Friday, November 28, 2008

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death on Black Friday

A New York Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death on Friday morning as he opened the doors to let shoppers into the store. Reports are saying that even the EMS people who were doing CPR on the guy were getting knocked around as shoppers continued to surge into the place. When the guy died, and they closed the store, people complained about having to leave, arguing that they had been waiting in line for hours.

I work part-time at Target, and had to be there at 6 a.m. when the doors opened.

It was absolute chaos. I knew, of course, that there are hardcore shoppers who want to get up in the middle of the night to go save a few dollars on a piece of cheap plastic, but I had no idea of what the sheer volume of those people would be.

When I arrived at 6 a.m., our entire parking lot (which is reasonably large) was already completely full, including the overflow lot across the main road that I have never seen a car in previously. There were cars parked all along the curbs, up in the grass, and down behind the building where the trucking lanes are.

I had to park at a neighboring strip mall and walk across to the store.

By 6:20 or 6:30, the line at the check-out lanes was stretching from one corner of the store all the way to the opposite corner of the store in the rear. There were probably 200 people just waiting to check out from one of the 14 check lanes. The doesn't count the ones who were still shopping.

There wasn't necessarily any violence or anything like that, but plenty of frustrated people, people pushing their way through the crowds, people cutting in front of you, etc., etc. No one seemed particularly festive or pleasant. Which, of course, simply begs the question of why the FUCK they are there in the wee hours of the morning in the first place.

It's a strange mob-like mentality. I wouldn't be out at a place like that even if everything on the shelves was 100% free. It's just not worth the headache and hassle. And it certainly isn't worth it to save 20 or 30 bucks on some item.

But when you look at it from a sociological perspective, I don't think it's really about the cost savings. It's simply some sort of mob mentality that causes people to go out to shop in the wee hours of the morning simply because that's what you're SUPPOSED to do. No one knows why they are so compelled to go through all that hassle just to save a few dollars, but they just do it anyway.

When gas prices were 3 and 4 bucks a gallon, local gas stations would occasionally run a special where they'd drop their prices to 1.99 or even 2.50 for a few hours. Invariably, they would have lines stretching well out into the main road, causing enormous traffic problems. People would be in line for this gas for an hour. And for what? So they could save 10 or 12 bucks on a tank of gas? Is that really going to make a difference in whether you are able to pay your bills that month? But it's not about the savings, it's just mob mentality.

That's what Black Friday is too. And this Wal-Mart fiasco illustrates it perfectly.

The world is broken.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Musings from the world of Radiology

Well, the quarter is almost over, and I only have one more week left of rotations this year. We get next week off completely from school, and then I will have a week of rotations after that, then a final on the following Monday.

At that point, I will have enough clinical and classroom hours, in addition to clinical competencies, to begin working as a student radiographer in hospitals. A student radiographer is essentially just an X-ray tech who has completed enough schooling to get a state license to practice. So I am currently in the process of applying for part-time RT jobs in the hopes of being able to land a position somewhere, so I can work in the field for the next year as I finish my studies.

I have a phone interview with Good Samaritan at 2 p.m. today.

I started working at Target in August, and the new quarter began in mid-September. Since that time, I've only had 4 days completely off of work. I basically work 7 days a week between classes, clinicals, and Target. Since I'm off school next week, however, I'll have a few days off because I'm also off work from Target on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We are going up to Cincinnati for those 3 days for Thanksgiving. I have to be back for work at Target at 6 a.m. on Friday. That should be a barrel of laughs. The weekends have already started being zoo-like at Target, and since I am one of the better employees, they always put me in the Toys section, since that's the busiest. I can't imagine what it will be like the day after Thanksgiving.

I did two clinical rotations this quarter, one at Kentucky Clinic - which is the orthopedic and diagnostic clinic appended to UK Hospital - and the other at St. Joseph-Berea hospital, which is part of the St. Joe network.

I really loved it at Kentucky Clinic. It was busy and challenging, and they do all the diagnostic exams for Kentucky's basketball and football teams. So I saw several prominent athletes while I was there. I also got my first taste of trauma radiography, as we had several patients who had been in horrific motorcycle wrecks. One patient literally had pretty much every major bone in her body broken. Both legs, both arms, shoulders, wrists, pelvis, etc. She was lucky to be alive.

