Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Liberals are Evil

Hey, did that get your attention?

Of course I don't believe that. It is my poor attempt at irony. Or do I?

There are liberals, and then there are liberals. I consider myself a classic liberal--of the 18th century! But not a liberal of the 20th or 21st. Ideas have consequences, and words mean something. Or do they? A modern liberal may disagree with that view; it's definitely "conservative," whatever that means.

Which is my point. These two terms, liberal and conservative, mean very little of substance any more; neither do left or right. I want to know specifics about policies, which will get us past these counterproductive labels.

Follow this through to theological terms. I just read an interview with Rob Bell, an emergent church pastor of a large congregation; therefore, he's pretty good at what he does, i.e, getting a lot of people to come to his church. For the life of me, he said a lot of double-talk, but it sounded passionate and compassionate. A lot about feeling. Young people, I know, like feeling. They say, "I feel like" and "I feel that" more than "I came to the conclusion. . . "

So what does this man teach and believe, in specific, nonslippery terms, and more to the point, what does one believe when one believes the gospel of Christ?

It's one thing to lack the vocabulary and education to express oneself clearly. At least those people know they are deficient. It's another when an educated spokesperson obfuscates (I love that word) to be perceived as erudite, or compassionate, or tolerant, or even worse, speaking for God.

Back to the title of this post. Liberals are evil if they think evil ideas with evil consequences, and if they use ad hominem freely, and if they lie for political gain. So are conservatives who, supposedly having the right ideas, cannot trust the ideas to defend themselves and therefore resort to the same invective and nonsense that the Jeanane Garofolos and Joy Behars and Bill Mahers do. I am of the opinion that these I have named will say anything because their world view is on shifting sand and they have lost their moral compass. Conservatives don't have that option if they are true to their worldview, but most of the spokespersons for conservatives are more concerned about the next buck than principle.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I am reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Interesting book--I would doubt some of it if I hadn't been reading some other scholarly works that say much the same thing--that the United States was much closer to become a fascist state in the early part of the 20th century than most people realize. That Mussolini was a hero to a lot of the "names" in political history of the '10s, '20s, and '30s. That our presidents were less freedom-loving than we would like to think. God was good and delivered us from this fate. Perhaps to facilitate evangelism. Perhaps to save the world politically. Perhaps . . . who knows. Perhaps to sell books, Goldberg overstates his case.

Unfortunately, I have found myself using the world. Our college is going to have a tobacco-free policy next year. A student asked me what I thought of it, and I said it was kind of fascist. I hope that doesn't get back to the president! I only meant that it's an overdone attempt to control behavior by laws. Now, I despise smoking and drinking, and would be the first to discourage anyone from doing it. But . . . if a 13-year-old has the freedom to get an abortion without her parents' permission, a 19-year-old should be able to get a beer and a student at Dalton State should be able to smoke at the gazebo. Of course, the 19-year-olds and the DSC smokers don't respect the limits of moderation, good taste, and good sense. So, by not exercising our responsibility, we lose our liberty.

The nanny state is becoming the mommy state. Why abortion is protected as the ultimate freedom but smoking and drinking and motorcycle helmets and seatbelts are not free choices is a mystery to me.

I would almost say, "Let Roe v. Wade stand" if the government got out of the abortion business. If the government didn't pay for one single abortion, directly or indirectly; if the government would not mess with a health care providers' conscience options, if the government let the same standards in terms of minors and parental consent stand as they do for other medical procedures, if the government did not push for more abortions anywhere, here or abroad, in public or private hospitals. But the left is not happy with choice; it wants imposition, it wants to invade the womb, it wants control. It wants "wanted children"--wanted by whom? (This is not to say Roe v. Wade is good law.)

Those who read this and are pro-choice, read the history of eugenics and learn the part abortion played in that. Who decides who is wanted?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Today a friend and I went to a small town within an hour from my home to attend that town's annual "festival." My friend works for a large local organization that cares for the disabled and was superintending a home of four high-functioning adult women clients; she wanted to take them on an outing and I agreed to go along to help.

The experience was heightened in that I used to work closely with the woman who was instrumental in starting the festival in the 1990s, and I used to go every year, but it had been at least six since my last time.

