Monday, May 31, 2004
In honor of Memorial Day This is an amazing story (and one I wasn't previously aware of) about Central Committee representative Art Hicks: Living the Tuskegee legacy. Go read the whole thing, it's amazing, but here's a few highlights... Also recommended for today: the incredibly moving memorial to fallen U.S. soldiers of the Iraq War, Arlington West, down on the beach next to the pier.

Friday, May 28, 2004
So the Governator was here in town last night to raise $300,000 for Tom McClintock, who (in what seems to be something of an emerging tradition for his party) turns out to be a big liar. He ran a big op-ed piece on Sunday in papers around the state that, besides being the next installment in Republican immigrant baiting, turned out to be a bunch of hogwash when subject to even the most basic fact-checking. I have a problem with McClintock's view anyway - only a Republican would suggest that the way to fix a problem where some people are being denied access to higher education is to deny MORE people that same access! But since for some reason, in one of the richest states in the the richest country on earth, we consider higher education a scarce resource, reasonable people can and do disagree on that.

But the facts and numbers around this issue aren't up for debate. The LA Times has the definitive smackdown: Schwarzenegger does a good job of seeming like a moderate, but here he is, raising piles of cash for a guy who is straight from the Taliban wing of the Republican Party, someone who has no shame whatsoever in playing the middle class families of his district against the poorer ones. Because of exactly this kind of dynamic, seemingly moderate Republicans (especially famous ones) are as wrong for California as extremist ones.

His constituents here in Santa Barbara and elsewhere should ask Senator McClintock to write a retraction, post it on his website (where the story currently stands as written), and attempt to get it published in every paper that ran the original fabricated op-ed piece. What could possibly mean more to an elected representative than his honesty? I'm not going to publish the numbers for the office on here, but if you want to join me in asking the Senator to do this, they're easily available on his website.

Update: I called his Sacramento office to ask if he might do this. The person who picked up took my name & number and said they'd call back. Maybe it will happen!

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Something of a followup to the Tony Strickland post from two weeks ago: There's an interesting article over at Salon on Silicon Valley (paid registration required, but if you're not a Salon subscriber, it's cheap & very much worth it). This is a terrific summary experience of the past few years of history there... "Horowitz believes there's at least one silver lining to the thunderclouds that have hovered over the Valley during the past few years. 'The talent pool has now changed a lot, probably, in my opinion, for the better,' he says. The people who came here to make a quick buck have all gone home. The ones who remain are probably more committed to the idea of starting lasting, useful companies based on truly novel ideas, and on sticking with those firms until they start doing well. " The main lesson from all this? Greed kills. It really does. It killed one of the companies I had worked for and nearly brought me down with it. So the changes that have happened there I think are really positive. The boom busted that part of the economy out of a local minimum it was trapped in, and now the challenge is get smarter and find the sustainable paths for creating tech companies and jobs, as well as the ripple effect jobs and other economic benefits that go with them. That challenge is as true for Santa Barbara and the rest of California as it is for the Valley, despite what the Tony Stricklands of the world might think. Real, long-term, sustainable growth comes from expanding the circle of prosperity and investing in people; it definitely doesn't come from cutting taxes or trickling down on them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Definitely the last word on the BibleStudyGate story: Some state senators wear aprons to protest pastor's 'sinful' remarks, from the Sacramento Bee: Beautiful!

Monday, May 24, 2004
The LA Times covered the Legislative Bible study story on Friday, too: Pastor's Remarks Spark Furor. At the end, Pastor Drollinger says he's not interested in talking to someone unless they'll go toe to toe with him and argue from scripture. I'm not impressed by that attitude; to me, statements like that indicate a certain deadness of faith, an unwillingness to consider that events of the past 2000 some-odd years might be a part of God's unfolding plan just as the Bible is, that the Word isn't frozen in time two millenia ago. But whatever. It sounds like what the previous post might be just what he was looking for, so I'm going to drop him an email and see what he thinks.