Another patient I saw there had a severely broken pelvis and femur from a motorcycle accident, and when she came in, she was quite delirious on pain medication. We weren't able to really communicate with her, but it was obvious that she was hot, because she kept throwing off her gown, which was more or less just covering her like a blanket. She was completely naked underneath, and we ended up just having to X-ray her with her laying there on the bed in the buff. That was definitely an interesting experience. There were two other techs - both women - in the room with me at the time.

Berea took me some time to get used to, but I managed to find a way to fit in there with the staff. I don't think I would want to work at a small hospital like that, but it has been okay, and there are a few people there that I really enjoy laughing with. Most of the staff are older than me and have been working in this field for a long time, so they have been a good help in terms of teaching me tricks and techniques. I haven't seen too much there that is off-the-wall, although we did have one patient come in with the tip of his finger sliced off. The paramedic came in with the finger in a bag of water. I've also gotten to observe and assist with a number of fluoro cases, including a barium enema - which I had never seen before. That involves injecting contrast through a rectal tip into the colon in order to view it fluroscopically. As the tech, I'll pretty much be the one who has to insert the tip, and we've already been taught how to do it, practicing on dummy rear-ends in class. I didn't tip the patient in question at the hospital, but I watched the other tech do it, and aside from being a very awkward thing to do, it doesn't look like it's very hard. The worst thing, from what I understand, is when the patient is unable to hold the contrast in, and it either leaks or explodes - as the case may be - out of the rectum, and the tech is left to clean up the mess. Fun times.

Fortunately, those kinds of exams are not nearly as common now as they once were. They've been replaced by things like CT and ultrasound. They do a lot of CT's at the hospital, so I've gotten to observe those quite a bit and assit with patients. I want to eventually get certified in CT, and possibly MRI, because the pay scale is higher for both those modalities. From what I can tell of CT, it appears to be quite simple. Mostly just computer work, although you do have to frequently start I.V.'s. That's something I've already practiced and been taught to do as well, although I haven't actually done one yet on a real patient - only volunteers at school.

I'm looking forward to doing a rotation next quarter at UK hospital on the second shift. UK is one of (I think) only two Level 1 Trauma Centers in Kentucky, so needless to say, they are very busy and see just about everything imaginable there. I've heard stories of X-raying corpses for autopsies (although I've been told they don't do autopsies at UK anymore) and X-raying detached body parts. One tech told me how she was doing a clinical at UK and got an order in for a forearm in the ER. She went down to the patient's room, expecting to do a basic forearm X-ray, and when she got to the room it was, literally, a forearm. And nothing else. The patient had already been taken to surgery and they were wanting an X-ray of the detached arm in order to try to reattach it. The arm was sitting there in a bucket of ice.

I know that's disturbing and bothersome, but I'm kind of excited about getting to experience all the realities of a Level 1 trauma center. A lot of people say they don't like it, but I think that it will be something I enjoy. One thing I have not liked about some of the places I have been clinically is that everything is so routine, and there is frequently a lot of downtime. I want to work somewhere where there's always something new and unexpected happening, and it is always busy. Maybe I'll do my rotation there and hate it, but I expect to really enjoy it. There's a reason that medical dramas are always popular on T.V. - it's because working in an E.R. is unique and exciting, and there is a lot of drama involved with that kind of work. You see things on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis that most people never see in their lifetime (if they're lucky!).

So that's pretty much that. Here's to hoping that something positive comes out of this phone interview I have in half an hour.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Gillispie Wildcats: Back in the Saddle Again

Remember this blog post from March? Blame the Fans. In it, I called Billy Gillispie a "travesty" and berated the fans of the University of Kentucky for running Tubby Smith out of town. I later recanted a bit from that position, but I continued in my assertion that Gillispie's first year was a let down and a failure.

"Just wait until next year when he's got his own recruits," everyone assured me.

Last year, Gillispie's Wildcats lost their second game of the season to a no-name program called Gardner-Webb. This year, they were playing VMI in their first game - VMI, a team who went 14-15 last year, and according to the commentators of the game, the school has not won its first game of the season in "years."

Well, the Gillispie Wildcats blew it again. Down by 21 in the first half, 10 at halftime, and as many as 23 in the second half, they ended up losing by about 7 or 8 points. They gave up 111 points to this team. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN POINTS!!! Granted, they made a remarkable comeback in the second half and actually took the lead for a few seconds with about 4 minutes left, but that's where their steam gave out. That was also the only time in the entire game that they actually had a lead.

