Monday, December 29, 2008

Ironic Authenticity

At one executive leadership seminar I attended recently, the trainer explained that authenticity was the main attribute delegates needed to radiate, including “different types of authenticity for different audiences”. Jonathan Guthrie in Financial Times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buying Less | Giving More

Black Friday is the image
to read Lisa Belkin's thoughtful post on
buying less and giving more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

open letter to Senator Lieberman

Senator, I heard you explain your attacks on Senator Obama by saying it was in the heat of the campaign and these things happen to all of us. Really, sir? Is that your message to your grandchildren? It's worth noting that Senator Obama did not say, in the heat of the campaign, the kinds of things you said. Your colleagues may look the other way; I don't know if your constituents will. I would say a more reflective mea culpa might cost considerably less than what you're likely to pay for today's schoolboyish dismissal of responsibility for your words. Man up Senator...for the kids.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Now you are the 501(c)(3) of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it

Just as a 501(c)(3), though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one 501(c)(3), so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one 501(c)(3)—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the 501(c)(3) is not made up of one part but of many.

   Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the 501(c)(3),” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the 501(c)(3). And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the 501(c)(3),” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the 501(c)(3). If the whole 501(c)(3) were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole 501(c)(3) were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the 501(c)(3), every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the 501(c)(3) be? As it is, there are many parts, but one 501(c)(3).

   The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the 501(c)(3) that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the 501(c)(3) together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the 501(c)(3), but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

   Now you are the 501(c)(3) of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

— 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 American Reversed Vision

Friday, November 07, 2008

Great Expectations

As a kid I was taught to believe that any boy could grow up to be president and, I supposed, any girl could grow up to be that president’s ...uh...First Lady?

Don’t hit me; that’s the America where I grew up. In fact, quite a few baby women grew up to prove that a woman’s place is not only looking after the House but the Senate as well. They grew up to be Members of Congress and governors and judges and attorneys general. Pretty soon I expect there will be a woman in the Oval Office. Not bad for people who were denied voting rights less than a century ago.

My daughter grew up in a different America — version 2.0 or something like it, I suppose. She grew up knowing, I think, that she enjoys some of the privilege and bears some of the responsibility that goes with that.

Most earthlings never expect to own the roof under which they sleep nor travel on anything but public transportation or on foot. But things are different on the continent where I live. Compared with most people who ever drew a breath on this planet, I and my offspring are lucky — or fortunate if you prefer . . . or blessed.

But that's not how it feels right now. Right now, even suburban children are being taught to believe they’ll be lucky if they have a half decent job that pays enough to afford a house and a car — without which, of course, how can they ever hope to be happy?


Thursday, November 06, 2008


Today I announce the national Blame Me: I Voted For Him campaign.

Details to follow but you get the idea...

Monday, November 03, 2008

a last word on November 3, 2008

posting via iPhone tonight (please pardon any thumbing mistakes) from Pennsylvania where Susan and I are enjoying a few days with her father, Dale.

Today, Dale -- who, at 89, recalls vividly what happened when Americans were willing to employ the strength of our elected government for the common good in another time of economic and political crisis -- put it as clearly as anyone could. "If people like what George Bush has done the last eight years, they should vote for John McCain. If they don't like the last eight years, Obama is their man."

I find no fault in that summary. Senator McCain isn't President Bush but I think he's too close for comfort. Beyond that, I hardly know who he is. Certainly not the Senator who had my grudging respect in the 90s. Senator McCain surrendered significant ground to the Bush Administration on the constitutional doctrine of habeas corpus and historic legal prohibitions prohibiting torture. Senator McCain's lack of curiosity and discernment about economics -- especially after his involvement in the costly Keating financial scandal is disheartening. And then there's the selection of Governor Palin, a choice in which I find no upside.

I don't wish to demonize Senator McCain; I just don't think he's the right person to lead our government.

I like Senator Obama on foreign affairs. I like him on the Constitution, on health care, on tax policy, on the economy (though I feel confident we're in for tough sledding in the economy no matter what). In short, I'm more confident in Senator Obama's worldview than Senator McCain's. Perfect? Of course not. But, as far as I'm concerned, much better.

