Friday, June 22, 2007


Now, some of you - okay, all of you - who know me at all know that my verbalization waxes and wanes. But usually, it just seems to wax, increase, and crescendo. Depending on who I'm around, I can be quiet (if they're high energy) or loud (often if they're low energy).
But sometimes, my chatter reaches that stratospheric level of what Mom called "motormouthing." It took far into my teens to grasp with self-realization what exactly she meant. I finally developed the knowledge of my own self to be able to stop in the middle and say, hmm, wait, am I motormouthing?
She simply meant that words were pouring forth from her daughter at an unrelenting pace, punctuated possibly by activity or eating, but only as one pauses at a rest stop before continuing the journey. A friend joked recently about building me a red wooden soapbox. My basic
reply to that is that I haven't needed one yet to coax me to talk, it'll happen regardless of
what I'm standing on, be it woolen Mongolian rug that hugs my hardwood floor or sun dappled
back porch that keeps leaning disconcertedly.
I once described a devotional moment involving Psalm 46 like this: "And you know, the verse 'Be still and know that I am God'? Well, it was like God was reminding me, hey you, sit down and shut up for a minute and just remember which one of us is God."
Delight tickles my soul when I am able to use words to instruct or teach others, whether it's
how to "fold in" eggs in a recipe or relating historical facts about John Wesley's family or Lady
Jane Gray's martyrdom.
I also glean joy and satisfaction when my vocal chords lend themselves to someone whose
voice isn't working, or whose words are quiet, misunderstood, or even unspoken. One of the most fascinating communications I've ever witnessed was a large group of deaf people in the foodcourt of the local mall. I noticed vaguely two things: silence on my left, and lots of hand
gestures. It was like having Everybody Loves Raymond on mute. Then I looked closer. Forty,
fifty, sixty people of all ages and races were together for what appeared to be a weekly meeting.
And since the hearing impaired don't have trouble being heard - at least in terms of audio -
they could communicate to someone thirty feet away as long as their vision was intact. I've
never wanted to know sign language so badly. Interestingly enough, I felt like the outsider.
I wanted to know what they were saying, I wanted to reply back.
So in a recent post, I attempted to lend my access to a keyboard, my "soapbox" to the Chinese
brethren who suffer under oppressive political practices. Like the government literally
looking over your shoulder when you pee on a pregnancy test stick to see if they need to
"relieve" you of your burdensome little bundle of would-be joy. If any government official ever tried to attack my uterus, you'd be keeping look-out while I dug a shallow grave in my back
yard for the unsuccessful beaurocrat.
Be that as it may, I recognize that many different opinions exist on exactly how to deal with
the Communists harming their people problem. Some are for attempting to subvert through
slow, gradual capitalism, while others like myself take a more pointed, aggressive approach. Please share your thoughts, whatever they are, on the scrap paper of my blog so that we all
may have our cages rattled.
Today's motormouthing, soapbox sermon is of a fluffier but pressing nature: instead of
cruel regimes, we deal with a domestic thief that has robbed many of your homes.
This September, I will participate in the Memory Walk, a fundraiser to support research into
treatments for Alzheimer's disease. I had a grandfather with dementia. Many of you have had
grandparents, parents, sisters or brothers who have fallen prey to the robber of selfhood.
For almost a year I toiled in the company of women and men who needed daily assistance
remembering where they were, what year it was, and even how old they are. Sometimes
they could still walk but couldn't remember where their room was, what my name is, or
if they wore an outfit yesterday.
Unfortunately, for the sake of physical care, this population frequently finds itself
physically and socially marginalized from the rest of the "real world," as church members
and pastors become busy with worthwhile things only to forget sinners and saints housed
in the halls of nursing homes.
What a joy it is to learn their stories, share common interests, and laugh wholeheartedly
with people so eager to give. My own little nest of senior citizens raised money for a shelter
for women fighting addictions. They hosted a bake and book sale, assembled gift baskets,
and delivered them to the center. All nursing home residents - mostly women - being
useful to other women who found themselves on the outskirts of society.
