Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Since I posted their faces I guess I should have a follow-up. I watched most of the rally. It was silly, light-hearted and I think every one of the estimated 250,000 people on the mall in Washington DC had smiles plastered on their faces the entire time. No one looked scared.

I was excited when Stewart introduced the former Cat Stevens (now a Muslim named Yusef) and he began singing "Peace Train", after a verse or so he was interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne singing "Crazy Train" and finally he was interrupted by The O'Jays singing "Love Train". The mere diversity of music and people was enough to make the point that this is what America is.

Stewart became somewhat serious at the end of the rally, singling out the media for magnifying minor differences instead of what binds people together.

"If we amplify everything ,we hear nothing."
He went on to say:

"We hear every damn day how fragile this country is. It's a shame we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don't is here (meaning Washington DC) or on cable TV. But Americans don't live here or on cable TV. Where we live, our values, our principals form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quotes for Election Time

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd Us President

In reality, conservatives and liberals need each other: Conservatives maintain many lines that should never be crossed, while liberals destroy many lines that never should have existed.

Let history show that conservatives have held the line against those who would allow pornography and sexually destructive forms of behavior to pervade the nation. They have been the countervailing influence that has preserved the best of our free enterprise system against dangerous socialist tendencies, and they are the ones who have worked hard to ensure that non-sectarian religion remains a significant ingredient in public discourse.

But before conservatives get too proud about being the flying buttresses that have kept the great American traditions from collapsing, they should consider that liberals led the campaign to give women the right to vote, and were also the primary advocates for civil rights legislation. Liberals were the ones who challenged long-established racial and gender lines that had made many Americans into second-class citizens . . . neither end of the political spectrum has a corner on the will of God.

Tony Campolo
from the book "Red Letter Christians"

If a house is divided among itself, that house cannot stand.
Mark 3:25

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am a teacher. He is a research scientist. He likes to make wine. I like to drink it. Here's the 2010 batch in process.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Walking Away From Church

"Walking away from church" is the title of an article in yesterday's L.A. Times by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell. Here are some quotes from the article:

The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it.

Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation - roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

So why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.

Just as this generation moved left on most social issues - above all homosexuality - many prominent religious leaders moved to the right, using the issue of same-sex marriage to mobilize electoral support for conservative Republicans. In the short run this tactic worked to increase GOP turnout, but the subsequent backlash undermined sympathy for religion among many young moderates and progressives. Increasingly young people saw religion as intolerant, hypocritical, judgmental and homophobic. If being religious entailed political conservatism, they concluded, religion was not for them.

I have seen this first hand. Something to think about.
To read the whole article click here:,0,6283320.story

Saturday, October 16, 2010


There has been a lot of press about bullying lately. Children in school are bullied to the point of despair - especially gay children. We have all read the stories. A local high school has had four suicides recently. Children and teenagers don't have enough perspective on life to realize that it can ever get better, or that life will go on after high school.

Where do children learn to hate those who are different? If you watch very young children at play they rarely even notice differences in each other. It is learned somewhere. There are churches that profess to be Christian - which means they follow the teachings of Jesus - who preach that gay people are evil, sinful, unworthy. Jesus certainly never taught that, but if there are children in that church, what message have they received? We all know that Jesus taught us to love each other, and our enemies. In Matthew 22:5 he says, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subjected to judgment."

If those children hear political discussions at home against gay marriage they have received the message that there are people out there who are less valuable than they are - otherwise why would they not be deserving of the same rights?

Dan Savage is a popular writer, columnist and blogger. He is gay and has started a campaign called, "It gets better". Many Hollywood stars have come on board with messages to gay teens that life does get better. His column this week (you can read it in Scene magazine) included a letter from a professing Christian who disagreed with Dan's previous thoughts on how many Christians encourage bullying by their beliefs.

He wrote,"The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged and disordered and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack at the ballot box, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners". Gay and lesbian children."

A final point: What do you call politians who waste millions of dollars of advertising by name-calling, mud-slinging, outright lies and half-truths against their opponents. I call them BULLIES. When will we reject this type of advertising? Why is anyone sponsoring it? Personally I am insulted every time I see one because these ads assume that we are gullible and stupid if they think we would blindly accept their ridiculous accusations. I am in favor of outlawing ads that mention the opposing candidates and only refer to what that person intends to do if elected. But, of course, that will never happen, because this is America and we love free speech. I don't believe ANY of them anymore. But children are looking and listening. These so-called public servants are teaching them how to be bullies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day, a internationally observed civil awareness day for coming out and discussion about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. It is observed by the members of the LGBT communities and their supporters (often referred to as allies)on October 11 every year.

