Sunday, July 31, 2005

Being a traditionalist is easy. You're never behind.
Being a reformist is hard. You're never ahead.

The default is not definitive.
The past is not perennial.
The future is not faithful.

Tunnel Vision

Life looks different when viewed from the end.
[via TheoCenTriC]

Friday, July 29, 2005

8. When people say "life is short". What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's longer?
[via scott...diagonally parked in a parallel universe]

Thanks Unedited Ravings for the heads up!


When order changes,
chaos happens.
What started it?
Genesis --
it started.
What happens?
Chaos changes order
when roles reverse.
Does it matter?

[via Poor Blogger]

When Christians earn their reputation for being jerks it is not because they are living contrary to their beliefs. Christianity itself is the problem.

In short, I think that there are possibly 5 factors that contribute:

1) The Power legacy of Christendom
2) The doctrine of justification by faith alone
3) A particular understanding of the nature and function of Scripture
4) A combination of missionary zeal and a modernist and foundationalist understanding of truth
5) Christianity-centric understanding of Church and the Kingdom of God
[via Leaving Munster]

Apology for Apology?

If Muslim leaders discredit terrorist acts as ant-Muslim, who’s Taking Blame for Christian Violence?

[via Faith and Policy Weblog]

Sorry for the lax in posts this week. After all, I turned XXXIII on Monday and had to reboot.

[Thanks Paper Clip Town for the following reference!]

Your Birthdate: July 25

Your birth on the 25th day of the month (7 energy) modifies your life path by giving you some special interest in technical, scientific, or other complex and often hard to understand subjects.

You may become something of a perfectionist and a stickler for details.

Your thinking is logical and intuitive, rational and responsible.

Your feelings may run deep, but you are not very likely to let them show.

This birthday makes you a more private person, more introspective and perhaps more inflexible.

In friendships you are very cautious and reserved.

You are probably inventive, and given to unique approaches and solutions.

Monday, July 25, 2005

More Than Life Choices

Life is more than just a beating heart. But choice is also more than a self-serving decision....

Abortion is an issue that is close to a woman’s heart, on whatever side she may stand. It is about her body and the body of her fetus. The two cannot be separated. As hard as some in the church and pro-life supporters try, they cannot say that abortion is not about a woman’s body. This would deny the important biological, emotional and spiritual role that a woman plays when she becomes pregnant. This is what pro-choice women mean when they refer to the pro-life agenda as degrading women to “walking wombs” (Cannold, 1998, 45). While pro-life supporters value the life of the fetus, they disregard the life of the mother. If the fetus becomes more important than the mother, the mother can be seen as only a container for the fetus. It is difficult to avoid this when one believes that human life begins at conception and that the fetus has a right to life over the wishes of the mother.

At the same time, pro-choice supporters cannot claim that the abortion issue is only about a woman’s body. No matter how heated the debate gets, pro-choice advocates cannot define a fetus as merely a blob of cells. The vast majority of women who have an abortion do not see it this way. This rhetoric denies the miracle of procreation and the painful experiences of women who have had to make this choice. The fetus is in the process of becoming a human being, becoming more human as the pregnancy progresses. It is a sacred process, one that cannot be taken lightly....

Free will exists. We cannot despise it because it is free will that allows us to make good decisions.

Free will is a difficult problem. While some would argue that this legislative bias toward more inclusive, more pro choice type laws are a sign of moral degradation, I think these laws are evidence of our desire to demonstrate free will....

I have come to this conclusion. I believe that abortion is a symptom of inequality and oppression in our society – both in the secular and Christian realms. It is wrong; it is not the way it is supposed to be. But limiting choice is also wrong. So now I can define myself as both pro-choice and pro-life because both life and choice are sacred. Women should be free to make these decisions because it is through these decisions that we often find God.

[via The Ends of Art, Faith and History]

[via Ben Witherington]

Esse Quam Videre--- To Be, rather than to Seem

Take me to the just side of justice
And the right side of righteousness,
Not the vindictive side of vindication,
for otherwise--- I do not wish to go.

Lead me to the passionate side of compassion,
And the gracious side of grace,
Not the condescending side of mercy
for otherwise I remain remote--- for pity’s sake.

Push me past the truant side of trouble
And the pleasant side of pain
Not allowing me to wallow in it---
Lest I marvel at my martyrdom

Carry me to the service side of serving
And the sacrificial side of sacrifice
Not the calculating side of caring
for otherwise, my generosity remains too frugal.

Put me outside my selfish Eden
And beyond my creature comforts
Without raising Cain in my life
for I desire to be a remarkable, not a marked man.

[read the full poem]

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Someone's been reading Harry Potter a bit too seriously...

uploaded originally by gwaldon, noted by down the shore

Callous and Soft Spots

Gone are the old gentlemenly and glorious wars of old. And gone are the old romantic terrorists who targeted their victims carefully. American snipers in the War of Independence, ambushing British troops marching in formation, helped achieve the victory of 1776. Likud's terrorist attacks on British military and administrative personnel helped create the state of Israel. The early IRA campaign of assassination against military, political and administrative leaders helped create the Irish Free State. Terrorist attacks on U.S. Marines in Beirut led to an American withdrawal.

As obvious military and political targets have been hardened, terrorists have begun to attack softer and softer civilian targets. And as the targets get softer and softer, the chances of terrorist successes, especially in open societies, increase.

Which brings us back to the obvious solution-- only political solutions to the underlying conflicts will bring us security.
--- from The Politics of Terror by John F. Conway in the recent Planet S, emphasis mine

Thursday, July 21, 2005

[by Don James, via Effie's World]


The womb is wrenched
And the small life
Ready with rage
Protests the light

Anger ignites
The small machine-
Provides the spark
For the explosion

Later religion
Will inform
Why the thistle
Why the thorn

Will try to soothe
The subject with

Then love will touch
The wound of world
And from it grow
A gracious lily

Truth, in propositional form, tells us the solid structure of reality. It defines the boundary between what is real and reliable on the one hand, and what is deceptive and deadly on the other. Truth provides the border, it defines the place of safety; it surrounds a wide, wild, and mysterious place within which we may come face to face with wonder.
[via Thinking Christian]

No Privacy

[Thanks to The Opinion Mill for the link!]

