Monday, September 30, 2013

Feels Like Home

While I was mildly surprised to hear that Sheryl Crow was moving full-time to country, I was looking forward to her first project – Feels Like Home.

I’ve given it two full listens and it’s just not growing on me – oh, maybe a song or two. Her songs are often catchy and sometimes have some good lines (I like this one – Drive it like you stole it!)

I guess I’m underwhelmed.

I liked her as a rocker. Wanted to like her as country since that’s a heavy part of my listening diet.

Maybe it’s her thin voice? I’m not a critic but that’s the best word I can find to describe her singing. Not particularly deep. And when things get stripped down somewhat, more depends on the singing or the lyrics or both and for this project neither of them got me very far.

Maybe it’s just me. Darius Rucker is fine and his songs are cute etc. but not enough oomph for me there either. Maybe rockers should just keep on rockin’!

*** out of 5.

Sweet moments

Every Sunday morning our church has a prayer time where people can have other members of the congregation listen to and pray for their needs.

This morning an older deaf gentlemen went forward. We have a team of ladies who faithfully, every Sunday, sign all the songs, the sermon, announcements -  everything; and they rotate amongst themselves so that no one person has to do the entire service. We have a small group of deaf folks who sit near the front.

This morning one of the ladies got up and went forward with the older gentleman and interpreted for him to one other member of the congregation who listened to (or in this case "watched") and then prayed for him. 

I just thought it was a sweet moment seeing the three of them share this need through sign language

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

House Rules

Some folks may think of Jodi Piccoult as more of a genre writer, fluffy stories etc. Maybe she’ll never be considered a heavyweight but I enjoy the books of hers that I’ve read so far.

House Rules is an excellent read. I don’t want to give away too much but as a parent of a child with Asperger’s – Piccoult nails so much of what it can be like.

When Patti read it (and I was almost reluctant to let her! I don’t control my wife’s reading but I do on occasion either strongly recommend or discourage her on a book, tv show etc.) she said she had to read the ending first to see if she could really read the book. I can never do that.

Reading is so much about the journey and the words and images used to take us readers on that trip. But I do care about plot and if I know exactly where it is going, then I lose interest in some of the other stuff and might not finish.

It’s a long book but worth it. I don’t know; if you don’t know or love someone with Asperger’s or Autism maybe it won’t mean as much to you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

an evangelical perspective

I guess you could call this an edited guest blog. I read this entire letter today and it offers up some thoughts for discussion. The full letter can be found here:
 We grieve the horrific loss of 100,000 lives and the displacement of more than two million refugees in a civil war that is frightening the world.  We abhor the use of chemical weapons that have killed civilians, including hundreds of children.
We’ve gotten ourselves in a corner with a clear threat of retaliation against Syria for crossing the “red line” of deploying chemical weapons.  Since the chemical atrocities of World War I there has been an international consensus that chemical weapons would never be used again. It’s happened, and most agree there should be serious consequences.  But, does that mean America should inflict those consequences alone, without a resolution from the United Nations or broad support from our European allies and the Arab nations of the Middle East?
Our world has so many injustices and some of the worst are initiated by governments. These injustices should be confronted. Someone must speak up and stand up for the poor and suffering who cannot defend themselves. Since the United States is the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, there is an expectation that we lead against unjust and cruel regimes. Yet, we know that we are not big enough, powerful enough or prosperous enough to police hundreds of nations with billions of people. The difficulty is deciding when we will intervene and when we will allow injustices to go unchallenged.
What we don’t know is whether a military attack on Syria would help or hurt Syria’s neighbor nations from Turkey to Israel and beyond. Some think that doing nothing will communicate weakness and put neighbor nations at greater risk. Others think that Syria might respond to a U.S. attack with its own attack and provoke an explosive regional war throughout the Middle East. We just can’t know in advance what might happen.
Could the United States persuade other nations to join with us in looking for new ways to punish Syria for the use of chemical weapons but also preserve the threat of military options in response to past and potential use of chemical weapons?
Leith Anderson President | National Association of Evangelicals

an NPR poll

NPR proposed 4 options forSyria today in a poll: I have edited the suggestions and comments not with a bias but rather to shorten this and make it more readable. (What me presume to edit NPR?)

Step Up Humanitarian Aid: Two million Syrians have now fled their homeland and more than 4 million are displaced internally, Americans are tired of grinding, open-ended wars in the Middle East. Syrian civilians are suffering. The U.S. has been sending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to help; the United Nations says it needs billions.

Arm The Rebels: President Obama said in June that the U.S., would begin supplying arms to moderate rebel groups. Some U.S. officials are wary of providing large quantities of heavy weapons to the rebels, arguing that they are a mixed bag, ranging from secular fighters who favor a democratic Syria to Islamist extremists aligned with al-Qaida. The CIA is training small numbers of rebels in Jordan, and there's talk of calling on the U.S. Army to expand those efforts. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told Congress that building up the rebels could be a more promising option than U.S. military strikes.

Limited U.S. Strikes:  the U.S. cannot let Syrian President Bashar Assad go unpunished for his alleged use of chemical weapons last month.
The U.S. action would likely consist of a couple days of cruise missile strikes launched from naval ships in the eastern Mediterranean. Likely targets would be military aircraft and airports, military bases, and perhaps military headquarters and some government buildings.
Critics of the plan claim it is unlikely to alter the course of a war that is currently a stalemate. And, they add, it could have the unintended effect of rallying Syrian public support for Assad.
A Sustained U.S. Attack: U.S. firepower has been decisive in removing, or helping remove, several groups and leaders in the past decade, including the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 2011. Yet all of those countries remain unstable to this day.

An option that NPR did not include is to do nothing.


As a teenager and young adult, I remained mostly ill-informed about the Vietnam War (which might explain my rather inordinate fascination with it now) and years later found myself woefully uninformed on the whole Balkan-Serbian-Croatian-ethnic cleansing debacle of the early 90s.

As we now contemplate what (if anything) the U.S. might or should not do in response to Syria’s recent use of chemical weapons, I find myself reading numerous articles and editorials about it.

One thing that happened back in the 90s – this before the internet as we know and love it now provides 24/7 unlimited access to information – I got crisis fatigue. I just couldn’t keep up and got tired so I tuned out.

Fortunately things turned out OK and the events in the Balkans were not a threat to our ongoing peace and prosperity.

What’s going on in Syria has already impacted more than 200,000 Syrians and countless others in neighboring countries. If unchecked or provoked, it could spread across the middle east and most certainly begin to impact us on a daily basis – if not now, perhaps a few months (or years) from now.

So with that in mind I’m trying to keep up with the flow of information. In a coming series of blogs I will share some of that for those who might care to have a curated selection of readings.

As I noted in a previous FB post, I tend to range far and wide will absorb both liberal and conservative perspectives; although the labels don’t fit very well in this situation.

So if you like this stuff, venture over to