Monday, June 30, 2008

My predictions for the Electoral College, 2008

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Will Google be effectively picking the U.S. president from now on?

barack obama

john mccain


barack obama

hillary clinton


george bush

john kerry


(Note: the George Bush/John Kerry figures from 2004 accurately reflect the actual winner, if you put back in all the votes stolen from John Kerry (you can't steal the google search results, I guess)

If I were John McCain, I'd just go ahead and concede now, and save myself all the wasted work.

Nuclear Holocaust

If the Human Race is wiped out altogether in a nuclear holocaust, then no one will ever feel pain or fear or depression again.

Just a thought.

(that's assuming, of course, that the eternal conscious torment (ECT) people like Ken Silva aren't right)

Maybe watching this video a couple of times will help me feel better.

Hey, waddya know? It actually worked. And I watched it for the first time ever in full screen mode, and I think that might have made it even more effective.

Back when I used to read the Bible, I used to find that reading Ecclesiastes was a good antidote to this feeling as well. For instance, even just the beginning works reasonably well, although the whole book is even more powerful (except for the bullshit conclusion at the very end. But Solomon was before Nietzsche, so he could only do so much with what he had.)

From Ecclesiastes 1 (as translated by the yotta brilliant Eugene Peterson):

These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem. Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.] There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke.
What's there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes—it's business as usual for old planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
and then start all over and do it again.
Everything's boring, utterly boring—
no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There's nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it's the same old thing.
Does someone call out, "Hey, this is new"?
Don't get excited—it's the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody'll remember them either.
Don't count on being remembered.
I've Seen It All
Call me "the Quester." I've been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there's not much to write home about. God hasn't made it easy for us. I've seen it all and it's nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened,
A minus that won't add up.

I said to myself, "I know more and I'm wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I've stockpiled wisdom and knowledge." What I've finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

Much learning earns you much trouble.
The more you know, the more you hurt.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Memories of my mom?

I created a public facebook page for my mom, for people to write their memories about her, post photos, etc. Thank you for any thing you choose to share. =)

Or if you don't want to sign up for facebook, I also created a blogspot blog for leaving memories about her as well.

There will be a memorial service probably on Thursday, July 10th, in Monroe, WA. You're welcome to come if you're in the area. More details forthcoming.

For some reason, it seems important to me to say that

My grandfather, David Henry Eaton Jr., who sexually abused my mother over a period of years when she was a child, and who is now 82 years old, lost his very last opportunity to ever apologize to her today. Here's what I hope for him. I hope that someone with more cunning and more gumption than me is able to ... love him in such a way that he becomes able to fully face the enormity of his crimes before he dies, and repent, and experience *real* restoration of relationship with his other victims. I know that's an insane level of hope. But there it is.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My lovely mom died this morning.

The Christians surrounding her are, for the most part, going to claim that she's now in a better place, with Jesus, walking streets of gold, etc., while at least 100,000 of the other 180,000 people who have died since yesterday morning on planet earth are currently experiencing the beginning of their eternal conscious torment in hell.

Can we get the former without the latter, I wonder?

My opinion is that, with regards to that whole deal, they are mostly wrong.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cremation vs. burial (vs. glad bag)

I'm wondering if any of you can help me understand something.

Recently a beloved close relative of mine, one who works in the Liberty University/High School education system which was founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell, reacted somewhat strongly when she learned that my mother is going to be cremated after her death. She refused to talk about it with my dad, who wanted to understand where she was coming from.

I've never heard of this before. But I did find this page on the Liberty University website, which seems to outline Falwell's views on the subject. It says, among other things

Dr. Falwell definitely believes since the Christian's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, he should plan a burial which will not involve cremation.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

According to I Corinthians 6:19-20, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit for each child of God. With this in mind, one can readily understand that, while living, the body should not be defiled with tobacco, alcohol, immoral activities and improper eating habits. This passage of Scripture would also lead us to want our body, even in death, handled with loving care, respect, and dignity.

All of us understand that in large cities where the population is dense and plots for regular burial are at a premium, it would be easy for the practice of cremation to develop. However, in crowded cities, buildings are being erected where funeral services are held and the body is deposited for keeping in that same building. These buildings accommodate a large number of bodies. Thus, it seems an alternative to cremation is possible, even in crowded cities.