If you have a moment, I welcome you to my Memory Walk website. Please don't forget
the ones who can't remember.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

of millstones and beatitudes


















Monday, June 18, 2007

Red Lights, Red Carpet, Red Pimps

Since humans have organized ourselves into order, culture and government, there
has been a tension. Might makes right (I'm stronger, you serve me), or revolution
(look who's stronger now), or family (I'm the king's daughter, serve me) or party
(we are all stronger than all of you) all help form constitutions, revolts, crowns and
Enter 2008. Believe it or not, Paris Hilton will soon recede into the background, a
sad wash-up, while the media frenzy flies from the Rockies to the caucus, from West
Coast to Right Wing.
I am not writing about the elections.
Instead, comments are pressingly necessary about a scandal.
Oooh, that's different.
This scandal has more devastating effect than Bill's bimbo ever could have
wrought. Instead of involving two people, it - ahem - involves more.
Make sure your kids aren't looking over your shoulders.
The Republican party is in bed with the nation of China.
Speaking of Bill, he granted his favorite international brothel Favored Nation status, so
it's not just the Elephants that are the Johns, here.
It's so tragic. China still retains so much beauty. Her people are beautiful, her eyes are
beautiful. She has rich cultural history and grants delicacies like tea to appreciative
But China, like the children freed from her factories, has been in chains. The Wall that
was built to keep marauders out now stands as a stark reminder of what it means to
be kept in. She's been imprisoned far too long by dictators making profits of off her
citizens' hard work. The stench of dead communism is floating all the way to Darfur,
to Baghdad, through Iran. Bread ripped from impoverished villagers is being traded
for guns to point at Darfur refugees and coalition troops in Fallujah.
For the global community to support the Olympics scheduled to be held in Beijing next
year is unconscionable and absurd. Any terrors brutalizing Iraqis under Hussein are
matched in equitable ways by the consistent atrocities carried out on China's own
citizens by her own government. Anyone who thinks that supporting the Olympics will
help the common people of that nation doesn't keep up with the news trickling, pouring
and oozing out the Red Zone.
*Child slave labor
*Excruciating poverty in rural areas, where many citizens live
*Government-enforced abortions
*Arrests and imprisonments for years or decades with no trial
*No freedom of worship, speech or assembling (you can't meet together)
*Support of terrorists and genocide
But, after all, there is money to be made. The Olympics are a big draw, with global
viewership in the millions and, Beijing is hoping, the billions. Anyone who opposes the
Iraq war (unjust treatment of innocents, violence, bloodshed) should oppose the support
of the Chinese government. Anyone who supported the Iraq war (freedom from oppression,
dictatorship, and injustice) should oppose the support of the Chinese government.
But, after all, there is money to be made. Foreign tourists have a taste for the exotic,
as the sex trade in all of Asia shows more rapidly by the day. And after all, China's pimps
in Beijing have been very careful to make friends with Washington. More tea, D.C.?
The Red Pimps have been buying U.S. government bonds. Smart of them, diversifying their
portfolio like that.
There is, after all, money to be made.
Before you tune in to this year's big athlete, the opening ceremonies, and the national
anthem playing over the podium, consider that there are no Miranda rights spoken in Chinese.
The Chinese government has been prostituting its children, women and men for far too long.
Who will put out the red lights when the world steps out of its limo and onto the red carpet
of 2008?
Democrats were practically laughed off the stage for suggesting a vote to boycott the 2008 Olympics. I'm no red, white and blue donkey, but I will vote alongside anyone who calls for
an end to frequenting the services that communist pimps serve up so hospitably.
It's time we stop our addiction (ever heard of an embargo against Cuba?) and shine an
uncomfortably bright light into the abuses that reign in the land of the Ming Dynasty.
Write to your senators, representatives, governors, athletes, and anyone else looking to
profit from the lush suites, ad campaigns and media attention.
