Friday, October 31, 2008
As I wrote on Twitter the other day (I cannot bring myself to say "tweeted" - I think the more proper term may be "twitted"),
I am sick of the next president already.No matter which loser wins next Tuesday.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I love lemon bars. Moreover, I love them the way the Brits make them, which are actually lemon ginger bars. Lemon and ginger are simply two of the best flavors to mix together. My son Jon and I still miss Carr's lemon ginger creme cookies since I no longer travel to England. [I also miss not being able to bring back Marks & Spencers brown sauce, which I liked much better than the HP brand and which kicks our closest relation to it, Heinz 57 sauce, in the @$$.]
Anyway, I rarely bake desserts but got a hankering for some lemon ginger bars Sunday, so I took the Joy of Cooking's lemon bar recipe (which seemed the closest to what I was looking for), ignored the optional coconut and added fresh ginger instead. The results were exceedingly tasty. I was instantly transported back to the small sandwich shop in Norwich where I would get an egg salad and cress sandwich and a lemon ginger bar for lunch.
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp double-acting baking powder
2 slightly beaten eggs
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (about half a large lemon's worth)
2 tsp grated lemon peel (about half a large lemon's worth - very finely shredded)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Add and combine the melted butter. Press the mixture into a greased 8"x8" baking pan and bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour these ingredients over the baked warm crust and bake 25 minutes. Chill. Before serving cut into 2" squares and sprinkle with more powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Note: They are even better the second day. The ginger seems to come out more.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I've been wanting to write about the following for quite some time but have held off because I didn't want to piss off my blog friends. I mean, I can be fairly confrontational at times ("Really? We hadn't noticed!"), and I know I often come across as "blunt" and "direct" in real life as well as here, and I've lost friends over it. I guess I sh/could be more circumspect but that wouldn't be honest and it wouldn't be me.
That said, I want to make it clear the following isn't about you and your blog. It's about me and my (flawed, I'm sure) reactions to certain things I read.
Remember - not about you and your blog.
OK? Pinky swear it's OK, or don't read further.
Here's the deal - there are certain forms of address, certain choices of names for God that really rankle me. They just sound "wrong" to me. The primary one is "Papa". And yes, yes, I know all about the "Abba, Father" form of address, and that we should all love and trust God as children, and that there's a Biblical basis for it. So I am not saying it's scandalous, blasphemous nor heretical. It's just...off-putting. I don't even know if I can explain it.
I have a father and he's a great dad and I love him a lot. He's been nothing but a good role model and friend, the latter coming more into play as we go through our adult years. He is a quiet, gentle man who, according to statistics, should have passed along the angry beatings and abuse of his upbringing and instead never laid a hand on me and only showed me love. Even so, I don't call him Papa either. There's a combination of maturity on both sides and respect toward him on mine that keeps me from that.
And for all that What a Friend We Have in Jesus is an old hymn I am not looking for a friend, either. And definitely not the best-friend/boyfriend Jesus many modern worship songs seem to push. I have friends, and I have a father. And neither have saved me from myself, my sin or death.
So, if I don't like the term "Papa":
...and I don't want a buddy:
...then what do I want? I choose, "God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord."
- Inspiring awe; filling with profound reverence, or with fear and admiration; fitted to inspire reverential fear; profoundly impressive; as, an awful scene.
- Struck or filled with awe; (obsolete: terror-stricken).
- Worshipful; reverential; law-abiding.
Hell, I am old-fashioned enough that I still use Ye Olde Capitalized Pronouns when discussing God in the third person. Long after most Bible translations, scholars and laypersons have moved on from using "He" and "Him" when referring to God or Jesus I still do. I think of it as a sign of respect and reverence. A reminder to remain in awe. And I'll note that while I am a skeptic about paid clergy and professional theologians it is worth remarking that few if any of the "pros" I follow ever seem to use informal terms of address for God or Jesus or the Holy Ghost. [And as a tangent, how come people seem more comfortable addressing God and Jesus informally when it is the Spirit that actually and actively works in their lives? If you're going to be on a first name basis with anyone in the Trinity, it should be the Ghost.]
I think Jeff said it best last month in his post, If God Is My Father, How Can Jesus Be My Boyfriend?... He takes a much more nuanced stance there than I am here, saying:
Every metaphor breaks down at some point.Amen.
If you only focus on describing God in terms of one human relationship, your picture of God will become warped and distorted at some level.
