Here I Stand

Martin Luther's famous statement to the Imperial Diets of Worms as presented in the 2003 movie titled Luther. Inspiring response regardless of your religious persuasion.

An Opportunity to Love Kids

Halloween.. a somewhat controversial day in some Christian circles. I love what my blog friend Amber wrote about the topic last year. A few excerpts from her excellent posting:

I love Halloween. :) Its fun. I'm not worshiping Satan when I dress up and give kids candy. Its an opportunity to love kids. For some of us, it may be the only contact we have with our neighbors. For me, its a way to relate to kids where they're at.
I'm going to give them candy and be friendly to them and dress up with them and play with them because that's how you communicate love to a kid at Halloween time. And isn't communicating Love what we're supposed to be about?
Its all about where your heart is. I think kids get that. They understand the difference between real and make-believe. Its the adults that have the issues with it.
I love that idea about it being an opportunity to love kids.. it is a positive way to view the day. What other positive ways do you celebrate the day?

The Religion of Not

Commenting on the Atheist Alliance International convention in Burbank, California this month Rice University humanities professor Anthony Pinn reflects here that atheists:
  • Share with fundamentalists of any religion an inability for critical self-reflection and critique.
  • Have formed, in effect, the religion of "not," defined by what they refuse and rebuke.
  • Believe that religion is the single most dangerous human creation.
I have understood for some time that fundamentalism is something that knows no ideology.. in a sense it can only be escaped when you escape the extremes of ideology. So it is no surprise to me that others like Pinn see fundamentalist traits in atheism. Interesting how he characterizes atheism as a religion in reverse calling it one of "not".

And it did not surprise me to hear that folks like Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens consider religion to be dangerous. Right here in Kansas City religion has had a negative influence in our city.. all but one of our hospitals were started by religious folks.. homeless shelters and soup kitchens are run by those evil religious folks.. and many religious groups have food pantries.. they are quite a dangerous lot.

What's Up with Lucrative Book Deals?

Just heard that Sarah Palin was advanced 1.25 million dollars for her new "Going Rogue" book. Got me to wondering how much other folks have made from book deals. Here is an unsubstantiated list of a few other book deals:
  • Senator Ted Kennedy received a $2 million advance for his memoirs in 2008.
  • Singer Britney Spears signed a $14 million publishing deal to write a no-holds-barred account of her career last January.
  • Hillary Clinton got an $8 million advance for her book "Living History" in 2000 from Simon and Schuster.
  • Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan got $8.5 million from Penguin Press for his memoir "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World".
  • Obama campaign manager David Plouffe signed a seven-figure deal to write “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory” to be published by Viking Press.
  • Miley Cyrus signed a $7 million book deal last year with Disney Book Group for her "Mile to Go" book.
  • Joe The Plumber, aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, signed a deal last year for his book, "Joe the Plumber -- Fighting for the American Dream".
  • Former GE CEO Jack Welch got $7.1 million from TimeWarner Books.
  • VP Dick Cheney signed a $2 million deal with Simon and Schuster in June.
  • President Bill Clinton received a $15 million advance from the Knopf Publishing Group to write "My Life", his 2004 autobiography.
And just out today - Andre Agassi reportedly tells all about his crystal meth addiction in his new book "Open".. he reportedly got $5 million from a Random House affiliate.. guess you have to spice it up when they give you that much dough.

So I just gotta wonder.. why are we so interested in these folks? Do you think that they are really worth the big bucks? Have you read any of these books? I confess that I have not. If you have read any of these please share your perspectives on them. Christmas is coming.. maybe we need to add them to our shopping list?

Cable News Neck Chokers

One of the great things that Baby Boomers brought to the American business culture was the idea of "Business Casual". Up until 1990 I worked in an environment where guys wore ties and gals dressed to the nines. In the early nineties Baby Boomers began to gain control of the business environment and wool pants gave way to khakis which gave way to "Casual Friday" jeans.

So I gotta ask: "What's up with TV anchors wearing those neck chokers?" Both on a national and local level I am constantly amazed at how the "news" folks still hang on to this aging dress code. Really - who are they trying to impress? If you wear a neck choker in the tech world you are written off as a power-broker bureaucrat that doesn't know much about the work.. and I do wish that the idea is an uninformed one.

So my suggestion is that TV and Cable News Anchors start slowly and get a bit casual on Fridays and weekends. Maybe substitute a sweater or golf shirt for the starched shirt and neck chokers? What do you think? Do you care what they wear?

