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At St. Pat’s, everyone was gemütlichkeit

In Munich, Germany, Oct. 6 marked the end of one of their oldest and most celebrated traditions, Oktoberfest. However, at St. Patrick Catholic Church on Village Drive, last Sunday’s celebration of Oktoberfest marked over four decades of food, fun, frolic, music and be02 01womener — lots of beer, sauerkraut, potato salad and sausages. All Bavarian-style. This annual event, hosted by the St. Pat’s Knights of Columbus organization, is a major fundraiser for the church. Traditionally, Up & Coming Weekly rarely writes about programs and events that have already taken place; however, this event was special and so impressive I felt impelled to make an exception and advise our readers to put it on their calendars for the first Sunday in October 2020.

I guess with this event coming on the heels of the Fayetteville Greek Festival and the International Folk Festival, it made me cognizant and appreciative of our incredibly diverse community.

Knight Fred Cutter was the chairman of this year’s festivities, and he and his committee went to the far extreme to capture the authentic ambiance and culture of a true Bavarian festival, right down to the decorations, food, music and costumes. Surprisingly, many in attendance dressed in traditional Bavarian attire; the men wore lederhosen, and the ladies wore colorful dirndls — pronounced dern-DULL — which is an ensemble that includes a blouse, skirt and apron. The music was exceptional. Throughout the evening, attendees marched, sang and danced to the Little German Band and Dancers out of Raleigh. They were quite talented, performing songs, waltzes and polkas from the Bavaria region of Germany that energized and electrified the audience. The German word “Gemütlichkeit” describes a state of belonging when being surrounded by good friends, with good music and good times.02 02 Oktoberfest

So, nothing to do in Fayetteville? What nonsense. There’s plenty to do here. And, the best common denominator all these community events and venues have is the people themselves. We encourage everyone to get involved and get to know our residents and our community. St. Patrick’s Oktoberfest is only one example of the excellent events that define our unique community.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Village Drive celebrated Oktoberfest this past Sunday with a fun family affair.
Picture 1, L-R: Lia, Lexie and Yiotta Hasapis

Fun doesn't just happen

15 Collecting leavesPlanning fun doesn't sound like much fun, does it? I used to think fun wasn't fun unless you're flying by the seat of your pants.

 My husband always says, “If you're not standing on the edge, you're taking up too much space.” Spontaneity is fun, but somehow as I age, there's, ironically I might add, not much room in our schedule for it — responsibilities take precedence over unplanned weekend trips and doing nothing wins over filling our days with busyness, which I'm mostly thankful for.

Even still, fall only creeps in once a year and I want to be fully present for it. Though I don't care for it, planning fun fall activities, whether at home, when we want to do nothing, or away, ensures that I can and will experience all there is to fall and its colorful, crisp, pumpkin-y goodness.

So what does one do when one doesn't plan very well? Make a list. Lists are magical. They make you feel like you're accomplishing so much more than you actually are, which makes you want to get more done. Really, you're just tricking yourself into being productive, and I need all the help I can get. Sometimes I'll even put things I've already done on a list, just so I can cross them off because, dang it, I am getting things done.

This year, I've decided to make a fall bucket list full of fun only-experience-in-the-fall kind of activities — some for at home when you want to do “nothing,” and some mini-getaways. Here are some ideas you and your family might enjoy as well.

• Make some sort of fall treat — pumpkin/chocolate chip bread, apple cinnamon muffins, apple pie, cinnamon chip scones, etc.
• Visit the Biltmore Esate in Asheville.
• Go apple picking.
• Make a fall playlist on Spotify.
• Decorate the front porch for fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving.
• Carve pumpkins.
• Find and press 20 different leaves, maybe frame some.
• Drink a lot of apple cider.
• Visit a corn maze.
• Go to a football game.
• Host a bonfire and make s'mores.
• Buy Halloween candy — to pass out to trick-or-treaters, or just to eat.
• Go hiking after the leaves turn.
• Watch a Halloween movie — I love "Hocus Pocus" or the "Addams Family" or "Casper"!
• Make a big pot of chili.
• Make a gratitude list.
• Go for a hay ride.
• Rake leaves for a neighbor.
• Go to the State Fair.
• Take a fall foliage drive. I love Hwy 421 in the fall.

