Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas, & Happy New Year!

This is as good as is gets in terms of a holiday greetings this year...I have been too tired and busy to get anything else done! I blame it on baby number three. Wink.

We pray you will be filled with hope, joy, love, peace and truth that comes from knowing Jesus Christ in 2009!

"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

Here comes trouble already at age 2....

She loves jewelry, shoes, and has a killer pout...what will we do in the teen years? Oh, our precious girl!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I want a kayak

So I've been wanting a kayak for a while now. I'm not sure what put it into my head first, but for over a year now I've wanted to either start kayaking or join a crew team. I have scant experience with the former and none with the latter. The idea appeals to me.

Just did the presents thing early and got a nice gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods. I think that it might be time. Problem: don't know much about them. I don't really know the benefits of an inflatable versus a hard shell besides the easier storage with the first. Anyone have any insights?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hatin' the Boilerplatin'

I have to say, "amen and amen" to this article by Richard Bernstein. I didn't even donate any money to the campaign and I've been "offered" a coffee mug, a t-shirt, and a stocking cap. Let's give the solicitations a rest.

Then again, a portent of things to come?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Preferring the beauty of an empty gesture

I just read an article by Roger Cohen about a recent visit to Guatanamo and his subsequent observation of a Catholic Mass. His words struck me at several places:

"A surprise awaited me. The church was full."

"I am a stranger to faith. Yet . . ."

He quotes the author of the novel The Power and the Glory: "When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity - that was a quality God's image carried with it."

"I wondered, but preferred mystery to answers."

"I'd seen America's Guantánamo prison. I'd felt the suffering of the woman in the car. I'd left New York's financial disaster, based on greed for multiplying assets, for the economic ravages of Cuba's head-in-the-ground communism."

"And if this priest had the power to turn the wafer into the flesh and blood of God, and if the people gathered here believed that and were consoled, I was ready to bow my head in silence."

It seems that there is something very representative of American/Western thought in this article. There is a combination of incredulity towards those who practice some kind of faith in the supernatural, a need to respond to the power presented, and an inability to do anything besides attempt a respectful, though empty, posture. What screams out to me as I read this article is the synthesis of intelligent articulations with a complete vacancy when it comes to genuine solutions. We lack the courage, as a culture, to engage on a deep level with really difficult problems that require more than an understanding of economics. Unless we can speak in terms of numbers and statistics, we can offer a car ride or a bowed head, but nothing more.

This is not to say that there are not those who are attempting to reveal and confront injustices. But as a culture, we are too timid. Perhaps it is merely a current natural reaction to the fact that our current president has espoused so much confidence in himself and thus come across as presumptuous. My thought is that the problem runs deeper. My thought is that the problem is apparent in the article mentioned above. My thought is that in our secular sophistication we have lost the ability to claim moral authority and with it the stomach for unpopular positions. Despite the fact that I could not in good conscience vote for President Bush in 2004 (I sat the election out) and have been glad of the fact whenever I have met strangers while travelling in Europe, I have grown severely tired of the fact that courage is currently being defined by so many as simply protesting American foreign policy or throwing shoes at a press conference. Because the preferred alternative to Bush's swagger is the dumbfounded silence of the Western journalist in a Cuban church. And that to me, is ridiculous, sad, and extremely disturbing.

Our alleged respect for "mystery" is too often a cloak for cowardice. We want to ask the questions, but we do not want to provide answers because people may disagree with us or not like us as a result. Therefore, we prefer the dull and shallow beauty of an empty gesture. There was One who did more. The nativity scene is not a sentimental gesture of some cosmic positive force, nor is the cross simply a symbol of the struggle between good and evil. That life was the Act of love: an act of love that asked questions that needed to be asked, provided answers that no one was looking for but everyone needed, and then climbed onto a tree and gave up His life in love.

He came and defeated evil. We don't even want to believe that 'evil' exists, or if we do acknowledge its existence, we diminish its meaning by simply labeling an unpopular world leader as such. I read articles such as the one by Cohen this morning and I don't see a respectful and intelligent journalist. I see the product of a culture that is unwilling and unable to do anything genuinely and deeply good, and I am saddened by it. I prefer the beauty that is more deeply true than anything else. I prefer the beauty that has the power to vanquish evil. I prefer the beauty that never is satisfied by a gesture.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All I want for Christmas . . .

. . . something with an Obama insignia on it.

Fortunately, if you donate to the DNC, you can get a T-shirt, a mug, a winter hat, or a four year calendar depending on how much you give. So, come on, how better to celebrate our capitalistically fantastic democracy than by purchasing political products?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On a lighter note . . . kinda

Faculty Christmas Parties . . . always suspect if you're a guy: cute decorations, lots of giggling or cackling, small talk, the gift exchange. Now, I will say that they have catered a good lunch both years--today was fajitas from a local chain and they were delicious. But the gifts that are purchased are still largely with the stereotypical female teacher in mind. To their credit, they added two small pocket knives this year and a Best Buy gift card to the usual mix of hand lotions and boxes of chocolate.

