Tuesday, May 17, 2005


This lovely lady was last featured on the blog on January 23, but I can't find it in the archives right now. A Blogger snit of some kind. Bear is her name, and she came into my life in November 1991 (top picture) when I adopted her from the NYC ASPCA, and she moved on this Monday, May 16th - at 13 years of age. She was very youthful for her age, and optimistically* I had just renewed her city license for two years, having no reason to suspect she had any other plans. As it turns out, Hemangiosarcoma doesn't allow for much planning. This household is reeling. (*amended to note that our confidence wasn't completely unreasonable.)

We have learned over the years (with two dogs and 2-4 cats) that there are some mighty fine animal people at the San Francisco SPCA hospital; think of them, or your local nonprofit animal medical center, when you've got some extra nickels clanging around.

Many apologies for the long dry spells here. It will probably continue until June 1, although abc will try to freshen up the place occasionally. I must finish three more papers, one grant report, and complete a move, by the end of the month. I will try, however, to update the links on the right, including adding the Progressive Christian Blogroll from the Progressive Christian Blogger Network. Your patience is appreciated!

I leave you with this old Rudyard Kipling poem, which a friend sent hoping it would bring me comfort. It hasn't, but it certainly resonates...

"The Power of the Dog"

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie --
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find -- it's your own affair --
But . . . you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit hat answered your every mood
Is gone -- wherever it goes -- for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept'em, the more do we grieve;

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long --
So why in -- Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Monday, May 09, 2005

A fine mess, Ollie!

One of Stan Laurel's most-quoted lines pretty much sums up where we are in this country just now. How did it happen?

While MizM has been covered over with term papers, I've been contemplating the tough question of how the left and the right, political and religious, might be able to get out of their respective entrenched positions and start talking to each other in ways that can be heard. (Of course, we'd have to want to do it, but let's assume for the sake of this reflection that there's a critical mass with that desire. I had mine rekindled by taking the Pax Christi nonviolence pledge last week.) As I think about this, I have wondered how in the world we ever got to this extreme polarization in the first place.

The other day I read a column about road rage that contained a clue. It's a concept called "naive realism," which is basically the assumption that everybody sees the world the same as I do. The naive realist doesn't see that her view of the world is just as much an interpretation as is everyone else's view. My divinity school advisor was fond of quoting Eric Hoffer thus: "Be careful how you interpret the world; it is like that." There's a cool paper from Stanford on the implications of naive realism for social conflict and misunderstanding, if you feel like really getting inside the concept.

For a couple of recent examples of how this plays out, see the flaps in the North Carolina Baptist congregation, where 9 members were voted out for being Democrats, and at the Jesuit publication America, where the editor was forced out for differing from the Vatican. I'm still not clear on how we get out of the polarization, but I'm pretty sure it won't be by dissing and name-calling, or by banishing those who differ from us. Humility all around and real listening on both sides could be a start to get us all out of this morass.

One huge factor shaping the consciousness of the evangelical community is the growing power and reach of "Christian media." In case you missed it, here's an informative piece on the subject from CJR entitled, ironically, "Stations of the Cross."

Friday, May 06, 2005

God only knows What's the Matter with Kansas; I just want to know if it's contagious...

Oh, how I wish I could spend more time on this. But I need to get a paper and a presentation done this weekend, and the first of four term papers must be well enough underway to be able to present on it Tuesday. (Thanks to abc for freshening up around here earlier this week!)

All I can do for now is point you to the coverage on the absurd Evolution Trial (are we calling this Evolution versus Kansas School Board?) here, here, here, here, and especially here and here. Then read this interesting review of a religious biography of Charles Darwin himself, and ask yourself what the fundies are afraid of...

The last time the Kansas School Board made atavists of themselves, in the late 90s, there was a very funny editorial cartoon (I've looked for a link but can't find it; if I can find my copy I'll stick it up here later) that depicted an agitated Koko-the-gorilla signing to her teacher Dr. Penny Patterson, with Patterson answering "I wouldn't worry it about it, Koko. It's only a rumor that the Kansas School Board is descended from apes."

Jeb Bush desperately needs a hobby...

I mean one besides using his apparently not-inconsiderable powers to interject the State of Florida into the most deeply personal and painful decisions individuals or their loved ones can make. Still smarting over their inability to completely invalidate the Constitution of the United States in the Schiavo case, Florida tried to block a 13-year old homeless girl from having an abortion. They finally gave up, perhaps because the 13-year old made quite a case for herself (from Feministing, via Atrios):
L.G., who told Alvarez she had run away at least five times from her youth shelter, maintained, "It would make no sense to have the baby."

