Tuesday, November 30, 2004

TY WILLINGHAM GONE. To outsiders it may be a shock. But to anyone who knows the driven desire of Notre Dame alumni and university leadership to produce a consistently top-ten football team, the firing of Ty Willingham is no surprise. This top-notch coach is gone after just three seasons at the school that Knute Rockne built. Willingham is victim of a storied, larger than life tradition. It is doubtful (but we are ever hopeful) the golden era will return to the Dame. Next victim!!

WHEN THE CHURCH IS CO-OPTED. There came a time when the young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pictured here in a Nazi prison) decided he could no longer identify himself with his German Lutheran Church. In a series of compromises and partisan political collaborations, by 1940 the Lutheran Church had let itself be corrupted and co-opted by nationalistic passions. Its leadership was heavily influenced by a charismatic leader that promised to rid the land of "immoral" people like gays and "unchristian" people like Jews. Adolf Hitler had the German Lutheran church in his back pocket.

George W. Bush has the American evangelical church in his back pocket.

Bonhoeffer affiliated himself with a newly formed Confessing Church, which immediately began to be discredited by the German Lutheran Church and driven underground by the Nazis.
AM I AN EVANGELICAL? Today I began to question whether or not I want to be identified as an evangelical. Perhaps the political baggage that now weighs upon the identifier is a marker that eclipses the word's historic theological meaning. I have had a number of people ask me to describe what an evangelical is, or wonder openly if evangelicals are all gay-hating bigots.

TIME TO DISTANCE MYSELF FROM EVANGELICALS? Maybe it is time to distinguish myself from the "evangelical" label. "Evangelical" may describe my experience of personal faith encounter and commitment to follow Jesus Christ in exclusive discipleship, but "evangelical" does not describe where that faith takes me in terms of social responsibility and incarnational witness if by "evangelical" you mean identification with a politically homogenous bloc noted for single-issue voting and blurring the separation of church and state. Is anybody else feeling this tension?

AN URBAN FIXTURE. Shapiro's Deli on South Meridian Street at McCarty is one of my favorite urban hangouts. A Jewish deli with the best hot pastrami on rye you'll likely every had, Shapiro's is also open for breakfast. Try the matzo omelette with muenster cheese!
MILITARISM ON THE RISE. I wonder: how long will America be known and feared for its new militarism? This is what we lead with now, isn’t it? Military might. Arms, war, violence. In the 1980’s, our nation began an unprecedented peace-time military build-up under Reagan. Now, in the name of “homeland security” and a nebulous “War on Terrorism,” George W. Bush has dramatically escalated militarism.

MILITARISM ON THE DOORSTEP. But militarism is no longer the nasty business America carries out overseas. It is now on our doorsteps. Militarism is the spirit and policies we encounter everyday in our hometowns and households. We see and sense that we are living more and more in a police state.

AN ADDICTION WE CAN’T SHAKE. The end of the Cold War engendered hope for a transformation of our economy’s heavy reliance on the military-industrial complex into peaceful, world market developing purposes. But apparently America’s leaders are addicted to militarism. Since then, they’ve used every excuse, every provocation, every conflict to rationalize and justify reinvestment in and new reliance upon military resources. Under our current leadership, there appears to be no end in sight.
THIS WEEK'S GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes. Contents include:
  • Called to Compassion (a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
  • Is Life Ordinary? (a reflection on personalism and Advent)
  • Militarism: America In Their Eyes (what folks in other nations are saying of us; what we are saying of ourselves)
  • This Pastor’s Life: Week 53 (a brief reflection at my one-year anniversary @ WEMO)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

WHEN THE WORLD ENDED. An excellent Bible study by Jirair Tashjian on numerous "second coming" New Testament passages is available online at www.cresourcei.org/secondcoming.html. The Christian Resource Institute site is a reliable online resource for orthodox Christians and seekers. I like this quote, in particular:

“When writers and preachers make such a big fuss about the Second Coming and the end of the world, they are forgetting something much more important. They are in effect minimizing the First Coming. In a real sense the world ended some two thousand years ago in Jesus. Something decisive happened for humanity and for our relationship with God in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The New Testament is much more concerned with what it means to be crucified with Christ than with being glorified when he comes again."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

REAWAKEN. “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” – Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 26, 2004

