Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
An Open Letter to President-elect Obama regarding my Personal Disappointment at the Choice of Rick Warren to Deliver the Inaugural Invocation
My disappointment goes beyond the fact that you chose someone to speak at the inauguration who does not support same-sex marriage rights, because quite frankly, neither do you. But Rev. Warren believes my very existence as a gay man is flawed, that by my living my life honestly and openly, I am acting upon deviant impulses. But this American was made by and in the image of God, just like you and just like Rev. Warren. I pray you will both come to that understanding. I hope you can appreciate my disappoint in your choice.
Best of luck on the 21st.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It is interesting to note, Warren compares being gay to having "several multiple partners" and to "wanting to sleep with every beautiful woman he sees." Let us put aside his chances of that happening for a second and understand his bigotry against the Gay and Lesbian community. His problem with gay people is not their lifestyle or their "biology" but that they have multiple partners? Is he jealous? Why does he not form an amendment to the Constitution against people with multiple sex partners?
It is astounding to me the level to which people can engage in self deception to hold on to their belief systems. Something that doesn't make sense to them is obviously wrong. What is at issue here is Warren's lack of empathy. This is the catalyst to all social ills, war, disease, famine etc. It is one of the basic tenents of political communication. A murder next door is equal to ten murders in Newark, is equal to 100 murders in Canada, is equal to 1,000 dead in Iraq. People who cannot empathize with for example, an Iraqi who is being bombed every night so they can drive a Hummer is in my opinion dangerous. The same goes here. If we cannot empathize with other humans that are somewhat different than us, then are we truly living in a modern society and accepting humanity for what it is, a mystery. No, these bigots want to have everything explained to them in a book. If it isn't it cannot be true.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
But, here is the truth about Rick Warren. He has compared legal abortion to the Holocaust, and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn't believe in evolution. When you actually read some of Warren's statements it becomes highly objectionable, troubling and down right offensive.
Today, in defending Rick Warren Obama talked about how Warren has been an instrument for good and has worked in a ministry for HIV/AIDS in Africa, but even that is a bit of a misnomer. Read Michelle Goldberg's experience: In fact, though, Warren has taken the standard Christian conservative approach to the epidemic, which favors abstinence and prayer over condoms and sex education. I once attended Sunday services at the church of Martin Ssempa, one of Warren's protégés in Uganda and a major force in that country's devastating move away from safe-sex campaigns. It is a heartbreaking thing to watch a tongue-speaking faith-healer promise a room full of sobbing people - many of them poor, many infected with HIV - that Jesus can cure them, if only they believe in him unconditionally (belief demonstrated, of course, in part by tithing generously).
Warren also sent out an email to his congregation about voting (can someone please investigate these tax cheats?) and what to consider while voting. It is instructive. "In order to live a purpose-driven life - to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates - we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly," he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia.
As Michelle Goldberg points out (the article which this post is based on) says I guess Rick Warren doesn't believe torture is a christian issue. Euthanasia and stem-cell research are to be considered, but not torture of another human soul.
This choice is very troubling to me. I have given Obama the benefit of the doubt on several of his Cabinet choices and will wait to see what happens with policy, but this is strike one for me. In 1992 Bill Clinton had strike three by the time he was inaugurated. First, it was "don't ask don't tell" then it was Lani Guinier and then it was Haiti. I knew he was not going to change the way we do business. We'll see about Obama.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Listen to this 5 minute plus segmment it is worth it. We have been through eight years of crimes against our constitution and we sat by and allowed it. Will this happen again here? One more thing, outside of Osama Bin Laden, Dick Cheney is the international leader I fear the most.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
First, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey started when the founder and executive director, Kathleen Dichiara saw a need and began giving food out of the trunk of her car in 1976. The food bank has grown dramatically and distributes over 21 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving nearly 1,700 non-profits including 436 programs served by its Partner Distribution Organizations (PDOs).
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ)is a member of Feeding America and fights hunger and poverty by the distribution of food and grocery products, by education and training, by creating new programs to meet the needs of low-income people, and by involving all sectors of society in this battle.
We are in some of the worst economic times in this country's history, we all feel it, but the poor and the hungry feel it the most. This is always the case. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is experiencing some real difficulty in fulfilling the needs of those who are going hungry. Requests for food at the Food Bank have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism. CFBNJ. See the video below.
I can speak to this dire need. This summer at Legal Services we organized a food drive for Middlesex County because every shelter and food bank in the area was experiencing huge shortages of food. We asked our colleagues to come together and organized a food drive and gave food throughout the summer. We did well, but only made a dent in what was needed. And this time of year is extra crucial. People are cold, sick and hunger feels especially lonely around the holidays. What is more this need will not subside soon, it will be with us for the foreseeable future. While our government is giving huge subsidies to big financial institutions, we forget about the people who need us the most, the hungry.
There are several ways to give. Please go to the link of the CFBNJ and locate your county or any foodbank and donate or see how you or your organization can help the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Because, truly this is one bank we cannot allow to fail.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends." - Bill Ayers, Op-Ed, New York Times, December 5, 2008 -
Friday, December 5, 2008
By Steven Millhauser
In his first collection in five years, a master fabulist in the tradition of Poe and Nabokov invents spookily plausible parallel universes in which the deepest human emotions and yearnings are transformed into their monstrous opposites. Millhauser is especially attuned to the purgatory of adolescence. In the title story, teenagers attend sinister “laugh parties”; in another, a mysteriously afflicted girl hides in the darkness of her attic bedroom. Time and again these parables revive the possibility that “under this world there is another, waiting to be born.”
