Saturday, November 10, 2007

United Methodist Bishops call for US/coalition withdrawal from Iraq.

from the Council of Bishops

On Friday, November 9, 2007, the Bishops of The United Methodist Church called for the United States and its coalition partners to begin an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

In addition to calling for the immediate safe and full withdrawal of troops and no additional deployment of troops to Iraq, their resolution urges the United States and its partners to:

  • Declare there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.
  • Increase support for military veterans of the Iraq war and all wars.
  • Initiate and support a plan for reconstruction in Iraq, giving a high priority to humanitarian, social and educational needs of the Iraqi people.

The resolution is directed to U.S. President George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress, and leaders of the coalition.

“Every day that the war continues, more soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed and carnage,” the bishops said in their resolution. They cited the deaths of more than 3,800 United States soldiers, 300 from other coalition countries, more than 28,000 wounded and the deaths of more than 76,000 Iraqi civilians.

The bishops made the call during their semi-annual meeting at a church retreat center in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains. The bishops represent more than 11 million United Methodists in the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. About 125 active and retired bishops from around the globe attended the meeting.

In calling for the immediate withdrawal, the bishops said their position is based on the denomination’s position that “war is incompatible with the teachings and examples of Christ,” and Jesus Christ’s call for “his followers to be peacemakers.”

This is the latest in a series of steps the denomination’s leaders have taken to question the Iraq war. During their November 2005 meeting, the bishops approved a resolution urging President Bush, who is United Methodist, to create timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The bishops called on United Methodists throughout the world to “be peacemakers by word and deed,” by conducting regular prayer vigils for congregations and communities; to care for all impacted by the war, including combatants and non-combatants by honoring the dead, healing the wounded, and calling for an end to the war.

The full text of the resolution

United Methodist Council of Bishops Resolution on the Iraq War

Whereas, the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, meeting Nov. 9 at Lake Junaluska, N.C., is committed to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world; and

Whereas, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, calls his followers to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9); and

Whereas, "We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ" (Book of Discipline 2004, Par. 165.C); and

Whereas, the cost of the war in Iraq as of Nov. 7, 2007 has been the lives of 3,843 members of the U.S. military, 171 members of the United Kingdom military, 132 members of the other Coalition military, 28,385 U.S. military wounded, and the lives of at least 76,241 Iraqi civilians; and

Whereas the war in Iraq has displaced 2 million persons and forced another 2 million persons into refugee status;

Whereas, every day the war continues more soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed and carnage;

Now, therefore, the Council of Bishops calls on the President and Congress of the United States and the leaders of all the nations in the Coalition Forces:

  • To begin immediately a safe and full withdrawal of all military personnel from Iraq, with no additional troops deployed;
  • To declare that there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq;
  • To increase support for veterans of the Iraq war and all wars;
  • To initiate and give strong support to a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq, with high priority given to the humanitarian and social needs of the Iraqi people, such as healthcare, education and housing;

Further the Council of Bishops calls United Methodist people throughout the world:

  • To pray for peace and to have regular prayer vigils for congregations and communities;
  • To care for all impacted by the war, including combatants and noncombatants by honoring the dead, healing the wounded and calling for the end of the war;
  • To be peacemakers by word and deed that we may be called the children of God.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Let God Sort ’em Out

Originally published in Metroland, Volume 29 - Number 26 - June 29, 2006

New video game could bring righteous bloodshed to a church near you

By Glenn Weiser

You’re a heavily armed 13-year-old boy patrolling the streets of Manhattan with a paramilitary group, ready to kill for Christ. Never mind that pesky commandment against murder—you’re exempt now. The Apocalypse has begun, and most of your fundamentalist brethren have been bodily whisked away to heaven in the Rapture to await the Second Coming, leaving behind on Earth only your militia, the Tribulation Forces, along with the civilians who haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, such as Jews, gays, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and mainline Protestants, and your foes, the Antichrist’s Global Peacekeeping Forces (read: the United Nations). Your mission is to convert unsaved souls to born-again Christianity. If they don’t get religion, blow ’em away as you cry “Praise The Lord.” Converts become your fellow Christian soldiers fighting for an American theocracy.

This, the blog Talk to Action asserted last month, is the gist of Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a forthcoming video game slated for release this October from the Murrieta, Calif.-based Left Behind Games. Although some questions remain this week about the accuracy of the blog’s description, Eternal Forces already has drawn sharp criticism.

The slickly produced, real-time strategy game is based on the best-selling Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, a fictional account of the Final Days derived from a fundamentalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation known as Dispensationalism. Created by Troy A. Lyndon and Jeffrey S. Frichner, the game will be marketed directly to evangelical congregations and advertised in secular gaming magazines. Violent video games are nothing new, but critics have branded Eternal Forces as an attempt to justify digital carnage with a veneer of religiosity. Even born-again Christians have objected.

Newsweek wrote about Left Behind: Eternal Forces in a brief March 6 article noting the game’s “top shelf design” and comparing its level of violence to that of Grand Theft Auto, but it wasn’t until May 1 that many details emerged. In a promotional interview published on the company’s Web site, Greg Bauman of Left Behind Games explained that the game is based on the first four of the 12 Left Behind novels and uses several of the books’ characters. The game comes with various options, he continued, including single- or multi-player modes for offline or online PCs respectively, levels of increasing difficulty, and the choice between fighting for Jesus or the Antichrist. As for the game’s depictions of killing, Bauman pointed out that the Bible narrates much violence, especially in the Old Testament.

On May 10, the Los Angeles Times covered Eternal Forces and gave a born-again critic his say. “We’re going to push this game at Christian kids to let them know there’s a cool shooter game out there,” the paper quoted attorney Jack Thompson, an author and opponent of violent video games. “Because of the Christian context, somehow it’s OK? It’s not OK. The context is irrelevant. It’s a mass-killing game.” And a mass-proselytizing one, too. Even though authors LaHaye and Jenkins are not directly involved with the project, they are, according to Greg Bauman, “supportive of this new means to reach people with the message in their books.” The Times also quoted Tim LaHaye, who said, “Our real goal is to have no one left behind.”

Later in May, a blogger, Jonathan Hutson, wrote about Eternal Forces on the left- leaning Talk to Action Web site,, stating that the game’s protagonists actively targeted groups such as Jews and gays. In describing scenes of “the bodies of New Yorkers piling up,” he also implied that civilians could become victims as well as opposing shooters. The Daily Kos (, recently credited by The New York Times as being the Net’s most influential progressive blog, quickly carried the story.

Hutson also discovered that Mark Carver, the executive director of megachurch pastor Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Ministries, was on the game company’s advisory board. He noted with concern that Warren, also author of the best-selling The Purpose Driven Life, is an adherent of Dominionism, an extremist belief that Old Testament law must be established worldwide in order for Christ to return. Imposing Mosaic law would, in theory, lead to mass executions by stoning of unrepentant gays, pagans, astrologers, and others, and also reinstate slavery. To achieve this, Warren, who also heads the 22,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and a global network of 40,000 fundamentalist congregations, has said he needs a billion foot soldiers. (Fortunately, he’s nowhere close.)

But Warren has also publicly opposed shooter games, and Hutson’s article made him look hypocritical by exposing Carver’s involvement with Eternal Forces. On June 1, Mark Kelly, the press director of Purpose Driven Ministries, issued an e-mail statement denying any connection between Rick Warren and the game, adding, “I think the game’s developers will discover that Christian pastors and parents find the idea of such a game to be in extremely bad taste.” That didn’t quell the controversy, though, and on June 5, Purpose Driven Ministries again disavowed any ties between Warren and the game, and announced that Carver had resigned from the advisory board of Left Behind Games.

Troy Lyndon also has been bruised by the brouhaha. On June 15, the Left Behind Web site posted a statement by him disputing the blogs’ characterization of the game, saying, “The player does NOT target Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, or any other group.” The Web site Game Spy said in its review of Eternal Forces, “Players aren’t competing to kill the enemy army—rather, they’re trying to save them, and each person killed represents a failure rather than a success.”

In a June 27 phone interview with Metroland, Jeffrey Frichner denied that neutral civilians such as gays and Jews could also be snuffed for not coming to Jesus: “The people who wrote that have never seen or played the game.” Under persistent questioning, Frichner finally claimed not to know “that level of detail.”

He added, “I don’t know why that’s such an issue. Can you enlighten me?”

Monday, October 29, 2007

John Bach obituary from the Albany (NY) Times Union, October 2007

Bach, John J. ALBANY John J. Bach, age 77, entered into eternal rest on October 25, 2007 at the Community Hospice Inn at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, surrounded by his family. Mr. Bach was born in Albany to the late Myron J. and Katherine B. (Flood) Bach. He was a graduate of St. Teresa of Avila Parish School, Christian Brothers Academy and Siena College, earning a bachelor of science in pre-medicine and a master of science in education administration. He pursued further studies at Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University and the University at Albany. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1952 to 1954. In 1955, Mr. Bach began his career as a teacher of biology, chemistry and mathematics, first at Hackett Junior High School and subsequently at the Albany High School, then located on North Lake Ave.; he became guidance counselor at the high school in 1962. In 1966, he was appointed assistant principal of Albany High School and, in 1967, he became the youngest principal in the high school's history. He played a central role in planning the academic and physical design of the present-day Albany High School and was dedicated to the excellence of this program that combined Philip Schuyler High School and the old Albany High School. Mr. Bach served in and loved the role of principal for nearly 20 years. In 1986, Mr. Bach was appointed deputy superintendent for the Albany City School District, and, three years later, he became superintendent of schools. He continued to lead the district until his retirement in 1994. In these roles, he was the impetus behind the creation of magnet school programs in the district and oversaw the establishment of the Albany School of Humanities, the Montessori Magnet School and the Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology. He was also particularly proud of bringing Chinese language instruction to the high school and introducing preschool programs in the district. Mr. Bach's efforts to support and advance education in the city of Albany extended well beyond his work in the public schools. He served as president of the Center for Family and Youth (Project STRIVE), chairman of the board of trustees of Christian Brothers Academy, on which he served for 20 years, member of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany School Board, and as a member of the boards of trustees of the Academy of the Holy Names, St. Anne Institute, and the Capital Region Center for Arts in Education. Mr. Bach served on the board of trustees of the Albany Public Library from 1987 until his death. As president of the library from 2002 to 2007, he led the institution through its transition to independence from the city of Albany's government and budget, and then through the planning of the most comprehensive expansion and renovation of the library's branch system in its long history. Mr. Bach was a communicant at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Albany for 36 years. He was a voracious reader with an insatiable desire for knowledge. He was an avid gardener throughout his life. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Adirondack lakes and rivers, especially the quiet coves of Lake George that he fished in the company of family members and his dear friend, Bill Weber. He was a lifelong student of history and architecture, especially those of New York City and his beloved Albany. Mr. Bach's family was the center of his life. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Mulderry, who loved him and laughed with him for 46 years; five children who adored him, Ellen M. Bach of Albany, John J. Bach Jr. of New York City, Amy Bach DiLello of Providence, R.I., Erin Mulderry Bach of Washington, D.C., and Kathryn A. Bach of New York City; his sons-in-law, Robert V. Kelley III and Nicholas A. DiLello Jr.; five grandsons, for whom he was storyteller, boat captain and faithful fan, Hugh Robert, Brendan John, and William Patrick Bach Kelley of Albany and Ryan Nicholas and Kieran John DiLello of Providence; brother, Myron J. Bach and his wife Mary Ellyn of Albany, sister, Mary Allen and her husband Stanley of Venice, Fla.; brother-in-law, William J. D. Mulderry of Albany; and sisters-in-law Anne M. Mulderry of Kinderhook, N.Y. and Kathleen M. Smith of East Greenwich, R.I. He was the much-loved "Uncle Jack" to 19 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister-in-law, Mary M. Smith, brother-in-law, Dennis C. Smith, and nephew, Stephen V. Mulderry. Relatives and friends are invited to call on Sunday from 4-8 p.m. at the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, 490 Delaware Ave., Albany. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Albany. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of John J. Bach to the Albany Public Library Foundation, 161 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210 or to the American Cancer Society, 260 Osborne Road, Loudonville 12211.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elizabeth Oliphant Naismith obit from the Albany (NY) Times Union, October 2007

Naismith, Elizabeth COLONIE Elizabeth Naismith died Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at the Albany County Nursing. Home. She was born January 1, 1924 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the daughter of James and Annie Naismith; also predeceased by her brother Robert. She worked in quality assurance in the dairy business and had her own Scottish book business. She was a member and deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Albany. Survived by sister-in-law, Cecelia; niece, Jacqueline; nephews, Harry and Peter; many great-nieces, nephews, cousins. Memorial service on Saturday, October 27 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Albany. Memorial contributions to the church or to FOCUS Breakfast program.

