Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy, Happy, Happy New Year

3 Sarahs 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Here's praying and hoping for a grace-full, blessed new year for each of us. May we each find joy and peace and comfort in the simplest pleasures, in our friends and families and stringed hootenannies; in birdsongs and cool breezes and winter hikes and summer swims.

May we find contentment in Enough. In having good food to eat and clean water to drink and a warm place to sleep.

May we seek to help others find that same contentment. May we, by our actions and words and practices, work to be peacemakers, bread-sharers, friend-makers.

May Israel and Palestine find a way to end their warring ways. May we all work to support such. May Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Colombia, the Sudan, the US and all the dangerous places of the world find more peace this year and may we work towards that end.

May our hard-pressed environment and its subset, the economy, find some relief from over-taxation. May we change our practices to better provide that relief.

Here's wishing our incoming president luck - he's going to need it. What a mess we seem to be in these days.

So, here's to a blessed new year for us all. May we find the wisdom for living a-right in these troubled days, and the strength to follow the paths of wisdom and contentment.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Across the Meadow

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
While not written for Christmas specifically, this fits the mood of the day for me - this gray, drizzly yet pleasant Christmas Eve - speaking of the possibility of gifts unknown...

The meadow in the morn
spiced with sage and the remains of the year,
covered in gentle frost
like a grandmother’s shawl
and ready to retire for the long
blessed sleep,
has sighed
and, in sighing,
breathed her sweet breath into the
scattering the starlings to the wind.

The starlings, in turn,
dash away, some to the oak
and some to the sycamore,
still others to points beyond
the meadow,
until soon, all are gone.

Save one.

The final starling has chased after
a crow
whose lonely call over the field
spoke to the emptiness that had begun
to overtake this pasture
on this early winter’s morn.

So now, this starling and this crow
have jumped and soared,
waltzed on the wind and
swung across the sky,
two dancers, two dances
gently embrace above this lonely meadow
on this no longer lonely morn.

A merry Christmas, happy holiday and pleasant weekend to one and all.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


No Hunting
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I've been in yet other conversations again about the "clear" OT teaching: "A man shall not lie with a man..." I thought I'd take a few minutes to ponder on this a bit today.

1. I don't know that it is clear at all. Sure, a cursory glance at the passage sounds like it's talking about gay behavior in general, but what use is a cursory glance?

I could go on quite a bit about why I don't think this is clear AT ALL, but let me set that aside for the moment. I'd like to set aside the arguments about what "man lies with man" even means for a minute and presume the traditionalists are correct on this point.

What of it?

2. Let's assume that this passage IS talking homosexuality in general (and that is a huge assumption). What do we do with it then?

a. We need to understand that the entire OT argument against homosexuality is based on two Leviticus verses: "Men should not lay with men" and "Men should not lay with men - if they do, you should kill them." Beyond these two passages, the only other times homosexual behavior even seems to come up are in passages related to rape and prostitution - actions that most of us agree are wrong.

b. So, let's look at that second passage: Men should not lie with men - if they do, they should be killed. From God's pen to our eyes, right? So tell me, WHY is it okay to ignore the second half of that passage? Why do we not think today that it is okay to kill men who lie with men (whatever that means)?

Has God changed? Did God say at some later point in the Bible say, "You know, where I said you ought to kill gay men, perhaps I was being too harsh. I feel bad, now. You know what? Let's NOT kill gay guys, let's just spank them or something..."?

Do you get what I'm saying? WHY is the first half of that passage accepted by some as a universal truth (that they apply to homosexuality in general) BUT the second half of the passage is NOT a universal truth? Says who?

c. The answer is: Says us. All of us. We all agree that it is a horrible WRONG to kill gay people. Not even the most conservative folk (setting aside the nuts out there) think that the second half of that passage ought to be taken literally.

d. So, WHY do we think that passage is not a universal truth? Did God at some point later in the Bible change God's mind? No. Never in the Bible does God say that the rules have changed.

We think that the second half of that passage is not universal simply because it is self-evident. We KNOW that killing gay folk is a crime and horribly wrong. A sin of the worst sort. I don't know of anyone who would disagree with me on this point.

e. And so, it seems to me that the main difference between more conservative "biblical literalists" and more progressive fans of the Bible is that the progressive ones are more than willing to admit that we use our God-given reason and inate morality (God's Law written on our hearts, the bible says) to decide issues and discern good and evil. The more literalistic types, however, are loathe to admit such.

The more conservative answer on this question would probably be more along the lines of simply: "Those punishments were SPECIFIC to the Israel gov't at that time, but the crime indicates a UNIVERSAL problem with homosexuality."

And if you ask them, "Why do you think this? What biblical reasons do you have to back up this assertion?," they have no answer other than (usually), "Well, it's obvious to even morons that this is how it is to be interpreted!!" Or, in other words, because it seems logical, it makes sense to them.

f. And I agree. It IS obvious that we aren't to kill gay folk. Either that was somehow addressing a specific offense at a specific time or people were expressing their own cultural disgust at an unfamiliar behavior (one that they've heard that the "pagans" did in other lands) or whatever reason we want to guess at as to why that law was there, but clearly it is not a universal law that we ought to kill gay folk.

g. And a further difference between the more literalist and the more progressive Christians is that the more progressive are willing to say, "Well, if the SECOND half of that passage was somehow a specific rule for a specific time and place, who are we to say that the FIRST half of the passage is not ALSO talking about a specific offense at a specific time and place? Our God-given reasoning endorses such an interpretation, JUST AS our God-given reason endorses that reasoning for the second half of the passage.

We do this all the time, when we read the Bible. Not every verse that smacks of being NOT of God has some explanation as to its meaning and application. When we read that "God says" to kill disrespectful children or that when we invade a country, we are to kill everyone - including the children and babes, BUT to save the virgin girls so we can make them our wives - when we read passages like that, we don't need a Bible verse to straighten that out for us. CLEARLY, our God-given sense of logic and morality shouts out that such behavior is atrocious and wrong.

The difference between the more conservative and the more progressive Christians is that the more progressive Christians are okay with acknowledging this. Seems to me.

Regardless, just because there are two verses in the Bible that says "men should not lay with men," does not mean that the flat wooden literal interpretation of those lines ought necessarily be taken literally, any more than the line that follows ("if they do, kill 'em"I).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here's One for Bush

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, what's the best Bush/Shoe joke you've heard yet?

If you have not heard, somehow: President Bush was shown over-and-over ducking the shoes thrown by an Iraqi reporter during a Baghdad news conference.

