Archive for February, 2004

Seven years for SalmonRiver.com

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

And these are seven years of commentary and issues that
shaped our lives. Seven years of reflection on current events that pleased
us or horrified us. Seven years of dedication to giving worldwide visitors
the viewpoint of an ordinary family. Seven years of hopes and dreams and
ideas that reflect those of the thousands who come annually to browse.

Now my own country’s fighter plane can shoot down my flight.

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Understandably some people are afraid to fly. The idea of many tons
of airplane actually getting up to thirty thousand feet in the air is
mind boggling. Then to nonchalantly cruise for thousands of miles through
clouds or storms or sunlight seems more like an Alice in Wonderland
adventure. But to believe that the tonnage can pinpoint a place among
thousands of acres of real estate – missing trees, lakes and buildings
– to land with a few puny donuts of rubber under it on a two hundred
foot wide strip of tarmac stretches the mind beyond trust. Yet thousands
continue to fly daily.

I booked my annual flight from Seattle to Washington DC. I have never
been afraid to fly and am still not afraid of the idea of flying. However,
somewhere along the line since September 11, 2002, a fear has been inflicted
upon me although my President encourages me to go on living as usual.
I’m supposed to be afraid of terrorists everywhere but go on as usual.

I don’t think so.

Nothing about my life is as usual any more. I’m to be suspicious of
the motives of those around me, expecting attacks? Because of federally
imposed rules my airline ticket price is doubled. Before boarding, my
person is violated. I must remove most of my outer clothes, belts, and
shoes to go through check-in or hold up the line with a hand wand check.

And if there is the slightest doubt or concern that my plane is being
hijacked, I and my co-passengers will be shot down by my own country’s
fighter planes.

I’ll admit to being more than a little apprehensive.

 

THE STATE OF THE UNION – and who’s union is it ?

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

I’ve had some time now to ruminate on President Bush’s State
of The Union speech. There were a few things that caught my attention.
The very first statement that pricked my ears, was the phrase "What
it takes for what is right". This was part of the justification for
the continuation of our occupation of Iraq. That phrase caught my attention,
because of its jingoistic style. I have heard such things before. Viet
Nam, Nicaragua, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and now Iraq. Could it be that
in spite of our surface reluctance, We really do want to make the world
into miniatures of US?

It might appear that I digress. However, later in his speech
the President mentioned straight out, that "Free Trade Unions"
were one of the tools to transforming these countries (again speaking
of the middle east, Iraq?) into modern oases of Democracy. This is just
too ludicrous. Upon examining what the right believes about unions, to
hear the President extoll unions as part of a strong democracy, makes
my skin crawl. Just how low can this man and his people go? That is answered
with the next statement that I heard.

I couldn’t believe it. That any Republican, let alone the
preeminent leader of the Republican Party should give credit to President
Clinton. Yet, right there on National Television President Bush was giving
credit and honorable mention to President Clinton. It was for his signing
of the "definition of marriage act" in 1996. At least, I think,
that’s what he said. I was so shocked that there wasn’t an epithet attached
to President Clintons name that I lost a beat and phased out for a moment.
The one question I have is: are those on the Right, so insecure over this
matter of same sex marriage, that they will hold on to the man, President
Clinton, who they truly revile. Did James Caravel hear this? The Republican
party cleaving to President Clinton?

Just about the time that I was able to collect my wits I
hear President Bush say, "cut our deficit in half in five years".
Then I realized that this man has no clue. It has taken only two years
for Him and his party to squander a budget surplus and replace it with
a national debt greater than when his father was in office. I was personally
at a loss. Just three years ago our nation was hot! Now, the dollar exchange
rate is equal to the Euro. The Euro for crying out loud. The biggest trade
policy of The European Union is the protectionist laws for European farmers.
This current deficit will drive down the value of the dollar. Then we
won’t be exporting jobs, because labor will be as cheap here as in Asia.

The other program that caught my attention was President
Bush’s prison release program. Coming from the great executioner, I thought
it more than unusual. I still can’t reconcile his past practice toward
criminals with his current attitude of "…The gates of prison open
they should lead to a better life". I am at a loss. Is this a capitulation
to the pre-electoral label of "Compassionate Conservative" or
just some fancy filler? I myself am not sure. But I find nothing about
it that strikes a chord.

