Saturday, April 02, 2005

Saturday Night Cookie Blogging

From a troll response* on Daily Kos:
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup Sun-Maid Raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Combine shortening, brown sugar, sugar, milk, egg and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add to shortening mixture; mix well. Stir in oats, walnuts and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in upper third of oven at 350 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

*A tradition in the dKos community is to deal with disruptive diarists by posting recipes, rather than respond to the content of the diary.


Friday, April 01, 2005

What comes next?

With the Pope's death expected sometime tonight, that's a big question. The answer, of course, is: nobody really knows.

But certainly, these hints are not reassuring:
VATICAN CITY - Ailing Pope John Paul approved a flurry of Church appointments around the world on Friday in another possible indication he was approaching the end of his life.

A Vatican statement said the Pope had appointed 17 new bishops and archbishops and accepted the resignation of six others.

The nominations and resignations included bishops in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, republics of the former Soviet Union and the Pacific.

The large number of appointments and resignations, unusual for one day, was an indication that the Pope, who appeared close to death on Friday, wanted to clear up unfinished business.

National Catholic Reporter:
Despite popular impressions that the business of the papacy comes grinding to a halt when the pope is sick, the normal pace of activity during the pope’s recent illness has suffered barely a hiccup. According to official Vatican bulletins, during March John Paul II:

  • Appointed 29 bishops;
  • Issued 10 messages for various groups and occasions, totaling 5,891 words;
  • Issued two telegrams;
  • Participated in one ad limina visit, with the bishops of Tanzania;
  • Prepared the text of four Sunday Angelus messages;
  • Written his annual Holy Thursday letter to Priests, of 2,095 words;
  • Appointed five officers for an upcoming Synod of Bishops;
  • Appointed four new officers to the government of the Vatican city-state;
  • Appointed a new member of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs;
  • Appointed six members of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Even with a pope in the flush of health, it would strain credibility to believe that he was personally responsible for all this activity. Given John Paul’s current fatigue and weakness, however, it is all the more impossible to maintain that the pope himself is personally engaged in the details of all these appointments and texts.

From the testimony of everyone who has seen him during this period, it’s clear that Pope John Paul II retains full lucidity and is capable of saying “yes” or “no” to proposals placed before him, and can still add some characteristic personal touches. At the same time, however, everyone concedes that, increasingly, the bulk of the work is being performed by others.

So, the $64,000 question: Who are these others? Who’s really running the show?

Let's hope it's the Holy Spirit.



Bad news from the National Council of Churches, at least for former mainline denominations:
Churches that declined in membership in 2004 are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,984,925 members, down 1.05 percent; the Presbyterian Church (USA), 3,241,309 members, down 4.87 percent; The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), 2,488,936 members, down .95 percent); American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,433,075 members, down 3.45 percent; and the United Church of Christ, 1,296,652 members, down 2.58 percent.

The data is gathered by the churches in 2003 and reported to the yearbook in 2004.

The data is somewhat old, blah blah blah.

A reported surge in membership of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has placed the communion on the list of the largest American churches. The Syosset, N.Y., based church grew 11.11 percent to 1-million members, according to the yearbook.

Other churches in the top 25 that continued to grow in 2004 are the Assemblies of God, 2,729,562 members and a growth rate of 1.57 percent; the Episcopal Church, 2,320,221 members and a growth rate of .57 percent; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,432,795 members and a growth rate of .14 percent; and Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,041,030 members and a growth rate of 1.82 percent.

The only real surprise here is the Episcopalians' growth. Southern evangelical congregations? Or a sudden re-appraisal of brie and chardonnay? (The Greeks, whatever. I'll be interested to see if this growth is a result of immigration or conversion.)

Here's the list of the top 25 denominations:
1. The Catholic Church – 67,259,768

2. Southern Baptist Convention – 16,439,603

3. The United Methodist Church – 8,251,175

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 5,503,192

5. The Church of God in Christ – 5,449, 875

6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. – 5,000,000

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 4,984,925

8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. – 3,500,000

9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – 3,241,309

10. Assemblies of God – 2,729,562

11. African Methodist Episcopal Church – 2,500,000

12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America – 2,500,000

13. Progressive National Baptist Convention – 2,500,000

14. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) – 2,488,936

15. Episcopal Church – 2,320,221

16. Churches of Christ – 1,500,000

17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – 1,500,000

18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. – 1,500,000

19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. – 1,433,075

20. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 1,432,795

21. United Church of Christ – 1,296,652

22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International – 1,200,000

23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ – 1,071,616

24. Jehovah’s Witnesses – 1,041,030

25. The Orthodox Church in America – 1,000,000


Lucky B--

Jeb gets off easy:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It seemed like Jeb Bush was in a no-win situation by taking up the cause of trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive.

He was going against polls that showed two out of three people thought government shouldn't get involved. Then when courts stopped him from stepping in, some of his conservative Christian base criticized him for not doing more.

But many people agree the Schiavo case was not a political issue for Bush and that the governor will not be hurt by it — especially since he doesn't have plans to run for office again any time soon. "I can't see it having any impact on Jeb Bush and his political future," said Darryl Paulson, a University of South Florida political science professor. "He's not going to be running again in '06 and he says he's not running for the presidency and every one of his advisers is taking him at his word."


Religious Charities in 10 States Get $1B

AP via Yahoo!:
Religious charities in 10 states got 40 percent of the $2 billion in taxpayer money available to groups deemed 'faith-based' by the White House in 2004, according to figures the White House provided Thursday to The Associated Press.

That's only slightly more than the money awarded under President Bush's initiative to international groups, which snared a third of the total funding. Organizations in the other 40 states and three U.S. territories shared the remaining funds.

I've got the day job to contend with at the moment, but I'll try to track down some of the exact groups receiving this money. I'm predicting more than one surprise in there.


Thursday, March 31, 2005

2 1/2 Cheers For The Home Team!

The Clearwater judge hearing the legal fight over Terri Schiavo's feeding tube has dropped out of his church after the pastor inquired about his continued membership.

Calvary Baptist Church says Circuit Judge George Greer had not regularly attended services for years.

The pastor wrote a two-page letter this month asking why Greer hadn't transferred his membership elsewhere after criticizing the church.

Greer had complained that his church didn't come to his defense after the Florida Southern Baptist Convention editorialized against his rulings in the case of the brain-damaged woman.

