Thursday, July 31, 2008
Borrowing a sleazy play out of Bush's and Karl Rove's campaign strategies book, John McCain has just put out an ad accusing Obama of a vacuous sort of "celebrity," interfacing photos of Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, of all the possible "celebrities" over the course of the past four decades that could have been chosen.
Of course, had the ad interposed other TRULY celebrated folks -- Martin Luther King, Jr, Princess Diana, Jack and Robert Kennedy (people in the same orbit as Obama), even Ronald Reagan -- the very idea of the ad would have been scrapped altogether!
Please! Pay very close attention to this kind of "spinning" in political ads. The McCain ad is trying to get you to think that Obama's celebrity has no more merit than do the paparazzi-driven "celebrity" of Spears and Hilton. If that were the case, there would be no need for the ad: DEMS, Independents and persuaded Obamacans alike would have long since repented -- in droves!
In the same ad, it's claimed that Obama plans to raise taxes on electricity. Good Lord -- pass the tomato sauce -- the smell of skunk is just overwhelming! Obama and McCain stand together and voted identically on this particular energy issue. If prices go up, they're BOTH responsible!
Aren't you sick of the Old Politics of smearing honorable candidates? McCain used to say he was, too, but he's desperate now.
Check out the following NEWSWEEK article to learn the truth about the claims McCain is making in his most recent ads:
And there's this one, too:
Please, people, get hip to the scare tactics the GOP is using, and realize that Barack Obama is going to help you. YOU! Every one of you. He's going to get America back on track, here and abroad.
He has gotten where he is with the support of the American public, who have funded his candidacy in mostly $25 and $50 donations that just keeping coming. He's obligated to US if he's obligated to anybody, not to political action committees, lobbyists, corporations or corrupt backroom politicians.
He's a breath of fresh air -- and that scares the living daylights out of a lot of people. As it should. He's going to hold America to a higher standard than it has been in the past 40 years. And I, for one, think it's about time!
Maybe it's high time for a substantive "celebrity" like Obama to gather folks together to acknowledge how much we have in common that needs to be carefully brought to fruition, instead of divisive mavericks (like Bush and McCain) who thrive on calling people names, and insinuating danger, revolution and injury where there is (and will be) none.
The GOP backers are being blatantly dishonest in their ads. Check out the facts at factcheck.org or snopes.com -- or at http://www.barackobama.com/ under the heading "Fight the Smears." (While you're at Obama's website, check out his actual stand on issues.)
Don't let the GOP get away with it this time. It's just ludicrous, pernicious marketing designed to defeat Obama in any way possible (even if it takes lies and innuendo), the man most of the world recognizes as a "throwback" to great statesmanship.
Obama is a harbinger of hope and reconciliation. Try spinning THAT!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Tonight I drove to downtown Tacoma to spend three hours calling folks from the Obama/Gregoire/Dicks/Smith/DEMS storefront to encourage them to fill out the primary election ballots they'll be receiving in the next couple of days. Our General Election candidates will be decided in mid-August. It seems we're always doing something voting-related here in Washington State, doesn't it? First we had caucuses; now we have a primary; and in November is the General Election.
Between now and then I want to dedicate at least two evenings a week (and many hours during the day weekdays) calling folks and getting a sense of where they stand on the candidates. It's really quite a lot of fun -- which I in no way expected!
We mostly call people who have historically voted Democrat, but pretty soon we're going to start calling Undecideds and see what we can do to encourage them to visit the chrisgregoire.com and barackobama.com websites... and to see if we can help dispel some of the rumors and inaccuracies that have been shamelessly distributed about these two candidates. This shouldn't be too hard, I wouldn't think. There are persuasive, logical reasons to vote for Christine Gregoire for Governor and for Barack Obama for President.
Funny story. I called one home and asked for a fellow's name who was on my call list. His wife answered. I asked, "Is David home?" She said, "Yes, may I ask who's calling?" I said, "Sure. My name's Kris and I'm calling from the Barack Obama headquarters in downtown Tacoma." "Oh!" she said. "Let me get him!" I said, "You know who I am, and you're still going to go get him?" She said, "You bet!"
My first thought was, "OMG, I'm about to be crucified by a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. I can feel it in my bones. Lord, have mercy!"
"David" (not his real first name) came on the line and said, "Hello." I said, "Your wife told you who I was, and you came to the phone?!" He said, "Yes." I said, "Without a cattle prod?" He laughed and said "Yes!" I said, "That's pretty wild!"
He said, "You think that's wild? This afternoon a lady wearing a Dino Rossi t-shirt stopped by [Rossi is the Republican candidate for Governor] and introduced herself as someone wanting to take a non-partisan survey!" I laughed and said, "Really?!" He said, "Yeah..." I commented, "So... since I came at you straight up, no attempt at hiding my true colors, you had no problem with me." He said, "That's right." (Turns out he was wildly for Obama, so my sense of foreboding was a total false alarm.)
Another fellow I called -- looking for his 21 year old daughter, who's a registered voter -- told me (a total stranger!), "I'll give you her new phone number if you'll call and give her hell for shacking up with her boyfriend!" (How's that for "substitute parenting"?) I deferred... but he relented and gave her number to me anyway.
You think calling on behalf of a political party is B_O_R_I_N_G? Not even close. People are wonderful, for the most part, when you meet them with kindness, transparency, and a genuine attitude of caring about how they feel about the candidates. I didn't hear a single wild-eyed rant about any of the candidates -- DEM or GOP -- during the three hours I called (reaching about 120 homes). And people are intrigued or really fired up about the election this year, for sure. Some are still undecided, but those who aren't are decent and not in any way condescending if they come down on the other side. In fact, the very few who did come down on the GOP side tonight admitted that the rest of their family (even their spouses) were voting for Obama or Gregoire... I know that feeling! One of my sisters wouldn't vote for a Democrat if I held her feet to a branding iron. Not that I would, no matter how important I think it is that we take a different course with all deliberate speed. I'm humane and respectful, dammit... hee hee hee)
So we have a real nail-biter going on (especially on the Republican side, I suspect). Our future standing in the world is at stake and even families are split right down the middle as to who should lead us into it.
