Thursday, December 24, 2009

Here is a little treat for Xmas Eve from the Flobots.

Merry Christmas! Remember that this is the celebration of the Rebel Jesus!

Lyrics (These are from the Flobots website. The links are theirs):

Somewhere between prayer and revolution
between Jesus and
Huey P. Newton
that’s where you find Jonny 5 shoot shootin
water guns at the audience while ya scootin’
your gluteous max due to the fact that I’m tootin’
on the horn gonna warn you that I’m rootin’
for the other team in the
culture wars
so I stab the beast belly while the vulture roars


let it blow with convulsive force
til walls fall off their false supports
Jericho’s aircraft carriers alter course
and all brave young Americans are called ashore
cause we’ve already lost the war they keep wagin
splattering the streets in battles that keep ragin
bloodyin each page of the story that we’re studying
each day the same just the names keep changin


saying the same things over again
repeatin the same slogans we don’t know where we’ve been
We’ve been all over the globe on our government’s funds
leavin man woman and child dead bloody and numb

saying the same things over again
repeatin the same slogans we don’t know where we’ve been
we’ve been overthrowing leaders with legitimate views
democratically elected but we didn’t approve….

verse 2

How many times can the line divide
how many wars to uphold some pride
fears uncontrolled just swoll the tide
of blood in the streets while the people die

Ima keep on tryin
longs as suffering’s multiplyin
and why not
souls get tossed and left out to rot
my backs broad enough to help left your cross

as long as you help with mine
the process of healing will take some time
to see the pain on your face is the same as mine
not a game or a race but the stake is high
we maintain our mistakes for the sake of sides
as long as it takes I”ll say it one more time
as long as it takes I’ll say it one more time
as long as it takes I’ll say it one more time


verse three

we need money for healthcare and public welfare
free mumia and Leonard Peltier
human needs not corporate greed
drop the debt and legalize weed

we say yes to grassroots organization
no to neoliberal globalization
bring the troops back to the USA
shut down guantanamo Bay

the same things over again
my throat’s so sore from shoutin
no war for the soldiers again
lookin for cloud cover when the explosions begin
lookin the crowd over wonder if you where we’ve been
we’ve been all over the globe
Iran to Nicaragua
guatamala Angola grenada

Dominican republic Haiti chile

It don’t stop and it won’t stop unless we keep
Who let’em overthrow
Jacobo Arbenz

Who let’em overthrow
Mohammad Mosaddeq

Who let’em assassinate Salvador Allende

I didn’t let them but they did it anyway

Who let’em overthrow Kwame Nkrumah

Who let’em overthrow Aristide

Who let’em assassinate Oscar Romero

I didn’t let’em but they did indeed!
don’t let them assassinate
Hugo Chavez

don’t let them assassinate Evo Morales

bring back Martin, Malcolm, Medgar,

Hampton, Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When it comes to banks, Pete Seeger had it right

In all the excitement and hoorah about the healthcare debate, other business is still going on in the the US Congress, most notably legislation that would put regulations on banks and other financial institutions to ensure that they don't walk us off the cliff again some time in the future. Problem is, these banks don't want to be regulated. Screw the fact that we just bailed them out. They have "us" over a barrel and they know it.

Anyway, there is much "ink" that has been spilled today about the various incarnations of this little bit of drama. I will leave it to others to tell you what is going on. I just wanted to share this little gem with you. (Lyrics are below)

I've traveled round this country
From shore to shining shore.
It really made me wonder
The things I heard and saw.

I saw the weary farmer,
Plowing sod and loam;
I heard the auction hammer
A knocking down his home.

But the banks are made of marble,
With a guard at every door,
And the vaults are stuffed with silver,
That the farmer sweated for.

I saw the seaman standing
Idly by the shore.
I heard the bosses saying,
Got no work for you no more.

But the banks are made of marble,
With a guard at every door,
And the vaults are stuffed with silver,
That the seaman sweated for.

I saw the weary miner,
Scrubbing coal dust from his back,
I heard his children cryin',
Got no coal to heat the shack.

But the banks are made of marble,
With a guard at every door,
And the vaults are stuffed with silver,
That the miner sweated for.

