing in the leaf litter, where he found something interesting, pulled it up, and munched it slowly. Then he turned around three times (what was that about?), and waddled off. I breathed a sigh of relief. Threat averted, but how? I had read that vultures use projectile vomiting as a defense against predators--not to disgust them but to distract them with an easier meal. Now I wondered if the adults had left some tidbits near the eggs for that same purpose. My criticism of the parents changed to admiration.

But at the end of June, while I was at a family reunion in Wisconsin, my husband called to tell me that the eggs were no more. My heart sank. I had visions of the possum finally claiming the prize. But then Ron laughed and said the eggs were gone because they had been replaced by two fluffy chicks! He sent me photos, and I saw the cubby now graced by what looked like two balls of white cotton stuck onto big black beaks.

Since returning to Kansas, I have watched the cotton balls grow into chicken-sized birds whose feet aren't made for walking, as the youngsters lurch and teeter and stumble wherever they go. They are still covered in fluffy white down, and when left alone they huddle in the back of the alcove, like giant snowballs. But when Mom or Pop shows up, they spring to life. They jump up and down and flap their undersized wings, looking a little like penguins as they stand up tall to reach their parent's bill. The adult puts his or her mandibles around the nestling's head and then brings up predigested food. Not every item on the menu makes it into the little gullet; it's that spillage that accumulates and becomes the source of stench. However, when the parents are away, the nestlings turn the leftovers into snacks and even allay their hunger by eating the food stuck to their nestmate's chest and back. The smell thus goes as well as comes, thanks to the little odor-eaters.

Indeed, the chicks' destiny is to transform the loathsome into the benign. The pathogens that flourish in putrid flesh are killed by a vulture's digestive tract. Sacred in some ancient cultures, vultures certainly live up to their genus name Cathartes, the purifiers.

It's true that while working in the guest house I sometimes have to close the windows and turn on an air cleaner. When that happens I find myself counting the days until September or October when we can bring in the powerwashers. But in the meantime, it's not bad to be reminded that nature, which renews our spirits, is not all gorgeous sunsets and blooming flowers. In fact, "renewal" depends for its meaning on something old, past it, done for. Carrion being fed to growing chicks reminds us that all stories are connected, and that when one thing is too far gone, another is just getting started.

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This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in August 2013. These are listed from newest to oldest.

July 2013 is the previous archive and September 2013 is the next one.

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