By Toni Morrison
The fate of a slave child abandoned by her mother animates this allusive novel — part Faulknerian puzzle, part dream-song — about orphaned women who form an eccentric household in late-17th-century America. Morrison’s farmers and rum traders, masters and slaves, indentured whites and captive Native Americans live side by side, often in violent conflict, in a lawless, ripe American Eden that is both a haven and a prison — an emerging nation whose identity is rooted equally in Old World superstitions and New World appetites and fears.
By Joseph O’Neill
O’Neill’s seductive ode to New York — a city that even in bad times stubbornly clings to its belief “in its salvific worth” — is narrated by a Dutch financier whose privileged Manhattan existence is upended by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. When his wife departs for London with their small son, he stays behind, finding camaraderie in the unexpectedly buoyant world of immigrant cricket players, most of them West Indians and South Asians, including an entrepreneur with Gatsby-size aspirations.
By Roberto Bolaño.
Bolaño, the prodigious Chilean writer who died at age 50 in 2003, has posthumously risen, like a figure in one of his own splendid creations, to the summit of modern fiction. This latest work, first published in Spanish in 2004, is a mega- and meta-detective novel with strong hints of apocalyptic foreboding. It contains five separate narratives, each pursuing a different story with a cast of beguiling characters — European literary scholars, an African-American journalist and more — whose lives converge in a Mexican border town where hundreds of young women have been brutally murdered.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
There is much cultural news in these precisely observed studies of modern-day Bengali-Americans — many of them Ivy-league strivers ensconced in prosperous suburbs who can’t quite overcome the tug of traditions nurtured in Calcutta. With quiet artistry and tender sympathy, Lahiri creates an impressive range of vivid characters — young and old, male and female, self-knowing and self-deluding — in engrossing stories that replenish the classic themes of domestic realism: loneliness, estrangement and family discord.
THE DARK SIDE The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
By Jane Mayer.
Mayer’s meticulously reported descent into the depths of President Bush’s antiterrorist policies peels away the layers of legal and bureaucratic maneuvering that gave us Guantánamo Bay, “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced” interrogation methods, “black sites,” warrantless domestic surveillance and all the rest. But Mayer also describes the efforts of unsung heroes, tucked deep inside the administration, who risked their careers in the struggle to balance the rule of law against the need to meet a threat unlike any other in the nation’s history.
THE FOREVER WAR
By Dexter Filkins
The New York Times correspondent, whose tours of duty have taken him from Afghanistan in 1998 to Iraq during the American intervention, captures a decade of armed struggle in harrowingly detailed vignettes. Whether interviewing jihadists in Kabul, accompanying marines on risky patrols in Falluja or visiting grieving families in Baghdad, Filkins makes us see, with almost hallucinogenic immediacy, the true human meaning and consequences of the “war on terror.”
NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF
By Julian Barnes
This absorbing memoir traces Barnes’s progress from atheism (at age 20) to agnosticism (at 60) and examines the problem of religion not by rehashing the familiar quarrel between science and mystery, but rather by weighing the timeless questions of mortality and aging. Barnes distills his own experiences — and those of his parents and brother — in polished and wise sentences that recall the writing of Montaigne, Flaubert and the other French masters he includes in his discussion. (First Chapter)
THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING Death and the American Civil War
By Drew Gilpin Faust
In this powerful book, Faust, the president of Harvard, explores the legacy, or legacies, of the “harvest of death” sown and reaped by the Civil War. In the space of four years, 620,000 Americans died in uniform, roughly the same number as those lost in all the nation’s combined wars from the Revolution through Korea. This doesn’t include the thousands of civilians killed in epidemics, guerrilla raids and draft riots. The collective trauma created “a newly centralized nation-state,” Faust writes, but it also established “sacrifice and its memorialization as the ground on which North and South would ultimately reunite.”
THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul
By Patrick French
The most surprising word in this biography is “authorized.” Naipaul, the greatest of all postcolonial authors, cooperated fully with French, opening up a huge cache of private letters and diaries and supplementing the revelations they disclosed with remarkably candid interviews. It was a brave, and wise, decision. French, a first-rate biographer, has a novelist’s command of story and character, and he patiently connects his subject’s brilliant oeuvre with the disturbing facts of an unruly life.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The first time the symbol was used in the anti-war movement was by San Francisco Bay Area graphic artist Frank's Cieciorka for Stop The Draft Week, for actions January 14, 1968 protesting the arrest of the "Oakland Seven" This poster was adapted from one he had done earlier for Stop The Draft Week (10/17/1967) that used a large, blocky figure wielding a fist. The second poster took the fist and used on its own.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I was reading Monday's online version of the New York Times, and came across a great piece in the Arts section about a new exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York. It is entitled, Broken Glass and is a photography collection of shots of 1980s South Bronx. The photographer, Ray Mortenson, who is from New Jersey, started chronicling urban decay around Passaic, and then decided to move to New York, taking the 5 train up to the Bronx.
His work is eerily empty of life, and he never shot people in his Bronx photography. As the article alludes to, his photos stand as a kind of testament to an abandoned time, place and setting. The bronx, in many of the parts that he went to, is light years different these days, and Mortenson hasn't been back in years. From the article:
Mr. Mortenson said he had not returned to those blocks since he stopped taking photographs in the Bronx in 1984. “I’m ambivalent about it,” he said. “There was something about being there alone, about that time, that I guess I want to keep.”“It was kind of like being in a horror movie,” he added. “But that was all part of it.”
The title of the exhibit refers to a line from the Grandmaster Flash classic, "The Message."
As Sean Corcoran, curator of prints and photography at The Museum asks in the article, when he looks at the shots of these otherwordly places, he can't help thinking: “How could things get to this point? What political, economic and cultural shifts could lead to such a collapse?”
This is a great question to ask at a time when all over the U.S., as the article notes, peoples' homes, towns and lives look and feel likewise abandoned.