Monday, April 30, 2007


from Bob Herbert's recent op-ed in the New York Times, "Hooked on Violence" -- for those of you without TimesSelect:

I had coffee the other day with Marian Wright Edelman, president of the
Children’s Defense Fund, and she mentioned that since the murders of Robert
Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, well over a million
Americans have been killed by firearms in the United States. That’s more than
the combined U.S. combat deaths in all the wars in all of American

“We’re losing eight children and teenagers a day to gun violence,”
she said. “As far as young people are concerned, we lose the equivalent of the
massacre at Virginia Tech about every four days.”

[. . .]

Those who are interested in the safety and well-being of children should keep in mind that only motor vehicle accidents and cancer kill more children in the U.S. than firearms. A study released a few years ago by the Harvard School of Public Health compared firearm mortality rates among youngsters 5 to 14 years old in the five states with the highest rates of gun ownership with those in the five states with the lowest rates.

The results were chilling. Children in the states with the highest rates of gun ownership were 16 times as likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound, nearly seven times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, and more than three times as likely to be murdered with a firearm.

Only a lunatic could seriously believe that more guns in more homes is good for America’s children.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's the little things....

The Bible Blogger has reached the book of Ecclesiastes, and included the following quote I've never really noticed before. So I'll include it here for all of you. As he notes, Chapter 4 is a remarkable discussion of love and family.

I'm quoting from the Holy Bible: New Analytical Edition -- it's the one that belonged to my grandmother. The cover is well-worn, cracked, and threatening to come off, and some of the pages are in there precariously, but it's beautiful. There's a sticker inside the front cover that lists "Soul-winning Bible verses", and the first few pages are covered with her notes from various sermons. The Bulletin from Sunday, June 5, 1966 marks Psalm 6 -- along with the bulletin from her brother's funeral, on June 9, 1966, when he was just 52. My grandmother kept these items for almost 30 years, until her death in 1992. And it's filled with marginal notes, and underlinings in many different colors. My grandmother was a complicated woman -- she'd had a hard life, she wasn't always fair or kind, but she believed strongly in the power of God's word, and the need for us always to reach out to those in need around us. Even when she had little, she gave of what she had and opened her home to those who needed a place to sleep. And she told me, when I was 9, to read my Bible every day (not that I've followed this teaching well, always, but I think of her when I do remember. And of Mom, who always said, even if I don't read anything else, to at least read the chapter of Proverbs for whatever day it was. And who has led by quiet example every single day that I've known her.)

So here is Ecclesiastes 4:8-12.

There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.

Anyway, I usually get hung up in the "For every thing there is a season" section of Ecclesiastes (or Koheleth), but this text is a lovely expression of our human need for one another. Not just in the context of marriage (as the B.B. discusses it), but also in our friendships.

The Bible Blogger also mentioned an article on marriage, written in 1997 by a man who had just lost his wife.

And finally, I was talking to a friend who mentioned Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" -- I think I probably cut the conversation a little short by going off on a tangent, but have found an interesting online resource.

Blessings and peace....

Addendum: I found a poem my grandmother had cut out of the newspaper and kept in the Bible. Who knows how long it's been there. Here it is:

I shall not pass this way again,
But far beyond earth's where and when
May I look back along the road
Where on both sides good seed I sowed.

I shall not pass this way again,
My wisdom guide my tongue and pen,
And love me mine that so I may
Plant roses all along the way.

I shall not pass this way again,
May I be courteous to men.
Faithful to friends, true to my God,
A fragrance to the path I trod.
---- Clarence Urmy

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The things that make me think....

I love it when I come in contact with things that challenge my faith and challenge my belief, and make me think about where it is my fundamental beliefs come from. Why do I accept the truths that guide my decisions every day, and what exactly are those truths?

Here are a few I've been thinking about today:

* has published excerpts from Christopher Hitchens' new book God is not Great: Religion Poisons Everything. The arguments are well-written, challenging and thought-provoking.