Clearwater's Faith United Church of Christ has invited Greer to join.

Wichita, Kansas:
A Christian vote on the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions is not necessarily a yes vote, a group of Wichita clergy who oppose the amendment said Wednesday.

"It's Christian to vote no on this because it lifts up justice, and justice is a Christian value," said the Rev. Ken Stephens of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ.

He was among about a dozen clergy who attended a news conference at Fairmount United Church of Christ in Wichita to announce their opposition to the amendment. He is one of 26 area clergy who have signed a statement urging people to vote no.

But then there's this piece on faith and the NJ Governor's race, which highlights the affiliations of all the candidates except the front-runner's. John Corzine has been a member of a UCC congregation in Northern Jersey for quite some time.

The Democrats' presumptive candidate, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, has pumped millions of dollars into the historically vote-rich black churches in urban New Jersey as well as Catholic and Jewish charities. Working black congregations in Hudson and Essex Counties helped boost a forceful turnout for him during the 2000 Democratic Senate primary, in which he hammered former Gov. Jim Florio, who was better known, by 58 percent to 42 percent.

Corzine supports a variety of religious institutions, spokeswoman Ivette Mendez said, and will campaign at them because he "believes deeply that religion plays a vital role in society."

WTDO? Did they not ask him, or did he decline to answer?

And where does this leave Sponge Bob?


Strip Club Wins Legal Victory in Fight With Mormon Church

KUTV: Strip Club Wins Legal Victory in Fight With Mormon Church:
A judge has ruled against the Mormon church in a lawsuit it brought against Salt Lake City after officials granted a downtown strip club a license.

Judge Denise Lindberg's ruling Wednesday was a victory for the Dead Goat Saloon, which received its sexually oriented business license from the city before the city joined forces with the church in the lawsuit.

In her 29-page ruling, Lindberg noted how strange it was for lawyers representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the city attorney to sit at the same table during oral arguments since the church was suing the city.

She also said the city has done little to defend its decisions to grant the so-called SOB license, which the city now argues should be revoked.

The Dead Goat is apparently also known as the Crazy Goat. Sounds like a quality institution.

No word on what you have to do to get a SOB license in Salt Lake City.


Prayers For One Who Has Died

From the United Church of Christ Book of Worship. Leader's words in plain text, responses in bold.

Hear the promises of God. "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious hand." Friends, we gather here in the protective shelter of God’s healing love. We are free to pour out our grief, release our anger, face our emptiness, and know that God cares. We gather here as God’s people, conscious of others who have died and of the frailty of our own existence on earth. We come to comfort and to support one another in our common loss. We gather to hear God’s word of hope that can drive away our despair and move us to offer God our praise. We gather to commend to God with thanksgiving the life of name as we celebrate the good news of Christ’s resurrection. For whether we live or whether we die, we belong to Christ who is Lord both of the dead and of the living.

The peace of Christ be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray:

Holy God, whose ways are not our ways and whose thoughts are not our thoughts, grant that your Holy Spirit may intercede for us with sighs too deep for human words. Heal our wounded hearts made heavy by our sorrow. Through the veil of our tears and the silence of our emptiness, assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those who love you; through Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead. Amen.

Let us say now what we believe.

We believe there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and we know that in everything God works for good with those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. We are sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


God of all mercies and all comfort, in tender love and compassion, embrace your sorrowing servants. Be their refuge and strength, and ever present help in trouble. Show them again the love of Christ that passes all human understanding; for by death Christ has conquered death, and by rising Christ has opened to all of us the gates of everlasting life. Thanks be to you, O God.


Let us pray as Christ our Savior has taught us:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts

as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil,

for thine is the kingdom,

and the power and the glory, forever and ever.

Holy God, by your mighty power you gave us life, and in your love you have given us new life in Jesus Christ. We now entrust Teresa Schindler Schiavo to your merciful care. We do this in the faith of Christ Jesus, who died and rose again to save us and is now alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in glory for ever.


Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Terri. Acknowledge, we humbly pray, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, and a daughter of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the company of the saints in light.


Holy One, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.

May God bless you and keep you.


May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.


May God look upon you with kindness and give you peace.


Alleluia. Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed!


Let us go forth in the name of Christ.

Thanks be to God.


Dignan at has some interesting things to say about the party of Pat Robertson:
Much has been written about the fractured state of relations between the more socially conservative members of the Republican party and the more fiscally conservative or libertarians members since the fall election.(Pejman Yousefzadeh wrote this article on Tech Central Station, Harry Brown responded here, and Glenn Reynolds wrote here) As a conservative evangelical Christian (not part of the 'Religious Right' however) and as a strong believer in the power of the free market (see some of my capitalist rants here and here), I straddle the two sides of this discussion.

He promises part II. I'll have to make sure to get back there to read it.

[UPDATE]: Seems some folks in Idaho agree. Freaking Mountain Libertarians, spoiling all the Christianists' fun...


Hopi spiritual leaders warn of greed-induced apocalypse

Indian Country Today, the nation's leading source for American Indian news, carries a story on Hopi warnings to the world:

HOTEVILLA, Ariz. - From Hopiland, a spiritual vortex for Native people, spiritual leaders Dan Evehema and Thomas Banyacya became the voice of the voiceless: the birds and animals. Warning of the impending apocalypse, they urged all people of good hearts to join them.

Even in their last years, Evehema and Banyacya warned that material greed and ignoring spiritual truth results in climate change, and, ultimately, the destruction of the world.

Hopi Snake Priest Evehema said the disease in the world today is greed, and the final insult for this country's aboriginal people is the loss of ceremonial land.

''We are now faced with great problems, not only here but throughout the land. Ancient cultures are being annihilated. Our people's lands are being taken from them. Why is this happening? It is happening because many have given up or manipulated their original spiritual teachings.

"The way of life that the Great Spirit has given to all people of the world, whatever your original instructions, are not being honored. It is because of this great sickness called greed, which infects every land and country,'' Evehema said, at the age of 105, in a statement to all humanity.

The entire story is well-worth reading.



Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yo! Bum-rush the Judiciary!

It's a spreading theme: the greatest threat to Traditional Values in America are the courts. Pardon some long quotes from just a few sources...

Gary "Dick" Bauer:

If you are as fed up with liberal judicial activism as I am, then I want to encourage you to attend an upcoming conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by my good friend Pastor Rick Scarborough.

