Monthly Archives: September 2012

Today’s Featured Guests to Our Office

A ministerial couple came to the office this morning to meet with the bishop, and they brought their two dogs–beautiful and  Shetland sheepdogs. I offered to take them for a walk while they met with the bishop, and they gladly handed me the leash.

What fun! They were supremely well-behaved. And I never had to use the blue poop bag.

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Musings from Wednesday Night of the DNC

Okay, here are some miscellaneous thoughts from Wednesday night of the DNC convention. I was at a Tin Caps baseball playoff game (our local Fort Wayne minor league team), and we didn’t get home until near the end of Elizabeth Warren’s speech. So I missed most of the night, and the rest of my life will be diminished and incomplete because of it. Yet, I will plunge ahead with some musings, knowing that the masses are hungry for ever more political fluff. So hereby be ye edified.

(For the sarcasm challenged: most everything that follows is written with my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek. Don’t, as some folks tend to do, take me for a Democrat apologist.)

Bill Clinton, clearly, is a rock star. Clinton made the case for Obama and his record far better than Obama has ever done (while cleverly, in pure Clinton style, further polishing his own legacy). I’m not agreeing with everything he said, by any means. He threw around all kinds of data. I figure half is verifiable, a quarter is fuzzy, and a quarter is just wrong or misleading (call it Ryanesque). But he’s a masterful speaker, with no comparison in the Republican party (who they gonna call, GW Bush?). He clearly energized the crowd. Whether it ultimately matters–beats me.

Clinton had a lot of good lines, including, “No president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage [President Obama] found in just four years.”

The speech was a case of information overload. Very wonky, getting into complicated policy details. People won’t remember the details, but they will know that there are answers to the Republican talking points against Obama (like Medicare and Welfare). And most people won’t check to see if Clinton’s answers were accurate (as they won’t check to see if the Republican accusations are accurate).

At one point the crowd was chanting “Four More Years.” I think they were actually wanting another four years for Clinton.

Another good line: “Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president.” This resonated with me, because I mostly live my life around Republicans (though I might soften “hate” to merely “despising” the President).

The platform fiasco…don’t know what to say about that, except: stupid stupid STUPID. I couldn’t care less about using “God-given” in the platform. Does that refer to Jehovah God, to Allah, or to Eloihim, the god Mitt Romney worships? I’d just as soon leave it out, since we’re a pluralistic country that, theoretically (many conservative Christians disagree), doesn’t put one religion over another. But politically, the platform committee (and platform committees tend to represent the extreme edges of their party) seriously blundered. An unforced error, as somebody put it.

Regarding the Jerusalem thing, I’ll quote Joe Kelin: “Whoever took the usual language about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel out of the Democratic platform is an idiot.”

Conservatives also blundered in making a big stink about these omissions while the Democrats still had a chance to fix them. If they had just held their tongues for a couple days, they could have pummeled Obama with this “removing God from the platform” charge for the rest of the campaign, and Jews and evangelicals would have been hopping mad about the Jerusalem sleight. So I guess Obama should send Brett Baier and the other folks at Fox News a “Thank You” note for alerting them to these serious omissions while they could still fix them. Not only that, but they gave Obama the chance to personally intervene and thereby display his support for these platform issues (at least, that’s the storyline). But still, damage was done, and it was totally a case of the Dems shooting themselves in the foot.

The voice vote, obviously, was a joke. In declaring that the vote had passed by a two-thirds majority, Antonio Villaraigosa looked at the crowd and told them something he absolutely did NOT believe. As we all know, Republicans would never ever play games like that.

I also have to ask: is Obama running against Mitt Romney, or against Paul Ryan? Since Romney won’t commit himself to specifics, it’s hard to target him sometimes. Thus, Ryan commands the spotlight.

I’m a believer in the need for austerity. I’m not finding that in anything being proposed by either party, so I don’t have much hope of the debt and deficit being slashed anytime soon. The Democrats won’t cut programs, and any savings from cuts made by Republicans will be offset by diminished income because of huge tax cuts. As Clinton said, it’s about arithmetic.