RIDE COLD. I headed out on a bike ride this afternoon. The cold is great riding weather if you've got warm gear. I listened to NPR with earbuds and cranked for an hour or so around Indianapolis International Airport. With holiday food calories mounting, I've got to do this to keep from turning into a butterball. My goal is to ride five days a week thru the winter, even if it's a twenty-minute spin. I'm also looking for a good used CycleOps trainer.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE. Justin, Abby, and Jan fill to-go containers with Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings that would be delivered to about 1,400 neighbors in Indianapolis First Free Methodist Church Thanksgiving Dinner. My VW Beetle was packed to the roof with meals to deliver. Our family has participates in this effort as often as we can.
PACERS STILL WINNING GAMES. Yesterday, our Indiana Pacers won the second of three games since losing three starters to suspensions and having three other top players on the injured list. At 9-3, the Pacers reserves are playing scrappy, inspired basketball. Do you wonder if they can sustain this inspiration over the next 27 games?
COMPARING GIFTS. I looked around at all the people grabbing stuff off the shelves, needing these things so badly or trying to please their children with desired purchases (as was I), and I was immediately struck by a thought: none of these things compare with physical fitness and good health; none of these things compare with a mind alert and deepening through reading and reflection; none of these things compare with the grace of knowing we are deeply loved and have an opportunity to make a loving difference in the lives of loved ones, neighbors who are materially poor, and strangers we are blessed to encounter.
POWER SHOPPER SAM. Our eleven-year old son, Sam, had me wake him up early so he and I could be at a superstore when it opened at 6:00 am this morning. I've never done this before, but he wanted to make sure he got one of the limited number, on-sale video cameras that will be his Christmas present from his Granni and us. We arrived just after 6 am and lines in the electronics section were already backing up. We celebrated our "find" over breakfast and returned home before the rest of the family awoke.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

THANKSGIVING POLITICAL CARTOONS. For a few good laughs (and maybe a few tears), go to Daryl Cagle's Online Professional Cartoonists Index hosted by Slate Magazine. You may never look at Thanksgiving Day the same again!

MY POEM FOR THANKSGIVING. Over the past few days I've been reading Thanksgiving poems. I haven't found one that speaks my heart. So I wrote one that does.
Thanksgiving doesn’t live in a vacuum;
We do not pluck it from thin air.
We cannot be grateful on command,
Genuflecting at the drop of hat.

Talk is cheap when it comes to thanking,
Yet beyond courteous etiquette
Lies a deeper reality that beckons,
Inviting us to reckon with grace.

Native American graciousness
And Pilgrim hospitality,
Turkey and all the trimmings, point
Beyond finely folded, praying hands.

Through and beyond these images
We glimpse a sacred connection,
As generations across time
Hail some gracious provision.

It’s not so much a debt we owe
Or tribute for posterity
As it is a virtue we receive
And reflect into eternity.

We deep-down know we are held
By sustaining, life-giving hands.
Not our own or on our own,
We belong and are lovingly borne.

We cannot utter such mystery--
Tradition and rite fall short.
But these, and we, can point and say
“Thanks” for life and grace today.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

LIFE IS A BANQUET. Today's "Daily Dig" from the bretheren at www.bruderhof.com is a quote from Dorothy Day:
"We cannot love God unless we love each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet, and life is a banquet too - even with a crust - where there is companionship. We have all known loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love, and that love comes with community." -- from The Long Loneliness

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

HELL, HEAVEN, & A BOWL OF SOUP. Hell, it is said, is a bowl of wonderful soup, six feet in diameter, around which people are gathered elbow to elbow. Each has been given a four-foot spoon with which to dip into the life-giving broth. But are all starving, for each one is trying desperately to feed himself and cannot bring the long spoon his mouth.

Heaven, it is said, is the same bowl of wonderful soup, six feet in diameter. The same four-foot spoons are in the hands of people standing elbow to elbow at its rim. But all are full and satisfied, for each is dipping her spoon into the soup and serving another across the bowl.

This is, to me, the essence of Thanksgiving.

THANKS FOR LAST THANKSGIVING. We visited Chris, Rachel, Elliot, and Jordan in Overland Park last Thanksgiving. This year we'll miss the great cookies Rachel bakes, along with the amazing stir fry Chris conjures up. Here's Sam with his Aunt Rachel on November 25, 2003.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

REMINDER: NO CONNECTIONS BETWEEN IRAQ & 9/11. As this war in Iraq drags on and on, and as more American troops are killed in the name of combating terrorism related to 9/11, it is important to remember:

  1. There are no connections between Iraq and the terrorist attack on 9/11.
  2. Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not harbor terrorists.
  3. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction nor the capacity to develop them.
  4. There were no tangible national security threats from Iraq to America or the world when the President of the United States declared war on Iraq.
  5. A policy of deterrence, surveillance, air policing, and international inspections had neutered Saddam Hussein as a menace to the world.
It seems to me that citizens should not let these facts be lost in the plethora of rationalizations and appeals to freedom and patriotism that continue to be fomented as a cover for a disastrous Presidential mistake. All the Bush Administration lies, half-truths, errors in judgment, and/or costly mistakes that led to war in Iraq must be confessed for the sake of moral credibility. Only then, it seems to me, can America begin to recover integrity on the global stage and bring ready resolution to the debacle in Iraq our leadership continues to call a "war on terror."

