Archive for October, 2011

LAND OF GOSHEN

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Here in the United States, people sometimes tend to toss around concepts like secession a little too freely.  Every political disagreement, every legislative failure or every electoral loss turns into a point of no return, the time to go our separate ways.

And the left is just as guilty of this mindset as the right.  After George Bush was reelected in 2004, formerly interesting blogger Ken Layne went bat crap, sneering at and insulting Christians and raving on and on about “Jesusland.”

But this is not to say that American political splits should never because sometimes they should.  And the one place where a secession needs to happen the most is just across the Mississippi River from where I live:

It’s a prairie puzzler in Illinois: What happened to all the money?

Ten months after the largest tax increase in its history, Illinois is unable to give scheduled raises to its workers. The backlog of unpaid bills is $4 billion and years from resolution. The current budget, despite $7 billion in new revenue, isn’t balanced. Businesses, even as they argue that government pension costs are unsustainable, will clamor for tax cuts during a legislative session that starts today in Springfield.

The Land of Lincoln now resembles that president’s “House Divided,” a cauldron of factions fighting over how to escape a financial crater years in the making. Unions fight Democrats, businesses threaten flight, and a poll shows that majorities of voters oppose cuts in education, public safety, the environment, aid to the poor and those with disabilities — everything in the spending plan except pensions.

“It’s time for a rendezvous with reality,” Democratic Governor Pat Quinn promised in September, as he announced plans to dismiss more than 1,900 government employees because the state “clearly does not have enough money.”

What happened?  I don’t know.  But insanity like this probably figures in somewhere.

Two lobbyists with no teaching experience will be allowed to count past years as union employees toward state teacher pensions after substitute teaching for only one day in 2007, according to a published report Sunday.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers’ political director, Steven Preckwinkle, and another union lobbyist, David Piccioli, took advantage of legislation allowing union officials to get into the teacher pension fund and count previous years as union workers after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and conducting classroom work before the legislation was signed into law in 2007, according to a Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV investigation published Sunday. 

According to the report, Preckwinkle, 59, could collect $2.8 million by the time he’s 78. Piccioli, 61, could receive around $1.1 million by age 78.

Preckwinkle and Piccioli declined interview requests for the article published in the Tribune and did not immediately return requests for comment that The Associated Press emailed to them on Sunday.

For a long time, the southern part of Illinois has been known as Egypt and has been under the thumb of Chicago kleptocrats for almost as long.  If there is any justice left in this country, Egypt needs to become the 51st American state.

DUAL LOYALTIES

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The Rev. Canon Dan Webster sounds a might conflicted these days:

Much of the plot in “The Ides of March” includes entrapment and political maneuvering that would make a Pharisee or a Herodian proud. As a Christian it raises this issue: who do I worship? Do I follow Jesus, do what he did, and claim my citizenship in the kingdom of God or do I claim to follow Jesus but worship some sort of civil religion that takes the Constitution, American society and culture, and blends them with some things in the Bible?

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, one of our contemporary prophets, has challenged any American who claims to follow Jesus: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

I claim dual citizenship in the kingdom of God and the USA. But when my country or its leaders ask me to ignore Jesus’ commands to help the poor, hungry, homeless, or to love my enemies, then I have to choose which God I worship. I hope I always choose Jesus.

I hope you do too, Dan.  I also hope you didn’t have too much sweeping up to do after knocking down that straw man of yours.  Because you and I both know, big smacker, that nobody in the US government has EVER asked you “to ignore Jesus’ commands” about helping the poor the hungry and the homeless or loving your enemies.  You and I also know that the US government never will.

I’ve got a couple of scenarios for you, Dan:

(1) A man tentatively approaches you on the street and tells you that he hasn’t eaten anything in three days and could you do something for him?  Which of the following options best constitutes helping this poor man out, Dan?

(A) telling him that you intend to organize a campaign to raise awareness about the problem of hunger in this country.
(B) handing him a twenty, all the money you have in your pocket, and telling him that there’s a McDonald’s right down the street.