President Obama speaks tonight. As a leader, as an explainer, and as a charismatic presence, I wonder if he will look small compared to Bill Clinton.

That’s enough. Go ahead and rip me to shreds.

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Tuesday Night of the DNC

Lots of good speeches last night (as there were last Tuesday during the RNC) on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention. Tammy Duckworth, Ted Strickland, Deval Patrick, Julian Castro. And then Michelle Obama–wow!

Imagine Julian Castro someday running for president against Marco Rubio–that would be interesting.

The best line–for ME–came during Ted Strickland’s speech much earlier. In a clever misuse of Scripture, he quoted Matthew 6:21, “For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and then pointed out that Mitt Romney’s treasure was in the Caymans and Switzerland. Unfortunately, this biblical allusion undoubtedly went right over the heads of most of the press and the delegates. “Matthew? Who is Matthew?”

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Ann Kiemel and her Continuing Example

Three of Ann’s books that I especially enjoyed.

Back in 2006, I wrote on my blog about Ann Kiemel, whose writings had been such an inspiration to me over 20 years before. The post was titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?

Thanks to Google, other fans of Ann Kiemel discovered the post and began leaving comments (Google her name, and my post is near the top). Thus far, 82 comments. A number of those comments express the same sentiments I wrote in the post–that her writings had been a huge inspiration to them.

Ann Kiemel

One person who had been touched by her influence wrote, “I personally feel America desperately needs to hear such a message again today more than ever.” I responded, “The thing is, to me, Ann’s message was her lifestyle, and that was the magic of her books–it wasn’t preaching about what we need to do, but stories of a person actually doing it. Not admonitions to go change our world, but glimpses of a person actually changing her world.”

Spiritual growth happens in different ways with different people. For some folks, listening to sermons spurs them on. Others, it’s their devotional time. Others, reading Christian books.

For me, spiritual growth comes from watching other people. From seeing solid Christian examples. I can point to various people I’ve known over the years whose lives left an imprint on me. Jack Wade, Marvin Price, Russ Birdsall, Ray Miller, Roger Reeck…some college friends…some very ordinary people in churches I’ve attended. I may have heard them preach sermons and teach classes, but it was not their words that remained with me. It was their Christian example.

That’s why Ann Kiemel’s stories made such an impression of me. I wasn’t watching her personally; I’ve never met Ann. But her little stories about ordinary encounters with ordinary people told me a lot about Christlikeness. In reading about one of her everyday encounters–which I could picture in my mind–I would get a better grasp on what God wanted me to be and do.

Examples like that affect me more than anything.

Ann Kiemel herself discovered my blog post, and left comments twice.

In July 2007, she wrote (in her trademark style), “please, never forget that life is NOT about me, but ALL about Jesus. my books are simple, as is my message still today. they have only touched your lives because Jesus put His hand on me.”

She also added, “i am praying that God will allow me to possibly write and speak again since my youngest is now graduated.”

Ann left another comment in May 2008:

today, i still believe utterly in sharing Jesus with my neighborhood. i speak the name of Jesus every day to someone. yes! i have built a bond with the lady next door. everyone at my grocery store. the bank.

i haven’t told most here that i am a writer. they know me as a single mother of four, very nice sons… and, every day, i look for ways to love people to Jesus. to love them. to speak His name. no one…who passes my way..do i just ignore. a warm smile. a touch on the arm.

i had my blood drawn, and a little, hispanic boy with a beautiful young mother was in the room next to me, sobbing. “no, mommy!!”

as i started to walk out the door, i unzipped my purse, and saw a $5, and went back to this tear-stained face, and put it in his hand, and told him he was very brave.

“thank you.”

i was so happy i thought to do that. an ordinary friday in an ordinary city on a hard day. i was trying to be Jesus.

it is not hard. God gives me every idea. every natural response. my children’s friends.

i stepped away from the public arena because my husband was so ill (died 7 yrs. ago), and my children were so vulnerable and i didn’t want to not give them everything i could to prepare them for life.

