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I've Got Questions About the Impeachment

Question One: Does this count as a part-time job for Justice Roberts?

If so, how does he file this on his 2020 tax return next year?

Question Two: Do you think the Founding Fathers intended for us to have to watch all the proceedings?

I mean, that is a certain kind of torture, right? A correlating question is, “Am I a bad citizen if I don’t watch it all?” I mean, I do have a life, but at the same time I feel a certain level of civic duty to pay attention.

Question Three: Will there be a meet and greet for senators?

People keep talking about how the senators never actually come to the senate at the same time to hear debate and dialogue. I’m just wondering if they have actually ever met each other. If not, perhaps a little social after one of the hearings would be appropriate. Of course, attendance would have to be mandatory.

Question Four: Did we surrender dueling as a means of solving conflict too soon?

I’m not in favor of violence by any means, but again appealing to the Founding Fathers, sometimes they just stepped off fifteen paces and solved the issue quickly. Tell me this wouldn’t be simpler if Adam Schiff and Jay Sekulow just picked their weapon of choice . . .

Question Five: Are there impeachment swag bags?

The image on television kind of looks like a conference of sorts, so are there freebies on back tables? What would those freebies be? Leather bound Federalist papers? Wall posters of the constitution? A two week vacation in beautiful Kiev?

Question Six: Since it is being aired on television, wouldn’t it be great if we could get multiple angels and camera views, like for football games?

I’d like to have a separate camera on Justice Roberts at all times, an instant replay of a salient point, or perhaps statistics and graphs like, “Kiev has a population of 2.8 million people” and “Senator Patty Murray has consumed three bags of skittles in the last hour and a half.” A camera on the senators would be nice, too. I’d like to now if my senators are paying attention or are they asleep.

Question Seven: Would color commentary be a good addition?

“In the off season, Jerry Nadler enjoys ice fishing in the Arctic Circle.” Better yet, “Pam Bondi might be really smart, but she blew that opening. It’s doubtful they will let her back on the field anytime soon.”

Question Eight: What is happening with all the regular business the Senate and House are supposed to be doing?

Have we solved Flint’s drinking water? Are we good with a plan for immigration reform? Could somebody please do something about the ridiculous medical system in this country? It is the kind of thing that makes a reasonable person wonder if this is all a great big distraction to keep us from having to do the hard stuff.

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Predictions for 2020

Each New Year I engage in a futile effort to predict things for the coming year. I am averaging about 30% correct, which I take as pretty good. Last year’s predictions were a little off, especially my financial predictions, but I was correct in the general feel of the predictions — trade uncertainty, volatility in the markets, and Brexit being a major destabilizing factor.

So, what do I think 2020 has in store . . .


10. I am betting the field against Joe Biden. I do not think he will get the nomination for the Democratic Party. Neither will Bernie Sanders.

9. The Seahawks and Forty-Niners will meet again in the playoffs, and the Seahawks will win 35 to 21, Russell Wilson will throw four touchdown passes.

8. Tom Hanks will win best actor for his portrayal of Mr. Rogers.

7. The sugar-stick policy by the Fed of lowering interest rates will have to end eventually, and it will be this year. The result will be a reality-check in the markets and something that looks like, but not as severe as, the 2008 recession will occur. I suspect it will involve tech companies.

6. The political polarization in the nation will manifest itself in an electoral college tie in November.

5. Netflix will be bought or merged. I can really only see two possible candidates to buy it: Apple or AT&T. The Trump DOJ will fight AT&T and could stop it because they hate AT&T, so that might keep them out. Apple is flush with cash and just looking for a place to spend it. Plus, Apple TV has been and always will be a dud, so they will use buy one.

4. The Houston Astros will again win the American League pennant, and will again lose to a National League team and it feels like it is time for The San Francisco Giants to rise again.

3. The Senate will cast sixty-one votes to impeach President Trump, which is not enough to remove him from office but will expose a growing divide in the Republican Party.

2. Under growing pressure from a disaffected public, Iran will either collapse or it will create a diversion by turning the quiet war with Saudi Arabia into open warfare killing thousands, if not millions.

