One man at the edge of the crowd, asked by a reporter why he was shouting, replied with anger, “Because I can!”

So, I’ve got a moment on my hands and I am mulling over the whole “occupy” thing going on, especially in light of the shooting death (apparent suicide) of a man at the Occupy movement in Burlington.

What follows are some quotes from this Burlington Free Press article and my thoughts/reactions to it.

The mayor also said the encampment wouldn’t be torn down by the police. That placated the crowd, and what had become a near riot quickly calmed.

Aren’t these protests supposed to be peaceful? Why then, are they near riot? What does it say about the movement, and the officials dealing with it, if the crowd has to be placated?

Placate (from Mirriam-Webster): to soothe or mollify especially by concessions.

Why is the mayor negotiating with these protesters? What is there to negotiate?

This next thing would make me leery of the movement even if I sympathized with their purported aims.

“We have got to mellow out,” one protester said, his words repeated by the crowd, in the style of the Occupy movement that began two months ago in a park near Manhattan’s Wall Street.

Well, part of it makes me nervous and another part makes me laugh. I’ll focus on the laugh, first. “We have got to mellow out.” I don’t know what to write. This is one of those literal “Laugh Out Loud” kind of moments for me. I’m actually tempted to use the acronym. This is the height of intellectual opposition to corporate greed? No wonder, they feel like they have no choice but to protest. They don’t have the brain power to know how to actually fight them. If they did, then they would probably be one of the so-called 1%.

The part that makes me nervous is the chanting. What you appear to have is folks out there mindlessly repeating after an impromptu, de facto leader (is that an oxymoron?). Is this really considered an intellectual, or sophisticated, protest? I don’t see it. In fact, this strikes me as terrifyingly close to zombies. Not in the undead sense of the word, but the mindless automatons that can cause very real property and personal damage if led by the wrong voice.

The fact that they are technically leaderless doesn’t make it any better. It makes it more frightening because it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see them going from collective peaceable crowd to a frothing mob seeking to lash out at whatever gets in its way.

Moving on. Enter the church:

When it became apparent the demonstrators would not be allowed to stay at City Hall Park, [Unitarian Universalist church member Elz] Curtiss said she offered the church. “Ultimately, this is a community that experienced a terrible tragedy,” she said of the demonstrators. “It’s important that they not lose the shelter of each other.”


Curtiss said she was impressed that the occupiers repeatedly said during the tense moments in City Hall Park earlier in the evening that they wanted to be their best selves. “I felt very good about it,” Curtiss said. “This is why you do religion.”

So, the Occupy group needs therapy. (Forgive me if that was a little too snarky. I don’t really like the use of the word community to imply a Utopian type of togetherness.) If I was in an area near where someone was shot, I would be shaken no doubt. I would probably go home and thank God that I wasn’t injured. Would I seek the “shelter” of total strangers? Would I seek that “shelter” in a church building that is home to a hodge-podge of feel-good self-help spiritually mystical mush? No.

She was impressed that the occupiers “wanted to be their best selves.” What? If they really wanted to be their best selves they would be scrambling for a way to be productive. They would be busy providing for themselves and their families and they wouldn’t be dallying in the city park mindlessly repeating foolish statements.

I’m glad that Ms. Curtiss felt “very good” about it, but that is not why you “do” religion. I will only take a moment to bemoan the unfortunate use and misuse of the word religion and say that it isn’t about being your “best selves”. You “do” religion to worship God. The object of your worship says a lot about what your “best self” will end up being.

An open culture?

The group politely asked a Burlington Free Press reporter to leave, saying they wanted privacy to grieve for their friend and felt more comfortable discussing their next moves away from the media.

Participants said they would issue statements to the media concerning the outcome of the meeting.

I chuckle at the probably unintended hypocrisy here. We are the 99%, but we don’t want to include you in our discussions. Ho hum, just another moment in La La Land. I presume that the reporters cheerfully obliged the protesters. Would they have done the same for a group with whom they were less sympathetic? Say the Tea Party? (Vermont Tiger laments that the Free Press didn’t even cover its Health Care Forum, a real issue facing every Vermonter.)

The shooting happened less than 24 hours after a point of great excitement at the encampment. Wednesday night about 500 people flocked to City Hall Park for an impromptu concert by internationally known gypsy punk musicians from the band Gogol Bordello.