I am of the opinion that if you have been to one of these small-town festivals, you've been to all of them. That is unfair, but this one had not changed at all, from what I could tell, so nothing new was experienced. It was pretty hot and I got too much sun; either because of my heart problems or my fairness, I just don't do sun well. On top of that, there had to be 30,000 people there; the one thing that had changed was the popularity of this festival, because it was extremely well attended (that's one take on it; the other is it was just overcrowded and the town wasn't prepared for it.)

But all went well and we got home and I'm cured of any desire to attend another festival. What is more an issue is the why? Why do towns have these festivals, and why do we go? From what my former coworker told me, the festival really helped the local economy, so I suppose that's as good a reason as any. (My little town in North Georgia also has one on Memorial Day weekend, but it's much smaller and not as well publicized; the one I attended today is advertised nationally.) Why do we go? Boredom? To help my friend out? To see other people? (I saw plenty). I am not an introvert but crowds for crowds' sake are not appealing. I would have preferred a nature walk and a quiet book or a museum or lunch with a few friends at a sandwich shop.

The Why of life is a never-ending well of possibilities.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tempest in a Teapot

Have been working on grades this morning, but took a few minutes to check my favorite websites; one of them of course is Christianity Today, a website that allows me to avoid paying for a subscription and keep up with the news at the same time. Like most sites, it has some blogs, and one of the entries, or boards, or topics, or whatever they are called, concerns the Miss USA issue. Here it can be found. http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2009/04/miss_california.html

Now, I don't really want to waste any more keystrokes than already have on this issue, but I can't help it, so here goes.

1. With all the Christians really contending for the faith on this planet, is this the woman we want to hold up as some sort of role model? I was shocked when Charles Colson suggested that yesterday on his radio program. She's in a beauty pageant, people!! The epitome of what we don't want our daughters to do. If she were building a house for Habitat, teaching in the inner city, or working with AIDS patients in Africa, would she get such a forum? No, but she's pretty (no prettier than a lot of girls I know); she's got a hot little booty; and she's willing to strut around in a string bikini in front of leering men--so she gets a forum. Is this virtue?? Please. The same New Testament that teaches that the homosexual act is sin teaches women to put their clothes on. No wonder the Muslims don't take us seriously!

2. Who is Perez Hilton and who really cares? How do these people get a forum? It's the blogosphere. Well, here I am, blogging. Why he was chosen to judge a beauty contest, I don't know. Perhaps since he's gay, he supposedly isn't swayed by the women's sexuality, is that it?
Seems like stereotypical thinking to me. Again, the people least deserving of a forum get one. (and I include myself in that group)

3. As for her opinion, well, I didn't hear it. I imagine I agree with her viewpoints, but the whole defense is "this is what I believe, this is what I was taught" just doesn't hold water as an argument. Or maybe it does today. If we are going to defend traditional marriage (how stupid that we even have to put that adjective in front of the word "marriage"--until five years ago that was the only kind of marriage there was--) we're going to need more than "these are my feelings, my parents taught it to me." And I fear we are losing the debate on a number of fronts because of this emphasis on subjectivism. I had a student, himself gay, argue for gay marriage because he "was in love." What's love got to do with it? Marriage is a cultural institution for the good of the whole, not the good of the one or the two. We don't believe that any more as a culture, so gay marriage makes perfect sense because it's just about the couple and their feelings.

This says nothing about the "civil rights" side of it. That's thornier, but we've never defined marriage to any one at any time as a right. There are other rules against it--family, age, species (I'm getting stupid here, but we do). We conservatives are being intimidated by the subjective arguments.

4. Of course, this says nothing about the reaction and fascism of those who opposed her view. That's my new word, fascism. Fascism doesn't allow dissent, and that's where we are going in this environment. Discourse today boils down to calling someone a name, the b-word; yeah, now there's healthy debate, there's a strong argument.

5. Finally, and I'm poking fun at myself now, the fact that this "story" gets airtime or print at all means that something that matters doesn't. So what got pushed off the page or agenda? Something that matters, I'm sure. Say, what we can do for the Invisible Children, for Darfur, for poverty in our own country, the lack of educational advancement, etc.? Or if not a negative news story, how about a story about someone actually doing something to make the plight of someone better? Someone who is helping an AIDS patient rather than a tempest in a teapot over one woman's opinion on gay marriage?

