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What Would People Think?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Some Thoughts This Christmas

O come, Desire of Nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and discord cease,
Fill the whole world with heaven's peace

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!


The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.


Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease


And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will live with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."


And ye, beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
Through painful steps and slow
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing


For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son; that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save it.


The thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices


My soul glorifies the Lord
and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their throne
But he has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
but he has sent the rich away empty.


A baby. A completely helpless and vulnerable baby. A baby sleeping in a donkey's food trough. Hardly an auspicious beginning for the most important human in history/the Almighty Ruler of the Universe. (love the duality!) But then, Jesus made a career (if you can call it that) out of taking our worldly wisdom and turning it on its head:

Love your enemies....

Blessed are the meek....

I have come to preach good news to the poor....

Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for me will save it.....

Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you do for me......

Today, I celebrate the birth of the One who inspired all these songs and words of praise. Who so richly deserves all that praise.

Who inspires me and challenges me to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. Whose example teaches me to love sacrificially....to look beyond my own narrow interests.


Merry Christmas, my dear friends!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blog Contest Is Coming.....At Some Point

Apologies for the long delay in launching the blog humor contest. Been swamped this Christmas season. Haven't had a chance to read any of the nominees which I hadn't read before.

But the contest WILL happen. And when it does, I expect all sorts of voter fraud and intimidation. What, you think my contest isn't good enough for the dirty tactics practiced in real elections?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

James Baker vs. Condi Rice: The Galactic Diplomatic Showdown

From an analysis in the NY Times:

“They start from completely different places,” said Dennis Ross, the Middle East negotiator who worked for Mr. Baker years ago and left the State Department early in the Bush administration. “Baker approaches everything with a negotiator’s mindset. That doesn’t mean every negotiation leads to a deal, but you engage your adversaries and use your leverage to change their behavior. This administration has never had a negotiator’s mind-set. It divides the world into friends and foes, and the foes are incorrigible and not redeemable. There has been more of an instinct toward regime change than to changing regime behavior.”

Which is better? The realist in me - or perhaps the person who's just sick of the suffering Iraq created by the administration's idealistic mindset - dismisses the approach described as the administration approach.

But is there any argument for that approach? One thing that might be said is that simply dealing with and accepting oppressive, terrorist-supporting governments is part of what fuels groups like Al Qaeda in the first place. Of course, so do wars in pursuit of regime change and spreading democracy.

I imagine most of my readers would agree with me and prefer the realist mindset (the Baker mindset). But can any argument be made for the other one?

Update: Forgot to link to the analysis. Here it is. What made it especially interesting to read this is that, for a while, I was glad that Rice HAD a view on diplomacy. As opposed to, say, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who simply wanted to blow 'em all away. It's interesting now to read different views on diplomacy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Death Knell of Brown v. Board of Education

Well, so much for racial integration in our schools.

The weapon wielded to strike its death blow? The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. See 'cuz integration measures to counter the increasing re-segregation of our schools - schools are less integrated now than they were in 1970 - are just as offensive to the Constitution as segregation. At least, that's the argument which is garnering sympathy among 5 members of the Supreme Court.

Let's talk bitter, bitter irony.

Update: A better, similar article on the same topic. I've always liked Linda Greenhouse's explanations.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Craig, Daniel Craig - The Verdict

DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN CASINO ROYALE....of course, everybody (but me) had already seen it.

Okay, I admit it. I'm impressed. My skepticism has proven utterly unfounded. Daniel Craig makes an excellent James Bond. I'm not ready to abandon Pierce Brosnan as my favorite Bond, but during the movie I was like "Pierce who?"

This Bond is the roughest since Sean Connery. Rougher even. No time for wisecracks or double entendres. This Bond is all brutality, recklessness, and increasing vulnerability. And I loved it.

Casino Royale provides an effective back story to explain his character. How else to create the cold-hearted lady-killer (that's only mostly a figure of speech with James Bond) than to have his heart ripped out? Eva Green is excellent as Vesper Lynd. I can see how a rookie Bond would fall in love with her. In fact, it's a lot easier to see how Bond can fall in love with her than with the other love of his life, the short-lived Tracy Di Vicenzo/Tracy Bond of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I never saw what was so different about Tracy as a Bond girl that he would fall in love with her. Vesper is Bond's psychological equal...catching him at a time when he's less seasoned, more vulnerable. She sizes him up as easily as he does her. And her early repulsion toward him doesn't come off as an act...like it does for every other Bond girl. And the betrayal/non-betrayal/death is enough to drive him as a tortured, cold-hearted government agent for decades to come.

The action sequences were just as spectacular (in the sense of "really good" and in the sense of "full of spectacle") as any Bond film. So I wasn't disappointed on that front.

As usual, the "timeline" of Bond is non-existent. Even though he's brand new...the events in his "future" like Dr No somehow take place during the Cold War. He meets Felix Leiter for the "first time" in this....and in Dr. No. Judi Dench's M - the third M - is somehow the M who is present in his first adventure.

I've always loved most of the trappings of Bond - the gadgets, Miss Monnypenny, Q. I thought I couldn't live without them. I didn't miss them. Don't know how I'd feel if they weren't present in later films.

But we'll just have to see, won't we?

Update: Casino Royale is part of a recent wave of films which I've really appreciated: The "take an old movie series and start over." Others in the genre are Batman Begins and Superman Returns (not really an origin story, but an attempt to kick-start the series). Batman Begins was every bit as good as this film. Superman Returns was a failure, but it was better than any of the other godawful Superman films. I hear that more in this genre are coming. I can't wait.