Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Great Unraveling or the Great Turning?

Some of you may remember me posting about The Great Turning in the past couple years, and linking to Joanna Macy's web site. Today, as I mentioned here, I attended an Earth Charter Summit, where the featured speaker, David Korten was discussing his recent book entitled The Great Turning: from Empire to Earth Community. (He is also the author of When Corporations Rule the World.)

The event took place at an SGI Community Center, which is worship center for people who practice Nichiren Buddhism in the Columbus area. I didn't know that before I got there--figured it was just another community rec center when I first walked in. But all the bowls and cushions tipped me off that there might be some Buddhist practice going on there.

It will probably take me a while to get this written up, but I can at least give some highlights now. We started by watching two films, A Quiet Revolution and Another Way of Seeing Things.

Before the David Korten spoke, awards were given--they called them "Recognition with Gratitude". Cindy and Art Strauss, who attend my church, were recognized for their work with Simply Living. I don't see Art at church much because he has had various health problems, but he was a regular at peace rallies a couple years ago, and always brought handouts to help educate people about various issues. I think it was Art who first introduced me to Jim Hightower's writing via the Hightower Lowdown. Art is now in a wheel chair, having broken his hip--I wasn't aware of that until today. So Cindy wheeled him up to the front of the room, and he accepted the plaque with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, saying that he didn't deserve it, but that it belonged to everyone who had worked with them.

Art and Cindy are some of the people whose example reminds me that I have no business being "too tired" to keep plugging along, trying to help make the world a better place. Another such person would be Granny D. She was there today as well--attending the event because she was in town to speak at the Voting Rights Revival Conference this evening. And since she is currently reading David Korten's book, she wanted to hear him speak.

I will have to write up David's talk a little later, but much of the basic premise can be found in this article in Yes Magazine.

By what name will future generations know our time?

Will they speak in anger and frustration of the time of the Great Unraveling, when profligate consumption exceeded Earth’s capacity to sustain and led to an accelerating wave of collapsing environmental systems, violent competition for what remained of the planet’s resources, and a dramatic dieback of the human population? Or will they look back in joyful celebration on the time of the Great Turning, when their forebears embraced the higher-order potential of their human nature, turned crisis into opportunity, and learned to live in creative partnership with one another and Earth?

Click here to read more.

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Crackers, cake, and candidates

by listener

What a great night at the Community Center in Jericho! Vermont Gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker came and was enthusiastically received!! I feel greatly encouraged in these final weeks, as the response tonight was electric! Scudder's wife, Susan, gave me some Scudder stickers to pass out to folks at the start of the event. One couple just arriving said they wouldn't know if they'd want to wear the stickers until after they'd heard Scudder speak. Later they approached me to get stickers, very outspoken and supportive! Bodes well. I also noticed that all the road signs for Scudder were gone by the end of the night. Peter Welch (running for Congress) waxed eloquent as always; he is a very inspiring, wise and gentle person. Matt Dunne (running for Lt. Gov) was very compelling. His Republican opponent won't even show up for the debates, and for that matter shows up for work only about a third of the time. We were sorry that Bernie Sanders couldn't come after all, but was in Bennington (the southern part of the state). But it was wonderful for all of us in Jericho to hear each person speak so glowingly about our Rep. Gaye Symington, who is, of course, Vermont's wonderful House Speaker. It is thanks to Democratic leadership in this state that we got anywhere with healthcare, environment and other important issues this past legislative season. It is not thanks to the present (Republican) Governor. I was particularly gratified that Scudder turned to Gaye and told her that as Governor his door will always be open to her. The one campaign sign outside Gaye Symington's house this last month has been a sign for Scudder. Imagine what could happen if they could have the opportunity to work together? I believe Jericho will go strongly for Scudder, and I know there were people present tonight from other surrounding towns as well.

Gingerbread cookies by listener

Signs out in front of the event

Scudder Parker and his wife Susan; Scudder is being applauded

We had a harpist (Evergreen...a friend of mine) but you couldn't hear her over the crowd. Evergreen took harp lessons alongside my daughter many years ago

Packed Place! That's Scudder in the middle with the blue shirt, red tie and dark blue jacket.

