September 30, 2007

“This post comes from November of last year, and, with all the goings-on in the Episcopal Church and the upcoming day of reckoning it faces with its fellow churches in the Anglican Communion, it remains just as relevant today.”
– The Great White Shank

———————-

I’ve been meaning to complete this post for the past two weeks, ever since I read the sermon delivered by the newly-elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC), Katharine Jefferts Schori, at her November 4 investiture at Washington’s National Cathedral. The reason it has taken me so long to put this up is because I usually post what I feel most passionately about first, and put off completing posts I’m less interested in until I get to a point where I figure there’s nothing left to say. So, here it is.

I suppose that in itself says a lot about my feelings about TEC, its new PB, and the sermon she kicked off her tenure with. First off, I do feel it struck a number of right chords both thematically and theologically with its emphasis on personal ministry – feeding, healing, comforting, welcoming, etc. those in our midst and the world we live in – as our own personal expression of “shalom” and “fulfilling the scripture”, as Jesus’ proclamation in the Temple (Luke 4:16-21) attests to …

There’s a wonderful Hebrew word for that vision and work – shalom. It doesn’t just mean the sort of peace that comes when we’re no longer at war. It’s that rich and multihued vision of a world where no one goes hungry because everyone is invited to a seat at the groaning board, it’s a vision of a world where no one is sick or in prison because all sorts of disease have been healed, it’s a vision of a world where every human being has the capacity to use every good gift that God has given, it is a vision of a world where no one enjoys abundance at the expense of another, it’s a vision of a world where all enjoy Sabbath rest in the conscious presence of God. Shalom means that all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation. …To say “shalom” is to know our own place and to invite and affirm the place of all of the rest of creation, once more at home in God.

..And while she invokes the concept of “shalom” to convey this vision of peace and abundance for all, she could have just as easily invoked the Christian baptismal covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself”, and, to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” (p. 305, The Book of Common Prayer). No matter, her language still underscores our calling as Christians to transform the world around us by exemplifying the One we call the Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. The PB’s words also provide a healthy reminder to Episcopalians (and non-Epicopalians) of the Hebrew tradition Christianity evolved out of – something I’m glad to see from the person called and elected to lead our little corner of the Christian faith.

That being said, there’s really nothing here to feel passionate about, nothing any different than you might hear from the pupit of your local parish on any given Sunday. Beyond that, she personally lost me when she reverted to “Episco-speak” by bringing up the Church’s “Millennium Development Goals” initiative – a 3-year program seeking to achieve “global reconciliation” (whatever that means) and relieve global poverty approved at this year’s General Convention (my boldings):

This church has said that our larger vision will be framed and shaped in the coming years by the vision of shalom embedded in the Millennium Development Goals – a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, the young educated, women and men treated equally, and where all have access to clean water and adequate sanitation, basic health care, and the promise of development that does not endanger the rest of creation. That vision of abundant life is achievable in our own day, but only with the passionate commitment of each and every one of us. It is God’s vision of homecoming for all humanity.

The ability of any of us to enjoy shalom depends on the health of our neighbors.

Uh huh. Putting aside for a moment the laudable goals of the MDG initiative (goals which, BTW, are not only vague, but unquantifiable, thereby rendering them irrelevant as achievable organizational goals – something any institution worth its salt would understand and never agree to were it success-oriented), I can’t help but wonder if the PB’s passion for “the health of our neighbors” extends to the health of the very institution and its 2.2 million members she has been called upon to lead. And I’m not alone.

When Titus Online, an orthodox blog I occasion from time to time, posted the PB’s speech, I wasn’t surprised at the visceral negative reaction by most who chose to comment afterwards. What did surprise me, however, was how one commenter, “Maryland Brian”, seemed able to articulate in his own way my exact thoughts when he wrote:

This is actually pretty funny if you let yourself see the humor in it. All the wonderful talk about bring[ing] peace to the world … from a denomination that’s disappearing at an alarming rate, that’s [w]racked with internal strife, and may well be shown the door by the anglican communion or, if not shown the door, the bulk of the orthodox anglicans in the world will walk out anyway. Who is she kidding? What’s a larger vision from a statisticially insignificant “club?” Ho ho ho … ha ha ha … the irony is astounding.