29-Day Giving Challenge

I saw MS patient and author Cami Walker on the Today Show this morning and found her story to be inspirational. Here is her story in brief from the 29 Gifts website:
The first day of my personal 29-Day Giving Challenge was preceded by a sleepless night. I was awake all night feeling angry and sorry for myself during a difficult flare up of my Multiple Sclerosis. When insomnia hits, I often go through old journals and read them. I found a note that I'd made during a phone session with one of my spiritual teachers, Mbali Creazzo, two months before. The note said, "Give something away each day for 29 days." It was 3 a.m. and I decided in that moment to take the suggestion.

And so my 29-Day Giving Challenge began that morning as I gave my first gift -- a simple supportive phone call to another friend living with MS. I woke up the next day and the next day after that feeling excited about what I might give away. And I began to notice that the more I gave away, the more abundance I was experiencing for myself.
Dealing with a chronic illness like MS or Devics Disease (my wife's illness) can take everything out of you. I so admire Cami Walker's story.. I appreciated how she struggled.. how she forced herself out of bed to give a small gift each day for 29 days.. and I was amazed to hear her speak of not needing her cane after a few weeks.

I think that I will order the book and hope with Cami.. and maybe even embrace her message of giving something small each day. After all Thanksgiving is next month.

$375,000 Lexus LF-A Roadster

With Christmas coming up I thought that I would bring this to your attention. According to this USA Today article Toyota became the hit of the Tokyo Motor Show yesterday with the debut of its $375,000 Lexus LFA supercar. You can order one for your favorite guy and they will customize it for you - but hurry because they are only making 500 of them.

God is with us if we are with the Poor

I loved these things that Bono said:

Love thy neighbor is not a piece of advice, it is a command.

God has a special place for the poor.

Where you live should not decide whether you live
or whether you die.

The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost and lives are shattered. (Standing ovation.) God is with the mother who has infected a child with a virus that will take both their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during wartime.

God, my friends, is with the poor, and God is with us if we are with them.
Please join me in asking how we can be with God and the poor today.

Soupy Sales, 1926-2009

I was saddened to hear that Soupy Sales died yesterday at a hospital in the Bronx. I loved to watch the Soupy Sales show when I was growing up in New York. It was so offbeat and unusual. I loved Pookie, White Fang, Black Tooth and his trademark pie in the face.. apparently he took 20,000 of them in his life.. he was so funny. Please join me in asking God to comfort his friends and family.

God, send me angels....

Last month I wrote about a human-angelic experience I had in an ICU right before my first wife Ellen passed away. Today I bring you a great and inspirational story from my good friend Eileen.

I was flying home from a great week with my Florida family. My emotions were mixed as we said good-bye. It was hard to leave them, but I was really ready to be home again; ready to be back to my husband and my own house.

I’ve flown alone before and everything has always gone well. Still, each trip brings a bit of anxiety. Being wheelchair bound, I am totally dependent on airline and airport personnel to get me on, off, and down long concourses to my next plane. I always wonder, “What if I miss that connecting flight…?” I was about to find out.

My first flight had a problem docking to the jet-way. Many minutes were lost and time was already short. The courier pushing my wheelchair hurried my through the airport as fast as he could, but I was too late. I missed my flight! The courier took me to Customer Service. The next available flight home wouldn’t leave until the following morning. They offered me a hotel room, but without someone to help me, that was an impossible prospect. I knew I needed to stay in the airport.

So, there I was, sitting at my morning gate in a manual wheelchair that I was not strong enough to move. I was confident that I would be OK; that I could sit there for 12 hours and wait patiently. I called Marvin to tell him my situation. Then I began to talk to God. I asked Him to send me angels to keep me company.

Marvin called Jason (Eileen's son) with the news. Jason and Nicole prayed. Nicole asked God to send me angels. Marvin called his Mom. She prayed with Marvin over the phone and asked God to send me angels. Then God began to move! Marvin’s Mom called her niece, Martha. Martha called her daughter, Melissa, who lives in southern Georgia. Melissa called her friend, Missy, who lives in Atlanta. All these followers of Jesus were determined to find a way to help me. Phone calls followed into the night as they went through possibilities.

It was Missy and her friend, Christine, (two women I had never met) who finally drove an hour to the airport late that night. Through sheer determination they finally found someone who could and would find me and push me out of the secured area to them. Missy and Christine were my angels. God had answered our prayers.