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Saturday Comics

And my favorite for today: GOTV

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Marcus Owens responds to the "war on religion" canard

Marcus Owens, who is representing All Saints Episcopal Church in their upcoming court case, and who helped formulate the complaint to the IRS about questionable partisan political activities by two central Ohio churches, was one of the participants in the forum I attended last Sunday. Here are some of his remarks...

I think that we need to maintain a balance between church and state, in the United States and here in Ohio. In fact it was a president of the United States from Ohio, and a Republican at that, named Ulysses S. Grant, that in his State of the Union Address in 1875 warned of the dangers of wealthy churches. Wealthy churches with power, wealthy churches that would sap the resources from government, and pleaded with Congress to make sure that church and state were kept separate and distinct. Those are the words of the President of the United States in 1875.

The issues that we are hearing here today have been with this country since its beginning. You see on the program the words from Thomas Jefferson, as he struggled with what the right balance should be between religion and politics and state. I think it is important, as you think about the state of religion, the state of faith in this country, that you think about the reality of events, and not be carried away by those who would scare, who would intimidate, who would try to cause fear that somehow the government is trying to crush religion.

Indeed, today's New York Times has a front page story about the benefits that religions, that churches, that houses of faith have received in this country. They note that since 1989, there have been over 200 special exceptions, exclusions, and deductions created to support religious activity of all sorts, not just worship services but religious activity that gets into social services, that gets into land use planning. The churches, the houses of worship, have been given special dispensation under our laws--more than any other form of organized activity in this country. It's not accurate to say that there is a war on religion in this country. Quite the reverse.

But I think free speech, true free speech is threatened. It's under threat because of systems of belief that do not admire freedom of speech. That would tell you what you can read, and when you can read it. Who you would marry, who you would lie down at night with, behind the doors of your own house. That's not government's place to dictate that sort of thing.

More transcription from that forum can be found here.

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New blog: Brown and Blue

I just found out about a new blog, Brown and Blue, which is by "Mrs. Editor"--the wife of "Editor" at Ohio2nd blog.

Here's the tagline/description:
A political blog from an independent republican democrat black woman's perspective

I thought some readers might find this post about political ads on Black radio interesting/informative.

I wake up listening to the Tom Joyner Show every morning. I’m not sure if yall know this or not but we (black people) get completely different ads than y'all do. McDonalds, car dealerships, name it. If they advertise to "urban" (I really HATE that term) audiences then 8 times out of 10 the ads are different for us. From marketing prospective I guess this makes sense. Personally, I don’t correlate rap music or shuckin' and jivin' to choosing a restaurant but I'm not going to argue over it.
She links to examples of Republican ads she's heard on the radio and then says...

How do democrats respond? Well, they don’t. Once in a blue moon will you hear a democratic political ad. A few for Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland nicey ‘ we got a plan for you’ ads but none of those hard hitting kick ass and take names later ads from the democratic Pac’s. Are they taking the high road? Taking us for granted? Assuming these ads are so asinine that they will have no impact?
Read the rest here.

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Barry Lynn on Politics and the Pulpit

More from last Sunday's forum. Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the author of Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom.

The issue in Ohio is the same one we're seeing all over the country, and I'm going to phrase this question in three ways.

Will churches deliberately or unwittingly let their sanctuaries become soapboxes for selected candidates for public office?

Will the churchgoers know incense from the altar or cigar smoke from the partisan political activity in the basement when they walk into a church?

Will the church advocate the civic responsiblity of voting, or advance the candidacies of certain people they want to see elected?

The rubber really will hit the road in the next few weeks, and here is what I hope will *not* happen in Ohio or around the country. Churches should not be opening their doors to meetings of, say, the Fairfield County Republican Party unless it is willing to do precisely the same for the Fairfield County Democratic Party. Churches should not a Democratic senate candidate to "say a few words" in their churches before election day unless they invite the Republican candidate to do exactly the same thing. And perhaps most importantly, churches should not distribute or allow to be distributed in houses of worship, any so-called "voter guides" that are obviously created to support one candidate over all others.

This year, a number of entitities have announced plans to put out these voter guides--the Christian Coalition, created by Pat Robertson, announced its intention to do so just this past week. And Focus on the Family has promised to have its State Policy Councils--Phil's group is one--to prepare and distribute guides in eight targeted states, which just happen to hold the key to whether the Senate is primarily Democratic or Republican after the election.

