Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holy Spirit and Poetry

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day and All Souls Day

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
3:1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.

3:2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction,

3:3 And their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.

3:4 For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.

3:5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

3:6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.

3:7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.

3:8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples and the Lord will reign over them forever.

3:9 Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Good Article for Labor Day

Monday, July 20, 2009

State Fair Food - Fried Food -

State Fair Food - Fried Food - delish.comI recall a food writer in New Orleans complain that someone would sell Oyster’s Rockefeller on a stick and Bananas Foster in a Cup.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Calvin Resources 500 Years July 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Economics is among many disciplines that essentially remain mysteries to me. At Georgia, we had to take an absurd number of survey courses. Such a curriculum safeguarded departmental jobs and status. We had to take 25-quarter hours from social science courses. I took ethics, introduction to sociology, elementary psychology, and introduction to philosophy. My last quarter, because I petitioned with the daughter of a distinguished professor, a dean to let us substitute political geography for an introductory geography, I got to take a fantastic social sciend course.

All the elementary social science courses had major flaws—an easy “A” but with little substance. They uniformly were the most boring courses I ever endured. The worst were ethics and introduction to philosophy. The author of the text for the later course eventually became a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. The instructor for the ethics course became an attorney for Procter and Gamble.

I did not take anthropology or economics because I did not want to play at disciplines that I had thought might have been good major fields of study. I used to read widely from sociology and psychology. I read less widely from anthropology and somewhat selectively from economics.

Economics courses when I was a university student were often less mathematical than they might be today and more ideologically driven than most professors might have admitted. I had the Samuelson textbook for economics. I even read most of it. I read economists who did not use much mathematical framework. I read John Kenneth Galbraith, Frederick Hayek, and somewhat late Milton Friedman. I have never read von Mises.

I did not read Hayek on economics directly but I did deeply admire and appreciate his political work, especially his fine book The Constitution of Liberty. I did not much care for his book The Road to Serfdom.

Hayek was a deeply honest scholar. He understood what was salient about Marxism, for example. I thought he was wrong about labor unions but I weighed that by the Austrian context within which he formed his outlook. In my life when I had union shop jobs, I enjoyed a good work environment. When I worked in non-union shops, my employers screwed me. That was already my standard.

I found much to admire in Milton Friedman. His views were already important in the Republican Party. I was an ardent Republican, somewhat more a Northeast Yankee one than a Western one.

What bothered me about both Hayek and Friedman was their zeal to divorce economics from ethics. I did not want to jump too easily into Marxist critiques as a substitute for a moral vision, even though they often had useful insights.

A writer who influenced me more politically was Karl Popper. He was a careful, thoughtful, but also polemical critic of the Frankfurt School critics of capitalism. I took Popper very seriously. He taught George Soros, who used Popper’s theories as a ground for his financial speculations. Popper was not an economist but a political theorist.

Wendy Doniger knew Popper through her father when she was a child. He did not bowl her over. He bowled me over.

Galbraith was a counterpoint to the Republican ideologues who influenced me. The other influences on me were Kenneth Boulding and distributionism, particularly in the work of Fr John Ryan. When Howard Pew tried to subvert the National Council of Churches to his economic views, Boulding worked with J. Irvin Miller, and Eugene Carson Blake to thwart Pew. Miller was a hero to me. I regret that I never met him. He wrote a fine pamphlet about ownership and private property that I keep glued into my copy of Paul Lehmann’s Ethics in a Christian Context.

My knowledge of economics and rhetorical skills are meager. I do not have a clear notion of how to relate Christian life and thought to the topic, but I do think it important that we do just that.

My main problem with much ideological presentation of economics is how black and white the proponents make it, especially those who dominate the right wing of the Republican Party. Remember Mr. Miller was a prominent Republican and a highly successful businessperson. He was also the first lay president of the National Council of Churches and one of us (Disciples). He read the New Testament in Greek.

I am less concerned with mathematical models (one can shape them to model one’s prejudices) than with thinking about fundamental assumptions with reference to biblical and theological interpretation. This is a vital and central concern of mine.

Memory of

Draft of a memory:

My father decided, probably well before my birth, I was going to become an engineer—not just any engineer but in particular an electrical engineer. When I applied for college, I made one application, one only. That was an application to an engineering school. He assumed only one major, though he mentioned once that either mechanical or civil engineering would be (barely) acceptable alternative majors.

