Tuesday, November 22, 2011

rrpenn state forever--molder of men..!! q b
 that phrase, and the tune of the fight song to which it belongs have skittered around in my brain  for the past many days, as its irony alternately causes me to shake my head and smile a sad kind of smile—and then, to sit and stare at the wall and wonder at how life turns on a dime. I graduated from PSU in 1966 and joe paterno, “jo pa” graduated to head coach  the very next season, in 1967. penn state football has barely had any losses since then: 46 years of winning…no surprise, then, that at penn state, joe pa’s status is that of a god!

Last year, age 83, and some would say, considerably slowed down as coach, on his and his team’s reputatation, he still managed to turn a $50.4 million profit on $70.2 in revenue—3rd only to texas and Georgia…nobody else came close!!

this is all background noise, because anyone who thinks what happened at penn state last week was about pedophilia is, I believe, mistaken….

a pedophile was a player in the drama…but in this case, only as a catalyst. this tragedy happened at penn state, but given any trigger to set it off, it might have happened at any of the large schools—it apparently happened this week in some way or another at Syracuse!-- that depend on huge revenues from crowded 100,000+ seat stadiums each week, and pots of gold that come from the tv exposure that goes along with being a winner, and alumnae donations and endowments… all literally life’s blood to any college as it grows and grows and becomes a university, with the capacity to attract even more….

if there is, god forbid, a scandal, the money begins to dry up, and it is possible to destroy an entity by “whispering down the lane.” in this case the trouble is very real, but so far, we still only know the basic outline—contained in the grand jury testimony. it will be quite some time before all the facts are known or made public. but the little we know is pretty awful. and the sad OVERRIDING truth is that on many “big football” campuses, football players and sometimes other athletes are coddled and enabled in ways that allow them to get away with almost anything short of murder—

Consider: Allegations against…[the] University…cast a dark shadow over a generation that has lost its way. [Other major schools] facing problems caused by misbehaving athletes include: Colorado, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

The problem starts and ends with the university’s policy on certain matters and enforcement of those policies. College athletics bring the big name schools millions of dollars every year. Therefore, it is easy to see why some administrators are lenient on certain matters involving their star student athletes. That is no excuse for errant players getting away with a slap on the wrist when they should be expelled from the school for detriment to the team, school and themselves.

[Student athletes have] learned they can bend the rules when they know they offer something of value…

what makes the foregoing interesting to me is that it’s not about penn state…it was an opinion piece written in the collegian online newspaper at duke in 2006, after the lacrosse team was accused (and later exonerated) of an evening of gang rape. And it was properly concluded then, as now, that all over the country colleges may be, in turn, both victim and victimizer…

Again, consider:  EAST LANSING — 9/29/10  THE MICHIGAN MESSENGER. “Documents obtained by Michigan Messenger show two high-profile Michigan State University basketball players have been accused of committing sexual assault on campus in August. Despite the allegations, prosecutors have declined to take up the case, and the victim disputes the reasons offered for not bringing charges.
The heavily redacted police report released by Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III alleges the two team members took turns assaulting an unidentified woman for nearly an hour in their Wonders Hall dormitory room late on Aug. 29 and into Aug. 30.” 
no school, no year…NO ONE is exempt from the penn state mess. only the details are different. at duke, it was the lacrosse team and supposed gang rape, at Michigan basketball players allegedly doing the same…if you want to spend the time looking it up you can find examples from all parts of the country…and the issue is not sex, though the output, often, is; the issue, at heart, is MONEY—so so much money…if the star of your moneyball team, which is responsible for bringing in multiple millions and millions of dollars every year, is also a date rapist, but you NEED him for the team…do  you throw him off the team and out of school and into jail?  how about the pedophile coach who’s responsible for making champions—can you throw him to the wolves? can you/do you take that chance?

I’m shaking my head as I write this because I can hardly believe this goes on, for real…but it does! maybe even, you know stories from your own experience that you’d want to share with us… please jump in here and tell us what you think.

I have to add one more thing because ethel feels so strongly about it. so many of our blog pieces take on a religious focus. I guess that’s because it’s what she and I talk about, often enough, when we get to seriously talking. But once in a while, usually I’ll find a story that has nothing to do with religion—no religious coloring at all—but which has importance to me for some other reason, in this case rah rah rah, I graduated from penn state. but now ethel wants it pointed out strongly that there is no religious nut ball involved here doing nefarious things in the name of god…just an unfortunate guy who apparently had a very serious problem for at least 30 years, it would appear, from evidence gathered so far…and in doing nothing to stop him, his so called friends may have consigned him to prison for the rest of his life…
           cool friends…

