Friday, February 04, 2005

Newest Addition to the Enemies List

The Fargo 42, banned from Dear Leader's Social Security bullying appearance in North Dakota.

The Fargo Forum says
The list includes critics of Bush or the war in Iraq. It includes two high school students, a librarian, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors.

This is the Champion of Global Democracy?

Update: don't forget Carol Greenwald, producer of "Postcards from Buster," officially disinvited from a conference on children's television co-sponsored by PBS and the Department of Education.

Rabbits are dangerous people.


"It's Fun To Shoot People"

Do we even need to say this is wrong?

Oh wait. The US Senate just approved the nomination of a proponent of torture.

It's wrong.

Update: heard Jerry Boykin on NPR this afternoon speaking approvingly of the use of death squads (or similar tactics) in Iraq. So allow us to rephrase: torture is wrong. Taking pleasure in shooting someone is wrong. Jerry Boykin should have been fired years ago.


Somedays you eat the bear:

A judge in New York state has ruled in favor of marriage equality.

We'll remind all those couples with the pent-up demand that pastordan is free most weekends now...


Religious News Roundup--February 4, 2005

Today is the day of Isidore of Pelusium on the Greek Orthodox calendar. We'd call it the "feast day," but it happens to be a strict fast day on the Greek calendar.

In honor of St. Isidore:
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Isidore, your soul rejoices with the angels.

If you're in Russellville, Kentucky tomorrow:

A benefit supper and gospel singing will be Wiley's Chapel Church at Deerlick to assist Pastor Travis Bryan will some major car repairs. The chili/soup and sandwich supper will be held from 5-7 p.m. for a donation of $5. There will also be country ham and cake fund raisers. The Crusaders will sing beginning at 7 p.m. A love offering will be taken.

Country ham and cake. Mmm-hmm. Makes a News Roundup hungry.

In any case. Today's categories:


Religion & Politics

There's been a bit of a dust-up on the religious left after Barry Lynn published some comments critical of liberal evangelical Jim Wallis.  Some folks took up for Wallis (see also here), others for Lynn.  It would all be a tempest in a teacup, except that they're in fact arguing about important ideas.

Bruce Prescott of mainstreambaptist :

Lynn is also right when he says, -- elected officials should make decisions based on the public good, not private religious belief." When all is said and done, as much as is possible, it is the responsibility of elected officials to make decisions that are based on convictions shared by people of all faiths and of no faith. No faith group's sacred scriptures, or interpretation of a sacred scripture, holds special or uncontested authority in the public square when public policies are being debated. The idiosyncratic convictions peculiar to certain faith groups, even if it is the majoritarian faith group, are not appropriate topics for legislation.

dlature of movable theoblogical :

the Church truly does have a radical call to incarnate, and it involves "confronting the powers" and speaking the truth to power. This was the prime self-perception of the Church at the beginning, and along the line, like with the adoption of Christianity as the "official religion" of the Roman Empire, the battle lines between "subservient" Church and the , well, NON-swubservient; the "independent"; dare I say "progressive"?

Who's right?  Who's left?  You decide.

Pres. Bush made some damn speech or another this week.  What was it?  National Pork Producers Association?  State of the Union?  Same difference.

Reaction's been rolling in all over the place, but here's some you might not have thought of:  from evangelicals.  See also here, where some of the more conservative Christian figures remind Bush that they have some chits they'd like to cash in.

They may have to wait a while.  First off, this is an administration that is particularly prone to not holding up its end of the bargain.  Second, between Michael Gerson's departure and this kind of blathering, it doesn't look like W. is inclined to move much beyond paying his usual lip-service to faith and moral values.  We say this with all respect and no snark:  it would appear that conservative evangelicals wound up holding the bag this time.

Speaking of conservative evangelicals, some of 'em are black.  (It's hard to believe that a propaganda piece like that could get run in any paper in the US, but that's another story.)  Other black pastors have created what they call a "Black Contract With America," focussing mostly on social hot-button issues.  But some more progressive pastors have fired back, and Media Matters has noticed just how cozy some of the conservative voices are with shills like Sean Hannity.  Scroll down here for more links, and while we're giving props to Media Matters, check out this piece on a scary Richard-Scaife wannabe.

