Sunday, August 31, 2008

God and Rain

You may have heard of this already. It is Stuart Shepherd of Focus on the Family. Although he is joking here in asking followers to pray for rain to drench the Democrats in Invesco Field last Thursday, I think the comments look even more ironic (or moronic) in light of Hurricane Gustav's path toward New Orleans.

I do request that you pray for the people on the Gulf Coast. I have family in New Orleans. Another Katrina would be a disaster that may destroy the city forever.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

John McCain's VP

The whole political world was shocked yesterday by John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his vice-presidential running mate. Many journalists are touting this as a "hail Mary," indicating that it is a sign that the McCain campaign is getting a bit desperate and felt like they needed to shake things up a bit. Certainly, it does give his campaign a certain buzz as they head into their convention next week in Minneapolis.

The next week should tell us a lot about how well Palin's pick is going to play. I suspect that Hurricane Gustav is going to steal a good bit of the Republican thunder next week, even if they delay their convention for a few days. Palin's pick will probably get lost in the shuffle.

For whatever it is worth, here are a few of my observations about Palin. (1) Democrats better not become complacent and celebrate too early about her lack of experience. Remember, George H.W. Bush won with Dan Quayle, who has got to go down as one of the worst VP picks ever. And, remember that in 1988 Dukakis came out of the Democratic Convention with a double-digit lead. The Democrats have a lot of energy right now but they need to continue to push back against the McCain onslaught.

(2) As the journalists begin digging into her background in Alaska, already they are finding some interesting things. See this article for some information about what the two leading newspapers in Alaska have to say about Palin:

She is currently involved in a political scandal and under investigation by the Alaska state legislature for misuse of her office. Evidently, she tried to have her brother-in-law fired from the state police. He and her sister are going through a bitter divorce right now. Palin is being investigated for firing the director of the state police for his refusal to fire Palin's brother-in-law. This scandal will probably dog her throughout the fall election season. Also, according to the article above, her popularity in Alaska is falling rapidly in the midst of the scandal.

(3) Her nomination is being touted as an attempt to win over disaffected Hillary voters. I suppose this is the most sleazy thing about the whole choice by McCain to go with Palin. It is almost as if the McCain campaign said to itself, "Let's find a woman for the ticket. Hillary's voters want to vote for a woman and they will flock to her." Do they not realize that women think for themselves? Do they honestly view women as being so stupid as to not be able to recognize that the only thing that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have in common is their gender? They agree on none of the issues of this election. Hillary is a moderate-to-progressive Democratic icon. Palin is a newcomer to the political scene that is the darling of the far right of the Republican Party. She is an NRA member, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and believes that "creationism" should be taught in the public schools. I suspect that Hillary will campaign even harder for Obama because of this pick.

(4) The pick of Sarah Palin takes away McCain's most effective argument against Obama, namely, the claim that he is not ready and experienced enough to be president. Palin, with less than two years as governor of a state that has the population of the city of Fort Worth, Texas and before that the mayor of a town in Alaska with less than 10,000 people is woefully unprepared to occupy the oval office in the event of an emergency.

(5) Finally, if the McCain camp wanted to select a woman for the ticket (which I do applaud), is this the very best qualified female in the Republican Party for a 72 year-old presidential candidate who has battled melanoma twice? What about Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas? What about Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina? How about Condie Rice? Perhaps if he wanted to go after moderates and independents, he could have selected Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey. All of these women are light years ahead of Palin in experience.

It is said that the most important decision that a presidential candidate makes is his/her choice of a running mate. From that choice the voting public can get a good glimpse of the candidate's judgment on important decisions. You decide for yourself. Which candidate, Obama or McCain, made the best running mate decision? This was a bold move. It certainly shook up the race. How effective it will be remains to be seen

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Beanstalk Library

I just returned this afternoon from a weekend retreat with my faculty colleagues at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell. It was a wonderful weekend. We got a tremendous amount of work done in two very productive meetings Friday night and Saturday morning. We brought our families with us down there which made the time Saturday afternoon and evening especially great. We closed out the weekend with a short devotional time on the beach this morning.

On the way home, I plugged in my iPod and listened to an album by a group called "The Beanstalk Library." The leader of the group is a young man named Ryan Walker. He is the son of a good friend of mine, Brent Walker, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C.

I want to recommend the "The Beanstalk Library" to you. Their first album (the one I listened to) is called "America at Night." One song in particular that I really like on the album is "Fog Over My Mind." The Beanstalk Library has good variation with their music blending the best sounds of pop, rock and country in their music. The lyrics to their songs also engage your mind, a trait I always look for in good music. The best songs for me leaving me asking "What do they mean to say with this song?"

Give them a listen. You can find "America at Night" on iTunes or in your local music store. You can check out the band's website here:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Picture Says It All!

Is McCain truly the "maverick?" Or has he joined himself at the hip with George Bush in order to retain the right wing base of the Republican Party?

I don't know the event from which this picture was taken. But, it sure is telling!

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Way

I found this on a blog written by Gordon Atkinson called:

I was so touched by it, I thought it worth sharing. Take a moment to relax and read.

The Way of Things
The way governments and businesses treat people. The way people unload their anger on the innocent. The way slick talkers get ahead and the way good people lose in the end.
The way those who believe in God can be so angry. The way people use religion to leverage power. The way spiritual things dry up and become hard and ruined. The way our best intentions still bring pain.
The way bad people take pleasure in the suffering of others. The way good people run out of energy and are consumed by apathy. The way we lose hope because everything is so big. The way innocence leaves the young and cynicism seizes the elderly.
The way the earth bleeds when you cut it. The way mothers protect their children and the way fathers respect that power. The way weeds hold the land when nothing else can. The way tender seedlings shatter concrete and water wears away stone.
The way you can follow beauty to the molecular level and still not find its source. The way all things young are tender and beloved. The way an artist pulls on your heartstrings and the way saints can make you believe again. The way the human face conveys a thousand nuanced emotions.
The way a clean baby smells and the way her feet feel. The way we laugh at everything, even the sad things. The way women cry so easily. The way men try to be strong then burst into tears. The way children trust everyone until we teach them not to.
The way everything big and small, everything physical and emotional, everything that really matters is always falling toward a center of gravity.
And the way that terrible falling to the center tickles your stomach and makes you grieve but also laugh and be so glad that you were a part of it all.