I'M not conflicted in the least. Haven't been for eight years!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
When I was born again and began studying the Bible, I began a systematic study of the history of the Jewish people and nation, but even that seems superficial, after what I just learned in this book.
The "idea" of one God came from the Jews. Until God established them as His people and as a nation, most other cultures believed in multiple "gods" -- gods of territories, traits, and emotions, not a God who was Creator over all. Now, if you're not religious at all, this is probably no big thing, but if you are, more than likely you believe in one God. All three of the world's major religions do -- Judaism, Christian, Islam. And all three of these religions -- as well as other social movements -- owe their existence to the Jews. Abraham is considered the progenitor of all three world monotheistic religions.
Here's something from the book. Ponder it carefully:
"The enigma of Jewish survival [despite systematic efforts for well over 3,000 years to exterminate the culture] has perplexed nearly all world historians and social philosophers. Mark Twain expressed it most succinctly: 'The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dreamstuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew: all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?'" (Harper's Magazine, 1899)
For the Jew, of course, the secret of his immortality is God, the divine aspect in Jewish history. God chose them; God made promises to them; God vanquishes their enemies. God saves them -- again and again. Remnant after remnant moves forward, past the pogroms and the persecutions and the holocausts...
There really is no other explanation, is there? Not from where I sit. I see God in action when I consider the survival and the importance of Jewish thought and culture to the world.
Judaism was the first "morality-based"religion. The laws (Torah) were laid down to make the Hebrews a body of believers dedicated to treating others with compassion and concern.
In Judaism, it isn't enough to "have faith" and be a good person. It's only "enough" when a tenth of everything a Jew owns or earns goes to help someone else. In Judaism, acts of kindness, compassion and support (of the widowed, lame, blind, homeless, traveler, neighbor, etc.) are the by-products of feeling obligated to God for their own blessings -- for their existence and providence.
And the benevolence doesn't stop with their own.
And does a Jew actually have to feel, in his bones, that there's a God in order to be safe and saved? Not at all. He only has to ACT AS THOUGH God exists, and that He's taking note of the way Jews and Gentiles are treating each other. Because faith is a quavering, wavering commodity throughout a lifetime. A faith-filled person can feel less certain at times than he or she does at others. Imagine the "faith-buster" the Holocaust could have been (and likely was) to Jews during WW II! "Where is God?!" was likely a common cry, as it was in the days when David was being pursued by King Saul with such a vengeance. When God seems silent and inactive, it's not easy to believe He's doing anything at all. But of course he is -- the earth is still spinning, day and night are taking their turns, the tides are ebbing and flowing, the stars are in their firmament. God's still here, working. Always. Sometimes it's just hard to imagine a loving, interactive God when people are treating other people like refuse, or dumb animals, or sport... or targets of their prejudice and wrath.
Another aspect of Jewish law is the edict against killing, hunting and other forms of violence. It's unthinkable that a Jew would be found enjoying a cockfight or a bull- or bear--baiting during the times in our cultures when such "sport" was considered "riveting entertainment." Kosher laws prevented the inhumane slaughter of the very few food animals Jews are allowed to eat. Even the ritual sacrificing of animals during the time of the Temple was carried out in a way that the animals didn't experience any trepidation or pain during the process. (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in many of today's packing houses, where "kosher" cattle are lifted by one hind leg using a mechanical lift and a chain, so the animals' throats can be slit and they won't fall to the ground and "contaminate" the meat.)
Here was a Middle Eastern culture as far removed from other cultures of that day and time as it could be. Here is a culture that continues to try to "tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the earth." And it seems that nearly everybody hates them!
Why? That, too, should be easy to figure out. They do, indeed, very much "seem" (even to the atheist and agnostic) to have a powerful God on their side -- a God who has intervened on their behalf for millennia and who they believe watches all of us and sees what we do to others (including what we do to His people, the Jews). The "eternal" presence of the Jew in the world, despite chronic all-out efforts to eradicate him, seems assured. Their survival always looks tenuous, always seems to be teetering, but... God is there and He will see them through... again... and again... and again. Because He promised He would and He doesn't lie!
There is so much more in the book. The nine questions asked and answered in the book are foundational to why the Jewish culture survives and thrives, and why it's so important that the Jewish people retain their unique identity in the world.
Q1: Can One Doubt the Existence of God and Still Be a Good Jew? (Read the entire explanation, not the wee bit I reported to you. It's fascinating!)
Q2: Why Do We Need Organized Religion or Jewish Laws -- Isn't It Enough to Be a Good Person?
Q3: If Judaism Is Supposed to Make People Better, How Do You Account for Unethical Religious Jews and for Ethical People Who Are Not Religious?
Q4: How Does Judaism Differ from Christianity, Marxism and Communism, and Humanism?
Q5: What Is the Jewish Role in the World?
Q6: Is There a Difference Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism?
Q7: Why Are There So Many Young Jews Alienated from Judaism and the Jewish People?
Q8:Why Shouldn't I Intermarry -- Doesn't Judaism Believe in Universal Brotherhood?
Q9: How Do I Start Practicing Judaism?
Think you know the answers? You'll be surprised by many of them!
I now understand the Jewish people and nation far better than I ever have before, and I plan to study even further. (The bibliography and suggested further readings, alone, are worth the price of the book!)
