Sunday, April 24, 2005

Regarding "Justice Sunday." Here's a snip from a recent Jim Wallis SoJo email (4/21/05):

"That is an escalation of the religious/political war. And the two together sound like assertions of a Republican theocracy. Behind these activities lies a fundamental assumption by Republican operatives and their conservative religious allies that they own religion in America. They demand that religious people vote only their way. They claim that "values voters" in America belong to them, and they disrespect the faith of those who disagree with their agenda. There are better words for this than just "politically divisive" or "morally irresponsible." For these are not merely political offenses, they are religious ones. And for offenses such as these, theological terms are better - terms such as idolatry and blasphemy.

We should bring our religious convictions about all moral issues to the public square - such as the uplifting of the poor, the protection of the environment, the ethics of war, or the tragic number of abortions in America - without attacking the sincerity of other people's faith, or demanding that we should win because we are religious. We must make moral arguments and mobilize effective movements for social change that can powerfully persuade our fellow citizens, religious or not, on what is best for the common good."

In the C-J on Friday Joe Phelps, pastor of Highland Baptist Church made statements on how the "Justice" meeting was against Baptist principles, and the separation of church and state. The pastor of Highview's response was to impugn Phelps' character: saying he just wanted to get in the paper and on TV.

This is a standard right wing tactic: switch attention from issues by making personal attacks.

Today in the C-J, Sen. Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed piece stating that Democratic complaining is the standard line from the liberal elite media. "Why can't Republicans go to church," he asks? He does make a point; I'd like all Republicans to go to church and read all the words of Jesus about the poor, the widows, the hungry.

Most complaints about the meeting today are not that Republicans are meeting in a church, but that Republicans are saying that by filibustering 10 appellate court nominees, Democrats are denying their Christian freedom. (NOTE: yet another right wing trick: write an op-ed piece about the wrong issue). Hence the theocracy comments by Wallis.

I don't recall Democrats denying conservative Christians the right to go to church, to pray and interpret the Bible as they see fit.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Last Class Today

Last class for the Spring Semester. We brought the two classes together and heard a panel consisting of a Democratic senator, a Republican senator, a child advocate and an elder abuse advocate.

What was interesting was the insistence by the two senators that senators really like each other, and that the process is truly much more collegial and democratic than the press portrays. Of course, they admitted that they would often support their party, check their friendships at the door, and then after the session go and have coffee. This was in marked contrast to the election process, which to me, is bitter, rankorous, extremely negative, and highly personal.

The advocates spoke of the process to getting legislation passed; the necessity of having legislative allies, of doing your homework on the issue and on the opponents to the bill; of being persistant (rarely does a bill pass the first time it is introduced).

While I find all of this fascinating, it is troubling to think that in the four years it took to pass an elder abuse law, who knows how many older adults died because new trainings had not been conducted and service provider relationships had not been strengthened. Kind of makes you wish for a smoother, speedier process when social problems that involve life and death need legislation. A process that isn't oftentimes petty, vindictive and greedy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

My grandparent's barn

Originally uploaded by Kurwin.

I used to play on the tractor and explore around in this barn when we would visit in the summer.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Dots changing colors

Hmm. The red state, blue state thing is more complicated than I first realized here, and here. Abortion rates falling higher in blue states than in red states? Blue states have lower divorce rates?

What's one to do? How about distract us from connecting the dots by doing this, let's take over the word justice and say it only relates to being for or against President Bush. You can't with the one had complain about the out of control liberal Federal courts, and then with the other hand, complain that Senate Democrats are fillibustering 10 nominees to those Federal courts.... This is called "obscuring the connections between the dots."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

4 dots for God's Politics

Just finished God's Politics, by Jim Wallis. In it, he suggests a "third way," a way of bridging the left and right politically and religiously, finding common ground around issues both sides can agree on. For example, he assserts that most people on the Left who are pro choice, would rather women not have abortions. Why not form partnerships with those on the right, to give women alternatives to abortion (adoption, foster care), as well as reduce the economic circumstances that lead women to have abortions.

Time and time again, Wallis points out that conservatives are correct when they emphasize choice and ethics, and liberals are correct when they emphasize the economic, cultural, and political factors that keep people down.

Here are some of his more interesting "predictions for the New Millenium:"
  1. The Religious Right will lose control of the discussion of religion and public life and other voices will be heard.
  2. The Spice Girls (who?) will not be remembered, and Martin Luther King, Jr. will.
  3. Overcoming poverty will become the great moral issue as we move into the new millennium.
  4. Some liberals will get the values questions right, and some conservatives will really care about poor people.
  5. So a new option will emerge; conservative in personal values, radical for social justice. The number of spiritual progressives will grow.
  6. More parents will choose good books over mindless and soulless television.
  7. The Left will decide, as the conservatives already have, that ideas are important and will begin to offer some better ones.
My students and I began a discussion in class last week on how to overcome poverty, and I told them that Wallis' book was one dot to connect. More on that discussion later.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Iris in the Spring

Iris in the Spring
Originally uploaded by Kurwin.

Finally, it is Spring. Saw this flower last April on a walk to daycare with Ellie.