I recall never having any interest in electrical engineering. The subject always seemed impenetrable to me. It seemed overly abstract. The nearest I came to the subject was changing tubes in my amplifier.

I was the only child I knew who owned an amplifier and collection of classical records from the time I was about 12 or 13-years-old, but I had no idea how the system worked. The tubes burned out and I wanted to hear music. That was as far as intrigue developed. The tubes were a means to an end. The end was enjoying listening to music, though not understanding music.

I do not recall showing much interest in designing mechanical things, though I did like the notion of road racing. I recall reading books about it and, in particular, a biography or autobiography of the Indy racer Wilbur Shaw.

My father required that I tear down an automobile engine and put it back together before I got a driver’s license. That was the engine of a 1948 Chevrolet. Knowing how the car worked did delight me.

At one time in my youth, I even owned the frame, drive train, V-8 engine, hydromantic transmission, tires, and seat for a 1949 Pontiac automobile. I did not have a speedometer but I estimated that I drove the contrapation at least 80-miles-an-hour on a test track—an old back road. My father gave me that contraption. I would not have imagined obtaining it on my own. But I did enjoy, once I began driving, imitating how I thought road racers executed their routes—that caused me to end turned about in a ditch. That happened on the night of a prom, for which I had not bothered to have a date.

From the time I was seven, the world of space travel dominated my fantasy life. That world just dominated the structure of my fantasies. I also read books about mountain climbing and road racing. I liked books about exploration and sea travel. The film documentaries Kon Tiki and some years later The Silent World caught my fancy. I recall reading the book Kon Tiki many years after I saw the documentary movie. The odd thing about both those books and films was that I had (and still have) an absolute terror of the ocean. I enjoyed reading accounts of mountain climbing expeditions. Maurice Herzog’s account of the conquest of Annapurna particularly intrigued me. I read that not long after Norgan and Hillary climbed Everest.

The famous Nordhoff and Hall trilogy of novels about the Bounty mutiny intrigued me. I read them with great pleasure. I think that I probably thought that they were almost non-fictional accounts. I recall reading books by Melville about the southern oceans. I also enjoyed reading accounts of Greek history culled from Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War. For whatever reason, I recall liking Alcibiades more than most of the other players. I very much liked two books for young people, A Day in Old Athens and A Day in Old Rome, the later set in the time of the Emperor Hadrian, who seemed to be someone after my own heart.

One of the first three adult books I set out to read was The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck, a book I read just before my first camping trip as a Boy Scout. At the same time, I tried to read Descartes Meditations. It seemed to have something to do with candles. The edition was part of a Mentor series in pocket paperback. The third book was an account of famous train wrecks. Bees intrigued me, in part, because my father kept them.

I grasped that Descartes was talking about how something endures even as it changes. There is something behind change but I still just thought that the change itself was that something, not something outside the change that remained real. It was all quite confusing to me. I did not have the mentality to ask what I needed to ask as I read. That did not frustrate me all that much—it just fermented in the back of my awareness. I am not certain that I ever really developed beyond the concrete stage of thinking. Abstractions are still merely that. I seem to need images or analogies of some sort .

I do not know how old I was when I discovered Rachel Carson. I do recall with great fondness Under the Sea Wind. Her books were paper pocket books with lovely illustrations. They were the most beautiful writing I encountered in my youth outside The Wind in the Willows.

Several subjects interested me when I was young. I spent a great deal of time working on my science fiction fantasy world—that went on from age seven to around fourteen. Another subject involves simply looking at life—taking it all in. Part of that was looking at animals. We lived in a suburb, but for many years, a large field was one house away from my parents’ home. Farm animals like mules were a few houses away in either direction. A stream flowed near enough for me to spend hours exploring it. What I took to be swamps were near as was a lake.

I enjoyed the spiders in my father’s vineyard and grubs in the grassy yard. I enjoyed the bumble bees that nested in the wooden frame of our goat shed. The notion of the life of a naturalist never seems to have entered my imagination. The notion of animal behaviorist did. I was quite interested in the delivery of puppies, kittens, and kids (goats). I enjoyed being with my cat or our dog when they had babies. I recall looking at the naked body of a girl I liked. I thought about how her body would conceive babies and bring them into being, just as my own body was designed to enable her to do just that. I could never make love without thinking that is how we all come to be.

