Monday, November 09, 2009
I wonder what Bible Mr Blankfein is getting that from? Maybe he's better at raising money and rewarding executives than he is at interpreting scripture...
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Why Willow Creek and Saddleback are Losing Influence While North Point and LifeChurch.tv are Gaining Influence
Posted using ShareThis
Cultural shifts are ever with us... but to ascribe a single cause is to be in error. Perhaps the impact of the economic crisis is one of the causes of staff and program reductions. Nevertheless, an interesting trend, which raises questions about discipleship and community.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Two models of ministry and spirituality come to mind: engagement and withdrawal. We generally aren't very good at melding the two. Over recent decades there has been a tendency to a spiritual activism which leads to burnout on the one hand, or an ascetic spirituality which seems disconnected from the realities of life.
Much of the language of church and faith reflects first century Palestinian realities and experience rather than 21st century society, which is both more affluent, and more globally connected. The tools of trade and the context of community and commerce are vastly different. How to love one's neighbour in a world as connected yet diverse (economically, spiritually, socially, and politically) as ours is deeply perplexing. Yet I have been to (apparently successful) church where not one mention was made of anything outside the building.
Jesus picked up and used the hands-on images of his day to depict the work of God - ploughs, pigs, lilies, mustard seeds... Not many of them resonate with our present experience, although they are somewhere within our knowledge bank. What images of the kingdom resonate in our 21st century environment, and how do they help us imagine God's ideal future? Reflecting on the Navman in my car driving experience is just one example of how we might reconsider our tools as images of God's purposes.
We cannot hope to prepare people to live in their daily world as followers of Jesus without pointing to ways in which present experiences might embody God's call. Some vision of what it means to be a christian in the 21st century workplace, community space, and retail places - amongst others - is part of today's ministry challenges.
What do you think?
Friday, July 10, 2009
As the G8 Summit begins in
Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), is rooted in a stream of papal teaching on economic justice that goes back to 1891 with the encyclical Rerum Novarum (Of New Things). It is a far-reaching look at the relationships and issues that the global economy has created, and their impact on the world’s people.
From the beginning Benedict states his basic foundation, that “charity in truth is the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns.” It is:
a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action. I would like to consider two of these in particular, of special relevance to the commitment to development in an increasingly globalized society: justice and the common good.
And, he says, those principles are both in service and involvement in the political arena.
The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis. This is the institutional path -- we might also call it the political path -- of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the pólis.
He deals with profit, writing that while it is useful, once it “becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.” The current economic crisis, he writes,
obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment. ... The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.
He discusses globalization, which has “led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers,” and cites how
budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers' associations. Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions.
The crisis of world hunger and lack of clean water lead to an affirmation that:
The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.
He writes about the “pernicious effects of sin” in a market where there is a “speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit” that does not make “a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development.” Financiers, he says,
must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers.
The encyclical also addresses the rise of global inequality, the threats to the environment – “we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it” – and the need for new solutions to the world’s energy needs. “The fact that some States, power groups, and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries,” Benedict writes.
The international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of non-renewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future.
Perhaps the most provocative and controversial suggestion is his call for a reform of the United Nations that would produce a “true world political authority” and would give “poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making.” Such a world body would “need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power” to “ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties.” That power, he suggests, could include the ability
[t]o manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration...
Near the end of the encyclical, he underlines his basic premise:
While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human.
Caritas in Veritate is well worth our careful and thoughtful study. Its richness and depth will add new insights to Catholic social teaching. The entire text is available here.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry the stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind..
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular Basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked.... And NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name?.... .. .
We just call him 'TV.'
He has a wife now....We call her 'Computer.'
Friday, March 27, 2009
A study found the number of people with the name Cock shrank to 785 last year from 3,211 in 1881, those called Balls fell to 1,299 from 2,904 and the number of Deaths were reduced to 605 from 1,133.
People named Smellie decreased by 70 per cent, Dafts by 51 per cent, Gotobeds by 42 per cent, Shufflebottoms by 40 per cent, and Cockshotts by 34 per cent, said Richard Webber, visiting professor of geography at King's College in London.
"If you find the [absolute] number goes down, it's either because they changed their names or they emigrated," Professor Webber, author of the study, said.
He said that in many cases, people probably changed their surnames as they came to be regarded as in bad taste.
"It's because the meaning of words can change. Take the name Daft - that as a term for a stupid is a relatively recent innovation."
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Daft meant "mild" or "meek" in Old English, whereas it means "foolish" today.
"That's why there are names which people think aren't really very pleasant names and you wonder why they persisted as long as they did."
