Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schaivo RIP

I'm glad it's all over for her. . .

Now for the fall out . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Upcoming U.S./American Saints Attractions

I like to speculate. So there . . .

JPII is not American but I see an expedited saint process for him. Conservatives are going to try very hard to tag him with a "the great" appelation. But it's not going to stick. But his chances of sainthood are a slam dunk.

I mentioned earlier that I see Terri Schaivo as another saint in the works. Her process will be expedited too in order to get things done while the base is still riled up. Already we hear people speak of the "passion of Terri" and the "beauty of her soul" etc. Her chances are B+/A-

Mother Angelica--She'll be with us for a while, but I remember telling someone years ago that I believe she'll be the next major American saint. Why? She's single-handedly changed the face of Catholicism in the 20th century. I think her influence outshines even the Pope. Add to the fact that she's had health issues and there's a huge fan base for her, she's is destined for canonization.

Now, some may argue that her cause will be opposed because she did things like encourage people to disobey the Bishops. Are you kidding? That'll be a badge of honor, especially since her spat was with Mahoney. BTW, more Bishops are on her side than not. Her chances are A/A+.

Audrey. She's the girl who has been in a coma for years but has the stigmata and bleeds during holy week. She'll be around a long while. Her chances A+

There are of course many others in the works of people who are actually deceased, but what's the fun in speculating there? I know the founder of the Knights of Columbus is in the works. Also, Henrietta DeLille, founder of one the few Black religious orders is in the works as is Pierre Tousaint, Black gentleman from New York. These and others would create stirs within limited communities, but wouldn't generate the attention of the aforementioned.

It would interesting if there was a central place that chronicled current causes for U.S. saints. I imagine there are a bunch in the works, especially founders of religious orders. But wait . . . I spoke too soon. As I speak, I see this site which has info on American saints and causes in the works. Here's another site.

BTW, my remarks and speculations are not endorsements, just speculating. I would be repulsed by any further political grandstanding if Terri Schaivo's cause is pushed. As for Mother Angelica, I cringe at the misery she has unleashed on the Church, but if she isn't qualified for sainthood, it's hard to argue who is. I was greatly dependent on EWTN for years and I know many newcomers into the Church depend on EWTN just to get a sense of what's going on. I suppose we take the grain of goodness with the conservative misery heaped upon us.

I am extremely cycnical about the whole sainthood thing. For me, it is a solely PR/political move that means very little in actuality. The Church uses saints for PR and to make points. Hey, they can do whatever floats their boat. If I were in charge, I'd do the same. You have to find positive ways to inspire and control the sheep.

What I find amusing, coming from a Protestant background, is that "saints" was a common term used to describe Christians, just like you would say "brother" or "sister." But in the Catholic Church, it comes as revelation to many that we are all saints and that's how the term is used in Scripture. But why tell everyone that? It doesn't serve the purposes of the powers that be.

This thing called love

Love is one of those mysterious and fascinating things. Everyone knows what it is or what its about, yet we're all painfully deficient in our understanding of it.

I am trying to put together some scattered thoughts about love (right now, context is relationships). I think that the two key notions in love are commitment and duration. I am not convinced there can be authentic love without duration and commitment.

I don't believe that love can exist apart from a shared history. So two people who've been married for ten years, when they say "I love you" to each other, "love" is articulating their shared history and does not refer to an abstraction. There is no love in abstraction, it has to refer to a past shared history.

My belief is that when people at a young age or at the beginning of a relationship say, "I love you" I think two things are going on there. First it is a promise to commit for a boundless duration. Secondly, and most importantly, for a "novice" to say "I love you," is to anticipate that sentiment in potential shared history. So there is a sense in which it doesn't mean much at the beginning because you can't take that love to the bank.

Which then leads to my idea that the idea of love is overrated in a marriage. I think you can throw out the abstraction of love and focus on three things: friendship, personality, and passion. Friendship is the key. It is not that common to tell friends that you love them, but of course the truth is that that is the case and it is manifest especially after many years. The ideal that marriages have to work towards is that of friendship.

As far as personality goes. I think this is huge. Personality types have the most effect on the outcome of marriages IMHO. Personality is how you are expressed and manifest as a phenomenon in the world and in your relationship. It's your unique way of relating to everything and everyone. This impacts how you give and receive friendship and how succesful your friendship with your spouse will be.

Passion-this is what I think is mistaken for love. I see passion as the favorable physical and psychological disposition to your spouse. This is not necessarily the "hotness factor" or "sexiness" factor. It is related to that but can be accidental to it. Your spouse may not pass the objective societal standards of physical attraction, but s/he absolutely does it for you. Even when you are both much older, the physical presence of that person is still a crucial element of the relationship. There may be times that that physicality expresses itself in sexiness etc, but the draw goes much deeper. Which is why, even if/when physical attraction wanes, there is no danger to the fundamental passion for the spouse.

Scattered thoughts, but the issue has always been of interest to me. Now, I've only been married for five years and yes, I am not an expert on anything so related. But so what? When has that ever stopped me from mouthing off with extreme confidence? :)

Filiblog for the rights of the majority-minority

Democracy Cell Project is organizing a filiblog to raise our voices against the threatened nuclear option. Read this post to find out what you can do.

BTW, the 44 Democratic Senators represent approximately 5 million more people than all 55 Republican Senators. We really aren't a minority but a silent majority being overtaken by the Christian and Catholic Taliban.

Objection, your Honor! Leading the Witness

MSNBC's Question of the Day: Do you think removing a feeding tube is unethical in all cases?

Even with such a loaded and leading question, as of 1:21 pm ET, 30,000 + have voted and 74% say no.

So much for our much heralded liberal media.

American Idol Analysis Week 10

First, here's the definitive order of picks. Made prior to the beginning of the top 12.

The theme this week was songs from the 90s, whatever the heck that means.

Nikko Smith--Very good voice, strong entertainer, horrible wardrobe and his siniging style and song selection scream niche. I think he is safe this week. He is busting my bracket, I had him leaving second.

Nadia Turner--I think she's out this week. No one knows what she is about. During the lead up to the final 12 she created the image of fun loving rocker Tina Turner, but then she mixes it up with other weird stuff and no one knows what she is all about. She's out this week.

Scott Savol--Weak performance tonite, but still very sincere. I don't know what possessed him to take a stab at Brian McKnight. That's a recipe for disaster. He was lacking energy and passion tonite.

Vonzell Solomon--Again, why would anyone in their right mind pick a challenging Whitney Houston song? She did good, but her limitations are painfully obvious when compared to Whitney. Otherwise, she is a great singer.

Bo Bice--Weird performance IMHO. He had the energy, but song choice was kind'a strange. I think the bloom is off the rose for him.

Jessica Sierra--I think she's safe, but it was an unremarkable performance, bland and uninteresting.

Anthony Federov--Sang Elton John and found out what many find out the hard way, Elton John makes it look too easy. I have this guy surviving till #4, but more performances like this and he'll bust my bracket.

Constantine Maroulis--Very good performance. He's sporting a 6 o'clock grunge shadow which makes him look sick and creepy. He needs to drop it. He'll be around for a while but he is not going to win.

Anwar Robinson--I finally figured this guy out. I think he is a natural jazz vocalist which explains the tone and tendency to veer off melody and even counter it. He sang "I believe I can fly," Not sure what to say. I don't think it was a good song for his voice type. It's like listening to Stevie Wonder. Stevie is unbelievable until he tries to sing Ave Maria and you go, "yuck dude!"

Carrie Underwood--She's a star. All she has to do is coast, not offend anyone and give adequate performances and she'll survive til the finals.

