“Feed the Tree”

“Feed the Tree” by Belly (early 1990’s). This was one of the songs on my “The Sundays” Pandora.com “station.” I remember vividly when I was doing my master’s work at Kent and advising the All Campus Programming Board. Memories induces by music.! What fun!
“Take your hat off when you’re talkin’ to me and be there when I feed the tree…”

Why? Really, logically, why?

This passionate plea by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s “Countdown” for explanation of why people voted for Proposition 8 in California and against gay-marriage. Watch the video!

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?
I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.
How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

A solution, cure, cause for hope?

It was reported to day that a bone marrow transplant seems to have cured an decade-long AIDS patient.

BERLIN – An American man who suffered from AIDS appears to have been cured of the disease 20 months after receiving a targeted bone marrow transplant normally used to fight leukemia, his doctors said Wednesday.
While researchers — and the doctors themselves — caution that the case might be no more than a fluke, others say it may inspire a greater interest in gene therapy to fight the disease that claims 2 million lives each year. The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.
As Huetter — who is a hematologist, not an HIV specialist — prepared to treat the patient’s leukemia with a bone marrow transplant, he recalled that some people carry a genetic mutation that seems to make them resistant to HIV infection. If the mutation, called Delta 32, is inherited from both parents, it prevents HIV from attaching itself to cells by blocking CCR5, a receptor that acts as a kind of gateway.
Roughly one in 1,000 Europeans and Americans have inherited the mutation from both parents…
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases in the U.S., said the procedure was too costly and too dangerous to employ as a firstline cure. But he said it could inspire researchers to pursue gene therapy as a means to block or suppress HIV.

Another screed…

First of all, now President-to-be Obama is under attack because he has supposedly replaced the “pastor to presidents with a gay bishop.” It seems Obama met a few times with Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to talk about what it was like to be the “first one.”
OneNewsNow.org, a propaganda “news” organ of the American Family Association (a politicized Religious Right organization), ran with the meetings and have spun them to indicate that God-fearing Americans should be ready for a lot of “anti-Christian” stuff from the Obama administration. That is their logic – the president-to-be meets with a gay bishop to see what it is like to be a controversial first person (gay, black) in a prominent position.

Peter Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes Obama’s consultations with Robinson show the true tenor of his upcoming administration.
“It looks like Billy Graham has been replaced by a gay bishop. We’re moving to, perhaps, our first anti-Christian president; it’s beyond post-Christian. Gene Robinson advocates homosexuality as part of the Christian experience,” he explains. “Now Bible-believing Christians cannot accept that. Homosexual practice is sinful, as taught by the scriptures. This man [Obama] pretends to be faithful to Christianity, even as he works very hard to undermine it.”

Of course, Obama has not consulted with Robinson for pastoral advise, presumably, but to simply talk about the reality he may face as a “first one.” And, as should be noted, Billy Graham has not been a regularly “pastor to presidents” for a while now due to his age.
These people as self-professed Christians are supposed to practice honesty, integrity, and forthrightness, but this kind of “logic” or argument seems to suggest that they really aren’t interested in such things when it comes to political power and influence. Make your argument – that’s fine, but do it in a way that is actually Christian and not simply parrots of our current acidic, polarized, winner-take-all-at-any-expense political culture.
They sully the name of “Christian” and defame the cause of Christ in this nation.
These groups will lambaste and defame this newcoming president to the nth degree because he does not support their very sectarian and narrow understanding of what it means to be a Christian, the meaning of Scripture, and what God is doing among His people. They will attempt to poison people’s perceptions of this administration so that come the next election all the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian voters (and hopefully all conservative voters, too) will in no way support the new administration or any other administration that is not in line with their political and economic aspirations.
As much as I really don’t want to make this accusation, they really are living up to the worst of the public’s perception of what “Fundamentalists” do and are all about. Sadly, that will be the impression too many people will then have of Christianity in general, particularly among younger folks who are raised in this kind of caustic and inflammatory environment.
Read some of the statistical analysis of this past election from Barna Research (a group that does a lot of analysis of religious stuff in this country). “Born-Agains” are not the same as “Evangelicals,” and I think that “Evangelicals” will soon need to be re-designated as “Fundamentalists.” How People of Faith Voted in the 2008 Presidential Race


Speaking of birthdays, a friend of mine from Ohio, John Nolan, who has the most amazing ability to send tons of people happy birthday e-mails every year, sent this link along with my “happy birthday.”
Josh Hosler presents (updated weekly) THE #1 SONG ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY
You can find out what were the number one songs on your birthday back to the 1930’s. It’s kind of neat (I just spent way too much money on iTunes buying old tunes). Listening to “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5 right now.