The news media is a joke--no, a joke is supposed to be funny, and there's nothing funny about the state of the news media today. Spiro Agnew protested the bias in the 60s; I wish bias were the only problem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Movie Response

At the recommendation of a colleague who teaches a cinema class, I finally watched No Country for Old Men. It's one I know I'll have to watch over and over. Yes, it's violent, probably one of the most violent I've ever seen, but there is almost no profanity or sexual violence, and even though women are killed, we don't really see that. It was an amazing movie that can be studied at several levels and defies genre-pigeonholing. I have only read one Cormac McCarthy novel, All the Pretty Horses. After I read it I despaired of my own writing; McCarthy is better, in my opinion, than Faulkner, but I'm probably not in a position to say that. Anyway, I felt like I didn't have any business trying to write literary fiction after reading Horses. The first ten minutes of No Country had all the feeling of Cormac McCarthy's writing for me.

Two observations: I'm not sure how to interpret Chigurh, but one scene says a lot more than I think people take it for. After he kills Stephen Root (the man in the office building), another man who has watched it asks "Are you going to kill me?" and Chigurh says, "Did you see me?" He kills because he is seen. He doesn't kill Tommy Lee Jones (I know it's more appropriate to use the character names) even when he can. Why? Jones doesn't see him. But Carla Jean does. And her dialogue is important. Chigurh wants to do a coin toss with her, and she refuses. He wants to pass off the responsibility of his crimes to someone else, and she won't let him. "It's your choice whether you kill me or not, not the coin's," she says essentially. She is killed anyway, but she's not fooled by all this fate nonsense.

Which opens up a discussion of evil. I don't believe evil is some disembodied anti-life force that floats around and overtakes us or that we fight against without knowing where it is. Evil happens by us, we choose it when we disobey natural and special revelation. Evil exists when we hold to anti-God and anti-life and anti-constructive ideas and act upon them. Is there a devil? Yes, but we can't hide behind him. We can't pass off our responsibility. I have little patience for discussions of evil in the world. We bring the evil in, we let it continue, we sustain it. By we I mean the human race. Conflicts of good and evil make for nice stories, but if the stories blind us to the reality of choices and history, we are living in fairy tales.

Back to the movie. Chigurh is a mythic embodiment of evil, maybe; he could also be a character who is the end result of choices, or mentally ill, a true psychopath. Of course, every narrative has moments when we have to willingly suspend disbelief; that he is able to just not be seen wherever he goes is a bit much, and perhaps why viewers think he's a ghost, which clearly he's not. He also has no back story and just walks off at the end.

Here is a good analysis of the movie: http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2007/11/no_country_for_old_men_out_in.html

Friday, April 17, 2009


I am happy to say I received my promotion to Associate Professor. It's about time--not because of Dalton State, because of me. It should have happened twenty years ago, but I got sidetracked with having a baby, living in adjunct purgatory, and working in the wonderful world of the technical college system of Georgia, where everyone is an instructor, no matter what.

I'm tired. Teaching ten-hour overload this semester has been exhausting, and I feel like falling off the planet. But tomorrow I'm driving to Atlanta, Sunday I teach Bible class, three more weeks of classes, la, la, la.

I want to congratulate the many students who won awards at our honors convocation. The Foundation gives out a boatload of cash to hard-working students. Another reason I feel DSC is the best place I ever worked. Unlike most state colleges, it really takes students, most of them academically unprepared (woefully so), from all walks of life and transforms them into professionals. I wouldn't give this up, and I doubt I will ever go back to Christian higher education simply because it is not accessible. Yet Dalton is conservative enough that a person like me can live happily and not feel out of place. That being said, I'm unsatisfied with the status of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries' new digs (if they can be called that), but there may be a silver lining in this cloud. I feel that it was an over-response to an insignificant threat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

As long as

I think we could call this generation the "as long as" generation. As long as I don't have to pay more taxes, I'll vote for a change. As long as my life is not inconvenienced, I'll be socially-conscious. As long as I don't have to sacrifice anything, I'll serve God. As long as I'm controling the relationship, I'll be in one.

I think the tea parties are great. I wish I had time to hang out at one; I'm too busy earning a living to pay the taxes, which I could say is a government plot to keep us enslaved so we can't be in protests. That sounds like something a rightwingnutjob would say, and heaven knows we can't let anyone think that (as if the left needed any help with conspiracies).

But the only protests that really matter are the ones that take place on election days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Core

Everybody wants to know what the core of successful interpersonal communication. Last night my students presented a seminar on this subject and came back to such terms as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and empathy. All of these are important traits. Even Peter Drucker, the management guru, says that one must manage himself (or herself) before being able to manage employees. It is easy to limit good interpersonal communication to a list of techniques, but most experts recognize that it depends on a core of understanding of one's values, strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and goals.