Overall, not great or memorable performances. I predict Nadia is out and Federov is begining to show signs of weakness. However, Simon was hard on him and he seemed hurt by Simon which can draw a huge sympathy vote. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Schindlers' List

Via Left Coaster: "Turning Pain into Profit

Apparently the Schindlers have decided, through a direct marketing firm, to rent or sell the list of their donors to . . . I guess whoever's interested.

According to the New York Times


ASHINGTON, March 28 - The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

I think it is a shame that they would sell the list. People gave them private information in good faith for a cause. If they feel like they need to raise money, that would actually be the easiest thing in the world for them to do.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Heart-wrenching documentary on their struggle against evil--air this on ETWN and then give purchase information
2) Pen a book recounting the whole affair
3) Continue or recreate their foundation and pay themselves a salary and continue their cause, whatever it is
a) Push for Terri's canonization

These are just off the top of my head. Now, one may detect sarcasm in my tone. Perhaps, but this entire affair has already gone off the deep end and trying to make money off a mailing list caps the madness.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Intelligent Design and Philosophy

I've followed the Intelligent Design debate somewhat over the past few months. Those of us committed to common sense watch with alarm as the Right has moved in force to establish Intelligent Design as science in schools. They claim that evolution is only a theory and as such, diclaimers should be made clear to kids regarding the the "theory of evolution." Further still, they insist that alternative accounts of origins, such as ID theory should be offered to students and considered on par with evolutionary theories.

The theory of gravity is only a theory. However, we can settle the question of the fact of the phenomenon if we step off a building and observe what happens. The stupidity and dogmatism of the Right is mind boggling. The fossil record, the scientific record, etc are facts, and theories attempt to weave these facts into a coherent narrative without violating the very evidence upon which they are based. Evolutionary theories out there are, yes, merely theories, but they are scientific theories. That means that they are responsible positive narratives that take into account the evidence produced by the sciences. Fossil gaps, unexplained timelines, and a plethora of holes do not discount the correctness of the thrust of science, it just means that more work needs to be done.

The push for the ID theory as science is primarily coming from the Christian Right. The Catholic Right, which generally knows or should know better, has joined in with them because it is all seen as part of a larger cultural war. I suspect it wouldn't be long before this becomes a "life issue."

Unlike Catholics, Protestants do not have a tradition of philosophy that is essential to their identity or theology. The Catholic tradition has numerous first rate philosophers whose works are never far from the Catholic mind. The Protestant tradition operates somewhat differently. Traditions "closer" to Catholics such as Anglicans, Lutherans, perhaps Methodists, etc, do engage philosophy, but the extent to which philosophy is essential to what they do pales when compared to Catholicism and secondly, there isn't a "magisterial" body of philosophers or philosophical works that these denominations agree on.

The "further" the Protestant form differs from Catholicism, the more likely we are to see an absence of any coherent philosophical structure, in terms of established philosophical schools. What this means then is that with these groups, which I will loosely call Evangelicals, there's faith and there's science, but nothing to mediate between the two.

So what's the big deal: faith and science? The big deal is that faith is understood in subjective terms and established upon that which is unseen and unproven to the secular eye. Jesus is the Son of God, but can anyone prove that? No. Jesus rose from the dead. Can anyone prove that? No. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So on the one side we have faith that eschews evidence as a warrant for belief while on the other side, there is science, a discipline or mindset that refuses to commit or trust or believe without solid evidence and even then, it is willing to change positions as the evidence warrants.

Science is thus seen as the province of objectve truth, because the evidence for scientific truth is available to all and verifiable. Faith claims, on the other hand, are painfully lacking in this objectivity. These are the two poles that these evangelicals are dealing with. Things either fall under faith or science for them. If something is objective truth, then it falls under science, if it is subjective truth, then it falls under faith.

But then, the problem is that as Christians, they are aware that, though physically unverifiable, the unseen truths of the Christian faith are no less true than the visible, verifiable truths of science. In fact, the truths of the Faith are more noble and "real." But how then can these be communicated? How do you express the sublime and subject truth in terms that underscore its authentic objectivity?

The answer is philosophy. This is the role that philosophy has played for Catholics for centuries. Evangelicals do not have this tradition of philosophy, and so even though they rightly discern that the things believed deserve more than to be casually dismissed by the scientist, they have no way to communicate these truths. Philosophy is the mediating discipline between faith and science.

Intelligent design theories are philosophy they are not science. Catholics, for the most part, are comfortable with this, because we understand that philosophy is a "higher" expression of truth than physics, biology, chemistry, and even mathematics. And so for a truth to be considered under philosophy is not to denigrate it but elevate it. Philosophy is second to none in its pursuit of objective truth.

ID theories are not necessarily synonymous with creationsim. The evangelical thus rightly discerns that ID is not at home under the roof of faith and so that leaves only one option, science. The Catholic says ID does not belong with faith, but it is not science either. It is philosophy.

For instance the question of parts and wholes is a philosophical question. The question of time is at its root, philosophical. The question of essence to describe the truth of and intrinsic commonality among different species is at it's root philosophical. The question of mathematics and how it arises, is philosophical. The question of human transcendence, the fact that we can say "I know that I know that I know," is a philosophical one.

Even when scientists posit theories to explain facts, the logic that guides them stems from philosophy. The scientific method(s) is stiched together by philosophy. The whole notion of measurement is philosophical. The crucial idea of the role of the scientist, the ego, in science and what effect it has on the science she performs, is a philosophical issue.

To understand and appreciate the importance of philosophy, is to make the right distinctions and put things were they really belong, such as ID under philosophy.

This is how I read the present situation. Is this all going to find some sort of resolution? No. At the present time, the Christian and Catholic Right have whipped themselves into a frenzy about perceived enemies and the intrinsic evil of the world, to the point that facts or common sense doesn't really matter. But for those on the side of common sense, I think understanding what their problem is goes a long way in battling and countering their efforts.

If you don't read Ed's blog

you should: funny and informative.

Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

The beloved spousal unit takes particular delight in eggs benedict and so I decided to try my hand at that after many, many years. Years ago, I was a line cook at fine dining restaraunt. I worked with actual trained chefs, so I picked up quite a bit and still love cooking.

Here's how I made the eggs benedict. I began by bring water to a boil in a deep pan and then put salt and lemon juice in it. (Next time, I think I'll add vinegar--saw that on the Food network). I used ham instead of canadian bacon, on the Uncle Thomas english muffin. Break open the eggs into the boiling water and remove at appropriate consistency.

Now the Hollandaise sauce is the tricky part. I had to make these every morning at the restaraunt I worked at. A quick note: at a previous family style restaraunt I worked at, we used cheese sauce for eggs benedict. Anyway, making Hollandaise sauce is tricky because everything can go very well but the hard part is at the end and that's when you find out if it holds together or falls apart.

Melt about a cup of butter. Skim off the froth and pour out into a bowl, leaving the chunky thick stuff at the bottom.

Bring a pan of water to boil and then simmer. Isolate egg yolks in a metal bowl: I use 4-6. Add a couple tablespoons of cold water and stir and whip until eggs are frothy and light. Then hold over simmering water and begin to stir. You have to be careful not to let the eggs cook and you kind'a have to stir like crazy for a few minutes until it thickens. At this point you can add in lemon juice to taste and I like to put in hot sauce for that extra flavor kick.

Now, this is the very tricky part. You now have to add the hot melted butter. But if it is not done delicately, the sauces breaks up and you have crap. Pull the butter close to you and add slowly to eggs (I use a laddle). Keep stirring and keep the sauce over the heated water. Don't add too much butter at once. Keep adding the butter until you are satisfied with consistency and taste. Some people add white wine to the sauce, but again do it gently. If you get to this point, then you are all set. You have your sauce.