And everything was going along just fine, until my turn finally arrived: #40 out of 41. Typically I would have had very low expectations and had actually been keeping my eye out for something that the wife would like, knowing that the preponderance of the formerly mentioned gifts along with this year's addition of aqua globes, ensured that there really wasn't anything that I would care about. But then it happened.

It was a magical moment. A moment divine. Somewhere around turn #37 a gift card to Barnes and Noble had been unwrapped by a Pre-K teacher--not a likely candidate for an afficionado of books and it seemed that none of the other teachers were all that interested either. 38 came and went. 39-a Shrek Chia pet (I kid you not). My number came and with a hopeful and yet triumphant stride I found my way over to said Pre-K teacher's spot and took the B&N card much to the amusement of everyone else in the room: "Who would want to buy books!? Don't you have enough of those yet?!!?" Clearly, I was among a group that knew the value of education.

Thinking that all was done when #41 showed no interest in my card I was relaxed: a full belly and an expected future purchase to add to the shelf. My reward had come.

But then, the hapless #1 was given the opportunity to select any gift that she desired. I wasn't worried: she taught kindergarten. She then called out "Okay! Who's got the gift card with the largest monetary value?" I still wasn't worried because I knew that there were gift cards out there that had more money on theirs than mine. Someone then directed her to the $10 Sonic gift card possessed by another teacher, to which she replied: "oh that'll be a great stocking stuffer!"Less than a second before taking the Sonic card, the would-be victim and another teacher cried out: "HE'S GOT $15 TO BARNES AND NOBLE!" I froze. I cried out! I stammered and sputtered. What did she want this gift card for? She clearly didn't care about it except that it had 5 more dollars on it! This is criminal! But it was too late. I tried threats. She must not have believed them. It was gone.

And did I get to choose something else at that point? No. Every other victim in the game gets an opportunity to choose a gift from among all of the options. Not so with the last one. I got whatever the thief formerly had. And what was that? A small bucket-thing of Vanilla Spice bathing products.

My consolation is two-fold: I had initially expected no better than something the wife would like and she does like vanilla scented products, and it could have been much worse . . . two words: aqua globe.

At the same time, this simply goes to reinforce and prove my thesis: faculty Christmas parties are designed with women in mind, even women that are not employed by the school.

Falling Whistles

Found this link through a blog today. Check it out. Read the story.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Death by Love

New Driscoll book that I looked through a bit at Barnes and Noble a little while back and just came across this video while looking at an online bookstore.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Go ahead and say it: I read Brooks too much

Brooks on Obama's plan for the Detroit Trio.
I'll be honest, I can't say that I would shed too many tears if any of those companies were to go the way of the dodo . . . 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fanning the flame

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you . . . "

-2 Timothy 1:6

Question: how does one fan into flame the gift of God? What exactly did Paul expect Timothy to do to fulfill his charge? What does it look like to fan into flame the gift of God? I excerpted the verse in the way that I did because a lot of Christians are familiar with the text but we might focus upon the latter part of the verse that talks about the laying on of hands or we might just move onto verse 7 that talks about the spirit He gave us of power, love, and self-control.

What interests me though is how one fans into flame the gift of God that is in us. I'd be interested to read anyone's thoughts on the subject.

Hey Repubs: I've got good news and I've got bad news

Good news: I just got an email last night from the Obama campaign manager. The DNC went "into considerable debt to secure victory" by taking out "substantial loans" to ensure Senator Obama's victory and are thus asking for donations. So the Democratic National Convention is in debt. Republicans have to feel good about that.

Bad news: They went into debt to win an election. Our country is in a bad place economically. They're supposed to get us out.

Now we're talking about the "change" we need . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Republicans need a Tony Blair figure

I began reading a biography on Tony Blair a little while back and haven't gotten very far, but one thing I noticed was his early work on transforming the nature of the Labor Party. When he first joined the Labor Party, it was dominated by an entrenched orthodoxy and there was little room for deviation. As such he noticed that there was little interaction between what the voters were looking for and what the party was providing. So he, among others, sought to change the Labor Party in some crucial ways recognizing that so long as they retained a complete ideological purity, they would remain out of power and thus not be able to bring about any of the changes to government that they thought needed to occur.

Instead of retaining a vigorous socialist agenda that had failed to win over the electorate, he quietly and slowly pushed for movement on some of their platforms. As I mentioned, I haven't finished reading the book, nor have I studied traditional Labor Party policies through any other avenue. And as a result, I am ignorant to a large degree of much that occurred and am certainly not advocating Blair as the quintessential political savior. But I do know this, Blair took a political party that had been largely sidelined into a different direction and as a result brought his party to power and therefore to a position of influence. He was called by many a sell-out, and perhaps he was. But of course, that is the art of politics: learning what needs to be compromised in order to bring about changes that cannot be compromised. Of course, too often politicians are willing to compromise on anything in order to get elected because of a lust of power. At the same time, the opposite often occurs. And that is what David Brooks write about in his most recent article: The Republican divide.