If you have some time this summer, check out this book!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Lord Almighty, I am so freaking proud of Barack Obama lately I can hardly sit still. He is coming across as SO Presidential (in a stirring, great way) as he crosses oceans and meets with other national leaders and folks. I'm busting my buttons. To have been on his team since day one and to see how he has blossomed over time is just inspiring. He's going to be a great President.
I'm praying he wins by a landslide and receives a mandate so that he and Congress will get on the same page and put America back on track.
Go, Barack, Go!
The news media has blown the banking situation so far out of proportion to reality that even strong banks are being inundated with panicked people wanting to move their money to other banks. So write down the following website address and rate your bank's stability right now so you can relax unless you see a problem with what you find there. Most banks are doing just fine, and will be doing fine far into the future. Period.
So take a coffee break, go to , http://www.bankrate.com/brm/safesound/ss_home.asp and check out the status of your bank. And if you have any doubts or concerns at all after visiting the site, visit your bank.
And remember: the media blows nearly everything at least a bit out of proportion. (They think frightening people gets them tuning in more reliably.) Take what it reports with a grain of salt.
Here's my response. (Please don't just copy and paste it when you respond. Unique letters are always best...)
Consumers are being gouged left and right in nearly every aspect of our lives right now; many families are at a breaking point and having to choose between having enough to eat or buying their prescriptions. Now the banking industry is thinking of treating customers the way it and others treated people wanting to buy a new home (predatory lending). At what point are we going to start living the Judeo-Christian ethic of treating our neighbors as ourselves and not gouging them every time they need to do business with us?
Shame, shame! What the banking industry is proposing is a disgrace. You know it and I know it. Bed mattresses are looking a lot better these days as far as "repositories for money" goes. Where will this end if people and businesses don't start treating each other according to tenets we learned as children in school, church and synagogue?
Consider me wildly opposed to what is being proposed, and sign me....
Kristine M Smith
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Okay, gang, now you know how to bathe a cat without getting massacred!
Monday, July 21, 2008
...I must share this YouTube video video with you, as someone shared it with me (tan her hide)...
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT EVER BUY A LION!
Remember, these boys/men had to give it up because it got too big and boisterous...
So enjoy vicariously, and be happy you don't have to have your heart broken when your "special pet" becomes unmanageable...
If it's a large wild animal (larger than a house cat) IT WILL!!!!
And P.S., it's all true. I checked it out at snopes.com. The older man in the video toward the end is George Adamson, who was married to Joy Adamson. Together, they wrote BORN FREE, their own account of returning a lion to the wilds in Africa who had been a pet. Her name was Elsa. BORN FREE, LIVING FREE, and FOREVER FREE are the three Adamson books about their lion experiences.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The blog just before this one was suggested as a writing exercise, so I "went for it," LIVE, on my blog, not even knowing where it would take me.
To carry out the exercise, I thought about the timeline of my life until 1967 and remembered the events -- personal and national -- that transpired. (From a childhood as a Shirley Temple-type "sparkler" to a painfully shy, almost catatonic ten year old because my parents inappropriately "corrected" me in a way that made me think there was something intrinsically wrong with a kid who "sparkled," non-stop, in all kinds of circumstances.)
It amazes me, from this vantage point, that I didn't figure out (as a kid) why I was alternately so afraid and so depressed. The world seemed to be spinning completely out of control, and no one seemed able (or willing) to either explain it or fix it.
And whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say, "A writer or comedienne..." and people would look at me as if I had three heads! This sad, timid, sometimes morose wallflower wanted to be OUT IN THE WORLD MAKING A BIG NOISE?! How could that be? And how impossible, besides!
It's absolutely no wonder I was such a mess. I wanted to be an entertainer and my parents had somehow made me feel ashamed of it.
And the very thought of having to fit in with the 9-to-5 crowd or with the stay-at-home, married-with-three-kids crowd -- most of whom seemed happy enough, back then -- depressed me even more. While I certainly honored everyone who could live and work in those realms, I didn't want to be married (I'd never seen a good marriage at that point, and haven't seen all that many since), or have kids, or be a teacher or a nurse or a bank teller. In fact, I couldn't find a single "normal" job -- in all the looking I did -- that I knew would satisfy the part of me that wanted (and wants) life to be "worth" all the trials and tribulations it takes to stay alive.
I just took a career test in a book called HOW'D YOU SCORE THAT GIG? The results pegged me exactly: creative/nurturer. Uh-huh. Yep. You got it.
Only thing is, most nurturers don't do well in the spotlight, and certainly very few nurturers aspire to a spotlight unless it's pretty certain that the additional attention will contribute significantly to their cause (e.g, Mother Teresa, ML King, Jr., Gandhi, even Jesus).
While I rarely seek out attention -- trained as I was to be "seen but not heard"-- I do surprisingly well on the rare occasions when I'm in the spotlight. That's owing to the native (undamaged, un-corrected) "sparkler" in me. She's as much a part of me as my red hair (or what used to be red hair) and blue eyes. She's the one who was born on March 5, 1951, before the world began to shape what she would think of herself for much of the rest of her life.
Perhaps this is simply a cautionary tale to parents: It's important to parent with an eye on WHO your child is at his or her core, rather than on what you want him or her to become. How many parents have given birth to a little stranger and, instead of watching what kind of personality would develop, and encouraging all the good that's in it, decided to raise a clone-kid: someone quiet and centered like us; or a jock like us, or a scholar like us, or a ...
Each child has a gift that can bless the world. God blesses each of us with a gift and with a passion for the gifting. He doesn't leave any of us out in this regard.
Allow your child's gift to develop by feeding the passion he or she has, not the passion you have for the child. There are no cookie-cutter kids and there are no clones (at least not yet in the human realm) (And even cloned animals don't behave exactly like their progenitor, because circumstances differ during the raising of a clone.)
