Monday, November 29, 2004

Stop Me if You've Heard This One...

A liberal, a moderate, and a conservative Christian were walking down the street at 2:00am when they passed a homeless man in need of change...and a change.

No. Really.

And you know what? Their theology on paper made absolutely no difference when it came down to their theology in action. Here was a man in need of both material and spiritual blessing, and what did they do? They stood there and got in each others' faces about how wrong and screwed up the others' theologies were. They fought so much that the homeless man left them there in disgust, vowing to have nothing to do with any of them anymore. He even doubted that such a loving God could exist when God's followers were so deeply divided over almost every issue.

No, wait. That's what happens online and in the isolated halls of debate and discussion.

This was the real world.

This was where three people of differing theologies managed to give the homeless man some cash, talk with him about where he's been and wants to be, prayed for the man, and received prayer from the man, as well. This was where three young men walked away from a homeless man having been both a blessing and themselves been blessed. This was where three young men, of differing opinions on paper, shed real tears over the plight of the homeless and the destitue. This was where three young men found the presense of God in their midst.

Have you heard this one before?
Because I need to hear it again.
And again.
And again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

And This is What They Learn

Tue Nov 16, 9:12 AM ET

Children who fled from the battle-torn town of Falluja play with toy guns at a temporary refugee camp in Baghdad November 16, 2004. Thousands of residents fled Falluja in advance of an offensive by U.S. military forces aimed at driving militants from the restive city. The Iraqi Red Crescent - one of the few aid agencies operating in Iraq - is still negotiating with U.S. forces after being denied access to Falluja. REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen

When will we learn that a violent solution promotes repeated violence? The solutions we use to answer our problems give assent to the methods used within those solutions. It breaks my heart to know that whole generations of youth around the world continue to grow up with an ingrained belief that the appropriate response to any given conflict is escalating violence.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Recount '04

David Cobb (Green Party) and Michale Badnarik (Libertarian Party) have joined their efforts in raising money for a full state-wide recount of Ohio. In just 4 days the two presidential candidates have raise over $150,000, well over the $115,000 needed to pay all applicable fees. They are currently continuing to raise money to support the workers and volunteers who will be involved in the recount effort.

This news closely follows Ralph Nader's (Reform Party) announcement that he is having New Hampshire's ballots recounted. These recounts come as a result of reports involving machine error, human error, tampering, and intimidation. No party has expressed any desire to overturn the election results, but to ensure that every voter has their vote counted. In a letter from this past August, Walden W. O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, said that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to Bush. Cobb and Badnarik have asked Ohio's Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, to recuse himself from the recount effort due to Blackwell being the head of President Bush's Ohio campaign/reelection activities.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Dear Christian Right,

Thank you for your advice on how I could be a more moral person. While I am looking into whether or not depriving gays and lesbians of family rights is a spiritually healthy practice or whether or not a constitutionally protected reproductive health procedure should be struck down by activist Evangelical judges, may I offer you some ideas for your own reflection as well?

War is a Moral Issue
Many of us believe that a war based on lies is immoral. We also believe that a president who allows over 1100 American sons and daughters to die because of lies is acting in an immoral manner. We were told outright that Saddam had weapons to use against us. We were told that he was assisting Al Qaeda in their attacks against us and others. Then we watched as both of these were exposed as lies and were endlessly edited on an almost weekly basis, from having weapons to making weapons to having the capacity to make weapons to wanting to make weapons. We were not attacked by Iraq and we did not exhaust every possible action before going to war. That is not a "just war". It would be hard to argue that Jesus would even accept our own criteria for a "just war" in light of his admonitions to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. War is a moral issue.

Economics is a Moral Issue
One of the greatest concerns Jesus had was to care for the poor. Are we taking care of our poor when a tax cut gives the most money back to those who already have the most money? Or when we engage in policies that seek to reduce the incomes of millions of workers by taking away their overtime pay? Or when we allow the medical coverage of millions of people to lapse because it has become unaffordable? Or when we engage in practices that reward large corporations seeking a higher bottom line at the expense of their hard working employees? Economics is a moral issue.

