Tuesday, May 31, 2011



I'm a little hooked on baseball again. Back in the day, when the Tigers were still playing at Tiger Stadium, I shared season tickets with some other prosecutors, and loved killing an evening at the games.

Then, for a long time, I fell away from the game. The Tigers moved to Comerica Field, which never seemed right, and then I moved to Waco, 100 miles from the closest mediocre pro team. Baylor games were great, but not the same. I kinda lost track of things.

Then, I got to go to a few Nationals games with IPLawGuy. He loves that team, somewhat inexplicably, since they don't exactly seem to love him back. Still, it is his team, and I got it. It made me want my own team again.

It's starting to happen, too. I've been to a few Twins games already. Man, are they terrible. They find amazing ways to lose. I like them a lot.

Where are you with baseball? Does it have a future?

Monday, May 30, 2011


Spring Wedding

On Saturday of this long weekend, I headed over to Stillwater, a beautiful river town about 45 minutes west of Edina. People had been recommending I go there for months, but I had been busy. There was a great reason to make the trip on this day, though: Two of my favorite Baylor students were getting married to one another (following the lead last year of Jessica and Cody Stafford). This time around, it was Katie Klein and Nick Sarokhanian. Katie lived in Stillwater before leaving for college, so the ceremony came to me from Texas.

It was the perfect time in a river town-- the rains had brought up the water, but not to a flood, and the water rushed by. Two big paddlewheelers sat ready at the shore, and the town was full of people. It rained for a bit (which is good luck, right?) but then the sun came out for the evening and that warm spring light that is only enhanced by the wet ground. Peter Pope (pictured here) and Will King thought I had left, but I had only stepped out for a moment, to see that light.

It wasn't so long ago that I was at Nick's graduation, so I was at the second great ceremony for him in a year. I loved every bit of it-- and there was a lot to remember. They seem to have recruited every young child in the surrounding counties and put them in the wedding, whole waves of them coming down the aisle, staring, talking, smiling boldly, waving the hems of white dresses, and wandering every which way. It was perfect. When it was time for the vows, I couldn't help thinking "courtroom voice!", but I needn't have worried-- they were bold, too.

There is a blessing in that spring light, in rain and rivers and children and boldness; I always love the chance to gather it all in with those I am proud of.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Sunday Reflection: What God Can Do

Neil Alan Willard has often written about Minnehaha Creek, which runs through Edina like a piece of string dropped by a child, winding back and forth in gentle curves. Walking to get coffee, I often stop on a wooden bridge and take a picture. Earlier, I chronicled autumn into winter. Below I start on March 18 and run through yesterday, in the same place. There are a million miracles there.
[click on any of the pictures to enlarge it]

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Got it Made!

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Maureen and Tom Berg's new musical, "Got it Made," at the Pillsbury Theater here in Minneapolis. I had my eyes opened to a few things...

First, it was one of those times where I am literally shocked at the talent of a friend. I don't know much about musicals, but I know that this one was good, and so well written. I loved the language of it, and the songs, and the characters were memorable. Maureen put a lot of effort into this show, but effort means little without talent.

Second, I'm still getting used to the higher expectations for everything here. High school band concerts are phenomenal, and even the smallest theater production (which this was not) is bursting with talent. I was so impressed with the actors in Got It Made-- it made me want to see a lot more theater around here.

Finally, last night was a spring night in the city. People in Minneapolis rush outside when it is nice, and this was one of those nights. Restaurants were full, pushing out onto the sidewalks, and there was a near-summer mood to everything. Life is good.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Haiku Friday: What are you planting?

This week, let's write about planting. It can be your own garden, or a windowbox, or your parents or the road crew. Whatever.

Here is mine:

Found in my garden:
Bright yellow bursts of color;
Prob'ly should pull them.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday: Cutting Budgets

I think the topic of government budget cutting at both the state and federal level is extremely important right now. Not just the question of whether to cut budgets (we have to, I think), but what should be cut.

This Thursday, I want to challenge my readers to make significant cuts to the federal budget. I've done this before, but want to try a diffeent tack this time. I don't have the technology to create a complex exercise (the NY Times has a good one here, so we are going to work with rough numbers.