Friday, October 07, 2011

you know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but it seems to me that the level of political discourse in this country is becoming more and more ugly and rude. it has always been a process meant to leave only the strongest upright…but the definition of strength has changed dramatically, and now seems to have something more to do with accumulated wealth and religious belief, the latter being something our forefathers worked diligently to keep on a separate track from government.
that in mind, something happened last week that made me realize I had to say SOMETHING, FINALLY…president obama was speaking at the house of blues in los angeles, and this nut ball, who apparently is a local legend for outragery—and he paid dearly, mind you--somewhere between $250-1000 for the privilege, positioned himself near center front, screaming loudly over obama’s beginning remarks, that “jesus is lord” and that “you are the antichrist” and kept it up for ten or 15 seconds until security reached him and took him in hand.
obama’s response was impressive. he grinned, and agreed that jesus was, in fact, lord, and since he could see things were tense, he asked whether a coat on a nearby chair belonged to the fellow…he didn’t want him to lose it.  a lady close by  said no, it was hers and  he laughed and said “oooh, well, make sure she doesn’t lose her keys! and make sure the guy gets across the street safely!”  I felt like he brought down the temperature, just right—gently funny…
but that’s not the story…
I actually saw all this on martin bashir’s program on msnbc. he showed the event and then had a guest  explain why what had happened was a real belief for some Christians. and what the rapture is and why those christians think obama may be the antichrist, etc…in other words, he was providing the religious backstory for some of this far-right tea party stuff that seems to be behind a lot of the "religiously political" or "politically religious" talk we’re trying to sort out currently.
 it was very interesting, particularly to someone a little short on end-of-times knowledge,  and when he was done ( the guy who was explaining) either he or another man, I can’t remember which, sat and talked to bashir.
martin was asking why, in his opinion, this was happening…and the fellow said, it was “because these were Christian evangelicals”… martin’s eyes opened pretty much as wide as mine did, and he said, “YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY BE SAYING THAT ALL CHRISTIAN EVANGELICALS ARE OF THAT SORT, ARE YOU?” at which point the fellow sort of backtracked,  but I think he did that because he was on national tv and he was about to be challenged by a man who sounded VERY smart—(and IS.)
the main thing, though, is that I think, even if the guy probably didn’t want to get taken apart in front of several thousand viewers, he, and lots of people, are thinking those very thoughts, and Christians in the churches who are not satisfied to have themselves represented by the likes of michelle bachman, and sarah palin and rick perry, etc…all of whom, bathe in their christianity, better get on the stick and tell these folks to “stop speaking as if you’re speaking for ME!!”
when you don’t speak up; when you don’t defend the faith as YOU know it to be, outsiders know it only from what they see and hear—and at BEST, it makes a laughing stock of you and and saddens me in ways I can’t articulate…I CAN’T stand up for you, because it must come from YOU! to say nothing is to say: “well, it’s all true; it’s just that  we don’t like it!” and you keep turning the other cheek till you’re so dizzy, you fall down!!
This is nothing new.  There are always kooky people out there spouting off in rude and inappropriate ways that make evangelical Christianity look really bad. You seem particularly disturbed by this phenomenon. Well, and so am I. How many times have you told us right here on this blog that we need to speak up?  Now, here is one more example, but unfortunately I fear we are about to see a lot more of these in the year ahead as the presidential campaign gets fully under way. SO many evangelicals see every political battle as spiritual warfare. The problem is that when they turn it in this direction, it is remarkably simple to stir up the troops. Many folks who would never see it this way otherwise now find themselves fearful of disagreeing with the doomsayers who shout so loudly and protest their Christian faith so boldly.
There is one Christian voice out there that stirs up a lot of controversy among us. Nothing shy or retiring about him—nor hesitant to speak his mind. I may not buy everything Frank Schaeffer says, but he has at least made me sit up and take some notice.
He says that basically, today's radical Christians want to change the way things are done in this country, and are not so much interested in restoring Democracy as they are in establishing a 21st century Theocracy.  He speaks of “Religion masquerading as Politics.” I heard him speaking once of the far-right agenda working toward a sort of Christian Shariah law. The idea made me shudder! Whew!
yeah, well, I mentioned some of this to bruce (husband) and he just truly believes I should have my head examined. he says, “it can’t happen!” I say to him…down through history there have been so many things that couldn’t happen—until they DID…I think he’s right that it will be very hard for the fundamentalists to win, but not impossible; nothing is impossible.
In one of his interviews with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, Franky said the following, and I think we all need to at least give him a listen and ask God what we should think and do about it.
...Can Christianity be rescued from Christians? And that’s an open question. And when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our President is the anti-Christ you have to draw one of two conclusions…either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation or they’re beyond crazy. And I think beyond crazy is a better explanation and that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America. We have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back. They look forward to Armageddon. Good news is bad news to them. ...
These people are standing on a hill top waiting for the end and this is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors.  …they’re our national neighbors, and this is the source of all these insanities that we see leveled at the President.  ***

