Saturday, December 29, 2012

An American Prayer | On the Third Sunday Following a Killing Spree


III
Almighty and everliving God,
If it be Thy will that we 
ought in all good conscience to change anything
in thought, word, or deed
to prevent the evil or the mad from
misusing these Thy gifts of semi-automatic 
sports rifles bearing
frangible ammunition in
high capacity magazines to
snuff the wick of life from
children and other noncombatants, 
grant us a sign--
clear and convincing--
that we may with one mind and heart agree
to forego a portion of our marginal profits and
endure some diminution at the margins
of our precious personal freedom.

So we do now wait on Thee,
pledging that should some sign issue 
unmistakably from Thy hand,
we will lay this matter to rest
even as we have so recently
laid to rest the bodies of 
those we grieve this day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An American Prayer | On the Second Sunday Following a Killing Spree


II.

Understanding and wise God,
Grant that we may, without 
doing anything different, 
be protected from further 
atrocities of the sort we 
now so earnestly grieve.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

fasten your seatbelt | Bloomberg News projects guns will soon kill more in US than auto accidents

Here's the Bloomberg chart, showing gun deaths (homicide, suicide, accidents) rising as death by automobile declines, the curves projected to cross in 2015.

click to enlarge
According to the report, 2011 saw the smallest number of traffic fatalities since 1949. About 85 Americans are shot dead every day and more than 200 require emergency care for gunshot wounds. Gun owning households declined since 2004 to about one third in 2010.

From the report:
The fall in traffic deaths resulted from safer vehicles, restricted privileges for young drivers and seat-belt and other laws, he said. By contrast, “we’ve made policy decisions that have had the impact of making the widest array of firearms available to the widest array of people under the widest array of conditions.” While fewer households have guns, people who own guns are buying more of them, he [Garen Wintermute at University of California Davis] said.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Aftermath | Five Questions About a Particular Class of Weapon


If I could go back in time to stop a mass killer, would I?

If I could go back and wrench the assault weapon from the grasp of a would-be killer, would I?

If I could go back and stop someone from getting his hands on an assault weapon before he could use it to slaughter children, would I?

If I could go back and prevent the purchase of an assault weapon and high capacity magazines before they were used to murder children, would I?

If, going forward, I believe I can protect the lives of children by enacting sensible controls on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, will I?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and -- sigh -- yes, of course.

You?

An American Prayer | On the First Sunday Following a Killing Spree

I.

Oh holy and
loving God,
please don't
let this have
happened.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the silence of the lambs | what do we tell our children about gun violence in the sanctuary of learning?


It's not supposed to be like this. Just so we're crystal clear about that.

No one is supposed to walk into a grade school and slaughter children. No one has that right.

Someone has to say this clearly and compellingly to the children we are nurturing toward wholeness.

Today, and this weekend, and next week—long before we know why those children and their teaches were stolen from us, if indeed we ever come to know that fully—we will be face to face with kids who, in the teeth of this grotesquely efficient evil, question God and the adults who present themselves as being in charge of the world as it is.

We must tell the children it's not supposed to be like this.

We must tell them the God who spoke through the prophets at many times and in various ways—who in these last days has spoken to us by his Son—this God takes no pleasure in the suffering and death of his creatures.

We must tell them it's not supposed to be like this, and someday it won’t be.

We have to tell them the hope of the gospel includes a new heaven and a new earth where goodness is at home—we haven’t seen it, but in faith we see it coming.

In the meantime, we must tell them, life is grace and horrible things happen; people are capable of breathtaking acts of love and staggering acts of violence and oppression; the sun rises and the rain falls on people who are good and people who are horrid.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Raising Adults + Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids | 99 cent downloads for a limited time | Update

Download Raising Adults
Download Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids






















[Update: Thanks to everyone who downloaded  Raising Adults and Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids at the special price. Both books are available at Amazon.com for just $2.99 (still a bargain I'm told).] 

From now through December 15th you can download Raising Adults or Ten Things We Should Never Say to Kids for just 99 cents. 

The books are on sale at Amazon in the Kindle Bookstore, but you don't have to own a Kindle to enjoy them. They're also readable on iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Android device, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, and through the Kindle Cloud Reader. 

So help yourself — and if I'm right about some things in these books, you'll be helping your kids as well = - ).

If you like this deal, tell your friends. If you don't like it, tell me (right here, or on Twitter @jimhancock).


Friday, November 23, 2012

What's Missing from Black Friday


What's missing from Black Friday shopping — the element that could turn this thing truly epic — is alcohol. Imagine guys walking the lines with trays strapped around their necks shouting, "Get your ice cold beer!" Awesome.


