Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jerry Falwell and public schools

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
– Rev. Jerry Falwell
That's from his book America Can Be Saved, written in 1979, according to multiple internet sources (now there's lousy citation for you)

But ... the thing is, I rather suspect he still thinks this.

I guess he wants to see a United State where:

  • no one has any body piercings except women can have ear rings.
  • no men have hair longer than their collar
  • all students are taught that the earth is 6000 years old
  • students are not allowed to have unapproved demonstrations
  • no one is allowed to watch R rated movies
  • students are required to tattle on their classmates or else be considered guilty of whatever they didn't tattle about.

All from Liberty Universities rules and regulations
(except the 6000 year old earth bit, but to the best of my understanding that is what is taught at Liberty)

So 15,000 people are currently paying $80,000 for the privilege of going to Liberty University for four years and earning their undergrad degree from an institution whose chancellor and founder (as best as I understand) has never actually earned a doctoral degree

I don't get that.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pray for Uganda

A nearly miraculous 6 month ceasefire between the Lord's Resistance Army and the government of Uganda is set to exprie Wednesday, February 28th (that is, today). This is enormously heartbreaking, as it means that a situation has been *so* bad for so long for so many children, and which looked to be getting better, may now be getting worse again.

Read more

62% of children living in displaced persons camp in Northern Uganda are victims of sexual abuse (The Monitor)
At least 66,000 children are thought to have been forcibly recruited into the Lord's Resistance Army (

If I think about this too much, I start crying.

See also World Vision's Synopsis
See also Invisible Children
See also Juba Talks

Does god hate africa more than he hates the rest of us?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quote from Leo Tolstoy

A single execution carried out by prosperous educated men uninfluenced by passion, with the approbation and assistance of Christian ministers, and represented as something necessary and even just, is infinitely more corrupting and brutalizing to men than thousands of murders committed by uneducated working people under the influence of passion.

Every war, even the most humanely conducted, with all its ordinary consequences, the destruction of harvests, robberies, the license and debauchery, and the murder with the justifications of its necessity and justice, the exaltation and justification of military exploits, the worship of the flag, the patriotic sentiments, the feigned solicitude for the wounded, and so on, does more in one year to pervert men's minds than thousands or robberies, murders, and arsons perpetrated during hundreds of years by individual men under the influence of passion

--Leo Tolstoy, from The Kingdom of God is Within You.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Found this photo today

from a while ago, with a very small girl number one peeking over my shoulder from her backpack perch.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Video and Invitation

Megan and I went to see Amazing Grace today, and IMO it was a really great movie. So here's the trailer. And I want to invite you to see the movie this next week. Then join us to discuss it starting next Friday on the brand spanking new Off-The-Map Blog which Rachel and I are hosting starting in March, You can find movie times near you here

Let me just also say that the fact that Wiblerforce's efforts led to the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire doesn't mean that slavery ended. In fact, there are 27 million slaves in the world today. To learn more, and how we can help, you can start at Free The Slaves.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

25 Points to identify this protein

Hint: You'd die without it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

what is emergent--a peeve

So Mark Driscoll announced on his blog this week the publcation of a new book by zondervan "Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches" edited by Dr. Robert Webber. It is a "counterpoint book", in which 5 so called emerging church pastors write on the issues of the trinity, the atonement, and the scripture, and then respond to each others' writing. The writers are Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward, Dan Kimball, John Burke, and Mark Driscoll.

