Sunday, August 31, 2008

Naughty Librarian

This is old, but it's going to be making the rounds now. Check out Craig Ferguson talking about Sarah Palin:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ledesma endorses . . .

No one. Not yet.

I just did my own analysis of where I stand on certain selected issues with the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates: I agree with Joe Biden about 70% of the time on the selected issues. 57% of the time with John McCain. About 50% of the time with Sarah Palin. And just 28% of the time with Barack Obama. (I'll post my big fancy chart after I expand it and study the issues more).

I think I'm going to wait until the debates to see if I can get a read on their character and strength before I make my decision - if that does anything to sway me. And thus, I fall into the "independent" or "undecided" category that both parties want to woo to their side. Unfortunately for me, I live in New York. So, with or without my vote, Obama gets the state. I have to say, it does take some of the pressure off.

My next step, in the upcoming weeks, is to focus on the issues that matter the most to me in a Presidential candidate.

Already there have been many private and public responses to my recent posts on this blog and on Facebook. Most are very intelligent responses from people like my kickball friend Steve, old college friends like Katy and Helena, and my former coworker Heather. I thank you all for your thoughtful responses and answers to my questions.

And, to all those who are perplexed by my uneasiness with Obama, please note: I am a registered Democrat in NYC but also have conservative and libertarian tendencies. I should probably change my party registration. I don't like labels.

Friday, August 29, 2008

In defense of (in)experience

All day on I've seen commentary on why Sarah Palin is a mistake. I've also read attack after attack on her lack of experience. Are you serious?

Why would you even bring that up? I feel like telling the Democrats to "shush" and keep it quiet. The moment the Democrats attack her on her lack of experience, they can turn it back on Obama. Yes, she's a heartbeat away from being President. But, she's not running for President! On the other hand, Obama IS running for President. And he has less experience than she does!

She was elected into her City Council in 1992. He was elected for the first time to the State Senate in 1997. Five years later! She has five years more experience than he does! If Democrats claim that she doesn't have experience, he certainly does not!

And, if you want to discuss the quality of experience, you lose also. She has executive experience as a Mayor and a Governor. Obama has experience as a US Senator, but let's not forget that he voted "Present" in the Senate over 100 times (not making a decision on legislation one way or another) and that half of his time as Senator has been spent campaigning for President.

If you want to chip away at her, go for her conservative stance on issues. Point out the differences and why you think she's wrong. Get Biden to run circles around her during the debates. But, do not attack her on experience. That's the wrong way to go.

I was right!

Today is a great day for the United States of America. First, because I was right! And second, because of progress.

On Wednesday I made my guesses for the Top 3 possibilities for McCain's VP:

I chose Sarah Palin because she's conservative enough so that McCain won't lose as many votes to Bob Barr or the Conservative Party and she brings youth and a fresh face to the ticket.

Plus, she's a woman. Now, I know that John McCain is not dumb enough to think that Hillary Clinton's supporters will vote for Sarah Palin simply because she's a woman. If he wanted that, he would have chosen somebody more towards the center, a moderate Republican. Sarah Palin is not a moderate.

However, just as with any political election, there's a whole bunch of people out there that vote for superficial reasons. And, I know for certain (because I know some of them) that there are people who will now vote for John McCain simply because he has a woman on the ticket. Nothing to do with her qualifications, all about the gender. They are few but they do exist.

Smart move by John McCain today. And, oh yeah, I was right! But so was my friend, Paul Snatchko! (and to be honest, I've been hearing about Palin from his blog for months).

On to progress: As of noon today we know that unless something catastrophic happens in the next few months, come January 2009, we will have a biracial President or a female Vice-President or perhaps even an African-American female President. Now, isn't that something?

It's taken a long time, from the Civil War to the Suffrage movement to the Civil Rights movement to the Equal Rights Amendment all the way to 2008. And we're here. A place where no matter what happens, history will be made this November.

Congratulations to Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and Cynthia McKinney for being a part of history.

And now, who will Ledesma endorse? Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

LiveBlog on Obama's acceptance speech

11:45pm - Adam Who-Should-Become-a-Rabbi has uncovered the secret behind Obama's speeches... Aaron Sorkin, writer of The American President and The West Wing. Martin Sheen would make a great Chief of Staff.