Missy and Christine are both mothers of young children who sacrificed a night’s peace and rest and their own priorities to answer God’s call and meet my needs. They spent the night with me, helping me to the bathroom, providing food, and having a lot of fun conversation. To me it seemed like a party! We had fun! In the morning they got me back to my gate before they said good-bye and returned to their families. After they’d gone I realized that I didn’t even know their last names.

It never occurred to me before that night that God uses people to do the angel-thing sometimes. It’s a lesson I want to remember. I’d really like the privilege of being someone’s angel someday. I hope that when the opportunity comes, I will gladly make the sacrifice. Thank you, Missy and Christine!

WWW: Expensive Old Hair

In this edition of Weird World Wednesday, I submit to you an excerpt from a Forbes article titled Elvis' hair sells for $15K at Chicago auction:
A clump of hair believed to have been trimmed from Elvis Presley's head when he joined the Army in 1958 has sold for $15,000 at a Chicago auction house.

Also among the 200 Elvis-related items up for grabs at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago on Sunday was a shirt that once belonged to the King which sold for $52,000.

The buyer of the hair paid $15,000 plus an additional $3,300 in auction house fees.
In the words of a cliche it seems that some folks have more money than sense.. and don't you think that hair is pretty gross? Wonder what the shirt looked like?

IsTolerance all about Peace?

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” -Peace Pilgrim

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

“The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one's own tradition with reverence for different traditions.” -Abraham Heschel

“Peace is not won by those who fiercely guard their differences, but by those who with open minds and hearts seek out connections.” -Katherine Paterson

“The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own.” -Eric Hoffer

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” -Ralph W. Sockman

“The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with.” -Eleanor Holmes Norton

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. -Jesus Christ (NLT)

Tolerance: Extremists Need Not Apply?

I was recently invited by a Facebook friend to read A Manifesto by John Shelby Spong.
In it the retired Episcopalian Bishop makes some pretty outrageous statements.. like..
  • "I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility."
  • "I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude."
  • "My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable."
Bishop Spong uses the word tolerate several times saying that he will no longer tolerate the views of people who do not agree with him on homosexuality. It got me to thinking and trading comments with my blogging buddy Joe around the idea of tolerance. I decided to check my friend the dictionary and found these definitions of tolerance:
  1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. 
  2. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
I like to think of myself as someone who has grown in this area of tolerance.. that said I think that we all have areas of intolerance.. even so.. I wonder why folks like Spong do not come across to some as intolerant like right-wing squawk radio hosts do?

I have often said that Fundamentalism is not limited to the right side of our culture. Many who embrace liberal and left-leaning ideologies (like Spong) are just as fundamentally narrow and intolerant of other's views. So I have to wonder if tolerance is an idea that can only be found amongst folks that have a moderate ideology?

What do you think? Can one be a tolerant person and hold extreme positions?

And please be nice.. I do not moderate comments but I do not tolerate incivility :)

Zombies in the Manger

I think that we all groan when we see Christmas decorations being advertised and sold in October. It seems that each year places like Walmart get a bit more desperate in hawking their seasonal wares. I sighed when I saw Halloween costumes and decorations lining the store aisles last month.

A friend recently noted that it seems like Thanksgiving is no longer recognized as the stores jump over it going directly from Halloween to Christmas. Hmmm. Got to thinking about it and tried to remember what the stores looked like when I was growing up - did they sell a lot of Thanksgiving decorations.. I don't think they did?

I seem to remember a time when stores brought Christmas things out of the backroom at Thanksgiving. Now I am not saying that it is evil for stores to rush that season. Neither am I saying that it is wrong to shop for Christmas in October. I am just wondering is some of those greedy zombies have worked there way into our culture.

Do you ever buy Christmas things in October? Do you know of anyone who does?

Balloon Fixation: Hoax or No Hoax?

I was gone for most of the day on Thursday and caught a bit of this strange story on my phone via Twitter of all places.. thanks Twit buddies :)

As it turns out this might have been a hoax.. what do you all think? Hoax or no hoax?

Life as a Prayer

Instead of merely saying a prayer..
perhaps our lives can be prayerful expressions to God.

Instead of merely giving a heavenly thanks..
perhaps our lives will be filled with thankfulness.

Instead of merely asking for divine forgiveness..
perhaps our lives can be lived from forgiving hearts.

Instead of merely singing songs of worship..
perhaps our lives will be transformed in living worship.

Instead of merely interceding for others..
perhaps our lives can be poured out in service to them.

