Monday, May 31, 2004

Heard too late

I was reading Isaiah again this morning. What a fascinating book! And I tried to imagine what Isaiah looked like. I see him as an imposing figure, tall and lean with long hair and a well-trimmed beard. His eyes are dark and pierce deep into mine. I see that he carries a staff and he plants it firmly on the ground as he speaks, accenting his words by pounding the staff onto the ground. And when he speaks, his voice is deep and penetrating, the words clear and unmistakable.

Yet, Isaiah and his words were never heard until it was too late, until Israel had taken the path that led to ruin. Now I read Isaiah’s words and wonder why he wasn’t heard? Was he really only a short, fat and bald figure of a man? His voice, was it high and squeaky? And his staff? Was it simply a cane? I don’t suppose that it matters at all, and if I need to know the answer, I will ask him when I see him in Heaven.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


As we all know, Truth is sometimes hard to find and the internet only makes it more difficult. A few days ago I received a forwarded e-mail message concerning the “evil” role of the Democratic Party in the affairs of the Social Security system. The message stated certain things as fact and since Democrats are usually suspect, it could be assumed that the message was telling us the truth. But, since I am cynical by nature, I decided to investigate a little bit further. It took quite a while (30 minutes+) but I think I ferreted out the truth by using as the arbiter of whether something is factual or not. Snopes has a good reputation for debunking the thousands of urban legends that make up so much of the e-mail volume these days and I have used their site before.

I just said that I was cynical by nature and that is probably an understatement. I am the Emperor of Cynicism and nothing escapes my attention. Tell me anything at all and I will dissect it, inspect it and probably, reject it! So how did I become a Christian? God’s grace is the only possible answer. Now I need to discover whether or not cynicism is a sin…It doesn’t feel like it is, but that is no guarantee.

I should also state that my version of cynicism crosses all political party lines. There are few boundaries for my doubting; truly the mark of a great cynic. And I have lots of company for my cynicism. I Google searched and found a treasure trove of great quotes for the veteran cynic to use. Amateur cynics are advised to use these with care. Here is a good one: Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do. -Bertrand Russell-

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Once more I was disappointed to see another mindless letter to the editor, proclaiming how un-American it was to question or criticize the president. Why is it so difficult to understand that all those who possess power will abuse that power. That is a fact. It's only the degree to which they will abuse it that has some degree of uncertainty. If you really want to be a patriot...keep your eye on the ones with the power and make them accountable at all times. Let them know that you are watching. Bush is the 43rd president. How many of those 43 would you trust? 5? How about 3? C'mon! They're politicians...doesn't that make you the least bit suspicious? How did they arrive at that high office? By being "Noble"?


I was reading a story about a group of prisoners in the Jackson prison that have come to a faith in Christ...and I read what a victims rights spokesman said, "but how do we know they are sincere?" Good question. How do we know? After all, they are criminals. But aren't they are our brothers and sisters as well?

It is difficult to remain free of prejudice. And, it is all a part of the tribalism that is so pervasive in our society. It is easier to find a whole group of people offensive than it is to single out, by name, the one who offends you. Yet, Jesus loves us all. No “tribe” is excluded. None are exempt from His love. And it is our calling and our obligation as Christians, to do exactly as Jesus does.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I read an article this morning that spoke to the issue of “reality TV”. I know that some will say that there is no issue to speak of. And I think there is. This article, written by Michael Gordon (Pastoral Intern at Grace and Peace Fellowship, St. Louis, Mo) is well worth reading and should make you think about what you watch on television and why.,,PTID323422|CHID664018|CIID,00.html

I have to confess that my television viewing habits are not praiseworthy and I need to do something about it. On a typical night I will watch “Jeopardy” and then switch to the HGTV or Food channels. Once in awhile I will spend time viewing the History channel. Lately, I have returned to the PBS station but will leave again as soon as the pledge drives begin.

In our new home, the television will be placed in a separate room, away from our immediate view. I am hoping that by placing it there, I will be less tempted to turn it on.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The New Yorker sent this to me and said I could forward it to a here it is.
As I was looking at this page, I noted an advertisement at the top and had to follow the link to see more...I know I shouldn't click through, but I had to see this.

