Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wildflowers

wildflowers grow
in my classroom sown
tangled weeds in bloom
from vacant lots are blown.
try as i might
i cannot tame them
i cannot loosen concrete dirt
and count them as my friends.
 
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pirates!

Interesting commentary on the recent spate of pirate attacks... and our inability, or unwillingness, to do anything about it.
 
"Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good Articles

First, an excellent word on conservatism in a dark hour for the "conservatives."
Confusion About Conservatives, Udo Middleman
 
And then a point, counter-point on the sovereignty of God. Or are they all that far apart?
Udo
Piper
 
 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The CHOICE

There are so many voices out there. Some voices out there are genuine- they really want the public to reconsider the direction, purpose, and leadership of the nation. Election time should be a time of reflection, soul-searching, and ultimately commitment.
Some voices are clearly disengenuous. The mantra of "Vote Now!" is really a mantra of "Vote Now (for X Candidate)!" In the battle of voter turnout, motivations don't matter.
Some voices are plainly naive. As if we weren't dealing with flesh and blood, real problems, and the reality that we'll have a new president, whether democrat and republican, and we'll still be in Iraq -for a long time.
So here's the thing. There are two choices for President- or three, if each veep counts as a half. So as much as I think election time is a perfect opportunity to renew our democratic vigor, in the end, it's still Obama or McCain. Choose.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Forgotten Holiday

Today was Columbus Day? You wouldn't have known it.
The truth is, I hardly have an appreciation for his accomplishments and determination. That is a factor of the inherited lack of respect in education and in society as a whole that Columbus receives. He has been so thoroughly dissed and dismissed by academia (in the past 30 years) disregard for this new world hero has been thoroughly diffused throughout our society. Is this fair? I don't know.

But history wasn't always so hard on Columbus. A few of the thousands of Columbus memorials around the world are pictured here, including the D.C. memorial (center) for which over 200,000 people showed up for its unveiling under President Taft.
At the far left is the more modern Columbus memorial in Philadelphia. And below, Barcelona's towering memorial.













Google, my recent whipping boy, chose to highlight Paddington Bear's 50th birthday -not a figure to be trifled with for sure - but over Christopher Columbus?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

While I Was Sleeping

The Sun carried an article on Monday with the headline "There's a Gold Mine in Environmental Guilt: Carbon-Offset Sales Brisk Despite Financial Crisis." Almost overnight, in the midst of my adolescent slumber, a new god, a new agenda.


They signed a petition that marked out the ground
Saying, "This half is lost, and this half is found.
He's to be tossed, she's to be crowned,
and so on and so forth their future was bound."
The lawyers and statesmen shook hands and agreed
Smiled for the photo and planted a seed
Crammed in some tears, said a quick prayer
Mumbled some lines like, "We'll clean up the air
We'll blow up some stars, and detox the tar!"

He mumbled then burped then jumped in his car
And never again was the beast in their story
They buried the past in all of its glory

Never a whimper, never a notion
They banned all seduction, not even an ocean
Well its castles to ruins and motion to cease
They sliced off his head for the ruin of the beast
(Stephen Delopoulos, 'The Ruin of the Beast')

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meat on Meat

Baltimore Dog Magazine (Fall 2008) features an article entitled "The Raw Truth," chronicling a "new evolution" in dog feeding. Apparently the raw deer meet and chopped bones my girlfriend was feeding to Fido while housesitting is part of a brilliant discovery. Dogs don't just love raw meat, it's better for them. The irony is that our pampered canine children will now be eating the chopped pieces of their own animal species. It appears that dogs are inferior afterall- they're carnivrous. While we content ourselves with soy beef and rabbit food, our domestic beasts are feasting on animal blood. Savages!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh Google, My Darling


I was just wondering- for all the fun, interesting, and historical notes Google makes by altering it's logo, why the silence today?

Surely the greatest tragedy of modern American history deserves something.

There are a variety of strange and disturbing notions that I am picking up on, seven years down the road.



