August 2008


I admit it.  I am a genuinely undecided voter.  Now that is not to say that I don’t lean in a certain direction, cause I do.  Problem is that I find myself on a political teeter totter, jotting from one side to the next with every youtube montage that I see.  (my real question is why don’t some of the great youtube videos ever make it on tv?)

So in light of this weeks Democratic National Convention I will highlight what I feel is my defining question for each the candidates.  So this week it is John McCain’s turn.  And I have a great youtube that epitomizes my question.

My question is this.  Is John McCain too hawkish?  Does John McCain like war too much?  Will he stomp out evil wherever it pops up and by doing that inflict greater evils on the countries and the greater world that we are meant to be liberating?  Or maybe even the greater questions is, does the world need liberating?  And if it does, to whose definition of liberation shall we be wed to?

So get your popcorn and soda, kick back and watch this short clip…  Tell me your thoughts.

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I have decided that I need some structure to this wet noodle of a blog.  So today is officially coined Mantra Monday.  Radio stations have the quippy Free Song Friday’s, Drive at 5, so now I will have Mantra Monday.

Now mantra may scare some.  Let’s go to the good ole Websters to see what mantra means.

1.A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.

2. A commonly repeated word or phrase:

Well, the first definition sounds like it comes straight out of a Harry Potter novel or Lord of the Rings.  I can see Saurmon with eyes rolled in the back of his head, his slender tenderals of fingers gliding over the Palantir (crystal ball for those non-LOTR fans) and repeating some mantra of sorts to bring all sorts of evil and vice into the world of the Fellowship of the Ring.  I think this magical view of mantra is what may cause some to take pause.  Thus I would like to move to the 2nd definition to help to provide a better working definition of mantra.

My view of mantra is likely more of the 2nd definition.  A commonly repeated word or phrase.  Something repeated until it is stamped into my pysche.  Repeat it until you get it.  Not get it in my mind, but get it deep within me.  So deep that it becomes part of me.  Part of who I am, part of why I act.

So with that…

Here is today’s.  It comes from John Dominic Crossan’s book The Essential Jesus.

“Enter the Kingdom

Become a Child


Become a Child

Enter the Kingdom”

Itunes mix has a great way of being a spiritual pin wheel.  Playing whatever song it’s random generating machine software tells it to.  Funny how sometimes a song will cut right to the heart of where I am.

This morning my it was Keep the Faith by Bon Jovi and boy does it describe where I am at this morning.

Mother mother tell your children
That their time has just begun
I have suffered for my anger
There are wars that can’t be won

Father father please believe me
I am laying down my guns
I am broken like an arrow
Forgive me
Forgive your wayward son

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, mother)
Everybody needs somebody to leave
(please believe me)
Everybody’s b**ching
’cause they can’t get enough
And it’s hard to hold on
When there’s no one to lean on

Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Tell me baby when I hurt you
Do you keep it all inside
Do you tell me all’s forgiven
And just hide behind your pride

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, father)
Everybody needs somebody to leave
(please don’t leave me)
Everybody’s bleeding
’cause the times are tough
Well it’s hard to be strong
When there’s no one to dream on

Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
No, you know it’s never too late
Right now we got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Oh-oh you got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith ) x 2

(Solo)

I’ve been walking in the footsteps
Of society’s lies
I don’t like what I see no more
Sometimes I wish that I was blind
Sometimes I wait forever

To stand out in the rain
So no one sees me cryin’
Trying to wash away the pain
Mother father

There’s things I’ve done I can’t erase
Every night we fall from grace
It’s hard with the world in yours face
Trying to hold on, trying to hold on

Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to keep the faith
Faith: now it’s not too late
Try to hold on, trying to hold on
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Everbody keeps the faith

I was reading Will Durant’s book The Life of Greece.  I came across an arresting quote that reflects to me some of the themes we are seeing in America today.  Some of the statements are eerie and could be taken out of any newspaper today.

“We have tried to show that the essential cause of the Roman conquest of Greece was the disintegration of Greek civilization from within.  No great nation is ever conquered until it has destroyed itself. Deforestation and the abuse of the soil, the depletion of precious metals, the migration of trade routes, the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties, the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population, the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops, the human and physical waste of fratricidal war, the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevolutions.”

Sounds eerily familiar?  I would like to numerate the above and provide the modern day equivalent for today in the civilization of America.

