Saturday, July 08, 2006

Learning new songs together

Photo credit Iain Kerr, Ocean Alliance

Katharine Jefferts Schori, speaking about humpback whales...
When they come together--they come together a couple of times a year, one of the places is off the Hawaiian islands. They come together for a time, and while they are together, they learn a new song. Each of their individual songs changes, and they begin to sing a common tune. When they go home again, they teach that song to their neighbors in their home localities, and over the coming months, that song changes again. And the next time they come back together, they learn a new song together.
More from the Presiding Bishop Elect of the Episcopal Church here. Something that impressed me from the most recent interview I listened to, is that she was a trailblazer as a female oceanographer twenty-some years ago. Facing resistance is not a new experience for her.

Alternate link for comments

Jean Hay Bright (D-ME) for U.S. Senate

From mainefem...

Please add Jean Hay Bright D-ME) for U.S. Senate, also, Renee? Done. And she's listed on the Howard-Empowered Act Blue page as well.

She has zilch seed monies--had to run in a primary w/a good-enough progressive Dem. (won it by a mere 600 votes--disgustingly low turnout in the primary!); so is starting over from scratch.

David & Jean are down in So. ME today (Lisbon/Lewiston area), and there's very little WiFi up here; which makes blogging dicey (she did start an account on Booman; and is ready to diary on Kos--but does have pricey DSL @her home/office on the farm--according to what David told me--her hubster, treasurer, campaign mgr., and all 'round utility person)!

Blogging while stumping up here is difficult--due to the rural nature of ME (high speed internet access is an issue up here, for sure).

Snowe has over $2M in her coffers.

Snowe must be a tad nervous, as she's already opened a campaign office/hired staff in Bangor--that's unheard of--candidates always have their main offices in Portland (and if Snowe is that 'secure' in her position, she wouldn't have bothered--esp. this early on).

So, Snowe is indeed concerned about at least CD#2 (which comprises the vast nature of ME's geography/voter demographics, actually).

Jean does openly list her F.E.C. monies on her portal; and no--she does not/will not waste people's hard-earned monies on "consultants."


She's very frugal (same as yours truly!)--is cognizant about snail mail contributions as more desirable (very patient person), as the campaign doesn't have to deduct the credit card "processing fees."

Maine has clean elections monies, but *not* for federal candidates (otherwise, Jean would gladly opt for that route--we've worked diligently over the years to initiate and maintain the clean elections' coffers--it ain't easy)!

They only cover state legislative candidates, local/municipal/county positions, and Gubernatorial.

Boxer has her listed on PAC for Change; and I absolutely don't know why Boxer has listed Bob Casey as "progressive." Blows my mind--i.e., how Dems. across the country are coopting the word "progressive" (DLC is notorious for doing that, for instance).

Progressive female Democratic candidates don't win races, as the seed monies simply aren't there (which is why Emily's List exists), but they don't focus upon *progressive* female Dems.

Bob Fertik (over @ImpeachPAC) did endorse Jean re: his PAC, so that was a boost when she needed it after the primary (flat broke).

From Renee: I also added the other suggested candidates from the comments to the sidebar, but have not yet added them to the Act Blue page. Patience, grasshoppers. ;-)

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Saturday Comics

There's an old saying about biting off more than you can chew that would have done this python some good in the Everglades - he learned the meaning of Pyrrhic Victory tout de suite. Now for the comics:

And my favorite for today: Declaration Of Independence

Alternate link to the comments

Friday, July 07, 2006

Howard Dean on The Situation Room (CNN)

He was just on, and CNN's transcript can be found here. For those who missed it--I missed the beginning of it myself--Howard said pretty much what we expected Howard to say about the Lieberman/Lamont race.

KING: Well, I want to talk to you for a few minutes about what it means to be a Democrat. As you know, Senator Joseph Lieberman faces a primary challenge in his home state of Connecticut. Senator Lieberman's position seems to be, I'm a good Democrat unless someone dares to challenge me in the primary, then I reserve the right to get on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.

Right now, is that a loyal Democrat? Is Joe Lieberman welcome in the Democratic Party, assuming he loses the primary, but wins the election?