George F. Hasbrouck obit from the Binghamton (NY) Press, October 2007

George F. Hasbrouck, 55, passed away on October 7, 2007 at his home in Morristown, N.J. He is the son of the late George M. Hasbrouck and Cora G. Hasbrouck of Binghamton, New York. He is survived by two sisters and brothers-in-law, Barbara and Michael Murphy, and Ellen and Kenneth Weissman and a niece, Katharine Murphy, all of New York City. George was born in Elmira, N.Y. and moved to Binghamton as a child. He graduated from Binghamton Central High School and was a Cum Laude graduate of Middlebury College. He was retired from AT&T where he worked for many years. Much of his life centered around the community of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown. There he served as a Stephen Minister, providing end of life guidance and spiritual counseling. He was also a member of the vestry and sang in the parish choir. As a member of the St. Peter's Outreach Committee, he volunteered at the Morristown Soup Kitchen and other community organizations. He also loved the history and architecture of Morris County and served on the board of the Morristown Historical Preservation Committee.
A funeral will be held Friday, October 12, 2007, at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown. For those who wish, contributions can be made to St. Peter's Episcopal Church or the Morristown Community Soup Kitchen, 36 South Street, Morristown, N.J. 07960

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Four Metroland reviews of Dylan & Costello in Albany, printed October 11, 2007

Taking It All In

By David Greenberger

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

Besides having created towering bodies of work as musical artists, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello both understand the dynamics of show business. Though their public debuts were a decade and a half apart, they each found reason to jettison their given names in exchange for identities that would create a desired effect in the marketplace. The erstwhile misters Zimmerman and MacManus appeared on the same bill last Saturday at the Times Union Center (with Amos Lee in the unenviable position of having to play a short set of recently minted songs for an audience awaiting the confluence of memory and moment to goose them into a middle-aged high). Though they didn’t take the stage together at any point during the night, their adjacent sets allow for some thoughts on their similarities and differences.

Both men had powerful managers who succeeded in positioning them well from the outset, creating a base that allowed each of them to pursue their artistic inclinations, long after having parted ways (Dylan’s being Albert Grossman, Costello’s Jake Riviera). However, while generally faithful to their creative instincts, they each have made unsuccessful albums, failing because of their misguided attempts to either regain or enlarge their commercial standing. Dylan has had a handful of scattershot attempts (among them, Down in the Groove, Under the Red Sky, and Dylan and the Dead), while Costello needed to bottom out with Goodbye Cruel World before regaining his bearings. Other than a brief excursion over to David Geffen’s company in the ’70s, Dylan has spent the entirety of his career on Columbia Records, the same label on which Costello made his initial and largest splash (he left in 1986, after his 11th album).

Playing in an arena gave a certain regimentation to the night’s momentum. Costello’s 45-minute solo set was greeted with honest cheers that would have brought him back for an encore were it not for the lights coming up to quell the elation. His set included his earliest song (“Radio Sweetheart”) and a couple so new that they’ve not yet been released (“Down Among the Wines and Spirits” and “From Sulfur to Sugarcane,” co-written with T-Bone Burnett). This scribe’s favorite Costello number, “Blue Chair,” even made the list. Costello happily used the cavernous room’s acoustics, letting his voice linger on notes to bounce off the rafters. Though he was one man with a guitar, he presented himself not as a troubadour, but as a songwriter, inferring the songs’ larger arrangement possibilities and relishing the grooves. His outrage at the ongoing war in Iraq, as well as governmental failures at home, informed some of his choice of material as well as between-song anecdotes and observations. Songs such as “The River in Reverse” and “The Scarlet Tide” carry incredible power because he eschews sloganeering for poetic resonance or human-scaled narratives.

Dylan has done something that very few 60-plus artists achieve: He’s continued to replenish his audience with younger listeners. In his case this has been essential to the vitality of his ongoing tour, because it’s the audience members who are his own generational peers that grouse the most about the performances. Their complaints (“I didn’t recognize the song,” “His words were garbled,” etc.) simply describe their need for music to reassure, rather than challenge or surprise. Dylan has created songs so durable that they can disappear behind the engine of a great band. The songs become a means for six people to align themselves together in time and space and create an energy that would be different in any other configuration and in any other moment. Musical enrichment of that order is a rare commodity, and Dylan makes a case for it every time he takes the stage. No two nights are the same, and some are better than others, just like life itself. What we want from a Dylan concert is transcendence. It’s hard to pull that off in an arena, but he certainly hit his fall-back position: a great performance.

It’s a Wash

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

The following overheard ex change, between two college-age kids outside the bathroom at the Times Union Center, perfectly sums up my feelings on Saturday night’s Bob Dylan fiasco.

Kid No. 1: “I guess I expected his voice to not be all that great.”

Kid No. 2: “Dude, Dylan sucks.”

I’m not being irreverent just for irreverence’s sake; Dylan really does not have “it” anymore. Hasn’t in 20-some-odd years. Maybe it’s some character he’s playing (that might explain the weird pencil moustache), or maybe it’s just Dylan being Dylan—either way, it doesn’t click. I’m not looking for him to be the dust-bowl folkie of the early ’60s or even the Rolling Thunder minstrel boy of the mid-’70s, but just a glimmer of the Infidels-era fist-shaking would be nice. Instead, we’ve been fed the same semi-coherent freakshow for a quarter-century. We’re often told that we should appreciate what he is rather than what he was, that merely his appearance should warrant the utmost praise. That’s all bullshit: The only reason we’re still kissing Bob Dylan’s ass is because we’re afraid each record and/or live performance could be his last. (I’m looking at you, Rolling Stone—five-stars for Modern Times, my ass.)

Granted, after singing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” for more than four decades, pretty much anyone would seem less than enthusiastic about rolling it out on a nightly basis. But on Saturday, that was one of the few recognizable tunes, and only for its chord progression. The lion’s share of Dylan’s set found the old man pitching a sub-Tom Waits grumble at his most tuneful numbers: “Simple Twist of Fate,” for one, was completely unrecognizable until the turnaround at the very end of the verse. And the band, as strong as each player might have been, failed to generate any real heat—imagine if Letterman’s Late Show band decided to play only late-period Grateful Dead covers. Sounds good, sure, but the Dead still suck.

The get-up-and-go-home moment came during “Masters of War.” To paraphrase my companion that evening: If a song has eight verses, I’d better be able to understand every damn word. I sure as hell shouldn’t have to wonder “Is this ‘Highway 61’?” three minutes into a song. Maybe I just don’t dig the blues, but I’d rather listen to the Wallflowers. (Incidentally, opener Amos Lee did a pretty good Jakob Dylan impression.)

To provide contrast, or just because he could, Dylan asked Elvis Costello along on his current tour. Now here’s an example of growing old gracefully: At 53, Costello still displays the fiery passion of his early years, and his solo set showed that he’s not only his generation’s most versatile songwriter, but one of its best singers, too, evidenced by both his way-underutilized falsetto on “Either Side of the Same Town” and the triumphant closing fanfare of “Veronica.” He told stories, waxed political, quoted the Who and Lennon and Def Leppard, and fucked up the chords to “Oliver’s Army,” all with trademark showmanship and vigor.

Is it too late to trade in Dylan’s entire set for another 40 minutes of Elvis?


—John Brodeur

Hot and Bothered

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

“Don’t expect anything of Bob Dylan, he has done enough!” wrote an indignant fan in the comments section of a local newspaper’s Web site recently, defending the artist from a review that was a bit one-sided in its trashing of Dylan’s recent show at the Times Union Center. The fan’s comment was overly defensive, sure, but held a grain of truth: To seek enjoyment from Dylan’s present work, rather than from his Newport Folk Festival-flouting distant past, you have to let go of your expectations.

If you lionize the guy for his history as an artist who defies expectations and always follows his own path, than maybe you should accept certain things. Such as his right to show up onstage in a mariachi outfit, barking out lyrics in an even gruffer voice than usual, while leading a purple-suited band through nearly unrecognizable versions of classic songs like “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Personally, I’m OK with all that. From where I sat, the crowd was fairly indulgent too, for a time, cheering whenever Dylan got anywhere near a familiar musical phrase. (A friend of mine, seated in a different section of the arena, afterward relayed a story about a concertgoer who was so enthusiastic, yet so alarmingly oblivious, that she yelled out “That Dylan sure can sing!” during Elvis Costello’s opening set.)

Other facets of the show that bothered people, such as Dylan’s near-total lack of interaction with the audience, weren’t a deal-breaker for me. Positioned sideways to the stage in front of his keyboard for much of the time, he acknowledged the crowd only once, with a scant “Thank you” late in the set. Hell, he barely even looked up from his keyboard. That’s fine, I’m sure it wasn’t personal. And the song choices, heavy on more recent material, were OK too, as the mature wisdom and rollicking roadhouse vibe of his last three albums have their own charms.

But, that said, there was little actual enjoyment to be found during this show. The arena setting didn’t help. To relieve boredom, I kept trying to imagine the same show in a roadhouse somewhere, where you wander in off the highway and stumble upon Dylan and his crack band jamming out to this unheard version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Now that would be a surreal and mind-blowing experience. Instead, we were left to sweat in an unbearably hot arena, which had no air conditioning despite the unseasonably hot and humid weather, while the crowd grew increasingly squirrelly and restless, some walking out early.

And with no concessions made by Dylan and company to make the arena conditions more tolerable—such as screen monitors for those in the back to get a closer glimpse of the action—watching Dylan and his band jam out strictly to their own tune onstage, without feeding off or acknowledging the crowd at all, started to feel strangely like an off-putting, voyeuristic exercise. Nothing is more rousing these days than an acerbic antiwar song, and when you find yourself straining to hope that “Masters of War”—perhaps the best antiwar song ever written—will be more electrifying than it is, that’s not good.

—Kirsten Ferguson

I Was There

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

Bob Dylan has built a catalogue of lyrics that stand as rock music’s greatest contribution to literature, but his uncanniest achievement has always been his relentless self-invention (the forthcoming movie I’m Not There seems to be a long overdue meditation on this aspect of Dylanology). For the last 15 years or so, Dylan has become the grizzled bluesman he’s seemingly always wanted to be, the folkie in blue jeans just another legend lost to time. Ambling on stage, Stratocaster in hand, leading his fedora-topped gang of desperados into a jaunt through “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” Dylan seemed right at home, his fingers shaking out little blues licks to join the bent notes of steel guitarist Donnie Herron and lead player Denny Freeman. Dylan stayed out front for a textbook rendition of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and a jammy “Watching the River Flow” before retreating to his electric keyboard for the remainder of the concert.