The whole game was just sloppy, with poor defense, streaky and inconsistent shooting, and an insane number of turnovers. Kentucky had 23, I believe, in the first half alone.

It's significant to point out that VMI has not beaten a major conference team in about 5 years. 5 years.

Welcome to Gillispie ChokeBall, Year Two. Maybe we just need to wait until his THIRD year, right?

The 2008 Presidential Campaign

The 2008 presidential campaign is now officially part of the history books, and I wanted to take some time to write some reflections and thoughts.

I was intimately involved in this campaign probably more than in any other election year of my adulthood. I became a “poll junkie,” following the polls on a daily basis starting at the end of August, all the way up through election day. Since I felt very strongly about my candidate of choice – Barack Obama – following the polls was a way that I was able to soothe my fears about another Republican presidential victory. I still distinctly remember the depression and gloominess I felt after Bush won in 2000 and 2004, and I dreaded going through that again this year. Since the polls were generally in Obama’s favor throughout the election season, following them made me feel better. Needless to say, I was happy to discover that they ended up being quite accurate in predicting the winner of the election.

In hindsight, I can say that I knew Obama had a significantly good chance of winning the election as far back as mid-September. At that time, Obama already held a lead in enough states to win the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. He had held those states, in fact, since the time I started following the polls in August. I knew by mid-September, however, that Obama would very likely win the election because of how McCain’s “post-convention bump” played out.

In every presidential election, the candidates generally see a boost in the polls following their respective conventions. This is due primarily to the media attention surrounding each convention. If a candidate does not see a statistically significant boost in the polls following his/her convention, the proverbial shit begins to hit the fan. An insignificant post-convention bump – or worse, no bump at all – is equivalent to a flatline on an EKG machine.

Obama got the kind of post-convention bump that would be expected, so I felt good about that. However, I was troubled, initially, when McCain’s post-convention bump proved to be quite significant – more so than Obama’s had been. McCain’s ratings went up by 6 or 7 percentage points, and in several national polls, McCain actually took a 1-2% lead over Obama – the first time that McCain had led in national polls. This significant boost in the polls was no doubt related to his unprecedented choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate – people were interested in finding out what she was all about, so the media attention was quite large. As a result, McCain’s polling numbers shot up.

However, while it’s true that most candidates see a bump in their favor following their convention, that bump always levels out after a few weeks. 2008 was no different, and within several weeks of the Republican National Convention (which took place about a week after the Democratic National Convention), McCain’s numbers came back down and Obama regained the lead in most national polls.

Despite all of this, however, I knew that Obama had a significant chance of winning simply because of how McCain’s post-convention boost played out. Even at the height of his bump – in mid-September – McCain never overtook Obama’s lead in any of the states that Obama had already been leading in. Recall my earlier statement that as early as August Obama already had enough states polling in his favor to win the electoral vote. Even when McCain’s post-convention bump was at its pinnacle, and he was leading in most national polls, none of those Obama states flipped to McCain. Obama’s lead narrowed in several of those states, but none actually flipped into McCain’s corner. Essentially, McCain’s post-convention bump was felt most strongly in states that were already in McCain’s corner. That was the reason why McCain’s national numbers went up – he simply increased his lead in the states where he was already leading.

When I observed this in the polls, I knew that Obama had a very good chance of winning. If McCain couldn’t flip any blue states to red, even with his significant post-convention bump, then he was going to have a very hard time winning the election. I began saying that unless Obama faltered in the debates, or unless some unforeseen scandal broke in the last weeks of the campaign, Obama was going to win.

A lot of people were worried in the last few weeks about battleground states and the so-called Bradley Effect. The battleground states this year comprised Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Florida (depending on which pundit you were listening to, this list might have been slightly expanded or contracted). However, I felt fairly confident that two of those states were not actually battleground states – Indiana and Pennsylvania. Although Indiana flipped from red to blue in the fallout of the economic crisis, I believed that those numbers were anomalous, and that Indiana would end up going easily for McCain – I predicted a 3 or 4 point victory for McCain there. That proved to be the only state that I was dead wrong about. Indiana, as we know now, went with Obama by about 25,000 votes. That’s statistically very small, but still a far cry from the 3-4 percentage point win that I expected McCain to have.