1) We, the United States of America, deserved 9-11, so we're actually embarassed by it

2) Bush has become such a villain in American eyes, and since 9-11 is practically his doing, we ignore it

3) What happened on September 11, 2001?



I wonder what sketchy knowledge, if any, my 14 year old students have of the event. Should I bring in pictures?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Questions

"Can we critique the issues -- and the man -- without resorting to racial interpretations and recriminations? If McCain wins, can his victory simply be a loss for Democrats -- and not a loss specifically for African-Americans? The answers to those questions will be the measure of whether we've really progressed to the point we claim."
-Kathleen Parker, Chicago Tribune, 6\6\08

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home?

This week, parents of the Texas based Mormon polygamists were cleared to regain custody of their children. I can only feel relieved for the sake of the children, taken from their parents. And my sympathy lies with the family institution, and not Social Services. Reflecting back on my own childhood, I am reminded of the manila folder my parents kept by the doorway and their instructions that we should thrust the file into the hands of any social worker that might come by asking us personal questions. We were homeschooled, and the folder contained a basic set of our rights as a homeschooling family in New Jersey and the number of our lawyers- in this case, the Homeschool Legal Defense Alliance.
At the same time, there is something definitely wrong, twisted, and immoral about this particular Texas cult. While the initial tip may have been a hoax, there is clearly illegal activity going on, not to mention un-godly activity. How could the situation have been handled better?
At some point I heard a murmur of a possible negotiation for the return of the children, based on a commitment from parents to give up certain practices. It's that sort of lanugage that makes me pretty nervous because of how it seems it might easily become something much more intrusive.
As with all moral-governmental intersections, however, there is a dangerous deception that can occur. We much too easily forget that all laws are moral, and are laws are meant to mandate and model social morality.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Pathetic Discrepancy

I really don't know how to take it in and put it into perspective. If I were to report to you the current death toll in Myanmar I would honestly have to say that it was between 100,000 to 200,000 - a pathetically large discepancy, one to two thousand human lives- as if the word "to" does any justice to the difference.
And now the death toll in China is climbing to 15,000.
I cannot imagine this kind of loss. It doesn't register.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Travelogue Snippet

The shower felt great. As I peeled the winter skin from my back in one long continuous shell I thought back over my recently ended Florida spring break. I’ve been thinking that I’m getting old, but maybe not that old. First stop on the way there was Graceland. Everyone rolls out of road trip coma and stumbles into the closest bar. It was our lucky day! Honest Abe was in the blessed place, sipping on pale ale and eyeing the ladies. Lucky for him, he was immediately propositioned by the co-driver who was disappointed to discover that Abe is now a paid city employee who wanders local bars blowing the minds of similarly wasted spring breakers and shotgun fianc├ęs. Several hours later, we were back on the road again. No more stops.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The National Debt

In an otherwise largely vitriolic opinion piece, Robert Scheer sad something painfully true in the San Francisco Chronicle today.
The Bear Sterns bailout "was made possible only by the federal government using your tax dollars to pick up the bad debt of the banks. Tape that picture to your wall to remind you, when you open a credit-card bill with a 30 percent interest rate - not the 2 percent the fed will charge banks - or see the increase in your adjustable-rate mortgage, of just what your government will do for the really big guys that it will never do for regular folks
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/19/EDVOVLURS.DTL
So who is the real victim?

Today I spent away a sizable tax refund on paying off three separate private education loans. It is such a relief to be free of these relatively higher interest debts (9-12%). The rest of my college was paid for by Northwestern's endowment and federally subzisdized loans with fixed interest rates of around 6%. It was only until December of this year that I managed not to carry a credit card balance since my second year of college. I say this, because in general I feel like I have been overall responsible with money. I've tried to avoid being a slave to it, while at the same time not being afraid to use it to my advantage. Credit cards in college allowed me to experience a lot of things that I would have been left out of, and still manage to purchase the required textbooks. I remember accidentally missing a monthly payment during my junior year of college and watching my interest rate skyrocket. I am no math major, but I realized that at the rate I had, even on a relatively small balance, it would literally take years at the minimum payment to pay the debt off. I told the friendly customer service operator this, and after haggling, I got my low interest rate back. Just like that, a click of the button. I think that's when I realized for the first time, fully, the fact that the credit card company really didn't want me to pay them back. When I realized that I was sort of disgusted, but I also knew that the joke was on me. I could plead ignorance, or I could face the music. There's a price for everything- it was my debt after all. My road trips, bar tab, spring break...
So who is the real victim?