So here's my peeve: what [the hell] is emergent about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill? I mean I know a little about Karen Ward and Doug Pagitt, and they are both definitely emerging. I mean their churches are .. emerging *out of* the boring, painful, etc. mainstream church. It doesn't look to me like Mars Hill is emerging from anything. They are totally typical. In fact they are ... quintessentially typical of the 'church' which I find so painful and can no longer bear. Not that I have anything against them personally. I'm sure they are somewhere in the range upon which typical churches fall--not really *that* far off in toward one extreme or the other. So how come they keep getting called emerging? I mean really, is that like a marketing campaign they did early on, and it stuck, or what? I really don't get it. Is it because they have such a youngish demographic? Is it because they are numerically successful in Seattle? Do people who call them emergent or emerging just mean something very very different from what I mean when I use those terms? If so, what is the meaning that these others are assigning to the term? don't get it don't get it don't get it. It's concerning because I ... sort of think of myself as emergent, or emergent, or at least ... I think of myself as feeling good around and understanding/connecting with emerging/emergent people. But *not* with Mars Hillish places. I feel totally and completely out of place and creeped out at Mars Hill services. So if we are going to wrest the word like that, or push the meaning to be so enormously broad, then perhaps I have to stop using it, or else explain every time, or something.

On the other hand, I think the book should be fascinating because of the authors in it that I do like.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

pancake day and mardi gras and shriving

So today I learned that today, the day before Ash Wednesday, the last day before Lent starts, is called both Pancake Day and Mardi Gras for the same reason. Language is so fascinating to me.

Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday", is the last day of Carnival, which is a two week celebration before Lent begins. The biggest Carnival is held in Rio de Janeiro, Portuguese for "January River" (thus named because it was found by Portuguese explorers on January 20th, 1502).

Pancake Day is what today gets called in UK and Australia, because, apparently, it is common to eat pancakes on this day. And why is it common to eat pancakes? Because theoretically people are giving up "rich" foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, sugar and flour for the 40 days of Lent. So why not use up all those ingredients, and have a little last minute celebration at the same time? Hence pancakde day.

Also today is called Shrove Tuesday. "Shrove" is past tense of "Shrive". "Shrive" means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance. It has been traditional, apparently, people used to shrive on Shrove Tuesday in preparation for lent. But this term is apparently not common or familiar in the U.S., whereas it *is* common in the U.K. and Australia

Other names: "Tuesday of Carnival", "Martes de Carnaval", "Terca-feira de Carnaval", "Terca-feira Gorda", "Martedi Grasso".

So in U.K., apparently, they have pancake races in which the contestants run to the finish line holding a frying pan and tossing the pancakes as they go.

anyway, doesn't one get the feeling of the ... Christian empire, as it were? Or perhaps the European Empires? Back in the day, Europe was colonizing everywhere, and the Christian church was very much tied in with that, so we get people all over the place doing their own iterations of "Last day before lent".

And don't you also get the feeling of the ... sense of the sacred, the sense of the numinous, that people used to have? It seems like the life of the church, the calender of the church, used to be much more intertwined with the life of the whole culture. People had a sense of connection with god and with each other that perhaps we now lack, now that ... all the old gods are dead, and all we are left with is modernism and scientism. I mean who really does any proper fasting during lent anymore? Who gets rid of all their eggs and flour and sugar and chooses to try to connect on purpose with the brokenness of the world and the brokenness of themselves for 40 days? We are much too busy and tuned out to do such a thing across the culture, and anyway, it would probably hurt the economy, and we can't have that. At one level we have an innate need to shrive, but it's more convenenient to watch 24, or blog. or maybe I'm just projecting, and most people do participate in these excercises , and I'm the only one who is so busy and so disconnected.

Monday, February 19, 2007

50 thousand American casulties in Iraq

Yes, it's month old news. But there it is. No one has managed to do a bloody thing about it yet--the carnage continues. already over 100 wounded and 60 killed this month.

Counting dead, wounded, seriously sick, and injured, according to Iraq Body Count and Wikipedia and Alter Net

Sunday, February 18, 2007

media fast and mindfulness

Friday the Seattle Times ran a story on a new course with professor Mara Adelman at Seattle University, "Restorative Solitude". The 12 upper level communications students were originally asked to undertake a one week media fast. No ipod, cell phone, email, television, radio, car stereo, etc. etc. etc. The students protested and the fast was reduced to four days. As it turns out, however, even with the reduced time period, none of the students were able to completely abstain. From the story...