I'll be interested to see what happens and for the sake of the country, may the Republican party select someone more in keeping with the Brooks vision.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Rod Tidwell would just like to say:

Show me the money

The author of The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman, calls everyone who has used Bush as an excuse for inaction to now put their money where their mouth is.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Humanity: "The Glamorous and the grasping"

"Walking amid the polychromatic chaos of Mumbai's roads, among the glamorous and the grasping, one might ask: What other city so distills the human predicament, in the fullness of its tragedy, its comedy, its absurdity and its promise?"

-Anand Giridharadas, from IHT

I read a book this past spring titled Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A Urban New World by Robert Neuwirth that looks at cities such as Mumbai and the typically illegal developments taking place there by people who are seeking to grasp the glamorous or at least reinvent themselves. Something about human nature is seen more clearly in the unrefined urban sprawl. Something about what drives us, what holds us back, and as the above author puts so well: our tragedy, comedy, absurdity and promise. Is that not what it is to be human? We are both beautiful and horrifying. What we create is full of so much potential and yet falls so short of what we wish. Our cities fill us with awe, and yet how often do they make those of who are affluent uncomfortable because of who all has been drawn to these pearls of human ingenuity? The litter, the filth, the cardboard signs, the stale breath, the unknown lying around the corner and at the end of darkened alleys.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sex and Chocolate

Here's a video produced by an organization we have linked on the side that is trying to stop the exploitation of people. They're specifically focused upon the sex industry and the chocolate industry. Who would have thought those two industries could be linked?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How about a break from the political?

Some thoughts from Vanhoozer on how we are to approach the Scriptures, and how our failure to do so appropriately results in a failure to participate rightly in the Christian life. What he calls for is not more "application questions" at the end of a bible study, but rather an approach to the Scriptures that recognizes how the wisdom of God is embodied therein and that is prompted by, as well as feeds, a desire to deeply engage in the drama of God.

Doctrines solicit not simply our intellectual assent but our integral participation in the drama they describe and serve . . . The biblical script asks not to be admired but performed . . .

The ancient practice of baptismal catechesis was a kind of 'dramatic journey' that sought to train new believers to participate fittingly in the Christian life. The instruction that early catechumens received involved learning Scripture and 'educating desire': "The homilies and other instruction in Scripture were designed to entice people into the dramatic narrative of God with God's people." The process of instruction typically culminated in the catechumen's baptism, a dramatic entry into the theo-drama-into the very life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The contrast with the contemporary church, at least in North America, could hardly be more striking. We may here recall Alan Wolfe's thesis that doctrinal instruction has largely disappeared from the church in North America, both mainstream and evangelical. The tragic irony is that more people profess Christian doctrine than know how to practice it. The result: a church that replaces the religious affections with religious affectation . . .

The "mind of Christ" refers not merely to Jesus' intellectual quotient or his stock of knowledge but to his habitus: the distinctive pattern of all his intentional acts--desires, hopes, beliefs, volitions, emotions, as well as thoughts. The mind of Christ, refers, in a word, to the characteristic pattern of Jesus' judgments--to the way that Jesus processes information and to the product of that process: the embodied wisdom of God. The mind of Christ is the set of moral, intellectual, and spiritual habits or virtues that serve as the mainspring for all the particular things that Jesus does and says.

-Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, p.252-256

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell endorses Obama

In case you hadn't heard this on the news yet: former secretary of state Colin Powell endorsed Senator Obama yesterday.

Very interesting. Then again, perhaps Colin Powell is also a closet Muslim Communist intent on bringing Armageddon to American shores . . .

My 47 year old self speaks again

. . . and points to the attraction as well as the reason for my unwillingness to abide by irrational character attacks.

Brooks on Obama

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friedman and Seidman: How matters

"I have a friend who regularly reminds me that if you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 stories you can actually think you're flying. It's the sudden stop at the end that always gets you.

When I think of the financial-services boom, bubble and bust that America has just gone through, I often think about that image. We thought we were flying. Well, we just met the sudden stop at the end. The laws of gravity, it turns out, still apply. You cannot tell tens of thousands of people that they can have the American dream - a home, for no money down and nothing to pay for two years - without that eventually catching up to you. The Puritan ethic of hard work and saving still matters. I just hate the idea that such an ethic is more alive today in China than in America . . .

The bank writing the mortgage got away from how because it was just passing you along to a bundler. And the investment bank bundling these mortgages got away from how because it didn't know you, but it knew it was lucrative to bundle your mortgage with others. And the credit-rating agency got away from "how" because there was just so much money to be made in giving good ratings to these bonds, why delve too deeply? And the bank in Iceland got away from how because, hey, everyone else was buying the stuff and returns were great - so why not?"

-excerpt from IHT article

Friday, October 10, 2008


It is your civic duty to stay home ya ignoramus!

I hold to my earlier positions even more strongly now. Democracy works best when the right people vote for the right candidate. There's nothing virtuous about uninformed people voting for whichever candidate strikes their fancy.

If you don't know how many senators we have per state, please, do us a favor and stay home this election year.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An excerpt from Just Courage

"The fact is, when people choose to be brave instead of smart, their courage is generally so threatening to those who are smart rather than brave that they end up being maligned, not congratulated. This is what the Bible says we can expect.