Pennsylvania was the other battleground state that I did not believe was a battleground state, and I was proven correct on that assumption. Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania was consistently in the 9-10 point range, and never fell significantly below that. I still don’t fully understand why McCain spent so much time, effort, and money there. I suppose he believed that he absolutely had to win Pennsylvania, so it didn’t matter what the polls said – he had to try. But I never believed that he had any chance at all of winning Pennsylvania, and that proved to be true: Obama won the state by about 700,000 votes, or 11 percentage points – which is exactly what the polls had predicted all along.

The other battleground states went primarily for Obama. The only battleground he lost was Missouri, and he only lost there by about 5,000 votes, or a few tenths of a percentage point. In fact, Missouri has not yet been officially called. They are doing recounts there, and it will not be made official until November 18th. I had predicted a Missouri win for Obama, so I was wrong on that one as well, however, I knew that no matter who won, it would be very close. The same was true for North Carolina – I predicted a McCain win there, but knew it would be close regardless. Overall, I accurately predicted 47 of the 50 states, and only seriously missed on one (the aforementioned Indiana).

The Missouri situation is an interesting one because Missouri has traditionally had the best “record” in presidential elections among the 50 states. From 1904 to 2004 – a period of 100 years – Missouri only went with the losing candidate one time, that being in 1956. And in that year, Adlai Stevenson won Missouri by about 2/10ths of 1 percent over Harry Truman – about the same amount that McCain won in this year’s election. So Missouri has now missed twice in the last 100 years, and both times the election there has been won by just a hair. What is perhaps more significant is that Missouri has voted for every Democratic president in U.S. history – until this year. Obama will be the first Democratic president who did not carry Missouri. Similarly, every single time in U.S. history that Missouri has voted for a Republican, that Republican has won the White House. McCain becomes the first Republican to carry Missouri but not win the presidency.

As for the aforementioned Bradley Effect, I accurately predicted (yay me) that it would not have any impact on the election. The Bradley Effect is a political theory that centers on latent racism. It came into being as a result of a 1982 gubernatorial election in California. In that year, a black candidate named Tom Bradley was leading in the California governor’s race by about 9 points going into election day. However, Bradley ended up losing the election by a very slim margin. One of the theories put forth to explain this unexpected loss was that people told pollsters they would vote for Bradley – a black candidate – when in reality they had no intention of actually voting for him. Presumably these voters lied to pollsters because they did not want to seem racist.

From the time that I first heard about this theory, I dismissed it. There were several reasons for this. First, I was not convinced that latent racism was truly the reason Bradley had lost that election. Perhaps there were other issues that simply caused people to change their minds in the final few days before the election. Perhaps voter turnout among those who supported Bradley was lower than expected. Perhaps polling simply wasn’t as accurate in 1982 as it is today. Secondly, I did not believe that racism – even if it did play a role in the California gubernatorial election of 1982 – would play such a significant role in a 2008 presidential election. In 1982, the country was less than 30 years removed from the segregation era. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was only 18 years old. Racism was still much more prominent in that time period than it is today. That’s not to say that racism isn’t still alive and well, but it had a much more prominent place in society at that time than it does now. I simply could not believe that any significant portion of the American public would tell pollsters they were voting for Obama, when in fact they intended to vote for McCain. There was no justifiable reason to assume that any significant portion of the voting public would lie about their choice simply because of latent racism. Many racists are not ashamed to say they wouldn’t vote for a black candidate, and even those who wouldn’t openly admit to being racist would simply come up with other reasons to explain why they supported the white candidate.

And, of course, as it turned out, the Bradley Effect had no “effect” at all. In fact, depending on which polls you followed, Obama actually did even better than many polls predicted. For instance, in Tennessee – where the poll averages showed McCain with a 20-25% lead – McCain ended up winning by only a 15% margin. That’s still a significant victory, but nowhere near what the polls implied. The Bradley Effect simply does not exist.

