Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Origins of Halloween

This weekend a lot of us will be dressing up and playing ghosts and goblins. I am not trying to spook anyone, but I think as believers we should know the origins of Halloween.

Here is a fact sheet we wrote about Halloween...

Origins Of Halloween

For a proper understanding of the modern American celebration on October 31st, we must look at three early celebrations that have come together to form today's Halloween.

The first of these precursors to Halloween goes all the way back to pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland to a celebration of the Druids or Celtic priests. The Celtic year began on November 1st with the festival of Samhain. On the eve of Samhain, October 31st, laughing bands of young people disguised in grotesque masks carved lanterns from turnips and carried them through the villages. It was sort of a harvest festival, and in addition, it was thought of as a festival of the dead. The druids believed it was on that night when the earth comes into closest contact with the spiritual world; and consequently ghosts, goblins and witches supposedly destroyed crops, killed farm animals and wreaked havoc on the villagers. As these spirits of the dead roamed around, villagers lighted bonfires to either drive them away or to guide the spirits of the dead back to their homes.

The second precursor to Halloween goes back to the Dark Ages in central Europe. There, the Christian church destroyed many of the temples of various pagan gods and goddesses, such as Diana and Apollo. However, this pagan worship was never completely eradicated and took on the form of witchcraft. One of the most important aspects of witchcraft is a number of celebrations each year which are called "Witches' Sabbaths." One of the highest of the Witches' Sabbaths is the High Sabbath or the Black Sabbath of Witches on October 31st. Much of the Halloween folklore of today such as black cats, broomsticks, cauldrons and spells come from the Black Sabbath.

The third precursor to Halloween goes back to the early Roman Catholic Church. The church had appointed certain days to honor each saint and basically ran out of days in the year for all their saints to have a day, so they decided to have one day to remember all the saints. They called it All Saints' Day. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III changed All Saints' Day from May 13th to November 1st, and in the year 834, Pope Gregory IV extended this celebration to the entire Roman church. This event was called Allhallowmass, and as you might suppose, there was a celebration on the evening before on October 31st, called All Hallow E'en, "all hallow" meaning all of the hallowed ones. As you might guess, the contraction of hallow and e'en is where the word Halloween is derived.

The modern custom of going door to door begging for candy while dressed in costumes called "trick or treating," goes back to the pagan new year's feast in Ireland. The spirits that were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet. At the end of the feast, villagers disguised as souls of the dead, paraded to the outskirts of the village leading the spirits away. This was done to avoid any calamities the dead might bring. Another way the villagers tried to appease the dead was to set out bowls of fruit and other treats so the spirits would partake of them and leave them in peace. Later when the belief in ghosts and goblins declined, youths dressed up as ghosts and goblins and threatened to play tricks on those who failed to be generous with treats.

The jack-o-lantern, also known as will-o-the-wisp, fox fire and corpse candle, among other things, was believed to be a wandering soul which could not find refuge in either heaven or hell because of a particularly evil deed committed in its lifetime. The Finns believed that it was the soul of a child buried in the forest. A corpse candle is said to be a small flame moving through the air in the dark and is believed by the superstitious to be an omen of the observers imminent death.

According to ancient folklore from many places, a will-o-the-wisp wanders about swamp areas, enticing victims to follow. These strange fires were also known as "foolish fire," because only a fool would follow them. Today's pumpkin face is symbolic of that mocking spirit. It is always wise to look into any customs associated with holidays and be aware of their roots.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Maine Evenly Split on Historic Marriage Vote

Latest polling from Maine show residents equally split two weeks ahead of a historic vote which will decide if marriage is redefined in that state.

Here is the story.

What's important here is not whether Mainites will vote for legitimizing homosexual marriage, but whether they will choose to redefine marriage.

In 2006 Coloradans added a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, 57-43 percent.

Medical Marijuana Law a Front for More Marijuana Use?

I love social do-gooders. Much of the time I am one myself.

But, Colorado's medical marijuana law, passed with good intentions to help chronically illl Coloradans has gone bust.

Find this story here.

In 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20 which legalized small amounts of cannabis to be used by patients under the care of a physician. The rationale- many Coloradans with serious illnesses would finally get relief with medical marijuana. Right.

Most of us knew what would eventually happen. Word would get out and the fraudulent schemes would occur. In essence, marijuana use would be legalized in Colorado. Now, the number of Coloradans claiming a need for it is soaring!

My opinion. This law needs to be repealed.

H1N1 Vaccine Shortages-How Did This Happen?

This may have been the biggest under reported story yesterday.

However you slice it, the government has botched up the H1N1 flu virus supply line.