(2) I’m doing okay financially.  But I’ve got this (fictional) brother who’s a wreck.  He’s addicted to crack and meth which means that he can’t hold a job for any length of time.  Every time any of us try to help him out by giving him a warm place to sleep, say, he’s gone when we wake up and our laptops are nowhere to be found.

Dude sleeps on the streets most nights and has been in and out of jail several times.  So let’s just say that if anybody brings his name up, everybody in the family quickly changes the subject.

One day I hear a knock on my door.  I open the door and see my homeless, drug-addicted brother standing there.  “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” he asks.

“Of course,” I reply.

“You’re supposed to help the poor and less fortunate, right?”

“Right.  What can I do for you?”

“I need $500 right now.”

Then I ask my brother what he wants it for but he angrily refuses to tell me.  I ask him again and he once again refuses to say.  And he’s even angrier than before.  How do I best help my less-fortunate brother, Dan?

(A) Hand him $500, no questions asked.
(B) Hand him brochures of several drug rehab programs, tell him to pick one, offer to drive him there and then declare that he’ll get all the help, financial or otherwise, that he needs when he gets off drugs and not before.

You’re quite right about one thing, Dan.  Our Lord did, in fact, command you to help the poor, the hungry and the homeless.  He also did, in fact, command you to love your enemies.  You, Dan.  Me too.  In fact, all of us who call upon His name are to do whatever we can to help the poor. 

But if you seriously believe, as you seem to suggest here, that having the government mindlessly throw billions of dollars in the general direction of this or that federal poverty program while you sit back and feel morally superior constitutes helping the poor then not to put too fine a point on it, Dan, but you don’t understand Christ’s words at all.

TANTRUM

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Former Democratic congressman Steve Driehaus doesn’t seem to know what the phrase “grow a pair” means:

When voters in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District threw Democrat Steve Driehaus out of office after only one term, he did not bow out gracefully.  No, he decided to get even.  So he did what anyone does in today’s culture: he sued somebody.

Charging that its activities contributed to his defeat and thus to his “loss of livelihood,” Driehaus is suing the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports pro-life candidates for Congress and which has been one of the leading and most effective organizations involved in the fight to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

During the 2010 elections the Susan B. Anthony List engaged in a campaign to identify and call out a group of allegedly anti-abortion-rights members of Congress who provided the margin that allowed President Barack Obama’s reform of the nation’s healthcare system to get through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Susan B. Anthony List said their vote in favor of the law, which did not include any pro-life protections, amounted to a betrayal of their pro-life principles.

According to Driehaus, who was one of that group, what the Susan B. Anthony List said in its public communications amounted to a malicious lie that contributed to his defeat. Amazingly, rather than laugh the suit out of court U.S. District Court judge Timothy S. Black, an Obama appointee, is allowing it to go forward.

UPDATE: And while we’re on the subject of whining little babies

DEEP EPISCOPALIANISM

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

The Episcopal Organization’s Executive Council just wrapped up its Salt Lake City meeting:

Weave, weave, weave . . .
Weave us together in unity and love.

[from the Weave song attributed to Rosemary Crow]

All day long on Thursday, Oct. 20, the Executive Council gathered. Members came from Bogota in the Diocese of Colombia, from Seattle in the Diocese of Olympia, from the Standing Rock Reservation in the Diocese of North Dakota, from St. Thomas in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, all ready for their seventh of nine meetings in this triennium. Some traveled only a little more than an hour by air while others spent 18 hours or more making connections and weathering flight delays. Steve Hutchinson of the Diocese of Utah was the only Council member able to sleep in his own bed in Salt Lake City each night as his colleagues came to meet in his home town.

Get ready because you are about to witness true Episcopal greatness.

Each was eager to greet colleagues and friends and dive into the full schedule of the meeting when it officially began on Friday morning. Council members had already become immersed in the papers and reports, budget and financial statements that have been posted to the online community known as the Extranet on a constant basis over the past month.