I read popular accounts of science for children from about the fourth or fifth grade (I think). I thought that I understood nuclear physics because the little science news magazine to which I subscribed offered me that illusion.

Through the influence of my father, I read science fiction. Amazing Stories influenced me. I liked Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Arthur C. Clark wrote some of my favorite science fiction works. What he wrote seemed doable.

I particularly liked Jules Verne, in part, because his books reminded me of novels by the elder Alexander Dumas. The editions of the Dumas novels I read were from Scribner and featured splendid illustrations by N. C. Wyeth that I liked as much as or even more than the novels themselves. Dumas apparently had a staff of assistant writers who composed description of places. I think those were what I most liked about the narratives. I recall a splendid description of a country inn in one of the novels.

The most influential (to me) science fiction work before I began reading Ray Bradbury was Clifford Simak’s City, which I seem to have read it around 1953 or 1954. The book haunted me throughout my seven years or so of science fiction fantasy. It matched my elegiac temperament.

My siblings fascinated me. I loved watching how they developed, both as physical beings and, more notably, as human persons.

What never seems to have entered my mind was much curiosity about musical theory, abstract thinking, or mathematics. I certainly had no flare for these topics. Music was an immense mystery. I wondered why, when I tried to play the piano, the sound I heard was not the sound I heard in my head. The notion that I had to do something beyond hitting keys was beyond my limited keen.

On the other hand, mechanics did intrigue me. The notion that a seemingly motionless structure was, in fact, dynamic did fascinate me. I used to play with calculations for structures. I also had some sort of spatial sense. I spent hours playing with spatial models in my mind. I loved creating structures and fantasy building in my imagination. I liked the notion of drawing and painting but I had no ability to do either, much to my regret.

When I studied geometry, the notion of proofs also intrigued me. I used to dream the solutions to geometrical theorems. When I read about non-Euclidean geometry, I grew excited. I also like analytical geometry. I do not know why. I liked typology and number theory. However, I did not think like a scientist or mathematician. All that came second hand.

Thus, it was with annoyance and lack of ability that I entered college.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Supreme Court Ruling on School Search

If we disregard the rights of children, we teach them not to regard the rights of other human beings as we undermine our own humanity. However, qualifying factors determine the protection of any right. None is absolute.

On the other hand, the strip search of this young woman clearly violated her human rights because the violation of her privacy outweighed any danger to her or other students. The search was out of proportion of any harm the victim might have caused or might cause. The problem was the lack of prudence school officials exhibited. They acted against the victim without forethought and proportion.

These school officials acted in an unprofessional, unreasonable, and thoughtless way. However, financial penalties might not be fair because of the climate of control that dominates our thinking about school. In some ways, our schools are little prisons, not civilized communities. We make our school administrators wardens rather than educators.

Criticism of Justice Thomas might be in order, but the man is intelligent and thoughtful. He is not the caricature his critics often make him out to be. I dislike him and have, I confess, little respect for him or his views, but the attacks on him seem excessive.
"Who Will Rid Me of This Troublesome Doctor?": Bill O’Reilly, King Henry II, and George Tiller | Media/Culture | ReligionDispatches

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photographer Jodi Cobb's Biography, Photos, Pictures, Wallpapers - National Geographic

Photographer Jodi Cobb's Biography, Photos, Pictures, Wallpapers - National Geographic

Simon Critchley Commentary on "How to Make It in the Afterlife"

"After he had been condemned to death on the trumped up charges of corrupting the youth of Athens and failing to revere the local gods, Socrates began to ruminate on the afterlife before an audience of his judges.

"He said that death is one of two possibilities. Either it is a long dreamless sleep and really rather pleasant, or it is a passage to another place, namely Hades, and there we’ll be able to hang out with Homer, Hesiod and rest of the Greek heroes, which sounds great. Socrates’ point is that we do not know whether death is the end or some sort of continuation. He concludes by saying only God knows the answer to this question. Of course, this makes it a little tricky if you don’t, like me, have the good fortune to believe in God."
Simon Critchley,Philosopher, The New York Times 6/24/09

Simon Critchley

Monday, June 22, 2009

Death from Religious Bigots

You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be.

