Saturday, March 28, 2009

Queremos justicia - updated

Jane R pointed me to this gratifying piece of news:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A top Spanish court has moved toward starting a probe of six former Bush administration officials including ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in connection with alleged torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, The New York Times said on Saturday.

The criminal investigation would focus on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic justification for torture at the U.S. detention camp in Cuba, the Times said.

The paper said the National Court in Madrid had assigned the case to judge Baltasar Garzon, known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Garzon has accepted the case and sent it to the prosecutor's office for review, the newspaper said, citing an official close to the case.

The complaint, prepared by Spanish lawyers with the help of U.S. and European legal experts, also names John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy.

Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five Spanish citizens or residents who were prisoners at Guantanamo Bay say they were tortured there.
In the name of justice and the rule of law, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Pity that Congress and the courts in the United States are too pusillanimous to do it.


See also dday's article here, where there is more discussion of the issues.

Mcjoan also discusses torture investigations in the UK and Spain here.

--the BB

"the population may yet rise up and demand justice be done" - Updated

Valtin has a good post at Daily Kos on a report by Jason Leopold that the Senate Armed Services Committee is about to release a "voluminous report on the treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody." Interesting stuff.

Valtin concludes:
I don't see how the drive for prosecutions can withstand the inaction of much of civil society on this issue, and that includes the silence or inactivity of the churches, the unions, the bulk of academia and the declassed (or scruffy) intelligentsia and student population. But politics often takes strange turns, and there is no complete accounting for large-scale social-psychological phenomena.

If the torture revelations come at the right way, at the right time, and with the correct visceral punch, the population may yet rise up and demand justice be done, even if it means an unprecedented indictment of a series of the former highest officials in the land. If this happened, it would be as if a lighting bolt had descended upon the body politic, and social struggle would heat up to an indefinite but large degree.

We must state our appreciation for the work of Sen. Carl Levin and the Senate Armed Services Committee for the fine job they have done, even knowing, as they must, that a full airing of the issues would be like throwing a keg of dynamite on the tinder of a society reeling from eight years of near-dictatorial rule. But the work is not done yet, and I will reserve full congratulations until the report itself is out and I've had a chance to review it. I look forward to writing my review, and reading the analyses of the many other fine commentators on the net who are sure to pounce on this juicy nugget and squeeze it for all it is worth... at least I hope that's what happens.
For information on what the courts are up to with regard to FOIA requests by the ACLU for the torture tape library, see emptywheel today.

--the BB


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Raphael A. Futrell, 26, of Anderson, S.C., died March 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 13th Military Police Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion...

Saturday in Lent 4

I confess that I am having a really hard time with a lot of the lessons in the Daily Office this Lent. The triumphalism or tribalism that runs through a lot of it, or simplistic Deuteronomic theology (obey and be blessed, disobey and be cursed) that simply runs contrary to observation, plus a lot of historical and hermeneutical baggage that leaps to the forefront for me these days - it all combines to make for a struggle. This is one reason I have not done much in the way of meditation on the lessons this season

I'm not fretting about it or feeling guilty about it. There is joy for me when I see the gems Margaret digs out of the lessons (thank you, sister). My faith in God is not shaken, my love of Jesus is intact, and I know that scripture sometimes does not touch us then at a later time moves us into deeper faith and faithfulness. So I am simply letting it be. But I thought it might be good to share this with you all because I know we all encounter dry periods of many sorts.

Psalm 33 is one of my favorites and it is appointed for Evening Prayer today.

Psalm 33 Exultate, justi (The Book of Common Prayer)

1 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous; *
it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp; *
play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.

3 Sing for him a new song; *
sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

4 For the word of the LORD is right, *
and all his works are sure.

5 He loves righteousness and justice; *
the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, *
by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin *
and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; *
let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass; *
he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught; *
he thwarts the designs of the peoples.

11 But the LORD'S will stands fast for ever, *
and the designs of his heart from age to age.

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD! *
happy the people he has chosen to be his own!

13 The LORD looks down from heaven, *
and beholds all the people in the world.

14 From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze *
on all who dwell on the earth.

15 He fashions all the hearts of them *
and understands all their works.

16 There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army;
a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.

