You think that's air you're breathing now?

Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, is my favorite character in the "Matrix" films.  I prefer the first installment of the trilogy because it's the one where Smith gets to speak his mind.  I'm particularly intrigued by his thoughts on human nature, and there is one point he makes that I think merits consideration in these troubled times:  Is it true that humankind is more virus than mammal, foregoing the virtues of adaptation for the excesses of wanton consumption?

What the Amish can teach us...

Forgiveness.

This has been the powerful coping strategy employed by the Amish of Nickel Mines, Pa., who on October 2nd endured the unimaginable when a stranger to their community invaded a one-room schoolhouse and executed five young girls. The Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman and, with the assistance of a deeply abiding faith, they continue to cling to the hope that in releasing their pain and anguish to God all will eventually be healed.

This heroic response on the part of the Amish community has rightfully been lauded worldwide. It should be held up by Christians everywhere as an example of how those who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus should conduct themselves in such horribly dark circumstances.

In honor of summer...

During the legendary 1918 Red Sox vs. Cubs World Series, The Star-Spangled Banner played during the seventh-inning stretch of one of the Chicago games, for the first time associating the tune with the National Pastime. It quickly became part of baseball tradition long before ascending to the status of U.S. National Anthem in 1931. To this day many baseball fans believe that the last two words of the anthem are, "Play ball!"

When fans hear the rousing bars that make them instinctively stand to attention, they remove their caps and gaze upon the Stars and Stripes. But only some attempt to sing along with the honored vocalist. In spite of hearing the song performed hundreds of times, few can recall the words. Cumbersome verse and a tune that's not catchy are typically blamed, but others claim that the lyrics simply don't speak to modern American sensibilities. The words say nothing of justice, equality, or the splendor of the land. They don't move us, so we don't remember them.