Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Dream Girl, Part 3

Dan and Donna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
While still in college, Donna and I kept in contact. She'd come to Louisville every once in a while and I'd sometimes meet her while here.

She decided to attend the Southern Baptist Seminary and, during one trip here to investigate that, my parents invited her to spend the night at our house. I met up with her at the Seminary and, while I had moved past any interest in her (or so I thought), when I saw her that night, her eyes sparkled. She was aglow with energy and wit and I was entranced.

We went home that night and stayed up until the wee hours just talking and laughing in my parents' living room. She told me later, she was glad that we seemed to have moved to a better place in our friendship and was impressed with the ease of the conversation.

For my part, I kept thinking, "I wonder what she would say if I proposed to her right now?"

I didn't propose that night, but we did begin dating again, and soon we were discussing marriage and working on happily ever after.

One of the things I'm glad of is that we have managed to navigate the waters of our continued growth while mostly canoeing in the same direction. By that, I mean that we were both pretty traditional, conservative Christians when we were dating (she, being the more progressive of we two - I would NEVER have considered going to the SB Seminary back then, it was way too liberal for me!).

As we've aged and grown in our faith, we've moved away from the traditional somewhat, but we've moved together. Neither of the Young Dan or Donna would have married the Present Day Dan or Donna, our beliefs would have been too different (I was a Reagan Republican back in the day!).

But here we are, nearly half our lives later, still working on happily ever after.

Happy Birthday, Donna. I love you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Dream Girl, Part 2

Donna and Dan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
After high school, I went off to Murray State University in search of woodworking fame and fortune. Unfortunately, I was not college material at the time.

On the plus side, not attending all my classes freed up my time for higher pursuits.


It was a Baptist Student Union retreat when I first saw her. We were playing volleyball and she was wearing a shirt listing the 70 or so kids in her graduating class at Carlisle County High School.

Coming from the Big Town with a class of 500 or so, I felt obliged to tease her about the size of her class. I was smooth.

Having found out her name and dormitory, I smoothly signed up for something called Big Brothers/Little Sisters (or something like that) in which fellas from the male dormitory could "adopt" a young lady from the female dorm. I was not thinking brotherly thoughts, though.

We saw a couple of movies together Friday the 13th and Disney's Lady and the Tramp - there's a stretch! and, despite my ineptitude at the dating arts, we fell for each other. Soon we were walking home in the dark, holding hands and having that first kiss outside her dormitory.

Young love!

But, young love being what it is, it was doomed to not last. After the first failed semester at Murray, I returned to Louisville while she stayed in college. We continued a long-distance relationship for a while, and truly loved each other.

Nonetheless, with much cowardice on my part (I'm not ready for marriage at 20!!), I told her I thought we ought to break it off. Painful, painful.

WILL Dan and Donna get back together?! HOW will their life turn out?!

Tune in tomorrow...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Sunset Silhouette
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
A couple of quick notes.

1. Be sure to visit Michael's latest post in which he points to a new article which illustrates the failure of the Iraq Invasion to decrease terrorism.

According to the Mother Jones article, fatal terrorist attacks committed by jiadists has increased sevenfold since the Iraq Invasion.

This is not news to most of us, who recognized (and loudly pointed out) BEFORE the invasion even began that such an effort could not be part of the "war on terrorism" because Iraq had nothing significant to do with terrorism in the first place and because an unprovoked attack against a sovereign nation to try to kill terrorists could only make things worse.

Congratulations to Team Bush for being determined to show We, the People (remember the unprecedented millions worldwide who rallied before the war to stop it?) to be sadly correct. Sometimes, the majority is right and the People ought to be heeded.

2. Speaking of the People, Barack Obama and George W Bush are both coming to Louisville to speak to Us. Obama's visit is a fundraiser for his campaign and Bush's is a fundraiser for Sen. Mitch McConnell's doomed campaign.

