Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America is not....

a city on a hill.
a chosen people.
a royal priesthood.
a holy nation.
a tree planted by water.
the hope of the world.

i write this as a reminder to me and the people that voted for Barack.

Barack will not save the world. our work is the same as it ever was. it may be a little easier now. it may be a little harder. or a lot on either side. but it's the same work.

i write this as a reminder to the people that voted for John.

Barack will not end the world. your work is the same as it ever was. it may be a little harder now. or a little easier. or a lot on either side. but it's the same work.

and to all of us.

the nation does not need MORE prayer. the president does not need more prayer. they need prayer. the only way "more" should be attached to it is if there was no prayer in the first place.

we...those who follow Jesus...are the light of the world, a city set on a hill, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.

if there is change that needs to happen, strive to make that true first.

don't only do it for it corporately.

warn each other of sin.

spur each other on to good works.

encourage each other

disciple each other.

exhort each other.

do justice together.

be like trees...not a tree. stand in groves that are filled with all kinds of trees.

learn to worship in ways that don't include music.

learn to worship in ways that make you tremble, whether for your safety here on this earth, or for your safety before an awesome and mighty God.

be stewards, not savers or spenders. stewards. stored up treasure on earth is useless. you can't take your stuff with you. what a time to show a different mindset toward your material world!

and pursue His heart for others. one side of these political line is filled with people who believe the main call is to save souls. one side is filled with people who believe the main call is to work for the oppressed. one Man lived to show that there are no sides. there is salvation. the good news to be shared is for soul...and it is for the Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

if you're gonna put it out there...

one of the things i'm willing to accept as part of blogging/posting, is an alternate point of view. my mom threw one up on my uberlong post last night, and i was grateful for it. i didn't agree with her assessment of why i was voting the way i did. but i was appreciative of her views, and her reminder of God's heart and anger expressed in Jeremiah. i'm fully in agreement with her on that, so no worries there.

so...this was put out there today by a friend of mine who attends a christian college here in the city. actually, he might be done now, but that's beside the point. it would probably not have illicted a response were it not for one word he assigned to these 10 points.


i guess the original author, a conservative christian pastor born late last century, originally called the The Ten Cannots, likely a play on the ten commandments. here's a little paragraph my friend posted about him.

William J. H. Boetcker (1873 – 1962) was an American religious leader and influential public speaker. An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots. Originally published in 1916, it is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.

by now some of you probably think i look for the word conservative and go chasing after whatever i find. not true. i really would probably have looked past this as something written many years ago, in a pre-civil rights a time still massively dominated by white males politically, socially, and spiritually. i know where the author is coming from. like i said a few posts ago...i'm from there, too.

but my friend wrote at the top of his note, before listing the 10 cannots, that "These ten truths are timeless, but are especially pertinent today as we elect the next leader of these united States."

what made me bristle was that word truth. they are being presented as absolute truth...they are timeless...they are proven...they are espoused originally by a christian preacher who was also a political conservative...which makes them near gospel in this day and age. a couple of these are true...the ideas behind them are straight out of scripture. but several of them have no basis in scripture, and would more likely be counter to what the Gospel really is.

here are the 10 cannots, followed by my thoughts on several of them. truth, in this case, is based on where you stand, or live, or work. truth for the author and for my friend is not the same truth for me, the people around whom i work and live, and millions of others. these things would be hugely important to mull over and meditate on if you were on the upside of these 10. but if you were on the downside, it would be hard to swallow these whole without the massive amount of sugar that usually accompanies such thoughts.

The 10 Cannots

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

i understand where the thoughts are coming from...the mindset. but it remains that these are thoughts held by people with resources, not by people without them.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

this had been the cause of rebellions throughout history. this country was founded by people who gained strength by weakening the strong. the trouble is, since that founding it's been primarily used (the quote idea) to keep people in their place. slaves were told it would be better for them to not resist. women were told to keep their places and their tongues. workers were told that if they didn't continue to work in whatever manner or length of day the strong wanted, that they would lose their jobs and new people would be found who would put up with it. this of course happened after the "free" labor we "imported" was no longer available...whether african, irish, chinese, or whatever. resistance to this phrase was the birthplace of civil rights, suffrage, and labor unions believe me, there are many people who think we'd be better off without all three of those things.