Since, I was going from memory, I had a couple of false starts so I consulted this food network eggs benedict recipe which juggled my memory. I wanted to take a picture, but it would have been rude to delay consumption any further. Suffice to say, you want me making your eggs benedict. (I've been told that my humility is my most saintly attribute.)

Drew Bledsoe, Most Overrated Quarterback Ever?


Maryland Senate Race Heating Up

With Sarbanes Retiring, Senate Interest Simmers
Open Seat in Md. Seen as 'Once-in-a-Lifetime' Chance

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page B01

Barely two weeks after Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) announced he would retire at the end of his term, the field for Maryland's 2006 U.S. Senate race has begun to take shape -- with three prominent Democrats and a leading Republican seriously considering bids.

Former Democratic congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume waited just three days before printing up campaign signs and entering the race. Democratic Party officials said last week that they believe Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will run as well.

Top state and national Republican officials, meanwhile, have been pressing Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele to become their party's nominee for the Senate seat that's been occupied by one man for nearly three decades.

"I think all of them recognize that, given how long it's been since one of these seats was open, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Barbara Hoffman, a former Democratic state senator who has discussed the race with Cardin and Van Hollen. "They know it's time."

Although Mfume was first into the race, he said in an interview Saturday that he recognizes he will face a fierce battle for the nomination. To prepare, he said, he spent the first full week forming a campaign apparatus, including reaching decisions about strategists and fundraisers that "will include names that are familiar to everyone."

"Paul [Sarbanes] caught everyone off guard," Mfume said. "We had to drop everything we were doing and get started. But right now I'm very energized. I haven't felt like this since 1979," the year he first ran for Baltimore City Council.

While other Democrats have voiced interest in the race, Cardin and Van Hollen have taken significant steps to put their Senate campaigns in motion. Both said in interviews that they expect to poll shortly to test their name recognition and performance in possible matchups.

Van Hollen, a former state senator from Kensington in his second term representing Maryland's 8th Congressional District, attended a labor rally in Baltimore County last week and announced that he had brought in veteran Democratic operative Michael Morrill to "play an active role as the exploratory team communicates with Democrats around the state." Morrill was communications director for former governor Parris N. Glendening (D).

Van Hollen sent a letter to supporters Tuesday, asking for financial help and seeking "input and support as I seriously and actively explore this possibility."

Cardin, a former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, is in his 10th term representing Maryland's 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties. He said repeatedly during an interview last week that he "will not run away from a tough battle."

His effort to drive home that point was intended to challenge perceptions that he is unwilling to take risks with his career. Last week, Maryland GOP Chairman John Kane called him "Congressman Cold Feet" because twice in the past 20 years -- in 1985 and 1997 -- Cardin expressed interest in runs for governor but backed out.

"There was no way I could win those races," Cardin said during the interview in Annapolis, which he gave after conducting a town hall-style meeting for two dozen constituents on the subject of Social Security reform. "At the time, my supporters told me not to get in. And if I had gotten in, I would have lost."

That is not what his supporters are telling him this time, Cardin said. "It's only been nine days, but in those nine days it's been very encouraging. I'm feeling very confident that my record will appeal to the voters of this state. I'm convinced of that."

Though it's too soon to tell exactly how the field will look -- several other Democratic potential candidates, including Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Elijah E. Cummings, are pondering their options -- veteran Maryland political observers said last week that the contest will test several long-standing political assumptions about race and geography.

For Mfume to win a three-way Democratic primary, he will have to find backing beyond the black communities in Baltimore and Prince George's County, said Timothy Maloney, a former state delegate who practices law in Prince George's. For Cardin to succeed, he will need to strike a chord with voters in the Washington suburbs who have had little exposure to him over the years. And for Van Hollen to prevail, he will have to disabuse Baltimore voters of the notion that Montgomery County breeds politicians who are wealthy and aloof.

Two decades ago, Del. William A. Bronrott (D-Montgomery) helped organize then-Rep. Michael Barnes's attempt to mount a bid for the U.S. Senate after Barnes served in the 8th District House seat Van Hollen occupies. Bronrott said he believes the perception of Montgomery "as a gold-plated place" helped seal Barnes's defeat.

"It will be interesting to see how much Maryland has changed in 20 years," Bronrott said.

Unlike the Democrats, Kane said his party is going to take its time sorting out who will run. He does not deny that his party's sights are on Steele, especially since Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has taken himself out of consideration, committing to seeking a second term in state government.

Steele confirmed in a brief interview that he has been called by national party and elected officials, though he would not name them.

"There's something appealing about it," Steele said of the race. "I'm seriously at the point where I'm ready to entertain a conversation on this."

Steele's departure to run for Senate would, in part, hinge on the impact to Ehrlich's reelection bid. Ehrlich essentially launched Steele's political career by selecting him as a running mate.

Hoffman said that although she can understand the GOP's interest in anointing Steele, he is not a battle-tested candidate. His election to statewide office, the first for a black candidate in Maryland, came on a ticket with Ehrlich. She noted that three Maryland lieutenant governors have run statewide, and all three lost.

Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's), who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) last year, said he has not decided whether to try for the seat. But he thought his chances would be greatly improved from his last attempt.

"An open seat creates a whole different dynamic," he said.

Maryland is fortunate to have a good number of very good candidates. I still think this race is Mfume's to lose. The Democratic Party learned a tough lesson in 2000 when Kathleen Kennedy Townsend snubbed the Black community and picked a white moderate Republican for her running mate. It infuriated the Black community which rightly feels that the state party takes it for granted. This time, the powers that be understand clearly that if Mfume, who is Black, does not get the nod, it'll confirm what Maryland blacks have said all along, that liberal talk is cheap and at the end of the day, racism still rules.

I personally don't see how Van Hollen or anyone else can survive a party primary and not win Baltimore and Prince George's County. Also Charles County, approx 38% black and in Southern Maryland, will give a significant vote to Mfume. The Southern MD area is interesting because recently there's been a spat about Blacks ascending in the party ranks. While, Blacks are a major part of voters, somehow, we haven't seen to many African Americans in Democratic leadership positions. So there is a sensitivity to the fact that we need to put our money where our diversity mouth is.

The other thing about Mfume is that liberals on the far left are very conscious about the dearth of Blacks in the Senate. Mfume is liberal and there are no disqualifying factors. If he loses, it'll greatly hurt liberal credibility in the state. The other thing is that many of the Democrats in red MD areas are liberal, liberal, so I think Mfume will pick off some of those votes.

On the Republican side, Michael Steele, Black Republican Lt. Gov is mulling a run. I don't see him doing anything significant, but you never know. The Catholic vote in Maryland went overwhelmingly to Bush and Steele has a very good reputation among Catholics. So between Catholics and PG County Blacks and then the deep red parts of the States, he could mount something significant. The problem though is that Governor Ehrlich has been embroiled in a few very bizzare scandal type things and we have to see how Steele comes out of this whole mess.

I've met the man, Steele, that is. I like him. But he is a staunch Republican and an uncritical Catholic. It would be a frosty night in hell before I vote for him. I'd shake his hand, though.

Anyway, Mfume it is. I think he'd serve Maryland very well and it is about time we got some more Black faces in the Senate and not ones who go on trips with Nigerian dictators.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

"For He Has Broken the Gates of Brass and Cut the Bands of Iron in Sunder"

Psalm 107 is a favorite of mine because of the recurring refrain:

"Oh that men would praise the Lord, for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men."