Not yet.

A new norm for Council requests that documents be posted fourteen days in advance to allow for translation into Spanish, the native language of several Council members; simultaneous translators are present at Council meetings to facilitate participation.

Now.

We are living into a new season of weaving our threads of interdependence together in the spirit of ubuntu – you in me and I in you, the theme of our last General Convention.

It’s like watching an Albert Pujols home run.  All you can do is sit there in awe.

The Council said a bunch of other things about a bunch of other stuff(apparently, you can now add “weave” to the long list of Episcopal buzzwords).  But after reading a sentence as great as that last one, why in the world would anyone want to keep going?

That’s always been the key to enjoying Episcopal writing.  Never argue with a sentence like that one, attempt to interpret it or even make fun of it.  Just silently bask in the glow of its spectacularly pompous and self-important meaninglessness.

You’ll thank me later.

DRUM BOOGIE

Monday, October 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Have you ever read something that you PRAYED was a joke or parody of some kind because the alternative, that it might actually be serious, was too horrible to allow yourself to contemplate even for a moment?  If you haven’t, you’re about to:

OWS is over after Tuesday:

Friends, mediation with the drummers has been called off. It has gone on for more than 2 weeks and it has reached a dead end. The drummers formed a working group called Pulse and agreed to 2 hrs/day at times during the mediation, and more recently that changed to 4 hrs/day. It’s my feeling that we may have a fighting chance with the community board if we could indeed limit drumming and loud instrumentation to 12-2 PM and 4-6 PM, however that isn’t what’s happening.

Last night the drumming was near continuous until 10:30 PM at night. Today it began again at 11 AM. The drummers are fighting among themselves, there is no cohesive group. There is one assemblage called Pulse that organized most of the drummers into a group and went to GA for formal recognition and with a proposal.

Unfortunately there is one individual who is NOT a drummer but who claims to speak for the drummers who has been a deeply disruptive force, attacking the drumming rep during the GA and derailing his proposal, and disrupting the community board meeting, as well as the OWS community relations meeting. She has also created strife and divisions within the POC caucus, calling many members who are not ‘on her side’ “Uncle Tom”, “the 1%”, “Barbie” “not Palestinian enough” “Wall Street politicians” “not black enough” “sell-outs”, etc. People have been documenting her disruptions, and her campaign of misinformation, and instigations. She also has a documented history online of defamatory, divisive and disruptive behavior within the LGBT (esp. transgender) communities. Her disruptions have made it hard to have constructive conversations and productive resolutions to conflicts in a variety of forums in the past several days.

Whether or not you personally feel that the support of the community board and local residents and their reps is needed to maintain our occupation, many of us believe that maintaining Liberty Square (aka Zuccotti Park) as a flagship and nerve center for our movement right now is in fact critical to our efforts that are much bigger picture, longer term, more revolutionary than the internal conflicts that are consuming too much energy right now.

We need to take this seriously, and be clear that if we can’t deal with conflict and self-organizing then we are facing eviction very soon (this week), and the allies that helped turn out mass numbers at the last one will not be around this time, nor will the press be supportive. Additionally, Bloomberg released a statement a few days ago that said that he/the City plans to crack down on any violations as of this week. Once we lose community and ally support at Tuesday’s vote, the door is wide open for an eviction.

What to do? We need an all hands-on-deck clean-up and everyone sharing responsibility for the Good Neighbor Policy, including enforcement of 12–2 PM and 4–6 PM drumming hours. (While recognizing that the community board has been firm that they can only support 2 hrs/day of drumming). We should also start serious conversations internally about what this movement might I look like without Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square. How can we set ourselves up for continued organizing and momentum without an active occupation? I don’t write this to be dramatic, it’s a serious question. If so much of our organizing time currently (for many of us, 20 hrs a day) is going to putting out fires and maintaining the space, what does it look like if we lose the space?

