Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spud's Christmas...











And the fight continues:






Anyone who still doubts that a public option or single payer healthcare system should be the cornerstone of real healthcare reform should read this article from the New York Times. It seems big insurance/pharmacy has positioned itself into state legislatures to further fight of health reform.

What really puzzles me on this is how a state like Florida, that has a large percentage of people on Medicare (a government run healthcare system) can be so against a government run health system. The same can be said of Arkansas, which is ranked #5 in the percentage of people who live below the poverty line (17.9% ), and around 25% of its children living in poverty today. Recent polls show that most Arkansans are against health care reform, even though a large number of Arkansans would benefit from these same reforms.

Add to that the coverage on conservative Christian radio and TV stations like TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) AFR (American Family Radio) and Relevant Radio (Catholic Radio) touting how the current plan should be fought tooth and nail, and I am further confused. I've even heard the abortion card played in this debate. People, I hate to tell you this, but current federal laws mandate that no federal funding can be used for abortion. The Stupac ammendment is a smokescreen. There are no Death Pannels. Nobody is pulling the plug on Grandma and no one is mandating abortion.

I have to say again that I am less than pleased with the current healthcare bills. Without a public option, any reforms we see are like peeing into the wind. Yes it makes you feel better, but you are still going to be standing in a mess.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hit & Run... at Church...

I'll post a picture of this later, but right now I'm still miffed. Yesterday after services someone backed into the driver's side door of my car... and left without so much as an "I'm sorry". I am actually more hurt than angry over the damages. Cars can be repaired, and I have full coverage insurance, but they didn't come to me about it... that's what gets me. That's the hardest thing for me to forgive.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent meditaion with the Anglican Rosary

I sort of cobbled this together from several traditional Advent prayers:

Crucifix:
Apostles’ Creed
Invitatory bead:
Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying, 14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’*

Cruciform beads:
My soul magnifies the Lord,And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.He has shown strength with His arm:He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.He has put down the mighty from their thrones,and exalted those of low degree.He has filled the hungry with good things;and the rich He has sent empty away.He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Week beads:

1st bead
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence. Sirach 24:2; Wisdom 8:1. Symbols: oil lamp, open book.

2nd bead
O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.Exodus 3:2, 20:1. Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets.

3rd bead
O ROOT OF JESSE, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.Isaiah 11:1-3. Symbol: vine or plant with flower (especially a rose).

4th bead
O KEY OF DAVID, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.Isaiah 22:22. Symbols: key; broken chains.

5th bead
O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice: Come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.Psalm 19:6-7. Symbol: rising sun.

6th bead
O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.Psalm 2:7-8, Ephesians 2:14-20. Symbols, Crown, scepter.

7th bead
O EMMANUEL, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God.Isaiah 7:14; 33:22. Symbols: tablets of stone, Chalice and Host.

Invitatory (to exit):

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the begining is now and will be forever. Amen.

Crucifix:

Blessed be the name of Lord. Thanks be to God.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I think if we're going to worship babies, we ought to think about why we make so many of them go without health care. "

Comment on Arkansasblog regarding a Winter Solstice display put up on the Captial Lawn by Arkansas Freethinkers. Big controversy about them putting this up, since they won the court case to allow them to put it up near the Nativity scene.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advice

I am debating whether or not I should invest any more time into the HC plan I mentioned on Grandmere Mimi's blog. Should I send it up and see if anyone thinks its a good idea or not? Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From the Book of Common Prayer... for Those Traveling this Holiday

Especially for one of our doctors and her family as they fly to Myanmar today to be with family:

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel [in particular Mynt Kyu and family and all holiday travelers]; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;and bring them in safety to their journey's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln - Asshats at Large

Washington (CNN) -- Dashing the hopes of Democratic lawmakers Sunday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman signaled he would oppose a health care bill that includes a proposal to expand Medicare to people as young as 55.

Ok, I realize Joe is still miffed that Democrats in his district wouldn't vote for him, but this is getting rediculous. So the Democrats in Conn. didn't vote for you in the primary a few years ago... get over it already!

I have pulled my support of the health reform bill at this time because it no longer has a public option. Until it is back in, I will not support it, and I will not vote for any Senator that caused it to be pulled. Are you listening Blanche and Mark? Or are your ears still plugged with all that pharmacutical money pouring into your accounts?

I have to hand it to the big pharmacy and insurance companies. They have convinced the majority of Arkansans that a public option (emphasis option) is not in their best interest. And maybe it isn't. A large number of Arkansans are already receive their health care via Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's Administration, and Indian Affairs. We don't need no socialized medicine here...