And here's my prediction based on the past practice of these groups. If you cannot tell for whom you are supposed to vote, after looking at, say, a Christian Coalition guide, then you obviously need new glasses. (Laughter).

How can voter guides be in violation of the IRS regulations? The first clue is that they're on a very narrow range of issues, not like the League of Women Voters. The second might be that they allegedly cull candidate positions from newspapers and other public sources, and then reduce these very complicated issues just to whether a candidate favors or opposes a position--one word answers to complex questions.

Based on these past practices, a lot of these voter guides, produced by the so-called "religious right", frankly are going to make all Republicans look like they are next in line for elevation to sainthood, and make every Democrat appear to be the next candidate for becoming a wax figurine in the House of Horrors museum in New Jersey. That's what they're intended to do. Those characterizations can be made using a variety of techniques.

A 2004 guide from Focus on the Family had language that used phrases like "partial birth abortion". Ladies and gentlemen, that is not a medical term, that is a political slogan of the right. When it appears in a document, it makes it very clear where the producer of that document wants people to stand. And I hope that when third party advocates of groups that are not member of your church come to your church and ask to distribute these voter guides, you look at them very carefully, whether they come from left, right, or center. Because pimping for any party or politician has no business occurring in the chapel, in the narthex, or even in the parking lot of any church in the United States of America.

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Ohio Events

Brown and DeWine to debate tonight

Earth Charter Summit in Columbus, Ohio. The featured speaker is David Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

This weekend there is a Voting Rights Revival Conference at Columbus State Community College.

The VRRC focuses on concrete solutions that will empower Ohio voters this November 7, 2006. Free and open to the public, the VRRC will inspire and inform with renowned speakers and hands-on workshops. Workshops will cover the changes in the new laws, basic voting procedures, how to make sure your vote is counted, how to work with Boards of Elections, Election Protection videography, the voting rights of people with disabilities, and post-election audits, to name a few.
So, what's going on in your neck of the woods?

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In which we hear Subway's story of the blogger visit

Subway just posted this link in the comments

While I Was Away III: Gathered Angels

I thought it would be nice to post the link to Subway's telling of the time Thankful, puddle, and Agatha visited him in the hospital, along with the links to their posts about the visit.

Agatha and puddle's reports
Thankful's report

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Charlie going to trial

From the comments...

Yes - strange but true - they have officially taken the next step and charged me. Apparently they still want to mediate - which is fine with me if they seriously consider my fundamental starting point (they need to a) drop any and all charges against me (that they have already pretty much indicated they are wanting to do); b) they need to admit their wrongdoing in this matter; and c) they need to compensate me (reasonably) for the losses that they have caused me.). If they will consider this as a starting point - I am happy to see if we can come to an agreement to resolve this without having to go to a full court battle. If, however, they expect me to simply "accept" that they will drop trumped up charges against me because that is more convenient (and cheap and easy) for me, personally, then they are not coming to the table sincerely.

But the State had to make a decision by this week - because the speedy trial date was about to expire - and I could have gone next week and filed a motion to have the matter ended on that basis.

So it looks like we are going to trial - unless they do something pretty soon to resolve this in the light I placed it above.

Today was a new day of depositions by the way - the challenging candidate was deposed as well as myself. Although most of what they tried to get from me had nothing to do with the actual case at hand - the election fraud.

Tomorrow we have one of them - James Lewis - the "winning" candidate. Then they are deposing several of "us".

I only have to say that I am very disappointed - I always hold out hope that in the end certain public officials will recognize the real duties of their office and do the right thing. But the system is so pervasive - everybody who "succeeds" in it - seems to become trapped by it.

Charles Grapski

From Renee...listener suggested a candle page for Charlie. I just set one up.

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Political Halloween Designs

FYI to anyone who hasn't heard this before (and apologies if this is a repeat).

There's a campaign to raise the minimum wage in Ohio. It seems to enjoy popluar support, and Demetrius made a couple bumper stickers in support of that amendment, by request.

So, in the face of the popular support for this amendment, opponents have decided to take the "personal privacy" angle and try to scare people into voting against it. Nice. Their claims are debunked here by the way.

So, when Demetrius *finally* gets a real offer of animation work (which has been really sparse this season)--something for *television*, no less, guess who it's for?

Naturally, the opposition to Issue 2.

