Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Rock Show (UPDATED)

One of the best songs by a band that continues to get better and better - "Pray" by Disturbed.

OK, so this might be gratuitous and self-indulgent, but I thought a bit of background and exegesis might be appropriate. This song, the first written in the aftermath of the death of the lead singer's grandfather, a rabbi, and the attacks of September 11, 2001, are based upon the book of Job. Thus the chorus: "Living just isn't hard enough/You burn me alive inside/Living a life's not hard enough/You take everything away". I think such a prayer, echoing Job, is the beginning of true faith - to challenge God in the face of a life of suffering is to embrace at once true humanity and true faith.

The video, with its images of personal tragedy and social degradation (including the Job-like prostitute and now-homeless former business man), take the imagery from the personal to the social sphere. These are the implicit answers to Cain's rhetorical question to God, viz., "Am I my brother's keeper?" The answer, given in the midst of a prayer of protest (and that is what this song is) is, "Why, yes. Why else would I have created you as creatures who must live in community?"

Also, this song just plain rocks.

On Christian Freedom

The specific passage is Galatians 5:1a - "It is for freedom that Christ set us free." This sentence is the conclusion of a much more involved argument about the place of circumcision within the proselyte (non-Jewish) Christian community. For St. Paul, accepting circumcision means accepting the boundaries of the law, and St. Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah as an allegory for the New Covenant promised in Jesus. It seems limited, then, to a consideration of one's place in an increasingly Gentile Church still dominated by its Jewish element.

Christian freedom, however, figured most prominently in the diatribes of the early Reformation. The single most famous tract Luther published during the years of controversy was entitled, "On the Freedom of a Christian", and its odd dialectic of freedom expresses in some small way the strange, still medieval, nature of ruminations on the subject.
To make the way smoother for the unlearned - for only them do I serve - I shall set down the following two propositions concerning the freedom and the bondage of the spirit:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.

This odd, contradictory approach to the notion of freedom is expressed liturgically in the United Methodist Church in its prayer of confession in the Eucharist celebration, the end of which reads in part, "Free us for joyful obedience."

It is a historical fact that Luther's expression of support for a certain idea of freedom led, in the course of events, to the Peasant Revolt, which revolt was actually a Slaughter of Innocents, with contemporary accounts of deaths approaching one hundred thousand almost certainly exaggerated, while still substantial. The "left wing of the Reformation", the revolutionary anabaptists, personified by Thomas Muntzer, usually repeated the first half of Luther's formula. Muntzer, of course, paid for this error with his life (as did many of his followers). Yet, the appeal of the idea of freedom continues to reverberate today. Personally, I believe it to be the most underplayed, and underappreciated, aspect of Christian ethics.

What are we moderns to make of all this? "Freedom" has so many meanings, in so many contexts, that to attempt to address a theological understanding would seem not only to add to an already overburdened word, but unnecessary due to the marginal nature of theological discourse. Yet, I think St. Paul declaration, whether taken by itself or within its larger context, is still alive with potential meaning even for Americans for whom the word "freedom" has an almost talismanic quality. Part of the way we might begin an appropriation of the idea of Christian freedom is to consider the idea central in spirit if not word to Paul's argument to the Galatian churches - the freedom Christians enjoy is a freedom over and against the dominant views of a society bent on conformity and legalistic literalism. The spirit of life that Christians enjoy through their profession of Jesus as the Christ is stronger than the demands for social, religious, cultural, and other conformities demanded by any allegiance we might enjoy. This freedom, however, is not expressed in license, but in adherence to an ethic of love and self-disregard that places a premium on a refusal to adhere to the competing demands of society, culture, politics, and religion. Rather, we are to live first and foremost for others - in service, even sometimes to the sacrifice not just of our comfort but even our lives. The call of patriotism, the solidarity of class or race or creed all must fall before the demands of freedom.

This, of course, is the briefest of sketches of what is the most potent root of a radical Christian ethic imaginable. I offer it here as a first most scanty brush at an idea that needs to be fleshed out more fully.

Jewish Dissent - Anti-Zionism And American Political Culture

I am not sure whether I consider myself a Zionist. Zionism was originally a movement among secular Jews in Europe to the obstinate refusal of titularly Christian nations to allow non-Christians to be equal partners in the national project. That the Jewish populations were considered "foreign" even into the early years of the 20th century, and even as some of the most important developments were supported by various Jewish citizens, should say much about the attitude towards national identity in Europe, a legacy of ethnic solidarity and narrow nationalism that is still with us. Especially in the light of the Holocaust, it can be reasonably argued that the escape to Zion, even in the absence of a messiah (secular or otherwise), was an understandable refusal by European Jewish communities to allow themselves to be victimized.

On the other hand, there was and continues to be the not small problem of the indigenous population that would not necessarily be accommodating to the arrival of foreign immigrants of different languages, a different religion, and a certain hauteur towards the non-white local population. I also think that serious, legitimate criticism of the State of Israel by Americans is stymied by a confluence of money and power, fueled not just by the Zionist establishment in America (which conflates Jewish identity with Zionism) and fundamentalist Christianity, whose enthusiasm for the State of Israel is tied more to dreams of the Second Coming than justice for embattled and slaughtered Jews in Europe.

I for one am always amused by those who believe it their bounden duty to defend Israel against criticism in the United States. Disregarding real anti-Semites, serious criticism is often much softer than the most trenchant criticism within Israel itself. This is repeatedly affirmed, but still we hear from the ADL every time a politician voices even mild criticism of certain actions of the State of Israel.

It is in light of my own ambivalent attitude towards Zionism, if not the reality of Israel, that I found this piece at AlterNet by Tony Karon, a senior editor at The growing volume of criticism of various policies of the State of Israel voiced both within Israel and in the wider world is rooted in a growing refusal by Jews outside Israel to accept the insistence that Jewish identity is wrapped up in Zionism. Among Karon's wonderful gems in an article overflowing with substantiations of my own views, however tentative, is the following:
The Zionist establishment has had remarkable success over the past half-century in convincing others that Israel and its supporters speak for, and represent, "the Jews." The value to their cause of making Israel indistinguishable from Jews at large is that it becomes a lot easier to shield Israel from reproach. It suggests, in the most emphatic terms, that serious criticism of Israel amounts to criticism of Jews. More than a millennium of violent Christian persecution of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust, has made many in the West rightly sensitive towards any claims of anti-Semitism, a sensitivity many Zionists like to exploit to gain a carte blanche exemption from criticism for a state they claim to be the very personification of Jewishness.