All in the name of peace and through effort[s] to empower the goals of a corrupt, ineffective international organization. This is just priceless stuff.

You know, ever since I’d first read the PB’s sermon, I couldn’t figure out why, even though I appreciated both its prose and overall message, there was something about it that bothered me. And it wasn’t until I read “MB’s” comment that I finally figured it out: what bothered me was not its vision, nor even its absurd idea that humankind, taking its lead from the Episcopal Church, could, on its own, before God’s time, make such a vision reality by embracing the concept of “shalom” (or, my preference, “aloha”, which derives from it). Rather, it was the sheer arrogance and the audacity that lie unstated behind her words:

* The arrogance that the Church she represents is so high-minded, so principled, so prosperous, and so united behind this vision that it doesn’t have time for such trivial annoyances as the fact that every week across the U.S. comes news of yet another parish or two leaving their dioceses, or a diocese suing one of its parishes or facing financial trouble, or a bishop deposing yet another orthodox priest, or another diocese either requesting alternative episcopal oversight or threatening to leave the Church entirely.

* The audacity to think that a tiny Protestant denomination, once the proud manifestation of Anglicanism in the U.S. and one that claims no less than eleven former U.S. presidents in its past, a denomination now hemorrhaging membership like a sieve and virtually coming apart at the seams following the consecration of an openly-gay, non-celibate bishop (the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire) two years ago, in real danger of being reduced to “crazy aunt” status in the worldwide Anglican Communion, thinks it can speak from a position of authority on what “shalom”, “reconciliation” and “abundant life” would mean for the world.

——————-

While it is true we Episcopalians have spent far too much time focusing on the significant issues that divide the “progressives” and “orthodox” in our midst, and too little actively striving to bring about, in our own way, the Luke passage Jefferts Schori bases her sermon upon, one has to be careful about crossing the line between vision and rhetoric, and parody. And, in this regard, the PB falls victim to the “purple arrogance” of her position in her audacity to think that a Church so dysfunctional and fractured will simply suck it up and go marching forward to cloak the world in a spirit of “shalom”, inspired by her message and lofty rhetoric.

…Or maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it’s her own private view that the train is leaving the station bound for that glorious, MDG-driven destination with those who share her vision of diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance, and for those who don’t, well, they’ll just have to find their own train. And maybe it’s her own private view that in this “homecoming for all humanity”, the only prodigal sons to be welcomed home to feast on the fatted calf are those who share her progressive view of the human condition, and the new traditions and teachings her Church is striving towards.

If that’s the case, well, so be it, and maybe it’s better that way. Perhaps the PB shares my view that the toothpaste has long since squirted out of the tube, so to speak, and there’s no putting it back in again. Perhaps she agrees that all the hard feelings, conflicts, and dissent have for too long kept us Episcopalians from working the fields so ripe for harvesting, and it’s time for everyone to either fish or cut bait. Me, I’ve long since stopped caring about what TEC does. Whatever happens is fine by me – I’ll just keep searching for that spiritual home where I can feel comfortable and find nourishment for my soul.

While Jefferts Schori’s sermon on the surface appeals to the dreamer in us all, it is an insult to the intelligence of those who love their church, still care about its survival, and hate to see it disintegrating before their very eyes because of those who choose to ignore the truly desperate straits it finds itself in. If the PB would rather make her vision of achieving “shalom in our time” the focus of her ministry rather than the health of the institution she is charging to help her make that vision reality, more power to her. Just don’t expect me to get all worked up about it – I’ve got more important spiritual exercises to attend to.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:11 | Comments (0)
September 29, 2007

“The Great White Shank,
The Great White Shank,
Nobody listens to The Great White Shank”

Goodboys Nation nursery rhyme

“The following was a post I put up a year ago September. Given all her failures and frustrations this year, all I can say is, “Hey Michelle, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But that’s OK, you’re not alone – nobody listens to The Great White Shank.”
– The Great White Shank

————————

wie So, teenage golf phenom Michelle Wie once again “barely” misses the cut competing in yet another men’s tournament – this time, shooting a 78-79 and finishing last in the field at the Omega European Masters.

And she’s “shocked”, shocked, I tell ya, that she played so badly:

Wie, who has now missed the cut in nine of her 10 attempts at taking on the men, said: “I’m still in shock. I didn’t know what sport I was playing.