The world is ready for the gift of your child, or God wouldn't have given him or her to you. Don't excitedly unwrap it and then decide to preempt the personality you find just because it doesn't look or act or think the way you do. You're a steward of that little bundle, not its Creator. God knows what He's doing. Trust Him.
Let your child grow into something amazing... unexpected... miraculous... and whole! No one should feel they've "missed out" on who they should have been. No one should feel like a fraud as a grown-up, or at any time.
I never realized, before writing the last post, how unutterably sad I would feel for that little sixteen year old girl, forty one years after the fact. She deserved better. She deserved someone who listened to her and gave her heart and her dreams some serious consideration and mountains of encouragement.
Oh, she eventually got what she needed -- from actors and writers who took her under their wings as a young adult. But had her mom and dad encouraged her as a kid, there's just no telling how much farther along she'd be today...
Believing in yourself is not just an inside job. People on the outside -- especially parents, teachers, grandparents, and other significant folks -- can make a huge difference in how soon the "Aha!" moment occurs and settles in with a child, sending him or her sallying forth, with unquenchable enthusiasm and desire, to claim what's waiting at the end of his or her rainbow... right where God placed it to be found by one special kid.
It's me -- Kris, your 57 year old self.
Don't panic. I know you're prone to that right now, with the world spinning out of control -- the way it always seems to be...
I just thought I'd let you know a few things:
You're going to survive being sixteen and "under the thumb" of two parents who are beginning to get on your nerves and who are looking less perfect by the day. They don't "get" you at all -- a wannabee writer -- so they try to modify your goals because they're pretty sure you'll starve to death otherwise: "It's a cruel world out there, you know!"
Ah yes, you know that already.
Your dad's drinking like a fish and your mom isn't sure what to do about it. All she knows is she has to do everything she can to keep you and your sisters out of harm's way and the ranch afloat. Both of them are doing the best they can -- yes, even your dad -- so cut them some slack. (You won't do this until years from now -- cut them slack -- but I feel I should say it to you anyway. You can thank me later.)
Already in your young life, you've been through the assassination of a beloved President, and (I hate to tell you this, knowing what it will do to you) there are two more political assassinations coming up next year, in 1968. All three of these senseless killings will underscore the point that life (and loving people) can really mangle your heart if you let them in...
Many of your older sister's male classmates are going off to Vietnam, as will the guys in your class when they get older. Your sister's thinking about burning down the ROTC building as a protest against the war (later she'll become an attorney and uphold laws of the land -- go figure!) and you've made it very clear to her that if it burns down, you will supply her name and her statement to the authorities. Not because you love the war, or because you hate your sister, but because, deep down, you're perfectly aware that burning down other people's property is no way to behave.
Your mom and dad are fighting because money is scarce and your dad spends too much time in the bar while she works in the fields, irrigating. The word "bankruptcy" has been bandied about but Dad has a plan to encourage traveling tourists to your property so they can save the place. The plan will fail, and there will be a bankruptcy... and years of travel while they return to their original business (construction and remodeling) and rebuild their lives ...
You've been depressed for a while and can't figure out why. What's happening around you doesn't seem to depress anyone else. It frustrates them, pisses them off, makes them less than fun to be around, but nobody's actually moping. You're the only one who seems to feel like you're in a deep, dark hole, looking up, reaching up, but there's nothing to grab hold of and no one reaching in to help you out...
I know you've been thinking it would be so easy to just pull the covers over your head and waste away to nothing... to die and be out of the troubles that surround you. You wouldn't dream of suicide -- that would upset your family too much, and they don't deserve that -- but just curling up and dying would be a blessing of sorts, you're thinking.
Let me tell you something, kiddo.
You'll get through it all. You'll learn perseverance from your mother, how NOT to "cope" (via drinking) from your father (a good example of a bad role model, in more ways than one)...
and you'll find mentors (Alpha Rossetti, DeForest Kelley, Ted Crail) who believe in you and your gift of communication to the nth degree...
and eventually, you'll even make it back to the Jesus you loved so as a wee one. (Remember how Grandma B always told you that "Jesus will come looking for you when you stray and will bring you back safe and sound"? He will!)
And you'll develop earthbound friends who become unrepeatable, irreplaceable treasures... and you'll tell stories of your childhood that need to be told... and you'll rekindle the optimism you had when you were born, before you knew that white people in America were turning police dogs loose on black people just for being black and seeking a better life... before a President and his brother were shot... and friends began going off to war.
It won't get a whole lot better "out there" in this crazy, sometimes psycho world for quite a while, and at times it will get even worse, but inside, where it counts, you'll develop ways to remain peaceful, loving and hopeful.
It'll happen. Don't give up now. You're just a kid. A kid with big dreams.
Never, ever lose them!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I've been "stuck inside a book" by Dan Kimball most of the day. Its title: "They Like Jesus But Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations."
I have a couple other books along the same lines: "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers! Why Is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?" by Dan Merchant and "Damage Control: How to Stop Making Jesus Look Bad," by Dean Merrill.
These are important books. Anyone who's interested in learning what to do -- and especially what NOT to do -- with our love of and passion for Christ needs to read them. And people who have a negative concept of Christians should also read them. In them, they'll meet Christians who offer a whole new perspective on what most Christians are really like. (Hint, hint: Most are nothing like the "talking head" Christians you see on LARRY KING LIVE occasionally, nor are they the disheveled "hellfire and damnation" street urchins you occasionally see on busy sidewalks. If they were, I certainly wouldn't be among 'em or espousing Christianity to anyone!)