You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

another one used to keep wealth with the wealthy. it's not about giving. it's about oppression. those with decide, while those without live in the consequences. recent history has banks and brokerage houses deciding, leaving those without to suffer. and the message sent down via a 750 billion dollar bailout package was "you cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich." but the poor man will suffer either way through this. they do not say to themselves "well, i am poor and i suffer, but at least those with money will not suffer." they say "i am poor and i suffer and it does not matter what i do, i will always suffer." and the rich man does nott say "why, look at the people suffering. i should help." for the most part they do not think of those people at all, as they are able to spend their lives primarily without ever coiming in contact with them. and if, by chance, they are moved to give, they endow the arts and parks and things which are disappearing which need to be preserved. i'm all for that preservation. but God's heart is for the preservation of the oppressed.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

class hatred already existis. and it is not solely poor hating rich. in fact, most poor long to be like and hang out with the rich. most rich long to stay away from, be removed from the poor. their plight is their own fault and they are "fill in the blank." it's a little funny. Jesus told of the man in temple who looked over to see a poor man and his prayer was "thank you God that i'm not like that guy." i was in staff meeting today and our vp said, regarding a discussion we were having on abortion, pregnancy, welfare..."the upper classes hate these people." they definitely don't love them. at best they hate them. at worst, they're indifferent, having no thought toward them at all.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

this has been the rallying cry of privileged people everywhere. in other words, "welfare is the blight of the land. we have created people dependent on handouts, and have kept them from developing the good old anglo work ethic." the trouble is, if you look at people with privilege, you'll be more hard pressed, in my opinion, to find character and courage than if you look at people regarded as lacking initiative and independence. this one could have a book written on it...already has, i'm sure. and independence...why is a christian espousing the idea of independence? that's an individualistic, personal piety view that regards each man as responsible for their own plight. that will not be found in scripture. instead you will find a lot of God continually asking his people to fight for care for the needs of naked, hungry, thirsty, oppressed people. the church, as described in acts 2 had people who were apparently dependent on others to give. and people did it. sure, they weren't forced, as you stated. but i assume that you're talking about taxation when you talk about the money we're forced to give. well, you gotta give that either way. free market capitalism isn't the way of the Bible. it's share the wealth. it's not well, let's build character and courage into these people by not helping. that character and courage will come from discipleship, and i daresay we in the church could just some massive doses of both.

You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

again, i think small men might disagree. few big men in history have been servants. more have been oppressors. more have imposed injustice. and if we are to do justice, which is action, as stated in micah 6:8, and not just not do injustice, which is passive, then that means tearing down some big men. it might even mean tearing down some big men who really help keep things the way we like them because the way we like them is oppressive to small men. migrant workers, and the businesses that support them, and our love and need for low prices comes to mind. corporate activities that allow us to have what we want at the expense of the rain forests or oceans or foreign workers comes to mind. tearing down these big men, even presidents, vice presidents, and secretaries of defense who fabricate causes for war and who orchestrate massive deception for any number of reason...oil, colonization, etc. and hide it as humanitarian while uganda and sudan and a dozen other places suffer atrocities that are unmatched...even they need to be pulled down. it is the hope of big men everywhere that small men will believe that line.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

unions would disagree. now, unions have become just as corrupt, but the fact is that wage payers exploited wage earners badly before unions. and wage payers now fight to keep from seeing unions happen in their businesses. see walmart, a shining example of the big man wage payer if there ever was one. but we love them because our grocerly/clothing/electronics bill is so much lower. what we would like to remain ignorant of is that those discounts are costing someone. and they are not the only ones. coca cola was hit about 10 years ago with a 150 million dollars judgment brought by women of color who were not paid as their counterparts were...who were passed over for promotions. and now, because coca cola took that 150 million to heart (money drives it all), they are now in the top three companies in the country with regard to diversity and equity in pay and promotion regardless of race or gender. wage earners taking to the wage payer.  a study of Foxconn in China might also help explain why this isn't true.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. (find it in proverbs)