If you missed this story, here it is...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Montana judges smack down parental rights

Montana is not Colorado but its close.

This story should chill you particularly if your a parent.

What a Montana court has done is stand on its head the right of natural parents to have sole claim on their child. Instead, there is legal precedence for third parties to make a parenting claim on a child.

This is not new news in Colorado. Colorado law allows an individual (non-parent) to petition for parental responsibilities when he or she has had physical care of the child for at least six months.

What we object to is a court determining that a non-parent's claims to parenting time trumps those of a fit natural parent...

This is a bad decision that needs to be overturned.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One of the slickest statistics to rope in are marriage stats. Our friends at the Institute for American Values have develop a new tool that we will use in our work here in Colorado....Maggie Gallagher explains more below.

How do you measure a marriage culture?

The Institute for American Values, in conjunction with the new National Center for African-American Marriage and Parenting has just released a new "Marriage Index" that for the very first time in American history creates a tool to measure the health of marriage in America.

It's a brilliant conceptual idea, long overdue. This is a GDP for marriage, a way to statistically sum up complex trends in a way that allows us to capture a core truth: Is marriage getting weaker or stronger?

The report (available at begins by asking key questions: "What helps us the most to thrive, as individuals and as a society? Money or marriage? Assets or relationships? Here's what we know: A large body of research suggests that the status of our marriages influences our well-being at least as much as the status of our finances."

So why, the report's authors ask, do we work so hard to create a consensus measure of our leading economic indicators and not our marriage indicators?

The leading economic indicators are not mere dry statistical artifacts; they are a living part of our intellectual, social, media and political culture. "These indicators are generally accepted by elites and by the broad public as both accurate and important. As a result, they matter. We read about them in publications and hear about them on TV. Policymakers and opinion shapers pay attention to them. If they are improving, we tend to rejoice. If they are declining, we tend to fret, and ask, 'What can we do?'"

But these authors point out: "There is no equivalent effort to focus on marriage. ... Consequently, policymakers and opinion leaders rarely seem to care about marriage trends, or even notice them."

Until now.

The Marriage Index is the product of a bipartisan group of scholars and leaders who selected five indicators as fundamental. What are these five?

(1) A marriage rate measure -- the proportion of adults under age 54 who are married. (The focus on younger Americans is in order to avoid conflating longer life and more widows with the decline of marriage.)

(2) A divorce measure -- the proportion of first marriages that are still intact.

(3) A marital happiness measure -- the proportion of married people who say their marriage is "very happy" (because quality matters, too).

There are also two child-centered measures:

(4) The proportion of babies who are born to married people.

(5) The proportion of all children who live with their own two married parents.

These last two are to many of us the most important. "Why devote two-fifths of a Marriage Index to children?" the authors ask. "These last two indicators concern more than just children: Fundamentally, they reflect the link between adults and children that marriage is designed to create and secure. At its essence, marriage is a social institution that, when it's working, meets social needs -- and perhaps the greatest of these needs is supporting the helpless offspring that result from the sexual union of two people."

So how are we doing on marriage? No one will be surprised to hear the answer: not well. Overall, since 1970 the combined Five Leading Marriage Indicators dropped from 76.2 percent to 60.3 percent.

But the news is not all bad. Since 2000, three of the five leading marriage indicators have actually stabilized or begun to improve: The proportion of first marriages that are intact plunged from 77 percent to under 60 percent between 1970 and 2000; it actually climbed three-tenths of a percent since 2000. The proportion of children living with their own married parents similarly ticked up half a percentage point. And the proportion of marriages that are "very happy" has been stable. We can learn to do better.

Of course, the very best scientific indicators will capture only a portion of why we really care about marriage. Maps are not roads. But that is precisely why they are useful.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Letterman and Marriage- Do the Right Thing Dave..

David Letterman has a lot to learn about being married. We all do.

Let me say first off, that I am no marriage expert and I am not judging David Letterman or his wife.

Suffice to say, perfect marriages don't exist. Marriage is often a tough relationship between two flawed people. Don't let anyone tell you that there is a perfect marriage, because short of this side of heaven, marriage is a work in progress. Even the best marriages have their moments of failure, doubts, disagreements, etc.

So what about Letterman? Here is my advice to the late night comic:

Being married is not akin to having an affair. Toss out the jokes. The loser in all of this is your young son, Harry. Be a man Mr. Letterman. Admit your mistakes and seriously repair the relationship (if she will let you) with your son's mother...

Obama and the Nobel Prize-I Have Hope!

Once again, the great thing about Obama is that he gives hope to little guys like me!

