Monday, September 30, 2013



Rob Kravitz gave us this, and I liked it:

Grocery checkout
You KNOW you will write a check
Write it now! Don't wait!

Which haiku did you like best?

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Sunday Reflection: The easy acquisition of unknowingness

When I was in my teens, I imagined that as you got older you mastered the world; with each passing year there would parts of the world I understood better.

In fact, the opposite has happened.  As I get older, I continually find more mystery in the world, more that I marvel at but don't fully understand, and don't pretend to.

What does that do for faith?  For me, it fits in with the rest of what I sense about this world.  My central belief is simply that there is a God, and that it isn't me.  Necessarily, the God that is must be so much bigger than me that there will be much, maybe everything, about God that I don't understand.  Unlike some Christians, I don't feel certainty about specific facts; instead, faith turns me in the other direction, one in which I am comfortable in very often saying "I don't know."

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Republicans, champions of the poor?

We tend to think that the Republicans are the party of the wealthy, while Democrats are the champions of the working class.  However, there seems to be a strong inverse correlation when we look at wealthy states v. poor states (based on median income)... rich states went for Obama in 2012, while poor states went to Romney.  What's up with that?

I'm especially surprised by two things.  First, how strong this correlation is-- with only one exception each way, wealthy states went for Obama, and poor states went for Romney.  Second, I was struck by how much difference in income there is between top-earning and low-earning states:

Richest states:

1)  Maryland (median income of $71,122)       Obama
2)  New Jersey ($69,662)                                   Obama
3)  Alaska ($67,712)                                           Romney
4)  Connecticut ($67,276)                                  Obama
5)  Hawaii ($66,259)                                          Obama
6)  Massachusetts ($65,339)                              Obama
7)  New Hampshire ($63,280)                            Obama
8)  Virginia ($61,741)                                         Obama
9)  Minnesota ($58,906)                                      Obama
10) Delaware ($58,418)                                      Obama

Poorest states:

41)  Oklahoma ($44,312)                                   Romney
42)  South Carolina ($43,107)                           Romney
43)  Louisiana ($42,944)                                    Romney
44)  Tennessee ($42,764)                                  Romney
45)  New Mexico ($42,558)                               Obama
46)  Kentucky ($41,724)                                    Romney
47)  Alabama ($41,574)                                     Romney
48)  West Virginia ($40,194)                             Romney
49)  Arkansas ($40,112)                                     Romney
50)  Mississippi ($37,095)                                 Romney

Friday, September 27, 2013


Haiku Friday: Crazymakers!

You know it's true-- there are just some people who drive you crazy.  Maybe it is a type of person, or one specific human, but we all have that challenge now and then.

I remember once reading that the snake's "natural enemy" was the owl.  I turned to someone in the room (it was at a party) and asked her who her natural enemy was.  She answered, with utter confidence, "my mother."  That's a crazymaker!

Here is mine:

The left lane cruiser
Going fifty-three or so....
What are you thinking?

It's really true.  People who use the left lane other than to pass drive me berserk.  I wave at them a lot, and try to talk them into moving over, but they can't hear me.

Now it is your turn!  Who drives you crazy?  Make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and have some fun with it!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Political Mayhem Thursday: Obamacare! The best or worst thing ever!

Here is what the major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act actually do:

1)  It requires all Americans to do one of three things by 2014:  Obtain health care insurance, get an exemption, or pay a fee (which the Supreme Court, well, Chief Justice Roberts, anyways, saw as a tax).

2)  Creates state-specific exchanges where health insurance can be bought from private providers.

3)  Allows young people to stay on their parents' health plans up to age 26.

4)  By 2015, large employers will have to provide health insurance to full-time employees and their families.

5)  Bars insurers from denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.

6)  Expands the Medicaid program for poor people, by providing federal money to state programs.

So... is it a good idea?

If you think it is a bad idea, which of these elements do you oppose?  And what do you think would be a better solution?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Lots to do... but no Skydiving

So, in the next few weeks I get to present the Justice Hunstein lecture in Savannah, give a paper on pilgrimage at William and Mary, and a whole bunch of stuff in Anchorage.

You know what I won't be doing, though?  Skydiving!  I'm leaving that to Randall O'Brien.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Best Ice Cream Flavors, in order of quality

5)  Oreo
4)  Strawberry
3)  Mint Chocolate Chip
2)  Lemon
1)  Chocolate Chip

I think that is pretty much right.