You cannot establish security on borrowed money. (find this one in proverbs, too)

but be reminded, you cannot establish security with money, period.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

this is the old "God helps those who help themselves" verse. except it's not a verse. it's just a ideology. God doesn't say stop helping if the people won't help themselves. none of His commands like that regarding caring for the oppressed, marriage, working, whatever...none of them come with a "do this, if..." statement. it's a way out of the loop for us. we say, well, they just won't learn, they just won't get motivated, so i'm done with them. it's a messed up ideology. but it's easy for us. because it, again, makes everything individual...everything their responsibility. we work. we earn. we save. so we are taken care of. but we think we know the ideology of the oppressed..that they are looking for handouts. that they want to be paid for doing nothing. that is a worldview we hold because we haven't experienced the truth close up. we gather and guess from a distance. a safe distance. because safety is key.

i don't know this guy's life story...this William Boetcker. but i can guess pretty well, him being a white conservative evangelical. actually, i don't have to guess. i was one for most of my life. the funny thing is, i'm still white. i'm still conservative (theologically, not politically), and i'm still an evangelical. i just couldn't be further from the 10 truths this guy wrote. they may be truths, but they're not absolute truths. their relative truths...relative to where he stood. i'm standing somewhere completely different.

Monday, November 3, 2008

get a cup of tea...this is gonna take a while

so...politics, eh? how 'bout them candidates? how 'bout this election? i am backing a candidate...hoping he wins. me and 250 million other americans. me and 100 million evangelicals (so says wheaton college...a number i'm highly skeptical of).

where i come from, there's really only one viable candidate. and there's really only 2.5 reasons why. i believe highly in those 2.5 reasons...and yet i'm going to vote against those 2.5 reasons. not without some amount of wishing i didn't have to choose in such a manner, and not without a considerable amount of huffing and puffing from the places from which i come.

it is the places from which i come that have landed me on the other side of the imaginary line drawn by politicians, pundits, and pollsters. actually, i think they just took up sides on a line drawn long ago. the line was drawn by the church. Glen Kehrein's work on the Church, primarily the white evangelical church (those numbered at 100m) in the country, is an excellent historical look at when and how the Church split in this country...when and how it went in two different directions. one group went "right" and opted (and i'm summarizing greatly here) for a personal piety faith. it was one of a personal relationship with God. you can hear that all across the country still today. it spawns lengthy worship services with hands raised, praising God. it causes people to have difficulty in different worship styles because they don't "connect" personally in that style.

the other side went "left" and they could not understand how a person could claim to know God and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the cries of those God had so clearly told us to help. what was personal piety if widows, orphans, prisoners, infirmed, workers, naked, hungry, and thirsty were left to their suffering. they rejected the rationale that because God said "the poor will always be with you" that there was nothing that could really ever be done. and in their pursuit of a corporate responsibility for "the least of these" they began to ignore the part of God that called each of us into relationship with Him.

over the past 100 years, this dividing line became a gulf. still today, in many churches, mention the words social justice as a viable extension of the Church, and you'll be told you're slipping into liberalism. the implication is that social justice causes include acceptance of homosexuality, acceptance of abortion, and a disregard for the sanctity of marriage. these are the 2.5 things the right cannot stand for (the sanctity of marriage/homosexuality thing have some overlap). and truthfully, i cannot either. i am clear on what the Bible says about each of them, and i fully agree with that. but the truth remains that they are 2.5 things out of many. it's also true, in my opinion, that the conservative (right) church has mishandled these 2.5 things..along with a couple thousand other things. nobody's perfect. i get that. but my disagreement over that, combined with the mindset of the conservative right on the balance of the social justice issues is enough to sway me the other way. it's enough to make me desire core change in how they view the world, this country, the church, and themselves.

i do not guess at this mindset. i come from it. i know there are many different swathes of thought even among the broad stroke that is this evangelical right. it can run anywhere from the extremes of "let's cause disruption in the middle east because it's the land of armegeddon and such, and prophecy shows that when a certain series of events happen there, the end will come and Christ will return" (if you doubt it, just look across the won't be hard to find) to those who believe that America is the new Israel, and that God has put a special blessing on us because of the people and the way in which this country was founded. most don't have specific thought-out positions on those sorts of things. what they do have is the main points of a worldview that is the interweaving of the Kingdom of God, and the American Dream. it gives us access to God in a deep, meaningful, personal son and daughter kind of way, and lets us live comfortably, knowing that God blesses those with whom He is pleased.