Adelman believes her new upper-level course "Restorative Solitude" is unique. It explores the importance of quiet time for clarity, creativity and spirituality, and touches on techniques ranging from long-distance running to meditation. It also explores the darker side of solitude: loneliness and isolation

This seems related at some level to the concept of mindfulness which I am currently starting to learn about in connection with the Addictive Behaviors Research Center (ABRC) at University of Washington. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in relatively recent therapies which have been developed for stress reduction and chronic pain reduction. It seems that (from my understanding so far anyway), that at least certain streams within buddhism may have the best grasp on mindfulness of anyone in the world, in terms of learning and practicing it. So right now ABRC is just starting up a big project, the first of it's kind, I'm pretty sure, to see whether teaching mindfulness to those with addictive disorders can significantly reduce relapse outcomes.


-Do you think you could fast from all media for a week? Why or why not?
-Lent begins on Wednesday. What do you think about the idea of a partial media fast for lent?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Video

I really like these Mr. Deity videos. Here's #5: Mr. Deity and Lucifer

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Guest blogger--A different perspective on Iraq

So my uncle steve recently posted his thoughts on the war in Iraq, and he gave me permission to repost here with comments. So just to be very up front, I sort of largely disagree with most of what he says. The thing is, his views seem to me to represent: A. The views of some sizeable group of Americans. and B. The views of a rather large proportion of my mother's family, which makes up most of my extended family. So it would perhpas behoove me to react with curiosity and respect and gentleness. Following are excerpts from Steve's Blog

After listening to a couple of hours of debates in the US Congress tonight, I have formed some opinions about the ongoing war in Iraq.

#1. I don't believe we can cut & run in any way shape or form. There's too much evidence from history to show what will happen if we do. Al-Queda ready considers us weak, and for sure that is how we will be viewed in the eyes of every significant nation in the free world. With the dangers looming in Iran, N Korea, Venezuala, Syria, we can't afford to take a weak posture at this point.

It seems to me like the evidence goes the other way--I mean it seems to me that the lesson we apparently failed to learn in vietnam is that getting too involved in someone else's civil war is pointless and if/when we do so, our best bet is to realize our mistake as quickly as possible and extract ourselves ASAP--a kind of cutting one's losses. (Read more ...)

#2. We need a solid plan. I've heard that mostly from the Republicans, and I agree. The Democrats, for all their impassioned rhetoric about saving American lives, failed to provide any plan. The closest think I heard to a plan was at the end, when one of the Democrats said their plan would be to "put a fence around the funding" (for the war). Great plan, right.

I kind of agree with you about the democrats lacking a solid plan. I would love to hear the democrats saying "Here's our plan--we need to get our soldiers out of Iraq, ASAP, and the way we are going to make sure that happens is we are going to radically cut military expenditures."

#3. I don't think sending in additional troops is going to make a difference in the long run either. (Perhaps now you're wondering what political party I belong to? Read on). It seems evident that, especially with proven Iranian involvement (and this from the liberal media that has come out so vocally against the war), that this thing is going to get bigger & bloodier as time goes on. I think I heard a quote from one of the soldiers, stating something to the effect that whenever they get one area cleaned up, someone wants to kill them in some other area they are going into.

Again, I sort of agree with you. It seems to me that the whole thing is just going to continue to be bloody and a mess, and our best bet to remedy that situation is to *deescalate*, which is to say, to start bringing troops home immediately.

So where am I going? What is my solution? Here's my take, take it or leave it.

This is not a "winnable" war in the sense that our enemys will one day surrender & a truce will be signed. Nor is it a war we can retreat from. That would be nationalistic suicide. No, this war is unlike any other war, because the enemy is not who we think they are.

Are you still with me?