This strikes me as exceedingly bizarre. But ... I'm willing to be educated. Is this a widespread belief among Christians in general? It seems shockingly ... superstitious. But probably lots of things that I think seem shockingly superstitious to people coming from a very different way of thinking than mine. What do you think about it?


edited to add:

Or, just Send Me To Glory in a Glad Bag (or alternatively, for eco-friendliness, try these,

Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren respond to James Dobson

Jim Wallis has responded to James Dobson's attack on his fellow Christian Barack Obama, saying

First, Dobson and Minnery's language is simply inappropriate for religious leaders to use in an already divisive political campaign. We can agree or disagree on both biblical and political viewpoints, but our language should be respectful and civil, not attacking motives and beliefs.

Second, and perhaps most important, is the role of religion in politics. Dobson alleges that Obama is saying:

I [Dobson] can't seek to pass legislation, for example, that bans partial-birth abortion because there are people in the culture who don't see that as a moral issue. And if I can't get everyone to agree with me, it is undemocratic to try to pass legislation that I find offensive to the Scripture. ... What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.

Contrary to Dobson's charge, Obama strongly defended the right and necessity of people of faith in bringing their moral agenda to the public square, and he was specifically critical of many on the left and in his own Democratic Party for being uncomfortable with religion in politics.

Obama said that religion is and always has been a fundamental and absolutely essential source of morality for the nation, but he also said that "religion has no monopoly on morality," which is a point I often make. The United States is not the Christian theocracy that people like James Dobson seem to think it should be. Political appeals, even if rooted in religious convictions, must be argued on moral grounds rather than as sectarian religious demands -- so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, may have the capacity to hear and respond. Religious convictions must be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don't get to win just because they are religious. They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good -- for all of us, not just for the religious.

Brian McLaren has also responded, calling for Evangelical Rhetorical Accountibility

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pot calls kettle ....

James Dobson today accuses Obama of

" ... deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology.

... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.

That cracks me up. It's so ... profoundly childish (not childlike--childish), and demonstrates exceedingly well the entire "Christian right wing" inability to either introspect or to realize that they also live in the human conundrum where they, like the rest of us, are almost definitely already deeply fallen into any trap which we find ourselves able to identify others as having fallen into. Probably, indeed, as in this case, *far* more deeply than those others whose entrapedness we recognize and name.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Top 10 ways to protect a pedophile

  1. Frame his protection as "protecting the privacy of his victims."
  2. Willingly, although perhaps inadvertently (at least at first), enter into a never-spoken-about covenant of silence about his actions with everyone else who knows about them.
  3. Convince yourself that your particular private silence is not really changing things all that much one way or the other in terms of the 300,000 children who are sexually abused every year in America.
  4. If anyone tries to break the secret covenant of silence, bully them, threaten them, and do everything in your power to make them stop.
  5. Convince yourself that the pedophile isn't doing it anymore, even if (especially if) there's not a *shred* of evidence to that end.
  6. Convince yourself that protecting him has nothing to do with your own ongoing unwillingness or inability to face the depth of the horror of what he did.
  7. Convince yourself that sexual interaction between an adult and a child, in this particular case, didn't *really* constitute sexual abuse.
  8. Convince yourself that the only way to avoid bitterness and unforgiveness is to continue to protect the perpetrator.
  9. Convince yourself that it's actually more loving toward the perpetrator, or toward others, to continue to hide what happened.
  10. Justify yourself to yourself (and others) by using Bible verses and passages and stories to accomplish points 1 through 9.
Totally confidential professional help available for both victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse available at the helpline, which is 1-888-PREVENT (That's 1-888-773-8368)

Also: Don't wait: Everyday actions to keep kids safe

Friday, June 20, 2008

Solstice Moon

I think today's astronomy photo of the day is just so beautiful.

Today's solstice marks the northernmost point of the Sun's annual motion through planet Earth's sky and the astronomical beginning of the northern hemisphere's summer. But only two days ago, the Full Moon nearest the solstice rose close to the ecliptic plane opposite the Sun, near its southernmost point for the year. Astronomer Anthony Ayiomamitis recorded this dramatic picture of the solstice Full Moon rising above Cape Sounion, Greece. The twenty-four hundred year old Temple of Poseidon lies in the foreground, also visible to sailors on the Aegean Sea. In this well-planned single exposure, a telescopic lens makes the Moon loom large, but even without optical aid casual skygazers often find the Full Moon looking astonishingly large when seen near the horizon. That powerful visual effect is known as the Moon Illusion.