Veterans Day

I watched the last 1/3rd of “Saving Private Ryan” a couple days ago. There can be honor in the endeavor of defending freedom and providing for the safety of others in the face of tyrants and abusers of humankind. It is never preferable, but at times most certainly necessary. The men and women who fight the wars do so at the command of superiors. Most are honorable. Some are not. Whether those who are not honorable continue or not depends on the honorableness of their superiors. Tyrants and abusers of humankind, whether dictators or sergeants, breed new tyrants and abusers from their fellows.
A description of a wise leader may be whether that person is able to discern properly when to send the men and women of the military into combat. Warfare in and of itself comes to no good end. Warfare born of ego or political expediency is an evil that accomplishes nothing good. Yet, there are times when war must be fought. There are times when men and women give their lives in order to save humanity from that which could well destroy civilization. The responsibility of whether a war, a battle, and excursion is of the honorable kind or not falls upon the shoulders of those who have the power to declare such things and send men and women to do their bidding.
We should pray for our leaders that they will be wise and judicious in their use of the military – of placing lives in danger and engaging in activities that will kill people, good and bad. We most definitely need to pray for the men and women who engage in the battle, that as they come to the precarious point where they find that they must take another life, pray that each of their souls may not be so damaged that they will never again be the person God created in innocence.

Preaching up a storm…

They start ’em off early in what I will presume to be a Pentecostal/Charismatic church.

Kids really do pay attention and mimic what goes on around them.
From: Bishop Alan’s Blog and Raspberry Rabbit, who wrote:

Quite obviously a baby who’s been listening to the pastor ranting on a Sunday morning. I suppose that Episcopal babies would be lifting their cups up in the air and inviting Teddy, Dolly and Ducky to come up and have a little bits of their teething biscuit no matter what their denominational affiliation might be.
Children do pay attention.

The Archbishop of Canterbury comments on the U.S. election

From the U.K. Times-Online and Ruth Glendhill’s Articles of Faith:

Regarding the US election, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: ‘It’s been an amazing demonstration of the vitality of the democratic process. A record turnout. And the sense therefore that the issues in the election, the issues about the outgoing American administration, have actually stirred the moral imagination of the United States in ways that people didn’t expect. Given the sort of turnout that we have in British elections it would be quite nice to have an election one of these days that stirred our imagination to that extent.’

(The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams)

