Monday, October 30, 2006

Old Friends and a Great Time

Last week I attended a conference at one of New York City's most famous churches, The Riverside Church for their Fosdick Convocation. Named after its founding pastor, Henry Emerson Fosdick, the conference features the nations leading preachers, social justice advocates, and a few prophets thrown in for good measure.

And besides the great lectures and meetings, I ran into many colleagues and friends from seminary. I enjoyed sitting with them as we learned together ways in which to make our faith a contemporary presence in modern social and political settings. We also prayed and worshipped together. And we ate together too!

All in all, I had a wonderful week of enrichment, getting reacquainted with old friends, and well as being inspired by the Good News.

I've Been Away

Sorry for the no posts of the last week, I've been away at a conference in NYC. I am back now and ready to put something on here. Unfortunately at this very second, I don't know what that should be. ;)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Soldier's Lament

After Pat's Birthday

By Kevin Tillman

Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

I found this at You can read the story and the responses to this story by going here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Running with Scissors

Here is the trailer to the movie based on Augusten Burrough's book, Running with Scissors. And, it looks great!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Balancing and Doing What You Gotta Do

I found these pics over at this site and after you see these pics, check others out over there. There are some amazing feats of logistic balance at work here.

Not Very Patriotic but Understandable

Here is a post from a Iraq war veteran about the Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome he's facing and how he's been coping with it since his return to America.

An Online Game You Simply Must Play

Okay, so that was a little strongly worded title. Still, the online game is fun to play and is said to be used by students at the Air Force Academy (but who knows, right?).

Go here to play the game. The object of the game is to keep the red square from touching the blue squares that begin to come at you, the moment you click and hold your left mouse button over the red square.

This Explains Everything

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wal-Mart is at it again

This time the employees are taking matters into their own hands. It seems that Wal-Mart is cutting hours from 40 to 32 a week, using a computer to decide when they'll work, and then forcing part-time workers to be on call 24 hours a day, even if they are not scheduled to work. It is very inhuman and the article is worth the read.

Go here to read it.

The Addictive Toll of Gaming

I found a post that talks about the addiction to gaming, the online world where you become particular characters and play against or with other ones. It is sort of like Dungeons and Dragons, the board game version of yesteryear (I am sure people still play it but I haven't heard anyone ever mention it in years).

The post I am linking you to is from the experience of one former player who "got out" while he could. This is one incredible story of the power of addiction. It could easily sound like the story of someone addicted to crack or gambling. But it is also easy to see what such online games are such a pull for those looking for an escape or an identity away from the one they foster in real life- in the World of Warcraft, you can become the superhero and wonderful person that you cannot be in real life.

Here is the post.

Monday, October 16, 2006

One Man's Stonehenge

Here is an interesting video how one man is trying (and succeeding) in building his very own Stonehenge and proving how it can be done without using modern tools.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jon Stewart's Crisis in the Nation's Pants

Jon Steward is sooooooooooo hilarious. Sure, the behavior of Mark Foley isn't a laughing matter but the circus that has arisen may very well be. Hear Stewart's take on the crazed craziness on the continued aftermath and the political 'he said, she said' finger pointing:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gay Animal Exhibit Angers Conservative Christians

This post comes in from, a news source dedicated to the lgbt community. It makes you wonder if these same conservative Christians also block out the National Geographic channel when it's mating season. (grin)

(Oslo) Oslo's internationally acclaimed Natural History Museum is being assailed by Norwegian church groups over an exhibit called "Against Nature" which shows same-sex animal pairs.

The exhibit documents homosexuality among penguins, parrots, giraffes, whales and other animals and insects. A translation from Norwegian into English of a statement at the exhibit says

"We may have opinions on a lot of things, but one thing is clear — homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature."

The exhibit opened Thursday features a photograph that attracted considerable attention of two sexually aroused whales rubbing together. Another shows two male giraffe's engaged in sex.

"The sexual urge is strong in all animals. … It's a part of life, it's fun to have sex," exhibit organizer Geir Soeli told the Reuters news agency.

But conservative Christian groups are accusing the museum of displaying pornography. One evangelical pastor said museum directors should burn in hell.

The exhibit was partially funded by the government and church groups are demanding an investigation into how the grant was made.

Here is the link to the story.

It's a Crying Shame

For many of us raised in Oklahoma and who have now left there, we often come to the realization that there were some things that we took way too seriously. Football, for example, is one such thing. Now mind you, I still have friends and family in Oklahoma who continue to take it 'way too seriously' but then, there are times when it is necessary to do so.

Whenever Oklahoma plays Texas is one such necessary time. Being taught from a young age to value such confrontations, it isn't difficult to understand how easily it is for our emotions to get carried away and we collapse in a fit of utter hopelessness at the mere idea of Oklahoma losing to Texas. So you can sympathize with this kid when it actually happened. If you've actually seen the video of this kid crying his heart out, it's enough to affect you even more.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Barney Frank on LGBT History

Barney Frank, the representive democrat from Massachusettes, writes an eloquent article about the gains, struggles, and challenges of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks. He recounts our struggles, while also reminding us of our victories. It is a nice article that begins with an insightful quote from George Orwell.

"While serving as an ambulance driver during the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell was shot in the neck. When people congratulated him on his good luck at having recovered from this, he very sensibly replied that he believed that people who had never been shot in the neck in the first place were even luckier than he. "

That quote sets up Frank as he explains that one of our greatest challenges is getting folks who have no idea what our discrimination is like to actually understand why we LGBT folks need laws to protect us.

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Unmitigated Chaos?!

Here are words of caution if I've ever heard them:

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a member ofSaddam Hussein's defense team, predicted on Thursday that a bloodbath would follow should an Iraqi court trying the former president have him executed.

