Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Wait (and Weight) of a Long “Good-bye”

“Any bites on your home?”
“How is your mother doing?”
“Any more bites on your home?”
“We’re so happy you have a buyer!”
“Will you be moving closer to your mothers?”
“Has your buyer found a buyer yet?”
“Has your buyer found a new buyer yet?”
“We’re sorry your contract expired in Wooster.”
“We’re so glad you found a new buyer!”

These are some of the inquiries and comments we’ve heard during the past year from a loving and caring community of friends in and around Cedarville during a year of waiting and dealing with health issues.  Whether great or small, the challenges of life are often difficult to keep asking about and telling about; and especially, praying about.  Being surrounded with friends who ask, care, and pray has been a blessing to Abby and I.  We realize that our experience is only a small speck in the larger universe of God’s provision and plan.  After all, people buy and sell homes and face illnesses every day.  However, if you want more of our story, please read on.  We hope it will honor God in spite of our limited maturity and vision.

Abby and I began a period of “redirection” of our lives in August, 2011, following 32 years of teaching at Cedarville University.  We have already explained the goals we have prayerfully established (See Oikonomia, December 23, 2011).  We explained the Priorities we had set toward each other as Partners, in honoring our Parents, in loving our Progeny, and in practicing our Profession through a local church in the community of Wooster, OH.  All of these are to be accomplished through the disciplines of prayer, worship, and service that accompany true faith in God and His Word.  The events that unfolded between August and December, 2011 were an immediate affirmation that God’s hand was in these Priorities to accomplish His purposes.

Abby and I with Mom and daytime-caregiver, Lisa
First, as we explained in Oikonomia, December 23, 2011, Abby’s mom experienced a massive stroke on August 31 within days of my redirection.   This event immediately affirmed to us the rightness of our decision to redirect our energies to each other as Partners, and to our Parents.  Whereas, normally I would be teaching classes, I was now available to drive my Partner back and forth to Canton, OH so that both of us could assist in the care of our beloved Parent, “Mom Moser.”  Through numerous trips between Cedarville where we had listed our home with Irongate Realtors and our caring agent, Jeri Drew, we were able to help Abby’s six sisters in a 24/7 care of Mom.  Mom’s recovery began at Mercy Medical Center, continued at Carroll Health Center, and since December has continued at her home since.  With the help of regular physical therapy, Mom was able to regain  her ability to walk with assistance and to enjoy her family in the warmth of her home. 

However, the physical and emotional rigors of devoting extended time including overnights with Mom in December and January, combined with the holidays and travel to maintain relationships with our Progeny in Michigan, began to take a toll on Abby.   In January, while we were caring for Mom for six days, Abby began to have some symptoms of dizziness and fainting which, at first we attributed to her blood pressure medication (You know, “the side effects in fine print.”).  We soon decided to return to Cedarville and admit her to Greene Memorial in Xenia, OH.  Through this, we learned that she had had at least one stroke, although thankfully less severe than her mom’s stroke.

Once again, we both experienced God’s leading, mercy, and provision through caring health professionals, family, and friends.  A CAT scan revealed a blockage in her vertebral artery in her brain.   Thankfully, Abby’s circulatory system had responded to this blockage by redirecting her blood so that her strokes were less debilitating.  Therefore, Abby’s mobility and speech were not affected by the strokes.  Thanks to God’s healing through the good care of the physicians at Greene Memorial, and both our family physician and our ‘nutrition-friendly, homeopathic doctor in Berlin, OH, she has made remarkable improvement.  Abby now keeps a well disciplined schedule of conventional medications, herbal alternatives, healthy eating, nutritional supplements, and exercise.

Although we had hoped that our home would sell before Christmas so that we could eliminate the 8-hour round trip to Mom’s home in Carroll County, and also the 6-hour round trip to our homeopathic doctor in Berlin, we were satisfied that God’s plan was for us to remain in Cedarville.  Our church and community has had a very important part in our lives and in our children’s lives for over three decades.  At Grace, we have been encouraged the preaching ministries of Paul Jackson, David Graham, and now, Pastor Craig Miller; and, the fellowship of our “Philadelphia Class” led by Merlin and Ruth Ager.

