Thursday, May 12, 2011

Storms, legislation and Presbyterians

One of the rites of seasonal change around here involves resolutions not to fire up the furnace until, say, the 1st of October or to crank up the air conditioning until, say, June 1. I was shooting for June 1 on the cooling front.

But after coming home for lunch after a noon meeting yesterday and discovering that the stick of butter left on the counter to soften had turned into a puddle, I turned 'er on. So much for that resolution.

Chariton was on the eastern edge of severe weather late yesterday afternoon that resulted in tornado damage in the little town of Lenox, over southwest of Creston. No injuries reported, but major damage to trees and buildings.

Our share of the storm was a fairly brief gully-washer that will put an end to planting, garden work and the like for a few days; and rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. Cooler temperataures, too, so I've turned the air conditioning off. But I sure wish the rain had held off late yesterday until I'd managed to finish mowing the back 40. At lest the worst of it's done. I wonder how the neighbor would feel about sheep for the rest.


The Iowa Legislature still is in business, squabbling over the budget primarily but wandering off into other areas now and then. The effort by a Nebraska abortion provider, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, chased out of that state, to set up shop in Council Bluffs has made abortion a hot topic again.

No one especially wants Dr. Carhart in Iowa, now that Nebraska has banned abortions after 20 weeks based not on viability but on the opinion a fetus feels and suffers from pain, but what seems like it might be a rather narrow issue rarely is. So we've already been through efforts to define life as something that begins at conception, a view most Iowans apparently don't share, and are down to the question now of whether Iowa, too, should ban post-20-week abortions.

Late-term abortions are rare. State figures show that six were performed in Iowa during 2009. The most common reason for those abortions is a fetal condition known as anencephaly --- absence of a brain and skull.

But the oddest piece of legislation under debate at the moment may be a measure that would make it a misdemeanor to infiltrate and record photographically and/or with audio abuse of livestock or crop-related shenanigans within farming operations.

Although it's possible to understand the it's-my-property-and-I'll-do-what-I-want-to grounding of the measure, it also creates the impression that farmers in general have things to hide --- and most don't.


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with some 2.8 million members, this week became the fourth major Christian denomination to lift its official ban on LBGT clergy in same-sex relationships when the Presbytery of the Twin Cities became the 87th of 173 regional presbyteries to approve an enabling amendment. Nineteen presbyteries that previously had voted against stimilar measures have reversed course this time.

Similar shifts already had been made by the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Iowa is divided into six presbyteries and votes have occurred so far in five of them. The presbyteries of East Iowa, John Knox (including areas of Wisconsin) and Missouri Valley (including areas of Nebraska) voted for the amendment; and the presbyteries of North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill (northwest Iowa) not surprisingly when you consider geography, voted "no." The Presbytery of Des Moines, which includes Chariton, will not vote on the amendment until its May 17 stated meeting.

Regional presbyteries still may decline to ordain LGBT clergy, should they choose to do so, and some congregations may choose to leave the mainline denomination and join assemblies of a more traditionally homophobic Christian outlook, although the fact Presbyterian property is held in trust for the whole rather than by individual congregations will be a consideration, too.

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