Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
According to the American Research Group, Inc., we will be spending half what we spent last year on Christmas. The amount we're willing to spend on the magic of the season this year is $431. In 2007, the number was $859.
My friend Frank works for a high end clothing chain here in Austin. He told me yesterday that Christmas sales in his store are down 70% from last year. As much as I hate to see a friend's personal economy in peril...I have to say I'm happy to know we're thinking about what we're doing with our credit cards and our savings accounts.
Because twice as much money spent does not really say "I Love You" twice as much. Does it?
In fact, what we're involved in at Christmastime is apparently something right out of Grimm (as in the fairy tale). Some smart university researchers have followed a handful of Christmas shoppers around for 7 years. What they discovered is a pattern of motivation that reads a bit like Jack and the Beanstalk...small dreamer (us) with magic seeds (our Christmas lists) pulls off a giant (retail world) tricking feat of daring (shopping) to bring home prizes of great value (the gifts under the tree).
Unless, of course, a villain prevails...which typically (according to research, not me) is a husband or father or death of a loved one.
Or the collapse of a greedy economy?
Stop right here for a moment, my friends, and ponder this: How are you really feeling about the condition of your Christmas economy this year? Hero or villain?
I say it's a good year to spend less, sit more, and enjoy the view from the bottom of the beanstalk.
And we all lived happily ever after...
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I attended my first SBOE meeting recently, mainly to speak against the creationists' attempts to corrupt our science curriculum. As a bonus, I got to hear the board vote to take the steps necessary to treat athletics hours like academic hours so they can count for up to four of the state's required graduation credits. I must admit it is a creative end-around on the Legislature, which has tried valiantly to raise the bar in Texas education. The inmates have taken control of the asylum. David Chapman mailto:email@example.comWell, guess what happens when you put your email address in the paper? People write to you. I got one good letter and a smattering of fruitcakes...enjoy. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: John King [firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 8:38 AM To: email@example.com Subject: Letter to editor A noted astronomer, Fred Hoyle, remarked: "Would you not say to yourself, 'Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be miniscule?' Of course you would." In a similar vein, Albert Einstein wrote: "Something deeply hidden had to be behind things." You want to forbid a teacher from repeating such statements in a public-school classroom. Which is to say, you're not defending science but rather advocating censorship. Cordially, John King From: David Chapman [firstname.lastname@example.org] To: 'John King' Cc: 'David Chapman' Subject: RE: Letter to editor John, Thank you for your thoughtful response. As a huge fan of Einstein (a large photo of him is the only decoration in my office) I find it fitting that you cite his philosophy. And as a Christian I agree that the most basic identity of our God is "Creator". The record is very clear that the path of Einstein's scientific work was directed, or some would say misdirected, by his theology. Specifically, he refused to pursue Quantum Physics in the later years of his life because he considered the apparent randomness at the base of Quantum Physics incompatible with the character of God. Isn't it interesting that it was Einstein's inability to accept the possibility of God being larger than was circumscribed by his own perception of God that, in the end, blocked Einstein from making any significant contributions to science in the last 30 or 40 years of his life? That is going the long way to say that I do hold that for better or worse every human endeavor is underpinned by some sort of philosophy, point of view, assumption, belief...and biased by the limitations of our ability to perceive or even to imagine. I have no problem with that concept being taught in literature, philosophy or even religion classes…and have no problem with exposing students to the diverse range of beliefs people have held over the span of human history and across the world’s cultures. However those beliefs are not science and are no substitute for science or the scientific method. There is nothing in the first draft of the Science TEKS revision that suggests science is any substitute for religion or philosophy. However it is highly inappropriate to corrupt our science education by attempting to substitute religion for science or to suggest that the two are alternative, equivalent competitors to the same objective. When I was in 9th grade Biology class a fellow student asked our teacher about Creationism. She suggested that we imagine a chocolate cake sitting on her desk and her husband standing at the front of the room with her. She suggested if we asked how the cake came to be there he would say "My wife, who I love very much, made it." On the other hand she would describe an elaborate process involving a list of ingredients and her oven...but went on to point out that both of them would be 100% correct despite having given radically different answers...because he addressed Who made the cake and his love for her while she described How she made it. There is nothing in the first draft of the Science TEKS that would prevent any Texas science educator from making a similar response to Texas students. There is no censorship involved. In fact it is imperative that Texas students learn the difference between what is and what is not science and scientific method. Our science educators are responsible for teaching our students about How...and more importantly, about how we discover How. Our literature, philosophy and religion teachers address our search for knowing Who. Our churches, for the most part, are communities who profess to know Who. I want to keep it that way. Thanks again for your thoughtful response. It was worlds different from the rest that came in. (see below) - DC --------------------------------------------------------------- From: ron goodwine [email@example.com] Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 7:55 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: letter to the editor Well, it appears that you have intimate knowledge of the other inmates. Did you help in the take-over, or were you just blindly and mindlessly led by the other inmates? Best guess from here is that your favorite drink is obama kool-aid. Because of email-borne viruses, I never open email from unknown sources. Or from idiots, so don't try. RG ----------------------------------------------------------------- From: horn fans [email@example.com] Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 7:58 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Statesman letter This is your lucky day. Each week The Stateman gives an award for Drivel of the Week. Congratulations. First place goes to you. Gotta be proud to be a published celebrity. Going to frame it? Show it to others in the welfare lines? Your libbocrap buddies are going to be soooo proud of you. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: email@example.com Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 7:51 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: statesman "The inmates have taken control of the asylum". Well, maybe, but one thing is for sure. The Statesman will still publish letters from lunatics. Gotta be thankful for that, Davieboy. And don't bother to reply. Wouldn't open/read anything you send email@example.com --------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
That's the front page...with 30 column inches of sports disaster spreading above and below the fold. It seems, my world-minded friends, the University of Texas football team was edged out of the Big 12 Championship game, to be played next weekend, by a computer calculation that gave the University of Oklahoma a .013 point edge over the beloved Longhorns.