“I couldn’t get any of my shots to go but things like today don’t scare me away. It makes me more motivated.”

She added that she was looking forward to the return of her coach, David Leadbetter.

“We have a lot of work to do!”

Wie added: “You have got to learn how to play men’s tournaments by playing men’s tournaments. If I just play women’s events I will just get better at women’s events.

Note to Michelle: “Denial” is a not just a river in Egypt. You see, I watched your play on TV the past two nights, and I hope you’ll listen to me when I tell you that you were in way, WAY over your head. You didn’t just play badly out there, Michelle, your play was A-B-Y-S-M-A-L. And take it from me, I know abysmal when I see it – heck, I live abysmal out on the golf course. (You don’t get a nickname like “The Great White Shank” whacking smooth darts from one end of the course to another and dropping putts like cats having kittens.)

Kinda reminds me of that priceless scene from the movie “Tin Cup” with Don Johnson (as David Sims) and Kevin Costner (Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy) at the bar following their first round at the U.S. Open :

SIMS: “Hello, Cup. I heard you put a monster number up there…”

TIN CUP: “…Could have been worse.”

SIMS: “You know, I played in a pro-am once with some asshole movie star, shot an 82… Tell me, how did a great ball-striker like you – a `legend’ – manage to shoot an 83?

TIN CUP: “Well, I missed a 4-foot putt on eighteen for an 82, that’s how…”

Now that’s funny. But what I saw the last two nights, Michelle – well, that wasn’t funny at all. I saw those quack hooks, you swinging out of your shoes, trying to hit drives like the big boys. I saw the ungodly positions you left yourself in, and your unwillingness to just take your medicine and what the course gave you. Instead, you tried to muscle your way around it and attempt finesse shots when smart” and “safe” should have been the order of the day. In short, you tried to match your male competitors shot for shot, and failed miserably. And you know why? ‘Cause you’re a 16-year old girl, that’s why.

No offense, Michelle, but I’m starting to get a little weary of all this men’s tournament crap when you haven’t even won on the women’s tour yet. And I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that every time you go out there and miss cuts shooting 78s and 79s, all you’re doing is taking slots away from male players who are just as capable as you are at going out there and stinking up the joint like you did these past two days.

At one time, you were a curiosity, an intrigue. Now, you’re starting to come across as a stubborn, spoiled teenager with little respect for the game or the professionals who play it. If your coach David Leadbetter had any sense, he’d sit you down and tell you about how the real world works out there. You see, just because you have all the talent in the world and a bright future ahead of you, that doesn’t by itself make you a winner. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself out there all by your lonesome some day, scorned by the men who won’t see you as some gifted teenager but as someone trying to take one of their paychecks, and by the women who won’t have anything to do with you because, whether intentionally or not, by pursuing fame and fortune in men’s events you’ve dissed their tour and all the hard work they’ve done to make it a success.

Listen to your Uncle Shank, cherie: go back to school and then to college, and enjoy your time as a young woman. Play some regular women’s tournaments and build yourself up a resume that includes some victories. Then, when you’re older, if you want to compete with the big boys, do so from invitations that reflect that resume, not from your ability to attract attention. Believe me, if you do this, you’ll be a lot happier (and a lot more successful) in the long run. If you don’t, you’re risking further ridicule and becoming a has-been before you’ve learned how to drive something other than golf balls.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:08 | Comments (2)

“The Great White Shank,
The Great White Shank,
Nobody listens to The Great White Shank”

Goodboys Nation nursery rhyme

“The following was a post I put up a year ago September. Given all her failures and frustrations this year, all I can say is, “Hey Michelle, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But that’s OK, you’re not alone – nobody listens to The Great White Shank.”
– The Great White Shank

————————

wie So, teenage golf phenom Michelle Wie once again “barely” misses the cut competing in yet another men’s tournament – this time, shooting a 78-79 and finishing last in the field at the Omega European Masters.

And she’s “shocked”, shocked, I tell ya, that she played so badly:

Wie, who has now missed the cut in nine of her 10 attempts at taking on the men, said: “I’m still in shock. I didn’t know what sport I was playing.

“I couldn’t get any of my shots to go but things like today don’t scare me away. It makes me more motivated.”

She added that she was looking forward to the return of her coach, David Leadbetter.