This verse is one of those verses that captures what God wants from us. He wants us to love him and see him for what he is. God is good and he does wonderful things and these wonderful things are all around us and in our lives, but we often miss them.

The Psalm begins with this point:

1: O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2: Let the redeemed of the LORD say so

The "redeemed" are those of us who have experienced the gift of God's salvation, i.e, have the privilege of knowing the Son of God who God sent into the world as a token of his love. It is to us that the responsibility falls of displaying the truth of God's love and mercy.

The Psalm continues:

2: Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3: And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
4: They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5: Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6: Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7: And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8: Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9: For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

Verse 6 is interesting because it shows how out of the depths of our frustration, we cry to God and he responds. What is interesting is that he is always there but we often fail to cry out to him until we are in distress, from which no human can save us. God will deliver. He will lead us in the "right way." But there is one thing the Holy Spirit asks of us, that we would praise the Lord "for his goodness, and for his wonderful works." God satisfies and fills the hungry soul. This is a promise and not simply poetry. Praise and gratitude are not the product of poetry, they are the expression of the hearts that have seen God's power at work in their lives. God is asking for love, praise and gratitude. It doesn't have to be pretty or eloquent, it just has to be true.

Verse 9 is also important because when God opens up his hands to us, he gives us "goodness." It is very easy to misunderstand God's blessings. Trials and tribulations, difficulties and hardships are not gifts from God. 3 John 2 says, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. " God's desire for us is to fill our souls with goodness. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God wants to give us an expected end, a future full of hope. Isaiah 58 lavishly anticipates the blessings God has in store for those who obey and seek him. God is not the source of our hardships.

Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all." We can't avoid the difficulties of life. But what we can count on is that there is a God who is good and wants, more than anything, to give us good things. He is there with us every step of the way and if, in our distress, we would only cry out to him, he will deliver and satisfy us.

10: Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;
11: Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:
12: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
13: Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
14: He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
15: Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
16: For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

Verses 15 and 16 are never far from me. I sing verse 16 in my head often, I'm not sure why. It is a message of liberation much like we find in Luke 4:18 when Jesus says that the "Spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has sent to me . . . to set at liberty those who are oppressed."

What I find interesting in verses 10-16 is the idea of God being there for the forsaken and those unwelcome in "holy places." When Jesus walked the earth and was found eating with those whom the religious establishment and the conservative self-righteous disapproved of, Jesus made it clear that it is the "sick who need a doctor."

But even more, verses 10-12 go to the heart of the human condition. We are all afflicted by sin and are enslaved to it and our hearts are burden and depressed. We are bound as it were with bands of iron.

But then, when we acknowledge our helplessness, our rebellion, our sickness, then God saves us from our distress and from the shadow of darkness. Having done this for us, what then does the Holy Spirit express that God wants in return? "Oh that men would praise the Lord, for his goodness."

God has broken the "gates of brass" in our lives and "cut the bars of iron in sunder." We are free and as Jesus says, he who the Son has set free is free indeed.

This Psalm is the story of a saving God, a liberating God, whose desire is to make us free: free to love and praise him. I encourage reading the rest of the Psalm and see again and again how we are described in each situation and in our distress God saves us so that we may praise him.

17: Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
18: Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
19: Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
20: He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
21: Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
22: And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
23: They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24: These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25: For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26: They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27: They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
28: Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29: He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30: Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31: Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
32: Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33: He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
34: A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
35: He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
36: And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;
37: And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.
38: He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.
39: Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
40: He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
41: Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
42: The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

powerful stuff.

The Psalm ends with the following admonition:

43: Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

As Proverbs 1 tells us, "the fear of the Lord is the begining of wisdom." The wise person reads this Psalm and recognizes, "observes," these events in our lives and takes heed to the admonition to praise God for his goodness. This and only this, is the avenue then to a real understanding and encounter with God.

Tom Delay and Jesus

Easter Reflections on Tom Delay

Via Atrios

Some Cool Easter Images in blogshere

At Jcecil

At Bene Diction

At So May it Secretly Begin

On the third day and the power of the Resurrection

Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

Talmida has an interesting post about the burial of Christ and the dating of the Last Supper and Holy Week events in general.

I've always settled for the traditional dating: last supper on Thursday, crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday. Although this verse bothered me quite a bit:

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

It is tough to get three days from Friday 3pm to Sunday 6am,let alone "three days and three nights." However, that concern was solved for me by my Christology professor who provides a view out there among scholars: an explanation that I really like.

It appears that the idea of the "third day" in the Jewish culture at the time signified the moment of God's power. So that when Jesus says that he'd rise on the "third day," it was not about a third 24 hour day but that God will display his power in Christ. This is brought out by Paul when he says in Ephesians 1: 19.20

19: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20: Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

That phrase "according to the working of his mighty power" apparently is a superlative type greek construction that denotes an an explosiveness. It's not just the "power" but God's "mighty power." Almost like saying the "wet water." "Mighty power" is meant to get a point across. I like to say that imagine if God "stood up" and swung at someone/thing with all it's might, what would that be like? Well he did, he unleashed his power at death in the raising of Christ.

The resurrection is about God's power, his triumph, and less about counting three days after the death. But the one example that brought this reading home to me more than anything is the following.

Imagine that centuries from now, a far removed culture reads your diary in which you say, "she came through for me in the eleventh hour." That's an idiomatic expression that does not mean that she came through for you at eleven o'clock but that as time was winding down and you were out of options.

Christ rose on the third day in an unspeakable display of power that shall never be seen again. And now, as Paul does in 1 Cor. 15:55-57, we can mock death:

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Did the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, Schindler's Spiritual Counsel, kill their leader or just let him die? The Hypocrsy: Chapter 645

Via Dkos

Friars at Schindlers' side felt own loss

By TOM ZUCCO, Times Staff Writer
Published March 23, 2005


They wear robes, sandals and cell phones.

And to be precise, they are friars, not monks.

For the past week, three members of a tiny ministry based in St. Paul, Minn., have been at the side of the Schindler family as it fights to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.

The three from Franciscan Brothers of Peace, which has just 10 total members, have appeared with Bob and Mary Schindler on the steps of the federal courthouse in Tampa, and outside Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park.

They have come to Florida, they say, because they are staunch right-to-life supporters, because they can help raise money for the Schindlers, and because of what happened to Brother Michael.

In 1982, Michael Gaworski founded the order.

The fledgling group took over a former convent and the Brothers began collecting food and clothing for the needy, ministering to international survivors of torture, witnessing at a juvenile detention center and conducting sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.

Gaworski suffered a heart attack in 1991 that left him in a condition similar to that of Terri Schiavo - with severe brain damage and dependent on a feeding tube for nourishment. For the next 12 years, the friars cared for Gaworski in their downtown St. Paul friary.

"Through his condition," Brother John Kaspari said Tuesday from St. Paul, "we came to embrace others in similar states."

Gaworski contracted pneumonia and died in 2003 at age 45.

"He would have required intubation to keep him alive," Kaspari said. "We chose not to go that route. His lungs were full of fluid."

The order, affiliated with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, became involved with the Schiavo case last fall after one of its members heard Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother, speak at a National Right to Life convention in Washington, D.C. The Brothers offered their assistance.

Kaspari said that the Brothers have become close to the Schindler family and that although they have tried to visit Terri Schiavo, they have been denied access.

Besides moral support, the Brothers also offer an option to those who want to donate money to the Schindlers. Although funds are raised directly through the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, private donations are not tax-deductible.

"But we are a tax-exempt organization," Kaspari said. "People send funds to us, and we turn it around and distribute the funds as needed. For instance, we recently ran a newspaper ad and used the funds to pay for it."