Knowing what I know now, I would have started with "They Like Jesus But Not the Church." Dan Kimball has been a pastor for more than fifteen years. One day he set out on a quest to find out what the disconnect was between the gazillions of young people (teenagers to age 30 or so) who love Jesus (wearing images of him on their t-shirts, getting tattos of His face and/or crosses on their bodies, etc.) yet cannot (and resolutely will not) be found within miles of a church on Sundays -- or any other day.
Jesus is wildly popular as a cultural icon -- even Madonna (whose religion is Kabbalah, a sect of Judaism) and Mahatma Gandhi (who was Hindu but had a picture of Jesus over his desk) consider him a marvelous soul with fabulous values, virtues and validity.
Madonna: "I don't think there's anything wrong with the teachings of Jesus, but I am suspicious of organized religion."
Mahatma Gandhi: "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
Bill Maher: "I'm a big fan of Jesus. I'm not a big fan of those who work for him."
Woody Allen: "If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he wouldn't be able to stop throwing up."
Kimball's book is a wake-up call to the powers that be in churches across the land who feel okay that their pews are occupied mostly by middle-aged and elderly folks; those who think they're doing okay and holding their own; those who think nothing needs to change to carry the gospel another hundred years.
Young people adore Jesus, and say they want to be like him. But they are operating in a vacuum, largely bereft of biblical guidance because they don't want to be in a church building where they feel they have to rub shoulders with people who (they perceive) are intolerant of different perspectives and faiths, who judge others without remorse (sometimes who judge, in fact, with glee), who hate homosexuals, and on and on.
They love Jesus as a person. They know he loves them without limit, no matter what their ideologies, sexual orientations, or what-have-you. But they don't necessarily see in him anything beyond that. And they think that's plenty to see in him. (It would be plenty to see in most people.) To them, he's no "different" than the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Confucious, Buddha, and other spiritually enlightened souls who tread or have have trod the planet. (One major difference: Of the aforementioned guides who have died to date, only Jesus can boast an empty tomb!)
Do the young of today know that there is a difference between being worldly wise and spiritually discerning? Or what difference an empty tomb makes in their own, personal lives? Do they know how the reality of Jesus' resurrection and ascension can transform and transport them, not just after death but right now on this side of eternity?
Too many Christian "talking heads" seem so busy trying to influence politicians and voters -- and their own coffers -- that they have lost sight of the GOOD news: grace, peace, joy, patience, mercy... No one says, often enough on live, secular television, that we are living in days of grace and that the God of love is beckoning one and all to prepare for the day when he'll return and rekindle the type of relationship with him that he had in mind all along...
Christians are supposed to love God and love others. Most of the ones I know do. But you don't see them on television. Christians aren't usually depicted in the media in ways that lead others to think of us warmly or to appreciate the ambiance that so many millions of us bring to a planet bristling with warriors. (Granted, some Christians are also warriors, and we usually hear a lot more about them than we do our peacemakers, because "If it bleeds, it leads," in the realm of news coverage.)
Anyway, I don't want to get off on a tangent. I just encourage you to read the three books I mention above. If you're a Christian, it will be a real eye opener to see how unflattering the younger generation's (and other cultures') opinion of you is (unless you're out and about among them proving yourself to be so much different than they thought a Christian could be).
If you're a non-Christian, perhaps you'll discover so much about the Christian heart and about our passion for saving souls that it may endear us to you. Even if, in the end, you decide we're off our rockers, you'll discover that our hearts really are, for the most part, "in the right place."
For you see, we just want everyone to know about the saving grace of trust in the Lord so that you can never again be separated from the love of God, either now or in eternity.
Our cause is good. Our aim may be off... our words may be dopey... but our hearts, for the most part, are true blue. We feel certain that God wants to embrace you, because he has embraced us... and we're no better and no worse than anyone else.
God is crazy about us all. He'd just love to see the adoration returned and the passion between Him and all of us rekindled into a roaring fire.
But it takes two to have a dedicated, truly mutual romance -- you and Him!
He's been waiting for years for you to say, "Yes!"
I urge you to go for it.
You'll never be the same.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Dear Kristine M. Smith,
Thank you very much for your submission, we have published it and it can be found at this permanent link:
And it is also permanently listed in your author archive:
Please visit the Huffington Post site and sign up as a "fan" so my ratings will go up!
And... World Vision is interested in me again as a copywriter... and I may get a long-term gig as a copywriter via Elance in the next day or so...
Things are lookin' up!
Monday, July 14, 2008
If you haven't already seen the New Yorker cover (a satire showing the Obamas dressed in revolutionary ways and acting in ways expressing every kind of oddball "characterization" thrown against them by alarmist right-wingers) , you are not going to see it here, so please go to some other source to get it.
Both campaigns -- Obama and McCain -- have expressed disappointment and disdain concerning the cover. I'm not real happy about it, either. (In fact, I kinda want to scream!) But we live in America, and the New Yorker is making a very real point about "the politics of fear," with a cover graphic pretty much guaranteed to sell the current edition of the magazine! (And really, isn't that what it's all about with any publisher?)
The cover's only saving grace will be this one: IF such a satirical, controversial depiction of "all we fear about Obama as a relative unknown on the political scene" gets the fear-based voters to look inside the magazine for the articles about Obama, each of the characterizations shown on the cover will be utterly dissed and debunked -- and that's a good thing!
I'm the last person in America willing to draw the exact line on the right to free speech. I find the cover offensive, racist, and utterly without merit -- just as I find the characterizations of the Obamas that compelled the cartoonist to draw the image without merit...
The New Yorker cover image reflects a compilation of the often-repeated-yet-utterly-false characterizations of the Obamas which will need to be overcome during the course of the next several months. The inside story will help do that.
But the incendiary cover will survive and, sadly, may even prevail in the minds and hearts of a segment of the population -- cruelly enforcing an utterly false, hurtful image -- and possibly even causing a mentally ill person to take it upon him- or herself to "nip the matter in the bud" with some senseless act of violence.