Monday, September 23, 2013


The road back home....

Rebecca K:

Living just two miles
away -- fourteen years now -- still
feels foreign to me.

I am of the Loon
and Lady Slipper --
of lakes and farmland,

Spoonbridge and Cherry,
the moonlit Mississippi,
Lake Superior ...

I’m coming back soon.
I never really let go
of Minnesota.

I really love the phrase "of the loon and the lady slipper..."  

And the story in what Jill Scoggins wrote:

Crystal Beach summers
in the seventies. We sleep
to the Gulf waves' whooooosh.

Sand between my toes,
Buffett singing 'smell those shrimp'
on my car's 8-track.

In the beach house, shrimp
ARE boiling. Tex-Joy Crab Boil
spices fill the air.

I sit at water's
edge, waves washing away the
sand under my chair.

Friends shout, 'Come ride the
beach!' I'm the fifth bikini-
clad girl in the car.

We were young, smart, had
fun in the sun, seeing and
being seen by boys.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Sunday Reflection: Today's Sermon

Here is (most of) the sermon I will give today at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis.

First Covenant Sermon
September 22, 2013
“Advocacy for the Marginalized”

Text:  Luke 6:17-26 

You know, sometimes the Bible is not so reassuring for a fairly affluent, straight white guy from Edina.  This is one of those times. 

Jesus is talking about turning everything, EVERYTHING upside down.  The poor have the Kingdom, while the rich face woe.  The hungry will be filled, while those who are full will be hungry.   Those who are reviled will be blessed, and it’s bad when all speak well of you. 

Just as Jesus said about the temple, in our own lives no stone would remain unturned.

This is dangerous.  And I know the dangerous Jesus.

As was mentioned before, one of my projects has been trying Jesus on a capital charge in a variety of churches and schools in death penalty states.  The point is to put into juxtaposition the political and faith beliefs of Christians who support the death penalty.  My job at the trial is to serve as the prosecutor—I am arguing that Jesus is so dangerous that he must be put to death.

It is a very dark enterprise.  It sets the prosecutor in me against my very faith.  I argue to the jury (the congregation) that Jesus is a threat to four pillars of our society.  He is a threat to our economy, to capitalism, because he tells the rich to become poor.  He undermines our national security, because he teaches that we are not to resist an evildoer.  He threatens our families when he reveals that he will divide mother from daughter, father from son.  Last, he challenges our heritage when he chooses leaders who are illiterate fisherman, people who have no access to the rich traditions of our culture.

It exhausts me to do this.  The worst part is that each bit of it, all that I discuss, judges me.  I am a teacher of the law, affluent, centered on family, and comfortable with my safety.  He challenges every bit of this.

Where does this leave me?  Maybe it means we must impoverish ourselves.  I am not going to do what too many people in pulpits do with that, which is to say that Jesus somehow meant the opposite of what he was saying—“woe to you who are rich” is pretty clear in its meaning.  At the very least, we must ally ourselves with the poor, the hungry, and the reviled.  Their interests must be ours.  Christ commands it.

What does it mean to ally ourselves with the poor, the hungry, the reviled?

1)  Work for social justice

The last time I preached, it was at the Wren Chapel, on the campus of the College of William and Mary.  I was invited to do so by Joanne Braxton, one of the most influential teachers I have had, who is a skilled preacher herself.  She is one of those teachers that mark you for life as one of theirs.

The next day, we sat in her office and she pulled something from her desk and laid it carefully on the table, her fingers resting on top of it like the gem that it was. It was a gift, a paperback edition of Ernest J. Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying."
I waited until I was in a calm, quiet place to read it, surrounded by tall pines. The story is about a man condemned to die, in a time when black Americans saw Joe Louis as the kind of hero we find hard to imagine anymore, a man who carried the dreams of a people on his broad back.
The part of the book that stopped me cold, as Professor Braxton knew it would, was this:
“And my mind went back to that cell uptown, then to another cell, somewhere in Florida. After reading about the execution there, I had dreamed about it over and over and over. As vividly as if I were there, I had seen that cell, heard that boy crying while being dragged to that chair, "Please, Joe Louis, help me. Please help me. Help me." After he had been strapped in the chair, the man who wrote the story could still hear him cry "Mr. Joe Louis help me, Mr. Joe Louis help me!”