More media advocacy:  a group called Citizen's Project has challenged Focus on the Family's tax-exempt status over a voter guide included in a FotF publication last fall.  See the Carpetbagger for more details.  If what he says is true, this could be real trouble for Dobson.

Some quick hits:  Joe Feurherd of the Nat'l Catholic Reporter has some interesting things to say about how the Washington "expert" game
works: :

Outside pressure on Congress is an important part of the equation, which is where [Maggie] Gallagher came in. As part of her contract with Health and Human Services, she ghostwrote an article on "Closing the Marriage Gap" for Horn. The article appeared in the June 2002 issue of Crisis, the conservative Catholic monthly.

Gallagher-as-Horn wrote that "children raised by their own parents in healthy and stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor. They're more successful in school, have lower dropout rates, and fewer teenage pregnancies. They abuse drugs less and have fewer encounters with the criminal law."

Self-evident as that might sound, there was more.

Gallagher-as-Horn argued that married people earn more money than single people. To buttress this controversial finding, Gallagher-as-Horn cited an expert author. Who might that have been? None other than Maggie Gallagher, who in addition to writing a column and moonlighting for the government is the coauthor of The Case for Marriage.

So what do we have here? A syndicated columnist uses her position to get a no-bid contract with the government to ghostwrite articles in which she promotes her own book. Good work if you can get it.


The Revealer has an interesting take on the ouster of Joel Hefley from the House Ethics Committee.  RNR was not aware that he represented Colorado Springs.

Last but not least, American Public Radio's series Speaking of Faith will be carrying a series on Reinhold Niebuhr in February.  Why should you care?

  1. He's perhaps the most important American theologian of the 20th century.

  2. One of his principal interests was politics, and what he had to say remains extremely relevant today.

  3. Go.  Listen.


Church & State

Some sinister developments, and we're not talking about the Wiccans.  (Ack! We just noticed that Cheryl Simpson, the Wiccan priestess in question, plans to attend Lancaster Theological Seminary in the fall.  LTS is two miles or less from RNR's base of operations, and we've been there for who knows how many different continuing ed events.  But hey, freepers?  She's planning on becoming a minister in the UU church, not the UCC.)

Anyway, back to the sinister developments.  The FBI came to talk to a pastor about a sermon he preached over Memorial Day last year.  Apparently, someone in the congregation misheard him, and thought he was calling for an all-out war on a local clinic.  He wasn't, and the matter was cleared up pretty quickly.  But here's the disturbing part: don't you think whoever called in the tip would have asked to clarify matters with the pastor first?

Another, not so easily dismissed story:  the Virginia Legislature is considering a bill that would ensure that individual congregations that choose to disaffiliate with their parent denominations the right to take their church buildings with them.  This is probably aimed at the United Methodist and particularly the Episcopalian churches; both denominations traditionally hold the deed to church buildings rather than the congregation itself. Many conservative churches would like to walk out, but are held back by such clauses in church polity.

So what, you say?  It's not our business what those congregations do?  No, it's not.  But neither is it the business of the State Legislature.  They need to keep their damn noses out.

And just in case you thought church-state relations in the US were bad, check this out.  Woof.


Sponge Bob/Religion & Homosexuality

Well, the dust is starting to settle over the whole Sponge Bob thing.  We mean, when the news starts to bounce back from New Zealand, it's getting to the end.  EmilyE (via Ales Rarus) takes a look at the We Are Family Foundation website via the Wayback Machine, but we're not sure her argument holds water.  The question was never about what Dr. Dobson said, at least not in responsible media outlets.  It was about the wisdom of his criticizing Sponge Bob in the first place, and the paranoia of seeing him as a stalking horse for a "homosexual agenda."

Well, anyway.  Here's an article on the divisions among the Anglican church in Africa on the subject of homosexuality.

Oh, and for a bonus, check out this very heterosexual take on cartoons. Republican Jesus would be proud.


This 'n' That

In light of Pope John Paul II's recent bout with the flu, some cardinals are apparently speculating on whether they need to establish a retirement age for the next pope. Some of RNR's readers might suggest that 25 is too old.

How is it that Nelson Mandela, who is an atheist, as far as we know, gets the gospel message better than so many Christians? Here's what he had to say to world leaders on the subject of poverty recently: "Do not look the other way, do not hesitate. Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision."

