Friday, December 19, 2008

Barack and Rick

So it seems many in the gay community are incensed at Obama that he would ask Pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer in January.

Isn't this a bit disingenuous?

Obama and Warren sharply differ on key issues, namely abortion. Yet, both men are big enough to put those differences aside for a greater good, namely, the swearing in of a new President and the recognition of a milestone event.

This is classical tolerance, not the modern version of "I'll tolerate only what I agree 100% with." That isn't tolerance, that's agreement. Tolerance is living with things you don't like, or agree with, but recognizing a greater call or purpose that you can come together on. Isn't this what people have been seeking?

I applaud Obama for his choice. Obama himself has stated he does not support gay marriage. Do people think he is only making that statement as politically expedient? Maybe, but calling Rick Warren a bigot or hateful is lame, childish, and smacks of petulant children not getting their way. Plus, Warren speaks for a majority of Americans who support traditional marriage (come on, you know what that is). Are those on the radical gay side willing to smear the majority of Americans as hateful bigots? Really? You want to do that? It only weakens your case. Name calling has no place in debate.

Be glad that we as a country can meet on bigger issues despite our disagreements and these two men are providing a stellar example.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Teaching High School

Being a high school teacher in Compton is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, jobs I've ever had.

Paramount is a feeling of inadequacy, that this task is just too big for me.

I am only in my second year teaching, but I feel like a failure almost every day. I don't know how teachers do it - how they remain confident, positive, and in the profession for years. This is a second career for me; I started in middle age so perhaps starting younger gives one an edge.

I feel like the job would be much easier if I could count on students to do their job; that is, pull their weight on assignments and maintaining respect for the classroom. Granted, I don't always have my stuff together, but I feel like I am pummeled by those few ill-mannered, disrespectful students to be ultimately made to look a fool in front of the class.

There are days I just want to be rescued, via a deux-ex-machina. I really don't know how long I will stay in this profession.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An Approach to Scripture

My good friend Ellen from New York sent me this so perfectly captures where I am in relation to Scripture that I just had to post it. It is from How (not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins:

"Most of us have been brought up to think that Jesus taught an ethical system for his disciples to follow. The term 'ethics' refers to an approach to moral situations in which we work out how we ought to act by deriving ideas from a foundation given by reason and/or revelation. By seeing Jesus as an ethical teacher we approach the Bible as this foundation and read it as one would read a text book -- attempting to read it in a neutral manner so as to work out how we should act......However, the religious idea of truth, as expressed above, places this modernistic approach into question. For, not only is there no such thing as a neutral interpretive space, but also the religious idea of truth demands that we should have a prejudice when reading the text: a prejudice of love. The Bible itself teaches us that we must not enter into any situation in a neutral and objective manner, even the reading of scripture, but always with eyes of love. Christ himself expressed this when he healed on the Sabbath, informing those who sought to condemn him that the law was made for humanity, not humanity for the law. .....This does not mean that we re-interpret our traditions in any way we want, but rather that we must be committed to living in the tension between exegesis (by which we extract meaning from the text) and eisegesis (by which we read meaning into the text). By acknowledging that all our readings are located in a cultural context and have certain prejudices, we understand that engaging with the Bible can never mean that we simply extract meaning from it, but also that we read meaning into it. In being faithful to the text we must move away from the naive attempt to read it from some neutral, heavenly height and we must attempt to read it as one who has been born of God and thus born of love: for that is the prejudice of God. Here the ideal of scripture reading as a type of scientific objectivity is replaced by an approach that creatively interprets with love.....

....acknowledging that we all get God wrong and that revelation can be interpreted in a variety of ways does not necessarily mean that we are caught in the tentacles of relativism, but rather can open up a dynamic, kinetic relationship with the text."

Friday, November 24, 2006


This is a poem I wrote that addresses the impossibility of expressing emotional reactions to other human beings:

I was on the edge of my seat,
When the play ended.
I could not stand up
For a full five minutes.

I was shaking.

Never had I seen something
Like this,
That so moved me, I could
Only express myself in groans.
Words were insufficient.

As the words slowly trickled
On the way home,
I told my friend I had to
Get the album.

I listened in the car
Over and over again.
“Johanna, Johanna…”
In a world of my own,
All that emotion
Flooding me,
Heating me,
Watering my eyes.

In the back of the store, cleaning the mats,
I wanted to share my passion.
I started singing, and I got
I was told to keep it down,
This was work.