The list of speakers is outstanding -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Judge Roy Moore, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Phyllis Schlafly, and many others. Topics will include:

--The Judicial Assault On Our Judeo-Christian Heritage;

--Judges: Abortion And Other Life Issues;

--Judicial Nominations;

--The Real Constitution;

--Remedies To Judicial Tyranny; and

--Mobilizing The Grassroots.

The conference will be held April 7th and 8th. For more information, please visit

Trust me – you won’t be disappointed. More importantly, you will return home encouraged and energized – ready to defend faith, family and freedom in the public square!

Bigot and huckster Lou Sheldon:

For 40 years, the anti-God Left has been using America’s courts to impose an anti-religion, anti-family agenda on America -– an extremist agenda that politicians (even most liberals) would never dare vote for.

And, ultra-liberal Democrats and the ACLU are leading a well-funded, orchestrated campaign to block the confirmation of President Bush’s pro-family federal judge nominees.

We need TVC Supporters like you to stand up today and help TVC turn up the heat on Senators in all 50 states to override Senators Ted Kennedy, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, and their liberal Democrat allies in the Senate ...

... and insist on the immediate confirmation of President Bush’s federal judge appointments (some of which Senate Democrats managed to block for more than two years).

Together, we can force action on President Bush’s judicial appointments if the Senate sees overwhelming public outrage over the liberal Democrats’ obstructionist tactics ... and their ongoing efforts to hijack the courts for their anti-God agenda.

TVC is launching an all-out assault to reach and rally 2,000,000 politically-active citizens representing all 50 states and all 435 Congressional districts.

We must tell every Senator and Congressman exactly what kind of judges their constituents want sitting on our federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court interpreting the laws of our nation.

Click here to make an emergency donation to TVC’s TAKE BACK OUR COURTS Battle Plan.

Whew! We told you he was a huckster. Now, after a short breather, back to The Battle Plan:

I need you to please send your best contribution today ...

1) to help me and TVC put enormous grassroots public pressure on Senate Democrats to immediately confirm President Bush’s federal judge appointments; and

2) to help me show America how the liberal Democrats have hijacked America’s courts to push a radical anti-God, anti-family agenda on America.

3) to help TVC build a special Supreme Court Warchest Fund to fight for confirmation of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees during the next 4 years. (Experts predict he’ll appoint between two and four new Supreme Court Justices!)

Please take a minute right now to contribute the largest amount you can afford today to help us fully-implement our TAKE BACK OUR COURTS Battle Plan.

By waging an enormous grassroots mobilization, media, and direct mail campaign designed to reach 100,000,000 voters we intend to expose these liberal Democrats for their ACLU-style leftist ideology that made it possible for this powerful federal court to rule the “Pledge of Allegiance” unconstitutional.

TVC’s $10 million TAKE BACK OUR COURTS Battle Plan includes:

1) Nationwide Media Blitz through TV, radio and newspapers.

TVC plans to launch a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about how the ACLU (with help from liberal Democrat politicians) have hijacked America’s courts to impose an extremist anti-God agenda on America. We will also urge citizens to call and write their Senators to demand immediate confirmation of President Bush’s federal court appointments now being blocked.

2) Voter Mobilization Mailings.

Direct mail is the single most effective method of reaching voters with the facts on how liberal Democrats over the years have packed America’s courts with radical, anti-God judges. With direct mail, we can generate overwhelming public pressure on Congress to immediately confirm President Bush’s conservative federal judge appointments. With our mailings we plan to let voters know which Members of Congress stand with President Bush ... and which Members of Congress stand with the ACLU.

3) A major phone bank operation.

Our state-of-the-art phone bank can contact voters at a moment’s notice when a vote comes up in the Senate on one of President Bush’s federal judge nominations. We can phone up to 5,000 voters an hour (or 50,000 voters a day) in key states to urge voters to immediately call, fax and e-mail the Senator to demand that he vote on the side of President Bush and his federal judge nominee ... and against the liberal Senate Democrats.

4) Distribute 25,000,000 Voter Guides for the 2006 elections.

We will closely track Congressional votes on key moral values issues and judges. We aim to distribute some 25,000,000 VOTER GUIDES in the months leading up to the 2006 Congressional elections. We want to distribute these VOTER GUIDES through our network of more than 43,000 churches. We also plan to distribute them to Christian and conservative voters through the mail, as well as in shopping malls and door-to-door in neighborhoods. These VOTER GUIDES will tell voters which Members of Congress stand with President Bush and appointing common-sense conservative judges ... and which Members of Congress stand with the anti-God agenda of the ACLU.

5) A nationwide Internet and e-mail campaign.

TVC’s website is becoming an increasingly important weapon for mobilizing traditional values voters to instantly pressure Members of Congress to vote on the side of traditional moral values and faith when a key vote takes place. In addition, TVC’s growing e-mail list of voters (now more than 800,000 e-mail addresses) allows us to contact Christian and pro-family voters instantly at very little cost to urge immediate political action, such as calling their Congressman and Senators on a key vote before the Congress.


We urgently need your support to fund the $10 million Battle Plan I’ve outlined above. Please try to give at least $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or even more to TVC today ...

Again with the shilling! And it goes on from there...

But let's hear from Sen. Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum on Lawrence v. Texas:

...[T]he decision was cited in the Goodrich decision in Massachusetts [in which the state Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on homosexual marriage]. I knew that's what courts would say. So this is, again, the problem with courts usurping democratic powers, powers that were clearly given to the legislatures and to the Congress. This judicial activism is a very, very scary thing for the future of this country.

And there's the key. "This judicial activism is a very, very scary thing for the future of this country." Which means: "we can't get our agenda through while there is an independent judiciary." Which means: "we're scared; we might be looking at a brick wall, if we haven't already collided with it."

Which means: it's game time. The coming battle over the administration's nominees is going to tie the bowels of Washington in so tight a knot that the entire city's sphincter is going to come popping out...well, where does Santorum live, again?

The conservative Christianists have their backs up against the wall, and they know it. If progressives can't work up the energy to take advantage of the situation, they don't deserve to be called activists, let alone effective ones.