That's why I voted for Senator Obama in early balloting. It's why Dale will vote for Senator Obama at his polling place tomorrow.

Don't be afraid. This way to the future.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Single-Issue Voting | A Respectful Exchange

A few days ago I wrote in this space, taking sad exception to single-issue voting.

Nate (whom I don't know) responded:
Jim, I was linked to this post by a friend.

While I can agree with some of the individual sentences in your post, taken as a whole I find your logic severely lax. Stated another way, your position seems to be "YOU don't have the moral ground to vote against the murder of innocent babies by the millions each year UNLESS YOU are also committed to funding full healthcare, education, and guaranteed wages for all people."

That is absolute poppycock. By no stretch of the imagination would a reasonable, moral person - and particularly a follower of Christ - say the same thing about the Jewish Holocaust: "you don't have the moral ground to oppose the Nazi genocide of the Jews unless you are also committed to paying for their healthcare, education, and employment."

The issues of education, healthcare, the economy, the war(s), the poor - these are all important issues that should have Christ-followers at their forefronts!

However, the wholesale murder of millions of babies stands apart - it is in a different category, a category that is unambiguously evil and, therefore, in opposition to the will of God. Any and every follower of Christ is commanded, by God, to oppose evil and to support righteousness... where the two are "gray" there is room for debate.

My reply:
Nate, I’m saying our struggle is not against flesh and blood and this is not a one-front war.

I’m not persuaded of the equivalence between Nazi genocide and legal abortion — from where I’m viewing the world, abortion is ambiguously evil — somewhat in spirit of the David Foster Wallace passage Daniel included in his comment above.

I know that’s beyond the pale for you because you are convinced abortion is murder. I know we don’t share the same certainty about what God does in the womb. I see how that leads you to question my faith, my intellectual rigor, or both.

What does not seem to be in dispute between us is that life is endlessly unsafe for the born. Going directly to the extremes, every day there are 27,000 excess deaths (as they say in the morbidity tables) — a number that is less obscene than the 42,000 daily excess deaths when I started paying attention to this in 1983 but still horrific at the granular level of 27,000 families grieving when we had the means to prevent the death of their child, parent, sibling...

That’s nearly 10 million unnecessary deaths a year...down from somewhere north of 15 million 25 years ago...not down nearly enough.

Likewise, the incidence of abortion has been reduced dramatically from its statistical highs and that is good news in a qualified way. I think we would agree that zero abortions would be about right because zero would reflect the shalom of God radiating from our households into the communities where we are committed to serving the common good. Zero would signify that the kingdom of God had broken out among us.

Or would it?

Even if I concede the possibility that Senator McCain has become a true believer in the cause (and I would say the proof of the pudding is in the eating) he remains, as far as I can tell, uncommitted to addressing the conditions in which abortion and much else flourishes.

I’m asking my friends, you among them, to look at a bigger picture of engagement and prevention that does not conflate everything into this [or any] one thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dang! The Bad News on Governor Palin Piles Up

In a kind of conservative is as conservative does moment of truth, my friend Len more or less threw up his hands when he sent the link about Governor Palin billing her children's airfare to the State of Alaska.

Now this from from The Wasilla Project.

Governor Palin was thoroughly vetted as a potential candidate? Honestly? Sorry, Senator McCain, but all this is on you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Love + the Single-Issue Vote

If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another. — 1John 4:20-21 TNIV

I know a man who, when he was 80, had a little sick fun at the expense of the interim pastor at his rural Christian and Missionary Alliance church. Meeting the younger man at the door of the sanctuary, he engaged him in a conversation about what happens to infants who die. The pastor assured him that God in his goodness embraces infants who are gone too soon. “So, then,” said the old fellow, “I guess you’d have to say the abortionists are some of the better evangelists,” and left the young man sputtering.

It’s fair to say that old gentleman was feeling his oats when he ambushed his young preacher that day. It’s also fair to say he was feeling a little fed up with people who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

I have friends who reject most everything John McCain has said and done in this century, but who feel he is nevertheless the only choice for president because his stance on abortion sounds like theirs.