One of conventional wisdom’s biggest falsehoods is that Dylan could never sing—I direct the jury to the New Morning and Street Legal albums in an effort to refute this claim. The only thing is, conventional wisdom is now correct: Dylan’s voice has become monotonous and nearly tuneless, and is the biggest reason why I personally can find no use for his last two, near-universally acclaimed “comeback” albums. In concert, this can be overlooked, especially during the songs that don’t suffer from his declamatory cadence. Like many of Dylan’s newer tunes, Love and Theft’s “Summer Days” uses the blues trope of repeating the first line of each verse, making a song of eight-plus verses almost insufferable, especially when it is simply Dylan bellowing braggadocious shit to a woman half his age. Yet classics like “Masters of War” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” have only gained power and relevance over the long stumble of years since they were written, Dylan’s death rattle taking on the befitting tone of the accusatory prophet.

Ironically, as one who hardly ever listens to latter-day Dylan on record, the song that I found most effective this night was “Workingman’s Blues #2,” from last year’s Modern Times. It seemed to sum up Dylan’s current philosophy the best: “You can hang back/Or fight your best on the front line/Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues.” The so-called Never Ending Tour seems to be a way for Dylan to make sure he’ll die with his boots on.

—Mike Hotter

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Costello/Dylan in Albany, NY - 10/6/07

Purloined from here

Alexander writes:

I saw the Costello/Dylan concert last night. Excellent! I can see how some might be put off by Dylan (he's hard to understand, even if you know all the words to his songs), but having seen him at his touring nadir in the late 80s, I found his show to be very entertaining. The Costello set was even better! Here are the set lists for both performers:

Costello Set List
October 6, 2007

1. (The Angels Wanna Wear) My Red Shoes
2. Blue Chair
3. Either Side of the Same Town
4. The River in Reverse
5. Oliver's Army
6. Down Among the Wines and Spirits (new song, debuted 9/19/07 in Nashville concert)
7. From Sulfur to Sugarcane (new song, written with T-Bone Burnett for the film “All The King’s Men,” but not used. Debuted at 9/27/07 concert in Charlottesville, Virginia)
8. Veronica
9. Radio Sweetheart/Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)
10. (What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
11. The Scarlet Tide

Dylan Set List
October 6, 2007

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel)
2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
(Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
3. Watching the River Flow (Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel)
4. Simple Twist of Fate
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
5. Rollin' and Tumblin'
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
6. When the Deal Goes Down (Bob on electric keyboard and harp,
Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
7. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on lap steel)
8. Workingman's Blues #2
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
9. Things Have Changed (Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on violin)
10. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
12. Ain't Talkin' (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on viola, Stu on acoustic guitar)
13. Summer Days (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
14. Masters of War
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
15. Thunder on the Mountain
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
16. All Along the Watchtower
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)

Band Members
Bob Dylan - electric guitar, keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Denny Freeman - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - violin, viola, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

Thursday, September 20, 2007

From Nepal

God: Hello. Did you call me?

Me: Called you? No. Who is this?

God: This is GOD. I heard your prayers. So I thought I would chat.

Me: I do pray. Just makes me feel good. I am actually busy now. I am in the midst of something.

God: What are you busy at? Ants are busy too.

Me: Don't know. But I can't find free time. Life has become hectic. It's rush hour all the time.

God: Sure. Activity gets you busy. But productivity gets you results. Activity consumes time. Productivity frees it.

Me: I understand. But I still can't figure out. By the way, I was not expecting YOU to buzz me on instant messaging chat.

God: Well I wanted to resolve your fight for time, by giving you some clarity. In this net era, I wanted to reach you through the medium you are comfortable with.

Me: Tell me, why has life become complicated now?

God: Stop analyzing life. Just live it. Analysis is what makes it complicated.

Me: Why are we then always unhappy?

God: Your today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. You are worrying because you are analyzing. Worrying has become your habit. That's why you are not happy.

Me: But how can we not worry when there is so much uncertainty?

God: Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional.

Me: But there is so much pain due to uncertainty.

God: Pain is inevitable able, but suffering is optional.

Me: If suffering is optional, why do good people always suffer?

God: Diamonds cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials, but don't suffer. With that experience their life become better not bitter.

Me: You mean to say such experience is useful?

God: Yes. In everything, experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.

Me: But still, why should we go through such tests? Why cant we be free from problems?

God: Problems are Purposeful Roadblocks Offering Beneficial Lessons (to) Enhance Mental Strength. Inner strength comes from struggle and endurance, not when you are free from problems.

Me: Frankly in the midst of so many problems, we don't know where we are heading.

God: If you look outside you will not know where you are heading. Look inside. Looking outside, you dream. Looking inside, you awaken. Eyes provide sight. Heart provides insight.

Me: Sometimes not succeeding fast seems to hurt more than moving in the right direction. What should I do?

God: Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by you. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than knowing you rode ahead. You work with the compass. Let others
work with the clock.

Me: In tough times, how do you stay motivated?

God: Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessings, not what you are missing.

Me: What surprises you about people?

God: When they suffer they ask, "why me?" When they prosper, they never ask "Why me" Everyone wishes to have truth on their side, but few want to be on the side of the truth.

Me: Sometimes I ask, who am I, why am I here. I can't get the answer.

God: Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.

Me: How can I get the best out of life?

God: Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.

Me: One last question. Sometimes I feel my prayers are not answered.

God: There are no unanswered prayers. At times the answer is NO.

Me: Thank you for this wonderful chat.

God: Be well. Keep the faith and drop the fear. Don't believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs. Life is a mystery to solve not a problem to resolve. Trust me. Life is wonderful if you know how to live.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

NO on H.R. 811

The Alliance for Democracy Alert--Tuesday, September 4, 2007
HR 811 comes to a House vote Wednesday, September 5--tell your Representative to vote NO!

This Wednesday the House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 811.

The original purpose of the bill was to provide a paper trail for the 2008 election. However, the bill has been so rewritten that it is unrecognizable to the experts originally consulted.

Because it requires a computerized text conversion device in every polling place, H.R. 811 would effectively rule out handcounted paper ballots, or non-computerized voter assistive devices that are accessible, less costly, and that avoid computerized vote counting. These text conversion devices represent an under-funded mandate for states, and a windfall for the e-voting industry.

The bill also gives the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), composed of four White House appointees, responsibility for setting specifications for all voting equipment - DRE and paper ballots - in every state, as well as vote-counting and recount procedures. None of the states will be able to legislate their own security requirements if this bill passes, and progress on the state level barring the use of electronic voting machines will be undone.

Not surprisingly, H.R. 811 is opposed by the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Association of Secretaries of State.

For a more detailed description of the EAC's proposed powers, see this article written by Nancy Tobi, who has been following the EAC since it was set up in 2002. For additional info and talking points, see "This Week's Actions" at Election Defense Alliance's website.

Please Call!
Take a few moments and phone or fax your Representative in Congress and tell them to vote against H.R. 811. If you don't know your Representative's number, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Imagine that your life is a busy airport, with you as the air traffic controller

Now let's look at your control screen. On the best day, it's chaotic with departures and arrivals. But there are some planes that never seem to land. They circle and circle endlessly, taking up space and multiplying stress.

These planes are your unresolved grievances. They hover, but they refuse to land. With them buzzing in your personal space, you're forced to work harder. They distract you, exhaust your resources, and cause accidents. Unable to forgive or let go, you try to keep your grievances aloft, creating stress and risking burnout.

This is a scenario that Dr. Fred Luskin, director and cofounder of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, uses in his latest book, Forgive for Good, to describe the toll that unresolved grievances take on our lives. As the analogy shows, harboring our injuries robs us of precious time, energy, and the ability to move forward in our lives.

And here's some interesting news: Research has shown that forgiveness is good for our mental and physical health. Having the ability to forgive seems to reduce depression, defuse anger, improve spirituality, enhance emotional self-confidence, and help people live with greater peace.

Forgiving does not mean being a doormat, simply condoning or forgetting injury. Nor does forgiving mean that it's wrong for you to feel hurt and angry. As Dr. Luskin says in his book Forgive for Good, "Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell."

This last point is the most important: When we forgive, we stop being a victim of our past. That includes forgiving ourselves. It means giving ourselves a break when we fail to meet a goal or come up short in being perfect. We choose to move forward with purpose, instead of looking back with resentment."

Dr. Bettye (Bettye H. Albritton, Ph.D.)
Life is Fragile - Handle With Prayer!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Machinery of death grinds ahead

----This man may be innocent. Georgia wants him dead /2007/07/ 01/2007-07-01_machinery_ of_death_grinds_ ahead.html

By NY Daily News Columnist Errol Louis, July 1, 2007

2 days ago, the state of Georgia issued a death warrant in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, requiring the state's Department of Corrections to execute him by lethal injection between July 17 and 24.

There's overwhelming evidence that Davis did not commit the murder for which he has been sentenced to die. But Georgia's machinery of death is grinding ahead anyway, despite pleas for mercy from a growing number of voices including Amnesty International and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

Late on the night of Aug. 19, 1989, Davis got into a fight with a man outside a Burger King next to the Greyhound bus station in Savannah. A 27-year-old cop named Mark Allen MacPhail, moonlighting at the station as a security guard, ran to the scene and was shot to death.

No murder weapon was ever found, and no physical evidence made it to trial. But Davis - a 20-year-old tough known on the streets as RAH, for "rough as hell," was convicted of the grisly killing and sentenced to death on the strength of nine witnesses who claimed they saw him do it or heard him confess to the crime after the fact.

Six of the nine witnesses have since recanted their testimony, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A witness named Antoine Williams, who originally testified that he saw Davis pull the trigger, signed a sworn statement in 2002 that he had "no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like," and now says he was pressured by cops to finger Davis.

Another witness, a woman on parole named Dorothy Ferrell, also signed a sworn recantation of her original testimony. "I don't know which of the guys did the shooting because I didn't see that part," she now says. "I was still scared that if I didn't cooperate with the detective, then he might find a way to have me locked up again."

A man named Jeffrey Sapp, who testified to hearing Davis brag about the shooting the day after the murder, also signed a recantation and says cops pressured him. "None of that was true," he now says of his original testimony.

Another man who claimed Davis confessed to him now says he made up the story out of spite because Davis once spat in his face while both were in jail.

Sensing a pattern?

Stephen Sanders, who was at the Burger King when the shots rang out, originally told cops he couldn't identify the shooter except by the color of his clothes - but ended up naming Davis as the shooter at the trial, and is now ducking requests for interviews.

And last but not least, one of the key witnesses, Sylvester (Red) Coles - who originally went to police and named Davis as the shooter - is probably the real killer, according to Davis' lawyers. Coles never told cops he owned a .38 revolver, the kind used in the murder, and three people have come forward to say they heard Coles take credit for the killing.

"Red said he killed a policeman and a guy named Troy took the fall for it," one of these witnesses says.

But none of these facts can change Davis' sentence, thanks to the federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which puts a time limit on when evidence can be admitted in state death penalty cases.

Davis didn't have the aggressive legal help needed to round up witnesses in time: Georgia is the only state in the union that doesn't guarantee death row prisoners a lawyer during crucial points in the appeals process.

Those who want to help save Davis' life - a commutation would still leave him in prison without parole - should write a short note to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and send it to Amnesty International, 730 Peachtree St., Suite 1060, Atlanta, Ga. 30308. The letter can be faxed to (404) 876-2276.

Please send your note soon. Enough voices raised might just give Davis the room he needs to prove his innocence - and stop the mad rush to execution that stains American justice.
From David Kaczynski, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty

The impending execution of Troy Davis in Georgia is weighing on my heart.

For one thing, most of the evidence used to convict Davis has been discredited.

Unfortunately, the presumption of innocence becomes a presumption of guilt as soon as someone has been convicted. Thus, Davis is expected not only to disprove the evidence that led to his conviction, but he must also prove his innocence - something that is very difficult to do in non-DNA cases. It ought to shock us that we execute people whose guilt is so questionable.

But this particular case also feels personal to me. First, I corresponded briefly with Mr. Davis in 1999 and 2000. He wrote with dignity and intelligence. He likes baseball. He was concerned about his mother.