Last links: here, for your consideration, are two men. Decide, if you will, which one is the Anti-Christ: Brett Favre has invited Faith Hill to sing at a fundraiser for low-income breast cancer patients in Biloxi. And John Tesh took his family to Sri Lanka to see what they could do to help out there.

Yup, including wife Connie Selleca.



Well, we know which way Mrs. Pastor would vote, anyway. In honor of that other High Holy Day this Sunday, and in honor of Brett Favre, the only man who could tempt the Mrs. to idolatry:


They write letters

A fellow Kosmonkey's 11-year-old nephew has this to say about Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling:
Dear Mr. President

I am commenting on the "buster's postcards thing." When I saw the
episode, I thought of my trips to a sugar shack in western MA. I am
eleven years old, and live in Lexington, MA. First and foremost, I
have two moms, so I feel I have the right to comment on this issue. My advice to you is that you fire the secretary of education for her
homophobic public comment. My sister and I are kids and we should get our family represented in public as well as yours.


Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?


Thursday, February 03, 2005

They check facts, too

a gilas girl


The New Pamphleteers

Fredrick Clarkson details blog strategy in response to the Pres. privatization scheme, following a teleconference last night:
The power of the blogosphere to move information, ideas and analysis quickly is a great strength going into the battle -- as talented researchers, writers, and analysts of all kinds bring writing to the fore of American politics in a way that is already making history. The democratic nature of the blogosphere is opening up the public debate -- challenging government and corporate propaganda, and the conservative punditocracy in a way that regularly gives rise to howls of indignation.


Although the conveners of the progressive blogger teleconference have high hopes that we will somehow come through -- they really have no idea what we will do. But what they do know -- what they are counting on, I think -- is that this eclectic, feisty and far-flung network of writers are committed to a vision of a constitutional democracy marked by a passion for social and economic justice -- that will propel the campaign forward in surprising and compelling ways. They know that the ingenious activists of the internet will give Wall Street and the Texas oil boys a run for their money; that money can't buy the kind of committed, vivid, and persuasive writing that flows from authentic feelings and free and independent minds; and that that's a force as powerful as anything in public life.

I didn't take part in the call; didn't think it would be wise to push Mrs. Pastor's buttons. But, pamphleteer? That's a strategy I'm proud to endorse. Never did care much for Wall Street.


Some Social Security facts to consider

These are from a partisan source (the Senate Democratic Communications Center), so take them with a grain of salt. Still, they have a point: Pres. Bush was less-than-honest last night about the costs and benefits of his SS privatization plan.

As for us, we're sticking with the moral point: we're in this together, and SS is a way to protect those in the community who have few resources to fall back on. Privatizing Social Security is bad economics, and it undermines common cause in our society.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More things to do while avoiding the weasel

Find your Evangelist Name. (Ours was the Reverend Rex Lee Bilke. We would have been happy with Pastor Nutjob.)

Or maybe go look at the Jesus of the Week.

Something. Anything.


Things to do while avoiding a weasel on television

List all the other uses the acronym of your denomination has been put to:
  1. United Church of Canada
  2. Universal Currency Converter
  3. Uniform Commercial Code
  4. Uganda Communications Commission
  5. University College Cork
  6. University College Canada
  7. Umpaqua Community College...



Via AMERICAblog:


Okay, this is disgusting

In reference to the mainline churches:

Just as the global tsunamis have caused certain geographies to disappear from the maps within seconds, so there is the real possibility that certain segments of Christendom — those turning purposefully apostate — could disappear in short time frames. Their suffering will be awful. But it will be thorough, for what God does He does completely.

One cannot grieve the Holy Spirit forever. Certain segments of the global church cannot go on their own religion-writing ways without tragic consequence. There comes the limit. God knows when mortals have gone over the line with His patience. When that occurs, the divine comes down upon the wicked with His heavy heel.

Is this a loving God? Yes. God is both eternal, perfect love and eternal, perfect justice. His love is beckoning the wayward to come back home to His truth, grace and compassion. If they do not, then His justice will work upon their souls in judgment of condemnation.

The tsunami of the Lord will come and it will not be a happening any reasonable person would want to undergo.