One final note on the electoral vote:

There are two states that split up their electoral votes – Maine and Nebraska. Instead of giving all their electoral votes to whoever wins the state, they split their electoral votes by district. Thus, if a candidate loses the general election in these states, but manages to win in one district or another, that candidate will get the one electoral vote that goes for that district. However, this had actually never occurred prior to 2008 – no one had ever won the general election in either state without also winning all the electoral districts. This year, however, both candidates had campaigned in these states in an effort to “steal” one of the electoral votes, should the national electoral race end in a tie. Nebraska was solidly red, and Maine was solidly blue, but both states had districts that were either more liberal or more conservative than the remainder of the state. As it turned out, Obama managed to achieve his goal in Nebraska – while the state itself went solidly for McCain, the Omaha electoral district (which is the only true “urban” district in the state) went for Obama. Thus, Obama actually won one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes. Considering the conservative slant of the state at large, it is likely that the state legislature may change its rules in the wake of losing an electoral vote to Obama. Maine, as predicted, went completely blue, and McCain did not win any of its electoral votes.

This election has certainly made history in a variety of ways. We all know that Obama has become the first black person ever elected to the presidency of the United States. However, even if Obama were white, this would still be an election year for the ages. Consider the following historic-making aspects of this election – which I have come up with just off the top of my head:

1. The first black person ever nominated for the presidency by a major party.
2. The first black person ever elected to the presidency.
3. The first female candidate on the Republican presidential ticket.
4. The first major party primary that came down to a choice between either a black person or a woman.
5. The first electoral vote “split” in a state that splits its electoral votes (Nebraska).
6. The most money ever raised in a presidential campaign.
7. Only the second time in 100 years that Missouri has voted for the losing candidate.
8. The first time ever that a Democrat has won the White House without carrying Missouri.
9. The first time ever that a Republican has carried Missouri and not won the presidency.
10. The first time Kentucky has chosen the wrong candidate in a presidential election since 1960.
11. The first time a Democrat has won 50% or more of the popular vote since 1976.
12. The first time since 1968 that neither candidate was a sitting president or a sitting vice-president.
13. The first time since 1952 that neither candidate had ever been on a previous presidential ticket.
14. The first Alaskan on a major party ticket.

Those are 13 different ways – just off the top of my head – that this election has made history. Those of us who experienced it – regardless of who we voted for – are privileged to have lived through such a history-making campaign. Without question, the 2008 presidential campaign will be one that is studied and evaluated for years to come. The election of America’s first black president will make 2008 a year that future generations of schoolchildren will be forced to memorize in their history and social studies classes.

It was truly an election for the history books.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A few comments about the "issues"

1) Abortion: I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. I support a woman's right to have an abortion if that's what she chooses to do, but I would never personally encourage a woman to have an abortion for birth control reasons. I suport a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy that has put her own life or health in danger, or in cases where the fetus is malformed or has serious genetic anomolies.

However, I cannot support late term abortions, because even though some of these procedures can be performed humanely (as opposed to, say, partial birth abortion), I see no reason why a woman in the 7th month or later should not have already made up her mind about whether or not to abort. My personal opinion is that the fetus becomes a viable human being when it reaches the stage where it could live outside it's mother's body. To me, aborting a baby after that time is akin to murder. Even in cases of medical necessity, there is no reason why the baby could not be taken intact by C-section, as opposed to aborted in the womb. The baby could then be put up for adoption. I could only support late term abortions in rare cases where the medical situation made C-section impossible, and the mother's life or health was in danger from the pregnancy or labor.

In cases of rape and incest, I support a woman terminating such a prenancy.

2) Healthcare: Strongly related to the abortion issue is the issue of healthcare. 40 million Americans (about 15%) don't have any health insurance at all. Twice that many are underinsured, making the total of underinsured and uninsured people in this country near the 50% mark, or 1 in 2. Mothers unquestionably will sometimes choose abortion simply because they can't afford the doctor bills. If we are going to have a consistent view in this country of the sanctity of life, we MUST do something about our healthcare crisis. Part of the government's constitutionally-mandated responsiblities is to provide for the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for its citizens. If ensuring that all Americans have affordable access to good medical care does not fall under the umbrella of "life," then I don't know what does.

It is significant to point out that the United States is the only major developed, industrialized country on earth with no federal health insurance plan. Other countries that have put such a plan in place have not descended into socialism, and the doctors and nurses and healthcare workers have not been sent to the poor house because they can't make money anymore. Suggesting that a federal health insurance option is like "socialized medicine" is not only a case of political spin, it's an outright lie. People who can afford good private health insurance should be able to continue to get that. Those who can't should have the option to have federal health insurance. Such a plan would require strong checks and balances and strong oversight to ensure it wasn't taken advantage of to the degredation of hardworking people.

