Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Study Series

Summer Study Series
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I realize that most folk who frequent this blog do not live near my Louisville home. But some of you do.

It is for you I post this announcement.

My church, Jeff Street Baptist, is doing a Bible study on Homosexuality and Christianity, led by our own prophet, genius and all around good guy, Dr. Rick Axtell.

Rick is a professor of ethics at a Kentucky university and is an excellent teacher and the study is open to all who are interested in the topic - even if you disagree with my church's position (we are open and affirming of our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters).

A good time shall be had by all, with thanks to Rick and Lisa for preparing for and presenting this study.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Time Off

Dan and Donna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
If I haven't been posting much this week, it's with good reason: We've been on a short vacation. Sarah, Donna and I took out a loan, filled up the automobile with gasoline and hauled ourselves over to lovely Whitesburg, Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. We went there for the annual Cowan Creek Mountain Music School.

[More info at]

The good folk at the Cowan Creek Community Center sponsor the week as a delightful way to pass on Old Time Music, Appalachian stories, traditions and songs. There are an amazingly wonderful group of people who put this (and other) efforts together and they are well worth looking into and supporting.

I was going to post a slide show with some of the wonderful music performed there this week, as well as photos of the beauty of the region, but I have been experiencing some technical difficulties.

So, for the time being, I have put the slide show together featuring some traditional music from two blog friends, Deb and Tim. Their songs (Early and Soldier's Joy, respectively) - along with a little Cluck Ol' Hen that I recorded - are representative of the sort of music we heard and learned this week.

It was a powerful, spiritual trip - our third trip to the Camp - and if you're interested in this sort of music, you could not find a better way to spend your time, nor a more glorious location in which to spend it.

What I Did On Summer Vacation...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Which Way Doth the Wind Blow?

Ye Olde Roger
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
And so it begins...

(CNN) – CNN’s poll of polls has been updated to reflect a new Newsweek poll .

Sen. Barack Obama has gained two percentage points in his lead over Sen. John McCain, according to the latest CNN poll of polls released Friday.

Obama now leads McCain by 6 percentage points – 46 percent to McCain’s 40 percent. In the previous CNN poll of polls, Obama’s lead was 4 percentage points.

I had envisioned a slightly larger upturn for Obama once the primary had concluded than this four, and now six point advantage over McCain. I reckon my crystal ball was a little cloudy. Still, according to yet another set of polls...

(CNN) – Barack Obama leading John McCain in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a new survey.

Obama lost the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania by 9 points — but a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows him leading McCain by 12 points, 52-40. In Ohio — a state Obama lost to Hillary Clinton by 10 points in March — he’s leading McCain 48-42. And in Florida, where he did not campaign this primary season and lost an unsanctioned Democratic contest, he leads McCain 47-43.

Admittedly, this is all just my gut feeling and pure guesswork and naught else on my part, but I just can't see McCain doing very well this fall and I'm still expecting Obama to win handily.

No one is excited about voting for McCain. The country's gone all batty for Obama. There is an enthusiasm there that I expect will clear any hurdles of ugly politicking on the Republican side or any vestiges of racism around our nation.

I see a Good Moon Rising.

But what do I know?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Offshore Drilling for Oil? [UPDATED]

Barge In Sun
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
No! No! A thousand times, No!

We ought to only begin offshore drilling for oil (or drilling in ANWR) if it makes sense and it makes none.

Bush/McCain have begun to push for Congress to end the ban on offshore drilling, playing on the concerns people have about the price of oil. The Bushmccain argument goes like this:

1. Oil/gas is expensive and getting expensiver every day.
2. Expensive oil/gas is bad.
3. There is oil available off our shores and in ANWR.

[and here comes the BIG LIE...]

4. If we drill there for oil, then our gas prices will go down and we will be more energy independent.

It sounds like this argument might be winning over the hearts and minds of the American people but if we're going to seriously debate this idea, then the REAL facts need to be presented. The Bushmccain approach is a LIE and either they know it and are telling a lie deliberately or they are criminally ignorant of the easily attained facts.

The facts:

1. Oil is a finite resource.
2. The price of oil is increasing because demand is up and supply is tapering off.
3. The price of oil will continue to increase. Why? See points 1 & 2.
4. Drilling offshore or in ANWR would provide SOME relief to our shortages - in 10-20 years.
5. By drilling offshore or in ANWR for oil, Bush's own economists confirm that in 10-20 years we WILL have some relief in gas prices.
6. That relief is estimated by Bush's own economists to be about .50-.75... A BARREL!
7. Right now, a barrel of oil costs about $130 (up from $30 when Bush took office).
8. So, subtracting .75 from that $130/barrel (or whatever it is up to in 2028) comes to... let's see, $129.25/barrel.
9. Or, by the time that "savings" is passed down to the gas pump, that would be... about nothing.

Don't believe the hype. Bushmccain is telling a bald-faced lie or repeating ignorant nonsense.

We need to reduce the amount of the finite resources we use and learn to live within our means. THAT is the one and only answer.

References for the numbers can be found here, here, here or here, or here (at the US Energy Information Administration), or any place sound, fiscally responsible policy is discussed.

"The Interior Department offered a wide range of estimates of how much oil might be within reach of U.S. offshore drilling in a 2006 report. It estimated that the Outer Continental Shelf could hold 115.4 billion barrels. However, it also estimated that recoverable reserves off U.S. coasts in areas now banned from production probably hold only about 19 billion barrels....

...if there are 19 billion barrels in the areas McCain would open to drilling, that's enough to provide about 920 days, or about 2.5 years, of current U.S. consumption."

Yeah. That'll be helpful.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is the Bible Sexist? Is God??