It stopped me cold, because I get letters that cry out like that.  I run a clinic that creates clemency petitions for prisoners serving very long terms, desperate men and women.  They pile up on my desk, white rectangular envelopes with neat penciled-in addresses on the front and return addresses in those remote corners where we warehouse men and women: Victorville, California; Florence, Colorado; Alderson, West Virginia; Bastrop, Texas.
Inside each, laid out in painstaking handwriting, is a story. It is always a tragic story. They are from men, and sometimes women, who are in prison for very long terms and have exhausted their appeals. They have no more hope through the courts, so they write to me. They think I will know a way to get them out of prison after 20 or 27 or 35 years for a narcotics case almost no one else remembers. It is emotionally draining to read these stories. Sometimes, I sit and stare at a letter, not wanting to open it and let that tragedy out. Instead, I look at the neat row of stamps, purchased with prison wages of 45 cents an hour.

Perhaps writing to me is as hopeless as crying out to Joe Louis. 

Maybe.  Perhaps.  But I can’t throw the letters away.  I have to try something, so I do.  I try to get the law to change, try to get the President of the United States to take seriously the constitutional duty of showing mercy through the pardon power, try sometimes to work with my students to save just one of them. 

I have to.  They are Jesus, who said when you visit those in prison you visit me.  Their mothers, the ones who often write to me pleadingly, who have tried to win freedom for decades, each one is Mary, Jesus’s mother, dutiful and steadfast.

2)  Create reconciliation

         Our criminal law, particularly in relation to narcotics, is about retribution.  It is about our society’s impulse to hurt those who have done wrong.  It’s that urge that Jesus rails against, that he upsets in the midst of turning everything upside down.  We can’t pretend that we do what we do, imprison millions, because it solves a problem, because by now we know that it hasn’t.  We can’t pretend it deters people, because it hasn’t.  We do it to hurt people, and it does.

Mercy is hard work, and our society too often is built in a way designed to push away grace. 

When I do the trial of Jesus, I get the defendant (Jesus) a public defender.  He is indigent, after all.  The public defender is Jeanne Bishop, who is a real-life public defender in Chicago.  Her story goes deeper than that, though.

In 1991, her family—mother, father, three sisters—gathered at a restaurant in Chicago.  They were celebrating something wonderful:  The youngest sister, Nancy, was pregnant.  She and her husband were ecstatic, as was the rest of the family, as they looked forward to the first member of a new generation. 

After dinner, Nancy and Richard returned home to Winnetka, Illinois, a comfortable suburb.  David Biro, a 16-year-old from the same town, was waiting for them.  He had a gun.  First he shot Richard in the head.  Then, apparently seeing that Nancy was pregnant, he shot her in the belly.  They all died, on the floor of their home.  Nothing was stolen.  Biro killed because he could.

This year, for the first time, Jeanne Bishop did something remarkable.  She decided to go visit David Biro in prison.  She had decided that forgiveness, real Christian forgiveness, required that she have a relationship with him.

That first time, when she went to the prison, she was told to sign in.  One of the items on the sign in sheet was “relationship to the prisoner.”  The choices were “family member,” “friend,” “spiritual advisor,” “legal visit.”

Jeanne called the guard over.  There was no box for what she was, a forgiving, broken person.  Too often, our broader community is that way; there is no space for reconciliation.

We are the ones to change that.

3)  Make ourselves vulnerable

         Finally, to ally ourselves with the poor, with the hungry, and with the reviled, we must make ourselves vulnerable.  That is a part of the deal—it will not be safe and painless.

I told you why Professor Joanne Braxton is remarkable now, with her gift of the perfect book.  I want to talk, as well, about a lesson she taught me in college.

One day in class, one of my fellow students had a headache and was in obvious pain. Prof. Braxton paused and told us about something she had seen in Haiti: The "snatching" of a pain. She explained that the snatcher would cover the forehead of the subject with their hand, rest and feel the warmth of that person, and then make a snatching motion. If done successfully, the subject was free of the headache-- but the snatcher would now have it. It struck me, if nothing else, as a wonderful model of empathy in that it involved not "fixing" someone's pain or erasing it, but literally taking it on, as an act of self-sacrifice. Christ, of course, did this very literally.

