Saturday, March 07, 2009

My baby

Now to get the next round of crtitiques and move forward.

Got the book copied, the car serviced, and one copy comb-bound.

I think it's time to lie down and prop up my leg again.

Maybe even a nap. (Yes, +Maya, I am a very wayward son of the church but I try to heed your advice.)
--the BB

Saturday in Lent 1

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John’— although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’
John 4:1-26
Sister Mahalia will now sing for us.

Two quick things:

I have an abiding fondness and respect for Mahalia Jackson. I shared this story here before, I am sure, but will do so again. When the First Baptist Church of Fresno had just finished building its new sanctuary and was about to have its first service, a fire gutted it. That same night Ms. Jackson was performing in Fresno. She donated her proceeds to help us rebuild. I was not even a teenager yet but I certainly had a sense that Mahalia Jackson was the kind of Christian I wanted to be. Eternal blessings upon her.

In the Gospel appointed for the Office today it struck me that both Jesus and the Samaritan woman were thirsty and gave each other to drink. I like the mutuality of that.

OK, a third, and not quick:

I am having a lot of trouble with the passages from Deuteronomy. I read them with a very jaundiced perspective. I took an entire course on Deuteronomy in seminary and we dug for all the really good stuff in the book, which is there. Still, right now, I'm stuck and find little to uplift me, even in the most familiar passages. The deuteronomic theology of blessing and curse is problematic.

While I do believe that blessings accrue from aligning our whole being with God and consequence (curses) follow from not doing so, I cannot accept this in any mechanistic or simplistic way and the reality attested elsewhere in the Bible is that God's blessings are showered indiscriminately (may we assume "curses" are also indiscriminate?).

The whole dispossessing others and taking the land as God's gift to you is the source of so much human misery in the centuries before and after that I simply cannot stomach it. The best I can come up with is that it is self-justification leavened with a theology that says "you get it but you didn't earn it and don't deserve it, so be grateful and humble."

The winds today, as usual, blow the sand (and everything else) about. It seems to me like an arid Lent this year. That is all right. I believe in the promise of Resurrection.

O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Friday, March 06, 2009

Too convenient by half - Updated with prayers

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was killed in a car wreck, senior officials with his party told CNN Friday.

Tsvangirai was injured along with an aide and the car's driver in the head-on collision with a large truck, according to Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi.

The extent of their injuries is not clear.
This does not bode well. I am reminded of the "accident" that took the life of Archbishop Luwum in Uganda years ago.

Pray for Mr. Tsvangirai and for the people of Zimbabwe.

Here are some prayers I found online.

Prayer for the People of Zimbabwe

We pray for the suffering people of Zimbabwe,
Forced to live amid deterioration, disease and despair.
We raise our voices on their behalf,
As truth-tellers we want to proclaim 'This is not good',
It is not how God desires our world to be.
Loving Father, look after the people of that sad but beautiful land,
Care for the little ones,
Comfort the dying ones,
And into this hour of darkness may the light of your new dawn begin to shine.

Prayer from All Africa Conference of Churches

* Pray for the church in Zimbabwe that it takes its appropriate role in responding to the needs of the people.
* Pray for the formation of a government that will ensure delivery of services to the people of Zimbabwe.
* Pray that the food supplies reach the dying people in remote Zimbabwe and that there be enough food for everybody.
* Pray that medical supplies are made available to all areas of the country and save threatened life.
* Pray that there be unity, tolerance, love and mutual respect among all Zimbabweans regardless of political differences.
* Pray that the Lord may have mercy on Zimbabwe and give enough rains for a good harvest which will result in the restoration of human dignity, respect and recognition.
* Pray that Christians worldwide may be inspired by the Spirit to remain in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe until the end of crisis.
* Pray that the faith of Christians in Zimbabwe may be made stronger by their suffering so that in hope they retain their joy and commitment to Christ.
* Pray that the resources being extracted from Zimbabwe may benefit the whole nation including the poor rather than individuals.
* Pray that God may change the hearts of those who do not put the interests of the people but think of themselves as more important than others.
* Pray that the will of God may be done.