THAT'S what scares me.
We live in a dangerous world. Images like the one on New Yorker Magazine this month make the world incrementally just that much more dangerous...
...and I so want to continue to enjoy peaceful, non-violent transfers of power in America.
On Saturday Phil, Wendy and Jackie built the "puppy pen" (I have to call it a puppy pen because Jackie's full-grown mutts are a mere sixth the size of my normal-sized cats), so her dogs have "acres and acres" (to their small minds) of running room (actually, about 300 square feet of running room). Part of the pen is beneath the roof of our wood shed, so they can be dry, warm and safe, or cold, wet and nuts should they prefer that during inclement Pacific NW weather. You just never know with doggies.
Jackie got the old garage cleaned out (tools and other stuff) so all that remains at her old place is some stuff in a shed -- Christmas and other holiday decorations, mostly. She'll finish that off next weekend.
Comcast came and did just about half of what we needed them to do, so we'll have to put in a call for the rest of it. The regular installer just works from outside walls, and we need cabling to two inside walls, so a special installer has to come out and charge us a fortune for the job. We're putting it off for now until we see what the rest of the projects are going to cost to make our new home right. We have some dry rot issues in a 4'x10' section of my half, which will require the gutting of my bathroom and kitchen area and the replacing of all the fixtures therein, while Jackie has a couple of dry rot spots beneath her kitchen sink and bathtub, so the contractor needs to get in there, too. She has decided that since he does, she may as well have her bathroom updated at the same time. "Leetle by leetle," we'll get it done.
Jackie has configured her living room in a way that makes her oak entertainment center obsolete, so she asked if I wanted it. At first I said no, but then agreed. My entertainment center looks fine but is made of particle board, I think; moving it twice caused one bottom edge to crumble. So last night I emptied mine and made way for it to be moved out next weekend (to a garage sale), so I can roll Jackie's in to take its place. Mine will find a new home. It cost $350 new; the crumbled spot is in the rear and doesn't show, and so it is far from "a piece of junk". Someone will love having it for a song...
My original reason for refusing Jackie's oak piece is that it has a humongous space in it to accommodate a large TV, and I have a much-smaller set. Then Jackie said I could have her 29" as well (which better fits the entertainment center), making it possible for me to put my set in the bedroom. (Not that I watch TV much at all, but I sometimes catch LARRY KING LIVE at 6 or at 9, so having a TV set in the bedroom will make it easier to watch it at 9 if I miss it at 6...)
I have a writing gig at Elance that may blossom into 30 hours a week at about $25/hour, so I'm hoping it pans out. It would be the perfect "foundation piece" for a real home-based copywriting business. Being able to forgo gasoline prices (no daily work commute) would be fabulous in this crazy economy.
Someone sent me a quasi-quote of Obama's: "We live in the greatest country in the world. Vote for me so I can change it," or something of the sort. It made me laugh, but it also ticked me off.
Barack does want to change some things, but he also believes in America -- to its core. Combining statements he has made and quoting them out of context makes him sound like a jerk.
I responded to the gentleman who sent it, "Please -- do your homework. This is a made-up construct by Obama-bashers. Please don't send me anything like it again until you first check it out at snopes.com. And don't send it to anyone else, either, unless you just enjoy being cruel and unfair."
He has sent me similar, erroneous Obama-related things before, and I have always referred him to snopes.com, since he won't even consider going to BarackObama.com, considering it "biased." But in my humble opinion, only a biased person won't go to BarackObama.com or JohnMcCain.com to elicit illuminating information "from the horse's mouth." That's what the websites are set up for -- so people can visit them and get the true stances of the candidates in black and white...
Don't know what else to say to folks who will take anything sent to them and forward it on as though it's been vetted and deemed accurate/true/verified. In this election season, everything said or written about a candidate is suspect. Everyone has a bone to pick -- and they don't even pick the bones they should -- they invent crap to confuse the matter!
It's a wonder democracy and America "work" at all, the way spin-meisters and other miscreants behave with facts, innuendo, gossip and churlish opinions. It's up to us, the voters, to be sure it continues to work... so PLEASE take your responsibility as an American voter seriously. Study the candidates and the issues.
There are very real differences and emphases between the two candidates this time. A choice must be made. Do your level best to discern which of the two candidates will best address the national and international climate facing us in the years ahead.
We won't all agree on WHO our next President should be but, at the very least, we should be able to agree that we did all we could, individually, to determine who we want to see standing there as a leader of the free world, influencing policy, carrying on conversations with allies and foes, and bringing us closer to the day when we can feel better about the world we live in...
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The following is mighty disheartening:
"The new poll suggests white voters continue to be a challenge for Obama, with McCain leading the Democrat in that category 48 to 36 percent. Some of Obama's lag in white support may be explained by continual confusion over his religious identity. Twelve percent of voters surveyed said that Obama was sworn in as a United States senator on a Qur'an, while 26 percent believe the Democratic candidate was raised as a Muslim and 39 percent believe he attended an Islamic school as a child growing up in Indonesia. None of these things is true. [Emphasis mine.]
Finally cracking the code with less-educated whites could have a big payoff for Obama: 85 percent of undecided voters are non-Hispanic whites and only 22 percent of those undecideds have a four-year college degree."
For the full NEWSWEEK report, you can visit this link:
Reports of Obama "flip-flopping" are simply ludicrous. I've followed this campaign (both sides, Dem and GOP) from the outset. Obama has not substantially changed his stance on any of the issues. How people can think he has surprises me. The spin-meisters, of course, are busy trying to make it seem so... and a lie repeated often enough seems true after a time.