The writer of Proverbs 4:23 figured it out long ago. "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of life." But in good Biblical fashion, this verse agrees with the gurus but turns their advice on its head. Yes, everything, including our speech, proceeds from the heart, which to the OT folks was not an emotional center but the thought and emotional center (not making a false division that we Westerners do). But we are to guard that which is the center, to recognize that it is susceptible to attack, especially from within itself; open to deception, the most common of which is self-deception.

Not to spiritualize, but the experts nowadays haven't come up with anything new. Now if we can just learn the centuries-old lesson. Only communication that comes from an ethical center and a real central honesty and reality matters and works.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Interpersonal Comm 101

Suzette Elgin wrote a very interesting book in the 1970s called, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense. It offers a piece of communication advice that has stuck with me a long time. "Whenever you talk with someone, assume, at least temporarily, that he or she is telling the truth." (or perhaps, the truth as they know it). I think this advice is vital because:
1. They might be telling you the truth and you'll miss it;
2. The practice will improve your listening skills;
3. If you listen well, it will enhance your credibility;
4. This practice respects the humanity, if not the Imago Dei, in the other person;
5. Unless you listen well, how can you judge whether they are not telling the truth?
6. You can always make the call on the validity of their "talk" after all the facts are in instead of rushing to judgment, which seems to be pandemic in this culture.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Long Walk

There are many Christian traditions, some associated with Easter. Since the early church, Christians have greeted each other with "Christ is risen," and "He is risen indeed" in response. We used to have a Sunday School teacher, a precious Greek man, who taught us to say it in Greek (any transliteration here would be a mess), but the Greek version is actually "of a truth He is risen," which I like better.

Another tradition I think we should start is to take a long walk talking about spiritual things on Easter afternoon, as Christ did with the two "fringe" disciples. I was privileged to spend Easter in England in 1997, where I attended Eden Baptist in Cambridge in the morning and a vespers service at St. Paul's Cathedral in the evening. That had to be the most memorable, aside from the Easter I was baptized, I have ever spent. Interestingly (not ironically--people use that word incorrectly, as they do "literally"), both sermons were about the Road to Emmaus. It is one of my top five favorite passages in Scripture, along with John 11, Isaiah 53, Hebrews 11, and Revelation 5.

There are two lessons I get out of the story of that long walk on Easter afternoon. First, why wasn't Christ appearing to Herod, Caesar, great men, philosophers, the Sanhedrin, and huge crowds? He could have been a rock star, to use our parlance. Instead, He's spending a couple of hours with these two confused guys who don't even recognize him, but who are very candid and open-hearted. Not what I would be doing, to say the least. Thankfully.

The second lesson is how we can miss the obvious, but perhaps in their case they are to be forgiven. They had reason to miss identifying Jesus--they'd seen him crucified a couple of days before, and we're not trained to look for the dead walking alongside us. And apparently there were some supernatural reasons (as if the resurrection were not supernatural enough). But how we do miss the obvious. It is frightening how often we do, and in this case, how often we miss the presence of God walking along us even as we are voicing our misgivings, doubts, and confusion.

With this end of Holy Week I will try to return to posting more regularly and more about the original purpose of this blog, communication issues.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In the meantime

We are all like the disciples. Their two-day wait is like our two-thousand-year wait. I've often wondered what really went through their heads that Sabbath day. They had to rest, the Bible says. They couldn't travel, as good Jews. But their physical inaction could not have been matched by psychological inaction. Did they expect anything to happen? They were supposed to, but I doubt that in the despair of seeing their leader not just killed, but barbarously tortured and executed, they were in a mental state to go back over all his teachings and figure it out. Maybe I'm wrong, but post-traumatic-stress was probably sitting in. Were they sleeping? Meeting with one another? drinking heavily? (we evangelicals don't want to think that, but I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them didn't go on a drunk). Contemplating their career options, such as they were in the first century? Trying to find out what happened to Judas?

Or maybe they were just waiting, in the meantime, like we are. A la Milton, "they also serve who only stand and wait." Occupy til I come, Jesus said.

Like most women of my generation, I am task-oriented (read: hyper to a fault). A day is only good if I have checked everything off my to-do-list. I'm good with the "occupy" part; it's the "til I come part" (keeping in mind that is the whole point of it) that I have trouble with. If the disciples believed he would rise, they probably thought, why the wait? (for the resurrection). If they didn't get it, they probably also thought, why the wait (for the Messiah)?