--the BB


Specialist Simone A. Robinson, was hurt when a suicide bomber's vehicle detonated near her security post on January 17th in Kabul, Afghanistan. Some details of the tragedy were discussed in an article about the new president’s chat with Illinois National Guard troops in Afghanistan via a live TV broadcast from Washington DC.

Robinson was taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and later was taken to San Antonio, Texas for treatment. On March 1st, 21-year-old Specialist Simone A. Robinson died at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, from the wounds suffered in Afghanistan.

Specialist Simone A. Robinson is survived by her 2-year-old daughter, Nyzia, her parents and a sister.

May she rest in peace....

Though I show the tally, they are never numbers.
--the BB

Of making many books there is no end - UPDATED

But sometimes there is a pausing point.

My first novel, of which the first draft was completed a year and a half ago, needs some work. So I have been revising it, though this project was laid aside during the whole New Orleans episode.

It is also a sprawling tale on a broad canvas. After all, it is setting the stage for the books that follow and I am creating a parallel world.

So I am splitting it into two books.

Today I finished the revision through the first book and tonight I am printing it up.

I believe the harder part will be the second half, which is far more about the interior journey than the exterior one. There is a challenge in maintaining a strong story arc without the prop of action, and the second half has less action than the first. Anyway, today was one of the milestone days in the journey of getting these stories into words and onto paper.

What else is a fella to do when he has to keep his leg propped up? Watch TV and ingest calories? Yeah, I do some of that too.

Some time and two ink cartridges later it is printed: all 338 pages of it. Sword and sorcery with non-mawkish theological underpinnings. Were I and the day both younger I might be doing a happy dance right now.

--the BB

Heart thread - 03/06/2009

Susankay writes:
Paul -- It turned out that the good news about Andrew, my rector's, wife's breast cancer was somewhat premature. Extended pathology work indicates that the margins were not clean and the form of cancer may be more aggressive than first thought. And Andrew's father has been back in and out of the hospital again this week as well. Prayers please for Andrew, Terri and Frank (Andrew's dad).
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servants, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that they may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday in the First Week of Lent

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

Just after reminding the Israelites that they were special and chosen, Moses goes on to say that God is not partial and loves strangers and the chosen must love strangers too. Strangers are also translated as sojourners and resident aliens.

There is a lot of heated rhetoric about aliens in the United States. While social and legal issues need to be discussed openly and honestly, most of what one hears is thinly veiled xenophobia and racism. A lot of nativist sentiment is abroad in the land (ironic, since we are mostly a nation of immigrant roots).

It seems that the passage cited above, and many like it, are rarely invoked in the discussion. Pity.

I reproduce the Collect of the Day with the proviso that I understand flesh (in the Pauline sense) to be that which opposes itself to God and not as the body. I reject spirit-matter dualism. Yin and yang are complements, not oppositional.

Lord Christ, our eternal Redeemer, grant us such fellowship in your sufferings, that, filled with your Holy Spirit, we may subdue the flesh to the spirit, and the spirit to you, and at the last attain to the glory of your resurrection; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Progress - UPDATED

Mimi asked how I was feeling, so here's the current scoop. My leg is still swollen and tender to the touch but it no longer hurts when I stand and put weight on it. My lungs and voice feel fine at the moment, though yesterday I was still rather squeaky. I am suffering cabin fever and tired of elevating my leg.

Thanks for all the love and prayers.

I also got an update from my niece on the twins:
Katie and Jeremy's twins were born yesterday. 26 weeks and 1 day, for those of you who haven't already gotten the vital stats; Clara Elizabeth born first at 4:55 weighed 2 pounds even and Olivia Marie born at 4:57 weighed 1pound 7 ounces. The babies were transferred yesterday afternoon to Stanford Medical Center where they will stay for a few weeks of growing and then hopefully back to Community for the final weeks of 'feeder-grower'. Katie is doing great and will most likely be released late this evening.
Plans now are for Tim and I to take the RV to Palo Alto as a 'rest stop' for Jeremy, Katie and the family. Jeremy and Katie will spend the night at home and travel to Stanford on Friday. Katie's parents are also going to Stanford on Friday with a brief layover in Lodi.