Idolatry is a Moral Issue
In your wide-spread turn to our government to carry out the will of the Christian Right, you have abandoned our God. We are told to trust in God. The changes that we desire for the world can not be brought about through laws and policies, but through grace and compassion. Bush and the government can not save us. For that matter, Kerry can not save us, either. The difference is that Evangelicals flocked to march under Bush's banner with such an idolatrous fervor that that Bush comes across as your new savior from those who do not share your cultural views. You went so far as to paint those who did not agree with you as being apostates and heretics. Even if you do not believe this to be true, where is your public outcry while the media portrays the issue in this way? Your silence speaks volumes. Idolatry is a moral issue.

It seems that we have much to think about. I hope that we can find common ground in our faith. I hope you can forgive any anger or frustration that comes out in this letter. I also hope that you can come to understand why there is anger and frustration, without attributing it to some un-Christian source. I do believe morals had much to do with this election, but it is not the Christian Right who owns the moral discourse.

The Christian Left

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Reflections on the Jesus I Know...

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

Luke: Chapter 6, Verses 27-31, 35-38

This passage in the Gospel of Luke seems to get boiled down to one phrase and then glossed over. I believe this passage is a key passage to understanding the difference between those who say they are Christians and those who are Christians. This proclamation is not a judgment. I do not condemn those who say they are Christians but are not, I am merely disappointed with them. I also hope that my progressive friends who do not share my faith can see the progressive side of faith as it shines through in these verses.

Do to/for others what you would want others to do to/for you...

Squeezing this passage down to just this verse does the Christian faith an enormous disservice. While the actual living-out of this verse by every person who claims to be a Christian would be a progressive revolution unto itself, it is important to see the text before and after it as well. It reminds us that "Do unto others" is not a phrase to remind people to treat us well, it's a command for us to treat others well. Here it is, in the Bible, from the mouth of Jesus, an emphatic call to reject revenge, retribution, divisive behavior, condemnation, and judgment. Jesus tells us that his desire is to see us accept one another and serve one another in a beneficial way even if we disagree with each others' lifestyles, beliefs, positions, status, etc... It means that, as a Liberal, I will not deny a Conservative the assistance they may need. It means I will not exact revenge on a person who has slighted me. It means that I will love those who are unlovable. If one thinks being the president is hard work, try being a Christian the way Jesus intended. This is a passage that needs to be read and reread by every Christian in every congregation everyday until we get it and live it. I do not always get it or live it, but we can no longer accept Christian condemnation of a multitude of social practices in light of this verse. We must realize that if we proclaim a radical and thorough trust in Jesus and God, then we must shed every aspect of our condemnation and judgment of others, as directed by Jesus. If we are to err on an incorrect interpretation of scripture, let it be that we always err on the side of grace and love as found in Jesus’ life and God's message through Jesus.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Diane Rehm Show partial transcript

I was wrong about Senator Hutchison's remarks. Conservative Iraqi guerillas are not monsters, she said that they're animals.

At the 36:20 mark of the archived Nov. 9th Diane Rehm Show:

Diane Rehm:
Let's go first to St Augustine, Florida. Good morning David, you're on the air.

Caller (David):
Good morning Diane and Kay, how are you doing today?

Diane Rehm and Republican Texas Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison:
Fine, thank you.

Caller (David):
Good. I find it a bit both hypocritical and absurd that so many people claim a moral high ground in voting for George W Bush. I don't see how there's any morality for the U.S. to go into a country disingenuously, as we are in Iraq, and kill one hundred thousand innocent civilians. I've been a student of the Bible some of my life, in my college days, and I don't remember Jesus or anywhere in the New Testament it saying anything about disenfranchising gay people, that poor women should die in back-alley abortions, or that the rich should acquire wealth at the expense of poor and working people. In fact, Jesus said exactly the opposite.