I read our piece here to Walt (husband) and his comment, not unlike what we’ve heard often before, "They're kooks, and I tend to just ignore them.  They think they need to defend God, and He needs no defense."  l honestly believe that is the opinion of probably 99.9% of level-headed, thinking evangelicals.
and I think that’s maybe the reason many Christians don’t speak up, somehow they assume that god needs no defense…and maybe he doesn’t NEED it, exactly…but, history is chock full of moments when he might have benefitted…you know…fill in the blanks…
***   (for the whole video interview)

Monday, September 12, 2011

This morning I received one of those “patriotic” e-mails of the kind we are so accustomed to deleting from our boxes so we can get on with the day’s work.  This one said:
I am forwarding this to all of you, because it scares me to see the leaders of our country and our TV stations banning the use of American flags, whether on a lapel or from a home, or wherever.  This is America, and it is the land that God gave to us...let's continue to pray for our land and that we might have a revival in our hearts towards HIM!

The e-mail that came to me was launching a campaign to display flags on the occasion of our 10 year celebration of 9/11. No problem with such a display. But the introductory words supported a fearful campaign far more sinister.  With carefully chosen inflammatory words, the writer here planted visions in my head of presidential proclamations, congressional bills, TV news spots and newspaper headlines, all banning flag displays, and perhaps hinting at escalating anti American…”something BAD…”

yeah,  I get those, too, and every day I seem to learn the “sky is falling!!” (thank  god for chicken little!!) and we’ve talked in these blogs about the goofy preacher in florida who burned all those Korans and caused the retaliatory deaths of a lot of people, and the CA preacher who—well, I think he’s still has a date marked off in October for when the world will end…you have no end of nut balls who would love to wear neon signs on their foreheads advertising their Christianity, and very nearly NONE who want to advertise the true other side. I’ve said and I’ve said, often, I guess that it’s not up to me to understand that most of you are good and solid, kind people and/or pretty much like everyone else…BUT not everyone prefaces what they do with WHO THEY ARE…and not everyone passes judgment on others in the process of whatever they do…”judge not that ye be not judged…”

but now, this morning when we were talking, you got a little exercised about the flag email—okay, crazy!! and I have to say, I agree 100% most of them are nonsense, and incendiary, and could be turned off at the source  by the use of one simple, teeny tiny device that would take less than a teeny tiny minute…

I went to Snopes to check it out.

I was not surprised. Once again, someone  trying  to stir up panic and fear and wanting us to take a fighting stand for patriotism, as if we needed to be talked into patriotism! And, as if that were an essential element of godliness. In order to do this they have taken a few isolated incidents, and  revised the script to fit  in with their little playlet. And they well know that there are many people who will read, but not analyze, or possibly even think through what is said. They will, with shaking fingers, pass it along to their whole address book, via email,  and thereby help to widen the panic, or smear, or whatever craziness is being pedaled today—in this case--what they interpret as a massive move to ban the display of the American flag.

What I found at Snopes (WWW.SNOPES.COM) were these 3 stories:
1.     ABC had long had a policy against wearing any national identity symbols while doing a televised news report.   At the moment when the whole country erupted into a flag-flying mania after 9/11, ABC insisted on keeping that policy, even though many of their employees wanted to change things at least for the moment..
2.    A company that tried to ban flag displays on its premises, actually confiscated these at the time of 9/11. Subsequently, they investigated it and changed this policy.
3.    A group of high schoolers in California decided to wear T-shirts with American flags on them on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo. This offended some Mexican students who claimed it was their holiday. School officials told students to turn their T-shirts inside out. Instead, the students called their parents who took them home to change clothes. This stirred up Fox news to start a poll to see how many folks disagree with flag-banning in the schools.

No proclamations or bills, TV images or newspaper headlines. Just stories of American citizens interacting with a world that doesn’t always understand or appreciate our brand of patriotism.  In a time when tensions are high and feelings are raw about issues like immigration and homeland security, little relational volcanoes are sure to erupt.  What we do not need in the middle of all this, is a group of folks who live either so far to the right or to the left that they cease to search for a middle-of-the-road stance where we can experience peaceful coexistence. they don’t want to hear about it, and they don’t want to know about it…

We  need to look for truth—basic truth, whole truth—when we read  things that seem to want to incite us to fury, and to do so before we even consider passing them on..  And to my Christian brothers and sisters, I would say that of all folks on the face of the earth, we should be the very first ones to do so—we claim that our God is Truth, and so we must be most zealous in learning and protecting the Truth. But instead, we seem so eager to gather evidence of the deterioration of our culture that we grab onto every sensational report and never ask whether it is true or false or uncertain.
In dealing with the deluge of fear mongering that often stuffs  my inbox, I have learned to:
1.     Search Snopes and other dependable resources to determine whether the purported “facts” presented are actual facts, or somebody's distortion of the facts for whatever purpose.
2.     Search the incidents that gave rise to the report I am reading to see what really happened and why. There is almost always a “rest of the story…” . And that reason often alters the whole story.
3.    And, finally, I always pray before passing anything on! And, if necessary, I  wait until my anger has subsided and I can honestly say I care more about being the peacemaker God has put me on earth to be than about helping somebody else’s “righteous” cause.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, this nation lost a great man.  Mark Hatfield served in the US Senate for 6 terms.  While he was committed to fulfilling his office, he didn't always vote the way much of his constituency wanted him to.   He voted according to  his conscience which put him more often than not in the middle between political extremes, and sometimes at variance with as many as 90+% of his supporters. Yet, they loved him and kept re-electing him.  I read in an article* about him the other day  that while re-election was never his goal when he considered how to vote on any issue, he never lost an election. *http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1982/october22/markhatfield.html?start=8)  