I don’t think it is.

I think, sadly, that Senator McCain and his party today are like the son Jesus talked about who told his father he would go out into the vineyard and work, and then didn’t. And I think in these days Senator Obama and his party are like that man’s brother, who told their father he would not go into the vineyard, but then did go after all.

Consider this fractured (but loving) take on 1 John 4:20-21
If we say we love the unborn yet hate the born, we are liars. For if we do not love a living child, whom we have seen, we cannot love an unborn child, whom we have not seen. And God has given us this command: Those who love the unborn must also love the born.

I don’t trivialize abortion. I feel sick about all that abortion signifies in my culture. But I don’t trust people who claim they love the unborn while showering contempt on the born.

And then there's this from Ecclesiastes:
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man—even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place? — Ecclesiastes 6.3-6 TNIV

In a pinch, I come down on the side of the God of mercy, whom my old mentor, his young preacher and I all agree embraces infants who are gone too soon. To the rest of us:

If you say you love the unborn, fund full health care for the born.

If you say you love the unborn, fund education from early childhood through college or trade school for the born.

If you say you love the unborn, see to it that any parent willing to work full time can earn a living wage.

If you say you love the unborn, make the world a much better place for the born.

If you say you love the unborn, prove it by loving the born.

Monday, October 20, 2008

ACORN | Probably Not What You've Heard...

ACORN may be new to you, likely introduced with derision by the McCain/Palin campaign. I first heard about ACORN in 2006, in the context of seeking living wages for hard-working Americans.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

3.1 Million Americans @ $86 = Vote for Change

Through September, 2008, 3.1 million American donated an average of $86 to the campaign to elect Barack Obama president.

I am one of those donors.

The $150 million given to Obama|Biden in September 2008 included money from more than 600,000 new donors — the biggest increase in new contributors during the campaign.

The greatest number of people backing the Obama|Biden campaign financially are retirees and students — showing once again, perhaps, that my generation continues to be the tiniest bit tone deaf when it comes to things our children and parents hear with greater clarity. I think that sounds like yet another wake up call to reclaim the political and social vision so many of us let slip away in The Big Chill

One way or another, I hope the liars and fear-mongers fail utterly — they know who they are and, two weeks from electing a new Administration and a good chunk of the next Congress, I think we do too.

We have a chance to reboot. Let's do it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Because All Marketers Are Liars, That Doesn’t Mean They Always Lie

“To no one's surprise,” writes Michael Bush for AdAge , “the first topic of discussion at Advertising Week's CNBC CEO Summit was the meltdown of the financial markets last week.”

The panel of advertising agency CEOs, Andrew Robertson (BBDO), Nick Brien (Mediabrands), Sarah Fay (Aegis Media North America) and Irwin Gotlieb (GroupM) covered a lot of ground but never got far from the debris of the investment banks’ collapse the week of 15 September 2008.

BBDO’s Mr. Robertson sees what he believes is a fundamental shift in how consumers process information from marketers and their clients:

We have to stop thinking of media as bridges that we march messages over into people's minds and start thinking about creating experiences that change behavior and providing access to those experiences in the most relevant places...That's a different language and different way of thinking from the way the business was approached even three years ago.

"We used to think about messages that created a case for a particular behavior," Mr. Robertson said.

"It's not about that now. It's about creating experiences that, by participating in them, change consumer behavior. I'm only interested in behavior. Everything else is just a proxy for it. Unless behavior changes, it's all been a waste of time and money. That's an important lens through which to look at everything, because there's a lot of interesting stuff going on, none of which is going to change behavior. And our clients can't make any money unless behavior changes.

No news here beyond declaring the shift practitioners like Seth Godin have trumpeted for years on end. When BBDO gets it, is it real? [read the rest]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bob DeMoss and Mark Whitlock are Crackers (in Jesus' name)

I think Bob DeMoss and Mark Whitlock are the sort of people Mahatma Gandhi was talking about when he said:
When I began as a prayerful student to study Christian literature in South Africa in 1893, I asked myself again and again, 'Is this Christianity?' And I could only say, 'No, no. Certainly this that I see is not Christianity.' And the deepest in me tells me that I was right; for it was unworthy of Jesus and untrue to the Sermon on the Mount. — in C. F. Andrews, Mahatma Gandhi's Ideas: Including Selections from His Writings, (London, The Macmillan Company, 1930) page 95

Mr. DeMoss and Mr. Whitlock are selling Obama Waffles mix this weekend (pictured above in Evan Vucci's AP photo at the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. co-sponsored by American Values and Focus on the Family Action). The two worked together at Focus on the Family back the day.