So if every metaphor breaks down, why use metaphors at all? Because when you take them together, not exalting one over the other...you get a more balanced picture of God. Each relationship metaphor reveals a different aspect of His nature. Like a mosaic, each piece fits in place to make the picture clearer--not perfectly clear, but certainly clearer than if you just focus on one piece.
- If you only see God as Father, you will balk when He has to render judgment. You'll only want to crawl into His lap, when maybe it's more appropriate at the moment to fall at His feet. (And even your idea of a "father" will be based somewhat on flawed human experiences.)
- If you only see Jesus as your Friend (read: "Homeboy"), you are more likely to relate to Him with hi-fives and chest-bumping, and you won't show the proper respect that is due the Creator of the Universe.
- If you only see God as a Judge, you will likely be legalistic, inordinately hard on yourself, and even harder on others--and you won't let yourself get emotionally close to God.
- If you only see Jesus as the Bridegroom and a Lover--admittedly, that can get just plain weird.
I love how Paul put it: "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face." (1 Cor. 13:12) That's a really good way to put it. Right now...the metaphors, the analogies--they are all we have, all we are able to process with our finite nature. But one day...the picture will be crystal clear.
Because it won't be a picture. It won't be a metaphor, or a group of metaphors. It will be God. Face to face with us.
But for now...we need the metaphors, because they help us relate to an infinte God in a finite world. And we need all of them--not just the ones we like the best.
So, remembering this post was about my reactions to certain terms and not a blast at anyone or their blog in particular (remember, you pinky swore!)...What do you think?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This weekend the kids are home for the first time in four weekends. They spend every second weekend at their father's, and we try and make sure that their grandparents get them at least one weekend a month, too. But that leaves only a weekend a month for them to be here. And because we pay them allowance for chores that means they are cleaning the house today, since it's the one weekend a month they'll have the opportunity to do it (and trying to get chores done during school nights after homework and before showers and dinner just doesn't work very well).
Saturdays are pretty much always chore days here no matter whether the kids are home or not. Laundry. Cleaning. Yard work. Shopping. I always feel the hours ticking by with thoughts of "I/we still have this, this, this and this to get done!" And today will involve taking the kids to the store to pick out their Halloween costumes plus all the normal grocery shopping. So by nightfall on Saturdays we have our tradition of listening to Prairie Home Companion, but then after that and dinner I am usually as tired as if it had been a weekday and don't feel up to doing much. On Sundays I like to let the kids rest and putter around and not have much expected of them except go to church at 5:00 and put away laundry sometime Sunday afternoon or evening, but then it's a school night and so it's dinner and to bed after that.
The outcome of all this is that I am rarely, if ever, the "fun Dad". Their father gets that role every second weekend, and I honestly don't begrudge him. I got lots less time than that with my two daughters while they were growing up and so I know how important that time is, and I truly want them and him to have a good time when they are together. That time for them together is vitally important. So it isn't that.
Instead, I am
whining writing because it just seems that other than a few times a year I am just the task master. "Do your homework." "Take a shower." "Get up and get dressed." "Clean the bathrooms." "Put away laundry." "Pick up your rooms." "Set the table." "Clear the dishes." Ugh. I don't even like hearing myself say those things - I can imagine how boring and demanding I must sound to them. They'll grow up with memories of nothing but me pushing them to do drudge work. "Watch out! Here comes the Sergeant Major!"
So this is a pity pot post. Woe is me. But just once in a while I'd like to be able to step outside the routine a bit, relax and be a fun Dad, too. In a house of six people there are things that do have to get done, and regularly, or chaos and entropy reigns pretty quickly. But even so I need to think about how to unclench a bit and let a few things slide once in a while, just so I can show the kids that Jim can be a fun Dad, too, if you just give him a bit of time to figure out how.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
On the last Prairie Home Companion during the news from Lake Wobegon Garrison Keillor mentioned disliking modern "7-11 hymns", that is, "seven words, repeated eleven times". That does rather sum it up, doesn't it? It was a new term to me, but I see from Google it's been around for a while.