- Greta Van Sustren says "it was a dazzling speech."

- FoxNews is reporting that the McCain camp is estimating a 15-point bounce for Obama after tonight. Did they like his speech that much too?

- I suck at liveblogging. I'll try and do this again for McCain. Maybe. It'll still suck, but with a Republican twist.

11:12pm -
Had to switch away from CNN to be able to watch the final prayer. To be honest, PBS has been doing a great job during the convention. They've shown almost every speech with just a little commentary in between. Yay to PBS and Viewers Like You!

- I expected better. Though I think it's funny how the CNN trio of Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and John King all think it was the best speech in the world. They've clearly been drinking the Kool-Aid. It was a focused speech and he did hit some points and had some great lines. But, I can't wait until the debates.

- And then the Democrats ruin the moment with fireworks, streamers, and music that's way too loud. And the people cry and wave their flags.

- I think he lost some steam at the end. But, the Democrats in the stadium seem to love it. Flags waving and people on their feet. The beautiful girls come out to give dad a hug.

- Wrapping up with the American spirit and promise. I was waiting for him to hit this part of the speech. Channeling the preacher from Georgia.

- The bipartisan speech. AK47s and gays. Though we don't agree, we can agree. Can we?

- I love this line,
"But he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives." The Dems have been pushing the whole war in Afghanistan, not Iraq thing. Would Obama hop in the cave with a gun and grenade? Does he even know how to use them?

- An Obama speech: No blue or red states, just the United States. Good line, but has been repeated too often, I think.

10:27pm - Is it me, or does Jill, Joe Biden's wife look overwhelmed and scared?

- The video clip for Obama. Who narrated that? It was bland. However, as he stepped out to a crowd of 70,000, with the lights, the camera angles, the music - pretty neat. But then they stopped the music a little too suddenly so they could get the speech started. Should have given him a little more time to bask.

- How did Al Gore become such a "cool" guy in the last eight years? He's like a superstar.

8:30pm - Bill Richardson kicked ass in his speech. Secretary of State, hands down.

- Did anyone see the ad John McCain sneaked in to the Primetime convention coverage. He tried to put on his sincere face. But, there's something about how he said "How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day" that made me cringe.

I actually stopped it (thanks DVR) and watched it three times. It gets worse each time. Am I the only one?

Pancakes and Sausage for Dinner

Wendy and I were having a hard time deciding what to make/order for dinner when suddenly I saw a light bulb go off over my wife's head...

"Pancakes!" she yelled excitedly.

I got up and did a little dance.

We've never had breakfast for dinner. Let me tell you, it was grand! Everyone should do it every now and then. It's a treat.

And now for some syrupy belching. Pardon me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Top 3 guesses for McCain's VP

I like taking guesses on these kinds of things. Here's my top 3:

#1 - Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska

Former beauty queen, strictly pro-life, lifetime member of the NRA, approval rating percentage in the 80s. Plus, she's from an "energy" state.

On the flip-side she's from Alaska and no one knows her.

#2 - Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts

Recently pro-life, has argued in favor of gun control, supported the invasion of Iraq and the troop surge, is worth around $500 million, and he's got those crazy good looks.

On the downside, he's changed his opinion on almost everything in the past 10 years and he's a Mormon (if people have trouble accepting Obama as a Christian, what about the Mormon?).

#3 - Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesotta

Very conservative, young (47), refuses to raise taxes, is seen as being a "green" governor, signed on to the campaign to help end world poverty and hunger, in favor of more prisons and tougher stances on drug offenders.

On the other hand he has been called a flip-flopper on abortion.

Who do you think it'll be? Who are your Top 3?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A denial I disagree with

In the Roman Catholic Church there has been a lot of talk, going mostly one way, about the denial of holy Communion to pro-choice politicians. The issue has been going on for years.

Four years ago there was talk about denying the Holy Eucharist to John Kerry and nowadays it's about Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Here's what I don't understand: Why would you deny Communion to the people who might need it the most?

Back in 2004, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) issued a memo to the US Catholic bishops giving guidance on denying Communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion. In it he stated that there should be a private admonishment of the sin, but if necessary, there should be a denial of Communion. He wrote that "the minister of holy Communion [is not] passing judgment on the person's subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person's public unworthiness to receive holy Communion due to an objective sin."

