- Monday, 23 September 2019
- Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
Publisher’s Note: There’s always something to do in Cumberland County! This past week was a perfect example of the diverse activities that are happening. We have theatres, festivals, car shows and even events celebrating the accomplishments of service organizations in our community. The Vision Resource Center, over the weekend, brought the community together in Downtown Fayetteville to thank them for their support and to raise money for the continuation of their relentless service to our blind and sight-impaired population. This kind of activity is popping up all over the county. I am yielding my space to Earl Vaughan, Jr. who has discovered an emerging cultural organization in Hope Mills. Their projects are aimed at enhancing the arts and cultural awareness in Hope Mills as well as the quality of life for its citizens. Without a doubt, Hope Mills ROCKS! Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
It could be said that the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council is off to a rocky start. Fortunately, it’s in a positive way.
The newly created arts council recently got the help of a couple of local Girl Scout troops to introduce itself to the Hope Mills area and recruit more artists and volunteers to grow the organization.
This past weekend, the council held a rock-painting event to create miniature works of art that will be given away at the upcoming Ole Mill Days at Hope Mills Municipal Park.
“We were trying to come up with something we could do to announce our presence and be a small part of Ole Mill Days,’’ said Elizabeth Blevins, executive director of the council and a contributing writer to Up & Coming Weekly.
“We have a small budget so we invited Girl Scout troops to come paint rocks,’’ Blevins said. “Painting them and hiding them in parks is a big thing at the moment.’’
The arts council provided the Girl Scouts from troops 1147 and 2147 the rocks and the paint to create the miniature art works.
Blevins said the council has also teamed up with other civic organizations that will work with the members of the arts council the night before Ole Mill Days on Saturday, Oct. 5 and hide the rocks around Municipal Park on Rockfish Road where most of the Ole Mill Days activities will be held.
“They will be able to find the rocks and this will let them know we are there,’’ Blevins said.
The public is welcome to keep the rocks or hide them again for someone else to find at a future date.
Blevins said one of the rocks she’ll be hiding was one she and her husband Jim found during a recent visit to Calabash. “Sometimes it’s about moving them from place to place, the joy of having found them and being able to distribute them,’’ she said.
For further information on the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council, visit its Facebook page of the same name. The staff is working on a website and will provide the name of it on the Facebook page as soon as it’s available.
“We are always excited to hear from artists, musicians, performers, volunteers and people who just want to be involved,’’ Blevins said.
To contact the group directly, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Blevins at 910-853-4539.
- Monday, 16 September 2019
- Written by Karl Merritt
Over the past week, I received comments from three readers regarding two of my recent columns. They raised questions and challenges that some other readers likely share. Consequently, I will respond in this column.
The first two emails addressed my column titled “When the selfish quest for power alienates reason.” One reader countered my positive comments regarding President Trump by contending that no president has been more corrupt and fundamentally evil than Trump. He stated that the president has no interest in religion. Apparently, in support of that argument, he assesses Trump as publically reading Scripture in a fashion that shows lack of familiarity with the Bible. Then comes the conclusion that Trump’s behavior is abhorrent to all who believe. In light of my being Christian, he then wants to know why I support the president. That question is followed by him accusing me of “unrelenting allegiance” to the Republican Party. On the last statement, I am registered as unaffiliated.
Like the first respondent, the second reads my column frequently and often gives feedback by email. In the case of this column, he reiterated, correctly, that I spend a substantial amount of ink challenging the conduct and policy positions of Democrats. He says I favor Republicans, and that doing so is unfair and unproductive. This reader also argues that my thinking and policy positions conflict with the will of God and the call of Scripture. My support of Trump troubles him, too.
Then there was an email sent to the Up & Coming Weekly editor by a lady who identified herself as being black and a veteran. The text of that email was addressed to me and commented in response to my column titled “Leonard Pitts, Jr. assigns honorary whiteness.” She opened by stating that she had no idea that there were still black men in America as clueless as me. After commending my call for decision-making through thoughtful assessment of facts, she states that I fail to see the truth when it comes to accurately assessing Trump.
She says these are some of the truths I am missing with regard to Trump: He is only for rich, white, straight men. He does not care about people in America who are any shade of brown. He raped the school lunch healthy eating initiatives for schools (majority black/brown) that have lower-income children. He gives veterans anything they want, and most of them are white. His moral compass is nonexistent, and he encourages and incites hateful acts on people of color.
A bit later, she excoriates me for trusting Dr. Ben Carson’s contention that Trump is not a racist. In closing, the writer says that I am not addressing the issues that affect people, not being a voice for those who need one because Up & Coming Weekly does not allow me to do so. She says they give me the biggest page not to inform people of anything, but to make a fool of me. This writer ends her email by saying she does not want to receive a response from me.
