Sunday, February 03, 2008

Escape from Escapism

The last post was pure escapism, and I apologize to those of you who might have thought I had lost my sanity. However, John Ankerberg has just published a book on the spiritual themes in LOST, so I don't feel quite so foolish.

Speaking of escapism, the Super Bowl is on tonight, and the only part I care about are the commercials. The devotion paid to this football game is remarkable, and I'm using that euphemistically. Fox sanctified it with a very good pregame reading of the Declaration of Independence, for which I salute them. Fox doesn't mind wearing its patriotism on its sleeve. The networks would never produce such a blatant display of love of country, only love of Barak Obama.

The reality is, I don't understand football, not truly, just the broad outlines. But I do understand spectacle, I do understand the Patriots are a bunch of shameless cheaters, and the Manning brothers are cute boys from a close family. So I want New York to win though I realize that might not happen.

The real point of this post is to make some comments on intercessory prayer, the subject of my current Bible study (lousy transition). Intercessory prayer is extremely difficult for many reasons, and I think one of them is that we rarely know the results of our prayer. I have a member of my Bible study class who has had to go into a home due to early onset dementia. Her recognition of people comes and goes. How do I pray for her? Well, for healing, of course, but if that is not to happen, peace and freedom from the fears and terrors of dementia. We think of dementia based on what we see--what's going on inside the victim's mind? What nightmares and hallucinations. My friend may be relieved from that, but I won't know. Intercessory prayer takes a double dose of faith for results--faith beforehand to accompany the prayer, and faith afterward that the prayer was answered (and perhaps in ways we wouldn't imagine).

The difficulty of intercessory prayer, which I will expound on more later, is offset by what it does for the praying person. Psychologically, it makes one more empathic. It will make you more aware of those around you, of human experience and human failings and human needs. I told my class today, go deep, not broad, when it comes to prayer. Choose one group or types of person, and pray for that one day. Let the Lord bring to mind all the people in that category whom you know. For examples, those in authority. That's political persons, that's administrators in the schools your kids attend, that's the police (something needed right now in Hamilton County, TN!), that's your boss(es). That's just a start. We always hear, the devil is in the detail. Not really. God is in the details. God makes the details and cares about the details.

Friday, February 01, 2008

LOST FANS: It's back. Last night's was not the greatest episode, but it does raise questions and it's still the best show ever on television.
1. Who are the Oceanic 6? Are they necessarily just the ones who go back to civilization, or who live? Or are they just the ones who get the publicity? One blogger claims they are Hurley, Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sun, and Jin (I'm glad, I like the Korean couple the best). Three Americans, three nonAmericans? And not the baby? (They wouldn't do that.)
2. Hurley is an unreliable narrator--or is he? He's the most appealing unappealing character on TV. Honest and sweet but crazy and addicted to food. Everyman.
3. The underlying question--would they all be better off to go back or to stay? Supposedly Jin and Sun have to, for her to survive her pregnancy. Sawyer's a criminal, so is Kate. Rose will get her cancer back. But the others have family and reasons to go back.
4. Are Jack and Claire ever going to find out they are brother and sister (personally, I think that's the stupidest and most unncessary story line in the show)?
5. Couldn't they just put all the commecials at beginning and end?
6. Certainly getting on the freighter would be better than being around the OTHERS.

Presidential Politics, III

Oh, man, am I going to make some people mad. Who am I going to vote for Tuesday? Not that it's anyone's business, but it will be either McCain or Huckabee. I seriously think McCain will be the nominee and Huckabee the vice-presidential candidate.

Why not Romney? He seems to be the fave of the pundits, the Ann Coulters and the Rush Limbaughs. Good for them. I'm going on record as saying they do not speak for me, nor do they speak for many, many conservatives. They are hypocrites and elitists. They want the Republican electorate to live, breathe, and vote like they think it should, and they denounce morals of people who are more moral than they. Their rants are full of ad hominem, straw man, non sequitur, and nonsense.

Why McCain? Presumably, he is too liberal to be a Republican. The problem with the Republican party (and probably the Democrats, but I don't follow them as closely) is ideological lock-stepism. Why do I or why does anyone have to be totally consistent with some list of positions that are themselves not consistent? Can I be prolife and think Iraq was a horrible mistake? (I don't think it was the wrong decision, only the wrong execution of that decision, as McCain does, thank you.) Can I be against big government and yet for helping the poor?

Can I be against government-funded health care but for some form of amnesty for illegals? (It is ironic that Reagan, the god of the Republicans, gave full amnesty to the illegals in the 1980s, and yet an amnesty that requires registration and penalties is seen as wrong.) A millionaire from Massachusetts can easily say “run them all out of the country,” but come on. We can’t even find the ones who are here. I agree they have broken the law and the borders must be secured. But as Bush is known to say, how we treat our weakest members is what matters.

That was the sin of Sodom, and the sexual perversion stuff was a result of it. Ezekiel 16:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. " Do we dismiss helping the poor and marginalized with arguments about big government and anti-welfare?

If our government policy is based only on making ourselves fatter and more affluent, we have missed the point. There are really two political groups in this country, and they cut across parties. The impractical idealists and the anything-for-a-buck group. The first is concerned for morality, for the unborn, for the poor, for the disabled; the second is only concerned about the economy. The first is the middle class, the religious, and the working class; the second includes some of these groups but also the rich who see government as only a way to protect their wealth. The first, as idealists, believe in absolutes. The second only believes in the absolute of Marxism, that the economic environment controls how we think, not the other way around. Yes, capitalists can believe the economy is all that matters. Corporate America just wants its taxes low, not the individuals.

In short, we should think for ourselves. McCain does that, and Huckabee does, too. They know they are out of step with some of the Far Right's ideas, yet both are consistently pro-life, believe in smaller government, would appoint the right kind of judges, could work with Congress. They are quirky. Good for them; are we voting for prom queen or the leader of the free world? McCain knows how to get along with the other side; is that so bad? Do we have to act, as the Democrats do, that we are the only people with valid opinions or even the right to a wrong opinion in this country? Isn't that arrogant, and isn't that missing the point of a democratic republic? There are elements of the Far Right that want an oligarchy. I am suspicious of any group that governs without input from other viewpoints.

Text of my presentation at Southern States Communication Conference on Open Educational Resources

On April 8 I spoke at SSCA on the subject of Open Educational Resources.  Here is the text of my remarks. The University System of Geo...