Yes, this was not only a confusing "State of The Union"
speech. But, to me, there was a disconnect. A speech to justify his Iraq
war and some kissing up to the party base. The whole thing was sad. I
have also heard the the Presidents electability poll fell below 45%, behind
Senator Kerry. Is it possible the the American people could be tired of
the vengeful retro-poloticks of the Republican Party? The only thing I
see are the lies of a party of hypocrites. "Tax and spend Liberals".
"The party of fiscal responsibility". In fact, now that the
Republicans are in control we see how well they act as they hold the purse.
Not only is the Republican Party the party of "Fat Cats" but
they are using the tired method of Pork Barrel spending to cuddle with
the American People.

The President’s speech was sad. But the Republican Party
has given up. Instead of doing what is right they have rolled over and
like a puppy let anyone with some money scratch their collective tummy.

New moon rises – so does my energy level

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

The moon is our nearest celestial body – you don’t have to be told
that. The barren ball of rock circles the earth, from which it has been
observed since biological beings developed a smidgen of understanding,
so goes my reasoning. The moon’s beauty and mystique have inspired painters,
poets, musicians, and writers for at least recorded centuries.

The orbit is hardly noticed by us modern folks but if you bother to
look from time to time it appears in a different position in the sky
unlike the steady North Star. From a viewpoint in Puerto Rico or Costa
Rica it really appears misplaced. I take special notice when I travel.
In England the sky was overcast so I lost contact.

Only one side of the moon is visible from the earth accounting for
the fixed view that inspires the fanciful description of man in the
moon, making it more mysterious than ever. The ‘back’ was photographed
by Russian spacecraft in the 50’s and 60’s and by US spacecraft many
times since.

Compared to the earth our satellite is like a tennis ball next to a
basketball – that ought to give you sports folks a real visual picture
of size. The diameter is 2,160 miles, equal to the distance between
San Francisco and Cleveland as the crow flies. It spins around the earth
at an average speed of 2,300 miles an hour in about 27 and one half
days. Whew!

At the farthest point in the elliptical orbit the moon is 251,968 miles
away. At the closest point is 225,742 miles from the earth. I was priveleged
to witness that from the east coast of Costa Rica in 1992. The red-orange
ball slipping up beyond the Caribbean breakers was the most awesome
view I ever had of the moon anywhere. The full moon looks larger when
it rises anywhere, an illusion scientists have not explained satisfactorily.

The US ‘manned’ landings verified the surface as equal to a recently
plowed field but firm enough to support men, just ask the Apollo Mission
astronaughts who stepped upon it. Gravity is less there so you would
only weigh one sixth of your earth weight. Science gave us information
about how the moon affects the tides. Episodes recorded during moon
eclipses indicate peculiar disturbances among actions of wildlife.

Some religious days are set by the moon. The Christian Easter Sunday
varies from mid March to mid April depending on the moon cycle. Counting
backwards the Easter holy day is established on the first Sunday after
the first Friday after the first full moon that comes
after the spring equinox.

But that’s enough facts. Myths surrounding Roman goddess of the hunt,
Diana, and her cresent moon bow with moonbeam arrows, songs with a moon
theme and expressions like ‘once in a blue moon’ not withstanding, the
moon seasons probably have an influence on our daily lives that we find
hard to believe. I feel more energetic after the rise of the ‘new’ moon.
I can do more in my waking hours during those days than any other time.
Leaning over my oversized stomach is difficult anytime but now I can
resist overeating which makes reaching my shoestrings a little easier.

I am unashamedly crazy about the moon. Does that make me a lunatic?

Our past is our future – Look at the old

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

The year 2003 – Not as international as others have been, just ten days
in England, nevertheless – what a year that was! My trusty 1992 Ford Probe
carried me 12,140 miles during the year, about 5 times more than the average
driver’s annual mileage. And I didn’t get any speeding tickets! Age tempers
cars as well as women, you suppose?

I was appointed to the Richland City Library Board in June 2002 and in
January this year the Board. elected me to Chair the monthly meetings.
A chore I’m not suited for but served to the best of my ability.

My spreading middle prompted me to join Richland Community Center fitness
room. I did an hour on muscle building machines and a stationary rowing
machine. That worked for two months when I realized that stretches and
weight lifting I could do at home for the next 30 years without exposing
myself to disease from machine grips after nose pickers and hand sneezers.
Wasn’t difficult to rationalize out of that one!

In February I flew to Washington DC for Friends (of McNary) Conference,
attended workshops and carried a Centennial Pendleton blanket on my shoulder
or on an umbrella – a feat that earned a photo in the regional publication
of US&FW. I wrote a story for that paper as well as short articles
for the Environmental Education of WA paper.