“We have a lot of work to do!”

Wie added: “You have got to learn how to play men’s tournaments by playing men’s tournaments. If I just play women’s events I will just get better at women’s events.

Note to Michelle: “Denial” is a not just a river in Egypt. You see, I watched your play on TV the past two nights, and I hope you’ll listen to me when I tell you that you were in way, WAY over your head. You didn’t just play badly out there, Michelle, your play was A-B-Y-S-M-A-L. And take it from me, I know abysmal when I see it – heck, I live abysmal out on the golf course. (You don’t get a nickname like “The Great White Shank” whacking smooth darts from one end of the course to another and dropping putts like cats having kittens.)

Kinda reminds me of that priceless scene from the movie “Tin Cup” with Don Johnson (as David Sims) and Kevin Costner (Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy) at the bar following their first round at the U.S. Open :

SIMS: “Hello, Cup. I heard you put a monster number up there…”

TIN CUP: “…Could have been worse.”

SIMS: “You know, I played in a pro-am once with some asshole movie star, shot an 82… Tell me, how did a great ball-striker like you – a `legend’ – manage to shoot an 83?

TIN CUP: “Well, I missed a 4-foot putt on eighteen for an 82, that’s how…”

Now that’s funny. But what I saw the last two nights, Michelle – well, that wasn’t funny at all. I saw those quack hooks, you swinging out of your shoes, trying to hit drives like the big boys. I saw the ungodly positions you left yourself in, and your unwillingness to just take your medicine and what the course gave you. Instead, you tried to muscle your way around it and attempt finesse shots when smart” and “safe” should have been the order of the day. In short, you tried to match your male competitors shot for shot, and failed miserably. And you know why? ‘Cause you’re a 16-year old girl, that’s why.

No offense, Michelle, but I’m starting to get a little weary of all this men’s tournament crap when you haven’t even won on the women’s tour yet. And I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that every time you go out there and miss cuts shooting 78s and 79s, all you’re doing is taking slots away from male players who are just as capable as you are at going out there and stinking up the joint like you did these past two days.

At one time, you were a curiosity, an intrigue. Now, you’re starting to come across as a stubborn, spoiled teenager with little respect for the game or the professionals who play it. If your coach David Leadbetter had any sense, he’d sit you down and tell you about how the real world works out there. You see, just because you have all the talent in the world and a bright future ahead of you, that doesn’t by itself make you a winner. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself out there all by your lonesome some day, scorned by the men who won’t see you as some gifted teenager but as someone trying to take one of their paychecks, and by the women who won’t have anything to do with you because, whether intentionally or not, by pursuing fame and fortune in men’s events you’ve dissed their tour and all the hard work they’ve done to make it a success.

Listen to your Uncle Shank, cherie: go back to school and then to college, and enjoy your time as a young woman. Play some regular women’s tournaments and build yourself up a resume that includes some victories. Then, when you’re older, if you want to compete with the big boys, do so from invitations that reflect that resume, not from your ability to attract attention. Believe me, if you do this, you’ll be a lot happier (and a lot more successful) in the long run. If you don’t, you’re risking further ridicule and becoming a has-been before you’ve learned how to drive something other than golf balls.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:08 | Comments (2)
September 28, 2007

A break in the stream of older posts to simply say that today is Tracey’s and my 21st anniversary. We spent our first in Bermuda, at the wonderful Grotto Bay Beach Resort, and we’re doing it again 21 years later. Happy anniversary, my lovely wife!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:56 | Comments (3)
September 26, 2007

“I think this post from this past April is expecially relevant given the latest news that Hillary Clinton is going to the well one more time for universal health care. If anyone out thinks she’s putting forth this plan out of some great compassion she has for the American people, I want some of what you’re smokin’. She’s nothing but a conniving Socialist attempting to turn this country into one huge nanny-state based on the European model. And y’know what’s worse than that? There are people out there who support this drivel and will vote for her!”
The Great White Shank

——————————

hill You’ve got to hand it to Hillary Clinton – she’s never met a disaffected minority she didn’t rush to pander to whenever it was politically expedient for her to do so. Take last week, for example – Hillary had herself quite a time chasing after potential votes in the African-American community with all the moxie and zeal of an bonafide ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer. Disgraced radio talk-jock Don Imus had barely had time to start cleaning out his office before Hillary was at Rutgers University to support the women’s basketball team following Imus’ well-publicized comments that ultimately led to his firing.

