Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Albanys Calling

I'm off early tomorrow morning to fly to New York and see my sister and her hubs. And also my other sister. And her boy Zach. And my cousin Jillian. And her new puppy. And perhaps most exciting of all ... to meet the new man in my life.

I'm flying Delta this time. Let's hope this trip goes a little smoother than my last one with Northwest.

I'm bringing my computer so I'm planning to post from there, but just in case we're too busy seeing Royal Crown Revue, playing Settlers of Cattan, picking fresh fruit (a NY tradition) and sailing on Zach's boat

... that's where I'll be.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Did you know there is a food crisis going on?

If you didn't, it's okay. We're pretty insulated from suffering here. I was happily ignorant of it until a month ago when I started my new job. Now it's my responsibility to understand what's going on.

And it's breaking my heart.

If you are brave enough, let it break yours too.

Here is what the crisis looks like in Ethiopia.

Do something.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I realize posting something like this is asking for a debate. But it moved me enough to post it anyway. I've never read a better explanation of why we should end the war in Iraq.

Support Your Troops
(This was written by Shane Claiborne after coming home from Iraq on a Christian peacemaking team.)
On the way home from the airport after returning from Baghdad, we passed a billboard that read: "God bless America and Our Military." Coming home has been a culture shock to say the least. The billboard has haunted me.

As the justification for this war progressed, the "logic" became increasingly difficult to follow as the "War on Terror" lost its steam having such weak evidence of Saddam's link to Osama or even the possibility of his regime's connection to Sept. 11. So the language moved to that of "disarming the weapons of mass destruction," only to find the unlikely presence of those weapons or the embarrassing truth that most likely Saddam got the weapons from the US. Now the language has become one of liberation (or as I say, counterfeit liberation for our team in Baghdad has told us of the graves being dug outside the children's hospital, and of their greatest fear that Americans will have seen the celebration of a few hundred Iraqi's on TV and think that this is the spirit of the 5 million folks in Baghdad who are solemn, angry, and skeptical).

What has become strikingly clear is that the strategy for hooking the US public support into the war is the extravagant deployment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers into the region. Public opinion immediately changed when they had a direct link to the conflict. The war now had a face (and the media has done their work of hiding the true Iraqi faces). People are no longer able to think theologically or intellectually or even rationally about the war, because their children are there and that trumps any other processing.

But the price of this tactic where people (many of them marginalized youth from neighborhoods like mine who see no other way to college but by joining the military) is so high, immeasurable, human beings becoming political currency. Not only is the cost in terms of the dozens of dead US soldiers and thousands of slaughtered Iraqis, but there is also a price for those who survive the war, who live in the ethos of the false celebration of redemptive violence . I now say: "I am not only against the war because I love the Iraqi people. I am against the war because I love the American people." "Successful" wars do not make for a safer world. Let's us look at the products of "successful" war.

One of the fruits of the 1991 Gulf War is a decorated US Army veteran named Timothy McVeigh. He wrote home from the war to his family and told them he felt like he was turning from a human being into "an animal... because day after day it gets easier to kill." And then he came home, horrified, crazy... the worst domestic terrorist we have ever seen. His essays cry out against the hypocrisy of the United States accusing Iraq of stockpiling weapons when we have stockpiled the same weapons for over 40 years, scorning the inconsistency of our government's outrage at Saddam's attack on Kurdish civilians after we killed 150,000 civilians in the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing. He saw through the lies he had been told. McVeigh wrote this: "Do people think that government workers in Iraq are any less human than those in Oklahoma City? Do they think that Iraqis don't have families who will grieve and mourn the loss of their loved ones? Do people believe that the killing of foreigners is somehow different than the killing of Americans? When a US plane or cruise missile is used to bring destruction to a foreign people, this nations rewards the bombers with applause and praise. What a convenient way to absolve these killers of any responsibility for the destruction they leave in their wake. Whether you wish to admit it or not, when you approve, morally, of the bombing of foreign targets by the US military you are approving of acts morally equivalent to the bombing of Oklahoma City."