17 The horse is a vain hope for deliverance; *
for all its strength it cannot save.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, *
on those who wait upon his love,

19 To pluck their lives from death, *
and to feed them in time of famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD; *
he is our help and our shield.

21 Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, *
for in his holy Name we put our trust.

22 Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us, *
as we have put our trust in you.

Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins to you; that those whose consciences are accused by sin may by your merciful pardon be absolved; 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

Heart thread - 03/28/2009

Jane R has a nice list of updates for the prayer posse, so pop on over there today to recall those we hold in our hearts.

I am going to offer world headlines for our intentions today.

Frigid Temperature Slows River’s Rise in North Dakota
New York Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
By MONICA DAVEY and LIZ ROBBINS MOORHEAD, Minn. - After days of predicting that the swollen Red River would crest on Saturday, forecasters now say that frigid temperatures have slowed the rising water, and that wary residents can expect the river to ...

US accuses Pakistan spies of helping Al Qaeda
AFP - ‎1 hour ago‎
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States has vowed to put the heat on Pakistan's spies in its new regional strategy, with top officials openly accusing elements in powerful intelligence agency of abetting Al-Qaeda

Lights go out across planet for Earth Hour
CNN International - ‎46 minutes ago‎
(CNN) -- Lights were going out across the world on Saturday as millions of homes and businesses in major cities went dark for one hour in a symbolic gesture to highlight concerns over climate change.

Report: North Korea launch would go before UN
The Associated Press - ‎43 minutes ago‎
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea, the United States and Japan warned that North Korea's planned rocket launch would violate a UN resolution and said they would take the issue to the Security Council if the North goes ahead with it, a news report ...

2 arrested over Pakistan mosque bombing
CNN International - ‎5 hours ago‎
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two suspects were arrested in connection with the bombing of a mosque that killed at least 51 people, Pakistani authorities said Saturday.

Hamas threats to kidnap more Israeli soldiers
Xinhua - ‎2 hours ago‎
GAZA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement, threatened on Saturday to kidnap more Israeli soldiers to exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

At Least 77 Killed in Indonesia Dam Burst
Voice of America - ‎2 hours ago‎
By VOA News The death toll from a burst dam on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital rose to 77 Saturday, as rescue workers searched for more than 100 people still missing since a wall of water submerged their homes.

Astronauts close space shuttle doors for landing
Reuters - ‎37 minutes ago‎
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 28 (Reuters) - The shuttle Discovery crew closed their ship's doors in preparation for landing on Saturday, hoping to beat a cold front moving into the area around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Russian craft docks on International Space Station
Reuters - ‎1 hour ago‎
MOSCOW, March 28 (Reuters) - Astronauts on Russia's Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft manually docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday after a malfunction of the automatic docking system, Russian mission control said.

Jobless Rate Exceeds 10% in Three More US States Bloomberg

New Device Treats Common Heart Rhythm Disorder
U.S. News & World Report - ‎32 minutes ago‎
By Steven Reinberg SATURDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- An implanted device may soon replace the anti-clotting drug warfarin as the first line of treatment for many people with atrial fibrillation, a new study suggests.

Iraq car bombing kills 26 in Baghdad
Los Angeles Times - ‎Mar 26, 2009‎
Although the overall number of civilian deaths is far lower than during the country's civil war several years ago, hopes that Iraq could completely end the ...

EU to Re-engage Zimbabwe - ‎6 hours ago‎
HARARE, March 28 2009 - The German government says it is fully committed to supporting Zimbabwe if the country respects property and human rights as provided by the September 15, 2008 unity agreement between ZANU PF and MDC.

Somali gunmen free Kenyan hostages: police
AFP - ‎1 hour ago‎
NAIROBI (AFP) - Somali gunmen on Saturday freed five Kenyans abducted this week after they crossed into the lawless Horn of Africa country, police said.

Liberia: One-third of tuberculosis (TB) cases go undetected: WHO - ‎1 hour ago‎
by Bobby Ramakant / About 3 million people fail to access TB treatment under directly-observed treatment shortcourse (DOTS), according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Control Report 2009.

'Politics should be about people, not profit'
BBC News - ‎1 hour ago‎
Thousands of people have marched through central London to demand action on poverty, jobs and climate change, ahead of a summit of G20 leaders next week to discuss the global financial crisis.