Redemption through the Cross

Commemorate the most iconic story of the ages with this stunning 24kt gold layered proof. Created by master sculptor Caesar Rufo, the design shows a powerful image of Christ in the final hours of his life as he walks the long path to Golgotha bearing the wooden cross. Incredibly through a special minting process encapsulated on the reverse are grains of sand and soil taken from the Holy Land where Jesus trod in the year 30 in first century Judea. The "Redemption through the Cross" is available for $14.95. This price includes deluxe presentation case, shipping and handling and a numbered certificate of authenticity. Only 50,000 individually numbered pieces are being produced. Order yours now!

Let's see...50,000 x $14.95 = $747,500 plus shipping and handling. And of course we have to trust that they will stop at 50,000. Although tempted, I won't comment.

Monday, May 24, 2004

On politics: Why, oh why, would I ever trust a politician? Their whole life is based on deception. To be elected, they must compromise any values they might possess. Each day brings them more challenges to their integrity. Am I supposed to believe that they successfully fend off those challenges? Government of, by and for the people won’t happen until the politicians are limited to one 2 year term of office. When that happens, who would want the job? Only those with what could be called “selfless” agendas. The politicians would be reduced to doing what they do best; selling used cars.

Unbridled cynicism! That’s something we need more of. Those who believe their leaders are only asking to be deceived. It’s the highest form of patriotism to question those who would lead. Those who seek power, practice deception at every turn and they only get better at it over time.

OK, that is a little “over the top”. But there is some truth to it. For instance; the president speaks and some believe every word. From a man they have never met. From a man that didn’t actually write the words he just spoke. From a man who has been involved in politics his whole life. Why would they believe him? Why don’t they question his every word? That would be the logical thing to do. It is almost as if these people want to be led down the primrose path… It boggles the mind!

That brings me to the subject of presidential speech writers, or speech writers in general. The presidential oath of office should be amended to read as follows. “I (insert your name here) do solemnly swear…and furthermore, I pledge to write my own speeches.” For when you have to craft your own speeches you are forced to think about each word that you will utter. You will be face to face with the importance of those words. A sobering thought indeed!

When the president reads a good speech these days, he is rewarded with high praise by all who adore him. Euphoria abounds! And after the applause dies down, the speech writer, a nameless denizen of that world of power that the president inhabits is still nameless…but he has a paycheck this week!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Moving is a real blow to the comfort of status quo and as you prepare for that fateful day, you see your life being reduced to clutter and cardboard. Very Important decisions are now made concerning those things you once considered treasures; trash or not trash. Sometimes I wish I could just wake up and find myself in our new home and consider the whole moving experience to have been a bad dream.

It’s hard to imagine that your whole life can fit into a series of boxes; some large and some quite small. Perhaps I should count the boxes and then I could state with some pride that I have a 72 box life! But that would lead into discussions (or arguments) about regulation box size and were the boxes all filled to the top? Just that thought alone makes me philosophical and I have this sudden urge to write about the shallowness of a life filled with empty boxes…Somebody stop me!

Friday, May 21, 2004

I have read the newspaper this morning and the news is disturbing as usual. Why do I read the news? Because I have a need to be informed, even when it’s bad news. I can’t imagine living without the news. And the news this morning is of the continuing Iraqi prisoner abuse. Some people are trying desperately to make excuses for the soldiers, but today the Army released a statement, confirming that 90% of the prisoners had been detained by “mistake”. Mistake and 90% should never be used in the same sentence.

A report by the Red Cross (ICRC) on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces has been published on the website of the Wall Street Journal.

The report refers to "serious violations of international humanitarian law" by coalition forces.
It catalogues ill-treatment by coalition soldiers - including some which resulted in deaths of inmates.

The confidential report had been given to US and UK officials in February.

The Red Cross inspected jails in Iraq between May and November 2003 and made 29 visits to prison facilities in central and southern Iraq during that time.

The report also criticizes the way in which arrests were made and says detentions tended to follow a pattern.

"Arresting authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property," it says.

"Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people," it continues.

"Treatment often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching and kicking and striking with rifles."

The report also says some troops told the Red Cross that 70% to 90% of those detained had been arrested by mistake.

What I find irritating is the fact that apologists who tell us how evil these detainees might have been...ignore the fact that they were "suspects" only, not convicted of any crime. And even if they had been "convicted", that would not give anyone the right to abuse them. Is this how we demonstrate the benefits of democracy?