Currently, the federal budget breaks down about like this:

20% things we can't do anything about, like debt service.
20% social security
20% defense
20% medicare, medicaid, and SCHIP
20% other discretionary spending (courts, agriculture, education, etc.).

Let's consider the federal budget to consist of 100 dollars, with 20 dollars apportioned to each of these five sectors.

Your job is to cut out ten dollars total. For example, you could take it all from discretionary spending, but that would slice out a full one half of the government programs we are most familiar with. The same goes for the military-- if you yank ten dollars, half the budget is gone, and hundreds of thousands of people may be out of work.

So, what do you do? I will go first.

I would take 5 dollars from defense (a full quarter of their budget!).
I would take 2 dollars from social security and discretionary spending, and one dollar from the medical programs.

Try it-- and remember that this is just a 10% budget cut.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Erick Sandlin Update!

A few people have inquired about the guy pictured with me here (I used the photo just last week).

Though there may seem to be a family resemblence, that guy is actually my former student Erick Sandlin. Erick was a great student at Baylor, and now is a fine lawyer at Bracewell Guiliani in Houston.

Intriguingly, he is also a pretty good artist. You can see some of his work here.

It has occurred to me that I have quite a few artists popping in on this blog (including my own dad). What if we had a Razor Art Show? We could feature a different artist every day for a week or so (or one a week over several weeks), then have a group show on the blog at the end.

Good idea? Who is in?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


America's Worst Welcome Center

I received many surprising responses to yesterday's post, but mostly people were intrigued by America's Worst Welcome Center, which is located along I-35 at Exit 4 in Iowa, just north of Davis City. There are large, official looking signs marking this as an "Official Iowa Welcome Center!" but it just doesn't seem... right.

The first bad sign is that it does not enjoy its own exit/entrance off the interstate, like you find in other states. Oh, no. At Exit 4, you travel west for a spell until you find the "welcome center" wedged in by a gigantic Kum & Go gas station/burger joint. As soon as you pull in, you sense something different about this place-- the parking lot is a dark, rutted dirt lot with cars parked haphazardly every which which way, as if the rapture had actually occurred.

Inside, things are even worse. The space is dominated by a big gift shop which exclusively sells hokey Chinese-made "country" themed junk which appears to have been rejected by the Cracker Barrel restaurants. Because this is Iowa, much of it runs with the themes of pigs and corn, which doesn't make it any better.

This is the kind of store where you would only buy something if you had (1) been invited to Becky Thatcher's birthday party; (2) didn't like her very much; and (3) through some disturbance in the space/time continuum could not leave the interstate to find her a "present."

In the winter, the entire thing is constructed to resemble a portal to the ice planet of Hoth, with wind racing through with mind-numbing harshness as the Country Hell Muffin dolls lie about naked atop a mass of torn ginham. Crying children (and often, adults) line up by the dozens to use the single inadequate and often broken restroom, huddled together against the biting wind. Sometimes, one of the little ones will collapse right there in line, and the others immediately begin eyeing the poor child's meager possessions, or even evaluate the lad's potential as food, before crawling over the stiffening body as the line inches along towards the single overflowing toilet.

In the back, almost hidden from view, is the "welcome center" itself. I was looking for a map, so I sought it out. A few shelves hold thin pamphlets with titles like "Survive Hamilton County," and "Finding the Right Fundamentalist Church in Iowa." The maps themselves were carefully guarded by a sullen elderly man with a thin beard and a humorless expression.

"Can I have a map?" I asked.

"Sign in here," he said, pointing to the type of log one fills out when visiting a medium-security prison. He watched me intently. "Print carefully. Is that MI or MN?"

"MN," I told him, warily.

"What are you driving?" he asked, in a tone that revealed his sole purpose to be directing unwary travelers into the clutches of his inbred Iowa kin who then would torture and eat their prey in the depths of their white and featureless house set amid a sea of corn.