Jay Leno wants to know where was the Secret Service. He asks shouldn't they have "at least jumped in front of the second shoe?"

David Letterman was impressed by the president's quick reactions. Letterman says Bush "hasn't dodged anything like that since, well, the Vietnam War."

Conan O'Brien says the shoe-thrower is being hailed as a hero by some in Iraq. O'Brien adds when the man dies, "he'll be greeted in heaven by 72 podiatrists."

How about it? Got anything better?

I reckon this guy was just giving Bush the boot a bit early...


Here's more:

Sure Bush ducked when the shoes were thrown at him, but it was a pretty lame duck...

Apparently, this shoe-thrower dude is quite the hero in Iraq - a spokesperson for the frustration felt by the Iraqis by American policy. I'm thinking we could start a movement here, the Good Ol' Shoe movement. Everywhere we go, we could throw old shoes over telephone pole wires and sing a chorus or two of Good Ol' Shoe.

(In the timely and incredibly funny movie, Wag the Dog, Willie Nelson's character pens a song for a fake war hero - played by an insane Woody Harrelson. You can catch snippets of the song - Good Ol' Shoe - here.)

Good Ol' Shoe
by Edgar Winter

1. Daddy had a hound dog we used to call him, Blue
He used to follow me around and stick to me like glue
And his favorite thing to play with used to be my good ol' shoe

I wish I had a woman who was half as good and true
To keep me out of trouble the way he used to do
Someone I can depend on, just like that good ol' shoe

Good ol' shoe Good ol' shoe
Whatever road you're walkng he will get you thru
Good ol' shoe Good ol' shoe
Straight and proud the way he taught you to
And you might even get to heaven with a soul like that good ol' shoe

2. Well, my daddy always told me hang on to what you've got
Smile and be thankful even if it's not a lot
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

but before you leap boy, use your common sense
You might get kicked around and stepped on but that ain't nothin new
If you got a leg to stand on don't give up on that good ol' shoe


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Each year, Jeff Street promotes the Reclaiming Christmas Project, which you can read about here and here.

This year, the Reclaiming Christmas Project will pay for three very important projects, two to assist those in need and one, a gift to the God's Creation itself.

This year, we’re working again with our sister, Karen Thomas Smith, in Morocco. In the past, we have assisted with education efforts for those who are amongst the poorest in the region and we will continue to do so, funding a Literacy and Job Training Program for the women and girls in Tarmilat, Morocco. Insomuch as Morocco is a Muslim country, we believe our efforts there go a long way towards promoting a more peaceful world and better understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Our second project this year is for Medical Assistance in Nicaragua. As the second poorest country in Central America, Nicaragua simply does not have the governmental resources to promptly respond to all the need. As we did last year, we will be working with missionary doctors David and Laura Parajon.

Our third project is a New Thing we’re doing this year. In addition to our projects to help the poorest with a specific need, we’re tackling a project that will go to benefit God’s Creation. The Mother Ann Hydro Power plant produces clean, green energy right here in Kentucky. Thanks to that clean energy, Jeff Street can take part in the Green Energy Program and purchase carbon offsets that work to encourage a cleaner, healthier planet.

By partnering with our Muslim family in Morocco and the needy in Nicaragua AND by giving a gift to the Earth, we will be doing our part to work for God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And what better way is there to honor the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Creator of this old world?

The Cravin'

A reprint from a post previously on my church's blog.

With apologies to Mr Poe.

Once upon a Christmas season, while I shopped without reason
Over many quaint and curious trinkets and toys from the store,
While I coasted down the aisles, that went on for miles and miles,
Til my socks of argyle, were slipping towards the floor.
’Tis the season,' I muttered, `fa la la la las galore -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I recall it was very nearly fall
And each of the shopping malls put up their finest Halloween decor
But not that holiday alone, for by September twenty-one
The freaking Christmas decorations did appear all over the stores!
The snowmen, reindeer, elves and Santas made their way into the stores
It seems they stay there evermore.

Presently my soul grew weaker; and my spirits they grew bleaker,
`Ma’am,' said I, `or Sir, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was shopping, and I saw you over there mopping,
And I wonder why you’re dropping, all these hints for us to buy more?
It’s not even November! Do all the distinguished members of the board
Want us to buy forevermore?

Deep into that dark soul staring, long I stood there wondering, glaring,
At the Blue Vested Customer Service Representative from the store
But the silence was unbroken, and that teen, he gave no token,
And the only word there spoken were the grunted words, ` I was just mopping the floor'
This he grunted, like a football punted back the words, `the…the floor!'
Merely this and nothing more.

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if shill or devil! -
Whither the tempter sent you to lure me to this wretched store?
Tell me that I speak treason, not to want the Christmas season
By the greedy corporations – To turn tricks for this whore!
Is there - is there deeper meaning? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the employee, `Dude, I was just mopping the floor.'

Now the manager, slowly running towards the noise so stunning
and upsetting to the blessed shoppers busily treading through his store
For he could not help but hearing that a customer was sneering
At the Christmas decorations so glaringly beautiful upon their doors
Jesus is the reason for the seasonal increase in profits they adore
They kicked me out, forevermore.

See the post above about Jeff Street's Reclaiming Christmas Project

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Humanity, at our Best and our Worst...

Foggy Castle
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The good and the bad in the news...

First, my thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of those who lost loved ones when the military airplane crashed this week in San Diego. In the midst of his obvious suffering (he lost his beloved wife and two babies), Mr. Dong Yun expressed concern for the pilot of the plane:

"Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident," a distraught Dong Yun Yoon told reporters gathered near the site of Monday's crash of an F/A-18D jet in San Diego's University City community.

"He is one of our treasures for the country," Yoon said in accented English punctuated by long pauses while he tried to maintain his composure.

"I don't blame him. I don't have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could," said Yoon, flanked by members of San Diego's Korean community, relatives and members from the family's church.

wow. What grace, what compassion. My heart breaks for his loss. Let's keep this man and his family in our prayers, along with all involved.

Now, as to the more ugly side of the news, we have the story of Illinois Governor Blagojevich (Dem).

I don't too often devote much space here to specific instances of bad behavior by politicians. It's sort of expected, unfortunately, and not really news, in that it happens with such frequency. But the Governor Blagojevich arrest this week provides details that are just astonishing in raw ugly greed.