The McCain campaign today on Obama's decision to opt out of the public financing system for the general election:

"Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama.

"The true test of a candidate for President is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public finance system undermines his call for a new type of politics.

"Barack Obama is now the first presidential candidate since Watergate to run a campaign entirely on private funds. This decision will have far-reaching and extraordinary consequences that will weaken and undermine the public financing system."


Oh dear. Now we're really frakked.

Questions remaining to be answered:

Can Obama win with a larger margin of victory than Roosevelt's largest ever 24.3% in 1936? (You saw it here first.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I got this letter today from Mark Earley of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship. I can't decide which is more offputting--the aggressively urgent marketing tone, or the underlying message that "prison ministry" is somehow as important as the mere need to reform the justice system so we *don't* have the highest incarceration rate in the world (that is, stop locking people up like animals! Especially for completely stupid harmless stuff like possessing or smoking or selling or doing anything with marijuana. (for instance.))

Does anyone else find this as offputting as I do?

The really sad thing is that prison fellowship *does* do some really kewl work. Oh well.

Dear Benjamin,

In just 14 days, Prison Fellowship's fiscal year will come to a close. We really need your help if we are to end the year in the black AND fulfill an amazing $500,000 Matching Grant that will DOUBLE your gift today. (

While it has been a tremendous year of ministry for us, financially we are down. Due to a declining stock market and the housing crisis, our supporters have been giving less and, as a result, we face a budget shortfall of $1.4 million. At the same time, the prison population is growing, and never has our work together been more important.

The Pew Center reports that for the first time in America's history, 1 in 32 American adults is currently in prison, or on probation or parole!!

This truly is a "crime crisis." The United States has a $62 billion, 2.3 million prisoner problem with re-arrest rates of 66% and re-incarceration rates of 50% within three years after release. Shockingly, 1 out of 100 American adults are behind bars!

Now is the time to press ahead with prison ministry, not cut back! But unless friends like you help before the fiscal year ends 14 days from now, we might be compelled to make even deeper cuts into vital prison ministry programs than we already have – and this crisis will remain unanswered.

Your most generous gift today will go TWICE as far when DOUBLED by the $500,000 Matching Grant. ( Jesus truly is the answer to America's crime crisis—and your support of Prison Fellowship has put us in a position to proclaim His Good News behind bolted doors.

So please, visit our secure website ( and give as generously as you are able today. And, more importantly, I hope you will continue to keep Prison Fellowship in your prayers.

In His grace,

Mark Earley

P.S. We need your prayers and full support to meet this Matching Grant challenge! ( If God leads you to help, please don't put it off – we have just 14 days left and much work to do.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eulogy--I can't do this

Somehow it came about that I am requested by my father to write and then say a eulogy for my mother's memorial service.

I told him I thought I could do it. But I think I must have lied.

Have any of you ever written/given a eulogy?

The things that come out of my brain, through my fingers, through the keyboard, and onto the page ... involve rather a lot of ... darkness. Then there is ... a good bit of light as well. But ...

It seems like there is a real danger of the darkness overwhelming the light. And that doesn't seem to be the way it should be. Even though that's the way it feels like the "real world" (ha, see how metanarrative tries to creep in) is.

If we refuse to try to impose metanarrative into the local narrative, then surely it's reasonable to acknowledge that there exist local narratives which are profoundly dark. Or as Megan put it a while ago--what about those people who live and die in darkness, alone?

Is it wrong, somehow, at a memorial service, to acknowledge that the weave of quilt 57 years in the weaving is largely composed of dark threads?

Is the work of a eulogist to tell *their own* story about the deceased? Or does the eulogist have an even harder job than that? And even if their work is only to tell *their own* story, that still leaves questions about the work of a story teller. Is a story teller allowed to tell story that is profoundly dark, story that brings intense heaviness, story that manages somehow to get in touch with the underlying fallenness of the world? I mean ... see how meta narrative keeps creeping in. Some would insist the story teller must include at least as powerful a redemption element as their fall of humanity element. What if, from the storytellers point of view, the redemption element is only approximately as strong as the fallenness element? Or what if the redemption element seems somewhat weaker than the fallenness element.