But that is what it takes to show the love of Christ to [those] held as slaves. So sometimes we have to decide: Are we going to love, or are we going to look smart? Because loving the needy doesn't look smart. And, sadly, in much of our culture this is one of our deepest fears: looking like a fool, naive, unsophisticated, a little too earnest, a loser."

-Gary Haugen, Just Courage

Nothing atypical about these kinds of calls being made in Christian literature--many Christian pastors and writers have been trying to figure out how to awaken the Western church from their affluence induced stupor. The difference lies in the specificity of what Haugen is calling Christians to and the credibility he has gained by involving himself in the work of bringing justice and redemption to those who are being oppressed, enslaved, raped, etc.

Friday, October 3, 2008

sad things are being made untrue

That line comes from a brief introduction to the Red Mountain Church album that came out some time this past year. The band musically translates, and often revives, old hymns allowing the great truths written in those songs to be heard today with fresh ears. We cannot recommend them highly enough. Here are the lyrics to a song from the above mentioned album that I'm listening to right now as I try to finish up grading.

We need to have truths penetrate us, wash over our minds, and renew us constantly. Give them a listen, buy their stuff on iTunes and while you're there, check out Matthew Smith as well.

This Breaks My Heart of Stone
Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal # 390
Words – Charles Wesley, 1749
Music – Benj Pocta, 2006.

Jesus let thy pitying eye
Call back a wandering sheep.
False to Thee like Peter, I
Would fain, like Peter, weep.
Let me be by grace restored;
On me be all it’s freeness shown
Turn and look upon me Lord;

And break my heart of stone
And break my heart of stone.

Savior, Prince, enthroned above,
Repentance to impart,
Give me, through Thy dying love,
The humble, contrite heart;
Give what I have long implored,
A portion of Thy love unknown;
Turn, and look upon me, Lord,

And break my heart of stone.
And break my heart of stone.

Look, as when Thy pitying eye
Was closed that we might live;
“Father,” at the point to die
My Savior cried, “forgive!”
Surely, with that dying word,
He turns, and looks, and cries, “’Tis done!”
O my bleeding, loving Lord,
This breaks my heart of stone!
This breaks my heart of stone!

© 2007 Red Mountain Music

Truly it is done. Truly our hearts of stone may be broken. Truly, truly, we are being renewed in Him by the power of his gracious love. Truly, truly, He will come for us one day soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A little clarification

In reading Will's comment on my last post, I feel it necessary to make sure something is clear. I do not consider American prosperity as an equivalent factor to the abortion debate in determining the qualification of a candidate. But I DO consider the candidate's methodology for promoting American protection and prosperity to be of vital importance.

In other words, if the job of the President of the United States is to govern in such a way as to secure, maintain, and promote American interests, then the question must be asked: how will a particular candidate do that job? How do they understand their role in that undertaking? As they seek American prosperity (the only natural pursuit of elected leaders who do not fear the Lord), what are the means that they will employ in that endeavor?

Practically speaking, it is fair to speak of the number of deaths that come from war versus the deaths that come from abortion. It is still unfair, in my opinion, to act as if the number of civilian deaths in a war (not speaking about the deaths of soldiers who sign up to kill and be killed) are essentially insignificant in comparison to the abortion statistics, even if the number of the latter is monstrously larger.

The point in a democratic society should be higher than a mere pragmatic decision between two men who will be responsible for the deaths of many. If we are to participate in the democratic process then I think that our standards should be much higher than that. We cannot simply say, "well this candidate will be responsible for fewer innocent deaths than the other, therefore I'll vote for him/her." If that is the only choice we are left with democratically, then I will choose to abstain from being involved. If however we choose to be involved, then we are assuming a responsibility to not be content with a mere pledge of support for the unborn. We are assuming a responsibility to ensure that the pledge is acted upon, and further, that other acts of injustices are not being committed by our elected leader. We must call our elected officials to account for all injustices. We cannot content ourselves with partial measures if we are to be engaged in the democratic process as globally minded Christians.

American prosperity is not my first priority, nor my second, nor my third. I do not know exactly where it falls in my list, but since American prosperity affects me, I cannot pretend as if it does not matter. So, if it appears that my previous post assumed an equal footing between the death of the unborn and the prosperity of America, then I did not communicate my thoughts clearly enough.

My priority is to see that the man we hand the presidential office is worthy of that post in the way that he promises to act while there. A candidate who will not fight for the protection of the unborn does not deserve the post. At the same time, a candidate who will take America into wars too quickly or easily shows a lack of judgment that may be imperiling for an unknown number of people and therefore, I would argue, also does not deserve the post.

Conversely, a candidate that will not fight for the protection of the unborn, but will work to reduce the number of women who are in a position to get an abortion seems like a very pragmatic choice when the current administration has been in power for eight years and has not been able to eliminate the reality of abortion.

So, if we are going to be merely pragmatic in our approach to the topic of a presidential leader, I suppose we should ask each candidate how they see their administration taking practical steps to reduce the number of abortions in our country (since both have said that this is something that they would like to see happen). In this way, we will be utilizing the power of our democratic choice to seek results instead of mere pledges. That strikes me as the truly practical, democratic, and Christian direction. Do you not agree?