I've seen my brothers working
Throughout this mighty land;
I prayed we'd get together,
And together make a stand.

Then we'd own those banks of marble,
With a guard at every door;
And we'd share those vaults of silver,
That we have sweated for.

Yep, Pete got it right!

Semester is almost over!

So the semester is almost over, which means that I hope to work through a back-log of stuff that I have to get through and get it up here.

Until then, tie yourself over with this clip of Vermont Senator Bernie Sander from the Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Fed's Dead - Bernie Sanders
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Whose with me for a "Draft Bernie '12" campaign?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Contextualizing and Authority

This is another post that was originally written for my Christian Theology class at WFUSD. As I have done previously, I will include bibliographical information at the bottom of the post. Word of warning: this is the least favorite of the posts that I have written for the class to date. There was something about it that just didn't quite come together for me.


This past week readings from both Migliore and Ford touched on the place and authority of scripture in Christian theology. These readings grabbed me became the focus of my thought this week. I mentioned last week that I grew up in churches that, while they belonged to a mainline denomination, could very easily be considered “conservative evangelical” in their outlook. Like many similar churches a great deal of emphasis was placed on “scripture.” I place this in quotes due to the loaded way that this term was used in the churches of my youth. Often this emphasis was rooted almost entirely in certain passages that served to reenforce the conservative/fundamentalist doctrine that we were getting from other places. The truth be told, while I am sure that this is not true, I don't remember a sermon other than Christmas and Easter being preached from the gospels. There was a lot of Paul and a lot of “Old Testament,” but not a whole lot of Jesus.

The other side of my religious upbringing was what I got at home. Both of my parents were “progressives” before we ever heard that word. They certainly served as a counter-weight to the indoctrination that I was receiving at church. However, even at home the scriptures played a large role. Until I went to High School and there simply ceased to be time, every morning was started sitting around the table, reading the Upper Room devotion for the day with the scripture being read out of the red family RSV. When we would visit my great-grandmother in West Texas every meal was started by handing around little slips with different Bible verses on them. I knew that I had “grown up” when I was able to have my own to read to the table. Beyond these family rituals I saw both of my parents spend time every week preparing for Sunday School reading, studying, and pouring over whatever the passage was for that week. Thus, even from the two disparate strands of my religious education I saw the scriptures take a central role.

As I have gotten older and matured, both in life and in faith, a central struggle has been what role do the scriptures hold in my life and my theology. Can the scriptures be more than the literally read club that I saw in church, used to beat up people that don't fall into whatever orthodoxy the church tries and limits them to? After first leaving the church altogether and then spending time in the Unitarian-Universalists, what I have gradually come to believe is that the scriptures must hold a central place for us. They are what makes us, us. They are what roots us to the story of Jesus more than any tradition, doctrine, or creed. Without the scriptures the church becomes nothing more than an ethical debating society and a poor one at that, with no central narrative to tie us together. It is this centrality of the scripture in my faith that has lead me back to the term “evangelical” as a word that I feel more and more comfortable with to describe myself. I have often been told that I am being “too biblical” when making a point or having a discussion.

One place this position takes me is the tendency to quote and use scripture to frame my arguments. For an example of what I mean, look back at my entry from last week. Thus, when Craig pointed out the danger in “proof-texting” this week in class, I was forced to have a nice hard think about if that is what I was doing. Was I guilty of pulling passages out of context to “make my point?” This is not the first time that I have been confronted with this question. I have certainly been accused of doing it before, normally when the person that I was engaged with didn't like the conclusion that I was drawing! However, after the readings this week and reflecting on my use of scripture, I would make the argument that this is not what I do.

By definition, mine at least, proof-texting is taking a small passage out of its greater context to support or “prove” a theological point. Both Migliore and Ford give us hermeneutical guidelines that, while different, both revolve around that pesky old concept of context. Both Ford and Migliore make the point that there are multiple contexts of which the student of scripture needs to be aware. After recognizing and honoring these contexts as best she can, the student can begin to pull meaning from the texts. The recognition of these contexts creates a place where the meaning of the text gets deeper, richer, and more full, turning it from a cold, flat, black-words-on-a-white-page text into a text that truly speak to us about the fullness and wonder of G-d.

