Monday, August 31, 2009

Kids say the darndest things!


3-year-old Reese:
'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen.'
A little boy was overheard praying: 'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'
After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'
One particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'
A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. 'If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, ' Ryan , you be Jesus !'
A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' 'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'


Hope you have had a nice Summer!

After the Summer break, the CUCC Forum resumes this Sunday, Sept. 6, and we hope you will participate in the programs.

The September schedule:

September 6 – Cy King, “The Peace Movement: A Little History”

September 13 – Chris Fitzsimon, “The NC Budget: Realities & Inequities"

September 20 – Health Care Reform (panel to be announced)

September 27 - Joan McCallister, "Links Program: the needs of our Youth as they transition out of foster care”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crop Walk

CROP Walk is Sunday, October 4

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How does your faith inform your views on health care reform?

1) Pray. The United Church of Christ is calling us to P.U.S.H. - Pray Until Something Happens to bring health care to all Americans.
2) Be a public witness. One opportunity: Health Care Can't Wait rally to support affordable, quality health care for all Americans. This Saturday, August 29, 10:00-11:30am, State Capitol Building. (Look for Gary to join the CUCC contingent.)
3) Sign the Vision Statement for inclusive, affordable, accessible, accountable health care either online or after worship this Sunday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Movie Night: The Lives of Others -- Sept. 18

The acclaimed German film "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen) will kick off the foreign film series beginning this fall at CUCC. Each month beginning in September we'll have a Friday night film. Dates and titles will be announced at least a month in advance and will be posted under "Upcoming Events" on the front page of the church website, as well as in the newsletter and on the News and Chat blog. All movies will begin at 7:30 in the Fellowship Hall.

"The Lives of Others" is set in the 1980s in East Berlin and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2007. This is a remarkably redemptive and moving film. Come and enjoy it with others.

This film series is a project of the Welcome, Fellowship, and Growth Ministry. The purpose of the series is fun and fellowship. The series will include films from Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Hungary, China, and South Africa.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Health Care Reform

Interesting posts on health care reform. Thought I'd weigh in.
I am a free market democrat and so I am opposed to a government plan. But I am in favor of universal coverage. How can this be done?

Right now there is no free market for health insurance. I am self employed and I basically have one choice - blue cross advantage. If I was a large employer, then I would have options. But for individuals there is not a well-functioning market.
In addition, there would not be a free market for health insurance even if I worked for someone else. Of all the jobs I've had over the years, my employer has only offered me one and only one health care option (I don't count an adjustment in the deductible as "choice"). Want a different health insurance plan? Then you must change jobs!
Even further, if on my present plan I decide to "choose" my doctor, and they are on my plan - then I pay through the nose (retail). So the insurance company determines who my doctors are.

No free market for coverage individually. No free market for coverage at employers. No free choice of doctors. That is what we have now. (And the right keeps saying they want free choice and not socialism - I just don't understand the logic).

But the government is not the answer. They don't know health care any more than they know how to make automobiles. Stick with what you know. I don't do brain surgery. The government shouldn't do health care.

The answer is to decouple health insurance from employment.
Create a free market for insurance.

Then require everyone to have coverage. (which also means no one can be turned down). This is the fundamental problem - spreading the risk. By having it employment based, we have lots of little tiny pools of risk. But spread the risk over 300 million people and insurance starts to look like actual insurance. You would of course need to have a fund for those who cannot afford it as we have now under medicaid.

I would not only apply this to the private sector. The public sector - including the military - will be required to get their own insurance on the free market.

Free market for insurance. Everyone is covered. No single payer. No government doctors. Case closed.

(p.s. Another "slightly unrealistic" solutions would be to have a "fat tax" where people pay for coverage based on their physical weight. Except perhaps smoking, isn't that the most behavior-based, changeable, controllable factor affecting the cost of everyone's health care? Pay by the pound and watch obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and health care costs all drop precipitously.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

More local folks sound off on healthcare reform

When I wrote yesterday's post Musings on healthcare reform, I thought I was out of the mainstream. Today I wake up and see that others are thinking more or less the same thing. So maybe there's a groundswell here.

Today's If only we had to keep costs in mind column in the N&O is written by a local emergency room physician. While strongly supportive of reform, he starts out with ...

I'm furious with President Barack Obama. When he got elected last fall, I thought we finally had a leader who was willing to tell us the truth about health care: It's just like everything else in life. If we want meaningful reform, we have to realize that we can't all have everything we want, at any hour of the day or night, always paid for by somebody else.

Don't get me wrong. I think universal coverage is an idea whose time has come, within limits. In a wealthy advanced society like ours (current economic woes notwithstanding) everyone must have access to some essential set of services. We can argue about what that basket should include, but basic health care for everyone must be a right in any just and fair society. Our current exclusion of one-sixth of our population is an embarrassment.