March began the year-long celebration of the Centennial of the National
Wildlife Refuge System. A special pelican stamp was released for First
Day of Issue. I led a Pelican van parade through Pasco to the Burbank
school for a special Centennial program. I designed a cachet on which
the stamp was canceled by the US Postal Service right out at the McNary
Education Center. The regional office of US&FW sent an 8"diameter
x 3′ high time capsule container that I am working to fill for an undetermined
burial by Refuge management. Our Centennial Pendleton blanket has not
sold as well as expected.

In March I drove to Mitchell, Oregon, met Emmy (from Klamath Falls) for
a few days of viewing the Painted Hills and a fun game called Hand and
Foot, a version of Canasta I’m told. She came to Richland in May, slept
on my floor, and went with me to Judy’s cabin near White Pass. Tim entertained
her for a few hours while I was at the Refuge and described her as high
maintenance. I returned alone to the cabin in June and enjoyed the solitude.

Ten day tour in April was the highlight of the year spent in England with
Ashton. What fun seeing the old city through a teen’s eyes! She was thrilled
to pet a Queen’s horse and hold a mouser in the barn. We were awed with
Shakespeare’s Globe theater, an authentic restoration built of a thousand
oak trees according to original plans except for the addition of fire
sprinklers and electric lights. What a shame to paint those magnificent
trees to look like marble columns! We looked over London in the rain from
the top deck of a tour bus and the giant ‘ferris’ wheel. Built by
British Airways it is the world’s largest observation wheel (as of 2003).
In 1990 I went up in the then highest wheel in Vienna. From London we
went to the Roman baths, Stonehenge and Lacock, an old village used in
Harry Potter films.

Then we took the train to Southampton and were met by Dorice Agol, a Kenyan
student I knew from my first African trip at Lake Bogoria. Dorice cooked
a Kenyan meal for us. From Southampton we all went to experience medieval
times at Warwick Castle. Dorice’s photographer friend treated us to a
motorcar tour of the King’s forest and an English meal. Dorice knew more
of the geography than I and suggested we take the return train directly
to Gatwick airport instead of going via London. It did not register in
my addled brain that we should be staying overnight in London before going
to catch our homeward flight so we found ourselves at Gatwick airport
24 hours ahead of the flight. The night in the airport lounge is a separate
story.

ARC of Tri-Cities exists for the disabled and I operate a kid-sized puppet
in "Count Me In" skits at schools to help young children understand
disabilities. My Mitch, has a learning disability and my Sally has cerebral
palsy. That is only on Mondays.

In May I helped with 600 student visits at McNary NWR then went into high
gear to raise funds for the local Democratic party – letter plea, spaghetti
dinner, and yard sale. I took my ‘touch table’ of animal pelts and
bird parts to schools in Pasco and a full day in Quincy.
My own kids got together and put up a six-foot cedar security fence for
me. Tim pulled out the rotting cedar posts and wire fence the weekend
before Nancy and Jerry arrived. Dan drove in from California. Mike and
June had returned from Yellowstone Park and stopped to work on the job.
Tom and Susie came and before Saturday was over, the fence was intact.
I had a serious case of bronchitis and just sat around and watched it
happen. Mike helped me later to put a new floor and foundation under my
tin storage shed. Nancy and Tim eventually worked on a foundation on the
small gazebo.

I drove to Nancy and Jerry’s in July, left my car there and flew to St.
Louis, MO, to board a sternwheeler for a centennial celebration of National
Wildlife Refuges. That was 10 days of lazily cruising up the Mississippi
with River lore, birdwatching, and history of the National Wildlife Refuge
System. ‘Mark Twain’ and ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ came aboard for speeches.
Because I have long been interested in stamps and got the stamp club involved
at the McNary cancellation, I attended stamp shows around the state. I
joined the local club and designed the cachet for the annual local stamp
show for Sacajawea station. I led Nature Walks at the State Park for the
historic Lewis & Clark "Down the Mighty Columbia" Day. We’ll
do that event 4 more years!

A little old chicken coop disgraced my back yard and I managed to tear
that apart and get out of the way. Some of the lumber it rendered was
useful. I had a time chasing down the plastic peanuts used for the insulation.
In leveling some areas and digging post holes a wealth of rocks appeared.
Those will become yard decorations some energetic day.
On October 11, I flew to Washington DC for an annual Atheist meeting and
later toured Mount Vernon and Smithsonian Museums. The Second Saturdays
of every month I plan a special event at the Refuge. We’ve had bird banding,
retriever demonstrations, teepee building, insect studies, wildflower
walks, and lots of fun nature activities for the public. I spent 3 days
at the Salmon Festival in Leavenworth learning about kids activities to
use at my Refuge.