I am an ally. I have known and loved a number of gay people. I always believed that it is not a choice. One dear friend looked me in the eye and said, "No one would choose to be gay" and I believed him. There have always been gay people and there always will be. Nearly all scientific studies have found that same-sex attraction is not chosen. Yet, in America we continue to discriminate against and deny rights to gay people - our fellow citizens.

I have been reading a book by Tony Campolo - a renown and leading evangelist for the past several decades. His book "Red Letter Christians" discusses Christian views on current topics. "Red letter" refers to the words of Jesus, often highlighted in red in many bibles - the words that are so often ignored by Christians in favor of misinterpreting a few sentences in the Old Testament instead of heeding the new covenant that Jesus brought by his life and example here on earth.

The following are some quotes from "Red Letter Christians."

Most people agree when it is asserted by homosexual rights groups that if gays and lesbians pay taxes, they should have all the same rights as the rest of us. Right now, gay couples are denied some of these basic rights.

The US government Accountability Office cites 1,138 rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples that presently are denied to homosexual couples.

Almost 10,000 young men and women have been thrown out of the American armed services since this policy hwas put in place.(2008 data).

24 foreign nations, including Israel, Great Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

Justice for gays and lesbians should be on the political front burner for Red Letter Christians on election day because it is impossible to tell people we love them if we deny them the basic rights we enjoy. And loving people - all people - is clearly preached in the red letters of the Bible. (See Matt.22:37-39

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy, they will sing before the Lord.
Psalm 96:12

Oh, how they are singing on this glorious October day. It's 10-10-10!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is it "1984"?

Last night on the national news there were two stories that made me wonder if we're going to be living in Oceania in George Orwell's "1984". One was a mayor in California that has outlawed drive-throughs in any business in the city because he has decided that people are lazy and don't walk enough. I don't know about you but I don't imagine that getting out of your car and walking 17 steps into McDonald's to buy your Big Mac and large fries is going to do a lot of good. Remember being a lone mom or dad with two toddlers in car seats? Wouldn't you still like the option of driving through to get a few McNuggets to give a teething child?

Well, at least we can still order the food we want - or can we? The second story was about the fact that McDonald's is about to make a policy that Happy Meals will no longer come with a toy unless there is a salad or fruit in the meal. I guess that one won't kill anyone, but come on - taking away the choice of what to feed your child and let them have a toy at the same time? I suspect many parents will be buying TWO Happy Meals - one with a toy and then the one without.

Don't get me wrong, being a teacher in an elementary school where the majority of children qualify for free breakfasts and lunches - I am the first one to say we need to offer them much healthier food - not Pop-Tarts and sugar-laden muffins for breakfast and pizza for lunch. But they are children and we try to teach good healthy habits. The stories above are making decisions for adults. Is "Big Brother" going to censor our every move in the name of health.

I think just about every American knows how to be healthy. We all know what a healthy diet is, and we know we should exercise, but I doubt that we will make those choices because of efforts in that direction by government officials or large corporations.

Education and options are important in this free society, but micromanaging American citizens lives ? Not so much. I never go to McDonald's so it doesn't matter to me - but I'm just saying :)....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Julie Andrews

Yesterday on NPR I heard that it was Julie Andrews' 75th birthday and I smiled. Julie was my childhood idol. I loved her in Mary Poppins and then - THEN! - on my 10th birthday I saw "The Sound of Music" and it has been my favorite movie ever since (and that's a long time). Somewhere in the bottom of an old trunk probably lies a large envelope full of every photograph of her from every movie magazine in the 60's that I could find. I still think Julie is beautiful, immensely talented and the epitome of eloquence and grace. I wanted to BE her - and I still do :)
Her 2008 memoir called "Home" is much more than the usual celebrity list of anecdotes. It is a fascinating and touching memoir of her life right up until her big break in Mary Poppins. I do hope she writes another one and tells us the rest of the story as only she can.

In 2003 I had the amazing opportunity to go to Salzburg Austria on a choir tour.(That's me in Salzburg in the photo.) I had the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve anticipating the chance to walk where Julie walked during the filming of "The Sound of Music". I knew the places and the songs by heart. It was just as glorious as I imagined and of course, being in Europe, it still looked exactly the same as it did in the 1965 movie. I climbed the same steps that they sang "Do-Re'Mi" on and stood by the fountain where she sang "I Have Confidence". (There's a video somewhere of me at the front of the tour bus leading a rendition of "Do-Re-Me" too.)

I don't really believe in celebrity worship, but Julie... well, that's different.