And right beside that piece is one written by a professor at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy called We simply must spend less. In his piece he observes ...

The "bad" bad news is that we say we want to save money, but then we are horrified when we realize that saving money means actually spending less (especially if it affects us and not "them"). All of the approaches noted above mean that less money will flow through the system, thereby reducing someone's income and reducing the amount of care that someone receives. The biggest roadblock to reducing costs is not technical, and it is not the politicians. It is "we the people."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If you support a public option for health insurance ...

Here are two websites where you can sign a petition in support of a public option for health insurance ...

Musing on Healthcare Reform ...

I listened to all of the healthcare conference call yesterday. It left me with the impression that I've been developing for quite some time. There's not going to be any healthcare reform this year, and probably the best thing we can hope for at this time is no bill at all from Congress. If anything resembling the bill that's now festering in Congress passes, we're going to take longer to recover from its ramifications than will be required to start all over again on a reform effort at some point in the future.

You see, my friends, what is emerging from all this is the sad fact that the problem is us. It's not the President, it's not Congress, it's not the insurance industry, and it's not the pharmaceutical companies. It's us, the American people. And by that I mean that what we say we want isn't attainable.

Now admittedly part of the problem is the brokenness of political institutions. (How long has it been since Congress actually did something constructive as opposed to diddling around the edges with "feel good" legislation?) But the other part of the problem is that the wish list for healthcare reform which has been endorsed by President Obama and echoed widely elsewhere is mathematically impossible. The numbers just don't add up.

Here's what I'm hearing when I piece together all the speeches yesterday:
  • universal healthcare
  • a single-tiered system with no limits on access or procedures
  • no "discrimination" in insurance, i.e. everyone gets insurance at the same cost no matter what the person's health
  • no rise in premiums that people are currently paying
  • everybody gets to keep their present insurance if they like it
  • no "death panels" to decide whether an end-of-life patient qualifies for every conceivable treatment that could possibly work
  • no changes to Medicare coverage
There's something uniquely American about this wish list. It's egalitarianism run amok. Other countries don't engage in this kind of wishful thinking.

We've become a society that loves the "blame game." In the conference call yesterday, one of the speakers lamented a friend or relative who had died from brain cancer that had spread to many organs. The speaker said matter-of-factly that the acquaintance died because the insurance company denied treatment in a timely fashion. No, friends, the patient died of cancer. The insurance company may have behaved outrageously, and the delay in treatment may (or may not) have been a factor in the death. But death does happen, and our fantasy that every death is preventable if we just seek out the proper treatment is one of the main reasons that end-of-life healthcare costs in the U.S. dwarfs that of other countries.

Often we hear it said, "If other countries like Canada and the UK can have universal health care, why can't we?" Well, we of course could have a system like the UK or Canada has, but that doesn't match our wish list. While in the UK last spring I observed that every subway car in London is plastered with ads for private health insurance. The private system runs alongside the public system. It's a much better system than we have in the U.S., but it's a tiered system. The people who buy into the private system get access to care that isn't available to people only in the public system. And that doesn't fit our national myth.

I think the system in the UK is superior to what we have now in the U.S. But to get from here to there, we have to give up some of the things on our wish list. My own opinion is that the most feasible approach is to forego changing the private system and instead build tax-paid "almost free" clinics alongside. Doctors would be on salary, and paperwork would be reduced dramatically. Yes, it would be costly, and yes there would have to be new taxes of some sort to pay for it. But the critics are right in that there's no such thing as a free lunch. And there's something in this for everybody. For the uninsured, it would provide basic medical coverage at minimal cost. And taking the uninsured out of our emergency rooms would benefit hospitals, free up emergency rooms for actually dealing with medical emergencies, and reduce hospital costs for everyone else.

When government lies to the people it's usually because the people don't want to hear the truth. That's just as true in the present healthcare debate as it was with the Iraq war. We didn't want to be told that victory in Iraq would have huge social or financial costs. We even now don't want to be told that we can't clean up the environment while maintaining dirt cheap gasoline prices. (So our government fumbles along trying to have it both ways.) And we don't want to be told that we can't have everything on our wish list as far as healthcare reform is concerned.

Read the excellent article by Bob Herbert of the NY Times if you haven't already. It appeared in the N&O today, but I saw it in the NY Times yesterday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care Reform

(submitted by Jim Smith)

This is from a friend of mine who has a lot of knowledge of the healthcare system and who I respect tremendously.