Paint It Black (Friday)

"But there was also something deeply disturbing at the sight of so many Americans waiting this week to get into stores that were already open. Black Friday’s metastasizing control over our popular culture is propelled by a poor economy and reminds us how millions of Americans have seen their incomes stagnate or fall over the past decade. We wouldn’t be so desperate to be first through those doors if stretching every dollar to its furthest possible extent didn’t mean so much, right?"Andrew Leonard

Friday, November 09, 2012

Barack Obama | It's not that you guys remind me of myself, it's that you're so much better than I was...

Inspiring or infuriating? Barack Obama with his predominately young Chicago campaign staff the day after his reelection. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

the poll that matters is in your neighborhood

Not sure where your polling place is located? National Polling Place Locator.

Have a problem at the poll? Report poll place issues at Election Protection or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Monday, November 05, 2012

Too Far to Turn Back Now | The Election of 2012

This time four years ago, Susan and I were in Pennsylvania with her dad and I was thumbing a final post on the 2008 election into my iPhone.
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.
Dale died last spring at age 92. He did not regret his vote for Barack Obama, and neither do I regret mine. 

I admit I didn't anticipate the self-destructive belligerence with which Republicans in the U.S. Congress resisted not just the President's policies but resisted him as a human being. I thought they were better women and men than that; better legislators; better citizens. My mistake. In fairness, not every Republican in the House and Senate misbehaved. But, sadly, most of those who did not won't be back in January, having retired or been turned out by their constituents in contentious primaries this year. 

Still, in the face of a stiff, foul wind, Mr. Obama led us across the threshold of (at least) four extraordinarily important cultural shifts. None of the four is complete; there is work to be done; but that work was begun because we elected Barack Obama president in 2008.

The Affordable Care Act ensures that tens of millions of us can be insured and will remain insurable. For the first time in our history (though certainly not the first time in the world) none of us needs to fear that our families will lose everything because one of us has lost his or her health.

Financial reform via the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act makes it harder for liars and thieves to rip off ordinary citizens and easier for us get justice should we fall prey to those who are crooked and greedy and false. This is to say nothing of keeping our economy on the Great Recession side of what was rapidly devolving into another Great Depression.

 By bringing the Iraq war to a conclusion, by winding down the war in Afghanistan, by the messy work of personal diplomacy and statecraft, and the canny deployment of Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama brought the U.S. back from the brink with our allies, adversaries and enemies. We are safer and better positioned in the world in 2012 than we were in 2008 (without descending farther down the path of torture, even if we haven't yet managed to remove congressional barriers to closing the compound at Guantanamo Bay and pursuing justice under the law, as we always have in our best moments as a nation).

Our national policies have in the last three years took a heartening turn toward human dignity and equal protection under the law via the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell. It's a start. (As a practical matter, the test of equal protection under the law is that by statute, code, regulation and enforcement, every one of us is treated as I want to be treated.)

We have crossed important thresholds in these domains, but we are by no means finished. What's been accomplished is incomplete and imperfect. There is so much to be done.

Meanwhile, the opposition fronted by Governor Romney is determined to push us back across those thresholds and seal the doors if they can.

I say they can't. I'm voting for President Obama in 2012 because he's leading in a direction I want us to go. Because, as he has been saying in the campaign, "We've come too far to turn back now."


Sunday, November 04, 2012

People Who Don't Think the President is a Muslim



From President Obama's remarks at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast:
"We can't leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel -- the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action -- sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance ...

And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren't discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren't taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God's command to 'love thy neighbor as thyself.'"

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lemony Snicket Offers His Endorsement in the U.S. Presidential Race

L. Snicket
At 90 Days, 90 Reasons, Lemony Snicket joins 89 other cultural figures to endorse Barack Obama for a second term as President of the United States. Mr. Snicket, offers Reason 12:

DURING HIS SECOND TERM WE WILL NOT HEAR THE FOLLOWING THINGS FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA—ALTHOUGH WE MAY HAVE HEARD THEM FROM HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS.

1. I don’t know where Osama bin Laden is. I just don’t spend that much time on it, to be honest with you.

2. I’m not concerned about the very poor.

3. I am only going to allow small bills—three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Mitt Romney + Good Faith

Mitt Romney by Gage skidmore
I try to project myself into the minds of presidential candidates; to understand where they're coming from, and why they want to lead us in one direction instead of another.