DEAN: We don't get involved in primaries, the Democratic National Committee. Others can do that if they want to. We don't do that. We have to be an impartial arbitrator. What we do do is support Democrats and try to get Democrats to win.


KING: So help me. Let me just, let me ...

DEAN: And John, we allow the voters to decide who is a Democrat, so whoever the voters choose in Connecticut is who we're going to support.

KING: And would you then lean on the senatorial committee and use Democratic National Committee funds, if necessary, should Ned Lamont, if he beats Joe Lieberman in the primary, get financial support? Should Chairman Dean go up there and campaign for him? Should Democrats who are friends of Joe Lieberman go up there and campaign for him?

DEAN: John, I'm going to campaign for the Democratic nominee, and if it's Joe Lieberman, you're going to see me alongside Joe Lieberman. If it's Ned Lamont, you're going to see me alongside Ned Lamont. We don't get involved in primaries. We do support the Democratic nominee chosen by the people in the Democratic Party in Connecticut.
Back with a picture of Howard for this thread--how about "people-powered" Howard from the DNC's 50-state Canvass...

UPDATE from Maura in the comments:

Transcripts are great and all, but don'tcha want to see VIDEO of the Gov? 'Course we do! I just couldn't find any.

Visit one of our great bloggers here in CT for the video from the Gov on Situation Room today:
Thanks, Maura!

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Blog for America PSA, and a request

Since people have stopped by over the past week and asked what's going on with Blog for America, I thought I should say something about that on the front page here. However, I haven't been following it too closely between being busy and finding it harder to follow what's going on there since the commenting moved to DFA-link. But I can at least frontpage the questions and answers from the comments so that they are easier to find. If I am leaving anything out, you can let me know in the comments.

Oh, I just went over to the other blog and if I read it correctly (big if) there's not going to be a blog with comments any more unless you sign up for DFA Link, and that's where you'll go to comment. I can't tell if this is a big change or no big deal. But I'll be annoyed if I sign up and get spammed.
Shelley | 07.06.06 - 10:34 pm

Well, that leaves me out because my DFA link name is not my blog name.

I wrote and asked them how to change it,
but so far no response.
listener | Homepage | 07.07.06 - 11:20 am

You just have to go into your profile and change your name to your blog name. If you want a one-word blog name just enter a single (blank) space as your last name.
Demetrius | 07.07.06 - 11:37 am

Thanks Demetrius.

This just in, as well.
(I wonder if Luigi lurks here. Hi Luigi! )

You can navigate to "My Account" on the right side of the page and "Contact Info". Here, you can change your name to whatever you want it to be (you can put listener as the first name, and just a blank space as the last name)

- Luigi Montanez
Deputy Technology Director
listener | Homepage | 07.07.06 - 11:39 am

Now for the request. Since I am now blessed with some "time off" from work before the next project (other people are happy about it, but I'd just as soon be working), I am updating the Affiliate Sites page. I'm removing most of the links from the bottom of the page like iTunes, Netflix, etc. because those are all through Linkshare which has proved to be way too high maintenance for the benefit I've gotten out of it. So I'm planning to replace those links with links to products at Cafe Press, like jc's and the ones at the National Nurse and Disabled Americans for Democracy stores. Any others I should add? Also, I would like to add more links to specific books, and would welcome any recommendations.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Politics: The "art of living together in community"

Between Lieberman and his bad attitude, and Ted Stevens and his "tubes" (ultimately very serious even though we've gotten a laugh out of it) it's feeling like a "bad wolf" kinda night. So now you're going to get some Bishop Katharine.

More from Diane Rehm's interview with Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Diane Rehm asks Katharine Jefferts Schori if she feels able to speak out on political issues, or if she is restrained in some way.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I've made major statements about the Federal Budget the last time around, and on immigration issues. The church has a voice to contribute to the conversation, and I think it's essential that we do so. Obviously, if we're a nonprofit organization, we can't promote one particular candidate or one particular political initiative. But we have a responsibility as Christians to express our moral understanding of the implications of actions of Congress, and our government, and I think we need to do more of that work probably than less.