I grabbed the map and ran for it. A guy in a Miata can't take a lot of chances.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Four scenes from 1100 miles in May

I have been away from Minnesota for a week. I flew down to Texas and returned on a memorable trip which included three days of raging fever, St. Augustine, the Charcoal Oven's divine onion rings, two wonderfully likable television stars, my favorite trip to the grocery store in Waco ever, the strength and joy of an elderly Miata, sitting in the presence of grace, and Iowa's worst "Welcome Center." There is too much to describe in one post, but I will strive for a brief description of four moments.

Scene One: Waco

There are colors I don't know the name of, but I know those colors. There are emotions, too, that I love or detest; but they don't fall neatly into the strictures of our discourse.

After communion, I sit in an unfamiliar church. The people there, nearly all of them, do not know me. It is still Easter, though... and perhaps that is the name for this emotion, Easter, one of joy and calm and certainty. I did not see that coming, but it is like seeing a new color in an old palette.

Scene Two: Norman

Moving north from Waco, I gave a presentation at the 6th Annual Conference of Catholic Legal Scholars, which this year focused on the work of St. Augustine. My own panel was wonderful, featuring my friend/hero Susan Stabile and Meghan Ryan of SMU. Though my sharp-eyed colleague Lisa Schiltz kindly left this out of her description of the panel discussion, I did take the opportunity to answer a question by taking Prof. Stabile on cross-examination... and it was excellent.

Scene Three: Oklahoma City

The offices of the church were remarkable, and so were the works of the place-- a prison ministry, a health clinic, a shocking array of spiritual opportunities, and the governor, DA, Mayor, and hundreds of lawyers as members. The Minister walked me over to the sanctuary, built to hold the 6,000 people who attend services there every Sunday. It was an overwhelming, outlandish, wonderful space.

"This is where we would do it," he said.

I met his eyes, crossed my arms and smiled. "Perfect."

Scene Four: Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

There is a white stone courthouse, fourteen decades old, at the end of the brick street. A man in a red ball cap, jeans, and boots walks down the sidewalk, lean and shirtless. He passes the newspaper, the municipal building, the newpaper office, the paint store, the western wear store, the lawyer's office, and strides to the Coke machine by the filling station. He buys a Coke, pops it, drinks deeply, and looks back down that dusty street: bricks and sun and trucks and justice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Sunday Reflection: Episcopal Pros and Cons

As some of you may have noticed, I have been trending Episcopal lately. Here are some of the pros and cons I have observed about that denomination:


1) Meaningful and often beautiful liturgy

2) Good preaching (when people like Neil Alan Willard or Jeff Fisher are around)

3) Gospel-centered

4) Abiding sense of social justice

5) Craig Anderson and Tom Brooke

6) Just goofy enough that I might fit in

7) Connected to deep intellectual traditions


1) Creeds!

2) Seem to almost exclusively support wealthy prep schools which primarily educate wealthy kids, when there are lots of poor kids who can't get a decent education.

3) Still not sure why they need six reference materials at hand for a single service

4) I'm never sure what to call the Big Guy: Priest? Rector? Dude?

Please add your own here... help me out, people!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


One week ago... a visual tour of UST graduation

One week ago, we had the best commencement at St. Thomas-- emotional, meaningful, and short. Here are a few visuals--

Some of the faculty onstage:

Dean Tom Mengler addressing the crowd in Orchestra Hall:

With Nick Borger, who now enters the Ed Cloutman hall of fame:

With Sean Cahill, the student speaker and Guardian Angel wanna-be:

With Ryan Else, who is getting married today!:

Friday, May 20, 2011


Haiku Friday: Memorials

In the picture, I am at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial with Bud Welch. He is pointing to the chair which bears the name of his daughter, Julie.

Julie was a translator at the social security office who would have lived but for the fact that she was called to front of the office to help a man, there with his pastor, who did not speak English. She walked to the front, greeted them, and then was killed in an instant.

The memorial in Oklahoma City is powerful and fitting. There is a field full of empty chairs, larger ones for adults, smaller ones for children. Some memorials fit, like this one... and some do not. To me, there are few things sadder than going to a funeral where the eulogy is given by a minister who did not know the person very well, if at all.

Let's haiku about memorials, of any kind-- a funeral, a grave, or a monument like this one.