So, despite Israel's ongoing dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, then-Harvard president Larry Summers evidently had no trouble saying, in 2002, that harsh criticisms of Israel are "anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent."

Robin Shepherd of the usually sensible British think-tank Chatham House has gone even further, arguing that comparing Israel with apartheid South Africa is "objective anti-Semitism."

Says Shepherd: "Of course one can criticize Israel, but there is a litmus test, and that is when the critics begin using constant key references to South Africa and the Nazis, using terms such as ‘bantustans.' None of these people, of course, will admit to being racist, but this kind of anti-Semitism is a much more sophisticated form of racism, and the kind of hate-filled rhetoric and imagery are on the same moral level as racism, so gross and distorted that they are defaming an entire people, since Israel is an essentially Jewish project." . . .

Actually, Mr. Shepherd, I'd be more inclined to pin the racist label on anyone who conflates the world's 13 million Jews with a country in which 8.2 million of them -- almost two thirds -- have chosen not to live.

Although you wouldn't know it -- not if you followed Jewish life simply through the activities of such major Jewish communal bodies as the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League -- the extent to which the eight million Jews of the Diaspora identify with Israel is increasingly open to question (much to the horror of the Zionist-oriented Jewish establishment). In a recent study funded by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (an important donor to Jewish communal organizations), Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman revealed that their survey data had yielded some extraordinary findings: In order to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a "personal tragedy." Less than half of those aged under 35 answered "yes" and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state.

As groups such as the Jewish Agency in Israel (which aims to promote Jewish immigration) and the American Jewish committee expressed dismay over the findings, Cohen and Kelman had more bad news: They believed they were seeing a long-term trend that was unlikely to be reversed, as each generation of American Jews becomes even more integrated into the American mainstream than its parents and grandparents had been. The study, said Cohen, reflected "very significant shifts that have been occurring in what it means to be a Jew."

Cohen's and Kelman's startling figures alone underscore the absurdity of Shepherd's suggestion that to challenge Israel is to "defame an entire people."

I fully expect there to be all sorts of horrid things said about me and this post; it has happened before, and will happen again, I am sure. It is nice, however, to read someone say what needs to be said, even if it results in the slings and arrows of outrageous epithets, such as "Jewish anti-Semitism", "Jewish self-hatred", etc.

A Personal Rambling Post on Autumn

There is a nip in the air this morning, although not nearly as much of a nip as northern Minnesota had yesterday (apparently there was snow in International Falls, that most glacial of spots in the continental US). I have been thinking more and more about the coming of fall and my own various reactions to seasonal changes in my life. For the most part, I have enjoyed especially the early months of autumn. Growing up in the valley formed by the confluence of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers five miles south, I can appreciate now even more than I did then the stunning view of miles upon miles of hills of red and yellow trees. Fall was also the time that signaled, in childhood into early adulthood, the onset of a new school/college/seminary year. While enjoying summer vacations immensely, by mid-August I was usually bored and ready for a return to something like the normal life of the variety of scheduled activities school brought (although I will admit I was never a great one for homework).

In my early- to mid-20's however, I for some reason convinced myself that I much preferred summer over autumn, and that autumn was a gloomy, cheerless time. I have always been a bit susceptible to what has since become known as "Seasonal Affective Disorder", and what (I believe it was) my mother referred to as "The Winter Blahs". I have never been fond of the reduced hours of sunlight; by late December, with sunlight fading by 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, I am more than ready for the return of spring. This went on for a while until I remembered that there is more to both autumn and winter than the shortening of the days.

With children in school, and a renewed adherence to an antiquated school schedule, I am once again returning to thoughts about the joys, different but no less substantial, of autumn. Summer, no less now than in my childhood and youth, does certainly have its wonders and joys, but the excessive heat, the lack of structure, and the creeping boredom of a lack of outside stimulus all make me welcome, again, the coming of fall and winter.

Consider this an opportunity to reminisce and offer your own feelings on the declining months of the year.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jim Wallis Gets Smashed - Go AngryPastor!

Over at Street Prophets, Pastor Dan takes down Jim Wallis and it is a sight to behold. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of Jim Wallis. I am glad to see that others share the sentiment, for pretty much the same reason. His preening, self-important style ("Gee, I was at an international conference the other day . . ..", "I have a plan to end the war that sounds an awful lot like George Bush's plan only we won't call it that . . ."), his ignorance of theology even as he tries to talk about it ("I'll use the name 'Augustine' and the phrase 'just war' in a sentence to make me look smart . . ."), and his failure to distinguish between people around the world and Christians around the world (most people aren't Christians, Jim, and we should probably respect that) all show him up as the fraud that he most certainly is.

As Pastor Dan points out, the most important thing from a Christian point of view isn't a survey of various Christian theologies. It isn't cocktail chatter at meaningless international events with other pompous preeners. It is solidarity with and for those who suffer. Such solidarity is pretty difficult from the distance of time, space, culture, and faith that we American Christians currently have, so the best we can do is work to end this insane bloody nightmare. We can offer the hand of peace and friendship to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We can demand an end to religious cleansing in Iraq. We can demand that our country open its borders to those fleeing the chaos we have caused by our unjust, stupid on-going war, and the subsequent religious and political civil war our evacuating power from the venter in Iraq has caused. We might even show ourselves willing, as the leader of the hip hop caucus showed us, to put one's body in danger of official distrust and silencing of dissent. Wallis offers us nothing but pabulum and platitude, most of which show he is woefully uninformed and ill-suited to anything but self-promotion. We must be challengers of the status quo, not players within its borders and its (not very) comforting illusions.