Professor Webber, whose work can be seen on the website mapyourname.com, got his data for 2008 from credit card firm Experian and mapping service Geowise. He then compared it with the census of 1881.
Webber also discovered that the most popular names in Britain have not changed over the past 127 years.
Last year, Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Taylor and Davies held the top five spots, in exactly the same order as they did a century ago.
Professor Webber also found that between 1996 and 2008, the names Zhang, Wang, and Yang and experienced the fastest growth. Zhang rose by 4,719 per cent, while Wang grew by 2,225 per cent.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to "affirming life's spiritual dimension", has been won by French physicist Bernard d'Espagnat, who has worked on quantum physics with some of the most famous names in modern science.
Quantum physics is a hugely successful theory: the predictions it makes about the behaviour of subatomic particles are extraordinarily accurate. And yet, it raises profound puzzles about reality that remain as yet to be understood.
WHAT IS QUANTUM PHYSICS?
Originated in work conducted by Max Planck and Albert Einstein at start of 20th Century.
They discovered that light comes in discrete packets, or quanta, which we call photons.
The Heisenberg Uncertainty principle says certain features of subatomic particles like momentum and position cannot be known precisely at the same time.
Gaps remain, like attempts to find the 'God Particle' that scientists hope to spot in the Large Hadron Collider. It is required to give other particles mass.
The bizarre nature of quantum physics has attracted some speculations that are wacky but the theory suggests to some serious scientists that reality, at its most basic, is perfectly compatible with what might be called a spiritual view of things.
Some suggest that observers play a key part in determining the nature of things. Legendary physicist John Wheeler said the cosmos "has not really happened, it is not a phenomenon, until it has been observed to happen."
D'Espagnat worked with Wheeler, though he himself reckons quantum theory suggests something different. For him, quantum physics shows us that reality is ultimately "veiled" from us.
The equations and predictions of the science, super-accurate though they are, offer us only a glimpse behind that veil. Moreover, that hidden reality is, in some sense, divine. Along with some philosophers, he has called it "Being".
In an effort to seek the answers to the "meaning of physics", I spoke to five leading scientists.
1. THE ATHEIST
Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg is well-known as an atheist. For him, physics reflects the "chilling impersonality" of the universe.
He would be thinking here of, say, the vast tracts of empty space, billions of light years across, that mock human meaning.He says: "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless."
So for Weinberg, the notion that there might be an overlap between science and spirituality is entirely mistaken.
2. THE SCEPTIC
The Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, shows a distinct reserve when speculating about what physics might mean, whether that be pointlessness or meaningfulness.
He has "no strong opinions" on the interpretation of quantum theory: only time will tell whether the theory becomes better understood.
"The implications of cosmology for these realms of thought may be profound, but diffidence prevents me from venturing into them," he has written.
In short, it is good to be humble in the face of the mysteries that physics throws up.
3. THE PLATONIST
Oxford physicist Roger Penrose differs again. He believes that mathematics suggests there is a world beyond the immediate, material one.
Can science explain all of life's meaning?
Ask yourself this question: would one plus one equal two even if I didn't think it? The answer is yes.
Would it equal two even if no-one thought it? Again, presumably, yes.
Would it equal two even if the universe didn't exist? That is more tricky to contemplate, but again, there are good grounds for a positive response.
Penrose, therefore, argues that there is what can be called a Platonic world beyond the material world that "contains" mathematics and other abstractions.
4. THE BELIEVER
John Polkinghorne worked on quantum physics in the first part of his career, but then took up a different line of work: he was ordained an Anglican priest. For him, science and religion are entirely compatible.
The ordered universe science reveals is only what you'd expect if it was made by an orderly God. However, the two disciplines are different. He calls them "intellectual cousins".
"Physics is showing the world to be both more supple and subtle, but you need to be careful," he says.
If you want to understand the meaning of things you have to go beyond science, and the religious direction is, he argues, the best.
5. THE PANTHEIST
Brian Swimme is a cosmologist, and with the theologian Thomas Berry, wrote a book called The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era.
It is avidly read by individuals in New Age and ecological circles, and tells the scientific story of the universe, from the Big Bang to the emergence of human consciousness, but does so as a new sacred myth.
Swimme believes that "the universe is attempting to be felt", which makes him a pantheist, someone who believes the cosmos in its entirety can be called God.
Mark Vernon is author of After Atheism: Science, Religion and the Meaning of Life. source:BBC
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
1. Anesthesia (1844)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Recreational drug use
Lesson Learned: Too much of a good thing can sometimes be, well, a good thing
Nitrous oxide was discovered in 1772, but for decades the gas was considered no more than a party toy. People knew that inhaling a little of it would make you laugh (hence the name “laughing gas”), and that inhaling a little more of it would knock you unconscious. But for some reason, it hadn’t occurred to anyone that such a property might be useful in, say, surgical operations.