If only we had a congress full of Mark Hatfields today. We surely could use a man of his moderate, sensible, responsible stature in every office in our government. 
or how ‘bout in just one of them!!? Assuredly! I think we all felt that way recently when we watched the debt-ceiling circus performance of our re-election-focused politicians. It looked to me, at least, as if each congressman strove to fit in with his/her colleagues and stand firmly against all opponents across the aisle.  How much sooner might the crisis have been resolved if we had a dozen more Hatfields committed to finding a solution somewhere in the middle of the road where truth so often lies? 

You and I recently had a discussion about this middle of the road thing in contrast to our increasingly polarized atmosphere in Washington DC.  We began to ask whether it is wise, safe, or even possible to stay in the middle and hope to have any influence-- or even to survive.

your question is a really good one, and probably deserves a better answer than I know to give! if I’d been in charge of the sandbox down in Washington the other week, I’d’ve sent them all to bed without dessert!! I’d have sent them without DINNER! and I’d defer, gladly! it seems to me that it’s because of the chasm left by the desertion of good sense, that hideous forms of extremism are able to survive and thrive. By the time a guy like john bohner comes to his senses and sees what his political stumping, instead of leading, is doing to both sides, and begins to actually lead…it’s way too late…the game’s been thrown and the inmates have taken the asylum!

unfortunately, and, to me, sadly, the one guy we’d counted on NOT to be in the middle of the road, in so many important issues, has been the worst one of all…and understand this, he’s been MY GUY!! obama has tried so very hard to walk the middle ground he’s almost run over HIMSELF!!

several weeks ago, bebe netenyahu was here, and for the first time in many, many years was allowed to leave with a bad taste in his mouth…obama wants to be israel’s friend, but he wants to be a friend of Palestine as well, it seems, and for whatever reason—I don’t know the reason, maybe someone could tell me—he doesn’t  understand that you cannot be friends with muslim terrorists…they don’t wish your friendship, or even your existence…get over it…yes, yes, yes, there are wonderful muslims, I’m sure, all over the world—and until they are willing to stand up and deal with their terrorist brethren, themselves, they must deal with the stigma of being identified among them…this is not MY problem, it is THEIR problem…

so, now, the “wondering” we extend to those on this train with us—is it even possible, today—in today’s more contentious environment—to stay in the middle of the road, or anywhere nearby it? or has “middle of the road” just, in fact, become a dirty phrase, and we who try to go there, “wusses” or “weenies!”

ethel and I took, finally, a few minutes to define our terms…we define middle of the road thusly:

  • it must include the notion of THINKING; using one’s head
  • politically, there must be no democrats, republicans, libertarians, or any other side-taking; only individuals.
  • all extremes on any or every side must be erased or ignored.
  • it must acknowledge that the goal is truth (and justice, and maybe even the American Way!)  whatever that or they may be
  • it must acknowledge all who come to speak…and there must be listening to all comers, and a consideration of all ideas.
“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.”
 Margaret Thatcher

  So what do you think? Is it worth it? Or not? Come talk!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