Minister Beaten, Arrested - for Wanting to Attend a Congressional Hearing

This happened on Monday, but I only saw the video today. It is exactly as described. Rev. Yearwood, of the Hip Hop Caucus, an ordained clergyman in the Church of God in Christ, was attempting to enter the combined House hearing on Monday morning. He was stopped, and first one, then two, then four officers approached him, preventing him from entering. As they attempted to lead him away, he exercised his quite honest indignation, not having been advised of the charges against him or the reasons for his detention. He was, as described, tackled by all four officers, and amid officers' shouts of "Stop Resisting!", repeatedly cried out, "I'm not resisting". Onlookers kept calling out, "Take it easy," and "He's a minister". A woman asked one of the officers/defensive backfield members what the charges were. The answer was resisting arrest; he was being removed because of a button that said, "I support the Iraqi people" - hardly the stuff of revolution. The woman who asked the original question acted with wonderful sarcasm.

Rev. Yearwood ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, among other injuries.

This is George Bush's America.

Faking It (UPDATE with Debat rebuttal)

You just know the media aren't going to cover this one.

It seems that one of the key sources of information for public consumption on the looming threat to all things American posed by the horrid regime in Iran has a bit of a credibility problem:
In its Summer 2007 issue, Politique Internationale, a well-regarded review founded by Dr Patrick Wajsman, published an interview with the US Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination to be US president.

The interview was quite a scoop for the French magazine, the senator, up to that point, had given few interviews to the foreign press. Obama discussed his campaign and gave an explosive assessment of the Iraq war:

"It is a defeat for the United States, indeed. And we will pay the consequences for this defeat for a very a long time.There is no longer any way to turn this defeat into victory. It is too late."

But soon, Politique Internationale found they had a problem.

Barack Obama never gave such an interview, ever. According to the magazine, the interview was conducted by Alexis Debat, "a researcher and specialist in issues of intelligence and counter-terrorism."

Debat is a well-known "expert" in Washington with an impressive resume: He serves as a fellow at the Nixon Center, a conservative think tank; he collaborates with The National Interest; a quarterly journal of international affairs; he has been consultant to ABC News for years. He belongs to the "expert market" of Washington DC.He appears credible, and the media often quotes him on matters pertaining to terrorism and Islam.

I only heard about this evolving mess today in this second piece by David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo. The relevance of this particular bit of fake journalism is, if you have not clicked on the links, that Debat is not just a fraud and a liar in print, but pushes his lies as the basis for serial false stories for ABC News, a place apparently no more willing to check its sources than all those other media outlets who preach to bloggers about our lack of ethics and credibility.

This is very relevant considering the following bit from Gen. Petraeus' appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday:

To sum up a very involved story, Debat is the highly dubious source for multiple erroneous stories on the coming conflict with Iran. For over a year now - really since the failed Israeli war with Hezbollah last summer - the right has been ratcheting up the rhetoric over the Coming War with Iran. Whether it is the Iranian nuclear program, or alleged links to Iraqi insurgents, or the questionable remarks of the current Iranian President, everything is amplified, distorted, and presented as a series of casus belli, only to be refuted again and again by sober second, third, and fourth thoughts, and serious journalists who have no paranoid ax to grind. One would think that, this being the case, ABC might do an entire evening where it exposed its own failures in journalistic ethics, and corrected the serial misrepresentations by a source now exposed as a fraud and a liar. One might think this was a moral and political duty, considering that ABC owes its existence as a television network to the public airwaves, over which it operates in the public interest.

I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting for such an action on the part of ABC.

UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, and to keep myself from getting sued, I thought it fair to post Debat's public rebuttal of charges that he is, and has perpetrated, fraud:
To Whom It May Concern,

Pascal Riché’s article in “Rue 89” raises very serious questions about my integrity and my credentials, and puts my entire professional life in jeopardy. This is my point by point response below:

1.The interview with Senator Barack Obama did happen through a third party. A journalist named Rob Sherman approached me last spring with an offer to conduct the interview on my behalf. I wrote up the questions and got the answers in writing. My only mistake was to sign this interview in my name, following Rob’s request. I did not conduct this interview in person with the senator, but it did take place. I recognize that putting my name on it was a mistake, for which I take full responsibility.

2.Pascal Riché claims that “I have a reputation for making up stories”. This is a slanderous assertion supported by no facts. In my 5 and a half years at ABC News, I have not once “made up stories” or been suspected of coming forward with false or even weak information. In fact, I have broken many terrorism-related stories over the years. Anybody can check this directly with ABC. If I was such a “fabulist”, as Mr. Riché claims, I would not have survived a single day in such an environment.

3.Mr. Riché claims that I asserted to have a diploma from a fake and fraudulent institution called Edenvale University. I have never made such an assertion, nor claimed to hold a “diploma” from that university. None of the biographies accessible online mention this. I am fully aware that Edenvale University is a false institution. Again, this is a slanderous assertion not supported by any facts.

4.I did work for the Institut Montaigne under Bruno Ehrard-Steiner in 2001-2002, in the very beginning of the organization. I helped Bruno lay out a plan for establishing strategic relations with think-tanks in the United States. This can be checked directly with Mr. Ehrard-Steiner (who is now a spokesperson for Merck France) at .

5.On the subject of the legitimacy of my PhD, the article once again mentions inaccurate and incomplete information. I was indeed recently made aware of an administrative problem with regard to the completion of my PhD, which I am in the process of sorting out through legal means. My thesis was completed in 1999, and is registered at the Sorbonne, as indicated in this website: Never did I forge any document or diploma. Mr. Kaspi, who is quoted in the piece, was not my thesis director.

6.I did work for the “Fondation Agir Contre l’Exclusion” as a volunteer in the “preadolescent” program in 1994, doing work on social integration in poor neighborhoods around Paris. This again can be easily checked by contacting any of the fondation’s officials listed here:

7.The article then proceeds to mention slanderous and inaccurate rumors about my assertions regarding my time in the French military, without mentioning sources or facts. This again appears nowhere in my biographies or CVs, and is pure hearsay and slander.

I take full responsibility for my actions and my credentials. I did make a serious mistake in handling the interview with Senator Barack Obama. But this article is an attempt to discredit and destroy me personally in a slanderous and completely inaccurate way.

