Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Well, today I discovered a website where you can post those ideas, or comment on them. Here it is.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
(I picked Protestant because that was the closest, inasmuch as Protestant means "Christian but not Roman Catholic", although I'd probably describe myself as post-protestant or trans-denominational or generously orthodox, or something trendy-sounding like that)
I promise I'll write less about politics after next week.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Then again, maybe I am alone, since I'm basically the exact opposite of all that.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Cracked.com (crude humor, be forewarned) recently listed him as our most badass president:
Checking Teddy Roosevelt's resume is like reading a How-To guide on ass-kicking manliness. He was a cattle rancher, a deputy sheriff, an explorer, a police commissioner, the assistant Secretary of the Navy, the governor of New York, and a war hero. Out of all of his jobs, hobbies and passions, Roosevelt always had a special spot in his heart for unadulterated violence. In 1898, Roosevelt formed the first U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the Rough Riders. Most people already know of the Rough Riders and their historic charge up San Juan Hill, but few know that, since their horses had to be left behind, the Riders made this charge entirely on foot. ... Greatest Display of Badassedry: While campaigning for a third term, Roosevelt was shot by a madman and, instead of treating the wound, delivered his campaign speech with the bleeding, undressed bullet hole in his chest.
And yet, despite his extreme toughness, the lovable Teddy bear is named after him.
Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest person to become president, and the first American to win the Nobel Prize (for negotiating peace between the Russians and the Japanese). He's the only dude with glasses on Mount Rushmore. He was also, being a man of his time, racist, and a bit of a war-monger (Manifest Destiny and all that). He was a Republican who took on corporations and conserved more land for parks and wildlife preserves than all his predecessors combined. He put Abraham Lincoln on the penny (I stole all this trivia from Wikipedia). He had a pretty sweet mustache.
He was also a firm believer in the progressive income tax. Timothy Noah recently wrote this article about this fact: believing that 'the richer you are, the more tax you should pay' does not make one socialist/communist/un-American. He quotes the dead prez himself:
We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. … The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
Noah points out some statistics that should make us think hard about the state of the world and the dangers of pure capitalism:
Today, the income gap between the top 0.01 percent of families in the United States and the bottom 90 percent is greater than it was in T.R.'s day. The last time it was anywhere near so great was in 1929. The top marginal income-tax rate, meanwhile, is near its historic low in the late 1920s. Those of you seeking a cause to the current financial meltdown may draw your own conclusions.
Everybody grumbles about paying taxes, myself included. But when given the choice, I don't think any of us would rather live in a world without public roads, police, firefighters, education, and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (something else for which we can thank TR). So let's render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, render to God what is God's (something far more important than tax policy) and let's not mind rendering more than than those who have less than us.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Well, the brother went down into the nearby city in order to sell the book. And the price he asked was sixteen pence. The buyer said: Give me the book that I may find out whether it is worth that much. With that, the buyer took the book to the holy Anastasius and said: Father, take a look at this book, please, and tell me whether you think I ought to buy it for sixteen pence. Abbot Anastasius said: Yes, it is a fine book, it is worth that much.
So the buyer went back to the brother and said: Here is your money. I showed the book to Abbot Anastasius and he said it is a fine book and worth at least sixteen pence. But the brother asked: Was that all he said? Did he make any other remarks?
No, said the buyer, he did not say another word.
Well, said the brother, I have changed my mind and I don't want to sell this book after all. Then he hastened to Abbot Anastasius and begged him with tears to take back his book, but the Abbot would not accept it, saying: Go in peace, brother, I make you a present of it.
But the brother said: If you do not take it back I shall never have any peace. After that the brother dwelt with Abbot Anastasius for the rest of his life.
from "The Wisdom of the Desert", a book of sayings of desert monks, compiled by Thomas Merton
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Pity and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.
Frodo: He deserves death...
Gandalf: Deserves it! I dare say he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured, but there is a chance of it.
From J.R.R. Tolkien, in Lord of the Rings
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I guess this defeats the purpose of an anonymous poll, but I'd just like to know.
Abortion reduction is the clear common ground that could unite the pro-choice and pro-life polarities and bring us together to find some real solutions and finally see some results. John McCain and Barack Obama last evening opened up the possibility of finding some new common ground in reducing abortions, reflecting the 2008 Democratic and Republican platforms. There is also now some movement in the Congress with pro-life and pro-choice members looking for common ground solutions for reducing the number of abortions that are proven to work. New and compelling studies make the clear connection between abortion and poverty, with fully three-fourths of the women who have abortions saying that they just couldn’t afford to have the child. It will be a great day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction become non-partisan issues and bipartisan causes.
Life is precious. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.
Freedom is fundamental. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. Again, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
So today I discovered Wordle. It makes word clouds out of text you put in. The size of each word is determined by its frequency in the text. I put in the entire Gospel of Luke, and this is what came out.
I also put in the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7.
I find this fascinating. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' thesis statement, his basic teaching about life. The biggest words in the word cloud (and therefore the words he says the most) are God, Father, Heaven, reward, good, kingdom, one, body, blesses, give, pray...
What is Jesus about? Are we in the church concerned about what he was apparently concerned about? Are we saying what he said? Are we thinking about what was most on his mind?
I said the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' thesis statement. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe his thesis statement is what he begins his ministry in Luke with, by quoting from Isaiah 61:
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor."
Jesus says this scripture has been fulfilled, with and in himself.
So I put in Isaiah 61, in it's entirety. Here's what came out.
The biggest word is "Lord". No surprise there. But the second-biggest is "instead". Think about that. Beauty instead of ashes. Gladness instead of mourning. Instead of shame, a double portion. Instead of disgrace, an inheritance. Praise, instead of despair.
At the heart of the gospel is a great reversal. The Bible is chock full of it. The first will be last. The younger son is chosen over the older. Lazarus the beggar was poor in life, rich in death. The reverse for the rich man. A nation of slaves walks out of a nation of chariots. God lives in a tent made of manatee-leather. Blessed are the hungry, the meek, the merciful. Blessed are the poor instead of cursed are the poor. Woe to the rich instead of lucky are the rich. Instead of hating your enemies, love them. Instead of a lecture, the prodigal son gets a party.
Instead of us getting what we deserve, Jesus did.
Instead of succumbing to sin and death, Jesus lived again.
Instead of condemning us, he saves us.
So choose to live in the land of Instead. Instead of worrying about money, live like there is plenty. Instead of holding grudges, forgive your neighbor. Instead of putting money first or sex first or power first or family first or country first, seek the kingdom first. Instead of being filled with wine, be controlled by the Spirit. Instead of fear, be full of love. For perfect love casts out fear. Do what nobody expects. Instead of keeping your life, lose it.
And instead of dying, you'll live.