I could add a million things to this list, but there's just not enough time. I love fall. Now ... Where can I plug these into my calendar?

Need some help with that fall playlist I mentioned? Tune into Christian 105.7. We're here 24/7 with fresh fall sounds to help you ease into the coziest season ever.
 

Why the heck ...

04 N1910P36004COn Sunday, Sept. 8, I found myself quietly crying during our pastor’s sermon. This was at First Baptist Church, at 201 Anderson St., where Rev. Rob James is pastor. It did concern me that, although my crying was silent, I could not stop it. Further, I was struggling to determine why I was crying. As the service ended, I went through the rear doors of the sanctuary and tried to avoid talking with anybody as I rushed to my truck.
 
It was on the drive home that I started to identify the reason for my tears. The primary prompt was an event from the previous week. On Thursday, Sept. 5, I finished writing a column titled, “Challenges to faith and reason.” That column responded to comments received from three readers relative to a couple of my recent columns. In my view, rather than addressing the thoughts put forth in those columns, they challenged the validity of my Christian faith and my capacity for reason-based thought. One of the three readers verbally assailed me for being a black male who dares to think as I do.
 
After finishing my response to those readers, I spent Friday and Saturday asking myself, “Given this kind of feedback and the accompanying alienation of me by so many people, especially in the black community, why the heck do I write?”
 
Answering that question is difficult because there are so many factors that say I should not be writing. First, I do not like writing; I do not enjoy it. That is especially true in light of the topics I find myself addressing. For me, producing a column every two weeks is draining mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.
 
I suppose the draining aspect is because I love people and I love America. My 21½-year naval career took me all over the world — from the Western Pacific to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. No matter where I was overseas, no matter how beautiful or enjoyable the location, I always longed to be home in America. I thank God that I was born here. Seeing all that threatens the future of our nation, of our citizens, scares me, pains me. When I research to write about these threatening conditions, the deeper understanding of dangerous circumstance compounds my fear and pain.
 
Second, in these senior citizen years, I could be alternating between playing golf, fishing and traveling. Instead, with little or no financial benefit, I find myself in front of a computer doing something I do not even enjoy.
 
Third, in light of one particular experience, I wonder about the sanity of my commitment to writing when the personal cost is rather high. I have been here before. In 2006, I joined with two other individuals to start a nonprofit organization: Great Oak Youth Development Centers, Inc. The aim was to help black boys build a foundation for successful living. In 2006, I was a Realtor® in Fayetteville. I loved the business, thoroughly enjoyed it and worked with wonderful people. However, in 2009, I left real estate to volunteer full-time with Great Oak. I do not think there was a week when my volunteer hours were less than 50.
 
However, I was forthright regarding my conservative views. That was not only the case in my interactions with others in the organization but also in my writing and public speaking. That conservatism was not welcomed internally, or externally. At one point, it was brought to my attention that people were calling to say they would not financially support the organization as long as I was there. In 2015, I left Great Oak.
 
One would think, after this experience, I would have gone back to real estate and enjoyed the rest of my life. Instead, I got more involved in the political process and far more vocal in espousing my conservative views. Now, in 2019, I find myself still paying the price for believing what I believe and not hesitating to proclaim it.
 
It is against this backdrop that I found myself crying amid a Sunday sermon. Rob James, this young, extremely gifted, cowboy-boot-wearing preacher steps to the lectern. He starts what is the second in a series of sermons. The point of the series is to have us understand God is calling each of us to ministry, regardless of the work we do. That ministry is possible in, and through, our work. He makes it clear that this call is also extended to retirees. To demonstrate this truth, he spends time working with people in their daily employment. The sermons share where he saw ministry happening through the actions of people with whom he worked.
 
The first sermon was based on his time spent as a barista in a coffee shop. My crying came during the second sermon as he talked about working with two gravediggers. Among other details, James explained how these gravediggers are made to feel ostracized. He related riding with them in a van, headed to a gravesite. At a point along one street, a vehicle comes alongside them; the people in that vehicle make eye contact and seem pleasant. Then, seeing the funeral home name on the van’s side, and the backhoe being towed, they look straight ahead and drive on. They want no further connection.
 