No doubt his mind had been brutally deranged by being taught the way of war... so he bombed Oklahoma City in hopes that complacent Americans who numbly watch war from their TVs could see what "collateral damage" looks like and cry out against "collateral damage" everywhere. Instead, the same government that taught him to kill, kills him to show that killing is wrong. - Dear God, liberate us from the logic of redemptive violence.

The only victor in war is violence. If this liberation is successful then violence is the hero, for it was only brought about by incredible bloodshed (I'd be glad to show you my pictures or tell you my nightmares). Every time our government chooses to use military force to bring about change in the world, they once again teach our children the myth of redemptive violence, that violence can be a instrument for good. This is precisely the logic we are trying to rid ourselves of, especially here in the inner city. My outcry against this war is rooted in my desperate love for the kids in my North Philly neighborhood. One of them had a girlfriend who was stabbed, and he ran down our street yelling I am declaring "war on that terrorist." War infects us. We begin to believe that violence can bring peace, in our world, in our neighborhoods, in our homes.

Martin Luther King says that he continually taught rejected, angry urban youth that violence and weapons would not solve their problems, but came to realize: "I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government." When I got home, the kids on my block had decorated the street with sidewalk chalk that read: "NO WAR - Forever." Therein lies our hope.

Dear God may we cry out to gangs and militaries, lay down your guns... may we pray with Isaiah that all soldiers and gangsters beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more, discover the path of the prophets. May Jesus be the Way, the Truth, the Life in our world of Shortcuts, Propaganda, and Death.

The Christians in Baghdad gave me so much hope in the Church. One day I told some of our Reborn Family that I was surprised to find so many Christians in Iraq and they laughed saying, "We were the first Christians, this is the land of your ancestors." I felt ashamed of my ignorance as I stood on the edge of the Euphrates. In our arrogance we act as though we birthed Christianity in America, when in reality we have perverted and domesticated it. As one Bishop inquired about the American Church's ambivalence to the war, I tried to explain that many Christians were not sure how they felt about the war, and some even saw it as liberation. He could not even conceive of people who followed Jesus believing that this war could bring peace. He just looked me in the eyes and said puzzled, "Then how can they be 'Christians'?" I could only weep with him. The words of one Iraqi mother echo through my soul, "What has happened to your Christianity in America? What has happened to your God of Love and your Prince of Peace?" In this age, many US Christians have let go of the cross to take hold of the flag. In fact, if you were to burn the cross people would stare at you, but if you were to burn the flag people would kill you.

I pray that we would once again dare to follow the Way of the Cross. As we instinctively pick up our swords like Peter, I pray we would heed Christ's warning, "All who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Mt. 26:52). Even before Pilate, the executed Jesus marks his Kingdom and his followers, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were my servants would fight" (John 18:36). Lover Jesus, we will trust in the way of the cross, even as the world calls us foolish. We will teach our children that it is more courageous to love their enemies than to kill them. We will teach our kids that there is something worth dying for, but there is nothing worth killing for. We will teach them that violence cannot bring peace, hatred cannot drive out hatred, and darkness cannot pierce darkness. We will support our troops by beating swords into plowshares with them. We will support our troops by providing sanctuary for them when they are Reborn, and pledge the Allegiance that runs deeper than nationalism.

May we continue to enact the Way of the Cross in our world, the way of Pre-Emptive Peace. I truly believe we are in a new era where we are not polarized into the traditional camps, of "Just War Christians" and "Pacifists" in the Church, of "Activists" and "Patriotic-Americans" in the larger society. We are discovering the "third way" of Jesus, a new paradigm, and many new people of conscience are bypassing the unspoken and exclusive rites of passage many of us have created "within the movement". Everywhere I go there are people who may not get arrested doing CD every month, but they are quitely mourning this war and whispering, "This way of solving problems is just not right."