Do you think that there has been a certain restraint in the last few years on the part of the church?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Perhaps in some quarters. In others, I see a growing willingness to engage. I think the work around Millennium Development Goals has been a politically motivated initiative in the large sense of what that word "politics" means. I understand it as the art of living together in community. We are called to transform the world around us as Christians, into something that looks more like the reign of God. And the last time I checked, I don't think the hungry are all being fed, I don't think the ill people are all being provided with healthcare. We have work to do.
If we're called to love our neighbors, we can't do it simply by sitting in our church pews. We have to get out into the world and work at it.

Caller Mike in St. Louis, Missouri asked her to go into more details about the Millenium Development Goals, for listeners who might not be familiar with them.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Forty or so years ago, some economists sat down and asked what would it take to solve human poverty. And they did some calculations and they said if all the developed nations of the world gave 7/10 of one percent of their annual incomes, we could solve poverty in our own day. And that is reality, the UN voted to endorse that vision in 2000. The churches of the Anglican Communion, through their bishops, acknowledged that that was a laudable goal in 1998. The Episcopal Church signed on in 2000, and seventy-some dioceses of this church have also signed on to that.

The Millenium Development Goals include feeding the one-third of the world's poor who go to bed hungry every night, they include proviging maternal healthcare for expectant mothers, adequate clean water and sanitation, sustainable environmental development, partnerships for sustainable development working on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, providing childhood vaccines around the world, and primary education for girls and boys.

They're an achieveable vision that is possible by the year 2025, so within 9 years. Several nations in Europe already give at the 7/10 of one percent level. The United States gives at about one fourth of that level, and one of the things we ask our congregations to do is to encourage their people to lobby their legislators--to encourage their legislators to step up to the plate so that we can resolve the needs of some people who are suffering across the world.

Crossposted at Street Prophets, Daily Kos, My Left Wing, and Booman Tribune. Also, just before bed last night, I discovered that my Calling a truce in the "fish wars" diary at Kos had been "rescued" and featured as a link in the Open Thread, so it ended up getting a lot more comments than it would have otherwise. Click here to check out the discussion.

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Open Thread

New stories in the High Springs Herald

Except for his home, Grapski now banned from Alachua
By Ronald Dupont Jr.

Commisioners gave themselves pay raise without allowing residents to comment
By Ronald Dupont Jr.

The Lamont/Lieberman debate will be viewable on C-SPAN tonight.

There will be updates at the Ned Lamont Blog and Firedoglake. You can donate to Lamont's campaign through the Howard-Empowered Act Blue page.

Update: Great updates at My Left Nutmeg. And Maura's there!

Howard-Empowered Act Blue Page

Senator Stevens explaining the internet

"The Internet is a series of tubes."

Click here for the rest of this "Power Point presentation".

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

DSCC/Lieberman Action Item

Via Firedoglake

CNN is reporting (video clip) that an anonymous Senior Staffer at the DSCC says that the DSCC will likely support the winner of the Connecticut primary.

Call the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 202-224-2447 or email them here. Tell them that the unsourced CNN report from a senior DSCC staffer isn't enough - although it is an awfully good step, and you are happy to see them take it. Ask if there is to be an official announcement on this at some point, and report back and let us know what you find out. Also, try calling the DSCC leadership members:

DSCC leadership phone numbers - call Reid and Schumer and then your regional leader and Lincoln as the women's leader:

Harry Reid 202-224-3542
Nevada Senator/ Senate Democratic Leader

Charles Schumer 202-224-6542
New York Senator, DSCC Chair

Barbara Boxer 202-224-3553
California Senator/ California Vice Chair

Barack Obama 202-224-2854
Illinois Senator/ Midwest Vice Chair

Mark Pryor 202-224-2353
Arkansas Senator/ Southern Vice Chair

Jack Reed 202-224-4642
Rhode Island Senator/ Northeast Vice Chair

Ron Wyden 202-224-5244
Oregon Senator/ Western Vice Chair

Blanche Lincoln 202-224-4843
Arkansas Senator/ Women's Senate Network Chair
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Open Thread

Via Cute Overload:

Tonight, you rest easy knowing that one of the MANY questions you constantly ask yourself is finally answered: Just how many kilograms of fish can one cat carry? Inquiring Japanese minds found the answer for you! Click below to find out - and, sleep well, my friends.

