Save Our Desert will host a cleanup day in the Pipes Canyon Area this coming Saturday, November 16. Participants will meet at the corner of Highway 247 and Pipes Canyon Road, and disperse to several areas to clean up roadsides and open space area in the vicinity of Black Lava Butte, Flat Top Mesa, and Pioneertown. The Joshua Tree Clean Team has donated equipment to use for the day. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes, long sleeves, sunscreen, gloves, and bring water and lunch. For more information, email email@example.com or contact Frazier Haney at 760-464-5430, or visit SaveOurDesert.com.
In the first of two reports on this week’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council, Dan Stork highlights the discussion of the practice of invocations before meetings of the Council…
At the beginning of the discussion of invocations before City Council meetings, Twentynine Palms City Attorney Patrick Munoz set a legal frame for the topic. He told the Council that current policy, in which anyone wishing to deliver an invocation may request to be scheduled to do so, meets current federal guidelines. During the period of public comment, there was applause from many following statements supporting the current practice, and applause from few for opposing opinions.
Pastor Steven Burns, president of the Twentynine Palms Ministerial Association, cited Biblical support for the practice of praying for civil authorities. He also claimed evidence for the efficacy of local prayer. “During all the Middle East operations over the last 20 years, this base has suffered the least amount of fatalities of any other base. Is this because they’re better-trained? Not necessarily so. Can it be because local churches were praying for our armed forces?”
Chenise Campbell said that during her deployment at a base in Iraq that had been subject to frequent “incoming,” the incidence of “incomings” stopped during her time there, during which she prayed regularly.
Owen Gillick affirmed his own status as a believer, and went on to state his opposition to religious invocations. “To be strongly encouraged to remain standing while an invocation will be presented – that becomes part of a government program.”
Almut Fleck reviewed arguments made by supporters of public prayer which claim historical support for the practice dating to the founding of this country. She said that many of the practices that support religious expressions in public matters are of recent vintage, and asked whether it is desirable to spread a “Christian nation myth.”
Within the City Council, Jay Corbin spoke strongly against current practice. “I believe in prayer. I pray often. I’m praying right now. But I don’t believe it’s our role as government to sponsor it.”
Mayor Joel Klink wants things to remain as they are. “I am a Christian, and I love having invocation before Council. It clears my head and puts me in a good place to do my job.” Jim Harris offered advice to those opposed to the practice. “My personal thought was, stand outside the door, don’t come in until it’s over.” Dan Mintz and Cora Heiser expressed a wish for some compromise solution. Corbin moved replacing current practice with a moment of silence, and received no second. At end, the current practice remains in effect.
The Joshua Tree Retreat Center will host a community drum circle celebrating the full moon from 7 to 9 p.m. this Sunday, November 17. Well-known Joshua Tree percussionist Sam Sloneker will facilitate the gathering, which will be held in the center’s Friendship Hall. The event kicks off the sixth year of monthly community drum circles at the Retreat Center. Sloneker said, “The 17th is also “World Peace Day,” and as we’re so near Thanksgiving, the theme of our circle will be peace and gratitude.” Participants are encouraged to bring drums, shakers, tambourines, etc. A number of instruments will also be available at the event. There is no charge to attend, though a suggested donation of $5 per participant or $10 per family will be welcomed and appreciated. The Joshua Tree Retreat Center, formerly Mentalphysics, is located at 59700 Twentynine Palms Hwy. in Joshua Tree. Turn right after entering the Center and take the first left; Friendship Hall will be on your left toward the middle of the long building (follow the signs). For additional information, please call the Center at 760-365-8371.