Thursday, May 29, 2008

family time

before i started my apparent second career as a blogging political pundit, i wrote about the life and times of our family... :-)

the big news around these parts continues to be the visit of family members (all from m's side).
  • m's mom came and stayed for each of the last two weekends, managing to survive visits with both sets of granddaughters simultaneously and even squeezing in a 'treat' afternoon at the movies ( indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull, followed by dinner at local favorite chipotle). she is talking retirement after one last hurrah teaching summer school. i love her, but i'll believe the retirement business when i see it! she's also hoping to remodel her home.
  • m's sister (the storied aunt l, faithful blogger over at the pratzman crew) and her daughters will be staying with us until after b's graduation in mid-june. they've been getting in a little sightseeing (the children's museum in seattle today), but mostly just hanging out and getting some time with aunt m, uncle b, and big cousins b and n. hard to believe that l and s will grow up to be so big one day... in the meantime, we enjoy them in their miniature form! uncle p will be joining us on june 4 -- just in time for m, n, and l to fly out to l.a. for cousin t's eighth grade graduation.
we'll try to get some photos up soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

from bad to worse

well, the ink on the previous blog post hadn't even dried before senator clinton outdid herself. on the campaign trail, in answer to an interviewer's question, she basically said that she was staying in the race because, among other reasons... senator obama could be assassinated.

i should be clear. i don't believe that this was a public threat on hillary clinton's part, and i just can't imagine that she would wish anything like that on barack obama. but given the historic nature of obama's candidacy and the generally unspoken but very real fear that such a thing could actually happen, it was shocking to hear her make these remarks. the comments were foolish at the very least, and depending on how you interpret the clintons' history, even ominous.

later in the day, she did make an apology for the remarks -- to the kennedy family! no mention of the reference to assassination or how that might be problematic for obama.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

can she be serious?

hillary clinton has, as they say, jumped the shark.

i realize that a good politician has a certain amount of flexibility and the ability to frame issues in a way that achieve a desired result. and from what i can tell, clinton is a pretty good politician (as are obama and mccain). up to a point, that is a compliment.

of course, i objected to a number of things senator clinton and her surrogates said during the campaign, and i'm not talking about the obvious policy differences i would have with her. in particular, i found the ways that she's tried to move the goal posts and generally change the rules of the democratic primary process, which she agreed to when she was the front-runner, to be disingenuous at best. where were her objections and her influence when these democratic party rules (not the law of the land) were being decided? why did she ever approve of the disenfranchisement voters in michigan and florida (if that's how she wants to characterize it) in the first place? unfortunately, that's the kind of thing that candidates do all the time, and clinton's rivals have been no exception to that trend.

but for clinton to compare her effort to seat the democratic delegates from florida and michigan to the historic fights against racial discrimination at the ballot box and the right of women to vote... and then to compare the democratic primary process to the fraudulent elections in zimbabwe is beyond the pale. it is self-serving and trivializes the real injustices suffered and sacrifices made by men and women who gave their lives to change the world.

at some point, the characterization of her public statements on the nomination process moves from disingenuous to despicable. are we there yet?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

what's going on

the news of the past week:

n has decided to return to her high school for the next year. she had been considering leaving for bellevue community college via the running start program. it's been a tough year at kentridge high and for a while, it looked like she could go either way. in an encouraging bit of news, n reports that she believes that God is leading her to return to kr, and that he will make things better. to which i respond, amen!

b is playing out the string at bcc and making preparations for heading to columbia in the late summer. tomorrow night, she'll be going to a kent rotary-sponsored dinner to honor the top 25 students at kr -- slightly ironic, since b has never actually taken a class there (she's formally enrolled there, but takes all of her courses at bcc).

m has been playing host to many family visitors -- her mother, her sister l and nieces l and s. it's fun (and slightly exhausting) to have the pitter-patter of little feet around the house again! the visit is the harbinger of things to come, as all of those folks, plus twice as many again will be in town for b's graduation in mid-june. m is also extraordinarily busy with church activities, as she heads up the ministries to children and youth, as well as the prayer ministry. she still makes time to have a date with me every week, usually on thursdays.

the bridge had a big open house day this past sunday, playing host to our mother church, lighthouse christian church. what a joy it was to worship together yesterday and to share some of what God has been doing in our midst. as i tried to explain during the service, we are definitely a work in progress and have a number of significant challenges to tackle -- notably, workload distribution (too few people doing too many things) and overall church programming/structure (that's the too many things piece). i honestly don't think we do that many things yet; we're pretty basic as far as programming. but we have to find ways to allow more people to have a share in the work, and perhaps ways to streamline the structure even more so that we are not trying to do more than is wise, given our limited numbers. in a happy bit of news, our church office is now painted and should be carpeted sometime this week. i hope to make my transition from the lighthouse office, as soon as we get the office furnished and equipped.

in the midst of these many challenges, i have been up and down -- alternately encouraged by all God is doing and overwhelmed by things are are left undone or worse yet, that i'm not doing as well as i think i should. it certainly presses all of my personal issue buttons! among the other things that i'm figuring out is that i need to be clearer about my vision for the church and to articulate it more assertively; i believe this will free up people to embrace what God is doing among us and to work hard for him. i've tended to be too restrained (passive?) and collaborative at times, and it's led to some confusion. hopefully, we can get some things on a more solid footing in the next weeks. your prayers are appreciated!

