Friday, January 23, 2009

Curiosity, Determination, Optimism

Why get worked up over a machine that was slowly shutting down?

It wasn’t the machine itself that we loved: the metals, the mechanisms, the scientific equipment. It was the human spirit that had sent it there, so many miles from our home, not for profit or war or necessity, but simply because there was a chance to discover something we’d never known before. So many people had dreamed, had planned, had worked to put that bit of metal on that frozen surface, and the light of the human spirit shone as bright as any star. The freezing chill of Martian winter may have caused the machine to shut down, but the spirit it embodies is still there, as strong as ever, burning bright with curiosity, determination, and optimism. {full post}
[via Deluded Wine]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day of Reckoning

President-elect Barack Obama is quite different from Reverend King. Obama has never been a pastor; he did not grow up in the segregated South; and Obama has been elected to a political office, while King held a prophetic office (by personal conviction and seeming acclamation). Yet four years may provide a sad resemblance. The chances for disenchantment seem eerily similar. If 2008 hearkens back to 1963, will 2012 be reminiscent of 1967? As so many politicians and pundits have commented, Obama will become President with more crises on his hands than fingers. His followers voted for “change” but what will change mean in manifest form?

The potential for dashed dreams and unfulfilled prophecies is high. How shall we avoid disappointment? How can we not get stuck in a nightmare of a dream? If “Yes We Can” sounds as distant in 2012 as “I Have a Dream” did in 1967, where will we turn for help? Perhaps we should turn to the words of another American prophet, W. E. B. Du Bois, and link them to the vision of King. Du Bois, who died only a day before King’s epic speech, called Americans not to dream, but to wake up. “Awake, awake” he implored Americans as the prophet Isaiah had for the Israelites. Seeing the “day of reckoning” at hand, Du Bois charged Americans to “put on thy strength.” King and Du Bois knew – and President-elect Obama knows—that faith takes works, hope demands honesty, and love needs justice. {full post}
[via Religion Dispatches, HT: Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

What Kind of People?

Tomorrow we welcome in a new President, Barack Obama, and bid farewell to another -- George W. Bush. I'm not a fan of the exiting President. I'm one of those who thinks he ranks at the bottom of the list, though where is hard to determine. Some Presidents simply didn't live long enough to make a mark (William Henry Harrison). James Buchanan was one of the most experienced Presidents ever, but he sat and did nothing as the nation moved toward dissolution. Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, both did poorly. Where in that anti-pantheon will Bush fit, history will have to determine.

But at the same time, it is possible to say that we might not have been the best of people either.
We are a people given to a sense of exceptionalism, a sense that we are inherently good, and it's difficult for us to look inside and see anything else.

On the day before Inauguration Day, Martin Marty takes a look at this issue -- not so much about Bush, but about us. What kind of people do we wish to be? I think its a question worth pondering. {continue...}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

How Barack Obama Won

Something Big

[via Indexed]

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Next Symbol

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the world was left without a cold war nemesis for many years. The void is arguably still there, although “Muslim countries” have essentially taken its place as the nemesis of the West, at least in the eyes of radical conservatives (if we’re to believe the blogosphere and airhead news stations)....

The Soviets and Bush both earned their roles of global scorn buckets, but their disappearances leave an uncertain future for haters and alarmists everywhere.

Who or what will become the next symbol of global tyranny and mismanagement? Is Obama doomed to fill this role, or do you think it will be someone else? I think it will easily go to some figure other than Obama or someone in his government. The question is, will it be someone already familiar to Canadians and Americans, or will it be a new creation? {full post}
[via Abandones Stuff by Saskboy]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not A Useful Narrative

Israel should be seen as any other nation state trying to defend itself, and should be held accountable for when they, like other nation states, over-react and cause more harm then they have to in war. In other words, the counter narrative here is not to see Hamas as some kind of "freedom fighter" going against an evil colonial regime, but to see Israel as over-reacting--perhaps understandably, but still over-reacting to terrorism. As one writer noted (lost the link) Israel has fallen into a rather dysfunctional way of responding to their enemies, and seem to have decided to respond with hatred to hate, and with killing to loss. One TMP writer compared this conflict to the Spanish Civil War where many Americans and Brits imagined (correctly) that Franco was a terrible enemy, but missed that those fighting for the Communists were hardly better. When George Orwell tried to point that out, he was shunned by those who wanted to see those battling Franco as good.