Many years later, I found myself with a group of people on the roof deck of a bar near Wrigleyville.  It was very late, and there was a small group of us around a table in the Chicago summer.

We were talking about headaches, and I told the story of what I had heard in Prof. Braxton's class. One woman I did not know, who was about 31 or 32, turned to me and claimed she had a headache and dared me to snatch it. So, I did. I put my hand flat on her forehead for a moment, feeling the warmth of her, resting her hair in my other hand, and then... snatch!  I was faking it, sure, but still, what happened…

It floored me.

I didn't get a headache. Instead, what I got was a deep and profound sadness that was totally alien to me, like a dark cloud that filled me up. It was specific sadness, too-- the regret that I didn't have a child, and might not ever have one. Certainly, this was not my cloud of dread (I was 23 or 24 at the time). It wasn't a guy thing... it was entirely hers. It was with me for weeks; I couldn't shake it.

When we ally with those who hurt, we will hurt.  It is where Christ sends us. 

My dear colleague Susan Stabile leaves for a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain in just a few days.  I will miss her deeply, but a conversation this week let it make sense to me.  She will leave everything behind.  Her family.  Her comforts.  Everything, really, that she cannot carry on her back.  I was thinking about it wrong, though, in wondering what could possibly be worth that sacrifice.  She explained, kindly, that she doesn’t do it despite vulnerability; she does it because of the vulnerability.  Going without is not the sacrifice; it is the blessing. 

She seeks grace and truth by making herself vulnerable.

Grace can come, our unclean spirits cleansed, if we acknowledge in our hearts the essence of humility: that there is a God, and it is not me.  The God that is turns this world upside down.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Preaching tomorrow in Minneapolis!

Tomorrow at 10 AM I will be preaching at First Covenant church in Minneapolis, located at 810 South 7th Street in Minneapolis.  It's casual dress, great music, awkward sermon day, so come on over if you can!


Oh, you Dodgers!

Apparently, the Dodgers won their division this week by beating Arizona (I didn't notice; I lose all interest in baseball once college football starts).  They celebrated by jumping into the pool by the outfield wall.

Apparently, this pool was some kind of religious shrine, because people got all excited about it.  What's up with THAT?

Meanwhile, IPLawGuy apparently thinks the Nationals can still win their division... which of you is messing with him?

Friday, September 20, 2013


Haiku Friday: Home State!

I love Minnesota.  I recently discovered a new set of all-time favorite videos:  The Star-Tribune's Incredibly Mellow Football Analysts.  Bombast is not where it is at here in the North, apparently.

There is a lot more to love, too.  Let's haiku today about your home state-- whatever state you consider that to be.  It might be the one you grew up in, or the one you moved to, or maybe just one that you dream about.

Here is mine:

"Look!" he said, alert.
Fleeting, fast, dark on the snow
Then, gone.  Timber wolf.

Now it is your turn!  Make it 5/7/5 for syllables, and have some fun!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Political Mayhem Thursday: A Government Shutdown?

In a very important development, Speaker of the House John Boehner has changed his position, and now will lead the House Republicans in blocking federal spending after September 30 unless the effects of the Affordable Care Act are either delayed or barred.  

I'm still a little baffled that the Republicans continue, long after the fact, to be obsessed with the Affordable Care Act, but have not coalesced around an alternative.  

This move to shut down the government is bad for the country, and I think it will also prove to be bad politics.  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I heart you, Alaska

Yesterday, I got to spend a whole hour on Steve Heimel's "Talk of Alaska" show on Alaska Public Radio, which broadcasts across our biggest state.  You can hear the podcast here (Click on the tiny gray box right above where it says "Host: ....").

Steve was a great host-- knowledgeable, thoughtful, and welcoming.  Most fascinating, though, might have been some of the callers.  For example, when Steve said, "This call is from Dan in the Aleutian Islands...," I wanted to cut in and  say "WHAT!  You actually live on an Aleutian Island!?!  What is your job?  How does trick-or-treating work there?" 

I resisted the impulse, but it was still pretty remarkable to get calls from a place so fascinating and remote-- one of the 8,000 residents of a 1,200-mile long chain of islands.  It's a remarkable world....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Today, Alaska, Sunday, Minneapolis!

