Thursday, May 28, 2009


LOPWMIPFMTIMAC stands for "List Of People Who Make It Possible For Me To Imagine Myself A Christian"

Google currently returns zero results for this acronym. Which means we can watch to see how long it takes them to pick up this post. (and we can also compare their elapsed time to pick up to Live search, and Yahoo, and any of several other search engines. But there's no point really, because we all know Google will beat them hands down. All of them.)

Google also says, in response to this search, "Do you mean LOWMIPFMTIMAC?" Which is uber wierd, because that acronym also returns zero results, and I have absolutely no idea what it stands for (although no doubt I could make something up).

Here's a very partial iteration of my version of LOPWMIPFMTIMAC:

Jim Henderson
Myles Toews
George Macdonald
Rose Swetman
Dick Staub
Jim Wallis
Martin Luther King Jr.
Rachel Corrie
Rachel Stanton
Joe Turner

Maybe I should also compose a LOPWMIIFMTIMAC. Nah. that wouldn't be very nice.

Obama gets it dead wrong

The Obama administration has reversed itself and is now pushing for unreleased photos of American soldiers torturing helpless prisoners to be kept secret, in oppposition to a court order from last year.

Odierno, Petraeus, General Myers, and now Obama all seem to be arguing that the photos would cause outrage among the people of many Middle Eastern nations, inciting riots, and leading to danger for U.S. troops.

They must think we're all really stupid. It's not the photos that would cause all these effects. It's the actions, committed by U.S. troops and still never dealt with in any reasonable fashion, which would cause these effects. You can put the genie back in the bottle. Trying to is a childish and ultimately futile exercise.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Naughty naughty bad North Korea

Naughty naughty bad North Korea. We have 4,000 active nuclear warheads, have spent US$5.8 trillion dollars on Nuclear weapons, and have permanently fucked up the Marshall Islands. Therefore, as those with the moral, er, that is, ability-to-project-violence high ground, we command ... er, beg you, please stop developing and testing nuclear weapons. (Did I mention all the nukes we've managed to lose and never found?)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day--force, dehumanization, redemption, and my father as metaphor.

Memorial Day is an annual U.S. holiday that for most of my life meant not much more than perhaps a paid day off work, perhaps a party with a barbecue grill and enormous amounts of food and the beginning of summer. I have never visited a veterans cemetary on Memorial Day, nor participated in any sort of community ceremony to honor fallen war heroes.

This year I find I am in a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, over just the last couple years I've found myself becoming more aware of Memorial Day in the sense of being distressed over the way in which the observance of the day advances and perpetuates our nation's full immersion in the myth of redemptive violence. On the other hand, I am thinking more than ever this year about my dad. The older I get the more it seems to me that his story has been twisted, scarred, forever painfully and perhaps irredeemably marked by his exercise of, and victimhood to, violence--brought about by his being drafted to "serve" in the nearly pointless decades long horror which the Vietnamese call "The American War."

More than perhaps at any time in my life, I want to show my father kindness, and surely this means showing him respect, and even honor. He's having a rough time--coming up on the one year anniversary of my mom--his spouse for 35 years--'s death, and in nearly constant physical agony from a shoulder which is almost completely ruined.

And yet this weekend, and especially on Monday, there will be this overwhelmingly loud, vocal, overpowering perpetuation of the myth of the United States of America--that our use of violence over the past couple hundred years has ultimately, somehow, been redemptive--that we the good have successfully employed violence to uphold all that is good, and hold back, or destroy, all that is evil. This is so clearly and overwhelmingly wrong to me, and my interior self rises up in a sort of rage and sorrow against this myth which will be shouted so loudly and quietly this Memorial Day weekend.

How do I reconcile these two? How can I show kindness to my Father, with regards to this holiday, and still somehow refrain from simply allowing the powerful, incindiary myth to be perpetuated while I stand silent?