What we are fighting here has been definied as a clash of "civilizations", "ideologies", "doctrines", "religions". Pick your buzz word. This aspect of the war doesn't get talked about enough in the mainstream media, but I believe it is at the crux of the solution in Iraq. Sadly, I don't think it will ever be taken seriously, while men and governments continue to up the ante' - more funding, more money, more soldiers on the one hand, more suicide bombers, more IEDs, more kidnappings, terrorism, US & British Media Exploitation on the other. The stakes get higher and higher.

What if people all around the world started praying hard, very hard, for a solution? And what if they prayed to the God that created this world? What if people started really digging into the book of Revelation, Daniel, and other end-time prophecy books. What if we looked at it through the eyes of Jesus, as he gave his discourse to the apostles in Matthew 24? What if we took seriously news stories like the one out of Florida recently in which a man claimed to be Jesus Christ himself? What if we looked at what's happening in Jerusalem & the Temple Mount & started comparing it to what is written in scripture? Could we make some connections? Are we getting close to some HUGE event in World History? I would say so. And in fact, I think it's knocking right at our door this very hour.

I don't think the war in Iraq is going to end in a way either Democrats or Republicans think it could. Things will escalate. This is just the beginning of something much bigger. So what's my point? Where's my plan?

Pray baby, pray hard. Pray for the eyes & ears of the nations to open to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that our leaders will get down on their knees and start making decisions based on wisdom from God. Pray that America, once a mighty Christian Nation, get back to her roots, and mostly pray for God's grace. I love my country, and for sure we are the most blessed country in the world, but we are also the most vile and decadant country in the world (yes, I said those both in one breath). Lots of people look at the Muslim religion as a religion of hate that breeds more hatred & violence. Can we get our eyes off the religion & start looking at what's behind the religion? Some Muslims look at America as the land of immorality, weakness, decadence - a nation filled with vileness. A land in which freedom has lost it's moral compass. We are the strongest military force in the world, yet we can't contain a miniscule country like Iraq (remember, the battle is the Lords). There are many lessons from the Bible we could learn from that will help us understand why, if our leaders would just listen.

So while the debate goes on all around us about what to do in Iraq, how to make our nation more secure, how to stop the terrorists before they stop us - I have one solution, and it's not my solution at all. It was written several thousand years ago, and it is still applicable today. Praise be to God. Here it is:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, & pray, & seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and HEAL THEIR LAND" (2 Chron 7:14).

It sounds like you are saying that you think its possible to map the book of Revelation onto current world events and make appropriate decisions based on that mapping. Is that what you are saying?

It also sounds like you identify very strongly *both* with being American and with being Christian, and that indeed you see the two identities as being very strongly interconnected. Am I getting that right? Do you find this consistent with the way that Jesus interacted with nationhood and kingdomhood in the Bible stories? It seems to me that Jesus and the early church saw their being part of "The Way" as ... antithetical to their strongly identifying with/being loyal/committed to to a particular nation or kindgom or empire or people.

Do you think it's at all accurate to think of or look at the current Unites States as an empire? You kind of reference this when you talk about "the strongest military in the world not being able to contain a miniscule country like Iraq". This statement very much seems to be grounded in an imperialistic paradigm.

Jim and Caspar go to Church

So last summer Jim Henderson, co founder of Off the Map, hired Caspar, an atheist, to go on a road trip with him to visit 20 churches across America, and they wrote a book about the experience--"Jim and Caspar Go to Church", which will be out later this year.
And Dr. Gary Gilley, pastor of southern view chapel, got hold of one of the galleys for the book, and wrote a review--the first review of the book.
And Caspar responded to the review here.
I had a bit of a hard time not just writing off "Dr." Gilley. The university where he got his doctorate has a flat rate of $4500 for a doctorate, and their accrediting agency is referenced *nowhere* on the web except on their own web page (according to google)! That sounded a bit iffy to me. Plus he attacks the 12 steps and psychology (the discipline) as being unchristian and unbiblical and scary, and finds Dr. James Dobson, of all things, too ... liberal.
But I am learning this brilliant lesson from Jim and Helen, who both help run Off the Map's five blogs. The lesson is that it's more important to be kind than right, and part of that is being willing to engage people as human beings with innate dignity, no matter how off the wall they seem. So Jim and Caspar totally engage with Dr. Gilley, based on what he says in his review of their book. They warmly and curiously and genuinely invite him into dialogue. I think that's awesome. I want to be more like that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