As we make the scripture central to our lives, both as individual people of faith and as members of a wider faith community, we need to ensure that we continue to honor these contexts, placing passages into their context and not stripping them out in such a way that the true import and meaning gets lost. This is what I try and do when ever I approach, use, and quote scripture. I recognize, and am fulling willing to admit, that I make mistakes. That I give passages meaning that someone else might not. I, like Migliore, am predisposed to seeing the greater context of scripture to be one of liberation and hope for all people and I admit that this might create a set of blinders that closes me off to other meanings that reside in the text. However, what I do know is that it is in placing scripture in its context and letting its Truth shape and form us as individuals and as a church to its “liberating message” (Migliore, 44) that we allow scripture to have its full authority.


Books Cited:

Ford, David. Theology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Univ. Press, 2000

Migliore, Daniel. Faith Seeking Understanding, 2nd edition. Eerdmans, 2004.

Also, I just wanted to give a shout out to my professor, Dr. Craig Atwood. He blogs at The Flaming Heretic? In case you are wandering, the name of the blog is reference to Jan Hus, the founder of the Moravian Tradition, of which Dr. Atwood is a part.

Mea Culpa: I've been a slacker

So, I want to apologize. I know that I have been a slacker. Truth be told, there has been a lot going on with school that has preempted any attempt in the last week to update here. If you follow my twitter feed you will know that I have been silent there as well.

I figure the best that I can do for you at this point to tease about some stuff that I am working on.

First, in just a bit I will post the last blog post that I have in reserve from the posting for my Christian Theology class.

Second, I am working on a piece that ties in with the Table Talk project that we have going on at Wake Forest Divinity School of Theology. Let this also serve as a call to all of you to participate in this project in some way. If you live in the area, come to our in person meetings. The first one will be tomorrow at 8pm at Foothills in downtown Winston. If you are further away, please participate in the conversation online.

Third, I have been working on a paper for my Christian Theology class that, while too long to go up as one post, I hope to be able to split up into several smaller posts. I cover a lot of ground in the paper and some of the thoughts in paper might be of interests to folks if I just pull them out and post them on their own.

Fourth, I am currently doing a lot of reading (for a class) in the area of Queer studies and Queer theology. My intention is to engage some of that material here in some way.

Fifth, and finally, I have applied to be a part of the latest public theology blog project that Tripp over at Homebrewed Christianity is working on as part of the upcoming session on public theology at the American Academy of Religion. This would mean that I get a free book and some exposure. My "payment" for this would be to blog about the book, plug the blog tour, and post some video from AAR. Even if I don't get the free book this time around, I will still be posting about this project. If you are interested in participating in the project visit this post at Homebrewed Christianity and see what it is all about.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A little housekeeping

For those of you who read this and know me in real life, you know that I love sending out links to articles that I find interesting.

I have had multiple people complain about how I can clog up their Facebook feed with links. Thus, it is a battle not to post a whole bunch of links here at Rambling Rambles. However, I feel that social media has come to the point that there is no need to post lots of links on blogs. From now on I will be reserving posts for things that I write myself, either original posts, things that I write for class that I feel might interest people who would read this (although I have to ask, why are you wasting your time reading me anyway? :-) ) and finally post that I write that are a response to something that I read else where.

If you are interested in reading things that I simply find interesting, please either follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. Just to the right you will see where I have posted my Twitter feed to this site. Also, for those of you who would like to follow the Twitter feed but don't want to create their own Twitter account, if you go to my profile page (link above) you can add my feed to your RSS reader (I recommend Google Reader).

I hope to have a post up about the endings of Mark by in the morning. I am also working on a post in regards fundamentalism, but it is taking more time and careful thought than I originally anticipated.

Over the last few days, as I have gotten more active in posting and in promoting posts through Twitter and Facebook, traffic has increased here. I appreciate all of you who are reading this. Please, please, please post comments and start conversation. I am under no illusions that I am any kind of expert. I engage in all of these different forms of social media to participate in and create conversation and collaboration. (for some of my thoughts about this, see some of my earlier posts about the Open Source movement)

Thanks again for reading, and I hope to hear from all of you soon.