Nazis, Shiavo and Pro-life Folks

from grannyhelen

Even before the rise of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich, the way for the gruesome Nazi holocaust of human extermination and cruel butchery was being prepared in the 1930 German Weimar Republic through the medical establishment and philosophical elite's adoption of the "quality of life" concept in place of the "sanctity of life." The Nuremberg trials, exposing the horrible Nazi war crimes, revealed that Germany's trend toward atrocity began with their progressive embrace of the Hegelian doctrine of "rational utility," where an individual's worth is in relation to their contribution to the state, rather than determined in light of traditional moral, ethical and religious values.

--William Federer, nationally syndicated pundit, in his article "The Court-Ordered Death of Terri Schiavo", October, 2003

The reason for this public support of removal from ordinary sustenance, I believe, is not that most people understand or care about Terri Schiavo. Like many others with disabilities, I believe that the American public, to one degree or another, holds that disabled people are better off dead. To put it in a simpler way, many Americans are bigots...As Schiavo starves to death, we are entering a world last encountered in Nazi Europe.

--Joe Ford, Harvard Student writing an opinion piece in the Harvard Crimson, "FOCUS: Bigotry and the Murder of Terri Schiavo", March 25, 2005

Before the Palm Sunday rescue, Schiavo was scheduled to die by starvation and dehydration, a method of capital punishment most would consider criminal if done to a pet.

This was the method used at Auschwitz to murder Father Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who volunteered to take the place of a Polish father of a large family, who was one of 10 the camp commandant had selected for execution in reprisal for the escape of a prisoner...

...One wonders if our young, so many of them cheated of a knowledge of history in schools they are forced to attend, are aware of how closely our elites approximate, in belief and argument, the elites of Weimar and Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

--Patrick J. Buchanan, "In the Schiavo Case, Elites Reveal Similarity to Nazi Germany", March 24, 2005

The latest comparison between the Nazi Party and liberals, Democrats and just plain old ordinary folks who want don't want Congress and the President presiding over personal family decisions and taking sides in a family feud, is pretty darn interesting. These comparisons are made by pure hacks like Michael Savage, to academics like Dr. John Hunt and a whole lotta folks in between.

Some of the more reasonable people making these arguments - like Dr. Hunt - have some pretty good facts on their side. In order to understand the presentation of these facts, however, you have to understand that euthanasia and abortion are intimately linked in the minds of the pro-life crowd as human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that the Nazis committed.

Briefly, here's the outline of their argument (distilled from Dr. Hunt's academic paper, "The Abortion and Eugenics Policies of Nazi Germany"):

1. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood..."believed there were "tinfit" (the poor, epileptics, alcoholics, criminals, those physically and mentally disabled) who should be prevented from reproducing, by force if necessary". They argue she was pro-eugenics, and that this philosophy is the basis of Planned Parenthood.

2. The Weimar Republic first jump started the drive toward abortion, birth control, and euthanasia. The push to legalize abortion was done under the philosophy of perpetuating "wanted" life. Dr. Hunt states: "...In 1928, ministry officials at the Department of Health held secret sessions with the most prominent racial thinkers in Germany, in which they talked about the possibilities of forced sterilization and killing of the severely mentally disabled, among a number of other measures. The law, uneasiness about public opinion, and a desire for more knowledge about heredity held them back."

3. Therefore, the mass murders, human rights abuses, torture and drive toward the "master race" was the Nazi Party's continuation of the same philosphies that drove the Weimar Republic in issues of abortion, birth control and euthanasia. Dr. Hunt sums up this argument as follows: "Whatever the respective motives of Weimar and Hitler, the whole infrastructure for the Nazi sterilization-eugenics program had been laid by the democracy the Nazis had overthrown."

4. The logical inferences are now clear. To be pro-life is to be against those tools that the Nazis used in their mass murders and genocide. To be pro-choice is to want to continue the same mentality that enabled the Nazis to commit atrocities. As Dr. Hunt sums up: "In looking at the Nazis and abortion, and abortion in general, many...Tend to want to be called "centrists," "moderates," "mainstream," not "extremists." Prochoice, not pro-life, is closer to fascism. Remember also that democracies can do horrible things.

You know what's really interesting about these arguments? They're wrong. The facts are correct, but the conclusions are totally off kilter.

How do I know? The arguments themselves are based on a very selective reading of the history of Nazi Germany. For instance, in my research of the pro-life's references to Nazi Germany, they never mention that homosexuals were targeted by the Nazis. Not once. I'd actually love for someone to show me an article from a pro-life person that puts this persecution of gay men in Germany in this historical context.

Now, think a moment. Why wouldn't someone - anyone - on the "pro-life" side mention this? They can't claim it's irrelevant. The Nazis themselves saw the imprisonment, sterilization and drive to "cure" gay men in Nazi Germany of their homosexuality as vital to the health of the nation. Indeed, it was so central to their thought processes of eugenics and creating the master race that they even established a Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion. Where they encouraged homosexuality and abortion among non-Germans, among "pure" Germans they were considered threats to the health of the State. When talking about sexuality in Germany, then, why wouldn't even the most reasonable pro-lifer mention the targeting of gay men?.

Maybe it's because they don't want to upset a large segment of their base. Folks like William Regnery, a member of the family that founded Regnery Publishing, who wants to start an all-white dating service "...since the survival of our race depends upon our people marrying, reproducing and parenting." The Anti-Defamation League has found evidence of anti-semitism in the "pro-life" movement, so maybe this isn't so far off.

Maybe there's an inherent fear of homosexuality in the pro-life movement, promoted by the likes of Jerry Falwell, who feel that, "Granting a marriage license to those of the same sex is the country's stamp of approval on an aberrant, perverted, and broken sexual lifestyle", which would lead to the eventual destruction of our country.

What's wrong with this cherry-picked version of the history of Nazi Germany? I mean, leaving gays out doesn't change anything else, does it?

Well, yes it does.

You see, the Nazis didn't believe in the existence of a personal life. All issues of life, death and reproduction were matters that directly impacted the State. As Heinrich Himmler said, when delivering his speech on the "Question of Homosexuality":

"...all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation...The people which has many children has the candidature for world power and world domination. A people of good race which has too few children has a one-way ticket to the grave, for insignificance in fifty or a hundred years, for burial in two hundred and fifty years..."

Following this to its logical conclusion, one's race, one's gender, one's sexual orientation and the ability of one to live or die is also not the private affair of the individual. It is a matter for the State.

It is this mentality that scares most folks about the involvement of Congress and the President in the Schiavo affair. Most Americans don't like the State making these decisions for them. I'd offer a fair bet that most Americans would equate such a practice to Communism or Fascism...or Nazism.