The truth is, we all are. Victims often of our own greed. People bought houses they couldn't afford because of greed. Banks gave loans on dubious terms because of greed. And of course, this is all the President's fault.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wings Like Eagles




Vicki Van Meter died Saturday night, it was reported today, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 26. I remember reading about her cross country flight at age 11. As I think back, it was one of those things that inspired me to take flying my lessons myself.
I wonder if God met her in the clouds. When you fly, you do feel a bit more free, a bit closer to Him, "with wings like eagles."

Dear Vicki, "why do you say, my way is hidden from the lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength."

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Full Weekend, A Full Heart

An incredible weekend at home with family in the Philadelphia area was capped off by the baptism of Eve Marie Church by her grandfather, Rev. Thomas Church (my father).


On Saturday, Immanuel OPC in Bellmawr celebrated my parents "50 years of love a devotion" -30 years of marriage and 20 years of ministry at Immanuel. It was so overwhelming to be reminded of how much my family has been loved and cared for over the years!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why it didn't work out...


To summarize for now, one might say that she was a Lady Margaret when what I'm really looking for is a Ms. Dashwood
But one might counter, I myself am no Edward.
Perhaps I'll leave both to Mr. Grant and consider it good policy not to let Jane Austen adaptations guide ones romantic sensibilities. It is an excellent film.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feeling Better




In the fall of 2006, I sat around a table with 15 or so Northwestern University students and University President Henry Bienen as part of an American Studies seminar on Foreign Policy. To much disbelief, I suggested that the "Star Wars" program was in the process of seeing a new light pointing out that while the world scoffed, yearly funding for what had become the Missile Defense System was on the rise in the face of increasingly successful implementation and testing. I suggested that the completion of a defense system would have significant impact on the balance of power and future discussions of non-proliferation, and the distribution of long range weapons. No one (all very intelligent people, and smarter than myself), including President Bienen, thought much of my comments.

Today, President Bush was given the opportunity to make a statement that few seem to appreciate. Whether or not the defunct spy satellite's fuel tank posed a truly significant threat to humans on the ground, the admittedly high price tag for its man-made destruction in space was well worth it. The message is clear and while lost on the domestic masses, is clearly heard by the world. The missile defense system is a reality. Once again, the United States foots the bill for world stability, and it remains a much better prospect to be an ally, than a foe.

Interestingly, this evening the story has largely dropped from the news. The earth shattering significance of this event has been left to the historians.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You Won't Understand This

Hello, my name is Asahel and if you are thinking that I have an interesting name- you are absolutely right. My name, Asahel, is Hebrew, and it can be translated as "God Works."  I want to share with you how the meaning of my name- God works- has proven true in my life.

I am more of a college basketball fan than anything else, so I hope no one will be offended if I rag on the NBA for a minute. It's not uncommon to see in an NBA game a player who just really thinks a lot of themselves. And you know how you can tell? Every time they get called for a foul they get so bent out of shape, making all sorts of faces and gestures and yelling at the referees. Now I understand there is subjectivity in the interpretation of the rules, and refs do get the wrong call at times, but even so, the reaction of the player tells me one thing- that the player thinks he is really great. He thinks that he is above doing wrong! Or that the rules shouldn't apply! Or that that referee is such an idiot! You see, whether or not a foul was actually committed, it is a sense of superiority that guides the players poor attitude.