Fight back. Pledge here.



From a UCC press release:
Howard Dean, the former presidential hopeful who is emerging as the new
national leader of the Democratic Party, is a member of the United Church
of Christ.

Today (Feb. 2), The New York Times reported that Dean, a former five-term Vermont Governor, is likely to succeed in his bid to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. A formal vote by the 447-member DNC will take place on Feb. 12 in Washington.

The Democrats' new leader, many believe, will be expected to give considerable attention and voice to recasting the public's debate on issues of morality -- especially what attention, if any, the Democrats will pay to so-called "values voters."

After the November 2004 general election, when Republicans retained control of the White House and gained seats in both houses of Congress, many pundits pointed to exit polls which showed that issues of "morality" factored heavily into voters' decisions.

Questions lingered, however, as to which precise issues these "values voters" were referring.

At campaign rallies for himself, and later in support of Democratic nominee John Kerry, Dean often chided "fundamentalist preachers" and said Republicans were using "God, guns and gays" to deflect from the real moral issues of the day, such as the war in Iraq, the economy and health care.

Dean, who refers to himself as a "Congregationalist" -- a faith label not recognizable to many living outside the Congregationalist-laden Northeast -- is a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Burlington, Vt., a prominent 1,000-member congregation in the state's largest city.

Take that, Chuck!


Religious News Roundup--February 2, 2005


We guess when it rains, it pours: today is Imbolc, aka: Imbolg, Candlemas, Brigantia, The Feast of the Waxing Light, and Oimelc.  The practitioners can explain better than I can, but it's essentially a day to look forward to what will be given the world in the next growing season.

Is that anywhere near accurate?

Today is also Groundhog Day, and would have been Bob Marley's 60th birthday.  If you're in Omaha tonight, you're in luck:  there's a children's program at Northwest Hills Church, and a lecture on "The Roots of Islam in America" at the University.  Both at 6.  Or, you can send some e-mail to Cyndi Simpson, a Wiccan priestess denied permission to bless a local Board of Supervisors' meeting due to her faith.

Today's categories:


Religion & Politics

There's plenty of shifting ground out there these days, but where it's headed, nobody knows.  Congressional Dems have formed a team to develop a "faith agenda," which sounds good--until you actually stop to think about it.  Correct us if we're wrong, but the Republicans have never made a parallel move; instead, they bring in outside groups to talk to staffers and the occasional representative.  That way, they seem to be listening to "constituent concerns" even if the same coordinating work is being done.  Word to the wise, Speaker Pelosi:  don't let your colleagues try to set the agenda on this one.

Meanwhile, the LATimes has more on the GOP outreach to conservative black congregations and their pastors.  The same qualifications apply from the last time we talked about this:  it's unclear how effective the outreach is, or if it will produce results, etc. etc.  It's a story worth watching, though.

Ever since Christianity Today identified immigration policy as one of the areas of potential friction for conservative evangelicals, we've been suprised by how many times the subject does indeed pop up.  Here's one example from Nebraska, from the ever-conservative Agape Press, and another one from the other end of the spectrum from DC.  We'll keep you posted.

Standard pork-barrel politics here. Nothing to see.  Move it along.

One vision of "moral values" that seems to be picking up steam is the notion that a responsible society ensures that all its members are properly clothed, fed, and housed.  It comes largely out of the Catholic Church, and you can see examples of it here and here.  While using this to argue against Pres. Bush's Social Security tear-down is interesting enough, we're impressed by that first link, from an editorial page in LaCrosse Wisconsin.  Small-town editors, shall we say, are not known for going out on a limb?  This idea may be quietly gathering broad popularity.

But the more some things change, the more others stay the same.  We'd hoped the heavy hand would lighten a bit after the election, but apparently not.

Other things that stay the same:  Hillary Clinton is shallow and opportunisitic, some folks say.  Except when she's not, others say.  (For the record, despite our own suspicions, we think HRC is getting a bum rap on this.  Yes, she's playing up religion more than she has in the past, and sure, she's probably trying to tack to the right.  But her faith has always been there, and we think that she alleged "shifts" are more than likely overstated.)  And while we're (sorta) on the topic:  a scholar in Michigan argues that the "Culture War" is much overblown, something we've been saying for over a decade, and the Revealer links to a report on who might be paying to keep the war "alive."

