Friday, February 27, 2009

George Herbert

Today is the feast day of George Herbert, priest and poet. Oh, how I love him. Two of his poems are two of my very favorite hymns: The Call, and "King of Glory, King of Peace," which is the poem Praise (II).

But for today I particularly love the story that's in Lesser Feasts and Fasts' little bio, as follows:
He used to go once a week to Salisbury to hear Evening Prayer sung there in the cathedral. On one occasion he was late because he had met a man whose horse had fallen with a heavy load, and he stopped, took off his coat, and helped the man to unload the cart, get the horse back on its feet, and then reload the cart. His spontaneous generosity and good will won him the affection of his parishioners.
What I love about this is that it's such a small thing, and yet made such an impression and was so clearly remembered. It seems obvious, to help someone who's right in the middle of the road, but I can just imagine myself saying, "Oh, I'm late!" and hurrying by. It seems to me that George Herbert got the basic point of Jesus' message. The hymns are just a bonus.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Praying for Zimbabwe

I read today that at the recent meeting of Anglican Communion province leaders (aka "Primates Meeting"), the Primates (known to us as Presiding Bishops) called for "Anglican Churches world-wide observe 25th February, Ash Wednesday, as a day of prayer and solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe."

And they offered a helpful list of how to pray for Zimbabwe, which I offer to you:

Prayer from All Africa Conference of Churches

* Pray for the church in Zimbabwe that it takes its appropriate role in responding to the needs of the people.
* Pray for the formation of a government that will ensure delivery of services to the people of Zimbabwe.
* Pray that the food supplies reach the dying people in remote Zimbabwe and that there be enough food for everybody.
* Pray that medical supplies are made available to all areas of the country and save threatened life.
* Pray that there be unity, tolerance, love and mutual respect among all Zimbabweans regardless of political differences.
* Pray that the Lord may have mercy on Zimbabwe and give enough rains for a good harvest which will result in the restoration of human dignity, respect and recognition.
* Pray that Christians worldwide may be inspired by the Spirit to remain in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe until the end of crisis.
* Pray that the faith of Christians in Zimbabwe may be made stronger by their suffering so that in hope they retain their joy and commitment to Christ.
* Pray that the resources being extracted from Zimbabwe may benefit the whole nation including the poor rather than individuals.
* Pray that God may change the hearts of those who do not put the interests of the people but think of themselves as more important than others.
* Pray that the will of God may be done.

To which I would add,
* Pray for the victims of the cholera epidemic and their families.
* Pray for wisdom for the United States and other nations as they discern how best to associate with Zimbabwe diplomatically, economically, and politically.
* Pray for the power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that genuine cooperation will occur.

The more I think about Zimbabwe, the more I think, ay ay ay! I think ending with, "Pray that the will of God may be done" is a good idea.

Ash Wednesday: Dust

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites books of the Bible, which isn't saying a whole lot, actually, since I have a whole lot of favorites. I Kings is also among the favorites. But still, Ecclesiastes is way up there and doesn't get near enough play, imo.

Or credit. Because it's Ecclesiastes that gives us "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Here's Ecclesiastes 3:18-22
I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

If you ever want Biblical support for the notion that animals go to heaven when they die, here you go. Very aptly, the writer says, "Who knows?" And wisely reminds us that we are animals too. It's not just that humans are dust, but all living things are dust and all turn to dust again. An excellent reminder not to get too high and mighty about being human.

So often I think Lent is about trying to rise above our animal nature, fasting and self-denial and all that. I wonder if it might be a good idea for me to spend Lent remembering that I am an animal, that I need things like sleep and water and food and light and air in proper amounts. Not too much, but not too little either. I'll have to think about this some more; I haven't really thought this through yet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quote of the day: in praise of E.B. White

Got an email today from a friend whose mother is dying, saying, "Some days I dream of reading Strunk & White cover to cover. Now, that's leisure."

Here's a little E.B. White for those without leisure.


At eight of a hot morning, the cicada speaks his first piece. He says of the world: heat. At eleven of the same day, still singing, he has not changed his note but has enlarged his theme. He says of the morning: love. In the sultry middle of the afternoon, when the sadness of love and of heat has shaken him, his symphonic soul goes into the great movement and he says: death. But the thing isn't over. After supper he weaves heat, love, death into a final stanza, subtler and less brassy than the others. He has one last heroic monosyllable at his command. Life, he says, reminiscing. Life.

From Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976, edited by Rebecca M. Dale, which is absolutely excellent bathroom reading.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Oscars

I thought I was so smart. I thought, Hey, I'll set up this fancy-schmancy Dish network system to RECORD the Oscars so I can skip through all the boring bits! But the fancy-schmancy Dish network system assumed that the Oscar broadcast will end when it is scheduled to end and so I ended up missing both Kate Winslet and Sean Penn's speeches which, I am told by reliable sources, were some of the best bits of the evening.

I want to know why the Oscar telecast people feel the need to entertain us when the winners themselves provided all the most lovely moments: Dustin Lance Black's acceptance in which he told gay and lesbian watchers that God loves them; Philippe Petit balancing the statuette on his chin. In short: CUT THE PRODUCTION NUMBERS!

Obituary fanatic that I am, I always love the "Remembrance" section of the telecast and I thought it was DREADFUL this year. Why didn't they let the screen showing those who died fill the television screen? And though I absolutely adore Queen Latifah, I really didn't need to hear "I'll be seeing you." I would have liked more movie music and dialogue clips instead.

Oh, and Sofia Loren was scary as hell. But I think Meryl could probably take her in a fight.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quote of the day

In the cold, nearly colorless light of a New England winter, two men on horseback traveled the coast road below Boston, heading north.

The opening sentence of David McCullough's John Adams, a book refreshingly free of pictures. I started it yesterday after a reviving draught of murder in Emma Lathen's first John Putnam Thatcher mystery, Banking on Death. More on my reading proclivities and feebleness below.

I will never be Ian McEwan. Or finish one of his novels, frankly. I barely sat through the movie version of Atonement.

I’m a plot person. I told this to a friend of mine last night while we waited for our dinner sitting at the bar at Chevy’s. That’s just the kind of lowbrow I am, you see: I like a good plot, and I get my Mexican food at Chevy’s. My friend reassured me by telling me that she herself knows that any book nominated for the Booker prize is one she isn’t going to like.

I was reminded of Nick Hornby’s collection of book reviews, The Polysyllabic Spree (fabulous), in which he writes that not only could he not write one of these novels; he couldn’t be a character in one of these novels. My friend said that if she were a character in a novel of this certain kind of profundity, she would be looking at the collection of bottles behind the bar at Chevy’s, and the color of the glass would remind her of some remarkable event from her childhood. I had, in fact, been looking at the bottles earlier and wondering who ever thought to make orange vodka. We both brooded on our shallowness.

As we were leaving, I put my hand in my coat pocket and stabbed my finger on a thorn that had somehow gotten inside. A perfect example, I said to my friend, of what ought to be symbolic and invested with deep and profound meaning. She said, “Either that, or the napkin that is stuck to your shoe.” Just then a server flagged me down to let me know of my humiliation, the white tassel dragging dramatically behind my weather-beaten heel. Which was probably symbolic of something.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maybe I'm not crazy

And I guess I'm not alone either. I hope you will read this interview with Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo who has just published a book called Dead Aid. She's all about the microfinance and gives a nice plug for Kiva. I'm looking forward to checking out her book.


From the Times and in its entirety:

Socks, the White House cat during the Clinton administration, has died. He was about 18. Socks had lived with former President Bill Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Md., since he left office in early 2001. Ms. Currie confirmed Socks’s death and said she was “heartbroken.”
But why was Socks living with the secretary? Was Socks just a prop? A feline manque? Inquiring minds want to know!

The truth is, I'm sure Socks had a lovely life with Ms. Currie and that both were happier that way. It's just a strange thing that Socks is known as the Clinton's cat when clearly he was no such thing.


Or actually the Niwano Peace Prize. Thanks to the Lead, this morning I learned that the Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha won this prize, a prize specifically awarded for people of faith. Byamugisha was the first African cleric to announce publicly that he had HIV/AIDS. There's no word about it yet in the New Vision, the Ugandan daily, but you can read the full article here.

What I did find in the New Vision was an article from shortly before I left. I think I wrote about the three gay activists who crashed an HIV/AIDS summit. They were there to say the country needed to address the issues of homosexuality and AIDS. The article ends with this:

Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda, punishable by life imprisonment under the “unnatural offences” in section 140 of the penal code. [The activists were arrested.]

In his presentation during same the plenary session, renowned Ugandan AIDS activist, the Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, said that some governments were using AIDS to control people rather than using people to control the disease.

Byamugisha, representing people living with HIV/AIDS said: “Implementation is in chaos. we seem to have different agenda. To say that you cannot give me treatment because I have sex differently is beside the point. We are in implementation to save lives. Are we going to put conditions on who will survive and who will die?”