By Their Fruits

This is another post that was originally written for my Christian Theology class. After the post I will include the bibliographical information for the books that I cite.

I know that this one has the potential for being a little more controversial than the previous one. Let me state that I am intentionally being provocative, however, that does not mean that I am not serious in my assessment. Let me know what you think.


As most of us recognize, and has been mentioned in the readings this week, there is a always a greater context in which theological work exists and transpires. Part of Ellen Charry's goal in By the Renewing of Your Minds is to reclaim the pre-modern context of the theologians that she presents. One of the main principles of contemporary Biblical textual study is to ensure that the context in which the the text was written and presented to the community of faith is not forgotten or ignored. This premise is no less true for the theological reflection in which we are currently engaged in this course and with these blog entries. We are all writing in a certain time and place and out of certain cultures. Even within our class these contexts are different: we are a (relatively) diverse group of different ages, gender identities, denominational backgrounds, ethnicities, and socio-economic class.

However, our recognition of differing contexts should not be limited to these outward forms. Indeed, since Theological reflection can, and does, start in such an interior as the human mind, there is a personal intellectual and ideological (meaning here relating to or concerned with ideas) context that each of us carries into the discussion. This context may change on a daily (or even hourly!) basis as we read texts for other classes, engage in conversations, watch a movie, or read the news. No Theological reflection, or any intellectual pursuit, can exist in a vacuum; our thoughts and responses always arise out of the context of our culture and identity, both external and internal.

All of this simply to say that I am aware that my response this week has been largely shaped and informed by this larger context, by ideas that have been at the forefront of my thinking this week that may have given me a different emphasis when I was reading the texts.

What I found my self coming back to, again and again, was the theme running through both Charry and Migliore that the Christian faith should call us to a life transformed and that this transformation should and must have real implications on the life that we live and in the way that we treat our fellow human beings. This new way of being, acting, and interacting should be one, both Charry and Migliore assert, based on love, reconciliation, inclusion, justice, and righteousness. This stands apart from the conservative evangelical teachings that I received in the churches that I grew up in that stated that coming to G-d through the lens of Jesus was more about assent and “belief” in a certain right doctrine. But as Migliore states, “Surely faith is more than thinking correctly (a notion that might be called the heresy of orthodoxy). Faith is a matter of transformation --- personal, social, and world transformation.” (Migliore, 9)

In her extended analogy comparing theology and medicine, Charry points out that “Drugs are trusted and prescribed based on their demonstrated effects, not their theoretical cogency.” (Charry, 13) Thus, “you will know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:20) Charry continues the analogy by pointing out how medical malpractice is no reason to turn to non-empirical healing methods and thus spiritual malpractice is no reason to dismantle the tradition. However, Charry misses here an important point. Just as a “doctor” guilty of medical malpractice must be stopped for the health of the community, practitioners of spiritual and theological malpractice must likewise be rooted out for the health of the community. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt 7:19)

For far too long “moderate,” “liberal,” and “progressive” (do these words have have any real meaning?) have shied away from calling out the false prophets in our midsts, all in the name of a misguided pseudo-pluralism that fails to recognize the negative consequences to the Christian community that arise from the toleration of false prophets. A “gospel” the fruits of which are greed, anger, hatred, murder, war, and fear, just to name a few, is not the Good News of Jesus.

I recognize that this argument can be read as a potential attack on other faith traditions, however, I am hear only referencing my own tradition. I am a member of the Christian community and no other, making me wholly inadequate to critique any tradition other than my own.

Bill Maher's anti-religious polemic Religulous concludes with these words:

And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. If you belonged to a political party or social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you would resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.

By allowing these false prophets to continue to use the language of the Gospel to promote their heresies of hatred, fear, ignorance, and death, we do allow them the legitimacy of our faith tradition. I truly believe that it is time to stand in the light and love that is the Gospel of Jesus and name these people for what they are. For, as Migliore points out, “What the church needs at all times and especially in times of crisis is clarity of conviction and purpose.” (Migliore, xi emphasis added)


Books cited:

Charry, Ellen. By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine. Oxford Univ. Press, 1999.