Tapped spots some similiarities between NBC & CBS' rejection of the UCC God Is Still Speaking ads and their more recent refusal of ads against the administration's tort reform proposals.  Anyone who didn't see that coming, raise your hands.  Anyone?


Religion & Homosexuality

Quick hits:  Bartholomew on Uganda, Sponge Bob in St. Louis, also on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, wingnuts in Utah, wingnuts in Wisconsin.

James Dobson is apparently going on the offensive, trying to convince journalists that his comments on Sponge Bob were misunderstood.  Seems like he's going all out: so far, he's sent e-mails to friendly scribblers, posted on his website, and will appear on at least two conservative radio shows.  All we can say is:  Doc, you wanted to dip your toe into politics.  Welcome to the jungle.

Last but not least, we bring you this story, about a Baptist church that wanted to build a playground on Gay St.



This 'n' That

A new report tracks Saudi-sponsored "hate" in US mosques.  We don't know the source, so we'll refrain from judgment at the moment.

Michael Ross' scheduled execution is off again, indefinitely.  This is gut-wrenching.  Meanwhile, in Colorado, the state Supreme Court is considering whether jurors' use of Bible passages related to the death penalty is enough to overturn a capital conviction.

As an example of the difficulty of politically pigeonholing the black church these days, consider these reports from Los Angeles and Nashville.

There has been quite a bit of talk about Time magazine's list of America's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals," much of it critical.  Even Christianity Today had some problems with it.  Here's two more critiques, from different angles:  here and here.

Millard Fillmore is out, this time for good.

Church attendance is up in Canada, even among those frenchie-mainline protestants.  Do the Canucks know something we don't?

As proof there's no place to silly for an evangelist, someone's trying to bring the Good News to the MJ trial.  And that concludes our trial coverage.  Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen...

If you'd like to have a pint and talk about God in Belfast, you'd better put a nickel in it.  Things started at the Blue Wave at 8.  Don't worry, they're planning on doing more.  If cough syrup's your thing, you're also in luck:  it's just been pronounced kosher.

Last link:  Ned Flanders is set to take a bigger role on the Simpsons, starting with this weekend's Super Bowl episode.  Beware war-diddly-iddly-robe malfunctions!


Just a little something something

To get you in the proper frame of mind for tonight's SOTU.


John Kerry Wants to Hear from YOU!

Or...How We Can Save Social Security and Get Universal Health Care All in One Go

I just got an email from John Kerry today. In it, he outlines his "Put Kids First" campaign, which includes proposed legislation for universal health care for children.  He also includes a toll free number (call now, John is standing by!) asking for feedback from folks supporting this initiative. Well, I called and gave him an earful, and you should, too. What's at stake here is not just universal health care, but also shaming the President into saving social security.

The GOP made a fatal flaw in their social security talking points when they brought up the subject of race.  African Americans have a shorter lifespan, they argue, therefore they're getting screwed by the social security system. Ergo, privatization helps African Americans because they can pass onto their families a small amount of money they pay into the system if they die before reaching retirement age. Therefore, logically, it's worth spending over one trillion dollars to privatize the system because we want to be fair to African Americans.

What's wrong with this picture? The President presented no plan to actually do anything about African American life expectancies.

According to the American Public Health Association, African-American infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white infants. In addition, African-American infant mortality rates are increasing. The rate of SIDS among African-Americans is twice that of whites.  Also, the rate of deaths due to prematurity/low birthweight for black infants was nearly four times that for white ones.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report that stated:

"Life expectancy in the United States was the highest ever in 2002, but infant mortality increased from a rate of 6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to a rate of 7.0 per 1,000 births in 2002, the first year since 1958 that the rate has not declined or remained unchanged...

...Three causes of death accounted for most of the increase in infant mortality: congenital anomalies (birth defects), disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, and maternal complications of pregnancy. Deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) declined between 2001 and 2002, continuing a long-term downward trend."