there is no doubt that God blesses His people. but we have come to equate blessing with comfort...with lack of pain. and we have come to equate pain with lack of a close relationship, or at worst, a testing of our faith. James does tell us to count it joy when we encounter pain, because the testing of our faith produces endurance. he never says that the pain will end...not here. but we have made a life free of pain the goal. and for many of us we've acheived it...for the most part. that gives a numbness to the pain of others...and it gives us a reason for why they have that pain, whether it be poverty, poor health, lack of education, or consistently facing a different heirarchy of jurisprudence than the rest of us. the reason is simple. a lack of a close personal relationship with God. if it was there, He'd bless those people. after all, this blessed nation, founded on clear biblical principles, has, as one of its benefits, the equal chance for success for every person who lives here. why, we even know some people who own a __________who came here just 10 years ago with nothing. it's proof positive that the system works. it's God's system, after all. freedom, free will, the ability to make it, to become self-sufficient...which is what we are. God helps those who help themselves. pull yourself up by the bootstraps like everyone else had to do (which is entirely not true) . the evangelical worldview places clearly the responsibility...and blame...for anyone's condition on them.

unfortuntely what's missed in that personal relationship with God, hand raised, songs sung, prayers lifted, is the thousands of places God tells His people to care for that long list of "the least of these". if you ever want to try to justify your stance on this, take a long hard look at Matthew 25. it's not talked about too much. we hear all about the time Jesus said "you must be born-again." we've adopted that phrase to more clearly describe the process of salvation. but Jesus does tell another man who inquires after salvation "sell everything you have and give it to the poor." that guy went away sad. and from what we know, he never did it. back to Matt 25. Jesus says, in that chapter, that our salvation will hinge on that list of people. we don't believe it. we're saved by grace, not of works, lest any man should boast. but what of "you show my your faith without your works and i'll show you mine with it"? another James quote. read those verses in Matthew 25 and try to figure out a way to follow Jesus (as if just simply living like He did wouldn't take care of this) without involving yourself with "the least of these". american theologans are making a living at it. they turn out pastors who turn out sheep who know nothing of the seriousness of this call. in fact, most would probably say they're doing something...serving, giving, whatever. the stats don't back it up.

christians give less than 2% of their incomes charitably, and that includes to the church, where they're being told to give 10. the white evangelical church is loosely connected, at best, with homeless, imprisoned, poor, oppressed workers. there are missions trips for a week once a year. there are serving trips to make dinner once a month at a homeless shelter. but connection? knowing the least of these? caring for the least of these? fighting for the least of these? it's not happening. if we serve, we usually find ways to do it in the church...the church full of people that look, smell, work, behave, worship, and love just like us. i know. i did it. for a long time. i still get the urge to do it sometimes. it will probably never go away.

a friend recently posts a couple of status updates on his facebook page disparaging the idea of the redistribution of wealth. it was worked over in the media, and by mccain, as well. socialism...that's what it was branded. to take what one has earned and give it to another...that's definitely not capitalism. that's definitely not free market economy. what it is, oddly enough, is the Acts 2 church. what it is is Jesus telling that man to sell everything and give it to the poor. it's not socialism. it's gospelism. it's just not the church doing it in this case (see the stat below on how badly we don't do this), it's the goverment.

the governement will take our taxes either way. and Jesus told us to follow through with that. so...if the government takes our taxes either way, then do i want them taking taxes from the poor to give to the rich? the "trickle-down" theory? reaganomics would tell you that works really well. but go ask the people who were affected by massive, unprecedented cuts in social programs while that money was taken from them and given back to the corporations and the rich. find out how they felt about it. a word of warning. you're gonna have to leave your neighborhood/suburb to find the people affected. no...i think i'd prefer that if the government is going to tax me either way, that the first people to benefit from it are not oil companies and brokerage firms, but school lunch programs and music/arts programs, and legal aid attorneys and health care for kids. i feel the personal responsibility people getting rankled at that. the idea of welfare will raise the blood pressure of your everyday average white american. you know what? it bugs christians more. why? (well, for the best answer, go read Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson) because it's their fault those people need welfare, and it's their fault they don't have or want jobs. if they'd just take some responsibility for their lives, they'd be living a much better life.