Jesus Healing a Woman
Date: Third-fourth century
Artist: Unidentified
Building: Vatican Museum

Object/Function: Sarcophagus
Material: Stone
City/Town: Rome

Country: Italy

Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Moses said: "If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, "The seventh year, the year of remission, is near," and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the LORD against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, "Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land." NRSV

To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise | Religion & Theology | ReligionDispatches

Image; Harvard University Press, 2009.

To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise | Religion & Theology | ReligionDispatches

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People like us don’t do Wal-Mart. The very name conjures retrograde rednecks, and the company’s M.O.— it’s sexism, anti-unionism, low wages, insufficient health care, foreign product sourcing, adverse environmental practices, and toxic impact on local businesses—has made its moniker synonymous with free-market blight. But people like us sometimes miss the obvious, which is why we’ve been on the losing side of American politics for 40-plus years. Snookered by the Southern strategy, reamed by the Reagan revolution, cowed by the Christian Right and whacked by WMDs, we hope that Barack Obama is the change we can believe in. But we’re still missing an analysis we can understand. Sadly, without that piece, no change is secure since progressives need to understand what went wrong—as well as how and why we’ve been ignorant of and alienated from the main currents in American life.
Reviewer: Diane Winston

Bethany Moreton, Ph.D. is a professor at the University of Georgia.

See also:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Executive Compensation

Anti-Abortion Demonstrator at Mardi Gras

Documentary Photograph.

Failure of Financial Regulation

"Though we don’t know how Obama will fare on all the challenges he faces this summer, last week’s big rollout of his financial reform package was a big punt, an accommodation to the status quo." Frank Rich, The New York Times, 6/21/09.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Another Effort to Negate Human Rights

No one claims that Roe granted an absolute right to abortion. However, there are proper medical reasons to grant access to abortion in late term pregnancy. The decision has to be with a woman and her physician--not some distorted notion of natural law. The argument listed in the first piece distorts this reality.

Frederick Clarkson rightly complains, "In fact, the contemporary conversation on abortion is sobadly framed, that it amounts to disguising anti-abortion agendas in thelanguage of common ground..."

"...When the darlings of common grounders -- like Rick Warren -- stop calling abortion a Holocaust (and prochoice advocates "holocaust deniers), and apologize to majority of Americans, religious and non-religious, who consider abortion to be a moral choice, that may help".


Aung San Sun Kyi


Fort Pickens, Flordia

One of my favorite places.

RD Blog: The Devil's Advocate | ReligionDispatches

RD Blog: The Devil's Advocate | ReligionDispatches

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Ed Knudson on Why a Christian Can Perform or Receive an Abortion

"Both Luther and Calvin maintained a strong sense of the holiness and otherness of God beyond human rational comprehension. This is one reason Lutherans are hesitant to make large claims about knowing the will of God in specific instances. God is God.

"Humans are fallible creatures who are constantly disobeying the first commandment not to worship other gods. The way people like Robert George talk about the biological process makes it seem as if the biology itself is a sort of divine power. They worship the biology rather than the source of life itself.

"But one of the most important traditions of all Christian faith is that the world, including the biology, is broken. Indeed, for that reason the historic church has supported the use of medical arts for healing.

"Women coming to Dr. Tiller did so as a last resort when the biological process was somehow broken. Medical technology now makes it possible for women to know the status of the fetus before birth; to learn, for example, that a fetus will be born without a brain with no chance of viability. Dr. Tiller would perform an abortion for such a woman out of compassion and care. He wanted to use his medical knowledge for the benefit of women so that they could see new possibilities for their lives in the future."

On Religion, Abortion, and Politics: Dr. George Tiller's Christian Ethics | Religion & Theology | ReligionDispatches

On Religion, Abortion, and Politics: Dr. George Tiller's Christian Ethics | Religion & Theology | ReligionDispatches

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"Both Luther and Calvin maintained a strong sense of the holiness and otherness of God beyond human rational comprehension. This is one reason Lutherans are hesitant to make large claims about knowing the will of God in specific instances. God is God.

"Humans are fallible creatures who are constantly disobeying the first commandment not to worship other gods. The way people like Robert George talk about the biological process makes it seem as if the biology itself is a sort of divine power. They worship the biology rather than the source of life itself.

