Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deliver Us, Obama!

You know, I used to think that when people on my side of things (politically) criticized President Obama's followers for viewing him as the Messiah, that they were exaggerating a little.

Well, I am man enough to admit that I was wrong. If anything, they were understating the case.

Here, Obama worshippers pray to him that he will deliver them from all woes related to health care:

I guess this campaign ad for Obama should have given me a clue, eh?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Leftist Economics @Trinity Wall Street

Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street (yes, the folks who brought you the Clown Eucharist) are apparently going to run a socialist economics institute next January.

Here, participants will apparently be taught of the foolishness of the notion of Private Property (a Biblical principle, without which "Thou shalt not steal" is a commandment without meaning).

Listen as University of Chicago Divinity School Professor Kathryn Tanner explains (0:29) that the notion of Private Property (not sloth or other sin) is what causes scarcity. She goes on (3:08ff) to explain that, because God gives us His grace without our meriting it, we should distribute money to people without regard to merit. She neglects, of course, the fact that with God's grace He sovereignly changes our ways of behaving, while socialism leaves the recipient of (other people's confiscated) money no less sinful in the ways they act.

And for the climactic statement of the video (5:43), Prof. Tanner deduces that because none of us partakes of the body of Christ in a private way, and because Christ never becomes scarce through the partaking ... therefore we should treat the things of this world in the same way: they are not scarce, and we should not have such a thing as Private Property.

The Clown Eucharist has now been joined by Clown Economics. And, as is so often the case with clowns, these smiles are painted on. Because these Leftist economists and theologians are intensely bitter people.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FaceBook and the New Personal Integrity

Joining FaceBook has done an odd and somewhat unexpected thing to me: it seems to have strengthened my integrity. And by integrity, I mean two things. I mean it first in the common sense of "adhering to an ethical code". But I also mean it in the sense of "having internal consistency".

How has this happened? And why is the title of this blog entry not "The Internet and the New Personal Integrity"?

The answer these questions lie in the fact that FaceBook has, for me, become a place where I interact with a very diverse group of friends, many of whom do not know my other friends. Granted, there are clusters of friends (Anglicans, bodybuilders, car guys, family, ex-students, etc.) who know each other. But people from one cluster don't know or share the same interests with people in the other clusters.

Elsewhere on the internet, things tend to be specialized. There are entire websites (nay, pairs or trios of rival websites!) dedicated to a single model of automobile. For example, I belong to the Fairlane Club of America, and the Motor City Marauders. These are special-interest sites, each with a laser focus on a particular tiny sliver of the automotive hobby. Likewise, I participate in the forums of several bodybuilding websites. That is a small sub-culture with dozens of rival websites.

The specialization, on the good side, allows one to let his or her hair down (not literal hair, you understand; I don't have enough of that to let down). One knows that one is among, if not friends, then at least a set of people who share a very narrow, common interest. The same specialization, on the negative side, allows one to lead a sort of "double life". For example, I can potentially post something on a bodybuilding site that would be shocking to my friends in other circles, with the near-certain knowledge that none of them will ever stumble upon it. (Here's a hypothetical: On a fitness-related site, it might not raise eyebrows to post something derogatory about fat people.) This allows for, at least, the possibility of presenting different personae on different forums, which doesn't really meet either definition of "integrity".

I am finding that, because my collection of FaceBook friends is so diverse, I am forced toward a greater integrity in two complementary ways:

(1) Refraining from giving offense. On the specialized sites, one has greater latitude in expressing himself in ways that will not give offense. (Hypothetical: On a muscle car site, I might be tempted to say that anyone who drives a Honda is an irredeemable loser.) But on FaceBook, because of the diversity of the audience, one has to truly refrain from making statements that one is not willing to defend to any and all friends.

(2) Sometimes, my most heartfelt opinions (ones I am willing to live or die by) will still give offense to some subset of my friends. These may be controversial beliefs and opinions, to which I cling so tenaciously that I am willing to lose friends over the issues, should it come to that. Here, the diverse FaceBook audience causes me to choose my words carefully, so that any offense may come from the substance of the statement, and not simply from its insulting form. If I truly believe the controversial statement, making it in front of the FaceBook audience requires much greater courage than posting the same statement in a special-interest forum.

Thus, when thinking of some single-line status update zinger, I naturally seem required to "bin" it into one of the two categories above. If it falls into the first, I restrain my hand in Dr. Strangelove manner, and do not post it. If it falls into the second, I post it and brace myself for the shock to come, if any.

A more purpose-driven individual (I am chaos-driven, myself) might have foreseen this turn of events before plunging into the wilderness of social networking. But I did not. I have to say, it is a pleasant thing. I can almost feel the integrity build inside, as I present what I feel is a much more honest picture of myself to the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Satelliters - Lost In Time (Suddenly, it's 1965!)

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when you are old, he will send you links to stuff infinitely cooler than you ever could have imagined ...

That came to me by way of my 15-year-old son.