well, I’ve been here, stressing over a word I—along with most of my countrymen, I’ll wager—have taken for granted for the past, forever…”freedom.” what is “freedom?” try it, it’s not as easy as first it seems, I’m telling you! I asked bruce (the husband) to define it, and he said, “well, if I had REAL FREEDOM, then I wouldn’t have to stop for stop signs or lights (we were in the car driving, at that moment) so there’s no such thing as total freedom.” One thing I realized, listening to him, was that most people seem to identify it by its negatives…no, you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre!
So then we still need a definition—what is it, and where does it end? I’ve been told that my freedom ends at the tip of your nose. What do you think? I think that saying came from the days when many people smoked, but it’s true today as well…as long as you don’t hurt me, you’re pretty well free to do as you please—in this country…which means we're not free to choose whether or not to stop at lights and stop signs. sorry, bruce!
Walt and I saw a story on TV about a town in the  south called Liberty, run by the KKK well that should’ve been a clue—liberty? who do you think the country is run by? the people?  usually, places with pretty names like “the people’s republic” and the “democratic people’s whatever…”  are mighty poetic on the outside, and potentially rotting at the center.…Well, I was wondering, liberty for whom? It made me think about how often we define certain words of this kind according to our viewpoints, while we turn around and take away the freedom of those who disagree with us.  oh, well! that’s only human…part of believing what WE think is, de facto, right—otherwise, why would we believe it? where we get messed up is in having no patience for anyone else’s beliefs…which goes back to how we’re raised. I don’t think jesus ever taught that…I’m thinking about the Christians who want—even expect—the freedom to put the Bible in school libraries, and they talk as if prohibiting it would be evidence of the moral death of our country…But meanwhile, they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep out the Book of Mormon!
this topic has so many little rivers and lakes to explore...…the only freedom I personally could come up with that everyone, anyone, anywhere may have is the freedom to “THINK.” even in prison, you may lie in a meadow of heather by a beautiful mountain stream, and dream and dream...nobody can stop you…that’s POWER!
but I’ve left until the end, a powerful song from the 70s musical SHENANDOAH—which gives us a few things to think about before writing our own thoughts…please read and then join the polylogue:
“Freedom”  from the musical Shenandoah 1975
Music by Gary Geld
Lyrics by Peter Udell

Freedom ain't a state like Maine or Virginia
Freedom ain't across some county line
Freedom is a flame that burns within ya
Freedom's in the state of mind

(Chorus) Freedom, freedom,  Freedom, freedom
Freedom is a flame that burns within ya
Freedom's in the state of mind

Freedom ain't a boat that's leaving without ya
Freedom ain't a place ya float to find
Freedom's in the how ya think about ya
Freedom's in the state of mind

(Chorus) You can't get to freedom by riding on a train
The only way to freedom is right on through your brain

Freedom is a notion sweeping the nation
Freedom is the right of all mankind
Freedom is a body's imagination
Freedom is a state of mind
Freedom, freedom   Freedom, freedom
Freedom is a notion sweeping the nation
Freedom is a body's imagination
Freedom is a full-time occupation
Freedom's in the state of mind

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I imagine that last week, our United States must have been in awfully good shape, because our congress and the media, seemed to have nothing better to talk about than Anthony Weiner’s problems. I had no idea who Weiner was and no particular interest, but Ellen seemed outraged by the attacks—on HIM!,   it was SO UNFAIR!! almost all the media was in total frenzy, and I guess I wouldn’t shut up about it, actually-- and so it caught my (cough, cough) attention and interest, like she had a choice!!!