Here is mine:

Lines of empty chairs
Unevenly spaced, but
The little ones, so sad.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday-- You make the law!

Today, please suggest a law you would like to enact, if you could do so on your own without all the rigamarole depicted in this video.

For example, you can ban left-lane cruisers, or make double-dipping of snack crackers a felony. Your choice, your opportunity, you moment to BE the legislature!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Words to my hometown, body to OK

Check it out! I wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday's Detroit News on juvenile life without parole. You can see it here. Michigan has one of the harshest systems in the US, as described in the article.

I wonder what the response will be from my collabo- nemesis Jeanne Bishop, who co-founded the largest national group opposed to my position?

Meanwhile, I am at the University of Oklahoma to speak tomorrow at a conference of Catholic legal scholars....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


A good take, and another one.

I've got a great job. I get to teach, which I love, and put ideas up for public debate, which I find meaningful, humbling, and sometimes thrilling.

One thing that comes with that is that I am putting my ideas up for anyone to discuss-- Perez Hilton, other law professors, Kriss the Sexy Athiest, whoever. That's good-- the part I find thrilling is when my ideas reach those who probably don't agree with me, because that is who I need to talk to. The internet, of course, has ushered in an age where if you have a provocative idea, it can bounce around the world like a pinball.

For example here is a little sample of the public discussion of my ideas over the past few days, both of which I welcome-- one positive, and one largely negative:

Baptists Today

Scumbag Style

Monday, May 16, 2011


I'm sorry, but your propoganda doesn't seem to be working properly...

Is it just me, or does North Korea have the worst propoganda of all time? Consider the following official video... and be sure to look for all of the following:

-- an almost complete lack of traffic
-- a glimpse of Communist Mouse
-- babies compliantly being laid in a row
-- the promise of stoop labor
-- goose-stepping girls with guns
-- an old lady making paste on the floor

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Sunday Reflection: Degas and God

I sometimes use the painting above when I teach. I love the Degas pictures it, and it reminds me of the humility I see in the best Christian lawyers (and, frankly, the best non-Christian lawyers, too, just as often).

The woman is pleased with the hat she is getting... she is going to go to a party or show, and people will compliment her on the great hat, and she will smile and say "Thank you!" Yet, she did not make the hat. She didn't even pick it out. The person who did is in the painting, in the upper left, but her face has no details; what good she does, she does in the shadows as the client is the focus. That shadowed figure... that is the lawyer at her best. When we do our best work, often no one knows it but ourselves, and others get the acclaim.

That humility, to me, has come to encompass the need to not feel that I control everything. There was a time when I tried to change things through force of will, but now I accept a more humble role where God is allowed in. For example, I worked for months to put together the trial of Christ at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond. I thought that I would create something deep and meaningful, but what really happened was that I connected that church with Jeanne Bishop, who became a beloved and transformative force in that congregation. I did something well, though not the way that I thought, and that is all to the good.

When we control everything, plan every word, where could God possibly enter in? The confidence of that milliner, of the good lawyer, of the great preacher, is sometimes in those gaps, in trusting uncontrolled space which, perhaps, is already full beyond our wildest dreams. Vocation, love, faith... there is a way in which at their best they are all a trust fall: waiting that split second, falling, hoping for those arms to catch us, our heart to leap, and the world to change.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Graduation and a Man on a Bike

About six blocks away from here (two blocks up a hill, then through the park, over Minnehaha Creek, and up a few more) is the Edina Theater, an old movie palace that now shows art-house films, four at a time, quite successfully.

Last night I went up there to see "Bill Cunningham's New York," which is a documentary about the 81-year-old fashion photographer for the New York Times. It is a great film, detailing Cunningham's life and remarkable eye. He lives a spartan life, goes to church every week, and rides around the city on his bike to create remarkable photo montages of what people at parties and on the street are wearing.

Like all good movies, it was as much about a place as anything else. It was a part of New York I connect with, that I understand. When I am here, I am a teacher; when I am in DC, I am a lawyer; but when I am in New York I am a writer who sees the world through different, gentler eyes.

