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Friday, January 28, 2011

Benedict


Like you

I know the sting

Of dreams deferred.

I have waited my turn

As justice blurred.


I have been engulfed

With the flame of Self,

Sold my comrades

For a dime,

Treating these gifts like passing fads.


But today,

I shake no traitor's hand.

I gave no fort,
I kept my honor;
The test was short.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What did I think of the State of the Union last night? Boring. Flat. Minimalistic. This was a candidate who electrified America 2 years ago. Now, he sounds like a younger Walter Mondale. Part of this is that he has the completely wrong ideology. He can name the problems we face, but his mind is totally closed off to the workable solutions. "Investment" is progressive code for spending, "Infrastructure" is code for central planning. On education, he may indeed believe enough Democratic heresy on school choice to do something positive. We'll see. The foreign policy section was his best, but it was too brief and vague with respect to Afghanistan. They are making a big mistake regarding Egypt; Mubarak is no democrat, and the US pulling the plug on the 1.3 billion annual dollars propping up that regime would be among the most heroic actions ever taken by the United States. (Revisiting our aid to Israel would be wise also.) Obama is on the wrong course, but the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll (not known as a bastion of Democratic sympathy) has his approval rating at 51%. Republicans should be very concerned. The 2-year mark finds presidents in the mid 40s, even the great Reagan. He hit that bottom, and is rising. Much can still happen, but if the economy rebounds on sheer optimism, the GOP is toast.
Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) response was excellent, and true. Debt and spending are at crisis levels. But the GOP needs to be careful. You can't beat Obama with anger. His personal favorability rating, even after the most unpopular legislation in 50 years, stands at a whopping 76%. People like him, even if they utterly hate his policies, and the Democrats. My strategy for winning against Obama: 1. Nominate Pawlenty/Jindal; 2. Tell everyone that Sarah Palin will be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (where her ardent pro-life views will have the greatest use, but the least visibility) and 3. General tone of 2012 campaign: "We thank President Obama for his hopeful leadership, his inspiring story, and his enduring example for the future. But we have the ideas to make his dreams a reality."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Holy Hour
My friend Bryan Cross invited me to a Carmelite monastery where the consecrated host was in the room with us. I cannot say exactly what I believe concerning this; I neither am neither a believer or disbeliever. What I did sense was the nearness of Jesus Christ; it was to him I desired to bring my petitions; it was his peace with which I left. I held in my mind's eye the Canaanite woman; I sensed somehow that I was her. In one sense, this is risible. Part of me knows that I am part of the household of faith. And yet, I wonder if, by ignorance and an accident of history, I lack a fullness of Christ that he wishes to give. Thom told me that most conversions or other radical changes he has seen when people are "crazy for God" flow from fear. I have kept watch on my thoughts in this direction, and on balance, I would say that I have felt not fear but Love. I lacked nothing before this began. But I wished to know, if the primary means of growth in the Christian life are humility and dependence (and at no point can we say we have arrived--until death or His return) what can we be certain of? Another great man taught me to preface nearly everything important with, "At this point in my understanding..." in recognition of our finitude. What is the "core" of the gospel, given the fact that only the proudest of us in the Protestant world would dare put forward our confessional stance as the last word on the gospel? But I was with Christ. I told him that I longed to believe in him without hesitation or questions; if I may, without footnotes. Shall I disdain that faith at once so simple as to be understood by children, yet confound great men? What have I gained by believing Christ is not so near as some suppose? What have I gained by dissenting from the great fathers of the past? We cannot charge them with complicity in those deeds that later provoked our separation. We have been foolish to think this special adoration was the cause. He seems to be offering me plainly Himself, like in John 6. Do I have the courage to receive Him?
I saw Him on the cross. I got lost in the place; I lost all sense of time. We say we have guarded his glory. But is He not even more glorious dwelling in the midst of His people? Have I magnified Jesus, or have I asked him to leave my town?
I savored the silence; I felt far away from trouble. It was concluded, and to pay my respect, I actually looked up, as I had been in my position of bowing since I came in. We stopped at the holy water. I wanted to remember the strength He gave me. I dipped my left hand in the water and crossed myself. We went into the stillness knowing that, in spite of everything, Christ was our King.