            Well, the truth is, so many of us, including myself, live life in such a similar way. Since the day I was born I have gone around thinking much too highly of myself, and while I claim to be humble, the truth is revealed every time I lose my patience with someone, react poorly, blame someone else, criticize others. Let me give you an example- I am an 8th grade English teacher, and as you can imagine, that takes a lot of patience. Much of my day is spent wrestling with the students for their attention rather than exploring the wonders of the English language. And you know what? Some days I really lose it, I blow up, yell and say smart things back at the kids. It's terribly wrong, and it reveals something of my heart every time. I think I deserve better! I think I am such a great teacher that my students should be wrapped in awe every time I open my mouth. No it doesn't excuse the students behavior, and neither does it make it ok when that NBA referee makes the wrong call, but I'm still responsible for my reaction, and my reaction reveals a proud heart that thinks way too much of itself.

            And isn't that the way it is through all of life. Despite the tough things that we encounter from day to day- whether it's homework, being made fun of at school, parents who won't let you go out on weeknights, kids with bad attitudes, unresponsive husbands and wives, or the stress of work- we also seem to know how to make those difficulties ten times worse with our reaction to them! We think we deserve better!

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "There is no one righteous, not one." Even though I am prone to think that I have it all together, the Bible tells me that perfect obedience is out of reach for the sinner. Fortunately, the Bible also says this, "We know God's love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It's a strange concept- someone dying for you. Despite our proud hearts, Jesus Christ gave up everything. He had to suffer and die so that we could be forgiven of our failings. In other words, grace came into the equation of life so that instead of being punished for our pride we receive blessing far greater than we can imagine.

I was blessed to have God impress this truth upon my heart at an early age in my life, but man, I feel like I am still learning what this actually means. It means recognizing that I am not deserving of anything. It means that in gratitude for what Christ has done for me, I should extend grace to others. And as I humble myself before God in the light of his amazing grace, God has indeed worked in my life and blessed me tremendously. Not in a Joel Osteen, have faith and get rich sort of way, but in ways far greater and meaningful. The least of which is that he has given me a family of believers, a church, who care and look after me, and whom I also can love and care for in return.

If this seems absolutely strange to you, you are not alone. During his earthly life Jesus Christ spent a lot of time with people who couldn't understand his message. Time after time, Jesus responded to doubters and seekers alike by trying to do one thing – to show them their hearts. From the women at the well, to the Pharisee leaders of his day, to his own disciples, Christ responded in a wide variety of ways, but each time, his purpose was to open his listeners' eyes to the hardness of their own hearts and their need for Him and his sacrifice. It's the same with you. God wants to show you your heart, and the depth of its fallen state. Until you see that truth, you'll never understand your need for a savior.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dreaming of Sailing Fast


This is the new and beautiful boat that my sailing partner in crime just purchased for the 08' season. I am absolutely itching to get out in her! She's a 25 year old 505, but don't be fooled, underneath the wood veneer is good as new, stiff as rock honeycomb design fiberglass. Just a few weeks for the ice to clear out and I'll be planing over the water at ridiculous speeds, all by simly harnessing the wind!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gained and Lost

This week I learned that one of my former girlfriends is engaged and preparing for a summer wedding. The first engagment in fact, among that category of women in my life. I am of course extremely happy for her and her groom (also a high school friend). So perhaps we can say that something is gained but also lost. Or is it just irrelevant?
My brother has the distinction of having at least 5 women in his life who married the next man they dated after him. At 25, this makes him nervous.
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

a facebook world

A month or so back I saw that an out of touch friend was listed as dating someone on facebook (what a way to learn something) but then just recently the lovely newsfeed feature announced that the relationship had ended. And then I wondered what to do with the information that I hadn't rightfully earned by genuine human interaction.
It is a strange facebook world we live in, but it is what it is. Sometimes I don't know whether to approve or disapprove? And I wonder why we're so afraid of being known anyway? Eighteenth century new england towns (think Salem) have made a comeback in the form of an online village, and I'm not sure whether its gossip, voyeurism, or keeping in touch!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Test of Email to Blogger Function

This is a test, only a test.

Beaver Dam Thinking

A random connection led me to an article from the Onion "Beaver Overthinking Dam" http://www.theonion.com/content/node/47469
Do we waste a lot of time thinking about how to dam up the river? Stupid beavers.

A metaphor with a lot of potential for sure.
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