Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I read this in the news recently:
“Diane Tran, an 11th-grade honor student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last week by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.
It's unclear how many days Tran missed, but state law reportedly permits only 10 absences in a six-month period.
Tran, who works full-time at a dry-cleaning business and part-time for a wedding planner, has been supporting her brother and sister since her parents separated and her mother moved away.”
Oh my, we have a lot of problems at play in this one. First, if she’s in jail, isn’t this kid going to end up missing school because of it? But what is school preparing her for if she can maintain honors grades whether or not she is present and already has a productive adult life in the workforce for which school is supposed to prepare her? So she misses a few days, clearly they weren’t really necessary for her anyway.
But Texas presses on. They put a kid in jail. A non-violent kid who does no harm to society and in fact has taken her place as a responsible and productive citizen. Proud of yourself, Texas?
But it gets better….
“Tran, who is considered an adult under Texas state law…”
Yes, folks, you read that right. The law says she’s an adult. She can pay taxes, she is tried as an adult, she is sent to adult jail. And yet she apparently doesn’t have the adult right not to submit her time and attention to the demands of the state indoctrination system. Phenomenal. She is an adult for trial purposes, but by law in Texas she’s not allowed to excuse herself from required public schooling until she’s a year older.
The news is going on and on about this unjust judge who simply followed the law. Sure the judge comes off like a unthinking petty bureaucrat. The bigger problem here, though, is that he’s just following the rules.
Just like he no doubt learned to do in public school.
And to his thinking, why would he excuse this wayward youth from just such a lesson.
Folks, there’s a lot more wrong here than just one judge.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Okay, so I’m not into flag waving and rah-rah. I’m offended that our country confuses patriotism and pep rally. I don’t say the pledge. I don’t think we have ever fought a war justly, at least not since the advent of the technology of the last century, and I don’t know that we have even entered most of our wars for just reasons. And thanking people “for their service” strikes me as trite, especially when that service was given under oppression in the form of conscription.
So, late born hippie that I seem to be, I started my memorial day pondering the right to vote. Is there such thing as a right to vote when the options are so limited and downright lame? I’ve often thought of giving up my “right” to vote but until this year I’ve never actually considered simply failing to exercise that right. I will vote in November, mostly because I do have that right, use it or lose it, and I do honor those who sacrificed (not just in war) so that all Americans (regardless of unorthodox political and uberorthodox religious leanings) could have the right to vote. In part, I’ll vote in order to maintain the right.
But the frustration with the same old choices is a legitimate one. You might say, don’t like the options, run for office. I would, except for that part about how I don’t and won’t say the Pledge. I am glad I have the right to run for office in this country, but it kind of strikes me as wrong to try to lead a country which does not have my whole allegiance. (As Christians we are citizens of another kingdom first.) I’m thankful for the genuine article when they do appear on my ballot (however rare, and however unelectable they tend to be) but for someone like me it would be a compromising position.
So how does someone like me honor a veteran, celebrate Memorial Day? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. It seems false to just go along to get along, it seems a betrayal for those who did fight and die for our rights to vote to blindly and quietly (and knowingly) vote for such a pack of losers and crooks. It seems a farce that every public office is bought with a price paid to the media. But how to make a faithful stand? It seems a farce also to go on about those today who “fight and die to protect our freedoms” when our freedom has almost never truly been under attack since the War of 1812. The accurate phrase is “to protect our interests.”
And I don’t fault those who do fight… I know a few of those guys. They’re impressive. If we were really in imminent danger, I’d gladly trust my fate to them. And some of the older guys, the ones who fought decades ago, they are some of the most upstanding, warm, and selfless people I know, older but much the same as the younger ones still fighting.
And most who have served seem to have a sense of being bound together, generation to generation, that the rest of us could learn a lot from.
But it all leaves me not really knowing what to do with it all.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Our friends at the former St. David’s will be moving out of their building this weekend! These brave souls are willing to walk away to be faithful stewards of their resources and of the Gospel entrusted to them. David Wilson, their rector, has posted a letter from the Presiding Bishop of the REC over on his website (anglicanyinzer.blogspot.com) and I thought to myself… wouldn’t it be cool if Christians they’ve never met, from all over internet-dom, would take the time and bless these faithful folks on their way. I’m on my way over there in a moment, but if you feel like wishing them well, the comments section on Presiding Bishop Riches’ letter is up and running and a good place to add your fond wishes for the new congregation of Christ the Redeemer!
Sometimes it is incredibly easy to make your voice heard!
Saturday, May 19, 2012
delicate white flowers
dotting my landscape
amid the thorns
tart dark fruit
A poem for my friend Beth, who has often reminded me of the simple value of the poetic. And for her daughter, whose appreciation for the wild berries on the edge of my yard a few summers ago makes me think of her every time I look at those promising buds.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I had the privilege of visiting a little guy at Children’s Hospital on Saturday. I long ago became convinced that hospitals are one of those places where the secular and the sacred collide, with noticeable results. God is at work, bidden or unbidden God is there, as they say.