Continue to pray for the babies and family...
You can see photos of the babies and parents (and the transport team) at Hoff Hoopla.
--the BB

Yesterday evening

When I got home I took a few photos. Here is the Methley plum (in the shadows) just to show you the blossoms.

Sunset viewed from my bedroom window.

Today we have the spring winds. I noticed everything in the garden swaying in the wind earlier. Then, much later in the day, I remembered that since the garbage and recycling folks had come by it was time to bring in my bins. Since a garbage bin had once blown who knows where, I was hoping I could retrieve them.

Sure enough, bins had been blown over and traveled about the street. I searched for the distinctive marks of mine with no luck. Then I turned to look back up the street and realized a very kind neighbor had brought mine from the curb and parked them next to my garage. When I exited the garage I was not looking immediately to my side and thus had missed them.

The winds continue to howl, throwing up dust and letting me know the dust storm season is now here. Not my favorite time in Albuquerque, but part of the admission price.
--the BB

The story that keeps unfolding

Marcy has another great post up discussing DOJ memos and their implications.
We didn't know it at the time, but in 2001, Bush asked for broad powers to use the military in the US. But the Bush Administration knew it. They knew that the legislative intent of the AUMF specifically stopped short of letting them use military power in the US. And that prevented them from doing some things they wanted to do.
Which is where some of the memos come in.
Warrantless wiretapping under NSA, of course, is part of DOD and as such military. And the memo to Kris--which ostensibly only authorized the sharing of intelligence with law enforcement and vice versa--had the effect of blurring the lines between law enforcement and intelligence. So with this memo--sent to Alberto Gonzales and Jim Haynes but probably compartmented from people in DOJ whose eyes would pop at this reasoning--takes the blurred lines created in the Kris memo and blurred them much, much further.

And who needs judges anyway?
In our view, however well suited the warrant and probable cause requirements may be as applied to criminal investigations or to other law enforcement activities, they are unsuited to the demands of wartime and the military necessity to successfully prosecute a war against an enemy. (John Yoo)
It just gets scarier and scarier.

I have long maintained that we were in the process of losing our constitutional democracy with Bush in the White House. What troubles me is how this does not seem to matter to most people. As more evidence emerges it is increasingly clear that those of us deemed "shrill" were not deluded nor - save emotional venting - were we exaggerating the danger.

Check out the whole post at emptywheel.
--the BB

Jon Stewart exposes Wall Street and CNBC

We have some entertaining and educational viewing for you. Stewart and crew go for the jugular. Enjoy.

h/t to Al Rodgers for the clips and to Edgewater Joe for bringing last night's show to my attention.

--the BB

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The California Supreme Court hears the case tomorrow

Video courtesy of Susan Russell

Susan also informs us that 'Both the Assembly and the Senate considered identical resolutions, which stated that the Legislature "opposes Proposition 8 because it is an improper revision, not an amendment, of the California Constitution."'

Pray for all the minorities of California and for the upholding of fundamental constitutional principles.
--the BB

Paper ballots and only paper ballots

I know I may sound like a techno-Luddite on this matter. I don't care. We need to be able to verify that our elections are sound and every legitimate vote counted. You cannot do that with electronic voting machines. That they are hackable has been demonstrated repeatedly. They can also be programmed to commit election fraud (not saying they have been, but they can be).

Now, check out this bit of news:
Following three months of investigation, California's secretary of state has released a report examining why a voting system made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold) lost about 200 ballots in Humboldt County during the November presidential election.

But the most startling information in the state's 13-page report (.pdf) is not about why the system lost votes, which Threat Level previously covered in detail, but that some versions of Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (GEMS), include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system.

Thanks to Raw Story (by way of Dependable Renegade)

--the BB

Turdblossom and Harriet to Testify

(Susan S. can assist the bowdler-dyslexic with this.)

I just read this at emptywheel:
In an agreement reached today between the former Bush Administration and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury. The Committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers. It was agreed that invocations of official privileges would be significantly limited.
You may read more here.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And about fracking time.
--the BB

Wednesday in Lent 1

The thought that one might have a blood clot in one's leg, and knowledge of what that can lead to, works better than ashes to remind one of one's own mortality. At least that has been my experience in the last twenty-four hours. I didn't really think: this is it. But one cannot avoid the niggling thought that this might be it.