So, the question on the table is: do we spend one trillion dollars to privatize social security so that African Americans can pass on a small amount of the money paid into the system to their families, or do we spend considerably less money funding universal health care for all children, thereby giving African American babies a much greater possibility of surviving until their 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays? What problem more urgently needs to be fixed: social security, which even the most conservative estimates states can survive in tact without any changes until the year 2018; or saving the life of one African American baby, whose chances of seeing his or her first birthday are increasingly getting worse?

Anyone with a moral conscience can see that the more pressing need is saving the life of the African American baby.

Please call John Kerry's hotline right now at 1-866-876-4490 and support his legislation to provide these babies with the healthcare they need right now...and while you're at it, also let him know that THIS is the real crisis facing America right now, not social security and Bush's privatization scheme.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Because no day is complete without SB pics

Whoops. Guess we should have warned you about the Zell Miller picture in there. Hope your kids aren't too traumatized.

And we wish we could say those last two were photoshopped...

Thanks to King James, Maria in Pgh, sersan and philly gal.


From Reuters:

Huh. "American Express Co...on Tuesday said it will spin off its personal finance unit."

Only important in that I used to work for that unit, in my pre-seminary days. They never got the Amex connection either. And now most of them have been laid off.


Monday, January 31, 2005

Boxer needs our help!

from grannyhelen

Just got an email from Barbara Boxer's PAC for a Change...basically, she needs financial support to keep up the fight.<

I don't generally devote entire diaries to plugs for one politician, but in Boxer's case I will make an exception.  Fact of the matter is, there are over 55 million Americans who voted for John Kerry for President, whose views are currently not being adequately represented in our one-party-controlled Congress and Executive Branch.

Boxer, in my opinion, is single-handedly changing that equasion.

Show her some love! The entirety of her email follows:

Right after our tremendous victory in November, I pledged to you and all of my supporters that I would stand up and fight the big battles that lie ahead.  Little did I know that those battles would begin so quickly!

January started with the Ohio vote challenge -- an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the gross irregularities that continue to plague American elections.  Thanks to the Ohio debate, our Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, promised me that election reform will be a key part of our legislative agenda -- and I look forward to staying on the forefront of that fight.

Then came the Condoleezza Rice hearings. Frankly, I was stunned by Dr. Rice's unwillingness to level with the American people when confronted with her own conflicting, misleading, and even untrue statements. Thanks to the 95,000 of you who signed my petition, you gave me and other Senators the support we needed to take our "advise and consent" responsibility seriously. And in the end, Dr. Rice's nomination was opposed by 13 Senators -- the most for any Secretary of State since 1825.

These were two important battles -- but the fight for our nation's future is only just beginning. And I need your help as we gear up for some even bigger battles ahead.

Stand with me in our fight for a better America --support PAC for a Change (link: today!

We can't afford to wait for the next fight -- we have to prepare today. If you want me to be a national leader on women's rights, election reform, judicial nominations, environmental protection, Social Security, and more, I need an organization behind me that will enable me to travel across the country to speak out on our issues, campaign hard for candidates who share our vision, and reach out to other Americans who will join our cause.

PAC for a Change is that organization. With your support, we will contribute to those candidates and causes that need our help. And with your participation, we will make our voices heard -- from the White House and the halls of Congress to the local newspapers your neighbors read, the radio stations they listen to, and the websites they visit. Only by working together to get our message out far and wide across America can we bring about the change we so desperately need.

Help me get our message out across America -- support PAC for a Change today!

The right-wing Republicans aren't going to take this sitting down. In fact, over just the past few weeks, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and others have made me a primary target, reverting to the usual extremist playbook of vicious name-calling and outrageous personal attacks. It's clear that anyone who sticks their neck out by standing up and holding this Administration accountable risks being torn apart.

But if we are ever going to take America back from these right-wing extremists, we've got to stand up and fight. We can't let them get away with this any longer.

Over the years, and over just the past few weeks, you have given me strength and courage to speak truth to power; to keep going; to keep fighting. Today, I am asking you once again to give me the financial wherewithal to back it up.

Thank you so much. We must never give up. This is our country, and we must perfect it and protect it for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and those to come.

Stand with me,

Barbara Boxer


Spiritual Leadership

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Paige Braddock went to seminary with me, by the way.