Another thing about the show last Saturday I liked was Garrison's opening monologue (hear it here, from the 2:40 to 4:30 time marks - and yes, you can move the slider to jump to it, although it does require the evil Real Player to listen). The show was in Abilene, Texas, and he discussed why he, a "museum-quality northern Democrat" would want to do a show in one of the most conservative places in the U.S. He then went on to say something that resonated with my thoughts of late:
I like to be with people who are different from myself...It's one country, we're all one country. Good to be with people who might disagree with you on some things, but we are all part of one country and we all know the same songs.Amen. It may sound trivial to some, but I truly believe in contentious times like these that it is easy to forget that in some sense being a citizen is just like being married. In other words, you have to consciously choose to remain in the relationship, it takes a lot of plain, hard work, and you can't keep second guessing each other's motives. Sometimes you just have to accept each other for the flawed people we are. So hang in there, people - we will get through these hard times...Even this election!
Here's a joke I received via email the other day. I tried to hunt down an attribution but as with all email forwards it's been circulating around a long time - perhaps even before Al Gore invented the the Internet. While I wrote about not liking the froth, spew and plain hatred over this election, this struck me as funny. My name is Jim Lehmer, and I endorse this message.
While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies.
His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'
'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.
'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'
'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the senator.
'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.
Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.
They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.
Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.
Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him. 'Now it's time to visit heaven.'
So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'
The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'
So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.
He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.
The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the senator. 'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?'
The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning...
Today you voted.'
Monday, October 20, 2008
Gregory gives us the quote of the day over at Sippican Cottage:
You're supposed to feel better after you listen to it. You don't clap because it's over. You clap because you wish it weren't.Go read the rest. It's short, and as with all things at the Cottage, worth your time. And then make sure you watch the video - with the sound way up.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Yesterday I posted about my fondness (addiction, really) to chile verde. But before we go further, we should define our terms. I've seen at least three U.S. regional variations on the dish, and I bet there are others. In Colorado it is a corn starch thickened pork gravy made with Hatch green chilies, and meant to be served over something else, such as a "smothered burrito". While green chilies tend to be mild, for some reason Colorado restaurants have gotten into an arms race over which has the hottest chile verde (some even put a lot of black pepper in it, which really alters the taste!) In California it seemed like green chile was more often a hearty but mild pork stew with lots of tomatillos, tomatoes and other ingredients. To me, the canonical form of this type is served by Casa Orozco in Livermore, and it is excellent. In the Midwest, such as in Tulsa or here in mid-Missouri it is more of a mix between those two types - pretty much purely pork, tomatillos and green chilies. I like all three, but last night I decided for my first pass at making green chile I would aim for the stew. It turned out quite tasty, if I say so myself.
- 2 lb. boneless pork roast, cut into small (1/2") cubes
- 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, diced small
- 1 cup shredded carrots (mostly for thickening)
- 3 fresh tomatoes, diced
- 2 lb. (about 16) tomatillos with husks peeled off
- 4 large or 8 small fresh green chilies (do not use bell peppers, do not use canned)
- 4 fresh jalapeños
- 6 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 fresh lime, juiced (save the other 1/2 for garnish, below)
- 1 Tbs oregano
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- salt to taste
- fresh jalapeños, diced fine
- fresh habaneros, diced fine
- fresh tomatoes, chopped
- fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- toasted onion flakes
- fresh lime juice
Put the husked and washed tomatillos in a large pan with just enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil and then boil for 15 to 20 minutes until they can be easily pierced with a fork or toothpick (if one or more of them burst, they're done for sure). Drain into a colander and then put in food processor and blend just enough to get to a sauce consistency.
Preheat oven to 350°. Get out your 3.5 qt enamled Dutch oven and melt the butter in it. Brown the pork in the butter until it is cooked through. Remove the pork leaving the butter and brown the onions and half the garlic until soft. Remove from heat. Pour in the tomatillo sauce, and add the pork, roasted chilies, remaining garlic and all the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Cover and bake for 75 minutes. [Note: Could have even gone to 90 minutes.]
Serve with garnishes, warm flour tortillas and refried beans on the side.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Madonna (especially this).
Crying at the ends of Sense and Sensibility, Dogma, Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches (an aunt gave me one at an impressionable age). Turns out I am not alone.
The Arcata police log (including both books).
My "dog voice" - I talk to dogs in a very childish, high voice with lots of "Aren't choo da good dog, oh, yes choo are!"
Don Julio 1942 (hey, it's always been given to me as a gift - I'd never pay that much myself!)
Alien Loves Predator (now sadly almost defunct).
Good books about bad films.
Long, hot showers.
Having an office at work with a door (finally).
Two lane highways with no itinerary (especially "the loneliest road in America").
