Spot on!

September 27, 2009

September 27, 2009

I linked to this mornings Doonesbury because it is so spot on. At first I was quick to react until I considered what he was really pointing at…the stupid comparisons that abound today.

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What can we really take with us?

Recently I came across a quote by St. Francis of Assisi.  It is short and to the point but I can think of many many examples of its truth just in my short lifetime but also in history.  Sometimes we are always after more stuff, more money, bigger house, thinking that somehow more things will make us happy.  Yet we discover in personal relationship along the way that our happiest moments and experiences have more to do with relationship to each others and this earth upon which we live, than all the other stuff.  The italicized parenthesis below is my addition but is that to which I believe Francis pointed by his words.

“Remember that when you leave this earth (life), you can take with you nothing that you have received…but only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.” — St. Francis of Assisi


The most memorable times I’ve had have all center upon relationships with people I love (family, friends, co-workers) or out in nature. as I consider the words with which Francis exhorts us, I am challenged and encouraged toward reduction of stuff and investment in relationships and actions that provide me with something that will endure. It is an important reminder to simplify life to that which truly makes one rich.

Gran Torino

My wife and I watched Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino last night. The movie has some great character development, especially Eastwood’s character, Walt, and the young man who lives next door, Tau (not sure I am spelling it correctly). In addition the relationship between Walt and a young parish priest displays the growth that occurs in Walt’s life.

The movie opens with the death of the only person Walt ever allowed into his live, his wife. At that point, the estranged father, Korean war vet and retired Ford plant employee is truly alone and isolated, an isolation of his own making. Walt has little patience for the changing world around him, especially the various ethnic and cultural changes. His son’s and their wives attempt to help him move on, but their efforts have more to do with relieving themselves of him and hopes of inheriting his vintage “Gran Torino” which sits in his garage in mint condition.

Walt is quite simply and undenyingly a racist. He harbors a lot of anger and that anger will cost him and those he grows to love dearly. The neighborhood, which he has apparently lived in for years has been “taken over” by people of the Mong (not sure I spelled that correctly either) ethnic group. Walt has a tangible disdain for his neighbors. In an act to protect his own property, he also helps his next door neighbors temporarily escape the advances of a local Mong gang. Their abundant appreciation poured out on him, despite his objection and racially charged comments brings him to again step in to protect the daughter next door. This leads to a relationship with this people, and especially the boy next door which fills the vacuum of his isolation. In the end, these relationships will mean more, cost more and transform Walt. Walt’s character takes on a Christological typology, despite all his relational warts and pimples.

This movie is a must see. This movie is meaningful and masterfully done!

Racism and opposition to the President

I for one agree with President Carter’s assessment of the seemingly extreme opposition to just about anything that President Obama says or does.

  • Plans to speak to Students and over the top accusations of attempts to brainwash etc.  The reality is that most of our presidents over the last decades have stopped to address our students, both democratic and republican presidents have made a point to do this.  President Bush, Clinton, Reagan and the list goes on.  But President Obama is different…somehow?
  • angry protests about Obama suggesting that he is spending way too much money.   No mention from anyone that he inherited the crappy economy from his predecessor, who by the way spent enormous amounts of money on a war in Iraq that had no basis, who authored the largest increase of government (homeland security, TSA, etc).
  • Okay even admitting that the healthcare reform issue is a big one and a controversial one.  President Clinton attempted bringing change to this but he was called a socialist, he didn’t see massive marches…

So the above icing on the political cake makes one wonder whether it is the color of the cake that is underneath all of the over the top wrangling.  I think that President Carter hit it right on the nose.  Why would the representative who spoke out assume that illegals are going to be covered under this new “government takeover” of healthcare.  Is it maybe because he is a minority and therefore one can expect him to predispose the system to cover other minorities?  Where does anyone get the idea of this reform constituting a “take-over” of healthcare by the government?   From whence does all the charges of socialism come from?  Do not people realize that the most pristine example of social medicine isn’t in Europe but is the VA health system in our own country, not to mention medicare!

The whole “I won’t let my kid listen to the President speak” hysteria was nothing short of stupid…a special kind of inflammatory stupidity!!!  Yet I am sure there are many parents out there feeling pretty proud about keeping their kids home or pulled out of hearing that speech.  Would all of that really have happened if the President weren’t black?  It hasn’t any of the other times that presidents spoke to our school children.

I for one like the job that President Obama is doing.  I think his work on healthcare is precisely what needs to happen.  I think his handling of our economy is likewise been very positive, not withstanding the fact that he inherited the worst economical situation since the 1930’s.  I am so sick of all the wrangling and inflammatory rhetoric that is pumping from our conservative leaders!  My sentiment is for them to Shut UP and do something constructive and creative not spin a bunch of shit.

Movie Review: The Soloist

This is one of the best movies that I have watched in a long time.  This movie reminds us that all those people that so many of us avoid because their act weird, they smell or whatever the reason is, that these people are human beings with a history, with people who love them.  Additionally, I found myself despising our country’s emphasis on capitalism because that  view finds people valuable only by what they can contribute.  This movie flies in the face of that view. A more socialist minded governing that would disperse benefit and wealth more broadly would be an improvement in my perspective.

This movie also reminds us that we can’t be the savior of humanity, of people whose choices and/or pathology place them in precarious circumstances.  Before we can help someone, we first need to value the person as they are, where they are.  As the movie proclaimed, what people need (people with homes or the homeless) is friends and relationships where they are valued.  That may not change those problem areas that one thinks they see, but it will change the heart of both.

This movie is a must see.