At a news conference, Clark said he feared that should Saddam and the others be hanged, "catastrophic violence" would follow that would lead to "the end of civilization as we know it in the birthplace of civilization, Mesopotamia. Total, unmitigated chaos."

Everyone knows Clark has been totally against the war in Iraq for quite sometime. Follow this link for that story.

And, seeing how he is representing Saddam at trial, one cannot help but ask if his concern is his own hype or based on a very real threat. I don't know the answer but his words are strong.

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Trouble with Sex

A friend of mine's mother is a wonderfully gift writer. She has often written just the right thing in just the right way. I am jealous of people who are very articulate and at the same time am fortunate to have a blog where I can put their words out there for all you to read.

Here is an email from this mighty fine woman who sums up the Mark Foley scandal and how many Republicans are responding to it. She sent it to her kids. I am copying and pasting the email verbatim.


Hi All,

It's just too good. The anti-sex Republicans are bringing themselves down over the obscenity of one of their members. Not the obscenity of allowing the US to torture, not the obscenity of thousands of Iraqis killed every week, not the obscenity of wire-tapping without a warrant, not the obscenity of a war with no purpose or end, not the obscenity of lying, lying, lying.

No, it's sex that gets the Republicans juices going every time and it's sex that will bring them down. Don't tell me there isn't some sort of divine retribution, if not divine, then just perfect:

"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2)

Have a great day.

Love, Mom

Foley and the Results of a Don't Ask, Don't Tell Environment

Here is a brilliant article about the Foley scandal from the Boston Globe:

"Being in the closet is hard to pull off without help, and for years Foley was eagerly abetted by his Republican brethren, whose willful blindness is at the heart of the current tragedy. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, majority leader John Boehner, and others in the House leadership are still under the impression that the closet, like Tinkerbell, will continue to live as long as we all believe. And believe, they do -- against all the evidence.

But the number of people who believe in the closet is declining day by day and generation by generation. Hastert and the rest of his cronies are their own victims. The political turmoil they caused for themselves is only just."

You can read the whole article here.

Living in an environment of Don't Ask, Don't Tell sets up situations for moral failures for a variety of reasons. Reasons that we're going to be reading about in the days ahead. One reason that I believe is important is that when you have such an ideology of secrecy, you do not have a situation of accountability. If folks are allowed to be secretive, then they open themselves up to trouble in a way that can only bring disasterous consequences.

With Foley, we see an example where some people have little accountability when it comes to how they engage themselves in their professional lives regardless of their sexual orientation. While most open-minded folks are trying to let others do as they see fit, we forget that everyone needs some form of accountability. I guess it's like the old addage, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Or, it might be like my new addage, "Power makes you think you can get away with anything."

In the White House, there is a lot of power and a lot of powerful people. In an environment with so much wattage going on, I makes me wonder if Foley was allowed to continue being pervy with all those kids because there are others who are doing similar immoral things. What if there are Senators and Congresspersons who are stealing, lying, cheating, and having sex with staffers, young and old? What if there is a whole collapse of morality in the White House and what we see with Foley is only one part of a much larger whole. That might explain why so many people knew what Foley was up to and did nothing. Heck, to condemn him would in effect, be condemning themselves- the pot can't call the kettle black, right?

What Foley has done highlights the reality that everyone needs accountability and allowing anyone to do as they please only creates opportunities for trouble. We had better set up a system whereby no one is unaccountable or we're going to see situations appear that pale in comparison to Foley's immorality.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ultimate iPod Accessory

Yeah, I know, I am such the geek having bought an iPod. They really are amazing mp3 players. I had to buy one (notice the imperative "had") after my former mp3 player bit the dust. It was only a 5 gigabyte player and the battery that came with it just couldn't keep up with me. The battery in it finally went Kapoot.

The newer iPod, the 30 gigabyte video player was the cheapest new iPod they were selling and that is what I bought. It has been wonderful and I've had hardly no problems in the 8 or 9 months that I've had it.

Well, by hardly I mean, that I haven't had any problems with the unit, per say (heh heh.. I said, "unit"), but I am trapped in the vortex of having to acquire all the fancy smancy accessories that you can purchase with it. So far, I have bought:

* an arm band iPod holder to use at the gym. Honestly, this has been the best investment (note the imperative "investment") so far because now I can stay on the treadmill or that other thing I can't remember the name of where you think you're cross country skiing while having a heart attack.

* an iHome player that I have at work that lets me slide my iPod into the player to play my songs. It doesn't have a remote control though; that was something I should have thought about but didn't.

* iPod sleeves (both the rubber and of the sock variety) that I thought would be handy but aren't because you have to take it out of either the silly rubber sleeves to "dock it" into any iPod player. And the sock versions are too slippery and the iPod easily falls out of one's hand.

* a really cool iPod carrying case (its almost like the one in this link, except that it's brown with a white stripe down the middle) that I use when I go into New York City. Nowadays, you have to hide your iPod when you're on the subway lest some freak tries to steal it from you as they dart from the train car.

* an iPod power adapter when you're away from home and need to recharge the iPod internal battery.

* iPod splitter cables that connect my iPod to my Bose Wave Radio. I found this to be a cheaper option that buying another iHome player for my living room.

See, this is nuts and addictive.

Well, now I have found the ultimate accessory for any iPod enthusiast. Unfortunately, I don't see myself purchasing it (honestly mom, I won't buy it!). Still, I found it to be both hilarious and kind of cool at the same time.

Fluff vs. Deep Stuff

Bad rhyming aside, I am posting more and more over on my church's weblog than I am posting here. And what I end up putting here tends to be a bit more fluff than deeper and serious stuff. Be sure to check out my church's blog if you want more meat to eat. (Okay, I'll stop the bad rhyming now.)

My church's blog.