10-24-2019 Letters and Commentary

Watch out for the ghoulies Have you ever noticed that many ghoulies, zombies and other scary persona speak with British accents? That’s been my observation. Motion-sensitive Halloween displays have British accents. What’s with that? Are all zombies British? Or do they become British when they become zombies? Would French zombies speak in English accents? These are vexing questions. I know one thing for sure Montreal zombies don’t speak with English accents! Any English zombies in Montreal will have to learn to speak with French accents if they ever expect to order a meal! This is, of course, a spoof. But consider what our Halloween celebrations reveal about our understanding of true spiritual evil and those beings that, rather than being inventions of Hollywood or of creative toy designers, are real – and very, very dangerous. You know when it’s a really bad time to meet the real demons? When you meet them in the Lake of Fire. That sounds harsh, but our dance with the lighter side of Halloween may lead to a dance of death if we never deal with the reality of our eternal state without Christ. In Mathew 25:41 Jesus warns, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” (NASB) Also, Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (NASB) Now that’s scary stuff! But Jesus, in His death and resurrection provides the solution. In Hebrews 2:14-15 we discover, “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (NASB) So, don’t be afraid of those British zombies. Be afraid of coming judgment without Christ.

Social Security covers disabled children Children are our future — we share our knowledge and talent with them — we pass on our values to them knowing they will share those gifts. Social Security safeguards children all year long, but we’d like to take this opportunity to share information about our programs that provide direct support to children. The latest information available says that in 2018 the Social Security program distributed about $2.7 billion each month to benefit about 4.1 million children on average each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. Those dollars help to provide the necessities of life for family members and help make it possible for those children to complete high school. When a working parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help stabilize the family’s financial future. Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. The Social Security Administration is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is separate from the Social Security program. To qualify for SSI: The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities; and the child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death. If the parents of the child or children have more income or resources than are allowed, then the child or children will not qualify for SSI. You can read more about children’s benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf. Social Security and SSI also covers many chronic illnesses and conditions. The Compassionate Allowances program is a way to quickly identify people with diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet the standards for disability benefits under the Social Security and SSI programs. Thousands of children receive SSI benefits because they have one of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm. Keep in mind, Social Security and SSI are two very distinct and separate programs, and eligibility for each is different. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Social Security is with you and your children throughout your life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow. If you know a family who needs our help, please share these resources with them. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

THE POT STAMPEDE IS ON… I heard my first marijuana ad on the radio Monday, and saw my first on television this past weekend. Of course, the advertisers are pledging customer service, legal compliance, and jobs. The good news is that people are willing to invest in your town. The real good news is that more people are willing to invest in your town, if the town fathers and mothers voted to allow marijuana operations. If the town mothers and fathers nixed the idea (opted out) this past year or so, they may be soon rethinking the benefits of marijuana use and production as a tax revenue producer. Especially when the marijuana operation is attracting their citizens to a business outside town limits when it could have been just as easily located in one of the vacant buildings on their own main street. When the moving dust settles, there could be communities with 2 or 3 marijuana business operations. The way things are shaking out, in a year or two the smaller towns may see some of those operations close. In the bigger towns, it may take more competition and a little more time, but the customer base will reach a saturation point that will mean closure for some businesses. We’ve seen it happen with malls soaking up local business and manpower and then the big corner stores move on to greener pastures, leaving the local mall owner with empty buildings (just like on your main street) and expired tax incentives. And just when your home town has what it wants in marijuana business your congressman will introduce a bill in Washington to decriminalize marijuana and add federal sales taxes to the product. That’s just like the “sin taxes” on alcohol and tobacco. All the above means we are a long way from getting our minds around the use and value of marijuana as a commodity available to all (at a price). The building and opening stampede has just started, it remains to be seen where it will eventually, but inevitably, end up.

OXYMORON… if ever there was a holiday oxymoron, it is wishing someone a Happy Halloween. Kids run door-to-door, yelling Trick or Treat, as they raise their goody bag (pumpkin or Harding’s plastic grocery sack). The young (and future) goblins are usually masked as a super hero, pretty princess, the President (from Nixon to Trump), various homemade concoctions of hobos, monsters, and long dead beauties. This is the only day of the year that you can walk into your local bank with a mask on and not create a robbery alarm. It is also the only night of the year you can run across the street in the middle of the block. The old refrain Trick or Treat has lost much of its meaning. Mostly the kids are interested in a treat and if denied one may run home crying. In the old days (mine), the threat of a trick meant waxing the basement windows and blowing out the candles in the jack-o-lantern. In the small town we lived in 35 years ago, devil’s night was celebrated the night before Halloween, probably a halfhearted attempt to keep the devilry in one place and was easy to clean up. The four corners downtown were roped off. Within the devil square all screaming, yelling, shaving cream, perfume and other such weapons were allowed. Local police and volunteers manned the ring, while dodging missiles of Jello in paper bags and squirts of shaving cream. When the event was shut down, the fire department hosed off the abandoned food items and all the kids went home to bed… probably dreaming of new weaponry for next year. It wasn’t always that way, I think. Hallowe’en was Hallowed Eve, the night before All Souls Day, according to Google …Halloween or Hallowe’en, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed. Meanwhile there are plenty of safe and fun activities near home. See the Halloween Page in this week’s issue for listings of activities.

Honoring all who served