Mr. Whitlock's blog bio begins:
We live in a parable culture. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "Better songs would they have to sing, for me to believe in their Saviour." Our culture screams, "Tell me a better story and then I’ll believe in Jesus.”

Gentlemen, seriously: Is Obama Waffles the better song you sing to draw people to your Saviour? Or is that a different compartment?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Six Frames | Signal-to-Noise

So maybe we can’t really — it seems impossible that I’m about to write this — maybe we can’t just take everything we read at face value…

I mean, who sends you those crazy internet gossip emails? I’ll tell who thinks of me when they read something no reasonable person would take seriously: It’s Christian friends who forget everything they ever learned and hit send when common sense, had they any left, would tell them to sit on their hands and think for just a second about what they’re doing.

Next thing you know, I’m looking at something I’m supposed to believe even though it was forwarded by five people I don’t know from a hole in the ground (plus Kevin Bacon, whose name I feel sure is buried in at least one of those reply all lists since he is known for being not more than six degrees from every clerk, convict, investment banker and small business owner on the planet).


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

worse than useless data | insidework

Mark Twain gave Benjamin Disraeli credit for the line: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Having posted recently on useless data, my thoughts are drawn to something worse — data that’s misappropriated, or even ginned up to make a point.

A friend asked me to read a draft document that included something he’d heard: “Studies estimate that nearly 90% of teens leave the church after graduating high school.” About the same time, another friend invoked another frequently repeated line: “Over the past few years, various research studies have found more than 75% of Christians leave their faith after high school and more than 60% after college.”


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Executive Experience = Red Herring

George W. Bush had executive experience in a large state. How did that work out for us? If executive experience were the key, he would have faithfully executed the office of President of the United States.

I'm looking (and in Senators Obama and Biden have found) visionary leadership fueled by a clear commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden | ONE

Finishing a remarkable week in India, this post card is a pretty decent sentiment for a people set to rejoin the global work of displacing aggression and greed with shared prosperity and peace...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A World That Stands as One | Barack Obama's speech in Berlin

My friend Scott wondered out loud this morning why Senator Obama did not call it a day and come home after his visit to Israel.

This, I think, is the answer.

"A World That Stands as One"
As Prepared For Delivery
Berlin, Germany
July 24th, 2008
Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

straight from the source | Obama on Iraq

Is half an hour too much to invest in listening to a candidate's position on Iraq?

Don't let anyone tell you what Senator Obama said about Iraq. Listen for yourself.

If you have another two minutes and 13 seconds, check this out

Saturday, July 12, 2008

a good week for Raising Adults

As this week ends, the nice people of Indiana have pushed Raising Adults near the top of Youth Specialties' electronic book list. So...thanks for reading and telling your friends.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if we all grew up and behaved and felt and were treated like adults much sooner than later...

Wouldn't it be something if the term college kids fell out of use because it simply didn't apply...

Wouldn't it be fantastic if the notion of extended adolescence turned out to be a blip on our cultural timeline because families and communities collaborated to prepare people for life after childhood...

I think it would.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Indiana: We Salute You!

Apparently Bill Stanczykiewicz, who directs the Indiana Youth Institute, is hot stuff. His Monday column from Indianapolis is creating a bit of heat here in sleepy Leucadia. Bill was very kind in his assessment of Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids, which is free, and Raising Adults , which is cheap (but never tawdry).

[You may recognize the image above as coming from today's Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune — How you doing, Gary?]

So, thanks Bill!

Meanwhile, I've been quietly helping Mark Matlock develop Real World Parents to launch in 2009.