I have already taken steps to bring legal action against Mr. Riché and “Rue89”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Living With Questions - What Real Teaching Is All About

Fellow blogger and Best Okie Blog nominee Erudite Redneck has a post on the idea of "false teachers", considering 2 Peter 2:1-22. Synchronistically, Adam at Pomomusings (which I haven't had a chance to peruse recently, unfortunately) has a review of a recent book, Questions to All Your Answers by Baylor University theologian Roger Olson. Also, somewhat synchronistically, Neil at 4simpsons has recently written a post on the priority of answers over questions in the Christian life (I know I promised never to darken his doorway again, but I saw this one earlier, and had to go there to find the link). All of this has led me to wonder over the nature of teaching, whether in a Christian context or otherwise.

Part of any process of learning, of course, is being given all sorts of information - the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; the multiplication tables; Newton's laws of motion - that are a part of what it means to be an educated person. Yet, if the sole purpose of education is pumping otherwise empty minds full of unconnected facts, it is a paltry thing indeed. Much more important, it seems to me, is teaching children the lifelong habit of thinking for themselves. I believe that the thread that binds these otherwise disparate posts to which I have linked is my own feeling that the most important, and most difficult, achievement of any teacher, is the gift of questioning. Was the Declaration of Independence actually signed on the 4th of July, or the 2nd of July? Was the Civil War fought over slavery or states' rights over and against the authority of the federal government? Did Descartes compose laws of inertia and motion before Newton?

Now, of course, these questions all have answers that are both readily available and, depending upon one's preference for digging, easy to understand. Much more difficult to inculcate and sustain is a desire to ask questions that have either no easy answer or at least no answer as easily available as those to the questions posed above. Is justice, equality, or freedom the primary public good? Is economic freedom the same thing as political freedom? The most basic question, at once both simple and unanswerable, is the root of all religion, science, and philosophy - Why is there something rather than nothing? Ultimately unanswerable, this question nevertheless encapsulates all the hopes, fears, dreams, delusions, and both the banality and profundity of existence. Just because we recognize that it can never be answered with anything like equanimity or a final conclusion does not mean it should be ignored. It is the question that leads to all others. Asking this question is the most basic human response to the wonder and terror of existence.

The same approach applies to the life of faith as much as any other area. It is both unsettling and liberating to realize that the answers one assumed at one time to be bedrock-solid have faded like mist in the noonday sun of further reflection and experience. The thoughtlessness and (as no other word is really appropriate) authoritarianism implicit in an approach the privileges answers over questions - especially questions for which there really isn't an answer - deprives human beings of their most precious gift from a loving God, a mind to contemplate the possibilities inherent in living a life that ends in silence. Resting comfortably either in one's childish preference for quick fixes or supine devotion to those who provide solutions for the insoluble are hardly recipes for serious grappling with the mystery of the Christian faith.

It is all well and good to offer examples of how to begin searching for clues, if not answers, to the ponderables of life through Bible study, etc. I believe, however, that surrendering the God-given gift of thought for the quick fixes of the divinely inspired purveyors of spiritual snake oil is a sin against God. I do not believe that answers are important in the Christian life, precisely because I believe that there are no answers. Life, Christian or not, is not a test. There is no crib sheet at the end that shows us whether we were right or wrong. All there is is doing the best we can as we go, satisfying ourselves perhaps for the moment that we have achieved some satisfactory response to all the conundrums of life, only to realize we were clueless after all.

Living With Fear, Part II

John Amato at Crooks and Liars highlights part of a GQ interview with Colin Powell, the first part of which should be repeated daily, as it is almost a mantra for facing the world as it really is:
What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves.

Now, before we all get friendly and start hugging one another, I need to make clear that I think Colin Powell has much to answer for, most especially his egregiously fact-free presentation before the United Nations on the eve of war back in 2003. We are where we are now partly because Powell, who had his doubts about this venture from the beginning, never once spoke out clearly about his own doubts. He allowed himself to be used by Bush as a sock-puppet for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the President.

His moral and political culpability do not negate the correctness of his words here, however.

I have heard over and over in the time I have been blogging of the threat to our very existence posed by "Islamofascists" who "want to kill us" and/or "convert us" and "put our women in burkhas". My initial reaction to this has always been laughter. No amount of laughter, however, seems to deter those who profess these beliefs from repeating them, ad nauseum, like a Zen koan, clearing the mind of thought.

It is undoubtedly true there are many, not just Muslims, but a whole host of different people for a whole host of reasons, who wish harm upon the United States and/or the people of the United States. Constructing an entire foreign, and now domestic (all those brown people swimming the Rio Grande want to force-feed us tamales mariachi music, don't you know), policy around such threats is without a doubt stupid, demonstrably counter-productive, and corrosive of our best traditions and laws. It is one thing to admit that there are threats out there - whether they are lurking serial killers, pedophiles, terrorists, or whatever - but it is another thing entirely to surrender to our fears of these and make them the center of our lives, whether private or public.

We should be better than that. The past six-and-a-half years have been an unmitigated disaster, an object lesson in what happens when the power-hungry exploit the fearful for political purposes. We would do better if we recognized that we can only destroy ourselves, as we have been doing piece by piece since September 11, 2001. No number of buildings collapsing can unmake the United States; only the careful manipulations of fear-mongers have been able to achieve that.

Living With Fear, Part I

We all have our own personal worst-fears-ever. My own, based partly on Thomas Harris' first Hannibal Lecter novel Red Dragon, is a home invasion by a psycho who kills me and my entire family. When I say this is a fear, I have to admit that every creak of our house settling, every thump of our dog turning over, every car door clamming at 3 a.m. becomes the looming specter of a crazed serial killer. My fear-meter has recently gone over to red as I have read of a series of late-night home invasions in our area, resulting in the injury of the home-owner. As I am away all but two nights a week, there are moments when the thoughts creep in, and work becomes intolerable.

