Monday, July 31, 2006

About the Lebanon conflict:

From an Arab Christian scholar

From a Messianic Jewish Reservist

End of Hostilities

These are difficult times for those of us who fall into neither of the two distinct camps that have dominated the debate over the Israeli-Hezbollah war on talk radio and segments of the blogosphere.

The first camp supports the Israeli incursion to the hilt. It supports not only the Israeli incursion into Lebanon but any and all Israeli attacks on Arabs. These are the people who opposed the Oslo process, believe that Israel’s peace with Egypt is next to worthless, and railed against the Gaza withdrawal. This camp, far larger in the United States than in Israel, welcomes events which seem to demonstrate that Israel needs to live behind an iron wall and that peace with Arabs is a fantasy.

The second camp consists of those who view Israel as the source of all the problems in the Middle East. The Jews’ original sin was, of course, establishing a state in the first place. Ever since, Israel has recklessly used violence to advance the goal of a Greater Israel. Even when Israel pulls out of territory, it does so for nefarious reasons. As for Lebanon, Israel’s actions are war crimes and are, needless to say, utterly unjustified....

But here’s the problem. People seem to be confusing Hezbollah with the Palestinians, or at least pretending to.

The rightwing American Jewish crowd does that because it wants to convey the idea that the Palestinians are, like Hezbollah, terrorists whose goal is simply to kill Jews. Just as Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Hezbollah, it can’t negotiate with the Palestinians either.

The anti-Israel crowd takes a mirror image approach. The Palestinians are a legitimate resistance movement that is fighting to end an occupation. So too then is Hezbollah, a liberation movement fighting for its land.

Both arguments are wrong....

One Senate aide put it to me like this. “If I were Israeli, I’d cut a deal with the Palestinians now. I’d tell them that in return for the release of Shalit and an end of the Kassam attacks, Israel will stop attacking Gaza and start serious talks with Abbas about a long-term end of hostilities. That would cut the legs out from under Hezbollah. It would allow Israel to devote all its energy to eliminating the threat from the north. The last thing Israel needs is for Palestinian Sunnis and Lebanese Shiites to form a common front. It should split them before it happens and cut a deal now. The Egyptians are working to produce a Palestinian popular front that would deal with Israel. Israel needs to be encouraging that.”

That makes sense. The world sympathizes with Israel’s determination to eradicate Hezbollah. Even the Arab League has tempered its criticism of Israel.

Why not exploit the moment? What harm would it do?
No harm, except to destroy the arguments of the extremists on both sides who insist that Hezbollah and the Palestinians are identical which means, in the case of Jewish hawks, that they both should be destroyed and, in the case of Hezbollah apologists, that Israel should simply sit back and allow the country to be supplanted by a Muslim Arab state.

There is another way. Support Israel in its war with Hezbollah while striving for a workable cease-fire, and support the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians who understand that the establishment of a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel is the sine qua non for any kind of Middle East stability.
[via TPM Cafe, HT: Streak's Blog]

Friday, July 28, 2006

Neighbourhood History

When does understanding racial characteristics stop and expecting or even revelling in racial failing begin? See, I know what to expect from people from various countries, but I want to accept them and help them see the bigger picture. I hate (that’s not too strong a word) the way countries colour their history, hedging in their citizens understanding. Living in a world where conspiracy theories proliferate at the drop of a hat doesn’t help: most of the time people bumble through life, staggering from one crisis to another. There are very, very few that can manipulate things in the sophisticated and detailed manner that those who look for black helicopters imagine. Most of the time life for ordinary people is just trying to scratch a living, doing their jobs, loving their kids (seeing their mistresses) making sure there’s food and clothes and transport to work.
[via The blog of the Ancient Mariner]

Sometimes the errors we make are more in the strength of our emphasis rather than the legitimacy of specific practice or belief.
[via The Heresy]

Shared Goods

One of Judaism's most distinctive and challenging ideas is its ethics of responsibility. We have been given the gift of freedom and we in turn have to honour and enhance the freedom of others. However, more than in any previous generation, we have come to see the individual as the sole source of meaning. In To Heal a Fractured World Jonathan Sacks argues that this is a mistake for ethics are concerned with the life we live together and the goods we share only exist by virtue of being shared.