Kids at Zoo
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
No, we would be my response. But it is a product of its times.

Because the question was raised in the previous post and because I didn't want the topic to go astray, I promised to offer folk a chance to talk about Paul and sexism in another post. I thought I'd expand the question beyond just Paul, because there is certainly material in the Bible that can sound pretty bad to modern ears.

I'll start with the writings attributed to Paul, which say (among other things):

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.

1 Cor 11: 3

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1 Cor 14:34-35

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...

Eph 5:22-25

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

1 Tim 2:11-13

And Peter weighed in on women, too...

Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives...

1 Peter 3:1

Additionally, we have OT laws and stories that are sometimes just plain offensive to modern ears.

From Adam and Eve:

"...thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Gen 3:16

To some other stories, like where Lot has angels visiting his home and the men of Sodom want to gang rape them and Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom instead (!!!) - found in Gen 19 - to some of the laws, such as this one...

"And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do."

Exodus 21: 7

Women of the day (Old Testament and New) were chattel, they weren't citizens, they didn't have rights. The Bible reflects this reality.

Now, this is not a topic that I've studied a lot, but just from what I've read, I'm willing to accept that the Bible is a document of its patriarchal, pre-modern times and realize that, yes, back then, women weren't treated right. But even in that context, we see hints of God's more egalitarian ways shining through. In Christ, there is no "male" or "female," we see Jesus talking to and treating women as equals, we see women leadership in OT and NT stories.

So, my answer to the larger question - is God sexist? - an absolute No. But the Bible does tell stories that reflect the mores of the day. As long as we don't try to take those sexist/misogynistic attitudes as literally applying to how we interact as humans today (ie, women remain silent in church, the man is the "head" or master of women, selling our daughters, etc), and embrace the God-given liberty and equality for all, then I think we're okay.

But what do you think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bible and Economics

MTR Rally
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Another entry in the series where I offer up Bible verses dealing with wealth, poverty and living aright. There is a sidebar below on the left (Titled, "The Bible and Economics") where you can see the other entries. Today, we're looking at 1 Timothy. I'm breaking Paul's letter to Timothy up into two sections, because there's so much to talk about.

Here, then, are selected passages from 1 Timothy chapters 2, 3 and 5. I'll save chapter 6 for later.


Women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds.

1 Timothy 2:9-10

...a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money.

He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity... Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain...

1 Timothy 3:3-4;8

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let these first learn to perform their religious duty to their own family and to make recompense to their parents, for this is pleasing to God.

The real widow, who is all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But the one who is self-indulgent is dead while she lives.

If any woman believer has widowed relatives, she must assist them; the church is not to be burdened, so that it will be able to help those who are truly widows...

Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching. For the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is threshing," and, "A worker deserves his pay."

1 Timothy 5:3-6; 16-18

Friday, June 6, 2008

Be Afraid!

(CNN) ...Political strategists know the most successful candidates are masters at capitalizing on fears... and that can make a huge difference at the polls...

CNN recently gathered eight undecided voters to see how they would respond to attack ads and how the ads might affect their choices. They gathered at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where psychologist Drew Westen studies how brains react to candidates' messages.

"Those kinds of gut-level reactions tell us things like, 'I don't feel like this person is telling us the truth,'" Westen said. "Unless someone is a really good con man, those reactions are extremely helpful. The conscious brain processes only a tiny percent of information."

Westen and his business partner Joel Weinberger have created software, through their company ThinkScan, that looks into a voter's subconscious. The software does this by measuring people's reaction time to certain words after they watch attack ads...

The undecided voters in CNN's group watched the ads and were then asked to identify the color of words such as "weak," "inexperienced," and "terrorist." If they hesitated, even for one-thousandth of a second, before they clicked on the color that corresponded with the word, Weinberger said, it meant the word had an impact.

"If the word is on their mind, if the word was activated, it will slow them down," Weinberger said.

Westen predicted the undecided voters would say they didn't like the ads and the ads had no impact on them. He was right.

The group watched Hillary Clinton's 3 a.m. campaign ad, which was intended to make voters question Barack Obama's experience. Viewers said the ad was fear-mongering and that it did not make them think Clinton was a stronger leader than Obama. But the data, Westen said, showed their brains reacted differently.

Voters had the greatest hesitation with words like "weak" and "lightweight" during the color test. Westen said this meant the ad made them question Obama's readiness.

"The purpose, too, is to make him seem scary, dangerous, 'You need to be afraid of this guy as president,'" said Westen. "That message unconsciously got through..."

This happens because the ads trigger a response in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which experiences emotions such as fear. When it is aroused, it overrides logic, according to Westen.

What advice does Westen have for presidential hopefuls?

"They should make voters feel inspired by them and worried about their opponent at the same time," said Westen. "It works."

Well, I don't know if this science is sound, but it sure sounds right.

"This happens because the ads trigger a response in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which experiences emotions such as fear. When it is aroused, it overrides logic, according to Westen."

That would explain a lot...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Congratulations, Senator Obama

Redtail Soaring
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
"I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts -- that out of many, we are truly one..."

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek..."

"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential..."

"I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war..."

"Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction..."

"What Washington needs is adult supervision..."

"As Americans, we can take enormous pride in the fact that courage has been inspired by our own struggle for freedom, by the tradition of democratic law secured by our forefathers and enshrined in our Constitution. It is a tradition that says all men are created equal under the law and that no one is above it..."

"I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.."

"Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another -- a journey that will bring a new and better day to America..."

Lord, may it be so (not that I'm counting on a politician to make it happen, but we do so need a "new and better day" and I'm hoping that we, the people will, together, begin that hike).

Congratulations, Senator Obama.