Report: Israel struck in Sudan 3 times
Ynetnews - ‎2 hours ago‎
Three times a charm: Israel bombed targets in Sudan three times since January, and not twice as has been reported previously, the ABC News network reported Saturday.

Binyam Mohamed torture claims: The implications for British security - ‎7 hours ago‎
Imagine the scene. The intelligence service of a foreign country has detained a suspect who holds vital information about a planned terror attack against Britain.

South Africa: Country Has Lost Chance for PR Glory - ‎Mar 27, 2009‎
It is unfortunate that South Africa has refused a visa to the venerated Dalai Lama. I cannot shake the feeling that the beacon of democracy on the African continent has let us all down.

Comienza en Chile “Cumbre de Líderes Progresistas”
Prensa Latina - ‎hace 55 minutos‎
Santiago de Chile, 28 mar (PL) Varios encuentros bilaterales de mandatarios precedieron hoy la inauguración de la Cumbre de Líderes Progresistas, que encabeza la presidenta Michelle Bachelet en el balneario de Viña del Mar, 120 kilómetros de Santiago. ...

Calderón no desafía a Obama
La Jornada (México) - ‎hace 5 horas‎
La Presidencia de la República rechazó que Felipe Calderón haya solicitado a Estados Unidos más recursos para la lucha contra el narcotráfico, como publicó el periódico Financial Times en su edición de ayer. La información del rotativo inglés, ...

Ex canciller ve parálisis en agenda diplomática de Bolivia y Perú
Los Tiempos - ‎hace 29 minutos‎
La agenda diplomática de Bolivia y Perú está prácticamente paralizada, opinó el ex canciller Armando Loaiza al lamentar el intercambio verbal que se da entre las autoridades de ambos países por efecto de la demanda que Lima plateó en la Corte de La ...

Desplegará Japón un sistema interceptor de misiles si Corea del ...
La Jornada (México) - ‎hace 5 horas‎
Tokio, 27 de marzo. Japón aprobó el despliegue y la eventual utilización de un sistema interceptor de misiles en caso de que Corea del Norte lance al espacio un satélite de comunicaciones que, según el gobierno de Estados Unidos, se trata de un ardid ...

Pakistan army raid 'kills rebels'
BBC News - ‎2 hours ago‎
Pakistan's army says troops backed by artillery and helicopter gunships have killed 26 militants in an attack near the Afghan border.

Hamid Karzaï apporte son soutien à la stratégie d'Obama pour l ...
Le Monde - ‎Il y a 2 heures‎
Le président afghan Hamid Karza s'est dit samedi "en accord total" avec la nouvelle stratégie des Etats-Unis pour l'Afghanistan, présentée la veille par Barack Obama. Ce plan "est meilleur que ce à quoi nous nous attendions et en fait, ...

Obispo portugués dice que enfermos de Sida deben usar preservativo
Univisión - ‎hace 3 horas‎
Un obispo católico portugués estimó en un mensaje difundido por internet que los enfermos de Sida deben usar preservativos si deciden mantener relaciones sexuales, días después del escándalo que provocaron declaraciones del papa Benedicto XVI en ese ...
[For the non-Spanish-readers: Portuguese bishop says those with AIDS should use condoms.]

Collaborate or expect another depression, Kevin Rudd tells world
The Australian - ‎Mar 26, 2009‎
KEVIN Rudd will warn today that the world will risk descent into a 1930s-style depression unless its leaders work together to clean up the banking sector and stimulate economic growth in the face of the deepening global recession.

Sudanese Activists Warn Thousands of IDPs Will Flee Darfur
Voice of America - ‎2 hours ago‎
By Lisa Schlein Sudanese human rights activists are urging the international community to prepare for the mass movement of internally displaced people in Darfur as critical aid starts to give out.

"We are the world" - revisiting a song we all knew:

--the BB


Some time between when I went to bed last night and rose, deliciously late, this morning, this blog had its 50,000th page view. This is no big deal for the very popular blogs but it is gratifying for this site.

Thank you to all my visitors. Your comments and interactions make this fun and satisfying.

Peace be upon you all.