In an email to members of his former church, Ted Haggard announced this last week that, after three weeks of "intense spiritual conselling", he is convinced he is "completely heterosexual."

Randy Thomas, vice president of the United States' largest ex-gay group, Exodus international (and can I just say that is a bummer of a name for someone in that position? But only people who speak British or Aussie English know that, so it's not as bad as it could be, I guess), said

"Sexuality is very complex. So, for many people, depending on what issues they deal with … it could be months, it could be years," said Thomas. "So for someone to claim complete healing … I find that remarkable."

I found this fascinating. What does it mean? Here are some of my ideas about what Ted might have meant:

1."I intend to never have homosexual sex again"
2."I intend to never have homosexual lustful thoughts again"
3."I think it's important for the cause of New Life Center and the National Association of Evangelicals that I say this"
4."I think it's important for my wife and kids that I say this"

I'd love some clarification. Anyone have any idea what he meant? What do you think?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Video

Compassion for sex offenders.
Are sex offenders the modern equivalent in the the United States of lepers, publicans and sinners? If they are, then who would Jesus be hanging out with? Your thoughts?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

correction on Firestone, and the Pledge of Allegiance

Two posts ago, I suggested not buying firestone tires as a response to firestone's abuse of their employees in Liberia. Upon further reflections, this may not be the best course of action.

Perhaps not buying the tires will deprive these worker's of even the infinitesimally meager wages they earn. Perhaps the better thing is, buy whatever tyres you would otherwise buy, and *if* they are bridgestone firestone--be aware of this issue, and be vocal about it to the company as one of the their valued customers. That way we don't deprive the worker's in Liberia of their wages by driving Firestone out of business. Maybe there is hope for change from the inside. Hmmmm....

Today the American Pledge of Allegiance was mentioned in a CNN report (which I saw on YouTube) on atheists in America. One religious journal editor claimed that atheists are partly to blame for their bad image in this country, because of things they do like ... suing to have the words "One nation under God" removed from the pledge of allegiance.
For those not from this country, my understanding is that most schoolchildren in this country are led in 'the pledge of allegiance to the american flag' every school day. I certainly said it regularly in school as a child.
I now find this very very strange. Why are children being taught to ritualistically pledge their allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands? I don't get that. I don't want my daughters making such a pledge. It seems eminently un Christian and jingoistic and insular and a bit scary. And yet it is seen as so normal to so many americans. Even at the preschool classes at a really big mainstream eastside church called Westminster Chapel in bellevue, the children were putting their little hands over their hearts and saying this pledge. I don't get that.
For Americans: Does the pledge seem normal to you? If you are a Christian, does it seem reconcilable with Christianity? why or why not?
For non, half, or some other proportion Americans: Is there something like this in other countries? How does it strike you?

R.I.P. Reggie

I recently learned that my lovely sister Kat's beautiful and highly intelligent horse, Reggie, died unexpectedly this past week. I didn't know Reggie very well, but I appreciated the way he helped take such good care of Kat for a number of years, and I know she will miss him greatly. Katness--I'm sorry for your loss. I hope Reggie is enjoying far greener pastures and that someday you two will meet again

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bridgestone/Firestone and Liberia

I learned today that my ex employer, also largest tyre and rubber company in the world, Bridgestone/Firestone, is in some public relations trouble for the slave like conditions under which their workers eke out a living on their enormous rubber plantations in Liberia, one of the world's Least Developed Countries. This was fascinating to me on three counts: I used to work for Firestone, I'm interested in social justice and related issues, and I once hung out for a week with a bunch of rubber plantation workers and their families in rural Liberia.