My difficulty with this whole weiner thing is that when I try to think about it, I get so mad, I’m not sure I think very clearly. I will say clearly, and up front: anthony weiner did wrong—he spent time online with several women, not his wife, talking in “inappropriate” ways—as we’ve come to call it in the polite world of political correctness…he also sent pictures, some of which were very compromising…though most of those were more smoke than fire (I saw a few of them.)
but did what he do rise to the level of a loss of career, and sending him home to Brooklyn in disgrace? sorry, I just don’t think so…unless we’re to discover that it’s a pattern of behavior, and another shoe is yet to drop.
i’m thinking, too, there’s a fairness issue…
 Alright, well, consider that I saw a headline this morning that said he has a long past history of being a playboy. That sounds like a pattern of behavior to me. I’ve not heard that accusation before; anywhere…I’m a little wary of that one… I seem to recall that Clinton made it to the end of his second term with Monica Lewinsky under his desk, not on his computer monitor. Ted Kennedy survived for how many years in congress while he went on not just being flirtatious, but being truly and openly adulterous!  Yikes! 
Yeah, I remember back in “the day,” one never knew when ted kennedy's name would pop up again—the affairs with women he barely tried to hide—to the extent that joan lost herself in a bottle; and then he capped it all off with the killing of mary jo kopechne…only a short time after that he decided he'd run for president, and finally-- because of mary jo, I think, the public  called a halt to his upward mobility, but NOT TO HIS SENATE AMBITIONS…and from then, 1973 until 2010 when kennedy died he made himself into a great senator, and, unbelievably, a well-loved figure. this is what I mean by “fairness.” Weiner is being skewered…kennedy killed a girl and became an elder statesmen. nobody had the guts to tell him to go home!
So what is it that Weiner has done to put him beyond the arms of grace? These other guys make Weiner’s “whatever it was” seem almost childish..
Go to the internet and get inundated—both sides of the aisle—going back years and years; congressmen in both houses, enjoying the wages of their power, it would appear…a short list: Dems-- Former Rep. Mel Reynolds, convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault with a 16-year-old. Bill Clinton pardoned him before leaving office; Former Rep. Gerry Studds, censured for sexual relationship with underage male page in 1983. voters returned him to office for six more terms.  Current Rep. Barney Frank hired a male prostitute who ran a prostitution service from Frank’s residence in the 1980s. Only two Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to censure him in 1990. Republicans--Sen. David Vitter, caught up in a Washington escort service scandal, acknowledged his misbehavior and went on to win reelection in 2010;  even larry craig, trolling for sex in public bathrooms—was simply admonished by the senate ethics committee, but finished his term… public bathrooms!!  
on top of these sits the john ensign affair—that started out as an office fling, and grew into an wide ranging ethics scandal, involving several senators, which  threatened to cut short many congressional careers…and spanned several years!
 anthony weiner has been fighting his war for just over a week, and hasn’t met even one of the ladies he’s accused of perverting!! anonymous stupid talk on the net, mostly! it’s nuts! to me, anyway…even the pictures are basically fruit of the loom ads! for pity sakes!!
  Methinks if we could unearth the records, we'd find it was a rare congressman or even president, way back to Washington, who could present himself with pure hands. I think often of my husband’s uncle who held some sort of state office, way back when. His family claims he used to say that if you’re not crooked when you go into politics, you will be when you come out.  But, I have to agree with what you say, here. This much makes no sense-- as common as sexual misbehavior is among these men, I don’t see how Weiner managed to get into so much trouble.
we’re told the unforgiveable problem with weiner is not what he did, but that he lied—so let’s talk about Donald rumsfield and bush the younger, and their “weapons of mass destruction.” what IS the body count currently…and do you really want to put Anthony weiner’s stupid whatever it is/was up against it, or any of the above. further more, I heard someone say in the last day or so, “well, he (weiner) himself, said his actions were inappropriate. therefore he should resign” and you know what I heard, when this person spoke? what I heard was, if Anthony had just continued to lie, he’d have been way better off!! he skewered himself by telling the truth…ain’t that a kick in the head!!?
at the same time, I’m told weiner is not the most popular guy in the house. he’s ambitious, and a firebrand…but, I’ve watched this guy for a few years now, and here’s something you can’t say about a lot of politicians—he’s honest!  yes, he lied about this…he got his hand caught in the cookie jar, and tried to avoid the consequences…there’s something very normal about that, too. anyway, he’s smart, he’s young enough to be idealistic, and he gets the job done, apparently…a poll was conducted in his district. the results: STAY %56   RESIGN:  %32  UNDECIDED: %12. almost 2/3rds of HIS people…support him, and want him to stay and fight it out! being disliked, can be a badge of honor, depending on whose wearing it and why
Oh boy!  Show me a man or woman anywhere in the public eye who does wrong and then doesn't lie to cover it up.  I think about Nixon and Agnew, Clinton and Kenneth Lay and even Ted Haggard, along with a few closer to home in churches where I've been.  Church leaders are every bit as prone as politicians when it comes to lying.
 I think this does make my point for me—christian or non—first they lie. our most primitive instinct is to try to survive…and that’s one way we do it…it doesn’t make us bad…it makes us normal. and weiner actually caved in much earlier than most…as I said, it seems to be part of the reason he’s being attacked. Charlie rangel has managed to lie and cheat his own constituents for years and years and years, and absolutely refused to quit, even after being censured…
Okay, so in the end,  What do we do about it?  For years I've heard it asked in evangelical circles, even asked it myself on occasion, that if a man is immoral in his gut, how can we trust him to do right and act wisely in official office?  Especially if he is dishonest enough to lie about it.  And what would happen to the size of our congress if we deleted all the men who have cheated on their wives and lied about it? My husband and I saw a bumper sticker the other night that poses one answer: 
Impeach Everybody
at the same time, Weiner along with a few others in congress,  is apparently still young enough to put idealism ahead of compromise, and so some of his colleagues might wish him gone. He will think nothing of making wave after wave after wave, and letting the chips fall where they fall!
So, what do you think? How do you feel about Weiner’s lie? And should he have just left it his little secret? Knowing that his peccadilloes were carried on anonymously and that he never actually met any of the women he spoke to, does that make a difference to you? Should he resign? And what about that 56% of his constituents that support him? Do they count for anything? Finally, when you go to vote for a public servant, how important is his moral character in helping you to make your decision? We would love to hear anything you want to share, pro or con…  E&e

Monday, May 23, 2011

I’m sure it's escaped nobody’s notice that on saturday, may 21, the clock struck 6 p.m., and a funny thing happened…NOTHING…
the end of the world did not happen on saturday, as promised--although the people of Joplin, Missouri may disagree, as they try to clean up from the terrible tornadoes that devastated them yesterday—
I heard about it on the news, didn’t think much about it, and sure enough, didn’t need to…but:
"in new york, retired transportation agency worker robert fitzpatrick was inspired by camping's message to spend over $140,000 of his savings on subway posters and outdoor advertisements warning of the may 21 judgment day. and...
"in recent weeks, dozens of camping's followers had crossed the united states in recreational vehicles emblazoned with the may 21 warning. Volunteers also handed out pamphlets as far away as the philippines, telling people god had left clear signs the world was coming to an end." (reuters)
what i’m wondering—ethel, too, is what your experience of this day has been. did you believe it? what do you think about people like Harold camping, who play to people’s emotions and beliefs? why do they do it? what did you do to prepare for may 21st? did you at least
pack a  lunch? please, let us hear from you...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