I wanted to send you all this forward from The Institute for Healthcare Improvement. I have been involved with IHI for the last decade or so and they have made significant strides in enhancing the quality of care in the US. This particular article from yesterday highlights the success of multiple communities who have reduced the escalation in Medicare Costs through regional assessment of practice patterns and the restructuring of healthcare delivery in accordance with need.

The President's agenda includes enhanced incentives to embrace the adoption of health information technology, provide coordinated care and assess health outcomes. The reasoning behind these initiatives is due to the overwhelming evidence that persons who are treated within the structure of a Medical Home Model where Mistakes are Minimized, have healthier lives and spend less money on healthcare. The folks that are opposed to our agenda don't know it but they are opposing physician visits where their doctors and other providers will actually be reimbursed to spend more time with them addressing their health needs.

These same people are also unaware that the high number of MRI's in the US is less associated with increased pathology rates than fear of malpractice lawsuits.

The communities in our own nation that have accomplished such significant improvements have all adopted a multi-prong approach to healthcare including: Reestablishing the primary care physician relationship, reforming the methods used to assess the quality and cost of healthcare at a local level and investing in technology. All of this coupled with incentives to do the right thing, provide the right care at the right place at the right time.

Please see the article below which is data driven and concise. If we can somehow communicate these successes to the opposition in addition to our accurate interpretation of the Bill, we might actually change some minds. Many who do not change their minds are -in my opinion- using the healthcare reform issue as an excuse to disagree with the current Administration due to many other conflicting issues that we cannot sort out in this debate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

World Council of Churches visit to the DRC

This press release on the Living Letters trip gives info on work of the churches outside of the eastern conflict area. I appreciated widening my understanding of the background and focus of some of the work which would be supported by our money via Global Ministries.

The WCC site also has a paragraph on the history of some of the churches in DRC (including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) affiliate) as well as a list of the WCC connected denominations there. This is the best description I've seen anywhere.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Grandnephew

Jo and I are pleased to announce a new grandnephew (the first after 4 grandnieces). Born to Niko and Shara in Peekskill NY this morning. No name yet. Birth was at home with help of a midwife.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Info on Church School

Fall Church School Begins August 23

All 5th-12th graders are invited to leave worship with the children, after the children's message, for church school every Sunday, except for the first Sunday of each month. First Sundays, we do not hold church school classes, and we encourage all 5th-12th graders to attend worship, and either sit together, or with their families. There are rare exceptions to this pattern, advance notice will be given. One such Sunday is September 27, which is Arts in Worship Sunday; all 5th-12th graders will remain in the sanctuary for this creative worship experience.

5th-12th grade church school Sundays break down as follows...
  • Some Sundays, classes combine for Stand Up for Your Rights curriculum led by Santi Matthews, upstairs in the Pilgrim House, otherwise...
  • 5th and 6th graders form the Journey class, led by Santi Matthews: Beloved Community curriculum: Pilgrim House
  • 7th-9th graders form the Confirmation class, led by Sue Cottle and Mike Evans: Confirmation curriculum: Bradow and/or Hoffman Rooms
  • 10th-12th graders form the Leaders class, led by Maggie Stoddard: Faith Experiences in Time of Transition: Youth Room
Youth will be escorted from the narthex to their appropriate classes by their teachers. After worship, to avoid confusion, parents are asked to meet their 5-12 graders in the Fellowship Hall.

Youth Group

The CUCC Youth Group is comprised of 7th-12th graders (5th-6th graders are invited to join us every 5th Sunday, and for special event planning). The group is led by Santi Matthews. Youth meet to live out our faith by getting together for meals, service projects, retreats, worship planning, lock-ins, games, and fun. We will meet regularly this year every 2nd and 3rd Sunday from 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. for lunch and activities, and at other times as planned. On Sunday, September 13, we'll join the church wide Welcome Back Sunday Potluck, and then play four square and Uno, and on September 20, we'll share a youth lunch and activity.

Calendar Items:
  • August and September church school for 5th-12th graders:
  • August 23 and 30: 5th-12th Graders meet together for Stand Up For Your Rights curriculum.
  • Sept. 6: There is no church school for 5th-12th graders; Join together in worship.
  • September 13 and 20: Journey, Confirmation, and Leaders classes will meet.
  • September 27: There is no church school for 5th-12th graders; join together for Arts in Worship.
Mark your calendars with these two October walks, and then stand up, show up, and walk for the rights of others:
  • Join the Crop Walk, on Sunday, October 4, and walk to take a stand against hunger in our world. Raise awareness and funds for fighting local and international hunger.
  • Join the Walk for Hope, on Sunday, October 11. Promote research and support effective treatment for those who suffer from mental illness. Contact Santi Matthews or Suzzette Roach if you have interest or questions about the Walk for Hope.