--the BB

Friday, March 27, 2009

Checking on the twins

Grandma Jannita (my niece) and Great Grandma Iva (my sister) looking at Clara. (All the latest here.)

--the BB

Memory eternal

Courtesy of MadPriest:

This is a photograph of Ian and Lisa
taken at Lisa's birthday bash last year.

Earlier today, Lisa took the agonising, brave,
loving, beautiful and perfect decision to allow
the doctors to withdraw Ian's life support.

Ian died at 12.15 p.m.


Ian and Lisa are only in their forties. They have been married for seventeen years although they have known each other much longer. Ian is also survived by both his parents and his sister.

Lisa is surrounded by family and friends who live locally.
There is no need to worry about her being on her own.


Lisa tells me that she will not be blogging for a few days.
I expect it will be a few weeks, other than, maybe,
the occasional small update.

In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu
suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te
in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.

May the angels lead you into paradise,
May the martyrs receive you
In your coming,
And may they guide you
Into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the chorus of angels receive you
And with Lazarus once poor
May you have eternal rest.

--the BB

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Senza parole

Friday in Lent 4

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
--Romans 8:38-39

O God, you have given us the Good News of your abounding love in your Son Jesus Christ: So fill our hearts with thankfulness that we may rejoice to proclaim the good tidings we have received; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Aching heart thread - 03/26/2009


From Lisa:

Just got back from the hospital about half an hour ago.

I'm losing Ian. His condition is deteriorating, he's getting weaker. He's fought for the last month just to stay stable, but he's now beginning to lose the fight. The illness has now completely overwhelmed him. They've thrown every treatment they can think of at him and nothing has worked. There are no more treatments left to give him. I'm losing my lovely lovely husband, the love of my life. I've been advised that I need to start thinking about making the decision to cease treatment.

I just feel sick.


We all weep with Lisa and hold her and Ian in love and light.

Please bless yourself with this.

Tonight is not a time for Lent.

In the first light of Easter
glory broke from the tomb
and changed the women's sorrow into joy.
From the Garden the truth shone clear
that he whom they had loved and lost
was with them now in every place
for ever.
--Scottish Liturgy 1982
Fadia El-Hage - Kyrie Eleison traditional

There are many other prayers to be offered but my heart is too burdened for Lisa and Ian right now to name them.

--the BB

Thursday in Lent 4

I have no comments to offer this morning but will let these texts speak for themselves.

Jeremiah 22:13-17

13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
and his upper rooms by injustice;
who makes his neighbours work for nothing,
and does not give them their wages;
14 who says, ‘I will build myself a spacious house
with large upper rooms’,
and who cuts out windows for it,
panelling it with cedar,
and painting it with vermilion.
15 Are you a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
says the Lord.
17 But your eyes and heart
are only on your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practising oppression and violence.

Romans 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind, and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

En el jardín

No pics, but I have been striving to cover the west 60% of my back yard with cedar bark mulch. It is not just about retaining moisture or keeping down weeds. My desires are two: to make it look like something other than a sandbox and to keep the sand in the yard from blowing about and covering everything. In the last four days I have put something like 17 bags of cedar bark on the ground back there. It looks nicer. For now. I hope to put at least another dozen bags down by Saturday.

Of course, I cannot keep the winds from the fields south and west of me from carrying sand into the yard. Still, I hope to keep the sand in the yard a tiny bit under control.

Hope springs eternal.

When I feel I can afford real money, another 30% of the yard gets paved and turned into patio. I need to preserve a swale that directs water away from the house and draining toward the street, so 10% might be visually improved with river rock.

--the BB

A silent voice said, "Sibelius"

And so we have this:

The glowing finale of Sibelius' 5th Symphony, performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, Sweden
January 1987


--the BB

An image - for Margaret

The arms of the King of Druva
(c) 1972-74 by PES

Mostly what I carry in my head is geography, mythology, and the stories of families through the generations. All mixed up in love stories and war stories. Almost every tale in the chronicles is about the choice between Jesus and Caesar (figuratively, anyway).

--the BB


03/24/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
Corporals Anthony L. Williams, 21, of Oxford, Pa., and Michael W. Ouellette, 28, of Manchester, N.H., died March 22 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment...

