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Remembering Councilor Burton: I still start my day with Ray

To The Daily Sun,

Although this week marks the one-year anniversary of Executive Councilor Ray Burton's death, today started much like every other day of the past 25 or so years. After my shower I gave a few quick pulls on my blue unbreakable "Vote For Raymond S. Burton" comb and I was on my way. Oh to be sure, 25 years ago I had a lot more hair, it wasn't grey, and the comb may have been red or black, but it was one of Ray's.

I don't recall where I first met Ray, but I remember he handed me a comb, pulled a 3 by 5 card out of his shirt pocket and wrote down my name and town. The next time I saw him he remembered my name. Now I don't care what folks say about Ray having a knack for names. Whatever talent he had for it, it also must have taken a fair amount of effort and concentration. And is there a better way to communicate to someone that they are important than remembering their name? Back then, I didn't hold any position of importance and there was no real reason to remember my name except I lived in his district and that was good enough for Ray.

My town, Tilton, is at the absolute southern end of Ray's district. I always loved seeing him hold up the entire state highway map, tuck one fold up from the bottom and proudly say "that's my district!" I was relieved every time redistricting was over and we were still with Ray. I might live in central New Hampshire, but my heart is in the North Country! It was comforting to know when I called Ray he would promptly return my calls, try to help when asked, or listen and discuss an issue, even when we disagreed. Not all other elected officials over the years were as reliable or courteous.

When my bride first ran for Belknap County Attorney, we transformed our old Volvo 122 into a campaign vehicle and I went to DMV to get an antique plate. When told my first choice "VOTE" was available, I said to the clerk "I can't believe Ray Burton doesn't have it." Ray couldn't believe it either, when we showed up at the first Old Home Day parade of campaign season he exclaimed, "Where did you ever get that plate?" I always felt a little bad about it, given his love of antique cars and always being three votes behind.

Ray enjoyed all forms of transportation. His airplane tour of the regional airports and his annual train ride were legendary. As the longstanding chairman of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation, Ray also championed alternative transportation and the now flourishing network of pedestrian and recreational trails throughout our state.

Between the nearly seven terms my wife served as county attorney, and my work in mental health and serving on nonprofit boards, I came into increasing contact with Ray. He was everywhere, at public hearings and community or civic events in his district, and at the Statehouse. He was often accompanied by yet another wide-eyed and wet behind the ears intern — getting a real life education.

But it wasn't just the interns that learned from Ray, he taught me a lot and many others, too. These were valuable lessons about politics, people and life. Ray could work a room like no other, and he treated everyone equally from the perennial presidential candidates that flocked to our state to the plumber down the street. Ray defined what it means to be a public servant. If Ray had a bad day he never showed it. He was always upbeat and moving forward. Even when one of Ray's aides was involved in a scandal and other elected officials called on Ray to resign, he apologized but stayed the course. And while his constituents voted out many who had called for his resignation, we did re-elect Ray. He had done way too much good to be defined by one lapse of judgment which stemmed from believing in the good of people. Ray loved people and we loved him back.

So tomorrow I will again start my day with Ray, and as his comb slides through my thinning hair and over my brain, I'll make a conscious choice and aspire to be positive, to enjoy and respect everyone equally, to promote civil discourse and to be a servant leader.

Ken Norton



Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:37

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If you've been touched by God & he speaks to you, good for you

To The Daily Sun,

I make no such claim that pagan's are better than Christians, as local GOP crone Steve Earle suggests. Man, I wish I had the time you do to write in every other day. I do want to apologize for using the word pagan though. The people in question were more or less Wiccans. Although I'm sure the word pagan to you, Steve, surely pertains to all people who do not subscribe to your specific religious beliefs.

The main point of my letter was that all Christians are far from saints and that the sacrifices that may have been made by those scattered Wiccan tribes pales in comparison to the overall wicked incidents beseeched by those who call themselves Christians.

Your instant knee-jerk reaction to politicize my letter and jump to linking bad morality with progressives and Democrats just shows what a nitwit you are. Made my wife laugh seeing as how I actually have voted Republican for most of my adult life. I will admit though, lately I've been straying a bit from the party, mostly because I see reflections of short-sighted people such as yourself in it. How they cannot come up with new ideas or separate themselves from the mainstream. How they can't put up a candidate that is original or charismatic. How you go on the attack without even comprehending a thought or idea that differs from your own.

I have to be honest about one thing Steve, I can only go by my own experiences in life. If you've been touched by God and he speaks to you, good for you. I have not. But to call me immoral because I am happy and most comfortable in the loving glow of my family, rather than pledging my soul to a book that has quotes like Psalms 137:9 "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." If it's because I like to dig for the facts such as the Vatican's orders to purge dioceses of money before they got audited for victims funds, rather than blindly follow like a blind sheep. If it's because I'm smart enough to recognize the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic church's policy on homosexuality while it clearly runs rampant within its own ranks. Well sir, from me to you, I'd rather be wrong than right.

Shame on you for two things: labeling me when not only are you wrong, but you clearly don't know me; also for making me agree with James Veverka. You're obviously not very good at speaking for any Republican. Please go away before you chase more people from the ranks.

Thomas Lemay


Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:24

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The bad far outnumbers the good when it comes to religion

To The Daily Sun,

What is Steve Earle talking about? Did Steve just tell Thomas Lemay that our Constitution is based on Christian values? It is not, and if Mr. Earle can find one thing in the Constitution that reflects Christian values, he will be the first to do so.