Yes, why the wait? is the question. How long, oh Lord. Yearning and longing are our lot.

Friday, April 10, 2009


In the last three or four months, I have been struck by the feeling that the world as we knew it is ending. Primarily I feel that way as an American, and to some extent as a citizen of the world, but mostly as a Christian.

I am not the first person to think this. Imagine the disciples on this day. And as soon as they, perhaps, after a couple of days, got their minds and hearts around the fact that Jesus was dead, he goes and resurrects. What an inconvenience for the disciples!

Oh, I forgot, they didn't lived in an "it's all about me" society. They just did what any normal human being whose leader and friend appears after a violent death. They didn't believe it; they rejected the stories of their peers and of course those silly women they tolerated even while Jesus treated them like human beings. The disciples knew "dead is dead" (to quote the last title of LOST, probably not an accident that it came this week). It wasn't a matter of them wanting to believe it; normal working class people know dead people don't rise from the grave.

So they probably said, "this is the end of the world as we know it." It may be that every generation faces some event that makes them say, "the world will never be the same again." But most of the time we look back on history and see that yes, the event did change life somewhat but didn't really alter human existence that much. Only a few events really do, and those often just locally or for a certain group of people. The resurrection stands at the top of the heap of those events.

As for the political landscape, yes, some things will change, but there will also be a backlash. But I feel more discouraged about the slow, drip-drip-drip changes that are obvious in the young people's attitudes today based on their lack of knowledge of history. As Cicero said, those who don't know history are doomed to be children forever.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holy Week

I am a fan of N. T. Wright; here is a link to an interesting article on the Easter accounts by him and Craig Evans. I am struck by how behind I am in my reading. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/aprilweb-only/114-42.0.html

I was thinking today about the women at the tomb. Why did they go there this morning? They took spices to anoint the body, which means they didn't expect it to be resurrected. They expected it to be there. But how where they going to get to it? A rock and guards were in the way. Did they think the guards would move the rock? Why, since they were under orders not to? What were these women thinking?

Their actions don't make sense, really. But I don't conclude from that that the Biblical account is wrong. As N. T. Wright argues in the link above, women were considered to be entirely unreliable witnesses in the first century, so using them as verification of the accounts proves that the accounts were not polemical, or made up later to prove something. The male writers of Scripture would not choose of their own volition to use female testimony.

So, the account is correct, but their actions make no sense. And that is my point. Whatever they were doing there that morning, it didn't have to do with logic. (And don't take from this that women are illogical!) It had to do with faith and devotion. They went because they hoped to find a way to show their hearts for Jesus. Maybe, some how, they would get to do it. I, for one, have done things only because of crazy hope and love, not knowing if it would pay off, gambling even, if you will, that I can express my love or see the loved one or fulfill my duty. Taking a chance, a risk--and good grief, these women were taking a chance to confront those guards.

And what did they do when they heard the news--they ran. I surely would have.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Arrogant Americans

Are we arrogant? There is an arrogance of "we can help you and will and are proud to do so" and an arrogance of "we are too good to help you." Yes, Americans can be arrogant, but it's of the first kind. We are in a position to help and often think we know better than we do, but the motive is good. I really think we are more condescending than arrogant.

Does President Obama not know the fallacies of composition and division? Just because there are arrogant Americans in the country does not make the country arrogant; just because our foreign policy might seem arrogant does not mean that every single one of us is. For example, I can say Dalton State College is an excellent college, but that doesn't mean that every professor and every student is an excellent professor or student. And just because most of the professors and students are excellent at what they do, that doesn't make the college excellent.

Finally, I would humbly question the wisdom of overdoing the mea culpas. I'm not sure what he expects to gain from this penitence for trying to rid the world of HIV/AIDS, poverty, tyrants, ignorance, and oppression.
Isaiah 52:14: Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men; so shall He sprinkle (startle) many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;

Some translations translate the word as startle, some as sprinkle. From our perspective, there is absolutely no connection between the two words. Either way, it makes for an interesting reflection. "Sprinkle" alludes to the Levitical priesthood. Instead of penitent Jews being the recipients of sprinkling of sacrificial blood, "many nations" will, another prophetic reminder that the Jews were never to be considered the sole beneficiaries of divine blessings. "Startle" is my preference but only because I like the picture, not because I think it's a more correct rendering.

The ancients, other than the Jews, saw history as never-ending cycles. The Suffering Servant will slice into those never-ending circles and startle the Gentiles. What can be said? Nothing--the powerful don't have a response, they shut their mouths. If he had been a warrior, they would raise an army up to fight him. If he had been only a philosopher, they could censor or celebrate him. But he was something different; he is not easily responded to.

Christ split history in two--not just in the sense of dates and times and designations, but as stepping into the middle of it to startle the world. I like to think it is still possible.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Off Point but . . .

I wanted to post about spiritual things this week, but my predilection for movies is leading me astray. I saw two very funny movies that I should have already seen this weekend. Best in Show and This is Spinal Tap. Obviously, created by the same people, a little trashy, but incredibly clever and laugh out loud funny. The lyrics to those songs in Spinal Tap are too much. I bet a lot of people thought it was real when it first came out. Like all good satire--I'm thinking A Modest Proposal here--it tips its hand just enough to let the perceptive in on the joke, but is just as likely to leave the clueless in the dark thinking, "I never heard of this band" (or in the case of Swift, "how barbarian this guy is!"

Spokes in a Wheel

Isaiah 53 is an excellent meditation for passion week. It strikes me as a pivotal, central chapter in the whole Bible. While it probably doesn't have reference to every other book, it probably has a connection to most--definitively to the ceremonial law, to Genesis, to Davidic history, to other prophets, to the gospels, and to Revelation.

It begins in Isaiah 52:13. (No inspiration in those chapter and verse divisions, that's for sure) It can be divided into introduction, the human view, the reality view, and the interpretation.

The introduction key idea: He will startle the nations, and the kings will shut their mouths at Him.

The human view key idea: We hid as it were our faces from him. (What a wealth of thought and emotion is there--more tomorrow).

The reality view: He was wounded for our transgressions.

The interpretation: It pleased the LORD to bruise (crush) Him.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Passion Week Thoughts--Roots

Tomorrow I am supposed to teach Isaiah 53 in Sunday Bible Study. That is an impossible task. Impossible to do in 40 minutes, impossible to do in my human spiritual condition, impossible to do because of the depth of its root system--it reaches into just about every other book in the Bible. For example, it refer to Christ as the Root out of dry ground, a reference we see in Revelation 22:16, "The root of David."

So my lesson will be a feeble attempt. But it is an appropriate passage to start Passion Week, and I would challenge anyone who reads this to make it the focus of your preparation for Easter. As I wrote earlier, I observed Lent this year--not by giving up chocolate or liquor or cigarettes, ha, ha--but by giving up anger. And making that decision has been fruitful. I have not been so angry for the last few weeks, not in the deeply felt root of bitterness sense, just in the slightly aggravated sense (due to an overscheduled semester). Giving up anger for Lent has helped me get through the shenanigans of this administration and the media that reports it.

Whether I will go back to my outrage at what's going on after next Sunday--I don't know. There is good and bad anger. I wanted to give up the anger rooted in a sense of personal victimization (a sense not totally based in experiential reality, by the way, which is a post for another day) and wounded self-importance. I don't want to give up anger based on the injustice in this world, and we are doing an injustice to future generations with all this debt, the unborn, those whose civil rights are violated in China, and possibly to our military safety.

This is not to say I disagree with every Obama has done. Drawing down forces in Iraq is reasonable, as is rooting out Al-Quaeda in Afghanistan, and closing Gitmo. But the impression I get with his decisions is that they are very present-based. He's doing what looks good now, not what will have long-term good consequences.

I can work out some of my frustrations by chopping up the soil in my garden. I have expanded my vegetable plot almost 100% (still small) and may plant today--I fear we will still have a frost in April and I don't want to risk that. I do it all by hand, definitely a work out. Hoeing and raking and digging and dragging bags of dirt and manure. Getting the soil ready and (forgive me) pulling up the weed roots is the hardest part of this process.

I should probably get off of this meditation on roots, which is devolving into silliness. Three more increasingly foolish references--I do not dye my hair, so my hair is always the same color down to my roots (the only value of being a natural blond that I can see), and my favorite music genre is roots music--bluegrass, jazz, blues--probably because of my very Appalachian roots.

Public Speaking Online, Part IV

During the Web Speech             One of the helpful suggestions from the business writers used for this appendix ...