However, in this "reaction" is this minister not making an actual "judgment" on the politician? The very action of deeming someone unworthy requires the formation of some judgment.

If the Church is worried about the public unworthiness of a public servant, I agree that they should privately chat with the politician, and perhaps even make a public statement disagreeing with the politician's public position. However, denying them the body and blood of Christ does little to change that politician's mind. The Church in this case may be alienating people that they should be trying to form. Jesus gave us Himself in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to nourish our souls and bring us into communion with Himself, the Father, and His followers. Talk to them, teach them, let the Holy Spirit guide them but do not turn them away.

What would Jesus do? I propose He would say to the pro-choice politicians, "Stop doing that! Let me tell you why..." and then invite them to dinner.

Read Mark 2:15-17,

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

(Photo courtesy of

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gasolina endorses John McCain

Say what?

Today Daddy Yankee endorsed John McCain.


"his ideals and his proposals."


But wait, he did have a good line:

Asked what his song "Gasolina" is about, Ayala said with a grin: "Energy independence."

(Photo courtesy of the LA Times.)

Click, Click - Make me money!

You may have noticed recently that there are now ads and YouTube videos on my blog (please click on them). You may be wondering what that's all about (try one, click on it, please).

Well, I've sold out!

I found out recently that as a Blogger you can make some cash on the side if you allow ads on your blog (so click on an ad, you know you want to). The way it works is that websites pay Google to put their ads on sites. Then they pay Google for every visitor that clicks on their ad. By allowing ads on my blog, I get a percentage of this ad business. But only if you click on the ads (which I know you want to do). You don't need to buy anything, you don't give them any information, all you have to do is be a smart, curious, intelligent, caring, generous reader who clicks on ads that might interest you. Every time you click, I make a few cents (how nice of you).

Hey, it pays the bills.

The same goes for the YouTube videos found on the right-hand column of this site. Click away! (because you're so kind)

Having said that, you may notice that the ads on the top of the screen and the YouTube videos on the right-hand side are content-specific. Google does its voodoo-magic to match the content of the ad with the content of my blog. So, you'll find a range of ultra-religious to politically liberal themes in the ads and videos, and vice versa. The content is not endorsed by me (but the act of clicking is). So, please, no comments about why I support one candidate over another or subscribe to one religious viewpoint over another based on the ads or videos. They have nothing to do with my own views. However, if you're curious about them, please click (you're awesome that way).

Papa wants a brand new bag.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


By the time I got home last night at 1am, the news outlets already had the "Breaking News" that Obama was picking Joe Biden as his VP. I asked my friend, Adam Who-Should-Become-a-Rabbi what he thought about the pick via text message. A one word response: boring.

In some ways Biden does nothing to bring Obama up in the polls. People don't really know him too well, and those who do tend not to like him because he shoots from the hip. Biden also delivers the state of Delaware - already a Blue state. He's a Catholic! (that can go either way in the polls).

I think that tells us that Obama's not worried about needing a boost in the polls or winning a certain state. He needed to build some foreign policy experience on his ticket, and he got it. Biden's got tons of Foreign Relations experience and has been in Congress longer than even McCain.

I like Joe, even with his lack of filter. I think he's one of those politicians who says what's on his mind so you always know what you're getting. I like that.

I wonder who the Maverick, John McCain, picks now...


(Photo courtesy of

Friday, August 22, 2008

Read this book, See this movie

I have two recommendations to make today: a book and a movie.

Yesterday I finished reading Marley and Me by John Grogan and it had me tearing up the whole last chapter. It's a great book that takes you through the lives of journalist John Grogan and his wife as they start their married life together. But, unlike your traditional autobiography, this one has a third person driving the chronology... a bad dog.

It's at times hilarious, deep, and moving. I found myself laughing out loud on the subway while reading this book. There were also moments when there were tears in my eyes. Occasionally I was laughing and tearing up at the same time. I've never been a dog owner, so I can only imagine what a dog owner would go through reading this book. I highly recommend it and have passed it along to my wife, Wendy, and she'll pass it on to our friend Ciara, who will pass on it on to our friend Bob. It's that good.