See. Metanarrative seems unavoidable. So much for being post modern.

I've got the "acknowledge the darkness" thing down. It's the "surprise with glory" bit I can't seem to get a grasp on.

Maybe I'll just give up. Wait. Not "Maybe". "Probably", rather.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

God-talk volume control--a rant

My lovely mother is very very close to dying, and I've been hanging out at her house yesterday evening and today.

Various people have been hanging out there as well--some of them members of her FOO (that's "family of origin", for the uninitiated), and others old friends. *All* of them, so far, seem to be falling into one of two categories, in terms of their reactions:

1. People who turn up the control knob on something I call "God-talk" to maximum.
2. People who don't do that.

The split is about 50/50.

The God-talk people *seem* to be very uncomfortable with silence. My mom, who is largely unresponsive/half-asleep much of the time, isn't *visibly* able to respond to what people are saying when she's in that state. My inclination in response to her when she's like that is to be quiet and present. The God-talk people's inclination is to direct God talk at her. I find I can't cope with that, so I have to leave the room, wait for them to leave the room, then I can go back and be quiet. That or say something to them about it. But if I were to attempt to say something to them, it would come out with a lot of attached anger and sarcasm and other things that really don't have anything to do with them. So i refrain. There it is.

I wish I had some psychic control of their God-talk volume knob. I'd turn it right down.

One thing I've noticed is that the presence of the people from category 1 above makes me incredibly grateful for, and rather full of general good feelings toward, the people in category 2. So I go complain to the category 2 people about the God-talk, where/when the category 1 people can't hear, and they seem to generally identify with my frustration.

Meanwhile I find myself mentally writing drafts for my comments at my mom's memorial service, and trying to find some kind of balance, in said drafts, between not being so completely off the wall that so many barriers go up in people's minds/hearts that they are unable to hear what I'm saying whatsoever (on the one hand) and yet being *enough* myself (that is, off-the-wall) that I'm able to draw them a little bit this direction (into off-the-wall land). And by off-the-wall here, I mean ... I want to convince them of how good they have it--of how *astoundingly* much power they have, and they *must* (ought to, should, it would behoove them to, need to, etc. etc.) open their eyes, and give it away give it away give it away now.

*And* that the lies *are* lies, and not truth. Because whereas I haven't *quite* nailed down my YES yet (although I'm getting there), I have a fairly good feeling for my NO already.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Frank Schaeffer says McCain a cad

The idea of the folks who uphold the "sanctity of marriage" joining forces with this man is mind boggling. They choose divorce and abandonment over commitment. So much for consistency. Talk about straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel!


The Democratic Party (unlike the Republican's evangelical base) is not selling itself on personal moral rectitude. But the fact is that Senator Obama and his wife Michelle are the model of traditional morality.

Evangelicals and other members of the right are in a strange position. The candidate representing their "Christian values" is a disaster, while their "godless" opponent -- variously described as "a Muslim," "unpatriotic," "hates America," and "pro-abortion," etc., etc., walks the walk of bedrock America.

By contrast McCain has not only broken the rules of decent family conduct, by tossing over his wife in her hour of need--a wife who loyally waited for him and raised his children -- but he has broken his much vaunted military moral code of honor too.

McCain says he belongs to the fraternity that "never leaves a man behind," much less a wounded comrade. But that is exactly what he did to his wounded and disfigured wife.

One reason Obama will win is because evangelicals are going to have trouble swallowing the jagged chunk of awkward moral hypocrisy that is John McCain. They are also going to have a hard time hating Obama, whose personal life mirrors their values, who's religious beliefs are sincere and humbly and devoutly Christian and who's family devotion is authentic.

Read the whole article here

Monday, June 09, 2008

Quoteo of the week: Really *really* really?

"Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?"

(Editor's note. This quote is actually somewhat disappointing. If we are going to be redundant, then we ought to be really redundant, and thus there should really be another "really" in between "you" and "believe")

The quote is from here, promoting this web site.