I also know Troy's sister, Martina Correa, who has been fighting for her brother's life for many years. I identify with her completely. She loves her brother and has dedicated much of her life and energy to saving him. Not only is Georgia planning to execute a man who may be innocent, but they are subjecting his family to a torment that could not be more cruel. Davis' mother is a lovely women, struggling with grief,
searching for a slender ray of hope. She and Martina are often seen at NCADP conferences, like so many of us who seek an extended family within the movement, among the hopeful and the wounded.

There are moments when I wake up to all the reasons that bring me to this struggle: love of family, love of humanity, and utter disgust for this callous system. The Troy Davis case is a poignant reminder.

Please take a moment to write a brief note to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. I imagine Mr. Davis' chances are slim. But we should not let Georgia carry out this execution without hearing from us. Please write a brief note asking that Davis' life be spared.

Mail your letter to: Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and send it to Amnesty International, 730 Peachtree St., Suite 1060, Atlanta, Ga. 30308. The letter can be faxed to (404) 876-2276.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Is There Courage in This Generation?

"I asked myself: What can I do to end this war if I'm willing to go to prison for it?"

I heard that statement this afternoon. But unfortunately it came from an old man remembering something he did a long time ago. In fact I was listening to three old men: Daniel Ellsberg, Mike Gravel, and Robert West. Thirty-five years ago they came together to publish The Pentagon Papers and puncture the public's illusions about the Vietnam War.

To understand what The Pentagon Papers were, imagine that Donald Rumsfeld had the true and secret history of the Iraq War locked in safe somewhere. Imagine what would happen if somebody opened that safe.

Well, replace Rumsfeld with McNamara and Iraq with Vietnam, and you pretty much have it. Daniel Ellsberg was a Rand Corporation analyst who had the clearances necessary to see the Papers. He funneled them to Gravel, a senator from Alaska, who made them virtually unsuppressible by reading them into the Congressional Record. And West ran Beacon Press, the 36th publisher that Ellsberg and Gravel went to, the one that said yes.

I heard them tell their story today at the General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists, the annual national meeting of my faith. We UUs have a certain amount to crow about in this story: Beacon is our house press and Gravel is a UU.

In a day or two you should be able to watch the video here:

You should. It's a great story, full of cloak and dagger: Ellsberg handing off the Papers to an associate at a Cambridge motel, and watching on the motel TV as the FBI raided his home. The associate doing a midnight transfer of boxes of documents from his trunk to Gravel's out in front of the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. Gravel, a dyslexic, needing his staff to help him read the 7,000 pages so that he would know what he had. All Gravel told each staffer was to pack a bag and come over to his house. At the door he met them individually and said "I have the Pentagon Papers. You can go home now, but if you come in you're staying until I leave for the Senate."

They all came in.

Imagine that. One congressional staffer after another willing to face going to jail -- not for money and not to cover up some other wrong-doing, but to end a war.

Seventeen different newspapers published portions of The Pentagon Papers in what Ellsberg called "institutional civil disobedience".

Imagine that.

Beacon Press agreed to publish the Papers in book form only after their usual law firm washed its hands and left. There was a real chance that West might go to jail, or that Beacon or even the UUA might be ruined.

They published.

Where does courage like that come from? Ellsberg says it's contagious. That was his exact word. He says he caught his courage by talking to draft resistors, the ones who decided to go to prison rather than to Vietnam. Gravel says he caught it from Ellsberg. And Gravel's staff must have caught it from him.

But that outbreak has been under control for years now. They must have come up with a vaccine or something, because I haven't seen a whole lot of courage lately.

Hundreds of people, Ellsberg speculates, have documents in their safes that could do for Iraq what The Pentagon Papers did for Vietnam. Hundreds more, he thinks, have documents that could derail the onrushing war with Iran.

If one of those people would decide that he's willing to go to prison.

Prison? These days I'd be happy just to see somebody who was willing to lose an election if necessary. Or just bear up while Dick Cheney scowled and Rush and Sean and their ilk said nasty things. Somebody who was willing to be ridiculed if that's what it took to end a war.

That's what Ellsberg saw in Gravel, and why he was willing to risk giving him the Papers. "Here was a senator who was not afraid to look foolish," he said today. "That's the fear that keeps us in line."

Ellsberg, we know in hindsight, didn't go to prison. The Nixon administration used such outrageous tactics against him that the case was thrown out of court. Gravel and West didn't go to prison. Beacon thrived. But nobody knew that was how it would come out.

So what does Ellsberg recommend to those hundreds of people who have the goods on our wars and potential wars? Don't wait. He thinks that if he'd done in 1963 what he did in 1969-72, the Vietnam War might never have become the fiasco it turned into. An informed public might not have stood for it. "Don't wait until the bombs are falling," he said this afternoon.

But he's an old man now. What does he know? Things were different in his day.

Doug Muder
22 June 2007

As always, I appreciate anything that gets me more readers. Feel free to forward this text or reproduce it in any other non-commercial way.
July 4, 1776
Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —

Quote from Election Fraud in America:" America is at a crossroads....But it takes more than good voting technology to make a democracy....Citizens need to raise our voices and confront the ignorance and corruption that has resulted in the use of DREs in our elections. ...It's time for everyone to know about the history of election fraud in our country. It's not the paper ballots we have to worry about-it's secret procedures and lack of observers. What to do? Know the issue, and raise our voices until we are heard!". Teresa Hommel.

Election Fraud in America:
Don't worry about Paper Ballots--
The Problem is Secret Procedures and Lack of Observers!

Teresa Hommel
June 28, 2007

As a citizen activist against electronic voting machines ("DREs") and an advocate of voter-marked paper ballots and precinct-based optical scanners, the most common argument I hear against paper ballots is that "they have always been subject to fraud."

To find out more, I read Deliver the Vote by Tracy Campbell, a history of American election fraud from 1742 to 2004, and the 68-page chapter on fraud in Election Administration in the United States, which details some cases that took place in the 1920s.[1] Here's what I learned.

Regardless of the technology used for voting, three characteristics of fraud have always been the same:

1. Fraud occurs when election procedures are conducted in secret. Secrecy has been supported by law makers, law enforcement, and the courts. People in positions of power have stayed in power by controlling the conduct of elections, and keeping what they do secret.

2. When fraud occurs, citizens are treated as outsiders to the election process, and are prevented, by the use of law or violence, from participating in or observing election procedures, and from investigating irregularities.

3. In order to control the real votes that are cast, certain would-be voters have been discouraged from voting by the use of law and violence.

It's a sorry history--observers kidnapped or beaten up, and courts refusing to open the ballot boxes to find out whether what's inside has any relationship to precinct tally sheets.

DREs, electronic voting machines, continue this tradition of fraud. Just when surveillance cameras could open our poll sites to continuous observation and prevent the hanky-panky, DREs establish a new barrier to citizen oversight. Citizens are shut out. We can't understand the procedures. We can't observe in a meaningful way sufficient to attest that procedures and counting were proper and honest. Voters can't even observe their own votes.

Just like the ballot boxes of old, DREs cannot be opened-their insides are concealed by trade secret and intellectual property claims of vendors, which have been consistently upheld by election administrators and courts. Courts today are playing the same role with DREs that courts of yesterday played with wooden ballot boxes. Our courts are protecting the secret software and any other secrets that might be inside, such as log files showing communications intrusions, alterations of tally files, and other evidence of fraud. This is the reason we sometimes hear "there's no evidence that DREs have ever been subject to fraud."

Despite talk about outside hackers, insider control of election outcomes has never been easier--just point and click, and after changing the tallies, remember to "save" before you "exit".

It is ironic that by allowing our votes to be concealed inside computers-and thereby facilitating fraud-we may actually prevent some of the violence historically associated with elections. Obviously, with computers handling the votes, with errors and fraud being invisible and undetectable, it doesn't matter who votes or who observes in the poll site. We no longer need violence to suppress the vote or scare off observers.

New Legislation in an old Model

After I read these works on election fraud, I then read two election reform bills that have been introduced in Congress. They are scary and outrageous. H.R. 811 and S. 1487 would create new legal bases for the secrecy related to computerized voting systems, and further prevent citizen oversight of our elections. It appears that S. 1487 would even make the Election Assistance Commission exempt from FOIL requests.[2]

Technology Can Serve Democracy

Technology can be useful in elections in the form of tactile, mechanical, robotic, or computerized devices to assist voters with disabilities, non-English languages, or illiteracy who want to make their voting selections without requiring another person to know for whom they are voting.

Technology can also help to secure our ballot boxes: surveillance cameras, heat and motion sensors for storage areas, and the many technologies used in warehouses to protect and keep track of inventory.

There are many ways that twenty-first century technology can be useful in elections, but computers should not be used to record, cast, store, handle, and count the votes because this prevents the citizen participation and observation that can keep these procedures honest.

Computers are not secure. Computers cannot be secured.

People argue over whether computers are secure. "Yes they are!" "No they aren't!" The arguments are not very meaningful, because here's the fact--no large computer system is secure, and no computer system is secure from the people who work with it.

Paper can be secure.

Is paper secure? Can it be? Banks, warehouses, and other businesses protect paper with minimum difficulty by the use of careful procedures, competent management, and surveillance cameras. But it needs to be said that nationwide, our election administration has an aggressive "can't do" attitude: "we can't protect paper," "we can't get people to volunteer to help with elections," "we can't audit computers to show that they are working properly because audits are too burdensome, time-consuming, and expensive, and also they are unnecessary because we trust the computers."[3]

Election Reform in America-2007

America is at a crossroads. If we are to continue to be a democracy, we need to get rid of DREs now and use surveillance cameras to secure our ballot boxes for paper ballots.

But it takes more than good voting technology to make a democracy.

We citizens need to inform ourselves about our government via the alternative news media. Just on the subject of elections, most people know about the lost 18,000 votes in the Christine Jennings race in Florida's 13th Congressional District. But our major media has not covered the thousands of other documented failures of computerized voting machines, and the voters who were disenfranchised as a result. We can learn much from various web sites: ,, etc.

We citizens also need to remember what democracy means-government of the people. We need to show up as poll workers and observers. "Get out the vote" efforts may have a negative effect in the long run, because we citizens need to participate in more ways than just voting. Minimizing the responsibilities of citizenship to the mere act of voting trivializes both citizenship and voting, and may contribute to the attitude that voting doesn't count.

Conclusion - What to do!

Citizens need to raise our voices and confront the ignorance and corruption that has resulted in the use of DREs in our elections. It's time for all our public servants to know why DREs are wrong, with or without a paper trail, and to take a public position against continued use of DREs.

It's time for everyone to know about the history of election fraud in our country. It's not the paper ballots we have to worry about-it's secret procedures and lack of observers. It's time to tell our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators that the election reform bills in Congress are an outrage, and should be revised immediately.

Everyone concerned about our elections needs to stay informed by subscribing to the Daily Voting News from This includes activists concerned with other issues and all our public servants.

What to do? Know the issue, and raise our voices until we are heard!

# # #

[1] Deliver the Vote, 2005, by Tracy Campbell, Carroll and Graf Publishers.
Election Administration in the United States, 1934, by Joseph P. Harris, Ph.D., available at
[2] Resources are available at
Analysis of HR 811,
Analysis of S1487, and
[3] See for example, Testimony of Doug Lewis of The Election Center, March 20, 2007

A few days before the November 2004 election, Jimmy Carter was asked what would happen if, instead of flying to Zambia or Venezuela or East Timor, his widely respected international election monitoring team was invited to turn its attention to the United States. His answer was stunningly blunt. Not only would the voting system be regarded as a failure, he said, but the shortcomings were so egregious the Carter Center would never agree to monitor an election there in the first place. "We wouldn't think of it," the former president told a radio interviewer. "The American political system wouldn't measure up to any sort of international standards, for several reasons."

from Steal This Vote by Andrew Gumbel

Thursday, June 21, 2007

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Message from Tyler Perry - Forgiveness this Father's Day

[After plugs for the TBS show HOUSE OF PAYNE and the DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS release on DVD.will be out on DVD...]