1. Julian Castro will be the Vice Presidential nominee for whoever wins the nomination. For a while I was thinking it would Kamala Harris, but I’ve got even money the nominee is Elizabeth Warren, and if the Dems go centrist, their candidate is Klobuchar (if she can stay in long enough). A woman at the top will seek to pick a man, and Castro is more feisty than Booker or Beto.

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Psalm 72:1-8 Advent Two: A Meditation

The readings for the second week of advent (Year A, 2019) have a theme of the rule of the future Davidic king bringing peace and harmony to the world: Romans 15 speaks to the scope of this reign as over the Jews and Gentiles, Matthew 3 is the summary of John the Baptist’s preaching in preparation for the coming of this Davidic King, Isaiah 11 is more specific about the stump of Jesse which will arise and bring the new age.

The Psalm reading intrigues me. Psalm 72:1-8 is a series of petitions to the Lord, prayers, regarding the rule of an earthly Hebrew king for certain, but with an eye on the eventual one who would fulfill the hope of the ages as the eternal king. My instinct tells me Psalm 72 was probably read at the installation of kings, or composed for the installation of a specific king. One notes, however, the backhanded nature of these petitions: praying for the king to do the right sorts of things indicates perhaps the King, or his predecessor, had failed to live up to the obligations and expectations of a righteous leader.


Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

There is a lot of poetics in the opening lines. First the careful reader will notice justice and righteousness are first asked to be given to the king, then these same attributes are asked for the people through the work of the king. Did you notice the change in order? In verse 1 we have justice then righteousness and in verse 2 we have righteousness and then justice.

I wonder if there isn’t some kind of parallelism here with the judging. There certainly is in verse 1 where “king” aligns with “royal son” forming a chiasm with “righteousness” and “justice” as roughly synonymous. If this works In verse two as well, then there is no chiasm but “your people” would then be synonymous with “your poor” as the same basic group of people. Poor people are God’s people. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

On an interpretative level, these two verses are a plea for the leadership to be fair to all people and not just the wealthy who can bribe and buy justice. It makes a person think about the fact, not opinion, but fact, how much you can afford to pay a lawyer goes a long way in determining wether you go to jail or not in this country. We have to be careful that we don’t take this plea be able punishing the right or even complaining that the wealth get justice. This is not about envy; it is about asking for the poor to get a fair shake in justice.

Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!

The third verse shifts subjects momentarily from the king to mountains. The request is that the mountains will prosper and provide economic provision for the people. Putting this in context with the surround text, our eyes can focus on what the person praying is really concerned for. It is not the wellbeing of the king or the wellbeing of the mountains. Rather, the concern for the prayer is the wellbeing of the people. He is praying that both the king and the mountains be good to the people.

This verse reminds us it is not improper to pray for prosperity and for blessings. As this year ends and a new one is on the horizon, it is proper and biblical to ask the Lord to let ‘the mountains’ or ‘the factory’ or ‘the stock market’ or ‘the sales numbers’ bear prosperity for you and your family. Always keep in mind, however, we are blessed that we may be a blessing.

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

The subject goes back to the king, but we can still see who it is the petition is for — the poor people and their children. This is a prayer and is not necessarily what God is speaking, but is speech to God. In this speech we see the concern is with the oppressed and the needy. I wonder if people of faith too often make their prayers aimed at protecting the privileged and the powerful rather than the poor and the children of the poor.

There is a vitriol here as well. The prayer asks those who hurt the children and the needy be crushed. Not punished, but crushed. Before you move on, let that language settle in on your soul.

May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, through all generations! May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more.

It is a little confusing the way this starts — “may they fear you” — but this is not a valid reading. Likely the text should read “May he live” –thus asking the Lord for the king to live a long life in the idiom of ‘as long as the sun endures.’

The poetics continue as the work of the king is described as a blessed rain that falls on freshly cut grass watering the earth. If we put these together, we have an appeal for the king to be as faithful and stable as nature that allows for the a life filled with shalom. Can you smell the grass? Can you feel the warm rain on your skin? See the moon glowing in the night sky? See the sun’s last rays on a winter’s evening as the fire burns in the hearth? These are the feelings the pray invokes as it asks for good governance that creates the atmosphere of wellbeing for everyone.