If he seems a little more "center of the road" than in the past, that's just the growth spurt he has had during the course of the campaign. He still believes what he has always believed: that a change is needed in the nation so that every American family has opportunities and safeguards without respect to their income level, color or creed. He has adapted his message to reach the undecideds named in the article above, but he has in no way "flip-flopped" on any of what he believes.
He's still in there fighting the good fight. What surprises me most is that the people presently most wary of Obama have the most to gain from on Obama presidency. He has always been dedicated to standing up for the people who work their butts off in coal mines, factories, warehouses, and coffee shops. Charges that he's an elitist are pure bunk.
Please don't let the spin-meisters knock you off-track. Keep the faith. If we don't stand behind and support Obama, very little of what needs to be done (to recover from the past eight years of pathetic policy, and to turn the corner on corporate and lobbyist influence) will be done in the very crucial years immediately ahead of us.
Obama cannot stand alone. He'll only stand because the American people have had enough of the "trickle-down" theory. The trickle stopped a long time ago, if it ever was a viable theory at all. Now the middle class and poor are just being pissed on -- and those of us who are pissed off about it (in every economic category) must stand up and vote for the change it will take to turn it around.
I know politics is a dirty game, but the crap being spread about Obama has been pervasive enough to convince a lot of people that he's somehow "dangerous" -- and that is beyond dangerous! As I reiterated via the AARP article recently, it takes an educated public to discern between the truth and the fiction that's out there regarding the candidates.
Barack Obama is a patriot and has the interests of the American people at heart. He's not flip-flopping. So don't believe it, no matter how many times the opposition pundits declare it!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I've been looking in on The Root" quite frequently since stumbling upon it. It's very good! Lively, provocative, real, down-to-earth and profound in a lot of ways.
You might want to make it a favorite and check in on it a few times a week...
I think we need to cut Jesse Jackson some slack, though. He need not worry that he "missed out" on making history, in case he is concerned about that. He certainly made history for a very long time. He was in the civil rights fight when the going was rough and dangerous -- it took Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, him and many others to challenge the conscience of this nation and make us realize the disparity in the opportunities open to people because of their color.
I do think the time has passed for the politics of anger. I think Jesse Jackson's shortcoming was never his passion, but instead was his lack of compassion for the people who just didn't "get" what all the fuss was about (rednecks, bigots, racists). I have the same short fuse when it comes to bigotry, so I'm not picking on him. It is indeed hard to be patient while people "grow up" from racist upbringings and try out a new set of ideas. It takes generations, not weeks or years... That stinks, but it's the truth.
Jackson has been so focused on the "problem" (focusing on those who try to shut down African-American advancement in every way possible) that he forgot to look around and see how many African-Americans were and are going around the fuss being made and getting on with their lives... starting businesses... families... integrating neighborhoods and schools... making friends and partners and colleagues of many white folks...
Jackson, like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is still very, very angry. And he's earned that right. But it won't win him any elections this year. We're looking for peace and a sense of calm (to the degree that we can have it in this convulsing global environment) this year. Being angry is counter-productive. It creates a backlash, the opposite of what it hopes to achieve...
It may have taken a black man like Obama, raised mostly off the mainland (in Hawaii and the Philippines -- as it took Sidney Poitier in the entertainment industry earlier in the last century) to be able to transcend what the U.S. "white attitude" has been up until relatively recently regarding people of color.
I think that attitude is changing even as we speak and as younger people step in and start voting and making decisions. We've known for years that we needed to treat everyone the same way we want to be treated... but it has always been easier to just go with the flow and not rock the boat too much.
Those who rocked the boat paid for it -- mightily -- the past 100 years -- and more. White and black. (Let's not forget the whites who walked, fought and bled side-by-side with those who struggled in the south, and those in power who took the steps necessary to turn things around.)
Today it seems nearly everybody is a Freedom Rider, because it's easier now.
Back then, most of us just prayed...
But never forget: Jesse Jackson was there. On the balcony when Martin Luther King died -- and he has been at it every day since. I don't think he'd make a good President -- but he's a great American.
He doesn't need to apologize for being who he is. I hope he'll soon figure out that who he is, is quite enough.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
So Mr. Seven got deleted, as he expected to be. But not because I wanted to "silence" him. Not at all. I'd like him to try again.
If he'd like to read my earlier blogs re Obama -- and other folks who disagree with me but do so with love, respect, and a sense of fair play-- I will be happy to air his opinion. But not when it's offered as a bludgeon...
I thought Trek fans believed in "infinite diversity in infinite combinations." Guess not!!!
An appended notation from Alison Winter, after reading this entry:
"Take care - and GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By the way, my parents were both quite 'Socialist' in their outlook. I've never heard of someone being accused of being a socialist like it's a bad thing. I always thought it meant you supported equality and were against poverty. Just wondered why that guy used it as a dirty word...!
My response: Socal justice bothers some people, is my guess. Some people like seeing other people worse off than they are. I have never been that way. Glad you feel similarly...
Monday, July 7, 2008
At the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (the terminus of her week-long vacation), she tripped on a raised metal plate (designed to help luggage over a bump, which she didn't see) and came crashing down on both knees and her left elbow... HARD!!! Thank God she didn't break anything, but her knees and elbow looked (and felt, for days) devastated. Her elbow was "scalped"almost to the bone when she skidded forward on the rug.
The ow-ees have slowed her down, but haven't stopped her. She's been a whirling dervish for four days, getting her boxes unloaded or re-positioned. I've been helping, here and there, but for the most part it has been her responsibility because she needs to decide where to place everything, and beside, I'm pretty wiped out by all the moving and "placing" (in my half of the house) of all the stuff I had to get in here during the past week...
Our plumber/handyman Ray Fath is working his tail off on several projects, large and small. We found some unanticipated dry rot in a 4' x 8' area of my place, where the washer and dryer and my bathroom are/were, so we're looking into whatever recourse we have for getting money from the former owners to get those areas fixed, as they must be done...