Does the Constitution recognize and protect an unenumerated right of privacy? I'll never forget the stunned faces among senators and spectators on the day 15 years ago when Supreme Court nominee David Souter answered that question in the affirmative. It was the first answer of his Senate confirmation hearing, and it showed that he embraced the legal underpinning of Roe v. Wade's protection of abortion rights. Conservatives were furious, never forgiving President George H.W. Bush for naming Souter. Liberals were shocked, but pleased, and quickly endorsing his nomination. It should be the first question put to President Bush's nominee, John Roberts. If, like Souter, he says yes, then he's unlikely to provide the last vote needed to overturn Roe. If he says no, then abortion-rights activists probably will have to take their battle to the states and no longer expect the high court to stand in the way of state legislatures that would outlaw abortions. And if Roberts refuses to answer the question, or dodges it in some clever way, he should not be confirmed. Anyone seeking to hold the swing vote on such a critical issue owes everyone -- conservatives and liberals -- an answer to that question.
Craig Crawford

Legislating A Morality?

I think the discussion about legislating morality is not about abortion per se. To anti-abortionists abortion is a crime (i.e. first degree murder), not merely immoral (like adultery). They aren't (necessarily) trying to make people be moral, they are theoretically trying to prevent "murders."

I think the accusation "legislating morality" reflects an awareness of the obvious sexual morality undercurrent to the anti-abortion movement. Among anti-abortionists there is the "you've made your bed, now sleep in it" mentality, which, in extreme cases, even extends to women injured or killed by illegal abortions (a version of "they asked for it"). I think that is what gets people's hackles up, and makes them suspicious that anti-abortionists aren't really concerned about "the unborn" but just want to control people's sex lives. Banning abortion is just one way they can do that. Banning gay marriage is another. And there is always the worry that this is the thin edge of the "legislating morality" wedge. What's next, outlawing contraception? We've already seen pharmacists refuse to dispense contraceptives. And we've seen people campaign against condoms in high schools and contraception education in Africa, no matter how many people get AIDS as a result. I think people, even those women who wouldn't have an abortion themselves, don't want to have their sexuality restricted by the law.
--comment by Sylvia to this post by grrrlmeetsworld

You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
[via robyn's nest]

Tales Aren't Just From Books...

[via Library Bitch]

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Overcoming Evil With Good

The proper response should be a just response over an unjust response....

Dealing with terrorists is difficult because they think in terms of a just war. Their “holy war” for every reason is a just war. They can justify their beliefs by justifying this war. And how do they justify this war? They place themselves as the victims of vicious acts. It is rationalized and because the norm is to respect the just war doctrine it is difficult to demonize their intentions.

What has to be characterized is how to justly respond to the actions of terrorists. Defensive approaches do not work. When terrorists began to strap bombs on their stomach and run into a crowd it becomes impossible to seek retribution against the person who did this. Yet an essential part of justice is retribution. If a person does something bad they must pay back for what they did. Imagine taking a $1,000 loan and being incapable of paying it back on time. Just retribution would be to charge interest on the loan....

A just response has to be more than law abiding. A just response cannot be about revenge. And at the same time it cannot be about retribution. A just response has to be about serving justice, as in making amends. It has to be about improving the situation. The only just response is peace. When they throw violence in our face the just way too defeat them is to be free and to be peaceful. Although we may feel it necessary to raise our fists in anger, instead it must be lowered to progress.
[via Political Write]


The current swelled,
fueled by the tears of the evaporated masses.
It raged and swirled with liquid fury,
pounding its banks.
Still, the banks held,
though the roots and rocks that held it were torn away.

When the rage had abated and the fury was spent
it surveyed its work.
In horror, it saw that it had created destruction
making a once placid wood into a ruin.
And, for all its effort,
the bank still walled it in oppressively.
Only walls were higher, and the bed deeper,
holding it more securely than ever.

But in some places, the walls were destroyed,
and it lay in placid pools on the even ground.

[via Poor Blogger]

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Reversal of Fortune?

One of the strangest features of the contemporary political landscape is the marriage of convenience between religious conservatives and traditional elements of the Republican Party. If you had lived a hundred years ago, for instance, you would have experienced a similar theology from the fundamentalists but the politics would have been very different. The great populist of the latter part of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century, William Jennings Bryan, who most people remember as the fundamentalist prosecutor in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, had a long and successful political career during which he railed against the moneyed interests of his day and on behalf of the common working person.

According to the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project,

Bryan is credited with early championing of the following: (1) graduated income tax (16th Amendment), (2) direct election of U.S. senators (17th Amendment), (3) women's suffrage (19th Amendment), (4) workmen's compensation, (5) minimum wage, (6) eight-hour workday, (7) Federal Trade Commission, (8) Federal Farm Loan Act, (9) government regulation of telephone/telegraph and food safety, (10) Department of Health, (11) Department of Labor, and (12) Department of Education.

Now from that list of liberal political accomplishments, one would imagine that Bryan was probably a godless atheist, right? In fact, he was anything but, which was why he was the prosecutor in charge of convicting Tennessee biology teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution against state law in the mid-1920’s. Bryan’s theology was hardly distinguishable from Jerry Falwell’s or Pat Robertson’s today. But his politics were very different.