And before I turn in, a couple Ted Stevens links, for anyone who missed this:

Ted Stevens Still Amazed, Terrified by Intercontinental Telegraphy
Firedoglake tells us why we should care.

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Calling a truce in the "fish wars"

Yesterday, in the parking lot at a local Target, I saw another one of those "Jesus fish" symbols on someone's car. It reminded me of the "Darwin was an Anglican" bumper sticker that jc recently made. And then I thought of the whole amusing-but-sad-in-a-way story of the"fish wars".

You know, the one that started out with this, simple, "Jesus fish".

Religious has a history of the Christian fish symbol here, including a piece I remember hearing about its early use...

The symbol was simple to draw and was often used among Christians as a type of password during times of persecution by the Roman government. If two strangers met and were unsure whether each other was a Christian, one would draw an arc in the earth like:). If the other were a Christian, they would complete the symbol with a reverse arc: (), forming the outline of a fish.
The article goes on to say that in recent times, the Christian fish symbol has been appearing on the trunk lids of cars, and that it has inspired secularists, atheists, and promoters of the theory of evolution to respond with variations on the theme. Here's a familiar example of one of those parodies.

And at some point, the one of the "Jesus fish people" responded with, "Oh yeah?! Take *this* Darwin fish!"

Well, that was the most recent development of which *I* was aware, until I saw in this article that
Evolutionists wanted blood, a gill for a gill. Naturally, they selected a newly evolved critter, a "Reality Bites" fish eating a smaller Christian fish.

Here's the funny thing...I attended 8 years of Catholic elementary school and 4 years of Catholic high school. In the early grades, I learned the biblical creation story in religion class, and at some point (I can't rememeber quite when) I learned the theory of evolution in science class. I *never* encountered a teacher who discounted the theory of evolution.

I was glad to see that the General Convention, in Resolution A129, came right out and said that
the theory of evolution provides a fruitful and unifying scientific explanation for the emergence of life on earth, that many theological interpretations of origins can readily embrace an evolutionary outlook, and that an acceptance of evolution is entirely compatible with an authentic and living Christian faith;

But then it's also a little sad in a way that the statement needed to be made. There's too much of a black and white, either/or, "you're with us or against us" mentality in the world these days. In an article on the "fish wars" I read about one young woman's reaction to the evolution fish...
It's a disappointing development to a person such as Jenny Block, a 20-year-old Michigan State University student who just wanted to profess her faith with her "Jesus Is Lord" fish. Silver and shiny, it's a little beacon on the back of her Dodge Neon.

"When I see another fish or something that is pro-Christianity, it makes me smile," she said. "I love that. I love to know I'm in company with other people."

The leggy fish, though, is a Christian downer. She interprets the evolved fish to be a sign that the driver doesn't believe in God.

"They've chosen not to believe in the creator of the world," she said.

Jenny--that's NOT TRUE! Your logic doesn't follow. It's not a case where believing one means denying the other, and I hope that in your time in college you were able to learn that. We really all need to learn to talk to one another about these things. And listen to one another too. Bumper stickers are not enough.

But maybe they're a start. ;-)

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Happy Birthday, America!

Since it *is* the 4th, I'm reposting the flyer. After all, it won't be topical again for another year!

Click here to get your own printable flyer. If you don't have a color printer, it still works pretty well in black and white. Feel free to share it at any Independence Day festivities you attend this weekend.

You can also check out 4th of July posts at pyzch and jc's design blog. And see Oscar's take on "Dependence Day" over at Underground Railroad. has our message from the gov: "Chairman Howard Dean's Statement on Independence Day"

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement celebrating our nation's independence.

"Today, America celebrates our independence and the values our democracy holds dear: freedom, liberty, and justice for all. As we celebrate today, we also honor our brave troops, their families and our veterans for the sacrifices they make in service to our nation."
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Monday, July 03, 2006

Charlie now at a safe distance, city business goes on, uh, peacefully?

I just got an update from the Alachua City Commission meeting. (I am banned from the city you know - gotta protect them from me!).