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Please note the trajectory in coalition deaths over time. Afghanistan is far deadlier to our troops in 2009 than in any previous year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oh yes, I'm stoked

Revisions are, well, work. But storytelling (i.e., writing the first draft) is pure play.

Although I have stayed up an hour and a half later than I planned this evening, I have finished the third chapter.

Earlier today I created the spreadsheet I use to plot storylines. There is no other way I could keep track of the tales, the characters, and their movements. Yes, I can tell you what the phase of the moon is on my hero's birthday each year. It is not a simple spreadsheet.

I have also printed of fresh copies of several maps and some genealogical charts. Gotta know where they are and how they're all related!

Much of the fun is that, although I have an overall story in my head (and have for at least a year), the details and detours keep surprising me. It is also fun to think about how something in this volume will have an effect in the next volume.

I might worry that one should not have this much fun in Lent but I am a "now quit your care" type and not a "forty days and forty nights" type. (Let the musicians and singers understand.)

Sweet dreams, my little meerkats.
--the BB

Another musical treat

Bob Marley's "One Love" reinterpreted by the folks of Playing for Change:


--the BB

Loving it! - updated with link

I love seeing an intelligent, articulate president smack down stupid fucks trying to play "gotcha."

Nail 'em, Slick!

Update: h/t to turneresq

--the BB

Tuesday in Lent 4

From Psalm 94:
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the stranger,
they murder the orphan,
7 and they say, ‘The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.’
Only a condition of severe unawareness or delusion could allow anyone to view recent decades and not see that we have been living in a culture of greed and exploitation. Hardly something new in history. What is amazing is how shocked (shocked!) folks seem when it is brought out into the light and discussed publicly.

We now experience the turmoil and terror of consequences.

Fear can magnify every threat and crush any hope. It is good to let Jesus' message in the Gospel lesson from today's Office sink in:

I thank my friends who have honored Arzobispo Romero on this, his feast.

Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and for ever. Amen.

O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Monday, March 23, 2009


03/23/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Geary, 22, of Rome, N.Y., died March 20 while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force...

03/23/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Adam J. Hardt, 19, of Avondale, Ariz., died March 22, at Forward Operating Base Airborne in Wardak Province, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment

Oh yes, this is fun

There is a world of difference between trying to tell a rollicking good tale and articulating scholarship.

I just finished the second chapter of volume three of my fictional chronicles.

Is it possible to have this much fun?
--the BB


Over objections from the U.S. intelligence community, the White House is moving to declassify—and publicly release—three internal memos that will lay out, for the first time, details of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration for use against "high value" Qaeda detainees. The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in May 2005, provide the legal rationale for waterboarding, head slapping and other rough tactics used by the CIA. One senior Obama official, who like others interviewed for this story requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said the memos were "ugly" and could embarrass the CIA. Other officials predicted they would fuel demands for a "truth commission" on torture.
--Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball | NEWSWEEK

It's way past time for us to face up to "ugly" and deal with it.

h/t to mcjoan, who comments provocatively:
Here's something else to think about. Comey and Ashcroft and [many] other Justice Department lawyers knew about these memos, knew that torture had been authorized and planned at the highest levels of government--a group that included Ashcroft. They were cool with torture, to a degree. So what was it about the warrantless wiretapping program that was so extreme to lead to the famous hospital room showdown? To Comey's, and other DOJ lawyers, resignation threats? What was the Cheney/Yoo/Addington/Bradbury/Gonzales team either doing or planning to do on wiretapping that was worse, in these people's minds, than torture?

--the BB

"Don't Worry"

This one came to me via Mother Elizabeth. Another one of the wonderful Playing for Change numbers.


--the BB

Πάντα ῥεῖ

Clouds over Marin, April 2005

All my personal e-mails end with a quote from Abba Poemen, one of the desert fathers:
Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.
This is often a useful guide in making decisions about how one spends one's time and one's life.

Last summer and fall I was eager to get back to Russian classes. Then this spring came and Russian 2 was not offered, so I wound up in conversational Russian. Way beyond where we had gotten at the end of Russian 1.