We must also thank God for Cedarville College, now a university; and, for the privilege of working with fine colleagues and students for 32 years.  Though it is not possible to name all of my faculty friends and administrators, I remember with joy my first interview with Cliff Johnson, James T. Jeremiah (now with the Lord), and Paul Dixon.  Later, I participated in the search for Cliff’s successor as AVP, Duane Wood; and then, Paul’s successor as president, Bill Brown.  We pray regularly for these men and for Duane’s successor, Tom Cornman.  Our prayers are also with my department chairs, past and present, Don Baumann, Dan Wetzel, and (currently) Dennis Flentge; and with my colleagues of the Science and Mathematics Department.

Although our attendance at Grace Baptist in Cedarville has been more sporadic because of Abby’s health and our travelling, we have been able to maintain relationships and some of our caring ministry to dear folks whose needs far surpass ours.  When I was involved in our “Grace Care” ministry, it was a blessing to serve with folks who struggled with their own physical limitations.  These were among those who prayed faithfully for Abby and I as mentioned above.   One of these friends, Shirley Strobridge, just went home to be with the Lord in July.

Shirley Strobridge

Many months prior to Shirley’s death, her health had declined through bouts with pneumonia and chronic respiratory complications requiring that she leave her lovely home in the forest near Cedarville to enter an assisted living facility.  For the past year, she relied on supplemental oxygen and assistance with her breathing.  One would think that the scope and influence of Shirley’s life was very limited by her weak and frail condition.  However, every time Abby and I, or others would visit her tiny room, all neat and clean, this nearly bedfast lady radiated the love and power of God through her faint speech, her welcoming smile, and her questions about how we were doing.  It was not by (her) might, nor by (her) power, but by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) at work in and through Shirley that made her “temporary home” there in Hospitality East a place where she could continue her ministry of encouragement to the many who came to visit.

Shirley viewed the change of seasons evident in the tree outside her window, praying that Jesus would not delay long in taking her home.  As we visited her during her final months, confined largely to her bed, we began to see Shirley’s “long good-bye” as a metaphor and a message to us—“God is faithful and He is never late.” Meanwhile, we could see our own trials as much less significant.   Sure, we had our priorities, each beginning with a “P;” but God’s ways are above our ways, and His purposes are much greater.

Although it has been frustratingly long and filled with ups and downs, our “long good-bye” to Cedarville has taught us much.  God had provided us an extended time of transition—of dependence upon Him, lifted by the prayers of dear friends and family; and, we were still in Cedarville to say “good-bye” to Shirley, and to other dear friends whose departure occurred within time we were waiting on God for our “good-bye (listed in reverse chronology of their deaths):”

Shirley Strobridge
Jerry Shumaker
Oscar Schonscheck
Gary Olin
Merlin Bliss
Harold Amstutz
Esther Frye
Harold Green
Marv Troyer
Lois Helmick
Marabeth Elmore
Phyllis Wetzel

Now, as the heat of summer gives way to the crispness of autumn, we are glad to report that we have completed the sale of our Cedarville home and have also purchased a home in Wooster, OH as God has led us to do.  This blessing did not come without a prolonged effort and emotional commitment for several months to some dear folks who loved our home.  By July, with no success in selling their home, we mutually agreed to “let go” with hopes that they would eventually sell and renew their contract with us.  At the same time, we our contract on a home in Wooster.  But eventually, God provided us a new buyer and we were able to renew our contract in Wooster.  However, the strain we had brought upon our sellers in Wooster made us wonder if we would ever meet them and learn something of the history of that “house” that would become our “home.”

Thankfully, our sellers agreed to meet with us after closing and we were able to begin a friendship through sharing of our mutual challenges including health issues in both of our families.  We hope to be in Wooster by mid-October and to see the end of our “weighty wait”and long “good-bye” to Cedarville.  Our prayer is that we will continue to honor God in keeping the Priorities we have set toward each other as Partners, honoring our Parents, loving our Progeny, and practicing our Profession through a local church in the community of Wooster.   So, pray for us and “stay tuned.”

Thank you again for the blessed part you are having in our lives.  And, if you understand the thrust of this account, you will agree that any “good-bye” among Christian brothers and sisters is only temporary.  It is an act of faith that our “good-byes” will someday be followed by blessed “hello’s” when we hear a voice from heaven saying,

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new.
  – Revelation 21: 3-5a

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure.  
– I John 3:3

Memorial Park Wooster, Ohio

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cardinal Dolan’s Prayers for America

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, is emerging as a respected voice and moral conscience on behalf of foundational Christian truths that are under attack in the secular American culture.  Most recently, Cardinal Dolan was invited to conclude both the Republican and Democratic conventions in prayer.  Links to the full texts of each of the prayers are provided below.