Warning--don't be sucked into believing you have to give a yes or no answer to this question, just because of how it is framed. *Were* you to be thusly sucked in, you would be allowing yourself to be chained down by limits of modernism--a rather yucky place to find yourself.

(On the other hand, you have to give FOTF some credit for this)

Free Obama Bumper Sticker!

From Very kewl. Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Light trails

Today's astronomy photo of the day is kewl.

It's a composite image of two different two minute exposures which were taken 20 minutes apart in southern Germany. The left streak is the trail of the recent space shuttle mission--racing to rendezvous with the international space station. The right streak is the international space station. If you go to this version of the photo and hold your mouse cursor over it, you can also see labels for other things that show up in the photo.

You can get the astronomy photo of the day automatically set as your desktop background every day using this software. (or this version for windows vista)(and maybe this one for macs?)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The internet

is ... distracting. So I'm supposed to be working on math homework, and I end up finding this:

If you don't understand that cartoon, you're about where I was when I first saw it. This helped.

I have a perfectly legitimate excuse. I went to the home page of my math 310 class, fully intending to download the homework assignment so I could start it. But I remembered that my professor had told me she had posted a cartoon about Fermat's last Theorem. So I popped over to look at it. And noticed it was from here. So I popped over there to see what else they had, and found the above. Here's the original distracting cartoon.

See what I mean? (Now back to the math!)


Quote of the week:

"If someone isn’t humble, I explain that they’re dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1), children of the devil (1 John 3:10), and enemies with God (Col. 1:21). This can be done very reasonably and inoffensively,"

from Bill over on DE Thoughts.

Americans murdering Iraqis in the most violent nation on earth

According to the legal analysis of murder on wikipedia's murder page:

To repeat, a common law murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human person with malice aforethought if the defendant acts with any of the following states of mind:

(i) Intent to kill; (ii) Intent to inflict serious bodily harm; (iii) Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (abandoned and malignant heart); or (iv) Intent to commit a felony (felony-murder doctrine).

I know it's old news. But the May totals for civilian deaths in Iraq are up on


Do the 63 fall under condition iii above?

Meanwhile, Lily Hamourtizadou reminds us this week that in all the careful tracking of violent civilian deaths in U.S. occupied Iraq, we mustn't forget all those who have been injured in what is now the most violent nation on earth. 11,000 injured during the first 5 months of 2008. Including
Abu Shahd, a wage earner from Baghdad's al-Doura area who found himself partially paralyzed after a stray bullet struck him in the back and severed his spinal cord.

Speaking to Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI), Umma Shahd, his wife, said, "He used to be quiet and he did love his job, but after the accident, he became high-strung and turned our life into a living hell."

Faris al-Ubeidi, a social researcher, pointed out that the disabled are ‘the most marginalized sector in Iraqi society’ (Voices of Iraq 24 May).

Global Peace Index recently released their rankings of countries for 2008. Iraq has slipped to the very bottom of the list--the least peaceful, most violent nation on the face of the planet. Here's to American exports.

Frak Cancer and war. Or in the words of the much aligned Jermiah Wright: God damn America.

Monday, June 02, 2008


cancer. I'm ... *experiencing* (at one level) exactly why it is *so* astoundingly evil to compare humans to a disease with statements like "________ is a cancer", where you fill in the blank with the people group or belief system with which you disagree.

According to this passage (and this one, among others), the god of abraham, isaac and jacob had (has?) the ability to see people groups in this light. Does this make him evil? Beyond that--if it's so relatively easy for him to wipe out people groups like they were a cancer, why can't he wipe out cancer itself? It turns out that Yahweh isn't really all that much more powerful than any of the other gods--they all lack the ability to fix the really frakked shit in the universe.

This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through, I'm pretty sure (although I don't have the current live experience of all the other hard things to actually compare it to--only my memories of them, and memory is notoriously unreliable.).

You know how children can regress under a lot of stress? Like ... for instance, a toddler who is night potty trained can revert to nighttime incontinence after a big stressor like moving houses.

I find myself doing that--reverting to ... wanting to frame the world from my previous Christian/Bible etc. perspective. Of course it works about as well now as it it did during my deconversion. But there it is.

Pet peeve:

People using "um" in writing, when it's not a representation of verbal dialogue (as in: "then Jehosophat said 'Well, um, ah, maybe we could just kill her outright'.")