I look forward to hearing more about Byamugisha in the news.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The humiliations of youth never really die, do they?

I love Facebook. It's fun catching up with people I haven't seen in ages and probably won't see in ages. And then something like this happens. Someone finds and then scans in the class photo from 1982! Check out those Farrah Fawcett bangs! Or Shawn Cassidy, if you were a guy. And out of the woodwork, from all over Facebook, old classmates from middle school showed up to point and laugh and identify themselves or one another. I'm not telling you where I am. Oh, all right, I'm a teeny spot with glasses somewhere in there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watchmen review: SPOILER ALERT!

I'm going to try not to spoil the plot too much, but there's no way to write this without giving something away.

Just finished "Watchmen" this evening and, man, was the ending lousy or what? Up until then, I'd been intrigued to see where this was going, but the denouement was a huge letdown. MASSIVE DESTRUCTION! Followed by one of the superheroes saying, "Exposing this plot, we destroy any chance of peace, dooming earth to worse destruction." Oh, well, I guess we're done then. And then they go off their separate ways. The end.

The authors suggest doing something evil and destructive would ultimately have a unifying effect on the earth. Maybe they mean it only ironically. But how antithetical to the crucifixion is this statement from the superhero (one of the ones pictured above) who kills half of the people in New York City:

"I know people think me callous, but I've made myself feel every death. By day I imagine endless faces. By night...Well, I dream, about swimming towards a Never mind. It isn't significant. What's significant is that I know. I know I've struggled across the backs of murdered innocents to save humanity...but someone had to take the weight of that awful necessary crime."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Janani Luwum

Today is the feast day of Janani Luwum, which made me start. I remember walking on Luwum Road in Kampala a little over a year ago. I knew it was named for a Ugandan archbishop killed during Idi Amin's regime. I didn't realize that he had a feast day in our calendar. I'm glad to see him there, though. I can't imagine the kind of courage it would take to publicly criticize a regime as brutal as Amin's was.

It was strange, walking on Luwum Road, mostly because here in the U.S. I can't imagine having that same kind of history or place, a road named to commemorate a martyred bishop. God knows I want to keep it that way, but it was one of the times when I realized how incredibly different the Ugandan religious experience is from my own.

Here's the collect for today:
Almighty God, who gave to your servant Janani Luwum and his Companions boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
More about Archbishop Luwum here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the day

"You know, I am an eternal optimist," he said. "That doesn't mean I'm a sap."

President Obama, talking about bipartisan cooperation in Washington, as he traveled with a group of newspaper columnists on Air Force One last weekend. Quoted in a column by E.J. Dionne.

Faith in evolution

With the 200th birthday of Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, evolution is all over the news. Many of the articles I see seem to be about religion and evolution and how the two do or do not mix.

In particular, The Lead, a kind of round-up of religious news from an Episcopalian perspective, has posted four articles over the weekend about either evolution, Darwin, or reconciling religion and science. Of course, since Darwin's 200th birthday was last Thursday, that does make some sense. But still!

One of the most amazing to me was the report on a Gallup poll that "shows that only 39% of Americans say they "believe in the theory of evolution," while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don't have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity." Only 4 out of 10 American think evolution is real? And 36 percent DON'T HAVE AN OPINION?!

One of the things I found most intriguing in this, though, is that it's presented as "belief in." Because over the weekend, among the many articles I read or heard on the radio, I realized that I needed to have faith in evolution. I have faith in scientific evidence, in data, in the slow steady accumulation of knowledge, in the notion that scientists have nothing to gain from pulling a fast one on the general public. I don't know if I believe in evolution, but I accept it, based on my limited knowledge of the case. I realized that it does take a degree of trust in order to have faith in evolution. I'm not particularly more knowledgeable than those who don't accept evolution; I just have a different trust level - both in science and scientific theory, and in my religious faith's place in the face of it.

Which brings me to the second article that caught my eye, a beautiful piece from the Religious News Service which interviews Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori about her own scientific background.

Some favorite bits:

Jefferts Schori said her scientific training, not her gender, is more unique and pertinent to her current job.

“It’s been a long time since somebody trained in the way I have been has held an office in the church like this,” she said. “My way of looking at the world is shaped by my training as a scientist—to look carefully, and collect data and make hypotheses.”
“I think most of us are comfortable with our ways of seeing the world,” she said. “And if one lens works most of the time, why bother with a second one? It makes life harder in some sense because you have to wrestle with bigger questions.”
Jefferts Schori sometimes jokes that she’s still a “recovering scientist.” “I’m recovering in the sense of being somebody who grew up with a worldview that said science and religion are separate fields that couldn’t and shouldn’t talk to each other,” she said.