"I don't think I should have the baby because I'm 13, I'm in a shelter and I can't get a job," the girl said as Alvarez and her guardian ad litem, assigned to shepherd her in the legal system, questioned her.

L.G. laid out different reasons for wanting an abortion.

"DCF would take the baby anyway," she said, but later added: "If I do have it, I'm not going to let them take it."

She also questioned the health risk of carrying the fetus to term.

"Since you guys are supposedly here for the best interest of me, then wouldn't you all look at that fact that it'd be more dangerous for me to have the baby than to have an abortion?" she asked. Alvarez called that "a good point."
Oh, by the way, abortion rates are up - that's right, up - under Bush II (via the Village Gate.)

The Left: Teaching Your Children To Become Fornicating Sodomites

Via Sadly No!... Wow, if you ever worry that you're starting to sound a little paranoid, use this as a point of comparison:
Looking at these deadly statistics, can we believe anything other than that the Left are insane monsters? They've knowingly unleashed the destructive forces of sexual license upon America knowing in advance what the deadly outcome would be. These are the maddened offspring of past and present genocidal murderers, butchers who are responsible for exterminating 100,000,000 plus people and counting: Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler (was a socialist), Pol Pot, Kim Jung II, and Castro.

And to promote and enforce their agenda of moral degeneracy, death, and destruction, America's communists formed up an army of organizations to do their bidding. Among just a fraction of these are the ACLU, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation); Lambda Legal, AFT (Am. Federation of Teachers), NEA (Nat'l Educators Assoc.); NOW; NARAL; Gay Straight Alliance Network; and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Educators Network). All of these, plus many more are boldly listed on the Communist Party USA website: http://www.cpusa.org/ The Human Rights Campaign, yet another 'gay' activist group, is found on various progressive websites, and it actively works against the appointment of strict Constitutionalist judges.

Americans,these evil people are teaching your children to become fornicating sodomites (buggerers). They don't care that your children are becoming diseased in the process. Keep in mind what Lenin, one of their "fathers" said to them: ".....everything becomes moral in pursuit of the annihilation of their (our) culture." Everything becomes moral', even turning children into diseased degenerates.
In downtown San Francisco I was once handed a photocopy of a handwritten manifesto that sounded a bit like this, by a young homeless woman clearly in need of treatment. Spend a little time on MichNews.com, where this word salad was published, and you'll discover that the whole "staff" needs treatment...

Are you surprised...

...that under what is likely to be the most corrupt administration the US has ever seen, the government can't account for $100 million spent in Iraq?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"Only justice can stop a curse"

Alice Walker wrote those words in The Color Purple. When she did, she probably wasn't thinking about an interpretation of justice such as the one put on display on April 24 in Louisville (and properly denounced and ridiculed as a total perversion of the concept). I don't remember who it was who labeled it as "Just-Us Sunday," but that's not far off the mark. As a former and possibly future Tennessean, I was especially embarrassed that Sen. Bill Frist joined that motley crowd. Frist family members have been generous in Nashville with their wealth (from for-profit hospitals, to be sure -- talk about perversion!) and have given time and effort to numerous civic enterprises in Middle Tennessee, so I didn't expect one of them to be making common cause with the likes of Jim Dobson. A piece on the senator in last week's Economist offered some enlightenment, however. You need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing online; here's an enlightening excerpt (italics added for emphasis):

Why has Mr Frist thrown in his lot with the religious right? It is possible that he has enjoyed a private conversion. But the more likely explanation is that an intensely ambitious man desperately wants to be president. At his young gentleman's academy in Nashville, his nicknames were “Mr President”, “Precious” and “Wilbur”; at Princeton, Harvard Medical School and the Stanford University Medical Centre, he was a super-achiever, so keen on practising surgery that he even adopted stray cats from Boston shelters for the sole purpose of dissecting them.
Now, no one who knows me would ever accuse me of being at the head of the league of animal lovers, but I'm really put off by this. (Not that I would ever have voted for him anyway!)

A friend sent
this essay of Anne Lamott called "God Doesn't Take Sides" (scroll down to read it), which for some reason cheered me up a lot, even though we might converse a bit about the "preferential option for the poor." Another source of encouragement was spending a day last weekend in the presence of John Dear, peace activist and former head of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He has a great spirit and tells very funny stories about his experiences. He says working for peace and justice should be fun: a good reminder for those of us who tend to get angry, intense, and rigid!

If you don't subscribe to Sojourners, you might have missed this solid piece on Social Security by Jim Wallis entitled, appropriately, "Honor Your Father and Mother." Not that they are paying that much attention to any of them, but the theocrats seem to be especially neglectful of the Fifth Commandment.