Now, I am capable of learning Russian on my own with class to guide me and I could have stayed up with the conversational class. If I studied. But I have not been studying Russian. And if you don't do any homework, any drills, any reading, you cannot retain what flies by in class. And I understood no more than 40% of what went in on in class. I think I can say I remember one word I learned in class all semester. One. The rest all blurs together.

So, I could keep up if I studied, but I have not been studying.

My heart is elsewhere.

Right now my heart is in writing fiction. I can work on that almost every day with pleasure. I don't seem to put in even 30 minutes a week on Russian.

I have been wondering for almost two months why I was banging my head against a Russian wall. So today I showed up just to say Thank you and good-bye. I dropped out.

I can do Russian again, when I am up for it. Right now, I am not up for it. I can also do it when I can work my way up through more grammar before launching into conversation where I simply do not know the vocabulary, the syntax, or the word endings.

My ex observed, rightly, that this has given me an opportunity to understand how most folks feel when they take a foreign language and struggle but are lost. So it may have been good for my soul.

This is not the first thing I have dropped out of in my life (two doctoral programs, for instance). I have not regretted either of those, though there was a cost and a loss involved.

Tonight I can return to my fictional world and spin out plot lines and my heart is happier. Much happier.

--the BB

The header is an aphorism of Simplicius that summarizes the philosophy of Heraclitus ("all things flow" or "all things are in flux").

"Ποταμοῖς τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἶμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶμεν."
"We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not."

Heart thread - 03/23/2009

I don't know what mental lapse allowed me to forget Roseann yesterday, but she is not forgotten. Here is a post she put up a week ago.

A request
Does anyone have a spare St Jude medal they would be willing to share? I feel hopeless and while I've never been one to turn to saints I think I need to now. Please let me know.

Love and peace, Roseann

The sad news she got and her request as she and Gary struggle against her multiple medical challenges can be found here and here.

--the BB

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monday in Lent 4

The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. (Acts 17:24-25)

This is the from the first lesson for the feast of Gregory the Illuminator, apostle to Armenia, the first Christian nation.

I honor all the love, joy, and beauty given to me by Armenian friends and their cultural and religious heritage by celebrating his feast this Monday.

Saint Krikor the Illuminator (alternate: Armenia: Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ translit. Grigor Lusavorich, Greek: Γρηγόριος Φωστήρ or Φωτιστής, Gregorios Phoster or Photistes), was born about 257, the founder and patron saint of the Armenia Apostolic Church (Armenian: Հայ Արաքելական Եկեղեցի), sometimes called the Armenian Orthodox Church or the Gregorian Church, is the world's oldest national church and one of the most ancient Christian communities.

Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in 301, when St. Krikor the Illuminator converted Tiridates III (the King of Armenia) and members of his court.

You may read (and see photos) of a celebration of Sourp Krikor's feast in 2006 here.

Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

O Lord our God, in your holy Sacraments you have given us a foretaste of the good things of your kingdom: Direct us, we pray, in the way that leads to eternal life, that we may come to appear before you in that place of light where you dwell for ever with your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

For a better understanding

If you would like a more nuanced view of the Iranian response to President Obama's Nowruz greetings to the government and people of Iran (more nuanced than you get in the US press, that is), go to Juan Cole. He notes that the French reported it correctly:
Interestingly, the French news agency, Agence France Presse, got the story right, entitling their article, "Iran ready to change if US leads way: Khamenei."

And, the Iranian PressTV had an even more enthusiastic headline: "Iran vows response to real US change."
The Washington Post seems to misinterpret (deliberately distort?) the response:
Iran's Supreme Leader Rebuffs Obama Washington Post
Reuters seems to be doing a better job:
By Fredrik Dahl TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has responded to US President Barack Obama's offer of better relations by demanding policy changes from Washington, but the Islamic state is not closing the door to a possible thaw in ties with its old foe.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. We don't need kneejerk reactions.

--the BB

Sunday in Lent 4

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5.1)

This is one of my favorite Bible verses. The point of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt was not so they could return to bondage. So also, the point of the liberation we experience in Christ is not so we can return to any form of bondage, whether to some law or illusion or addiction or our own fears.

Having been rescued from a deathward path, we ought not to set our feet upon it once more.

If any would seek to turn you toward a religion of rules or a religion of fear, I do not think it is of Christ. Beware.