* I've recently read Go in Peace. It's a discussion of the sacrament of confession intended for Catholics. But it's been a fun and intriguing read for me, because it necessarily addresses a number of tenets of the Catholic faith I've wondered about. I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting, and found myself unable to put it down. There were many things that conform very closely to what I believe, but also many things to which I had a strong, visceral reaction; not really that much about which I felt neutral. Food for thought.

* Last night I saw "The Ninth Day", a Volker Schlöndorff production. It was incredibly well done, and explores the life a priest who is released from Dachau for nine days. The movie asks us to consider what beliefs we hold so dear, we would be willing to die, even if escape were offered to us. If you watch it, check out the interview with Schlöndorff on the DVD. The main character is portrayed by the same actor, Ulrich Matthes, who so disturbingly and convincingly portrayed Joseph Goebbels in the 2004 film about Hitler's last days, "Downfall".

Not sure what it means, but Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" came on while I was writing this entry, so I will include the lyrics here for you:

You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage,
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage,
You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home,
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome,
You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk,
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Copyright © 1979 Special Rider Music

Friday, April 27, 2007

This really is pretty cool.

Thanks, TexasInAfrica --- here are the top 50 words used in my blog in the month of April:

created at

Top Stories in Germany

* The aggressive nature of Russia's reaction to Nato.

* CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and SPD (Socialist Party - Germany) are still arguing about how to create more care facilities for children under the age of three (Kinderkrippen). The current plan is to triple the number of spaces by 2013, when they foresee having 750,000 spots available to tots (no, I really couldn't resist. Sorry to all of you who groaned). Frau van der Leyen (Minister to Children and Families - CDU) and Peer Steinbrück (Finance Minister - SPD) are squared off in their corners, and Angela Merkel just wants everyone to get along....

* Schalke 04 lost to Vfl Bochum 1:2. Soccer, the people's sport. It was the 31st day of Bundesliga play, and the title is on the line....

* Airbus is cutting jobs in the Hamburg area.

* FAZ posted pictures of the day -- fun if you have a few extra minutes available to you =).

Must-see TV

According to Robert Parham, of the Baptist Center for Ethics, this week's Bill Moyers program, which is still available on PBS is "a must-watch for Christians who care about peace and justice inseparable from truth."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Worth reading

and by people I know and love:

The Cute One found a great article about the Va. Tech incident.

TexasInAfrica posted a lovely poem.

And Trivial Knowledge posted a great comment to this blog.

Life is just good.

This picture was taken on the road from Bitche, France to Germany. Just beautiful, like today, but I'll get to that in a minute.

This is a picture of the untakeable citadelle of Bitche, for those of you who don't believe it exists.... built in the 18th century by some very famous citadelle builder.

And the reason for all of this loveliness? Because it's a beautiful day, but I didn't have my camera with me, and can't find my charger at any rate. I had lunch (dinner? - what do you call it, when the first meal you eat is after 3:00 p.m.) at the most beautiful spot in Birmingham today.

Tip Top Grill sits on top of Shades Mountain, overlooking the valley. It's only 15 minutes from my place, but when you're up there, you can't see the city at all, just rolling hills and lovely trees in all the different shades of green. Burgers are $1.75 and delicious; add the fries and sweet tea, and it's pretty close to perfect.

Hope your day is just as perfect.

This was taken last summer; at the foot of the aforementioned citadelle. They're so proud of it, they built a little garden around the base.

More information...

The FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) has a special about school shootings and very helpfully put up a list of school shootings (done by madmen, as opposed to school shootings where it is the authorities shooting protesters (Kent State)). Here is an abbreviated list (only incidents in schools and universities), in English:

1966 - Univ. of Texas; 15 dead, 31 wounded; gunman killed
1989 - Montreal; 14 women killed; 4 men and 8 women wounded; gunman commits suicide
1996 - Dunblane, Scotland; 16 children and their teacher killed at elementary school; suicide
1997 - Sanaa Yemen; 6 children and two others killed; gunman receives death penalty
1999 - Columbine; 12 students and 1 teacher killed; gunmen commit suicide
2001 - Osaka, Japan; Mamoru Takuma attacks elementary schoolchildren with a kitchen knife. He kills 8 children. He is sentenced to death (sentence carried out in 2004).
2002 - Erfurt, Germany; 16 dead; gunman commits suicide.
2005 - Minnesotta; student kills 5 fellow students, a teacher, a school employee, his grandfather and his grandfather's friend before committing suicide.
2006 - September 13, Montreal; 1 female student killed; 19 wounded
2006 - September 27, Colorado; homeless man kills 1 student and then commits suicide.
2006 - September 29, Wisconsin; student kills principal of school in a struggle for a gun.
2006 - October 2, Pennsylvania; man attacks Amish schoolchildren; 4 girls die. He commits suicide.
2007 - Va. Tech; 32 people die; gunman commits suicide.

There are fewer than I thought -- and although most are in the U.S. (7), a greater proportion take place outside the U.S. (6) than I would have thought.

So, I was wrong

I've been operating under the somewhat naive assumption that what would help curb violence in the United States would be better gun control laws. Or gun control laws that were enforced more efficiently. But this morning I've found that even in Germany, which has tighter gun control laws than we do (and is the other country I know lots about), there have been school shootings.

Deutsche-Welle published a brief article about two recent shootings, but I've started a quest to find out how many more have happened worldwide. I can think of at least one incident in Scotland several years ago.

It's a horrible issue. In yesterday's edition of the "Samford Crimson" there was an angry letter from a parent, who ranted about the fact that the reason gunmen choose schools as their targets is because they are guaranteed an unarmed populace upon which to vent their anger, and that the best answer to the problem would be for every single person at the school to have a weapon of their own.

I don't know the answer. Maybe the real exception has been that we (the fortunate, privileged, few of us) have been isolated and protected from violence for so long, that it comes as a shock to have it manifest in our midst. The world is certainly a violent place, and probably the majority of the world grows up confronted by daily threats to their lives and their existence, even many growing up here in the U.S.

As many of you know, I go to Baptist Church of the Covenant, which has a fairly diverse congregation. During the children's sermon on Sunday, the leader asked the children why Jesus had died and a little boy who lives in the nearby housing project, about 4 years old, said, "because he got shot". It struck me that that was his immediate response to why someone would die.

So, again, I don't know the answer, I just have the strong feeling that I need to figure out how to be part of it.

Blessings, peace, and prayer for those who are weary and suffering...

Addendum: the children's sermon leader responded, "No. He died for our sins." Not sure how helpful that was to a concrete-thinking, reality-based 4 year old mind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An interesting article about forgiveness ... (thanks TexasInAfrica for posting it first). If you have the time, some of the comments are amusing.


it's been a Bob Dylan kind of day. Good class, then meeting after meeting at work. And sunshine when I was walking back to the car, in spite of a rainy forecast. So I took a little detour on my way back home, chillin' to good music, windows down, feeling the wonderful warm breeze.

The video is from a 1978 live performance -- back when you could still understand what he was saying =). And it's my wish for all of you.

The ONE campaign

Bono will be appearing on American Idol tonight to promote the ONE campaign, and the contribution each one of us could make individually to the fight against extreme poverty and AIDS in the world. Even if you don't usually watch Idol (or don't like to admit to it), tune in and check it out. To sign up to ONE go to

Blessings and peace

Monday, April 23, 2007

This is entirely too awful. I have no words.

And Boris Yeltsin died today.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Your kisses....

aren't really wasted on me, but I love this song:

Does anyone know if you can buy their stuff in the States now, or do I need to look for them in Europa?? Not that I won't have plenty of time to do that.....

If you're looking for me this afternoon I'll be at the CROP walk ... and then Gelato ... and then off to buy a polka-dotted dress. Too. Much. Fun.

Hope for a better world

In church today, the story was about Peter, when he and the disciples were out fishing and not catching anything, and Jesus called out to them over the water and told them to throw the nets on the other side. After they had come back ashore and Jesus was fixing breakfast, he asked Peter: Do you love me? Three times. We all know the story. Our pastor, Sarah Shelton, pointed out that Jesus did not point the finger, did not try to make Peter feel guilty about his previous betrayals. He just offered him the opportunity for redemption, the chance to make it right by avowing his love for Christ 3 times.