Senator Bowen's remarks in the Times' piece made me wonder if I should've bothered. In retrospect, it is a little ridiculous. Perhaps I shouldn't have, and yet I think too often in this country we don't take the arguments the other side is making seriously enough. It's too easy just to dismiss someone, move on to something else. There are millions of people in this country that agree uncritically with Pastor Drollinger's approach to gender roles, millions of women who are subjugated (if mildly- in most cases) because of this kind of argument. So we have to push back wherever that is happening, in any form.

Friday, May 21, 2004
Damn straight I'm a Christian feminist: so was Jesus! A faxed copy of something that's been floating around a Sacramento legislative bible study recently was handed to me. It's an essay called "Holding Office While Children are at Home," and it reads like a little bit of the dark ages dropped into our 21st century existence. I'm not doing it much of an injustice to say that the main point it tries to make is that a woman's place is in the home.

It was from a Pastor Ralph Drollinger. A quick google turned up this site for his Capitol Ministries project, and a little more digging turned up the essay itself. It's worth a read, but if you're a feminist, egalitarian, or just plain prone to high blood pressure, consider yourself warned.

I'm not a trained theologian, but I was raised Lutheran and have been to my share of Sunday School classes and Bible studies. I've even read a little theology for fun, so I at least have some clue when someone's trying to hornschwaggle their readers by assuming an authoritative voice and dropping a few selectively chosen bible passages.

Pastor Drollinger skips over it quickly, but one of the primary verses that gets trotted out for this kind of argument is Ephesians 5:22-24, and especially verse 23. Practically an avalanche of Biblical passages clearly encouraging equal submission to each other (I Corinthians 7:4, 1 Peter 5:5 and Matthew 20:27, just for starters) have been ignored in favor of the one passage that seems to suggest that men should be in charge - but even this only works if the verse immediately previous to it (Eph. 5:21, "Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God") is omitted! So an isolated and easily decontextualized verse in the Epistles violates the fundamental tenents of Jesus' message, as laid out in practically every corner of the four Gospels. What to do?

Ignore it maybe, since Eph. 5:23 refers mostly to the family. Regarding the workplace (the topic of his essay) Pastor Drollinger cites two primary passages: Titus 2:4-5, which mentions women as "keepers in the home" in passing but says nothing about the primacy of that work, and Timothy 2:15, "...women shall be saved through childbearing." The commentary he cites at length regarding this latter verse makes the leap from childbearing to childraising with no scripitural basis. Timothy 2:15 also comes immediately after a verse that admonishes women not to teach - so why draw the line at serving in Sacramento? Why not follow all of Timothy Chapter 2?

All of the verses that Pastor Drollinger cites are from the Epistles, the letters that Jesus' Apostles wrote to members of the early church. Overreliance on verses from the Epistles with a paucity of input from the Gospels is typically a yellow flag in this kind of argument. In many cases, the Epistles are inspiring and dramatic. Yet in other parts, they are illustrations of how the Apostle Paul and other members of the early church started to distort and imperfectly implement Jesus' message to suit their earthly assumptions and agendas. Timothy chapter 2 is a perfect example of this. The fundamentalist focus on the question of biblical infallibility distracts us from thinking critically about what inconsistences between Paul's letters and the true fundamentals of the Gospel might really mean.

The authors of the Epistles, Pastor Drollinger and all of the rest of us humans have something in common: we all make the mistake of mostly ignoring the fundamentals of Jesus' message, which is that we simply should love. Love isn't domination; domination is a sin! This basic yet practically forgotten Gospel truth is laid out in exquisite detail in Walter Wink's Engaging the Powers - a difficult book, but one that I take every chance to recommend because it beautifuly describes the contours of the domination free order that God wants for us.