As I listened to both prayers, it was difficult for me to “pray along with” Cardinal Dolan.  Rather, I focused on points that would either affirm or contradict the platform and policies of the respective parties.   After all, how can a "man of the cloth" pray at a political convention without sending a message that is politically charged?   On that point, it should be noted that there had already been a lively discussion over which party should have the most “right” to His Eminence’s presence and blessing.  Perhaps the better question is, “With which party “planks” would the Cardinal agree?”

Since hearing Cardinal Dolan’s prayers, I have taken time to read the texts of each and to consider more carefully what is in them for me as a registered Republican, but more importantly, as a Christian and as an American citizen.  Let me offer a few pairings of “platform planks” with “points in the prayer” of Cardinal Dolan.   I do not claim to know Cardinal Dolan’s heart or intent in forming his prayers.

The Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa emphasized the theme, “We Believe in America.”  Their platform states (emphasis mine):

This platform affirms that America has always been a place of grand dreams and even grander realities; and so it will be again, if we return government to its proper role, making it smaller and smarter.  If we restructure government’s most important domestic programs to avoid their fiscal collapse. If we keep taxation, litigation, and regulation to a minimum.  If we celebrate success, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

In sharp contrast to the GOP’s emphasis on liberty, rugged individualism, entrepreneurship, and success, the Democratic platform drafted in Charlotte, NC, emphasizes collectivism through government establishment of “rules of the road” (emphasis mine):

We know that the free market only works when there are rules of the road to ensure that competition is fair, open, and honest.  Mitt Romney and the Republicans would roll back financial reform and let Wall Street write its own rules again.   And two paragraphs later, adding:   Mitt Romney's opposition to commonsense campaign finance is nothing less than support for corporate and special-interest takeovers in our elections.  We believe America prospers when everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, does their fair share and plays by the same rules.

To the Republicans with their vision of “freedom, rugged individualism, and entrepreneurship” for America, Cardinal Dolan offered this request to God:

Make us truly free by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope and love, prudently and with justice, courageously and in a spirit of moderation.  And later:  We pray for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which you so richly blessed this nation.

From the heart of the cardinal in prayer comes a challenge to Americans, Republicans in particular, who want freedom to pursue their dreams with less government control—your freedom must be tethered to truth and justice expressed through the virtues of goodness, moderation, and generosity.  Only then, will the “free market” be free to operate in such a way that all have an opportunity to pursue happiness.

On the other hand, Democrats place their hopes in a collectivist approach in which government will enforce rules by which the ‘free market’ should operate so that all who enter will have their ‘fair share’ and those who achieve greater power and wealth will ‘pay their fair share’ out of their accountability to the ‘rules of the road.’   To the Democrats who place this kind of faith in humanity to produce ‘fairness’ Cardinal Dolan prays as he did for Republicans:

May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice.  Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love.   And later, he prays,  Help [our leaders to] remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.

With regard to the issue of abortion and the sanctity of human life, the Republican platform states (emphasis mine):

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare.  We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life.  Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

In sharp contrast,

The Democratic party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.

With the Republicans, Cardinal Donan prays:   We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life.

And, with Democrats whose platform allows for “abortion as healthcare,” the cardinal prays:

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life.  Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure.  We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected

The Republican platform strongly states,

we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage.  We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.  [See Republican platform (link below) for detailed rationale for their support of traditional marriage.]

The Democratic platform states:

We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.  And later, the platform adds, The Administration has said that the word ‘family' in immigration includes LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) relationships…

With the Republicans, Cardinal Donan prays from the perspectives of both natural law ethics and the Judeo-Christian Scriptures (See Romans 1: 16-25)  (emphasis mine),

May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making.  Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed on our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone.

Similarly, with Democrats, Donan prays,

Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God.  Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.

