Tuesday, January 26, 2010

french burqa ban closer to law

this remains a bad idea. however many valid reasons a government might find for restricting the freedoms of individuals--and there are valid reasons, most involving identification--the practice remains unethical. states should not determine what individuals can't wear any more than what they must wear. once one state determines that for certain reasons its citizens must not wear something (like a burqa) it can't morally argue against another state determining that its citizens must wear something (like a burqa).

Friday, January 22, 2010

eat the fat & drink sweet wine!

it was my turn yesterday to open class with worship and I did so with a short service that included the above video. the assignment was to do a mashup with reference to lectionary readings for the week and I chose a particularly pleasant line from nehemiah. I love its admonition to enjoy and chose related quotes from scriptures from non-Xian faiths to make the point that every faith has a component recognizing our pleasure. this is what religion means to me: delight.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

wake up, it's MLK day!

I remember waking up on that first day in 1986. the radio came on and it was tuned to WDST out of woodstock and eric ericson, the overnight dj who made everything right, was saying, "wake up, wake up, welcome to the first MLK day!" it was an astonishing thing in those days to have a day devoted to a secular saint who hadn't been a president. martin's life was as messy and controversial as anyone could wish, and it's a further testament to the messiness life is that the president who signed the law proclaiming the existence of an MLK day should be ronald reagan. I'm a sucker for this sort of day: 24 years on, I still watch the televised concerts and readings and the parades and programs. I never tire of "I have a dream," it still sends chills along my back. the man may have cheated on his wife, may have been a plagiarist, may have knocked down little kids and taken their candy, his voice and what he inspired are the legacies to which the rest of us can only aspire. am I a member of the cult of personality that's grown around martin? yes I am, and proudly so. he was a man like any other and overcame his own pettiness and became someone admirable. you have to believe in something or someone bigger than yourself or you go crazy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

worship video for class/haiti

out on the rim we're well aware of what's happening in the bigger picture, sometimes to a greater degree than people up closer to it. this is a video that serves two ends. for my media, culture and worship class I needed to create a mashup incorporating a Xian lectionary reading for this week, and it is my visual contemplation of a question posed by a friend of mine on fb: where is god in the earthquake in haiti? she's presupposing the traditional Xian allpowerful all good god, for which there isn't a satisfactory answer. but I think, like anne lamott, god is a verb rather than a noun, and god is what we do with one another. thus, when the music shifts, the pictures shift, not to a prelapsarian state but to a state of people being with one another.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


helen thomas asks a question a number of us have been asking for years. oliver roy gives a thoughtful answer, and makes me wonder about the use of his answer for trying to understand the spate of school shootings in the last 20 years. a number of kids, many of them boys but some girls, feel isolated and secluded even while they're hyper plugged in, maybe because they are, and want to feel like they're affecting someone or something. I felt much the same when I was younger; I think most of us have to some extent. then, in the words of jackson browne, "the people who finally can't take anymore...pick up a gun or a brick or a stone." the narrative roy is referring to, applied to american youth, runs more to the personal suffering individual--rather than the global suffering ummah--desperately trying to evoke a response from the huge, faceless whatever.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


out here on the rim I listen to a lot of james mcmurtry, and this line out of "levelland" encapsulates much of what I'm worried about by getting more and more involved with the seemingly unending flood of technology I've opened myself up to. I read an interesting reflection that bemoans the author's memory of doing more before she joined up with twitter and blogger and started bookmarking things and that's a concern I share. I've always been about the doing--part of the reason I'm on the rim--and I've already noticed a tendency by me to sit here and read the intertubes. like the author, I've learned a lot more and had my intellectual experience broadened, but I've also been less likely to venture outside when it's cold--at least partly due to my aging but I also don't need to go to the library as often--or dark or too hot, and I haven't felt the itch to jump in the car and go somewhere I haven't been before like I used to. may be age. may be I get too much electronic humanity.

Friday, January 8, 2010


out here on the rim, we don't see a whole lot of burqas. I've had a number of enburqa'd students in the Citites (although none of them have been veiled, but I've spoken with some in passing and admit it can be disconcerting--none of the cues we're used to) and it's not a very frightening sight. the fear of the unknown takes a lot of forms and for one to be afraid because one can't see all of someone else is understandable. but one's fear is no reason someone else ought to change her peaceful behavior.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


out here on the rim, when it's cold like this there's not much to do beyond read and drink. drinking is easy. surfing the intertubes comes close enough to reading to qualify, but for real sport it's the good old fashioned solid material that cuts best. the latest issue of newsweek arrived yesterday, or it may have been monday, and the writer I first spend time with is lisa miller.

her religion column this week (www.newsweek.com/id/228722) ends with a blanket statement that I think encapsulates a whole range of thinking, not only of the homeworship pre- and postmillenials she's writing about, but of most everyone born in the past 50 years: "they're yearning for a church that's more homemade." my experience both as a seeker and a religious leader has been that ity's some sense of the real that turns people on, even more than routine or veracity. when I was eating with the krishnas, our conversations didn't revolve around the truth as much as around the authentic.

the questioners of brad roberts' "god shuffled his feet" (http://espanol.video.yahoo.com/watch/2853050/v2152554) aren't looking for absolution or ultimate truth. they're asking what their experience is going to be like and will it be anything like what they're already familiar with. that seems to be what we respond to best, the sincere and the real. if not ultimate reality, then the closest we can understand to it. for most people, the homey is the most familiar and the center of our lives: it's here we're anchored. that's why dorothy wants to go back to kansas and charlie pride wants to leave detroit city.