All hell nearly broke loose tonight.

It started as the City placed on the consent agenda an item for the taxpayers of FLORIDA to pay $1 million to pave a driveway for the WalMart distribution center (and by the way - it goes the LONG way - so there are 2000 other acres of commercial development that will now get a free paved road - not to mention the sewer and other utilities that they conned the taxpayers into paying).

John Prosser got up - and made a point of information - and the Mayor went ballistic.

She eventually read from the Municipal administration handbook on what can be on a consent agenda (and amazingly she thought this came to their defense) - which stated that only ROUTINE PROCLAMATIONS could be placed on there. Of course this is consistent with my claims - which are that such maneuvers can not be used for either substantive legislation or any debatable/controversial matter (even proclamations). So she read into the record what I have been asking for her to recognize - but she did not even realize the significance of this (that is Hugh's wife by the way).

She ranted and raved and threatened to throw John out. Then Connie, and a whole host of others, spoke out in CItizen Comments about the abuses of the City.

The meeting is still going on. But I am sure they are not very happy. They had a reverend open the meeting - with a call for peace and harmony in the City of Alachua.

Charlie Grapski

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Lieberman starting petition drive (just in case)

Clicking the graphic above will take you to the "No Republican Lites" section of jc's Cafe Press store. There are so many pictures I *could* have used to accompany this story, but refrained out of consideration for those among you, my readers. This, for example, would have been right out. This would have turned a few stomachs as well.

Okay, who are the Democrats who stepped forward and endorsed Joe Lieberman in the primary--presumably because sticking together is what good Democrats do? I know that Barack Obama did, and that was certainly a disappointment. But I'm pretty sure a number of other Dems with national name recognition did as well. We should start contacting them and asking if they plan to withdraw their endorsements in light of today's news.

From the Hartford Courant: Lieberman To Start Petition Drive
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is to announce today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an "independent Democrat," giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.
Read the rest here.

And don't forget that you can donate to Ned Lamont via our Howard-Empowered Act Blue page.

Update, courtesy of Time Magazine, some of the Democrats who have thrown their support behind Joementum.
Lieberman, of course, also has powerful backers. Reid, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have all spoken or written letters encouraging Democrats to back him. He said Joe Biden, another Democratic foreign policy hawk and a likely 2008 presidential contender, will come to the state and campaign for him. And Lamont says as recently a few weeks ago, even as he was investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign, Charles Schumer, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, asked him to drop out. Schumer has told colleagues he thinks that if Lieberman lost the primary, it would send a bad signal to moderate voters and might hurt the party's chances of winning Senate seats in places like Montana and Missouri in November.

Will they be withdrawing their call for loyalty to Lieberman now that Lieberman has made it clear that his own feelings of "party loyalty" will not keep him from running as an "independent Democrat" if the voters of Connecticut do not choose him in the primary?

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Reflections on the Declaration of Independence

From Renee: I felt that this comment from Charlie in the comments deserved to be front-paged, so I decided to "make it so". But don't forget to check out the posts below. Wish Corinne a happy (now belated) birthday here, and talk about your favorite Howard Dean speeches/quotes here. Here are links to crossposts of yesterday's "America, time to be born again?" post. You might enjoy checking out the responses, and if you haven't recommended them yet, you might be able to keep one of them from dropping out of sight. My Left Wing, Street Prophets, Booman Tribune, and Daily Kos. And, if you missed Oscar's Word for the Week, it can be found here, and his Saturday Comics can be found here.

The photo of Charlie seen above is from his presentation at last year's DemocracyFest.

I think today would be a great day to begin reflection upon the Declaration of Independence and the principles it seeks to articulate to the world.

Tomorrow may be the official day - but these past few days mark the real struggle of adapting Jefferson's incredible prose to what a majority (more than that - a near consensus) would accept.

It truly was a profound event. But even still - that struggle has lessons within it.

Jefferson, a slave-owning aristocratic-born son of Virginia, wrote far more in the original draft than appears there today.

What might have been the case had his original ideas been adopted intact? What if Franklin and Adams had not convinced Jefferson to "compromise" to get it passed.

