And Another Thing…


This is what I was talking about all along

On more than one occasion I have taken issue with Christians in the U.S. whining about perceived “persecution” that they experience (here, here, here, and here) and have pointed out that our brothers and sisters around the world would rightly laugh at what we consider suffering for the faith.

If you want to know what modern persecution really looks like, consider recent events in India. In response to the murder of a Hindu leader by Maoist rebels (and no these are not those elusive Christian Maoists), Hindus have begun burning Christian meeting places, assaulting priests, and gang-raping nuns.

I tend to roll my eyes when people on the right or left complain about the big, bad media. In my experience, the criteria that most Americans use to distinguish good, objective reporting from biased reporting is whether or not the story in question supports or threatens their already-held assumptions. However, it is hard to not conclude that American media has completely dropped the ball on this. Consider this headline: Faiths Clash, Displacing Thousands in East India. The first line of the story states:

NEW DELHI — At least 3,000 people, most of them Christians, are living in government-run relief camps after days of Christian-versus-Hindu violence in eastern India, government officials said.

This doesn’t really sound like a clash to me; more like a religious rumble between Christians and Hindus. As Get Religion observes:

Now, if you read that this was “Christian-versus-Hindu violence” and then you read that the riots began with the death of a Hindu leader, what would you assume? Let’s see, that would be Christians attacking Hindus and a Hindu leader was killed, thus leading to violence in which Hindus responded to the violence against them.

Draw your own conclusions on this.


Filed under: Faith and Religion, Politics, , , , , , , ,

The First 2008 – 2009 Edumacational Interlude

School is back in session and last night was the first meeting of the only classroom course I have left, Advanced Practice. I was ambivalent going in (I didn’t even know who the instructor was) but left with more enthusiasm than I expected to muster at this point in the program. The instructor seems like a sharp cat; he is a career Army social worker, an engaging speaker, funny, self-deprecating, and he demonstrates a desire to promote active learning on our part.

Last night he broke us into groups for a “values clarification” exercise. Usually, I hate these types of things but this one was pretty good. If you are curious and/or want to try it, is below the fold.

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Yeah, that’ll work

In the wake of The Dark Knight making almost $500 million [places pinky at corner of mouth] we can hardly be surprised that Warner Brothers, owner of DC Comics and the characters thereof, plans to fire off more superhero movies in the next couple of years. However, whereas most of us would credit TDK‘s success to being, I don’t know, well-made, one executive at Warner’s is convinced that its success can be attributed more to tone than quality:

“Like the recent Batman sequel — which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far — Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as The Dark Knight. Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. ‘We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,’ he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.” [Emphasis mine]

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Filed under: Movies, , , , , , , , , ,

HOAs are the debbil

Apparently, if you live in a decent neighborhood in Frisco, TX and have a pick-up, your vehicle is not welcome.

“Jim Greenwood never dreamed his HOA would have a problem with his new pickup. After all, about 30 percent of all Texans drive similar vehicles.

Then, he received the first of three notices threatening him with fines.

The notice says: “Mr. Greenwood, you’re violating a subdivision rule that prohibits pickup trucks in your driveway.”

Stonebriar HOA board members changed the rules, making exceptions for several luxury trucks, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline and Lincoln Mark LT.

But most Ford, Dodge or Chevy pickups are still not allowed on driveways overnight.

“It’s very frustrating and confusing,” Greenwood said. “It’s hard to imagine how an HOA would try to dictate what type of vehicle you can drive and park in your driveway”

Bill Osborn, the chairman of the Stonebriar HOA board, said they also prohibit boats, trailers, golf carts and RVs in driveways.

“The high-end vehicles that are allowed are plush with amenities and covers on the back,” Osborn said. “It doesn’t look like a pickup. It’s fancier.”

Greenwood appealed, claiming his F-150 isn’t much different from the Lincoln Mark LT.

“The response was, ‘It’s our belief that Lincoln markets to a different class of people,'” Greenwood said. “Furthermore, one board member told my wife, that if we don’t like it, we can move.”