Two Lane Blacktop.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This was taken today at approximately 4:00 p.m. CDT in Sedalia, Missouri. Unfortunately I was a passenger in a company vehicle and not able to avail myself of those prices, and had to fill up in Jeff City when I got home at 40 cents a gallon more.
The following quote on Dan's blog today really struck me:
The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says "Amen" and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him your ideas.
- Frank Laubach (1884-1970)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Every so often life requires us to humble ourselves. Something's come up recently that has caused Les and I to reach out and ask for help when we would rather not have. It's not life-threatening - just some financial concerns. Nothing close to requiring filing for bankruptcy, as some friends have had to this year. Just cash flow management issues that we need to fix.
I am usually not willing to ask for help until it is forced upon me. There are places where pride wants us to put our hands on our hips, stamp our foot and exclaim, "I can do it myself!" in a pouty three-year-old voice. That attitude gets in the way. But this time something within me decided it was time to ask and so we did. First from God and then from someone we trust who is able and willing to help - my mom, who spent most of her career as a bookkeeper. If anyone can get it all untangled and a good system set up going forward, it's going to be her, and she's ready and willing to do it with a positive attitude. Although asking a parent for help at my age made it even a bit harder.
The other day Pastor Dan posted:
This is one thing I need to make myself do more often - get out and actually talk to people, and quit thinking there is nothing I can learn from anyone else, or thinking I am better than others. I am not. I'm actually much worse.That struck me because I feel the same way. And in this situation there's a similar lesson for me. I could rephrase it as:
This is one thing I need to make myself do more often - get out and actually ask for help, and quit thinking there is nothing I can learn from anyone else, or thinking I am better than others. I am not. I'm actually much worse.So, this is me, saying, "Help!" And it feels good.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Notice: The following is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, real events or real blogs is purely coincidental.
First tentative post - "Hey world (wide web), lookit me! I have a blog!"
Long "who I am" post.
Longggggg passionate post about subject near and dear.
Even longer (and angrier) post about subject near and dear.
Magnum opus about subject near and dear - "From this overwhelming display of logic and rhetoric everyone must agree!"
Plaintive "Is anybody out there?" post - crickets chirp and the wind blows in response.
Week of no posting - no one notices.
Toned down post - a bit more tentative, a lot shorter.
First comment from somebody! People are reading it!
Signs up instantly for Technorati, Feedburner and Google Analytics.
Starts using a theme for naming post titles - no one notices.
Invites self to participate in first meme/synchroblog - gets a polite but short "thanks for playing" from meme author.
First blog roll, consisting mostly of "high status" bloggers - no one notices.
First flame comment.
Instantly turns on Captcha, login requirements, comment moderation.
Innocuous post about nothing special gets ten comments!
First time invited to participate in a meme/synchroblog!
Finally figures out "the rules".
Adds all kinds of badges and gadgets to blog template - no one notices.
Shows up on someone else's blog roll for the first time - blog friends for life!
First three-manic-posts-in-a-day day.
Post about something really personal - gets lots of good comments.
50th post - topic is "This is the 50th post."
First post where it takes longer to think up a post title than to write the post.
Stops using themes for naming post titles.
Starts to learn about posting pointers to other bloggers, "hat tips", etc.
First post with a picture.
Flurry of memes.
First post that links back to a prior post.
Removes all those "phonies" off blog roll - no one notices.
First original meme - 20 people participate!
Obsesses over Technorati, Feedburner and Google Analytics stats daily.
Finally figures out "It's about the comments, stupid!"
100th post topic - "This is the 100th post." [Repeat every 100 posts.]
First time exchanging emails with a fellow blogger.
Blog post on why there haven't been more blog posts lately.
Signs up for NaBloPoMo - less than even odds on whether it'll work.
Blog post about having nothing to post (but it qualifies for a day's post for NaBloPoMo).
Finally figures out asking a question at the end of a post gets more people to comment.
Takes someone off blog roll in anger - no one notices.
Blogs about blogging (getting through yet another day of NaBloPoMo).
Posts something funny that actually gets some "blogplay".
Obsesses even more Technorati, Feedburner and Google Analytics.
Starts second blog because topic doesn't "fit" with "main" blog.
Radically changes blog layout, finally stops using Blogger's "Scribe" template - no one notices.
Posts about changing blog template to cover that day's NaBloPoMo post.
Pity pot post - cue Linda Ronstadt channeling Warren Zevon.