Instead of merely petitioning God for grace..
perhaps our lives will be display glorious graciousness.

Instead of merely loving God in a prayer..
perhaps our lives can be rooted in love for God and others.

Instead of merely praying..
perhaps we will live life as a prayer.

© Kansas Bob

TT: Revolutionary Prosthetics

In this edition of Tech Thursday, I submit to you this excerpt from an article titled
Winner: The Revolution Will Be Prosthetized:

It’s October at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., and Jonathan Kuniholm (pictured above) is playing ”air guitar hero,” a variation on Guitar Hero , the Nintendo Wii game that lets you try to keep up with real musicians using a vaguely guitarlike controller. But the engineer is playing without a guitar. More to the point, he’s playing without his right hand, having lost it in Iraq in 2005. Instead he works the controller by contracting the muscles in his forearm, creating electrical impulses that electrodes then feed into the game. After about an hour he beats the high score set by Robert Armiger, a two-armed Johns Hopkins University engineer who modified Guitar Hero to train amputees to use their new prostheses.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is pouring at least US $71.2 million into the program in the hope that it will let amputees do what most people take for granted: make gestures, test the water in a teacup, turn a key, even peel the shell off an egg. Words like bionic and thought -controlled have been thrown at the project, but they don’t do justice to the sheer ordinariness of its purpose. DARPA isn’t looking for a superstrong ”Six Million Dollar Man” arm; it just wants an arm that moves exactly like a real one does.
Pretty amazing stuff.. makes me glad for our wounded veterans.

Vambo: New Vampire Action Flick

Got this image on a blog this morning and began thinking about a new action hero.. kind of a cross between Sylvester Stallone and Bela Lugosi. What do you think?

11/23/08: According to this AP article the vampire romance "Twilight" has drained the box office in its opening weekend with ticket sales totaling $70.5 million. Feeling a bit like Jerry Seinfeld, I have to ask - What's the deal with vampire movies?

It seems that these movies are so popular these days. It used to be that vampires were covered mainly in the (sometimes campy) horror genre and pretty much stayed out of the mainstream of cinema.

Movies like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" elicited a new teenage audience.. the same I suspect that bought "Twilight" tickets this weekend.

I found movies like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Interview with the Vampire" pretty gross and wish I hadn't seen either of them.. guess I was a bit curious.. of course (being cheap) I caught the TV versions but still didn't care for them.

So what do you think? Do you like vampire movies?

Flight of the Snowbird

Saw a flock of birds heading south the other day.. alas I think that winter is closing in on us here in Kansas City. After Ann's chemo in December we are considering the flight of the snow bird. According to the wiki:

The term Snowbird is used to describe people from the Northeast, Midwestern United States, or Canada who spend a large portion of winter in warmer locales such as California, Arizona, Florida, The Carolinas, or elsewhere along the Sunbelt region of the southern and southwest United States, areas of the Caribbean, and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
I would be interested in any snowbird destinations that you have enjoyed.. especially ones that you might deem within driving distance from the midwest and ones that might be wheelchair accessible. And while you are pondering I suggest that you listen to Elvis sing about the snowbird here.

WWW: Worlds Oldest Female Athlete

In this edition of Weird World Wednesday, I submit to you this video of 100-year-old athlete and great grandmother Ruth Frith.. the world's oldest female athlete. Ruth won a gold medal and broke a world record in the shot put at the World Masters Games in Sydney.. she was the only competitor in her category of women aged from 100 to 104. Amazing.. simply amazing.

The Problem With Sequels

Guess it has been a while since I saw a great sequel to a great movie. Here are a few examples of the good and bad that I have seen:
  • Godfather II was great.. Godfather III not so much.. maybe if Michael hadn't killed off Fredo and Robert Duvall didn't snub III?
  • Rocky II was pretty good but III, IV and V got progressively worse.. however Rocky Balboa seemed to pull it off.. albeit with Rocky the Geezer :)
  • Indiana Jones.. number 2 was bad.. Sean brought number 3 back to life.. but even a nostalgic guy like me had a hard time with the 2008 version.. but I did kind of like it. Lets hope they don't try an Indy 5.
  • The X Files.. just saw the latest installment.. should have never left the genre of TV.. I had such great memories.. the show was great.. the movies stunk.
  • Die Hard.. hmmm.. can't remember anything about those sequels.. I think Bruce was in them all.. not so sure about Bonnie though.
  • Star Wars.. gotta wonder why Lucas had to ruin a truly great trilogy? We really didn't need to know that much about Darth Vader!
  • The Lord of the Rings - not a bad sequel in the mix.. of course the screenplay and plot were already in place.. but man they were all great!
  • 007.. many of you know that I am a self-professed  Bondaholic.. I like even the bad ones.. yes even "Never Say Never".. which Connery should have said never to. Of course I have not been too happy with the last few.. don't think we need a British version Jackie Chan or Jean-Claude Van Damme.
How about you? What is your favorite sequel? Your least favorite?