Not long after my wife and I settled here in Poplar Grove in 2004, her mother came for the 10 o'clock service. After that service is a coffee-and-snack fellowship time. As we went about our fun, my mother-in-law came up and asked me where my daughters were. I answered, with neither worry nor concern, "I think they might be in the nursery, but I really don't know." I was speaking from experience - they tended at the time to head down that way - and turned out to be right. To my initial nonchalance, however, my mother-in-law (whom I love dearly) expressed shock. "What about stranger danger?" she said, and one could hear the italics. I answered that I refused to live in perpetual fear that horrible things are lurking around every corner of my children's lives. Now, without bragging, may I just say that my daughters are eminently snatchable, fitting a certain profile (petite, the younger is a tow-headed blonde) that seems attractive to those in pursuit of such prey. I am hardly naive enough to believe that there are not those out there who wish unmentionable, unthinkable harm not just to my daughters in particular, but to young girls everywhere. Yet, what could possibly be accomplished by constructing my entire approach to parenting around the constant fear of imminent death and desecration of my children? What possible good does that do?

These reflections are to highlight the fact that we all have fears. Some of them are real fears; the threat to my daughters' safety includes the usual "Don't-talk-to-strangers" stuff, and warnings about the internet (no names or other private info, etc., etc.). Some of them, however, like my own phobia about lurking serial-killers in the closet, are as far-fetched as can be imagined. This doesn't mean I don't leave my doors unlocked at night. It just means that I recognize that my fear is a real fear, but it really has no basis in reality; I am more likely to be struck down by cholera or hemorrhagic fever than I am to be the target of a serial killer invading my home late at night.

We as a country have failed to deal with fears. We refuse to name fears as "fears"; instead we hear incessant gab about "threats" and what we "need to do" to "counter them". This is more in the vein of neurotic behavior than it is the positive outcome of rational, calm consideration. We are, in other words, a nation in desperate need of operant conditioning. We all need to learn to live with our fears, including refusing to allow them to rule our lives.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Move On, Admiral Fallon, and Gen. Petraeus

This is the ad that placed in The New York Times that is causing such a fuss. I would say that I do not know what all the fuss is about, except I know all too well what all the fuss is about - hanging another albatross around the neck of Democrats in Congress. I think the Democrats should simply not play the game, but of course they are. Sorry to say it, but Gen. Petraeus is fair game for criticism, especially as it became abundantly clear that the report he was giving to Congress was to come, by the terms of the statute requiring it, from the White House. This is another one of those lies of the right, "Some Democrats are calling it the 'Bush Report'", as if they were making it up out of whole-cloth. Petraeus' comments before the combined House committee on Monday showed exactly the point - he protested that his report was in his words; he made no such claim on Tuesday, because he couldn't.

Over at Think Progress is a report that Gen. Petraeus commanding officer, Central Command Supreme Commander Adm. William Fallon, said of Petraeus:
Fallon told Petraeus [in March] that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickensh*t” and added, “I hate people like that”

One can almost hear the gears starting to turn in the right-wing smear-machine as they take aim at Adm. Fallon. Petraeus, after all, is the hero du jeur, above reproach because of his years of service, etc., etc. Fallon, like the previous generals and admirals who either left the service or were fired (sometimes being demoted by a Republican Congress in the process) because they refused to toe the Bush line, is an honest, serious, patriotic person who managed to tell the truth. As Harry Truman remarked, sometimes the truth feels like hell.

All of this, however, is part of the larger meaningless political theater to which we are spectators, and in which, while we have a huge stake, we have no voice. Yesterday's hearing was meaningless. Monday's hearing was meaningless. Congress will change nothing. The troops will stay in Iraq until the end of Bush's term. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, more will die for no reason. Meanwhile, our military gets weaker, our ability to respond to real threats and real crises decreases almost exponentially, all because the Democrats in Congress are afraid some Republican somewhere might call him or her a wimp. It is pathetic, really. I would much rather a Democrat would echo Adm. Fallon and call Petraeus a chickenshit kiss-ass (and pardon my profanity).

More On the Trinity

I wrote a couple days ago some general remarks on a re-interpretation of that most confounding of Christian teachings, the doctrine of the Trinity. I thought it necessary to make some further remarks to both deepen my own initial comments, and add some clarification.

First, I think it is necessary to say that we moderns are not the only ones who have serious reservations about so confusing and self-contradictory a statement, viz., that God is both One and Three distinct Persons. Indeed, the reasons for hundreds of years of debate and dissension, for another century and a half of serious, sometimes violent, disagreement and mutual anathematizing, is that critics of the emerging consensus were quite rightly wary of something as confounding as this becoming an official teaching of the Church. Their arguments that it was un-Biblical, irrational, counter-intuitive, and too complicated for most laity to grasp were all spot on. The group centered around Arius, Bishop of Antioch, was far and away the more numerous; the Goths who invaded Rome were Arian Christians. Constantine was baptized by an Arian-supporting Bishop. At the Council of Nicaea, called by the Emperor to end the controversy that was splitting the newly-ordained Imperial religion, the party of Athanasius of Alexandria (whose arguments, while subtle, tended to be not very convincing), were a distinct minority. They prevailed as much through intrigue and ruthlessness as much as because they had Truth on their side. I believe that, for the most part, most Christians today would much prefer a less confusing, more amenable understanding of who (or perhaps what?) God is than the repetition of "Father, Son, Holy Ghost".

Yet, what does the teaching offer us? If we accept the metaphysical vocabulary of the original formulation (something I for one do not think necessary; in fact, I think it is more a hindrance than a help), we are confronted by a people who were wrestling to come to terms with certain elements of the Christian communities' encounter with God, summed up by St. Paul in the second letter to the Corinthians: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself". This summary of the Christian witness is the pivot-point, not just of our faith, but of our experience of God. I think it is important to be clear that this summary statement is hollow of meaning unless we really wrestle with it. Of course, we are free to reject each and every word of it on the merits. It is important to remember, however, that the millions of words, the thousands of lives, the whole history of the Christian movement, from its early years and centuries to its current waning and eclipse, have been a struggle to understand what those words of an itinerant tent-maker might mean. Who is this God? What does it mean for "God" to be in an individual human being? What does "reconciliation" mean? Why is it necessary? How is it possible for human beings to come to understand, believe, and live out these words? All of these are the central thrust of the necessity of the endless argument that is Christian theology.