ARGENTINIAN TAKE ON AMERICA. Wondering if Argentinians had similar feelings to Brazilians (see previous blog), I asked a friend who has served in Latin America with the Peace Corps and who was recently in Argentina. Here is part of the reply:
"When I was in Argentina last month, a couple weeks before our election, what I got mostly was, 'How in the world can the election in your country be close given the fact that Bush is a lying war-monger?' I tried to explain to them the trauma our nation suffered from 9/11 and how people seemed to really want a strong leader who went after those who caused that problem, even if he was going after the wrong people."
My friend continues:

"I constantly felt the need to apologize to people for my nationality because of what Bush had done. They don't seem to hate Americans... they really want to like us and look to us as a beacon of hope as they had in the past, but under Bush, they just don't see us like they used to under any other Presidents before W. I tried to give them hope for our country at that time as I was quite confident that Kerry would win."

Monday, November 22, 2004

"AMERICANS LIKE WAR." Today I received an e-mail from a friend who relays a sobering reality:
"My wife, with four other clergywomen, returned from 10 days in Brazil, where they went for a combination continuing education/vacation trip. The number one question they were asked by Brazilians was: 'Why did Americans re-elect George Bush?' When Brazilians offered their own conjectures, the number one reason they gave is: 'Americans like war.' No joke. They were told this again and again."

YOU DON'T OWN ME. I'm thankful for the freedom of not being "owned." I wonder how many people narrow and orient the parameters of their lives to institutions which, for all practical purposes, own them? How many people labor under unspoken intimidations in the workplace or social context? Or, how many children chafe under unspoken intimidations for compliant behavior in their own household?

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. Freedom from imposed expectations and constant capitulation to the "golden nose ring" of promised advancement or a comfortable salary and benefits may carry a high price. I will say it: It does. But what of the price of compromised integrity? Or a lifetime of gathering creaturely comforts without having challenged the sins of one's generation or lived passionately toward the Kingdom?

FREE TO LOVE. My heart goes out to people who would rather suffer and struggle than to live satiated on a corporate, governmental, fraternal, or overbearing familial leash. More than that, I admire people who, having come to complete freedom, out of that freedom choose to sacrificially love and prophetically serve those very institutions and relationships.

ME AND MR. SUBWAY. In the cheap and cheesy department... I found this photo, taken a few Thanksgivings ago when Jared Fogle visited Horizon House and offered Subway sandwiches to our homeless neighbors. Jared seems to be an easy-going, likeable person. His story and life as walking billboard has been a lucrative for Subway.
HARVEST OF THE HEART. I found the following insight in Howard Thurman’s For the Inward Journey:
“Great and significant as is the harvest in nature, the most pertinent kind of ingathering of the human spirit is what I call ‘the harvest of the heart’... Living is a shared process. Inasmuch as I do not live or die unto myself, it is of the essence of wisdom for me conscientiously to live and die in the profound awareness of other people. The statement, ‘Know thyself,’ has been taken mystically from the statement, ‘Thou hast seen thy brother, thou hast seen thy God.’”

GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes. I was challenged to bring myself back to Thanksgiving, moved by Merton's take on "grace," and provoked by Wendell Berry's insights.

THANKSGIVING POETRY. I'm not satisfied with what I've read of the poetry on Thanksgiving. I want to write of it afresh. What's your favorite Thanksgiving poem?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

WILL THIS STOP THE VIOLENCE? The town's abuzz about Friday night’s melee between several Indiana Pacers players and fans at The Palace in Detroit. My take: Everyone loses big time when these things are allowed to occur without severe penalty. The NBA Commissioner meted out long-term suspensions…and our hometown club feels the impact the most. Or, maybe that would be the Pistons fans who got clobbered.

NOW, ABOUT THOSE FANS... Now, what about those alcohol-intoxicated fans who threw bottles and cups and whatever else they could find at the Pacers, Mr. Stern? You can control your employees, perhaps, but can you begin to control your customers' behavior? Do you set your players up for such unruly brawls by the amount of abuse you allow them to be subjected to by raucous fans? It seems you need to redefine the rules of etiquette in your places of lucrative hospitality.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

DO I HAVE THIS FAITH? Here's Eberhard Arnold, one of the founders of the Bruderhof communities; the statement is from 1928:
"We must win a faith that does not break down in the face of social ills, but that completely envelopes and transforms them – a faith that embraces economic problems and solves them. This means a faith that takes on all inner and outer tasks and makes them part of our daily life; it means faith in a God who created everything and provides for everything and who does not let go of any part of his will."
Read more of Arnold's vision at A vision for the future.
BASKET-BRAWL POLL. You can respond to an opinion poll at www.espn.com regading the "Basket-brawl" Friday night in Detroit. The poll has sharp questions. Responses thus far are pointed.

ALCOHOL: IGNITING FUEL. If you've been to a professional sporting event, you know the ungodly amount of alcohol that is consumed. This is the fuel that ignites mob behavior. Want better fans? For starters, stop serving alcohol after half-time.