Marcia Merrick: The Ultimate Volunteer

10/13 Update: Got the video and the following message from Marcia's daughter Molly:

We got the call that we all where waiting for I am sad to say she did not win. But the cool thing is she was one of the top three people and that 50,000 votes where cast for everyone. Marcia wanted me to pass this along to all of you:

"No body should be disappointed. We won getting people aware of the homeless people of Kansas city. Thanks again!"

Thanks again for all your help we could not have done it with out all your help and believing in this! If you would like to volunteer, donate, or make a comment, please contact Marcia Merrick at:

Reaching Out Incorporated :: P.O. Box 493 :: Mission, Kansas 66201

10/11: My friend Patti has been asking people to vote for Marcia as The Ultimate Volunteer.. here is the writeup on this inspirational person:

Imagine getting up at 4:20 am to make 400 peanut butter sandwiches to pass out to the homeless in your city....EVERY DAY! That is what Marcia Merrick does, every day! She provides these sandwiches to ensure that the homeless of our city have some decent food. That is not all though, she lives her life to help make other's lives better. The homeless or just starting out will come to her with their food, clothing or shelter needs and she will call on friends, community and church to help her out-again every day. She will take people to the food store or gas station and fulfill a need. She scours garage sales just to get things for the needy. She understands the homeless community and makes sure that she is not enabling bad behavior but truly helping. Although some would like to go out with Marcia on her food deliveries, she is particular with this type of help, because what she does can be dangerous. Kids from our community can get involved by coloring paper lunch sacks, and sometimes groups help Marcia--but she is the lead volunteer and most often does it alone. Marcia would not consider herself amazing---just doing what needs to be done EVERY DAY.

If you are so inclined to vote please click here.. today is the last day to vote.

Winter Wheels

Anyone care to offer a caption for this pic?

Afghanistan: More Questions than Answers

Over at Tom Ricks compares "President Bush's decision to surge in Iraq to President Obama's current deliberations." This point in his article caused me to reflect a bit:
"Second, when Bush endorsed the surge, he was rejecting the advice of almost all his military advisors. By contrast, if Obama goes for a troop escalation, he will be embracing the recommendations of his generals."

Ann and I were talking about a surge in Afghanistan a few days ago and I opined about how it is not always wise to listen to the generals.. military officers are tasked to wage and win wars.. presidents and their advisors are tasked to determine the advisability of wars and their accompanying escalations.

When I think about the war in Afghanistan I wonder what the strategy should be over there. I wonder if winning over there is simply keeping terrorists engaged.. keeping them off our American soil. When I think about a major escalation in that war I think about how weary our troops (and their families) are and wonder how much more these few will have to sacrifice for us. I also wonder if a national draft is being considered along with an escalation in forces in Afghanistan. I guess I have more questions than answers.

What do you think we should do in Afghanistan?

Operation Phish Phry

According to this FBI memo issued a few days ago:
The largest number of defendants ever charged in a cyber crime case have been indicted in a multinational investigation conducted in the United States and Egypt that uncovered a sophisticated “phishing” operation that fraudulently collected personal information from thousands of victims that was used to defraud American banks.
Operation Phish Phry marks the first joint cyber investigation between Egyptian law enforcement authorities and United States officials, which include the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles. Phish Phry, with 53 defendants charged in United States District Court, also marks the largest cyber crime investigation to date in the United States.
Kudos to Egypt and the FBI.. now they need to get a few spammers

Murphy's Laws - Truer Than We Think?

I was thinking about Murphy's Law this rainy morning as I was inflating my low front tire.. when I got back to my laptop I googled and found this image below and this website. Here are just a few amusing "laws" from the site:
I loved that last one.. and sometimes wonder if it is true for me

Do you have a favorite to add to the list?

NASA: Still Spending Our Money

Heard this morning that 79 million of our tax dollars will be used by NASA to blast the moon.. no wonder NASA chief Mike Griffin (pictured below) is so happy. Here is a clip from the story:
Early Friday morning, NASA will slam two spacecraft into the moon in the hope of unearthing signs of water.