The two gravediggers share with Rev. James their experience in grocery stores when wearing their uniforms. Their observation is that recognizing what they do and that they are associated with death, people refuse to make eye contact. These men must feel separated and alone. However, James reported that when he asked why they work as gravediggers, both responded that they love what they do.
 
What I realized on the drive home was that I was identifying with those gravediggers in their having reason to feel alienated and ostracized. That is, because of my experiences, although not recognizing what was happening, I was feeling great compassion for those men. This identifying during the sermon was painful. I believe that explains my crying, but since I do not love writing, it does not explain my commitment to writing.
 
I love and appreciate God more than words can adequately describe. My absolute desire is to know and do his will, what he calls me to be and do. I am convinced that his calling now is for me to write. However, in my humanness, during experiences such as referred to in the opening, and then this crying episode, I wonder why such suffering if I am in God’s will?
 
God used James to, at the end of that sermon, bring me back to where I belong. That is, at peace, at this computer doing what God desires of me. He quoted from, and commented on, Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV) where Jesus says:
 
“11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
 
“12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
 
Love of God — and of people — and commitment to doing his will mandate that I write; being reviled and persecuted come with the assignment. My “Why the heck …” question was answered. If it comes up again, and it likely will, I will go back and read this column. This is my story, but, with different pieces, it might be yours, too. If so, I hope my sharing and transparency help you answer your “Why the heck …” question.
 
(Watch the sermon “Holy Jobs: Grave Digger-Sacred Groundskeeper” by Rev. Rob James at
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN6CPWNBOdk)
 
Love of God — and of people — and commitment to doing his will mandate that I write; being reviled and persecuted come with the assignment.
 

Insist on work for aid

05 N1910P35011CI don’t think North Carolina should expand Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. It’s the wrong response to the wrong problem, paid for in the wrong way — with massive federal borrowing.

 
But if North Carolina lawmakers choose to proceed with expansion, anyway — perhaps in response to political pressure from Gov. Roy Cooper or the promise of “free” federal money in perpetuity — they should at least insist on enforceable work requirements for new Medicaid recipients.
 
A number of Republican-led states included work requirements in their Medicaid expansions. The proposal currently making its way through the North Carolina House, H.B. 655, also requires work as a condition for able-bodied adults to receive coverage from Medicaid expansion.
 
Although North Carolina progressives have previously argued that expanding Medicaid on Republican terms is better than not expanding at all, they strongly dislike work requirements. So do their counterparts in other states. Indeed, the left has used litigation to block the enforcement of work requirements in Arkansas, New Hampshire and Kentucky.
 
Conservatives and progressives have been arguing about the proper size and scope of the welfare state for decades. Even when they agree that government should provide aid, however, they often disagree about the details. Which level of government should be primarily responsible for funding the program? Should it distribute cash, use a voucher-type instrument or directly provide services such as housing and health care? And to what extent should recipients be required to work or perform community service in exchange for government aid?
 
I have strong opinions about each of these questions. If this shocks you, then I welcome you as a new reader of my column. But for today’s purposes, I’ll focus on the latter question. For adults with no severe disabilities, work requirements in my mind aren’t just permissible. They are essential. They reduce the risk that welfare programs will breed dependency and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

When a Republican-led Congress and Democratic President Bill Clinton reformed the nation’s cash-welfare programs in the mid-1990s, work requirements were a centerpiece of the strategy. Following the lead of successful welfare-reform initiatives at the state level, the federal legislation truly was a bipartisan accomplishment. But it had its progressive critics. They asserted that requiring recipients of the former program Aid to Families with Dependent Children to work would be both ineffectual and heartless.

 
They were mistaken. The subsequent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was a significant improvement over AFDC. According to new research from Princeton University economist Henrik Kleven, increases in workforce
participation by single mothers since the mid-1990s are more likely the result of welfare reform than of increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit, as some progressives contend.
 
Moreover, until court action interrupted the process, the pioneer state for work requirements, Arkansas, was effectively implementing them for Medicaid. The process included large-scale campaigns to inform potential recipients about the work rules and reasonable exemptions for recipients facing inordinate challenges such as natural disasters or caring for infirm family members.
 