The understanding of Jesus that Bryan brought to the public square was a Jesus who was concerned about fair wages, fair taxes, fair working conditions, and the good that the government could do for its citizens. Bryan was also a world-renowned champion of peace, using his position as Secretary of State in the Wilson administration as a platform for peacemaking , rather than saber rattling. But somewhere along the way, this message of concern for common people and for peace went by the boards amongst fundamentalists and was instead replaced by a Jesus who favored the powerful and who walked with potentates, and who thought that force was a legitimate means to achieve American public policy ends.

This is the Jesus of the contemporary Religious Right, who favors small government, low taxes, and who would be more likely to give you a lecture on self-reliance and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, than he would be to heal you or feed you with the little boy’s five loaves and two fishes. In short, this Jesus sounds like he just finished a summer internship at the Cato Institute.

How did this Jesus come to be? How is it that fundamentalism left its roots and created the Jesus that had no critical word for Wall Street but who instead embraced market economics as the path to the kingdom of God?
[via Christian Alliance for Progress]

My poetry is now featured as a link at the right. Go and check it out if you wish.

Being myoptic is not the same as being focused.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Who Needs Voldermort When...

[via the Mr. T vs Everything! site]

Friday, July 15, 2005

Getting "Harry" about another Wizard...

Can we talk about The Wizard of Oz?

...Is The Wizard of Oz responsible for the massive loss of faith and the embrace of subjectivism in the West?

Could it be?

I'm sure you've thought about this too - no all-powerful Wizard, just a little man behind the curtain, tricking everyone. No need to really have anything real within - just believe that you have a brain, a heart and courage, and take on the external signs, and you're there, baby.

Has the Wizard, along with parents lying to their kids about Santa Claus, introduced a cynical wobble into the possibility faith in God for generations of kids?
[via open book]

[via from my heart...]

At that moment of parting
there was a deafening silence
as the eyes spoke a thousand words
and expressions conveyed a thousand emotions
the unforgiving world translated the silence
as insensitivity....

No, Not the Commandments...

It's often much harder to hang on than to let go. Even if they feel the same, it feels crazy sometimes to let your heart do what it will.

...In the space of the day, I pass hundreds of people, and there is no set of standards that seems to govern how they look or behave. For every dapper guy in a suit or young woman adorned in the latest fashions, there is a harried soul with twenty year-old shoes and a coat that is too warm for the weather.

I see arguments, negotiations, laughter, adoration, frustration, numbness and passion. If you counted every freckle on my nose, my shoulder, and my arms, you wouldn't even come close to the number of things I see and feel in a day....

It has been said that most people live lives of quiet desperation.

So in my desperation, I shall be noisy.

Because that, heaven knows, isn't hard for me at all.
[via Blogcabin]

Awake...Perhaps to Dream

As I was being awakened from a deep sleep early this morning, there was a new understanding, a realization I hadn't known before.

It is this; that there is an exquisite moment when one transitions from sleep to wakefulness that is more like moving from life to death than any other thing we experience.

A sudden awareness of life unknown during the previous hours. A realization of new sounds heard. A slow testing of the bodies extremities, new systems coming online. Heightened awareness of your surroundings.

It's like, "Oh, this is what it was all about."

...There would be a clarity of vision unknown before. You would see clearly, and know truthfully like you've never seen and known ever before.
[via Randall Friesen]

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What End-Times?

This issue, The Wittenburg Door interviews G.P. Taylor, Gilbert Meilaender, and Carlos Eire. Also learn about Home Churching, Faith Factor, Blessing Gaps and why Focus on the Family is really uptight...

Monday, July 11, 2005

How I Wish I Knew (Hindalong, Byrd)

When I see you falling
When I hear you crying
When I feel you fading away
How I wish I knew what to say

When I see you falling
When I hear you crying
When I feel you fading away
How I wish I knew what to pray

Like a flower refusing to bloom
When the sun hides for awhile
It’s a cruel thing you’re doing
Depriving the world of your smile

When your heart defies you
When the dark mystifies you
When the stars shine down from above
How I hope their light is enough

And I hope you know you are loved

Like a flower refusing to bloom
When the sun hides away
It’s a cruel thing you’re doing
Depriving my soul of your smile today…

[from The Choir's album "O How The Mighty Has Fallen".

Hear this song and others from the album at]

[quoted at Movable Theoblogical] many today rely on cynicism to sustain the self. When the presuppositions necessary to uphold a society's ethic of honor are no longer tenable, cynicism becomes morally indispensable Through our cynicism --that is, the rigorous and disciplined attempt to investigate the self-interest behind every moral claim we seek to avoid the loss of the self by denying overriding loyalty to any cause or community.
Yet in the process we lose the very soil crucial to the growth of virtue --the self esteem cultivated by the sense of sharing a worthy adventure. For a rigorous cynicism is too powerful. Even as it calls into question the moral commitments of others, we cannot save ourselves from its destructive gaze. Cynicism leaves us only with the consolation that because we recognize our own deception we are not hypocrites or fools. Of course, there is no deeper deceit than the assumption that we are among those free from deception.

Moreover, cynicism cannot sustain itself, as it is too easily captured by powers it does not have the means to name, much less avoid. As historical brings we cannot avoid living someone's history, even if we think our cynicism has freed us from all commitments. We are not free from all narratives, nor can we choose any story. Our only escape from destructive histories consists in having the virtues trained by a truthful story, and that can come solely through participation in a society that claims our lives in a morefundamental fashion than any profession or state has the right to do.
-- from A Community of Character by Stanley Hauerwas

When ones point of references are so different, and trust is so hard to find, how does one find the common ground to communicate. There may be an exchange of language and words but it isn't communication because what is being said is filtered through two totally different set of values. ...