So my suggestion for the time being is: next time you have to buy tires (see, now I've used both the Commonwealth and the American Spellings in this post. Very mulitcultural of me), don't buy from firestone or Bridgestone, and don't buy tyres manufactured by firestone/bridgestone.

I have more proactive ideas about this issue in my idea mill and shall post about them soonish.

By the way, totally as an aside, it was fascinating to learn firsthand where the rubber in our tires actually comes from, and to see it being harvested from the rubber trees. I have at least a couple good stories I shall share over the next coupla days about the lovely people I met there in Liberia.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


From the Italian influenza or "influences"--originally thought to be the result of bad astrological influences, and later called influenza di freddo or "influence of the cold" It's at least 2400 years old, and it's most infamous iteration was "The Spanish Lady", which killed 50 to 100 million people world wide in 1918-1919, and was recently reconstructed by (completely off their rockers) scientists right here in Seattle in a Biosafety Level 3 Lab. Doesn't that make you feel safe, that they were reconstructing it in a biosafety level 3 lab? I feel totally okay about, considering the amazing record of the scientific community at large to keep us all safe.
Anyway, I digress. The virus is 80 to 120 nanometers in diamter (a nanometer is 10^-9 meters-very very tiny). That's still bigger than the (correct me if I'm wrong here you technological ones) the size of transistors currently being (printed, etched, ....put) on integrated circuits (microprocessors), which will be moving downward in size to a mere 45 nanometers later this year. I'm pretty sure this size is actually impossible to get one's head around. I mean you can't *see* it, so how do you visualize? It's all happening *way* down there on the size scale.
So anyway, I'm pretty sure Megan and Eowyn and Coco all have influenza. Wiki says "common symptoms of influenza infection are fever, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, and weakness and fatigue" My poor three girls have had and continue to have, between the three of them, every single one of these symptoms. I, on the other hand, have only felt mildly yucky. I think I might have gotten some milder iteration earlier in the winter and so my immune response this time was quicker.
If you pray, please pray for Megan and girl number one and girl number two (who just turned 3, bless her!). It's been 10 whole days now with these nastly little horrors replicating in their cells, and it hasn't been fun for them. Thankyou.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

quote of the week

Found on Banzai's blog, buried way down in the comments on one of his posts:

Seattle is such a great place. We have two Mars Hills: one to smack us around and the other to spend the next decade examining what it means.

This won't mean much to non-insiders. But to those who know both seattle mars hills, it's quite funny. Here's Mars Hill #1, and Mars Hill #2 (not neccesarily in that order). You figure it out. Good luck.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday video

Mr. Deity and The Evil

Carl Rogers, Vispassana and February U.S. executions

My recentish thoughts:

I. I want to be more like Carl Rogers--I want to have these three things at the top of my list of ways of relating to people: 1. Genuineness (both being aware of my moment-by-moment thoughts and feelings in the relationship, and choosing to appropriately communicate those moment by moment) , 2. Warmth (unconditional positive regard), and 3. Empathy (being able and willing to see and interact with the world as the other sees and interacts with the world).

II. I want to do a Vispassana 10 day meditation course. The lab I am ... entering at UW is very much (and increasingly) interested in mindfulness, and mindfulness, of course, is just the westernization of a lot of really great stuff from so called "Eastern religions", including this course. Learning this seems to have almost universal positive results, and Dr. Marlatt and his fellows are using it, for instance, to significantly help alcoholics to recover.

III. The United States is set to execute three people in February, all in Texas. There are 129 nations which pretty much no longer use the death penalty, while there are 69 which still maintain it in law and practice. In this latest group are both the United States and the three countries which George named "The axis of evil" a few years ago: Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. Of course all irony regarding George and co has pretty much already been exhausted, hasn't it?

Read more and take action here