"But one of the most important traditions of all Christian faith is that the world, including the biology, is broken. Indeed, for that reason the historic church has supported the use of medical arts for healing.

"Women coming to Dr. Tiller did so as a last resort when the biological process was somehow broken. Medical technology now makes it possible for women to know the status of the fetus before birth; to learn, for example, that a fetus will be born without a brain with no chance of viability. Dr. Tiller would perform an abortion for such a woman out of compassion and care. He wanted to use his medical knowledge for the benefit of women so that they could see new possibilities for their lives in the future."

Ed Knudson from Religious Dispatches June 19, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

"What's That About? Killing Muslims and Jews?"

I find Religious Dispatches an excellent resource for tolerance and polite reporting about religion. This is the web site:

Photograph from Religious Dispatches Blog.

Recently, my eleven year-old daughter told one of her fifth grade Sunday school classmates that her mother had written a book on church history. He replied, “What’s that about? Killing Muslims and Jews?” That pretty well sums it up—most people think that Christian history is about wars, inquisitions, crusades, and a corrupt church. I don’t deny that—it would be impossible to—but many people have managed to live admirable lives despite Christianity’s institutional failings. And I write about those people. I’m a realist when it comes to history, and part of that is a realistic assessment of when Christianity has lived up to the teachings of its founder. A People’s History is about war; it is about love of God and love of neighbor.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thomas Paine 200th Anniversary of his Death June 8, 2009

Oil painting by Auguste Millière (1880), after an engraving by William Sharp, after a portrait by George Romney (1792). 16 x 12 inches (406 x 305 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 897. from Wikipedia.

I have always regarded Paine as one of the greatest of all Americans. Never have we had a sounder intelligence in this republic . . . It was my good fortune to encounter Thomas Paine's works in my boyhood . . . it was, indeed, a revelation to me to read that great thinker's views on political and theological subjects. Paine educated me, then, about many matters of which I had never before thought. I remember, very vividly, the flash of enlightenment that shone from Paine's writings, and I recall thinking, at that time, 'What a pity these works are not today the schoolbooks for all children!' My interest in Paine was not satisfied by my first reading of his works. I went back to them time and again, just as I have done since my boyhood days.[

Thomas Edison, Introduction to The Life and Works of Thomas Paine, Citadel Press, New York, 1945 Vol. I, p.vii-ix. Reproduced online on, accessed November 4, 2006. From Wikipedia.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saint Augustine on the American Empire

" it reasonable, is it sensible, to boast of the extent and grandeur of empire, when you cannot show that men lived in happiness, as they passed their lives amid the horrors of war, amid the shedding of men's blood--whether the blood of enemies or fellow citizens--under the shadow of fear and amid the terror of ruthless ambition?"

-Augustine City of God 4.3 (Bettenson, 138).

"Why sex tells you nothing about what it means to be human."

From Faith and Theology blog:

There’s a storm of comments responding to Halden’s post – but personally, I think he’s absolutely right. In this connection, I think more Christians would benefit from reading Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Volume 1 (1976). Foucault overturns the historical myth that we are liberating ourselves from a period of sexual “repression”; on the contrary, one of the central themes of modernity is the idea that we must constantly speak about our sexuality

"Foucault’s argument shows that we are obsessed not with sex itself (as a physical act), but with “the truth of sex” – with the idea that sex is a revelation of truth. Thus we form sexual sub-cultures; we worry about the ever-more-precise definition of all our sexual habits and preferences (just look at the amazing proliferation of technical sexual terminology since the 19th century); we constantly think about our sexuality; we write about it incessantly; we “confess” our sexual secrets and peculiarities to counsellors and psychoanalysts; we have never been fully honest about ourselves until we have given utterance to our sexuality."

Historical Document

Post Under Construction

Ameican Murders

"Americans kill each other at roughly the rate of 16,000 a year! From racial violence to family violence to gang warfare to street crime to mass murder — the blood never stops flowing."

Bob Herbert, NYT 6/13/09


"In 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in a letter from a Birmingham jail, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” That’s still true.

"Hateful people are loud — to disguise their cowardice and shame. But good, decent people are by far the majority, and we dare not be silent. There can be no family too close and no friend too dear for hatred to go unchecked. Allowing it to do so diminishes the better, more noble parts of ourselves."