Migliore, Daniel. Faith Seeking Understanding, 2nd edition. Eerdmans, 2004.

When I cite the Bible, unless otherwise stated, I am citing the New Revised Standard Version.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fire This Time?

This was written for my theology class. The question that we were responding to was “What I am anticipating in a course on Christian theology” or “What I am anxious about in a course on Christian theology.”


As several have mentioned, it is interesting to read through this first set of entries, or to at least skim them. The one thing that many seem to have in common is a general trepidation that seems to center on a fear of “not being able to do it” (I am of course paraphrasing and generalizing here, but you get my point). I have no fear that all the students in the class will be able to bring their considerable and differing experiences together and be able to “do” G-d-talk.

Now, if I am giving the impression that I don't have trepidation and anxiety about this course and its subject matter, I'm sorry, because I certainly do have deep seated “fear and trembling” about being in this course. But not for many of the reasons cited. I did take quite a few philosophy courses in undergrad and my degree is essentially in political philosophy and history. I know that I can “do” this kind of work, but that ability is what scares me. My previous classes have taught me how to tear something apart, to look at it, examine it, name it, own it, and I am not sure if I know how to engage with ideas in a meaningful way with out doing that, and that scares the crap out of me.

All through my academic career I managed to avoid taking a class in/on theology. Now sure, I've read on my own, but that kind of self-work is not the same as rigorous academic study. And it certainly doesn't help that I have a deep seated suspicion of theology as an attempt to quantify, qualify, name, know, and own the very mystery of G-d, a mystery that we are told many times in Scripture, both Hebrew and Greek, that we can not know and certainly not name, own and control.

A friend of mine who is a Wake Div grad told me something over the summer that I think Dr. Tupper told her when she was a student: Div school is hard and scary and brutal because it forces you to rip out you still beating heart and examine it.

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that for many (most?) of us our faith, our theology, our G-d-talk, is at the very center of who we are, that it forms a (the?) core of our existence. Knowing that, I can't help but fear that we are playing with fire. The Wild Land Firefighter in me is screaming to be careful, to not play with the fire, while at the same time the rebel/anarchist/wild-man/12-year old pyro in me can't help but to take a leap of faith, screaming, “Lets burn it all to the ground and see what new rises from the ashes of the old!”

One More Time

So, another school year has started, and that means that it is time, yet again, for me to pretend that I am going to start to regularly update this space. Truth be told, I am not sure how many people, if any, read this thing, so I am not sure that it matters.

One of the things that I have been thinking about is an idea that I had last year. I am doing a LOT of writing for class and such. I think that I am going to try and place some of the work that I am doing for class up here. Maybe some of you would be interested. In particular, for Christian Theology I have to write a bog entry once a week for class anyway, so I may as well post those here. If and when there are things that I think I need to explain, I will endeavor to do so.

Since I already have a back log of posts, I will place a couple over the next few days, starting here in just a minute.

So there we go. Another promise from me to do better and actually put some content up here. We will see if there effort is more successful than the others have been.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Astro-turfing to stop Health-care Reform

So here I am. I should totally be in bed, sleeping. Preparing myself mentally for a Greek test that I have tomorrow. But I am still up. Watching old episodes of The Alaska Experiment on Discovery Channel and I just saw this ad:

After all these years of right-wing astro-turfing efforts, I am pretty good at spotting an attempt, particularly one this ham-handed, almost immediately.

After a quick Google search of the name of the group claiming responsibility for the ad, "Patients United Now," I had my suspicions confirmed. This group is the ultimate example of astro-turfing. It is a project of the group "Americans for Prosperity." If this group sound familiar, it should. This is the group that was one of the main leaders behind the "Tea Party" movement that has become a vocal point for the radical right (if you have questions about this Google it. You will see multiple videos, from multiple rallies, of people calling for essentially armed rebellion and secession from the United States. As I believe that information never hurt anyone, feel free to visit the website for AFP.

