"For us let it be enough to know ourselves to be in the place where God wants us, and carry on our work, even though it be no more than the work of an ant, infinitesimally small, and with unforeseeable results."
-- Abbé Monchanin

Monday, May 28, 2007

"A Face in the Crowd"

I stumbled across the movie "A Face in the Crowd" on Turner Classic Movies Saturday. Since I was born in Piggot, Arkansas where the movie was filmed in part and where the story started, and had gone to 1/2 year of 7th grade there, I watched it to see the old town. The town square and "Spit 'n' Whittle Club" looked just as it did when I visited my grandparents there and when I briefly lived there.

The movie was a flop when it was first made. I think it was because no one wanted to see Andy Griffith as the bad guy. We like to think of him today as Andy Taylor of Mayberry or Ben Matlock, both good guys. Maybe it failed because Andy Griffith is supposed to be a funny and this movie has a serious message.

In the movie Andy Griffith's character goes from drunken vagabond to maker of public opinion via the power of radio and most of all television. An amiable character realizes the power he wields to shape public opinion and loses himself to that power.

The makers of the movie wanted to point out the dangers of the media, in particular television. The public is so easily swayed by television personalities who have no credentials for informing public opinion.

Television today is living up to that prediction. A once solid news channel, CNN, now spends more time on Paris Hilton's and Lindsay Lohan's latest escapades than on the genocide in Darfur. Death in the Congo and in Zimbabwe are almost unmentioned. The sordid life and death of Anna Nicole Smith is investigated more thoroughly than the privatization of the war in Iraq where U.S. businesses are raiding the tax coffers as they build small armies to provide security for their businesses that make profits providing logistical support for the U.S. military.

These and other unqualified "celebrities" shape the thoughts and culture of a nation. They corrupt our youth and convince us to like it. (I won't begin to speak of the "rap" culture.) Pat Robertson and James Dobson use the airwaves to repeat their ideas and sway thousands of voters to march to their drummer in support of the politicians who buy them with promises of access and power in the marble hallways of Washington.

If you get a chance, watch "A Face in the Crowd" and look for clues to what's happening. You won't enjoy the movie much. But you'll have to admit, we were warned.

Now, think independently. (That is unless you're Southern Baptist. "Independent thinkers" is an epithet Jerry Rankin used to slander missionaries who refused to sign the Baptist Faith and Message as a creedal statement in 2003.)

Memorial Day

Yesterday my son left the U.S.A. on his way back to Iraq. He's based in Baiji. The promises of free training and education, the lure of high tech machinery and the adventure of jumping out of airplanes seduced him. He's paying the price for the promises made to him. (I was enticed, too, at his age but realized the price before turning in my papers.) A two week break at home and now he's back on his way to the front.

It is my prayer that he not join those we are memorializing today.

This video from Peace Takes Courage says it well.

Memorial Day 2007

May all our sons and daughters come home safely. May the sons and daughters of Iraq, Afganistan and all nations find peace and safety at home.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Irreverent Observation -- White House Math

Bush Intelligence = Oxymoron

The rules of mathematics state that subtracting equal entities from each side of a balanced equation leave the equation still balanced.


Intelligence = Oxy

Irreverent Observation -- An Oxymoron

Christian Right

(neither Christian nor right)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quote for the Day

"On the whole it is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them."

-- Mark Twain

Scripture Passage for the Day

"Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
--Luke 13:30 NIV

Faith or Politics?

Former Arkansas governor/Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee has withdrawn from attendance at the
Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. He's unhappy with Jimmy Carter's comments about Bush's foreign policy. It seems that for Huckabee, politics trumps faith.

Can't we celebrate our common faith and Lord even if our politics differ? (Not if you're SBC/GOP it seems.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Half-truths and Outright Lies

Bill Moyers' interview with historian Marilyn B. Young gives telling insights into the failure to learn from history. Young's critique of an interview of Condoleeza Rice by Charlie Rose is particularly revealing of the methods used to deceive people into accepting the false rationale for this war.

Watch: Bill Moyers talks with Marilyn B. Young
Read the Transcript.

Questions anyone?

"On her deathbed, Gertrude Stein is said to have asked, 'What is the answer?' Then, after a long silence, 'What is the question?' Don't start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks."

-- Frederick Beuchner Listening to Your Life (this quote from Wishful Thinking)

Beuchner is one of my favorite authors. He is correct in pointing out here that before we can understand the answers the Bible gives, we must know the questions it is answering.

For example, there is much conflict and confusion today over the book of Genesis. I call this the Fallacy of the Misplaced "W." Many Christians look to the first chapter of Genesis for the answer to the question "How?" Yet, Genesis chapter 1 seeks to answer the question "Who?"

Getting the "W" in the right place (looking for the answer to the right question) will resolve a lot of conflict and open a whole new world of understanding of the full biblical message.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Irreverent Observation of the Day

I was watching CNN yesterday when Wolf Blitzer said something that caused a "eureka moment" for me. Referring to World Bank leader Wolfowitz, he said, "Bush stands by his man."

Now I know who Bush really is. He claims to be "The Decider." He refers to himself as "The Commander Guy." But in reality he's the Tammy Wynette of the White House. He stood by "Brownie." He stood by Rumsfeld. He stood by Libby. He stands by Gonzales. Now he stands by Wolfowitz. Bush stands by his man.

(Unlike another politician who denied that she was a "Tammy Wynette stand by your man woman" and then stood by her man during very hard times, Bush proclaims his loyalty to his men and then cuts them adrift to face their fate.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My Choice for 2008

I now propose my dream team for the 2008 presidential election. The best possible choice available at this time is a Bill Moyers - Barak Obama ticket. This could result in 16 years of good governance for a change.

It's time we replace arrogance with intelligence and exchange narrow cultural ignorance for broad cultural experience and sensitivity.

A Homeless Man

The Wittenburg Door has this challenging graphic and a link to a video report on its origin. See the video for a moving rendition of "New York, New York."

Moyers and Stewart

Bill Moyers is back with more intelligent television. Even better, his shows are now on the web and can be watched any time convenient.

His interview with Jon Stewart has two excellent excerpts from the Daily Show. One reviews clips of Bush's claims for "progress" in Iraq. The other is an exchange with John McCain where the definition of "support our troops" is debated. (For my view on this see
"Capt'n Shrub")

Watch Bill Moyers and Jon Stewart at
Bill Moyers talks with Jon Stewart.