Turns off comment moderation - even a spam comment would be welcome right now.
First "Andy Rooney" post - "Didja ever notice...?"
First year blogiversary post - "This blog has been going for a year!" [Repeat every year.]
First time notices thinking, "I can't wait to get home and blog about that!"
Really long and detailed post taking hours with lots of research, links and editing, but worth it because it's the best post yet - no one notices.
Theme post #1.
Theme post #2.
Theme post #3.
Theme post #4.
Theme post #5.
Angry post about the news.
Theme post #6.
Takes someone off blog roll in boredom - no one notices.
First post from mobile phone.
Theme post #7.
Schedules a post for tomorrow to not have to worry about NaBloPoMo.
Wishes could write posts like that.
Encourages someone to keep (or start) blogging.
Promotes a charity.
Invites a blogger friend to Facebook or MySpace.
Nostalgia post - gets lots of comments.
Week of no posts - no one notices.
First post with an embedded video.
Y.A.M. (Yet Another Meme).
Writes something in sorrow, anger or worry - lots of loving comments from all over.
Stops checking stats in Technorati, Feedburner and Google Analytics.
Writes something funny about the kids - record number of comments show that other people have kids, too!
Writes a "I love you guys!" post to all the great people in the blog roll - lots of good comments.
Meets someone from the blog roll for the first time.
Writes a meta-level post about the evolution of a blogger.
Starts enjoying blogging - no one notices.
Last night I made up a Cuban-inspired black beans and rice dinner. It came out pretty good if I say so myself, so for my own memory I am writing the recipe down here while eating a bowl of leftovers.
- 1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced fine
- 2-3 sweet banana peppers, seeded and diced fine
- 2-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced fine
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced fine
- 3 stalks celery, diced fine (save the leaves! see below)
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 3 cans black beans, drained
- 8-12 black olives, sliced
- 1 small can tomato sauce
- 1/2+ cup dry red wine
- 4 oz. butter
- 2+ tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 8-12 oz. smoked beef sausage, diced
- 4-8 oz. good ham (I used Hormel Cure 81), diced fine
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin seads
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- chopped celery leaves
- chopped cilantro
- chopped fresh tomato
- diced fresh jalapeños
- sour cream
- [diced onion and fresh squeezed lime juice would also be yummy.]
- 4 cups liquid - 1 can chicken stock and enough water to bring total to 4 cups
- 2 cups rice
- dash of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried sage
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Lots of people forward various emails to me every day. Often they are little observations referring back to "The Good Ol' Days" (implying God's world's nothing but shit now). But here's a saying from the "Good Ol' Days" that everyone's forgotten - "One shouldn't discuss politics nor religion in polite company". Amen. For a better treatment on that subject than I will give below please read this (and my response to it).
Why do I bring this up? Because in between all the "You're my special friend - now please forward this to all your special friends" pictures of cute puppy dogs and beautiful sunsets and funny videos are buried emails of snide, biting, ugly, hateful "jokes" about this presidential candidate or that senator, this representative or that future felon. I hereby request that you please do not "share" these with me any more.
The same people who send me such emails often wonder aloud where the hell "our country" has gone and why no one respects anybody else any more? Then the candidate they don't agree with gets elected and their mouths drip pure hatred for the next four years. And by doing so they then disrespect their fellow countrymen who voted for that candidate. They disrespect the Constitution, the process of law and system of government, the elected office and most importantly their country and its history by doing so. They consider it their God-given right to say the most outrageous things about the candidates they don't like and yet froth at the mouth when anyone criticizes their candidate's job while in office. And then they wonder where respect went?
I hate discussions like those. I always just end up clamming up, feeling insulted. Everyone just assumes because I am not saying anything I must be agreeing. Wrong. Instead, I am trying to live by "One shouldn't discuss politics nor religion in polite company."
Here's a hint. Unless we've discussed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness late into the night over drinks many times do not presume you know me nor what are my beliefs and stances. Because I can just about guarantee you that they don't match up with yours. For instance, I do not believe there is a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats - a friend calls them "Repugnicrats" and that term works for me. For example, both parties believe in big government - they just argue over which parts to make bigger first.
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.I am a social libertarian in some things, a fiscal conservative in others, and a card-carrying communist for believing everyone should have access to food, housing and health care - period, no excuses. If someone starves, sleeps under a bridge or dies from lack of medicine, we as a whole society have failed, even if the immediate reason for that person's problems were self-inflicted. We failed because we let them get to that point. If we're Christians we also failed because we did not love them as ourselves, did not give them our coat and food.