Being a patient in a hospital, aside from whatever reason put a person there in the first place, is boring as all heck. Boredom is probably worse than pain for a kid. I think of every little kid I’ve ever known who would rather risk a spanking for misbehavior than sit still while waiting for an appointment or keep quiet while mom’s on the phone. Boredom stinks.
But I marveled at the hospital at how little the children’s hospital feels like a hospital. Its colorful, for one thing, and whimsical. And it has places where the kids can get out for a stroll (complete with tubes and equipment and wheelchairs and whatnot), a little library, a play room, a giant statue of a robot holding the Stanley Cup (for you robots and Penguins fans) and some sort of funky projected image that little kids seem to like to stomp on.
On the way out of the hospital I came across two healthy siblings of a hospitalized child, going bonkers in the foyer. I passed a patient room where I heard a child crying, and gave thanks that he or she was healthy enough to squalk a bit. I met a little mop top child running like mad while being tailed by tubes, parents, and one of those medical “trees” on wheels. It was a thankful thing, that some architects somewhere had made space for kids to bust out, even if their bodies weren’t exactly able to co-operate.
Even the little guy I was visiting, when his mom was out of the room (shhh… don’t tell), had fun with our adventures to turn on the light switch (which I will sacrifice my adult and professional dignity to confess involved lots of “vroom, vroooooom!” sounds and unnecessary little detours around the room with his wheelchair) and some silly reading of Cat in the Hat (which we didn’t quite finish… I owe him one). Strolling about with him and his mom, we had a great view of the city. Things look different a garden from six floors up.
In the end, I think its easy to underestimate kids who are hospitalized, to dehumanize them into needy objects, especially those who are severely ill. But they’re still in there, just aching to bust out, even when their bodies don’t wholly co-operate. They’re still contributing to our world, even when we are too self absorbed and busy to notice their quiet ways. They’re still active, even when so attached to tubes and medical trees that the activity is veiled, when pain or loss of control demands that the activity be slow and deliberate.
And it makes me thankful for their witness.
And for whoever thought a garishly hot pink ladies room was a good idea. And for the person who painted a six foot Statue of Liberty black and gold for the sixth floor atrium. And for the garden designer who put a mosaic sun in the middle of the winding wheelchair friendly little paths. And for the little kids who, heedless of pain and medical accoutrements were busting loose on the path and in the atrium and in countless other corners of the hospital and our world.
If play for children is more important to them than pain or discomfort or risk… what for adults has the same value?
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I heard on the radio the other day how Romney has the worst ratings of any candidate in the history of history, even worse than Mondale. Mondale, of whom my devoted Democrat-voting grandmother said “I might even consider voting for Reagan this year.” She didn’t but I guess she considered it. For her, that was virtually heresy. Romney is lower than Mondale!
The press speculates that maybe he should pick Condoleeza Rice as a running mate to perk up his campaign. He won’t, surely, because what presidential candidate wants to be upstaged by his VP?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Obama’s hope n’ change n’at has proven the bust that we social conservatives expected. We’re on a wild rush toward national bankruptcy and continued erosion of personal freedom. Yippee.
And if you don’t like Romney you must not like Mormons.
And if you don’t like Obama, it must be because he’s black.
Or at least that’s what the press thinks.
But in reality, how can we like either of them? We’re given a choice between dumb and dumber. And if, like me, you regularly research third party candidates, you don’t get much traction there either. The Constitution Party candidate (I do like the Constitution Party in theory) spent his entire acceptance speech when he was nominated, railing against immigrants… legal or illegal, he doesn’t care… and threatening to tie America’s companies to a policy of hire American, thwarting creativity and requiring us to select only from a pool of applicants who overall are products of our failing educational system. Oooh, that’ll be a good plan for the economy!
I would love to see Ron Paul and Condoleeza Rice walk away from the now defunct Republican Party and run together on a Libertarian ticket…. but I don’t expect the libertarians would go for that, nor the candidates in question. Alas.
So what are we left to do? We who live in the most connected society ever in the history of the world, haven’t yet figured out a way to elect “none of the above” and force our political system to go back to square one, nominate new candidates, and start over. Other countries can do this. Non-governmental entities can do this. Why not America? It would pump a huge amount of funding into the economy, that’s for sure, as campaign spending has already made the presidency the finest office money can buy. The only troubling detail is who would be president while the first president’s campaign is expired and the replacement has yet to be elected. Maybe its a use for the Vice President. Or maybe could have an essay contest among third graders and let the winner have the Oval Office for a while. Or rotate it among governors, each being president for the day. Or just shut down the government for a few weeks while we re-elect… nobody would notice anyway.