Friday, February 24, 2006

The South Dakota Ignoramus

An ignoramus is not particular to the state of South Dakota. In whatever state you live, you could probably tell me about the ignorami surrounding you. The ignoramus in your midst might even write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. As I have noted before--I keep thinking there could not be another letter from the Argus Leader that would find its way into the line up.

I could not resist this letter.

A real head shaker.

I cannot make this stuff up.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

A good anniversary

I recently returned from my ancestral land in the Pacific Northwest. My daughter and I connected well with our kin--the result for me has been pure exhaustion. Despite traveling minus my wife, I felt at home. Mountains, trees and water provide a reorientation. I have yet to read Giants of the Earth in its entirety, but I know that one of the characters becomes disoriented when living on the prairie. I associate with that feeling--I appreciate the prairie. God has taught me to see the beauty. The people have been good to me. I have lived almost half my life in the Midwest--but this place can be profoundly disorienting. Is it the land? Is it the value system? I hold a strong desire to express what a sense of place means in a theological framework. How does God provide us a sense of place? What in our sense of place comes from the sinful self? I continue to experience renewed energy to explore the aforementioned questions (among many others) that keep me up at night. Literally. Although I was exhausted, I still read well into the night last night about the sense of place in the Pacific Northwest. I was glad to share with my parents the burning questions and the continuing discernment process of vocation.

On this day one year ago--I began publishing this blog. I have started probably hundreds of journals in my lifetime. I'm not sure if I have ever maintained this level of consistency in my lifetime. Maybe I'm growing up. I averaged just over one entry per week. I am thankful to be reconnected with my writing.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Coming out of the fog visiting a new patch

After the Super Bowl, a difficult two weeks in the congregation, and concern over my grandmother's health, coherent thoughts escape me. Along with the city of Seattle, I am slowly coming out of a fog. For me, this move comes from necessity--God help me--I need a sermon tomorrow and a coherent thought would be nice.

Inspiration--a movement of the Holy Spirit--can lift the mind and soul out of a pit. This article inspired me. I appreciate that a nation has chosen to think creatively about a positive future without oil rather than dogma or platitudes. Here's to the Swedes--their cuisine may be milquetoast, but their ideas pique interest.

Speaking of platitudes, during his State of the Union address, GW Bush said the United States was "addicted to oil." Many conservative pundits, including George Will, accused this statement of being meaningless. Supposedly the Republican Party is committed to limited government, and even then their use of government is nonsensical at best. The sin of our government relates to an addiction to mammon. It's my sin as well. I find it difficult to let go of privilege when it means a better life for others. Oil is a prime example of a privileged commodity. Opening energy opportunities appears to me a democratic move. Though I prefer Hugo Chavez over George W. Bush at this juncture--it would be nice if they were both put out of business.

After Sunday's sermon, I get a break from preaching until Ash Wednesday. I am traveling to Seattle to be with my grandmother. She could live for a long time--but when the brain fails to work properly (as her brain health deteriorates), the person I have known my whole life may not be that person for much longer. The opportunity to invest in primary relationships cannot be overlooked. I pass on these investments often. Christ, have mercy.

That mercy needs to move over my homiletical work as well.



Sunday, February 05, 2006

I can't watch

I have to seriously adjust my media patterns tomorrow.

No Seattle Times.
No Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
No Tacoma News-Tribune.
No ESPN Radio.
No Sports Illustrated.
No CBS Sportsline.

At least for a week.

I even switched my home page to

I cut down on my sports intake over the past several months--but I can't even take a discussion of how the Seahawks blew it. It's gonna go down to zero.

I can't stand it.

Maybe I can catch up on my other reading.

I'll let you know how that goes.

A Depressed Elihu

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Only Seattle Seahawk blog entry written by a Seattle area native in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

Though I do not often write about sports on this blog, one look at my blogger profile reveals that I follow many teams--and I follow many of them closely. With the internet game feeds and Sirius, I don't feel like an exiled fan in the Northern Great Plains being forced to watch the Minnesota Vikings or Twins. These teams have nice followings, and they are compelling franchises--they are just not part of the fabric of who I am.

The Super Bowl for me this year takes me to an exciting place--Seattle has not had a major professional sports championship since the 1979 Seattle Sonics of the National Basketball Association. As a nine year old I remember running out in to the street and jumping up and down, glad for my favorite basketball players--Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Lonnie Shelton and Downtown Freddy Brown. The yellow and green t-shirt from that season is still alive, worn by brother Beaker's wife--though with a baby on the way, I'm not sure how much longer she'll be wearing that.

As a sports fan who reads sports publications and listens to sports radio (a lot less than I used to), coverage of Seattle area teams is often muted because the density of professional teams becomes less significant the farther west one moves on the U.S. map. West Coast games are missed by most of the country because often people in the Eastern and Central times zones are moving toward their beds rather than following a team from the west. This phenomenon provides the foundation for what is commonly called in public discourse "East Coast Bias." This entry is not a debate about ECB, only to provide background for what a Seattle fan might be experiencing these days.