Why the pro-life people don't see this as well is beyond me.



Gary Bauer:
The effort to smear Tom DeLay is no longer a "whisper campaign" in the
shadowy corridors of Congress. The radical Left is now taking its crusade
to the airwaves, hoping to tear down Tom DeLay just as it did Newt
Gingrich. A liberal organization, called the Campaign for America's
Future, is about to launch an ad blitz intended to split rank-and-file
House Republicans from the leadership. The theme of one ad is "stand with
DeLay or decency."

Why is the radical Left so determined to demonize Tom DeLay? Because he is
one of the most effective advocates for traditional values on Capitol Hill.
The liberals know it and they don't deny that is the reason they are
gunning for him now.

Today's Washington Post reports that Democratic officials in Congress are
trying to turn DeLay's efforts to save Terri Schiavo against him, noting
that "his high profile in the congressional intervention in the Terri
Schiavo case, has given them an opening to use him as more of a foil. They
said that until now, he was so little known to the public -- despite his
enormous power at the Capitol -- that attacks on him were not effective."

If by "traditional values" you mean the cynical, self-aggrandazing of a family's pain to stave off the PR fallout from multiple ethics (and criminal) investigations, then yes, Mr. Bauer. Yes, you are correct.


ELCA moves closer to full communion with UMC

Church Central:
DALLAS -- The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) advised its church to commit to 'interim Eucharistic sharing' with the United Methodist Church, in a meeting here, March 3-7. According to an ELCA news release, it is a step that may lead to a full-communion agreement between the two churches sometime in the future.


The ELCA has full-communion agreements with five churches. They are the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ.

Wow. In theory, an ordained minister like myself could move from the UCC to the Lutherans to the Episcopalians, and perhaps eventually to the United Methodists. Christ's dream "that you may all be as one" seems to be moving right along.


More Headlines We Couldn't Resist

Charlotte church apologizes for stance on Catholics

We need it was bad that she was smoking and breaking up with here boyfriends, but we never thought it would come to this...


Catholic Bishops Campaign Against Death Penalty

Interesting to read this alongside my post on Rick Santorum below.

Even without that angle, it's interesting:

Pollster John Zogby presented results of a survey taken last November showing that support for capital punishment among Catholics was down to 48 percent, with 47 percent now opposed. In 2001, 68 percent of Catholics support the death penalty while 27 percent were opposed.

Evidently, Catholic opinion on the subject is changing--and substantially. Does that mean the hierarchy is taking the "seamless cloth" more seriously? Or is the message just sinking in with the laity?


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sadness and corrosion

From Cleveland:
It may only be a matter of time for Terry Schiavo.

With options running out, the family turned to a local doctor who treats disease with prayer.

NewsChannel5's Ted Henry was the first to report that Terri Schiavo's parents -- Mary and Bob Schindler -- contacted Cleveland's faith healer, Dr. Issam Nemeh.

They offered to pay all of his expenses to come to Florida and perform his faith healing service for their daughter.

Dr. Nemeh’s wife said he will not go to Florida because of previous commitments. She said the doctor will pray for Schiavo and her family.

Nemeh has held several local healing services in which many have claimed to have been healed.

Schiavo is in day 10 without her feeding tube.

For a firmly Catholic family like the Schindlers to search out a New-Agey healer says something about their desperation. (I say that knowing how trmendously painful this must be for them.) The situation is beginning to corrode their affiliations, if not their values.

But better they should burn through the one than the other. And let's not even get into what this is doing to the Republicans' values.


Santorum, again

Dude's been all over the place in the past couple of weeks as he gears up for what by all accounts will be a tough 2006 re-election campaign.

He's rethinking his support for the death penalty:

"I still support the death penalty, but what I'm suggesting is, number one, we have to be more cautious," Santorum said Tuesday, adding that its use should be limited to the "most horrific and heinous of crimes."

He said his examination "has narrowed its application, but it's not saying that I fundamentally believe the death penalty is wrong."

In an interview published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday, Santorum said: "I agree with the pope that in the civilized world ... the application of the death penalty should be limited. I would definitely agree with that. I would certainly suggest there probably should be some further limits on what we use it for."

The Pope, for the record, doesn't believe the death penalty should be limited. He thinks it should be banned. But isn't it nice that the senator has let his religious convictions lead him in a new direction?

But he's not getting too far from his roots:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has organized a course for members of Congress on Catholic doctrine that is being taught from his Senate hideaway in the Capitol.

The senator’s move comes at a time when members of both major political parties are talking more freely about their faith.

Santorum has brought in the Rev. Michael Sliney, a local priest, to oversee the course, which seeks to broaden the members’ understanding of Catholicism during the weeks leading up to Easter.

The list of attendees looks like a wingnut roll call:

Santorum invited six House members and 10 senators to the event, all of whom are Catholic Republicans. Among those invited is Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a former Protestant whom Santorum helped convert. Other Republican senators invited are Mel Martinez (Fla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), George Voinovich (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Pete Domenici (N.M.), John Sununu (N.H.) and Jim Bunning (Ky.).

What's going on, of course, is that Santorum wants to plump up his religious image to maintain support in Pennsylvania's traditionally devout--and very conservative--"T", the areas of the state outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. If Robert Casey, Jr. wins the Democratic nomination, Santorum will have an extremely difficult battle on his hands, since Casey is himself a pro-life Catholic. At the same time, this is going to be very tight race no matter who Santorum faces, so he can't go too far out on the rabid right-wing limb. He can't simply piss away the cities, in other words.

So he's got a delicate balancing act to perform in the next year-and-a-half. Thankfully, this is Rick Santorum we're talking about, a man whose right knuckles are scarred from dragging on the ground. A recent interview in Christianity Today gives some good examples of how difficult Santorum finds the tightrope. (CT, for those of you who don't know it, is the evangelical "magazine of record." Granting them an interview is sure to get Santorum a sympathetic hearing that will be read in the T.)

He starts off sounding more or less reasonable when asked about facing Casey:

As the No. 3 Republican in the Senate right now, the Democrats seem to have you in their sights, even to the point of tapping Bob Casey Jr., who's another pro-lifer, to run against you. As someone with a strong pro-life voting record, how do you view his candidacy?