Lest one accuse Madame Hillary of piling on the Destroy Imus bandwagon, there might have been some genuine empathy on her part for the feelings of the Rutgers girls – after all, as Polipundit’s Michael Illions notes, she’s had prior experience in this area.

The words “fraud” and “hypocrite” don’t even begin to describe Hillary Clinton and the lengths this self-absorbed, unabashedly ambitious egomaniac will go to ingratiate herself to the American public. Does anyone doubt there must have been a pretty strong debate behind the scenes amongst her campaign advisers as to whether she should show up at Virginia Tech to lend her support and compassion to the students there? I don’t. Perhaps even she felt a stunt like that would be over the line. But don’t doubt for a moment the idea didn’t cross her mind once or twice. After all, when it come to pure chutzpah, Hillary takes the cake.

Don’t believe me? Remember her country-fried schtick last month in Selma, Alabama? Well, we got another taste of it during her smarmy address to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference this past weekend. Born in Illinois? Educated at Wellesley? Naw….this is just a down-home, backwoods raised, country chile. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

Question: Does Hillary really think she can get away with such an obviously transparent, pandering act? Can you imagine what would happen if, say, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did the same thing? Why, she’d be absoluteley skewered by the mainstream dino-media!

And it’s not me thinking this same kind of thing. This from the great Victor David Hanson (Hat tip: Michelle):

“When I walk into the Oval Office in 2009, I’m afraid I’m going to lift up the rug and I’m going to see so much stuff under there. You know, what is it about us always having to clean up after people?”

So spoke Senator Clinton in a pseudo-southern drawl to a largely black audience assembled under the aegis of Al Sharpton.

…Will anyone ever become offended that Senator Clinton serially now drops her Wellesley nasal tones to affect a condescending drawl in the presence of African-Americans, as if blacks all speak in a southern slang?

And does “us always having to clean up after people” suggest — Howard Dean-like — that she assumes an assembly of black leaders is paramount to domestic workers?

And speaking of lifting rugs and finding “stuff under there”: Does she realize that image of surprises lurking in the White House private quarters immediately evokes Hillary’s mysterious billing records of the Rose Law firm — under court subpoena but strangely missing for two years — that abruptly “turned up” in the “book room” in the personal residence of the White House? And as I recall Ms. Clinton was the first First Lady to testify in front of a grand jury.

Why would an obviously intelligent and supposedly sophisticated politician resort to such cheap and obviously transparent stunts? First of all, because she knows she can get away with it. But, more importantly, I think, she knows her campaign is in trouble and she’s doing whatever she can to solidify her political base (actually, her husband’s political base). Anyone who doubts this must have missed Hillary’s announcement over the weekend that, were she elected President, she’s planning on dragging out ol’ Bill to be her ‘roving anmbassador’.

And lookee here at this – if you believe the polls (and I don’t, but so what?), Obama’s pulled even with her among Democrats likely to vote.

As I’ve said before, you’ll be able to tell how much trouble Hillary’s campaign is in by the amount of times she invokes The Cheater in speeches and press releases. She knows how unpopular she is, and needs to do whatever she can to steer the conversation away from her personally and back to the so-called “good old days” of her husband’s Presidency.

As if that’s a legacy anyone would want to wrap themselves around…

But this is Hillary Clinton, and it’s the White House she’s after. So nothing she says or does should surprise anyone anymore.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:37 | Comments (0)
September 25, 2007

“This post from March 2006 is, to my mind, just as relevant today. If you want to see some race-card playing and some race-baiting, just wait until the 2008 Presidential campaign gets into full swing earlier next year. The hypocrisy from the Democrats promises to be mind-numbing…”
The Great White Shank

———————-

Listening to Laura Ingraham this morning talking about this Washington Post article about certain African-American reactions to the Oscar-winning song and performance of “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. Seems those interviewed in the article feel its yet another example of Hollywood seemingly searching out the worst in African-American culture:

“It was just like during the time when all the blaxploitation films were coming out with African Americans being portrayed as pimps and hos and gangsters,” said [Juaquin] Jessup, 51.