I guess the easy answer would be that we need to listen more but I am not sure if that is as easy as it sounds. It's not listening, it is the different and often contrary filters that the information that is processed in. I say one thing and it is processed completely differently. After having this happen a couple of times, it makes it very difficult to keep trying. It is like two different cultures trying to interact. The question is asked, "What is Thanksgiving Day celebrate". For Europeans, it is the celebration of a new world, a fresh start, prosperity. For Native Americans and Canadians, it meant the start of their land being stolen, disease, death, and poverty in many cases. Same day, two different meanings.

It makes me wonder if that chasm can be crossed.

Without pain, there are merely boasts.
Without pleasure, there are only doubts.
Without neither, there are solely dreams.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Civil Religion?

Though the "social contract" may be the traditional alternative to "religious correctness," it is not my response. We should reject both alternatives because both agree to a common assumption about how we should understand knowledge and values. Both the "politically correct" and the "religiously correct" have only a hairsbreadth philosophical difference.

They both agree to Socrates's account of knowledge and values. That account claims knowledge and values, a.k.a., morality, are a matter of logical argument....

Socrates's account implies knowledge and values are impossible. The terms of logical arguments are meaningless, when compared to words, and are thus manipulable by the powerful. Arguments that would otherwise be effective to obtain knowledge and values, are futile. And life, in a world so described, is not worth living.

Hence, one's commitment to Socrates's account of knowledge and values as a matter of logic establishes skepticism, nihilism, and relativism.

People are still confronted with their lives, despite what philosophers say. They rely on philosophical arguments to provide ways of thinking and making decisions about their lives and the lives in a risky world.

One might suppose there wouldn't be much more to say, once one has gotten people to hold a position that makes knowledge and values impossible, argument futile, and life so understood not worth living. Yet, one must understand that Socrates gets us to adopt such a position for a reason.

The reason is his underlying thought that the purpose, point, and meaning of life is to survive, and the point of accumulating wealth and power is to assure those who have it they will be more assured of survival than those who don't.

The further thought of the powerful is that swords are more powerful than words. The point of power is to be able to employ more force to get done what it takes to survive. Socrates's efforts to seduce us into adopting his account of knowledge and values is to destroy words and the arguments made with words as the strength and refuge of the weak. Without words, the weak have nothing in the face of overwhelming force. They cannot dissent. They cannot critique.

The account of Socrates here suggested has many virtues. It provides an explanation of how the "politically correct" and the "religiously correct" participate in such a vicious and seemingly endless argument. The reason is they both are responses to the obvious complaint that Socrates's basic position cannot be true. It cannot be true, so his audience should say, because it makes our lives pointless and impossible, whereas we do have lives involving knowledge and values, have purposes, and much worth defending.
[via Touchy Subjects]

If violence is barbaric, it is because the act itself is a departure from civility, not because a particular purveyor of violence is a barbarian while another is civilized. The civility of deeds are not judged separate and apart from the prior civility of the doer. Our civility, on the contrary, is judged in every present moment by our present deeds. We have no prior claim to civilization that cannot be called into question whenever we resort to a state--however temporary--in which some lives are judged worthy of being nasty, brutish, and short. No one deserves to be treated like a brute; no one deserves a life shorter than the already short lives that we are allotted; no nastiness excuses nastiness in return.

Because I feel this way (rightly or wrongly, pretentious or not), I must also be a spokesperson for the doubt that a war on terrorism is more civilized than terrorism itself. With all the feeling I can muster, I join with those who say that terrorist attacks are uncivil, destructive, evil. But I cannot join with those who go on to say that terrorists are themselves embodiments of evil, that the war on terror is a clash of civilizations instead of a mutual departure from the promise of peaceable civilization. I cannot go on to say that our "way of life" has been challenged; that "we" are not "them." What should distinguish us from them, if anything, is our rejection of a rhetoric that pits "us" against "them."
[via Mode for Caleb]


There is a sense of pride you gain from helping to build something, especially when you know the act of building is helping someone else.
[via They Will Know Us By Our T-Shirts]

Grey World

1. I don’t know what to say about London. I don’t know what to say about Madrid or New York or Auschwitz or Darfur or Iraq. I can’t smile and pretend that they haven’t happened. I don’t want the “hug the terrorists” or “send them to therapy.” I also don’t think sending troops in to “eradicate the evil” works either. There is no theology of terrorists to my knowledge; there is only theodicy – the problem of evil.

All of humanity is abused by these acts of irresponsibility, both the initial acts and the consquential acts. Evil is not just a problem over there, but over here as well. This is what I struggle with, what are we meant to do with these acts theologically? What is the responsible response?

2. What may be the greatest evil of all is the belief that one has a lock on goodness. The second greatest, believing that there is a great gulf, divide, whatever between what is evil and what is good. Within each person lies the capability to do and be both evil and good. Therefore, no one person is one or the other. Instead each person simultaneously functions in both capacities, rendering all decisions thought to be black or white more of a gray muddled mess.

Granted, sometimes the gray is lighter and sometimes it is darker, but it is still gray; that is it still has some opacity to it that can be seen through to the opposite pole.
[via TheoSpora]

Not Just Bureaucracy

Imagine for a second the Mullahs of Iran pressuring Muslim members of Congress to change American law. What do you suppose the consequences of that would be? Imagine the Mullahs actively aiding and abetting in the molestation of American children in local mosques for decades. Isn't it reasonable to suggest that the ramifications of that would be enormous? Well, the Catholic Church has done both for centuries with no consequences at all.

...If non-Catholic voters have to worry that their office-holders will represent the will of Rome before the represent the will of the people, which can only hurt Catholic representation in government.
[via Enjoy Every Sandwich]


Isaac and Rebekah, by failing to equally love and accept both of their children, foster rivalry and dissent between the two. How might things have been different if, rather than loving only the child most like themselves, they had loved them equally? Instead, Joseph and Esau learn from their parent’s example to despise one another for what they are, rather than accepting them for who they are. How often in our own lives are we willing to accept another person only if they change to suit us? How often do we despise someone for what they are without getting to know them in any real depth? Who do we as Christians despise? Gays? Muslims? The chronically unemployed? The politically incorrect? (Or the politically correct, depending on your point-of-view.)

...Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes? Will we always exist in conflict, brother against brother?
[via ESP: Extremely Sarcastic Preacher]

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If [people] had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with "normal life." Life has never been normal.
-- Learning in War-Time, C. S. Lewis

[via The Lesser of Two Weevils]

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I've heard numerous comments over the last few days about how African nations themselves have to get their act together and stop siphoning off foreign aid in order to fill their Swiss Bank Accounts. Live8, however, has nothing to do with African nations' responsibility to their people - it has to do with our responsibility to live justly.

Here's the point - Live8 wasn't meant to help Africa; it was meant to help us live in a way that is consistent with what scripture teaches us about being lenders. It took Geldof and Bono to ask for a year of Jubilee while the rest of God's children did exactly what I did - watched on television.

God help us all.
[via Today at the Mission, emphasis mine]

To believe in God is to believe in the salvation of the world. The paradox of our time is that those who believe in God do not believe in the salvation of the world, and those who believe in the future of the world do not believe in God.
---from In the Christian Spirit by Louis Everly

[via grrrl meets world]

While my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the attacks in London, I would also like to draw attention to the other 750,000 who could end up victimized by such attacks.

Canada is home to approximately 750,000 Muslims. Terrorist acts like this are strongly condemned by Muslims. Many seem all too quick to lump anyone of Arabic descent in the same fanatical and fundamentalist culture that is responsible for the bullshit acts that we saw on 9/11 and in London this week.

When Timothy McVeigh was found to be guilty of killing 168 people in what was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil at the time, nobody was making baseless judgments about and vilifying white males. So, please, don't do it here to Canada's Muslim population. They're guilty of nothing.
[via A Little Bit Left]

[noted at Theo Speak]

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
---Strength to Love By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

From a Distance

The attacks on London impelled me to reflect on how I have always thought about terror. I've lived my entire life under the threat of nuclear attack, although, I did once learn we can protect ourselves by putting our arms over our head and hiding under a flimsy metal and wood desk. I believe I can trace my current bouts of insomnia back to long nights thinking that if I went to sleep I might never wake up. I was only seven years old during the Cuban missile crisis and an event like that can be pretty rough on your psyche. Add to that the fire and brimstone speeches every Sunday morning and I'm lucky I'm not more messed up than I am. Halcyon days indeed. Inauspicious days might be more like it...

But for some reason, I don't feel so bad about my lot in life anymore. The odds of a full scale nuclear war have greatly diminished. I hear the doomsday clock has been set back to seven minutes as opposed to three minutes, which is where it sat during the early '60s. And living here in small-town Indiana probably has me shielded from being among the possible first victims of a nuclear terror attack. Joseph Addison said, "There is no defense against criticism except obscurity." I'd like to paraphrase . . . the best defense against terrorism is the obscurity of your location.
[via A Little Left of Centrist]

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Collateral Damage?

There is no one responsible for today's attacks on London except the murderers themselves. But it should be clear to everyone that we are losing the war on terror. It has been mismanaged from the very beginning , and continues to damage the security and financial stability of our nation and our allies....

But just so that we will know that they can hit us whenever and wherever they like, we were treated to today's carnage. Not one strike , but six, right in the middle of the most important conference of world leaders, the day after London is awarded the Olympics. If this is not a sign that we are losing, and that some very bad people are capable of abusing us with impunity, I don't know what is.

All the tanks, all the bombers, all the ships all the hundreds of thousands of soldiers about which the president likes to boast he has deployed in the war on terror did not save a single soul in London today.
[via publictheologian]

A EMT in London's perspective about the terror attacks [thanks to Reflective Musings for the suggestion!]:

Once the shock had settled, I started to feel immense pride that the LAS, the other emergency services, the hospitals, and all the other support groups and organisations were all doing such an excellent job. To my eyes it seemed that the Major Incident planning was going smoothly, turning chaos into order.

And what you need to remember is that this wasn't a major incident, but instead four major incidents, all happening at once.

I think everyone involved, from the experts, to the members of public who helped each other, should feel pride that they performed so well in this crisis.

London won't be beaten, we spent 20 years under the shadow of the IRA, and are used to terrorists....

I'm back to 'normal' work tomorrow, I wonder what it'll be like.
[via Random Acts of Reality]


[via islamicate, emphasis mine]

Considering the London terror attacks:

1. It dawned on me, that as much as I talk about being Muslim and American, about the search for shared humanity, and today really brought home the point that even to me, subconsciously, there is a distinction – the internalization of being the “other?” – between a Muslim identity and other identities. And the bombings collapsed that division again.

2. However, Al-Qaeda, in their self-interested perception of the world have not only killed innocents, contrary to the revelation of the Qur'an, but they have moved the news spotlight on to their egotistical selves - further proof that they are not capable of dealing with a real jihad against their base selves. This is important, because regardless of what you think the G8 can accomplish, the fact that Tony Blair had climate change and poverty on the agenda was a monumental feat. Whatever the meeting itself accomplished, there was a renewed interest in those topics.

[via jen lemen]

"And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
-- From *Letters to a Young Poet*, Rainier Maria Rilke

Please, No Distractions

I was speaking to my Dad this morning - as we were both confirming that friends and family who live and travel around (or close to) London were safe - about the blasts. I expressed my concern that this could threaten the G8 summit, or at least give some the excuse to put their focus elsewhere. He then said that when you consider that a child dies every 3-seconds of poverty... Well, the point is, why do these deaths concern us and get the Politicians onto the nearest Helicopter and in front of the nearest cameras, when it's taken bloody ages for them to even talk about deaths in Africa. Is it skin-colour or proximity?