War might seem to work for the powerful, just as robbing a bank might seem to work for the poor - but there is a better Way that leads to life. Nearly the whole world cried out against this war, and the incredible thing is that I believe that outcry was rooted in the understanding that Saddam Hussein is a wicked tyrrant and that there is better way to free a household from an abusive father than by burning down the house. I believe this global groaning for peace will only grow stronger, Perhaps in the days to come we will be able to dream the dream of the Other Superpower, the Beloved Community. And in the days to come every war will be an attack on an entire People crying out for peace. One of the hospital mangagers put it like this: "Violence is for those who have lost their imagination. Has America lost its imagination?"

One more sidenote...
There are so many alternatives to this war, and while it is important to get practical, I cannot explore these in detail here, but much of the world is dreaming together (I will be speaking to part of the UN next week). These alternatives, like the International Criminal Court (which the US opposed, because we would also be held accountable to the court) could provide an orderly structure to charge criminals like Osama and Saddam (and others I will not name!) without violating international law by imposing things like war and sanctions (For instance, Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City but we did not start an embargo to starve his family, or begin bombing his neighborhood.) But for these to work it will take great humility from the United States, the humility that comes with the recognition that we are only 5% of the world's population and that if we want to hold criminals and oppressors accountable, our international criminals and oppressors in powerful places will also be accountable to the international body. Domestically we claim to believe in democracy and justice. Do we have the courage to believe in global democracy? It is not that nonviolence has been tried and failed, but nonviolence has never been tried with as much passion and risk and money as war. Until the peacemakers have as much courage for peace as the warmakers have for war... nothing will ever change.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mile High Memories

Yesterday was a day full of sun and music. John busted out some way old stuff. Both he and Ingrid Michaelson were amazing. I've seen John play three times now and been blown away every time. [Vince, you should go.]

Here's a little taste of the day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now You Are Smarter

It's Friday. I seem to be suffering from a sudden onset of ADD so I thought I'd spread the love. I have no idea how many of these are actually true, but if you can verify any of them, I'd love to know.

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet.

A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories a hour.

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off.

(Honey, I'm home. What the...?!)

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It's like a human jumping the length of a football field.

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds.

(What could be so tasty on the bottom of a pond?)

Some lions mate over 50 times a day.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people.

(If you're ambidextrous, do you split the difference?)

Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.
(Okay, so that would be a good thing.)

A cat's urine glows under a black light.
(I wonder who was paid to figure that out?)

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
(I know some people like that.)

Starfish have no brains.
(I know some people like that too.)

Polar bears are left-handed.

(If they switch, they'll live a lot longer.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Mom

It's my mom's birthday today.

She and I have always shared a special connection. I don't know if it has something to do with me being the oldest child or first daughter or if it's something more ... supernatural. All I know is that my mom and I share a bond like I have with no one else.

I first noticed this when I was at college (in Michigan) and she was here in Colorado, and we had bad days on the same day. I'm not kidding. It sounds weird even now as I write it, but it's the truth. We were connected.

My mom is a math genius. I breezed through algebra, geometry and calculus thanks to her. Okay maybe I didn't "breeze" through. But she was always willing to help me out when I needed it. She would stay up late helping me study for a test even though she got up at 4am.

She also has a gift for learning languages. She's learned (at one time or another) French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Greek. I'm sure there are others that aren't listed here.

My mom makes the BEST chocolate sauce ever. She makes it from scratch. She loves chocolate. And she spread that chocolate infatuation to her family. Vanilla is for weenies.

When we play games with Mom, we have to bring our A Game. Because it's VERY difficult to beat her. At anything. But it's fun to try.

My mom made us each a "tote bag" for our looooong road trips to NY. She actually sewed the bags. Then she'd fill them with special treats, new games, books and other things to keep up occupied for the hours on the road.