Plus, they made a movie out of it with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. I'm just hoping they made a decent movie out of a really good book.

Speaking of movies, last night my wife and I had free tickets to go see a sneak preview of a movie called Death Race. Unfortunately my usually useful photographic memory failed me and I got the movie time wrong. We showed up at 7:30pm for a 7:00pm movie. Oops! But, we didn't want to go home since we were already in Times Square and jumped in to see Henry Poole is here starring Luke Wilson.

I've been wanting to see Henry Poole is here since I saw a preview back in May. I had tears in my eyes and Wendy was outright crying through most of this movie. Henry Poole is basically a recluse trying to live his days alone in a newly bought house. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for him there happens to be a water stain on the wall of his house that neighbors think is the face of Jesus. And, with that miracle, people start invading Henry's life. He fights it, in what becomes a sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking battle of belief and non-belief.

I think the acting here is great and the supporting cast is amazing. Luke Wilson plays the mopey, sad, angry, solitary man pretty well. So well, in fact, that there are times when I had a hard time caring for Henry Poole. There are moments when the movie's pace slows to a crawl but overall, it's a pretty good movie regardless of the faith background you're coming from.

Henry Poole is here leads to great conversations about miracles, belief, faith, etc. Take a friend and bring a tissue.

(Photos courtesy of and

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congratulations to the US Women's National Soccer Team!

A long time ago
in a galaxy far, far away
Han Solo and Princes Leia had a child
who had a child who had a child who had a child

and so on and so on for millions of years...

... until Hope Solo was born.
She grew up in the faraway, exotic land of Washington and became badass.

On August 21st, 2008 she made numerous incredible saves at the goal to lead the USA to victory and Olympic Gold over Brazil.

And God saw that it was good.

And the Ewoks celebrated.

The End.

(photo courtesy of

Happy Birthday to the all the oldies!

This month seems to have a lot of birthdays. Happy Birthday to all!

Last night we celebrated the birthday of my old friend Adam Who-should-become-a-rabbi. He turned 28 and there was talk of how old we were compared to our youthful high school days. Yes, High School was 10 years ago. And yes, some of us are fatter, balder, hairier in the ears and nose, married, etc. But, at 28, I think we're hardly old.

We're older, but not old. Plus, now we have jobs that earn us money that we can spend on things like places of our own, travel, big TVs, and beer - the important things in life.

So, Adam, you're not old. You're just little older and a little richer compared to 10 years ago. Enjoy being 28! 30 is coming quick.

(Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Age of Consent

I read two scripture-based books every day: Magnificat, a Catholic devotional, and Forward: Day by Day, an Episcopalian meditation. Both require me to read the Bible daily (Old Testament readings and New Testament readings). It's a great experience; both rewarding and troubling when you meditate and pray about what the reading is telling you.

In yesterday's Forward: Day by Day, the reading was Acts 8:1-13. In this chapter of Acts, Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power who has performed miracles and preaches the Word, is stoned to death. Saul (who would later become St. Paul) is there and consents to his death.

The author of the meditation in Forward focused on the words, "Now Saul was consenting to his execution." He asks whether Saul was an active part of the stoning of Stephen, or whether he was just minding his business and just saying nothing. In silence there is consent, according to the Episcopal priest writing this meditation. He writes:

But if we would follow Jesus, we cannot always take the hands-off attitude or let the next person make the difficult decision. Sometimes we are the ones who must take the risk of standing up for the right. Eventually the moment to decide comes upon us, the moment to step up and shout "No!" or "Yes!" As Edmund Burke is reputed to have said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

As I pondered this thought, I wondered about the issues we as a society are silent about. Genocide, hunger, AIDS, poverty, war, etc. I mean, sure, we have charities and celebrities that bring attention to people and places in need. But, how often are we silent in our everyday lives? How often am I silent in the face of evil? The answer is probably too often.

Which of course, brings the question of what to do about it. What do we do about it? How do we convert from an Age of Consent to an Age of Standing Up For What Is Right?

