The Stranger

The stranger takes a wrong turn in the maze of corridors in the basement of the library. He hears voices ahead and rounds the corner to find a room full of people engaged in a discussion. The stranger takes a seat and asks what everyone is talking about down here. It's a book discussion group on David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest someone tells him. The group is on its third reading of the book and they're pretty far along -- more than 700 pages in, somewhere late in the Year of … [Read more...]

Reagan’s Bind (again)

It is often the case in life that we find ourselves misled, thinking we know something we don't actually know. We may be misinformed, misled, deluded, ideologically blinded, confused by ambiguities or complexities -- whatever the cause it happens to us all. It's part of what it means to be human. We may act on this mistaken information, or we may pass it on to others. Later, we may have to face the consequences of our misguided actions and, when the truth arises, the consequences of … [Read more...]

It happens every winter (part 3)

LIHEAP -- the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program -- seems like it should be a natural for President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism." The federal program provides financial assistance for poor households to allow them to pay their heating bills during the winter. "Financial assistance for poor households" may not seem like a high priority for President Bush, but consider the ultimate destiny of this money. It simply allows households who otherwise … [Read more...]

Cheetohs of Mass Destruction

Kevin Drum has a nice rundown of the Bush administration's incredible shrinking claims about Iraq's alleged weapons and the lack thereof: March 2003: Weapons of mass destruction. June 2003: Weapons of mass destruction programs. October 2003: Weapons of mass destruction-related programs. January 2004: Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities. I've mentioned this before, but this reminds me of the Cheetoh-factor, in which every additional adjective makes the noun in … [Read more...]

Evangelism as Hospitality

"Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13 Fuller seminary's J. Dudley Woodberry makes a distinction between "proselytizing" and what he calls "gracious evangelism." This distinction seems etymologically valid. To "proselytize" is to create converts. To evangelize is to share the evangel -- the "good news." Proselytizing has acquired new legal baggage in recent years, which is one reason for Woodberry to distance himself from the term. Now that … [Read more...]

IRD and the CEPAD Affair

Via the Sideshow I read Dave Neiwert's detailed analysis of the right-wing funding behind groups like the Institute on Religion and Democracy. So IRD has resurfaced and reinvented itself yet again, this time around hoping to ride the media wave of the backlash against the consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop. IRD has a history that ought not to be forgotten. It's most disastrous accomplishment came in the mid-1980s, when Dianne Knippers -- now the group's president -- … [Read more...]

Uncivil unions (part 2)

A few years after I got married in an Episcopal Church in Newtown Square, Pa., some friends of mine tied the knot just a few miles down the road at a Unitarian Church here in Media. They also weren't able to secure a marriage license, but the minister wasn't bothered by that bit of Caesar's paperwork. The ceremony was consecrated by the minister in the name of God and blessed by the congregation. No one present felt the wedding or the marriage was in any way less valid, less … [Read more...]

Uncivil union

In 1969, a small mission hospital in Tennessee burned down and all of its records were lost. As a result my ex-wife, who was born in that hospital, did not have a birth certificate until she was 23 years old. This created an unforeseen problem at St. Albans (Episcopal) Church, where our wedding date was fast approaching in the summer of 1991. It seems that while it is quite possible to be born without a birth certificate, you need one in order to get a marriage license. And without a marriage … [Read more...]