Saying yes to the 2008 Olympics is handing power to global pimps. Kick out the pimps.
Say no to Red Lights.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Smart Alec

It's been coming. You may have felt the eerie sensation tickling the back of your neck.
Maybe it was a hunch, a gut feeling. It's arrived.
A bunch of smart alec comments all in one posting. Consider it the sarcasm you miss
in live conversation. For the literal minded out there, here's the scoop: real headlines
subtitled with my smart alec remarks. For the college minded out there, think Bitty's
little ode to the Onion.
Christian Reformed Church Removes Bars to Women in Leadership:
because one day they woke up and said, "wait! we've been doing this all wrong. women's brains ARE the same size as our own. honey, your ovaries aren't a liability anymore!"
Tainted Toothpaste Found in Maryland:
also found, 42 dead members of a strange cult dedicated to fighting cosmic gingivitis
Liquidation: Clintons Sell Off Millions in Stock:
in senatorial rummage sale, Hillary haggles with Ted Kennedy over the price of a
Fiestaware pitcher, puts random blue dress in "FREE" box. Next week: campaign
bake sale. Bill's making the brownies, but he promises he didn't "inhale" them.
Russians Blame Americans for International Space Station Damage:
because Russia and the U.S. have been getting along so well here on planet earth.
FBI Terrorist Watch List Swells to Half A Million:
government hires birdwatchers bored from climbing extinction rates to help identify
possible suspects by call, plumage. budget increase requested to fund additional
Czech Documentary Pranksters Dupe Entire Nation:
took notes from Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
Flaming Cat Thrown at Boston Apartment Window:
minutemen protest rising taxes on flaming pets by reenacting their own version of
the Boston tea party
Dalai Lama Tours Zoo of Late Steve Irwin:
because the universe isn't weird enough
Pepsi Tries Cucumber Flavor in Japan:
cola company attempts a more marketable flavor since the much-talked about
sushi mountain dew flopped.
Fundamental Mormons Seek Recognition for Polygamy:
also send a large fruit basket with note that says "you're welcome!"
to Mitt Romney
Khmer Rouge Trials Ready to Start:
at this rate, Darfur genocide trials slated to begin in 2060.
China Faces Charges of Child Labor:
sends shockwaves through trusting global community who consistently overlook
China's aid to Iraqi insurgents and stellar human rights record. giant communist
nation takes notes from Paris Hilton, smiles and shrugs, promising reform.
my notion: bribe printer to replace all Beijing 2008 promotional material with
photos of children stitching together stuffed mascots.
Pentagon Confirms it Sought to Build 'Gay Bomb':
U.S. government actually invests in researching new chemical warfare to
inundate enemies with hormones that will make them make love, not war.
My comment on this: maybe Iraq is already using this on the United States!
Eye Tracking Billboards Keep Track of When You Look at Them:
then they smile, wink, and send a bartender over with a drink and their
number on a napkin
Privacy Advocate Sighted from Google Streetview:
guys who spends his time telling us Google invades privacy has privacy invaded by
Google, whose satellite captured him walking down the street .
there it is, ladies and gents: walking irony. was it a powerplay by Google sending
a not-so-subtle message to the privacy guy, or was it the privacy guy paying
someone to Google him while walking down Main St. to make his own point?
we'll never know.
but you shouldn't set your drink so close to the keyboard. move it over a bit.
there you go. that's better. hey, is that a new haircut you've got? i think the
mailman just walked up to your porch, better go sign for that package -
looks like it's that new book you ordered. boy, your flowerbed needs weeded.
Google Streetview: a new way to nag
all news stories alluded to in this post may be found by searching for
the bold titles online. they are all recent. all smart alec italicized
comments may be found by being around author. they are all recent.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On Food: An excerpt from

The following selection has been gleaned from Leithart and provides careful reflection on the central placement of the table in Christian life and biblical story. Setting a table can take you from Martha Stewart to Rachael Ray, but it is also a central part of how we live Christianly at home. Indeed, our dining rooms must always make space for one more at the table, and the back of our minds should reflect on mentally setting a place for Christ. The beauty of hospitality heals loneliness, restores honor and feeds the soul. Christ makes his home with us; He will also welcome us home. A taste of home is what Christ gives us in Communion. Let's share that taste of home with others.