If you have not heard, the Democrat Governor of Illinois was arrested this week, charged with trying to "sell" the apointment of the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama. AP reports:

Prosecutors stepped in and had the governor arrested because he was on "what can only be called a political corruption crime spree," Fitzgerald said....

According to court papers, the governor tried to make it known through emissaries, including union officials and fundraisers, that the seat could be had for the right price. Blagojevich allegedly had a salary in mind — $250,000 to $300,000 a year — and spoke of collecting half-million and million-dollar political contributions.

"I've got this thing and it's (expletive) golden," prosecutors quoted Blagojevich as saying about the Senate appointment on federal bugs in his campaign office and wiretaps on his home telephone, "and I'm just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

Chicago FBI chief Robert Grant said even seasoned investigators were stunned by what they heard, particularly since the governor had known for at least three years that he was under investigation for alleged hiring fraud and clearly realized agents might be listening in.

Besides scheming to swap or sell the Senate seat, Blagojevich — a former congressman, state lawmaker and prosecutor — was accused of trying to strong-arm the Chicago Tribune into firing editorial writers who had called for his impeachment. He also was accused of using the governor's power over state business to raise campaign funds...

Nothing in the court papers suggested Obama had any part in the discussions about selling the Senate seat or even knew of them. In fact, Blagojevich was overheard complaining at one point that Obama's people are "not going to give me anything except appreciation." He added: "(Expletive) them."

What a jerk!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Dudes Abide...

Jordan Dylan 1997-ish
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Zondervan Publishing is telling us that there's a new book pending called, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers. That should be a holy hoot.

The Coen Brothers, of course, are the film genii (geniuses?) who have given us, Fargo, Blood Simple, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading and, my personal fave, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Among other film classics.

The mind reels at what "The Gospel of the Coen Brothers" might include. I know one of my favorite takes on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is the paraphrase offered by Ulysses Everett McGill, in O Brother, when he says...

Consider the lilies of the god-damned field or... hell! Take at look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope. Sacrilegious? I reckon. But apt? Absolutely.

Or how about these excerpts from Lebowski...

Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.


Bunny Lebowski: Uli doesn't care about anything. He's a Nihilist.
The Dude: Ah, that must be exhausting.


I love the poor nihilists!

How about it? If you were writing this "gospel," what excerpts and readings would you include?

[WARNING: Any discussion of the Coen Brothers movies will quite likely involve obscenities and questionably tasteless material. Enter these comments at your own risk...]

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Headlines...

Jordan Gareth Dylan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
AT&T to cut 12,000 jobs, 4 percent of staff (AP)

Nightmare on Wall Street continues (CNN/Money)

Wal-Mart Shoppers Trample Man to Death (Time)

Colleges see grim future under budget cuts (Courier Journal)

Unemployment jumps to a 16-year high (AP)

November: Most jobs lost in 34 years (CNN)

$1 trillion rescue? (CNN/Money)

Amid Foreclosures, A Rise In Homeless Students (NPR)

America’s Looming Health Care Disaster (ABC)

The Recession Is Made Official — and Stocks Take a Dive (Time)

General Motors cuts another 2,000 jobs (CNN/Money)


How you holding up? Things going okay? Is your heart and mind at rest?

Economic and societal worries and woes notwithstanding, have yourself a pleasant weekend and a relaxed and enjoyable holiday system.

Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am Thankful...

Fall Colors
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
For my family - For Donna and Jordan and Sarah

For the changing of seasons

For brisk fall and winter hikes

For my friends, especially my church community

For my parents and all they taught me

That this election season is finally over

For the way the election turned out

That God is with us and all about, regardless of who was elected

For friends that I have not met, including those in all these internets - the world is full of good folk and friends I've yet to meet

For those who disagree with me, including those on these here internets - for Eric, Marshall, Bubba, Mom2, Mark, etc, for helping me think through what I believe

For my health

For music - the chance to hear it, the chance to play it, the chance to sing it

For the birds singing outside my window

For the meal I'm sure to enjoy today

For all the many blessings of God, my country, my community, my home, my church and my family, I am thankful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bread for the Journey

Bread for the Journey
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Hello. As those who've read here for a while know, earlier this year, the good folk at Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty (my beloved church) published a book of writings, stories, poems, etc from our members. We had a big release party this summer, dedicated the book to our dear pastor and had books available for those who wished to purchase one.

I have now finally gotten around to setting up the account so that you can order these Jeff Street books online! We actually published two books. The first is Bread for the Journey: Stories and Whatnot from Jeff Street. This is our book of stories and, well, whatnot.

The second book is Steve P. Holcombe, the Converted Gambler: His Life and Work. This book was written by Alexander Gross and published by the Courier Journal Press in 1880. It is the fascinating story of the fella who founded the Union Gospel Mission, the church from which Jeff Street sprang.

Both of these books are available online at our Jeff Street "store." When we received permission to republish the Steve Holcombe book, we had to promise to only charge the actual publishing costs. So, if you go to order that story, you will see that it is cheaper (free! if you choose to download it!) and that is why.

All profits from the Jeff Street book go directly to the work of the church. If you are interested in either book, please check them out.

Throughout Jeff Street’s history, we’ve never been a large church - mostly averaging fewer than 100 in attendance on any given Sunday.
We’ve never been a rich church, being made up of the homeless, the mentally ill, the working poor, and – moreso in these last 20 years – teachers, mental health workers, social workers, labor and justice organizers, and those working in environmental fields: sort of the seamy side of the working class.

What we have been is there. We’ve consistently been there, on the frontlines of Louisville’s poverty issues, homeless concerns, and justice and peace issues. What a blessed history to remember!

What a future yet to tell!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Bible and Economics

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Continuing my ongoing look at what the Bible has to say about money, wealth and poverty, I turn today to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew. We've looked at Luke's version of part of this, but Matthew adds something to the story. If you are new to visiting here, you can find links to all of these looks at the Bible and Economy on the left below. My goal is to eventually have a fairly exhaustive list of all that the Bible has to say on these topics, but that may take a while.

From Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus' own words...

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

~Matthew 5: 23-26

You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

~Matthew 5: 38-42

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing

~Matthew 6: 1-3

Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [some texts add: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'

For if you forgive others for their transgressions [literally, debts], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions [literally, debts].

~Matthew 6: 9-15

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'

For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Creator knows that you need all these things.

But seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

~Matthew 6: 19-34

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How to Save Conservatism...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
And the Republican Party from itself.

I thought, as a public service, I'd offer some opinion on where the Republican Party has gone wrong and how it might best save itself from going the way of the Whigs. That answer lies in what TYPE of conservatism Republicans will represent.