Charles Blow, NYT 6/13/09

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day 60 Years Later

Image from Wikipedia.

We remember.

Violence Against Women

Violence against women and girls represents a global health, economic development, and human rights problem. At least one out of every three women worldwide are beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates reaching 70% in some countries. The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) is an unprecedented effort by the United States to address violence against women globally.

Religion Is Not About God, Loyal Rue

"Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Edward O. Wilson writes about Rue’s Religion is not About God – 'This book is an important step towards the naturalistic, hence truly general theory of religion. It harmonizes contemporary scientific understanding of the origin of human nature with a positive view of the centrality of religious culture'” ^ Religion is not About God – Rutgers University Press , 2005, book flap, ISBN 0-8135-3511-5 from Wikipedia article on Professor Rue.

D-Day Plus 60 Years

Public Domain

Friday, June 5, 2009

U. S. Conference of (Roman Catholic) Bishops

Do your part to protect women and girls around the world from senseless acts of violence.

Photo public domain site.

U.S. Bishops Express ‘Profound Regret’ about Shooting Death of Abortion Doctor

WASHINGTON—Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, expressed profound regret upon learning of the shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller.

"Our bishops' conference and all its members have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion," Cardinal Rigali said. "Such killing is the opposite of everything we stand for, and everything we want our culture to stand for: respect for the life of each and every human being from its beginning to its natural end. We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family."


Most Reverend Michael O. Jackels
Diocese of Wichita
Chancery Office
424 North Broadway
Wichita, KS 67202

Priest's Letter about Dr. Tiller

"The likes of Bill O’Riley, Randall Terry, and the other strident voices of hate primed Tiller’s murderer. They may not have pulled the trigger, but the radical anti-abortionists put the gun in his hand, imbedded twisted divine sanction in his mind, and poured bitter hate into his heart. All these disclaimers of “not me” are so cowardly and vacuous. These fanatics are accessories before the fact to the murder of Dr. Tiller. . . .

" I don’t believe Dr. Tiller or any other human being would say abortion is a good thing. No one gets pregnant to have an abortion. But there are times abortion is deemed a necessary thing. And when that choice arises, the decision to act should be made by the woman and the man responsible, in consultation with their physician. Such a very personal decision should not be made by a group of fanatics, who claim divine sanction on whatever extreme measures they choose to enforce their will. The will of such extremists was done; Dr. George Tiller was murdered."

Rev. Father Robert Layne


D-Day We live in debt to many. Bless them.
Image: Wikipedia.

Planned Parenthood

Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

A Center for Christian-Muslim Engagement

Nonesuch Records

Nonesuch Records and the Criterion Collection

Orange Prize 2009

'This year's Orange Prize winner has a luminous quality to it that has drawn all of the judges to a unanimous decision. The profound nature of the writing stood out, as has the ability of writer to draw the reader into a world of hope expectation, misunderstanding, love and kindness.' Fi Glover, chair of judges

Important Commentary in NYT

"The 9-year-old girl had been raped by her father. She was 18 weeks pregnant. Carrying the baby to term, going through labor and delivery, would have ripped her small body apart. There was no doctor in her rural Southern town to provide her with an abortion. No area hospital would even consider taking her case. Susan Hill, the president of the National Women’s Health Foundation, which operates reproductive health clinics in areas where abortion services are scarce or nonexisistent, called Dr. George Tiller, the Wichita, Kan., ob-gyn who last Sunday was shot to death by an abortion foe in the entry foyer of his church. She begged. . . ." Judith Warner

“I believe that another response to this killing must be to demand that the mainstream medical community acknowledge the reality that there will always be some women who need abortions later on in pregnancy.Local medical institutions must make provision for these cases– especially since these women can no longer be sent off to Kansas, out of sight and mind of “respectable” doctors and hospitals. In the abstract, late term abortions are understandably distasteful to many. When considered in the context of real women’s lives, however, these procedures are essential. This is what George Tiller understood. This will hopefully be his legacy.”— Ann

Radical Departure

"Obama's speech marks a radical departure from the prophetically laden, right wing rhetoric that cast America and Israel together waiting for Armageddon at the hands of Arab countries. In fact, what if the speech were intended to deconstruct the simplistic mistrust of American Christianity towards Islam." Religious Dispatches.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Democracy Now Network Report

Copyright material. Consult this web site:

NCC Statement about the Murder of Dr. George Tiller

NCC statement on murder of George Tiller

Posted by: Chuck Currie on June 3, 2009 at 10:52AM EST

The following statement was released by NCC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon.