DENIAL-FOR-DOLLARS. America has a major problem with alcohol in spectator sports. Friday night's melee between fans and players in Detroit is the tip of an unstable iceberg. And no amount of denial-for-dollars paid by the alcohol industry should stop every professional sports organization from addressing it directly and firmly.
MELEE IN DETROIT. I could hardly believe what I was seeing at the end of the Pacers-Pistons game at The Palace in Detroit last night. This fight between on-court players and Pacer players and Piston fans will be replayed endlessly over the next few days. It not only "doesn't look good" for the NBA, it is just about the worst-case scenario the league could have imagined. These players and fans have been watching too much WWF "Smackdown." No doubt fines, suspensions, security upgrades, and rules changes will result...and quickly. Set your stopwatch.

HOW WILL WE RESPOND? Watch and listen, also, for how people respond to this as violence.
  • Will Ben Wallace be excused for his two-handed shove in the face of Ron Artest after a hard foul?
  • Will Ronnie be justified or condemned for going into the stands to chase down a fan who threw a beer bottle at him as he lay on the official scorer's table trying to keep out of the shoving match between other players?
  • How will Stephen Jackson, who went into the stands with Artest with fists flying, be viewed?
  • Will fans be accused or excused for throwing cups and bottles and beer all over the Pacers? Will any of this be called for what it is?
  • What will be our take on the violence--no matter who is considered "at fault?"
Watch how we respond to this raw violence in our minds and hearts.

Friday, November 19, 2004

MY DAD IS 70 TODAY. Johnnie Franklin Hay, born in Albany, Kentucky on November 19, 1934, marks his 70th birthday today in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. This photo is with my niece Jamie at Christmas 2003. Hope you've enjoyed the day and keep looking forward, Dad. Happy birthday!
'TIS THE WEEK BEFORE THANKSGIVING. We don't count down the days to Thanksgiving like we do to Christmas. But we all know Thanksgiving marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. So, only six days! Got turkey?

Get ready to shift gears. You've already seen and sensed it at the superstores. I'm acutely aware of a quickening pace thru planning for Advent and Christmastide with the church. I'm way down the road and having to bring myself back to Thanksgiving. Be present to the day, the moment; tune into its unique grace.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

REMEMBER THIS TEXAN? Not the one from Crawford! The one from Austin! Just a reminder that there's less than eight months left until the 2005 Tour de France! And to say that today Lance Armstrong won the prestigious Velo d'Or award from France's Velo Magazine. It's the Academy Award of professional cycling. But will he contend for a seventh TdF win? Read his interview at Cyclingnews.

A DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD. The following is by Thomas Merton in Thoughts In Solitude:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my peril alone."

HOME AS MISSION BASE. I've been mulling over the shift in focus and life when family is considered a "mission base" instead of a sentimental center of meaning. Here's Rodney Clapp:

"We need a world bigger, richer, and tougher than that which can be created by a little family fixated on itself and its emotional coddling. We need a cause large and exciting enough that many people, not just a spouse and two or three children, can devote their lives to it. The kingdom of God moves us beyond home as a haven to home as a mission base." -- Rodney Clapp in Families at the Crossroads (InterVarsity, 1993)

WHEN TO BAPTIZE? At what age and under what circumstances should a young person be baptized into the Christian faith and community?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

THREE SISTERS, CIRCA 1965. In honor of Becky's forty-something birthday today, I post this picture of Rebecca, Ruth, and Rachel, circa 1965. Born a year apart, the Golay sisters must have been more than a handful of energy all together. Becky, the oldest, is on the left.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BECKY. Becky turns forty-something today. She's a lot of what keeps our family rolling. We'll find a way to honor her. Here's Becky at a footbridge on a trail deep in the forest at Brown County State Park in October.

BICYCLE POWER! Did you see the story in USA Today about protesters on bicycles? Apparently the mobility of a group of several thousand protesters on bicycles better serves their cause in close urban quarters. It also evades the designated, first-ammendment mocking "free speech zones" that have been employed over the past several years. Imagine...my bike and instrument of protest. It's not a "sit in," it's a...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I COMPLAINED...UNTIL... You know the phrase, "I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Well, how about: "I complained about Colin Powell until President Bush replaced him with Condoleezza Rice."

WASTED POLITICAL CAPITAL. My complaints about Powell were that he did not confront the Bush regime more frequently, more vehemently, more stridently than he did. I think he allowed himself to be used toward some very ungodly and ideals-negating ends. He should have resigned in protest two years ago. But he is apparently a "good soldier." Talk about "political capital" that has been wasted. But Powell's most influential days may be yet to come.

SOUTHERN CIRCLE. You can see Monument Circle (with lights strands in place for the upcoming holidays) about eight blocks north of the new "Southern Circle" monument at Meridan and South Streets in downtown Indianapolis.
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes, what I call "weekly fragments from the margins of a graced life." Read it at www.geocities.com/bikehiker. This week's contents include:
  • Wendell Berry comments to the Witherspoon Society
  • Family Recognitions
  • Veterans, War, and Dreams of Peace
  • We Are Told (a new original poem)
WE ARE TOLD. My most recent poem.