The HOA chairman said many Stonebriar homeowners own pickup trucks, but they abide by the rules and keep them parked in their garages.

“A Chevy suburban can be in the driveway. If we had a big Hummer, that could be the driveway. If we had a Lincoln Mark LT, that could be in the driveway. But a Ford F-150 can’t. That doesn’t make sense,’ Greenwood said.”

I could see them not wanting some rust-ridden, dented all to hell junker in the driveway, but a new (or well-maintained) pick-up? Are they that afraid that somebody will identify them as middle class?

The worst part of the story is the statement made to Mrs. Greenwood…”If we don’t like it, we can move it.”  These people need to be pimp-slapped.

[H/T: Preacher Mike]

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Your summer at the movies isn’t complete yet…

I couldn’t make this stuff up

AMC, here we come!

AMC, here we come!

Toby Keith, Rodney Carrington, and Ted Nugent in a movie together? With a special appearance by Willie Nelson?! That’s just more entertainment than any of us can take!

Filed under: Movies, , , , ,

Things I Have to Re-read Just to Make Sure I Got It Right the First Time

A little over a year ago I subscribed to the daily e-mail of The Church Report Online just to have a handy resource for news in evangelicalism. I knew that they were somewhat shifty and that their understanding of the Bible included a white Jesus and that “America was God’s chosen country”; I always took most of what they did and said with a grain of salt.

However, I was particularly bemused tonight when I opened up their latest message and saw this headline:

Unlock the Secrets of Creating Wealth And Harness the Power of Money to Influence Everything


A Candid Look at Christian Wealth Building


Yeah, once again we learn that God wants us to be rich. No real surprises here; televangelists continue to spin variations on this theme ad nauseum, and astonishingly, people continue to buy it. This is followed by a particularly twisted reading of the Abrahamic Covenant.  But the real gem of this piece, the one that made my jaw drop into my lap, is below the fold (I warn you, not for the easily offended):

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, , , , , , ,

Back From The Road

Home sweet home. We just got back from a mini-tour of the South, visiting my family and relatives. Both long-time readers may remember that my folks live in Starkville, MS where Dad is a professor emeritus as Mississippi State University. Christine had never seen their place and I had not been down there in more than 5 years, so we decided it was time. It will come as no surprise to denizens of the south that Mississippi in August, is hot, bad hot, bad bad bad hot. But, Mom and Dad have a pool. We spent a lot of time in that water with my nephew Brooks.

We also got to meet a lot of my parents’ friends, tour the campus of MSU, read for pleasure for a change, eat my mom’s superb cooking for a week, and go shooting with my dad (On a side note, Christine is becoming a crack shot with her pistol, which makes her even more attractive to me). We wanted to fish but it was so hot the fish wouldn’t bite. We also visited the church my parents attend. Christine and I were both impressed with their campus ministry.

We attended Decoration Day in Helena, AL., for my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. For those not in the know, Decoration Day is a southern custom where families meet in a cemetery once a year to put flowers on the gravestones and hold a semi-reunion. I always enjoy meeting extended family, primarily because both sides of my family are so big that there is always somebody new to meet. The only downside to the whole trip was that my Dad was somewhat limited in his activity by his shoulder, which he injured by falling out of a tree a few weeks ago. If you know my Dad, you probably know that asking what he was doing up a tree is a pointless question.

Christine and I also went to the Mississippi University for Women to hear Rick Bragg speak. Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is the author of one of my favorite non-fiction books All Over But The Shoutin’ . It’s a memoir of his upbringing and experiences travelling the world as a journalist. If you want a powerful read that will make you appreciate what you have, check this book out.

We spent some time in north Alabama, visiting some of my older aunts and uncles on my mother’s side, as well as some of my cousins. It would have been good to have more time with them, but modern schedules being what they are, I will take what I can get.

Before we left I finally had time to make my essential road-trip mix. It made the trip a lot more enjoyable, for me at least.

Reality kicks in again soon with my return to work tomorrow, class starting up again, and my internship starting on September 2. At least I am done with Dr. Sunshine. Watch this space as everything in my life kicks into high gear.