New York, June 3, 2009 -- The 35 member communions of the National Council of Churches do not have a consensus on the issue of abortion and consequently the Council has not addressed the issue.

But we do have a clear consensus about the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he was welcoming friends and visitors in the narthex of his church last Sunday: it was a cruel, despicable and evil act. It was a depravity contrary to scripture and the Word of God, and we condemn it.
Moreover, we condemn those who use Web sites, television programs, brochures and other media to encourage the impression that murder in the name of life is a righteous act. How can Satan, Jesus asked, cast out Satan? The commandment, "You shall not murder," applies to all, and no one has the authority to suspend the law of God.

Murder Is Murder, Abortion Is Not.

All honor to Dr.Tiller, who joins the list of martyrs for ethical decency and human rights, killed for healing with compassion. Dr. Tiller is a religious martyr in the fullest classical sense, killed in his own church as he arrived to worship, killed for acting in accord with his religious commitments and his moral and ethical choices. (The American Jewish Congress has also condemned this murder).And all dishonor to those vicious attackers like Bill O'Reilly who have egged on the kind of violent acts that finally murdered Dr. Tiller. And who have blasphemously invoked the name of God to justify these incitements to murder.

Arthur Waskow

About Arthur Waskow (from his site)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the creators and leaders of Jewish renewal since writing the original Freedom Seder in 1969. In 1983 he founded and has since been director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. He is the author of The Limits of Defense (Doubleday), From Race Riot to Sit-In (Doubleday), Godwrestling--Round 2 (Jewish Lights), Down-to-Earth Judaism (Morrow) and, with Phyllis Berman, A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven.

Meaning of Revelation

"We climb the mountain of revelation that we may gain a view of the shadowed valley in which we dwell and from the valley we look up again to the mountain. Each arduous journey brings new understanding, but also new wonder and surprise. This mountain is not one we climbed once upon a time; it is a well-known peak we never wholly know, which must be climbed again in every generation, on every new day. There is no time or place in human history, there is no moment in the church's past, nor is there any set of doctrines, any philosophy or theology of which we might say, 'Here the knowledge possible through revelation... is fully set forth.' Revelation is not only progressive, but it requires of those to whom it has come that they begin the never-ending pilgrim's progress of the reasoning Christian heart."

H. Richard Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation, (MacMillan Publishing Company, 1941), p. 100.

Catholic Writers Guild

This is an intriguing looking group. I found it on the Literate Cathlics Unit Group on Yahoo Groups, an old and flourishing Yahoo Groug.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Statement from Reformation Lutheran Church

Media Statement
The Reformation Lutheran Church family is shocked and deeply saddened by the violent murder of Dr. George Tiller, a longtime member of our congregation, that occurred in our church home May 31.
Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.
In the wake of this tragic event, our deepest concern is for the family of George Tiller. We ask the community to join us in prayer for them as they face the difficult days ahead. Our hearts ache with them. We also ask that the family's privacy be respected.
Members of Reformation Lutheran Church have been deeply affected by this tragedy. To address their needs, we are assembling a team of crisis intervention specialists.
In this time of uncertainty, we stand firm in the promises of Jesus Christ: forgiveness, hope, love, and new life, even from death. We pray for healing and peace to be restored. We offer our thanks for the many prayers of support from across the country. Your words of encouragement are a blessing to the people of Reformation Lutheran Church and Wichita.
The Rev. Lowell MichelsonThe Rev. Kristin NeitzelReformation Lutheran Church

From a UCC Pastor on Religious Terrorism

Quoted without permission (will remove if needed):

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Assassination Of Dr. George Tiller

I am sickened and saddened by the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, which occurred this morning as he attended church services. Dr. Tiller was a health care practitioner who performed legal abortion services in Kansas and was an advocate for letting women make their own reproductive health care decisions free from government interference. Operation Rescue and other anti-choice groups have targeted Dr. Tiller with protests for years – he was shot in both arms in the early 1990s – and as CNN notes that:

On its Web site, Operation Rescue refers to Tiller as a "monster" who has "been able to get away with murder." And Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who is no longer affiliated with the group, called Tiller "a mass murderer."

