Monday, July 27, 2009

Culture: Racism or law enforcement?

Police officer of one ethnic background arrests person of another ethnic background.

An example of racism or law enforcement?

The controversy over the Cambridge police arrest of Henry Louis Gates shows that the conversation about race in America remains fraught with pitfalls and a difficult topic.

It appears that even the woman who phoned in the 911 call is having to defend herself from criticism which is very disappointing.

President Obama wading into the topic with strong language raised the temperature on the story. To President Obama's credit, he has recognized his words were unfortunate and has proposed that he, Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley meet at the White House for a beer to talk.

Was the confrontation at the home of Prof. Gates racism or law enforcement?

I don't know.

But what I do know is that though America has come a long way in regards to race, the tempest over this case shows we still have a ways to go.

President Obama's "beer diplomacy" in this case is something we could learn from.

I often hear the phrase, "racial reconciliation" and I think one place that can happen is to simply listen and talk with someone who is different from one's self. In that setting, it becomes possible to see the other person as a fellow human being and that skin color is just a part of who we are and not all of what we are.

Update: CNN interviews some of the police officers of Cambridge.

Update: Thoughts from Brazile on the situation. Excerpt:
Therefore, I was not surprised by the findings of a recent WSJ/NBC poll. It found that just 4 percent of African-Americans think Gates was more at fault compared to 30 percent who pointed to the officer. Among whites, 32 percent said Gates was more at fault while 7 percent identified Crowley.
I suppose the day we truly "get past" race is when there isn't such a divergence in the response.

Update: Lucia Whalen who made the 911 phone call speaks out to clear her name.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Non-profit of the Month: July 2009 - Door of Hope

The other weekend I joined our youth group (on Saturday) for a service weekend (they volunteered Friday and Saturday). Part of the day was at Door of Hope. There is so much need here and in many other places like them. For a few hours, the students of our youth group and its leaders were able to see beyond their usual lives to offer some service and be Jesus' hands, feet, smiles, hugs and kind words for families who need a little help to get back on their feet.

Door of Hope is a transitional housing program. Their goal:
Our goal is to help families with children go from homelessness to self-sufficiency to permanent housing. We provide a safe nurturing home environment for homeless families who are serious about getting their lives back on track.
What happens there will probably never make the evening news but God sees the compassion being offered and the people helped by Door of Hope light up knowing they aren't alone and have a real chance to regain their dignity and opportunities in life.

Matthew 25:37-40 says:
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Please consider supporting Door of Hope or some other program like it in your community.

Monday, July 20, 2009

World: 40 years ago today ...

Watch CBS Videos Online

Profiled in this CBS news item is the guy who decided that things were still okay when the 1202 alarm went off while Apollo 11 was going in for the landing.

Roam around the the moon on Google Moon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

World: When a coup is not really a coup

When I had first heard the news from Honduras, I thought, too bad, its a return to the bad old days of military dictatorships.

However, having read this item, I'm wondering what is the USA doing supporting ousted Honduran President Zelaya?

What is going on in the US State Department and the White House?

This illegality may entitle Zelaya to return to Honduras. But does it require that he be returned to power?

No. As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.

True, Zelaya should not have been arbitrarily exiled from his homeland. That, however, does not mean he must be reinstalled as president of Honduras. It merely makes him an indicted private citizen with a meritorious immigration beef against his country.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Non-profit of the month: June 2009 - Salvation Army

Started to see these commercials on TV now and then.

Very moving.

In these hard economic times, it is too easy to stop giving. But when I see that lives can be transformed by the work of organizations like Salvation Army, it is worth it.

Please look into your pocketbook and give to a good cause that helps people.

Consider giving something up so you'll have extra money to give.

And most of all, find some way to touch another person's life.

In these hard and uncertain times, we could all use a little more kindness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: Surely you know

God speaks...

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!

We do know a lot more about the natural world these days compared to when Job was written down.

Here is something from about how big the earth is.

Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?

With modern technology, humans have found the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean: 10,924 meters (35,840 feet) deep in the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench.

Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.

I would imagine in Job's day they did see small bodies of water freeze over. They would know of snow capped mountains. I wonder if they had seen or had heard of from other peoples from other parts of the known world of icebergs?

image source:

Have you seen icebergs calving into the water? Its pretty impressive!

Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?

Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the Pleiades
Image source:

Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?

image source:

We do know a lot more about the natural world than Job did. And so have we in our knowledge gotten so full of ourselves that we think that that knowledge has killed God?

Or do we ponder still ... that there might (must) be something far greater than ourselves?

In the sermon at church yesterday, the speaker spoke of how humans fall into several categories: those of us stumbling in the dark looking for God, those stumbling in the dark looking for something but not quite ready to call that something God and those who don't even know they are in the dark in need of anything.

His take home message was that God was found in the place people least expected: Jesus on the Cross.

Lord, the wonders of the natural world are marvelous and grand and beautiful and wonderful. They stir in me a sense that there is something far beyond myself out there. Thank you that you came to us in the Cross to bring us back to yourself. Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Science: Francis Collins nominated to NIH directorship

Francis Collins who ran the NIH's human genome project appears headed for the big chair to run the NIH which has a $40 billion budget ($30 billion + $10 billion in the stimulus package).

If you are curious how that money is broken up into the various units that comprise the NIH, go here. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) continue to be the top two.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Politics: Mark Steyne on Gov. Palin's Resignation

I was surprised to hear the news of Gov. Sarah Palin opting out of running for a second term and even going further of resigning from her first term. It would appear to be a questionable move if she is preparing to run for higher office in 2012 or later.

What could be going on?

We will probably hear more news in the next few days I'm sure.

But the instant analysis that makes the most sense to me is from Mark Steyn.


So Occam's Razor leaves us with: Who needs this?

In states far from the national spotlight, politics still attracts normal people. You're a mayor or a state senator or even the governor, but you lead a normal life. The local media are tough on you, but they know you, they live where you live, they're tough on the real you, not on some caricature cooked up by a malign alliance of late-night comics who'd never heard of you a week earlier and media grandees supposedly on your own side who pronounce you a "cancer".
National office will dwindle down to the unhealthily singleminded (Clinton, Obama), the timeserving emirs of Incumbistan (Biden, McCain) and dynastic heirs (Bush). Our loss.

All the best to you, Sarah, and to your family in whatever road you take.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Politics: You balance California's Budget

Give it a try and find a way to close a $24,000,000,000 budget gap.