If our goal is to be practical and realistic (which is what I hear from every Christian that finds it foolish to not vote for the pro-life candidate), then it seems that we should be concerned with making sure that at least the number is reduced while working for the ruling to be struck down. It is clearly not an issue of electing a pro-life candidate and then watching abortions cease over night. Therefore, if we are going to be practical we need to look at what McCain proposes versus what Obama proposes regarding the fact of the Supreme Court protected "right" of women to kill their children.

At the same time, I contend we need to evaluate their decision making process and how it will affect all other areas of their job responsibilities to see what kind of effects will occur under their watch. For even though soldiers sign up to kill and be killed, it is still a tragic thing to lose a son, a brother, a father, a husband, and I want to make sure that the whole thing is avoided if possible. We are not living as Israel in the Old Covenant with the assurance of God's direction as a nation, and therefore I do not feel that the precedent of the conquest of Canaan applies to America. Canaan was judged by God via His chosen people. America is not God's chosen people and therefore we cannot assume that He is on our side against nations such as Iran.

Here concludes my somewhat rambling monologue . . . for now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why I can't feel comfortable voting for the "lesser of two evils"

Nicholas Kristof on McCain's foreign policy

It is never short of criminal to sit in approval of policies that enable the "innocent" to perish and thus the determination by many that a pro-choice candidate has disqualified himself (or herself) from public office. But I believe that equal weight should be given to the consideration of how an elected official will engage our country with other countries and how he will seek to protect and ensure American prosperity. Wars will always and inevitably lead to the deaths of the "innocent." Are the lives of the American unborn intrinsically worth more than the lives of young Muslim children? Certainly not.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dallas for the weekend

Highland Park Presbyterian Church is hosting the leader of International Justice Mission this Sunday so that he can talk about their work which is to seek the freedom of those who have been enslaved in the sex industry. An article this morning from IHT was written on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. It exists in all countries, and if some teenage girls are imprisoned in brothels until they die of AIDS, that is seen as tragic but inevitable.

-Nicholas D. Kristoff, IHT

Psalm 82: 3-4
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How do you bleed?

In light of some previous posts of mine, a recent blog discussion with Becky, and the book that I have mentioned on here a few times, I'd like to post some new thoughts.

The title of this post comes from the book just mentioned, The Myth of a Christian Nation, by Greg Boyd. In this chapter, titled "When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians," Boyd says many things that I might question, at least in part. But one thing that he says in particular I found to be particularly helpful. He tells a true story of an unmarried girl who gets pregnant at 18 and contemplates abortion as a result but is dissuaded by a typically pro-choice voting middle-aged divorcee. What was the basis of her argument?

She didn't go into a discussion about "reaping what you sow" or charges of infanticide (though both are applicable to the case in some sense). Rather, she offered to do whatever necessary to support this girl during this process, even to the extent of offering her a place to live after her Christian parents kicked her out of the house for getting pregnant, and doing whatever she could to help support financially her desire to go to college and become a veterinarian. Boyd's point is that this older woman was willing to do what was necessary to love the woman and the unborn; she even had to take out a second mortgage on her house in order to make it work, but she did it.

So, the question for those of us who call ourselves Christians must go beyond one of "which candidate is pro-life" to how can we individually and collectively "bleed in service" to anyone around us who is in a position of need? Further, should a pro-choice candidate come to public office, we need not fear some catastrophic rise in abortions if we will integrate ourselves more into the lives of those around us. We can reduce (even eliminate?) abortion without the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and as citizens of another country living in an alien world that is not submitted to the reign of Christ, we should expect to accomplish kingdom ends in no other way.

So, as Boyd asks in his book, I ask all of us: "how do you bleed?"

Feisty Steve Inskeep

Steve Inskeep of NPR interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday; I got to hear an extended clip of it this morning on the radio. You can read the transcript or listen to the interview here.

Reading it doesn't give the full effect of how tense it got at times between the two of them so if you can, listen to it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Something new?

Alright, so, I'm looking at beginning to write some consistent fiction on here just to keep pace with some of the fiction that I have been reporting on from the media. I'm going to be working from some ideas that I have had in my head for a while and plan to post installments with as much regularity as my creativity and time will allow.

To start tonight I shall give only a working title and a few prefatory quotes that shall serve as guide posts and have been points of inspiration for the beginning of this story.


Pulsing Grey
by trey arbuckle

"Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man . . . only against Death shall he call for aid in vain”

-Sophocles Antigone

It is not good for the man to be alone.”

-Genesis 2:18

“When art tries to speak of the new world, the final world, in terms only of the present world, it collapses into sentimentality; when it speaks of the present world only in terms of its shame and horror, it collapses into brutalism . . . many artists recoil from the challenging vision of the future, and prefer to give the apparently more 'relevant' message of despair.” --N.T. Wright

Music suggestion

I heard Ian McIntosh this morning for the first time. I'm a fan, particularly of the song that I heard this morning, "Awakening."

National Kyrsten Love Day

I have declared that September 19th should be National Kyrsten Love day. So, tell her how great she is just like I've done in the past by buying her a plush monkey in Costa Rica.