Damn. We *really* need the money. But how many people would we be "throwing under the bus" if he took that project? And, as much of our time and energy as we have been devoting to working to make the world a better place, even for "the least of these" would be undone? Well anyway, he did say no to the project.

Anyway, in that context, I hope you all can forgive me this flagrantly capitalistic post...

Designs by jc...

Designs by Demetrius...

Our Affiliates

Holiday designs--please let us know if you have any suggestions for new designs.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Open Thread

Subway Serenade has a post up at his blog, While I was away II: Renee's Candle. His kind words about this community mean more to me than I could say right now. Let's face it, the political stuff bites big time, we get really tired, and wonder "What's the point?" Well, I'm still *really* tired, but Subway's post was good medicine.

So are pictures like this via Cute Overload.

And adorable baby pandas

And mindless little timewaster games, like you can find here.

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National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The so-called "war on people of faith"

Crossposted at My Left Wing

John Green of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life served as moderator of Sunday's forum on Church and State in Ohio's Electoral Politics. I really didn't give much thought to the fact there was a moderator, but boy, did I appreciate there being a moderator to step in and move things along. Because as the program moved forward, things started to get, as Jon Stewart would say, "Awwwwwkward!"

Russell Johnson was talking about the "war against people of faith" when he switched gears and started addressing Eric Williams directly...

But, a lot of our folks on the religious left do not believe that the Bible is really true, do not believe in a bodily resurrection, do not believe in the tradition of marriage as I understand it, and they have that right to say that from their pulpit if they wish. And I will never ask the IRS to deprive you of your 501c3 because you disagree with me. I sense that the IRS is not here to somehow monitor what's going on at your pulpit or my pulpit. And I believe that just because we disagree on things, don't use the IRS to try to bully me. If you can't win in elections, if you can't win in the court of public opinion..."we'll go to the court and gather some sharp lawyers who can represent us well, and they'll craft something to try to take conservative Christians to court to intimidate them. And let's find one church that we can beat to a bloody pulp in a courtroom, and we'll make an example and intimidate churches all over the state to be quiet about life and marriage."

We will not be bullied and we will not be silenced, and we will shine. (Applause and cheers)
When it was again Eric Williams turn to speak, he addressed the "clear pattern of partisan political activity of a single candidate" who is a champion of many of the values that Johnson and his church hold. "That, in my mind, does not serve the community, because that, in my mind, is not the historic role of the church." Johnson responded:
How can you take us to court when you never even called me? The first time I read your name, Eric, was on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch. Doesn't Jesus say, if you have a problem with your brother, you should go to him first instead of going to court?
This elicted quite a bit of applause from Johnson's supporters in the audience. As the discussion continued, the members of the panel discussed the appropriateness of legal action as opposed to dialog. Barry Lynn noted that:
It turns out that every law has some entity in government to enforce it. And I think it's completely legitimate for someone to report, as Eric did, when he saw a pattern of practice that he felt violated the IRS code, to do the same thing he would do if his neighbor was setting up a meth lab in his back yard--
This led to applause from the audience, and panelists on the right side taking exception to the analogy. Lynn clarified that, as a society, we decide that certain things are illegal, and if Eric saw something he believed violated the law, how could Russell Johnson condemn him for reporting that behavior?

Johnson challenged Barry Lynn, saying, "You subscribe to a higher law, which is the law of Christ in Matthew 18, which supercedes any temporal law." He repeated that Eric Williams should have called him and talked to him about his complaint rather than getting the IRS involved, and that he would never seek to limit Williams' freedom of speech. He ended by saying that it's good that they are talking to each other rather than about each other.

It certainly was a lively discussion. I wasn't expecting the Matthew 18 bit. Sure, I'm familiar with it, but it didn't occur to me as being applied in legal matters. I would think there one would "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" in such matters.

More transcription here. You might also be interested in this post at Plunderbund, which pretty much goes against the idear that the "secularists" are in power in this country.

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MSIRT reports on Harrison-Fosella debate

Subway clarifies in the comments: This review was written by MSIRT who posted this at the NY13 Blog.

My wife and I attended this debate. IMHO, Harrison walked all over Fossella. I posted this in an AMERICABlog comment window when I got home:

I am charged up tonight. My wife and I attended a debate between our congressional candidates, Vito Fossella (R) and Steve Harrison (D) - (NY13). Fossella is New York City's only Republican Congressman, representing the very strong Republican base that resides here.