Religious News Roundup

Today is Monday, January 31st, 2005:  the day of SS. Cyrus & John the Unmercenaries.  If you're lucky enough to be reading this in Capetown, you might want to stop by the Robert Burns Night at Kelvins Grove Club.  We know, we know:  it's not a church affair.  But there's supposed to be some whiskey-tasting going on, and that's good enough for us.

Today's categories:


Sponge Bob/Religion & Homosexuality

There's a lot happening on these fronts. The non-cartoon world first: the Archdiocese of Detroit has prohibited a nun from speaking at a local church about her ministry to gays and lesbians. Says her work is not in accordance with church teachings, though they don't say how.

Beth Stroud is gearing up for round two with the United Methodist Church.

Love that stole.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin looks at the approach of some local congregations to gays and lesbians.

Third-World Anglican bishops are not satisfied with the ECUSA's mumbled "sorry" over the ordination of Gene Robinson; they want repentance as well. Presumably, that would include getting rid of Robinson himself, which leads RNR to this question: how do you un-ordain a bishop?

And the UCC is sending around the collection plate, hoping to raise enough cash to sponsor round two of the God Is Still Speaking ad campaign. If you liked the first one, this is your opportunity to say thank you.

Now back to reality: James Dobson is catching it from all ends: local pastors mocking his comments on Sponge Bob, school children protesting, Keith Olbermann snarking it up... Well, at least Dobson has some columnists who'll take up for him (sorta) here and here.

That first column is by Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times, who voices an argument we've heard around these parts as well: though Dobson might look silly to us, he's actually doing a pretty good job of rallying his own by projecting an image of the world as a hostile and threatening land for godfearing parents.

There may be some truth to that, but in the end, we'll have to go with GetReligion's Doug Leblanc:

Dobson will bear watching for the next few years. But if SpongeBob SquarePants represents Dobson's politics of symbolism, I would say the cultural left has won this round.

And just when you think we're free of silly-ass charges of cartoon characters being too cozy with the "homosexual agenda," check this. It's official: Dolly Parton goes on the Enemies List.


Religion & Politics

We usually do stories on government subsidies to religious groups under the heading of "Church and State", but we'll make an exception for these initiatives in Florida, Georgia, and Maryland. It gives us such a good segue into noticing that Roy Moore's group, The Foundation for Moral Law, has bought itself a new headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. The Foundation denies that this signals Moore's interest in running for the governorship in 2006. But as the article notes, he is outpolling Gov. Bob "Let's Actually Do the Right Thing Whether Or Not It's Policitcally Expedient" Riley at this point.

Baptist Ethics Daily has a nice profile a ex-Southern Baptist Democrat who's just begun serving her first term in the Missouri House of Representatives. Dudes, you should have encouraged her to become a pastor instead.


Speaking Out

Ron Sider speaks his peace not on an issue but on the hypocrisy of his fellow evangelicals. We bring this up not to point fingers, but to mention that the article damn near burned our eyebrows off. It's that caustic.

The NYT has an article on how Christians of all stripes are coalescing around the idea of fighting poverty as a moral value. It sounds a bit flatulent at first, and indeed, it only sketches out the beginnings of a movement--but we'll take what we can get. Something does indeed seem to be changing on the religio-political landscape on this issue. Could it be that Christians are tired of getting pigeon-holed along the lines of cartoon characters?


Meanwhile, an church & community group in Billings is fighting racism, and with war, pverty, disaster, disease, torture, and deficits all around, Albert Mohler decides the most important threat facing our nation is...hotel porn.

And the Pope fights a valiant, but apparently losing battle against a dove:

Give us a break--the thing was trying to get into his bedroom.


This 'n' That

Evangelists from a church in Texas are drawing the ire of local officials and church leaders for operating in areas hit by last month's tsunami.

The United Methodist Church is upping its advertising budget to $25 million over the next four years. Apparently, they're going to disinter Charles Wesley and make him write a few more hymns. Did we mention that you can contribute to the God Is Still Speaking campaign?

John Lennon apparently liked to shoplift from a Catholic bookstore.

Why does this not fill us with great confidence?