Here's to Kyrsten and all of her greatness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Republicans, free markets, and intervention

Ron Chernow, author of the biography I read this past spring on Alexander Hamilton, is quoted in the IHT this morning:
"We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams."

So the question has to be raised, to what extent can the current problems on Wall Street be tied to the current administration and what implications does this situation have for the Republican economic philosophy?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bailouts and Genuine Economic Solutions

Here is an article that explains pretty well the current Wall Street situation, a historical precedent of note, and some practical solutions that should be considered for our nation's economy.

Ahh, sweet prudence, where art thou?

Sometimes I wonder if David Brooks and I are actually the same person and that the universe in which we live is radically different than it first appears such that I can simulataneously be a middle-aged writer for the IHT as well as a twenty-something high school teacher without having any memory of my alternate life.

Here's why: he says the very same thing I've been telling my students. That being, the most important element of a candidate for office is an experience wrought prudence that displays itself exactly as Brooks has written: "the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events - the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight."

I'm looking for it in our candidates and unfortunately have not found it in either. Unless I become convinced otherwise, I shall be employing my democratic right this November by not voting for either candidate. I'm looking for prudence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

But you speak for all "real" women?

Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago's Divinity School wrote last Tuesday of Palin: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican Party's cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies ... she speaks for the women of America and will capture their hearts and their votes has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women."

-IHT article

It is a good chance that most women don't feel that they're really represented by Doniger who "holds two doctorates, from Harvard University and the University of Oxford, in Sanskrit and Indian Studies." (wikipedia article)

Is that really a more typical example of the American woman? Someone who has spent time studying Sanskrit and Indian studies? Not that there's anything wrong with studying those subjects, but to assume that Sarah Palin cannot be called a "real" woman is sheer stupidity and arrogance, particularly in light of what Doniger has done with her life. On what authority does Doniger get to claim the right to speak for all women? The fact that she hasn't had "lots and lots of babies?" Or the fact that she has gone to the most elite graduate schools in the country?

Brilliant. I think that I would like to take a moment to vomit into the trashcan under my desk.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More from Boyd

Christianization of military force was strongly reinforced when
President George W. Bush depicted America as being on a holy 'crusade' against
'evildoers.' Elsewhere he said that America is the 'light of the world,' which
the 'darkness' (that is, our national enemies) could not extinguish. He was of
course quoting Scripture in making his point--Scripture that refers to Jesus
(John 1:1-5). The fact that evangelicals as a whole were not shocked by this
idolatrous assocation is, in my opinion, evidence of how thoroughly we have
accepted the Americanized, Constantinian paradigm. In this paradigm, what
applies to jesus ("the light of the world") can be applied to our country, and
what applies to Satan ("the darkness") can be applied to whomever resists our
country . . . With all due respect, this is blatant idolatry.

That a political leader would use religious rhetoric to rally people around
a military cause is not surprising. This is typical in all versions of the
kingdom of the world. What is surprising, and cause for great concern, is that
many evangelicals were not only not disturbed by this--they applauded it.

-Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quick Music Recommendation...with perks

Visit here. Listen. Buy. Congratulate yourself,  you've just gained yourself some new tunes and more importantly, contributed to the movement that desires to eradicate modern-day slavery. 

See, I told you that you would hear more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm it!

I 'got tagged' which I didn't even know existed in blog life and now, you will be subjected to my participation of the "tag." I am going to share with you SIX random Kyrsten facts. Here goes:

1. While studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile for five months, I went with my Chilean host sister to a market in Chile and had my nose pierced for $1. Studs cost .40 cents. It was a steal and so far, I'm healthy...ha. Just kidding. The piercing fell out my senior year of college and if it wasn't like fifty million times the Chilean cost to buy a stud and/or re-pierce it in the States, it would already be done. 

2. I am a very curious person.  So much so that I sometimes ask questions that are inappropriate--the best part being that I don't even think that what I said was inappropriate but totally normal. Oops. I also have no gatekeeper which makes for a grand combination...

3.  I have never been stung by a bee or broken a major bone (I broke my toe in elementary school--of all things and no cast required), in all my twenty seven years. I kinda feel like I have been left out of a childhood rite of passage. Kinda. 

4. I have never been to a single alcoholic party. Yes, I was that goody-two shoes girl in high school AND college. 

5. My freshman year of college, I trained for and ran in the Disneyworld Marathon (yes, all 26.2 miles) with the Leukemia Society's Team in Training program--we helped raise money for child Leukemia patients. I hi-fived Mickey as I floated through the Magic Kingdom...(pat on the back). And, my momma got to watch me cross the finish line!!

6. I went to Kindergarten twice. I guess I wanted to have naptime for another year. Wink. Actually, my family was in transition and my mom thought it would be wise for me to be held back. So that is why I am always the smartest one in the class....ha. 

Now, it is my duty to tell the rules and tag some people that I want to read random facts about...

First, the rules. 
1. Post the rules on your blog. 
2. Write 6 random things about yourself.
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
4. If you are tagged, DO IT and pass it along.