Ann repeated her desire to return to writing. I hope that my blog post, and the outpouring of support in the comments, perhaps spurred her on. Let her know that lives were changed through her simple free verse.

Today, a note was passed on to me from Ann Kiemel. Ann wrote, “i’m thrilled for all steve has done. really touched me….the first time i read his column and the comments about me, i had to stop half-way through because i was so moved and crying. it just blew me away.”

Good. I’m glad those comments–most of them representing someone Ann never met, but whose life she influenced–blew her away.

Today, Ann Kiemel writes on her own blog. Perhaps you were touched by her writings many years ago. Or maybe you’re too young, and don’t even recognize her name. In either case, I encourage you to meander over to AnnKiemel.com. Read, and watch, a woman who–still–has a heart for God.

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Another Threat Averted

3M, which invented the sticky-note, wanted to acquire rival Avery Dennison, another major producer of sticky-notes. But the Justice Department blocked the sale. Because nothing is a greater threat to the world economy than having a sticky-note monopoly.

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Waiting for the Trickle to Start

Dear Wise and Benevolent Job Creators:

I don’t want to rush you into anything you’re not comfortable with. But I’d like to make a simple request.

As you know, the amount of total US income going to you, the exalted top 1% of earners, increased from 9% in 1970 to 23% in 2007. You also hold over 30% of all wealth. The next highest country is Germany, where the top 1% earn just 11% of the country’s total income. Not that it matters in the least, because Europe sucks.

Now, I’m not criticizing you. It’s fine and dandy for the rich to get richer. That’s capitalism. You earned every penny by the sweat of your brow, with no help from anybody anywhere.

However, we’ve been told that when the Job Creators have enough money, they’ll spend it, and the economy will magically flourish and the middle class will prosper once again. Flowers will bloom, birds will sing. The rising tide will float our proletarian boats alongside your yachts, though we promise to not get too close. It will be a wonderful thing–what we’ve been awaiting, expectantly, for over 30 years.

This is what trickle-down economics is about, which Ronald Reagan championed back in the 1980s. And we, of course, love Ronnie. Give the wealthy more money, and it’ll sprinkle back down over the peons–and we will be grateful for whatever drops we get.

But I’m wondering. We’ve been doing the trickle-UP thing for over 30 years, and with enormous success, through both Democratic and Republican administrations. In fact, it has accelerated under Obama; under George Bush, you nabbed a mere 65% of all US income growth; but in 2009-2010, a whopping 93% of income growth went into your pockets. So we’re trying real hard to help you out, knowing we’ll ultimately be helping ourselves.

While most of America stagnates, you Job Creators have grown enormously wealthy. We know, since you are not greedy or selfish persons, that it’s all in preparation for the day when you transfer your money back to America, and open the floodgates to benefit the dry and thirsty populace.

I’m just wondering, dearest Job Creators, when exactly the trickle-DOWN part starts. That’s what Ronnie promised us back in the 1980s, but I didn’t think it would take this long. And I must say, it’s getting brutal out here. You may not have noticed, but the middle class ain’t doing so well. I’m not sure how much longer people can hold on while you get your act together.

Like I said, I don’t want to rush you, oh cautious and merciful Job Creators. I realize you’re waiting for the right time, and perhaps want to first finish remodeling your newest vacation home.

My simple request is–give us a number. Are you, perhaps, shooting to first achieve 30% of total US income? Maybe 40%? Would you like to control, say, 50% of all wealth before taking the risk of investing it for the sake of the American economy?

You, Job Creators, are our long-expected Messiah. But if you could give us a number you want to reach first, then we could plan ahead. That would be much appreciated. In the meantime, we will continue to patiently await the blessings of trickle-down promised long, long ago.

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“Do Not Think of Yourself More Highly Than You Ought….”

Sometimes my big ol red Dodge Dakota looks SO small.

It really affects my sense of manhood. Make me feel inferior. How can I ever face the world again?

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