"We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God," Terry said in a written statement. "I am more concerned that the Obama administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder, and we still must call abortion by its proper name."
Groups like
Operation Rescue incite violence and should be held accountable under the law.

They have condemned today’s violence butthat condemnation is empty rhetoric from an organization that has long sought to dehumanize their opponents.
My prayers today are with Dr. Tiller’s family. His wife was there singing in the choir at Reformation Lutheran Church when her husband was killed as he worshiped.

Related Post: Operation Save America Protests At Eden Theological Seminary Benefit

General Motors

Who would have thought G.M. would fail? It did cross my mind from time to time, but it still stuns me.

Updated Personal Photograph Coming Soon

The new photographs will show the fat, old man who posts here. This image is by Mike Moffett from around 1972.

Former Federal Prosecutor Bob Barr Opposes Execution of Troy Davis by the State of Georgia

Photograph from Word Bank:

Former Representive Barr writes a powerful attack on the state execution in Georgia in which there is good reason to believe the conviction is flawed. Highly recommend you read it.

"I am a firm believer in the death penalty, but I am an equally firm believer in the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution. To execute Troy Davis without having a court hear the evidence of his innocence would be unconscionable and unconstitutional." former Representative Bob Barr.

Do Not Blame Catholics for Murder of Lutheran Physician

Pro-choice author and activist Frances Kissling, from The Village Voice, copyright, 2004.

Catholics for Free Choice Statement: Dr. George Tiller
Gathered at a meeting in Washington, DC, the President and Board of Directors of Catholics for Choice issued the following statement.

“Catholics for Choice extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed as he attended church today. Dr Tiller was a courageous advocate for women. He worked tirelessly to ensure that women’s health-care needs were met, even in the most difficult circumstances. Catholics for Choice celebrates his life and work.”

Catholics for a Free Choice:

Catholic or not, the Catholic church’s role in influencing public policy affects YOU through limiting the availability of reproductive health services.
Help us fight

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lutheran Doctor Murdered

Dr. George Tiller, 1941-2009
From one of the best Catholic Blogs:

Sunday, May 31, 2009


"Whoever murdered George Tiller has done a gravely wicked thing. The evil of this action is in no way diminished by the blood George Tiller had on his own hands. No private individual had the right to execute judgment against him. We are a nation of laws. Lawless violence breeds only more lawless violence. Rightly or wrongly, George Tilller was acquitted by a jury of his peers. "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.' For the sake of justice and right, the perpetrator of this evil deed must be prosecuted, convicted, and punished. By word and deed, let us teach that violence against abortionists is not the answer to the violence of abortion. Every human life is precious. George Tiller's life was precious. We do not teach the wrongness of taking human life by wrongfully taking a human life."

-- Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University

Statement from Dr. Tiller's Wife

Anna Massey Lea Merritt Record number: [50216] Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

***UPDATE*** Tiller's wife Jeanne, his four children and ten grandchildren issued the following statement
"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.
We would like to express the family's thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.
Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."

Center for Reproductive Freedom

Protect Reproductive Freedom

The ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project protects everyone's right to make informed decisions free from government interference about whether and when to become a parent. Learn more about our work in reproductive health and take action to protect rights guaranteed to all Americans.

Protect a Woman's Right to Abortion

Stop gving money to religious groups that oppose the rights of women to reproductive freedom.

Delightful Book

I just read a delightful book, Biology and Christian Ethics, New Studies in Christian Ethics 17 by Stephen L. Clark, Series Edited by Robin Gill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), a work I needed to enjoy. Professor Clark has written a witty and wise work that balances some to the excessives of commentators, such as religious naturalists. More later.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
104:25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
104:26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
104:27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
104:28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
104:29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
104:30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
104:31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works--
104:32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
104:33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
104:35b Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!


Descent of the Holy Spirit
El Greco
Museo del Prado

Image copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

Robert Wright Interview with Ursula Goodenough

Slate Interview with Dr. Ursula Goodenough, author of The Sacred Depts of Nature.
Photograpy of Ursula Goodenough, John Heuser Photo. From Wikipedia: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
In case this is not legally possible,


In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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