The Trinity, buried perhaps in some nascent form in this sentence of St. Paul, is a synopsis not of the Divine Essence, or the Divine Process, or the Divine Life. The Trinity is synopsis of the Christian witness, of the Christian experience of revelation, and of the hope and faith and love that we live out. I have great respect for Unitarian Christians who find Trinitarian Doctrine unnecessarily confusing and perhaps antiquated, for the most part because I, too, have felt that way at times. At the same time, I believe the Trinity as a way of describing our human encounter with God (not of who and what God is or might be) is a good entry point for understanding the dynamic nature of the grace of God expressed in the Christian witness to Jesus as Christ.

Post 9/11 Thoughts

Via Digby, an article by Gary Kamiya in Salon ends thus:
Like a vibration that causes a bridge to collapse, the 9/11 attacks exposed grave weaknesses in our nation's defenses, our national institutions and ultimately our national character. Many more Americans have now died in a needless war in Iraq than were killed in the terror attacks, and tens of thousands more grievously wounded. Billions of dollars have been wasted. America's moral authority, more precious than gold, has been tarnished by torture and lies and the erosion of our liberties. The world despises us to an unprecedented degree. An entire country has been wrecked. The Middle East is ready to explode. And the threat of terrorism, which the war was intended to remove, is much greater than it was.

All of this flowed from our response to 9/11. And so, six years later, we need to do more than mourn the dead. We need to acknowledge the blindness and bigotry that drove our response. Until we do, not only will the stalemate over Iraq persist, but our entire Middle Eastern policy will continue down the road to ruin.

Yesterday was a day to remember and to mourn anew. I felt little need to say much more than just recall those terrible, horrible hours. Now, like September 12, 2001, it is time to recover from the initial shock and, perhaps, make an assessment of where we were, where we are, and how we might be somewhere else that is a more fitting tribute to those who lost their lives so horrifically that day.

I remember well the summer of 2001. My younger daughter was born June 6 that year, and the whole summer was one grand day after another - the weather was glorious, work was going more than well, the country, despite the divisive nature of the previous year's election, seemed content. I also remember thinking, and telling my wife sometime that summer, that I believed George W. Bush would be a one-term President. His numbers were already low. Because of official maladroitness in soothing the overinflated ego of Sen. Jim Jeffords, the Republicans lost control of the Senate six months after an election divided it evenly. Even Bush's Solomon-like handling of the stem-cell research funding issue showed him to be ill-suited to the Office; he couldn't even announce a bad policy well.

It has been said that "Everything Changed" because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Actually, very little, in general, has changed. The sun still rises and sets. Rain still falls. Children are born, young and old couples marry, parents hug their children at night before bed. Evil and good still wend their way through our lives, individual and communal, in a never-ending dance. Yet, we still gaze in fear, horror, and sadness at the images of That Day, and wonder "Why?" and "What next?"

I thought, in what might surprise some readers as post-9/11 generosity, the George Bush handled the immediate aftermath of the attacks quite well. While his speech that night was awful, and his later address to Congress not much better, his handling of the public outrage against Islam was handled well. His insistence on offering space to Muslim clerics, his repeated demand that we not turn what had happened in to an excuse for hating Muslims, or slandering Islam, was not just welcome, but I thought some of his best moments.

Just like everything else, however, he managed to take this opportunity and turn it in to what has turned out to be the biggest, deadliest blunder, in our history. Not just the war and subsequent occupation. The shredding of the Constitution; the bitter, petty partisanship; the silencing of dissent; the cowing of the Democratic Party (which continues to this day); the slow but inevitable descent in to the unreality of our current historical moment, where we are forced to watch the spectacle of political theater trump what should be the necessities of rational policy - the ultimate victory of image over substance. All of these things can and should be laid at the feet of George W. Bush.

Yet, we, too, share part of the blame. We allowed ourselves to be silenced. We allowed our media to throw away its critical edge and boost this war, as well as marginalize the anti-war sentiment that was always large if not always predominant. We allowed ourselves to continue to believe that Saddam Hussein had a hand in the terror attacks. We allowed our elected representatives to set aside their Constitutional prerogatives and hand so much power over to the executive. When it all became too much and we elected a new Congress to correct the mistakes of the previous five years, we allowed that new Congress to fail in its duty. The shadow of those burning, falling towers still hangs over too much of our national life; while it is important to remember - indeed, to never forget - it is also important to remember that, at this remove in time and space, we are not where we should be, and we have far to go to redress the imbalance in our public lives and, most importantly, apprehend and/or kill those responsible.

Once we accept our responsibility for the current imbalance in our political life, we may be enabled and empowered to try to change things. That is my greatest, fondest hope, my earnest, fervent prayer, and the reason I continue to write these little missives of mine each day. We need to save ourselves most, not from al Q'aeda, but from ourselves.

Monday, September 10, 2007

On "I"

Another of those constructive posts I was talking about. If Marshall thought I was being overly intellectual and obscurantist before, he'll really like this one.

Most statements of faith begin, "I believe". I would like to make some points about the "I" in this phrase. First, and foremost, "I" as a description and/or shorthand for an individual is somewhat dubious. Despite Descartes's famous declaration, "Cogito, ergo sum", it is in fact questionable whether or not such a thing as "I" exists at all. After all, how do I tell others who I am? I tell them I am a husband, a father, perhaps I also tell them I am a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a worker, a citizen, a Christian. All these terms are relational; who I am is always understood as who I am relative to others. None of them sums up "I", and yet putting them all together does not sum up "I", either. This is the mystery of identity - it is a movement between the self and others, a constant negotiation that leaves the status of the self always in flux. Time and tide, as it were, leave their mark.

For the purposes of a statment concerning what I believe, I think it necessary to place myself within a certain context, the Church. Even saying that, however, is an abstraction, because there really is no such entity as "The Church". There are various churches, which in turn are parts (some of them) of larger bodies known as denominations. It might be more accurate to say that I am a United Methodist, placing my claim to the Christian faith within that historic tradition.