Two ministries have joined forces to train Christians to evangelize biblically. The Texas-based Great News Network recently teamed up with Way of the Master Ministries to hold intensive witnessing seminars called "Evangelism Boot Camps." For several years now, evangelist Ray Comfort of the ministry Living Waters and actor Kirk Cameron have hosted "The Way of the Master" television show, a weekly half-hour program that teaches Christians how to witness using the Ten Commandments. And now Darrell Runduss, president of the Great News Network (GNN), has banded together with the ministry to equip Christians for biblically sound soul winning. Runduss says in previous years, as a successful businessman, he never knew why he needed Jesus, until someone finally witnessed to him using God's law to explain the basis of the gospel. It was not until someone helped him "look into the mirror of God's ten laws," Runduss says, that he was able to see how far short he fell from God's holy and righteous standard. "It was then," he adds, "that I saw the need for my forgiveness." The goal behind the joint effort between Way of the Master and GNN is to give Christians a biblical model for evangelism and teach them how to use it to lay a strong foundation for an informed Christian faith. The Great News Network conducts several "Evangelism Boot Camps" each year.

Is it the Bible Bootcamp idea? It's the Kirk Cameron, isn't it?

Movable Theoblogical have a couple of wicked-cool ideas. First a Bible wiki, and second, this t-shirt, found through a long string of links:

Let that sink it for a moment.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

A prayer for children:

We accept responsibility for children
who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we accept responsibility for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never "counted potatoes,"
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We accept responsibility for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who slurp their soup.

And we accept responsibility for those
who never get dessert,
who have no security blanket to drag behind them,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We accept responsibility for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse the tub,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles make us cry.

And we accept responsibility for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We accept responsibility for children who want to be carried and for those who must,
for those we never give up on and for those who don't get a second chance.

For those we smother... and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

(From Mrs. Pastor at grannyhelen's request)


Brothers and Sisters,

Let us pray for our community and for the world, giving thanks for the goodness we have received.

For our own community:

  • For those who have lost friends and loved ones to death, particularly to suicide;

  • For those who keep vigil as family members move toward death, that they might be strengthened and built up in compassion;

  • For those who are unemployed, especially those who face eviction as money runs short;

  • For all those who are depressed, afraid, and anxious;

  • For those facing surgery, whether large or small;

  • For wounded veterans in need of assistance;

  • For the pleasure of new friends made in Barbara Boxer and all who have joined our community in the past week;

      For love and goodness,
      we give thanks.

For the world and our nation:

  • For the people of Iraq, that they may know hope and peace;

  • For all those who have died to make Iraqi democracy possible, civilians and soldiers alike;

  • For the US military personnel killed this week, especially those who died in a helicopter accident;

  • For the leaders of our own nation, that they will come to see the horror and needlessness of this war, and that they will repent of their stiff-necked ways to seek the path of peace instead;

  • For those killed in the commuter train wreck in Los Angeles this week, for their families and friends, and especially for the young man who caused the accident in a suicide attempt. May he be forgiven for what he has done, and may his life not go to waste.

  • For the people of Connecticut as serial killer Michael Ross approaches his own death tonight; that the families of his victims may be comforted and be freed from fear; that Ross' family may be similarly blessed; that Ross himself find mercy, and that the state government and its citizens not be dragged down to mere revenge.

      For love and goodness,
      we give thanks.

For all those in need:

  • The poor,

  • The hungry,

  • The naked,

  • The sick,

  • The imprisoned;

  • For those in constant pain and poor health;

  • For our enemies and ourselves;

  • For all things, spoken and unspoken;

      For love and goodness,
      we give thanks.



Announcement of Judgment

Our friend Mike (aka DCDemocrat) is a theology student currently studying the book of Amos. As an assignment, the students were asked to write a contemporary prophecy of judment based on a current evil. Link here.


You borrow against the day of hunger, yet you rain your bombs on children!

Seated upon chairs of mahogany, fat bellies pressed against the linen of tables that groan with excess, they pour the hot fat of lambs on their potatoes and stuff themselves with prime rib from the buffet.

With their Bibles clasped to their breasts, they chuckle under their breath as limousines carry them to their accountants.

They drink martinis from Waterford and rely on the patronage of plastic surgeons, yet they feign to not hear the plea of a dozen million growling stomachs.

Therefore, their ample coffers shall fill up with privation, and the candelabra of their glistening soirees shall become the vagrant's night lit by naught save the stars that like sparks of fire devour them.