Some North Carolina critics have questioned the efficiency of a work requirement, arguing that taxpayers wouldn’t save enough from lower Medicaid enrollment to offset the cost of administering the rule. They are missing the point. Work requirements aren’t intended to be punitive. They aren’t really about saving money. They promote personal responsibility and affirm the dignity of work.
 
If the General Assembly were to enact Medicaid expansion with a work requirement, it would be the responsibility of the Cooper administration to enforce it. North Carolina conservatives would be wise to doubt the success of such a venture. The governor is just as full-throated in his condemnation of work requirements as are progressives inside and outside the legislature. And attempts to block enforcement through litigation are sure to follow.
 
All Democrats and some Republicans in the North Carolina House favor Medicaid expansion. But be careful not to misinterpret that. There isn’t broad agreement on the details. They matter, a lot.
 

Conservatives and progressives have been arguing about the proper size and scope of the welfare state for decades.

 

Out of the mouths of babes

03 animal beach black 2960172North Carolina has long prided herself on the wild horses along our Outer Banks coast. Bankers, as they are known, are descendants of Spanish horses brought to the New World in the 16th century. They are compact animals, resourceful enough to have survived for centuries along the Outer Banks in what can be a harsh and unforgiving environment. The few hundred feral horses remaining in North Carolina are a major tourist attraction, the subjects of countless vacation photographs.

 
Last month, 28 of the 49 Bankers living on Cedar Island were confirmed dead, swept away in a mini-tsunami caused by Hurricane Dorian, a storm that bypassed most of North Carolina’s long coastline but slammed our eastern-most islands. No human beings were lost, but homes and businesses on Ocracoke and Cedar Islands are badly damaged and await state and federal assistance. The National Park Service and several private organizations keep watch on the remaining bankers, but 28 is a major loss.
 
Climate scientists say Dorian and its extraordinary flooding results from worldwide climate change — some use the terms “climate crisis” or “climate emergency” — that is causing more extreme weather patterns, including higher temperatures and more violent storms.
 
Less than a month after Dorian’s landfall on Cape Hatteras, a wave of climate change protests erupted around the world as hundreds of thousands of young people rallied, marched and railed against what is happening to Mother Earth. They gathered in cities in Australia, Africa, Asia, the Middle East — and German police reported a gathering of more than 100,000 in Berlin. The message to their elders was simple and stark. Today’s adults and generations before us have been poor stewards of our environment, and it is they — the young people of our world — who will pay the price, which for many will be suffering and death. “Fix it,” they said forcefully in many languages. Fix it now, not in 10 years, but now. Do not push the ball down the road anymore.
 
Ground zero for the message was the United Nations Climate Action Summit, attended by leaders from all over the globe. Chief messenger to those world leaders was 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who sailed to New York for 15 days on an emissions-free yacht, instead of flying for a few hours, to save carbon emissions. Her boat was met by young climate activists chanting, “Sea levels are rising and so are we.”
 
 Appearing at the UN conference clearly emotional and enraged, Thunberg told delegates, “We will be watching you.” As for past promises of action on climate change, Thunberg responded, “You have stolen my childhood with your empty words. ... All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” Shaking with outrage, Thunberg thundered, “How dare you?”
 
From the departments of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished and Kill the Messenger come harsh and personal criticism of both Thunberg and her parents, who have supported her environmental activism. Whatever one’s opinions about young Thunberg, it is clear that her heartfelt and powerful message is resonating with young people around the world because it is true. Today’s young people and future generations are indeed the people who will experience whatever calamities climate change brings — not this writer and not many of the people who read this column.
 
That climate change is occurring is no longer debated by credible scientists and reasonable observers. The debate now is how quickly to address it and how. Thunberg and millions of young people all over the globe are correct in shouting “Now!” for humanity and all other living things, including North Carolina’s bankers.
 
Last month, 28 of the 49 Bankers living on Cedar Island were confirmed dead, swept away in a mini-tsunami caused by Hurricane Dorian, a storm that bypassed most of North Carolina’s long coastline but slammed our eastern-most islands.
 

 

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