This is easier in some election cycles than others.

I haven't been able to understand where Governor Romney is coming from and I can't figure out where he wants to lead the United States other than not there (or more recently, there, yes, but with me in charge instead of President Obama). 

Sifting through what I've seen and heard the last two years, I've concluded that, as far as I can tell, Mr. Romney is telling the truth about his faith; about his desire to be a good Mormon with all that entails. 

But Mr. Romney has given me no reason to trust him on jobs and the economy; on foreign policy and the projection of military power; on taxes (his or mine and yours); on health care, on human rights, on transparency, truth-telling and trustworthiness; on saying what he means, or even meaning what he says.

If trusting Mr. Romney to be the best Mormon he can be is the crux of his campaign...that just doesn't do it for me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Elizabeth Warren | The Boston Globe thinks she's good for Massachusetts — (not that anybody asked, but ) I think she's good for America

One of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People
in the World in 2009 and 2010.
I live a long way from Massachusetts, but Senates races have profound national implications. The presence of Elisabeth Warren in the race for the seat now held by Scott Brown strikes me as both remarkable and important. Remarkable because people with her capabilities often find other things to do in their 50s and 60s than protecting the rights of middle class consumers. Important because Elizabeth Warren knows her way around policy in a way that could make her one of the most effective first-term senators ever.

Here's part of what the Boston Globe said, endorsing her candidacy on October 28, 2012:
Yes, her vote would be more reliably in line with Massachusetts’ traditional liberalism. But the real promise in her candidacy lies deeper in her character. She’s a relentless striver whose life story represents the best of American upward mobility. As a young mother, she worked her way through community colleges and state universities to become the nation’s top expert on financial consumer protection. 
And after earning an enviable job at Harvard Law School, she pushed her way into the political arena, wrangling with such renowned inside players as Larry Summers and Tim Geithner to achieve her goal of creating a consumer protection bureau. Her crowning achievement, the bureau guards the interests of average citizens contending with credit-card companies, student-loan holders, auto lenders, credit bureaus, and more. Anyone who’s felt powerless to escape a fee that seems unfairly imposed, or to cover an interest rate they didn’t bargain for, owes Warren a debt of gratitude.
I'm on that list of those who owe Elizabeth Warren a debt of gratitude. There's no question I would vote for her if I lived in Massachusetts. I suspect — and hope — I will one day have the opportunity to vote for her in a national election.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell explains his 2012 endorsement of President Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell explains in detail what's behind his 2012 endorsement of President Obama and why, specifically, he is uncomfortable with Governor Romney (October 25, 2012).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maya Angelou on Voting | Spoiler Alert: She reveals her preference


Maya Angelou received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom in 2011
I am not writing to you as a black voter, or a woman voter, or as a voter who is over 70 years old and six feet tall. I am writing to you as a representative of this great country -- as an American. 
It is your job to vote. It is your responsibility, your right, and your privilege. You may be pretty or plain, heavy or thin, gay or straight, poor or rich.
But remember this: In an election, every voice is equally powerful -- don't underestimate your vote. Voting is the great equalizer.
As a country, we can scarcely perceive the magnitude of our progress.
My grandmother and my uncle experienced circumstances that would break your heart. When they went to vote, they were asked impossible questions like, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" When they couldn't answer, they couldn't vote. 
I once debated with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about whether an African American would ever be elected president. He believed it would happen within the next 40 years at the time -- I believed it would never happen within my lifetime.
I have never been happier to have been proven wrong.
And since President Barack Obama's historic election, we've moved forward in courageous and beautiful ways. More students can afford college, and more families have access to affordable health insurance. Women have greater opportunities to get equal pay for equal work.
Yet as Rev. King wrote, "All progress is precarious."  
So don't sit on the sidelines. Don't hesitate. Don't have any regrets. Vote.
Go, rise up, and let your friends and family in early vote states know where they can vote today. We must make our voices heard:
Your vote is not only important. It's imperative.
— the poet Maya Angelou excerpted from a campaign letter for President Obama

