Wednesday, September 30, 2009
IRVING TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood's children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.
Regulators who oversee child care, however, don't see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she'd be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers...
Snyder's predicament has led to a debate in Michigan about whether a law that says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers needs to be changed. It also has irked parents who say they depend on such friendly offers to help them balance work and family...
On Tuesday, agency Director Ismael Ahmed said good neighbors should be allowed to help each other ensure their children are safe. Gov. Jennifer Granholm instructed Ahmed to work with the state Legislature to change the law, he said.
Of course, this is an example of gov't over-reach and I would not be surprised to hear about it on conservative blogs here soon. The thing is, I would imagine nearly everyone agrees that it's too much gov't intervention and it is a result of a well-intentioned but poorly-written law. It sounds that law is even now being rewritten.
That is, the problem has corrected itself. As it should. Our republic has, once again, worked itself out, as it does tend to do, given time. So, no need to start stocking up on more bullets and guns - we're not going commie just yet...
Monday, September 28, 2009
A recent series of conversations with one of my more conservative brothers resulted in someone making this conclusion, and I quote...
"Without reliable words from God, we are free to make what we want of our religion. I have come to the conclusion that I believe so much in authority and reliability of Scripture, that if I were to learn that it was false, I would cease to be a Christian, and even further, cease to be a moral person because there would be no reason for morality except to get what I would want from others and not have others treat me the way I don't want to be treated."
IF they learned that there were lines in the Bible that they thought were true and factual and it turned out to be false, not only would they lose their faith in God, but they would cease to be a moral person!
Is that not a horribly incredible statement to make? Does that not suggest a deification of the Bible? Oh, to be certain, I don't think this person at all intends to make a god of the Bible, but if he "were to learn that it were false, [he] would cease to be a Christian...," that rather sounds like his faith is in the Bible and not God.
I would suggest that perhaps we could give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably means that if he were to learn that ALL of it were false (God created the world = not true, Jesus was NOT a real person, we are NOT to love our enemies, we are NOT to love our families and communities, etc, etc), surely this must be what he means.
And I hope so, for that might be a reasonable position.
But I fear that it may not be so. I fear this because I've met others who've said similar things. I have a dear friend from my childhood who is a devoted and wonderful conservative Christian, and he once told me that if he learned that the Creation story is not fairly literal, he would probably lose his faith. "How could I believe ANY of it is true if the creation story is not literally and factually true?" is a common sentiment I have heard.
I fear that this concrete, black/white, absolutist sort of thinking probably DOES lead people to lose their faith, when it becomes clear at some point for some of them that some of the stories and facts in the Bible probably aren't intended to be literally true.
This would be a shame, I think. We have no real biblical, moral or logical reason to presume inerrancy of the Bible. The Bible does not TELL us to take each story as literally factually true and we can learn from metaphorical stories just as well as we can from factual stories about the nature of God.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Today, I thought I'd begin with the Psalms. This is a little tricky because I believe that much of the prayers for God's help found within the Psalms imply - some more than others - that the oppression they are feeling is due to economic injustice. Psalms like Psalm 17...
My ravenous enemies press upon me; they close their hearts, they fill their mouths with proud roaring.
Their steps even now encircle me; they watch closely, keeping low to the ground,
Like lions eager for prey, like young lions lurking in ambush.
Rise, O LORD, confront and cast them down; rescue me so from the wicked.
Slay them with your sword; with your hand, LORD, slay them; snatch them from the world in their prime. Their bellies are being filled with your friends; their children are satisfied too, for they share what is left with their young.
I am just--let me see your face; when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but the whole "bellies are being filled..." sort of language seems to echo other passages that talk about the wealthy unjustly filling their bellies while the poor starve (see Ezekiel 7 and Ezekiel 16, for instance).
That being said, I'll stick primarily with passages that are overtly about poverty or wealth, rather than those which might imply it. From the first ten chapters of Psalms, we find these...
Many say, "May we see better times! LORD, show us the light of your face!" Selah
But you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound.
In peace I shall both lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me secure.
It is God who governs the world with justice, who judges the peoples with fairness. The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, stronghold in times of trouble.