You know, every candidate you run against has strengths and weaknesses. I don't know if he will ultimately be the person who runs against me, but if he is, I'm sure he'll have some positive attributes and negative ones from the standpoint of the voters of Pennsylvania, just as I will. It's a matter, from my perspective, of looking at, more importantly, what I've done [as senator] over the last 10 years—at that point, 12 years—to serve the people of Pennsylvania, and what my plans are in continuing to serve them over the next 6. That really is the more relevant issue. People end up voting in these kinds of elections, high-profile elections like Senate races, based on: 1) does the incumbent deserve to be re-elected, and then 2) if that's not the case, is there a reasonable alternative? My first obligation is just to let the public know what I've been doing and how effective I've been for the commonwealth, and what my plans are for the future.

He's right; as someone reminded me in Stirling Newberry's thread this morning, elections against an incumbent are referendums on that incumbent. Whether or not he can convince Pennsylvanians that he's been effective for them is another question, of course. But whatever. Who ever expects pols to to highlight his weaknesses?

From here, though, it's a downhill slide. First there's the follow-up to the question above:

Do you think Mr. Casey's candidacy would take abortion off the table in your campaign?

I don't think you can run a campaign without having those issues addressed. Our positions may be similar, [but] my understanding is he's never really taken much of a position on the issue beyond a questionnaire or two. But when you're running for a state auditor and state treasurer, those are not necessarily positions where this becomes an important issue.

There may be nuance differences between the two of us; I don't know. But in either case, I think I have a record. He does not. Certainly [my] record has been one of leadership and a variety of different important issues that have actually been issues that have brought people together on the issue of abortion. That's an important thing. I'm known as a pro-life leader on issues where we've gotten people from the other side of this issue to join us.

It's a decent shot at Casey in the first paragraph, stressing the difference in their resumes. But that second one will surely not win him any votes in the critical--and pro-choice--Philly suburbs.

The slide accelerates from there:

In 2003, you spoke out against the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision [overturning state anti-sodomy laws].

Yes, I did. And I also turned out to be right.

Do you feel vindicated?

Well, I was right. The bottom line in what I said was, this is going to lead to a whole lot of consequences. I had to assume the justices understood what they were doing. And of course, the decision was cited in the Goodrich decision in Massachusetts [in which the state Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on homosexual marriage]. I knew that's what courts would say. So this is, again, the problem with courts usurping democratic powers, powers that were clearly given to the legislatures and to the Congress. This judicial activism is a very, very scary thing for the future of this country.

He wasn't right: he predicted a short march from Lawrence to legalized polygamy and bestiality. And any idiot knew that the case would be cited in the Massachusetts decision. So much for Santorum's prescience.

More interesting is his slam at the courts, a refrain we're hearing more and more these days. Republicans can't run against Congress or Bill Clinton anymore, so who else can they blame? Well, okay, liberal pastors, but we're somewhere down the list, after Sponge Bob and Fox, uh, Sony, uh, those damn Hollywood smut peddlers!

In any case, so it goes. Read the whole article, especially the end, when Santorum begins to try on the "compassionate conservative" mantle. He has some very interesting things to say about What's the Matter With Kansas? Memo to Chuck P.'s staff: find this article and hang every last smug, prevaricating, sanctimonious word around Sen. "Man on Dog's" neck. Dude is in trouble, and he knows it.

You can almost smell the flop sweat rising off the newsprint.


Head-to-head: Christ vs. Tom Delay

Via Atrios (and Bill in Portland Maine):

Click the picture for the full post.


Tim Kaine

The American Prospect (via CBS [!]), is running a column on Tim Kaine, the current Lt. Governor of Virgina, and a candidate for the top spot.

Rob Garver, the columnist, thinks that Kaine will be a good test case: can an openly religious Democrat make it?
In many ways, Virginia is the ideal proving ground for a Democratic strategy of attracting religious voters. Southern Baptists and conservative Catholics make up a dominant share of the voting population, so if a religious Democrat can make it here, he can make it (almost) anywhere.

There's some justification for this point of view. As Garver points out, Kerry did particularly bad among those conservative Virginia Catholics. And the DNC has pumped $5 million into Kaine's campaign. Obviously, they think there's some potential there.

I'll withhold much judgment, since I know bupkus about Kaine at the moment. Still, I'd hesitate before making him out as the Religious Dem Prototype. For one thing, despite his apparent disdain for John Kerry's reluctance to talk about his faith (Kaine slams him for "talking about windsurfing and hockey than he did talking about his beliefs"), he doesn't exactly come across as any more sincere than Kerry did:
"The law in Virginia right now," he says, "is that the death penalty is the law of the land for the most serious crimes, and on abortion, the law of the United States is that women have the freedom to make their own reproductive decisions early in pregnancy, and I will honor those laws, If someone says, 'Well, that's wishy-washy,' I say, 'No, it's not -- it's being true to my oath.'

"Is there moral unease about [the death penalty]? Sure there is. But remember, when you take an oath, the honesty principle, I think, is the first principle. It is the same position President Bush has often stated about abortion. He is against abortion. He says, 'The voters know my heart.' But he has not done a single thing really to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"I feel like I am in exactly the same position as he is. I tell people what my heart is. I tell them I am good to my word when I take the oath. Does it pain me that there are executions and that abortion is common? Yes, it pains me. But I believe the system of government we have -- which is rule of law, not of men -- is the best system there is on this planet, and it is very important that the leaders who run to lead and execute the laws of the state be able to say that they will do it, and to say it honestly."

Garver calls this "nuance." Seems more like trying to have it both ways to me. Fact is, Kaine doesn't have to sign death warrants if he doesn't want to. He'll have to pay a political price for it, of course, but if this is a matter of principle, that ought to be okay, right? The same goes for abortion: if the law goes against your moral convictions, why not work to change it?

It feels good to say that you'll uphold the law, regardless of your personal feelings, but that's a dodge, a way of avoiding responsibility. It's for precisely that reason that the early church--and many believers still today--did not participate in secular government. If you take on responsibility, then you need to live up to it.

And then there's this:
But not everyone thinks Kaine's chances are good.

"I think it is an extremely hard sell for him," said Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University who has studied the role of religion in Virginia politics. "On the conservative issues, the conservative Catholics and evangelicals have really come together in support of Republicans. I'm not sure how Kaine can conceivably crack that alliance at all."

As Fred Clarkson points out here, much of the power of the Christian Right is its extreme effectiveness at political organization, and its ability to stick together once they've made a coalition. They're not going to be swayed by a religious Dem, not because of their off-the-deep-end religious beliefs, but because he's a Democrat.

