Death, money and prayers

Friday, November 9, 2012

What a sad story out of Sac City. Skeletal remains found in a basement this week - where they had apparently been laying since 2009. Not so much the death of it - that happens to us all sooner or later - but the utter disconnect of it. That no one would come looking until unpaid utility bills stacked up.

It may be some time before we are given any definitive answers as to the circumstance of death, but one only hopes they were swift and kind to the gentleman. It is hard to shake the image of the possibility of him lingering there, waiting for help that would never come.

There are many questions one would like to ask - how could three different professional agencies involved in investigating a missing persons report fail to notice a dead body in the basement, for one... unless it got there later, which would open up a whole slew of other questions.

There are mentions of a one-time roommate living with the man at this house, and of a friend from Florida who was last seen with the man before he went missing, identities that no one seems to know, even in a relatively small town.

Truth is, though, that it can happen. In this age, people often don't intimately know their neighbors, or go out of their way to connect or care for one another. It is easy to disconnect, and to become nearly invisible even in the midst of a bustling society.

If the hunch of police is right, this missing person, long ago written off as having gone away and probably died somewhere - was never really missing at all.

One can't help but feel sorrow, though we don't know the circumstances of the passing or as yet even know for absolute certain if the person is who we suspect it may be. Death is a sad enough thing in all cases even with medical care, a dignified passing, a church full of people to pay their respects and a stone to remember a person by - this is a way no one deserves to go.

Perhaps, until we know the answers, we should just treat it as a cautionary tale. Maybe we should take a closer look at all of those people around us - human beings who we see on the fringes of our own busy, technological lives, but we glimpse but may never really see. People who may be aging, alone, but yet have much interesting to offer. It doesn't hurt to keep an eye out for one another, to make sure everyone is okay. You never know when suddenly, it may be too late.

A Pilot reader recently brought in a list of the top ten salaries paid in the state of Iowa this year.

Who do you suppose is on top? Probably the governor of the state, right? Then probably the presidents of the universities, or maybe some brilliant neurosurgeon at the University of Iowa Hospitals, then maybe some of the top educators, judges, road designers, health care experts and so on?

Hahahahahaha, right.

Forget sending your kids to medical school or law school, buy them a whistle and a headset.

The highest paid person for the state by a mile is Kirk Ferentz, Iowa football coach, $3.735 million. That's what, almost a million bucks a win, so far.

The second highest is Paul Rhodes, Iowa State football coach, with a relatively paltry $1.425 mil, despite a just slightly better record as of the moment.

Then third and fourth highest are the basketball coaches at the big universities, at close to a million bucks per - and the sixth, good old ex-coach Todd Lickliter, who is still getting paid by the good folks of Iowa despite being booted out over two years ago.

In Iowa, a football coach makes almost 29 times as much as the governor of the state, and over eight times as much as the his boss, the president of the university.

Then again, quick - name the president of the three state regent universities. (Insert sound of crickets in the distance and tumbleweeds blowing here.)

Of course, apologists will note that college sports brings in money, especially when they are winning. And some of the massive cost for keeping big name coaches put may come from private sources, TV, endorsements, etc.

Still, it is a pretty clear indication of the priorities in the state of Iowa. Sports, then everything else bringing up the rear.

This was passed along by a minister friend of the Pilot's. Something to think about:

"A message from a friend of mine in the rural Midwest. It gives me tears:

'So today [in our] little bitty church (12 people) we prayed for all gay, queer, lesbian, and transgendered people!

'God had a surprise for us. I was in a hurry putting the bulletin together and did a search for All Saints Day prayer. Found one, skimmed the first few lines and it looked ok. Copied it into my bulletin, but apparently I over-looked the fact it was a blessing for all GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered] folks! A few people about hard heart attacks. But one guy came up to me afterward and said 'I am gay and I've never been in any church that's loved me.' Another couple shared that their daughter was gay and they were moved to tears that 'their little church would pray for her.'

"Lessons - proof the bulletin, and God uses it even when you don't!"