Grandaughter, Naomi, was married in a grand production in November. My
corsage still rests in the fridge. She and husband, Bryan with kids Katlin
and Kyle, live in Kennewick but I haven’t been able to connect with her
much since. Tim and I drove down to Grand Ronde later and after visiting
with Mike and June, we went to the Evergreen Aviation Museum for a look
at Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose. Its tailfin is wider than the wingspan
of the B-17. A wonderful museum at McMinnville, Oregon.

I worked a lot in my private back yard rearranging shrubs, rock piles
and planting bulbs. Squirrels took all the English walnuts and hazel nuts
so harvest was limited to the Black walnuts they couldn’t reach. Don’t
think those nuts are too hard to crack because the crafty rodents were
eating them before they developed. They actually ate the husks when green.
I still had a bushel of nuts left over so I shouldn’t complain.

The most exciting things I did in December was rake leaves and scrub the
kitchen carpet. Hard frequent winds brought sand into every nook and crevice
in the house during a dry and very hot summer. Warm rains came in December
and continued to the end of the year.

And that is the year that was. Each episode warrants an article of explanation
– yet to come.

Great in my humble estimation. Hope yours was as satisfactory.

Naomi Sherer

Thoughts after the shower.

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

The day of the week named after the sun is the one day that doesn’t
require my early rising to attend a meeting or some other outlandish
arrangement I made. For those commitments what gets put off at home
is cleaning.

That is disastrous in view of the ravishing winds determined to honor
government export agreements and deliver Oregon and Washington goods
to Quebec or Nova Scotia or maybe meeting a contract to fill the rift
in the Atlantic and adds to the continental shelf. The delivery in unbound
containers allows a middleman to scrape off a percentage as the product
runs amuck across treeless geography.

And that’s where my house becomes a willing repository for the misappropriated
goods. I’m really not a conspirator in this transport. But then on the
other hand I don’t keep doors and windows sealed against the pirated
fine sand. Whatever criticism I heap on this middleman I have to admit
that the pilfered product is distributed evenly over window sills, countertops,
shelves, furniture and floors. Vacuuming prevents the floor deposits
from turning to mud if a liquid unexpectedly desires to leap to the
floor instead of languishing in a proper container therefore I vacuum
occasionally, usually on Sunday morning.

Today there were dishes and pans which I handed off to General Electric.
Always nice to have a commander in my employ. Countertops and the stovetop
required gruntwork and that got my muscles all fired up and I couldn’t
stop there. So I stepped out to peruse the backyard. The garbage can
must be ready for pickup midweek and I am determined to see that I get
a full measure for the imposed refuse pickup fee. Filling the can –
a misnomer since the ‘can’ is a square plastic container on wheels –
takes time which I had today and energy which burns fat that I just
happen to have some I want to set afire.

Today I filled the ‘can’ with cones from my Douglas fir. I also have
Colorado spruce and Lodgepole pine but not yet in reproductive frenzy.
Partial branches blew off a 100 foot Cottonwood tree owned by my neighbor.
Leaves from that venerable plant and those from my own walnut trees
easily filled the ‘can’.

That being done in relatively comfortable working weather in the 40’s
– with no wind – I was reduced to relaxing and reflecting on cleaning
jobs well done. For those of you who have servants to clean up after
you, I am sorry because you may find yourselves spreading out at the
hips from too much sitting or having knee and hip problems from too
much inactivity.

Turn off the TV or put down the book and get up and walk – outdoors
or at least around the living room – stay out of the kitchen because
the refrigerator will temp you with calories of which you already have
too many loping through the body searching for a rest in accommodating
fatty cells.

Happy cleanup! On Sun day or any other.

Childhood just a collectible walk away

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Cast iron frying pans went for scrap iron in the 1940’s but a few find
their way into the collectible market. The ones my husband and I bought
at the local hardware store 55 years ago are the best pans in my kitchen
– never mind the aluminum company claims that I’m getting terrible amounts
of ferric iron unusable in my system.

Kerosene lanterns on the shelves looked a bit more modern than the
one on my Dad’s arm as I followed him to the barn on winter nights like
this one. Feeding calves and milking the cows wasn’t done without some
artificial light in a windowless barn. The wick was trimmed and the
glass globe cleaned to make the most of the feeble light. My brother
and I made fantasy shadows on the walls as the lantern swayed on a nail
from the rafter. Corners were dark and forbidding when we hunted for
the kittens that fled from our intense hugging.