We are told
Coyly cajoled
To anticipate victory
Flags wave
We behave
As if it was meant to be
With every death
Gasping breath
Resolve is supposed to deepen
Till debt is paid
For every grave
We are chided not to weaken
It seems inane
Surely insane
To follow this logic through
We buy the lie
Exchange right
For a tough man’s stunted view
On battlefields
Clarity yields
To prior and distant choices
Ignoring wiser voices
Quagmire ensues
Still we choose
To pursue paths of violence
On it goes
Till who knows
So long as most keep silence

Monday, November 15, 2004

MOLLY HONORED BY WAYNE SCHOOL BOARD. This evening, Molly was honored for another year of straight A's by the Wayne Township School Board. She's received this honor from 3rd grade (when students are first eligible for it) through 7th grade. She's now in 8th grade. Congratulations, Molly!
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Jared, our son who is a junior at Ben Davis High School, was named "Defensive Player of the Year" by his peers and Coach Jim Copsey at the season-end sports banquet Sunday evening. Congratulations, Jared! We are proud of you. This follows his selection as an "Honorable Mention" in the Indianapolis Star's "All Metro Team" recognitions.
NOT JUST ANTI-WAR...PACIFIST. If you read much of this blog you will observe that I am anti-war (I spoke publicly on Indianapolis' Monument Circle in protest of the impending war with Iraq and published my speech online). But I'm not just anti-war, I am a pacifist (gotta problem with that!?! Ha!). I am pacifist because I take the Bible quite seriously, particularly regarding the words of Jesus, the pattern of living Jesus demonstrated, and the ethic Jesus guided his earliest followers to observe. As a Christian I am called to square my life with the Kingdom of God, not with the kingdoms of men and mammon.

CAN'T SERVE TWO KINGDOMS. Most Christians I know live as if the two kingdoms are compatible or at least non-conflicting most of the time. I disagree. Jesus was clear: "You cannot serve God and mammon." And while I "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" in terms of due taxes and routine citizen responsibilities, I will, for conscience' and Kingdom's sake, not do violence. Think about it: What will you--for the sake of Jesus and the Kingdom--NOT approve of or do?

HOMELESS OUTREACH. Bruce and Chris (a family friend) are two members of the Horizon Homeless Outreach Team who hit Indy's streets most nights to offer assistance and information to homeless neighbors. Please pray for these guys...and our homeless neighbors as winter approaches.

"MY LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT." My letter writing effort to President George W. Bush has been recognized as a "Best of Geocities" site for politics and government. Cool. I've been writing and posting letters to President Bush off and on during his first term. My site is "My Letters to the President of the United States".
SILENT ON AMERICAN ARROGANCE. This is the fifth moral issue on which those who targeted moral issues during the recent election remained silent:

Those who were morally bold during the election campaign were curiously silent about the growing world-wide concern for American arrogance. It isn’t just the “go it alone” approach to combating terrorism, it’s the “we’re right and you’re wrong,” “we’ll define the reality you will live with,” “we can, so we will,” and “who needs them?” words, actions, and policies that are being perpetrated around the world by our government. “Empire” is a word now frequently used by both allies and enemies. Our President says he has “political capital” to spend at home, but American actions over the past four years have placed our nation in major “international diplomatic deficit” and “goodwill liability.”

Read all five moral issues at www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

SILENT ON PURPOSEFUL MISINFORMATION ABOUT IRAQ. This the fourth overlooked moral issue for which there was an uneasy silence from religious groups during the election campaign:
Over the past year it has become clear that governmental leaders deliberately used discredited intelligence and questionable sources, and employed pressure tactics on its own agencies, to concoct a distorted scenario regarding Iraq to justify war to the United Nations, Congress, and the American public. It is has become increasingly clear that the major rationales used to attack Iraq were illegitimate and misleading at best and deceptive half-truths and lies at worst.

There are no links between the attack on the World Trade Center and Iraq. There is no evidence terrorists were being trained in Iraq. Not only has no evidence of weapons of mass destruction been found in Iraq, it is now clear the regime did not even have the capacity to develop them. Have there been any calls from the morally bold for accountability? For full disclosure? For honesty? For a corrected course based on truth?

To read all five moral issues go to www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html

Friday, November 12, 2004

A NEW CROP OF HOMELESS VETERANS. There was an excellent story on ABC's Nightline last night regarding homeless Veterans. I've worked with homeless vets for years. Just when we were getting most of the Vietnam-era Vets connected with counseling, housing, and the costly, life-long resources that are necessary for ones whose minds, emotions, bodies, and souls have been ravaged by war, America starts breeding a new crop soon-to-be homeless Vets. It doesn't take years for Vets returning from doing our government's dirty work to show up in soup lines and missions; think in terms of months. It takes many years, however, to overcome what a few months in front-line action can do.
NOT ALL WARS ARE EQUAL. Not all wars are equal. I'd say that vast majority are not really necessary. The current war in Iraq is a good example of an unnecessary war.