Think about it and get back to me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama-Kennedy 2008

I thought about this back when Barack Obama announced that he would have Caroline Kennedy lead his VP search. But, with no actual political experience, I figured it would never happen. But, Michael Moore has written an open letter to Ms. Kennedy pleading her to run. Maybe they'll surprise us? Here's Mr. Moore:

Dear Caroline,

We've never met, so I hope you don't find this letter too presumptuous or inappropriate. As its contents involve the public's business, I am sending this to you via the public on the Internet. I knew your brother John. He was a great guy, and I know he would've had a ball during this thrilling and historic election year. We all miss him dearly.

Barack Obama selected you to head up his search for a vice presidential candidate. It appears we may be just days (hours?) away from learning who that choice will be.

The media is reporting that Senator Obama has narrowed his alternatives to three men: Joe Biden, Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine. They're all decent fellows, but they are far from the core of what the Obama campaign has been about: Change. Real change. Out with the old. And don't invade countries that pose no threat to us.

Senators Biden and Bayh voted for that invasion and that war, the war Barack ran against, the war Barack reminded us was the big difference between him and Senator Clinton because she voted for the war and he spoke out against it while running for Senate (a brave and bold thing to do back in 2002).

For Obama to place either of these senators on the ticket would be a huge blow to the millions that chose him in the primaries over Hillary. He will undercut one of the strongest advantages he has over the Hundred-Year War senator, Mr. McCain. By anointing a VP who did what McCain did in throwing us into this war, Mr. Obama will lose the moral high ground in the debates.

As for Governor Kaine of Virginia, his big problem is, well, Obama's big problem -- who is he? The toughest thing Barack has had to overcome -- and it will continue to be his biggest obstacle -- is that too many of the voters simply don't know him well enough to vote for him. The fact that Obama is new to the scene is both one of his most attractive qualities AND his biggest drawback. Too many Americans, who on the surface seem to like Barack Obama, just don't feel comfortable voting for someone who hasn't been on the national scene very long. It's a comfort level thing, and it may be just what keeps Obama from winning in November ("I'd rather vote for the devil I know than the devil I don't know").

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we've known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all.

That person, Caroline, is you.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: "OBAMA-KENNEDY."

Caroline, I know that nominating yourself is the furthest idea from your mind and not consistent with who you are, but there would be some poetic justice to such an action. Just think, eight years after the last head of a vice presidential search team looked far and wide for a VP -- and then picked himself (a move topped only by his hubris to then lead the country to near ruin while in office) -- along comes Caroline Kennedy to return the favor with far different results, a vice president who helps restore America to its goodness and greatness.

Caroline, you are one of the most beloved and respected women in this country, and you have been so admired throughout your life. You chose a life outside of politics, to work for charities and schools, to write and lecture, to raise a wonderful family. But you did not choose to lead a private life. You have traveled the world and met with its leaders, giving you much experience on the world stage, a stage you have been on since you were a little girl.

The nation has, remarkably (considering our fascination with celebrity), left you alone and let you live your life in peace. (It's like, long ago, we all collectively agreed that, with her father tragically gone, a man who died because he wanted to serve his country, we would look out for her, we would wish for her to be happy and well, and we would have her back. But we would let her be.)

Now, I am breaking this unwritten code and asking you to come forward and help us in our hour of need. So many families are hurting, losing their homes, going bankrupt with health care bills, seeing their public schools in shambles and living with this war without end. This is a historic year for women, from Hillary's candidacy to the numerous women running for the House and Senate. This is the year that a woman should be on the Democratic ticket. This is the year that both names on that ticket should be people OUTSIDE the party machine. This is the year millions of independents and, yes, millions of Republicans are looking for something new and fresh and bold (and you are the Kennedy Republicans would vote for!).

This is the moment, Caroline. Seize it! And Barack, if you're reading this, you probably know that she is far too humble and decent to nominate herself. So step up and surprise us again. Step up and be different than every politician we have witnessed in our lifetime. Keep the passion burning amongst the young people and others who have been energized by your unexpected, unpredicted, against-all-odds candidacy that has ignited and inspired a nation. Do it for all those reasons. Make Caroline Kennedy your VP. "Obama-Kennedy." Wow, does that sound so cool.