Second, Becky Baskin, Janette Bridenstine, Kendra Duty, Jamison Brunone, Rachel Supercinski, and Terri Chanlatte (my momma!) are all tagged!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

a quick p.s.

I had never read anything by Greg Boyd before, and though the name seemed vaguely familiar when my student asked if I had heard of him, I couldn't place it. I just looked him up via Google--found out that he is an advocate of the "open theism" position. If you don't know what that is, then don't worry about it. If you do and you are wondering if I am endorsing his theological position on that topic, know that I do not.

We can learn from many we disagree with on multiple issues. That is what I am doing here by reading his politically oriented writings.

More politics . . .

Just a question as I continue to skim through the Boyd book: The Myth of a Christian Nation:

Should the fact that a tax collector and a zealot lived together and ministered together under Jesus inform our interaction with those who belong to different political alignments but call Jesus Lord? Alternatively put, is it possible to hold different positions on some political arguments and still commune together? Or, can Christians disagree on politics because they agree upon who is King? Finally, is it right to excommunicate someone from the church (or exclude them from your "orthodox circle of friends") for voting for a certain candidate?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Single issue voting

So, I'm a Christian.

I am not looking to make America into a "Christian country", but I do believe that "Christian policies" are important when considering a candidate for office. Contrary to what some may believe about me, I do think that a candidate's position on abortion is important. And so as I was reading today at Starbucks I happened upon a thought: "I wonder what the abortion statistics look like during the Bush years compared with the Clinton years."

Obviously, the number should be down if the pro-life aspect of his platform meant anything, right? Well, I did a quick google search and found the article of which many may already be aware, written by a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary around 2004. His findings at that point based upon limited data (I think 16 states) suggested that the number had increased. He gave his analysis and reasoning for this: lack of a social net for people who are poor and getting pregnant when they shouldn't be. His facts were obviously controversial and inspired more research to be done. When this was done and more states were included, it seemed that the number had not risen but that it had also not decreased.

I also found some links to blogs by people who are clearly not fans of Obama decrying his statement at the Saddleback "debate" (?) that the numbers had increased during the Bush presidency. They were wondering if his statistics came from "his wazzoo." I believe that was the technical term employed and stated that research showed that it had gone down and cited a website that I looked at and found them to be accurate . . . at least according to that report.

So, which report do we go with? Obviously the one that is the most comprehensive, objective, and recent. To be honest, I wasn't looking to spend my afternoon in internet research on the topic so I don't feel inclined to verifying which report best represents what actually took place. The findings did support my original hypothesis: the very fact that different reports have found different conclusions suggests that there is much more involved in being a pro-life citizen than voting for whatever candidate describes himself/herself as such.

It seems to me that it shouldn't be debatable that under Bush abortions went down statistically if I am to vote for someone like him simply because of his stated position. It seems that we should be able to guarantee a much better return for our vote than the mixed findings suggest. One might be tempted to say that the original report that I have referred to must have just been written by a "liberal Christian" who doesn't care about the abortion topic because he's probably a socialist moron or something. To do so would be inaccurate as he calls himself a Christian ethicist who is pro-life and has a severely handicapped son to prove it. The data seems to be more unclear than some would like to believe which begs the question: is single issue voting really responsible voting?

Further, how many pro-life voters have even asked themselves this question as they prepare for November's election. How many have taken the time to verify that indeed their voting Bush into office actually furthered the one cause that they truly care about? My guess is that far too many satisfy themselves with political rhetoric.

Finally, one could argue that Bush put two justices on the bench that are conservative and that a Democrat would have appointed other people to those posts who would most likely have been pro-choice and likely to "legislate from the bench" to ensure the protection of Roe v. Wade. Granted. And so if you are satisfied with voting for a candidate based upon the hope that when a position opens up on the bench, your candidate will appoint a pro-life justice, then I have no argument with you. Just keep in mind that conservative judges who are supposed to stick to the Constitution are going to have to hold their peace until someone figures out a way to bring the topic all the way to the Supreme Court. In other words, your vote may be very limited in its projected purpose and there may be many unintended consequences (for example see Tom Delay, Mariana islands, and reports of forced abortions).

In conclusion, even if the statistics demonstrate clearly and universally that abortion declined during the eight years of Bush's presidency, to what end? Are we going to naively believe that we will be able to keep a staunchly pro-life candidate in the White House long enough to eradicate abortion once and for all? The very fact that we may end up with a strongly pro-choice President Obama in the White House clearly demonstrates that this is unrealistic. 

Perhaps we need to expand our vision to consider other aspects in this fight against a very real evil. If nothing else, we at least need to do our homework beyond listening to a few carefully crafted speeches meant to gain certain segments of the electorate.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sweet moments!!!

I put both kids down for a nap about 1PM. An hour later, I could still hear Ethan chattering with himself in his big boy bed. A little frustrated, I barged into Ethan's room and asked him why he was playing instead of sleeping. He couldn't answer me, at least he chose not to. 