May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!

Amen–May this kind of dominion rule from sea to shining sea and up and down all the mighty rivers.


This Hebrew prayer inspired me to put my own words to the same thoughts — which I think is a powerful way to understand the Psalms — ancient prayers to inform our daily prayers. I crafted it as a national prayer, but keep in mind the best hermeneutic of this would likely be a prayer crafted around the Kingdom of God rather than national entities. I chose national entities to keep it in the political context of the original writing; to help us, and by us I mean me, understand what the original implications might have been:

Help our government to value justice, O God, and our leaders to be righteousness.

May our judges be filled with righteousness, and may the poor find justice in every aspect of life.

May all of the economic engines of our nation be prosperous, let them be fair and just so that no one is left behind and no one is exploited, manipulated, or used.

May the President and those in charge of executing the laws have compassion on those who are needy, regardless of where they come from or what language they speak or who they pray to. Give him a vision and passion to be a protector of children.

May our nation, for as long as she is just and righteous, stand as long as the sun sits at the center of our solar system and the moon waxes and wanes above our heads; may our values of freedom and liberty be like refreshing rain showers upon a world that is thirsty for hope.

May we accept your dominion over us, Lord Jesus Christ, from the Harbors of the East Coast to the beautiful shorelines of the West Coast, from the bountiful Valley of Texas to the expansive Great Lakes of the Midwest. May we experience your shalom forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

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Frozen Ferrari Fred Whodunit

Other than the fact “Ferrari Fred” sounds like the name of a character in a bad Stephen King novel, what am I talking about with this crazy blog title? I WENT TO THE MOVIES, that is what I’m talking about.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend we saw the four hot movies out right now, and they were all wonderful in their own way. No, they are not all for everyone, but they are all wonderful. I will take them in the order I saw them.

Ford v Ferrari

Everything about this movie was near perfection. The story was tight, the dialogue was crisp and memorable, the imagery was iconic, and the sound and sights of those beautiful cars was spectacular. Even if you don’t like cars, you’ll like the movie and if you like cars, you’ll love the movie. Christian Bale will get a best actor nomination and the movie will get a best picture nomination. It has some language in it, so you might want to keep the kiddos away, but there is no violence or pornographic material.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Movies usually entertain. Sometimes they inspire. Sometimes they mesmerize. This movie affirms humanity and the possibilities for making the world a better place. Shot in the same style as the old Mr. Rogers Neighborhood television show, it usher you into a different world from the very beginning. Yet this movie is not really about Mr. Rogers as much as it is the journalist covering him, but at the same time it really is. The main character, Lloyd, is changed by Mr. Rogers. Tom Hanks will get a nod for best actor and the movie should be a top contender for best picture.

As an aside, I also recommend you watch the outstanding documentary about Mr. Rogers. Click here to read what I wrote about that.

Frozen II

All four of us enjoyed it and so can your entire family. The music is very good, but the emotions are what steal the show. There is one particular moment when Anna is everyone of us — fighting to keep up hope in a lonely and dark world. I liked this movie more than the first one, probably because of the heavy Tolkien influence on the story. I’m serious. If Olaf is viewed as a happy shiny Gollum, Elsa as Gandalf, Anna as Frodo/Aragorn, Sven and Kristoff become hobbits then the journey parallels nicely.

Aside from this, it is easy to see the motif of the movie — a needed restoration and reconciliation between indigenous peoples and those who exploited and took from them. It’s a good message.

Knives Out

This one surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it so much, but man was it fun. Nothing will be nominated from this movie, and there will be no awards for it but it is fun. Here was my take away on this movie: Knives Out is the Thanksgiving movie America needed but didn’t know it needed. Besides, it’s got Captain America, James Bond, half of Miami Vice, and Captain Von Trapp, and Halloween! There is a lot of star power here, but Ana de Armas steals the show as Marta.

There is a lot of language and one particular violent moment, but no nudie bits. Perfect for adults who want to slurp soda and enjoy themselves.