What if the slavery question were not removed from the Declaration at the CONCEPTION of this nation. Perhaps our birth - with the Constitution - would not have proved to lead to such a painful adolescence.

Perhaps they were correct - the more "practical" approach WAS necessary - they needed to compromise those principles, at that moment, to move forward.

But what happened when that set of issues was just dropped from discussion.

It festered. And nearly destroyed this nation in a Civil War.

Indeed - perhaps - we have never really overcome the divisions of that war to this day.

There is a difficult struggle between maintaining one's idealism and compromising with approaches of realism. There are times and places for both - but even when the compromise is in order - one must recognize it as an UNFORTUNATE compromise and be eternally vigilent to maintain recognition of how far SHORT we are falling - and thus eternal striving for realization of the ideals rather than becoming complacent with the real (and ignoring its contradictions with the ideals).

Just some thoughts to reflect upon.

And try and go to the Alachua Project blog - we have been putting up some HISTORICAL materials (documents, articles, etc) - which show how long and how deep this problem goes - and how the events happening to me are a pattern being played out that has been done before.

Charlie Grapski

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Further thoughts on the promise of America

David Russell has more photos from Howard Dean's "Great American Restoration" speech here.

From Howard Dean's Restoring American Community speech, Columbia, South Carolina, December 7, 2003

We are determined to find a way to reach out to Americans of every background, every race, every gender and sexual orientation, and bring them -- as Dr. King said -- to the same table of brotherhood.

We have great work to do in America. It will take years. But it will last for generations. And it begins today, with every one of us here.

Abraham Lincoln said that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth. But this President has forgotten ordinary people.

That is why it is time for us to join together. Because it is only a movement of citizens of every color, every income level, and every background that can change this country and once again make it live up to the promise of America.
What are your favorite quotes/speeches from Howard Dean?

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy birthday, Corinne!

Happy birthday to Corinne, one of our dedicated front page posters ever since this blog began almost a year ago.

These little fellers and their friends say Happy Birthday too.

Hope you're having a great day!

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America, time to be "born again"?

Crossposted at My Left Wing, Street Prophets, Booman Tribune, and Daily Kos.

On my way home from the gym yesterday, I noticed a new sign in front of a local church. You know--the kind of sign where someone can rearrange the letters for a new message each week. (Create your own here.) I'm invariably alone in the car on my way somewhere when I will see a new message that is just so dang outrageous that I have to talk back to it--out loud. Especially the ones that purport to be "quotes" from God, "You think it's hot here?" or "Don't make me come down there!"

*Down* here? You mean You're not *already* "down here"? What gives? I thought You were everywhere"!

But other signs just catch my attention, inspiring me to turn them over in my mind for a little while. And sometimes I turn them enough times that they end up meaning something entirely different from what the writer most likely intended.

Yesterday was one of those times. The sign I saw, just a few blocks from my house, said "America, you must be born again." Their 4th of July message, apparently. But here's where *my* mind went with that...

July 4 is traditionally thought of as our nation's birthday--the country having been "born" on that day back in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The current administration likes to use the holiday to reinforce sentiments like "support and thank our troops--by blindly supporting our agenda." But when you stop and think about the what a radical document the Declaration of Independence really was--and still is--you can't help but realize that its message is diametrically opposed to the "Shut up and wave your little flag" brand of patriotism.

So, thinking of it that way, comparing the America of 2006 with the ideals upon which this nation was founded, I find myself embracing the message, "America, you must be born again". I know--that's *not* the message the church people had in mind when they put up the sign. But that's what I got out of it. I couldn't help but smile to myself at the irony of that.

America, you must be born again. But, could we please do it without the bloody revolution? I've got kids to think about, you know. How about we just spend some time remembering our roots?

We made a flyer with quotes from our founding fathers (and mothers). Here are a few of them...

George Washington
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

Thomas Jefferson
War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.

James Madison
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

Benjamin Franklin
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Click here to get your own printable flyer. If you don't have a color printer, it still works pretty well in black and white. Feel free to share it at any Independence Day festivities you attend this weekend.