Diane Rehm:
Alright, sir, thanks for your call. Senator?

Republican Texas Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison:
Well, first of all, I think that the president's economic policies, about which you referred in that last part of your comment, was meant to create jobs for people, and the tax cuts done that. The stock market has solidified, which has created more jobs for people, created more capability for us to increase the jobs that we in many ways lost after nine eleven. Secondly, America hasn't killed a hundred thousand people in Iraq. The insurgents are brutal animals. They are people who have shot the Iraqi police recruits cold-bloodedly in the head. They're people who have chopped peoples' heads off in front of a video camera. Terrorists have shot children in the back, in Russia, as they are running away from them to safety. And, so, I think that what the president is trying to do is protect America from these people who would come to our country and commit these atrocities here. And, so, I think he is committed to that, and I don't think that anyone is claiming moral superiority, but I do think the president is doing everything he can to protect American citizens.

A Disturbing Portrayal

Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison appeared as a guest today on the Diane Rehm Show. Towards the end of the interview, a caller asked Ms. Hutchison to comment on the 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. Although the caller is using a flawed estimate of the death toll ( provides a verifiable estimate of the death toll ranging from 14272 to 16405 as of this posting), the response given was one of the most dehumanizing remarks made by a government official since the holocaust. Ms. Hutchison remarked that we are not killing civilians, that we are fighting monsters. By stripping the combatants of their humanity, as atrocious as their actions are, killing becomes insignificant because those who die are not even considered to be human beings. We must not allow those whom we elect into office to perpetuate the vile stereotype that conservative Muslim combatants are somehow less than human. In our efforts to achieve justice we must retain our own humanity and morality.

Each Diane Rehm Show is archived an hour after its original broadcast. This post will be edited at that time to reflect Ms. Hutchison's exact remarks.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Theft of '04

I have been sitting on my hands for the last several days, and for good reason. There was no hiding the fact that I am a self-avowed Democrat. I wanted to take in as much information as possible before throwing my own thoughts into the arena. Now my self-imposed posting exile has come to an end.

I have spent a great deal of time pouring over raw voter data, conspiracy theories, opinion columns, radio talk show broadcasts, political blogs, and traditional print and broadcast news media. One thing is for certain, a whole lot of nutjobs come crawling out of the woodwork following almost every election. Another thing is also as certain, this election is being stolen from Senator John Kerry and the general public will only hear about it when it safely passes into the realm of "conspiracy theory".

Rather than choke this post with information that can easily be found elsewhere, I will simply point you to Blogging of the President and ask that you read each of the articles archived there. This is not an issue to be taken lightly. I was orginally concerened that Senator Kerry would win by electoral votes and not by popular vote, and the worst we would be dealing with would be a much needed call for electoral reform. I could not have been more wrong. Instead, we have a repeat of the election in 2000, where fraud and intimidation continue to to destroy our democracy.

I am deeply dissapointed that this is not being covered by mainstream media. What we get instead are light talking points that skirt the issue rather than a serious investigation. Now, with a major offensive operaton in Fallujah, I am deeply concerned that election results will be certified without any serious invesigation. The news from Falujah will conveniently bombard the news media and overshadow these dubious election results. There will be some who wish to claim that it's all part of a larger plan, but I'm not willing to endorse that idea. What I will endorse is the idea that no major news organization wants to go through what occured during the 2000 election aftermath or the CBS News airing of false documents regarding George W Bush's service history. They will refuse to pick up on and report this issue for fear of being wrong and, consequently, being pushed into irrelevance or shame by conservatively biased media outlets. I hope that every person who comes across the truth of this matter does what they can by passing it along to every media outlet, friend, neighbor, and stranger. This must not be an issue that we allow to sink into obscurity. Our freedom and democracy depend on it.