Thoughts & prayers

My mother’s father was a Baptist preacher in a little wide spot in a western Oklahoma farm road called Hammon. I grew up in the 1950s as a little boy who attended a Baptist church in a little wide spot on old Highway 66 in western New Mexico called Grants. When my family traveled on long trips, if we were on the move on Sunday, we very often went to tiny Baptist churches somewhere along the way.

Forget about all the current political controversy around today’s Southern Baptists; the Southern Baptist Convention was not as conservative in those days. You might even substitute the word “Methodist,” “Presbyterian,” “Lutheran” or even “Catholic” for “Baptist” Those small-town Sunday services were always simple, homely, neighborly and hospitable to strangers, usually with little choirs and elderly preachers and home-made food for sharing after the preaching.

It was the time in the week when brown-faced laborers and tradesmen appeared clean-shaven, awkward in shirt and tie, hair slicked back and gleaming. Young mothers like hens, their scrubbed little ones carefully gathered and shushed. The day when judges, mayors, sheriffs and wealthy businessmen were on an equal footing with their neighbors.

I cannot imagine the horror of sitting in such a service as a little boy and seeing some lunatic walk through the door firing automatic weapons on a deranged mission to slaughter my friends and neighbors and family. I can’t visualize those sounds, that blood, that evil, in such a serene, nurturing, sun-splashed milieu. I can’t imagine it no matter the color or faith of the congregants.

My guess is the folks in Sutherland Springs, Texas, will now start locking their doors at night and praying hard that their children never experience anything like that again. Just another routine, bloody wound to the heart of our America. But there’s two sure things: Many more guns will be sold and the current “leadership” in Austin and Washington will once again appear on camera to offer their thoughts and prayers.

Michael Jones, Waco

On whose backs

As a member of the federal community who served our country for years, I am deeply concerned that my hard-earned benefits will be cut to offset proposed tax policy changes. I ask my representative and senators to oppose such cuts to the federal community. I based my career and retirement planning on long-standing, promised benefit calculations. Any cuts to what I earned break that promise and denigrates the value of public service.

Congress is just beginning the debate over reforms to our tax code. Paying for touted middle-class tax relief on the backs of middle-class federal employees and retirees is wrong. My retirement and health benefits were earned through years of hard work. They are not gifts to rescind.

Michael B. Nott, Harker Heights