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Sexual Healing

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5
One of the greatest crooners of all time was an abject heathen by the name of Marvin Gaye. When Marvin would come to town women of all ages - from the cradle to the grave - would drop everything to go see Marvin. Marvin would start singing his sweet melodies and women would melt like butter on a hot biscuit. This is why back in the day only Marvin Gaye could produce a booty-call song and women would actually embrace it and sing along with it:

Ooh, now let's get down tonight
Baby I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'
And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual Healing baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me

Marvin was raw with his, and while Marvin wasn't thinking anything about Jesus, the Bible actually agrees with Marvin to an extent. The difference, as always, is context.

We have to keep sex within its proper context. One thing that we need to understand is that we are being played. Anyone who has studied communication theory or worked in sales knows that in order to persuade anyone to do anything you have to bypass the rational mind and speak directly to the irrational, emotional mind. All decisions are based on emotion and subsequently justified by reason and logic - the cerebral cortex, part of the brain that is responsible for rationality, does not even fire until it receives information from the brain stem and limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions and drives. In other words, by the time you consciously think about something your brain has already tagged the information with an emotion and a desired emotional response - your cerebral cortex simply tries to justify it logically, and when it fails to do so you end up feeling cognitive dissonance.

Stay with me, I'm going somewhere.

It is not by accident that sex is so pleasurable. It's not like while God was creating man someone distracted Him so God screwed up and sprinkled too many nerve endings into the genitalia. No, God knew exactly what He was doing, and it was good. Understand, sex is not essential for the survival of an individual human being, but it is essential for the survival of humanity. No evolutionary process would design an altruistic function for the survival of an entire species that does not in and of itself increase the likelihood of the survival of the individual organism. That requires an intelligence that cares about the survival of an individual species. That requires an intelligent designer, and we have such a one in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Are you still with me?

The human sex drive is the duct tape of human motivation - much the same way that duct tape can be used to fix just about any problem human sexuality can be used to motivate just about any behavior or psychological process. What's more is that virtually any conceivable stimulus can be associated with sex and subsequently used to arouse the sex drive. Marv Albert would be an outlier of the normal distribution of sexual arousal while Sir Mix-A-Lot would be in the 50th percentile. Some folks have foot fetishes while others get turned on by legs, or pecks, or abs, or hair, or the gentle blowing of the breeze - any conceivable stimulus can arouse the sex drive, and the sex drive can be used to motivate any conceivable behavior.

See where this is going?

In the United States of America we claim to believe in the rule of law but the truth of the matter is that we ultimately believe in the golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rules. Those who have the gold keep their gold and, in fact, increase their pile of gold by ensuring that consumers continue to consume the goods and services that are produced by the owners of the means of production (the gold), and that is best achieved by appealing to the consumers' sex drive. Sometimes the appeal to the sex drive is overt (see: beer ads) while sometimes it is masked in multiple layers meaning, such as when they continually show Black men as suspects in violent crimes - White men are motivated to protect their White women from those animals (with the Mandingo thing looming subconsciously as well), purchasing the goods and services that they perceive to facilitate that end.

We're being played.

This is nothing new. Satan is well-versed at sharpening our appetite to the point that it can split atoms and then sitting back to watch us destroy ourselves trying to fulfill the perceived need that he feeds, laughing. He did it with Adam and Eve in the garden. "You will not surely die." "God's just player-hatin' - do yo thang, gurl! You know you want some." There is nothing new under the sun, and while the devil may or may not wear Prada, he most certainly maintains a mailing address on Madison Avenue. We are barraged with sexually suggestive messages every day. The billboards that we see on the way to work, the attire and scents of our coworkers designed to highlight their assets and mask their perceived deficiencies, the commercials on radio and TV God forbid you jump online. Sex and sexuality is ubiquitous in this culture, and considering the fact that America was in large part modeled after Rome it should come as no surprise that we are equalling Rome's depravity. This is why Paul said to the Corinthians, the most depraved of Roman provinces, "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." Sex is a good thing - a very good thing - within its proper context, and that context is marriage. The first thing that we see in this passage is that sex must be constrained to its proper context.