Harrison walked all over him. Sharp as a nail and unrelenting, Harrison had to remind Fossella frequently the he was a Republican (Fossella uses the banner: "An INDEPENDENT fighter for Staten Island").

Fossella tried to keep the issues local but Harrison successfully kept the focus on the administration 's attack on the Constitution, to which Fossella replied: "Well the constitution is not a "suicide pact" (and therefore can be ignored if it's judged by the administration & party in power that national security requires it to be ignored).

And this debate took place deep in "Fossella territory." Harrison's campaign is cash poor because the Dems have written off a victory by him, but I tell you, he is one smart, principled firebrand.

All his campaign literature proudly displays "Democrat", while Fossella, as mentioned above, hides his party affilliation by highlighting INDEPENDENT in his literature and with no mention of REPUBLICAN to be found on his banners or on his web site (Fossella has voted with Republicans 90% of the time and has a long list of Repug PAC contributors, including:

21st Century Freedom PAC
Back America's Conservatives PAC
Cmte for the Preservation of Capitalism
Every Republican is Crucial PAC
Freedom Project
Growth & Prosperity PAC
Keep Our Majority PAC
Leadership PAC 2006
Majority Initiative-Keep Electing Repubs
Promoting Republicans You Can Elect
Prosperity Helps Inspire Liberty PAC
Rely on Your Beliefs
Rich PAC
Texas Freedom Fund
Together for Our Majority

So maybe Fossella's running scared? If you want to help a Dem in a congressional contest that up till now has been off the radar (major Democratic party organizatiions are not contributing to him) go to Steve's web site and donate if you can.

And this morning I added this on another thread: Just to add a few afterthoughts, having slept on it:

Fossella, who brags in his literature about voting against Bush's policies (very occasionally - but still a 'bragging point') was forced by Mr. Harrison to repeatedly extol the administration on Iraq & national security with the tired "they're the only people protecting us" and "9/11 - never again" lines. So, if Fossella had planned to distance himself from Bush, the Democrat made sure he was stuck to him.

My wife and I can't get over how good this guy was. The small church hall was about 50/50 in terms support/non-support based on the "hoot & howl meter readings" registered after each respective set of comments. But the pro -Harrison forces in the audience certainly made a good showing and a lot of noise in this heavily Republican area. I can't wait to see today's local paper. There was heavy press coverage of the event.
10:23 AM

Apparently, many Republicans are running as independents these days. Perhaps a roll call of Gopers who don't use the word Republican is in order. Is it happening in your district?

Subway Serenade

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Kimmy checks in. Worried "moms" breathe sigh of relief.

Kimmy, could you possibly consider leading a less, um, "dramatic" life? You've got surrogate moms, and dads (and concerned siblings) all around the world that would really appreciate that! ;) Kimmy posted her update in the comments here. In a nutshell, she dislocated her hip when her German shepherd got up suddenly as she was stepping over him. But the good news is that her pregnancy is going well, and her baby boy is big estimated to be 16 ounces at this point.

and heres a couple of the pictures from the ultrasound!!

His little smiling face and legs(that LOVE to kick my pelvis!--breech)! Totally insane!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Republican Joe Lieberman takes another poke at Howard Dean

puddle has some new posts up at pyzch, and I've posted some transcripts form recent church/state events in Columbus here (including words from Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State).

Click here to see a the latest Ned Lamont ad (Quicktime format) which uses a black and white Psycho inspired motif to note how Bush and Lieberman both prefer to rely on scare tactics as a campaign strategy. I found out about the ad in a post at Firedoglake entitled Lieberman Throws Howard Dean Under the Bus. (There's a YouTube version of the ad there as well.)

So how does Joe Lieberman respond to Ned Lamont's new ad? By mocking Howard Dean, of course. From his blog:

If you have not had a chance to check out Ned’s new ad, please do (Quicktime). It’s a scream.

Howard Dean would be proud.
Wow, Joe, that was sooo clever. Which right wing pundit do you find to be the best source for the right wing talking points you are so fond of using?

Update: It occurred to me that I should check the link provided in the post at Firedoglake, and I discovered that the lame "scream" comment came not from Senator Droopy Dawg himself, but from Eric Blankenbaker, who is a blogger at "Blog of Joe". Which *is* Lieberman's official campaign blog, so it reflects on him and his campaign regardless.