As for their dress, the Brothers wear robes - or more correctly, habits - "to depict the vow of poverty and simplicity," Kaspari said. "And to be a recognizable instrument of God."

© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved

Did Tom Delay kill his father or did he let him die? The Hypocrisy: Chapter 536

Turns out chief hypocrite Tom Delay has some explaining to do:

Via dkos

DeLay Family Outcome Different From Schiavo's

By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Sam Howe Verhovek
Times Staff Writer

6:03 PM PST, March 26, 2005

CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy unfolding in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal -- without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the raging debate outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.

The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family standing vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman -- U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and a ventilator, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.

Then, freshly re-elected to a third term in the House, DeLay waited all but helpless for the verdict of doctors.

Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to champion political intervention the Schaivo case. He pushed emergency legislation through congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.

And he is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way he (Charles) wanted to live like that. Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.

When the man's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do Not Resuscitate."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the senior DeLay "expired with his family in attendance."

"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for DeLay, who declined requests for an interview.

"The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's news aide.

There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without continuing medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared life sustained by machine. And neither left a living will.

This previously unpublished account of the majority leader's personal brush with life-ending decisions was assembled from court files, medical records and interviews with family members.

It was a pleasant late afternoon in the Hill Country of Texas on Nov. 17, 1988.

At the home of Charles and Maxine DeLay, set on a limestone bluff of cedars and live oaks above Turkey Cove, it also was a moment of triumph.

Charles and his brother, Jerry DeLay, two avid tinkerers, had just finished work on a new backyard tram -- an elevator-like device to carry passengers from the house down a 200-foot slope to the blue-green waters of Canyon Lake.

The two men called for their wives to hop aboard. Charles pushed the button and the maiden run began. Within seconds a horrific screeching noise echoed across the still lake, "a sickening sound," said a neighbor. The tram was in trouble.

Maxine, seated up front in the four-passenger trolley, said her husband repeatedly tried to engage the emergency brake but the rail car kept picking up speed. Halfway down the bank it was free-wheeling, according to accident investigators.

Moments later, it jumped the track and slammed into a tree, scattering passengers and twisted debris in all directions.

"It was awful, just awful," recalled Karl Braddick, now 86, the DeLays' neighbor at the time and a family friend. "I came running over, and it was a terrible sight."

He called for emergency help. Rescue workers had trouble bringing injured victims up the steep terrain. Jerry's wife, JoAnne, suffered broken bones and a shattered elbow. Charles, hurled head-first into a tree, clearly was in serious condition.

"He was all but gone," said Braddick, gesturing at the spot of the accident as he offered a visitor a ride down to the lake in his own tram. "He would have been better off if he'd died right there and then."

But Charles DeLay hung on. In the ambulance on his way to the New Braunfels hospital 15 miles away, he tried to speak.

"He wasn't making any sense; it was mainly just cuss words," recalled Maxine with a faint, fond smile.

His grave condition dictated a short stay at the local hospital. Four hours later, he was airlifted by helicopter to the medical center at Fort Sam Houston. Admission records show he arrived with multiple injuries, including broken ribs and a brain hemorrhage.

Tom DeLay flew to his father's bedside where, along with his two brothers and a sister, they joined Maxine. In the weeks that followed, the congressman made repeated trips back from Washington, D.C., his family said. Maxine seldom left her husband's side.

"Mama stayed at the hospital with him all the time. Oh, it was terrible for everyone," said Alvina (Vi) Skogen, a former sister-in-law of the congressman. Neighbor Braddick visited the hospital and said it seemed very clear to everyone there was little prospect of recovery.

"He had no consciousness that I could see," Braddick said. "He did a bit of moaning and groaning, I guess, but you could see there was no way he was coming back."

Maxine DeLay agreed that she was never aware of any consciousness on her husband's part during the long days of her bedside vigil -- with one possible exception.

"Whenever Randy walked into the room, his heart, his pulse rate would go up a little bit," she said of their son, Randall, the congressman's younger brother, who lives near Houston.

Over a period of days, doctors conducted a series of tests, including scans of his head, face, neck and abdomen. They checked for lung damage, performing a bronchoscopy and later a tracheotomy to assist his breathing. But the procedures could not prevent steady deterioration.

Then, infections complicated the senior DeLay's fight for life. Finally, his organs began to fail. The family and physicians confronted the dreaded choice so many other Americans have faced: to make heroic efforts, or to let the end come.

"Daddy did not want to be a vegetable," said Skogen, one of his daughters-in-law at the time. "There was no decision for the family to make. He made it for them."

The preliminary decision to withhold dialysis and other treatments fell to Maxine along with Randall and her daughter Tena -- and, his mother, said, "Tom went along." He raised no objection, she said.

Family members said they prayed.

Jerry DeLay "felt terribly about the accident," said his wife, JoAnne DeLay. "He prayed that if (Charles) couldn't have quality of life that God would take him -- and that is exactly what He did."

Charles Ray DeLay died at 3:17 a.m., according to his death certificate, 27 days after plummeting down the hillside.

The family then turned to lawyers.

In 1990 the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corporation of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that they said failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control down the steep bank.

The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages. Lawyers for the companies denied the allegations and countersued the surviving designer of the tram system, Jerry DeLay.

The case thrust Congressman DeLay into decidedly unfamiliar territory -- the list of plaintiffs on the front page of a civil complaint. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."

The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.

Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.

The DeLay case moved slowly through the Texas judicial system, accumulating more than 500 pages of motions, affidavits and disclosures over nearly three years. Among the affidavits was one filed by the congressman, but family members said he had little direct involvement in the lawsuit, leaving that to his attorney brother, Randall.

Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting congressional tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American business from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."

In September, he expressed something less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain (of plaintiffs and off) the hard work (of defendants)."

Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.

The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum of about $250,000, according to sources familiar with an out of court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said DeLay aides.

Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for sellers of such products.

The 1996 bill was rejected by President Clinton.

In his veto message the president said he objected to the DeLay-backed measure because it "tilts against American families and would deprive them of the ability to recover fully when they are injured by a defective product."'

After her husband's death, Maxine DeLay scrapped the mangled tram at the bottom of the hill and sold the family lake house.

Today she lives alone in a Houston senior citizen residence. Like much of the country, she follows news developments in the Schiavo case and her congressman son's recently prominent role.

She acknowledges questions that compare her family's decision in 1988 to the Schiavo conflict today with a slight smile. "It's certainly interesting, isn't it?"

Like her son, she believes there might be hope for Terri Schiavo's recovery. That's what makes her family's experience different, she says. Charles had no hope.

"There was no chance he was ever coming back," she said.

Verhovek reported from Canyon Lake, Texas; Roche reported from Washington, D.C. Also contributing to this report were Times researchers Lianne Hart in San Antonio and Nona Yates in Los Angeles.

Friday, March 25, 2005

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Good Friday--Just Another Day?

Good Fridays are so stange because it is the most solemn day of the year, but for everyone else it's just another day. It does get weird trying to balance the gravity with normal interactions.

My Friday Brain music mix so far has been Handel's "Thy Rebuke has broken his heart . . . Behold and see, if there be any sorrow, like unto his sorrow . . ."

and the other tune that's swirling around in the brain is a song I had heard eons ago called, "If God is dead." Unfortunately, I don't know all the words. It ends something like, "If God is dead, then who makes my life worth living. I'm glad, I know he lives, he lives, he lives, he lives, he lives."