A glass kerosene lamp made the kitchen seem more friendly, its graceful
globe with the beaded edge the centerpiece of the round oak table. It
lit up the card game we played before bedtime. When the heat from the
wood stove diminished it was time for bed. I haven’t found any flatirons
that doubled for footwarmers when wrapped in newspaper and placed between
the flannel sheets at the foot of our beds. Oooh how nice that felt!

Not many kitchen tools survived because they were well worn out. We
ate lots of potatoes but Mother never had time to cut into french fries,
leftovers from dinner were chopped and fried in lard in the cast iron
frying pan for breakfast. A round tin, from canned peaches, was turned
open side down and used as a chopper. Made sense to me. Mother was never
one to throw any storebought thing away.

Homemade decorations abound in the collectible shop. One that caught
my eye was a two-foot circle made with barbed wire, the kind we strung
between wooden posts to keep cattle out of the alfalfa. The arty object
was a burned drawing on elkskin stretched in the center. Great yard
ornament among the flowers! Small tables, cribs and wooden toys indicated
otherwise idle hours created necessary items. Never had any of those
when I was a kid.

Dolls graced the shelves. Most were too pretty for me to have touched
them if I could have had one. I could drag the soft rag dolls from Mother’s
worn out socks with no worries. About age ten, I had a cardboard Jane
Withers doll almost as big as me. I could change paper dresses and make
my own out of big brown paper bags. Such a toy was not long overlooked
by the mice that seemed to cohabit the house.

Of all the collectible clothes I saw there were no flour sack dresses.
Cotton mills promoted prints to flour and sugar industries to enhance
sales. As I grew into school years it took more than one fifty pound
sack to make a dress. Mother never found two sacks with the same print
so that was that. Well she could have bought two fifty pound sacks at
the same time and gotten two alike. No she couldn’t. There wasn’t enough
cream money to do that extravagant thing. Oh well, I got along fine.

Dishes on the shelves amaze me. I didn’t know people threw them away.
I eat on my peach colored Anchor Hocking bowls every day. Tableware
manufacturers encouraged cereal companies to put a dish in the boxes
to sell their product. I was excited to eat from the new pink glass
dish that came in the oatmeal box. I think some dishes were given to
promotes gasoline sales, too. Those promotions were going on in the
70’s. And now you can get forever free refills of soft drinks when you
buy a huge insulated container at some places. Neat gimmick.

As long as I kept my hands tightly clasped so as not touch my money
I enjoyed looking at items I grew up with and others that when I was
little I never knew existed.

Independent party – I don’t think so

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Politics is not a one season activity. It is an involvement
all year long, year after year, day after day.

Not so, you say. Politics is the last thing on your
mind. But is it really? May be that you aren’t thinking in terms of
governing in a conscious manner. That is not to say you are not politicing.
How is that so?

So you have an opinion about an issue, let’s say abortion.
You associate with others who express an opinion about abortion and
there may be agreement. If the other has strong arguments against the
points you make with your opinion, you will either change your first
stand or argue more fervently from your viewpoint. In continuing an
open discussion you will come to a decision.

Your decision has a direct bearing on your vote if you
care enough about who governs our country to go out and vote. If no
other issue is important to you, you will choose the candidate that
expresses your stand on abortion. Do you consider an opposing candidate
for the same office? Or do you consider party affiliation? Well you
do have the option to look at them all. And I might add, you have the
obligation.

Oops! The candidate who is against abortion wants some
other things you do not want. Find out how that candidate stands on
other issues. Who is the opponent for that office. That opponent looks
at other issues the same way you do. Now the decision is not so clear.

Regardless of the party you’ve decided where you will
cast your vote.

After the fact you see that you sometimes vote for a
Republican and sometimes for a Democrat. Because you vote for the man
or woman who believes in your favorite issue does that make you an Independent?

NO it does not.

We have a two party system – Republican and Democrat.
There is no in between. Therefore the candidate you choose will caucus
with one of those parties. Causus is a closed meeting where policy is
chosen. Policy is made across all issues – not just your favorite. If
the party who owns the presidency also dominates congress that party
will put forth laws to influence issues according to their policy.

Sincere attempts have been made to create a third party
with interesting effects. The last attempt resulted in a court appointed
president that makes us ashamed at the loss of world leadership, struggle
without jobs, and worry about grandchildren paying off the deficit.