With Bush's tickets costing $2000 and Obama's costing $25, we can see pretty well which People each camp respectively represents.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cold as Ice

Frozen Waterfall
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
For those who may not have grown up Baptist (or some other evangelical flavor), you may or may not know that every church has a group of deacons who serve as lay volunteers to assist in the church. In the Bible, deacons were appointed specifically to help with the feeding of the poor and redistribution of wealth within the church.

Nowadays, deacons have often devolved into those who also run the church, helping the pastor make monetary, building and other decisions. On the positive side, in most churches, the deacons help keep in touch with church members, make sure they’re doing okay, visit them in times of need…that sort of thing.

And, in some churches, they also help with poverty-related assistance, but this seems to be fairly rare.

In many (most?) Baptist churches, the process for becoming a deacon often involves a time of “grilling” – asking the deacons theological questions to make sure they’re religious enough to be deacons and that they believe correctly.

I bring this up because I was talking to a relative of mine who was recently nominated to be a deacon. Now, this is a fairly conservative relation and, after much prayer and consideration, he decided to give it a shot.

One concern he had was that he drinks alcohol occasionally – a few times a year in small amounts. Being aware that the Bible nowhere condemns the drinking of alcohol (and, in fact, encourages it in small amounts for one’s health), he figured that wasn’t a problem, but he brought it up to his pastor ahead of time to ask if it were a problem.

He said he’d even be willing to forgo drinking alcohol while a deacon, if it were a stumbling block for anyone. But, being a member of a church where biblical literality was essential and since alcohol isn’t condemned biblically, he figured he was okay.

Well, Baptists being what they are, he wasn’t okay. His nomination was rejected out of hand until such time as he’s “been off” alcohol for a few years to prove that he’s not a drinker.

My relation was stung by the “Literalists.”

Although still quite conservative, he was a bit put off by the incident. He didn’t realize that what he needed to believe literally was not the Bible but the traditions of that particular church (and denomination, for the most part).

We agreed that no one takes the Bible literally literally, page-for-page, word-for-word. Anyone who values biblical teaching has to weigh what the Bible says in each part against the whole and against our God-given reason.

And while it’s obvious that no one takes the Bible word-for-word literally (kill disrespectful children, don’t go to banks, don’t invest, free prisoners every seven years, return land to the original owners every 50 years, pluck out our eyes, love our enemies, overcome evil with good, etc, etc, etc), many prefer to think that the beliefs of their church ARE the literal teachings of the Bible – even the ones that contradict biblical teachings.

My relation agreed with me that what IS vital for Bible-believers is that we take the Truths of the Bible literally.

It’s a shame. My family member is a great, compassionate fellow who would have been a kind and responsible deacon.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Dream Girl, Part 1

My Dream Girl
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
We were destined to be together, Donna and I.

This is the year that Donna and I have lived together as long as not. I'm not saying how old she is turning here in a few days (and, I, a few days later), but we'll have been married 22 years this June and, thus, will have lived together as long as we had lived apart before our marriage.

Although she was a country girl and I was a city boy - separated by hundreds of Kentucky miles - we were bound by a love of bicycles and wide open spaces, as you can see in this photo of young Donna Beth with her older brother, David.

We grew up unaware of one another's presence. She was baptized in her Southern Baptist church at age eight and I, in my Southern Baptist church at age ten. She graduated at the top of her class in her western Kentucky high school and I, well I graduated from my Louisville high school.

(Or, looking at it another way, she was only the 69th or so from the bottom of her class and I was probably about 250 or so away from the bottom of my class. It's all in how you frame things.)

We both grew up to be youth leaders in our respective traditonal churches, going to the same sorts of Baptist camps, crying over Pass it On ("I'll shout it from the mountain tops! I want the world to know....") around the campfire. Seriously silly.

She practiced Keith Green songs on the piano, I tried to play them on the guitar. We were so alike in so many ways.

But, there she was - stuck south of Possum Trot (just down the road from where Elvis was born) and I was firmly rooted in the Derby City. How would we ever manage to meet?!

More to come...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Unintended Consequences

Tarmilat Faces
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
The notion of unintended consequences came up in the previous post and I want to bring it out into the light of a new post. In brief, the idea is that, given humanity’s limited genius, actions we take will almost always have the likelihood of having unintended consequences. Sometimes helpful, oftentimes not and sometimes quite devastating.

The Laws of Unintended Consequences are, I think, easier to see in example than explain in theory.

For instance, the Treaty of Versailles signed at the conclusion of WWI – which treated Germans fairly harshly, it has been said – has been pointed to as one cause of WWII. The idea was to punish Germany “appropriately” for their part in WWI, but the result was a people who were receptive to the horrible actions of the Nazis in WWII.

What was intended for good had a result of evil.

For a more recent example, one commenter noted that the supposedly good intention of increasing ethanol (and thereby decreasing our dependency upon petroleum) has had the unintended result of causing corn prices to increase dramatically in Mexico.

This writer was arguing against sending aid to the starving of Africa or Mexico because it would have unintended – and negative – consequences for the very people do-gooders hoped to help.

But, it could be further noted, that NOT sending assistance of some sort may result in a restlessness and anger amongst the poor of the world, making them more receptive to the seduction of terrorism or other violent protest. Yet more unintended consequences!

It could be noted that a fear of unintended consequences could well lead to a paralysis. However, ignoring the laws of unintended consequences may well mean disastrous policy (from war-making, to economic policy, to energy consumption and on).

I’d be tempted to suggest that a middle road is vital. Acknowledge our limited genius and the possibility of unintended consequences, but further acknowledge that inaction has its own consequences – just as often negative in nature.

But, I fully recognize my own limited genius. What say you?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Dogs of War

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is the big winner in President Bush's proposed budget for next year, while domestic items such as aid to schools and grants to local governments will get slight increases.

Medicare and Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled, would shoulder modest but politically difficult cost curbs in the budget the White House is submitting to Congress on Monday…

Bush's spending plan totals almost $3 trillion for the budget year starting October 1…

The Pentagon, which also consumes one-sixth of the overall budget, would get an 11 percent increase, to $481.4 billion in its core budget. And that is before accounting for an additional $235 billion in war costs over the next year and a half.


In summation: US military spending for this year if Bush has his way: $480 billion + ~$200 billion for Iraq. Something approaching ¾ of a TRILLION dollars.

A couple of other notes (source here):
* world military spending having reached the $1 trillion mark in 2004
* The top five nations and their military budgets (2005 Budgets):
1. US: ~$500 billion
2. China: ~$62 billion
3. Russia: ~$62 billion
4. UK: ~$51 billion
5. Japan: ~$45 billion

I look at this, and Bush and his “small gov’t” budget, and I wonder: If the Bush supporters had their way – if no one complained and they had their sweetest military fantasies come true – what would our military budget be?

Would $1 trillion dollars a year buy our security? $2 trillion?

Where would it end?

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

~James Madison

Friday, February 2, 2007

A Great Lady

Moss Lady b/w
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Molly Ivins, August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007

What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.

It's hard to argue against cynics -- they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.

It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.

Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.

Let me say for the umpteenth time, George W. is not a stupid man. The IQ of his gut, however, is open to debate. In Texas, his gut led him to believe the death penalty has a deterrent effect, even though he acknowledged there was no evidence to support his gut's feeling. When his gut, or something, causes him to announce that he does not believe in global warming -- as though it were a theological proposition -- we once again find his gut ruling that evidence is irrelevant.

In my opinion, Bush's gut should not be entrusted with making peace in the Middle East.

The problem with those who choose received Authority over fact and logic is how they choose which part of Authority to obey. The Bible famously contradicts itself at many points (I have never understood why any Christian would choose the Old Testament over the New), and the Koran can be read as a wonderfully compassionate and humanistic document. Which suggests that the problem of fundamentalism lies not with authority, but with ourselves.

I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.

And finally, from her last column, January 11, 2007:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there.

Rest in Peace, Miss Molly