Politics and Religion

In the 10 days since the inauguration, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a Christian here and now. Although Trump received strong support from evangelical Christians, and some of his edicts actively favor Christians or traditional Christan causes, I’m one of those believers who cannot support this administration or its policies. This stems from my fundamental understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

The simplest version of Christian religion is “believe in Jesus and you won’t burn in hell forever.” On par with this shallow brief system is its collary, “believe in Jesus and he will give you good things/protect you from bad things.” Both of these are the “Jesus as lucky rabbit’s foot” philosophy. This tends to spawn the kind of religion that demands lots of works to earn the desired reward, while practicioners tend to have no tolerance for different views. They know the right way, and they are going to force the rest of us into their way. Continue Reading...

Christmas Giving — to Charity

The holidays are fast approaching, a time when people start freaking out about what gifts to give hard-to-buy-for family members. Money flows. For many retailers, it’s a time to make or break; for many individuals, it’s a stressful and anxious time.

I wanted to share how my family has been fighting this trend, and what we’re thinking about doing differently this year.

Many years ago, my parents started doing a Christmas donation give-away. They would allocate a certain dollar amount to each family member, and give us Monopoly money to represent it. Then we would all go through the charity giving catalogs and decide where we wanted to put our giving dollars. Sometimes we teamed up to do something like help pay for a well (which are often expensive), or sometimes just spend it on something like vaccines for kids or bicycles for girls. Continue Reading...

Presidential Election Results: Part 2

It’s been five days since the most critical election in generations, one in which the outcome stunned more than half the voters. (Sadly, those more-than-half were in the wrong states, so their votes didn’t count as much as those of voters in other states.) I didn’t sleep Tuesday night, as every time I started drifting off, nightmare scenarios of what might happen now that a bigoted, sexist, xenophobic, lying demagogue has been elected as the leader of our nation.

As time has gone by, I’ve realized there are two disturbing aspects to this election. Continue Reading...

Presidential Election Results

Well, … Okay.

Here we are.

Most of America made choices that I think are beyond foolish, possibly into dangerous territory. The government for the next four years will be able to do pretty much whatever it wants, without any checks or balances, and the put a megalomaniacal, sexual-assaulting, blowhard liar at the helm whose only true interest is in. Way. To. Go.

Last night, every time I closed my eyes, I kept having visions of what happens now, and it was nightmarish. I can’t say I slept much. By any measure, it’s going to be an alarming, unpredictable, and potentially horrifying four years. I just hope it won’t be worse than that. Continue Reading...

News Fast

A while ago, I was thinking to myself, “What did we do for news before this election?” It feels like the election has been going on so incredibly long, news organizations and news consumers alike have forgotten what else to talk about. Maybe I just tend to get sucked into politics more lately, but my perception is that coverage has skewed to covering the juicy, disgusting rotting carcass that is our current election cycle even more heavily than in normal election years.

I keep hearing about the divisions in our country — between Trump supporters and everyone else, between Republicans, between whites or police and blacks or police, between rich and poor, between country and city, between immigrants and citizens by birth, between Muslim and non-Muslim… It goes on. It’s disheartening. Continue Reading...

A Society of Grace

I’ve been thinking about social safety nets–in case you’re new to this terminology, that means government programs like food stamps, Obamacare/ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security–and the idea of personal responsibility–making choices that let you live in health and comfort. In political discourse, those two are often presented as opposites: Either you have a system of government that encourages personal responsibility, or your government provides social safety nets. Continue Reading...

A Moment of Opportunity

I think I mentioned that on Thursday, I’m doing this 160-mile (give or take) bike ride, Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD). That’s why my family took off for the beach this week: Because on Wednesday I’ll be getting ready for this ride, and then on Thursday Dad and I will get up about 3:00 am (!) to drive down to Enumclaw to start riding at 5:30 am.

In preparation for this insanity, I’ve started getting up slightly earlier every morning. Yesterday it was 5:00 am; this morning, 4:30; tomorrow, 4:00 am (!!!!!! I try not to think about it too much). The theory is that I’ll be able to go to bed earlier each night, and that maybe it’ll make 3:00 am feel a little less like the middle of the night. A month ago, it actually wouldn’t have been so middle-of-the-night-ish, because the sun started rising about 4:00 am. But alas, we’re down from 16 to a measly 15 or so hours of daylight, and it’s definitely quite dark even at 4:30 am. Continue Reading...