Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership—either of entering into or continuing in fellowship of a denomination or a local church.... Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Christ.

- Dallas Willard
The Spirit of the Disciplines

Friday, January 25, 2008

The ultimate challenge of Jesus' ministry was to go to the city, the city of Jerusalem. This city, which was the center of education, religion, and politics, was also the place where corruption and crimes abounded. Yet, Jesus went there anyway. Following Jesus to the city was a risky business. Many would-be followers dropped out when they saw this ultimate danger. What will it require of us to move to the city? I ask this question whenever I find myself wanting to settle down in the comfort of material well-being. God may not ask us to physically move to the city, but God does require that we reach out to hurting people with the gospel, wherever they might be.

- Kyungsig Samuel Lee
Korean Family Devotions

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Greed, I say, is a great flood; it is a whirlpool sucking one down, a constant yearning, seeking a hold, continually in movement; difficult to cross is the morass of sensual desire. A sage does not deviate from truth, a brahmana stands on firm ground; renouncing all, he is truly called 'calmed.'

-Sutta Nipata

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strange, this love announced by our Lord turns all of life right. To love others is to fill our own empty spaces.
- Thomas A. Becket

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It is only by the constant cultivation of wisdom and compassion that we can really become the guardians and inheritors of happiness.
~ Matthieu Ricard

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Experience v. Judgment

This is the dichotomy presented on the Democratic side between the front-runners Clinton and Obama. Clinton presents herself as "experience" and Obama as judgment.

Well, the Pilgrim chooses judgment.

Two thoughts on this matter.

First, what good is experience if it is not a guide to good decision making? Clinton voted for the war in Iraq, demonstrating that her experience, whatever it is, did not help keep her from throwing her support behind a self-destructive foreign policy. Rumsfeld and Cheney are supremely experienced, and yet they are the architechts of the Iraq invasion, and Clinton fell right in line. Even now she won't admit to her failure- meaning she hasn't even learned from this most recent experience.

Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. He made that clear. His judgment was superior to Clinton's.

Secondly, just what is her experience? Yes, she's served a full Senate term, and he only a part of a term, but that doesn't seem to be what she refers to in her use of the word "experienced." She seems to be referring to her time in the White House with her discussions of foreign heads of state she's met and her being "battle tested" by previous campaigns. Let's remember, when in the White House she was First Lady- not a decision maker. She's obviously an intelligent woman and capable politician, and she clearly advised her husband (not to great success when it came to her healtcare proposal, however). But she was not a policy maker. Her 8 years in the White House were largely ceremonial. She met many people, but did not have an accountable policy making role- she simply delivered messages she was supposed to deliver for the President. Just how important is this experience? Not very when it comes to policy issues, but perhaps very important when it comes to political calculations. Is that what we want- another political calculator as President?

In the end, for all her experience, she gave this nation no better than what Cheney and Rumsfeld fed her.

Clinton's vote for the war in Iraq and her unwillingness to admit her error should be a fatal flaw in the eyes of voters. It may not be, but it should be.

It is for the Pilgrim.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Will Obama win Iowa?

Maybe, Mrs. Clinton, a black man can win.

New Iowa Poll: Obama widens lead over Clinton

Obama was the choice of 32 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, up from 28 percent in the Register's last poll in late November, while Clinton, a New York senator, held steady at 25 percent and Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was virtually unchanged at 24 percent.

Far from a lock. But, the trend towards the end is key. Voters have to decide and stick w/ a decision. They begin to do that in the final days. So, the 32% may not change much.

That said: (1) margin of error is going to be around 5%; (2) 6% are undecided; (3) voters' second choice is very important because voters can shift to their second choice if their first choice gets insufficient support in their caucus (I believe the number is 15%).

Remember the Howard Dean collapse 4 years ago? The collapse of expectations can be hard to recover from. If Clinton were to follow up an Iowa loss with a New Hampshire loss (not unlikely given that Obama is w/in 4% in New Hampshire), her campaign could be over. She would then have to adopt a 'southern strategy' that would play, however gently, the race card and hope she could build up delegates there. Not a strategy that endears one to the Democratic electorate.

Remember a couple of months back when Guiliani and Clinton seemed inevitable?

Clinton Campaing nastiness

First, a campaign official has to resign for offering the proposition that Obama sold cocain as a youth. Now, another raises the spector of race in a sly, sinister way:

In Cherokee, one Clinton precinct captain who asked that her name not be used questioned his prospects: “We’ve got to keep an eye on electability,” she said. “Is America ready for a black president?” (source: Politico)

Who did it?

Did US ally Musharraf put the hit out on Bhutto? Did his buddies in the Pakistan military act independently on his behalf in what they thought was his interest?

India's counterintelligence points the finger at the Pakistan military.

Hard to evaluate this report. The Indian intelligence community is not particularly objective when it comes to the Pakistani military. That said, who has better sources and intelligence capabilities than the Indians?

Just seems to me that the rush to pin this on the radical Islamists is not very helpful. And the Pakistani government seems just a little to happy to encourage that rush- not the least example of which would be the police using hoses to wash down the scene of the crime w/in relative minutes of the assassination, washing away any evidence that may have remained.

Imagine a major assassination in the US where days pass and there are no suspects. No hard evidence disclosed- only vague, although logical, speculations. Further, the cause of death can't even be agreed upon.

It seems to me that, at the very least, the government of Pakistan doesn't want to know who did it out of fear that it may in fact have been one of their own.

It's been relatively quiet of late, but...

2007 was deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq

The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.