“It was another example of how they pick the worst aspects of black life and reward that. There are more important things in our culture that need focus more than the hardships of a pimp,” he said. “The only place many people see our culture is through movies and on television, and at the same time, this country is experiencing an influx of people coming over here from all over the world, and the only thing they see of black America through the media is . . . pimps and gangsters and all of that. It’s always some low-down brother or some welfare mother.”

Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here, but Mr. Jessup is alluding to something I’ve felt passionately about for a long time – that the primary mouthpieces of “progressive thinking” in this country: the Democrats, liberalism in general, the mainstream media, and the Hollywood entertainment industry are no friend to African- Americans. In fact, I would submit that liberalism in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, in fact do everything they can to keep African-Americans dependent on the federal and state entitlement programs upon which they base and seek to further their entire political philosophy and activism. Consider these questions:

1) Which minority suffers most from the abysmal quality of education doled out by failing inner-city public schools? The answer: African-Americans.
Yet, what party is so beholden to the public teachers unions that they’ll do anything and everything to prevent public funding for private education choices through the use of vouchers? The answer: Democrats.

2) Which minority suffers most from the breakdown of the family unit, where 70% of African-American children are born out of wedlock? The answer: African-Americans.
Yet, which party would be the first to come out against any effort to strengthen the institution of marriage as defined between a man and a woman, and, in fact, through aligned organizations like the ACLU, actively seek to undermine and undercut it every chance it gets through legislation and cries of “constitutional separation of church and state”? The answer: Democrats.

Now, let’s turn the tables on these arguments a little bit…

3) Which political party is primarily responsible for the whopping $7 trillion has been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson declared his “war on poverty” 40 years ago? The answer: Democrats.
Yet, which minority – despite the 80 or so poverty-related programs on which the government spends in the neighborhood of $500 billion annually – has seen no measurable improvement in structural poverty during that very same period? The answer: African-Americans.

4) According to a nationwide study released by the nonpartisan Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR), what is the so-called “political leaning” of those US cities most dominated by impoverished urban populations? The answer: Liberal.
And, in these cities considered to be “most liberal”, what is the most common (in fact, overwhelmingly so) racial demographic found in the majority of their urban populations? The answer: African-American.

Now I’m not saying here that the problem of structural poverty amongst African-Americans in the US is either easily understood or, more importantly, easily rectified. What I am saying, however, is that liberalism in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, is not, nor has it ever been, a friend of African-Americans seeking to find solutions to the highly-complex problems they face both economically and culturally in this society. What I am doing is accusing the Democratic Party, its leadership, and its aligned interests (i.e., government employees, labor unions, the ACLU, and the NAACP, particularly) of wanting to do nothing to change the status quo and using their cohorts in the mainstream media to help demonize those who seek alternative strategies and approaches by playing the race card whenever they can.

You see, rather than being truly interested in finding ways to reduce poverty in the black community and develop strategies that reduce dependency on government programs and promote alternative approaches through free-market solutions and self-empowerment, the groups I’ve mentioned above seek only to reinforce and further institutionalize government social programs so the public rolls can be padded with more constituents and more government employees necessary to staff these bloated programs. Why would they want to do such a thing, you might ask? So that one day – and I think we’re getting closer all the time – there will be more public sector employees and constituents dependent on increased federal and state spending for social programs than there will be private sector employees and free market capitalists, making the whole thing a self-perpetuating organism where elections do nothing but reinforce the very structure they were originally designed to challenge and question.

At the risk of playing my own race card, I accuse the Democratic Party and the liberal/socialist/”progressive” philosophy it espouses to be nothing more than a 21st century plantation owner wanting to keep those down on the farm enslaved to him and increasingly dependent on him until they are no longer able to speak or think for themselves.

It almost worked.

Fortunately, as Polipundit’s Lorie Byrd wrote last week, there are signs that, increasingly, African-Americans are beginning to realize that they have long been taken for granted by institutional liberalism and the Democratic Party, and may be at least open to considering, if not the Republican Party directly, the philosophies it (and conservatism in general) stands for as a intriguing alternative to the status quo. Take her excerpt from a Washington Times article on what’s going on down in Maryland:

Black voters’ loyalty to the Democratic Party is no longer a certainty in Maryland, especially among young independent voters, several black leaders say.