Caroline, thanks for letting me intrude on your life. How wonderful it will be to have a vice president who will respect the Constitution, who will support (instead of control) her president, who will never let her staff out a CIA agent, and who will never tell her country that she is "currently residing in an undisclosed location."

Say it one more time: "OBAMA-KENNEDY." A move like that might send a message to the country that the Democrats would actually like to win an election for once.

Michael Moore

Monday, August 18, 2008

It takes faith

I was writing my own piece on yesterday's Gospel reading, but then came across this from Deacon Greg Kandra. It's a beautiful story that brings hope:

This week, in the Boston Globe, I read the story of an elderly couple named Sol and Rita Rogers. They’ve been married 61 years. They’ve raised a family and lived a long and happy life together. A few years ago, that began to change. Rita developed Alzheimer’s. And she is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia.

Several weeks ago, she was taken to a health care center, where she now has to live. The first few days, she screamed and talked incoherently. She could barely form words with her mouth. Most tragically, she could no longer recognize her husband. She had no idea who he was. This was agony for him. He would go home from visiting her, trembling with grief, overwhelmed by sadness.

One morning, he went into her room, and saw her lying there and had an idea – an idea, he said, that could only have come from God. Sol climbed into his wife’s tiny twin bed, and put his arms around her. And he just held her. He hugged her. He whispered to her. That’s all. But something happened. As he put it, “I got into bed with her and loved her and it lifted my depression.” And Rita was transformed, too. She responded to his touch. And she began to talk.

He now does it every day. Rita’s doctor says that her “old memory” recalls being in his arms, remembers how he used to hold her, and part of her is able to come back.

Now Sol spends a couple of hours of every day, just holding Rita, telling her he loves her, and she tells him she loves him. Just as they have for 61 years.

I can’t think of a more beautiful example of what married love is all about – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. The venerable Matt Talbot said that it is constancy that God wants. Persistence. Perseverance. Sol Rogers had that – and more.

And so did the Canaanite woman in today’s gospel.

It comes down to never giving up for someone you love.

Never losing faith.

The Canaanite woman was the mother of a very sick girl, a child tormented by a demon. The girl may have suffered from epilepsy, or schizophrenia. Terrors in the night. Paranoia. Inconsolable fear. We can only imagine what the mother was going through. The helplessness, and the worry.

But this mother had something more powerful. She had faith – faith in someone who was not even a part of her race or religion. Jesus became her last, best hope.

And so the mother went to Jesus and implored his help. Not once. Not twice. But three times. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally, Jesus was so moved by her faith that he couldn’t refuse her. And her daughter was healed.

Hearing this story again, we discover something timeless and true. It is something that St. Paul even mentioned in his famous letter to the Corinthians, the one we hear so often at weddings.

Love never fails. It can spark miracles.

Because love itself is a miracle.

Love that endures across 61 years is a miracle.

Love that pleads for a sick child again and again and again is a miracle.

A miracle of unceasing devotion … and unwavering faith.

Yes: faith. Faith is a subject we’ve been hearing about a lot over the last few weeks in our Sunday readings. Last week, you’ll remember, Peter tried to walk on water, but began to sink when his faith failed him.

We are being taught a valuable lesson in all this. Faith transforms. It can turn water into walkways. And it can drive away demons.

But it requires more than we realize -- more than we often feel able to give.

Faith requires that we keep walking, even when the wind and waves are against us.

Faith demands that we keep pleading, even when God seems to turn away.

Faith asks us to wrap our arms around those we love, even when they don’t remember who we are.

It defies logic, or reason. But that is what is so extraordinary – and so extraordinarily difficult. Faith asks us to believe in the unbelievable…to trust that the impossible will be possible.

Like love, faith asks that we surrender ourselves to something we can never fully understand

And it asks us to persevere.

If we do that, the result may astonish us. We may find ourselves walking where we’ve never walked before. We may see life renewed, and hope restored.

Sol Rogers said he knows that his wife Rita will never fully recover. But he told the Boston Globe, “While she’s with me, I want to enjoy every minute.”

And so he holds her. And she smiles. And the demons are dispelled.

Every day, for as long as he is able, he says he will do this.

Call that love. Call it commitment. But those moments exist because Sol never gave up. He persevered. And he continues to.