YOU FIGURE IT OUT. You might not realize this: I take the Bible quite seriously as revealing authoritatively the Word of God. I try to keep in step with the Holy Spirit at work in my heart and follow the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I believe Jesus' declarations about the Kingdom of God and have set my heart and will to live as if that it the way things are supposed to be. I do not use alcohol and discourage its use in society. I take the Ten Commandments literally. I'm against abortion as well as capital punishment and militarism. If we talk about stealing we have to talk about corporate and international business fraud. I am evangelically Christian, but not a fundamentalist. Go figure.
ART'S PROMISE AND POWER. Yesterday it occurred to me (or at least resurfaced within me) that a way to reveal the hollow way of mammon and violence, and to simultaneously bring light to grace and peace, is through arts and literature. Political partisanship is getting us nowhere. The evangelical church is losing its witness amid partisanship, just as mainline communities of faith lost theirs a generation ago. But art--the written word, the dramatized situation, the song lifted, and the vision graphically cast--has more power to delegitimate war and cumber, and to bring the possibility of grace into our lives than the currently prevailing methods of choice.
SILENT ON A MAMMON SPIRIT IN THE LAND. This is the third moral issue for which there was an uneasy silence during the recent election:

Candidates of all stripes played flagrantly to the mammon spirit that is now a pervasive scourge on our land. So consumed are Americans by consumerism and self-advancement that we think better of any candidate who--at whatever cost to others, the fabric of society, the workplace, or the stability of the world--promises to relieve our tax share and increase personal wealth. A care-less, bullying aggression in the local and world marketplace has been raised to the level of patriotism and a religious duty. The god that is now served most dutifully in America is Free Market. Yet the “morally bold” remain mute.

Read five moral issues that were not put "in play" by religious conservatives during the recent election.

WAR FINDS A WAY. War always finds some twisted way to justify its own necessity. Once engaged, it plants its gruesome seed then argues for its rebirth in every generation. War is self-perpetuating; few generations can resist it.
WAR GAMES? War games: now there's an oxymoron to contemplate.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

THE WAY IT WAS. This 1918 painting by Frank Schoonover (click on this or any photo on my blog to see a larger view) depicts infantry action during World War I. "The Great War" resulted in over 37.5 million casualities -- men killed or injured -- on all sides. The world's governments would send millions of youth to similar battlefields again in less than 25 years.
ARMISTICE DAY - 86 YEARS LATER. Today is the 86th anniversary of Armistice Day, the day Germany surrendered, ending "The Great War." We now observe November 11 as Veterans Day. At least 8,538,315 soldiers died in World War I; there were 37,508,686 total casualties, or 57.6% of all troops deployed by ally and axis forces. I found numerous poems in tribute to those fallen in World War I, but chose the following, called "For Remembrance" by Basil Ebers, to post:

What is it, O dear Country of our pride,
We pledge anew that we will not forget?
To keep on Freedom's altar burning yet
The fires for which a myriad heroes died
Known and unknown, beyond the far sea's tide
That their great gift be no futility.

Faith with the Dead kept through our living faith;
In this alone the true remembrance lies,
The unfading garland for the sacrifice,
To prove their dream of Brotherhood no wraith,
No moment's hope--its birth-pang one with death--
but the fixed goal of our humanity.

HONOR THE WAR DEAD, NOT WAR. A fine line it is, but oh so critical that it be observed and guarded. The line--almost imperceptible when enflamed with hatred toward enemies or drunk with hard-fought victory--will glorify or condemn us. It is the line between honoring the war dead and war itself.

NEVER DREAM OF ITS VIOLENCE. Honor with reverence those men and women who died in battle. Weep and mourn for civilians cruelly caught in the strife. Give due respect for lives laid down in the name of freedom. But never glory in war. Never embrace its horrors. Never savor its torments. Never dream of its violence. Never drink to its return. Never gaze upon its power, lest its illusion seduce you. Lest war lust obsess you. Lest its siren sound lure you into its labyrinthine bowels and you swear allegiance to it, live for it, and your soul die even as you breathe.

OUR GIRLS. Abby and Molly's faces shine in the evening light just outside Kelly Prayer Chapel at ONU. Five years separate them. Five years separate Jared and Sam, too.
SILENT ON WAR AND VIOLENCE. This is the second moral issue for which there was an uneasy silence from conservative religious election organizers last week:
I did not hear any moral-issue candidate or evangelical leader even second-guess the Bush doctrine of “pre-emptive war.” No Christian voter’s guide challenged this historically unprecedented “strike first” policy that was immediately used to justify the American-led attack on Iraq. I have not seen morally-bold evangelicals and Catholics in any official capacity denounce war or violence in the past four years. And yet Jesus’ witness and instructions could not be more clear regarding the rejection of such violence and militarism for his followers and church.
Read all five moral issues at www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

