Friday, July 22, 2005

Harry Potter Wisdom for today

"Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back."

Dumbledore to Harry Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What's wrong with SBC education

Ran across this story from a blog new to me: MainstreamBaptist in which a Southern Seminary prof talks about raising violent sons:

"Why I'm Raising Violent 4 Year-Olds June 1, 2005 (by Russell D. Moore) (excerpts by me)

...this is the second movie my children have ever seen in their lives. One was a tender, touching Christmas movie about a little boy who discovers that Christmas is all about believing in the miracles within. The second was a cartoonishly violent movie in which men go face-to-face with evil aliens; often chopping off limbs in the heat of battle. As I think about my film choices for my children, I will admit that I repent....of taking them to the Christmas film.

This is because of my overall philosophy of childrearing. I am aiming to raise up violent sons.

I am not seeking to raise sons who are violent in the amoral, pagan sense of contemporary teenagers playing "Grand Theft Auto" video games or carjacking motorists. I want them to be more violent than that.

I want them to understand that the Christian life is not a Hallmark Channel version of baptized sentimentality. Instead, it is a cosmic battle between an evil dragon and the child of the woman, an ancient warfare that now includes all who belong to the Child of the Promise (Rev 12). I want them to forgive their enemies, not because they are good boys, but because they understand that vengeance against the Serpent comes not from their hand, but from that of the anointed Warrior-King (Rev 19), whose blood-soaked garments don't often transfer to the imagery of a Precious Moments wall-hanging. And I want them to exercise self-control of their passions, not because it is polite, but because they are called to struggle against the Evil One, even to the point of cutting off their own limbs rather than succumb to devices.


This is so far beyond the Prince of Peace, blessed are the peacemakers, and the writings of peacemaking scholar Glenn Stassen. Yikes

Friday, July 08, 2005

Subtle Hegemony

Today's word is hegemony, which means "The predominant influence, as of a state, region, or group, over another or others." It's use has been extended to include cultures as well. Here's a case and point:

Recently Howard Dean, DNC, made a couple of statements to the effect that the GOP is "not very friendly to different kinds of people," and that Republicans are "pretty much a White, Christian party." The Republican response from the VEEP was: "I think Howard Dean's over the top. I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does," Cheney told Fox News Channel. Additional negative comments were made by a myriad of other conservative pundits.

Recently, Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff said that the "most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security."

"Conservatives," he continued, "saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

"In the wake of the terrorist attacks," he said, "conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States against the Taliban" while liberals supported a petition "imploring the powers that be to use moderation and restraint in responding to the terrorist attacks against the United States." White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded by saying that Bush sees "no reason" for an apology.

There have been other similar situations where several Republican leaders have practiced the double standard: William J. Bennet writing on moral values (Book of Virtues), and then getting caught with a major gambling problem, Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction, and his supporters' defense (an addiction to drugs because of pain is different than those who are just addicted to drugs (those drug users are moral failures, Rush is not), Newt Gingrich's divorce of his first ill wife, while he was promoting "family values."

What's this have to do with hegemony? The conservative movement in America has taken over language, the church, education, the airwaves, so that it's beliefs are considered to be "normal," while progressives who protest, who see the world differently, are weird, devient. It is the hegemony of one group's value system over another. Selah.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Poverty reduction

Here's some somber facts to think about as the G8 gather in Edinburgh, Scotland. Taken from Altercation:

[The US contributes]... just 0.16 percent of GDP to global development—that’s one-sixth of one cent for every dollar we earn. What hope can a country have when its ruling ideologists tell the world to shut up about development because we are spending so much on guns and killing people?

America’s relatively niggardly welfare system, even its most generous incarnation—since significantly reduced--raised poor incomes only moderately, reduced the proportion of adults in poverty from 26.7 to 19.1 percent. In Germany, France, and Italy, meanwhile, employing the same benchmark, the number hovers around just seven percent.

As for the elderly, where the U.S. social security system is its most generous, it manages to reduce the level of elderly people living in poverty from nearly sixty percent before transfer payments to just below twenty percent afterward. Yet the Europeans improve on this performance as well. Germany, France, and Italy all spend roughly twice as much of their national income as does the United States. What’s more, with our inferior system of public health, and family-friendly employment laws, the U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all of their citizens.

Source for all of the above:: OECD, Health Data 1999: A Comparative Analysis of 29 Countries (OECD, 2001).

The Lord God Bird

Heard a simply amazing story on NPR's All Things Considered this afternoon, about the town of Brinkley, Arkansas and the economic hopes the community has for revitalization after a recent viewing of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

The bird was thought to be extinct, and was "rediscovered" after 60+ years. Local artists talk about making art in the birds' image, a local restaurant has an ivory-billed woodpecker burger, and a hunting lodge gears up for birders who want to take a guided trip to see the bird. The town is in the bayou.

The bird is called the Lord God Bird, because when people saw how big it was; they supposedly said "Lord God!"

The radio story is an incredible compilation of community voices, no narrator. Plus, there's an amazing original song (The Lord God Bird) written and performed by Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.

The link to the story, and a free download of the song (current as of today) is here.