These three avowals of love were followed by the command to "Feed My Sheep" -- don't just say you love me, put it into action. Thanks to all of you who take that command to heart, and demonstrate God's love in the world you inhabit; even on the days (especially on the days?) when you don't realize that that's what you're doing.

This afternoon, at 2:30, there will be a CROP walk to help eradicate hunger here in Birmingham, Alabama. The Birmingham chapter of will be participating, as well as several friends of mine. If you're in this neck of the woods, come check it out. If not, keep the walkers in your prayers, and the people for whom they are raising money.

The image above is of the cross in Rick Dill's church in Weimar, Germany. The church had about 7 or 12 members when he arrived, and it's now grown to over 150. The cross, made by a local artist, consists entirely of discarded and found materials, because Christ takes that which is old and discarded, and seems to be of no use, and brings it together to create new life and new purpose.

Blessings and Peace...

And to TexasInAfrica --- thanks for the reminder of the blessings brought by luminous friends, who are sometimes with us an all-too-short time. And thanks for being one of the people who brings light and joy and tears and LIFE to my life and to all those around you. You make such a difference and I cherish your friendship.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What I Think of Things: The Feminine Mistake

Yesterday, the Cute One posted this entry about Leslie Bennetts' Feminine Mistake.'s Joan Walsh wrote what I think is a good review of the book, looking at both its strengths and weaknesses. What I find particularly important, is that she pointed out that really only a very small percentage of the women in our society even have the option of choosing to work or not to work. The vast majority have to work in order to support their families and their children.

Most of my friends with children have chosen to stay home with them, at least while they are small. Leslie Bennetts would argue that they are throwing away their financial independance, and their chance to make a meaningful contribution to the world; and also their chance to feel they have a meaningful occupation. She claims that women do not consider that their husbands might at some point not be able to support them, and that they are blithely and naively giving up the chance to be happy and financially independant. She argues that women would not make the choice to leave the workforce if they have all of the facts.

I just don't think that's true. My friends are thoughtful, intelligent, highly educated women, who don't "flaunt their unused ivy league degrees like a diamond". They have decided that they want to have the time with their children, that they don't want to miss those first years that fly by all too quickly. And of course it isn't always a bed of roses, there are frustrations and difficulties. One of my friends sometimes feels that she is losing herself and she misses adult conversation. But at the same time, although she sometimes says she envies my life (not all of it, just some of it...), I don't think she would make a different choice. She believes she's done the right thing, and she is mostly very happy with her decision. But I think that that is true for all of us, whether we are stay-at-home moms or single career women -- some days, we love the choices we've made; other days, we think "what if"; and some days, we wish we could check out the other side of the fence, and really experience what happens there.

And that brings me to me. I'm not a stay-at-home mom. I'm not a mom at all, nor anywhere near being a mom --- I'm almost 36 and not married, and not dating anyone seriously. You can all do the math. Now, I don't really know if I want to be a mother. To be perfectly frank, I don't think about it very much, because I'm not in a position to change anything. I know for certain that I don't want to be a single mother. Not that people don't do it very well, but I just know that that wouldn't be for me. So, I won't worry about it until I do get married or have a more permanent partner. And then maybe. So, what would I do if I had a child? Would I continue in my career or choose to stay at home? I have no idea. But I think both choices are valid, and we need to respect the women who have made them, and not condescend to them that they have either thrown away their chance at being "real women" (i.e. mothers) or "truly happy" (i.e. successful career women).

Peace and Love....
Get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town ....

(Got them Sweet Tequila Blues....)

(And thanks, Texas in Africa)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guns and Abortion

When you're right, you're right, and TexasInAfrica hit the nail on the head when she said to look out for the rush of gun-control and anti-gun-control articles. But I'm recommending this one anyway. I really don't know why we don't care about gun-control in this country, and why we are willing to be the most dangerous industrialized country in the world. We don't have to live this way, but we choose to, because some people just can't do without their "sacred" right to carry a weapon. I don't get it. It's dumb.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Go in Peace

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glint of snow,

I am the sunshine on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.
----Mary Frye