In our now time-honoured Sunday tradition, we turn to music. This week in my new series Hymns from the Radio Dial, we get political with a call for social justice from Psalm 137. It is most likely that we all remember Rivers of Babylon as a late-70s song by German disco group Boney M. In fact, the song was written and recorded in 1972 by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians (1965-73), a Jamaican group in Kingston, the birthplace of reggae.
The inauguration of Barack Obama last week caught a lot of attention, naturally. It’s the sense of a new day in Washington, DC that Americans are all-too-aware of, and the world is taking notice with the hopes of a renewed, kindler, gentler US of A. Some are suggesting this presidency marks a seismic shift — no ordinary change of power, but a milestone marking a change in the way things are. Obama’s effective use of the Internet in his campaign has been likened to Kennedy’s effective use of television, with Arianna Huffington going as far as to say that without the Internet, Obama would not be president. In many ways, it’s the fruition of Joe Trippi’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Revised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything.
Lots of stuff around on Obama’s inauguration. Christine Sine: An Historic Day; Scot McKnight: A Prayer for our New President, Barack Obama.
Transcript: Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Change has come to WhiteHouse.gov (see Before & After) — watch the new White House blog for updates. Transcript: Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
And of course:
Today is Remembrance Day, and for the occasion, I’ve resurrected the oldest draft post in my arsenal… from back in 2004. I began with an idea jotted down and then thought it would be better left until the whole Iraq thing cooled down… but of course you know how that’s gone. Opening the post up for the first time in (literally) years, I see I hadn’t written as much as I thought I had, but the gist of an idea is there, and it’s percolated for some time now.
Earlier today, my wife mused aloud, wondering what those “prophetic types” are saying about Barack Obama being elected in the USA. I thought Grace choking on her scone in response to an appalling snippet of conversation concerning the rise to power of Barack Obama, “almost exactly like the Left Behind books.” No wonder she choked on her scone. I mentioned this “end times” idea to my wife as a suggestion of what these prophetic types might be saying. She made a mental note to ask a friend who tends to get told these things by people who thinks she cares. At least, that’s how my wife put it. So a few hours ago, Frank Viola tweeted a link that brought this whole question up again. Now by the way, Frank’s blog post today not only offered his view on the recent presidential election, he also named who he considers the top six Christian bloggers around, including yours truly. I’m not sure if I’m actually that good or if Frank’s a little deranged, but I figure it’s best not to press to far, just in case I don’t like the answer.
Today’s the day — the campaign is finally done, and we’re all just waiting to see what will happen while you sip your free Starbuck’s coffee. I have to say, I think we will miss the SNL intros that have been so good lately. While the world is watching you, it might be worth taking a few minutes to watch a couple of brief videos to prime your thinking about voting today. After all, if you aren’t doing it to participate in democracy and honour the political process, certainly you’d do it for a free cup of Starbuck’s Joe, wouldn’t you? (I hear it isn’t really poured by “Joe the Plumber”.) So Consider these:
With the US-ian elections just a couple weeks away, I thought it’d be appropriate to cover some material relating to the candidates.
First, it looks like some heavy endorsements are coming out now.
Then of course there’s the “alternate” race…
And if it’s all just too much, you could try another recommendation…
Matt Stone did a Church & Politics Quiz that looked interesting, so I took the test as well. My score is plotted on the graph image, which looks to be about the same as Matt’s. The quiz suggests I see the role of the church as primarily a prophetic one. Since my score is pretty much along the midpoint of the vertical axis, I’m in between “Radical Reformer,” a group which would “see a strong prophetic role for the church and combine this with a robust call for political engagement to seek social and political change” and the “Quiet Critic,” representing those who “steer away from a direct role for the church in politics, instead emphasizing the church’s purity by maintaining a separation from the state. From this perspective, the church best shares the gospel by being an alternative community that models Christian love.”
Yesterday was Blog Action Day, and the theme this year was poverty. Among the 12,836 participating blogs with an estimated 13,498,532 readers, my contribution, I was informed late yesterday, was missing something. “You said everyone else’s reaction but not mine,” said my wife. A brief discussion ensued in which I didn’t have a lot to say… but basically I figured since it was her story, I shouldn’t tell it without clearing it first. And now that she’s taken me to task, I will say — lest anyone think she was the only one unaffected by our tour — that it impacted her quite deeply as well. It was on her mind for several days as she recommended the tour to everyone we saw. When we discussed it yesterday, she reminded me that the experience was “life-changing.”
Last month I heard on the radio about an event taking place at The Forks in Winnipeg. Turns out that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was running a tour that would be in town that weekend — the event was to set up a refugee camp and give tours of it so people could get a feel for the facilities and the conditions in one of the many refugee camps in the world. We decided it’d be good for the whole family, so we all headed down to check it out. Unfortunately, the SD Card with the photos was corrupted, but there are other photos online of the event, and you can preview it online as well to get a sense of the different stations on the tour and the information presented at each. The preview sets you in the role of the refugee — or IDP, Internally Displaced Person, since “refugees” are technically people who have crossed a border; IDPs may be in the same position, but have not actually left their country.
Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is outraged at those responsible for short selling shares in HBOS, labelling them as “bank robbers” and “asset strippers”.
Addressing the annual dinner of the Institute of Worshipful Company of International Bankers at Drapers Hall in the City of London, Dr. Sentamu said:
“To a bystander like me, those who made £190million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS, in spite of its very strong capital base, and drove it into the bosom of Lloyds TSB Bank, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers.
A few weeks back, I made an “offhand” remark on one of my Saturday links posts about “single-issue voting” where I suggested that voting solely on the basis of a political candidate’s stance on or willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade was a poor strategy, one that wouldn’t work. In the comments on that post, Dan Edelen took me to task, saying that a pro-life stance wasn’t single-issue voting, it was just establishing a baseline.