It is my opinion that conservatives have become doctrinaire and exclusive. There's a cold wind of "IF you don't agree with me, you're a terrorist, socialist and murderer" blowing through their tents and it's chasing people out of the tent faster than they can recruit people in. It's not a winning solution (ask any community organizer, they can tell you).

Now understand, I am NOT suggesting that Republicans give up their moral beliefs, but rather that they approach moral problems with the recognition that this is a free nation and we are all moral agents seeking to do the right thing and sometimes failing, but we're seeking nonetheless. Shrillness and bile is no way to win over converts and, unfortunately, many people have begun to associate the Republican party as the Shrillness and Bile party.

So, to best save the GOP, here are my suggestions, for what they're worth, beginning with the over all suggestion that conservatism has its best chance at survival in redefining/reclaiming its role as the small gov’t/libertarianism type of conservatism.

So, my thinking would be:

1. They de-emphasize the gay marriage/abortion/drug war social/cultural hangups they have. Still remain opposed to such cultural things, if they think they are wrong, but recognize that it’s not gov’ts role to get involved in these personal matters.

Or, at the least, do so for gay marriage and drug war (I can understand the thinking that abortion does remain a gov’t issue insofar as the defense of the defenseless angle). But by and large, social conservatives come across as nosy busybodies, presuming to tell everyone in this free nation how they can and can’t live. Big gov’t to the extreme. It’s not a winning argument.

2. If they want to keep abortion as an issue, change the approach. Less shrillness. Less preachiness. Recognize that no one is out to “kill babies,” but that there are complex moral issues and honest differences of opinions by free moral agents on this topic.

Work across the aisle on the decreasing the number of abortions angle, rather than emphasizing abortion as holocaust. I fully understand being opposed to abortion, but the approach is not working and if it’s not working, then you’re not stopping it or slowing it down. Why not shoot for an approach that works?

3. Go for the more traditional conservative ideal of less military adventurism. We have no business gallavanting around the world playing world police. It’s part of what people don’t like about the US globally. Again, SMALL gov’t, not big gov’t.

4. Go for the libertarian, fiscally responsible PAYGO no deficit small gov’t type of conservatism. The last three “conservatives” in the White House have all ended up with the most massive growth of gov’t in our nation’s history. That sort of hypocrisy has been recognized and is a no-winner for conservatives.

Them’d be my thoughts. Any one else have opinions on how to save the GOP? Am I way off?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Miriam Joy
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Congratulations, President-Elect Barack Obama.

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.

~Barack Obama

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.

~Barack Obama

Monday, November 3, 2008

Take a Hike

Hike 1
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Enjoy the lovely fall weather, the leaves raining softly upon your shoulders in a cascade of jeweled vibrancy. Relax, breathe in the end of the year, the promise of the next in the dying, living ground below.

But first, vote.

And then just relax and know that it will be all right.

And then, tomorrow, keep working to make it all right.

While we wait for the results, you can enjoy some of the joy we experienced at our annual fall retreat our church takes. See the slide show below...


2008 Jeff Street Retreat

In Praise of McCain/Palin

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
It seems to be the tendency among opinionated people these days to think that if their candidate is not elected and the OTHER candidate IS elected, the world will collapse and life as we know it will end.

But, as much as I'd hate to see McCain elected, I am among those who do NOT think the world will end or that the United States will utterly collapse if McCain becomes president. 'Twould be a shame, but we would survive.

I DO believe that we are in tough times right now, largely due to the choices that most of us make every day in how we live, how we consume and how we relate to one another. Whoever is elected president will have a tough row to hoe and we'll need to give them whatever support, well-wishes and prayers we can afford. (But don't confuse "support" for a blank check to do as they wish...)

Having said that, as this campaign winds down, I would like to offer a few words in praise of this both McCain and Palin.

I believe that McCain has shown himself to be a man of integrity. He has also waivered at times in acting honorably, but we all do and this campaign has surely been difficult for all involved.

Still, McCain's willingness to not merely voice support for a military but to actually take part in it, his refusal to leave the Viet Nam prison camp when offered the choice, this speaks well of the man's sense of honor. I certainly would have disagreed with his support for that war, but at least he wasn't a chickenhawk. He put his money where his mouth was and it cost him dearly. That says something about a guy.

More recently, this integrity has peeked through when some of his own followers have spoken falsehoods and he has confronted them - I'm thinking of the lady who said Obama was an Arab and McCain corrected her firmly - it is a difficult thing to stand up to one's own supporters and friends and he has done so at times, to his credit. Also, his classy ad the night of Obama's nomination where he praised Obama for reaching this historic point, is another indication of integrity and class. Good for him.

Further, I believe that McCain is genuinely a small gov't kind of politician - unlike the Reagan/Bush/Bush types who crow loudly about being small gov't but then oversaw devastating increases in the size of gov't and in all the wrong places. Times will be tight in the coming years and we definitely DO need to cut back in some places (in addition to adding on in others) and McCain might be able to deliver where his neo-con brethren have not.

And Palin, I'm sure, is a decent woman. I believe that she fully intended to reform Alaskan politics and be a different sort of politician, a representative of the common folk because she IS common folk, and that's a good thing. Her devotion to her family and to simple values are all good things. I don't believe she would be the right person to be at the White House (at all - horrifyingly bad, even), but she may very well be a good match for Alaska's people.

As much as I'd hate to see McCain as president, I believe that he would probably be a much better president than he was a candidate. I think he pandered to the Right way too much (although he probably couldn't have gotten this far if he hadn't) and he will return closer to the middle (middle of the Right, that is) and more to his more sincere values if elected.

That's still far too far to the Right and too close to Bush's policies for my tastes, but I don't believe he would be as bad as Bush was. Faint praise, perhaps, but them's my thoughts.

I stand by my belief that Obama will win handily tomorrow. I think he has run an incredible campaign and, even if the Republicans disagree with his policies, they could stand to learn something from his campaign. I think Obama's community organizing skills and experience served him well during this campaign and smart analysts will be reviewing it in the days and years to come as a model of how to run for office.

Additionally, I don't think Obama will be as good a president as he was a candidate - his candidacy was too perfect and the job of president too impossible for him to be able to live up to that bar of excellence. Still, I look forward to seeing what he and the Democrats do with their possible dominance in this election. At the very least, I'd hope they'd manage to do less harm than we've seen the last eight (28?) years.