I normally try to listen to Handel's Messiah at some point during the Triduum and I also try to watch Ben Hur. Ben Hur is the only film that I feel has really ever captured the fullness of the death of Christ. I guess the reason is that the story of Christ is about what he's done for us. And in the story of Judah Ben Hur, the power of Christ shines through: the healing, the forgivess, the teaching, providence. We'll see if there are enough hours in the day to accomplish this.

Hebrews 7: 19-28

19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
20: And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
21: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
22: By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
23: And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
24: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25: Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27: Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28: For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

You don't understand, sir. You don't want to wash my feet!

I was asked a couple of weeks back if I would be willing to participate in the parish's foot washing ritual on Holy Thursday. I laughed because, pastor may be loving and all, but you do not want to be exposed to my feet. Trust me.

But I said yes, I'll do it. If everyone turned down every request, then no one would do anything. I was able to get home early and take care of the feet in order to present a more pleasing foot.

It was an interesting experience. My wife and I had been discussing this whole bit about people herniating discs just because women's feet are being washed. We were glad our parish is much different than that. So at Church, the usher came up to me and explained the logistics, "After Father says, 'will the gentlemen getting their feet washed come up please' then . . ." An intense wave of sadness came over me. I generally don't get bent out of shape about anything in the liturgy, but this hit me.

My first impression when we finally did get called up was the immense akwardness at seeing all men up there. They had done a great job in diversifying the 12 of us, but I was not at all happy. I'm glad I did it, but I don't know if I ever want to be part of that again if it remains exclusive.

This is not about women being priests, it's about washing feet for God's sake! What is the big freaking deal?

Anyway, what strikes me about Jesus washing his disciples' feet is the shock value. He really was doing something that he really shouldn't have been doing, for who he was. Jesus' act made such an impression because of the degree of condescension he subjected himself too.

And in closing, unrelated but in the anticipation of the desolation of Friday and Saturday:

Lamentations 2:11-17

11: Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
12: They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom.
13: What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?
14: Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.
15: All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?
16: All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.
17: The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.

The Visions of Zechariah contd: Zechariah 5: 1-11

1: Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
2: And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.
3: Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.
4: I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.
5: Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
6: And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
7: And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
8: And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
9: Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
10: Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?
11: And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.

"Ooops" Wish we hadn't said that! Are Florida bishops hiding their own statement?

Anyone else notice how the Florida Bishops Conference statement of February 15, 2005 is being pushed out of sight?

If you go to the Terri Schaivo page of the Florida Bishops Conference, there are statements everywhere, but that pretty recent statement is no where to be found. Why?

Could it be because it reflects the not-so-popular-with-the-Rabid-Right view that Michael Schaivo may, without violating Catholic principles, remove his wife's feeding tube?

Saint Terri Schaivo?

I'm not being flip here, but all this has me thinking. We all know how this situation will end. The tube will not be reinstated and Terri will pass into life. The self-induced apocalyptic fervor of the pro-lifers has reached unprecedented proportions and as some have proclaimed this "the new Roe v Wade" for them.

Already, we see comparisons between Terri and Holy Week, the cross, the passion of Christ, etc and the pro-lifers call this murder, starvation, etc which then, in their eyes, makes Terri a martyr and victim of the culture of death.

I don't see this impending sense of apocalyptic doom diminishing anytime soon. In fact, her passing will only boost the the fervor. And if so, there is only one action that is commensurate to the point that the pro-lifers are trying to make, canonization.

I honestly don't see how there wouldn't be a push for her canonization. The tricky part would be if the U.S. Bishops would go along. I suspect you'd find a handful on record who'd be willing to push it and if so, it is as good as done.

Raising the money would be a snap. As it is, Right Wing money men have taken up the cause and with the flood of small donations from the pro-lifers, the cause will be golden.

The other question would be the Vatican. I don't see an obstacle there. The Vatican would jump at this opportunity to make a point to Europe and to the world. So there really wouldn't be any bureaucratic obstacles, which means the cause can get started and move promptly to the Venerable or Blessed stage.

However, the real question is that of the sentiment of the faithful in the US. As it is 70-80% of the US population believe that the tube should remain out and that she should be allowed to die with dignity. The question is how that sentiment translates with Catholics. I would be utterly repulsed if this all unfolds, but is there a critical mass of Catholics who would not look kindly on this? I think not because, besides out-and-out liberals, many moderates who are uneasy about this whole thing and more neutral are afraid of the rabid right and of being caught in the cross hairs of a righteous crusade.

When the Pope made his remarks about gay marriage being part of the idealogy of evil, I mused that he was raising the temparature and stimulating a boiling point that would rid the Church of liberals once and for all. A push for Terri Schaivo's canonization, I maintain, would do the trick. It would crush the liberals and leave the Church in the hands of conservatives.

Hey, I love fiction. I love writing fiction: and so speculate like this, I will. Again, all this is unfortunate, but I don't see how things don't unfold they way I'm guessing they will.

In Spanish it transliterates to "Last Meal" right?

I heard a little girl today say, "Oh look, a picture of the last dinner!"

I wonder what PC revolutionary will eventually propose the idea of "Last Snack." After all, these days, no one sits down to meals anymore.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More on the Visions of Zechariah

Zechariah 4: 1-14

1: And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
2: And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4: So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5: Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6: Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7: Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8: Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
10: For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
11: Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12: And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13: And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14: Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

T'was love with Newman?

Then there was a lady whom John Henry had met through his sisters. "In all this goodly array," Tom Mozley remembered, "there was not a grander or more ornamental figure than Maria Rosina Giberne. She was . . . the prima dona of the company. Tall, strong of build, with aquiline nose, well-formed mouth, penetrating eyes, and a luxuriance of glossy black hair, she would command attention anywhere." . . . She was entirely devoted to Newman--perhaps in love with him--who responded to her vivacious temperment with sensible caution. Though the had more than one serious quarrel she remained through thick and thin his fervent disciple. She entered a Convent after she became a Catholic and died in France a few years before Newman, his spiritual daughter to the end.

From The Oxford Conspirators by Marvin O'Connell.

Bill Frist: "Pull the Plug on Anencephalic Babies! We Can Harvest their Organs!"

Via Atrios

Frist Urged Changing The Definition of Brain Dead to Include Babies Born With Condition Comparable to Schiavo's

Frist wrote a book in 1989 called Transplant where he advocated changing the definition of "brain dead" to include anencephalic babies. Anencephalic babies are in the same state as Terri Schiavo except that she suffered a physical trauma that put her into a vegetative state while the anencephalic babies are born that way.

This remarkable discovery buttresses the argument that Frist's advocacy for Schiavo is wholly political. How does he explain this remarkable inconsistency? Here is the relevant passage on Frist as quoted by the New Republic in 2003:

"And, although Frist writes frequently about the ethical issues surrounding transplants--for example, the question of when death begins--he approaches these issues in starkly scientific terms, with little patience for religious objections.

"Near the end of the book, for example, Frist suggests changing the legal definition of 'brain death' to include anencephalic babies, who are born with a fatal neurological disorder but show just the slightest hint of brain-stem activity. Such a change would make it possible to harvest their organs for transplant--something the Catholic Church and pro-life groups oppose. 'Three thousand anencephalic babies were born a year, enough to solve our demand many times over--but we never used them.'" [The New Republic, 1/27/03]

Michigan Bill Would Ban Medical Decisions if Adultery is Involved

Detroit Free Press Via Steve Gillard

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A Michigan lawmaker is working on legislation that would prohibit a spouse having an affair from denying food, fluids or medical treatment to a wife or husband who cannot make such decisions.

Rep. Joel Sheltrown on Tuesday said he wants to avoid a situation similar to Terri Schiavo's.