Speaking of fathers and father's day. A few years ago I wrote an article for Essence magazine about forgiving my father for all he had done. For so many years I was angry with him. I do believe that when I was growing up this man hated me to my core. I don't remember any happy memories with him. And I'm sure there had to be some, but it's funny what a child will hang on to. Like the times when I would be in my room sitting, reading or playing and the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up. I would turn and look at the window in the door and there he would stand staring at me as if he could kill me. I used to pretend that I was somewhere else (I think that's where my imagination and story telling was born). He would call me profane names all of the time. He would beat me with anything that he could get his hands on. He would play terrible mind games with me all the while beating and abusing my mother-- especially when she tried to protect me.

Needless to say I had a lot to forgive. And I needed to because the first 28 years of my life were filled with so much torture and turmoil that I wanted to die. All I wanted were answers. I wanted to know why he hated me so much and what did I do as a child that was so wrong that it would warrant that kind of mistreatment. Although my answers never came I knew that I had to move on, because all of the things that happened to me as a boy were affecting and defeating the man that I was to be. So, at 28 years old, I prayed and asked God to help me to find the strength to forgive my father. He was sleeping peacefully at night while I was enraged. I knew that I had to forgive him, not for him but for me and my future. After a bitter argument with him one day I told him all that I'd wanted to say to him, then I forgave him with all my might. The moment I did that, my life changed. All that I had been trying to do started to come together. I knew that something had changed in me and I could see it outwardly.

Even though there were so many things that I had forgiven, there was still so much more that I needed to learn. I found myself getting angry again when I realized all of the things that he didn't teach me.
He didn't teach me the little things that fathers should teach their sons--things like how to ride a bike or how to tie a tie or even about sports. And what made me the most upset was when I realized that he didn't teach me how to be a man, or a husband or a father. In the midst of my complaining, frustration and feeling sorry for myself God spoke to me and said, "Your lessons were in reverse. If you do the opposite of what he did then you have your answers."

My question to you today is this--"What lessons have you learned in reverse? And is there anyone that you need to forgive?"

Forgive them, forgive yourself, and then God will forgive you.

God bless. Happy Fathers Day.

Tyler Perry

Friday, May 25, 2007

Abolish death penalty; prevent the state from making fatal error

by Douglas Warney, Guest essayist

I witnessed the debate this month when the New York state Senate considered a bill to bring back the death penalty for cop killers.

For more than three hours, our elected representatives argued the pros and cons
of capital punishment. I listened as the senators talked about a subject that
has never personally affected them. At times, I really wished I could have put
in my two cents!

In early 1996, I became the first person charged capitally under New York's new
death penalty statute. The district attorney at the time said I was a monster
who deserved to die. Fortunately, the grand jury indicted me only for
second-degree murder. Otherwise, I could have easily received the death penalty.
I was sentenced to only 25 years to life for a murder I had nothing to do with.
In some ways, I was lucky.

The only evidence against me was a confession that I was forced to sign after
several hours of harsh interrogation. You might think that no innocent person
would confess to a crime he or she didn't commit. But if so, you have no idea
what it's like to be locked in a small room for many hours with cops who are
convinced you're guilty. I got to a point where I was willing to say anything
just to get out of there.

Fortunately, the Innocence Project got involved in my case. And when my DNA was
finally tested, it proved my innocence. But by then I had served more than nine
years in state prison.

To be honest with you, accountability means nothing to me if we fail to learn
any lessons from our mistakes. I would like to see our representatives in the
state Legislature do everything possible to prevent what happened to me from
happening to anyone else.

Recognizing that the system makes mistakes means that we can't have a death
penalty. There's just no way to correct a mistake after someone has been
executed. But it also means that we should take reasonable steps to prevent what
happened to me from happening to others.

I really perked up during the Senate debate when Sen. Eric Schneiderman,
D-Manhattan, offered an amendment to the death penalty bill to protect the
wrongly accused. His amendment would have required the videotaping of
interrogations, better preservation of DNA evidence and more careful handling of
eyewitness identifications. All of these are reasonable precautions given that
the vast majority of wrongful convictions occur because of eyewitness
misidentifications and because of coerced "confessions" like mine.

I couldn't believe it when the Senate voted to defeat Schneiderman's amendment.
Deep inside I was crying, "Why are they doing this?" Are they crazy?!"

Warney, of Rochester, was released from prison last year after serving more than
nine years for a murder he did not commit.

From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 22, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cerebus #1 Counterfeit detection tips

Appropriated from: because the page has been down from time to time.

There are a number of slight differences between the real and counterfeit versions of Cerebus #1. Here is a listing of them, special thanks to Chuck Costas, Rory Root, John Tinkess and Margaret Liss.

Real: Has Silver staples.
Fake: Has Bronze staples.

Real: Inside cover is flat, outside cover is glossy.
Fake: Both sides of the cover are glossy.

Real: Cover background is pure red.
Fake: Cover background is red, but has a slight orange-ish tint.

Here is a big picture to better show the differences via the red covers.

Real: Cover is of variable print quality (sometimes "smudging" appears around the right horn on Cerebus' helmet and the hilt of his sword).
Fake: Cover is always crisp.

Fake: Sometimes a black outline can be seen at the bottom of the cover.

Both: Verticle black smudge line appears on the back cover where the "Collector's Edition" banner ends (because the book was printed "golden age size" when the artwork was intended to be modern age sized)

So if you have a very good-looking Cerebus #1 it may be a counterfeit. It's sad to say but there are counterfeit comics out there. Especially for high value independent comics. If you are thinking of buying one, check around to see if counterfeits were made (and how to detect them) before doing the purchase.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Find your birthday and then find your tree

>>Dec 23 to Jan 01................ Apple Tree
>>Jan 01 to Jan 11.................. Fir Tree
>>Jan 12 to Jan 24.................Elm Tree
>>Jan 25 to Feb 03................ Cypress Tree
>>Feb 04 to Feb 08................Poplar Tree
>>Feb 09 to Feb 18................. Cedar Tree
>>Feb 19 to Feb 28.................Pine Tree
>>Mar 01 to Mar 10................ Weeping Willow Tree
>>Mar 11 to Mar 20................Lime Tree
>>Mar 21 (only)..................... Oak Tree
>>Mar 22 to Mar 31...............Hazelnut Tree
>>Apr 01 to Apr 10................ Rowan Tree
>>Apr 11 to Apr 20.................Maple Tree
>>Apr 21 to Apr 30................ Walnut Tree
>>May 01 to May 14...............Poplar Tree
>>May 15 to May 24............... Chestnut Tree
>>May 25 to Jun 03 .............Ash Tree
>>Jun 04 to Jun 13................ Hornbeam Tree
>>Jun 14 to Jun 23................ Fig Tree
>>Jun 24 (only)....................Birch Tree
>>Jun 25 to Jul 04................ Apple Tree
>>Jul 05 to Jul 14..................Fir Tree
>>Jul 15 to Jul 25.................. Elm Tree
>>Jul 26 to Aug 04...............Cypress Tree
>>Aug 05 to Aug 13.............. Poplar Tree
>>Aug 14 to Aug 23..............Cedar Tree
>>Aug 24 to Sep 02.............. Pine Tree
>>Sep 03 to Sep 12................ Weeping Willow Tree
>>Sep 13 to Sep 22.................Lime Tree
>>Sep 23 (only)..................... Olive Tree
>>Sep 24 to Oct 03...............Hazelnut Tree
>>Oct 04 to Oct 13............... Rowan Tree
>>Oct 14 to Oct 23...............Maple Tree
>>Oct 24 to Nov 11............... Walnut Tree
>>Nov 12 to Nov 21..............Chestnut Tree
>>Nov 22 to Dec 01............. Ash Tree
>>Dec 02 to Dec 11..............Hornbeam Tree
>>Dec 12 to Dec 21.............. Fig Tree
>>Dec 22 (only)................. Beech Tree
YOUR TREE(in alphabetical order)

>>Apple Tree (the Love) -- quiet and shy at times, lots of charm, appeal, and attraction, pleasant attitude, flirtatious smile, adventurous, sensitive, loyal in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner, very generous, many talents, loves children, needs affectionate partner.
>>Ash Tree (the Ambition) -- extremely attractive, vivacious, impulsive, demanding, does not care for criticism, ambitious, intelligent, talented, likes to play with fate, can be very egotistic, reliable, restless lover, sometimes money rules over the heart, demands attention, needs love and much emotional support.
Beech Tree (the Creative) -- has good taste, concerned about its looks, materialistic, good organization of life and career, economical, good leader, takes no unnecessary risks, reasonable, splendid lifetime companion, keen on keeping fit (diets, sports, etc.).
>>Birch Tree (the inspiration) -- vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly, unpretentious, modest, does not like anything in excess, abhors the vulgar, loves life in nature and in calm, not very passionate, full of imagination, little ambition, creates a calm and content atmosphere.
>>Cedar Tree (the Confidence) -- of rare strength, knows how to adapt, likes unexpected presents, of good health, not in the least shy, tends to look down on others, self-confident, a great speaker, determined, often impatient, likes to impress others, has many talents, industrious, healthy optimism, waits for the one true love, able to make quick decisions.
>>Chestnut Tree (the Honesty ) -- of unusual stature, impressive, well-developed sense of justice, fun to be around, a planner, born diplomat, can be irritated easily, sensitive of others feelings, hard worker, sometimes acts superior, feels not understood at times, fiercely family oriented, very loyal in love, physically fit.
>>Cypress Tree (the Faithfulness) -- strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give but doesn't necessarily like it , strives to be content, optimistic, wants to be financially independent, wants love and affection, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered at times, can be unruly and careless, loves to gain knowledge, needs to be needed.
>>Elm Tree (the Noble-mindedness) -- pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, modest demands, tends not to forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but not to obey, honest and faithful partner, likes making decisions for others, noble-minded, generous, good sense of humor, practical.
>>Fig Tree (the Sensibility) -- very strong minded, a bit self-willed, honest, loyal, independent, hates contradiction or arguments, hard worker when wants to be, loves life and friends, enjoys children and animals, few sexual relationships, great sense of humor, has artistic talent and great intelligence.
>>Fir tree (the Mysterious) -- extraordinary taste, handles stress well, loves anything beautiful, stubborn, tends to care for those close to them, hard to trust others, yet a social butterfly, likes idleness and laziness after long demanding hours at work, rather modest, talented, unselfish, many friends, very reliable.
>>Hazelnut Tree (the Extraordinary ) -- charming, sense of humor, very demanding but can also be very understanding, knows how to make a lasting impression, active fighter for social causes and politics, popular, quite moody, sexually oriented, honest, a perfectionist, has a precise sense of judgment and expects complete fairness.
>>Hornbeam Tree (the Good Taste) -- of cool beauty, cares for its looks and condition, good taste, is not egoistic, makes life as comfortable as possible, leads a reasonable and disciplined life, looks for kindness and acknowledgment in an emotional partner, dreams of unusual lovers, is seldom happy with its feelings, mistrusts most people, is never sure of its decisions, very conscientious.
>>Lime Tree (the Doubt) -- intelligent, hard working, accepts what life dishes out, but not before trying to change bad circumstances into good ones, hates fighting and stress, enjoys getaway vacations, may appear tough, but is actually soft and relenting, always willing to make sacrifices for family and friends, has many talents but not always enough time to use them, can become a complainer, great leadership qualities, is jealous at times but extremely loyal.
>>Maple Tree (Independence of Mind) -- no ordinary person, full of imagination and originality, shy and reserved, ambitious, proud, self-confident, hungers for new experiences, sometimes nervous, has many complexities, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.
>>Oak Tree (the Brave) -- robust nature, courageous, strong, unrelenting, independent, sensible, does not like change, keeps its feet on the ground, person of action.
>>Olive Tree (the Wisdom) -- loves sun, warmth and kind feelings,reasonable, balanced, avoids aggression and violence, tolerant, cheerful, calm, well-developed sense of justice, sensitive, empathetic, free of jealousy, loves to read and the company of sophisticated people.
>>Pine Tree (the Peacemaker) -- loves agreeable company, craves peace and harmony, loves to help others, active imagination, likes to write poetry, not fashion conscious, great compassion, friendly to all, falls strongly in love but will leave if betrayed or lied to, emotionally soft, low self esteem, needs affection and reassurance.
>>Poplar Tree (the Uncertainty) -- looks very decorative, talented, not very self-confident, extremely courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, great artistic nature, good organizer, tends to lean toward philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership Seriously.
>>Rowan Tree (the Sensitivity) -- full of charm, cheerful, gifted without egoism, likes to draw attention, loves life, motion, unrest, and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.
>>Walnut Tree (the Passion) -- unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egotistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromise.
>>Weeping Willow (the Melancholy) - - likes to be stress free, loves family life, full of hopes and dreams, attractive, very empathetic, loves anything beautiful, musically inclined, loves to travel to exotic places, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with when pressured, sometimes demanding, good intuition, suffers in love until they find that one loyal, steadfast partner; loves to make others laugh.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Declaration at the End of the Underground Railroad Conference, Albany, NY, 2/24/2007.