Taken as a whole, these readers challenge the appropriateness of how faith influences my decision-making, question the validity of my substantial criticism of Democratic strategy/tactics/policies and seek to suppress my thinking that does not conform to liberal orthodoxy.
Regarding my being Christian, a person of faith, while supporting Donald Trump, start with my understanding of the gospel and how God deals with humankind. I believe the creation account. The human condition was and is that we have an inclination to sin. That is, sinning is a natural response in human beings. Dr. R.C. Sproul, in an article titled “Jonathan Edwards: We Are Inclined to Sin” confirms this human condition when he writes: “Why can we find no societies in which the prevailing influence is to virtue rather than vice? Why does not society influence us to maintain our natural innocence?”
Sin separates us from God, sours our relationship with him. We reestablish that relationship by believing the gospel and, in response to our believing, having the Holy Spirit come to dwell in us. That presence of the Holy Spirit directs and strengthens us for saying “no” to sin and “yes” to godly living. A key component of this process is God’s forgiveness of sin. In an article titled “What Does the Word ‘Gospel’ Mean in the New Testament?” R.C. Sproul writes this: “The gospel is about Jesus — what he did, his life of perfect obedience, his atoning death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven and his outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church.”
What does this God, gospel, and forgiveness stuff have to do with my support of Donald Trump? Despite his sometimes seeming offensive and attacking words, the charges of marital infidelity and the ardent search by so many for reasons to impeach him, I look at him in light of the offer of God to us in our sinfulness and separation from Him. I find it hard to believe that Trump is able to, with high energy and focus in the midst of all-out efforts to literally destroy him and his family, accomplish all the good he is doing. It has to be that he is on this journey to forgiveness, repentance and a right relationship with God.
Surely, some readers will find all of that hilarious. As you laugh, be reminded of King David from Scripture. First Chronicles 18:14 says, “So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and equity to all his people.”
Now this from a Bible study titled “The Life of King David.”
“Unfortunately, many of David’s problems are self-inflicted. His illicit affair with Bathsheba, the arranged murder of her husband and attempt at covering up his sins cost him grief, dishonor, the life of a child and trouble within his household.
“The sin of taking a census to determine the size of his army, instead of trusting God, cost the lives of more than 70,000 Israelites. His lack of discipline in his own house contributed to his son Absalom rebelling against him and another son Adonijah seeking to inherit the throne instead of Solomon.”
The bottom line is that, time and again, like with King David, God uses imperfect and improbable people to do extraordinary things. It looks to me as though Trump might be one of those cases.
Further, the “love one another” interpretation that is repeatedly presented to me by many who disagree with my thinking on political, social and religious matters, apparently only applies to people who differ with them. Their “love one another” interpretation causes outrage at Trump when he speaks in seemingly harsh terms toward others. However, they are silent when boycotts are called against business owners for supporting Trump or his staff members are harassed in public places or the names of donors are published so that they may be ridiculed and somehow punished. Supporters are verbally attacked and bullied in their workplace while liberal media focuses on Trump’s destruction. Seeing and experiencing this one-sided approach inclines me even more to support Trump. The God I serve abhors hypocrisy and hatred of others.
Then, in this moment, I cannot think of a Trump policy initiative with which I disagree. Sure, there are issues such as climate change and mass shootings that I wish we could, as a nation, address in a nonpolitical and productive fashion. I think Trump is trying to do what is good for America and that he loves this country. Being focused on what is good for and loving the country are getting to be rare qualities in America. Given the rarity of these qualities, I will take my chances with Trump.
As for my frequent opposition to Democratic policies and actions, I confess. I do not have space to give the list, but I believe that just about every policy and action being pursued by Democrats is foolhardy and dramatically jeopardizes the very survival of this nation. I do not say much about Republicans because, especially in Congress and with a few exceptions, I see them as a bunch of wimps who let Democrats bully them into doing nothing. In the meantime, Democrats promise, manipulate voters, and also do nothing of positive consequence. For more on this thinking, see my column titled “U.S. Congress: Far too many bullies and wimps.”
All three of these readers, but especially the third one, challenge my capacity for assembling facts, fairly examining them and reaching supportable conclusions. On this point, I find it interesting that not one of them specifically countered the detailed arguments that I put forth in those columns. Instead, they challenge my faith and my ability to reason. Granted, the female reader wrote off Dr. Ben Carson, but with no support for why, she said his assessment of Trump not being a racist should be disregarded. Couple this lack of specific responses to the points in my column, with her all-out verbal assault on me, along with a refusal to receive a response from me, and you see the primary liberal strategy. I find that strategy repulsive and just more reason to give Trump a fair look.
My thanks to these readers for giving me reason to rethink my support of Donald Trump. No change!