Yet, the United Methodist Church has roots that stretch beyond just John Wesley and Francis Asbury. There are the EUB roots, as well, in the non-episcopal Arminian tradition of the Evangelical and Church of the Brethren. Wesley himself was a priest in the Church of England, whose governing doctrine continues to be the 39 Articles. Wesley himself read widely, and drew from, the Church Fathers, especially the Greek Fathers, who in turn owe a debt not just to their predecessors, but to Plato and Plotinus as well. In other words, by saying I am a United Methodist, there is this whole stream of life and thought that has shaped me and the community of which I am a part. At the same time, I have myself read widely, and draw inspiration from, Reformed and Catholic traditions, as well as the Anabaptist tradition. For me, then, to say "The Church" is in some way an echo of the author of Hebrews' "Great Cloud of Witnesses" - that communion of saints which is the strange ever-presence of those both living and dead who inform and shape us through relationship. We do not exist of, for, or by ourselves. "I" is a very limited construct, indeed.

The debt I owe so many up to this very moment for shaping the person I am now can never be repaid. It would certainly be wrong of me to deny this debt by saying, "I am me without any need of others for my identity". It is both factually inaccurate and spiritually void. When I say, "I believe" at the beginning of the creed, the "I" is really shorthand for "this particular individual who is part of a community of believers, living and dead, who continue to live in their witness through him".

The heroic self, either of myth or American frontier ideology, is a dangerous abstraction. We need to discard it, and remember that we are not apart, but a part.

Music Monday

The calendar may say it is still summer, but for me, it's Fall. Just as spring and summer have their songs for me, so, too, does autumn. The first is by the appropriately named October Project, a short lived pop/folk group based in Nashville whose lead singer has the single best voice I have ever heard. This woman is the only person for whom the cliche about singing the phonebook would apply. She now performs solo. Nothing they have recorded has the emotional power of this song, called "Bury My Lovely":

Next is the British band Porcupine Tree, a band that originally began as an attempt at parody. The problem was the members, for whom Porcupine Tree was a side project, soon discovered that the music they were writing and performing was better than anything they had done, and getting a wider following than the music their own bands were doing. This is "Lazarus" from Deadwing:

There are rare moments in a person's life that stand out, even as they are happening, as vivid, precious, irreplaceable. One such time was the late-summer through mid-winter, 1991-1992. Seminary was going more than well, I was part of a group of friends and fellow-students to whom I was closer than any other group in my life, and there was a very special woman in my life, the only one beside my wife I can honestly say my love was honest and complete. That she was the first such made her very special indeed. One fine Friday evening in September, we missed a movie date because we spent the evening walking hand in hand through the neighborhood around Wesley Seminary, telling one another about our lives (we were very self-conscious and deliberate about how we went about being together). After missing our movie time, we went to a pizzeria in Bethesda, on Wisconsin Ave, after which she said, "The perfect ending to this day would be to fall asleep in you arms." The day ended perfectly . . .
The next day, as I sat and read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ethics, I listened to Julia Fordham. This song, "Porcelain", perfectly captured my feelings at the time, and reminds me of that very special weekend.

This Magic Moment

So Gen. Petraeus and Amabassador Crocker are before two Congressional Committees today in the premiere of The September Report. One would be more enthusiastic about this if there were some indication that either one of them would do anything other than toe the Administration line, plead for more time, more money, and more patience. As all the independent, thoughtful Generals have either been fired or quit in disgust, we are left with this toadying sycophant and his mindless civilian counterpart mouthing words we have heard so many times before.

The worst part about it is that it is, and was specifically, so predicted and predictable. What are we left with? Nothing, of course, except a "defense" of the status quo, with the Democrats mouthing meaningless protests and the entire Republican political and media establishment are praising the greatness and purity of Petraeus, and the Absolute Truth of Every Word that flows from his mouth. Meanwhile, in the real world, Iraqis and Americans continue to die, with no strategy on one side and political chaos on the other. All during the 1990's, we kept hearing from Republicans that the Washington Establishment was irrelevant to the lives of Real Americans. Now, we are seeing that it is irrelevant even to the conduct of the war. They have at least managed to make their complaints reality, at the cost of only a few thousand ordinary lives.

Of course, the real news is Britney Spears' abysmal performance at the VMAs last night.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is This A Parody? Is It A Sting Operation? Or Is It Real?

Tristero at digby's blog highlights this site called Marry Our Daughter. The site advertises itself as, essentially, a brokerage service for people who believe in "Bible-based" arranged marriages. The "testimonials", however, seem to indicate those who so advertise are in straightened circumstances looking for Sugar Daddies, at least.

Over at Science Blogs, they seem to be of the opinion it is a phony site, set up either as a parody, or is a federal sting operation either to catch those looking for young women for the international porn-and-prostitution trade or sexual predators who prefer their quarry to be a tad younger than the law permits. I might lean that way if it weren't for the fact that, even if it is, there doesn't seem to be a law against dowries of which I am aware (it is tactless, tasteless, and unethical, but I doubt it is particularly illegal). Also, most states allow underage girls to marry as long as their parents give them permission to do so (I work with a woman who married at fourteen).

If it's a pardoy site, it does seem to be very professionally done. Most parody sites leave some tell-tale clue that they are, in fact, one long joke. I can only conclude that, despite its very over-the-top nature and questionable ethical basis, this is the real McCoy. I must admit, however, that no one would be happier than I should I be proved wrong. Check it out and let me know, OK?

On The Trinity

I announced my intention yesterday to write some contructive pieces on various theological topics, in an effort to show that I can do more than just pick on people who disagree with me. I doubt these will attract nearly the amount of attention as some other pieces, but what the heck.

It is confusing. Its basic definition is unintelligible, not just to we moderns, but to most people. It is contradictory. It is unbiblical in the strictest sense. It adds little to faith, or ethics, or contemplation. It is unnecessary. All of these have been said, at one time or another, by Christian theologians, about the most baffling, yest inescapable, teaching - that the God we worship, while one God, is manifest in three Distinc Divine Persons, to which we apply the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine itself took hundreds of years to develp, work through, and give an intial definition to. It then took another century and a half to work out the kinks. Different understandings led to a split between the eastern and western churches in 1054. Even most of those who mouth the words could not give an adequate summation of what the Trinity means, for them, other than something that we Christians say about God.