But now she says science and faith are now intimately entwined, partners in teaching the consequences of human action and the connections between all God’s creatures.

If you're interested, take a look at the whole thing. It's quite wonderful.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm a total sucker for a good llama story

And this one is lovely. I think everyone should get a llama honor guard at their funeral. Seriously. Wouldn't you want one? I would.

h/t Mad Priest

Running aimlessly

Two things from the lectionary readings this morning.

First of all, I love the story of Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army. I love the whole diplomatic aspect of it: kings sending letters back and forth, and the anxiety of the king of Israel over what happens if the Arameans gets riled?

I also love the importance of the servants throughout the story. It's the captured Israelite girl serving Naaman's wife who brings up the possibility of healing in Israel. It's Naaman's servants who give the practical advice, "Just bathe already" - again, very diplomatically. Elisha himself was not so diplomatic, but effective.

Which was stuck in my head when I heard the reading from Corinthians and Paul saying, "I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air." Didn't as much care for the "punishing my body" part of the reading, but you can't have everything.

I guess the thing that this makes me think about is, what is effective and what is mere aimless running about? In the readings today, we see that diplomacy can get you places and diplomacy can be very effective. But the goal of diplomacy is not the mere motions of diplomacy; it's to get something done. So often in the church (and in our national politics) I think we either mistake playing nicely with one another with diplomacy, or outright belligerence as effectiveness. But I don't think that is correct.

The question these readings make me ask is, What steps will help us get to the healing we want to achieve? Listening to powerless sources (or maybe rude ones), getting effective letters of introduction, taking simple steps, doing the necessary training. What is the actual goal? And what steps do we need to take to get there?

Saturday, February 14, 2009


On one of the blogs I regularly read, author and commenters alike often referred to a graphic novel, soon to be a movie, called "Watchmen." Huh, I said. Then there was a long and interesting article in the NY Times about the book, calling it "a seminal piece of popular culture." Huh, I said again. Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I reserved it at the library--where I was on a waiting list for one of six or so copies throughout the system. Huh, I said again, what is this thing? And then I visit Lorin's blog and doggone if she hasn't just finished reading Watchmen herself!

It finally got in this week and I finally started reading it yesterday and can I just say graphic novels are not an easy read? I went in thinking, "Oh, surely, you can just skim along," but no. I am finding that it required very different muscles from reading words alone. There's so much that has to be interpreted from the images themselves that it's rather slow going.

I took a picture of one page, copied below (well, duh).

Notice how alternating frames are blue and then orange? I said to myself, "Huh. I wonder why the alteranting frames are blue and then orange?" And then I thought, "There's a neon sign outside!" At least that's how I interpret the images.

You'll also notice that this is from the viewpoint of a person in a bed; you can see his hands above the sheets and his knees and feet under the sheets directly in front of him. I didn't even realize that's what was going on, that I was seeing this from that character's perspective, until I was writing this. It's also a flashback as he tells someone else about the visit of the other person you see in the frame. In the next to last frame, you see the visitor close up in the narrator's face. And then in the final frame of the page, you're in the present (the masked character is named Rorschach who was pumping the other character for this memory).

I'm not sure if I'll like the book or not ultimately. It's very violent, for one thing--graphic, indeed. But it's a much more intense reading experience than I expected. I don't know all the conventions yet--at all. I had no idea how much work this was going to take.

From the plane crash in Buffalo

Two of the obits in today's Times refer to people who died in the crash near Buffalo, both women, both quite extraordinary.

First, Beverly Eckert, returning home to celebrate what would have been her husband's 58th birthday and establish a scholarship in his name. Her husband, Sean Rooney, had died in the 9/11 attacks after which she became an advocate for families whose relatives had died.

The second, Alison Des Forges, was a historian who spent most of her time living in Rwanda. While there, she was "among a group of activists who investigated killings, kidnappings and other rights abuses of civilians in Rwanda from 1990 to 1993." In 1994, Dr. Des Forges is the person who called publicly for the massacre in Rwanda to be labeled a genocide.

Really extraordinary women. Unlike most obituaries, my response is to feel that their lives have been cut short and to wonder who will do their work now that they are gone. Such a sudden death. And such sadness. I pray for their families and friends and for the families of all who died on flight 3407.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Religious states

Guess which state is more religious: California or Colorado?