My first students here graduate today. In a few hours, I will shake their hands, hug them, put the hood over their shoulders, take pictures. I will love every minute of it, then fly off to Texas thinking about them. As much as anyone, these are the people who have shown me the best of Minnesota.

What I hope for them is that they someday have a day like Bill Cunningham's, where they love their work, where money becomes irrelevant, and when things go well they laugh unashamedly at the bare, true fact that beauty is all around us.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Haiku Friday: Congratulations!

I love Spring.

For one thing, it is a time of graduations, one of the rare opportunities to celebrate those we love. Better than a funeral (for the person being celebrated, at least), different than a wedding, it is fit to this season of growth and renewal.

Tomorrow is our graduation here at St. Thomas, and I have been given the honor (by my new students here), of being the "hooder"-- the person who puts the hood on each graduate. For one thing, I will get to wear this again at a time of such joy. Better, though, is the chance to meet the parents and families of these amazing people I have gotten to know over the past year. I love that part.

So, today, let's haiku about celebration. It can be graduation, current or remembered, or some other accomplishment among those around you. Make the first line 5-7 syllables, the second line 6-8, and the third line 5-7.

Here is mine. It is kind of about what I saw in my yard this week, and kind of not:

I didn't plant these tulips,
I just got to watch them spring forth.
Now I meet the gardeners.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Blogger malfunction!

Sadly, something went really wrong with Blogger (the Google network which hosts this blog). I was unable to enter anything for the past day or so, and for some reason it erased Political Mayhem Thursday. We'll see if they fix it...


Political Mayhem Thursday: Race in the Current Age

We Americans have trouble talking about race. We are scared of being called racist, or of saying the wrong thing. I notice this not only in class, but also in the larger society and even in my own work.

For example, for the HuffPo narcotics piece, I now realize that I did not discuss race, even though much of the realities of law enforcement relating to narcotics is rooted in race, especially for narcotics like crack (where black people most often sell it on the street while white people make the money at higher levels). It would have been fair to put the following sentence into that article:

Our history has been that we would rather take the freedom of black people than the money of white people.

But, I didn't. Should I have?

Is America really post-racial? Have we conquered this long-standing problem of discrimination and hatred, or it it just undiscussed?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The Best Music Video in the History of the World

It has everything! Cross-cultural confusion! Sounds like "tik-tik-tik-tik!" Guns! Communist Mouse!

I can't embed it... but you can find it here.


News from all over.

The Huffington Post piece yesterday about narcotics policy has bounced around the internet quite a bit, and several media sources (large and small) have re-posted it. Here is a sampling:

Wall Street Journal

Dallas Morning News

Friends of Justice

AOL News

Bowie County Phalanx


This one really needs a little Isabelle Bres...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


New at the Huffington Post!

Please check it out here-- Narcotics: Attack Capital, Not People.

Also, if you can, add a comment or tweet it or something(I'm still not sure what that is)... I'd like to get a broader discussion going on this.


And now, a word from the French and Journalist Isabelle Bres

Check out these three very short videos, with an eye towards answering these important questions in the comments section:

1) What is up with journalist Isabelle Bres? Is it just me, or is she becoming increasingly unraveled and ravished as these interviews proceed, with a goofy happiness emerging by the third video? Why? Is cattle journalism really that sensual in France? Do things like this happen to American journalists like those who read the Razor?

2) In the second interview, what the heck is that thing Veronique Laby is wearing?

3) In the third video, does it appear that French cows are fed massive amounts of powder cocaine? How might this affect French culture and the arts?

Maintenant, en deshabille...

Monday, May 09, 2011


Minnesota Monday: Rustica

One thing I love about Minneapolis is the incredible food standards people have here-- you almost have to try to find a bad meal. The grocery stores are great, too, and I love having several to choose from.

Beyond that, there are a number of specialty stores within biking range that I dearly love. I have written about Clancy's Butcher Shop previously, and yesterday I tried another local superstar-- the Rustica Bakery. It was recommended by Razorite Marta, who had read about it via this article in Bon Appetite, listing it as one of the top ten bakeries in the nation.