If anything - and this was my Dad's main point (in my words) - we need to strengthen our resolve to wipe out poverty in the face of these attacks. Rather than distracting us, they should bring home to us the pain of losing loved ones, the fear of living in the shadow of death and the inexcusibility of tyranny. The only valid response to the threat of death is the celebration of Life.
[via Leaving Munster, emphasis mine]

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else."
- Da Vinci

Hope Springs...

This evening, I asked myself what can we give thanks for today in the midst of the shock that terrorism brings to the city so close to my heart?...

I give thanks for two remarkable coincidences which seem likely to have contributed to the survival of victims because these circumstances facilitated medical care getting to the victims quicker: Firstly, the bomb on a bus went off outside the headquarters of the British Medical Association where doctors were attending meetings and were able to attend victims immediately. Secondly, a meeting of trauma doctors just happened to be occuring at the Royal London Hospital which meant that 18 top trauma doctors could quickly be airlifted to the scenes of these disasters to treat patients who remained trapped.
[via Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog]

Not a Hand Out?

No, I am not holding my breath. The solution will not come from Live Aid or from G8. It will come from Africans who will finally refuse to accept the nonsense they are subjected to by their asinine leadership and throw the lot of the useless cretins out.

It will come from Africans who will put their skills and abilities to use for their countries.

It will come from Africans who will refuse to acknowledge the empty gestures from Europe and America, whose only concern is how best to plunder the continent of its resources and people without ruffling too many feathers and upsetting too many of their taxpayers.

It will not, repeat NOT come from Bob Geldof and Tony Blair or any other two faced, ostensibly benevolent big brothers who shed crocodile tears and conveniently ignore the fact that they spend as much on dog food than on their goodwill "aid".

It will not come from Brad Pitt, George Clooney or indeed anyone attention hungry starlette whose only knowledge of Africa is that the people there speak a mysterious language called 'African', live on trees and swing from branch to branch clad in leopard skins while bellowing to each other....

The only people who can solve Africa's problems are Africans.
[via tHiNkEr's Room]

Which Comes First?

An interesting phenomena discovered by social scientist was a revelation that, at first, seemed counter-intuitive. It was commonly believed that to know a person’s attitude on certain subjects and situations was to be able to reliably predict their actions. To know “John” hated ice cream would allow you to predict how John would behave when offered ice cream, right?

Well, what the experts were astonished to find was that attitudes do not account for actions very well at all. In fact, the general rule discovered was that attitude accounts for 10% of the variance of behaviour, meaning you are still uncertain what an individual will do 9 out of 10 times.

With a title like that, where am I going, you ask? Hang on…

Now, what I find the most interesting is, in fact, behaviour generally leads to attitude change - completely fascinating. Once John eats ice cream, even after proffessing abhorrence for the stuff, John is very likely to change his feelings about ice cream. A simple example, one that could be eplained different ways, but this phenomenon is a proven relationship; behaviour causes attitudes.

So, if action feeds attitude, can laws change your own ardent view point? Can your strongly and deeply held belief actually be circumvented by legislation? Results from the laboratory and history resoundingly say yes.
[via Canadian Steele]

Not Quite Charitable

"... [A] good chunk of African countries have the most mediocre leadership ever to sully the face of this planet. We have fellows who buy themselves 400,000$ colossal cars and a week later are at the IMF gates with hats in hand. I dare say if these schmucks had strong grips attached to their trouser seats and they were bounced down the front steps they'd be forced to live within their means. Aid paid to most countries goes straight into numbered Swiss Accounts." - RoomThinker

A thinker who advertizes himself as an all-Black African, obviously an intellectual and a man with smarts, resident in and blogging from Kenya, is the someone who has the fortitude to make the statement above. Putting that in the open, so sweepingly and convincedly, allows those not from his milieu with questions regarding Live8, Christian Aid, and Make Poverty History 2005 to get past certain of the uncertainties about the Geldof proposal to white-sing the G8 into a pro-Africa state of mind. That means, RoomThinker gains an uncontested space, a thawt-space, to make the argument (to some degree tellingly) that the West is for the most part to blame for the economic impasse in Africa.
[via refWrite, emphasis mine]

War and Peace

I was at a house shared by some Mennonites, see, playing the Lord of the Rings version of Risk. I had never even played regular Risk before, but the game requires four players, and I was available. At church the day before I was talking to a young woman about it who said that she never played Risk either, but left it to her husband and his buddies. “Should Mennonites even be playing that?” she asked. “It’s about war!”

I brought this up with my competitors while we were setting up the game, and was told that it was an outlet. A nice Menno has gotta let off some steam. I’ve been wondering about that. In fact, I was already wondering about it when we saw Star Wars last month. Back when I was in grad school I took a course on the media and children, and this is what they called the “catharsis” theory: if kids enjoy violent entertainment they’ll get it out of their system and be able to go on peacefully the rest of the time. It is, not surprisingly, a popular idea with makers and supporters of violent entertainment. Trouble is, there’s really no evidence to support it. In fact, the various studies we looked at it that course offered a consistent connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior.

I don’t think it’s really going to make a difference on these adult Mennonite guys...

But there’s a larger question behind all this: what is fantasy? Modern society seems to assume that we have this ability mainly for our own amusement. Sure, there are important practical ways to apply imagination, in terms of inventing new technologies, creating strategies, and so on. Risk itself emphasizes that type of imagination. But what of a complete narrative, like the epic on which our game of Risk was based?
[via The Musings and Searchings of Camassia]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dead people don't give any grief...

There is nothing more painful or more heart breaking than a parent losing a child. And for Sheehan to lose her 24-year-old son, Casey, must have been like someone taking her very own heart and soul and, without warning, ripping them out and throwing them into the depths of hell.