In fairness, I do live in Austin where people bleed burnt orange and teach their babies to "get your horns up" before teaching them to walk or talk. So, the news is big here...and bad. Consequently, it sprawls across my daily like an earthquake, a plane crash, or a declaration of war (watch your backs, BCS officials).
What luxury to think on these things before all else...
Before the latest from Mumbai. Before news of 32 killed yesterday in Iraq. Before word of today's military and financial rampage in Zimbabwe. Before the worst flood in Venice in 20 years or the worst economic downturn in 30 years or even the news that those antioxidants we've all been consuming won't actually keep us from aging.
How lucky we are to be able to turn our full, front page attention to disappointments over the end of a football season.
I do not begrudge anyone a day or two of football angst. I ask only that we stay in balance with issues that need our intelligent attention. We cannot "be the change" unless we know the news. I worry about being lulled into a kind of drowziness that could allow us to believe we are untouched by anything more disruptive than who will play in the Big 12 Championship game. When we fall into that dream, we become the self-centered Americans the world has come to expect to show up on the Big Stage of global awareness.
Stay on top of the world. Oh, our humanity - depends on it.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'm cooking today. Who isn't? Those of us fortunate enough to have an abundance of resources, food, shelter, and family are busy making our lives crazy trying to out-do our sisters, mothers-in-law, aunts, and grandmothers with our culinary bravery. Forty-eight hours from now, the cycle of the season says there will be jeers and curses over the lingering leftovers and the extra tight jeans. But, today it's fun in the kitchen, all of us still able to imagine the magazine cover holiday gathering with oooohs and aaaaahs and mmmms over plates full of what I call "comfort gourmet."
The term seems to cover a menu that includes green bean casserole and pumpkin creme brulee, doesn't it?
I'm working on the feast components today with a new knife. At this point, I'm really delighted to still have all ten fingers...although I do have a couple of big bandages already, and there is still much to chop, slice, and dice. Every knife in my drawer is too dull to cut cold butter, so I opted for a couple of relatively inexpensive, but sharp, knives available at an upscale kitchen supply store that also sells the pumpkin butter that I must have every year (or the holiday will be ruined). I picked up the knives when I went for the pumpkin butter - knowing full well that I'd probably lose a finger. Oh, the sacrifices we make for the cause...(so far, only a little blood has been given up, but watch closely for typing errors after the holiday weekend to determine the result of my reckless finger roulette).
This new knife thing has made me think a bit about our ruts and what happens when we venture into those moments that require a little closer attention to things that have been routine. What happens when we stretch just a bit to incorporate a new person, place, thing, or idea into our otherwise rote daily experience? When we've been cutting with dull knives for years, a sharp one thrown into the drawer poses a bit of a threat. I'm here to confirm that for you.
As we sit on the brink of a season that is ripe with tradition and expectation, and the stress caused by tradition and expectation, I'm wondering what might sharpen the holiday for me and my family. It seems every idea for something new comes with a bit of fear and trembling over the wave of uncertainty that could result from tangling with tradition. Will there be slicing pain and blood over suggestions to spend less money, eat less food, sit more attentively, breathe more deeply? What if we say no to shopping altogether this Christmas? What if we conserve trees and electricity and energy by resisting the urge to deck our halls with the usual Norman Rockwell grandeur? What if we really sit with the story of Jesus for a while and ask ourselves, each day, "How is my life like his?" Or like Mohammad's? Or Buddha's? Or Krishna's? Or even that guy's downtown who's been getting up at 4 AM every morning for 15 years to make soup for the homeless (in my town, this is Frank Deutsch)?