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On those tricky church/state separation issues

Crossposted at Daily Kos

I'm working on writing up some of the forum on church and state in Ohio electoral politics, which I attended yesterday. Some of it, I'm transcribing, and other parts I'll try to sum up a bit of the back-and-forth that took place. So far, I've posted the opening remarks of Revs. Russell Johnson and Eric Williams.

There are also some articles about the forum in the Columbus Dispatch today:

Religious debate as old as the country
Faith’s place in politics debated

The second article mentions something that really caught my attention. Typically when Ken Blackwell is talking about Ted Strickland, he likes to make a point as referring to him as a psychologist or, even better, as a "prison psychologist". Rarely do we hear mention of the fact that Ted Strickland is also an ordained minister. Russell Johnson of the Ohio Restoration Project, *did* refer to *Reverend* Ted Strickland, but he did so to group him with the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Smooth.

The Dispatch article ends with:

When asked about it afterward, Johnson said, "I think Ted Strickland is the far left.

"Will he support the constitution passed by 62 percent of the voters on the definition of marriage? I think that’s a legitimate question."

Okay, Rev. Johnson, I have a question. The right side of the aisle yesterday made repeated references to Abraham Lincoln and his faith-based decision to abolish slavery. Did the *majority* of Americans at that time agree with him? Possibly they did, but I imagine that was not true of the majority in states that had been part of the Confederacy. So, when is it up to "the people" to decide, and when are leaders supposed to make bold decisions based on their (possibly faith-informed) understanding of what is right?

From Russell Johnson's opening remarks:

The hinges of history are moving in a way that I think there's going to be increasing numbers of Baptists and Catholics and Pentocostals and Methodists who are welding together to say yes to marriage in Ohio, and 62% came out, voted yes. In 11 states, 67 out of 71 newspapers came out against marriage amendments. The average vote of the people who voted was 70% in favor of the traditional definition of marriage.
Well, Rev. Johnson, what if 70% of Americans had wanted to keep the right to own slaves? Would that have been the right thing to do?

As I wrote back in June, my husband and I were legally allowed to marry thanks to the actions of some "activist judges" in the late 1960s, who declared that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. There *were* people who used Bible verses and their understanding of "God's will" to argue that the races must remain separate. And how long would it have taken the majority of citizens in all states to vote to allow interracial marriage?

I guess this puts me to the "far left", along with Ted Strickland, but I have a hard time accepting the notion that, if the majority in society thinks your relationship is "icky", then the majority should be able to deny you the basic rights enjoyed by the rest of the population.

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Our Foliage Drive, by listener

Hubby and I are freshly home from our day's foliage drive into Canada. It was a very pleasant day most of the way: blue sky, mid-60's, and spectacular views. We stopped for awhile in Newport, Vermont and thought what a nice town it is, with a very well thought out waterfront, at the bottom of Lake Memphramagog (known in our home ed days as "Lake Meantforafrog"). We crossed into Canada at a town so small that the Customs office was housed in what appeared to be an old filling station. The way into Canada was not blocked off; another car from town just drove on by Customs as we came up to it. We stopped outside the office and waited until an agent came out to greet us. We handed over our passports and answered the three simple questions he asked. Then he wished us a nice time and we wished him a wonderful Thanksgiving ~ at which he beamed a smile. All very pleasant. Canada is so nice.

The views along the east side of the 32 mile Lake were panoramic revealing rounded hills and mounts and glimpses of the steeple and turrets of the Abbey of St. Benoit du Lac, nestled as it is in the Y at the top of the Lake. The lay of the land reminded me of the Scottish Highlands. We laughed over happy memories and future hopes as much as we marveled over what was right here before our eyes. We stopped occasionally to get a closer look at some sites, such as a unique boathouse with stained glass windows and a covered bridge. The city of Magog, at the top of the Lake, had the only heavy traffic we saw on the whole trip, despite this being Canada's Thanksgiving weekend. There is a wonderful park at the top of the Lake, with long views down the Lake and mountains all around from Jay Peak to Haystack to the Pinnacle. We stood there long, watching the sailboats tacking, wishing we had taken our children around this Lake in their younger days. We're ready to take any of them and all grandchildren on the trip any time. We got lots of good photos.