Today I get the chance to appear on Alaska Public Radio at 10 am Anchorage time, on Steve Heimel's "Talk of Alaska" show (details here).  I realize that most of my readership probably doesn't get Alaska Public Radio, but there will be a podcast.  This is a preview, looking forward to three events in Anchorage next month, as I will be doing a public lecture, a social justice workshop, and a sermon.  Woo hoo!

Closer to home, this Sunday I will be giving the sermon at First Covenant Church here in Minneapolis.  The church is located at 810 S. 7th St., right by the Metrodome, and it should be an excellent event, with a great choir.  I was there for the service this past Sunday, and it will be hard to be as inspiring and thought-provoking as Dan Collison (the senior minister) was last week.  I'll give it a shot, though!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Two for one!

How can you not love Texpat's haiku, which somehow mashed up Haiku Friday with Political Mayhem Thursday, even though the subject was "trees?":

Here in Washington, 
best trees are the ones bearing 
the low hanging fruit.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Sunday Reflection: In the rain

Isn't it interesting the way the world repleneshes itself?  There is a lesson there.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Today in the Star Tribune!

So, I have been complaining for a while about what is wrong with our narcotics policy.  Today, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I lay out what should happen instead of our current policy or legalization of hard drugs.  Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Haiku Friday: The Best Tree

You gotta have a favorite tree.  You just gotta.  Maple, oak, elm, The Larch, whatever... and this is the time to savor them.  The fruit trees are giving us fruit, the foliage is about to bust out-- it is a time of the year defined by trees.  So let's haiku about them.

I look down often
Eyes searching for that first one-
Perfect maple leaf.

Now you get to write one!  Make it 5/7/5, syllable-wise, and about a tree or related entity, and the world will be a better place.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Political Mayhem Thursday: How did you remember 9/11?

Yesterday, at noon, I listened to Susan Stabile's short but remarkable reflection here at St. Thomas.  You, too, can hear it via podcast here.

What did you do to remember 9/11?

And, perhaps more importantly, how do the events of that day affect your beliefs and views now?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


College Presidents Falling From The Sky!

Well, it looks like Randall O'Brien (my mentor and collaborator back in his more-sane days) is taking College Presidenting to new levels of interestingness:


A little expert help in figuring out Congress's power to declare war....

If, like me, the Syria conflict has you thinking about the often-confusing relationship between Congress and the President when it comes to declaring war, I have some help for you.  My colleague at St. Thomas, Michael Stokes Paulsen, has written a great piece over at Public Discourse called How to Avoid and Unconstitutional War:  A Beginner's Guide for Presidents and Congresses.

Seriously, even though he is disappointed I voted for Obama, Mike did a remarkable job of clearly establishing the way it should work.  Here is a small taste of it:

The framers of the Constitution did not intend for the president of the United States to have the power to take the nation to war, all on his own. The Constitution’s allocation of war-power authority is, rather, a classic application of the framers’ vision of separation of powers. Congress, not the president, has the power “to declare war,” a term of art the framers used to embrace the decision to initiate a state of war with another nation or force.

Prior to the adoption of the Constitution, the powers of war and peace traditionally were regarded as part of the executive power—in England, the province of the king. The framers of the Constitution deliberately altered this balance by relocating the power to take the nation into a state of war from the executive to the legislature—to Congress. The records of the Constitutional Convention, the discussions in the ratifying conventions, the defense of the proposed Constitution by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in The Federalist essays, and the statements of early presidents and congresses, are almost uniform in recognizing this as a foundational principle.

The framers carefully worded the power. An earlier draft had granted Congress the power to “make” war, but Madison—quickly seconded by others—moved to change the word “make” to “declare.” The Convention’s discussions reveal that this word change was thought to have two important consequences. First, it would leave the executive the power of defensive war—the power, in Madison’s words, to “repel sudden attacks” on the nation or its people. Second, it made clear that Congress would not have the power to conduct war (as the word “make” otherwise might have been taken to imply), the power of war-execution being recognized as “an Executive function” of the president.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Just up on HuffPo....

... a little piece on the letters I get from prison.


My Waco Hero

Well, actually, I have quite a few heroes in Waco-- the place is full of them (especially when Bob and Mary Darden are in town).  I have a new one, though-- Kent McKeever.