And did I mention Rich Van Pelt and I are doing a six-hour extravaganza at Youth Specialties' three National Youth Workers Conventions in Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Nashville this fall? Good times, and I'm not kidding.

Back to Indiana, I'm scheduled to present workshops — on crisis intervention and Ten Things We should Never Say to Kids — at the Indiana Youth Institute's 2008 Kids Count in Indiana Conference
 the first week of December.

Also, I had parents when I was younger, so...if that doesn't make me an expert, I don't know what would.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Russert

Mr. Russert was gifted and a gift to us all. I'm awfully glad he was here, if only for a moment...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Garbage In | Garbage Out

First, Governor Huckabee joked to the National Rifle Association that the loud noise that interrupted his speech was Senator Obama scrambling off a chair when someone pointed a gun at him backstage.

Then Governor Huckabee told Tim Russert that was a stupid, off the cuff remark and he was sorry, but we all say stupid things don’t we — remember that stupid thing Ronald Reagan said? — and he guaranteed Mr. Russert it won’t be last stupid thing he says. Oh, well then...

Thus, for Governor Huckabee, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

it could happen to ... anyone

It Could Happen to You
Alexandra Barreto, Rider Strong + Shiloh Strong
Los Angeles, CA

only visiting this planet | the Larry Norman Anthology

I gotta say, when Rolling Stone is right, they're right.

Larry Norman wrote his share of dogs but when he was good, he was very, very good.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mothers Day + 24

My friend Renee — who, God knows, is acquainted with grief on Mothers Day — posted an ancient poem from Hesiod:
Gaia, the beautiful, rose up,
Broad blossomed, she that is the steadfast base
Of all things. And fair Gaia first bore
The starry Heaven, equal to herself,
To cover her on all sides and to be
A home forever for the blessed Gods.

This, Renee accompanied with verse of her own, including the lines:
i’ve always loved pictures of the earth taken from space.
not just the half-slivered ones, but the full globe,
blue and white and luminescent amidst the blackness.

All of which reminded me, a motherless son in these years, of this from the eighth chapter of the letter to the Romans:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Yes. Waiting. Still.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Radiohead | All I Need

All I Need
MTV Exit Foundation, Radiohead
Agency: Colman Rasic Carrasco
Creative: Rebecca Carrasco, Dejan Rasic

Monday, May 05, 2008


Sorry, but I've been reading and listening to Senator Obama starting before he was Senator Obama and I find it amazing that he's being characterized as elitist.

Smart? You bet.

Well-educated? Extremely.

Accomplished? Attentive? Thoughtful? Eloquent? Visionary? Yep; all that.

But elitist? I just can't find it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

net worth

This week, I learned that Jordan, the girl in the Bite Back video went out and secured a $20,000 foundation grant for antimalarial bed nets. Not bad for a 16 year-old. Not bad at all.

In the last couple of months, youth workers and kids have popped for 10,000 nets (Jordan's grant bumps that to 12,000). If you'd like to pitch in — you can buy a net for ten bucks ($10 U.S.); so why not pick up the tab for ten...or a hundred... — drop by

How to Volunteer like a Pro

Here's a happy thing for me!

This is the cover concept for my new book: How to Volunteer like a Pro, due out in December 2008 from Youth Specialties.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

yeh, we could use some adult supervision here

Clearly, Vanity Fair and Annie Liebovitz drank the cool aid.

But where are this child's parents? Failing that, where's her management?

Did they drink it too?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Malaria Bites

Below, you'll find the digital movie I made with Compassion and Youth Specialties (and the talented Brian Boyle) as the year began.

In 1983, when I first engaged the conversation about ending poverty, the working number of deaths due to preventable causes was about 42,000 per day — these are fatalities statisticians lump together as excess deaths, meaning they don't have to happen. Causes of excess deaths include war, water-borne illnesses, preventable and treatable infections — things like that. In 2007, despite all hell breaking loose in a lot of places on planet earth, the number of excess deaths was about 27,000 a day. 27,000 needless deaths every day is stunning and inexcusable. It's also a third fewer than in 1983. As Scott Todd, the very bright man who directs Compassion's Special Operations (including HIV/AIDS and Malaria Interventions) told me: "If we can shrink it from 40,000 to 27,000, there's no reason to believe we can't shrink it from 27,000 to zero."