 

 

 

Could we dream of having our own wings?

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

I visited the Evergreen Aviation Museum and Educational Institute at
McMinnville, Oregon, especially to see The Spruce Goose, the largest
wooden aircraft ever built. The longest wingspan of any airplane stretches
across the Museum with space to tuck many current aircraft in the shadow.


The Evergreen Aviation Museum was built as the permanent display place
for The Spruce Goose. Given its size, from this perspective The Spruce
Goose appears to be a model.


The eight story tail and span dwarfs the DC-3 in the foreground and
the
B-17 farther in the background.


The workhorse of WW2, the full sized B-17 has its own "little"
corner of the museum.
The width of the Spruce Goose tail is longer than the wingspan of the
B-17.

The Hughes Flying Boat was to be the biggest airplane ever built and
probably the most prodigious aviation project of all time. Only the
courage and solitary dedication of Howard Hughes and his small development
group caused this project to advance what a disgruntled U.S Senator
dubbed the "flying lumberyard" resulting in its historic flight
in November 1947.

Howard Hughes was at the controls of his "Flying Boat" during
the unannounced first and only flight at Long Beach, California, on
November 2, 1947. Flying at 80 miles per hour just 70 feet above the
water, the Spruce Goose was airborne long enough to meet the requirements
of the government contract with which it was built.

The aircraft was on display in Long Beach, California,
until 1993 when it was disassembled and brought to the EVERGREEN
AVIATION MUSEUM
, in McMinnville, Oregon.

The Captain Michael King Smith Educational Institute is dedicated
to inspire and educate,
to promote and preserve aviation history,
to honor the patriotic service of our veterans.

 

Photos by Michael T. Sherer

 

Star Trek crew had no religion?

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, was quoted in THE HUMANIST
1991, where an interviewer pointed out that the Enterprise crew seemed
to be humanistic.

Roddenberry replied: “Oh, yes. They have their
own beliefs, which are private to them, and they don’t go around discussing
them with other people. I’ve always assumed that by this time (the 24th
century) there is a belief that is common to people in Star Trek that
yes, there is something out there. There is, perhaps, something that
guides our lives but we don’t know what it is and we don’t know if
it is.”

Professors of human and religious studies in their book, “Religions
of Star Trek” made an interesting comment about Roddenberry’s statement.
I quote from their introduction: “This view of the
future – in which religious beliefs persist as a private matter yet
whose competing claims provoke no conflict — is perplexing.”

Is it perplexing because that attitude provokes
no conflict? Competing claims provoke conflict? That implies that individual
religious beliefs cause conflicts. Not if they were kept private, they
wouldn’t.
But the professors continue….

“At the very least, it suggests a view of religion
as personal and private. In modern America, where the rights and needs
of individuals have acquired a privilege virtually unkown in other cultures,
such an imagining of the future is perhaps understandable.”

Hurray for our democratic system of government!
We are allowed to imagine a world without religion. We are allowed to
expect to keep religion personal and private. Good for the USA!
But the professors continue….

“Still it flies in the face of much religious
scholarship that recognizes the strong degree to which religion is almost
always deeply implicated in social, communal, and public life.”

Notice — much religious scholarship. Religion
is almost always deeply implicated. In my opinion the implication is
on the part of the religious. Citizens should be allowed to live without
religion and the criticism that is put upon a nonbeliever.
But the professors continue….

“Shared rites and beliefs create and reflect an
understanding of how the universe is, which makes social life possible.”

Too true, better understanding of science
and the good life produced from scientific pursuits. All make for a
better social life.
But the professors continue….

“A society full of people with vastly different,
conflicting beliefs is one whose potential for dysfunction is enormous,
something that Roddenberry seems not to understand.”

Indeed? Perhaps, Mr. Roddenberry understood it all too well. Dysfunction
was long stewing within the American culture. And he believed, as I
do, that dysfunction occurred because of religion. Anyone could, and
many did, form religions under liberal American laws allowing tax exemption
without accounting for actions or funds. Very few new churches were
content to keep worship or doctrine private. New religions put their
rightousness on their sleeves and in everyone’s face. They embraced
issues that inflamed emotions. They entered politics and elected officials
to further an agenda that would force the public to follow their rules
– therefore their gods.

Mr. Roddenberry understood the dysfunction,
the frustration in the people and filled a need with science and reason
– for which the public clamored. Star Trek. What a fresh view — society
freed from the bonds of slavery of gods.