And, should the worst happen and McCain is elected, God be with him and here's hoping he's up to the job. He's bound to be better than his predecessor.

Friday, October 31, 2008

About ACORN...

fall Leaves 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Donna Brazile has an excellent response about the non-controversy surrounding ACORN...

Experts who have examined the allegations against ACORN have concluded that there is no significant threat of voter fraud. For the fraudulent registration forms to turn into fraudulent votes, they would have had to get through the election officials' vetting systems and make it onto the voter rolls.

Next, someone would need to arrive at the assigned polling location with valid identification that lists the same name and address as the fraudulent registration. (This is fairly difficult to do if you're dead or named Mickey Mouse.)

Then, having passed all these hurdles, that someone would cast a vote that will cost him or her 10 years in jail. Just find me someone willing to spend 10 years in jail just for a chance to vote for Obama or McCain?

Let's look at the facts.

* ACORN labeled as "suspicious" the fraudulent registration forms a few of its paid volunteers submitted.

* Moreover, ACORN delivered them to election authorities under that heading.

* ACORN offered to help election officials pursue prosecutions against those who filled out the fraudulent forms.

The so-called ACORN scandal is no more than a few canvassers trying to meet their quota and make easy money by cheating the system.

Ask yourself how likely is it that someone would go through the effort and risk of submitting multiple false registration forms, find an accomplished forger capable of producing IDs of sufficient quality to trick election officials, and then spend Election Day racking up a couple extra votes at the potential cost of spending a decade in jail?

A simple cost-benefit analysis tells us this is not a reasonable or significant threat. The real threat here is the Republican Party using attacks on ACORN as a calculated strategy to justify massive challenges to the votes cast in Democratic-leaning voting precincts on Election Day. And this is what is truly outrageous, but where is John McCain's concern when it comes to people being harassed at the voting booth?

The same Republican Party shouting "Voter fraud!" is also furiously trying to prevent Ohio from registering voters at early voting sites and suing to shut down some early voting sites in Indiana...

Let them sputter and fret. A swelling of the voter rolls strengthens our democracy. The more eligible voters we have participating in the process, the stronger we are as a nation -- and the more accurately the results on November 4 will reflect our nation's choice for president.

Read the full essay here

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dear Undecideds...

A letter to undecided Americans, from a dear sister in Morocco:

In the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where there are more sheep than automobiles, you might think elections happening in America, half a world away, might hold little interest for ordinary people. But you would be wrong. I know more Moroccans than Americans here who got up at 3:00 in the morning our time to watch the last debate. Even shepherds in the village of Tarmilat (population 120) ask me who I’m voting for.

I recently took a group of visiting Americans to that village to see a women’s weaving project Americans and Moroccans worked together to create. The women graciously received their guests, displaying looms and rugs, serving tea and fried bread. As we looked out over the sheepfolds and the rolling hills, a car with a blaring loudspeaker passed below us on a dirt road. “Elections,” I explained, meaning local elections. One young man commented, derisively, “I bet these people are for Obama.”

His words angered me. They felt egocentric, assuming that ours were the elections in question, and prejudicial, presuming that “these people” would all automatically prefer a candidate he clearly disliked. Did he mean that Arabs wanted Obama because Obama has been accused of having terrorist links, and for him Arabs were terrorists? Was it because the shepherds are dark-skinned? Was it because they are poor?

But he’s right about one thing: the vast majority of Moroccans hope that Obama will be America’s next president, not because they are terrorists (they aren’t, just as Obama isn’t), and not primarily because of their skin-color or poverty. Moroccans want Obama to be president because they realize our world desperately needs change, and much depends on the course the US will now choose to take, for Morocco and the world.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the sovereignty of the United States in 1777 and is still a significant ally of the US in the Arab world. Morocco supported America’s war on terror from the start. But the war in Iraq and the death of countless Iraqi civilians, with subsequent images of Abu Ghraib and the revelation that the CIA operates secret prisons here, all this has caused America to lose all credibility in this part of the world and beyond. The radical change in what America symbolizes is hard for Americans in the USA to understand, but it is obvious to those of us who have lived overseas through the transition: America has become the occupying enemy, the oppressor, the evil empire in people’s minds.

Americans may ask, “Why should we care what they think about us?” 9-11 is one answer. Al-Qaeda may well have been carrying out its own suicide mission in 9-11, attacking the US to intentionally provoke a precipitous response of such overwhelming force as to, perhaps, annihilate the Al-Qaeda organization while at the same time creating a generation of bitterly angry and resentful young men and women around the world who will rise up to take up the mantle of anti-American hatred and violence. We squandered all the good will the world felt for us after 9-11 and turned it into a groundswell of malice.

This has hurt not only America, but also Morocco and other nations allied to the US who find their populations becoming increasingly disapproving of their country’s support of the American agenda. Supporting the US provides fuel for the fire of radical elements in the region. Unwise US foreign policy puts the security of its allies at risk.

If Moroccans support Obama, it is for the very same reason that I, as an American do: We see in Obama a chance for America to regain its integrity and stature on the world stage, to use its might and influence to lead the world as a member of the community of nations, to further America’s interests along with the interests of the rest of the world, not at the expense of the rest of the world.

A McCain presidency would only deepen the despair, resentment, and hostility the image of America currently evokes around the world. And we would all suffer the consequences.

But there is an alternative: Barack (which means “blessing”) Obama.

Karen Thomas Smith grew up in Lebanon Junction and Owensboro and is a graduate of Georgetown College. She serves as Christian Chaplain at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaving Babylon

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
One of my favorite cranky sages in the blogosphere is Eleutheros, found over at How Many Miles from Babylon, who explains quite poetically the benefits of leaving Babylon, or the System under which we mostly all toil.

His latest entry is a must-read. I'll excerpt it here, but you should check out the whole thing. He is writing in response to someone who asked him, "How does one go about 'leaving Babylon?' Good stuff.

To walk away from Babylon, you must have choices. Alas, it is likely you don't even if you most certainly think you do. Babylon, as with any exploitative and controlling system, can only exist by limiting and eliminating your choices. After all, if you actually have choices, you may in fact choose the things that benefit and enhance you and your family rather than things that benefit Babylon.

Babylon must eliminate your ability to choose. It does so with the help of two effective ploys. First, it will offer you false choices in order to distract you from the fact that you have no real choices at all.

A desperate maneuver of failed parenting is when a child is adamant that he does not want to go somewhere, you say, "We need to get ready to go now, do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red one?" The hope being that the child will become absorbed in choosing which color shirt to choose and forget for the moment all his objections about going in the first place...