So, wanting the quiet of two babies sleeping simultaneously and feeling quite drowsy myself, I told Ethan to get back in bed and I would lay down with him. This always produces a big grin on his face and is usually a futile attempt on my part to entice him to sleep (he just kind of giggles quietly that Mommy is laying down on the bed with him.) However, today was a different story. After asking me to pull the blanket over him, he promptly began thumb-sucking himself to sleep. Two minutes later, as I was just about asleep, I could hear his heavy breathing. Then his thumb slowly fell out of his mouth. He was out. Slumbering peacefully. Looking awfully precious, until, the drool started to ooze out of his mouth. He was definitely asleep. This won't work every day but it worked TODAY and Momma got a sweet moment out of it.

Which kingdom are you fighting for?

So in this season of partisan pep rallies, apocalyptic emails, and character attacks in the guise of political speech, I have talked to my students a bit in the hopes of getting them to think through these issues on a deeper level. As a result, one of my students lent me a book that he thought I might enjoy. I was reading a bit this morning during my off period in a chapter discussing the contrasts between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. Here's an excerpt that should serve as a good reminder for those of us who call heaven our home.
Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists, and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often think that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one's enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence, toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world going at each other. If we are thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight against. They are, rather, people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for.

Our battle is "not against flesh and blood," whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the "cosmic powers" that hold these people, and all people, in bondage.

-Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

David Brooks on McCain and Palin

I've posted articles by Brooks before; I have generally found him to be insightful and articulate. The last one was on Obama, I believe. This one is on McCain and Palin--take a look.

Here's to voting for somebody dead or somebody who will never die again this November.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I want to be a part of making this thing right...

I recently finished devouring a book that has stirred my heart deeply. I often read current affairs type books and often desire to throw the book against the wall of my bedroom in anger, frustration and sadness at the horrors being committed around the world. To me, it has become clear that the list of worthy causes is undoubtedly lengthy. 

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to get caught up in our own life's busyness and carelessly move on after coming to some level of information regarding the atrocities in this world. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude and feel helpless to do anything of consequence. I confess that I am guilty of that very behavior. However, things are different this time. I am moved by the intentionally overlooked issue referred to as 'modern day slavery' that was terrifyingly revealed in "A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery" by Benjamin Skinner.  I had read about this evil in the world before, in other books, but I have been affected differently. Now that I know, I feel responsible to act.  I want to get involved. I want to see things change. I want this wickedness to cease. 

Yesterday, I began madly searching online for information, resources, and means to get involved. I found a few good ones (thanks to a list of websites in the back of Skinner's book :)) and I am thankful that there are others concerned and spurred to action. You can give money (of course ;)), get an internship, spread the word, go to law school and get a job working with International Justice Mission (go Trey!!!! Let's do it!!! ), buy things fair trade, stay informed and pray accordingly. Just do something! Check out these links below: (this site is the only one that is openly Christian...the others appear secular)

IJM is holding a speaking event at Highland Park Presbyterian in Dallas on September 28th....the Arbies are going...anyone else interested??? You can sign up for email updates on all three sites. 

For those of you thinking, "this is just another foreign issue", read this article. We, as a nation, are guilty of slavery, still. 

Below is the ending verses to a Derek Webb song and its lyrics pretty much sum up the state of affairs. I am thankful that despite our failure to act justly, love mercy and walk with our God, that He will make things right.

I don't know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore
I'm trading comfort for human life
And that's not just murder it's suicide
And this, too, shall be made right

This is just a preview. I will probably post many entries on this issue. My heart and mind have been seared.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our brief visitor

So, yesterday I took the kids for a stroller-walk in an attempt to get out of the house and get some exercise. We do this periodically, although not often enough for me to proudly say "I work out." Ha.

Usually our walks are quite uneventful. However, we had the pleasure of some new company on that walk: a stray dog. He jumped on our trail like it was a bus ride. He happily followed us for the entire walk, a stop at the playground and then, took up residence outside the front door for the afternoon and most of the evening.

Some of you are probably thinking "Well, if you hadn't pet him and talked to him, he wouldn't have followed you and hung around." If you know me, then you know that I did no such thing. In fact, some of you might say that I would only be intentionally kind to four footed creature if my life depended on it. My conversation with the dog was quite the opposite--I told him to go away, go home, that he wasn't wanted, I kicked in his direction, etc. The more I tried to persuade him to leave us alone, the more he panted happily and stuck close.

I actually left the house mid-morning to go play with the kids at a friend's house and the dog got trapped in our garage while I was trying to leave. I had shooed him away but when there was a foot left before the door was closing, he scurried inside. You should have seen his pleased little fuzzy face. Talk about nerve! I had to reopen the garage, tell him to get out, and then close it AGAIN all in sizzling Texas heat and my babies in the car! Not to mention it made me late for my very important playdate.

I thought about calling Animal Control to come and get him when he started jumping on my front window and scratching it with his little paws, begging to come inside. With no collar, I figured that wouldn't have been the kindest. You know what happens to animals without collars that get picked up by Animal Control. We've all seen "Lady and the Tramp." I am NOT that mean. Even if I am not a dog lover. The dirty white fluff ball finally gave up on us before dark yesterday and found a new home. Hopefully, it was a happy home.