1. “Deforestation and abuse of the soil”

WHEN SOIL GOES “MONO”

Nowadays, however, many farmers do things differently. They practice monoculture, planting the same crop year after year. Doing so may help the farmer survive economically, but it takes a heavy toll on the soil. Soil degradation may result.

Without natural ways of replenishing soil nutrients, farmers grow increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers can increase crop yields, but they affect the soil food web. Over time, the microorganisms become depleted and soil loses its vitality and is no longer full of life.

Something else happens too. Lacking microbes to create tiny waterways and organic matter that binds soil together, the soil becomes less porous, and more water runs off the surface. So some farmers need to use more irrigation water for their crops.

Problem is, irrigated land is often prone to salinization. Unlike rainwater, irrigation water contains salts and leaves salt deposits behind when it evaporates. The amount of salt that is left on the soil may be modest at first, but it builds. Once the land becomes too salty, growing anything on it is almost impossible. Ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia disappeared in large part because their farmland contained too much salt.

2.  “the depletion of precious metals”

Off shore drilling.  See Restoring Eden for an active campaign.

3. “the migration of trade routes”

Need we all recognize that China is stepping forward as one of the world’s main trading partners and globalization is taking America from being the center stage of trade.

4. “the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties”

Political Disorder: Partisan politics, right wing vs left wing, christian fundamentalism vs liberal media, disorder is everywhere.

Corruption: Larry Craig and bathroom shenanigans, Oval office trysts, Exxon, corporate backscratching and cover ups to keep the financial system the right side up with the rich getting richer.

Dynasties: The Bushes, The Clintons, The New York Yankees.  All names that bring a sour, been there done that look.

5. “the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population”

Did you know Americans have lost 2.84 trillion dollars in equity.  That is $2,840,000,000.00 in lost money.  This will likely result in more unscrupulous behavior, more shady business practices and more cut throat capitalism to gain back some of that lost equity.  More than we know morals and money are very closely linked.

6. “the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops”

Now this one is easy… can anyone say Blackwater.  Modern day mercenaries who are not responsible to any governing authority or discipline.  Interesting.

7. “the human and physical waste of fratricidal war”

Now I am not going to talk about the current wars, but rather focus on the other invisible wars that exist in our civilization.  Drug war, sex trade war, child abuse war.  These wars are real, are happening in our cities and are sucking the life out of us.

8. “the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevoltions”

Ability today is still hamstrung by race, religion, sex and politics.

SO THERE WE HAVE IT.

The American kingdom is not much different than that of ancient Greece.  And the simple question is…

Anyone ready for a new Kingdom?  And a new King?  I sure am…

So I always have on my bookshelf a number of books that I am reading, halfway read, or want to read. Unfortuantely life and making bread for my family gets in the way of my reading and so my bookshelf of unreads and half-reads continues to grow. But lately there are a few books that I have not gotten that have tickled my curiosity. This has led me to several late night purusals of amazon.com hoping beyond hope that there may be some crazy good deals out there.

Again, I have not read any of these books, but I will share why they stir me.

1. The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty by Albert Hsu

With more and more Christians flooding into the suburbans I am really intrigued at the culture of the suburbs. We often think of ‘downtown culture’ and ‘farm way of life’ but I think it is entirely honest to think that there is a suburban culture. One that keeps us seperate, individualistic and apart.

2. Jesus for President: By Shane Claiborne

Well this one is obvious. With the partisan political climate that we are in today and with the avalanche of ugliness that is about to descend on the current Obama and McCain campaigns. (no matter if both have promised to play nice. Playing nice and politics is like asking a Nascar driver to race without a steering wheel.) But what if Jesus were President. What would that look like? What would be important to Him? This is one of the books that I am afraid to read.

3. Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling: By Andy Crouch

This title titliates me. Rather than be conformed by the culture around me, I am called to actually make a culture. Now I once was an avid fan of Age of Empires in which you would make an entire civilazation around a culture. You would actually make your own culture. Great for the imagination and computer, but not a real reality for life. Unless… maybe we are called to make culture instead of conform to the culture around us.

4. The Sacrament of the Present Moment: By Jean Pierre de Caussade

My wife has read this book and she found it utterly life transforming. So that is enough impetus for me to get this one. She really has been formed by this book. Especially having gone throught the cancer scare recently with her thyroid.

A good book is like a good seed. Once planted it brings forth much fruit. I look forward to reading these. Any other good book recommendations out there? Any must reads?