I try to sleep far from the phone. While I have the capacity for phones in at least six rooms of my house I limit it to the kitchen downstairs and my office upstairs. My heart races too quickly if a phone rings beside my bed, thank you very much. And it's just unpleasant. But last night I had the cell phone charging right next to the bed just in case I needed to call 911.

Pfaugh! I don't like living that way. Still, it would have been imprudent to have had the nearest phone across the hall.

Today I know the relief of someone who gets negative test results. It is NOT that which you feared. So even though I have a nasty infection, it's overwhelmingly likely to respond well to the meds and I expect to be fine.

Psalm 49 reminds us all that rich or poor, wise or fool, none of us lives forever.

Psalm 49:16-17 (BCP)

More sobering stuff, though encouraging if it reminds us all that we expend way too much energy pursuing illusions. There is the familiar saying (with many variants) that "he who dies with the most stuff wins." What irony. No matter how much stuff you had, you're still dead and now it means nothing.

We clearly need reordering of our priorities. Again and again.

Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. (John 3.3)

Talk about reordering! We know what it is to be born from below. But this "from above" stuff? How does that work? Nicodemus wondered and - two millennia of theological pondering later - we still can't pin it down. We can't pin down the Spirit. Just doesn't work.

Here's to new birth. Birth from above. Turning around. Renewed and reordered priorities, priorities that have been purified and seasoned with grace.

May we pursue what is truly worthwhile.

Bless us, O God, in this holy season, in which our hearts seek your help and healing; and so purify us by your discipline that we may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Jerry Brown explains why Prop 8 should be struck down

California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown puts forth an argument that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and draws a parallel with an earlier proposition in 1954 that "would have legalized racial discrimination in the selling or renting of housing. Both the California and U.S. Supreme Courts struck down this proposition, concluding that it amounted to an unconstitutional denial of rights."

He notes:
Fundamental rights in California are recognized and protected by our constitution, which declares in Article I, Section 1 that "all people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights" and "among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."


In 2008, the California Supreme Court was faced with the question of how the values enshrined in Article I apply to same sex marriages. It concluded that the concept of "liberty" includes the right to form the enduring relationship called marriage and that no compelling interest justified denying this right to same sex couples. Just like the right to be free from discrimination in housing, citizens have the right to be free from discrimination in state-granted marriage licenses.
If rights are inalienable, ballot propositions cannot take them away.

Pray for the hearings at the California Supreme Court that begin tomorrow.
--the BB

The Dictatorship

You are THIS CLOSE to being disappeared.

As more and more secret memos come to light some folks are drawing a conclusion that I suspect is essentially right. Which should cause us all to soil our pants.

Scott Horton:
We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.
Jack Balkin:
This theory of presidential power argues, in essence, that when the President acts in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, he may make his own rules and cannot be bound by Congressional laws to the contrary. This is a theory of presidential dictatorship.

h/t to mcjoan's post "The OLC Memos and State Secrets"

We have no idea how close we have come to losing our constitutional democracy. Remember: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

--the BB

No blood clot

I very much appreciate all the prayers and kind words from all around the world. I feel very blessed and loved.

Now that we know it's just an infection that is already being fought I am heaving sighs of relief. Onward!

--the BB

Heart thread - 03/04/2009 - UPDATED

We need to keep pulling for Ian, Lisa's hubby, who is gravely ill, and for frantic Lisa:
I awoke this morning at 7am when my alarm went off, and at 7:05am I phoned the hospital, because those five minutes were such a long wait I couldn't hang on any longer. They told me that Ian's urine output had stopped during the night because his kidneys had shut down and so they had put him on dialysis. Apart from that there weren't any other real changes.

I have never been so scared in my entire life. He is my soul mate, my best friend, my hero. I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for him, and the thought of losing him is too much to contemplate. To think that almost a month ago he was complaining of an aching leg, and that it could lead to this, is terrifying. I need him to get well, I need him home with me. I love him with all my heart and right now I don't feel I can live without him.