- P. J. O'Rourke, Parliament of Whores
I do not think of myself as special or better than others for the pure accident of my birth - of being born to which parents, when, where, and what color I was. I am not special - I am lucky. Given some of the stupid decisions I've made in my life that could have been me sleeping under that bridge - so I am very, very lucky. I owe it to God to pass some of that luck on to others and to act respectfully toward all - from the jobless person looking for food at the Samaritan Center all the way up to (and I myself have trouble with this, believe me) whichever loser wins the White House in November. Because whoever it is in both of those scenarios - the hungry or the hustler - they are going to need all our prayers. And you can't pray for someone very well if you hate them.
There is so much anger in our country. I see people get up in arms about how same-sex marriage is going to end "our culture" and the world as we know it. And then I think about other "culture-ending" events that have happened in our history. Freeing the slaves. Women's suffrage (OK, maybe that was a mistake...I joke! I joke! :o). Civil rights. And yet we're still here. We're still a strong country. In fact, with each of those events we became a stronger country, even as some part of our culture did change. That doesn't mean I am arguing for same-sex marriage. I am not. What I am saying is "This too shall pass." And we'll still be here, and a strong country, and a fine place to raise kids, no matter what happens on the particular hot button topic du jour. [Or else we're all going to die from SARS or global warming or a meteor hitting the planet or the stock market crash anyway.]
So, if you are a friend reading this then please know I care enough about you to say that I want to continue to receive emails from you. I may or may not click through to every link because there are too many security issues out there with Web sites that can do "drive by" infections just by visiting them. I may not watch every attached video, even if the anti-virus scan says it's safe. But I do laugh at some of the jokes and I do smile at the pretty pictures.
But I hate the political and "culture war" stuff, so please, please refrain from sending them to me. It is disrespectful to me. More importantly, it is disrespectful to our country and the process by which it is governed. Even if you think that process is currently electing a person that's going to make things worse (and for the record, no matter who wins, I believe that). Either the Founding Fathers made the Constitution and the government we derived from it a wonderful, self-correcting instrument for handling the swings of the pendulum of culture, law and power over time, or it's a failed experiment and well, then, it, and we, deserve to fail. Period. So we can then put something else in its place that hopefully works. Personally, I believe it's the former - that for all our current problems and failings things will be corrected over time. I invite you to think so, too.
Besides, our faith should not be in man-made things anyway. Therefore, as part of Christ's commandment to love our enemies, we should pray for all of us. All of us. Even those we fervently don't agree with. And that means loving them first. It's a tough calling Jesus gave us. But He also didn't say we were to have a choice in the matter. I certainly struggle with doing it for who is in the White House now, and I will struggle with it no matter who is in that office come January. But that doesn't mean I just get to throw up my hands and proclaim, "It's too hard, Lord!" Because Jesus loved me, too, and I am just as much of a broken vessel (that's Biblical speak for "asshole") as Bush, Obama or McCain. If I deserve Christ's sacrifice, then I must extend loving kindness even toward those that mean me harm. Including the two currently running for president. So I will pray for them, and invite you do, too.
Thanks for listening. God's blessings.
Our pastor forwards an email each week called "Wired Word" that takes current events and wraps a series of discussion points for Sunday School discussion around them. Honestly, I usually don't read them. Not because they're not "relevant" (which is the whole point of the program, obviously). I am just not into that kind of thing. And I don't go to Sunday School anyway - I can bite my tongue and keep my lips pursed tightly shut all by myself, no need to do it in a roomful of people, especially since honestly the pastor uses most of the allotted "discussion time" for him to talk - consider it a second sermon for free, a two-for-one special. I could
rant write a whole other post about the group dynamics I've observed the few times Les and I have tried to participate in such things at the church, but that's for another time.
But this week's email topic caught my eye and ended up really bothering me. And yet the thing that bothered me was not one of the approved "discussion points" at the end. Here's a snippet - see if you can tell what bugged me:
OK, pens down. What's the answer? What got to me? Anybody?
Publisher's Road Trip Will Yield Handwritten Bible
In the News
In observance of the 30th anniversary of its New International Version of the Bible (NIV), its publisher Zondervan is launching a road trip across America to invite Americans to participate in creating a handwritten copy of the Bible.