Sacks's argument demonstrates a profound engagement with the human condition today. Drawing from a vast and diverse intellectual tradition Sacks speaks with as much authority about the Hebrew Bible as he does about Maimonides, Sigmund Freud, or Hannah Arendt


"But what if ...?" And here come the hypotheticals (which aren't really necessary since the world is full of actuals) positing all the many scenarios in which it is not only acceptable, but obligatory, to take some action that will, in fact, result in civilians getting killed.

The common thread in all of these scenarios -- hypothetical or actual -- is the idea of double effect....

That's what separates an army from a barbarian horde. That's what separates a soldier from a thug with a gun.

The key elements here are the intent, the justice/goodness and necessity of the primary effect, and the inescapable/unavoidable nature of the secondary, unintended effect. All of which sets the bar considerably higher than the oversimplified cartoon version of "the ends justifies the means."

If there is any possible way to achieve the intended effect without producing the unintended effect, then double-effect does not apply -- the doctor may not slice, the general may not attack. If there is any possible way to achieve the necessary intended effect without producing the unintended effect and you act, instead, in a way that produces this secondary effect, then you have not produced "collateral damage," you have simply slaughtered civilians.
[via slacktivist]

Leveling the Field

Seminary professor Glen Stassen writes in Kingdom Ethics, "All members of an enemy nation retain the sanctity of their lives, for they were created in the image of God."

Leaning on Michael Walzer's work, Just and Unjust Wars, Stassen writes: "Bombing a military target like a tank or a weapons factory may have the indirect effect of killing some civilians. That is a realistic and allowable consequence of war (though nonetheless horrible), so long as it truly is unintentional and indirect, and its cost in lives is proportional to the gain."

The Baptist ethicist goes on to explain, "This is the principle of double effect--that is, the primary effect of the war is to kill soldiers and destroy military targets, but the secondary effect is some spillover death (to civilians) and destruction (to nonmilitary targets)."

However, Stassen points out that civilian right to life means that "extra care" must be taken to avoid killing civilians....

He writes, "It is easy to see how stringent application of just war theory places severe limits on war-making, in both senses—whether or not to fight a war, and how a war is fought."

Just war theory tells us that Israel's missiles and shells are no more just than Hezbollah's rockets.
[via Ethics Daily, HT: Jesus Politics]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm just 22 hexadecimally!

Well, today was my 34th birthday, or as I like to say, 17 twice. Yesterday night, my friends Warren, Kathy and Cherrie took me to Bonanza to eat, which was a suprise as I wasn't expecting it. (I was expecting to help Warren with some tasks before it stormed instead.)

Later, they came by my place to hang out, and presented me with Sonar Home Studio 4 that plays and composes music on my computer. (I was definitely NOT expecting that!) Warren had thought of it since I had the Fruity Loops Demo a couple of years ago and happened to enjoy it. I also got a card reminding me of how much...commitment I should expect from them. Let's just say math, reptiles and stairs are deal-breakers, as Dr. Phil would say.

Cherrie showed me a new song called You're Pitiful from Weird Al's website, which I didn't take personally (*laughs*). I was just glad that Kathy and Cherrie were able to be there, as it is amazingly difficult to get any of my single women friends to visit or chat. (Am I that uncomfortable? Are they that busy?)

Today, I went to see Ice Age 2 at Rainbow Cinemas this afternoon on my own before going to McNally-Robinson to browse a bit while waiting for the supper rush at KFC to subside. For supper I went to KFC to get a Toonie Tuesday with a large potato salad to celebrate. Soon I thought about my friend Liz, who was with me on my birthday two years ago. (It was a very enjoyable birthday memory, even if I was quite dehydrated from walking in the blistering sun that day!) I considered calling her after I watched some TV and ate my meal, but I lost my nerve when I figured I'd just be distracting while she adjusts to life back in Saskatoon.