--Lisa's post at Rantings

And from my family front, Katie and Jeremy's babies ventured forth into the outside world today. Here is word from my sister (Jannita is Jeremy's mom):
Jannita called me at 4 a.m., the babies are coming! She just called again, they are here! One is bigger than they expect for 26 weeks and the other is smaller. She hasn't seen them yet but will call when she knows more!
Jannita is a pediatric intensive care nurse so I know they will get the best care. But this is such an early start I know they will need continued prayer.

This news came from my sister while I was off at the doc's:
Clara Elizabeth is 2 pounds Olivia Marie is 1 pound 7 oz. Getting a ride to [San Francisco] before noon. Dr. said if they were his babies, that is where he would want them.
Now we can pray for the babies by name.

This is a photo before the babies came. Katie's mom put it up on the blog and called it "Date night for Katie and Jeremy." This was the blurb:
Jeremy and Katie are staring at the four walls but enjoying each other's company. Today is 26 weeks. Hurrah! I didn't know time could move so slowly. We had a relatively calm day.

She is on a constant IV of magnesium, which is constantly being adjusted. It can really knock her socks off. She still has a good appetite but is not fond of hospital food. She is on the Jeremy diet-pizza, grilled cheese and chicken strips. We provide her with plenty of fresh fruit and salads. Her fluids are restricted so she dreams of 32 ounce big gulps. Thank you for your prayers. By the way, do you like Jeremy's chair?

Mimi has an update from Roseann:
Well, things are up and down as usual. UAMS called me at 8:30 last night and said they would not put me on the transplant list. Apparently I have too many other health issues to resolve before they will put me on the list. So, I will just keep moving forward step by step. First up is the cervical biopsy and I'm having that Tuesday. Next will be the breast biopsy and I'm really not worried about that.

Emotionally I am okay at the moment. I was a wreck after getting the phone call but Gary talked to Dr Kimball and we're just going to keep moving.

THE GOOD NEWS is my donor is compatible so far. He is still willing and will wait this out with me.

Please continue to pray for Roseann and her husband, Gary. She added:

Mimi, thanks for the encouraging note. I appreciate your posts for and about me. It helps me feel the prayers. Love & peace, Roseann

I went to bed early last night, feeling upheld and surrounded by prayer. I am off for my doppler right now.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Holding the good guys accountable in order to hold the bad guys accountable

Senator Leahy is one of the good guys in my book. But buhdydharma is urging others to join in letting Senator Leahy know that we will be watching and if a Truth Commission shoves information related to torture under the rug we will all be watching and holding him accountable.

I agree that we already know enough to prosecute, but nobody in a position to demand a special prosecuter has the ovaries to do it.

--the BB

Les pido rezos por mí - updated (2x)

I already told you about my suspected bronchitis. For that I made an appointment tomorrow. But something else was going on with my body yesterday afternoon and I saw the doc today. My laryngitis is chump change (though I do sound awful).

I have phlebitis.

I got shot in the hip to knock out nasty infections and tomorrow I will have a Doppler done to see if there is a clot or not. Then blood tests and any future action.

With age I have a number of greater and lesser health concerns and there will be upcoming things (not huge, just needful) to pursue. As a simple example, I have a knee that ain't what it used to be. Who doesn't sooner or later?

I know I don't even have to ask this crowd for prayers but thought you'd like to know.

I don't want to be selfish. Let us all remember Ellie suffering the misery of shingles. It can be so awful. May she soon find relief and in the nonce be sustained by grace and shielded by angels.

From FranIAm:
I am asking for prayers please. I have a friend who is a big lurker on these pages. She has come to know and read many of you, especially those in the cyber church
crowd, although I know she is also quite fond of at least one non-churchy type. I've barely linked to all the blog she reads - she is a much better blog friend than I am, so keep that in mind.

You just don't know her yet, but you will love her.

In any case, my friend and our lurker has some medical stuff going on and has a doctor's appointment on Friday. This appointment is very anxiety provoking for her... If you could send some prayers her way, that would be most welcome and most appreciated.

Thanks kids.
For our unknown friend, prayers with love.