i have also been amazed and appalled at the things i've read linking sarah palin to esther, from the Bible. what does this have to do with "the least of these?" you ask. first, it comes out of that idea that we are a christian nation...that america is God's chosen nation...God bless america and all that. the quotes i've seen and heard have God speaking to pastors telling them that sarah palin is His chosen instrument. they have people applying the "for such a time as this" line from mordecai to esther, saying that this evangelical woman is the instrument God has called out for this time of salvation. could she be? sure. is it likely? no. is it probably a gross misuse of scripture? yes. and here's why.

first, america is not God's people. it is not the new Israel, or the new Jerusalem. christians are God's people. Peter says we, believers, are a chosen people, a holy nation, and a royal priesthood. if sarah palin is chosen for such a time as this, the drawn out application would be that she was going to be put in this place to save her people. that's us believers. from what are we being saved? we have the greatest freedoms of christians probably ever on this planet. do we need to be saved from the judgement of God because of the increased acceptance of homosexuality and abortion, and increased disregard for marriage? maybe. but there are some interesting places in the same Bible that lend a lot more thought to why God is not hearing the cries of His people, if He indeed is not. read Isaiah. the whole book. but specifically read Isaiah 58. it's a dear chapter to me. those who know me know that much of the rebuilding of my faith came from reading Matthew 25 and Isaiah 58 and realizing i did not know those people, and yet i offered my songs, fasting, and worship, wondering where my blessing was.

Isaiah 58 is to the God's us. it was Israel back in the day. it's us now. not america. believers. america has nothing to do with it. but you do, christian. you who wonder where your blessing is. you who lift your hands in 3 hour worship services, loving to sing with all your heart and might, soul and strength. you who fast before the Lord to let Him know how deeply you desire Him, or the thing He can give. and what does He say in response to that fasting, praying, worshiping? it's the proverbial slap in the face. it's what He somehow communicated to Cain. it's "you think this is what i want? then you haven't been paying attention to the hundreds of places I've spoken to you telling what i want." and then...essentially the same list found in Matthew 25.

how is this a plan for the rescue of His people? how is this more applicable than sarah palin? He tells us. if you stop oppressing your workers, if you care for the widow, if you seek justice for prisoners, etc, etc, then your salvation will come like the dawn. then you will be like well-watered gardens. then you will rebuild cities and walls. not sarah palin will bring your salvation like the dawn. but we choose a vote and a verse because what does that take compared to an altered life? nothing. we can hope that mrs palin gains power and changes the course of history. and we can sit in our cars that are too big and cost too much, park them in houses of the same, and do a little something here and there. and never, ever see our salvation come like the dawn.

and so i choose to vote for a candidate whose message says we need to do more for each other. it's not a perfect situation. i am troubled by the 2.5 things. abortion is awful. homosexuality is a sin. marriage is sacred. but these things will not be solved by a conservative vote. mccain will not reverse roe v wade. the agenda promoted by the GLBT group will still be pushed, on a state level, if the federal level doesn't succeed. and marriage will continue to lose it's hallowed position as an instution given by God. but that institution is failing at the same rate among evangelicals as it is everywhere else. homosexuals have been singled out by the Church as commiting a sin that is intolerable. but when God listed the reasons He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the perversion was not first on the list...or second...or third. the first things on the list were that the people of those cities had no regard for those in poverty and who faced injustice. and while we cry out against abortion as murder, we, as believers, aren't even caring for the mothers, fathers, and babies who didn't go that route. and why would we? they made their choice...if they only would give their whole hearts to God, then they would be rescued.