Citizens may vote early in many states (and it's still possible in a few states to register for the 2012 elections). Check GottaVote.com for information on registration, early voting and Election Day voting hours where you live — GottaVote is provided courtesy of the Obama campaign, but don't be afraid — all the information on the Find Your State page is nonpartisan.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

two reasons not to give a crap about the election

On Election Day 2005, I wrote:
A couple of days ago—long past the time anything could be done about today's elections—someone I prize wisecracked in a conversation about state and local politics, "I'm not registered to vote, so I don't give a crap."
Without much thought, but I hope not too ungenerously, I cracked back: "Should that be, 'I don't give a crap, so I'm not registered to vote?'" 
I get it that people don't believe their vote can make a difference in the kind of world (or neighborhood) where children grow up. But I'm still surprised when parents and would-be parents, youth workers and people who care about the young, don't force their way to the front of that line -- just in case it should turn out they're wrong.
I don't think this election is any less consequential than the 2005 state and local elections that sparked that exchange. And for millions of us in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, it's not too late to give a crap, and register, and vote.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Numbers Don't Add Up | The Romney Tax Cut

The arithmetic has been checked and double-checked by the independent Tax Policy Center, and the numbers on the Romney/Ryan tax plan do not, and cannot come anywhere close to what Mr. Romney keeps promising. 

The double-checking even factored in the numbers recommended by the other economists Mr. Romney referred to in the first debate. Even those rosy projects don't get anywhere close — not even remotely close — to the results the Governor promised.

Here's a helpful overview courtesy of the Obama campaign. But you don't have to take their word for it. Read the two reports above to see how failure (including higher deficits and greater debt) is baked into the promise because it's baked into the numbers.

 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Barack Obama's Now-Controversial 2007 Speech | Read It Here


Here, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan, is the text of Barack Obama's now-controversial 2007 speech at Hampton University. Mr. Sullivan posted the speech on June 7, 2007, shortly after it was delivered.

The speech was not particularly controversial at the time. There were reporters, cameras, recordings of the speech. I hear that Tucker Carlson — then employed by MSNBC — mentioned it at the time (though I have not seen/heard what he said). Mr. Sullivan found the speech engaging and important enough to transcribe, comment on, and post — 2007, right? Mr. Obama was not favored to survive the Iowa caucuses, let alone "lead the free world" as they say.

Jeremiah Wright was not yet on anyone's radar outside Chicago, and Andrew Sullivan jumped from Mr. Obama's opening greeting, past all the name checking and other formalities to the beginning of the actual speech. So, if Jeremiah Wright is the whole point for you, save time and move on. If, however, you'd like to read everything else then-candidate Obama said in that speech, read on...
It is an honor to be here at Hampton University. It is a privilege to stand with so many ministers from across this country and we thank God and all His blessings for this wonderful day. 
+++++ 
A few weeks ago, I attended a service at First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the LA Riots. After a jury acquitted 4 police officers of beating Rodney King-a beating that was filmed and flashed around the world- Los Angeles erupted. I remember the sense of despair and powerlessness in watching one of America’s greatest cities engulfed in flames. 
But in the middle of that desperate time, there was a miracle: a baby born with a bullet in its arm. We need to hear about these miracles in these desperate times because they are the blessings that can unite us when some in the world try to drive a wedge between our common humanity and deep, abiding faith. And this story, too, starts with a baby.
We learned about this child from a doctor named Andy Moosa. He was working the afternoon shift on April 30 at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood as the second day of violence was exploding in the streets.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Granny Speaks Up



Granny is too modest. She pays no federal income tax, but even in retirement she pays the state and local taxes we all pay — taxes that fund courts and roads and sanitation and law enforcement and education and fire protection and...

Granny is a participant. She's also one of the 47%. She paid in enough federal payroll taxes to get $840 in Social Security benefits each month. That represents a lot of hours for a lot of years in low-paying jobs. Disrespect Granny and it's hard for the rest of us not to take that personally. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Survey on Teen Pregnancy circa 2012



The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has released a new survey of adult and teen attitudes about sex, abstinence contraception, parental influence, sex education, birth control, and teen pregnancy. 



Key findings include:
  • Teens make clear that parents matter more than many probably think (teens say parents most influence their decisions about sex);
  • there is great agreement among adults about the importance of teaching teens about the value of delaying sex and the importance of using contraception (more than seven in 10 support this approach);

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Not a Minute Too Soon | The Volunteer's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis


We're all back to school now, or will be in about a minute, and it's none too soon to introduce your volunteer team to The Volunteer's Guide 

Back in the day, Rich Van Pelt got the ball rolling with his seminal youth worker training book, Intensive 
Care: Helping Teenagers in Crisis — a few copies of which are available today at Amazon.com at prices ranging from a couple of bucks to a very impressive $588.98 (way to go, Rich!).