“We might be the last generation of unabashed loyalists to the Democratic Party,” state Senate Majority Leader Nathaniel J. McFadden of Baltimore says. “The Democratic Party is no longer a monolith for the African-American community.”

Black political, business and religious leaders say a shift is occurring, especially among young voters who are less concerned with civil rights and more attentive to economic issues.

She concludes:

This story focuses on Maryland, but the trend is not limited to that state. As long as the Republican party can communicate their message on the economy, school choice and social issues, and they can recruit candidates like [MD senatorial candidate Michael] Steele and [PA gubernatorial candidate and former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn] Swann, I see the trend continuing. Kanye West and the other fear and hate mongers can only fool just so many people for just so long.

If true, you can bet this trend would be Jesse Jackson’s, Howard Dean’s, and the Democratic Party’s absolute worst nightmare. Given the closeness of the last two presidential elections, any loss of their core constituency in electoral vote-rich battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota would spell doom for even the most centrist of Democratic candidates.

More importantly, it would portend a reversal of thinking of the past fifty years – that you can outspend poverty and defeat it through increased government spending, and that social programs trump the basic human need for self-reliance, self-motivation, and self-determinism in a free market economy and free-thinking society. For an African-American community starved to find it’s own unique identity and place in 21st century America and determine its own future here, that can only be a good thing.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:45 | Comments (2)
September 23, 2007

“This post from a year ago August is one of my favorites, as it tries to describe the feelings I have about life in the Church and my bittersweet experiences with it.”
The Great White Shank

————————–

A confession right up front: I love the Church and the feeling that comes with going to church, even though my relationship with it has seen its fair share of turbulance and trouble over the years.

I’m not talking here about the Church as a single entity or congregation or parish. And I’m not talking Protestant or Catholic, either: Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic, over the years I’ve attended and preached in enough parishes to more than get the gist of just about everything and anything each stands for in its own history, theology, and worship traditions.

So many times I’ve walked into a church – it doesn’t matter what denomination or whether I’m a member or not – and immediately felt God’s presence surround and envelop my senses. Sometimes its from something as simple as the architecture or light through stained glass; other times it’s a kind of “sixth sense” radiating through the building’s history (good and bad), traditions, or simply the way God feels present there. I’ve often thought about trying to put into exact words how and why this happens, but I guess that’s why the Church has its mystics like Julian of Norwich and St. John of the Cross to put into words the longing and completeness one’s soul can experience whenever present in the house and worship of the Lord.

But this doesn’t mean checking your brain at the door and seeing the Church through rose-colored glasses. Quite the contrary.

Thirteen years ago, God called me to be a priest in his Church, a calling that led me to journeys and places I could never have believed possible. Unfortunately, whether through some fault of my own or the Church’s own fallible internal workings, things didn’t work out too well and the calling was shelved. And I’ll admit it: the Church’s rejection is one I still feel keenly. Yet, over time, I’ve come to realize that in these kinds of things there’s no one to blame – you just have to learn to accept it and find a way to move on. One of my favorite contemporary writers, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, has written about this very thing – that people often seem to expect the fallible human beings and institutions in their lives to be, well, not human at all rather than accepting and coping with their imperfections.

This past Saturday, I had been listening to some classic, summertime Beach Boys music prior to attending Mass at St. Anne Catholic Church. After taking my place in a pew, I found myself contemplating the journey that had brought me there, and suddenly the very same words I had heard Brian Wilson sing to a lover in his song “Please Let Me Wonder” just minutes earlier found their own special relevance and poignancy within my own heart. For him, they communicated the longing and desire he felt in a physical sense to a lover; to me, it communicated everything I felt in my heart and soul to the Church:

Now here we are together
This would’ve been worth waiting forever
I always knew it’d feel this way
And please forgive my shaking
Can’t you tell my heart is breaking?
Can’t make myself say what I planned to say

Baby, please let me wonder
(If I’ve been the one you love)
Please let me wonder
(If I’m who you’re dreaming of)
Please let me wonder, love

I built all my goals around you
That some day my love would surround you
You’ll never know what we’ve been through
For so long I thought about it
And now I just can’t live without it
This beautiful image I have of you

Baby, please let me wonder
(If I’ve been the one you love)
Please let me wonder
(If I’m who you’re dreaming of)
Please let me wonder, love

Wilson’s lyrics express the tension that exists between the sensual and actual, and the dream of a “beautiful image” that may or may not exist in reality. Nevertheless, love is the mystery and the motivation, and it is the very mystery and motivation of God’s love and presence that I find at the core of my own longing and desire for intimacy with God through His Church. This is not to say that the Church is only means by which one can experience God’s presence, but it is the only place where God can be experienced both physically and symbolically through the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.

