“Steve is a monopolist at heart… He’s just like Bill Gates. He just hasn’t been as successful.” (>>)
“Sometimes, itâ€™s the people we choose to have in our lives that often bring the greatest reward or life support. …that moment of nuclear clarity when someone comes to you and they have your back and theyâ€™re willing to lay all the truth they can offer to you to save you from the past that might haunt, or daunt you, or turn you into a failing light. Friendship laced with real love and truth can turn all of us into superheroes.” (>>)
“Watching Hurricane Ike come in (the storm went over my home and family in Houston) you would have thought it was the end of the world. The city of Galveston sent out an alert saying all those who did not evacuate the island faced certain death. More than twenty-thousand people stayed, and nobody died. There were six deaths in Texas related to the storm, which was a decrease from how many people would have died that night were there to have been no storm. All those cars off the streets proved safer than a storm serge and one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds. (This is not to invalidate the devastation caused by the storm, which was severe and tragic) But the media ran with the story because, perhaps, tension keeps us watching. And now that the country can be called to help out in Galveston, the media has moved on to other areas in which it can create tension and sell more advertising.” (>>)
“Today, in the United States, we have a foreign policy based primarily on fear. We move back and forth between new national color codes indicating the level of danger from terrorist attack. The Office of Homeland Security regularly moves the nation to Orange Alert — the second-highest state of risk from terrorist attack.
“September 11, 2001, changed our lives, and since then, we have become a nation always living in fear. We were terrified by the murderous attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, and even after dramatic war victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, America is still afraid. Indeed, the war in Iraq was argued and justified, almost entirely, on the basis of fear. It was Trappist monk Thomas Merton who said many years ago, ‘The root of war is fear.’
“There are indeed real dangers prowling about our world. Prudence and strategic action are called for, as is much deeper reflection on the causes of these dangers. But fear can cause us to give up important things, to accept other things that violate our own best values, and even to do terrible things to other people. Fear has led us into a new foreign policy based on preemptive and potentially endless wars — which are not likely to remove our fears, and could make the dangers we face even worse.
“September 11 shattered the American sense of invulnerability. But instead of accepting the vulnerability that most of the rest of the world already lives with, and even learning from it, we seem to want something nobody can give us — to erase our vulnerability. We want it to just go away. If the government says more wars can do that, many people will say fine. If they say suspending civil liberties can do that, many will say fine. If they claim that spending more and more of our tax dollars on the military and homeland security will do it — at the expense of everything else — many will say fine. But we simply can’t erase our vulnerability, not in this world and not with the human condition being as it is. To be prudent and vigilant in the face of danger is good. But when a government offers to take away our vulnerability, it borders on idolatry.
“Bombing the children of Kabul and Baghdad created utter glee among the Osama Bin Ladens of the world, who are finally able to raise the armies of terror they’ve always dreamed of. It also deprived us of the moral high ground that the United States held in world opinion immediately after September 11 — for the first time in many years.
“In bringing to justice the few thousand estimated to be involved in murderous terrorism, our response must not inflame and infuriate the tens of millions more in the Arab world (and elsewhere) who, to use even former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s words, ‘hate our presence in parts of the world that they think we should not be in.’ That sentence must be explained for the American people. It means that many people in the world may not be mad at us for ‘our values,’ as the Bush White House continues to say, but for ‘our policies.’ But the U.S. policies that most anger people around the world are generally unknown to most Americans — and therein lies the problem with talking about this issue.
“Perhaps the religious community can play a crucial role here because it is itself an international community and not just an American one. We also should have the capacity for self-criticism and even repentance, while national governments are seldom good at either. The truth that most of the world knows is that the U.S. government has far too often supported military dictators in Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa who have murdered as many or more innocent people as Saddam Hussein. The truth is that the United States has not been an honest broker for Middle East peace and has not sought the proper balance between Israeli security and Palestinian human rights. The truth is that American and Western appetites for oil have led to a corrupt and corrupting relationship with despicable Arab regimes. The truth is that the United States sits atop and is the leader of a global economy in which half of God’s children still live on less than two dollars a day, and the United States will be blamed around the world for the structures of injustice that such a global economy daily enforces. To speak these truths is very hard, sometimes especially in American middle-class congregations, but speaking hard truths is part of the prophetic religious vocation.” (>>)
“And the first thing you think is, ‘How did I get here?’ And you think on it, and you realize that it didnâ€™t happen all at once. You made hundreds of tiny decisions along the course of your life: you were just a little mean here, you gossiped just a bit there, you went back on your word (for a really good reason, it seemed) here. And every decision felt so small and so inconsequential that you didnâ€™t realize that little by little, you were becoming a colder person. A person you didnâ€™t intend to become.” (>>)
“On Nov. 4, Christians will not be able to vote for the kingdom of God. It is not on the ballot.” (>>)
“Poor Marny, one of your oldest friends. She meant nothing by it, just an innocent comment. She’s probably the last person in the world who would ever be insensitive, but see, you’re always ready to fight. You’ve got that single-parent rage, that black-single-mother defensiveness, combined with your own naturally ready-be-indignant/aggressive tendencies, inherited from our mom. I mean, tonight, when you finally go to bed, you’ll lie there and think of things you’d do to people who would come in here and do me harm. You’ll picture all manner of murders in my defense. Your visions will be vivid and horrifically violent, mostly you and a baseball bat, with you taking out on whoever would invade our sanctuary the cumulative frustration you feel from all of this, our present situation, the walls and parameters set up already, the next ten, thirteen years laid out, more or less spoken for, and also the general anger you feel, have felt not just since Mom and Dad died–that would be convenient if it were true–but it began well before that, you know this, the anger coursing through the marrow of kids growing up in loud, semi-violent alcoholic households, where chaos is always…
“And best of all, for you at least, you finally have the moral authority you craved, and have often exercised, ever since you were very young — you used to go around the playground chastising the other kids for swearing. You didn’t drink alcohol until you were eighteen, never did drugs, because you had to be more pure, had to have something over the other people. And now your moral authority is doubled, tripled. And you use it any way you need to. That twenty-nine-year-old, for instance, you’ll break up with her after a month because she smokes […]
“…but it’s the way you’ll tell her, the way you’ll sort of shame her, mentioning that not only did your parents die of cancer, your father of lung cancer, but that you don’t want the smoke around your little brother, blah blah, and it’s the way you’ll say it, you’ll want to make this poor woman feel like a leper, particularly because she rolls her own cigarettes, which even I admit is kind of doubly sad, but see, you want her to feel like a pariah, like a lower form of life, because that’s what, deep down, you feel she is, what you feel anyone tethered to any addiction is. And now you feel that you have the moral authority to pass judgment on these people, that because of your recent experiences, you can expound on anything, you can play the conquering victim, a role that gives you power drawn from sympathy and disadvantage–you can now play the dual role of product of privilege and disenfranchised Job. Because we get Social Security and live in a messy house with ants and holes in the floorboards you like to think of us as lower class, that now you know the struggles of the poor — how dare you! — but you like that stance, that underdog stance, because it increases your leverage with other people. You can shoot from behind bulletproof glass.” (>>)
“I haven’t memorized all of the cute things to say,
but I’m working on it.” (>>) [MP3]
“I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that we buried my father this Spring. But there are days now when we pan back on a chapter that’s ending, and the overwhelming feeling is, We had so little time. The years vanished. Take care what you hang a life on.” (>>)