brian Williams, on nbc, said, “this is one of those moments you’ll remember where you were when you heard the news…”
I had just turned on my staple, msnbc, and saw the words that always rev up my heart: breaking news. david gregory…uh oh, they only trot him out for the important stuff, who died?!  hey, look, I lived through martin and bobby, jack and Malcolm x…I even watched my  hero, the gipper, Reagan get shot… so, those words are gut punches to me. I heard david say, “we’re just waiting for confirmation now…” for WHAT, FOR WHAT???” “oh, it’s just come in, and it’s official…osama bin laden is dead!”
We were watching "60 Minutes."  They interrupted us too, but I didn't associate it with a death until they outright said it, "Osama Bin Laden is dead." well, you didn’t grow up a tv child, poor thing…a certain sound that presages “special report”, and/or “breaking news  means something terrible has happened, especially if my soap opera is broken into…that special music says: BRACE YOURSELF!!
for just a few seconds, I think I stopped breathing.
Is that what happened to me?  I know I was stunned-- relieved that the threat of the terrorist was over. But I felt a heaviness, a sadness, a not-too-sure-how-to-feel feeling,  Yikes! Where are we now?  It's like I've always felt about the big bad dictators of the world-- Idi Amin,  Saddam Hussein, Mugabe...  Why doesn't God take them out?  But if He doesn't do it,  is it right for us to do it?  I don’t recall any sadness. I was by myself, and I do remember giddiness and exclaiming out loud which I don’t do when I’m alone, something like “HAH!!!”that must’ve been the totally honest reaction; the one not colored by ‘what should I be feeling?” or ‘does god have a horse in this race? I don’t want him judging me for any horrendous judgments I may make in a weakened state! I’ve wondered, too, where god is in the matter of the idi amin’s and stalin’s and hussein’s, et. al. so often you’ve told me that god has the big picture and he has his reasons; we don’t actually need to understand what they are, we just need to accept them and recognize that god wants the best for us…to me this is a way big stretch, but I accept that YOU accept it, and the fact that you truly do, allows me to understand the concept of faith—you’d need it in spades to understand all that. at the same time you ask “if [God] doesn’t take [the evil dictators] out, does that make it right for us to do it? maybe, it does. you and I have often discussed that when god can’t make the rescue, he’ll often send a helicopter or rowboat: no? ‘course, I don’t think I’ve yet been the avenging helicopter…but whatever it takes, I guess!!
but, like you, I wasn’t sure what my reaction was supposed to be…would god get mad at me if I did what my 2nd inclination was…when the Phillies won the series,FINALLY—the poor phils who in my growing up won precious little, but I loved them just the same—and when that last pitch was thrown, my body, of its own volition, came flying off the sofa to the floor and my arms flew out in supplication…I believe there was a shouted, and rather loud ‘YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS’  that filled the house, and perhaps the neighborhood. that, sort of, was my sense of things here, way down inside, AND YET…and yet…what would god think of my dancing on someone’s grave, no matter the circumstances?

I think among the most important lines in that article were these

“in jewish law we celebrate the ability to distinguish between light and darkness. In life we must know what is good and what is evil. Yes, we are commanded to remember that there is evil in the world, and not only are we allowed to celebrate when it is destroyed, we must.”

bin laden teaches us this most important lesson, or at least reminds us, most clearly of its importance…it is very cleansing…and, now, of course, it’s nice to know that god approves…

how ‘bout if it were hitler? would I be weighing and measuring? does god weigh all lives just the same, at least in death? I wonder…I mean to say, once the guy’s down with a bullet in his brain, he’s kind of neutralized, isn’t he? likewise, hitler with a bullet similarly placed, is just as satisfactorily dead…and then he’s not really “HITLER” anymore, is he?,  just “hitler.” 
Interesting way to look at it.