i believe in the interweaving of the personal and corporate responsibility to God as followers of Jesus. unfortunately, the "right", which has the personal down, has lost touch with any idea of a corporate conscience. i have issues with the "left", too...lots of them. i have not added liberal theology when i decided to vote with what is commonly thought to be the liberal candidate. the closest truth is that Jesus is my candidate. i will follow Him regardless of what person wins tomorrow. but when it comes to the election, i will take my conserative theology, which i believe includes more of what liberal politics is about, and i'll make my choice by that.

this is the Right?

this is an AP article published today. why don't i hear the Moral Majority speaking out about the underhanded tactics that their party is using? i'm neither democrat nor republican, but i don't hear this sort of thing from the democratic party. i don't get endless emails written by "well-meaning" christians questions every part of John McCain's life. i don't get one whiff of subterfuge from them. but i have read...and deleted...some 100 emails, mostly forwards, over the past couple of months.

any person with a brain could tear apart the mostly very bad lines of reasoning in these emails. but they're not sent for those people. they're sent for people gripped by fear (that they'll be arrested or deported, or that the apocalypse is 10 minutes away if the wrong guy wins). they're sent for people gripped by hate (who judge others by any number of criteria, all of which are designed to divide). they're sent for people who do not want to lose what they have (control, power, position, privilege).

as i said, i am neither democrat nor republican. i am not registered on either candidate's website (i am in an obama group on facebook). i don't believe either party is the answer. i believe Jesus and his people...the the answer. that doesn't mean i won't vote, and that i don't already know for whom i'll vote. i've had family and friends wonder how and why i could vote the way i will vote. i will simply say that my choice was not made due to one issue...or two. i did not seek to apply bible passages (for such a time as this...for sarah palin) to a candidate. what i did seek was how each party would affect what i feel is a culture of personal responsibility in this country, and in the church. i believe God is clear on corporate responsibility for those in need. and while personal responsibility is important, there are HUGE holes that are created in faith and following if equal attention is not paid to the corporate. i'll write more on this soon.

anyway, here's the article...


In the hours before Election Day, as inevitable as winter, comes an onslaught of dirty tricks — confusing e-mails, disturbing phone calls and insinuating fliers left on doorsteps during the night.

The intent, almost always, is to keep folks from voting or to confuse them, usually through intimidation or misinformation. But in this presidential race, in which a black man leads most polls, some of the deceit has a decidedly racist bent.

Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.

Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.

In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

"He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter," said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-year-old Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. "He totally, totally scared the heck out of her."

In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. "Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4," said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. "Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake."

Laughlin McDonald, who leads the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said he has never seen "an election where there was more interest and more voter turnout, and more efforts to suppress registration and turnout. And that has a real impact on minorities."

The Obama campaign and civil rights advocacy groups have signed up millions of new voters for this presidential race. In Ohio alone, some 600,000 have submitted new voter registration cards.

Across the country, many of these first-time voters are young and strong Obama supporters. Many are also black and Hispanic.

Activist groups say it is this fresh crop of ballot-minded citizens that makes some Republicans very nervous. And they say they expect the dirty tricks to get dirtier in final hours before Tuesday.

"Oh, there's plenty of time for things to get ugly," said Zachary Stalberg, president of The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based government watchdog group that is nonpartisan.

Other reports of intimidation efforts in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania include leaflets taped to picnic benches at Drexel University, warning students that police would be at the polls on Tuesday to arrest would-be voters with prior criminal offenses.

In his Jewish neighborhood, Stalberg said, fliers were recently left claiming Obama was more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israel, and showed a photograph of him speaking in Germany.

"It shows up between the screen door and the front door in the middle of the night," Stalberg said. "Why couldn't someone knock on the door and hand that to me in the middle of the day? In a sense, it's very smartly done. The message gets through. It's done carefully enough that people might read it."

Such tactics are common, and are often impossible to trace. Robo-calls, in which automated, bogus phone messages are sent over and over, are very hard to trace to their source, say voting advocates. E-mails fall into the same category.

In Nevada, for example, Latino voters said they had received calls from people describing themselves as Obama volunteers, urging them to cast their ballot over the phone.

The calls were reported to Election Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group that runs a hot line for election troubles. The organization does not know who orchestrated them.