Fugitives From Slavery Who Passed Through Albany

Miss Harriet Jacobs was repeatedly lied to and abused by her enslaver. She escaped and hid in a crawl space in a shed on her free grandmother’s property for seven years. She finally escaped north but continued to be pursued. She came to the Albany area while working as the caretaker of a wealthy woman’s child. Harriet Jacobs, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

William and Catherine Harris and their child escaped slavery in South Carolina. Their journey took them through Philadelphia, New York and Albany. They met tragedy along the Erie Canal with the death of their child, but continued on to Canada to find their freedom. William and Catherine Harris, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Harriet Tubman, while a fugitive, assisted others to freedom despite having a bounty set for her capture. She did this work in spite of seizures that plagued her because of being struck in the head by a slave overseer as a child. She visited Troy and helped rescue Charles Nalle from capture in 1860. Harriet Tubman, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

John Williams and Martha Williams escaped enslavement and come as far north as Hudson. They found employment at the home of Charles Marriott in Hudson. After the “Prigg” decision of 1842 they considered it unsafe to stay in New York and went farther north to the Rokeby Farm in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. John and Martha Williams, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Miss Leah Brown, fugitive from slave owner Mrs. Mc Donald who held the rest of her family in bondage, had a bounty of $100 set for her recapture. Miss Brown’s pursuit of her freedom brought her into Albany, and thence on to Canada. Miss Leah Brown, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Mary Anne was a fugitive from Dr. Stewart, who sought her return to bondage. She was assisted by friends to escape her enslavement. Her passage to freedom took her through Albany. Mary Anne, we remember you as . . .
· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Miss Sarah Smith escaped her violent and cruel enslavement in New Orleans, coming to Albany with her husband, daughter of 4 years and an unborn child. Sarah and your family, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Elizabeth Castle, a dressmaker, along with Minerva Polly, Marianna, Marianna’s daughter and an unborn child, were fugitives from Baltimore, Maryland. They sought relief and assistance in Albany, but, being pursued by slave catchers, they were forced to go on to the Dawn Mills settlement in Canada where they could live a life of freedom. Elizabeth, Minerva, Marianna, and Marianna’s daughter, we remember you as . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Eliza Wilson came to Albany. She had been beaten with sticks, stripped and beaten with a cat of nine tails repeatedly and washed with salt brine to make the pain worse. She was badly scarred. She was kept illiterate and was made to work as a field hand. She escaped this treatment and fled north to Canada through Albany. Eliza, we remember you as . . .

· All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Joe and Rosa from the Shenandoah Valley, near Blue Ridge, in Virginia were slaves of Mr. Ridgley. They fled when they were to be sold to Georgia. They connected with Underground Railroad operators and traveled north through Albany. Joe and Rosa, we remember you as . . .

All: one of the people of courage, people of hope, seekers of justice

Friday, February 09, 2007

Essential vocabulary for the workplace

1. BLAMESTORMING : Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

2. SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

3. ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

4. SALMON DAY : The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

5. CUBE FARM : An office filled with cubicles.

6. PRAIRIE DOGGING : When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

7. MOUSE POTATO : The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

8. SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

9. STRESS PUPPY : A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

10. SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

11. XEROX SUBSIDY : Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

12. IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are Annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.

13. PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE : The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again. Often feel like doing this to my computer------

14. ADMINISPHERE : The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

15. 404 : Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested site could not be located.

16. GENERICA : Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

17. OHNOSECOND : That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an email by mistake).

18. WOOFS : Well-Off Older Folks.

19. CROP DUSTING : Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a Cube Farm.

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Message from Tyler Perry in South Africa, 1/8/2007

It's Sunday morning. I'm sitting here in South Africa watching the sun rise. I'm aware that the time is seven hours ahead of the east coast and that most of America is asleep, but I wish that I could wake you all up to see this. It is so peaceful here. In a few hours I will be heading home and I will take from these ten days a lifetime of memories.

It started with the invitation from Oprah to join her here for the opening of her school. I was a little reluctant to come and spend New Year's here because I have been in church every New Year's night since I can remember. Well, I can honestly say that this was truly more spiritual than being in any watch night service that I've ever been in. This entire trip has been unbelievable. From the time that I left, I have been having unforgettable memories. Like, getting to have several conversations with the most eloquent man that I have ever met--Mr. Sidney Poitier. He has so much class and grace. The wisdoms that he left me with on this trip were worth the trip alone.

Then getting to this continent and being greeted by African drums? WOW!
And the spirit of all the invited guests. It seemed that everybody
that I spoke with left me with something that I could use in my life.
I know that God was here.

The New Year's Eve bash was too much for your senses to take in. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful it was. It started with an African choir singing native songs and then ending with "Amazing Grace" and "Oh Happy Day". It was the clearest night that I had ever seen and with the biggest moon. It was as if God, Himself, wanted to show off the heavens to us. At midnight I stepped away and said a prayer. When I turned around Mary J Blige was taking the stage and she rocked the place. Then there were several impromptu performances--Patti Labelle then Baby Face. He sang "If I Could Change The World". This was all unsolicited mind you. Then India Arie sang, then Tina Turner closed the show with "Simply The Best". I danced until the sun came up.

The next day we left Sun City and headed to Johannesburg. We drove through some of the townships. The poverty was heartbreaking, but the
children were so happy. Someone said to me, "I wonder what they
dream about". It didn't take me long to find out.

As many of you know, after educating thousands of children in America, Oprah has opened a school here for girls. And when I saw these children, my God, you had to see their faces and hear their stories to understand. When we got to the school, these girls (12 and 13 years
old) talked about how they dreamed about not just becoming doctors and teachers, but discovering the cure for AIDS, or becoming President, or the Minister of Education. I have never in my life seen so much gratitude and so much hope.

Then the next day I got to meet Madiba Nelson Mandella! Life changing, life changing is all I can say. I also went to Robben Island and saw where he was in prison. I stood in his cell. I don't think that my life will ever be the same after that visit.

I know that this is a long email this time, but hear me when I say this--Let 2007 be the year that you follow your dream. Don't let anybody tell you what you can't do. With the help, grace and favor of God you can live your dream and bring it to pass. Believe in yourself. All of you who have stopped dreaming, go find it, dust it off, get back at it. It's never too late. That dream that has been
nagging you and won't let you rest will lead you to your destiny.
It's how God moves. Go for it! It is possible! Faith can take you to fruition?when you believe.


Biblical Understanding of Marriage

Dear President Bush:

The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government."

Any religious person believes prayer should be balanced by action. So here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment to codify marriage on biblical principles:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe. (Gen.38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

Theological Diversity - Reason vs. Metaphysics by Carlyle "Kirk" Herrick

Theological Diversity - Reason vs. Metaphysics

Today there is great concern in the United Methodist Church over theological
diversity within the Christian Faith; can it be accommodated within
permissible boundaries of faith, or is it heresy? Must we understand the
New Testament literally, or may we understand it metaphorically? A literal
understanding invokes 1st century metaphysics, while a metaphorical
understanding may deny metaphysics, but accommodates 21st century reasoning.
A majority of members of Troy Conference are sympathetic with the idea that
diversity should be explored, and in 2000 created a Critical Issue Team to
explore theological diversity. Explorations have not yet been described.

On the other hand, for more than three decades and with wide publicity, an
informal organization of Methodists known as the "Good News Movement" has
been accusing The United Methodist Church of deserting scriptural integrity
by embracing theological diversity. They vigorously defend scriptural
integrity, and define it to require a literal reading of the New Testament
portion of the Bible as inspired revelation - the actual written Word of
God, which does not allow diversity.

As far back as 1975 United Methodism was seen to be a sick denomination.
Membership had declined by one million in seven years, and worship
attendance had declined proportionately. At that time Good News claimed this
condition to result from weak, ineffective ministerial leadership. Since
most ministers personal theology can be largely determined by knowing which
seminary they graduated from, and the decade they graduated, Good News was
convinced that our seminaries bore a major portion of the responsibility.
Their mantra seemed to be - we have sick churches largely because we have
sick seminaries.

The membership slide has continued up to the present time, but,
philosophically and theologically, not much else has changed since then. In
2001 a prominent Methodist pastor, the Rev. Robert W. Thornburg, dean of
Marsh Chapel at the Methodist-founded Boston University said "The
denomination has a serious split in identity between a more liberal clergy
and a more conservative laity. Acknowledging the diversity (that difference
between clergy and laity) is not particularly courageous - it's realistic.
There is a serious identity problem in the denomination as a whole."

In this case I believe the word liberal intends to indicate that clergy has
some reservations about a literal reading of biblical scripture. Good News
avers that the reservations are taught in seminary, and that opinion seems
to be widely accepted in Methodist circles. In one example, students at
Candler theological seminary complained that one professor openly declared
his disbelief in physical resurrection. An additional corroboration of the
clergy-laity split comes from the voting records of the several recent
General Conferences which suggest that a majority of delegates have
consistently supported the Good News positions.

I am personally aware of a substantial dissatisfaction among Methodist
pastors with some details presented in the biblical scriptures. In part this
awareness arose from my contact with pastors while I was a lay member of
Troy Conference some time ago. During my service on conference boards and
agencies, I had private conversations with many pastors, and in more than
half of these contacts pastors unexpectedly confided to me that they no
longer believed the stories of Jesus' virgin birth or physical resurrection,
as they are recorded in the Gospels.

Those pastors were closet dissenters from a literal reading of those
scriptural details. They preferred to read those details as metaphors. A
public admission of those - probably heretical - views could deleteriously
affect their professional future, so they stayed in the closet. It seems
apparent that those pastors do not preach those views from the pulpit,
otherwise their laity would ultimately come into agreement and we would not
have the existing separation of theological views between the pastorate and
the laity. This raises two important questions. What happened to the
pastors/seminaries to change their theological outlook? And why didn't the
same change take place in the laity? Answers to these questions should help
us to understand the theological diversity problem more completely. As the
search for answers begins I recognize that biased treatment might sometimes
occur because I am a 21ST century person. By being aware of the
possibility, I hope to avoid bias and deliver an even-handed discussion.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline requires unity among members in
accepting a Confession of Faith which is derived from a literal reading of
the New Testament portion of the Bible. The Book of Discipline also embraces
Wesley's familiar dictum "as to all opinions which do not strike at the root
(core) of Christianity, we think and let think." In other words Methodists
are free to explore theological diversity which does not involve scripture
derived from a literal reading of the Bible. That freedom is manifestly not
broad enough to cover the views of the closet-dwelling pastors.