We hoped we could get close enough to the Abbey to get a good photo, and chanced taking a drive down the Abbey's road, yet not wanting to disturb their Sabbath. Suddenly, we were there, and there were cars everywhere and people everywhere, as if a festival were underway! Thus we got to park and walk all around, go inside the nave of the Abbey and sit in silence there for a time before Vespers was to begin, hearing the organ offer the prelude. We didn't stay at that point as it was to be all in French and we were concerned about how much daylight we would have left for the trip home. However, we are interested in returning for retreat. Outside we visited the tiny stone chapel on the property and purchased some Abbey applesauce, made from the orchard on the grounds, tended by the monks.

Back on the road again, we drove west to Cowansville, then south through Dunham and Frelighsburg (where we used to visit Susan and Mike Beam and family) as the sun set quickly. It was actually a little easier driving in the dark than with the bright setting sun in our eyes. At last we came to the USA border just north of Enosburg Falls. We imagined we'd have a little stiffer time coming back into the States than we'd had going out, and it appears we were correct. The agent looked at our passports, asked us a number of questions, sometimes twice, including asking what our jobs are, and had us pop the trunk and searched it. He even wanted to look at the applesauce we bought and wanted to know the meaning of our license plate ABIDE. It seemed a bit excessive, but that's the USA. He also noticed one of our tires looked low. Ha! It was a little annoying, but not horrible. We did reflect as we drove off that we don't like not feeling welcomed home to our own state and country; that we had felt more welcomed to Canada.

But that is not all; oh no, that is not all. A few miles into Vermont we noticed the mostly full Harvest Moon just beginning to rise. We had been out walking recently, striving to get a good Harvest Moon photo and here was another chance. So we stopped at the crest of a hill, where fields lay to the east and the view was open, to get a few good photos of the pumpkin-coloured moon rising over the mountains. After two or three photos, a large ATV pulled up beside us, blocking the view. For half a moment we thought it must be a Good Samaritan making sure we weren't stranded. But no. Imagine our surprise when our eyes focused more surely and saw that this person was in fatigues, wearing 'black face,' and carrying both a walkie talkie and a large gun...!! We were asked what we were doing and replied that we were taking photos of the moon. The person spoke into the walkie talkie saying, "It's okay" and drove off. Only afterwards as we recovered ourselves and our wits did we realise that he had never identified himself to us. I wondered if he was one of those "Minute Men" but Hubby thought he was a member of the National Guard. But we were not given the courtesy of being told this information definitely. It kind of freaked us out, and as we considered it, it freaked us all the more. What is going on in this country?! A few more miles along the road we encountered a second military ATV. It felt like we had entered a police state instead of dear old Vermont. We felt like we should have stayed in Canada.

I am ready to redouble my efforts to make change happen one month from now. I want my country back.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Open Thread

From Subway:

FIRST POST at my blog since my return.

This one's for Teri and the folks who took care of me while I was away. Tomorrow, I'll talk about Renee's Candle and a band of angels who brought me home.

And, as always, there are a number of lovely posts at puddle's blog. She also posted a Tanner update here.

jc and Cat have been busy adding new Cafe Press designs, as have we. (Cat also invites you to subscribe to her shop's newsletter while you're there.)

And I went to an interesting forum this afternoon, but probably won't have anything written about that until late tonight, if not tomorrow.

In the meantime, hope everyone has a lovely evening.

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Temptation Island

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:1-11
One thing that I have always found to be instructive is the way that Jesus dealt with situations. Whether the instigator be false-teachings Pharisees or soul-sapping Sadducees or the devil himself, Jesus always handled the situation in a manner that both shows us how to handle a similar situation and illustrates which values and priorities we should cherish. The temptation of Jesus shows us how to identify demonic temptation and how to resist and refute it, all in eleven short verses.

The first thing that we see here is that the devil will disguise his temptations as well-intended suggestions. Jesus had just finished a forty-day fast and was obviously hungry, so Satan simply suggested that Jesus fix himself something to eat. What's wrong with that? After all, the fast had been completed and it was time to eat - what was wrong with suggesting that Jesus turn some stones into bread so that He could feed Himself? The answer is embedded in Jesus' reply, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Jesus juxtaposed the Word of God against eating bread, confessing that the former trumps the latter. The problem with the suggestion - the temptation - was that Satan suggested that Jesus use His power - "If you are the Son of God..." - for His own benefit. If you read the Bible you will find that Jesus never once used His power to His own benefit - not once - as Jesus said, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Satan's temptation was for Jesus to take His focus off of what the Father commissioned Him to do and instead focus on Himself. That's Satan's modus operandi - the devil often disguises his temptations as well-intended suggestions, just like he stepped to Jesus under the guise of good intentions.

