Sunday, August 31, 2008


If we are scoring action over rhetoric as a determining factor of who should be President. I think that we can safely call it McCain 1, Obama 0. The Republican National Convention has been effectively suspended (except for legally necessary requirements) to respond to potentially impending natural disaster. Of course, this will not be looked at as an honestly good sign of leadership by all people, but I for one am impressed. Have you ever put together even a small conference or convention? I have. Suspension or cancellation is a huge task, and only a last resort. To do this for a political party's largest convention, and largest commercial event in a four year period is amazing.

Still not sold on a candidate, but I have to say right now it is McCain 1, Obama 0 in my play card.

But of course I am a lifelong Republican so it doesn't mean that much to those who read this. As someone who really wants to write in Ben Stein, it means a lot to me to say this.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Thoughts on McCain and Obama - "Cymru am Byth!"

The last two days have been big days in American politics, and so I thought that I would respond with my thoughts on the biggest events - Obama's acceptance speech, and McCain's Vice Presidential choice.

Obama's speech:

I am not smitten by Obama as so many people seem to be, but I do think that he is a great public speaker. As I mentioned in a previous post McCain appeared far more congenial, comfortable, well spoken, and knowledgeable in the interview session with Rick Warren than Obama did, and this completely surprised me. Even the BBC noted this.

Yet when it came to Obama's acceptance speech I expected Obama to hit it out of the park, and wow everyone. I personally was disappointed. I felt as though I was watching politics as usual. Let me explain what I mean by this.

Once the typical thank yous and acknowledgments were passed on, Obama's speech began with about 5 minutes of Bush bashing, followed by about 10 minutes of making the point that McCain is out of touch with the needs of the nation. Later in the speech he had a great rousing preacher's parlay where he talked about taking the higher ground of political discourse and not getting into bashing, but by that time I was already put off by the previous bashing which had occurred.

Bush bashing is an easy way to get a cheer in a speech these days. It is the equivalent a comedian reaching for a laugh by pulling out the four letter words simply to get the audience response. It was disappointing to hear Obama go that direction, and not take the higher ground. I have mentioned in another post that I personally feel the need to understand the positions,and beliefs of others, and that by doing so it is our only hope of rising to that higher ground Obama was speaking of.

When Obama began to talk about McCain being out of touch with political reality I felt that I was hearing the same old liberal last resort argument I have heard for the last 25 years. Liberals have their go to last resort argument, and Conservatives have their last resort arguments. These arguments typically go like this: Liberals find a way to say that Conservatives are either dumb, or out of touch with changes in society, and the second point is simply a way to restate the first. Conservatives typically call Liberals immoral or corrupt. When all else fails call someone stupid or immoral to win the argument. This is how Obama's points about McCain came across to me.

Obama did have a great ending to his speech, and his points about taking the higher ground would have been fantastic if I felt he was practicing what he preached. His section on the things he would do as President were more of the same old politics as well I thought. Some of the ideas were actually from McCain's book - the points on becoming free from dependency to foreign oil, and other points were expensive ideas followed with promises of tax cuts.

I was so disappointed that I decided I wanted to move out of the US, get some farm land in Wales, and spend my life working for Welsh independence. My response to his speech was basically "Cymru am byth!" instead of hope for America. I was not feeling good about things here at home.

This is not to say that I am writing Obama off. I rather feel that there is no real hope of serious change at the moment, and this is not to say that I am correct. The pressure to fall into politics as usual has got to be severe in the position of making an acceptance speech. One's supporters want to hear a little political fisticuffs, and they got it. I was not quite sure Obama looked all that comfortable speaking in that manner, and this at least gives me a wink of hope.

McCain's VP Choice:

Sarah Palin was a complete surprise to everyone, but I have to say, she can rip it up as a speaker.

Watching her speak (follow the above link to watch her in action) I kept my eyes on McCain. I am not sure that she is his choice. Of course, he often looks uncomfortable, but I felt as though I was watching him wonder if this was a good choice. Yet, without a doubt, McCain stole much of Obama's thunder following the acceptance speech. Hockey Mom/Youngest Person on the Ticket/Gun Toting/Beauty Queen Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin will probably steal some hearts, and drag the moral conservatives, and some women McCain's way. Sarah Palin could be a breathe of fresh air, but the verdict is still out.

"Cymru am byth" still is running through my mind right now. I need to get rich and be able to afford that farm in Wales to feel like I have a political issue to get excited about right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In North Carolina and Not Blogging

Hi Friends,

I am in Asheville with my son Elijah and his wife Rhonda. So the Blog world of Phil is quiet. What I have done is work on their home, go white water rafting on the French Broad River, eat, and I did listen to McCain and Obama talk to Rick Warren. It did give me a different view of the two men.

Up to this point I have not been a fan of either candidate, and am still leaning toward writing Ben Stein in for President, but this did make me think about these other guys running.