For me, the teaching of the Trinity is most certainly a baffling one. It is also, alas for die-hard rationalists both within and without, inescapable. Even should we wish to dispense with it, we still have to wrestle with it. I for one believe that while its Biblical roots are debatable, its original metaphysical form untenable, and its very confusing nature more of a hindrance to faith for most people than a help, the teaching of the Trinity is a good way of summing up the way the Christian community describes its encounter with God, revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and granted to us through faith which is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that we do ourselves much more harm than good if we get too caught up in discussions of the distinction between what has been called the "economic" versus the "immanent" Trinity; the depth and extent of the Divine perichoresis and the consequent question of patripassianism; distinctions between modalistic heresies and the like. When we start down the road of metaphysical understandings, we end up in a place that loses the vitality of the teaching of the Trinity - the diversity of the human experience of God. A monistic (as opposed to a Unitarian) God is much too rigid, too limited. To contemplate the experience of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - to experience the necessity of relationship for God, a necessity explicit in the first Johannine letter, which says that "God is love" - is to understand that the static nature of metaphysics denies what the Christian community confesses by invoking the Trinitarian formula - God is not Being; God is Being With. Most assuredly being with us as those called by this God to work in and for the world.

The dynamism implicit in the Trinitarian confession is the dynamism of a God not seated on a throne, as in Isaiah, or the dynamism of a God who orders Moses to shield his eyes and only glimpse the Divine Person from the back. The dynamism of the Trinity is the victory of life over death, love over hatred, of grace over sin (not law!). The Trinitarian confession is the confession that God is not just with us, Emmanuel. The Trinitarian confession is the confession that God is for us. God with us explicitly means that God is for us - and not just those who confess this faith, but all of humanity.

I must confess that I didn't "get it" for a long time, and refused to confess the Trinity. In church, when the formula was stated, I just remained silent. WHen I surrendered my own adherence to nonsensical metaphysical gibberish, however, and opened myself to the dynamism of the Christian history of faith - both in its best and worst aspects - and looked around me at the ways faithful of all kinds were struggling with what it means to be a Christian, I understood in a new and to me much more helpful way what it means to speak of God as One in Three Persons. It is, in a way, equivalent to God's refusal to give a proper name to Moses. Rather, what the LORD gives, the sacred tetragrammaton, is a verb. This is no simple creature raised through some dynamic process to the status of deity. This is the God who calls, calls forth, creates out of nothing not just the world, but a people who were no people and are now the people of this God and LORD. The Trinity is a way of insisting that God cannot be reduced to a formula, but is a living presence in the lives of the communities of faith. Like Jacob, we always struggle with this God. Like Jacob, should we be flush with our own strength, we learn that this God cheats, hamstringing us. Like Jacob, we come away blessed because of the struggle.

I confess loudly, and I must say proudly, my faith in the Trinity as the unique experience of Christian communities as they try to understand the dynamic, loving experience of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, and professed through the mystery of the Holy Spirit. I see no reason to get caught up in questions of "persons" or "substance" because they were only temporary, contingent ways of defining the ever-changing, never-flagging presence of God With and For Us. When we confess God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are not speaking of the Divine Entelechy (to get all high-falutin' on y'all). We are speaking of our own experience as Christians living in community and continuity with Christian communities across both time and space of that wonderful, loving mystery that the Divine Presence not only has come to us, but calls us by name, each and every day.

Concert Review and Final Thoughts

Just between us
I think it's time for us to recognize
Differences we sometimes fear to show.
Just between us
I think it's time for us to realize
Space in between
Leave room
For you and I to grow.
"Entre Nous", lyrics by Neal Peart

If it was just me, I would mark it down to simple enthusiasm. General opinion, however, from all I heard as I made my way out of the show last night was that the show was one of the best ever. For me, not just as a Rush concert, but any concert by any band. They were both loose and tight, free-wheeling and sternly disciplined. In other words, they had it all, plus three and a half hours of blistering music.

Some treats - the second song of the night was "Entre Nous"! I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. They also played over half the new album, went as far back as 2112 for "Train to Bangkok", and played "Witch Hunt" as well (I smiled so broad I thought my face would split).

This is the first concert I have ever been to that was like a family outing. There were parents with their kids, even grandparents with grandkids there. A bit unsettling, I suppose, for a rock show, but for all those youngsters, a real treat.

I suppose that I must confess that, in my current state of mind (not just the past few weeks, but recent months), the ideology presented by the band resonates more and more with me. I have wondered about that, especially as they have a reputation for being much more of a greasy-haired-teenager band, as I remember from my youth. There is a maturity to so many of their songs, however, a depth that provides deeper meanings as life goes on. For teenagers, the stance of rebellious outsider, and being affirmed in that stance, is probably welcome. The band presents an affirmation of non-conformity that most teenagers appreciate. For us older folks, however, there is the on-going questioning of the struggle - how much compromise betrays what we always thought was right? The band presents not so much answers as an affirmation that the struggle continues all through life. Thus, "Subdivisions" can appeal to an outsider at a suburban high school quite nicely; it can also give that kid's parents the courage to understand their child's struggle, and resources to assist, if they so choose.

Am I overplaying their hand? Not at all. At its best, art gives us resources not just for contemplation, but for action. We can not just sit and reflect, but choose to act as we find ourselves strengthened and renewed.

So, after 28 years I have come to the conclusion that, for right now, this band, as it exists right now, speaks to me more than any other. That, and they rocked our socks off last night!

As for "Witch Hunt", watch (and read the lyrics below the video) and tell me whether or not it is pertinent.

The night is black,
Without a moon.
The air is thick and still.

The vigilantes gather on
The lonely torchlit hill.

Features distorted in the flickering light,
The faces are twisted and grotesque.
Silent and stern in the sweltering night,
The mob moves like demons possesed.
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right,
Confident their ways are best.

The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will.

Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and kill.

They say there are strangers who threaten us,
In our immigrants and infidels.
They say there is strangeness, too dangerous
In our theatres and bookstore shelves,
That those who know what's best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves.

Quick to judge,
Quick to anger,
Slow to understand

Ignorance and prejudice
And fear
Walk hand in hand.
Lyrics by Neal Peart

Virtual Tin Cup

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