Heavy theology isn't required for this, though. Even a passing, pop-culture familiarity with the life of Jesus is a clear illustration of just how wrong domination is. If Jesus was literally the Son of God, this has to mean that He had every opportunity to rain down all manner of old-school, Old Testament style hell on the Romans. Fire, brimstone, plagues of locusts, anything. Jesus could've brought it. God was less than a phone call away. A simple prayer from Him was all it would've taken. He could've done so at any time - when Pilate convicted him, when Judas betrayed him, in the garden of Gethsemane, while hanging on the cross - but he didn't. He submitted utterly, suffered tremendously and died, and then was resurrected.

So the main point of the Gospel message is pretty simple: "Submit completely! Don't dominate! Really!" Everything else in the New Testament needs to be understood with the context of Jesus' life and his primary message in the foreground, not as an afterthought to be considered after tearing apart a handful of verses from the Epistles. In this, Pastor Drollinger's essay fails completely.

One last comment: in a pullquote towards the end of the article, Pastor Drollinger writes that "Today, Christianity is full of male-female role reversals. Is it any wonder then, why Evangelicalism has stagnated in its growth and impact on American culture?" He's got this exactly wrong. There has been a stagnation, true, but it's because of essays like this one that turn young people away from the church faster than Mel Gibson can scare them into it. History is still moving ahead, and as dark as things sometime seem, the system of domination really is crumbling before us. When anyone under 30 reads this kind of essay, it goes straight into the mental trash heap, perhaps at most with a post-it note on it that reaffirms their suspicion that "Christianity equals rigidity." Kids know the truth: it's not about enforcing tighter gender roles, or instructions on how to dominate or be dominated depending which set of genitalia we happened to get. It's supposed to be about the love. Right, Pastor?

Thursday, May 20, 2004
No comment on this one, from the WaPo (freeregistration required)...In April, Kerry's Fundraising Nearly Doubled Bush's

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
NB: This coming Monday (the 24th) is the last day to apply for a vacant spot on one of the city advisory boards (scroll down for the list of vacancies).

10:14 AM -
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Maybe because of the local angle, this is the best coverage (and the best pictures!) of the women's march from a few weeks ago that I've run into - an article by Marian Shapiro over at the SB indymedia site.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Where do they find these people? In this Sunday's News-Press, Assemblymember Tony Strickland wrote a piece about California's "reverse gold-rush" - this perception that businesses are leaving California in droves. There was something particularly odd about the piece though; think about what's wrong with this paragraph before you continue reading:

There's a massive elephant in the living room there, right? In talking about job growth in California since 1990, how on earth could anyone omit the fact that half of that time, we were headed towards full, broad-sector employment, wages were skyrocketing, and practically every region & country on the planet was scrambling to do everything they could to copy our model? How could you possibly not even mention the technology boom in a report like this?

It seems completely insane. Business folks may not be given to thinking ahead more than next month's bottom line, but that doesn't typically lead to outright stupidity, so I guessed that maybe this was just Mr. Strickland's spin on the report. California's investments in people, education & deep research - the stuff that triggered the boom - just don't jive with current flimsy Republican economic theories that are more focused on trickling down on people instead of lifting them up.

So I tracked down the California Business Roundtable's site, and I was wrong: they're apparently smoking the same stuff Mr. Strickland has gotten into. They give the technology boom all of part of a three-sentence paragraph in the executive summary, with the subhead TECH BUBBLE MASKED EROSION OF STATE’S BUSINESS CLIMATE. Umhmm. So the most significant and interesting feature of Calfornia's economy since the first gold rush - the way forward, the economy that everyone on earth was trying to copy, the model for what the economy of the 21st century could look like - is reduced to a "bubble" since it doesn't fit their particular ideological approach to creating growth. Pathetic.

As is suprisingly typical in any given copy of the News-Press, the wrong answer was found on the editorial page while the right answer was out in the news somewhere. In this case it was in the business section, in an article about Santa Barbara's Small Business Development center ...

Yes, that! Exactly!

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