Wow, not only is our President the messiah, the great communicator, world leader, rock star and soon, to star in his own movie series but now a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

I am still not sure what he has done to garner the award, but hey, style and sizzle carry the day. Substance does not.

All of this in only 9 months in office. I cannot possibly imagine what we will accomplish with the rest of his term!

Maybe, the Norwegians got some of our stimulus monies...?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lessons for Colorado from California

Apologies to any Californians who may see this blog. I am a native Californian, but boy am I glad to only visit now not live there.

Let me just say that the bubble has burst in the Golden State. Pick your poison- wildfires, bankrupt state government, no economic growth, thousands of former homeowners, 12 percent unemployment rate, political gridlock, etc., etc. The list goes on and on.

California could become the first failed state in our nation's history. Another Obama bail-out/buy-up could be coming!

There are four lessons to be learned here in Colorado from the California implosion. Here they are:

1- The coming tax revolt. It will happen soon. Americans will rebel at some point and place and it will spread like wildfire. The Colorado lesson: Keep taxes low. Don't try and trick Coloradans by saying that new taxes are just "fairness fees."

2- The brain drain. Entrepeneurs (if any are still left) and job-creators are leaving California like rats from a sinking ship. The reason: stifling business taxes and regulations. The trickle up economic theory does not work. A poor man will never create a robust job for someone else. Colorado lesson: Create and maintain a healthy business climate with low business taxes and regulations. Remember that real jobs are created by folks who have a passion for a product and a profit motive to succeed.

3- Help the helpless and forego the clueless. I love helping the helpless and unfortunately today there are many of these folks. However, we have a growing cadre of the clueless, many of whom are well-educated but utterly dense when it comes to how life really works. Many of these folks wind up sticking to entities which advocate for issues that either don't work, are contrary to the laws of nature or are simply too expensive. Colorado lesson: The Guv and the legislature need to keep the temperature of the electorate front and center and not make public policy based on shrillness or political payoffs. Many of the clueless can be ignored.

4- Not everyone needs a handout or deserves a government solution. For years, Californians have spent public dollars creating huge entitlements and public dependencies. Now, that bill is coming due. With decreased tax revenue (see #1 and #2 above), the state government can no longer pay its bills. This is the worst conclusion-it would have been better off for families who now depend on these entitlements to have not had government support than to now cut them off. Colorado lesson: Its easy for politicians to promise goodies in exchange for votes. The problem is is that when revenue streams dry up, many families are left high and dry.

Colorado Democrats who currently rule the political roost here and many of the same proclivities of governance as their California cousins who have run that state into the ground. Let's pray that they follow a different path.

Your Tax Dollars at Work Stimulating the Economy

Before you read this let me make a couple of comments.

First, I love helping people who need help. Second, I love to see new jobs created, families prosper and Americans have most of their earned money in their wallet.

What you see below is a shame. Its a shame because of the title. This program will not create many jobs if any at well. After all, isn't that what a stimulus is supposed to do? This is nothing more than more government spending...At best, it is disingenuous.

Now, some people will get good services from private providers. But, don't call it something that it is not.

American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 Communities Putting Prevention to Work Funding Opportunity Number: CDC-RFA-DP09-912ARRA09
CFDA Number(s): 93.724 -- Prevention and Wellness--Communities Putting Prevention to Work

Executive Summary: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), signed into law February 17, 2009, is designed to stimulate economic recovery in various ways, including preserving and creating jobs and promoting economic recovery, assisting those most impacted by the recession, stabilizing State and local government budgets in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases, and strengthening the Nation’s health care infrastructure and reducing health care costs through prevention activities. The Recovery Act includes $650 million for evidence-based clinical and community-based prevention and wellness strategies that support specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates. The legislation provides an important opportunity for states, cities, rural areas, and tribes to advance public health across the lifespan and to reduce health disparities. The CDC will support intensive community approaches to chronic disease prevention and control in selected communities (urban and rural), to achieve the following prevention outcomes:

Increased levels of physical activity;
Improved nutrition (e.g. increased fruit/vegetable consumption, reduced salt and trans fats);
Decreased overweight/obesity prevalence
Decreased smoking prevalence and decreased teen smoking initiation; and
Decreased exposure to secondhand smoke.
Background: In the United States today, seven of ten deaths and the vast majority of serious illness, disability, and health care costs are caused by chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Key risk factors–lack of physical activity, poor nutrition and tobacco use–are major contributors to the nation’s leading causes of death. More than 75% of health care expenditures in the United States are spent to meet the health needs of persons with chronic conditions ( Many Americans die prematurely and suffer from diseases that could be prevented or more effectively managed.
communities in