The Eucharist has often been expounded upon in categories drawn from Aristotelian philosophy, modern phenomenology, or some other non-biblical discourse. While these categories can illuminate certain features of the Supper, it is wrong to think that these categories provide a more fundamental description of the Supper than the biblical descriptions. The Biblical descriptions of the meal should be fundamental.
Explaining the metaphysics of the real presence in terms drawn from whatever philosophical discourse does not get us closer to the reality of the Supper than the Scriptural claims that we eat spiritual food or that we remember the Lords death until He comes or that we commune with the body of Christ. Remembering the earlier lecture about OT and NT in sacramental theology, we should also say that descriptions like eating at the table of wisdom or keeping Passover or sharing a covenant meal are foundational descriptions of the Supper.
There are many dimensions to the theology of food in Scripture. First, food means dependence. We are eating creatures, who cannot live unless we take in something from outside of us. Ultimately, we are dependent upon God. The food we eat is dead, and only God can cause it to become life to us.
Second, food indicates our dominion. Adam was given the world to rule, and the world to eat. We are omnivores, who are capable because of the Creator's design to eat just about anything. At the Eucharist, we eat bread and drink wine, which are not natural products. Thus, the Lord endorses our dominion, our economics of bread-making, and brings it into His presence in worship. Food expresses our creativity, which is central to being images of God.
Third, food is for fellowship. We do not eat alone, nor do we eat merely for biological fuel. Sharing bread and meat brings us into communion, as all partake of a single loaf. At table, food is passed and shared. A meal always establishes an in-group and an out-group, and table manners express certain values. Food has not only an economic but a sociological dimension.
Fourth, food has always been central to worship. From the beginning, the sanctuaries in the Bible are dominated by food. Adam and Eve in the garden are offered the tree of life; Abraham builds altars, which are tables; there is an altar and a table in the tabernacle. Communion with God is maintained through food shared before Him, food shared with Him.
To make this more specific and textually grounded, let's look at the theology of food in Luke's gospel. This is a rich area, since Luke includes accounts of at least 10 meals (5:27-39; 7:36-50; 9:10-17; 10:38-42; 11:37-54; 14:1-24; 19:1-10; 27:7-38; 24:13-35; 24:36-53).
First, meals in Luke's gospel have a distinctly evangelistic thrust (5:29-32; 15:1ff). Meals symbolize the nature of Jesus' mission, which He explains as preaching good news to the poor and announcing the favorable year of the Lord (Lk 4). In the meals with Jesus, the poor and hungry are being restored to the fat of the land. Jesus' meals establish a circle of companions, those who share bread with Him.
Second, meals are centers of confrontation and controversy (7:34, 36-50). Jesus, his enemies claim, eats with the wrong people and eats and drinks too much. He accepts sinners.
Third, receiving Jesus at the table is tantamount to receiving Jesus Himself. Simon snubs Jesus when He comes for dinner, but the woman who is a sinner receives Him as a host should (7:36-50). Receiving Jesus' disciples is also a way of receiving Jesus (9:1-6; 10:1-16).
Fourth, table ministry is a training ground for the disciples. Jesus not only teaches at the table, but also puts His disciples to work at the table (9:10-17), and this is a central part of the apostles training.
Fifth, Jesus discusses discipleship in the categories of table manners (14:1-24). Jesus not only establishes a new circle of table friends, but also tells them that their conduct at the table is supposed to distinguish them from others. And their conduct at table is to model how they are going to live when they are away from the table.