Colorado, as you might know, is home to Focus on the Family and a ton of religious organizations, many in Colorado Springs.

To my surprise, according to a recent Gallup Poll, California and Colorado are TIED when responders were asked "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" California, Colorado, and HAWAII all tied at 57 percent.

The highest response (at 85 percent) was in Mississippi, and the lowest, to my surprise, was Vermont (at 42 percent). California didn't even make the bottom 10, which strangely disappoints me. Of course, this does not specify what kind of religion; the religion that's important may be a whiff of spirituality, but still.

Here's a map with the breakdown:

Apparently, there's something about being in the northernmost corners of the country that makes Americans non-religious. What's that about?

And then there's Nevada. I guess working in the casinos takes all the religion out of a person.

I don't have any conclusions to draw; I just thought it was kind of interesting.

Incidentally, there's a related poll about which nations are the most religious, also very interesting. At the top of the list is...Egypt, at 100 percent!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This makes me nervous

I don't know if you heard amongst the headlines yesterday about the news in Zimbabwe. It got a brief paragraph mention on the News Hour and was referenced in the top of the hour report on NPR. But yesterday, Robert Mugabe swore in Morgan Tsvangirai (pronounced CHANG-er-eye) as Prime Minister with Mugabe still in power as president.

I just don't see how this can end well. Mugabe has proved himself over the course of 30 years to be a power-mad lunatic. And suddenly now things are going to be all right? I think the U.S. State Department is right to take a "wait and see" approach before lifting any sanctions. I mean, there's hope and then there's foolishness. Personally, I think I'm sticking to prayer right now. The NY Times article ends with this:

After the swearing-in ceremony, a veteran ZANU-PF official who belongs to the party’s politburo said of Mr. Tsvangirai, speaking on the understanding that he would not be quoted by name: “He will not last. I swear to you. We just want to buy time.”

Yeaaah. PM Tsvangirai had best be watching his back. I don't like this one little bit.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Even better quote of the day

“His color looked off — he looked pale and cold,” Mr. Steinberg said somberly.

From an article headlined (and I am not making this up), "Pedestrian Is Struck, Then Dragged 17 Miles." Must be read to be believed.

Quote of the day

Wednesday, which in retrospect John Putnam Thatcher was to date as the beginning of The Troubles, provided convincing demonstration of John Maynard Keynes's celebrated dictum about the power of ideas. It was unfortunate, in the light of subsequent events, that so many of those ideas were wrong.

From the absolutely delightful Emma Lathen mystery (as all of them are) "Death Shall Overcome," whose hero (if you don't know him), John Putnam Thatcher, is a Senior Vice President of the Sloan Guaranty Trust. Oh, I love him.

This quotation also seems germane to the current economic/political wrangle which I am watching with absolutely no comprehension whatsoever.

Update I must add another quote:

The targets of Richard Simpson's crusade were the most powerful stockbrokers, the most influential bankers, the most important lawyers in the world. Daily they made decisions that shaped the destinies of men and nations. Naturally, they disliked feeling helpless in the grip of forces bigger than they were. Wall Street was enraged--and surprised--to discover that there were bigger forces. And so, voices were raised with more heat than had been evoked since the nation went off the Gold Standard, and men in expensive tailoring raged with unwonted vigor.

Westminster Kennel Club results

Although I thought the Giant Schnauzer showed her little heart out and I would have given her the top prize, I have to give credit to the judge for naming a 10-year-old dog named Stump Best in Show. I would like to add that it was a pleasure to have Mary Carillo's wit, vivacity and humor as part of the color team. I think her intelligence allowed David Frei to shine as well. One of my favorite moments was when Mary parsed the announcer's description of one dog as "rambunctious" (or something like that). "Rambunctious...what does that mean exactly?" said Mary. "It means, 'hide your shoes'," said David.

Westminster comes at a wonderful time in the sporting year, too: after the Super Bowl and before March Madness. I mean, the dogs look the same year after year, but it's still so much fun to watch because you really never know who's going to take home the prize.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In sporting news...

...remember that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be on TV tonight and tomorrow. Keeper says you'd better go Cattle Dog '09.

Vague thoughts on vengeance

Last week in one of my NY Times obituary updates that I receive in my daily email, I noted the following brief item:

Names of the Dead
The Department of Defense has identified 4,231 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the death of the following American this week:

FERNANDEZ, Darrell L., 25, Specialist, Army; Truth or Consequences, N.M.; Fourth Infantry Division.