Friday, December 11, 2009

And a Third Request

This seems to be a bad season here in NW Arkansas. A co-worker "Donna" lost her husband this week. Please keep her in your prayers as well.

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother Cliff. We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Another Prayer Request... too sad

Pastor Stacy, who leads the Lutheran Church that All Saints rents space from posted on Facebook that she will be presiding today over a funeral service for an infant. Please keep her and this unnamed family in your prayers as well...

From the Book of Common Prayer:

O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust N. to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer Request (not one I would usually offer...)

Though I don't usually ask for prayers for celebrities, since this is a local family I'm throwing it out there... please pray for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19th child. From USA Today:

"18 Kids and Counting" mom Michelle Duggar gave birth to a baby girl Thursday night via emergency C-section, although she wasn't due to give birth until spring.
Josie Brooklyn Duggar weighed in at 1 lb, 6 ounces.


No matter our personal oppinions on this, this family needs some serious prayers right now. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For Those of us playing the home game

Here is the abomination of a bill I mentioned earlier (from CNN... Hat tip to Mimi for posting this originally):

CNN) -- As a gay man in Uganda, Frank Mugisha is used to the taunts, the slurs and the daily harassment of neighbors and friends.


But if a new bill proposed in the east African country becomes law, Mugisha could be put away for life, or worse, put to death for having sex with another man.

"Right now, you can't go to places that are crowded, because the mob can attack us or even burn us. We can't walk alone. We are ostracized by relatives. But if this bill passes, it will become impossible for me to live here at all. And that part hurts the most," Mugisha said.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill features several provisions that human rights groups say would spur a witch hunt of homosexuals in the country:

• Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced, at minimum, to life in prison

• People who test positive for HIV may be executed

• Homosexuals who have sex with a minor, or engage in homosexual sex more than once, may also receive the death penalty

• The bill forbids the "promotion of homosexuality," which in effect bans organizations working in HIV and AIDS prevention

• Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but does not report it would risk up to three years in prison
"Who will go to HIV testing if he knows that he will suffer the death sentence?" Elizabeth Mataka, the U.N. Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, told reporters last week. "The law will drive them away from seeking counseling and testing services."
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under colonial-era laws. But the bill, introduced in October, is intended to put more teeth into prosecuting violators.
It applies even to Ugandans participating in same-sex acts in countries where such behavior is legal.

"They are supposed to be brought back to Uganda and convicted here. The government is putting homosexuality on the level of treason," Mugisha said.
Lawmakers have indicated that they will pass the bill before year's end.
It has the blessing of many religious leaders -- Muslim and Christian -- in a country where a July poll found 95 percent opposed to legalizing homosexuality.
The Rev. Esau Omara, a senior church leader, said over the weekend that any lawmaker opposing the bill will pay for it during the next election, according to local newspaper reports.

And a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje, has called for gays to be rounded up and banished to an island until they die.
Several media outlets also have inflamed sentiments in recent months by publicly pointing out gays and lesbians.
Who will go to HIV testing if he knows that he will suffer the death sentence?
--Elizabeth Mataka

In April, the Observer newspaper published tips to help readers spot homosexuals. And over the summer, the Red Pepper tabloid outed 45 gays and lesbians.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has not publicly stated his position on the bill, but last month blamed foreign influence in promoting and funding homosexuality.
"It is true that, if the president has said that, he must have information that European nations are promoting (homosexuality) and recruiting homosexuals," government spokesman Fred Opolot said. "You must note that the president or the legislators are responding to the concern of the citizenry of the country."
At the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago late last month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he pulled aside Museveni to deplore the bill.
"We find them inconsistent with, frankly, I think any reasonable understanding of human rights, and I was very clear on that with the president of Uganda," Harper told reporters.

In the United States, a coalition of Christian leaders released a statement Monday denouncing the bill.
"Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, in our churches, communities and families, we seek to embrace our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as God's children, worthy of respect and love," the statement read.
Human rights groups have called on Western nations to withhold aid from Uganda if the measure passes. About 40 percent of the country's budget comes from international aid.

"This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalized groups," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at the New York-based Human Rights Watch. "The government may be starting here, but who will be next?"
Opolot, the government spokesman, said consideration of the bill in parliament is merely "democracy at work."

"We as a country are engaging and debating a pertinent issue," he said. "So if a foreign country chooses to cut aid simply because Uganda is debating its destiny, then it is quite outrageous and quite wrong."

Mugisha, who now heads the group Sexual Minority of Uganda, said he is working with lawyers and other activists to change minds and defeat the measure.
"I have put a lot of effort in this struggle. I just want to live freely every day," he said. "I want to be happy knowing that if I'm going to meet someone, I'm not going to be taken to jail forever."