Ouch. The cut is a little too close to the bone. We love our ruts. There is comfort in using the same knife to slice the carrots, or buy the gifts or dress up the house...we can do it without even paying attention...no worries.
It's more fun with a new knife though. I promise. You'll like the new result.
So, spend a day or two thinking about your dull holiday ruts. Sharpen the focus, if nothing else.
May I suggest - for starters - that Christmas does not come from a store? Try that sentence around the turkey leftovers. Let me know what develops.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
And if you're wondering, as I was, what kind of human crush that might be...here's what 1-million people (unofficial count for the 2004 March for Women's Lives) on the Mall looks like:
So, just multiply that by four.
In case you've never been to DC...let me orient you to the National Mall. It stretches, basically, from the Lincoln Memorial on the West to the steps of the Capitol on the East. The stretch, as I mentioned, is almost 2-miles and covers 146 acres. (the east/west green strip on the map below)
Still...perhaps, like me, you are strong of spirit and believe just catching the vibe of the day might outweigh the distractions of cold weather, human stew, and street sleeping. If you've worked on the story that history like this comes around only once in a lifetime and watching it on the flat screen in the living room just won't do it justice...I share one last image. This is the one that changed my mind.
Here's what your view of the day is likely to be - only you should fill in the blank space with 4-million heads.Who wants to meet at my house?
Monday, November 17, 2008
- The market must hold.
- Pray that the credit gates will open up.
- Intercede for fiscal policy changes
- Pray the media will become a source of hope.
- Repent for the Baby boomer generation
- Intercede for new wineskin strategies.
- Pray for business people to be able to implement what they have planned for in the transfer of wealth.
- Ask God to help you be at the right place at the right time to reap what God has stored up for you.
- Pray for wisdom and a strategic path.
- Intercede that great wealth will be released during these times for the "corporate Joseph" shift.
- Adults making $2,138 a year are part of the wealthiest half of the world (top 50%).
- Adults making $61,000 a year are in the top 10% of the world's richest.
- Adults making $510,000 a year are in the dreamy top 1% of the world's wealthiest.
- The richest 2% of the world's adults own more than half of all global wealth.
- People in the top 10% are 400 times richer than people in the bottom 50%.
- People in the top 1% are almost 2,000 times richer than people in the bottom 50%.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Some friendship, I'd say. Explain the truth of that presidential humanitarianism to the Iraqi men, women, and children who have lost at least 90,000 friends and family members to violence brought to their land by a U.S. sponsored war. In October 2008 alone...533 civilians (33 children) were killed in war related incidents. 26 of those civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers. And we are told the violence is winding down.
So, there it is. I have hated George Bush for making Americans out to be oil-hungry beasts who will say anything and stop at nothing to get what we want. I promise to do my best to get over it. In 74 days.
In the meantime, please forgive my long sighs of relief. We have, this week, shown the world our compassionate side. We have just elected a man who never supported our illegal and immoral war...a man who promises to pull U.S. boys and girls out of that mess within 16 months.
I am weary of election talk, to be sure. It is time to imagine a peaceful future and the role we each have to play in making it so. Surely there is abundant energy for that.
A smile and a toast to Peace on Earth.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The peace mama, the (likeness of the) PRESIDENT ELECT, and the peace papa in Clovis on election night!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Doesn't that first sign of blue west of the big red block anchored by Texas look cool?
Turns out, the way the declaration calculation is done for these things...the early voting results from Curry county (Clovis) was the indicator election mathematicians were watching. When they saw 35% for Obama in those early results (2004 support for Kerry in the county was 24%), they knew Senator McCain could not win the state. Who knew?
Since I feel I personally talked to 35% of the registered voters in Curry County, New Mexico in four days...I'm taking some credit for the win here.
It was an amazing group to share this night with: The perfect mix of age and race and economic standing and education. Because none of that mattered at all. We were, so simply and so beautifully as we sat knee to knee in front of the 25-inch TV screen, the united people of America.
I will never forget this night.
I'll bet you won't either. Peace, my friends.
Monday, November 3, 2008
May the losers not be sore...and the winners not be obnoxious. May we be one nation, indivisible. With liberty, justice, the right to have an unusual name, a diverse opinion, and a privately chosen faith...for all. Sleep if you can. Vote if you haven't. Peace.
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- HO! HO! HOld On A Minute!
- The Cutting Edge
- On Birthdays and Bombs...
- 'Tis the Season....?
- In the Beginning
- Standing Up for Science
- Inauguration Dreams
- GO Tell It On The Mountain
- What Would Hillary Do?
- Now Is The Time...
- Thinking About War...
- The Children Will Lead - Illustrated
- A Child Shall Lead
- He Looks Taller on TV
- We Came, We Saw...
- Warning To People Naming Babies