The 41-year-old Florida woman has relied on a feeding tube to keep her alive since suffering severe brain damage in 1990. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has fought for years to have her feeding tube removed because he said she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

The tube was disconnected Friday on the orders of a state judge, and a federal judge on Tuesday refused to order it reinserted.

Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, appealed the decision the same day to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, warning that their daughter was "fading quickly" and might die at any moment.

The Schindlers have said Michael Schiavo wants their daughter dead so he can marry his longtime girlfriend, with whom he has young children. They have begged him to divorce their daughter and let them care for her.

Sheltrown, a Democrat from West Branch, said Michigan should strengthen its protections before a similar situation happens here.

"While people, in happier times, may trust their spouses to make future medical decisions for them, situations change," Sheltrown said in a statement. "In a situation where an incapacitated patient lives at the mercy of an adulterous spouse, it is in the patient's interest to make a presumption in favor of life."

Michigan law already prohibits the denial of life-sustaining treatment, such as food and water, unless the patient has expressed that such action be taken, said Sheltrown, who expects to introduce the bill in about three weeks.

Matt Resch, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, said House leaders will review the bill when it is introduced and decide which committee to assign it.

Howard Brody, a professor at Michigan State University's Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, said it would be irresponsible to take up legislation related to Terri Schiavo's case as it continues to develop.

Brody said the current judicial process to consider such issues is a good one.

"Who would be the person to best know Terri's wishes and who could best report to us what Terri wanted? That person might well be the person who lived with Terri day in and day out," said Brody, who added that a court has not stopped Michael Schiavo from being his wife's legal guardian.

"Who are we to say that they're wrong?"

We might as well get really Christian here and make sure we have a very very Christian definition of adulteryy.

Mt. 5:28 "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

Mt 5:32 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Save Terri . . . But Cut the Medicare She's On

Schiavo Case Puts Face on Rising Medical Costs
GOP Leaders Try to Cut Spending as They Fight to Save One of Program's Patients
By Jonathan Weisman and Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 23, 2005; Page A13

As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program, they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo.

The Schiavo case may put a human face on the problem of rising medical costs, both at the state and federal levels. In Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is pushing a dramatic restructuring of the Medicaid program, the cost of Schiavo's care has become political fodder. In Washington, where a fight over Medicaid spending threatens to scuttle the 2006 budget plan, the role of the program in preserving Schiavo's life is beginning to receive attention.

"At every opportunity, [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay has sanctimoniously proclaimed his concern for the well-being of Terri Schiavo, saying he is only trying to ensure she has the chance 'we all deserve,' " the liberal Center for American Progress said in a statement Monday, echoing complaints of Democratic lawmakers and medical ethicists. "Just last week, DeLay marshaled a budget resolution through the House of Representatives that would cut funding for Medicaid by at least $15 billion, threatening the quality of care for people like Terri Schiavo."

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen fired back: "The fact that they're tying a life issue to the budget process shows just how disconnected Democrats are to reality."

Lawyers for Schiavo's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, have said repeatedly that Medicaid finances her drug costs, but it is not entirely clear how dependent Schiavo's caregivers are on the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. In 1993, Michael Schiavo received a medical malpractice judgment of more than $750,000 in his wife's name, according to a report by her court-appointed guardian ad litem. The money was placed in a trust fund administered by an independent trustee for Schiavo's care.

Michael Schiavo's lawyers have said that $40,000 to $50,000 remains. Patient care at the Florida hospice where Schiavo lives averages about $80,000 a year, but the hospice now pays for much of her care. For two years, Medicaid has covered other medical costs, including prescription drugs, the attorneys have said in published reports.

Medicaid's share of Schiavo's care "is a big chunk," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who until this year was involved in the case as a state senator. "Governor Bush and President Bush are both professing deep concern for the rights of one disabled person, yet their rhetoric doesn't match their actions," she said.

Florida's Medicaid program is expected to cost about $14 billion this year, with the state covering 41 percent of the budget, said Jonathan Burns, spokesman for the state Agency for Health Care Administration. For every $1 Florida spends on Medicaid, it receives about $1.44 from the federal government in matching funds.

The governor has proposed limiting Medicaid spending and in essence giving each beneficiary a voucher to shop for a health plan. Advocates for the poor and disabled contend the approach would leave the most vulnerable without adequate coverage.

If it passes, "I guess Mrs. Schiavo or someone on her staff would have to find a network that will take care of her for the amount of money" the state provides, said Andrew Schneider, a Washington-based health care consultant who specializes in Medicaid.

In Washington, House Republicans approved a budget resolution for 2006 last week that would order $15 billion to $20 billion in Medicaid savings over the next five years. But when Senate leaders tried to follow suit with a budget that trimmed $14 billion from Medicaid, 52 senators balked. The Senate and House differences over the program may jeopardize lawmakers' ability to craft a budget this year, thus threatening all of President Bush's cost-cutting efforts.

Ron Pollack, executive director of the health care advocacy group Families USA, denounced the "two ironies" of the situation.

"At the same time congressional leaders were trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive, they voted to cut the Medicaid program that keeps many millions of people alive," he said in an interview. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, "is grandstanding about Terri Schiavo at the same time he is pushing real hard to place a limit on the dollars available for people's care, including care like Terri Schiavo is receiving," he said.

Republicans say such rhetoric further complicates the unavoidable task of controlling Medicaid's growth. "Too many people would rather resort to scare tactics than have a constructive conversation about ways to fix the nation's long-term budget crisis," said Gayle Osterberg, spokeswoman for the Senate Budget Committee.

The cost of care in cases such as Schiavo's has vexed governments for years. In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed a law establishing procedures for hospitals and physicians to withhold life-sustaining care from patients with conditions deemed hopeless, even over relatives' protests. The legislation affords a family 10 days' notice to find another facility. Last week, Texas Children's Hospital in Houston invoked the law to remove a 6-month-old boy from his breathing tube against his mother's wishes.

It was a Republican, Rep. Steve King (Iowa), who first brought the issue of Schiavo's Medicaid support to Washington. On the House floor Sunday, he blasted Woodside Hospice, where Schiavo lives, for allegedly bilking Medicaid, citing a Government Accountability Office audit that he said ordered the company to repay $14.8 million in "inappropriately collected" fees.

The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast Inc., which operates Woodside, was cited in 1996 for nearly $15 million in payments for ineligible beneficiaries and patients who may not have been terminally ill. But the issue was Medicare charges, not Medicaid, and the investigator was the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general.

Mike Bell, a company spokesman, said the not-for-profit did not have to repay any money. The investigation, which involved several hospice care providers, "led to clarification and directions going forward," he said.

But King was making a point other Republicans have argued: that waste and fraud can be wrung out of the Medicaid system without sacrificing patient care -- but only if Congress gives states more flexibility.

Said Osterberg: "The reason for the budget seeking . . . administrative modifications is to ensure the program is more efficient and financially sound moving forward, so that beneficiaries don't have to be kicked off down the road."

American Idol Analysis

I can't believe anyone would have time to watch this show. But I will indulge those who have time for such frivolity and give you the benefit of my analysis. For the record, I do not watch the show, I merely observe it:

First, here's the definitive order of picks.

Nikko Smith--Poor song choice. Singing style, has limited appeal, clearly an excellent vocal technician but I don't see much of a fan base. He's out next.

Nadia Turner--What the heck was that with the hair? 80s throwback? I don't think so. She sang "Time after time" which is a delicate sensitive song and she butchered it. She rushed through the song, vocals were flat, and tried to give it a Tina Turner "rolling" pizzazz which was a mistake and then at the end tried to capture the somber mood of the original.