Finally, in 1844, a dentist in Hartford, Conn., named Horace Wells came upon the idea after witnessing a nitrous mishap at a party. High on the gas, a friend of Wells fell and suffered a deep gash in his leg, but he didn’t feel a thing. In fact, he didn’t know he’d been seriously injured until someone pointed out the blood pooling at his feet.
To test his theory, Wells arranged an experiment with himself as the guinea pig. He knocked himself out by inhaling a large does of nitrous oxide, and then had a dentist extract a rotten tooth from his mouth. When Wells came to, his tooth had been pulled painlessly.
To share his discovery with the scientific world, he arranged to perform a similar demonstration with a willing patient in the amphitheatre of the Massachusetts General Hospital. But things didn’t exactly go as planned. Not yet knowing enough about the time it took for the gas to kick in, Wells pulled out the man’s tooth a little prematurely, and the patient screamed in pain. Wells was disgraced and soon left the profession. Later, after being jailed while high on chloroform, he committed suicide. It wasn’t until 1864 that the American Dental Association formally recognized him for his discovery.
2. Iodine (1811)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Industrial accident
Lesson Learned: Seaweed is worth its weight in salt
In the early 19th century, Bernard Courtois was the toast of Paris. He had a factory that produced saltpeter (potassium nitrate), which was a key ingredient in ammunition, and thus a hot commodity in Napoleon’s France. On top of that, Courtois had figured out how to fatten his profits and get his saltpeter potassium for next to nothing. He simply took it straight from the seaweed that washed up daily on the shores. All he had to do was collect it, burn it, and extract the potassium from the ashes.
One day, while his workers were cleaning the tanks used for extracting potassium, they accidentally used a stronger acid than usual. Before they could say “sacre bleu!,” mysterious clouds billowed from the tank. When the smoke cleared, Courtois noticed dark crystals on all the surfaces that had come into contact with the fumes. When he had them analyzed, they turned out to be a previously unknown element, which he named iodine, after the Greek word for “violet.” Iodine, plentiful in saltwater, is concentrated in seaweed. It was soon discovered that goiters, enlargements of the thyroid gland, were caused by a lack of iodine in the diet. So, in addition to its other uses, iodine is now routinely added to table salt.
3. Penicillin (1928)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Living like a pig
Lesson Learned: It helps to gripe to your friends about your job
Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming had a, shall we say, relaxed attitude toward a clean working environment. His desk was often littered with small glass dishes—a fact that is fairly alarming considering that they were filled with bacteria cultures scraped from boils, abscesses and infections. Fleming allowed the cultures to sit around for weeks, hoping something interesting would turn up, or perhaps that someone else would clear them away.
Finally one day, Fleming decided to clean the bacteria-filled dishes and dumped them into a tub of disinfectant. His discovery was about to be washed away when a friend happened to drop by the lab to chat with the scientist. During their discussion, Fleming griped good-naturedly about all the work he had to do and dramatized the point by grabbing the top dish in the tub, which was (fortunately) still above the surface of the water and cleaning agent. As he did, Fleming suddenly noticed a dab of fungus on one side of the dish, which had killed the bacteria nearby. The fungus turned out to be a rare strain of penicillium that had drifted onto the dish from an open window.
Fleming began testing the fungus and found that it killed deadly bacteria, yet was harmless to human tissue. However, Fleming was unable to produce it in any significant quantity and didn’t believe it would be effective in treating disease. Consequently, he downplayed its potential in a paper he presented to the scientific community. Penicillin might have ended there as little more than a medical footnote, but luckily, a decade later, another team of scientists followed up on Fleming’s lead. Using more sophisticated techniques, they were able to successfully produce one of the most life-saving drugs in modern medicine.
4. The Telephone (1876)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Poor foreign language skills
Lesson Learned: A little German is better than none
In the 1870s, engineers were working to find a way to send multiple messages over one telegraph wire at the same time. Intrigued by the challenge, Alexander Graham Bell began experimenting with possible solutions. After reading a book by Hermann Von Helmholtz, Bell got the idea to send sounds simultaneously over a wire instead. But as it turns out, Bell’s German was a little rusty, and the author had mentioned nothing about the transmission of sound via wire. Too late for Bell though; the inspiration was there, and he had already set out to do it.