Finally, the table is a place of recognition of Jesus, and a place of renewal in mission (Lk 24). The two disciples on the road to Emmaeus are fleeing from mission; by a meal with Jesus their eyes are open and they become witnesses to the resurrection. "Eyes open" reminds us of Genesis 3; these two disciples are eating the tree of knowledge in the right way (as James Jordan has put it), and are immediately going out to declare that Jesus is Lord (ascending to the throne-land of Eden).

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Maybe it's the Scottish flags waving in my DNA. Maybe it's a rebellious streak. Maybe it's years of witnessing silent prejudice against women, blacks and hispanics (silent at best). Maybe it's the calm anti-establishment stances I absorbed in the womb.
But when a man says his position on an obviously controversial issue is certain, beyond questioning, and utterly obvious, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is uneducated or in denial, I get mad.
Feminist theologians take this to the degree that they argue men in the church posit a belief in the afterlife simply as an extension of their egos because they can't stand the thought of ceasing to exist. Now, I don't hold to this view, even though I have known a few egos that could have swallowed substantial galaxies. In general, my observation has been that egotism and hubris are equal opportunity vices.
Today, however, the feminists may be on to something. Instead of manly men raising their voices to the heavens in assurance of their place in God's kingdom, Richard Dawkins is now the one trumpeting his own bravery. Yes, apparently Dawkins is a martyr. Scathingly condescending about real martyrs, he makes himself the martyr (poor guy!) for having to be strong and brave and alone in being an atheist (don't you feel bad?).
He sympathetically describes the hardships of being an atheist, likening it to being a homosexual afraid to come out of the closet. Poor marginalized bestseller.
He bravely lifts his chin, marching into the throes of piles of mail, interviews and royalties. He is burdened by the intellectual weight of being right when so many are wrong. It's not his fault he's smarter than most of humanity has been for all of history. By George, he will be strong where others flinch, he will herald the truth and be the unpopular (bestseller) one to announce the emperor doesn't exist.
Why is it that polarization sells? The one who yells against the crowd is a sure bet for publishers these days. The DaVinci Code. Ann Coulter. God Is Not Great. Left Behind. Say something on one end or the other.
So it was a sure bet that the Rat Pack (Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens) would rocket to the stratosphere of sales when they denounced Mother Teresa.
Watch out, boys and girls, lightning may strike.
Their reasoning?
She was against abortion. Horrible old lady, helping all those marginalized, dying untouchables.
So here we are again. Despite the fact that I often find Ann Coulter personally obnoxious and frightfully skeletal, I would rather listen to her for a couple hours than another loudmouthed man putting down women. Now, Dawkins carefully makes sure to paint himself in politically correct lines (except, of course, for religion) when he aligns himself with the plight of the homosexuals he shares a closet with. But the Rat Pack routinely indulges in polemical insults salty enough to raise the eyebrows of seasoned philosophers like Alvin Plantinga. Dawkins excuses himself by the reasoning that someone must say what no one else will. (I wonder if that is the same logic employed by the illustrious Howard Stern?) In the end, however, Dawkins becomes yet another privileged white man telling everyone else that he has discovered that he is right and the rest of the world is stupid, I mean wrong. (Isn't that the critique so eagerly leveled at the current leadership of our nation? Not applied, I see, to the atheist. Hm.)
So, for liberals the problem of God is who he or she is and whether Hindus and Jews are on the same road. For feminists, the problem of God is convincing people that She is a She. For conservatives, the problem of God is that not everyone acknowledges Christ.
And for atheists, the problem of suffering in the world is God.
Poor marginalized bestsellers. They could solve the world's problems, if only everyone would stop being religious. Throw out your vishnu. Convince Richard Gere that his zen rock garden doesn't do anything. Put aside your yarmulke. Roll up your prayer rug. Close your Bible.
Thank goodness - there are snowflakes in hell, now, as I type - thank goodness for feminist theologians. They at least believe in the supernatural.
And if anyone knows how to be loud and polarizing, too, it's them.
At least they're not more privileged white men making millions of dollars off of telling us how wrong we all are.