If you want to know why, check out a short piece I had in yesterday's Waco Tribune-Herald.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I'm now a member of the Waco Trib's Board of Contributors, a group that includes some of my favorite people.

Baylor, meanwhile, is still in the thrall of another story:  An ongoing battle between the administration of the school and the Baylor Alumni Association.  I am an outsider to the whole thing (I'm not a Baylor alum, and don't live in Waco anymore), but there has been a lot of drama.  The administration came into conflict with the alumni group when I was still there.  The point of contention (at that time, anyways) seemed to be the independent editorial voice of the BAA's magazine, the Baylor Line.  Recently, Baylor cut the BAA out of many events, bulldozed their offices to build a walkway to the new football stadium, and offered a compromise of sorts that was rejected in a vote by the BAA membership last Saturday (the election required 2/3 voter approval, which it did not get).  I suspect that the next part of that saga will involve litigation...

Monday, September 09, 2013


Gifts and loss

I really thought that I was going for more of a "lite" topic last week with "gifts," but as often happens, it went in another (good) direction.  Even Geoffrey and his former Mustang Girl were a little dark!

Check all the entries out here.  There were so many good ones that I can't pick a favorite, but I will say that this one paragraph from Rebecca is incredible for telling a (tragic) story in just a few lines:

Like the Christmas Day
Her brother’s new rifle’s first 
Shot killed their father. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013


Sunday Reflection: Lament for a son

Today I am not even going to try to do better than Neil Alan Willard did over at his own blog, talking about a funeral this week.

Here is how his piece begins:

"Yesterday morning I dropped off my oldest son at kindergarten, walking him to his classroom and entrusting him to the care of his teachers. The same day I spoke at the funeral of a ten ­year­ old boy, the oldest son of someone else who had once done that very same thing as a parent. His family had asked me to do that as a person of faith, even though the service itself was non­religious. What we had in common was an understanding that our children are gifts and that we have to let them go. It’s not fair when that happens through an untimely death.  Some people will say thatI should have talked more about my faith and the God thatI believe entered into the muddy waters of our humanity in Jesus. Others will think the opposite, saying thatI stepped out in faith too far.

If I crossed a sacred boundary, it was because I was invited to do so by parents who not only cared about their first­born child but cared about others who loved him too."

But, really, go over and read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


The Band

One of the things I noticed here in Edina is that the marching band is more fascinating than most.  Because I live within blocks of the football field, I hear them practicing regularly, and sometimes see them perform at a game.

Last year, I was surprised to see the homecoming queen, two members of the court, and a football player (in his football uniform, having played the first half) marching as part of the band.  Then, last night, there was a new twist:  cheerleaders in the band.  

I suppose that some might see this as another sign of teenagers multi-tasking, but I think it is pretty cool, in a Glee kind of way.

Friday, September 06, 2013


Haiku Friday: The Best Gift

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a wonderful gift I was given by one of my mentors.  It has made me realize that the giving of gifts, and receiving them, is such a nuanced and important part of our culture.

Some people are good at giving gifts; others aren't.  Perhaps more intriguing is the was that people are so different in the manner in which they receive gifts.  It is very difficult for some people to do this, I have noticed.

So, how is that for a haiku topic?

You can write about a gift you have given or received, and it can be a physical object or something perhaps more inchoate-- a word of advice or support, or the gift of love.

I will go first:

We were out fishing;
Summer.  I was 17.
He gave me college.

Now it is your turn!  Pretty much stick to the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, as you are able...

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Political Mayhem Thursday: The march to war, or something kinda like it.

Yesterday I spoke for a bit to a (very good) reporter from the AP, who had some questions about the Bradley/Chelsea Manning case-- specifically, Manning's lawyer's petition for a pardon.  The story is interesting, but... how much more is there to say?

On Syria, though, I think it is time for another round of discussion.  President Obama asked Congress to approve an attack on Syria in retaliation for the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons.  It looks like Congress will comply with that request, and the President will initiate some kind of military action.

I have two questions, given the current circumstances:

1)  Was it a good idea to ask Congress to vote on this?   I suspect it was, because it immunizes the President from criticism by those who vote for it (and unity during war is good), and because it at least echoes the Constitutions instructions that Congress play a role before war commences.

2)  Is it a good idea to take military action?  On this, I think it's not, both morally and strategically.  (As some of you know, I am pretty much opposed to war, so this should not be a surprise).