3) Death Penalty: I am opposed to the death penalty, because I believe that our country should be focusing on the sanctity of life, not ending life. With it being known beyond a shadow of a doubt that innocent people have been executed, and knowing that there is no way to ever know with absolute certainty that a person committed a crime they have been concvited of, I do not believe any government should have the power to put people to death. But even if we could somehow be 100% certain that a criminal had committed a certain crime, I still would not support the death penalty, because I do not believe that any civilized government should have the power to kill people, for any reason. The country should be focused more on ending poverty, and thereby reducing crime, rather than worrying about which criminals to put to death. Countries - such as Japan - which have extremely low poverty rates, also have extremely low crime rates, and very little murder. There's a lesson to be learned there.

And that doesn't even address the issue of the huge state expense associated with all the judicial processes that are involved in death penalty cases. It's far more expensive to keep someone on death row than to simply incarcerate them for life. Taxes could probably be lowered across the board just by eliminating the death penalty (that's probably an overstatement, but you get the point).

4) Homosexuality: I don't believe homosexuality is a sin, but I do believe it is a "sin" to discriminate against homosexuals by disallowing them the same rights as married people. Marriage ceremonies in churches are just that - ceremonies. They are not legally binding. The thing that makes a marriage legally binding is the civil union - the certificate of marriage that the government gives you. Religious views on homosexuality should have no bearing on the government's choice about who can and can't have a civil union. Denying gays the right to get legally married is simple discrimination. And amending the constituion - either of a specific state or the U.S. constituion - to deny gay marriage is simply a case of legalizing discriminatory practices. Whether a constitution is amended or not, denying gays the same rights as straights is discriminatory. It can't be anything else.

Christians who are opposed to gay marriage need to recognize that "marriage" is a government contract, not a holy union. The church is what makes it a holy union, but that's only if the couple wants to have a ceremony in a church. There is certainy nothing requiring two people to have a church ceremony. Suggesting gays can't get married would be like saying atheists can't get married. Homosexuals are living in sin, so they can't have a holy union, and atheists don't believe in God, so they can't have a holy union either. But do I hear any Christians suggesting atheists shouldn't be allowed to have a government conract of marriage? Of course not, because that would be ridiculous. But it's no less ridiculous than saying two gay people can't get married.

Just because a Christian may not approve of the choices gays make, does not give those Christians the right to discriminate against gays, any more than they have a right to discriminate against atheists, Jews, Muslims, or Rastafarians. Those people aren't going to have a marriage ceremony in a Christian church either, but they still are going to have a government certificate of marriage. Why should gays be excluded from that? It's simple discrimination.

5) God: I believe in God, and I follow and attempt to emulate the life and teachings of Jesus as they were remembered and creatively told in the New Testament. I do not, however, believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. I believe it is a significantly human text, describing ways in which ancient Jews attempted to connect and unify with God. What I take from the New Testament are the teachings about love, compassion, kindness, and humility, and the warnings against greed and selfishness. I believe the overpowering message of the New Testament is about abundant life in the here and now, more so than about anything that happens after death.

It's those warnings against greed and selfishness that I think far too many Chrisitans either ignore outright, or only give blithe lipservice to. Jesus talked about greed and money more than just about any other topic. He warned continually about the dangers of greed, and made it clear that anyone who pursues wealth and material possessions is not living in union with God. You can't serve both God and money, Jesus is recorded as saying. That's why I find it ironic when I pass churches on Sunday morning and see them filled with luxury automobiles, decorated with fancy statues and expensive ornamentations, and populated largely by upper middle class people in expensive clothes. Our entire social system is built on the pursuit of wealth - something Jesus assured us was a direct road toward disunity with God. Far too many Christians conveniently ignore that.

We like to think that we are living a Christ-like life (and I include myself in this), but most all of us are actually deeply involved in the pursuit of wealth, and this keeps us from really living like Jesus told us to live.

And if we're living in pursuit of wealth, then we are living in sin, and therefore is it reasonable to say we're any different than the abortion doctors and homosexuals? Jesus never mentioned abortion or homosexuality, but he sure did talk a lot about greed and money.

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