SILENT ON POVERTY. This the first of the "Five Moral Issues" not addressed by the "morally bold" during the election campaign:
I did not hear any moral-issue candidate or evangelical leader mention concern for the poor, the specter of structural poverty in America and the world, or the devastating personal and household impact of the lack of basic health insurance for millions of Americans. The suffering and belittled people who Jesus invested the majority of his life in were bypassed on the road to Jericho.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

THE SEVEN DEADLY SOCIAL SINS. Mahatma Gandhi is attributed with articulating this adaptation of the traditional "seven deadly sins." The Seven Deadly Social Sins are:
  • politics without principle
  • wealth without work
  • commerce without morality
  • pleasure without conscience
  • education without character
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's Grace Notes (a few days late). Contents include:
  • A Few Reflections on My Family
  • The Seven Deadly Social Sins Revisited
  • A Lament: Uneasy Silence on Five Moral Issues
Grace Notes is my weekly e-journal written "from the margins" of my life. You can receive it weekly via e-mail just by asking me.

Monday, November 8, 2004

ALL OF US...FOR A DAY. This is the Hay family at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois ("the summer home of the Chicago Bears"), where Abby is Freshman. The six of us were able spend a day together on Saturday.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. I'm looking forward to attending the Monday Night Football game this evening at the RCA Dome. I've been invited by a parishioner who has season tickets. Should be an interesting spectator sports adventure for me. I usually fall asleep before the second half of Monday Night Football on TV. But tonight's match-up between the Colts and the Vikings could be a scoring spree. Manning and Culpepper are two of the leading passers in the NFL. Sounds like fun.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

FROM BOURBONNAIS, ILLINOIS. I'm blogging from Bourbonnais, Illinois, home of my college alma mater. It's homecoming weekend and we are visiting Abby at Olivet Nazarene University. Had a cold but sunny bike ride this morning; I got in about 20 miles. Watched Abby and Molly run in a homecoming 5 K. They won trophies and coupons. Yeah! I'm working on Sunday's service and sermon ("The Giving Life"). I'm also working on an article for next week's Grace Notes: "Five Moral Issues Evangelicals Voted Against." Stay tuned.

Friday, November 5, 2004

JARED RECEIVES SOCCER HONOR. Jared received "Honorable Mention" as a Junior in the Indianapolis Star's All West Soccer Team awards. Atta boy, Jared! An ironic twist: Jared, a defensive marksman, held the "Player of the Year," Shawn Towles, scoreless in Ben Davis' sectional match-up with Covenant Christian. Gotta take satisfaction in your accomplishment, Jared. We're proud of you!
TO BE PEACEMAKERS. Johann Christof Arnold of The Bruderhof posted a concise response to the election, something all Christians would do well to take to heart in the days ahead:

"Whether we are saddened or elated by the prospect of another four years, now is not the time for depression or gloating. Jesus called on his followers to be peacemakers, and told them that they would be called the sons of God. This promise still exists for us today. These are simple but powerful words. If they worked in Christ’s time, why shouldn't they work today as we struggle to rid the world of terror? It is easy to pay our taxes, abide by the rule of law, and otherwise dutifully give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But what about the second half of that commandment? In the end, only when we each become a peacemaker will we achieve the unity that politicians of all stripes are fond of giving lip service to."

Thursday, November 4, 2004

MANDATE? WHAT MANDATE? Last time I checked, a majority of Americans still believe the war in Iraq is a bad idea. Last time I checked, most Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Didn't 49% of American citizens who bothered to wait through lines and vote on November 2nd cast a ballot against the George W. Bush regime? How can this be called a "mandate" by the Bush Administration? Maybe I'm missing something.
MY FIRST POST-ELECTION REFLECTION. The election is over. The meaning of victory and assessment of defeat is in full swing. Some talk of mandates. Others commiserate about falling just short again. The buzz is the "moral issues" impact on the vote. But to talk about moral issues, we must talk about all moral issues. If one draws the circle of moral issues only around abortion and gay marriage, one has drawn the circle too narrow for the Bible. Biblically, morality includes, among many other personal and community concerns, honesty, poverty, war, killing, and greed. I didn't hear the winning side include these moral issues in their ads or rhetoric.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

ANOTHER ELECTION-DAY RHYME. The Washington Post posted my earlier election-day ode, but this one didn't make the cut:
Election-day anxiety
Crucible of society
“Morality” one side prays
The other to end Bush days

"SEVEN CONSIDERATIONS" INCLUDED IN SOJOURNERS. I am pleased to offer this link to the Sojourners web page that posts my "Seven Considerations I Make When Voting." The piece is also included in Sojourners' weekly "Sojo Mail" that was sent out today. I'm honored.
ODE ON A PAPER BALLOT. After my experience at the poll this morning, I wrote the following "Ode On a Paper Ballot" and submitted it to the Washington Post's "Election-Day Odes" online forum.
I went to the poll to vote
And it really got my goat
To get a paper ballot--
“Mark darkly to be valid”--
Instead of a machine
That makes the process clean.
I strayed outside the oval,
Considered starting over,
But walked away just wondering
How many would be blundering?