Which gives the lie to this little bit of sanctimony:
In addition to actively talking about their own faith, Kaine says, Democrats need to temper their comments about other peoples' faith.

"The second thing that Democrats have to do better on is not attacking the 'religious right,'" he said. "I think that has been a standard bogeyman that Democrats have often used in campaigns, including campaigns in Virginia. If somebody advances an idea or position that's wrong, then attack them for having a bad idea. But they are not wrong because they are religious.

"When Democrats kind of cavalierly attack the religious right or go after Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, our candidates have sent the signal to a lot of religious people, 'Well, I guess they are not interested in me.' And I think this includes a lot of people who would fit very naturally within the Democratic Party."

First of all, other than some ill-considered comments on dKos, I haven't heard too many Dems attacking people simply for being religious. Second, the notion that Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell's ideas are anywhere near a natural fit for the Democratic Party is simply nonsense. If the Schiavo case indicates nothing else, it's that the values of Robertson, Falwell, Terry Randall, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, etc. etc. ad nauseum are anything but mainstream. We've all seen the poll results: overwhelming majorities would not want to be kept alive artificially, do not want the federal government to interfere in a painful family decision, and think that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should stay out, so that she can die a peaceful death with dignity.

Hm. Seems like those Republicans are on to something, doesn't it?


Blogging PA Politics

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused Monday to step into a lawsuit against a newspaper, leaving the media in Pennsylvania legally vulnerable when they report defamatory comments by public figures.

The case could chill news coverage of political campaigns where charges and countercharges are commonplace, First Amendment advocates say.
The justices' decision not to consider the case was a victory for the former mayor and current council president of Parkesburg, Pa., who sued when the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., reported that a council member claimed they were homosexuals. The newspaper reported the councilman also had issued a statement strongly implying that he considered the two officials to be 'queers and child molesters.'

The newspaper quoted the council president as saying that if the councilman had made comments 'as bizarre as that then I feel very sad for him and I hope he can get the help he needs.'



The Writer's Almanac:

"Poem: 'Grace,' by Linda Pastan, from The Last Uncle--W.W. Norton.


When the young professor folded
his hands at dinner and spoke to God
about my safe arrival
through the snow, thanking Him also
for the food we were about to eat,
it was in the tone of voice I use
to speak to friends when I call
and get their answering machines,
chatting about this and that
in a casual voice,
picturing them listening
but too busy to pick up the phone,
or out taking care of important
business somewhere else.
The next day, flying home
through a windy
and overwhelming sky, I knew
I envied his rapport with God
and hoped his prayers
would keep my plane aloft.


Watch Out For Them Kids

From the Greek Orthodox Dailyreadings Listserv:
Saint Mark was Bishop of Arethusa in Syria.
In the days of Saint Constantine the Great,
Saint Mark, moved with divine zeal, destroyed
a temple of the idols and raised up a church
in its stead. When Julian the Apostate
reigned, in 361, as the pagans were now able
to avenge the destruction of their temple,
Saint Mark, giving way to wrath, hid himself;
but when he saw that others were being taken
on his account, he gave himself up. Having no
regard to his old age, they stripped him and
beat his whole body, cast him into filthy
sewers, and pulling him out, had children
prick him with their iron writing-pens. Then
they put him into a basket, smeared him with
honey and a kind of relish of pickled fish,
and hung him up under the burning sun to be
devoured by bees and wasps. But because he
bore this so nobly, his enemies repented, and
unloosed him.

A kind of relish of pickled fish?

Bees and wasps?

It's strange what communities choose to remember over time...


Monday, March 28, 2005

Granholm's faith

The Detroit News does a profile of the Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's belief:
Craig Ruff of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing think tank, said much of what Granholm says on cultural and religious issues resonates with people across the political spectrum.
'Every mother's nightmare is that their child becomes the victim of a predator, or learns (immoral) values outside the home,' he said.
Ruff disagrees with those who say moral values played a deciding role in last year's presidential election. But he says voters do look whether a politician has strong positions on values to help them judge a politician's worth.

'It goes well beyond a position on the Ten Commandments being displayed at the Capitol. It suggests to people that this is a person of high character,' he said.

State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis said Friday that moral issues probably will play a part in the gubernatorial election. He thinks Granholm is vulnerable on such issues despite her willingness to talk about her faith.

'For those people for whom moral issues are important, her stance on gay marriage and her pro-choice stance on abortion will both be issues,' Anuzis said.

The governor says she personally opposes abortion, but that it would be wrong for her to impose the views of her faith on the rest of the state. She has come under criticism from some in the Catholic community who say she should take a stronger stance against abortion.

The article brings to mind two issues. First, is it possible for a politician to embody a strong faith without having to communicate it verbally? Pols have to telegraph a great deal about themselves just to get the message across, which is unsubtle to begin with. Add on top of that the layer of a perceived gap to be overcome, and it's easy for them to come across as phonies when they may in fact be people of great substance (see Kerry, John). If it's possible, how can it be accomplished?

Second, Dems who want to be perceived as people of faith are going to have to break themselves of the "I'm personally opposed" habit. It means nothing to voters--other than that the pol is trying to have it both ways. A more honest answer would be: "My church teaches that abortion is wrong. As a matter of public policy, I disagree with them, and here's why." Better if that discussion can have some theological meat to it, but wonkery is acceptable to. What voters want is not a particular religious perspective, but an individual who's willing to claim their beliefs forthrightly and defend them when need be.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Some days...

you hardly know where to begin. Just after I posted the prayer thread below, I discovered this comment from the ever-wise, ever-peaceful Welshman (that stalker.) It's a good counterpoint to my "Word for the Week" diary, which, as Welshman points out, has a tinge of underlying violence to it.

No sooner than I'd read that than I found an e-mail from my mom, with this story from the Washington Post:

It begins in southwest Uganda near Mount Rwenzori (Mountains of the Moon) in an area called the Kasese district. Kasese is home to about 520,000 mostly illiterate people. During the war in nearby Congo that ended four years ago, more than 150,000 of Kasese's residents were displaced; many ended up living in camps.

