Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is Wright looking for "revenge"?

This Op-Ed was in the NYTimes today.
April 29, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
The Pastor Casts a Shadow

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him.

Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He’s found himself a national platform, and he’s loving it.

It’s a twofer. Feeling dissed by Senator Obama, Mr. Wright gets revenge on his former follower while bathed in a spotlight brighter than any he could ever have imagined. He’s living a narcissist’s dream. At long last, his 15 minutes have arrived.

So there he was lecturing an audience at the National Press Club about everything from the black slave experience to the differences in sentencing for possession of crack and powdered cocaine.

All but swooning over the wonderfulness of himself, the reverend acts like he is the first person to come up with the idea that blacks too often get the short end of the stick in America, that the malignant influences of slavery and the long dark night of racial discrimination are still being felt today, that in many ways this is a profoundly inequitable society.

This is hardly new ground. The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why — if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks — does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.

On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.

What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.

The thing to keep in mind about Rev. Wright is that he is a smart fellow. He’s been a very savvy operator, politically and otherwise, for decades. He has built a thriving, politically connected congregation on the South Side of Chicago that has done some very good work over the years. Powerful people have turned to him for guidance and advice.

So it’s not like he’s na├»ve politically. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Forget the gibberish about responding to attacks on the black church. That is not what the reverend’s appearance before the press club was about. He was responding to what he perceives as an attack on him.

This whole story is about Senator Obama’s run for the White House and absolutely nothing else. Barack Obama went to Rev. Wright’s church as a young man and was blessed with the Christian bona fides that would be absolutely essential for a high-profile political career.

Faster than anyone could have imagined, the young Mr. Obama became Senator Obama and then the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Then came the videotaped sermons and the roof caved in on Rev. Wright’s reputation. Senator Obama had no choice but to distance himself, and he did it as gently as he felt he could.

My guess is that Mr. Wright felt he’d been thrown under a bus by an ungrateful congregant who had benefited mightily from his association with the church and who should have rallied to his former pastor’s defense. What we’re witnessing now is Rev. Wright’s “I’ll show you!” tour.

For Senator Obama, the re-emergence of Rev. Wright has been devastating. The senator has been trying desperately to bolster his standing with skeptical and even hostile white working-class voters. When the story line of the campaign shifts almost entirely to the race-in-your-face antics of someone like Mr. Wright, Mr. Obama’s chances can only suffer.

Beyond that, the apparent helplessness of the Obama campaign in the face of the Wright onslaught contributes to the growing perception of the candidate as weak, as someone who is unwilling or unable to fight aggressively on his own behalf.

Hillary Clinton is taunting Mr. Obama about his unwillingness to participate in another debate. Rev. Wright is roaming the country with the press corps in tow, happily promoting the one issue Mr. Obama had tried to avoid: race.

Mr. Obama seems more and more like someone buffeted by events, rather than in charge of them. Very little has changed in the superdelegate count, but a number of those delegates have expressed concern in private over Mr. Obama’s inability to do better among white working-class voters and Catholics.

Rev. Wright is absolutely the wrong medicine for those concerns.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dog-paddling across the Tiber Pt 1

This is probably a lousy time to start blogging on my journey toward the Catholic church, with a wedding looming on the horizon and all. But, as with many things in my life, I'll do it even though it doesn't make sense. Please forgive me if I disappear around mid-May.

Part of the reason I want to write about it now is to help me think again about the whole process. I admit to some cold-feet, some hesitation. And yet...I can't see myself not taking this step. It is not only the next natural step to take, but it's the one that I want. But this isn't an easy decision. If it was easy, I might actually be more wary of making it, wondering what I was missing in the big picture. At this point in my journey, however, I do see the "warts and all" of the decision, and choose to make it anyway.

I don't have the best memory, so I won't get all the pieces of this puzzle right. I'm sure I'll leave something out (lots of somethings, actually), and get some chronology wring. But I'm sure of the beginning, so I'll simply start there. The whole thing started with homeschooling my children, and my oldest daughter in particular. For her 10th grade year she and I studied Church History using Sonlight's curriculum, and rest, as they say, is not only history, but it is my present and future.

We were pretty dyed in the wool Calvinists at this time, attending a church that practiced the Regulative Principle (anything not explicitly commanded in worship is forbidden). I might add, that the year of study, which included a study of the Westminster Confession, did nothing to shake my daughter's faith or her beliefs. For me it was the beginnings of an earthquake, one slowing forming cracks along fault lines I didn't even know existed in my faith and beliefs.

That year had me reading books on Eastern Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and more. The books, and the questions in the study guide, led to some honest wrestling with beliefs I'd always accepted at face value. What did the early church really look like, where did we get the Bible, and could there be some solid basis for the "different" doctrines of the EO or RC churches? I saw for the first time the sweep of history, the early origins of beliefs and practices I had been taught were late additions of a corrupted church. I was so angry I wrote a long, complaining email to John Holtzman, the author and publisher of Sonlight curriculum. (It says something about the small size of the company that in those days Holtzman freely corresponded with many users.) John and I carried on an intermittent conversation about what was "safe" and proper for good Protestant kids to be reading and learning. (Even with my own hesitations, I never stopped my daughter from reading any of the books or delving into the questions. Like I said, she wasn't struggling with the new information, I was.) One thing I appreciated about the Sonlight curriculum is it never let you get off easy. There were few pat answers on any level, and difficult books and information were never withheld simply because they were difficult. Holtzman stood by his choice of books and questions. We need to believe because we believe, not because we only know one side of the story.