The task proved much more difficult than Bell had imagined. He and his mechanic, Thomas Watson, struggled to build a device that could transmit sound. They finally succeeded, however, and came up with the telephone.
5. Photography (1835)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Not doing the dishes
Lesson Learned: Put off today what you can do tomorrow
Between 1829 and 1835, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was close to becoming the first person to develop a practical process for producing photographs. But he wasn’t home yet.
Daguerre had figured out how to expose an image onto highly polished plates covered with silver iodide, a substance known to be sensitive to light. However, the images he was producing on these polished plates were barely visible, and he didn’t know how to make them darker.
After producing yet another disappointing image one day, Daguerre tossed the silverized plate in his chemical cabinet, intending to clean it off later. But when he went back a few days later, the image had darkened to the point where it was perfectly visible. Daguerre realized that one of the chemicals in the cabinet had somehow reacted with the silver iodide, but he had no way of know which one it was … and there were a whole lot of chemicals in that cabinet.
For weeks, Daguerre took one chemical out of the cabinet every day and put it in a newly exposed plate. But every day, he found a less-than-satisfactory image. Finally, as he was testing the very last chemical, he got the idea to put the plate in the now-empty cabinet, as he had done the first time. Sure enough, the image on the plate darkened. Daguerre carefully examined the shelves of the cabinet and found what he was looking for. Weeks earlier, a thermometer in the cabinet had broken, and Daguerre (being the slob that he was) didn’t clean up the mess very well, leaving a few drops of mercury on the shelf. Turns out, it was the mercury vapor interacting with the silver iodide that produced the darker image. Daguerre incorporated mercury vapor into his process, and the Daguerreotype photograph was born.
6. Mauve Dye (1856)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Delusions of grandeur
Lesson Learned: Real men wear mauve
In 1856, an 18-year-old British chemistry student named William Perkin attempted to develop a synthetic version of quinine, the drug commonly used to treat malaria. It was a noble cause, but the problem was, he had no idea what he was doing.
Perkin started by mixing aniline (a colorless, oily liquid derived from coal-tar, a waste product of the steel industry) with propylene gas and potassium dichromate. It’s a wonder he didn’t blow himself to bits, but the result was just a disappointing black mass stuck to the bottom of his flask. As Perkin started to wash out the container, he noticed that the black substance turned the water purple, and after playing with it some more, he discovered that the purple liquid could be used to dye cloth.
With financial backing from his wealthy father, Perkin began a dye-making business, and his synthetic mauve colorant soon became popular. Up until the time of Perkin’s discovery, natural purple dye had to be extracted from Mediterranean mollusks, making it extremely expensive. Perkin’s cheap coloring not only jumpstarted the synthetic dye industry (and gave birth to the colors used in J.Crew catalogs), it also sparked the growth of the entire field of organic chemistry.
7. Nylon (1934)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Workplace procrastination
Lesson Learned: When the cat’s away, the mice should play
In 1934, researchers at DuPont were charged with developing synthetic silk. But after months of hard work, they still hadn’t found what they were looking for, and the head of the project, Wallace Hume Carothers, was considering calling it quits. The closest they had come was creating a liquid polymer that seemed chemically similar to silk, but in its liquid form wasn’t very useful. Deterred, the researchers began testing other, seemingly more promising substances called polyesters.
One day, a young (and apparently bored) scientist in the group noticed that if he gathered a small glob of polyester on a glass stirring rod, he could use it to pull thin strands of the material from the beaker. And for some reason (prolonged exposure to polyester fumes, perhaps?) he found this hilarious. So on a day when boss-man Carothers was out of the lab, the young researcher and his co-workers started horsing around and decided to have a competition to see who could draw the longest threads from the beaker. As they raced down the hallway with the stirring rods, it dawned on them: By stretching the substance into strands, they were actually re-orienting the molecules and making the liquid material solid.
Ultimately, they determined that the polyesters they were playing with couldn’t be used in textiles, like DuPont wanted, so they turned to their previously unsuccessful silk-like polymer. Unlike the polyester, it could be drawn into solid strands that were strong enough to be woven. This was the first completely synthetic fiber, and they named the material Nylon.
8. Vulcanized Rubber (1844)
Mistake Leading to Discovery: Obsession combined with butterfingers
Lesson Learned: A little clumsiness can go a long way
In the early 19th century, natural rubber was relatively useless. It melted in hot weather and became brittle in the cold. Plenty of people had tried to “cure” rubber so it would be impervious to temperature changes, but no one had succeeded … that is, until Charles Goodyear stepped in (or so he claims). According to his own version of the tale, the struggling businessman became obsessed with solving the riddle of rubber, and began mixing rubber with sulfur over a stove. One day, he accidentally spilled some of the mixture onto the hot surface, and when it charred like a piece of leather instead of melting, he knew he was onto something.