The spacecraft, called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS, will break into two parts to hit the moon a few minutes apart. First the Centaur upper stage rocket will hit the lunar crater Cabeus near the southern pole, sending a plume of debris about 6 miles above the moon. LCROSS then will fly through the debris, collecting and analyzing the debris, searching for signs of water ice before slamming into the moon at 5,000 miles per hour.
Stories like this help me realize that NASA is not dead but alive and spending our tax dollars. I used to be very pro space exploration.. but these days I wonder if our destiny lays in space or maybe we should be exploring other things?

Sounds a bit cynical to me.. somebody help me get NASA positive!

Imus Back on TV

In a piece titled The I-man' means business at Fox cable network KC Star entertainment guy Aaron Barnhart reports that shock jockster Don Imus returned to morning television today on the Fox Business Network. Well isn't that just what morning TV needed.. and isn't it great that Fox is sponsoring this nasty voice? According to Barnhart:
Fox's Magee said that fans won't really see much difference between this incarnation of the simulcast and the one on MSNBC, except that the I-man's head will shrink from time to time (along with the rest of the frame) so that FBN can push more business headlines and market stats onto the screen.
I am so glad to see poor 69 year old Imus getting back on TV.. and so glad to see him matched so perfectly with Fox.. but I don't think that I will tune in.. how about you?

The American Trinity

A great video complements of Robin!

The Politics of Cynicism

An interesting three minute video excerpt of an interview with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. When asked about Fox News host Glenn Beck he replied,

"Only in America can you make that much money crying."

He went on to say that Beck is "not aligned with any party as far as I can tell. He's aligned with cynicism. And there's always been a market for cynicism."

"But we became a great nation not because we are a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we are a nation of believers".
Graham was not speak of being a believer in a religious sense but in a sense of being positive about our future.. I suggest you watch the video for context.

Graham's phrase "market for cynicism" hit me.. I can really resonate with having those feelings. I honestly do not want to be a part of that market. I do not want my life marked politically or any other way by what I am against. Guess I need to ponder this some more.. I am sure that I am way more cynical that I admit to.

How about you? Are you involved in the politics of cynicism?

Starbucks Via: Cheap, Easy & Bad

In concert with my new coffee bean background I give you my third coffee post this week. A NY Daily News article titled Starbucks Via instant coffee gets lukewarm reviews in New York debut had this to say about Starbucks' newest product:
It's cheap. It's easy. But it doesn't taste very good.

The reaction to Starbucks' newest beverage - instant coffee - was as lukewarm as an hour-old cup of joe.
At just under $1 per packet, Via is one of the cheapest cups of coffee on the market, but customers said that wouldn't make them come back for a refill.

"You can get a cup of coffee for $1 on every corner of New York City that tastes better than this," said Fae Berwick, 45, of Brooklyn. "Maybe it's a product for people in other cities. I don't see it selling here."
Aaaah.. too bad.. thought that it might have been a good idea :(

Odyssey Of A Modern Jew

A comment thread over at A Texas Chilly (the blog of by blog-buddy Missy) got me thinking about a story that the late Art Katz told in his autobiographical book Ben Israel: Odyssey Of A Modern Jew. I met Art at a meeting in 1977 and read the book back then.

Art considered himself to be an intellectual. He was teaching at UC Berkley when someone gave him a New Testament. He began reading it and became intrigued with Jesus as he read through the gospels. When he got to the eigth chapter of John's gospel he began to read the episode concerning the woman caught in the act of adultery. Here is the story as retold by Wikipedia:
The law said that the woman must be stoned. Yet Jesus had been teaching forgiveness, and earlier in the Book had actually said, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Jesus was trapped.

... What would I say in Jesus' place? I searched my mind, exhausting my resources of logic and reason and finally conceded there was no answer. Fully expecting the worst, I reopened the book and read on. I found Jesus bending over, poking His finger in the dirt.

... And then came His answer, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." I gasped. A sword had been plunged deep into my own being. It was numbing and shocking, yet thrilling, because the answer was so utterly perfect. It defied cerebral examination. It cut across every major issue I had ever anguished upon in my life. Truth. Justice. Righteousness. Integrity. I knew that what I had read transcended human knowledge and comprehension. It had to be divine.
I have had similar moments over the years as I have read the life and teachings of Christ in the Gospels. Like Art I have felt that sword plunge deep into my inner being. Jesus and his teachings are simply timeless.