actually I guess that what survives the killing is the mystique, and that’s a little harder to kill…you can’t just kill it; you must decimate it and make it feel as though if it tries to grow a new brain, you’ll kill that, forthwith, and just as brutally…so, we must learn a whole new way to be in order to deal with this new reality of war—i.e., war on our turf. as long as it could be on the other guy’s  turf, we could be philosophical and grown up about it….now they’ve gone and brought the war to us, and we have to learn to live with this reality…
I also saw that article I told you about, where the left-leaning Europeans were more than annoyed at our celebrations at ground zero.  But I noted that the reactons at those commemorations were mixed. There was the jubilant crowd, but also the silent crowd that came and stood and looked and said nothing. Reminded me of the time you took me there to visit about a year after the 9/11 event.  A lot of slow moving around, but almost  no sound at all.  It was eerie. it was extremely weird, and moving…and still, so many tears, and what could one say. a year had past, and the vast quarry was still gaping and filled with workmen, as silent as the onlookers. THERE was the heaviness…still too much sadness to even speak, only to move kind of woodenly around the several block chain link fence protecting the hole from tumbling onlookers, and providing a wall for hanging “missing persons” posters for people that some were actually still looking for—people who’d died in the world trade center; and for flowers and commemorations to brothers and sisters and parents and children whose family had given up looking…oh, man!  But then, Bin Laden was still out there running loose. We had nothing to rejoice about.  And now, do we have a reason to rejoice yet?  Or should we remain silent still?  all of what I’ve just written about ground zero was bin laden’s gift to us…so, you answer your question…should we remain silent? or may we be forgiven for something a little more—I don’t know, more obvious? what do you think?

 it made me do some thinking and I came to realize, you know, that in this war business, we’re newbies, and probably still very naive. think of how young we are as a country, altogether—we have fought amongst ourselves, in the civil war…but, in reality, compared to many of the other nations, we know nothing—we didn’t live through the blitz in London, or the bombings in Dresden, or the rape of Nanking—there are probably an untold number of “growth experiences” that we can thank god for not experiencing.
so now, as a “war novice” what’s my attitude supposed to be? when we cut the head off the enemy snake…am I allowed to gloat a little? or cheer? or would a simple thank god be more appreciated? I don’t know, I sort of don’t feel like a grown up, right now…I want, really, to dance and sing and celebrate…but, just not look like I’m doing those things…so maybe I’ll do them inside and keep a sober face…that might be the ticket, as long as god doesn’t ask too many questions…
Your honesty and openness here are really impressive.  I think whenever one of the Ten Commandments is so violently violated, it should make us sober.  Of course, that's why we were so upset with Bin Laden--he had violated the "thou shalt not kill" commandment repeatedly. well, I can’t quite look at it that way. I can’t measure him by my rules.  his rules incorporate 72 virgins, not 10 commandments. whether muslims follow a  golden rule, I don’t know, and I confess to a woeful ignorance in the matter of the quran. however, the important point, in my mind is that you can’t get mad at a dog for barking, or a cow for mooing. it’s unlikely that bin laden would religiously know any commandments…although, I’d think there’d be a constraint against taking lives in most common religions. and while killing bin laden, likewise, might be thought to violate our commandments, I’m guessing there’s something that covers it, and ends with “thank you, god!”  It was like a way of life for bin Laden. .  We've just begun to think this through and I'm not sure we'll ever find answers that will satisfy us all.  You and I were not responsible for the decision to blow him into eternity. Nor do we have a duty to decide how right that action was--or how wrong.  Or do we?  Is this another place where we need to speak up and be heard?  If so, what shall we say?  if I get to speak up here, I just have one word, since I’ve worked the rest of them out within these paragraphs: YIPPEE!!

Monday, April 04, 2011

we were having a bit of a “conversation” in the car this morning that we’d love to have you add your two cents to…in the news today and yesterday is all this stuff about that pastor, publicity hound,  here in florida--terry jones—and how he burned some Qurans (to what end?) and wound up getting 24 people killed over in Afghanistan—including 7 united nations workers…
my argument, in agreement with something I heard on tv, and what I think is common sense, is stop giving the guy media attention and maybe he’ll go away!! he’s looking for attention!! further more, it’s high time somebody in the Christian world gets angry enough to speak out when these atrocities occur: when the terry joneses pop up—crying “look at me, look at me!”; when so called Christian cult groups picket outside military funerals applauding the death of gay soldiers who “are only getting what they deserve;” when people like George tiller are gunned down in cold blood, without the most basic research being done into what their actual function is, before the judge, jury and executioner, attack to kill. the silence of the body of Christ tells the world that it approves of these horrendous acts perpetrated in its name, when, most likely, that’s hardly true…but think a minute….how do most of us react to muslims who never speak out when horrors are committed by muslim terrorists…do we not assume, then, that quiet muslims agree with the atrocities?
It occurs to me that precisely what you think the media should be doing is what we—Christianity—is attempting--ignoring these fringe characters and charlatans and hoping they will go away.  Interestingly enough, when we have a cause, we are not shy to stand up and shout our opinions, to try to change the laws of the land to reflect our morality, to turn one another into a panic over the “appalling state of our decadent nation.”  We are so good at creating an atmosphere of panic, and perhaps Terry Jones and his companions are simply reflecting our attitudes, applying our techniques in places where they do not fit. 

Mostly I'm furious with this Terry Jones guy who gives expression to a judgmental violent response to Islam and dares to call it Christian.  These misdirected crusaders whom our leaders seem to ignore do not represent anything that the Jesus of the Bible ever did or said.

Okay, now--your turn, what do you think about all of this?  No fisticuffs, but everything else is fair game!! please join in: