Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obama Disappoints on the Environment

Saw this in Politico's daily Playbook e-mail today. Very disheartening:

--L.A. Times A1, 'A quiet OK for peaks' removal: Environmentalists feel betrayed by Obama as mines are approved,' by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten: 'With the election of President Obama, environmentalists had expected to see the end of the 'Appalachian apocalypse,' their name for exposing coal deposits by blowing the tops off whole mountains. But in recent weeks, the administration has quietly made a decision to open the way for at least two dozen more mountaintop removals. ... The issue is politically sensitive because environmentalists were an active force behind Obama's election, and the president's standing is tenuous among Democratic voters in coal states. ... Moreover, Obama needs support from local lawmakers for an energy agenda that would further regulate home-state industries, but halting mountaintop mining could eliminate jobs and put upward pressure on energy prices in a time of economic hardship. Coal advocates have solicited help from officials as high up as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel..'

Full L.A. Times story here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm such a sap

Here's 2 Grand, a grandfather/granddaughter act from Britain's Got Talent's semi-finals (they were the judge's choice to proceed to the finals). Sally is going to look back in forty years, and these memories will be among the most important of her life:

For some odd reason, the BGT semi-finals are available for embed but the auditions are not.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Great Editorial Cartoon

Great cartoon from Tom Toles, tackling three or four issues all at once. It does an especially good job of addressing my feelings towards tackling both health care and climate change during a time of budgetary crisis.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Authoritarian Arrogance at Liberty University

From NBC's First Read:

Liberty University, the school in Virginia founded by the late Jerry Falwell, has expelled the Democratic Party club on the campus, saying that the national Democratic Party's views contradict the university's mission... Said a school official in an email to the Democratic club, according to the Lynchburg (VA) newspaper: "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, hate crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.).

What ticks me off most about this move is not the censorship and authoritarianism that it displays, but the fact that the school would assert that there is such a thing as a "Christian doctrine." This is, of course, par the course for this particular crowd of fundamentalistic evangelicals, but it still irritates me. I may be a "pro-life" Christian, but I am not stupid: I recognize that there is no scientific proof that a fetus is a human child, and I know full well that Christ never talked about abortion. He also never talked about homosexuality or socialism. (On that note, I think anyone living in a socialist country would laugh at the notion that the Democrats are socialists, and those who suggest otherwise only betray their own political ignorance and ideological blindness).

To suggest that all Christians must believe a specific view about these (or any other political) issues lest they walk apart from God is hogwash. It is arrogant and it is un-Christ like. This behavior reads things into the Gospel that are not there, and uses Christianity to reaffirm previously-held beliefs rather than, like Jesus, challenge the establishment. It conforms to the Roman American status quo rather than seeking to reconcile us as one body.

I would also point out a certain irony in this move: Students at Liberty have no liberty. It is now the official policy of Liberty University to only grant personal liberty to those who will use it in the same ways that Falwell used his.

Liberty University is not a Christian college. It does not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but the teachings of the Republican Party, an institution that came 1830 years after the resurrection and in no way resembles the early Christian church. I am a Christian, and I disown everything about Liberty University.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spam Question

The last couple of days, all three of my e-mail addresses have been hit by massive spam bombs. The subject line "Re: dear" from various e-mail addresses has shown up in my Yahoo! address thousands of times and my Dartmouth and Hotmail addresses hundreds of times. Hotmail and Dartmouth are failing to reroute it to my spam folders. Googling "'Re: dear' spam" turns up nothing.

Is anyone else having this problem? Can anyone explain it? Is this a new and common phenomenon?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Closet Muslim say what?

President Obama on the depravity of man (without using that specific phrase), h/t Politico:

A GREAT PASSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT'S NOTRE DAME SPEECH THAT YOU DIDN'T SEE ON TV: 'Unfortunately, finding that common ground -- recognizing that our fates are tied up, as Dr. King said, in a 'single garment of destiny' -- is not easy. And part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man -- our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin. We too often seek advantage over others. We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar. Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see here in this country and around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times.'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Garrison Keillor: Crankiness is a Republican birthright

Garrison Keillor on Dick Cheney's rants and why he's thinking about joining him as a Republican:

I went to a party the other day and heard the word "torture" and said that I didn't think we should prosecute the Bush lawyers who wrote those torture memos, and people jumped all over me like I was an escaped Nazi, so as long as I was persona non grata, I said some more stuff -- that America would be a better country if we took the vote away from people over 65 because they are selfish and greedy and the future of America is its young. People about dropped their drinks. And then I said that cat ownership is a sign of emotional immaturity and a good predictor of a tendency toward violent crime. I saw lifelong friends turn away in disgust. And you know something? I Don't Care. It felt good.

Liquor wasn't the cause. Crankiness was. And crankiness is the birthright of Republicans.

More here.

Dartmouth Baseball: Ivy League Champions!

A belated congratulations to Dartmouth's baseball team, the 2009 Ivy League Champions!

Dartmouth captured its first league title since 1987 last Sunday (May 4) with a valiant effort in the third game of a best-of-three series against Cornell. (Just my luck, the only game of the three I was able to make was the second, which we lost.) NCAA tournament play begins May 25.

Major kudos especially to Kyle Hendricks, a freshman who pitched seven shutout innings, and to senior 2B Jonathan Santopadre, probably the Ivy League's best hitter. This is a much better way to end the academic year than the football team's 0-10 season in the fall... but perhaps best of all, aside from Santopadre and 3B Ray Allen, most of the team's best players will be back next year and beyond! I'm going to be one happy alum in the coming years. Way to go, guys!

A fun note about Dartmouth baseball games: The fan heckling is great. The stands at Red Rolfe Field are right next to the field, so the opposing team can hear all your taunts. The goal, of course, is to get under their skin and help the home team - Ivan Zlatar '10 had a good column in yesterday's campus paper on the subject. My favorite taunt last weekend was aimed at Cornell's third base coach. The crowd nicknamed him Morpheus for his sunglasses and were absolutely relentless after a runner was tagged out at home: "Hey, Morpheus! You're in charge of the baserunning, right? So that out was kind of your mistake, right? How does that feel? This is the kids' team! They do all the work, they're the ones who practice and train, yet they only get four years! If I were you, I wouldn't want to ruin it for them, but that's just me. How does it feel, Morpheus?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Young Dartmouth alum writes "best Africa blog ever"

The Facebook feed has informed me that GMU economics chair, New York Times columnist, and popular blogger Professor Tyler Cowen just called my friend Rachel Strohm's Twitter stream "actually the best 'Africa blog' I've seen, ever."

Way to go Rachel! Rachel, for the record, is a Dartmouth alum in Rwanda who up until her graduation last June co-chaired the Millenium Development Goals Task Force at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hanover. Way to rep Hanover and humanitarianism!

You can read Rachel's Twitter stream here. An additional blog with more than 140 characters per post is here. This news doesn't change my thoughts about Twitter, but it's still pretty cool.

New program officer for Episcopal Indigenous ministries

Of note, albeit a little belatedly. From Saturday's Episcopal Life Daily:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has named Sarah Eagle Heart as program officer for Native American/Indigenous Ministries for the Episcopal Church...

Eagle Heart has been serving as a part time consultant to Native American Ministries since October 2008. She is now the administrator for Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Florida.

"As a Lakota and an Episcopalian, I try to lead by example," Eagle Heart stated in her application letter. "Communication is essential. My hope is … (that) I can encourage reconciliation, spiritual formation, and inspire our people into leadership for the future of absolute equality among genders, cultures and countries."

More here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Musical Monday: William Shatner

Major hathos today. Mega props if you can sit through this whole thing-I couldn't make it.

Because the new Star Trek movie is so awesome, I thought I'd post something Kirk-related that ISN'T awesome. At least not in a good way. I give you, Bill Shatner singing Frank Sinatra.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More on Communion and Flu

This comes from Chris Yaw of the Facebook group, "People Who Are Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church."

If concern about Swine Flu has you stocking up on hand sanitizers and questioning why any 21st century congregation would commend a common cup at Communion, you’re not alone. Recently Catholics and Methodists in southern Texas called for a halt to use of a shared chalice until more is known about the deadly virus.

However using a shared cup for Communion wine, as most Episcopal congregations do, is not as hazardous as one might expect. Episcopalians use a rather strong wine, often port, which has a much higher alcohol content than table wine. In 2000 a Canadian cardiologist named David Gould studied the issue and concluded that this high alcohol content means, “For the average communicant it would seem that the risk from drinking from the common cup is probably less than the risk of air-borne infection from using a common building.”

That said, the unknowns associated with this outbreak certainly merit reasonable cautions, and whatever your congregation’s response, it is important to keep in mind the Eucharistic theology shared by most Episcopalians. We believe in the real presence of Christ in the bread and in the wine. This means embracing the new math of God’s Grace; if you consume just the consecrated bread (often the practice of alcoholics) or just the consecrated wine (as do many with gluten allergies) you are still getting all of Jesus.

How has Swine Flu affected your congregation? Can it be an opportunity to ponder anew what the Eucharist really means to us? Drop by the home page for People Who Are Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church and leave a post if you'd like.

People ask where the information from these posts originates- and they come from one of two books I've written for inquirers and newcomers to the Episcopal Church- you can check them out at:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bishop Jenkins: I might ban intinction

This from the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana as regards swine flu:

This is an opportunity for us to undertake some basic teaching about the Eucharist. I have been asked to issue a policy statement against intinction but I shall refrain from doing so at this time. If the pandemic worsens, such may be necessary. The practice of dipping the consecrated host into the chalice, whether such is done by someone administering the sacrament or by the communicant, does not constitute a more hygienic practice than drinking from the common cup. In fact, such dipping may well pose a threat to those who receive after us. The faithful receive the fullness of Christ in either species. Receiving both bread and wine is part of our Anglican tradition; however, if one is concerned about disease, I think it better to receive only the bread than to dip the host into the chalice. It should be noted that we who share the common cup are no less hearty than those Christians who do not do so. It is better to introduce this subject now as a pastoral matter rather than waiting for something more to happen.

Banning intinction? Really? Telling people how they have to take Communion? Since when is this the authoritarian RCC? Is there any reason to believe intinction is actually unhealthy? Pleeease.