For example, people are always asking us what sort of alternate electrical energy we are using, because, after all, if you are going to escape from Babylon, you surely don't want to be connected to the grid! It's a false choice to choose, say, solar electric or grid electric. If you "escape" being tied down to a monthly electric bill, you are saddled with the expense of a depreciating and deteriorating electric system you own...

The second way in which Babylon enforces its no-choice policy is when there really is a choice you might make, Babylon convinces you that you really don't have that choice at all. To be able to raise any of our own food we have to borrow money for land, right! You have to go to college, right? Gotta have wheels, gotta have a credit card, right?

Wrong. Those, and many more, are all things Babylon chants over and over until the idea that you could do without them entirely is just beyond belief...

...Your escape from Babylon begins when you can say, "No, I have a choice. Oh, I can dine around Babylon's table if I choose, but if the Babyonian terms and conditions are odious, then I don't have to."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If it Walks Like a Duck...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Was Thomas Jefferson a socialist??!! Did he believe in "soaking the rich" and that paying taxes is patriotic??!!

Say it ain't so, Tom!

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise."

~Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"The collection of taxes... has been as yet only by duties on consumption. As these fall principally on the rich, it is a general desire to make them contribute the whole money we want, if possible. And we have a hope that they will furnish enough for the expenses of government and the interest of our whole public debt, foreign and domestic."

~Thomas Jefferson to Comte de Moustier, 1790

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied. ... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings."

~Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811

"The great mass of the articles on which impost is paid is foreign luxuries, purchased by those only who are rich enough to afford themselves the use of them. Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal powers."

~Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806

And on and on I could go. Apparently, Jefferson also thought the rich paying more taxes was patriotic.

Darned socialists, sneaking into our history books and "founding fathers" all sneaky-like!

Here's another Jefferson quote, for the road:

"Those seeking profits, were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Indeed, it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government. No other depositories of power have ever yet been found, which did not end in converting to their own profit the earnings of those committed to their charge."

"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wild Places

Northern Flicker
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The wind was rising, so I went to the woods.

So begins Wild Places, by Robert MacFarlane, which I'm currently reading.

I like that.

"The wind was rising, so I went to the woods." A man after my own heart.

The sun was shining, so I went to the woods.

It was a full moon on a snowy night, so I went to the woods.

The leaves rattled on the autumn trees, so I went to the woods.

Spring was breaking through all over, a gentle shower dripping from the trees, so I went to the woods.

What possible reason could there be for not wanting to go to the woods? The woods are ideal places to meditate, to hike, to explore, to write, to inspire, to pray, to dance, to be.

As Thoreau noted:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Or Burroughs:

Every walk to the woods is a religious rite, every bath in the stream is a saving ordinance. Communion service is at all hours, and the bread and wine are from the heart and marrow of Mother Earth.

Yes, yes, yes, let's go to the woods.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can You Haiku?

Spiderweb 3
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The People for the American Way (PFAW) organization is sponsoring a McCain/Palin-themed haiku contest.

Here are my entries.


Are You Qualified?

aw now gosh darn it
elite media, dontchaknow -
I can see Russia!

"Energy Expert"

Just 6000 years
The age of our old planet
or so says Palin

100 Years

One lone century
How many lives can be lost
'til we leave Iraq


Anyone else want to take a shot at it?

Or how 'bout a limerick?


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Yer killin' me! Some comic politicians in the news...

"Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there, ...if you read the read the report you will see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member..."

~Sarah Palin

[The report actually said that "Palin had the authority to fire Monegan, but the report by former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower concluded that she abused her power as Alaska's governor, and violated state ethics law by trying to get Wooten fired from the state police."]


"Let me give you the state of the race today. We have 22 days to go. We’re 6 points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide.

My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them."

~John McCain



Bwa ha ha ha! Phew... great stuff.

They're not serious, are they?

On a more serious and uplifting note, check out an excerpt from a recent sermon at Jeff Street.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Buckley for 'Bama!

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
No, not the late William F. Buckley, but his son, Christopher Buckley, is the latest conservative to not only reject McCain/Palin but gone on so far as to endorse Obama!...

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets.

On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.


Wow. How about that?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Storm Damage

Storm Damage 4
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From various Right-ish folk out there in Bloggyland:

"I thought the questions were crappy and although it was fair, it was rather boring. That played right into Obama's hands. At this point in the game, this is Obama's election to lose and unless John McCain starts getting his hands dirty, we will see an Obama presidency..."

"Sorry but he [McCain] didn't hot the home run that I wanted him to hit.
He wasn't bad,was just OK. And I'm afraid that's not going to be good enough."

"I'm not going to pull any punches here. I think the debate was terrible! The questions were the same old stuff. I think Brokaw could have done a lot better in picking the questions. I'm writing this right after the debate and I am very disappointed. I honestly don't even have an opinion on who won it."

"In light of his dismal performance in last nights debate debacle, It appears John McCain may be conceding the election...

We might grudgingly have to get used to the possibility that Barack Hussein Obama may be our next President. As distasteful as that is, it nevertheless is a distinct possibility."

"If this was McCain taking off the gloves then maybe he should put them back on.

It was an opportunity wasted and time is running out."

"We have a nations of idiots. Period. In one month from now this nation will get what they vote for. G-d help us all.

No home runs people for McCain - not a one. Sorry, but I believe even Sarah Palin and all her intelligence and charm cannot bail him out."

"As depressing as last night’s debate was (and I only lasted 10 minutes) it was a wake up call. Why am I so intent on keeping Obama from the reins of power? Will a McCain presidency only stave off the inevitable? Am I still putting my trust in princes?"

"I'm afraid that John Mccain lost by not winning. Just ot go in there and chat with Obama was a waste of tiem."

"The MSM spin is Obama won the debate which means McCain is done because he can't Win against the Bias support Obama receives.."

Do I perceive a bit of towel-throwing going on? Does it sound to you as if some on the Right are beginning to give up? That McCain is beginning to give up?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shadows and Mists

Cool Shadow
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Has anyone heard this report?...

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard that McCain wants to change the debate topic for tomorrow night's Second Presidential Debate. The debate is to cover all topics (or perhaps specifically the economy?). According to this news report I heard today, McCain would like to change the topic from The Economy to Why Does Obama Have Pals That are Terrorists? (Roughly that - according to the news story, McCain would like the topic to be Obama and his ties to terrorism, or something like that.)