God’s will and elections

I can imagine last night there were scores of moms and dads that gathered around their TV-sets to watch the returns. They probably took their kids with them to vote – to show them how important it is that we are involved in decisions of who will govern this nation. Their kids settling in with them, perhaps some popcorn and Pepsi sitting around.
“Watch what God is going to do,” they might have said to their kids. “Watch how God honors the prayers of His people!” And we know, fervent prayers have been raised by scores of people for God of cause John McCain to win the presidency – that God’s will be accomplished, that Christian American will triumph even in the face of not-so-good poll results. Perhaps not their first choice, but he is the best they got.
“Watch as God accomplishes His will, and we know that God’s will is for a faithful man who upholds the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, and America’s place as a shining city upon a hill,” the dad might say. God will honor the prayers of His people who pray against someone like Obama taking the reigns of power, against the godless secularists who are intent on ridding the Public Square of people of faith, against the Socialists who want to take our hard-earned money away from us and give to lazy people or funnel it into big-government, who will sanction sin by ending discrimination against homosexuals. God’s will is plain, because we know the Bible and the words of the Bible are quite easy to understand. Any God-fearing and God-loving Christian knows this!
So, they begin to watch the TV, Fox News, and the returns. It looks good at first. The parents say to their kids, “See! What did we tell you! If John McCain wins it is because God caused him to win!” But a little while later, things begin to change.
One of the kids looks up at his or her father or mother and says, “What’s happening mom/dad? Is God losing?” “No, of course not, son/daughter! God always comes through. Nothing can stand against the will of God. When things begin to look tough, that is when God shines all the stronger,” mom or dad might say. More states fall.
“Dad, McCain isn’t going to win, is he?” “No son, just have faith! When things are the most bleak, that is when God comes through all the more. He does this to show us humans that He is in control and that things like polls and TV commentators cannot thwart His will.” “Watch how God pulls out our victory!”
Then, they call it. Then, McCain gives a concession speech. No lawsuits trying to stop the Democrats from winning. No accusatory language of hanging chads or voter fraud by ACORN. McCain gave such a graceful and dignified speech. If he had acted like this throughout the campaign, perhaps he might have won.
What do the parents tell their children, now? Satan and the secularist thwarted God’s will? Maybe if you’re a good Arminian, but if you’re a good Calvinist… If it was God’s will that McCain win the presidency, what now? Is it God’s will that Obama won? “Isn’t God able to make His will to be done,” asks one of the kids. “Is Satan stronger than God?” “Are we all going to be put in jail because we are Christians? Are they going to make us believe in Darwinism or that homosexuals should be allowed to get married?” the kids might ask. Since, after all, the fear mongering by the politicized Religious Right has been astounding. What do they tell their children? “America” is now lost. American Family Association declared that if McCain loses it will mean the end of “American as we know it.” It will mean that our nation will be so terribly harmed that it will never be able to be corrected. (I have the e-mail sent out by Don Wildmon, chairman of AFA).
I’ve read and heard plenty of fervent prayers to God that go something like, “please, please let John McCain win!” I’ve heard Christians pleading with God to make McCain win. Why is it so hard simply to fervently pray, “Thy will be done!?” Why is it so difficult to not pray for our own agenda to be taken up by God and made real in the world, but rather to humble ourselves and think that what we know and what we believe may not be right – to pray God’s will be done and not our own!
There are a lot of people in America that are very depressed, today. A lot of people who believe that God’s very will was rejected by the country – we shook a fist in the face of God, last night. They are truly afraid that God’s punishment will now descend upon the United States. What they have a very difficult time believing is that the leaders of the politicized Religious Right or that they might have been wrong. Plainly and simply, wrong.
How much better is it to explain to our children that God’s will is not necessarily the implementation of social, political, or economic theory or systems, but in the living of life in humility, in grace, in mercy (which is “strength under control”), in simplicity. That regardless of who won the election, our Christian task is to pray for the man – this man of color, and some day a woman. “God’s will be done,” and I am certainly not smart or experienced enough to know that will in such a way to be able to tell my nieces and nephews which man or woman He wants to be president.
I don’t have kids. And, if I lived in Arkansas whether I am part of a gay couple or a co-habitating straight couple, I am now barred from adopting children. But of course, the good people of Arkansas voted for “God’s will to be done!,” and they know what that will is.
On an other note, Jessy Jackson was so taken with emotion last night while standing on the large field with thousands of other Chicagoans, that for a long time all he seemed to be able to do is hold his finger to his mouth and cry. Oprah Winfrey was there, too – tears in her eyes. I cannot begin to imagine what this is like to so many African Americans. Reading the headlines from around the world this is not just a happening in the lives of Americans – Obama’s teacher from Indonesia, the people of Obama Japan, the people from the village of his father in Kenya, of young people in India, of his step-brother in Africa – A MAN OF COLOR WILL BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE STRONGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. That, is an accomplishment!
Is it God’s will? I don’t know. I have no reason to believe it isn’t. I know of plenty of people who do not share my feelings. We shall see whether he can govern and/or whether others will allow him to govern.

The City #26

The morning after a historic event, riding on the subway to work, dead tired because I was up too late last night. On the subway, an African American woman heading for work, a T-shirt with “Brooklyn” written across it in white letters. Her young daughter sitting next to her, pig-tails, back-pack, all coordinated in pink. An expectant look. Not rich, not poor – I think. Mother quietly reading to daughter from the beginning pages of, “The Dreams of My Father, ” by Barrack Obama. That’s PRESIDENT Obama, to you.