Tee hee. By “internationally known” gypsy punk band, do they mean the United States and…Canada? Who knew that gypsy punk was a genre of music. It’s no wonder when I do a popular music unit with my students that I avoid getting too detailed about classifications of genres. Now I’ll have to tell them about the great wave of gypsy punk band artists from…(after a quick search of their website I couldn’t ascertain from whence they came – or at least formed).

Lastly, this is a nice platform from which Mayor Kiss can declare:

Firearms are not allowed in City Hall Park. Mayor Kiss said the shooting raises questions about the easy availability of firearms.

“We need to reflect on guns in Vermont,” he said.

Oh…so this is about gun control, too. I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around this occupy business.

As to why I blog about this kind of stuff, and why I wrote a whole lot more than I probably should have, I will quote the brilliant Occupier from the story (albeit with a degree, or two, less angrier):

Because I can!



I vaguely remember visiting Valley Forge as a kid. I’m willing to admit that the visit was less than inspiring for me at the time. It certainly would have made a more lasting impression if the visit had been in the dead of winter, with no shoes, meager rations, and nothing but a canvas separating me from the harsh winter weather. What men have endured in the pursuit and defense of freedom is nothing short of amazing and astounding.
I, for one, am grateful for their service, blessed to enjoy that freedom, and proud to be an American.

Praise God for veterans!

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Look at the section heading and keep in mind, what is impossible with men is possible with God.


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Yes, it is more common and accepted that we Christians should say, “Christ died for me,” but I’ve had an occasion this morning to recognize, in a significant way, that Christ necessarily sighed for me as well.

I owe this revelation to the Matthew Henry commentary that I picked up on sale at the now, or soon-to-be, closed Borders in Keene, NH.

Have you ever shared with someone something of profound personal grief, or sorrow, and that person’s response was not in words of sympathy or comfort but rather in the physical manifestation of sympathy: a sigh? The gentle, or even gross, release of breath and energy as though they have suddenly realized the burden of your pain on their own shoulders.

It’s been my experience that women show this expression of complete sympathy better than men, but it is equally powerful coming from both men and women. I hope you’ve experienced it. If you haven’t, I’m not sure I can describe it in a meaningful way, but it is looking into someone’s eyes when you share awful news and seeing them deflate because they care about you.

Now imagine the God of the universe doing that.

The eighth chapter of Mark tells of a deaf and dumb man who Jesus took aside and healed. While he was healing the man, he sighed. Imagine, or picture if you will, Jesus looking you in the eye and sighing with sympathy for your sorrows. Who better to understand or sorrow than Jesus?

I am humbled that an all-powerful and all-knowing God would be able to sigh with me; sigh for me. I hope to share His love by showing similar acts of compassion to those who need it.

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Uh…this one is tough. I’m going with a hymn again.

There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb, Lewis Jones

When I think of guilt, I think of the guilt I have standing before a perfect God. Even the slightest imperfection on my part is like a horrendous stain in His sight. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, because he was perfect for my sake. Despite being guilty before our Lord, I am free because of what Jesus did on the cross. Therefore, even though I chose this for a song about guilt, it really is a song about redemption from the guilt.

This is a version by Fernando Ortega. I just discovered it. I’m not sold on it, but I like his ability to make it sound reflective.

I prefer a more peppy arrangement like this one:


This project is already much harder than I anticipated. The narrowing down of the endless possibilities to 30 songs is, well impossible. But, for the sake of doing something over doing nothing, I will persist (and in the process, I may even learn a few things).

So, for today’s song…

There is nothing that makes me happier than knowing that I will enjoy eternal life in the presence of the Creator of the universe  who loves me so profoundly that I don’t think I comprehend a fraction of the joy that He has planned for me. Therefore, I choose I’ll Fly Away, an hymn written in 1929 by Alfred E. Brumley. The heart of the message is moving from this troubled life into the presence of God.

There are probably other videos that are more to my liking, but this one will suffice for today. Interesting enough, many performers may not believe in the gospel that inspired the message of the song, but they sing it nonetheless and I presume that is because the hope that is infused in the song is infectious whether you believe what it says or not.

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In lighter news…

The world will be coming to an end this Saturday morning just before six o’clock.

New York Man Spends Life Savings Ahead of May 21 Doomsday, – Sent via the FOX News Android App. Check out the FOX News Android application. To learn more and download the app, go to

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