Well, yeah, I guess McCain at this point WOULD like to change the topic to something like that. Perhaps a second topic could be, Has Obama Quit Beating His Wife?

I tried to find this news story online and have not found it yet. Is this serious?? McCain is really grasping at straws here. And one could hardly blame him, he's having his bottom handed to him.

What I don't think he gets is that it is exactly this sort of behavior that is driving normal people away from McCain (and this sort of Republican action).

Now, if McCain seriously wanted to look into the associates of BOTH candidates - both his and Obama's - do you think he'd think that would be a worthwhile debate topic? Does McCain want to spend part of the debate talking about his involvement with the Keating Five? How about his endorsement from Oliver North - a man who McCain has not rebuked for his involvement in illegal selling weapons to IRAN so that he could illegally fund terrorists in Nicaragua? Terrorists that eventually killed tens of thousands of people!

Does McCain really prepared to make these topics of discussion in a debate? No, of course not. He wants the debate to be about Obama and his terrorist "pals."

McCain's candidacy is officially toast.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Democracy is a great institution and, therefore, it is liable to be greatly abused.

Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy.

Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.

Democracy and violence can ill go together.

Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.

Experience convinces me that permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.

I do believe that woman will not make her contribution to the world by mimicking or running a race with men.

Democracy, disciplined and enlightened, is the finest thing in the world.

Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and, therefore, sinful.

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.

My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.

A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him who he seeks to reform.

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.

Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions.

If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior.

If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with women.

My earthly possessions consist of six spinning wheels, prison dishes, a can of goat's milk, six homespun loin-cloths and towels, and my reputation which cannot be worth very much.

Happy Birthday, Gandhi.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All the Riches I Want or Need...

Tiny Daisies
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Conservative columnist Glen Beck on our "financial disaster:"

So now that we're here, what do we do? I am massively conflicted about this bailout program. The idea of government stepping in to bail out international banks that were reckless with their own business literally makes my stomach churn. We are privatizing gains and socializing losses.

As George Will wrote this week: "Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism."

Unfortunately, he's right. In fact, it would have to take an absolute disaster to make me even consider supporting something like this. Welcome to that absolute disaster.

I will have to say that I have absolutely no strong opinions about Wall Street or "the Market" in general, as I just don't understand it much. I'm inclined to think that I don't understand it because it's not a logic-based system, but more of a faith-based belief system in a faith language that is foreign to me.

Full disclosure: I don't invest. I don't have an IRA or retirement fund. I plan on working until I die. I'm not hung up about it and if it feels okay to you, then I'm not upset that others do the investment thing, it's just not something that fits within my belief system.

Partly, again, because I don't understand it all.

So, my inclination is to say: What the heck's going on? Why are we even thinking of giving hundreds of billions of dollars to for-profit corporations?? While I don't generally agree with Beck, this sure sounds like we've privatized profits and are considering socializing losses? What gives?

Now, I understand that some say that this kind of "disaster" might mean (or WILL mean) that many (millions?) of regular people will lose their money or some of it and for that reason, we ought to support this sort of bail-out.

I remain skeptical, but am concerned for the regular folk who might be hurt, if that is indeed the case.

So my one thought and two questions are:

1. If we even consider this bail out, there ought to be a good many strings attached.

2. Wouldn't this kind of thing argue against the privatization of Social Security?

3. Can anyone explain this to someone like me who is not a part of the capitalist religion?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Bible and Economics

Part of an ongoing series looking at all the many passages in the Bible that deal with wealth and poverty issues. You can see the links to the other passages in the series under the heading "The Bible and Economics" below.

Today, I thought I'd try to tackle a book that has a different sort of "feel" to it than many of the other passages: Genesis. In Genesis you will find "heroes" who happen to be wealthy - such as Abraham...

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.

He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.

And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.

~Genesis 13: 1-6

They also took Lot [that is, Lot was kidnapped], Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now, he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

~Genesis 14: 12-16

Abram/Abraham's stories show Abraham to be a rich man - as shown above - but I don't believe the Bible makes the case that this was necessarily a good or bad thing, just that it was the case. There are verses like Genesis 26: 4, that say, "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" - indicating that God is giving Abraham and his descendents land and blessing Abraham, but that isn't to say that material wealth is what Abraham was blessed with...

There are also passages like this:

"When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.

"This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary, half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD.

"Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.

"The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves."

~Genesis 30: 12-15

Sort of the "flat tax" approach to paying tithes/tributes. Which is interesting, because elsewhere in the Bible, you have more progressive-sounding ideas, like in the story of the Manna ("And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.") or with the Jerusalem church collection ("The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea." and "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.")

Anyway, I'm including these passages in here for what they're worth, as they are part of what the Bible says about wealth and poverty issues. Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Simple Solutions

Rain Barrel
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Here's another excerpt from the very fine collection of essays, The Essential Agrarian Reader, which I have mentioned of late. This essay is from Wendell Berry and it echoes a bit of Barbara Kingsolver's introduction, where she states:

I'm tired of the presumption of a nation divided between rural and urban populations whose interests are permanently at odds, whose votes will always be cast different ways, whose hearts and minds share no common ground. This is as wrong as blight, a useless way of thinking, similar to the propaganda warning us that any environmentalist program will necessarily be anti-human.

[When asked to write an article about this supposed divide, Kingsolver replied:] Sorry, but I'm the wrong person to ask: I live in red, tend to think blue, and mostly vote green. If you're looking for oversimplification, skip me...

Berry's excerpt below touches on this, in that he points out it's not a Democrat vs Republican issue, not an urban/rural issue, not liberal/conservative. Rather, it's an Industrial vs Holistic, a Centralized vs Decentralized debate. Or, at least that is how I'm reading it. What do you think?

To the corporate and political and academic servants of global industrialism, the small family farm and the small farming community are not known, not imaginable, and therefore, unthinkable, except as damaging stereotypes. The people of "the cutting edge" in science, business, education, and politics have no patience with local love, local loyalty, and local knowledge that make people truly native to their places and therefore good caretakers of their places.

This is why one of the primary principles of industrialism has always been to get the worker away from home... The office or the factory is the place for work...

The industrial mind is an organizational mind, and I think this mind is deeply disturbed and threatened by the existence of people who have no boss...

The industrial contempt for anything small, rural, or natural translates into contempt for uncentralized economic systems, any sort of local self-sufficiency in foor or other necessities. The industrial "solution" for such systems is to increase the scale of work and trade. It is to bring Big Ideas, Big Money, and Big Technology into small rural communities, economies and ecosystems...