As I look back over the last year, I'm struck by how it feels like a transitional time. There's the sense that something will happen to me to enrich my life in the next year, yet it doesn't quite feel tangible right now. I certainly don't want to ruminate over it, especially since it could be just the experience of age, but it's awkward and frustrating while it's happening. I just wish I knew what it meant right now.

Well, that sounded a bit heavy, didn't it? I'm not finished celebrating my birthday until the end of this week, so don't feel you missed it yet! May the next year be blessed for all who read this.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

[A poem I wrote today...]


such tenuous cradling

subtle whispers in her mouth
my delights, my despair
my failures, my freedom
both open and shut at once

such emphatic tenderness

watch my tongue though as it wags
the gossip, the guilted
the lying, the lusting
hushed before we blushed in time

such delicate intercourse
it nearly tells about us

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Life Space

I was minding my own business this afternoon, toodling down Rainier Ave. toward Trader Joe’s, listening to NPR discussions of the situation in the Middle East and feeling at once very sad about it all but also removed from the tragedy. Suddenly, about 10 yards ahead of me, in the other lane, a car came to a sudden stop, I heard a thump and saw something go flying. There was a big SUV in front of me so I was spared the details but the car had hit a pedestrian or a cyclist or maybe someone on a scooter. Everything came to a stop, about a dozen cell phones came out and we all sat there for a few minutes. Those of us not directly involved were able to exit Rainier and go on about our business, but we had to drive past the victim. I couldn’t see much (to be honest, I wasn’t looking that closely) but the person seemed to be very, very still. And while there were a lot of people standing nearby, no one was actually with the body…which tells me that there wasn’t anything anyone could do....

The convergence of these incidents has had me thinking all afternoon. Life is precious. And it can be taken very quickly. I am personally holding out for the quiet-passing-on-in my-sleep-when-I’m-412 mode of exiting the planet but it is a good, if unsettling thing, to be forced to contemplate the tenuous nature of human life. Which I was doing as I wandered the aisles of Trader Joe’s looking for aioli and figs and tomato paste. And I felt pretty darned lucky to be able to do so. Because I am, for now, here and it would be a shame not to be just a bit more mindful of that gift....

“With everything that is going on in the world right now,” I said, “would it really hurt people to extend just a smidge of courtesy?”

She replied, “Oh, there’s no courtesy anymore”. I felt inclined to agree with her but it made me sad because I’d just seen death and had been thinking about embracing life more fully and somehow courtesy seemed to factor into that. You know, I’m still here and you’re still here so while we are let’s park our cars properly so as not to inconvenience others.
[via Here's the Thing]

Risky Community

Casinos depress me. Now,I'm not a gambling legalist; I know people perfectly able to go there with their $15 or $20, gamble with their chump change until it's gone and then happily belly up to the buffet and call it a splendid day. That's just not my idea of a good time, unless I were with a very ironic friend who'd help me laugh at the absurdity of it all. But most of the people I see at casinos don't look like people having a good time. They look grim, as if they've just shown up for a day of hard work, and they are so seemingly obsessed with winning the big jackpot that they seem to ignore whatever other enjoyments there are to be had at the resort....

So it was almost supernaturally ironic to be sitting in the midst of this Vanity Fair reading Marva Dawn, a scathing critic of pop culture. The book in question is Truly the Community, her meditation on Paul's letter to the Romans and his appeal to a way of living and being together that preserves and celebrates our God-given uniqueness as individuals even as it binds us into a truly mutually caring, mutually accountable community of believers....

So often we do not respect the broad diversity in our midst, nor do we always take seriously the idea of forging real community among ourselves, or grounding ourselves in values other than personal acquisition and entertainment and trying to live up to some constantly shifting societal standard of normalcy.
[via LutheranChik's "L" Word Diary]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


There is no kind of loneliness more lonely than when no one in the world knows who you are. When there is no one waiting to see what a tender and fragile thing you could take out of your chest, like someone taking a hamster out of a cage. There is no one there, but you know exactly what it would be like.{continued...}
[via Real Live Preacher]

Taking Little Notice

[via chick truths]

Do not listen to me compound
a part of you that I have found
makes me like you more than I want
therefore I shape it into what I cannot.