The Bible has 31,173 verses, and Zondervan's goal is to have each one written in longhand by a different person. A photo facsimile of the handwritten verses will then be published in time for Christmas 2009, complete with an index listing the participants' names and the verses they copied.
Launched September 30, the tour is taking place in a large RV. Two young married couples are sharing the space and the responsibilities as that vehicle visits 90 cities in 44 states. At each stop, they will give out index cards with Bible verses printed on them to 500 people. These people will then copy their assigned verse twice onto special paper, creating two sets of originals. One will be bound and offered to the Smithsonian. The other will be auctioned to benefit the International Bible Society, which holds the NIV copyright and is a co-sponsor of the tour.
Although most verses will be copied by ordinary citizens, certain high-profile individuals, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, both of the current presidential candidates and their running mates and evangelist Billy Graham have also agreed to copy a verse.
More on this story may be found at these links:
It was this: "complete with an index listing the participants' names and the verses they copied." Followed by this: "Although most verses will be copied by ordinary citizens, certain high-profile individuals, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, both of the current presidential candidates and their running mates and evangelist Billy Graham have also agreed to copy a verse."
Jesus Christ! [I shout that as a prayer, not an expletive, although they sound exactly the same.] We are so fucked up as a society that we can't even publish a Bible without making it an exercise in ego-fulfillment and celebrity. I flashed on all those centuries of anonymous scribes keeping the Word alive, toiling entire lifetimes to copy the Bible. Where is the index listing of their names and the verses they copied?
Why let "ordinary citizens" have a hand in it at all? Who's gonna care about their names listed in the back other than a few relatives? And why do only the above sons of Caesar get verses to copy? I bet the thing would sell better and make more money if the project were converted into "The Celebrities NIV Bible™®© 2009 - All Rights Reserved". I would then look forward to seeing what verse Lindsay Lohan or Joel Osteen (ooh! ooh! Matthew 21:12!) or Senator Ted Stevens transcribed. Think of the rich potential for irony. I wonder if they'll parcel out the Beatitudes to the president, vice president and current candidates?
I am actually sickened and saddened by this project. The Bible as publicity stunt. Way to go, Zondervan!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I am back in St. Charles for more training and have already eaten at two of my favorite places, including lunch today outside on the balcony at Lewis and Clark's. It's been perfect fall weather (my favorite time of year), although it's supposed to rain tomorrow. I'll live. But it is nice to get out and walk around instead of driving everywhere. Walking all over reminds me of all the project time I spent in England.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Jeff recently ran a post on things people have said to him in his life that had a big impact. I thought about running something similar but didn't have as many good quotes (that I could remember, anyway. However, while jotting notes for that preempted post I did come up with two that will be good for today's topic. The first was:
- Leslie Fife in the process of transforming into Leslie Lehmer eight years ago today.
Yup - it's our eighth anniversary! Happy anniversary, honey! It's been a great eight years, and I look forward to the next eighty (since that will bring me to the ripe old age of 128).
Unfortunately Les is working today and I will be traveling to St. Charles for more training so we won't get to do any celebrating today. But she is coming up on Wednesday and after class we will go out that night to dine and listen to the Ohms Brothers. And it will just be the two of us, which I think is kinda better for anniversaries anyway...
We were married in a small church in the countryside near here by a pastor who had been a middle school teacher to both Les and her brother Matt when they attended the parochial school that Erin, Jon and Gloria are going to now. It was a small service - two friends to stand up with us and Les's immediate family (my folks couldn't make it up from Texas). Here's a shot of the wedding party (Les and I are the two with our arms around each other, in case you had trouble figuring that out).
In remembrance of that day I'd like to share another quote with you, this one by me. We were all standing around chatting in the foyer of the church afterward and Les and I were holding hands when her father Bill asked me, "So, what do you say to her now?" With everyone watching I turned to Les, looked deeply into her eyes and said:
"Yo! Wench! Bring me a beer!"
I've been close to her father and brothers ever since.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
First, the bad news. In last night's rant, I was off by a factor of ten. A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.
Now, the bad news. That means everything I was ranting about - a trillion dollar deficit, $32,754.36 per person in the U.S., $148.65 per person on the planet - all of that needs to be multiplied by ten. My household's share is $1,965,261.60. Again, not counting the $700,000,000,000 bailout under consideration in the Senate right now.
I apologize for any inconvenience this inaccuracy may have caused.