The result is that problems correctable on a small scale are replaced by large-scale problems for which there are no large-scale corrections. Meanwhile, the large-scale enterprise has reduced or destroyed the possibility of small-scale corrections. This exactly describes our present agriculture.
Forcing all agriculture localities to conform to economic conditions imposed from afar by a few large corporations has caused problems of the largest possible scale, such as soil loss, genetic impoverishment, and groundwater pollution, which are correctable only by an agriculture of locally adapted, solar-powered, diversified small farms - a correction that, after a half century of industrial agriculture, will be difficult to achieve.

The industrial economy thus is inherently violent. It impoverishes one place in order to be extravagant to another, true to its colonialist ambition. A part of the "externalized" cost of this is war after war.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let us Remember...

Wendell Berry
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
In memory of all that was lost on 9/11, and in hope of a better tomorrow, with prayers of wisdom and strength to implement that better tomorrow...

One of the gravest dangers to us now, second only to further terrorist attacks against our people, is that we will attempt to go on as before with the corporate program of global "free trade", whatever the cost in freedom and civil rights, without self-questioning or self-criticism or public debate...

Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any local capacity to produce necessary goods...

The key to peaceableness is continuous practice. It is wrong to suppose that we can exploit and impoverish the poorer countries, while arming them and instructing them in the newest means of war, and then reasonably expect them to be peaceable...

Excerpts from Wendell Berry, following 9/11

Sexism and Cynicism

Sarah and Friends
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Okay, let me say that at first I was jokingly saying that I was glad that the GOP had finally developed some concern about the problems of sexism, but it's getting to the point that I must say I find it a more than a bit cynical and disingenuous that the Republicans are dropping the gender card every few minutes now that "they got a girl."

IF this means that in the future, Republicans are more concerned about sexism, that would be a good thing, but it just seems that this is nothing more than a Rovian attempt at Machiavellian politics and it's thoroughly disgusting.

This latest "pig in lipstick" fluff put forth by the McCain camp is just ridiculous. McCain himself used that expression when talking about Hillary Clinton last year. Was he being sexist? Where were the scores of Rightwing pundits and enthusiasts coming out to blast McCain for sexism when he did the same thing with Clinton (well, not exactly the same thing: Obama was clearly talking about McCain - not Palin - in his comments)?


Obama is absolutely right to go on the attack about this cynical silly blather. How dare the GOP try to use the serious problems of sexism for pathetic attempts at political gain? It undermines the Democratic process. This is exactly the sort of politicking from which Obama represents a change.

We've too many serious problems to deal with to allow the Republicans to try to change the subject to a non-issue. Shame on them.

For what it's worth, I did a google search on "republicans on sexism," "republicans sexism 2007," "republicans sexism 2000," "republicans sexism 2003," "republicans on sexism quotes," and a few other terms so I could check to see all the many quotes where Republicans complained about issues of sexism and gave speeches saying that sexism needed to be addressed. Then I checked "sexism mccain quotes," "sexism mccain 2000," mccain on sexism 1996," etc, etc.

The results?

I could not find ONE SINGLE quote pre-2008 where the Republicans talked about sexism.

So how 'bout this? I'll start a contest:


Prizes and fame ** to whoever can find a SINGLE Republican quote where they rail against the evils of sexism anytime in all of history, prior to August 2008.

The Republicans have been a party since the 1850s, I believe. Surely at SOME point in all of the last 150 years SOME Republican had SOME kind words to say in defense of women's rights?

Anyone? One quote?

[* "I dig chicks," does not count as speaking against sexism...]

[** Well, "prizes and fame" may be a bit of a stretch, how 'bout a pencil sharpener and a kind word from me at this blog? Not that I'm especially concerned that a quote will be forthcoming...]

Monday, September 8, 2008


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
(CNN) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave CNN praise for prospective Republican vice president Sarah Palin’s qualifications this weekend.

“She’s governor of a state here in the United States.” Rice told CNN’s Zain Verjee.

There you have it, folks! Some straight talk from the Republicans!

And Rice is absolutely right! No spin, there. Palin IS the governor of a state here in these United States. Undisputedly so, as far as I know.

Stay tuned for more clear, true and absolutely factual statements from the Republicans…

(…I’m hoping to make this an ongoing series. Or at least have one more clear, true and absolutely factual statement from the Republicans before the November election. Don’t let me down, Republicans…)

"Stop Yelling at Each Other"

Cindy, Deanna, Sarah
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Congratulations to Senator McCain for keeping his acceptance speech last week a bit more noble and genuine than his comrades have done. Senator McCain mostly avoided the cheap and divisive direct attacks that had characterized the Republic Convention thus far. For that, I'm thankful.

McCain said:

And, finally, a word to Sen. Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it -- we'll go at it over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration.

Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other.

We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. No country -- no country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Sen. Obama and his supporters for their achievement...

...Please, please, please. My friends, my dear friends, please. Please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static.

You know, I'm going to talk about it some more. But Americans want us to stop yelling at each other, OK?

Very classy and right on. This part of McCain is the part that I've seen in the past that I can respect and appreciate. Just as I appreciate Obama's consistent striving to stay on the high road. Congratulations to both candidates for that.

Now, if McCain's and Obama's followers would heed that call to remember that we're all on the same side, that we're all Americans, and keep the debate to actual positions, not character attacks and misrepresentations.

I would point out that this portion of McCain's speech would have held more water if he'd called on the carpet those from the night before who were engaged in exactly the sort of ugly campaigning that he's calling his party to avoid.

McCain is right: Let's stop yelling at each other, demonizing the Other. I hope he heeds that call himself and demands it from his followers.

McCain went on to articulate his Campaign Premise: CHANGE IS COMING.

This, I must say, I find a bit less inspiring. We desperately need change. People want us to move away from the politics of divisiveness and away from the arrogance and ignorance that was a cornerstone of the Bush administration. We've HAD eight years of the Republicans having their way and change IS desperately needed and wanted.

What I didn't hear from his speech is an answer to the obvious question: IF change is needed after eight years of neo-conservative Republican rule, how is placing another neo-conservative Republican in office going to effect that change?

So, in short, I agree wholeheartedly with McCain that we need to stop the ugly divisive politics that too many on both sides have engaged in in years past. Amen. AND, we DO need a change from the current direction of US policy as implemented by Bush and supported by McCain.

Let's make it so.