MAKING SANDWICHES AMERICANS WON’T MAKE

Monday, October 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Presented without comment:

A New Mexico resident has been cited after federal officials say he tried to smuggle 76 pounds of illicit lunch meat from Mexico by hiding it in a spare tire.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last week that the eight rolls of Mexican bologna were discovered aboard a truck at an El Paso port of entry on Friday.  

According to officials, officers detected an anomaly in the appearance of a Ford F-150 as it arrived at the Paso Del Norte international crossing port. Agents scanned the spare tire with a density meter. 

When they opened the spare tire, officials said agents found the bologna hidden inside.

“This bologna is a prohibited product because it is made from pork and has the potential for introducing foreign animal diseases to the U.S. pork industry,” CBP El Paso Port Director Hector Mancha told CBS affiliate KRQE. “This is a highly unusual seizure because of the concealment method.” 

The driver was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty and was released.

MAXIM

Monday, October 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Jeff Goldstein does not suffer fools gladly.

PRAYER REQUEST

Monday, October 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

I recently received word that the wife of legendary MCJ commenter Ed the Roman passed away from complications arising from Type 1 diabetes.

SITTIN’ IN A TREE

Monday, October 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Christian left?  You’ll be delighted to know that a prominent American political figure is even more enthusiastic about Occupy Wall Street than you are:

HOWLER

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

For the first time since World War II, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London has been closed and is losing a ton of money because of having to shut down.  And it wasn’t Germans who forced the cathedral’s closure this time but stupid, filthy British hippies. 

Not surprisingly, these people are outraged that St. Paul’s would even think about shutting down because of such a noble, worthwhile protest.  Of course, when you’re as rich as the Episcopal Organization, losing £20,000 pounds a day is chump change.

Fortunately for all of us, some people are always able to find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds.  St. Paul’s Canon Chancellor and everybody’s favorite Anglican comedian, the Picar of Vutney, had this to say:

I remain firmly supportive of the right of people peacefully to protest. But given the strong advice that we have received that the camp is making the cathedral and its occupants unsafe then this right has to be balanced against other rights and responsibilities too. The Christian gospel is profoundly committed to the needs of the poor and the dispossessed. Financial justice is a gospel imperative. Those who are claiming the decision to close the cathedral has been made for commercial reasons are talking complete nonsense.

For the benefit of those Americans who don’t always appreciate the subtleties of British humor(excuse me, humour), His Grace helpfully explains just how funny that is.

But, on the matter of ‘talking complete nonsense’, this is the man who massacres Scripture; despises the ‘ego’ of heterosexual weddings while lauding gay marriage; berates conservative Anglicans as ‘homophobes’ and ‘extremists’; equates ‘Islamophobia’ with racism; does not believe in the immortality of the soul; rejects the salvific notion that Jesus was sacrificed for our sin…

The Fraze, bringing the giggles.

CLARIFICATION

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Mark?  Stacy Sauls.  What have you been doing with yourself these days, Bishop?  Working hard or hardly working?

That’s good, really good to hear. 

I’m doing great.  Couldn’t be better.  And how is…er…uh…Mrs. Lawrence?

Yes, I know that your wife knows her own name, I just momentarily forgot it, that’s all.  No need to be a smartass.

Why did I call?  Well, Mark, the Presiding Bishop wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about the…uh…current situation.

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

Why did we wait so long to let you know you were being investigated?  Well, I can see where you might be upset about that.

Mark, Mark, Mark!  Calm down and let me explain what happened.  A lot of people around the office were using up vacation time right about then, we had to hire temps out the wazoo, stuff that should have got sent here got sent there.  You know how it is.  The Presiding Bishop couldn’t be more embarrassed.

That is so what happened!  There’s no reason to get snippy!

What?

Now there’s where you’re wrong.  We haven’t prejudged the outcome of this investigation and quite frankly, Mark, I resent your implication that we have.

No, that’s not what we’re doing.