Watch for the Vox Phantom guitar in this video. And the Farfisa organ! And the Jim McGuinn haircut. Some of these poses seem to be taken straight from early Byrds publicity stills.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Diocese of Michigan - Lost and Adrift

I received my regular e-mailing of the Diocese of Michigan's "The Record Weekly" in my Inbox this morning. And, even though I spent 6.5 years inside the belly of the beast, what I read from Herb Gunn in that email still managed to stun me.
A comprehensive visioning project is underway in the Diocese of Michigan. The project grew--actually shrank--from the Extended Ministries Fund (EMF) Task Force that began two years ago to study the appropriate use of the ministry fund. Funds in the EMF are unrestricted, but the EMF policy states that the corpus is not to be used without specific authorization from Diocesan Convention. Approximately five million dollars in market-driven appreciated value has been used for operating expenses over the past eight years, but as the financial markets have declined, the appreciated value has disappeared.
It was somewhat refreshing to see Herb admit that things are shrinking in the Diocese of Michigan. (As the joke goes: How do you make a small fortune in the Episcopal Church? Answer: Start with a large fortune.) And it was not news to me that EDOMI is using a "Ministries" fund to cover operating expenses.

Nor did it surprise me overly much that an outside consultant was being funded from this same "Ministries" fund (all failing organization hire outside consultants when the answers given by insiders to "Why are we failing? do not satisfy them):
In October 2008, Diocesan Convention voted to allocate $325,000 for a comprehensive survey and visioning exercise for the diocese. Diocesan Council created the Extended Ministries Fund Phase One Steering Committee (POSC) and empowered it to find the project manager and launch the study that would help clarify ministry priorities to which EMF resources might support. That steering committee worked through the winter and spring to discern and define a strategy for the project. A proposal seeking an outside consultant was created and candidates were interviewed for the project.
Good taste (what little I have of it) prevents me from commenting at length on the decision to name something the POS Committee. The surprise was this next bit:
The new Diocese of Michigan project is called RSVP--Revitalization and Strategic Visioning Project--and formally kicks off this month. The project will identify core values of the Diocese of Michigan, a fresh mission statement for the diocese, and a set of specific vision areas. The aggregate of this work will form the foundation of short and long-term planning; will affect program, ministry and budget decisions, as well as provide clarity of purpose and identity for the diocese.

Core Values of the diocese help articulate, "This is who we are, this is what we are all about, and this is why we do the things we do." A Mission Statement answers the questions: "What is our purpose and why do we exist?" The Vision Areas are statements that paint a picture of a desired future that can be realized in the next five to 10 years.
Now, is it just me, or should any member church within the body of Christ already know its Core Values?? This is astounding. And as far as a Mission Statement, what say we begin with ... I dunno, just thinking out loud here ... the Great Commission?

I already knew that the Diocese of Michigan (nay, the entire Episcopal Church) was lost and adrift. What floored me was their extreme candor in admitting the same.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

designing an icon

I am approximately 8 months late with this entry. I've been busy, I suppose. The designing an icon exhibition at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery of Wayne State University was held from November 21, 2008 through January 16, 2009. I had meant to get there between Christmas and New Year's Day, but kept procrastinating until January 15 to finally see it. Because of this, I think, Eliot and I had the entire gallery to ourselves.

As I've blogged here before, Eliot is my (award winning!) son, a future car designer, and so this exhibition, subtitled Creativity and the American Automobile, was doubly pleasant because he was with me to discuss the art.

Many of the designs brought an instant nod of recognition, since the concepts were later incarnated into sheet metal.

For instance, this one by Bob Hubbach, is even labeled "CHARGER".

This one by Don Wood, though looking like a Camaro, was a Chevelle concept if I'm not mistaken.

Here, we clearly have a Ford Thunderbird (also by Don Wood):

The quality of the drawings and paintings at this exhibit was spectacular, including some photorealistic paintings.

Here are some more General Motors concept drawings:

First, a Buick (by Graham Bell):

Here is a Pontiac (by Roger Hughet):

And this one (by David McIntosh) is entitled, Buick Riviera proposal with separate fender forms.

If you've followed this blog for a while, you can imagine that while this approached being a religious experience for me and Eliot, it was not without sadness. For today, function has essentially obliterated form, and almost all cars are ugly.

There were some more whimsical creations as well. This one (by Dennis Wright) was one of our favourites ...

... in part because it so closely resembles a Thingie Slot Car named the Lancer Hornet:

Wherever you see an intersection between fine art and muscular automobiles, it is a good bet that you will see the Hot Rod Anglican there!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Laura Bailey

I've known about Figure competitor Laura Bailey for some time now.

Her (excellent) blog is one of the ones listed on my sidebar here.

I don't know how many of you are members of bodybuilding.com, but for those who are, Laura makes a good case for why she should get your vote in the IronMan Magazine BodySpace SpokesModel Search.

You can vote daily. Her name there is jumper11.

Laura not only keeps up a busy competitive schedule, but is pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology!