Speaker Pelosi: It’s Time.

I read recently in the New York Times that the president paid no taxes during eight of the ten years from 1985 to 1994 when he was writing off losses of $1.17 billion for the decade. The next day he went to his Twitter account to tell us that it was fake news, of course. Then he went on to say that developers took advantage of laws during that period to take big write-offs. They considered it “sport.”

The day of that report I received a letter from the IRS telling me that I had miscalculated my return for 2018 and that I must send a check for $922.73 by May 27 or pay additional interest and penalties. My underpayment was not the result of sporting the government. I made an honest mistake. My check is already written, sent, and cleared my bank.

What is the word for my mood?

Continue reading “Speaker Pelosi: It’s Time.”

A Lovely Family Could Use a Helping Hand

If you know this family, please consider giving them a hand right now. Our community has benefited so much from their presence. They have given us much in the way of both creativity and service. Now they are fighting an enemy most of us will never have to confront. Your assistance would be well invested.

www.gofundme.com/lefave-family-cancer-defeating-funds

There’s a Fire in the Attic . . .

A month ago I sat in front of the television the better part of the day and watched as the roof and spire of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris were ravaged by fire. The entire structure, the beautiful windows, and the immense organ whose notes have been measured to reverberate for a full six seconds at the midrange of the scale — all of it was at risk of destruction.

The shock was immediate as the world looked on. As I watched the fire progress, there was among the people of France and around the world a growing sense of foreboding and sorrow as it appeared that it could all be lost. The cathedral represents one of the spiritual and cultural centers of western civilization. It is irreplaceable.

I feel that way every day as I watch Donald Trump go about his work attempting to destroy American democracy. In fact, the cathedral is an apt metaphor for our constitutional democracy. Continue reading “There’s a Fire in the Attic . . .”

Burying Bodies in the Basement Has Never Been So Much Fun

Brazosport Center Stages opened Arsenic and Old Lace last night in the Dow Arena Theater. To be sure, it’s an old play and every community theater has offered it several  times in the time most people spend in a single community. But these are days of mobility and rootlessness. Things like “A&OL” given to you by friends of such superb talent is a gift that is settling to the soul.

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Abby and Martha Brewster fuss about in the foreground while Mortimer Brewster places a frantic call to his editor.

Wes Copeland, who doubles as executive director of the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences, assembled and directed a cast of experienced players who share a love of theater, a lot of talent, a joy in giving it to their friends, and . . . well, that’s about it. Beyond those qualities held in common, they represent the spectrum of businesses, trades and professions that make up a village like ours.

In addition to the wonderful performances by Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, you will be able to see the results of Dr. Einstein’s somewhat sub-standard plastic surgery and you can follow the political and engineering exploits of the brother who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. Don’t miss it.

Reservations are available for performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons through May 5 at this link. Laughter is very necessary to your health and well-being. Works better than elderberry wine.

More photos from the dress rehearsal may be viewed on the Flickr site. If you buy a ticket you will see completed costumes, makeup and set.

Recommended: Thomas Friedman in the New York Times on Immigration Policy

Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent review of immigration problems, procedures and policies for the New York Times in this morning’s edition. It is listed as an opinion piece but Friedman always writes from a background of solid reporting and this piece provides a comprehensive review of the current situation at the southern border and the likelihood of future developments if we do nothing to change.

Fans of the president may not get beyond his endorsement of the need for physical barriers. That is unfortunate because he makes the point that a wall alone accomplishes little or nothing. However, he also describes places where physical barriers have worked to the advantage of communities on both sides of the border allowing commerce to thrive and homeowners to enjoy their property.

Federal employees whose job it is to enforce our rag-tag immigration policies are underfunded and tasked with carrying out unenforceable laws. Comments you are likely to encounter on FB often present our choice as being between open borders and building a wall. Not so. Life is so much more complicated than that and it gets more complicated the longer we ignore the real problems we share with our neighbors.

(The Friedman article is here. If you cannot read it from this link, you may have to subscribe to the NY Times. Maybe it’s time to throw your support to good journalism.)

I Meet the Patron Saint of Accountants: A Visit from St. Matt

If you procrastinated like I did, then you will be spending your weekend thinking about taxes and tax returns. There could not be a better time to have a visit from the patron saint of accountants. This is long. And you may find it boring. Accounting, after all. In any case, it’s purely fictional and any resemblance the characters may have to persons living or dead (or both – the saint, presumably) is purely coincidental.  

THE FINANCE COMMITTEE WRESTLES WITH SPENDING ON BIG TICKET ITEMS

Theology is thought to be a arcane subject by the religious and the non-religious alike. Church people think of it as “overthinking” the simple love of God and the easier and more beautiful intellectual demands of worship. The non-religious are, of course, mystified by miracles, prayer, and how church people reconcile the Trinity with the monotheism that is clearly commanded in the Decalogue.

But if theology is difficult, accounting is even more of a mystery for most United Methodists. I have been treasurer, finance chair, or volunteer amateur internal auditor for the better part of the last fifteen years in a United Methodist Church inhabited by men and women with excellent educations and careers in science, engineering and academics. I assure you most of them will explain the Trinity, reconcile evolution with the Book of Genesis, or enjoy a discussion of substitutionary atonement with you before they will tell you the functional difference between a balance sheet and an income and expense report. And while it may be fully expected that most members would not be able to go into much detail on such a thing as depreciation, you would think they would quickly grasp the meaning of the idea that income should ordinarily exceed expenses in a healthy organization. Alas, red ink is often taken only as a sign that we need to pray harder.

At our most recent meeting we spent the better part of an hour discussing whether we should pay for a $15,000 air conditioning condenser unit for the sanctuary from the operating budget or from our “rainy day fund,” which no one seemed to understand the reason for its creation and why it had been so named in the first place. Borrowing was not one of the options considered since we have been fortunate in being able to save up a little money over the last few years.

So it occurred to me after that meeting, where we agreed on a budget to propose to our church council, that maybe I could wrap some accounting ideas up in the more familiar spiritual language of theology. Red ink could be sin, for example. That would be easy enough and since we could all agree that it should be avoided, it wouldn’t need a lot of discussion. After all, this is deeply Republican country.

But what about the more difficult ideas like capitalization and depreciation of equipment? Too formidable to even consider after such a long meeting, I thought. Tomorrow. I will think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day. For now, some welcome rest.

 

I FALL INTO A DREAM; I MEET THE PATRON SAINT OF ACCOUNTANTS

But, alas, as I fell off to sleep that night, a gentleman appeared to me in a dream. In my dream I was at Chapelwood’s altar all alone and praying about my difficulty getting fellow Methodists to understand basic accounting concepts. Few things have ever brought me to my knees like this problem. Continue reading “I Meet the Patron Saint of Accountants: A Visit from St. Matt”

I Fetch My Morning Paper, April 2019

Click the link to see thirty ways to celebrate National Poetry Month. Here’s one way that didn’t make their list: Write a poem. Maybe they left it off because it is so hard to write well, especially anything you want to nail to the wall and call a poem. But poetry will die if ordinary people quit reading it; it will die even sooner if ordinary people quit writing it. I welcome your offering in a comment space.

There are only twenty more days left in National Poetry Month for you to write your poem and it may take you longer than you think, especially if you write a good one. Frankly, I am partial to the ones that sing with rhyme and meter. But Robert Frost made the rest of us look pretty silly with our little rhymers. So, relax and write some free verse to celebrate National Poetry Month.

I Fetch My Morning Paper, April 2019

A sullen, still morning in April.

I remembered mornings from my childhood; they were so different then.

The only sound would have been a small high pitch in the distance – a horn announcing a shift change, but otherwise silent.

Lights went on in the houses down the street and cars backed down narrow drives, taking neighborhood men to refineries.

There, unions stood between the men and their bosses and fought for bigger paychecks.

But there was no one to guard the fragile air they breathed, the crystalline air so clear I could look up in wonder at millions of stars that I could see but could not count.

I pick up my newspaper from the lawn this day, the better part of a century later. The air oppresses like a soured cotton towel soaked in morning’s fog; the gray day wraps around my head. Continue reading “I Fetch My Morning Paper, April 2019”