Why, LORD, do you stand at a distance and pay no heed to these troubled times?
Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes.
The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the LORD.
In their insolence the wicked boast: "God doesn't care, doesn't even exist."
Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them.
They say in their hearts, "We will never fall; never will we see misfortune."
Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues.
They wait in ambush near towns; their eyes watch for the helpless. to murder the innocent in secret.
They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket, hide there to trap the poor, snare them and close the net.
The helpless are crushed, laid low; they fall into the power of the wicked,
Who say in their hearts, "God pays no attention, shows no concern, never bothers to look."
Rise up, LORD God! Raise your arm! Do not forget the poor!
Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, "God doesn't care"?
But you do see; you do observe this misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans.
Break the arms of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes; let none of them survive.
The LORD is king forever; the nations have vanished from God's land.
You listen, LORD, to the needs of the poor; you encourage them and hear their prayers.
You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed; no one on earth will cause terror again.
Friday, September 18, 2009
You all are familiar, I'm sure, with Jimmy Carter's comments about the vitriolic level of dissent in the health care debate (Carter suggested NOT that most Americans were racists, but rather suggested that the level of bile and anger in this "debate" is at least partially due to racism - a point that would be as hard to prove as it would be to disprove, it seems to me, but not entirely without merit).
What you may have missed was that Elliot Abrams last week criticized Carter for some of his recent comments about the Middle East peace process.
The ironic humor in this criticism is that this is the SAME Elliot Abrams who defended so much terrorism in Latin America in the 1980s. Abrams was Reagan's man in El Salvador, suggesting that no terroristic behavior was happening by the US-supported Salvadoran army, when that was simply not the fact.
Later, Abrams played a role in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration provided support for the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua. Abrams was convicted for a relatively minor charge of lying to Congress and promptly pardoned by Bush I. Later, this SAME Abrams was chosen by Bush II to promote Democracy!
woo hoo, ha, ha, sniff, sniff, bawl...
THIS Abrams now is criticizing Carter, suggesting Carter is siding with the terrorists in Palestine. Well, I guess he would know a bit about siding with terrorists.
[More about Abrams can be found here
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
'Bush came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. "This is a dangerous world and this cat (Obama) isn't remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you".'
That's George W Bush suggesting that Barack Obama has no clue and is not remotely qualified to be president. Isn't that rather like Chuckles the clown questioning Einstein on the intricacies of nuclear physics (or, as Bush would say, "all that nucyular science mumbo jumbo...")
Funny stuff. But doubtlessly true. Who, after all, IS qualified for that kind of job?
On a more enlightening note, you may wish to visit my Jeff Street church blog to see a recent wonderful sermon from my pastor, in which she points out how vital it is to be a part of, and community with, "the least of these." Vital for OUR sake, as much as theirs.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I found myself this morning singing a snippet of song and my daughter asked about it and when I described it to her, she said she'd never heard of it.
As a child in elementary school, one of the songs we sang was "Senor Don Gato." It was the tragic love story of Senor Don Gato, who was a cat.
The first verse, as I recall it, went...
Oh, Senor Don Gato was a cat
On a high red roof, Don Gato sat
He went there to read a letter, meow meow meow
Where the reading light was better, meow meow meow
It was the end of poor Don Gato...
And that's all I remember of the actual. That, and it was sung in a minor key.
The story line, as I recall it, was that Don Gato went to read the letter and, as it turns out, it was from his lover. It was a Dear Juan letter! He was dumped by his lover and in his heartache or surprise or shock or something, Don Gato falls from the roof to his death on the streets below.
My daughter called that a horrifyingly morbid song for schoolchildren to be singing.
How about it? Was this a song specific to my particular school/area? OR, were schoolchildren across the nation being taught illicit love stories that end in the tragic death of beloved kittens?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
I must say, this paranoia trip by some of our dear friends on the enraged right has been a bit of good fun for me. TONS funnier than Two and a Half Men... [a TV "comedy," in case you haven't had the good fortune].
AAAAH! Responsibility! Hard Work! High Standards! AAAHHH! The fiend!!