I feel a mild euphoria these days--euphoric that a team I have followed since my childhood has made it to football's grandest stage. The euphoria is mild because the Seahawks are not in the highest echelon of my fanhood: this is how it breaks down in echelons:

Seattle Mariners/Washington Huskies/Kansas Jayhawks
Seattle Seahawks/Edmonton Oilers
Seattle Sonics

The euphoria comes from civic pride: the cartoon above depicts one kind of Seattle fan--I like it because it is the COMPLETE opposite of what kind of fan would be found in the Northern Great Plains (let alone anywhere else in the country). This makes me proud because the culture in which I was raised is distinctive and contributes to who I am. I wonder if I could ever move back to the Northwest because I wouldn't be different anymore...

I love hearing the stories about the futility of Seattle Seahawks and sports history. I love the stories about Seattle culture. I have particulary enjoyed being a Seattle area native the past two weeks. I have run around Sioux Falls looking for people with whom I can enjoy the game, share the excitement and beam some civic pride (a difficult venture here). Thank you to the friends who will share those moments with me. I'm not sure what they're getting into. I want my team to win the game only because even though I want to remain distinct as a native of the Pacific Northwest, I wish that somehow that Seattle will not always be seen as culturally or morally inferior. I'm not sure a football game can accomplish that--but when more people tune in to the Super Bowl than any other event during the year--the Super Bowl is as good a shot as any.

I talked with my 83-year old grandmother the other day--she said to me "I never gave up on the Seahawks." I can't say that I did, either, although following the Seahawks these days is more difficult considering my Sunday obligations... My grandmother and I watched many Seahawks games together over the years. This national stage allows me special reflection over relationships in my life and a means to relate and share. Sports have provided a context for my family to become closer--an entry point to other conversations about the stuff of life.

Regardless of the outcome, I will be on the phone with my siblings and family about the meaning of this game for weeks to come--we are all meaning-seeking creatures. This meaning-making creature is ready to enjoy the game.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here's to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

During today's normal morning routine, I breezed through the Seattle newspapers. Though I spent a few minutes looking for new stories I also looked for continuing coverage of the gay civil rights bill in Washington, and some hometown perspective on the State of the Union address. One of the lead stories in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer covered a group of folks who gathered at a local pub to watch the State of the Union address. This gathering involved one of three chapters in the Seattle/Tacoma area of Drinking Liberally, groups of left leaning folks who get together over an adult beverage and talk politics.

The Drinking Liberally website offers an interesting map of its 131 chapters--I thought there might be a 50-50 chance for a chapter in South Dakota. Even though South Dakota is generally a heavily red state, this is also the state that produced George McGovern and once had two Democrat U.S. Senators (although it was questionable whether either of them were truly Democrats--Tim Johnson just voted in favor of Scalito). I think this could be an organization I support--although as public figures and pastors who are not Episcopalian--I need to have a conference with the Pastor With Whom I Sleep to consider the consequences of being a part of such an organization. The other observation of the Drinking Liberally website is that moving west along Interstate 90 from Sioux Falls--there is not another Drinking Liberally chapter until reaching Spokane. There are also no other cities over 100,000 until Spokane along I-90, either (Billings, Montana is close). An interesting correlation.

Even though the glass will be empty this morning, I raise a glass to my town of residence, Sioux Falls, South Dakota! Thanks for at least hosting a Drinking Liberally chapter. That makes my remaining time in this state a little more comforting, even though I may never join the organization. The unfortunate factor is the lowering of my righteous indignation quotient about the one dimentional nature of South Dakota politics. Righteous indignation is much more enjoyable when the blacks and white contrasts are much more stark.

Here's to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


Obama in '08--on one condition

After seeing this picture I have to say that I would at least support Barack Obama for President in 2008. I will support him on one condition. If he delivers at State of the Union address, that he would not allow any of his supporters to give ANY standing ovations during his speech. This practice is annoying regardless of political persuasion. This practice should be banned. First Amendment, Shmirst Amendment.

I changed my mind after seeing this picture of the triune doofuses--three of the whitest, most privileged guys setting the course for the country. Where is the perspective?

My fear in supporting Obama (I'm writing as if my support actually means something--forgive me), is that if he loses he will become as politically insignificant as John Edwards or John Kerry. I liked Edwards better than Kerry from the beginning. Kerry is another privileged doofus. I couldn't bring myself to vote for him (and before any libs get all huffy, my non vote for Kerry didn't mean a damn thing in South Dakota--even more of a red state than those in the South--Bush is VERY popular here) Edwards had some good ideas, but little clout or experience. Where is he now and what effect does he have after losing on the Kerry presidential ticket? Unless Feingold gives the presidency a good college try, let Hillary lose in 2008 and build up further disgust in the Bush family when Jeb wins.