In addition the Book of Discipline embraces Wesley's process for engaging in
theological reflections; the well known Wesley Quadrilateral. Scripture is
the primary authority, but other theological authorities include tradition,
experience, and reason. The following quotation from the Book of Discipline
seems inconsistent with the earlier requirement of unity and the Wesley
dictum. "By reason we relate our witness to the full range of human
knowledge, experience, and service. Since all truth is from God, efforts to
discern the connections between revelation and reason, faith and science,
grace and nature, are useful endeavors in developing credible and
communicable doctrine."

By relating our witness, our beliefs, to the full range of human knowledge,
experience, and service, we broaden our theological outlook well beyond the
Wesley limitations, and we commit to recognizing and accepting additional
Word of God as it continues to be revealed with the passing of time. In
effect the two underlined sentences above outline a process for bringing
Methodism fully into the 21st century, a process which almost certainly must
involve a broader theological diversity than Wesley envisioned. However, to
my knowledge that process has yet to be implemented to any significant

This situation got me interested in the subject of theological diversity,
and as a result, and somewhat later, I entered into a season of theological
reflection with the goal of identifying the central core of the difficulty
obstructing implementation of the process, and with the hope of possibly
discovering a path to an acceptable resolution. My reflections began with
three assumptions; that God exists; that God is the creator of the Cosmos;
and that God is unchanging; only our perceptions of God change. I imposed
no scriptural restraints on the explorations, lest that restraint might
unintentionally obscure from view the real core of the problem.

After considerable thought it occurred to me that the central core of the
problem might lie in the nature of religions in general. All religions
appear to have originated when some persuasive and strong-willed person with
mystical tendencies, believes, and reports to the public, that they have had
a contact experience with the spirit world. The nature and content of that
contact experience generally gives shape and form to the details of the new
religion, including scriptures which may evolve afterward for the guidance
of the religion's practitioners. This is not a common experience; is not a
natural experience; hence it is considered to be supernatural.
Metaphysical - beyond physics - is another word for describing these
mystical events.

No matter how persuasive, and strong-willed a mystic may be, and how
convincing his encounter with the spirit world may be, a new religion will
not result unless these encounter events are reported in a social setting
where they are appealing and believable to other people. Contacts with the
spirit world have to be convincing to others, and they must remain
convincing afterward as time passes. For that reason, as well as to give
authority, the religious scriptures which they produce are usually cloaked
with an aura of divine origin (1).

To scriptures having this aura of divine origin, the idea of change is
unthinkable. In reality, however, change in the Cosmos is pervasive and
unavoidable, as I have written many times before, including that tiny corner
of the Cosmos were humans live out their daily lives. Unchangeable
scriptures do not keep up with the changes which are inevitable in the
cosmos and in human societies. Unchangeable scriptures fall behind the
inevitable increase in knowledge which means they lose transcendence, and
therefore the right to be called Holy. Ultimately, to aware and rational
minds, that loss of transcendence causes them to lose significance. As they
lose significance they lose rational practitioners; they tend to wither

The names of the mystics who originated all of the major religions of the
world are readily available in the historical record. A partial list, from
my previous work (2), includes;

Saul/Paul of Tarsus (Christianity)

Mohammad (Islam)

Rumi Mevlani (Whirling Dervish Sufi)

Joseph Smith (Mormon)

Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science)

Charles Russell (Jehovah's Witnesses)

James Jones (Jonestown, Guyana commune)

David Koresh (Waco, Texas Commune)

The apostle Paul was the mystic who started the Christian religion as a
result of his encounter with the voice of Jesus as he, Paul, was traveling
on the Damascus Road. Paul's later writings suggest indirectly that he had
many additional mystical encounters as well. The Christian religion,
Christianity as it developed, appears to fit well with the descriptive
pattern of religions in general, as given in the preceding paragraphs,
particularly including the loss of Biblical transcendence and consequently
the right to be called Holy.

Paul was changed by that encounter on the Damascus Road, and that change
made his description of the encounter appealing to religious Gentiles. It
was also believable because, in Paul's time, in the first century A.D., it
was definitely a metaphysical world in which myth, magic, and miracles (the
3 M's) were readily accepted to be common every day events. Consequently
Christianity received a firm beginning from which it spread rapidly, and
from which a great wealth of 3M detail gradually emerged. To put it more
accurately, Christianity gradually adopted a great wealth of existing 3M
detail previously developed by other religions.

Beginning in the year 325 the Council of Nicaea selected, from a plethora of
candidate scriptural materials, a portion which contained that great wealth
of 3M detail, which was later canonized as the New Testament section of the
Holy Bible. The very end of that section quotes God as threatening to
deliver pestilence to anyone who makes additions to it, and damnation to
anyone who subtracts from it. That gives the Bible an aura of divine
protection and authority. Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is inspired by
God .," is another source which adds to the divine aura of the Bible.

I suggest that this aura of divine protection, authority, and authorship
surrounding the Bible is the core difficulty with theological diversity in
Christian churches, including the United Methodist Church. Therefore, to
deal with that difficulty, one must first deal with the aura. There is no
question about the full acceptance of the aura in the year 325, but there is
published opinion that a capitalist culture such as ours causes auras of all
kinds to decay (3). If that loss of reality is real it could generate the
degree of closet theological diversity that I encountered earlier. That
raises the question of how much reality that aura retains today in the 21st

Perhaps dealing with the individual components of the aura will help to
assess that possible erosion of aural reality. The word aura can have either
a physical or a metaphysical content depending on the nature of the subject
under consideration. In this case the subject, the Bible, is metaphysical, -
meaning beyond physical reality - and its aura carries a heavy load of
metaphysical implications. It implies inerrant communication from God to
man; the possession of ultimate truth; the validity, the social
acceptability, of the 3M events; a sole source for God's Word, the Bible;
and an unchanging nature for God's Word. We will discuss with each of these

Because these implications arose long ago in a time when the world condition
was perceived to be static or unchanging, the aura carries that added
implication. Then one can summarize the present situation by saying that the
biblical aura is attempting to bring a set of metaphysical static world
understandings forward in time from the fourth century to the 21st century
where there now exists a physical explanation to match each metaphysical
implication, and where change is perceived to be pervasive; where stasis
does not exist. However before we undertake a detailed comparison of the
metaphysical and the physical we need to add one important item to the
nature of the physical.

The 21st century is illumined principally by science and the myriad new
physical facts about the nature and structure of the Cosmos which it is able
to reveal. It is important here to understand that all science depends
completely upon the steadfastness of God. Science depends absolutely upon
the unchanging character and the unwavering application of the laws which
God established to rule the Cosmos. They are the only feature of the Cosmos
which remains unchanging. That steadfastness permits science to unveil a
continuing stream of new physical facts about the Cosmos. Since God is the
creator of the Cosmos, and since God is known, in part, through actions and
achievements attributed to God, these new facts about the Cosmos become
additions to the Word of God (4). Then, as a consequence, science is
properly understood to be a conduit for revealing Word of God. Science
brings forth Word of God that was previously concealed from our view as it
comprehends new details of the Cosmos through inspiration, experience,
experiment, reason, and logic.

Are the metaphysical implications of the biblical aura a part of God's Word?
Perhaps not exactly, but so closely that most religious people regard them
to be the de facto Word of God. Now when we compare the implications of the
aura with the physical facts of today, we recognize in them the equality of
a common origin; both have come from God. We recognize that we are comparing
the Word of God from two different eras in time; eras separated by two
millennia. Since both are from God divine preferences should not enter into
the process of making choices between the two, only human personal
preferences should be involved. This overt comparison of the Word of God
generated in two different eras in time is a novel experience which I
believe has not occurred before. This is truly unexplored territory; is
truly transcendent. I feel the presence of holiness and figuratively I take
off my shoes.

The first implication is that of inerrant communication from God to man. The
inerrant nature arises because the Gospel Scriptures are delivered not as
possibilities or probabilities, but instead as actual events and
conversations which actually did occur. 21st Century parallels to those
Gospel events have not been reported. The conclusion is that parallels have
not occurred. That does not mean to me that the voice of God has gone
silent. It still speaks to us but we do not recognize it because today it
does not sound like a human voice. It speaks to us as
revelations/inspirations received in the human brain.

Quoting now from some of my previous work (5), "the Creator's unique design
for the human species included the implanting of a communications link in
the right half of the human brain. Because ideas arise there spontaneously
due to the design of the brain, they are of the Creator." It could be
fairly called a direct hot line from the Creator; we are wired for
revelation/inspiration. Most of us recognize communications as our
inspirational thoughts, but in a slightly earlier stage of brain development
these revelational/inspirational thoughts sounded like voices, usually
understood to be the voice of God. That is the good news."

The bad news is that the communication we receive has an informational
content that is something our subconscious mind wants to hear. The
information is greatly conditioned by our mental preconditioning, that is by
the thoughts that we think just before the message arrives. Our mental
preconditioning is partly determined by our humanity, partly by our world
view, by our past experiences, as well as by the task immediately at hand.
At this point it appears that the Creator's message is always the same; is
always an invitation to think any inspirational thought that pleases you,
any inspirational thought at all, good inspirations, or bad inspirations.
This communication link may provide revelational/inspirational thought, yes,
but inerrant dictated content, no.

The second implication claims ultimate truth for the scriptures. If ultimate
truth exists in reality, I believe it must have a dual nature, a nature that
involves both freedom from error, and infinite longevity. Otherwise it
cannot meet the definition of ultimate. Biblical scripture does not meet
either condition. As one example of many, the gospels abound with
contradictory assertions; with apparent error (6). Infinite longevity doesn't
exist in the present setting where the later Word of God often appears to
alter or amend the metaphysically based Word of God recorded in Scriptures.

The third implication asserts the validity, the social acceptability, of the
3M events included in the Scriptures. The first century worldview is
replete with myths; stories wherein gods stroll the earth passing out
impulsive dispensations to ease physical problems of human supplicants.
Christianity is no exception. In addition unusual or very powerful people
were often deified. Aside from Scripture, this kind of myth no longer occurs
at all in everyday life in the 21st century; it is not acceptable.

Magic appears in biblical scripture in several ways. First of all God is
portrayed as a magician who creates almost instantly; the entire creation
took only six days. Secondly God is portrayed as a magician, or miracle
worker, who periodically and temporarily changes or suspends one or more of
the laws governing the Cosmos in order to permit an event such as walking on
water, or changing water into wine for example. Neither kind of magic is
believable in the 21st century. God's Word about evolution tells us today
that humans have developed through a series of very tiny incremental steps
over a period of many millions of years (7). Furthermore we have no evidence
today than at any of the laws governing the universe have ever been
temporarily suspended. Indeed those laws bear certain inter-relationships
which would likely spell disaster for the Cosmos if one were to be suspended
even temporarily. In addition temporary suspension of even one law would be
incompatible with God's steadfastness.

Notice that in the matter of God's steadfastness, God's Word from the
21st-century agrees with God's Word from the first century. This translates
to the fact that it God's laws governing the Cosmos never change.

In addition to the scriptural miracles which would require suspending one of
the physical laws of the cosmos, there are also scriptural miracles of
healing by the physical intervention of a divine individual. Some people
today still use the word miracle in reference to unexpected healing events,
but these are rare events and they occur in the absence of any visible
divine presence. Healing refers to the restoring to proper function of a
human living system, a system so complicated that humans have only a very
limited understanding of its operational details. We do know however that
chance plays a very important part in those operational details (4). Chance
plays a part in stable maintenance of well-being, in the onset of illness,
and in the recovery from illness - in healing. The Biblical healing miracles
are not distinguishable from chance recovery from illness events.

In brief summary now, each one of the 3M categories, myth, magic, and
miracles, have been shown to be non participants in the 21st-century world

The next element of implication in the Biblical aura is the claim that the
Bible is the only source for the Word of God. On the previous page I
explained how it comes about that science is actually a conduit for the Word
of God. So, now the Bible is no longer the sole source for the Word of God.