Scott Savol--Where did this guy come from? Not an A+ song choice (Phil Collins' "Take a Look at Me Now"), but he brought his A game. He comes across as very sincere. I misunderestimated him. I had him going out at #9 before Mikalah, how dumb was that?

Mikalah Gordon--Rule #1, do not sing songs by Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin and Taylor Dane (BTW, what happened to her and Irene Cara?). I honestly don't know who her fan base is. She's a goner.

Vonzell Solomon--I wasn't sold on the performance. She's got big vocals and personality and I think that'll carry her some way, but with Scott gaining momentum, I don't see how she'll get past #6. She tends to shout a bit and there is that sense of control in her voice.

Bo Bice--I had him going out at week 6. You can call me a moron at this point, I'll accept. This guy is unbelievable. He is the real deal. I'm speechless. I'll buy his record.

Jessica Sierra--She sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart," one of my all time favorites. As usual, you gotta capture the orginal or go some place else with the song. Her performance didn't do much for me, but I think she resonates with people and not just because she's pretty. I think her fan base is perhaps the most varied. I have her going out at week 5 which I think is fair.

Anthony Federov--I like him. He tends to start slow but has great recovery speed. He is pleasant to watch and listen to.

Constantine Maroulis--Dude sang "i think I love you" by the Patridge Family. The guy is a natural performer. I have him ending up as the second runner up. I don't see him winning the Idol thing outright, but he's maximizing his limited vocal gifts with great stage presence and a charmy quirkiness.

Anwar Robinson--He's a refreshing kind'a guy, very unique voice tone. You never panick with him because you know he is always in control of his performance. He did Chaka Khan's "Ain't nobody" which is tough enough as it is. I though it was okay, but like Diana DeGarmo last year, I think he'll sail through untouched to the finals.

Carrie Underwood--I don't see how anyone can stop her, period. She is a star that has been waiting to happen. I didn't think tonite was her best performance. She obviously is a close-your-eyes and sing type, but she sang with her eyes open and seemed distracted. Nonetheless, the Rapture would have to occur between now and the final for her not to be the last one standing.

This was a much better show than last couple of years when they were asked to sing #1 hits. The last couple of years, the contestants picked obscure weird songs that had everyone scratching their heads when they had all this great billboard #1's to pick from. This time around, song selection was very good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Interpreting Scripture

Scandal of Particularity lists 9 theses on interpreting Scripture, which got me thinking.

I generally take Scripture to be God speaking in literally in the words presented to us in the texts. Another pole to this definition is that Scripture is something of a contract between us and God. God inspired the writers. The writers wrote in their voice and words. God took ownership of what the writers said and has pledged to us that He would respect the words of the writers, thus we can depend on those words.

However, God is not constrained by the words or writings. Rather, since they are created by his inspiration, they given him as much free reign as he needs in fulfilling this contract and yet remain true to his original providential designs.

Zech 3 and our continuing fascination with the power and authority of angels

Zechariah Chapter 3

1: And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2: And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
3: Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
4: And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
5: And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.
6: And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,
7: Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
8: Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
9: For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10: In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.

Hebrews 1:7-9

7: And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8: But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9: Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Greenspan thinks Reagan was not the sharpest pencil in the box

Alan Greenspan's Presidential Point Spread

• The new GQ magazine features a nearly naked, blond young actress named Jessica Alba on its cover, but that wasn't the reason Washingtonians were hot to get their hands on a copy yesterday. Nope, the chatter was about an article on the inscrutable Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan. His morning bathing rituals are detailed therein -- he likes to write speeches in the tub -- but the really eye-catching material comes from a secondhand Greenspan quote offered by his friend of 50 years, Charles Brunie.

In an interview with GQ writer Wil Hylton, Brunie recounts a dinner conversation with Milton Friedman and Greenspan. Says Brunie: "I asked the two geniuses, 'Of all the politicians you have known, how would you rank their intellectual ability?' And Milton said, 'Well, on a Bo Derek scale . . . Nixon was a nine, and Reagan's a seven -- ' and Alan interrupted, 'No, no, Milton. Reagan's not a seven. He's a four!' Milton said, 'Alan, what do you mean by four?' Alan said, 'Well, Gerry Ford's a four.' And Milton said, 'I don't know what that means.' And Alan said, 'Well, if you gave Gerry Ford a series of data, no matter what the series was, he could not develop a concept. And Reagan is the same.' ''

But we have a bigger question: Where does Jessica Alba rank on the Bo Derek scale?

Asian Americans and the Soft Bigotry of High Expectations

Learning to Stand Out Among the Standouts

Some Asian Americans Say Colleges Expect More From Them

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A10

Robert Shaw, an educational consultant based in Garden City, N.Y., was working with a very bright Chinese American student who feared the Ivy League would not notice her at New Jersey's Holmdel High, where 22 percent of the students were Asian American, and she was only in the top 20 percent of her high-scoring class.

So, Shaw said, she and her parents took his daring advice to change their address. They moved 10 miles north to Keyport, N.J., where the average SAT score was 300 points lower and there were almost no Asians. She also entered, at his suggestion, the Miss Teen New Jersey contest, not a typical activity for the budding scholar.

It worked, Shaw said. His client became class valedictorian, won the talent portion of the Miss Teen competition playing piano and got into Yale and MIT.

"As admissions strategists, our experience is that Asian Americans must meet higher objective standards, such as SAT scores and GPAs, and higher subjective standards than the rest of the applicant pool," he said. "Our students need to do a lot more in order to stand out."

Asian American students have higher average SAT scores than any other government-monitored ethnic group, and selective colleges routinely reject them in favor of African American, Hispanic and even white applicants with lower scores in order to have more diverse campuses and make up for past discrimination.

Many Asian Americans and some educators wonder: Is that fair? Why shouldn't young people of Asian descent have more of an advantage in the selective college admissions system for being violin-playing, science-fair winning, high-scoring achievers?

Dat Phan, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing had a part of his comdey routine where he tells the story of being the only Asian he knows who is bad at math. He says he routinely failed math in school and somehow, all the students seated around him failed too: couldn't explain that.

This article does not mention or the percentages of first generation compared to others. My hunch is that the Asian Americans that are excelling are more first generation than second or beyond. Just a hunch. Tends to happen with many immigrant communities.

The article goes on to ask why African Americans who are getting lower scores are being admitted in favor of high scoring Asian Americans. Also that many of these Black students are actually African or Carribean. To me, that question is kind of like asking why Ecclesiastes is in the same Bible with Matthew. You see where it is coming from, but it just doesn't fit, (so you must acquit). What I mean is that the government does owe it to African Americans to rectify the horrors it inflicted on the community. There is no clear, clear cut, short or easy way to do that. That's just the result of getting wealthy on the backs of black, souless, humanoid-looking, beast of burden, imported from the wasteland of Africa.

Rectifying wrongs, is not essentially about depriving anyone else of anything. The Asian American problem is one that needs to be worked on. But it is the closed and narrow mind that plays a zero sum game, Asians Americans or African Americans. Our times are the product of grave injustices and there are no free lunches, the debts come due at some point.

There's also the issue of the school and what it values as a complete education. If the experience of diversity is integral to the school's mission, then diversity is a priority and with that said, diversity should be integral to a school's mission. (For one, it chases the conservatives away--kidding! Any decent school worth its salt should have 8% conservatives but be sure to cap the conservative enrollment at 12%)

Anyway, these things are complicated, that's why people are paid boatloads of money to deal with these problems. If they can't do it, then resign and give me the job.