In the middle of the last decade, Rich and I threw in together to produce The Youth Worker's Guide to 
Helping Teenagers in Crisis — which covers the same ground as the Youth Worker's Guide through the filter of what a parent needs to know (e.g. a mom doesn't need her own referral list, she needs to know that her friendly youth worker has one and she need to know how to ask for help when she needs it).
Now, we've completed The Volunteer's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis because, much like parents, volunteers need to know how to spot trouble and get help quickly, effectively and with as little drama as possible.
The Volunteer's Guide works with four DVD sessions that blend crisis stories told by real people with short teaching segments by Rich and me (mostly five minutes or less). The other learning ingredients mix personal reflection and recollection with group conversation about the kids and families your team serves, wherever you're located — be that small town, suburb, or urban center.

Session 01: Understanding Crisis     Session 02: Spotting Crisis

Session 03: Responding to Crisis     Session 04: Preventing Crisis

If you lead a team of volunteer youth workers, nobody has to tell you they're often the first to see signs of trouble in adolescents. And nobody has to remind you most of them have no idea what to do about crisis when they see it. The Volunteer's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis is your tool kit to build volunteers who know when what they're seeing is a crisis and know how to get kids the help they need in a timely and compassionate manner.

Faith + the 2012 Presidential Election


Barack Obama + Mitt Romney answer questions about their faith. 

Read the complete Cathedral Age Magazine interviews.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, Meet St. Augustine of Hippo



Following his August 7 victory in the primary for Senate, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin told supporters:
First, I want to give thanks to God our Creator who has blessed this campaign, heard your prayers, and answered them with victory.  Through the months, we have seen frequent instances of His blessing and are reminded that with Him all things are possible!
Questioning the "legitimacy" of many reported rapes in an interview with KTVI in St. Louis on August 19, Congressman Akin said:
...it was his understanding from doctors that it’s rare for someone to become pregnant from rape. He said, “[If it's a legitimate rape,] the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” [Note:The KTVI website report edited out the beginning of Mr. Akin's quote--the "legitimate rape" part] 
Meanwhile, over in science a study published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates in excess 30,000 pregnancies per year resulting from sexual assaults in the U.S.

Somehow, Congressman Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Sigh...

Early in the 5th century, Augustine wrote:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. 
— St. Augustine, the Literal Meaning of Genesis. vol. 1, Ancient Christian Writers, vol. 41. Translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, S.J. New York: Paulist Press, 1982, chapter 19.39
Would that Mr. Akin were a lone weird voice. But he's one in a chorus singing from the same hymnal. It drives me a little crazy that people's opinions about Jesus may be more influenced by folks like Mr. Akin than by the biblical narratives themselves. I hope voters have the collective wisdom to withhold seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate from the likes of Mr. Akin. And I certainly don't want such people in the White House.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

You're fired | Could you be one of a million Americans who lose jobs in 2013 if Romney-Ryan are elected in 2012?


Sources:
1. "Ryan's budget cuts would cost jobs," The Economic Policy Institute Blog, March 21, 2012.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=278656
2. "Five Times Mitt Romney Has Embraced The Ryan Budget," ThinkProgress, August 11, 2012.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=278984
3. "Study: Romney tax plan would result in cuts for rich, higher burden for others," Washington Post, August 1, 2012.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=278241
4. "Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas," Washington Post, June 21, 2012.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=278985
5. "Romney's Tax Plan May Cost U.S. As Many As 800,000 Jobs: Report," Huffington Post, July 17, 2012.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=278610

[h/t to moveon.org]

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Won't you be my neighbor?


An expert on the Bible decided to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”

The expert quoted from the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,'" he said; and then quoting from the 19th chapter of Leviticus he added: "and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“Good answer,” Jesus said.

For some reason, this did not satisfy the Bible expert, and he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

To which Jesus replied: 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Women's Health Care From Now On: August 1st, 2012


Good news: If you're a woman with health insurance, from now on you are covered without copay or cost-sharing for eight additional preventive care services. 
Bad news: Many of the most vulnerable women remain uncovered at this time. 
You-had-to-go-to-school-to-learn-that? insight: The sooner every American can acquire health insurance, the better for all of us.
Here, as described by healthcare.gov, are the eight additional women’s preventive services now covered:
  • Well-woman visits: This would include an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their health care providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their health care providers determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.
  • Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lawn Chair Guy | Five Short Scenes About Me, My Friends + God

Lawn Chair Guy is a collection of short monologues on the challenges and opportunities inherent in communicating honestly and humbly about faith.