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


'Cause it's true!


And... College Football Begins!

It's on!  College football is my favorite spectator sport, and the season is finally here!  I actually spent a good part of Saturday watching Baylor's 69-3 blowout of Wofford, a school in South Carolina few people in Waco had ever heard of.  Still, thumping a decent FCS (er, I-AA) school was above average for the Big 12, given that defending champion Kansas State lost to North Dakota State, and Iowa State lost to Northern Iowa.  It was almost three losses to the lesser division, but West Virginia pulled out a 24-17 win over William and Mary.

Meanwhile, all my other favorite teams (besides W & M-- Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota) all won, so life is good...

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Recipe Time: Fajitas!

If you need to feed a lot of people, and enjoy the casual nuances of Tex-Mex food, fajitas are a great choice!  Here is my own personal recipe, which I am planning to cook up for everyone at Christmas this year!

Important note:  Neither my dad nor my Aunt Betsy have approved this recipe, or the use of their image to promote said recipe.

Anyways, here is the recipe, which can feed 8-people.  If you like to make your own tortillas, that too can be easy and fun!


  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup electricity
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 7 Medium-sized live squirrels (or 10 small)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium bell pepper (any color), cored and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of lint
  • 8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn or flour)
First, put most of the stuff in a small baking dish and mix it around.  Make sure the squirrels are kept calm and in a secure area.  

Once the marinade is prepared, coat the squirrels thoroughly with the marinade.  Refrigerate the squirrels for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, return to your kitchen.  Listen carefully before opening the refrigerator.  When it is safe, remove the squirrels, salt and pepper to taste, and place them in a warm but not hot pan.  Move occasionally with a 5 1/2 inch wooden spoon until they are brown.  Remove squirrels to a nearby area.

Put the bell pepper and onion in a bowl, and slowly mix in the bourbon, ladenschlager, and vixen spices.  Put in a pan over high heat and cook until the ladenschlager congeals on the surface to a thickness of one-half inch.  Then, pour it off into a five-quart glass bowl.

Now, go to the store and get some guacamole, sour cream, salsa, more bourbon, deodorant, that magazine about celebrities (not the one in French, the other one), some dessert, greeting cards, breakfast cereal (Quisp or Count Chocula), tortillas, AAA batteries, beans, furnace filters, and some antibacterial soap.  

Serve the fajitas in the traditional make-your-own style, setting the tortillas out at one end and the grated cheese at the other.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 02, 2013


Sleepy Walleye!

So... I have to give it up for Sleepy Walleye's haiku about school supplies:

Handy Protractor
Measuring infinity?
It's done by degrees.

Simple, profound, fun... it's what haiku should be!

But, still, I did get a good laugh out of my dad's:

Some pro farmers had
pro tractors but they did not
bring them into school.

Sunday, September 01, 2013


Syria, Honor, and Christ

President Obama is in a very tough position.  He said that if Syria used chemical weapons against rebels, it would cross a "red line" and the United States would take action.

Then, according to the administration, Syria did exactly that.

So, now the President must choose between three options:

1)  He can do nothing.
2)  He can order an all-out attack, as we did in Iraq.
3)  He can take limited measures, such as a cruise missile attack on carefully selected targets.

It now appears that the President will ask Congress to approve the third option.

Is that a principled choice?  And given that the President draws his principles, at least in part, from his Christian faith, is it a choice consistent with that faith?

Let's consider the downsides of each choice, starting with the third.

If he orders a limited-duration cruise missile attack, there are three possible downsides (and limited upside, in terms of achieving military objectives).  First, people on the ground will die, possibly including civilians.  Second, there may be unforeseen consequences, such as conflict with other forces, including those of Russia.  Third, it may in the end lead to an Islamist takeover of the country, which will be hostile to the US.

The second choice of an all-out attack has the risk, of course, of being a financial and strategic sinkhole like the war in Iraq.

Finally, the downside of doing nothing is a loss of pride, and possibly of credibility.

People don't want to hear this, but a loss of pride is rarely the right reason to do something.  As for credibility... well, I suspect that not acting might raise, not lower, our reputation in many parts of the world.

What about faith?  Doesn't it compel the choice to do nothing, if the primary harm is a loss of pride?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?