Nightline

“Every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us.”

– John Mc Cain

This story pisses me off. I don’t usually watch Nightline because I don’t care for Ted Koppel (and I don’t really like TV) but I will definitiely try to tune it in tonight.

Commitzvah

Smartmarriages alerted me to an emerging trend in marriage – straight couples are increasingly opting for the “domestic partner” arrangements that were set up by some states as a marriage substitute for gay couples. The name for these “marraige-lite” ceremonies that are emerging is “commitzvah.” Cute.

As a futurist for family issues, I’m interested because this confirms a longstanding trend toward a solid decline in commitment among couples and represents an emerging trend of growing demand on state and local governments for legally recognized options for lesser domestic commitments.

This also hits my radar as another bad omen for children in general, as studies show that on average childrens’ welfare suffers as their parents’ level of commitment to each other declines. I said on average – I’m sure your/your best friends’/your parents’/your cousin’s divorce/cohabitation/domestic arrangement has had no ill effect on your kids/their kids/you/his kids. But if you’re tracking trends, you’re tracking the aggragate – and for the aggregate demographic of children, this is a bad thing.

The price of not thinking

I’m not usually one for web multi-media, but this Poverty Tour presentation by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is compelling. Regardless of your politics, it is informative to put yourself and your lifestyle in perspective. To think about all of the purchasing decisions you don’t have to agonize over, all the thinking you don’t have to do because of the resources you have available to you.

under the radar

The world is talking about oil, but under the radar the issue of water privitization is becoming more urgent.

This Sojourners story is an early indicator of what will be happening to the poor of the world, safely out of the eye of our TV screens, over the next decade. Water rights bought out from under poor landowners with the price of the water sold back to them at “market rates” they cannot afford. Families flooded out of their homes without compensation by dams built by the water privateers.

I had a friend who worked as a futurist for Enron back in the heady 1990 pre-scandal days. She eventually quit because they wouldn’t listen to her – her horizon was too far sighted for them. But, she told me, Enron was far-sighted enough to see an opportunity to exploit the flaws in California’s electricity deregulation. And they also were far-sighted enough to see the looming opportunity in private water and to start buying water rights like they were going out of style. Just an illustration of the caliber of the water multinational we’ll be dealing with in the future. Who’s to say that Bechtel and Suez are any more ethical than Enron?

Prayers for Olivia

We got some bad news today. Olivia has been diagnosed with a mild case of Cerebral Palsy – a birth defect which is relatively common in low birth weight preemies like her. She will require therapy three times a week, but early intervention can yield great benefits for her later in life. Thank God they found it early, but she needs your prayers. Poor kid’s getting a rough start in life.

The bigger consequence of this diagnosis is that it may cost her her future home. Right now a nice African-American couple is in the process of adopting her. They will have a very hard decision once they find out the diagnosis. They have private insurance and don’t have a lot of money (he’s a pastor, she stays home) and their insurance almost certainly will disallow Olivia’s CP as a pre-existing condition. And Olivia is a private adoption, so there is little if any aid from the state available. Four couples have turned her down so far. So they need prayers for strength and wisdom in their discernment. I hope they don’t become the fifth to turn away.

And then Heidi and I need your prayers. We have already expressed to Olivia’s social worker that we will offer to adopt her if this couple doesn’t work out. This diagnosis is a blow to our hopes for Olivia, but not to our resolve that there will not be a sixth couple that says no to her.

Gentle Response

The mind desires this,
And grieves for that.
It embraces one thing,
And spurns another.

Now it feels anger,
Now happiness.

In this way you are bound.

But when the mind desires nothing
And grieves for nothing.
When it is without joy or anger
And, grasping nothing,
Turns nothing away…

Then you are free.

-Ashtavakra Gita 8:12

This bit of found poetry gifted to my email inbox reminds me of one of the most useful ideas I got from the conference I attended this last Saturday – that simplicity is the best Christian response to the injustices of the world. Most of us cannot save the world or correct even one systemic injustice, but we can gradually, selectively, and gently opt-out of the World defined by the endorphin rush of desires.

That’s what I am meditating on today. That and “getting stuff done,” that is.

The Wild Ride

We just returned from the wedding of that fresh-faced young couple we were Married Sponsors for this last winter. They make a very handsome bride and groom and it was a very nice affair. Open Bar. Dancing. Catholics know how to throw a wedding, I’ll say.

And so it begins, Jessica and David. Keep your hands and feet in the car at all times. Hold on to your valuables. Don’t attempt to exit until the ride comes to a complete stop.

And always the soft idiot softly Me.

I was sent this brilliant W.H. Auden poem about Law

‘Law Like Love’

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day.

Law is the wisdom of the old,
The impotent grandfathers feebly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

Law, says the priest with a priestly look,
Expounding to an unpriestly people,
Law is the words in my priestly book,
Law is my pulpit and my steeple.

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I’ve told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.

Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good morning and Good night.

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,

No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyway:
Like love I say.

Like love we don’t know where or why,
Like love we can’t compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.

– W. H. Auden

Almost as a rebuttal, I was reminded of this Wendel Berry poem:

The Law That Marries All Things

1.
The cloud is free only
to go with the wind.

The rain is free
only in falling.

The water is free only
in its gathering together,

in its downward courses,
in its rising into the air.

2.
In law is rest
if you love the law,
if you enter, singing, into it
as water in its descent.

3.
Or song is truest law,
and you must enter singing;
it has no other entrance.

It is the great chorus
of parts. The only outlawry
is in division.

4.
Whatever is singing
is found, awaiting the return
of whatever is lost.

5.
Meet us in the air
over the water,
sing the swallows.

Meet me, meet me,
the redbird sings,
here here here here.

~ Wendell Berry ~

Is Law a repressive regime? A standard up against which we do not measure? A collective illusion?
Or is true Law simply a state of natural being in which we are both free and bound?

They say that rules are made to be broken. I figure that only rules that are made can be broken. Rules that simply are can neither be followed or broken.

Now that’s clear as mud, right? “And always the soft idiot softly Me.” I love that line….

Must be time to start the weekend.

Little Muscle

It’s just a little muscle, but it must be damn important. I don’t even know its name, but it connects the upper center of my back to a spot just below my right shoulder blade. And it hurts. I woke up yesterday morning and I felt it for the first time, this little muscle that apparently has a role in almost every motion in my upper body.

Things I cannot do without feeling shooting pains from this little muscle:

Turn my head
Lean forward
Extend my right arm
Reach for my mouse
Breathe deeply
Get up
Sit down
Pick anything up
Think

About the only things I can do without causing this little muscle to hurt is typing and drooling. So that’s what I plan to do today.

I now have a greater respect for my little muscle, being so unnoticed but apparently so instrumental for so long. If only I were so humble and important.

I am patiently waiting for my non-toothache to return. I promise not to take it for granted this time. Pinky swear.