--the BB

I wanted to pass this on to my chums

From Diobytes, the online newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of California:

Ash Wednesday at the BART station
by Deb Tullman

"Hey, did you know today is Ash Wednesday?" a hipster spoke into his phone as 15 black cassocks passed him on 24th Street a block from the BART station. We joined three Brazilian drummers, censed a makeshift altar, and knelt and prayed. People poured out of the station. Some stopped to take pictures and videos from their phones, some tried to redirect the crowd's attention, and then gradually (who did it first?) the moment of realization, or curiosity...or something...and people began to come forward.

How many? It's hard to say. People stopped, stood on the fringes of the service, a circle formed. The kids couldn't keep their eyes off the thuribles' arc.

Sara Miles came over. "Want to come with me to Mission Pie and Dianda's?" We walked through litter and chaos and people knew what we were up to. Words seemed unnecessary in this moment of intense presence, when the fingers touch the temple and time stops over and over and over.

A man ran up to Sara and they said something in Spanish as she smiled and gave him his ashes. He bolted back to his car (temporarily abandoned in the right lane, horns around him blaring), hopped back in, and drove away.

Dianda's bakery wanted ashes too; I half laughed and half cried as Sara reached around the huge cake in one woman's arms as she stretched her head closer and closer. Babies, thugs, teenagers, went on and on.

I've been thinking. About what it felt like to swing a thurible in front of trash cans and storefronts. About secular and sacred practices of Lent and how the two bleed into each other. About something Sara said on our way back to the station: "I think people might want a lot more church than we give them."

I believe in public ritual and demolishing the boundaries between sacred and profane. After all, doesn't Matthew tell us the veil in the temple was rent?

--the BB

Tuesday in Lent 1

John 2:13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Did Jesus just go through Wall Street?

Grant to your people, Lord, grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only true God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Sorry, Senator Franken, I couldn't resist borrowing a line from you.

Marcy Wheeler, one of the great watchdogs of our time, feels lots of folks are missing the point on what went down Friday in the al-Haramain case. Summarizing so we can focus, she writes:
You have missed the fact that DOJ just admitted that Bush lied provided "inaccurate" information to the Courts, and that DOJ has just submitted new material that presumably corrects that lie "inaccurate" information.
She has much more to say in her post. Just thought I'd keep y'all abreast of these ongoing revelations.

And before Göran asks, No, of course we're not surprised.
--the BB

Monday, March 02, 2009

92. Are there more? Who saw them? Stay tuned.

You may have heard or read today that once upon a time the Bush regime admitted there were two tapes of torture (er, enhanced interrogation) and they had been destroyed. Then there were those two and maybe an audio tape.

Well, today we find out there were 92 such tapes destroyed.

Imagine my surprise.

And the CIA is preparing a list of who saw them.

What else are we going to be finding out?

See emptywheel's post for a bit more on this and background info at TPM.

--the BB

We get memos

"First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully"
--John Yoo, bad lawyer who evidently offered his soul up to some demonic force

AG Eric Holder and the DOJ released some Dubya-era memos indicating the depths to which legal ratiocination can sink. Just days before Bush left office the Legal Counsel added a memo saying the earlier ones do not reflect current thinking. Talk about a last-minute cover-your-ass move!

While I believe in academic freedom and discussion of a wide range of viewpoints, I do not understand why John Yoo has not been disbarred and why he is allowed to teach at Cal. I should think some knowledge of the Constitution as SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND ought to trickle into the brain of someone who teaches con law. He is a disgrace to his profession.

--the BB

Just saying.

Image from Devilstower at Daily Kos, where there are comments to go with the illustration.

--the BB

Heart thread - follow-up 03/02/2009

Here is the latest on my grandnephew and his wife. Katie's mom has launched a blog where we can all follow.
Each day for Katie consists of lying around on her bed and doing the best for her twins. Jeremy continues to work and spend as much time with Katie as possible. On this journey, we have discovered what wonderful and caring friends they have. Katie and Jeremy's two families are their constant support. They have wonderful church families that are praying for them and making such a difference. The staff at Fresno Community Hospital is unbelievable, absolutely devoted to making Katie's care top priority. Saying thanks for all everyone has done seems too trivial but we love all of you. I am able to stay with Katie due to a very understanding principal and my devoted teaching partner and friend and my dear friend, who is subbing for me. Eternal gratitude is yours. Katie's best friend, Enid, helped me add to their blog spot, as I am technologically challenged.