That study of church history sent me scurrying to find reassurance in my Protestant, and particularly reformed, belief system. Over the next few years I read all kinds of books on understanding Catholicism, but only those written by Protestants.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

About those superdelegates

I'm not the most savvy voter in the world, I'll admit, but I don't think I'd ever heard much, if anything, about superdelegates before this winter. I didn't always vote republican, either. In fact, I was a teenage campaigner for McGovern in 1972, even before I could vote. At any rate, I'd never heard enough about superdelegates for them to get much under my attention radar. They are now.

Would someone like to explain the concept to me? Where did it come from, and why does it still exist? It amuses me that many people who would like to get away from the electoral college are members the party that has the superdelegate system. Can anyone spell "ironic"?

Here is a little piece of news from today about superdelegates: the undecided ones, currently numbering approximately 250, don't feel bound by the primary votes, or the number of delegate a candidate already has.

About 250 superdelegates have told the AP they are undecided or uncommitted. About 60 more will be selected at state party conventions and meetings this spring.

AP reporters across the nation contacted the undecideds and asked them how they plan to choose. Of those, 117 agreed to discuss the decision-making process.

_About a third said the most important factor will be the candidate who, they believe, has the best chance of beating Republican John McCain in the general election.

_One in 10 said the biggest factor will be the candidate with the most pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses.

_One in 10 said what matters most is who won their state or congressional district in the primary or caucus.

_The rest cited multiple factors or parochial issues.

And this quote amazes me:

Many of the undecided superdelegates say they don't want to be perceived as elite insiders, cutting backroom deals to select a nominee. But that doesn't mean they're ready to forfeit their status.

"The way the system is set up, the superdelegates are able to weigh in because we are the most experienced people in the party," said Blake Johnson, an undecided superdelegate from Alaska. "We are the ones who have been part of the party the longest and keep it running on a day-to-day basis."

Can anyone spell "clueless"?

I'll make you a little wager. If Clinton gets the nomination based on superdelegate votes, we'll see an outcry to change the system before the next election cycle. If Obama wins the nomination the superdelegate debate probably won't get much attention.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Well, I'm still here...

It seems I can post and everything. The Road Runner account was turned off last Saturday, but Blogger seems to think that's just fine. I have to sign out of my new Blogger account and sign into this one in order to post or respond to comments, but that's okay.

Not that I have much to say these days. Actually, I have a lot to say but I never seem to have the energy to articulate it. Like, I am still wondering about the validity of "super delegates" in the Democratic primary process. What part of "let the people decide" did the Democrats miss? If the super delegates are suppose to vote the "will of the people" why have them? If they are there to make the final decision, why have the primaries?

Not so sure about "winner take all" of the Republican primaries, either.

There are other things on my mind. I'm still getting ready for a May 17th wedding and trying not to stress. I'm concerned about the future financial stability of my daughter and new husband, as well as the future anything for my 19 yr old son. Well, he's got a real nice girlfriend. I'm working towards joining the Catholic church in July. That's a biggie.

It seems like every conversation these days turns to how to live out your faith...really live your faith, as in get your hands dirty, sacrifice your time and energy, and stop thinking just sending a check's gonna do it. I'm still trying to stand unnoticed in a corner so no one picks me for any of those jobs. Sorry God, but I'm feeling paralyzed right now. Even thinking about what and where I could help gives me an anxiety attack. Don't know why. But I'm putting off figuring out until after the wedding.

And there's more. I'm thinking all the time. Worrying more than I should. Having long monologues in my head about this and that, and never having the energy to write them down.

But I'm here. I'm reading other people's blogs. And I'm thinking and wishing something good and relevant and insightful would pop into my head so I'd have something interesting to post. Until then, expect more cat pictures.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A "just in case" solution...

I just started a new blog in case I can't keep posting to this one.

Copy this url:

and keep it until I know for sure this blog is going to stay up. If I disappear, you'll know where to find me!


Blog future unknown....

For the handful of faithful friends who read my blog: I wanted you to know I'm not sure what the future holds for this particular blog. I've changed my email address, and it seems that this blog is inextricably linked to the old address. I can't keep the old address because that, in turn, is inextricably linked to road runner, which we are discontinuing. I've managed to change my email address on my profile, but not the "username" which is the old address. Confused??

What I'm hoping will happen is Blogger won't notice that the old addy isn't functional anymore. I'll have to use it to log in, but other than that all updates and notifications ought to go to my new address. That's the plan, anyway. If that doesn't work, I might just fade gracefully into the sunset.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Our Advanced Drama class made this video...

So Long Self

The Advanced Drama team at our home school tutorial made this music video to Mercy Me's So Long Self. I think they did a good job.