Caveat emptor to those buying a home: Be absolutely certain that your home inspector is a skinny dude who can easily get into all crawl spaces (and follow him or her around to be sure s/he does, indeed, crawl into all crawl spaces and look). Our inspector didn't, and charged us $400 for a totally superficial, totally insufficient job.
IF he had done his job, there would be no questions we'd have negotiated a settlement with the former owners, to ensure they kicked some money for the dry rot issue. (My bathroom has to be totally torn out so the problems can be addressed from above, due to insufficient crawl space underneath the house.) Now we have to just hope the former owners are honorable people and will help us pay to correct the issue. There is no doubt they knew about the problem: in the crawl spaces, recent plumbing work (within the past five years) have been made, and they lived here for 22 years. It's just a matter or showing (via photos) that they didn't disclose to us what they knew to be issues about the place, as required by law. Our realtor is looking into what can be done... It'll cost close to $8K to fix the plumbing issues -- up from the $1,600 or so we originally thought it would cost (before Ray discovered the dry rot issues).
Nevertheless, we continue to love the place. It needs to be upgraded a little in some places -- Jackie wants an upgraded kitchen and bathroom at some point; I'll be happy with the many fewer things I want done. That can be done as time goes on; the plumbing and dry rot have to be addressed promptly.
Grand niece Lizzie and I went on our first bike ride from this location yesterday. We rode about four miles -- all the way down our road to where it dead ends, then back and down 104th Street over to Vickery, where we stopped by George and Sue Rebar's (Phil's in-laws) to say "howdy" and to let Sue try out my bike. (She wants to get one soon and I thought she should try mine, since I like it so well.) On our road there are rabbits, horses, a huge Guernsey bull, llamas, peacocks, goats... so it's a fascinating little trek on bikes!
Our new backyard has a gym set for the younger set, and the next door neighbors have two large brown/tawny Labrador/Chesapeake retrievers that love kids, so the girls have been over the fence to see them a lot already (at the invitation of the neighbor, a delightful and patient former schoolteacher), throwing sticks and playing tug-of-war with the dogs (Stanley and Bob).
I also have a hammock, purchased two or three years ago and rarely used. Well, it's being used now nearly non-stop! The girls and Ray's eleven year old son are in it a lot during the day with Jackie's wee dogs...
Archie and Ashley are settling in nicely. In another few days I'll be able to let them go out into the back yard and check it out. While Ray's here using saws and hammers, Ashley stays hidden, but as soon as it gets quiet again at day's end, he comes bounding out, wanting to inspect whatever changes have been made to our side of the home. He'll be fine soon.
Jackie returns to work tomorrow. I'm bidding on projects at Elance and World Vision is considering me again -- this time for a copywriting position, YAY! And I'm still in the running for the Orting Library position and for a City of Tacoma position, as far as I know...
That's about all for this time.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
My den and bedroom are in place. My living room is still stacked with about 15 boxes because until my mini-kitchen and cabinets are put in (next week or soon after), I have nowhere to put the stuff.
Jackie's kitchen, also, is in place. I hope she likes the way I set up her kitchen, but at least it's neat and tidy and she won't arrive from Maui at midnight tonight to a stack of 20 boxes! All three of her bedrooms are ready to complete, too. (They're all "organized" -- not put away, but the boxes and items are stacked against the walls so she can easily navigate as she puts together desks, tables, bunk beds, etc.) I wanted to do everything possible (that one person can do) in the time I had available during her seven day absence so that she didn't get home, walk in the door, and lose all the peace and serenity she has managed to procure while on vacation. Anything less than my best in this regard would have felt utterly negligent on my part. My sister is a work horse, day and night; the least I can do is try to make her work load a little less daunting!
The cats and dogs are settling in nicely. I've mowed the large yard -- half with a push mower and half with the riding lawnmower. (The riding lawnmower was inaccessible until I got a lot of stuff from the garage into Jackie's part of the house.) The riding lawnmower needs a tune-up in the worst way. It hiccuped and bucked and acted like an old man with emphysema the entire time. I had to go at a snail's pace to keep it from dying on me. I think it would have been faster to use the push mower, but the grass was so long that a push mower would have killed me... so I rode the mower slowly... slowly... slowly... It took forever.
Bobbie and Joel Bobstein sent me a home-made, computer-generated card that's cute as a button, along with a gift card for Lowe's, feeling sure I can put it to good use when it's time to order cabinets. Yup! Our realtor (Jackie's and mine) also gave us gift cards -- to Home Depot -- so we'll be grinning mightily (instead of scowling) when the time comes to go get the stuff we need to make this house into a warm, inviting home and sanctuary...
Sometime in August Jackie is going to throw a shindig to welcome friends to an "open house" at our new place. By then my half of the place should be in prime condition. (Hers already is, once things get put away.) It should be a lot of fun -- for her.
I am SO NOT a hostess or party-goer, but since it's at "our" place, I'm going to be in on the arrangements and "merriment." Jackie considers these types of events "fun." I consider them "semi-torture." Is it any wonder why we require separate living quarters?
Jackie loves a crowd -- the more, the merrier! I'm of the solitude and serenity sensibility: shy, retiring... hated my own birthday parties as a kid. I can do events -- I can function without looking too much like a deer caught in headlights... but believe me, "events" are not native to me. They are an acquired ability -- not a natural ability and nowhere near a passion. Rather, they make me want to hide under a rug...
...but all the rugs around here are tacked down (wall-to-wall carpeting), so I'll be stuck!
I'm already nervous about it.
But there will only be one... and I'll be a better person for it afterward, having faced my abject fear and sallied forth anyway! "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger..."