This video describes in four and a half minutes how malaria deaths — about a million of them a year and way more children than adults — can be stopped cold for less money than the U.S. spends every week in Iraq.

This is as close to a no-brainer as I've ever seen...
Malaria bites. Buy a net. Save a life. Bite Back

Monday, April 21, 2008

there is enough

No one should starve in 2008. Join the One Campaign in calling on President Bush and other leaders of the G8 to take immediate action to intervene in the cascading international food crisis and create permanent solutions to an unspeakable 21st century evil. There's nothing nuanced about this. No one should starve in 2008. Period.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The only thing missing from this New York Times investigation is sex. But money and power seem to have been sufficient to sustain a disinformation campaign against the American people.

Honestly, is this who we are?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

book guy on the radio | Kids Count

Did I mention I was on the Kids Count Radio Show in Indianapolis last month? I was — talking mainly about Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids, which is, for better or worse, free for the downloading. Help yourself and pass along the link.

Funny, people get riled up about the Thing 05 We Should Never Say to Kids: I'm proud of you. Really? Do you think that's an extremely subversive idea about parenting? I wonder if it's (a tiny bit) like the line from from G.K. Chesterton where he said Christianity hasn't been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and left untried...

Anyway, the radio program, while probably not my most lucid half hour ever, nonetheless includes a few nice moments. And, like Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids, it's free.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lincoln + Obama | Two Speeches on Race

Garry Wills by David Levine

Garry Wills wrote an engaging commentary in the May 1, 2008 edition of New York Times Review of Books comparing Abraham Lincoln's pivotal Cooper Union Address in 1860 with Barack Obama's More Perfect Union speech last month in Philadelphia.

I think it's well worth reading and passing along to anyone who's thinking seriously about the the 2008 presidential campaign.

Friday, April 11, 2008

gotta know when to fold 'em

In case you missed (as I did) last month's New York Times homage to Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

death by a thousand cuts

No matter what, this will end as badly as it began. Someone has to put an end to it. And by someone, I mean us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Martin Luther King | April 30, 1967

For the troops to fall into line is a noble thing; for civilians to fall into line is shameful.
— Garrison Keillor, Salon, Theirs Not To Reason Why , April 2, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

yes they/you/i/we can

12 minutes well-spent, if only to ask, "What am I doing that contributes to this kind of hope?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

going straight | the kingdom of God is like...

The kingdom of God is like a person who watched and waited for someone going against the flow...and surrendered to the dance.

RPS | tell it like it is Dr Laura

This morning on Today, I heard Laura Schlesinger say Gov. Eliot Spitzer's sexual infidelity was his effort to fix what was wrong in his marriage. Dr (sic) Laura placed the blame for the whole thing squarely on the shoulder of his wife — apparently for her failure to be his mommy, though I admit I was lost there for a moment.

Come On! why can't Dr Laura call it what it is? She's a doctor, why can't she bring the weight of medical science to bear and describe this tragedy in medical terms? Gov. Spitzer is a victim of the scourge of RPS — restless penis syndrome.*

I first learned about RPS from a medical segment on the NBC News Magazine Saturday Night Live and it really helped me understand the anguish so many of my friends and relatives have endured. It also, just between us, made me take a good look at my own genetic risk for RPS...but that's another story.

What's important to say right now is, this is not a time for recrimination; this a time for healing. Give to the Restless Penis Foundation today. Someone you know suffers from RPS. Come on! Give it up!

Monday, March 10, 2008

After six years of not being able to find his pen (well, except for 150+ signing statements, President Bush last Saturday exercised his prerogative to veto a measure for the...I think, ninth time since the balance of congressional power tipped ever so slightly to the Democratic side of the aisle. This time he vetoed a bill that would have taken torture off the table as a legal option for the Central Intelligence Agency.
(Sec. 327) Prohibits any individual under the custody or control of an IC element, regardless of nationality or physical location, from being subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.

Now, the good citizens of the United States of America have the obligation to exercise our prerogative to direct Congress to override that veto.