No one should have to experience such pain, but the cold reality of war is that someone’s child actually dies and there are actual parents left living with the hopeless task of trying to cope with the pain. And anyone with any semblance of a heart and soul knows a mother coping with such a loss needs all the help and understanding she can get.

So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.

But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.

Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"
[via grrrl meets world]

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
[via Blog of the LostDog]

Kissed Goodbye

[via jollybeggar e-pistles]

the poisonous venom
of disunity can be
passed from one
believer to the next
in the context
of a holy kiss

no matter how one
spits and rinses
the aftertaste remains
and the effects
of the venom are
still to some
degree felt
in one's very bones

(much less one's heart.)

the sweetness of the kiss is lost.

Let's All Work Together, OK?

"We all know the big elephant in the room," says George Ayittey, a native of Ghana and an economics professor at American University in Washington. "The big elephant in the room is African governments.

"Africa has been totally mismanaged and misruled in the past decade. Nobody wants to talk about that because of political correctness. But Africa's begging bowl leaks, horribly."

While Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair hopes this week to push the Group of Eight leaders to spend an extra US$25-billion a year on foreign aid for Africa, Prof. Ayittey insists African leaders could pick up part of the bill themselves just by curbing their own corruption.

"I mean, it is noble for the rich countries to help Africa," he says. "But the real question is: What are African leaders themselves doing to help their own people?"
[Thanks Jordon for the link!]

Merely A Grand Gesture?

Although "the danger is that when the utopian dreams fail (as they will again), the rich-country public will get even more disillusioned about foreign aid." [Washington Post review]:

From the Publisher's Weekly review:

The book combines his practical experience with sharp professional analysis and clear exposition. Over 18 chapters, Sachs builds his case carefully, offering a variety of case studies, detailing small-scale projects that have worked and crunching large amounts of data. His basic argument is that "[W]hen the preconditions of basic infrastructure (roads, power, and ports) and human capital (health and education) are in place, markets are powerful engines of development." In order to tread "the path to peace and prosperity," Sachs believes it is encumbant upon successful market economies to bring the few areas of the world that still need help onto "the ladder of development." Writing in a straightfoward but engaging first person, Sachs keeps his tone even whether discussing failed states or thriving ones.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Blog of the LostDog has now linked to me. Another one to add to the list featured at the right. (Oh, he's also featured in the Wittenburg Door's Chat Closet section! He must be cool...or needs prayer!)

Darkest Before the Dawn

[via Quotidian Light]

" always seems that just when daily life seems most unbearable, stretching out before me like a prison sentence, when I seem most dead inside, reduced to mindlessness, bitter tears or both, that what is inmost breaks forth, and I realize that what had seemed 'dead time' was actually a period of gestation."
--Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries

Uhh...Thanks for the Help, But...

All this said, it is somewhat moving to see so much care about the world. To me, Bono was one of the few voices that had any kind of prophetic quality in all of this. He had the kind of authority you hold your breath at when he said this was an historic moment for the world. I loved it when he sang, "After the flood all the colours came out," and the doves were released.

In the end, this show had a ton of ironies, not the least of which were the performers. Randy Bachman showed he could still put on a good show. Yet, how does the laziness extolled in "Taking Care of Business" remove poverty?! How does the skankiness of Madonna and the gansgterism of Jay-Z remove poverty either? Isn't the same kind of self-congratulatory indulgence in these people the same problem that keeps the West from helping in the first place?
[via EternaLee]

Markets are a reflection of the zeitgeist. The zeitgeist can't help but drive politics and policy. Sometimes, if something looks familiar, it's because it is. In the past, our fear of the outer world has led to a wider and more war-like engagement with it. The Iraq war was a little bit pre-emptive, you might even say premature (and others will say immature), but no one can deny that the outer world is building up into greater challenges to our interests. Whether we (all of humanity) are given the time to address them as peacefully and let the tensions work out through market competition, or whether pressure will build swiftly enough to drive calls for war and violent competition, is largely out of our control.

If the global movie-going zeitgeist is such that outsiders appear terrifying and incomprehensibly violent, I wonder if this is a predictor for what that market will soon require of its politicians?
[via Hip Liz]

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Bad Taste of Love

I ache for the time that will be wasted in pining. I ache for it to be done and over with, but I'm only feeling the premonition before the storm. I know an ancient foreboding that lovers worldwide have felt before. I'm not alone in my yearning for resolution and solace.

So many people ache to know love, and too many struggle to maintain it. Equilibrium is attainable in chemistry; a perfect balance of forward and backward reactions that, if conditions remain constant, could retain it's oxidation and reduction rate forever. Human relationships aren't the same. Love can never find a balanced plane. The frugal nature of its instability is what makes it such a raw, passionate emotion felt by (a precious) few.

It's difficult to sleep when you count down the hours to what feels like the apocalypse.
[via Llama Drama]

The world is not what I think, but what I live through. I am open to the world, I have no doubt that I am in communication with it, but I do not possess it; it is inexhaustible.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Phenomenology of Perception.

[via grrrl meets world]

Not so Idealistic...

I used to be a big Celine Dion fan. I have a bunch of her CD's and I do enjoy her music....

Today she was on Live 8. While everyone else took a low profile approach, Celine was her usual diva like self from Las Vegas. Again, wonderful voice, annoying stage presense.
[via Wendy Cooper]

"Never Again" is Never Enough

I gave up having any faith in the phrase "never again" after Rwanda.

I now add another verbal formulation to the list of redundant phrases.

It is the sentence "We must learn the lessons."

It is of course invariably the precursor to the words "never again."

"We must learn the lessons of the Holocaust, or of Cambodia, or of Bosnia, or of Rwanda... and make sure that things like this..." and you know how this sentence ends, ..."things like this never happen again."
--from Why 'Never Again' Keeps Happening by Fergal Keane

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Just About Right?