American society has divorced action from value and has embraced the idea that pleasure is the highest good, or in an ethical formulation that whatever causes pleasure is right. This is known as hedonism, and while it fits well with humanism it is directly contradicted by the Word of God. Man is not the measure of all things - man didn't create the heavens and the earth. Man didn't hang the stars in their place and separate the waters from the dry ground. Man didn't create the birds in the air or the fish in the sea. Man just showed up on the scene after God breathed the breath of life into him, so man can be in no ways the measure of all things - that role belongs to God alone, He is the standard bearer and the standard giver. Again, man has been tempted to usurp God's role since the Garden of Eden - "...and you will be like God" - and perpetually falls for the okiedoke. We can't keep sex in its proper context because too often we won't keep ourselves in our proper context - submitted to God. When it's all about us then it's all about fulfilling our desires, but when it's all about God then it's all about fulfilling His desire for us.

Does this mean that God wants us to suffer and to do without pleasure? Hardly, He wants to protect us from us. He wants us to operate within His guidelines for our own good - how much baby-mama drama would be avoided if sex were kept within its proper context? How many abortions would be avoided if sex were kep within its proper context? How many broken hearts would be whole if sex were kept within its proper context? God essentially constrained men (males) by commanding that sex was to be limited to the context of marriage. The male sex drive is primarily physical and biological, driven by the build up of seminal fluids, and after so long a man will jump just about anything that moves, as Eddie Murphy colorfully pointed out in 48 Hours. But God says that if a man wants to have sex with a woman then he has to take responsibility for her for the rest of his life, that she is then entitled to all of his stuff. That is the proper context of sex - marriage - but our society values benefits without responsibilities, wealth wthout work, and pleasure without restraint. America wants its sexual healing but it doesn't want the obligation of marriage, the obligation of raising children, the obligation of submitting to God. America acts like a petulant 5 year old - "No! Gimme that! Gimme that! Gimme that!" - and could use the same solution: the rod of correction drives folly far from the child.

But some folk might get turned on by a good spanking.

That leads to the second point that we find in this text - it is the responsibility of the husband to please his wife and the responsibility of the wife to please her husband. I have no clue as to where the Puritanical idea of boring sex came from - it surely wasn't the Bible. There is nothing in Scripture that mandates conformity to the Missionary Position. There is nothing in Scripture forbiding specific orifi from being penetrated by specific members. There is nothing in Scripture that mandates any performance requirements, but what I do find in Scripture is a clear command for husbands to bring pleasure to their wives and for wives to bring pleasure to their husbands. Missionary might work for Ward and June Cleaver, but the Huxtables might have some other ideas. Lord knows that Bobby and Whitney had other ideas, but within the context of marriage (cocaine notwithstanding) it's all good - the two shall become one flesh. There's a wide variety (be careful with that link - it's graphic) of techniques available to the married couple, limited only by their creativity and the constraint that it's just the two of them - the two shall become one flesh, not the three or the four becoming one flesh. Wives have to so pleasure their own husbands that any time that a husband is aroused his wife immediately comes to mind. Husbands have to so pleasure their wives that the idea of sex with anyone else invokes a visceral revulsion in the wife. Paul is saying that it is the responsibility of the married man or woman to have their spouse's toes curling on the regular, to have their eyes flipping to the back of their heads, to beat it up.

But sex is more than techniques, it is an emotional connection and a spiritual bonding experience. The one-flesh phrase transcends the physical experience to the extent that the two can truly become one, of one mind and body, blessed by the Holy Spirit. That is true pleasure, pleasure that will bring tears from the man and the woman, pleasure that will bond a couple for life.

It's in the Bible.

The Bible also affirms our third point in this Pauline text: abstinence is a good thing. Unwanted children, broken emotional bonds, viewing people as consumables to be used and disposed, where do we begin? It is an exceedingly good thing if you have the discipline to keep your sex drive in check. Paul concedes the obvious - many (most?) people lack that self-control and their sex drives demand an outlet - but Paul reaffirms that which Jesus affirmed and God originally stated: the proper context for sex is within marriage, one man and one woman, and within that context whenever you get that feeling, it's time for sexual healing.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to find pleasure in its proper context,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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