It's within a few storefronts of two other gems-- Burger Jones and Punch, which is a traditional Neopolitan pizza place. You can just stand nearby and smell it all for free, and that's a deal in itself.

Inside, it smells like baking bread, which always puts me in a swoon. They have six or seven different types of loaves at any given time, and they all looked great (except the kind with olives in it-- why? why?).

I tried the levain, and.... well, I don't live in Waco no more. Though Waco could use a great bakery...

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Sunday Reflection: The cry of a child

Last night, there were mothers across the United States anxiously watching over their children: Making macaroni and cheese, creating last-minute prom solutions, taking temperatures. There is worry and concern with all this. My own dear mother is in Provence, half a world away, but I don't doubt there is still worry in her thoughts, concern for what I might be messing up today.

But... there is still that baby within each of those children, that pure innocent creation of God.

There is this moment, with a newborn baby, where that child is nothing but potential and love. You mothers remember that moment-- holding that tiny thing, the fingers like peanuts, the whole of that loved being lying on your right arm, tiny feet at your hand and the downy head at your elbow. You looked in that baby's eyes, and there was love, just pure love, nothing else, no worries, no danger, just that wreath of love.

It is always there. It is there now, that feeling, perhaps buried or mixed with a tidal pool of hurt and challenges, but it is there. You see it in mothers, if you are in criminal law, the mothers of defendants, and it is one of the most overwhelming things if you bother to actually see it-- that the purity of that moment is still there.

If you are a mother, think of that moment, and see it in your child. For the rest of us, consider the moments that the pure love of a mother became clear for a moment, the beauty of that, and rest well in the knowledge that God acts through people, those people who bring forth the light and the hope for the world.

Friday, May 06, 2011


The Weirdo World of Disney

I know there are a lot of people who will be taking their kids to some kind of Disney Resort this summer, and I hope that you will first consider the very strange nest of relationships you will be introducing your children to. Below is a summary.

Mickey: Mickey is a mouse, albeit one who can drive a car, speaks standard English, and owns several businesses. He wears shorts, suspenders, but no shirt.

Minnie: Her full name is "Minerva," which is creepy enough. She is a mouse in some kind of mating relationship with Mickey, but that relationship with Mickey is fairly undefined-- she alternates between being a "girlfriend" and a "wife." She at times also goes shirtless.

Goofy: Goofy is a dog who is Mickey's best friend. This is unusual in itself-- a mouse should not have a carnivore for his best friend.

Pluto: Here is the heart of the weirdness-- Mickey not only has a dog for a best friend, but also has a PET dog, Pluto. Why doesn't Pluto run away, or eat his cruel owner? [Note: I have some personal issues with Pluto, as I have previously disclosed]

Chip and Dale: Chipmunks. I'm not sure how they fit in, but they should be eaten by Goofy.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel is a large Mermaid, with the nickname "The Little Mermaid." She ran the puppy mill where Pluto came from.

Princess: The Disney Princess is the daughter of the Burger King and the Dairy Queen. She is Minnie Mouse's best friend.

The rest of those guys, I don't understand at all. Feel free to fill in the gaps.


Haiku Friday: Mother's Day

Sunday is Mother's Day. I really need not look any further than that for today's topic.

You can haiku about your own Mom (a favorite moment, maybe), or someone who acted like a Mom to you, or even the experience of being a Mom.

Here is mine:

It was one A.M.
I found her downstairs, reading
Shakespeare's Henry V.

Now it is your turn. Don't worry too much about syllable counts, just make it three short lines (unless your Mom is a stickler...)

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday-- The Libya Raid

Lost in the news about the killing of Osama bin Laden is the troubling report that a US missile strike hit one of Quadaffi's homes in Tripoli, and killed several family members, including children. Quadaffi was not hurt in the attack.

Was this morally defensible?
If so, was the killing of bin Laden morally defensible?

If so, under what theory?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Traffic of American cultures...

I've had the opportunity to be stuck in traffic jams in many American cities, and am often struck by the way that each city has its own archetypal traffic jam. Here are just a few of my favorites-- feel free to add your own observations.