Monday, May 12, 2008

the faith walk

for those of you who've been following and praying for b's college financing situation, it looks like we're entering the endgame. columbia has revised their financial aid package to bring it within reach. the new number for the parent contribution for the first year is not quite $11,000 (down from about $33,000 in the initial offer!) -- not a free ride, but not worse than if she'd stayed in-state. that's been my marker for affordability, since we expected her to go to university some day, and anticipated that we'd be paying something.

so now the question is how to finance that parent contribution. but we anticipate that there will be options there, and i'm not even sure that God is done pulling financial rabbits out of his various hats. there have been so many twists and turns along this journey; it's hard to predict what he might do next! but one thing that does seem certain is that God is in this process and has been from the beginning.

someone asked me this week if walking by faith ever gets easier, if we ever get more accomplished at it. i told them 'yes' and 'no.' yes, there's no question that followers of Jesus should be growing in faith, and finding that the faith challenges of a previous season of life seem more natural and less... challenging. but no, because God always seems to be raising the bar on the things for which he calls us to trust him. if my own spiritual journey is any indicator, it seems that just when we start to get comfortable with a certain level of faith trial, he pulls out something new and says, "trust me for that..." and we have to decide all over again whether we believe -- not only that God exists, but that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (hebrews 11:6).

not surprisingly, b is thrilled, and she is excitedly beginning to settle her plans for moving to new york city late this summer. and i am grateful, humbled, and excited about what God is going to do next!

for we walk by faith, not by sight
2 corinthians 5:7

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


it's been a lousy year for me as a fan in the post-season.

first, stanford went down hard in the ncaa basketball tournament. i guess i shouldn't complain, since they went as far as their seeding predicted, but i was hoping for a better outcome. but i didn't despair.

the golden state warriors, poster team of the 2007 nba playoffs, were enjoying their best regular season in years. they were on pace to win 50 games, which would position them for another run into the post-season tourney. unfortunately, they played in the nba's ridiculously competitive western conference, and with their best players running out of gas at the end of the year, they fell short of the 50-win mark -- and the playoffs.

thankfully, the montreal canadiens were charging into the stanley cup playoffs as a #1 seed, with dynamic rookie carey price tending the goal. i'm really more of a wannabe hockey fan, but having lived in montreal, there's no way not to be a habs fan. they breezed through the first round of the playoffs, stole an ot victory in the first game of the second round -- and then everything unraveled. four straight losses later, it was over. in game five, they were actually up by two goals in the second period, and still gave it away. they just didn't play like a top seed.

on deck: the seattle mariners. and the early returns are already bleak. with about 1/5 of the season completed, they're already in third place. it's a long season, but if they continue on their current pace, they'll be 32 games out by the end of the year. yikes!

somewhere, the remaining presidential candidates are secretly hoping that i'm not rooting for them...

Monday, May 05, 2008

this is the way our world ends?

over the last few years, i've gained a strange mix of respect and revulsion for patrick j. buchanan (former senior adviser to three u.s. presidents, currently an author and political commentator on msnbc). as a libertarian with some older-style conservative sympathies, i have appreciated his desire for a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy and his sharp critique of george w. bush and his neo-conservative advisers. i've even become a regular reader (mostly via rss). at times, i find him surprisingly insightful and almost erudite; at other times, he seems narrow-minded and disturbingly xenophobic. his recent article "this is the way our world ends" illustrates why (find the article here).

he starts by quoting t.s. elliot's "the hollow men," setting the poem in its historical context and examining a couple of contrasting academic interpretations of it. this is not your average fare as far as contemporary political commentary goes, and it's refreshing to have an author trust the intelligence of his readers.

he then devolves into a lament about the demise of the "caucasian race" -- an interesting, if curious, demographic analysis. what is painful here is not that he thinks to analyze these trends (though some might object to that), but rather his near-identification of western civilization and the american way with white people. even the title of the article -- "this is the way our world ends" -- implies that it wasn't written with someone like me (or most of my extended family, for that matter) in mind. i especially found the following statement revealing: "sixty-two percent of americans told pew we should do more to protect our way of life." i might even be tempted to agree with that, but from what i infer from the rest of the article, asian, black, latino, and other non-white americans aren't part of the 'us' he's addressing.

do you consider that 'racist?' just to be completely clear, i don't believe that buchanan is a white supremacist or a bigot who hates non-white people. he might even say (truthfully, i'm guessing) that some of his best friends are not white. i doubt that he would excuse or try to justify violence by whites against non-whites.

but what else do you call someone who consistently argues for the hegemony of western culture, which he conflates with being white and american? he does it with a better-than-average grasp of history, great literature, and sociological realities, which i appreciate, but that he does it is both thought-provoking and disturbing to me. take a look at his "a brief for whitey" if you want more grist for the mill.

for an interesting contrast, read fareed zakaria's "the rise of the rest" in this week's newsweek magazine (you can read it here).