Difficult for me to even accept
because at my best I am inept
at loving that which adores me too
think anything doing so just will not do.

from the poem The Calligrapher and the Origamist

The Taters of Christ, the Milk of Heaven

With interviews of Terry Mattingly (Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture), Brett Younger (Who Moved My Pulpit? A Hilarious Look at Ministerial Life) and Robert Darden (Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Introducing the Bible by Telling Its Stories)

Also includes The Gospel According to Napoleon Dynamite, The Tao of the American Evangelical, The War on Error, Estrogen Dampens Holy Spirit, Why Benny Hinn is Better Than Chuck Norris and much more.

Loser of the Bi-Month: Bet Your Bottom Dollar. The Last Word about the joy of repentance.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

As Rybncynski sees it, leisure has become despotic in our age, enslaving us and exhausting us, demanding from us more than it gives. We all know how unsatisfying mere leisure can be. We’ve all know what it’s like to return to the classroom or the workplace after a time spent in revelry or retreat, in hijinks or hibernation: typically, we go back weary and depressed, like jailbirds caught. The time away from work wasn’t time sanctified so much as time stolen, time when we escaped for a short-lived escapade.

"The difference between this and Sabbath couldn’t be sharper. Sanctifying some time adds richness to all time, just as an hour with the one you love brings light and levity to the hours that follow. To spend time with the object of your desire is to emerge, not sullen and peevish, but elated and refreshed. You come away filled, not depleted."

--from The Rest of God by Mark Buckanan
[via do YOU think it'll fly]

Vengeance May Be Mine, Saith the Lord, But...


Going back to my first post in this series, the apocalypse in general gives hope to the oppressed. In America, it gives hope to the culturally estranged, conservatives who see the culture changing around them, outside of their control. The government, liberals, Hollywood, globalization and pluralism are all blamed for rising crime, a coarsening culture and changing cultural norms....

It would be easy to slip into resentment, anger and hatred of the prevailing culture, along with a growing conviction that the old ways were godly and the new ways are not.

It’s a small step from there to hoping, even confidently anticipating, God’s violent vengeance being wreaked upon the sinners. It would be a vindication, justice, revenge and restitution all in one, accomplished by a stroke of the sword coming from the Lord’s mouth. This desire for revenge isn’t seen as self-serving, but as God fulfilling his promise to institute his reign on earth.
[via I am a Christian Too, emphasis mine]


All too often, we are too content to do just the day to day things that concern us directly that we are willing to surrender the larger issues to others without a thought until it is too late. Then when we are awakened to things not being right, we then too often spend al of our energy seeking others to blame. Because if we can find others to pin the failing on we can more quickly go back to our stuporous shells and not change our style of living in any way....

Yet can I really blame anyone else for that? No, I have to accept responsibility for my flight from appropriate responsibility. When I stop paying attention, when I stop asking questions, when I stop thinking about issues, I will be brought to a place where I no longer have choices and options and opportunities. I have lost my freedom by failing to live the stewardship of freedom.
[via A Labyrinthine Journey]

Uncontainable and Unconfortable

In fact we are always tempted, as human beings, to seek refuge is some unattainable future-ness and/or past-ness to give comfort or authority to our struggles in the present. Either that or we give the contingency of the present absolute authority, perhaps thinking that "what we make with our own hands, now" will somehow be sufficient to ensure that we are not deluded. If only.

Constructed nowness as the only viable path is the conviction of many good humanists, who have (rightly) rejected the god of human creation, yet wrongly deduce that this is "all there is to it" and hope that "we have the power in ourselves" to make it all right. If only. The evidence around and before us, when considered without romanticism, is not encouraging, however. Which is why it may be good news that God is not the 'God' we developed through our infancy and continue to project in our adolescence - and is therefore not, in fact, "ruled out" by the rejection of religion or the gods or metaphysics.