About Karla Homolka's post-jail sentence:

I also think that the huge restrictions on her are an offense to the rights we have as citizens. Understand i don't really care about her, and i think her attempt to get the media off her back was silly. Perhaps part of the deal would have been witness protection. It wasn't. I don't know if it should have been. She has served her full term, not the 2/3 that people most often spend in jail for their crimes. I don't know if this was the right choice or not. I do know that the type of restrictions they have placed on her are the type of restrictions that they place on someone that is on parole. Yes they found another part of the law to use, but it is essentially parole type restrictions.

And with what she did this can feel right and fair to people. But allowing this how rights are eroded. Rights don't usually disappear suddenly but bit by bit, where it is not going to get a reaction. You start with people where it is going to feel right to citizens that their rights are eroded.It should get a much larger reaction that it does (or did in this case). Because it is easiest to regain your rights as citizens in a country when they first start being restricted not later. Look at the US right now, the Patriot Act needs to be renewed and not only do they want to renew what is in it but increase what they can do with the law.
[via From a Different Viewpoint, emphasis mine]

Live, Ate, Ashamed

No, I could never eat lobster, especially after God’s Word tells us about sin. How it looks inviting and desirable for a season, but in the end it's terribly misleading and leads to death.
[via Al Speegle]

Friday, July 01, 2005

Unique...Like Everyone Else

It's remarkable, considering the tone of so many Christian sermons and messages, that any church has honest people show up at all. I can't imagine that any religion in the history of humanity has made as many clearly false claims and promises as evangelical Christians in their quest to say that Jesus makes us better people right now. With their constant promises of joy, power, contentment, healing, prosperity, purpose, better relationships, successful parenting and freedom from every kind of oppression and affliction, I wonder why more Christians aren't either being sued by the rest of humanity for lying or hauled off to a psych ward to be examined for serious delusions....

You people with your Bibles. Look something up for me? Isn't almost everyone in that book screwed up? I mean, don't the screwed up people- like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Hosea- outnumber the "good Christians" by about ten to one? And isn't it true that the more we get to look at a Biblical character close up, the more likely it will be that we'll see a whole nasty collection of things that Christians say they no longer have to deal with because, praise God! I'm fixed? Not just a few temper tantrums or ordinary lies, but stuff like violence. Sex addictions. Abuse. Racism. Depression. It's all there, yet we still flop our Bibles open on the pulpit and talk about "Ten Ways To Have Joy That Never Goes Away!" Where is the laugh track?
[via Michael Spencer]

The End Justifies the Means?

I was twenty-six-years old when the infamous book 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Occur in '88 was #1 with a bullet in Christian bookstores, so I actually remember the fallout from it fairly well. People who believed that numerological piece of detritus did all sorts of wacky things. Most of the senior class of Cedarville Bible College not far from me went out and got married rather than die virgins. People by the score around the country euthanized their pets rather than see Fluffy fall into the hands of the animal-sacrificing Satan-worshipers that would run rampant across the country once all the Christians had been raptured. I was working full-time at a Christian camp and that book was all the young summer staff people could talk about. And they changed their behavior--for good or ill--simply because of that book. I was in the midst of a serious relationship at the time and despite the fact that I thought the whole book was utter ungodly hogwash it still crossed my virginal mind once or twice that perhaps I'd never get to...well, you know. Group-think has power, let me tell you....

People's eschatology governs their lives far more than we realize. The old aphorism is that there are no atheists in foxholes. Well, there's no pantribulationists, either.
[via Cerulean Sanctum]

Interior Design?

SPANISH men will be required to scrub toilets and change nappies as often as their harried wives under revolutionary reforms aimed at shattering the traditionally macho Latin nation's patriarchal division of labour in the home.

Changes to the marriage contract supported by the Socialist Government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, along with conservative Catholic and right-wing politicians, will force men and women to promise not only fidelity but equal shares of housework, childrearing and care of the elderly until death they do part.

As Australia grapples with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward's report calling on men to do their fair share of household chores, Spain has used the force of law to propel lazy husbands off their couches and marital beds and into the historically female territory of the kitchen, bathroom and nursery.

The historically socially conservative Catholic country dominated by a male hierarchy is undergoing a delayed social revolution, evidenced by yesterday's decision by Spain's parliament to legalise gay marriage.
[via ScotWise]

It takes a village they say...

To watch a child go down the drain.

Family isn't the only institution oftentimes full of salivating spectators content to watch the failure of one or more it's own members in this dysfunction we call culture/society.
[via Been There...Still There]

The more things stay the same...

[via Poor Blogger]

As I pondered the different boycotts, I began to think of the similarities between the extreme right and extreme left. For instance, you often hear about the conservative, fundamentalist, Christian homeschoolers. However, there are also many liberal, fundamentalist (yes, they can be too), non-Christian homeschoolers. Each group shares a desire to remove their children from the polluting influence of the public schools to a more pure, righteous environment (tailored by the parent).

Each group of extremists often seeks to create a cloistered community, apart from "the world." For the left, this might be a hippie commune. For the right ... well ... a Christian commune.

You will hear each side accuse the media of being controlled by conservative or liberal interests, depending on who is talking. NPR's "All Things Considered" reads mail on Thursdays. If there is ever a controversial story, you will hear both sides bemoaning the liberal/conservative bias of the reporter, who ignores the "facts" or "truth" of the matter. As a result, both sides boycott the news for more "fair" sources. I suppose, for the right, that would be the 700 Club and for the left ... I don't know ... French news?

Both sides have their loud, obnoxious personages who "speak the truth". Primarily, I'm thinking of Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh.

Finally, each to varying degrees feels justified in using "whatever means necesary" to achieve their ends. This might be Greenpeace ramming a whaler or an abortion clinic bombing. Regardless, the farther from the center you get, the greater the civil disobedience,...