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…and out the door I went

Hard to believe that the summer is already winding down. Next month I will be starting a nine month field placement (internship) with the local Dept. of Family Services, working with at-risk families and doing some policy work. I am looking forward to the actual work, which looks challenging and also appears to be a great learning opportunity. However, I am not looking forward to the 60 hour work week I will have between the internship and my paying gig. The only course I have left is my final practice course, also a year long.

I will keep blogging as the inspiration strikes, but the well has run low of late. I may post more book reviews as I have been reading a lot lately. I saw The Dark Knight but didn’t post about it as I didn’t believe that I had anything to add that had not already been said; however, it is a great movie, no question…even if you don’t care much for superhero movies. But it ain’t for the kids.

Politics isn’t really engaging me much of late, either. I am still undecided about how I will vote, but I am leaning towards Obama out of spite for those who insist on slandering him as a Muslim, terrorist sympathizer, what-have-you. I know plenty of conservatives and moderates who won’t vote for him because they disagree with his positions; I can respect them and their reasoning whether I agree or not. However, I have no respect for those who won’t vote for a black man just because he is black, or because he has a non-Western sounding name; those who are so credulous that they believe info that they are getting through chain e-mails. Enough; grow up already.

Christine and I will be leaving for a two-week vacation on Saturday, so things will be silent here at AAT for a while. Somehow, I think that the blogosphere will survive without me. See you in mid-August.

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“The Turnaround” by George Pelecanos

A few years ago a good friend turned me on to the work of a local writer, George Pelecanos. I immediately took to his books for several reasons. He is a local, born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. Because his books are set in and around D.C., I always recognize the references to local places, music, and culture. He always writes about life-long residents of the area and what life is like here for people who aren’t involved in politics.

Most importantly, of course, Pelecanos can write. As my friend says, the man has style to burn; and many critics include him in the newer school of mystery writers (such as Dennis LeHane and James Lee Burke) who deliver all of the goods: great stories with action, humor, and twists; believable characters; meaty (but not too wordy or contrived) prose; and social and spiritual themes. 

I just finished Pelecanos’ latest, The Turnaround, and I think it may be his best yet. The story opens in 1972 when three white teenaged boys pull a rather stupid stunt: driving into an all-black D.C. neighborhood, shouting epithets at passersby from their car, and then plan to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately for them, they drive into a cul-de-sac (the “turnaround” of the title) and are trapped by three teenaged boys from the neighborhood. As one might expect, violence ensues; one of the white boys ends up dead, another gets beaten within an inch of his life, and two of the black boys end up in prison.

The story then picks up 35 years later when two of the survivors of the incident encounter each other through a shared interest; their interaction draws in the other survivors of the incident as well.  Pelecanos does a great job of showing how the incident affected each person involved with sometimes tragic consequences. He also convincingly shows how these once-cocky kids have grown into (mostly) admirable men and their halting, awkward efforts to lay the past to rest and to try to set a mistake right. Of course, one of the boys has grown up into a thug who sees the chance reunion as an opportunity to settle scores and make a profit. One of Pelecanos’ consistent strengths is his antagonists; though dangerous and cruel, none of them are the type of high IQ super villains one normally gets in a crime novel; they are often as stupid and pathetic as most real-life criminals, which makes them all the more frightening.

There are certain other things one can always expect with Pelecanos: painstaking attention to local and period music (the man practically writes a soundtrack into his novels), a preoccupation with the responsibilities of fatherhood, wrestling with questions of morality and what makes a good man (especially in a sometimes bad time and place), details about the work his characters do for a living, affectionate descriptions of all ethnic cultures (especially Greek culture), and characters trying to find redemption and make up for bad mistakes.  Furthermore, he never tries to make his violence cool; it is always shocking and abrupt, and it always has consequences.

I recommend all of his books if you like crime and mystery stories; but I recommend The Turnaround if you like large-scope stories with big themes, and an ending that may even bring a tear to your eye.

Filed under: Books, , , , , , , ,




Where in the World…