For as David Jenkins has also pointed out, the God who we meet in both the promise and perversion of the biblical world is not a prisoner to that world - but challenges it (and us) from within and beyond... subverting (especially) those who thought they had "pinned down" the divine in a text or a dogma. This is the truth the text demonstrates and yields to, at every turn. In fact, therefore, the "real" traditionalist is the person who recognises the dynamic movement and un-fixability of the God who refuses to be our possession or creation. And in the Christian experience, God is known decisively in a fleeting person not an immovable text -- flesh that is vulnerable, killable and abusable... but which we discover, by experience, to be joined to the uncapturable divine life in a way that defies description and reverses the domain of death. (That, not zombie ideology or mere narratology, is what is "meant" by resurrection).
[via FaithInSociety]

Struggling Friendships

My friends were good friends. Life friends. The people that I spent time with and shared myself with were - are - people that I enjoy and trust and really, really like. There aren't a lot of them. Acquaintances come and go, and I assumed that I would have a lot less contact with acquaintances once the mother ship landed. But my friends, I assumed, would understand that I would no longer be able to dash out for coffee or spend long, lazy evenings drinking wine and chatting. Not for a while, anyway.

So I was gobsmacked to read, in a recent e-mail from someone with whom I have been very close friends for over a decade, that I had been neglecting the friendship and that, accordingly, she viewed the friendship as dead. We had been exchanging e-mails and occasional phone calls, but it wasn't, in her view, enough. So that was it. It was over. "I've already mourned the loss," she said, "don't e-mail me back."

There's much that could be said about this, about the shock and hurt that accompanies the sudden and unexpected death of a friendship....

I get this. Sort of. Which is to say, I would get this if I had been the sort of friend who regularly confided secrets and fears. But I wasn't. Oh, I would, certainly, regularly catch good friends up on what was going on in my life, things that were bugging me, that kind of thing. But I've never been the sort of friend who easily shares her anxieties and fears and griefs....

I can't change that. I don't want to change that. I am very, very sorry that this makes my friend unhappy. I didn't want the friendship to end; any perceived neglect was unintentional, the result of the circumstances of a new, strange life, a life that is no longer fully my own. But that friendship could only live in these new circumstances under the terms of these new circumstances.
[via Her Bad Mother, HT: Sarah and the Goon Squad]


[via Uncorked, HT: Scott Williams]

And I doubt much less than a total erosion of my ability to cope could have caused me to face the reality of my own reflection.

There's alot of advantages in refusing to face yourself. It excuses the past, it makes the present seem easier, it makes the future avoidable...

Letting go of old ways has cleared the way for new ones...I've seen that the inevitable scars of life have instead become beauty marks, and that the rerouting of roads has paved the way to hope.

Sometimes it's not so bad to let landslide bring you down.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Life, Faded

[via Gummie-Worm Pizza]

My lashes laced with drying tears,
I'm afraid to close my eyes.
Afraid of memories that flood my mind,
I'm screaming inside.

I wash my face with tears,
Try to clear my mind with time.
I watch my sky turn blue to black,
See stars fall 'round my feet.{the full poem}


[via Twyla Central]

There is a store that exists in many places, in many hearts, and it leaves nothing to chance. It exists somewhere in your subconscious, and those that visit it regularly find themselves oddly content.

They do not take credit, all that passes for currency is love. They take smiles, hugs, and embraces. They take marriage vows, kisses in the rain, and wiping a tear off someone's face. There's only one way to enter it - you need to be thinking about doing something for someone you know. Then a door appears in your mind, and you can visit this precious place.

I visited my store last night when I was sad and lonely. I didn't want to go to the back of the store, because many of the front shelves were empty. I hadn't been there often. Usually I just glanced sadly at the empty shelves in the front of the store and broke down. Today something was different.

But when I walked through the store, there was a transformation - at the back of the store I saw a sign hanging from a blurry, distant shelf, and the sign said, "Memories." I came closer...[continued...]