Thursday, December 29, 2005


Congratulations and best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Dan LaBerge on their wedding day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stopping Place

Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain.

-- Mary Catherine Bateson

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

True Religion

True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess.

-- Louis Nizer, lawyer (1902-1994)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Commercial Exploitation

Be it religion, love under all its forms, literature, or art, there is not a single spiritual force that does not become an object of commercial exploitation.

-- Etienne Gilson

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Santa Claus

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.

-- Shirley Temple

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Going To Church

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car.

-- Laurence J. Peter, 1919 - 1990

Monday, December 19, 2005

It Should Never Come To That

I'm glad to see Congress push through Senator McCain's prohibition against torture. While I don't expect it to provide any protection for our troops with respect to our current adversary, it's necessary for two major reasons. First, the United States should be above such tactics, regardless of the nature of the enemy. Second, torture (or abusive interrogation techniques of any kind) are an instance of punishment prior to adjudication. Due process is the key to any system that seeks to mete out actual justice. This was clearly demonstrated in the case of the German citizen, Khaled El-Masri, who was kidnapped by the CIA and interrogated for 5 months in an extra-judicial prison in Afghanistan. This proved to be a case of mistaken identity, as the victim of this "extraordinary rendition" merely shared the name of the person sought. Without the oversight of the courts and some semblance of due process, any number of innocent people could be swept up and "disappeared" by the government. In America, it should never come to that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers

Onward, moderate Christian soldiers
John C. Danforth, The New York Times

ST. LOUIS, Missouri It would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics.

In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.

It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.

People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda to do so.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgment of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.

When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.

We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.

Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.

For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility lacking in our conservative colleagues.

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two.

To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that only I know God's will, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility. By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth.

We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.

Christians who hold these convictions ought to add their clear voice of moderation to the debate on religion in politics.

(John C. Danforth is an Episcopal minister and a former Republican senator from Missouri.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

God's Promise

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.

-- Augustine of Hippo, 354 - 430

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You Can Pretend

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.

-- Sacha Guitry

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Had A Life

I had some great things and I had some bad things. The best and the worst ... in other words, I had a life.

-- Richard Pryor (December 1, 1940 - December 10, 2005), American actor and comedian

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Unknown

The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown, and it's plain sailing.

-- John Lennon, October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Achievement Vs. Success

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others. That is nice but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.

-- Helen Hayes

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Man Vs. Trvth

The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.

-- Rebecca West

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

-- George Santayana

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bite Me

Never break up a dog fight with your face.

-- Don Appleman, 11/29/05

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mind Is The Forerunner

Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.

Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, affection follows one, even as one's shadow that never leaves.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beginning And Ending

Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)