I have long been baffled by the way traffic works in Chicago. Here is the routine: The entire freeway is at a dead halt, just stopped. There is no obvious reason-- a closed lane, and accident, or bad weather. Then, suddenly, the traffic starts to go, and suddenly you are whipping along at 60... for two miles, at which point the whole thing inexplicably ends and you sit again for a while.


Detroit, unlike Chicago, offers up a reason for traffic jams, and it is almost always the same kind of awful, terrible reason-- a horrifying accident. A truck completely overturned with its load of ball bearings all over the road? Seen it. A car perched precariously upside-down halfway off an overpass with a pair of legs sticking out a window? Seen it. Three cars on fire in the middle of the freeway with people running around? Seen it.


The Los Angeles traffic jam usually has the same cause: congestion. Unlike the midwestern jams described above, they just move very slowly, creeping along...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Minnesota Tuesday

You know how sometimes I give you the option to click on a photo and enlarge it? Well, no option today-- I insist that you click on that photo and enlarge it! Take a look at that... the Spring-swollen Minnehaha Creek, the green of the grass, the trees about to explode with life and flowers and leaves.

That's two blocks from my house. I walk through that every time I walk into town to the grocery store, or the wine bar, or a restaurant or the bakery. It is different every time, too, a revelation.

On Sunday, I went by that place, gratefully, to go up to St. Stephens, to attend church and then to speak with Susan Stabile about creeds. It was better than last time-- I learned more, we challenged each other more, there were brilliant questions-- and I left elated. At one point we were racing along, trading ideas and challenges, and people looked like they were watching overtime in a great game... and that is as good as it gets.

I noted that the Apostles Creed does not contain the word "love" once; Susan volleyed that certainly it describes the love of God for man by sended his son to live amongst us; I countered that this ignores the other axis of love Jesus directs us to, towards one another; and then Neil Alan Willard jumped in to point out that the surrounding liturgy does just that. That was just a few minutes of the conversation. (there is a great description of part of this on Susan's blog).

Life is good. The buds are out. Life springs forth. God does provide.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Osama bin Laden dead

As those of you who read newspapers, watch television, hear radio, or receive telegraphic messages know by now, Osama bin Laden was killed yesterday in a raid by US forces in Pakistan.

The press about this event was fairly hysterical. One reporter called it one of the "great events in world history," which surely was over the top. The most alarming gaffe: Geraldo Rivera announcing that Obama was dead. Some also found it intriguing that the news pre-empted Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" show.

It is unknown who else was killed in the raid, or much about the operation at all. His accomplices were many and varied (see photo).

Still... what does it mean? What was your gut reaction when you heard the news?

Sunday, May 01, 2011


I felled in love with this movie. It had many crashes.

Today Now! Interviews The 5-Year-Old Screenwriter Of "Fast Five"


Sunday Reflection: Reflection and discourse

Today over at St. Stephens at 10 am, I'll be talking about creeds with Susan Stabile as part of Neil Alan Willard's Rector's Smackdown series. I've been describing it at times as a debate, but that's not very accurate.

The truth is that I am not vigorously defending a position I hold dear. I do have a problem with the Nicene and Apostle's creeds, and don't usually say them, for reasons I have previously discussed, but when so many I love and respect disagree with me, I am obliged to listen.

I'm learning, and specifically I am learning through this continuing discussion with Susan, Neil, and others in my life from Texas to DC. I'm also learning something about how I learn.

Sometimes I like to pretend that I discern things through quiet contemplation, but that isn't very true. When I am alone in the quiet, I tend to create bold new things in my mind, or think about lunch. I don't do much discerning in those quiet alone times.

Rather, I work things through in conversation with others. That's one reason I treasure the people in my life who are willing to have those discussions.

Oddly, too, I'm realizing that I not only work out these issues through discussion, but often I do it in public, with people watching. At our trial of Christ, I found myself convinced by some of the things my opposing counsel said. When I talk with Susan tomorrow, I know that at least some of what she says will become a part of my own thoughts. Going back, I know that much of my spiritual development came while teaching a class with Randall O'Brien and Hulitt Gloer, trading off riffs like some kind of theological rap group.

It is humbling to realize this-- I need others to become whole.

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