Not comparing Israel to either side, actually, but merely noting that in this particular war, good versus evil is not a useful narrative, and, I believe, stops us from getting to any kind of genuine solution. {full post}
[via Streak's Blog]

Since It's Almost Over...

President Bush's Legacy: One of Our Greatest Presidents
[via Jon Swift]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Why it is important not to love the God of the Bible
[via Ancient Hebrew Poetry]

Perfect Places To Live Out Love

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

And that’s it, isn’t it? We spend our time dreaming about how things could be, could’ve been, should be. We feel trapped in whatever circumstance we’re in. But the truth is that the could and the should don’t matter. The circumstances don’t matter. Those aren’t the things that trap us. It is the love and freedom which we allow (or don’t allow) for ourselves in those circumstances which traps us.

In so many ways I’ve got the “ideal” life. Yet, I’ve created this wonderful, seemingly inescapable, web of self-doubt, self-loathing, and guilt, that the “ideal” life is not ideal at all. And it’s only when I allow myself to love and be loved, allow myself the freedom to make mistakes and live and commune with others fully, that the “ideal life” will be achieved.

The “ideal life” comes when our thinking changes. When those things — demands, obligations, fears — that used to trap us and rob us of what we really wanted are, instead, viewed as the perfect places to live out our love. My kids and all of their demands and inconveniences are not preventing me from experiencing life, they are the gateway to a better kind of life than I could possibly imagine or have ever hoped for. The thing that trapped me the most can set me free. {full post}
[via VanderMeander]

Friday, January 02, 2009

Unclean but Touchable

Earlier this month we witnessed the Shoes Heard 'Round the World, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi chucked both of his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference.

This prompted a slew of articles helpfully explaining that al-Zeidi was expressing anger at Bush -- as though his gesture had somehow been open to any other interpretation. When this quaintly exotic foreign man called the president a "dog," these articles further explained, this was also meant to express contempt. In the Arab world, the articles all said, shoes and dogs are regarded as unclean....

So here's an invitation or a challenge for the New Year: Sign up for the scavenger hunt. Take the Big List of the unclean and the untouchable and turn it upside down and inside out. Seek out those people instead of avoiding them. Touch them and let them touch you. {full post}
[via slacktivist]

From the Best Thing That Ever Happened...

But what hurt the worst was knowing
that I haven't loved well.
We are all one day from sterilizing laundromat washers
from HIV
from unemployment
from loneliness
from love
from the best thing that ever happened.
I'm sorry that I didn't remember.

Maybe in 2009. {full post}
[via biscotti brain]

What I've Become, What I've Appreciated

Welp. 2008 is almost gone. I hear echoing in my brain the many sermons I’ve heard over the years that go something like this, “Some of you have had the best year of your life, and some of you have had the worst year of your life . . .”

I’ve experienced some of both, but that’s for the violins, and I’m not into violins tonight.

What I am into is what I’ve become and what I’ve learned to appreciate this past year. I’ve become much more pessimistic and cautious. And what I’ve learned is to appreciate the endless energy and optimism and hope of youth. As I’ve become more callous, I’ve become more thankful for those who have yet to experience anything in life that would curb these qualities.

I’ve learned that energy is not wasted on the youth even though they lack wisdom gained from experience and are often reckless. {continue...}
[via Recon's Black Ops]

If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else.

- Simone Weil (1909 - 1943)
[quoted via Notes From Off-Center]

Unchanging Resolutions

We make resolutions because we recognize that we are not where we need to be. We become lax, lazy, tired. We fall out of good habits and into bad ones. Our good intentions never get realized. We are constantly shifting, reshaping, reforming, and it's probably not in a good way unless we reshape ourselves with purpose and determination.

God on the other hand will be making no new year's resolutions....

This New Year's as you think about all the changes you anticipate in yourself and in your life, be thankful that God's new year's day will be just like all the days that preceded it.

What do you think about that? What are you pondering this New Year? {full post}
[via The Church of No People]

The Dream Was My Path and It Ends

Life is gone, but the eyes can not see,
The ears do not hear, the faint cry of worth.
Like smoke wisps on the breath of a failing heart,
Watch as what was to be and what would be-

I’m dying, but you’ll never mourn.
I’m dying, but you’ll never see.
The dream was my heart and it’s dying.
The dream was my path and it ends.
{full poem, No Eulogy}
[via Of a Pastoral Wannabe]