Doing so will say to the world that Mr. Bush does not represent our will in directing that torture may be authorized at his will — and will be one step back toward civilization (which he has inadvertently reminded us is not defined by technology, wealth or power but by...wait for it...civility).

You can sign a petition hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at Give 'Em Hell Harry.

Senator Reid noted today:
George Bush has once again compromised the moral leadership of our nation. By vetoing a bill establishing a single, government-wide interrogation standard, the President has substituted his own judgment for that of the vast majority of military and foreign policy experts -- including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq -- who all agree that torture is simply counterproductive.

Ironically, George Bush has warned against ignoring the advice of our commanders in Iraq -- while at the same time ignoring the Army Field Manual's determination that horrific tactics such as water boarding elicit unreliable information, put U.S. troops at risk and undermine our counterinsurgency efforts.

I hope you'll join me in signing the petition directing Congress to override the president's veto. When the followers lead, the leaders will follow. Lead on.

don't interrupt

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

If we can't have Jed Bartlet...

"Americans need real change."

We may not know the final outcome of today's voting until morning, but the results so far make one thing clear.

When the dust settles from today's contests, we will maintain our substantial lead in delegates. And thanks to millions of people standing for change, we will keep adding delegates and capture the Democratic nomination.

We knew from the day we began this journey that the road would be long. And we knew what we were up against.

We knew that the closer we got to the change we seek, the more we'd see of the politics we're trying to end -- the attacks and distortions that try to distract us from the issues that matter to people's lives, the stunts and the tactics that ask us to fear instead of hope.

But this time -- this year -- it will not work. The challenges are too great. The stakes are too high.

Americans need real change.

In the coming weeks, we will begin a great debate about the future of this country with a man who has served it bravely and loves it dearly. And we will offer two very different visions of the America we see in the twenty-first century.

John McCain has already dismissed our call for change as eloquent but empty.

But he should know that it's a call that did not begin with my words. It's the resounding call from every corner of this country, from first-time voters and lifelong cynics, from Democrats and Republicans alike.

And together you and I are going to grow this movement to deliver that change in November.

Thank you,

— from Barack Obama, overnight, March 4, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

sorry but the Europeans have better shopping

You're probably already familiar with the Dutch retailer, Hema. But maybe you haven't seen the clean lines and uncanny product mix on their new website — a clear indication of where things are going and worth browsing for a couple of minutes if you ask me.

Friday, February 29, 2008


“What shall we find the other side of the walls of the world we are abandoning?

“Fear will come upon us – a void, a vast emptiness, freedom – how are we to go forward not knowing where we are going, how face loss, not seeing hope of gain?... If Columbus had reasoned thus he would never have weighed anchor. It was madness to set off upon the ocean, not knowing the route, on the ocean on which no one had sailed, to sail toward a land whose existence was doubtful. By this madness he discovered a new world. Doubtless if the peoples of the world could simply transfer themselves from one furnished mansion to another and better one – it would make it much easier; but unluckily there is no one to get humanity’s new dwelling ready for it. The future is even worse than the ocean – there is nothing there – it will be what men and circumstances make it."

— Alexander Herzen, quoted by Leo Tolstoy in The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life, New York, Cassell Publishing Company, 1894, p 157

Friday, February 22, 2008

props | ten things we should never say to kids

A generous review of Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids from Nicole Avery, The Planning Queen in Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia.

Nicole writes about thoughtful parenting in her Planning with Kids blog (where she uses words like whilst and spells reorganising with an s.

I think the second best thing about Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids is it's free. The best thing about it is what's inside.

You can download Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids at

Friday, February 15, 2008

Senator McCain Said What?

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s statement on Wednesday that he was uncertain whether waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique, was torture drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from Senator John McCain, who said that his failure to call it torture reflected his inexperience.

“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain, who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, said in a telephone interview.

Of presidential candidates like Mr. Giuliani, who say that they are unsure whether waterboarding is torture, Mr. McCain said: “They should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.”
The New York TimesOctober 26, 2007

Oddly, on February 13, 2008, Senator McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding. Senator McCain, you leave me shaking my head. Who are you?