The Lawn Chair Guy can, of course be a woman, young, old, and/or more than one person. And he/she/they can sit anywhere, on anything you want. It wouldn’t be called Lawn Chair Guy at all, except that’s how I conceived it when it was first drafted as a scripted film (featuring the talented Brian Boyle) for a conference on...wait for it...the challenges and opportunities inherent in communicating honestly and humbly about faith.

The final scene, The Dog’s Dilemma, was inspired by my old friend Bill Reif and also appears in a book I wrote with the remarkable Brennan Manning, called Posers Fakers and Wannabes. Posers is a remix of Brennan’s book, Abba’s Child.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Ron Howard Remembers Andy Griffith | who do you remember?

Early in the second season of "The Andy Griffith Show," I ventured a suggestion for a line change to make it sound more "like the way a kid would say it." I was just 7 years old. But my idea was accepted and I remember standing frozen, thrilled at what this moment represented to me. Andy asked me, "What you grinnin' at, youngin'?" I said it was the first idea of mine they'd ever said yes to. Without a pause, Andy responded for all to hear: "It was the first idea that was any damn good. Now let's do the scene." -- Ron Howard in the Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2012 
Fifty years ago, Andy Griffith, who died this week at age 86, understood something about children… That children are inclined to play "up" to engage the adults who surround them; that children are shaped by opportunities to contribute meaningfully; that they appreciate people who appreciate them and treat them with respect by talking to them, not at them, and never down to them.

"That inclusiveness," Mr. Howard says, "that allowed a child to truly be a part of something as unique and memorable as "The Andy Griffith Show" is something I will forever be grateful for."

Thursday, July 05, 2012

a little taxing | the fuss about the health care mandate

Michael Tomasky writes:
The instant after the court decision a week ago, you’ll recall, congressional Republicans took the gist of the court’s finding—the mandate stands as a tax, not a penalty—and launched into a campaign calling the ACA the biggest tax hike in all of American or even human history and saying that Obama broke his promise not to tax middle-income Americans. Politifact rated the first claim pants-on-fire false. As a percentage of GDP, in fact, it’s only the 10th largest tax increase in America since 1950. The second claim isn’t exactly an all-out lie like the first one, but it’s a grotesque exaggeration, since this penalty-tax would not be paid by everyone, but only by those who refuse to buy insurance, an explicitly self-selecting maybe 2 percent of all people. — Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, 07.05.12

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The End of Discrimination Against Sick People. Unless...

Labor Secretary Frances Perkins


Jonathan Alter offers an interesting frame for understanding the Supreme Court majority ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Alter concludes with this reminder of what's at stake for America.
Unless Mitt Romney wins, we will have ended discrimination against sick people in our time—an historic achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without an obscure constitutional argument over taxes.
— Jonathan Alter, The 1934 Dinner Party That May Have Helped Save Obamacare, The Daily Beast, July 1, 2012 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Things We Saved | the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act

Here are some things we saved this week when the Supreme Court preserved the Affordable Care Act:
  • Insurance companies can no longer stop paying benefits in the middle of the year — or stop paying altogether because your loved-one or neighbor has reached their insurance cap (I believe this alone is sufficient to put a dent in the number of medical bankruptcies in the US).
  • Insurance companies can no longer simply cancel a policy if your loved-one or neighbor gets sick.
  • Insurance companies must cover the cost of preventive services such as mammograms at no additional charge.
  • Insurance companies must justify rate increases and rebate excessive overhead charges directly to policyholders.
  • Starting immediately, insurance companies may not deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Starting in 2014, insurers may no longer discriminate against adults with pre-existing conditions.
  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies may no longer charge women more than men for coverage (put that feature along with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and you can see the vicious cycle some have attempted to protect at the expense of working families — namely, the right to pay a woman 22% less when she does the same work at the same level of performance as a man, AND the right to charge that woman a premium for health coverage because she is a woman)
  • Starting in 2014, state-based marketplaces will enable us to compare coverage on an apples-to-apples basis when we make our choice of insurers.
  • Health Insurance tax credits for working Americans beginning in 2014.
  • The construction or improvement of hundreds of health centers in underserved communities.
  • Tax credits to help small businesses offer affordable health care plans to employees.
  • Increased penalties for Medicare fraud.
  • Lower costs for older Americans on Medicare.
  • Personal responsibility for seeing that none of us unnecessarily burdens our neighbors and our nation by losing or failing to maintain adequate health coverage.
For more about all this, including straightforward information about health coverage in your state, visit HealthCare.gov.

If you care for such things, Chief Justice Roberts' opinion for the majority turns out to be a really fascinating read. Things start getting really interesting around page 31. Find the Roberts opinion here