But who/what exactly is "Americans for Prosperity"? Again, just a few minutes of quick Google search gave me the answers that I was looking for. The Center for Media and Democracy's Source Watch gives us an entry on AFP. Some interesting stuff there, including the fact that AFP advocates for the tobacco industry, has been a strong proponent of anti-Climate Change pseudo science, and the fact that much of the money for its operation comes from Art Pope (a name that any here in North Carolina will recognize) as well as David Koch.

The good folks over at the Center for American Progress have done some more great work on informing us about AFP. In a Press Release from 2008 the Center for American Progress Action Fund lays out some of the greater Right-wing connections of Koch, and thus AFP. The Koch machine has been instrumental in the founding of many of the most extreme members of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" including: The John Birch Society, the CATO Institute, The Federalist Society, The Heritage Society, and North Carolina's John Locke Foundation (there is that Art Pope connection again). These are groups that range from the mainstream of the conservative movement to the farthest reaches of its fringe.

Here is an assortment of Think Progress and Wonk Room posts concerning AFP and the Koch machine:






Many laughed at Hilary Clinton in 1998 when she claimed that the attacks on her husband and his administration were part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." While Bill Clinton did little to help himself, and certainly was no true progressive, the fact that his administration was the target of a concerted effort by a hyper-organized right-wing apparatus to discredit it, both on the personal level as well as the policy level, must be accepted by all but the most dense.

Now in the early days of an administration that might actually deliver on some true progressive change, this machine is ramping up again. And in principle I don't disagree with their ability to advocate their point of view, I do have a serious issue with dishonesty. And at its most basic, that is what the astro-turfing efforts of right-wing groups, ones connected with the Koch machine and those that aren't, are. They are dishonest lies, based in appealing to the most base of human instincts: fear and anger, leading to hatred.

How many people, if they knew the true connections of "Patients United Now," would even give a second thought to these ads? Polls tell us that the vast majority of people in this country want sweeping health-care reform. Yet how many people, in the absence of true and good information, will be swayed by the lies of such organizations like the Koch machine and its tools the AFP and Patients United Now?

BTW, Media Matters has a good rebuttal of the "facts" that are in the ad. While I am not normally a big fan of Media Matters, they have done a good job here. I will continue to check to see if they put up a good fact check of the ad. If they do, I will be sure to post it here.

EDIT: I promised an update from if one was posted. Well apparently it had been posted already and I just missed it. Here it is.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So I know that this is a little bit of a crazy idea

At least it is crazy to come back with this, but I'm in the middle of a great experiment. Mainly seeing (a) how long I can go without sleep and (b) how it affects me. Follow on twitter @cm1165

And also, as I am able and get back to the computer, I will be posting here too.

So, for the record, I am entering hour 50.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Politics as Ethics, Unemployment, and the Republicans' Hair-brained Scheme

First, let me say what a relief it is to be through midterms. It has been tough so far this semester getting back into the swing of school, classes, and papers, but I think that I am going to make it. Either that, or I am going to flame out in such an amazing way, that they will see it from space.

So, in talking to folks recently, I have had two requests. First, try to post with a little more regularity. I hinted at how I intend to do that a week or so ago. When classes come back be expecting heavily edited versions of papers and writing assignments to be going up here. The number of posts that go up is totally dependent on the time that I feel like I have to dedicate to the site. Second, I have been asked/told to check my spelling a little more thoroughly. I will be up front here: I will do what I can with spelling. I will try and catch as many misspelled words as possible. It is embarrassing to me and undermines what little credibility that I may have with you, the reader. However, I will tell you up front that from time to time I will misspell words. It is going to happen, particularly on posts that go up in a hurry. If you see something that is particularly pernicious, let me know and I will edit and fix it. But spelling is simply not my strong suit.

Recently, I have been asked why it is that I focus so much on politics here. I can assure you that it was not my intention to focus as much as I have when I got started with the site. I knew that it was going to play a part, but I had no idea how much of a part. I had intended, and still do, to include much more culture as well as theology and commentary on the state of the church and religion. And those things will come.

But the truth is that I see many of the things that are going on in the political world right now to be issues of great moral and ethical import. I guess I bought the line from Sojourners, and others, that the budget of the nation is, at its core, a moral document that reveals the priorities of a nation.