Each day that passes is a blessing. Please pray for Katie and Jeremy and their babies. All things are possible through God.

If you are reading this you know how much Katie and Jeremy love each other and gain strength through that love. Katie is the strongest and most determined person I know and my absolute hero. Jeremy adds such a wonderful calm and peace to the situation and to her.
I also got wonderful news at work today: my coworker Stephanie's mother, also named Stephanie, got back the biopsy reports and no cancer! Thank you all for your prayers.

On my own health front, I detected symptoms of bronchitis this morning, though I felt fine. I see the doc Wednesday afternoon. By the end of today my voice deepened and I was hoarse. I skipped Russian class tonight and hat hot tomato and red pepper soup for supper. One degreee of fever (Centigrade; please don't panic, metric friends) at the moment. I will stay home tomorrow. Not feeling sorry for myself but prayers are always welcome.

--the BB


From Lisa at RANTINGS:

Dear Jonathan

I feel too sick with worry right now to blog about this, but I thought you might like to post a prayer request on my behalf. If there is a god and he answers my prayers you will have a real convert on your hands.

Ian was taken into intensive care last night. His fever was sky high, his skin all blotchy and he was having difficulty breathing. He's now sedated and on a ventilator. The doctors have advised me that he may not pull through. They still don't know for certain what's wrong with him, but the current thinking is that the infection in his hip was secondary and came from another infection elsewhere, possibly around his heart. Any build up of fluid around the heart is preventing it from pumping blood efficiently and causing fluid to back up into the lungs, hence the high heart rate, low blood pressure and difficulty breathing. A cardiologist is with him as I type this. I've been there with him all night but had to come home to see to the dog at 7am and go to the shop to send the staff home etc. I'll be going back there very soon.

Any positive vibes your followers can send his way will be much appreciated.

Prayers for Ian and Lisa (and the dogs who know something is very wrong).

Where is Guinea-Bissau?

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Guinea-Bissau is on the Atlantic coast of Africa with Senegal to the north and Guinea to the east and south.

It is in the headlines today and I thought some of you might be wondering.

President of Guinea-Bissau said to be killed by soldiers
International Herald Tribune - ‎2 hours ago‎
By Lydia Polgreen and Alan Cowell CONAKRY, Guinea: Army troops shot dead João Bernardo Vieira, the president of neighboring Guinea-Bissau, early on Monday following a bomb attack that killed the army chief of staff, according to diplomats in the region ...
African Union condemns Guinea-Bissau killings Reuters
A look at Guinea-Bissau's history of instability The Associated Press

Let us pray for the people of Guinea-Bissau that peace, stability, and rule of just laws may return.

--the BB

Sunday, March 01, 2009

4253 - Updated with photo

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Spc. Brian M. Connelly, 26, of Union Beach, N.J., died Feb. 26 in Adhamiya, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an explosive device. He was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, Task Force 1-6, 2nd Brigade Combat Team...

Brian Connelly and his wife, Kara, had known each other since high school. They had remained friends, but they began a long-distance courtship after Brian was deployed to Germany. He proposed by webcam in February of 2007, and the couple were married while Spc. Connolly was home on a 18-day leave from Iraq in September.

Brian and Kara had great plans for the future. Just hours before his death, Brian told Kara that his tour of duty in Iraq had been shortened by three months and that he would be returning to Germany in May. Kara will complete her pre-medical sudies at Monmouth University in New Jersey in just over a year, and Brian had hoped to get a construction job to help his wife pay for her education when his enlistment was over.
Source: IGTNT

Why people come here

The Prince of Asturias, 2000

My regular blog chums have their own reasons, but new visitors? Well, even though I have a free site counter and can only check where the last ten visitors came from, I have observed this over time.

Most first-time visitors come here from seeing one of the photos in the Friday Prince Blogging series (that I have not done in almost a year).

Probably the next most popular entrée is folks looking up information on flags (especially red, yellow, and green flags).

After these two items it rapidly becomes hit or miss.