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

That’s not it at all.  All we’re trying to do here is to determine whether your abandonment of communion constitutes…

Mark?

Mark?

Mark, if I can just get a word in…

Mark?

Calm down, Mark. 

Mark, there’s no point in talking to you if you’re just going to…

Mark?

Mark?

Mark!  Of course we haven’t already decided that you’ve abandoned the communion of the church.  That’s the farthest thing from our minds.  We’re just trying to determine whether your abandonment of communion constitutes a…

What?

Well, there had to have been some kind of abandonment of communion or no one would have filed a complaint.

It does so make sense! 

Well maybe you accidentally abandoned communion some time.  Ever thought of that?

You can so accidentally abandon communion!  It happens all the time.  When I was at Lexington, I had this priest who used to accidentally abandon communion three or four days a week.  Anyway, all we’re trying to determine is whether your abandonment of…

No I have not been drinking! 

What was that, Mark?  I didn’t hear what you just said.  I should live into my own what?

DEAR CHRISTIAN LEFT

Friday, October 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

PLEASE go out of your way to associate yourselves with this stupid hippie crap:

It began, as it so often does, with a drum circle. The ten-hour groove marathons weren’t sitting well with the neighborhood’s community board, the ironically situated High School of Economics and Finance that sits on the corner of Zuccotti Park, or many of the sleep-deprived protesters.

“[The high school] couldn’t teach,” explained Josh Nelson, a 27-year-old occupier from Nebraska. “And we’ve had issues with the drummers too. They drum incessantly all day, and really loud.” Facilitators spearheaded a General Assembly proposal to limit the drumming to two hours a day. “The drumming is a major issue which has the potential to get us kicked out,” said Lauren Digion, a leader on the sanitation working group.

But the drums were fun. They brought in publicity and money. Many non-facilitators were infuriated by the decision and claimed that it had been forced through the General Assembly.

“They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” said Seth Harper, an 18-year-old from Georgia. “The GA decided to do it … they suppressed people’s opinions. I wanted to do introduce a different proposal, but a big black organizer chick with an Afro said I couldn’t.”

To Shane Engelerdt, a 19-year-old from Jersey City and self-described former “head drummer,” this amounted to a Jacobinic betrayal. “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest,” he said. “They didn’t even give the drummers a say … Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.”

Your friend,

Chris

GIANT PAPIER-MÂCHÉ PUPPETS OF DOOM?

Friday, October 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Give it up for giant taxpayer-supported papier-mâché puppets of doom.

CIVILITY

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Occupy St. Louis tries a new tactic.  Death threats.

UPDATE: Florida mom abandons family to become filthy hippy.

UPDATE: At a memorial for a fallen police officer.

EVENT HORIZON

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 29 Comments

We may have finally reached the point at which joking about the Episcopal Organization is no longer possible.  Matt Kennedy sends word of the following resolution to be voted on at the upcoming convention of the Diocese of Atlanta:

R11-7 

Contributions of Pelagius  

Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and   whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition, and  whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and  whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans,   Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition  And be it further resolved that this committee will report their conclusions at the next Annual Council.

In addition, a number of interesting seminars and workshops will be conducted during Atlanta’s diocesan convention.  These include:

(1) Anglican Perspectives on Ganesh
(2) Molech – Monster or Misunderstood Reformer?
(3) An Evening with Zeus, Odin and Yahweh
(4) Living Into the Atheist-Anglican Tension
(5) Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester Presents Zen Anglicanism
(6) It’s Who You Know – Modern Perspectives on Arius
(7) Thor’s Hammer – Norse “Pagan” Influences on the Celtic Church
(8) Reclaiming the Marcionite Tradition – A Roundtable Discussion
(9) Toward a Canon for Our Times – An Introduction to the Gospel of Mary Magdalene
(10) A Shinto-Anglican Dialogue
(11) The “Orthodox Christian” Threat to the Church And What Must Be Done
(12) Do We Really Need So Much Bible? – A Report from the Scriptural Revision Committee

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