The truth, according to well-documented sources, is somewhat different. Apparently, Goodyear learned the secret of combining rubber and sulfur from another early experimenter. And it was one of his partners who accidentally dropped a piece of fabric impregnated with the rubber and sulfur mixture onto a hot stove. But it was Goodyear who recognized the significance of what happened, and he spent months trying to find the perfect combination of rubber, sulfur and high heat. (Goodyear also took credit for coining the term “vulcanization” for the process, but the word was actually first used by an English competitor.) Goodyear received a patent for the process in 1844, but spent the rest of his life defending his right to the discovery. Consequently, he never grew rich and, in fact, wound up in debtors prison more than once. Ironically, rubber became a hugely profitable industry years later, with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. at the forefront.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
The pressures on business executives are immense and worthy of recognition and reward. But have we created extra (counter-productive) pressure by rewarding at the levels which have been evident in recent years? And is that part of the price we are now paying in the global economy?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The scorched landscape stands as a metaphor for the grief that crept its way into their hearts in the days following the fires as they awaited some news. Its black and life-deprived visage now reflects the despair and devastation of the heart: what good can be found in the wake of such events? Could we ever find joy and hope again?
As they walked the property and sifted the charred remains, they stumbled across two unexpected finds. In the otherwise blackened yard, fresh green leaves from a rhubarb plant had already sprouted - the first signs of new life already evident, fresh green against the black merely a week after the flames had passed. And, embedded in the walls of the kitchen, intact pieces of their sister’s art work: tiles she had painted and which were previously sealed by fire. They remained as a testament to a life lived: one reminder that her presence in life has not been obliterated.
Such is the shape of grief: an encompassing blackness where it is impossible to imagine any beauty, where all seems lost; broken by discoveries of a life that has left its continuing mark, and which springs forth with new prospects. The discovery that joy does return, that hope still springs forth, even in the midst of loss, is a story slowly emerging across households and communities throughout the state.
The prophet Hosea reminds us that God gives new hope - often born in the midst of trouble, not in spite of it: that beauty can emerge from devastation, not in spite of it. It is the gift of God which embraces the pain, while opening the future once again.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
No Western government whose citizens have experienced this asset bubble will be able to escape its unwinding in this downturn. Long-term relationships are evidence of a deep-seated connection between the price of assets and absolute wealth. This bubble was created by profligate use of debt, which has ultimately been its undoing, and cannot be left behind until the debt has worked its way out of the system, either by repayment (unlikely in many cases) or in declared losses by corporations carrying the debt. No economic stimulus package can escape this reality.
So what are governments to do?
In the best interests of the country, the governments should invest in the next generation of infrastructure. In Australia, the targets are obvious: solar technology, public transport infrastructure, education, and communications are clearly areas of underinvestment which would benefit from government investment, which would not only provide employment in the present, but would also lay out a foundation for a more environmentally friendly and efficient future. We don’t need further tax cuts to be spent on plasma and LCD TVs. We need to move our economy away from dependence upon coal, iron ore exports and uranium to prop up (I use the term loosely) our current account. Let’s get ahead of the game. The country’s budgetary position is better placed than most to auspice such development at the moment.
The next two to three years will be difficult as the economy absorbs the realities being unwound. Now is the time to shift the paradigm. Now is the time to recognise opportunities. While companies are dealing with a shifting economy, let them factor in a serious carbon trading scheme, and let households be encouraged to invest in solar technology and water capture and recycling.
We dare not prop up industries and companies which we would be better off without in the long-term. Our task is not to maintain what is, but to facilitate what will be.
I fear, however, that our governments will squander the opportunity, to the detriment of us all.
Friday, January 23, 2009
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.
Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.
We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.
He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.
Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.
And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.
JANUARY 20, 2009
Praise song for the day.
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching
each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is
noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our
ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole
in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons
on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or
declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then
others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's
something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we
cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the
dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering
edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every
hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial,
national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking
forward in that light.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see
exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to
you. It all exists for your glory.
History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord
is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful
one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power
for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the
inauguration of our first African American president of the United
States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled
possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the
highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a
great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with
humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead
us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President
Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race,
or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for
all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we
forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our
prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow
human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve,
forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new
birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in
our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all
people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more
healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we
never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand
accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife,
Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua,
Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily
bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Thursday, January 22, 2009
January 21, 2009
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our healthcare is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise healthcare's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
source: Los Angeles Times