On the road trips, it was always mom who was noticing and appreciating God's creation. Remember, guys? "Hey kids, look at that beautiful blade of grass!"

My mom always laughs when we tell "your mom" jokes. She cracks us up with her "mom-isms." "Get in the way high," "clear a path," and "for cryin' in the beebop" were all invented by my mom.

She is the most devoted, determined person I know. We never, ever doubted for one second that her family is her number one priority.

I couldn't ask for more in a mom.

Happy birthday, Mom!
I love you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back to the Deep End

I owe you an apology.

My blog has gotten pretty lame lately. No really ... it has. I was reading through some of my posts from last year and most of them had a lot more substance than what I've published recently. So to you, my faithful readers (however many of you remain) I'm sorry for the shallow waters.

You want to go deep? Here's what's on my heart these days. I've been a Christian for over 20 years and I still haven't figured out how to hear God. It's really difficult to feel like I'm following God's direction when I can't hear Him. Frustrating, actually.

I know people hear the voice of God in all sorts of different ways.

Sometimes (but very rarely) it's an audible voice. My mom actually had this experience once. I think it was much more common for God to communicate this way a long time ago, though. I've never heard "a voice."

Many people hear God speak through his Word. I've had certain parts of Scripture that convict me or challenge me, but when I'm seeking God's direction about a particular thing, I always feel as if I find verses that could apply to my situation, I am really just making them fit my situation. Like it's me wanting God to be saying something to me. You know what I mean?

I've also heard that God speaks through prayer. Which could be true. But as much as I struggle with consistency in my prayer life, I hope He doesn't solely rely on that method to speak to me. Otherwise I've probably missed some pretty important stuff. When I sense the Holy Spirit saying something to me, there's usually an accompanying question of whether that's actually my voice trying to validate what I want.

I know God speaks through other people. I often seek the counsel of others. But I have to take everything that's said with a grain of salt because I know that because another person is involved, there's always some of them in what they say.

Also, here's another thing. I know the devil often confuses things further. He plays on my doubts. Sometimes he imitates the voice of God. Or plants seeds of doubt about what God has spoken.

God is, well ... God. He's big and powerful and in control of everything. He could tell me something clearly if He wanted to. Sometimes I wish He would choose to speak to me this way. Or at the very least, confirm my small steps of faith with some obvious sign. I realize this takes the "faith" part out of the journey, but some sign that I'm walking down the right path would be nice.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wise Words

"You can only be loved to the extent that you are known."

Great quote.
I stole it from Skip who stole it from someone else.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hollywood Called

They want their accessories back.

I always laugh at those celebrities who wear humongous sunglasses. The Olsen twins are notorious for it. Even though my sister-in-law swears by them, I think they look stupid. (Sorry Valeen.) I understand that when your personal life is in the spotlight 24/7, you probably feel the need to hide and huge sunglasses give you that feeling of invisibility. But seriously? Glasses that go from your hairline to your mouth just look ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

WALL*E and Mika

Tonight I went to see WALL*E. I'd read several blogs and reviews about this movie and everything I'd read was good, so although I didn't know much about it, I shelled out the $8.75.

Ummm ... hmmm.

Maybe I didn't get it. I mean, I got it loud and clear. The message couldn't have been more overstated. We are a fat, lazy, wasteful culture trashing our planet. I realize the movie is supposed to be an exaggeration, but even for Hollywood it seemed very overdone.

What I didn't get is why everyone loved this movie so much.

I'm a communications person. I'm definitely a dialogue girl and this movie had very little of that. I'll admit ... it was pretty amazing how much they communicated without anyone talking. I can appreciate that. But I think the dialogue-packed Gilmore Girls is more my style.

Have any of you seen this movie? Maybe you can help me appreciate it. And help me not feel like I wasted nine bucks.

On a more positive pop culture note:

I just recently stumbled across Mika. If you're a Queen fan, you'll probably love this CD. It's like Euro-pop. Very fun.

Makes me want to dance.