To those who have suffered hurt, disenchantment, or disillusionment with the Church due to its many failings, I can only say that while it may be imperfect, the One it serves and seeks to emulate (no matter how much it might fall short in that regard) – is perfect, and revealed in the wonder and majesty of God’s boundless love for us all. Because we know ourselves, our failings, and our faults all to well, we might ask how such a love is possible, yet it is in that very question where the true wonder lies.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments (0)
September 22, 2007

Today my lovely wife and I head for the East Coast, first to spend a couple of days with my folks, then five days in beautiful Bermuda, followed by a day in lovely Newport, RI, and finally, a couple more days with my folks before we return home.

In my absence, I thought it might be interesting to re-visit some of my favorite Goodboys Nation posts since I started blogging at this location a year and a half ago. (Yes, it has been that long!) Hopefully, if you’re a fairly new visitor to this site, you’ll find them interesting. If you’re a long-time frequenter here, perhaps these posts will be just as fun, entertaining, and/or informative as they were when they were originally posted. And just to let you know I’m not just tossing things up there, I’ve added a little introduction to each one to give it some unique current flavor. Some are fun, some are serious, but either way, I hope you enjoy them.

I’ll be back for real-live posting on Wednesday, October 3. Until then, don’t be a stranger, and I’ll see y’all on the flip-flop.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments (3)

Speaking about Hillary Clinton’s latest healthcare plan – one that even The Socialist admits might one day require people to have health care before they can even apply for a job – GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson had this to say:

“What is it that makes liberals think the best way to help somebody is to punish them?

“I understand Hillary Clinton has just acknowledged that her new health care plan could require somebody to actually prove they’ve got insurance before they can get a job. You know, a job – the thing that would help you get health care. That kind of mindset is that the government knows best and if you don’t agree, then you’re just going to have to pay for it, one way or the other. The best way to improve the best health care in the world, which is what we’ve got right here in the United States, is to expand choice, not punishment.

“To some Democrats, choice to them is like a cross is to a vampire – they don’t like to see it coming down the road. Hillary says, don’t worry about it – the punishment – because the exact punitive measures they’d come up with would be worked out by congress. That’s a thought scary enough to make you sick.”

IN-deed.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:49 | Comments (0)
September 21, 2007

sally “And, let’s face it, if the mothers ruled the war, there would be no (expletive) wars in the first place.”
– actress Sally Fields, at the 2007 Emmy Awards

——————

Hear about actress Sally Field making another fool of herself during her acceptance speech at The Emmy Awards the other night?

Accepting her Emmy on Sunday night for lead actress in a drama series (“Brothers and Sisters”), Field stumbled halfway through, lost her train of thought, screeched at the audience to stop applauding so she could finish talking — and then was bleeped by Fox censors as she stammered through an anti-war rant.

“And, let’s face it, if the mothers ruled the war, there would be no (expletive) wars in the first place,” Field said, but Fox cut away for much of her comment.

Just another glittering example of how, no matter how talented Hollywood performers like Ms. Fields might be, it doesn’t hide the fact beneath all that plastic surgery they’re as dumb as a stone.

You know, I’ve heard that stupid and inane comment numerous times before – about how if mothers ruled the world there’d be no wars. A total bull$hit line if you ask me. How can anyone expect mothers to effectively rule the world when they can’t even control their children out in public! One weekend afternoon visit to your local supermarket, or an airport terminal on any given day of the week will tell you that! Maybe there won’t be any wars fought after all; countries will just nag each other to death!

And just so you know it’s not only the guys out there that are the warmongers, there’s this priceless story from a few years back. And, of course, this one as well.

So I’ve got four words of advice for you, Sally. Shut up and just act! Otherwise, you’ll just keep making a fool of yourself. And don’t think it’s just me who feels this way – check this out!

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments (2)

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