The insurgents have faded away, only to be replaced by another deadly enemy: HIV-AIDS. Kasese has the highest rate in Uganda, with five people dying of AIDS every week. Would that HIV-AIDS were Kasese's only danger. Each week, malaria also kills about 20 of its children. The 1996-2001 insurgency has left much of Kasese broken and with pressing needs: schools, dispensaries, homes and morale, all in need of repair. About 70 people who lost their legs to land mines are still living in the area.

All this has become known through a written appeal for help issued by Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, Anglican bishop of the South Rwenzori Diocese, which serves the Kasese district. Bishop Tembo, a native of the area, prayed in his message that "the Lord will bless the Diocese with resources needed" to continue the church's work with the desolate and forlorn people of his community.

The bishop's desperate call for help was heard and answered by the Anglican Communion on the other side of the Atlantic: the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, headquartered in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvanians pulled together more than $350,000 for Kasese to support HIV-AIDS patients as well as a little extra money for the Bishop Masereka Christian Foundation to help pay for the education of Kasese's orphans. The Pennsylvania Episcopalians also arranged to send a group of physicians and other medical personnel to the South Rwenzori Diocese this summer.


Then, darkness and betrayal.

Last week Bishop Tembo suspended all activities with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. He withdrew his request for $352,941 to support his HIV-AIDS program, including money for orphans' education, and he postponed the visit of the medical team. What, pray tell, could have led the bishop to refuse this help for people in need?

In every large organization, there's always that 5 percent who never get the word. The Anglican Communion is no exception. In a March 8 "Dear Friends" letter, Bishop Tembo said he had just learned the week before that the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania had voted "yes" to the election of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. The election, by the way, took place two years ago.

Asserting that the South Rwenzori Diocese "upholds the Holy Scriptures as the true word of God," and implying that the Pennsylvanian diocese -- by supporting a gay bishop -- does not, Bishop Tembo proclaimed the two dioceses to be in "theological conflict," thus leading him to reject all ties to his brothers and sisters in Christ living in and around Harrisburg.

Harrisburg, if you didn't know it, is about 35 miles from Casa Pastor; Lancaster is part of the same synod. I can vouch that it is anything but a hotbed of radical support for the "homosexual agenda."

And I'd hardly finished reading that when I found this diary by PBJ Diddy on "Desecrating Jesus AND the Flag," on some of the crazier crazies protesting outside Terri Schiavo's hospice.

Is it just me, or does our world seem to have gone off the deep end in the past couple of weeks?

Is it just me, or does the world seem to need our prayers and actions more than ever?


Brothers and Sisters,

let us pray:

Crucified and risen Lord,

we pray for the Church.

Save us from dawdling by an empty tomb.

Save us from bondage to the past.

Save us from the hypnotic fascination of decay and death

and make your Church to know your resurrection life.

May we follow where you lead

and live for you in today's world.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Savior Christ, we pray for the whole human family.

Hanging on the cross,

you gave hope to a rebel at your side

and prayed for those who condemned you to that violent death.

We too live amid violence,

the violence of subversion, of repressive government,

and all the subtle violence by which the powerful seek to impose their will on the weak.

None of us is free from its taint.

You alone can give victory over the violence of the world and of our hearts.

Save us, Lord.

Give us the will and the power to share your victory.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Living Lord, we pray for our society,

entombed in material possessions

and oppressed with ever-changing fears.

Many know no better hope than that things may get no worse

and that they may enjoy a few years of quiet retirement before the end.

Release us from this living death.

Cause us to live with the life you alone can give.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Lord, you know what it is to suffer pain, degradation, and rejection and to die an outcast.

We pray for all who suffer: Terri and Michael Schiavo and their families, the people of Iraq and all war-torn countries, the poor of the world, all those who have been tortured, those who who are sick or in chronic pain.

May they know you as one who shares their agony and enables them to share your triumph.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed.

With thanksgiving for the life that was given

and joyous hope of the life that is yet to be,

we remember those who have died, or who stand at death's door.

As in Adam all die,

so in Christ will all be brought to life.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed.



The Word For the Week

Colossians 3:1-17

I was talking about the resurrection with a progressive friend the other day. Well, a real leftist. He wasn't thrilled with the idea, and quoted me an old Joe Hill song about "long-haired preachers" talking about "pie in the sky, by and by."

I didn't get a chance to respond to my friend, but I thought I'd take the opportunity now, by relating a story about another leftie songwriter, the great Woody Guthrie.

I've told this story many times, preached it a few. It is, alas, probably apocryphal. It's still a good one, and it goes like this: during World War II, Guthrie did a lot of touring for War Bonds shows, often in the company of the blues musicians Son Terry and Brownie McGhee.

On one occasion, Guthrie was invited to a banquet in Baltimore. In fact, he was ushered up to the table of honor. But looking around, he realized that his pals weren't with him. He asked his hosts to bring them up to sit at the table, and they quickly responded that Baltimore was a segregated city, where blacks and whites were not allowed to eat in the same room.

Woody pounded the table. "This fight against facism has got to start right here!" he barked.

His hosts tried to calm him, saying that after the war, there'd be plenty of time to address segregation. Give it a few years, they said; now is not the right time.

"THIS FIGHT AGAINST FACISM HAS GOT TO START RIGHT HERE!" he bellowed. And standing up, he threw over the table and stomped out of the room.

Well, like I say, it's probably apocryphal. But it's also a pretty good description of the resurrection. Christ's rising from the dead is more than just a promise of "pie in the sky." It is a present reality--and a very insistent one at that--demanding that the broken relationships of the world be set aright now.

The realities of the resurrection are so demanding, Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, that things are as different as life and death after the turning point of Easter morning:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

The task of believers, according to Paul, is to mature into their new lives by giving up the sins of their former lives:"fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed."

This is not rule-setting, but something more subtle: Paul wants his readers to judge their actions for themselves, not look to a list of rules for guidance. Maturity, after all, calls for the internalizing of values, and the ability to set them into action appropriately.

And because his readers are now the face of Christ for the world, Paul wants them to take on their newfound maturity RIGHT NOW, doing away with "anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language" and replacing them with "compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." The Colossians' example is good for their own community, but more important, it is the only means many people will have to know that the world could be different.

Given the present condition of the world, it's hard to argue with Paul's sense of urgency. The battle against the condition of the world has got to start right here, right now. Too many are hurting, too many are dying, to wait for pie in the sky. Ready or not, Christ just kicked things off by picking up the grave and dumping it over.

So now what? That, my friends, is up to us.

Pie, anyone?