In conclusion, I have presented excerpts from Cardinal Dolan’s prayers at both Republican and Democratic conventions, and then related the prayers to the stated positions of each party in regard to three major moral issues.  First, should the future of America be characterized by promotion of individual freedom or by promotion of a collectivist approach to distribute wealth.  Second, which is the best way to protect the well being of women, by maintaining their right to an abortion (including late-term); or by protection of the life of the unborn while encouraging acceptable alternatives for the well being of both mother and child?   Third, should marriage be defined as between one man and one woman, or more broadly defined to include same-sex relationships?

One can read in detail on Cardinal Dolan’s blog his positions on the three topics and thus, gain insight into why he prayed as he did at the conventions.   I conclude this entry with an excerpt from his August 1, 2012 entry entitled “Fighting the Good Fight for Religious Freedom” followed by his prayer for the candidates and for us as we choose wisely.

… the Secretary of Health and Human Services[has decreed ] that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer health care plans to include contraceptive services for women, including drugs called abortifacients.  Although, in America’s finest tradition, the bill allows an exemption for religious reasons, it presumes to define just what a church’s ministry must be to qualify, a dramatic and unprecedented intrusion into the integrity of all faiths.  My brother bishops and I – in welcome collaboration with other religious leaders – think that this mandate is wrong and misguided and have tried to work with the Administration to correct it.

Over the course of the coming year, the effort to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience will continue.  In the end, this is not about bishops, it is not about Catholics, it is not about contraceptives.  It is about the ideals our nation was founded upon: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  You can’t do much better than the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The founding fathers got it right.  The HHS mandate gets it wrong.  We are fighting to correct that wrong, in order to make sure that religious freedom continues for the generations to come after us.

Prayer (Cardinal Dolan, DNC, Sept. 6, 2012):
Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us:  President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office.  Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country.  Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.

Democratic Party Platform 2012 --
Republican Party Platform 2012 --
Cardinal Dolan’s Prayer at GOP Convention:
Oikonomia: Stewardship of Creation and “Natural Law June 10, 2011) --
Oikonomia: Is Romney's Rhetoric Backed by Character?   September 5, 2012 --

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is Romney’s Rhetoric Backed by Character?

This year, Americans have a choice of who will occupy the White House for the next four years.  The presumed nominee for the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, is the only self-proclaimed evangelical on the two presidential tickets.  His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, is a self-proclaimed Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Obama has the advantage of name recognition; and, perhaps a disadvantage in having a track record as president for four years that offers vulnerable targets for his critics.

A majority of self-professing evangelical Christians uphold the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage as being between one man and one woman, and the freedom from coercion toward acts that violate religious convictions in the workplace.  President Obama upholds none of these basic foundations of morality and freedom.   Many social conservatives would say President Obama’s walk is inconsistent with his talk and with the Judeo-Christian principles that have undergirded and distinguished western civilization.   All of these positions should be taken into consideration between now and election day.

But what about Mitt Romney?   Are his actions consistent with his religious faith?  If we wish to be objective, both presidential candidates must be subjected to the same standards.   For example, unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney clearly defends the rights of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman, and exercise of religious freedom.  But is this lesser known candidate the “genuine article,” a person with integrity.   To choose a good leader, voters should know whether his walk matches his talk; and, that means seeing more than his tax returns.  [For elaboration, see Oikonomia, March 31, 2012 .]

So, is Mitt really a “good man” as some have said?  And, is he a “good man for the job.”   We may never agree as a nation on either count; or, on how to determine Romney’s “goodness.”  But, let’s see what we can glean from Romney’s own words and from the testimony of those who know him.  Then, we’ll use a third approach.   Because Mitt Romney appears to be reluctant to talk about himself and his accomplishments, we may gain more insights into the man from the answers he seems reluctant to give when he is pressed hard by questioners

First, from Romney himself [Commencement Address, Liberty University, May 12, 2012]:

The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family.   The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study [reporting that for]… those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.   Culture matters. 

Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations.  The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this.  Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.

Our relationship with our Maker… is entirely in our control, for He is always at the door, and knocks for us.  Our worldly successes cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God.  The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all, reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it.

People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology.  Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.  The best case for this is always the example of Christian men and women working and witnessing to carry God’s love into every life – people like the late Chuck Colson.