Right now, this is the snapshot of our priorities that our budget offers us:

What you are seeing is a pie chart of the federal budget. That large red chunk at the top is the proportion of the federal budget that goes to the Pentagon. That little 15% part is the part that a panel of career military experts agreed was waste in the Pentagon's budget. To see where I got this chart, and to learn more about its contents, visit the good people over at True Majority.

So, for a person like me, who sees the budget as a moral document that reveals what the true priorities of out country are, this is an exciting time. Not only are we having a transfer of power from one ideology to a very different ideology, but this transition is happening in the context of great financial and economic unrest and instability, causing the differences between these two ideologies to be seen that much clearer.


The big news Friday were the February job loss numbers. 651,000 more jobs slipped into the ether in February, driving unemployment up to around 8.1% or, to but it another way, the highest it has been in 25 years. Unemployment is now the worst that it has been in my life! This would be bad enough, but as the guys over at NPR's Planet Money point out, the real number is significantly higher, closer to 15 or 16% when you include the underemployed and the folks that have just quite looking for work. And when you stop to think that in just a few short months we will be releasing an entire year of recent high-school and college graduates into the job market, I have the feeling that this number will spike again. We are now in a vicious cycle that will not be broken unless there is dramatic change.


Speaking of, the Republicans seem to have settled on a strategy of opposing President Obama and the Democratic agenda. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they are proposing a SPENDING FREEZE. Yes, you read that right, the leadership of the party recently in power is calling for the federal government to freeze all spending. There are about 8 million things to say in response to this, but I am going to keep my mouth shut and let Rachel Maddow do the talking, with the lovely Ana Marie Cox offering a great, although slightly poorly pulled off, metaphor.

Now, for the record, I am going to agree with the one that has her Doctorate from Oxford University (the one in England), and not the guys that are trying to reinstate the policies of the President and Party that lead this country by the nose into the Great Depression. And to my mind, at least Culberson should know better. He has a history degree from SMU.

Wow, just and simply wow.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Which I Ask For All To Do What Is Right For The Country And Not My Side

I should be working on mid-terms, or at least be in bed sleeping to prepare to work on midterms, but this has been bounding around in my head and I can not let it go.

So I am sure that many of you were following the goings on at CPAC last week. There was the 13 year old wunderkind, and Ann Coulter, and Mitt Romeny, and Newt Gingrich. I hope that others saw the video that included the shot of a book table there that included a book entitled "America's Half-blood Prince" about President Obama (get it....he's a half breed har-har). These things alone would be enough to make my stomach turn, and yet I still delight in seeing the Conservative movement really show who they are once a year.

But for me, the real cherry, the glimce through the glass clearly if you will, comes from not only Rush Limbaugh's speech, but also its after-math. For a taste of what he had to say, just click below (I won't blame you if you don't):

And at the time I thought, "Wow, there he goes again" and roll my eyes. And on Saturday night, Micheal Steele, the new head of the RNC, spoke out against Rush calling him an "entertainer" and his comments "incendiary and ugly." (video below)

Now, less than three hours after Rush attacked Chairman Steele on his show, Steele has caved and issued an apology, saying:
"I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking," Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people ... want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not."

You know,this is good for my side. The more that the Republican Party implodes and lets itself be held hostage, as the Church has, to the loudest voice, and not the wisest or even the most populous, the farther down the trail to irrelevance they will travel. And that is good for my side. It means we will win. It might even mean that eventually the Democratic Party would be so dominate that it splits and there is a legitimate voice on the Left in this country, and not just a coalition party of the Center-Left. So, I should be enjoying this. Heavens knows, there are many out there that are. And I can not blame them for their giddiness.

But I can't partake in it. I am too sad. See, our country works best (as much as I don't want to admit it) when there is a healthy opposition party. There wasn't for most of GWB's eight years, and we see where we are in a war that we shouldn't be, in debt that we didn't have to be, and with one of our great American cities, in fact maybe THE great American city, drowned in a sludge of indifference and incompetence.