It made me wonder how many people had been killed in the original 9/11 attacks. Answers vary slightly, but the total number, including firefighters and foreign nationals working at the WTC, but minus the highjackers, is around 2,976 or 2,977. Something like that. So that whole avenging American lives lost? That worked well, then. And that doesn't include the 647 US casualties in Afghanistan or any other coalition forces (317 in Iraq, 422 in Afghanistan--all figures from, nor the servicemen and women who committed suicide after they returned home. "Truth or Consequences" indeed.

I'm sure the argument is that the sacrifice these troops are making is to keep more Americans safe in the long run. I just don't buy it. If you look at the numbers, they don't add up.

In other news this weekend, the Diocese of Fort Worth held a special convention to elect a provisional bishop since their former bishop, Jack Iker, has decamped for South America (in spirit if not in reality). It's been extremely traumatic for them, as you can imagine. I was very touched by a report from a blogger who attended and described the effect of the arrival of the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schorri.
As the procession entered the church, a woman turned and saw Katharine and burst into tears. Katharine stopped, put her hands on her shoulders and said, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.”

The Presiding Bishop's sermon was on dealing with rage. Among other things, she said that "Anger and rage and violence and retribution will not heal the hurt. The only thing that will is love." Which is rather standard, I know, but I also think it's true. And it makes me wonder how much we are still wounded from 9/11 because we reacted in violence and retribution. And how we can work on moving forward with love.

Blossom Dearie

I hope you all know Blossom Dearie, chanteuse extraordinaire, who died yesterday at the age of 82. She had this teeny-tiny voice, so sweet and so appropriate for someone with her name. That was her real name, incidentally, and some idiot promoter tried to convince her to take a stage name. But with a name like Blossom Dearie, what kind of stage name could take its place? She didn't need to be hip. She was just good at what she did.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Quote of the day

“He did exactly as I expected,” she said. “He lived in it for a day, then he ate it. Then he bit me.”

Sally Muir, co-author of “Pet Projects: The Animal Knits Bible” as reviewed in today's Times, speaking of the hamster house.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There's a good future in potato peelers

By request, and because it really is very cool, I bring your attention to Joe Ades who died on Sunday. He sold potato peelers on the street outside the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC. And had an Upper East Side apartment. He was "was a regular at expensive East Side restaurants, where no one believed his answer to the 'So what do you do?' question: 'I sell potato peelers on the street.'"

There's also a great profile of him in (wait for it!) Vanity Fair, thus fulfilling their potato peeler seller profile quote for the century, I imagine. But, you know, there's a lot of money in it, apparently, and an opening now, so if you're looking for work, you might want to consider it.

Here's a quick view of his spiel. Much more on YouTube if you've got a lot of time to kill.

Millard Fuller

I learned this morning that Millard Fuller died. He's the man who founded Habitat for Humanity and you can learn more about him here.

I admire the Habitat model that includes the beneficiaries in the process. They help build the house and they also contribute financially. But they pay no interest. Habitat, Heifer, and microlending I think all have in common this sense that the poor don't need to be pitied or exploited, and that help doesn't mean I'll take care of everything for you. Instead there are ways to work towards solutions together. I think that's the way to go.

Another bus

And here was my own submission to the bus parade.

Monday, February 2, 2009

More lovely parodies of things that annoy me

Remember that bus that proclaimed there's probably no God? Now there's a Bus Slogan Generator! MadPriest is running a bus slogan competition on his blog "Of Course I Could Be Wrong" and far cleverer people than I are coming up with slogans that make me very happy. This is my personal favorite:

You can find more here. Or create your own!

Quote of the Day

If you knew the first fricking thing about football, you'd take any of these former and current QB's over Roethlisberger for the final drive of the 4th quarter to lead your time down the field for a touchdown to win the game.

Commenter JK at 3:16 on a Super Bowl Open Thread blog. He got a bit of a drubbing later after Roethlisberger took the Steelers for a final drive of the 4th quarter to a game-winning touchdown. Man, that was a great game.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

No easy answers

I very much appreciated this post on the website talking about how Save Darfur and other organizations of that kind can't accomplish what their slogans say. "Often it seems Darfur activists are raising expectations they can never hope to meet. Any organization which claims it can save Darfur is courting hubris, at the least. At the end of the day, Darfur - and Sudan - have to save themselves."

If there's one thing I brought home with me from Uganda, it was an understanding that there was much I did not understand and that solutions were not all that simple. Also a huge mistrust of 'doing good' in the sense of going in and making it all better. But I haven't yet been able to articulate all of that, and this small entry does help.