After seeing the two in action, and not being a fan of either candidate I think that if I was an Obama fan I would have been disappointed. I have seen him perform far better, and he did not come across as comfortable, nor as a decisive leader. His communication skills which are formidable were weaker than usual in this forum.

I would have been excited if I was a McCain fan. He spoke more eloquently, and less stilted. He was decisive in his answers, and showed some serious knowledge of both foreign and home affairs. He did come across as doing a stump speech a little too often by addressing the crowd as opposed to addressing Pastor Warren, and this would clearly be a put off for some people, but he also came across as far more personal and friendly than he does on most settings.

All in all I appreciated this look into the men running for President.

Headed home soon - perhaps a bit too soon - like tomorrow. Bev is concerned because after we had to put one of our greyhounds (Forrest) to sleep a little over a week ago, our other greyhound is at home keeping people awake at night. She has started howling when people are not around, and Bev is feeling quite bad for her. Holly and Forrest had been together as greyhound friends for at least 7 years of their post racing lives.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What is a SynchroBlog?

I have been arranging these things called SynchroBlogs for about a year and a half now. It's kind of a stupid name, which I came up with to define the experience, and during the Olympic season it sounds like two guys trying to dive together in unison, or a group of ladies doing ballet while floating in a pool with nose plugs on, but a SynchroBlog is neither of those things. One may need to wear nose plugs while reading the compendium of thoughts provided by the wildly divergent list of stinkers - uhm I mean thinkers, because we are bound to challenge your sensibilities, and perhaps even bend your sense of orthodoxy.

Our SynchroBlog is formed around a predominently Christian group of bloggers who like the idea of changing (or at least provoking) our little corner of the world. So, we all write about the same general subject, and release our thoughts on the same day. Thus it is a Synchronized Blogging event - a SynchroBlog.

Are you interested in being a SynchroBlogger? If so you can go to our SynchroBlog list server, and sign up to get updates mailed to you, and join the discussions of upcoming SynchroBlog Events. So, what are you waiting for? Join the provokers!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Theology of Poverty and our Personal Biases: A SynchroBlog

Poverty is the subject of this month's SynchroBlog, and as such I thought I would look broadly at the subject from a perspective of personal biases held both theologically, and personally by Christians I have known.

Dallas Willard identifies a bias against those who are rich as a growing phenomenon in Christianity, and in his book "The Spirit of the Disciplines" sees it as problematic to our faith. Upon first reading this book nearly 20 years ago, while living among many people of a Word of Faith persuasion I wondered whether this observation made any sense in our media and personality obsessed culture, and have come to see his observation as valid and astute over these years. In America it is often true that those in poverty are regarded as victims, and those with wealth are seen as oppressors without consideration of specifics.

It is true that the Lord identified with those in poverty, and so the Apostle Paul wrote, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Through this model of sacrificial identification, and giving groups like the Franciscans were born, and people have followed vows of poverty in various seasons throughout church history. In this manner poverty is viewed as a means of attaining the riches of heaven. By putting off the attachments to this world the discipline of poverty leads one to high places in Christ.

Twentieth century schools of thought have adapted Capitalism and Faith, which in itself may not be inherently wrong if indeed Christianity is simultaneously a subversive and transcendent system, but the resultant theologies have been embraced by some, and decried as heresies by others. Within Pentecostalism the faith movement attaches prosperity to faith in God, and poverty to a lack of faith, or more radically to the problem of sin.

For a large cross section of the church encompassing Orthodoxy, Anabaptists and growing segments of evangelicalism social action is being seen as one of the main efforts of the Gospel. Poverty is treated almost as an inherent evil to be driven out by the work of the church.

From a wholly different perspective Christianity views poverty as a spiritual issue, and bypasses the definitions given by culture, and bounded by money and the ownership of physical property. So John writes, "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich...."

Could it be that whatever school of thought we have adopted as our own has potentially played into our own spiritual poverty? Could it be that our own satisfaction in our biases about other people, and why they suffer or prosper has caused us to be those who are in need and poor when we think that we are rich? Is there still a gold we need to buy, which can not be found in the treasuries of earth? And could it be that the buying of this gold is the only thing which might make us effective solutions to the problem of poverty on earth?

Poverty SynchroBlog - Tomorrow, Wednesday August 13th

Below is the list of contributors to this month's SynchroBlog. The subject is poverty and the people contributing so far are:

Sonja Andrews: Fully Known and Fully Loved
Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Adam Gonnerman: Echoes of Judas
Cobus van Wyngaard: Luke: The Gospel for the Rich
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Steve Hayes: Holy Poverty
Jonathan Brink: Spiritual Poverty
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Jeremiah: Blessed are the poor... churches...
Alan Knox: Boasting in Humiliation
Miss Eagle: Poverty and the Hospitable Heart
Jimmie: Feeding the Poor
KW Leslie: There’s poverty, and then there’s me without cash.
Joe Speranzella: Peace and Prosperity