The last implication listed for the Biblical aura is the claim that God's
word is unchanging. That is true in the ultimate limit when it is fully
understood, but it is not true as it refers to Biblical scripture. The
arguments and explanations developed just previously indicate that Biblical
scripture is incomplete, and that God is continually augmenting and bringing
it closer to completion. So the science conduit helps bring us closer to
understanding God's (unchanging) intentions.

In final summary then, none of the Biblical aura which was accepted in the
first century worldview is accepted in the 21st century worldview. The
consequences are severe. In spite of the example set in the Old Testament,
the New Testament shut off the concept of continuing additions to God's
Word. In contradiction, other scriptures, rejected at Nicaea, have come to
light; have gained recognition as a part of the Word of God; and today
science is gaining recognition as a conduit for the Word of God. These
extra-Biblical sources for Words of God contest Biblical transcendence and
therefore the propriety of calling the Bible Holy. The Myth, Magic, and
Miracles, which are so prominent in the Gospels' are no longer a part of
life in a 21st century worldview. Similarly the concept of Ultimate Truth
has faded away, and with it faded the concept of inerrant communication
between God and man.

Those are the more recent Words of God, the hard facts of today. They do
contravene the fourth century aura of the Bible, and they do contravene the
metaphysical understanding of physical aspects of the natural world as
recorded in the Bible, and they do consequently contravene the propriety of
a literal reading of portions of the Bible, but they should not be
understood as contravening the significance of Christianity.

A few religious scholars have been able to fully embrace those new Words,
and propose a form of Christianity compatible with them (8). They create a
new aura for the Bible based on a metaphorical understanding of the Gospels;
an aura which restorers transcendence; an aura which restores the
designation of Holy. One should note here, however, that the future
continuing arrival of additional Word of God will likely require additional
changes in the understanding of Christianity.

Fully embracing those new Words, those hard facts, involves a great range of
theological diversity, and we have now discovered that to be a consequence
of the United Methodists Book of Discipline (UMBOD) where it requires us to
"relate our witness to the full range of human knowledge". Of course other
areas of the (UMBOD), which require a literal reading of the Bible, limit us
to a very, very, narrow range of theological diversity. Since I believe this
inconsistency to be unintended by any General Conference, I will not pursue
that subject further.

Based on the earlier allegations reported by the Good News Movement, I
conclude that many pastors, the ones called "liberal", evidently embrace
some portion of those more recent Words, while a majority of the laity,
those who read the Bible literally, must reject all of those newer Words. Is
that condition reasonable, or even rational, in 21st century America? How
is it explainable?

Now I have to admit that the aura of divine protection associated with the
Bible in the early centuries of Christianity was not the complete answer to
the problem with theological diversity that I had hoped for. However
working through the properties of that aura became the key that has led us
to the question which may itself complete the answer to the problem and is
now expressible in a form which we can recognize and which we can explain.

Restating the question: how is it explainable that pastors embrace some of
the more recent Words of God available in the 21st-century, but the majority
of the laity embrace none at all? I suggest that the major part of the
answer arises from the process by which we humans develop new knowledge, new
Word of God, in the 21st century.

It is the nature of scholarship and science never to claim absolute truth.
Science and scholarship deal only with present truth; that is truth which
represents our best current knowledge, but which is susceptible to later
modification by assimilating additional knowledge when it is later revealed.
It is the business of science and scholarship to be skeptical of present
truths, and to try to extend/improve them by a process usually beginning
with revelations/inspirations which lead to new discoveries.

That means that an initial discovery, after it is repeatedly confirmed by
other investigators, is often the basis for additional discoveries about the
same topic so that the body of information grows larger in repeated steps,
it evolves incrementally. At some point most of the investigators familiar
with the details of that topic will agree that the information that has been
uncovered is real; that the facts are truly real as they are presented. When
the investigators familiar with the details of the topic reach consensus
that the information is real, that is a crucial point, because that
consensus transforms that information into knowledge; at that point it
becomes Word of God.

Consensus is usually an imprecise diffuse process, drawn out over a
considerable period of time. There usually is no precise instant in time
when one can first declare, with certainty, that consensus has been
achieved. Because it is so nebulous to the people actually involved in
reaching consensus, the whole process is effectively concealed from public
view, not intentionally but simply for the lack of ombudsmen who can keep up
to date on the process for each topic under investigation and then alert the

What little contact the public does have with science, generally comes
through the print media. When significant new information is to be
published the media generally reports it using a standard format. First the
information is sensationalized as much as possible, and then a contrary view
is presented followed by the opinion that much more work is required to make
it useful. The media tries to create as much controversy as possible because
controversy boosts the sale of newspapers, but the result generally is
public confusion.

In addition to science, many other fields of scholarly learning also
contribute to our knowledge of present truth, and hence to the increasing
store of Word of God once they reach consensus. The scenario just outlined
for recognizing consensus in science operates in the same way in other
fields of scholarly learning to produce the same level of public confusion
about those subjects.

Of course consensus is simply a form of voting, and humans have always voted
to choose their theological principles. Christological orthodoxy was not
taught by Jesus, nor by Paul. Orthodoxy is decided within the community of
faith by voting, although the voting is usually carried out by church
leaders or scholars, and not by the general public. Perhaps the earliest
voting was done with Urim and Thumim; devices used by priests early in the
Old Testament to discover the will of God in particular cases. Consensus
came into first conspicuous use at the Council of Nicaea.

Unfortunately that first occasion is not a good example to imitate because
Emperor Constantine coerced consensus there by simply sending all dissenting
voters into exile; both physical and theological exile.

Since theological principles chosen by coerced consensus are naturally of
questionable significance, it is important that participating voters arrive
at consensus with a free conscience. People not connected to the consensus
process have no assurance that it was in fact a free conscience consensus
unless the process is drawn out over a very long period of time, and
involves very many voters, as usually happens.

The practical consequence of the diffuse nature of consensus is a public
which occasionally hears about the arrival of new information, but which is
completely unaware of the conversion of new information into new knowledge.
Still further, Methodist faith communities are largely unaware of the
instruction in the Book of Discipline which requires that our faith keep up
with new knowledge, which is also called new Present Truth; new Word of God.
I believe that the lack of awareness on those two levels is the main reason
that the laity still adheres to the fourth century view of the Bible. Some
level of scholarship is necessary for those who want to be aware, but it is
very rarely present.

This rather complete lack of awareness does not extend to all of the
professors in Methodist seminaries however. For the most part, professors
are scholars. Normally scholars are familiar with the consensus process and
the time variability on which it depends. Even so it is still quite
difficult for a scholar in one field (theology) to keep up with advances in
another field (science) and to know when a consensus has been reached in
that other field. Nevertheless some seminary professors do keep up with
science in a modest way through the media, and do become familiar with some
of the New Word of God. This completes our understanding and explanation of
how the theological differences between the clergy and laity do occur.

One additional factor deserves mention before we move to a conclusion. On
occasion some people prefer to ignore certain unpalatable facts and to live
their lives as though and those facts did not exist. That condition
doubtless operates to some extent in the minds of many laity people. Some
laity may see that attitude as protecting their faith in the fourth century
word of God. In support of this approach evangelist Charles Swindoll wrote:
"Attitude, to me, is more important than facts." In the mental arena where
facts are rejected or accepted, people will naturally tend to select facts
that they like. Author Margaret Attwood believes that people prefer stories
in which God is nearby rather than stories where God may be remote or absent

In summary one can say that any substantial degree of theological diversity
is a direct challenge to that part of the biblical aura which claims
ultimate truth. This essay could have ended much earlier by simply disputing
the existence of ultimate truth, then stopping at that point. Instead we
have explored the many variables necessary to a more complete understanding
of the theological diversity problem. The results of this assessment call
attention to the fact that, in addition to the Bible, we have multiple
additional sources for Word of God. They have produced newer, more recent,
Word but the laity is mostly unaware of it.

Unhappily this newer Word of God describes the Creation to be much different
from the metaphysical explanations for the Creation that were imagined by
the writers of the Bible. Notice, however, that this newer Word of God deals
only with physical aspects of Creation, but does not challenge the morality
teachings of the Bible, which remain pre-eminent.

The existence of new Word of God plus the continuing flow of additional new
Word of God, raises the question of whether to leave Methodist theology
completely determined by a first century worldview and understanding of
God's Word derived only from the Bible, or whether Methodist theology should
be advanced into a 21st century world view. If the choice is to advance to
the 21st century, to evolve the Methodist faith base from a first century
metaphysical plus moral view to a 21st century rational plus moral view,
then the question arises about how to accomplish that change.

In an ideal world "Our understanding of theological truths comes through
reasoning with our brothers and sisters in constant dialogue and inquiry."
(10) In the practical world of today, the brothers and sisters are all
limited in their access to the new Word of God, so the results can hardly be
satisfactory at the present time.

To make them more satisfactory, scholarship is required to deal with the
ongoing task of discerning the arrival of consensus for each of the
theologically important items as they arrive almost daily. The general
church should undertake the task of identifying new knowledge as it is
established by consensus, as it becomes Word of God, so that church members,
the brothers and sisters, may be authoritatively informed, and then can have
opportunity to incorporate the new Word of God into their "constant dialogue
and inquiry".

Once the brothers and sisters of the faith have been provided access to the
full range of Word of God, they still need to take one additional
preparatory action, they need to adopt a theological diversity outlook broad
enough to encompass all of the new Word of God. Then they will be adequately
equipped for the task of discerning theological truths through the process
of reasoning in constant dialogue and inquiry. Still further in the future,
when the new Word of God is embodied in scripture, the need for theological
diversity will disappear.

As long as the definition for Word of God remains in its present form,
scholarship and science will continue to provide a flow of extra-biblical
Word of God; new/recent Word of God not contained in the Bible. It is the
existence of this new/recent Word of God that creates an interest in
theological diversity. The impact of reason on the present theological scene
is the element which produces the need to exercise theological diversity.

The conclusion of this exploratory effort is that the exercise of
theological diversity which is limited to including recent Word of God; is
theologically correct; is presently necessary; and cannot be viewed as


(1) an aura is a general impression of the character of any particular
topic. It may be undesirable or desirable, repulsive or attractive, or any
degree between the two. In earlier centuries objects of religious veneration
usually had an aura of access to divine intervention.

(2) Carlyle "Kirk" Herrick, EXPLORING THE WORLD OF FAITH I, On The
Significance Of The Gospels, unpublished, 2/1/2006, pg 3.

(3) Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
1935/1936 essay, visit WIKIPEDIA for a summary.

(4) Carlyle "Kirk" Herrick, EXPLORING THE WORLD OF FAITH III The Quantum
Cosmos - God's Creation, unpublished 7/17/2006


unpublished, 3/18/2000 pg 3.

San Francisco 1992

(7) Carlyle :Kirk" Herrick, EXPLORING THE WORLD OF FAITH IV The Impact of
Evolution, unpublished, 9/15/2006 pg. 7

(8) John Shelby Spong, Eric Elnes, and Marcus J. Borg are the only ones
known to me. They propose a Christianity based on love of God, love of
others, and love of self.

(9) Excerpt: PBS NOVA program Faith vs. Reason, June 2006 Discussion of
spiritual beliefs. MARGARET ATWOOD
(Author): : We like the story with God in it better then we like the story
without God in it. Because it's more like us, it's more understandable, it's
more human. " BILL MOYERS: "More human with God?"
MARGARET ATWOOD: "More human with God because the story without God is about
atoms. It's not about somebody we can talk with in theory, or that has any
interest in us. So the universe without an intelligence in it has got
nothing to say to us. Whereas the universe, with an intelligence in it, has
got something to say to us because it's a mirror of who we are. "

(10) Rev John Edward Nuessle, GBGM, New World Outlook Sept./Oct. 2006, pg 7

Copywrite January 2007 by Carlyle S. Herrick, Box 5, 12 Bath St., Alplaus
NY 12008

Permission is granted to reproduce this manuscript wholly or in part with
appropriate attribution.