So I am sad. I am sad for my country that one of it's great political parties, the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike, is held hostage by an ignorant blow-hard best known for his drug addiction. If you read this and you are a Republican, please, please, please, call your local, state, and national party officials and let them know that a principled party has no room for demagogues like Rush, and all the others at CPAC.

I am not asking you to give up your principles, only asking that you fully live into them, for the good of us all.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In interest of Fairness, I bring you: The Jindel Response!

Here is the video for that:

Watch CBS Videos Online

And here is Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox responding to Jindel. Pay attention to her response to Jindel bringing up Katrina:

Obama's Address to the Nation: The Non-State of the Union

So this morning I am trying to get caught up on not only school work, but also my civic engagement. I thought that I would throw the video of Obama's Non-State of the Union up here, as well as the transcript. And then, through out the day (hopefully) I will respond and post the responses of others.

Here's the Video:

Watch CBS Videos Online

And here is the Transcript.


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Postings from/based on Course Work

So, several people have suggested that I post some of the work that I am doing for classes on here as postings.  I have thought about it and think that it is actually a good idea.  There is some great stuff, and it is already pre-written.  Thus, I am going to try it, in an attempt to up the output here. 

If you think this is a bad idea, let me know.  If it seems to be wildly unpopular, I will stop. 

I will be posting the first one of these either tonight or tomorrow.  I need to be sure that the one that I am thinking about posting will make sense outside of the context of the class and if I need to edit it a little bit that that gets done.

Let me know what you think about this idea.   

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shout out to the Transforming Theology Project

Just a shout out for the folks over at the Transforming Theology Project. Tripp over at Homebrewed Christianity is part of this and has a great posting today about the Theology Bloggers that they have brought together for this first phase of the project.

Go and check it out and get a line on some new feeds to pick up.
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Again with the laziness and thoughts on an Open Source World

Logo Open Source InitiativeImage via Wikipedia

So, again I have started a project and have not followed through on it. I have been trying to figure out why, and I really think it is because I have little (read zero) accountability right now. I know that few, if any, people are going to be reading this anytime soon. So I don't write. And as I don't write, no one reads. Thus, I am caught in a widening gyre. So, I figure the only way out is to commit to doing it long enough to gather a readership that will then hold me accountable.

Chad over at Homebrewed Christanity just posted "25 Random Things about Jesus." It is his take on what Jesus may have written had the "25 Random Things" craze swept first century Palestine. There are some interesting tidbits for thought in there, so I urge you to take a look.

Also, Toby Sturgill has an interesting post that went up a couple of days ago about the 5 brands that "get" social media. In the list is one that is close to my heart, and that is Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, the shop that brings us The lesson that Toby takes from this is that

Social media is a culture of transparency and honesty that must be embraced, leading by example is one of the best ways to introduce it to a company. Few things are better than a CEO that blogs or uses twitter.

I really don't think that we should be suprised by a company like Sun, that, in a lot of ways, has thrown itself behind the Open Source movement, to be interested in transparenct and honesty. In fact, Sun has recognized that these two qualities can play a significant role in their grabing a significant market share of the office application suite market.

As I mentioned on Toby's site, I think that there is a wierd zeitgeist right now that is pushing for these qualities across the board. I am not sure if social media and web 2.0 have influenced this, or if they are a result of this. I think the best place to look for this in the dominate culture right now is not only the Obama campaign, but also how is appears that he is going to govern. Just today at a Town Hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana Obama stated that they are going to launch a .gov website that people can go on and see where recovery money is being spent in thier area and then report on if it is being used effectivly or not. What we are talking about here is not just a campaign that had the markings of an open source campaign (the argument can be made that it was mainly show) but what appears to be open source governce, wikipedia governence. This idea, that perhaps an individual might be wrong, but the collective wisdom and insight will bend toward the truth, could have explosive and revolutionary consequences.

I think that this is a frame that we can begin to use to understand the Emergent Movement as well. I think that we can look on it as an open source church movement. I think that this is deffinitly an idea that is worth exploring in a little more detail, along with the other ideas that are represented here as well. Is this the true meaning/understanding as we move into a post-modern world, that we are moving into a world that is open source? It seems to me that this may be the case.

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