How do you share a passion
That is so deep, quiet words
Cannot do it justice?
How can I make you feel
What I feel?

I see
Why artists are poor.
A vibrating soul
Cannot be bought
Or even shared.
I can never truly communicate
With words.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Quote On Biblical Time-Frame Language

"When a writer says that an event will shortly and speedily come to pass, or is about to take place, it is contrary to all propriety to declare that his statements allow us to believe the event is in the far future. It is a reprehensible abuse of language to say that the words immediately, or near at hand, mean ages hence, or after a long time. Such a treatment of the language of Scripture is even worse than the theory of a double sense*."

-Milton Terry

* 'Absit a nobis ut Deum faciamus o,.i,glwtton, aut multiplices sensus affingamus ipsius verbo, in quo potius tanquarn in speculo limpidissimo sui autoris simplicitatem contemplari debemus. (Ps. xii. 6; xix. B.) Unicus ergo sensus scripturae, nempe grammaticus, est admittendus, quibuscunque demum terminis, vel propriis vel tropicis et figuratis exprimatur.' -Maresius.
(Far be it from us to make God speak with two tongues, or to attach a variety of senses to His Word, in which we ought rather to behold the simplicity of its divine author reflected as in a clear mirror (Ps. xii. 6 ; xix. 8.) Only one meaning of Scripture, therefore, is admissible: that is, the grammatical, in whatever terms, whether proper or tropical and figurative, it may be expressed.)

William Shatner Comedy Central Roast

My wife and I came in about 30 minutes late on this show tonight. I am disappointed, but more than that, dumbfounded and angry.

I remember well the Dean Martin Roasts of the 1970s. Some here probably thought them unfunny, and I know they were staged and phony, but I laughed at them. I realize this is no longer that decade. Things have gotten raunchier in public and celebrities do much less than they used to do to maintain somewhat of a dignified image.

This was supposed to be a roast of Shatner. What I saw and heard were a succession of unfunny comedians making explicit jokes about anal sex, fellatio, and odorous vaginas. I mean, these people were really unfunny.

We all heard about George Takei's coming out a year or so ago. Well, a number of us Trekkies knew this 30 years ago but no matter. He didn't discuss it and neither did we.

What I saw Takei do was unravel any modicum of dignity he had left, and giggle like a 13-year old boy seeing his first porno film. After naming all the women on the stage (including poor old Betty White, Farrah Fawcett and Nichelle Nichols), the wittiest remark he could make was, "It sure smells like @#%$ in here." Takei went on to compare Shatner's wig to Fawcett's pubic hair. I mean it...that's the level of "humor" in this show. He alluded, well, more than alluded to performing fellatio and laughed heartily as others referred to his being on the receiving end of anal intercourse.

This is how to end a 40-year legacy? Their careers are over, or near over, and this is how they want to be remembered?

I know that behind closed doors at the Friar's Club, things were blue. I don't doubt that Bob Hope, George Burns, and others used this kind of language. But to a national audience?

I'm 45, and I know my tastes have changed. But this as good as they can do?

Sad and embarrassing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm Now a Social Liberal?!? What?!?

Well, I took this test and here are the results:

You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(26% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, May 21, 2006


You know, in many ways, I think the Christian Church is a negation of itself. In trying to draw people closer to God, or preach the gospel, they employ methodologies that have the opposite, or unintended, effect.

For example, this morning at Coast Christian Fellowship, Pastor Joe Gil gave a great message on the importance of silence, and used many Biblical examples of how people sought God's voice in silence. He explained how our "devotionals" were meant to draw God close to us, not offer something to God.

He began with a great illustrative video, from the point of view inside a television looking out at the speaker on the couch, channel surfing. The speaker gave a few statistics about white noise, and how difficult it was for Hollywood sound men to gather uninterrupted nature sounds (15 hours of recording for one hour of unspoiled nature sound in 1968; 2000 hours for one hour today). The video then proceeded to ask questions about our ability to maintain silence for about five minutes in a graphical manner of white words superimposed on a black background. Nothing on the soundtrack. It made its point beautifully as we all watched in silence.

At the end of this great sermon, Pastor Joe offered a prayer for our ability to seek God in the silence, while the worship leader tinkled on his guitar in the background. Then, the worship team proceeded to sing a loud, cacophonous song about seeking the Lord in the "quiet place." I wondered if anyone but me caught the incongruity of the situation.

We just don't get it. Today was a great example of how the church negates its own message. No wonder people are seeking alternatives.