Since I read that story, I’ve been thinking of Sol and Rita. I think of them late at night, when I hold my wife’s hand before we go to sleep. I think of what it takes to love, truly love, another. It takes constancy, as Matt Talbot put it. Tenacity. Trust. The belief in something, and Someone, greater than ourselves.

It takes what the Canaanite woman had.

It takes faith.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

high five Jesus

Growing up in Brooklyn, I was very familiar with the little cases that adorned the door frames of some apartment doors. The mezuzah is a scroll inscribed with verses from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. It starts with the phrase "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One." I remember seeing my Jewish friends and neighbors kiss the case with their fingers as they walked into or out of their apartments. It's a reminder to fulfill the Lord's commandments.

I bring this up because recently, while in Ecuador, Wendy and I bought a small wooden cross that we affixed next to our apartment door. The thought was that it would remind us about God's presence and blessings every time we left the apartment and returned. It's our version of the mezuzah in a way.

Living in New York City I find it is common to see the acknowledgment of a God in some way shape or form: Yarmulkes, hijabs, crosses on a chain, kissing the mezuzah, making the sign of the cross, and occassionally a Jesus tatoo on someone's neck. God is somehow everywhere in NYC. But still, I was surprised last night when I saw someone praying before their meal at a bar.

Very rarely you'll see someone bow their heads at a restaurant here, but I don't think I've ever seen it happen at a bar. I met up with a group of folks celebrating a birthday. They'd been out doing a bar crawl since 12 noon. A married couple got hungry at around midnight, got food, and prayed. With an "Amen" and an "I love you" they commenced their meal. It was a beautiful sight. Especially considering the time and place: midnight, a NYC bar, loud, and smokey. Yet still, there was time for God.

In today's Gospel reading, Peter is commanded by Jesus to walk on water towards Him. Peter does, but soon begins to sink and calls out, "Lord, save me!" You hear this a lot, but I wonder how often God hears prayers of "save me" versus prayers of thanksgiving. What would the ratio be?

I know I fall into the "save me" boat often. It's part of the reason we set up the cross by our door. By the way, we set it a little high, over our heads actually. So when we leave the apartment it actually looks like we're giving Jesus a high five. It's like high fiving Jesus for giving you another day in the morning, and giving Him a high five in the evening for bringing you home safely. It's a small step in an action plan to change our ratio.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I saw the sun rise

This morning I was up in time to see the sun rise. This is my first sunrise in our new apartment in Astoria, NY. Usually you only see the sun come up on a Saturday for two reasons: you're getting up early for what is sure to be a nice, long day, or, you haven't gotten to bed yet.

Today, I am of the latter. I'm coming off a long day activity. I started with an hour and half at the gym. After much prayer it seems the will power is making a comeback. It's going to be tough to shed the extra weight I've put on and get back into running shape, but I will. I then went on to build an Ikea dresser. Then, I suited up to play kickball.

Last night my kickball team played their first playoff game. We played like 300 Spartans fending off 10,000 Persians. We gave them hell, but in the end were defeated. It was an inspiring game, not just for the athletics of it, but for the spirit of our team. We were the loudest, most offensive cheer squad in the stands. We made them sweat.

We topped it off with a great Italian dinner with teammates and then went home to rest. But, I was so pumped from the game that I tossed and turned for a few hours. I got up at 4:30am to give friends a ride to the airport. They're going to Aruba for a week and I get to car-sit. Sweet!

As I was driving home, I made note of how "empty" the streets of New York City were at 5:00am on a Saturday. Granted, our "empty" is crazy crowded compared to Bellevue, Nebraska's "empty." But still.

I was tired and driving, looking for a parking spot, and thinking about how blessed I am. I've worked out three times this week. That's a blessing. I have furniture to build. That's a blessing. I play kickball as an adult. That's a blessing. I have a beautiful wife. That's a major blessing. I have great friends who have great friends and together we have a wonderful time. That's a blessing. Friends trust me with their cars. Suckers. I mean, that's a blessing.

So, as I sat at my newly built Ikea kitchen table, I thought, "Isn't it grand that I get see another sunrise? Ain't that a blessing?"

And soon, hopefully soon, sleep will come. And, yes, that too will be a blessing.