As most historically educated people know, the Constitution's foundations lie mostly in Greco-Roman and Enlightenment thought. In fact, the Sixth Article's ban on religious tests for oaths of office is an godless affront to the First Commandment. The First Amendment is also antithetical to the first four commandments. The first four commandments are unconstitutional as American law, because as law they would violate the First Amendment's free exercise clause. Furthermore, the U.S. Senate unanimously declared in 1797 in the Treaty of Tripoli that "the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." Clear enough?

On the matter of slavery, it is part of God's social order in the Bible as it was in most Bronze and Iron Age cultures. When abolitionists demanded the end of slavery, the anti-abolitionists, North and South, held up their Bibles to defend slavery. Anti-abolitionists used the same arguments that our right-wingers use: If you're against tradition then you have to be a an un-American socialist atheist. The same was true when women's suffragists demanded the vote for women. Anti-suffragists held up their Bibles and called suffragists un-American atheists and socialists. Even today, there are people being elected who believe all the Bible's Iron Age dogma about women, gays, and religious government.

Mr. Earle seems to think it's just politics and not morality that fuels negativity toward religion. It is both. He thinks it's resentment, but it's actually contempt because religion is beneath many people's ethics. In the political world, Christianity has become a political tool of the far right as it is in Muslim countries. Right-wingers want a Christian nation just as right-wingers in Iran want an Islamic country. But Christians don't realize that once you put your religion into the free political arena you lose all your immunity from being called out. When a religious position is made into a political one, it means anyone can attack the religion itself because it is now a debatable political platform. It doesn't get a free pass in the marketplace of ideas or legislative chambers.

Of course, we can find good amongst the bad, but the bad far outnumbers the good in the matters of religion. But even that is becoming irrelevant. In fact, a new study by (the polling and research organization) Survation reveals that in Britain, more than half of Britons think that religion "does more harm than good," less than a quarter believe that "faith is a force for the good," more than 60 percent said they weren't religious at all and 55 percent of those surveyed think that atheists are actually more likely to be moral than religious people.

In the United States the fastest growing religious group is the 'nonreligious' so we are going the way of the UK. Here is the latest in the USA: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/24/secularism-is-on-the-rise-as-more-u-s-christians-turn-churchless/ The breakdown is very interesting.

James Veverka


Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:20

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It wasn't building's fault that its existence was not concern to me

To The Daily Sun,

Just wanted to thank Carol Anderson for her informative letter in regards to the Hathaway House. While I appreciate there are people who for some reason wanted the old place saved, none of the information you gave changes my opinion at all.

To me, regardless of what the National Register folks concluded, it was just another eyesore in town. No one seemed to be able to get the job done in terms of moving it, and enough time and energy was given toward that end. The building's continued existence was not a concern of mine, and I don't intend to imply that it was the building's fault that it was in disrepair (if that is even possible). The existing structure, while I am sure interesting architecturally, was not easily usable and thus needed to be torn down.

Sometimes we just have to accept that things aren't going to go the way we would like due to whatever factors are in play. I am not sorry that it is gone and truly look forward to seeing what goes in its place. Let's keep Laconia moving forward.

Jessica Alward


Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:16

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But just where do human beings get thier sense of morality?

To The Daily Sun,

Thomas Lemay might be surprised to hear that some Christians have no problem with letting their children carve pumpkins and go trick-or-treating as long as the demonic and gruesome elements of Halloween are avoided. Perhaps he would also be surprised to learn that the charges that he makes against Christianity cannot withstand scrutiny. While he denounces the Old Testament accounts of Israel's holy war against the Canaanites as "mass killings," the Bible itself presents them as instances of divine judgment. God used Israel as his instrument to bring judgment upon the Canaanites for their wickedness (see Gen. 15:16). Of course, the Israelites were not without their own sin, but God chose to extend his undeserved mercy to them.

Mr. Lemay is correct to point out that professing Christians have committed many acts of evil across the centuries, including the Crusades (though Muslims certainly had role in that too), the African slave trade, and the recent clergy sex abuse scandals. However, Mr. Lemay fails to reckon with the fact that the Bible does not condone any of these things but explicitly condemns them.

The Crusades were in direct violation of the New Testament's teaching that the kingdom of God does not advance by the power of the sword but through the proclamation of the gospel (see 2 Cor. 10:4). And while it is true that slavery itself is not explicitly condemned in Scripture, human trafficking (the basis of the African slave trade) certainly is (see 1 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 18:13). It should also be noted that slavery in the ancient world was a significantly different institution than slavery in America and that the eventual abolition of slavery was largely due to the influence of Christianity.

It is certainly true that professing Christians commit sin, but this does not disprove Christianity. It actually confirms what the Bible says about the ruin that sin has brought into the world. Sin's corrupting power is even present in the lives of the redeemed and in the church. That being said, anyone who accuses Christianity of being a source of great evil in the world needs to reckon with the amount of blood that was shed by atheist regimes in the 20th century.

Mr. Lemay says that he tries to live a "moral" life, but how does he distinguish between what is moral and what is immoral? Where do human beings get their sense of morality? Moreover, why bother to be moral if there is not a just God who holds people accountable for their actions?

But if there is such a God, then we should be utterly amazed at what the Bible says to all who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation: "he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:5–6)

Pastor Andy Wilson

Grace Presbyterian Church


Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:12

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