Those who know Romney claim that it is just not his nature to speak up about his accomplishments.  Meanwhile, his opponents in the primaries, and more recently the Obama campaign, have portrayed him as a wealthy entrepreneur who gained his fortune through the ruthless maneuvering of Bain Capital.   But, here are some fact-checked bits of information that contradict the negative portrayal of Romney:  

Ilyn Ross blogs in “Reason Reigns:”

At the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he inherited a $370 million deficit. He left behind a $100 million surplus, contributing $1 million of his own money, & drawing no salary for 3 years. As MA governor with both houses of the MA legislature having large Democratic majorities, Romney faced an immediate $650 million shortfall & a projected $3 billion deficit for the next year. By 2006, MA had a $600–700 million surplus. Romney drew a salary of $1 per year.

Mr. Grant Bennett, CEO of CPS Technologies and former consultant with Bain Capital stated at the recent RNC:

I have spent thousands of hours over many years with Mitt Romney.  We spent our time together serving our fellow men and women - we spent it serving in our church.  We embraced Christ's admonition: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

In our early morning calls, Mitt didn't discuss questions of theology. He found the definition of religion given by James in the New Testament to be a practical guide: "Pure religion ... is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction."

So, what specifically did Mitt Romney do as our pastor?   For one or two evenings each week and several hours every weekend -- week after week and year after year -- he met with those seeking help with the burdens of real life, burdens we all face at one time or another: unemployment, sickness, financial distress, loneliness.  Mitt prayed with and counseled church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions, immigrants separated from their families, and individuals whose heat had been shut off.

Mitt seldom delivered the sermon himself - he gave that opportunity to fellow church members.
He sought to involve everyone so everyone could grow.  Mitt taught faith in God, personal integrity, self-reliance and service to our fellow men.   And Mitt did what he challenged us to do. He led by example.   I treasure every minute we served together.  I am grateful for my apprenticeship in "the things that matter most" under the hands of a deeply good man named Mitt Romney.

From Ted Oparowski whose 14-year-old son was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma:

You cannot measure a man's character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times. The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble.  The quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters -- that is the time to make an assessment.

From Pam Finlayson, who gave birth to a daughter 3½ months premature resulting in severe heart and lung problems:

As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me,” she continued, as the partisan crowd listened in rapt silence. “I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.   I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.

When it comes to loving our neighbor, we can talk about it or we can live it.  The Romneys live it every single day.

What is Romney hiding?  We may or may not agree with what Mitt Romney says, or with the positions he takes as a political leader.   We may also question the validity of what his close friends say.  But, we must at least consider those things Romney has only revealed when it seems he’d rather not ‘go there’ or which are revealed by reports from fact-finding research into his past.  Consider a few examples.

Because Mitt is the son of George Romney, former CEO of American Motors, he is sometimes portrayed as having been “born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”  However, when he has been pressed to speak about his inheritance, he responds as recorded by the NY Times:  

Except for a loan from his father to purchase his and Ann’s first home, in Belmont, MA for $42,000, Romney states:   I gave [my inheritance from my father] to a school which Brigham Young University established in his honor, the George W. Romney School of Public Management.

According to Monique Hamm reporting in Human Events (8/26/2012),

One instance that highlights Romney’s style of silent charity is Joey’s Park, a playground named in memory of Joey O’Donnell, who died of cystic fibrosis and was the son of a Romney neighbor.  Romney led the effort to build the park as well as its upkeep. “There he was with a hammer, a Mitt nobody sees,” Joseph O’Donnell, the father of the late boy, told the authors of “The Real Romney.” After the construction, Romney returned with a local Boy Scout troop to ensure that the memorial was maintained. “He did it for like the next five years, without ever calling to say, ‘We did this,’ without a reporter in tow, not looking for any credit.

In the final analysis, voting citizens of this great land must ask themselves, first, “How important is it that a candidate possess a character marked by virtues of humility and reverence for God, love for neighbor, respect for the sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage, valuing of individual effort and hard work, and respect of religious groups and their freedom to worship and practice their faith?”

Second, “Is it important that character virtues like those listed above are demonstrated through the candidate’s promises, actions, and policies?” And, third, “Are we willing to take the time to identify and evaluate the candidates on the basis of how well their words and their actions demonstrate virtuous character?”  As we individually hold ourselves to these standards, and then prayerfully seek answers to at least the three questions above, we will gain a better sense of which presidential candidate best demonstrates the qualities necessary to exercise leadership that America needs.