Anyone still wonder why I'm so angry with Rowan now? The absolute gall of this man to condemn the Episcopal Church for following through with our end to the moratorium and yet he says nothing about this stinking piece of offal in the middle of the highway.

Congratulations a bit late and the Asshat awards...



Congratulations to the Diocese of Louisiana for their election of Morris Thompson as their new bishop and to the Diocese of Los Angeles for electing Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Glasspool as suffragen bishops.

And on to the Asshat Award... I haven't given these out much because they are so many great candidates right now. However, one in particular seems to strike a nerve. To the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.


This award is presented to him via the blogsphere because of his rapid response to the election of Mary Glasspool, a lesbian in a committed relationship for 21 years, while offering only stony silence on the bill in Uganda, fully supported by the Anglican Church there, to not only make homosexuality a capital offence (punishable by death), but will extend the warm welcome of the Iron Bar Hotel to anyone who would hide them, support them, render pastoral care, or discuss the issue in a positive light.
Here's his response in full:
The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.
The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.
The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.


He was asked in 2007: "You yourself once thought it possible that same-sex relationships might be legitimate in God's eyes." He responded: "Yes, I argued that in 1987. I still think that the points I made there and the questions I raised were worth making as part of the ongoing discussion. I'm not recanting. But those were ideas put forward as part of a theological discussion. I'm now in a position where I'm bound to say the teaching of the Church is this, the consensus is this. We have not changed our minds corporately. It's not for me to exploit my position to push a change."

>An old curmudgeon and friend of mine once said that theology was, "attempting to apply the Word of God into our lives..." and that theology was not an abstract thought, but something meant to guide us toward the will of God. Dr. Williams seems to think that theology is merely abstract thought with no practical application.


We have a saying here in the hills, "If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes". The way I see it the Archbishop can either lead the pack into a greater understanding of Christ's love and inclusiveness or he can simply follow the rest of the sled dogs with their myopic view of exclusivity. He is obviously choosing the later, and now the blood of the innocent is on his hands.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's About Time the Crickets Stopped...

From Episcopal Life: (Hat tip to Grandmere Mimi):

[December 4, 2009] The following is the statement of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori concerning proposed private member’s bill on homosexuality in the Parliament of Uganda:

The Episcopal Church joins many other Christians and people of faith in urging the safeguarding of human rights everywhere. We do so in the understanding that “efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (General Convention 2006, Resolution D005).This has been the repeated and vehement position of Anglican bodies, including several Lambeth Conferences. The Primates’ Meeting, in the midst of severe controversy over issues of homosexuality, nevertheless noted that, as Anglicans, “we assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, Dromantine, 2005).

The Episcopal Church represents multiple and varied cultural contexts (the United States and 15 other nations), and as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema. We are deeply concerned about the potential impingement on basic human rights represented by the private member’s bill in the Ugandan Parliament.

In the United States and elsewhere, we note that changed laws do help to shift public opinion and urge a more humane response to difference. The Hate Crimes Act recently passed in the United States is one example, as are the many pieces of civil rights legislation that have slowly changed American public behavior, especially in the area of race relations. We note the distance our own culture still needs to travel in removing discriminatory practice from social interactions, yet we have also seen how changed hearts and minds have followed legal sanctions on discriminatory behavior.

We give thanks for the clear position of the United States government on human rights, for the State Department’s annual human rights report on Uganda, which observes that the existing colonial-era law on same-sex relations is a societal abuse of human rights, and for the State Department’s publicly voiced opposition to the present bill. We urge the United States government to grant adequate access to the U.S. asylum system for those fleeing persecution on the basis of homosexuality or gender identity, to work with other governments, international organizations, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide adequate protection for these asylum seekers, and to oppose any attempts at extradition under a law such as that proposed in Uganda.

Finally, we note that much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own Church. We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior. We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.

We call on all Episcopalians to seek their own conversion toward an ability to see the image of God in the face of every neighbor, of whatever race, gender, sexual orientation, theological position, or creed. God has created us in myriad diversity, and no one sort or condition of human being can fully reflect the divine. Only the whole human race begins to be an adequate mirror of the divine.

We urge continued prayer for those who live in fear of the implications of this kind of injustice and discrimination, and as a Church, commit ourselves anew to seek partnerships with the Church of Uganda, or any portion thereof, in serving the mission of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Gospel is larger than any party or faction. It is only in mutual service and recognition that we will begin to mend our divisions.

We are grateful for the willingness of the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace to hear this plea on behalf of all God’s people, and urge their continued assistance in seeking greater justice. We note the impediments this legislation would pose to the ability to continue a Listening Process in which all of the Anglican Communion is currently engaged.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts SchoriPresiding BishopThe Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.