But I got a fabulous compliment last night from my friend Kathy. She said she cannot think of the Constitution without thinking of me. That was very gratifying, especially since I have done very few Thursday Constitution Blogging posts in the last year either. (Regular features fell to the wayside when I became employed.)

-the BB

Admiral mongers twaddle - beware

It was all over the Google News headlines earlier today. This evening I had to scroll down a bit and actually look for it.
Washington, D.C. (AHN) - Iran most likely has enough material to build a nuclear weapon, the U.S.'s top military official indicated on Sunday.

The remarks by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen are the first assessments officially made by Washington on Iran's nuclear capabilities.

"We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen told CNN's John King on State of The Union, when asked to comment on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment.
--Mayur Pahilajani - AHN News Writer
Clutch the pearls and pass the salts, Mabel.

Did I not just post a debunking of this sort of fear- and twaddle-mongering (2/21/09)? Yes, I did.

And here is Admiral Mike Mullen pushing bullshit on the American people.

In the article cited above we also read this:
The international agency said in the recent report that the Islamic Republic now has 1,010 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride, which according to some physicists is enough to build a nuclear bomb.

Now the first half stands up; it is the second half - the classic "according to some" - that is questionable.

As Cheryl Rofer, a chemist, wrote (and I posted earlier):
The concentration of U-235 is 3.49% in the enriched uranium that the Natanz plant is turning out. The IAEA has found no evidence (Download Iran 0902) that any higher enrichment is being produced. 3.49% is not enough to make a bomb. Iran is not in a position to make a bomb, unless there is a bunch of hidden stuff that nobody has found, involving big buildings that can be seen by satellite surveillance.

It would take a reconfiguration of the Natanz facility that the inspectors would notice to produce bomb-grade uranium (concentration of U-235 of 90%). The inspectors also take environmental samples to verify the concentration of U-235. They would have to be kicked out of the facility and their video cameras taken down for Iran to do this.
[Emphasis mine]

I don't know who the "some physicists" are but I'd like to know their names and what they base their opinion on.

I have to ask: Cui bono? (Who benefits?) Pentagon budget, maybe. Or some behind-the-scenes power play among military Brass and the Obama administration. I don't know, but it stinks.

--the BB

660 with names now

When I posted on 2/25 names had not yet been released. Here they are:

02/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)

Sgt. Daniel J. Thompson, 24, of Madison, Wis. He was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 715th Military Police Company, Melbourne, Fla.

02/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)

Sgt. Scott B. Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Ill. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Effingham, Ill.

02/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)

Sgt. Schuyler B. Patch, 25, of Owasso Okla. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Kewanee, Ill.

02/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4))

Capt. Brian M. Bunting, 29, of Potomac, Md. He was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Syracuse, N.Y.

The Spirit says: They rest from their labors and their works follow after them.

You will be sickened

In the fantasy fiction I write, those who mistreat women fare very badly. As an author, I am in charge of my fantasy world. I am not, however, in charge of justice here on earth.

David A Love has a post up at Daily Kos today titled "LaVena Johnson: Raped and Murdered on a Military Base in Iraq." I commend it to you. It is a horrific story, but what is even worse is a sense that it is only the tip of an iceberg.

I hope we are moving into an era of better behavior and much better accountability.

May LaVena rest, at last, in peace and rise in glory.

--the BB

μετανοειτε και πιστευετε εν τω ευαγγελιω

If memory does not deceive me (and it often does), I have always been rather fond of the following verse:

For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1.25)

The passage from Corinthians appointed for the Office today has helped me remember the limits of human knowledge and human wisdom. This is an especially good thing for someone like me who was always an A student (that, ahem, went down a bit in college) and who could usually talk or debate his way through anything. My aptitude for learning or gift with words did not mean I was smarter than God or, for that matter, better than anyone else.

This passage also reminds me that there are other values than the ones constantly being put forth in a competitive society.

We are often too clever by half and it rarely ends well.

‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. (Mark 2.21)
Do you ever get the feeling that the Church has been trying lots of unshrunk patches as gimmick after gimmick is attempted to pull in crowds or revitalize our faith communities? Do you think we might ever go back to Jesus' message (as paraphrased decades ago by Fr. McHugh): "Turn around and believe good news for a change!"?

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--the BB