"The Voting Rights Act makes it a crime to misled and intimidate voters," said McDonald. "If you can find out who's doing it, those people should be prosecuted. But sometimes it's just difficult to know who's doing what. Some of it's just anonymous."

Trying to mislead voters is nothing new.

"We see this every year," said Jonah Goldman of the advocacy group Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "It all happens around this time when there's too much other stuff going on in the campaigns, and it doesn't get investigated."

In 2006, automated phone calls in the final days leading to the federal election wrongly warned voters they would not be allowed to vote without a photo ID. In Colorado and Virginia, people reported receiving calls that told them their registrations had expired and they would be arrested if they showed up to vote.

The White House contest of 2004 was marked by similar deceptions. In Milwaukee, fliers went up advising people "if you've already voted in any election this year, you can't vote in the presidential election." In Pennsylvania, a letter bearing what appeared to be the McCandless Township seal falsely proclaimed that in order to cut long voting lines, Republicans would cast ballots on Nov. 2 and Democrats would vote on Nov. 3.

E-mail assaults have become increasingly popular this year, keeping pace with the proliferation of blogging and Obama's massive online campaign efforts, according to voting activists.

"It is newer and more furious than it ever has been before," Goldman said.

And Republicans are not exempt. "Part of it is that election campaigns are more online than ever before," said Goldman. "During the primaries, a lot of Web sites went up that seemed to be for (GOP candidate Rudy) Giuliani, but actually were attack sites."

New York City's former mayor and his high-profile colleagues Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney were also targeted in fake Internet sites that featured "quotes" from the candidates espousing support for extreme positions they never endorsed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

while waitng for one of my 4 drafts to get finished...

here's a few things i wrote back in '05. my friend, kim, and i each wrote 3 and they were done as monologues during a church service.


I am walking through this world
A journey of neon, gold, steel, and flesh
Shiny things catch my attention
And I go where I look

My eye is drawn to reflections of me
Me with money, me with security
Me with control, me with every heart's desire
...and I go where I look

My hands keep me busy
Acting as blinders to narrow my vision
I see only beauty...I avoid ugliness
...and I go where I look

But there is another on this journey with me
Who sees beyone the reflections
Who knows the condition of my heart
Who turns my head, as a rider might, toward things loved deeply
And leads me from the stately to the humble
To broken homes, broken, hearts, broken minds, broken spirits
Even the occasional broken bone
...and I go where I look

Each tug of the reins leads me closer
To becoming the reflection of He who waits for me
At the end of the journey
...and I go where I look

An Almost Voice

Sometimes I am talking to God...
and someone answers

Sometimes I am talking to myself...
and someone answers

Sometimes I am not on speaking terms with anyone...
and still someone answers

Oh, it's annoying enough. Mostly I just like
the sound of my own voice. You
arguments, monologues, and what-not.

And so I talk...and if I run out of things to say
I turn up the radio, or watch TV, or hang with friends
ANYTHING to keep the volume above the threshhold
of that "someone who speaks"

But then comes that sneaky moment when my guard is down
and the questions of my life are present in my mind...
...and someone answers

Only this time I listen
And for a while I wonder why I would ever let any other
voice or noise cover the sound of this someone who answers
And I resolve to listen more often
more intently, and more deeply least until my favorite TV show comes on

You're a Nut

Your heart is hardened

Ok...hardened. Like steel?

Your heart is a walnut

Didn't you just say...oh...hardened like a walnut.

Yes. Do you understand?

I need a minute here. Let's see...walnuts are indeed hard...but...they're not all hard. And they're not unbreakable. And there's good stuff inside.

Yes. And how do you get to that good stuff?

A hammer! Or a nutcracker. Wait...this is beginning to sound like a painful process. Isn't there a gentler way?

I am Living Water

Hmmm...yeah. So...uh...if I drink, I'll be softened?

It will start the process. Do you know the power of water?

Over time, it can wear away very large or very hard things. Ooooh! The constant and steady effect of water works wonders on the hardest of things.

Do you understand? heart is...immersed in...a stream of Living hard shell can be worked away without necessarily needing crushing pressure to crack it.

Yes. Your heart is hardened

Like a walnut...