A SECOND GENERATION OF HAY VOTERS. Abby, a Freshman at Olivet Nazarene University and member of the women's soccer team, registered and voted by absentee ballot. She plays in an NAIA playoff game in Iowa today. Good luck, Abby!
I VOTED AT 6:08 AM. I just returned from voting in Wayne Township Precinct #81 at McClelland Elementary School. I was there before 6:00 am and there were 25 people ahead of me and a longer line by the time I marked my ballot. I talked to some neighbors and two parishioners. All four of my children have attended McClelland, which is within walking distance of our house. Having voted at McClelland in every municipal, primary, and major election for 10 years, I am familiar with the place and people who volunteer at the polls.

PAPER BALLOT. Instead of a voting machine, as in all past elections at the McClelland polling place, I marked a paper ballot and then submitted it into a fax-type machine. I didn't see if it was manufactured by "Diebold."

REINTRODUCING HUMAN ERROR. For the first time I can recall, I wondered whether or not my mark on the ballot was correct, whether my vote would be rejected if I marked outside the lines of the little oval at all or if I didn't mark it dark enough. I wondered about people with unsteady hands--would their ballot be validated? Seems like we've gone backward; we've reintroduced a factor of human error at our polling place that wasn't there in 2000.
VOTING CONSIDERATION #7: AMERICA'S ROLE IN THE WORLD. Finally, when I vote I consider how candidates envision America’s place and role in the world. I am very concerned, as are many Christian missionaries, about an emerging aura of “empire” or pax americana that American actions are foretelling. In what appears to me as outright hegemony, we flex our muscles and other people must cow tow to our might or else be cut off (or receive reduced support or be left to fend for themselves against their enemies). Simultaneously, goodwill toward America appears to be dissipating around the world. In more places Americans are deeply resented, hated, and threatened like never before. This is making it more difficult for Christian missionaries, particularly those from the United States, to convey a trans-national gospel. Is it not also making it more difficult to develop congenial commercial markets?

Monday, November 1, 2004

IS TONIGHT THE REAL HALLOWEEN? Last night's scariest antics are child's play compared to the get-out-the-vote phone calls that will screech tonight. Each party will be trying to scare the wits out of any apathetic registered voter with "what if" scenarios. Republicans have conservative Christians scared to death over gay marriage. Democrats have folks cringing over the prospect of four more years of W. I overheard someone earlier today describe this election as the "beginning of the end...depending on on the outcome." Pleeeeez! And zombies will rise to stalk us all if the right man doesn't win. Give me a break!
ON WHAT WILL YOU BASE YOUR VOTE? See the seven considerations I make when voting...and as I try to live as an engaged citizen and conscientious Christian between elections.
I DARE TO THINK FOR MYSELF. To whom it may concern: I dare to think for myself. I could care less what the "official" evangelical political positions are. God is not a Republican...or a Democrat. As far as I am concerned, the evangelical church is in critical danger of its witness being co-opted by political interests. It is a matter as dire as Satan masquerading as an angel of light. I will take my risks outside evangelical groupthink. Save your advice.

DOWNTOWN INDY. Looking east from the south side of the Indiana State Capitol, you can see the ArtsGarden spanning Washington and Illinois Streets. You gotta love Indy.
GRACE NOTES POSTED. Earlier this morning I posted by "weekly fragments from the margins of a graced life" at the freebie Geocities site I've maintained for about five years: www.geocities.com/bikehiker. This week's contents:
  • Election Hymn
  • Seven Considerations I Make When Voting
  • Lighter Fare

Let me know if you'd like to receive Grace Notes as a weekly e-mail.

DARE TO DECIDE. Today's Daily Dig from the folks at www.bruderhof.com is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard (in Provocations):
"There is something about life that, little by little, makes us forget all that is good. This can happen to anyone...and so we must look for a cure against it. Praise be that such a cure exists: the act of quietly making a decision. A decision stirs the mind from the slumber of monotony. A decision breaks the magic spell of custom and the long row of weary thoughts. A decision will bring blessings upon even the weakest beginning. A decision is an awakening to the eternal."

VOTING CONSIDERATION #6: THE USE OF VIOLENCE. I ask “How has a candidate responded to violence or used violence? And how does he/she plan to respond to and use it in the future?” Life is precious and killing (in the womb, by slowly suffocating neglect, or on the battlefield) has devastating consequences even when “good” results. We also know “violence begets more violence,” the spiral increasing in intensity and breadth every time is it used even “justifiably.” The measured use of deadly force and the threat of the use of deadly force is, to me, a very high concern in this election. Will the candidate use this awful power responsibly and with an eye to ending violence by the hands of Americans? How will he or she influence regimes to abandon nuclear weapons programs? Will the candidate lead, not so much by violence, but with the winning power of personal influence and persuasion? Read all seven considerations I make when voting.