Looking for answers to these questions, I revisited Simone Weil's essay "The Iliad, or The Poem of Force" today. She expresses so perfectly, for me, the place that it feels I am moving toward with regards to the question of the usefulness and consequences of force, or violence. Allow me to quote:

"Thus it happens that those who have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed. But at the time their own destruction seems impossible to them. For they do not see that th eforce in their possession is only a limited quantity; nor do they see their relations with other human beings as a kind of balance between unequal amounts of force. Since other people do not impose on their movements that pause, that interval of histation, wherein lies all our consideration for our brothers in humanity, they conclude that destiny has given complete license to them, and none at all to their inferiors. And at this point they exceed the measure of the force that is actually at their disposal. Inevitably they exceed it, since they are not aware that is is limited. And now we seem them committed irretrievably to chance; suddenly things cease to obey them. Sometimes chance is kind to them, sometimes cruel. But in any case there they are, exposed, open to misfortune; gone is the armor of power that formerly protected their naked souls; nothin, no shield, stands between them and tears."

Somehow it feels like my father becomes, in my mind, a sort of representative--a metapor, for our whole nation. But we don't see it. Nearly nobody, tomorrow on Memorial Day, is going to draw links between the ravages that our violence has accomplished against "the other", and against our particular selves, and the fact that to the extent that we as a *nation* have chosen to commit ourselves to the course of violence, we shall as a *nation* surely not escape these same ravages.

Weil argues that force ultimately reduces both its perpetrators and its victims to things--to something less than human. To what extent has this happened to my father, and to what extent to myself? And in seeking redemption--in seeking to become human--in seeking to find and nurture and love and respect and honor that within my father which is human--in doing these things, shall I find a place or a way where I can imagine hope and redemption for the U.S.?

Friday, May 22, 2009


  This blog seems to be taking quite a break.  I've switched my blogging effort over to facebook. So feel free to friend me on facebook.  Or leave a complaint or two here and maybe I'll pick this back up =)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

the myth of redemptive violence

Christian torture and proselytization

So, illegally torture them, and then illegally proselytize them. Hallelujah. Guns, cluster weapons, Apache gunships, electrocution, waterboarding, and Jesus baby!

"Holy holy holy ...."

"The special forces guys--they hunt men, basically. We do the same thing as Christians--we hunt people for Jesus. Hunt 'em down."

~Lt. Col. Gary Hensley--army command chaplain

These are soldiers at Bagram, location of the Bagram Interment Center for torturing and beating suspicious looking Afghan civilians to death

"Torture and beat to death your enemies, and by all means make sure they get copies of the New Testament in their own language"

~Jesus (American Revised Version)

Monday, May 04, 2009

The heresy of personal salvation

Jim says

The Jesus as my personal savior heresy has dominated the evangelical marketplace for almost a century. This hyper individualistic salvation for me approach is more a reflection of culture than scripture. The monological perpetrators of this view have created a salvation through us industry that currently dominates the imagination of those both inside and outside the church

He continues here.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The majority of church going U.S. Christians thing torture is justified.

According to a recent Pew Research Poll, 54% those in the U.S. who attend religious services at least weekly think that torture can often or sometimes be justified.

I guess Jesus did say "Hate your enemy". Maybe they're onto something.

Recent notes

I've taken to putting stuff on facebook rather than here.

Both our 5 and our 7 year old daughter have taken the "rotten egg" paradigm in a slightly different manner. When I was a kid, it was "Last one to _______ (fill in the blank) is a rotten egg" The idea was to not be the last one, and thus avoid being a rotten egg. Our two daughters have switched it over to "First one to ________ (fill in the blank) is a rotten egg", and the idea is to be the first one then and thus achieve the vaunted status of rotten egg. This strikes me as so delightful that I've never corrected them.

Recently anti-government (that is, Ron Paulish types) friends of mine have attached the feds response to swine flu from two angles. On the one hand, they are over reacting. And on the other hand, they failed to act quickly enough.

We currently have a president of the U.S. who's willing to say no to torture on principal. That kicks ass.

People are kind. Yesterday, Megsie lost the car keys in an enormous field of tulips. 4 kindly Mexicans spent 40 minutes searching the field for her, and found them. That especially rocks since Americans took a lot of land from Mexico by questionable means.

question for the day: If such a choice exists, is it better to be tortured, or to be the torturer? Why?