Satan's true intention is to sow seeds of doubt. Notice in his temptation of Jesus he constantly says, "If you are the Son of God" - questioning the nature of Jesus. It is much like those who say, "If you are a Christian then you have to sell all of your stuff and give it to the poor" - woefully misrepresenting Scripture in order to justify themselves in their own eyes. Jesus responded to Satan's temptations with the Word of God in every instance, "It is written" "It is written" "It is written." The source of authority is the Word of God - for man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God - and it is the answer for Satan's seeds of doubt. There is a method to Satan's madness and it is necessary for him to introduce doubt in order for him to achieve his will for you.

Satan's very nature is deception and he deals in it naturally. Jesus, speaking to scoffers of His teachings, said, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." There is a reason why the ninth commandment is against bearing false witness against your neighbor. There are many ways to bear false witness without "lying." When someone speaks a falsehood and you know it to be false and yet say nothing - like many Democrats did when Bush was laying the case for his Misadventure in Mesopotamia - then you have borne false witness and deceived the listeners. When you spin the focus of an event onto a relatively meaningless tangent instead of the actual significance of the event, as the Republicans are doing with this Mark Foley fiasco, then you have borne false witness. When you intentionally play word games to allow the listener to draw their own conclusions that may or may not have anything to do with what you are saying - "I take full responsibility for my actions, although I was molested as a youth, and I have a drinking problem" - then you are bearing false witness. You might not be lying in a technical sense, but you are certainly bearing false witness, acting as an agent of the evil one through acts of deception, and that is a sin against God.

The devil's means are disguise, doubt and deception, but his method is diversion. Satan uses those means in order to divert our attention away from God and onto ourselves. He does this by minimizing God and maximizing man in the eyes of men. He disguises his words as reasonable doubts about God's character and nature, tempting us to put God to the test, tempting us to tell God, "Prove it!" This was the second temptation, suggesting that Jesus hurl himself off of the top of the temple in order to see the angels save Him from falling to the ground. Again, as always, Jesus responded with Scripture: "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When we are focused on God then we're not busy trying to test God, much the same way that when you are busy loving your spouse you are not busy trying to test the limits of your spouse's love, trying to make them "Prove it!" But it is Satan's desire to divert our attention from God and place it on ourselves, and he often does it using people who don't realize that they are operating under demonic pretenses. When Peter tried to keep Jesus from going to the cross Jesus didn't rebuk Peter, he rebuked Satan: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Likewise, I've recently read where someone said, "Christianity is selling you something that already belongs to you" and "We will become Son of Man together." Seems like I've heard that before, "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God."

Satan never changes, and folk keep falling for the okie-doke.

Satan consistently attempts to divert our attention away from God and onto ourselves so that he might achieve his ultimate will for us - keeping us divided from the love of God. It is that division that Satan is ultimately after, and he'll use whatever it takes in order to achieve that ultimate end - riches for some, poverty for other, power for some, oppression for others - carrot or stick matters not to Satan so long as people reject God and the only means for connecting with the Father, Jesus Chrsit. Satan boiled it down to brass tax once Jesus had twice refuted him with Scripture: "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." It doesn't take black robes and human sacrifices to worship Satan, it simply takes a rejection of Jesus Christ because ultimately there are only two choices - join Jesus in eternity or join Satan in eternity. One can certainly reject both options, but there is a default option if you fail to choose Jesus, and that destination is the Lake of Fire. Surely there are those who consider Jesus' teachings about eternal life to be "fractally absurd," that Christians think it as some kind of reward for choosing the right religion, but Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Jesus said, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." The devil says, "You will not surely die, you will be like God."

No place at the table for the delusional, indeed.

The devil wants to divide us from the love of God, so he will try to divert our attention from God through deceptive seeds of doubt disguised as well-intended suggestions. When we face demonic temptation we must submit to God; resist the devil and he will flee. Everyone must choose for themselves whom they will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

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 will provide a way out of demonic temptation,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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