A House of Prayer or Den of Thieves

“It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
(Luke 19:46)
A sign at the entrance to a church makes the following request to all who would enter, “God may be calling you, but probably not on your cell phone.  Please turn off before entering.” 
I would, however, suggest an additional request be added to the entry sign.  It would read, “Remember, you’re entering the House of the Lord.  Please seal your lips.” 
As a youngster growing up in Pennsylvania, my family attended Catholic mass every Sunday morning in a large, cathedral-type church, accommodating several hundred worshippers.   Before entering, my parent’s cautioned me to refrain from talking and other inappropriate horseplay.   
I remember how quiet and reverent it remained inside that cavernous church, even when filled to capacity. The congregation would enter quietly, proceed directly to a pew, lower the kneelers and begin to offer prayer to their Lord and Savior.  Parishioners would then sit back in the pew, patiently and quietly awaiting mass to begin.
Unlike today, there was no talking, no laughter, no applause.  Such behavior was best reserved for times either before or after the service outside the immediate area of the Sanctuary.
Unlike today, there was no strolling up and down aisle ways, no socializing with friends.  Greetings were accomplished with a simple smile or nod of acknowledgment, eliminating the need for disruptive conversation.    
Unlike today, courtesy and respect was shown to those engaged in private prayer.  Parishioners, properly on their knees in prayer, were not distracted by conversations about weekend barbecues, grandkids and one’s vacation plans.   
Unlike today, adults were mindful of the presence of young children.  Every effort was made to set the right example for these future leaders of the church. 
Dare I Say, is my church a house of prayer or is it becoming a den of thieves?
 “Ye shall keep My Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”
(Leviticus 26:2)
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Does Congressman LaMalfa Really Support the Military?

Over the years, the Military Officers’ Association of America (MOAA) has proven to be a reliable source of information for tracking how well individual politicians support military-related legislation.

MOAA’s an independent, non-profit and politically nonpartisan organization, whose focus includes military personnel matters, especially in regards to legislation affecting the military.

Their website at moaa.org includes a “Take Action” database which provides current info on key bills and their co-sponsors.

MOAA doesn’t track individual legislator’s voting records. Rather, their official position is “…we believe co-sponsorship records are more telling of an elected official’s stance and position.”

In fact, former U.S. Representative William Colmer of Mississippi summed up the value of gaining co-sponsors, saying “The co-sponsorship of a bill adds prestige and strength to proposed legislation. For there is strength in unity. The proposal is given status by numbers.”

Way back on June 28, 2014, I attended a meeting of the Shasta County Veterans Affiliated Council (SCVAC). My congressman, Doug LaMalfa, was attending at the request of SCVAC leadership.

I used the opportunity to ask LaMalfa to explain why he was co-sponsoring only 2 of 28 pieces of legislation affecting our military.

MOAA had determined these to be key bills and was closely tracking their progression through the legislative process.

I provided Representative LaMalfa a copy of the 26 bills he was not co-sponsoring, requesting his office provide appropriate rationale for his lack of support.

Sadly, I’m still waiting for a reply.

MOAA’s list of key bills has changed over the past year.

A check of their database on August 28, 2015 revealed the following, somewhat disappointing, stats for Congressman LaMalfa:

H.R. 1969 – Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act (No)

H.R. 1100 – Military Spouse Job Continuity Act (Yes)

H.R. 1356 – Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act (No)

H.R. 1607 – Ruth Moore Act (No)

H.R. 1141 – GI Bill Fairness Act (No)

H.R. 456 – Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act (Yes)

H.R. 1594 – Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act (No)

H.R. 969 – Support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (No)

H.R. 800 – Support the Express Appeals Act (No)

H.R. 1384 – Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act (No)

H.R. 218 – CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act (No)

H.R. 333 – Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act (No)

H.R. 303 – Retired Pay Restoration Act (No)

H.R. 216 – Develop a Long-Term Veterans Strategy (No)

Some, undoubtedly, will find Doug’s support adequate. Others will not.

From my own perspective, I believe he could do more…a whole lot more.

Dare I Say, is LaMalfa truly a veterans’ advocate in action or in word only? You decide.

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Dare I Say – God Bless the USA

I happen to be an American of Croatian descent. 

I’m not a Croatian-American, often referred to as a hyphenated-American.  Never will be.  Don’t want to be.  This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for me it’s pretty darn important.

Other examples of hyphenated-American titles include Japanese-American, Native-American, Mexican-American, Asian-American, African-American, Irish-American and Italian-American, to name but a few.

I find such titles unnecessary and potentially destructive to the fabric of our Nation.  And, I’m not alone in my feelings.

I’ve been to Croatia once while deployed with NATO forces.  Seemed like a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  I feel no particular attachment, emotional or otherwise.  I don’t speak Croatian, am not intimately familiar with its culture and traditions, am not particularly up-to-date on its political, social and economic underpinnings and can go weeks, months and even years without giving Croatia much thought.

Why then would I wish to be called a Croatian-American?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m proud of my Croatian roots.  But America always gets the place of honor with me.  

Darn it, I’m unabashedly proud, thankful and blessed to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world.  I will not, cannot, split my loyalty between two countries.  

There shall never be a question that my loyalty and allegiance belongs to America.  America is my home, where my heart is and my family resides.  It’s the country I love, the only country.  It’s the country I am willing to die for should it be necessary.  Surely, I cannot say the same about Croatia.

It’s time to chart a new course.

Let’s begin emphasizing our common interests and common American heritage rather than the things that make us different.  Respect for diversity is a good thing, but not if done at the expense of our Nation’s best interests.

Let’s always put America first.  Rather than Irish-American, let’s instead say American of Irish descent.  African-American changes to American of African descent.  Mexican-American becomes American of Mexican descent. And so on.

As President Roosevelt so wisely said, “Our allegiance must be purely to the United States.” 

America, land of the free and home of the brave.  There can be no other.  There is no other.  

Dare I Say, God bless the USA.

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Help Us Build the US Air Force Memorial in California

The USAF Memorial is the first of five service memorials to be built at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery to honor the sacrifice and dedication of all Air Force airmen.  It will also be the first Air Force memorial at the state-run Northern California Veterans Cemetery.

The memorial titled “Into the Wild Blue Yonder” will be a place of reflection for families and visitors to the cemetery. It has been fully approved by the California Department of Veterans Affairs and will be placed along a newly designated memorial walkway that will honor veterans of all eras and all branches of service.

What we need now is to kick-start donations to keep the memorial construction moving!  Remember, no donation is too small.  We are just grateful for the generosity of our donors near and far.

The stunning memorial structure constructed of aluminum will depict the globe with an aircraft and contrail circling the earth and flying high “into the wild blue yonder”. Its reflective surface will be reminiscent of the silver sheen of Air Force aircraft throughout history and will reflect the serenity and beauty of the cemetery grounds.

This memorial is dedicated to the men and women who have served and supported the rich history of the Air Force. We invite the community to honor their loved ones with a customizable paver brick that will be laid at the base of the memorial for generations to come.

To learn more about the project or purchase a customizable brick to honor someone today, visit the USAF Memorial website at www.usafmemorial.org and like us on Facebook for updates www.facebook.com/usafmemorial.

You can also make a donation by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/ynmbj4m .

Thank you for your support.

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About Me

Pete Stiglich is a community and Veteran activist from Cottonwood, California. After 26 years of dedicated service, he retired as a Colonel from the United States Air Force in 2006.

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