If we would be free we must learn to stand firm. Let us be firm in our freedom.

As they say of alcohol, so also of the Spirit. Drink responsibly.

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--the BB

Heart thread - 03/22/2009

Ian and Lisa update posted at RANTINGS:

Ian is stable, not much news right now. Still yellow, still sedated, still on the ventilator. However, he has not started to bleed into his lungs any more and he's started to absorb his naso-gastric feed a bit better. He looks very very thin, though. I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get an update from one of the doctors.
Posted on the KIRKEPISCATOID blog:

Well, today was The Last Day, as Rowan the dog would say, for Bo. Bo started to go really downhill and just did not want to get up or do anything. His folks knew it was time. He left peacefully, and in the loving arms of his folks and with his buddy Miss Zera Ruth.
Via a comment by Ann at Wounded Bird Takes Flight we get an update after Mad Priest met Grandmère Mimi yesterday:
A note from Mrs. Mad Priest!

Unfortunately MadPriest has been admitted to a high security mental health facility. The maximum permitted dosage of tranquiliser has stopped the screaming but, although fully sedated he is still shaking like a plate of jello on a washing machine during the spin cycle. He is not expected to return to the real world in the foreseeable future.

The entire British rail network has come out on strike and English heritage has publicly announced that it will never forgive the United States of America for what happened to its beautiful abbey today. Prime minister, Gordon Brown stated that he is taking back all the nice things he said about you lot the other week.

Mrs MadPriest
We assume Mimi is doing just fine and wish her a safe and happy conclusion to her travels in England. Our best wishes for Maddy and the Missus.

To the right of the incubator we see Grandma Jannita (my niece), Great Aunt Becky, and Great Grandma Opal who all visited the girls at Stanford. Daily updates on Clara and Olivia at Hoff Hoopla.

JN1034 has been in hiatus for some time. I just want to toss out some prayers for the gentlemen who so bravely have stood up for an inclusive vision of Orthodoxy. I miss their witness and want to keep them upheld by the rest of us.

Jane R had this report on her friends last Wednesday and I'm sure the prayers need to keep coming:
My friend P. is being released from hospital, just a week after his surgery. I spoke with him mid-day and he sounded well. There will be long weeks of healing, but it will be nice for him to be back in his own home, with his partner B. and their very nice dog K.
Caminante has places two huge items before us in the past week: the struggle for marriage equality in Vermont and the recent election in El Salvador.
The Senate Judiciary Committee just voted unanimously to approve a bill authorizing same-sex marriage in Vermont.


While I can't hear the press conference, it would seem as though Mauricio Funes of the FMLN has won the presidency of El Salvador.


Hard to believe that five years ago, your humble (?) Caminante translated for Mauricio Funes when we visited Canal 12 [channel 12] where he had a thoughtful, in-depth daily interview program.
We keep Kirstin in our prayers.
My head and heart are both talking to me. I'm listening, as well as I can, to both. I'm thinking and praying. I will be, for awhile.
The Cunning Runt went on a trip and when he returned he had computer troubles and was ill. I, for one, missed his posts terribly. But he's back and I give thanks. Wonderful photographs, comments, and the ever-popular food feature "dinner with TCR."

This blog stands in solidarity with the theology of a contemporary witness to truth (via Telling Secrets). Click the link to sign the petition.
The Episcopal Women’s Caucus joins with our sisters and brothers of faith around the world who stand in solidarity with Ruth Kolpack, pastoral associate since 1995 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, Wisconsin, who was fired earlier this month for what Madison Bishop Robert Morlino called Kolpack's "feminist views" after a 10-minute meeting with her.
Here's a shout out to Fluffy, just because.

In the words of Margaret, "G'wan. Go to church."

For the three Oakland police officers killed by a gunman and the other two gravely wounded.

For stability in Pakistan, where the chief justice was just reinstated.

For astronauts making spacewalks.

For those on the two navy vessels that collided last week in the Strait of Hormuz.

For the people of Iraq six years after our invasion and occupation.

Thanksgiving that New Mexico has eliminated the death penalty.

For President Obama and Congress that they may be given knowledge, wisdom, and prudence in facing the many challenges of this nation.

--the BB